Title: A Case of Identity
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Pairing: John/Sherlock; John's POV
Summary: John and Sherlock have succeeded in rebuilding their friendship after Sherlock's fake suicide. While the unusual case of Sherlock's ex-boyfriend stretches Sherlock to the limit, John finds himself being drawn to Sherlock, and inevitably experiencing a [sexual identity-]crisis...
Category: Slash/ Romance/ Crime/ Humor
Author's note: The plot is set after series 2. The story describes the development of a realistic love story between John Watson und Sherlock Holmes, built on the fundament of the strong friendship between them. I tried to stay in character. Please read at least a few chapters before thinking of abandoning the story. I hope you will like it and not abandon it at all. The story starts with a fake engagement, but this will not be the main subject. There are two men, bound to each other by deep and loyal friendship, who discover that they do love each other not only in a friendly, brotherly way. But each one of them has to fight his own demons before he can think of taking their relationship to a new level...Please review.
The chapter is betad by TeapotInATempest and JustBeAQueen. Thank you so much.
You can find a Chinese translation on www. mtslash viewthread. php?tid = 69992&extra = &page = 1 (without the spaces)
Registration is required to read it there. Thanks to hwenqi for translating it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, except the plot. I don't make money with it. Sherlock Holmes belongs to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ad Sherlock belongs to the BBC, Moffat and Gatiss.
John was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper at breakfast.
His eyes, however, were skimming the same article again and again, without really taking in the contents. John's whole attention was drawn to his flat mate and best friend, who could behave extremely eccentric and who, in his opinion, didn't miss a chance to do exactly that. Meanwhile John was convinced that the earth didn't just revolve around the sun, but rather around Sherlock, not to mention about his own life. Every few seconds John looked at him closely over the edge of the newspaper and watched his curious activities that morning. Actually, all of this had already started the day before...
Since the evening before, Sherlock was behaving peculiar, to put it mildly, and by "peculiar" John meant even more odd than usual. When he had left the morning before for work, he had left his friend at the kitchen table, hunched over one of his whimsical, chemical experiments. A quick glance had told him that Sherlock had been working with a brown liquid and something that looked suspiciously like toenails, and John had quickly decided that he didn't want to know any of the details.
When he came back that evening from the surgery, Sherlock had been restless and irritated, and John had decided it might be best for all parties concerned to leave him alone until Sherlock came to his senses again. It was unnecessary to say that John's actions had not completely been free from selfish motivation. Sherlock simply had these kinds of moods from time to time, and John had believed it to be a result of being without a case for more than three days, which precipitated these "withdrawal symptoms". Therefore, John had retreated to the living room to blog about their latest case, making himself comfortable in his armchair, when Sherlock claimed the armchair opposite him.
It wasn't unusual for them to sit together in silence, in fact, they sat together many evenings like that. It would have been perfectly normal had it not been for the fact that Sherlock had stared fixedly at him. Different than his usual staring, which, for some unexplainable reason Sherlock did occasionally. Somehow, he had looked haunted and harrowed, and he didn't avert his gaze from John for at least an hour, as if the answers to his questions could be found in John's features if he just searched hard enough. At some point John had started to feel incredibly uncomfortable and just when he had decided to ask his friend what the hell was wrong with him after all Sherlock had jumped out of his chair and announced that he had a few things to do. By then, it had already been ten o'clock. Before John had been able to utter a single word, Sherlock had dashed out of the door, leaving him behind in a confused state and with a queasy feeling in his stomach. Two hours later, he had come back home, just to continue scrutinizing John's features, but by then, he had looked in a different, curious way at him. Finally it went too far for John's taste, and he had slipped off to his own bedroom.
Now, Sherlock sat opposite John at breakfast, his elbows on the table, his hands put together under his chin, continuing where he stopped the day before, that is to say staring at John. He couldn't fend off the bad feeling that he had become one of Sherlock's experiments, and since he hadn't the faintest idea what kind of experiment, he was on his guard and didn't take his eyes off Sherlock.
Blindly he groped around for his coffee cup on the table with his hand, not averting his own eyes once from his friend. Everyone who'd see the two this way, looking deeply into each other's eyes, would undoubtedly think they were newly enamoured. This thought didn't really help John feeling any better.
As he finally took a sip of his coffee, he saw Sherlock put something on the plate before him.
Apparently Sherlock had finally decided to let the cat out of the bag.
Involuntarily John took a deep breath, relieved. Curiosity won out and John set the paper down.
The sight that awaited him, however, was unexpected.
A small black box was before him, open, inside a silver ring. It was beautiful, John had to admit. Brushed silver with a small purple stone in the middle of the band. Next to the band was another without any stone in it. There must be a second ring, a match to this one, in which the arrangement of the bands was the other way around. The ring was simple, yet refined, and John could easily have chosen it himself, if he would have to choose one.
