Sherlock is… soft. After Mary, after the-baby-that-wasn't, after the gunshot wound that nearly killed John, Sherlock is unceasingly gentle. Delicate, even, whenever he speaks to John. He is always careful not to inconvenience, endanger, or irritate him, and John hates it. He loves Sherlock, but he hates this cotton-wool, eggshell feeling. Soft and gentle has its place; he imagines showing Sherlock exactly how soft and gentle he could be, if only they were the type of people who took each other's clothes off with reverent fingers and deep kisses. Soft and gentle is a favourite imagining, even more so than desperately over the kitchen table or quickly in an alleyway after a crime scene. But they aren't those people, and John hates it. Sherlock sees his discomfort, of course, and tries to be more accommodating, which has John more frustrated than ever.
Molly provides the match to spark the argument John has been itching for. She mentions she’ll be interviewing for a position in Leeds, rambles about being both excited and nervous at the prospect of living in a new city. Sherlock makes appropriate sorts of noises whenever she pauses for breath as he examines the body. Then:
“Do you look at jobs in other cities sometimes, John? You know, a fresh start.”
He doesn’t need to think about this one. “No. I like it here.”
She presses him a little further.
“Even after all the - everything? You don’t want to get away from the, you know, history, the heartache?”
John can feel Sherlock’s eyes on him now, but he does not waver.
“Baker Street is the best home I’ve ever had, and there’s plenty of people I care about here. Best of luck with the interview, Molls, but we’ll both miss you if you get it.”
Sherlock asks him about it later, even revealing he has something of a collection of jobs he think would suit John, if he desired.
“No. I don’t want to leave what I have here.”
“Well, of course you make an admirable assistant, but if you would like to get back into some real medical practice, I have connections at St James’, or Hope Hospital.”
John puts his hand down on the table - not slamming it, exactly, but he does flex it, and reminds himself to breathe.
“Do you want me to leave?” His voice is smaller than he’d intended. Sherlock begins to ramble, but John cuts him off.
“No. Do you? Want me to leave?” He stares him down, ready to go upstairs and begin packing if Sherlock prevaricates again.
“I don’t want to leave either, so-” He is raising his voice, and is unwilling to stop himself- “for the love of God, will you please stop treating me like a piece of goddamned porcelain? I’m not going anywhere without you; I’m here for good.”
“Oh.” Sherlock puts a finger to his mouth, appears to actually be internalising what John has said. “That’s… good.”
“Good. Now don’t mention it again or I’ll dump your entire wardrobe in at the laundromat.”
Sherlock looks shaken.
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“I would. I’ll have this flat renovated in a modernist style.”
“You’d hate that more than I would.”
“I’ll only buy semi-skimmed milk for the rest of your life.”
“I’d die within a week.”
They are grinning at each other, and John cannot let on what that does to his chest. He collects his jacket.
“You wouldn’t, but I’ll buy full-cream for you anyway. D’you need anything else from Tesco?”
“ Tesco .”
“Hmm. Biscuits - ginger nuts.”
“Yep. Back soon.”
He isn’t a teenager anymore - God, far from it - but enough is enough. Anyone should be allowed to have a nice wank in their bed of a Sunday morning. He’d been sharing hotel rooms with Sherlock - if he was allowed to sleep at all - for the last week, chasing a bloody bicycle across the midlands. They’d gotten home last night buoyed up by the successful capture of the con artist in question and John had toppled up the stairs lest he grabbed Sherlock’s lapels and kissed him straight through to April.
When he wakes up, then, with no plans for the day, he stretches in bed and shoves his hand in his pants. He’s not thinking of much at all, really, just enjoying the grip and slide of his hand. Carefully messy hair pops into thought a few times, as does a rumbling chuckle and large, delicate hands, but that’s neither new nor surprising. The creaking of the last step before the landing gives him barely enough warning to extract his hand and lift a knee to hide his erection as the door opens.
“- and so obviously he couldn’t’ve been working alone, it was stupid of me not to-” Sherlock stops himself. Reddening, his gaze flickers over John, who keeps his face neutral. He will not be ashamed of a nice private wank. “-not to see it. Um. Get up - no - come here - um,” at this Sherlock turns away for a second, his face glowing. “We need to find the accomplice.”
“Alright then,” John says easily. “I’ll meet you downstairs in five, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Sherlock breathes.
Nothing is said about it for the duration of the coda to their case. John didn’t really expect otherwise - he doesn’t need an apology. Once they return home a second time, Sherlock turns to John and forces out some thanks, followed by a bumbling assurance to let him sleep in as long as he wishes in the morning.
“I don't mind,” John blurts. Sherlock looks at him. “If you were to come up to my room for - anything.”
John spends a long time the next morning touching himself, holding off as long as he can. He even works two fingertips into his arse - not deep, just another tease for his senses - but ends up coming alone, gasping and shuddering.
It takes a while, but after a few more well-placed insinuations, and a new habit of leaving his door ajar, John has Sherlock appearing in his doorway while he lays in bed, teasing his foreskin down and back. He doesn’t cross the threshold, and John takes one more stroke before stopping his motion, hidden as it is under the duvet.
John breaks the silence.
“You know, I am kind of in the middle of something...”
Sherlock appears unable to say anything but manages to nod, and John continues.
“So. Are you going to… go, or join me, or…?” and that seems to completely stupefy him. So John waits a little, and when he gets no answer, he says “Well, if it’s all the same to you, I might. You know. Continue.”
Sherlock makes a sound, and John can only assume he’s overstepped, that past innuendo had been missed, and shakes his head.
“Ah, well, I probably shouldn’t, so-”
“No, you can - yes.”
He does. It’s not a - it’s not a show, really; John leaves the duvet up, and he tries to look at Sherlock - without staring relentlessly at him - and when he comes, quietly but obviously, he stares at the ceiling a bit before looking back at his flatmate. Sherlock has his hand across his face, biting his thumb.
“Yeah?” John asks. Sherlock nods, smiles tremulously, and flees.
He’s not in the flat when John gets downstairs, which is a concern. A quick text - please tell me i haven’t fucked everything up - and the immediate reply - Not at all. I’ll be out late. - SH mostly calms him
He spends the day catching up on housework, making food and editing his next blog posts. Fretting also takes a significant portion of time. Before he goes up to bed, he sends a goodnight x text, deleting and re-typing the ‘x’ four times before sending it.
John wakes to his mattress shifting. Sherlock is sitting on the edge of the bed, very still.
“Would you mind if I joined you?” While he has given no indication that he is awake, he’s not surprised that Sherlock knows he is.
“Yeah, not at all. Come on.” He sits a moment longer before shifting to pull back the duvet, and John reaches to touch his upper arm once they are lying together.
Sherlock is trembling, but he shakes his head.
“John, please. Please.”
His hand slips up to Sherlock’s cheek.
“Of course. Come here.”
It’s like a breaking dam, John finds. The long-awaited leak leads to the collapse of the whole structure, and he feels drunk on the truths he presses into Sherlock’s skin. He’s soft, and gentle, but Sherlock is a violin string under his hands, taut and singing with each stroke. John would happily drown himself in this moment.
He says as much to Sherlock, who chuckles between gasps.
“Don’t you dare leave me again, John Watson,” he says, and he’s not being serious, John thinks, but he still feels the blow in his chest.
“Never. This is us for good,” he promises, and returns to his task.
In the morning light, Sherlock is soft and delicate as they work around each other to make tea and toast. He sets the spreads on the table and catches John’s eye, blushing even as he smiles. John loves all of it.