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“John, would you do something for me?” Sherlock asks. He is lying on the couch, dressing gown askew, one of his legs grazing the floor. His eyes are half-closed. The word is only half boring this way.

“Anything,” John is sitting in the armchair, absorbed in reading, so his reply is instantaneous and must be exactly what John thinks. Then he backtracks.

“Define something?” He asks in the same time as Sherlock says “Define anything.”

“I thought you knew by now, that with few exceptions, there is not much I would not do for you.” John hides his face behind newspaper, but his voice is steady, probably as well as his hand.

“Let me see, so far I’ve killed for you, offered my life for you and punched a police officer in the face. Faced detention and ASBO. Got exposed to toxic gas. Was drugged. Had some stitches and couple of bruises all over me as well.”

“I’ve stole an ashtray from Buckingham palace for you.” Sherlock counters.

“Yeah, always wanted to ask how you did it and where exactly did you hide it? Was it when you only had that bed sheet on?”

“I’d tell you. But then I’ll have to… show you. And you may find it disturbing.”

John laughs. Sherlock likes that. He read it was important to make people who you… well… who were with… like John. It was important to make them laugh. It spoke of closeness and sentiment and it was good.

“I also hoover, do the shops, dust and clean after you. And cook if we don’t go out or order in.”

“Can you make me tea?”

“Was it this ‘something’ you wanted? No, Sherlock. I’m busy right now and you doing absolutely nothing on the sofa. Probably with your eyes closed. Am I right? I might bring you a cup later when I’m finished. If you behave, that is.”

“You are a true miracle, John.”

“It won’t make me bring you tea any faster, Sherlock.”

“You are, John, simply amazing. After two whole days in my close company Molly told that you were a saint for living with me.”

“Two days? Oh… back then.”

The air gets thicker and it’s difficult to breathe.

“Sorry.”

“See, you’re not hopeless, with proper training you could almost pass for polite.”

John is still bitter, of course, but he is getting better.

But Sherlock thinks the whole “guess, who’s back” ordeal went well considering he got to keep John and John wanted to keep him.

“It’s just,” John is obviously sorry for his little bite “Next time. Let me know, regardless. Life without you is practically… not worth it.”

Sherlock can’t stand it. Of course life without him is perfectly worth it, if John gets to live. He needs to deflect, to ask something else, so he blurts

“What about sex?”

“What about it? ‘John, I want you to forget about your practically non-existent sex life, because I scare off all your girlfriends anyway?’

“No, I meant sex between you and me.”

John lowers the paper and takes a look at Sherlock. Sherlock has his eyes closed now, but he can feel the stare.

“You mean ‘fuck or die’ situation?

“No. ‘Fuck or die?’

“Never mind. Just the stupid expression I’ve heard, never mind.”

John is silent for a moment. Sherlock waits for same old “while I’m flattered, yadda yadda.”

“Listen to me very carefully, Sherlock. When it is not some idle questioning. Not an experiment of some sort. When and only if you’re absolutely sure that’s something you want. Ask me again.”

John is like tea. Refreshing, energizing, mysterious, tender and strong. Sherlock loves tea.

Sherlock opens his eyes, rises up from the sofa and gets to his feet. John keeps on watching him, eyes wary and Sherlock wonders what he sees.

“I need a hug, John.”

He approaches his friend, who gets out of the chair reluctantly.

They hug. Sherlock’s hands cup John’s shoulder blades, John’s hands stay low on Sherlock’s waist. John buries his face in detective’s t-shirt. Sherlock would like to forever encompass him in his dressing gown, to keep him close. To have him closer.

“I forgot to mention I’ve let you paint my nails with glitter. I had it for days! Mrs. Hudson had asked.”

“That bears remembering.”

They inhale. They exhale.

“This is not how flat mates are supposed to hug each other.” John mumbles from the vicinity of Sherlock’s sternum.

“But we are friends, right?”

John hums his agreement and does not let go. Neither does Sherlock.

This peace and quiet will be short lived. But for now they stand together and hold on and let the minutes drop.