Actions

Work Header

For you, there's only me

Chapter Text

John walked into the flat after an awful day at the surgery. He’d been thrown up on twice—which is really, twice more than he ever wanted—had to admit a young teenager when he’d seen the slashed scars on his wrists and arms (and been punched by said teenager trying to get him to reveal them from under his shirtsleeves), and been dumped once again by his latest girlfriend Marie, for Sherlock-related reasons (wasn’t it always? Couldn’t it just once be because he’s too short, or too old, or just really anything about him once in awhile? Why did it seem that everything revolved around Sherlock? Like his life was Sherliocentric).

Sherlock was sulking in his regular spot on the couch. It had been an entire five days without an interesting case (because of course there were always cases, just none worthy enough of the Great Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective). The last one was “brilliant, fantastic, even better than the triple murder in the locked office with the baby,” and all those other words Sherlock never used to describe John.

Okay, so John was pathetic. He was a completely, utterly, pathetic excuse for a 40-year old man who was mostly straight (though apparently not anymore), who had somehow fallen for the most inaccessible man in the entire world. A man who was married to his work, had the emotional control of a toddler, and who was literally so close and yet so unattainably far from him. Which was why he had been trying to date Marie, of course, because if he waited for Sherlock to magically fall for him, he would have waited a hundred years. And then some. John sighed.

“Have you moved at all today?” He asked in way of greeting. Sherlock grunted in response, not moving from his scrunched up position on the sofa. “Well, you’ve got to eat today. I’m making dinner and you are eating it.”

“Eating is bor—”

“And keeping you alive,” John interrupted. “You have not eaten for three days, Sherlock. You need to eat.”

“I go more than three days without food when I’m on a case, John,” Sherlock whinged, drawing out the John so it sounded more like Jaaawn. John wondered what his name would sound like on Sherlock’s lips when he came. No. No, he did not think that. Because then he would be walking around with a half-aroused penis, and it makes it quite difficult to cook with all those fantasies of Sherlock swirling around in his head.

“I’m making risotto. You like risotto, Sherlock.” God, it was like cajoling a kid into eating his vegetables.

“Mergh,” was the response John got. He accepted it as an ‘Okay John. Thank you so much for cooking and looking after me,’ and set about starting dinner.

 

 

With Sherlock sitting across from him and scooting food around on his plate (“Sherlock, I can tell how much you’ve eaten whether or not you’ve moved it around on your plate a hundred times to make it look like less.”), John always had an excuse to watch him. God, of course Sherlock was infuriating 80 percent of the time. Who was he kidding, 98 percent of the time. But it was the intimate meals like this, with a meter between them, Sherlock eating the food John had cooked, and the shared time together, that John loved. It was when he got to see the Sherlock without the arrogance and drama.

The sun was about to set, and with the lack of lights on, the sunlight filtered through Sherlock’s hair, catching on the curls and angles of his face. John felt like he could breathe Sherlock in.

“Why do you always insist on dating such insipid women one after the other if you know they won’t last more than a few weeks?” Sherlock broke the silence in his usual snarky way. Of course he knew Marie had dumped him by looking at John’s cuffs or something.

John blinked a few times to bring himself back from blatantly admiring his flatmate. God, he probably had fucking hearts in his eyes. “Because that’s what people do, Sherlock. We try to find someone to spend time with and love and get laid.” Because you won’t date me.

“People are idiots.”

John shrugged. “But they’re happy idiots.” Sherlock gave him such a look of disgust John was tempted to laugh. “Love makes people happy.”

With a derisive snort, Sherlock pushed his plate away. “Stop, I’m getting sick.”

John let go of a giggle. “Stop being overdramatic, you twat.”

This right now was good. What they were was good.

Chapter Text

With John being the number one most common name in England from the 1500s through the middle of the 20th century, Sherlock couldn’t statistically expect to only run into one John in all his life.

When Sherlock was five, he made his first friend. Or at least he thought he had. After four years of growing up with Mycroft looking over him (sort of, because Mycroft was older and had better things to do than look over his squirrely, overly-inquisitive baby brother), Sherlock met a boy who was not a Holmes. His name was John. Not John Watson. Just another John. The first day they met, John chased after Sherlock when he got excited about seeing a new species of papilionem. He laughed when Sherlock couldn’t continue the chase across the stream near the estate. He ate one of Mummy’s jelly sandwiches with Sherlock for lunch. Sherlock smiled at him.

But then school started that fall and there were other kids. Nicer, funnier, not smarter, but at five that didn’t matter. At least to John. The first morning of school, John sat next to Sherlock. By afternoon, the class had decided Sherlock was not nice, not funny, too smart. And John had sat with them.

Sherlock had shut himself in his room and cried into his pillow. He hated the betrayal; hated the humiliation. Mycroft had knocked on his door and pleaded Sherlock to let him in. When Sherlock finally crept out in the early hours of dawn, Mycroft was asleep on the floor, the cold plate of Sherlock’s uneaten dinner next to him.

That morning, Sherlock concluded that other people were idiots.

 

 

When Sherlock was 10, he was at boarding school and Mycroft was at Uni. His peers no longer ignored him. They instead took great pleasure in insulting and jeering at him. He was the butt of seemingly every joke. Sherlock threw himself into his studies, and brick by brick, his walls were built up. That autumn, he concluded that he was only liked by Holmeses. If they weren’t a Holmes, they couldn’t stand him. He quietly accepted that conclusion and waited for the holidays when he could go home and Mycroft would come back.

But when Mycroft came back, he was different. He was aloof and disinterested in everything Sherlock had to say. Mummy had whispered one evening that Mycroft had had his heart broken by a girl in his classes at Uni. He had dated her and fallen in love, and she had changed her mind and walked away. Over the holidays, Mycroft built his own walls, and it seemed that they were impermeable to everyone, including a Holmes.

 

 

When Sherlock was 19, he discovered drugs. Cocaine didn’t settle his mind or make everything stop. But it made everything not matter. And that was good enough. Sherlock adored the feel of his skin prickling with excitement, the roar of the blood coursing through his body. In those moments, it didn’t matter that he was the youngest in his classes. It didn’t matter that the closest thing he had to a friend was the janitor who didn’t speak English and whose only interaction was a glance at him during late nights in the lab—in other words, not really even an acquaintance.

 

 

It was when Sherlock was 22—God knows how he made it that long without an overdose or accidentally walking into the Thames high as the cirrus clouds overhead—that he met DI Lestrade from Scotland Yard. “Met” is a loose term. More like was found by him, in a pile of filthy clothes at the end of one of London’s many alleys. Sherlock had miscalculated his last dose, too anxious to just get it into his system, and now his heart rate was too fast to the point of painful, the sideways alley dizzying and confusing.

Mycroft found out, of course. He put Sherlock in the best rehab center in London and then disappeared back to climbing the ranks of the British government.

When Sherlock overdosed again one month later, Mummy and Father came by to visit him in rehab (courtesy of Mycroft again). The sadness and disappointment in their eyes barely made it through to him, but curled around his insides nonetheless. There it sat for the months he was forced to stay in rehab. With tears streaming down Mummy’s face, he finally promised to try to stay clean. Because what was the point of having everyone hate you, even Holmeses?

When he came out again, Mycroft moved him into his guest room to watch over Sherlock and make sure he wouldn’t relapse. He also paid off every one of Sherlock’s dealers to never sell Sherlock even an ounce of any drug under the sun. He was fine. He really was. For about a week. That was when the long bouts of frustration first arrived. Without the cocaine, all the details of the world surrounded him, bombarding him with useless information. So what if her red dress (last season, altered hem—secretary job in a young environment she’s too old for) told him she was having an affair and planning to run off with her beau? So what if the child’s diction (strong, confident, but improper grammar—thinks he got away with it) belied his cheating on spring exams? So what if that man’s tan said business trip but his shirt collar said really a trip to meet up with the boss of his side job (drug dealer) and he’s been double crossed but doesn’t know it yet. Sherlock didn’t know what to do with the information. It was all there, but had no purpose.

One evening, in a bout of frustration, Sherlock slammed the door of Mycroft’s house and stomped his way down London’s streets. And that was where he walked right into a crime scene.

The body was spread eagle on the ground outside the cafe. The police had just gotten there, and a young woman was crying hysterically into the chest of an older woman (wearing a horrid white polo, hair in a tight bun, eyes somber but scanning the shop for unrepairable blemishes from the crime scene—must be the owner).

Lestrade recognized Sherlock right away—it’s not often you find a boy wearing a badly stained expensive button down shirt and dress shoes but missing his trousers, so high he doesn’t remember his name, in a back alley. And it’s not every day you meet a man with a strange name like Mycroft, dressed from two centuries ago, coming to whisk said boy away without another word, and all paperwork regarding the incident magically disappearing.

And now Lestrade will certainly never forget Sherlock when he ducks right under the police tape to walk around the body, heedless of the cries of “Get out of here, don’t touch anything, leave!” Lestrade is about to arrest Sherlock himself when Sherlock starts spouting off observations and solves the murder right there (the cafe owner’s husband fell in love and started an affair with the hysterical girl, then killed the employee when he threatened to tell his wife, obvious), less than five minutes after walking past the tape.

Sherlock still got shoved into the back of Lestrade’s police car. But without the handcuffs, and only to talk.

In the end, Lestrade had brought him along on two more cases, and even discussed further collaborations between Sherlock and Scotland Yard. But only if he never came high (“Even just a little bit, Sherlock. I’ll throw you out and then call Mycroft” (how did he have Mycroft’s number?)) and learned to dress professionally (“Scotland Yard has a public image we need to uphold”), which Sherlock scoffed at (“I’m serious, Sherlock. You can’t come high, and you can’t come half dressed”) but agreed to nonetheless.

Sherlock decided to call himself a Consulting Detective.

 

 

When Sherlock hears John Watson’s name for the first time, he briefly remembers a little boy named John who had so easily let his thoughts be influenced by the other children at school. Who had so quickly changed alliances because Sherlock was different. Sherlock tucks it away in his mind palace, back in the folder from three decades ago. He’ll delete it later. Besides, he heard that that John had moved to America and married a woman named Mary. Two boring names; they belonged together.

 

 

Sherlock lives in the present. He thrives with logic and reality. But if there was one thing he wished could be different, it would be to be lovable.

He didn’t always think about this. In fact, the thought never even crossed his mind until he met John Watson. Well, maybe a bit after.

John Watson was one of those people who was always polite to everyone, even when he was nearing the end of his rope. He always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and smiled even if he didn’t feel like smiling (Sherlock could tell because his eyes were not as warm; they lost a bit of their deep sea blue, and lacked the softening at the corners). He wore cuddly jumpers and comfortable, practical shoes. He didn’t get along with his sister, but picked up her calls anyways. In essence, he was liked by everyone. Even the witnesses and victims would turn to John if he was standing next to Sherlock even though Sherlock had been the one to ask the question. But Sherlock didn’t care. John was a good flatmate who didn’t mind his experiments (too much), or the late nights of violin playing (too much), or the days of silence.

When Sherlock realized John had shot the cabbie the first day they had met, his chest had done a strange little twist of warmth. Maybe he really did have shock.

But then two weeks later John had yelled at Donovan for calling him a Freak, and that twist of warmth had reappeared. And then John had stomped over to Anderson and told him to shut up and do his fucking work, and Sherlock had felt a blockage in his throat that made it a little bit hard to breathe. Maybe he was getting sick.

