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For His Own Good

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*****

 

He opens his eyes slowly. At first all he knows is pain and confusion. There is no awareness of who he is, where he is, what day it is, whether it is morning or night. There is only the hazy awareness of his body, the dull throb of pain. Everything else is either unimportant or unreachable, lost on a distant shore in the back of his mind, hidden by the fog of drugs. He tries to lick his lips. Dry. So dry. The only sound he can make is a soft, pain-filled groan.

A chair scrapes against the floor and John tries to turn his head toward the sound, but the pain in his skull blanks everything out in a flare of white.

This time he whimpers.

A moment later, someone is there speaking softly to him. He’s given an ice chip to suck on, there are reassurances of relief as the woman clicks on the morphine drip that John cannot yet manage himself. Another person arrives, pulling his eyelids back to check his pupils, asking him what his name is. It takes him a moment of concentration, but he knows the answer. He just can’t quite get the muscles in his mouth and his mind to coordinate long enough to say it. There’s a reassuring pat to his hand, the assurance that it will be better next time.

The medication floods through his system, bringing relief and haziness to both his mind and body.

 

*****

 

The next time is a little better. The room is dark, but he has no idea if it’s night or if the blinds have been closed. Someone is there. He can feel fingers laced through his. His eyes are crusty and can’t seem to focus as he opens them. His fingers twitch and there’s a startled snort to the side.

Someone is sitting with him. Someone fell asleep watching over him. The hand loosely holding his squeezes for a moment before pulling away.

He tries again, licking dry lips with an equally dry tongue before croaking, “Shrrlck?” The chair scrapes against the floor. There is the sound of footsteps, of a door opening. By the time he has managed to turn his head, the room is empty once more. Only the lingering warmth of his left hand indicates that someone was there just a few moments before. His right reaches out, finds the button that controls the morphine, and gives it a squeeze.

 

*****

 

The third time John wakes up he can tell that someone is in the room because there is a low-pitched conversation in progress regarding his condition. He can’t quite focus on the words, only the tones, one of them quite arch and demanding, which makes John call out uncertainly, “Shrlock?”

The conversation ceases and the sound of someone drawing closer makes John turn his head carefully and try to concentrate on the face that comes into his vision. A hand comes to rest on his arm and the features above him swim into focus. There is a mix of disappointment and panic when John realizes who it is. His left hand clutches at the bedding as he stares up into Mycroft’s eyes and repeats again, “Sherlock??”

The brother misunderstands the question. “No John, no, it’s Mycroft. Do you remember what happened?”

John closes his eyes, fear suffusing him as he tries to focus and think clearly. It’s hard. So very hard. His mind is a jumble, bits and pieces and fragments of himself, of memories. Finally he manages to get out, “Moriarty. Explosion.” The rest dissolves into confusion and distress. Why can’t he think? Where is Sherlock?? His eyes open again, stricken not with pain but panic. But all he can manage to articulate once more is his flatmate’s name.

A look of disappointment comes over Mycroft’s features, but vanishes within seconds, his hand squeezing John’s arm again as he reassures, “Sherlock is fine, John. You took the brunt of the damage. But you’re alive and, with physical therapy, you should be able to walk again and regain full use of your left arm.” John’s expression shifts with confusion as he tries to move his arms. Each one feels leaden and weak, and when he tries to move his legs they too are sluggish and impossibly heavy. His breathing comes faster, more frantic. He can hear his heart rate rising, the monitor by his bedside beeping faster and faster.

There’s a soft murmur from behind Mycroft and he looks toward the doctor standing there, nodding before turning back to John. “Rest now. Just rest. You’re going to be disoriented for a while, but you’re getting better John. I’m very relieved with the progress of your improvement.

He doesn’t understand any of it, but he’s tired. So tired. Without meaning to, without wanting to, John slips back into an exhausted sleep.

 

*****

 

It takes many more times, many more awakenings before John is coherent and able to focus. To understand what is being said to him, to remember it and, more importantly, to speak his thoughts aloud rather than single words or garbled phrases.

He’s heard it over and over again, he’s sure. Sometimes from doctors, sometimes from nurses, on even more rare occasions, from Mycroft himself. He was in an explosion. He was badly injured. Sherlock is fine.

More often than not, he wakes up alone. Sometimes there is a nurse or doctor attending to him, their touch or their voice stirring him to awareness.

But sometimes, he could swear that he heard Sherlock’s voice speaking to him. Felt Sherlock’s long fingers stroking over his brow or intertwined with his own shorter ones. Sometimes he would turn his head and swear that the blanket covering him smelled faintly like Sherlock.

When he awakens this time, the person standing next to him is Mycroft. Shrewd eyes study John’s face as he asks, “Do you know who I am?”

John nods slowly.

“Do you know who you are?”

John nods again.

“What do I do for a living?”

Taking a careful breath, John replies in a voice hoarse and rough with disuse, “You hold a minor position in the government… which is bollocks.”

John tries to move and panics when his body is sluggish to respond, muscles weak, each limb a leaden weight.

