A/N: Sherlock doesn't belong to me in any way. I don't even own the DVD's since I live in Germany and they are soooo slow here! Curse you, you slowpokes!
Spoilers: Teeny tiny bit for the pilot 'A Study in Pink' but I just assume that you've all seen that by now.
Pairing: SherlockxJohn pre-slash OR strong friendship. I wrote it with the intention of writing a pre-slash story but be my guest, read into it whatever you like.
Beta/Dedication: This story was once again beta'd by the awesome PrincessNala and at the same time dedicated to her for putting up with my insane ramblings and encouraging them. I would probably be a much more sane person without you as a 'sounding-board' but I always thought sanity was overrated so it's all well. :)
My second Sherlock story, so feedback will be loved since I'm still a bit insecure whether I got the characters and the mood right.
Enough chit-chat, on with the story!
Jealousy is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure (…)
- Maya Angelou -
Like Salt in Food
"Victim is Mary Santiago, 24 years old. Lived alone and worked as a secretary. She was strangled-"
"-and died approximately five hours ago." Lestrade finished, completely ignoring Sherlocks interruption. The interaction between the two men was a familiar sight by now and John couldn't help but smile. They reminded him of bickering children, although he would never tell them of course. Lestrade may put him in handcuffs and Sherlock... oh, Sherlock had all kind of methods to punish you without laying a hand on you.
The smile died when his eyes fell on the body of the dead woman and he scolded himself for his drifting thoughts. While Sherlock had made him giggle at a crime scene once, he didn't feel guilty about that since the man had killed a lot of people. And not to forget the fact that it had been John who had put an end to the cabbies sick games.
This was different though. Mary Santiago hadn't killed anyone – at least as far as he knew – and although he didn't know her he was certain that she deserved more respect.
He turned everything out and examined the dead body on the floor. Mary Santiago's corpse was twisted in a way that reminded him of a broken puppet. The deep purple contusion circling her throat stood horribly out on her otherwise death pale skin. Lifeless green eyes stared at the ceiling, a look of horror fixed on her youthful face.
Although he'd seen his fair share of just what human beings were capable of, John didn't think he would be able to get used to this. Dead bodies covering the desert were still something else than strangled women in London, his beloved home. It always made him wonder how people could do these things to each other when there was enough sorrow and misery out there.
Sherlock Holmes however didn't endeavor in musings like that and that was probably a good thing. It certainly allowed him to lean over the dead woman's body and sniff her neck so casually as if nothing was amiss.
Donovan screwed up her nose as she watched him work and John rolled his eyes. Sherlocks actions were queer, most of the time, but he got the results they wanted. He just wished she would finally get over her issues, whatever they may be.
"What are you doing now, Freak?" she sneered.
Lestrade shot her a look that clearly said 'I can't deal with this right now' but Sherlock simply ignored her and strolled to the dressing table in the corner of the bedroom. He spent a few minutes examining the various bottles of perfume he found there before he waved a hand into Lestrade's general direction. Everyone knew that this was the signal to get ready to write everything he said down.
"The killer is a woman. Probably about five inches taller than the victim, brown, long hair and considerably wealthy. They probably got into an argument that got out of control. This murder wasn't planned but still brutal which suggests that the killer was in a blind rage. When she realized what she had done she left quickly, not bothering to destroy her tracks."
John was amazed, as always, and even Donovan looked slightly impressed, although still unconvinced.
"HOW in the world could you know that?"
Sherlock exhaled a long suffering sigh and glanced at John who tried to hide his smile. A small twitch of Sherlock's lips was all he saw before the consulting detective turned back to the copse.
"It's simple Donovan. Especially you as a woman should have recognized the smell on the victims neck. It's a perfume for women only and very expensive. I didn't see it on Santiago's dressing table and the state of her flat indicates that she would never be able to afford such an expensive scent."
"And why do you think that this wasn't planned? And the brown hair?" John asked when Sherlock didn't continue on his own and Sally was too busy to sniff the woman's neck.
"Well, see the flower petals by the door? They are still fresh but I don't see the bouquet belonging to them. That suggests that the killer brought it, maybe as a gift, and took it with her again when she left after the murder. I think it's highly illogical that someone would bring the person they are planning to kill flowers. As for the hair-" here he shot Lestrade a little smirk. "Santiago fought fiercely. She managed to pull some of the killers hair out as you will see when you lift her left hand just a little."
The DI didn't do that, just muttered under his breath and made a note of the new evidence in his notebook. "Something else you might want to add?" he asked, and John couldn't decide whether he sounded sincerely hopeful or just plain sarcastic.