Unlike the little-boy-John Sherlock had thought was his first friend, John Watson was loyal and protective of Sherlock. And every time John stood next to Sherlock instead of turning against him, Sherlock would feel that warmth and tuck the memory away in a big bright room labeled ‘John’, with lots of sunlight streaming through the windows.

It was through these same events though, that Sherlock knew he was the opposite of John. Where John made people feel comfortable, Sherlock’s presence brought up their guard. Where John talked to people easily, Sherlock was awkward and ruffled feathers. Most people left Sherlock alone and instead flocked to John.

It was a Sunday when Sherlock learned that he loved John. Frustrated with the latest run-in with Donovan (the ever-present “Freak” rolling off her lips within seconds), Sherlock had solved the murder (it turned out to be a four at best; a three in actuality because John had insisted that his job at the surgery was important and Not Boring, and was required to pay the bills) and come straight back to 221B. John had recently been dumped by his Girlfriend of the Month (Maisy? Marie? That’s it. Marie.), and was now spending more time at the clinicno doubt attending to young children and their tears with his impeccable bedside manner.

Bored, Sherlock checked through his email in hopes of a better case. What he found instead, were disappointing inquiries about missing pets, and an email from what seemed to be a teenage girl (with the spelling of a seven-year-old) containing a link to some insipid site for girls to talk about boys and what the latest celebrities were up to. Honestly, the stupidity emanating from the site made Sherlock want to cry tears of horror.

But before he could close the tab, a quiz from the site popped up and filled his screen. What Are These Feelings? was the title. Sherlock blamed it on his lack of stimuli from the surrounding environment, for the reason why he clicked “start”. It had to be the only explanation.

It was immediately clear the quiz was intended for an audience 20 years younger and the opposite sex, but Sherlock plodded through the tedious questions anyways. How often do you think of this person? The questions never specified a person, but John and the twist of warmth he’d been feeling automatically came to mind. Do you have trouble paying attention when this person enters the room? Do your palms get sweaty when in their presence? Was he really this pathetic? Sherlock almost didn’t finish the quiz, about to close the tab, when the results showed up in flashing orange with pink hearts floating in the background: You are falling in love!

Sherlock choked on his next inhalation. Love? He had to fall for the straightest man out there? With his second breath, Sherlock got a hold of himself. It was a stupid quiz. There was absolutely no quantitative data to back up their hypothesis, let alone the conclusion. For all he knew, the quiz randomly chose an answer out of a set of pre-written conclusions and expected it to be believable. And he’d almost fallen for it. Unacceptable!

 

 

The front door opened, and the familiar cadence of John’s footsteps made its way up the stairs. Sherlock was lying down on the couch, readying himself for the upcoming experiment he had planned. His current heart rate was 50 beats per minute, skin color its usual pale “Roman column” color according to the paint chips in the Home department at the store, pupil diameter 3.8 mm (he’d taken a picture and measured it), current emotion: nervous and a little bit tense.

“Have you moved off that couch in the last 12 hours, Sherlock?” John asked, hanging up his coat. Sherlock stayed silent and followed John’s movements with his eyes. John sighed, turning around. “I guess not. Well, I’m going out for a pint with Lestrade tonight. I don’t suppose you’d like to join us?”

Sherlock made a face. “And watch you two degrade your brains even more than necessary? I think not.”

 “Yeah, I guess that’d be below you, huh.” John smiled.

So far Sherlock’s heart rate was the same. He got up from the sofa to look at himself in the mirror above the fireplace. There was no change in skin color (the Roman Column paint chip was taped to the frame for easy comparison), and his pupils seemed normal—of course, he’d have to take a picture to conclude that. Current emotion: happy.

What? Why was he happy? He should be disgusted that Lestrade and John thought watching men kicking a ball around on the telly and getting sloshed drunk was the definition of a good night. Whatever. Maybe he was just happy that now he could start an experiment without John getting upset once he saw the microwave. Of course. Sherlock returned to the couch and steepled his hands under his chin.

John went into the kitchen to make tea, coming back out with two mugs. He placed one in Sherlock’s line of sight on the coffee table before settling into his chair.

Sherlock sat up suddenly and grabbed his phone, startling John who simply left it as something his flatmate did. Taking a quick picture on his phone and ignoring John’s inquiring noise, Sherlock measured the dilation of his pupil. Normal. He tossed his phone aside carelessly and settled back down on the couch feeling pleased. So he wasn’t in love with John. Perfect.

Sherlock didn’t know how much time had passed, but his tea was cold and there were three new rings on the table from John’s mug. From the doorway, John gave Sherlock a warning look (wasted on him, since Sherlock wasn’t looking in his direction anyways). “I’m leaving, Sherlock. That doesn’t mean you can start some horrid experiment when I am gone.”

Sherlock answered by making a noncommittal sound and waving his hand as if clearing the air, his eyes still fixed on the ceiling above him, and John disappeared down the stairs.

 

 

When John returned, he was just as Sherlock expected: blissfully happy and drunk, slurring every word with the soft corners of his mouth.

“What a pleasure, John,” Sherlock greeted him sardonically.

“Yes, Lestrade is a pleasure. I mean, he’s pleasurable. I mean, he’s funny,” John replied, except it sounded more like ‘yessss, Lestrd iss a pleasure. I-I mean, he’sss pleasssurable. I mean, he’s funnnnny,’ punctuated with a giggle and a stumble as he overbalanced trying to hang up his coat.

“Okay, John, upstairs and into bed.” Sherlock fit his arm around John’s waist and pulled him towards the stairs. John gleefully clung to him and tripped along putting most of his weight on his flatmate.

At the bottom of the staircase, Sherlock eyed the steps and mentally calculated the amount of effort it would take and how many times he would have to hear John giggle and stutter—or worse, sing—as they made their way precariously up the flight of stairs. Sherlock turned right and headed towards his room instead.

“Oh, Sherly, are we going to your rooooooom?” showed that John could still mildly navigate while heavily inebriated.

“Yes, John, because you insisted that you fill yourself with a substance that severely degrades your motor control and coordination, making the stairs a hazard for both of us.” Sherlock hoisted John onto his bed. “And don’t call me Sherly.”

John giggled. “People will talk if they knew I was sleeping in your bed.”

Sherlock quirked a smile. “They do little else.”

John settled back with a sigh, finally looking like he was willing to relinquish his death grip on the sleeve of Sherlock’s dressing gown. Sherlock took that as his sign to try to take off John’s shoes while he was less likely to kick. “Except they won’t ‘cause I got a girl’s number toniiight,” John sang, looking up at his flatmate from half-lidded eyes.

Sherlock stopped his motions. His mouth suddenly didn’t have enough saliva to say coherent words. He swallowed and cleared his throat. “I’m surprised someone showing as little intelligence and sense as you tonight could still attract a female. Are they all idiots?” He managed to get out, still feeling like he couldn’t quite breathe right. Like there was something expanding in his lungs, collapsing his alveoli.

John had gone pliantly sleepy, his eyes fluttering closed. A little smile was on his face. “No, she was cute. She was nice, Sherly. She was.”

Sherlock needed to get out. He dropped John’s second shoe on the floor by the bed, pulled the covers up over John and shut off the lamp before escaping out the door. In the light of the hallway, Sherlock leaned against the wall and slowly slid to the floor. What was that all about? His heart rate was elevated, palms clammy, throat sore, feeling...hurt? He got up and rushed to the bathroom. In the harsh light over the mirror, his skin was pale, almost translucent. His pupils were tiny pinpricks, but that was skewed because of the lighting.

Sherlock began analyzing his response to John’s words. What had he said? “I got a girl’s number tonight. She was cute. She was nice.” And his reaction had been responses to adrenaline: elevated heart rate, pale face due to blood re-routed to his muscles and brain, clammy palms due to sweat, sore throat because of increased inhalations. So why was he feeling like the bottom of his stomach dropped to the floor? Except they won’t ‘cause I got a girl’s number tonight. People will talk if they knew I was sleeping in your bed. Except they won’t ‘cause I got a girl’s number tonight. John’s slurred, happy voice was on a loop in Sherlock’s head.

Each repeat made Sherlock more agitated. He looked at himself in the mirror. Tall, lanky Sherlock with a halo of curly hair contrasting starkly against his pale skin (it must be Eggshell White now). Sherlock ran his hands through his locks in frustration. All it did was mess them up even more. Sherlock growled and bowed his head forward so he didn’t have to look at himself. Why did John always have to get some girl’s number? Oh.

Sherlock stood up, clarity a centimeter away. That’s it. I’m upset because he was happy he got a girl’s number. I’m upset because people won’t talk about us because John’s straight. I’m upset because I wish people would talk about us. I’m upset because I want John to be happy he got my number. I’m jealous of that stupid, idiotic, insipid, undeserving girl!

In this new clarity, Sherlock was no less agitated. Now he just wanted to punch the mirror. But John would be unhappy when he woke up and saw the fractured shards after vomiting into the toilet. And Sherlock didn’t like it when John was upset because of him. It made everything feel wrong. Sherlock took a step away from the sink and the mirror, and looked at the floor. Okay. So he may have proved that he likes John as more than friends by his adverse reaction to negating the possibility of John loving another woman. Or maybe he was just protective of John. He didn’t want John to get hurt again, like when Sarah had dumped him and John sat around and pretended not to be upset, drinking all the tea in their cabinet. But then why was he jealous of this unnamed, unknown girl? No. But of course. Sherlock wanted to be around John because John made him happy and didn’t call him a freak and didn’t try to change him. Sherlock wanted John to be that happy about Sherlock. He wanted John to always be happy with him. He wanted to always be with John. He loved John. I love John.

The realization dawned on Sherlock like a setting sun: shedding light before dumping you in terrifying darkness. With a crushing awareness, Sherlock knew John would never love Sherlock like he loved John. Hadn’t Sherlock his entire life, been proven that he was unstable, unreasonable, unacceptable, and worst of all, unlovable? Sherlock stared at himself in the mirror again. Even Mycroft barely loved him, and he was his brother. In all the times he was in rehab, Mycroft never visited him. When he stayed in Mycroft’s dreaded guest room, they mainly communicated through his PA. Sherlock felt something twist in his chest. His shoulders hunched forward as if absorbing an attack, and he wrapped his arms around himself. He will never love me. I don’t deserve him.

Sherlock shut the light off in the bathroom and slowly made his way to the sofa. It wasn’t like he was going to sleep at all tonight, but he would lay down and wish this awful feeling could dissipate out through his pores.

Chapter Text

By the following morning, Sherlock had managed to stay awake and fall into a further depression. He was disappointed with himself, frustrated with the injustice of the universe, and crushed with the knowledge that he would never be loved like he wanted to be.

John woke up loudly, swearing about the light and his splitting headache, before loud thumps were heard followed by the sounds of vomit in the toilet. Sherlock prised himself off the couch, stretching out the knotted muscles from sitting so tensely all night, and made his way to the bathroom with a glass of water. John sat miserably on the floor, looking much like Sherlock felt. Silently, Sherlock got out a few paracetamols and handed them to John along with a damp towel and the glass of water.

When John was done with them, he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes with a groan. “Why did I think drinks with Lestrade was a great idea?”

Sherlock managed to quirk a smile. “Because you’re an idiot.” He got a weak grin in return.

John struggled to his feet and wearily looked at the shower. Sherlock left him to decide whether he was willing to put the effort into taking a shower (he was; John hated the feel of the grimy smoke from the pub settled onto his skin, and the smell of fresh vomit—it reminded him of the clinic), and headed to the kitchen to start an experiment in an attempt to distract himself from the realization of his feelings. (Hadn’t John said that love made people happy? Why did it make him so sad?)

