I didn’t get to participate on this Johnlock Challenge cause I never saw the sign up posts… :(
So I made myself a prompt! ahaha…ha…ha… I am such a sad person…
He finds it odd, really, that such a tall person would need assistance from him, of all people, in reaching a book. But, it’s John’s job to retrieve literature from the high shelves no matter how short he himself is, and so he grabs his ladder, asks for the title again (and ignores the huff from the black-coated man), and climbs his way up, and across, and back down again.
The man wants a book on moss first. When John asks upon scanning his item, the raven-haired man before him, typing on his mobile like his life depends on it, merely says “Experiment.”
(When he asks later, Sherlock says he was pouring various agents onto moss samples to track a killer. When John doesn’t believe him, Sherlock pulls out the case files and shows him. John is impressed. Sherlock is pleased.)
Next comes a request for three different books on fruit genetics, specifically those of apples. Then came fruit flies, and then fruit diseases, and then a book with pictures of decomposing human bodies, and then a history of apple trees in England. He never finds out what that one was about, and frankly he doesn’t want to know.
The man first visited on a March morning. He returns late that same month, seeking John’s assistance with the fruit-and-rotting-flesh-centric escapade. He frequents the bookstore once every two weeks, and then every week, and then every day, always seeking John, always waiting for him if he’s not there yet or leaving promptly when he isn’t (after furiously skimming a pottery tutorial). And when John comes in, he is there, waiting, rudely requesting book orders at the sales clerk. His visits grow longer in duration every time he steps foot in the door, and John gets a vaguely uncomfortable feeling that the man is obsessed with him - and quite possibly a serial killer.
"You’re not going to follow me home and chop me up into bits, are you?" John asks in May as he hands the waiting man a copy of reports on the London Blitz.
"No," the man responds, taking the book with the first uttered ‘thank you’ John has heard, "I would poison you. Much cleaner."
The remark catches John so off-guard that he falls off his ladder and sprains his wrist. The man comes back in the next day holding a bag out in offering. After being told his assistance isn’t necessary, John grabs it and pushes him out of the store, not wanting to amuse him that day, thank you very much.
He finds a wrist brace - an actual one, not like the pitiful ace wrap job he’s done himself - and a request for a book on honey bees. When his loyal customer comes back in, John hands him the book with an awkward, “Ehm, for the brace. Thank you, Mr…”
"Holmes," he says, and he smiles faintly as his gloved fingers linger on John’s. "Sherlock Holmes."
John begins to look forward to seeing Sherlock every day at two in the afternoon until roughly five pm. Sometimes he’s in earlier; sometimes he leaves immediately and in a rush. Regardless, they seek one another out, seeming to wait to see each other, and every day Sherlock has a new request, and every day John treks up the ladder and retrieves it with a smile. He checks Sherlock out (at the register, of course. He doesn’t check him out. Much.) and carries on with his tasks with the man tailing him, complaining about incompetent Yarders and boring corpses and how his beaker exploded.
John never has much to say to all that brilliance and excitement, nor much to offer about himself, but he doesn’t have to, he finds out one day as Sherlock tears into him like he’s an open book. It leaves John speechless, and Sherlock looks almost afraid of rejection, until John blurts out one word that costs him a stern look from his manager and a bright-eyed response from Sherlock: “Amazing.”
When Sherlock comes in one hot August day and barks at John like he did in the beginning, John considers asking if something is wrong. He hasn’t been this rude in months. But Sherlock needs his book on the psychology of love immediately, so John gets to the task. He fails to find the title Sherlock seeks, so he turns, apologises, and offers a substitute. Sherlock huffs out a yes and gestures for John to hurry down.
"But it’s not a forward descent lad-" John begins to protest.
“Quickly,” Sherlock snaps.
John sighs, defeated, and begins his careful crawl down. Not careful enough, however; he loses his footing and begins to slip. His hand tries to reach for a step, but the book slips from his grip. He focuses on that instead - on Sherlock, stupid, selfish Sherlock’s book - and grabs it mid-fall.
But instead of landing with bruises and a cracked head, he, too, is grabbed, and held, and kissed. Sherlock’s hands hold him securely and his sudden lips are warm and soft. John feels his face beginning to turn several shades of red. He stares at the man’s thick brows as he pulls away, and John’s lips are parted in an awkward, stunned gape.
”’The Chemistry of Attraction’,” Sherlock recites the title of the book John has pulled. He turns to look at the salesman and smiles. “An excellent choice, John.”
Sherlock asks him out to dinner that night by reprehending John for never eating at Angelo’s, a “travesty which must be corrected at once." Their first date, while awkward and full of giggling (mostly at Sherlock’s expense; he doesn’t even know how to play footsie, for crying out loud, and John’s toes hurt for three days after being crushed in the attempt), leads to a second, and then to a third, and then, and then, and then.
It’s late October and John is preparing the store for the next morning. He’s in late, very late, and wants nothing more than to go home. As fascinating as decorating the windows with falling leaves on string is, he’s having trouble reaching the top of the frame.
Gloved hands suddenly settle on his, taking the red leaf from him, and a warm, coat-covered body presses to his back as the taller man hangs the decor for him. The arms fall from their reach, and the leaf dangles before them both in a perfect cascade. John is embraced gently from behind and a nose nuzzles into the nape of his neck with calculated fondness.
"Move in with me," Sherlock mumbles, "and hold a copy of An Intellectual History of Cannibalism.”
John leans back into Sherlock’s chest, closes his eyes, and smiles.