Standing at the kitchen sink, John gave a bit of a start. Sherlock had been back for a month, and they were still… adjusting. Three years of quiet and loneliness were hard to erase. But John was trying. They both were.
“Mm?” John mumbled and turned around, only to jump again. Sherlock was standing right behind him. Right behind him. Well, it was good to see that Sherlock’s boundaries were still intact (more like lack of boundaries).
“John?” Sherlock said again. “It’s come to my attention that things are… different between us.”
With a roll of his eyes, John really tried not to groan. To use Sherlock’s favorite word: obvious. “Well yeah, Sherlock.” He said. “You… died.” Not to be blunt about it. “But you didn’t. You lied to me for three years, and I’m happy to have you back,” ecstatic, elated, thrilled beyond comprehension, pick one. “But you can’t expect that it’ll all be back to normal in a month.” Reaching out, John laid his hand on Sherlock’s shoulder. If Sherlock felt like invading his space like he belonged there (which he did, he always did) John would invade right back. “Don’t worry. We’ll get used to each other again.”
For some reason, Sherlock’s face fell. “That’s not what I meant at all.” Then, Sherlock leaned forward.
Their lips met. Just like that. One second they were apart, and the next they weren’t. A movement that was so small, yet so big all at the same time.
Sherlock’s lips were soft against John’s, softer than they looked, which had always seemed impossible, but turned out to be just perfect. Of all the times John imagined kissing Sherlock—most in the past three years—it had never been this good. Probably because it was never real. Not until now.
Before John knew what was happening, he felt the soft tip of Sherlock’s tongue licking at his bottom lip. He parted his lips almost automatically and let Sherlock in. Tongues tangled in a warm, wet, lovely dance. Sweeping under his top lip, then repeating the movement along his bottom lip. John barely managed to scrape together enough brain cells to return the kiss. His own tongue moved forward, pressing into Sherlock’s mouth, sliding against the other man’s tongue. It was wonderful.
Gentle, but firm teeth started nipping at John’s lips, sucking the soft flesh, worrying until they were pink. John hardly noticed when his hand snaked up from Sherlock’s shoulder to tangle in his hair. The other moved around his hips. For his part, Sherlock planted his hands on the counter on either side of John’s hips, not so much caging him in as holding him steady. Chests pressed together, their heartbeats fell into the same rhythm.
Much to John’s surprise, Sherlock was the first to break the kiss. He pulled back just enough to take huge, gasping breaths, but their noses were still touching, they were still breathing the same air. Good. John never wanted to stop touching Sherlock.
“I’ve wanted to do that,” Sherlock panted, the smile so wide on those kiss-reddened lips. “For years.”
Swallowing away his nerves, John pressed his nose into Sherlock’s cheek, nuzzling the heated skin. “Then why’d you stop?”
Sherlock smiled. One of his hands pulled off of the counter top and settled itself on John’s hip, where his thumb started rubbing smooth circles into the soft wool of his jumper. “Though breathing may be boring, my lungs seem to find it necessary.”
“Ah,” John nodded. “Rookie mistake. If you breathe though your nose, you can kiss for hours on end.”
“Oh?” The look Sherlock was giving John was positively filthy, no other way to describe it. “Would you care to demonstrate this technique to me? Say… on the couch?”
“Love to,” another quick peck and John fisted his hand in Sherlock’s shirt, all but dragging him into the sitting room and down onto the couch.
The kissing resumed quite quickly. Breathing through his nose like John said, Sherlock now saw no reason to stop. For the rest of his life, all he wanted to do was feel John’s lips against his own. His breath, warm on his mouth. His tongue sliding against John’s.
Because John? John was a wonderful kisser. Not like Sherlock had any other experience to compare with, but he was pretty sure that John was fantastic at this. Teeth scraping softly against his full bottom lip, breathy moans as fingers stroked against his neck, and the way John’s tongue was positively everywhere. Under his lips, against his own tongue, under his tongue, and sliding along his teeth. Lighting up erogenous zones Sherlock never knew he had like it was bloody Christmas.
What finally did him in was when John pulled back, breaking the kiss long enough to pull off his jumper. He then promptly returned and swiped his tongue across both of Sherlock’s lips before continuing the kiss. Amazing, lovely, wonderful… and Sherlock never wanted it to end.
By the end of the night (three hours and two glasses of water each later) both men laid on the couch, utterly spent. From kissing. Not once did John try to move things further. Either John was satisfied with just this, or he was trying to make sure Sherlock was comfortable.
And Sherlock was. More than. This was… perfect.
Sherlock and John learned each other’s bodies with hands and tongues. Licking, nipping, biting, touching everywhere.
