Actions

Work Header

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Work Text:

 

 

 


Image and video hosting by TinyPic
cover by devinleighbee

 

It took three days of Sherlock avoiding him before John began to get concerned. At first, he didn’t think much of his flatmate’s stranger-than-usual behaviour. He thought that it was because they hadn’t had a case in weeks, and Sherlock’s brain was starting to atrophy. But then he began to notice that Sherlock was acting particularly strange when they were in close physical proximity to each other. He would walk into the kitchen in the morning, and Sherlock would scurry to the living room. He would reach across the table for the sugar, and Sherlock would jerk his hand away as if John were on fire. He would sit down next to Sherlock on the sofa, and Sherlock would get up to move to a chair.

When John realised that Sherlock was consciously avoiding him, he tried to remember anything he had done that could have offended Sherlock. He hadn’t insulted Sherlock on his blog, he hadn’t thrown out any questionable experiments, and he hadn’t complained about the body parts in the refrigerator for weeks. He couldn’t imagine what he had done wrong, and as he thought about it, he began to doubt that he had done anything wrong at all.

Sherlock didn’t seem to be mad at John; he was just keeping an unusual distance away. When they were having an amicable conversation one morning over breakfast, John eating at the sitting room table, Sherlock having coffee over his microscope in the kitchen, John got up to go into the refrigerator for more milk. When he stepped into the kitchen, Sherlock immediately stood, walked around the other side of the table so that he wouldn’t pass by John, and went into the sitting room, never once breaking their conversation. He stood by the fireplace until John closed the refrigerator, then they swapped places again. John was slightly confused, but he didn’t say anything, and their conversation continued as if nothing had happened.

John was going to forget the whole thing, assuming that it was another Sherlock eccentricity that would go away with time, but it had been almost a week, and Sherlock still hadn’t clued him in as to what was going on. John didn’t like being in the dark, though he was also hesitant to ask Sherlock about it, for fear of what the answer might be.

It all came to a head one morning when Sherlock got a phone call from Lestrade, summoning him to a crime scene. He seemed nervous as he fiddled with his phone, and he kept making furtive glances at John.

“I think we should take separate cabs,” he blurted, suddenly.

John stared at him. “What?”

“Separate cabs,” Sherlock repeated. He refused to make eye contact. “Come on, body’s waiting.” He opened the door and was about to step out when John stopped him.

“Sherlock, wait! What do you mean separate cabs?” Sherlock hesitated in the doorway. “Get back in here and either tell me why, or suck it up and share a cab with me. It won’t hurt. I’m not poisonous.”

Sherlock turned to him, mild guilt giving way to irritation in his expression.

“Are you purposefully avoiding me?” John asked. “Because if you’re trying to hide it, you’re not doing as good a job of it as you think you are.”

Sherlock crossed his arms and looked away. “I’m not...It has a purpose, I assure you. And it’s nothing to do with you.”

“You’re avoiding me, but it has nothing to do with me?”

“I’m not avoiding you. I’m just—” John took a few steps toward him, causing Sherlock to take a few steps back. John raised an eyebrow. “I’m not avoiding you,” Sherlock repeated, his eyes narrowing. “I’m just avoiding physical contact.”

“And it has nothing to do with me?”

“Well...yes and no. It’s an experiment.”

John rolled his eyes. “Well thank you, that really makes me feel great. Thanks for always letting me know when you plan to use me as your own personal lab rat.”

Sherlock scowled and looked out the door. “I’m not sharing a cab with you,” he said, decisively.

“Well then I’m not coming. Have fun without me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, John. You want to come.”

“Yes, I want to come. But I do not want to pay for a separate cab when we’re both going to the same place.”

Sherlock glared. “I won’t compromise my experiment. And I’m wasting time standing here bickering with you.”

“Have fun, Sherlock.” John took off his jacket, flung it angrily on the sofa, and sat down in his chair, aware of the fact that they were both throwing tantrums as if they were toddlers. Behaving childishly was an art form to them, but like everything else, it was a means to an end.

Sherlock muttered to himself and slammed the door as he left.

 

---

 

When he heard the downstairs door close, John crossed over to the window and watched Sherlock flag down a cab. He was half-hoping that Sherlock would turn back for him, and though he didn’t really expect it to happen, he still felt hurt when the cab drove away. He picked up his empty dishes from breakfast and brought them into the kitchen, giving in to his anger a bit and putting his mug on top of a stack of Sherlock’s papers, hoping it would leave a nice tea-stain.

Glancing over the mess on the table, one thing in particular caught his eye. The corner of one of Sherlock’s notebooks was sticking out from under a box of slides. John glanced at the door, as if Sherlock would come barging back in, then pulled out the notebook.

observations 1/8/12 - day one

- easy to avoid physical contact, harder to maintain distance of at least one metre
- one-metre rule could become problematic on a practical level
- feeling normal, no sense of agitation
- not anticipating change in mood

John raised an eyebrow and skimmed through the following pages. They were very much the same.

observations 2/8/12 - day two

- one-metre rule irritating already
- JW almost ruined experiment with attempt to brush lint off my jacket - managed to move away before contact was made
- no change in mood, minus minor irritation due to impracticality

observations 5/8/12 - day five

- JW again appears bothered by lack of contact
- leaned forward while speaking to me, not sure if this was conscious, definitely change from normal behaviour, as he usually stands up straight

John stared at the notebook with mild annoyance. The experiment was seemingly harmless, but it was frustrating to be left out of the loop. Sherlock was the cleverest person John had ever met but he seemed to be malfunctioning in some way. Especially when it came to his experiments, he lacked basic knowledge about etiquette and common sense. It was as if he thought that all flatmates experimented on each other.

John left the notebook on top of the clutter on the table, knowing that Sherlock would see that it was out of place. He picked up his mug and wiped away the tea ring before the stain got too dark.

 

---

 

Later that evening, just as John began to think about dinner, he heard Sherlock’s footsteps on the stairs. Sherlock didn’t say anything as he walked in. He stood in the doorway awkwardly, holding a medium-sized paper bag.

“I got Chinese,” he said. He looked up at John as if searching for approval.

John nodded. “Great. Thanks.”

“I solved the case. It was the sister, in case you were wondering. I would have been back sooner, but it was as if she didn’t understand the meaning of ‘shut up.’” He searched John’s face again until John gave a tight smile.

Sherlock pursed his lips and carried the bag into the kitchen, pushing aside a pile of papers to set it on the table. He paused when he saw his notebook, but didn’t say anything.

“I know what you’re doing, you know. I read your notes,” John said. Sherlock jumped a bit at the sound of his voice. “You’ve purposefully been trying not to touch me so you can see our reactions to a complete loss of physical contact.”

