"Sherlock, someone ate all my jam."
There is a rustle of papers, and Sherlock's sharp eyes flicker towards him for a moment before settling back on the mundane headlines of the day.
"So get more jam, John," he replies nonchalantly, completely unheeding of John's petulant words and slightly accusatory tone, because they both knew who the jam thief was and Sherlock was determined to ignore how John had warned him to not finish all the jam with narrowed eyes a few days prior.
Sherlock liked jam. That was all that mattered. "You already have my card in your wallet, and everything else." Unrepentant as ever.
John flushes a little, almost imperceptibly at that. Perhaps he's the only one who takes the almost-suggestive implications of that statement that way, but it's still rather damning. "I'm… not quite sure what to make of 'and everything else'. Also, I highly suspect that the blood stains on your card are human, Sherlock. I don't fancy getting arrested."
He moves across the room, sitting on a quaint chair. Sherlock is completely unfazed. John clears his throat. "So, pick up some jam when you go to get the milk."
Sherlock is quiet for a moment, eyes impossibly blue beneath his lashes, before he lets out a derisive snort. "Don't be coy, John. It doesn't become you."
"It's not like people would ever know about the blood," he continues with a casual wave of his hand, dismissing, "They don't have the level of perception for such things. They'd probably take one look at you and surmise that you spilled tomato juice on the—"
"—don't sputter at me, are you a fishwife?" Sherlock says reproachingly, without missing a beat. "Anyway, I'm not getting the jam. I still need to shoot at the wall, and even out both sides of the room."
Exhaling a long-suffering sigh, John shuffles in his chair until his arms are planted firmly on the top of the back of the chair, and he leans forward in exasperation. "For God's sake, Sherlock," he begins, and thinks he must look quite a comical sight as he blinks, gives up on that train of speech, and settles instead on saying, "I'm going out to get food. It's Sunday, time to eat something, isn't it?"
His efforts at a semi-decent and perfectly innocuous line of conversation are rendered laughably meaningless when Sherlock shoots him a sideways glare before looking back at the wall, tenting his hands in front of him in serious contemplation. "Shh," the consulting detective says seriously, messy curls making him look impossibly earnest. "Food can wait. Anyway, there's the head in the fridge to contemplate. He's my new friend, he is. Mrs. Hudson hasn't returned my skull."
John sighs, again. Sighing is practically a go-to reaction around Sherlock, and a default state of being in his company. "I obviously don't count, do I. I won't ask about the head." Sherlock doesn't turn, but he smiles where he's looking at the wall. "You could always go if you want; I'd still be here."
He says a little quieter, after that, something low that John almost doesn't catch but, when he does, makes his heart skip a beat, slow and lovely: "You're my only friend who's alive."
Shaking his head, John closes his eyes, sure that he has quite the rueful expression on his face. But he smiles, too. "You're impossible. I quite like you, too." John pulls the coat he's left on the back of the chair he's leaning against, and stands. "Going out. I'll bring back some bread for you."
It's quiet as John pads over to the door, not sure what he's waiting for, not sure if he's waiting for anything at all. Sherlock and his flair for the dramatic, though, chooses the exact moment he's about to step out to reply in his intriguingly fast manner of speech.
"Yes, well. Liking someone isn't necessary for establishing and maintaining a cordial relationship between flatmates, as you very well know, but I suppose you would imagine it makes the experience more pleasurable for, after all, what is that phrase they use: whatever floats your boat?" He pauses. His cheekbones look almost ethereal in the late afternoon light. "Funny that they should say that, really; it's the volume of liquid."
Sherlock continues, "Fine, if you're going to get bread. Some rye, please. And I want my pen. Please pass me my pen."
John is a little speechless after that diatribe, but recovers to groan, "Cordial relationship, you say? You kissed me last week for an experiment." He rubs his forehead, pressing against a non-existent pain in his temples with an earnest thumb.
Sherlock has long since stopped giving him migraines with his quirky mannerisms and ridiculously enchanting deductions, but he plays this game like he's always had: of being annoyed, while trying not to let on about how he's also charmed, at every turn. "Your pen's in the bloody drawer, you spoilt brat."
Humming, Sherlock just blinks slowly, and leans back to look at John. Sherlock's gaze is always so piercing, and it unsettles him. "Precisely that," Sherlock begins. "It was an experiment to study an otherwise heterosexual male's unexpectedly enthusiastic reaction," he looks pointedly at John, who rolls his eyes, "to having the living daylights snogged out of him by an otherwise asexual man. Well, the results proved inconclusive, didn't they? We'll simply have to try that again."
