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all things warm and tender

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There’s a fire burning in the hearth at 221B.

The sitting room glows, flickering with shadow and flame. The rest of the flat is dark and quiet; the doors are locked. The curtains are pulled shut against the night and the patter of the rain on the windows, and on the rug between the two armchairs, wrapped in a cocoon of rosy light and a mountain of blankets and pillows, with only the crackle of the fire to break the cushioning silence, John is watching Sherlock sleep.

It’s been raining for days, and London has been wet and cold and grey without reprieve. The melancholy has been seeping into the corners of the flat, and John had come home from the shops late that afternoon to find Sherlock at the window, staring without seeing. When John called his name, Sherlock had turned to him, looking blank and a little raw, and John’s heart had throbbed along an old, familiar break.

Although there are years now separating them from the terror of Moriarty and his aftermath—the two and a half years spent apart in grief, the assassin posing as loving wife, the trio of ringing gunshots—the memories are still a spectre in their lives, dark and burdensome.

And John had known something had to be done.

They’ve been here for a while now. Sherlock’s cheek is pressed to John’s bare chest and he is warm, and heavy, and solid, and the weight of him slung halfway across John’s torso is a visceral comfort. John basks in the luxury of laying here with him, breathing in sync with him, watching the fire glinting chestnut and copper in his curls, and it seems like time has crawled to a stop.

Then Sherlock begins to shift, making a low sound in his throat and stretching sleep-warm muscles. John brushes Sherlock’s fringe back from his face, lingering on his temple, his cheekbones, and Sherlock's eyes crack open, revealing a hazy sliver that reflects green with the glimmer of the fire.

“Hey, you,” John says softly, affectionately, smoothing a hand up Sherlock’s spine. Sherlock sighs, pushes back into his touch, and a pleased sound rumbles in his chest.

“John,” Sherlock mumbles in greeting, with a soft, sleepy sort of smile as he closes his eyes again and rubs his cheek against John’s chest. “S’warm.”

John pulls away the heavier blanket covering them and leaves them with just a thin white sheet. “Better?”

“Mm.” Sherlock settles again, sprawled over John, nosing at his collarbone. “Thank you.” It’s a thank you for more than just the blankets, John knows, but he only nudges his lips against Sherlock’s head in acknowledgement.

The sitting room is hushed, lit only by darkened ambers and golds, and they revel in it as Sherlock drifts around the edges between sleep and awake. They run their fingertips, slowly, gently, over familiar arms and backs and bellies and forearms, a casual physicality they’ve grown used to as the boundaries of their bodies subside and they only exist somewhere in the overlap, the extension of themselves through the other.

Eventually, though, Sherlock settles into wakefulness. He rubs his cheek against John’s chest and then tilts his face up. “What’re you thinking about?”

John could say something loving and poetic, like the way the light catches in your hair or the smell of you all sleepy, and those things would be true. But he feels Sherlock’s need for conversation in the tension in his knees and elbows, so instead he kisses Sherlock’s forehead and says, “That case with the theatre ghost and how I’m going to write it up.”

Sherlock scoffs and sighs dramatically, “You’ll over-romanticise it again, I suppose,” and John can only giggle and agree.

It’s no less intimate, no less important, to talk about the mundane. No less soothing. A little conversation can go a long way in drawing Sherlock out of the vaults of his memories.

They whisper for ages about nothing in particular, and everything: their latest cases, the shopping list, the experiment marinating in the lower left crisper drawer of the fridge. They crack jokes about clueless clients and the idiots down at the Yard, laughing into each other’s skin. They murmur about their plans for the next week, the next year, the next decade, Sussex with a dog. Sherlock buries his face into John’s neck and asks if John will look into adding a sturdier handrail to the stairs for Mrs Hudson. John pets his curls and kisses his temple and promises to call the handyman in the morning and for a while they are quiet.

Occasionally there’s kissing. Sherlock’s mouth is a little pink around the edges from the kissing. Sometimes it’s somber and serious, but mostly it’s playful, delighted, chuckling into each other’s mouths, and it is all the time peaceful, uncomplicated, calm.

The fire slowly dies down, snapping and popping as the logs begin breaking under the heat. John lies on his side, propping himself up to look down at Sherlock, stretched out on his back, and walks his fingers up Sherlock’s chest. The light from the hearth pools in the gnarled pock just to the left of Sherlock’s midline and John brushes his fingers over it, fits the pad of his thumb into it.

