“Sherlock, what's your favorite color?” John asked, for no particular reason. It was a lazy morning in 221B and they were both sitting in the living room on their laptops.
“Don't have one,” Sherlock said, clearly not paying attention.
“Everyone has a favorite color.”
“I don't know, they just do,” John insisted, “You seem to wear a lot of blue and purple, do you like those?”
“Not particularly. A fashion conscious acquaintance from uni assured me they were complimentary to my complexion. Don't you agree?”
“Uhhh, yes, quite!” John found himself thinking about the way Sherlock's blue scarf set off his dark curls and pale skin.
Sherlock nodded and went back to whatever he was doing on the computer. Probably trolling message boards, starting flame wars. John had only recently begun to realize this was a warning sign that Sherlock was about to descend into a bored self-destructive phase.
“You didn't answer my question. If you've never thought about it, think about it now. What's your favorite color?” John didn't know why he was pushing this. Maybe he was a little bored too.
“This is stupid, John.”
“Well, I am an idiot.”
Sherlock glared at him and John stuck out his tongue. Sherlock smirked.
“Fine. My favorite color is red. Red is the least boring color. It is the color of blood and pain and the burning end of a cigarette, and it is the color of your pants.”
“W-w-w-wha. . .my what?” John stuttered and blushed. “Sherlock!”
“It suits you you know, if you'd ever stop wearing those stodgy jumpers and buy some decent clothes.”
“Sherlock, why do you know what color pants I'm wearing?”
Sherlock just smirked, and ignored him. John was too embarrassed to continue the inquiry. That would teach him to ask Sherlock stupid questions, he supposed.
Blue. The sky is blue and cloudless and John winces as he cuts through the park. It is fall, and the leaves are turning, and each flash of red is a bullet through his heart. The color of blood and pain. Blood and pain. . .blood on the concrete on his face on John's hands. . .
John hates red. He hates it. His red pants have all been binned because he couldn't bear to look at them. The last thing John wants is anything passionate, nothing fast, nothing hard, nothing red. It's why he's on his way to Gail's flat. Gail, simple, domestic, easygoing Gail. She has a preference for greens and browns, which is alright.
Tonight they're just going to cuddle on the sofa and watch a movie, whatever's on, an excuse really to touch each other and be near each other and spend time. There might be sex, but John doesn't really care. His heart isn't in it any more, he just knows he can't be alone. Sherlock always needed cases to distract him. John needs touch. It is enough. Barely.
Everything is ruined when Gail answers the door in a red babydoll with matching thong. She has a sly seductive smile and John quickly replaces his shocked stare with what he hopes is an appreciative grin. There's no reason to be a berk. She couldn't have known. When she pulls him to the bedroom, John willingly goes, but he knows he'll never get an erection with her covered in red, so he quickly rips off the babydoll and throws the thong into a corner. Let her think he is overcome with lust. It's fine. It's fine. He goes down on her until the smell of sex and the hot stickiness of her cum overwhelms him and he forgets, and then he slips on a condom and does as he is expected. Gail seems satisfied and drifts off to sleep. John stares at the ceiling in the darkness for hours and when he finally sleeps he dreams of Afghanistan again, but every dead soldier is Sherlock, and the sand is red.
John doesn't work the next day, but Gail does, so it's up early. He finds the thong in the corner of the bedroom on top of his socks. I would have liked to slip this on one day, just to see if Sherlock knew, if he'd say anything, John thinks. A sad smile. Of course he would have known. John slips the thong into his pocket. What a fucked up life he is living, stealing his girlfriend's underwear to wear for his dead flatmate. Friend. Boyfriend? No, they'd never had sex. Never made love. And when John thinks about it it's like diving into a pool of fire, the antidote to his blues, except his antidote is dead and there's no point and he will drown in his cold boredom forever.
He fingers the red satin in his pocket as he walks back through the park on his way back to the flat. He hasn't moved out yet. He probably should. His therapist says it isn't healthy, and Ms. Hudson is too kind to evict him even though he can't pay the full rent on his own. Still, Sherlock's things are still there, and John can't bring himself to pack them up, to clear off the dust and pack away the man he'd loved, to banish the last trace of him from the world.
He pulls out his phone to send Sherlock a text. Nobody knows he does this.
