Limerence is a term coined c. 1977 by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe an involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated.
Sherlock could feel eyes on him. And he knew whose eyes they were.
He looked up from his laptop, and caught John's gaze, but his flatmate hurriedly hid his face behind today's newspaper. Sherlock could see John's ears flush pink, and chewed the inside of his cheek in contemplation as he considered the current situation between himself and his only friend.
Things had gotten...interesting between them recently. There hadn't been a significant incident or specific moment in time that could connote the change in their dynamic, but for the last month it had been almost tangible how they had become something that "friendship" did not quite cover.
In the five years that Sherlock had known John (including the three years where Sherlock had been pansying across the globe, which neither of them liked to think about), there had always been insinuations and implications about the true nature of their relationship, and if Sherlock was perfectly honest, he had never really understood what people meant by "platonic soul mates" until he met John Watson. Not even the likes of Irene Adler or James Moriarty could tempt him into a life without John, and he truly believed he had found the man he would grow old with.
And that had been fine; John and he would remain friends until they died. The most likely scenario was that John would get married a couple of times, but essentially they were friends for life, and when Sherlock finally died, it would be the thought of his one true friend in his mind.
But the constitution had shifted now, and the silences were now awkward as neither of them dared address it- lingering stares and touches, quiet and subdued voices, each stepping more cautiously around the other, unsure about how to treat this new facet of their friendship that they had never experienced before.
Sherlock had had his first erotic dream in twenty years three weeks ago.
In the dream he had been in a field that he barely recognised- it looked similar to those found near Oxford that he used to walk through as a student- and he had been ambling through tall grass. He had been wearing cream coloured linen (linen- that's how he knew it was a dream) and had Mycroft's umbrella in his hand. He was barefoot, but the grass underfoot was soft, and as he walked invisible hands seemed to grab at his ankles. It was then explained why he had the umbrella, as he used it to beat away the grabbing hands. Unfortunately, though, there were too many hands, and he tripped and fell, as high-pitched laughter cackled as he fell, fell, fell. Then it was dark, but there were stars up in the sky up above. He lay on his back in the grass, blinking up at the star-spangled dome. Then, there was a bright light, like a flood light, and he squinted against it as a blindingly brilliant figure descended from the stars, wrapped in dazzling woollen...jumpers.
John was beside him in an instant, pulling him up to a sitting position, and somehow, as is wont with dreams, managed to procure more white wool to swathe Sherlock in. It smelt of a familiar musk and antiseptic and tea, and Sherlock wrapped his arms around John, and they snuggled into the warmth together. John began pressing kisses to Sherlock's neck, and Sherlock's subconscious directed him to kiss his lips, and the dream acquiesced, and Sherlock was kissing John, and it had all been so...so...vivid. Heat and warmth and slick and safe.Strong hands, so vastly different to the multiple hands that had endeavoured to trip him and make him fall from earlier, ran along Sherlock's shoulders, which were suddenly bare, and down his arms, so that their fingers entwined. Sherlock was pushed onto his back, as he peered up into John's eyes, which were shining like headlamps. The army doctor smiled at him, and Sherlock's heart was beating loudly. A heavy weight pressed against him as John lay on him, and Sherlock arched into the comforting weight, baring his throat and tightening his hands around hard, durable fingers, whispering into the dream a weak "John!" that was swallowed by the beautiful night sky...
At that point Sherlock had woken up because he didn't know what was supposed to happen next. Thirty nine years old and not a single sexual experience to talk of, it was almost funny! Of course, it could also be because he had fallen asleep on the sofa, where Gladstone slept, and the dumb dog chose that moment to curl up on Sherlock's chest.
"Gladstone!" Sherlock had complained groggily, pushing the dog off of him. "I was sleeping!"
He decided not to confide in the dog that he had disturbed a very pleasant dream, and neither to address the slight problem Sherlock was suffering down below. Gladstone simply licked his hand and expected stroking.
Then there was John's behaviour. A month of skirting around Sherlock like he was a bomb about to go off, coupled with his secretive and avoiding manner as if Sherlock might read his thoughts were more than enough clues for Sherlock to deduce that John was experiencing a similar situation to himself.
