John Watson is having possibly the loveliest weekend of his existence, never mind that it’s technically Thursday.
Every so often, after a long period of working without rest or after a string of particularly difficult cases, Sherlock Holmes will stay in bed for several days and do basically nothing. This has happened twice that John knows of since they met, both times prior to the redefinition of their friendship. The first time he had been certain Sherlock had the flu, and the second he had assumed your basic falling-off-the wagon bender. But neither had been the case.
Sherlock, though frequently completely inattentive to his physical needs, is not quite so thoroughly self-destructive as he often appears. John has discovered that he actually has a finely tuned sense of when he’s pushed himself just a little too far, when he’s lost a bit too much weight, when he’s punished his body and brain so much that both are starting to rebel. His solution to this is two to four days of sleeping, eating, light reading, and absolutely no contact with the outside world.
It’s like he turns into a different person, although still entirely, unmistakably Sherlock. To see the man mellow and relaxed for more than just the time it takes for his hard drive to restart after an orgasm is both a bit shocking and totally delightful.
On Thursday morning John wakes up, as usual, in Sherlock’s bed, with the atypical addition of the detective still sprawled next to him, fast asleep. John moves to get up, trying not to disturb Sherlock, but even the slight shifting of weight on the mattress is enough.
“Where are you going?” Sherlock mumbles into his pillow, not moving.
“The usual. Shower, get dressed, we need some shopping and I promised Lestrade I’d pop round and look at something for him – strictly a medical question, he said.”
With an aggrieved sigh Sherlock rolls over and props himself up on his elbow. “Mrs. Hudson can pick up what we need – she always does her shopping on Thursdays. Lestrade can sod off. And if you don’t need to go out, there’s no reason for you to get dressed.”
“It’s gone nine, Sherlock. In the middle of the week. I think I should start my day.”
“You have started it. So have I. Just because we haven’t gotten up doesn’t mean the day hasn’t begun.”
It takes John a few moments to decipher the reason for Sherlock’s sudden insistence that he has no need to leave the house, or even the bedroom. Because the man couldn’t possibly just be simple and straightforward and say something on the order of, “John, I plan to spend the next few days in bed and I would like you stay with me for company and cuddling and possibly quite a lot of sex.”
John looks at Sherlock appraisingly, with a medical eye. There has barely been time to breathe over the past couple of months, between the drawn out and exhausting tension that led them to the place of now sharing a bed; the string of dangerous, long, and stressful cases; and both of them experiencing several somewhat significant injuries. Not to mention the time spent with Victor, which has brought up some very confusing feelings for Sherlock that John knows he must be having a hard time with, though he’d never admit it.
John bears Victor no ill will or jealousy, and has come to feel very deeply for him, but the entire trip had been hard on all three of them. Sherlock’s belated realisation of his former love for the man was still sinking in, and John can see the guilt and pain and uncertainty about himself it has caused, though Sherlock cannot.
The strain is starting to show. His face looks drawn and hollowed, with dark circles under his eyes. Sometime in the week since they’ve been home he’s dropped the crucial pound or two which takes him from slender to gaunt. And the sense of manic energy, restrained or not, which is his primary mode of operation other than sulking, is not present.
He looks tired. And in need of a meal.
“Okay,” John says finally, smiling despite his concern. “How about this? I get showered but don’t get dressed, and then I make us both an enormous breakfast that we can eat together in here. How does that sound?”
Sherlock considers the proposition gravely. “That would be acceptable,” he agrees with a yawn, sinking back down into the bedding. “Wake me when there’s food.”
The next day and a half proves to be incredibly, surprisingly wonderful. John does not normally enjoy inactivity for long periods, but spending time with Sherlock like this, to have him both still and present for more than a few moments, is unprecedented and he is not about to complain. He has enough chances to get up and stretch his legs when Sherlock is sleeping, which is often, or when he’s been ordered to prepare more food. Sherlock is consuming huge portions of anything rich, fatty, or sweet he can get, and it warms John’s heart to watch him eat heartily.
