When John opens the door to his flat, he isn't sure what to expect. Living with Sherlock Holmes has taught the ex-soldier to always be on his toes.
So when he opens the door, bags of groceries in each arm, he checks to see if any new bullet wounds have been inflicted on the wall, or if any new experiments are being brewed in the kitchen. He sees no recently made holes and hears no noises coming from the direction of the kitchen. He raises a pale eyebrow in confusion and then his eyes fall on the consulting detective curled up on his side, his front facing the couch. He groans softly, knowing that the lanky male is going through one of his 'phases' again. "Sherlock I'm home," he says, trying to alert the other of his presence. His flatmate grunts softly in acknowledgement and continues to stare unblinking at the brown couch. He makes small patterns in the fabric with the nail of his index finger, a calculating look in his pale eyes. John wonders curiously if he's moved since he left. The answer is most likely not.
"Care for a cuppa? I was thinking of making some tonight. I bought a new teapot since the last one was melted in one of your 'experiments'. The lady at the counter said it was a good model, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I hope it's good, considering it cost me 30 pounds." The shorter man chuckles.
"I wondered if the pot would be able to withstand a little over the heat of 1600 degrees." Sherlock mumbles, his hands together, the tips of his middle fingers touching his lips.
"Yes, and you were wrong now, weren't you?"
"No, it was an experiment. I was not wrong because I did not think that it could stand the temperature of 1600. I was merely seeing if it could or it couldn't."
John pauses mid-organizing to stare at his robed companion. "You never can admit you're wrong, can you?" he says, half-smiling, half-scowling.
"That model was an old one, made in 1975. It's not as strong or as durable as it once was when first purchased. It has experienced some nasty falls in the past, if you recall the dents on it. It was also chipped a bit, the gray paint peeling off from years of usage. Also if you can remember, there were a few old, dark specks on the right hand side of the pot. Blood obviously, so it's safe to assume that it was once used to hit somebody with- possibly for protection- more likely out of anger towards a person. Then again, your aunt did have some temperamental issues. She was on the news a year ago. Charged with battery on her third husband. It's obvious from genetics that she's your aunt, since she and your mother both have the same eyes, which were passed down to you. Not to mention their fair- though not to fair as to burn when introduced to too much sunlight- skin, which you also share in that genepool. When she was sent to jail, for the third time- other times being charged of robbery and more battery; second husband this time- she left her teapot in your possession. Was once your grandmother's until she died and then was given to her, not because she was the favorite-oh no, she was your grandmother's least favorite- but more out of pity for her. It's a rather old teapot, not like the newer brands, so it's easy to figure out that it would not be as resistant to heat, even if it were brand new, because it is an older model and not made with stronger material like the recent one you purchased. As to why she gave it to you, possibly because she wanted you to remember her by, since your mother never let you visit her because of her excessive drug use and her angry tempers that would flare often, or maybe no one else in the family would take it so it was given to you by default. Whatever the reason it was trashy, and I disposed of it in an efficient, effective, and unfixable manner. I never liked the teapot, I felt like there was always a remainder of dust in my tea, no matter how thoroughly you scrubbed it. It's best that I destroyed it." Sherlock finishes, turning around to face the kitchen doorway where John is standing in speechless amazement.
"That was...incredible." the blonde mutters, eyes bulging and mouth gaping open. He's always impressed with Sherlock's spot-on deductions, but it never ceases to amaze him when the man picks apart tiny details, insignificant to others, and molds and weaves them into bigger puzzles that only Sherlock can solve. He has to admit, secretly to himself, that without Sherlock, the police force would be in ruins. Then, as he admires the brilliant work of his friend, another thought pops into his head. "Hold on...so you're telling me that you purposely melted our kettle?" he exclaims, admiration gone and replaced by anger and annoyance. He wasted money for a new pot because Sherlock didn't like the old one, even though it worked perfectly fine? Sure, he too noticed the aftertaste of something old and ancient, but it had been in perfect enough shape to function properly. "I wasted money for nothing. You can't just go melting, boiling, freezing, blowing up things if you don't like them. I mean- Sherlock? Are you even listening to me?"