“I love you,” John says quietly, simply.

Sherlock catches John’s hand in his and pulls it to his lips, kissing his fingers, and just says, “John.”

John twists his fingers in Sherlock’s grip and stretches to line their fingers up, sinking back into the quiet, studying the way Sherlock’s hand dwarfs his own. Sherlock curls his fingers so their fingertips touch, bracing against each other. When John glances up, he finds a fond upturn of lip and those brilliant clear eyes looking back.

“You are incredible,” John tells him firmly, holding his gaze. After the sacrifices Sherlock had made, the wounds he had borne, that Sherlock is here, now, bathed in firelight and naked under John’s hand, is nothing short of a miracle. “You’re amazing.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Sherlock retorts, but his smile grows.

“No,” John insists, “I’m right.” He reaches up and presses a kiss to the hinge of Sherlock’s jaw, letting the ghosts of their past fall away into something more lighthearted. “You’re the best, and wisest, and kindest--”

Sherlock snorts to hide a chuckle. “Liar.”

“Not at all, beautiful,” John says, pressing another kiss to Sherlock’s pinking cheekbone. “You great gorgeous human being.”

Sherlock clears his throat skeptically and tries to roll away, but John catches the pleased look on his face and stops him, pinning him into place with a hand splayed on the middle of his stomach and watching with amusement as Sherlock tries--unsuccessfully--to school his expression into disdain or disinterest.

“Genius,” John says, watching the flush deepen on Sherlock's cheeks. He can’t resist the bashfulness of that look, even after all this time. “Brilliant, fantastic, magnificent. Positively sensational.

“John,” Sherlock admonishes, sniffing delicately, but he’s unable to keep the corners of his mouth turned down. “Is this really necessary?”

John grins as he plants kisses down Sherlock’s neck and across his chest. Sherlock has stopped trying to wiggle away and his smile is growing alongside his blush, so John pitches his voice low and carries on. “Yes, it is actually, ‘cause you’re a bloody marvel. It’s ridiculously hot, honestly. It’s insanely, unfairly sexy.”

Sherlock laughs despite himself and, flustered, ducks under the blanket to hide his reddening face. “Oh, no you don’t,” John growls mischievously, reaching for him, tickling him through the sheet until he’s writhing and John can feel his belly shaking with suppressed laughter even as some of it squeaks past his lips.

Grinning and giggling, John slides back down under the sheet and pulls it over his head. He finds Sherlock waiting for him, eyes bright and hair wild, the firelight bleeding through the thin fabric, colouring everything in soft peach and topaz, and in that moment he is so suddenly, unexpectedly, ethereally beautiful that John forgets how to breathe.

“Sherlock,” he croaks when he finds the air in his lungs again, and then Sherlock is kissing him.

It’s not like the playful pecks and sweet brushes they’ve been giving each other all night. Something in the atmosphere has changed and Sherlock is kissing him, properly kissing him. John groans as Sherlock nips at his lip and they shift closer, chest to chest, knee to knee. One of John’s hand finds the line of Sherlock’s jaw and the other smooths down his side, over his hip, delicate skin and hard bone.

When the air becomes too stuffy under the sheet John flips it off, uncovering them, and he pushes Sherlock back against the pile of blankets and pillows, spreading him out before the fire. The flames make him glow, honeying his pale skin, and Sherlock looks like a star, like the luminescence is coming from inside him.

John straddles his hips and kisses him, stroking his thumbs across his cheekbones. “I love you,” he whispers against his lips. “God, I am so in love with you.”

Beneath him, Sherlock shivers, but when he opens his mouth nothing comes out, so John just kisses him again. John knows. He doesn’t have to hear it said. He sees it in Sherlock all the time, in the way Sherlock looks at him, the way Sherlock reaches for him and trusts that John will be there.

So John kisses him and runs his fingers through his curls, taking his time, setting their arousal to simmer, until Sherlock wriggles his hips underneath him and pulls back, panting, and says, “John. John, please.”

John moves his mouth along the line of his jaw and starts down his neck, kissing and licking and nibbling, grinding down onto Sherlock’s erection. “Anything you want,” he promises. “Anything.”

Sherlock doesn’t answer; instead he tips his head back, giving John better access to the stretch of his throat, and pushes his hips up. He runs his palms up and down John’s thighs, brushing his thumbs ever closer to his groin in obvious suggestion. John doesn’t press him. They’ve been doing this long enough now that John knows what Sherlock likes and John can lead for a while, if Sherlock wants him to.