 

 

By the time evening rolled around, John was in a much better mood, though that may have been mostly the paracetamols talking and the fact that John now had a date with the woman he’d met last night. When Sherlock had deduced this new turn of events, he felt along with what seemed the new ever-present hurt, a flare of jealousy. This woman could have what Sherlock now wanted most. What if John fell in love with her? Sherlock would be left behind at 221B while John moved out, got married, and had 2.5 kids with her.

Sherlock could never have John’s love. But at least right now, he had his company. That little comfort did not stop his scathing comment to John though. “Knowing that she gave you her number while you were inebriated, we can deduce that she is attracted to men with lower inhibitions due to a higher likeliness that you two will have sex. She is significantly younger and gave her number to you and not Lestrade, because she wants to date a much older man in the hopes of convincing her friends and family that she is older and more mature than she actually is, so they will let her attend a university further away. Perhaps in America. Is that the best you can do John?”

John gave him a dirty look. “Oi, I’m not that much older than Lestrade. And also, thanks for tearing apart my fucking date before we’ve even gone to dinner. That is sarcasm right there, in case you missed it. Maybe I just want to have sex, okay?” He walked away, muttering, “And this is why I don’t have a girlfriend. My fucking flatmate is an absolute twat.”

Sherlock’s face fell. Yes he was. An unlovable twat.

While John made tea in the kitchen wearing his Fuck-Me shoes (the nicest, most expensive pair of shoes he owned), Sherlock shut himself in his room. At least from here, he wouldn’t have to watch John leave him to go have sex with some woman who didn’t deserve him (not that Sherlock did either, but Sherlock didn’t want to think about that now).

Unfortunately, John is kind and caring. Which meant that before he left, he knocked on Sherlock’s closed door. “Hey Sherlock, I made you some tea. Will you let me in?” Sherlock stayed silent, hoping that if he didn’t answer, John would think he was asleep. “Well, I’ll just leave it out here on the floor. Please don’t trip over it; if you break it, you have to clean it up. Alright, I’m leaving for my date. Don’t text me unless it’s an emergency. That means that if there is a gun needed or you blow up the flat, you call me right away. Okay? I mean it, Sherlock.”

“I prefer to text,” Sherlock called out before his brain caught up to him. He clamped his hand over his mouth, like it would do any good.

John laughed and for a second Sherlock felt like everything was alright. “I should’ve known you were pretending to sleep. The tea’s outside your door. Please drink it. I know you haven’t eaten since earlier this week.”

And he left. Sherlock turned over on his bed and looked out the window. The moon was streaming in. He vaguely remembered some vapid story his mum used to tell him about how he could always look up at the moon and know that there were other people in the world looking up at the same moon. He hadn’t seen the romantic side of that story when he was young, but now it just meant that if John and that woman looked up, they would both see the same moon as him, and he didn’t want to remind himself of her existence in any way right now.

For the entire night, Sherlock lay in bed staring up at the ceiling. At 8:30, he wondered if they were still eating dinner (probably; the reservation was for 8). At 9, he imagined she would look at John coyly and ask him to come back to her place (stop thinking about it!). John would smile back and agree. (Shyly, because that’s the way John presented himself to women. A cuddly, harmless teddy bear.) At 10, he wondered if John would have sex with her and then come back home. At 11, he wondered if John was enjoying sex with her. (Of course he was. John is a very sexual man who thoroughly enjoyed women. Only women.) At 11:30, he wondered what John would be like if he they had sex together (wonderful, fantastic, lovely). At midnight, he wondered what John was like post-sex (beautiful, caring, cuddly, happy). At 1, he wondered if he would survive seeing John come home without falling apart (probably not). At 1:30, he knew that John was sleeping over and would come home in the morning, blissed out and happy (something that would never happen because of Sherlock). At 2, he wondered if John and that woman would have sex multiple times that night (possibly. Don’t think about it). At 3, Sherlock wondered if they would decide to have regular sex like this. At 4, Sherlock wondered if this was the woman who would take the one person he would ever love away from him. At 4:30, Sherlock pressed his face into his pillow and cried for the first time since he was 10 and three boys in his year had punched him repeatedly, calling him Freak. The hot, salty tears had made him feel both dejected and lonely. They did the same here, 25 years later. He muffled his sobs in his hands, trying to get them to stop, but it didn’t work. When the sound couldn’t come out of his mouth anymore, his whole body shook with his sorrow instead.

Until eventually his body shut down, and he fell asleep.

 

 

Sherlock woke up feeling sticky and disoriented. He could feel the dry tracks from his tears the night before and the marks on his palm from digging his fingernails into them while thinking about John and his date. He blinked crusty eyes open, and just lay in bed staring at the ceiling some more. His phone said no texts from John (was he home yet?) or Lestrade (he needed something to distract him right now). It also said it was 10:05am. John would just be waking up if he had stayed up late...with her. Sherlock twisted his lips in distaste. He couldn’t even say it to himself. Couldn’t face the reality in the morning light.

He peeled himself up off the bed and headed to the bathroom to take a shower. With the water falling on his face, he let the soap wash the tear tracks away. Just once. Just once, Sherlock wanted to ignore reality. Ignore the present. Just once, he wanted to pretend that John would love him. That they would watch out for each other. That they would cuddle on the sofa, and John would kiss him. How he wished he could touch John. Even just a brush on the shoulder, or a hug in the kitchen. A tangle of feet under the dinner table. Sherlock rested his head back against the shower wall.

When the water became cold, he got out of the shower and wrapped himself up in his towel. On his way back to his room, he ran into John, looking exactly as predicted. Sherlock walled himself up, and focused on a point over John’s shoulder. “Good morning, John. I trust all went well last night?”

John gave him an odd look. “Well, yes. She was wonderful. Are you okay, Sherlock?”

“Are you going to keep dating her?”

“I—um, I’m not sure. I mean, we had fun. Like I said, she was wonderful. But it wasn’t like we really talked about much.”

Sherlock made a huff of disdain. “She was a one-night stand?”

John exhaled a nervous laugh. “Well, yeah, I think. Sometimes I just really need to have sex. Get it out of my system. You know?” He looked at Sherlock warily.

Sherlock didn’t really know how to answer that. Did he know? He masturbated every once in awhile, when it got to be too much. He’d spent a few days at Uni experimenting how to get himself off quickest and most efficiently so he wouldn’t have to spend too much time on it. It wasn’t something he particularly enjoyed. He hadn’t found anyone he could think about or focus on to make it anywhere near pleasurable. It was merely a chore. And he’d never had sex. He just couldn’t imagine letting anyone see him that vulnerable—because that’s what sex is, isn’t it? Letting someone see you and touch you in your most vulnerable state. Many of his cases attested to that. Besides, it’s not like his peers at Uni were willing to spend more time in his presence than it took to fling an insult at him.

He just kind of stared into the room, avoiding John’s gaze.

“Oh,” he heard John say before turning around and entering his room.

 

 

So John wanted sex. He wanted to ‘get it out of his system’. Sherlock wondered if he could have that with John. If he and John were intimate, maybe he could pretend John loved him. Maybe that was the answer. If he couldn’t have John, he could still have most of John. He could have sex with John. He could see John at his most vulnerable. Maybe even the endorphins released with orgasm would convince John for a few seconds that he loved Sherlock. Sherlock longed to see John look at him just once, with tender affection. God, what was he turning into? A lovesick idiot?

But how could he convince John that they should have sex? And of course now John knew he was a virgin. That would be tricky because John was a considerate lover and would be worried about pushing Sherlock. Oh. Sherlock would have to throw himself at John. Every opportunity. He’d touch John. He’d try to get John to look at him in a different light. Sherlock was aware he was attractive. He’d been propositioned in the streets many times (and even once, memorably, on a case. He’d let Lestrade take care of that), but then they’d been turned off the minute he opened his mouth. Well, he’d begin with little touches and looks. Sherlock smiled.

Chapter Text

The day after his date with Jenny which had put Sherlock in one of his moods for some unknown reason, Irene Adler entered their lives. John had never hated a woman so much. Under any other circumstance, had John met her on his own, he would have found her attractive; maybe even talked her up. But he hadn’t and instead he had met her after punching Sherlock, walking into her blindingly white house and seen her try to seduce Sherlock while naked. At first, John had felt protective. He was now fully aware of Sherlock’s virginity, and Sherlock’s look of panicked confusion had raised his defences. But then Sherlock had been fascinated by her. He admired her. And his phone had been making that fucking orgasm sound fifty-fucking-seven times. So no. He wasn’t just protective now. He was resentful and possessive. He was so fucking jealous he had to leave the flat a few times. God, he’d even made a comment about them naming their first baby Hamish.

But then, as soon as she’d entered their lives, she’d left. Sherlock defeated her, smiled at John, and John was fully prepared to put the incident behind them and move on with his life.

That’s when Sherlock started acting differently. Sherlock had never paid attention to personal space, but now it was like every time he passed by John, he gravitated into his atmosphere before pulling away to continue along on his course.

The first time it happened, John was sitting on the couch eating curry. Sherlock had loaded his plate as was usual after completing a case, and slid it across the coffee table before passing by John to get to the couch. That was usual. What was unusual was that as he shuffled between John’s knees and the coffee table, he momentarily leaned over John and placed his hands on either side of John’s shoulders, bracketing him between his arms. Taken aback, John just stared up at him for a few moments before Sherlock removed them and twisted his body to sit down next to John. Then Sherlock leaned forward to get his plate, putting his right hand on John’s knee to balance himself. John froze. When Sherlock took his hand away and leaned back into the couch, he had winked at John before stuffing green curry into his mouth. What the fuck?

Then, when John was washing dishes, Sherlock had actually set the pot on the stove to make tea. Memorably, he’d also pressed his chest against John’s back while reaching up to the cabinet to get the tea bags. The plate John was scrubbing had slipped back into the soapy water and his cock had shown a distinct interest in the physical contact. John closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to convince his cock it wasn’t going to be doing anything with the gorgeous flatmate currently against his back. It wasn’t listening.

Sherlock moved away, and John finished the dishes and hurried to his chair before he could get a full-fledged erection. He supposed that if Sherlock was going to make tea, he’d at least stay around to drink it first before he went upstairs to wank (to fantasies of his lanky flatmate). He opened his latest novel and propped it in his lap to cover the bulge in his trousers. When Sherlock came out with the mugs of tea, their fingers brushed. John took a gulp of his tea to distract himself, burning his tongue in the process.

He took a few fortifying breaths and then tried to read a few more pages of his book, pretending that everything was normal. It was. Of course it was. Everything was normal. Except his flatmate had touched him repeatedly. And he was getting hard again. Think of something repugnant. Think of the toes in the fridge. Think of the caterpillars in various stages of decomposition next to the eggs. It was going away. Thank God for Sherlock’s disgusting experiments.

When his tea was gone, John made his way to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Sherlock was rearranging his mind palace or something. The point was, he was not paying attention to John when he headed up the stairs to his room.