It didn't seem to matter to Sherlock either way. "You should probably know that the killer and Santiago were a couple." he said in a bored voice, sounding as if his mind was already on the next case.
Lestrade did a double take and scratched his head. "Are you sure? She was-"
"Oh please, the signs are everywhere!" Sherlock huffed but didn't elaborate any further. It was a testament of Lestrade's dependency on the eccentric man that he didn't demand an explanation but just wrote it down in his book with a little shrug. "Who found the corpse again?"
"Her neighbor. Alan Hayes. He wanted to bring her the stuff he'd borrowed a few days ago. Instead found the door unlocked and Santiago like this."
"I want to question him." Sherlock said and took John's arm to guide him out of the room. John had noticed that his friend seemed to touch him an awful lot for a while now. Whether it was a hand on his arm like now or just the brushing of shoulders when Sherlock passed him in a doorway; he always seemed to find a reason to touch him.
It didn't bother him all that much, certainly not as much as it should. He just wondered what his flatmate's deal was and whether anyone else had noticed?
"He's in his flat." Lestrade shouted after them and when John looked back over his shoulder it was just in time to see a bemused little smile on the Inspectors face.
Apparently, others had noticed...
The interview was mostly uneventful except for the fact that Alan Hayes seemed to be watching John an awful lot. The ex-army surgeon tried to ignore it but couldn't help but think that this amount of attention wasn't quite normal. Sherlock, in all his social awkwardness, noticed it too of course, but didn't pay it any mind since it had nothing to do with the case.
After a few minutes Sherlock excused himself for a moment to speak to Lestrade. John wanted to go with him but he knew that he didn't have a good reason to do so. And if he knew his flatmate at all he also knew that Sherlock would have no qualms about pointing that out in front of their witness. While he didn't like the way the man looked at him, he didn't want to appear rude either.
There was nothing left for him to do but hope that the detective didn't take long. He tried to distract himself with the contemplation of a painting. Too bad that the painting hung behind Hayes' right shoulder so he couldn't possibly miss the way the man leaned back in his seat, mustering him from head to toe. What was up with that bloke?
"So, Sherlock Holmes, huh?" said bloke drawled and John was forced to look at him. Damn him and his good manners! "Interesting fella."
"Quite so." John supplied dryly and cursed his luck that he was sitting with his back to the door. That would make it a lot more difficult to shoot it unobtrusive glances to see if Sherlock was coming back yet.
Hayes chuckled, although what about, John couldn't say. "But I have to say that he's not quite as interesting as someone else I've met today."
John froze for a second. This couldn't possibly mean what he thought it sounded like, right? He glanced at the man in front of him cautiously and when he saw that leering smile he knew that, yes, Hayes really was flirting with him.
The thought that someone was trying to put the moves on him really shouldn't have made him feel as uncomfortable as he did right now. It was ridiculous really, how the suggestive comment of some guy could throw him for a loop – him, Dr. John Watson, who'd served in the army and had seen the horrors of war. This should have been nothing more but a tiny blip on his, as his sister liked to call it, 'freak o' meter'.
But maybe it shouldn't be that surprising after all. When he'd been in Afghanistan he didn't have to deal with romantic advances of any kind and when he'd been back in London he'd been too preoccupied with the pile of shards that his life now consisted of to even notice those who might have been interested in him. This had to be the first time in many years that another person was openly flirting with him. And a man on top of that! John supposed that, in light of that, he was allowed to freak out a little bit.
It took him a few seconds to realize that Hayes was already talking again. "It must be really exciting to work with him though."
"Yeah well, not as exciting as living with him." John didn't know why he said that. Maybe because it was the truth but maybe he just really wanted to get this man off his back.
It looked like his plan had worked for Hayes flinched back as if John had just punched him in the gut before a disappointed pout settled on his face. "Oh, so you two are-?"
"No, we are not." John huffed and sighed. It was an automatic response by now. He hadn't known Sherlock for more than a month and he was already painfully used to other people assuming that the two of them were a couple. No matter how much he denied the fact, they would just look at him with that knowing smile and keep gossiping about the two of them behind their backs. At first it had bothered John to some extent but when he'd realized that Sherlock himself was totally indifferent to the whole dilemma, he'd guessed that he shouldn't let these people get to him either. They thought what they wanted to think anyway and if they wanted to think that someone as incredibly as Sherlock could really want someone as ordinary as John – well, who was he to contradict them?