His expression is so earnest John can't quite bring himself to grab Sherlock by the shoulders and shake him.
Sherlock remains oblivious to John's temporary inner turmoil. "We still maintain a cordial relationship, John, do we not? And I don't want to move from here, John. It'll disrupt my flow."
John lets out a disbelieving noise. "Of all people, I can't say I expected you to be this obtuse. You, sir, will either move from that spot or I'm going to tie the blasted deerstalker to your head."
"So, like that statement where you said I was spectacularly ignorant about some things, did you mean for the obtuse comment to be conveyed in, what, a nice way?" Sherlock looks a little lost, then, but rallies magnificently. "Also, I most certainly will not. Why would you inflict such a thing upon my person? I thought you claimed you were my friend."
"Sherlock." John sighs, burying his face in one broad palm. "Sherlock. You can't be completely clueless when it comes to the science of attraction. Just like how you say being coy doesn't suit me, you shouldn't play oblivious; it doesn't suit you, either." He strides to where the abominable deerstalker (to Sherlock, anyway, John has no quarrel with the poor, discriminated-against hat) lies innocently on the mantelpiece and bends down where Sherlock is sitting. "All right, then. Here's the deerstalker."
"Oh, for God's sake, John," Sherlock snaps, but without bite, as he bats John's hands away. "What is with you and your fixation with this stupid, thrice-damned hat? And I'm not being oblivious! It's just an interesting experiment, that's all. Experiments with inconclusive results need to be repeated with different control methods. You're a qualified doctor, John, surely you are aware of that."
There is a sudden off-kilter, dizzying moment of vertigo. John swallows, heart beginning to thud wildly in his chest. "So… what exactly happens if any kind of not-sexual attraction occurs over the period of your ridiculous experiment?" He asks, casually, not meeting Sherlock's eyes as he pulls the deerstalker off Sherlock's wild black tufts of hair. John takes out Sherlock's pen and tosses it to him. "Here. Here's your bloody pen, you prat. You win."
Sherlock twirls the pen absently, twiddles it as he does with the other various objects in the house: his violin bow, his phone (small wonder the stupid thing is scratched), his rosin case, his books, everything. "Well." He pauses. "We would just have to conduct a different series of experiments if that happens, don't you think? That's the logical conclusion. So we can determine what to do about it, what the results are, and how it affects us. And thank you for the pen. See? You didn't even have to resort to deerstalkery blackmail in the first place."
John snorts, leaning a casual arm on the top of Sherlock's comfortable chair, enjoying their comfortable camaraderie. "What sort of experiments are you talking about, exactly? It may be of immediate concern, depending on how… ah," he coughs, then, "How a certain variable decides to sort itself out."
The paper rustles again as Sherlock writes some particularly vicious notes onto some articles detailing mysterious disappearances or cases in the town, dotting his is with a flourish only Sherlock knows how. "That depends on whether any of your puzzling and cryptic allusions to not-sexual attraction actually manifest over the period of said experiment, and what you're referring to exactly, John." He folds the paper on his lap, and turns his profile ever so slightly to look at John above him, tenting his hands again. "Pray tell."
Coughing not-so-discreetly, John feels the telltale heat of a blush working its way up his cheeks. "I'd… rather not, if it's all the same to you. You'd probably know, anyway, if you were to think about it in your beloved mind palace, eh?" John will never let Sherlock live that down; for all that he is fiercely protective of Sherlock and won't have anyone speaking badly of him in his presence, it's still quite the popular inside joke he shares with Mycroft whenever the older Holmes comes to visit.
Sherlock's expression is owlish, his eyes disconcertingly attentive. "You seem a bit agitated, John," he says, slowly. "Perhaps some… tea? Is this because of a distinct lack of tea?"
"No, it's not the tea!" John shouts, and immediately sobers at Sherlock's surprised, raised eyebrow. "Sorry, I mean," he stammers. I'm so sorry, it's just." He gives up trying to form a sentence that explains his outburst. "So yes, I'll have some tea, please."
Raising both eyebrows now, Sherlock's smile twitches. "Sure, the bags are over there. Help yourself." He turns back to the wall. "Tea always helps."
John feels unaccountably sulky, all of a sudden. "Will you make me a cup of tea, Sherlock?"
