On Marriage

John had met a really nice girl named Mary. John had met the really nice girl named Mary when she showed up at Baker Street and hired the two of them (her father was missing, and she'd been receiving threatening emails that the police couldn't trace). Sherlock had made quick work of it, refused the money, and pretended not to see when Mary squeezed John's hand with her own.

John liked to talk about the really nice girl named Mary. At length. How she was a teacher (primary, in Chelsea), how good she was with the kids (John had taken her lunch last Wednesday), how she took care of her little brother (who'd come back from Iraq with an arm missing, which meant John spent a great deal of time talking about him too), her two cats and her one dog (Romeo, Valentine and Viola), what it was like growing up in Mumbai with her rich business tycoon of a father (they moved often to keep up with the money). He only seemed to stop talking about the really nice girl named Mary when Lestrade came calling with a case, and one time when it quite literally fell onto their doorstep (a goose, with a blue gem in its throat, straight out of the sky).

When Sherlock had John out on the streets (leaping over cement barriers after the sniveling head of a local drug cartel and then laughing brightly about it as the uniforms dragged him away), John didn't talk about the really nice girl named Mary. John talked about the really smart man named Sherlock. How his choice in footwear was impractical (sure, designer looked nice, but it really didn't hold up well in a long distance chase), how he hadn't eaten in three days (four, if he didn't count the hardly-touched lasagna at Angelo's), how he almost sounded like a real person when he laughed (and how John liked hearing it, though he didn't look at Sherlock when he said so), and he didn't say how much he loved nights of pounding feet on newly-wet asphalt (but Sherlock knew).

But then a dry spell came, and John would take a brown paper bag in one hand and an umbrella in the other and take the tube out to Chelsea. He took her to the Tate, and they went to a little Indian place near her flat (he smelled of curry when he got back, still carrying the umbrella but not the bag). Sherlock had to scrape terrible things on his violin to keep out the noise about the really nice girl named Mary.

Sherlock would have cared less if John would talk about anything else. But it was an endless stream about the really nice girl named Mary.

Sherlock considered asking Mycroft for an obscene amount of money to buy her off (but that would mean talking to Mycroft, or worse yet, owing Mycroft a favor). He wondered if he oughtn't invite her on a particularly vile, disgusting case to show her the sort of life John lived (it had certainly worked with Sarah, though he wasn't sure if he could concoct a convincing kidnapping in time). Perhaps he could write her an anonymous email outlining the worst of John's habits (and perhaps invent a few that would be sure to scare her away).

One day, a Thursday three weeks after John had asked the really nice girl named Mary to their first date, John made an offhanded comment. He said, "Mary's a really nice girl. The sort you take home and marry."

There was a sudden wrenching pain in Sherlock's chest, and it was infuriatingly persistent. It curled up and twisted, burrowing a spiral into his center. He hadn't known how quickly he'd sat up on the sofa until his head was swimming and his eyes danced with lights. There was a vague sort of snap, and Sherlock realized that there had at one point been an entire pencil in his hand that had somehow split completely in two while he was clutching it.

Sherlock wasn't even sure it's his own voice (whose would it have been? It came from his mouth, after all) that snapped: "Mary can go to hell."

They had an argument after that (partially about what was appropriate to say about women, partially about what Sherlock had done to the professional-looking, name-inlaid pencil Mummy Holmes had sent John on his birthday), and it was Sherlock who was shouting the loudest.

Curled into himself under his sheets, clutching his knees to his chest and trying to stop the hateful, thunderous pounding of his heart, Sherlock regretted it. Not the words he had said about the really nice girl named Mary (he had come to the personal conclusion that she really wasn't very nice at all, and that she was purposefully driving a wedge between the two of them), but the way it had made John's face twist and snarl. Sherlock ignored the alien feeling pricking the back of his throat and listed off the periodic table in his head until he drifted off to sleep.

They were saved the morning awkwardness when someone tried to shoot Sherlock through the sitting room window. John had charged outside, into the building across the street, up three flights of stairs and tackled the woman before she could finish packing her rifle. All in his pajamas and robe. He held her until the sirens arrived (shouting abuses at the back of her head, asking again and again who'd sent her until she cried out that she didn't know; she only had a piece of paper with a name and a threat).

John checked a slightly dumbfounded and very flattered (and unusually silent) Sherlock for injury, touched his cheek softly, then disappeared to get dressed. After he had gone to Scotland Yard to give a statement, he left to see the really nice girl named Mary.

It was dark when John got back, but he came back. Sherlock broke his careful silence only twice. First to say a long-belated "Thank you" to the man who had grappled with his sniper. Second (after a long pause), to utter a solemn and very quiet "Sorry." He most definitely wasn't sorry about the things he had said about the really nice girl named Mary, but he would have liked John to think he was.