Now, a month in, and Sherlock was close to breaking point. He was not a well disciplined man- as much as he ribbed Mycroft for his weight problems, his brother had passed the marshmallow test, and Sherlock had not- and had serious issues with drugs. He was a recovering cocaine addict, he couldn't cope without caffeine every day, he often depended on nicotine in large quantities and battled with the cravings for cigarettes every waking moment, he had an adrenaline fixation and had many compulsions that he had to surrender to, so the enticing sight of John Watson blushing like a fool as Sherlock completed a menial task or asked him to pass the salt was really stretching Sherlock's boundaries.
He wasn't afraid to admit it- he was utterly lost and completely clueless when it came to romance. He knew about seduction; he knew all about seduction, and that was even beforeThe Woman and her bloody riding crop came along, for Sherlock Holmes was a highly sensual creature who knew one's erogenous zones as soon as he looked at you, and furthermore, could arouse a person with a single look. Sherlock knew about the mechanics of sex and he knew about the pattern of actions people did to attract a mate, but in terms of emotional investment, Sherlock knew next to nothing.
Additionally, Sherlock had a particularly low libido which had only recently been stimulated by a certain ex-soldier, but otherwise Sherlock did not crave sex like his male peers. In fact, if he were to pursue a sexual relationship with John, it wouldn't be the love making that he would look forward to most. Sherlock had never had an intimate relationship before, and it was intimacy that he would crave, not sex. He would crave ultimate companionship and he would crave the liberty that came from worshipping somebody who had dragged him from his existence of selfish and arrogant egotism. John had done such dragging- this wonderful, astonishing man had proven to Sherlock that caring was an advantage, and Sherlock had never felt so advantageous.
The only problem now was how to address the quivering tension that was pulled taut between both of their bodies.
Sherlock glanced back up from his laptop screen. John was staring again.
This time, however, he didn't startle and hide behind his newspaper.
They held each other's gaze, neither blinking nor looking away, and Sherlock swallowed thickly.
"Tea?" he managed to ask in a tone that passed for nonchalant.
John cleared his throat and averted his gaze. "Alright."
Sherlock heaved himself off the sofa and all but ran to the kitchen. He methodically began preparing two mugs of tea and boiling the water. His teeth were chattering, but it wasn't cold. He leant against the counter and watched as the water began boiling, bubbling faster and faster.
"We've run out of sugar."
Sherlock jumped about a mile and whipped round to find John standing inches away from him. He got the intense sensation of being caged as he backed up against the counter and bent his neck to look into John's eyes.
"O-oh," he stammered. "Never mind."
"You like adding half a ton of sugar, don't you?" John said quietly, smiling.
"Hmm," Sherlock said noncommittally, hastily looking somewhere other than John's lips. The temptation was excruciating. How easy would it be just to seize him and force John to kiss him? To make the dream a reality? The air seemed thicker around them. It was harder to breathe. Sherlock had to instruct his lungs to expand and collapse, in order to keep the oxygen supply at a suitable level for his brain to function, although, judging by the quality of his thoughts, the oxygen supply was doing little to help...
"I'll go out tomorrow and buy some for you," John whispered, and there was intense heat as his breath cascaded across Sherlock's throat. Sherlock screwed shut his eyes and tried to collect himself together in a manner that wouldn't come across as helplessly needy or aroused.
"Okay," he managed, and flinched when John brushed a hand down his arm, then reached behind Sherlock to take a mug. Then he stepped away, and the air cleared, and Sherlock's pulse returned to normal. John walked to the other counter adjacent, and took the kettle to pour water into his mug. It was such a trivial, ordinary action, and Sherlock wanted to throw something at John for having this sort of effect on him
He took the opportunity with John's back turned to flee to his bedroom.
As soon as the door closed, he flung himself facedown onto his bed, and exhaled heavily into the duvet.
"Damn you, John Watson," he mumbled, pressing his face harder into the covers.
John came with a grunt, but in doing so managed to inhale some of the water from the shower up his nose.
He coughed and spluttered, as he tried not to think about the fact that he had just masturbated to the thought of his flatmate in the shower for the fifth time this week. Things were getting out of control.
John had always considered himself a very liberal and open sort of fellow, and had on many an occasion had more than one liaison with men in his youth. Never before, though, had he been so attracted to a man as he was to Sherlock Holmes. The word "attraction" was particularly accurate, seeing as John inexplicably lured into Sherlock's explosion of life whether he wanted it or not. He couldn't help it- they may be polar opposites, but John was magnetised by Sherlock.
