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John cleans his teeth, leaning against the wall, lost in thought.

He'd made Sherlock laugh, there at the end of the night—a full-bodied thing that rang on and on and filled the lounge. The joy in Sherlock's eyes had been bright and blinding and John still feels it sitting like an ember in his chest. The happiness spreads warmly out his arms and up into his throat, glee that overflows its banks and forces him to spit out a mouthful of toothpaste and grin into the basin. He can't breathe for a moment, and he couldn't force it all back down even if he wanted to, so with a quick rinse of his mouth and brush he gives up on finishing and leaves the bathroom.

He must look completely barmy, he thinks, stopping in the empty lounge on his way upstairs. Sherlock is in his bedroom with the door closed but the lounge remains heavy with his presence; it's filled with the joy of a case well solved and the whiskey-flavoured celebration of remaining unscathed. John takes a deep, slow, breath. The smile on his face stretches ear to ear as he steps up the staircase to his room and goes to bed.

The chill hanging in the air makes him shiver, and he rubs his feet between the sheets with brisk, friction-warm movements. He settles in and snuggles down and, lying in the quiet pre-dawn dark, lets himself be filled to the brim with quiet joy.

He remembers Sherlock's expression when John had made an off-colour quip about the close of the case. His eyes had gleamed, soft with pleasure, and scrunched up closed as he tilted his head back and laughed at the ceiling. John has always liked the way Sherlock's face changes shape with laughter, the way his eyes crinkle and the creases reach down into his cheeks. It's beautiful.

John is surprised by the thought and also by the pang of missing him. He's just downstairs, but with an ache that stretches down his limbs John again desperately wishes Sherlock were there, warming up his cold bed, shifting the mattress, stealing the covers, breathing. He'd like to fight over the duvet with Sherlock, he thinks. It makes him chuckle out loud. Sherlock could probably throw an elbow but John is wily. They both would enjoy that.

The craving steals over him with tidal force. He wants Sherlock here, now. He needs him. He wishes he were surprised about that, but the only thing he's surprised about is how it took so long for the desire to coalesce.

John turns over in bed and drapes his arm across the empty space and imagines. He can feel the warmth of Sherlock's body under his arm, smell his soft skin, feel his weight leaning along John's front, and when John dares focus on reality the absence is startlingly painful. The need is intense. The want, it hurts like a bruise. It feels empty without Sherlock here.

Oh god. Yes. this is really what he's feeling, so strongly it chokes him.

The emotion roils through his blood.

Oh, Sherlock.

John's chest is tight. If you were here, you would roll towards me and lay your fingertips on the side of my face. We would look at each other with the very same affection we shared earlier tonight. Then you would kiss me, so slowly. And I would kiss you back.

The fantasy is so affecting it pulls a whimper from John's throat.

He imagines it, imagines the kiss pulling his heart from his chest and out his mouth, imagines a glowing hot red ball of light passing from his mouth to Sherlock's, imagines the needy noise Sherlock would make being kissed lovingly, tenderly, perhaps for the first time in his life.

Love?

The realisation rocks him and he makes a pained noise into the empty room. Christ, Sherlock, I love you so much. Oh my god. How did he not know? How had he hidden this from himself for so damn long?

He's breathing as if he's been running. The emotion wrenches something deep in his chest.

In his mind, he's lying with his front to Sherlock's back. He strokes his hand up the front of Sherlock's throat, and Sherlock stretches his chin up to bare his neck. John imagines he can feel the heave of Sherlock's chest under his elbow, and hear it, and it awakens something sympathetic in him that makes his heart race. He huffs out a breath and moans quietly. He imagines pressing slow kisses out along Sherlock's shoulder, the tenderness and affection for this sleepy man in his arms coming in almost overwhelming waves of emotion. He'd press his forehead against Sherlock's neck and just try to keep breathing through it.

Oh my god.

He traces his fingers in the air up to Sherlock's face and can imagine his lips there, warm and dry and chapped and soft. Fleshy. Thick. If he slips one inside Sherlock's mouth it feels wet and soft, his teeth even and rounded. John thinks about how much he loves Sherlock's teeth, how they look so incongruous with the rest of Sherlock's lean, angular form. It's rare to see them. It's like a gift, a gift of Sherlock’s true self, laughing open-mouthed and shining at John. He abruptly feels a pang of love so strong it hurts. How can he not have realised? What else has he been deluding himself about this whole time?

He imagines sliding his hand down Sherlock's chest, and with the gift of imagination can extrapolate what it would feel like to have that smooth chest under his fingers. His chest is less peppered with scar tissue than John's, but also finer, firmer. Sherlock has little hair on his chest, so his skin is smooth and uninterrupted as John glides his palm down Sherlock's sternum to his stomach to his…to his cock.

It would be different to touch another man's cock. Must be. John wonders if Sherlock's cock is long and lean like the rest of his body, if it's small when soft, if it curves or juts out straight, if it feels as heavy when he's aroused as John's does right at that moment.

There is a brief flash of surprise when John pulls out of the reverie just enough to find he's hard as hell. He rolls to his stomach to grind his erection against the sheets and imagine it's Sherlock's arse, but the cotton is a bit too rough and it ruins the fantasy. John slides his hand down so instead of feeling his sheets he feels the warm flesh of his palm. After a moment, with circulation cut off he can almost completely ignore the signal from his hand, so it feels as if his cock is now rocking against Sherlock's lower back, just above the crack of his arse, pressing and riding. He could slip it down between Sherlock's cheeks so damn easily. John groans into his pillow. He wonders if fucking a man's arse is anything like fucking a woman's. He wonders if Sherlock would even want that. He's unsure. This whole fantasy is putting the cart before the horse, in fact. He hasn't even told Sherlock he loves him yet.

He's in love. Being in love usually feels good, but this time it's world-shatteringly intense. He doesn't think he's ever been so emotionally intimate with someone before a relationship started. Truth be told, he doesn't think he's ever been this emotionally intimate with anyone, ever. It's a rush, though, and the joy and fresh blush of it are so blinding they nearly drown out the terror. This is Sherlock, who has always been categorised as something else to John, something special, and that reason is why the prospect of loving him is both mind-shutteringly terrifying and heart-stoppingly elating. This could either be the best thing in his entire life or the worst thing that could possibly happen. It's all down to Sherlock.

John blinks and his eyelashes catch against the pillowcase. Sweat has gathered against John's belly and hand as he lay there, and this time when he curls his fingers and rolls his hips his cock slides stutteringly but pleasingly, flesh against flesh. John presses his face into his pillow and moans. Oh Sherlock. John starts to thrust against his hand slowly, over and over, and his mind begins to spin out scenarios.

It starts out as he'd envisioned before, with Sherlock pinned beneath him, rutting against the smooth skin just above Sherlock's arse and feeling Sherlock's shifting muscles as he in turn grinds his own cock into the mattress in order to reach his own release. It's something animalistic, mammalian, warm skin and sweat and grunting and writhing. And in the fantasy Sherlock has turned his head sideways and is panting out words.

"Oh John, yes. Fuck. Unngh, yes, I can feel you. Please John, push harder. Push harder and come.” He groans. “I want you to come on my back."

In the fantasy this feels so good John bites down on Sherlock's shoulder, and then suddenly Sherlock is face-up and writhing, and each roll of John's hips is a thrust deep inside. It's not slick like a woman, but it's still wet and close and hot and it makes Sherlock tremble. His face contorts. For a moment John spends some time flicking through his mental lexicon of Sherlock's expressions to find one that most approximates what John thinks he looks like while getting fucked, and he settles on the one that transforms his face when he's just slapped on three nicotine patches. John thrusts against his hand, fucks into Sherlock and already he can feel his balls drawing up in preparation for orgasm. He imagines Sherlock's hand on himself, twisting his palm in circles around the head and making plaintive noises with the intensity of it.