This must be a common occurrence. With a soft sigh of mild impatience, Mycroft lays a reassuring hand on John’s shoulder and explains, “You were caught in an explosion John. Your leg was trapped under rubble and severely damaged. Your left shoulder was shattered, and you had numerous broken bones, burns, and contusions. The doctors managed to pin you back together but you suffered trauma to the brain. You’ve been in a coma for a month.

John lies there quietly, letting the information sink into him slowly, determined to hold onto it this time no matter what the cost. But he can’t stop himself from asking the one thing that he keeps coming back to, even though he already knows the answer. “Sherlock?”

Another sigh, this time of annoyance. John tries not to take it personally.

“Sherlock is back at 221b Baker Street. He suffered some broken ribs, lacerations and burns, a concussion, some internal bleeding, but he’s fine now. Fully recovered and back to his usual foolishness, running after criminals and solving crimes.”

John lays there, information and acceptance settling into place except for one niggling thought. “Mycroft. Why are you here?” The unspoken question is clear. It isn’t why is Mycroft here. It’s why isn’t Sherlock?

“Because I owe you my brother’s life. And, apparently unlike my brother, I take your well being quite seriously. Between Sherlock’s self-absorption and your sister’s alcoholic condition, it seemed that you needed someone to be responsible for your care. So that person became me.”

John considers that for a moment, uneasy at the thought that neither his sister nor his best friend would be here for him. That a man who is nearly a stranger would be the only one to take an interest in his well-being.

A commiserating hand gently pats his shoulder as Mycroft seems to read his mind and take pity on him. “It will be alright John. I’ve lined up the best surgeons and physical therapists available for your care. But for now, just rest and let your body heal. The rest can wait till later.”

 

*****

 

The physical therapy was grueling. The hospital and rehab were interminable. But it would have all been worthwhile if he felt like there was a reason for it all. It would have been tolerable if only Sherlock had come round on occasion to visit. Tell him about the cases he was solving, the adventures he was having.

Without John.

Yes, of course he wants to be able to walk again, to regain the full use of his body. And right now sheer determination and stubbornness, two of John Watson’s best traits it seems, are causing him to have greater success than any of his doctors or physical therapists anticipated. But it feels like it’s all for naught.

What’s the point of being able to run if he isn’t running after Sherlock on some madcap, fool adventure? What’s the point of having a steady hand if he can't use it to help Sherlock up, or tend his wounds after something's gone wrong, or hold a bloody gun straight?

But Sherlock hasn’t shown his face since John woke up. Not once.

He shouldn’t be surprised. Really, he shouldn’t. Sherlock has always been a selfish sort of creature, wrapped up in his own world, his own needs and desires. For months now John’s known that he merely makes Sherlock’s life a tad easier and gives him a slightly more communicative partner to discuss his ideas with. A skull is great when you don’t want an argument, but bones rarely praise your brilliance either. Naturally he wouldn’t visit. Sherlock is only interested in hospitals when there’s a dead body to study or a lab to work in. Sickness, infirmity, these things hold little interest for the consulting detective. And if John can’t keep up with Sherlock, then what use is he?

Still, he thought by now they had something more. John had already resigned himself to the fact that Sherlock would never return his affections. That he would never look at John with attraction or lust… or love. For himself, John had managed to compartmentalize that part of himself and close it off. Oh, sure, he knew that he slipped every so often. That he looked at Sherlock’s body with desire before he turned away to head to the kitchen in an effort to hide his reaction.

Tea is a terribly convenient excuse. Sherlock must think him addicted to the stuff by now.

Sitting in his room, staring out at the rain, John is quietly grateful that his gun is still safely ensconced back at Baker Street. He hasn’t felt this alone and cast adrift since those dark days after he returned from Afghanistan. He takes a deep breath and holds it before letting it out slowly.

All he has to do is finish this. Heal his body, get back to the flat. Everything will go back to the way it was. It will be fine. He’ll make it fine.

 

*****

 

He’s been pacing the apartment for hours now, waiting for Mycroft to show up, to give him news of John’s condition. Of his recovery.

It’s been an interminable month. After the explosion, as soon as he was able, Sherlock spent every moment he could at John’s side, willing him to wake up. And every time John came to, Sherlock had to force himself to leave the room. Because John can’t know. John can never know how much he has come to mean to Sherlock.

Watching John sleep was of little comfort to Sherlock, when all he wanted to do was hold him and talk to him and know that he was alive and alright. But not being able to see him at all? Torture. Pure torture. How could one person come to mean so much? How could one man completely change his life without him even realizing it?

Intolerable. Impossible. But irrefutable. John Watson has managed to do what no other person has managed. He’s made the infinitely logical, eminently superior Sherlock Holmes… fall in love.

It’s positively insupportable.

Of course now that Mycroft is here, Sherlock wants him to leave. He gave his report, which he insists on doing in person much to Sherlock’s great displeasure, but now he apparently feels the need to linger on and play the role of the elder brother, berating Sherlock for his life choices. Per usual.

“Sherlock. This has to stop. You have to tell him. This is cruel, even for you. Dr. Watson deserves better than this. Every time I see him, he’s doing better and better physically, but I feel like I’m watching him waste away.”

