The late spring air was heavy with the promise of rain.
John took the long way home from the surgery, walking through Regent’s Park. Halfway there, the rain began to fall, leaves dipping toward the ground as they grew heavy with drops. John shook out his umbrella and put it up, sliding his other hand in his jacket pocket.
A sort of calm fell over him when it rained; the sound of raindrops plopping on vinyl umbrellas, the whooshing of black taxis’ wheels through potholes full of water. People scurrying toward shelter, holding newspapers over their heads.
It was always the same when it rained. It was soothing in its inevitability, its predictability.
When he reached the point in the park where that one bench stood, John paused for a moment. He had walked by it thousands of times, never acknowledging its significance, but for some reason, this time he paused.
Big droplets of rain were gathering into larger reservoirs on the painted wood, the divots in the seat where he and Mike had sat, seven long years ago, drinking coffee.
That’s not the John Watson I know, Mike had said.
I’m not the John Watson—John had begun to say, flare of rage overtaking him, before stopping himself, flexing his bad hand.
That day, he had been wandering the city, finding any excuse not to go back to the small bedsit, avoiding the gun in his desk drawer. There had been nothing, no one, waiting for him...only grey, endless days stretching toward the horizon.
Then he’d run into Mike, and Sherlock had swept into his life, a hurricane of wool coat and dark hair and quick words that cut deep, and John had been smitten within the first two hours.
Standing here, though, listening to the rain fall on his umbrella, dichotomously reminded him of standing in front of a glossy black gravestone. A gravestone that, he now knew, had stood over an empty grave.
The story of their lives had always been about emptiness. The empty space between their bodies, which John had wanted to close so many times, to just...give in, finally. But he never had. And now it almost felt too late.
John let his upper lip curl, a deep pit forming in his stomach at the thought.
He’d always believed that someday...but then Sherlock had been dead, and he’d met Mary, and Mary had been safer in so many ways. Until it turned out she was the most dangerous of all. And now she was gone.
There wasn’t anything stopping him from telling Sherlock how he felt, now. Yet, he still hadn’t said anything, or done anything.
John flexed his left hand on reflex, though his arm rarely bothered him anymore.
Why do you think that is? Ella’s voice popped into his head.
He pressed his lips together and turned on his heel, walking with a slight spring to his step, weaving through the other evening commuters.
John turned down Baker Street and walked up the well-worn, familiar steps, opening the door with his key.
“I’m home,” he called up the stairs as he propped his umbrella up to dry.
Sherlock’s curly head popped over the railing of the stairwell. “Shhh,” he chastised. “I just got her to sleep.”
John hunched his shoulders. “Sorry,” he whispered.
Sherlock sniffed, and his head disappeared.
John trudged quietly up to their flat, his joints creaking a bit as he walked up the last few steps—when had he gotten so old?—and hung his coat on its hook.
Sherlock was in the kitchen, his back to the entrance, carefully meting out tea leaves into the teapot. John leaned his head against the doorframe, as he often did, and watched. Sherlock’s eyelashes lowered as he poured the hot water into the teapot, his sinewy arms flexing beneath the bathrobe. It was so blessedly boring in its normality, Sherlock making tea.
There was a baby monitor on the counter, along with a mostly-empty bottle of formula. Some kind of experiment was in progress on the kitchen table, tea cups of noxious-looking fluids interspersed with baby toys, and a toddler book on the solar system was sitting on the high chair tray.
He’d often come home to find Rosie sitting in her chair as Sherlock did an experiment, explaining his steps to her as if she were an adult with seven PhDs. Rosie would usually have fist in her mouth, eyes wide, hanging on his every word.
If she turned out to be a chemist, Sherlock would probably spout some bravado about not caring, but he’d secretly be thrilled. John didn’t much care what Rosie did, so long as she didn’t follow in her mother’s footsteps: a career murderess who was finally murdered herself.
John clamped down on that thought just as it crossed his mind, stuffed it into a tiny box, and exiled it to the far back of his mind.
Sherlock opened the cabinets, frowning as he realized that there were no clean tea cups; most of them were currently on the table. John’s mouth twitched upward into a smile.
He’d always loved watching Sherlock, ever since that first day, when he’d first been caught up in the whirling maelstrom of brilliance that was Sherlock’s mind. He’d wanted to push Sherlock up against the wall in that dingy room in Brixton and snog him senseless, despite the dead body only feet away on the dusty floor.
John ached, for the thousandth time in his life, to cross over and run his hand through those messy curls, to tuck his nose into the back of Sherlock’s neck and just inhale, the way he did with Rosie when he needed to ground himself, to make himself feel like he was back home.
But they weren’t like that. Even after all this time, after seven years, they still weren’t that. The ache in his chest was a familiar comfort to him now.
Sherlock turned, his brow still knit, and John stood up a bit straighter, trying to school his expression into something neutral.
“Hey,” he said, lamely.
If Sherlock noticed his soppy contemplations, he gave no indication whatsoever. Instead, he picked up the formula bottle, waving it between his index and thumb.
“She drank half an ounce less than this morning,” he said, frowning.
John rolled his eyes. “She drinks different amounts at different times, Sherlock. She’s a baby, not a robot."