"You want to come?" John imagines asking him, and relishes the desperate nod Sherlock makes with his eyes closed. "Want to know what it feels like to come with my cock inside you?" Sherlock moans, and John entertains the concept for a moment. What would it feel like? The last time he tried coming with a finger inside himself it felt amazing—an automatic pulsing, a squeezing as the muscles contracted repeatedly with orgasm. He wants to feel that with his cock.

John rolls over and fumbles for the bottle of lube in the bedside table. He stays on his back to pull slickly from the base to the head, shuddering.

He imagines Sherlock's larger, deft, long-fingered hands would envelop his cock more thoroughly, and there's barely any shame in the thought as it rides on the back of how much more sensation that would elicit. John brings his free hand and tugs at his balls as he jerks himself, and the look he dreams up for Sherlock's face is almost humorous. He's studying John as if looking at a thing to be dissected, zeroing in all his attention on the reactions his hands are causing on John's body. John bends his knees up then shoves his heels down the duvet, accidentally shovelling it to the floor as he arches his back and lifts his hips off the bed, pushing further into his hands.

"Yes, John," he imagines Sherlock hissing. "Look at you."

John rolls his head back and forth on the pillow, pleasure building tighter and tighter. Then he rocks up and it's into Sherlock's body again; Sherlock is now straddling him, thighs to either side of John's hips, and it takes little effort for John to see Sherlock's lithe torso bare above him, undulating with the rhythm of John's hips as Sherlock rides him with an expression of perfect bliss. It’s the look when the pieces all slide into place in Sherlock's brain and he's solved the case, and John hazily supposes that to Sherlock they might be nearly the same thing.

Sherlock's spine rolls as he grinds down onto John's cock, and then both his hands are on his own body. One is wandering over his chest and belly, pinching a nipple, teasing the skin at the base of his throat, but the other is stroking delicately at his cock, pushing at the retracted foreskin and painting slick circles on the head with his fingertips. It's dark red, flushed, shiny, and the longer he plays with himself the darker it gets. The imagined sensations mix up in John's head—Sherlock's fingertips on his own cock, and the tight fire of fucking up into him—and it lights off the fuse in John's brain.

"Oh yes," he gasps, feeling it just behind his balls. He imagines Sherlock moaning, imagines the attention Sherlock is paying to his cock doubling, tripling, until he's kneading his balls and pulling a hard fist from root to tip and back again, all the while rocking himself back and forth on John's cock in unabashed pleasure. "Are you going to—"

Sherlock nods, jaw tight, and John shoves up harder to watch Sherlock's mouth fall open and hear him cry out. John imagines his cock slapping against Sherlock's prostate as he pushes in and Sherlock rocks his hips, and he does it again and again and again. They fall into an instant, insistent, rhythm. Sherlock is shouting to bring the walls down and John's orgasm has just drawn up like a burning knot when he can feel Sherlock begin to come. It happens a split second before he sees it, a tightening that hits just before Sherlock's hands grip hard and he convulses with pleasure, ejaculating a thick stripe of come all over his stomach and fingers. At the sight of it, something inside John squeezes with shocking arousal and he arches off the bed, wrung by a massive orgasm that steals his breath and curls his toes into the sheets. He breathes out a silent cry and shakes. Absently, he can feel Sherlock's come landing on his chest as they both ride out their impossibly-long climaxes.

When John floats back to himself he's panting and alone. The semen on his chest is his, and when he realises this he swallows hard in anticipation of the crushing wave of disappointment that follows a good sexual fantasy. But it doesn't come. Instead, he imagines Sherlock collapsing on top of him, cuddling up with his head on John's chest, purring like a self-satisfied cat. John would like to run his fingers through Sherlock's curls, to press his face to them and breathe deeply, to feel the delight of Sherlock's presence and keen joy of loving him.

But he's sleepy, probably both of them are, and he gives himself a desultory wipe with a tissue before curling up onto his side and imagining spooning up behind a dozing Sherlock.

"I love you," he breathes against Sherlock's neck, and feels more than hears that low chuckle of his. Sherlock grasps John's hand down at their sides and pulls it to his front, wrapping John's arm around him and hugging it to his chest.

"Sleep," John imagines Sherlock whisper. John is wrung out enough to do as he's told. He nuzzles down into his pillow and decides—already just about asleep—that tomorrow he'll find a way to tell Sherlock he loves him. Tomorrow. He'll tell him all about it tomorrow.

Chapter Text

John blinks awake slowly. There's an electric feeling in the air, thrumming underneath his skin, and he doesn't want to move in case it dissipates. He lays there for long minutes and lets his brain skitter from thought to thought, lightly dancing on the topmost level of consciousness, hoping the delicious dream he'd been having would come into focus. But it doesn't, not much more than a vague concept of happiness and completion, so he hums and stretches his limbs out slowly, feeling the frisson of anticipation increase as his brain spins faster into wakefulness.

He shifts and his morning erection pushes against the sheets, and suddenly John remembers last night: the conclusion of the case, Sherlock's laughter, John's fantasies, the stunning revelation. He brushes his hand up his chest and feels the dried come, and his cock twitches with memory.

It doesn't take a breath of a thought before John's hand is stroking, his heels skittering against the sheet as he writhes. He feels no shame as his eyelids flutter, only pleasure, only the lingering happiness of his dream, and he slides his hand on his cock with his mouth falling open. He gasps.

He imagines Sherlock sitting next to him in bed, reaching over with a lascivious grin to take over the stroking, his large hand bumping the top sheet on each pull.

"Good morning, John," he hears Sherlock rumbling. He wonders how Sherlock's voice changes when he's aroused. He wonders if Sherlock would be aroused by this, then imagines him naked, sitting cross-legged on the bed, his own erection jutting proudly from a nest of curls. The image makes John's cock throb.

Sherlock jerks at John all through it. "Mmm," he says, then flicks his thumb over the tip. John twitches and moans with pleasure. His toes curl. "This seems a nice way to wake up."

"Coming on my stomach again? Earning myself a shower?"

Sherlock gets an expression of mischief. "Yes," he says, and John bites his lower lip at the sight. Sherlock would take that reaction as a suggestion, John decides, and suddenly Sherlock is using his off hand to masturbate at the same time, matching his hand on John stroke for stroke. The image is shocking, exciting, and John feels his balls tighten.

"Are you going to come first?" he gasps out.

"No. Together," Sherlock says. John starts rolling his hips into his hand, buttocks tensing over and over and over, feeling his muscles burn.

In his mind's eye he watches Sherlock's hand speed up and then freeze as he convulses, the first spasm striping across John's chest and upper arm, the second hitting his nipple. The look on Sherlock's face is shocking, excruciating bliss drawing his features long and stark and angelic. Then Sherlock groans as the pleasure spreads through his blood, and the imagined noise is too much.

The first twitch of orgasm clenches behind John's balls with brutal force and he shoves up into his hand as it twists him fully, hitting like a freight train. Semen hits his chin and he arches into the bed, back bowed, mouth dropped wide with a silent cry. His hips kick and jerk, and his arm thrashes out wide so he can grip the headboard and hold onto reality. Bliss pulses through him with decreasing strength as his orgasm wanes. The expression he imagines on Sherlock's face is heartbreaking and adoring.

He's panting when he comes back to himself. Now he absolutely needs a shower, once he can feel his limbs. But for the moment he just lays there getting his breath back, letting the effervescent pleasure spark through his veins as the semen cools on his skin.

