He has to reassure himself that Sherlock’s here. Every part of him, every limb, every long and elegant finger, every lanky expanse of skin and muscle and bone mapped out with the precision of an anatomy textbook, named and categorized and said firmly and softly in a way that has Sherlock lying still in a sort of reverent shock.
He’s here. Years later and he. is. here. He’s under John’s hands, those wrists, heavier than they would seem at first glance, stronger than they should be for a man who doesn’t eat and neglects himself and imbibes poison to determine their effects and John knows those after-effects intimately, those wrists are wound round and round with soft black ties and knotted to the headboard. Sherlock had let himself go down under John’s touch, stripped to the skin and expose to his gaze, not haughty, not amused, but wondering. No shame, because Sherlock doesn’t have it, never did, but the awe Sherlock never had for authority in God or man he has somehow all given to John Watson.
John’s hands ran down Sherlock’s sides, the points of his hips, along the long bones of each leg, each foot, each toe, a jerk of ticklish sensation of the soles that brings a ghost of a smile to John’s face before his breath comes out of him in a near-shudder, because the bloody Great Intelligence (John’s been watching the new episodes of Doctor Who, which is a minor sacrilege, but surely someone will forgive him, has to, because he’s found his faith again) is not made of marble but of human flesh and it’s John’s first indication that this is real. That Sherlock is real and solid and tied to his bed and not going anywhere and it’s snowing in London and there are Christmas lights everywhere and John’s just unwrapped the best present imaginable when he showed up on his doorstep as magically as presents appeared under the tree.
He touches higher, bolder, naming every bony prominence and muscle attachment point, whispering the Latin and Greek names with the fervency of prayer. Sherlock joins him, and it’s like they’re singing together, that deep voice a solid plane of earth under John’s feet, and he has to press his lips to Sherlock’s throat, to the source of that voice, and Sherlock’s voice hitches, hesitant.
“I expected you to-.” And John silences him, the voice he’d wanted to hear for too long, because he can hear the distancing power of logic rising in Sherlock’s voice, wanting to remind him of the long months of loneliness and uncertainty, of the anger that still lurks in John’s mind and will undoubtedly surface later, but this was not the time.
This was bloody Christmas.
“I expected you,” John says instead, agreeing in a tone that books no argument. He’s expected him forever, and all the damn foolishness that will follow when both of them come to their senses can wait until after. Right now John just needs to know that Sherlock is here, know it with every cell of his body, and within moments it’s not just hands touching, but skin on skin covering each other, sweat-slick and Sherlock with his pupils blown like he’s on the best trip of his life, and it’s John’s steadfast, whole-hearted belief that’s flowing through his veins. Pure heat and fire with snow falling outside, and John holding on to him and Sherlock knows he’s incapable of leaving, not like this, and their bodies are singing a primal song of pleasure that doesn’t care about their pasts, only that they need each other now.
There’s more than sweat running down their faces when they peak together, and John tastes Sherlock’s tears mingling with his own and collapses on him, hands gripping the bound wrists like he expects them to vanish underneath his touch like smoke.
“I won’t.” Negation is confirmation, that Sherlock is here. That he’ll stay. That John has found him, has had his belief rewarded. That Sherlock is bound and wrapped up and tied together and completely vulnerable and utterly, utterly free.
It’s Christmas morning, and Sherlock has found his way home to John.