And it was slowly causing him to lose his mind.
There was no denying that everybody was attracted to Sherlock. Man or woman, gay or straight. Sherlock was the epitome of sexuality- a body built for sex and one of the most alluring minds John had ever encountered. The automatic response, when one looked at Sherlock, was I must copulate with him. Even John, with his mental fragility and spasmodically dodgy leg, had felt it when he first clapped eyes on the man for the first time in St Bart's. Of course, John was an evolved and intelligent man. He didn't simply jump on attractive strangers that he happened to see in the street. And anyway, John preferred his sexual partners to have personalities attached to the body.
So there lay the mightiest conundrum- Sherlock Holmes held the most captivating and fascinating personality John could imagine, and he was besotted. Not to mention the alien face and magical hair that begged for John to stroke and pet, alongside the athletic body, and almost feminine planes of flesh that John wanted to touch and hold and adore, just to prove to Sherlock how much he owed the detective, how much he wanted to thank him, to please him, and to guarantee John's everlasting devotion and loyalty...
John sighed heavily, and got out of the shower.
Sherlock was out today, at the lab at Bart's.
John didn't think he could take much longer of this. They were dancing around each other constantly, and sometimes John was certain Sherlock was doing it to wind him up, to tempt him, and by God, he was sure on one thing; if he didn't get a grip of himself soon, he would do something he might regret.
The thing was that John knew Sherlock knew. They both knew. They both knew that eventually, one of them would crack. One of them would break this little game they were playing, and act on their feelings. John was terrified that it would be he who would break first, and Sherlock, being the infallible android that he was, would rebuke him with a pitiless laugh, and claim the game to be his victory. He was terrified that Sherlock could accept his actions, and they would disembark the vessel of friendship, and begin a journey that could only either end in tears or in death, depending on which came first.
When John was alone in the flat, it was just about manageable. The hot air that seemed to permeate his skin whenever they were within ten feet of each other dissipated, and John had space to breathe. His brain was able to reboot and think for a change, rather than simply chanting the same mantra over and over in time with his heartbeats. Sherlock. Sherlock. Sherlock. Sherlock.
When John was alone in the flat, he allowed himself a few foolish hours of believing that he could do this. He could live his life without the risk of attacking his friend every time he saw him. Such blissfully foolish hours they were.
These peaceful moments crashed and burned as soon as Sherlock returned, and John resumed his usual struggle to stop himself from becoming aroused every time he accidentally caught Sherlock's gaze. Normally John prided himself on being a very resilient and strong-willed man. Whilst his father had gambled away his savings, Harry had drowned herself in a bottle, and his mother chugged her way through five packs a day, John was proud to be the steadfast soldier with a good (ish) pension, enough savings, a drug free body, and a clear thoughtful mind. So why were his hands trembling like a crackhead on withdrawal? Why was his skin itching for just another excuse to touch Sherlock's pale skin? Why were crystal sharp images of a gorgeous body and pervading eyes infiltrating his every waking thought? Even in his sleep, John was not liberated! Night after night, fantasies of handfuls of virgin flesh and forcing obscene noises from a throat that only ever emitted carefully thought out words and sequiturs filled his dreams.
John ambled into his bedroom, and collapsed onto his bed in defeat.
"For the love of God," he moaned into his pillow. "Sherlock, I can't do this."
There was no reply.
They were on a case.
Lestrade fidgeted nervously as he watched his two consultants discuss the cause of death of a corpse at their feet. They were in a mangy back alley in Lewisham, and yet somehow,somehow, these two men managed to make the place crackle with tension like some sort of exclusive brothel. Lestrade thought that the air itself was thicker, and soft, hot breezes whistled past him, whispering things that sounded like "Sex" in his ears.
"Sex! Seeeeex! Seex!"
Lestrade shook himself. He realised that he really ought to get laid soon. Since the divorce, there hadn't even been a hopeful prospect of finding somebody, and watching these two idiots flounder around each other was doing nothing to help him.
Sherlock was talking very rapidly, his eyes glued on John's face. John was standing a few inches away from him, craning his neck upwards to gape at Sherlock in unadulterated wonder and amazement. It was disgusting. Their chests kept brushing, and Lestrade could see Sherlock's fingers trailing down John's wrist. This was bordering on indecent.
"What have you got for me?" he interrupted awkwardly, stepping forward in a bid to stop this ridiculous display of attraction occurring in his crime scene.
