There hasn’t been a case for days. Sherlock feels the ennui settling in like a shroud; it covers 221B, making the dust that usually sparkles with promise in the sunlight twist itself into useless, heavy sediment, making the laboratory equipment and half-finished experiments nothing but a clutter of useless trash, making the familiar and comforting smells of home cloying and contemptuous. He hates this feeling, especially now, when he’d thought having John would make these black moods go away. It hasn’t, and in some ways, it makes them worse; the guilt of feeling this way when he is finally with John and he should be happy claws at his insides and threatens to tear him apart.
He’s sitting on the floor leaning up against the couch, old case files strewn around him, the coffee table pushed out of the way, and he can’t take it anymore, he can’t. He presses the palms of his hands into his eyes and tucks his knees up, resting his forehead against them, and tries to breathe against the oppressive bleakness covering his mind, against the way his insides feel as if they’re trying to claw their way out of his body.
Distantly, he hears the door open and smells a rush of familiar things – John’s shampoo, disinfectant from the clinic, the cold of impending snow – and he sucks in a breath, wills himself to settle. John. John is home, John is here. He knows this should make him feel better, but he feels panicky, as if he can’t be what John needs him to be right now. He tunes out the familiar sounds of John’s shoes on the floor, tunes out John’s voice, tunes out everything and tries to focus on anything other than the darkness that has settled over his mind, and so when he feels a warm, familiar weight on his head, he startles, then forces himself to still.
He hears the telly turn on, and then he feels warmth pressing against his side: John’s leg. Selfishly, he leans into it, allows himself the comfort even though it makes something in his heart twist that he doesn’t understand. The warmth on his head, John’s hand, begins to move, John’s fingers stroking through his hair tenderly, so tenderly, that he feels as if he’s cracking apart. He sighs, his breath shaky, and focuses on the sensation, on the exact points of pressure John’s fingertips leave on his scalp, shifting and soothing, on the constant pressure of John’s leg against his side.
Slowly, some of the tension leaves him, his palms stop pressing into his eyes, and his arms, heavy like they are weighed down by lead, circle his legs. He lets himself rest against John’s leg as his eyes drift closed, and he focuses on John’s fingers, carding through his hair. The ennui slides away to be replaced with sensation, with a fog of pleasure he doesn’t understand. It’s like he’s drifting away, like nothing matters but this. He hardly hears himself when he hums in pleasure, hardly realizes anything exists beyond John.
“That’s it,” he distantly hears John say. “You’re so good, Sherlock, so good.” John’s voice is familiar but it sounds as if it’s coming from far away, floating through 221B, a sparkling presence that makes the darkness shift and dissipate. He makes a sound low in his throat, nuzzles his head against John’s knee.
“Brilliant,” John murmurs, low and tender. “You’re always so brilliant, love, that’s it, you’re alright, now.” The words are nonsense, but they curl into Sherlock’s ear like bliss and he unwraps one arm from around his leg, curls it around John’s and presses closer, turns his head just a little bit, nuzzles the length of his nose against John’s trousers. He doesn’t feel like he has control over his actions; he feels as if he is floating on a cloud, as if the only thing that’s real is John’s voice and John’s fingers and John’s leg.
John’s fingers slide down to his nape and press for just a moment, the pads of his fingertips warm and firm against the base of his skull, and Sherlock shudders, his spine arching, his breath quickening as John’s fingers slide up, up, up along the back of his head, then smoothly go back down, pressing again against his nape. He feels goosebumps break out over his skin, feels a helpless moan slide from his mouth.
“Does that feel good, love? I want you to feel good,” John says. His voice is gentle, warm, familiar, and Sherlock curls closer, nuzzles John’s knee, doesn’t think he can speak. John’s fingers smooth up and down the back of his head again, and Sherlock thinks he would do anything for John in this moment, anything. John lets his fingers tangle into Sherlock’s curls, and he pulls, just a tiny bit, and Sherlock moans, his back arching, his body pressing against John’s calf. Distantly, he realizes how hard he is, but he’s not worried about that; he knows John will take care of him.
“You’re so good,” John tells him again, and Sherlock feels as if he’s melting, as if there’s fire flowing through his veins, as if he is a puddle of molten flesh held up by nothing but John’s leg and John’s fingers in his hair. His breath hitches and he leans into John’s hand, moans startlingly loud when John pulls on his hair again, a little harder. He feels disconnected from his body, feels like a bundle of nerves waiting to go off whenever John chooses, and he loves it.
“You’re fantastic, Sherlock, you are magnificent,” John tells him, and Sherlock realizes he’s panting, that the labored breaths he can hear are coming from him, that his cock is pressed up against his stomach, that he is trembling.
“Let me take care of you, love,” John says, and Sherlock lets out a breathy moan of agreement, curls his fingers into John’s calf, breathes him in.
“Will you come up here?” John asks, and Sherlock hears the words in his brain, recognizes there’s something he’s supposed to do, but his limbs feel heavy and sluggish, as if they’re out of his control, and he’s not sure he can do that, and he feels his breath speed up and hitch, feels something like panic skitter over his skin, but then John’s fingers are sliding up and down the back of his head again and he finds himself calming as he listens to John’s murmur of, “it’s alright, it’s alright, you can stay there, it’s alright, you’re so good, stay there,” until he is pliant against John once more.