John sat in the middle of his bed to change his shirt, tossing the one he wore into the laundry basket. The cool slide of his sleepshirt against his back made him recall the incident at the kitchen sink. The solid press of Sherlock against him. Sherlock was firm muscle and long legs. He had felt the button of Sherlock’s trousers push into his back and remembered how his legs almost buckled. Now that he remembered, Sherlock’s breaths had wisped against the nape of his neck. Fuck it. John reached into his pants and pulled out his cock. It was fully hard now and leaking at the tip. He ran his thumb through the foggy liquid and smeared it around the crown of his penis, then down the length. It wasn’t quite wet enough—yet—and he reached with his right hand into the drawer of his bedside table for the bottle of lube. With a well-practiced flick of the cap, he poured some onto his left hand. Watching it run down his fingers and warm in his hand with a perverse fascination, John let out a soft groan in anticipation. Sherlock was lying on the couch downstairs, but what he wouldn’t give for that man to come right up to his room and take John into his mouth. John lowered his hand to his cock and began the marvelous slide of his fist up and down the shaft. He closed his eyes and imagined Sherlock’s hot mouth surrounding him. With a twist of his hand, he fantasized Sherlock’s tongue curling around it. With another groan, John thrust his hips into his hand. He would card his fingers through Sherlock’s curls. They would no doubt be a mess from all their movements. Maybe Sherlock would look up at John from beneath his inky lashes, his mouth curling into a smile while John’s cock continued to move in and out. Because of course Sherlock would still be cocky (correct word there) while taking John to orgasm. Sherlock would twist John’s nipples, making them bud in the cool air of the room. His long fingers would pluck at them until they were almost over-sensitive and then bring John’s focus back to his cock with a hum and a filthy twist of his mouth. John could practically feel the roof of Sherlock’s mouth against the head of his penis.

John leaned backwards until he was on his back. He poured lube onto the finger of his right hand; it was messy because he didn’t stop the movements of his hips or left hand. John worked his right hand between his legs, feeling down behind the perineum until he found his external sphincter. He gave a little gasp before biting his lip to keep his sounds quiet. It wouldn’t exactly do to have the man of his fantasy know about it. John imagined Sherlock probing his finger around the ring of muscle. He’d probably tease it, running his finger around the edge, before sucking extra firmly around John’s cock and pressing a finger in. Coupled with the firm tug on his cock, John could feel the slide of his digit as it made it way in, the sphincter clenching tightly around it, and tipped over the edge.

He closed his eyes as the breath was taken from him and streams of semen landed on his chest. He felt the tang of copper from biting his lip too hard to prevent the ‘Sherlock!’ that threatened its way out.

When the shudders began to subside, and he could think about breathing again, John relaxed his hands and turned his head to the side. In his post-orgasmic bliss, he drifted lazily somewhere between his bed and the ceiling. Finally, he reached over for a tissue to clean himself up. There was no way he could go back down to the bathroom again without raising Sherlock’s suspicions. He’d have to go down early tomorrow morning.

John is pretty sure he fell asleep with a sappy smile on his face and a pile of tissues on his bedside table.

 

— 

 

The next day and the day after that, there were no cases. But there was an infuriating abundance of Sherlock invading John’s personal space and touching him. All. The. Time. A slide of fingers exchanging a mug of tea, the brush of feet under the table at breakfast, a brush on John’s shoulder on Sherlock’s way to his microscope. A correlation emerged between the amount of times Sherlock touched him and the amount of times he wanked.

At the same time though, John was growing more and more wary of Sherlock’s intentions. Sherlock surely didn’t know about John’s stupid infatuation for his best friend. So what was he trying to accomplish? And why all of a sudden now, after The Woman and her dreadful innuendos and unwelcomely red lips?

On a chance pass by Sherlock’s computer the fourth morning after The Woman Incident (as John was now calling it, since clearly he could not just put it behind him), John happened to see a chart up on excel. The first column listed actions like brushed fingers, touched shoulder, watched from across the table, brushed against back. Along the top was labelled Responses followed by pupil size, heart rate, skin tone, tone of words spoken immediately following incident, location of eye gaze, and other such things. In two different colors, the boxes were meticulously filled in. John’s responses were in red, and Sherlock’s were in green. In a separate table, the axes were the same, but the boxes were filled in with orange for Irene, and green for Sherlock. It was clear Sherlock was trying to compare the responses.

John felt the back of his neck heat up and his temper rise accordingly. So this is what Sherlock was up to. Each brush between them was carefully calculated and each of his and Sherlock’s responses were recorded so that Sherlock could determine if he was attracted to and in love with that-that woman like she was with him. John was disgusted. And disappointed. He’d let a tiny spot of hope hover around him for the past three days, that maybe Sherlock had an inkling of an interest in him, but it was entirely for the benefit of a stupid fucking experiment because Sherlock was a fucking seven-year old in his understanding of his own goddamn emotions.

Sherlock was still in the bathroom and John needed to get out of the flat. Now. He grabbed his jacket and headed down the stairs, not bothering to call out to Sherlock that he was heading out. Let the manky tosser figure it out himself. A fucking Consulting Detective. More like a gannet prat. John was seeing red, and almost stumbled into a young mum pushing her baby in a pram. The woman crossed the street as soon as possible, and John thought it was all for the best, as he wasn’t so sure he could keep any words that were going to come out of his mouth anywhere close to acceptable for babies.

He headed towards the tube and ended up at a pub he’d never been to. It was mostly empty due to the early hour of the day, but he sat at the bar and ordered a pint anyways.

“It’s a bit early to be startin’ today, innit?” the bloke down a few seats asked. John shot him and glare and he slowly turned away.

“Bad morning?” The bartender was more sympathetic.

“You have no fucking idea,” John replied and began to nurse the beer.

He spent the better part of the morning into the afternoon at the pub. He didn’t drink the entire time—his hangover from those pints with Lestrade a few weeks ago were still fresh in his memory. He went next door for lunch at a cafe. But he sat at the bar and lamented the woes of the misgivings of the lives of the people around him. He didn’t talk about Sherlock and the experiment, and gave evasive answers when they asked him his story for drinking at the pub.

At some point in the early afternoon, a cute red headed thing had taken the stool next to him. She giggled at his jokes, told stories about her girlfriends, and was impressed by his job as a GP. Her honied skin was dotted with cute little freckles, and her diminutive stature made her shorter than him. Every once in awhile during a particularly funny story, she would grab onto his arm and lean into him excitedly, her eyes sparkling with amusement. She was the absolute opposite of Sherlock, and she seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with him. So he asked her out for dinner that night. She giggled a ‘sure!’ and punched her number into his phone.

After she left, he headed back to the flat much happier than he’d left it. He even whistled a bit and smiled at the people he passed.

At the flat, Sherlock took one look at John and his face fell. It was quickly replaced with his mask of indifference. John was alarmed at first and then remembered the little experiment his flatmate had been running on him and ignored it. He was probably upset John was tainting the data by messing with the controls or something. “Hello” he called out cheerily.

Sherlock ignored his enthusiasm and went for a disdainful, “Isn’t it a bit too early in the day to go out and get drunk, John?”

He merely shrugged. “I’ve seen worse.”

Sherlock’s next words were surly. “Who’s the poor woman about to be inflicted with your awful jokes and ugly jumper tonight?”

Not even Sherlock’s insults could bring him down right now. “Her name’s Gina. She is a cute little thing. Works as a physical therapist.” He grinned. “She offered to give me a massage.” He went so far as to waggle his eyebrows at Sherlock before turning to the kitchen to prepare tea.

Sherlock sputtered behind him. “Why would you fall for a stupid line like that? It’s a thinly veiled innuendo by a probably shallow woman who will eventually use that line on a patient of hers by next week.” John ignored him and Sherlock barreled on. “Physical therapy is a-a tedious, uninspiring job, that will never bring you danger or excitement. You will be bored with her in two weeks.”

“Physical therapy is a very important job that helps people resume their lives after being injured.” John shot back testily, recalling the hours of physical therapy he had endured after being shot. Of course he’d hated it and his life until he’d met Sherlock, but now he was glad he had gone through it when he could raise his mug to drink his tea and fire his Browning to save Sherlock’s life. He knew the physical therapist had been frustrated with his lack of effort and interest, but he had been patient with him until the end.

Sherlock gave a sharp nod. He had probably followed John’s thoughts as well (this is why we would be so good together, you git). “Yes,” Sherlock hastily agreed. “I merely meant that you will be bored with her quickly because she can’t give you excitement and danger and all-all those other things I can give you.”

John gave him a confused look. Was Sherlock jealous? No, he couldn’t be. He was probably doing damage control because John having a girlfriend would probably invalidate any new data he would get about his responses to Sherlock’s physical contacts. Of course. He shook his head. “Sure, whatever. At least I’ll have a nice dinner and probably get laid.”

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock was burning with jealousy. He was almost on the verge of shaking. All he could hear was John’s voice full of spite saying, “At least I’ll get a nice dinner and probably get laid.” He wanted to rip this “cute little thing” to shreds. This “cute little thing” was taking his John away from him. This “cute little thing” was going to get to spend the most memorable evening with John and get to have sex with him and get to see him at his most vulnerable and get John’s love for at least a few moments. Sherlock wanted to tear his skin off. He wanted to punch the wall and swipe all the petri dishes onto a mess of broken glass on the floor. He wanted to do so much more, but instead he kept his impassive mask on and hid his hurt and betrayal inside the fortress.

He’d thought that John and him had been doing well. After the unfortunate Irene incident (her transparent seduction attempts and immaculately coiffed hair had repelled him. Every touch made him yearn for John’s instead, with his cute fumblings and messy hair), he had brushed by John as often as he could. He had shown his interest in the looks he would throw John’s way in the evenings, in leaning into him while looking over his shoulder at the laptop.

Irene had been useful for one thing, he supposed. And that was that her physical responses to him were a convenient basis for him to record his and John’s responses to each other to measure his progress. If she claimed to be attracted to and in love with him, then he could measure his and John’s physical responses and adjust his actions accordingly. John apparently enjoyed when Sherlock leaned over him to get the tea, but didn’t respond as much when he brushed against him while he was reading a book. His own responses to John were practically on par with Irene’s to him, so far, further concluding that he was indeed in love with John.

But this morning something had happened. While he was taking a shower, John had left and slammed the door on the way out, and six hours later came home with a date with that banal woman. It was unacceptable, and it hurt.

Resisting the urge to retreat to his bedroom like a heartbroken teenager, he stepped forward to tower over John and aimed for the figurative jugular, injecting as much disdain and malice into his voice as possible. “You’re correct in that you’ll only have to look forward to this once because we all know you can’t keep anyone interested longer than that; you must not leave much of an impression on your past conquests, huh?” He straightened up. “I don’t envy them. What must it be like, John, to be such a pathetic lover?” He stepped around John, grabbing his Belstaff and heading down the stairs. Slamming the front door, Sherlock took a left out of the flat and tried to push away the image of John’s shocked and wounded expression.

Except it wouldn’t go into the damned box in John’s stupid room in Sherlock’s inane, nonsensical, fucking moronic mind palace. All he could remember was how the light in John’s eyes had dimmed, losing the glow he’d come into the flat with—losing the John-ness. And his lips hadn’t just thinned; for an awful moment, Sherlock had seen the left corner tremble before John covered it up. He’d hurt John. It felt awful. He didn’t deserve John. All he did was insult him and hurt him, and of course people found Sherlock unlovable. He made himself unlovable. Sherlock flipped his collar up and tucked his chin into it to hide the tremble of his jaw. Why did he have to fall in love?

 

 

At some point, a long black car pulled up next to Sherlock. Mycroft always had the worst timing. Sherlock didn’t care if the nation was falling to its knees. The Queen could have been in the car and all he would have wanted would be for John to never look like that again. Sherlock turned away and went down an alley.

