On the first of November, Sherlock noticed John didn’t shave before work.
The entire notion struck Sherlock as odd, because John always shaved. Every day. He was very meticulous about taking a razor to his face daily to rid himself of the pesky little hairs dotting his chin and upper lip. In addition to that, John was a very habitual man when it came to mundane, domestic things like hygiene. For him to break habit like this was something that rarely, if ever, occurred.
With these facts in mind, Sherlock wondered what caused John to forget this monumental part of his morning routine. Was he not feeling well? Was he overtired? Sherlock had been dragging him about London for the past three days chasing down a moderately clever jewelry thief…maybe it was finally taking its toll on the doctor?
But…John seemed totally fine as he puttered around the kitchen, making his regular toast and tea before heading off to the surgery for his shift. So if it wasn’t his physical state, perhaps it was his mental state? Did John have something weighing so heavily in his mind that he didn’t think to shave that morning? Outwardly, John seemed okay, though—not particularly deep in thought or mulling things over. Sherlock needed more data before he could come to a sound conclusion.
“I’m off, Sherlock,” John announced as he slipped his coat on and buttoned it up tight. “Should be home around six.”
Sherlock hummed in acknowledgment, abandoning his microscope just long enough to steal a goodbye kiss, chaste and sweet. Beaming, John picked up his satchel and made his way down the stairs.
As he returned to his oh-so-interesting bacteria culture, Sherlock found himself missing the subtle minty aroma of John’s aftershave a bit more than was really necessary. No matter, John would shave tomorrow, for sure.
On the third of November, Sherlock noticed some shadowy stubble littering the lower half of John’s face. It was made rather painfully obvious that night—rather, early morning—when the couple returned to their flat at half two after an exhilarating confrontation with some underground drug lords.
Neither John nor Sherlock could hold themselves up properly, both slumped against the wall in the hallway, utterly exhausted. Sherlock had no idea what prompted him to kiss John right then. Was it a complete lack of inhibitions due to fatigue or a strange sort of elation that they managed to come out relatively unscathed, with only a few cuts and bruises? Either way, Sherlock all but collapsed against John, showering the shorter man with needy, desperate kisses. He didn’t expect the incredibly itchy sensation against his chin.
Just as John was threading his fingers through Sherlock’s messy locks, returning the kisses in kind, Sherlock broke off their contact with a frown. Grey met dark blue and John questioningly quirked a blond brow.
“John, I implore that you shave. I’m not particularly pleased with your prickly stubble tearing my face to shreds when we kiss,” he said. Okay, maybe he was being a bit overdramatic, but the feeling of those rough hairs on his sensitive skin was more than a little unpleasant.
With a tired sigh that barely constituted as a laugh, John leaned forward and laid his head on Sherlock’s shoulder. “Sorry,” he said, voice muffled by the thick fabric of Sherlock’s greatcoat. Considering how wiped out they both were, Sherlock actually decided to let the matter drop—just this once, surely—and they both trudged upstairs, falling into bed without even bothering to remove their shoes. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, Sherlock would make sure John shaved.
On the tenth of November, Sherlock noticed John had the fuzzy beginnings of a dishwater blond beard and moustache. It was more than just stubble now, growing out in fine hairs that coated a good portion of John’s chin and upper lip and started curving along the line of his jaw. Dashing though it made John look, Sherlock was still upset that John hadn’t acquiesced to his request of shaving from a week ago.
Not only that, but the sound of John’s blunt fingernails scratching at the hair-infested skin drove Sherlock up the bloody wall. Especially because John insisted on scratching at his beard every 7.92 seconds, on average—and Sherlock would know, because he’d been observing, counting, and calculating. After about five minutes of this absurdity, Sherlock snapped.
“For God’s sake, John, stop that infernal scratching before I tie your hands down to your chair and cut off all your fingers,” he threatened, shooting an icy glare John’s way.
John looked up from his morning paper, giving the corner of his jaw another unconscious scratch that made Sherlock nearly convulse on the sofa. “Sorry. It’s just really itchy,” he said by means of excuse, looking totally innocent.
“Why don’t you just shave it off, then?” Sherlock asked, not even bothering to keep his volume level calm and controlled. He was heading quickly towards his wit’s end. It was bad enough that he didn’t have a case on at the moment, but to be annoyed and aggravated on top of that by that horrid scratching noise…
Staring at Sherlock as if the answer were so bloody obvious, John simply said, “I don’t want to.”
“Be reasonable, John. It’s clearly irritating you judging by the frequency with which you keep scratching at your chin, and the sound alone is more than grating on my nerves. I also abhor kissing you with all of that…fuzz on your face, as I don’t particularly enjoy your beard and moustache scraping my skin every time we come into contact. Why keep growing out your facial hair when it’s more than uncomfortable for the both of us?” Sherlock challenged, settling back onto the sofa, convinced he had won this argument.
