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Of Razors, Pipes, Red Notebooks and Rugby Jerseys, Or: Sherlock Doesn't Like His Doctors Clean Shaven

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Sherlock had always liked John a few days unshaven, a blonde grey layer of stubble accentuating his strong jaw, the cleft in his chin. The rake of it against Sherlock's face when they kissed was lovely, leaving a pinkish burn that other people could see.

John usually got irritated with it after a few days, complained that it itched, that it felt scrubby, whatever that meant. Then Sherlock would get to take immense satisfaction in shaving him with a straight razor, straddling his lap on the bed with a bowl of warm water on the nightstand and John's hands resting pleasantly on Sherlock's hips.

So it came as a surprise one chilly winter evening, snuggled cosily in the sitting room watching a Doctor Who marathon, when John mentioned he was thinking of growing a beard.

"What?" Sherlock was laying with his head in John's lap, John's fingers scratching pleasantly at his scalp. He could have given a toss about Doctor Who, as John well knew, but his head on John’s thighs, feeling each infinitesimal movement of John’s muscles, hearing his blood rushing through his aorta, his lungs expanding right next to Sherlock’s ear...it was worth a thousand episodes of idiotic science fiction shows in order to have these uninterrupted hours of John.

"Yeah, I dunno. Never had one. Thought I might give it a go." John stretched his legs out and yawned. The hand that wasn't in Sherlock's hair fell to his waist and squeezed. "You don't approve?"

Sherlock thought about it, what John would look like, and feel like, with a beard. How found, to his utter consternation, that he couldn't. "I don't know yet. Need data."

"Well I guess I'll just have to grow one, then. God forbid I deprive you of data." John's hand crawled down over Sherlock's hip, and he flipped the telly off without warning. "Come to bed, genius. I think I need some help getting out of these clothes."

John shot him a wicked look that made him laugh out loud and yank John off the couch and down the hallway. They kissed and groped their way into the bedroom, and fell into bed with a thud that had Mrs Hudson pounding on her ceiling with a broom handle and shouting, "Boys! Honestly! Go in John's room if you're going to behave like that!"

***

"You're staring at me." John didn't take his eyes off his newspaper. He lifted his mug to his lips and took a sip of coffee, set it back down on the table and very much did not look at Sherlock.

"I'm thinking." Sherlock said petulantly. Purposefully petulantly.

"You're thinking. And you're staring at me. It's annoying, Sherlock." He ruffled his paper, pinched his lips to the side in that endearingly John way.

Sherlock waved away John's irritation with a flip of his hand. "So what. I'm collecting data. All you have to do is sit there. I'm the one thinking."

"I can't read when you're --" John took a deep breath in through his nose and exhaled the same way. He folded his paper and turned to Sherlock with a furrowed brow. "Is this about the beard again?"

"Perhaps." Sherlock said offhandedly.

John had been growing it for about two weeks. It was raggedy and scratchy. He fussed with it all the time, rubbing his hand over his face and digging at his cheeks. He seemed determined to keep it, though, and never complained about it itching, even though Sherlock could see it was driving him mental.

"Look, Sherlock, if you really can't stand it, I'll shave the damned thing off. But I really can't stand you bunging about the flat staring at me constantly. It's bloody creepy, actually."

"It's a different colour."

"What?"

"The beard. It's a different colour than your hair. Your hair is blonde. Your stubble is blonde and grey, but when it gets longer, it's ginger." Sherlock sounded distinctly accusatory.

"You realise I don't actually have control over what colour my hair is." John turned and looked at Sherlock, trying to look irritated but coming off rather more affectionately exasperated than anything else.

Obviously. It’s actually quite common for men with brown hair to grow ginger beards. Carriers for the recessive gene on Chromosome 4. But you don’t have brown hair.”  Sherlock’s eyes narrowed and he bounced up into his Thinking Position in his chair, crouched with his elbows on his knees and his fingers tented under his nose.

“This is bothering you.” John’s mouth ticked up. He walked into the sitting room and put his hands on the back of his chair. “You’ve been thinking about this constantly, haven’t you?”

“It’s not bothering me. It’s fascinating.”  Sherlock ruffled his hands through his own hair and bit his lip in a way he knew made John a bit squirmy. “Everything about you is fascinating, John. I don’t know how you manage it.”

John licked his lower lip into his mouth, the rather sparse hairs right underneath standing out as his skin stretched. He smiled fondly. “Oh. So it's not bothering you at all. I see. I think I'm catching on. Well, I’m glad you think I'm fascinating. Most people think I’m short and plain and a bit dull.”

“Most people are idiots, John.”

John huffed a laugh through his nose and crossed over to Sherlock’s chair. He tilted his chin up with two fingers and gave him a not unpleasantly rough kiss. “You are utterly ludicrous, and I love you. Stare at me all you want, gorgeous.”