Sherlock harrumphed. That was the actual sound that came out of his mouth, a harrumph. “It’s because she doesn’t like the formula. Tastes terrible. She told me.”
“She told you.” John raised his eyebrows. To be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
Sherlock blinked at him. “Yes. She told me.”
“She can’t talk yet, let alone express emotions like love and hate.”
Sherlock’s lower lip jutted out in a pout. “I don’t understand why she has to eat this at all.”
“Again, she’s a baby, Sherlock. She needs nutrients.”
“I think we should find her breast milk.”
“Ah, we get to the bottom of this whole tirade. I had a good day at work, by the way, thanks for asking.” John dropped his messenger bag on a chair, irritation coursing through him.
“It’s not a tirade,” Sherlock’s plump lip turned downward in an exaggerated pout. “I just—”
“Well since her mother is dead, where exactly do you suggest we get breast milk?” John snapped.
Sherlock’s eyes widened as his mouth clicked shut.
They stared at each other for a long moment, and John felt his throat working. Sherlock’s eyes were sharp, evaluating, tinged with a deep hurt; but he said nothing.
They never talked about this—about her. Not once since John had moved back in with Rosie.
John put a palm to his face. “Christ,” he said, the word muffled.
He didn’t blame Sherlock for it, not anymore, and yet he’d chosen to bring it up, twist the knife. He’d broken the delicate balance they’d struck for so long.
“John,” Sherlock’s voice was so gentle that John’s heart fissured from the quiet intensity of it.
“I’m going to go up and check on Rosie,” John said. He turned and marched up the stairs as fast as possible.
Classic avoidance, Ella said in his head.
Piss off, he told her.
Rosie was fast asleep, her bumblebee stuffed animal tucked in next to her—she’d called it “beh” the other day, Sherlock had been convinced it was her first word, but John thought she was just making sounds. Sherlock had bought it for her, and John was certain that was the reason she loved it so much.
He reached into the crib and brushed her round, soft cheek with the back of his fingers. She snuffled a little in her sleep but didn’t wake.
John ached to pick her up and just breathe her in, but rule number one was never to wake a sleeping baby, and he knew he’d regret it.
Instead, he just stood there, hands on the side of the crib, watching her sleep.
The carousel night light on the dresser twirled, its light danced over the walls, horses chasing butterflies that were somehow the same size.
He should go back downstairs and apologize. They should probably talk about the fact that his wife, who had almost killed Sherlock once, had then taken a bullet for him. But they didn’t talk about things. They didn’t express their feelings like that.
Instead, he walked over to his bed and lay down, looking up at the ceiling.
They weren’t like that. And that was the problem.
It felt as though he were becoming unspooled, like someone had started pulling the thread of his being and he was unraveling. Flashes, memories, paraded in front of him one by one.
Sherlock’s lifeless body on the ground in Magnussen’s office, his lifeblood seeping out onto his white shirt.
The softness of Sherlock’s skin against his as they shook hands on tarmac next to a learjet, his body still and calm, his mind screaming don’t go, don’t leave me, please.
The sound of a gunshot in the shark observation deck, Mary’s last rattling breaths.
The thing was...the thing was.
He’d been more afraid of losing Sherlock in that moment than he had Mary. When he’d seen the barrel of a gun pointed at Sherlock...it was like seeing his worst fear realized for the third time.
Not again. No. I can’t lose him again. I can’t.
And then, Mary had taken the bullet instead. Mary had died instead. And if he was being honest with himself, he had been relieved, for a split second.
And then he’d hated himself for it.
Now, though. After waiting so long, after wanting Sherlock so much, he couldn’t contain it anymore, hide it anymore, not even a little bit. So his impulse was to push Sherlock away, not to deal with it, not to acknowledge the way he felt.
John looked up at the lights, and didn’t move.
He wasn’t sure how long he had lain there when the door opened slowly, creaking on its hinges.
“I really need to oil that thing,” John muttered, closing his eyes.
He heard Sherlock pad over softly and lay down gingerly on the bed next to him.
“You forgot your tea.”
“Sod the tea.”
“John.” He said it in the same exact tone he’d used downstairs—the one that made John’s heart squeeze in his chest.
John let his eyes flutter open, focusing his gaze on the ceiling again. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Sherlock’s pale profile against the darkness of the room.
Sherlock knew every single thing about him, he always had. He had to know this too. So why hadn’t he ever acknowledged it, or even poked at it? His favorite pastime was to flay people open, show their greatest flaws.
Yet he’d never said anything.
They lay there in silence, watching the colored lights paint the grey walls purple and pink.
They did this somewhat often, especially in the middle of the night, when Rosie woke up. Sherlock was often up anyway, so he always came up and helped soothe her back to sleep, telling her a story—usually a gruesome murder—though it was probably was just the sound of his voice that lulled her into slumber.
He and Sherlock would lie on John’s bed after, trying to make sure she was really settled. At least, that’s what John told himself, but he never asked Sherlock to leave when it was clear that she was truly down for the count. It was a bad habit, but he had started to look forward to falling asleep next to Sherlock, even if that was all it ever was. Sherlock was almost always gone when he woke up the next morning.
