It’s an unusually hot day for London and the air conditioner in the pub is having a hard time keeping up.
John is dressed in jeans and a black t shirt, and the officers from the yard have shed their jackets and ties. Even Sherlock has forgone his usual black jacket and rolled up the sleeves on his white dress shirt in deference to the heat. He is perched at a tall bar table nursing a gin and tonic not far from where John, Lestrade, and Anderson are playing darts.
At the bar a rowdy group of young men laugh uproariously. The chief rowdy is a burly gorilla of a man. Sherlock can tell from the number of studs that he is wearing in his ears that he has homoerotic feelings for his friend sitting next to him that he is trying to suppress.
This is exactly the kind of tedious social event that, at one time, Sherlock would have avoided like the plague. He drains his glass and considers going to the bar to get another when a fresh gin and tonic is placed at his elbow. Sherlock glances up and frowns at Donovan.
“Oh, don’t look at me that way, I didn’t poison it,” she snarls.
“Tha-nk yo-ou” Sherlock says and sniffs suspiciously at the drink. He figures it’s unlikely that she would try to poison him with so many witnesses and he takes a cautious sip. Donovan turns to watch the dart game. Lestrade is winning.
At the moment Sherlock has almost everything he could want. Moriarty is finally truly dead. The specter of John’s assassin wife is gone, and most importantly, John is back at 221b.
Sherlock’s relative happiness has come at a brutal cost. John’s wife did not slide into anonymity. Her ties to Moriarty caught up to her at last. She and John’s child paid the ultimate price for that association.
Sherlock estimates it will be another four months before John starts dating again. He doesn’t want to think about how long after that it will be before John finds the next Mrs. Watson and leaves 221b. So Sherlock is at the pub, with people… because he has no idea how long he will have these moments with John, and he wants to savor every one that he has left.
“He’s doing well.” Donovan says, nodding toward John. John takes his shot and laughs. His score is woefully below Lestrade’s.
“What on earth are you talking about, Sally?” Sherlock snaps. “He might as well forfeit the game; he’ll never catch up to Lestrade.”
Donavan’s lips quirk in a not-quite smile. “I’m not talking about the game.” She pauses, and glances at Sherlock. “It’s been what? Four months?”
“Four months, one week and three days.” Sherlock says. “What are you getting at, Donovan?”
Donovan looks at Sherlock and something flits across her eyes that he can’t quite identify, sadness and empathy and determination. They are emotions that Sherlock is not used to seeing on Donovan’s face and he’s waiting for her usual derisive scowl.
It never comes.
She takes a sip of her drink before she speaks again.
“You know, about four months after you died, Lestrade and I ran into John.” She takes another gulp of her drink and continues, “He was a mess, Sherlock.” She looks up at him and meets his eyes. He’s scowling at her, but he says nothing. “He’d lost weight, he wasn’t taking care of himself, he looked fucking haunted.” She looks towards John and Lestrade. They are laughing at Anderson’s abysmal shot. “Greg and I started checking on him after that. We were worried…”
Sherlock straightens his back suddenly. “What are you implying?”
Sally puts her hands up in surrender. “I’m not… I... Sherlock…” She takes a deep breath. “He’s not alone this time…”
“It isn’t like that.” Sherlock grits out. “He isn’t… We’re not…” He swallows. He doesn’t want to think about this, doesn’t want to acknowledge it out loud. “We’re not a couple.” His voice is far more raw than he would like it to be.
“I didn’t say you were.” Donovan says. Her tone is gentler than he would have expected. “I’m just… I know what you went through. The two of you saved London from a bloody madman… and I know you suffered for it, both of you.” She fidgets nervously with her glass.
"You know I didn't see you at first, at the funeral," Donovan says. "I saw them bringing in Mary’s coffin and I wondered where the fuck you were." She swallows thickly and continues. "I thought to myself 'how dare the freak be John's best man, but not stand by his side at his wife’s funeral. And then I saw you carrying that tiny coffin." Her voice breaks and she looks away momentarily to compose herself. "I have no idea how you could see through your tears."
They both drink.
"I wanted to meet her," Sherlock breathes. "I wanted to meet John's daughter."
“You would have made a good father, Sherlock.”
Sherlock scowls fiercely. Donovan cannot possibly be serious. He snatches up the rest of his drink and gulps it down in one swig. “He married a woman. ‘Not gay,’ remember?” He’s just starting to get drunk enough to not care what he has just revealed to Donovan. She looks like she’s about to say something else, but Sherlock ignores her and catches John’s eye. He lifts his empty glass and mimes getting John another drink. John grins at him and nods and Sherlock slides carefully off his stool.
