The progression of Sherlock and John relationship, ending in marriage, in Seven Parts
1) The story of how John and Sherlock met is now so famous it has entered living mythology. But the version is entirely from John’s POV, not Sherlock’s. This leads to the question: what was Sherlock thinking when he first saw John? Did he notice John was … well, you know, but didn’t mention it? If so, why would Sherlock refrain from mentioning it?
Sherlock is unforthcoming on the subject and John doesn’t know. There are clues, of course, and here is the one John revisits a lot: Sherlock nosed into John’s medication the day after the A Study in Pink case’s conclusion, and asked rather incredulously why she was taking hormones. John, feeling miffed, told him it was because she didn’t have functioning ovaries.
A soft ‘Oh’ was all Sherlock uttered in reply, and he never brought up the matter again.
Make of that what you will.
2) It is unfortunate no one asks Sherlock when he first considered John as a life partner because he doesn’t mind answering.
He became conscious of the idea between the taxi-driver case and the Chinese Acrobat case (John calls them A Study in Pink and Blind Banker, respectively). You may recall someone had requested Sherlock to look for a missing diamond and John had done to the shops. Before heading out, John had asked Sherlock how long he needed to be alone and what kind of brain food he wanted.
This wasn’t the first time Sherlock and John had had this sort of exchange. The first time it had happened, Sherlock was so taken aback he was silent for two whole seconds. Eventually, Sherlock answered he didn’t eat during a case as digestion slowed him down.
John replied she understood the fasting principle but suggested to Sherlock he do what marathoners do and eat small portions high-carb low-fiber foods so the hunger pangs didn’t slow him down either. (On a side note, John worked out a snack Sherlock doesn’t mind nibbling on during cases and doles them out the same way she doles out frank praise at his brilliance.)
Now, if this wasn’t the first time they had this conversation, why did Sherlock think about life-long partnership then? As John left for Tescos after taking Sherlock’s wallet (John: “I said I’d pick stuff up for you, not pay for them.” Sherlock: “Take my card.”), it dawned on Sherlock that they were acting like his parents. They lightly bicker, share finances and a home, and have a symbiotic relationship that mutually uplifts the other.
Sherlock got attacked by a robed assassin shortly afterward, so he didn’t get to pursue the thought further. But he does remember wanting the state of affairs to continue indefinitely.
3) Exactly three people in the world know Sherlock and John have roaring fights over clothes. Specifically, Sherlock argues John dresses like a toddler whose parents given up on, and John retorts she dresses just fine, f*** you very much. These fights have been going on since the Blind Banker Case and this is how it started:
You may recall John mentioned she needed to find a job before Sherlock accepted the Blink Banker case. You probably didn’t know John had been preparing for job interviews long before that. Sherlock only registered what John had been up to when she asked him what he thought of her choice of interview clothes.
Sherlock declared the suit was the most shapeless and hideous lump he’d ever seen and deduced John must go through at least ten rounds interviews before landing a position. Offended, John had snarled: then can great fashion guru Sherlock Holmes give her advice.
Sherlock did so, and John declared his suggestions composed of things one would wear to impress someone. Sherlock asked isn’t that the point and John retorted interviews do not involve that kind of impress, and even if it were, she wouldn’t wear his suggested outfit because she’s got no one to impress.
Sherlock’s first thought after John said that was: why don’t you want to impress me?
By the way, Sherlock advising John over interview clothes was his way of reciprocating John’s consideration for his brainwork. And inevitably botched the delivery.
4) John doesn’t abruptly fall asleep as much as she used to, but it’s a problem that still terrifies Sherlock. The manner in which he discovered the problem doesn’t help matters.
Sherlock thinks he should’ve noticed on the last day of the Chinese Acrobat case, because that is when John first fell stone-cold asleep in his presence. Just before he left the flat to get hold of London A to Z. Just before the Chinese Mafia member came knocking.
Instead, he discovered it after the case. Sherlock won’t say why, but he had thought to check up on John mid-morning.
(He knows why; John followed a clock-like schedule, and sleeping in wasn’t something she indulged in. She should’ve been puttering about in the kitchen at the time.)