Sherlock snapped his attention to Lestrade, and the temperature dropped a few degrees.
John stepped away. Sherlock's pupils contracted and his stare became more focussed and less...dreamy.
It was no longer two men seducing each other whilst examining a corpse. It was, thankfully, once again just a mangy back alley in Lewisham.
Lestrade felt like he could breathe more easily.
"I was just telling John," Sherlock said quietly, and his voice was so low it made Lestrade's stomach flip, "that clearly she had her head bashed in with a clothes iron. A Bosch steam iron, going by the indents. New brand, quiet expensive. It's a woman's weapon, so go question the sister."
Lestrade swallowed thickly, and nodded. He turned to leave, unable to bear the atmosphere hugging the two men, and retreated back to the police barrier. The acerbic exudate of Donovan would be able to quell any sort of arousal instigated by Sherlock Holmes and his John Watson.
He spared a glance over his shoulder in time to see Dr Watson physically push Sherlock up against the wall. Their situation was reaching a crisis point, Lestrade realised, and made a mental note to change his bet on the poll Gregson was holding to sometime this week. Sally and Anderson both had next month, Jenkins had a week on Tuesday, but if the way John was gripping Sherlock's wrists as he muttered in the taller man's ear was anything to go by, they would be shagging within seven days, tops.
Lestrade had been collating much evidence (he may not be Sherlock Holmes, but he was a detective inspector, for Christ's sake!) over the last two months that indicated the level of sexual tension between his friends was beginning to boil over. It had always been there, right from the beginning. Lestrade had watched as Sherlock swirled around, showing off more than ever, always glancing at John to make sure he was watching, and Lestrade realised that the little boy he had met five years before was no longer a cocaine addled man-child, but a person who had found their missing piece.
"Sally, if I were you, I'd change your date," he murmured to her, accepting a cup of Starbucks. He jerked his head towards the alley John and Sherlock were currently in, and Sally leaned over to get a better look.
"Oh yes," she muttered. "It's getting worse than ever, isn't it?"
"I can hardly breathe around them," Lestrade admitted.
"Don't know why they're doing this," Sally cringed as Sherlock and John emerged, both rather red in the face. "Why don't they just come clean with each other? Why all this dithering?"
Lestrade shrugged. "Maybe it's the world's longest foreplay session."
Sally just smirked.
Mycroft felt highly foolish.
As a very prominent member of the British Government, and quite possibly the most intelligent man on the planet, he felt that he should have foreseen this.
Mummy was giving him the driest and wriest smile he'd ever received in his life, and it was all because of his pesky little brother who was almost undressing John from across the table with his eyes.
Christmas dinner had always been intolerable, but this year it was particularly excruciating. Sherlock had only come under the condition that John could come too, and naturally Mycroft acquiesced, but he had no idea that his brother and his flatmate had reached a point in their relationship where they were literally moments away from ripping each other's clothes off in a fervent flurry of temptation and lust.
Sherlock was sitting to Mycroft's left, leaning forward to get closer to his flatmate, and John was sitting opposite him, next to Mummy. There were other guests around the table also, but they may as well have been invisible to Sherlock, who was eyeing John up like a prize to be won.
It was putting Mycroft off his Yule log.
Mycroft had always contented himself with the knowledge that Sherlock was strictly asexual. It meant he didn't have to worry about his little brother being promiscuous or lax with contraception, and best of all, it meant he didn't have to deal with questions like "What is an orgasm?" and "What do vibrators do?" when they were younger. It was quite a relief, and Mycroft slept soundly at night knowing that his baby brother would most likely always remain a virgin.
Now, Mycroft got the greatest sense of being dirty simply by being in close proximity to his brother. Sherlock was staring intently at John, who was blushing and fidgeting, whilst he rubbed his thumb up and down his spoon in a suggestive manner, licking his teeth, one eyebrow raised shamelessly.
Mycroft cleared his throat, as Mummy looked close to bursting out laughing, and Sherlock glanced at him irritably. "Shall we proceed into the living room?"
Mummy agreed, and they all stood up. Mycroft hurried out of the dining room, not wanting to witness any more of the blatant seduction recommencing between the consulting detective and his assistant.
Well, Mycroft thought deprecatingly to himself, if it should be anyone, it should be John Watson.
