Written in response to the prompt on SherlockBBC_fic: So, Sherlock enlists John to flirt with a guy for a case. Maybe he's expressed some interest in John and they need information, or Sherlock just doesn't want to go to the trouble, but it works surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that Sherlock deduces he's done so before. John admits he's bisexual and although just having deduced as much, Sherlock is in a bit of shock; he truly thought John was straight. Sherlock asks why John didn't tell him, and John says it didn't seem relevant...and plus, he's had horrible experiences with men in the past and decided to stick to women for the time being. (For the sake of the fic, Sarah and John aren't together anymore, k?) Cue Sherlock playing matchmaker and trying to set John up. John doesn't really want to go on any of these dates, but after all the trouble Sherlock went through he does so reluctantly. The dates, as expected, are awful. But Sherlock being Sherlock, this is a matter of pride, and he's going to keep trying until he gets it right.
Notes: I originally started this as a 5+1 but it turned into a 3+1 and ended up being about 50,000 words longer than I ever expected it to be. I had the privilege of two wonderful Brit-pickers to fix this up for me. Haylebopp Brit-picked the first 8 chapters and Evildrem the rest, though both were wonderfully helpful throughout. All mistakes and issues are of course my own fault.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sherlock in any incarnation and I'm not making money off of this. My original characters are my own though I'm not making any money off of them either. Written purely for entertainment value. Please enjoy :)
Sherlock leaned against the counter at the pub, took a sip of his Brandy and studied his soon to be client Mr. Carlisle. He sat at a table by himself in the corner nursing a scotch and soda, a willowy man in a well-worn navy suit, unremarkable aside from a vivid shock of red hair.
John took a sip of his beer and asked, "So why are you shadowing that guy?"
Sherlock's face broke into a wide grin. "You noticed!"
"I may not be a genius of deduction, but I'm not an idiot. You ask me if I want to see the game, and if that's not bizarre enough, you take us by taxi to a pub thirty minutes from our flat. You haven't complained about being bored since we've gotten here, even though I know you have no interest in rugby and delete information about the teams whenever someone explains it to you. So this must be a case." John's lips turned downward in a minimal frown. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"It's simply reconnaissance. Nothing dangerous."
"And what secrets have you reconnoitred from our lonely office-worker?"
"Mr. Carlisle's self employed. His business is failing, a common side effect of getting involved with scam artists. His lover, the same man who set him up with this real estate investment scheme-you can see the brochures sticking out of the top of his bag-isn't answering his texts and hasn't for at least 24 hours. That's apparent by the way he keeps checking his phone. If he'd received an actual message, he'd have flip the phone open for more than one to two seconds at a time."
"How do you know Mr. Carlisle's lover's a man?"
"Well, he's only had eyes for you since we sat down."
"You're not unattractive, John. Your body shows a regular habit of physical conditioning, which has given you a well muscled physique, though your clothing choices do not as a rule emphasize this."
John drummed his index finger on the bar. "Not everyone can afford perfectly tailored suits."
"It's not a criticism. Your military service and your chosen career in medicine favour a preference for a free range of motion which is practical and that is good. Your features, while not classically handsome are certainly regular, and Mrs. Hudson cannot be more complimentary in regards to your eyes. So it's really not-"
"Sherlock, I recognize the possibility that someone might find me attractive." John took an unnecessary breath. The twitching of his left foot against the stool showed agitation, and his voice was too calm when he asked, "The question I'm asking is why do you think *this man* finds me attractive?"
"Basic observation. Mr. Carlisle shows a marked increase in fidgeting, patting of the hair, moistening of the lips and the like, whenever you appear to glance in his direction. You can test it if you like."
John inclined his head towards the man, a light smile gracing his lips. Mrs. Hudson also had many positive words to say about John's smile, with which, in spite of the general vagueness of her observations, Sherlock basically agreed. Mr. Carlisle licked his lips again, thumbs rubbing a circle in the condensation on his glass. After a few seconds, he dropped his gaze.
"You're uncanny." It wasn't as good as brilliant, but John's smile had softened so Sherlock knew he was amused.
"Go flirt with him," Sherlock suggested.
"We won't be able to present this to Lestrade without a complainant, which Mr. Carlisle won't do on his own because he will be too embarrassed by how thoroughly duped he was by a man he thought he loved. That is the way with these cases. But if you can gain his sympathy, even to a small degree, that will make the road easier when I present him with the evidence."
"His sympathy could be gained without flirting. Even a few of your crocodile tears would do the trick."
"It will be more effective coming from you."
John's eyes widened. "Wait! You knew I was his type when you brought me here. That's why you didn't tell me this was a case."