John’s fingers tug gently on his hair again, and Sherlock moans, wants so much more but can’t ask for it now, feels desperation washing over him.
“Sherlock,” John says, his voice rough and low. “You –” He stops and clears his throat, tugs on Sherlock’s hair again, and Sherlock goes boneless. “Touch yourself,” John says.
The words cut through the fog over Sherlock’s brain, and Sherlock considers his arms for a moment, forces the one that isn’t wrapped around John’s leg to move. He slides his head into the waistband of his pajamas and curls his fingers around his cock, gasping as John tugs harder on his hair.
“You’re brilliant,” John says. “Brilliant.” Sherlock shudders, and when John starts sliding his fingers up and down the back of his head again, he mirrors the movement with his hand, slow and torturous, his breath shaky. When John plays with the curls on the crown of his head, Sherlock swipes his thumb over the head of his cock, moaning as the moisture spreads, his hips bucking up of their own volition as his knees spread open.
“That’s it,” John says. “Fuck, that’s it. You’re gorgeous, Sherlock, gorgeous. Keep going, pull your pajamas down now.”
Sherlock does, shifting his hips and tugging the waist of his pajamas down just enough to free his cock, then lets himself curl back against John, nuzzles against his knee. “Good,” John says. “You’re doing so well,” he adds. He tugs on Sherlock’s hair and Sherlock lets his hand move faster, lets sensation wash over him, feels a tightening in his stomach and limbs that feels delicious.
“Keep going,” John tells him. “Faster. You’re so close already, Sherlock, fuck you’re gorgeous.” Sherlock moves his hand faster up and down his cock, hears sounds coming from his throat he isn’t conscious of making, feels like pleasure is overloading his senses. His balls tighten against his body and he is so close, and John’s fingers are curled into his hair, holding it taut but not quite pulling, and Sherlock keens, desperate and needy.
“Oh fuck,” John says. “You’re amazing, Sherlock, you’re fantastic, come for me, love, come on,” and he pulls, harder than he has yet, and then Sherlock is coming, hard and fast, all over his t-shirt, the pleasure making his limbs curl, making him tighten his grip on John’s leg, making his whole body go taut and tense, and John’s fingers never leave his hair, never stop soothing over his scalp. When Sherlock finally finishes, his body relaxing against John’s leg, he is panting as if he’s run a mile and it suddenly occurs to him what just happened and he feels a strange sensation flood his awareness, as if he’s come back into his body from somewhere far away, and he feels anxiety he doesn’t understand wash over him. He hardly realizes he’s begun to panic until John is sliding down, his knees creaking, his body warm and perfect and everything Sherlock needs, and then John takes him in his arms, pulls him flush against him heedless of the mess on his shirt, one hand still in his hair, the other going up and down his back.
“You’re alright,” John says. “You’re alright, love, that was intense, wasn’t it? But you’re alright, you’re incredible, shh,” and Sherlock rests against him, unsure of what just happened, unsure of what came over him, unsure if he can even speak.
He presses his face into John’s neck, breathes deeply, lets John’s words settle over his skin. John holds him close, and Sherlock slowly feels like he’s coming back to himself, feels as if he’s waking from a deep sleep. “John,” he says, forcing his lips to form the word, forcing himself to take command of his body. His voice is rough and shaky and needy, and John presses a kiss to his temple, lets his hand run soothingly up and down his spine. Sherlock sighs, feels vulnerable and safe and somehow strong. “That was – I –” He swallows, curls his fingers into the back of John’s shirt, unsure of what he wants to say.
“Alright?” John asks a moment later.
“Mm,” Sherlock says.
“Come up on the couch with me?” John asks, and Sherlock nods, but doesn’t make any attempt to move. John kisses his temple again, lips warm and dry, and tugs on him and starts to stand until Sherlock is forced to follow, his limbs shaky, but John pulls him down to the couch almost as soon as he’s standing. John lays down and Sherlock goes with him, and they’re much too big for the little couch, but Sherlock curls against John, body to body, and presses as close as he can get, lets John take care of him and soothe him and cherish him. He sighs against John’s neck, presses a soft kiss there, lets his hand trail half-heartedly down John’s stomach towards where John is hard in his trousers. He wants to take care of him, wants nothing more than to see John come apart, but he is tired. John takes his hand and brings it up to his mouth, kisses his knuckles. “In a bit,” John says. “It can wait. Rest a minute.”
“I love you,” Sherlock murmurs, though he feels the words aren’t enough to express what he feels, to impress upon John exactly how much he means them, to give voice to the certainty inside of him that he would be nothing without John, that the world would cease to exist if John weren’t here. “John,” he breathes, turning his head to kiss the closest bit of John he can find, the soft skin at the base of his neck. He wants to crawl inside John’s skin, wants to be as close as he can possibly get.
“Shh,” John says. “It’s alright, you’re alright. I love you, too, Sherlock, so much.”
Sherlock curls tighter around him, closes his eyes, and lets sleep settle over his brain.