As soon as he was in the living room, he was able to breathe clearly, and to eradicate the sensation of having something heavy resting upon his skin.
The game had gotten too far, this time.
John was not prepared to see this happen. Again.
He had vowed, once Sherlock had returned from the dead, that he would never watch his friend die ever again, but this particular case was proving to test the limits of his vow.
Drug lords always attested themselves to be complicated and devious; desperate to remain hidden, and prepared to go to any lengths to ensure their anonymity. Which was why Sherlock now found himself choking to death, a gun pressed to his head, as a tall man whom they didn't know the true name of yelled at John to stay away. John had only just caught up with Sherlock, who had been missing for most of the day.
"Keep away, and I don't shoot!" the man shrieked, and John stiffened as he saw the man squeeze the trigger fractionally.
Sherlock was spluttering for breath, tugging uselessly at the man's stronger grip around his throat, his eyes rolling backwards as his lips turned white.
John was panicking. He didn't have his gun, and Lestrade was always late anyway...
He raised his hands into the air, and backed away a few steps.
Please, God, let him live...
"You fucking meddlers!" the man screamed, spit flying from his mouth, and John could tell he too was panicking. "I'll blow his fucking head off!"
"I'm staying away!" John yelled back, half in anger, half in terror.
Sherlock was growing limp in the man's iron grip. His eyelids fluttered, and he managed a croak that sounded suspiciously like "John!" but his fingers were becoming weak around the other man's arm. He had surpassed the blotchy red that came with oxygen deprivation, and was now fast turning white and bloodless...
"I swear to God," the man was still ranting, delirious, "I will kill you all! Motherfucking shites, you think you can come here and fuck with me?"
John so desperately wanted to reply yes! but reigned it in. He took a tentative step towards the man, hands still outstretched in a defensive stance, keeping his eyes locked on Sherlock.
This was not how things were supposed to end. From the looks of it, the events of tonight would not conclude gladly. If Lestrade did not arrive soon to negotiate with this madman, then someone was going to get very hurt.
"Just let him go, and we'll leave you alone," John said in his calmest voice.
The man snorted. "Oh please! You think I don't know who this is? You think I don't know what reward I'll get if I kill him? I also know he's the only one who can track me down. I'm better off with him dead!"
He jerked Sherlock upwards and re-aimed the gun at his temple. John reflexively jumped forward with a gasp of "No!" on his lips, but the man did not shoot.
Suddenly there was a pattering of feet behind him, and John whirled around. Lestrade was running towards them, but froze when he comprehended the situation.
"Blackwell, you're surrounded," Lestrade panted. "Let him go, and we won't charge you for assault, kidnap and intent to kill."
Blackwell, the man's real name it seemed, was shaking visibly. Sherlock twitched a few times, and then fell limp; he'd passed out. John's heart was beating loudly in his ears, and his vision had gone hazy, tinged with red. His hands were balled into fists, and he wanted nothing more than to jump at Blackwell and tear him limb from limb. He wanted to hear the man scream and cry and beg, to see him bleed and to watch him suffer. Nobody touched Sherlock Holmes and got away with it...
Blackwell's eyes were darting about, looking for an escape.
"Let him go," Lestrade said firmly.
Blackwell's lower lip started to tremble. His eyes were wide and desperate. He loosened his grip on Sherlock, who fell to the ground, prostrate.
Lestrade took another step forward, still defensive, and John was close behind.
"Now, just drop your weapon-"
Blackwell panicked. He lifted the gun to his own head and shot. Both John and Lestrade yelled out in shock, as a spray of blood hit the wall behind Blackwell.
"Fuck!" Lestrade shouted, and rushed towards the man. Suddenly there were police everywhere, coming in from the shadows. John neither noticed nor cared. He was beside Sherlock in an instant.
"Sherlock?" he gasped, "Oh, god."
Sherlock was breathing shallowly, and John rearranged him into a better position, checking his pulse, which was dangerously weak, and smoothing back his hair.
He heard Lestrade yell out again. "Oh, God! John! John, come quick! He's not dead."
"What?" John exclaimed, twisting his neck to look at the mass of police officers surrounding Blackwell. "He shot himself in the head, Lestrade!"
"Yeah, he didn't do a very good job of it," Lestrade yelled back sardonically. "John!"
