Sherlock's sat with his hands folded in front of him, eyes unseeing, gaze entirely focused on an exact spot on the carpet, thoughts turned inward: John never knows quite what to do with Sherlock so engrossed in some thought or other – although he's definitely gotten more used to it – and usually ends up using it as a respite from the rest of the utter madness that comes with living with the bloke. It's still difficult to be shut out, sometimes, always waiting for Sherlock to feel the need to fill him in on a proportion of the hundreds of things running through the magnificent brain of is, wondering what conclusion he's getting to and whether it really matters to the man at all as long as there is a conclusion.
Personally, John's lost count of the number of times he's caught himself staring at him when he's thinking like this, trying to puzzle him out. There's a whole list of things and questions he would very much like to ask if he wasn't an English male and the man in question wasn't Sherlock, if they were perhaps better at communicating things like how much they meant to each other (beyond the language of cups of tea and John occasionally doing Sherlock's laundry, and Sherlock occasionally sending John's laundry off to some posh place that did it all for him). He thinks he'd quite like to map out Sherlock's childhood and always gets halfway to asking before giving up, knowing that Sherlock probably knows the direction of his thoughts and would answer the half-asked question if he wanted to. In medical terms, John would quite like all the gritty details of Sherlock's drug problems; for one, it would vastly help his radar for recognising danger nights and triggers and ensuring he knew when he was supposed to be worried and when he needed to stop nagging, but mostly he'd like to understand it all and correlate it with his PTSD and his adrenaline addiction and all the cracks in his sanity that, sometimes, he thinks he'd quite like to share with his mad, genius arse of a flatmate.
It's more difficult to pin down why that inclination is there. Certainly, his therapist was not wrong about his trust issues. He doesn't like opening up to people about things like this. He understands that it's necessary. He's forced himself through several uncomfortable conversations with Harry about their parents, because it was important for Harry to be able to discuss those relationships (according to her therapist, at any rate). Relationships rarely get very far (particularly with the Sherlock factor added in), so he's never had the problem of a girlfriend asking why she can't meet his parents... although the subject of parents does cup up on dates, a bit, and it isn't always possible to keep elusive. With his army friends it was rarely appropriate to talk about things like that – there were enough monsters in the present without digging up unresolved issues and prejudice and with his uni friends there's a vast insurmountable gap that they army placed there. They don't get it and, besides, for the large part John feels those experiences are his own and his own only.
So why the urge to explain to Sherlock how it felt to turn his back on his parents is there, he doesn't know. He is sure, of course, that Sherlock has deduced what happened... and sometimes he's able to pass it off as another of Sherlock's lessons in factoring in emotions to his deductions. You know my parents wouldn't accept Harry, Sherlock, but you don't understand what it felt like to have to choose between my sister and my parents whilst knowing that there was only one right choice to make, even though they were both shit options. It doesn't follow through, though, which is the main problem with that theory. It gets to a point when he realises he'd just like Sherlock to know all these things about him because, honestly, he wants to know all these things about Sherlock: how it felt when he first took the cocaine, his first thoughts when Mycroft left for university, his first day at school.
It's not even because he thinks their important. His sort-of-career is documenting Sherlock's life and thus bringing in clients and he's done that without once eluding to a past. Frankly, it's a little hard to imagine Sherlock in any other context but one when he's there and they're solving crimes and eating out at restaurants and finding more ways to fight off the boredom. He only cares because, since the beginning, he's been absolutely and a hundred percent enthralled the by man.
John drags his gaze away from Sherlock's thinking position and squares his shoulders up against the continued stream of thought. He doesn't know how Sherlock can possibly think so much all the time, because it's exhausting.
"Tea?" John asks, although he's not expecting an answer (and he'd certainly be surprised if there was an answer that stretched beyond petty sarcasm) and wonders into the kitchen to put on the kettle.
There not on a case at the moment. They've barely left the flat in a few days. John only left to buy some more tea bags (the flat's supply had inexplicably been found in a congealed mess in the bath tub – there were no intestines involved so he'd decided to pick his battles and pretend he hadn't seen it) and had come back to find Sherlock deep in thought and conversationally dead.
What the hell is he thinking about now?
He needed to think about the John problem which was impossible to do with John floating around the flat disrupting his thought process by being a little too interesting. He'd ignored texts from Lestrade about cases (nothing had been particularly interesting anyway) and he always ignored Mycroft, so that wasn't unusual, and he'd sat and participated in conversation over breakfast – making an effort to be more irritating than usual in an attempt to drive John out - and waited for John to leave.
