Dean took quiet pride in the fact that he had come upon many a startling sight in his life and always managed to keep it cool. (He paid no attention to the petty souls that didn’t believe him or refused to be impressed.) Those sights varied from gore and blood splatter to seventeen people having sex—Dean later made enquiries as to the exact number—to that ghost that was eerie even by ghostly standards; the one who had only his dentures floating around in the air for several seconds before his face and then his body slowly materialized around it as if made by thin wisps of smoke. Sam kept mysteriously calling him ‘the ghost from Alice in Wonderland’, but Dean didn’t get that reference. He rarely failed to comment that Sam’s ability to quote from the book was almost as creepy as the illustrations in the book itself that Dean had had the misfortune to come across once, after fighting off some damn energetic sprites in an enchanted bookstore.
None of these sights had made Dean bat an eyelid, in his modest opinion. Okay, he might have raised an eyebrow once or twice, but that was all he was prepared to admit. In addition, he thought he’d resigned himself to the fact that Sherlock Holmes existed beyond anything and everything that could be reasonably expected from this realm and the other. Yet despite all that, he walked into the living room of 221B—
Okay, first things first. Mrs. Hudson had laid down some rules about the acceptable ways to show up under her roof and that included ringing the doorbell or arriving at the landing, then walking in, preferably after knocking on the door. These rules had been put in place after her favorite teapot—a gift from John, apparently, as Dean had been reminded more times than he cared about—had met its maker, or rather the very un-holy-spirit-like, hard floor of Baker Street’s kitchen. This in turn was thanks to Castiel once transporting Dean from Nova Scotia right into 221B’s kitchen in a matter of a second, his angelic powers enough to make the trip but not enough to give a fair warning to those present at the point of arrival. Mrs. Hudson’s hands had been soapy while holding the pot, which Dean felt made her accusations and law-laying kind of unfair, but he respected the lady and wanted to have at least one person in the household with whom he was on unfailingly good terms.
So, Cas delivered Dean onto the landing and Dean walked into Baker Street’s living room like the awesome, agreeable guy that he was, calling out his ‘Hey’…Then stopped in his tracks, goggling against all of his past experience and better judgment.
“What the hell?” he asked the back of the top half of Sherlock’s head after his eyes returned to their sockets together with some gratitude to the universe after all—at least no one had seen Dean lose his cool, and no one needed to know, either.
A few curls bounced merrily at the sound of Dean’s voice and the whole of Sherlock’s head showed up. Sherlock appeared to be sitting on the floor. He now turned around, eyes shining and lips stretched out into a smile that would have been disturbing if it wasn’t so damn sincere.
“Hello,” Sherlock said after they stopped gazing at each other. He was still mostly a face, his smile unwavering.
“You look like something from Alice in Wonderland,” Dean informed him in a manner of greeting.
Sherlock’s smile dimmed a little. “I don’t understand that reference,” he said, and Dean decided that it was high time he kissed his boyfriend.
Trouble was, he had to get to him first.
A third of the living room was full of rose petals and Sherlock was buried in them, in actual layers upon layers upon freaking layers of rose petals, mostly pink but in other colors, too. They filled the room as if it was a part of a small dollhouse that some little girl—with a crazy mother who dressed her daughter only in pink and made the poor thing wear dresses with lace—had used as a storage space for all the petals of the roses in their garden. Only this was a son-of-a-bitch actual life-size house.
A sea of rose petals came to mind. When Dean had opened the door some of them had spilled out into the landing and he was now ankle deep in them. His boots would soak up the smell probably. He himself felt a little woozy already so his lungs were definitely soaking up the smell. He cast his gaze around the room for a double check only to establish that his first assessment had been correct: the petals were every-fucking-where, most of the furniture buried under them and that included all of the available seating places.
Amidst the pink Sherlock’s head was sticking out, his expression a little smug but mostly bearing that incongruous brand of innocence directed at the world—in this case at Dean—in expectation. Of what, Dean could never quite fathom. It was disarming and meaningful and thrilling all at once.
Yep, definitely time to kiss his boyfriend.
He began making his way through the layers, their disturbance making fragrances immediately claim the air even more. Sherlock kept looking at him without shifting; Dean wondered whether he’d been practicing how long he could hold his breath under…well, underpetals.
Thankfully movement wasn’t too difficult, but it required some effort—the damn things were dense.