John swallowed, after the silence had already stretched on too long, trying to muster up a bit of courage.
“I’m sorry,” he said, the words coming out rusty, unused.
Sherlock didn’t speak. After a moment, he turned toward John on the bed, their bodies so close that John could feel his warmth, but they weren’t quite touching.
John let his eyes fall shut again, feeling the edges his awareness, beyond the dark chasm behind his eyelids. He was aware of every part of Sherlock’s being, right next to his—so, so close, and yet so far away.
How many times had he lain next to Sherlock like this, aching to turn over and kiss him?
He could cross the distance in only half a second.
The carousel ran out of steam and slowed down, turning off, plunging the room in semi-darkness, the dim grey twilight coming through the window doing little to illuminate it.
Say it. Just fucking do it. It’s been too long already.
“I can’t do this anymore, Sherlock.”
Sherlock stiffened immediately. John felt his heart pounding in his ears, waiting. Waiting for Sherlock to finally acknowledge that there was something between them, something that had been buried so deep and had so many scars that even thinking about it was like prodding at a wound that had never quite healed.
Sherlock licked his lips and finally spoke. “Do what?” he asked, his voice low.
“Sherlock, if you play dumb right now, I swear to god.”
“I wouldn’t know how to ‘play dumb’ if I tried, John.”
John snorted. “You’re the most observant man in the universe. You have to know. You can’t tell me that after all this time, you don’t know.”
Pause. “I...I don’t know what you’re talking about right now.”
John blew all the air out of his lungs, pressing his hands to his eyes so hard that he saw stars.
“John.” Sherlock almost sounded like he was pleading with him, which just made John angrier.
“You just keep saying my name over and over again, do you know you’re doing that?” John snapped. Suddenly everything felt too close, Sherlock felt too close. How had it gone on this long? How had he not snapped before this? It felt like he’d been walking on a tightrope for almost a decade, waiting to fall off.
“Seven years, Sherlock. Seven years, and you’re still pretending that there’s nothing? After you being dead, after Mary? After the tarmac, your overdose?"
There was another long pause. Then Sherlock moved even closer, close enough that if John shifted, they’d be pressed together, chest to thigh.
The seconds stretched out, John’s heart beating so hard that he could feel it in his ears. The only sound was the distant wail of a siren in the distance. They lay in silence for a solid minute before Sherlock spoke again.
“When you weren’t here, I wished I had actually jumped off the roof,” he said, his voice quiet, careful, incongruous with the violence of the statement.
John’s stomach clenched. Shock surged through him, then anger followed close on its coattails, then grief so deep that it felt like his head was being split in half. Suddenly he was in the parking lot of Bart’s all over again, watching Sherlock fall to his death, seeing the glassy, deadened look in his eyes. Pale skin stained with blood, and no pulse in his wrist. He’s my friend, he’s my friend.
“What the fuck, Sherlock,” he finally choked out.
Sherlock’s eyes, which were strangely luminous in the half light, were darting all over John’s face, and he knew that he was being scrutinized. “That’s why I relapsed, John. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Not.”
John licked his lips, realizing what he was referring to. “After the wedding, you mean?"
Sherlock let the silence stretch out for a moment, then nodded.
After they’d realized they were pregnant, John had...well. He’d gotten a bit distracted. But then after a dance or two, he’d looked around, and in an instant he’d realized that Sherlock was no longer there. The look in Sherlock’s eyes had been one of such visceral pain, that he’d known deep down what Sherlock had gone off to do.
He’d thought about running after him immediately, but who left their own wedding to chase after the best man?
“Why are you telling me this?” John felt his throat tighten. “Are you trying to make me feel guilty for being with Mary? Because the only reason I was with her—”
“No, John,” Sherlock interrupted. “I’m just...I’ve never told you. I want to...I need to tell you, now. So you understand.”
John swallowed, his tongue so dry that it stuck to the roof of his mouth, but he nodded.
Sherlock pressed his lips together, hesitating. That was odd; Sherlock never hesitated, never considered his words before saying them. He just said things.
But they were changed men, the both of them.
Sherlock’s tongue darted out to lick his bottom lip. He inhaled deeply before speaking again.
“You being gone...I was untethered. I never expected to,” he made a nose of frustration. “I don’t get attached to people.” Sherlock’s gaze lowered, his eyelashes fanning over his cheeks.
John bit back a retort, waiting for him to finish.
“I couldn’t bear it if you...if you left again.”
John frowned. “I’m not going anywhere, Sherlock. That’s not what I’m talking about.”
Sherlock’s hesitation was like a physical presence. “But you said...you said you can’t take it…”
“I meant that I can’t take…” Christ. He still couldn’t say it. After berating Sherlock about it, he still couldn’t say I can’t stand being here with you without actually being with you. It’s driving me insane, slowly, day after day, second by second.
“You’re doing it again,” John said, without any heat.
Another long pause. But this time, instead of breaking the silence with words, Sherlock pressed his thigh against John’s, and John felt the air gush out of his lungs.
Physical contact was something they didn’t do, not anymore. Before Sherlock died, it happened all the time; inadvertent brushes of hands or feet, but now...it was too delicate, this thing between them, like a bubble that could burst at the smallest contact.
