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Praise Me

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Sherlock's cheeks heated and he ducked his head to hide the red flare across his pale cheekbones. John hadn't noticed, bent over the corpse on the floor in front of them. It used to be easier to hide, but over time, his reaction to praise – to John's praise – had gotten worse. Not that anyone else ever had anything good to say about him.

"Obvious," he said, somewhat belatedly, and John raised his head and quirked a smile at him.

"Maybe to you," he replied, but didn't seem at all put out that he couldn't keep up with Sherlock's brilliance, not like everyone else.

"It's the gardener," Sherlock remarked to the room at large.

"But the footprint–" Anderson started to say.

"Look, here. The angle of the stab wound and depth of penetration tells us the assailant was less than 5 feet six inches tall and had weak wrists. The gardener is 5'5" and has carpal tunnel in her right wrist. She also has an anger management problem, a gambling debt and access to the only Juliet rose in London."

"She was after a flower," Sally Donovan stepped in, tilting her head skeptically.

"It's a very rare flower," Sherlock confirmed. "I think you'll find that if you search Miss Trent's computer, you'll find that she already had a buyer lined up and that last night no one was supposed to be home. They had plans for the evening – I believe Tosca is playing at the Royal Opera, and only Mrs. Collingwood discovering her husband's affair lead to him being here – stumbling straight into her plan to take the rose. She stabbed him with a pair of gardening shears – not out of panic or fear, but I suspect out of rage that he interrupted the smooth flow of her plan."

"Brilliant!" John inserted.

The previous blush crept out of hiding from beneath the collar of his coat, but thankfully John had already turned back around to shoot a pointed look at Lestrade and Sally. Lestrade, in this instance, was unfortunately more observant than Sherlock would have liked, and his brows were nearly touching his hairline in surprise.

Sherlock cursed internally at his naturally pale features, white as a canvass for emotions to paint their story across. Nothing he felt would get past a scrutinizing eye, and Sherlock strived to be as blank as possible.

John was making that endeavour increasingly difficult.

"So how come there are all these footprints everywhere in a size 12 men's?" Anderson asked sulkily, staring down at the greenhouse floor.

"Notice how light they are?" Sherlock asked, looking down at them, thankful for the distraction. "A man who wears a size 12 shoe usually has feet proportional to his height. But these footprints are light enough to belong to Miss Trent, who I think you'll find is only eight and a half stone."

"So how did she make her feet that big?" Anderson asked with a sigh.

"I can think of at least eight ways to accomplish this," Sherlock said, turning on his heel. "Come, John. Our work here is done!"

"That didn't take very long," John commented, matching his stride to Sherlock's.

"It was barely a three," Sherlock griped. "I only went because I thought I might get a glimpse of the rose."

"The rose?" John asked, waiting as Sherlock hailed a taxi. Sherlock scooted across the backseat so that John could get in after him. "How could you possibly know about the rose before we got there?"

"Recognized the name," Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Mummy's a gardener. Hobbyist, mind you, enters the local county fair, that sort of thing. She keeps track of gardening, though, and insists on keeping me updated. I knew right away that the Collingwoods had a Juliet rose and suspected that the murder was connected. Lestrade could have easily solved this one without me, and after all that, I didn't even get to see the rose at all!"

"How much could a rose possibly be worth?" John laughed.

"Three million pounds."

John choked and had a minor coughing fit in the back of the cab as Sherlock looked on in concern. He realized that had he been a normal mate, he'd have pounded John on the back or tried to help. How little this actually helped a choking person was what kept him from trying to interfere.

"Alright?" he eventually offered, and John shot him a faint smile as he wheezed in a breath.

"Three million pounds for a bloody flower," John managed to cough out.

"Yes," Sherlock nodded.

"The world is mad," John said, shaking his head.


They were almost back at Baker Street when John said, "Still, even if it was only a three. Fantastic of you to figure it out so quickly. New record even."

The heat rushed back to his face, and Sherlock was quick to deny, "I estimate that Lestrade would have it figured before the end of the day. He may be slow, but this was child's play."

He had to get John to stop complimenting him. He needed the blood to flow to his brain, not his face. Even as he considered how to persuade John to leave off with all the praise, something inside him rebelled at the idea. He loved it when John complimented him. He'd loved it right up to the point that it became obvious to onlookers how much he adored John's compliments.

He was an addict with a new fix. He needed John's words like air.

"Dinner?" asked John as the cab came to a stop. "I was thinking Chinese."

"I'm not hungry," Sherlock asserted, leaping out of the cab and waited while John paid. He was lying, he could feel the beginnings of hunger pangs, but he could ignore them if he chose. They would die away eventually.

"You're eating," John said, fixing him with a stern look. "You haven't eaten for two days."

"I had toast this morning."

"You had a bite of my toast this morning. That doesn't count."

This was the real reason he resisted John's attempts to get him to eat, sleep or otherwise care for his transport. If John didn't think he was doing a decent job of it, then he would step in and do it for him. It wasn't just that Sherlock thought caring for himself was tedious, which it was, it was that he liked it when John took care of him. A warm feeling settled in his belly as John ordered enough food for two, and although that warm feeling would suffice in place of food, Sherlock would eat–if only to make John happy.

John insisted on turning on the telly, and Sherlock obliged him in that as well. It wasn't as if Sherlock was going to be watching the show, anyway. It turned out that some sci-fi show that John liked was on, and John settled in to watch.

"Oh, Pompeii!" John commented.

"Those costumes aren't historically accurate," Sherlock pointed out.

"Shush," John said. "Just watch the show, Sherlock."

Sherlock didn't, but as John was enthralled by whatever was going on in Pompeii, Sherlock took the opportunity to study his face. Sherlock didn't need to study John's face, not really. He'd memorized it many times over by this point. He could see it clearly in his mind if he wanted to imagine it, but he preferred the original.

John didn't notice his stare at all and was currently laughing along with something the characters had said on-screen. He was distracted, so Sherlock took the chance of shifting closer. John hardly ever noticed when Sherlock did this, so Sherlock often managed to put himself in John's personal space. Sitting on the couch together like this watching telly, knees almost touching and John relaxed and content was what finally allowed Sherlock to relax.

He leaned closer and closer until he was all but draped over John. He wasn't touching him, no, Sherlock kept a careful space between them while they were on the couch. He could get away with touch sometimes, a quick wrist-grab here and an occasional helping hand at getting John his coat wouldn't arouse suspicion at all. John was comfortable enough with him by now that he let these incidents go.

"Are you tired, Sherlock?" John asked, turning to look at him.

"No," he said quickly, jerking himself upright and away from John's warmth.

John smiled at him fondly and shook his head. "Come on, even you have to get tired sometimes. Right, off to bed with you, I think."

John heaved himself up off the couch, then reached down to pull Sherlock up with him. With an air of bemusement, Sherlock allowed himself to be manhandled as John gently pushed him along till he was in his room.

"John," Sherlock protested.

"Goodnight, Sherlock," John said firmly, before closing the door on him.

