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Warm. This flat was so fucking warm. Shouldn't be, really; it never was, back when John lived here. But tonight, warm. Not too warm, though, now that he thought about it. More like… cozy.

Sherlock leaned forward and squinted at him. "I don't know who you are. I don't know who you're supposed to be."

John's arms fell to his sides in exasperation. "You picked the name!"

"Ah, but I picked it at random from the papers." Sherlock made a flaily gesture in the general direction of a nearby table.

John slumped back into his chair. Playing games with Sherlock was always like this, wasn't it? He never played them the way he ought, and it was maddening. "You're not really getting the hang of this game, are you, Sherlock?"

Sherlock ignored him, continued. "So I am human. I'm not as tall as people think I am." He settled back again. "I'm- I'm nice-ish."

Ish. Hah. John grinned and stretched his feet out, propping them against the cushion right next to Sherlock's legs. He wiggled his toes.

"Clever," Sherlock continued, "important to some people, but I tend to rub them up the wrong way." He paused and grinned, a total shit-eating, know-it-all grin. "Got it."

John smiled. He'd thought it would be a bit of fun, making Sherlock ask questions about himself, but it had been too easy. Should have known he'd get it right off. "Go on, then."

"I'm you, aren't I?"

John stared at him for a moment before bursting into laughter. "What? No! For fuck's sake." He poked Sherlock's thigh hard with his toe. "Hang on – are you saying you think I'm clever?"

Sherlock shrugged and raised his glass to his lips. "In your own spesshhul way."

"Yeah, well, we can't all be you, can we?" He drained his drink and sat up again, and the room shifted more than it ought to have done. "Shit."

"Hmmm?" Sherlock slid down in his chair, eyes closed.

"Need another drink." He swayed to his feet. "You good?"

"Yep."

Kitchen. Bottle. He gestured vaguely behind him. "Google me."

Sherlock made a snorting sound, possibly a laugh. "What?"

"Who I'm s'posed to be. Google it."

The walk to the kitchen was a bit more challenging than it ought to have been. God, he'd regret this in the morning. The morning would be fucking awful, but right now, too much fun. Feeling good, loose, relaxed. And Sherlock too – he didn't get to see Sherlock like this often. Or ever. Ever? Had he ever seen Sherlock this drunk? Should've done this sooner. Before.

He refilled the glass – whoops, probably too much, but not like he had to drink it all – and turned around. Sherlock had his phone in hand, holding it inches from his face.

"Got it?" John picked his way back across the flat.

"Yep." Sherlock grinned at his phone. Probably not a good sign.

John sat and nearly missed the chair. Drink spilled all over his hand, fuck. Sherlock tucked his phone back into his pocket and snickered. "Can't handle the – hold the… something."

"Yeah, fuck you, I know." John licked brandy from his fingers. "S'my turn, right?"

Sherlock seemed transfixed by John's hands for several seconds; he finally blinked and picked up his own glass again. "Yeah. Yes, go."

"Lessee… Am I pretty?"

"Yes."

"Am I sssexy?" He half-snorted a laugh.

Sherlock waved a hand. "Subjective. Sexy to whom?"

"To you."

Sherlock's face scrunched up. "I don't know. Maybe."

"Maybe sexy, okay." John leaned forward and almost lost his balance again. "Actor?"

"Yes."

"Films?"

Sherlock's eyes did the thinky-thing. "Yyyyes."

"Young?"

"No."

John nodded and took a drink. God, it was going down easy now. Too easy. He set the glass aside and settled back into his chair.

Sherlock leaned forward again. "So I'm not you. A man, et cetera. Am I someone famous?"

"Well known, yeah."

"Am I pretty?"

John couldn't stop himself from giggling. "Yeah, that's probably the term for it."

Sherlock shrugged. "Men can be pretty."

"Some can."

Sherlock's eyebrows waggled. "Am I sexy?"

"Yes," John said, and frowned – he hadn't meant to say that so quickly. True, though. Even Mary thought so. Well, she'd agreed with him on the point, anyway.

"Aha!" Sherlock gestured with the glass, a grin erupting on his face yet again. "Brad Pitt."

John burst out laughing. "Oh God, no. Brad Pitt, seriously?"