It was really just an automatic reflex by now, but the doctor realized that he should have bitten his tongue when Hayes perked up again.
"Ah, no boyfriend then? I find that hard to belief."
John refused to blush like a catholic schoolgirl but knew that he'd failed utterly when the man in front of him chuckled and winked at him. It was so cliché that it was almost original again.
"No, no boyfriend." A cynical voice in his head wondered why he didn't add 'And not interested to have one either' but since he really didn't have an answer to that question he decided that he could just as well ignore it for now.
"Just like me then." Hayes said and John suddenly experienced a strong sense of déjà vu. This conversation seemed awfully familiar all of a sudden. John couldn't help the amused smile that tugged at his lips when he finally realized how Sherlock might have gotten the wrong idea that day in the restaurant.
Smiling right then turned out to be one of the many mistakes he'd already made since Sherlock had left the room. Hayes, of course, totally misinterpreted it. John suddenly found himself leaning back into the cushions to avoid Hayes, who was leaning forward and putting his hands on the doctors thighs. Not only was the gesture much too intimate for John's taste, but he also found himself rather trapped on the couch now.
Hayes didn't seem to notice his discomfort. "Why don't we change that. I know a nice little restaurant right around the corner."
After the shock of being touched 'there' by a total stranger passed, John felt the stupor make room for righteous anger.
How dare this man breaching his personal space like that? Acting like he and John were good friends? John hadn't begrudged Hayes the flirting. If he looked past the discomfort the man had caused him he had to admit that he was a bit flattered by the attention and interest the guy displayed in him. He knew that he would win no super model contest with his looks and the fact that a much younger man found him attractive had significantly boosted the doctors ego.
But touching him without his consent, even if it were only the thighs, was going too bloody far and John was not willing to put up with that from anyone.
He was just about to push him away and give the man a piece of his mind, when out of nowhere a hand shot out and grabbed Hayes' left wrist. John was pretty sure that he just imagined the sound of bones grinding against each other. But when Hayes cried out in pain and desperately tried to rip his limb free he wasn't so sure anymore. The assailant didn't let go however and it took John only a second to recognized the long, lean fingers that were wrapped around Hayes' wrist.
He would recognize those anywhere.
Sherlock Holmes was leaning menacingly over Hayes who had slid from the couch to the ground and was now kneeling before the detective like a child begging for forgiveness. Sherlock's face was an unmoving mask but John had already realized that, when his flatmate was concerned, the emotions were lurking in his eyes. And those were afire with anger, indignation and something else. Something that John had never seen there before and therefore couldn't quite identify.
The army surgeon watched in disbelief as his friend twisted the captured limp until Hayes was openly sobbing. If John wouldn't have been so completely baffled and speechless he might have tried to intervene and get Sherlock to back off. He was still a doctor after all and if that wrist wasn't already broken, then it would only be a matter of seconds before he'd hear the bones break under Sherlocks unrelenting hold.
"Dr. Watson has no desire to stay in your company. As you would have noticed if you'd bothered to watch his body language. We will go now."
The detective gave the wrist a last vicious squeeze before he finally let go. The same hand that had inflicted so much pain just mere seconds ago was now gently taking John's elbow, pulling him off the couch and leading him out of the flat. John followed numbly and they were already in the hallway when he found his voice again.
"What was that?"
"Whatever do you mean?" Sherlock asked and it infuriated John to no end that his voice was so steady and calm while he himself barely managed not to screech. He stopped, forcing the detective to stop as well since he still had a hold of his arm.
"You know what I mean."
His friend sighed dramatically as if he couldn't believe that he really had to explain his actions to another human being when they were so very obvious. "I was under the impression that you didn't welcome Alan Hayes advances and deemed it necessary to intervene."
Sherlock almost growled Hayes name but John hardly noticed. He was too busy glaring at his friend and pressing his lips into a thin line. 'That bloody pillock...'
"Well, you needn't have bothered." He snapped and almost missed the brief flash of that strange emotion he'd already witnessed when Sherlock had more or less tortured Hayes mere minutes ago.
Sherlock practically sneered and his next words were clipped and harsh. "I understand. So Hayes' advances were welcomed after all. Please do forgive me John for intruding your romp-"
This time John did screech. "ROMP? God Sherlock, there was no bloody romp! And of course I didn't want Hayes attention. I'm just saying that you needn't have bothered because I'm not some damsel in distress that needs a savior. I can take care of myself."
The consulting detective took a step forwards, towering over the smaller doctor.
"Excuse me but it didn't look like you were taking care of the problem. It actually looked like you were quite out of your depth."
