It was the familiar baritone which stirred John from his doze, rather than the cursing. Although, as he became more alert, he recognised that to hear cursing in that particular voice was unusual in itself.
The fresh outburst brought John up from his chair and he headed for the living room door, looking down the stairs to see Sherlock sitting at the half way point, attempting to roll up one of his trouser legs.
"Are you all right?" John asked uncertainly. Sherlock's head swivelled around and he almost toppled over sideways. John rushed down the stairs to steady him. "My God, are you hurt? What happened?" He knelt on the step and started running his palms over Sherlock's ribs, checking for injury.
Sherlock huffed out a breath and the question was abruptly answered; John stiffened in shock. "You're drunk!"
"Shhh…" Sherlock stretched out a hand and laid a finger rather imprecisely over John's mouth. "Don't tell John," he instructed urgently.
John's emotions cycled through disbelief, concern, and the inclination to laugh like a hyena. The roulette wheel was still spinning on a definite decision when he forced himself into doctor mode.
"Right, we need to get you up the rest of the stairs before you fall down these ones," he said firmly. "Come on." He pulled Sherlock's arm around his shoulders and got to his feet, using the considerable strength in his legs to force Sherlock up, then practically manhandled him to the top. Briefly debating the merits of the sofa, he decided to press on instead and get Sherlock straight to his room, where he attempted to drop him down onto the bed.
The plan worked fine, except for the part where Sherlock's long fingers had threaded themselves into the loose knit of John's jumper, forcing him to follow or risk dislocating them.
"What have you..." John was left kneeling awkwardly on the edge of the bed and craned his neck to peer at his own shoulder. "I need to put the light on," he said, but Sherlock made no attempt to extricate himself.
"Fine." John shrugged his other arm out of the sleeve and pulled the jumper off over his head, leaving it in Sherlock's hands as he got up to switch on the lamp.
He turned back to the surreal sight of Sherlock Holmes sitting on the edge of his bed, peering woefully at the empty knitwear in his hands.
"What happened?" John asked. "You were going out to check out a suspect… how did you get like this?" He waved his arm to indicate the advanced level of inebriation before him.
"There was..." Sherlock abandoned the jumper, "... a bar," he finished, squinting up at John. "The subjuspect…" He stopped, frowning, as if aware that there was something wrong with that word but unable to put his finger on the problem. "Bar," he said again.
"OK, so I'm getting that there was a bar," John agreed, kneeling down and unlacing Sherlock's shoes.
Sherlock watched these proceedings with interest. "Shoes," he announced.
John pulled them off, then removed his socks too, Sherlock's toes immediately flexing into the pile of the carpet.
"Bedtime?" he asked.
"It is for you," John agreed, getting to his feet again. "So what happened at the bar? Did the suspect buy you a drink?"
"Lotsh of drinks," Sherlock nodded emphatically, nearly falling forwards with the motion. John steadied him, but didn't push him back – it would probably be easier to get his clothes off while he was sitting up.
"He tried to… tried to…" Sherlock seemed to lose the thread of his sentence, as John's hands tightened on his arms.
"He tried to what?" All trace of humour had gone from his voice.
Sherlock's eyes opened indignantly wide. "He tried to kith me!" he complained.
John stared at him, only partially distracted by the lisp. "Is that all he tried to do?" he asked, debating whether a broken nose would suffice for this stranger, whom he would be tracking down as soon as Sherlock could safely be left on his own, or whether more serious measures would be called for.
"That'sh enough," declared Sherlock firmly, as John started to ease his jacket away from his shoulders. "I told him…" he tried to raise his arms, presumably to make one of his usual expansive gestures, but found that they were pinned to his sides by the jacket. This seemed to confuse him and he struggled a bit until John finally got the jacket off, at which point Sherlock threw both arms around him. "Told him... no good," he confided, turning his face into John's neck and inhaling deeply. "No good."
"No, you don't like that sort of thing. I know, I understand," John agreed, disentangling himself and starting on the shirt buttons.
"No good if not John," Sherlock mumbled, his head lolling forwards again.
John's fingers paused in their work, certain he must have misheard, or at least misunderstood. He looked down at his hands and waited until they were steady again. Then he finished his task and tugged the shirt free, throwing it in the direction of the laundry hamper.
"Don't tell John," Sherlock insisted again. "Can't tell John. Spoil everything." His eyelids were drooping.
"Don't worry," John reassured him, reaching for the T-shirt he slept in then pulling it over his head, guiding his arms into it one at a time. "Come on, lie back. You need to get some sleep." He pushed and Sherlock lay down obediently as John picked up his legs and swung them onto the bed, wondering what on earth was going on in that sozzled head.
He sat down on the edge of the mattress and leaned forward to rest the back of one hand against Sherlock's forehead, picking up his wrist in the other and checking his pulse rate, eyes on the bedside clock as he counted.
After a few more seconds, Sherlock sighed. "John doesn't want me," he announced sadly.
John lost track of what number he had reached. Then he reminded himself that Sherlock was drunk and mentally added '... to keep body parts in the fridge' on to the end of his sentence. "I'm sure you can compromise," he replied, starting his count again.
Sherlock's expression became even more forlorn and John let go of the wrist he was holding and frowned, finding that his other hand was now smoothing over dark curly hair. He had no recollection of deciding to do that. He reached for the quilt which was folded over the footboard and spread it out, then moved to get up, but Sherlock's voice halted him.
"Stay." His eyes were wide and guileless, and John gave himself a moment just to take in the sight of Sherlock with his defences down and his thoughts streaming freely. He opened his mouth with a world of questions on his lips... but then stopped and turned his head away. He would not take advantage of his friend, however overwhelming the temptation.
Sherlock rolled onto his side, curving his body around John. "I want more," he murmured into the semi-darkness as his eyes finally closed.
John's breath seemed to have fled the scene, since try as he might he couldn't catch it. "What do you mean?" he asked at last, but there was no response.
He twisted away and rested his elbows on his knees, dropping his head into his hands. He sat like that for a while, feeling Sherlock's warmth against his lower back, then he sighed.
