Pairing(s)/Character(s): John, Sherlock
Word Count: ~1140
Summary: Sherlock deals with his social ineptitude by verbally eviscerating anything within sight. John deals with Sherlock by making tea.
Part of the Affection-verse, though this can be read as a stand-alone. Not S2-compliant.
Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down. – Anonymous
When John gets to the living room, the first thing he looks for is the cow skull hanging on the wall. Miraculously, it’s still in place even after Sherlock had slammed his door shut so hard the walls had quivered. The headphones perched on it look a little lopsided though – or that might just be his imagination.
“I’ll put the tea on, shall I?” he calls through the door. No words greet him, but the ominous thumping and clattering from Sherlock’s bedroom gets a little louder.
“Right,” John mutters. “Tea.”
He’s just pouring the tea into two cups (milk in both, no sugar for him and a ludicrous amount for Sherlock) when Sherlock finally re-emerges from his bedroom. From the quick, staccato rhythm tapping across the floor, John’s fairly confident in guessing that Sherlock isn’t quite done with throwing his temper tantrum yet. For that matter, the running commentary on the idiocy of Scotland Yard and all its employees is a bit of a giveaway too.
Frankly, Sherlock seems like he’s over-reacting a little. The murder certainly had turned out to be a suicide (and rather ingeniously carried out, too) intended to frame the husband, but the kind of aspersions Sherlock was casting on the forensics team was beyond even his usual condescension.
John hadn’t heard what Anderson had said to Sherlock while they were outside the house, but Sherlock had gone off on his tear shortly thereafter. He’d verbally flayed half the team there, aired a good deal of dirty laundry, solved the case, then stomped off with John trailing bemusedly in his wake.
John’s not Sherlock but he recognises cause and effect when he sees it. He rolls the tension out of his shoulders, picks up both cups, and heads out.
“You were rather harsh with Anderson today,” John comments. He puts Sherlock’s tea down on the table and glances between the sofa and the armchair. On the one hand, he usually takes the armchair. On the other –
“Was I?” Sherlock asks distractedly. He strides to the window, glances out, turns, strides back to the mantelpiece, reaches for the skull, drops his hand and goes back to the window. “Merely honest, I would say.”
“Well, you do tend to be a little –” John considers his words carefully as he sits down at one end of the sofa. He hasn’t seen Sherlock this aggravated in a while. “Blunt.”
“Should I have couched it in prettier words?” Sherlock asks, a hint of a sneer beneath the cultured tone. “What good could that possibly have done?”
“Not humiliated him in front of his co-workers?” John says.
“He’s used to it,” Sherlock says. “They all are. Sociopath, remember? You don’t expect social niceties from a sociopath.”
“Bollocks,” John says amiably. “You’re no more a sociopath than I am.”
Sherlock actually stops in his frenetic pacing to stare at John. Then he shakes his head and resumes his movements, although at a slower pace than before. “No one’s ever questioned that diagnosis,” he murmurs.
“Sociopathy isn’t even an official diagnosis anymore,” John says.
“Psychopath, then,” Sherlock says dryly. “As dear Sally so often accuses me of being.”
“Not that, either,” John says mildly. “High-functioning autism, if anything.”
“I am not autistic,” Sherlock hisses at John. John blinks in surprise at the odd fervour to his voice.
“Asperger’s, maybe,” John says after a moment, his voice steady. “Who knows? Something along those lines.”
“I don’t –” Sherlock begins.
“I’m not a psychiatrist,” John says. “I’m not diagnosing you.”
Sherlock has stilled again, his eyes bright and fervent as he pinions John to the sofa with his glare.
“But it’s a possibility,” John adds.
“I’m not autistic,” Sherlock repeats.
“It’s been suggested before,” John says. If he hadn’t been looking for it, he might have missed the minute flinch. “When you were a kid? No, not for the time, I don’t think. You’d just have been labelled a difficult child. When you were older, then, and it was made out to be a terrible thing. Who was the prat?”
Sherlock watches John silently. The look in his eyes has softened somewhat, but John’s not entirely certain what emotion it is that lives in them now.
“Someone, yeah?” John presses. “There’s enough about your behaviour to bear out the possibility of Asperger’s or autism, even without a formal diagnosis. Although, honestly, I don’t know that you meet all the criteria. But someone thought it would be grand to tease you about it. No, not tease exactly –” he corrects, watching the tiny flickers of movement across Sherlock’s face. He doesn’t deduce things the way Sherlock does, but he has learned by now how to read Sherlock. He knows when he’s on track purely by the way Sherlock looks at him.
“Not tease, but – think you’re less than capable,” John says, and watches as Sherlock’s expression confirms the statement for him. “That’s it, then. Someone thought that because you didn’t relate to the world the same way most people do, that made you stupid. Anderson said something today to remind you of that.”
Sherlock clears his throat. “High IQ, low EQ,” he offers. “I’ve heard that said before.”
The defensiveness has melted out of Sherlock’s voice and posture. John shifts over slightly on the sofa and raises a questioning eyebrow.
“Mm, I can see why,” he says. “Well, clearly you’re anything but stupid. Having Asperger’s – or autism – or, for that matter, not having either, just – not being very good with emotions – I mean, it takes a lifetime even for the rest of us to figure out emotions and we’re still not nearly as good at it as we pretend to be – anyway, whatever the case, it doesn’t make you any less amazing than you are.”
Sherlock’s eyes are definitely smiling now, even if his lips aren’t. He takes a few cautious steps forward, then sinks down on the other end of the sofa, never once looking away from John. John, for his part, picks up his tea and hides behind it.
“Besides,” Sherlock says suddenly, leaving John floundering to figure out what they’re talking about now, “dealing with emotions is what I’ve got you for.”
“I suppose so,” John says uncertainly.
Sherlock watches him for a while more, then adds, “Teach me.”
John stares into his tea for a bit, wondering if Sherlock’s ever asked that of anyone before. If anyone had agreed. It’s rather a lot to ask, but there’s no other response he could possibly give. “All right.”
“I’ll work at it,” Sherlock promises, stretching out languidly. He swings his feet up onto the sofa and proprietorially tucks his toes under John’s thigh. “And in the meantime, you’ll be there to help.”