Sherlock stood there for a moment, but finally gave in. He could hear that John was still watching that silly show, and no doubt if he reemerged, words would be had. Anyway, John was right. He was tired, he didn't have any experiments to work on and he didn't have a case right now. He could catch a few hours now while there was nothing interesting going on.

As he curled up on his bed, Sherlock couldn't help but think that if only John hadn't noticed he was tired, he could have fallen asleep on the couch, and perhaps even have cuddled up to him.

Sherlock fell asleep imagining how nice it would be if he were allowed to touch John more often.


Another day, another chase across the alleyways and back door entryways of London. Sherlock was in the lead, but only because his legs were longer than John's. The murderer ahead of them scaled the chainlink fence in front of them, quickly reaching the top before vaulting off.

Sherlock did a quick calculation in his head. If he went the other way, he could cut her off.

"John, follow her!" he yelled and peeled off in another direction.

He didn't stop to see if John had followed his order. The murderer was fast and agile, a professional dancer that had jealously killed off her competition.

The murderer was much faster than he'd anticipated, because as soon as he rounded the corner, he collided with her, and they both went down in a tangle. For several long moments, everything was a blurred and confused jumble of limbs. However, Sherlock's opponent twisted out of his grasp with ease and rolled to her feet.

Sherlock, still wrapped up in his coat, couldn't get to his feet fast enough to stop her.

For a second, both Sherlock and the dancer thought she was home free. They'd both forgotten about John, who came out of nowhere and full-body tackled her to the ground once again. Sherlock moved to help, anticipating that she would escape John as she had him. It was soon obvious that John didn't need any assistance in the matter, as he had her expertly pinned down and was already zip-tying her wrists behind her back.

"Excellent, John," Sherlock said, pleased at their success.

John grinned up at him from the ground, uncaring that he had a smear of dirt across one cheek and had scraped the back of his hand while apprehending the murderer.

Sherlock could have stared all day if Lestrade and his team hadn't shown up a minute later, panting and out of breath.

"Really, her?" Lestrade said, looking puzzled.

"Yes, her," Sherlock replied, belting out the words like bullets from a machine gun. "You would have found her a lot faster if you hadn't automatically assumed that your murderer was a man."

"But their necks were snapped!" Sally Donovan said loudly. "I'm a police officer, and even I'm not strong enough to break someone's neck. It had to have been the manager!"

"She wasn't using her hands," Sherlock said dryly. "You should know, Sgt. Donovan, that a woman's thighs are very powerful and absolutely capable of snapping someone's neck."

"Oh!" Lestrade's eyes snapped back over to Sherlock. "Like the Black Widow!"

"What?" Sherlock said, irritated, as he had the strong feeling that once again, some silly pop-culture reference was being made.

Several of the surrounding officers made sounds of recognition and looked down at their perpetrator with renewed interest.

"She's a super hero," John explained.

"I see," Sherlock said testily and sulked.

He was still sulking long after the police had taken the murderer away and was silent as he hailed a cab to take them back to Baker Street.

Halfway there, John spoke up again.

"That was very well done, Sherlock," John said. "No one would have thought of her using her thighs like you said."

"It was rather obvious," Sherlock replied, but preened under the attention.

"I'll type it up on the blog, later," John continued. "I'm sure all our readers will be very impressed by how clever you were."

Sherlock flushed up with pleasure, but quickly came back to himself as he caught John watching him attentively.

"Sherlock, are you blushing?" John asked.

"Of course not," Sherlock denied, but the words that were meant to sound brusque instead came out too hasty and with a faint air of panic.

"Do you like compliments, Sherlock?" John asked, sounding amused.

"No," Sherlock said, but quickly added, in case John decided to stop. "I don't dislike them, either."

"Maybe I should compliment you more often," John teased. "It's a very fetching look on you."

Immediately, Sherlock's face burned and he turned to face the window, unable to look John in the eyes, afraid he would see how much John's praise affected him. He felt a prickling sensation all along his spine, and he crossed and uncrossed his legs in agitation.

"We're here," the cabbie said.

Sherlock escaped the confines of the cab and hurried up the front step. Mrs. Hudson was coming out the front door, and he squeezed past her and quickly scaled the stairs, ignoring her call of "Sherlock!" after his retreating back. He hurried into the bathroom and snapped the door shut behind him. He turned the tap on cold and dunked his cupped hands under the stream before splashing it on his heated face.

He didn't stop until he felt somewhat normal, and the strange twisting sensation in his stomach had calmed back down.

He emerged to find that John was back on the couch, reading the evening newspaper. John glanced over the top of it at him and smiled.

"Tea?" he offered, and Sherlock hesitated.

"Please," he said, and folded himself into his chair.

John got up to make a cup, and Sherlock stole his laptop off the table to check his email. John came by to give Sherlock his tea, but when he went to take it, John deliberately stroked his finger over the back of Sherlock's hand. Sherlock nearly dropped the cup in surprise as a tingle of heat burned its way through him.

He chanced a look up at John to find that John had fixed him with a steady, knowing gaze. As John went over to his own chair to resume reading the paper, Sherlock got the feeling that John wasn't going to just let this go.


He was right, as usual. John, so used to making off-hand compliments without realizing their full impact on their recipient had finally started to be more attentive. It was ridiculous, the way he would say something as he usually did, but then watch Sherlock's face for any sign that it had been received.

Like right now.

"Brilliant," John said, turning with a bright smile for Sherlock.

Even before he'd even finished saying it, Sherlock could already feel the string of heat brushing over his cheekbones. It was such a silly reaction. John called him brilliant all the time, at least three times a day, but he reacted like it was the very first time, as if he were back in the back seat of that very first cab and John was telling him how extraordinary he was.

He'd blushed then, too, that first time, and turned away to look out the window to hide it. He'd been surprised then, surprised and unexpectedly happy. No one appreciated his brain, not even when he was helping them.


That's what he got for trying to show off his only commendable trait. People stared at him sometimes in the street, and Sherlock had to put his mental walls up at full blast so that the hurt didn't show through. He felt like a circus animal on these occasions, on display for people to stare at. He was a train wreck, a disaster, something people liked to look at from a distance and record on their phones, but wouldn't approach or want in their own mundane lives.

John was different. John thought he was amazing. He got a little flutter in his stomach whenever he thought about John thinking of him.

John was watching, looking at the hint of red highlighting his ridiculous cheekbones. Sherlock pretended that he didn't notice John, pretended that evidence of his pleasure wasn't written all over him. His heart was going to break itself into pieces fighting with his ribcage.

John got up and passed by Sherlock lying prone on the sofa and asked, "What are you working on now?"

What he was really doing was categorizing John's facial expressions, but that's not what one said to one's flatmate.

"Going through dust-settling patterns," he rapidly improvised. "There's a certain way that different activity within an environment will affect the way in which..."

"Alright, yes, I get it," John chuckled. "I'll leave you to it."

Sherlock settled back into the cushions and went back to contemplating the pleasing bone structure of John's countenance.

"My clever detective," John said fondly, walking over to the kitchen and stroking a gentle hand through Sherlock's riot of curls on his way past.

