Title: The Proposal Game
Word Count: 1300
Summary: John keeps asking. Sherlock keeps saying yes.
Notes: Written for this prompt from .
Sherlock had a string of paying clients for several weeks in a row, so when he suggested he and John go to a restaurant much more upscale than their usual places, John agreed. The restaurant had linen napkins and ferns, and an actual pianist playing subdued versions of pop songs.
“This feels too swank for the likes of us,” said John softly as he spread a napkin over his lap.
“Nonsense, John,” said Sherlock. “This is exactly what you deserve.”
John looked down at the menu to hide his smile. “You spoil me,” he said as he touched Sherlock’s foot with his own.
“Yes, I know.” Sherlock leaned his chin on his hand as he studied the menu.
“You’re actually doing to eat something?”
“Yes. I don’t expect to run off after a lead tonight.”
“Truly,” said John, “this is a very special occasion.” They smiled at each other.
They were halfway through their meal when the man at the table next to them got out of his chair and onto his knees. The woman started weeping with happiness while he was still getting the ring box out of his jacket pocket. “Yes, absolutely,” she wept and people at other tables began to applaud as the man put the ring on her finger.
John applauded too. Sherlock looked irritated. John said, “Are you so cynical you can’t appreciate other peoples’ happiness?”
“I don’t want this to delay the arrival of my soufflé.” He watched a waiter bring the couple flutes of champagne and sighed loudly.
“Have some of my pasta. For someone who never eats,” John added as Sherlock twirled his fork in John’s fettuccine, “you can certainly pack it away when you do.”
“If I never ate, I’d never eat,” Sherlock remarked and ate the pasta. “I wouldn’t never eat and then sometimes eat.”
“You never eat,” said John, “except when you do eat. Schrodinger’s appetite.”
Sherlock chuckled and glanced at the newly-engaged couple, who were now enjoying the restaurant’s chocolate mousse trio. He looked at them, then looked at John, and looked at them again.
“Sherlock,” John said. “Whatever you’re planning, stop it.”
“Would you like some champagne tonight, John?”
“Sherlock,” John said warningly.
“We’ve been together for so long,” Sherlock said in a scarily sincere voice, and didn’t even flinch when John kicked his foot. “No one knows me like you do,” he went on instead, “and no one has ever loved me like you.”
John covered his face with his hand. “Sherlock–”
“And in the words of that great poet James Blunt–”
“John, darling. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. It’s true.”
John couldn’t keep a straight face a moment more, and laughed so hard he had to put down his fork.
They did not get free champagne that night.
They did the next time, though.
It became a game. They even took turns making the proposals. Whenever they had enough money to spare, which was just often enough to keep it interesting, they’d go to a new restaurant and finish their meal with one of them asking the other for their hand in marriage — the more extravagant the proposal, the better. Once John even got up and sang — the James Blunt song, hoping it would crack Sherlock up — and Sherlock hid his smirk behind his hand but still kissed John when he came back to the table.
The champagne was sweet, the desserts were decadent, and the shagging when they got back to the Baker Street flat was amazing far more often than not, but still John felt strange about it. He kept saying “Will you marry me?” and Sherlock kept saying yes, and vice-versa, and yet they weren’t actually engaged.
And the more John said it, the more he wanted to mean it, and the more he wanted Sherlock to say yes and mean it, really mean it, too.
He tried it once, at Angelo’s, while they were eating ravioli and drinking red wine, and Sherlock just looked confused. “They know us here, John,” was his answer, “if you want more wine all you need to do is ask.”
John mumbled he’d love some more wine and rethought his strategy. Angelo brought them Cassata Siciliana for dessert, too, which improved the evening somewhat.
They decided to give the game a pass one night when another actual couple got engaged in the restaurant. John watched them kiss and blush and hold hands, and said to Sherlock, “That could be us.”
“That is us, two or three times a month.” Sherlock frowned at the menu.
“I mean, for real.”
Sherlock transferred the frown to John.
“I mean,” John said, feeling as if he were trying to bail out a sinking boat, “we could actually do it. I could actually say, Will you marry me, and you could actually say yes, and then we could actually go to a registry office and declare intent and have a ceremony.”
Sherlock was still frowning at him.
John sighed. “What I am trying to say,” he said patiently, “is that I really do want to marry you, and at some point I’m going to sincerely ask you, and I hope when I ask you sincerely answer instead of reciting James Blunt lyrics.”
“I think you blew your best proposal to me that time at Indigo.”
“Mm,” said John softly, “I remember that pie.”
“That was very good pie.”
“Pie aside,” said John, “I will find a way to propose to you that will top that time at Indigo.”
“I hope it’s more romantic than this,” Sherlock remarked.
John was holding an ice pack to Sherlock’s newest bruises while Sherlock rattled off his deductions to Lestrade, and then finally took the mobile and said, “You have enough, don’t you, to make an arrest? Sherlock’s wounds need attention.”
“I have enough, but –”
John never heard what more Lestrade had to say — he switched off the mobile and put it aside, and picked up a wash rag to clean the wound on the side of Sherlock’s mouth now that he’d stopped talking.
“I’m fine, John,” Sherlock said as he tasted the blood oozing from his lip.
“Of course you are,” John murmured, “which is why you’re going to bed as soon as we’re done here.”
“John, the case –”
“Is solved. Stop arguing.”
Sherlock grunted, his frown opening the split deeper, and John held the wash rag to his mouth again. He felt Sherlock’s eyes on him, thoughtful.
When the bleeding stopped John helped Sherlock to bed and stripped off the rest of his clothes. He inspected Sherlock’s body for injuries Sherlock hadn’t noticed, aware that Sherlock was still watching him through half-closed eyes. He found nothing but a few more bruises, which he gently kissed. It wouldn’t help the bruises, he knew, but it made him feel better.
Sherlock pushed a hand into John’s hair and said softly, “Sometimes I am sharply reminded how good you are to me.”
John smiled at him, enjoying the way Sherlock’s fingers massaged his scalp. “Are you planning to burst into song?”
“Not at this juncture. You have a better voice, anyway.” Sherlock smiled too, still moving his fingers through John’s hair. “Do you still want to marry me?”
“Why haven’t you asked yet?”
“I’m waiting for the right moment.”
Sherlock looked away, still smiling. “How will you know when it’s the right moment?”
John rested his chin on Sherlock’s chest. “Maybe it’ll be quiet. Maybe it’ll be just the two of us at home, and you’ve proved your brilliance once again by removing a dangerous criminal from the streets, and I love you a little more than usual …”
“Yes, John,” Sherlock said, still with that soft smile, and John stopped and smiled at him. It wasn’t a romantic proposal, as they went, and it wasn’t in public, it wasn’t going to get rewarded with desserts and champagne — but it was theirs.
Somehow, that mattered more.
“Yes,” he said, pleased beyond words, and moved up Sherlock’s body to kiss him. “That’s the last time I’m proposing to you, too. I don’t think we need to do it anymore.”
“Good,” said Sherlock, sliding his arms around John. “I was getting rather tired of champagne.”