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While I'm Away

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  It was the first of January, and John was gone.

Sometime in August, he had told Sherlock that he was interested in one of the continuing education courses being offered at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. Sherlock had nodded, absently, but hadn’t really been listening. Sometime in November, John casually mentioned that he had signed up for one. Sherlock raised an eyebrow, but didn’t think much of it. After Christmas, John started packing, and Sherlock began to grow alarmed. Now, it was January, and John was gone.

He would be in Scotland for the entire month, and Sherlock wasn’t certain he would survive. He was already coming up with ways to convince John to come home.



2 Jan 2013
I’m going to paint the sitting room walls magenta. SH

2 Jan 2013
you are not. you are much too lazy to do that.

2 Jan 2013
I am going to buy magenta paint and I am going to splash it on the walls. It doesn’t take that much effort. SH

2 Jan 2013
you’d never. you wouldn’t be able to concentrate in there anymore.

2 Jan 2013
I’m going to take in feral cats. SH

2 Jan 2013
good. that should teach you some responsibility.

2 Jan 2013
plus, you pretty much are a feral cat yourself. it might be good for you to meet others of your kind

2 Jan 2013
I’m going to put an ad on Craigslist renting your room by the hour. SH

2 Jan 2013
fine. just ask people to clean up when they’re done, yeah?

2 Jan 2013
No. SH

2 Jan 2013
out of ideas, are we?

2 Jan 2013
Come home. SH

2 Jan 2013
can’t yet, sorry.



Sherlock had spent the previous week complaining. They had gone out for a goodbye dinner the night before, and Sherlock had spent the entire time deducing rude things about the waitstaff and other customers. John had been amused at first, but quickly grew irritated when Sherlock didn’t let up. He left in the morning without waking Sherlock to say goodbye, and Sherlock was miffed.

An idea came to him as he was lying on the couch, staring up at the ceiling: he needed to get sick. Not really sick, but fake-sick. Sick-sounding enough so that John would come rushing home to take care of him. Sherlock didn’t often get colds, but when he did, John practically waited on him hand and foot. ...Though whether this was due to John’s own kindness or to Sherlock incessant complaining was debateable. If Sherlock were to come down with something, surely John would return home to make sure he was alright.

For this to work, Sherlock would have to be convincing. He went into the kitchen and pulled a container of black pepper from the spice rack. He poured some into the palm of his hand, pressed John’s number on his speed dial, and took a deep inhale.

“Hey, Sherlock?”

Sherlock sneezed five times in succession, while listening to John’s voice repeat his name over the phone. When he finally cleared out his nostrils enough to be able to speak again, he coughed and rasped an answer.

“John, hello.”

“What’s up?” John asked, sounding concerned. “Are you alright?”

“I’m sick,” Sherlock said. He gave a pitiful cough for good measure.

“Oh. Just a cold?”

“Well...yes, but a very miserable one. It’s awful getting around the flat. My body aches.” Sherlock’s throat was still irritated from the pepper. He tried to clear it, loudly.

“I’m sorry about that.”

Sherlock grunted in reply. When John didn’t say anything further, he decided to approach the topic himself. “So when are you coming home?”

“I thought you knew? The 31st. It’s a Thursday.”

“You’re not--”

“Not what?”

“Well I’m sick.”

“...Yes...” There was a beat of silence, then John laughed softly into the phone. Sherlock frowned. “Sherlock, you’re not dying.”

“Yes, but I’m miserable.”

“You mentioned that.” Sherlock could hear the smile in John’s voice, and closed his eyes.

“The last time I was sick you made me soup and brought me blankets,” he muttered.

“I didn’t make that soup, I poured it out of a tin and heated it up. There are blankets on the sofa and I know for a fact that we have soup in the cabinet. Make yourself some. It’ll do you a world of good.”


“Listen, Sherlock, I’ve got to go. I’m meeting some people for drinks tonight. Call me before you go to bed, okay? Go to sleep early so that you get plenty of rest.” Sherlock grunted a reply. “Goodbye, Sherlock.”


Well that plan failed spectacularly. Sherlock dumped the handful of pepper on the ground and wiped his palm on his pyjama bottoms to clean it. He would have to keep brainstorming.



7 Jan 2013
how are you feeling?

7 Jan 2013
A bit better. SH

7 Jan 2013
don’t forget to eat.

7 Jan 2013
and drink plenty of fluids.

7 Jan 2013
Yes yes yes. SH

7 Jan 2013
do you have a fever at all?

7 Jan 2013
No. Perfectly fine, aside from the mucus. SH

7 Jan 2013
I can send you a sample if you’d like. SH

7 Jan 2013
you’ve been looking at it under the microscope, haven’t you?

7 Jan 2013
Maybe. SH

7 Jan 2013
i know you too well.

7 Jan 2013
Better than anyone. SH



The next plan involved getting lost. Not actually getting lost of course, but convincing John that Sherlock had got so ridiculously lost that he couldn’t be trusted to stay home on his own. To add drama and a sense of danger to the situation, Sherlock decided to call at 2am. John picked up after four rings, just before Sherlock knew the call would go to voicemail. His voice sounded groggy and disoriented.

