Author's Note: This is a SherlockxJohn story based off of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie. It is meant to take place sometime before the movie- or around the beginning of the movie. And this is also meant to suggest SherlockxJohn as a pairing. If you are offended by that, please do not read this, then. Thanks! :)
He stared up at the ceiling of his room, the flickering light from a nearby candle casting a series of shadows over the level surface. Other than the tiny lick of fire on the wick, the room was completely dark and it was indistinguishable whether or not it was day or night. Heavy curtains covered all the windows that would allow any light to stream in- the atmosphere was exactly how Sherlock liked it.
The detective was resting on his back, arms folded behind his head. His pipe was laying precariously on his chest, signifying that at one point in time, he had been smoking it and had let it fall from his mouth. He had had no case at all for several days- perhaps even weeks, for the hours seemed to have run together. To Sherlock Holmes, that gave him every reason to simply lay around and do nothing.
He didn't count how many times he searched through the same newspaper for something interesting, or how many times he tried to entertain himself with his own thoughts. The man didn't know how people did it; how did they go through their life without anything to solve- without anything to stimulate their brains? For the sake of experimentation, Sherlock had even tried the whole "nostalgia" thing and thought over his life. However, he was far too advanced for something as silly as that to entertain him. Perhaps people were right about him; maybe he literally had no emotion.
When a light tapping sounded on the door to his "cave," Sherlock didn't even jolt or look remotely surprised. Without even an invitation, the door swung open and the vibration of footsteps traveled through the floor and into the man's muscles. He didn't have to look to know who it was.
"Good evening, Watson," Sherlock greeted, deep brown gaze still locked onto the ceiling painted with the orange glow of the candle.
"It's morning, Holmes," came the bleak reply of one John Watson.
When Sherlock's ears picked up the sound of John's feet fading off toward the other side of the room, he suddenly lifted his head. "Please don't do tha-" He let out a startled yell when the doctor swiftly flung the curtains back and allowed bright light to stream into the originally dark area. Sherlock slapped a hand over his eyes with an irritated moan. "You aren't very gentle with these things, Watson. Were you trying to blind me?"
"How long have you been laying there?" John asked, completely disregarding what his friend had just said to him.
Sherlock was silent for a few moments, taking the time to let his eyes adjust to the sudden brightness. Once he was sure it'd be okay to remove the shade over his face, he brought his hands to his chest and folded them there neatly. "Not sure. What day is it?"
"And when did I last see you, Watson?"
"Hmm... that means I've been here for a good two days. Imagine that."
John strolled back over to his friend and leaned up against a wall, one hand resting on his cane. "You do realize you're on the floor...?"
"Yes. Good Lord, man- I think I can distinguish the difference between the cushion of a bed and the hardness of a floor."
"Very well. Should I be asking what you're doing?"
"Are you going to remove your hat? You're inside, now."
To most people, some perplexed expression would immediately cross their face at the fact that Sherlock knew what they were wearing without even looking at them. However, for John Watson, he was quite used to it, and without even a second thought, he plucked his hat from his head and rested it on a nearby table. "Sherlock, what are you doing?"
"Yes, I can see that. Why?"
"Because I didn't feel like standing. Are you done asking ridiculous questions?"
John released a sigh and tilted his head back with slight frustration. "Nevermind, then. I came to talk to you about something."
"Y'know that girl I've been seeing- Mary?"
"I can't say I know her, but I recall you mentioning her a few times."
"Yes, well, the few times that I've asked you to come meet her, you've refused to."
"I try to avoid meeting people who I know won't affect my life in any drastic way. It's a waste of time."
"So is laying there in the middle of the floor and staring at the ceiling," John commented with a raised brow. "That's not the point, though. You're going to have to meet her soon; I'm asking her to marry me."
Throughout the entire conversation, Sherlock's expression hadn't changed in the slightest- at least not until John's last words. For a brief moment after the announcement, his eyes widened and his lips parted in shock. He adjusted his hands stiffly, then lightly cleared his throat.
"Is that so? Why are you telling me this?"
"I don't know... maybe because it's a bit of a big deal?" John exclaimed in astonishment at his friend's disinterest. "You're a friend of mine; I figured you'd at least care a bit." Then again, this was Sherlock Holmes he was talking to. He should've expected that the detective wouldn't be at all fascinated in something as personal (or emotional, for that matter) as a marriage proposal.
