The client had seemed grateful, effusively so, but John was still mildly surprised to find the gift-wrapped box at the foot of the stairs that Friday morning. He opened it to find two bottles of wine carefully nestled in packing paper and a note with a smiley face on it. He went back upstairs and presented the package to Sherlock with a flourish.
Sherlock snorted at the note, but considered the wine with greater interest. “Riesling from Alsace,” he mused, as he inspected the labels. “Rather nice ones, in fact.” He pursed his lips thoughtfully as he looked up at John. “Rosie is off to Harry’s this weekend, isn’t she?”
John nodded. “Until Sunday,” he said.
“Excellent,” Sherlock said with glee, rubbing his hands together. “We’ve got two bottles of dessert wine and no need to set a good example. Sweets for supper it is.”
John shrugged. He’d heard far worse ideas from that sofa, after all. He left for the clinic, making a mental note to grab a salad for lunch.
John came back from the clinic that evening to find pastry boxes scattered around the kitchen, mixing bowls and wooden spoons piled up in the sink, and something baking in the oven that smelled rather heavenly.
Sherlock hadn’t been kidding about the sweets, apparently.
Mrs Hudson’s dessert stand waited on the table, and a cheese board sat beside it, sliced pieces of crusty baguette already neatly arranged on its surface. The good tea service was on the counter, and two wine glasses were next to it, shining and free of fingerprints. Beneath the fragrance of vanilla and sugar, he caught the hint of silver polish in the air. Sherlock himself was nowhere to be seen, but he’d noticed Mrs Hudson’s door had been ajar as he’d come in; Sherlock was probably down there getting help with...something.
John frowned. This all looked rather elaborate; obviously, Sherlock was going to a lot of trouble. He looked down at his work clothes and wrinkled his nose. At the very least, John could freshen up and change into something a little nicer. He turned and headed for the stairs to his room.
John walked back into the kitchen forty minutes later to find it transformed.
The room had been straightened, and the countertops were clean. The table was laid with china and silver that John recognized as Mrs Hudson’s company service. The pastry stand was laden with cakes, tarts, and biscuits; the cheese tray now had three neatly displayed cheeses at one end, arranged around a small jar of honey, and there was a plate of fresh strawberries next to a bowl of cream. There were even candles-- candles --set in candlesticks between the plates, the flames just beginning to take. Sherlock himself stood by the now empty sink, frowning down at the bottles of wine. He turned when John cleared his throat.
“I’m an idiot, I left the wine to chill too--oh,” he said, eyes growing a bit wider. “You—I didn’t hear you come in before. You changed clothes.”
John rocked up on his toes--nervous? Why would he be nervous? He self-consciously smoothed the blue jumper that suddenly felt just a bit too tight around his neck. “Well, I didn’t want to be outdone,” he joked, gesturing at Sherlock’s black suit and cream silk shirt. “Besides, candlelight seems to call for something better than my clinic gear.”
“I see,” Sherlock said seriously, brow still a bit furrowed. “Well, you look--nice?” John grinned and nodded. “Right. Nice.” Sherlock cleared his throat and turned back to the wine. “Take a seat, if you’d like. The wine just needs another couple of minutes.”
Everything was perfect.
Cheesecake and cheeses, fruit and fruit tarts, whatever the hell that chocolate thing had been...all delicious, decadent and completely, utterly, devoured. Those had been custards in the oven, as it turned out, and Sherlock had managed to charm Mrs Turner into the loan of her brulee torch. While the thought of Sherlock working with fire was always alarming, John could not deny that this one time the result had been worth the risk. He felt both full and light, like a child who’d gotten everything he’d asked for and found it the very opposite of disappointing. To some extent, he’d been swept along by Sherlock’s enthusiasm; the man had always had a sweet tooth, after all. The smiles he’d given John had been genuine and warm, full of pleasure. Some of the noises he’d made (sighs, moans, groans of pleasure from deep in his throat) had been--well. John wouldn’t think about those. He just wouldn’t.
And the wine—it was sweet, sweeter than normal for the region, according to Sherlock, but still delectable, and John privately admitted to himself, highly effective. He was just the tiniest bit drunk, and everything was delightful.
After the last crumbs had been licked from honey-sticky fingers, they decamped to the sofa with the wine glasses and the second bottle of Reisling. Sherlock had already laid the fire, so he set a match to it, and they both settled back to watch the flames catch. When John sighed, content, Sherlock glanced over at him, and winked.