Sherlock lifts his head up from his intense scrutiny of his flat’s floor to glare up at his brother, teeth bared. “Of course John deserves better. That’s precisely why I’m doing this. He has to make the decision. He has to be the one who leaves. If I tell him the truth, he’ll just deny it. Fight me. Refuse to back down, to go away. It’s better like this. Yes, it will hurt for a bit, but he already knows what a cold bastard I am. It won’t be difficult for him to realize that he should just go and leave me.”

Twirling his umbrella in place, Mycroft sighs. “You could leave him. It would be simple. You could die in an accident, or at “Moriarty’s” hands. I could arrange that. And wouldn’t that be kinder? If you’re going to hurt him, best to make it quick and final. This course of action, it’s just prolonging the pain unnecessarily.”

“Indeed. But a broken heart is easier to get over than one torn asunder. John is in love with me. He tries to hide it, he has accepted the fact that I didn’t want a relationship, but I don’t believe his feelings have changed over these past few months. John believes his love is unrequited.” He ignores Mycroft’s pointedly arched eyebrow, pushing onward to his point. “If our friendship were to dissolve as well, he will be hurt and sad, but he will move on. He already sees me as an emotionally disconnected asexual. But if I were to die?” Sherlock’s head shakes as he draws the line. “No, Mycroft, I can’t do that to him. Not when he’s already lost so many friends in Afghanistan. Even if I did, what would happen when he finds out that I’m not dead? That would be a far crueler trick than just letting him believe what he already thinks is the truth.”

“And what of yourself then?”

Sherlock’s hand slashes through the air as he declares, “Irrelevant. The only thing that matters now is John’s safety and well being.” His pale silvery eyes lift and Mycroft blinks in surprise at the level of undisguised emotion brimming just beneath the surface there. “I don’t matter. My feelings don’t matter. John matters. I need him to leave me. I need him off of Moriarty’s radar. They both have to believe that I don’t care about him.”

Turning away, Sherlock rubs his hand over his mouth and stares out the window, confessing, “I already almost lost him once, Mycroft. I can’t bear to lose him twice.”

“You lose him either way.”

“Yes, but he’ll stay alive if he leaves me. I cannot be the cause of John’s death. I will give him up before it comes to that.”

 

*****

 

Home. He’s finally home. Thank God. Now things can get back to normal. Well, as normal as anything can be when you live with Sherlock Holmes.

He sent Sherlock a text, letting him know that he would be coming back today. He squashed the irrational desire that Sherlock would be waiting for him when he came out of the hospital with a cab beside him and a smile on his lips. That was ludicrous to think. He stands at the bottom of the stairs, studying them dubiously. He’s well enough to move on his own, but he has only been walking over relatively flat surfaces. These stairs will be a challenge.

Jutting out his jaw, John sets his teeth and begins the climb. Each step is difficult and painful, but he forces himself up, bit-by-bit, step-by-step. By the time he reaches the top he is sweating, trembling, and weak, but he did it! He conquered the stairs! This is cause for celebration. Hobbling his way to their door, he pushes it open and calls out cheerfully, “Sherlock! I’m home!”

The room is deserted, the flat silent. It takes John a ridiculously long amount of time to realize Sherlock isn’t there to greet him, to welcome him home. He isn’t even there to ignore John while he rambles on endlessly about his latest deduction or curled up on the couch having a strop.

John thumps his way over to his chair and stares at the files and papers and stuff that has been piled up on it and swallows down the lump in his throat. He doesn’t know why it hurts so much. It’s just a chair, after all. It’s not like he sat upon it one day and proclaimed for all to know, “This is my chair!” But it’s the chair he always sat in. The chair that he found the most comfortable and pleasing. The one in which he sipped tea and patiently listened to Sherlock ramble on and on. To see it filled with clutter feels too much like he’s been forgotten. Like he’s been replaced. With a soft sigh, he thumps over to the couch and nearly falls down on it. Limbs tremble uncontrollably, causing John to bite his lip. Reaching over, he picks up the fleur de lis brocade cushion resting against the arm of the couch and hugs it to his chest.

After a moment he realizes that it smells like Sherlock. His shampoo, his sweat, and something else that is indefinable. A scent that he hasn’t smelled in what feels like ages. He buries his nose against the fabric and breathes it in, eyes closing as he murmurs to himself, “Welcome home…”

 

*****

 

“What? What is it? What have I done? I know that I’m fairly useless to you now, but I can still help you with some things. Or at least keep things here in order.”

He’s been back a week. One endless, awful, torturous week. Sherlock has barely made his presence known throughout the entire time. Always rushing in and out of the flat, barely even acknowledging John’s presence. Naturally John can’t keep up with Sherlock, can’t follow him around on cases. Hell, he can barely get up and down the stairs without utterly winding himself. So he’s kept himself busy with putting the flat back into order, cleaning things up, and doing his exercises, determined to not be a burden and to regain his strength and dexterity so that some day when Sherlock goes running past, he can run after him.

