When they returned to 221B, John was so angry, his hand shook as he reached for the teakettle. He tried twice to fill it before telling the inanimate object to “Bugger off.” He then fell into his chair and leaned his forehead against his hand.
Sherlock, meanwhile, hadn’t moved from the doorway.
John felt the detective watching him. He said, “What is it, Sherlock?”
“You’re upset.” John heard the familiar sound of Sherlock removing his coat. “Do you know why?”
“Do I know why?” He sighed when he realized he was shouting. “Maybe,” he hissed, “it’s because my idiot flat mate doesn’t know how to keep himself alive. Hmm?”
“I’m quite obviously alive, John.”
He lifted his head and pointed at Sherlock but didn’t even need to tell him to shut up. They’d lived together for almost a year by then, so Sherlock knew when John wanted him to shut up.
John closed his eyes, but his usual method of ignoring Sherlock (deep breathing and a moment of darkness) didn’t work its usual magic. Instead, John was back in the warehouse, searching for Sherlock, who had, of course, run off ahead of him after a murderer.
In the warehouse, John felt the gun in his hand and panic in his chest. Up ahead, he heard a raised voice, which he was careful to move toward. The rest of the warehouse seemed empty of human presence, except for where he could see a sliver of light ten feet in front of him.
He peered into the light and saw Sherlock on his knees, leather-gloved hands in the air as a man in a long trench coat with a thick beard circled him. The man was their psychopath—a real estate mogul who just happened to like killing hookers on the side.
John watched as the man ranted at Sherlock, ranted about the injustice of it. (“Who would miss a couple dead hookers?”) Sherlock looked ready to spout some annoying observation, but John noticed, he also looked ruffled, as if their killer had gotten the drop on him: hair a mess, shirt half untucked, and breathing a bit heavier than usual.
“Will anyone miss you?” the crazy man muttered as he turned the gun on Sherlock and pressed it against the back of his head.
Sherlock blinked once and seemed to hold his breath.
Then, John shot and took the bearded murderer down with a bullet to the head. He ran to Sherlock, who still had his hands up as if still expecting to be dead. He only noticed John when he pulled Sherlock to his feet and did something completely irrational: he hugged him, hard.
Sherlock didn’t hug back. No matter since John had no idea why he was hugging Sherlock in the first place. His body was stone to the touch but warm. His smell was familiar, of black tea and some elegant cologne, forever trapped in the fabric corners of Sherlock’s Belstaff.
John squeezed tighter, forcing an exhale from his flat mate, until he found it, there, the feel of Sherlock’s heartbeat against his chest.
“John.” The sound of Sherlock’s voice brought him back to Baker Street.
He opened his eyes and found the consulting detective kneeling by the side of his chair with one long-fingered hand over his. John moved to pull his hand away, but Sherlock wouldn’t let go.
“Do you know why you’re upset?” he said.
John took a long breath in and out. “You almost died.”
Sherlock bowed his head ever so slightly. “I know.”
John took another breath, but it didn’t do to soothe his beating heart.
“John. I believe that over the course of our months together, you’ve become very possessive of me. Is that true?”
John pulled his hand away, but Sherlock remained where he was, kneeling so close, his shoulder almost brushed John’s knee.
“It’s only natural, within the dangerous circumstances we often find ourselves, for two people to become attached.”
“I’m not gay, Sherlock.”
“No—which is why you’re upset.”
John clenched his fists on the arms of his chair. “I’m upset because you are reckless and almost got yourself killed.”
“You’re upset,” Sherlock over-annunciated the T, “because you are confused about your reaction to me almost getting killed.”
Sherlock gave him that look he gave whenever anyone said something stupid, which John, embarrassingly, always found oddly endearing. “John, really, your embrace nearly broke my ribs.”
“It was nothing,” John muttered, although he could still smell Sherlock’s cologne in his nose.
“It wasn’t nothing, and if we both admit to a mutual appreciation of each other, we can move forward and you can stop being upset.”
John studied Sherlock from beneath lowered brows and felt like he might laugh with the delicate vagueness of the detective’s word choice. “Mutual appreciation?”
Sherlock leaned back on his heels but remained on his knees. “I don’t mind your touch.”
John sighed. “I’m not gay, Sherlock, and you are married to the work.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Certainly, I am married to the work, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally have a mistress.”
