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The hotel was opulently luxurious, but all John Watson cared about was that it was warm and dry, and there were no ex-IRA sharpshooters secreted among the potted plants in the lobby. Sherlock had handed him a credit card and ordered him to get a room, then disappeared. Which was just as well, for John was the marginally less bedraggled of the two.

Even still, the hotel clerk lifted an eyebrow at John’s wet hair and the mud stains—or were those bloodstains?—on his jacket, until he typed the name on the card into his little computer. He studied the screen, then his face slid into impassive expression and he asked simply, “The usual suite, sir?”

“Um, right, yeah,” John said, hardly caring as long as there was a shower, a bed, and room service.

“Right this way.” A porter appeared and invited John to follow him. John was vaguely surprised that they hadn’t been asked for passports or to sign anything, until he glanced at the card Sherlock had given him. Mycroft Holmes’s name opened many doors, apparently even in Ireland.

John followed the porter through the sleek lobby to a bank of elevators. He started in surprise when Sherlock appeared at his elbow, materializing out of nowhere as the aggravating detective was wont to do.

They rode in silence to the top floor, allowing the porter to let them into what at first glance looked like a small sitting room, but what John realized was just the beginning of suite of rooms. Since they’d been doing Mycroft a favor by dogging the suspects as far as Dublin, he supposed it was only fair that he foot the bill for a little luxury now that the case was successfully completed and three dangerous terrorists were now behind bars.

Sherlock swept into the room as if he owned the place, stripping off his filthy overcoat and tossing it over the back of an armchair. John followed more slowly. He was trying to sort out how he was feeling and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be near to Sherlock at the moment.

“I’m taking a shower,” Sherlock announced. The sitting room gave way to a kitchen and dining area, which gave way to two side by side bedrooms, each dominated by a huge king sized bed. John imagined each room had its own bathroom, but he was almost too tired to clean up. Sherlock had apparently chosen the room on the right, for he stalked into it and John could soon hear the water running in the bathroom.

John debated ordering room service, then went ahead and called down for a variety of things he and Sherlock both liked. They could put whatever was left in the shiny fridge in the kitchen. At least it would be nice not to have to share the refrigerator with any semi-decomposing body parts.

John wearily stripped off his clothes in the second bathroom, and started the spray of the fancy overhead shower. Mud and blood sluiced off his body; some of it was his, some of it Sherlock’s, most of it was one of the terrorists who they’d taken down. John’s forehead suddenly hurt, and he realized that he was still bleeding from a cut over his eyebrow. He stayed in the spray of water for a long time, thinking about the night’s events. Thinking about Sherlock.

They’d faced danger, and won, again. But it had been a near thing. Sherlock had nearly gotten shot, and John wouldn’t have been fast enough to save him. In the moment before Sherlock had thrown himself against the side of the building and the shot had blown harmlessly through the fabric of his overcoat, John had felt his world stop and fall to pieces. He didn’t have it in himself to lose Sherlock again. The fall and his two year absence had been bad enough, but not that long ago he’d recovered from another bullet wound, put there by John’s own wife.

Mary, since the miscarriage, had moved to another part of England and John thought of her a little bit less each day. That period of his life, strange as it had been, was over. Sherlock was the one he knew he couldn’t live without. And every time something reminded him that his partner was only just flesh and blood, he froze and found himself paralyzed at the prospect of losing him.

Sherlock himself seems oblivious to the risks he was taking. That very night, he’d used himself as bait to lure the terrorists out of their safe house, nearly getting himself killed in the process.

John was terrified. He was furious. He knew that Sherlock would not understand how upset he was, and that’s why he lingered in the bathroom, even though he could hear Sherlock speaking, probably to the room service attendant. John slipped on the thick cream colored terrycloth robe he found hanging on the back of the bathroom door.

“Better?” Sherlock asked when he finally emerged into the common room. The detective was wearing an identical robe to John’s, though his stopped mid calf while John’s fell to his ankles. John tried not to dwell on the fact that they were both naked underneath.