John left Sherlock's side reluctantly, and pushed his way through the barrage of police officers. He'd seen some horrifyingly frightening sights before, so the image of Blackwell, flat on his back, one side of his face ripped off, and panting minutely, only managed to stir a whit of sympathy and disgust. Blackwell's eyes were flickering in abject agony, and the left side of his jaw was nonexistent. Blood was everywhere. Tiny, breathy moans were coming from his throat, out of his destroyed mouth, almost inaudible. They were meant to be screams.
"He has moments left, Lestrade," John said impassively. "I can't do anything."
Blackwell's eyes fixed on John, and John could recognise begging, pleading in their depths. The dying man's right hand stretched out pitifully.
"What does he want?" Lestrade asked.
John scanned his eyes across the bloody figure. Blackwell was reaching for his gun, which was two feet out of his grasp on the floor. He wanted to finish the job properly, instead of dying slowly and painfully.
John's gaze wandered over to Sherlock, who was still slumped on the floor.
"No idea," he said in a blank tone. "Someone pick up his gun. It's important evidence."
Blackwell let out a ghostly groan of anguish as John moved away, but John felt nothing.
Nobody touched Sherlock Holmes and got away with it...
Sherlock awoke to the smell of fresh linen and intense heat.
It took him a moment to realise he was in his bed, with the soft duvet tucked around his chin, and a gentle yellow light was filtering in through his curtains. He blinked, focussing his eyes, and retracted an arm from under the covers to rub a hand across his face.
His neck was aching, and he had a splitting headache. He groaned and pushed the duvet off of himself, unable to take the heat. Someone had put him in his pyjamas.
The door opened, and Sherlock froze as John came in.
They stared at each other for a moment. Sherlock's body gave a noticeable shiver, and he felt himself break into a sweat.
"Are you okay?" John asked quietly, shutting the door behind him. Sherlock got the sensation of being caged in like an animal.
"What happened to Blackwell?"
John rolled his eyes. "He's dead."
Sherlock was stunned for a moment. That went against his theory of Blackwell's character, but more specifically, he was interested in the expressionless way John spoke of his death.
"Who killed him?"
"He killed himself."
The silence fell over them again, as they simply stared at each other.
"How unoriginal," Sherlock muttered, as John looked intently at him.
He stepped towards the bed, and Sherlock sat up straighter. His pulse was echoing in his head, and he swallowed thickly.
"How are you?" John asked again, this time more firmly.
"F-fine," Sherlock managed to say quietly.
John reached over with his left hand, and Sherlock visibly flinched. John paused for a moment, before continuing. A hot hand pressed against Sherlock's throat, and he stopped breathing.
"Relax," John said quietly. Solid fingers felt against Sherlock's neck. "Tell me when it hurts."
Sherlock exhaled shakily, and closed his eyes, letting John compress the muscles of his neck. Heat was blossoming from every touch, and it felt as if a thousand needles were puncturing his skin as John's hand pressed at his neck.
"There," he breathed, as John felt a particularly painful bruise.
"Here?" John asked, focussing on that point.
John's right hand came to tilt Sherlock's head back so that he could access that part of his neck. His fingers entangled in Sherlock's hair as he supported his head, and Sherlock's palms became sticky, tingling as the capillaries filled with blood.
Sherlock opened his eyes, and John was right in front of him, staring into his eyes again. Sherlock was not used to having to look up at John, and it made him feel vulnerable. His pulse had accelerated, and John could feel it. He moved his fingers to rest directly over Sherlock's jugular, and Sherlock gulped again.
"I think you'll be alright," John murmured. "Go back to sleep."
Sherlock nodded dumbly, as John gently lowered him onto his back, but he did not remove his hands from Sherlock's head and neck. Sherlock shifted against the mattress, blinking up at John who was leaning over his body, and tried to control his breathing.
So much bodily contact was doing nothing for his self-restraint, and from the looks of it, neither for John's. Was this it? Was it going to happen now?
John's eyes travelled over Sherlock's body, and he slid his hands down to Sherlock's shoulders, effectively pinning him down. He crawled up onto the mattress and Sherlock's heart rate skyrocketed.
"John?" he whispered.
"Hmm?" John replied, scooting forward so that he was propped up above Sherlock.
Their noses were three inches apart, and Sherlock could count each of John's freckles and eyelashes.
"Does that mean I win?" he breathed, arching up slightly.