Sherlock only rises to bathe and to change the sheets a few times – he remains fastidiously clean even in his laziness. He sleeps naked, having told John that the feel of elastic or any binding fabric against his skin at night is painful and distracting and the only things bearable are his high-thread count linens. His only concession to clothing now is to throw on a dressing gown when he gets up. John doesn’t mind this in the least, although he sticks to pyjama bottoms and t-shirt for lounging purposes.
Sherlock, wearing nothing but a red silk dressing gown, barely tied, padding across the room with long, white legs visible as he moves, his hair an attractively tangled mess, makes John’s heart beat fast even when he’s just spent the past hour making love to him. He must know how much raw sexual attraction he exudes. He just doesn’t care most of the time, which makes it even harder to resist.
Of course the time in bed is far from completely idle. Sherlock has a high and energetic libido even at the worst of times. His expressions of desire usually fall somewhere among one of three forms: the experimental, in which he sets about collecting data and esoteric facts about one or both of them during sex – from the exact heart rate at climax to the comparative levels of pleasure received from each of three carefully selected positions; the animalistic, which occurs after cases when both are on an adrenaline high or when Sherlock is in need of an outlet for his lust or frustration or some other thing, raw need and passion resulting in erotically rough and desperate sex, as well as occasional damage of bodies and/or property (or when they are both just extremely horny, which is often); and, finally, the gentle but needy, when Sherlock needs to communicate or understand something he can’t express, or if they’ve had a row, so that Sherlock can feel that everything is all right or apologise without having to say anything or even simply try and show John what’s going through his head and divine what’s going through John’s. John fully enjoys each of these, and has no objections to any of it.
But what is happening now is not quite any of those things. In the same way that Sherlock has given himself permission to rest and ignore cases for a few days, he also seems to have allowed himself room to indulge in anything else he wants to do. Which seems to be, mainly, John. Not that Sherlock normally holds back, but there’s something different about this.
He’s soft and mild, like he’s tamed himself for John, confident in the fact that John will not try to keep him this way, that he can go back to the wild at any time. But for a brief time he wants nothing more than to be doted on and petted, to give affection and absorb every scrap of it John is willing to give him.
He is not looking for data or high thrills or even reassurance now. He’s just luxuriating in having John constantly within arms reach and in a state of undress, with nowhere to go, for hours and hours at a time. He seems to be in it for the unadulterated pleasure of slow and repeated lovemaking with the only person he trusts enough to allow that close to him, for a brief span happy and content with no other thoughts troubling his mind.
John has never experienced something like this, with Sherlock or really anyone else. Sometimes it is hard for John to tell how much he means to Sherlock on a daily basis. He knows it, of course, but it can be difficult to remember in the middle of a case or when Sherlock is sulking or insulting him. But right now there is no such problem. Sherlock is being so obviously desirous, so tenderly playful and solicitous, that even the most irrational parts of John’s mind have no room to doubt.
It feels not so much like a series of discrete encounters as a single, endless tryst, punctuated only by brief forays to attend to other needs; a constant state of languid arousal, ebbing and flowing but never really going away. Moving from half-asleep touching and fondling, to long investigations of each other’s bodies with gentle hands and lips, to sweet and lazy sessions of getting one another off in every possible way and position that doesn’t involve feet on the floor, to two straight hours of nothing but kissing, and back again.
John wouldn’t have thought it was possible to enjoy just kissing for that long, nor that Sherlock would be interested in such a thing except as an experiment, but it appears that he’s just enjoying trying to take John apart with his mouth for its own sake. Which John finds incredibly erotic. He surrenders himself to the experience, all of it, determined to not let this rare chance go to waste in any way.
He suspects this is how Sherlock is restoring himself emotionally after extreme prolonged stress, as the sleep and food are repairing him physically. John is also in need of rest and refreshment, far more so than he had thought, as focused on Sherlock’s wellbeing as he had been. This is certainly doing the trick. Sherlock may not view it as a much needed time of bonding and reaffirmation, but as he has just spent the better part of two days going over his friend so thoroughly that there is no chance he’s missed even a micrometre of John’s body, he wouldn’t have much luck denying it either.