Sherlock's whirring mind came to an abrupt and catastrophic halt.

Bits and pieces of stray thought and emotion went careening off into the ether as Sherlock's heart went from steadily pumping to wildly flailing. He inhaled sharply and then forgot all about continuing to breathe. All the hair on the back of his neck stood on end and his gut erupted in a fresh bout of angry, cannibalistic butterflies.

John must have noticed something, because he was on his knees beside the couch in an instant, looking into Sherlock's no doubt panicked gaze with concern.

"Alright?" John whispered, carefully raising a hand to rest it overtop of where Sherlock had a bit of the couch fabric clenched in his fist.

"You... Your..." Sherlock tried to say, suddenly incapable of stringing that particular combination of words together, completely unable to repeat what John had just said to him.

"My clever detective," John repeated, with soft inflection. "Is that okay?"

"I... I..." Sherlock stuttered, looking pleadingly at John.

Sherlock didn't know what to do. This wasn't his area at all, but John always knew what to do when it came to sentiment and wayward emotion. Sherlock was completely at sea when it came to expressing what he felt. John had to understand. He knew Sherlock, he had to have come to some conclusions about Sherlock's helplessness in the face of emotional upheaval.

Please, John. Don't misunderstand. Don't take Sherlock's silence for disdain, or rejection, or anything negative at all. Just know that Sherlock can't find a way to explain it, or say it out loud.

How could John not know already that Sherlock adored him utterly?

"Shhh, you're alright," John said. "Just breathe, Sherlock."

As if that were a cue, Sherlock breathed in deeply and tried to bring the racing of his heart back down to normal. John stayed next to him and stroked the back of his hand until Sherlock's mind and body had calmed back down.

He should be ashamed of himself. Why couldn't he control himself in these situations? And why, oh why, did he find himself in this situation at all? What must John think of him, having to sit here and soothe Sherlock back to normal. It was a pathetic state of affairs.

"I'm sorry, John," he said eventually.

"Don't apologize, Sherlock," John said. "It's fine. It's all fine."

John started getting back to his feet and, tilting forward, pressed a dry, chaste kiss to Sherlock's brow. Sherlock closed his eyes helplessly and leaned into the contact, revelling in John's quiet affection. He couldn't help it; this is what John did to him.

Shhh. Breathe. Just breathe.


It started happening more and more often now that Sherlock was watching for it. John would compliment him at crime scenes or at NSY and then watch for Sherlock to respond. Sherlock always did, not because he did it consciously, but because his visceral reaction to John's compliments was extremely consistent. John always looked pleased when he did, and then Sherlock's stomach would flutter and he would look away in embarrassment at his lack of control.

John was touching him more, too. John's hands were a marvel, and the feel of them stroking his hand, or sliding through his hair and over the nape of his neck sent a thrill of delight down Sherlock's spine each time.

The kisses were the best thing of all. John wasn't stingy with them, he doled them out as if he had an endless supply, just for Sherlock. He'd press them to Sherlock's forehead, the tip of his nose, the top of his head, smoothing his curls out of the way. Sherlock would make a sound a little like a sigh and a bit like a purr whenever John gave him one.

Lestrade noticed. Of course he would notice something like this and not that the murderer was obviously left-handed, played the guitar and had a chronic foot-odour problem.

"So, you and John...?" Lestrade asked while John was distracted telling off Anderson for making rude remarks about Sherlock again.

"It's not like that," Sherlock hissed back, slightly taken aback at Lestrade's insinuation.

It wasn't like that, as far as Sherlock could tell. It wasn't as if Sherlock wouldn't be amenable to such a change in their relationship, but John was setting the pace of whatever was going on, not just for John's own sake, but for Sherlock's. And Sherlock knew that. Sherlock would never even consider saying "no" if he thought that John wanted a romantic relationship, but he wouldn't instigate it either. John was doing the navigating for both of them, and Sherlock was grateful for that, because if he were in charge, they'd be hopelessly lost. As it was, he didn't know where they were going and was relying on John to chart their course, as it were.

"It sure looks like it from this side of things," Lestrade said dubiously.

Great. Even half-arsed detective inspectors knew what was going on in his and John's relationship when Sherlock was floundering. What did John even see in him. He was so ridiculous and stupid when it came to this.

He was so absorbed in Lestrade's words, that he almost didn't notice the closet nearest them, slightly ajar. Rarely opened, a closet for extra storage, perhaps for seasonal disparity in outdoor activity. There was a bicycle leaning up against the wall in the hallway and a football and some tennis rackets, but no cleats or helmet.

"Lestrade, if you hadn't been so idiotic as to distract me while I'm on a case, maybe I would have noticed earlier that the murderer is still present at this crime scene," Sherlock said.

The door of the closet burst open at his words, but Sherlock was prepared for the murderer's attempt at escape. He leapt forward to grapple with the murderer and behind him, Lestrade and the other officers shouted in alarm.

What Sherlock was not prepared for was the fact that the murderer was still wielding the murder weapon, a chef's knife that had been missing from the block in the kitchen.

The murderer slashed at him, but luckily, only the tip caught Sherlock's arm. His thick coat kept him from being harmed too badly, but he fell back instinctively as the murderer lunged at him again.

"Move!" John yelled.

Sherlock flung himself out of the way. John barreled past him and rapidly disarmed the murderer, taking him down without a moment's hesitation. It was all done so smoothly that it looked completely effortless.

Sherlock looked behind him to see that the police had all drawn their weapons, but hadn't taken a shot due to his close proximity to their target.

Lestrade holstered his weapon and then knelt down beside John, handcuffs out and ready.

After the adrenaline had worn off, his arm stung viciously, and Sherlock clenched his teeth hard to keep from making any sound to give away the pain he was in. John, ever vigilant when it came to Sherlock's well-being, noticed almost immediately.

"You've got your murder suspect," John said firmly. "We can give our statements tomorrow, or you can drop by later. But Sherlock needs medical attention."

Sherlock went to protest that he was quite alright and that he didn't think Lestrade should come by tonight at all, but John took him by his uninjured arm and lead him away.

Sherlock thought he held up very stoically through the entire cab ride home, but as soon as John helped him out of his coat, he made a high-pitched whine.

John didn't listen to a single protest, but cut away the sleeve of Sherlock's shirt where it was tacky with congealing blood and washed the site of the wound. It was about three inches long and deep enough that John tisked and said he'd need to put in stitches.

Sherlock tried to watch the proceedings with his usual clinical disinterest, but even though John had given him a local anaesthetic to help with the pain, it still ached. It was still aching while John made them tea and Sherlock sulked on the couch over the bloodstains all down the sleeve of his coat and the ruin of his shirt.

"Here, budge up."

Sherlock blinked in surprise as John shifted him enough that he could sit on the end of the couch, and then moved Sherlock's head back in his lap. Sherlock didn't know what to do in this situation. But his arm hurt and he was upset, and John smelled good, like comfort and home, and was stroking his hair.

"Shhh," John said.