Sherlock turns back to him again, cricking his neck as he does so, and John attempts to scrutinise his face, tries to read him the way Sherlock does everyone, but he can't come away with anything. Damnably vague man, he thinks fondly. So expressive and yet so hidden.
"But the teapot's out and everything," Sherlock drawls, as if that's the most obvious statement in the world and wow, John, how could you not notice the teapot out, John, really. "I could, but why will I need to make it for you specifically? It's not any different from your tea, I presume."
He gets up anyway, and shuffles over to the teapot.
"Thank you," John laughs, gentle and quiet. He leans back in Sherlock's chair, not giving a damn if Sherlock'll throw a fit about it later (he's peculiarly possessive about leaving things as he left them, but John likes to intrude on his personal space sometimes just to spite him, for the sheer hell of it), his eyes shutting despite himself. It's been a long day, and a long week. "Really though, Sherlock, your experiment is probably backfiring," he says, not really to Sherlock, not really to anyone. Just himself. "On me."
He startles awake about a half-hour later, bleary-eyed and soft with sleep. "Bugger," he swears, under his breath. "You've just left the house again! Bloody irresponsible bloke, aren't you?" He stands up, heading towards the small kitchen to make his own tea. Sherlock laughs from a corner of the room he didn't notice as he stood up, and he turns back to the sound of that laughter. "I didn't hear a word, but I brought back more tea." He gestures to the table, where a few new boxes of different kinds of tea await him. "I didn't want to wake you, but yes, we have more tea. So. Would it make you feel better if I made you a great pot of tea?"
John responds to his laughter in kind, expression bright with mirth. "Depends, Sherlock. The last time his happened, you were supposedly trying to gauge my reaction by attacking me with a random kiss," he grins, but there's something a little uncertain beneath his smile that he hopes Sherlock won't notice, brilliant Sherlock and his uncanny ability to read so many life stories from a twitch of one's lips, the state of one's wedding ring. "Please explain what you're up to, you cad, before I smother you in your sleep."
The smell of freshly brewed Earl Grey soon wafts over, and John can't help but take in a deep breath of it. Tea. They're so British, it hurts. "It was an experiment," Sherlock says as he brings the tea over to John, who takes a sip and makes an approving sort of noise. "You know, you'd looked clearly irritable, then, and I was curious as to what could remedy that. For example, would your favorite things help? And then, because people these days kept hammering on about how snogging actually helps, I decided to try that. It was a legitimate attempt to assuage my curiosity. And as to what I'm up to," Sherlock looks at his tea. "I… genuinely wanted to make a pot of tea."
He looks so forlorn, John is overcome by exasperated affection. "And how exactly did you conclude that snogging you is one of my favourite things?" Also, wow, that did come out completely wrong.
"I didn't say that," Sherlock declares. "I said your favourite things could possibly cheer you up, and that people have claimed, perhaps inaccurately, that snogging does the same. Unless you're implying that snogging me is now one of your new favourite things."
There's a odd, telling kind of silence between them, but Sherlock just looks expectant and completely oblivious. Very Sherlock of him.
John clears his throat, and turns a rather interesting shade of pink he's mortified at. He's seen himself in the mirror before when he feels like this around girls, and it's not an appealing sight! "Of course not, Sherlock," he stumbles over his words a little, hating that he feels like he's eighteen again, sometimes, and completely stupid. "That's just ridiculous."
Sherlock just narrows his eyes, leaning in and peering into John's eyes, brushing a thumb across his war-hardened wrist. It doesn't tremble these days, not in the slightest, with all the danger they get up to. But it does, sometimes, just a tingling twitch, when Sherlock's a little too close, when his breath skitters against John's neck. When it's Sherlock, really.
"You look feverish. Should I take your pulse?" Sherlock asks, concerned.
John jumps back a little, startled. "No, absolutely not," he almost shouts again, embarrassed, certain that he's much redder now.
"Are you absolutely sure about that?" Sherlock goes on. "There's no need to be all flustered, surely, it is just a simple examination after all. With all your shouting, Mrs. Hudson might get the wrong idea."
John should be ashamed of how much he splutters indignantly around Sherlock, but he can't help it. "Wrong idea? What. What wrong idea are we talking about? I'm absolutely fine, I'm just—" He stops, tries to rearrange his thoughts. "Well, I'm not fine, but you're—"
He sighs, wondering which deity hates him (even if he's never really been religious since the war — some things make you cold, make you jaded beyond belief), and grabs Sherlock's papers as he trails off. He makes a show of reading the articles.
