"That's it! I've had it!" John sneered, stomping up the seventeen stairs to their flat as he ripped free the buttons of his shirt.
"Had what?" Sherlock asked casually from behind him, obnoxiously keeping pace by skipping steps. Bloody infuriating long legs.
"It!" John snapped unhelpfully. He was way too frustrated to form a rational thought, let alone voice one.
When he reached the landing, he kicked open their door with a growl and barreled inside. Pulling his shirt free of his trousers, he shrugged it from his shoulders, balled it up, and chucked it in the kitchen bin. Great. And he'd liked that shirt, too.
"You'll have to be a bit more specific, John."
"I'm upset, damnit!" John went to the sink, flicked it on, and began scrubbing from his hands to his elbows. A flicker of memory of the many times he'd washed in a similar manner before a surgery flashed in his mind. He stomped it back down mercilessly.
"I can see that, though I still can't imagine why. The case was most enjoyable."
"Enjoyable?" John gritted out, shutting off the water with a fist and turning. A few droplets fell from his hands, splattering onto the floor. "The witness threw up on me."
Sherlock, who had removed his jacket and draped it over a forearm, leaned against the kitchen doorway. He looked entirely unsympathetic in a white shirt that was far tighter than it had any right to be.
"What does that matter? We solved the case and it was relatively engaging."
"Well, it wouldn't matter to you, would it? With your stupid, perfect, poncey, vomitless suit."
John stomped out of the kitchen, bumping into Sherlock's shoulder a little harder than necessary on the way, and plopped down in his chair. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and trying to wrangle in his irritation. When he felt remotely calm, he looked up to find Sherlock sitting in his own chair in front of him, his jacket hung over the armrest.
"John?" he asked flatly, gazing back at him.
"What?" John murmured, suddenly very aware that he was wearing nothing but a tight black undershirt and his jeans, far less than his usual attire. While he wasn't as fit as he used to be, running around London had done him a few favors, not to mention the bit of weight he'd shed from being sick. He could have looked better, but hey, who couldn't? 'Sherlock,' his mind offered unhelpfully. In fact, just then the detective chose to catch a particularly flattering shift of light, his cheekbones and smooth skin rendering him altogether otherworldly.
"Are you aware that you have vomit on your trousers as well?" Sherlock asked, shattering his admiration entirely.
John glanced down. The sick had, indeed, spattered more than he'd thought. He glared up at Sherlock with narrowed eyes.
Despite his withering ego, his agitation made him bold.
"Guess I'd better take them off then."
"That would be the logical choice."
"Maybe you should take them off for me," John suggested, hoping his attempt at a vaguely sultry tone didn't fall flat. He locked eyes on Sherlock's face, searching for a reaction, positive or negative, and found nothing.
"Why would I do that? You're perfectly capable of undressing yourself."
John let his head drop back against the chair, and sighed.
"Nevermind everything! That's what you're good at, anyways," John snapped, leaning forward, elbows on his knees, and meeting Sherlock's grey eyes. His aggravation swelled with a vengeance. "Tell me, why did you even bother kissing me in the first place if you had no intention of doing it again once we got back to the real world?"
Other than a minute twitch at the corner of his mouth, Sherlock's expression betrayed nothing.
"The real world?"
"You know what I mean. Once we were no longer bedridden and got back to cases."
Sherlock paused, frowning slightly.
"I've kissed you since then."
"Yeah, a little peck here or there, which I instigated."
"No, it's not. I'm talking about real kissing, like 'I have to shove you to the floor before I faint' kind of kissing."
"So, you admit that I made you faint," Sherlock said, smug in the extreme.
John glowered at him.
"And I do intend to kiss you like that again," Sherlock added, voice deep, quiet.
"Any idea when that might be? Should I write it into my retirement plan?"
"You have a retirement plan?"
"Not the point, Sherlock," John groaned, raking his still-damp fingers through his hair, likely rendering it ridiculously spiky, but he couldn't be bothered to care. At least it distracted from the vomit.
"We had a case. It's not as though I was ignoring you again. I made sure you participated in as much of the process as you usually—"
"Yes, I know, that's not what I'm talking about. We haven't…you haven't…for Christ's sake, we've barely even touched each other since we got better. That was weeks ago."
"Sherlock, I swear to God—"
"I thought you understood that the work took precedent. I couldn't very well push you against a wall at a crime scene and shove my hand down your-"
"I'm not asking you to!" John interrupted, holding up his hands in a halting gesture and trying not to blush himself silly. "I understand that I come second to the case. That's fine—"
"No, it is. I get it, I do. I know you. As long as you include me, it's all fine. But you could at least come to bed with me at night."
