Title: A Scandal in Bermuda
Rating: M for swearing/lemons in later chapters
Description: -spoilers for A Scandal in Belgravia-, set directly afterwards. John can't quite get Irene's words out of his head and it's only during an impromptu trip to Bermuda that he works out why.
"Well, who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but I'm not actually gay!"
His words seemed as empty as the warehouse they stood in. Irene looked him straight in the eye, her gaze narrow and unwavering. It appeared as though she was looking right through him.
"Well I am. Look at us both..."
Her tone was mocking now, and all he could muster in response was a small, non-committal snort of laughter underneath his breath. What did that mean? If she was gay, which he highly doubted, how could she possibly be so apparently infatuated with his flatmate? Was it all an act?
Before he had time to give it more thought, an unmistakeably familiar moaning sound echoed through the room and both of them jumped to attention. The beep of a mobile phone and the sound of footsteps followed suit. Sherlock had followed him. He moved forward to run after his flatmate but Irene's hand stalled him.
"I don't think so. Do you?"
She meant the dinner, presumably. Before he could reply, she was walking away in the opposite direction, heels clacking relentlessly at the floor.
John stood there for a second, speculating about what she had said. Them both? He shook his head, running a hand through his hair, letting out an exhausted sigh. Irene confused him; there was something about her he just couldn't warm to. She clearly knew something that he didn't, but not in the mechanical and egotistical way that Sherlock always did, this was different, personal.
Whatever it was, it made him uncomfortable and he wanted nothing better than to get back to his flat and make a tea with an unhealthy amount of sugar. He turned in the direction of the door Sherlock had left from; presumably he'd want comforting now that his 'girlfriend' had just been harshly resurrected. And no matter what Irene said, he was not jealous. His fists closed and opened as he descended the stairs. No, his anger stemmed from her lack of emotion, her shameless treatment of Sherlock, the way he'd watched Sherlock suffer emotionally in the months after her death, the weeks of heart-breaking violin music seeping through the walls as he'd lain down to sleep. That was why he disliked her. He exhaled frustratedly, making his way determinedly back towards Baker Street. He had to check Sherlock was alright, that was the priority at hand.
It was several months after the case had closed and Irene had escaped at Sherlock's hand, and John still found himself contemplating what she had said to him. Though she had predictably disappeared soon after Sherlock had heroically jumped to her aide, his flatmate seemed in high spirits, he'd only shot carelessly at his bedroom wall once that week and most of all, he was keen to find another case to solve.
"Here's one - Right, serial murderer, leaves biblical symbols all over his victims bod-"
"Solved that one hours ago, another priest-turned-preacher. Texted Lestrade. Next."
John rolled his eyes and returned to scanning the page.
"Three men reported missing, post-it notes in their h-"
"Boring. Too simple. I give the police force three days to work it out. A four and a half, and as has been previously established that is certainly not worth leaving the flat."
John tossed the useless file away, exhaling frustratedly.
"Sherlock, don't you ever get tired?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes, and John anticipated a stony, ignorant remark. He was not disappointed.
"John, exhaustion is a chemical bodily reaction, like anything else. Combine enough caffeine, nicotine, and suitable breathing patterns and no man need ever feel tired ag-"
"That's not what I mean."
Sherlock had been staring blankly at the wall opposite him, but John's tone of voice prompted him to look up.
"You're tired of this?"
"Not of this, no. I'm tired in general. I need a break, Sherlock, it's just a trivial thing that us humans like to take sometimes."
John flopped onto the sofa. He could feel Sherlock watching him, assessing him, but he didn't care. The other man's obsession with danger was refreshing, exciting, but it was time for him to pause, regardless of the thrill-seeking fixes his flatmate needed to function.
"You mean, perhaps, a holiday?" his flatmate ventured, quietly.
John met Sherlock's gaze, a glimmer of hope flitting over his features. A holiday, anything, even if it was just down the road would be perfect. He needed to get away from 221B Baker St, he needed time to think. He didn't know what about, but he was pretty sure what Adler had said had something to do with it. He opened his mouth to utter a suggestion but Sherlock quickly cut him off.
"Waste of time, John. You can relax here as much as you physically could in any other location. Do remember that people's lives are at stake."
John snorted, looking down again. No matter how long they had lived together, Sherlock's frustrating knack for being implausibly untactful still managed to put him on edge.
"As if that's what you care about." He grunted, moving from his seat.