Instead of fighting back, John just shrugged and went back to his paper. “Oh. I guess I won’t be kissing you anymore, then,” he said nonchalantly.
Sherlock felt his blood stop circulating through his veins. No. No. John wouldn’t dare withhold his kisses!
John just shook his head.
At that point, Sherlock let out a frustrated, animalistic snarl. His long, bony fingers snaked through his wild curls and held them in a death grip, nearly pulling out clumps of his hair and leaving behind bald patches on his scalp. Why was John being so unbearably, childishly difficult? With a huff, the detective stood up, marching a few paces until he was looming directly over John. The smaller man had barely any time to react before Sherlock ripped the newspaper out of his hands and seized his lips in an angry, searing kiss. His hands latched on to the sides of John’s face, that insufferable facial hair rubbing at his palms and causing them to itch.
When Sherlock finally pulled away, he couldn’t help but scratch at his own face. John’s beard left a phantom prickling sensation on his skin. He hated it.
John chuckled, rubbing at the peach fuzz on his jaw. “Does it really bother you that much, Sherlock?”
“Yes,” Sherlock responded without even a hint of hesitation.
John looked thoughtful for a moment, a slow smile creeping across his lips. Then, gently taking Sherlock’s hands in his own, he pulled the lanky man forward and into his lap. “Well,” he began, that smile taking on a more devious edge, “I suppose you’ll just have to deal with it.” To punctuate his statement, John leaned up and engaged Sherlock in another kiss, languid and tender.
Sherlock melted into the kiss after a few moments of resistance, allowing himself to relish the wondrous feel of John’s mouth moving against his. Those little blond hairs still poked and rubbed at his skin, but…well, Sherlock supposed he could put up with it. After all, kissing John was one of his favourite pastimes as of late. Like hell he’d let some stupid facial hair to get in the way of that.
On the sixteenth of November, Sherlock noticed that John’s beard was almost a shade darker than the hair atop his head. In addition to this observation, Sherlock also noticed that John’s beard had gradually changed in its texture since the start of its growth over two weeks ago. It was rather silky and soft now, instead of being sharp and prickly like the spikes on a cactus. This was quite a welcome change, for John endeavoured to use his beard in some…interesting ways.
Like right now, for instance.
John trailed feather-light kisses across his chest and down to his navel, his beard sweeping over the pale, sensitive flesh and sending tremors coursing through Sherlock’s body. It was a bit alarming how acutely he could feel each and every fiber of John’s facial hair against the skin of his torso, and even more alarming how Sherlock found himself enjoying the feeling. The gentle brushing of the fine little hairs had all of his nerve endings on fire. He had to bite down a giggle when John’s kisses reached his abdomen, beard tickling the skin and leaving a strange tingling sensation in its wake.
“Your beard tickles,” Sherlock commented, unable to form a more intelligent sentence in the abundance of tactile stimuli attacking his senses. John certainly had a way of turning Sherlock’s brain to pudding.
John stopped his ministrations with his mouth, balancing his chin on Sherlock’s stomach and looking up at him with a slight frown. “Does it bother you?” he asked in all seriousness, drumming erratic beats with his fingertips down the sides of Sherlock’s thighs.
“N-no,” Sherlock managed to say, attempting to retain at least a semblance of brain function. Even stationary, John’s beard felt oddly stimulating against his skin. “It’s…rather pleasant.”
Satisfied with the answer he received, John smiled in that adoring way of his and crawled upwards until he was face-to-face with Sherlock. “Good,” he said, leaning down and kissing his lover so thoroughly, it left Sherlock’s head spinning.
On the twenty-third of November, Sherlock noticed he had developed a slight obsession with John’s beard.
It was barely seven in the morning. Sherlock had already been awake for a couple hours by then, but John was still blissfully asleep, curled up next to the detective. Gentle grey eyes locked onto the doctor’s sleeping face. He closely studied the formation of the dark blond trail of hair encompassing the entirety of that square jaw, above and below those tender lips that he loved to kiss. He catalogued the colour and shade of each individual follicle protruding from slightly tanned skin. The pads of Sherlock’s fingertips ran along the grain of the shiny, silky hair, stroking downward and filing away the smoothness he felt beneath his touch.
His fingers delicately traced along John’s jaw line, finding their way to the somewhat thin sideburns that connected the hair atop his head to the hair adorning his face. Sherlock couldn’t believe how much he’d loathed the concept of facial hair just three weeks ago. If he had known how wonderfully, deliciously soft it would become after the beginning stages of scratchy stubble, he wouldn’t have complained about it. Well, not as much, anyway. It was still horribly bothersome when John had initially started growing it out.