Sherlock pulled John back down as he started to straighten up, kissed him again with a bit more heat, and rubbed his lips against the wiry curls round his mouth. John planted two firm hands on Sherlock’s knees and moved back. He flipped Sherlock’s fringe back from his forehead and put a kiss there, too.

“Alright. I have to go to work.” John swept his coat from the back of the desk chair and tucked his phone in his back pocket. “Clean the flat while I’m gone?”

“Ha. Very funny, John.”

“It was worth a shot.” John rolled his eyes, with the patience of a long suffering spouse. “I’ll see you tonight.”

***

“It’s getting much thicker now.” Sherlock ran his fingertips though the ginger curls on John’s cheek. “It’s softer this way.”

“Mmm.” John grunted, rolled to his side. “Sherlock, it’s 5:00 in the morning. Be a good boy and shut up.”

Sherlock bent down into the heat their bodies had created under the blankets, and nosed John’s thin tee shirt up. Ran his lips over John’s lumbar vertabrae and hummed. John squirmed and swatted at his head. He hooked his fingers over the elastic of John’s pants and pulled them down enough he could get at the fleshy top of John’s arse. Opened his mouth and licked. John tasted like musk, sweat, a bit like the curry they’d had for dinner last night. He hadn’t showered before bed, exhausted after a full day at the surgery, then meeting Sherlock at a crime scene and spending all evening on a case.

They’d scarfed down takeaway at midnight, and John had immediately passed out across the bed, not even bothering to take his jeans off. Sherlock had pulled them off of him when he finally slipped into bed around three, hating any layers of clothing coming between them when they slept. He'd tried to take John's tee shirt off too, but John had fussed and mumbled curses at him and crossed his arms over his chest. Sherlock relished the feeling of John’s hot skin on his; John’s internal body temperature was always approximately two degrees hotter than Sherlock’s. He’d spooned up behind him, running his fingers over John’s hamstrings, his iliac crest, the curve of his neck, and then kipped for about an hour before waking up to John spread eagle and open mouthed, looking downright edible.

It was about six weeks into John’s beard experiment. The gaps and sparse patches had been filled in, and it was much darker than at the start. A deep auburn red in the thickest places, thinning to gingery light brown on John’s cheekbones and Adam’s apple. John washed it with his shampoo, which smelled of Irish moss and heather, and the thicker beard hairs held the scent longer and more strongly than the hair on his head. Sherlock liked rubbing the tip of his nose in it and breathing deep, which elicited one of three reactions from John. 1. If John was blogging, reading, or trying to sleep, he would push Sherlock’s head away in mild irritation. 2. If he was in a foul mood, or if Sherlock didn't stop the first time he asked, he would threaten to shave it off if Sherlock didn’t stop sniffing at him like a stray dog. 3. If he was in a good mood, he would turn his head and slip his tongue into Sherlock’s mouth, push him backwards on the sofa, and snog him breathless, letting Sherlock run his tongue all over the beard and laughing, You’re insatiable, you lunatic.

He licked at John’s bum again, received a disgruntled growl and a smack to the ear.

“Cut it out, Sherlock. I’m not up for it right now. I’ve had barely five hours of sleep, and it’s Saturday. I want to sleep in a bit. Leave off.” John flipped on his stomach, doubtless trying to restrict access to all the parts Sherlock wanted to get at most, and gathered his pillow to his face.

Something so delectable about John grumpy and sleep-drunk. Sherlock wriggled up beside him and tossed a leg over the backs of John's thighs, snaked a hand into the back of his shirt. "John. Mmmm. Please. You don't have to be completely awake, you know..."

"Yes, I sodding well do, Sherlock." John tried to move away, and Sherlock wrapped a foot around his calf, wound his arm around his waist. "Christ, you're a fucking octopus."

"Turn over." Sherlock whined, wanting so badly that beard between his hands, the tiny curls twisting over his fingers. He wanted to rub his face against it, feeling it tickling on his belly, rough between his legs. Oh god. That, yes, that. He loved that. He hitched his hips into John's thigh, rubbed in a little circle. "John..."

"Sherlock, I am seriously, truly, not in the mood. Stop it." John grumbled, pushed back with his bum and elbowed Sherlock in the ribs. "I'm going back to sleep now. If you'd like us to ever have sex again, I suggest you let me."

"Fine." Sherlock threw himself flat on his back, purposefully bouncing the mattress and twisting the blankets half off of John.

"Sulky brat." John mumbled, unable to hide the grin on his voice.

"Boring old man." Sherlock groused, without any real rancour, and flounced off the bed as John yanked the covers back over himself. "I'm getting up."