Sherlock's brows furrowed and he sat upright, draping his arm over one raised knee. He spun his torso around to look up at the doctor quizzically. "Watson... I've apparently been laying here for two days straight, completely bored, and you come here thinking that this news of yours will intrigue me?"
John's eyes dropped to the ground and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his trousers. "Yeah, I guess I forgot who I was talking to for a moment," he murmured, then raised his voice to directly address the man on the floor. "Either way, I was hoping you'd be my best man for the wedding."
"Are you sure she'll actually say yes to you? I mean, what sort of qualities do you have that a woman wants?"
"You have no sense of humor, you're a complete bore, you're not exactly soft on the eyes," Sherlock listed off nonchalantly, counting his fingers for each trait mentioned. "Ah, well.. you are a doctor, I suppose. She probably thinks you're rich then-"
"Holmes!" John called again, this time sternly.
"Will you be my best man or not?"
"It depends on when the wedding is," Sherlock murmured and leaned back against a nearby desk. "If I have some case to be working on that day, then I won't be able to make it."
"That's ridiculous, Sherlock! You usually don't know if you'll be busy on some case until that same day- or the night before!"
"Oh! I guess you're right. That's a shame. You might want to find a back-up plan in case that happens. Or, perhaps I'm not the best option, either way," the detective said with a careless shrug.
John released an irritated sigh and brought a hand up to his forehead. "Sherlock- can't you manage to take a single day off for a wedding? And it's not like the wedding will last all day, either. I think you can spare an hour or two."
"What does a 'best man' do, anyway? I believe the proper protocol is to plan a 'bachelor party' of some sort, am I right?"
"That's usually how it goes, but I wouldn't want to be too much trouble for you or anything," John scoffed with a roll of his eyes.
"It's not like the actually party would be difficult," Sherlock commented, then rose to his feet with a look of mock thoughtfulness in the direction of the open window. "I just don't know who I'd invite. You don't have many friends, do you?"
"I'm sure I have plenty more than you do."
"Don't be mean, Watson. Attitude won't get you anywhere."
"I think I have every right to show some attitude after all I've had to put up with," the doctor replied, raising his chin slightly when he saw a look of bewilderment come from his friend. "I don't ever complain about your odd habits that annoy me. I deserve the chance to speak my mind after all I've had to go through with you. For Heaven's sake; you kill my dog pretty much every other day!"
"Now, that doesn't do any real harm to Gladstone. Would you rather I experiment on you?"
"That... what? No," John replied hastily, casting a cautious look toward Sherlock to make sure he was just kidding. "Whatever- we're off-topic again. Are you going to be my best man?"
"Why do you want to marry her, John?" came the detective's response, one brow raised.
"What kind of question is that?" By this point, the man was extremely agitated. He straightened up and began pacing around the room, lips pursed.
"A legitimate one."
"Look, Holmes- it's the reason any man wants to marry a woman. She's smart, funny... has a nice personality."
"Yes, of course," he sighed and looked at Sherlock with a sudden gentleness in his gaze. "When you fall in love with someone, of course you find them beautiful..."
Sherlock raised his eyes slowly, allowing them to lock with the doctor's. He kept a steady stare and didn't falter in the slightest bit, mesmerized by the other man's cerulean orbs for that small moment. It was John who finally released a small grunt and tugged his gaze away, returning to his initial pacing, but this time far more leisurely.
"So," Sherlock murmured with an awkward clearing of his throat, "you're completely sure with this choice, then?"
Even after a slight hesitation, John replied, "Yes, I'm sure."
Without a moment's pause, Sherlock immediately straightened up and advanced toward his colleague. When he neared him, he placed a hand heavily on his shoulder and dipped his chin. "Very well." Then, the man continued forward, nearing the window that John had so mercilessly uncovered. "Is that all you came to talk to me about?" he called over his shoulder and came to a halt to look out over the landscape beyond 221B Baker Street.
"Well... I figure I should also tell you that once I'm married, I won't be helping out with any other cases of yours," John said and slowly turned around to face the back of Sherlock. "I'll be concentrating on Mary and having a family. These cases get dangerous, and I don't want her worrying about me."
