“Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.”
- Frederick W. Robertson
Sherlock was riding the best kind of high. In the last twenty-four hours he had solved a difficult case (it was the window cleaner), apprehended a murderer, put Scotland Yard to shame (no change there), and now, to top it all off, the man he had been in love with for months was in his bed (for the second time). Sherlock’s gaze flicked over John’s sleeping form, his mouth curving into a soft smile. It was a sight he still couldn’t quite get used to. John was fast asleep, his body turned slightly towards Sherlock, his mussed hair and slightly swollen lips a telling indication of the activities they had only recently indulged in. Activities that were something else Sherlock was still processing, and committing to memory.
It was like a dream, having John here with him. It had been nothing but a dream for a long time - long enough that Sherlock had grown sick and tired of his subconscious mind torturing him with it. Sherlock had believed John so far out of reach, so elevated beyond him, that he was still reeling from the realisation that John wanted him in return. He had ached and pined for John in an almost pathetic way, knowing all along that it was hopeless and resigning himself to his suffering, and not once had he ever imagined that this might be the outcome. Not until the pool.
Everything changed at the pool. Sherlock had spent months learning to bury his feelings deep down where they couldn’t cause him pain, or make John uncomfortable in his presence, only to have them thrown in his face with Moriarty’s cruel and obvious ploy. Sherlock had been more scared than ever and, afterwards, it had been beyond his control to keep his distance from a wide-eyed, shell-shocked John. It had become impossible to remain impassive with John's hands wrapped around his arms, broken voice telling Sherlock he'd be lost without him. Sherlock had regretted it the instant their lips touched, but before he could pull away John had kissed him back and for one brief moment, it had been perfect. A single second of possibility before--
Sherlock shook the memory off. He didn’t want to relive the painful aftermath of the pool and the weeks he had spent miserably convinced that he had driven away the only person who seemed to like him just the way he was. It was pointless to dwell on it now, not with John actually in his bed.
Sherlock moved his attention back to John and, as if he could sense the weight of Sherlock's focus, John started to stir. His eyes flickered open sleepily and he smiled as his gaze settled on Sherlock.
“You’re not sleeping,” John murmured, his voice rough with sleep, the sound making Sherlock’s toes curl.
“Very good observation.”
"Sleep is good," John said, reaching out his arm in invitation.
Sherlock shuffled closer and let his head rest against John's shoulder, pressing himself along John's side.
"You were brilliant today," John said, brushing his hand over Sherlock's shoulders and down his back.
Sherlock had already been praised by Lestrade and one of the victims' mothers, but had brushed it off. He didn’t do what he did for praise. For some reason, though, praise from John was different. It made him feel like he was on top of the world; made him want to hear it again and again.
"You're easily pleased," Sherlock countered, hiding his blush against John's skin.
"No, I'm not. I still don't know how you figured out the thing with the aftershave. That was fantastic."
Sherlock said nothing, pressing his mouth to John's cool skin.
"You're fantastic," John added in a low voice. "Always."
"I want you to live here. With me," Sherlock blurted out. He cursed himself internally a beat later. John had already made one life-changing decision in the last day. He probably still needed some time to accept that he was leaving the Church, before their relationship got any more serious. If John even wanted it to get serious.
"Okay," John said, drawing him out of his thoughts.
"Sorry?" Sherlock got out, rising up on his elbow to look at John.
"I said, okay," John repeated with a smile.
"You don't have to."
"Sherlock, you just asked me. Do you want to change your mind now?"
"Of course not," Sherlock said with a touch of petulance.
John laughed and pulled him into a gentle kiss, his fingers sliding into Sherlock's hair. Sherlock couldn't help but lean into it, caught up in the still-new taste of John.
"Is that it?" Sherlock asked, raising an eyebrow at the single small suitcase John had placed in the middle of the living room.
"What did you expect? Vow of poverty, remember."
