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The Measure of Love

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Mrs. Hudson chatters in the background, moving things around in the kitchen. Sherlock hums in all the right places, keeping the conversation going while checking his phone and not really listening. He wiggles his toes with his feet propped up on the coffee table. Scroll, scroll, no news today of interest.

He tunes back in when she starts talking about John.

“How did it go?” She’s got her bad hip propped on the door jamb, wiping down one of her teacups she brought up yesterday.

“Hmm?” He goes back to his phone.

“Your anniversary. It was last week, wasn’t it?” She returns to the kitchen, her voice echoing faintly off the linoleum floor. “It’s been a whole year since you and John got together. I bet you did something special." 

Sherlock hasn’t moved, hasn’t looked up from his phone when Mrs. Hudson comes back into the living room, patting down her apron. He knows she’s putting her hands on her hips without even looking.

“Oh, Sherlock.” How someone can put so much disappointment into two words, he’ll never know.

“I didn’t forget,” he mutters.

“Neither did John.” She sits down on the couch next to him, folding her hands in her lap. “These things are important, Sherlock. I know you boys have a hard time sharing things like this – “

“We share plenty.” He hears the petulance in his own voice and hates it.

She reaches over and pats his leg. “I’m sure you do, dear. But when you’re in a relationship this long, especially in these early years, it’s important to show how much you care about your partner. It’s the little things that can really brighten their day.”

Her knees crack when she stands and Sherlock stops himself from reaching out to help her. What would he do anyway? It doesn’t stop him from following her with his eyes looking to make sure she’s okay. Maybe John can prescribe her something.

Sherlock makes sure Mrs. Hudson makes it downstairs safely before retreating to his thoughts.

John – was he upset with Sherlock? Was it wrong to not get him something?

As much as Sherlock wanted to deny it, they didn’t talk about things like this and he had never been in the position to discuss it before. Yes, John cried at puppy videos sometimes, but he was unsentimental about many things. They hadn’t even celebrated his birthday.

But anniversaries were different than birthdays. This marked the day John had taken Sherlock’s hand in the kitchen, so quiet and confident but shaking, asked him if it was alright to call him his own. Sherlock had kissed the taste of tea out of John’s mouth, ruined the crease of his jacket,  wrapped his arms around John so tightly he thought they would never separate.

He didn’t want them to ever separate and a year was a pretty good streak to stay together. Statistically couples broke up all the time in much shorter time frames. Sherlock was never something as mundane as a statistic. Neither was John.

Was Sherlock sentimental? He would also deny it, but John might say he was getting there. He indulged Christmas more often now and would give in to watching the puppy videos with John. He got Mrs. Hudson a new kettle for her birthday and reminded John to call Harry on hers. Just because he was good at remembering things didn’t mean he was sentimental, did it?

Shaking his robe out, Sherlock stands, frustrated. He was thinking about this much too hard.

The logical set was this:

  1. He could not get anything for John and they moved forward with their lives, one of them possibly discontented.
  2. He could get John something and surprise him.
    1. Would he be happy?
    2. Would he be mad he hadn’t gotten something for Sherlock?
    3. Would he cry?
    4. Would he punch something? (John punched things sometimes, it wasn’t crazy to make it an option)  
    5. ???

He waves his hands around in the air to erase the mental clutter as he plops to the cold kitchen floor, legs folded tailor style. Things needed to be simplified.

There was an option of making John happy and that outweighed all other possible outcomes. He could handle everything else, but a happy John was… unbeatable. Sherlock feels his traitorous sentimental heart glow at the thought.

That settled it. But what to get him?

New clothes? John hated having clothes chosen for him, despite Sherlock’s best past efforts to get him in decent threads. He already has a serviceable watch, solid (if plain) underwear, dependable shoes.

Clothes out.  He already has clothes. John detests excessiveness. Perhaps he could clean the flat? But he saves that for when he needs forgiveness, it’s not exactly a thoughtful gesture.

Time to Google.

Five minutes later, Sherlock concludes that Google does not always have the right answers. Endless articles about ‘massages’ or ‘a dozen roses’. Trite.

The dinner suggestions ping for him, but they go out for dinner all the time. It would need to be unique, something that would make John know Sherlock had put thought into the event. He needed John to know he was important, that they were important to him. How had Sherlock ever thought their anniversary wasn’t important? Why hadn’t John reminded him?

Think, think.

