Word Count: 1, 370
Genre: slash (or pre-slash)
A/N: Written for my comment-fic meme. ratherastory requested Jealous!John after Irene returns. It ended up being mostly insecure!John. My characterization of Irene is based off ACD canon, rather than the 2009 film. This is really my first ever Sherlock story, so please be kind!
Summary: Irene is in London for a fortnight and John's not sure he likes it.
Irene was beautiful, witty, and charming. John had seen her first – this gorgeous woman walking toward them on the street, and then their eyes met, and she smiled so brightly ... only she hadn’t been looking at John.
“Sherlock!” She had exclaimed, and then Sherlock was smiling, swooping down to kiss her hand, calling her beautiful and saying how pleased he was to see her, how well she looked. Sherlock didn’t have other friends. John didn’t know who this woman was.
“Oh, manners, Sherlock,” Irene had said, when she finally noticed John standing awkwardly at Sherlock’s side. She held out her hand in a firm shake. “I’m Irene.”
“John,” John had replied, and Irene gave an odd half-smile, and then turned back to Sherlock, and explained that she had only returned to London for a fortnight, but that she did hope they could spend some time together. Sherlock had returned the sentiment, and John found himself smiling and inviting her around to the flat when she had some time.
He wished he had known how much time she actually had.
She was over nearly every night, and some afternoons while John was at the surgery. He’d come home to the sound of Sherlock’s laughter – she made Sherlock laugh, and not in the way most people made him laugh. John would come in and ask what the joke had been, but after the first few times Sherlock told him he wouldn’t understand, he had stopped asking.
Irene was more intelligent than John, and witty, and that meant that she could get Sherlock to chuckle deeply, the sound echoing through the flat – up the staircase to John’s room while he tried to sleep.
She could help him with his cases - not just as a sounding board, a glorified skull for Sherlock to talk to, but someone who could make connections - point out things Sherlock had missed. Sherlock didn’t get angry when she did this. His eyes lit up, and he looked over at John like Irene was the most wonderful being alive, and John could only agree. Irene laughed at the compliments, humbly said it was nothing; but it wasn’t nothing, she was brilliant.
Irene was stunning, just as stunning as Sherlock, and when the three of them walked down the street, John felt out of place – like the movie-star couple had invited their driver to the cafe. Irene turned heads, and Sherlock smiled like he knew he had the most beautiful woman in the world on his arm, as though he were well aware of how jealous everyone must be. Irene smiled too, no doubt for similar reasons.
Irene was an opera singer. Sherlock accompanied on the violin, and they gave John a concert one evening, and it was all he could do not to burst into tears. It was perfect and heartbreaking. John made sure to tell her how beautiful it was, how lovely it was to have an aria sung just for him in his living room. Sherlock offered that they could play him more, but John just wanted to flee the room before his walls all crumbled to dust at his feet.
He told them he was tired, and they could sing him to sleep, and made his way upstairs. She continued to sing, Sherlock’s violin playing steadily along, and John stood in front of his mirror and stared at the mottled scar on his left shoulder until his vision blurred. Maybe if he had had access to a proper hospital, it wouldn’t have ended up looking so ugly.
It was an Irene-free afternoon, and John had just made himself tea and was intent on spending the next few hours on the couch watching Sherlock muck about on the internet or work on his experiments. It was nice. John found himself looking forward to the end of the week, when Irene was due to leave London. Of course, the thought made him feel rather guilty, because it wasn’t fair to Sherlock that John wanted his only other friend to leave and never come back.
“John,” Sherlock said, handing John a black cube with ordered numbers printed on it. “Could you mix up my Sudokube for me. I need to practice. Irene is close to achieving my time.”
John sighed and started twisting the numbers into disarray. He had tried to solve it himself before - he knew there must be some sort of easy trick to it - but he had given up after about five minutes. Of course Irene could solve it so quickly that Sherlock seemed to fear she might be better at it than he was.
Sherlock’s phone beeped. John watched as he read the text and then jumped excitedly towards the door.
“Nevermind that now, John,” Sherlock said. “Lestrade has a case. Text Irene, while I get a cab, will you?”
John was halfway to standing, but he sat back down. Oh.
“Where, um, where shall I tell her to go?” John asked. Sherlock looked back at him like he had just asked something stupid. Maybe he had.
“I don’t care where she goes,” Sherlock answered. “She just shouldn’t come here, as no one will be home.”
“I thought you wanted her help on the case,” John said.
“Why would I want that?” Sherlock asked. “I have you.”
“She’s smarter than me,” John said.
“Many people are smarter than you, John,” Sherlock helpfully pointed out, as he threw his coat on. “Are you coming?”
“She’d probably be more helpful to you,” John continued.
“But I...need your medical expertise,” Sherlock said from the doorway, he seemed to have moved from confused to concerned.
“No, you don’t,” John said. “Most of what I tell you, you could probably look up on the internet in five-minutes.”
“Have I done something wrong?” Sherlock asked, suddenly very still. “Are you angry with me?”
“No,” John replied. “I just thought...you’ve been spending a lot of time with Irene, and...”
John wasn’t even sure what he was trying to say – ‘I thought you liked her better than me’ seemed a bit childish, but that was actually what he had thought.
“She told me to,” Sherlock nearly whispered. “Was that...not good?”
Now John was the one who was confused.
“What do you mean she told you to?” John asked.
Sherlock stared at the wall and looked annoyed.
“She said that I should leave you alone for a bit,” Sherlock admitted. “She said that I was probably smothering you, and it’d drive you away. She made a compelling argument.”
“But I like it when you smother me,” John muttered, confused as to how exactly Irene had managed to convince Sherlock otherwise. He hadn’t even realized the implications of what he had said, until Sherlock smiled brightly at him.
In the next moment, John found himself flat on his back on the couch with Sherlock - coat, scarf, and all - lying on top of him and grinning.
“I meant figuratively,” John said, but it was ruined when he started giggling.
“You like this too,” Sherlock said, “John come with me to the crime scene – it’s a sealed room murder, John. The victim has been decapitated, and they can’t find his head! John...where is his head?”
“Are you sweet-talking me with descriptions of a grisly murder?” John laughed.
“Is it working?” Sherlock asked, putting his head down on John’s shoulder.
They both started giggling then, and that’s what suddenly made John realize how very much he had gotten wrong – Irene had made Sherlock laugh, but only John made him giggle. Irene had helped with the cases, and when she had gotten something right, Sherlock had looked to John – not to brag about how clever Irene was, but to have John praise her as he did Sherlock – Sherlock had wanted Irene to see how much John appreciated intelligence. Sherlock had been showing him off. And the concert – the concert hadn’t been about them playing together, it had been about them playing for John...
“I’m an idiot,” John muttered.
“That’s alright, John,” Sherlock said. “Most everybody is. Thankfully, one doesn’t have to be a genius to be interesting.”
Sherlock’s phone beeped again.
“Will you come help me find a severed head, John?” Sherlock whispered softly.
“I’d love to,” John smiled.