"It was initially believed that the noble gases could not form bonds due to their full valence shell of electrons that rendered them chemically stable and unreactive."
* Read a summary of the story so far over at my friend John's blog, here.
Ha. Well, about that…
When Sherlock heard John’s newest girlfriend, a coffee shop barista with custody of her two orphaned nephews, was coming over to the flat for a visit, he’d immediately grabbed his coat and scarf and fled to the morgue. He ignored John’s angry texts that he had to meet Felicia eventually, might as well get it over with, for thirty minutes before the text alert noise finally trailed off into silence for the last time. With a sigh of relief, Sherlock cleared his mind and got back to some experiments he’d been neglecting. The next time he looked at the clock, it was an hour and a half later, and his back was beginning to ache from being bent over the lab table.
He cleaned up, said goodbye to Molly, promised her he’d have coffee with her for reals next time, and began walking back to the flat. He was just in time, too, because as he approached, he could see Felicity or Ferrari or whatever her name was kissing John goodbye out front, a cab idling behind her. Probably had been going on about not wanting to leave John’s side to seem “cute” or something. Sherlock rolled his eyes and kept his head down as he passed them. They didn’t even notice him sneaking into the flat.
Once inside, Sherlock didn’t bother taking off his jacket, he just began rummaging through the pile of things on his desk. He was looking for the business card of that extremely grateful flower shop he’d solved a case for last week, thinking he could maybe buy some of the more exotic plants they carried and harvest their pollen, maybe breed them to meet certain criteria first… Where was that card? Hadn’t he given it to John?
Maybe his friend left it in a pocket or somewhere else around the flat. Sherlock fluttered about the living room and kitchen, checking everywhere he could think of where John might have left the card. He didn’t want to go outside and ask the man about it with Firecrotch still around. Sherlock might accidentally get roped into conversation. Instead, he ventured upstairs to have a look around John’s bedroom.
At first, Sherlock was so focused on finding the card that he didn’t notice much else about the room. When he finally glanced down, spotted the card half-buried in John’s bedside trash can, happily reached in to make a grab for it, and came back with a used condom… I was like his every sense was attacking him all at once, clambering to be the first to inform him of exactly what had been going on here just moments before.
Sherlock took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and tried to clear his mind.
Then it occurred to him that the part of the condom he was still holding was tacky with the left over vaginal fluids of F—
He flung the thing away from himself with a manly yelp and tried not to get sick. Skin crawling, Sherlock wiped his hand on John’s duvet (a safe distance from where the thing landed when he threw it) and leaned back uneasily against the dresser.
Sherlock always knew, on some level, that his—friend? would be having semi-regular sex with his girlfriends, but before he hadn’t really known, and now he felt like he was caught between screaming, crying, and punching someone in the face. Preferably Fucktard. Or whomever she was.
But some part of Sherlock wanted to hit John. For what? Not being asexual? Or abstinent? Or—Nope, not going there. Definitely not struggling to suppress any scarring mental images either, thanks.
Sherlock stewed in his conflicting emotions for many moments, just staring at it, until he heard footsteps on the stairs and John calling his name. Face flushed and twisted with anger and retribution, Sherlock called back to his flatmate, keeping his voice light. He quickly schooled his features into a look of innocent curiosity.
“John? I’m up here…”
John followed Sherlock’s voice and popped his head into the bedroom. “Sherlock? What’s…” He paused in the doorway blinking. “What’re you doing in my room?”
And then he spotted something lying in the middle of the floor. John’s face went white.
“Is that… I mean, yes, but is it…? Where did…? Sherlock!”
Sherlock sent John his best sweet, sincere ‘shy smile’ and picked the business card back out of the trash can. “I was looking for this,” he said sheepishly. “Sorry. I know you don’t like me going through your things, but I couldn’t think of anywhere else you might’ve put it, and well, here it was, obviously.”
Sherlock blinked at John in confusion for a moment before following his gaze to the floor. “Oh!” Sherlock said. “You mean that? Yes, it was on top of the card. I don’t know what it is either.” With a shrug, Sherlock started to smooth out the creases in the rumpled card. ”Hmm. Funny that you shouldn’t, though, seeing as it was in your trash can,” he mused, glancing up at John through his eyelashes. Almost challenging.
“Of course I would! And it was in there for a reason, as I’m sure you…”
John trailed off, frowning somewhat. He could’ve sworn he’d just heard Sherlock say that he hadn’t the faintest idea what a condom was, which came as a bit of a surprise. To be fair, John had always figured that the consulting detective didn’t have much a social life outside of his work (and even less of a sex life), but he still remained convinced that the man knew… well, everything, really. He must’ve at least been aware of what the device was, right?
“Wait. You say you… don’t…. know? What it is, I mean.” Surely Sherlock was trying at some sort of joke. He had to be. “Are you joking?”
Sherlock tilted his head to the side like a curious puppy and smiled in a bemused sort of way that seemed to say ’John is being silly again.’ “No, of course not,” he said. “I might’ve known at some point, but perhaps I deleted it for being irrelevant to the work? Why, what is it?”
Tongue in cheek, John cocked his head at a slight angle, as if thinking much harder than one might consider necessary about how to proceed. This was just like the whole solar system ordeal, except with less planetary orbits and more… well, awkward.
“Well. It’s… I mean, it’s really used for…”
John frowned. This was even harder to explain than he’d originally anticipated. Surely the consulting detective had been forced to sit through some sort of sex education while still in grade school? And even then, it didn’t seem like the same sort of knowledge that one can simply find no use of and, in turn, ‘delete’.
