It’s been a long year.
First, there was all that bad business, with Mary. Then there was everything that happened after that, the things John still can’t completely wrap his mind around, yet they’d made his choice all the more clear just the same.
Then, of course, there was the flat. He hadn’t expected to be left to deal with the flat.
It’s been six interminable months in limbo, feeling the the ghost of decisions past as a cold thing that seemed to lurk just behind his shoulder and creep up the back of his neck, but now finally, finally , the lease is up - not a moment too soon, as John’s sold just about every stick of furniture in the place - and he’s able to officially move back to 221B Baker Street.
He’s coming home.
It isn’t even as if he hasn’t been there with Sherlock as much as he would have had he lived there anyway. He sleeps there more nights than not, his bedroom having been meticulously kept just as it was by Mrs. Hudson or Sherlock or even Mycroft, John doesn’t know whom, and it’s a good job his bed’s a single because there’s plenty of space for a crib. John and Rosie’s things have migrated in bits and pieces as well. By four o’clock that afternoon, as they officially take up residence in 221B, all they’ve needed to bring with them is a small hold-all full of clothes, diapers, toys, and a few books.
He’s left the bed frame and mattress in the old flat; he sold the pair to the new tenant for fifty quid.
He’d binned the bedding ages ago.
Still, there’s something about it being official, despite his never having given back his key, not even when Sherlock was dead and he couldn’t bear the thought of the place, so when he’s laid the last of his jumpers in its drawer and put his shaving foam back in his side of the medicine cabinet, John feels inclined to celebrate.
That, and, well. There are some things John’s got to say. Some things he perhaps ought to have said a long time ago.
He makes up a weak fib about Molly demanding a ‘girls’ night’ with Rosie, (when he’d asked Molly about it the day before, explained everything, she’d turned really very pink, but seemed pleased, and agreed to watch Rosie at hers for the evening); Sherlock must have sensed something in his tone when John had suggested in a failed attempt at indifference, “Feel like getting a bite to eat tonight, just us grown ups? Say, Angelo’s?”, because he’d set down his current experiment, pulled on his jacket and coat, and followed without a word against the idea.
They’re seated in their usual booth, and John feels something like awkwardness fall over the whole affair. Sherlock is studying his menu intently, as if he doesn’t know every word on it by rote, as if he ever even cared what was put in front of him, as if John didn’t order for him nine times out of ten, just so something would be. Before John can open his mouth to say anything, Angelo swoops over, all belly-laugh and bright red cheeks.
“Boys! Would you look at this! Still together, eh?” Angelo shoves both meaty hands forward into the space above the table in front of them to display what he holds in their grip. “Look! A candle, and our best wine, for my favourite couple!” He sets down the candle and sighs. “After all this time, still so romantic .”
“Thanks,” John’s about to say, only he can’t get much more than the first sound out before Sherlock’s interrupting him with an arm shot right out in front of his face, catching Angelo by the shirtsleeve as he moves to open the wine.
“Wait! Angelo,” Sherlock pulls his hand back, fiddles nervously with fork and then his serviette. “There’s something I’ve never told you, though perhaps in retrospect I ought to have done. At the very least, before John got married.”
Angelo’s face crinkles with confusion.
“Well it’s just that John’s not my date. He never has been, really. I never bothered to correct you, and well, I suppose leaving aside the rather damning evidence of his wife once shooting me in the chest, we were never actually a couple.” Sherlock takes a sizeable breath. “We aren’t a couple. He’s not my date.”
Angelo looks suspicious, as if he’s not quite sure what to make of this but certainly it isn’t that Sherlock’s telling the truth, and John uses the silence to pull the candle closer to the middle of the table.
“What he means is, actually, thanks, that’s very kind,” John says. “The wine sounds fantastic. We’d love some.”
The world righted inside Angelo’s head, he uncorks the vintage and pours them each a glass before leaving the bottle on the table with a promise to return shortly for their orders.
“—while I appreciate your attempt to spare my humiliation, I assure you I’m perfectly capable of—”
“Hang on, humiliation?”
Sherlock blanches. “That is to say—”
“Now just, please, hang on, let me just say something, will you?” John puts his hand over Sherlock’s, the one still fiddling with his flatware, and Sherlock finally stills and silences.
John doesn’t move his hand.
“It’s been about six months, hasn’t it, that I’ve been more or less back with you. It’s just been us, with Rosie, together. It took time, I’ll grant you, but it’s good now. It’s great. It’s almost like it was before, only it’s better. And I’m so happy, Sherlock. Truly, I am.”