John debated how to answer. “Warmer.”

“This will warm you still further.” Sherlock handed him a glass of something amber colored. John sniffed experimentally before taking a swallow. Whisky. A flash of memory. John’s stag night, drinking whisky and laughing. Happy.

It did warm him, and the food helped, too. Sherlock even ate a decent amount. “We don’t have to be in London until tomorrow night, so we can take our time here.” Sherlock said, as the meal wound down. John hadn’t said anything at all.

“Is the cut on your forehead bothering you? I can arrange for medical assistance.”

John just stared at Sherlock. He’d be able to see as well as John could in the mirror that the cut was minor, and nothing that John, a doctor, couldn’t take care of.

“You’re upset.” Sherlock said, with no inflection at all in his voice.

“Brilliant bloody deduction,” John said, finally breaking his silence.

“But I’m not sure why.”

“I would try to explain it to you, but I don’t think you would understand.”

Sherlock huffed, and John noticed that instead of replying, he poured both John and himself another finger of whisky.

“I just—I don’t think you should have taken the risk you did tonight. We would have gotten those men without you throwing yourself to them like a chicken to a bloody pack of wolves.”

“My way was the most expedient choice. If I hadn’t lured them out, we’d still be sitting doing useless surveillance in the wrong part of town.”

“You almost got shot.” John said, proud that his voice didn’t waver.

“But I didn’t.”

“Pure luck. I couldn’t have—“

“What?”

“I couldn’t have stopped it from happening. I was too far away.  Why did you go ahead without me?”

Sherlock took his time in answering.

“I made a series of decisions based on the data and I took the path that I deemed most effective and least likely to put you in harm’s way.” He sounded almost confused, and John sighed. He knew that Sherlock wouldn’t understand.

“That’s all very logical, but did you take into account what your getting harmed might do to me? Christ, Sherlock, chasing villains around London, having chemical experiments blow up in your face, those are risks I can live with, but putting yourself directly in the line of fire of a bloody sniper and no back up—do you have a death wish?”

John noticed idly that his glass was empty again. He set it aside. Sherlock’s face held a puzzled expression.

“Of course not. I knew if I got injured, you’d be there to patch me up.”

“I wouldn’t have been able to patch up a bullet through your brain, as you well know.”

“I fail to see what all the fuss is about, John. I didn’t get a bullet through my brain. I’m safe. Your safe. Why dwell on our past actions?”

“I just—wish you would’t do things that could directly result in your death. All right? For me? Could you try not to do that?” John was glad he sounded irritated and not pleading.

The silence grew between them as Sherlock didn’t answer.

“Look, it’s late and I’m knackered.” John stood up, quickly sweeping the leftovers into the refrigerator, putting their dishes in the sink. He was glad that he didn’t have to do the washing up.

Sherlock still said nothing, his turn to give the silent treatment, apparently.

“Good night.” John said, then he went and closed his bedroom door solidly behind him.

He didn’t bother searching for night clothes to borrow in the voluminous dresser that took up one wall of the bedroom, just shucked off his robe and slid between the softest sheets he’d ever slept on and promptly fell asleep.

 

The dream was familiar, though the details were different every time. John was peering through a large plate glass window, through two of them. Sherlock was behind the second, out of earshot, completely out of John’s reach. He was being threatened and John knew that he was the only one who could save him. He had a clear shot of the killer. He drew up his gun, aimed. But when he went to fire, the gun in his hands was gone, replaced by his walking stick, and he could do nothing but watch as the killer slowly strangled Sherlock to death in front of John’s helpless eyes. Sometimes Sherlock was shot. Sometimes stabbed. Sometimes thrown out the window landing in a mess stories below. Tonight he was strangled, and John woke up, gasping, feeling the life being suffocated out of himself, too.

The dream had started after Sherlock returned from dismantling Moriarty’s network. Despite John’s vivid memories of actually taking the shot that had saved Sherlock’s life on the second night of their acquaintance, he relived it with a less happy outcome a couple of times a month, at least.