With that, he decided to go to bed. He felt emotionally drained and he wasn't sure why, but he was sure that sleep would solve his problems. He could feel Sherlock's eyes boring into his back, but he shrugged them off, it wasn't as if the man would ever feel any shred of understanding for him. Sure, Irene in her own confounding way had somehow provoked an emotional response from the man, but he was convinced nothing of that nature would ever happen again in his lifetime, especially not concerning him.
John awoke to the unwelcome sound of his alarm, and flailed his arm around uselessly in the pitch black to shut it off.
Wait, why was it so dark? He sat up, rubbing his eyes, and pulled the clock towards him. He waited until his vision had focussed enough for him to read the little screen, and then blinked a couple of times, not quite believing what he was reading.
After subsiding his momentary rage, he frowned, baffled. He hadn't changed his regular 7am alarm, or even touched his clock for several months. Was it broken? Groaning, he placed the clock back down, deciding to try and catch a few more hours of precious sleep befo-
"Ah, John – I see you're up on time."
The sudden sound of Sherlock's voice from the doorway made him jump violently.
"Jesus, Sherlock, what the hell are you playing at?"
The man smirked imperviously at him across the room.
"I think, John, you might gain from being a tad more gracious in the face of someone who has granted you such a large favour."
"Favour? What bloody fa-"
"There's no time for dawdling, John - we have to be at the airport in an hour and you're not even dressed."
"Airport ? Sherloc-"
But before he could structure any kind of comprehensible sentence, Sherlock had flung an envelope onto the bed in front of him, and left the room with an unmistakeable air of smugness and that expression that he always wore when he was winning.
John growled under his breath, picking the envelope up. Opening it, he found a pair of plane tickets, with their names printed across them in black capitals. Scanning the ticket sleepily, his eyes came to rest on the destination. Once he had pushed his way through a substantial amount of disbelief, he immediately flung his covers back and stormed out into the kitchen, despite only being clad in a pair of boxers.
He jabbed the plane tickets at his flatmate's expressionless face.
"You're still not dressed, John."
"Could you have given me some warning for God's sake? Wh-I d-don't even...What on earth could have possessed you to want to go to Ber-Fucking-Muda? At 5am on a Saturday morning no bloody less?"
Sherlock only raised an eyebrow in response.
"I booked them an hour ago."
"Why the hell would you have done that?"
John was truly seething now.
"I thought this was what you wanted?"
Almost ready to punch the other man square in the nose, John gritted his teeth together, his restraint failing. He'd been angry with Sherlock anyway, this was definitely the icing on the world's-most-infuriating cake.
"Sherlock, why the hell would I want to go to-"
"Didn't you say you wanted a break?" Sherlock's smug expression quickly returned to his face, as he watched the smaller man come to a slow realisation.
John had stopped dead in his tracks. He literally had no idea what to say now. Had Sherlock just committed a...selfless act? He'd have to circle this date in his calendar. Realising he had just been staring in stunned silence, he tried to venture some kind of response.
"You said you wanted a break, and I was curious what you meant, so I organised one. We're booked in with a private villa about 20 minutes drive from the outskirts of St George's for two weeks. No cases, no murders, and no me if you like, I've placed an optional reservation on another villa if you wanted space, whatever that is. Now hurry up. Your suitcase is outside your door."
And with that, Sherlock left the room in a flourish of trench-coat and dark curly hair, and John stood there for a second trying to process what was going on. Two weeks. Holiday. Bermuda. Sherlock. Was it what he wanted? He wasn't really being given a choice either way.
The journey had gone surprisingly smoothly, all things considered. Mrs Hudson had wished them a 'romantic' trip and John had gone his usual shade of violent red, firmly reassuring her of his sexuality whilst Sherlock strode ahead to hail a taxi. The hours onboard the aeroplane hadn't progressed too catastrophically either; They left the plane with Sherlock only having belittled two other passengers, all of the onboard staff, as well as interrupting a conversation mid-flight to correct the pronunciation of Bermuda, and not Barmayda (He had obviously decorated this correction with a variety of additional insults to the particular woman's intelligence). Needless to say, the flight was a success in that they had managed to evade being flung out into the North Atlantic.
After leaving arrivals, John was predictably made resident pack-horse and was seriously starting to doubt his resolve to stay, whilst Sherlock yelled down the phone at an 'incomprehensibly stupid' taxi firm. However, his mood did make an unexpected shift. When they finally arrived at their destination, John had to drop the luggage, partially out of a combination of heatstroke and pure exhaustion, but mainly out of shock. The villa itself was beautiful, gleaming white, with plants climbing the walls and cascading over the edges and undersides of a balcony which stood outside a top set of bay windows. It felt like he had just walked into an idyllic picture out of an expensive holiday catalogue.
