It’s Christmas, and Sherlock is sitting at the kitchen table with Mycroft while Mummy peels root vegetables in preparation for Christmas lunch. It could be a scene from his childhood if it wasn’t for the Armani suit on his body and the extra thirteen pounds on his brother’s.
The still noticeable pain in his torso when he bends or breathes deeply is further reminder of the present - but Sherlock doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to be now.
Now is ritual cheer and family bickering and being invisible and waiting, and oh how he hates waiting. Also, John has yet to arrive, and since John is probably the only person who’s ever made Christmas bearable, his absence is distinctly noticeable.
…On the other hand, since he has to wait, that means he has time - and it’s been a while since he’s indulged, and - well - if everything goes well this afternoon, it won’t matter. And if everything goes wrong - it won’t matter, either, in an entirely different sort of way.
Where’s the harm? Sherlock thinks, and with that absolves himself, removes himself, and it’s not difficult to do this, to retreat, to imagine, even surrounded by the bustle of the kitchen and his family and Christmas. With practiced ease, Sherlock erases the distractions, one by one, and then replaces them - setting and sounds and people.
The nursery, he decides, because why not? He’d never thought to include it before, preferring locations more to hand, but now proximity is in its favour. And besides, isn’t this some sort of normal-people-sex thing? Childhood bedroom fumblings validated by returning as a full-fledged sexual adult? Tedious, but maybe John -
Maybe that’s the sort of thing that would entice John, set the tinder and kindling of their current situation ablaze. Flatmates to friends to whatever they are now - two men living together, one the victim of a high-impact round to the thoracic cavity, and the other a survivor of the high impact betrayal of the woman who pulled the trigger.
Both of them recovering from the same gunshot wound.
Sherlock rolls his eyes at his own maudlin thoughts and gets himself back on track. Nursery. Right.
It would have to be night in reality, when everyone else was asleep, but this is his mind, his fantasy, and he wants sunlight through the windows, gold and warm and not-at-all-Christmas-y.
Sherlock would slip away, sneak upstairs to put some distance between himself and the goings-on downstairs, the punch and presents, the questions and quiet looks, and maybe John would follow - or maybe he wouldn’t, but he’d notice Sherlock’s absence and go looking - or maybe he’d just know where to find him, like he sometimes does-
Whatever the means, Sherlock would be upstairs, surrounded by the cool blue walls and white linens and picked-over bookcases and memories of his youth, all so much smaller than he’d thought them all those years ago. Everything less grand and exciting, much as the world had turned out to be…
Until John had limped into his life - and like that day at Bart’s, now he would arrive again, without the limp this time, and the room would glow -
Fanciful, Sherlock snorts at himself, but the notion stands, sentimental and ineradicable. It is a fact that rooms containing John are not only brighter, but bigger, and if physics disagrees, then the current spacial-relationship theories are wrong.
"Sherlock?" John would say, his voice lilting up in a question at the end (except this time, maybe it would be an offer).
"John," Sherlock would reply, voice deep, the way he knows catches John’s ear, John’s attention - John’s interest?
"Everyone else has gone to bed," John would - No. "Everyone’s sat down to Christmas lunch -" No. Sherlock twitches in annoyance, tries to re-set himself, his thoughts. It’s afternoon. There’s sunlight. It’s not Christmas, not here at least.
If he were home, safely ensconced in his room at 221B, he’d be having John by now, or John would be having him, and he’d be a mess of desperate, quiet pleasure, but with this new setting Sherlock needs to think through the steps that lead to plausibility, because without plausibility, these thoughts amount to little more than self-torture.
Quite frankly he’s had enough of that.
"You disappeared," John says, voice worried and accusatory and searching and betrayed and curious and questioning and a thousand other little layers of meaning and emotion that he’s probably not even adding intentionally. John is so easy to read, because he shows everything, everything, on his face, in his voice, in his actions.
John is impossible to read, because he shows so much, and how is one person supposed to understand all of it at once?
Focus: John said: “You disappeared,”
from outside the closed door, no from just inside the room no, this instead: from the doorway, and now John steps in and closes the door behind himself, face full of caring and lines and everything. “Is everything ok?”
Such a very John thing to ask, to wonder - and most people ask this at some point, but few actually want an answer. Fewer still care what that answer is, and then there’s John, who will wait and wait for an answer, pry it loose from Sherlock’s lips like it’s a precious jewel, as if it were integral to John’s continued existence that he knows whether Sherlock’s ‘ok’ or not.
For that reason Sherlock doesn’t answer, and John moves closer, and Sherlock wonders if this time he’ll just turn and take John, surprise John’s lips with his own, open his mouth, and pour himself inexpertly into John with a rush of breath and taste and touch -
Instead John comes to stand beside Sherlock, peering curiously at the leftovers of a childhood best forgotten.
He watches as John’s eyes track the walls, stopping at the patch of un-faded paint where something rectangular had hung for years, and Sherlock wonders if John would recognize -
"Your periodic table?" John could ask - and why not? John’s smarter than half of Scotland Yard put together. John would continue to survey the room and then say: "God, Sherlock, I’m sorry."
Sherlock blinks, nonplussed, and asks, “What?”
"You must have been so lonely," John says, and Sherlock flinches.
It shouldn’t be possible for his mind to startle him, for his thought-up version of John to say something he hasn’t thought himself, or at least, never allowed himself to think - but there’s always something, with John more so than anyone else.