"I understand you're heterosexual, John. Just think of it as a simple ice-breaker. Or saving a life, if you'd prefer. The criminal in question does occasionally kill his marks and steal their identities."
"So you thought you'd just spring this on me and then try and guilt me into acceptance."
"Bullshit. You're just selfish and lazy."
"I have a diagnosis from a licensed psychiatrist."
"I'm sure you do." But instead of continuing the argument as expected, John grinned. It was the mischievous grin that occasionally surfaced after he and Sherlock had chased down the guilty party but before the police arrived, and the restrained suspect was spurting out obscenities mixed with questions like "who are you lunatics?" and John would sometimes respond, "I'm just his blogger," while the suspect struggled in John's arms.
But this was hardly that situation, which made John's expression surprising. Sherlock had an ambivalent relationship with surprises. They sometimes lead to fascinating things like decapitations, frozen fingers via post, or chocolate biscuits. Sometimes they showed a flaw in his deductive reasoning. The latter he did not like.
As the bartender passed, John asked, "What's the guy at the corner table having?" He inclined his head to Carlisle.
"Scotch and soda."
"I could have told you that," Sherlock said with mild affront.
John put a couple of notes on the table. "Give him another on me." He turned to Sherlock. "Once I sit down with him, stick around for few minutes and then head back to the flat, okay? I need him to see we're not involved, but it's going to be uncomfortable if you do your usual routine of studying the both of us like a decomposition study."
"So you're going to do it?"
"Saving a life, yada, yada."
The scotch and soda was delivered. Carlisle looked over at John, his face flushed. John tipped his glass to the other man and took a sip. Carlisle returned the gesture. "See you back at the flat." John picked up his beer and started towards Carlisle. Words were exchanged, and within minutes they were sitting, heads bent together, fingers almost touching across the tabletop. Carlisle said something, and inclined his head towards Sherlock. John shook his head and they both laughed.
Sherlock forced a smile and took a sip of his drink. John was far too comfortable at flirting with men not to have tried it before. More than once. Which meant in spite of the fact that Sherlock only seen John pursue women, he was clearly bisexual. Sherlock had suspected such on their first stakeout at Angelo's, but John's relentless pursuit of women indicated strong heterosexuality. Even the pornography on John's laptop featured only heterosexual couples. What had happened to John to lead to his rejecting one half of his sexuality? The thought bothered Sherlock more than it ought to have.
Sherlock absently finished his drink, left the bar and took a taxi back to Baker Street. There he immediately took three nicotine patches and lay back on the sofa to think.
His observations went as followed:
In spite of his efforts, John was clearly unsuccessful in regards to women. Even his co-worker Sarah, who had been the most practical of the lot, had objected to being nearly killed on three of their four dates, her hospital visit to John after the pool incident being the one outlier. The rest of John's potential girlfriends been unsuitable and Sherlock had applied minimal energy to making John aware of this through various covert means.
John had interest in men, though he had avoided expressing this for an as yet unknown reason.
John considered Sherlock to be selfish and lazy. (The latter being especially bothersome. Sherlock worked himself to exhaustion on important matters, like cases)
Sherlock's thoughts were interrupted by the scrape of a key in the downstairs lock and John stomping up the seventeen steps to the flat. He dropped a piece of notepaper on Sherlock's stomach. "That's Carlisle's number. I hope you're satisfied."
"Is he your type?"
"You're bisexual, that much has become clear. Was it a trauma that caused you to eschew men?"
"This is none of your business."
"You shouldn't allow one bad experience to mar your opinion of an entire gender."
"It wasn't one bad experience."
The insight came to Sherlock in a cascading series of deductions, the thrill of which had him leaping up from the sofa. "I've got it John! It's brilliant!"
John took a step back. "What are you talking about?"
"You're hopeless with women, that is apparent. And since you are interested in pursuing a relationship, men really are your only viable option."
"No need for sarcasm. I am a genius of observation, and as my flatmate and investigative partner, I have devoted a great deal of time to observing you. This makes me the ideal person to find you the perfect man."
"It will be the single most altruistic thing I've ever done!"
"This is a terrible idea."
John's lips parted in an expression of shock. "You said please?"
"John, you are my flatmate and a critical component to my investigative process. As a result, your emotional well-being is important to me. Let me try."
"Say please again."
It was uncomfortable, but sacrifices had to be made. In spite of Sherlock's acknowledged deficiencies in the emotional spectrum, John's happiness was important to him. "Please let me prove to you that I'm not just selfish and lazy."
"I can't believe I'm agreeing to this."
"It will be brilliant."
Sherlock spread his arms with a grin, the nicotine was shaking through his skin. "Your first date will be on Friday, is that acceptable?"
John covered his face in his hands. "God help me."