They sat for a long time, drinking their wine and watching the flames, each lost in their own thoughts.
Finally, Sherlock stirred. “Have you ever noticed,” he started slowly, “how various types of alcohol have different effects on the body?”
John shrugged. “Well, of course. Alcohol percentage can--”
“I don’t mean that,” Sherlock interrupted. “Well, I don’t mean only that. But I’ve noted over the years that various types of alcohol elicit different moods in me, personally. Have you ever--”
“Oh, yeah, I know what you mean,” John said, nodding. “Tequila makes me an angry drunk.”
Sherlock sighed with relief. “Exactly. Vodka makes me tired, but scotch leaves me awake, just calmer. I can work after a couple of glasses of scotch.”
“Hmm.” John thought for a moment. There had to be a point to this. “And wine?”
“Wine has different effects depending on the varietal. White wine makes me snappish...”
“And one would tell how?” John interjected, grinning.
Sherlock shot him a rude gesture. “...but red wine makes me quiet. Well, quieter, anyway. For me.”
“Quiet-ish.” John smirked, and looked down at his glass. “Well, this is white wine, but you don’t seem very snappish right now.”
“No,” Sherlock answered quietly. “Dessert wines are an exception.” He stared into the fire.
When Sherlock didn’t continue, John poked him gently in the side. “Go on, then. What do dessert wines do to you?”
Sherlock drew in a deep, steadying breath. “They make me honest,” he said carefully, looking down into his glass.
“Oh,” John said carefully. “I see.” His heart started pounding. He was sugar high and half drunk; he was not prepared for this.
Sherlock set his glass down on the table and turned to face him. “John, I--”
“Don’t make us leave,” John blurted.
Sherlock reared back. “What?”
“Please.” John shook his head, trying desperately to clear it. “I know having us here has been difficult, and the baby especially is a change, but we can--”
“John,” Sherlock interrupted firmly. “Shut up.”
“But, Sherlock--” John tried again.
“Shut up,” Sherlock repeated. “I’m not asking you to leave.” He leaned in a bit closer, staring into John’s eyes. “I never want you to leave. Either of you.” He hesitated. “Ever.”
“What?” John asked. “Then what--” Sherlock blushed. “Oh."
And in that moment, it was quiet, so very quiet. All John could hear was the crackle of the fire, the distant hiss of traffic, and the echo of his rapid heart beat.
They stared at each other. “What are you saying?” John finally whispered.
Sherlock sighed. He reached for John’s glass, taking it gently and setting it on the table. Then, his gaze locked with John’s, he reached and opened the top button of his own shirt, and the next.
John’s breath caught.
With exquisite care, Sherlock took John’s hand, raised it to his lips for a brief kiss, and then slipped it into his shirt, to rest over his own racing heart.
They might have never had this, this connection, this intimacy. It had been so long, so long. They had been fine, content to share the affection of friends, the devotion of fellow soldiers, the love (yes) of family. It had been good enough, until this night, this one night after all these years.
This time, brave in their cups and after so long, they filled the quiet darkness with confidences, secrets, assumptions proved right or wrong. They came close, oh god, so, so close, to saying the things the other longed to hear, but in the end, at the last moment, John’s courage failed him. He couldn’t risk it, he just couldn’t. Then, just when the silence returned and threatened to push them apart--
Sherlock leaned over and kissed him.
Sherlock kissed him, and kissed him, and Christ, it was the finest chocolate, the lightest cake. A perfect berry. It was dessert wine, exploding on the tongue, bringing the truth of every other flavour to the fore.
Sherlock’s lips were like sugar, like honey straight from the comb.
John gave into years of craving, and kissed him back. Nothing had ever tasted so sweet.
Sherlock was stretched out on the floor in front of him, lying on his stomach on a soft blanket. His nude alabaster body glowed in the firelight.
John took a deep, even breath, and slowly reached out one hand. He could touch him now. It was allowed, even encouraged.
Sherlock’s skin was warm.
John traced his hand down Sherlock’s long back, evenly, patiently, trailing his fingers along the curve of his shoulder, following the slope down the impossibly long lower back, sliding carefully down to the very top of his buttocks. It was intoxicating, the feel of all this skin, and the scent, god-- black tea, vanilla and peppermint, wrapped in starch and silk. It was in his nose and under his hands, everything he had wanted for so long--
He had to taste him.