John didn't reply; he'd already fallen back asleep. Sherlock ambled into the kitchen, trying to ignore the tent in his pyjama bottoms, and put on a pot of coffee, unable to think about anything but the sweet scrape of that beard on the tender inside of his thighs.

***

John with the beard became almost a different person in Sherlock's mind than John without the beard. It seemed to Sherlock that he was more clever, funnier, handsomer certainly...but it was more than that. Some of that persistent simmering anger dissipated, he clenched his fists less often, sighed rather than shouted about Sherlock’s experiments taking over the kitchen. He seemed more relaxed, he laughed more often, Sherlock was sure of it.

Sherlock began recording how many times a day John laughed, the approximate decibel and duration, and what had made him laugh. He regretted he had no control study, that he'd not recorded John's laughter frequency before the The Beard, but it couldn't be helped. Instead he discovered through an extensive Google search and sifting through scads of uni research papers, that most middle aged men laughed 4 to 8 times per day. John laughed 12 - 15 times a day now.

"What the hell are you writing in that notebook all the time?" John laid his fork down next to his plate. The skin between his eyebrows wrinkled and he poked at the back of the little red notebook Sherlock had been carrying around for several weeks. “We’re out for a date, Sherlock. The first proper one we’ve had in weeks. I know it’s impossible for you to turn it off completely, love, but couldn’t you just…”

"If you must know, I'm cataloguing your laughter." Sherlock was going for haughty, but it definitely came out as awkward and slightly embarrassed instead.

"Sorry? You're what?" John stroked his hand over his chin, another new and appealing habit associated with The Beard. He looked rather like a uni professor thinking over a particularly vexing philosophical query. Sherlock wanted to put him in thick rimmed glasses and an elbow patch jumper. Make him smoke a pipe. Maybe John would let him. He did fancy some role playing now and again. There was that time with the crinolines...and of course John’s old army fatigues were a favourite...

Sherlock realised his face was turning pink. He cleared his throat, and sipped at his wine. "I'm recording how many times you laugh in a day. The reason, duration, and decibel level."

John's tongue darted out and he pulled on his lower lip with his teeth, his eyes dancing with amusement. "I'm not even going to bother asking why."

"Good." Sherlock finished making his notation, primly closed the notebook and slipped it back in his jacket pocket. He sipped his wine again and nodded at John's half eaten pasta. "Aren’t you going to finish eating?”

"What's the rush?"

The rush, you absolutely devastatingly handsome sod, is that I need you to shag me blind and rub that ridiculously sexy beard all over my entire epidermis until I'm as pink as a grapefruit and shaking like a leaf. I needed it four hours ago, and you're being as thick as a brick wall right now and I'm going to have to have a wank under this tablecloth if you don't pin me to a bed in the next thirty minutes.

"No rush. Just didn't want your dinner to get cold." Sherlock sat back as if he didn’t care at all, and feigned a yawn.

"Uh huh." John said flatly. He shook his head a little and rolled his eyes, but he picked up his fork and speared a piece of gnocchi. "What was I talking about?"

"Joining a rugby league." Sherlock suppressed a shudder at the thought. John, ginger beard sweaty and shining, speckled with droplets of mud, the fall of a rugby jersey from his absolutely perfect shoulder blades, thick rugby socks round his muscular calves, a crooked victorious smile on his face and a muddy ball tucked in his elbow, strutting toward Sherlock across a sodden rugby pitch. It was downright pornographic.

“Oh, right. Yeah, so, anyway, I dunno. I sort of miss rugby, and a few of the lads at the surgery are really after me about it. Practice starts next weekend.”

“Would there be matches?” Sherlock looked down at his own barely eaten dinner and tried not to look too interested.

“Well, of course, Sherlock, that’s sort of the point. You don’t go to practice three nights a week for no reason.” John said through a mouthful of gnocchi.

“Would I have to attend them?” The huff of indignation he was going for didn’t quite happen. It sounded more like a longing sigh. Damn.

“Not if you don’t want to.”

“I don’t not want to. I mean, I assume you’d want me there to support you, or something.”

John smirked at him. “Can I pick you up and spin you around when we win a big tourney? Run across the pitch and snog the fuck out of you in front of everyone?”

“Shut up. No.”

“You fancy that idea a lot more than you’d like me to think, genius.” John wiped his mouth with his napkin, scrubbing at the moustache and beard a bit. “Some long repressed fantasies involving rugby socks and locker rooms?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and didn’t answer, though that was, in fact, exactly the image that capturing all this attention at the moment. John half undressed, sweaty and unshowered, pressing Sherlock face first up against some ratty old locker, the beard dragging harsh against his neck.

John laughed out loud, his eyes glittering deep ocean blue in the candlelight, his teeth glowing white against the ruddy beard. “You are so transparent, love. Well, that seals it. If joining a rugby league is going to get me shagged while you’re wearing my jersey, I’m in.”