Some nights, they both turned off their mobiles and picked a bedroom, then, they would spend hours just touching and kissing every bit of skin they could reach. At the end of a night like that—sweaty, sticky, exhausted, but sated—they would exchange one last, long kiss before returning to their own rooms. That was the rule: separate bedrooms. Private time. Boundaries. At least until they had a better handle on whatever it was they were doing. For now, though, they were happy just to kiss and to touch.
But other nights—most nights—they wouldn’t make it past the couch. One look, one touch, one tiny feel of skin was all it ever took. Sherlock’s thumb would brush against John’s wrist when reaching for the newspaper, and they would start. Paper all but forgotten, fallen to the floor or crushed under Sherlock’s back as John rolled on top of him, teeth already scraping softly against his collar bone.
Tonight was one such night, where John had Sherlock on his back, pressed into the couch as he unbuttoned the man’s shirt with his teeth. His tongue flicked over every inch of pale skin as it was revealed. His own shirt had disappeared long ago, vanished between the cushions. But John couldn’t bring himself to care, not when Sherlock’s long, lovely fingers were tangled in his hair. Pressing lightly against his neck among whispers of “John, John, John.”
Once he had Sherlock’s shirt unbuttoned, John started on his trousers. Pulling at his flies, John licked a wide, wet strip of skin just over the top of his pants. Sherlock shook like a leaf under his hands, moaning softly.
“Yes, John. Please.” Sherlock breathed out.
“Mmm…” John mumbled against the pale skin. He’d gone down on Sherlock before. Bringing each other off with their tongues was their second favorite activity (second only to kissing) but there would be time for that eventually. Both their mobiles were blessedly silent, and they had nothing but time on their hands. Time to touch, and lick, and kiss every inch of each other’s bodies.
John dragged his mouth back up Sherlock’s chest, pressing his lips to the other man’s neck. “Your skin tastes so good,” he whispered. The words vibrated Sherlock’s skin in the perfect way. It tickled, it quivered, it was all wonderful. John was wonderful.
“John,” Sherlock whispered into the blonde hair. “Please, John.” Sherlock never needed to say what he wanted, John always knew. Would always know.
He slid his hands down that long body, brought them to rest at pointed hips and started stroking the skin with his thumbs. Sherlock’s hips were some of John’s favorite pieces of him. They were the perfect shape for John’s thumbs, his lips…
Dipping down again, John licked along the protruding hips. Sherlock moaned softly and John did it again. And again, and again. He reached down and grabbed one of John’s hands, hauling it back up and sucking the thumb in his mouth. That never failed to make John moan.
“Sherlock?” He whispered into the skin. “Do you want me to?” His hand pulled away from Sherlock’s hips and slid to cover his cock, now straining against the fabric of his pants.
John looked up and their eyes locked. “Yes,” Sherlock nodded. “Yes.”
John shot a smile back before turning his attention to Sherlock’s cock. He dropped a gentle kiss against the fabric and Sherlock moaned. It only made John smile wider. Taking his hand back from Sherlock, his fingers reached for the waistband of his pants and went to pull it down.
The door to their flat burst open and Lestrade walked in. Followed by Donovan. Followed by Anderson. Followed by half the drugs squad. “I didn’t want to do this, Sherlock,” Lestrade started before everyone was even through the door. “But if you’re going to—” he stopped cold, voice caught in his throat when he caught sight of the two men on the couch. “What?” He asked in shock.
Sherlock was on his feet before John even knew what was happening. Firm hands pushed him back, and then Sherlock was standing next to the couch. Glaring at Lestrade. “Get out!” He shouted. One long arm shot out and pointed to the door. Yeah, Sherlock told Lestrade to get out. John wanted to tell him to go to hell. “Get out!”
But Greg just stood there, completely dumb-struck. His eyes moved back and forth from Sherlock to John, taking it all in. John on the couch, his shirt gone, belt unbuckled, and his hands gripping to the fabric as if he were trying to keep himself from lashing out. And then Sherlock… if possible, Sherlock was more of a sight than John. Shirt unbuttoned, trousers undone, and the hint of a blush creeping up his chest. If Lestrade didn’t know what he’d walked in on, he was an idiot. But he wasn’t an idiot.
“What the hell is—” Anderson started.
“Anderson, shut up!” Lestrade growled, eyes never leaving Sherlock. “Everyone get out. Get out now!”
“Detective Inspector—” Donovan tried to say.
“Stow it!” Lestrade bit back. He turned and glared at her. Half the drugs squad had already left the flat, so only she and Anderson remained. “Just get out. Drugs bust canceled.”
With a roll of her eyes, Donovan turned and stomped out. As soon as she was gone, Anderson seemed to come to his senses. Just before he left, Sherlock saw the red blush that rose along his cheeks. But he didn’t matter.
“Why are you here?” Sherlock demanded as soon as the door was closed.
