Follow the Evidence
Rating: T (for romance)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Humor
Wordcount: ~7,600 (total)
Disclaimer: All characters and settings belong to Sir A C Doyle, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rupert Graves. Story is my own.
Author's Note: Oh, you guys! The reviews, the faves, the saves! *flails* You guys are overwhelming. Thank you so much for your kindness, and for reviewing/faving/saving in the first place. Every single one makes me want to write a thousand words more and a thousand times better, so thank you.
Their conversation got rather loud after that, but Sherlock was glad he'd managed to distract Lestrade from the doubloon. He was pretty sure he couldn't part with that one if his life depended upon it.
Sherlock finally realized that John's voice had joined the yelling.
That was. . . bit not good.
He turned to find his flatmate standing in the doorway, glaring at them. John was wearing jeans, and the red button-down shirt, and his black coat, and there were raindrops in his hair, and sometimes he looked so small and soft Sherlock felt the unreasonable and frankly alarming urge to try to lift him.
"I've just gotten off a long shift at the surgery," John turned the full force of his glare on Sherlock, "where I work to pay our rent," turned to Lestrade, "so he can solve cases for you. So if you don't mind, I'm going to have a nice cuppa, and you two are going to keep it down to foghorn level. Understood?"
Sherlock nodded. Out of the corner of his eye he caught Lestrade nodding, too. For the second time that night, Sherlock found himself impressed. When he put his mind to it, John could be very. . .impressive.
John had flicked the kettle on before Sherlock remembered that he must, at all costs, keep Lestrade distracted from the doubloon.
"John!" Sherlock cried, rushing to the kitchen. "He wants to take the hairpin."
The glare was entirely gone from his face when John turned to look at him. Then he glanced around Sherlock to look at Lestrade. "Why?"
"It's evidence," Lestrade said, all calm professionalism again. "Turns out there's quite a lot of evidence missing, so I decided to come get some of it back before it becomes a problem on desks much higher up than mine."
John nodded absently, then turned back to the kettle. Sherlock felt as though he was watching John circling for a fight, though he couldn't imagine why that should be. The doctor leaned against the counter, and didn't move until the kettle clicked off. Then he opened the two drawers and one cupboard necessary to make a cup of tea. Three cups of tea, actually, one of which was waved in Lestrade's direction before it was set down on the table, the second of which was thrust into Sherlock's hands before he could object, and the third of which was scooped up by John. Neither Sherlock nor Lestrade took their eyes off the formidable doctor until he had sat down at the table and drank half his tea down in one go.
Then he looked at Lestrade, and his face was hard. "Did he put you up to this?"
Lestrade blinked. "Sorry. What?"
"Him," John said, jerking a thumb towards Sherlock where he still stood next to the table without looking at him. "Did he put you up to this? Somehow manipulate you into asking me for the hairpin?"
"No," Lestrade said. He waved the evidence lists vaguely. "I've a list."
John glanced between them a few times, before his face relaxed. Sherlock hadn't realized how tense he'd been until he saw John smile. "Oh, bollocks," said John. Then he smiled up at Sherlock. "I was sure you wouldn't find it for at least another week."
"How unfortunate," said Sherlock.
John nodded, drained his mug, and stood. He went, not to the living room, but to the sliding door that separated the living room from the kitchen. Fumbled for a moment with the latch, then drew out a long hairpin.
"That's cheating!" Sherlock cried. "You hid it there last time!"
John handed the hairpin to Lestrade, then turned to look at Sherlock with what the younger man thought might have been the most beautiful, honest, wide smile he'd ever seen. "I know. And you've looked everywhere else, haven't you?"
"Devious," Sherlock murmured appreciatively, aware that a grin was spreading across his own face.
Sherlock jolted when Lestrade cleared his throat. How long had he been staring at John's smile? John didn't seem startled by the sudden noise, though, so perhaps it hadn't been for that long.
"Is there anything else you can't find?" John asked.
Sherlock opened his mouth, even got the words "Lestrade, your wife" out, but it was too late.
Lestrade spoke over him, saying to John, "There's still a missing gold doubloon."
Sherlock's mouth snapped shut. John immediately shot him a glance, but he managed to carefully blank his face before the doctor's eyes reached his own.
John didn't know that Sherlock still had the doubloon. He had been very, very careful to make sure John believed that Sherlock turned it in to the Yard the next morning. He'd even made a point of making sure John could see it when he handed it across the counter. He'd simply waited for John to get distracted, and then snuck back and stole it again.
"A doubloon?" John asked. His voice was quiet. His eyes were on Sherlock. His question was almost certainly directed at Lestrade.
"Yeah," said Lestrade. "You remember. From that smuggling case a few months back. Something about the man's shoes being undone, causing him to accidentally fall through a window?" He laughed at the weak joke, but neither Sherlock nor John reacted.
"I see," said John. Sherlock was worried that, indeed, he might.
Then John drew his eyes away from Sherlock's, and the younger man found that he could suddenly breathe. When had he stopped, exactly?
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind, however, than he stopped breathing again.
John turned to Lestrade and said, "We don't have that one. I'm sure of it."