But Sherlock… it’s as if John’s very presence in his life, in this flat, is an irritant he can’t wait to get away from. John’s teeth are clenched, his chin raised, eyes flashing with frustration and anger. Damnit, he thought they were friends at the very least! This is not how one treats friends. Not even how Sherlock would treat a friend, if he had any. “What the fuck is going on, Sherlock? First you don’t even come visit me in the hospital, not even once, and now you treat me like I’m some kind of leper. I know I’m worse off than when we first met, but I’m getting better, damnit!”

Sherlock’s gaze lifts from his laptop, pale gray eyes cold and blank as they stare up at his flatmate. He closes the computer with a flick of his wrist and rises up to his feet, reaching for his mobile. “John, this isn’t about you. Not everything is, you know.” Glancing at his phone, Sherlock shakes his head and turns toward the door, pulling on his coat and noting brusquely, “I have to go. Case.”

“Case? What case? Sherlock, what’s going on? Why won’t you even talk to me? Sherlock!!”

Whirling about, Sherlock gives John his most scathing and icy glare, the one that freezes most people in their tracks. Normally, John is immune to such looks. But not now. Not any longer. Because he is the focus of that disgusted glare. The man that he loves is looking at him as if he were nothing but an annoyance, a fly in his ointment. “John, stop badgering me like a shrewish wife. My life is my own, as yours is yours. I owe you neither conversation nor explanations as to my comings and goings. If you want someone to sit around with and natter on about the weather or the news, then perhaps you should go out and find yourself a proper girlfriend.” He wraps his scarf about his neck and doesn’t even look at John as he heads out the door, calling over his shoulder, “I’m going to be out late. Don’t wait up.”

His feet drum down the stairs rapidly, the door slamming in his wake.

John stands at the top of the stairs looking down, his hands clutching at the railing. He feels dizzy and sick, his balance reeling slightly before he gets a hold of himself.

This is just Sherlock being Sherlock. John’s still limping, he can’t keep up with him, and Sherlock doesn’t want to be slowed down. It’s all fine. Everything’s fine.

As he limps his way back into the flat, John wonders dully how much longer he can keep lying to himself.

 

*****

 

“He won’t leave.”

“It’s called loyalty, Sherlock. You should really try it some time.”

Mycroft doesn’t so much as flinch at the violent glare that his brother shoots his way. A lesser man would be in fear for his life, but it’s rather old hat to the elder Holmes at this point.

Sherlock only manages to hold the glare for a short while before he turns away and stares out of the window moodily. “I’ve been as awful as humanly possible. I’ve left him alone for days on end, I’ve ignored him, I’ve quarreled with him, I’ve played the violin abhorrently at all hours of the night, I’ve berated him and mocked him. I’ve been rude and unpleasant and disparaging…” Sherlock lets out a sigh, glaring at the street below, his features drawn into deeply depressed lines.

Studying his brother, Mycroft is torn between beating on him with the umbrella in his hand or giving the utter idiot a hug. Neither action is in their repertoire, however, so he refrains from succumbing to either temptation.

“Sherlock. This is killing you. As much as you are hurting John, and that is bad enough, you’re hurting yourself. Don’t think I don’t know what you’ve been up to.”

“Oh please, enough with the dramatics, Mycroft, I’m not in the mood.”

“Oh? What are you in the mood for then?”

Sometimes Sherlock forgets just how physically spry and able Mycroft actually is. His younger brother barely has time to resist as he reaches out and grips Sherlock’s shoulder and spins him around. His other hand grips Sherlock’s shirt sleeve and tears it up violently, exposing the puncture marks at the dip of his elbow.

“More of this?!” Mycroft doesn’t even have to look down to know what is there, his eyes staring into Sherlock’s until it is Sherlock who is forced to look away. Jerking his arm free, he settles his sleeve back over the evidence, countering darkly, “I’m in control this time. It just helps take the edge off.”

“Sherlock… Sherlock this is madness. You need to stop this, one way or the other. You can’t keep doing this to John. You can’t keep doing this to yourself.”

Turning away from his brother, Sherlock paces the room agitatedly, hands fluttering through the air. “He just refuses to see reason! The man doesn’t have a single, self-preserving bone in his body!”

“Sounds familiar…”

Sherlock rattles on, ignoring his brother’s cutting remark. “I can’t decide if he’s the most stupid, stubborn human being on the whole planet or…”

“Or the best friend you will ever have in your entire life. And he would be so much more than that, if you would just let him.”

Spinning around, Sherlock storms forward and grabs his brother by the upper arms, shaking him. “That’s isn’t the point, Mycroft! That was never the point!”

“Mmmm, yes. And the point again was? Oh, yes, driving him away from you. Well, Sherlock, I think you need to change your tactics. Since treating him like he means nothing to you hasn’t worked, perhaps you should try the other way around. You could declare your undying love for him. That should send him packing right away. It would any other sane man.”

Sherlock’s lips twitch into a small smile despite the fact that they’re talking about driving away the only person he cares about. “But you forget. John Watson isn’t sane.” As quickly as the anger came over him, it fades again, leaving Sherlock looking weary and torn, his hands releasing his brother’s arms and falling away.

“Mmmm, true. The fact that he’s still here with you is proof enough of that.”

Flopping down to the couch heavily, Sherlock drops his face into his hands and rubs his fingers brusquely through his hair before snapping his head back upright and doing the unheard of; asking his brother for advice.