He doesn’t want to think about the inevitability of John leaving. Doesn’t want to risk letting his feelings be known, doesn’t want to have what little he has with John now, destroyed by John’s discomfort. He is so lost in his own mind that he doesn’t see the man who steps in his way until the last minute. He mutters an apology and tries to step around him, but the burly man purposefully shoves into Sherlock, knocking him off his feet.
It’s the chief rowdy from the bar. Behind him his buddies are looking nervously at each other. Sherlock gets to his feet slowly and carefully; he is aware, that with as many of the Yard present as witnesses, he will have to take a punch before he can defend himself. He’s about to open his mouth with a string of vicious deductions about the man, when suddenly John is at his side, looking at him with concern. In a glance, John assesses that Sherlock is unharmed; he turns the full force of his gaze on the man who assaulted Sherlock.
“What the fuck did you just say?” John is smiling. Sherlock has seen this smile before. It’s a harsh, deadly smile that comes before someone gets hurt.
The man that John is addressing is taller than Sherlock and easily twice as broad. It almost looks absurd. Small, compact John staring down this gorilla of a man.
“John,” Sherlock says, “you don’t have to…”
“Oh, I do. I really do,” John snarls. His eyes never leave the face of the lout in front of him.
“You heard me,” the man answers casually. “What? Are you the fucking poofter’s boyfriend?”
“And what If I am?” John tilts his head, same nasty smile on his face.
A small treacherous part of Sherlock’s heart leaps at John’s comment. He was fully expecting John’s usual ‘Not gay.’
“He looks like he likes it up the arse. With a mouth like that, I bet he can—” The gorilla never sees John’s punch coming. It throws him back several feet and he knocks over several tables.
The noise and chatter of the bar abruptly fades and Lestrade and several other of the Yarders step forward. Chief rowdy gorilla’s buddies hightail it out of the bar.
The gorilla looks stunned. He wipes blood off of his face and shakes his head as if to clear it. He finally seems to come to his senses and notices Lestrade’s ID. “Hey! You copper!” He points at John. “This man just assaulted me!” John is making no effort to hide the fact that he is rubbing his knuckles. Sherlock looks nervously between John and Lestrade. The last thing he wants is for John to get an ASBO because of him.
Lestrade raises his eyebrows and looks at Donavon. “I didn’t see that. Did you, Donovan?”
Donovan smiles. “No sir. I didn’t see a damn thing.”
Lestrade, with exaggerated movements, pulls his ID tags over his head and drops them into his pocket. “Barkeep!” Lestrade yells, “Has this bloke has been disturbing the peace?”
The bartender—who has clearly had just about enough of the antics of the gorilla—grins at Lestrade. “He bloody well has been. I’d say it’s high time for you to head home, you fucking prick.”
With a grin, Lestrade and Donovan drag the sputtering man away.
Sherlock is startled by John’s hand on the small of his back. “You alright?” John asks. Sherlock can only nod. It’s still hot in the pub and he hopes fervently that John will blame the temperature and the liquor for the flush that Sherlock knows is painting his cheeks.
“Come on then.” He steers Sherlock back to the table that Lestrade and John were sitting at in between shooting darts. Anderson, Dimmock and several of the other Yarders intercept them on their way, they clap John on the back for his spectacular punch. Anderson of all people asks Sherlock if he is alright.
The entire way that the evening has turned has left Sherlock reeling and he knows that he is blinking stupidly and trying to process, but he just can’t seem to stop himself.
Lestrade and Donovan return looking pleased with themselves and gather around the table.
“Oh, I’d almost forgotten,” Lestrade says, “I brought a cold case file if you want to have a look at it Sherlock.”
Sherlock looks at him blankly for a moment. He feels like his brain is still offline.
‘Are you the poofter’s boyfriend?’
‘What if I am?’
What if he was?
That same treacherous flair of hope wells up in Sherlock’s chest. He ruthlessly stomps it down and shakes his head at Lestrade.
“I’ve had too much to drink.”
He doesn’t quite know what to make of the look that Lestrade and John share. “I don’t think you’ve had nearly enough, not after that bit of nonsense. I’m getting you both another round.” Greg is already heading for the bar.