“What the hell?” Dean insisted. He’d always believed that once you found the important questions, you got to keep asking them. He kept pushing forward, scooping out rose petals, only to have others come down in their place with the barest rustling sound.
A small line appeared between Sherlock's eyebrows and his smile was no more. Dean counted it as a win that the line wasn’t of the ‘I shall have to consult a mental health specialist on account of my choice of boyfriend’ variety.
“Am I supposed to figure this out?” Dean asked, pushing more. Sherlock continued to be disembodied. His face was a pretty nice shade, though, probably because of the all that pink around it, so Dean couldn’t complain.
At last he arrived at his destination. He stopped, eyes meeting Sherlock’s upturned ones. If he’d thought the pink was doing Sherlock skin a favor, it was only because he hadn’t seen yet how vibrant and multi-dimensional it turned the green of Sherlock’s irises, which in turn made the slant of his eyes even more pronounced.
Dean reached out and let his fingers dive into Sherlock’s hair by his right temple.
“Hey,” he said more quietly, his voice turning deeper.
Sherlock blinked a couple of times in quick succession, head tilting a little into the touch. His lips parted for either a greeting or a deadpan comment on the lack of necessity for saying hello more than once, but Dean couldn’t wait to find out which one it was. He bent over and kissed Sherlock, let his mouth dwell on what he imagined was still softer than the silkiest petals around them.
He pulled back a little, speaking against Sherlock’s lips. “Is this a nice surprise, like, you’re naked under there or…? Oh, fuck, are you hiding a rotting body? You know you can’t kill that smell, dude.”
Sherlock’s exaggerated sigh of despair didn’t feel half as annoying so close to Dean’s mouth. “If I ever killed anyone, no one would find the body.” Sherlock paused. “No one would know there was a body,” he added.
Dean straightened up at last, his fingers trailing out of Sherlock’s curls as a reluctant afterthought. “I gotta tell you, that doesn’t sound as reassuring as you think.” He surveyed his environment, less carefully than before. Seeing Sherlock after three weeks and in a room that smelled like something people would pay thousands of dollars to roll around in didn’t spell out the heightening of Dean’s focus.
Instead of saying something to unveil this mystery at last, Sherlock extended his right hand to Dean. Dean grabbed it and hauled Sherlock out of his literal flower bath. Sherlock seemed a little disoriented—head rush from the sudden movement?—but he was quickly flicking away any stray decorations on his bright pink shirt and dark trousers. Some petals were still clinging tightly to him, though, just as his clothes were. Dean begrudged both petals and clothes a little, although as a whole he heartily approved of Sherlock’s views on how fitted a consulting detective’s clothes should be on his figure.
They were standing face to face now, their equal height and their closeness meaning it was more like nose to nose.
“All right,” Dean said. “Did you stop to think about how long it’d take us to get to the bedroom now?”
“Of course not.”
“Of course not,” Dean parroted with only a little snark. His eyes fell on Sherlock’s mouth again. It was right there, where else was Dean supposed to look? All that other pink was starting to give him a headache.
“I guess we can do it in here,” he told Sherlock with a hopeful expression, then an amusing thought occurred to him. “Hey, do you think it’s going to be like getting sand in funny places? You know.” Dean wriggled his eyebrows for emphasis.
Sherlock frowned at him. “What funny places? Like halls of mirrors? Why would they get sand there?”
“What? No, I’m talking about the beach, virgin boy.”
“Thanks to your considerable effort I am no longer a virgin. What beach?”
“The beach where people have sex. And you’re welcome.”
“I wasn’t aware I had thanked you. There is a special beach where people have sex?”
A clearing of a throat floated from the living room door, saving Dean from making the tough choice between tackling Sherlock to what looked like it’d be a great bed or throwing his arms in the air and asking Sherlock if he knew any good mental health specialists. For Dean. To examine his choices.
“Is Sam with you?” John Watson asked, and Dean smarted a little.
“Oh hi, John. Good to see you too,” he retorted, in no way childishly. He did not appreciate the little twitch of John’s mouth or the way his eyes shot to Sherlock before returning back to Dean.
“Sorry,” John said. “Hi. Um, so is he? Sam, I mean. With you.”
“No.” Dean was never okay being half a world away from Sam, but in this case he regretted Sam’s choice to stay in the bunker and read more than ever—this floral insanity seemed like the kind of thing that would make Sam’s encyclopedia head open right on its weirdest chapter and spit out some explanation. Which Sam would deliver with a matter-of-fact demeanor, of course, and John would look kind of impressed and smile at Sam, and Sherlock would roll his eyes again, then say a clipped, “Yes,” to confirm Sam was right.
