A/N: So I'm actually leaving you all with this, and promises of more to come next week after I get back. This is from a request from Scribblez, and it dovetailed nicely with an idea I was already working on, only now it's way better. Thank you, Scribblez! The title translates to "At the end of the world". Please enjoy, as always. I do not own, nor do I profit from.
"This is the most foul thing I've ever eaten," Sherlock protested, gesturing at the basket of fish and chips in front of them on the small, high bar table, but invalidating his argument by doing so while holding two of said chips between his fingers.
"I thought you only stored important information in that hard drive of yours," John replied with a grin, helping himself to some of the chips, which were really not that bad: hot and crispy and salty and that was all he really looked for in chips standards. He complemented it with a draught of beer and Sherlock wrinkled his nose at John's apparent lack of sophistication.
"I do," he said in response to John's comment. "And I would certainly remember if I'd ever eaten anything more foul."
"Except you're still eating it," John pointed out, then helped himself to some of the fried fish that accompanied the chips, breaking off a piece and waving it half-accusingly at Sherlock. "So it can't be that bad."
"It's terrible," Sherlock said, snatching the piece of fish from John's fingers and popping it in his mouth. "However, in the interests of science, I cannot accurately dismiss all of this as terrible simply because I've sampled some of it. That would be irresponsible of me, as well as potentially inaccurate."
"To science, then," John said, lifting his glass. Sherlock clinked his own glass – gin and tonic – against John's.
"Indeed," he said.
John grinned, taking another long sip of his beer. Around them, it was fairly noisy, so their conversation was lost to anyone but themselves, precisely the way John liked it. Behind them, a group of university-aged people were playing some pub game, shouting with elation or groaning in defeat with every correct and incorrect answer. But there was more laughter than dismay, and people were calling out answers that sounded implausible even to John, who was not particularly listening.
"Oh, come now!" Sherlock sighed. "No, the answer isn't 'probably thirty', it's seven! All mammals have the same amount of cervical vertebrae, regardless of the length of their necks, even gira – mmph!"
He was cut off when John shut him up with a kiss. He chuckled into this when the detective's eyes widened in surprised, then relaxed when Sherlock gave an approving sigh.
"Play nice with the drunk kiddies, Sherlock," John admonished, pulling away.
"I don't know, John, I really don't. We should form a team and take them on."
"We'd walk all over them," John said, arching an eyebrow.
"Then we should be sure to play for money," Sherlock contemplated.
John laughed, sitting back. Sherlock grinned at him, and it seemed remarkable to see his husband relaxed while not on a case and not immediately following sex. John knew there would be some of that later – hopefully a little more than just some – and he was looking forward to it. More so when Sherlock oh-so-not-at-all-absently put a hand on John's thigh, tracing his fingertips up and down slowly, not quite going too far.
"Shameless," John muttered under his breath.
"Absolutely," Sherlock agreed with a wicked grin. John rolled his eyes, lacing his fingers through Sherlock's, effectively stopping the assault, or at least temporarily postponing it.
But right now, it was more than enough to be out with a Sherlock who was relaxed and happy and not on a case and not thinking about how he wasn't on a case. He'd just finished one the previous day, some ridiculous affair involving a staged suicide and an elaborately grieving widow who, it turned out, had several life insurance policies on her now-late husband as well as a young lover who had been posing as her concerned nephew. John thought perhaps she'd taken her ruse from daytime soaps and made a point to ask Mrs. Hudson if anything like that had been on EastEnders lately, because it would prove his theory quite nicely.
Someone squeezed past them and John leaned toward Sherlock to get out of the young woman's way, not wanting to wear the beers she was carrying in either hand down the front of his shirt. Sherlock took advantage of this to nip at John's ear and the doctor had to send a severe glance the detective's way, although this was serious undermined when Sherlock murmured:
"Je t'adore," in a low, rumbly voice. John felt a shudder run through him but repressed it, raising his eyebrows, knowing the heat in his cheeks would be visible to Sherlock, if to no one else.
Sherlock gave him a light, quick kiss and sat back, sipping his drink again. John rolled his eyes, taking a long draught of his beer to regain some equilibrium; Sherlock knew French was a good way to undo John. Not that the doctor had much idea what was being said, because his French was rudimentary at best, and most of the words he did recognize were not words he'd use in polite conversation.
"We'll go home soon," John promised.
"No," Sherlock contradicted. "I'm having fun."
He glanced about with dancing grey eyes and John shook his head, a smile playing on his lips. But he was enjoying himself, too, so it was hard to argue. Inside the pub, it was quite warm, with low lighting, but outside it was just as temperate, the late May weather not just hinting at the summer to come, but announcing with loudly, enthusiastically. John was glad they had an air conditioning unit, because it promised to be a stifling summer and the flat would be intolerable without it.
John polished off some more chips and divided the last piece of fish fairly evenly, noting that Sherlock took the slightly larger piece, despite his assertions that the food was terrible. John knew it wasn't; they came here often enough, but it was pub food, and, in the way of all pub food, was greasy and heavy and utterly perfect.
A frown twitched across Sherlock's face suddenly and he fished his phone from his pocket. John made a face, hoping it wasn't Lestrade, especially so soon, especially before they had a chance to go home and get in at least one good shag, but Sherlock just shook his head, slipping the phone back into his pocket.
"Mycroft," he said.
"You should answer it," John replied.
"No, John!" Sherlock said, wrinkling his nose in distaste. "He'll only have some tedious chore for me. You know how his cases are."
Oh yes, John thought. Find some stolen top secret missile plans and don't let them fall into a mad psychopath's hands. Help me locate a missing child. Incidentally, did I mention he's my son? Absolutely tedious, all of it.
