"I was in a relationship once."
John jumped. Sherlock had been silent for a long time; this was the first he had made any noise really since he told Sherlock Irene was never coming back. He had been looking through the microscope at the same thing for what felt like a week. John nearly dropped the coffee he had been drinking into his lap. He set it down next to the newspaper he was reading. "What?"
"Irene called me a virgin and I realized that my lack of romantic partners in my life had led the general public to an incorrect conclusion. I thought maybe you had come to the same and therefore I was correcting the misconception."
John stared at his friend shocked. What a strange thing to bring up.
"His name was Vince."
"So you are gay?"
John rolled his eyes. "Of course it is. When was this fling of yours?"
"When I was at university. He was clever, and could last more than a few rounds of chess with me and we quickly became friends. The first and only one I had ever had. I knew that he found my appearance appealing but generally I ignored it." Sherlock changed the slide under the instrument and fiddled with the focus. "In our second year, he asked to begin a relationship with me. I refused at first, saying it would get in the way of our friendship- sex always does that. Vince told me he was in love with me and that in time I would learn to love him."
John clenched his fists.
"I didn't want to lose him as a friend so I consented. He would regale me with compliments and declarations of love. I was content but as our relationship wore on he grew impatient. He would ask why I did not wish to have intercourse with him and called me cold until I consented."
"Did you really believe such nonsense?"
"Of course. We had sex a grand total of once- during winter break. After which I made sure there was never such an opportunity again until I had sorted out my own feelings. Vince came to my flat one early spring morning and demanded I say that I loved him. I kindly explained that I could not lie to him in such a manner. The affection I had for him was that of a friend. I apologized for not informing him sooner and asked him to leave."
"What happened?" John asked, pretending to examine the mug in front of him.
"He did not leave. He ranted about how I was not normal. How I was obviously incapable of such an emotion as love. He decided I was using him for sex and punched me in the nose. Afterward he screamed that he never wanted to see my face again." Sherlock had told the story in his usual voice but by the end of it John was shaking with anger. "Mycroft was there within ten minutes. It was how I first realized that my brother was keeping tabs on me. I was obviously upset by the affair and he told me everything would be fine. He stayed 'til I fell asleep and was gone when I awoke."
"Did you ever see Vince again?"
"No. He stopped coming to class. It was like he had disappeared…" Sherlock's voice trailed off. "I never understood love. I thought maybe what Vince had said was true. So when I looked it up I immediately concluded that I was a high functioning sociopath. I didn't feel the same as other people. Acknowledging it just made life easier."
"You're not a socio-"
"I know that now, but back then I was too hurt to think that maybe I was just accepting what I wanted to be true. In truth, Vince hurt me deeply. Though I wasn't in love with him, I did care for him."
"What did you do?"
Sherlock smirked. "I dropped out of school and became a consulting detective."
John's eyes went wide. "You never finished university?"
Sherlock laughed. "No, I didn't need to when going into business for myself. Anyway, later I found out Mycroft had suggested that Vince study abroad in America and never come back. He never did. I was angry at my brother for a long time… Thinking about it later, I realized that it wasn't my fault. Vince was not a good friend or lover and it was better that he left me when he did."
John sighed. This was a lot to pour on him all at once. "Mycroft is always trying to protect you."
"I know, but I was young and hadn't ever had someone who made me feel so…"
Sherlock looked up for the first time since their conversation began. His eyes shined bright with amusement. "I suppose so. I couldn't think of a word but that is a marvelous one."
"So you've still never been in love?"
Sherlock mulled that over for a minute. "I wouldn't know. I don't understand it so I wouldn't be able to recognize it even if I were."
John deflated a bit. Poor Sherlock, he had known that his life had been lonely but he never imagined he'd been so wronged in the past. Sherlock never let emotion get the best of him. "Not even with Irene?"
Sherlock let out a short bark of laughter. "That woman… I would get bored. I almost always get bored."
John could believe that. "That does seem to be true." John got up and took his coffee mug to the stink to rinse it out.
"I have my exceptions though."
"A good case, crap tellie, the different postmortem bruising patterns-"
John flushed scarlet and nearly dropped the mug he was washing. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm the most boring of all."
"Such lies. I can figure you out in a second but somehow you still manage to surprise me. I don't think I could ever get bored." With that, Sherlock went back to whatever was under the microscope.
John just stood at the sink, letting the water run and trying to calm his heart. It was silly, letting his pulse get so fast.
"Are you alright, John?"
"Of course." John turned around to find his flat mate away from the table and right in his face. Sherlock grabbed his wrist and pressed a hand to his head. "Well, you do have a bit of a fever-"
"I'm fine," John proclaimed, snatching back his hand.
Sherlock smirked and returned to the table. "I suppose now is not a good time. We have a client anyway."
John was about to ask what client when there was a buzz at the door.