"Of course," Sherlock said distractedly, suddenly caught up in a vicious bout of nerves. What if John hated living here? What if he grew to hate Sherlock, by being exposed to him so much?
"Sherlock?" John called, jolting him back to the present with a hand on his arm. "You looked like you were a million miles away."
John gave him a long hard look and then reached out to run his hands up Sherlock's arms. Even this small gesture was enough to make the hairs on the back of Sherlock's neck stand up.
"Sherlock, are you sure you're alright with this? I know it's a pretty big step... And we've only been together for three days."
"I want you here," Sherlock said fiercely, fisting his hands in John's jacket and pulling him close, relishing the freedom to touch. There was no way he was going to let John doubt how very badly Sherlock wanted him around every minute of every day.
"Good," John whispered with a soft smile - Sherlock's favourite - as he leaned into his embrace. "Because I want to be here very much."
Sherlock ducked his head and pressed his face against John's neck, breathing in the intoxicating scent of him.
"Let me show you the bedroom," he said in a low voice.
"I'm quite familiar with the bedroom," John answered, his voice rich with laughter as he smoothed a hand down Sherlock's back.
"I can assure you there have been several minute changes since you were last there."
"Since this morning," John interjected, pulling Sherlock's shirt out of his trousers and slipping his hand underneath.
John laughed and let himself be dragged along as Sherlock wound a path through the kitchen to his bedroom.
"I suppose I'll have to get a job," John said, running his fingers lazily up and down Sherlock's spine. Sherlock hummed noncommittally, enjoying the brush of John's warm hand over his skin.
"No idea where," John added, and Sherlock could practically hear the frown in his voice. Sherlock turned his head to find John staring into space, his hand coming to a stop in the middle of Sherlock's back.
"Why do you need a job?" Sherlock asked.
John started and turned towards Sherlock with a look of confusion.
"To earn a living, pay my own way."
"No need," Sherlock said, dropping his head onto the pillow again, eyes closing contentedly. "You'll be working with me."
"Do I get a choice in this?"
Sherlock tensed and opened his eyes, worried that he might have upset John. Luckily, John was smiling at him fondly.
"No," Sherlock said, fighting a smile. "I need an assistant. I need you."
"I'm hardly qualified."
"Nonsense. You studied medicine and you've been to a warzone. You're more qualified than half of Scotland Yard."
John smiled and bent to kiss Sherlock's shoulder.
"Thank you. But in all seriousness, I really should get a job of some kind. Even if it's just a few hours a week."
"Why?" Sherlock asked. It made no sense as far as he could see.
"Sherlock, I can't just be your live-in PA. Not even considering the fact that I don't expect you to pay me, I think we might need to spend a few hours apart once in a while."
Sherlock frowned again and rolled onto his side to face John.
"I don't see why."
"Sherlock, we've been together all of a few days. It's still new and exciting, but there's going to come a time when it's just... normal."
John smiled and reached out to lace their fingers together.
"And normal couples get sick of the sight of each other now and then. I wouldn't want you getting completely bored of me being underfoot."
"I'll never get bored of you," Sherlock said decidedly, wincing internally at how naive it made him sound.
"I hope not," John answered.
"Never," Sherlock repeated, pulling John in close and kissing him softly.
John leaned into the kiss for a moment, and then pulled away with a little hum.
"You're just trying to distract me now."
"Is it working?" Sherlock asked with a teasing smile, hooking his ankle over John's and manoeuvring him even closer.
"Always," John laughed, locking their mouths together.
"I thought I'd start a blog," John said.
After a long moment of silence, Sherlock opened his eyes to find John watching him with a warm smile.
"You look like an effigy when you lay like that," John said.
Sherlock moved his hands from their position pressed together against his lips. Somehow he always thought better that way. It was relaxing too.
"A blog, you said?" he prompted, turning towards where John sat at the desk, Sherlock's laptop open in front of him.
"Well, about me. Us... Actually, you mostly. The work you do."
Sherlock raised a single eyebrow and John flushed.
