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There’s something bittersweet about Baker Street. The smell of mothballs and chlorine, month-old bread rotting in the fridge and orange lamplight against god-awful wallpaper.

John has tried to reason with himself. The rent is cheaper. There’s no reason to live in such a large home by himself. It’s a shorter commute to the clinic.

But in the end, he knows why he’s here. Flipping book through book, setting aside the ones that can be salvaged, and dumping the texts too fried to ever tell what was on the spine. Setting in windowpanes and refitting the kitchen sink. Pushing furniture into place, hanging pictures, sweeping out the debris in the fire pit.

While it may no-longer smell of mothballs and chlorine, and the new fridge hasn’t been around long enough to have moldy bread, there’s still that orange lamplight, and new godawful wallpaper, with fresh bullet holes for old-times sakes.

He never thought he’d miss the smell of burning gas and dusty bookcases. But as John stands in the kitchen entryway, watching Sherlock stab a knife into the mantle, he almost wishes it’d get dirty faster, just so it would feel like it once was. Like the past year never happened.

But it never really will. Because it did happen. They grieved and cried and fought and punched and kicked and drowned and now they’re here, setting back 221B just as it was.

“Still feels different, doesn't it?” John asks.

Sherlock looks once around the flat, and folds his arms into himself, “I am regrettably missing quite a few books.”

“As if you ever read them.”

Sherlock looks around the flat again– which is still missing some of the clutter yet, but it’ll get there. He picks up a spare railroad wrench (the one John was just using to fix the sink), and sets it right in the bookshelf, where there’s an open space.

“That’ll do for now,” Sherlock says, with finality. “Just a few more spaces to fill.” He goes off looking for something else, digging under the couch and behind the lamp.

John thinks of his room upstairs. Mostly untouched, a few splintered floorboards to fix from the blast, and a door hinge to replace, but otherwise exactly as John left it.

Would he fit like that wrench? Awkward and jammed up against the shelf, blatantly wrong and stark-silver against brown wood?

But Sherlock is looking at him now – really so, in that rare, addicting way when John knows he has his full attention.

He’s not as he was. Not since Eurus. It’s good and bad – but probably good. For as traumatizing as it was, John thinks, Sherlock finally has closure. Free to be him, Sherlock Holmes, without something dark hanging over his shoulders, afraid to love others, too prideful to admit that he’s human. A high functioning Sociopath! But are you really?

Sherlock’s lips twitch into a quick smile, before turning on his heel and stalking towards the kitchen, to unpack new beakers and burners and a shiny new microscope.

No, John thinks. He’s free now.

And as much as he rations, as much as John tries, the real, true reason he’s here, is because he undoubtably loves Sherlock to his very core.

John is a GP, he can afford the rent of a large house. He doesn’t mind living alone. The commute is not shorter. 

But this is home.

 


 

 

He keeps the CD in the bottom drawer of his deskside table. Not somewhere he’ll see too often, but not somewhere he’ll forget about. Distant, but close.

 

Miss you.

 

There’s always guilt, regret – what if I had been faster –

But Mary has always known. Maybe that’s why they worked as well as they did. Maybe that’s why she sat on their kitchen floor and filmed a blessing; and that’s what it is. A blessing.

 

It’s all about the legacy.

 

She always knew that Sherlock would come first, in every way. And that’s Johns fault. Even in marriage, he couldn’t love her more than him, and they both knew this. Accepted this. So Mary died protecting what John cared for most. And he’s not sure how to live with that.

But that CD. That message. A last plea for John to just be happy. 

 

In saving my life she conferred a value on it. It is a currency I do not know how to spend.

 

He won’t let her die for nothing. Today, he’ll do it.

 

“Sherlock?”

He looks up from the lens of the microscope, slide half in hand. The look on his face leaves John feeling hollow. A short flash of surprise (something few others would notice), before its gone. Like Sherlock is still startled to see John here every morning. Like he expects him to leave.

John fiddles with the stove, sets the pot down and says, “Are you sure you still want me here?”

Sherlock turns unimpressed. “Do you actually need validation?”

“Oh you know what I mean,” John rolls his eyes. “This is me trying to be considerate.”

“Well stop it,” Sherlock barks, looking down into the microscope once more. “I wasn’t lying when I said you always have a place here.”

John swallows.

“Yes, well. Things are…different now,” John says. He watches the teapot start to steam.

John knows that Sherlock isn’t looking at anything under that lens. John knows a lot of things about Sherlock. Like how his feet aren’t planted on the ground, and he’s not changing the focus on the magnification, and his slide has nothing on it. Therefore, he’s thinking.

Sherlock is in a black button-down and trousers, but his red nightgown is wrapped around his shoulders, and there’s a beanie over his ears – definitely the one he stole from a suspect yesterday. John always thought Sherlock looked pretty under the white kitchen lights, but he was never brave enough to admit it to himself.

He allows it this time.

Neither of them say anything. The room feels too charged, all of a sudden.

“I’m off at six.” John clears his throat. He fiddles with his shirt sleeve. “Meet me at Tapas?”

“If I’m not at the Yard,” Sherlock says. “I was promised a sit-in with Mr. Kaczynski, and if I don’t get it Lestrade will have hell to pay.”

“Well that shouldn’t take too long. You said something about nails?”

“Fingernails,” Sherlock corrects. “I just need samples. His calcium deficiency will tell us if he’s guilty or not.”

“Lovely,” John says, looking for his coat and humming when Sherlock makes a distant gesture towards the couch. He sticks one arm through, then the other, “No appendages in the fridge.”

“You are supposed to freeze fingers, John.”

“None in the ice box either,” John points.

Sherlock gives him an amused look – pretty colorless eyes and a short smile -- and then he’s gone, out of John’s view, his eyes laser focused, slides swapping out for something with a drop of blue, fingers deftly switching the magnification into focus.

John makes him tea and sets it at his elbow, then takes off for work.

 


 

He’s not scared. Not anymore.

 

Angelo brings them a candle and John is years past complaining. He nods a thank you. It’s better to be grateful that Sherlock showed up at all.

“I’m going to pretend there isn’t a bag of human hair under this table,” John says.

Sherlock hums, hardly sparing a glance at the menu, “I waited a month for this hair, I am not letting you throw it away this time.”

“I sure hope you’re not going to burn it.”

Sherlock gives him a look, like they both know that’s exactly what he’s going to go home and do. John doesn’t bother looking at the menu either, he’s sure Angelo already knows what they’re getting anyways. Well, maybe.

“Are you eating today?”

“Oh, yes,” Sherlock digs into his pocket, and pulls out a few receipts of paper. “I solved the Kaczynski case.”

“You did? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Too busy,” Sherlock waves, “Thought I’d tell you in person.” He fishes out a few other pieces of paper, and starts to align them on the table, “It was never truly about the nails – yes, there was typical splintering, a little weak in vitamin D, enough to call a verdict– but these. I snatched them out of his pocket on the way out.” John realizes that they’re shreds, and that Sherlock is piecing them together like a puzzle. “I showed it to Lestrade, and it was the final straw. This is most definitely his non-dominant handwriting.”

“So he was the fake suicide note, then.”

“Obviously.”

John hums, and speaks after a sip of water, “Not even a month, and you’re already back on cases.”

Sherlock shrugs, “It’s a living.” He scoops the papers back into his pocket.

“No, it isn’t.”

They both laugh, and it’s different. They’ve fought and made up and fought and made up – broken each other’s hearts so many times, it’s hard to believe they can still be this. Sherlock and John.

It’s a testament to your strength, Mary once said, and John is starting to believe that.

“What are you thinking?” Sherlock asks. He looks a little uneasy. Not very, but John sees him fiddle with the straw in his drink, and it’s very unlike him. Something small, but noticeable to John anyways.

“Don’t you already know?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes, “A detective, not a mind reader. Do get it right.”

“How about you give it your best shot?” John tries. He almost cringes because wow, it really sounds like flirting now, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s how it’s always been. John refuses to be nervous.

Sherlock takes the challenge. His eyebrows push together. “You’re thinking about me.”

“How sweetly narcistic.”

“Well, Narcissus was known for his beauty.”

“He also stared at his reflection until he died.”

Sherlock barely laughs, hides it and says, “Well then?”

“You were more or less right,” John sniffs. “Just thinking about time. It’s been six years, hasn’t it?”

“Since we met? I would believe so.”

