It was break on the first day of their last year of secondary school, and Sherlock was acting even more strangely than usual. As soon as they were outside, he grabbed John’s arm and dragged him bodily over behind a clump of bushes. By now, Sherlock was a good foot taller than John, even though he was four years younger. John looked askance at Sherlock and glanced regretfully back at Molly, who was looking rather stunned. “Sherlock, what are you doing?” he hissed. Sherlock looked around, as if checking to see if anyone was listening in. “Sherlock, no one can see or hear us back here. What do you want?”
“John, I don’t think you should keep seeing Molly Hooper,” he said finally. John was flabbergasted. Sherlock had dragged him all the way over here just to say that?
“What?” he said indignantly. “What do you mean? We’ve been going out for three years! I can’t just jilt her now for no reason. Besides, I really like her. What are you talking about, Sherlock?”
“John, she’s not your type,” Sherlock started. John cut him off.
“Not my type,” he said scornfully. “So I’m just supposed to go over to her and say, ‘Sorry Molly, I can’t see you any more, Sherlock says you’re not my type.’ Can you imagine what she’ll think then? She’ll think I’m the same way as Harry, or, or Mycroft!” Sherlock flinched at the sound of Mycroft’s name, and John immediately felt bad. “Sorry, Sherlock,” he said. “I didn’t mean to remind you of something…” Sherlock shrugged. “It’s nothing,” he muttered. There was an awkward silence as John waited and Sherlock twitched anxiously.
“Look, John,” Sherlock said finally. “She’s not right for you. You like her, but you don’t love her. I think there’s only one person you love, but you’re afraid of what that means. What you don’t know is that they love you back, and every moment they see you with someone who doesn’t fit you their heart breaks, partly because they want to be the one with you, but partly because they don’t want you to spend the rest of your life chasing after her or someone else that doesn’t fit you and never will.” Sherlock took a deep breath, and John stared at him. Emotions were running through his head like an out-of-control bullet train. “What do you mean?” John said quietly. “Who are you talking about?” Sherlock ran his hands through his curls and tugged slightly. He looked worried and angry, and his face was turning bright red. “It’s me,” he said, even more quietly. John froze. “What?” he said, his voice low and tense. “I said it’s me,” Sherlock said, his voice rising slightly and growing faster as he became more frantic. “You love me, John, and I love you. My heart has attached itself to you, and it doesn’t do that for just anyone. It’s never attached to any of my family. The only person I care about and have ever cared about is you, John Watson. I know it scares you to death, and trust me it scares me too, but it’s true and we can’t do anything about it except to accept it and try to keep it healthy. John, don’t look at me like that. I don’t know what to do any more than you do, and I know you care about what other people think, but you know I’m right, deep down you know it’s true. John, just listen to me. And please, help me. We can help each other. We can make this work, because it’s supposed to happen. John, please don’t turn away. I need you, John. I love you.”
John had begun backing away slowly during Sherlock’s speech, and as soon as Sherlock finished he turned and dashed away, past a startled Molly, through a crowd of students, and behind the school. He crawled under a clump of thick bushes and cried. At first he was embarrassed: a 19-year-old boy sitting under a clump of bushes crying. But he couldn’t do anything else. He kept repeating Sherlock’s words in his head. He knew it was true, but he couldn’t accept it. How could he? How could he ever admit to himself, let alone the whole world, that the one person he loved, had loved, and ever could love, was a man? He knew they had been friends from childhood and that their only friends were each other, but love? John buried his face in his arms and felt the red wool of his jumper envelope him.
Sherlock stood frozen behind the bushes, not even noticing the tears that were streaming slowly down his face. What had he done wrong? Why had John run away? He had expected a heated argument, some confusion and anger, and possibly physical harm, but not John turning and fleeing from him as if he were a murderer or a ghost. He rubbed his face with his sleeves irritably and continued staring in the direction of John’s flight. Should he go after him? What would he say? What would John say? He had only discovered this strange truth the day before, and he felt it necessary to share with John, as he did all his observations. Why did it upset John so much? Sherlock stood, puzzled and thinking, behind the bushes, not noticing that his eyes were becoming increasingly red and bloodshot.
When the bell rang for the students to go in from break, John dashed from under his bushes and reached the steps at the exact same moment as Sherlock. Sherlock opened his mouth to say something, but John cut him off abruptly. “I don’t care,” he said harshly. “Go away and leave me alone. I never want to see you again, Sherlock Holmes.” And with that, John pushed his way through the other students and rushed up the stairs. Sherlock stood stock still, the students behind him pushing around him, and let the full force of John’s hateful words sink into his soul. He felt as if they were being branded onto his heart. “I never want to see you again, Sherlock Holmes.” Sherlock stared after the only friend he had and he felt his heart break.