"Sherlock, how much did this cost?" he breathed, quite unable to process the sight before him.
"A man in the area owes me a considerable favour. I was therefore able to procure a considerable discount." Sherlock replied in an unimpressed monotone.
"Does everyone on earth owe you a favour?" John replied, still in a haze of awe.
"Just about. Hurry up, John. It's far too hot to be standing around out here."
John mused absent-mindedly that this was the detective's own fault for insisting on wearing his trench-coat, but decided not to say anything and followed him obediently up to the entrance. Sherlock unlocked the front door with a pair of keys that had emerged inexplicably from his pocket, and John followed him unquestioningly through into a large sitting area, a colourful mixture of dark red and mahogany and pillows and probably everything he could possibly have wanted.
"Bloody hell." was all he managed to produce.
"I take that it is to your liking?"
"Yeah...Fuck. I mean, God I – Thank you."
John was finding it difficult to express his gratitude to the other man, partially because he hated that Sherlock was winning and partially because he had never dreamt of a more surreally perfect location in his life. John put the bags down for a second to take in his surroundings.
There was an adjoining kitchen to the sitting room, with fridge, cooker, and, to his confusion and delight, a packed fridge. There was a bathroom downstairs, and another room containing a large television at the back with sliding windows that opened out onto a terrace. And-wait, was that a swimming pool?
"Now. What is it that we do?"
John turned around expecting Sherlock to be raising a cynical eyebrow, but instead, the man was regarding him with what seemed to be an expression of genuine curiosity. John laughed, but Sherlock gave him no further response, so he stopped. Why was Sherlock observing him like one of his guinea pigs, as if there was some kind of substance he was aiming to extract from him? Had- wait, had he never been on a holiday before?
"Well, I mean, ehm - Nothing, really."
The man's expression had not altered. He was being entirely serious.
"Nothing. We do nothing. That's the point, Sherlock. We sit, we read, we talk, we eat, we go for a walk, we take a trip to the town if we're feeling really exciting. But primarily nothing. What did you expect? Surely you've been on a generic family holiday before?"
But even as he said it, John knew that the detective probably hadn't experienced a 'generic' anything. Sherlock looked as if someone had just thrown a brick in his face. There was a pause, before his expression suddenly contorted into a disappointed frown.
"That's it?" he snapped, starting to pace.
"Yes. What were you expecting? It's called a break for a reason!"
John genuinely couldn't believe his ears. How could Sherlock possibly have survived this long without taking some time out of his continuous trains of thought? Sherlock groaned.
"Well. Something, at least, John! Think of all the time we're wast-"
But miraculously, he stopped himself, schooling his expression with his calculating blue eyes set on John's face. John felt uncomfortable, had he done something?
"Sorry. Right. I mean - well we'd better make the most of...nothing... We're here now, I may as well endure it."
And with that, he began to climb the stairs, beckoning behind him like nothing had happened.
"Bring my bags up, will you!" he yelled down the stairs, and John obeyed, still not quite sure what was going on. But whatever it was that had just happened resulted in them staying, so he wasn't about to complain.
After what seemed an age of unpacking and bartering with Sherlock over who got the bigger room, John eventually surrendered and made his way out to the terrace to get some space. He'd invited his flatmate outside but in actuality he had been glad when the other refused. Over the past month, there had been this odd tension between them, prompting John to snap and grow irritable despite generally being quite docile in nature. And Sherlock, though frustrating in all senses of the word, had been tolerable up until this point. But what had changed?
John paced the edge of the pool, watching the clear, blue, chlorinated water ripple slightly in the breeze. He sat down, dangling his feet over the edge in an attempt to cool down – it was wonderfully hot, the contrast to the ever-mild London weather was staggering. And the silence, the beautiful silence, the ability to sit down and think without a million cars driving past or a violin screeching its way into his consciousness was entirely refreshing.
Despite his seemingly empty mind, Adler's words continued to haunt him, even when he was hundreds of miles away, and their conversation seemed an age ago.
"But I am. Look at the both of us..."
What could possibly link them? Sherlock, presumably. And by telling him she was gay, what point did she hope to make? He ran a hand through his hair confusedly, trying to halt his train of thought by casting his gaze over the gorgeous view in front of him. Trees seemed to stretch in every direction, with the glittering sea adorning the horizon. But still, he couldn't completely lose himself in the scenery, he needed to assess what it was the woman had meant. He smirked, this must be what it was like to live like Sherlock on a daily basis.
