He hadn't meant for it to sound like a question. An inexcusably stupid one at that, because of course it was. It was. Mycroft's car had already pulled away, that much closer to Whitehall so that he could get back to his real job of running the world. The final details of the case were winding down across London in back alley busts and interrogations rooms. But back in 221B, something quiet and tense had fallen over them, a spell Sherlock had only broken with a question that wasn’t meant to be a question.
John pulled him close and only nodded, their bodies pressed together almost chastely, their foreheads touching. They'd never done that before. Sherlock hadn't thought their heads could meet this way but his spine seemed to naturally curve to accommodate John’s height as soon as he reached out. He hadn’t even realised.
Sherlock watched his own hands scrabble uselessly at John's shirt, clumsy with the sort of manic vibrating tension that usually dissipated at the end of a case. This time though, this time, it had only got worse. He was exhausted, and full to bursting with an unpronounceable something in a way he seldom felt except when detoxing cold turkey. It was uncomfortable, beating hard and needy in his chest despite the relative quiet of the flat. He swallowed it down and hoped it wasn’t audible.
“It’s done,” John finally said back, voice hard to read. He sounded dry and parched. Sherlock considered offering to make tea, something to busy his hands. "It's done," John said again, whispering and bringing them closer, noses touching now, their bodies aligned less chastely than just before. One arm snaked around Sherlock’s waist, solid and just slightly possessive.
Tea would wait.
John curled the fingers of his other hand into Sherlock's hair and together they breathed, trading exhales until their bodies synchronised naturally. Sherlock’s breaths slowed to match John’s, and he was better able to focus on the overwhelming fact of John being here in Baker Street, on the improbable miracle of him being here with John. After so much had happened between them, after so much had failed to happen between them, it was strange to have arrived at this moment. He could barely recall when it hadn’t felt like everything were out of reach and irretrievably broken. Sherlock reached back into the memory palace for a date but was abruptly tethered back to the present as John cupped the vulnerable curve of his skull from his occipital bone to where his curls flared out at the nape of his neck. Sherlock hadn’t known the biggest case of his life was going to end today. He should have gotten a haircut.
An absurd emotion fluttered uselessly against his ribcage and he shut his eyes against it, overwhelmed. He breathed.
John smelled of the coffee he had had this afternoon at New Scotland Yard, the lavender detergent they kept at Crouch End, the stale plastic of the inside of his waterproof messenger bag, and an offending topnote of Clair de la Lune through it all.
Sherlock opened his eyes and blinked against the memory, against the past rearing up and punching through to the present. Whatever look was on his face, John frowned and dropped his hand out of Sherlock’s hair. Abruptly and impossibly Sherlock felt colder, and he suppressed the ridiculous bodily compulsion to shiver.
“Are you,” John started, before biting his bottom lip. He took a quick breath and started again. “Is this okay? Sorry, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have--”
“No,” Sherlock interrupted sharply, and John’s face fell suddenly and then crumbled in slow motion. It’s too late, the look said. A wild flame of panic licked up inside him. “No, no , I mean, of course it’s fine, it’s obviously fine,” he hastily added. God, he sounded unbearably cross. “I just meant you shouldn’t have--that is, you shouldn’t not--”
John's hand found its way to Sherlock’s chin and he stopped talking. Ever so slowly, John’s mouth loomed closer until Sherlock’s vision blurred at the edges and his breathing felt very far away. “Is this okay then?” John asked quietly. So close his sibilant consonants gusted over Sherlock’s lower lip. This time, Sherlock did shiver.
John hovered there, but his arm snaked tighter around Sherlock’s waist, palm holding them together. His eyes dropped to Sherlock’s mouth and then back up to his eyes.
“Tell me yes, Sherlock,” he murmured.
If there was one thing Sherlock could never do, it was refuse John Watson.
He nodded, trying for decisive but it came out jerkily. Sherlock opened his mouth to try to push out a yes, god yes, but John’s mouth surged up and Sherlock’s brain skittered briefly offline.
The moment held for what seemed like a small, impossible eternity. Their lips pressed together, neither of them attempting to inhale, and then their mouths acquainted themselves with one another. And as ever, like that very first day, they got to know each other quickly.
