It had been building for a long time.
Since handshakes and deductions, winks and one thing – there’s always one thing.
It started as curiosity, continued as wonderment, became bemused acceptance – understanding in a world where there had previously only been tolerance, and a paltry shade of it at that.
In retrospect, Sherlock should not have been surprised at how quickly John grew to mean more than the other half of the rent, how quickly accidental brushes became hoarded moments, a collection of touches and the honey tones of hot and sweet they left behind, how quickly the clasped hands of comrades became the lingering glow of sparking palms.
How quickly John Watson, ex-Army doctor, became blogger and companion, became confidante and friend, became a daily and inescapable torment.
Sherlock wasn’t a stranger to it, was well-versed in saying ‘yes’ when he should say ‘no,’ should think and stop and distance.
And this time, oh, how he had tried.
Sherlock tried for distant, he tried for cold, because John had said what he had said, and Sherlock had as well, right at the beginning, and Sherlock had been sure that indifference would hurt less – him and John both – but when John praised him despite his black moods, despite the venom and ice, Sherlock’s cultivated and calculated contrivance would fail and fall – a smile his undoing, a shared joke a stumbling block. After a chase, a thrill, a victory, heated navy eyes above flushed cheeks above a wide grin would pull Sherlock back into orbit.
And it had to stop.
Sherlock prided himself on his self-control, but even he had limits, and apparently John, steel and kindness wrapped in wool and scars, was it.
Sherlock tried for distance and failed, so next, of course, came a total disregard for personal space. Arguments flared. John wanted to know why the avoidance, and then he wanted to know why the crowding, and then, when Sherlock provided no answers, when he refused time and time again to clarify, to untangle, to make sense, Sherlock had a vision of cataclysm – the end of all things unfolding like a deadly flower, petal by petal, refusal by refusal.
The vision was delivered by John’s face, and that face at that moment did not glow with praise or frown with exasperation or crease with bemusement. Instead it was blank, all light withdrawn, all emotion tucked away, and John simply sighed and shook his head, and said, “Fine,” and it wasn’t, nothing was fine, Sherlock could tell, because sadness stole into the corners of John, into the bend of his joints, into the tilt of his chin, and worse yet: defeat.
Sherlock stiffened and looked away, blue robe askew across his shoulders, Strad and bow empty weights at the ends of his arms.
“John,” Sherlock tried, but the silence behind him was that of a doctor gone, not that of a doctor waiting – and John had always waited.
Finally distance, finally, and it was hateful, and Sherlock might have flown into a rage or sunk into a blackness, but the sound of the shower froze him where he stood. John hadn’t left – yet. There was still time.
He laid his violin and bow aside and padded on bare feet up the stairs, taking care to skip the planks that housed creaks. Sherlock’s feet came to a stop right outside the bathroom door, and when he glanced down at them, they moved like the feet of someone who was nervous, uncertain, hesitant, and his shoulders hitched when the extrapolated meaning of that hit him.
Sherlock clenched his hands, ran them through his hair, clenched them again.
Sherlock thought about John, unsuspecting (unexpected) John, behind the door, but not yet beyond reach. Fate would unfurl like leaves or sails or a singular blossom of despair, but Sherlock would try, he would try, he would try.
He slipped inside and said, simply, “John.”
“John, I – let me explain.” Sherlock heaved a chestful of steam. “I can. Let me try.” Behind the shower curtain, hot water pushed steam and noise into the tiny space. An indistinct blur of doctor shifted side to side. Aside from that, a long silence crafted itself, one painful second at a time.
“You want to explain your particular brand of madness and cruelty to me now,” John said at last. Sherlock flinched at that and bit his lip, grateful for the dual screen of curtain and steam. Now was not the time for emotions to be seen and hold sway. Focus, precision, facts – and if Sherlock managed to stick to those, perhaps he could make John see the reason in staying, even if he wanted to leave. John continued, “Of all times, Sherlock –”
“I – John,” Sherlock managed, the unfamiliar clench of his throat near choking his words. Focus. “Listen, just listen to me, and I can –”
“– You can what? Fix it? Make it better?” John’s voice was harsh with disbelief and disdain, and Sherlock looked away, fighting his body’s betrayal. If he couldn’t sort this calmly, logically, then John would be gone.
“Let me try,” Sherlock said again, “please,” and he heard his utter failure at rationality in every syllable. He winced and turned away, and just in time, because in the next moment the shower curtain was yanked aside. Sherlock closed his eyes and kept himself turned away, hating the display of his face, the weakness of his body.
“Sherlock, look at me.”