Sherlock’s expression didn’t change. He looked up at John, then down at his notebook. “I’ve read studies that say a lack of physical contact from one's parents in childhood can cause anxiety and emotional discomfort. It made me wonder about the effects of a lack of physical contact on other sorts of relationships.”

“And you didn’t think to fill me in on this?”

“Well I must admit, I wasn’t sure you would notice.”

John frowned. “You didn’t think I would notice that you were constantly keeping yourself one metre away from me for an entire month?” Sherlock shrugged. “Alright, that was stupid of you. I noticed by day three.”

Sherlock hid a pleased smile as he pulled boxes of food out of the paper bag.

“So I was thinking...” began John, tentatively. “I can help.”

Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “Help?”

“With the experiment. I won’t touch you. I’ll stay as far away from you as I can.”

“No reason to be farther than across the room,’ said Sherlock, quickly. “One metre was the ideal minimum, but really, it’s unnecessary for us to be separated completely.”

John grinned. “Alright,” he said. “I’ll stay at least one metre away from you at all times. We can go about our lives normally, but no touching each other. We should strive to be a good distance apart as often as we can, but not to the point where it’s hard to get around. If I have to come closer to get into the kitchen, I will.”

“You’ll just make sure not to come into contact with me?”

“I shouldn’t need to touch you in order to get into the kitchen anyway.”

Sherlock stared at John, thoughtfully, then nodded. “Alright. We’ll do it. For the remainder of the month.”

“Alright,” said John. “Deal.” He waited until Sherlock had left the kitchen before he went in to get dinner.

 

---

 

The first few days after their discussion were quite successful. They kept a good distance apart at all times, and it wasn’t difficult at all to do so. When John was sitting in his chair, Sherlock would sit on the sofa, and vice versa. John would help Sherlock go over his notes at the end of the day, and would answer Sherlock’s questions about how he was feeling, both in general, and in regards to their friendship. John would answer “fine, just normal” and “no animosity towards you yet, but if you don’t clear off the kitchen table soon...”

Sticking to the one-metre rule was irritating almost immediately. One afternoon, John was coming down the stairs from his bedroom and saw Sherlock at the bottom of the stairs, on his way up. They both froze.

“What...where are you going?” John asked.

“I need to get into the closet. I have extra test tubes in there.”

"Well just...how many do you need? I'll pass them to you."

Sherlock frowned. "One metre apart, John. You'd have to toss them to me, and I'm not letting you toss my glass belongings down the stairwell. Just back up and stay in your bedroom until I'm gone."

John rolled his eyes, but followed Sherlock's instructions, standing a few steps away from his doorway as he watched Sherlock pass by.

"That wasn’t so hard, was it?" asked Sherlock, peeking into John's room on his way back.

"You're impossible, you know that?" John called after him. He came out of his room just in time to see Sherlock waving a dismissive hand at him on his way down the stairs.

John could only imagine how annoying the one-metre rule would be by the end of the month, but he tried not to think about it. After all, he had agreed to help Sherlock on this particular experiment. Indeed, he had even suggested it himself. He wasn’t sure yet whether he should be regretting this decision.

Later that night, John was sitting at the table in the sitting room, surfing the internet aimlessly, when Sherlock came in from his bedroom and flopped down on the sofa with his notebook.

“Is it warmer in your bedroom than in the rest of the flat?” he asked.

John looked up from his laptop. Sherlock was looking back at him, absently twirling his pen around a strand of hair.

“What? No, why?”

“When I went up to the second floor for the test tubes this afternoon, it just seemed...warmer. In front of your room.”

John shrugged. “Well heat rises, but—”

“No, it wasn’t the second floor in general, just your room specifically.”

“It’s August, I didn’t turn on the heat. There’s no reason for my room to be any warmer than anywhere else.”

Sherlock looked back at John, considering him thoughtfully. “All right,” he said. He scribbled a few notes in his notebook. “Interesting.”

 

---

 

In order to follow the rules, John had to be constantly aware of Sherlock’s presence at all times. He found himself looking at his flatmate far more often than usual, though he wasn't entirely sure that it was because of the experiment.

Sherlock was sitting at the kitchen table, poking at a Petri dish with a thin glass rod. John felt frustrated just looking at him. He was wearing his blue dressing gown, the hem of which was hanging just above his feet on the floor. John stared at Sherlock’s bare ankles, feeling like a repressed Victorian. He couldn’t help thinking about how the fabric must feel, ghosting right over Sherlock's Achilles tendon. Surely it was tickling him. Surely the sensation was irritating.

John dropped his newspaper abruptly on the table in front of him. “I’m sorry, but this is bothering me,” he said. “Could you please take off your dressing gown?”

Sherlock stared at him, his expression blank. John was just about to explain his reasoning when Sherlock wordlessly stood up and took off his dressing gown, keeping his eyes on John’s face. He let the garment fall to the floor.

John swallowed. “It was—the hem was right over your ankles. Couldn’t you feel it?” he asked. Sherlock shook his head, slowly. “Oh.” John licked his lips and looked away. He suddenly felt very stupid for making a big deal over nothing. “Well it just looked...like it was tickling your...it was distracting me.”

“I didn’t feel a thing,” said Sherlock. “Funny that it should bother you.”

John’s face felt hot. “Sorry,” he muttered. He looked up to find Sherlock staring at him intensely. His heart fluttered. Sherlock’s lips tugged to one side, and he turned away. John studied him for just a second longer before going back to reading the paper.

 

---

 

John had never denied that he found Sherlock attractive; he had just always assumed that Sherlock had no interest in relationships. It wasn’t as if John was spending his days pining desperately after his flatmate; he went on dates and he had relationships like anyone else. He simply acknowledged that nothing would ever happen between them, and he went on with his life. Sometimes Sherlock would do something that made John’s heart beat faster, or made him think to himself “this irritating git is infuriatingly beautiful.” But the moment would come and go, and if Sherlock caught his eye just then, well it was probably only a coincidence.

There had sometimes been a certain tension between them, but now, it was as if the tension was constant, and at a steady climb. John was craving something as simple as placing a hand on Sherlock’s arm; preferably his skin. Sherlock’s skin was like an expensive swath of velvet fabric that John wasn’t allowed to touch. The fact that he couldn’t touch made him want to all the more. He found himself staring much too often.