"What do you want from me?" He spoke very softly, not expecting an answer, but he got one anyway. Just the faintest whisper of breath from a man tipping over the edge into sleep...
The following day, John didn't know what to do.
He had hardly slept the night before, sitting up with Sherlock out of concern that he might be ill. Or, more honestly, because he had the excuse of concern that Sherlock might be ill. By the time he had forced himself to admit that Sherlock was fine, and that running a hand through his hair for hours was not really medically necessary, it had been very late indeed.
Sherlock had been twitchy all morning and very obviously hungover. Enquiries about the mystery suspect from the night before were ignored and he maintained a fairly low-grade rant, which immediately cut off whenever John got up, then resumed upon being presented with another cup of unwanted tea.
By late afternoon, he was on the sofa and had settled into his effigy impression... eyes closed, hands pressed together prayerfully; replace the pyjamas with a suit of armour and he wouldn't look out of place in a crypt. John sat and looked at him, wanting to cross the room and take the chance but unable to get past the fear that he was reading too much into too little and would ruin everything.
"Sooner or later someone's going to come along and take a brass rubbing of you," he observed after a while.
Sherlock sniffed but didn't open his eyes. "Brass rubbings are taken from monumental brasses rather than from three dimensional representations, as should be obvious from the name. Sometimes things are so blindingly apparent and yet you don't see them at all, you ignore the facts, you disregard the evidence, just marching along with your narrow perceptions, unable to disregard a single aberration and if you're going to leave, just go."
His mouth snapped shut exactly as John's fell open and an awkward silence swelled in the flat, until it was disturbed by the rustle of a silk dressing gown as Sherlock turned his back to the room.
"Sherlock, how much do you remember about last night?"
"Enough to wish you would forget it."
Well, that seemed fairly clear. John exhaled, then moved over to the desk and fired up his laptop, trying to put the whole thing out of his mind and get back onto an even keel. He opened a new page and stared at it.
'... if you're going to leave, just go.'
Go where? John frowned. He had spent the morning debating some pretty radical plans of action, but leaving had never featured among them - other than as the fear which stopped him from trying. He didn't want to upset their arrangement so drastically that he would have to move out. He raised his head and looked at the Sherlock-shaped lump on the sofa.
'... just go... just go... just go.'
Why would Sherlock think that he would leave?
"Your blogging would be more successful if you actually typed something rather than just staring at the back of my head." The voice was terse, as was usual for these moods, but there was something off about it.
John sat there and turned things over in his mind. If Sherlock remembered the night before, was he concerned that John would misunderstand his words and be offended? Offended enough to leave? But no... Sherlock was pretty clueless on the emotional front, but surely he knew John better than that? His brows drew together in thought.
"My God, I can actually hear the gears grinding."
John was struck by a sudden inspiration and stood up, walking across the room to perch on the edge of the sofa. Sherlock didn't look round. Nor did he appear to be breathing. "Can you delete this, if you need to?" John asked. "If I say or do something which damages our friendship, could you erase it and let us go on as before?"
Slowly, Sherlock turned his head. "Thus far, successful deletions of memories associated with you total exactly zero," he advised. "But I am certainly willing to try, if it means you will stay."
John frowned at him. "Let's just clear this up right now, shall we? I'm not going to leave unless you throw me out." Sherlock's eyebrows rose and John tried to think of a way to be clear, without being too blatant. "If you had almost everything you needed to be happy," he started cautiously, "say, seventy or eighty per cent of everything you ultimately wanted..." He paused, steeling himself. "Would you risk it for the chance at a hundred?"
Sherlock twisted around onto his back, studying John closely. "The risk is greater on my side," he pointed out eventually. "You have other friends, whereas for me…" He shrugged.
John stared, trying to judge whether he was adapting what he heard to fit his own hopes, or whether... He gave up and stripped himself bare. "There would be no risk for you," he promised. "No risk at all."
The expressions chased across Sherlock's features more quickly than John could identify, and the moment stretched out as he waited, feeling as if he'd thrown himself from a cliff top without being sure he was attached to anything. He was just starting to lose his nerve when Sherlock caught him, reaching out and taking hold of his wrist, then placing the hand directly over his own heart.
"Yours, if you want it," he offered abruptly.
John gaped at him and Sherlock released his hold. "Such as it is," he added, turning his head away.
John did not remove his hand, but rather lowered his gaze to look at it, his stubby fingers brown and rough against the thin material of Sherlock's grey T-shirt. He could feel the heart underneath beating too quickly, unsure of its welcome, uncertain of its worth. "I want it," he said, his fingers flexing. He looked back up at Sherlock's face. "I want it."
"What exactly do you want?" Sherlock looked sideways at him and John smiled, then deliberately allowed his eyes to wander down over the long neck, noting the convulsive swallow; across the lean chest, seeing the nipples peak - he rubbed his thumb over the nearest and Sherlock's whole body quivered, but then his hand flew up to cover John's, halting his survey. "What do you want from me?" he asked again.
John blinked as he recognised his own question from the night before. There was only one possible answer. "Everything," he replied. "I want it all. Everything you show to the world and all the things you hide."
Sherlock sat up, bringing them face to face. "How sure are you?" he asked, as John's hand slid down to curve around his hip. "Because you can't go back from this, you must understand that."
His face was intent and John's other hand rose to stroke a fingertip along one perfect cheekbone, hardly able to believe what he was doing. Totally unable to stop.
Sherlock reached out and gripped his shoulders. "John! John, look at me. You're not paying attention."
Sherlock smiled and frowned at the same time, which made John want to kiss him. "Thank you, but I need you to focus," he insisted.
"I want to kiss you."
"Oh, God." Sherlock swallowed, his eyes roaming John's face. "Listen to me. You have to be sure. You have to be absolutely certain that this is what you want, because if you do this... if you let me in... I will never, ever let you go."
"Good," said John.
Sherlock's fingers tightened. "I am serious," he reproved. "I am obsessive and possessive and I absolutely do not share. If you take this step, I will wrap myself around your life until you are drowning in me. I will consume you, John. You should think about it... I am dangerous."