John shook his head when Sherlock slipped the red notebook quietly out of his pocket to record that last bout of laughter, and slid his chair back. “I’m just going to pop to the loo while you’re paying the check, and then we can head home.” He bent over the back of Sherlock’s chair as he rounded the table, the beard prickly on Sherlock’s ear, “My rugby socks from uni are in the bedroom closet. Just...you know...if you were interested sometime.”

Those words were so unexpected, John’s voice so rumbling and deep, so inviting, there was no time to quell the shiver that coursed through him. John laughed low and nipped his earlobe, straightened up and sauntered off to the loo, that perfect arse wiggling just enough that Sherlock knew it was purposeful.

Professor role-playing. With a pipe. As soon as possible.

***

"Sherlock, I can't...that's so. Silly. I can't. I can't imagine myself doing that." John scratched at The Beard with the fingers of his left hand, his dominant hand. Sherlock had observed he scratched it with his non-dominant right hand approximately 77% of the time. He scratched with his left when he was uncomfortable or nervous, as he was now.

"Why ever not? I've dressed up as all sorts of things for you. I have a cat costume, for goodness sake, John." Sherlock cocked a eyebrow at him. "Do you think I didn't feel absurd kneeling at your feet with a bloody tail coming out of my..."

John reddened and held up his hands in defeat. "Yeah, yeah, alright. I get it. I get it. Fine. But can we skip the pipe at least? You know how I feel about smoking."

"No. I want the pipe. Olfactory input is key in sexual encounters, and most especially for me because of my hypersensitivity, and I. Want. The. Pipe." Sherlock breathed deeper just thinking about it. The rich, vanilla smell of pipe tobacco, cherry wood and apple, the smell of English forests in the autumn, moss and dry leaves. "It's important."

"Fine." John huffed and pinched his lips together. Sherlock watched, rapt, as the hairs around his mouth moved. John retracted his jaw and blinked at Sherlock, furrowed his brow. "This beard really does it for you, yeah?"

"Yeah. It really...Does it for me." Sherlock licked his lips, looked up at John from under his lashes.

"Jesus, Mr Seductive. If I'd known this was all it took, I would have grown a beard the second I moved in. Would have saved us years of bullshit. You would have attacked me in the fucking stairwell after Angelo’s that first night." John laughed, but it was tinged with regret, sadness.

Sherlock hated -- loathed -- for John to feel sad. He felt it was his personal responsibility to keep John happy, particularly because he was virtually certain it was entirely his fault that they'd spent so many years misunderstanding each other.

He leaned over and nipped at John's lower lip, eliciting from him a quiet little hum. John's right arm fell across Sherlock's shoulders and he leaned into the kiss, flicking at Sherlock's mouth with a tongue that tasted like the black tea and scones with fig jam he'd had after dinner.

Sherlock kissed his way down John's jaw, nuzzling gently into what was now very soft, though still coarse, slightly curled hair. He burrowed close, pulling his knees up to his chest and leaning against John's side.

"Get your laptop." He murmured into John's neck, tracing circles with his tongue in the scraggly hairs there.

"That's not the most seductive thing I've ever heard you say. But, I guess it's not the worst come-on, either. Better than something about corpses." John twisted his fingers up into Sherlock's hair, kneading the back of his head rhythmically.

"I'm not trying to be seductive, John. Get your laptop." Sherlock couldn't help pushing his head back into John's touch. He very nearly growled contentedly, a welcome warmth spreading all through his head and neck. His scalp was one of his most sensitive spots, of which John was well aware.

"I thought we were...mmm...heading somewhere." John's other hand was wandering up the inside of Sherlock's thigh, his voice honey sweet and husky.

"We will be. Later. Let's pick out your professor's jacket. I was thinking corduroy. Red. You look good in red." Sherlock draped himself over John’s knees to retrieve the laptop from the floor, and John’s hand was immediately snaking under his shirt, crawling fingertips up his spine. A tingle radiated through his nerve endings wherever John’s fingers touched his bare skin, and he couldn’t hide the shiver.

“Mmm. I do like red.” John leaned over and brushed his lips against Sherlock’s nape, tipped his chin forward and dragged the beard rough across Sherlock’s skin. Sherlock arched his head back, couldn’t stop his hips from inching forward into the side of John’s thigh. “Well then. That’s certainly a yes. Come on, gorgeous. Fuck the jacket, we’ll go shopping tomorrow. Come to bed.”

"Mmmm." Sherlock wriggled a bit, knowing he was already lost. John could turn him down, not be in the mood, but Sherlock always wanted John. Every second. There was no turning him down. Still, he could tease a bit. "I don't know. I'm rather tired, honestly."