“Ta, you don’t believe in anything.”

“Five years, sixty four days,” Sherlock sighs. “Happy?”

John smiles, and he feels fuzzy. Drunk but sober. He’s not sure why he says what he says, but he does so anyways.

“Sometimes I have dreams where I’m a father.”

Sherlock’s eyes widen, sitting up just a little straighter, if any. He inhales. The adrenaline of having Sherlock’s full attention hits hard. John takes a breath.

“Mary is there,” John says softly. “And we live in that house. With a dog.”

“John.”

“And you’re always there too.” John refuses to let the nerves in his throat shine through. “Just as Mary is.”

“John I’m sorry,” Sherlock says. Awkward. His hair is extra curly from the humidity of last night’s rain, and he exudes that accidental sex appeal, top button undone, eyelashes long and feathery.

“No,” John waves. “You don’t – you don’t get it. Just as Mary is, Sherlock. Like I’d never know a difference.”

He can’t tell what’s going on in Sherlock’s head, but it’s certainly something big. His face is shut off, eyes dead forward, and John feels Déjà vu –

I’m your best –

-friend?

 

John sighs, and rubs at his forehead. “I don’t expect anything from you but I thought I’d say it. Mary seemed to think that we’d do great things together. And you know, I always agreed.” He gives a forced laugh, “Always too much of a coward to admit it though, yeah.” Another deep breath. “You were always it for me.”

 

You keep me right.

 

 

Sherlock’s words are so low and baritone, it has John freezing in place, feet flat on the floor, hands going still against the table.

“John.” He stares. “May I say something?”

“Y-yeah,” John nods, and curses his stutter. Wow, get a grip.

Sherlock takes a moment – fuck, that’s not a good sign, because if Sherlock has to think about what he’s going to say, you might as well give up now. John waits barely a moment, but it feels like forever.

“I am…” he starts, “...incapable. Of doing this half way.”

John waits. He knows not to ask unnecessary questions until he’s done.

“Your friendship is invaluable to me, obviously,” Sherlock says seriously. “But I’m afraid it would be unrepairable if we are not on the same page, starting now.”

John swallows, “Okay. State your piece.” 

“If were going to do this,” Sherlock gestures somewhere between them, on the verge of frantic. “Then I –“ he leans forwards, over the table and almost to the candle, and stares straight into his soul. Fingers gripping the edge, eyes ice blue. “John, I must have all of you.”

As the world decides to tip upsidedown and halfway over, John manages a short, “And you think you don’t already?”

Sherlock looks impatient, “Clearly. I know we’ve jumped on and off the line of platonic over the years – and god do hate labels – but I can’t – you- “ Sherlock leans back and makes a short ugh! noise, before starting again. “John-“

But Angelo shows up with a plate full of food, and seeing Sherlock flustered has John on the brink of panic, so he mouths later, and Sherlock looks relieved.

 


 

It’s way too late to be walking through a park in the middle of London, but John doesn’t even spare a thought on their safety. He’d like to see a poor bastard try.

It was nice to see Sherlock actually eat something. John left Angelo a fat tip for sneaking real vegetables onto his plate.

You can see a few stars tonight, better so at the park, a little further away from the street lamps. It’s a waxing moon, and John is interested to know if Sherlock is aware of it. Probably not.

“What did you mean, earlier?” John asks, unafraid to break the ice. Sherlock doesn’t answer. John tries again. “You said-“

“I know what I said.”

“-all of me.” John shoves his hands in his pockets; he regrets not bringing gloves. “What does that mean?”

Sherlock looks pained. Lips tight, eyes dead forward. John wants to reach out to him, but doesn’t.

“I won’t leave,” John tells him. “Not from this. But I think we – we’ve needed to have this conversation for a while.”

Sherlock snorts a humorless laugh. “A while. We both know that’s a hilarious understatement.”

John grins, “And so?”

They’re nearly to the end of the park now. Four blocks over, and they’ll see Baker street.

Sherlock finally speaks, “It’s as I said. I am no longer willing to compromise. If we are going to do this, I simply must have all of you.”

John stops walking, “And I’m saying that you do!”

“I do not!” Sherlock snaps back, pausing to hover at his full height, collar upturned, eyes sharp as a knife.

John scoffs, insulted, “Seriously? Like I haven’t killed men and dragged you back from hell. Are you actually doubting my loyalty? Now?”

In one quick movement, Sherlock has both of his hands braced up against John’s face. They’re gloveless, to John’s surprise, and lukewarm. He grips his jaw and his cheek and stares John down, close enough to be decimeters away. He growls – growls!

“Platonically, romantically, sexually – it is in every way John. Closed. Committed. All or nothing. I don’t play games.”

John goes comedically slack. His hands fall out of his pockets.

Oh.

“I didn’t – you – I didn’t think you… wanted that.”

“And what exactly did you want?” Sherlock snaps.

John answers easily, “Whatever you were willing to offer.”

A pause. Sherlock is reading him. John’s arms raise with goosebumps.

“This will change everything,” Sherlock says.

“Everything has already changed,” John breathes.

Sherlock is looking him over, eyes dark now, skipping back and forth. His hands are strong against John’s face, thumbs at his cheekbones, fingertips against his ears. John breathes hard – wants to make a move but isn’t sure how to. He can see the cogs turning in Sherlock’s head; so he gently sets his hands on Sherlock’s waist in a wordless its okay – please.

 At last, Sherlock leans in and kisses him.

He was never quite sure what kissing Sherlock would be like. It used to give him a headache to think about – assuming that he’d never find out. It’s anticlimactic and groundbreaking all at once. He isn’t some alien, a god above men – and he’s not chapped or prickly or gross. Sherlock’s lips are just as wet and warm and soft as anyone else’s, and John finds himself fighting a hard smile.

John has seen Sherlock kiss others. A girl or two, that he’d chosen to manipulate at the time. But it never looked right – as if Sherlock’s whole heart wasn’t in it. John always assumed that he just wasn’t capable. That Sherlock didn’t have a heart to give.

But that is completely false. John learns it from the way Sherlock holds his face still, tips his nose out of the way and kisses John like he can’t believe it. Like he’s trying to say years and years of words that’ll never make their way past that tongue. He prods it against the sensitive roll of John’s bottom lip, and John opens his mouth too eagerly.

John is dead focused and lightheaded all at once. It’s a tornado of overwhelming data, and John can only imagine how Sherlock feels. John has kissed so many people, but none with so much history, with so much tension and pining and a breadcrumb road to lead them right here.

The moment feels like forever, but it’s still too short. Sherlock pulls away and slides his hands down to John’s neck. John decides right here and now that he’d give anything to do that again.

“That was,” John starts. “Oh. Jesus.”

Sherlock’s pupils are blown wide. John can feel his heartrate in his hands. His stomach rolls deep and hard, a heavy realization that John did that to the immune Sherlock Holmes.

“You still manage to surprise me,” Sherlock mumbles, and fuck if that isn’t the highest compliment there is.

“I want this to work.” John brings his hands around to lock behind Sherlock’s back. He’s real. A real person, flesh and bone under skin. John blubbers, throat tight, “Fuck, I’ve lost so much and come so far and I really, really want this work – because if I don’t have this, I won’t have anything left, Sherlock, please.

“Okay.” Sherlock whispers, kissing him. “Okay.”  

John is aware that they’re not the only people in the park, but he kind of doesn’t care. He smiles into the kiss and swallows the lump in his throat, “Now they’ll really talk.”

Sherlock smiles back and it’s the best feeling in the world.

“People do little else.”

 


 

 

It’d be a lie to say it’s easy. To say it’s not hard work. Because it is. To constantly remind himself that it’s okay to reach out for his shoulder. That John is allowed to dip around and kiss Sherlock goodbye.

John is still hesitant to reach out for his hand. Like Sherlock might bite.

Sentiment, he’d sneer, nose upturned. John can hear it now.

But Sherlock leans into him in the morning, waiting distractedly for a kiss as he mumbles formulas under his breath. He takes John’s hand in the taxis, and holds it on the way out. He helps him tug on his coat and makes him tea on good days.

There’s no less of an effort to keep the kitchen clean, and dear god John has to breathe hard and count to ten when he finds the hallway burnt to hell – and they still fight over eyeballs in the microwave and Sherlock running off to catch murderers in the dead of night. Yet it’s…a relief, in some sense. That at least, not everything is different.

