John's voice is coming from the living room, which means he's probably sitting, typing that infernal blog, as per usual. If he's otherwise occupied by his pathetic vulture-like attempts at typing, Sherlock sees no need to pander to his almost certainly pedantic whim, whatever it is that he's going to ask of him. He doesn't respond.
"Sherlock?" John repeats, approximately ten seconds later. The evasion approach abandoned, Sherlock puts down his pipette and removes his goggles. He takes a few steps forward so that he's not actually in the living room but is visible to John from his vantage point at his desk.
"Yes?" he replies. "You wanted something vitally important or life-assuring?"
John looks at him, bewildered, and Sherlock thinks he looks very lost in this flat full of someone else's clutter in his baggy jumper that Sherlock secretly thinks looks like woollen porridge.
"Oh, no," he clarifies. "Nothing like that."
"I'd thought as much," Sherlock acknowledges. "What, then?"
"I was just typing this case up - " Of course, the blog. Always the blog. " – and I noticed the date. I moved in here exactly a year ago today, you know."
Sherlock doesn't see how this is relevant to either their latest case, which John is currently making a complete hash of writing about, or to Sherlock's very important experiments about fungal decay, so he merely raises an eyebrow. John looks slightly embarrassed.
"Just thought I'd point it out," he mumbles. "I wasn't expecting a bloody bouquet of roses or anything."
"Good," says Sherlock. Neither of them says anything else for a few moments, and Sherlock turns to check on the progress of his fungus.
"I thought maybe we could get a Chinese later or something," John continues, and Sherlock sighs, turning back around and forcing himself back into the tedious conversation.
"Mmm," he offers by way of a response, and John goes back to typing, his two index fingers making slow progress on 'The Bejewelled Welshman'.
"Most people celebrate anniversaries," he mutters.
Sherlock realises that this is an attempt at conforming to normal human expectations and decides that it's time to add the alkaline base to his experiment.
It's a few days later, at the morgue, when Sherlock remembers the strange little conversation he'd had with his flatmate on their 'anniversary'. He turns to Molly, who is – at his request – removing the toenails from a fresh cadaver. She feels his gaze upon her and looks up, meets his eye and blushes. She pulls off her latex gloves and picks up her mug of coffee. Sherlock thinks that if he cared, he'd be glad she wasn't one of these people who won't eat or drink around corpses. Those people have always irritated him.
"Yes?" she asks, nervously giggling. Sherlock notices that she's painted her fingernails, probably last night – no, not last night, she hasn't had time to remove the splash of crimson polish on the knuckle of her left index finger; must have been before this shift, then – and catalogues this fact for future reference.
"John is angry with me," he states. Molly's small smile falters briefly, but in the blink of an eye it reappears, slightly shaky.
"Oh?" she says quickly. "Why's that, then?"
Sherlock pokes the cheekbone of the fresh body on the morgue table. It feels stodgy, doughy. Obviously not that fresh, then.
"I didn't want to celebrate our anniversary," he answers. The flickering sadness on Molly's pinched features is impossible to miss, even for someone who isn't Sherlock Holmes. "He moved into 221B a year ago," he clarifies. He's not sure why he bothers to add this erroneous detail. It's not like it matters in the grand scheme of things whether Molly thinks it's the anniversary of their wedding, the birth of their first child or their first trip to Disneyland.
"Oh," Molly says, for what seems like the hundredth time but is actually only the sixth since they commenced their tedious but necessary session of small talk approximately fifty-eight minutes ago. "I see."
"Do you?" asks Sherlock.
"Yes," Molly replies, pulling on her gloves and resuming the dismemberment of the body. "People like to mark important events. It's normal."
She seems slightly angry now, for reasons that Sherlock is still attempting to deduce.
"Hmm," he says. "Why? If an event is that important, surely it's not necessary to commemorate it? One wouldn't forget it if it were allowed to pass in relative quietness."
Molly's finger slips on the scalpel and a toe tumbles to the floor, making a rather interesting plop as it hits the tiles. She looks squarely at Sherlock.
"People like to feel important," she explains. "Surely you know that."
The next time Sherlock broaches the subject is at a crime scene. They've just taken a serial killer into custody, it's tipping down with rain and Lestrade is the only man with whom Sherlock is on speaking terms who has an umbrella. Sherlock stands underneath it as Lestrade holds it, and he is amused to note how Lestrade has to hold the umbrella at an uncomfortable angle to accommodate Sherlock's superior height. He's clearly used to holding them for people shorter than him – women, his ex-wife, his children – and Sherlock is proving a minor inconvenience. If he's amenable to this annoyance, Sherlock reckons he wouldn't mind helping him on something equally as petty.
"How do you celebrate anniversaries?" Sherlock asks. At Lestrade's amused look of confusion, he rolls his eyes. "It's for a case."
Lestrade chuckles to himself.
"Sherlock, you could tell me you've got a secret Russian wife and I wouldn't be surprised," he grins. "Let's keep it quiet from the department though, eh? Sally would have a bloody field day."