"The magic word." John's hand pushed into the curls at the back of Sherlock's head and attempted to draw him nearer, but he refused to budge, arms tense and holding John at bay.
"John, wait… Please. Be sure." He tried to break free. "You're not hearing me," he muttered. "I couldn't bear it if…"
Sherlock suddenly found himself engulfed as John exerted some strength and broke his hold with ease, pulling him in close and wrapping both arms securely around his body.
"Don't worry," a warm voice spoke in his ear. "You have nothing to worry about." John pulled back a slight distance, bringing one hand up to his face while keeping the other tightly round him. "If this is truly mutual, if you feel for me even a part of what I feel for you, then there is no going back. I will never leave you. Never. I am yours, Sherlock. Completely and utterly. Whatever you want from me, you can have." The hand on his face resettled itself, thumb stroking along his cheekbone as fingers pushed into his hair.
"If..." Sherlock echoed. "If this is mutual?" He managed a short laugh although his reactions seemed to be all over the place, his brain feeling both sluggish and energised at the same time. He barely registered that he was being lowered until his back hit the cushions. "John?" His enquiry died away as John bent over him, still sitting sideways on the edge of the sofa, bringing both hands up now to cup his face.
"Do you love me, Sherlock?" he asked. "Do you love me, like I love you?"
Sherlock sucked in a breath, registering a phrase he had never heard before from anyone but a family member, and even then, not since he was very small. He nodded.
"Tell me," John insisted. "Tell me, tell me." His blue eyes were intent.
"I love you." The words felt odd on his tongue, alien and strange, as if they knew they shouldn't belong in the speech of a sociopath. Certainly they'd never ventured near before, until this apparently ordinary man had arrived and brought the world in with him. Sherlock was about to say more, when John took his mouth. And, oh God, John's tongue was running along his top lip, and Sherlock tried to remember how many nerve endings were present in that location and if there was any research to indicate that they became more sensitive over time, because it had been a number of years since anyone had kissed him but the feeling had in no way been comparable.
The thought drifted off as John delved deeper, the tip of his tongue now teasing at Sherlock's, encouraging him to stop analysing and start joining in and Sherlock realised that his arms were lying uselessly at his sides, which was ridiculous when for the last ten months the urge to wrap them around this man had been growing inexorably stronger. He raised them, one hand coming to rest on John's head and the other settling over his spine, but that wasn't enough so he stroked down and tugged at clothing until he could slide his hand back up across bare skin.
John seemed to be in favour as he gave Sherlock's bottom lip an approving nip, although how a nip could be approving Sherlock had no idea, but clearly it was, as the accompanying groan corroborated, then John sealed their mouths together and just invaded, his tongue stroking and circling Sherlock's own and Sherlock was immediately fascinated by this progression, frowning in concentration as he tried to identify what made it so completely different to any kiss he had submitted to in the past, which was clearly an incalculable puzzle, since he had been kissed by several other people but that kissing had not been remotely analogous to the John-kissing which was currently taking place... and he should be recording this experience via every means available so that he would have something to fall back on if John ever realised what a very, very short straw he had drawn and...
"I won't leave you."
Sherlock heaved in a lungful of air as John's sudden words freed his mouth, then he remembered that he had a perfectly functional nose which could have been doing the job all this time. He curved a hand around the back of John's neck and pulled him down again.
And now this... this was different in a new way, because Sherlock had allowed people to kiss him before but he had never been the instigator; never particularly wanted to press his mouth against someone else's or to tease their lips apart and dip inside, to entice their tongue into his own mouth and suck on it. But now he did. Oh, how he did. And John seemed so deliciously eager to be enticed. There were hands in his hair, one slipping lower to rub a knuckle up and down the back of his neck and Sherlock arched into the feeling, exhaling sharply as John's mouth left his and moved along his jaw then down his throat, starting to suck just above his collar bone until he paused and lifted his head a fraction.
"God, yes!" Sherlock tugged him back down, tipping his head back to help, and felt the pressure as John marked him, already planning which open necked shirt to wear tomorrow to best show it off. Probably the purple, John always seemed to like the purp... His thoughts derailed because John's hands had moved again and suddenly there were thumbs rubbing over both of his nipples.
"Oh, God." Sherlock became extremely aware of his erection. For a previously trouble-free area, it had become increasingly demanding ever since John moved in, years of relative dormancy overturned that very first evening: travelling across town in a black London cab, John had said 'amazing' and Sherlock's cock had twitched a 'thank you'. He could still recall the surprise he had felt at the time, and the full four seconds it had taken him to come up with a verbal response.
Nor was he proud that it had been three weeks and several 'Thank God for my coat's before he had worked out that it was John causing the odd reaction, and not just the novelty of receiving a genuine compliment. He'd actually had to start wanking again, which had been hugely annoying.
With a final kiss to the side of his neck, John sat up, but he didn't move his hands. "So responsive," he murmured, his fingers circling Sherlock's nipples through the T-shirt until they were hard and aching. Sherlock wanted to watch his face but kept looking down instead, struggling to believe that this man's hands were actually on his body. He glanced back up and John was watching him.
Blue eyes burned into his as John's fingers pinched together. "I can't believe I'm touching you."
Sherlock quivered but held his gaze. It felt unbearably intimate to expose this side of himself, allowing John to see the arousal he provoked, after so long spent hiding it. "I have dreamed of this," he admitted, his voice low and shaken. "So many nights I've touched myself, imagining it was you." He closed his eyes and tipped his head back, the feelings immediately more intense. "Wishing it was you."
One of John's hands left him, giving way to something warm and wet sucking through the thin material, and Sherlock curved an arm back over his head and pushed up into that heat. He didn't need to hide from John any more, didn't want to, wasn't sure he could.
"God, John, that's..." The tight knot of sensation was radiating outwards and Sherlock could feel the flush rising up his chest. He arched off the sofa gasping, "Stop!"
John pulled away immediately with an apology on his lips, but Sherlock cut it off. "You'll make me come, and I don't want to yet," he explained.
John's eyebrows shot up. "Just from that?" he asked incredulously.