Back in the early days, John seemed to spend the whole time leaving. Grocery shopping, girlfriends, the surgery, catching up with friends at the pub, to get some 'air' – there was a never ending list of things that displaced him from Baker Street. And it was always frustrating to have no one to talk to (although he soon feel into the habit of just talking and pretending John was there) and to have no one to fetch his things and make him tea and nag him to eat and occasionally provide some sudden burst of inspiration was just wrong.
Lately, John had been more content to remain in the flat. Their state of domesticity seemed to have been blown out of proportion. He seemed able to focus a disproportionate amount of his energy in trying to cook dishes that Sherlock might actually eat, happy just to sit in Baker Street exchanging insignificant and boring conversation with him (although he had a way of making it not quite as boring as everyone else in the world, which was mostly where the John problem had stemmed from anyway) and not bothered that he hadn't had one of his girlfriends in months, and the last social interaction he'd had outside of Sherlock was Lestrade (which hardly counted).
Disposing of one of the key elements of tea was a certain way to make sure John left. Normally, he tampered with the milk... but by the look of his googling John was planning to cook pasta with some sort of white cheese sauce which sounded almost acceptable, and that was largely because the milk was about to go off (John had nagged him so much about the milk that Sherlock had gone out and bought the biggest container he could find just to prove a point) and John didn't want to waste it. Without the kettle, there would also be no coffee... so, as soon as John left the room to retrieve his laptop from his bedroom Sherlock upturned the box of PG tips tea bags into the bath, turned the tap on and added some of John's shower gel for good measure (he'd temporarily swapped brands due to this one being on offer, and it was most distracting to have John smell wrong).
Predictably, John had noticed within about ten minutes when he went to the bathroom, sighed, told Sherlock he was going to go buy some tea bags and, somewhat sarcastically, asked if he could expect company during his trip to Tesco's.
Sherlock hadn't dignified that with a response.
The problem... the problem was that John was, by far, the most important thing. Beyond the work (Sherlock was ignoring a perfectly good case to sit at home think about him after all), and beyond the chase for the rush of something which made life feel worth it, John was instrumental and – it seemed – Sherlock near needed him to survive.
John had started by becoming part of his work, which meant Sherlock cared about him insofar as that it was practical for John to be helpful and functional and in a relatively good mood... although, of course that wasn't quite right because within a few hours of meeting him he'd found he wanted to impress the man, had began to gravitate around him somewhat, had wanted John not to disappear and leave Mycroft with no choice but to allow for Sherlock's rent in the money he was drip fed. John had stayed and then he kept staying and not leaving and with each little bit more of Sherlock that John learnt about, instead of the kneejerk response of a raise of the eyebrows and a quick exit, John instead found him fascinating and cared and John didn't leave. John never left.
"I'm not the one who's going to be emptying the bathtub of very strong, slightly soapy tea Sherlock." John said – back from the shop then – as he fell into the seat opposite him.
"Mrs Hudson," Sherlock returned, his limbs falling out of the exact position and all the right angles required for proper thought. Damn.
"No," John said, straight off, "I've already told her she's not to touch it."
"I never liked baths."
"Of course not," John said, "they require relaxing and a bit of patience, two of the things which you abhor."
"You like washing though."
"Mrs Hudson has a shower," Sherlock said, "it's going to be a problem for you significantly before it's a problem for me."
"Maybe," John said, "but you created the problem."
"It's not a problem."
"It will be if you don't clear it up, Sherlock," John said, smiling ever so slightly, "what could possibly be scientific about teabags in a bathtub with some sort of soap?"
"Your shower gel," Sherlock prompted, "please don't pretend to be irritated, if the amount of it you've been using is anything to go by, you dislike it just as much as I do, John. In reality I did us both a favour."
"Is there any point asking how you know how much shower gel I've been using? Or better yet, why it bothers you?"
"Obviously," John said, rolling his eyes at the ceiling, "no word from Lestrade, then?"
"You should get out the flat," John said, "go for a walk or something."
"Never know," John said, "might walk straight into a crime in progress. A nice mugging. Bit of theft. Probably a bit much to hope for a body at 3PM on a Sunday, but you never know."
John teased him. Not, as in all previous experiences, in a particularly malicious way; behind John's jokes – from the first time John called him an idiot – there'd been a distinct sense of good humour that even Sherlock had been able to read.
And now they were here, where everyone in the world seemed to think they were in a relationship except John. Decoding why it bothered John had taken longer than he'd necessarily admit to, but John was more complicated and had a surprising amount of depth compared with most people's utter transparency; eventually, he'd gotten it pinned down to a rather obvious miscommunication. He took Sherlock's 'married to my work' in the same vein as 'high functioning sociopath' – an image that Sherlock wished to keep up to the outside world.