He kisses his way down Sherlock’s chest, paying careful attention to the sensitive places over the sides of his ribs and above his navel, drawing out the huffs of breath that toe the line between gasp and giggle. The fireglow on Sherlock’s skin catches on his scars like ribbons of light and John licks over them, listening to the hitches in Sherlock’s throat.

“You’re stunning,” John says against his trembling tummy, and Sherlock clutches at his shoulders, his biceps. “You’re exquisite. I love every brilliant inch of you, even that grey hair you found last week.”

Under his lips, Sherlock’s stomach quakes with a grumbling laughter and John presses his grin into the soft skin just below his belly button, steadfastly ignoring the straining cock by his chin, and kisses all the delicate places until Sherlock is breathless with anticipation, instead of amusement.

John continues his way down slowly, deliberately, slipping his knees back into the space between Sherlock’s thighs and settling between them. John kisses again over Sherlock’s tummy and along his hips, skirting past Sherlock’s groin and ignoring his cock in favour of kissing a path over the crease where Sherlock’s thigh meets his abdomen and then sweeping down to nibble at the sensitive flesh of his inner thighs.

Eventually, John lays out on his belly, pressing his own stiff cock into the blankets, and looks up as Sherlock props himself up on his elbows to watch what he’s about to do. “All right?” John asks.

The corners of Sherlock’s mouth quirk up. “I think I’m about to be.”

John barks out a laugh and lowers his head to drag his nose over the base of Sherlock’s cock. “You think so? Is this what you’d like? For me to suck you?”

“Yes,” Sherlock says, and it would have been sassy, bossy even, if not for his fingers reaching down to grasp desperately at John’s.

John smirks, but he threads their fingers together and squeezes Sherlock’s hand reassuringly before flicking his tongue out over Sherlock’s cock. He groans at the taste of him, clean and unfiltered and sleep-warm, musky and earthy, a little salty with sweat from lying so close to the fire, and Sherlock groans back.

Kitten licks at the glans, broad swipes along the shaft, swirling softly around the head: John takes his time, paying attention to every centimeter of Sherlock’s cock, leisurely revisiting how pressing his tongue to each and every inch can make Sherlock sound. He can make such a glorious number of noises, a veritable orchestra of moans and gasps and whimpers.

When Sherlock’s chest is heaving and his thighs are quivering, John squeezes his hand again and then dips down, past his bollocks, and presses his tongue along his perineum. Sherlock makes a sound high and tight behind his nose and his hips lift of their own accord, pressing himself toward John. He drags his palm over his face and down his chest, like he might grab at his cock and stroke himself, but at the last minute he reaches instead for the blankets, grabbing at fistfuls.

John takes it as a cue to fit a cushion under Sherlock's hips, then he throws Sherlock’s legs over his shoulders, grasps the back of his thighs, and pulls him into a better position. He takes a moment to admire the sight of him, wanton and wanting, then uses his thumbs to spread Sherlock’s cheeks and dives down to lick gently along the cleft of his arse.

Sherlock shudders, pulling his legs up further to give John better access, moaning John’s name behind his teeth. “Yes, John, John, John . . .”

“You’re fantastic,” John answers, blowing cool over the furled muscle of his hole. It clenches in response, and then John can’t speak anymore. He pushes closer, closer, to press a kiss right to that sensitive place. It’s not the best position for it, but with Sherlock bent practically in half, it works all right.

Sherlock writhes as John licks at him, hips shifting wildly, trying to grind down toward him. He bucks, and twists, and John loves the sounds he makes, loves even more that he knows Sherlock’s hands are still fisted in the sheets instead of wrapped around his cock as he lets John do this, lets John give him this, trusts John to bring him to the edge.

John forms his tongue into a point and nudges his way into Sherlock’s body, fucking Sherlock with his mouth. It doesn’t take long until he’s coiled tight, standing at the peak, unable to tip over, and still Sherlock doesn’t reach for his cock.

“John,” Sherlock gasps instead, tilting his hips to urge John’s tongue deeper, “John, fuck. Fuck me.”

John laps at him a few more times before he pulls back, trading his tongue for his thumb, pressing lightly against the loosened rim. “No lube,” he says, unable to tear his eyes away from the twitch of Sherlock’s hole under his touch. “I’ll have to go get it.” He doesn’t move, though, transfixed.