Ah! Dinner but made by Sherlock! He could do that! How hard was cooking anyway? Nothing was very hard for Sherlock. It was sentimental (Mrs. Hudson would approve), it would show dedication to a task (to them?) and John would be happy.

Clapping his hands once in resolution, Sherlock pushes off the floor, a flurry of house robe dropping to the kitchen chair as he dashes to get dressed.

***

Sherlock hates the shops.

Sensory overload is not something he deals with often. He learned a long time ago to block and filter, but grocery shopping is a special hell for him. The florescent lights, the jarring music, rows of visual garbage and too many choices. He regrets not making a list before he came.

Neat stacks of produce wait before him. Does John like… fruit? How did Sherlock not know this? They had lived together for years before they officially started sleeping together. This was the kind of thing people knew about each other, he suspected. John cooked all the time and constantly forced Sherlock to eat too.

The only thing he could think of was sweets. John came home with pastries every once in awhile. Sherlock loved them and loved to watch John eat them. John took such pleasure in indulging, closing his eyes and humming. The powdered sugar would stick to his upper lip and Sherlock would lean across the couch to lick it off, unable to contain himself. It always led to wonderful sex.

A lady brushes past him with her cart to reach the produce and Sherlock’s face prickles sharp and red. He sticks his nose in his phone, searching for desserts and making a mental list of what would please John the best.

***

The cabbie gets out of the taxi to help Sherlock unload his groceries, despite his protests. He suspects the man just wants him gone as soon as possible, if the frown he bears is any indication. Sherlock sniffs and pays him, standing amongst his many brown paper bags as the taxi zooms off.

He checks his phone and calculates the time he has left until John comes home. Enough. He calls Mrs. Hudson and asks her to come watch his groceries on the sidewalk as he takes two trips to get upstairs with it all.

***

“Do you need any help, dear?” Mrs. Hudson sounds dubious about his efforts. He keeps stirring his ingredients.

“No. It has to be from me. It’s my anniversary.”

“At least let me get you an apron,” she tuts and leaves.

He has to ask Siri what ‘folding ingredients’ means, his hands are too dirty to touch the phone.

She’s back before he has time to realize she’s gone. He doesn’t stop when she sets an electric hand mixer on the table next to his many bowls and reaches up on her tiptoes to slip an apron over his head. It only covers his mid-torso to the very tops of his thighs, but she seems satisfied.

He waves her away and she laughs good naturedly. “It’s got pockets on it, so you can store utensils if you need to.” She’s still giggling as she goes downstairs.

Plugging in the hand mixer, he concedes that this was a tactically good idea on her part and he gets back to work.

***

John stops short after opening the door to 221B. He shifts his shoulder bag and expects the worst at Mrs. Hudson waiting for him on her doorstep. His eyes immediately shoot upstairs, but she waves him over and shakes her head.

“John, it’s not as bad as it seems,” she whispers.

“What happened?” he asks, equally quiet. Sherlock had remarkable good ears when he wanted to listen.

She fidgets with the ring on her finger, glancing upstairs then squaring her shoulders for John.

“He’s been working all day on something very special, so don’t give him a hard time.”

“What happened?”

“It’s not my place to say,” and she closes the door on John, leaving him filled with dread.

He swallows and starts up the stairs slowly, knowing full well that Sherlock heard the downstairs door open. His slowness would give him a minute or two to brace for whatever was going on in his home. The flat on fire? Dead animal corpses in the living room? There was nothing too outlandish for John to imagine.

The door to the flat swings open before he can touch it and a breathless, filthy Sherlock fills his view.

John takes a step back, his hand still outstretched for the door knob. “Sherlock, what – “

Sherlock’s eyes are wild, manic even. He swoops in and plants a quick kiss on John’s cheek.

“I love you, John.”

Then he swishes up the stairs to John’s old bedroom, closing the door behind him.

“I love … you… too…”

Completely bewildered, John stares up the steps, wondering if he should follow. His curiosity to the state of the flat wins over and he pokes his head inside cautiously. His bag hits the floor.

Every surface of the flat is covered in… sweets? There’s a sheet cake on the coffee table, surrounded by cups of steaming hot chocolate. A row of puddings in little glass cups lines the mantelpiece. The contents of the desk they share is shoved to the side and delicate pastry platters of spun sugar and slices of almond wait like a tableau from a cooking program. There’s a plate of monkey bread in his chair.

