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Tango

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Bored. Bored, bored, bored. Boredboredboredbored.

John Watson could think of several hundred things he would rather be doing than this, most of which includes the sofa and some telly. But Harry had insisted: “You’ve got to get out of the house sometimes, Johnny, it’s not healthy.” And since he was stopping with her – not that he wanted to, but he had a stunning lack of choices right now – he couldn’t not go without coming off as an ungrateful brat of a brother.

But now she and Clara had faffed off somewhere in the huge hall, leaving him sitting by himself at a table, nursing a beer and fiddling with the head of his cane as he watched the crowd of dancers. His table was off in a corner and shadowed, and so far no one had come to try to chat him up. If anyone did, he figured, the music was loud enough for him to feign deafness, which would go well with the cane.

The mass of dancers was strangely hypnotic. He was used to the flailing messiness of a mosh pit or a club floor, but watching the paired off dancers move in patterns while keeping their own beat and individual styles made for… regimented chaos.

He finished his beer and began to calculate the distance to the bar for another, when a figure that seemed to be all arms and legs and expensive suit ran up to him, said, “Quick!” and pulled him to his feet and into the crowd.

The sound of John’s indignant “Hey!” and the clatter of his cane falling to the floor were lost in the din of the music and the throng of people. Before he knew it he was in the middle of the dance floor and Mr. Expensive Suit had an arm around his waist, holding his left arm embarrassingly high, and pressing his cheekbone into his.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” John spluttered.

“Shut up and dance – a man’s alibi depends on it,” growled Sharp Cheekbones.

“What?”

“Move your feet, damn it!”

John tried to move away, but he found himself trapped by an iron grip. “Let me go, asshole, I don’t dance.”

“What the hell are you doing here if you don’t dance?”

“I’m just – my sister and her partner are competing in the dance contest later. I’m just here to watch.”

Surprisingly Strong had not broken their pose – all John could see was curly black hair and a long expanse of neck. “You don’t dance?”

“No. Let go, now.”

“I can’t now, it would draw attention. I need to get closer to the suspect and I needed a dance partner to do it. You were the only one sitting alone.” A long, put-upon sigh. “All right, listen carefully. Step towards me, left foot.”

Crazy Looney stepped back, with one hand pressed to the small of John’s back, and John found himself following. “Now to the side, right foot. Back, back. Hold. Back. To the left. Good. Again. Bend your knees a bit. Good. Just relax, let me lead you.”

John had never done this kind of dancing before but suddenly realized they were gliding nicely across the floor. He seemed to be all right as long as he didn’t think about it too much.

“Good,” Deep Voice murmured in his ear. “That’s the basic ocho. Again… good, now we travel. The suspect’s over there,” Should Eat A Sandwich’s chin nudged John’s jaw to indicate another part of the crowd, “we’ll make our way over. Pivot on your right leg.”

John found himself pulled into a slow circle as he stood on his right leg.

His right leg?

The leg that hadn’t supported his weight without a cane since he’d been shot in Kabul six months ago?

What the hell is happening? John thought.

“Okay, start the ocho again,” Mystery Man said, as they headed off in a different direction. “To your left… and back…”

“What precisely are we doing?” John hissed.

“The man in the blue checked jacket, he’s been accused of money-laundering. I don’t think he did it, but I won’t know for sure until I can observe him. This was the best way to watch him without him knowing.”

“Are you the police?”

Potential Nutter just snorted, which wasn’t reassuring to John at all.

“Okay, I can see him now. Don’t pivot for a while, just the basic ocho.”

A moment passed in silence. John felt distinctly odd, because a) dancing, b) with a complete stranger who may or may not be a psycho, c) with his back to a suspected criminal.

Three repetitions of the ocho later, John was beginning to get the hang of it, and Lanky Git huffed in his ear.

“No, no, no, perhaps it was him. Hands trembling, sweaty even though it’s not too warm in here, tense along the jawline, moving stiffly – guilt, maybe, perhaps an alcohol problem-”

“Let me see,” John said.

“What for?”

“Turn me around and let me see,” John growled, teeth clenched, and shifted his balance to his right foot.

After a second of hesitation, Smart Ass pivoted John a hundred and eighty degrees and John could now see the man in the blue checked jacket.

“Not drunk, not tense,” he said after a moment and two ochos. “Parkinson’s, early onset Parkinson’s disease.”

“What?”

“The trembling hands, that’s an absolutely classic Parkinson’s tremor. The sweating’s pretty normal too. Also some patients develop what’s called a ‘stone face’, less expressive.”

“You’re a doctor.” It was not a question, but a statement of fact.

“Yes. I saw a few cases of PD while I was interning.”

“If he’s got Parkinson’s, how can he dance?”

“It’s like physiotherapy. Sometimes the right music, the right rhythm can bypass the neurological blockage and they can dance really well. One patient told me that the problem was actually stopping.”

For the first time, the man pulled back and John saw his face at last. Eyes of an indefinable colour stared at him, lit up with curiosity, fascination, and –

“Tell me more,” he said – no, purred – with a somewhat mad smile tripping around his face.

John stared back, his mouth suddenly far too dry. “Who are you?” he said, wishing his voice came out a little stronger.

“Sherlock Holmes.”

“John Watson,” John gasped out, and Sherlock pulled him in again and they moved into the rhythm again.  John’s voice went on without him and he found himself babbling about neuro pathways and bradykinesia and micrographia.

When John explained micrographia, Sherlock pulled back again and looked John in the eyes, and traced his right foot in a wide, slow circle around John, then twitched his leg up to rub briefly against John’s hip in a way that was oh-my-God-so-not-twee-at-all. Then he pulled John closer into the nest of his arms and they were chest to chest, hip to hip.

My God, John thought. This is the sexiest damn thing that has ever happened to me.

Thinking this made him half hard, and realizing he was half hard made him fully hard, and he became terribly aware of the press of Sherlock’s thigh against him. He started to stutter an apology when Sherlock shifted again and pressed himself against John’s hip. John felt the rather impressive erection and groaned softly into Sherlock’s neck.

“Indeed,” Sherlock sighed, and then, “pivot to your left.”

John looked to his left and saw the exit sign and smiled against the skin of Sherlock’s neck.

+

Forty five minutes later, Harry and Clara danced the foxtrot for the contest and placed a respectable fourth. John was not in the dancehall for their dance or the presentation of the trophy, but was rather in the back alleyway negotiating a rather different dance.

Half an hour after that Sherlock was unlocking the front door of his flat on Baker Street and he and John barely made it up the stairs.

Two weeks after that, Alastair Smith, the man in the blue checked jacket, was cleared of all charges of money-laundering. A year after that he was admitted to a clinical study of a new Parkinson’s drug and found his symptoms much improved.

A year after that, John and Sherlock placed an even more respectable second place in the men’s tango contest.

Eighteen months after that, they danced the Argentine tango at their wedding reception. The dance caused most of the guests to blush furiously, cough, and refresh their drinks hurriedly. Half of them signed up for ballroom dance lessons within the month.

 

End