Which was, of course, true. Until it wasn't. Or, at least, until it wasn't enough to justify the fact that Sherlock could feel John looking at him and he wanted, somehow, to wrestle with the space between them until it wasn't there anymore.
Clearly, it would be better for everyone if John made the first move; Sherlock viewed most social interactions as a battle to be won and understood romantic relationships to the extent that he could recognise them in other people and deduce when they were a reason for a murder, which didn't exactly make him qualified to be the one to push their relationship further. John would know what to do. John understood these things and understood that Sherlock didn't have a clue. Except Sherlock had already ruined any chance of that back in Angelo's and now John considered the case closed and barely even thought about all the things that Sherlock could deduce so easily. John had barely acknowledged the fact that – through all his protestations of 'not gay' – John cared about him more than anyone, had done away with any girlfriend figure, and looked at him as though he was the most important thing.
"Maybe we should go out for dinner."
"And do away with your pasta plans?" Sherlock asked, glancing towards him. John's eyes, for a split second, showed that familiar spark of amazement (a gaze of that was brilliant, remarkable, amazing) before shifting into weariness and a tight smile. All those expressions.
And how, exactly, was he to proceed? The John problem. The fact that Sherlock wasn't good at this sort of thing competing with the fact that it was imperative that John realise Sherlock had been somewhat mistaken about his marital status before the moment John couldn't handle celibacy any longer and began searching for another girlfriend. As long as John knew his intention, John could sort the rest of it out. But without directly saying – and Sherlock wasn't entirely sure that was a possible feet – he was utterly clueless as to how to make it known.
"How the hell did you guess the password this time?"
And, really, John was quite, quite perfect.
Sherlock's actually eating dinner without complaining too much, which is a near miracle in John's eyes, and he's yet to fall into a post-case slump or clam up completely and stop talking. These are probably John's favourite between case moments; when they're not running from any murderers but the memory of the case is still fresh in their mind, when the experiments haven't been so obnoxious that John's gotten mad, when Sherlock plays John's favourite tunes on the violin instead of murdering it all night, when they're not quite bored but not quite in the middle of a thrill either.
It's a point of oddity that he's never liked any moment of domesticity with any of his past girlfriends, yet his favourite moments at the moment are sharing meals with Sherlock.
"And," John says, "it wasn't just the one box of tea bags, Sherlock, it was the whole flat's supply – "
" – don't be dramatic, John," Sherlock counters, "I'm sure Mrs Hudson has tea bags."
"If I replaced all the food you contaminated with Mrs H's groceries we'd have to pay double the rent."
"I hope that the tea bags weren't that expensive, John."
"Well, it's not like you'd know," John returns, between forkfuls of pasta, "given you've never gone shopping."
"I bought the milk."
"Once," John says, "you bought the milk, once. And I'm still not entirely sure why you think we need an eight pint bottle. Unless you were planning on filling up the bath with milk too and making a tub of tea."
"I assure you, that was not my plan."
"What was the experiment on then?"
John looks up from his pasta and looks at his mad flatmate.
The trouble is, Sherlock's deadly serious and nonplussed by the whole thing. He actually doesn't see what the problem is with putting over three hundred tea bags in the bath with his shower gel to see how he'll react. And the worst part about it is that John didn't really react when he thinks he probably should have been a bit angrier, or at least a bit less amused, and even now all he wants to do is shake his head, press his fingers into his forehead and laugh.
"You're reimbursing me for the tea," John says, shaking his head, "God, you're ridiculous."
Sherlock couldn't sleep due to the continually festering John problem and a stream of texts and missed calls from Lestrade (if he was calling then it was likely that the case was relatively interesting, but Sherlock might have found some way to solve this case – and quickly – so for now Lestrade will have to wait), but there might be a solution.
There might be something.
"Did you go to bed, Sherlock?" John asked as he entered the kitchen, predictably flicking on the kettle and jamming several slices of toast into the toaster.
"John," Sherlock returned, glancing up at him, "I think we should merge bank accounts."
"Yesterday," Sherlock said, "you said I should reimburse you for the tea."
"Which is till brewing in our bath, by the way. And I was joking."
"Yes," Sherlock said, "obvious. But you are correct in saying you do the large majority of the grocery shopping – "
"- by which you mean all,"
"Yes," Sherlock said, "all the grocery shopping. Cheques from cases are usually directed to me, despite the fact we work together. The end result is that Mycroft continually boosts your bank account when it's looking slightly low, by shifting a proportion of my trust fund."
"Don't pretend to be surprised," Sherlock said, "I saw you pouring over your last bank statement for thirty minutes trying to work out how you hadn't gone into your overdraft."