After an uncomfortable pause, John finally paced over to his bed and sat down upon it, staring off at the wall blankly and folding his hands in his lap. “It’s like… You know how when two people are in love - or at least together, as I don’t suppose ‘love’ necessarily has to have anything to do with it, as a rule… Well.” He glanced up at Sherlock uneasily, waiting for him to chime in with some kind of affirmation. Preferably that of the man suddenly catching on and, as such, causing there to be no further need for John’s half-assed explanation.
John took another breath and continued, “In any case, I’m sure that you’re well are that those two people will, provided they have at least a little chemistry together, choose to… do certain things together, having… advanced to that next step. In their relationship, that is. Theoretically.” The ex-army doctor chewed on the bottom of his lip for a moment, his brows furrowed as he hoped to have gotten his point across. “Y’know, the birds and the bees. It’s used for that.”
Sherlock widened his eyes and pulled his brows together. “‘Love’?” he parroted, innocently confused. “‘Do things’? That’s not very specific, John.” Sherlock had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from cracking up. “Well,” he said, knowingly, “I often practice chemistry in the kitchen while you are cooking or eating. Do you mean ‘do things’ like… how we go out together and often solve crimes? Or—?” He trailed off with a frown. “So… birds and bees. Wh—I don’t… What does this have to do with birdwatching or beekeeping, John?” Sherlock demanded. “I do not understand what you are trying to say.”
“Birdwatching and bee-“
John stood up again, beginning to grow a bit annoyed. “Do you really not have the slightest idea what that’s referring to? It’s people, Sherlock! People getting together and doing grown-up things and probably at some point when they think they’re absolutely ready to take on that kind of commitment making more little people!”
The man shot at accusing finger at the thing in question, still lying on the floor innocently. “And that - that is what is used to keep the little people from coming before the other people are ready for them!”
Sherlock stared blankly at John.
“John, I do not see what dwarfs have to do with this.” He braced himself and bent to pick up the condom by the rim. “If you aren’t going to tell me, I’ll just deduce it for mys—whoa, what is this liquid?” Fascinated, Sherlock poked the end of the condom just to watch it slosh a bit.
“Latex. Vague cylindrical shape. Bright pink coloring. And…” Sherlock cupped his hand around the back of it and squinted. “Yes, glow-in-the-dark, just as I thought. Very stretchy. Is this a type of balloon one makes balloon animals out of for children?” Sherlock asked. He poked the end again. “Hmm. No. Waterproof. Waterballoons? Except filled with… milk?” Sherlock gave John a skeptical look. “How is a waterballoon fight with milk even fun? That just seems like a waste, John.”
Finally John snapped. He had had about enough of dancing circles around the topic, whether that was what Sherlock had intended on him doing or not. “No, Sherlock! That is most definitely NOT what this is about! If you want to know so bad, just Google it or something!” In a temper now, John came at Sherlock and swiped the condom from his hands. “And stop touching the bloody thing, while you’re at it! You weren’t supposed to even see it in the first place, much less bring it into conversation, as if it were hardly a big deal!”
John getting all red and flustered was hilariously adorable, and Sherlock barked out a laugh before he could stop himself. He clapped both hands over his mouth in horror, thought better of it because of what he’d just been touching, and wiped his hand on John’s shirt. Might as well, now that the jig was up. “I like how you oh-so-casually accept that I don’t know anything at all about sex,” Sherlock said. “I love you, please don’t punch me?”
John was at a loss for words. He couldn’t decide whether he was more annoyed by his flatmate’s immaturity or furious that he’d be enough of an ass to embarrass John like that. He stood in silence for a moment with a dead-serious glare upon his face.
“You mean to tell me…” John began, hissing out the words slowly, “that that entire time you were just JOKING AROUND?” John flung the condom back into the trash bin from whence it came and placed his hands onto his hips, frowning. “I don’t believe you.”
John continued to bit of his lower lip for a while, avoiding Sherlock’s eyes. “God,” he muttered under his breath. “I really am an idiot.”
Sherlock wrung his hands and looked at his shoes. Oh. It seemed John didn’t find the circumstances quite as funny as he did. Well it made sense, didn’t it? John couldn’t see his own face when he got angry. Couldn’t see it get all intense and dangerous and
sexyand… Nevermind. Right. Yes.
“I’m—sorry, John,” Sherlock struggled. “You’re not an idiot, I just… I really thought—” He grimaced and looked up at the ceiling. The ceiling didn’t make him feel so guilty. “It’s just… a pink, glow-in-the-dark condom, John. How could I not?”
John pursed his lips together, trying to keep from smiling. “They’re… not all pink. You know.” He looked back towards Sherlock, having already calmed down some. “And what was that about a water balloon, anyway? You don’t think someone would actually…“ He trailed off, not sure where he was going with this most recent train of thought.
Sherlock’s eyes lit up. “Wh—You have other colors?” He held in a gasp by biting his lip. “John, in my career as a consulting detective, I have met many strange people. You would be surprised how many professional clowns I know. Another type of person I seem to constantly run into and end up getting favors from is the throw-condoms-at-the-gay-pride-parade man. I wound up with a lot of free condoms in university, and I was bored so easily back then that I was forced to experiment frequently to amuse myself, and—” Sherlock cleared his throat and flushed a little. “Well. I mean, it’s not like I had any other use for them. So, let’s just say that according to my extremely extensive research, condoms make excellent water balloons.”