Sherlock shrugged, forcing himself to calm. "An experiment for another day," he suggested and John smiled the most gorgeous of all his smiles.
"So many more days," he agreed.
"All of them."
John kicked off his shoes then tugged his jumper over his head and started on his shirt buttons. "All of them," he promised.
Sherlock started to remove his dressing gown, but John stopped him with a quick hand to his sternum. "Let me?" he requested, looking oddly bashful but determined. "If we're talking about things we've dreamed of doing..."
"By all means." Sherlock settled back to watch as John resumed unfastening his buttons, then finally stripped off his shirt, revealing the T-shirt underneath.
"How many layers do you need?" Sherlock demanded, reaching for the hem and tugging upwards. "It's like 'pass the parcel'."
John snorted out a laugh. "How did a children's party game survive deletion?" he asked, his voice muffled by the fabric being pulled over his head.
"It was a very good party," Sherlock recalled as John's face reappeared. "Mycroft ate too much cake and threw up on Mummy's new shoes." He tapped his temple and grinned. "I saved the whole day." John was giggling as he cast the last of his layers aside.
After living together for nearly a year, the sight before Sherlock was hardly a new one. But to see John half naked just for him, because he desired it, because he had asked for it... that was different in a way that made his mouth dry and his heart pound. He sat up and reached out his hands but then pulled them back.
"Do me," he requested, holding his arms out to the sides and John obeyed, pushing the dressing gown off his shoulders. The silk rustled as it slithered down and Sherlock shook himself free, allowing the material to pool behind him. John lowered his hands to the hem of his T-shirt, then paused and Sherlock could feel the tremor in the fingers brushing his skin.
"Feels like Christmas," John said.
"Bit late," Sherlock observed, thinking 'Come on, come on!'
John just smiled as he started pulling upwards and Sherlock raised his arms and leaned forward to help and then they were both topless.
"Now that was worth waiting for," John declared emphatically, his eyes roving all over Sherlock's upper body. He stood up, twisting before Sherlock could follow suit and settling back onto the sofa but this time with a knee on either side of Sherlock's hips, and hands on his shoulders. He eased his weight back down to rest on Sherlock's thighs, and his smile was slow, and seductive and full of intent.
"Oh, the things I'm going to do to you," he murmured, his hand sliding up Sherlock's neck, thumb stroking over the mark he had made, and Sherlock's lips parted but he didn't make a sound. "Hope we don't get interrupted."
"I turned off my phone," Sherlock promised.
"Bloody hell!" John sat back, looking surprised and impressed in equal measure. "It must be love!"
"I keep telling you."
"You've told me once."
"I'll tell you every day."
"No, you won't."
"I'll mean it every day."
John smiled. "Good enough."
Sherlock became aware that he was smiling back in an unacceptably fatuous manner, and straightened his features. "Shut up and kiss me."
"Not a problem."
And this... this was another first, not the wanting another mouth against his own, because he'd spent far too many hours thinking about John's, but the anticipation... feeling lips brush the skin just below his ear and knowing where they were headed, angling his jaw as John worked his way along it and being content just to wait, and Sherlock hated waiting, loathed and detested being dependent on another person's schedule, but this was the best kind of waiting he had ever done, absolutely the best, because John was getting closer and Sherlock parted his own lips and then the waiting was over.
And as he held John's head in his hands and explored his mouth all over again, the knowledge that he could do this whenever he wanted gradually began to sink in. This wasn't just another fantasy, this was real. If he wanted a kiss, he could ask for one, or he could even just take one, or more than one... perhaps many, many more than one. He was vaguely aware of being lowered backwards, strong arms supporting his weight, but he was happy to leave himself in John's hands as other visions started to present themselves: waking up and John being there, right there, close enough to touch and he would be able to touch... John wanted him to touch, John wanted him, he wanted...
Sherlock pulled away. "I think I'm having a seizure." His heart was racing and his chest felt tight.
"No, you're not."
John was smiling but Sherlock struggled to focus on him. "Call yourself a doctor? I can't breathe!"
"Sherlock, you're crying."
"I am not!" He raised a hand to his face, then blinked at his fingers, rubbing the tips together, the evidence irrefutable. "It could be you. You're on top, you're probably dripping on me."
"If you say so."
John's expression was fond and incredibly familiar. Had there always been such love in it? How had he never identified it before? Sherlock closed his eyes. "You'd best get on with the shagging, before I really embarrass myself."
He heard a snort of laughter, then John shifted and stretched out on top of him. "Just give me five minutes," he requested. "There must be a hundred times I've watched you lying on this sofa and wanted to spread myself over you, I'm not missing the chance now. You can think about which bedroom you want to start in."
Start in...? Sherlock didn't get any further before John was kissing him again, scattering his thoughts and tugging him round onto his side. Sherlock obliged, twisting and shuffling backwards to make room, wrapping his arm around John to make sure the whole enterprise didn't end up with one or both of them crashing spectacularly into the coffee table.
"I thought you wanted to be on top? Why are you... Oh." He got his answer as John's hand slipped under the waistband of his pyjamas and down onto his backside.
"Well that answers that question," John murmured against his lips, his voice a little husky. "I've spent a ridiculous amount of time debating what you wore under these things and the answer is exactly what I hoped it would be."
His hand was kneading bare flesh as he spoke and Sherlock groaned and pressed forward, his erection sliding along the hard length of John's through the barrier of their clothing.
"If you don't take me to bed soon, you'll have to carry me," he warned breathlessly, his toes curling into the upholstery.
John smiled, then let out a small laugh and Sherlock quirked a brow. This certainly wasn't the reaction he'd been hoping for.
John shook his head. "No, no, I'm not laughing at you," he said, with a reassuring squeeze. "I was just thinking that last night I wanted to break the nose of that bastard who tried to kiss you, and now I'd quite like to kiss him myself."
Sherlock endeavoured to hide his guilty expression, but John's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"What did you do?"
Sherlock squirmed, which felt amazing with John's thigh between his legs, and he couldn't stop himself from doing it again while he considered how to handle this.
