Bart's. My lab. Come quickly. SH
Sherlock stared at the screen for a good five minutes before pressing send. He knew he'd timed it perfectly, John would be finished with his match and just about out of the shower.
Not urgent. No danger (for now). But come anyway. SH
They'd met two years ago today, in this very lab, and since when had he turned into such a romantic sap? Sherlock actually did know the answer to that, it had been one year and three months ago when John had first told him that he was loved. And John had waited almost another year for Sherlock to be able to say it back to him.
Twenty minutes later, John stood in the doorway with an indulgent smile, leaning on his left shoulder instead of his right as he usually did. "Go on then."
Sherlock took his time and looked, really looked, at John. It was only in the last year or so that he'd been able to do that openly, before then he had made do with sideways glances and taken advantage of all the times John was too deep in concentration to notice. Although he apparently hadn't been as surreptitious about it as he thought, as he found out when John had caught him.
Now Sherlock observed John's slightly damp hair, a bruise on his right hand, the faint wind burn on his face, and the residual exhilaration from the match. There were no traces of dirt from the pitch, John was meticulous about being clean. He'd always been fastidious but became even more so after the long months in the desert when he couldn't get free of the dust and sand.
John also had the fond look on his face that he often wore when seeing Sherlock after they'd been apart, even if only for a short while. The only exception was when John was cross with him but Sherlock had made every effort to ensure that would not be the case today.
"You lost but it was close. Your side played well, so you're happy, and you played two, no three, minutes above your average time. The refereeing was terrible, judging by the marks on your hand where you slammed it into the bench. And your mate Jeff showed up for the first time in months, his daughter is finally sleeping through the night."
"Amazing as always," John said, and even after all this time, it still never failed to make Sherlock warm inside. "I think I followed everything except for how in the world you knew Jeff was back."
"You only lost by one goal instead of three. Statistically your team always does better with him in goal. And you're favoring your right side, which means that Jeff and his strong back slaps have made a return appearance."
"Amazing," John said again. "And you're clearly having just as much fun in here," John said, moving over towards the workbench. "Discover anything new?" he asked, pressing up against Sherlock's back and wrapping his arms around Sherlock's chest. "I expect you to name an exotic strain of bacteria after me someday."
That had potential for an anniversary or birthday gift sometime down the road, Sherlock would have to remember that. johnwatsonluminarius had a nice ring to it. For now, Sherlock was keenly aware of the present he carried in his jacket pocket. He just had to get up the courage to give it to John.
John, who was everything to Sherlock and made Sherlock, for the first time in his life, want to to give everything to someone in return. Sherlock knew he wasn't enough, but John was so extraordinary, that being with Sherlock just might be sufficient to make him happy, at least for a little while.
Sherlock felt his back get cold as John leaned away to survey the room and he missed John's presence immediately. "So what was important but not dangerous?" John asked, the smile evident in his voice. "I thought I was meeting you at Angelo's later?"
Angelo's had been John's idea, and while Sherlock was fond of the place, it also reminded him of that first time when he had turned John down and those were not memories he wanted intruding right now.
Sherlock spun on his workstool so that John was standing in front of him. This was as close as he intended to get to bended knee, he certainly wasn't going to go that far with convention. Trying to get the words out was terrifying enough.
"John, would you," he started, fumbling in his pocket and then holding out a small box. Sherlock took a deep breath and tried again, looking down at his hands. "Would you do me the …" and stopped when John started laughing.
Sherlock's head snapped up in disbelief. He had run the numbers in his head, over and over, mostly as a distraction from the fact that he had to figure out how to ask the question. The highest probability was that John would say yes and that stood at 85%. That was followed by a 12% percent chance of a yes with conditions, such as a long engagement or concessions about the state of the flat or Sherlock's penchant for running off and leaving John behind, although he really had gotten better about that. The chances of a flat out no stood at only 2.9 percent. The odds that John was so completely surprised at the proposal that it would provoke laughter had been too small to calculate, so it couldn’t be sheer astonishment. John was the only one who knew Sherlock well enough to know that he was capable of something like this. Part of the reason he had picked today was that John had always been sentimental about anniversaries.
One of the things he loved most about John was his capacity to constantly surprise him. And Sherlock certainly was surprised. And humiliated. He'd never expected that from John though.
He kept staring at John, who was still laughing, and for once, Sherlock had absolutely no idea what to say. Never in their time together had John ever laughed at him, not in the way that so many others had. Teased him yes, all of the time in fact, but never derisively, and Sherlock teased him right back in his own way.
Hot shame flooded him and Sherlock could not think clearly enough to determine how he had misjudged John so completely. Totally confused, he went with what John had drilled into him over their time together whenever Sherlock caused a situation like this - an apology.
"No, no, don't. No, god no. It's not that, not you, it's just…" John couldn't speak through his laughter but he pulled out a small black cloth bag from his jacket pocket and opened it so that Sherlock could see the glint of silver within.
"Sherlock Holmes," John said, clearly trying for somber and serious but only barely managing not to giggle again, "will you marry me?"
