I got them all together for the last chapter - Sherlock, John, Mrs Hudson, Molly, Lestrade, Donovan and of course Anderson. A party with Sherlock? Well, not quite ... but in the end Mrs Hudson makes an interesting suggestion ... and they all play Truth or Dare. Enjoy reading!
Having Fun – John's Birthday Dinner
It was a very festive occasion. Everybody was gathered around the big round table in their favourite Thai restaurant.
Mrs Hudson looked striking in a burgundy velvet ensemble. Molly had opted for a little sparkling dress in midnight blue not unlike the one she had worn on that ill-fated Christmas party. Lestrade had even bothered to don a matching silk tie to his pale grey suit. Donovan and Anderson had come straight from Scotland Yard but had taken some care with their clothes in the morning.
It was John's birthday and he had wanted to celebrate this occasion with all their friends. Mycroft wasn't there, but then why should he be?
'Why do you invite Donovan and Anderson? They really aren't anywhere near to being friends. I'd rather have dinner with a pair of cockroaches,' Sherlock had commented when seeing the invitations. John had ignored this and various other remarks and had carried on sliding invitation cards into envelopes. 'I want to be surrounded by people we love and like - and some other people who are connected to us in some way or other.'
'But it's your birthday. What's it got to do with me?'
John sighed 'You'll find out soon enough, Sherlock. Just wait and see!'
Knowing full well that this was an instruction bound to drive Sherlock crazy. Sherlock, the most impatient man he had ever known.
John looked around the table and saw beaming and expectant faces. Everybody was happily chatting away. Everybody except one. His gaze moved to Sherlock who sat next to him and who looked as crisp and clean and handsome as always in his dark suit and purple shirt. Unlike the other guests, though, he looked rather sullen.
John knew that he felt uncomfortable. Being confined to one place, forced to sit down and sit still for more than an hour and making conversation was an almost insurmountable obstacle for him.
John had seated Lestrade next to Sherlock, hoping that they would be able to talk shop, but Lestrade was busy chatting up Molly who was leaning towards him quite eagerly.
On John's left Mrs Hudson had started confiding in him Mr Chatterjee's latest follies, leaving Sherlock rather lost and lonely between John and Lestrade. Engaging in a conversation with Donovan and Anderson was out of the question for Sherlock and besides, these two had started to go for a little bit more than holding hands beneath the table and above it they were putting their heads together closely.
Sherlock had noticed the groping underneath the table and stowed away the information for later use. He had also noticed Molly's eager tone, the flushed cheeks and all the other signs of a very telling body language. Lestrade seemed tempted.
'Is your wife having it off with the PE teacher again?' Sherlock said all of a sudden and a hush fell onto the table. A hissed 'Sherlock, please! Not today!' from John made Sherlock aware that he had actually voiced this question aloud and he murmured 'Sorry.'
Everybody turned back to their conversations and Sherlock started fiddling with the napkin, absentmindedly folding little origami flowers.
The arrival of their main courses was greeted with 'Ah' and 'Lovely' by everybody except Sherlock who couldn't stop fidgeting next to John. John put a hand on Sherlock's leg which was skipping nervously up and down, constantly. John started caressing his leg, trying to calm his restlessness. Sherlock grabbed his hand and held onto it. They locked eyes for a moment, John's eyes silently begging him to hold on for just a little bit longer. Sherlock nodded almost imperceptibly and let go of John's hand.
'Anderson,' he suddenly said and John drew in a breath, unsure of what was to come. Anderson looked up, his mouth full, munching away contently.
'Anderson, tell me. You and your wife. Separated now? So you and Donovan are going public? Making it official?'
Donovan glared at Sherlock. Anderson blushed and gulped down his food. 'I don't see how that could be any of your business.'
'Well, I just thought that might be the case since you're wrestling quite openly with Donovan underneath the table.'
'Sherlock, please!' Mrs Hudson piped up, but John remained silent, knowing quite well that Sherlock needed some sort of stress relief and Anderson might be just the ticket.
'And Molly!' Sherlock went on and John sighed. Molly looked startled like a rabbit caught in the headlights. 'Molly, I strongly recommend that you steer clear of all future attempts of a relationship. Judging by your inability to choose the right partner, my advice would be to stay away from Lestrade. He's a married man.'
'Sherlock!' This time in unison from Mrs Hudson and John. Molly's eyes glistened and she looked down on her hands. With a brisk movement she pushed back her chair and left the table, Lestrade followed her.
'Well done, Sherlock!' John said sarcastically, 'Was it really asking too much to keep your mouth shut for a while?' Sherlock raised both his eyebrows in an innocent what-have-I-done-gesture. And from his point of view he really didn't see where he had gone wrong. He had just been himself.
'Not good?' he asked.
'Not good at all!' John replied. 'You will have to apologise to Molly.'
When Sherlock made to get up from his chair, John motioned him to stay. 'Not now! Lestrade's gone after her.' John winked at him and Sherlock frowned.
When Molly and Lestrade came back to the table an uneasy and uncomfortable silence had settled and dampened the spirit of the birthday party. Everybody seemed to be studiously inspecting the space on the table in front of them.