John laughed into his neck, his breath catching moist and hot in the collar of Sherlock's shirt, then sat up and ran a hand from Sherlock's shoulder to his arse, and gave him an affectionate swat there. "Cocktease."

"I have no idea what you're talking -- oh --"

John rucked up Sherlock's shirt and pressed kisses along his spine, worked one hand between his thighs and brushed his thumb lightly in circles, said fondly, "You bloody gorgeous bastard. You make me crazy.”

"You're the cocktease in this house. That beard, and that completely devastating arse, and you're more than capable of ignoring me. To go to sleep, of all things. Those blue striped pyjama bottoms that hang around your hips are absolutely criminal. Then you just sit down and start reading. It's abhorrent."

"Mmmm. I knew you liked those. Have to remember that the next time you're busy fussing with mould spores or something." John's lips played over his left shoulder blade, moving his nose in circles, brushing the bristles on his upper lip up along Sherlock's hair line.

"You're a berk." But his voice was thick and drowsy, contented like a well-pet cat. John did like it sometimes when he purred. He let out a soft little rumble and John nipped at his shoulder.

"Brat. You know, I rather like you over my lap like this. Should make a habit of it." He slapped Sherlock's bum again lightly, smoothed his palm over the curve down to where his thigh began, and slid his hand between his legs again. "Your arse is fucking masterpiece."

Sherlock bent his back, wanting more of those bristly warm kisses. He rather liked himself over John's lap this way, too. He shifted slightly, laid his cheek against his forearms over the arm of the sofa and stretched his legs out so his feet hooked over the other arm. John pushed his shirt up further and kissed gently between his shoulder blades. Sherlock's spine buzzed with electricity.

"John...mmmm...more."

"More what, baby?" John darted his tongue out and swept his face back and forth, squeezed the inside of Sherlock's thigh.

Sherlock moaned quietly, curled his shoulders up into the rough sweep of John's beard against his skin. It was both arousing and soothing, his body divided on how to react. Something so deeply comforting and steadying about that beard, about the man sporting it, something that said home, and safe, and I've got you.

"More kisses. More that, whatever you're doing, that." Blood spread warm and slow through his veins, like melting honey, like caramel. He felt himself sinking into John's thighs, into the couch cushions, his legs going loose and and heavy.

"I would love to, but my neck isn't supposed to bend at his angle, I don't think. I need to just..." John trailed his hand over the back of Sherlock’s leg, tracing each tendon, swirling his fingertips in the hollow behind his knee, laughing low when it made Sherlock jump and curl his leg up. He squeezed Sherlock’s calf, massaging it gently. “Come to bed, love. I’ll give you lots more. Of whatever you want.”

Sherlock must have had more wine at dinner than he’d thought. He was feeling pleasantly drowsy, the kind of sleepy contentedness that was an unfamiliar state for him. John often said Sherlock had two speeds, full throttle and dead stop, with nothing in between. Now he felt perfectly in between; every touch, every rumble of John’s voice a hypnotic drum beat thumping through him, holding him in this place.

He pushed himself back off of John’s lap with effort, dragged his cheek across John’s and found his mouth. John tipped his face up and caught Sherlock’s bottom lip in between both of his, took his face between his hands, thumbs passing over his cheekbones. Sherlock was very warm, the room was very warm. He was finding it absurdly difficult to open his eyes, as John suckled sweetly on his lip, and slid his hands down to Sherlock’s waist. His fingers dipped into curves and rises, over the bumps of Sherlock’s ribs, the nubs of his vertabrae, slipped gently up and over his chest, and then dropped soft touches over his shoulder blades before John’s settled his arms securely around him and pulled him close.

They kissed softly for a few moments more, John’s arms wound around Sherlock’s waist, Sherlock stroking his fingers over John’s hair, down the beard, over well-trimmed cheeks and more raggedy hairs on his neck, finding the cleft of his chin with his thumb. John pulled back, leaving a trail of tender kisses across Sherlock’s cheek. He smiled with his eyes, with the whole face, in that way that only John could, like a light radiating out into a dark room. He gently pushed Sherlock off his lap and stood up with him, silently pulling him by the hand down the darkened hallway into their room. He closed the door and turned round.

John’s hands slid down Sherlock’s arms, unbuttoned his cuffs, unbuttoned his shirt, pushed it off his shoulders with flat dry palms grazing over Sherlock’s skin. “So lovely,” he murmured, bent his head to Sherlock's bare chest and nuzzled his face in a slow circle, the scratch of his beard pulling a quiet whimper from Sherlock. He felt John's smile against his chest.

"I don't know what it is about this beard, but I am never shaving it off."

"Don't."

"You love it." John's voice was full of pleased incredulity. "You're crazy about it."