Sherlock groans. “There’s--there's lube in my chair. Left side of the cushion.”

“Oh god, Sherlock, you can’t keep lube hidden in your chair,” but John is already reaching and sure enough, tucked on the left side between the cushion and the arm, he finds a tube of lubricant.

The first finger slides inside easily, the path eased by John’s mouth and slippery with saliva, so John pulls back and slips in a second. Sherlock keeps up a litany of whimpers and whines and moans, rocking his hips down onto John’s hand.

“God, look at you,” John whispers, sending his free hand down to stroke at his own neglected cock for a moment. Sherlock is becoming unruly, almost ferocious in his need, with his dark curls turned to chaos as he tosses his head from side to side, the fluid, buttery-orange light of the fire gleaming as it catches on droplets of perspiration forming on his chest, his throat, his forehead. “Sherlock, oh, my god. What do you--how do you want it?”

There’s a pause, then Sherlock shakes his head as if coming out of a daydream and raises himself up onto his hands. The movement makes his body clench around John’s fingers, and John’s cock jerks eagerly at the sensation. “Sit--sit back against that,” Sherlock says, waving a hand at his armchair.

John slips his fingers out and sits on his arse in front of Sherlock’s chair, just far enough away from it that he can lean back against it comfortably. Sherlock follows after him, grabbing the lube and tipping a good amount onto his hand.

Then Sherlock surprises him by leaning down and taking the head of John’s cock into his mouth, closing those incredible lips around him and sucking ever so slightly, wrenching a gritted noise from John’s chest. Sherlock wraps his slick palm around John’s shaft, stroking up to the close of his lips before stroking back down, fondling John’s balls, and repeating the move several times, slow, wet, tonguing at his slit, thumbing at just the right spot on the underside of his shaft.

“Sherlock, Sherlock, stop stop stop--” The heat of Sherlock’s mouth around him is too much, too surprising, too wickedly good. “I’m too close, come up here, come on now, let me have you.” Sherlock pops off with a dramatic wet sound and then shifts into John’s lap, straddling him on his knees.

“Shall I?” Sherlock asks, breathless, still holding John’s cock with one hand behind him.

John looks up at him, at the mess of his hair, at his eyes darkened with shadow and arousal, at the firelight dancing over one side of his neck and chest and shoulder, hip and thigh, before fading into blackness on the other side of him. Sherlock looks like a dream, a fantasy, like some otherworldly denizen who might at any moment slip away with the light, and John’s mouth goes dry with urgency, with the need to feel him, to be closer, to be enveloped in the reality of him. “God, yes,” he chokes out. “Please, Sherlock.”

Sherlock leans forward and catches John’s mouth in a suddenly soft kiss, an almost innocent press of lips so obviously filled with love that it hurts under John’s breastbone. Sherlock pulls back just a fraction, rubbing the tip of his nose on John’s.

“John,” he breathes, and John knows exactly what Sherlock means as he sinks down onto his cock.

The juxtaposition of that soft kiss, the tender way Sherlock says his name against the tight, wet heat of him, the thrum of his body pressed to John’s, the relief of being taken inside, all builds in John’s chest into a long, low rumble of pleasure. Sherlock slides down, down, until he’s taken John to the hilt, curving his pelvis back to settle his arse onto John’s thighs, and then stops for a moment, adjusting, breathing.

John can’t stop touching him, running his hands over Sherlock’s thighs, over the roundness of his arse and up his stomach. His heaving ribs slide against John’s palms as he reaches up Sherlock’s back, touching his shoulder blades before sweeping back over his sides and moving up his chest, brushing his fingers to the column of Sherlock’s neck, where he finds Sherlock’s pulse pounding.

“All right?” He can feel Sherlock’s body starting to shift around him and knows he’s about to start moving.

“Yes,” Sherlock says, decisively, dragging out the s sound between his teeth as he raises himself up, slowly, eyes closed in concentration, and then back down. He moves with intention, rolling his hips in a slow, deliberate rhythm that teases them both, and John aches at the feel of him.

He wants to grab Sherlock by the hips and thrust up into him, to fall back into his animal brain and let instinct overrun him, but John fights himself into stillness. He knows this is more than that, more than just want and need. It’s important, this: an intimacy that speaks of devotion, of a longing so great it’s never quite fulfilled.