The thudding feeling in Sherlock’s chest crescendoed in his ears and turned to an electrostatic hum in his veins. He must have breathed in through necessity, because neither of them pulled away before John’s mouth opened and Sherlock’s followed suit. John licked inside his mouth and from then on, Sherlock was made aware of movements further south, from growing erection to his awkward, useless hands. The two of them managed to back up into John’s red armchair, Sherlock’s arse dropping on the wide padded arm, which surprised him out of the kiss.
A smile spread across John’s lips and warmed the entire room like an ember. “Come on,” he said, as if he said it all the time. “It’s late. Bedroom?”
Sherlock nodded dumbly and watched John leave him in the direction of bedroom.
He was grateful for not having an audience as he made his way across the sitting room. The erection tenting his trousers was awkward to move with. In the doorway, he froze, taking in the sight of John unbuttoning his dress shirt in the middle of his room. Just as if he’d been doing so for years.
“Too fast?” John said, pausing with a button between his fingers. “We don’t have to--”
“No, it’s--” Sherlock said testily. “Fine,” he finished, crossing the bedroom and pausing by John. An echo of a different night entirely, a different case, bubbled up, and he pushed it away with a growl. Ducking his head down, his mouth found the opening of John’s dress shirt and he tugged the collar to the side to press his lips to hot skin. John craned his neck to provide him access. I want , began his thoughts, before they splintered pathetically and crackled into noise. He drew back like he were burnt.
“Hey,” John said, frowning. The tan vee of skin beneath his gingham shirt stopped halfway down his sternum. “I’m serious, Sherlock, we don’t have to--”
“You smell like her.”
The words spilled out half confession, half accusation, when Sherlock had intended neither. John’s mouth closed mid-word, which was enough to make Sherlock look away in frustration.
Will you never learn, brother mine?
He gritted his teeth.
There was a long silence, as he didn't look up and John didn’t call his name again. Instead, some subtle movement caught his eye, just in the periphery. He isn’t leaving, Sherlock realised, and then repeated to himself like a spell. He turned his head to find John fully unbuttoned now, and shrugging off the dress shirt. His hands moved to his trousers, movements slow and full of deliberation. When Sherlock looked him full in the eyes again, John was deadly serious as he’d ever been. And something else. Something crowding into his expression that Sherlock couldn’t place.
“You’re right. So I’m going to shower,” John said with an even voice. “And when I return, here, to this bed, I’m not going to smell like her. The case is damn well over, so we can finally--we’re going to start over. Start fresh. So you wait for me, and I’ll come back.”
With that, he left for the en suite, leaving Sherlock staring after him. A minute passed and the pipes squeaked to life, the shower started.
He wasn’t leaving.
Erection forgotten, Sherlock undressed mechanically, stripping down to his briefs, and crawled into his bed. Rarely had the mattress felt as large as it did now, and it warmed slowly to him. He leaned back against the pillows and listened to the water for long minutes.
When John emerged again, his hair was a well-toweled mess, still several shades darker than it normally was. He wore Sherlock’s towel slung low across his hips, and his chest was bare, the scar in full view finally as he made his way to the bed. John’s gaze was steady on his.
He crawled on top of the bed and paused at the edge, finally faltering. A wide gulf stood between himself and John, for all that it was a few inches of ill-used bedsheets.
“I know we had decided before that when this was all done, we would…” he trailed off and sucked in a breath. “But we don’t have to. We can go slow. Slow as you like. She’s not coming back and I’m not going back. I’m not going anywhere.”
Sherlock found himself shaking his head before John had finished speaking. “Slow,” he bit out. “Slow is not what I need right now.”
“What do you need then?”
Impossible things. Wrong things. For you to carve your name into the foundation of me.
For you to stay inside the walls of my cells and never leave.
Any number of things he couldn’t possibly say.
Outside his head, enough time had passed that John, still in the towel, crawled to Sherlock’s side and lay down parallel to him, head resting on an outstretched arm. He nestled himself right in Sherlock’s side and then moved slowly, so slowly, to tilt Sherlock’s face fully toward him.