“Sherlock, what—”

“John, I need your help.”

John took a deep groan of a breath. Sherlock could hear the shifting of blankets as he stretched in bed. “Sherlock, it’s two in the morning, what’s going on?”

“I’m lost.”

“What? What do you mean you’re lost?”

“I mean I’m lost. I don’t know where I am.”

“How did that happen?”

“It’s a long story and I don’t have time to explain it. I’m cold. And I’m lost.”

“Yeah, I got that bit.” The bed squeaked as John shifted into an upright position. “Doesn’t your phone have GPS?”

“It won’t connect for some reason.” Then, before John asked— “And I can’t get an internet connection.”

“Fine, I’ll see what I can do. Let me get my laptop. Are you in London?”

“I think so. But it all looks very unfamiliar.” Sherlock made himself comfortable on the sofa and stretched his legs out on the coffee table. He could see streaks of footprints that he left the last time he did this. He supposed he should probably wipe the table off.

John sighed and stifled a yawn. “Okay, where are you, exactly?”

“If I knew that I wouldn’t be—”

“I mean what can you see? Give me a landmark.”

Sherlock looked around the flat for inspiration. He spotted a box of leftover Thai takeaway on the sitting room table. “There’s a Thai restaurant in front of me.”

“What’s the name of it? I’ll Google it.”

“I can’t read it. It’s in Thai.”

John was quiet. “ didn’t get on a plane, did you? You’re not—”

“No, John, I am not actually in Thailand. I’m certain I would have noticed. Honestly...”

“Okay, okay, just checking.” John started typing. “Wow. Do you have any idea how many Thai restaurants there are in London?”

Sherlock didn’t know, but now he was curious. He pulled out his laptop and typed very quietly. “Not sure,” he said. “But there are probably about 25 million Google search results.”

“That’s spot on, actually,” John mumbled. “Wow, you’re good.” Sherlock preened from the praise that he didn’t deserve. “So that’s not going to help. Tell me what else you see.”

Sherlock looked around the flat again. “Um...well there’s water. But it’s not the Thames.” That should make John confused. “And I—” He heard a beep, signalling that someone else was trying to call him. He pulled the phone away from his ear and glanced at the display. Lestrade was calling. It would figure. He cursed under his breath.

“Sherlock? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Nothing,’s cold. And I dropped my gloves into the water.”

“Sherlock, get away from the water.”

“Yes, John.” Sherlock immediately noted the tiny hint of concern in John’s exasperated voice, and decided to pursue. He sighed a shivery-sounding breath. “I wish I hadn’t left my coat at the flat.”

“What the—what are you doing outside without your coat? ….And with your gloves?”

“The gloves were part of John, I told you, I don’t have time to explain. Just help me figure out where I am.” The phone beeped again, and Sherlock bit his lip in frustration.

“Okay, you can explain later. But you really shouldn’t be outside without a coat when you’re just getting over a cold.”

“Yes, mummy.”

“I’m serious. You need to take better care of yourself. I’ll not have you dying before—”

“Before what?” The beeping from the other line had stopped, and Sherlock jumped when he heard banging on the door downstairs. He went to the window to find a police car pulled up outside the flat. “Oh, shit,” he muttered.

“What is it?”

“Nothing. Before what? What were you saying?” The front door opened, and Sherlock heard Lestrade’s voice apologizing to Mrs. Hudson for the late-night intrusion. “Hurry up.”

“Hurry—Sherlock, where are you? What’s going on?”

The door to the flat swung open, and Lestrade walked in, Sally following close behind him. When Lestrade saw Sherlock on the phone, he frowned.

“You didn’t take my call,” he said. “There’s been a murder. Cannibalism. Thought you’d be interested.”

Sherlock pursed his lips and turned away. John was silent over the phone.

“Who are you talking to who’s so important you didn’t take a call from me at two in the morning?” asked Lestrade. Sally rolled her eyes and walked back down the stairs. “Oh, is that John? Hi, John!”

John’s response was clipped and strained. “Tell Lestrade I say hi.”

“He says hi,” Sherlock muttered. Lestrade grinned.

“Police car’s outside. I know you’d rather take a cab, but they’re few and far between at this hour, so just take the car. I’ll see you outside.” Lestrade went back down the stairs and apologized again to Mrs. Hudson, who Sherlock knew had been staying up late watching cooking show re-runs.

“Sherlock,” John’s voice was irritated with just a slight touch of sleepiness. “I’m assuming you are not, in fact, lost?”


“That would be a no.”

“John, I—”

“So threatening me with property damage didn’t work. Now you’re trying to....what? Deprive me of sleep to butter me up a bit?”

“What were you about to say before Lestrade got here?”

John groaned. “Oh god. Just—just forget about it, Sherlock. Listen, I’m not coming home until the 31st, alright? Please don’t do that again. You made me worry. That’s not a good thing to do at 2am to someone who’s prone to nightmares.”

“Is that what your nightmares are about? Me getting lost in front of nameless Thai restaurants?”

“No. Losing you while I’m away and can’t do anything about it.” Sherlock didn’t say anything. “I'm going back to bed,” John said, quietly. “Good luck on the case."