John moves closer to him and slides his warm hand on to the small of Sherlock’s back again. Sherlock cannot quite suppress a shiver. “You Ok? We can go home if you want.” John’s voice is pitched low only for Sherlock’s ears. He turns to face John and is surprised by how close John is. He can smell the beer on John’s breath and wonders if his mouth would taste of hops and malt. He knows that he is staring at John’s mouth for longer than is strictly appropriate and it takes a monumental effort to drag his gaze to John’s eyes.
“Yes… I mean no, I… I’m fine. That, that thing that you did…that was um. Good.”
Sherlock is mortified by his own stammering, his face is flaming but John just smiles and pats Sherlock’s back. It makes Sherlock feel warm and cherished and he knows he would endure the wrath of a hundred bigots if it meant that John was there to smile at him like that.
Donovan is the one to deliver Lestrade's round of drinks. As she passes Sherlock his gin and tonic she catches his eye and smiles at him, flicking her eyes to where John is still absentmindedly rubbing Sherlock’s back. Sherlock wonders if it is possible for his face to get any more red. He somehow manages to avoid her gaze and school his face into a neutral mask.
There is a brief discussion about the ignorance of the gorilla while more drinks are consumed and another game of darts is played. The evening winds down without further incident and John and Sherlock leave the pub to find their way back to 221B.
It’s dark and quiet by the time they leave. The evening has brought a damp coolness to the air and it’s a welcome change from the stifling heat of the bar.
John tilts his head back and savours the cool breeze. “Oh, god, this is lovely. Let’s walk home.”
Before they have traveled far, there is a flash and the ominous rumble of thunder. Fat cool drops of rain begin to pelt them. They look at each other, realising that it’s unlikely they’ll get home before the rain starts in earnest. Foolish grins break out on their faces; they start to run, hoping to make it to 221B before they are completely drenched.
The sky opens up with a roar of thunder. It goes from nothing to torrential in seconds; both Sherlock and John are soaked to the skin and suddenly whooping with deranged laughter. They both slow, the urgency of the run lost now that they are both drenched. The rain is gloriously cool and refreshing and John’s clothing clings wetly to him. His black t-shirt is so wet; it looks like he is dipped in oil. His laughter is genuine and unabashed. He looks more happy and relaxed than Sherlock has seen him in years.
And then it hits Sherlock like a punch to the gut. How much longer does he have with John like this? How many more silly moments? How many more breathless chases through London?
There is another flash of lightning and the thunder this time is so loud that Sherlock can feel it in his chest. His laughter dies abruptly and he stops in his tracks.
Sherlock’s silence makes John turn to face him. He can feel the rain plastering his hair to his skull, and the cold clinging of his shirt against his skin. He knows his eyes are wide but he can't stop himself from staring. He has no idea what John will read in his expression.
“Sherlock, what is it?”
Sherlock opens his mouth and tries to speak, but nothing comes out. Concerned, John steps closer. “Sherlock?”
“Don’t go.” Sherlock croaks. He knows he looks lost and terrified and his eyes are red rimmed and he may very well be crying but at least it will be impossible for John to tell when his face is wet with the rain.
“Sherlock, I’m not going anywhere…What is it? What’s…”
“You’ll go.” Sherlock interrupts. “You’ll find another girlfriend and leave me and I can’t…I can’t-”
The air goes out of John’s chest.
"Oh, I've been stupid," John breathes, "I've known, of course I've known..." Sherlock feels like he can't breathe. Once John leaves it will be six months, Sherlock estimates. Six months before Sherlock fails to get out of the way of a killer’s bullet or has one last overdose.
Sherlock focuses on John again. When did John get so close to him?
When had John wrapped his small strong hands around Sherlock's biceps?
"You have no idea, do you?" Despite the sound of traffic around them and the ongoing rain Sherlock clearly hears John’s low voice. His confusion must show on his face and John’s expression softens. He feels John’s deft fingers slide into the wet curls at the nape of his neck. Even though he can see the kiss coming he is still surprised by it. He is unaware of how chilled he has become until he feels the heat of John’s mouth. The kiss is sweet and gentle and Sherlock feels like something warm and glowing is expanding in his chest, pressing against his ribs.
A whine claws its way out of Sherlock’s throat, and he finds himself crushing John against him. Heat blossoms between them where they are pressed together from knee to chest. John gentles the kiss trailing soft small nips along Sherlock’s jaw till his mouth is next to Sherlock’s ear.
“Sherlock," John breathes. "Let's go home."
Sherlock has no memory of the rest of the walk back to 221B. He comes back to awareness when they are in the darkened hallway. Power knocked out by the storm—John hustles him up the stairs and firmly closes and locks the door to the flat behind him. Despite the lingering heat Sherlock finds himself shaking so hard his teeth are chattering.