But some different is good.

It’s still weird to touch him like this. Curled up on the couch, Sherock’s arms wrapped up and under John’s armpits, coming back to steeple his fingers under John’s chin instead.

“Is this genuinely helping?” John can’t help but laugh.

“No accomplice, no alibis, no footprints. But two mirror crimes in two places, simultaneously.”

“Maybe it was-“

“It’s never twins, John.”

“Just you wait,” John huffs, jerking his chin down on Sherlock’s fingers, and kicking at his feet. “One day it will be twins, and I’m going to hold it over you forever.”

“You’ll have deserved it then,” Sherlock says. His breath goes hot against his ear, and John involuntarily shivers from it.

“Am I-“

“No, you are not heavy, and no, I am not moving,” Sherlock answers.

“Alright, witch,” he jokes, and rolls his head back onto Sherlock’s shoulder. Sherlock: cuddly. Who would’ve guessed.

John allows himself to close his eyes for a moment, and Sherlock starts to reiterate all the observations at the crime scene in reverse alphabetical order. John phases in and out, offering very helpful mmhmm’s at every pause.

“I know you’re not listening but I could legitimately use some input on this.”

“If you’re stumped, then I’m no help,” John says. “Also I worked nine hours at the clinic, I’m allowed this.”

Sherlock’s fingers leave his chin. Instead they splay flat over his chest, one coming up to his throat, reading his pulse. Sherlock can’t be idle – John feels him trace down his ribs and count each one, methodical in a way that Sherlock would measure a body. It’s kind of flattering.

John hums, and the tiny inhale by his ear makes him smile.

“So, can I ask –“

“May you-“

“-what are you actually?”

Sherlock pauses. “Is that supposed to be philosophical?”

John rolls over, propping his arms up on Sherlock’s chest to hover down at him. “You know what I mean.”

“I could give you multiple answers, but none are going to be what you’re looking for.”

“Okay, I’ll specify,” John kisses him once, just to give himself a confidence boost. “Are you gay?”

“No.”

“Straight?”

“No.”

“Asexual?”

“Eh, no.” Sherlock shrugs, and his hands come up to rest at John’s back.

“Really?” John raises an eyebrow. “I thought it was that for sure. You’re still a virgin, aren’t you?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes, “Virginity is a moronic double-standard of a social construct made to fetishize purity, and specifically-- women.”

“Not the point.” John shifts, “You’ve chosen not to be intimate with anyone. I’m just trying to understand why you’re okay with…me.”

Something shifts in Sherlock’s eyes. “You do know of my distaste for labels.”

John turns his head to speak into his ear, “Humor me.”

He can feel Sherlock sigh, and his hands clench into John’s shirt. “Why must basic minds require umbrella words? Can something not just be? Demisexuality, I’ve heard, might be the most accurate term – most accurate, John, not completely.”

“Oh.” Well that would make sense.

“It’s never been a concern of mine. The work comes first. Intimacy leaves too much room for human error.”

John knows better than to take offense to that. Instead he says,

“But it must mean something to you, if you’ve waited this long.“

Sherlock squeezes him then, pulling at John’s lower back, almost forcing John to get his knees under himself and straddle Sherlock’s lap. He speaks harshly, like that’ll end the conversation quicker.

“I’ve chosen not to have sex with anyone because none of them were you.”

Well, fuck. John’s heart hikes up into his throat and swells there, and he blinks, trying to right himself on the couch. John doesn’t even know where to begin with that.

“You – but what about before you met me? Secondary school, University- ”

“Nobody was of any interest to me,” Sherlock softens, and brings a hand to mess with John’s hair. “None were right.”

John scrunches his eyebrows and mumbles, “Irene…” He regrets it immediately, because Sherlock tenses up like lightning.

“You absolutely cannot be serious.”

“Sherlock-“

He sits up, forcing John to sit back on his thighs, “Of all the thickheaded, idiotic-“

“Hey!-“

“I cannot even fathom that you would bring up her name right now,” Sherlock hisses, trying to push John off – but John rivals him in arm strength, and pins him back to the couch.

“Now hold on! It’s a- it’s a valid argument. Don’t tell me she didn’t – interest you, or whatever.”

“She was clever,” Sherlock spits. “But I am insulted on your behalf that you would compare yourself to her.”

“To what? A beautiful dominatrix?”

Sherlock grabs him by the chin, and oh, why does that make his body run so hot –

He glares, “To assume that anyone I find interesting rivals my love for you.”

John freezes. His hands go still where they’re locked around Sherlock’s forearms, knees digging into the couch cushions. It’s like staring down the barrel of a gun: if the gun had sharp dual-colored eyes.

He knew it already. They’ve told each other, many times. At John’s wedding, on their assumed deathbeds – but now it means more. It’s heavier and louder and it rips through the room like a handsaw.

“I love you too,” John says automatically. He feels pounds lighter in an instant.

“Then why are we having this conversation?” Sherlock huffs.

“Because that’s what couples do,” John wraps his arms around his neck and scooches closer. “Talk about stuff.” John knows they won’t get anywhere tonight – knows Sherlock’s head is too full of data. His eyes are twitchy, only half present. But John is grateful to have his attention for this short moment; and he can’t help the eagerness under his skin, knowing that soon he’ll tear off these buttons, and soon he’ll dig his fingers into his bare back and trace down his thighs with his tongue.

Sherlock reads his face and kisses him, a little harsher than any of their kisses so far, but John is gagging for it, kissing just as hard and smiling when their teeth click like teenagers. As big of an asshole he is, sometimes John likes that Sherlock can take one look and read him inside out. Sometimes.

“Oh, the things I’m going to do to you,” John sighs.

“Don’t be so confident that I won’t eat you alive,” Sherlock rumbles into his neck, and John has to actually bite down on his tongue to avoid embarrassment. Sherlock probably felt the moan anyways, because he grins wolfish into the hollow of John’s throat. God.

John grips at the back of Sherlock’s hair and pulls, tipping his head back to look him in the eye. “You better cool it if you still plan on going to the Yard tonight.”

“Yes, alright-“ Sherlock bites off, and then jerks straight. “Oh! Oh! The icebox!” He kisses the side of John’s face, wet and sloppy, before shoving him off, “You are amazing! They kept the hammer cool – text Lestrade and tell him to meet me at Shaftesbury. I know who the murderer is.”  

John isn’t sure how he ended up on the floor, but he does reach for his phone and his coat, stepping into his shoes and jumping down the stairs, one arm half into his sleeve. Sherlock is spinning like a whirlwind, and John breathes in the adrenaline like an addict.

“Bring your gun!” Sherlock shouts, and John does.

 

 


 

 

“So you and –uh, Holmes, huh?”

Donovan leans up against the cop car and crosses her arms. She very clearly meant to say The Freak – but she’s seen John break the Chief Superintendent’s nose just for calling Sherlock a weirdo, so. She is wise to fear him.

“Are we seriously having this conversation right now?”

“Well he did ditch you to go play with a cow brain.”

Alright, fine. John sits up on the car hood and pouts; it’s not worth taking the Taxi home, knowing Sherlock will drag him back out later.

“He’s still my best friend.”

“Giving the press something to really talk about, huh?” Donovan chirps.

“It must be old news by now.” John takes out his gun, checks the magazine and pops it back in. “Everyone already thought we were shagging.”

“Pff, not to the mainstream,” Anderson smirks. “You’re in for it, Watson.”

 “You’re off your tits if you think Sherlock gives a damn about his reputation.” John uses the glare that says we both know what I’m talking about – and Anderson coughs awkwardly.

“Also boldly homophobic of you to assume our relationship would affect my reputation negatively, Anderson.” Sherlock appears out of thin air. He braces a hand at John’s shoulder, “Also good work John.” He looks proud as Anderson finds something else interesting, and escapes.

John elbows him, “Right, all done then?”

“Oh, case closed.” Sherlock’s gloved hand falls to his waist, and John follows the prodding to slide off the car. He guides John towards the open street, “If we leave now we’ll make it to Speedy’s.”

John glares, “If you have that cow brain anywhere on your immediate person I will spend the entire week at the clinic.”

Sherlock smirks, and outstretches his arms, “Check me, officer.”

“Oh, puke,” Donovan gags, but Lestrade is laughing, a little too giddy for this hour, in John’s opinion.