Sherlock gave him one of those knowing looks that told John he may as well have said all of that out loud, down to the fine details, and John sighed, acting put upon. Sherlock was about to say something when he frowned again, pulling out his phone.
"Really," he sighed, hitting the ignore button again and returning it to his pocket. "He's nothing if not persistent."
"Hmm," John agreed, then nearly jumped when his own phone buzzed. He really needed to take if off of vibrate if he was going to keep it in his pocket, because it always startled him. He worked it out, not at all surprised to see that it was his brother-in-law.
"Don't answer it!" Sherlock said, covering John's hand with his own.
"No, I'm not going to," John said. "I'm shutting it off."
Sherlock gave him a broad, devious grin and fiddled with his phone a minute, then did the same. John was impressed; he'd never seen Sherlock do that for anyone but him, and it was still a very rare event. It had happened a few times when they were otherwise occupied and either Lestrade or Mycroft was trying to reach the consulting detective, and was usually accompanied by loud cursing on Sherlock's part for being distracted, followed by the phone being pitched across the bedroom or whatever room they were in. Sherlock was at least good at getting it to land somewhere soft, so it wouldn't break, say in a pile of clothing they'd left on the floor in a hurry.
And, because he was a sentimental twit who just wouldn't own up, he shut it off on their anniversaries and on John's birthdays. This had necessitated that John do the same, because both the DI and Sherlock's brother would just resort to calling John if they couldn't get a hold of Sherlock within their desired time frames. For Lestrade, this could be slightly longer, on the order of about half an hour. For Mycroft, it was about half a minute.
But not tonight, John thought and gave Sherlock a quick grin, receiving a beaming look in return. Behind him, the pub quiz game seemed to move into a new round and somehow got louder. John scooted his chair closer to Sherlock, who wrapped an arm around John, resting it on the top of the back of the chair. He stroked John's back absently, lightly, without really paying attention to it, or at least it looked that way to John. Sherlock was probably aware of the fabric of his shirt, when it had been washed and pressed, and the involuntary twitch of John's muscles at the contact. He had taken up doing this in pubs on some case years ago, John couldn't really remember, although if he'd asked, Sherlock probably would have told him. John may have even blogged about it.
He took another sip of his beer and glanced around. The pub was fairly full, which meant Sherlock wasn't bored, wasn't lacking people to analyze, and it was an interesting mix of ages, stretching from the university-aged kids to two business men in their fifties at the bar, their suit jackets undone and ties loosened, having some restrained yet impassioned discussion about something, with stereotypical martinis to boot.
"What are they talking about?" John asked, nodding in that direction. Sherlock couldn't read lips – as far as John knew anyway – but he could read body language.
"Hmm, business, something about a merger, I'd guess," he said. "Boring."
"That is boring," John agreed.
"I'm more interested in the young man beside them, the one with the blond girl."
John focused on the young couple, briefly. The woman was sitting facing the bar, the man slightly angled in his chair to face her – or to face them, John noted. It was a bit odd. He made sure not to meet the man's eyes and wondered what was going on. One of Mycroft's people? If so, where did he get all of them? Was there some sort of supply company? And hadn't he promised years ago to let up on the surveillance?
"No, I don't think so," Sherlock replied to his unspoken question, but probably the first one. "He's been checking you out all evening."
John almost choked on his beer and shot Sherlock a dirty look when the detective grinned and leaned over, kissing him again.
"And so you, what? Want to make him jealous?" John asked when Sherlock broke the kiss.
"He can be jealous all he wants," Sherlock said lightly. "He can't have you."
"He's probably checking you out anyway," John commented.
"No, I'm not his type," Sherlock said in that assured way of his that told John he was completely certain about his analysis. "Too pale and aloof-looking. You, on the other hand, look warm and approachable and trustworthy."
"Well, you're right about you not being trustworthy," John replied.
Sherlock gave a displeased snort.
"That was clearly not what I said, John, and –" he stopped then, eyes darting over John's shoulder, expression darkening and John twisted immediately in his seat to see what the problem was.
"Blast, blast, blast, he actually tracked us down?" Sherlock hissed. John repressed a groan when he saw his brother-in-law moving assuredly through the crowd, looking entirely out of place, but somehow not at all being hindered by the people around him, who seemed to move instinctively out of his way.
"We could run," John suggested under his breath.
"He'll have the back entrance watched," Sherlock replied in an equally low voice. "Blast, what the hell does he want? Hello, Mycroft, so nice of you to join us."
John noted the angry look on Mycroft's face – it would be hard not to, since it was directed at both of them quite clearly, and he was making no pains to hide it. But something made John uneasy, something he couldn't put his finger on.
If Sherlock had noted this, he was ignoring it.
"You weren't answering your phone," Mycroft snapped at his brother.
"Quite right," Sherlock agreed. "Can't you take a hint? I'm enjoying the world's most disgusting food and John's company. I'd offer you some – the food that is, not John's company – but it would thwart your perpetual diet. Don't be tedious, whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow."
"No, Sherlock, it can't," Mycroft said, his voice low, his eyes flashing. John felt himself stiffen more, something flashing down his spine, almost painfully, making his left shoulder hurt.
"I'm busy," Sherlock said, gesturing to the remaining chips, then at the pub around them. "Go away, Mycroft."
"You both need to come with me. Now."
Sherlock narrowed his own eyes in response.
"I don't think so," he replied.
Mycroft set his jaw, meeting his brother's gaze straight on, and now even Sherlock's expression changed the barest amount, moving from completely annoyed to mostly annoyed with a hint of concern.
"It's Mum, Sherlock," Mycroft said. "She's had a stroke. She's dead."