“You’ve been ignoring my texts,” he said, though clearly his heart wasn’t in it. His eyes kept flicking between Sherlock and John, taking everything in to try and make it add up to a different answer. Because this… he didn’t think this would ever happen. They were all rooting for it, and there was a betting pool down at the Yard, but to actually see it like this… “I have a stack of cases on my desk waiting for you.”
Sherlock sneered and waved a hand, as if dismissing Lestrade as a person. “Dull cases. You shouldn’t be surprised that I’m ignoring them.”
“You’ve been ignoring cases?” John said, speaking for the first time since half of Scotland Yard entered their flat.
Sherlock spun around and looked down at John. “You’re more important,” he mouthed. For a long time, John had been able to read his lips—only Sherlock’s, never anyone else’s—and this was one thing he did not want Lestrade to overhear.
“Sherlock,” John shook his head. “I know you haven’t had work for a while but,” John looked over at Greg, then back to Sherlock. “I didn’t know you were ignoring things.”
Grinding his teeth, Sherlock said it again. “You’re more important,” he whispered this time, still trying to keep Lestrade from hearing.
“No Sherlock,” John rose from the couch and grabbed the taller man’s hand. Damn Lestrade, he needed to touch Sherlock. “You love working. Why were you ignoring things?”
“That’s what I’m here to find out!”
Lestrade really shouldn’t have spoken. Tearing his eyes away from John, Sherlock turned and glared at the DI. “Get out,” he hissed again.
“No,” he shook his head. “Not until you explain.”
“Are you really that stupid!” Sherlock shouted. He dropped John’s hand and turned around to face Lestrade again. Hands came up and fisted in his own hair, tugging at the locks but not pulling too hard. Frustration, not mania. “I just got off a case that I’ve been on for three years!” He shouted.
Half of New Scotland Yard might be out in the hallway—their ears pressed to the door—but Sherlock didn’t care. He would shout, and yell as much as he liked. As much as it took for Lestrade to get this. “Three years and no rest!” He yelled. “Three years away from him!” He threw an arm back and pointed at John. Lestrade’s eyes went wide. Seeing them like this was almost too much, and now Sherlock was actually drawing attention to it? What else about the man had changed in those three years?
“Sherlock,” John reached out and grabbed his wrist, spinning him around until their eyes met. He reached up to cup the taller man’s face, trying to calm him. “You’ve been ignoring cases? Did you think that’s what I wanted?”
“It’s what I wanted,” he whispered back.
“But you love the work,” John said in equally hushed tones. Neither man seemed to care that Lestrade was still standing behind them, probably listening. “All the time I’ve known you, you hate not working. It makes you go out of your skull.”
Sherlock shook his head. “Three years playing the same song is worse than the silence.” And with that, John understood.
Three years with one goal: find and destroy Moriarty’s network. Nothing but that. Sherlock’s mind was a lot of things—glorious, brilliant, singular, completely without peer—but John never thought for a moment that he didn’t have his limits. Just like everyone else, Sherlock could burn out. And this… whatever they were, it was his way of recharging. Loosing himself for a little bit, just long enough to put his head back to rights. After the war, John had needed a bit to put himself right again, and since Sherlock was fighting his own private war, didn’t he deserve the same? Then, they would both emerge on the other side stronger than they were. And overall: they’d be together.
“Let us alone,” John said to Lestrade, but his eyes didn’t pull away from Sherlock. “For one more month. Let him rest.”
John half expected Lestrade to fight, object to it. If he really did have a desk overflowing with cases, then it didn’t do him much good to wait, now did it? But, as usual, Lestrade surprised them both. “Alright,” he nodded. “Enjoy your time.”
With that, he turned to leave. Before he did, though, Greg stopped at the door and smiled at them both. John was still one hundred percent focused on Sherlock, but he saw the man’s smile out of the corner of his eye. “And really, congratulations. It’s been a long time in coming.” He pulled the door shut with a quiet click and they were alone again.
“John?” Sherlock said after a moment of silence. He brought his hands up to grip John’s wrists, his thumb rubbing against the delicate skin above the man’s pulse point. “Just for one night, can we go to bed together?”
John went up on his tip-toes and pressed a soft kiss to Sherlock’s lush mouth. “Sherlock,” he mumbled against those lips. “You can have me in your bed as long as you like.”
Sherlock returned the kiss before asking “Our bed?” The words were hopeful. How could John say no to that?
“Yes, our bed.” With one more kiss, John reached out and threaded their fingers together. He began tugging Sherlock towards the bedroom. “Come now. We both need to sleep.”
A trail of clothes followed them as they made their way down the hall and finally settled between the cool sheets of Sherlock’s—their—bed. The little run-in with Lestrade and half the Yard exhausted them both, so they didn’t resume their activities. John just laid there, holding tight to Sherlock and trailing kisses along the other man’s brow.
One month, one more month until he and Sherlock would be where they were supposed to be. Back taking cases, catching murderers, jumping fences, and kissing. Couldn’t forget the kissing.