"Sherlock..." John's tone was warning, but he made no attempt to move away.
"For some reason, I find it much more difficult to hide my feelings after even a moderate intake of alcohol."
John snorted. "The reason is that you have the tolerance of an eight year old. Mrs Hudson could drink you under the table - and has, more than once. On her home made elderflower wine the last time, as I recall."
"That stuff is lethal," grumbled Sherlock. "She's been building up resistance for years."
John rolled his eyes. "So why the guilty look? And don't try to deny it, because it's the one I'm most attuned to and I can spot it at a much greater distance than this."
Sherlock drew a deep breath. He knew he had to come clean, but his track record at distinguishing the truly unforgivable from the mildly upsetting was absolutely dire. Fear that he might ruin what they had before it even began was making his stomach hurt.
"Well, last night... I wasn't actually as drunk as I seemed," he started. John tensed in his arms and Sherlock held on tighter. "I didn't lie to you," he said quickly. "I promised I wouldn't do that and I didn't break my word, I swear. Everything I said to you was true." His hand rose to John's eyebrow and he stroked a fingertip over the scar which was a legacy of the last time he had betrayed John's trust. He leaned forward and kissed it, his lips brushing John's skin as he spoke again, his voice low. "I swear."
He drew back and John nodded for him to continue. "I was about to leave the bar, thinking about coming home to you and I... I just didn't want to hide any more." He held John's gaze. "For once, I wanted to be able to tell you how I... how much I..."
He groaned in frustration, then forced himself to open up. "I've never told anyone I loved them, John. Never wanted to, never thought I ever would. But then you came and it's as if you brought me to life and lately the words seemed to be bubbling in my throat whenever I looked at you and sometimes I was afraid to even open my mouth in case they escaped and chased you away." He sucked in a breath, telling the part of his brain which was screaming in outrage at this emotional behaviour to just fuck off, because if he lost John now then there was no hope for him. "And I thought that if I pretended to be drunker than I was, I could let them out... just a little bit. Just enough to take the edge off. And you could ignore me if it wasn't what you wanted to hear because it doesn't count when you're drunk, right? That's what you said once. You wouldn't hold it against me - I didn't think you would. And I would have had the chance, just for once in my life, to tell someone..." he broke off, looking away, his voice reduced to little more than a whisper, "...to tell someone that I loved them."
He cleared his throat, still keeping his head down. "Then all morning, I've been... well... terrified, quite frankly." He felt the colour rise in his cheeks at such an admission, but he had to do it, had to strip himself bare, because this was forever, this was the rest of their lives. "Worried that you understood me all too well, didn't feel the same, and were debating whether it would be kinder to move out."
John was silent, but he didn't pull free. Nor did he move his hand, which seemed like a positive sign. "What are you thinking?" Sherlock asked eventually, putting off the moment when he would have to look up and deduce the answer for himself.
"I'm thinking that that's unquestionably the most amazing thing anyone has ever said to me, and that if you think I'm ever going to leave you, you're out of your mind, and that I love you and I always will."
Sherlock raised his head, feeling the smile pulling at his mouth.
"I'm also thinking that I'd probably be more upset over the whole 'pretending' thing if I didn't currently have my hand on your arse as a result," John added, with a smile that showed his understanding of Sherlock's need to pull back a bit from all this emotion.
John fake-frowned at him, his eyes narrowing. "Are you right at this moment planning to flash your backside at me the next time you've blown something up?"
"Er... no?" Sherlock decided that a 'No' with a question mark was so clearly a 'Yes' that it didn't technically qualify as a lie. Relief was spreading through his body and reawakening the desire which had waned as he talked; he found himself watching John's mouth as he spoke and barely registering the words.
"Oh, what the hell, give it a go," John decided. "At least there'll be an upside next time I have to buy another new toaster." He started to pull Sherlock closer, then paused. "Only in private though," he warned. "I don't share either."
Sherlock nodded in agreement, his eyes already falling closed as their lips met again. He was hungry now, eager for this man who held him pinned on the sofa. All his secrets were out, confessions made, nothing nagging in the back of his mind, nothing to distract him from John's bare chest pressed against his own, John's leg between his thighs, John's tongue in his mouth, John's...
"Raise your leg," John instructed, pulling his head back.
John slid his hand round to Sherlock's flank and patted twice. "Leg up," he repeated.
Sherlock slowly raised his knee and hitched his leg forward over John's hip, the adjustment leaving him feeling very open and exposed with John's hand right there, holding the now taut curve of his buttock. He could hear his heart beating and it sounded loud in the quiet of the flat, speeding up as John's fingers stroked across his bare skin, edging down and between, just teasing him really - but Sherlock was going to make him deliver on every one of those promises.
"Tell me what you want," John commanded, and the authority in his tone made Sherlock want to obey but left him incapable of doing so. "Things you like, things you don't like..." John continued when there was no reply. "Anything I should avoid completely? How do you feel about penetration? And what about…?"
"Yes," managed Sherlock, his voice unsteady.
"That one. Penetration. Yes."
"So… you have experience in this area?"
"Some. Not much. And quite a long time ago."
"Right... and do you have a preference as to…"
"I want you to penetrate me. As soon as possible. Please."
"You want me to…"
"Yes. Now, please."
"But, don't you…"
"John! For God's sake, can we talk about this later?" Sherlock pulled free and launched himself off the sofa, urging John up with him. Frustration seemed to have restored his faculties, at least temporarily, and he took the chance to move things along.
"For the last six months I haven't been able to pass you in the kitchen without wanting to bend over the table and beg you to fuck me, so will you please, now, if it's not too much trouble, be so very kind as to oblige me?" He started walking backwards across the living room, tugging a dazed looking John along by his belt loops.
"Bloody hell!" John was catching up, his eyes gleaming, until another thought clearly struck him and he stopped. "Wait! Do you have...?"
Sherlock released John's belt, turned his back and kept walking, looking over his shoulder as he paused near the doorway. "I've got everything you need, John," he promised, intentionally deepening his voice as he eased his pyjama pants lower on his hips. John's gaze immediately dropped and Sherlock experienced a new emotion which he later categorised as 'gleeful anticipation'. A small push, a slight wiggle, and he was naked.