“Have fun scrubbing floors this weekend!” Sherlock calls, and John has to hide his laugh in his elbow until they round the corner.

“You cock!” John laughs.

“She’s sleeping with Ivan Elliott,” Sherlock says.

“Oh my god, the greasy chav from IT?” John cringes.

Sherlock raises an eyebrow, before flinging out an arm for a Taxi. “I’ll admit I’m impressed you remember who that is.”

John slips his hand into Sherlock’s free one, just to gauge his reaction; which is nothing, besides having his fingers squeezed back. “Only because I watched him eat orange crisps with chopsticks.”

Sherlock makes a long hmm sound, and says, “Creative.”

“Don’t even think about it.”

 


 

 

The paper isn't worth reading today.

 

They haven’t bothered with a public statement, and John’s been a little behind on the blog, so it more or less blows up when Sherlock decides to French dip John over the half-dead, bloody and handcuffed body of a serial kidnapper. The blood is mostly John’s fault. Sherlock apparently liked that.

John’s attempts to hide the paper are all for naught, because Sherlock takes one look at him, and realizes it’s hidden under the couch cushions.

“This is not the most flattering angle,” Sherlock frowns, but picks up a knife out of their Knife Cup and sticks the paper to the wall anyways.

John sighs, studying the broken skin on his knuckles, “Was that necessary?”

Sherlock looks at him in the no duh way; “The corkboard is full.”

“No- I meant,” John sighs, “kissing me like I was Scarlett O’hara .”

“I don’t know who that is and I don’t care. Yes, it was necessary,” Sherlock says, and he looks damn proud of himself, so John lets it go.

 

He crawls into his own bed that night. Just like any other night. But it’s not right.

John tosses and turns; thinks about that newspaper pinned to the wall, with a headline of Love at the Crime Scene. Black and white ink, John so obviously turned in Sherlock’s arms, coat flying out with a dramatic Sherlockian flare.  

The soft violin stopped hours ago. He heard the shower, then the click of Sherlock’s door. He’s definitely asleep by now. John rolls over, grabs a spare pillow and squeezes it, as if that’ll force him to sleep. They can talk about it tomorrow.

 

.

.

.

 

Oh, hell.

 

If he doesn’t go now, it’ll never happen.

John kicks off his covers, takes his pillow up in arm, and throws open his door, ready to stalk down the hall and just barge his way into Sherlock’s room – but Sherlock is already here, a hand raised halfway to the door, ready to knock.

John blinks.

“Oh,” Sherlock breathes. “Uh, hi.”

John snorts, and rubs at his eyes. “Hello.”

He’s only in a nightshirt and pants sans gown; it’s obvious that he just flew out of bed, from the wild mess of his hair. “Er….fancy meeting you here.”

John giggles. Damn it’s late – “I was just on my way to see you.”

“Oh. Good.” Sherlock nods. He walks past John, and bounces over to the far left corner of the bed, like he knows that John always sleeps on the right. “I presume that this is an acceptable arrangement then.”

“God yes,” John shuts the door, and tosses his pillow to the bed. Sherlock is already burrowing under the covers, and John is shaking he can’t wait to crawl under there with him. He has one foot in the bed before Sherlock is dragging him forward, long octopus arms drawing him into his chest. John exhales happily.

“I’m so fucking glad you’re a cuddler.”

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just call me that.”

John is deliriously sleep deprived, but he can’t stop smiling anyways. He gets an arm around Sherlock’s back and he’s cool to the touch. Hair smothers around the pillow and Sherlock’s breathing is slow and steady, and John barely keeps his eyes open long enough to think this is the beginning of the end, before he’s off to sleep.

If he has nightmares... If he kicks and rolls and whines, there’s not one complaint from Sherlock that morning.

 


 

 

It doesn’t happen in the way John expected. But when does it ever?

Tonight is as normal as it gets. There's not much going on; just a small case from Lestrade, something Sherlock has already decided to push ‘till tomorrow, since it’s not really worth his time.

The withdrawal comes and goes, but there hasn’t been any major downs lately, which John takes as a good sign. Yes, Sherlock still loves a good case, but he’s not so desperate for them anymore. Last week he took an assignment from Mycroft, and that was the shock of the century. They call it 'favors', but John knows it's beyond that now. 

Chinese food is halfway thrown over the coffee table, and there’s shit telly on, and John is happy to just be lazy. Sherlock is sitting on the floor by his feet screaming about shirt sleeves and coffee stains, and it’s good. Very them.

John’s phone rings, and he turns down the TV a bit to answer it.

“Hello?”

“I assume my brother is with you.”

“Oh, Mycroft.” John looks to Sherlock, who makes an ex with his arms, so John says, “Sherlock is busy.”

“His phone went straight to voicemail, and knowing that Sherlock only switches his phone off during date nights, per your house rules, I am aware that he is sitting right next to you.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes.

John sighs, “Is it an emergency?”

“I know of his childish distaste for anonymous clients, but this time he really must suck it up and do what’s best for national security.”

He chews on his cheek for a moment. Mycroft doesn’t cry wolf – but Sherlock is already closing his eyes, knocking his head against the foot of the couch – so John says fuck god and country, “So sorry, but the Consulting Detective and his Sexy Sidekick are unavailable until Monday morning. Please leave a message after the beep!”

“John!”

“Beeeeeep!” John calls, and then hangs up with a click. Sherlock is staring at him slack jawed, and John tosses his phone onto the side table. “We probably don’t have long before he storms down our door.”

He nearly jumps when Sherlock stands abruptly. His eyes are hot, staring down John with a laser focus that leaves him exposed.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” Sherlock grabs John by the wrist and hauls him to his feet. “Walk to my bedroom or I will carry you there.”

John laughs incredulously, and lets Sherlock herd him towards his room, “Wait- now?”

“That was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen, yes, take off your trousers.”

John laughs harder, as Sherlock kicks the door shut and reaches for the hem of his jumper. “Really? Me yelling at your brother does it for you?”

“Everything you do ‘does it for me’,” Sherlock answers factually, and wads up the jumper like it personally offended him, before chucking it somewhere. “But yes.”

John’s got a serious case of the giggles – and it’s not at all how this is supposed to go. A night of passion, candlelit dinner, flower petals and slow, passionate sex.

But Sherlock is smiling because John can not stop laughing, god. Sherlock’s thumbs come around to hook in his back beltloops and tug – and you know? This is better.

Sherlock decides to faceplant right into John’s chest, and he stays there. He’s crouched down a little to do so (achem, don’t mind it, ego), and it helps John swallow the last of his giggles.

He seems like he doesn’t know what to do next.

“Second thoughts?”

“No,” Sherlock answers, and it’s the truth. He inhales hard and holds on – and oh, John knows that feeling. He hugs back tight to let Sherlock get his bearings. He doesn’t always understand the things Sherlock does, if ever, but he knows an overwhelmed man when he sees one.

John carefully plucks Sherlock’s shirt out of his trousers, bit by bit, “What’s up?”

“I just want you. Very much.”

His voice is…raw. A raspy tone that has John swallowing hard.

“For how long?”

“Four years, two hundred days.”

John laughs, “You remember exactly?”

“It was the day you pulled rank at Baskerville.” Sherlock lifts his head from John’s shoulder, yanks on his beltloops and forces them hip to hip. His eyes are as clear and focused as ever. “I would’ve had you then.”

That certainly puts it into perspective. Bloody hell, they’ve been playing this game for a long time.

John fiddles with Sherlock’s belt, pulling it out of the loops with a leather hiss as he leans up a little to kiss him. Sherlock meets him halfway, hand coming up to brace behind his head. John always did like his hands, that he’ll admit.

The hand at his lower back is steady, but he kisses like John will disappear any moment. John gives as he gets, sucking on his tongue and smiling at the sound Sherlock makes in return. It’s like being a teenager again; Sherlock hums down his throat, and John’s body sparks like a lighter. They rock together a bit, you know, fingers in beltloops, and it’s a tease. Hot, but a tease.

John pulls back because he knows they could stand here and make out all day. “Alright – how you wanna’ do this?” He peels off his socks and throws them towards the doorway.

Sherlock’s room isn’t too messy. There’s clutter on the desk, a periodic table mounted over the bed, but nothing sentimental. No ears in a jar, either.

“Preferably on the bed.”

“Oh ha-ha.” John kicks off his denims and bounces back on the mattress. “I’m just asking if you have a preference.”