"I'm crazy about you. And it makes you even more you." Sherlock knew that made no sense to John, but it had just clicked in his drowsy mind. That's what it was about the beard. It amplified John. Made all of his natural flirtatiousness, slight goofiness, that easy self assured masculinity he possessed in spades...took those and made them more. He didn't know how or why, but it did.

"Hmm." John furrowed his brow, but he was grinning. He began undoing Sherlock's trousers, unbuckling his belt and rubbing his hands over his hips as he let them fall to the floor. "Okay, love. I'm not really following you, but I guess more John is a good thing?"

"Of course."

John smiled crookedly, sloe eyed and bashful. "You're drunk. That's what this is. An overload of sentiment from too much wine."

"No." Sherlock smoothed his hands over John's chest, lingering over his scar, bumpy under his shirt. "Well, maybe a bit, yes. But…” He sighed, uncharacteristically fumbling for words, “I just don’t tell you enough, how gorgeous I think you are. How much I want you, all the time.”

“Believe me, love, it’s pretty obvious.” John chuckled and slid his hands under the waist of Sherlock’s pants, grasped his arse and yanked his hips forward to press against his own. “It’s okay you don’t say it much. I know. Now get your tipsy, beautiful self on that bed and lay down.”

Sherlock sank back on the bed as John flipped the bedside light on and knelt beside him. “I need to see you.”

“You always do.” Sherlock grinned and lay back propped on his elbows, watching John pull his shirt over his head and toss it across the room. He reached out and traced the edge of John’s jeans at his belly. “We never fuck in the dark.”

John’s eyes widened in mock surprise as he dropped his jeans with a thump and pushed his pants off. “Sherlock Holmes. Language.”

Sherlock blinked innocently as John descended on him, rubbing his face into his neck and pushing him flat on the his back. “Turn over, you gorgeous creature. You want this beard all over you, you’re going to get just that.”

Sherlock obediently flipped himself, pushing pillows out of the way and flattening his hands against the headboard. He felt the weight shifting on the bed, John’s knees on either side of his thigh, and then John’s calloused hands rubbing up his back and down over his arse, his legs. He heard John suck in a deep breath as he scooped forward, the hard length of him pressing into Sherlock’s lower back, and then his lips were pulling at Sherlock’s earlobe gently but insistently.

He worked his way down Sherlock’s neck, swiveling his chin in gentle circles, the roughness of the beard scraping just lightly over Sherlock’s skin. Sherlock stretched and rumbled a low purr, arched his hips up just enough. John gasped as Sherlock’s arse pressed his cock into his belly, raked his teeth tenderly over Sherlock’s shoulder. With teeth and lips and beard, he scratched and licked and kissed every centimeter of Sherlock’s back. Sherlock tried to open his eyes, tried to make a noise, but he was weak with the pleasure of it. It was far beyond arousal, it was bone deep comfort, pleasure seeping into his pores, through his neurons.

It was John. John infiltrating his entire consciousness, surrounding and holding him. John always had him. John was his soft safe place to fall. The only person who's ever wanted him for him, not for what he could do, not for the brain, but loved him brokenly and imperfectly human. Sherlock could never have let go like this before John, could never have let anyone see him begging for touch, moaning in pleasure, lost in the transport.

“Hey.” John’s voice was gruff, his mouth moving lazily against Sherlock’s lower back, dipping into the top of the crease of his arse occasionally. “You okay? You’re awfully quiet.”

“Mmph.” Sherlock managed, dragging one eye open to look down at John. “Donstopmkay.”

“Well, I was going to…” John’s tongue slid slow and wet down his arse, his hands spreading Sherlock’s thighs. He nudged his face into the heat between Sherlock’s legs, nipped with gentle teeth at the indentation where arse met thigh. The beard felt rougher here, on tender skin, which John seemed to instinctively know, and gentled his ministrations. “If you want me to.”

“Yeahpleesdonstop.” Everything so relaxed, his tongue didn’t even work right.

John’s certainly did. At Sherlock’s assent, he pulled Sherlock’s hips up off the bed and shoved a pillow underneath them, ran his hands gently over the backs of his thighs and pushed his knees forward, spreading him open enough to -- oh. A flick of wet, tensed tongue against that sensitive furl of skin, a quick poke inward, then a long languorous pass from perineum to sacrum, John vibrating his lips against Sherlock's skin.

Sherlock arched forward, pressed his hands hard into the headboard, his wrists bending back. He twisted and whined, trying to push back, but John's hands were strong and firm against his hips, and held him still. John's tongue pushed into him again, deeper this time, tongue squirming and exploring, and John shook his face back and forth rapidly, scrubbing that beard against him just this side of too rough. It was exquisite. The warm soft wetness of John's mouth and the coarseness of his beard juxtaposed at the most sensitive place on Sherlock's body. It was exactly what Sherlock wanted, and John knew it. John always knew.