"I don't sleep much during cases, as you are well aware. What sleep I get, I like to have on the sofa so I can wake easily and return to my thoughts, to the evidence."
John buried his face in his hands, swallowing against the lump in his throat.
"I just don't see how this is going to work."
"This." John swished his hand back and forth between them, staring down at the floor. "I don't see how this is going to work."
He looked up at Sherlock in time to watch his jaw clench and his eyes go cold.
"You want to move out."
"What? No! Of course not. Why would you even think that? I just meant the whole…relationship thing." It wasn't what John wanted, of course not, but he was downtrodden, raw, and viciously sexually frustrated.
Sherlock released a slow breath through his nose, lips pursing slightly. His eyes, a crisp turquoise in the evening light, bore into John. While John should have been well accustomed to the scrutiny by now, it still cut into his chest and ripped him open like nothing else.
"Why did you even want a relationship with me anyway?" he asked quietly.
"You know why. I even made you a list. Perhaps you should read it again."
"I've read it plenty," John countered, and coughed. 'Plenty' was a bit of an understatement. He'd read that list, as well as Sherlock's other notes, every night since he and Sherlock had returned to case work. While he knew it was a bit teenage girl of him, he kept finding himself alone in bed, paranoid and touch-starved, the infamous notepad in hand. After a week, the words started to lose their appeal, warping in his mind into something riddled with subtext and hidden motives. He could probably recite the stupid notes by memory if need be.
"Good, then you understand." Sherlock flicked his wrist and settle back in the cushions, as though the conversation was over. John grimaced at the sight of him, realizing that honesty was his only option if he wanted Sherlock to truly hear him.
"No, I don't think I do. I feel…I feel like you only started this relationship thing to keep me from dating anyone else." Sherlock flinched. "Well, I do! If we can't act like…like we're in a relationship whenever you're on a case, and you fall into your black moods in between them, during which you barely speak, I just don't see how you'll ever find time to give me what I need in that regard. And if we never touch or kiss or do anything, then why bother? Why not just stay friends?" The back of John's throat burned as he finished speaking, though he thankfully managed to keep his voice from cracking.
Sherlock appeared to be contemplating John's words very intensely, his hands steepled and pressed against his mouth. His grey eyes darted, scanning over John. For the first time John wished he was still wearing his soiled shirt, as if it would keep him from feeling so entirely exposed.
"What must I do?" Sherlock asked finally, pushing his shoulders back as though he was preparing for John to request that he jump out the window. He looked determined, and a little scary.
"Yes. To convince you of my intentions. There has to be a way."
"You actually want to?" John asked before he could stop himself. In truth, he hadn't imagined that Sherlock would pursue this whole relationship farce if John started making demands. To his continued surprise, Sherlock looked deeply affronted.
"You expected me to give up." His tone was harsh, pejorative.
"Well, yeah, I guess."
"Right, okay, fine. You're not giving up. So…um…"
"What do you want?"
John startled at the blunt question. It wasn't exactly like he had a list on hand.
"Right, sorry. I'm thinking, alright? Uhh…"
"Would it help if I kissed you?"
John gulped, fidgeting and feeling heat rise in his cheeks.
"Couldn't hurt," he chuckled awkwardly.
Sherlock was on his feet in an instant, closing the distance between them. John leaned back, looking up at him with wide eyes as Sherlock bent over. Steadying himself with a hand on the armrest and sliding his knee between John's thighs, Sherlock brought his mouth close. The tip of his nose grazed John's cheek.
"How would like me to kiss you?" he rasped, breath ghosting over John's mouth, intermingling with his own.
"I assumed, but do you want it slow?" In demonstration, Sherlock brushed his lips delicately against John's. John felt paralyzed, stunned by the intimacy of such a gentle touch. Sherlock took John's bottom lip between his own, feather light, before drawing back. John almost whined at the loss of contact. "Or perhaps a bit deeper?" Sherlock released his grip on the armrest and braced his forearm on the chair back next to John's head. He leaned in and fit their lips together hard, his other hand cupping John's cheek.
The kiss was very different than the delicate teasing of before. It was desperate, needy, demanding. Sherlock's tongue slid across John's lips in silent request, and John acquiesced, letting him in. As soon as their tongues met, a flare of arousal coursed down his spine. He shivered; a reaction he, for once, didn't have the fever to blame for. Reaching out with trembling fingers, he found the lapels of Sherlock's shirt and gripped them tightly. He opened his mouth wider, deepening, pushing back. Sherlock hummed before canting his head to the side, linking them even further.