Sherlock looked nearly offended. "Brad Pitt is sexy."

"So you've got a type?"

"Of course I have a type." Sherlock took a long drink.

"Am I your type?"

Sherlock looked up at him, shocked, and John grinned and pointed at the cigarette paper on his forehead. Sherlock rolled his eyes.

"No. My turn again." Sherlock paused and set his drink down before scooting forward, almost sliding off the chair. "Aha."

"Smooth." John slid down a bit and his knees fell apart. This chair, this fucking chair. God, he missed it.

"Am I an actor?"

"You could be, if you wanted."

"No, no – it has to be—"

"Then no. My turn." John pushed himself to sitting again. Sherlock didn't move this time, stayed put, eyes slightly unfocused. "Okay, lemme see… So I'm an actor, woman, sexy, not young. American?"

"Yes."

John stared at him for a moment. He looked remarkably young like this, and John felt a stab of affection for him. Sherlock was indeed pretty – it was the best word to describe him. "Would you like to kiss me?"

Sherlock's gaze slid up to the Rizla paper on John's forehead and back down again. He smiled. "Maybe."

"Even though I'm not your type?" John struggled to raise a single eyebrow, and failed.

"Thass not…" Sherlock frowned. "Wait, what?"

"Never mind. Would you fuck me?" John picked up his glass and took a sip, struggling not to laugh.

Sherlock's face went completely blank for a moment, and then he sat back in his chair again, almost liquid. "No, but I'd let you suck me off."

John coughed, nearly spewed brandy. "Jesus, Sherlock!"

Sherlock shrugged, shit-eating grin firmly in place. His knees fell apart in the chair and he stared back at John with a strange expression. Almost like… John looked away and rubbed a hand over the back of his head. Time to stop drinking.

"I've shhhhocked you." Sherlock traced the rim of his glass with one finger, still staring at John.

"No. Yes." John set his glass down and leaned forward again. "I wasn't sure you… well." He shrugged, tried to be nonchalant. Never mind that this was a conversation he'd imagined having for years, had played out in his mind more times than he cared to admit.

"I do. Not for a while, though. Few people are that interesting."

"People have to be interesting for you to want to fuck them?"

"Yes." Sherlock took a drink. "What's the point, otherwise?"

John snorted. "To get off? Isn't that the point?"

"Not for me." Sherlock stared back at him, almost looking… disappointed?

"No, no, you're right. I didn't mean…" John sat back in his chair. "Of course that's important. It's just that… It doesn't always have to be. You can just get off with someone and have it not mean anything."

"Can you?" It didn't sound like a question, somehow.

Could he? He had done, certainly. John closed his eyes and the room began to spin. He opened them again. "Whose turn is it?"

"Mine." Sherlock steepled his fingers under his chin. "Am I British?"

"Yes."

"Am I dangerous?"

"Yyyes."

"Do you want to fuck me?" A tiny smirk there, and a spark in his eyes, and John felt a strange jolt.

"Yeah. Ah fuck, wait. I got lost somewhere." Shit. Hadn't meant to say that at all, or for it to sound quite so… something.

"Oh God, I'm not Mycroft, am I?"

John sniggered. "You can't possibly think that I would ever want to fuck Mycroft."

"Someone must. They can't all have been prostitutes."

John laughed and laughed, and slid out of the chair and onto the floor. Sherlock leaned forward and tugged at the back of his jumper, apparently trying to help, and finally gave up. He fell back into his chair and laughed too, and it was a beautiful sound, the best. John pulled himself up with a hand on one of Sherlock's knees and pressed his face into Sherlock's thigh.

"Oh, God, prostitutes. I can just see it."

"I want to un-see it, myself."

"Oh, don't tell me."

"Yes, once. It was horrible." Sherlock burst out in giggles again and his leg shook under John's forehead. "Put me off sex for two years. I couldn't even have a wank without thinking about—"

"Oooh, no, less not go there." John looked up again. "Not a mental image I wanna…" He trailed off.

Jesus. He was sitting between Sherlock's spread thighs, and Sherlock was looking at down at him, half-smiling, half-something else. John's gaze drifted down before he could stop himself, down to the slight bulge right in front of him.