He found John sleeping and thought it odd. Then he realized John wasn’t waking up.
Sherlock called for an ambulance. The EMT that came treated him like he was John’s concerned boyfriend. Sherlock didn’t correct them.
John was asleep for five solid days. When she woke up, John was bemused at the fact Sherlock was present. Her blasé attitude towards the coma compelled Sherlock to ask if she expected it, and John told him it happens. This led Sherlock to demand why the hell she didn’t tell him about it.
John just blinked at him.
Sherlock left the room after several seconds of staring. They both knew it hadn’t occurred to John tell him because she didn’t think he’d care. In all honesty, Sherlock couldn’t say he would’ve until then.
But one thing he would have said for sure: the incident solidified the idea that had occurred to him before he went to see Sebastian Wilkies.
5) Before going any further, one must address Irene Adler. Namely, what is Adler to Sherlock?
John is being perfectly honest when she says in Sherlock’s mind Adler is The Woman. This does not mean John is right. And that doesn’t mean the sentiment is wrong.
It is true Adler is the only woman who had beaten him. But the problem with this interpretation is: didn’t Sherlock beat Adler in the end?
Yes and no. Sherlock definitely won the last round by decoding Adler’s phone’s passcode. But the second round, the part when Irene dupes him into deciphering the secret code, John is the undisputed victor.
Lo, here is how it transpired:
John had invited Ellen and Co. to the 221B Christmas party. After the debacle, Ellen asked John what Sherlock was to her. John blurted friend, and Ellen said she didn’t act like it. Startled, John asked how did she act like.
Ellen was unable to articulate except to keep on repeating: “I don’t know … you do this-this and a friend doesn’t … do you know what I mean?” At long last, Jacqueline managed to piece together enough of Ellen’s incoherent rambles to ask:
“If you are not together, then why are you treating Sherlock like a husband?”
That disturbed John more than words. Afterward, John determinately acted like a friend. The distance allowed her to realize Sherlock was so new to the feeling attraction that he didn’t know how to handle it. Therefore didn’t recognize what Irene was doing to him. So when Sherlock deciphered the code, John watched Irene carefully. Sure enough, John saw her typing a text.
John promptly broke her wrist, took away the phone and told Sherlock what she’s doing: make the guy feel like they’re special and then tell all the girls how she completely duped him.
Sherlock asked John how she figured it out.
John simply said: I’m a woman too.
That was when Sherlock drew several conclusions. One: Contrary to his previous convictions, he is capable of feeling attraction. Two: unlike the unthinking masses, he cannot let his heart overrule his mind—Adler, case in point. Three: Attraction—caring about someone else—is not a bad thing when the recipient is John.
Sherlock thus concluded John is the only woman for him (he will insist this is simple logic). He knows Irene knew this from the beginning and is grateful that she made him know this. This is why she is the Woman.
6) The Baskerville Hound case does not, on the surface, seem to have much relevance to the progress, but it does. Sherlock did something for that case he regrets more than the swimming-pool encounter. More than overlooking John’s mysterious sleeping ailment.
Remember the experiment he did on John at Baskerville? John didn’t see the hound after inhaling the gas. She had a flashback of Iraq.
You know what happened to John in Iraq.
7) Sherlock and John’s relationship hit an impasse of sorts after the Baskerville case.
Sherlock didn’t know what to do with the fact he wants permanence and exclusivity (he couldn’t bring himself to use the word ‘love’, even in his own head). Mind you, Sherlock never struggled against the idea of liking John (why else would he introduce John as ‘friend’ to Sebastian?). His struggle was mostly: now what?
On John’s part, it didn’t occur to her that there existed a possibility her … whatever with Sherlock could progress to more. Because at that point, she was too busy preparing for her death. John, like Sherlock, had noticed how she was ‘falling asleep’ longer and more frequently. Thus John grimly concluded one day she will fall asleep and never wake up.
The two of them never discussed the issue because, c’mon, communication is for pansies. They simply went on as usual—Sherlock solved a lot of cases and John blogged about them.
8) It is best for Lestrade to explain the Reichenbach Fall case.
Please stay tuned…