I stole some red pants today. I think you'd like them. Meet me at the flat and I'll give you a show.
Cheeky. He'd never actually say that to Sherlock. Despite his conflicted feelings about his dead flatmate, John Watson still isn't gay. But if it would bring Sherlock back John would suck every cock in London. So he flirted with a dead man, hoping the unreality of one would make possible the other unreality of a dead man coming back to life. No one ever said the grief process was a rational one.
His spine tingles as soon as he walks into the flat. A sense of danger almost forgotten. John no longer carries his Browning. He surrendered it to Lestrade one drunken evening after admitting to suicidal fantasies. Lestrade took the gun and got him laid instead, but it was dull and grey and John barely even remembers the girl. But there is danger now and John has no weapon so he turns on the room with his arms raised ready to defend himself, completely unaware of how defenseless he is to seeing Sherlock sitting on the couch. Same blue scarf, same grey coat.
“Oh my god.” John says. “Oh my god.”
“I believe I was promised a show,” says Sherlock, grey eyes narrow, expectant.
“What? Oh my god Sherlock are you really here or have I finally lost it?”
Sherlock rises from the couch and steps into John's space. John can't move. Sherlock smells of rosemary and tobacco and the smog of London and the sense memories plunge John into the pool of fire he's been avoiding since the day Sherlock died. His penis stirs to life and he no longer cares whether he is gay or not he just knows he needs to tell Sherlock that he actually loves him before he disappears again. “Sherlock, I. . .”
“A show, John, I was promised a show.” Sherlock reaches into Johns left pocket and pulls out the thong. He dangles it in front of John's face.
“What? Is that really why you came back?”
Sherlock smirks. “Let's say yes, for now. Go on, put it on.”
John's face falls. “Sherlock, this is cruel. This isn't funny.”
“I agree,” Sherlock purrs into John's ear, “This is what makes coming back worth the risk. I know you didn't mean it. I know you've been sending me ridiculous texts since that day at St. Barts, trying to find the right miracle. Well you've found it. I'm not being cruel. I want this. I. Want. You. So, John Watson, strip now, and put on these pants, or I may take myself right back out that door to die of humiliation in the street.”
Red. John's vision turns red and before he can stop himself he has slapped Sherlock Holmes right across the face. “Don't you dare talk to me about dying in the street you insensitive prick! Don't you dare. Ever. I swear if I ever hear you say anything like that again I will beat you bloody and you should not test me on this, Sherlock, don't you dare test me, because I have seen nothing, nothing, not a thing red in this world that did not remind me of your blood on the pavement and your comment about my red pants and I can't even tell the difference between those feelings any more.”
Sherlock lifts his hand to his mouth and wipes it across. He drags blood across that perfect cupid's bow and then, god, he licks it off, tasting his own blood, never dropping his gaze from John's, knowing, because Sherlock always knows. He smiles, and John can see the blood in his teeth, and he wants, god, yes, he wants to kiss that mouth, taste his blood, make Sherlock a part of himself and safety be damned.
“Do it,” Sherlock whispers, “please.”
John grabs Sherlock's curls and yanks his head down so he can reach that mouth and cover it with his own. Sherlock tastes of metal and cigarettes and something uniquely him that John will always remember now when he sees red, the sense memory burned into his heart. His tongue licks the blood off of Sherlock's teeth, pokes down into Sherlock's lower gum where he is still bleeding, and finally pulls Sherlock's tongue into his own mouth. John drowns in the burn, his erection hard against Sherlock's coat over his thigh. Sherlock is pliant and calm and John is almost offended because he is on high alert, blood rushing in his ears, in his cock, through his racing heart. He loosens Sherlock's blue scarf and puts his other hand around Sherlock's neck, a gentle gesture that makes Sherlock shiver even though John just wanted to check his pulse. There it is, Sherlock's racing pulse, he is just as excited as John, thank god.
John pulls back and lets go of Sherlock's hair, but he keeps the other hand on that gorgeous neck, stroking gently. Sherlock sighs and does not open his eyes.
“Sherlock, look at me.”
The eyes that meet his are not familiar. They are wrecked, vulnerable, broken, scared.
“You want me. You really want me,” Sherlock says, “it wasn't just madness or desperation. You really want me.”
