Notes: Much love to my two wonderful Brit-pickers to fix this up for me. Haylebopp Brit-picked the first 10 chapters and Evildrem the rest (with some awesome betaing at points from Haylebopp). 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 :)
The applause died down as the police stormed the restaurant. Sherlock noted it with a minute percentage of his attention, the rest focused on the far more important task of kissing John. The man was truly a genius. Not to the degree of Sherlock, of course, but certainly more interesting than the majority of the human population. Kissing John made Sherlock hungry. No. Hunger was a distraction that inhibited Sherlock's performance whereas John improved him.
"Police!" One constable yelled as though it wasn't completely obvious. "Everyone hands where we can see them and nobody move."
Sherlock had no intention of moving. John tasted of garlic and wine. He smelled of cologne and blood. His mouth was hot. He had three mercury fillings in his back molars.
"Reports of gunfire were heard at this location," Another PC said. There was a flurry of voices as patrons explained. Charles's voice mixed in with the others: he was the owner of the restaurant and he begged mercy for his son's actions. He was going to close the restaurant. He had no idea what his son had planned. No idea that his son's sickness ran so deeply. Predictable.
A woman's voice. "Gentlemen?"
John pulled away. "I think she means us."
"Irrelevant." Sherlock brushed his lips over John's earlobe and said, "Let's get out of here."
"They've blocked the entrances."
"Not all of them," Sherlock said.
Someone tapped Sherlock roughly on the shoulder. "Gentlemen! If you don't mind."
"We mind greatly," Sherlock said. "Bad enough these two idiots tried to ruin our-"
John elbowed Sherlock in the side. "Excuse us, ma'am," John said. His lips were reddened, his hair inelegantly mussed. In spite of the deference of his words, a smile teased the corners of John's mouth.
"I'm Sergeant Harrington." The sergeant, a curvaceous woman in her mid thirties with a low level wheat gluten intolerance that lead to her having a dusting of acne across her face extended said, "Were you two were responsible for disarming the gunmen?"
"Obviously," Sherlock said. "I'm Sherlock Holmes and this is my," friend, boyfriend, partner, colleague, flatmate, which was appropriate? John had always objected when someone suggested they were a couple, but they were on a date, and he certainly hadn't seemed to mind snogging in front of the entire restaurant. Still, best to keep it professional. "This is my medical consultant, Dr. John Watson."
Sergeant Harrington's face lit up. "Sherlock Holmes! John Watson!" She extended her hand towards John. "It's an honor to meet you both. I'm a huge fan of your blog, Dr. Watson." She smiled, too brightly. "I'm assuming the pair of you were here for a case?"
"In a manner of speaking," John said.
"It was a date," Sherlock said, taking John's hand. "John is my date."
John started, "Sherlock-"
Sherlock gave Sergeant Harrington the full strength of his gaze. "And he's not interested."
"It's fine," Sergeant Harrington said. "A bit obvious, the way you two were going at it. My best mate called it, and she's usually right about these things, but I kept thinking, well, Dr. Watson sure does have a lot of girlfriends for a gay man in love with his flatmate."
"John's bisexual," Sherlock said.
"And as long as you're all consenting adults-"
"But he's only going to be having sex with me from now on."
John's face flushed. "Can we discuss this at some other time?"
"Are we supposed to have a discussion?" Sherlock's research had mentioned nothing about a discussion. A peculiar feeling settled in his gut, rippling like maggots over a fetid wound. "Had you wanted to have sex with other people?"
"No! Jesus Sherlock." John pulled his hand away. "I'm not talking about our personal business in front of a policeman."
"Policewoman," Sherlock corrected.
"It's fine," Sergeant Harrington wiped a palm over the thigh of her trousers. "We'll simply need to get statements from both of you and then you two can be on your way. It's obvious you still have a lot to...umm...discuss..."
John couldn't possibly intend to keep their relationship—no, one date did not equal a relationship, even Sherlock knew that—their association then, a secret? That was ridiculous. John had asked Sherlock to kiss him in front of an entire restaurant. Of course, adrenaline could lead people to do things that were out of character. John always corrected anyone who assumed they might be together. Sherlock had assumed that was John's moral compulsion to honesty, but maybe John was embarrassed. Of Sherlock? Logical. Sherlock often did embarrassing things. This heaviness, it was like his organs were coming apart. Decomposition. This was how decomposition must feel. Or maybe it was simply the situation. Beyond his sister, John never mentioned his family. They might not have been so accepting of his sister's sexuality, or his, if he'd revealed it. Also his time in the army would have tended him towards discretion. Sherlock needed more data, but the area was too busy, and John was saying something.