“What are you doing?” John breathed. The air between them was thick with unsaid words, with want, the visceral, aching need.
“What do you want, John?” Sherlock asked, voice soft.
“Fuck, I want. I want.” John pressed himself a little closer on the bed, so that their faces were inches from each other.
“Say it.” Sherlock’s breath was warm against his face.
He opened his mouth, shutting it again, teeth clenched. “I can’t,” John said, his voice cracking.
Sherlock’s hand moved infinitesimally, and he pressed the tips of his fingers John’s chest, the heat of them just barely seeping through the cotton of his vest.
“I want whatever you’ll give me,” Sherlock said. His voice was so vulnerable, honest, the shock of it like a bullet to the abdomen.
John inhaled sharply. Sherlock was so close, his eyes shining in the half light. John wanted to taste him, to feel him, hold him until they both fell asleep, until they grew old.
He reached out and cupped Sherlock’s cheek. “That’s not good enough,” he whispered.
Sherlock’s lower lip trembled slightly. John only caught the motion because they were so close.
“I couldn’t bear it if you left again,” Sherlock repeated, his words meted out slowly, with emphasis.
Realization dawned. Sherlock wouldn’t ask for more than what they had, because he was afraid. He was afraid John would leave again, that this room would be empty again. Emptiness was the thing they both feared the most; an empty needle, an empty bottle waited for them, always. Empty bedsit. Empty hearse, empty grave.
“I’m not going anywhere,” John said, and he knew, more than he’d ever known anything, that it was true.
John’s eyes had adjusted to the dark enough that he could see Sherlock’s wide eyes, his hair tumbling over his forehead.
On some level, he wished he’d prepared more for this moment. If he’d woken up that morning, knowing that this would be the day he would finally tell Sherlock how he felt, that he would finally rip his chest open and let him see his heart, maybe he would have had a glass of brandy or two to steel himself.
There should be fireworks or a national parade for this sort of revelation instead of this: two people having a conversation in the dying light of an April evening, prompted by almost nothing, but almost a decade too late.
“Your heart is pounding,” Sherlock whispered, his fingers pressing harder into John’s chest.
“Tell me why,” John said softly. “Deduce me.”
Sherlock swallowed, his throat working. “Pulse, elevated. Pupils, dilated.”
John tilted his chin upward a bit. "Which means?"
Sherlock’s pink tongue dipped out to wet his bottom lip again, and John’s eyes followed the movement.
“Arousal,” Sherlock breathed.
John started to lean in, but Sherlock’s fingers pressed into John’s chest just a bit harder, and John stopped.
“What is it?” he asked.
“I...I need...you to...say it first,” Sherlock whispered.
John inhaled, breathing in the proximity of him, trying to burn the moment into his memory forever; the way Sherlock’s eyes glinted in the low light, the way he smelled just a bit of baby formula and formaldehyde, the creak of the old house around them, the wail of the siren fading to stillness.
He wasn’t afraid anymore, not even a little bit. It was time to jump off the edge, to finally just go all in. “I want you, Sherlock. I…”—is it too soon to say love?—“I want you. I’ve wanted you since day one. Didn’t you know?”
Sherlock’s eyes fluttered closed, and for one paralyzing, heart-wrenching moment, John thought he was about to be rejected.
“John.” The tone of this ‘John,’ in comparison with the others, was soft, tender, his mouth curling around the word like a caress.
John bit his bottom lip, releasing it again. “Do you…” The question, unfinished, hung between them. It had been suspended in the air for the entire time they’d known each other, hovering like a glittering mirage on the horizon.
Sherlock’s eyes opened again, and their gazes met, the force of it hitting John in the solar plexus.
“Yes,” he said slowly, drawing out every single syllable.
“Really?” John breathed.
Sherlock blinked at him, and then he nodded. The simplest gesture, with a world of meaning behind it.
John moved a bit closer, sliding his arm around Sherlock’s waist, so that they were breathing each other’s air.
“I’m going to kiss you now,” he said, and Sherlock did nothing other than nod again, more vigorously this time.
John leaned in, pausing, letting Sherlock move back if he wanted, but...Sherlock’s fingers dug harder into John’s chest, as if to urge him on. John’s heart in his throat, he leaned in just a bit more.
Their lips just barely brushed against each other, and that single point of contact was like a lightning bolt down his spine. John’s toes actually curled inwards with the force of it.
John stopped abruptly, leaning back. Sherlock’s eyes were wide, his breaths coming sharp and quick.
“Are you sure?” John asked. Because there was no going back from this. There was no way he could ever go back to not kissing Sherlock once he started.
Sherlock licked his lips, but then, slowly, he nodded again. Unable to hold himself back for one more second John leaned in again, pressing his lips to Sherlock’s.
At first, that’s all it was; a press of lips, John’s heart pounding, and then Sherlock cupped John’s cheek in his hand, tilting his head and parting his mouth to let John in.
Sherlock’s lips, which he’d imagined tasting a thousand times, were as plush as they looked, parting underneath John’s tongue easily. John sipped at his bottom lip, losing himself more second by second.
Sherlock whined, his fingers digging harder into John’s chest, and John felt like there was no oxygen left in his brain because he was kissing Sherlock. Finally.