"Hmm." John imagines Sherlock's hum of thought breaking through his consciousness as John drifts off, nearly asleep again. The corner of John's mouth quirks as he feels a forefinger dragging through the mess on his stomach, as he conjures up behind his eyelids a crystal-clear image of Sherlock's tiny smirk, familiar as breathing. Sherlock appears to be planning something amusing and holding it back for himself, and John doesn't have to wait long to find out what. Sherlock reaches and smears the come all around on John's torso, dragging his fingers through it, rubbing it in until it's tacky. Sherlock chuckles. It’s not a stretch to think Sherlock would take joy in creating a mess and not having to clean it up, and then John is struck with wondering if Sherlock would also feel the same stab of desire John feels, the visceral satisfaction of coming onto a partner and smearing it in. John can see it, can feel the flush of power as he comes all over Sherlock’s face and chest, and he groans aloud. The image is hot as fuck, but for the moment he's spent, exhausted, and overly aware of the press of the day ahead, wondering with a thrill of nerves what Sherlock has planned and whether he'd have time for a chat.

So he drags himself out of bed. He throws on a dressing gown over his filthy, sticky body, and is about to leave for the bath when the fullest idea of Sherlock draws him up short.

Oh, fuck.

Sherlock.

He's in love with Sherlock.

*********

He makes his way to the bathroom in a bit of a daze. John doesn't encounter the man on the way, thankfully; while he doesn't expect Sherlock would know just what John had been thinking of during his morning wank, he'd certainly recognise that there had been one. Hell, John suspects anyone with half a brain would have been able to tell, and this suspicion is borne out by a glance in the mirror over the sink. He looks shagged out, debauched beyond all reason for such a time of day and state of solitude, and John prods at his flushed cheeks and tousled hair with a bemused smirk before stepping on wobbly legs into the shower.

He's scrubbing the layers of dried come off his torso, feeling distinctly like a teenager, when his brain conjures up a new image.

"Give me that," he imagines Sherlock saying as he snatches the flannel from John's hands and adds more shower gel. "You're doing it wrong."

The idea makes John chuckle. Then the laugh fades as Sherlock's hands run all over him, washing and stroking. Sherlock wouldn't miss an inch. He'd be very thorough. John hums aloud and Sherlock washes John's shoulders and arms and torso, down John's legs, between his toes and into his arches, and then scrubs more soap into the thatch of hair around John's cock. He half wishes he could get another erection because it would be nice to have Sherlock down on his knees at John's feet, lush mouth perfect for fucking, there and hot and ready for John to come down his throat, but he's not a young man anymore and he'll have to be patient.

The image of Sherlock is still arousing though, even if only in his head. Aroused, too; Sherlock stands up from his kneeling position and he's already hard again, shower water dripping from dark curls and running in rivulets down his cock.

He's hard enough his foreskin is retracted—would Sherlock have been circumcised? It doesn't seem likely—and his cock stands out dark red against the ivory of Sherlock's skin. It's brazen, that colour, drawing the eye to it. John thinks it looks like it aches.

"It does," Sherlock says, and hisses as he drags his fingertips up the underside. His cock twitches with stimulation. "This is what you do to me." John watches Sherlock run his fingertips all over the head, water and pre-come making it shiny.

"I turn you on?"

"You make me desperate," Sherlock says from under lowered brow. His dark fringe drips into his eyes. "I could have just come and I'd want you again already."

"You did just come," John points out.

"And already I want you again." Sherlock smirks.

"Your logic is unassailable." John watches Sherlock flick his thumb back and forth across his frenulum, eyelids fluttering with pleasure. "Are you going to have a wank now?"

"What do you think I'm doing, John?"

"Dawdling."

"Wrong."

"Leave it to you to spite me even in my head."

Sherlock pulls a face. "You're enjoying the show, and that's all that matters. This is all for you." Sherlock closes his eyes and continues lazily to play with himself.

John rolls his eyes and washes his hair.

He rinses the shampoo out and wipes the water from his eyes, then stands for a few moments to conjure the image of Sherlock wanking again.

"Are you going to get on with it?" he asks.

In answer, Sherlock nods, chest heaving, full hand moving quickly. He puts a hand out against the side of the shower to brace himself.

"The water's going to run cold in a moment," John says.

Sherlock would consider that some sort of a challenge, John imagines. So Sherlock bites his lip at him and commences with the most ridiculous pantomime of a porn scene John has ever seen in—well, not in real life, as this isn't technically real life, but watching the image conjured up and overlayed onto the shower tiles looks real enough that John is stifling a giggle and also quite beginning to regret that earlier wank. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, he thinks, holding his limp cock in hand and imagining Sherlock's panto turn abruptly serious.

Sherlock is still propping himself up against the side of the shower, one arm pressed high, tension in his shoulders. The other is a slick blur on his cock, water running over his deltoid and down off his elbow, droplets spraying, the tension in Sherlock's muscles cording in his dripping forearm and causing his breath to puff in his lungs.

Sherlock's hand speeds. Then suddenly his knees buckle, he clutches hard at his cock, and John watches Sherlock come. He spasms and his jaw falls slack with pleasure, and John's heart rate spikes at the vision of Sherlock standing there frozen with tension as he ejaculates long spurts over his hand and his foot and the shower floor. John fantasises that Sherlock shoots wide and paints a ribbon down the front of John's thigh and John shivers. His cock gives a pathetic throb in his hand.

"Oh yessssss," he imagines Sherlock groaning, and then Sherlock steps in close, so close their fronts are touching. John can almost feel the smoothness of Sherlock's skin, the surface chill from being outside the spray too long, and the visceral arousal when Sherlock slides his come-slicked hand around John's back and starts rubbing it into John's buttock.

"We could be so filthy," he imagines Sherlock growling against his mouth, the words rolling out across his tongue slowly, gravel and tar and honey. John is panting, arousal flooding him in a sudden rush. "We could do such filthy things, you and I. Fucking underneath my coat out in an alley while the rain pours down. Sucking each other off and kissing the come out of each others' mouths. I could fuck myself on your fingers during a long, boring, taxi ride," Sherlock continues, and John's refractory period must nearly over because he's throbbing and finally, finally, beginning to get hard again. "Think of all the things you want to do to me," Sherlock says.

"Everything," John says, and he presses the palm of his free hand to his face. He's holding his cock lightly in the cage of his fingers, feeling it twitch itself erect little by little. John envisions fucking Sherlock in the shower until the tiny bathroom rings with Sherlock’s moans, envisions Sherlock dropping to his knees and swallowing John down while staring up into his eyes the whole time, envisions gasping into each other's mouths as they kiss and grind against each other, hands pulling at cocks until they groan their joint completion.

John's brain is humming with thoughts of sex, and his blood feels hot and wrong and backward. He jerks himself while pretending he's jerking Sherlock until he comes like a sneeze, quick and sudden and a little like being turned inside out.

When he's finished his skin is still a bit itchy with dissatisfaction. John slumps against the shower wall to catch his breath and becomes aware of a definite ache starting in his chest. He notices it in a strangely objective way, parted from it one degree, and it takes him nearly a minute of scrutiny to realise that this, too, is a symptom of missing Sherlock. It's only been since last night that he's seen him, but the new flush of hormones is making it seem longer. The cravings are strong and certain. John would like to be wrapped up in Sherlock's arms. He sighs quietly. He wants to lean against Sherlock in his post-orgasmic haze and exist together, breath and blood, two beings in it together. A united force against the world. A united force. In love.

John takes in a shuddering breath and lets it out slowly, and on cue the water runs cold. He turns it off and stands there for a long moment, dripping and bereft.

*********

He can't really stomach the thought of breakfast. He stares into the refrigerator for nearly two minutes hoping that something appetising will spontaneously appear on one of their designated food-safe shelves, but when nothing does he closes the door and turns to stare into the cupboards.

Eventually he gives up and peers around the corner to Sherlock's room. The door is open, light off, and John realises he's doing the same thing he was doing in the kitchen: staring and hoping something would appear. But Sherlock isn't any more likely to manifest than an already-cooked full English, and John checks his mobile for the twelfth time that morning. It's still the same text he’d found when he left the bathroom.