Sherlock settled into John's lap and sighed in contentment. He was warm and comfortable, and John didn't mind that Sherlock was burying his face in the soft material of John's jumper. Sherlock drifted off in a haze of uncomplicated happiness with John's hand in his hair.


The first time it happened, Sherlock thought that John was going for the tip of his nose. Sherlock liked those ones best, secretly. They made him feel special, because John was careful with those ones, careful to place his lips exactly on the point. Kisses on his head could be careless and quick, but John's nose-kisses were his most deliberate and steady.

Or so he'd thought until John placed one on his mouth.

He wasn't sure what was happening at first. He was overwhelmed with sensation and the novelty of feeling John breathing into him gently. John's mouth was soft and careful, fluttering a barely-there kiss over Sherlock's untouched lips. Sherlock's breath stuttered as John drew away and looked into his eyes from close enough that Sherlock could see all the spectrum of a summer sky in them.

"Alright?" John asked, and Sherlock could feel the air, still warm from John's lungs, brush over his face.

Sherlock wanted to breathe in that air, that vital air that kept John alive. He wanted to breathe the same air as John and know that the very same air that sustained John would do the same for him. Sherlock tilted his head up and John smiled and leaned in.

He felt John's hand come up to cup his jaw and steady him. Could he feel Sherlock's pulse picking up where his fingers were resting on Sherlock's neck? His kisses were gentle and undemanding, and Sherlock felt like he were a person in a dark room, stumbling his way forward with only the wall to guide him. But he was ever so grateful for that wall, for the support John offered without him even asking for it.

John didn't push him, let Sherlock explore the shape of John's mouth against his and hummed whenever Sherlock tried something new, a variation in pressure or a change in position. Sherlock knew his technique must be clumsy, that it must be plainly obvious that he hadn't done this before.

When they finally broke apart, Sherlock was panting.

"Breathe, Sherlock."

Sherlock breathed.


John kissed him.


John took to kissing him whenever he saw Sherlock. He still kissed him on his head and on his nose, and Sherlock would have been sad if he'd stopped. But now, in the mornings, John would come down the stairs in his robe and his hair still sticking up from sleeping and wherever Sherlock happened to be, John would kiss him. He kissed him before he even went to put on the kettle for tea.

He kissed him goodnight, too, before he went up to bed. Sherlock began wishing that he could follow John up the stairs and curl around John in sleep. Maybe Sherlock would sleep more if that were allowed.

John would kiss him before he left for work, and after he came home. He would kiss him as he handed him a cup of tea or when Sherlock was trying to sulk on the couch.

Sometimes, he would even let Sherlock kiss him instead of watching whatever silly show was on in the evening. Sherlock was getting better at it now, and was charting his progress in his mind palace. He didn't want John to see it and tease him about it. John had begun to expand on their kissing activity, letting his hands wander from Sherlock's jaw down over his shoulders or to his waist. He never pushed it further, but Sherlock was fine with this pace. He had all the time in the world to catalogue his experiences like this.

The first time John coaxed his mouth open and slid his tongue against Sherlock's, a frisson of heat ran down his spine and settled in his gut. John tasted of Earl Grey and biscuits, and each time his tongue explored a different area of Sherlock's mouth, a tingle of delight went through him. His heart was pounding and he felt hot all over.

John was slowly teaching him, leading by example. He would demonstrate something, and when Sherlock copied it, he'd make an encouraging sound. Sherlock was even beginning to be able to touch John like John had touched him, running his fingers experimentally over the short hair on the back of his neck or feeling the shifting muscles in John's shoulders. Sherlock was getting more confident with his ability, and Sherlock was pleased with his progress without feeling embarrassed about it.

Sherlock began standing even closer to John at crime scenes, feeling the need to be close. John didn't mind, and when their elbows would nudge together or the backs of their hands would brush, Sherlock would smile when John wasn't looking.

One night, they were waiting for a cab to come by in the rain and John turned to him and smiled.

"My clever detective," he said warmly and leaned up on the balls of his feet to kiss Sherlock.

Sherlock blushed and let him.

After that, John would kiss him in public sometimes. He'd never make a display, not like hormone-driven teens on the bus, all smacking lips and clinging limbs. He'd kiss him while they were waiting for a cab, or when they walking to and from Angelo's. He'd kiss him after he solved a particularly difficult case, when they were just out of sight of NSY's finest.

Or not so out of sight.

"About time," Lestrade said, having come to talk to them and accidentally walked in on them.

Sherlock broke away from John and flushed red all over.

"Well, you know," John said calmly. "These things take time if you do them properly."

"Right you are," Lestrade replied, and then left, because the shock of seeing Sherlock in such a state had no doubt wiped his mind of any relevant information concerning their most recent case.

John wanted to do this properly, and Sherlock had never been happier.


One evening, Sherlock felt confident enough that he could lean over the top of John's newspaper and kiss him, never mind the awkward angle. It was his first time initiating a kiss, and he was allowed to make some logistical mistakes as long as his lips contacted John's. Anyway, he noticed right away and corrected it himself.

John hummed in pleasure and dropped his newspaper on the floor, forgetting about current events in favour of returning Sherlock's hesitant kiss with vigour. Sherlock tried John's trick with his tongue, the one where he would run it along the seam of Sherlock's mouth. John opened up underneath him, becoming languid and pliant as Sherlock kissed him.

Without quite realizing what was happening, Sherlock found himself straddling John's lap in his chair, balancing his forearms on John's shoulders and tangling his fingers in his tawny-gold hair. John's hands had come up around his back and were running up and down the notches of his spine and over his sides.

There was an urgent whimper, and Sherlock found that he himself had made it. John's lap was warm and comfortable beneath him, and this angle was brilliant for delving into John's mouth, to seek out the slick heat and responsive tongue.

John nipped his bottom lip, and a spark of something started in his belly and settled hotly in the cradle of his hips. Sherlock heaved in ragged breaths between desperately engaging John's mouth with his own.

He drew back to gasp in air, because he always forgot about breathing when he was kissing John. He felt sluggish with the liquid heat running through his veins and it took him several moments to notice the thick heaviness of his groin.

"Oh," Sherlock gasped, moving to get out of John's lap.

John stopped him with a touch to his arm. "Hey, hey. It's all fine."

Sherlock felt his face flush and he stared down at his own lap where the evidence of his burgeoning desire was beginning to tent his trousers. He shuffled backwards slightly to put some space in between him and John, feeling awkward and out-of-place.

"It's okay, Sherlock," John said quietly. "I'm not going to take your reaction to mean that you're ready for this step yet."

"I'm not some blushing virgin, John," Sherlock protested.

He was though. If John were to say at this very moment that he wanted to take it further, Sherlock would have no idea how to proceed. Theoretically, it shouldn't be such a daunting task, to satisfy a lover, but Sherlock wasn't at all certain of his own ability.

And here he was, frozen, staring down helplessly at his own arousal waiting for John to tell him what to do about it.

"I don't mind if you are, you know," John said, and Sherlock ducked his head to avoid John's knowing gaze. "I wouldn't mind if all you wanted for the rest of your life was kissing."