“No,” emerged from his throat a whisper.
“No, not until you let me convince you to stay.”
“Sherlock, what? Please turn arou –”
“I need to give you reasons to stay – not this!” Sherlock said, turning at last, a hand gesturing angrily in front of his face. His eyes found John’s, wide and blue and shocked in his face. A glance to the side showed him his reflection, and Sherlock let his eyes fall closed. Shame layered more red into his cheeks.
“Sherlock – how long have you –” The question stumbled to a halt. A moment later John added, “Would you look at me, at least?”
Sherlock shook his head even as his body swayed towards John’s voice.
That tone – commanding, confidant – there was no defying it, and Sherlock opened his eyes and took John in, from where one hand gripped the scant cover of the shower curtain to his cobalt eyes. The face that framed those eyes was a vice of crushing hope, and Sherlock felt his mouth drop open.
“Yeah,” John said. “Me too.”
The shower was still running behind John, steam still swirled, and Sherlock took a step forward even as John twitched the curtain further open and tossed his head in invitation, and then the water was everywhere, and John was in front of him, close, so close.
They went from not kissing to kissing in the space of a breath.
Sherlock went from clothed to not clothed much faster than he would have thought possible – especially given the clinginess inherent to soggy cotton.
And then John pushed in and up, and this kiss lasted, and lasted, and his hands roamed, palms stroking Sherlock’s arms, thumbs pressing circles into Sherlock’s skin, body flush against Sherlock’s chest and abdomen and –
“John,” Sherlock panted as the kiss fell apart into frantic teeth and lips against his neck, his shoulder, his clavicle. “How – oh god – how long, John?”
“Ages,” John rasped, voice a delicious, growled blur. His hands slipped down to Sherlock’s waist and grasped, flexed, clutched. Water had made slick their touching, and Sherlock found his hips were making use of that, were shifting, seeking, succeeding because suddenly John was groaning and grinding back, and Sherlock let his hands travel where his eyes had not, down, down, and –
“Sh-h- Sherlock, unh,” John huffed, and Sherlock let his fingers tighten and slide along the shaft of John’s cock, let his thumb smear water and pre-come around the frenulum. John’s face was flushed, his eyes half-closed, but his gaze was fixed on Sherlock’s, even as he panted through each of Sherlock’s pulls, as trembling crawled into every muscle.
Sherlock kept his eyes on John’s as he went to his knees, as he opened his mouth, and then he was tasting – he was tasting John, and it was slick and musky and earthy, and he would have categorized it as the best sensory experience of his life if not for the sounds issuing from John’s mouth: little, cut-off moans, whimpers wrenched free by Sherlock’s tongue and lips and hollowed cheeks.
Hands found his wet hair, twined and twisted and gripped, and then he was rising with them into a crushing kiss, a red hot smear of lips and tongues and he lost track of John’s right hand until – oh.
Sure fingers squeezed and pumped and stroked, dipping back to tease and torment more sensitive skin, more vulnerable nerves.
“I’ve, I’ve wanted this so long, Sherlock,” John murmured by his ear, in between breathless grunts and tremors. “I’ve wanted you against me, wrecked, raw with this, with want, for this, for me, and now, and now –”
Every word was neon poured into the cracks of Sherlock’s body, the hidden channels all lit up, and each surge blended into the last, building and building, and this had been building for such a long, long time.
“John, oh god, John,” Sherlock managed, and then John lined them up, and their hips, stuttering, did the rest, frantic and joyous and ravenous.
Sherlock came first, with a choked sound, and John kept rutting against him, his motions slicked by the come pulsing from Sherlock’s jerking cock. When John finished, his cry became a groan, became shuddering sigh, and he slumped against Sherlock, who was slumped back against the shower wall.
The tiles, despite the heat of the water, pressed cool against his back.
“Um,” John hummmed into the skin at Sherlock’s neck.
Sherlock shivered, suddenly uncertain, began to say, “I –” but then stopped, because John was giggling, and the sound of it was entirely delightful and new against the sensitive skin in the crook of his neck, and the doctor in his arms was breathless and laughing, and then so was Sherlock.
When the laughter subsided, John looked up at Sherlock and asked, “What were you going to say?”
And Sherlock grinned, then, sudden and sharp, as he thought back along the channel of their days, over their companionship, their arguments, the weeks preceding, everything that had led them here, each event unfolding, seemingly pointing in darker and darker directions – and yet.
His arms tightened around John, and as the water cooled and the steam dissipated, they remained, and Sherlock couldn’t stop his smile as he said, for once overjoyed to be doing so:
“There’s always something.”