John sat up and straddled him, settling his erect cock into the cleft of Sherlock’s arse. It fit perfectly, of course it did, and John relished the slight bit of friction he felt when he leaned over to mouth at the base of Sherlock’s neck. Sherlock’s hair was a bit long right now, and the curls were soft and wild. When John nuzzled into them, they smelled faintly of lemon verbena.
Sherlock’s breathing hitched, and he gave a small moan, and oh god, even the man’s sounds were delicious.
John drew his hands down Sherlock’s back as he rose back to sitting. His doctor’s mind named the muscles as he passed (deltoid, trapezius, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi, internal oblique), an attempt to distract the friend’s mind--the lover’s mind, now--from the scars that liberally streaked the pale skin. So many, too many, debts paid that had never been incurred.
John traced the largest one with a gentle finger. Enough. These were thoughts for another time.
He moved his hands down to Sherlock’s lower back (thoracolumbar fascia) and gave in to the impulse to grind down, just a little. He closed his eyes. God, Sherlock’s arse was so round and firm, and it felt so good around his cock--
John felt his balls start to tighten, and froze in place. Too much of that, and he’d be done for.
Instead, he shifted down a bit and nibbled at the swell of one of Sherlock’s perfect buttocks. He smiled at the idea that took form in his mind. Why not? This had been a night for indulgence, after all. He placed one hand on each of Sherlock’s cheeks, and gently spread them apart.
Sherlock gasped at the first wet swipe of John’s tongue against his entrance, before settling into a steady cadence of moans and sighs as John gently lapped and licked. Sherlock tasted fantastic, of course he did, like lavender cream and clean sweat. He worked his tongue inside Sherlock just a little, teasing, and Sherlock cried out with the pleasure of it: another delicious sound, one John immediately devoted himself to hearing again. Sherlock writhed and John hummed, and it was all so very, very good.
Finally, John lifted his head and placed a gentle kiss on the small of Sherlock’s back. “Turn over for me, love,” he breathed, and shifted back to allow the motion.
Sherlock looked devastated. His pupils were blown wide with arousal, his cheeks glowing a violent pink. A faint sheen of sweat was visible on his forehead, across his shoulders, and down his chest. He was panting, and his lips were red where he’d been biting them. His cock was hard, standing nearly straight, flushing its own very particular shade of pink against the dark hair that curled around it and the near white of his abdomen.
He was magnificent. John had never seen anything so beautiful.
“Please, touch me,” Sherlock whispered, and John did, reaching up to trace his finger around Sherlock’s nipples, first one, and then the other. A gentle pinch made Sherlock cry out, arching his back, and oh, now, wasn’t that interesting. John leaned forward and flicked his tongue across one of the tiny buds, and Sherlock breathed out a curse.
John smiled against Sherlock’s skin. He should have known he’d be this responsive.
John nibbled at Sherlock’s chest, leaning over to explore the sensitive, ticklish parts on his sides with his tongue, tracing along the border of his rib cage with lips and just a hint of teeth. He closed his eyes as he passed the small circular scar just below Sherlock’s heart; again, not tonight. Sherlock raised his hand to rest lightly in John’s hair as John slowly, precisely, slid his nose and the tip of his tongue down the midline of Sherlock’s abdomen, following the trail of dark hair. He paused at Sherlock’s navel, teasing him there with his tongue for a moment before looking up from under his lashes. Sherlock was watching him, eyes heavy with lust, mouth half open with wonder.
“All right?” John asked quietly.
“John,” Sherlock moaned in reply, his voice thick with desire and need.
John smiled. “Good answer,” he said with a wink, and slid down just a little further. John’s breath ruffled the hair on Sherlock’s thighs, and Sherlock shivered.
John lowered his chin and rubbed his cheek up the length of Sherlock’s cock, humming at Sherlock’s murmured pleas. He gently mouthed at the pink head, slipping his tongue gently into the slit, and took a second to savour the taste of Sherlock’s pre-come. Pure Sherlock, he thought, his very essence, salty with a tinge of bitterness, but also clean and somehow, of course, a little sweet.
Keeping the tip against his open lips, John slid his fingers beneath and around Sherlock’s testicles, thrilled to feel him swell a little more. He curled his tongue under the corona and sucked gently. Sherlock started to keen. So sensitive, god.