"It's not that," Sherlock hurried to say, cheeks flushing hot with shame. "I do wish I knew... how to give you more. I just need time to... understand. I'm sorry if I'm not ready yet John. I'm just being... really... stupid about this."

There, he'd said it. The admission wasn't something he'd made lightly, not when John admired Sherlock's intelligence so fiercely.

"Oh, Sherlock," John said, cupping Sherlock's face in his hands. "You're not stupid, not at all. It's absolutely fine if you want time. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. I'm just glad that you're telling me what you want."

John smoothed a thumb over one of Sherlock's ridiculous cheekbones, and the look on his face made Sherlock's chest ache. He leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Sherlock's mouth.

"You're beautiful," John said.

Sherlock's face flared with renewed embarrassment. He still did that every time John complimented him, no matter how many times John called him brilliant. This was different though. He understood the remarks about his intelligence and deductive capability, but this was another type of comment entirely.

"You can't mean that, John, not with my face," Sherlock said, turning his head away slightly.

"What do you mean by that?" John asked with a frown. "You're gorgeous."

Sherlock's heart was hammering, even as he shook his head in denial. "John, really. I have a strange face, all pale with too many sharp points. It is striking, but you can't really think that the aesthetic appeal is anything close to societal beauty norms."

"Screw societal beauty norms," John declared and then leaned up to touch his lips to the tip of Sherlock's nose. "You're the most attractive man I know."

Sherlock wished there was a way to wipe the colour off his face with his hand.

His neglected erection gave a renewed throb and Sherlock said, "John, I think maybe I should..."

"Er, yes," John said. "Yes, you should take care of that."

Sherlock halted halfway off John's lap and frowned, "Take care?"

"Well, yes, you know," John said. "Don't be embarrassed, it's perfectly normal."

Sherlock hadn't had to "take care" of an erection since he was a teen and still at the mercy of a hormone-pumped human body. He'd been planning on ignoring it and hoping it would go away. It was easier, now that he had better control of his body – not that it was helping right now.

"I wasn't going to – "

"You should," John said, and it amazed Sherlock that John wasn't acting awkwardly at all. "It helps to know how to pleasure someone else if you already know how to pleasure yourself."

Sherlock was going to self-combust on the spot from sheer humiliation. And that, in itself, was part of the problem, Sherlock realized.

"I'm going to my room!" Sherlock squeaked and fled.

Once ensconced in his room, Sherlock didn't know what to do. He was still wide awake and he'd left an experiment halfway through being done. There was nothing to do in his room except sit on the edge of his bed and wait for his body to calm down. Sherlock lay back on his bed with his legs dangling off the edge and decided to reorganize his Mind Palace for a while, and by the time he was finished, all would be fine.

Five minutes later, and his Mind Palace was untouched and his arousal was still very much present. It was uncomfortable where it was pressing up against the zip of his trousers and very distracting. Each time he tried to think of something else, all he could think of was how John's hands had skated up his back and sides. If they felt that good on the rest of him, would they be just as skilled in other areas? Sherlock could only assume so, with a nickname like Three Continents Watson.

Ten minutes later, and his half-hard cock had fully filled rather than deflated as he had hoped. Something had to be done.

The zip pulling down was loud in the quiet room, punctuated only by Sherlock's panting breaths. He sighed in relief as the pressure on his erection released. He felt it twitch in anticipation, and Sherlock wondered to himself if he was actually going to do this.

Curiously, he palmed himself gently and had to bite down on his lower lip to suppress an unexpectedly loud moan that forced itself from his throat. He felt all tight and hot, and his hips jerked up even as his hand stilled.

Teeth still digging into his lip, he stroked again and felt a shot of molten heat start condensing in his gut, coiling up tight. He reached down with one hand and slipped it under the elastic of his briefs, and the heat of his bare hand touching his cock sent spasms of pleasure through him.

He whimpered and then put his free hand up to his mouth to stifle the noises. He bit down on the fleshy part of his hand, next to the thumb and tried to concentrate on the pain rather than the intense pleasure his other hand was provoking.

He was leaking, and the glide of his hand over his erection was smooth and easy. The hot, liquid pleasure in his gut tightened further. His hips pressed upward as he mindlessly seeked out his own release.

Little cries and keening noises were escaping his mouth and he reached desperately for the pillow above his head.

A moment later, he reached his peak and screamed John's name, muffled by the pillow hastily shoved over his face. His body was completely outside his control as it shuddered under the onslaught of sensation. When he finally came down from his high, his body felt loose and boneless, and he'd never felt less like moving in his life.

He slowly became aware that his trousers and shirt were sticky with his release and his hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat. Moving with great effort, Sherlock removed his soiled clothes and pulled on a pair of pyjama pants and a t-shirt. He had a quick debate in his head and then pulled on a robe overtop of that.

Feeling exposed and concealed in equal parts, Sherlock emerged from his room.

John was sitting on the couch watching the telly and Sherlock approached hesitantly and came to stand next to the couch awkwardly. John looked up and smiled.

"Feeling better?"

Sherlock nodded.

"Come here, then," John said, patting the couch next to him.

Sherlock gratefully collapsed next to him, and John reached out to pull Sherlock into his lap. Sherlock made a small, contented noise and curled up snuggly against him. John ran his surgeon's fingers through Sherlock's hair, and Sherlock sighed.

This, whatever it was. He liked having this.


Sherlock conceded that it should have been awkward constantly needing to leave to go "take care of himself" as it were, and if it had just been Sherlock, it would have been. But John was incredibly understanding, and had the patience of a saint.

Sherlock did feel bad about it, all the time. He didn't like that his actions were probably frustrating, but John insisted that Sherlock shouldn't feel obligated. He was adamant that Sherlock not do anything unless he was absolutely sure that's what he wanted.

Sherlock was also frustrated with himself. He dithered, and every single time he and John ended up snogging on the couch, Sherlock thought "this time, this is it," but would lose his nerve midway.

What if he did it wrong?

Or even worse, what if John didn't think he was good enough?

He had all the evidence to the contrary, John absolutely did think he was more than good enough, but the irrational fear kept bubbling up inside him.

The way things were going, Sherlock was almost relieved that it happened the way it did.

Of course, he wasn't relieved until afterward. At the time of the incident, it was mortifying in the extreme, and Sherlock finally came to understand why sometimes people wished the ground would come alive and swallow them.

It started, as is usual, with a crime scene.

This one was rather unremarkable, as crime scenes go. Most people would be horrified to come upon a single corpse, never mind three corpses that had been dismembered and were actually missing their heads. However, it was perfectly clear to Sherlock exactly what had happened.

"That one's been frozen for three months, that one six weeks and that one's fresh. Do you want to know how I know that? It's because..."

He had his entire deduction ready behind his teeth to let fly when everything he'd just figured out went scattering out of his head. He stopped abruptly mid-word and gaped.

