Sherlock wasn't going to make the same mistakes he made with Sally. When the subject came up again, said he was married to his work. John said it was all fine.
Everyone at the yard thought there had to be something between them but Donovan was the only one to corner John and ask outright. The drink in her hand might have had something to do with it, or it could have been an excuse for something she intended to do anyway.
"So…you and the fr…Sherlock?" Somehow, they had a table together in the corner. Sherlock was around, arguing with someone from forensics who wasn't Anderson and who actually seemed to get on with Sherlock a bit. Surprisingly, the forensics guy didn't even look like he wanted to be rescued; Lestrade had already intruded on them twice to berate them for discussing work in their down time and neither had taken the chance to escape. It didn't look like anyone was inclined to rescue John from Donovan.
"We're friends," John tried to tell her. She was leaning on her elbows, her stance slightly flirtatious without being too forward. People would probably talk, later, about John and Sally's 'secret tryst'. People always talked.
"I knew he was gay," she said, not seeming to listen to a word he was saying, "Just make sure he isn't using you. Leading you on, you know? He uses people."
"He helps people," John answered, nursing his own drink and feeling a bit uncomfortable. A beautiful woman was leaning towards him over a table and she seemed genuinely concerned for him. If that concern hadn't taken the form of trying to warn him off his friend, he might have even felt inclined to chat her up.
"Have you met his homeless network?" she asked, her voice low and a bit angry, but also a bit sad.
"Yes, actually," John answered, and she nodded, as though that proved her point.
"I know how he can be. He sweeps in, seeming so…beyond us. Strong, tall…sees more than he should, looks like he'd break if you touched him wrong...I know…"
"Er…" Perhaps she had drunk more than John had thought.
"You know, he told me he was asexual. That he doesn't have sex. Like that's a thing. I may not be a super freak but I do know something of bio-blogical-bile…about life. He couldn't just tell me he was gay; he had to…had to…he uses people. He'll use you, John, use you all up."
John stood, startling her with his abruptness into falling back into her chair, her drink sloshing and eyes wide. John suddenly felt a bit foolish despite the anger that still coursed through him, unexpected as it was intense, and sat down again so that he wasn't towering over her. He could see that she didn't meant to be cruel.
"Asexual is a 'thing', actually. And I'm telling you that as a doctor. There are people who truly have no interest in sex. And to answer your first question, Sherlock isn't having sex with me. He's my friend. So thank you for your concern, but it really isn't necessary."
Then he stood again and left her alone, still looking slightly stunned. Sherlock was talking excitedly about mud, his eyes alight with interest. He broke into a full on smile when he saw John, urging him to a nearby bench to introduce him to Raj from forensics who was listening to Sherlock with almost worshipful awe.
The next time John looked around, he saw Lestrade had joined Donovan's table. They were both leaning into each other and Donovan was smiling.
All in all, it wasn't a bad evening out.
Sebastian Wilkes reminded John of a shark. There was something hungry about him, something predatory in his smiles. It made John's fingers twitch for a gun he didn't have on him. It made him want to drag Sherlock for cover.
It was unpleasant, therefore, to suddenly run into the man again when Sherlock had sent him to a small café for a case. It was unexpected; the café was in the neighborhood of Wilkes's bank, but even so, the banker certainly hadn't been on his mind. It was even more startling that Sebastian Wilkes had recognized him and immediately sat down in the chair opposite. Sherlock wasn't there, pursuing a different lead.
"John Wilson, was it?" he said as he sat, uninvited.
"Watson." He couldn't quite bring himself to be so rude as to tell the other man to go away, but he could limit his response. Unfortunately, Wilkes didn't seem inclined to take the hint.
"And how is Sherlock these days? You are still together?"
"We're doing very well together, thank you. How is your window?" And if the statement implied things between him and Sherlock that weren't there…well…John didn't care enough about Sebastian Wilkes to correct his thinking. There were worse things than being thought in a relationship with a brilliant genius. Wilkes leaned in a bit in a way eerily similar to Donovan but without the genuine concern.
"You know, we all thought Freak needed a shag. He always said he was X, you know, but he was so wound up. We tried to set him up once; had a girl willing and waiting, and the Freak actually punched her when she tried to go down on him. Nearly gave her a nosebleed. Lucky I was there to console her."
"Sorry?" John asked, his expression stony. For a moment, the leer on Wilkes's face faltered. He recovered himself quickly though.
