Sherlock wakes up slowly, awareness returning bit by bit, the way it only ever does when he sleeps for more than a few hours and completely catches up on however many nights of sleep he missed.
Which is damn odd, because he wasn’t that tired – was he? Feeling poorly, yes, with that bloody awful headache that has been plaguing him on and off for days and is now blissfully gone, but not tired as such.
He rolls over onto his back, and is briefly taken by how large the bed feels – which is a stupid thought because this has been his bed for years and it never seemed too large or too empty before. That odd sense that something is missing doesn’t last, however, not when a certain part of his body is suddenly sending some signals he’s less than accustomed to. It’s been years since he partook in activities that would leave that particular part of his anatomy in some diffuse discomfort, and he’s certainly lacking the one thing necessary for such activities: a partner.
Unless he went through with that crazy plan of his and received a much more enthusiastic reception to his admission than he anticipated.
But if that’s the case, why doesn’t he remember?
And, more importantly, where is John?
As he pushes the sheet off him, he finds other clues that an interesting time was had in this bed, though still no hint of who the other person was – not that he can imagine it being anyone other than John.
A scenario forms in his mind. He told John. John took things so well that they ended up here, in this bed. Afterward, John came to his senses and realized he’s married. He left. His parting words left Sherlock in such a state that he completely deleted the events.
His stomach twists unpleasantly at the thought. If that’s what happened, if John can never look at him in the eye again – worse, if he never even wants to see Sherlock…
Bile is rising to the back of his throat. Swallowing hard, Sherlock stands, stumbling a little on his way to the bathroom. He rinses his mouth then lets water pool into his hands, intending to splash his face, but he gets distracted when he notices the words inscribed on his arm.
That explains… Well, not everything, but it’s a start. Now if he can only figure out…
As he looks up, his eyes fall onto the mirror, and he catches sight of black lines on his chest. He peers in more closely, reads the words, reads them again. When his eyes look up again, it’s to see his own smile.
He has questions. Dozens, hundreds of questions. He’ll get his answers, one way or the other. For now, at least, the most logical, most probable scenario he could come up with is being proven wrong. That’s a start. And even—
“Sherlock?” Two light knocks on the door. “I’m making tea, do you want some?”
He looks at the closed door, imagines John behind it, and suddenly knowing he’s there isn’t enough. He has to see him, has to touch him, talk to him, make sure this isn’t all in his head.
He opens the door, and there is John, a little bit startled, a little bit amused.
“Is it no pants day today?” he says with a smile. “I didn’t get the memo.”
And Sherlock, suddenly, can’t remember any of his questions, or anything else he wanted to say. There is just one thing, one thing he wants to say aloud, one thing he needs to hear John reply to.
“I love you,” he blurts out, and while the words should, by all rights, feel unfamiliar and new on his tongue, they roll out easily, as though he’s said them a hundred, a thousand times.
And maybe he has, because John’s amused smile melts into something softer, something Sherlock never imagined gracing his lips, but there it is, and oh, Sherlock wishes he could remember just this one thing – the curve of John’s lips as he smiles at him.
Or maybe the sound of his voice when he says the words back.
Or maybe the taste of his mouth when it covers Sherlock’s, the feel of his hands on Sherlock’s skin.
It’s a long, long time before they have that cup of tea.