John was on his knees next to the unfrozen corpse and was bending over to examine something. It was what John did on a regular basis, and yet, for some reason, the sight of it now sent all thought careening off into the void. And then, he experienced every single one of his terrible physical tells all at once. He flushed up to the tips of his ears, he forgot how to breathe and worst of all, he felt the beginnings of an erection.

John's jeans were molded to the powerful curve of his arse, and it was tilted up right in front of him invitingly. So far, he'd only gotten sufficiently aroused when in physical contact with John, and it was the worst possible time to discover that visual data had the same effect.

Sherlock made an embarrassing strangled squeaking noise, turned on his heel and left the crime scene without any further comment. Lestrade and Donovan stared at his retreating back and Lestrade yelled "Sherlock!" after him, but Sherlock didn't halt his hasty retreat.

They were in a shipping warehouse, and Sherlock quickly found the closest bathroom and locked himself in, leaning against the wall and breathing hard. He squeezed his eyes shut and ground his palms against his face, but nothing was erasing the provocative image he'd seen. His groin throbbed in time with his racing heart and Sherlock could feel sweat starting to form on the back of his neck.


John was knocking on the door, and Sherlock drew in a deep breath, trying to calm down. In through the nose, out through the mouth, inhale and count to 7, exhale and count to 11.

He did stop panicking, at least, but the persistent erection wouldn't abate. Think, he tried to think of chemical equations, dust-settling formations, the different types of mud located along the banks of the Thames. Nothing was helping, and he couldn't remember anything useful anyway.

"Sherlock!" John knocked again. "Let me in!"

Sherlock did. John had far more experience with this type of thing. Surely John would know some sort of trick to get his mind back on track.

"Make it stop," he demanded as soon as John had entered.

John took one look at the tent in Sherlock's trousers, then closed and locked the door behind him.

"I've tried everything, John, and it won't go away!" Sherlock hissed. "I can't think! I even tried to picture Mycroft eating cake and that didn't work!"

"Well, if we were at home, I'd suggest a cold shower," John said. "That isn't really an option here."

"Thank you for your useless input, John!" Sherlock snarled. "I can see that it's not an option!"

"Calm down."

Sherlock took in another deep breath, because he could feel it speeding up again. John was close, and he could smell John's gunpowder and laundry soap scent. It was warm, and dangerous, and comforting all at once.

"John," he pleaded.

"Have you tried taking care of it?" John asked.

Sherlock shook his head. "We're at a crime scene."

"We're not supposed to giggle at crime scenes either."

Sherlock barked a laugh and then looked at John, who was looking back seriously.

"Sherlock, will you let me take care of it for you?"

Sherlock almost slumped in relief. John knew what to do, John always knew what to do, and he was going to fix this.

He tensed and waited for John to touch him. They would get this over with, and then they would be back at the crime scene and no one would be the wiser. Except maybe Mycroft, but Sherlock wouldn't dwell on him.

"Shhh," John said, and Sherlock felt a hand on his jaw. "Relax, it's okay."

Then John kissed him, and the world fell away. He forgot they were in a bathroom, he forgot there were police nearby waiting for him to return and solve a case for them, he forgot that he was about to let someone touch him and that he didn't know what to do.

John's body was warm and solid against him, and Sherlock wrapped both arms around John's strong shoulders and didn't let go. The heat and slick welcome wetness of John's mouth distracted him to the point that he didn't notice John's deft fingers unbuttoning his trousers.

"You're sure this is okay?" John said.

Sherlock nodded frantically against John's shoulder.

John's hand, slightly cool against the heat of his abdomen, slipped down and pulled the fabric of his pants away from his body. Sherlock trembled, and at the first touch of John's hand to his throbbing desire, cried out into the fabric of John's wool jumper.

John was holding him caged against the wall, and as much as he wanted to thrust against John's warm palm, he couldn't move. He mewled pleadingly and pressed his nose against John's throat, nipping at the skin there and accidentally biting down when John made a fist around his cock and caressed him from root to tip.

He tried to apologize for that, as it no doubt left a mark with teeth-prints, but then John rolled his thumb over the head of his cock, smearing liquid and pumping him again.

He clutched at John's shoulders and held on tight as John fell into a steady rhythm, one that had Sherlock gasping and panting into his ear. His gut felt tight and hot, and coiling ever tighter the longer John stroked him. Sherlock's head tilted back and hit the wall with a thunk and he felt as if he were melting.

"Gorgeous," John rumbled against his exposed throat, licking and biting at the spot under his ear.

Sherlock's thighs shook as he neared his release.

"John!" he whined, writhing against John's body. "Please, John, oh God – John!"

John pressed their mouths together, and it was wet and sloppy as Sherlock's coordination failed. John had sped up his strokes and Sherlock was making little "ah!" noises every time John's palm rolled over his glans.

He peaked without warning, and his entire body shook as he spilled into the space between them, cries muffled against John's mouth. John held him through it, and Sherlock slumped as he came back down. If not for John's support, Sherlock would have slid right down to the floor in a puddle of satisfied consulting detective.

"John," he managed, mouthing the word against the heated skin of John's neck.

"Alright?" John asked, nuzzling their heads together.

"Yes," Sherlock said, brain finally coming back online. "As for the corpses, I think we'd better go back and tell Lestrade how to solve his case. Ugh, it's only a six at most. No doubt they're already halfway finished and I'll hardly have to explain a thing!"

As Sherlock rested against John, he became aware that although most of John was warm where they were pressed together, there was something hard and throbbing digging into his hip.

"Oh!" Sherlock said, pulling back to look down curiously. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you were in a similar state. We can do something about that..."

"No Sherlock, not right now. You have a case to finish, and it will be far less noticeable for me not to be able to think clearly than you. Besides, I'm rather used to it by now."

Sherlock blushed, and wished he knew what he was doing. Maybe John would be satisfied then.

"Yes, the case," Sherlock said, but it came out more high-pitched than he'd wanted.

He turned and clattered out the door, and back to the crime scene. He had to walk a bit awkwardly, as his pants were sticky with the evidence of release. No doubt his colour was still high as well, but there was nothing for it.

Donovan was certainly giving him strange looks upon his return, but it turned out that they hadn't gotten anywhere in his absence. His rapid-fire deductions put them back in place and set them off in the right direction again.

On their way home in the cab, Sherlock stared at John's reflection in the window. He had to figure this out soon, before John got bored of Sherlock's insecurities and gave up on him.


"John," Sherlock said one evening, just after he'd finished showering. "I want to touch you."

He'd tried very hard to set up everything in advance. He had made his bed, cleaned up all the clutter and aired it out earlier that day. He'd even braved a trip to the nearest Tesco to pick up condoms, just in case. Lube, he already had, from earlier experiments involving him trying to figure out the best angle to get his own fingers in his anus. It was a lot harder than he'd imagined.

He'd done all that, even though he'd gotten a text from Mycroft on his way to Tesco.

Getting a bit ahead of ourselves, are we? MH

Sod off. SH

He'd even had the foresight to get rid of Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Turner in one go by sending them both off to a spa for the weekend, citing it was International Landlady Appreciation Week. Obviously, it wasn't, but neither of them was the type to turn down a free weekend out of London.

