First impressions are wonderful things. If you're careful, they can be lasting. If you're unlucky, they'll never fade.
Here are the first impressions Sherlock Holmes often trailed behind him like so much dirty glitter: Brilliant. Ruthless. Remarkable. Arrogant. Powerful. Vicious. Well-dressed. Predatory. Dramatic. Inhuman. Beautiful. Cold.
"Open your mouth."
John Watson would have had a few choice phrases to add to that stupid list, if any one had asked. No one ever did.
"Sherlock you have to eat."
"Just a little."
For the fifth time in fifteen minutes John Watson held a sandwich up to his flatmate's mouth. His flatmate did not bite.
Once, many months ago John had asked Sherlock what purpose starving himself served. "It's pointless. Even machines need fuel." Sherlock's answer had surprised him.
"Hunger gives me power, John. Focus. Resolution. By mastering this most basic part of my body I also master my mind." He'd smiled then. "Besides, too much fuel just floods a machine's engine."
Sitting catty-corner to Sherlock at the kitchen table, John watched his lover watching nothing. He'd been sitting there for a half hour, coaxed from his bed by the promise of hot tea he'd ended up not drinking. John looked at him. Paper. That's what Sherlock looked like. As if he'd been cut out from a piece of paper and propped on the chair. He looked flat.
John knew why, of course. Sherlock couldn't solve every case, even he knew that. But this time the detective had actually seen the suffering caused by the crime; was there for the dying. He never had been before.
"Please, Sherlock. For me. One bite. Or drink the tea at least."
The detective glanced at the sandwich that persistently hovered and imagined John feeding children at a hospital. Could see it clear as day, John the friendly doctor who would take the time to talk to a sick child. To bring a treat. To spoonfeed the second mouthful to a little one after he'd pretended to eat—and relish—the first. John of the infinite patience. John of the infinite love. John, John, John who never stopped trying.
"Stop trying, John."
What use was it anyway? John could work for a hundred years to make him a better person and for one hundred and one of them Sherlock would screw up, miss a vital clue, say the wrong word, and—
The detective's head whipped around, his mouth dropped open, and he looked as if a hive of angry bees had just materialized in the chair next to him. The sandwich was shoved against his mouth and he bit it despite himself.
John was no Sherlock, but he observed and was perfectly capable of making deductions based on those observations. After a year of living with this over-large child prodigy, after nearly nine months of being his lover, he knew of the man's sometimes crippling depressions, his self-doubts, his persistent belief that being a genius meant that he had to—must be—perfect. And he'd learned the best way to help his lover past these times was to go wherever his gut led him.
"Don't bore me Sherlock."
That lovely mouth fell open again (this was going better than planned), and John shoved the sandwich against it. More biting, chewing.
"Telling me what to do with my time is boring. And it's worse when I'm bored because I don't have half the resources you do to combat the boredom. So shut up and stop being boring."
Surprise. Open. Shove. Bite. Chew. Swallow.
"Do what you do so well. Impress me. You say that you can delete things from your 'hard drive.' Well prove it. Delete this case. Write over it. Erase the damn thing."
Sherlock was still wallowing around inside his head, John could see it, could see the snit as it crawled onto the detective's face, could practically hear the cutting remark as it formed, pithy and brief. "Stuff it. Whatever you were going to say, you can just stuff it. Or better yet, stuff this."
This time Sherlock didn't bite right away, instead he briefly leaned over and closed his lips around a dab of mustard on the back of John's hand, sucking it away without being aware he did it.
An idea flickered in John's mind briefly; just a flicker and then it was gone. He shook his head. "Now answer me because you love me Sherlock. You do, don't you? Actually, answer that. I need to hear the words."
Sherlock's brow furrowed and he leaned forward in his chair a little, mouth open like a baby bird. John lifted a spoonful of soup into it this time, then another and another when Sherlock stayed there, waiting again and again to be fed.
Finally the not-quite-as-thin-as-before man said, "I know that you know that I love you John. I know that you're asking me to say it because you're trying to make me stop thinking. But I'll let you play this transparent mind game because as we all know, I love to hear my own voice and so here are the details, all lined up: I love you so much that I eat. I eat food every day when before…well I don't know what I ate or how much or when. I've put on six and a half pounds since you've moved in and frankly I hate it, it makes me feel heavy and thick and slow, but I will try to eat because if I don't eventually you stop eating, too. Yes, yes you do.
"I will also sleep more not because I need it or because it makes you smile when I cuddle up to you at night, or because it makes you randy as a rabbit to wake up to me some mornings, but because you don't dream when I'm with you, you sleep in peace.
"I'll also have sex with you whenever you want me because it makes you love me more, need me more, want me more, which means that maybe you'll stay, or stay longer than you would if I didn't. And sex makes you happy. And smarter—Yes, yes it does! Though I think it makes me dumb for awhile, but that's okay, it passes the time—don't give me that face, I don't mean it's like watching telly or something, I mean it…it takes me out of my head and…and it puts me in yours and that's a very nice place to be, all right?
"Also for you I will not use drugs, because well, when I'm with you I don't need them. Even boredom is better with you John. I'll still complain about it but at least, with you, well it's not so bad.
"So yes John H. Watson, doctor of medicine, soldier of war, lover of one grateful Sherlock Holmes, I do love you. All right?" In final punctuation, Sherlock leaned forward again, and opened his mouth.
The soup was a long time coming. John was a little busy pretending he had something in his eye. Well, both of them.
It wasn't until much later that night, as he lay awake in bed, Sherlock curled around him and sleeping the sleep he claimed he did not need, that the good doctor remembered his flickery idea from the afternoon.
John grinned wolfishly into the dark. Such a simple, elegant sexy little idea it was. So perfect. He finally knew how to get Sherlock to eat. To want to eat. To absolutely, god damn love it.
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