Sherlock remains stoic. Lestrade sighs.
"Flowers," he answers. "Dinner. Film. I don't know, Sherlock. Ask someone who's not recently divorced."
The rain has slowed down to a merely mildly threatening pace now, and Lestrade gives Sherlock a curt nod before walking off to discuss preservation of forensics or something equally as unnecessary with some dim-witted trainee. Sherlock feels his phone vibrate in his coat pocket and he takes it out, reading John's text quickly.
Got milk – if you get that reference, have a pint on me. – JW
Sherlock barks out a laugh that genuinely surprises him, and certainly seems to scare the pants off the trainee. He fixes her with a glare that causes her to scurry away and hails down the nearest taxi. He has some planning to do.
One benefit of having a brother who occupies a minor position in British government, Sherlock muses, is that organising things becomes infinitely less tedious. It takes a mere two days for Sherlock to put his plan into action.
John rushes into 221B, hair stuck down at odd angles with sweat, jacket removed, looking for all the world like a man in great peril. He is right on time.
He looks at Sherlock in disbelief, still out of breath from the run (Sherlock estimates it was about 3 miles, but he can't be sure) and confused. Sherlock returns his look of shock with what he hopes is a sweet and genuine enough smile. If anything, John looks more concerned.
"Sherlock," he says flatly. "You told me that the building was on fire. You said Mrs Hudson was burning alive."
"You were going to be late for dinner," he explains. John blinks slowly. Sherlock raises the spatula he's been holding throughout the conversation as if to prove a point. John isn't that dull, surely.
"You cooked," says John, and it's a definite statement, yet somehow completely disbelieving.
"Yes," says Sherlock, and walks into the kitchen. He hears John follow him. He opens the oven and wordlessly removes dinner; an unfortunately hastily improvised embellishment on the traditional spaghetti Bolognese, rendered necessary after an accident with the turmeric.
"You cooked," John repeats. Sherlock looks at him quizzically.
"We have established this, John," he says, dishing up the meal onto two plates – Mrs Hudson's best china, nonetheless, which she refused to let him borrow and promptly hid in plain sight in the family safe – and setting them onto the table.
John has never looked more like a shell-shocked soldier as he silently pulls out a chair and sits down in front of one of the plates.
"Why?" he eventually asks, just as Sherlock sits down himself. Sherlock twirls a few strands of spaghetti around on his fork.
"Happy anniversary," he replies.
"That was last week," John points out, picking up his fork and jabbing at a particularly stubborn chunk of mincemeat.
"Happy belated anniversary," Sherlock amends.
John puts his fork down. Sherlock is about to protest that he hasn't eaten anything when he sees that John looks… well, it's hard to pinpoint, even for Sherlock. It's an odd mixture of amused and nostalgic.
"Sherlock," says John.
"John," says Sherlock.
"Sherlock," says John again, and bursts out laughing.
It may be something about the inherently childish nature of John's laugh or it may be the fact that John's eyes crinkle in a rather aesthetically agreeable way when he really gets going but something clicks in Sherlock's enviable brain and he finds himself laughing along with his friend. Laughing at what, he doesn't know.
After a few minutes, John manages to calm down, wiping his teary eyes with the sleeve of his jumper – a crimson affair today, Sherlock notes – and looks squarely at Sherlock.
"Most people don't celebrate the anniversary of moving in like this," he says. "Unless they moved in with a partner. But it's very nice, Sherlock, thank you."
Sherlock finds himself blushing and isn't entirely sure why, which irks him.
"I thought it might be appropriate," he fumbles. John pats him on the arm in a way that he supposes is meant to be comforting or reassuring but is actually rather patronising.
"It's definitely something," John offers.
Sherlock would like John to react differently. Some gratitude would not go amiss.
It's possible that he's not thinking properly, judgment clouded by bitterness, when he grabs his flatmate's face and plants a kiss on his mouth. John can't even react, just accepts it, wide-eyed. Sherlock pulls away after a mere few seconds, but he's made his point, whatever it was.
"Well," he says.
"Yes," says Sherlock, and now he's calmed down, it's all rather embarrassing really.
John picks up his fork again and wordlessly twirls it through his cooling food. Sherlock copies. It wasn't the greatest kiss of Sherlock's life, not that there's a multitude of experiences he can compare it to, but he had hoped for more than ambivalence.
He's about to remark on this when John opens his mouth.
"Maybe next year, this will be more appropriate," says John, smiling shyly, and Sherlock finds a real, genuine smile spreading across his own features as he watches John switch his fork to his left hand and take Sherlock's left hand in his right.
"Even more, you mean," Sherlock clarifies, and John shakes his head, laughing.
Sherlock is excited for the next year. Two anniversaries to celebrate with a week between them; he'll have to mark the dates on his calendar. He's already planning how to mark the week after this particular anniversary.
He thinks it'll be appropriate.