Off doing research. -SH

Well, John thinks, at least he's left a note this time. He sighs and stares mindlessly into the fridge once more.

John sits down with dry toast, barely expecting to eat it but assuaging himself with an effort. His stomach is roiling with nerves and a low-level hum of arousal. Setting the plate aside, John lays his fingers between his brows and presses. It's not a headache, per se, but something uncomfortable is brewing in his head.

He leans back and takes a deep, steadying breath. He blows it out toward the ceiling.

The floor near the sofa creaks and John imagines Sherlock frowning at him from his prayer pose. He's wearing his pyjamas and dressing gown and flops over onto his side to stare at John with greater ease.

"John. What is wrong with you."

John supposes that even in his head Sherlock is bound to be a bit of a tosser. Wishful thinking doesn't really spread that far.

"I have a headache," John would say. "I think."

"You think?"

"I'm not sure."

Sherlock is suddenly kneeling at John's feet now, peering up at him. John doesn't move under the scrutiny. He doesn't even tilt his head back down. What does it matter, anyway? This is in his imagination. Sherlock doesn't actually need to see his face, and staring at the ceiling seems to feel just a little bit better.

"What is wrong with you?" Sherlock says.

John sighs and gives up. "I'm in love with you," he says, frowning at Sherlock. "Okay? Which is a fact I'm not exactly comfortable with, no matter how my libido seems to be taking notice."

Sherlock's frown morphs easily into a full scowl. "What do you mean you're not comfortable with it? Why not?"

"Because, Sherlock, you're a bit of a prat."

The scowl freezes that way. "I am not."

In his head, John lets out a disbelieving bark of laughter. "Oh you're not?"

"No."

"Sherlock, you're one of the biggest bloody prats I know. As far as I know, when you find out you could be horrible to me about this."

Sherlock's childish pout is just as entertaining in John's head as it is in real life. "I won't be."

"How do I know?"

"I'm telling you."

"Sherlock, you're IMAGINARY. You're in my head. You're basically the embodiment of wishful thinking."

For a few seconds, Sherlock stares at him. Then he says quietly, "You know me, John."

John huffs a laugh. "Too right I do."

"You've got to know that I feel things for you in return."

"Sure, Sherlock. Sure I do. I just don't know what they are. Ownership? An overwhelming urge to groom?"

Sherlock surges up to take John's face in both hands and captures his mouth in a slow, wet, open-mouthed kiss that shoots a thrill of adrenaline down to John's core. Abruptly his heart is thudding in his chest.

John imagines Sherlock kissing him softly, a gentle press of lips and tongue over and over, no less heartfelt for all that it is leisurely and quiet. John tilts his head to deepen the kiss and Sherlock makes a whining noise that causes John's stomach to flip.

It is like exorcising something, John thinks. It's like pouring out a measure of fuel so the explosion will be more controlled. He lets himself fully imagine kissing Sherlock with his whole body, and his pulse speeds as he conjures up the smell and taste of Sherlock, who is now straddling his lap in his soft pyjamas and making greedy noises. Sherlock tries to put both hands in John's hair but there's not much to grab.

With his pulse loud in his ears, John takes Sherlock's face in his hands and changes the kiss to a slow-motion thing, every movement, every action one of love. Emotion catches in John's throat as he imagines kissing Sherlock, and he's shaking by the time he wakes from the reverie and listens to his breath, loud in the room.

His bloodstream is flooded with hormones. It feels like a pricking just under his skin, trying to combust outward. It makes John feel jittery and hollow and so, so alone.

He stares over at Sherlock's chair, blinking, lost in thought about him and them and the fear of what devastation John’s feelings might be about to rain down on them, when he's startled by the sound of the front door opening and slamming closed.

Sherlock.

Chapter Text

Feeling nearly throttled by his heartbeat, John shoots to his feet and stares at the door. He waits for a pounding of feet that doesn't come, but there is a rustling down at the ground floor landing that he can't immediately identify. The footsteps he hears treading up the stairs, however, make him sit down heavily into his seat.

"Yoo hoo!" Mrs. Hudson calls before peeking her head in. "I'm just gonna pop the post on the table."

Disappointed, but also relieved, John makes a vague, non-committal noise from his chair.

"Everything all right, love?" she asks, poking through the detritus on the table and making huffy sounds under her breath.

"Fine, Mrs. Hudson." John hopes that sounds more believable to her ears than it did to his.

"What is it?" He tries not to sigh as she walks over with a preemptive look of consternation on her face. "Is it Sherlock? What's he done?"

"Nothing. It's— It's nothing."

"Well," she says, her mouth a line as she sizes him up, "I'm in all day if you want to have a chat about it. And where is himself?"

John tries to convey a note of inevitability with his eyebrows. "Research."

Her expression softens. "I don't know why I ask, sometimes." She squeezes his shoulder before walking out the other door to the landing. "I'm home if you need me."

"All right," John says, giving her a wan smile, and feels like an arsehole for being relieved once she's gone. He's not really open to discussing this aspect of his private life with her—not that he'd know what to say even if he were. Why hello Mrs. Hudson. I seem to have fallen in love with my twat of a flatmate without noticing. Mind if I take a biscuit?

The thought inspires an electric thrill of panic, and if the nerves had receded slightly they're back in full force now. He sits in his chair and jiggles his leg until it annoys him too much to continue, then he starts pacing from one end of the lounge to the other.

He needs something to do with his hands. They're opening and closing reflexively, timed with his footsteps, and John thinks that might be winding him even tighter than before. He pulls his mobile out of his pocket.

When can I expect you home for lunch?

John paces around the lounge as he composes his text. Come home is what he really means, but he's afraid of sounding too needy. Although, there's a decent chance he's overthinking things now his subconscious has broken through with last night's revelation; when are you going to be home would have been a perfectly valid question back in the time before, back when he was still John-Watson-the-Friend, not yet John-Watson-the-Besotted. This is secondary school all over again, wanking furiously at night to thoughts of a girl's full breasts under her jumper and then being awkward around her for days afterward.

John makes a few more restless turns around the lounge before taking refuge in cleaning the kitchen. He's just about finished clearing and scrubbing down all the surfaces when his phone pings with a text.

Not eating. Home mid-afternoon. -SH

Well, it's not as if John really expected differently. He finishes up the chore in the kitchen and then flops down in his chair, feeling absolutely at loose ends. He makes fists and loosens them one finger at a time. Now what?


There is nothing on the telly. John is sure of this, having been all through the channels twice and rejected all of the offerings. He pages through a magazine without really reading then throws it down on the floor.

Damn Sherlock. Damn the man. If John hadn't had his little revelation this would be just another day off after a case. John could do a little reading, a little writing, a little recreational bickering with Sherlock. He'd make something nice for tea, or they'd order in, he'd watch Sherlock devour two meals' worth with a familiar warmth in his chest—and wasn't that realisation telling, that he'd always felt that warmth but never wondered at it—and they'd relax together doing their own thing until John went up to bed. That's usual. That's comfortable. But now it's overlaid in John's head with a veneer of second-guessing. Did a look, a smile from Sherlock mean something other than friendship? What if John were to sit close to him on the sofa? Would Sherlock move away? Has John ever betrayed himself with a word or glance or touch, not knowing there was anything there to mask in the first place?

John makes a guttural noise of frustration into the room and stands. This is ridiculous; his mind needs something else to focus on or it is going to chew itself up long before Sherlock gets home. He blows out a breath, scrubbing his hand over his face, and settles at his laptop. He has things he'd intended to do today, Sherlock be damned, and he's going to do them.