Sherlock rides him at that unhurried pace for ages, it feels like, throwing his head back and letting John lick and suck and nibble up his neck, his curls wrecked around John’s fingers. With John buried inside him, touching him everywhere, the firelight on Sherlock’s skin makes him warm and real, gilded with champagne and flushed petal-pink. Sherlock’s mouth hangs open, gasping every time he slides down with the hint of his voice building in his throat, his hands clutching John’s shoulders, wrapping around the back of John’s neck, and it’s amazing, it’s glorious, that slow slick slide.

John can feel Sherlock’s heart beat everywhere. It beats around his cock, in the hand he has settled at Sherlock’s neck, in the hollows of his own chest. He wraps an arm around Sherlock’s waist to hold him steady as he finally starts to thrust, just a little, and Sherlock tilts his whole body back to get a better angle. One of John’s hands splays in the middle of Sherlock’s spine, and John feels Sherlock’s heart racing there, too, as Sherlock draws up and pushes back down, tummy and thighs trembling with effort.

Sherlock keeps up that maddeningly measured pace until they are both desperate, grunting and groaning, then he slumps down into John’s lap, pausing for a moment with John inside him, panting, a lapful of long limbs. John tightens his arm around his waist, pulling him even closer, and catches his hand, tangling their fingers together, clasping it tight in reassurance.

After Sherlock pulls himself back from the brink, he collapses forward against John and pushes their foreheads together, eyelashes fluttering but not quite managing to open.

“John,” he says, the words spoken close enough to feel on John’s own lips. “John. I love you.”

The declaration, almost whispered but for the urgency building between them, flares in John’s chest and he finds Sherlock’s mouth, letting the kiss turn hard and rough, not moving except to wind their arms closer around each other, teeth and tongues and lips bruising against each other. He is trying to say something but doesn't quite know what; John wants to tell him about endless stars in clear velvet nights, about familiar cups of coffee sitting side by side, about fate and forever, but he doesn't have the words to explain all of those things, so John just holds Sherlock to him and kisses him instead.

Finally Sherlock breaks away and shifts, slides up and off with a whimper. John uses his hands on Sherlock’s torso, palms on his ribs, to guide him, to lower him to his back in the nest of pillows and blankets. John reaches again for the pillow that he’d used before, shoving it up under Sherlock’s hips, and finds the lube in the sheets.

“What do you want, love?” John asks, even as he coats his fingers again. He won’t presume now, won’t assume he’s welcome back inside now that Sherlock has lifted away from him. “Come on, you’ve got to tell me. Finish you with my hand? My mouth?”

“Come back,” Sherlock says, and John hears the note of a plea in his voice and in the way he pushes his arse down toward John. “Please come back.”

John slips his fingers down to Sherlock’s hole, making sure everything is still wet and open and ready. He bites along the ridge of Sherlock’s hip bone as he takes a moment to feel him, spreading fresh lubricant around his rim before pushing inside and grazing over his prostate.

Sherlock wriggles his hips, fucks himself down onto John’s fingers, and begs. “Please, please, come back.”

He doesn’t beg very often. The sound of it resonates through John’s veins, ringing like a bell, a clear calling.

John crawls up Sherlock’s body, lining himself back up as Sherlock wraps his legs around John’s waist. He pushes inside with just the head of his cock, massaging Sherlock’s perineum with one hand. “Is it all right?” he manages to ask. “You okay?”

Sherlock closes one hand around the back of John’s neck and pushes himself up to take a kiss. “Yes, come on.”

Now that they’ve changed positions John wants to start again from the beginning, let the build-up grow slowly, keep the desperation at bay, but Sherlock has his eyes scrunched closed, the wrinkle across the bridge of his nose cutting deep, and there’s a whine or a whimper trapped in his throat. The need is so close, bubbling just under the surface, and John can’t deny him.

John starts to rock, pushing deeper and deeper, Sherlock’s hands clutching at the blankets around him and at John in turn, scrabbling across John’s shoulders, running through his hair, running down his sides. They move together as though they were built this way, as though there is no other way to move, no other tempo they could possibly bear.

The sight of Sherlock under him, trusting him, curls sweat-damp around his face in the creamy yellow of the fire-lit blankets, makes something big and soft and tender-edged in John swell with emotion. Sherlock is utterly adrift in the sensations, in smooth slippery slide of John deep inside him, and John loves him so completely it feels like an anchor deep under his sternum, heavy and solid.

They’d come so close to losing this forever.

“Sherlock,” John bites out, suddenly wanting a reaction, wanting to know that Sherlock is still here with him. “Sherlock, oh, my god.”