Sherlock pulls his violin over from its case, plucking distractedly at the strings. It's in tune — he tunes it almost every day. "Mmm," he murmurs. "You know how everyone seems convinced we're a couple; we'd just cement the impression further. Not that we have to be in a relationship for experimental snogging to occur, of course, but Mrs. Hudson seems oddly fascinated with the idea of us. I do believe I caught her listening at the doorknob, once."
It's unfortunate that his life plays out like a comedy of errors, sometimes, because John has chosen that exact moment to sip his tea and that thus results in him nearly spitting it out in a most unceremonious fashion. "What," he chokes. "And who says it's an impression," He says to himself, "With this great prat running around missing the important stuff."
Sherlock doesn't continue, so John picks up the threads of their exchange. "I think you're looking at this the wrong way again," he says carefully. "Think more in terms of earth-goes-around-the-sun."
"Isn't it, though," Sherlock strokes the neck of his violin off-handedly, his other hand twisting the pegs into place. John's eyes can't help but linger on the curve of his wrists, those immeasurably talented fingers— yes, back to concentrating on Sherlock's words. "I'm not sure what you mean, John. I only keep the important information in my hard disk. It's hardly a wrong way. Besides, the earth going around the sun is an irrelevant and ultimately non-beneficial piece of trivia." He scoffs, disdainfully.
"Then," John still feels flushed, "my so-called sentiments are clearly not a part of that wondrously thick disk of yours."
There's another pregnant pause that seems to fill the world, and they both fidget. Sherlock is blessedly composed as ever, and he begins to ask, in a completely neutral tone: "Are we still talking about the same… hard disk, or?"
"Oh, for the love of God," John sounds strangled. "Will you— try and get your brilliant mind around the fact that I," and there's no easy way to say this, "that I like you?"
Judging from Sherlock's expression, the proverbial penny still hasn't quite dropped. "Of course you do," he says in surprise, and John feels somewhat thrown by that. "You wouldn't be my flatemate otherwise, would you? A certain degree of friendliness is to be expected and preferred for such-and-such an arrangement to be at its most effective. Plus, you get the groceries." Here, Sherlock just smiles, disarming. "I'm thankful for that."
"No," John enunciates, with no small amount of caution. "That… not what I meant. You know that, don't you?" Really, how could someone so brilliant be so daft? "How am I supposed to explain in no uncertain terms that I like you quite a lot, Sherlock?"
"I suppose I do," Sherlock muses, grabs John's laptop and takes a deep breath before he continues in a rush: "Yes. I must conclude that I am aware. You make tea, and you do little chores for me when I ask you, even if I don't request it of you in the most pleasant of manners — and anyone else might've made an experiment of that itself, but that wouldn't be good of me to do so even in the name of science and you're nice to everyone but you're exasperated and chiding and a little angry with me every now and then which is different but also oddly comforting in its very own way but then you tolerate my company and don't tell me to piss off at all despite your dealing with my little idiosyncrasies on a regular basis."
Gobsmacked, John just stares as Sherlock rattles on. "You keep me grounded, John, and you do like me, or you wouldn't keep sticking around the way many people have not and I suppose in my own way I want to tell you that I do appreciate that but I'm not sure how I can fully express my appreciation in a socially acceptable manner so." He stops, and browses John's open tabs before typing in the URLs he wants to load. "Also, I confiscate your laptop constantly, so you must rather like me to not put an immediate stop to it."
John just rolls his eyes at the casually-delivered cheek, and snatches his laptop back while ignoring Sherlock's epic pout. Not that Sherlock would admit that it was a pout, of course. He rubs against the cover of his laptop vaguely, wondering how to best phrase his next words. In the end, he just decides to fuck all. "Well," he begins hesitantly. "I rather like it when you kiss me, too. Is that slightly clearer?"
Sherlock makes a little disgruntled and indignant noise, presumably as an audible response to John's laptop-snatching. "I wasn't done with the laptop," he says a little chidingly, "but if you must. And, well. I knew that. Your response to the kissing was anything but negative. Encouraging, even."
The room suddenly seems too incredibly small, as a sudden overwhelming wave of heat envelops John. He recalls gasping at the sudden kiss, when Sherlock so casually leaned over and pressed his lips to his own, at the intrusion and the glorious, sheer pleasure of it. John also blinks and turns red when he realised he must've been quite a sight, kissing back with a fervor he'd never known he possessed, completely letting go with Sherlock the way he couldn't around women when he wanted to be gentle, to court, to dance.