He struggled for breath and started violently when the door to his room swung open. Sherlock stood in the doorway, his lanky frame clad only in silk boxers. “John?” His voice betrayed no hint of sleep.

“Um, I’m all right, Sherlock,” he said, though his voice came out in an appalling quaver.

Sherlock disappeared from view, leaving the door open, and John felt unaccountably bereft, his panic starting to rise again.

But Sherlock returned a moment later, a glass in his hand. He came next to the head of the bed, handing John the glass.

John struggled to sit up, aware of his nakedness under the tangle of snow white sheets. He took the glass and expected to taste whisky, but it was only water, and it tasted deliciously fresh, clearing his mind and body of the stress of the dream.

“Thanks.”

Sherlock didn’t say anything, didn’t move.

“I was having a bad dream,” John said unnecessarily.

“The same one?”

John had told Sherlock about the recurring dream after he’d moved back into Baker Street and Sherlock had had to wake him from it on more than one occasion.

“Yeah.”

“How did I die this time?”

“Strangled.”

“Ugh. Boring.”

“Sorry my subconscious isn’t up to something more interesting.” But John wasn’t really mad. He was glad, actually, that Sherlock was there. It always helped him to see him, in the flesh, unharmed, being his usual acerbic, brilliant, annoying self.

Before he could stop himself, John reached for Sherlock’s hand, to feel for himself that his friend was real, warm and alive.

Sherlock didn’t seem to mind the gesture. He squeezed John’s hand in what would have been a reassuring way if John had thought Sherlock was capable of being reassuring.

The feeling sent a wave of simple joy through John, chasing the last of the demons of the dream away.

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock said. John pulled his hand away in pure shock. Sherlock Holmes was apologizing for something?

Sherlock sank down to perch on the edge of the bed. John could have scooted over to make room for him, but he found he liked being just inches from the detective. He’d learned not to be overly concerned about things like personal space since befriending Sherlock Holmes.

“I realize my actions tonight inadvertently caused you emotional trauma which directly resulted in you having a negative dream. I’m sorry.”

John nodded. Sherlock was always forgiven; he never even had to ask.

“Despite evidence to the contrary, it pains me to cause you grief, John. If I had known what disappearing for two years would do to you, I would have recalculated my plans to take that into account.”

“The past is past,” John said. “I just hate knowing what my life would be like if you ever left me again, and if was permanent this time. I might not be able to—“

“Don’t finish that sentence. You would be able to. You have to promise me that you would.”

Sherlock looked so serious, that even though John knew he was making a promise he might not be able to keep, he nodded. “All right.”

“Good.” And then Sherlock did something that John would relive in his memory forever. He took one of his marvelous, clever fingers, and traced the outline of the cut on John’s forehead, slowly, gently. John felt the stroke in every cell of his nervous system, right down to the bottoms of his feet. John looked at Sherlock’s face, and saw that his eyes were not on John’s eyes, but on his mouth, and John’s heart started beating triple time, and he involuntarily parted his lips a little because every instinct he had was screaming at him that he was about to be kissed and he’d never wanted anything so much in his entire life.

“John?” Sherlock sounded a bit puzzled, but his finger was still on John’s face, and he dropped it lower, until his hand was cradling John’s chin.

John breathed out a “Yes,” that was an  answer to every question that Sherlock could possibly be asking him, and he closed the distance between their lips with one definitive move.

It was like a little explosion of heat and wet and lips and tongue and teeth. Before they had been two people, and now they were one, joined at the breath, leaning into one another, kissing one another as if their lives depended on it, which they practically did. John opened his mouth and let the moan rise up as he took everything that Sherlock was giving him, which was quite a lot of tongue and wet thrusting that made John’s mind immediately turn to the question of where they’d inevitably take this, since his entire body was responding eagerly to this one, desperate kiss.

Then, he didn’t have to think, because Sherlock pushed him down on the bed, flat on his back, and covered John’s stout, firm body with his own slender, lithe one. The feeling of Sherlock on top of him, practically naked, their mouths joined, their hands entangled, their legs touching, their cocks within mere inches of one another, was the best feeling John had ever had. He was in bliss. He already felt like his mind had orgasmed at the sheer fucking amazingness of it all, and they were barely a minute into touching one another.