In response, Sherlock hitches his hips up to take John deeper, faster, and John knows it’s time. He takes Sherlock’s cock in hand, smoothing precome and lube down his length, and Sherlock lets his hips push him back onto John and then up into John’s fist. John kisses his collar bones and his neck and along his jaw and then his mouth, promising an end.

His thrusts have grown long and deep, harder and rougher. Their skin, hot and sweaty, slides smoothly against one another, drowning in the light. The weight of John’s arousal sits heavily in his groin, and it’s all he can do to keep pumping his hips, meeting every wordless plea of Sherlock’s body, rubbing at Sherlock’s cock as he keens beneath him.

“Now, love,” John demands, right at the moment he feels Sherlock start to clench around him. “Let it go, now.”

Every muscle in Sherlock’s body constricts and he bows his head in, slamming his forehead into John’s shoulder and gritting his teeth as his whole body curls up and he begins to come. His body is a vise around John’s cock and John thrusts shallowly, trying to hit his prostate to prolong his orgasm and maybe come with him, until Sherlock’s mouth opens against John’s skin and he makes a tiny high noise in the back of his mouth, and John stills, letting Sherlock gently ride the rest of the orgasm out with only a few soft strokes of his hand.

He loves when Sherlock comes like this, when he tries to close his body around John’s and curl into him. It makes John feel needed, the way Sherlock pulls him closer, like Sherlock would merge into one body with him if he could. John loves this, bringing Sherlock to orgasm, he loves the way Sherlock falls apart around him and then melts into him, he loves that Sherlock trusts him with this, he loves that after all this time they are still incredible together, they are still finishing breathlessly, they are still able to coax orgasms that blaze in the best possible way out of one another.

Sherlock brings John back out of his thoughts by grasping at his shoulders and contracting his muscles around him with something like a rhythm. “John, come on, come on,” Sherlock encourages, high and urgent, smearing his mouth across John's jaw in a sloppy kiss and god he’s close, he’s so close. Sherlock is driving him toward the end mercilessly, undulating his hips, reaching down and grabbing John’s arse in two huge handfuls and pulling John into him, making John’s thrusts rough, uncoordinated.

All at once the heated tension in John’s lower belly snaps, his orgasm barreling down onto him and robbing him of his breath as he pulses into Sherlock’s body. He twitches out the last few shallow thrusts uncontrollably, gritting his teeth, before he collapses onto Sherlock’s wet belly in a jumble of limbs.

It’s perfect, it’s lovely, it’s magnificent: their chests slowing together as they catch their breath, their bodies calming through the aftershocks, their eyes closing and cheeks nuzzling at one another out of sheer bliss.

Here, sweaty and lit by the fire-glow, everything is warm and slow and anything outside this nest of blankets does not exist at all.

John relaxes into his place, collapsed onto Sherlock’s body, and he almost doesn’t care that he’s probably an uncomfortable dead-weight. He just wants to nestle against Sherlock’s chest for a while and savour the moment.

“You’re going to be a mess,” he whispers, “because I am definitely not letting you up.”

Sherlock hums, a low, contended sound. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Eventually, though, the rush of endorphins begins to fade and the blunt edges of bones pressing into soft bits and the knock of knees and elbows becomes more awkward than is worth it, and John slides off. Sherlock immediately shifts to adapt, rolling over onto his side and scooching to press his back and bum up against John, melting into him.

John kisses his shoulder and pulls up a corner of one of the sheets to wipe the come off Sherlock’s belly before it gets too dry. He takes care to very gently clean Sherlock’s softened cock as well, and then he reaches down carefully and cleans away as much as he can from between Sherlock’s arse cheeks before Sherlock shimmies away, still sensitive.

“In the morning I’ll get you into the shower and scrub you clean,” John says, fondly and perhaps a little suggestively, kissing his shoulder again. He tosses the bit of sheet toward their feet so nobody rolls onto the wet patch in the night.

Sherlock turns to face him, flopping loose-limbed and heavy, rubbing his cheek on the pillow. “That a promise, John Watson?”

For a moment, John just looks at him, sleepy and sated and starting to settle deeper into the blankets. His eyes are already closed, ready to drift off again, but there’s a smile playing around the corners of his mouth and John is totally and helplessly in love with him.

John reaches for Sherlock’s hand and brings it to his lips so he can brush a kiss over his fingers. “For the rest of my life, Sherlock Holmes.”