“Alright, fine! What should I do then?!”

Twirling his umbrella, Mycroft studies Sherlock sadly for a moment before turning and heading toward the door, calling over his shoulder, “I would try the truth, if I were you. It can, on occasion, be surprisingly effective…”

 

*****

 

It’s only a question of time, but really, Sherlock is rather surprised at how long it takes John to finally notice the deliberate evidence he’s left about the flat. As it is, it takes him a whole day before he finds one clue whilst tidying up, a seemingly harmless piece of paper, lying on the coffee table. He picks it up without so much as a glance at first, about to put it into a much tidier stack of papers than it previously was in when something catches his eye.

Perhaps it was the words “flatmate wanted” or the part where he wrote, “seeking independent, financially solvent individual with no interest in social attachments”. John’s hand trembles as he turns to where Sherlock is applying rosin to the bow of his violin. Said hand lifts said paper, shaking it deliberately as he bites out, “What. Is. This?!”

This, Sherlock muses silently, sadly, to himself, is the end. He doesn’t even glance up at John. This has to be the greatest acting moment of his life. Every move, gesture, and glance is calculated. Deliberate. “Really John, I assumed since you have a degree that you must have graduated from primary school, so surely you are capable of the simple task of reading.” His head lifts, eyes cool and emotionless as he notes objectively, “Though perhaps the damage to your head was more extensive than previously realized.” His head tilts to the side for a moment as he adds, “That would explain a few things….”

He can see the anger now building up in John. The outrage. The fury. This is it. This is the moment when John realizes that Sherlock is a complete and utterly unfeeling bastard with the sensitivity of a gnat who uses every one who comes into his orbit for his own purposes before tossing them aside like so much flotsam afterward.

“You, wait, let me get this straight. You’re advertising for a flatmate. For 221b Baker St. Where were you planning to put said person?”

“Don’t be obtuse, John, in your room of course.”

“My room.” The paper flutters to the floor as John starts to pace about room, running his hands through his hair as if he had half a mind to start tearing chunks out.

It takes all of Sherlock’s will to stay seated and blithely unaware of John’s mounting distress and anger. It is necessary, he reminds himself. It’s for John’s own good in the end.

“My room. My room? And just where exactly am I going??”

“I haven’t the faintest,” Sherlock replies, running his bow along the strings of his violin, the sound bitter and dissonant. “That certainly is none of my affair. I’m sure you’ll find a suitable flat somewhere.” Mycroft will see to it that John finds a nice place, strangely affordable. He will never know of course, and Sherlock is sure that he will have to pay a pretty price for the favor. But it will be worth it. Whatever John wants, wherever he wants to live, he will have it. The violin groans and squeaks through the atonal discordant piece of music, yet another irritant devised to drive John to the edge and over.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, his face growing red now, John speaks in clipped and deliberate tones. “So. You’re advertising for a new flatmate. Without telling me. You’re looking for a new flatmate while I’m still bloody living here!!!”

The violin stops its banshee cry as Sherlock lifts his eyes and blinks owlishly at John before asking blithely, “Yes. Problem?”

John stares at Sherlock, a muscle in his jaw ticking as he rumbles, “Stand up.”

“Really, John, I don’t have time for your petty issues right now, I’m….”

“STAND! UP!”

Something has changed. Something indefinable and dangerous has suddenly shifted. Sherlock can feel the difference in the air, as if an electrical current had been introduced to the situation, charging it with potential energy just waiting to become kinetic. The question is, what form will that energy take? Sherlock rises up, watching John warily now. This is not a side of him he’s seen before. It’s dark. It’s unpredictable. And damn it all to hell, it’s bloody gorgeous. Like a crime scene on the precipice of becoming.

John speaks softer now, but with no less intensity than when he was shouting.

“Put the violin down.”

Sherlock hesitates for only a moment before turning and placing the violin and bow back in their case. Rising back up slowly, he opens his mouth up to try and defuse the situation, turning and getting out the word, “John…” before the rest is lost by the blow to his gut. Curling over his belly protectively, Sherlock gasps for the air that he’s lost, mouth opening and closing like a landed fish. John rotates his shoulder with a wince before grabbing Sherlock. Hands are hard on his body, clutching him with bruising pressure as John herds him backwards and then pushes him Hard.

Sometimes Sherlock forgets that, despite the fact John Watson comes in such a small package, he’s very strong. Sherlock slams against the wall hard enough to shake the frames there, his eyes widening with concern despite his determination to remain cool and aloof. “John! Your shoulder!”

Closing in on his flatmate, John places his hands on either side of Sherlock, leaning in close, teeth bared, eyes flashing with rage. “Fuck my shoulder! Fuck my leg! And fuck you! You think you can just get rid of me? You think you can just get shot of me now that I’m of no use or interest to you any more? You think you can just replace me? Fuck that! Fuck you!

Sherlock just barely flinches, but the brief flicker of his eyelids, the flare of his nostrils, the minute way he pushes back into the wall apparently does not escape John’s attention. God, this should not be arousing but it is. Sherlock can’t tear his eyes away from John’s flushed features, sure that his own are flushed as well now, pupils likely dilated by the adrenaline.

