The round robin continued, and for John, the days began to blur together. They played a match every day, attended a number of the women's matches, ate their meals, watched other events when they could get the telly in the apartment to work, and did a fairly large amount of drinking. Sherlock didn't need any persuading after the first evening, and John was pleasantly surprised when they ended up sitting next to one another in the club again, and again, and … was this happening every time? It occurred to him that he could make an effort to not sit next to Sherlock and see if it was just him, but he also realized that he really didn't care why it was happening, so long as it kept up. He did his best to not let on regarding his crush, and it seemed to be working – Sherlock wasn't acting awkwardly around him, which John was sure he would if he had any idea that John was completely smitten with him. And it wasn't affecting his game – if anything, he was playing even better, focussing harder in an effort to make his skip proud.
John woke late one night, and it took him a long, groggy minute to work out why. Sherlock was talking in his sleep again, but it had a different quality to it. Although the words were indistinct, it soon became apparent to John that Sherlock was not just having a pleasant dream, but was in the throes of passion.
John rolled away and curled into a ball, trying very hard to ignore his roommate's breathy mumbles and the gentle creaking of the bed frame. It went on for a few endless minutes until Sherlock gasped, and then went oddly still.
John froze, listening as Sherlock kicked the blankets back and sat up. There was silence for a moment, then footsteps, a rustle of cloth, and the door opened and closed.
John took a deep breath and rolled onto his back, desperately trying to convince himself that that wasn't the hottest thing he'd been witness to in quite some time. He palmed his erection through his pants, stifled a groan, and rolled over. There was no way he could do anything about that, not without revealing his completely inappropriate crush. Luckily his army experience meant he had plenty of experience with not doing anything about it, and he focussed on steadying his breathing until he drifted off again.
Sherlock cleaned himself up, then hid in the bathroom for as long as he could without admitting that he was hiding. Sex dreams were nothing to be ashamed of. They were probably something of a given, for people who weren't him. And John was sure to understand, right? These things just … happened. Maybe John wouldn't even remember it in the morning, if he fell back asleep fast enough.
And if he was very lucky, he hadn't actually said John's name out loud when he came.
The final day of the round robin arrived when even Sherlock had begun to lose track of what day it was, between the long matches, the nightly celebration, and the close quarters they kept with the rest of the world's athletes. Team Holmes had an afternoon match against China, and they played well but lost by a single point, scored in the tenth end with a well-placed final stone from the Chinese skip. Sherlock was exhausted enough that he didn't find himself tremendously disappointed; they had played well, if not perfectly, and their record was good enough that they had one more chance to make it into the semifinal.
Their tie-break would be the next morning, against Norway. They'd lost to Team Ulsrud in the tenth round, again by only one point. Sherlock had already dissected that match with Greg and Soren, and they knew the Norwegian team's strengths and weaknesses, so all that remained was to implement the strategy, win the match, and find their way onto the podium. Easy, as far as these things went.
The difficult part, Sherlock knew, would be keeping his mind from tearing itself apart in anticipation of the match. He wasn't sure that he could face spending the evening with John. As much as he loved – really truly loved – spending every evening being vaguely flirted at by his very attractive second, he had a nagging sense that his little crush was about to bloom into something much bigger, and he was very eager to avoid that. He was annoyed that he'd allowed himself to believe, even a little, that John had any interest in him. The most likely explanation for the pervasive mood was that John was a natural flirt, and Sherlock was being hit with it simply by being present while John was socialising with so many attractive young women. Never mind that they were all far too young for him; things like that never seemed to be a real barrier. Eve stayed fairly aloof but the other girls definitely encouraged all the attention they were getting.
After they talked to the press Sherlock followed his team to the cafeteria, but took a sandwich to go and returned to the Ice Cube in time for Team Muirhead's final round robin match against Denmark. It was engrossing enough to distract him from his own tournament, and thankfully fairly low stress. Their record was good enough that they were guaranteed a spot in the semis, so the results of the evening's matches would determine their placement. Other teams might have relaxed a little, knowing that they were through, but not Eve and her girls. Sherlock liked that about them, and it made the match more interesting for the spectators.
Although Denmark stole the first end, Team Muirhead came back strongly and played very well until the tenth, when something seemed to fall apart. Sherlock watched, enthralled, while Denmark finished with three stones in the house to tie the match at seven each and take them into the eleventh. Eve had the hammer but was clearly shaken by the comeback, and a couple of costly errors allowed Denmark to steal a single point and win the match.
Sherlock collected his things slowly, watching while the teams wrapped up and spoke to the reporters. Eve noticed him while her girls were talking to the camera, and her displeased expression deepened into a bitter glare. He held her gaze until the interviewer addressed her, and she looked away.
She followed him back to the house, and cornered him at the bottom of the stairs. “You saw,” she growled.
“Of course I saw,” he said coolly. “Would you like an itemised list?”
She shoved him against the wall, and he sucked in a surprised breath. She pressed against him and breathed in his ear. “This is what's going to happen, Sherlock. You are going to come to my room, and you are going to fuck me through the mattress, and while you do it you are going to tell me every thing I did wrong in that match.”
Sherlock closed his eyes, biting down on both his arousal and a niggling sense of guilt. “Your first mistake was having granola for breakfast.”