"Okay," John said, ignoring the kettle boiling and instead taking a seat, "so…"
"So," Sherlock said, "our lives are significantly intertwined to the point where it seems illogical to have things separate. It would be easier in terms of rent, splitting payments from private cases, ensuring equal payments on groceries, reimbursing tea expenses…"
"Okay," John said, processing this, "but… joint bank accounts. Isn't that a bit…"
"Final," John said.
"Are you planning on leaving?"
"No," John said, "but… it could get complicated. What if one of us died?"
"You're the soul benefactor of my will any way," Sherlock shrugged.
"And for future reference, my body is to be donated to St Barts."
"Molly will be pleased," John commented, shaking his head, "finally, she gets your body."
"Corpse." Sherlock corrected, glancing back towards John and cataloguing his expression. On the whole, although Sherlock didn't think it was a particularly conventional way of expressing interest, Sherlock thought there was a slight chance that it might work. Whilst having a joint bank account didn't exactly tie them together forever, Sherlock thought it showed high enough levels of commitment for John to at least question it. All he needed was for John to reassess.
Plus, it was a very practical solution to a problem Sherlock had never even considered previously.
"Sherlock, the will thing…"
"Not good?" Sherlock asked, glancing up at him.
"No," John said, slowly, "I just mean… thanks."
"It's hardly a matter of sentiment," Sherlock returned, eyes still locked together, "previously, having had no one, Mycroft got it all. A singularly excellent reason not to die."
John wasn't looking away. It was rare for John to openly stare when he thought Sherlock was actually aware of it, so perhaps he had done enough.
"Well, don't go rushing to off yourself just because I'm here to take your cash."
"John," Sherlock said, "you are a far more significant reason not to die."
The moment seemed to settle over them for a few minutes before John, apparently realising that they were staring at each other, looked away, unconsciously shook his head and pursed his lips slightly.
"Shall we head to the bank, then?" John said, heading back to the kitchen to retrieve his now cold toast and turn on the kettle once more. "Or do you want to clean the tea bags out the bath first?"
He's quite surprised when he glances down at his phone to see several missed calls from Lestrade and a bunch of growingly frustrated text messages. They're all asking after Sherlock, of course, summoning him to the scene of a double murder as quickly as possible and, not so politely, telling Sherlock to answer his bloody phone.
"Sherlock, is your phone flat?" He asks, stepping out onto the pavement, "Lestrade wants you. Seems important."
The man is already stepping out to the side of the road, hailing a taxi (and of course landing one straight away, as if some sort of magnet for black cabs) and throwing open the door. John only catches 'Chelsea' from Sherlock's list of instructions, rolls his eyes and fires a text message off to Lestrade telling him they're on their way now.
His thoughts catch on the joint bank account: he's never been in a relationship serious enough to even consider one and the fact that it's Sherlock… well, he's not entirely sure what to make of the decision, although he doesn't altogether think he's going to regret it. It is practical and he does end up paying most of the taxi fares and the bills and all the rest of it, so now he supposes that isn't an issue.
Plus, he couldn't possibly have said no when confronting with the fact – once again – that before John, Sherlock had never had anyone he would have considered as a friend, let alone someone to leave money and share a bank account with. It would have seemed almost cruel to say no. Bizarrely, it almost felt like something they should have done ages ago. It didn't feel remotely strange that he now had some legal proof of their strange partnership.
He supposes that Sherlock didn't quite realise the implications of 'our lives are significantly intertwined to the point where it seems illogical to have things separate' and he gets enough people accusing them of coupledom without bringing it up himself (although he can't quite get Sherlock's expression as he said that out of his mind). And he has absolutely no idea how he's going to sail through joint bank accounts whilst still maintaining that they're not shagging.
"Sherlock," John says, as they wind through London in the back of a cab – like so many hundreds of times before – "when Lestrade asks where we've been all day, please don't tell them we've been fusing bank accounts. I don't really think the yarders are going to see it as the practical solution that it is, and I think we've given them enough fuel to be going along with."
Sherlock turns to him, ice blue gaze boring into his skin for a few long seconds, before he nods and turns back to the window.
John spends the next few minutes convinced that Sherlock was searching him for something and has the odd feeling of having failed some inexplicable test. Idly, he wonders if this was another of Sherlock's study in reactions. It's possible. To John, the bank accounts seems a huge, irreversible moment… but it's hardly a blip in Sherlock's radar. It's just practical.
Then again, maybe not. With Sherlock it's nearly impossible to tell.
Sorry if the tense-changes between Sherlock/John were a bit annoying. It just happened when I wrote this bit and I was in two minds about changing it or not. We'll see :)