“Okay,” he said softly, as if he’d heard everything.
Sherlock searched his eyes. Was he answering Sherlock after all?
My impossible John.
John slowly raised himself on all fours over Sherlock, arms caging him on either side. Moving past Sherlock’s lips, he lowered himself down and lavished kisses on the junction between jawline and clavicle. He nuzzled to win himself better access to his neck and their bodies seemed to slot together automatically after that. When John lowered his body weight onto him, it was the last in a perfect onslaught of sensation. Distantly the towel seemed to disappear, no longer wrapped around John’s hips, and his thighs felt lightly furred and warm still from the shower. John’s prominent erection, maddeningly unseen, pressed down on Sherlock’s, still trapped within his briefs.
John’s hair smelled of Sherlock’s own shampoo, which it never did. Never had, no matter how many occasions John had showered here on late nights and early mornings. Stuff was too posh, he’d always said, and so there was always a backup of John’s old product. He never touched Sherlock’s things.
He moved up to drop a kiss onto Sherlock’s temple. The bare skin of his shoulder grazed Sherlock’s chin and he kissed it automatically. John smelled of Sherlock’s bodywash, overtop a clean male musk that was distinctly John, and he radiated heat in a way that spiked something hard in Sherlock’s stomach. His cock twitched hard enough for John to smile down on him indulgently.
“Anything you want,” John said with promise in his voice.
“I’m not going to last, no matter what we do,” Sherlock managed to confess.
But John smiled and bent his mouth low to Sherlock’s ear to speak.
“Good, because it’s been a while since I’ve done this.”
John made his way down Sherlock’s body, dropping warm kisses that seemed to spread heat outward wherever they landed. And Sherlock’s body was thirsty for it, back arching to get closer. John paused at Sherlock’s chest to lightly kiss his nipple. When Sherlock gasped at the sensation, John hovered there, darted his tongue out and swirled it around before sucking the nipple into his mouth. Grunting, Sherlock blew out a harsh breath and opened his eyes to find his hands buried in John’s hair. Their eyes met, and they shared a heated, wordless look.
John’s hand, a comforting weight on Sherlock’s chest, grazed lightly over the neat, round scar there. John dipped low, eyes never leaving Sherlock’s, and kissed the faint mark, kissed it softly, almost reverently. Something swelled in Sherlock’s chest at the sight and threatened to lodge in his throat. But it didn’t last. One last kiss, and John moved on, sliding further down the bed.
Gradually, he trailed kisses down to Sherlock’s navel and followed the line of sparse hair that led down to his groin. Beneath John, the tight feeling in Sherlock’s throat evolved into something else, and he tried not to writhe too much, to buck with anticipation, but it was building up like fuel, his whole body tightening.
John gently peeled back the grey briefs, now dark with evidence of Sherlock’s arousal. Briefly, Sherlock’s cock stood at full attention before John pulled off the briefs entirely and arranged himself square between Sherlock’s open legs. Eyes locked on Sherlock’s, John lowered his head until he just hovered over Sherlock’s waiting cock.
As with the kisses, as with the scar, John was deliberate and slow as he finally sucked the tip of Sherlock’s cock into his mouth. Finally John’s steady blue eyes closed and heat swallowed Sherlock whole. Back arching, he gasped out a breath as John cupped his bollocks and sucked in more. The picture of John’s lips wrapped around him nearly finished right then and a high strangled whine finally released from Sherlock’s throat. John answered in a satisfied hum.
Details of the moment were slipping already, passing through his fingers like sand, much as he tried to commit everything to crystalline memory. John’s mouth was impossibly hot and wet, sliding more of Sherlock’s cock in with every pass, and Sherlock’s eyes kept slipping closed.
Reaching beneath, John grabbed a handful of Sherlock’s arse cheek and kneaded it, thumb grazing close to Sherlock’s hole but not quite touching. It was close to something and yet not, and he squirmed to get a proper touch. John obliged, indulgent and perfect, rubbing his thumb exactly where Sherlock needed to feel it, over and then up, and Sherlock bucked up into John’s mouth before settling.
