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"I adore you."

John stops, rests his hand on the doorjamb, and slowly shakes his head. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Is that an explanation or an attempt to mollify me?"

"Both," Sherlock says, and John turns around. Sherlock is standing in the space between the kitchen and sitting room, a blasted teacup in his hands.

"You set her up. You knew there was a head in the fridge and yet you still asked Laura to get the milk." Then she'd run off and John needed to follow her. Should be doing so right now.

"In my defense, I was trying to be nice. I even made her tea." Sherlock pauses. "I just hadn't expected her to be so dull."

"You think everyone is dull," John answers. "Especially the women I'm dating."

"She wasn't right for you. None of them have been."

"And you know who is right for me, I suppose?" John asks, stepping away from the door and back into the flat.

"Of course."

"Well?"

Sherlock gives him the 'I can't believe you are this bloody slow' look, but answers anyway. "You need someone smart. You're not as clever as I am, obviously—"

"Obviously."

"But you're still well above average. Laura wasn't."

"She went to Cambridge," John says, ignoring how good it feels to have Sherlock acknowledge that John is not, in fact, as dumb as a stump.

"And graduated by shagging at least three of her professors."

Knowing better than to ask how Sherlock arrived at that conclusion, John drops onto the couch. "All right, Mr. Expert, what else?"

"Self-sufficiency. You need someone who can take of herself, who has her own life, who doesn't cling."

"Who won't protest when I go running off with you, in other words," John says, unsure if he is amused or annoyed.

"Precisely. Someone patient, for the same reasons. Also, someone who is resourceful and calm in dangerous situations since being with you may lead to kidnappings and such."

"And such," John says, but Sherlock is oblivious to sarcasm when it's directed at him and he merely nods.

"Unflappability would be good, as well," Sherlock says. "Not getting upset at eyeballs, heads and various viscera."

"You do realize you've described me?"

"Only partially. I left out the tendency to giggle following a rush of adrenaline."

"I do not giggle," John puts in, but Sherlock continues as though he hadn't spoken.

"The way your face crinkles when you smile. The temper that goes as quickly as it comes. The way you let me push only so far but no farther. The efficient yet soothing manner in which you stitch up wounds. The way you seem to function as some sort of grounding rod, keeping me connected to the world." Sherlock frowns when he gets to the end, as though that last bit is puzzling.

John stares at him. Blinks. "You adore me."

"We've already established that. Do try to keep up."

Smiling, John gets up from the couch. "You know, I think I will have that cuppa after all."

***

Staring up at his ceiling, John smiles. He's been smiling pretty much the whole night, even though he's certain Laura isn't going to want to see him again after the head. It's his fault really; he shouldn't have agreed to meet her at the flat before going out, but there was only so long you could put off bringing dates to yours before they started to suspect there was something wrong with you.

Or in John's case, something wrong with his flatmate.

In truth, John didn't much care what Laura thought, hadn't given it a moment's consideration since Sherlock had made his declaration.

Sherlock adored him. He, John Watson, was adored by Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock was brilliant -- as well as arrogant, infuriating, obsessive, and, well, a whole bunch of other things -- and he adored John.

John was adored.

Girlfriend or not, life was damned good.

***

Sherlock is doing his thing, crawling around on the ground and eyeing the scene of the crime through his lens.

John is standing next to Lestrade watching and smiling.

"Things with Laura must be going well," Lestrade says.

"We broke up."

"Sorry, mate."

"Head in the fridge," John says by way of explanation.

"Ahh." Lestrade glances at him. "Someone new then? You look awfully happy for a man who just got dumped."

"I'm adored."

"Congratulations."

"Thank you." After a moment, John adds, "By Sherlock," even though Lestrade didn't ask. "He actually said the words out loud."

"That's—" For a moment Lestrade appears to be at a loss for words. "I always thought maybe you two would end up together."

John frowns, shakes his head. "It's not… We're not... It's platonic."

"Platonic adoration?" Lestrade asks with a tilt of his head.

Before John can answer, Sherlock gestures for them to come look at the body.

***

Three days later the case is solved. John laughs as he comes down from his adrenaline high and follows Sherlock into the flat. Sherlock's a little scraped up from a fall while they were chasing the murderer, but otherwise they're both fine.

"Bathroom," John says, and even though Sherlock is quite capable of cleaning his own scrapes and applying a couple of plasters, John does it for him, taking special care with Sherlock's palm, which still has a bit of gravel in it.

Sherlock stands when John is finished and puts his arm briefly around John's shoulders in a one-armed hug that's over before John can decide how to respond. "Thank you," he says.

Then he goes, leaving John staring after him.

***

In the five days following the solution of the case, Sherlock touches John ten times. There's nothing strange about any of them, other than the fact that John counts them.

There is no reason John should notice a pat on the shoulder as Sherlock passes behind him while John's seated at the kitchen table. Absolutely no reason he should be thinking about it the next day. But he is.

When Sherlock, freshly awakened from an afternoon kip on the sofa, sits up to make room for John, there's no reason for John to brush Sherlock's hair from his eyes either, but he does. Sherlock doesn't say a word, just leans into John and rests his head on John's shoulder.

Picking up the remote, John turns on Misfits simply because the sheer improbability of it annoys Sherlock and a ranting Sherlock is more familiar, less distracting than the cuddly version currently resting against John's side.

Instead of ranting, Sherlock closes his eyes.

John wonders if Sherlock would be more comfortable if John moved his arm, maybe put it around Sherlock's shoulders.

"Yes, we're going to have sex eventually," Sherlock says.

John swallows. "We are?" he asks, even though he's fairly certain his reaction, or rather his non-reaction, means Sherlock is right.

"Eventually. When you've become comfortable with the idea."

"Oh, um, okay."

"You should fantasize. It'll speed up the adjustment process. It did for me."

"You've… fantasized… about us?"

"Problem?"

"No, no, no problem," John says, and, yeah, that's a dead giveaway right there. Being fantasized about someone you don't fancy is creepy, but John isn't creeped out, far from it. "So, um, what did we do in these fantasies?"

"Kissed. I assumed you'd be good at it."

"An accurate assumption, if I do say so myself."

"We'll see," Sherlock says, and it sounds almost teasing.

"Anything else?" John asks, because he wants to know.

"Touching. Fellatio. Anal sex."

"The whole gamut then."

"Not quite. Don't worry," Sherlock says, shifting so he can wrap an arm around John's waist. "It will take us some time to get to the last one."

"And you don't mind that?"

"Obviously not."

With Sherlock's new position, the only logical place for John's arm is around Sherlock's shoulder, so he moves it. "How come?"

"You know my methods."

"All right." John considers what he knows about Sherlock. It doesn't take long. The answer's obvious. "New data. You're expecting there will be a lot of new data to process, thus no need to hurry in acquiring more."

"You know me so well," Sherlock says, nestling into John's side with a sigh.

John tries to turn his attention back to the telly, but there's an advert on. "I adore you, too."

"Yes," Sherlock says. "I know."