Sherlock sits up now, his knees tucked near his chest, his hands below his chin in that thinking matter of his. He seems far away and John realises he's been that way upon his entry. "Sherlock...is everything alright? You seem...you seem off?" The ex-war doctor ask, concern showing in his worn face.
Sherlock's pale eyes glance over at John, studying him intently. He looks down again, picking at the skin around his nail, as if there's some kind of answer in them. "I am just the same as I've always been. You mentioned tea didn't you? Yes, I would like a cup. Earl Grey with two sugars, temperature lukewarm. I don't take tea scalding like you do." The detective says, his voice slurring as his speech quickens. Sherlock has always been a fast talker, John finding it difficult to always keep up, but he's sure that something is definitely off about his flatmate. He decides to ignore it; if Sherlock wants to talk about it, then he will talk about it when he's ready.
"Alright," the army man deflates, turning to head back into the kitchen, but stops halfway and turns back to his friend. "Sherlock, did you do anything while I was out?" he ask, remembering that before he had gotten groceries, he had met up with an old friend at the university and the two had went out to eat and then visited the cinema afterwards. So John had been out a total of four hours, which meant Sherlock could have been doing something beforehand to put him in this current state.
"I was called down to investigate a homicide with Lestrade, Donovan and Anderson," he mutters the last name with contempt, before continuing. "Pretty simple, child's play. The gardener was the murderer. He was sleeping with the wife of the victim, but wanted to no longer keep their affair secret anymore. He proposed to her three weeks before the incident, but she denied him, telling him that she wanted to stay with her husband in the end. We found the ring, a 12 carat diamond- no doubt he saved up tons of money from long hours of work to buy it, judging by his attire since his clothes were nearly in tatters- on a search of his flat. Overcome with jealousy, he set out to kill the husband, believing that by doing so, she would change her mind and accept his proposal. While he was stabbing the victim, the wife walked into the gruesome site. She ran for the police and, panicking, he chased after her. As she was picking up the phone, he stabbed her from behind. He spent a lot of time cleaning up his mess and pinning the blame on the husband as a murder-suicide, but he made a few incriminating mistakes. The first being that the weapon he used were hedge trimmers, an obvious clue that it was him, though that's not enough to convict him. The second piece of evidence were the fingerprints on the phone. He claimed to have been calling the police when he heard the wife scream, but there were also fingerprints on the floor near the phone, which drew the question, "What was he doing on the floor?" The only reasonable explanation was that he had to have been bending over, or kneeling to pick up the phone, and, slightly off balance, he used his other hand to steady himself against the marble. So why would the phone be on the floor if he was just calling it? He could have been startled by the sight of the dead body and fumbled with the phone, but the bodies were found upstairs, far away from the phone. He could have been shaken by the scream, but that's already suspicious enough as it is. The only explanation plausible enough was that the wife had dropped it when he stabbed her and he quickly picked it up off the floor after. But the final piece; the piece that drew this murder to a close, was the letters we found shared between the two in both the defendant's room. They were hidden under the floorboards of his bed. He had stolen them from the mansion, to hide suspicion that might be drawn to him. It was those letters that lead all to him; his crime, his conviction, and his motive. Honestly, child's play." Sherlock finishes with a sigh, resting his head on the palm of his hand.
"Sensational! I can't believe no one else could figure that out?"
"I know, the Scotland Yard is full of incompetent people, I'm surprised that it hasn't crumbled in disarray before I came along."
"So...that's all that happened then? Nothing more?"
"Well...I suppose there was something after. Something Donovan said to me that's been...bothering me."
John brightens at the thought that he is finally getting somewhere, but then frowns when he hears Donovan's name. He doesn't really like her calling Sherlock a freak, or that she warns John to stay away from him. What right does she have to say anything about Sherlock? Sure he can be arrogant, obnoxious, childish, and an all around prat, but there are sides of Sherlock, good sides, that prove just how good a man he really is. She doesn't know Sherlock like he does. But trying to explain something to someone who doesn't know, frightens them and makes them all the more resentful. He sticks to ignoring her as best as possible.