All too soon, John’s mouth left him and Sherlock came back to himself with striking realisation. His chest was heaving.
“Sherlock, do you have...something?” John asked, words gusting cold spots of air over his wet cock.
“Drawer,” Sherlock managed, throwing his gaze over at the nightstand.
John worked quickly, taking out a new tube of gel and slicking up his fingers. He was back in position in just a few blinks, and Sherlock was enveloped again in a welcome wet heat.
John’s thumb, when it returned, wasn’t half as patient as his mouth had been. Spreading Sherlock’s arse cheeks, John rubbed a slick, insistent thumb pad over Sherlock’s hole, earning a sharp gasp. It was a heavy touch just where he wanted it, the finger threatening to sink in at the widest point but not pushing home. John made a wet pop as he slid Sherlock out of his mouth and brought his face lower, nearly out of sight. He nosed Sherlock’s crotch, the small curls of pubic hair there, breathing loud enough for Sherlock to hear through his own haze of sensation. John’s tongue made barely-there licks up the shaft and to the corona, which Sherlock dimly understood to be fully exposed now.
John finally switched tactics, bringing his index finger to Sherlock’s hole and slipping it in to the first knuckle. Sherlock grunted at the intrusion, but his body was more than ready. The finger went in easily and Sherlock was abruptly drowning in greed. It didn’t feel like enough, like it could be enough. And John, understanding, pushed home until the length of the finger disappeared inside, and his knuckles pushed up against Sherlock’s arse. A near subsonic groan echoed into the bedroom as John held still inside him.
The stretch to two fingers was better and worse. Sherlock arched wantonly and John murmured, “Bear down for me,” in a low tone of command Sherlock viscerally responded to. John’s soft, warm mouth returned intermittently to suck Sherlock to full hardness. Not enough to take him completely there and maddening in the best possible way.
Sherlock dimly registered that John must have reapplied lubricant before attempting a third finger, because it was wetter by far. Fresh slick dripped down his arse at the same time that John sucked in his cock down to the root, and sparks flew behind his lids, tiny dots of light as he beared down and rode it out.
John hummed appreciatively as Sherlock hardened further in his mouth and he had to pull his lips back from the nest of curls they were buried in. The last stretch had made Sherlock flag ever so slightly, but by now John was playing Sherlock’s body like an instrument. His head bobbed encouragingly, and his fingers held tightly together inside Sherlock, moving slowly until they found their mark.
The jolt hit him so suddenly, Sherlock cried out, and he clapped his hand over his mouth to stifle it.
“Hey, hey, hey,” John soothed, pulling off and stilling his fingers. His mouth hung just slightly open to breathe. His lips glistened with saliva. “I want to hear you.”
Sherlock nodded dumbly and slid his hand away.
John started to duck his head back down when his name slipped out from Sherlock’s mouth. He hadn’t meant to do that.
“What?” John asked, faint concern crinkling his brow.
“No,” Sherlock corrected quickly. “It’s not that, I just. I want. I mean, we discussed it before, that is, and if you--”
John was rising to his knees as Sherlock spoke, and he stopped when John’s impressive erection came into view for the first time. Sherlock blinked, scrabbling for some words to align into a thought. And then John’s fingers slowly slipped out, making him feel empty and even more inarticulately needy.
“Do you want,” Sherlock started again, eyes aimed south. He was distracted by the preejaculate on the verge of dripping off John’s cock when John’s mouth captured his in a full and dirty kiss. Sherlock’s eyes shut of their own accord to respond. John smelled of him, and his shampoo, and John’s own fresh sweat.
“I’m going to guess that whatever the end of that question was going to be,” John murmured against Sherlock’s lips, “that I’m going to say yes.”
They kissed again, and it flared memories of the sweet, slow snogging they’d started with, but it was different this time. Hungry and greedy.
It was John who switched their positions, arranging Sherlock’s useless limbs until John lay beneath, looking up at him with something like wonder and then, by degrees, embarrassment. “I’m--I’m not going to last, and I want to--I want to see you.”