John cursed himself. Curiosity killed the cat. "What is that?" he tried blankly.
Sherlock met his inquiring look with a blank expression. "A ring. Obviously."
His comment earned him a deprecating stare from John, who felt the urge again to punch the detective. "Yes, I can see that. The question is: What is the ring doing on my plate?" he asked testily, withstanding the temptation to indulge the urge.
"Try to make a deduction," Sherlock dared him to apply his methods. He leaned back in his chair, put his fingertips together under his chin and looked at John with an unreadable face.
While John had no idea where this was going, he felt a foreboding feeling starting in his belly that promised nothing good. "Is this another experiment of yours?" he asked incredulously. "Shall I eat the ring so you can measure God knows what?"
Sherlock frowned at him. "Don't be ridiculous. Sometimes you can be so slow. It's an engagement ring, John."
John looked at him in surprise. The queasy feeling in his belly spread out swiftly now and took possession of his stomach. "Whose?...What?"
"Yours. Obviously. It's on your plate," Sherlock stated matter-of-factly.
John did not see though why that would be obvious. Last time he checked, he was not engaged. Nor had he the desire to be so again, thank you very much. Especially not after the disaster with his former wife, Mary. After Sherlock jumped in his faked suicide, leaving John behind, he was broken. He eventually met Mary and fell in love with her. Or so he thought. He had hoped that the relationship would make his life at least a bit more liveable, if not necessarily full-value. In another life it might have worked. Perhaps if he would never have met Sherlock, it might have worked out. But he met Sherlock in the first place and when he figured out that Sherlock wasn't dead after all, fate simply took over. John and Sherlock were close as ever and rushing with him from crime scene to crime scene at godforsaken hours didn't improve his marriage. Whenever Sherlock called he would be off the moment he got his message. No matter what. In the grocery store at the chip and pin machine. While having dinner with Mary. While being out with Mary. Once even at a funeral. Mary eventually had enough and gave him an ultimatum. He had to choose between Sherlock and his wife, and well, there was nothing to choose of course. Mary moved out and they got divorced a few months earlier. Sherlock never had a good influence on his relationships.
"FROM ME. FOR YOU." Sherlock became slightly irritated and impatient.
John raised one eyebrow. Thanks to Sherlock's reply, by now, his stomach felt as if in choke hold. He couldn't believe his ears. Whatever was going on definitely fell into the category "a bit not good". "Right, uhm….I still don't get it, sorry. You want to marry me all of a sudden?" he asked confused. With Sherlock, one never knew…
"It's for a CASE, John," Sherlock replied, annoyed, and rolled his eyes.
John tried to collect his thoughts. "Sure. Of course. For a case. Obviously. …..Why?"
"Really, John", Sherlock exclaimed harshly. "What's wrong with you this morning? Don't be so slow. Slow is boring," he threatened.
John just shot him a glance. No need to argue with Sherlock. Although , theoretically there were probably one thousand reasons to argue with Sherlock; practically, there were none. John would lose. Moreover, he was still too happy that Sherlock was alive. So when Sherlock started to have his moods, John simply reminded himself that he was still his best friend after all. Most of the time this mantra did work. Sometimes though they got in a row. But he was certainly not interested in a row today. He didn't want to be distracted during his work at the surgery, and having a row with Sherlock never did his concentration any good.
John inhaled deeply and leaned back in his chair. "Please explain it to me," he asked Sherlock with the calmest voice he was able to produce.
"Because we need a cover. I need a fiancé." He looked quickly at John. "And I promised you to never keep you out again after…well, you know. But you are still a very bad liar and I need you to be a convincing boyfriend. We will start the case in three weeks. So I'm giving you some time to adjust to the idea and have some practice with me. No need to start the case any earlier," Sherlock rattled on.
John didn't hear anything after Practice. Somehow that sounded disturbing.
"What do you mean, practice?" John asked alarmed.
"Being a couple. Getting used to it. Being boyfriends. Come on, John. First you have to convince me that you can play your role well. Stick to it, in all circumstances." He paused for a moment, glancing at John uncomfortably. "And besides, you're much more experienced than I am. Actually I might need some guidance in this."
John sighed and watched Sherlock carefully. His nervousness was sort of touching. Nevertheless he asked quietly why it had to be him. Of course he knew why. Sherlock seemed to be able to read his thoughts, again.
"Whom else could I ask? Mycroft? Lestrade? That would be ridiculous. I NEED my blogger."
The thought of Sherlock faking a relationship with one of the other men was too funny. John tried to suppress a smirk. As a result, his objection inevitably lost some of its strength. "Sherlock, you're really asking too much this time."
"Oh please, John. Not that 'people might talk' thing again," Sherlock replied, being on edge.
Maybe he should try logic, John pondered. Considering the fact that the Holmes weren't exactly family men, maybe the underlying significance of family ties were beyond them. Social conventions weren't their pet issue after all.