First John works on a blog entry about the case which ended yesterday. He describes the band's sound engineer who first had come to them, lovely but pale and drawn, then describes the manager who later that morning had burst in upon them and bent their fireplace poker. He gets to the part about the lead guitarist and drummer both being found dead in their hotel rooms, both appearing strangely jaundiced and bearing a mysterious rash, when John's stomach growls.

"Even my digestive system seems to lack an appropriate sense of timing," he says out loud to the room.

"You say that as if I'm seriously meant to care about appropriate timing unless it's necessary," John imagines Sherlock saying.

He chuckles and rubs his brow, furrowed as it is in bemused consternation. "I'm not exactly comfortable envisioning you when in the throes of a sexual fantasy, but I know if this is going to spread out into my daily life I'm going to get an MRI straightaway." He pushes up from his chair. "That's it. I'm going to the shops today, and nothing you can say is going to stop me. Even if you appear stretched out naked on the sofa like Q, I'm ignoring you."

"Like who?" Sherlock scowls scathingly, and disappears.

Laughing under his breath, John tosses on his shoes and coat and trots down the stairs. He's suddenly in a much better mood.


It isn't until John is walking home that the phantasm of Sherlock strikes again.

"Would you like me to hold one of those bags for you?" Sherlock is walking by his side in his flash dark coat, hands shoved deep in his pockets, collar up, looking like a complete bastard.

"Would you take one if I did?" John says.

"No." They walk for a few paces. "Well, maybe. I'd probably take it for about three hundred feet and then work out a way for you to take it back again. Then take credit for helping."

John quirks a smile, then has to pretend it's directed at a passing old woman when she stares at him oddly. "That sounds about right," he says. "Though honestly I'd be more surprised you'd actually come on a shopping run in the first place."

"I would."

John wants to snort. "Not likely."

"Okay, then. Explain to me why I'm here."

This takes a decent amount of thought. They turn the corner that brings them to within spitting distance of their flat before John has an answer. "In lieu of the chance to interact with you in reality, my brain is giving me a way to talk this out. Also, the fantasies have been so hot and…not what I've come to expect from you that I think maybe my brain wants something a little more normal."

"I'm not wearing anything under this coat."

"…Oh fuck off."

They troop up the stairs, the sound of only one set of footsteps a bit jarring in John's brain. He is disappointed but unsurprised to find the flat still empty, and pops the milk and meat and veg in the fridge while ignoring the spectre of Sherlock hovering in the corner of his vision.

"I ought to text you and find out where you are," John says.

"What an abhorrent sentence," Sherlock says.

"Twat."

"Imbecile."

John rolls his eyes. "It would be nice if you gave me a hand with this."

Sherlock waggles his eyebrows. It looks ridiculous.

"Oh for christ's sake." John walks straight through him to put the bread away and the vision disappears, leaving John to the silence of his cluttered thoughts.


It's gone 4pm when he's done putting the food away, so he ignores the slight feeling of being sixteen again and texts Sherlock.

Can I expect you home for dinner? he types, then stares at it. He erases it all, tries Do you have an ETA?, then plops down on the sofa. He huffs a dry laugh at himself, shakes his head, then starts over again.

You need to eat something. You've barely eaten all week. John curses himself for a sap and goes to fix a cup of tea.

The answer comes back immediately. I'll pick up something later. -SH

John blinks and laughs. No you won't.

What will it take for you to stop coddling me? I'm busy. -SH

The air is knocked from John's lungs and he sits heavily at the kitchen table. It's nothing any more harsh than what John has come to expect from Sherlock over the years, but in light of John's new awareness this hurts like a kick to the chest. He unsuccessfully wills his heartrate down to reasonable levels.

Fine. I'm getting Chinese. Do what you like.

Thank you for your blessing, John, I intend to. -SH

John rests both elbows on the table and presses the heels of his hands into his eyes. This animosity comes as a bit of a shock, even for Sherlock's mercurial mood, and John has no idea what, if anything, he's done wrong.

"Honestly, John. Why do you keep thinking about this? Did you expect that the universe would spontaneously change my personality just because you've got a little crush?"

John scowls at the tabletop, intensely disliking the part of his consciousness responsible for trivialising the situation. "No."

"What do you imagine Sherlock Holmes in love would be like? Simpering? Solicitous? Kind?"

John snaps. "Yes," he says a bit louder than he’d intended. "Yes, kind. Sometimes, yes. I think most of the time you'd be a tosser, as usual, but I think if you loved me you'd be unable to keep from showing it. I don't think it would be something most people would recognise, but I would. I know you."

Sherlock is leaning against the counter in his pyjamas, frowning. "That's ridiculous, John."

"No, it isn't." John points at him accusingly. "You are far more passionate about things than you let on, even things that aren't about puzzles or murder. When you love things you love them."

"And you think that could be you."

At that, John slumps. He really has no idea of what Sherlock's feelings are. Sometimes he's swayed one way, sometimes another, and the repercussions could be devastating if he's wrong. His brain spins for a few seconds as he tries to decide exactly how he's going to handle all this when his stomach growls again.

He sighs and swallows hard, picking up his mobile. There's no use trying to suss this out with low blood sugar—not if it can be helped. Maybe things will look easier on the other side of an egg roll.


John sits on the sofa eating lo mein and some of Sherlock's portion of sweet and sour chicken, ignoring whatever Seagal film is playing in the background. He finishes his porter and sets the bottle next to the detritus of his meal that litters the coffee table. John eyes the fortune cookies. They seem somehow to eye him back.

He flops back against the sofa, rolling his eyes at himself, then presses his hands against his face and sighs heavily. This whole situation had better be resolved soon, because even after less than a day he's sick of his imagination taking control of things.

It does have its moments though, he thinks, conjuring up the calm feeling of happiness he gets when he envisions kissing Sherlock. It spreads like warm bliss through his fingers and toes, across his skin, out from his heart.

"Mmm," Sherlock hums into John's mouth. He's straddling John's lap again, soft in his pyjamas. John slides his hands up Sherlock's back and enjoys the smooth, warm, skin. "Kissing, John?"

John swims in the feeling of it. "Yes please," he says, head falling back. The kiss is slow and liquid, burning like brandy down to John's stomach, pleasantly strong. With a groan John shoves his fingers into Sherlock's hair.

"Is this how it's going to be?" Sherlock says. He sucks John's lower lip in between both of his, making John shiver and roll his hips. "After-supper kisses tasting of beer and Chinese?"

"Or Thai," John murmurs. He wants to grab Sherlock's arse and rock into him. Sherlock's arse is a bit amazing—and now John can admit to himself he's noticed.

"You think I'd submit to this?"

"I think you'd crave it." John rolls his hips again and tilts his head for another deep kiss. Sherlock is probably a sloppy kisser, John decides, and the thought of putting that mouth through its paces sends a thrill down into his gut. "You like affection, in spite of yourself. That's obvious."

"Is it."

"Of course it is." John mouths his way up to Sherlock's ear and breathes heavily into it. Sherlock presses his forehead to John's shoulder and groans, writhing slightly across his lap.

"I'm not going to be home for hours," Sherlock says, chest heaving.

"And?" John replies, knowing exactly where this is going but willing to play along for the drawn-out arousal of it.

"And if I'm not mistaken, you want me."

"Yes, that's a—" John gasps as he presses his hand on his groin as if Sherlock had ground down against him. "—a fair assessment."

"Then take me. Before he gets home."

Sherlock disappears when John stands up and locks the doors to the landing, then staggers over to the drawer near his laptop where he keeps a bottle of lotion. Hands shaking, he unfastens his jeans and shoves both them and his pants partway down his thighs before sitting back on the sofa. John fills his hand liberally with lotion and gasps at the chill, then lets out a low moan as his hand slides easily over his testicles and cock.

"Mmm. Lubrication this time?" Sherlock is back, kneeling on the cushion to John's side and murmuring into his ear.