While making dinner later that night, John decided that rather than use a step stool, he would ask Sherlock to reach a high shelf and retrieve a saucepan for him. Sherlock looked up from where he had been reading a book on the sofa, and gave John a quizzical expression. John shifted in place, awkwardly. Sherlock’s eyes flitted over his body, taking in his tense shoulders and averted eyes. He stood and took off his dressing gown, draping it over a chair as he sauntered into the kitchen. He glanced at John once, then reached up for the shelf. John stood on the other side of the kitchen and studied the lines of Sherlock’s body as he stretched up to reach the shelf. His t-shirt lifted to reveal a tiny glimpse of skin over his hipbone. Sherlock held his position for just a few seconds longer than was strictly necessary, then pulled back down and put the saucepan on the counter.

John licked his lips without thinking. “Will you put it back when I’m finished?” he asked.

Sherlock just smirked and nodded.

 

---

 

Three days later, John got home from a long day of work and fell asleep on the sofa right after dinner. He was woken up abruptly when Sherlock tossed a pillow in his face.

“What...what the hell, Sherlock,” he sputtered, irritably. He rolled over onto his side and pressed his face into the back of the sofa.

“Go to bed, John. It’s nearly midnight and your snoring is disturbing my concentration.”

“I don’t snore,” John muttered.

“No, but you are disturbing my concentration.” Sherlock threw another pillow. It bounced off the back of the sofa and fell into John’s face. “You can sleep in my bed if you don’t want to go upstairs. I have work to do, so I won’t be sleeping tonight.”

John snorted. “That’s kind of you, but wouldn’t that be completely weird?”

“What’s weird about it?”

John shrugged with his free shoulder. He sat up and stretched, rubbing a hand over his face and yawning. “I can make it to my own bed. I’ll just...I’ll make it. Goodnight.” He felt Sherlock’s eyes on him as he stumbled his way to the staircase.

John had just entered his room when he realized he had left his phone on the sitting room table. He grumbled his way back downstairs and stopped at the end of the hallway. Sherlock was curled up on the sofa, in the same position John had been in earlier. He didn’t move when John walked into the room, though John knew he had heard his footsteps on the stairs.

“Um...” John cleared his throat. “I thought you weren’t sleeping tonight?” he asked.

Sherlock shifted marginally, pulling his face out of the sofa cushion to speak.

“Not. But it‘s warm,” he muttered.

John smiled. “Sherlock, are you lying in my residual body heat?”

Sherlock didn’t answer. John picked his phone up from the table and went back up to his bedroom. He didn’t realize he was still smiling until he caught his reflection in the mirror.

 

---

 

Something was blossoming between them. John suspected that it had been there for a long time, but just never had the chance to grow into life. When he found Sherlock curled up in his spot on the sofa, John began to realize that he wasn’t the only one feeling this way. The evidence of lingering glances and appreciative looks was getting hard to ignore.

The night after what John privately referred to as “the sofa moment,” they were sitting in their chairs opposite one another, each absorbed in a book. Sherlock had moved the chairs far enough apart that they could both be sitting in their respective spots and still be abiding by the rules of the experiment. They had been reading quietly across from each other for about an hour. John’s mind started to wander away from the banal bestseller in his hands. He kept his head down, but his eyes glanced up at Sherlock.

Sherlock was curled in his chair with his legs drawn up in front of him. One hand was mindlessly twirling at his hair, the other holding the book in place on his knees. His brow was furrowed in concentration, his eyes darting quickly from line to line.

John couldn’t help but look down at Sherlock’s mouth. He had never seen anyone with that particular shape to their lips. John had never been attracted to someone’s philtrum before meeting Sherlock, but the cupid’s bow made it possible. He thought about what it would be like to touch one finger to that tiny dip. Then to kiss it. Maybe take that top lip between his teeth. Nibble at it, and then soothe it with his tongue.

John looked up when he noticed the corners of Sherlock’s mouth twitching. Sherlock was watching him with amusement in his eyes. John willed away a blush, then looked back down at his book. He read the same paragraph twice without taking anything in, then glanced up to find that Sherlock was still looking at him. He caught Sherlock’s eyes for just a moment and pursed his lips to suppress whatever giddy facial expression was threatening to take over his face.

 

---

 

The next morning, John caught Sherlock staring at him twice. John had already dressed for work, and had the sleeves of his blue button-down shirt rolled up to his elbows as he prepared breakfast. He looked up from the kitchen table to find that Sherlock was standing in the entryway, sipping coffee and gazing at his arms. He walked over to the refrigerator, turned back around, and saw that Sherlock's gaze had dipped below waist-level. His head was tilted to the side, his eyebrows slightly raised. John almost laughed. Sherlock casually looked away without the slightest hint of guilt. He put down his coffee, retrieved his phone from between the sofa cushions, and waltzed out the door, saying something about experiments and St. Bart's.

John took a long sip of tea, trying to get over the fact that his previously-unattainable flatmate had been unapologetically staring at his arse. He set the mug down on the table without looking. It promptly toppled over the uneven surface of Petri dishes and microscope slides, spilling onto a stack of journal articles.

“Fuck,” John swore. He grabbed a dishtowel and tried to sop up the mess, shifting the stack of papers out of the spill. At the bottom of the pile, buried, but not hidden, was Sherlock’s notebook. John frowned at it. Sherlock had become lax on their evening note taking. He didn’t seem to be taking notes as often as he had before, and he had stopped sharing them with John altogether. Most of the time, he kept the notebook hidden away in his bedroom. John couldn’t resist. He wiped tea off the edge of the binding and flipped it open.

observations 15/8/12 - day fifteen

- one-metre rule still irritating
- should probably stop tossing fragile things - broke two glasses today
- JW slept fitfully last night - wanted to give him brief touch on shoulder this morning, but was unable
- find myself looking at his arms too often, especially when bare - muscle shape is quite pleasing

observations 16/8/12 - day sixteen

- wanted to go to Angelo’s with JW, but was unable, as close seating would break one-metre rule
- found myself thinking about texture of JW’s hair - had no practical reason to think of this
- want to touch hair to verify texture hypothesis - have no previous data

John turned to the most recent page. So far, there were only two notations.

observations 17/8/12 - day seventeen

- worse than usual
- can’t stop thinking of him

John closed the notebook and stared at it, trying to collect his thoughts. He didn’t have very much time before the downstairs door burst open again, and Sherlock’s angry footsteps started ascending the staircase. John shoved the notebook back into place before Sherlock came in through the door in a fury.

“Well there goes an entire day’s worth of potential findings. Molly just texted me to say that some damned imbecile of a medical student binned my fingers. Binned them, John! If she had just read the label on—” He paused in the kitchen entryway, looking at John, sharply.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “You want to say something. What do you want to say?”

John shook his head. “Sherlock...” he started. “Just...what is the point of this experiment?”