In this Sam-less reality, Dean had a question for John. “Weren’t you supposed to be on vacation? On some island?”
“Oh. Change of plan. There was a double booking on the first flight out.”
“Man, that sucks.”
John nodded empathically. “They offered another flight on the next day, but then they want you to pay extra for the connecting one, because—”
The most subtly arrogant, bored tone on the planet cut off the exchange. “Yes, quite,” Sherlock said. “Airlines and their policies, it must be the end of the world not to get a severe sunburn and have your tongue turn all sorts of ridiculous colors from drinking cocktails with even more ridiculous nam—Oh!” Sherlock looked at Dean exulted. “Sex on the beach!”
“We gotta leave this room first,” Dean told him, then turned back to John. “Do I want to know about this?” he indicated around the room.
“Hang on,” John said. “I was coming up to say that they’ll be collecting the petals an hour earlier.” John was addressing Sherlock with his head tipped a little to see him around Dean. “Your brother’s been calling you. Where's your phone?”
Sherlock made a vague gesture in the general direction of the fireplace. There was a hint of a sulk blooming on his face.
“All right,” Dean said, running a hand over his face. “For the second time—what the hell?”
“Third time,” Sherlock said.
“Dude, don’t even…” Dean shook his head, turning to John. “Just tell me, okay? I’ve been here for ten minutes and I’m already thinking of checking myself into a hotel on some tropical island for like a week. What's going on? Is this some experiment about how long a corpse will last buried in flowers before it stinks up the joint?”
John’s eyes flickered to Sherlock. In his peripheral vision Dean caught Sherlock's light shrug. John spoke with some hesitation. “Last time you argued...Do you remember what you told him?”
Dean squinted at John, confused. “We argue all the time. How the hell am I supposed to remember when that was or what I said. Why?”
John’s face turned both a little colder and a little older; the latter much like it would be on a man who wasn’t too eager to revisit an argument he must have had about ten times already. “Well, you should try to remember or at least be more careful about what you are saying. He claims…” John suddenly lifted a warning finger, eyes trained behind Dean’s shoulder. “Don’t! Fine.” John’s attention returned to Dean. “He heard you say to him that you knew he would be bad at this, and you didn’t expect to—”
“You didn’t expect us to lie on a canopy of freaking rose petals and hold hands,” Sherlock’s rumble took over, flat and quiet, the words clicking in Dean’s mind and releasing a vague memory, “but you expected at least a phone call from time to time to show some signs of freaking life or that I cared. Or something.”
The silence that followed seemed to encourage the scents to spread out like some stupid melancholic music.
Dean scratched his neck. “So this is what? An apology?”
Sherlock shook his head, a stray petal flipping in the air twice before landing on his shoulder. “No.”
Behind him Dean heard John retreating down the stairs.
“I thought about what you said," Sherlock continued, "and it seemed logical that the most certain way to settle the matter once and for all was to go for the highest stakes. You stated clearly that you considered this to be the act to serve as indisputable evidence of my…” Sherlock hesitated before saying the word crisply, “care. So I decided to skip calling you at regular intervals and do this instead.” Sherlock’s hands slid into his trouser pockets and he seemed to rock on his heels a little, judging by the flicks of color Dean caught with his peripheral vision in the vicinity of Sherlock’s knees—petals, liberated again by motion.
Dean wanted to say, ‘Is that why you didn’t call me for three weeks? Thank fuck you text at least, but I still miss your voice, you dumbass.’ He wanted to sit down even if it meant that his ass might fall through a bit. He wanted to tell Sherlock that he was the one who should apologize, and that his mouth ran its own business independent of Dean’s brain every other day, so Sherlock should definitely ignore it just as much as Dean was learning to ignore Sherlock's from time to time.
All Dean did was lick his lips and nod quite a few times. Sherlock was perfectly immobile again, his glistening, intense eyes trained on Dean. He seemed like a magnificent bird that had landed on nature’s most luxurious canopy—a fitting setting for a one-of-a-kind creature, one Dean was miraculously allowed to come close to and touch, stroke it and take it apart, then put it back together; even have it follow him.
Dean cleared his throat and surreptitiously wiped his right hand on his thigh before extending it, palm up. “So, ah. You…want to lie down and hold hands or something?”