"Who'd want to read that?" Sherlock asked.
"Well... I don't really know. I suppose it's more for us. A record for us."
"John, there is a problem with this plan of yours."
"You couldn't even work out how to get on the Internet an hour ago," Sherlock said, trying hard not to smile. John's struggle with technology was surprisingly endearing.
"I clicked on the wrong thing," John explained defensively. "And then I couldn't get that screen to close and... I'm useless, aren't I?"
"Not at all," Sherlock said with a fond smile.
"Who doesn't know how to use a computer nowadays?" John sighed. "Ridiculous."
"Maybe you should stick to pen and paper," Sherlock suggested, leaning his head back on the sofa once more.
John gave a sigh and dropped his head back to stare at the ceiling.
"No, you're not. You're barely middle-aged," Sherlock pointed out reasonably.
"Don't remind me," John said, dropping his gaze to Sherlock again and giving a disgusted scoff. "Can you at least hurry up and turn thirty? Just looking at you makes me feel ancient."
"I'm afraid you'll have to wait another sixteen months."
John gave another scoff and ran a hand over his face.
"I don't know what you see in an old fart like me."
Sherlock turned his head to look at John and in that instant he could have given John a list of approximately fifty things. Instead, he pushed himself to his feet, climbed over the coffee table and wrapped his arms around John from behind.
"Hello," John said in a low voice.
"You're not old," Sherlock said, pressing his mouth to the back of John's neck. "And I can prove it."
"John," he gasped, arching into the solidity of John's body over his as John mouthed at the junction between shoulder and neck. Somehow John had happened on that sensitive spot only the second time they were together and now he had become an expert at reducing Sherlock to a trembling mess with a careful application of lips and tongue and teeth.
"Shh," John whispered, skimming a hand down Sherlock's side.
John had become quite adept at the physical side of their relationship surprisingly quickly, for a man who had been celibate for twenty years and who had - as far as Sherlock could deduce - only been with women before that (three, maybe four, in total; one high school girlfriend and the others at university). It was if twenty years without intimate contact had left John unquestionably a little touch-starved, and more than willing to make up for lost time.
Sherlock's attention was drawn abruptly back to John when a warm hand palmed him through his boxers - all that remained of his clothes. Sherlock let out a helpless groan and wrapped his arms around John, holding him close.
He could feel John's smile against his skin as John traced the line of his collarbone and then followed the curve of his pectoral with his mouth. Hot air washed over his nipple and Sherlock exhaled sharply, threading his fingers through what he could grab of John's hair. There was something about the way that John touched him that made him feel as if he'd been denied real contact until now. At least, he'd been denied this all-consuming, mind-numbing intensity before and in the back of his addled mind he vaguely marveled that someone with so little experience could reduce him to incoherence so very easily.
John rolled the heel of his hand over the erection straining against Sherlock's boxers and his mouth dipped low onto Sherlock's stomach, full of intent. Sherlock let out a shaky breath and raised his head to look at John. John's eyes flicked up to his and he gave a sly smile as his tongue traced the skin just above Sherlock's waistband. The image alone made all his blood rush south.
"John," Sherlock got out in a choked voice. "You... You don't have to."
"Oh shut up," John said affectionately. "I know I don't have to. I want to."
John hooked his fingers under the fabric and tugged downwards, and all Sherlock could do was arch into the feel of that warm mouth, letting out a long, low moan.
Sherlock could tell John was smiling slightly smugly but he kept his eyes closed, enjoying a moment of quiet contentment.
"There you go," Sherlock said eventually.
"Hmm?" John mumbled from his sprawled position beside Sherlock.
"I'm pretty sure old people don't have spontaneous sex at three in the afternoon."
John huffed out a laugh.
"Most old people don't have gorgeous young whippersnappers like you in their beds."
"Whippersnapper...? Really, John."
Sherlock turned his head and smiled warmly before letting it roll back and closing his eyes once more. It may have been the middle of the afternoon, but he would have been quite happy to fall asleep right then and there.