John swallowed him down. Sherlock let out one long, loud groan.
John began to suck in earnest, slowly at first, but then harder and faster. Sherlock started to thrust, tiny little movements he was obviously fighting to control, and John smiled to feel his efforts. God, Sherlock was hard, so hard. John wrapped one hand around the base of Sherlock’s cock at the root, and started fondling his bollocks with the other. He rubbed and sucked, feeling Sherlock’s thighs start to quiver, hearing his moans getting higher, more rapid. He knew Sherlock was almost--
Sherlock froze, and then came, hard, down John’s throat. For all the noise he had made before, he was almost silent at the end.
John held on through the aftershocks, gentling him, feeling almost protective as Sherlock started to soften. He looked up to see Sherlock destroyed, mouth hanging open and gasping for breath, one arm thrown over his eyes and the other stretched out, hand still clutching at the floor.
John felt a rush of pride: he had done that. John had given Sherlock Holmes this most human of moments, literally stunned him with pleasure. He felt humbled and amazed, he felt wonderful--
And if he didn’t come right now, he was going to explode.
He reared up, straddling Sherlock’s hips again. “Sherlock,” he whispered urgently. “I need to--can I--”
Sherlock moved his arm and blinked his eyes open. “Oh,” he murmured. “God, John, yes. Whatever you--yes.”
John quickly licked his hand, and wrapped his fingers around his own cock. “Oh, god, this won’t take long,” he groaned as he started pulling at himself in long, smooth strokes.
Sherlock watched with bright, avid eyes. “Yes, John,” he breathed. “Come on me. I want to see you.”
John stared down at Sherlock as his body went taut. He stopped thinking, stopped breathing, saw only Sherlock, thought Sherlock and then he was coming in hot spurts, shooting across Sherlock’s abdomen, his chest, even up to his throat.
“God, yes,” Sherlock whispered, and John could do nothing but groan and collapse next to him, his head nestled on Sherlock’s shoulder, sated and completely at peace.
John woke in Sherlock’s bed, alone. They’d stumbled into the bedroom during the night, when the fire had died and the air grew cold. Now, the sun glowed dimly outside the window; it was very early morning.
The sheets and pillow next to him were cool to the touch. This was not good. John pulled himself to sitting, and then pushed the sheets aside. He was still naked, but a dressing gown had been left at the foot of the bed. John pulled it on and stepped out into the kitchen.
Everything was dark.
“Sherlock?” John called quietly, leaving the lights off as he navigated around the kitchen table and through the doorway to the lounge.
“Here,” came a quiet voice from the sofa. In the dim light, John could see Sherlock sitting at the far end, his knees drawn up against his chest, a throw blanket wrapped closely around him.
John swallowed once, and then moved to sit on the sofa beside him. He dug his hands into the pockets of the dressing gown and waited for Sherlock to speak.
“John, I...” Sherlock finally started, and John looked down at the floor, squeezing his nails into the palms of his hands. “...I don’t expect--that is to say, I’ll understand if you--” Sherlock sighed. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry.”
John blinked. “Jesus, for what?” he asked, looking at Sherlock incredulously.
“For putting you into an uncomfortable situation last night. I--” Sherlock winced. “I fear I may have forced you into a position where you felt you had to act in a certain way. That was not my intention.” He smiled sadly. “I’d just waited so long, you see.”
“Oh.” John paused for a moment. “Sherlock, may I ask you something?”
Sherlock shrugged in response.
“Did I give you any reason to think I didn’t want to do--” John waved at the floor in front of the fire. “That?”
“Well, no, but--”
“No,” John cut in. “I did not. And you know why?”
Sherlock shrugged again.
“Because I really wanted to do it, you idiot, that’s why. I’ve wanted--I’ve craved you forever. Now you tell me.” John drew in a deep breath. “Do you have any regrets?”
Sherlock shook his head. “No,” he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut. “I could never.”
John sighed in relief. “Well, then.” He reached over and took Sherlock’s hand. “In that case, tell me. Is there any of that chocolate thing left?"
Sherlock looked up in surprise, hope flickering across his face. “There’s some in the refrigerator, why?”
“Because I’m hungry...” John said, and leaned in to lick a stripe up Sherlock’s long neck, and breathe into his ear.
“...and I’m in the mood for something sweet,” John whispered.