John moved rhythmically; swirling his tongue deep inside him, sucking gently, then nuzzling his face and laving over him with a flat tongue. Over and over, until Sherlock was shaking, muscles trembling, every tendon loose and failing. He was keening, could hear himself vaguely far away and tympanic, a thudding whine resonating through his inner ear and flooding his brain with noise. His own pleasure reverberating through him with every lap of John's tongue. The room was buzzing. His knees were going to give out. John felt it, licked quickly over him just once more, and then pulled back, rubbing his now saliva soaked beard over both Sherlock's arse cheeks and kissing him.

"Good, baby?" The cocky smirk in his voice was unmistakable.

"Uuuuh." Was all Sherlock could get out, as he fell bonelessly prostrate to the bed, his now aching cock unintentionally rutting against the pillow underneath him, and he quaked once, hard, a viscous heat spreading through his lower belly.

"I like when I can reduce you to vowel sounds." John slid up and laid beside Sherlock, brushed the back of his hand over his cheek. "Can you move?"

Sherlock made an effort to shake his head, but a feeble twitch of his chin was all that happened.

John smiled, his cheeks flushed above his beard, glistening wet with saliva, lewd and gorgeous. He was the picture of debauchery, indigo eyes shining with lust, smelling like musk and sex. "You lazy sod," he murmured fondly.

Sherlock's eyes fell closed again. He heard the thunk of the bedside drawer being opened, the quiet snick of the lube bottle being opened. Then John's scorching lips were against his shoulder, his fingers prodding at his side. "How about you roll over, gorgeous?"

Sherlock rolled, his arms drifting above his head, knees falling open. John’s hand stroked up the inside of his thigh, and barely over his flushed cock, laying straining against his belly. Just the heat from John’s hand made him tremble anew, and he curled his fingers around the headboard, moaning and arching his hips entreatingly. John fell over him, breath hot and fast in Sherlock’s ear, beard rubbing shiveringly along his neck.

“I love you,” John said in a hush, mouthing whisperingly light at the hinge of Sherlock’s jaw.

Sherlock couldn’t find the words to reply; just turned his head and smeared his mouth against John’s, tongues sliding against each other, tasting himself on John’s lips. John rolled his hips just a little, and it was just enough friction to curve Sherlock's spine up off the bed like he'd been electrocuted, shoulders shaking as his hands slapped down onto John’s back with a crack, and John’s back arched concave, pushing their groins together even closer. Sherlock didn’t even feel John reaching down between their entwined bodies, but then he was there, pushing a slicked finger into him and groaning God you feel so good, baby, so good, rolling his hips relentlessly.

Sherlock clawed, trying to anchor himself, trying to find something to hold on to, his head spun so wide open with pleasure that it was like flying, like falling. He found the nape of John’s neck, dug his fingers in, feeling the thick muscles undulating under his hands, and he held on. John found one of his hands and pulled it away from his neck, pinned it above his head and interlaced their fingers. “I’ve got you, love. I’ve got you.

“I know, I know you do.” Sherlock whispered, overcome as he sometimes got. The connection between them so profound, so visceral, Sherlock felt it as a physical presence. He could taste it, see it. It had colours. John’s love was midnight blue. Pumpkin orange. Moss green. It smelled like tea and copper and wood smoke.

“You okay?” John’s voice so tender it was painful, so full of love it was incomprehensible. He slipped his fingers out and rubbed his hand up and down Sherlock’s side. “You need a minute?”

“No. I’m just…” Sherlock curled his fingers into the beard, stroking it, the feeling of those coarse thick curls somehow grounding. “No. Please. Now. Please.”

John tipped forward, peppered Sherlock’s neck with kisses, flexed his fingers and tightened his hold on Sherlock’s hand. He reached down and nudged Sherlock’s thigh to the side. “Okay, love. I just need you to -- that’s it. Oh fuck, fuck, you’re so -- oh my god.

John hitched Sherlock’s leg over his back, the head of his cock pushing urgently at the resistance of that tight ring of muscle, suddenly slipping past it abruptly, seating him fully very quickly. They both gasped. Sherlock’s back went curved like a bowstring, John’s hand clutching at his waist, the other grasping his hand so hard he could feel his bones shifting.

“Baby, I’m not gonna...I can’t…” John’s head fell forward heavy against Sherlock’s collarbone, kissing messily at his chest. His hips shuddered forward, his cock rubbing just at the spot that sent Sherlock’s nerve endings sparking white and silver, liquid metal coursing hot and thick through him, and he knew he wouldn’t last long either.

“It’s okay, John, it’s fine,” Sherlock threaded the fingers that had been on John’s neck up through his hair, and cradled his head against his chest. “I can’t either...I’m so…”

“Oh fuck, you’re close. I can feel you -- that’s gorgeous, you’re gorgeous. I love you,” John buried his face in Sherlock’s neck, rocked, thrust harder; then he was trembling and panting, breath rapid and shallow.