“But,” Sherlock says, hitting the plosive hard with his tongue.
“But,” John agrees, and he watches Sherlock wince. He squeezes Sherlock’s fingers with his own, strokes a thumb over Sherlock’s knuckles. “But, it’s not enough, is it? It’s like it was before, yeah, but it’s stronger now. It’s happening faster. Whatever it was between us, the thing that was going to happen before you were dead, the thing that couldn’t happen when I was with Mary… well, it’s still there, isn’t it? It’s still just sitting there, unresolved.”
Sherlock steals a glance at John’s face, and then continues studying what must be a remarkable spot on the tablecloth in front of him. “I don’t mean for it to be,” he mutters. “I’ll try harder. I won’t—just. Please.” He looks up again, eyes strangely bright. “You don’t need to move out, John. I’ll be better. You’ve only just come back. Give it time.”
John huffs out a breath. “I don’t think I’m quite getting this right,” he says, and Sherlock pulls away a bit, hunches his shoulders and sets his gaze down again, but John keeps his hand firm over Sherlock’s.
“Sherlock,” John says, gently as he’s ever said anything, and he can’t bear it, can’t bear Sherlock’s face half-guarded, half-folded in on itself in anticipation of a blow to strike, can’t spend another moment of their lives without saying it. “What I’m trying to say is, if you’ll have me, I’d very much like it if, tonight, and tomorrow night, and the next one, and well, basically every night after that for as long as you want, I was your date.”
Sherlock stares at him, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, and before he can seem to form a reply, Angelo’s back, throwing a pointed, wide-grinned look at their joined hands on the table.
“I—thought—perhaps—we should—talk—about this,” John pants between presses of Sherlock’s lips against his own, Sherlock’s teeth catching against his jaw and neck and earlobe.
“Dull,” Sherlock replies, and nips at his throat.
John’s so hard in his trousers he can barely keep upright, but it doesn’t matter; Sherlock’s got him pressed up against the wall, hips to chest, holding his hands above his head in one impressively long-fingered fist and grinding ruthlessly against his pelvis with, from what John can tell, what feels like a rather notable amount of arousal.
“We should at least—ah—try to make it out of the hallway.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Sherlock says, running his other hand down John’s front and rubbing the heel of it against John’s erection. “Bridge night. Mrs. Hudson will be out for hours yet.”
John groans and lets his forehead hit Sherlock’s shoulder. “Fuck.”
“Quite,” Sherlock agrees, and unzips them both.
John pulls a hand out of Sherlock’s grasp, reaches down to twine their fingers, and then it’s all heat and friction, sweet and shiveringly slick, so slick it takes John by surprise until he pulls his mouth off of Sherlock’s neck to look down at himself pressed up against Sherlock in the circle of their joined fists. The dusky flushed tip of Sherlock’s cock is more wet than John would’ve thought possible, leaking all over the both of them, and John can’t stop the high whine that steals from his throat.
“It’s so much,” John whispers into Sherlock’s mouth, “is it always like that?”
Sherlock pumps faster, runs one long thumb over the heads of both their cocks as he squeezes his eyes shut, nods, grits outs, “Yes.”
“Oh, god.” John moans and pushes his tongue back into Sherlock’s mouth.
They’re giddy and sweaty and sticky and half-drunk off what was likely truly exceptional wine, and John is curled behind Sherlock, leaned up against the bottom two stairs, at once probably the least comfortable and certainly happiest he’s ever been. His right arm is wrapped round Sherlock’s front, their fingers interwoven over Sherlock’s chest, and more than anything he’s grateful for rise and fall of each breath Sherlock takes.
“That,” John says, “should have happened years ago. Maybe even the first time.”
Sherlock makes a delicious sort of noise of agreement that John can feel rumble hot through the layers of shirt and skin between them.
“We’ll need to clean up, mind. And clear out. I know Mrs. Hudson wouldn’t be surprised, exactly, but we could spare a woman of a certain age this particular sort of shock.”
“Mm,” Sherlock makes the noise again, pulls John’s arm tighter around himself, “in a moment. Just want a moment.”
So John gives it to him, the way he’s sure he’s not able to to deny Sherlock just about anything he asks for, and after a spell Sherlock lets out a deep, satisfied sort of sigh. “Welcome home, John.”
John smiles into the back of Sherlock’s neck. “Thank you,” he says, and then kisses the little curl tickling his nose. “I just hope you know, this has always been home.”