"Whenever you're ready," he murmured, stepping free of the fabric and moving away at a deliberate saunter.
The rasp of a zipper made him want to turn but he resisted, then there was the muffled thud of a pair of jeans hitting the carpet. He added a bit more of a swing to his hips but kept moving, then John growled his name in a voice which licked down his spine like a tongue of fire. Sherlock froze, then made a dash for his bedroom. He let himself be caught just inside the doorway and they fell together onto the bed in a rolling tangle of limbs.
Sherlock ended on his back, half laughing and trying to catch his breath, but John didn't give him a chance, placing a firm hand on either side of his head and commencing to kiss him with a single-minded determination which Sherlock could only admire as he wrapped arms and legs around his doctor and banished any thought that wasn't 'hold on tight' into some corner of his brain which was utterly unworthy of his current attention.
Eventually, John raised his head, his grip preventing Sherlock's automatic attempt to follow.
"Hi," he said, his expression bemused.
"Hello," Sherlock replied. "We're really here," he advised. "I'm definitely naked, and you're absolutely on top of me, and I'm certainly not letting go until you have delivered on the frankly impressive promise I can feel against my hip." He took advantage of the way John's gasp relaxed his muscles and reached up to kiss him again, rolling them over and smiling as John's hands immediately slid down to his backside.
Sherlock dropped his head and licked up the side of John's neck, pushing one hand into his hair to keep him in place while his other hand stroked over John's shoulder and upper arm, feeling the muscles flex in time with the hands squeezing his bum. He stretched himself out, aligning their hips as they rocked together, and that was... that was John's cock... sliding against his own. Nothing between them. Just heat and hardness and...
"Sherlock." John's voice sounded awed. "Sherlock, I..."
Enough talking. Sherlock abandoned John's neck and tugged his head round and their mouths met fiercely, already open and eager, their tongues twining as they sucked at each other hungrily. Sherlock shifted to get a better angle and the light dusting of hair on John's chest rasped over his nipples making his hips jerk in reaction, their kiss breaking off as they both groaned.
They pressed their foreheads together, maintaining eye contact as Sherlock propped himself up onto his elbows and deliberately repeated the movement, brushing his chest against John's with tiny twists of his torso, teasing himself and glad of the distraction because he didn't want this to all be over too quickly. He was surprised when John's hands slid round to grip the sides of his hips and even more so to be suddenly lifted - not far, just high enough that John could slide a foot or so down the bed underneath him, then settle him back down, but now John's head was level with...
"Oh, God!" John's lips closed around his nipple and started sucking, and not gently sucking... not polite, well-mannered, tentative sucking, which would have been nice and pleasant and good, but the kind of sucking that made Sherlock's toes arch and spasm against the bed. The kind of sucking that made his mind blank and his cock hard and his mouth open, but all that emerged was John's name in the kind of breathless pant that would have embarrassed him had he still given a flying fuck about anything of the kind.
John's hands stroked down the back of his thighs, then took a firmer hold and spread them wide so that Sherlock was splayed out on top of him, shockingly aware of how indecently naked he must look, how vulnerable and exposed, and how was it that the thought was not alarming but exciting - making his heart thump and his breath heave, making his arms tremble with the strain of keeping him propped up over John who suddenly switched sides, licking his tongue over Sherlock's other nipple and then blowing on it while the first throbbed and pulsed as the air hit it again.
"John! God... what are you doing to me?"
"Number fourteen on my list," murmured John before latching on more strongly, and Sherlock's arms nearly gave way.
He shuffled his elbows to a more stable position as John's hands started to slide back up his thighs, moving round to the inside and stroking a couple of inches higher, then an inch back down, over and over, higher and higher, edging ever nearer to the top until Sherlock was trying to push himself down without pulling away from John's mouth, which was clearly impossible but he tried anyway, stretching his body, rocking his hips, biting his lip to stop himself begging, his head hanging down and his breathing loud, filling his ears with the sounds of his own desperation... and John hadn't even really touched him yet, what the hell had he got into here? And why hadn't they done this long, long ago?
"I could use some of those supplies you claimed to have," John said, pulling his mouth free.
Sherlock stared down at him.
"Lube?" John specified, raising one eyebrow in query.
"Yes," managed Sherlock. "Good."
John gripped his hips again while he shifted back up the bed, then he wrapped an arm around Sherlock's waist and sat them both up, Sherlock's knees sliding forward so that he ended astride John's thighs.
"Cabinet?" suggested John, nodding his head to the side, and Sherlock blinked, then pulled himself together and stretched across, scrabbling in the drawer until he found what they needed. He sat up again, leaning back a little this time so that he could finally see... his gaze fell to John's lap and his eyes widened.
"John..." Sherlock was almost embarrassed by how breathless he sounded. He glanced up, but then immediately dropped the supplies, all other concerns forgotten in the light of John's expression.
"John? John, what is it? What's the matter?" Sherlock took hold of his shoulders, then looked down at himself doubtfully. There was nothing wrong with him, was there? He'd always thought this was one area where physically at least he appeared entirely normal.
"There's nothing wrong with you," John said at once, leaving Sherlock wondering, not for the first time with John, if he'd actually spoken out loud without meaning to. "You're perfect," John went on. "Absolutely perfect. Gorgeous. Flawless." He didn't seem happy about it.
"And this is a problem because...?"
John twitched his wounded shoulder out of Sherlock's grasp and looked away. "You could have anybody, Sherlock. Anybody at all. Why would you even...?"
Sherlock wanted to laugh at the sheer absurdity of John's doubts, but he bit it back. He took John's face in his hands and forced it round.
"And of a world population which is nearing seven billion," he said, holding John's gaze, "how many could ever love me as much as you do?"
They stared at each other. "None of them," John acknowledged at last.
"None of them," Sherlock confirmed. "And they're incurably dull anyway."
John's lips twitched. "I'm being an idiot, aren't I?"