It was really fucking quiet now. John blinked once, head swimming. He forced himself to look back up at Sherlock.

"Go on," Sherlock said. Lazy smile, that. His mouth, though…

John closed his eyes, opened them again. "Go on what?"

Sherlock unfastened the button on his trousers. "While you're down there—"

John gaped at him for a full second before a laugh burst from his chest. "You fucking wish."

"Have it your way. Might be your only chance, you know." Sherlock pressed his lips together, clearly trying not to laugh, and then gave in.

John grinned and wiped at his eyes, and laughed some more. He leaned his head back against Sherlock's other thigh and closed his eyes. Warm, comfortable, easy. They ought to go drinking together more often – pub nights, Fridays, if Sherlock didn't have a case. Mary wouldn't mind. Could be fun.

Wait, no: back to the subject at hand. Or… right. He kept his eyes firmly closed. Sherlock never joked about sex, always brushed it aside. Why be so open about it now? John had always assumed he wasn't interested; Mary had other ideas, but then, she always did, when it came to Sherlock.

If you whipped it out, he'd be the first on his knees, love.

Something stirred in his chest, something strangely familiar. False courage? He tried to swallow it down, but the words spilled out anyway. "Wait, hang on. Are you saying you want me to suck your cock?"

Sherlock huffed. "Brilliant deduction, John. Was it the bit where I unzipped that tipped you off?"

John opened his eyes and pushed up onto his knees, elbows resting on Sherlock's thighs now. "No, serish… really, you want to have sex with me?"

Sherlock's mouth opened, closed again, his face blank. John bit his lip. Was this really happening? He should sit back, laugh it off, and the moment would pass. They could pretend it was a joke, fueled by their drunken loss of inhibitions, and never mention it again.

On the other hand, maybe Sherlock was right: it might be their only chance.

Chance, seriously? What the fuck was he thinking? He was getting married and he was going to have a lovely, normal, not-dangerous life, and Sherlock would still be his best friend and they'd solve cases, and it would all be... fine.

No, no thinking. Stop thinking. Observe.

Sherlock's face was not quite so blank now. There was something else there, something underneath, and John's breath caught in his throat.

"You do, don't you?" John leaned into him, hands sliding up his thighs. Oh God, what was he doing? Shouldn't do this, shouldn't – should think about Mary and everything else, anything else, but now, just for a minute. What if? Would it be so terrible, just for this one night, when they were drunk and could be stupid and honest and real?

Sherlock still didn't answer, just stared at him.

John's hands reached the top of Sherlock's thighs, thumbs grazed up the sides of his groin. He was pushing this, pushing too hard, but he didn't care, too far gone now, couldn't make himself stop. He wanted to see what Sherlock would say, what he would do. He needed to know, somehow. Not that it would matter, or even change anything, because Sherlock didn't do sex, wasn't interested. Never had been, until now. Why now?

He stopped, fingertips tucked into the waistband of Sherlock's trousers. "Tell me what you want."

Sherlock took a single, sharp breath, and then leaned forward. For a moment, John thought he was going to kiss him, but his lips went to John's ear instead.

"I want everything. I want to fuck you over the back of that chair, and on the kitchen table, and in the shower, hot and slow. I want to suck your cock until you scream my name. I want to memorize every inch of you, work out every place you want to be touched. I want to ruin you for anyone else, ever again."

"Jesus," John hissed, and pressed his face against Sherlock's shirt. His heart pounded and he was suddenly, achingly hard, and all it had taken were some beautifully fucked-up filthy words from that mouth, oh God.

Sherlock's chest began to shake, and after a long, horrible second, John realized he was laughing. Laughing. John sat back, pushed to his feet, and turned away.

"Oh, God… that actually got you going, didn't it?" Sherlock sounded nearly breathless from laughter.

John closed his eyes, clenched his fists, swallowed it all down. Not going to think about it now, just… enough, move on to something else. "Fuck off, Sherlock."

"I thought you'd punch me, not get a hard-on." He erupted in a sniggering laugh again.

John turned to look at him, unable to force a smile. "Not funny, Sherlock. Not fucking funny."

"Oh, don't be a baby. I called your bluff." He smirked and stretched his legs out, lifted his glass.