“I have to go alone now. You’re missing cannibalism.”

“Yes, well you’ll just have to deal with it. I’ll text you tomorrow.”

“Sleep well, John.”

“Goodnight, you irritating git.”



11 Jan 2013
i’m going to a lecture on gunshot wounds tonight.

11 Jan 2013
Thrilling. SH

11 Jan 2013
made me think of you

11 Jan 2013
how’s the case coming?

11 Jan 2013
Solved it. SH

11 Jan 2013
that was fast

11 Jan 2013
Could have been faster if you were with me. SH

11 Jan 2013
Did you have nightmares? SH

11 Jan 2013
no. but you were in my dream

11 Jan 2013
Anything you need to confess? SH

11 Jan 2013
it was pretty boring. we were just sitting around in the flat

11 Jan 2013
Doesn’t sound boring at all. SH

11 Jan 2013
i think i was yelling at you for setting fire to something

11 Jan 2013
Contact the press. You may be a prophet. SH



Sherlock was entirely too hung up on John’s “before.” Unfortunately, every time he tried to bring it up, John either changed the subject or ignored him. It was really rather rude.

There was one more plan to put into action. Faking sick had garnered him sympathy, and getting lost had shown his dependence on John. Sherlock now decided to combine them both into the perfect blend of heartrending helplessness. It was a week later, when Sherlock was sure that John had all but forgotten the “getting lost” incident, when he decided to break his arm.

Obviously, he was not going to actually break his arm. On purpose. But he was a good actor, and he was certain he could be convincing enough to pretend. He could put his own arm in a cast, then send a picture to John. John would worry, and Sherlock would complain about not being able to do simple things like cook for himself or sleep comfortably, and then John would come home to take care of him.

It wasn’t hard to procure the materials necessary to make a cast. It was quite a bit harder to cast one’s own arm without any help. Sherlock spent the better part of the day wrapping up his left arm and trying to make the cast look at least semi-professional. When he had accomplished what he considered to be a decent job, he snapped a picture of the cast and texted it to John, then sat on the sofa, jiggling one leg up and down with nervous energy as he waited. Nothing happened. He checked his phone, just to make sure it wasn’t on mute. No message. He turned the volume up a bit more and waited for another minute. No sign of John.

Sherlock decided to call. The phone rang three times, then John’s voice picked up on the other end.

“Sherlock? What’s wrong? I was in the middle of a lecture.”

“Did you get my text?”

“I felt my phone vibrate, but like I said, I was in the middle of a lecture. I figured it could wait.”

“It can’t wait. Check your texts.” Sherlock hung up.

Ten seconds later, John called back.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Did you see the picture?”

“Yes, I saw the picture! What do you—Ugh, okay. Obviously, it’s their left arm. A bit of a sloppy job on the cast, not professional. They either did it themself or had someone very inexperienced do it for them. You might want to take a look at the bandages. You can’t just go down to Boots to buy fibreglass—”

“What are you doing?”

“What do you mean what am I doing? I’m giving you a medical opinion.  Isn’t this for a case?”

“No, this is my arm.”

John was silent for a moment, then Sherlock heard him moving and closing himself into a small, echoing room—probably the men’s loo.

“What? Sherlock what the hell happened? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, I just broke my arm.”

“Well—yes, but—how? What did you do? God, I knew something bad was going to happen while I was away.”

“I was chasing down a suspect and I fell, now about my arm—”

“What suspect? Did you get him? Is everyone alright?”

“Everyone’s fine. Most importantly, I’m fine. But this is a major inconvenience and I could certainly use some help around the house.”

“Then ask Mrs. Hudson, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind—”

“She’s helping a bit, but she doesn’t—”

“Ask Molly or Lestrade to stop by. Surely they—”

“John, I was rather hoping you—well that you would—”


“Come home?”

“...Sherlock, I paid a lot of money for this class. I can’t leave when I’m only halfway through.”


"Listen, I'm sorry about your arm, but there's really not much I can do. Have you been to hospital, or did you do that yourself?”


“Right. Sherlock, please get your arm casted professionally. After that, you’ll be fine. You may be getting around a little slower, but I’m sure you'll be able to manage.”



“You’re cruel.”

Sherlock hung up.



21 Jan 2013
how’s the arm?

21 Jan 2013
As can be expected. SH

21 Jan 2013
i’m sorry.

21 Jan 2013
you can still text, i see?

21 Jan 2013
With difficulty. SH

21 Jan 2013
i’ll call you, one sec.




“Sherlock. Haven’t heard your voice in a few days. I think I was beginning to miss it.”

“Yes, well it’s your own fault.”

“Never mind. Didn’t miss it at all. So your arm’s alright?”

“Best it can be, considering it’s in pieces.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I know for a fact that you’ve broken bones before.”

“Yes, well...” Sherlock slumped down to lie on his back on the sofa. He heard the squeak of bedsprings, and could tell that John was doing something similar. “How are your classes?” he asked. “Boring, I’m certain.”

John chuckled. “Actually, they’re quite interesting. You’d like what we did today. A bit of cadaver dissection.”