John wanders further in, overwhelmed by the amazing smell, to the kitchen where his mouth refuses to stay shut. An enormous amount of cupcakes cover the entire table, all different colors with a staggering array of toppings – raspberries, sprigs of mint, sticks of cinnamon, sprinkles and Oreos. Eight bowls of chocolate dipped fruit are on the kitchen counter. Dirty mixing bowls cover the floors, spreading out into the living room and down the hall towards their bedroom. The sink is a veritable tower of messy dishes while flour and other ingredients cover every surface not covered in desserts.

He toes a few dishes to the side and gets a good angle to take a photo of the cupcakes, just for his personal collection. No matter if this was experiment or fun, John marvels at the incredible focus Sherlock can bring when he puts his mind to something. He’s only been at the clinic eight or nine hours, for Sherlock to have made so much. He fits his hands to his hips and does a little circle, just taking it all in.

A small pan near the backsplash catches his attention. It’s a plain chocolate cake - nothing much compared to the rest, but his heart catches at the decoration. A wobbly red line snakes around in the shape of a rudimentary heart, abandoned and shoved away before the shape was filled in. The plastic bag of frosting sits near the stovetop, oozing slowly from the end.

John smiles and picks it up, filling in the rest of the heart with careful, patient strokes.

He grabs a fork, a glass of milk, the cake, and heads upstairs.

***

A knock on the door is all the warning he gives Sherlock. The sight he makes on John’s old bed would be hilarious if he didn’t consider the situation downstairs and what had caused it.

One dirty hand is thrown over Sherlock’s face as he stretches on John’s bed while a frilly apron with spoons sticking out of the pockets rides up on his belly. The apron was probably a lost cause anyway as every inch of his partner is covered in some form of cooking ingredient. Even streaks of white stick out in his dark hair from when he no doubt ran his fingers through in frustration.

John sets the milk down on the bedside table, then nudges Sherlock’s leg over. He obliges by curling up and facing away from John.

Unbothered, John toes his shoes off, folds his legs up and holds the cake in his lap.

“Did you overthink things again?” he asks to the wardrobe. He looks back in time to see the end of Sherlock’s small nod.

“Do you want to talk about it?” A shake for no.

“That’s a shame. Guess I’ll just have to settle for eating this while I wait for you to talk.”

That got a reaction. As John digs up a piece of the cake, Sherlock peeks over his shoulder, clearly trying to seem uninterested. He can’t help his interest as John brings the bite to his mouth, chewing slowly.

“You weren’t supposed to see that one.” Sherlock rolls back to facing John, his face streaked in muck.

John holds back any smiles. “But this was my favorite one.”

Sherlock frowns and watches John take another bite. “You haven’t even tasted the others yet, how can you know?”

John stops eating and puts the fork in the pan, reaching out to swipe at some of the mess on Sherlock’s cheeks. “This one is special.”

Long legs curl up and Sherlock wraps his arms around them as he looks away from John. “This was supposed to be a good surprise. To make you happy.”

“Who said I’m not happy?”

“The house is a mess.”

“When is the house not a mess?”

He doesn’t have any answer to that and John takes another bite, biding his time.

Sherlock sits up and looks at him again. The heartbreak in his eyes kills John a little inside.

“I wanted to show you. How much you mean to me. I just couldn’t stop – it wasn’t enough. I didn’t celebrate our anniversary, I thought you wouldn’t want to. But when I started thinking about it, how you might have wanted to celebrate and just weren’t telling me, it wouldn’t leave my mind. You have to know how important you are to me, John. You must. I can’t figure these things out on my own, you have to help me. I would never forget something like this if it was important to you. You’re the most important thing in my life.”

John can’t take another second and covers Sherlock’s mouth with his own. Sherlock wraps his arms around John’s neck, the fork rattling in the pan between them. It gets set on the table and John lowers himself on top of Sherlock, straddling his waist and pressing urgent kisses to his gasping lips.

They take a moment to breathe, foreheads pressed together.

“Sherlock, you definitely overthought this one,” John laughs. He kisses the frown lines away from Sherlock’s forehead and explains. “You show me everyday how much you love me. You don’t have to bake enough to start your own café to make me understand. If we want to celebrate our anniversary from here on out, we can. Or if we want to skip it, that’s fine too. I didn’t put in effort into it cause I didn’t think you liked celebrating stuff like that. We’ve skipped our birthdays the last couple of years and I’ve had to drag Christmas cheer out of you. You’re the rest of my life, Sherlock, we can do whatever we want. It was a celebration the day we got together and it’s been a joy every day since. An anniversary is just a day.”