John rolled his eyes. Had he been bluffing? Maybe. Possibly. No – but Sherlock thought he had. It could be funny, yes. Funny that he was drunk and he came on to Sherlock and Sherlock pushed back with… with something John actually kind of wanted. Shit.

No, it would be funny, and he wouldn't think about it again. He shook his head, tried for a smile, and then a laugh. Yes, there: this was comfortable, he could laugh at this. Everything would be fine.

"I haven't had sex in a week. You can't go saying shit like that when I'm…" He waved his hands vaguely in front of his groin and did his best to look annoyed.

Sherlock's laugh melted into something more like bemusement. "Sit. Finish the game."

John inhaled, exhaled again. He picked up his drink and swirled it, raised it to his lips, but didn't take a drink. He didn't need his head to be any less clear, not after that. He set the glass back down and sat, then shrugged. "I have no idea whose turn it is."

Sherlock pushed himself back up to a sitting position. "Doesn't matter. You go."

"Am I… I dunno, Julia Roberts?"

"No. My turn." Sherlock leaned his forearms on his knees and looked thoughtful. "So I'm pretty, sexy, tall, nice, clever, somewhat famous, and someone you'd like to fuck."

"Bloody hell," John muttered, and rubbed a hand over his eyes.

"Am I someone you know?"

John winced. This was going to end badly; he just had to face it. "Yes."

"Geoff."

John blinked. "Who?"

"You know, Geoff. Scotland Yard, DI." Sherlock gave him a strange look. "Lestrade."

"It's Greg." John shook his head, incredulous. "What will it take for you to remember his fucking name?"

"That's it, isn't it?" Sherlock sat back, triumphant.

"No, you idiot." John groaned. "Can we play another game now? This one has completely lost its appeal."

"It has to be him." Sherlock frowned. "Who else is left?"

"I quit. You win." John closed his eyes and slumped down in the chair. "We should've played fucking Cluedo."

It was quiet for a long moment, and then John heard Sherlock sigh and stand, and walk to the kitchen. John's head swam, and he opened his eyes again, tried to focus on Sherlock's empty chair. He reached up and pulled the Rizla paper off of his forehead, and snorted.

"Madonna? How can you not know who Madonna is?" He turned to see Sherlock standing in the kitchen, holding his own paper in front of him, staring down at it.

Shit. There it was, then; nothing to do but face it.

John sighed and pushed to his feet, his head suddenly, startlingly clear. He stopped before Sherlock, whose frown was threatening to etch permanent lines on his forehead.

"Can't believe you didn't guess."

Sherlock pursed his lips and shrugged, didn't look up at him.

"Well, uh… thanks for… everything. Maybe I should—"

"You weren't bluffing."

It was a statement, not a question. John attempted to laugh, but it came out sounding a bit strangled. "At that moment, no. I wasn't."

Sherlock's expression went from stone to stricken, and he turned away. "I… I don't…"

"No, please. Let's just chalk it up to too much drink and forget about it, all right?" John reached out, caught his elbow. "Sherlock…"

Sherlock turned back, and stepped forward, and kissed him, a hard, dry press of lips, and John froze for a moment, surprised. Almost immediately, Sherlock seemed to wilt and pull away.

"I'm sorry, I—"

"No, don't—" and John pulled him back in, kissed him, slid fingers into his hair and held him there. Sherlock hummed, almost whimpered, and then John was being thoroughly, passionately, deeply kissed. Sherlock's hands slid under his shirt, fingers cool and perfect, and his tongue was hot and slick and his lips were just the way John had imagined and God, John wanted him, wanted.

"John—" Sherlock's lips pressed against his ear, his voice hoarse.

"Can you, just like this?" John whispered, and then bit his lip when Sherlock's mouth began working its way down his neck. "Just for tonight, with no—"

"Don't," Sherlock said, and kissed him again. Sherlock pushed him backwards until he felt the edge of the kitchen table against his arse, and the images that flooded his mind then were glorious, dirty, filthy, mad.

And oh God, he was getting married, very soon, and he shouldn't be doing this, shouldn't be thinking of Sherlock this way, shouldn't be letting it happen, but Sherlock's fingers were working at the fly of his trousers and this, how could there be anything wrong with this?