John and Sherlock lie somewhat tangled on the bed on Friday afternoon, still naked, anaemic late autumn sun streaming in through the window. Both are quite recently satisfied and rather spent, though by no means down for the count. John is running his hand over the inside of Sherlock’s thigh, eyes closed, while Sherlock has his legs over John’s chest and is dangling his head upside down off the edge of the bed.
John uses the time to recall some of the more pleasurable of many exceedingly pleasurable moments they have enjoyed over the past thirty-six hours.
Sherlock on top of John, tongues so deep and entwined it’s a miracle either of them can breathe, pressed together, both finally coming from nothing but the friction of their bodies against each other. Spooning around Sherlock and running hands over every muscle and bone and scar on the front of his body, setting a new record for time, face buried in his curls and existing for what feels like hours in that intimacy and pure bliss before finally tumbling over the edge. Ensconcing himself between Sherlock’s legs and licking deep, deep within him until all Sherlock can do is grip John’s hair and whisper his name.
“Mmm, yes, that one was particularly lovely,” the detective’s deep voice purrs. “I think I may owe you for that.”
John opens his eyes. “How on earth did you know what I was thinking about?”
“Your body tenses unconsciously in very specific ways when you’re contemplating sex, depending on exactly what act you’re thinking of and whether you have just done it or would like to do it. Your breathing and body temperature indicated you were being turned on by something already done, most like very recently, and the sympathetic clenching of your—”
“All right!” John cuts him off, both embarrassed and pleased. “I should never have doubted you.”
It’s disconcerting when Sherlock reads his mind like that, but also a sign of how well he knows John, the amount of time he’s spent devoted to learning John when he could have been doing something else. It’s the things like that which keep John from ever wanting anything different, even when Sherlock is at his worst.
He can feel Sherlock’s satisfied smirk and grins too. He allows his hand to drift upward and is rewarded by Sherlock’s own change of breathing and body temperature. “Sherlock?”
“Do you mind if I ask…how do you make this work?”
Sherlock lifts his head and shifts backwards a little so he is entirely back on the bed and can see John. “As a doctor I assumed you were aware of the physical and chemical reactions involved in a wide range of sexual activities, between both same and opposite sex couples, but if you need an explanation…”
“Pretentious wanker. I mean…this. The relaxing, the not worrying about cases. I’ve seen you take your pistol to the drywall over an afternoon of boredom and shoot up enough cocaine to make an elephant attempt bobsledding after a couple of days without work. It’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, I definitely encourage this behaviour as much and as often as you like… I’m just surprised you aren’t driving yourself insane yet.”
Sherlock gives him the look that says “obvious” without having to risk saying it. “Because this is what I’m doing now. Not working when I should be working is unacceptable. My brain needs distraction, simulation, and to have that denied is painful. But right now both my brain and my body require rest and endorphins and sustenance before they can work at peak efficiency again, so I am doing exactly what I should be doing: thus the lack of insanity. Unless my current impulse to have my fingers inside of you while sucking you off as slowly as I can manage is a sign of mental instability…”
That suggestion sounds perfectly lucid to John, although Sherlock’s overall sanity is always up for debate. But John isn’t thinking about that right now, he’s thinking about large hands and the long white fingers of a concert violinist and a set of perfectly bowed lips wrapping around him.
John is surprised how quickly this brief description is able to make him hard again, but he decides not to question it and pulls the taller man over to him, wrapping his arms around him and beginning to ravish the elegant neck while he throws a leg over Sherlock’s hip, forcing them tight against each other. He’s just about to reach a hand between them when there is a sudden gasp from the hall.
“Boys!” screeches Mrs. Hudson, covering her eyes. “I’ve spoken you to about locking the door if you’re going to be…indisposed for company!”
John turns bright crimson and scrambles to cover himself and Sherlock, who seems completely undeterred by their landlady’s presence.
“We’re very sorry Mrs. Hudson, I thought we had, it won’t happen again.”
“It wouldn’t happen at all if you didn’t constantly wander in here without asking,” Sherlock snaps.