Sherlock looked away. "What, the fingers? I had planned to test the strength of the fingerprints after subjecting them to—"

"Sherlock."

Sherlock looked back at John with hesitation. "It's the same as any of my experiments. To learn. To gain knowledge. "

“Well...yes, but this...touching thing. It has nothing to do with a case.” John paused, the room completely silent between them. “Sherlock, this is...What is this?”

His heart beat four times before Sherlock spoke.

“Did you look at my notebook?”

“I did.”

“So you saw this morning’s data.”

“I did. And Sherlock, I...I can’t stop thinking of you, either.”

John smiled, but Sherlock gave him a careful and hesitant look.

"Well that's to be expected, with the nature of the experiment."

"It's to be expected that I want to touch you all the time? That I think about what your skin feels like? That I spent most of last night thinking about your lips?”

The room was silent. John's heartbeat thundered in his ears. Finally, Sherlock chuckled, softly.

“I may have had a second hypothesis that I didn’t tell you about.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Sherlock grinned at his own joke.

Any nervousness that John was feeling melted away. He shook his head with a smile. “I think it’s impossible to be any more fond of you than I already am,” he said. “Most of the time, anyway. Not when you’re acting like a berk. Or complaining about binned fingers.” He tossed the damp dishtowel at Sherlock, who caught it before it hit his face. John turned around to put his empty mug in the sink. When he looked back, Sherlock was staring at him.

"What?" he asked.

Sherlock shook his head, his gaze focused. "Nothing. I'm just trying very hard not to invalidate my results.”

John’s eyes softened, and he smiled. “Can’t we slip up once? Would it really hurt? If I were to kiss you right now, couldn’t you just kiss me back and strike today from the record?” At first, Sherlock didn’t respond, and John began to worry that by voicing his desires, he had taken things a bit too far. Then Sherlock stepped forward to lean on the other side of the table. He looked at John with an intensity that quickly chased away all of John's worries.

“I think you overestimate my self-control,” he said, his voice a quiet, low rumble. John swallowed.

They stayed where they were, looking at each other from across the room, still as statues. When Sherlock started walking toward John, John took a few steps backward, almost instinctually. Sherlock held out a hand to still him, and shook his head.

“I think we need to renegotiate the parameters of the experiment.” He walked right up to John until he was invading his personal space. He looked down at the top of John’s head as John stared stock-still at the bit of bare collarbone exposed by the two open buttons at the top of his shirt.

“I propose...” said Sherlock. His voice was a velvet purr. “That as long as we aren’t touching, we are still following the rules.” He lifted a hand and moved as if to cup the side of John’s face, but stopped just short of touching John’s skin. John looked up, his lips parted. He could feel the warmth resonating from Sherlock’s palm.

"No more one-metre rule?"

"No more one-metre rule."

"Are we defining touch as skin-to-skin contact, or do clothes count?"

"Clothes count. Otherwise...there would be next to nothing stopping us from doing anything we wanted." Sherlock’s eyes were suddenly focused on John’s lips.

John shook his head slightly. “Sherlock, are you trying to sexually frustrate me? Because if you are, it’s working, and you really didn’t need any practice, because you’ve been an expert at that for a while now.”

Sherlock smiled and moved his hand, tracing over the planes of John’s face with his fingertips, but never once touching him.

“Think of it like...” his fingertips stopped right over John’s lips. “Think of it like orgasm denial.”

John’s eyes widened. “Orgasm denial?”

Sherlock met his eyes and nodded, dropping his hand back down to his side. “Holding off over and over makes the...climax even more enjoyable.”

“Are you saying we’re going to have an enjoyable climax at the end of the month?”

Sherlock grinned, his eyes glinting. He briskly turned around and flopped down onto the sofa.

“Sherlock?”

“Two more weeks, John. Just two more weeks.”

 

---

 

It was twenty days into the month, and John's longing had become intense and heated. Every day he would notice something new: the way Sherlock’s hair fell just above his eyes, the way his pupils would dilate when he came near John, how his skin was ghostly pale compared to the golden glow of John’s own. There was a phantom feeling in John’s fingertips whenever he looked at Sherlock. When he caught Sherlock looking back at him, clenching one fist surreptitiously, he realized that the tension was mutual. They both knew it.

On a Friday afternoon, Sherlock came back to the flat with a bag of groceries and a carton of milk. John was sitting in his chair reading the newspaper, and did a double-take when Sherlock walked in.

"You...don't tell me you did the shopping?" he asked, hesitantly.

Sherlock scoffed. "Don't be an idiot, John. I needed apples. For an experiment."

"Another experiment? Aren't you up to your ears in experiments by now?" Sherlock shrugged and dropped the grocery bag full of apples on the sofa. He took the milk into the kitchen.

"And the milk?" asked John. "Is that for your experiment or can I actually drink it without worrying about what you've mixed in?"

“Mixed in?” asked Sherlock. “Did you drink the last carton?”

“I was about to,” said John. “But something about it tasted not quite right. So I spat it out. Kind of astonished that you’re replacing it.”

Sherlock shoved the milk into the refrigerator next to a plastic bag of animal bones and glared at John.

"I am perfectly capable of purchasing milk. I've done it before and yet every time it happens, you're stunned." He went back to the sofa and tore open a bag of apples with more force than was needed.

John smiled. "I'm not stunned, just pleasantly surprised. I might have to reward you."

"Reward me?"

"Mmm." John looked back at his newspaper, then folded it up and put it on the side table next to him.

"What kind of reward did you have in mind?"

John shrugged. "I'll tell you at the end of the month."

Sherlock threw an apple in John’s direction, falling short by half a metre. It rolled underneath John’s chair, harmlessly.

John snickered. “Nice throw. You’d best pick that up, or else it’s going to rot down there.”

“You pick it up,” Sherlock grumbled.

“Oh no. You threw it, so it’s your responsibility.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes, but stood up, stomping across the room to stand in front of John’s chair. John looked at him, one eyebrow raised. He waved a hand at the bottom of the chair in invitation. He was highly amused by the situation...until the moment that Sherlock dropped to his knees in front of him. Suddenly it was as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Sherlock braced one hand on the bit of chair between John’s legs, and John felt his cock twitch. He watched with growing nervousness as Sherlock ducked his head low and pulled out the apple.

“Really, John, it’s right here. It’s just a waste of kinetic energy to make me come from across the room to—” Sherlock sat back up to find John looking at him with wide, surprised eyes. When they made eye contact, John’s legs subconsciously fell open just a centimetre more. Sherlock licked his lips.