But he knew he’d been primed for this for weeks, months, hell, even years, when the invitation for dinner had fallen out of Sherlock’s lips after John had ended another human being’s life for a man he’d just met, and John’s reaction had been, “Starving,” but what he’d really meant was,“Yes please, dinner tonight, and for the rest of our lives. I’d do anything for you.”

And maybe Sherlock had known that, or maybe he didn’t. But this was happening now, and it felt fucking incredible.

Sherlock kept kissing him and John moaned when one of Sherlock’s hands closed firmly around his thickening cock. The sensation made him buck and writhe and he grappled with one hand to reciprocate, pushing the silk of Sherlock’s boxers away, filling his hand with Sherlock’s length, and getting a gratifying moan into his mouth in return.

They kissed and stroked one another, and John was simply letting the pressure and pleasure build and build, until Sherlock broke the kiss, came away from his body for a moment, shucked his boxers, and repositioned them so their cocks were touching, rubbing against one another. God, fuck, it was hot, feeling his erection slide and rub against his best friend’s, and John felt like he was almost going to come, then Sherlock reached down and held their cocks together and John yelled out something incoherent but which could have been translated as fuck, yes, Sherlock, as he bucked and came all over Sherlock’s hands and cock and chest, and Sherlock came moments later, their come mixing and making both of them sticky and wet.

John was completely relaxed, as if all of his stress, fear, anxiety had been cleared out with one amazing orgasm. He didn’t even protest when Sherlock rose from the bed and disappeared for a moment, returning with wet washcloths with which he carefully cleaned first John, then himself, before settling into John’s bed. John turned to look Sherlock in the eyes. He didn’t feel the need to speak, but he wanted to see what was in Sherlock’s eyes. Sherlock was looking at him as if he was cataloguing everything about John. Post coital John. There was a small smile playing around the corners of his wickedly beautiful lips, and John felt safe and whole for the first time in perhaps ever. He leaned over to press a kiss to Sherlock’s lips and closed his eyes.

 

John woke to the rather lovely feeling of being stroked, almost like a cat, from the nape of his neck all the way to the base of his spine. Sherlock’s hands were gentle put purposeful, and John lay still, willing him to continue. He had no idea how long he’d been asleep, but morning light was filtering into the room from the single window, and he felt grit from sleep in his eyes. The sheets smelled like Sherlock, and John instinctively knew that the detective might not have slept but he had stayed with John all night. And now he was somewhere behind him, out of John’s line of sight.

Sherlock continued to stroke, and John’s skin responded, nerves coming awake, the sensation growing in pitch every second, until the pleasure of the touch started turning into something else—arousal and need. John shifted, and Sherlock responded by holding him in place. John trusted him, so he let Sherlock lead. He heard a bottle opening and a moment later the stroking felt different. Sherlock’s fingers were covered with something warm and wet, and he didn’t stop at the top of John’s spine, but his clever fingers traced the line between the globes of John’s ass, lightly but surely, stopping at his asshole, where they began to massage, then probe, until a single finger stretched itself inside of him. John would have been disconcerted by this entirely new sensation if not for the fact that his cock had never been harder, and it felt so bloody wonderful. He pushed back, inviting Sherlock to go further, and Sherlock complied. He stroked with the first finger, then added a second, twisting and moving them inside of John in such a way as to manipulate the most sensitive spots, making John almost breathless with arousal. His cock was hard and trapped between his body and the bed, and he wanted to touch himself so badly.

Sherlock, as if he could read John’s mind, said, “Don’t touch yourself.” John groaned.

“Let me.” A lube-slicked hand reached around, closing itself over John’s length. He had Sherlock’s fingers in his ass and his hand around his cock, and John felt like he could die happy. Then Sherlock started to move and it all suddenly became too much and not enough. He gasped and writhed as his focus narrowed down to the two areas of his body that Sherlock was in contact with. Then Sherlock began to talk, in his delicious baritone, and John was aware of every excruciatingly incredible feeling that was coursing through his body.