“Not necessarily,” Sherlock says, following him, one knee on the bed, hands working down the front of his shirt- fuck, fuck, John’s hard.

“Okay, cool, because I really want you to fuck me,” John says. He helps Sherlock push the shirt off and half fold it. Jesus, he’s pretty. A few moles here and there, lean and lithe all the same. John wants his mouth all over that.

Sherlock looks surprised. “Not the answer I anticipated.”

John slides up on his knees, and immediately kisses the side of Sherlock’s throat, eyes nearly rolling back when he can finally dig his fingers into real skin. Sherlock swallows hard. John purrs.

“A bad thing?”

“Unexpected,” Sherlock blurts. “I deduced that you’ve never been with a man, but there's new conflicting evidence. You obviously have little hesitation, showing either a comfortable understanding due to research, or previous experience. If you were: ‘not gay’, then there’d be signs of nervousness, sweaty palms, increased heart rate above arousal level-“

“I always meant that I was Bi,” John says, good naturedly. “Not gay. Not straight either.”

Sherlock shifts to try and read his face.  “Nothing serious then. While at Barts? No – too public, too young. In the military, of course. Not often, but often enough.”

“I’ve never had a boyfriend,” John affirms. “But yes, I did shag a few in the army. Does that change your perception of me?”

“No.” Sherlock plants a hand on his chest and pushes, and John is willing to go down easy. Sherlock crawls over him – and John never liked it this way, back then – a man trying to have the one up, forcing John this way and that just because John is, well, smaller than some –

But John never minded Sherlocks hovering before, and he doesn’t mind it now. Sherlock’s full attention is seriously doing things to his insides, so John kisses him again, wets his lips and sighs when Sherlock kisses back.

It’s been a month since that night in the park, but it doesn’t feel long at all. It’s weird – John is so desperate for it, hands soaking in as much skin as he can get; down shoulders and arms and sides –

They’ve waited years to be here, and it’s all the sweeter for it.

Sherlock kisses like he wants to own you — not at all how he kissed those women. Submissively, unmoving. No, his hand is bracketed beside John’s ear, hovering up and over for more leverage, tongue wet and warm and possessive.

John can still hear the TV playing down the hall, but Sherlock exhales hard – and suddenly that’s all John can hear. A sturdy chest sucking in air, one single bullet hole below his heart.

Sherlock pulls back and takes John’s lower lip on the way, biting it briefly between his teeth before running his mouth down John’s neck. Damn, John has no idea where he learned that, but it has his hips jerking up out of reflex.

And that’s when it all gets real. Because Sherlock is hard too, and John actually moans from the surprise of it.

Sherlock presses a hand to John’s chest, as if he’s trying to figure out where the sound came from. There’s a moment where John lays there, horrified. At least until Sherlock’s hand is down between his legs, yanking off his pants and burying his head between his thighs.

“Oh fuck!” John’s hand flies to the sheets and twists in them, downright shocked. “Sherlock!”

He’s really fucking pretty, and even more gorgeous with stretched spit slick lips and hazy eyes. His hair is all in his face, and he moves like a fucking natural, mouth warm, tongue sticky. Arousal tingles all the way up his spine, and John narrowly resists squeezing Sherlock’s head between his thighs. Sherlock gives him a look through his lashes, like he’d be happy about losing his head.

“Bloody hell,” John reaches down to push Sherlock’s bangs out of the way. “A little warning next time.”

Sherlock pulls off, licks over his bottom lip and says, “Noted,” before diving back down and swallowing his cock easy. John groans and flops his head back against the mattress. He draws his legs up, and Sherlock presses a hand beneath his thigh, forcing it higher. He swallows hard and bobs down and John nearly yells.

“Christ! Who taught you this?”

Sherlock pulls back up to grin momentarily, “It’s only observational. Human bodies are just a contortion of trigger happy nerves, the fun part is just figuring out how each one is wired.” He digs his thumb into John’s thigh, and he moans from it, “Like if I press here. That obviously feels good, so it’s only common sense that this-“ Sherlock digs into his hipbone, and John squirms, nearly kicking, “-won’t be pleasurable. Although it might be, to the right person.”

“Already figured out that much, huh?” John swallows. “I should scold you for deducing me in bed, but it’s kind of sexy.”

Sherlock laughs, and it’s beautiful. “Sex is a science.”

“Not really,” John grips the back of Sherlock’s head and tugs, utterly pleased to hear him moan from it. “Sometimes things just feel good. It doesn’t need an explanation.” John pauses, “I don’t know how to feel about you being a natural at blowies though.”

Sherlock tips his head and bites into the meat of his thigh – not hard, but enough leave little indents from his teeth. “I won’t let you rest until I’ve learned everything about you, John Watson.” He bites again.

“Hope you got lube then,” John says. “Cause I’m sure as hell not moving.”

Sherlock halfheartedly gestures to the bedside drawer, now completely enveloped in rubbing his cheek against the side of John’s cock, and kissing up his navel. John manages to fumble around the drawer – there is definitely something sticky in here, and he is not going to look and see what it is – before he finds lube and a condom. Wait.

“Are these mine?”

“Mmmm, took them from your room.”

“Tit,” John calls, and pushes them into Sherlock’s hands. “Here. There’s no time to learn like the present.”

Sherlock noses into his belly, before sitting back up on his heels. “Show me what to do.”

Fuck, that voice.

“Come here.” John watches him lather lube between his fingers and says, “Little more. That’s it.” John grabs Sherlock by the wrist, and guides his fingers down between his legs. “Its uh. Been a while, so we’ll have to go slow. One at a time, alright?”

Sherlock makes a noise and doesn’t even hesitate to turn his wrist, and press in his middle finger up to the third knuckle.

“Oh!” John flops back. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s the arousal that catches him by surprise. This was usually the annoying bit – but Sherlock is staring holes into him; eyes darting from his lips, to his chest, to his cock, back up and down, reading John’s reaction as he prods in his ring finger. Ah, there’s the stretch. John groans.

“Does that hurt?”

“No?” John peels open his eyes. He tries to wiggle down and throw his thighs over Sherlock’s as he kneels. “It’s – hard to explain. You’re gonna’ want to try and mov – oh fuck— yeah, yeah,” John squirms again, trying to shove a pillow under his hips. Sherlock decides to move his fingers, in and out, and it’s starting to feel fantastic. John sighs, “Your hands were made for this, love.”

Sherlock smiles, crooks them hard as a response, and John fucking yells.

“Fuck, oh god!”  John clamps a hand around his cock to keep himself from coming, and squeezes his eyes shut. His legs shake in Sherlock’s lap, and he gasps, “Fuck!”  

Sherlock goes still.

“Oh,” he blinks.

“D-Didn’t think you’d find it that fast,” John chokes. His body throbs down to his toes. Sherlock’s face is blank. Until it isn’t.

You’d guess it was fucking Christmas. Sherlock’s eyes light up like a fire, before he’s pressing in three fingers this time, long slender digits up against his prostate, and John thrashes.

“Sherlock!”

“Whot? I’m just expected to not do that now?” Sherlock lifts one of John’s legs up higher, and starts to fuck John with his fingers in earnest. “Unrealistic.”

John holds the fuck on, biting, “This is gonna’ end real fuckin’ soon, Sherlock.”

Sherlock speaks slow, stretching his fingers shallowly, the other hand dragging up and down his outer hip.

“You feel so much.”

John pauses long enough to decide that he’s had enough laying around. Quick, to catch Sherlock off guard, he draws out his fingers by the wrist, twisting him and rolling until Sherlock is flat on his back, and John is sitting in his lap.

“And you don’t?”

John rocks back just to fuck with him – because Sherlock hasn’t bothered to take off his trousers yet, and he’s seriously going to regret that. John’s thighs are sticky from the lube, and he’s probably going to ruin the fabric, but whatever. He grinds back on his cock and smirks at the longwinded groan he gets in return.

“What’s the science of that, Sociopath?”

“Point made, John-“ Sherlock rasps. He reaches down for his zipper, but John beats him to it, rubbing him through the fabric with his palm. He’s hot and hard and a lovely turn on – John is definitely not in danger of going soft anytime soon. 

Sherlock tenses, fingers digging into John’s knees.

“Fuck-“

Christ, he looks like he could come right here. Which would be amazing, albeit a little boring, so John shows him an example of mercy and lets go. The last of the clothing gets tossed to the floor, and John reaches for the condom.

