Harry shoves them into his hands, nearly toppling over of laughter.
They are soft, easily stretchable, double knitted in all the right places, a cut he would definitely never wear and last, but not least, bright red.
He seriously thinks about slapping her. Never mind she is a girl. Never mind she is his sister. He is going to-
“Don’t pull that face, Johnny! That’s like reason number hundred and one she left you after only a month!”
Harry is still laughing so hard she has to hold on to his should for support. He fists his hands into the, really very soft, but red, damn it, material. The rest of his wardrobe would run away screaming.
“The first is, and you know I’m right, the fact that you are such a bore sometimes! Thus …”, she pokes at the crumpled lump in his hands,”… RED PANTS!”
She snorts and he rolls his eyes.
“No girl will ever reject you when she gets to see those! At least if you finally let any get to your pan-”
He growls and pushes her away softly. He is allowed to do that. Really. He is only eighteen, no need to rush, he has plenty of time. Also, at eighteen he is still allowed to storm of without a reason. He does just that.
The first girl that peels of his trousers is greeted by a bright flash of red.
She grins and kisses him even harder.
They don’t get on anything that night. Hearing the voice of your sister ghost through your head every time you look at your crotch isn’t exactly good for your love life.
He is wearing his bright red pants when he takes his first exam at collage.
He is only aware of that fact because he gets totally wasted after that and a photo of him, dancing in said red pants, and only said red pants, ends up on the notice-board of his dormitory.
He passes the exam and ends up labeling them his lucky pants.
When he packs for his deployment to Afghanistan his red pants end up in his bag without a second thought.
Unpacking them in front of his new found comrades makes his face turn the same color as the fabric in his hands, but eventually ends up with everyone giggling away the tension of their journey.
He writes to Harry the next day, thanking her for this bright red spot in the middle of the dessert.
As John stumbles into the shower after his first tour gone wrong, he can’t make out his red pants under all the blood the soldier whose life he tried to save left on his uniform. It’s not like he cares.
At the moment he can’t breathe, can’t feel anything beyond the water streaming down on his skin. Being there to save lives doesn’t make the horror of the overall experience any easier. It just makes you feel more like a failure seeing people die every day.
The next day, while he is trying to get the blood stains out as good as possible, they tell him that the soldier he stitched up yesterday made it and is now safely on his way home.
He stares down on the stretchy, double knitted, red fabric in his hands and weeps for the first time since his deployment.
John is absolutely sure he is going to die as his whole world is reduced to the gleaming pain in his shoulder and the hot rough sand underneath him.
But due to some sort of miracle he wakes up in hospital.
Alive, breathing, useless.
He takes a shuddering breath and tries to reassure himself that this isn’t going to be the end, that this is in fact not worse than death.
Not even the red pants they hand him, symbolizing the remnants of his uniform, can raise his hopes.
He buries them in the depths of his closet as soon as he unpacks in London. Red is just a horrible color to go with depression.
John blames it on the broken washing machine when he has to put on his red pants after what seems like a decade. But he is a cleanly person so wearing the same underwear two days in a row is a no go, as is running around without any at all.
That day, he meets Sherlock Holmes.
When he moves into 221b Baker Street the red pants make front row in his closet.
He wears them so often now that the red faints slowly and he has to hem them twice after particularly rough chases. He loves them even more.
John staggers into his room, drunk on grief, high on helplessness.
He knows he as to stay upright, there is a routine to follow, a battle to fight. It is pitch black outside, but he doesn’t even notice, he is not sure if he is tired because its night time or because of the breathtaking course of the day.
He manages to take of his shirt, but his hands are shaking as he undoes the fly of his jeans. He struggles out of them while stumbling onto his bed.
There is no need to turn on the light to know that the last part of his clothing is bright red. The fabric is familiar like an old friend.
He can’t get out of them fast enough.
It feels like they are mocking him, the way they feel familiar as he rips them off, every little memory that ghost trough his head as they stretch in his fists, the way they gleam red in the street lights, like blood on pavement.
With a startled scream he stashes them into the corner of his closet, unable to look at something supposed to symbolize happiness, but not capable of letting go of something that has once been so dear to him.
He stumbles to bed, lost and naked and he doesn’t sleep.
He doesn’t sleep for many nights after that.
And he doesn’t take the red pants with him as he moves out.
All his underwear is black.
When he meets Mary, his underwear is still black, but she wants to get into his pants never the less.
It’s two and a half years after he left his red pants behind and it’s while he is shopping with Mary. She intends it as a joke, wants to laugh with him about the lack of color in his wardrobe, as she presents him with a collection of colorful pants. One of them is bright red.
He takes a shuddering breath and feels the pain in his leg flare up, but she looks at him expectantly, not at all knowing what this does to him.
It’s been two and a half years. He is very likely going to marry this woman. He is very much likely to move on.
So he smiles and agrees on buying them.
Two and a half years. This is moving on. This is another bright red chapter of his life.
He doesn’t wear them for a very long time.
When it happens, the red pants have become a common pair of underwear, no memories or feelings attached, only a piece of cloth.
So he has no idea he is wearing them, as he finds himself in the middle of a completely mad game, with a very high price.
He isn’t aware of them as he runs, not as he screams, fights or as he feels alive for the first time in years.
And frankly, he wouldn’t give a damn, not in this one particular night.
It’s the night Sherlock Holmes returns.
After that it takes ages, almost a year, it takes screaming accusations, silent hurt and whispers promises.
It’s not an easy road, but then, in the end, it takes them back to 221B, takes them up seventeen steps and makes them tumble into Sherlock’s bed.
They can’t grin enough as they rip of every barrier that’s left between them. They don’t care that their shirts fly in different directions, or that John’s impatient hands leave Sherlock’s skin bruised around his hips. The feeling of their lips against each other closes all the distance that was left between them. They don’t even stop as they scramble out of their trousers clumsily.
What does stop them though, what does stop John, is the bright red spot shining prominent against Sherlock’s marble skin.
For a moment the only thing that comes out of his parted lips are ragged breathes.
“Those are … Sherlock …”
The doctors fingers tremble over Shelock’s hips until they find the stretchy, worn and bright red fabric.
“… those are mine.”
It’s only a mumble and then his voice breaks completely before he can get out anything else. His breath hitches as Sherlock draws him closer, mimics his touch until he reaches Johns hips and pulls him up gently.
“So are you.”
Sherlock whispers against his lips.
“You are mine.”
John echoes as their lips meet again and two bright red pants find their way to the bedroom floor.
It becomes their private joke, and their own silent promise, to wear them on every anniversary.
Happy one year anniversary :D