Sitting as might a gargoyle in his chair long after John had gone to bed, Sherlock combatted with himself. Fought to find reason in the sharp, unplanned words, the snapped pencil, the hot feeling in his ears when John tilted his head toward him and smiled very slowly (showing his teeth, the lines around his mouth and eyes). It was all the fault of that really nice girl named Mary. And it was going to come to a head in the morning.

He intercepted John when he had set the water on for tea. Pinned the smaller man with his eyes and took entirely too long to come up with what he wanted to say (even if he had purposefully planned at least eight scenarios the sleepless night before).

"Don't ask her to marry you." It was cold instruction. His fingers were shaking and he wasn't quite sure why (perhaps low blood sugar, though it had never bothered him before).

"Why not?" This time, John wasn't angry. Maybe a bit. But he was listening, and he wasn't shouting.

"Because I want you." It was all very obvious from Sherlock's point of view, and it was clear that Sherlock's needs were much more important than the really nice girl named Mary's. And all too late, Sherlock realized that his mouth had moved too quickly (ahead of his brain for the first time since he was nine years old and called his violin teacher a witless prat). He attempted to fix it, but John had already registered the slip, and now Sherlock's sudden (fingers shaking) cover-up. "Need you," he corrected. And, in a spectacular bit of verbal blundering, continued belatedly, "for the work."

He was terrified. He hadn't felt terrified since he'd seen John step out of a changing stall with a parka too big for him, eyes blinking too quickly (his hands hadn't shaken then). He was terrified because he suddenly realized why he hated that really nice girl named Mary, and why he didn't want John to fall in love with her, marry her, move away to the country and have a dozen blond-haired, blue-eyed children. Terrified because he'd never looked this in the face before, had to stare it down with slowly-understanding eyes staring right back up.

Sherlock was horribly, hideously, sickeningly, unequivocally in love with John.

He must have backed away; his hip hit the table, jostled experiments and delicate glass things, which made a terrible screech of wood on tile. He didn't know what he would have done if John hadn't followed that step back (turned and run like a guilty man, locked himself in his room and starved to death. Or at least until someone had broken down the door). But John did step forward, stepped right into Sherlock's space, close enough to see Sherlock's throat bob with a swallowed breath he didn't know he took.

And John took Sherlock's angled face in both of his hands, said something in a calming voice (something that Sherlock couldn't hear for all the terrible buzzing in his head). Then, John stood up on his toes and pressed his lips to Sherlock's.

He needed air. His head was spinning too quickly, all the blood in him suddenly very hot and pressing up against his skin. Didn't want to open his eyes for fear that it was the room that was spinning and not his head after all. He hadn't even known they were closed until he was determined to keep them closed. His hands pressed tightly overtop of John's, keeping calloused fingers on his skin. It was only one kiss, but it was one hell of a kiss.

There was a second kiss after that (one that Sherlock started, this time, leaning down to meet John and clutching the sides of his face), and an even longer time after that, a third.

And when Sherlock's nerves couldn't be held back any longer and he started to shake, John forced him into bed (a medical man would know he'd gone without sleep for a good three days). He didn't fall asleep until John had crawled in with him, allowing Sherlock to hold tightly onto him from behind. Hands clutched in one huge nest next to John's heart. John didn't relax until the staccato breath on his neck finally smoothed.

In the hazy afternoon, John woke from a doze he hadn't realized he'd slipped into, but didn't stir to wake Sherlock. He waited, smiled to himself, focused on the movement of Sherlock's chest against his back (even the breath from that man's lungs was wonderful). When he finally did wake up, he'd at first gone stiff and scared, back to the terrified look of a man cornered against a kitchen table. And then he'd tried to explain, which got him nowhere fast (words sticking in his throat like peanut butter).

And then John said, "I know." They both smiled (maybe a bit unsure, maybe scared out of their minds, but ready).

The really nice girl named Mary got a call from the really pleasant doctor named John she had been telling her little brother about nonstop since she'd met him. John said that he was sorry, but there was a really smart man named Sherlock that he cared about very much, who needed him.

AN: Well. I tried something a little different with this one (very little dialogue, when these two I usually consider dialogue-heavy). Gosh, I hope it works out for me. This one just kinda came out, but I like it. Also, the stuff about Mary is based on Mary Morstan of canon. A bit. She probably didn't have two cats and a dog. But she was a governess who grew up with her father in India. ANYWAY, I really hope you enjoyed, leave some love, and don't forget to STAY AWESOME!