Suddenly Mrs Hudson's voice piped up in an attempt to diffuse the tension.
'Why don't we play a game?' she said, 'Let's play Truth or Dare!'
'Oh, for God's sakes!' Sherlock muttered under his breath, 'What will be next? Talking about the weather?' but his comment was drowned out by the happy chatter of the others who were looking forward to having some fun at last.
'Anderson,' Lestrade sneered, 'Truth or dare?'
They had agreed on tequila shots for anyone opting for dare. A few rounds had already been played, some frivolous truths revealed (Molly didn't like kissing smokers, Lestrade liked to parade around naked when at home), some truths denied and therefore quite a few shots had been gulped down. In short the atmosphere was cheerful and quite pregnant with alcoholic fumes. Sherlock had so far escaped the questioning.
'I guess I will have to go for truth this time.' Anderson giggled.
'Well, what could I ask you?' Lestrade seemed at a loss, but then he asked 'How many affairs did you have in the last two years?'
Mrs Hudson went 'Oops!' and put her hands up to her mouth, John sneered and Sherlock rolled his eyes. Donovan was very attentive all of a sudden.
Anderson didn't seem to be taken aback though, he made a smug face and using his fingers pretended to count. 'Well – um – let me see. One – two – three – four, no that was just a one-night stand. Three, then!' – Donovan gasped and turned to look at Anderson, 'I can't believe that, what are you going on about? - We'll talk later,' she hissed.
'Oh, please. Anderson!' Sherlock seemed flabbergasted. 'Who do you expect to believe that?' – 'I do!' Molly chimed in and Sherlock turned his gaze on her, his eyes narrowed, the corners of his mouth curling down in the ghost of a smile.
'Well, let's see who's next,' and with that Anderson spun the bottle on the smooth surface of the table cloth. The bottle came to a standstill and its neck pointed at Sherlock.
'No need to ask. I go for truth,' he said bravely trying to stare Anderson down who couldn't wipe that smug smile off his face.
'Let's stick with the topic: looove.' He pronounced it in such a silly way that made John want to smack him around the ears - hard.
Anderson went on, 'Or better still – sex! Tell us, Sherlock, how many lovers have you had? It doesn't matter if men or women, just give us the number.' He sneered.
All eyes turned to Sherlock who didn't seem fazed at all. He just continued to stare at Anderson who didn't know for how long he would be able to withstand the scrutiny of those piercing eyes.
'Would you please care to elaborate, Anderson. Am I supposed to include all affairs, one-night stands, gropings in dark cupboards, quickies in toilets and wanks in my bedroom?' John sniggered, Mrs Hudson actually snorted, Molly blushed and Lestrade smirked.
Anderson gulped down some air, 'I don't know – um – maybe just –' He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.
'Right, then. Let me enlighten you, Anderson. In my life there was and there is only one person that I ever considered being worth an affair, a one-night stand, a groping in a dark cupboard, a quicky in a toilet and a wank in my bedroom –' he paused for effect, 'And that's John.'
'Oh bless you, Sherlock!' John said, grabbed his face and kissed him full on the mouth. Sherlock put his arms around John and responded to this kiss with passion, much to the delight and the cheers of all - save Anderson who simply couldn't get used to the sight of these two and whose mouth had fallen open. Donovan just sat there with her mouth pinched and her arms folded across her chest, quietly fuming.
Molly, glancing sideways at Lestrade, spun the bottle on the table and broke the spell with her call 'Who's going to be next?
It was quite late when Sherlock and John were finally on their way home.
'You said us and wait and see. Why?'
John, used to those mental leaps had no difficulty catching on, 'Oh, I almost forgot!' He stopped in his tracks, started groping in the pocket of his jacket and fished out a small square box. 'For you, Sherlock.'
Sherlock looked surprised and also a little bit uneasy. 'But it's your birthday, not mine.'
'I know, but I wanted to give you something. Please take it.'
Reluctantly Sherlock took the little velvet box and opened it gingerly. John watched him looking down at the content. Sherlock's face was impassive, betraying no emotion. John's heart clenched, suddenly he doubted that it had been a good idea.
Sherlock took out the plain matt silver ring and looked at it. He frowned.
'Don't worry, Sherlock.' John hastened to say, 'I'm not going to ask you to marry me or anything - I just – um - wanted us to have a token of our love.' Sherlock looked at him steadily.'I have got the same, actually' and John took out his ring that he had been carrying around for weeks now and put it on his left ring finger. Tenderly he took the other ring out of Sherlock's hand and carefully placed it on his left ring finger.
Sherlock spread out the fingers of his left hand and looked at the ring which sat snug around his ring finger. 'Thank you,' was all he said.
John sighed, he knew Sherlock so well by now that he wasn't offended by this meagre reaction. He took Sherlock's hand and smiled at him. Sherlock smiled back and leaned down to kiss him.
'We will have to talk about that, John. But not now,' Sherlock softly said and still holding hands they walked slowly back home to 221b Baker Street.
A/N This was my last chapter of Educating Sherlock - I hope you enjoyed reading it - Reviews would be lovely! I'd be really happy to know what you think … :-) Thank you!
xxx And many thanks to all of you who put me or this story on any kind of alert! xxx