The car appeared in front of him at the other end anyways. The door opened revealing Mycroft instead of his PA, for once. “Get in, little brother. I have a case for you.” Mycroft tried to give him a smile but it came out uncomfortable and strained. Sherlock reluctantly got in, sitting down in the seat furthest from Mycroft.

Sherlock immediately turned his face to the window and stared unseeingly out the window. “A man in a considerably high position in the government has been kidnapped by a pair of assailers in an attempt to get a USB drive entrusted to him. The USB was found in another undisclosed location, but since then, his teenage daughter has been taken as well. I need you to look at…” he trailed off when he noticed the stiffness of Sherlock’s shoulders.

Mycroft cleared his throat twice, trying to get a response from Sherlock. When that failed, he resorted to mockery, as was wont between the brothers. “What has got your knickers in a twist? Is John upset about the microwave again? You do know how much he dislikes that. It’s like you’re trying to test the poor man’s patience.” The subject carried by his brother’s superior tone hit too close to the scene at Baker Street and Sherlock flinched.

Ever observant, Mycroft picked up on his little brother’s anxiety and immediately softened, pinpointing one of Sherlock’s fears. “Sherlock, the microwave isn’t a big deal. If John was going to leave, he would have done it already. The man reveres you so much he would follow you to Sussex to raise bees if you so much as asked him.”

Sherlock continued to face the window, but his shoulders slouched down in defeat. “He reveres me the way you love a blanket. Appreciating it in the quiet evenings and when you feel unsafe, but leaving it behind when other people invite you to play.”

“And you want him to...show you off during the day, and cuddle you at night?”

Sherlock tightened his lips and didn’t answer. Mycroft sighed. “Sherlock, are you interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with John?”

Sherlock chanced a glance over at Mycroft and then was forced to hold his gaze when he saw the tenderness in Mycroft’s eyes. His brother wasn’t teasing him. “Yes.” His voice was a raspy whisper. It was the first affirmation he’d made about his feelings for John out loud. It made him feel raw and laid open for inspection.

The warm comfort of Mycroft’s gaze was a flashback to primary school, before Sherlock was taunted and bullied, before Mycroft’s heart was broken by some over-confident girl. “What do I do?” Sherlock asked brokenly.

“Dear brother. Have you actually talked to him? Have you told him you want to pursue a romantic relationship with him?” Sherlock shook his head. He wasn’t sure John would take so well to it anyways, after the words he’d flung at him; sharp icicles aiming for the heart. The words were untrue. He knew John had that inane nickname from his mates in the army. He knew John was proud of being a gentleman and a considerate person. Those qualities would make him a wonderful boyfriend and lover.

“Try it little brother.” The car pulled up a block from 221B. “You have a block to figure out how you want to start the conversation. John is still making tea in the kitchen.”

Sherlock stepped out and turned around. “What about the case?”

Mycroft shrugged. “I can contact MI-5 for that.” His mouth turned up in a smirk.

Sherlock matched it. He finally realized why Mycroft came around so often with mindless cases. It wasn’t for Sherlock’s benefit. It wasn’t even for Queen and Country. It was for Mycroft. Who had walled off everyone in Uni, but who still cared for and worried about Sherlock. Who still loved him even if he didn’t know how to show it.

 

 

Back at the flat, John was left hurt and bereft by Sherlock’s words. It was like Sherlock had ripped John’s heart out and crushed it under his feet with each stomp out the door. To quote Molly on Christmas, sometimes he was just so mean. What was worse though was that John wanted to please Sherlock sexually and be loved by him. The malice in his words and the dismissive tone Sherlock had used cut deeply. The dig at John being a pathetic lover made him feel inferior. Who was he kidding? He couldn’t be what Sherlock wanted. Sherlock didn’t want sex. And certainly not shitty sex from his flatmate. And if he didn’t have sex going for him, what did he have? He couldn’t count how many times Sherlock had sniffed at ideas like love and sentiment. On the first night they met, Sherlock had shot him down before he’d even shown an interest; John’s now existing interest would not change that Sherlock was married to his work.

He sat heavily in his chair and covered his face. He felt old and alone. Here he was sitting forlornly in his empty flat on a Saturday afternoon with a date with someone who wasn’t Sherlock, and an upset, enraged flatmate (also love of his life), running somewhere around London.

Well, and that was just it, wasn’t it? Sherlock was upset. John lived with him, and had learned every single one of his moods. He knew when Sherlock was pouting to be dramatic, and pouting because he was annoyed. He knew the signs signaling Sherlock was about to lose it and thrash someone to pieces with deductions. He knew that Sherlock could be vulnerable but hid it behind a tall back and big words. He knew that Sherlock could be hurt and overcompensated with insults and viciousness. And that’s what he had done, hadn’t he?

Those words, yes, they were callous and even downright cruel. But before the words, John remembered the minute widening of pale eyes belying the panic from John’s words. He had seen the step back Sherlock had taken in the direction of his room before reversing to tower over John. Of course. Sherlock had covered his feelings up by doing what the world had taught him to do best: snarl and spit back. His flatmate was upset, and John had let him leave thinking all those negative thoughts.

But now that he knew what was going on, John could help him. He was always good with dealing with Sherlock’s mercurial emotions. They would have tea, and everything would be fine.

If only Sherlock would come back.

John made two mugs of tea and set them on the table.

Ten minutes later, agitated at the lack of consulting detective in the flat, John started shifting around on his chair, jiggling his leg up and down. Five minutes after that, his jumper started to feel like it was suffocating him amidst the impatience in the air. Two minutes after that, he changed his jumper to a lighter one. If it happened to be one Sherlock gave him for Christmas, it was simply a coincidence. Three minutes after that, John started walking from the window to the kitchen and then back again.

 

 

Sherlock for once didn’t go straight up to the front door of the flat. He paced back and forth in front of it like a nervous boy waiting for a stern lecture from the headmaster. What was he going to say to John? They were British men. They didn’t talk about their feelings. That’s the way they worked. Feelings got messy and words didn’t convey an idea so infinitely intangible.

He could start off with talking about how much John meant to him. Flattery usually worked on witnesses to placate them. But no, this was John. He wasn’t a witness; he wasn’t some impersonal person Sherlock wanted information out of. He was John. He was perfect, solid, lovely John. He was the man who meant the most to Sherlock in the world. The man Sherlock would consider stepping in front of a bullet for. The man who didn’t call Sherlock a freak, and who never left him though the whole world had already decided Sherlock was too different in the wrong way.

Sherlock glanced up at the window of the flat. A ripple of blue revealed John looking out across the street. In 2.46 seconds Sherlock knew John would spot him outside walking around like an idiot—yep, there it was. John’s gaze had locked on Sherlock mid-step. Sherlock froze and then dashed inside, flustered at being caught out.

He leaned back against the closed door and took a few deep breaths before fortifying himself for the most awkward conversation he would undoubtedly have with John. With no preparation, Sherlock knew it would be a paragraph of his erratic thoughts rushing out of him at his flatmate (God, he wanted to call him his lover).

Aware that John would probably not be very welcome to his presence back at the flat after the insulting words he’d left with, Sherlock took the stairs slowly.

John was waiting in the middle of the room when Sherlock pushed open the door. “Hi. John.” He awkwardly hung up his coat, trying to gauge John’s emotional state. The blue sweater was not one of his coziest, so he wasn’t looking for comfort, but it looked the best on him (Sherlock had picked it out for him last Christmas) so he was trying to look nice; probably still smarting a bit from Sherlock’s insult about his sexual finesse. His hands were held stiffly by his sides, but were not curled in fists—willing to talk or listen but also preparing to fling words back at Sherlock just as quickly. A few creases in his forehead—trying to determine where Sherlock is trying to go with this. No wait, that was because Sherlock was still staring at him. Sherlock cleared his throat. “John,” he started sincerely, “I am very sorry about what I said before I left. I didn’t mean it, I am sure you are quite um, proficient at sexually um, satisfying your partners.”

John quirked a smile at Sherlock’s fumbling. This unsure version of Sherlock was at the same time unsettling and adorable. “Thank you, Sherlock,” he replied gracefully. “It’s okay though; I understand that something made you upset and hurt and you said things you didn’t mean.” Sherlock’s shoulders relaxed a fraction. “But I want you to tell me when you are upset and hurt instead of trying to cover it up with brutal statements. Can you tell me what upset you?”

Sherlock tensed again and then forced himself to relax. He was supposed to talk to John, right? That’s what Mycroft had said. He took a deep breath and let it out. John looked at him expectantly. “I’m upset about your date. Tonight. With that woman you met at the pub.”

John cocked an eyebrow. “Okaay…” he trailed off, stretching out the vowels. “Is there something I should know? Is she a serial killer? Oh please God, don’t tell me she’s slaughtered her family and now I’m going to be her alibi or something.”

Sherlock huffed an agitated sigh. “No, of course not. Don’t be stupid.” John smiled at the old Sherlock coming back. “I mean, that I don’t like you going out on dates. You always go out with them all the time.” He was aware he was starting to whinge.

John was confused. “You’re jealous that I’m spending time with them?”

“No. Yes. Sort of. Augh! John. You.  Are the most gentlemanly, proper man I know.” Sherlock had one brow furrowed and a (not) pout on his face. “I have been throwing myself at you for the past month and everything I hear out of your perfect little mouth is ‘what are you doing Sherlock?’, ‘erghm’—by the way, wonderful diction, John—and your nervous giggle and walking out of the room.” (Did he just say perfect little mouth?) “And it’s frustrating!” At this, Sherlock threw his hands up in the air. “I want to have sex with you, John! Make love to you. Why won’t you let me?”

Well, that was certainly interesting. Unexpected. So very much not what Sherlock had intended to say.

Oh God, had he really said ‘make love’?

Sherlock panicked with the realization. He could begin to feel the tell-tale heat spreading across his cheekbones, no doubt obvious to even John, against his pale skin. Adrenaline released by the sympathetic nervous system—fight-or-flight response. Vasodilation of veins in response to adenylyl cyclase. Response to embarrassment. Response to self-induced embarrassment, he corrected himself. Occurs less often and less intensely with age. So why is it still happening to me with the same intensity as when I was seven?

“Erm, I—I need some uh...air.” And with that, he swept down the stairs and out the door of 221B, the slam of it shutting muted by the loud thumps of his heart.

 

—-

 

John was left standing in the sitting room once again, staring at the empty doorway through which Sherlock had left, in such a hurry that he had not even taken his beloved Belstaff.

Well, then. Leave it to Sherlock to call passing brushes and flirty touches ‘throwing himself at John’. The man was infuriatingly subtle at times when obvious actions were needed and blunt when subtlety was advised.

Except now, of course. Now he had just said ‘make love’. John let out a strangled exhale.

                                                                                                                                                           

Chapter Text

It was like Mycroft was hovering outside the flat to make a timed entrance. His cadence up the steps was punctuated with the thumping of his ever-present umbrella. John pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. Two Holmeses in one day was always too much.

Mycroft didn’t bother to be asked in; he simply settled into John’s chair and looked up at him expectantly. “Make yourself at home,” John muttered sarcastically. He didn’t bother with tea since Mycroft rarely came for a social visit. He was a man with an agenda, as the saying went.