Complete silence came as the initial response. Sherlock's head hung for a moment and he placed one arm on the window in order to lean up against it. The man could hear his heart beating in his ears, sudden pain clawing at his stomach. His entire body began to sting and he had no logical explanation as to why. When he finally spoke, his mouth was dry and his words came out in a quiet rasp. "I see... so you're going to settle down..."
"Yeah, that's the idea. I'm assuming whatever case shows up next will be the last."
An expression of emotional pain crossed Sherlock's face, but it was quickly wiped away when he spun around to look at John again. "Well, always a pleasure working with you, Watson," he curtly replied and swiftly shuffled off toward his desk to pretend to be busy with something else.
"Holmes?" John softly called, then began to walk toward him with a look of concern. "Are you okay?"
"What?" Sherlock roughly barked and glanced at his colleague as though he was insane. "Don't be absurd. Of course I'm fine."
"You've gotten rather active over these past few minutes."
"Well, I've been particularly inactive for the past couple of days-"
"I see what's going on here..."
"You don't want me to leave, do you?" John asked, a sudden smile playing across his lips. "You actually enjoy having me as your partner- you enjoy it more than you dare to show."
In the middle of shuffling through the same newspaper again, Sherlock paused and stared blankly at one of the pages. He felt his entire body stiffen, but kept as calm as possible with his response. "I suppose it's... convenient to have a partner helping out with things," the man muttered, not daring to look over at John. "It certainly gets the job done quicker."
"Oh, I see," John smirked with an unconvinced look. "I'm just a mere source of convenience for you."
The detective shrugged and proceeded in flipping through the old paper. "Yes, you're rather helpful, Watson."
"For God's sake, Holmes," came the exasperated response. "Are you really so stubborn that you can't even admit it when you consider someone a friend?"
"No," Sherlock firmly stated with furrowed brows. "Very well- you're a friend of mine, Watson. Does that please you?"
"Yes, thank you very much." John sighed and returned to leaning up against the wall. He looked at his companion thoughtfully, hands once again in his pockets.
"Would you stop? I can't think."
"I'm not doing anything."
"Yes, well, you're staring at me and it's very distracting."
"My deepest apologies," John said sarcastically before straightening and snatching his hat off of the desk. The doctor plopped it firmly on his head and spun around to leave. As he neared the door, he cast a glance over his shoulder, hoping to get some sort of 'farewell' from his friend. However, when Sherlock didn't so much as stir, he exhaled loudly and flung the door open.
Perhaps John had halted and turned back a bit too hastily. "Yeah?"
"I'll be your best man."
A smile pulled at the doctor's lips and he dipped his head. "Thank you, Sherlock."
The other man didn't reply, but raised his gaze to look over at John. His mouth formed a line before he nodded slowly and allowed his shoulders to rise and fall in a shrug. Only keen ears would pick up the tiny murmur of approval that came as a response, but it was clear that John understood without hearing it. He brought one hand up to his hat to tip it formally, then disappeared through the door after mustering a quick "good-bye."
It was only when Sherlock's ears picked up the sound of the door clicking shut that he raised his head completely. He haphazardly tossed the old newspaper aside, then suddenly struck a nearby chair with a violent kick. The man began to pace rapidly around the room, running his hands through his already messy hair and gritting his teeth. Why was he this upset about the whole thing? Or, the better question: was he even upset? Sherlock Holmes never had to deal with much emotion- at least not to this extreme. He was going through so much internal conflict that he couldn't even think logically. What were these emotions? Panic? Frustration? Jealousy? But, why was he even jealous at all?
If the detective had been in his right mind, he would've easily figured out that his colleague had not left. He was Sherlock Holmes, for God's sake. It would've been extremely obvious that John Watson hadn't taken any other steps forward after leaving the room. In fact, it would've been even more obvious that he was leaning up against the door the entire time, for the slightest rattle of the hinges would catch almost anyone's attention. But, since Sherlock in fact wasn't in his right mind, it was easy for the doctor to get away with it.