“Mmm. Kind of wished you were there with me to make sarcastic remarks. There’s this one younger student who’s a bit of a snot.  Kept talking about his experience at some prestigious hospital or other, trying to correct everyone’s methods...”

“Sounds irritating.”

“You would have put him in his place. That’s why I wished you were there.”

“I wish I were there, too.”

There was silence on the other line, then Sherlock heard a huff of breath.

“I miss you, you know,” John said. Sherlock was quiet. He could almost hear John suddenly start to panic on the other line. “I mean, it’s nice not hearing the violin at three in the morning, and it’s even better not waking up to find body parts in the kitchen sink, but—” He forced an awkward laugh, and Sherlock let out a frustrated breath.

“You like when I play the violin,” he said. “Even if it is three in the morning. You sleep with your bedroom door closed, but if I start playing, you get out of bed and open the door to listen as you fall back asleep. I can hear your footsteps across the floor.”

John cleared his throat, softly. "Okay, um.  That's true."

“I like that you do that.”

“Do you?”

“Sometimes I play with the sole purpose of waking you.”

John laughed. “Well that’s...nice? I’m not sure if that’s actually nice or not, but I feel vaguely appreciative.”

“Good.” The conversation suddenly felt heavy with the weight of everything that wasn’t being said.

“So how’s the flat?” John asked, his voice warm, as if he were smiling.

Sherlock sighed. He looked over at the remnants of an experiment on the kitchen table.

“The flat’s fine,” he said. “I haven’t destroyed anything. I even do the dishes on a regular basis, which I’m sure is shocking to you.”

“Shocking, but good. Good.”

There was a comfortable pause for a few moments. Sherlock couldn’t hear much of anything on the other end of the phone; not even the squeaking of the mattress.

“I still wish you were home to—”

“Make you tea? Fetch your phone? Do all the things that any normal person does themself, but that I do for you on a daily basis?”

“Yes, all of the above.”

“I’m not sure why I put up with you.”

“I have a few theories.”

John chuckled, softly. “I’ll bet you do,” he said.

“Would I be right?”


Sherlock felt a nervous warmth bloom somewhere in the vicinity of his stomach. “Tell me about the cadaver,” he said. “Why were you dissecting it?”

John launched into a long, overly-detailed story of his day, and Sherlock found that it wasn’t the least bit boring.



22 Jan 2013
i liked talking to you last night.

22 Jan 2013
Aren’t you supposed to be in class right now? SH

22 Jan 2013
i am in class right now. i’m just not paying very close attention.

22 Jan 2013
Who was it who complained about having paid for these classes? SH

22 Jan 2013
That being the primary reason why you won’t come home? SH

22 Jan 2013
let’s skype later tonight. i want to see you.

22 Jan 2013
Alright. SH

22 Jan 2013
i’ll call you after i’ve had dinner.

22 Jan 2013
Fine. SH



Sherlock was suddenly very glad that he had been forward-thinking enough to buy excess cast-making materials. He crafted a convincing-looking cast as quickly as he could, then turned on his laptop and paced around the room. He hadn’t felt this nervous since the time he tried to smuggle a jar of cow eyes past customs. He didn’t need to be a genius to hear the implications behind John’s words.

John called after about fifteen minutes of Sherlock pacing. When Sherlock answered the call, the picture came through without a hitch. John was sitting up in bed, with his computer on his lap. He tilted the screen back a bit when he saw Sherlock, and smiled.

“Hey,” he said.


There were a couple beats of silence in which neither seemed to know what to say. Finally, John cleared his throat.

“It’s nice to see you,” he said. “I was beginning to think you were just a disembodied voice.”

Sherlock smirked. “You thought wrong. As usual.”

“Sarcastic git.”

“So what prompted this?” asked Sherlock. “The mobile has served us well, hasn’t it?”

“Like I said, I wanted to see you.”

“But why?”

“Well...let’s just say that I came to a decision. And I’ve decided that I don’t like space. At least not 500 kilometres of space.”

“Are you talking about astronomy again?”

John hid a smile. “Um. no. Let’s change the subject. Why no sheet this time?”

Sherlock frowned. “What—”

“Last time we Skyped, you were wearing a sheet.”

“Oh. Well that’s because I had just woken up. Today I’ve been up since 9:00.”

“Hmm. I should have called earlier.” John gave a roguish grin and glanced briefly up at the camera on his laptop. From Sherlock’s point of view, it was as if he had made direct eye contact. Sherlock bit his lip. “So how’s the arm?”

Sherlock lifted his arm, stiffly. “Fine. Irritating, but fine.”

“It’s healing well?”

“Of course.”

“You’re not trying to do anything stupid, are you? Haven’t been chasing suspects one-handed? Haven’t done any experiments on yourself?”

“John, please.”

“Just making sure. Want it to heal up nicely. Which bone did you break?”

“Um...Sherlock racked his suddenly-foggy brain for an answer. “The...radius.”

“And how did you say you did it?”

“Chasing a suspect down a fire escape. I...landed improperly.”

“On your arm?”

“Yes, well—” Sherlock lifted his arm up and rested it on the table in front of him so that John could see. “It wasn’t that bad. The cast may be a bit excessive.”

“You say you went to hospital? And they put it in a cast for you?”