The idea was instantly dismissed at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Too heavy to be Mrs. Hudson's. Too quick to be Mycroft. Only one other person would be calling at this time and coming upstairs alone.
"Sherlock?" Lestrade called out a moment later. John had apparently been dozing as he started with a jerk and raised a slightly sleepy, confused face to Sherlock.
"I suppose I'll have to see what he wants," Sherlock said with a sigh, sliding out of bed and moving to pull on his dressing gown. He could feel John watching him and he turned back to give him a knowing smile, before heading out into the kitchen.
The DI ducked his head around the kitchen partition and gave Sherlock a once-over.
"Were you in bed?" Lestrade asked with a frown, coming into the kitchen.
"What do you want?" Sherlock said, ignoring the question.
"Missing child case. I could use your help."
"It's always someone in the family."
"Yeah, well this little boy's an orphan. Can you come?"
"Fine,” Sherlock agreed. “Let me just get dressed and... get my assistant."
As if on cue, John appeared from the bedroom, now fully dressed. Lestrade turned to face John with a look of bewilderment, then looked back and forth between Sherlock and John several times. Sherlock could practically hear the cogs grinding.
"You remember John,” Sherlock said.
“Yeah. Hi,” Lestrade got out in a stutter. “Hello, Father.”
“Just John,” John reminded him. “No ‘Father’ about it any more.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes and moved towards the bedroom.
“I’ll just be a minute,” he called to Lestrade, smiling as he passed John.
Sherlock picked out the first clothes he could find in his wardrobe and started pulling them on, listening out for any noise next door.
“So...” Lestrade said after a long silence. “You and Sherlock... you’re...”
“Together?” John finished for him. “Yes.”
“I didn’t think your lot were, uh, approving of that sort of thing,” Lestrade commented.
Sherlock himself would have probably gotten angry with Lestrade at this point and made a cutting comment about his wife having another affair, but John seemed to be quite calm when he answered.
“Priests or Catholics in general? ‘Cause either way, no, not really.”
Sherlock quickly finished and strode back out into the kitchen, breaking the rather awkward tension.
Lestrade nodded and led the way out of the kitchen. With a quick glance over his shoulder, John followed with Sherlock close behind, one hand pressed against the small of his back.
Halfway to the scene, Lestrade got a call to tell him that the missing boy had been found, but there was no trace of the kidnapper and the boy was refusing to speak. Lestrade quickly detoured to the crime scene, at an abandoned warehouse, and grudgingly got the forensic technicians out of the way to let Sherlock work. Sherlock whirled around the small office, examining the makeshift bed where the boy had slept, the crumbs of food left behind, the toy robot abandoned on the covers. There was one large muddy footprint by the desk, and a tiny smudge of paint on the desk itself. All of the clues, all the things Lestrade had told him on the way, were flying around in his mind, searching for the right connection. There had to be - Oh.
“Inside job,” he spoke up to the silent room. “There’s a handyman at the orphanage. Likes children. Not in that way, wants to be friends with them. This little boy...”
“Robert,” Lestrade said.
“Yes. He was being bullied. He wanted a way out, wanted a place to hide.”
“I swear to God, Sherlock, if you’re making this up-”
“Just find the handyman,” Sherlock interrupted. “Talk to him. He’ll confess everything.”
Lestrade looked at him for a long time and then finally gave a nod and left the room, shouting orders at his team. Sherlock rose from his crouch to find John watching him with something like awe.
“Brilliant,” John whispered.
Sherlock blinked, overcome with a fierce wave of want . He wanted this. He wanted John by his side at crime scenes; wanted John to always look at him like that - like he was a miracle.
“You are... incredible,” John said, stepping close now that the room was empty.
Sherlock found the words he wanted to say stuck in his throat and, instead, he dipped his head and kissed John hard. This - just this - John and the puzzles, the work - was all he ever wanted.