And then John voices a wish Sherlock had thought he’d buried with all other useless and pointlessly painful things: “I wish I’d met you earlier.”
Sherlock swallows against the tightness in his throat, has to look away - but then there’s warmth against his wrist, pulling his attention back, and that heat slides down to press against his palm, wriggling until it’s laced with his fingers, and they’re holding hands now - and Sherlock isn’t sure when he decided to move on to the touching stage of the fantasy. It seems disjointed, unbalanced. It is simultaneously behind and ahead of schedule, but perhaps it is still plausible?
It has to be. Please, it has to be, because:
John’s hand is against Sherlock’s cheek, turning him, and then John’s lips are against his, Sherlock’s mouth opening for John’s, and it’s warm and wet and breathless, and John says in between kisses, “You’re not surprised,” and Sherlock doesn’t answer, instead focusing on moving backwards until the bed bumps against the backs of his knees, and they tumble backwards into sheets painted warm and gold by improbable sunlight.
Clothes fall away, are thought away, discarded mentally, and Sherlock knows that if this thing ever comes to pass in real and waking life that these will be the awkward moments: socks and cuffs and buttons uncooperative, fingers clumsy and over-eager. He should practice these moments, rehearse these movements, but he can’t, he can’t, not when memories of John shirtless dance before his eyes, snatches of sight from when he’d walked in on John (accidentally, the first time) showering, changing, masturbating -
Sherlock lets his thoughts rush ahead, and now they are naked, skin against glorious, glowing skin, and the nursery is bigger and brighter than he ever thought it was, with John pressed up against him, hard and willing and wanting.
"Oh god, Sherlock," John would moan - could moan, oh please, oh please let it be possible - and Sherlock always hopes that he’ll make deep, beautiful, sultry noises, sounds that John could find pleasing, arousing, but he knows from past solitary experiments that his default sexual repertoire consists of choked off gasps and sobs, John’s name hardly ever completed, deteriorating into a high pitched, needy whine, and god, oh god, oh god -
Sherlock doesn’t know what John would (could - will?) feel like inside him, only knows his own fingers’ fullness, but that’s enough to theorize. He wants that stretch, that burn, that deep and hungry ache, that fade from pain to pleasure - and he wants it from John.
He wonders how he would feel for John, doesn’t know if there’s a way to ensure that John will like being inside him enough to want to do it again, to not leave, to - perhaps - choose Sherlock over other options indefinitely, but he can hope and he can want, and oh how he does.
Sherlock imagines he would come first - masturbation has always been about efficiency and speed, or at least, it had been until John had sauntered into his thoughts - but old habits and inclinations die hard. He wonders if the order of orgasms is important, if John would care one way or another, but then John is so accepting of most things (heads in the fridge, thumbs in the crisper), so perhaps this would not be an issue?
"Problem?" he could ask, if John stopped, but maybe John would appreciate Sherlock being overcome by his touch and greater experience, maybe instead of stopping, he’d cry out, "Sherlock!" and just keep right on taking him, claiming Sherlock with his body and his desire, until John comes, muscles tightening, then shuddering, thrusting arhythmically as he spills himself, wet and warm, deep inside Sherlock.
Sherlock wonders what the absorption rate of semen is where the tissues of the anus and rectum are concerned.
After is always difficult. Sherlock wonders if they would talk, or if John would fall asleep - or maybe leave? Maybe he would want to clean the evidence from his body right away. Sherlock hopes not, but he runs through those scenarios dutifully, preparing just in case.
Sherlock doesn’t often sleep after masturbating, so he assumes whatever happens, he would be awake to react to it, so he should be ready.
"That was gorgeous," John says this time, surprising Sherlock again, but he lets it stand, generous just this once, but in the next moment John adds:
"I love you."
Sherlock clenches his jaw and seethes, roils, for a moment, until it all drains away, leaving behind a single thought, like driftwood after high tide: Obviously he’s not done torturing himself quite yet. He may never be.
He doesn’t let John say anything else after that, none of the words that are clamoring to be said/thought/heard, none of the words Sherlock wants said, wants to say himself, because - because -
It’s best not to hope for for the best, Sherlock’s found.
God, how those words ache inside him, though, filling his throat and mouth until breathing feels like bruising, and it’s time to stop it, stop this.
Sherlock takes one last, lingering look at John beside him as he wants him to be, sated, and his eyes are saying the things Sherlock won’t let spill from his lips, so Sherlock closes his eyes in the sun-drenched nursery, takes a deep breath, and opens his eyes in the kitchen and Christmas.
The table covers his flagging erection, and the barest wetness of pre-ejaculate isn’t even close to bleeding through his pants to his trousers; Sherlock had long ago learned to mitigate his body’s autonomous arousal responses in public. He can feel dampness in the pits of his arms and his upper lip, but otherwise knows he appears bored, disinterested.
It would take Mycroft to notice anything amiss, and brother dearest is currently sqwuaking about his laptop’s proximity to potatoes, so no threat there.
Mummy bustles out (taking a drink to the woman who shot him) and not long after, John arrives.
Sherlock knows because there is more light, more space in which to breathe, the John Effect extending even to the kitchen. He wants to sit and soak it in, or go into the room where John is and let everything about John seep into every part of him -
The waiting is done, now - there’s no more time.
Time to see if everything will go well - or wrong.