John’s eyes narrow before his hands lift, grabbing at Sherlock’s face, fingers digging into his hair. “Fuck you Sherlock Holmes. If you’re kicking me out, then you owe me this!” Hands drag him forward, drag him down as John crushes his mouth against his, his body against his, mashing Sherlock against the wall.

Don’t react, don’t react, don’t react, don’t react…

Sherlock’s resolve only lasts a few seconds before all the worry, all the waiting, all the newfound love and lust and need and hunger and excitement overwhelm him. Like a weakened dam, he finally breaks under the pressure of one little crack. One heated kiss. His hands lift as well, sliding up into John’s hair as Sherlock releases a soft moan from the base of his throat and starts kissing John back. Desperately.

John groans in response, pushing up and forcing his tongue into Sherlock’s mouth, attacking him, devouring him. His hands release him abruptly, fingers curling around Sherlock’s wrists and pulling them away, pinning them harshly against the wall. Their lips break apart and John roughly growls, “No!” Sherlock agrees. Now that he’s tasted John’s mouth, he has no desire to stop. He leans forward once more, but John pulls Sherlock’s arms toward him and then slams them against the wall once more, painfully, repeating more emphatically, “No.”

Sherlock blinks, thrown by John’s reaction. He has never been so unpredictable. It’s exhilarating.

“You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to treat me like less than the dirt on the soles of your shoes and then kiss me like that. You don’t get to leave me in a hospital, in pain and alone, to shun and ignore me when I return, to start looking for someone to replace me and then suddenly want me.” He’s trembling, actually trembling in a way that Sherlock has never seen before. Not when their lives were in danger, not even when he had a bloody suit of Semtex strapped to his chest. But then John isn’t trembling in fear.

He’s trembling with rage.

Sherlock should say something erudite and witty. Something scathing and sardonic. But he can’t. John’s taken his breath away. But not with his fist this time, just himself. Sherlock can’t hide any more. He’s certain that his thoughts, his feelings, must be broadcasting from his face like a bloody lighthouse and there apparently isn’t a damn thing he can do to stop it.

John stares, breathing hard, brow knitted as he works out the evidence in front of him, compares and reevaluates the past two months. And then it clicks, like a light switch being flipped in his brain as Sherlock’s actions since the incident at the pool suddenly coalesce into an entirely different image than the one he had been trying to create

“You bastard,” he breathes softly, comprehension dawning over him. “You fucking bastard!! All of this! All of this you did on purpose!” If he hadn’t already pushed Sherlock up against the wall, he would be pushing him into it now. As it is, his hands tighten their grip painfully as he pulls back and slams Sherlock’s arms against it again. He’s going to be covered in bruises at this rate.

“You’re a fucking coward! You couldn’t just tell me the truth, could you? You couldn’t just accept that you have feelings for me. You couldn’t just tell me that you wanted me. Oh, no, the great Sherlock Holmes couldn’t possibly have actual feelings for someone other than himself! You couldn’t face me and you couldn’t even face the truth, so what did you do? You left me! When I needed you the most! You made my life a bloody nightmare just so you wouldn’t have to face your feelings! Well fuck that, cause you’re going to face them now, goddamnit!”

Hands start tearing at Sherlock’s clothes. Buttons pop off and fly through the air, soft silk strains and tears at the seams. Sherlock opens his mouth to protest, but finds himself slammed into the wall again, his head hitting hard enough to see stars for a moment. John is like a wild animal, scrabbling at him, feasting on him, every inch of skin revealed attacked with lips, tongue, and teeth and all Sherlock can do is gasp and hang onto him.

When John’s hand curls around his cock, Sherlock lets out a sharp cry, arching into the touch, and then another cry, struggling against John when his grip becomes too tight for comfort.

“This is mine,” he growls darkly, hand stroking over Sherlock’s hard length, teeth sinking into his throat. “You are mine…”

The sound that emerges from Sherlock’s throat is so inarticulate as to make a blush come over his impossibly high cheekbones. He squirms and writhes beneath the assault, rasping helplessly, “John….”

Spinning Sherlock around, John presses him up against the wall, one hand jacking him off feverishly, his mouth roving over Sherlock’s shoulder blades and back, nipping and biting and licking at him. “If you want me to stop, you’re going to have to say so, tell me that you don’t want me…” His hard throbbing cock has nestled itself beneath Sherlock’s buttocks, pressing between his thighs and poking at his balls.

What? Is he mad? Sherlock can barely think beyond the want and need rushing through his nerve endings, the lust that seems to rush through him with every pulse of his heart. Without even thinking about it, Sherlock lowers his torso and arches his back, presenting himself to John, his mind aflame with lust. “John… John… fuck me. Come on… fuck me….”

His flatmate goes still behind him before reaching up to Sherlock’s shoulders with both hands and pulling down on them, hard.

“Kneel.”