"Oh, what did she say?"
"Well it was after the arrest when the police were congratulating themselves- though it was because of me that they were able to obtain the man in the first place. They were talking about his motive and I couldn't help but question why he would kill the husband, to be with the wife, but kill her in the end as well. They told me that he panicked, and I told them I already knew that, but asked why he would kill someone to be with her when she was already with that person. Donavon snorted at me and called me incompetent- well she actually referred to me as an idiot but that's such a dull, long-overused word so I say she said incompetent. I questioned why she would call me that, while taking her down a peg by reminding her that last night she was at Anderson's house scrubbing his floors again- which she seems to be doing an awful lot of. She told me in a snide voice that people will do crazy things when in love, even commit murder. This is where I snorted because I find it so funny that emotions can be so controlling that it could make a person do something so incredibly stupid. Emotions should not control you, you should control them, which is what I told them. Donovan retorted that sometimes affection and love is stronger than control, then said I probably wouldn't understand since I've never been affectionate or had emotions for anything or anyone. Since talking to her, my mind has been pondering these words. I know that her words are meaningless and have no concern for me, but yet they nag at my brain and nothing has made these thoughts dissipate."
John's frown deepens, seeing the conflicting look on Sherlock's face. "Don't listen to her Sherlock. She doesn't know what she's talking about. You've had emotions for people before. Take Mrs. Hudson. You showed concern and anger when those guys hurt her. And let's not forget Ir-" the shorter man stops when he feels his face heat up and his stomach boil over at the jealousy that is starting to overtake him. He has to get over this whole thing with Irene. He's a grown man- a straight grown man. How can he be jealous of some woman touching Sherlock? He shakes his head to clear his thoughts. It doesn't matter anymore, Irene's no more.
Sherlock notices John's voice dying away but does not speak on it, choosing to lay back on the couch again, his eyes now focused on the ceiling. He already knows from the shift of eyes and the biting of his lip who John is referring to. He also notes the slight tinge of pink colouring his friend's cheeks. He knew that John had been jealous of Irene, but said nothing. His eyes trace over the blonde's before he asks the question he's been wanting to, "John...what are affections? How do you know when you are in love? How do you show affections?" he asks nervously, running his tongue over his front teeth.
John stares wide-eyed at Sherlock, not believing his ears. Was the great consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, really asking John something he didn't know? The army doctor feels a tiny swell of pride and triumph at knowing something the other does not. "Well, when you love someone, truly love them, you'd do just about anything and everything for them. You can't stand the thought of them hurt, or scared, or sad. You would want to protect them with your life. You want to see them smile everyday, and make them laugh. To hear them laugh, to have their smile directed on you, is the greatest feeling you can ever hope for. You love being near them, and can't stand the thought of being even a second away from them." John pauses, looking at Sherlock. His flatmate's eyes are clouded over, hiding all emotion, as his gaze burns a hole into John. The shorter male shudders, feeling as though he's being stripped and laid bare for the detective.
"And affections?" the raven haired man inquires, his voice hollow.
"Affections are the little things you do for the person you love. Like, making them tea in the morning, or cooking breakfast. Bringing them medicine when they're sick in bed or giving them a massage when they're tense. Being there when they have nightmares, holding them and comforting them until all their fears are quelled. Little pecks on the cheek or forehead in the morning, before they go to work, at night, or anytime that seems right. Offering to help with work or cleaning or whatever else. Just little things like that will show your affection." John finishes, making his way into the kitchen to start the tea. He knows that Sherlock will probably spend some time thinking over his words.
As he's unwrapping the kettle from its packaging, Sherlock walks into the entryway, his bottom lip between his teeth as he scans over the area. John wonders curiously why his flatmate and friend has such a piercing look on his normally indifferent face. "Do you mind if I helped you?" he asks, his words catching the ex-army soldier off guard.
"You...want to help me make the tea?"