“Um...” His gaze drifted from John’s eyes, down his neck and chest. John’s breath hitched. Sherlock lifted a hand and moved to touch John’s thigh, but John pulled away, opening his legs wider in the process.

“The experiment,” he said, his voice rough. Sherlock drew his hand back and looked up at John’s eyes. They were dark. He calmly pushed himself up into a standing position.

“How many more days 'til it ends?” John asked.

"A week and a half.”

"Fuck," John grunted, his head falling back on the chair. "I hate science." He waited for Sherlock to turn around before he adjusted himself in his trousers.

 

---

 

After the incident with the apple, John and Sherlock exchanged heated glances multiple times per day. Little things seemed to matter an awful lot to them. Even mundane, everyday things, like Sherlock going barefoot or John lifting a heavy box, had the potential to be arousing. It was as if they started looking for ways to taunt each other. They both knew, and had known for some time, that the experiment was almost completely pointless. It didn’t make a difference. They both liked drawing out the anticipation, and they found the tension enjoyable.

Five days before the end of the experiment, John came down from his room at just before midnight to get a glass of water. Sherlock was curled up on the sofa in the sitting room, gazing in the direction of the window. He was lit by cold moonlight on one side and the warmth of a dim lamp on the other. He looked over and watched as John walked through the kitchen in a t-shirt and boxers. John swore the temperature rose by a few degrees. He paused on his way back to the hallway, then went into the sitting room instead and sat down in his chair, looking back at Sherlock without saying anything. He set his glass on the side table.

Sherlock leaned back on the sofa, stretching his legs out on the coffee table in front of him as if to put his body on display. John suppressed a groan, and Sherlock smirked.

"You're such a tease," muttered John. Somewhere in the distance was a low rumble of thunder. Rain started to gently patter on the roof.

"What would you do if you could touch me?" asked Sherlock, his voice quiet. He slid his hand under the hem of his t-shirt and traced lazy circles over the skin of his stomach.

John paused. "What?"

"Tell me what you would do. If you could touch me right now." Sherlock's eyes were dark and intense, raking over John's body from head to toe. John swallowed. His mouth felt dry.

"I'd kiss you—" he began.

“Must say, I wasn’t expecting such a chaste answer.”

John shook his head, his gaze turning into a mischievous grin. "I’m not done yet. First, I'd kiss you. I'd kiss you until you were weak in the knees. I'd kiss down your neck...head towards the bit of collarbone that I can see from here, slipping out from under your shirt." Sherlock raised one hand to stroke over the bit of skin that John was talking about. John shivered. “I'd take off your shirt...suck marks into your skin." Sherlock closed his eyes, and John shifted in his seat. "Your skin would be so soft under my fingertips. I'd caress you, taste you.” His voice broke off, and he took in a loud breath. "God, Sherlock. I want to know what you taste like. I want to smell your skin. I want to touch you...everywhere."

In one brisk movement, Sherlock stood up, crossing the room in a few quick steps to stand over John. John looked up at him, wide-eyed.

"The experiment," he said.

Sherlock shook his head. "I'm not going to touch you." He put one hand on each arm of the chair and leaned down to John's upturned face. His mouth hovered just above John's, but they didn't meet. John could feel Sherlock's breath against his lips. They held still for a few moments, then Sherlock turned. He huffed short little puffs of breath over John's cheek. John felt the warmth of his exhalations as if it were Sherlock's tongue on his skin. Sherlock left two breaths on John’s cheek, then trailed three down his neck. He drew back and looked at John’s face. John’s eyes were closed, his face the picture of anticipatory agony.

“Pull up the hem of your shirt,” Sherlock whispered. John’s eyes opened wide, but he did as he was told. Sherlock leaned down, closer. “You’re sucking in. Don’t be ridiculous.” John exhaled, trying to ignore the embarrassment on his face. Sherlock dipped his fingers in the glass of water on the table, then let the drops fall from his fingertips onto John’s stomach. He blew a breath from the middle of John’s torso down to the waistband of his boxers. John bit his lip and groaned. His hips moved involuntarily.

“Sherlock..."

Sherlock stood back up and sat in his chair across from John. He was breathing quickly but silently, looking slightly dishevelled even though he had barely moved. He gave a pointed look at John’s tented boxers, then palmed his own obvious erection over his pyjama bottoms, looking right at John as he did it. John's eyes widened, and his hand drifted down to cup himself.

"Oh, god" he muttered.

Sherlock slouched down in his chair and tilted his head back, dipping his hand into his pants. "Tell me, John. If I could...right now...would you let me suck you?"

John gave a tiny "nngh" from deep in his throat. He drew in a breath and squeezed himself gently.

"Yes," he answered, his voice rough. "God yes, I would.”

“I want to.”

Sherlock rolled his head to one side and looked down at John’s hand, rubbing methodically over his boxers.

For a minute, the room was completely silent, save for the pitter-patter of rain and the quiet huffing of breaths. The moonlight had disappeared with the rain clouds, leaving the room lit by only the dull glow of the lamp. John looked at Sherlock’s face to find that his eyes were distant, almost pained. He was lost in his own thoughts, his gaze directed at the centre of John’s chest, but looking at nothing in particular.

“I want to touch you so badly,” John said, his voice low and husky. “I’ve been wanting to touch you for weeks now. I can’t stand it.”

Sherlock’s eyes refocused, and he laughed, a dry humourless chuckle. “Weeks?” he asked. “John, I have been wanting you for over a year.”

John stilled, mild shock showing on his face. Sherlock turned away and took a deep breath, pulling his hand out of his pants and closing his eyes, knowing he had said too much.

“Over a year?” John repeated. “Sherlock, you’ve been—you’ve felt this way for over a year?”

Sherlock kept his face turned away from John. He chewed at his thumbnail and nodded his head.

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Why would I?” he asked, self-defensively. “You go on dates. With women. Often.”

John stared at him. “Sherlock, I’m sorry. If I had known—”

“If you had known, then what? What would you have done?” John looked down at the ground and didn’t answer. “Yes. Exactly.”

Rain pounded on the roof. Sherlock stood up abruptly, and with a flourish of his dressing gown, walked past John’s chair and went straight to his bedroom. John couldn’t hear the door slam over the sudden clap of thunder.

 

---

 

Sherlock left the flat early the next morning, before John woke. John wasn’t sure if he was glad or not. He fluttered about the kitchen restlessly before leaving for the clinic, then walked through the streets in a distracted daze. At work, he found it incredibly hard to focus. He kept asking patients to repeat themselves. Just as he was about to take his lunch break, his phone vibrated in his pocket. He looked at the screen and held his breath, seeing that it was Sherlock.