"I've been—" John groans, hand moving steadily. "—I've been masturbating quite a lot today. Don't know if you've noticed." He shoves his fingers against his perineum and drags them up, a straight line between both bollocks and up the swollen length of his cock. He makes a fist and pumps vigorously.

"Like a teenager."

"Like a teenager," John agrees.

"Because you want to fuck me." John likes the way Sherlock says the fricative in his head.

"I want to do everything with you. Fuck and shag and spoon and make love and whatever else you want to call it."

"Sentiment."

"You'd like it. I'm very—" John grunts. "I'm very good at it."

"You are aware this particular bout of onanistic self-gratification is going to take forever." Of course Sherlock would be the voice of reason even in this, even fictionally. "A third time in a day? When is the last time this happened? Aren't you afraid I'm going to interrupt?"

John's eyes shoot toward the door and he grimaces. "No. Yes. …Sherlock, can't you use your mouth for something useful right now?"

The low chuckle John invents for Sherlock's seductive mischief is a bit ridiculous, but he doesn't really mind at the moment. He pumps more lotion into his hand and smooths it over his cock until it warms up.

His head hits the back of the sofa and his eyes roll back. "Oh f— Oh, Sherlock, your mouth." Sherlock is kneeling on the floor between John's knees now, sucking him off with obscenely-wet noises. He rolls John's balls in his hand. John groans and rocks his head from side to side, jaw open.

"Better come quickly," Sherlock says somehow, even though his mouth is still moving on John's cock. "You're going to have to clean up this mess before I get home."

John's cock gives a bit of a throb at the word mess.

"Do you honestly suppose I'd enjoy having sweaty, messy sex with you?" Sherlock goes on. "Don't you think I'm too fastidious for that?"

"You tramp through rubbish tips and sewers during cases. You're washable. So yes." John pants and strokes himself faster, his movements loud and sloppy and visceral. "I think that you wouldn't mind the mess in the slightest if it led to getting high on dopamine and acetylcholine."

"And oxytocin?"

"No, I think that might just be me," John smiles, puffing through his teeth.

"Quite right, too."

"You think you're more likely to hop right out of bed and into the shower so you can use the renewed focus on an experiment."

"You don't want to cuddle?" Sherlock pulls a disgusted face that makes John chuckle, then ducks his head to suck even more enthusiastically. It pulls the air from John's lungs and any retort from his thoughts. John starts rocking his hips up into his hand.

"Well, right now I want to fuck you," John grits out.

Then Sherlock is naked and rolling his hips sinuously across John's lap. He's draped his arms around John's neck. "Do it," he says.

"I—" John gasps. He can feel the difference between this and Sherlock's mouth, feels weighed down into the sofa, feels the intensity and the tightness. "Yes. Oh yes."

Sherlock leans closer. "Don't you want me to say dirty things?"

"I…I don't think I care especially, right now."

"You just want an orgasm."

"I want you to be real." It feels incredibly quiet in the room as John thinks about this. His hand slows to a stop and his chest hurts. "God, Sherlock…"

"Shh." John imagines Sherlock pressing his face to his, cheek to cheek, imagines Sherlock's curls tickling his forehead. "Don't think about it right now." Sherlock kisses John's temple, and that hurts more than helps. "Just fuck me."

John's brow furrows as he feels emotion steal over him and he begins again, his hand and hips moving this time a little slower and more deliberately.

Sherlock tucks his head against John's neck and moans. He digs his heels into John's lower back as he squirms. John hisses at the sensation and his hips jerk up, and he can imagine the heat between them. He wonders idly whether he would feel Sherlock's testicles against his stomach, and if that would be a bizarre sensation. He reaches down to touch them, and Sherlock's head snaps back with a cry.

"Oooh," John says, eyes alight. "That's nice."

"John, don't tease." Sherlock is panting, and the way his chest expands with each breath is incredibly attractive.

"Why not?" John says. He drags the back of his forefinger up the underside of Sherlock's cock and the resultant noise makes the hand on John's cock move faster. He imagines Sherlock kneeling across his lap and fucking himself on John, rising up and lowering himself and gasping each time he grinds down. The expression John selects for him reminds John of a painting from the Italian Renaissance, a saint pierced by a sword and dying of heavenly bliss. John bites his lip and rolls his hips more forcefully, and Sherlock sucks in a breath. Sherlock buries his hands in his own hair, pulling at it. Sweat drips down his temple.

John's breathing is laboured now. He stops a moment for more lotion and imagines Sherlock's greedy moan. "Johhhnnn…" The sound Sherlock makes is shocking, fantastic, and this time John doesn't even wait for the lotion to come to body temperature before he's fisting himself rapidly, his hand nearly a blur.

Sherlock is rolling his head and riding John with ease, his long, lithe torso undulating, then John watches Sherlock reach down and grab his own cock. It's dark, flushed red, and leaving smears of pre-come against his belly. At first Sherlock just holds it, his hips rising and falling with the thrust of John's, and his jaw is slack.

"Are you trying not to come?" John says, huffing like an engine. He's vaguely aware of the film credits rolling in the background. Sherlock nods his head. The Pietá, John thinks suddenly. That's what Sherlock's expression looks like. His face is slack and eyes are closed, his mouth dropped ever-so-slightly open. The thought is so sacrilegious that it sends a thrill down to the base of John's spine and he speeds up, relieved to feel the first brush of orgasm gathering deep in his groin.

Sherlock's hand on his cock appears to squeeze for a moment and he whimpers. John shoves up hard over and over, the muscles of his buttocks burning with all the use over the past day. "Come," John says through gritted teeth. "Ohh, you've got to come soon. Please." His abdominal muscles are starting to complain. The orgasm is building, yes, but excruciatingly slowly. It feels like climbing a long hill with a heavy pack at the end of a day's march, and each step is a chore.

And now Sherlock is finally getting down to it, using both hands on himself and moaning. The image makes John's head spin with arousal, and it kicks up a notch, but he's still not there. Sherlock bites that lower lip and another drop of sweat slides down the side of his face to land on his chest. "Johhhn…" he says in a low voice, then moans again. "John I need to lean back."

John's eyelids flutter. Then Sherlock's legs are around John's waist and he's supporting his weight with both arms propped on John's lower legs. The angle does something that makes his jaw drop and his eyes flare wide. He lets out a massive groan that ratchets up John's arousal another few points, and John reaches out to grab Sherlock's cock. It feels hot in his hand, damp and sticky with pre-come, and he trails his fingers gently up and down from root to tip as Sherlock cries out.

Every muscle in John's body has tensed up. He can't breathe, and all the large groups are burning, his quads and his buttocks and his arms and his abs, and frankly this orgasm cannot possibly be worth it. If he had a partner, sure, but alone? No.

He's praying for release when finally he feels Sherlock's cock thicken. The noises he imagines coming out of Sherlock's mouth are obscene, high and desperate, before they turn into a single rasping groan as Sherlock convulses. He looks wrecked, John imagines, lost in a massive orgasm, and John can feel the pleasure of the spasms squeezing Sherlock almost as if they were his own. It makes something in the base of his gut twist free and finally, finally John feels the blessed relief rise up and overtake him. But when he comes it's too brief by half, too shallow to feel satisfying in any way, and even after he's stopped ejaculating he writhes, hoping to eke out just a few more drops of pleasure.

John grunts his frustration to the room. What did he expect, really? There's only so much he can expect from his system before it shows its unhappiness with the situation. He lays there to catch his breath. Then he frowns, his heart sinking as his blood pressure lowers, and John finds himself trying to keep his eyes open to fight off the rush of emotion.

"This isn't ever going to happen, is it?"

Sitting politely on the other side of the sofa, Sherlock shakes his head. "No," he says, voice quiet.