"Well…I just wanted to say I'm glad he's finally loosened up a bit. Learned to let go. Should have known a girl wouldn't do it for him…maybe I should have tried myself. He always was a bit of a prude though; probably would have turned me down. He left soon after, anyway. Did drugs, I hear. A real shame. Did he ever tell you?"
The expression he gave John was one of anticipation and glee mixed with charm. If Donovan's words had caused a spark of anger to flare up, Wilkes's created a bonfire. It didn't show, not in the ways anger usually surfaces, in red faces and furious shouting. If it had shown, Wilkes might have realized the danger he was in.
"Maybe I should have tried anyway. You know how it is; for their own good, really. If anyone ever needed to relax, it was the…"
John didn't quite know how it happened. One moment, Sebastian Wilkes was leaning towards him, practically flirting, and the next John was standing and Wilkes was on the floor, clutching his nose. People were staring, startled.
"Bastard broke my dose!" Then Wilkes was pulling himself up, one hand held over his bloody nose and the other clinched as he glared at John in fury. "Do you have andy idea who I ab? You will pay!"
"No." John's voice was low but biting, clipped. "No. You do not sit here and calmly tell me that you wish you had raped my friend. You do not tell me that you did have a friend try and rape him. I know exactly who you are. You are Sebastian Wilkes, a bully, a worm, a disease upon society…"
Wilkes swung at him, furious. The next moment, John had him kneeling on the ground, arm held firmly behind his back. And John leaned in to whisper in his ear, ignoring the startled and alarmed looks of everyone around them.
"Now meet me. John Watson, army surgeon, served in Afghanistan and friend to Sherlock Holmes. Now, you are going to get up and you are going to leave. You will go back to your bank and your small minded ways and you will never cross our path again. Because if you don't...if you try to come after either of us…just be careful that the 'Freak' doesn't decide to investigate you. How clean is your closet?" He leaned in even closer, his voice going even lower. "And if you even think of touching him again, I will be there. And I will take. You. Down."
He let him go and stepped back. Wilkes stumbled slowly to his feet, looking ghastly with the blood coating his face and staining his collar. For the first time since John had met the man, he no longer saw that hungry look. He saw fear, deep and primal, the look of a predator who had met his match.
"John?" Sherlock was standing in the doorway, looking uncertainly back and for the between them. "Seb?" Wilkes looked at him, then looked away quickly. Two police officers suddenly arrived.
Wilkes mumbled something at them about a misunderstanding and practically ran out the door. They asked John to leave anyway.
"John?" Sherlock asked again once they were standing outside on the pavement.
"A misunderstanding," John said. Sherlock was still staring, looking puzzled, but he accepted that, for the moment.
"I found the painting's frame…" he said, his hesitance slowly melting into his usual exuberance as he explained what he had discovered and what it meant.
"Brilliant," John said at the end of it, and then they were running.
The first John heard of Sherlock's friend was the day she arrived at the airport. He was still a bit in shock from the revelation that Sherlock had a friend, an actual friend who wasn't John who had put up with him and who Sherlock liked and called 'friend' back.
Victoria turned out to be quieter than he expected, more scholarly than adventurous. She was good at conversations though, able to keep up with Sherlock's quick tongue, and didn't get offended when Sherlock was being awkwardly blunt. She didn't seem to know how to take John.
"I am happy…you know…that he has you," she said one day, when they were alone. And she did seem genuinely happy. "I had thought, for the longest time, I had thought he'd always be alone. I had wanted him, once, you know." John almost felt bad for having to set her straight.
"We don't have a relationship…not like that. We're friends."
"But you are good together. Not all relationships have to be about sex, you know. It took me a long time to figure that out."
"No…but it can be nice." This time, it was John who was leaning in closer, one hand resting on hers. She looked surprised, then pleased. Sherlock found them later on the sofa, sitting close and giggling over a story Vic was telling him about Sherlock. The man they were just talking about was now looking back and forth at the two of them, something vulnerable about his expression despite the slight upturn of his lips in response to their giggles.
"I see you're…getting on," he said.
"Oh, come here," John growled when Sherlock looked like he was going to scuttle off again to leave them alone, and he grabbed the man around the waist, pulling him down between them, half in their laps.
Sherlock never told John he was asexual. John stopped correcting people who thought they were in a relationship. Because sometimes, it really is all fine.
Except for an epilogue to come.