On his own terms. On his own terms, Mr. Holmes said.
Ha, what an idea. Now he really did have to say or show it on his own terms, because Sherlock deleted his memory. He deleted the entire conversation John knows he probably heard the two men had concerning him.
That makes this difficult.
Sherlock just saved his life, came to his rescue, and John can't even say, 'Thank you, Sherlock' let alone, 'God, I just love you, Sherlock,' like he wants to. And is it weird? It is strange, loving a machine, isn't it? Plenty of people love their phones, their laptops, their appliances that keep their daily lives running.
But Sherlock isn't like those things. He has thoughts, feelings. They are programmed to run a certain way, that much is true, but other than that, he is, essentially, human. Part of him is. Not physically, but – but it's there. His humanity is there. And John fell in love with that. With his personality, with his cleverness, with his humanity. He loves Sherlock's "heart," in a manner of speaking.
So it can't be that hard, can it? To just… come out and say it, to get is off his chest and to benefit Sherlock, much like Mr. Holmes implied.
"Right," John sighs to himself.
Since his near-death experience (but that isn't new), Sherlock invades John's personal space a lot more than he has previously. In fact, John thinks his personal bubble has diminished to near to nothing in the past week. He was gone for two days of it, but after he came home, he hasn't been quite the same.
Sherlock, even now, is huddled up close to John's side, knees drawn up to his chest, fingers idly fiddling with the loose threads on the bottom of John's jumper.
John sighs, mutes the telly, and sets aside the remote. "All right, Sherlock, what is it?"
"What do you mean?" Sherlock puzzles innocently enough. "I'm not distracting you, am I? The telly is rubbish anyway. I will never understand the entertainment humans gain from it. Knowledge, like the news, is one thing. But that are you even watching?"
"Never mind that, you dolt," John says with a frown, "I want to know what you're doing, being so absurdly close to me lately, and touching me in any small way you can. I'm not going to disappear, you know."
"Oh, I know that," Sherlock says with a roll of his eyes. "You can't up and vanish. That is scientifically impossible."
"Some might argue your existence is the same," John replies. "Being a walking, talking, thinking android and all. Most people think that sort of technology only exists in graphic novels and films, not to be created until at least another fifty years or more."
"Touché," Sherlock permits. He ceases his idle fingering of John's threads and extends his hands before him. "I asked my father for a favor, and he finally delivered. He said he'd been working on it for a while, but finally was able to construct it for my model. For Mycroft's, too, but he declined, saying he had no use for it."
"For what? Is there something new in your hands, like a built-in handgun or something?" John muses, thinking mostly of Inspector Gadget, and half the cyborgs he's seen portrayed in other things. But then, cyborgs are different; they, at least, still have human body parts in them.
"Nothing violent," Sherlock replies with a smile. He turns and touches a hand to John's face. "I can feel that. Your exact body temperature was always data-recordable, like a dead body's for my work, but now I can sense it. I can feel the warmth. And the texture of your skin. It's been made translatable through tiny sensors in my hands and various other major points of sensation that feed information to my 'brain.' Isn't it remarkable?"
John is dumbstruck for a second, but he's soon laughing. "So that's why you've been especially touchy-feely the past few days! You were trying out your new feature. Is that why, too, you've been picking up random things and examining them even though you've had them for ages?"
"Yes," Sherlock says with a shrug. "Wasn't it obvious?"
John shakes his head, smiling. "Not to me. But now that I know, it doesn't bother me."
"May I touch your hair, then? I want to know if it differs from my own."
"All hair does, so go ahead." John's amused. He leaves the telly muted and shifts to face Sherlock.
The detective leans in and brings a hand up to ruffle John's hair slowly, fingers curling to touch scalp. He pinches and rubs a few strands between his fingers and feels the texture difference between the graying blond hairs and the more golden ones. A smile creeps onto his face without his realizing it, and he feels oddly content.
John doesn't so much as blink when Sherlock's other hands joins the first, running down through John's hair to touch his face, his throat, the contrast between clothing and bare skin.
Sherlock hums, clearly interested, and seems to be calculating and evaluating each sensation in his head. John chuckles soundlessly, shoulders bobbing. Sherlock cocks a brow. "What?"
"Nothing. Just you. You're like a baby finally escaped from the crib, eager to touch everything it can because it's curious," John remarks.
Sherlock's cheeks puff up. "I am not at all like a human baby," he protests, but even so, his face falls into a marveled expression as he rolls up John's sleeves and feels the hairs on his arm, the wrinkle of the crook of his elbow, the tendons in his hand. Then, he blinks, and his eyes flash with a glitter of light, like pixels flying across a digital sky, and something seems to activate within him.
"Sherlock?" John asks, Sherlock's hands locked like iron on John's wrist and arm, but it doesn't hurt. Sherlock isn't squeezing.
"Pardon me, John, but –" and he severs his words to look into John's eyes, then lean forward and press a kiss to John's lips, perfectly aligned, like a cog fitting where it was crafted to. "I love you," he announces as plainly as he might say, 'I like cats' or 'The weather is beautiful today.' As if it's a fact.
John isn't sure how to take it. And he is even less sure how it came to pass that Sherlock said it before he did. He takes it in stride, smiling slowly, cupping Sherlock's face. He decides to reply, because it's the truth, regardless of whether or not Sherlock's statement is a running program or also true. "I love you, too," he says, and he gingerly pecks Sherlock's lips.
Sherlock wraps his arms around John then, leaning into him, the sofa creaking slightly from the amount of weight shifted so suddenly to one side. He doesn't say a word. He feels a little heavier than before. But John holds him steady, keeps them both from falling off the side of the sofa.
"You've done it, my lad, you've done it! I received the wireless transmission yesterday that the full potential of the H.E.A.R.T. program was accessed! I knew you could do it. Thank you. He'll be more considerate, now. More human. At least for you. Not anyone else, mind, but at least you. It's wonderful," Mr. Holmes rings John's mobile phone the following day.
John hardly has time to say much before the man hangs up again, leaving John with a stupid grin on his face.
It's not very different. Sherlock is a little more affectionate, John is in return, but other than that, they are the same friends as always; there is just more love there. More care. More than there ever was. And Sherlock isn't intimidated by it, rolls with it like he would the ocean waves.