John finds a flashlight by feel in the kitchen and moves quickly around the darkened flat. Soon the kitchen, bathroom, and Sherlock’s room are bathed in the warm glow of tealights that John has dropped into tumblers.
John comes back to where Sherlock is standing and gently sweeps his hands up and down Sherlock’s arms “Come on,” he murmurs. “Let’s get you warmed up yeah?”
He starts backing up towards the bedroom drawing Sherlock along with him. Along the way they begin to pluck at each other’s wet clothing, snatching increasingly heated kisses as they stumble down the hallway. John slows them as they reach the door, easing heated frantic kisses to slow soft ones. With feather light fingertips he takes Sherlock’s face in his hands. He take slow deep deliberate breaths until Sherlock begins to match his breathing.
“Do you want this Sherlock?” he asks. “We don’t have to do anything tonight...”
“Yes. Yes, John, you have no idea.” Sherlock is still shaking, and he feels like he might just rattle apart when John takes his still wet hands into his own, somehow warming him, thrilling him, and calming him at the same time.
“Have you—Have you done this before?”
“I…no. No one seemed worth the effort.” Sherlock’s face flushes with embarrassment and finds himself cringing away from John.
John, lovely John, draws him closer sweeps his fingers along Sherlock’s ribs trailing along the edge of Sherlock’s wet trousers.“Let me,” John murmurs.
Sherlock lets John help him out of his trousers and pants and peels John out of his soaked jeans. John’s body is firm and compact, his generous cock curves up towards his belly and Sherlock longs to touch it but he’s not sure what is allowed. He struggles not to cover himself self-consciously. He’s too thin, too scarred, standing in the middle of his bedroom with a ridiculous hard-on in front of a perfect golden god.
“Look at you,” John murmurers heatedly. “God, you’re gorgeous.” His eyes roam hungrily over Sherlock’s body and the look on his face makes Sherlock shiver deliciously. John is smiling as he guides Sherlock towards the bed. The soft flickering candlelight seems to make johns skin glow warmly and catches the golden highlights in john’s still wet hair. He lies back, and pulls Sherlock on top of himself, guiding Sherlock to crawl between his open legs.
Sherlock shudders at the feeling of the John under him. Warm, firm body, so much skin to touch, and then John’s mouth is on him again, kissing his neck and jaw. Their mouths meet in gentle pecks and deeper sips. John’s hands drift down his back and he draws his knees up to frame Sherlock’s slim hips between his thighs.
John bucks his hips up slightly, and suddenly their cocks are slotted together, and a low moan tears itself from his throat. The sound makes Sherlock gasp. He cannot help but twitch his hips forward and John wenches his mouth off of Sherlock.
“Sherlock! Oh fuck!” He gasps. “Lube? Please tell me you’ve got...”
“Night table,” Sherlock manages. John twists under Sherlock for the bedside table and rifles though the drawer until finds the small tube and holds it up triumphantly. He pours a generous portion on to his hand and smears lube over both their cocks. Sherlock’s eyes roll back into his head at the feeling of John’s hand on him. He groans thickly and thrusts against John, luxuriating in the slick glide of their bodies against each other.
John’s hands slide down Sherlock’s back until they rest on Sherlock’s hips, guiding him, urging him to move. Sherlock swoops down to capture John’s mouth in a searing kiss. Their kisses deepen as they explore each other’s mouths. His hands are in John’s hair. Heat builds between them and sweat breaks out across their bodies adding to the slickness between them.
John’s hips buck up to meet Sherlock’s thrusts and suddenly Sherlock cannot help but writhe against John’s slick belly, grind against his hard cock. John groans, his head thrown back exposing his neck, his hands vice-like on his hips urging Sherlock’s movements. He meets Sherlock’s every thrust with his own.
Sherlock can feel the build, the fire gathering low in his pelvis, spreading up his spine. Beneath him John’s movements become erratic.
“Oh God! God Yes! OH Sher—” His body goes rigid, arching up so that he lifts Sherlock with him, hot slick ribbons of come spurting between them. Sherlock is lost, his thrusts come harsh and sharp, his voice joins John’s in a ragged scream as his vision whites out. He can’t control the vicious thrusts into the slick mess between them. His whole body is convulsing, he’s coming, coming, coming and his throat is raw from shouting.
“John! John! John!...”
Sherlock slowly comes back to himself with John crooning gently in his ear.