“Yes, why?”

“It still looks a little...shoddy. I mean, they didn’t have to cover up that much of your hand.”

Sherlock gave a wounded frown. “I’m sure he did the best he could.”

“It’s a pity, really.”

In a fit of frustration, Sherlock glanced quickly from his cast to John’s pursed-lip smirk. “John Watson, are you flirting with me?”

John laughed and shrugged. “Is it working?”

“I—” Sherlock was still trying to figure out how to respond when he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He glanced quickly at the door.


The outside door hadn’t opened, which could only mean one thing—Mrs. Hudson. And Mrs. Hudson had no idea that Sherlock’s arm was “broken.”

“I think I have to go,” Sherlock said quickly.

John looked crestfallen. “Oh. I’m sorry if I’ve...misconstrued or...made you uncomfortable—”

“No, no it’s not that, I—argh.” Mrs. Hudson knocked twice, then entered the room without waiting to hear an answer. She was holding a bag of produce, and immediately went to the kitchen to start unpacking it.

“Evening, dear,” she said. “I went out to Tesco earlier and picked you up a few things. I know with John gone you’ve not been eating properly, and seeing as it’s the new year, now’s a good a time to start as any.”

John raised an eyebrow. “You’ve not been eating properly?” he asked. Sherlock gave a nervous glance to the side. He plucked a blanket off the floor and hastily covered his casted arm over his lap.

“Sherlock? What’s this in the sink?” Sherlock closed his eyes in defeat. It would all be over very soon, now. “Are you setting bones in my kitchen?” Sherlock opened his eyes to see John looking at him suspiciously. Mrs. Hudson came up behind him and set an apple down on the table.

“Oh, John! I didn’t even know you were there. How are you, dear? How’s your class going?”

“Fine, thank you. What was that you said was in the sink?”

Mrs. Hudson got distracted by the blanket over Sherlock’s lap. “What’s this?” she asked. “Are you cold? I just fixed the heat for you last week. Why are you covering your—oh, I’m sorry, should I not have come in? Were you two....busy?”

John started sputtering over his words. “No—I—we weren’t—”

“Oh, it’s fine, dear, don’t worry. I know it can be hard being apart and all.”

“It’s really not like that,” Sherlock grumbled.

Mrs. Hudson looked at him with a frown. “You’re turning red, dear. Are you feverish?” She tugged at the blanket on his lap. Her eyes widened. “Sherlock, what have you done to your arm?”

“Oh god,” John muttered.

“Did you do that yourself? Is that why there are all those bandages in the kitchen?”

“I can’t believe I was just coming on to you,” John continued.

“You’re alright, aren’t you? You were fine when I saw you earlier this evening. And you haven’t gone out since then. Oh—is this for one of your cases? Can I do something to help?”

“Sherlock, did you really fake a broken arm to convince me to come home?”

When Mrs. Hudson heard what John said, she stilled. She looked from John—annoyance and exasperation on his features—to Sherlock—the very picture of defeat.

“I’ll see myself out,” she said. The door closed firmly behind her.

Sherlock made a point of not making eye contact with John. He picked at the little plaster chunks that were falling off of his poorly-assembled cast, and he chewed on his bottom lip as he waited for John’s reaction.

To Sherlock’s complete surprise, John started to laugh.

“Sherlock...You seriously put your own arm in a cast—twice—to convince me that I needed to come home?”

Sherlock watched John over the computer screen, suddenly thinking that he had never seen anything quite so endearing. He nodded, mutely.

“That is by far the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done.”

Sherlock smiled. “Yes, least I never invaded Afghanistan.”

John burst into giggles.



23 Jan 2013
the answer is yes

23 Jan 2013
Yes? SH

23 Jan 2013
yes, i was flirting with you last night

23 Jan 2013
is that okay?

23 Jan 2013
Yes. SH

23 Jan 2013

23 Jan 2013



Sherlock couldn’t quite believe his luck. Not only was John not angry, but he even seemed to find Sherlock’s trickery endearingly amusing. It was probably the last thing Sherlock had expected, but it was a relief.

They had been texting each other fairly frequently, but after John’s confession, they began to do it even more often than before. John sent Sherlock a text every few hours, daily. Most were friendly things such as “I saw a kidney today and it made me think of you” or “I wish you were here to insult my incorrect classmates.” But every now and then, he would text something that made a warmth curl low in Sherlock’s stomach. The first was “I listened to that voice mail you left me four times in a row. Leave me another?” Sherlock obliged. A few days later, John sent “I’ll be home in a week. Please get rid of the cigarettes hidden on the bookshelf. I don’t like the taste of them.” Sherlock had taken an embarrassingly long time to catch John’s meaning on that one, but once he had, he found he could no longer concentrate on whatever he had been doing before.

John’s texts reached a tipping point four days before he was scheduled to arrive home. Sherlock was lying in bed, pondering whether he wanted to go to St. Bart’s or not when he heard the text notification ring twice in a row.

27 Jan 2013
thought about you last night.

27 Jan 2013
going to think about you again in the shower this morning.

Sherlock stared at the screen of his phone for a full minute. When he finally got the courage to call, John didn’t pick up. Sherlock was too busy thinking about the fact that John was showering to realize that the voicemail had just started recording. He sputtered “ah—um” and hung up without saying anything else.