Those fingers wrapped around his erection a moment later, and John leaned back against the table, had to reach out to brace himself with fingers gripping the smooth edge. Several long, sure strokes and then Sherlock disappeared, went to his knees, and John couldn't help the string of profanity that came out of his mouth at the sight.

"Just let me do this," Sherlock said, his gaze locked on John's cock. "Just tonight, right now. Please."

"Please," John repeated, and shook his head, almost laughed. "You've no idea what you're doing to me right now, just the sight of you like this, oh God."

Sherlock looked up at him, eyes dark and wide, and desperate. "John."

John stared down at him, suddenly overwhelmed. Forgive me, he'd said in the train car, just like this, and John had done, and then they'd put themselves back together again, found John-and-Sherlock once more, and it was almost enough, almost. But they'd never been this, couldn't have been, and then Sherlock was gone and John had drowned, had fallen, and wanted so much, so fucking much to have another chance. And now, now – here it was. They had this, now, tonight, and it could be enough. Couldn't it?

John exhaled, and realized he was shaking. "Yes, Sherlock. God, yes."

Sherlock drew in a sharp breath and stared up at him, and John leaned forward, kissed him again. Sherlock's hands found his shoulders, clung for dear life, and John was falling, flying. Sherlock broke the kiss and pressed his nose against John's belly, panting, and John stood up again, threaded his fingers into Sherlock's hair. His emotions rose to the surface then, raw and strained, and he didn't have the will to push them away.

"God, you, always you," he whispered, and Sherlock moved at last, his lips trailing downwards until his breath was hot and damp against John's cock, coming in sharp huffs, as if he was only barely holding himself back. The tip of his nose traced a shaky path down the underside and his lips worked their way back up, and oh God, it was maddening. Maddening that he was taking his time with this, when all John wanted was hard and fast and now.

He opened his mouth then, let John push forward into wet-hot-perfect, and John had to clench the edges of the table, had to close his eyes. He'd imagined this so many times, when it was someone else's mouth and hands, someone else's tongue swirling around the head of his cock, light suction, just like he needed it, fingers tracing circles on the delicate skin of his balls. He'd imagined it was Sherlock and had always felt guilty, had only confessed it to Mary when he was drunk, and had endured her teasing ever since, but this now—

"Oh, God, you're good at this. Of course you're good at this. Why wouldn't you be amazing at giving head, when you're amazing at everything else?"

Sherlock made a small humming sound and pushed John's trousers down further, slid his hands around to squeeze his arse. John groaned and pressed lightly at the back of his head, just enough to hint, and Sherlock took him in further than John would have thought possible.

"Oh my God. Perfect, you're perfect, you're so fucking perfect…"

Everything was hazy now, blurred around the edges with alcohol and hormones and sheer fucking want, and when Sherlock pressed a spit-slicked finger into his arse, he didn't even think, just asked for more.

Two fingers then, and Sherlock's mouth, and he wanted more, closer, deeper, yes.

Sherlock popped off long enough to say, "Up," and knocked a stack of wedding magazines to the floor to make room before physically lifting John up onto the table.

He was flat on his back before he'd had a chance to respond, staring up at the ceiling, cock halfway down Sherlock's throat, at least two fingers up his arse, and Jesus fuck, where had this been all his life?

"I want you to fuck me," he said, and was surprised by the hoarseness in his own voice.

"Can't," Sherlock said, panting. "No condom."

"Don't care."

"Yes, you do."

"I don't," he said, but he did, really. He didn't want to care, though, wanted everything, all of it, now before it was too late. He lost himself then, lost in sensation and heat, and glorious friction. It was almost enough now, then too much, and he shoved a fist against his mouth to stop himself from shouting when he came. Sherlock sucked him through it, swallowed it all down, and God, he hadn't expected that. He'd been too far gone even to warn him, but it hadn't mattered.

He opened his eyes, blinked up at the ceiling, floated there for a moment. Sherlock was still suckling him gently, as if he didn't want it to be over, and wasn't that unexpected? The fingers in his arse were still now, just applying pressure, and his cock throbbed slightly.