John gawked. “Am I the bloody mistress in this idiotic metaphor?”
His flat mate looked irritated, perhaps stripped of the right words, but only momentarily. His light blue eyes stared up at John. “I know I seem cold and detached from human emotion, John, but I do so for the work. If I were to become emotionally involved in a case, the work would suffer. That does not mean …” He paused and looked away. “That does not mean I am cold and detached always. I would be destroyed if I lost you, and I would die for you.”
“I am led to believe you return these feelings, due to your earlier outburst of sentiment, which—”
John held up his hand. “Shut up, Sherlock. Just shut up.” He covered his own face with his hands and rubbed his eyes, knowing, of course, his flat mate was right.
John would be destroyed if he lost Sherlock. He would die for Sherlock in an instant and all this, after less than a year of knowing the man. So did they have a mutual appreciation? God, was that what John would call his feelings for the annoyingly beautiful, brilliant prat Sherlock Holmes?
No, he supposed not. He didn’t merely appreciate Sherlock’s brilliance on a case. He didn’t merely appreciate the way he played violin in the morning. And no, John didn’t merely appreciate the way his flat mate looked in a suit.
He kept up the mantra in his head: You’re not gay. You’re not gay.
Sherlock’s hand touched John’s knee as he stood and said, “I’ll make tea,” but before he could vacate the vicinity of John’s chair, John opened his eyes and wrapped his fingers around Sherlock’s thin wrist. He stared straight ahead as he absent-mindedly rubbed his thumb across the soft skin there.
He pulled himself up using Sherlock’s arm as ballast, which made Sherlock tip over slightly, which put him at just the right height for John to kiss him—and Sherlock kissed back, well and hard and held to the back of John’s head with his free hand.
With shocking clarity, John realized Sherlock was as good at kissing as he was at solving crimes. The whole “you’re not gay” thing fell to the floor like a useless piece of torn paper as John wondered how many “mistresses” Sherlock had taken over the years.
Sherlock pulled his wrist free from John’s fingers and put his hand on John’s lower back, fusing their bodies together. The absence of breasts made itself pretty obvious in that moment, which made John take pause and tilt his head down, breaking their kiss.
Sherlock’s forehead still rested against his, and one of those damn gorgeous hands came up to touch John’s face. “John?” His voice sounded even deeper than usual.
“I don’t know if I can …”
“It’s all right.” Sherlock kissed his forehead and stepped away. “Tea.” He walked to the kitchen the way he walked everywhere—a mix between Fred Astaire and a battering ram.
John remained in their mutual sitting room with his hands on his hips. His mouth felt wet, but he didn’t wipe the dampness away. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Sherlock remove his black suit coat and get to work on the kettle.
Okay, so Sherlock Holmes didn’t have breasts. He also didn’t have another piece of anatomy John Watson usually considered pretty important. However, he was, unaccountably, the most beautiful man John had ever seen. Although John was loath to admit it, just that one kiss had told him something else, as well: Sherlock would be an excellent lover, the realization of which made John’s pants feel much too tight.
Maybe if he just … Well, Sherlock loved experiments, didn’t he?
John walked into the kitchen and found Sherlock facing the stove. John pressed his front against Sherlock’s back and noticed Sherlock didn’t seem surprised at all. He leaned back against John, doing his best to rest his head on John’s shoulder, although the difference in height made that somewhat difficult.
John kissed the side of Sherlock’s neck and let his hands roam across a flat abdomen, over angular hips, then up to his thin, muscular chest. Right, so Sherlock felt nothing like a woman.
“While you’re doing this tactile experiment, John, I should tell you I also don’t have the sexual equipment you’re accustomed to.”
John laughed into Sherlock’s hair. Of course the brilliant detective would know exactly what John was thinking.
When the teakettle screamed, Sherlock lifted his head from John’s shoulder and turned off the stove. With John’s arms still around him, he poured scalding water into teacups and deposited two bags of Earl Grey. He was unaffected by their proximity as if John pressed against him was an every day occurrence instead of a ground-breaking revelation, which made John wonder …
“You’ve thought about this before? The two of us?”
“John. I would have taken you to bed your first night in Baker Street if I’d thought you would have been amenable.” Sherlock had to move away from John’s embrace to reach the sugar. “But you wouldn’t have been.”