“Wait,” Sherlock grabs his wrist. “I need to prepare you longer.”

“It’s okay.”

“It’ll hurt.”

“Probably,” John rips open the condom with his teeth and rolls it on Sherlock in two strokes. “You’ve got a great cock, can’t wait to sit on it.”

Sherlock makes a face that John can say he’s never seen before. Something open and desperate and surprised. He pats around for the lube bottle and hands it to John, “Fuck, use more of this, then.”

John takes it, and lets Sherlock hold him at the waist. He sits up on his knees, already shaking, absolutely gagging for it, and takes him in bit by bit. Fingers dig beneath his ribs, and John pants through it, trying to remember every moment of this. Of Sherlock’s breathing and thighs on thighs and a burn so good John can’t remember why they waited this long. Sherlock’s head is flopped back in the pillows. He looks annoyingly beautiful at this angle. Swollen lips, clear skin and sharp cheekbones. He glances back to John and stares right through him, and John’s body raises with goosebumps.

“You’re stunning,” Sherlock says. Sweeps a hand up his thigh and squeezes.

“Likewise, love,” John breathes.

Sherlock shifts impatiently, and John chokes on a moan, one hand flying up to brace himself on the headboard, the other covering his mouth.

“Don’t you dare,” Sherlock snaps.

“Surely you don’t want Ms Hudson to know everything,” John tries to joke, but he’s sweating. He wants to move; his body is sizzling with it. He breathes.

“Gone until three. Left twenty minutes ago to do the shopping.” Sherlock grabs his ass with one hand, and draws John’s hand away from his mouth with the other. Their fingers thread, and it’s so sweet John laughs.

“Good to move then?”

Sherlock snaps his hips up in response, and oh the noises John makes. He’s not usually so loud – but his body is burning, heart beating out of his chest.

He might not be the fittest bloke there is, but John can at least pride himself on a bit of stamina. He raises up on his knees and rides Sherlock for filth, squeezes his hands and uses the leverage of the headboard to kiss him dirty. Full of spit and tongue and it’s wonderful. It’s everything.

Sherlock is a quick learner. When John starts to shake, he pushes them up against the wall, both on their knees, and fucks him from the behind. So steady and good that John just takes it, closes his eyes and memorizes the feeling of lips against his neck.

 


 

“What are you doing?”

Sherlock is beautifully naked, sheets around his waist, John’s laptop perched on a pillow. He’s typing away, eyes skimming the screen too fast for any normal human to read.

“I had an epiphany about the Cann Hall case.”

John rubs his eyes, and rolls to plant his face in Sherlock’s thigh.

“While you were fucking me?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sherlock says. “It was after I fucked you.”

John rolls his eyes, and tries to get a good look at the screen. He’s scrolling through Wikipedia articles on King Henry VIII.

“Please tell me you know who that is.”

“I’m well aware now.”

“Jesus,” John yawns. He stops, and blinks. “Wait, isn’t this the case Lestrade gave you? The one you labeled a pathetic five?”

“I’m considering it at least a seven,” Sherlock says. “I recall a murder like this happening fifty years ago in America.”

“Copycat killers. Lovely.”

“Well-“ Sherlock starts, and John immediately tunes him out. Not that he doesn’t care, but he knows Sherlock will tell him all over again later. And he’s really fucking relaxed, so. Sod off.

He doesn’t bother telling Sherlock to turn the laptop off and come back to bed, knowing it’ll get him nowhere. So he snuggles in and closes his eyes, and ten minutes later, he hears the laptop shut.

“Sorry,” Sherlock whispers, sliding down and dragging John into his side.

“Mmmm. You’re washing the sheets tomorrow.”

“I’ll accept your terms.”

John purrs into his shoulder, “Not a bad first time, then?”

“Need more data,” Sherlock answers, and kisses him.

There’s a knock at the door, brisk and familiar.

“Sherlock dear! Your brother is here to see you!”

To John’s utter surprise, Sherlock perks up completely.

“Oh, this is going to be so much fun,” Sherlock grins wolfish. He shouts, “Let him in!”

“Sherlock!” John yells.

“Please let me have this. I only get to see the look on his face once, and I want to remember it properly.”

“I am not getting dragged into this,” John says, and moves to sit up so he can dress, but the bedroom door is thrown open, bouncing off the doorstop.

“Sherlock, would it kill you to answer your-“

Mycroft stops short, dressed head to toe in a bespoke, umbrella tucked under his arm -

 -and okay, yeah. The look on his face was kind of worth it.

 


 

As much as he claims to hate it, there's something classic about a rooftop chase. 

 

Well, John might just be in a particularly good mood today. 

Sherlock went left and John went right, chasing two twins (ha!!!!!) that have been terrorizing local bank owners. It was a favor called in by Sebastian, and god John really hates that guy, but with new evidence in light, there's not much that could tamper John's mood now. 

The Lasecki twins are tall and lanky, but incredibly fast, and John knicks his shoulder on a pipe jumping around a chimney trying to keep up. The kid scales down the building like fucking spiderman, and John has to find a long way round. His shoes slosh in mud, but he hears footsteps distant down the street, so John goes running down the back of the alley in hopes of cutting him off. He draws out his gun from his waistband when he rounds the corner, but he wasn't expecting Alex Lasecki to be waiting with a metal rod. 

The ground is suddenly very real and very hard. John groans and curses, and knows he has a concussion almost immediately.  He assumes his head is bleeding, but he rolls quickly to avoid the rod swinging his way. Oh hell, everything is swimming. He swallows the nausea and blocks another blow with his arm.  Damn, he really thought this was going to be a good day. 

"Lexxy!" The second twin comes around the corner. "Lexxy I los 'em!" 

"The tall bloke?" 

"Yeah - we gotta' move bruv, he's a quick one." 

"No-" Alex Lasecki jerks out of his arm, "Not while this guys' still kickin'. He'll blab." 

John tries to find his pistol, but everything is upside down. He's not sure if they have it, or if it flew across the alley, but he needs to find Sherlock - needs to make sure he's okay - 

"Aight, kip 'em quick 'cause our rides workin' overtime." 

Shit. He tries to kick out for the nearest leg, but he's whacked in the stomach, and John wheezes from it. He covers his head on instinct. The best he can do is try to protect the spot that's gushing blood. He needs to guard his stomach; they missed his ribs that time, but they won't the next. There's not enough time to decide, another boot catches him across the face.

"My my, you’re going to regret that." 

Even half-dead, Sherlock's silhouette is immediately distinguishable against the streetlights. There's cop cars whirring far off in the distance, and John smiles through the blood. Sherlock's voice is ice cold, "Get down on the ground." The twins are hardly given a second before Sherlock pulls the trigger, and fires a shot right into Larry Lasecki's shoulder. "Stop resisting," he says flatly. The kid rolls to his knees and wails. 

John knows the sound of that bullet. That’s his gun.

"Aye! We'll confess! We'll-" Sherlock shoots Alex in the thigh, and the second twin goes down. 

"Jesus, Sherlock," John croaks, "It's okay-"

Sherlock tosses the gun. His eyes are freezing blue, cheeks scuffed with blood from a fight. His body language is murderous. Enough to give John chills. 

He hums, "Wow John, you two must've had quite the fight." He picks up the pipe that Alex Lasecki had moments ago. Twirls it once in his grip, and then swings it like a baseball bat, right into the back of Alex's head. 

"Sherlock!" 

The kid goes out cold. Larry is screaming bloody murder, one hand over his wound, the other outstretched. He's crying - and John frowns. They always talk such tough shit, these kids. Can dish it out but can never take it. To spare the second twin he says,

"Sherlock, really. I'm dying here." 

The rod clatters. 

"Shit, John your head -" 

"Concussion, don't move me." John closes his eyes, and tries to pry them back open again, knowing what a bad idea it'd be to fall asleep right now. Sherlock rips off his gloves with his teeth — which is something John will have to remember later — and starts to press his hands up and down John's body. Methodical, but shaky. 

"Think they — missed my ribs," John clears his throat. 

"This one's dislocated," Sherlock's voice sounds distant. Unlike him. He presses a little, and John winces. "Medical is coming." 

"Okay." John tries to drown out Larry's crying, and blinks hard to keep himself conscious. "Don't let me fall asleep." 

