At the moment I'm intrigued by the idea that Sherlock might be asexual, so here's a short conversation exploring that and other things. Set right after A Study in Pink.
The restaurant is busy, full of good-humoured chatter, and they let the noise wash over and around their silence.
Sherlock’s too busy to talk, devouring his meal like he’s not eaten in days – which he hasn’t – and applying the same intensity of focus to his Singapore noodles that he usually reserves for a corpse. And John’s still jittery, still freaked out by the fact that he just shot a man and got away with it – a killer, he reminds his uneasy conscience. He glances down at the hand that pulled the trigger, flexing his fingers. Steady as a rock. Amazing.
He never imagined himself as a vigilante, righting wrongs on the streets of London. He never imagined this life at all. But then again, he never imagined Sherlock Holmes.
And, to be honest, who could?
Dazzling, supercilious, charismatic – Sherlock burns so bright that John suspects its dangerous to get too close. Dangerous but inevitable; he can already feel himself being drawn into his orbit, craving the light and the heat. And he wonders how many others are trapped in Sherlock’s gravitational pull, basking in his reflected glory: Lestrade, Donovan, Anderson. Himself. Enemies too, perhaps. Like proverbial moths to the flame, they fling themselves against his brilliance and wait to burn. Want to burn.
No, no one could dream-up Sherlock Holmes, nor the wild adventure he makes of life. He’s led them well and truly off the map and John decides that he likes it. He likes it a lot.
So he lets the silence run, and it’s good. It’s comfortable. He can’t remember how long its been since he’s felt so at ease. Certainly not since before his first tour. But now, for the first time since he touched down at Brize Norton, he feels like he’s shaking the Afghan dust from his boots.
He smiles, picks up his beer and takes a drink. It tastes good, and it’s his second so he’s pleasantly buzzing. Sherlock, on the other hand, is sticking to water, and John can’t decide if that’s down to virtuous abstinence or necessity; he suspects, from the nicotine patches and mercurial temperament, that Sherlock’s plagued by something of an addictive personality.
“You don’t drink, don’t smoke,” he says, humming the old tune in his head. “What do you do?”
Sherlock eyes him over chopsticks loaded with noodles. “Do subtle innuendos follow?”
He laughs. “You are far too young to know that song.”
“True, but Mycroft isn’t and he always had very pedestrian musical taste.” Sherlock puts the chopsticks down and takes a sip of water. “The answer to your question, by the way, is cocaine.” His lips curve, defiant, at John’s reaction and he adds, “But only when I’m bored.”
John takes another drink, swallowing that piece of information along with the mouthful of beer. He thinks it should bother him more than it does; if nothing else, it explains Lestrade’s ‘fake’ drug bust. “You,” he says, suddenly aware that he’s a little tipsy, “are a very unique man, Sherlock Holmes.”
“A freak?” There’s a flicker of that smile John’s starting to recognise, the one that’s not quite as derisive as it seems, the one with a hint of something uncertain, something requiring an answer.
He says, “Better than being boring, right?” and smiles to show he means it. After a moment Sherlock smiles too, more honestly than before. John puts his beer down on the table, tracing the label where condensation is making it peel away from the glass. “So… I think this is going to work. You and me. The flat.”
Sherlock nods. “Yes. I agree. It’s… It’s good.”
‘Good’, John’s come to realise, is Sherlock’s generic term for any positive emotion he can’t – or won’t – name. Good can mean anything. In this case, he thinks it means ‘This is going to be fun’.
John raises his beer in salute. “To Mike Stamford,” he says, “and random acts of kindness.”
For a moment Sherlock looks bemused, then lifts his glass to touch the bottle. “Mike Stamford.”
“We should probably establish some ground rules,” John suggests. “You know, so we both know where we stand.”
“Why?” Sherlock frowns, suddenly suspicious; the transformation is startling. “What kind of rules?”
“I don’t know – just general rules about the flat.”
His fingers start drumming on the table, long and elegant – like a pianist’s. “You should know that I need to do certain experiments related to my work, and that I can’t possibly—”
“No, I meant— You know, like bringing people back to the flat. That kind of thing.”
Sherlock narrows his eyes. “What people?”
“Well, friends. Like a girlfriend, or…” He hesitates, because he’s still not sure. “A boyfriend?”
Sherlock takes a sip of water and stares at something out of the window. “Oh.”
“Oh?” It’s suddenly awkward, because John knows he’s upset him but can’t think how. He laughs uncertainly. “What does ‘oh’ mean?”
“Come on, it means something. Do you not want me to bring anyone back to the flat…?”
“No, it’s fine.”
“I mean, I don’t mind if you want to… You know, whoever you might…” He clears his throat. “What I mean is—”
“I know what you mean.” His lips press together into a thin, frustrated line. John’s about to say something more when Sherlock blurts, “I don’t bring people back.”
He’s not entirely surprised, he can’t quite imagine Sherlock on a date; his idea of a fun time would probably involve corpses and police reports. But surely he must have some friends? He leans back in his chair, nursing his beer. “Really?” he says. “No one…?”
Sherlock sighs. It’s slight, but perceptible, as if he’s bracing himself. And that’s strange because John’s just watched him dice with death without flinching, and yet now he’s sitting opposite him as awkward as a teenager. “No,” he says at last, “no one.” He meets John’s gaze with an air of resignation. “Like I told you before – intimate relationships aren’t really my area. I’m simply not…interested.”
John considers this for a moment, letting the pieces fall into place. “You’re not interested in sex?”
“Oh.” He swallows another mouthful of beer. “Okay.”
Sherlock’s fingers fall still on the table. “That’s it?”
“What were you expecting?”
“Well…” He stares, as if trying to parse truth from lies. “Most people say ‘Then you must be doing it wrong’ or ‘You haven’t met the right person yet’ or ‘Are you joking?’ or ‘What kind of cold-blooded freak are you?’”
“That’s nice,” John nods. “Did you want me to ask any of those questions?”
“Okay then.” And when Sherlock is still staring at him in apparent confusion he leans forward over the table and, in a confiding voice, says, “I don’t want to sleep with you, so I don’t care if you’re not interested in sex.”
Sherlock stares for a moment longer then says, “Thank God, that’s such a relief.”
“Why? Did you think I fancied you?”
He shrugs. “Most people seem to – if they don’t hate me. Sometimes they do both.”
“Right.” He shakes his head, because Sherlock’s not boasting – he’s just being honest. As usual. “Well, poor you. My heart bleeds…”
Sherlock waves a hand, blasé. “Mostly it’s extremely inconvenient, although I suppose, on occasion, it has its uses.”
“Uses?” John smiles, he can’t help himself. “Unbelievable, Sherlock. Un-bloody-believable…”
Sherlock pins him with a questioning look, as if he’s not quite sure how to react. And then he laughs, a warm laugh that seems to escape without permission and refuses to be smothered.
It’s infectious and John finds himself laughing too. He wonders if they’re both still a little high from the thrill of the chase. “What?”
With a cough, Sherlock gets himself under control. But his eyes are bright, quicksilver in the dimly lit restaurant. “It’s just that you’re a very rare person, John Watson. I like you.”
He tips his bottle in salute. “From you, that’s a compliment.”
“Yes,” Sherlock agrees, more seriously. “Yes, it is.”
Finishing his beer, John puts the bottle down with a flourish. “We made a bloody good team today,” he says. “It was fun. Mad, but fun. And I’m weirdly sorry it’s over.”
“Over?” Sherlock gives him an altogether different smile, dangerous and exciting. Utterly compelling, in fact. “But, John, don’t you know? It’s only just begun.”
Thanks so much for reading. Hope you liked it!