“So I take it Sherlock’s discourse with you did not go as expected for both parties involved?” Mycroft asked imperiously. John resisted the urge to roll his eyes. This must be how Sherlock had mastered his eyeroll; lots of practice with Mycroft. The latter man continued on as it seemed he expected his question to be rhetorical. “As his brother, it has come to my attention that he has found perhaps the one person he would like to spend his life with. That would be you, John Watson. You are perfect for him, heedless of whatever frivolous sexual orientation you insist you label yourself.” John opened his mouth to correct Mycroft on his assumption (Bisexual was not the same as Straight or Not Gay; John wasn’t an idiot), but Mycroft simply sent him a look and carried on. “Sherlock adores you and wants to have a romantic accord with you, sans any ulterior motive.” Now John let out an eye-roll. The man was talking about it like it was a business transaction. Who the hell said romantic accord? “You would greatly benefit from such a relationship, as I can see from Sherlock’s little chart on his computer comparing yours and his reactions to each other, to Ms. Adler’s reactions to my baby brother. Both of you are exhibiting pupil dilation, increased heart rate, flushing of the skin, and should I mention an increasing amount of time spent in the shower and bedroom?”

John was torn between relief about his misinterpretation of Sherlock’s experiment, and humiliation from Mycroft knowing the exact amount of time he’d spent wanking to fantasies of the man’s brother. But down to the heart of the matter, it seemed like Mycroft was making himself redundant. “Mycroft, you have this information—heaven knows why—so why are you here? All evidence shows that I am open to a relationship with your broth—with Sherlock, so why are you trying to convince me when I’ve already convinced myself?” Mycroft just blinked at him. John let out a breath. “I’m bi. I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I just happen to like both sexes, in particular my curly-haired lanky git of a flatmate. So if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, how about you go find him and bring him back here instead of lecturing me on the pros of an accord between Sherlock and me.” Mycroft blinked again and then stood up, mouth opening and closing but no sounds coming out. He finally pursed his lips and nodded succinctly at John before disappearing out of the flat.

John shook his head and settled into his chair to wait for his flatmate to return. For such observant people, Sherlock and Mycroft were quite oblivious at the most inopportune moments.

 

--

 

The opening of the front door signaled Sherlock’s return, and John stood up feeling relief and excitement as the brunet made his way up the stairs. He was looking forward to moving forward with their relationship after being stagnant for so long. His flatmate barreled in, curls adorably mussed in his hurry. But what came out of his mouth made the smile drop off of John’s face. “John. DELETE EVERYTHING.”

That wasn’t their relationship going forward. That was slamming on the breaks and making a U-turn so fast only two tires stayed on the pavement.

“Delete it. Everything I said, John. I mean it. I’ll delete it and you’ll delete it and it will have never happened.” Sherlock took a shallow breath. “I-I know I’m unlovable. But just for one second I had forgotten and had hoped—hoped,” He looked impossibly young. “Hoped that I was wrong.” His voice cracked on the last word. Sherlock straightened and John could visibly see his walls go up. “But of course not. I cannot escape reality, and this is it. I was letting sentiment get the best of me.”

John was silent, but the kind of silent that happens when you’re so shell-shocked you aren’t connected to your body and maybe even earth. He didn’t have a single thought in his head; it was like his mind was blank white wall.

Sherlock refused to look at the shorter man as he turned around and literally ran to his room. The hottears were not going to stay put this time, and Sherlock knew it. His bedroom door swung shut at the same time his first agonized cry let loose into the pillow. It wasn’t like crying the previous time when John went on that first date after Sherlock realized he was in love with him. That was love and hurt and longing. This was a torrent of sadness and acceptance. He had finally put the truth into words and said them out loud. The knowledge that they were hanging in the still air of the sitting room made them all the more real. Made them reality.

 

--

 

John couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. But he felt the panic. It swelled up and caught in his throat. It crushed his chest and pressed on the back of his eyes. It filled his head with a buzzing sound and soon enough he couldn’t see or smell or feel.

And then he heard the whimpers. They were mildly muffled but he could hear the agony in them, and slowly the panic ebbed, releasing his throat and allowing him to breathe again. The knowledge of Sherlock’s pain helped John come back to the present, to the now, and to what he could change.

The door to Sherlock’s bedroom was closed, and John paused to rest a hand gently on the wood. With his next breath, he pushed it open.

Sherlock’s prone form froze on the bed, splayed out on his front with his hands clasping his pillow to his forehead and eyes. Then the next minute he had scrambled up into a cross-legged position facing the door and John, the pillow clutched in his lap. He stared up at John, his eyes rimmed red, and face and neck splotchy. John noticed Sherlock’s right hand trembling slightly. “Hello John.” The words were little, rough, and wavered, underscored with despair. And it was all completely wrong.

“Oh Sherlock.” John’s heart broke for the man who didn’t know that he was the center of John’s universe. He rushed over to Sherlock’s side and wrapped the lanky man in his arms. With a tug, the brunet curled into John, tucking his curls into the curve of the shorter man’s neck. John cradled the tall man in his arms and murmured soothing words into his hair. “I’ve got you, Sherlock. It’s alright, I’ve got you now. You’re okay.”

Pressing a few soft kisses to Sherlock’s forehead, John began to rub circles into Sherlock’s back and cleared his throat softly. It was clear Mycroft hadn’t told Sherlock anything about their chat earlier. Either way, John wanted Sherlock to hear it from himself. “Hey, Sherlock, I need you to look at me for a second.” Sherlock tilted his head up, keeping his head leaning against John’s shoulder. “There we go. Just for a minute.” He gently nuzzled his face into the dark curls before starting. “I need you to know that you’re wrong. You are not under any circumstance unlovable. I need you to abolish that thought from your mind palace.” Sherlock parted his lips to reply and John shook his head adamantly. “No, I don’t care what kind of evidence you have filed away. It’s not true. And I know that because I love you. You—” He paused to press a brief kiss to Sherlock’s forehead. “You are beautiful and amazing and a genius and inappropriately funny, and I wouldn’t trade you for anyone in the world. Because Sherlock, there’s only you. I love you.” John rested his lips on Sherlock’s hairline and closed his eyes, waiting for the man in his arms to absorb his words.

What finally fell out of Sherlock’s mouth was a breathy, “John.” Sherlock tightened his arms, fisting the blue jumper on John’s back. “Oh John, you are wonderful.” His voice was full of awe. “You are—I love you. I-I, you are…I am a blathering idiot.” Sherlock felt himself flush in embarrassment. He hadn’t meant to confess his love so soon and so clumsily. Though if he thought about it, he supposed this was actually the second time he’d done so that today.

John chuckled fondly. “I know you do. And I also know that I am starving and you are looking for an excuse to change the subject to distract me away from your adorable blushing.”

That only proved to make Sherlock flush more. Then he remembered that he was a grown man sitting in his—whatever John was becoming—lap having just cried hideously into his pillow. He probably looked a mess and not attractive or desirable at all. He felt like an adolescent who had fallen flat on his face in a mud puddle in front of his crush. Sherlock leaped up and skittered to the bathroom, leaving an alarmed John behind. “Sherlock?” John’s voice was pitchy due to his panic. Had he said something wrong?

“Everything’s alright. Order some Vietnamese. I’ll um, just be a moment.” When had Sherlock started sounding so unsure? Sherlock made a face at his reflection in the mirror feeling disgusted with himself. His diction was falling to a plebeian level. Then he noticed the redness of his eyes and the filmy tear tracks down his cheeks. He looked atrocious. He splashed water on his face in an attempt to wipe the grimy salt from his skin. There wasn’t much he could do about the bags under his eyes or the slight reddening of his lower eyelids from too much rubbing. But he could at least attempt to tame his tangled hair back into manageable curls. John seemed to like sliding his fingers through them, and though Sherlock didn’t know what exactly was going to happen between them next, he thought he would make himself presentable to as many possible scenarios he could think of.

When he finally came out to the sitting room, John was placing the takeaway boxes on the table in the kitchen. Sherlock debated getting out plates and chopsticks, but John took care of those when he noticed the brunet shifting around uncertainly. John read his flatmate’s ambiguity, and with an amused lift of his eyebrow, said reassuringly, “It’s alright, Sherlock. We’ll be the same as always; you’ll solve the cases, and I’ll do the dishes, buy the groceries, and carry the gun.” Sherlock quirked a tentative smile in John’s direction. John pushed a sparse plate across the table to him. After a few tentative bites, Sherlock began eating with more intent. Across from him, John sat with his own plate, watching the curls fall over green eyes as Sherlock ducked down for each bite.

When his plate was clear, Sherlock looked up and was surprised to find John watching him with a look that could only be described as captivated. He began to feel self-conscious and like all his other reactions to vulnerability, fought it with sarcasm. “Your food will not magically relocate into your stomach, you know.”

John looked down at his half-eaten plate as if he had forgotten there was food in front of him. “Uh, right. Of course,” he mumbled. Then in a sudden wave of Three-Continents-Watson-boldness, he looked at the curly haired man across from him and grinned devilishly. “I am a little hungrier for something else.”

Sherlock choked and stammered at John’s unexpected words. The shorter man giggled and then laughed when the sputtering man stopped to glare at him. “Come on. Let’s go to the couch.”

Sherlock’s mind warily connected the couch and the new tentative definition of their relationship with snogging and shagging. John caught on immediately (bless him). “Don’t worry. We’ll just watch some telly. All the same stuff we already do.”

John sat in the middle of the couch, leaving Sherlock to debate over whether John was trying to get him to sit right next to him or with some friendly space in between. He decided to play it safe and sat in the right corner against the arm. John scooted over until there were a handful of centimeters between them. Oh. He’d chosen the wrong choice. Red heat blossomed on his cheekbones.

There was some mindless talk show on at that time of the evening, and John left it on at a reasonable volume for Sherlock to start talking back to. Then with a stretch, he casually rested his arm on the back of the couch. It was the typical teenager move, but he couldn’t help it; he wanted any excuse to accidentally touch Sherlock.

Sherlock quickly got sucked into flinging insults and deductions at the telly. (“The masseuse guest had sex with the talk show host in the staff bathroom before filming started. They’re keeping it a secret from the producer who is her husband, and the scriptwriter who has a crush on the masseuse.”)

In the middle of a deduction, John’s hand began to toy with the curls at the nape of Sherlock’s neck. The man froze for a second and then finished the deduction with a delighted smile on his face. John enjoyed how the light of the telly played across the man’s features.

During a commercial, Sherlock tensed suddenly and then asked in a stiff voice, “What about your date with that woman tonight?”

For once, John used one of Sherlock’s facial expressions and gave him a you’re an idiot look. “Why would I want to go on a date with her when I’ve always wanted you?”

Sherlock visibly relaxed. “Right. Of course.”

“Sherlock, I think we should talk about what’s going on. With us. With our changing relationship and everything. It’s only fair that we both know what we’re both expecting.” Sherlock gave a hesitant nod and John continued. “I am open to a romantic relationship with you. God, I really want one. I’ve wanted one for months. I want to be able to kiss you and cuddle with you and wake up with you in the morning and take you to bed.” Sherlock swallowed audibly, listening to John’s words. “But I also want to continue what we are doing now. Like I said earlier, you solve the cases, I do the dishes and buy the groceries and carry the gun. I like us. I just want to add in the physical intimacies. And most importantly, I want you to know that you are loved by me.”

Sherlock nodded emphatically. “I like that. I want that too.” John smiled. “But…” Sherlock trailed off uncertainly.

“But…” John prompted. “Everything’s open for discussion. We want to communicate about this, Love.”