Sherlock’s cock was slick between their lube and sweat soaked bellies. John looked down, watching the flushed swell of it pressing against him every time he thrust forward. “Oh, god, Sherlock, you're so - so beautiful - look at you. I want to watch you come. Just let it go.”

He rubbed his face against Sherlock’s chest, darted his tongue out to lick at one hard nipple. Sherlock arched, lifting his hips into John's. John shook his face against Sherlock's chest, scraped his teeth lightly over his nipple and sucked. That was all it took to push Sherlock over the precipice. It was ice and flames, coursing through his veins and over his quivering skin, in silver and glittering black, and he was crying out John’s name as his cock twitched and pulsed, spilling hot over his own stomach. John's head was tilted down, watching Sherlock’s release, having stilled his hips. He hovered, arms shaking, until Sherlock was wrung out and collapsed, whimpering, to the bed.

Only then did John drag his mouth up Sherlock’s throat and capture his lips again, kissing him so gently and sweetly that tears bloomed at the edges of Sherlock’s vision. John’s noises were throaty and hoarse now, the thrust of his hips becoming uncoordinated. Sherlock could feel John’s thigh muscles stiffening against him, his cock swelling inside him. Sherlock took hold of John’s other hand, threaded their fingers together and raised it above his head alongside their other entwined hands. John grunted roughly and pinned both Sherlock’s hands, pushing them into the bed. He pushed forward with a guttural groan, his head flew up, neck arching, every tendon standing out. Sherlock watched as his long blonde lashes fluttered, his mouth fell open and he caught his bottom lip in his teeth.

"Oh, god, I --" John grimaced, his fingers digging painfully into Sherlock's hands.

"Yes, John, come now. Oh god, please, you're so --" Sherlock wrapped his legs tight around John's hips, enraptured by the changing expressions on John's face as he got closer. He crossed his ankles against the small of John's back and rolled to meet John's rhythm. He was still half hard, John so perfectly full and thick inside him, hitting his prostate with every thrust. Electricity swarmed over him, his entire body alight and fizzing with arousal.  "You're so beautiful -- oh, John, there, yes, there, oh god..."

He would have come again if he was capable, tremors coursing down every nerve ending as the first warm surge of come flooded into him. John shuddered and whined, hips twitching. He breathed out raggedly, and let go of Sherlock’s hands, sinking down on him with all his weight. Sherlock’s arms automatically circled his back, rubbing over his shoulders and up into his hair as they panted and trembled against each other. John pulsed twice more, hips jerking reflexively. He lay heaving against Sherlock, nuzzling his face under Sherlock's jaw and purring sleepily for many minutes. He curled one leg up and shifted almost as if he actually planned to fall asleep while still inside Sherlock, who couldn't have been less bothered by that idea. Sherlock pressed his fingers into the scruff on John's neck, right over his pulse, feeling as it slowed from a gallop to a steady thump thump. 

Finally John rolled onto his back and pulled Sherlock over to rest against his side. His fingertips traced patterns drowsily over Sherlock’s back, turned his head every few minutes to kiss Sherlock’s sweaty hair. Sherlock loved this part, the after, their limbs sticky and tangled, heavy with blood flowing back into them, their heads blissfully clear for a little while. Eventually John stumbled into the bathroom and came back with a washed face and a wet towel, wiped Sherlock off, and pulled his pants back on. He climbed back into bed and spooned up behind Sherlock, gathering him to his chest, and rubbed his face into his shoulders.

“I love you.”

“I love you too, John.” Sherlock wriggled backward, made himself as small as possible, and tucked his feet in between John’s ankles.

John hummed and pulled Sherlock closer, moulding himself against Sherlock’s back and pressing a flat hand against his bare stomach. “ I still can’t get over how much you like this beard. I guess I’m never allowed to shave it.”

“We’ve already discussed this, John. No. Never.” Sherlock played with John’s hand, massaging the knuckles, tracing the lines in his palm.

John made a disgruntled noise. “I’ll shave it in the summer when it gets hot.”

“I’ll hide all your razors.” Sherlock raised John’s wrist to his mouth and nipped at the delicate veins.

“Git.”

"I'll sprinkle your shaving soap with slow growing fungus."

"Bloody sadist, you are."

"You love me."

"I do. I do more than anything." John leaned up and pulled Sherlock's head round for a deep kiss, and then drifted softer kisses over his jaw and neck as he laid back down, "Goodnight, you ridiculous beautiful thing."

Sherlock sighed and settled, his body calm, his mind at peace. He drifted to sleep in John's arms, dreaming of pipe tobacco and corduroy jackets.