"Look, John," Lestrade began, but John cut him off. "No. Sherlock turned that in the next morning. I saw it with my own two eyes. I'd know if he'd gotten it back."
John smiled at him, completely guileless. Did he really not know? "We don't have it, Greg. Sorry."
Lestrade looked like he was trying to think of something else to say, some other way to persuade John over to his way of thinking, but then John walked briskly over to the coffee table. "Wow," he said, "that's quite the pile of junk. I didn't know half of this was evidence."
He lifted something, and Sherlock registered distantly that John was gently holding the pig's jaw. That seemed important, for some reason, but Sherlock couldn't quite grasp why.
Sherlock ignored them both as they continued talking. He was too focused on riddling out what exactly all this evidence pointed at to bother with what they were saying.
Sherlock had wanted to keep the pig's jaw. And the earrings. And the other things. And Lestrade had obviously understood why they were important, even if it abruptly seemed that Sherlock didn't. Sherlock couldn't part with the coin, not if his life depended on it, and why? What reason could there possibly be for such attachment to such an object? Was this, perhaps, another occurrence of the mysterious friendship things?
Eventually Lestrade left; Sherlock only bothered noticing because it meant that he and John were alone, now, and what on earth was either of them going to say?
"So, the doubloon?" John asked, coming back into the kitchen. He didn't sound upset. Or angry. Or embarrassed. Or. . . anything, really, other than calm and politely inquiring. "Drink your tea," he added.
Sherlock took a sip. It was cold and disgusting. He took another sip anyway.
John took his own cup to the sink, turned his back to Sherlock. "Can I see it, please?"
Sherlock set his now-empty cup down next to John, because he certainly hadn't wanted the tea, so of course he wasn't going to wash the cup. He heard John huff as he walked out of the kitchen towards his room.
In a minute he was back, and John's hands were dry as he took the doubloon from Sherlock's.
"You never mock me, John," said Sherlock, suddenly remembering what he'd meant to ask John.
Had he meant to ask John? Or had he meant to avoid the topic? Oh well; nothing to be done now.
John glanced up at him, clearly confused. "Never on purpose," he said.
"No," Sherlock insisted, "no, you just never mock me. You tease me. And I tease you. And I- - - and I mock you, John."
John shrugged. "Well, yeah. But only sometimes."
Sherlock didn't know what to do. He mocked John sometimes. Sometimes, Sherlock treated John the way everyone else treated Sherlock.
"When did I start mocking you?"
John tilted his head, looking up at the ceiling. "I don't know," he said. "Day two? Day three? Certainly felt like you sometimes made a mockery of me from day one." He giggled, then turned his attention back to the coin he was still holding.
John told Sherlock that he'd been made a mockery of from day one and laughed about it.
The words were all lined up behind Sherlock's teeth, ready to jump out and demand John explain to him why the hell he stayed, why in God's name he stuck around if Sherlock mocked him, if Sherlock made him feel like a freak, but before the words reached air John was talking again.
"What other evidence did you refuse to part with?"
"I refused to part with any of it. Lestrade's been learning, though, I'm afraid, and I was forced to strategically give up some of the more unimportant items."
"And the important ones?"
"I argued, and Lestrade relented."
"All right, then," said John, "what were the important ones?"
Sherlock told him. Though John kept his head tilted down towards his hands while Sherlock spoke, Sherlock could still see his face. They were standing two paces apart, so the angle wasn't ideal, but it was enough to allow Sherlock to see that John was mentally placing every piece of evidence Sherlock listed. He could see the wheels turning in John's head, could see when John finally placed which case it had been, could see the fresh confusion as he wondered why Sherlock would want a keepsake from that.
Sherlock could also see when John finally realized why Sherlock had kept every item. What Sherlock could not see, much to his chagrin, was what conclusions John was drawing about Sherlock's reasons.
Once Sherlock was done, there was silence. Neither of them moved. Sherlock didn't know what to do.
"Is there anything else you've taken? Things that may not be evidence, but that are keepsakes nonetheless?"
Sherlock opened his mouth to answer just as John lifted his eyes. His eyes, which were so, so blue, and clear, met Sherlock's, and the younger man blamed the sudden dizziness for why he accidentally blurted out, "I stole Lestrade's ID."
"Yeah, I know," the crinkles on John's face that Sherlock liked best, the laugh lines, deepened as John smiled. "You've got a stack of them. I've seen."
"No," Sherlock said, realizing that if he were pacing he wouldn't be able to keep staring at John. He began pacing furiously, then reached into his pocket and pulled out Lestrade's ID. "I meant just now. Tonight. I picked his pocket right after you got home."
"Why?" John asked.
Sherlock didn't answer, just kept pacing.
"What on earth could you want to commemorate about tonight?"
Sherlock stopped pacing in front of the fireplace. He had once received an electric shock, and quite aside from the unpleasantness, one of the things Sherlock remembered the most clearly was how rigid his every muscle had gone at the touch of the electricity. Just then, it felt like he was being shocked again.
"Hey," John said. Sherlock hadn't heard him move, but John's hand was warm and steady on his shoulder. "I'm not going to bite you. Or hurt you, or leave you, or mock you, or whatever it is you're scared of. Just tell me."