He might have whimpered—or maybe it was Sherlock, he wasn’t entirely sure, but his fingers sunk into Sherlock’s hair, tugging his head to the side so that he could kiss him harder.
He pressed their hips together, feeling Sherlock against him, but he was very aware that Rosie was in the crib next to them and though he didn’t want to stop, he couldn’t do—that—with his infant daughter in the room.
They broke apart, but not far, resting their foreheads against each other and just panting, inhaling each other’s air.
“Okay,” he said, unable to form a more coherent thought.
Sherlock’s mouth twitched. “That’s it? Okay? I was hoping you’d at least favor me with an ‘adequate.’”
“Fuck you,” John said, his lips twitching into a smile. He was so happy that his entire body was singing with it, and he simply didn’t know what to do with himself.
Sherlock sunk his teeth into his bottom lip, his gaze dipping to John’s mouth. “Maybe we can try that next. But not here.”
John felt all the blood rush out of his head. “You. You want?”
“I should think that was obvious.” Sherlock rolled his hips enough that John could feel his arousal, and John groaned, his eyes fluttering closed.
Sherlock took the opportunity to catch John’s earlobe between his teeth, worrying it a little, which went straight to John’s cock.
“Fuck,” John breathed, arching into Sherlock. He hadn’t thought past the first part of this—well, of course he’d fantasized about this a thousand times, but he’d never known for sure if Sherlock would want that, want him, but now...
“Yes, please,” Sherlock breathed into his ear.
“Wait, wait stop,” John said, pushing him back gently
Sherlock’s eyes were so vulnerable, a touch of fear. “Second thoughts?” he asked, in a tone that was certainly meant to be airy but didn’t quite reach it.
“No, no. I just...I want to make sure. That this is what you want. Because…” he swallowed, trying to find the words, but it was like trying to catch a falling star. “I can’t go back from this. If we...I will want to be like this. I want. I want to be with you. Do you understand? Not just now.”
Sherlock’s expression was inscrutable. “I thought I was being clear, John,” he said, his voice a low rumble. “You do know I hate repeating myself.”
John felt himself crumple a little, but only for a second, because Sherlock cupped his face with both hands and leaned in to sip from John’s mouth with infinite tenderness, the gesture so intimate that John’s heart fissured into a thousand pieces.
“I love you, John Watson,” Sherlock whispered against his lips. “I will love you until the day I close my eyes forever. I want to be with you, in mind, in body, in whatever way you want to be with me. I’m tired of pretending otherwise.”
Sherlock leaned back a little, meeting his eyes. “Was that clear enough for you?”
John’s mouth was dry, and he couldn’t seem to find any words. He blinked, then blinked again, trying to process this information, but it didn’t seem to be sticking in his brain.
“Well, that’s getting a bit scary now,” Sherlock said, his mouth twitching.
“What?” John blurted out, then clicked his mouth shut.
“John.” This ‘John’ was a more derisive one.
John paused, licking his lips. “I just...you don’t say things like that.”
“Apparently I do, because I just did.”
John stared at him for a long moment, and Sherlock stared back, and John couldn’t quite fathom that Sherlock had actually said those words to him, but then…then it hit him. This was it. This was what he’d been waiting for, and it had been so long that he didn’t know how to handle the waiting coming to an end.
“I love you too,” he whispered hoarsely. “God, Sherlock I—”
“Shhh,” Sherlock hushed him, for the second time that day, but this time was so different that it was as if lifetimes had separated them, because this time, he leaned in to kiss John as he did it.
John sighed into it, sealing their words with the promise of more. He slid his hand around Sherlock’s back under his robe, teasing at the waistband of his pyjamas with his finger tips.
Sherlock kissed down John’s throat, sucking on his pulse point, and John whined.
“John,” he whispered into John’s skin, reaching down to palm John’s cock through his trousers.
“God, yes, Sherlock, we should—we should go.” But he didn’t make any movements to get off the bed.
Sherlock chuckled, but didn’t stop.
“We can’t—Rosie,” John protested feebly.
Sherlock leaned back, his eyes dark, hair disheveled, and John was overwhelmed with arousal, deeper than he’d felt in about twenty years.
“Take me to bed, John,” Sherlock murmured.
With a surge of energy, John sat up, swinging his legs off the bed. He pulled Sherlock up to standing, taking him by the hand and tugging him down the stairs with purpose, almost tripping over his own feet in his haste.
He slammed the door to Sherlock’s room open, wincing at the noise. They both paused, listening, but there was no noise from upstairs.
John left the door open a crack—he didn’t much care to find the baby monitor right now—and pulled Sherlock toward the bed, kissing him as he went, feverish with want.
The back of his legs hit the bed, and he was forced to sit down, jolting them apart.
They stared at each other for a moment, and Sherlock’s mouth twitched upward as he moved forward, stepping between John’s legs. He reached out to trace John’s bottom lip with just the tip of his finger, his eyes glowing in the slight city light from the window.
“You’ve become more attractive with age,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s entirely fair.”
John felt his breath catch; he’d never heard Sherlock say something like that, never imagined it would be directed toward him.
“You’ve always been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” he said, a small thrill running through him at being able to say it out loud.