"Sherlock," he said, still breathless, and Sherlock released him at last, stood and looked down at him with wild eyes. John gripped the edges of the table and sat up, slid off. He tugged his trousers up to get them out of the way, and pulled Sherlock close. "You," he said, and pressed his lips against Sherlock's.

He brushed the tip of his tongue across Sherlock's lower lip, teasingly, and Sherlock nearly whimpered. John reached down and cupped his erection through the fine fabric of his trousers.

"What do you want?"

"I thought I made that clear earlier." Sherlock's voice rumbled against his lips, and John shivered.

"I did offer."

"I know." Sherlock pushed John's hand aside and unfastened his trousers, pushed them down, and then pressed John's hand against his cock. "I want to watch you do this. I want to remember you touching me, like this."

John stroked once, experimentally, and Sherlock shuddered, mouth open. "I don't know how you like it."

"It doesn't matter. It's not going to take very long."

Sherlock's cheeks were flushed and his eyes dark blue, and he stared back at John with something like reverence, like he'd never wanted anything more than this, ever. John kissed him again – slowly, precisely, open-mouthed, neither of them quite breathing.

"Please," Sherlock whispered against his lips, and John smiled, stroked again. He slid the pad of his thumb over the glans, smearing the fluid there. He wanted so much, more than he could ever have. He wanted to take his time and memorize every detail, every inch. He wanted to make Sherlock come in a dozen different ways, wanted to see him undone, bare, beautiful. He wanted more nights like this, more time to find out what this could be, how they could be together, but they'd missed their chance. This was all he had – just this, just now.

"Tell me what to do," he said at last, and resolutely ignored the waver in his voice.

Sherlock inhaled shakily. "Like that, but—"

"Faster."

"Yes, yes." Sherlock's mouth fell open and his eyelids fluttered shut, and John was nearly overwhelmed by how erotic it all was, touching him, watching him. He sped up his strokes and watched Sherlock's face, watched the way his jaw went slack and his eyes opened again, watching John's hand, taking it all in.

"Yes," Sherlock said again, and John kept watching him, watched the mix of emotions and sensations flicker across his face. He was getting close now and it would be over, and John wanted to make it last, to stay here in this moment as long as possible, but he couldn't; they couldn't.

Sherlock leaned heavily against him, panting, "John, John, John," and he came, and his face was a wonder, and John was frantic to memorize it, every detail, every second.

Sherlock gasped and pressed his hands over his face, and John stepped back, suddenly uncertain. He wiped his sticky fingers on a dish towel hanging by the sink, and resolutely did not think.

"Sherlock?"

Sherlock dropped his hands and his expression was oddly blank. Worse, he'd gone completely pale, as if all the blood had just drained from his face.

"Hey, are you—"

Sherlock turned and dashed down the corridor, and closed the bathroom door behind him. A moment later, the sound of retching filled the small flat, and oh – oh, God. John's heart sank.

He crossed to the bathroom door and stood there stupidly, not sure what to do. He reached out, intending to knock, but drew his hand back again. He'd seen Sherlock sick before, had nursed him through all sorts of injuries – but not like this, never because they were drunk and stupid and had just had sex on the kitchen table, all on John's stag night. Oh God, this was his stag night. And Mary thought they were – oh, God. He'd just cheated on his wife, and he wasn't even married yet. Fuck it all, what kind of person was he?

The toilet flushed and then the tap ran in the bathroom, and John turned away, walked back to the sitting room. He sank into his chair and waited, head in hands, reeling. After several minutes, Sherlock reappeared, with significantly more color in his face. He sat in his chair opposite John.

"Sorry about that."

"No, it's… are you all right?"

"Yes. Maybe. I haven't had that much to drink in… ever." He looked more embarrassed than John had ever seen him.

"No need to explain." John tried to force a smile and found that he couldn't. They should talk about this. They should, but he had no idea what to say. His head was still spinning and the words weren't coming together in his mind.

"It's not a comment on—"

"I know." John took a deep breath and pressed his hands against his forehead.

"John," Sherlock said, and his voice was soft. John looked up. "I have no expectations. It was just tonight, and we both had a lot to drink."

"No, no excuses." John took a shaky breath. "I wanted this. I wanted it for a long time, and it's not something I'm going to regret."