28 Aug
11:58
It has come to my attention that although I do not mind performing experiments on you, I would rather not have you perform them on me. I need to know if this is going to end on 1 Sept. SH

28 Aug
12:00
you’re not an experiment

28 Aug
12:01
Do not lie to me. SH

28 Aug
12:03
i won’t lie to you. and that’s why i won’t say that i’ve been wanting this for as long as you have. but your experiment can’t make feelings appear out of nowhere. my feelings for you aren’t going to magically disappear on 1 sept

28 Aug
12:10
And what are these “feelings,” exactly? SH

28 Aug
12:11
attraction

28 Aug
12:11
desire

28 Aug
12:11
curiosity

28 Aug
12:11
i think we’ve already discussed fondness

28 Aug
12:12
did i already say attraction, because god, you are too beautiful

28 Aug
12:13
My corpse is here, I have to go. I’ll see you at home. SH

28 Aug
12:14
tactical retreat?

28 Aug
12:14
alright. see you later.

When John arrived home that evening, Sherlock was standing in front of the window playing his violin. He didn’t look up when John entered, but John noticed that the kitchen table had been cleared off and his favourite Indian dish was lying there, still hot. He made himself a plate and sat down to listen to Sherlock play. Sherlock turned to meet John’s eyes as the piece ended, then he set down the violin and stole a bite of chicken from John’s plate. When John smiled at him, Sherlock smiled back.

 

---

 

It was the final day of the experiment, and John couldn’t be happier. He felt like he had been on edge for weeks. He was pretty sure he had never been so aroused so many times within a one-month period.

John was making breakfast in the kitchen when he heard the shower turn off, and the hallway door open. Footsteps pattered down the hall, and Sherlock peeked around the corner, dripping wet and wearing only a towel around his waist.

“Are you making eggs?” he asked, tilting his hips to the side in a clearly intentional way. John stared at him and didn’t say anything.

“Because if you are, I would like some. In fact, I’ll have three meals today, in order to keep up my energy.” John started walking toward him, and Sherlock backed up, slowly, until he was pressed against the wall. “I think having energy might be important. For activities. Later. That I am anticipating.” He bit his lip to suppress a grin as John stood in front of him, bracing his arms on either side of Sherlock’s head, and leaning in so that his mouth hovered over Sherlock’s throat. Sherlock tilted his head back against the wall and looked down at John with hooded eyes. John stayed where he was, his hot breath tickling Sherlock’s Adam’s apple.

“I’ll make you some breakfast,” said John, softly. The corner of his cardigan fell forward, just brushing Sherlock’s hip. Sherlock jerked back against the wall as if he had been stung. John smiled, and went to the stove to finish cooking.

 

---

 

The day went by much faster than John suspected it would. He had anticipated a day full of half-hard longing and constant checking of his watch, but it turned out he had a busy 8-hour day at the clinic, which helped to get his mind off things. Patients shuffled in and out of appointments, everything routine, but not boring. On his way home, he picked up takeaway and arrived at the flat just ten minutes before Sherlock got back from St. Bart’s.

Keeping to his word, Sherlock ate dinner that night, and they both enjoyed an almost completely silent meal, sitting across from each other at the table and exchanging glances and secretive smiles. John became suddenly enraptured by the rhythms of Sherlock’s throat as he tilted his head back to empty his glass. When he caught John staring, he picked up his fork and trailed the handle down the length of John’s arm, from inner elbow to wrist. The metal was cool on John’s skin, though not cool enough to warrant the shiver that rolled down his spine.

 

---

 

Time seemed to slow down as it got closer to midnight. Sherlock paced. John tried to read a book, but found that he kept gazing right through the pages. They tried to watch the news, but that only lasted a half-hour. At 11pm, they sat down across from each other on the sofa. Sherlock set a timer on his phone, and they watched the bold green numbers begin to count down.

With forty-five minutes to go, they tried to discuss how their days had been. At the half-hour mark, John found himself staring at Sherlock’s ankles. At ten minutes, Sherlock repositioned himself on the sofa four times, until John threw a pillow at him. At five minutes, they sat cross-legged in front of each other, and made awkward small talk about the weather.

With only two minutes left, they sat still and silent, the phone resting on the sofa cushion between them. Desire was written plainly on both of their faces.

“What’s the first thing you want to do when that counter hits zero?” asked John. Sherlock’s gaze flashed down to his lips. “Well yes,” John smiled. “We’ve already established that kissing will definitely happen. But tell me what else you want.”

Sherlock’s eyes roamed over John’s face. “I want to know what kind of sounds you make when I touch you. I want to know the difference in tone between my hand on your chest and my hand on your thigh.”

“You going to log that in your notebook?” asked John.

Sherlock nodded, solemnly. “I could fill a dozen notebooks cataloguing your reactions. I could fill a hundred with information about you. A thousand or more over a lifetime.”

John pursed his lips, his throat suddenly feeling tight. He glanced down at the phone. One minute, twenty seconds.

“I want to kiss you right now,” he said, quietly.

“I know.”

John’s gaze drifted down over Sherlock’s body.

“That’s not all I want to do.”

“Oh?” Sherlock smirked and leaned in closer. John looked at the phone. One minute, ten seconds. “Tell me what you want to do.”

“I think you know."

“Say it.”

“I want to fuck you.”

Sherlock sucked in a sharp breath. One minute now.

“Once that alarm goes off, I'm going to push you down backwards on the sofa and I'm going to fuck you."

“John.” Sherlock’s fingers were digging hard into the sofa cushion.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment, Sherlock. Didn't you compare this experiment to orgasm denial? Because I distinctly recall something about climax."

“John...” Sherlock’s breaths were getting shorter. They had forty seconds. He placed a hand on the sofa between them. John put his own hand down across from it so that their fingertips were barely a centimetre away. He imagined little electrical sparks dancing between them.

“Do you want me to fuck you on this sofa?” asked John.

“I want you to fuck me over every surface in this flat.”

Thirty seconds.

“You could catalogue my reactions on each one. Do you think they’d be different?”

“We'll have plenty of time to find out.”

Twenty.

“I’m glad you don’t bruise easily, because I’m probably going to pounce on you when that counter hits zero.”

“That’s alright. You’re a doctor. You can make it all better afterward.”

Ten. Nine.

They were leaning in closer. John could feel Sherlock’s breath on his lips.

Eight. Seven.

“Would you consider the experiment a success?”

Six. Five.

“I’ve never had better results in my life. And I think they’re about to improve further.”

Four. Three. Two.

“Sherlock...”

One.