Sherlock was usually very thorough in the shower, but this time, he was extra rigorous in his cleaning regime. Everything had to be perfect, because Sherlock wasn't, but maybe John wouldn't notice if he put in enough effort.

So he told John that he wanted to touch him and waited for John to whisk them away to Sherlock's bedroom, ready and waiting. Sherlock had scented candles. That's how perfect this had to be, and he was fully prepared to scatter rose petals if the occasion called for them.

John looked up from his newspaper and Sherlock frowned.

John was wearing his "I have a hot date that I've been really looking forward to" clothes on. He'd had his hair trimmed earlier that day and he was wearing aftershave. Was he expecting to go out with someone, then? Stupid, stupid! Sherlock should have made sure he didn't already have plans.

Sherlock had thought John wasn't seeing women anymore after he'd started this. But he should have realized. Obviously, John had already become tired of him and was moving on.

Sherlock was too late.

Sherlock turned to go back to his room, and he felt his eyes watering and stinging. Surely he wasn't going to cry? What a stupid reaction to a stupid situation that stupid Sherlock had brought down on his stupid self.

John's hand slipped into his.

"Dinner?" he asked, voice warm. "I booked us a table at Angelo's."

Sherlock spun back around and stared down at John, who was looking up at him and smiling gently. Oh. Oh. It was him. He was John's hot date. Sherlock blushed and blinked rapidly, because he felt like crying again. He looked down to try and hide his shining eyes and blushed anew, because John was wearing his "I'm getting laid tonight" shoes.

John tugged gently at his hand, and Sherlock followed him to the door and out into the night. John held his hand as they walked and Sherlock tried to figure out what was going on.

"John, why are we going to Angelo's?" he asked.

"You want tonight to be special, right?" John said, squeezing his hand. "I do, too. And my perfect night involves going out to a nice restaurant and having a delicious meal together and sharing a bottle of wine."

"Oh," Sherlock could feel himself smiling. "How did you know?"

"Sherlock, you were cleaning. You hate cleaning. Also, it was hard to miss you taking the petals of two dozen roses and borrowing all of Mrs. Hudson's candles."

"And Mrs. Turner's," Sherlock added.

"Yes, so I wanted us both to get our perfect night. Sherlock, I want you to be happy, and I want us to be together."

"If we're together, I'll be happy," Sherlock promised.

John smiled at him, and Sherlock could see the eternity of a night sky reflected in his eyes. Sherlock wasn't really one for poetry, but he could understand it when he looked at John.

"Sherlock!" Angelo said jovially as they entered the restaurant. "It is good to see you again. I will go fetch a candle. More romantic."

John pulled out his chair for him and took his coat. Sherlock had forgotten that John was a gentleman when he was out on a date. It had been a while since Sherlock had spied on one of John's dates. John took his hand across the table and twined their fingers together.

"John," Sherlock said, studying John's strong, capable hands together with his own slender, pale ones. "Do you really want this? With me?"

"Of course I do," John said. "Have I not made it clear?"

"You have," Sherlock admitted, turning to look out the window. "Very adamantly. I just don't understand why you want me when you could have the very best person in London. In England. In all the world. That's what you deserve."

"Sherlock, you are the very best. That's what you are to me, the very best person in all the world. And I know you're not perfect, and I'm not either. But our imperfections fit each other's perfectly."

They ordered and had dinner, and it was exactly like any other dinner they'd had at Angelo's. Sherlock deduced the other patrons and talked about past cases, and John laughed along. John called him brilliant, and Sherlock was bursting with the feeling it brought him. It was entirely different, because now, Sherlock knew that John wanted him.

"I want to have you as long as possible," Sherlock said as they made their way home.

"Then you'll have me forever."

As they climbed the stairs to 221B, Sherlock felt the usual nervousness coming back, but he reminded himself that John wasn't going to laugh at him for not knowing what to do. John knew already that this wasn't Sherlock's area. They'd both come this far already, and Sherlock didn't want to disappoint John. Moreover, Sherlock didn't want to disappoint himself.

Sherlock hung up his coat beside John's carefully, and toed off his shoes. When he turned around, John was already waiting for him, hand outstretched. Sherlock took it and let John lead him to Sherlock's room.

Sherlock stood awkwardly in the middle of the room fidgeting with the button on his sleeve cuff while John surveyed the room. His heart was thumping and it was all he could hear.

"John?" he whispered, voice soft and uncertain.

John turned to him and smiled, stepping up to him and raising his head to flutter a kiss to Sherlock's mouth. Sherlock increased the pressure between them. He knew how to kiss – even better, he knew how to kiss John.

John's fingers fumbled at the button on his collar, and Sherlock broke away so that John could concentrate on getting him out of his shirt. He didn't know what to do with his hands, but watching John's deft surgeon's fingers peeling away his layers had all his attention anyways.

Sherlock had always thought that the planes of his torso were all jutting angles and hard, flat expanses – unforgiving and untouchable. But John's eyes had been almost fully eclipsed by his pupils, dark and hungry as they devoured the expanse of Sherlock's body. Careful hands reached out to trace up his waist and over his chest. His nipples peaked as John traced them with a thumb. Sherlock shivered.

"Here, help me with this," John said, reaching down for the hem of his jumper.

Sherlock did, although his hands were much more fumbling and clumsy than John's. At last, he was able to get his hands on John's skin, his fingers skimming over as much of John as he could reach, cataloguing and exploring as he went. John had a soft layer of fat on his belly and sides, but underneath, the muscle was still powerful and solid. He had golden hair covering his chest, not as thick as he'd imagined, but not as sparse as Sherlock's.

"Come on," John grinned, and tipped him back onto the bed.

Sherlock hesitantly reached down for the button and zip of his trousers and unfastened them while John watched, kneeling above him on the bed. Sherlock started to shimmy out of them and John reached down to help, hooking his thumbs in the waistband of both trousers and pants and pulling them down as one.

Sherlock held his breath as John surveyed him completely uncovered for the first time. John had seen him in various states of undress before, usually after a case involving the exploration of unsavoury places. He'd never seen Sherlock stretched out on display, cock flushed, throbbing and jutting up invitingly.

"Beautiful," John said, reaching out to stroke a hand from Sherlock's knee to his ankle.

Sherlock trembled and then watched as John quickly divested himself of his jeans. Oh. John was quite large, quite a lot larger than average, at least according to data. Sherlock tried to imagine John's impressive length inside him and shuddered, unable to feel anything but extremely aroused at the idea.

John grinned, "So, you have rose petals somewhere?"

Sherlock blushed. "It was supposed to be romantic. I saw it in a magazine."

Before Sherlock could feel silly and ashamed at his lack of ability in the romance department, John found where he'd stashed the rose petals. Holding a handful over Sherlock's head, he let them flutter down over Sherlock's face. One landed on his nose.

John gazed at him with a burning light in his eyes. "What I wouldn't give for a camera right now. You're the most enticing picture I've ever seen."