Sherlock huffed out a laugh that sounded bitter even to John's ears. "Give it time."

John watched him for a moment, watched him try to bury the pain that was so clear, so raw. John shook his head, looked away, and clenched his jaw against the realization. Sherlock had been doing that for months now, hadn't he? Months of loving John from afar, of not getting in the way, of just being there for John in the only way he knew how.

John took a shaky breath. "I have to tell you something, and I… you know I'm shit at this, but please, let me say it." He looked up, waited for confirmation, but Sherlock just watched him, guarded now. John took another breath, started again. "I've wanted to do that – wanted you for a long time. And I'm… I wish…"

"Don't," Sherlock said softly. "Please don't." He closed his eyes and slumped back in his chair, and John could almost see the walls going up around him.

"No, I need to say this. I… you're my best friend, but it's more than that. You know that, right?"

Sherlock nodded, but didn't look up.

"And I don't know where to… how to understand that because I also love Mary, and she loves me, but she loves you too, and I think… I think she sees that you and I… that we…" He stopped, tried desperately to grasp at the words spinning in his head, to get them out in a way that made sense. "What I'm trying to say is that she knows what you mean to me, and when you came back, she understood. She knew that you were an important part of my life, of my past, but also my present, and… I think she'd understand. This."

She'd teased him when he closed his eyes, asked him to spill out fantasies even while he was inside her, and he'd done it, rationalizing it as something she wanted to hear, something that turned her on. But maybe that wasn't why. Maybe she'd known that he needed it, even if he wasn't ready to face it quite yet himself.

"John," Sherlock said after a moment, and he finally looked up. "Don't make promises you know you won't be able to keep. This is enough. It is."

John swallowed, pressed the heels of his hands over his eyes. "I'm just saying that… Fuck, I don't know what I'm saying."

Sherlock exhaled slowly, a long controlled breath, and John watched him, watched him try to mask the misery on his face, the knowing and having and losing and still wanting it all the same. Sherlock was lost, but John… wasn't. For the first time in a long time, he knew exactly what he wanted, what he'd apparently wanted all along, and now here it was, right in front of him. And he knew – believed, wanted to, anyway – that Mary would understand. He had secrets and regrets, and things that were only his, and she knew that, had known it from the start, from the moment he'd told her about Sherlock and had broken down and cried in front of another human being for the first time in decades, and she'd held him and said, God, you loved him so much. He'd given his heart to Sherlock long ago, and she knew it, knew that there was a part of John she would never really have all to herself, and she loved him anyway.

He smiled, unable to help himself. "She's not expecting me until morning, told me not to come back until I'd got it out of my…" He trailed off, swallowed. "I could sleep on the couch, but… I have one night, tonight – and I would really like to spend it with you. When the sun comes up, I have to go home, but until then… we've got tonight."

Sherlock inhaled, exhaled, and finally looked up. "All right."

"Yes?"

"Yes." Sherlock stood and held out his hand. "One night, and tomorrow you go home to Mary."

"One night." John took his hand and let himself be pulled to his feet. He felt a strange surge of joy then, and had to bite his lip to stop the foolish grin that threatened to erupt on his face. "It's embarrassingly early, anyway. We really have got all night."

The corners of Sherlock's mouth turned up, just slightly. "It's more than I thought I'd get."

John stepped forward and pulled him into an embrace, and buried his face in Sherlock's shoulder. Sherlock smelled like toothpaste and soap, and John was astonished at the feeling of rightness about this, now, here. Sherlock kissed his forehead and John felt him relax in his arms, let go just a bit.

John stepped back and looked up at him. "I'm taking you to bed, Sherlock Holmes."

Sherlock's expression was still guarded, vulnerable, uncertain. John went up on his toes and kissed him, and Sherlock closed his eyes.

"I want everything," John said softly. "And right now, I want you to ruin me for anyone else."

Sherlock smiled then, almost laughed. "I don't know if I can do that, but… I'll try."

"You already have, you know. This is just signing the papers." John took Sherlock's hand in his and stepped back, tugging Sherlock along with him. Sherlock took a single, hesitant step forward, his expression more open and hopeful than John had ever seen it.

John squeezed his hand even tighter and started down the corridor, and didn't look back.

~ fin ~