"Sherlock?" John said, doing nothing to close the distance between them.
"Statement, yes." Best to get this done as quickly as possible. "Charles's son William," Sherlock waved a hand towards the two unconscious bodies on the floor, "attempted to enact a petty revenge against me and solve his gambling debts by recruiting John's ex-boyfriend to help kidnap me at gunpoint. They also attempted to kidnap John as a form of insurance, which only highlights the unending depths of their idiocy, as John quite brilliantly demonstrated by disarming Patrick with a plate shard." Sherlock couldn't help but smile. How had it taken him so long to realize he was in love with this man? He would take John now, except, it would be embarrassing for John and he might say no. "Then John used Patrick to dispatch with William and rendered them both unconscious. That's the all of it." Before the sergeant could open her mouth and say something tedious like she needed to bring them down to the station to further repeat the obvious, Sherlock added, "If you have any other questions for us, please direct them to Detective Inspector Lestrade."
"Lestrade?" Harrington tilted her head, a slight wrinkle between her brows. "I thought you said this was a date? How's DI Lestrade mixed up in this this."
"I suggest you ask him. Come along, John." Would John follow? Of course he'd follow. He'd want to get out of here at least. Sherlock took up his violin and set a brisk pace for the door. The key to having ordinary people yield to you, he'd learned long ago, was to act as though they already had.
"Mr. Holmes!" Sergeant Harrington called out from behind them. "Dr. Watson!"
John had followed and some of the humming nervousness subsided. "Phone Lestrade." Sherlock said, still walking. Sherlock strode past the two constables at the door, wielding Lestrade's name again to get them to hesitate enough to let Sherlock and John pass.
When they were out on the street, John said, "How long before we need to start running?"
"Not yet," Sherlock said. "Though a brisk walk wouldn't be amiss."
After they'd crossed the police barrier and pushed through the crowd of onlookers, Sherlock texted the limousine driver. Traffic around the restaurant was of course impossible, so Sherlock suggested a corner a few blocks away. John was in his shirtsleeves, the jacket presumably under the table at the restaurant. They walked side by side, but Sherlock was careful to maintain an appropriate social distance. He wanted to step closer, let their hips brush, make it clear to everyone that passed that there was something between him and John beyond empty space. But John's desire for discretion had been well expressed.
Sherlock observed. John's gait was steady, his gaze focused forwards. Sherlock missed the easy camaraderie that usually came when they brushed with danger. John looked...tired. He was certainly hungry too, considering how little they'd actually eaten over the course of the day. They'd barely started on the appetizers before William ruined things. Should they try for another restaurant? When they got back to the flat, the date would be over. And then what?
Who was Sherlock kidding? No matter what assurances John, in his kindness, had given to the contrary, this date had gone all wrong. Even so, Sherlock wanted John. More than anything he'd ever wanted in his life. Being in love, Sherlock determined, was horrible.
Sherlock let John enter the limousine first, and then followed, seating himself across from his flatmate. Now that they were in private, John would surely close the distance. He didn't.
"You're still hungry," Sherlock said. "We could stop-"
"No more restaurants," John said.
"Yes, of course." Sherlock smoothed his palm over his trousers. "I could cook something."
John's brows raised. "You?"
"It's basic chemistry."
"Right." John grinned. "So you've just been to lazy to take a turn at it before?"
"I'm not lazy." Sherlock just didn't concern himself with unimportant things. But feeding John, as they had previously but without flammables or witnesses, could be important. And pleasant. Very, very pleasant.
"Of course you're not." John leaned back and stretched his legs across the gap between the seats. "Well, probably not such a hot idea to use our kitchen right now anyway, considering the fire. Besides, you must be exhausted from putting all this together. It's been pretty incredible, I must say. Not that I expected less of you."