John gave a small laugh, and pressed their left cheeks together. Flames exploded in Sherlock's chest, and he bent his elbows as much as he could with John's hands pressing his shoulders down, to grasp his biceps.
"Not yet," John muttered in his ear.
Suddenly it was cold. John dragged himself away, and the dip in the mattress retracted. Sherlock opened his eyes, even though he hadn't noticed he had closed them, and saw John stepping away, red in the face, pupils engorged, and exiting the bedroom.
"Goodnight, Sherlock!" he called from the kitchen.
Sherlock stuttered and gaped for a moment, before burying his face in the pillows with a cry of frustration, pulling the duvet up and over his head in an attempt to extinguish the fire that was burning on every surface of his body.
When Sherlock stumbled into the kitchen the following morning, he found John sitting at the table, sipping a cup of tea, and looking perfectly normal in a sensible jumper, a copy of The Guardian open in front of him.
Sherlock stood stationary, sizing John up. The army doctor glanced up at Sherlock, and continued reading the newspaper, giving an innocuous "Good morning," before swallowing some more tea.
God! Didn't he understand what he was doing to Sherlock? Was he purposefully making Sherlock's brain capsize and his whole body tremble? Was John really this cruel?
Sherlock didn't respond, but frowned, completely confused, clenching and unclenching his palms in abject aggravation, wanting to yell and shout and curse, but unable to move due to John's inexplicable strength over him, forcing him to simply stand and endure.
Sherlock let out a small noise of discontent, but if John heard it, he did not acknowledge it.
"I'm going to Harry's today," John said, once he'd finished his tea. "Will you be alright with Gladstone for a couple of days?"
Sherlock could not even respond. His heart was beating in his throat, and his brain had completely short circuited.
John put his tea cup in the sink, and folded up the newspaper. He then turned to Sherlock and gave a reassuring smile. "I'll be back on Friday. If we haven't killed each other by then."
Sherlock gave a stiff nod. The air on his skin was crackling, and he had the dual sensation of being burnt and frozen under John's stare.
"Okay," John smiled in a friendly manner. "My train is in half an hour. I better leave now."
"Have...fun," Sherlock gritted out.
A flash of what could have possibly been disappointment streaked across John's face, but it was gone in an instant. He turned away and headed for the stairs to, Sherlock presumed, get his bags.
Sherlock was motionless, his brain blank, his face unsmiling, as John called a last goodbye whilst lugging a holdall down the stairs. The smell of Darjeeling from John's tea was still thick in the air. The tease.
The front door banged shut, and, as if it were a cue, Sherlock leapt into action like he had been electrocuted. He didn't care if this meant he "lost". He couldn't stand this a moment longer.
"John!" he yelled, almost falling down the stairs, tripping on the belt of his dressing gown. He wrenched open the door, and stepped out. Cold pavement assaulted his toes and the soles of his feet, but he ignored it.
John was stepping into a cab as Sherlock burst into the street, and looked momentarily alarmed at the great flapping bird-detective approaching him in a flurry.
"I lose," Sherlock said breathily, his left arm leaning against the door to the cab, his right hand grabbing the collar of John's jumper.
Sherlock silenced him with a feverish, frenzied kiss. It was the sort of kiss that slowed time, and ended storms, but it was what the two men had been anticipating for a long time. A ringing filled Sherlock's ears, drowning out the sound of London around him, the sort of ringing you experience after being in an explosion, and the oxygen in his lungs dissolved into nothing, leaving him deaf, gasping and ablaze.
It took a second for John to reciprocate, but soon those strong, steady hands were curling around Sherlock's jaw, pulling him closer.
Sherlock could feel his blood pounding around his body, catching alight in the place where John was touching him, and for one glorious moment, everything was perfect.
He pulled away, and the spell was broken. John looked somewhere between shocked and blissful. He cleared his throat, and pressed his thumb to Sherlock's cheekbone before removing his hand.
"I lose," Sherlock repeated, "but you savour your victory at Harry's house with this." He grabbed the front of John's jeans uncouthly with a terrible smirk, relishing the squeak John emitted, and turned briskly on his heel, refraining from skipping back to the flat. "See you on Friday, John!"
He just caught the end of John's peal of curses as he closed the door to 221b behind him. Sherlock leant against it, and allowed himself to laugh, giddy with joy and with the sensation of John's lips still playing on his own.
Friday was going to be brilliant.