"The only natural conclusion one could draw from that," Sherlock deliberates, voice even, "is that you liked it. Quite a lot, I dare say."
John's eyes meet Sherlock's, and he can't look away. "The emphasis lies more on the fact that it was you," he divulges. "Not the kissing."
If he's already dug his grave to such an extent, so be it. "I like you even when you're playing the violin at ungodly hours," John admits. "Or even when you're shooting holes in our wall, or keeping bodies in the fridge. For God's sake, I like you even when you don't speak for days, so lost in your thoughts, when you don't get up to get the stupid milk for weeks or even when you won't leave the house because you can't be bothered to put some clothes on. I. Like. You."
He feels a little irritated that Sherlock is not more perturbed by this, that this isn't quite coming as a revelation. Sherlock might be a know-it-all, but he's pants at this feelings nonsense, so it is highly unlikely he truly grasps the gravitas of the situation. John sighs, feeling a little put-upon. "You can't be so daft, Sherlock. It doesn't suit you at all."
Sherlock's eyes are still fixed on him, widening most assuredly in comprehension, putting aside his cooling mug of tea. "Oh." The detective starts, eloquently, in a small voice. "Well… all right, then. What do you want me to do about it?" He seems uncertain, at sea, and completely ruins the moment by adding, "I see now it's really not about the tea."
"No, Sherlock," John sighs, for the umpteenth time, puts his own mug aside. "It's never about the tea. Except when I wish you'd bloody restock it when you finish it, which…" he makes an empathetic nod towards the table, "Which you at least did, this time. So… for starters: you could proceed with your ridiculous kissing experiment and come over here."
Sherlock stands and moves over to where John is seated, moving close, but not close enough, and John yearns. Yearns for him, even though he's so near, but it's never enough for him; he can't ever close enough to this brilliant, wonderful man whom he's just dizzy for, dizzy like how he is for his girls, only perhaps more in a way he can't explain, even if he is decidedly not gay.
"So," Sherlock breathes. "What are the variables at play, here?"
John swallows. "That… that at least one of us is attracted to the other, despite our sexual orientations, and that one of us doesn't give a flying fuck about the experiment."
"Very well." Sherlock hesitates, only for a second, and trails a questioning thumb along the stubble of John's cheek. John has to close his eyes at the intimacy of it; it's maddening and arousing and sweet all at once, a flurry of sensations. "Since you— don't want me to be coy, as you so delicately put it, I'm going to assume the latter describes you. But humour me, John," he moves around, breathing curiously on John's ear, and seems intrigued by the way John shudders at that. "What kind of kiss would you like best?"
The question is unexpected. "What do you mean, what kind of kiss?"
Sherlock tilts his head, moving back to look John in the eye, and John mourns the sudden loss of contact. He lets out a most undignified squeak, then, when Sherlock straddles him in his chair, upturned collars and all.
"I understand you do not view it as an experiment, and I certainly wouldn't consider you as just a section of this experiment, you mean too much to me," he confesses almost casually, and John feels too-warm all over. "But surely there are different kinds of kisses you prefer. Tell me, John."
His voice is intoxicating, and John feels him in his system like a drug. "Do you prefer your kisses teasing, John?" A light nip at his bottom lip, testing.
"Or a deeper, open-mouthed one?" That's all the warning he gets before that wicked, inquisitive mouth locks on his, exploratory.
"Or something with more heat," Sherlock says, his voice dropping several notches, as he slides his right hand up to John's nape, tugging with purpose at the hairs there, and his damning intense eyes are still locked on his and John feels the most turned on he's been in weeks, "with more limbs involved, with more technique? It's always about you, for what you like — and I'll only be too glad to abide by you."
"Hell with it," John snaps, feeling his self-control break away entirely, and yanks Sherlock by his scarf to snog him thoroughly. They kiss and bite and move and hiss for several minutes, and then John finally pulls away, slightly breathless. "There. That sort. Please tell me you understand."
He's a little smug to see that even Sherlock is a little disoriented at that. "Ah, so you want to go for the completely mind-blanking kind of kiss, then," he says, almost slurring, and something in John clenches with affection at that. "Very well."
So he leans back in for another kiss just like that, and another, and another.