God, he'd missed this. Since they'd only really kissed a couple of times, everything still felt new, surprising, and even rather overwhelming, if he was being honest with himself.
Yet, just as he was about to laud Sherlock for his consistently masterful kissing ability, a thoroughly unwelcome beep rang out.
Sherlock pulled back instantly, hand releasing John's cheek and diving into his trouser pocket to pull out the mobile.
"Don't you dare," John warned, jerking him a bit.
"But what if it's Lestrade with a case?" Sherlock whined, his lips pink and a little swollen.
"Then he can wait until after we're done."
John pulled Sherlock down as he leaned up, crushing their lips together. He shut his eyes tight, trying to coax their kiss back to the passion they'd shown just moments before.
Sherlock went through the motions, but John sensed, rather than saw, that he was inexplicably distant. When John heard the muffled tapping of mobile buttons, he shoved Sherlock away roughly.
The detective, clearly caught by surprise, stumbled back until he plopped gracelessly into his own chair.
"What?" he growled, eyes flaring.
"This just proves that it's not going to work!" John shouted back, crossing his arms against his chest resolutely and planting his feet flat on the ground.
"It doesn't prove anything. You said you understood how important the work is to me."
"Sherlock, the fact that you don't see why I'm so upset just proves my point further."
"You're being absurd."
John resisted the urge to scream, but just barely.
"Let me walk you through it, then. Sherlock, why did you kiss me?"
Sherlock's eyes sharpened as though he sensed a trap.
"To show you what an idiot you were being for suggesting we go back to strictly platonic friendship."
"Good. Well done. Big gold star. Now, why did I suggest that we go back to 'strictly platonic friendship' in the first place?"
"Because you're an idiot."
"No. Because I thought you would never take the time to actually do relationship stuff with me."
Sherlock raked his fingers through his curls, huffing irritably. John plowed on.
"And then what did you do the first time we truly kissed in two weeks?"
John swore he could actually see the light turn on behind Sherlock's eyes. The detective sunk back in his cushions, weaving his fingers together on his lap.
"I took a text from Lestrade."
"Yes! He gets it! Someone call the queen! Get the guy a knighthood!" John sniped, gesturing manically.
"Don't mock me," Sherlock bit back, jaw clenched.
John sighed, shoulders sagging. Perhaps he was being a bit unfair.
"Sorry. Just, do you understand now? This can't possibly work."
"No? You don't understand?"
"Yes, I do understand now. No, I disagree. This can still work."
"I just don't see how."
"How about if I promise? You always like promises. Here, I promise to dedicate time to us," Sherlock vowed, flattening his palm on his chest.
John shook his head.
"I'm sorry, I don't think I can believe you."
John thought a flicker of hurt passed through Sherlock's expression, but he reeled it in too swiftly for him to be sure.
"Another demonstration then."
"It would have to be a pretty fucking good one after your last attempt," John griped.
"Oh, for God's sake, just tell me what would prove it to you, and I'll do it. Stop overcomplicating this. I swear, you try to make things-"
"I want you to take me on holiday," John blurted before he realized what he was saying. Sherlock paused.
"You want me to take you on holiday," he stated flatly. John exhaled slowly, adjusting in his chair.
"I never go on holiday."
"Exactly. I want you, Sherlock Holmes, to take me on holiday to a place of my choosing with no phone, no cases, no London crime scene at all. Just you and me. For three nights."
John had the oddest sensation that his mouth was taking control of the situation, completely without his brain's participation.
A long, heavy silence settled in the sitting room, John's arms still crossed and tense, Sherlock blank and lost in thought.
When Sherlock finally spoke, John nearly fell off his seat from the shock.
"What?" He shook his head from side to side in disbelief.
"I said 'alright.' Let's go on holiday."
"You can't be serious."
"On the contrary, I couldn't be more serious. Where do you want to go?"
"Uh…um, well…" John could barely fathom Sherlock agreeing to take him somewhere, let alone where he'd want it to be.
"Don't tell me you haven't thought about it," Sherlock groaned, clearly getting bored.
John said the first thing that came to mind.
"Cornwall! I want to go to Cornwall, always have. And I want to stay by the beach."
"It's late May."
"I don't care."
"And it's six hours away."
"It's Cornwall or nothing," John stated, sticking up his chin and looking as stubborn as physically possible.
Sherlock stared, running the side of his thumb across his bottom lip in contemplation. Then, slow and devious, a smile curled at the corner of his mouth.
"Cornwall it is."
John flinched, wondering just what he'd gotten himself into.