So. Right. Think about this rationally. If she was gay, and she was saying that in direct response to his not being gay. So she was saying that despite their sexualities, something linked them. And that something must be...
John's hand fell from his head, and realisation dawned like a sledgehammer. So she had meant that their...No, HER feelings for Sherlock came despite her sexuality. And she had therefore implied the same for him. John shifted uncomfortably, Irene had stared him straight in the eye when she had said that. She hadn't been speculating, that had been a pure, uncensored statement of belief. How could he and Sherlock possibly have given that impression to her? Unless Sherlock had said something to her, which he highly doubted. Besides, what she and Sherlock had was a kind of (disgusting) pure unadulterated lust – how could she possibly have seen anything like that in his relationship with the detective, it was ridiculous.
So. That was that solved. Irene was just another person who thought he and Sherlock were an item. Brilliant. End of story. And he'd probably never see her again.
But why was it still bothering him? He remembered the way that she had looked at him, through him, as if she were directing some kind of interrogation. And...wait. Shit. Sherlock had overheard that conversation. Did Sherlock thin-
"John! Where are you? Did you pack my razor? I refuse to walk around the island looking like I've just wandered out of a homeless shelter!"
John snorted, as his flatmate's dulcet tones sounded from the top window.
"Only you would worry about shaving over this fantastic view! It's wrapped up in your towel!" He yelled back. There was no response, apart from the sound of luggage being tossed roughly to the side.
How could anyone possibly be attracted to Sherlock anyway? He was fairly good looking, John supposed, and unfathomably intelligent. But his approach to people, or rather his lack thereof, was insatiably harsh and unfeeling. But, as John thought about it, he did occasionally show some compassion. He remembered his violent reaction to Mrs Hudson's mistreatment. And, when he thought about it carefully, the expression of pure, believable terror on his face as he had ripped the bomb from John's chest after Moriarty's exit. Probably he was just unused to being one step behind someone and was just reacting badly. But there had been something vulnerable, scary, in his face that night. He'd been looking at John as if he was actually...worried.
John felt his stomach turn as he remembered that face. The arms gripping his shoulders, the harsh breathing, the wide eyes. That had been the only time he'd seen Sherlock well and truly frightened. And it had been for him. His stomach flipped again, and he reddened immediately, kicking his feet in the water. This was silly. Maybe too much thought wasn't good for him. He couldn't genuinely be wanting Sherlock to worry about him. Could he?
No. Yes. No.
Yes. He admitted to himself that he did crave getting a rise out of Sherlock, even for the tiniest things, if only to see a shred of emotion on his unreadable face. But that didn't mean anything. He certainly didn't like Sherlock as Irene had implied, and definitely not in a sexual way.
Imagining the detective in any kind of compromising situation was almost laughable – especially since his obvious virginity would get in the way in any kind of 'steaminess'. It was funny though, the detective strived to appear as a sort of omniscient God, who knew everything there was to know and had experienced everything there was to experience, and yet he had never gone through one of the most basic processes in life. Did he not have urges? Some sort of primal need? John was basically asexual but even he felt the burn after a dry spell. Sherlock probably wanked himself into submission or something.
Trying hard to expel the idea of his flatmate masturbating out of his head, he was jolted from his thoughts as something blunt hit the back of his head.
"Fuck – ow!" He whipped round to glare at his flatmate, picking up the offending object – a dictionary.
"You weren't replying. I'm bored and it's too hot."
"Take the fucking coat off!"
Though he had seemingly resolved the conflict in his mind, John didn't feel the tension lift between him and Sherlock. It was as if something was waiting to be released, building up. Sherlock wasn't helping matters either, the heat just seemed to make him want to be even more annoying - they seemed to be having more arguments than at home. And the blazing heat wasn't helping – John had to walk around in only his shorts and flip-flops to get to some kind of bearable heat, even though the air conditioning was on full blast. Sherlock, though initially stubborn, had almost fainted and as a result had consented to wearing a pair of John's shorts around the house, his incredibly pale skin seeming to completely reflect the sunlight as it hit him.