His voice is commanding, dark and dangerous, laced with barely controlled need. It doesn’t even occur to Sherlock to deny it. To resist. He drops to his knees almost bonelessly and gasps softly when John slides his fingers into his hair from behind, stroking through the dark curls indulgently for a few moments before his hand clenches down and jerks Sherlock’s head back, forcing his impossibly long neck to bend and stretch, till they are looking at one another upside down.

John’s eyes are darker than Sherlock has ever seen them and inscrutable for once. Swallowing hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down, Sherlock is almost trembling with anticipation as he waits for his next order.

“Stay.”

Like a dog, Sherlock does not move as John’s hand releases its grip and slides from his hair. He shivers when John moves away, the sudden lack of body heat, of John’s touch, making him feel strangely vulnerable. He can hear John’s bare feet padding through the apartment, steady, assured, the limp barely noticeable now. He listens, head lowered, breath short, as John rustles through the kitchen collecting God knows what before coming back.

When John returns and kneels behind him, Sherlock says nothing, though his breath comes in short, restless pants. He feels John’s hands parting his cheeks and then a slick finger pressing against his hole. Butter? Olive oil? Doesn’t really matter. Sherlock instinctively groans and arches again, shifting backward to offer himself to John shamelessly.

It’s been a long time since he’s been penetrated, and John isn’t exactly of a mind to be patient or thinking of Sherlock’s pleasure. One finger, two fingers, and finally three force their way in, slipping and sliding and stretching Sherlock’s arse open quickly, demandingly. Sherlock gasps and groans, hands curling against the wallpaper, back and arse arching and undulating provocatively, in reaction to the demanding invasion.

Leaning into Sherlock’s back, John’s chest presses against him, his hand slipping free and curling around to take up Sherlock’s leaking cock again, stroking it slowly with slick fingers, causing Sherlock to start and whimper.

“I’m going to fuck you now, and you’re going to take it. Whatever I want, you’re going to give it to me. Whatever I give you, you’re going to take.”

Sherlock shivers as those words brush his ear along with John’s moist breath. He breathes more than says, “Yes…”

Hands on his hips now, pulling him back from the wall. Pressing him lower. Since Sherlock’s legs are much longer than John’s. He bends obligingly, one forearm and the crown of his head pressed against the wall, his other hand resting on the floor. Hands prepare him, position him till his legs are bent such that his opening is at the same height as John’s cock. One hand comes to rest at his hip as the other guides John’s hard length to Sherlock’s loosened hole. There is pressure there and then, with one hard thrust, John forces his way into Sherlock.

He can’t stop the cry that explodes past his lips, pain mixed with precarious pleasure, at the almost violent possession. Both men are panting now, sunlight streaming in through the window, painting their sweat slick bodies with gold and amber. That same hand draws away only to stroke up and down Sherlock’s back and sides, as if John were gentling a horse, before it settles on Sherlock’s hip. He pulls out slowly, hips shifting from side to side, till only the tip of him remains inside. Fingers clench as John thrusts forward again with a groan that Sherlock harmonizes with.

God, he needs more. More than he can ever remember, Sherlock needs to come. He lifts his hand from the floor, reaching for his own desperately aching length, but a punishing thrust and John’s commanding voice stop him before he reaches it.

“No. No you don’t get any say in this. You take what I give you, you give me what I want. This isn’t about you, damnit. This is about me for once!” Sherlock gurgles as John’s fingers bruisingly dig into his body, his cock spearing him sharply once more in warning.

It doesn’t take long. They’ve both been waiting for so long, wanting for so long. Emotions are high, need is feverish, and after only just a few slow strokes John is pounding into Sherlock’s arse, the room punctuated with gasps and groans, sighs and grunts, the slap of flesh against flesh. John isn’t even touching Sherlock’s cock, but it presses against his belly, hard and straining, and he knows, he knows that he will come just from this. Just from having John inside him. Just having John fucking him.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that his hips are at just the right angle to ensure that John’s cock strokes over his prostate with each impassioned thrust. His breath comes out in rough huffs. He can feel his impending orgasm, his balls tightening and rising up. But he needs more, he needs contact. Which is ironic, really, seeing as how John is plowing his arse. But he still wants more. Groaning, Sherlock reaches out and backward this time, reaching for John till his fingers brush over his muscled abdomen. He holds there, even though it’s awkward and not exactly comfortable. This time John does not stop him, possibly too taken with his own impending orgasm to much care what Sherlock does at this point. He feels the muscles beneath his fingertips flex and bulge with each thrust of John’s hips and helplessly, Sherlock gasps out his name as he comes.

It only takes a few more strokes before John comes as well, Sherlock’s body gripping and milking his cock as he orgasms with a loud groan. Falling forward, John’s weight proves too much for Sherlock and both men collapse on the floor in a sticky, sweaty heap, still connected. For awhile they simply breathe and recover, reveling in the aftermath, in the feel of their bodies pressed together closely. John’s mouth trails over Sherlock’s shoulder, placing gentle, tender kisses there now, as if apologizing for the bites and marks he left there earlier. For himself, Sherlock hums softly in contentment, eyes closed. When John softens enough and slips free, Sherlock turns around and curls about him, his head beneath John’s chin, pressed to his chest. His eyes close as he listens to John’s heart, fingers stroking over the skin there reverently.