John is overwhelmed with the heavy cloud of weariness. It’s a dull, stabbing ache in his chest, creeping into his throat and making it hard to breathe. His head had fallen forward against his chest as he caught his breath, and now his eyes squeeze tightly shut. It hurts, physically, a pain filling his ribs and pricking his skin.

Fuck. I am so fucked. Oh god, what am I going to do? John is lost, lacking the foggiest idea how even to begin to deal with this.

With great effort he pushes himself off the sofa and pulls up his trousers, dumps the bottle of lotion back into its drawer, and stares balefully at the remains of his meal on the coffeetable.

Fuck it.

John goes upstairs.

He really needs a shower, he realises as he strips off his soiled clothing, but can't be bothered with that, either. His limbs feel leaden and dull as he steps into a clean pair of boxers and climbs between the sheets.

Panic is starting to spread into the sadness, making his skin feel too tight for his frame. Panic, and anger. He's pissed off at himself, royally so, for allowing this to happen. He's furious that he has developed feelings that haven't a hope in hell of being returned, and furious that those feelings might ruin what he'd long since accepted was the best relationship he was ever likely to have in his life.

But sadness runs through it all. It could have been so lovely, he thinks. He would have loved to love Sherlock. It would have felt like a blessing to give that man everything, all the safety and care and affection and patience and love that great, hidden heart deserves.

He can feel Sherlock spooning up against his back and his heart twists. "Stop," he whispers. "Stop this now."

John curls up on his side and feels behind him the cold, empty stretch of his bed as he slowly, gradually, falls asleep.

Chapter Text

John shoves up onto his elbow, adrenaline surging through his bloodstream. He snaps on the light to see what has woken him and is intensely confused by the image of Sherlock standing there, looming in the corner of his bedroom.

"The fuck are you…" John trails off, blinking. His brain spins, trying to work out if this is another false Sherlock conjured up for some reason related to sex or to help John work out the next step in the "So You've Fallen for your Flatmate" plan. The Sherlock in the corner blinks calmly back at him and rubs his forefinger into the corner of his eye. Then new information penetrates the sleepy fug of John's consciousness, and he realises he can smell Sherlock, the petrichor and wet wool and faint trace of Sherlock's shampoo, and John pushes up to sitting. The man standing there must be real.

Which is when John realises he's sitting in his bed shirtless and chilly, and Sherlock is standing silently in the corner of his bedroom, and that things are not going strictly according to the usual way of it.

"Sherlock?" John says, his voice rough with sleep. He fists his eyes and wills himself more awake for this conversation, whatever it turns out to be.

"I didn't mean to wake you." Sherlock shifts his weight but doesn't otherwise move. Then he blinks and waves a hand vaguely at John's bed. "May I?"

"May you what?" John blinks hard. "May you sit?" Suspicion is prickling the corners of John's mind. "What the hell did you do?" The possibilities are endless and terrifying.

"Nothing," Sherlock says, then takes the liberty of setting his arse on the foot of John's bed, heedless of John's feet. John relocates them. "I haven't done anything, John."

"Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that's meant to be followed by a 'yet'?"

Sherlock looks at him, and the expression is inscrutable. "John," he starts, then stares over at John's wardrobe.

He stays silent for so long that John nearly falls asleep sitting up. "Sherlock," John says with a huff and scratches his scalp all over, then slumps back against the headboard. "I'm tired. Do you have to do this now?"

It's odd, John thinks. He'd expected that the next time he saw Sherlock things would be different somehow, that he'd feel palpably different, that it would alter their dynamic. But he feels just as exhausted and annoyed and bemused as he would have before his big revelation, and that, at least, is a comfort.

Sherlock heaves a massive sigh and folds his fingers in his lap. John casually examines Sherlock's hands for bloodstains. Then Sherlock stands. "No," he says, and with a flap of his coat leaves the bedroom. "We do not."

John blinks at that, then blinks again more slowly, and then he finds he is waking up. It feels later, though John can't tell how much later because he neglected to check the clock the first time, but it appears that the crack of sky he can see through his window is a bit lighter. That might just be the reflection of the lamp, though, which is still on. Disorientated, John stares at it with half-lidded, crusty eyes, and realises his pulse is thudding painfully in his ears and palms.

With more quiet self-examination, John also realises his adrenaline is high and his breath is rattling. He doesn't remember having a nightmare. In fact, he doesn't think he was really very asleep. But the feeling churning through him makes him suspect he'd fallen into a doze and had been dreaming about something…something…intensely…

His heart clenches. A thought trickles down into John's consciousness: what had Sherlock been about to tell him?

John lays there and flips through the choices, but comes up with nothing plausible. It obviously wasn't a case, and if Sherlock had broken something he'd have been trying to hide it. He'd seemed too fraught to be admitting to a matter of the…

Even in his head, the thought trails off into a dull static, and his brain refuses to settle onto it, to allow it to coalesce. He's abruptly wide awake, however, so he pushes off the bed and grabs his dressing gown. The bedside clock reads 4am. The world appears hyper-clear, the edges of things unreal in their obscene fidelity, and he sucks in a lungful of cold air then runs down the stairs. He can distinguish each board of wood from the next, feels each speck of grit that sticks to his feet, and easily follows with his fingertips the grain of wood that makes up the banister all the way down to the bottom.

He steps through the door into the lounge as aware of the space around his body as an actor stepping onto the stage. Sherlock is sitting on the sofa staring at the remains of John's supper scattered in abandoned chopsticks and half-full paper containers across the surface. He can't be unaware of John's descent but he doesn't move. John just watches him take an extra large breath before Sherlock speaks.

"I heard you. Last night. In your room."

"You heard me?" Does he mean the night of the first fantasy, when John first wanked to thoughts of him? By all rights John should be mortified, terrified, but things don't feel quite real, so he just stands in the doorway and watches Sherlock take another breath, casually prodding the end of a spoon.

"Masturbating. You said my name."

"I did?" John doesn't remember that in the slightest and doesn't think it's likely, but truth be told he was more than a little out of it. But as John's brain continues to spin this over, he realises: it doesn't matter, does it? Sherlock seems to know, and that's all that counts for the moment. John feels preternaturally calm about this, particularly in light of the day's anxiety.

He watches Sherlock's adam's apple bob in profile. "Yes."

Is that a problem? John wants to say. He spins through other options but can't manage to find something better than that or oh, so he goes for the first option. "Is that a problem?"

Sherlock takes his time responding, still pushing the chopstick around on the table with one long forefinger. John doesn't remember the last time he saw Sherlock look so apprehensive.

Once again, he watches Sherlock breathe before he speaks. "I was at Hyde Park today."

Well. That's not an obvious answer to the question, but real life conversations with Sherlock don't always take a straight line. "Doing what?"

Sherlock twitches a shoulder in a shrug. "Walking."

"All day?"

"Yes."

"You walked all day."

"Yes."

"Where?"

"Everywhere."

"Oh." John watches Sherlock pick up the chopsticks and twirl up some lo mein and drop it back into the takeaway container. "Sherlock, I thought you were researching."

"I was thinking."

"About?"

"Last night, John. Obviously." The scathing tone is familiar and, in John's deliriously-clear state of mind, sort of funny. Being cut by Sherlock is comforting, and isn't that Stockholm Syndrome at its best.

"Are you ever going to tell me what you thought about as you walked?"

Sherlock half shrugs again.

"Sherlock—" John starts, but the rest of the sentence is strangled in John's throat when Sherlock’s head lifts and looks at John. The look in his eyes—it's soft, John thinks. Soft and scared and vulnerable, and it causes a kick of sympathy in John's chest.

"Oh," John breathes. He takes an aborted step closer to Sherlock but doesn't really know how to proceed. His heart jumps painfully with the sudden burst of adrenaline and his pulse begins to race.