"John, repetition is so dull, don't make me say it again," The raven haired man chides, balancing his weight on the wall with his shoulder.
John smiles, a warm feeling of joy spreading through his veins. "Sure, why not? If you want to, who am I to say no. Besides, I could use a hand."
So the two go to work, John doing the pouring, stirring, heating and Sherlock locating any ingredients needed for the brew. It takes John much longer to find things with Sherlock's experiments lying about, but the detective knows every crook and shelf, which makes finding what the older man needs less stressful. As he watches the boiling pot of water, long arms wrap snugly around his waist and pull him tightly against his flatmate's chest. The back of his neck flushes and his arms prickle with goosebumps as Sherlock uses his head as a rest for his chin.
"Sherlock, what are you doing?" The veteran questions, clearly puzzled by this intimate position from his flatmate.
There is a short while before Sherlock speaks, "I am just observing you work."
"Well couldn't you do that over there?" John asks, pointing to the chair near the cluttered table.
"But this is a more sentimental position." The detective purrs, his arms winding tighter around John, keeping him in place. The smaller man's cheeks redden and he tries, half-heartedly, to squirm his way out of the others hold. He is surprised to find that Sherlock is a lot stronger than he looks, but then again, the man is well trained in hand to hand combat.
"Sherlock, the tea will boil over if you don't let go. Go watch telly or something."
There comes a huff of indignation to the soldier's left side as the raven-haired detective moves his chin to nestle on the blonde's shoulder. 'Boring, I've already seen enough of crap telly to last me for the week. Besides, this is an act of affection...isn't it?"
The words take awhile to process, but when they do, John feels himself stiffen and his face takes on three different shades of red, he's almost sure of it. "Sherlock, when I meant show affection to someone, I meant someone you love."
"But I do love you,"
"No I mean love as in...not like this!" the veteran struggles weakly.
Another pause, before John feels Sherlock's warm breath ghosted on his ear, "I know what you meant John. And I do mean 'like this'." The consulting detective's voice falters and his arms loosen just a fraction of a bit. "If you don't like me like that, tell me. I can't read your thoughts right now, no matter how much I'm trying to. You are surprised, shocked, confused, but you are not disgusted or angry. So what are you feeling?" he ask.
John doesn't move, too stunned to speak, trying to process Sherlock's words. He swallows thickly, opening his mouth to say something-anything, but nothing comes out. Sherlock's eyes search hazel orbs intently, but when the doctor continues to remain silent, he starts to pull away. The old war doctor, sensing the others retreat, grips his flatmate's arms tightly, preventing Sherlock from leaving. Sherlock eyes John curiously, noting the red tint of his face and the tips of his ears. He smiles, leaning down until his face is centimeters from the other's. "I think the tea is ready," he whispers, kissing the blonde on the top of his head before he pulls away, straightens, and strolls casually out of the room.
John stands there, barely hearing the whistle of the teapot as he tries to keep himself balanced. From outside, the sound of Sherlock's violin plays merrily throughout the flat. John silently curses the detective, but the smile fighting its way onto his face betrays the emotions he wants to feel. He moves to the kettle, at last noticing it's loud shrieking, indicating that it's done.
He remembers to add two sugars to Sherlock's tea. Just how the consulting detective likes it.
John wakes the next morning to the smell of something burning. He quickly throws on his bathrobe and rushes downstairs, tying the belt strap as he goes. In the living room he finds a plate of what looks like burnt toast, overly-crispy bacon and runny eggs sitting on the table. He stares at it curiously, before he catches sight of a small folded paper sitting next to it. He crosses the living space and picks up the note, unfolding it carefully.
I thought you were hungry so I made breakfast. I'll be down at the Scotland Yard working with Lestrade on a cold case. I'll text you later if I need your assistance.
He smiles, his stomach churning with what he can only describe as butterflies. He sits down and picks up his fork, digging into his breakfast. The food is awful, but he eats it anyway because this small sign of affection from Sherlock is all he needs to know that the detective really cares. And John is happy, because he knows he is the only one who Sherlock will ever show such love to.