27 Jan 2013
you know i’m at the pub right now.

27 Jan 2013
Yes. SH

27 Jan 2013
so why are you sexting me?

27 Jan 2013
I don’t know what you’re talking about. You must be misinterpreting. SH

27 Jan 2013
yes, because “i’m not wearing pants right now” has a wide variety of possible meanings

27 Jan 2013
There is nothing sexual about that text. SH

27 Jan 2013
are you getting back at me for this morning?

27 Jan 2013
because thinking about you in the shower isn’t necessarily sexual either

27 Jan 2013
I believe there were certain implications. SH

27 Jan 2013
sorry, i have to go, they’ve talked me into a pub quiz

27 Jan 2013
but i need to hear your voice tonight. i’ll call you later

27 Jan 2013
Good luck with your irrelevant trivia. I’ll just be sitting here alone. Without pants. SH



Sherlock had spent the better part of the day working on dissections at St. Bart’s. He was relaxing on the sofa with his laptop when John called at 11pm—sooner than Sherlock had anticipated.

“How were your friends?” he asked, feeling vaguely jealous.

John picked up on it. “Fine. They stayed a bit later, but I wanted time to talk to you, so I left early.” Sherlock gave a hum of approval.

They avoided the topics of John’s shower and Sherlock’s lack of pants, but it didn’t feel like a forced omission. John went on for far too long about an exam he had to take, and Sherlock only half paid attention, focusing more on his laptop, where he was switching between three different e-mails, a YouTube video on how to cast an arm, and the train arrival schedule for 31 January.

“So what did you do today?” John asked.


“Sounds thrilling.”

“Hmm.” Sherlock moved his laptop onto the coffee table and rolled onto his back. He glanced down at the sliver of skin that was exposed when his t-shirt slid up his stomach.

“Did you really think about me in the shower this morning?” he asked.

John was quiet for a moment before answering. “Is that surprising to you? Because it wasn’t the first time it’s happened.”

Sherlock swallowed. He plucked at a loose thread on the sofa cushion with one hand. “How many times?”

“Well...I haven’t been counting.”

“When was the first?”

“Um...” John’s voice suddenly got quieter. “It’s—it’s a pitiful answer.”

“Tell me.”

“Well, there was a moment. While you were...away. I only did it once because it was torture.” John spoke quickly, like he was trying to get things over with. “Three years is a very long time,” he said. “I thought it would be longer, too. I couldn’t keep doing that to myself.”

Sherlock wasn’t sure what to say. He felt like apologizing, but John had made him promise to stop. They had agreed to put it behind them.

“What are you doing right now?” John asked, softly. “Where are you?”

“On the sofa. I was on my laptop, but then you distracted me.”

“Would you move for me? Would you go into your bedroom?”

Sherlock’s heart rate suddenly spiked, and he sat up. “Why?” he asked.

“Um...” John chuckled. “Good question. I might like it better if you were in mine.”

Sherlock got up from the sofa. He wasn’t wearing shoes, so he slipped on a pair before walking up the wooden staircase, making his footsteps heavy so that John could hear them. He was rewarded for this decision when he heard John’s breaths coming a little quicker.

“It’s freezing up here,” Sherlock muttered.

John gave a husky laugh. “Then get under the covers.”

Sherlock left his shoes by the side of the bed and slid inside, pulling the sheets up around his neck. “They smell like you,” he said.

John let out a long, slow exhale. “God, Sherlock...What are you—well, at risk of sounding dreadfully cliché, what are you wearing?” Sherlock snorted. “Hey, don’t laugh. I want to visualize this. I want you to paint me a picture.”

Sherlock shifted back and forth in the bed, growing more comfortable as his body heat warmed the sheets. “Blue pyjama bottoms,” he said. “Gray t-shirt, blue dressing gown, which I didn’t take off because, again, it’s freezing in here.”

“Well I hope you’ll be warm very soon.”

Sherlock hummed a reply. He looked over at John’s bedside table. It was clear except for a lamp, a comb, a handful of change, and a paperback novel that John had clearly already read.

“Are you deducing my bedroom?” John asked, amusement in his voice.

“Perhaps.” Sherlock turned away from the table to focus more on the bed. John slept on the right side, though he sometimes drifted towards the middle.

“What have you discovered?”

“Nothing particularly interesting,” said Sherlock. “But you may like to know that I tend towards the left side of the bed, myself.”

“Good, good.” Sherlock could hear John lick his lips. “So...what do you want to do?”

“Oh, don’t be coy, John. It’s unbecoming.”

John laughed. “Well then I’m just going to come right out and say it. I’ve been half-hard ever since I heard your voice on the other line, and I was really hoping we could do something about that.”

Sherlock drifted one hand down to trace over his stomach. “Are you serious?” he asked. “How can you be aroused? I haven’t even said anything sexual.”

John took a quick breath. “God, your voice.  You could read the periodic table to me and I’m pretty sure I could come just from listening.”

Sherlock smiled to himself and stilled the teasing motions of his hand. “That hypothesis can easily be tested.”