"Fuck, fuck," Sherlock feels around his head so, so gently. "You had a gun John." 

"Caught me — by surprise,” John grins. Its too fucking bright out, which is crazy because it's one in the morning. John closes his eyes. 

"Hey!" Sherlock shouts, "John!" 

"Piss off, I'm awake." 

"This isn't funny," Sherlock's voice shakes. "You look like one of those vegan smoothies the hypomaniac used to drink." His fingers brace against John's ears, like he's trying to keep John's brain from spilling onto the floor. It's a cute thought. John can feel that it's only a gash. 

John manages a laugh, and it hurts, "My ex? Dana did not have hypomania." 

"Yes she did, and you saw her for a week, she can hardly be called an ex." 

"My my, when I'm not bleeding out on an alley floor we're going to discuss how jealous you are." John wheezes, and ahh, there's the rib, "How many times did you cockblock me?" 

"What is it you once said? Pot calling the kettle black?”

John laughs, and he realizes that the loud screeching in his ears are police sirens. Lestrade's voice comes through, "Fuckin’ hell! John, you alive there?" 

"It looks worse than it is." 

"He's lying," Sherlock says. "Get him in that ambulance now or I'm shooting someone else." 

"Someone else?!" John assumes Lestrade has just noticed the bleeding twins on the floor, because he curses, "God damn it." 

They're lifting him into a stretcher, but John turns his head to say, "Don't arrest him. It's just going to be that much more of a pain in my ass when I have to bail him out." 

 Lestrade sighs, and dejectedly points, "Get in that ambulance Holmes." 

You don't have to tell him twice. John hears him scramble into the back — and his vision getting too fuzzy to tell who's who. Someone is cutting open his shirt and another is sticking an IV in his arm, but John undoubtedly knows who's holding his hand, so John squeezes it tight before he passes out. 

 


 

"Don't you think we've woken up here too many times?" 

“Ah yes, but you do find normalcy just as boring as I do.”

 

John grins, and barely peeks open an eye to see Sherlock perched in the chair next to his hospital bed, knees to his chest, texting away on his phone. He looks tired, but not the worst John’s seen him.

“If the bar for normalcy is above having tubes up your nose, then I’d say I wouldn’t mind a bit of a lazy day in.” 

“You say that,” Sherlock says, “and yet you’re still here.” 

“Oh, so it’s my fault now?” John means it as a tease, but Sherlock gets very serious very fast. Eyebrows scrunched, knuckles tight on his phone. He looks at John dead on.

“No. Splitting up was my idea. It’s my fault you’re hurt.” 

John reaches out, and he’s just too far to grab Sherlock’s hand, so Sherlock quickly takes it. 

“I’m kidding, I’m not mad.” John opens his mouth to ask about his report, but Sherlock finishes for him, 

"They'd rather keep you a week, but seeing as you're a general practitioner, I argued for two nights." 

"Ahh," John pats his hand, "this is what I keep you for." 

"I only-" 

"No, shut up, I love you."  John picks up the medical report, which is conveniently waiting for him at his bedside table. Sherlock continues to stare at him. “You’re not hurt, are you?”

“No.”

"Then why are you still here?" 

"Well, seeing the status of our romantic relationship, it would be socially wrong to leave yo-"

"Don't break us down into a science, you know I hate when you do that," John says, skimming the report. "I'm awake, I'm alive. Aren't you going to go catch the head honcho? We both know those chavs weren't smart enough to orchestrate that triple homicide by themselves." 

Sherlock takes a moment to blink, before he says, "You do realize that I'm not above blowing you right here in the middle of Bart's, right?" 

John hides his laugh behind the clipboard, "Go away! And take Lestrade with you. We can't both be holed up here." 

Sherlock whisks around the room, picking up his phone and slipping on his coat, "I have two leads, one more promising than the other. It might require a day trip out of London." 

"Blow me when you're back, then." 

Sherlock nearly trips over his own foot, and John narrowly resists beaming with self-satisfaction. Sherlock is always so light on his feet and frustratingly coordinated, that it's worth celebrating when John gets him to be anything but. 

Sherlock leans over the bed railing and plants one on him, saying, "Heal quickly. Quit pretending you feel better than you do. The nausea should hit in about ten minutes-" 

"Yes, I'm aware-" 

"There's a waste bin on your left." 

"Thanks, love." 

Sherlock smiles at that, a little toothy, and it makes him look young. But he's gone in an instant, the door clattering shut behind him, and then it's just the beat of his heart monitor. John closes his eyes. He really does feel like shit - but it's not bad enough to keep Sherlock at his bedside. Not when the game is on. 

 

Socially wrong. 

 

Sometimes it feels like Sherlock is treating this like any other experiment.  As if he read Dating 101 overnight, and now he's testing each theory and stuffing away the results in his palace. John isn't sure why he'd expect anything different - but John can't knock him for trying, at least. 

His heart squeezes. John wonders if they're capable of loving the same. Or if love is an entirely different concept to Sherlock; data, chemical compounds, math. 

John tells himself it's not worth thinking about.

But the mental imagine of Sherlock with the rod is forever ingrained in his mind. Twirling it once around his wrist. One single crack against bone. An expression capable of murder. 

The nurse comes in. 

 


 

“Boring!” Sherlock quips, and the door slams not even a moment after. John rubs a hand over his face, and drags it down slow. There’s sniffles on the other side of the door, footsteps, and then silence.

John gives a look from over the back of his chair. “Sherlock, seriously? Her nan was kidnapped in her own home.”

“Nope,” Sherlock pops the p, and swirls back around to type something into John’s laptop. “She eloped with a thirty-year old heir in Abu Dhabi.”

“You don’t honestly know that.”

“Don’t I?” Sherlock turns around the laptop to show an article written in Arab. There’s a blurry photograph of an old lady and a prince.

John sighs, “And it would’ve killed you to tell Mrs. Maresca that?”

“I’m a consulting detective, not a family counselor,” Sherlock snaps the laptop shut.

“Damnit Jim I’m a doctor, not a zoo keeper!”

Sherlock pauses halfway to the kitchen, and turns to look at John like he grew a second head. John just laughs and slouches down in his chair.

“Are you quite alright?”

“Yeah. You’re a bit of an asshole.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“You could’ve handled that with more…tact.”

“Not really my style,” Sherlock drawls, and reappears with tea. John takes it – but not after smelling it skeptically. “Oh – quit it. It’s not drugged.”

“Can I honestly trust you after last week?” John sips.

Sherlock gives an eyeroll, “You were recovering from a concussion and refused bedrest. I told you already, I had no other choice.”

“No other choice,” John mocks. Alright, well, he did throw a bit of a fit, but he’s a doctor! He knows when he feels fine!

Whatever. John sets the tea aside and crosses one leg over the other. “So why are we faffing about with clients. We both know Mycroft has been blowing up your phone today.”

Sherlock takes a turn, and John expects him to collapse dramatically into his own chair – but he chirps, “Budge up,” and squishes half into John’s lap.

“Ow, really!”

“I know what the case is already,” Sherlock says. He’s close now, enough to count his eyelashes. John wraps his arms around him just to keep the idiot from falling off the side.

John sniffs, “You’re avoiding it then.”

“N…no.” Sherlock reaches for the back of John’s head, and rubs his fingers down the soft shaved patch. The stitches came out two days ago, but it’s still a little tender. “I’m…asking for permission.”

“Oh?”

“It involves Irene Adler,” Sherlock says.

John swallows. His stomach pits, as if on command. It takes him a moment to process it fully. “Oh.” He clears his throat, “Is she in trouble?”

“To simplify, you could say that.”

“Well, um. She’s your friend. You should go.” Wow, that was hard to say. John looks away, to avoid Sherlock reading his face. “But you know I can’t go with you.”

“Yes.”

“Then that’s that then-“

Sherlock grabs him by the chin, and forces eye contact, “Four days time. I will  be back.”

Don’t fall in love with her.

John says instead, “Right then.”

 

It takes six days.

Sherlock comes back with bruises around his neck, and a naked Irene Adler wrapped up in his coat. John kisses him hello, and takes off for an impromptu shift at the clinic, because he doesn’t want Sherlock to see him be disgustingly human. 

Irene is long gone by the time John makes it home, but she’s left behind a weird air about the flat. He’s not sure why he dislikes her so much – well, no. He does know.