They kiss slowly for another moment, the worry draining from Sherlock’s face. 

John smiles. “Though I do appreciate all the effort that went into today. I’ve got anniversary present for you too if we can get you out of that apron. It’s putting me off.”

Sherlock strips it immediately and John laughs, sitting back on the bed as Sherlock wriggles and wrestles the bow Mrs. Hudson tied in the back. He eats another piece of cake until the thing finally comes off. He feed a piece to an impatient Sherlock and sets the pan aside once more. 

“It really is delicious. I didn’t know you could bake.”

“Google.”

“Bollocks. I can Google stuff, but I couldn’t bake things like you did downstairs.” John unbuttons his shirt while Sherlock pulls at still-tied shoes.

“Hmm, it’s chemistry. Not that hard.” Shoes successfully abandoned, he moves onto John’s trousers. John takes a swig from the glass of milk while Sherlock jostles him. “There was an artistry to those pastries, Sherlock. I think you’re underplaying your natural talent here.”

Sherlock snatches the milk from him, drops it on the table, and shucks John’s trousers and pants in one go. Hands free, John pushes Sherlock back on the bed, leaving his legs caught in his halfway pulled-down pants.

John straddles him again, his soft, but interested cock settling in the curve of Sherlock’s abdomen. He reaches down to cup Sherlock’s face, kissing his nose.

“You’re covered in sugar, spice, and everything nice, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know about everything nice. I’m not covered in that yet.”

John snorts. “I don’t need all that stuff downstairs, Sherlock. I’ve got all the sweetness I need right here.”

Sherlock groans loudly in annoyance as John kisses him through his giggles. He pushes John back by his shoulders and glares at him.

“I might have to rethink about staying with you forever if you keep this kind of talk up.”

“What is it, cupcake? You don’t like being called sweet, sugar bun?

Sherlock tries to leave the bed and he almost makes it since John is laughing so hard. Two arms wrap around Sherlock’s middle and pull him backwards, knocking his pants off on the way down.

He kisses John, stifling his merriment and flips them, slotting his hips to line up with the burgeoning cock beneath him. Laughter turns to gasps as he rolls and presses and bites John to full, flushed arousal. The happiness stays in John’s eyes as Sherlock looks down at him, an answering glow warming his own face. He can’t help the tender kiss he places at the corner of John’s mouth.

“I do love you, you know,” he murmurs.

John doesn’t say anything, but his grin could light half of London. He pulls Sherlock back to his body, pressing his tongue against the seam of Sherlock’s lips, into his unresisting mouth. A rumbling groan rises between them, sweat breaking out along Sherlock’s back as a shiver rides through him.

The head of John’s cock slicks against the base of his as he scrambles to get closer, pushing harder as their kisses grow wilder. His legs can’t spread wide enough as he grinds down, slipping his arms underneath John’s arms to wrap around his shoulders. One of John’s hands wipes through the sweat, down the plane of his back to grab a handful of his arse, closer but not close enough.

Sherlock tries to say John’s name and it comes out as a shameless moan, a plea for anything, something, please. John rolls them once more and the breath leaves Sherlock’s lungs when he presses his full weight against him. A gasped ‘perfect’ comes from one of them, the feeling mutual.

John slides down Sherlock’s torso, his eyes wicked and direct, burning Sherlock up as he keeps staring on his way down. Sherlock’s breath comes in shallow gulps as the tip of his cock smudges against the bottom of John’s chin.

He clenches the sheets as John leans further down to press sweet, soft kisses to the base of his dick, running a gentle finger around the edge of his balls. “John, please.” A grin pressed to his inner thigh as John settles between his legs.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you had flour down here too. Maybe we should try naked baking next.” 

Sherlock’s stomach muscles clench as John laps as his balls, his nose nudging into dark hair, his skin tightening and his mind stretching. His whole world collapses down to John’s wet breath, the lava-hot lap of his tongue against his most intimate flesh. He noses further up to Sherlock’s straining cock, striping his hardness with sloppy open mouthed kisses before pausing at the top, his lips plush against his frenulum as a look of concentration shapes his face.

“We would definitely have to ditch the apron though. I can’t think about Mrs. Hudson when I’m fucking you.”

His tongue stretches out, licking at his slit languidly. Sherlock’s neck strains with looking down on him, his teeth clenched as he struggles to raise himself. John stops again.