Sherlock met his gaze, tilting his head to the side. It wasn’t in a self-deprecating way, nor was it a dismissal; it was more...considering.
“Even more than…” Sherlock began, but he stopped himself, clicking his mouth shut.
John pressed his lips together. In for a penny, he thought.
“Yes,” he said. “Even more than her.”
He slid his arms around Sherlock’s waist, and Sherlock tilted his head down until their lips met again.
John kissed him slowly, with purpose, skimming his hands up Sherlock’s back under his shirt, making him shiver. It was like he’d forgotten how to do this entirely; he couldn’t quite remember how to breathe through his nose, and he couldn’t stop kissing Sherlock long enough to inhale properly. He wanted more friction, more of Sherlock’s body pressed against him.
Sherlock seemed to share the sentiment. He swung a leg over so that he could sit on John’s lap, wrapping his long limbs around him. And oh, that was heaven.
John sucked on Sherlock’s lower lip, palming his cock through his thin pajama pants, and Sherlock let out a little keening sound. John chuckled, sinking both hands into Sherlock’s hair, kissing him with abandon, and Sherlock kissed back, hard, rocking hard down onto John’s cock.
John stopped abruptly, panting against Sherlock’s mouth, looking up at his luminous eyes, and it hit him: this was really happening. After so long, after so many years of longing, of grief, separation...loss. He finally had Sherlock in his arms, the taste of him on his lips, and he never wanted to let go.
He swallowed, his throat working a little.
“Stop thinking so hard, it’s killing the mood,” Sherlock quipped.
John licked his lips. “I always figured I’d be the one saying that to you, if...this...ever happened.”
“So you thought about this.” It was a statement, not a question.
John rolled his eyes. “Of course I did. I just didn’t think you wanted…”
Married to my work, Sherlock had said all those years ago.
In lieu of a response, Sherlock took off his shirt and threw it aside, then leaned down to kiss under John’s jaw, delicate, feather-light brushes of his lips. John sighed, tilting his head back, outlining Sherlock’s shoulder blades with the tips of his fingers, feeling the soft skin there, committing it to memory.
Sherlock pushed him down onto the bed, and John moved back a little so that he could fully recline.
Sherlock framed John’s head with his arms, shifting a little so that their cocks could slide against each other through their clothes. John arched up against him, his hands sliding down to cup Sherlock’s glorious ass, pulling him down hard.
“Ah,” Sherlock breathed, rocking against him.
John squeezed the cheeks of Sherlock’s ass hard, and Sherlock’s eyes fluttered shut as he leaned in to kiss John again, slipping his tongue into his mouth.
“What do you want, John?” he panted, continuing to rock against John.
John was having trouble stringing together coherent thoughts. “I want, fuck, I want.”
He wanted everything. He wanted to flip Sherlock over and slide into him, fuck into him long and slow and deep; he wanted to swallow Sherlock’s cock until he couldn’t breathe, and let him come down his throat; he wanted to ride Sherlock until they were both breathless and dizzy and he came with a shout, clenching around Sherlock’s cock.
But there was time for all that. There would be time, in the future.
“You, I want. I want you,” he said breathlessly.
Sherlock’s lips twitched. “You have me.”
“I know, I…” he trailed off, immobilized by choice.
“Well. There’s one thing I want right now,” Sherlock said, hint of amusement in his tone.
Sherlock nudged John’s shirt up his chest, and John sat up a bit to help him take it off. Sherlock started kissing down his torso, a bit at a time, teasing each of his nipples with his tongue. He nipped at the vee of John’s hip, leading downward until John’s whole body was on fire.
He stopped, hovering over John’s cock, which was straining against the fabric of his pants and trousers, and bit his lower lip.
John panted, looking at him, and Sherlock grinned as he unzipped the trousers. His curly head dipped down as he nuzzled at the outline of John’s cock, and then kissed it open-mouthed, his breath hot even through the cotton pants.
John moaned, hands fisting into the bedclothes, his body starting to shake. Sherlock pulled down the waistband with one finger so that he could lick the head of John’s cock, teasing at the frenulum. John gasped, the entire world narrowing down to Sherlock’s hot, exquisite mouth wrapped around him.
“Okay?” Sherlock stopped, looking up at him through his eyelashes, eyes hooded, plush lips hovering just over his cock.
“God, yes,” John said. “Please don’t stop.”
Sherlock smirked again, pushing John’s pants down to free his cock fully.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this,” he said, and sunk his mouth all the way down.
“Oh christ,” John swore, fighting against the natural urge to let his eyes slide closed, because he wanted to watch his cock disappearing into that gorgeous mouth.
He let his hips shift into it, fucking upward gently as Sherlock came down. It had been so long since he’d had another man doing this, he forgot how good it could be. It obviously wasn’t Sherlock’s first time, and John was already embarrassingly close to coming.
“Sh—Sher—” he tried to say, but Sherlock was doing some extremely clever things with his tongue and it was hard to get a coherent thought together.
Sherlock sunk all the way down again, swallowing around him.
“Ahhhh, fuck,” John groaned, arching into it.
Sherlock chuckled, the vibrations around his cock sending lightning bolts down John’s spine.
