Sometimes John thought this job was getting to be a bit more trouble than it was worth.
It brought in money, of course, which was necessary- but with Sarah's frosty silences and the endless series of painkiller prescriptions and flu diagnoses, it was getting boring. And awkward.
Not to mention this- the fact that they had buzzed his mobile in the middle of the night and asked if he could take the morning shift, without as much as an if you please. John sighed and rolled his neck around.
It was bright and clean and angular inside the office, and the tired-looking night receptionist gave him a friendly grimace, and he gave her what he hoped was a sane-looking grin back.
John's own private office was similarly white and clean, and he looked at his comfy spinning chair behind his desk for a long moment before choosing not to risk it (he definitely did not want a repeat of the first day's 'Sleeping Beauty' disaster) and settling himself on the floor against the wall.
He was asleep in two minutes.
Some time later, he woke up to a sharp series of knocks on the door. Goddamn it. He couldn't leave himself alone for two seconds-
It was Sherlock. John's brain did a little stutter-stutter, and he stared at the taller man for a few seconds.
Sherlock addressed him with his usual warmth. "John."
"Sherlock... How- Why-"
He swept past John, giving the sparse room his usual haughty once over. "My phone charger seems to have- mysteriously vanished." Sherlock turned to face John. "I was simply wondering if you knew its location."
John continued staring at him then laughed, and rubbed his mouth with his fingers. "No, Sherlock." He brushed past him and sat down.
The other man regarded him with his normal concentrated stare, but John just gazed back with what he hoped was a bland, toothless smile.
Sherlock narrowed his eyes.
"Do you mean, no, you do not know where the charger is, or no, you won't tell me where it is?"
Sherlock leaned back slowly, still looking at John like he was a tiny mouse and Sherlock was an SUV at a stoplight.
"Sherlock, you took mine!I'm simply-" John sputtered for a moment, "- using leverage."
Sherlock took a step forward, and his carefully constructed curls shook a little. "But I need that charger! John-"
But John was shaking his head. "Sherlock, I'm not even going to consider telling you where it is until you promise to give mine back, or buy me a new one. Anyway, can't you deduce where I hid it?"
The detective drew back, and pursed his mouth. "I thought this would be- easier." He looked a bit- sheepish, if Sherlock could ever look such a way.
John laughed doubtfully. "Do you promise to give it back? I want it in writing."
Sherlock looked at John for a short moment. "Fine. Where is it?"
But John wasn't giving up the upper hand so fast. "How about we play for it?" He stifled a grin.
Sherlock was skeptical. "Play- what, exactly?" he inquired, with his usual slow disdain.
John smiled. "How about Two truths and a lie? Ever played that one?" He had a strange vision of Sherlock and Mycroft playing poker as children, and shuddered.
Sherlock frowned. "How does it work?"
John gestured to one of the wood chairs in front of his desk. Sherlock sat quickly.
John leaned forward, elbows resting on the surface. "I tell you three facts about myself. Two are true, one is a lie. You guess which the lie is." He leaned back. "This should be fun."
Sherlock was still frowning. "That's hardly fair. I know everything about you."
John huffed out a laugh. "Everything?That's... disturbing." Sherlock gave him a Look.
"Fine, I'll try to make it really hard. If you guess right three times in a row, I'll let you have the charger. Alright?"
Sherlock nodded slowly, then leaned forward so his elbows rested on the desk, hands intertwined as usual in front of his mouth. "Go on."
John was ready. "Okay- one: I have an uncle who collects giant cacti."
Sherlock gave John a second Look.
John grinned. "Second: I ate a dog's foot in Afghanistan once on a dare."
Sherlock gave one of his 'society is failing me' sighs, and tilted his head to the right.
John leaned forward. "And I lost my virginity to my PE teacher." He smiled as Sherlock looked at him sharply.
Now he was all business. "Male or female?"
Sherlock narrowed his eyes again. "The second."
John grinned again, as always amazed by Sherlock and his insane brain. "Incredible."
Sherlock ignored him. "This game is for children, John. Let's get on with it, if you please."
John forced his face into a serious expression, and coughed into his fist. "Yes, of course."
He thought for a few seconds. "Alright- first: I punched Harry when I was five. Two, I broke my left pinkie finger because I thought it looked like a pink nail when I was four. Three... the first gun I ever fired was a BB gun at the carnival. There."
Sherlock closed his eyes for a beat, then said lazily, "First."
"That's... amazing! Sherlock, you are-"
But Sherlock was staring at the floor with a disinterested expression. "John."
"Right. Okay, give me a moment."
John licked his lips quickly. "Okay, one, I dyed my hair orange when I was fifteen. Two, my mum really wanted me to go to Cambridge, but I didn't. Three- oh hell- okay, I... er... sometimes I steal your special soap in the shower because I like how it smells." It smells like you.
Good god, he was an idiot. John shut that slightly mad part of his brain up quickly and mercilessly, and said, "Alright, go." He risked a glance at Sherlock.
But this time the consulting detective was looking at him with a strange expression on his face. It was like he was trying to frown and look like he wasn't frowning at the same time, and the result was very adorable, and did confusing things to a certain army doctor's heart.
