That Certain Night

I had a difficult wading through the dense universe that is fan fiction. This is what I came up with (source: http://archiveofourown.org/works/285113):

The narrow street on which John lived was dark and silent. John and Sherlock had walked the remaining half a mile to John’s flat together, Sherlock informing John about the science of deduction and how he applied it to the solving of crimes for his work. John had been an attentive and eager listener, only occasionally interjecting with the odd ‘brilliant!’ and ‘but that’s marvellous!’

The two men came to a stop outside a front door that looked as though it could do with a good lick of paint.

‘Chez Watson?’ Sherlock asked, drawing himself up.

‘Ah… yes,’ John said with a nod. ‘I– this has… uh…’ he trailed off and grabbed the back of his neck. ‘Listen, how about that light? And a cup of tea, maybe?’

‘Tea?’ Sherlock said, rocking up onto his tiptoes, his eyebrows lifting. ‘Alright then.’

John grinned and opened the front door. ‘You’ll have to excuse the mess, I’m afraid,’ he said as they both stepped into the dingy hallway. ‘My work doesn’t leave much time for keeping house.’

‘That’s quite alright, John, neither does mine,’ Sherlock said, following John up the wooden stairs. ‘I’m positive I shall feel right at home.’

John laughed quietly as he unlocked the door to his own flat. ‘Um, let me take your coat?’ he said, taking in a surprised breath when he turned to face Sherlock and found him much closer than was usually considered decent.

‘Thank you, John,’ Sherlock said, removing his gloves and scarf, putting them in one of his huge pockets. He maintained his proximity as he took his hat off and handed his heavy coat off to John. Underneath, he wore a sharp three-piece suit with a light tweed pattern in dark grey, a plum-coloured tie fastened around his neck. The top couple of buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a long white neck that was almost too long. John’s eyes flickered over Sherlock’s skin before he came to himself.

‘Right,’ he muttered, hanging Sherlock’s coat and hat and then his own, taking his suit jacket off so he was just in his practical brown waistcoat and shirt. He unfastened his cuffs and rolled his sleeves up. ‘I’ll go and see to the tea, you…’ he turned around and noticed that Sherlock had disappeared from the tiny hallway and was seated at one end of the lumpy sofa, his legs elegantly crossed, his smirk still in place. ‘…make yourself at home,’ he finished lamely.

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2 thoughts on “That Certain Night

  1. John’s uneasiness and befuddlement at Sherlock’s actions enhances the sexual tension of the scene. John seems to be trying to maintain the traditional, proper and societally correct gender roles. Finding the Sherlock stands closer to him than would be ‘considered decent’ yet his eyes betray him as he cannot help but linger on Sherlock’s bare skin breaking out of the gender role he is performing.
    The detailed descriptions of Sherlock’s appearance help to defined the masculine role that he is playing in this story. He’s tailored suit and careful unbuttoned top buttons revealing his skin convey a particular masculinity. The suit and tie project confidence and professionalism while the buttons add a sexual element. All of Sherlocks actions appear to be purposeful to create the sexual tension in the scene. The smirk he wears makes is seem all the more purposeful as though he is perfectly aware of the situation at hand. And although he is aware, or even creating the tension he plays along as though it were not there. He confidence and assertiveness are linked traditionally to manliness as Doty remarks yet he is using these traits on another man.
    Additionally the scene begins as most romantic dates end, being invited up for a drink in one person’s apartment. This furthers, with the reader, the idea that there is something more going on than to men simply hanging out one not with no additional connotations although those may be the roles that they are playing.

  2. What first struck me about this post is that I don’t think it would be much altered if either Sherlock or John were a woman and the encounter were heterosexual. What first struck me about this post is that I don’t think it would be much altered if either Sherlock or John were a woman and the encounter was therefore heterosexual. This may perhaps be based on the fact that neither man appears to be the dominant one in the relationship. Although John invites Sherlock into his apartment (which would traditionally be viewed a romantic or sexual advance), Sherlock both stands suggestively close to John and wanders off in the apartment. In many ways, what is striking about the encounter is that it is not striking. Despite the fact that this is (probably) the precursor to a gay love scene, it reads no differently than would a heterosexual narrative of the same type. The same awkwardness that one would expect in a first heterosexual meeting of this kind (the strained invitation upstairs, the hesitation in answering, the excuse for having an unkempt apartment, etc.) is present and seemingly unaltered here. However, because neither John or Sherlock appears as dominant or in any way apart from norms of masculinity the relationship is still clearly gay and in no way appeals to heteronormative organizations of queer relationships (i.e. butch/femme in lesbian relationships). In this way, the passage mirrors the supposition that gender and sexuality are discreet boxes that function independently. It shows that in order to be male and queer, one does not have to appear effeminate.
    Additionally, this passage does not appear out of the ordinary for something that might reasonably occur within the TV show. Granted that I have only seen the first episode, from what I have gathered about the show scenes that are laced with this sort of sexual tension between John and Sherlock are not uncommon. Further, if one looks only at the dialogue and actions of the characters, there is nothing overtly sexual. However, it is clear that sexual tension exists between the two men as an undercurrent (Sherlock standing too close to John, John noticing Sherlock’s neck, etc). In this way, the passage does not simply construct queerness and inject it into the scene, but rather reads queerness that already exists within it. This demonstrates Doty’s argument that queer readings “result from the recognition and articulation of the complex range of queerness that has been in popular culture texts and their audiences all along” (345). Although this scene is not actually in the show, the fact that it is believable stems from queerness that is latent within “Sherlock” itself. The passage merely capitalizes on the queerness inherent to the characters of John and Sherlock.

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