A soft ticking comes from somewhere in the kitchen. It wakes Sherlock up before he really knows that he’s awake. The persistent tick-tick-tick syncs with his internal clock that grounds him in the moment.
He decides to lie still, absorbing the rest of his surroundings as his senses hum back to life.
The too-small couch beneath his torso, his toes digging into the warmed leather of the crease in the end. His arms, one tucked beneath his chin and the other wrapped around a denim clad hip. His breath, pushing back in his face with humid puffs as he presses closer to a warm body.
John’s hand still rests in his curls from when he was petting them earlier, his strong fingers massaging in soothing circles. When he first tried to touch Sherlock’s hair, a long time ago now, he would snag and apologize, until Sherlock taught him how to shift and rub and ahh yes, right there.
He becomes aware of the rest of John – though to say that he wasn’t aware of John all the time would be a lie. The gentle inhalations of sleep, John’s stomach pressing closer to his nose, then away with each breath. One hand in Sherlock’s hair, the other draped over his neck, cupping the nape with his thumb resting just below Sherlock’s hairline.
It’s too hot – John’s like a furnace anyway, which comes in handy with Sherlock’s chronically cold feet that he sticks between John’s legs when he hops under the sheets. Sherlock keeps his eyes closed, observing, denying the heat in favor of the rare stillness he only finds with John.
The shirt beneath his nose smells like the doctor’s office, like Mrs. Hudson’s detergent, and a bit of stale sweat from John standing on the tube to get home. Home to Sherlock, where they fell asleep on the couch watching a movie. Well, John was watching a movie and Sherlock was watching John.
Before that they had cooked dinner. ‘Breakfast for dinner’ was Rosie’s choice; pancakes with jam, not syrup, rashers and eggs. Sherlock still tastes the jam, mild and sweet on his tongue, even sweeter for the kisses John gave him as they danced in the kitchen, Rosie gagging and protesting from the table while she colored and waited impatiently for her food.
Sherlock smiles at the memory, burrowing his face gently into John’s middle and tightening his arm. It wasn’t his intention, but he feels John wake, listens to his groan as he realizes the position his neck took while he dozed. John’s voice, always a joy to Sherlock, sounds best when he’s slept, comfortable and familiar and intimate.
“Guess we were more tired than we thought,” John muses and Sherlock can feel him looking down at Sherlock’s head, still buried in his waist. Just five more minutes.
Tick-tick-tick – oh. Perhaps the sound wasn’t coming from the kitchen. John’s arm shifts and Sherlock knows he’s checking his watch. He really must be sleepy, to forget John’s watch he gave him for their fourth anniversary. Then again, he sleeps much more regularly these days. He’s practically bohemian with his four to five hours of sleep, in a bed. With another person no less. He doesn’t miss the days of cold sheets and creaking sounds from above him, imagining just crawling into bed with John the bachelor and seeing where the night would take them. It was even worse when the creaking sounds weren’t there anymore.
“Let’s go to bed, hm?”
Sherlock finally tilts his head back, lets John brush his curls off his forehead, then opens his eyes.
John, looking at him with such love. Tried, tested, burned love. When John looks at him, Sherlock feels timeless, immovable, perfectly tied forever to the man before him. His heart lurches still when he thinks of all the things they put each other through, all the things they might put each other through yet.
They look at each other and Sherlock erased his embarrassment long ago at the frankness between them. There is nothing he could hide from John, nothing he wants to hide. He knows that his love shows just as plainly on his face as it does on John’s. Sherlock uncurls his hand, reaches up to brush the pads of his fingers over the stubble of the day prickling on John’s cheeks.
“Yeah, might need to wash up a bit before sleep, you’re right,” John says, scrunching his nose. He moves his hand to grasp Sherlock’s, their wedding bands catching in the soft light from the silent TV. That part Sherlock is still getting used to – having a husband, being a husband, a father. Something he never saw for himself – a future. Something he wants to stick around for instead of burning out in a blaze of glory when he hit 25. Now he’s approaching the middle of forty and time is going too fast. Rosie’s in primary school, Mrs. Hudson can’t make it up the stairs anymore to chide or feed them, the silver in John’s hair grows more every day.
Time’s a commodity he never thought he would miss, but now that he has a life worth living, it’s more valuable than any hit, any case. Some of his moroseness must show on his face as John frowns and runs his thumb down the crease between Sherlock’s eyebrows.
“Here now, none of that, whatever you’re thinking.”
Sherlock needs to kiss him, overwhelmed as he is sometimes by the sheer magnitude of what his life has become, what their lives have become. He looses John’s hand and pulls himself up with the back of the couch. John meets him halfway and they share a chaste kiss, just … breathing. It’s an awkward position for Sherlock, so he pushes up further, pulling his legs up and resting his weight in John’s lap, kissing and kissing.
He knows every part of John with all of his senses. He knows the smell of their sheets, mingled between them until the smell is just ‘them’ now. He knows the taste of John’s tears, salty on his tongue as he grieved his wife and wept his regrets, Sherlock’s quiet, frantic kisses on his cheeks trying to ease the pain as they shook together. He knows the feel of him, even when he’s not looking. John can walk in a room and Sherlock feels him against his skin, like an echo of his own heart. That belongs to John too.
He’s working on all the sounds of John, but he keeps coming up with new ones. When Sherlock thinks he’s catalogued them all, John will sigh in his mouth just so, in a perfectly new way. He has to keep up, but he has all his old favorites – John’s laugh, barking and rich. John in the morning, yawning and his stomach growling. Even John being sick is a favored sound, though he would never tell John that one. A Watson with a stuffy nose was absolutely adorable, even when he gives his cold to his child and his husband and they spend a miserable three days in bed with a coughing little one between them.
And sight, well. John was very easy to look at. Sherlock opens his eyes and pulls out of their kiss, savoring the quiet between them as John presses his forehead to Sherlock’s. He plants a tiny peck on Sherlock’s nose and shifts to stand, grabbing Sherlock around the ribcage to heft him vertical.
They stand and Sherlock still marvels at the inches between their height. He loves the way he fits into John’s arms, they way they slot together when they sleep. He’ll never admit it, but the way they huddle on the tube when they take Rosie to the park (“She has to learn to ride the tube, Sherlock. She can’t go through life riding in cabs all the time”) is his favorite. John rests his head on Sherlock’s shoulder while keeping a finger snagged in Rosie’s collar to keep her from picking through strangers’ pockets.
John links his fingers with Sherlock’s as they start towards the bedroom, Rosie sleeping quietly upstairs. Sherlock watches the back of John’s head, completely soppy with how much he loves the man in front of him. John kicks a Ninja Turtle toy to the side, grumbling about making Rosie pick up her toys, but some of Sherlock’s adoration must be radiating as he turns to look at him.
“What? Is there something on my face?” he asks, puzzled.
Sherlock drinks him in, his favorite sight. John Watson, his husband, his life, standing in their home, taking him to bed. He steps forward, his hands overlarge and perfect on John’s cheeks and presses a single kiss to his mouth.
“I adore you,” he says. “Let’s go to bed.”
John grins slowly, a goofy dazzled smile on his face that Sherlock will never tire of. He wants to see it until he’s put in the ground.
John flips off the TV and the light in the kitchen, his hand still in Sherlock’s. They close the bedroom door behind them and all is quiet.