Something new, and hopefully episodic from me. I was planning to start publishing after Series 2, but I'm stupidly impatient.
I'd like to know what you think.
John hummed to himself as he ironed the front of his new shirt. He had that light, hopeful feeling that gave him a spring in his step. An annoying spring in his step as Sherlock had told him on many occasions, but he was able to shrug this off as just a general part of Sherlock's grumpy bitterness.
Sherlock came in now and stood by the kitchen table, watching him iron.
John got the distinct impression that he was trying to decide which was the most irritating of the several things he had to say.
"So, tonight's the night you go out with the twelve-year-old, is it?"
"She's not twelve!" John snapped, immediately wishing he was able to just rise above it.
"She's closer to twelve than she is to thirty-nine."
"No she's not!"
"I'll let you work it out on your fingers, shall I?"
John pulled a face and turned the iron off. He paused and frowned for a moment.
"OK, she's two years closer to twelve than she is to thirty-nine…"
"Only one year, actually…"
"That's not the point! I don't have to date thirty-nine-year olds! Just because I happen to be thirty-nine doesn't mean that everyone I ever date has to be too!"
"I wonder what attracted her to you. Maybe she just likes old men?"
"I'm hardly old!"
"I meant older. Obviously. Why are you ironing your new shirt?"
"Because it was creased from the bag."
"It's a Diesel shirt. Men who wear Diesel shirts don't iron them. Let me have a look!" he snatched the article from John's hands.
"It looks like acid's been spilled on it."
"It's meant to look like that! It's the design."
Sherlock smiled at him.
"I'm sure you'll look personally natural with your child-bride when wearing this, John."
John snatched it back and stomped off.
"What's her name?" Sherlock called after him.
"Her name is completely irrelevant!" John replied as he marched up the stairs.
Her name was Angel.
John had been utterly astonished when he suddenly realised he was going on a date with a twenty-five year old beauty called Angel. She was properly beautiful too. She had that sort of beauty that made him feel vaguely peculiar, as if she was not human, without any of the normal human wrinkles and bumps and stretches and scars, but instead was some kind of higher being just descending to visit with mere mortals for a while. She'd laughed at something ridiculous he'd said, showing her very white teeth through her soft pink lips, and he'd been intoxicated.
Then she'd told him her name was Angel and he briefly entertained the idea that she was an actual angel, and in a flash he'd realised that it would be a completely waste not to take a chance with her right there and then.
She'd accepted, and he'd gibbered at the sight of her deep, blue eyes, peeping through her long, blonde eyelashes. She'd smiled again, slowly and knowingly. They'd exchanged numbers, she'd suggested a club that she'd like to go to and the whole thing took maybe three minutes. He'd stood there for a while trying to piece together what had just happened.
It was only for a moment though, as the realisation hit him that he was going on a date with a twenty-five year old beauty called Angel, and he would need to a) work out what to wear, b) try not to appear to be too old, and c) try to avoid letting Sherlock know any of the details at all.
Having decided on this plan, he walked off with a spring in his step and a smile on his face, and Sherlock had deduced pretty much everything within about nine seconds of seeing him next. He'd then spent the next two days needling, mocking and annoying him, while slowly squeezing out all the details that he could.
The only thing that John had kept entirely to himself was her name. He wasn't sure why, but he had the sneaking suspicion that if Sherlock found out that her name was Angel, he'd laugh about it for at least a week.
He got ready, checked the address of the bar where he was going to meet her, checked his wallet for cash and cards, grabbed his phone (but turned it off) and set off down the stairs.
"Have a nice time with your Angel!" Sherlock called from the living room while he walked past.
"I will! Thank you!" He called back, silently cursing. As he got onto the street and hailed a cab, he prayed somewhat desperately that Sherlock wouldn't show up at any point.
The pub was packed tight and bright and bustling in the Soho street. John walked around it twice, unable to find Angel, and growing more confident that the whole thing was a practical joke and that he was being played as the fool.
Suddenly a bright and cheerful voice sounded through the crowds.
"John? John!" and there she was, looking dazzling. "Hi! Sorry! I was talking with my friends and didn't see you for a moment."
"Oh! Hi! No, that's fine, I've just got here. Hi! How are you? Today. How are you today? Good day?"
She smiled. "I'm fine. Do you want to meet the others?"
"Others? I mean, yes, OK then!"
He was pulled to a table at the side of the bar with a largish party squeezed around it. He listened to a list of names, and a few job titles, not really knowing who went with which title. There seemed to be a disproportionate numbers of designers there too. Everyone smiled at him and waved. He smiled and nodded and looked at Angel as she finally finished the introductions.
"Do you want a drink?" he asked.
She wrinkled her nose, which made her look even more adorable. She nodded.
"A quick one, before we leave for the pub?" she said, as if this was a question rather than an answer. "I'll have a vodka and coke please. I'll come with you, there's no room here and it's too noisy?"
He nodded and they headed towards the bar. John's face burned every second that he had to wait to be served. The whole place seemed to be full of noisy, confident people wearing invisible 'notice me' signs, while his whole look seemed to be saying 'no really, after you…"
Eventually he was served and turned to give Angel a drink to find her deep in conversation with a short, dark haired woman. He waited for a while before attracting her attention.
"Oh, John, this is Sonja, she's a designer."
"Pleased to meet you! Would you like a drink?"