John stood directly outside of the room, back pressed up against the door and head tilted to one side. He listened in breathless silence to the sound of Sherlock's loud footsteps across the wooden floor. The doctor knew from the moment he mentioned his idea of marriage that Sherlock wouldn't take it well- but he never expected that it'd be taken this badly. In all honesty, he had planned to stay a bit longer just to have some sort of conversation with his best friend. Since Holmes had been cooped up in his room for two days straight, he figured taking him out to lunch would be good for him. Sherlock was usually up for a decent meal when asked.
"I should've just mentioned the proposal after taking him out," John whispered under his breath. He removed his hat to run a hand over his head, then let out an exasperated sigh. Sherlock appeared to be perfectly fine until John had brought up that subject, then the rest of the visit just fell apart. Even though the detective attempted to keep a cool demeanor throughout the entire conversation, John was no fool. He instantly felt the discomfort in the atmosphere as soon as the topic was introduced, and Sherlock's behavior proved that the man was rather flustered. Contrary to belief, Sherlock Holmes did have emotion; John was sure of it. As much as the stoic detective didn't want to admit it, it was clear that he valued Dr. Watson as a friend- perhaps as his only friend. Not many other people gave Holmes a chance.
Jealousy... but I'm not jealous. Why would I be? Sherlock had one hand placed on his forhead, thumb rubbing fervently at his temple while he trekked in circles around the room. Out of all cases the man had solved in his life, why was something as small as this such a big point of confusion for him? Were emotions really this puzzling and painful? If so, then perhaps it was a good thing that Sherlock had avoided them for so long. He'd never be able to think properly if he had permitted himself to succumb to such feelings. Now that he was actually allowing the emotions in, there was no turning back. The proud man was well on his way to becoming a complete wreck, and it was all because of one John Watson.
After several minutes of tenacious pacing, Sherlock finally came to a halt at his desk. He pressed the weight of himself down upon it, leaning forward on his outstretched arms and arching his back. "Very well... I'm jealous," the detective commented softly to himself. A deep sigh broke through his lips and he stood upright. "Why?" It was maddening- almost to the point where Sherlock felt himself literally going insane. He could figure out the minds of criminals in a heartbeat; why was figuring himself out so much more difficult?
The entire conversation was repeating in lapses through the detective's brain, but no matter how many times he thought it over, he could make no conclusion. He had no explanation as to why he was so torn up over the marriage- over losing John as a partner. John Watson... did the doctor really mean that much to Sherlock? He hadn't realized it until now, but just the thought of working without John sent a feverish wave over him. Sherlock couldn't- no, wouldn't- live without him.
With a loud exhale, Sherlock spun on his heel and took a few steps forward. His attention flashed toward the door for brief moment before he bent down and returned to his inital position on the ground. He tucked his arms under his head, eyes locked on the ivory ceiling. This was turning out to be Sherlock Holmes most difficult case yet. He had to figure out just what he was feeling for his friend. Then, an even more challenging situation would arise. He'd have to tell him.
Once the footsteps had come to a stop and silence followed, John became well-aware that he had definitely worn out his welcome. However, when he tried to take a single step forward, his legs felt like nothing but lead. The doctor couldn't move; he couldn't breathe. A force was holding him back, and for a small moment, he considered returning to the other side of the door. Something was terribly wrong with his companion, and a feeling deep within John was telling him to comfort the flustered detective. He almost felt obligated to- like it was his job. But, it was a job he enjoyed. Out of all people in his life, Sherlock was one that he always wanted to be there for. Perhaps it was because Sherlock had no one else; maybe John just pitied him.
But, then again, maybe it wasn't pity. Up until now, John had never thought about it, but perhaps he felt a bit more for Sherlock than just a simple friendship. He certainly had never felt this way about any of his other friends. In fact, when it came down to it, Dr. Watson knew that he'd go as far as risking his life to save Sherlock. Did that mean something? Just strong friendship... or something else?
John's brows furrowed at the thought, but he hastily replaced his hat on his head and straightened up again. After casting one last glance back, the man began to descend the steps back to the first floor. As he walked, his mind continued to wheel with his sudden suspicions, and everything seemed to turn far more confusing than before. What exactly did he feel for Sherlock, and if it was more then just partnership, how would he even go about announcing it? Either way, the moment would come when he'd have to tell him.