“I’m going to fuck you, John. I need to be inside you, for my cock to be inside you.” He paused both his words and his movements. John figured he was supposed to respond in some way. He managed a strangled, “Oh God, yes!” and Sherlock blessedly started moving again. “I’m going to press my cock into your ass and feel you clench around me, and then I’m going to thrust in and out, working your cock and your balls with my hand, until we’re about to come. Then I’m going to take my cock out and turn you over, and slide into you again with your cock between us and I’m going to hold down your arms and fuck you until I come and you’ll come from that alone.”

John moaned. Sherlock’s words were making John even harder, if that were possible. He thought that Sherlock would have to act quickly if that’s what was going to happen because John felt he might come in about three more strokes of Sherlock’s clever hand. But again, Sherlock seemed to anticipate that, and all of sudden the hand was gone and the fingers were gone, and he heard more lube being applied, and John though that that squelching, wet sound was maybe the most erotic thing he’d ever heard, besides Sherlock saying he was going to fuck him.

Then he felt something smooth and hard and wet at his opening and Sherlock’s hands gripped John’s hips, raising him up onto his knees. “Oh God, John, I want you so badly, I need to—” and his gorgeous voice faltered as he pushed inside John, just a little, so John could grow used to this large intrusion, and then he kept pushing and John kept taking, feeling that Sherlock’s length was endless, but he’d take it all, because he loved him and he felt full with the knowledge that Sherlock was inside him, warm and alive, which is all John had ever wanted. And then something happened, when Sherlock released John’s hips, and cupped his balls, and John could feel the length of Sherlock’s body against his and he could imagine how it looked, the taller, paler man, stretched over his own compact body, joined intimately, sharing sweat and semen and other bodily fluids, and he didn’t feel uncomfortably stretched anymore, he felt needy and greedy and demanded, “Fuck me, Sherlock. Please.”

Sherlock began, slowly at first, but John felt so incredible that he asked for more, harder, fuck, and it seemed Sherlock couldn’t deny him. Sherlock kept talking, a string of broken phrases that was utterly unlike him, “John, more, so hot, so tight, yes….”

The friction built and every stroke of Sherlock’s cock hit John’s prostate in a decidedly pleasurable fashion, and even though John wanted Sherlock to stay inside of him forever, he knew he was close to coming. “Sherlock.”

And he knew what John meant, what John wanted, and he pulled out, but flipped John so quickly onto his back and pushed his cock into his hole so quickly that John let out a grunt of surprise. “All right?”

John took a moment to just savor the beauty of the man on top of him, the man he loved more than life, who was sweaty and disheveled and angularly handsome. “All right,” he said, and Sherlock leaned down to kiss him, capturing his hands above his head, pressing his cock into him as far it could possibly go. When Sherlock broke the kiss John was panting. He didn’t care. He needed Sherlock more than he needed air. His cock was straining for release, but he let Sherlock have his way, let him pump into John with all the determined focus that he brought to the most intricate of experiments. “Sherlock, I—“

“I know.” And Sherlock’s eyes closed and he threw back his head, a shout ripped from his lips. “John!” And John could feel Sherlock pumping his seed into John’s body, then he felt his own orgasm tear through him and the ropes of come that splashed across John and Sherlock’s body were hot.

Sherlock collapsed on top of John, and halfheartedly pulled out of him. John didn’t care how much of a mess they were, he pulled Sherlock closer, so their mouths met and their hands tangled as the waves of that spectacular orgasm began to recede.

They lay together, until their breathing slowed and the air around them cooled, and John realized that he’d be quite sore later, but he couldn’t dredge up any concern about the fact.

“John?” Sherlock seemed to be using his name to ask a lot of questions lately.

“Yes?”

“I love you, too.”

“I know.”

“Should I arrange for a late check-out?”

“Hell, why don’t we stay another night?”

“All right.”

“All right.”