"Out of my-?" John spluttered. "Now wait a minute. I was just about to tell that guy to piss off when you came barreling in like... like.."
Sherlock cocked an eyebrow. "Like?"
John remembered the emotion he thought he'd seen in Sherlock's eyes and searched for the right word. Only one came to mind and that couldn't possibly be right but he wasn't willing to let his flatmate have the last word.
"Like you were jealous."
The detective laughed mockingly but it didn't ring quite right. "Me? Jealous? Please John, don't insult your own intelligence. I'm a high functioning sociopath. Pathetic emotions like 'jealousy' are beneath me."
John rolled his eyes. "So, you try to tell me that the little display a moment ago wasn't beneath you?"
Sherlock narrowed his eyes but before their discussion could grow into a full-blown argument, they were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Both men turned to see Lestrade standing in Santiago's doorway, watching them with a mischievous smile.
John suddenly noticed how close he and Sherlock were standing to each other and that he still felt the warm presence of long fingers around his arm. He took a quick step back and the hand on his arm lingered and followed a moment, as if reluctant to let go, before it disappeared.
If possible, Lestrade's smile grew even wider. "Are you lovebirds done now? We still have a murder to solve, you know?"
John blushed, something he did an awful lot today he noticed, but Sherlock merely crossed his arms and glared at the Investigator.
"You underestimate me again, Lestrade. I already know who the murderer is."
The twitching of his left eyebrow was the only indication that Lestrade was surprised. "Tell me."
In that moment Hayes stumbled out of his flat, holding a wet towel to his wrist. He looked fairly composed again but when he saw Sherlock standing there he froze on the spot and his face lost all color. John was beginning to feel sorry for the man. Sherlock must have given him quite a scare.
No one was more surprised than John however, when the detective suddenly pointed right at the quivering man. "He did it."
Hayes looked on the verge of collapse while Lestrade did a double take. "Sorry but; What?"
Sherlock waved his arms into the air, a clear sign that he was getting impatient. "He murdered her. Go on, arrest him already."
"I didn't do anything! God, I swear, I didn't!" Hayes cried.
Lestrade didn't look convinced either. "Didn't you say it was a woman?"
Sherlock was probably about to launch into a long winded explanation but John put an end to it before he could even start. He knew exactly what was happening here, he just didn't know whether he should be angry or break into hysterical laughter. It was appalling how... childish Sherlock could be.
He fixed his friend with his best stare, the one he'd learned in the army, the one that said 'Don't you try messing with me, you won't like the results'.
The self-proclaimed sociopath stood his ground longer than any of the soldiers had ever done but in the end, even he had to submit to 'the look'.
"Oh fine! He didn't kill her, but knows who did. Santiago and him have the same stamp on the back of their hands. A stamp which is used as entrance to the gay bar just around the corner. From the fact that the colors of the stamp are faded to the same degree I deduce that they visited the club together, probably two days ago. Either Mary met her murderer there or she already accompanied them. No matter what, he'll know who she bedded with lately."
Lestrade muttered something about bipolar consultants as he led the traumatized Hayes back into his flat and closed the door behind him. John was amused to note that Sherlock wouldn't quite meet his eyes when they were alone again.
"Sooo," he drawled. "Pathetic emotions are so beneath you, aren't they?"
Sherlock wrinkled his nose but John didn't miss the wry smirk that hushed over his face. "I don't know what you mean. My acting skills will have shaken Hayes enough to spill everything he knows. I'm certain that, by tonight, Lestrade will have his killer."
"If you say so." John said softly, an affectionate smile brightening his features. Sherlock stared at him for a long time, seemingly trying to take everything about him in, memorizing every little detail that was John Watson. His stare was even more intense than Hayes' had been but this time it didn't make John uncomfortable.
Not at all.
Sherlock opened his mouth, looked like he wanted to say something very important, but then closed it again and shook his head.
"We should better go before-" They heard a muted curse and seconds later Lestrade screaming Sherlocks name. John couldn't help but laugh at the expression on his friends face. "Before our good inspector notices that I broke his witness."
As the two of them ran down the hallway, a furious Lestrade shouting after them, John thought that a Sherlock that had discovered the pathetic emotion called 'jealousy', would probably mean even more trouble for him.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N: So, loved it? Hated it? I'm thinking about turning this into a collection of One-Shot's/drabbles circling around the different forms of jealousy - in friendship and love. But first I'd like to know whether there's any want for a collection like that, so tell me! Plotbunnies are welcomed as well, of course! :D