"You are," Sherlock agreed. "Strangely, it doesn't seem to be putting me off in the slightest."
John grinned and looped an arm round his neck, tugging him down for a kiss which Sherlock threw himself into, resolving to keep John so thoroughly and regularly sated in the future that any thoughts of being undesirable would be too shagged out to surface.
With that thought in mind, he reached down between their bodies and wrapped his hand around John's cock, feeling the way his whole body trembled as Sherlock flexed his fingers assessingly, and then stroked up and down, exploring and learning.
John broke away from the kiss with a gasp, putting both hands behind him and leaning his weight on them, his head tipped back and his breathing unsteady. Sherlock smiled, enjoying his power. He adjusted the angle of his wrist and leaned forward to kiss John again, bringing up his free hand to cup the back of his head, holding him firmly as he swallowed every moan, recorded every gasp, memorised every muttered encouragement, ready to catch him if his shoulder gave way, and John was shaking, it seemed that he might fall, but then he turned his head and drew in a deep breath and Sherlock could feel him collecting himself.
His arms steadied, muscles tensed, power returning as he shifted his balance and sat up straighter, tilting Sherlock back and reaching to the side. Lubrication, Sherlock remembered, releasing his grip and holding out his hand. John squirted some onto his palm, but then grabbed his wrist before he could move, dropping the bottle and bringing his hand back to press against Sherlock's, smearing and warming the gel between them.
As soon as he was released, Sherlock returned to his task, his hand moving more smoothly now, gliding easily, and he tried to focus on his actions and not on the anticipation of what John would do next, but he didn't have to wait long, the first skim of John's slick fingers over his length making him shudder and moan, his free hand rising to clutch at John's neck and he had just registered that some distant part of his brain was wondering about John's other hand when a surreptitiously lubed finger moved down behind his balls, sliding into place like a prostate-seeking missile.
"Bloody, fucking hell!" Sherlock's head fell back as he tried to adjust; it had been a long time since anyone had done this to him and it wasn't entirely comfortable. His mind unhelpfully reminded him of the size disparity between what he was feeling and what he held in his hand and he felt a momentary concern, but then he looked down and the sight of John's hand on him, the other beneath, made his cock jerk before his eyes, and John's finger inside him was rubbing gently, gradually stimulating his prostate into arousal.
"All right?" John asked, his voice husky and low, and Sherlock nodded, raising his eyes, his hand stroking the back of John's neck in time with everything else and they leaned together, Sherlock curved forward over John, kissing when they had breath, looking down and then back into each other's eyes, absorbing their new reality as John gradually stretched Sherlock, adding a second finger, then a third, always stroking him, soothing him, both of them keeping their pace deliberately slow, easing off when breathing became too fast, when sensations became too much; learning each other.
"I love you like this," John murmured, and Sherlock was abruptly ready. More than ready. Way past ready and heading into desperate.
"That's enough preparation," he said.
"Are you sure? You said it had been a long time..."
"But, really, Sherlock - you're incredibly tight and I don't want to hurt you..."
"I'm sure! I'm sure, I am absolutely fucking sure, John. Please!"
The last word was barely out of his mouth when John's hand left his cock, wiped itself on his thigh, then rose to grab a fistful of curls, tugging him down into a kiss of such ferocity, such mind-wiping, toe-curling, pulse-racing lust that it took Sherlock three attempts to compose a sentence when he was finally released.
"Is it the swearing or the begging?" he asked breathlessly.
"I neither know, nor care. Pass me a condom."
Sherlock scrambled to comply, ripping the packet open and offering it. "Do you want me to...?" He looked down.
"Please," invited John, pulling his fingers out of Sherlock's body and wiping them on one of the stray socks which were scattered about the bed. He picked up the lube as Sherlock rolled on the condom, then applied a generous coating.
"How do you want to do this?"
Sherlock hesitated. "I usually imagine you behind me, but..."
John waited and Sherlock blushed, which was absolutely ridiculous. "...but I want to be able to see you. I..." God, he was stammering! He forced himself to continue. "I want to be under you. Is that...?"
"...perfect," said John. "That's perfect." He reached up and kissed Sherlock's embarrassment away, then pulled him down onto the bed and rolled him onto his back, shoving a pillow under his hips as they went and settling on top of him.
Sherlock raised his legs, adjusting himself to the optimal angle.
"Easy," warned John. "Just take it steady, there's no..."
Sherlock flexed the long muscles in his thighs then tightened them, pulling John inside his body in one smooth slide.
"...rush," finished John, biting his lip, his arms trembling where they supported his weight.
Sherlock held still. He knew that the initial discomfort was showing in his face, and he also knew that it would fade. He tried to relax.
"Talk to me," said John, and Sherlock was grateful that he didn't suggest stopping. "Why this way round? You surprised me." The tendons in his neck stood out with the effort of not moving and his voice wasn't entirely steady, but he was clearly determined to wait until Sherlock was ready.
Sherlock smoothed his hands over John's shoulders, then down his arms, feeling the muscles ripple under his touch. "People have no idea what's under those jumpers," he said. "Your strength is one of the things you hide." He smiled. "But not from me."
He remembered the way John had lifted him earlier and felt a throb of arousal, the unaccustomed fullness in his body suddenly beginning to feel much more welcome. He briefly tried a gentle rocking motion, but then decided against it. "Do you remember in the kitchen three weeks ago, when you decided that I was in the way?"
John shifted a bit in remembered outrage and Sherlock hissed. "Sorry," he said. "But you were in the way! You deliberately obstructed the kettle for ten minutes, just to be annoying."
"And you moved me," Sherlock thought back to that moment and rocked again, to much better effect. "You just picked me up and moved me."
"And you went off to your bedroom for a massive sulk."
Sherlock chuckled, clenching around John then relaxing again. "Not even close," he murmured, raising his eyebrows suggestively.
John's jaw dropped. "You didn't!"
"To use a phrase which seems current, I SO did." Sherlock grinned. "Best wank I've had in years."
John's eyes widened, then he giggled. "Sorry, but it sounds very odd to hear your voice saying 'wank'," he explained.