Sherlock couldn't help but smile. Some of the tension knotting his shoulders and back eased. "We almost died twice," he said. Three times, if you counted the fire, which Sherlock didn't as they'd managed to extinguish it well before it became a genuine threat.
"I always thought dating you must be an adventure." John's head was tilted, slightly, and he looked up at Sherlock with clearly dilated pupils. "So what were your criteria for a successful date? Lots of snogging? Because we hit that."
"Expression of mutual sexual interest. Yes."
"And the others?"
"We're not finished yet."
John pinched his fingers at the bridge of his nose. "You've got something else planned?"
Even if Sherlock had, he would have canceled it immediately at John's resigned expression. "It's proper to see a date home, and sharing a good night kiss is a promising development."
"Relax, Sherlock. I'm a sure thing."John's grin became brighter and a bit more brittle. "At least until you get sick of me."
"If I was going to tire of you, I would have already."
John averted his gaze. His shoulders and neck were tense and his hand dropped down to his leg, his fingertips running small circles on his thigh where the pain of his psychosomatic limp was focused. John said, "And after this goodnight kiss?"
Sex preferably. And lots of it. Sherlock had decided that upon waking John this morning. A fuzzy, sentimental feeling blossomed in Sherlock's gut at John's sleep mussed hair, and now that Sherlock had realized his feelings, acknowledged them, he wanted it more than anything. This degree of want, no need, was disturbing in its intensity and Sherlock wasn't sure how to react. Especially in light that John seemed reluctant to make a commitment. Sure, he was in love with Sherlock, but John was capable of loving many people. Should this fail John would love and be loved again. Sherlock held no such illusions about himself.
"Sherlock?" John said.
Well, Sherlock would simply have to be brilliant, unique, and interesting enough to hold John's attention. That he could manage, especially with John's shared interest in mayhem. "Sex," Sherlock said. "Of course."
The problem, of course, was that Sherlock only had a vague idea what was supposed to happen after the sex. Sleeping probably. And the next morning? With Victor they had simply returned to being friends. Or so Sherlock had assumed. If he could deduce how he had managed to hold Victor's interest for so long, he could certainly apply that data to John. The sex. It must have been the sex. That had been the critical variable. Sherlock leaned forward on his elbows, resting his chin on his fingers as he thought. Sex he could manage. If snogging was any indication, it would certainly be pleasant. More than pleasant. Enjoyable. More than that.
But there were other considerations. How long would he have to keep the body parts in a separate cooler? How would he refer to John in public? Should he ask John? An admission of ignorance was not the best way to start proving his brilliance. Not that Sherlock needed to prove it. He was brilliant. He would gather more data in the morning. It couldn't be too difficult. Ordinary people managed 'relationships' all of the time. Of course ordinary people managed to date without nearly getting their partner killed twice; and that aside Sherlock didn't want to model himself too heavily on ordinary people for fear his mind would degrade beyond recogniti-
"Sherlock!" John kicked Sherlock in the sole of his shoe.
"Don't tell me you're already planning our second date."
Should he have been? Sherlock stopped breathing for a moment. He'd assumed that this first date, if done properly, would give John enough data to make an informed, appropriate, and most importantly positive decision, which was pure idiocy because Sherlock knew most people had multiple dates. John had gone on four dates with Sarah before she left him.
John burst out laughing. "Oh my God, your expression! Bet you only thought we were doing this once. That's why you tried to pack everything into one day, isn't it? You do realize any one of today's activities would have been more than enough for a successful date."
"I just thought that if I did it correctly-"
"Covered all seven, or was it eight of your criteria, you'd never have to have another date again."
"Dating you has been interesting. I can certainly plan something else." Sherlock was speaking too quickly, his words falling like a wave of deductions he couldn't stop. "I will, after I have your feedback on this date. I'll refine the process. Next time will be perfect, I promise."
"What?" Sherlock hadn't expected to quite so quickly cast aside. He'd hoped that John would be able to stand him a year or at few months at least. John leaned back in the seat, his legs stretched in front of him, crossed at the ankles. His lips still held the hint of a smile. What was so amusing? Sherlock was missing something. Observation. With all of this emotional confusion, Sherlock couldn't maintain the detachment needed to properly observe and make deductions.
John said, "I'm planning the next date. And I plan to get us through the entire thing without the involvement of police or paramedics. A bit dull, I know, but-"
"It's fine. It's good, very good! What shall we do?"