“I, god, Sherlock...”
Sherlock kept at it, picking up the pace, stroking the base of his cock with one hand at the same time.
“S—Stop,” John managed to choke out.
Sherlock pulled off immediately, licking the spit from his lips. “Problem?” he asked, a tightness appearing around his eyes.
“No, no, I just, don’t want to come that way, not the first time.” Sherlock relaxed visibly, and John pulled him up to kiss him, tasting his own precome on Sherlock’s lips, dizzy with want.
“How do you want to come, then?” Sherlock whispered against his lips.
“It’s going to require us to get out of the rest of these clothes,” John said, pushing Sherlock’s pyjamas down.
And then he got his hand on Sherlock’s cock, finally, feeling the silky skin and teasing the head with his thumb. Sherlock moaned, his eyes fluttering closed, and John chased the sound with a kiss, continuing to stroke him firmly, slowly.
“John,” he groaned into John’s mouth, and John was so hard it was actually painful.
“Yeah, that’s it, god, you’re so beautiful,” John whispered, kissing down his throat.
Sherlock keened, hips making little aborted movements into John’s hand.
“I thought you wanted...to take off your trousers,” Sherlock breathed.
John grunted, letting go of Sherlock’s length long enough to push his pants and trousers off the rest of the way, as Sherlock kicked off his pyjamas...and then they were fully naked together in bed for the first time.
He’d seen Sherlock’s body before, of course, but it was nothing like this. This time, he was allowed to look as long as he wanted, to let the lust show through in his expression, unguarded.
John traced along Sherlock’s jaw, trailing his fingers down his throat to Sherlock’s torso, and started to stroke him harder.
Sherlock sighed, his adam’s apple bobbing up and down as he swallowed.
“You’re so fucking gorgeous,” John breathed.
“Meretricious,” Sherlock said, but his lips quirked upward into a lopsided grin.
“And a happy new year,” John joked, and then he rolled over to settle between Sherlock’s legs, their cocks sliding against each other.
Sherlock arched up into him. “Oh,” he gasped.
“Yesss,” John licked his hand, reaching down to hold their cocks together. Sherlock threw his head back, holding on to John’s hips, rocking into every thrust.
“There’s...lube...in the drawer,” he said after a minute.
John growled, not wanting to stop, but knowing this would be better for them both if he did. He let go long enough to lean over and open the drawer with such haste that he nearly knocked the lamp off the side table.
John fished around blindly until he found the plastic bottle, pulling it out. It was three quarters empty. He raised an eyebrow at Sherlock, who shrugged. John huffed a laugh, seven years’ worth of assumptions flying out the window.
He squeezed the lube into his hand, and leaned down to stroke their cocks at the same time, coating them both. Then he held them together as he started thrusting. Sherlock moaned loudly, wrapping his legs around John’s hips, his thin body holding surprising power.
“John, John, yes,” he breathed.
John leaned down to kiss him again, continuing to thrust, joy and fevered lust coursing through him, seven years of longing gushing into every vein and neuron.
Sherlock sunk his fingernails into John’s back, arching upward into every thrust, kissing back with a tinge of desperation. Through his haze of bliss, John realized Sherlock was kissing him like this was a last kiss, rather than one of the first, and it tugged at something deep inside him.
John stopped his thrusts, leaning back slightly. “Look at me,” he said.
Sherlock obeyed, opening his eyes, his mouth half open with gasping breaths.
“Stop kissing me like you’re saying goodbye,” John whispered. “This is the beginning, not the end.”
Sherlock’s eyes were just inches from his, his whole body trembling.
“John,” he breathed, his gaze focused on John with laser-sharp awareness.
“I’m right here,” John said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
He kissed Sherlock again, tenderly, pouring every ounce of love he’d felt since that first day into it, and slowly, started rocking again, building them up to the crest this time.
Sherlock arched higher into him, thrusting against John’s cock, against his hand. John held him, and imagined what it would be like to thrust into his body, to be completely enveloped in Sherlock.
Sherlock threw his head back, rocking harder into Johns thrusts, holding onto the headboard with one hand for more stability and John could tell he was close. He leaned down to suck at Sherlock’s throat, and Sherlock cried out, his cock hardened even further as he came over his stomach. John swallowed his cries with a hard kiss, thrusting harder, holding him through it.
Once Sherlock collapsed back onto the bed, panting, eyes half closed, John thrust into his fist a few more times, and then he was coming too, biting down on the crook of Sherlock’s neck, his vision whiting out with the force of it.
He shook, and shook, and eventually he rolled to the side, letting Sherlock breathe. He grabbed his vest and cleaned them both off as best he could, then lay down, flopping an arm over his eyes.
“Wow,” he said, once he’d caught his breath a bit.
“Yes, that was…” Sherlock trailed off. “That was something.”
John peeked out from under his arm. Sherlock’s eyes were closed, his limbs sprawled over the bed clothes gracefully. John let his gaze linger, because he could now, because he was allowed.
“What do you mean?” he asked softly.
“I’ve imagined doing this a thousand times,” Sherlock mumbled. “But reality was beyond my imagination.”
“A thousand?” John asked, aiming for glib.
Sherlock huffed out a laugh. “Maybe more.”
