Sherlock glanced up an hour later, realising that the paper had dropped out of his hands some time ago. It took him only a second to work out where his infatuated roommate had gone. His coat and keys had disappeared, along with the notebook he used to write down the details of girls he met, so that he didn’t get them mixed up. Some lucky female was going to be treated to a luxury takeaway tonight.
Sherlock gave a dramatic sigh, and glanced at the groceries John had bought earlier that day. They were all the way away on the sofa. Sherlock sighed again, simply because it felt good, and made a half-hearted attempt at reaching the bag closest to him. It remained a meter away.
‘Sod that.’ He muttered. Raising his voice, he hollered, ‘MRS HUDSON!’
The said landlady appeared at the open apartment door looking a bit flustered. She glanced around. ‘Everything alright, Sherlock dear?’
Sherlock smiled. ‘Would you like a cup of tea, Mrs Hudson?’
She looked quite flattered. ‘Why, that would be lovely dear. How kind.’
‘Make me one while you’re at it then, will you? Oh, and there are some biscuits in that bag.’
Mrs Hudson rolled her eyes, grabbing the shopping bags as she made her way to the kitchen, muttering audible bad-tempered remarks.
‘John. John. Anyone in?’
Missy Cabaret was tapping gently on her date’s head, frowning. John jerked back to reality with a start. He smiled across the cheap table in the diner to show nothing was wrong, but inside he was seething. He’d been thinking about Sherlock again. Thinking about his mesmerising eyes, his thick brown hair, how it would feel to run his hands through it... Oh God. John stood up so fast that his chair toppled over behind him. Muttering a hurried excuse to Missy, he grabbed his coat and escaped into the cool night air. Damn that detective.
John spun wildly, picking a street at random and hurrying up it. He had to stop this. Sherlock was... well, Sherlock was Sherlock. Off limits. Turning down yet another street, John realised that somehow, his unconscious mind had taken him home. He stopped in front of 221b Baker Street, breathing hard. Could he face the mixed emotions that always hit him when he saw Sherlock? Then, as the warm air wafting out from the gaps around the door caressed his face enticingly, he decided that he probably could. Probably.
John winced as the stairs creaked underfoot, then mentally chided himself for bring an idiot. After all, he paid half the rent, so it was his apartment as much as Sherlock’s. The door was propped open, and soft violin music was drifting out. John felt his muscles relax. There was something so calming about this place, this moment, with the music, the smell of tea, the sound of Mrs Hudson yelling...wait, what? John peered uncertainly round the doorframe. Sherlock was silhouetted against the window, stroking the bow up and down the violin strings, and paying absolutely no attention to his landlady, who was shaking her fist ferociously and brandishing a bag of severed ears. John sighed. Just another day in loony land.
He stepped back to a safe distance as Mrs Hudson stormed out the door making some very un-ladylike comments. Sherlock was still playing, so John moved around the apartment room quietly, dumping his coat, keys and various other items where it would be a miracle if he ever found them again. That done, he stood behind Sherlock for a while, letting the music calm him. It was a sad song, mixed with bitterness. John sighed. Sherlock must be having one of his moods.
John was jerked out of his reverie by a sudden hitch in the music. Sherlock dropped the bow on the ground, and let the violin dangle loosely from his hand, spinning around to face his roommate. There was an awkward silence as both remembered their previous conversation. John coughed awkwardly, and spoke at the same time as Sherlock.
‘I’ll just make a cup of tea.’
‘Why don’t you just make a cup of tea?’
Silence again. John coughed once more, then spun on his heel and stalked towards the kitchen. He heard music start up again over the whistling of the kettle, and leant his elbows on the counter, burying his head in his hands. He needed to snap out of this.
Back by the window, Sherlock frowned as he let another part of his brain take over the playing of the music. He could solve a murder from a continent away, catch a perpetrator with a paper clip and a rubber band, drive people to suicide just by talking to them, but he couldn’t ignore just this one person. God, he needed to snap out of this.
The evening carried on in the same awkward silence, both men being impossible polite to each other. John would ask if it would be possible if he could perhaps maybe borrow the computer, and Sherlock would reply that yes, yes of course he could, please do, it would be his pleasure.
That night, John lay in bed, tossing and turning, his mind buzzing with thoughts and images. It took him almost six hours to come to the solution of what he must do. At first, he pushed the idea away, not able to bear the thought, but at last he had to face the truth. There was nothing for it. He couldn’t have Sherlock, but knew that unless he did this, he would always know in the back of his mind that Sherlock was there. Unoccupied. John knew he would have to get married. To some girl.
Sherlock lay quite still in his bed, the moonlight making his closed eyelids almost transparent. He was in his mind palace, running over options and thoughts. It took him almost ten minutes to reach a decision. He couldn’t have John, because John was well, John. Besides, who would want a high-functioning sociopath? Sherlock opened his eyes, firm in his mind of what he would have to engineer. John would have to get married.
Both men fell asleep at the same time, both wanting each other, both knowing that that could never be.