"I have some ideas." Now John was teasing.
Sherlock liked that. "What ideas?"
"Not telling. And you're not allowed to hack my computer to find out. I know you'll hack my computer anyway, but anything date related is off limits. Do you understand me?"
"Perfectly." Sherlock certainly wouldn't need to hack John's computer to figure out his intentions. That would be cheating. Sherlock would find out through other means. After John made his decision. Which he clearly hadn't yet.
John said, "No deducing either."
"You know I can't stop that."
"Oh, I think you can, stop, given the proper stimulus." John's lips parted and he ran his tongue over them, slowly. When he pulled his tongue back his lips were moist. He bit the bottom one, cradling it gently in his teeth and looked up at Sherlock.
Sherlock exhaled quickly through his nose. How was it that something so simple aroused him? "Stop it."
"That. I want..." to touch you, to get beneath your skin, root through your flesh until I know the taste of your organs. No. Bit not good, that. "I like that we can laugh together."
John's brow furrowed. "Yes, me too."
"That was the third of the eight, though I knew we had that sort of accord well before our date." Sherlock glanced out the window. Two minutes to the flat by his estimation, provided nothing unexpected happened, which considering the day could not be discounted. "We have two minutes to the flat."
John uncrossed his feet and his thighs parted, just slightly. "Not a lot of time."
"Too damned much."
John choked on a laugh. "And here I thought it was all just transport."
"It is. And it's distracting. If you didn't improve me in so many other ways this would be unforgivable."
John blinked and shook his head so minutely, Sherlock doubted the other man had noticed his action.
"You do," Sherlock said. "And it's not just your inspired applications of combat experience."
"We should date more often. I don't think you've ever given me so many compliments."
"Compliments are sentimental and often contrived," Sherlock said, "I observe."
"I see." John rested his leg against Sherlock's calf. Through the thick fabric of their trousers, Sherlock could only have been imagining the heat, but he felt it. John said, "Well, I love your observations. I'm going to save these ones up for the next time you're being a right prat."
"I love you," Sherlock said, because he could, and because the mix of surprise, delight and openness of John's expression made Sherlock feel for a moment like he could taste colors with his skin.
"How much longer?" John asked.
The car slowed. "Soon," Sherlock said. "Now."
They couldn't get out of the limousine fast enough. On the pavement in front of the flat, Sherlock took John's hand. "I wanted to thank you for a lovely evening."
John ran his tongue over lips, shifting his weight away from his psychosomatic wound . "Is this where you kiss me goodnight?"
"Yes." Sherlock rested his palm on John's back, pulling him closer. Their bodies strained for each other, uncomfortable, awkward arrangements of meat and bone that somehow fit.
"Inside," John said, backing Sherlock towards their front door. They kissed. John's tongue in his mouth. Then John's lips on his neck. John was aroused, his erection hard against Sherlock's thigh as Sherlock fumbled in his coat pocket for the keys, his elbow and hip banging against the door. He had better coordination than this. He could pick a lock with his eyes shut. At his third failed attempt to fit the key into the lock, the door swung open.
"Good heavens, boys, all that knocking and banging would be enough to wake a corpse."
John jumped back, his face burning scarlet. "Mrs. Hudson! Good evening. I mean, I'm so—we're so sorry."
"Don't be." Mrs. Hudson dropped her keys back into the pocket of her dressing gown. "It's about bloody time, loves. Judging by the news report, you boys didn't have enough time to eat, so I left you some sandwiches at the top of the stairs. This is a special occasion, mind. I'm not your housekeeper." Mrs. Hudson took a step back and then turned towards her flat. "And use the upstairs bedroom, if you've a mind to keep each other entertained. I'm quite overjoyed the two of you got yourselves sorted, but I don't need to know the all of it, if you understand my meaning."
When her door shut behind her, John said, "Well, that was..."
"Only slightly less embarrassing than being arrested for public indecency, yes I know."
They climbed the seventeen stairs to the flat. In front of their door sat a tray with a covered plate. "Well, I suppose we should at least check to see what's in them," John said, kneeling beside it.
"Roast beef and horseradish, most likely," Sherlock said. "She made it for the workmen yesterday, but we can check that after."