Years later, and Sherlock is still willing drop everything to run to her. But he asked first, and as an understanding and loving boyfriend, John said yes. He shouldn’t be upset, but he still is.

He moves slowly around the kitchen in hopes that if Sherlock is asleep, he’ll stay so. But the floorboard under his foot creaks, and arms wrap around him from behind, record fast.

John sighs, “Where’d she go?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yes you do.”

“I missed you,” Sherlock admits against his ear. “Impossible to get anything done right without you.”

“Is that why it took you six days?”

“I’d say so.”

John turns in his arms, and his stomach churns at the bruising ringed around Sherlock’s throat.

“God, what did they do to you?”

“You would only be more upset if I told you,” Sherlock says, brutally honest. And he’s right.

It’s been a long week, a long month, so John faceplants in his chest and holds on tight. Sherlock smells clean from the shower, like aftershave and cigarettes. John isn’t sure what he’s feeling. He wants to be mad, to be jealous, to be irrationally upset - but Sherlock is breathing into his hair - like he truly did miss John, and the feeling drips away.

“I missed you too, idiot.”

 


 

 

It’s absolutely foul outside. Rain, hail, all the works. It takes a thirty-minute shower just to shake the chill.

Sherlock ditched him at the crime scene – not so usual anymore, but it still happens. John doesn’t take much offense, he actually wasn’t too against an early night in. Especially on a night like this.

John dries off his hair with a hand towel (it definitely is time to do the laundry) and puts on the warmest pajamas he’s got. By the time he’s reached the living room, Sherlock is already home. Sopping wet of course, any minute now Ms. Hudson will come up shouting about mold and water damage.

“Oh, you’re back already,” John wraps the towel around his neck. “Are those for a case?”

Sherlock is staring dejectedly at a bouquet of flowers. They’re completely trashed from the rain, soaked through, petals dropping with the weight of the water. They might’ve been beautiful, hours ago.

“No,” Sherlock says, trying to give them a shake, but sending petals everywhere.  “They were actually for you.”

John’s heart gives a hilariously pathetic squeeze. “What now?”

“I believe you’ve been cross with me,” Sherlock holds the flowers up to the hall light, squinting skeptically. “Molly said…”

He looks like a fucking puppy, and John is hit with an overwhelming urge to cry.

“Oh god, come here,” John exhales shakily. “Drop that – just –“ the flowers fall with a flop, “-come here.”

Sherlock is in no better shape than those flowers, but John reaches up and kisses him anyways. His lips are cold, and there’s droplets in his hair, and John kisses him. The sweet, surprised look on Sherlock’s face has John swallowing a lump in his throat.

He laughs instead, “You thought I was cross with you, and you ditched me at a bloody motel?”

Sherlock blinks. “You wanted to go home early anyways.”

Of course. John sighs happily, and presses his cheek against Sherlock’s. “You’re freezing, lets get you in a shower.”

“But you obviously just stepped out.”

“I can take another one.”

Sherlock’s teeth don’t stop chattering until John slides on his knees. The marks he’ll have from the tile are so, so worth it for the sounds Sherlock makes. Fingers at his neck, low moans that bounce around the bathroom. Music at it’s finest.

It’s late when they finally make it to bed. Rain is hitting the windows at a heavy rate, but John throws an extra blanket on the bed, and soon all is right with the world.

Sherlock combs his way through John’s hair absent mindedly. Long strokes, from his forehead to the back of his neck. There’s now a little scar there – something John can’t see, but Sherlock likes to trace over it.

“So you’re not mad at me.”

“No.”

“But you’re upset.” Sherlock plays with the cartilage of his ear. “It’s not your sister, she started rehab three months ago and you’ve been satisfied with her commitment. You find the clinic mundane but you enjoy the routine. You’re not unwell.” A hand presses at his forehead, checking his temperature. “Full marks.”

“Your concern is touching,” John fits his hand right between Sherlock’s shoulder blades. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been in a right mood.”

“With subtletly. You have been trying to hide it from me.”

John smiles, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. He pushes back Sherlock’s curls, still damp and pliable. The rain is hitting the window, and their bed is warm, and John finds it in his heart to genuinely ask.

“Are you sure that you love me?”

Sherlock’s eyes widen completely. He goes rigid. Ramrod straight. It steals all the air between them. The rain sounds louder than it is.

“Sometimes I just. Wonder.” John has to fight to keep eye contact, face going red at the proximity. “From someone who always went on about sentiment and human error – you know I… it’d break me if I ever found out you were pretending. I want you to know that.”

In an instant, Sherlock looks utterly livid, and John thinks oh, I’m about to be yelled at again –

But it’s gone just as quick as it came. He takes a deep breath. Instead, Sherlock grabs him by the back of the neck and forces them nose to nose.

 “I’ll admit I’m not – I don’t have adequate experience in romance,”  Sherlock manages. “But I’ve never been unsure about this.” He has the gall to look guilty, “I’m sorry if I made you feel that way.”

“No-“ John leans up and over him, arm bracketing in the pillows. “I’m just horrified one day I’ll wake up and – and it’ll be over. Nothing good in my life ever lasts and I –“ he breathes. “You’re my best friend. And I love you.”

“You were always it for me,” Sherlock replies, open and raw, and John is reminded of that night at Tapas. John’s own words, given right back. Sherlock mumbles, “I’ve been told I don’t have a heart, but even so, I would most definitely give it to you.”

Wow, the universe certainly wants John to cry tonight. He kisses Sherlock once, lips parted, a gentle, tingling press. It’s soft and pure and everything they’re not, but are. He pulls away.

“Don’t go where I can’t follow.”

Sherlock smiles, “I did read that one.”

“You’ve read Tolkien but haven’t seen Star Trek?”

“It was for a case-“

“Oh, of course,” John laughs, kissing him again, “Of course.”

 


 

 His eyes ache from staring at the screen for so long, but John knows if he doesn't type it out now, he'll never remember it all. He can always ask Sherlock to recall the details, but John has learned to not always trust him.

Sherlock doesn't publicly take credit for police cases anymore. Yet John still finds it important to log it somewhere. Sherlock is, at his very core, brilliant, and London's crime ring would be all the better without him. Sherlock can deflect the credit all day, John is still going to write about how he found a Russian spy by the shape of her teeth. 

There's a one-man symphony playing from downstairs. It's soft and beautiful, and not the way Sherlock plays when he's thinking, but rather, the way he plays when he finally isn't. 

 John leans back against the headboard, and watches the line blink at the bottom of his page. There's a popup that won't stop telling him his inbox is full. Yes, John is aware.

His view count has more than doubled since they uh, more or less 'came out', if you'd even call it that. He gets all kinds of questions, most of them comments about how brave they are - but John thinks they've done much braver than be in love. Well...

John reaches over to the bedside table, for the photograph of Mary still there. He still misses her, but the photograph doesn't give him so much grief to look at, anymore. Two years, this next Monday. He wishes he could tell her everything.

His days are a mixing bowl. Overwhelming happiness and a distant, nagging pain in the back of his heart that will never go away. But this thing he has now, with Sherlock. It's right, John's decided. Finally right. Their date nights come after a murder, they give books rather than flowers, there's more flesh than food in their fridge and their friends are a detective inspector, an ex-cartel boss and a mortician. Nothing makes any fucking sense, and it's better that way. 

He sets the photograph back, righting it beneath the lamp, and shuts his laptop. He'll remember to finish it tomorrow. 

There's a shout from downstairs, "John! We have a client!" 

John is down the stairs before he even has time to hesitate. He's hardly reached the bottom step when Sherlock catches him around the waist, and spins him back into the kitchen. 

"He's a hypnotist," Sherlock whispers, low. "Works for the American government, his accent is god-awful. Don't look into his eyes for prolonged periods of time." Sherlock is in that pretty purple shirt today; John gives him a quick once over, because he can. Tall and slender, confident as always, a little older, a little better.

"Don't worry," John pats his hip. "You're the only bloke I have steamy eye contact with." 

"I'm really not joking, dear." 

"Yes yes fine," John peaks around the corner to see the man sitting in The Chair. He definitely looks American. "Kind of handsome, isn't he?" 

Sherlock gives a flat look, eyes colorless in the white kitchen light.

"Honestly, John. Even my brother wants nothing to do with him." 

"What does he want then?" 

"Haven't the slightest idea." Sherlock smiles, "Ready to find out?" 

 Yes, always.