There was also the welcome change in John’s overall appearance that came at Sherlock by surprise. He’d loved the way John looked before, all handsome and clean-shaven and charming, coining his own personal brand of adorable. But his beard…it was so different from what Sherlock was used to seeing, but it suited John just as well. The added facial hair gave him a more distinguished, more masculine quality about him. He was still a great big teddy bear at heart, surely, but he didn’t appear to be so cuddly anymore on the outside. The beard made him look threatening and dangerous. Much less likely to be underestimated like he often was before. Sherlock had known all along that beneath those fuzzy knit jumpers that gave him the likeness of a kitten, John was actually a fierce lion, the beard his newly-grown mane. He looked the part of a hardened soldier now, and honestly, Sherlock found this look to be incredibly alluring.
But the kindness was still there in John’s dark blue eyes, and Sherlock was glad for that.
John stirred beneath his touch, and Sherlock snatched his hand away as if he’d been caught stealing biscuits from the jar. It took a few blinks for John to actually open his eyes, and a slow smile spread across his slightly chapped lips.
“G’mornin’, Sherlock,” he sleepily slurred.
“Good morning, John,” Sherlock replied, scooting further down the bed so he was at eye-level with John. He offered a small smile of his own.
“What time is it?” John asked, rubbing his eyes.
“About thirteen minutes past seven,” Sherlock said without even looking at the clock.
John latched onto Sherlock with a quiet groan, closing the minimal gap between them and cuddling into his lanky frame. He burrowed his head beneath Sherlock’s chin, nuzzling the long expanse of neck, his beard tickling the taller man’s prominent Adam’s apple.
A low, baritone chuckle erupted from deep in Sherlock’s throat, both at John’s early-morning clinginess and the funny feeling of hairs bushing his skin. “I take it we’re staying in bed a bit longer?”
Sherlock more felt than heard the muffled, affirmative hum John emitted in response. The doctor dropped back into slumber not even a minute later, if his evened breathing and light snores were anything to go by. Unable to resist the pressing urge, Sherlock found himself stroking John’s beard once again, as one would pet a cat. How had he lived so long without it before?
On the first of December, Sherlock noticed some vaguely familiar sounds coming from the loo as John was getting ready for work. They were sounds he hadn’t heard recently—in exactly a month, in fact—so it took him a few moments to decipher them. The echoing pop of a plastic, domed cap being pulled off a metal, cylindrical container. The quick spurt of hot water from the tap, cascading onto something small and also made of plastic. The distinct tapping of said plastic object against the porcelain sink…
Oh God, no.
“John!” Sherlock shouted from the sitting room, bolting up off his chair and making a beeline for the bathroom. He stopped short in the doorway, his hands scrambling for purchase on the wooden frame. To his horror, he found John standing in front of the sink with a Santa-like beard of shaving foam, razor poised and ready to shear off a strip of hair.
“What’s the matter, Sherlock?”
“John, you mustn’t save off your beard,” Sherlock said, tone teeming with urgency and desperation.
At that, John frowned—well, Sherlock thought he frowned. It was hard to tell with all the foam. “Why not?”
“Because I…” the detective trailed off, swallowing hard. Dear lord, he was going to have to admit it, wasn’t he? ”I…” he tried again before stopping himself. He was having a difficult time groping for the right words, especially with John staring as him expectantly like that.
“You what?” John asked, one brow raised inquiringly.
Oh, hell. “It has come to my attention in a fairly recent discovery that I’ve formed a rather fond attachment to your beard, so I would prefer that you keep it and not shave it off,” Sherlock explained, the entire sentence spoken a mile a minute with absolutely no pause for breath. “Please,” he added, almost as an afterthought.
There was a beat of silent stillness before John quirked a playful sort of grin. He ran his finger along his jaw, gathering a dollop of shaving foam and plopping it on the tip of Sherlock’s nose. “You git. I thought you hated my beard?”
In retaliation, Sherlock accumulated some foam on his own fingertip and did the same to John’s nose. “I did. I’ve just grown accustomed to it now,” he clarified. “You pull it off well.”
“Oh, ta.” John smeared some foam across Sherlock’s ridiculously sharp cheekbones. “You want me to keep it, then?”
“Yes. Don’t make me repeat myself,” Sherlock said, flicking foam into John’s hair, still damp from the shower.
“All right. I’ll keep it, just for you,” John agreed. He leaned in for a kiss to seal the deal, but Sherlock flinched back.
“Don’t you dare kiss me with all that foam on your face.”
The two of them could barely keep eye contact for more than a few seconds before bursting into a fit of giggles. John set to work on rinsing off the shaving foam, intent on snogging Sherlock good and proper once he was all clean.
And, thankfully, still bearded.