Sherlock flushed. “You know you called me ‘Love’.”

John paused to rethink over his words. “I guess I did. Sorry about that. It just slipped out.”

“No. It’s okay. I like it. It sounds…nice.”

John smiled, and then returned to the topic at hand. “But what, Sherlock?”

“It’s um, just that, I um, don’t know um.” Sherlock let out a breath in frustration, tired of all his stammering. “I don’t do sex!” Is what came out next.

John looked startled. “Oh. That’s um, alright, of course. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Do you not—are you um, asexual?”

Sherlock shook his head agitatedly, his curls bouncing back and forth. In the background, he could hear the show came back on from the commercials, but pushed it out of his mind. This was important. “No. That’s not what I meant to say. I meant that I haven’t done sex. I don’t know…” he looked around a bit lost. “Sex. I know it as a criminal motivator and I obviously know the conventions of what is supposed to happen but I haven’t done it. Yet. But I want to. With you.”

John stared at him and wet his lips. “That is. Incredibly. Hot.”

Mindless of the blush climbing up his cheeks again, Sherlock sulked in his seat on the sofa.  “You aren’t taking me seriously. I mean that I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to be rubbish at it and I know you aren’t, and you’re going to be disappointed because you’re Three Continents Watson and I’m just some fumbling teenager who can’t even get you off.”

“Hey, hey. No, Sherlock. I’m a 40-year old man with much less muscle than I used to have, and you’re the gorgeous, brilliant man I love. It’s going to be wonderful because I love you and we’re in this together. Like I said, we’ll go at the pace you are comfortable with. We don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with until you say so. You call the shots.”

Sherlock paused to think that over. If he set the pace, he would (hopefully) never feel overwhelmed. Sure, he’d still undoubtedly be terrible at sex whenever that finally happened, but he could always do some research first. He could even plan when things happened so they were at the optimum time of the day for him to fully enjoy the look on his lover’s face in the morning light, or the setting sun. He could try every time of the day and record how John’s face looked when he came in every type of lighting he could think of. Imagine all the possibilities for data collection he could add to John’s room in his mind palace! He’d need a whole wing for the information.

“Hey, Sherlock, I’m losing you. Don’t go into your mind palace. Stay with me.” John put the hand not currently tickling the hairs on the back of Sherlock’s nape, on a thin forearm.

“I am amenable,” was Sherlock’s reply and John resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Apparently treating relationships as business transactions ran in the family. Sherlock continued on, “But there’s one thing. When I’m on a case, I might not be interested in anything. I might not even acknowledge you in any romantic way. That’s just the way I work, and I understand if you—”

“I didn’t expect any less,” John cut him off. “I don’t want you to change who you are. I just want us to add physical intimacy to our pre-existing relationship.” Now he was sounding like a business man. Who said ‘pre-existing’ without referring to insurance?

“Oh.” Green eyes softened with a sudden wave of affection for the man sitting next to him. “Will you kiss me?”

“I’ve been waiting all night for you to say that, twat.” John’s words were affectionate as he leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to Sherlock’s lips.

Sherlock’s eyes were open as he felt the soft brush of John’s chapped lips against his before they quickly retreated. He smirked as John’s words sunk in. “Twat?”

“Think of that like the same kind of endearment as ‘Love’,” John said defensively.

Sherlock let out a genuine laugh. John thought it was beautiful the way his nose scrunched up and his lips quirked at the corners. It seemed like so long since he’d heard the deep rumbling baritone. “I never pegged you as creative with your pet names,” Sherlock teased him. “Did the women enjoy it as much as me?”

John rolled his eyes but laughed nonetheless. “Only for you, you berk.”

That set Sherlock off again, and he collapsed against John’s shoulder, his hand resting on John’s thigh.

When they were both at the stage of gasping short little breaths to try to deliver oxygen to deprived brains after a good long laugh, Sherlock began to drift more into John’s lap in an exhausted pile of dressing gown and angular limbs. “Let’s go to bed, Love.” John jiggled his leg a little to rouse the detective in his lap. Sherlock tried to cover up his delighted look at the endearment with a glare, but it failed miserably. John couldn’t wait to call him Beautiful, Gorgeous, and Boyfriend. Then Sherlock looked warily towards his bedroom and back at John. “Don’t worry, we won’t do anything. Just to sleep. Maybe cuddle a little.”

Sherlock sat up and stretched, a sliver of pale stomach revealed between his shirt and trousers. John’s eyes pinned to that spot even after Sherlock finished stretching. An oblivious Sherlock got up and walked to his bedroom.

Sherlock must have still been feeling self-conscious because by the time John entered the bedroom, he was already on his back in bed with the covers pulled up to his neck. John stood next to the mattress, unsure if sleeping in his pants was pushing Sherlock’s comfort too far. He decided to leave his t-shirt on and slipped between Sherlock’s ridiculously high thread-count sheets.

Sherlock was so far to the edge John wasn’t sure the sheets would actually cover both of them. He rolled over so he was facing Sherlock. “Hey, talk to me. What’s going on in that big brain of yours?”

Sherlock turned his head though they couldn’t see much in the dark of the room. John supposed it was for the best though. It always seemed that the most honest conversations were had in the dark of the night when the surrounding air was waiting to be filled with words.

“I’m…I want to kiss you. If it’s alright. But that’s it. I don’t-I’m not ready for-for…”

“Of course it’s alright. It will always be alright. You can kiss me whenever you want.” John reassured him in hushed tones, placing his hand on Sherlock’s cheekbone. The kiss was a bit messy—the darkness made it difficult for a man who had just received his first kiss to approximate where to go for his first initiation. But John tilted his head and realigned their lips, and then it was perfect. It was still closed-mouthed, but it seemed that that was all Sherlock wanted at this point.

Or so it seemed. After a few pecks, Sherlock opened his mouth to push the kiss deeper, and John felt Sherlock’s tongue leaving a wet trail around his lips. He parted his lips to try to encourage Sherlock’s tongue into it, but Sherlock really was a virgin. It felt a bit as if a slobbery dog was kissing his face. It was kind of cute in a way, but nowhere near how John really wanted to kiss the man in Sherlock’s bed (he felt a fission of excitement when he remembered exactly whose bed he was in). He pulled away after a few seconds and tried to go in for a proper kiss. When he got there, Sherlock’s tongue was already primed to attack him again. He pulled back again and giggled a bit, pulling Sherlock to him reflexively. Sherlock registered the huffy noises John was making and tried to push him away, mortified. John thought he was an awful kisser (he was probably right; Three Continents and all). “No, no, it’s okay, Love.”

Sherlock continued to resist. His words were grumbled and just a little bit hurt. “No it’s not. I told you I would disappoint you. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a horrible kisser. I think I’ll just go to sleep now.”

John’s heart hurt a bit. “You couldn’t never disappoint me, you gorgeous man. Never. And everyone’s first kiss is awful. My first kiss was with the most popular girl in my grade named Natali, and I ended up kissing her ear because I missed her lips. She told everyone I was in love with her ear.” He felt the resisting muscles relax a bit and the quirk of a smile on the lips pressed into his neck. “Then I tried to kiss Samantha under a tree a month later and I bit her lip too hard and she hit me.” That elicited a rumbly laugh from Sherlock’s chest. “You just need practice. And you’ve got me to teach you which means you will be amazing at it just like me.” John could practically feel Sherlock’s eyeroll at his self-proclaiming statement. “Come on, let me show you.”

He wrestled Sherlock until they were facing each other and used his hand on a sharp cheekbone to guide his face in. Starting with a couple pecks, he slowed down the movements until he was pulling at the plump bottom lip with alternating teeth and lips. Sherlock’s bottom lip dropped down in accord and John gently slipped his tongue in, swiping sideways. The breathy sigh surprised him for a second and then he continued with his lesson. He soon found Sherlock’s relaxed tongue and rubbed them together in a slightly dirty but gentle grind and Sherlock’s breath caught. John used his hand to tilt Sherlock’s jaw up and used the new angle to show Sherlock the feeling of a tongue against the backs of his teeth. When Sherlock started to shudder, John gently eased back and pressed his lips to the corners of Sherlock’s mouth and the dip of the sharp cupid’s bow. He ended with a gentle nip on the bow and then pulled away, opening his eyes again. When his eyes adjusted, he could just make out Sherlock’s wide eyes and hear the quick breaths of an aroused Consulting Detective. He grinned. “Wanna try now?” Sherlock nodded immediately, still without words.

John lowered his mouth to Sherlock’s once again and then let him direct it. Sherlock was much more tentative, but wasn’t a genius for nothing. He had paid attention to every single detail and now used it on John. From the gentle nudging to communicate what he wanted John to do, to breathing in tandem, increasing the intimacy of the situation. The feel of Sherlock’s tongue running lightly on the backs of his teeth extracted a long drawn out groan that started from somewhere within John’s rib cage. He was going to die from this exquisite man.

Sherlock’s pleased smile was preventing him from continuing his exploration of John’s mouth (so much new data it was driving him insane), but it felt right. For the first time, he realized that he had all the time in the world to explore John. To find out what John tasted like (so far, earl grey, Vietnamese, and musky John-ness), felt like (strong muscle with a layer of give, making it easier to keep one of his arms possessively slung around his waist), smelled like (pine and warm tea), sounded like (a rumble of thunder in the distance), and looked like (too dark to add more observations right now. No, too distracted). He pulled away and nuzzled his face into John’s neck. “You’re amazing.”

“You know, for someone who hates repetition, you’re really taking a liking to that word,” John teased him.

 Sherlock pulled away and clasped John’s face between his hands. “You are sensational, extraordinary, magnificent, John. You are more interesting than a triple murder homicide right on the Yard’s doorstep. You are a dangerous man in a cuddly jumper, ready to fool the rest of the world. And you are mine.”

John gaped at him, astounded by the words pouring out of the mouth he had pined (yes, he’ll admit, pined) after for so many months. “Yes, I am yours,” he whispered back.

Sherlock crashed his mouth back to John’s and they kissed with rising intensity. Sherlock really was a quick study (or John was a good teacher; it depends on who you asked), and their tongues slid smoothly, their heavy breathing the only sound in the darkness.

Just as John was about to consider asking Sherlock if he was interested in…more, Sherlock pulled back and rested his head on his pillow. “I know this is bad timing, but I think I’m going to fall asleep very soon.” His eyes were fluttering shut, and his limbs were slow and heavy with sleep.

“It’s okay. We have all the time in the world, Love.” John snuggled in to the slim man next to him, burying his nose in the sleeve of Sherlock’s sleep shirt. “All the time we need.”

Chapter Text

Sherlock woke to light filtering in through the curtains of his room. Curled in his arms was John, his short blond hairs glittering in the light, and the shadows of his eyelashes sweeping gracefully across his cheeks. His features were slack with sleep, making the lines around his eyes less pronounced. During the night he had curled up into Sherlock, hands clasping Sherlock’s arm and one leg slung greedily over Sherlock’s hip. The sleeve of Sherlock’s grey sleepshirt fluttered with every exhale.

Sherlock watched John sleeping for as long as he could until his bladder wouldn’t let him anymore (always transport). Carefully extracting himself from the sleeping man, Sherlock exited the bed. He was surprised to find that he’d slept an entire eight hours. The last time he’d slept that long without it being the result of a solved case, was when he was in rehab where sleep was the least boring activity there.