He shook himself out of it. "Come on, Sherlock. I need an answer." He tried to sound gruff and serious, but it was hard when Sherlock looked like a child who had just been told he had to eat his Brussels sprouts before having a lollipop.
Finally, he spoke. "The... last."
John suspected his smile was reaching his ears. "No."
Sherlock scowled. "Which one was it?" He refused to make eye contact with John, instead choosing to address the wall next to his head.
"The second. My mum went to Bath, too. She was over the moon when I got accepted."
Sherlock shook his head minutely, compressing his lips into a thin line, and turned to look at John again. "So I suppose we must play again?"
John tried to keep from smiling, and failed miserably. "Yes." He decided he was enjoying himself far too much.
Sherlock had his long fingers up to his mouth again, and was regarding John with an unreadable expression.
John broke the silence. "Well, alright, Sherlock. One more. If you get this one, I'll tell you where it is."
His flatmate tilted his head slightly, a signal for John to get on with it.
John looked at him for a second, and sighed. He was never going to be able to keep up with this insane, marvelous man. Not for a second.
But that didn't mean he wasn't going to try. "I like looking at your hair. Sometimes I try to guess the color, and I name it really strange color names, like dead fox, and oak tree bark, and- oh hang it, what was that one? Oh yes, slightly too burned marshmallow. That one was good."
John searched his brain frantically. He had a theory that though Sherlock might not be stumped by the innermost workings of John's brain, he just might be puzzled by John's illogical, insane, and slightly worrisome thoughts about Sherlock himself. Still, John searched his brain frantically. It wasn't as if he had a dearth of thoughts about Sherlock, it was more a dearth of appropriate facts about Sherlock. The first one was suspicious enough. Surelyhe had some inane, harmless, flatmate-y thoughts about Sherlock he could share.
"Erm... I think you've got good taste in music." Completely untrue. Whatever Sherlock did on that violin was torturous and definitely slightly Satanic.
Sherlock was gazing at him again, with that completely unfathomable look, and John knew that he saw through him, like always. He sighed. It was, of course, hopeless, to try to fool the great Sherlock Holmes. It was actually downright embarrassing. He should have known.
"Oh, alright, Sherlock. This is pointless. You're going to get it anyways." John sighed again, and smiled wryly. "I'll tell you where it is."
John thought he saw Sherlock frown, a very tiny movement of his eyebrows towards each other.
Sherlock was staring at him with that look on his face again. "I said go on."
John let the consternation on his face show through. "Right." He thought hard. "Well- I don't think you're a sociopath."
Sherlock looked at John sharply, and for the life of him he couldn't tell what was going on inside the consulting detective's mind.
Sherlock opened his mouth, but John cut him off.
"I know, you're a 'high functioning' sociopath. But I don't think you are." John looked at the ceiling. "I think you tell people that because you think it makes sense. But I've seen you."
Sherlock was staring at John again, and he blushed, but blundered on.
"I saw your face when Sebastian Wilkes was talking about you in 'uni.' 'We hated him.' Your face... I can't even describe." John leaned back. "It made me want to hit him." He chuckled dryly.
"And then when I got angry at you, because you wouldn't stop smiling, during the Moriarty case- you just looked at me. You said, "Don't make people into heroes, John. " And I thought, but you are a hero. I wanted to tell you how many people you'd saved, how many children that have parents because of you, how many criminals are rotting behind bars because of what you do."
Sherlock had the strangest expression. It was almost sad, and John wanted to make him smile; make him laugh, anything, to get that bloody look off his face, like John had stolen his candy cane. He swore internally at his stupid, stupid mouth.
John shifted uncomfortably. "Erm... well. That was- I didn't mean to rant." He risked a glance at Sherlock. "That one was true, obviously."
Sherlock was staring at him with that deeply concentrated gaze that he normally only gave to the wall when he was on a particularly puzzling case. It was unnerving. John swallowed almost audibly.
"The second was the lie." When Sherlock spoke, his voice was steady, but John sensed some undercurrent of something else under his words. He tried looking hard at the detective's face, to see if by trying to stare holes into the other man's eyes he could see into his mad brain. But Sherlock was studying the wall next to him like it was graffiti-ed with ancient cuneiform, and all John got was his profile.
He sighed for the third time that morning. "Okay then, Sherlock. You get your prize." John reached into the deep pocket of his jacket, and drew out the long black cord of the charger. "Here it is. Congratulations."
Sherlock frowned. He carefully retrieved the thin line from John's hand, stowed it in his coat pocket, and stood with his usual grace. He still refused to meet John's eyes.
"I shall see you at home, then?" If John hadn't been so in tune with the rumble of his flatmate's voice, he might have missed the faint gruffness to it. He sounded- John couldn't think of the word until much later- almost uncertain, like he was stepping on thin ice and didn't know the right way to walk.
John realized his mouth was hanging open slightly as he watched Sherlock put on his gloves.
"Yeah- yes." John's eyes, almost of their own accord, followed the consulting detective as he left the room. "Yes."