John looked up, baring the pulse of his neck. "After?"
"Don't be deliberately obtuse," Sherlock said, "It doesn't suit you."
"I'm taking these inside, at least." John took the tray and stood. "It would be rude not to."
Sherlock didn't care about rude, but he wanted John inside so he opened the door. The flat still smelled slightly of burning, though not so much as to be outside the norm for 221B. In the light of the fish tank, John placed the tray on an unburnt corner of the kitchen table. When he was finished, he leaned back and said, "Now, where were we?"
Sherlock said, "I won't share you."
"I know it's too soon to ask which is why I'm not asking. I can't share. So you can't fall in love with anybody else unless I die." And even then, the thought of somebody else in John's arms sickened Sherlock, but considering his lifestyle, their lifestyle, he had to afford some fairness.
John stood, stepping into Sherlock's space so that there was only a pace between them. "You're not going to die," he said. "Not until we're very old and puttering around some bee farm in Sussex."
"John, be reasonable. Statistically, with my vocation-"
"You're not. And if you do, I won't know it, because whatever knife, bullet, explosive wielding psycho is going to have to go through me first." John's tone was flat, his mouth a determined line, his back straight, his hands steady, his knees bent slightly, his feet rooted; if holding a gun his shot would be unhesitating and true.
John was brilliant like this. Brilliant, terrifying, and wrong. Sherlock said, "I won't let you do that for me. You've integrated yourself far too well into my work and other areas to allow me to continue without you. I'm not strong enough."
"Then you'll have to take more care to keep yourself alive. And eat more regularly. I won't have you fainting over another criminal."
Why did John always insist on bringing that up? The loss of consciousness (Sherlock refused to call it fainting; only John would insist on painting a temporary loss of consciousness with so much sentiment) could have just as easily been attributed to the cricket bat that had grazed his head earlier. "It was only that once. And I caught him."
"You collapsed on him, upon which he tripped and knocked his temple against a streetlight, thus leaving me to restrain him and deal with the Yard."
"I tripped him."
John's lips quirked, and the muscles in his neck and shoulders eased back from combat readiness. "I suppose you're going to tell me that was intentional."
"It certainly was." Not that Sherlock remembered it, but the moments before a loss of consciousness were always confused, and Sherlock certainly would have moved with intent in that situation.
John rested his fingers resting on Sherlock's hip. "You have no idea, do you?"
"Rigid self assessment is critical for any sort of scientist."
"Rigid," John laughed and his hand moved inwards, palm flat against Sherlock's zip.
Sherlock's hips thrust towards the movement. He ran his tongue along the crest of John's ear. "So you'll agree to grow old and raise bees with me?"
"As much as the idea of mixing you with swarms of live, stinging insects terrifies me, absolutely."
Sherlock put his hand behind John's back, sliding it under his shirt to John's skin. "And we will go upstairs and have many hours of mind-obliterating sex."
"God yes," John said, unbuttoning Sherlock's shirt.
"And you promise not to fall in love with anybody else."
"How could I fall in love with anyone else?" John reached up and brushed his knuckles over Sherlock's cheek. "Hell, even dating someone else would be too boring."
Thank you all so much for sticking with this fic for so long. Everyone's thoughts, comments and emails have been so motivational and wonderful. I can't thank you enough! I hope you've enjoyed the resolution and that it was worth the waiting. I know I'd hinted previously at the vague possibility of smut in this epilogue, but I really rather liked where the ending came to and I didn't think more would add to the fic, so I'm ending it here.
For anyone who is interested in future Sherlock works by me, my next large project is a Sherlock Holmes/Ziggy Stardust fusion (written for the prompt: Sherlock Holmes is Ziggy Stardust) which I'm loosely summarizing as "Sex, drugs, and rock and roll as the world ends." This will be another longish work (though probably not as long as Matchmaker) with a chapter for each track on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album and two hidden tracks (epilogues): "Life on Mars" and "Modern Love". If you haven't heard David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album, definitely take a listen. I've got the full fic outlined and am almost finished Chapter 1. When I get a few chapters ahead, I'm going to start posting, so if this is to your interest, keep an eye out (or put me on alert). I'm also working on a shorter Mystrade which includes a bachelor auction.
Well, that's it! Much love to you all :)