“Oh god.”

“Hydrogen, helium, lithium—”


“Beryllium, boron—”

“Sherlock, I was using hyperbole for comedic effect.”

Sherlock grinned to himself, because that clearly sounded like a challenge. “Are you saying that I can’t make you orgasm just by reciting the periodic table?”

“Not like that, no.”

“Another way?” John was quiet. “Carbon makes up about 18 percent of the human body’s mass. If I were to unbutton your shirt, it’s carbon that would be revealed to me. It’s in your skin and hair. I could taste carbon on your chest.”

John swallowed loudly enough to hear over the phone. “Really, now?” he asked, his voice amused, but weak. “And what would it taste like?”

“Oh, I’ve imagined this before. Probably a bit salty, is all. NaCl. Unless you’ve showered recently, and then maybe a hint of soap.”

“You’ve imagined this before?”

“Of course I have. But you’re changing the subject. The next element is nitrogen, which aids in cell replacement and tissue repair. Your scar healed because of nitrogen. If I bit you on the side of your neck, the mark would heal because of nitrogen.”

John’s voice was low and rough. “And why would you bite me on my neck?”

“Well, I’d need to do something to stop from crying out as you fucked me.” The other line was silent, then Sherlock heard a zipper opening, and the rustle of fabric. He grinned. “Am I getting to you?”

“Keep talking.”

Sherlock sank further down, bringing the covers up nearly to cover his head. He inhaled deeply, smelling the scent of John’s body mingling with his own. It was comforting—as if John were there without being physically present. He pushed away an ache in his chest and focused again on the sound of John’s breathing.

“I imagine I’d need a lot of our next element,” he said. “Oxygen. I’d suck in a breathful with each thrust of your hips. I can hear you taking breathfuls right now, am I right?”

“You’re right.”

“Thought so.” Sherlock slid his hand back underneath his shirt.

“What are you—what are you doing?” John asked. “Tell me where your hands are right now.”

“Well one of them is holding the mobile, naturally.”


“But my right hand is hovering somewhere around the internal and external oblique muscles.”

John laughed. “Can’t you just have normal phone sex without using fancy terminology?”

“Boring. Should I drift my hand lower?”

“Yes. To your inguinal ligament.”

“Ah, I see you’re getting into the spirit. But to do that I’d have to take off my pyjamas.”

“Do it.”

Sherlock tugged his shirt up and pulled his bottoms from his hips, kicking them down to the end of the bed. “You know, we could be doing this over Skype,” he said. “So we could see each other.”

“No.” John’s answer was immediate. “No, I don’t want my first time seeing you to be over a computer screen.”

“Alright.” Sherlock felt pleased by the fact that John had specified “first” time. He ran one finger over his length, the skin hot against his fingertip.

“Are they off?” John asked.

“They’re off.”

“Will you touch yourself for me?”

“You’re going to have to be more specific. In all technicality, I’m already touching myself.”

“You are an irritant. Sherlock, I want you to...stroke your cock while imagining it’s me.

“Well if I did that, I would need to switch hands, seeing as you’re left-handed. And I’m not sure how pleasurable it would be for me to masturbate with my left hand. I’m not ambidextrous.”

“You’re making this very hard for me.” There was a beat of silence before they both burst out in adolescent giggles over the unintended pun. “I didn’t mean—”

“I know. But tell me—are you? Hard?”

“Yes. God, just got a little harder from hearing you ask me that question. I’ve had my hand in my trousers, but over my pants.”

“Take off your trousers and graze your fingers along your gracilis muscles,” Sherlock said. “Don’t touch your cock.” He heard John take a sharp breath. “What is it?”

“Nothing. Just thinking about your mouth forming the word ‘cock.’” John’s breathing became even more unsteady, and he huffed out little sighs as he shifted to take off his clothes.

“Does that thought appeal to you?” Sherlock asked.

“Oh definitely.  Are you stroking yourself right now?”

“I am.”


Sherlock closed his eyes and pleasured himself with slow, languorous movements. It was easy to think of John, despite Sherlock’s right-handedness, when he was surrounded by John’s scent, listening to John’s voice in his ear.

“Your mouth, Sherlock.  Your mouth is a sin. Have you ever caught me staring at it?”

Sherlock shook his head in denial before remembering that John wasn’t able to see him. “No,” he whispered.

“Surprising. I do it more often than I should. I’m careful, though. Especially in public.”

“You stare at my mouth in public?”

“Of course. That peculiar shape to your lips.  I want to know what they’d look like while...otherwise occupied.” Sherlock sucked in a loud breath as his hand started working faster. He felt pre-come slick his palm. “You know, there was one time...I was watching you eat a banana, rather obscenely, I might add, and I got so hard that I had to pretend I was cold and wrap a blanket around myself before I went up to my bedroom. You did that to me.”

Sherlock was embarrassed to hear a tiny whimper escape his throat.

“God, Sherlock, you’re killing me. Can’t I touch myself yet?”

“No.” Sherlock could barely get the word out of his mouth.

“I’m leaking into my pants.”

“Good. I’m going to make you ejaculate in them.” John let out a soft, strangled cry, and Sherlock didn’t even bother trying to hold back his moan.