John shakes his head but does not stop stroking Sherlock's neck. “You're wrong. For once you are so very wrong.”
“I. . .I am?” John can see him hastily trying to rebuild the walls in his eyes, one grey emotionless brick after another.
“Very,” John says, tightening his grip on Sherlock's neck, “Because nothing describes my feelings for you better than madness and desperation. You are danger and fire and blood and pain and yes I will wear these pants for you; I will wear anything you like as long as you swear to me you will never leave me again.”
“Never,” Sherlock whispers, “never, John.”
John shoves him away with that hand on his neck and Sherlock stumbles back. “Take off your coat.”
Sherlock complies, and John undresses him one item at a time. Suit Jacket. Shirt. Belt. Shoes. Socks. Trousers. They all get tossed onto the floor until he stands there in thin navy briefs, probably silk, the Maseradi of pants, encasing a well defined penis as perfect as Sherlock himself. “Oh Sherlock, you are beautiful. Do you have any idea how many times I dreamed of you standing here, just like this, naked and waiting for me?”
“Er, no?” Sherlock says, fidgeting, clearly uncomfortable with John's examination.
“I couldn't forget you. I tried but I couldn't. And now, now I can touch you and I realize that all I ever wanted was right there in front of me and I was too much of an idiot to see it until you were gone. All I had was flashbacks and echoes, until now. Sherlock, you're back, and I love you, and all I have wanted to do since that day is tell you.”
Sherlock's eyes flash and he closes the distance between himself and John. He pushes and pulls until his hands are under John's jumper, yanking his shirt out of his trousers, hands all over John's skin, teeth on his neck, the familiar impatient Sherlock saying “Yes! Yes, John yes! Get out of these clothes, come on!”
And soon enough John is naked but for a red thong and he and Sherlock are on the floor, John on top pressing against Sherlock's thigh. The satin of the thong feels heavenly on his cock, and he could easily come this way, watching Sherlock watch him with those wide eyes that are anything but bored by John rutting against him.
“Sherlock, god, I want you,” he confesses, “but I've never done this before.”
“I've never done this with anyone,” Sherlock says, “but we have solved more difficult mysteries than this together, have we not?”
John laughs. “Yes we have.”
“Perhaps I should have done some research.”
“Frankly I'm surprised you didn't,” John says, reaching down to cup Sherlock through his pants, stroking that perfect cock through the thin blue material, then feathering gentle touches up and down the shaft as they chat.
“Ohhhhhhh,” Sherlock moans, “John.”
John slips his fingers into the waistband of Sherlock's pants and tugs them down. Down further than he anticipated because Sherlock is, of course, so very tall, his legs long and gorgeous and pale like the rest of him. John stops on the way to bite one pale thigh, leaving a bright red bitemark that he promises himself he will repeat many times despite or perhaps because of Sherlock's surprised yelp.
“I promised you a show, didn't I?” John says, tossing the pants in the general direction of the rest of their clothes.
“Well then, watch this.”
John pushes Sherlock's legs apart so he can kneel between them, then settles to his forearms near Sherlock's crotch. John's ass is in the air, and Sherlock, sitting up on his elbows, can see the tail of the thong. Sherlock's cock, fully erect, points toward his stomach, but John pulls it toward himself, gently stretching until it stands straight up, and he licks slowly from the base to the tip, which he then kisses.
Sherlock moans again. “John, I'm not going to last.”
“Shut up and enjoy your show,” John says, then lowers his mouth onto Sherlock's cock slowly, slowly, keeping his eyes locked on Sherlock's.
Another moan, and Sherlock shuts his eyes and throws his head back. John stops, lifts his head. “Sherlock,” he warns, “watch.”
“I can't!” whines Sherlock, “I think I could come just from looking into your eyes right now, and you're right that's madness!”
John sighs. Trust Sherlock to overthink this, of all things. “Look at me, Sherlock. Look me in the eyes because I need to see you too, and here I am wearing these ridiculous pants with your cock in my mouth and I am doing this all for you so the least you can do is let me see the look in your eyes when you orgasm. It is the one thing I could never figure out how to imagine in my fantasies, and I want it. Do you understand? I want it. After everything you've put me through, give me this.”