“I’m sorry.”

The words catch them both by surprise. They lie still before Sherlock clears his throat and repeats himself deliberately. “John, I’m… sorry. I thought it was the right thing to do. I couldn’t let you stay with me, knowing that you would be a target again for Moriarty. I had to convince both of you that I didn’t care. That you meant nothing to me.”

John says nothing, is barely breathing for fear that any move, any sound he might make might cause Sherlock to stop talking.

“It’s clear that you’re the ‘heart’ that he was referring to. The one he plans on burning. I couldn’t… I could not let that happen. Once I realized how much I…” the word doesn’t come however, he can’t even bring himself to say it yet, and silently he hopes that John will understand as he fumbles and tries again with a rough apologetic sigh. “How much you mean to me. I knew if I told you, it would only make you all the more determined to stay. But if I could drive you away, then you would be safe, and that was all that mattered to me.”

John’s fingers lift slowly and begin gently carding through Sherlock’s damp hair, his lips pressing reverently against the crown of his head. “And now? What matters to you now?”

Shifting, resting his weight on one elbow, Sherlock stares into John’s eyes. “That hasn’t changed. You. You matter to me now. But clearly my original plan has been well and truly buggered.”

John smiles crookedly, his features weary, but relieved as he teases softly, “That’s not the only thing that has been buggered…” But his voice tapers off as his hand and eyes trail along Sherlock’s arm, coming across the pinprick marks, seeing them for the first time. “Sherlock.” He hesitates for a moment, biting back the first words that come to mind before asking in a strained voice, “What’s this then?” John tries to control the anger, the fear that roils up inside him at the sight of those track marks, but it leaks through his tone, his eyes.

He could make light of them, like he did with his brother, but Sherlock owes John the truth. He deserves the truth. His gaze drops to his arm somberly, studying the blemishes there. “I suppose it looks bad. I could say that they were nothing, but that wouldn’t be precisely the truth. I can tell you that I’m all right. I used clean, sterile needles, of course. It was a seven percent solution. I just needed something to help make it bearable. It would seem, John Watson, that you are more addictive than cocaine. I didn’t realize it until I couldn’t be with you. You had well and truly got under my skin. And when I couldn’t get my fix, I had to settle for something else to make life tolerable.”

His head lifts again, silvery eyes meeting John’s and holding them. “I won’t need it any more. Not if you’re staying.”

John could yell. He could shout. He could give Sherlock lectures on the addictive nature of cocaine and berate Sherlock for being an idiot. All of those choices would be reasonable under the circumstances. But instead, John processes the information quietly before his lips curl into a softer, slightly more worried, smile as he makes light of the matter for now, not wanting to spoil the moment. “So wait. First you’re kicking me out and now you’re asking me to stay? Which is it, Sherlock? You really need to make up your mind.”

The answer is obvious now. Why was it not before? His gaze flickers down and away, his voice low and husky.

“Stay.”

John’s fingers trail up and away from the pinpoint scars, over Sherlock’s shoulder and neck to twine themselves deep within those dark locks, curling and tightening their grip, tugging till Sherlock lifts his head and meets John’s eyes.

His eyes are an intense shade of blue in this light, his gaze powerful and compelling. “Alright. I’ll stay. But don’t ever lie to me, Sherlock. Don’t you ever try to manipulate me like that again, even if it’s because you want to protect me. I understand you have fears. So do I,” he points out, fingers touching those needle marks again. “But from now on we share them. No more hiding or lying. We face this together. We face everything, no matter what, together.” He pauses, his gaze flickering back and forth between Sherlock’s eyes, searching for any sign of deception. “Swear to me.”

Sherlock meets that demanding gaze steadily, blinking once before nodding slightly. “No more hiding the truth. No more manipulating you for your own protection. I promise, John. I promise.” Of course that leaves all sorts of other excuses for manipulation free and clear, but Sherlock can think of far better ways to manipulate John toward results they both will appreciate. A slow, sultry smile curls his lips at the very thought.

A soft chuff of laughter is John’s response to that wicked smile, his voice murmuring, “Don’t think I don’t see the wheels in your mind turning round and round, thinking of how to get around that promise. And don’t think for a minute that we’re not going to have a long and serious talk about these” he notes with a swipe over Sherlock’s arm, “and this,” he adds, pressing one finger to Sherlock’s brow. “But later. Right now I’m completely knackered and ache all over.”

The disgruntled expression on Sherlock’s face shifts to one of concern as he touches the mass of scar tissue on John’s shoulder and thigh gently. “Did you injure yourself?” He doesn’t wait for a response. Sitting up, Sherlock reaches and gathers John to him and before the man can think to protest, he’s levering them both up with a grunt.

“Christ! Sherlock, put me down! Sherlock!”

But Sherlock does nothing of the kind, carrying John to his bedroom and murmuring softly, “John, I strongly suggest that you shut up and let me pamper you. I have months of neglect to make up for and a profound, if temporary, sense of guilt over my actions. Best enjoy the fruits of this combination while you can.”

For a brief moment John considers those words before asking, “Does that mean you’ll wash the dishes?”

“Don’t press your luck…”

 

*****