Sherlock broke into a wide grin, and then he was laughing too as John pulled him up into his arms. Before he knew it, they were holding onto each other trying to stay upright, shaking with laughter. The moment turned and then John was kissing him slow and sweet and Sherlock was kissing him back with all the words that he still couldn't quite say. And then they were holding each other and Sherlock rested his head on John's shoulder and absolutely did not let out a low sigh when John stroked his head. He couldn't think of anything he wanted more than to have the chance to spend the rest of his life with this extraordinary man.
After what seemed like ages, Sherlock's brain finally came back online. Stupid, he really should have seen it sooner. He'd attributed John's anxiety over the past few days to the situation at work, a new doctor had been writing questionable prescriptions and John being John would feel compelled to speak up sooner rather than later. Sherlock also knew that John had been worried about the scorch mark on the rug where he'd spilled oil from a frying pan that he mistakenly thought neither Sherlock nor Mrs Hudson knew about it. Both did, of course, and Mrs Hudson had already blamed Sherlock. Sherlock had just tuned out her outrage as usual, it barely registered after so many similar incidents where Sherlock actually had been at fault.
John took his dog tags out of the bag and placed them in Sherlock's hand, gently closing Sherlock's fingers over them. They felt heavier then they looked.
"Were these the ones you wearing these when you were shot?" It was such an obvious question and he hated obvious questions but he had to ask anyway, if only to hear the answer in John's own voice.
"Yeah, thought you might find them, I don't know, interesting I guess. Nobody else would really understand."
"I'm quite not sure what I think," Sherlock replied, turning the tags over in his fingers, watching the artificial light of the lab glint off them, imagining he could feel them warm with desert sun and body heat and blood. "You getting shot brought you to me but I find the image of you bleeding out on the sand quite disturbing."
"You don't have to wear them. I can get you something else." The furrows John always got around his eyes when he was concerned appeared but John didn't seem upset for his own sake at the apparent rejection. The concern was for Sherlock, which was nothing new but always important nonetheless.
"No, it's fine," Sherlock said quietly. "It's a reminder of how close I came to not having you at all." Sherlock reached out to gently touch John's wounded shoulder and John's hand covered his.
Still holding the tags in his other hand, Sherlock ran his fingers over the raised lettering which listed John's 8 digit service number, his last name and first initial. CE in the space for religion, while raised in the faith John had never been particularly devout but he clearly believed in some higher power, and John's blood type, O NEG, which Sherlock had already known as well.
O NEG was relatively rare but extremely useful as it was the universal donor blood type. John would probably like that, being able to donate blood to someone who might have a difficult time finding a match.
The tags had been cleaned years ago and there was no trace of John's blood visible to the naked eye. Sherlock wondered if he put them under the microscope if he would he see anything and would wearing them mean he'd be carrying John's DNA around with him?
"Hey, you alright in there?" John asked gently and Sherlock looked up to meet his eyes.
"I'm fine," Sherlock said, and meant it. "Oh, and I do have something for you." He'd gotten so caught up in examining John's tag and in his thoughts that he'd forgotten to give John his gift.
Handing it to him, Sherlock said, "It's not as personal, I don't really have anything like that.
Mycroft has both my father's ring and my mother's family jewelry, he's as greedy as ever. The only really sentimental thing I have is the skull and even I knew that wasn't appropriate."
That got a laugh and a smile from John and it was encouraging enough that Sherlock went on to tell him all of the other tokens Sherlock had thought of but ultimately discarded. Looking down at the box John held, Sherlock told John, "I thought of a watch, but the one you currently have has great sentimental value, or a gold bracelet, but you already wear your watch on your right hand and have never been comfortable with anything around your left wrist. I've never seen you wear a necklace and I thought it might remind you of your military tags. I wasn't sure if that was good or not." Nothing he could think of seemed to be the perfect gift for his John and Sherlock worried that the gift he had ultimately decided on wasn't sufficient.
The light touch of John's fingers on his hands silenced him and Sherlock looked up to see the joy on John's face at how much thought Sherlock was capable of when it was something that really mattered. John should know by now that he mattered most of all.
"So now that I know what it isn't, can I open it and find out what it is?" Without waiting for permission, John opened his present and pull out a solid round key chain that was the same brass color as the lettering on their door. He turned it around in his hands and Sherlock saw the smile when John saw their intertwined initials and ran his fingers over the engraving.
"It's perfect, Sherlock," John told him and leaned in to kiss Sherlock.
"I thought maybe you could put the key to our house on it." John smiled, dug out his current key chain and did just that. He held out his hand and it took a few seconds for Sherlock to realized what he wanted. Sherlock gave him the tags back and bowed his head so John could drape them over his neck. When finished, John tilted Sherlock's head up so he could kiss him once more. Then John laughed again.
"Now what?" Sherlock asked, thinking that he should be getting pissed at how John kept laughing at him but found that he simply couldn't be bothered.
"You never answered my question," John told him.
"Since we were both planned to ask, I don't see how the answer is in doubt."
"Humour me, Sherlock. Will. You. Marry. Me."
"I asked first."
"You did, you were very brave," John said, still laughing and Sherlock was forced to give in.
"Yes, John, of course yes. A thousand times, yes."