Sherlock doesn't say anything, just nods and locks eyes with John again. John smiles and returns to tonguing Sherlock's cock. He can't always maintain eye contact, but every time he looks up, there are those grey eyes, looking right back at him, more liquid every time. Sherlock was right, it doesn't take him long. John finishes him off with a deep suck and a gentle squeeze of his balls, and then Sherlock is coming into John's mouth and saying “Oh oh oh oh oh Joooooohhhhhhhhhn!” And though this is exactly what he wanted John Watson has never sucked off a man before and he is not prepared for Sherlock's load to hit the back of his throat and he coughs and gags and semen gets everywhere, all over Sherlock and all over John's face. John is a little embarrassed but he won't be denied what he asked for, so he raises his eyes and he watches Sherlock shudder through the rest of his orgasm, eyes locked on John's. When he finally stills, a few tears fall onto those sharp cheekbones, and John isn't even sure Sherlock is aware he is crying.
John crawls up Sherlock's body to lay beside him, turning his head to wipe his face on his forearm as he moves. Eye contact lost, Sherlock crumbles to bonelessness on the floor, and turns his face away.
“No no no no no!” John says, settling himself on an elbow next to Sherlock. He turns Sherlock's face back toward him. “Tell me.”
“What?” Sherlock's face is lax, his eyes foggy and glazed.
“Tell me that you love me, Sherlock Holmes.”
Sherlock's eyes sharpen, and John suddenly feels like a piece of evidence. He blushes and Sherlock smiles, but then that smile falters and disappears.
“John, without you my world was grey. There was no color, nothing worth doing, no thrill, no energy, no fire, nothing. You sent that text and I suddenly saw color again, red, red like those pants you used to wear, like your cheeks when I caught you staring, and yes, like blood and violence and pain. All of those things come together in you, and I love them all. I love red. Red is my favorite color. It is the color that brought me back to life when I thought being dead was better than wanting you with every bone in my body and not being able to have you. I thought you were better off without me. So, yes, I love you, John Hamish Watson, with all of my bloody heart, and I want red to be the first thing I see every day and the last thing I see every night, because it is also the color of love and passion and sex and you. My love for you is red, blood and sex, fire and pain, passion and violence. There is no difference, John, there never was, this is what our love is made of.”
John lets out the breath he didn't know he was holding. “Good lord, you're a post-coital poet.”
Sherlock chuckles. “It appears so. I had no way of knowing.”
They stare at each other in silence for a long moment.
“You haven't come,” Sherlock finally says.
“Oh,” says John, “No, I haven't.”
“Well let's get you out of those pants and. . .”
“No!” John grabs Sherlock by the wrist to stop him from pulling down the thong.
“What's wrong” Sherlock pouts.
“Nothing,” John smiles and rolls away, getting not so gracefully to his feet, “I just think I'd like to keep them on for a while. Tea?”
“Are you going to walk around in them all day, just to tease me?” Sherlock uses the chair to help himself stand up. John is chuffed that his legs wobble a bit.
John winks and wiggles his ass as he walks to the kitchen. “Of course I am.”
Sherlock growls and follows. He presses himself against John's backside and grips one buttock in his long fingers as John reaches for the tea above the stove. “Do you know what else is red, John Watson?”
John can't really pay attention to finding the tea. Sherlock is still sticky against his lower back and that should be disgusting but it is quite the opposite and humping the stove probably isn't safe. “No, what?”
“Your ass after a sound spanking” Sherlock purrs into his ear.
John turns around and Sherlock wraps a large hand around each of his buttocks and pulls him close. “You're crazy,” John says.
“Mad,” Sherlock corrects him, “I am quite mad.”
“We're all mad here,” John says.
“Roses,” says Sherlock.
“Another thing that is red. I think I will begin a study. Do you like roses, John?”
“Um, more than I like spankings?”
Sherlock chuckles. “I propose an experiment.”
John glares at him. “Don't you dare even try. It won't end well for you.”
“Oh, I think it will,” Sherlock whispers, “I think red is your favorite color too,” his tongue darts out to lick at the corner of his lips, where there is still a little dried blood, “so regardless of who ends up on top, I promise you it will end very well for me.”
“Are you saying that you want me to. . .”
Sherlock kisses him, and everything fades to red.