John realised that he hadn't really ever seen Sherlock's unclothed physique, despite living with him and having treated an infinite amount of cuts, scrapes and wounds on the detective's body. He was lanky, scrawny, even, but there was a glimpse of muscle on his torso, and despite the thinness there was a lithe, lean and taught element to his body that reminded John of a young 20-something, not someone in his early 30s. His shoulders were broad, and his waist tapered in. John's shorts were slightly too big for him, so the waistline would drop slightly to the very base of Sherlock's navel, so that John could see the man's hipbones pointing out over the top of the clothes. His skin was covered in a layer of sweat, and his face was uncharacteristically flushed – and John couldn't help but admit he looked healthier, more attractive this way.
Realising he had been staring, John looked away immediately. What was he doing? And Sherlock wouldn't let that go unnoticed.
"You appear to like what you see, John."
Sherlock's sultry, mocking baritone confirmed that for him.
"Just thought you ought to think about getting a tan, you look ill."
He'd just saved that one. Why was he suddenly so engrossed in his flatmate's appearance? Idiot. Sherlock would tease him for ages. And if he already thought that John was harbouring some kind of more-than-friendly affection for him, unashamedly staring at him wasn't going to help.
"I have no concern for my appearance. We are in rural Bermuda, with no one within a mile of us, and there is no individual I am looking to endear myself to, why should it bother me how pale I am?"
"I was just – oh, nevermind."
There was a pause. And then Sherlock tensed, standing. John looked at him inquisitively.
"We have a leak."
"How could you possibly know that?"
"That dripping noise. It's not rocket science, John."
"Oh. Where is it?"
Sherlock walked towards the back room, the room directly below John's bedroom. John shrugged, reaching for a book, when there was suddenly a loud crash from behind him. Jumping up, he whipped around, to see Sherlock covered in a layer of dust.
"What on earth-?"
"Bloody Richard. Knew there had to be a catch." The detective grumbled, wiping dust unaffectedly from his face as if the implosion was just a mild annoyance.
John pushed past him to find that the entire ceiling had collapsed through, bringing his bed and several of his bags with it.
"Oh, fuck!" John exclaimed, making his way through the wreckage to pick up his belongings. "How the bloody hell did that happen?"
His bed was completely in half. And had, in turn, fallen on the television and crushed the only sofa. Which meant he was sleeping out on the terrace. Fantastic.
"Well this is great, I didn't even bring a bloody sleeping bag. Figures that it's my room that gets destro-"
"Don't be ridiculous. You'll sleep in my bed."
John's stomach flipped again. He immediately turned red, shaking his head violently.
"No! I- I mean don't worry about it, I'll sleep on the floor or something. Months in the army don't leave you with a need for comfortable sleeping arrangements." He chuckled weakly, but the other man's expression didn't alter.
"John, I am not allowing you to sleep on the floor for two weeks. Especially as this break was predominantly your idea."
"Sherlock, I don-"
"I am not a hormonal teenager, and neither are you. I am not going to molest you in the dead of night and given the way you are reacting neither will you. "
Trying to get a flurry of unhelpful mental images out of his head, John coughed awkwardly, trying to talk his way out of it.
"I-I suppose. It is a big bed. B-but still – I have my nightmares, you know that- you won't want to sl-"
"Your last nightmare was 2 months and eight days ago. And regardless, they wouldn't disturb me."
This was true. John didn't even want to know how Sherlock knew that.
"Besides, John. You know I don't sleep a lot. I will only be in the bed with you for a fraction of the time that you are. You probably won't even be conscious for the period of time that I am. Will that be satisfactory?"
And realistically, John was running out of options. He sighed, defeated.
"Fine. But you're wearing pyjamas."
Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Very well. "
Regardless, he was still going to have to spend the night sleeping next to Sherlock Holmes. And not just that night – two weeks! Bloody hell. And what if Sherlock was an abnormal sleeper, he could imagine him strangling him halfway through a violent nightmare or something. Not only that, but he didn't think that at this present moment, when he was in the middle of an important stage of self-assessment and feeling quite uncomfortable in general, that being in a too-close proximity to the subject of his confusion was a very good idea.
John sighed, and began to separate his bags from the wreckage. Sherlock seemed completely oblivious to how uncomfortable John was finding the thought of sleeping nearby – no –next to him. But he was Sherlock Holmes, he must have some kind of unnecessary store of body language meanings in that brain of his somewhere. But as Sherlock strode away, obviously not lending any sort of bodily effort into helping him, John really wasn't sure that the sleeping arrangements were going to have any effect on the detective whatsoever. Maybe he was overreacting. And it probably wouldn't be that bad, as Sherlock had mentioned – he was barely going to be there at all.