“Still thinking of your mouth,” John murmured. “Imagining what you taste like.”

“Not cigarettes,” Sherlock said, confidently. “I haven’t smoked at all in the past week.”

“Well that’s good. I’m not kissing you if you taste like cigarettes.”

Sherlock made a sound that was halfway between irritation and arousal. “I’ll bet you taste like dopamine,” he said.

John sighed. “Mmm.  Adrenaline, mostly. Maybe a bit of oxytocin.” He licked his lips. “Is your hand still—”



The blankets were starting to shift lower around Sherlock’s chest. He didn’t hide the heaviness of his breathing, or the noises that were pulled from his throat. He could hear John shifting restlessly.


“Do it.” Sherlock knew the moment John touched his cock, because he let out a long, low moan.

“Fuck, I wish I were home right now,” John groaned. “The things I would do to you.”

For a few moments, there were no words—just the sound of breathing interrupted by gasps and grunts. John started murmuring Sherlock’s name under his breath, and Sherlock realized that he was squeezing his eyes shut, listening to every tiny sound that came through the phone. If he really concentrated, he could just hear the sound of John’s fist moving over his skin.

“There’s—there’s lube in my nightstand, if you—”

“I don’t need it.”

“Oh god.” John took in a long breath. “Are you almost—”

“Yes.” Sherlock turned and buried his face in John’s pillow, right where John’s head would normally lay.

“Talk to me. Please.”

“I—I don’t know what to say.”

“Anything. Keep reciting the periodic table if you want—” John broke off in a gasp. “Fuck Sherlock, I’m so close. I want to come while listening to your voice.”

Sherlock swallowed. “I can’t I don’t remember where I left off,” he said. “John, I like being in your bed. But I think I’m going to make a mess of your sheets.”

John gave a soft cry, then his breaths stopped. After a heartbeat or two, he let out a loud exhale.

“Sherlock—” He started taking deep, shuddering breaths. Sherlock listened carefully, creating a perfect image in his mind of what John’s face would look like—how his brow would furrow, how his eyes would roll up and then close, how his mouth would fall open as he gasped for air. As John’s breaths started to even out, he said Sherlock’s name again. Sherlock’s cock jerked, and his breath caught. John spoke soft, encouraging words in response to the quiet moans he made as he came. Sherlock was half out of his mind, catching only the words “beautiful” and “perfect” before he came back to himself, and then John fell silent. They were both still for a moment. Sherlock sighed.

“I’ll do the laundry for you,” he said. John chuckled.

Sherlock shifted down further in the sheets, moving away from the wet spot that he had created between them. He could hear John doing the same, and that familiar ache in his chest suddenly reappeared. He silently tried to convince himself that he could make it until the 31st.

“Afterglow’s not as fun when you’re alone,” John murmured. Sherlock found he agreed. “Will you meet me at the station on Thursday?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Good, good. I can’t wait to see you.”

They stayed on the phone for a few more minutes, not saying much of anything, but enjoying each others’ company as best they could. John expressed the need to hang up before he fell asleep on his mobile. They said their goodbyes, but Sherlock stayed up for a long time afterward. He slept in John’s bed until late the next morning.



Thursday was dark and rainy. Sherlock arrived at King’s Cross a half-hour before John was scheduled to arrive, the nervousness in his stomach just starting to bloom. He bought three cups of coffee while he waited, restlessly pacing across the room in his rain-dampened coat. With fifteen minutes left until the hour, he started checking his phone obsessively. He made sure to keep John’s platform in full view.

31 Jan 2013
almost there. you getting impatient?

31 Jan 2013
I’ve been waiting for you to come home since the day you left. SH

31 Jan 2013

Sherlock rolled his eyes at John’s adolescent use of emoticons. He rocked back and forth on his heels, checked the clock on his phone, and compared it to the clock on the wall.

The train arrived late by two minutes. Sherlock lingered behind a crowd of people who were all waiting for friends and family members to arrive, their necks straining forward to pick familiar faces out of the sea of passengers. Sherlock tried to look calm and collected. He kept his hands in his pockets, clutching his phone tightly. When he saw a familiar blonde head glance up from the crowd, he averted his eyes quickly so as not to seem overly eager. When he looked up again, John was smiling at him.

Sherlock motioned for John to meet him farther away, where there were fewer people. He shoved his way through, occasionally checking to make sure John could still see him. Every time he looked up, John caught his eyes and pursed his lips. He carried his bag over his shoulder without visible signs of strain, and Sherlock suddenly imagined what John would look like in uniform. He pushed the thought away before it became too distracting.

As John approached, Sherlock stood frozen in place. When John was in front of him, Sherlock took a couple of small steps forward, coming just closer than would normally be socially acceptable. John smiled up at him.

“Hello,” he said.

Sherlock shook his head. “Finally.”

John broke into a huge grin. He put one hand on the back of Sherlock’s neck and pulled him down into a kiss. It tasted of dopamine, adrenaline, and oxytocin. Sherlock didn’t want it to end.

When they parted, John didn’t pull too far back. He breathed softly against Sherlock’s lips, then spoke again.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since I left,” he said.