She stared at him, looking almost affronted that he'd spoken to her.
"No, I'm fine, thanks. I'm heading off to the club now. Will you be there?"
"We're coming later," Angel told her.
Sonja gave her a strange air-kiss on each cheek, and then headed off to join the cool kids. John got knocked and bustled by the crowd surging to and from the bar.
Angel turned her deep, blue smile onto him and he suddenly felt light and calm and completely alone again. He gave her drink to her.
An hour later and he was feeling less alone. He was feeling more as if he was surrounded by everybody in the world staring at him, and they were all wondering what the hell he was dong on the dance-floor.
He couldn't work out what he was doing on the dance-floor.
He very much wished he wasn't on the dance-floor.
Angel was still there, in front of him, arms in the air, eyes closed, hair falling over her face, frowning and dancing to the beat of the music.
He assumed that there was music somewhere; he could hear nothing beyond the deep, rhythmic sound from the sub-woofers.
Every now and again he realised that as he was on the dance-floor, he ought to be trying at least to do some kind of dancing, but all he could manage was a little shuffle with occasional side-step followed by a moment of crushing self-awareness.
He told himself over and over that nobody else was remotely interested in him. No-one else was looking at him! They were all deeply engrossed in the music and barely aware of him at all. He knew this because he was being knocked into, pushed, and trampled on fairly regularly. He did another little shuffle and decided that he wasn't nearly drunk enough for any of this nonsense.
"Drink?" he yelled at Angel.
She frowned at him.
"Drink?" he yelled again, miming at her.
Her nose wrinkled again, and she nodded. She took his hand and led him from the floor, and he was really grateful as his sense of direction was shot to hell at this point. She stood by a pillar and fanned her face with her hand.
"I need a break anyhow," she said.
"The bar's over there!" she yelled.
John located it and headed off.
He wondered how any of the people at the bar were being served without having ID. Every one of them looked as though they could still be in school. There was a mirror above the bar and he caught sight of an old man standing among the children, looking pale, gray-haired and red eyed. It took him a second to realise it was him.
He ordered many drinks.
At about midnight, he left the dance floor for the last time, and stood by a pillar to watch Angel as she danced with all her friends, laughing and joking with them. Her fair hair was flying and catching the coloured lights and she seemed to look even more energised as the night went on. He hummed and kicked at his foot for an hour.
At half past one, the lights went on, and Angel and her friends looked disappointed that the night was over. They seemed to quickly decide that the night wasn't over, and she came to find him to tell him they were all going on to a late-pub.
"OK," he said, longing for his duvet.
She laughed and pulled him towards the street.
She held his hand as they followed the group down the road, which John thought was a touching, but fairly pointless gesture. He thought they must look like a girl taking her geriatric grandfather out for a day-trip. He sat in the pub and the conversation got lively and much laughter was had as Angel and her friends talked about other nights with mutual acquaintances.
He was nudged awake.
"Are you OK, John?" Angel asked him.
"What? Oh! Yes! I wasn't asleep! I wasn't, I was just…" he looked at the group of youths around the table and realised that this lie wasn't going anywhere.
"I'm getting tired myself anyhow," she said.
"Oh! OK, well if you're sure, I'll see you home."
She wrinkled her nose and smiled and stood up to let him put her coat on her. They said their goodnights and walked together to find a cab.
They drove in silence to her flat, a small place in a converted Victorian semi-detached house. It looked nice, John thought as the cab pulled up.
She turned to him.
"I don't know if… I mean… I'd invite you in but…"
"Actually, I have to go anyway, Angel. This has been nice! I've had a really nice night, so thank you for that! It's been fun! But I think now…"
"So goodbye then."
"Yeah. Thanks John." She kissed him on his cheek and got out of the cab.
"Just wait here a sec, mate," he said to the cabbie. "Let's just see her get inside."
The house door opened and closed behind her.
"Where next, mate?" the cabbie said.
"Oh! Home! Please God home! Just… home now."
"Yeah. And where's that?"
He could see the living room light on from the street outside, but was too tired to care. He let himself in and trudged up the stairs, wondering whether to bother going in or whether to just walk on up the stairs and bury himself in his bed for the next thirty-six hours.
"You're back late then," Sherlock called as he got to the top of the stairs.
He sighed and went into the living room. Sherlock turned and started to say something, but before he could he burst out laughing.
John stood there and let himself be laughed at for a bit.
"Sorry," Sherlock said, calming down. "So. Not exactly how you'd envisaged it then."
"No! It was fine. Nice even."
Sherlock came over and took John's coat off, slapping him on the back.
"Never mind, John. I'm sure there are other Angels out there somewhere. Hundreds of them."
"Yeah, you're probably right. You're can fit thousands on a pin-head apparently."
"There you are then."
"Though I think I might wait for the rest of them to mature a little bit. I mean, she was really nice, really, really nice! It's just… it's amazing how young people can make you feel really, really old."
"Do you want a cup of tea and to hear about what I've been doing?" Sherlock offered.
John stared at him.
"I don't know. Do I?" he asked.
"Of course you do!"
Sherlock pushed him gently down onto the sofa, picked up one foot at a time, pulling off John's shoes and putting his feet up on the coffee table.
"Right, remember that time we were in that wood in Sussex, and we had some trouble with the mud and blood separation…"
John closed his eyes and sighed and let the mud and blood experiment slowly lull him to sleep.