"I'm not scared," Sherlock spat.
John walked to stand in front of him, and why did John's smile have to be so damn soothing? "Well, then, if you're not scared, tell me what you're trying to commemorate?"
Sherlock reached a decision. No matter what John did, John would be kind about it. And if Sherlock didn't say it now, not even the gold doubloon would be able to save him from the blackness he could feel hovering.
John was looking at him, kind and concerned, so Sherlock managed to whisper, "To commemorate when and how I realized you just might love me."
Never had John looked happier. Never had Sherlock more violently wished to die than when John shouted, "Wrong! Totally wrong!"
Sherlock tried to turn away, but John caught him by the shoulders. "No 'might' about it, daftie. You stole that ID to commemorate the night you finally figured out that we're in love with each other."
If John's hands weren't so very, very warm on his shoulders, right through all his clothes, Sherlock might have froze. As it was, all he could do was look down at John.
John, who was patient and teased him and didn't leave when Sherlock mocked him. John, who could stitch any wound and comfort any hurt and kill any villain, who could make Sherlock eat when he didn't want to, could make Sherlock feel whether he wanted to or not. John, who was so handsome Sherlock's chest clenched and his hands fisted at his sides.
John, who was staring up at him with such undisguised affection Sherlock couldn't help but ask, very quietly, "You. . . you love me?"
John nodded. "Of course I do, you daft git. Have done for ages. And you have been in love with me since that first day at Bart's. Now shut up and kiss me, or I'll give Lestrade's ID back to him."
There was nothing Sherlock would have liked to do more than kiss John. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite sure how to go about it. But he didn't want John to think he wasn't willing, so he squeezed his eyes shut and puckered his lips and leaned down.
John giggled. "Silly git," he whispered. Then he slid his hands down Sherlock's arms and took his hands. Laid his hands against John's own shoulders. Then both of John's arms slid up his chest, and over his neck, and cupped his face between his palms the way Sherlock clenched the doubloon between his hands when he was trying to scare the blackness away.
"Relax your mouth," John whispered, tugging Sherlock's head down at an angle, and John must have tipped his head back, because Sherlock could feel John's breath on his face, and even though it was warm it made Sherlock shiver. He tried to relax his lips, but he had never been more frightened in his life, and he knew that all he could do was press his lips into a line and squeeze his eyes tighter, and would John think that meant he didn't want- - -
John pressed his lips to Sherlock's.
It was warm and chaste and neither of them opened their mouths- - - Sherlock suspected John didn't want to overwhelm him, for which he was grateful. After a moment it felt like John's warmth was melting him straight through, and he spread his hands on John's shoulders. But that wasn't enough, so he wrapped his arms around John's back and pulled him as close as he could and held him as tight as his arms were able. He fit against Sherlock's chest wonderfully, all warm and solid and unreasonably soft.
"Oh, god," John breathed against his mouth. Then he pressed his lips once more to Sherlock's, briefly, before using his hands to draw Sherlock's face lower. Sherlock held on tight and let John do as he pleased.
John kissed one corner of his mouth, then the other, then his jaw, then his cheek, his nose, his cheekbone, his eyelid. . . John's lips skipped over Sherlock's face, and in between kisses John was muttering nonsense. "You're so beautiful. . . God, I can't even tell you. . . I want you so much. . . for so long. . . wanted you for so long, Sherlock. . . Sherlock. . . Sherlock. . . God, I love. . . I love you so much. . . Oh, god, Sherlock. . ."
When Sherlock couldn't take it anymore, and knew that if he opened his eyes he wouldn't be able to bear the look on John's face, Sherlock wrenched one of his hands away from John's back to hold the side of his face and guide their lips together again. This time John didn't hold back nearly so much. Sherlock was already overwhelmed, anyway, and a quick learner. Therefore, this kiss was a bit. . . different. Not so chaste.
A ridiculous thought popped into his head, and Sherlock immediately pulled back slightly, opening his eyes. He was treated to the sight of John squeezing his eyes tight shut and following his lips with his own, clearly desperate for more. The sight made Sherlock feel incredibly smug, though he couldn't quite pinpoint why.
"You," Sherlock began, his voice far more hoarse than he'd expected. He blinked in confusion. John opened his eyes, and Sherlock couldn't help but smile. "You wouldn't really give Lestrade's ID back to him."
"Mmmmm nope," said John, smiling, tapping a brief kiss to Sherlock's chin before pulling back to look at him again. One of his arms had migrated away from Sherlock's face to wrap around his waist, and he tightened this arm to draw Sherlock impossibly closer. "Never."
From that day forth that particular ID never left 221B. Sherlock had wanted to keep it on the bedside table, but John tossed it through the door, saying that having a picture of anyone that close to the bed made it feel like someone was watching them and gave him the creeps. He looked so adorable when he was creeped out Sherlock kissed him again, and made a mental note to take him to as many haunted houses that fall as he could possibly find.
Even when Lestrade called the next morning- - - neither of them heard their phones ring the first few times- - - and cursed a blue streak at Sherlock and John and anyone else who happened to be listening, they never did give it back.
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