“I’ve got you, I’ve got you. Oh look at you, God, if I could come again I would just looking at you now.” John’s arms are still around him and he shifts both of them, gently rolling Sherlock onto his side. But Sherlock is still shaking, overwhelmed, trembling with the enormity of what has just happened. He doesn’t realize that he is crying until he sucks in his breath in a ragged sob.
“Hey, hey, what is it? Are you alright? Sherlock?”
“Yeah, I’m here, I’m not going anywhere, I’ve got you.”
John tucks the blankets around them, and lets Sherlock tuck his face under his chin. He strokes Sherlock’s back soothingly, murmuring gently until Sherlock’s breathing steadies and calms. John shifts back to peer at Sherlock and softly wipes the tears from Sherlock’s cheeks.
Sherlock nods takes a deep breath. “So long, John… So long I’ve wanted this. I never… I never thought you felt the same way.”
“I’m so sorry, Sherlock,” John murmurs.“I should have said something sooner.” His arms tighten around Sherlock “But I’m here now, and I’m never leaving, not unless you want me to. I love you, Sherlock.”
Sherlock sucks in a ragged gasp, surging up to capture John’s mouth in a kiss.
“I love you, I love you, I think I have always loved you,” Sherlock whispers against John’s mouth. Their foreheads press together, breath mingling as they trade gentle kisses back and forth.
“Stay?” Sherlock asks. He knows his voice is small, he feels vulnerable, flayed open. He has handed John his heart and if John chooses, he can crush it.
“I’m not going anywhere,” John murmurs. He’s smiling again, that same warm smile that John gave him in the pub. That smile, Sherlock realizes, is reserved just for him.
Sherlock lets himself be drawn down again so his face is tucked against John’s neck. John is absentmindedly stroking his hair. Everything he has ever wanted had been handed to him, but he can’t quite believe that it’s all real.
“You’re thinking too hard,” John rumbles.
“Am I?” Sherlock tucks his nose against John’s neck. He smells John’s soap, the rain, and the tang of sweat from their earlier exertions.
“Humm... yes. Tell me, what’s going on in that big brain of yours?” John asks.
Sherlock considers his answer. He could lie of course, and in the past he might have, but he knows now that he can count on John, and if they are to go forward in this he must hold nothing back.
“Do you miss her?” he asks.
John hugs Sherlock closer for a moment.
“I suppose I should.” John says. “But I don’t. Even before she shot you, the cracks were showing. Do you remember the morning we found you in the drug den?”
Sherlock nods but avoids John’s eyes. He’s not sure that John knows that his relapse had more to do with his despair over John’s wedding, than trying to get Magnussen’s attention.
“When Wiggins started deducing me at Bart’s I thought it was all going to come out then.”
“You thought what was going to come out then?” Sherlock asks, his face is nuzzled against John’s neck.
“He was right; I had my shirts folded, ready to pack. But not just so I could ride to work. I was so bored, Sherlock. I desperately wanted to leave… but the baby...”
Sherlock pulls back enough that he can see John’s face. There is pain and regret there, but it is not directed at Sherlock.
“You wanted to be a good father, a better father than yours was.”
“I did.” John swallows thickly and takes a breath before continuing. “And then she shot you. I wanted to leave her—but I wanted to do what was right for the child. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn't keep faking it. Sherlock, the week before Moriarty came back I saw a lawyer. I was going to ask her for a divorce, and I was going to beg you to let me come home. So no,” John shifts back so he can look Sherlock in the eyes. “I don’t miss her. I felt awful after she died, not because I lost her, but because I was so relieved.” John’s voice begins to crack, He sucks in a ragged breath. “My only regret…” Sherlock’s throat closes watching him; the pain on John’s face makes Sherlock’s chest ache. “The baby… My daughter.” John takes a ragged breath, swallows thickly as he blinks back tears. They curl close together, seeking comfort in each other’s touch. Sherlock strokes John’s back and hair and listens quietly as John slowly gets his ragged breathing under control. They lay together, the flickering candlelight painting artful shadows on their skin. As their breathing calms and slows, Sherlock hears the continuing rain outside.
After a long silence, John speaks one more time. His voice is growing muzzy with sleep.
“For the first time in years, I realize I’m exactly where I should be, Sherlock. I’m home.”
Despite the storm and the power outage, Sherlock feels warm and utterly safe.The warm glow of the candles is briefly interrupted by a flicker of lightning and in the distance there is a low rumble of thunder. John’s breathing slows into the rhythm of sleep. Wrapped in their comfortable nest, Sherlock lets the steady sound of John’s breath draw him down into slumber.