John barely had time to take a breath before Sherlock clutched the sides of his face in both hands and pulled him forward. Their mouths came together with desperation; their kiss like a series of waves crashing against the cliffside. Sherlock ran his fingers over John's jaw as if to memorize it. John tangled one hand in Sherlock's shirt, the other clutching his arm to hold him solidly in place. The phone alarm was still buzzing between them.

Sherlock drew back to breathe, his lips red and swollen already. He tapped the phone to silence it and tossed it aside on the coffee table. One hand was still stroking at John's cheek. He looked back at John, whose eyes were wide, surprised, and all pupil. They both chuckled and dipped forward again. Sherlock took tiny nips at John’s lower lip until John cupped his face in one hand and tilted him. They fit together perfectly. John tentatively licked at Sherlock’s lips until they parted. He sucked a breath through his nose and tasted Sherlock’s palate. Sherlock hummed in approval. John was so pleased that he pulled away to laugh. He looked down to see that his hand was absent-mindedly caressing Sherlock’s leg. He hadn’t even realized he had moved it. He looked up at Sherlock, who was watching him closely, still running a thumb over his cheek. John leaned into the contact.

“You’re never going to stop touching me now, are you?” he asked.

Sherlock didn’t answer, just moved his hand to cup the crown of John's head and leaned backwards, pulling John down to lie on top of him. John buried his nose in Sherlock’s neck. Sherlock smelled better than he had imagined. A bit of expensive shampoo from that morning’s shower, spices from dinner, something sweet and smoky like a cedar fire.

Sherlock ran his hands across John’s back over and over, in the same repetitive motion, as if he couldn’t touch John enough. His fingers were constantly moving, feeling for bumps and scars even over John’s button-down shirt. One hand slid over the scar on his left shoulder, and paused, circling it as if to memorize the shape. John tensed.

“I want to see it,” Sherlock murmured, in the gentlest voice John had ever heard him use.

“You’ve seen it before.”

“You know what I mean.”

Sherlock’s fingers continued to circle over John’s shoulder. John sat up astride Sherlock’s hips to unbutton his shirt and toss it over the side of the sofa. He felt goose pimples rise on his arms. Sherlock reached for him with both hands, cupping one over the back of his shoulder and tracing the front with the other. John avoided his eyes.

“Come here.” Sherlock leaned up, meeting John halfway so that he could run his tongue over the entry wound. John closed his eyes and took a sharp breath.

“You are so very not boring,” said Sherlock. John smiled. The tension he hadn’t realized he’d been holding slipped away from his muscles. “Also...I think you should cut back on the tea. Your skin tastes faintly of it.”

John laughed. “You’re making that up.”

“Would I do that?” Sherlock purred. He ran his hands down John’s neck and shoulders, fingertips fluttering over the sensitive skin on the underside of John’s arms. He closed his eyes and took John’s left bicep with both hands, his fingers gently pressing into the skin, searching for muscles.

“What are you doing?” asked John, feeling somewhere between amused and aroused.

“Studying you.”

Sherlock traced over the wrinkles of John’s elbow, prodding for the joint underneath his skin. He turned John’s arm back and forth with one hand and felt the shifting of his forearm with the other.

“Why are your eyes closed?”

“The absence of one sense strengthens the others. I haven’t touched you in an entire month. Now that I can, I would like to do it properly.” Sherlock opened his eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re not enjoying it. I have proof that you are, and it’s currently pressing against my stomach.” John pulled his hand away to playfully smack Sherlock upside the head. Sherlock grinned and caught his hand.

“I’m not done,” he said. He rubbed his thumbs over the inside of John’s wrist. “I like your tendons.” John was pretty sure he had never heard a stranger compliment, but he very nearly blushed. “You pleasure yourself with this hand.”

“Well it is my dominant hand.”

“Mmm.” Sherlock worried at John’s palm with one thumb. He caught John’s eyes. “I’d like to watch you.”

This time, John did blush. “In time,” he said. He pulled his hand away and tugged Sherlock’s t-shirt up over his head.

Sherlock’s skin was not flawless. He had a freckle almost directly under his right nipple. He had a series of small linear scars over his sixth and seventh ribs. There was a fading bruise on his left side that John didn’t know the origin of. He ran gentle fingertips over it, then shifted lower so he could lean forward and press his nose to Sherlock’s stomach. Sherlock tensed when he felt John’s tongue on his skin.

“Varicella,” he said, with a slight gasp.

John looked up. “What?”

“Varicella zoster virus. When I was seven. I wouldn’t stop scratching, so I have some scarring. You just put your tongue on cluster 3A.”

John held back a laugh. “You’ve numbered your chickenpox scars?” Sherlock shrugged as if it was the only reasonable thing to do. John found this extremely endearing. He kissed and bit and sucked at cluster 3A until Sherlock was squirming beneath him.

“Ah. Can’t see it anymore,” he said.

Sherlock’s face was flushed. “Switch positions, and take off your trousers,” he said huskily, rolling over to the side. “I’m not done studying you.”

Sitting over John's hips, Sherlock closed his eyes again and placed his hands on John’s collarbone. He smoothed them down, counting off ribs under his breath.

“Are they all there?” John joked. Sherlock didn’t answer, but moved both hands back up to trace over one rib in particular.

“When did you break this?” he asked.

John smiled, seeing the smallest hint of concern in a wrinkle on Sherlock’s forehead. “A long time ago,” he said. He put one hand over both of Sherlock’s. “At uni, during a rugby match.”

Sherlock opened his eyes so he could narrow them and sneer, theatrically. “Have I ever told you how much I hate that barbaric sport?” he asked.

John laughed. “I was quite good at it,” he said. “And I bet you would have liked seeing me in my rugby kit.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes, but smiled. His eyes lost focus for a moment as if he were imagining it, then he slid his hands down lower, his fingers prodding at John’s belly. “Clearly wouldn’t fit anymore. You’ve gained seven and a half pounds in the last few months alone.”

“Seven,” John corrected with a frown. “Not normally the kind of thing you bring up when trying to get off with someone, but alright.”

“I like it.” Sherlock grinned and shifted up a bit so that their hips were aligned. John could easily feel Sherlock’s cock through his thin pyjama bottoms. He was only half-hard, and John suddenly felt embarrassed at how eager he must seem in comparison. Sherlock must have noticed, because he dug his nails into John’s skin, making him gasp and arch his back. He ground against John, then lifted up to yank John’s boxers off in a series of quick, awkwardly jerky movements. They were flung at the bottom of the sofa, where John squashed them with his feet. Sherlock dragged his eyes up from John’s cock excruciatingly slowly.