She kissed him then, hard and fast, and he let himself get lost in the sensation for half a second before he seized her by the wrist and they hurried up to the apartment. Eve ushered him into her bedroom, and started stripping without even closing the door. Sherlock stared until she looked up at him. “Well? What was wrong with my breakfast?”
He blinked, leaving behind the other things that threatened to command his attention. “The granola here is full of sugar, and you didn't put any nuts on it like you normally do. That meant that your blood sugar dropped during your morning match.”
She pulled her shirt off. “We won the morning match. And you weren't there.”
“Eve, please. I don't need to have been there. I can read it in your behaviour later in the day.”
She unhooked her bra, hung it on the doorknob, and pushed the door shut. “Okay, so I was a little off in the morning. How did that affect the evening match?”
He looked at her breasts, and felt a sense of discomfort. When they'd done this in the past, he had always managed to perform, thanks to the fact that his arousal reflex worked even if he wasn't really attracted to his partner. It also helped that Eve knew how to cater to his love of analysis. But tonight he was uneasy, and he knew it was because he finally knew whose body he did want, and there was no way to mistake it for Eve's.
He gave himself a little shake and focussed. “Everything is connected. Morning performance is an indicator for evening performance.”
She stepped up to him and unbuttoned his jacket, then pushed it off his shoulders while she pressed herself against his front. “So my first mistake was granola. What was my second mistake?”
John went with the other guys to the club after dinner, but without Sherlock and the girls, and with the looming spectre of their important match the next morning, none of them found they were really enjoying themselves. He checked his phone with greater and greater frequency, until it told him that the women's match had finished. They finished their drinks and went back to the apartment, arriving apparently just after the women returned.
Claire and Vicki were in chatting in their room, but Anna had dropped her bag in front of a closed door that was adorned with a bra, then kicked her trainers off and got comfortable on a couch. She turned to greet John when he came in, and laughed at his confused expression.
“I've been sexiled,” she explained. “Eve was pissed that we lost, so she's having an angry shag with your skip.”
As if on cue, there was a dull thump from the room, and John could make out Sherlock's baritone. His heart stopped. He hadn't dared to hope that he could ever actually be with Sherlock, but he had got used to him at least being single. Hearing real evidence that Eve had what he so desperately wanted was horrifying and totally unexpected.
He stood with his mouth open for a long moment before he could make his voice work. “So Eve and Sherlock are … together?”
Anna chuckled a little. “No, not really. They have a ... thing.”
“What's the difference between being together and having a thing?”
“As I understand it, there's no romance. They're friends who fuck sometimes.”
“I don't think they don't even really fancy each other,” Vicki added, coming back into the lounge with Claire. “Eve's type is much more burly. She complains sometimes about how skinny Sherlock is.”
“And Sherlock? Does he fancy her?” John tried to keep his tone casual.
Vicki laughed at that. “I'm not sure he's ever actually fancied anyone. Certainly not a girl, anyway.”
John's eyes widened, and he tried not to hope. “He's gay?”
“He only cares about curling,” Claire said. “The world has to be practically ending for him to do anything else. Like, last August he missed a practice, and Eve said when she asked him about it, he told her he was in London assisting a murder investigation.”
“The weirdest thing about that is I think I believe him,” Vicki said. “He never lies about anything, and he would never miss training unless it was for something really important.”
That was enough of a surprise for John to temporarily forget his heartbreak. “How would he assist a murder investigation? Was he a suspect? Or a witness?”
Vicki shrugged. “I really can't see him being either. We may never know, I guess.”
“Maybe he's a detective,” Anna suggested. “He's so analytical, I could see him piecing together a crime like he does a curling match.”
Claire scoffed. “Like he'd ever be so public-spirited.”
John bristled at that. “He's not a psychopath.”
“No, he's just self-centred.”
“He's really not that bad.”
She shrugged. “If you say so.”
They turned the telly on, and after a brief battle with it they managed to find some Olympic coverage. John thought about arguing with them about Sherlock's character, but eventually realized that pursuing the subject would mean showing his hand much more than he was prepared to.
About fifteen minutes later, Eve's door opened. She was wearing pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt, and gave a nod and a coy smile to her teammates before she disappeared into the bathroom. After a moment, Sherlock appeared too, wearing his normal shirt and jacket with jeans and looking rather rumpled. John hid his face to try to assuage the ache in his chest, and he heard Sherlock quickly cross the apartment and disappear into his bedroom.
“See?” Claire said to Vicki. “Definitely not the behaviour of a man who's into her.”
“So why does he do it?”
“Fuck if I know.”
The violin started, playing a quiet discordant melody. John felt himself turning red, and sank deeper into the couch, focussing as hard as he could on the television and silently praying that none of his other teammates noticed that he was taking this very strangely.
John stayed up much longer than he wanted to, long after everyone else had gone to bed. He had drifted off on the couch several times and his back was starting to seize, so he knew he had to get into his own bed. He switched off all the lights, and then slowly opened the door to his room. In the low light he could make out Sherlock, asleep in his own bed and breathing gently. With a sigh of tentative relief, he stepped into the room, got changed, and was out nearly as soon as he hit the pillow.