John chewed at his bottom lip. “I fantasized about you about a thousand times, too.”
Sherlock turned to look at him, his pale face in shadow, eyes dark. “What took us so long?” he asked, his voice soft.
John took a deep breath in and out. I was afraid of losing you again. And apparently, so were you.
“We were being idiots,” he said simply.
Sherlock rolled over and pressed himself into John, tucking his head into John’s neck. John trailed his fingertips down Sherlock's back, letting his eyes drift closed.
“We should get up and shower,” John said drowsily.
“In a minute,” Sherlock said.
John woke before dawn the next morning with their limbs entangled, Sherlock’s head resting on his chest.
Sherlock must have gotten up to check on Rosie in the night, because the baby monitor was on the bedside table, but there were no sounds coming from it.
John let himself settle back into the bedclothes for a good while, basking in the feeling of Sherlock’s naked body pressed up against him, listening to the sounds of London awakening around him as an abnormally sunny morning dawned.
Eventually, he heard Rosie fussing on the monitor. He disentangled himself from Sherlock without waking him—a feat, truly—relieved himself, and pulled on his old striped bathrobe before walking quietly up the stairs.
Rosie was standing up in her crib, rubbing her eyes blearily, babbling nonsensically. John clicked the baby monitor off and went to the crib to pick her up.
“Good morning my darling,” John cooed, kissing the top of her head. “Are you hungry? Papa is starving.”
“Beh,” she said, reaching for her stuffed bee.
“Bee.” He took it out of the crib and handed it to her.
“Beh,” Rosie agreed, and stuck the bee’s wing in her mouth.
John rolled his eyes, bringing her downstairs with him.
He set her up in her high chair and was halfway through fixing her oatmeal when Sherlock draped himself over John’s back. John grinned, letting his eyes fall closed, leaning his head back to rest on Sherlock’s shoulder.
“Good morning,” he said.
“Come back to bed.” Sherlock’s voice was a low rumble. He started nuzzling the back of John’s neck, sending tingling sensations down John’s extremities.
“I have to get our daughter some food first, then you can have your way with me again,” John said, effervescent with happiness.
Sherlock froze. “Our...daughter.”
John turned around. “Don’t you think of her as yours at this point?”
“I…” Sherlock pressed his lips together, looking off-kilter, the way he did when he wasn’t sure what he should do in a particular situation.
John slid his hands around Sherlock’s waist.
“For all I care, we can go down to get the adoption papers today and make it official, but I think she already thinks of you as her other father,” he said.
Sherlock met his gaze, and the intensity of feeling he saw there—the love, he knew now—almost knocked John backwards.
“I...I’d be honored,” Sherlock said, formally, but John heard the slight tremble in his voice.
John cupped his cheek, leaning in to kiss him once, just a brush of lips.
“I love you,” he said, because now he could.
Sherlock’s brow furrowed, his eyes glistening, and he stepped forward, backing John into the sink for a deeper, more passionate kiss.
Sherlock kissed him for a long time, then leaned his forehead against John’s. “I don’t know if I’m cut out for this,” he said.
John startled, pulling back, the bliss that had been flowing through him coming to a screeching halt.
“W—What?” he stuttered.
“Not like that,” Sherlock said, sipping from John’s lips again. “I just mean. I feel so much it’s like I can’t contain it. I…” he swallowed. “I’m not...used to this.”
Relief flooded through him, and John softened. “I know. Me either.” They’d both spent so long pretending, so long ignoring how they felt, that it was a tidal wave of emotion when they had finally set it free.
“It might take some getting used to, for both of us, but…” John trailed off, licking his lips. “That’s something I’m willing to do, with you."
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Sherlock murmured. The naked honesty in his expression, the passion, was almost too much; it was like staring into the sun.
“Ba ba ba,” Rosie said, trying to get their attention, banging her spoon against her tray. “Ba!”
John laughed, looking at her over Sherlock’s shoulder. “I’m getting your food, sweetheart. Your dads were just having a moment."
She stuck the spoon in her mouth, looking at them with wide blue eyes.
“I’ll feed her,” Sherlock said, picking up her small bowl of oatmeal and walking over to take her out of the high chair.
“Who’s hungry?” he asked brightly.
“Ba!” Rosie said.
Sherlock walked into the living room, settled in his chair and fed her, telling her the story of a big, mean dog they’d once been trying to find, which had turned out to be just a regular dog. He even told her about the glowing rabbits.
John put the kettle on, then walked into the living room and leaned against the doorframe, watching them.
Sherlock glanced upward and they exchanged a silent look for a long moment. Then Sherlock’s lips curled upward into a secret smile, one John knew was only for him.
John rubbed his chin, ducking his head to hide his own resulting smile.
He walked over and sat on the arm of the chair, and reached out to sink his fingers into the curls at the back Sherlock’s head, massaging his scalp.
Sherlock let his eyes close for a moment and tilted back into the caress, as if he were luxuriating in the feeling.
They sat like that for a while. Nothing had changed, but everything had.
“What now?” John asked, eventually.
Sherlock blinked his eyes open, looking down at Rosie, who was still eating her oatmeal with gusto, before he met John’s gaze. “Now, we live.”