John swallowed, hard. “I want you,” he said. His soft voice betrayed an underlying hint of strain. He looked up at Sherlock with heavy eyes, then wordlessly took Sherlock’s hand and squeezed it gently. He guided it down his sternum, feeling Sherlock getting harder as he followed their hands with his eyes. John caught his breath as Sherlock’s hand slid out from underneath his own to grip his cock. He stroked with a warm fist and sweaty palm, then looked back up to catch John’s eyes. He licked his lips slowly and decidedly, then shifted down further until he was kneeling between John’s legs. John gave a short cry when he found himself engulfed in the warmth of Sherlock’s mouth. He watched Sherlock’s head bob between his legs four times before pulling back with an apologetic expression.

“If I fellate you on this sofa my legs are going to cramp.”

John made a sound that was half whine, half laugh. “Remember the other night? When I called you a tease?”

Sherlock grinned and leaned back down again, sucking John strongly enough that his cheeks hollowed. John gazed at Sherlock’s face and bit his lip so hard he tasted blood.

“Fucking cheekbones,” he muttered, breathlessly. Sherlock pulled off again, and John swore loudly.

“This is so physically uncomfortable. My back is beginning to hurt already.” Sherlock ran his fingers along John’s inner thigh as John closed his eyes in a combination of exasperation and lust. “But I don’t want you to come like this. I haven’t touched you nearly enough to make up for an entire month.” He stood up and tugged his pyjama bottoms off his hips, taking far longer than he needed. He wasn't wearing anything underneath.

John was about to speak when Sherlock knelt back down and smothered John’s mouth with his own. He laid down between John’s legs so that their hips were aligned. John gasped at the friction of Sherlock’s cock against his own.

“I want your legs around me,” Sherlock said. “I want to touch as much of you as I possibly can.” One hand roamed down John’s side, gripping his thigh to pull them closer together. John wrapped his legs around Sherlock and arched his back as Sherlock rutted against him.

“You feel...so perfect,” John whispered. Due to their height difference, his face was mashed into Sherlock’s neck. He didn’t mind in the slightest. His nails scratched across Sherlock’s shoulder blades as Sherlock pressed kiss after kiss to his temple. John was breathing so hard he was beginning to feel dizzy. The smell of sweat and sex swirled around the room, and the temperature was becoming unbearable. He felt his skin sticking to the leather sofa.

When he felt his cock slip out of alignment with Sherlock’s, John reached down and took both of them in one hand. Sherlock gave a tiny whimper at his touch. Their bodies slid against each other, smearing precome as Sherlock rocked forward and back. Sherlock took John's free hand and pinned it above their heads, pressing his face to the side and breathing against John's bicep.

“God, Sherlock...I want to feel your skin against mine...every fucking day...for the rest of my life.”

Sherlock gave another whimper and a few hard thrusts. He bit the side of John's arm as he came. John squeezed his eyes shut and tried to decipher the whispers that Sherlock breathed into his ear. He knew he would be treasuring the bite mark for days.

Sherlock slumped as all the energy left his body. John’s hand was still trapped between them, wrapped around Sherlock’s softening cock and his own agonizingly hard one. His fingertips twitched with the need to stroke himself.

Sherlock lifted his head and kissed the bite mark he had left. He slid a hand down John's neck and squeezed his shoulder as he shifted backwards. All worries about cramped legs and back pain seemed to have disappeared. Knowing John was far beyond teasing, he didn't hesitate to take as much of John's cock into his mouth as he could. It was only a matter of seconds before John’s vision began to get fuzzy around the edges. He tugged at Sherlock’s hair in warning, but Sherlock didn’t pull away, just looked up at him, and gave him a strong suck. The mere thought of coming in Sherlock’s mouth was too much. John moaned a string of obscenities mixed with Sherlock’s name, and he felt Sherlock swallowing his release. Sherlock licked his lips as he sat up. He used his t-shirt to clean the mess off their bodies before laying down on top of John as if he were a human blanket.

The air felt thick, heavy, and sweet. John relished the sight of Sherlock's skin glowing in the moonlight. He saw a vaguely heart-shaped burn scar on Sherlock's back, right below the nail marks that he had left. He touched it, and Sherlock stirred.

“I think I got ejaculate on the sofa."

John laughed and held him closer. “Well, it’s leather, it’ll clean up easily.” He closed his eyes, tracing Sherlock’s vertebrae with one hand. “So there shouldn’t be any problem if you were to do it again.”

Sherlock lifted his head up to look at John’s face. “Again?”

“Mmm.”

He stared at John for a few long moments. John’s lips tugged into the hint of a smile, but he didn’t open his eyes.

Sherlock laid his head back down. “Next time you should fuck me like you said you would. And we should do it on a bed. It’ll be more comfortable. More room. My legs won’t cramp.”

“Alright. That’s very practical of you.”

John had almost fallen asleep when Sherlock spoke again.

“I wonder...If you switched to drinking solely green tea for a number of months, would your skin take on that taste instead?”

John opened his eyes. “I do not taste like tea. You’re making that up.”

“How would you know? Your opinion is inherently biased.”

“People do not take on the taste of the things that they eat. And I don’t drink an abnormal amount of tea. No more than any other English person.”

Sherlock licked at John’s skin, then looked up at him with an overly exaggerated thoughtful expression.

“No...” he said. “You definitely taste like P.G. Tips.”

“You’re teasing.”

Sherlock grinned and laid his head back down. “Even if I am...I’d like to do an experiment on this. It requires you to drink copious amounts of tea and me to taste you every day and note the changes.”

“I still don’t believe you, but I don’t think I’d mind that.”

“I could have a spreadsheet with separate columns: one for the taste of your skin, one for the taste of your saliva...one for the taste of your ejaculate.”

“Stop saying ‘ejaculate,’ you sound like a sex education teacher.”

“Nonetheless...Are you agreeable to another experiment?”

“Only if I can touch you this time.”

“Of course.”

“Deal.”

They fell asleep like that, sandwiched together on the sofa, John enjoying the feeling of Sherlock’s breath on his skin, Sherlock enjoying the warmth of John’s body beneath him. John woke up once during the night, momentarily confused as to where he was, until he heard Sherlock’s gentle snoring on top of him. He smiled and took a blanket out from underneath the sofa to cover them. When he woke up again, it was morning, and Sherlock was sitting at the end of the sofa with John’s feet in his lap. He was balancing his laptop on his knees, working on creating a spreadsheet. There was a steaming mug of green tea on the coffee table.

“Don’t drink it yet,” said Sherlock. “I need data for the control.” He put down the laptop and crawled over John. John pulled the blanket up over their heads. Sherlock started collecting data.