“What if we got you one of those little French maid outfits, hmm? We could get you the stockings and the garters and the apron, but nothing else.” He runs a warm palm up the back of Sherlock’s calf, gripping him under the knee to place his leg over John’s shoulder.

Sherlock’s at his breaking point, bending forward. “John, as much as I appreciate – ah! – your imagination, do please get on with it. I’ll wear whatever you want, so long as you suck my cock right now.” He pushes the sweaty fringe off John’s forehead in a further plea, his hips trying to press off the bed towards John’s wicked, grinning mouth. 

“You only had to ask me, sweetness.”

He can’t even be mad at John as he swallows Sherlock down, his dick enveloped in sinful heat as John sucks and hollows his cheeks. He wasn’t fucking around once he put his mind to it and Sherlock grips his own curls to try and keep from pushing John’s face all the way down to his lap. He flops backwards, breathing hard and trembling apart.

Blunt fingers press at his lips and he opens automatically, covering John’s fingers with spit as he gasps and sucks. John’s shoulder forces his legs further apart as he withdraws his hand, sliding the hot pad of his thumb over Sherlock’s entrance, the muscle tensing in involuntary reaction.

Sherlock pushes up to his elbows again, his legs spread wide, resting one palm on the back of John’s head as he continues up and down, relentless. John tries again, his wet fingers pressing solid and patient as Sherlock bears down, his heart hammering like a trapped bird in his chest.

He’s so close he can feel it coiling in the basin of his hips, his pulse traveling up to drown his hearing.

Just the barest tip of John’s finger pushes into him and he’s coming, grinding his hips against John’s open mouth, come dripping from John’s lips to his pubic hair when he pulls back after a moment. Sherlock is blissed out on the look of complete abandon on John’s face, his hair mussed, his mouth a red, come-smeared wreck.

Sherlock must kiss him or he might die. They smash together, meeting in the middle.

“John, John, John.

“Yes, darling, yes.” John’s hand is flying over his dick, shifting and pressing until he’s further in-between Sherlock’s thighs. Sherlock licks his own palm and helps, twining his fingers with John’s and scooting closer, lining the tip of John’s cock up against his entrance. They shudder at the same time, breathing the same air and John groans right into Sherlock’s mouth.

He pushes against his hole, rubbing hard against the textured skin and shaking, their fingers flying. Sherlock feels it when John loses control, his jaw clenching and his entire body surging towards him like a flood. Come spills between them, John mashing the thick head of his cock, his slickness, into Sherlock’s skin, rubbing and rubbing like he wants to mark him as wet heat slides down his thighs.

They sit there for a moment, endorphins soaring, until Sherlock gives up and flops backwards, his head smacking into the pillow. He starts at John’s loud bark of laughter that turns into muffled snorting against his stomach as John presses forward, his face hidden from Sherlock’s view. 

“What? What is it?” he asks, slightly annoyed that John could laugh after such a spectacular anniversary present.

“When you flopped down, a whole cloud of flour flew out of your hair – it looks like it snowed on the bed,” John manages to get out between chuckles. He crawls up the rest of the way, folding his arms on Sherlock’s sternum and resting his chin. The laughter still dances in his eyes, but his expression settles into adoration.

“Thank you, Sherlock.”

Sherlock clears his throat and ruffles his hair.

“It was nothing. I’ll do something better next year.” 

John stretches kisses the underside of his chin. “No, this was perfect. Though I don’t know what we’re going to do with all of it. We certainly would die if we tried to eat through it.”

“I’ll text the network. They’ll be glad for the food.”

“Oh, good idea. Maybe we can send some along with Lestrade too.”

Sherlock hides his expression and tries to turn his head away from John, but John isn’t having any of it. “I’ve just had your cock down my throat, you can’t hide anything from me. What is it?” 

After clearing his throat, Sherlock sighs and looks at the ceiling. “I … made all of it… thinking of you. Making it especially for you. It feels odd to give it all away like that.”

John hides his grin as he leans over to grab the cake pan again, scooping up another bite on the fork. He holds it out for Sherlock until he opens his mouth. “The only baking I care about is this one. It’s my favorite one. I appreciate the rest of it, but it’ll go to waste here. We can give it away. Except for the Oreo cupcake. I want that one too.”

Sherlock smiles around his mouthful, releasing the fork. He looks surprised for a moment and John makes a questioning noise.

“This is actually quite good. I’m shocked at myself.”

John laughs again, leaning down to kiss the frosting off Sherlock’s lips, their hearts full of love.