He quickly washed up because he didn’t want John to wake up without him in the bed—he knew that though John seemed to be the one exhibiting all the confidence in this relationship, underneath it all, John was afraid Sherlock would change his mind. (Idiot. John was the best thing to happen to him. Even Mycroft said so.) Examining the scruff on his face (2 days from being a beard; by tonight the kink in the hairs would tickle his neck every time he moved), he decided to quickly shave it because he wanted to feel John’s stubble scrape across his skin when they kissed.

When Sherlock re-entered the bedroom, John was rolled on his side, back to the doorway. He looked to still be asleep, but Sherlock could see the tension in John’s neck and hear his shallow breaths move in and out at a rate 1.25 times quicker than normal. He could practically hear the gears grinding as John tried to put his thoughts together and rapidly barreled to the wrong conclusion. Approaching his bedmate, Sherlock leaned over to curl his body over John’s. “I can hear you compiling counterfactual perceptions, attaining an invalid culmination,” he grumbled. “You’re an idiot and you’re prematurely panicking for absolutely no solid reason.”

John melted with relief under Sherlock and rolled onto his back so his boyfriend (reminder to self: we need to discuss labels) could lie across his chest. With a fond look at the man above him, he swept the curly locks of hair that hung over Sherlock’s face in this position. “And you’re using too many big words for this time of the morning.”

Sherlock made a face. “Well, I’m not the one assuming that I would change my mind about a romantic relationship in the morning despite the massive amounts of evidence pointing to the contrary,” he sniffed.

“Of course not,” John shot back dryly, a sleepy smile softening his words.

“You were!” Sherlock furrowed a brow indignantly. “I don’t know why you would think that. I thoroughly enjoyed our snogging last night, and before that I had propositioned you—poorly, I admit, but did nonetheless—so I am absolutely confused why you would assume that because I was not in bed when you awoke, it obviously meant that I had changed my mind. Ergo, you are an idiot.”

“Yes, I am an idiot.” John nodded gravely. “A stupid man who desperately wants to snog you and then shag your brains out on this bed.”

Sherlock lost his bluster at these words. He wasn’t sure if he was more pleased or embarrassed by John’s words, and it culminated in a rush of blood to both his genitals and cheeks. He wasn’t sure which one was winning.  John grinned roguishly below him. “We should, um, breakfast.” Sherlock’s voice cracked and stumbled on the last word and he scrambled to the safety of the solid floor, away from the soft skin and dense muscle of the gorgeous man in his bed.

John let out an amused chuckle and sat up. “Sherlock suggesting food? This is a turn of events.” He eyed Sherlock’s wide eyes and flushed cheeks, followed by a long, lingering glance at the man’s crotch. “Aw, come here, Love. I didn’t mean to make you nervous. Like I said, we’ll go at the pace you like. But you can’t expect me not to tease you every once in awhile. I happen to find it incredibly hot that you’re a virgin.” He wrapped his arms loosely around Sherlock’s waist, bringing him back to the edge of the bed and burrowing his face into the thin man’s chest. “And even more so, that you’re mine.” He punctuated the statement with a gentle nip to Sherlock’s skin making him jump a little.

“It’s um, it’s alright. I was just uh, thinking that you would like some breakfast. Isn’t that what boyfriends do? Feed them up? Like you said at Angelo’s that first night?” John pulled his head back in surprise to look up at Sherlock. He was met with a tentative yet assertive look.

“Well, not all boyfriends do. People show they care in different ways. That’s just one way partners can show it. But if you’re offering, I’m not going to say no. A good fry-up sounds good about now.”

Sherlock gave him a condescending look. “By breakfast, I meant that you would make it. I was merely mentioning it to you so you would remember.”

John chuckled at the familiar Sherlock-ness of the statement—it was good to know that the bumbling Sherlock was merely making an appearance, not a permanent new facet to Sherlock’s personality. As adorable as it was, John knew Sherlock was more comfortable when imperious and in control. “Yes, yes, of course. Heaven forbid you set foot in the kitchen to actually cook something edible.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I will be waiting in the sitting room.”

 

--

 

By the time John finished cooking breakfast—including a plate for Sherlock; the git wasn’t getting out of eating just yet—Sherlock had moved from the couch, his bored façade not quite up to the standard it usually was, and was hanging around the kitchen getting in John’s way. “You know, there are perfectly serviceable chairs at the table you could sit on instead of being underfoot when I’m cooking.” Sherlock sat in one and looked expectantly at John. “What?”

Sherlock shrugged. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. Is it customary to make small talk with one’s new partner?”

John couldn’t help a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. It was so adorable how Sherlock was trying to be all couple-y yet still treating it like a business function, all stiff and trying to follow the rules of etiquette in an effort to make a good impression. He placed a plate in front of Sherlock, kissing his forehead as he leant over. “Like I said, treat us like we always are. I’m not expecting you to do anything—well, not cheat on me, I suppose—” Sherlock looked at John, appalled that such an idea had even crossed his mind. (Reminder to ask John about all past relationships, in particular, cheating partners. Then track said partners down and have a swift and threatening chat.) “But remember, you and I are still Sherlock and John. Just with added physical intimacy.”

Sherlock nodded gravely. He picked up his fork and then put it back down, reaching out his left hand across the top of the table. John looked at it and then reached his right hand out to clasp them together. With a small smile, Sherlock picked his fork up again and began eating little bites (John could tell that he was hoping the increased amount of bites would distract him from noticing that Sherlock only ate a third of it, but he had to pick his battles.).

 

--

 

After breakfast, Sherlock was getting anxious, tapping his hands on the furniture as he passed them while pacing around the living room. “Jawwwn, why are there no murders today?”

“Maybe they’re all taking the day off to celebrate our first snog together,” John replied impishly.

Sherlock groaned. “Stop being stupid and help me; I’m so incredibly, ridiculously, unbearably bored.”

John pushed his laptop aside from where he’d been working on it in his lap. “Okay, come here, you big baby. Don’t give me that look; you’re 20 seconds away from throwing a toddler tantrum. Here, how about we snog for a bit. That might loosen you up.”

“How do you expect a few kisses to ‘loosen me up’?” Sherlock gave John a distasteful look. “There is no ‘OFF’ switch on m—.” Turns out there was, and it involved a pair of John’s lips pressed to the rosy pink pair of Sherlock’s. John gently introduced a flicker of tongue and cupped Sherlock’s cheeks between his hands. He tried to keep one step ahead of Sherlock’s train of thought—if there even was one right now; it appeared all coherent thought may have been lost, as was the obvious path of his diction—pushing and pulling, teasing and licking the pliant mouth above him. He finally released Sherlock’s lips to begin leaving kisses along one sharp cheekbone and up to his temple. Then, carding his fingers through the soft curls on Sherlock’s head, John began making his way down the long, pale neck. It was like kissing acres and acres of creamy  silk, the smooth skin practically melting into the curve of John’s lips. Giving into temptation, John sucked a mark on the bare collarbone revealed by the opening of Sherlock’s bathrobe. Encouraged by Sherlock’s breathy gasp and his own possessive nature, he left another one right under Sherlock’s jaw. Pulling away to admire the new mark, John was distracted by the pleasure on Sherlock’s face; the swollen lips, flushed cheeks, and half-lidded eyes. What could be seen of his eyes was almost entirely pupil, with a thin ring of blue and gold flecks. “God, you’re beautiful,” he breathed out reverently.

“Mmm,” was Sherlock’s dazed reply. He reached his large hands out to John, dragging him up to his body and slowly grinding his erection into the smaller man. John let out a long, low groan. Sherlock did it again, the feel of John’s jumper pressing against his pants-clad erection pulling an equally long and even lower groan from his own chest. He could vaguely feel John’s own erection pressing into his thigh, but was too overcome with sensation to do much about it besides grind his hips into John again. John slipped his hand between them before Sherlock could initiate a fourth grind, and covered his hand over the burning member trapped in the taller man’s pants. “Oh! Oh, John,” Sherlock whispered, eyes falling closed. He forced his eyes back open to look down and take in the image of John’s hand cupping his swollen erection.  The contrast between John’s short, tan fingers and Sherlock’s pale skin broken by the black silk and bulging erection would forever be ingrained in his memory. He would think about this moment for days after, lying on the sofa pretending to reorganize his mind palace.

Then John applied even pressure and twisted his palm. The drag of pressure made Sherlock’s breath stutter, and suddenly he was coming. The sticky feel of semen darkened a spot on the front of his pants as his legs collapsed, giving his body over to gravity. John caught him on the way down and cradled him in his lap, combing the curls away from his face as Sherlock’s ability to breathe slowly returned. His penis was rapidly softening, leaving the wet fabric to cling to his body. He could feel the first tendrils of shame begin to edge in on his consciousness. He hadn’t even lasted three minutes! What a cripplingly embarrassing first orgasm in front of John; he was a bloody teenager who couldn’t even hold off until his penis was out of his pants. He turned his face away from John’s body and the hands carding through his hair, but John simply turned him back, until the younger man gradually registered the soft words John was murmuring. “Oh, that was beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. I will never forget the look on your face. You are breathtaking when you’re coming. You beautiful man.”

The words evoked a spot of warmth in his chest again, a familiar reminder to all those previous times when John had protected or defended him, and Sherlock had (then) been obliviously confused about that resulting twist of warmth. The warmth in his chest now grew and spread like fire on steel wool, jumping his nerve endings and leaving them glowing with heat. John loved him. John loved him. He felt iridescently happy. Like nothing could touch him; nothing could ruin him. He looked up at John and whatever was projected on his face made John smile and kiss him softly.

Abruptly, Sherlock became sharply aware of the distinct pressure of a rigid length poking into him. John, perfect John, read his facial expression and cut off his panic. “It’s alright, Sherlock. I’m not expecting anything. It’s just a response to having you in my lap. Or really, anywhere in the room.” He gave Sherlock an earnest smile. “I can’t really help it. You’re so bloody gorgeous and graceful. I know you hate it when I repeat myself, but I just can’t stop saying it. You’re beautiful.”

Sherlock replied shyly, “No, it’s alright. I like it. No one’s called me that. Well, if they do, it’s followed by It’s too bad you’re a rude, arrogant twit. And then Piss off.” John laughed, the corner of his eyes crinkling, and head thrown back. John was beautiful too. “You’re beautiful too. When you laugh. Your eyes do a squinty thing and you get a crease between your eyes right there. No, don’t look at me like that. I like it. Your white teeth contrast with the tan of your face, and your laugh sounds so happy. It makes you beautiful.”

“Who knew Sherlock was a romantic?” John teased him.

Sherlock made a face. “Don’t ever associate me with that word again, or I will burn holes in all your jumpers.”

“You were going to do that at some point anyways,” John pointed out.

“For science, obviously. But this would be for revenge.”

John giggled. “And then I would make you go out and buy me more.”

“But at least they’d be nice jumpers. Blue ones to bring out your eyes. And a nice grey one for lounging around on Sundays. And a cream one. They’d all have to be cashmere, of course, because then they’d be comfortable for me to feel against my skin.”

“Because we are worried about if they please your skin even though I’m the one who’s going to be wearing them.” John shot back. “And Oi, my jumpers are perfectly fine. Just because you buy me ones that cost more than my paycheck doesn’t make them better. These are comfortable.”

Sherlock sniffed. “Now that you are my boyfriend, am I not allowed to insult your clothing choice, even if it’s atrocious?”

“Yes.” John nodded stubbornly. He grinned. “Oh, I think I’m going to enjoy this.”

Sherlock swatted his chest him playfully. “Shut it.”