John crossed his arms, cold without Sherlock’s body to wrap around. “You don’t know that.”
“I do.” He dropped a sugar cube in one of the teacups but not the other. John liked that Sherlock knew how he took his tea.
“And you think I’m amenable now?” he asked.
Sherlock glanced back at him. “Not yet. Maybe someday, once you get over your sexual identity crisis.”
John laughed toward the ceiling, but the sound dwindled off to a light hum when Sherlock turned back around and took John’s chin in his hand. He kissed John again with less force this time but just as much passion and skill until the inside of John’s eyelids burnt red. His hands grasped at Sherlock’s thin hips, fingers hooking beneath belt loops.
“Jesus, Sherlock, where’d you learn to kiss like that?” John asked when they parted for breath.
“Repeated experiments.” Sherlock’s mouth turned up on one side, a semi-smile.
John tangled his fingers in the back of his flat mate’s hair and tugged until their lips met again. This time, he shoved Sherlock against the counter, which managed to spill a cup of tea. John steered Sherlock away from the expanding pool of hot water and leaned him against the kitchen table, which didn’t work either because he almost flipped Sherlock over the damn thing.
John opted for the nearest wall instead—much more stable. He even wrapped his fingers around Sherlock’s wrists and pinned his arms above his head.
The sound of Sherlock’s gasp when John’s mouth found his throat went right to John’s cock, suddenly alive and living for this moment. He didn’t think once about breasts. He thought instead about his detective’s pale skin, long legs, and throat that for some reason tasted of clove and sugar—but maybe that was just John’s imagination. He licked once more to check.
Sherlock, pinned to the wall, moved his lower body so that he straddled one of John’s thighs, which reminded John, again, that he was not sucking hungry bruises on a woman’s neck but on that of his very male flat mate. No matter, the deep moans coming from Sherlock’s throat were delicious. John ate them with an open-mouthed kiss.
The only reason John let go of Sherlock’s wrists (he liked having him pinned) was so that he could touch his body again, palms searching over the expensive fabric of Sherlock’s dress shirt. With his hands back in the game, Sherlock did the unexpected and cupped John’s hardening length through the front of his jeans.
John almost fell over, his knees weak and shaky. “My God,” he muttered.
“I’m no deity,” Sherlock responded while sucking John’s ear. The sound of his chuckle made John’s entire body feel like a quivering bowl of gelatin. “What do you want me to do?”
John stopped moving and looked up at Sherlock. Under normal circumstances (meaning when a woman was involved), John would have carried her to the bedroom, bridal style, and reached for the nearest condom. A woman wasn’t involved; his best friend was, and said best friend, the consulting detective, had the same gleam in his eyes as when he’d figured out a particularly difficult case.
John put his hand on the side of Sherlock’s neck. “Where have you been hiding?”
Sherlock stuck out his bottom lip.
“This side of you, Sherlock. Where have you kept it hidden?”
He smiled and showed just a glimpse of white teeth. “You’re a deep sleeper, John. I go out at night.”
John ran his finger over Sherlock’s mouth. “If we do this, no one else can have you. Not anymore.”
“I told you you’re possessive.”
John pushed their bodies closer together. “Usually, no. With you, yes.”
They kissed and wrestled around the living room, ending up on the couch and both chairs and finally the floor where Sherlock somehow managed to make John come with all their clothes still on. After, John lay on his back, chest heaving. Sherlock curled around him like a mildly suffocating starfish.
“Christ, we could have been doing that for months?”
Sherlock shook his head. “You weren’t ready.”
“How the hell do you know?” He sounded irritated, but meanwhile, John played with the sweaty curls on the back of Sherlock’s neck.
“You were already possessive, yes. You proved you would kill to save my life the very day we met, but you didn’t realize just how much I meant to you until today, did you?”
John sighed and thought back to the warehouse, the psychopath with the gun, the idea of losing Sherlock forever. He even had a vague mental image of himself, wrapped in Sherlock’s coat years down the line, still seeking out the scent of his dead best friend.
“Yes,” John said. He even pressed his nose into Sherlock’s hair and took a deep breath. “I didn’t realize it until today, you crazy bastard.”
Sherlock let out a single chuckle. John held him tighter.