"You know, it's nearly Christmas," John objected, trying to explain his resistance.
Sherlock made a face. "Yes. Boring."
"And you want me to maintain the role? Being engaged? Even in front of our families and friends?" John asked in disbelief.
"Problem?" Sherlock asked testily.
No, logic definitely wouldn't work.
"Well….Sherlock. Everyone already believes that we are a couple. I am not going to support that idea by telling everyone I am engaged to you. They are not just some people," John replied, trying tenaciously to talk his friend out of his engagement plans. "We can't just lie to them."
"The nature of our relationship is none of their business. You might call this a white lie, if a lie indeed. You could also text them about it and not attend any parties," Sherlock offered.
John only frowned at him. The nature of their relationship? He just hoped fervently that Sherlock wouldn't tell him next thing that the nature of their relationship was disputable.
"Oh, I see where this is going. I am very sorry for the terrible timing of this killer, John. Maybe we can ask him to wait until after New Year before striking again. Then we don't have to tell them," Sherlock said sarcastically. "You can correct it all afterwards, John, if you want to. Don't be silly."
…if you want? Why on earth wouldn't he want to? John's confusion grew exponential the more Sherlock explained and the more John himself objected.
"No one is going to believe that, Sherlock. Do you really not care one bit about that? Lying to them?" he asked. "You know what, don't answer that one," John added quickly. He knew he might not like the answer.
Sherlock sighed and bent forward. "John, please. Forget the rest for a moment. I really need you. I cannot do this on my own." Sherlock looked uncomfortable.
"Doing what?" John asked.
"Helping our client," he finally said.
John sighed and buried his face in his hands. He was sure he was not going to like it. Not one bit. But Sherlock saying please was all too rare and pointed at the seriousness of the situation. One never let down one's best friend after all…Still, John could not see where this was going. Silently he cursed himself for not being able to tell Sherlock no.
Slowly he took three deep breaths, bending forward and putting his elbows on his knees. "Fine," he said. "But if I have to tell my sister that I am engaged to you and I have to face your brother, we need to discuss terms," he declared with a serious face. He didn't even dare thinking about the Yard…
Sherlock watched him with curiosity. "Tell me."
"First: You will eat at least one proper meal a day. Second: You will try to get some sleep during the case. Third: You will be nice to both our families and friends at this year's Christmas party and you will make some effort to get them proper gifts. Four: You will not give me any pet names. Last but not least, you will rectify this whole situation when the case is solved," John said, determined. "The terms are not up for negotiation."
"That's not negotiating. That's blackmailing," Sherlock protested.
"I had a good teacher," John replied unmoved.
For a little while they were staring at each other silently again.
"Agreed," Sherlock finally answered with a heavy sigh.
"Well I guess at least I know what I'm committing myself to," John replied, shrugging. That was at least something, he comforted himself.
Sherlock stood up and went around the table to John. Hesitatingly he took the box from the table and took out the ring. Thoughtfully he watched it for several seconds before looking at John with that piercing manner which was appropriate to Sherlock.
John returned his look. He thought he saw a hint of embarrassment in the eyes of his usually self-confident friend. Instinctively John held out his hand to him, not averting his gaze from Sherlock.
The detective took his hand in his own and put the ring carefully on John's ring finger. He reached his hand in his pocket and took out a second ring, putting it carefully on his own finger.
The ring resembled his own, as John already had suspected. Since they were not just rings, but beautiful ones, someone had taken some effort to choose them. He wondered whether Sherlock bought them himself or the rings came to him in another way.
"That's settled then," Sherlock finally said, contented. The hint of embarrassment had vanished from his face. Sherlock moved to the living room to search among his papers. One moment later, he was already throwing them around the room, obviously not able to find what he was looking for.
"I'm off to take a shower before work," John said more to himself than to his friend. Realizing that John would not get any further information on the case at the moment, he may as well get ready for work.
"Hmmm." Sherlock's voice was muffled by the papers in front of him.
Just as John tried to make his way to the bathroom, Sherlock summoned him back. "Oh, and John. Don't you dare to take the ring off ever…"
"I'm just off for a shower. Come on, you can't be serious," John exclaimed in disbelief.
"John! Promise!" Sherlock insisted.
"All right, all right. I'm not going to take the bloody ring off until you say so," John replied, lifting his hands over his head defensively. He thought that his friend was still behaving extremely strange and only hoped that at least the staring would cease now they had settled the engagement thing. Why they couldn't just pretend to be engaged as soon as they were undercover instead of sort of really being engaged in front of the whole world, remained a mystery to him to which he wouldn't get an answer any time soon. John couldn't avoid the impression that there was something shady about the whole story…
Inwardly he was seething with rage about the taken-for-grantedness, with which people generally expected his obedience and he himself gave in again and again. From time to time it was enough to make you crazy!
"Whatever," John replied nevertheless and with that left for the bathroom, silently fuming.