“Sherlock!” John reprimands.
“If I didn’t ‘wander in’ here all the time, this place would never be clean and you’d never have fresh food in, but if you’re tired of that I am happy to not be your housekeeper. Especially as I’m not your housekeeper!”
Mrs. Hudson rarely gets truly angry with Sherlock, but given the sight she must have just been treated to as well as Sherlock’s general dickery of the moment, a line has clearly been crossed. She puts up with a lot, and never more since they’ve moved their friendship into the physical realm. Between unlocked doors, late night activities John was sure set the whole house to shaking, and Sherlock occasionally attacking him in the entry way (because the time it would take to walk up a set of steps and ten feet of corridor is and intolerable period to wait) she must be finding it quite a trial.
“Mrs. Hudson, again, so sorry! What Sherlock means to say is that we really appreciate all the things you do for us and we will be very, very careful in the future to not um… impose our personal life upon you by accident. And to say sorry. Don’t you, Sherlock?”
Sherlock scowls at John and sighs, but finally says. “Apologies, Mrs. Hudson.”
She nods, placated. “I mean, not that I don’t think it’s brilliant that you’ve sorted it all out, but there are some things I don’t need to actually see…”
“Thank you, Mrs Hudson,” Sherlock says and she looks annoyed again.
“Hmph. Well, I’ve only come to tell you that there’s a gentleman downstairs who says he has an urgent matter for you. Thank heaven I didn’t bring him straight up! He seems quite worked up… what should I say to him?”
Sherlock hesitates and John can practically see his brain spark with the possibility of a case, the excitement back in his eyes. But after a long pause he says. “We’re not seeing clients today, Mrs. Hudson. Tell him to come back tomorrow after noon. And lock the door on your way out if you don’t mind, thanks ever so much.”
When she’s gone, Sherlock immediately turns his attention back to John, who holds him off. “Sherlock… if you want to take that case now, it’s fine with me.”
And it is, he realises, even though he’s loathe to let go of these moments before he has to. Sherlock in motion and on the hunt is just as appealing as Sherlock in bed without clothes. Sometimes more.
Sherlock looks at him in surprise. “John, I told you, this is what I’m doing now. That is what I will be doing tomorrow,” he tells him, as if it should make perfect sense. “Unless you are tired of this and want to investigate on your own?”
John barely has time to say, “Not remotely,” before Sherlock has dragged him back down to the bed, and then it is a very long time before he needs to say anything else at all.
Sherlock doesn’t appear in any rush to break the spell the next morning, lying in until nearly ten and then dragging John to the shower with him and proceeding to shove him up against the tile and fuck him very deliberately until they are nearly out of hot water.
This is one of John’s favourite things and Sherlock knows it. This is how he is showing gratitude for John agreeing to stay with him and cooking for him and sustaining him in other ways. John sometimes wonders if Sherlock would be able to communicate properly at all if he and John never touched.
“That was nice,” John says, towelling himself off. “And when I say ‘nice’…”
“When you’re warm like that you look like a heat lamp in a sauna.” Sherlock smiles, but John can see his mood is starting to change already, his mind ramping up, his body no longer soft and boneless. He looks worlds better than he had a couple days ago. What little colour he ever shows has returned, he seems to have gained at least half a stone, and he appears refreshed and alert.
By the time they have both eaten and dressed and are waiting for the potential client to appear, Sherlock is entirely back to his usual self, albeit the most cheerful and excited version of it.
John’s a little sad to see their impromptu dirty weekend go, but relieved as well. That Sherlock might be easier to deal with, but John wouldn’t want to him stay like that all the time and the thought that he ever might was unsettling. He was best like this, and they were best together.
It’s barely a tick past noon when they hear the bell and the sound of Mrs. Hudson letting in their guest. A short, nervous-looking man with a shock of the reddest hair John has ever seen enters, hyperventilating. Before John can even stand to greet him or offer him some water he bursts out in a rush of words, “Oh, thank God! I think someone is planning to kill me!” and collapses in a heap on their sitting room floor.