John crawled up his body, skin glowing a velvet gold in the low light, lithe and predatory like a big jungle cat. Sherlock's skin tingled, the anticipation of contact making the hair all over his body stand on end. When John settled into him, hot and claiming, Sherlock moaned and grasped at whatever part of John he could reach.

John kissed him and ran his hands over Sherlock's body, pressing his mouth to Sherlock's collarbone, his neck, his chest. Sherlock felt something warm and wet fasten around his left nipple and apply suction. The jolt of arousal this caused sent arrows of heat speeding through his body. He was warm all over and writhing, trying to push his hips up into John's.

More hot, wet kisses on his abdomen, trailing down his stomach, over the crest of one hip. Sherlock dazedly looked down the length of his body, and John looked up and their eyes met. Sherlock panted and reached down to run the fingers of his hand through John's hair.

"John," he whispered.

John smiled, mouth curled up gleefully, and nuzzled his face into Sherlock's groin. Sherlock groaned and tipped his head back into his pillow, unable to look at such a provocative visual without drawing dangerously close to the breaking point. John's warm breath ghosted over the throbbing length of his erection, and a moment later, he was enveloped in hot, liquid pleasure.

John held his hips down and tormented him with long, slow sucks and little licks at his frenulum. Sherlock heard himself babbling at John, begging him for something. His knees spread further, pleadingly, and his toes curled.

John's nose nudged at his testicles, and god was John smelling him? Sherlock whimpered as John lapped at them, knees drawing up further. John shoved a pillow under his hips and before he could question why, John's hands were drawing his cheeks apart, exposing him, opening him up.

"John," Sherlock said, voice strangled and breathy.

"It's okay, Sherlock," John said, his voice low.

John's tongue delved into him, and he couldn't think. His stomach trembled with tension as he was claimed by warm, wet strokes. He could hear himself crying out, making little mewling whimpers as John licked into him. His hands were clenched in the sheets and his legs had found their way over John's shoulders.

He was so loud, but he couldn't hold the noises inside, and he was on the verge of screaming himself hoarse. His stupid pillow was underneath his hips.

Then, John desisted, and Sherlock came back to himself for a moment. He was drenched in sweat and panting in desperate lungfuls of air, voice ragged. John had stopped and had leaned over to grab the lube that Sherlock had helpfully left on his bedside table in prominent view.

He heard the snick of the cap and raised his head a little to watch as John coated his fingers liberally.

"Okay?" John asked, catching his eye.

"Yes," Sherlock replied, and even he was startled by how shattered he sounded.

John smiled and dipped his fingers down to circle at Sherlock's entrance, already slick and loose from John's mouth. His first finger slid inside easily, meeting no resistance at all. John worked it in and out a few times and Sherlock hummed. It was slightly less intense, but it felt intimate and a little strange. There was a little bit of a twinge as John managed two fingers, stretching him open.

Then, John's fingertips delved deeper, seeking out something within him. A moment later, he let out a ragged cry as they found what they were looking for. Something low down in his gut throbbed, something much deeper and more encompassing than the pleasure from earlier. It racked his whole body with uncontrollable shudders.

John's fingers hit that spot again, and he arched his back, trying to get his fingers deeper. He had the sudden urge to be filled up, to be stretched tight, to be so thoroughly invaded that he'd still feel it later.

"More," he begged.

"Hang on," John whispered.

John had three fingers in him, and he hadn't even noticed the addition. They were pulled out of him abruptly and he whined, shifting his hips, seeking their return.

"I want to be inside you," John said, and he sounded as desperate as Sherlock felt.

"Yes, please," Sherlock replied.

"Are you sure?"

"It's what I want. I promise."

John made a sound that sent a thrum through Sherlock's body. He got up on his elbows to watch John roll on a condom and slick up his cock, eyelids fluttering as he finally took some of the pleasure himself.

"Inside me, please. Right away," Sherlock said.

"You are so incredibly gorgeous," John replied, lifting Sherlock's legs over his hips and positioning himself.

"I'm yours," Sherlock said, more honestly than he'd ever meant anything.

John pressed the head of his cock against the slackened ring of Sherlock's entrance and pushed, rolling his hips up and inside. For a moment, Sherlock was worried he actually wouldn't fit, but something inside him gave, and John slid home.

It was slick and tight, and John was so deep inside him that Sherlock felt him in his very core. It was almost too intense, and Sherlock knew that if this was anyone else but John, it would be too much for him to handle. But it was John, John knew him, cared for him, wanted him. It was okay, because for all that Sherlock felt like he was being hollowed out, John was filling up the space inside him.

"Oh, god," John gasped, burying his face in Sherlock's shoulder. "God, you're glorious."

Sherlock panted and used his legs to pull John in closer. "Move."

John shuddered and drew out for a moment, before pushing back in, deeper than before. Sherlock made a sound and hung on, urging John on by grasping at his hips and clinging on desperately. John shifted, pulling Sherlock up and positioning him and tilting his pelvis up more. For a moment Sherlock didn't understand why, and then John's cock found the same place his fingers did.

Sherlock wailed as John found that spot over and over, driving up sparks behind his eyes. There was nothing but John all around him. He breathed John in, and John was in his lungs and in his head and his heart and so deeply embedded inside him that Sherlock thought John might be imprinted on his insides.
His hands were clawing at John's shoulders to find something to hang on to.

John's hand found his, and he twined their fingers together.

John was inside his innermost places, and it ached. He'd never felt more vulnerable and more protected at the same time.

It was coming, a tidal wave of feeling, of intense sensation. He clung to John and waited for it to wash over him, to batter him and pull him under. John was his anchoring point, and it would be okay.

"John," he gasped in warning.

"I know, it's okay," John said, tightening the hold on his hand. "I've got you."

And his mind was subsumed in a rush of white fire.


Sherlock came around to find himself curled around John's warm, solid form. John was deeply asleep, breathing even and steady. It was dark, and a glance at the nightstand revealed that it was almost 4 in the morning. John had cleaned them up and Sherlock had remained out cold until this point.

Sherlock hummed in contentment and snuggled closer to John.

The next time he woke, sunlight was streaming in through the window and John was still next to him, watching him fondly, head resting on his arm.

"Good morning," Sherlock said softly.

"Good morning," John said and leaned over to kiss the corner of his mouth. "Let me make us some breakfast, yeah?"

"Okay," Sherlock said. He wasn't that hungry because of dinner at Angelo's the night before, but sharing breakfast with John sounded very appealing.

John found one of Sherlock's robes and went off into the kitchen to make tea. Sherlock followed him more slowly, fascinated to feel a gentle ache from where John had claimed him last night. Sherlock was almost proud of it, to still be able to feel John's imprint on him.

Sherlock came into the kitchen hesitantly, sitting down and waited for John to come to him. John was making toast and eggs. The kettle boiled, and John made Sherlock a cup of tea while somehow managing to keep the rest of their breakfast from burning.

John brought his cup over to him, and Sherlock said, "I love you."

And John, miracle of miracles, smiled and replied, "I love you, too."