His lips, Sherlock noted dreamily, looked bitten pink and wet. In sympathy, he licked his own. He drunk in the warm flush already spread out over John’s chest, and the gnarled silver-white mess of a scar that decorated one shoulder unmistakeably. Slowly, he leant down and planted a kiss there, as thank you, as tribute, as an apology for all the things he couldn’t bring himself to say.
He kissed and licked his way up the side of John’s neck and was rewarded with a low, frustrated moan and John’s erection jabbing straight up into his stomach. “Jesus, Sherlock,” John swallowed, visibly calming himself. “Please.”
Nodding, Sherlock rose to sitting again and swung his leg over to straddle John’s hips. He towered over John this way and felt suddenly and inexpressibly shy. There was no elegant way to align himself, but John’s hands guided him through it, steady. His eyes were clear, and Sherlock’s nervousness shrunk, if only a little.
The memory of John’s face as Sherlock sunk down onto him for the first time would hold pride of place in the room he would build for just this night.
He was slow taking all of John inside him. Time seemed to dilate around them, and John’s eyes fluttered shut more than once before Sherlock bottomed out. They were both breathing heavily, their eyes locked. John rubbed circles with his thumbs on Sherlock’s thighs and nodded, just once.
Eventually, the burn timed itself out and Sherlock knew he could move. He moved gingerly, an experimental rocking motion of his hips that made John’s eyes gratifyingly roll back. His long lashes fluttered and he cursed.
“Christ christ christ,” John gasped out, chest arching up in order to keep still. He ran out of breath to speak and didn’t seem to care. Sherlock did it again and again, and John’s eyes kept slipping closed, but he opened them with determination every time.
Sherlock’s chest felt full to bursting just watching him. He could ride this feeling for lifetimes.
“For the love of god, touch yourself,” John panted.
And Sherlock obliged, though he was half afraid of coming. Almost leisurely, he held his cock in his hand and tugged, trying to find a rhythm that worked.
Picking up speed, Sherlock started rolling his hips more ambitiously. It was easier, in a way, to keep from crying out without meaning to when he was in control of the tempo like this, but every few rolls, John’s cock would hit him in just the right way and he lost all control of the noises he made then. The more it happened, the more John started to buck up into Sherlock, taking control from below, until eventually it was a percussive string of several quick, brutal thrusts at a time, John’s hands holding him steady at the hips. And every time, Sherlock would still his body to allow John to thrust up, and every time John stopped as if remembering something.
When he slowed himself down again, it was with a deep breath that John pulled through his whole torso, and his face was red with both exertion and restraint.
“John,” Sherlock managed to say through ragged breaths. “Just do it. Do it like that. I want you to.”
John took several breaths before giving over to the need to finish.
Sherlock’s whole chest rumbled with a low, sustained moan, interrupted rhythmically by John’s rapid thrusting. A distant part of him cared about how much noise he was making, the picture he must be, but it was hard to care while pulling on his cock and watching John fuck up into him.
“Fuck, fuck,” John panted, curses a barely whispered string of syllables. “Fuck, Sherlock. You’re amazing, fuck. Say you’re mine, please, Jesus. Mine, Christ. Say you’re fucking mine.”
The words bloomed something hot in Sherlock’s chest and rose to burn his cheeks. John looked so wrecked beneath him, a string of curses gusting out like he couldn’t turn them off.
“Yours, John,” Sherlock said back, feeling himself fall as he spoke the words. Couldn’t take that back.
Sherlock’s orgasm took him slowly and hard, everything except the pinpoints of John’s half-lidded eyes fading away to a loud, crashing silence.
Eventually, he came to realise John had stopped moving, was even softening inside him. He collapsed forward onto John’s chest and breathed in the thick scent of John and sex and soap cut deeply with sweat.
When he went to roll off, John wrapped his arms around Sherlock’s back and held him close, burying his face in Sherlock’s chest. Heedless of the sticky mess between them.
“Just a little longer,” John said, muffled, into Sherlock’s sweaty skin. “And then we’ll clean up and talk.”
Sherlock nodded into John’s hair, acquiescing, and breathed him in.