"It's fine - the giggling feels amazing." Sherlock moaned appreciatively. Any pain or discomfort was fading fast and the urge to move was taking over. He scratched his nails lightly down John's back.
John drew back a little, then pushed in again, his eyes steady on Sherlock's face.
"Kiss me first."
Sherlock obeyed, welcoming John's tongue into his mouth, then sucking on it while clenching his internal muscles around him, pulling as much of John's body into his own as he could manage and holding it there. When John finally raised his head, he looked dazed.
"Fucking hell," he said quietly. It sounded like a compliment.
Sherlock held on to his shoulders as he started moving, his face becoming tense and focused.
"You," John said firmly, "are the most gorgeous," he punctuated his words with thrusts of his hips, "brilliant," another thrust had Sherlock panting beneath him, "breathtaking creature I have ever seen." Sherlock was struggling to concentrate, but he didn't want to miss anything. "You feel incredible," John told him, "absolutely, fucking incredible, and I really hope you're enjoying this because, if it's all right with you, we're going to be doing it a lot."
Sherlock nodded emphatically and John kissed him hard, then kept him in place with an arm around his waist as he knelt up, pulling Sherlock's left leg over his good shoulder. The new position afforded an excellent view of John's chest, which now bore a faint sheen of sweat, and Sherlock raised his hand and trailed a finger through it, then brought it to his mouth and licked, tasting the salt.
He looked up and John was staring, his pupils blown wide. Sherlock licked his finger again, then drew it into his mouth, hollowing his cheeks as he sucked on it, working pretty much on instinct by this stage but it seemed to be effective as John drew a sharp breath and visibly reined himself in before gripping Sherlock's hips firmly and tilting them up, holding him in position as he drove into him again and again, every thrust hitting his prostate bang on target, and soon Sherlock was shaking and moaning and chanting John's name, completely unable to stop himself and not even trying.
"Touch yourself," John told him. "Unless you want me to..."
"Don't you dare let go," Sherlock growled, his voice virtually unrecognisable. He wrapped one hand around himself and started stroking, fast and hard, watching John watching him and distantly amazed by how absolutely fucking incredible that made him feel, to let John see this, to show him, to give him everything.
John was talking again, telling him he was beautiful, and brilliant, and that he loved him, and the words poured into his mind, filling his head with John, John, John, until John was everywhere and everything... John was flooding him, filling him, pouring into all the empty corners of his life and Sherlock came with a shout that seemed to claw its way up from the dark hidden places where he pushed down all the insults which he brushed off and all the hurt feelings he pretended not to have and they faded away with the echo of his cry, leaving him shaking and breathless and wondering what the bloody fuck just happened.
"What the bloody fuck just happened?" asked John.
Sherlock opened his eyes, blinking and disoriented. "John, I..." He glanced down to where John was carefully pulling out of him. "Did you...?"
"Hell, yes, I did," John replied, disposing of the condom then grabbing another random sock to clean Sherlock off with. "With you yelling and thrashing and clamping down on me like that, not coming was not an option."
He settled down on the bed and Sherlock curled into him immediately, still trembling. He felt John draw a breath as if to ask more questions, but then he seemed to changed his mind, his arms coming up to hold Sherlock close, hands stroking soothingly. "Can you reach the quilt?" he asked.
Sherlock stretched a leg down and gripped a corner of the duvet with his toes, dragging it off the footboard and up until he could reach to spread it over them and for a long while they lay cocooned together as their heart rates gradually slowed and their breathing steadied.
Eventually, John spoke again. "Are you all right?"
Sherlock nodded against his chest.
"So, what was that, Sherlock? Because there was more going on there than just an orgasm, no matter how strong."
"I don't think I can explain."
"Well, you can try. And you can keep trying until I get it, because we're in this together now and there is no going back."
"Does the shagging mean I have to answer questions?"
"Yes. Always read the small print."
Sherlock smiled, starting to feel more like himself. He eased back just far enough that he could focus on John's face. "It was like... a catharsis."
"I don't know how else to describe it. As if a lot of bad things I'd locked away just got deleted." He frowned in thought. "I feel lighter."
John chuckled. "That should work out well since you seem to like me picking you up."
Sherlock stared at him. "I'm going to kiss you at a crime scene," he announced, and John let out a burst of laughter.
"So that's the 'going public' discussion sorted then," he said.
"Well, you should have thought about that before you did this." Sherlock pointed to where John had bitten him earlier, knowing the mark would be livid.
"If you fastened your collar..."
"I do not fasten my collars!"
"You don't mind people knowing?"
"That someone actually loves me? I think I can cope. In fact, I'm hoping the shock might be too much for some of them." He lowered his voice confidingly. "Anderson may even faint."
John snorted. "Well, let's make sure he's standing next to a puddle before you start groping me."
"You wouldn't mind, then?" Sherlock checked, diffidently.
"Anderson face-planting into a puddle? No, not at all."
Sherlock huffed and John's face grew serious. "I would be proud. Am proud. Of you. Always. Just being your friend puts me head and shoulders above the crowd. I'll take whatever you give me, and I won't ever let go." He pressed their foreheads together. "I promise."
Sherlock cleared his throat. "So, how's your refractory period?" he asked. "I mean, I know you're older and..."
John nipped his earlobe. "I think you've halved it," he said, his hand sliding down Sherlock's spine. "But about what happened before...?"
"I think that was a one time thing," Sherlock decided. "Still, best to check."
"Oh, definitely," murmured John.
He rolled onto his back and Sherlock smirked as he found himself on top again. "You only want me up here so you've got an excuse to grope my arse." It seemed a fair deduction, as John's hands were already in place.
John raised his eyebrows. "Do I need an excuse?"
Sherlock's smirk faded as the concept struck home. No more surreptitious brushings of arms or faking that he didn't understand personal space. No more being hypnotised by a mouth but not being able to kiss it. No more seeing John take out a thug twice his size and having to pretend it didn't give him a massive erection. He saw a brief vision of their future and it made him smile.
French, by Falyla, at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7830292/1/LES_CHOSES_QUE_TU_CACHES