Sherlock is still looking at John when he stands up and takes a few halting steps closer. He stands just before John like a penitent waiting to be judged, looking down.

What now? John stares up into Sherlock's face, frozen. They stand in this tableau as the clock ticks over, and then suddenly Sherlock lets out a plosive breath. "You stupid man," he murmurs, and before John can figure out if Sherlock is talking to himself or to John he leans down and presses the side of his face to John's.

It's a surprising move, and nothing John would have imagined. He lets it happen, and all of his focus narrows down to those few inches of skin touching. This close, John can clearly hear Sherlock's breathing, and as the seconds pass he finds himself matching his own breath to it.

He hears Sherlock swallow, then they're both stroking their faces against each other, feeling out the edges. It feels electric, John's longer stubble catching against the faint sandpaper on Sherlock's thin face, the undeniable life in the warm skin and mobile flesh of Sherlock's cheek. Both of them are breathing heavily; Sherlock's breath is puffing deep in and out of his lungs, fast, and something about it makes John's eyes roll back before he gives in completely and turns his head. He noses his way across Sherlock's face and kisses him. Sherlock's lips are cold and chapped, but inside his mouth is hot and wet and draws John in like a wick drawing oil from a lamp.

He pours himself into it, turning himself inside out to fill the kiss with desire and affection, but instead what he feels leaving him is anger and sadness and a tremendous sense of loss, every uncomfortable thing he'd felt in the last day. He half expects Sherlock to pull back from a kiss so bitter, but Sherlock lets out an unearthly whimper and wraps his arms around John so tightly it’s difficult to breathe. Sherlock seems a little inexperienced at this; his kiss is sloppy and overly wet, and he doesn’t seem to know what to do with his hands, but John still feels passion in every trembling movement.

Sherlock anchors his hands in John's dressing gown and pulls them tight against each other, knee to kiss. John grabs on to the tails of Sherlock's suit jacket for a few seconds but his hands soon skitter upward to fist at Sherlock's shoulderblades and pull. They list off-balance and stagger to the doorframe, and John feels himself with the jamb pressed up the centre of his back as the kiss turns furious. They bite at each others’ mouths, growl, whimper, and shove themselves into a single kiss so hard it threatens to bruise the sides of John's mouth and cut his lips on his teeth. The breath puffs from Sherlock's nose like a dragon's, and it warms John's cheek.

They pull apart bit by bit, piece by piece, until the last part of them is touching. Their mouths separate with a soft, wet noise and they stand to look at each other.

Sherlock's eyes are huge, dark and wide, his face all in high colour, his hair wild, and his mouth is bright red. He’s stunningly beautiful.

Sherlock's gaze is hazy as he stares at John's lips, panting.

Suddenly, the adrenaline slips from John's system and he’s left drained and exhausted and sad. He doesn’t know why, exactly; here is Sherlock, standing and clearly wanting him as desperately as John wants him in return, but John feels something like mourning nonetheless. It’s nonsensical, he knows, but he feels it. "Sherlock," he whispers, and steps close to him again.

Bending his head, Sherlock nuzzles his face gently against the side of John's and makes a sound of distress in his throat. "Shhh," John says. He slides his hands inside Sherlock's jacket and rubs his palms up and down his back, over his shirt. John presses his face to Sherlock's neck and tries to breathe through the wave of love and sadness that swamps him. "I know." He does, too. This step feels massive, overwhelming, and John at least has the experience to prepare him for what something like this could mean. Sherlock has nobody, nothing, and had spent the day tiring himself out walking among the humanity he only partially understands. Small wonder they are feeling like this. John holds on tightly, using Sherlock as his anchor, and feels a bit of relief when Sherlock wraps his arms around John and grips back. "Breathe."

"I am, John." The note of cranky derision in Sherlock's voice is familiar and comforting. John chuckles gently.

"Well. Keep doing it." He chances a small kiss on Sherlock's neck, which causes Sherlock to startle and hold on all the tighter. "Okay," John says, and rubs Sherlock's back again. "I'm knackered. You must be too. You walked for what, fourteen hours?"

Sherlock shakes his head and his curls tickle the side of John's face. "Won’t sleep."

"Try?" John pulls his head back to look up into Sherlock's face. He searches it for wariness but finds only an aching sort of exhaustion. "Will you sleep with me?"

"I don't think you'll be able to. How many times did you masturbate today?"

John busts out laughing. That’s not what he’d meant by the question, and he should be mortified, but the over-clear unreality of the evening has given way to a dull, foggy, lethargy, and he has never in the first place quite managed to work up a lather over Sherlock knowing too much about him. Still, he presses his face to Sherlock's throat to hide the flush that spreads across his cheeks. "Three."

"And once last night."

"And once last night," John admits.

"You left lotion smeared on the sofa this time, John. Very sloppy."

John smiles at the tease in Sherlock's voice. He doesn’t move his face but he thumps Sherlock on the back. It makes a muffled sound under his jacket. "Shut up."

Sherlock's arms tighten around John and he presses his jaw to John's hair. They breathe together for a few moments. "Whose bedroom?"

John rocks his face against Sherlock's neck. "I don't care."

Sherlock buries his face in John's hair and inhales before he answers. "Mine. It's closer."

"Ah. So you are tired."

"I would enjoy not standing any longer,” Sherlock says with pointed nonchalance.

Giggling, John slowly extricates himself from Sherlock's embrace and looks at him. A smile begins to bloom across Sherlock's face. It’s the brilliant one, the beautiful one, the one that spreads lines down into his cheeks and makes John's heart stop. Of its own volition, John's hand reaches out and traces the lines all the way down and brushes across Sherlock's mouth. He feels a great deal of wonder, in that moment. Sherlock's eyes are clear and stare right into him. "Let's go to bed."

Sherlock drags him in the straightest line to his bedroom, which means out onto the landing and through the other kitchen door and down the hall. They stumble into Sherlock's bedroom and John presses his back against the door to push it closed. A rush of nervousness hits him suddenly, finally being in Sherlock's room alone with him, about to sleep in his bed, about to embark on…something. For a brief moment John wonders if it might have been easier to host Sherlock up in his room, but John thinks that perhaps, of the two of them, Sherlock is the one who needs the familiar comfort more.

He watches Sherlock shrug off his jacket and hesitate, his hands at the top buttons of his shirt. Sherlock looks at John. John looks back. Then John moves closer, slowly, giving Sherlock a chance to back out.

"Let me?" John says, and reaches out.

Sherlock appears to be standing still with every fibre of his being turned to the task. He is trembling when John touches him, his chest vibrating with tension under the fine smoothness of his shirt. John strokes his hand down the placket before beginning at the top, slipping each button through its hole one by one. He glances up when he’s halfway finished and Sherlock's chin is high, tight, as if he dares John to continue or dares himself to let him.

John straightens up to match his height as much as possible. "Sherlock, do you want me to stop?" He feels a roil of sadness turn his stomach. But to his relief, Sherlock's head lowers and the look in Sherlock's eyes is soft and vulnerable again. John watches Sherlock's lower lip shake for a moment before he speaks.

"No." He takes a shuddery breath. "No, I don't." He looks terrified. John knows how he feels.

John’s lungs drag in a sharp breath and he lets it out slowly. "Why don't you finish, and I'll arrange the bed?"

Receiving the tiniest of nods and a grateful look John is certain Sherlock doesn’t even know crossed his face, John straightens the sheets and duvet on Sherlock's bed and divides up his pillows. When he turns back around again Sherlock is standing in only his thin black pants, his shoulders hunched. They lock eyes for a moment and Sherlock tries to give him a small smile. Bravely, John smiles back and shrugs out of his dressing gown, hooking it on the back of the door before climbing into bed. "What side do you want?"

Sherlock takes a few halting steps closer to him. "The right." He inhales audibly when John settles back against the headboard and crawls in next to him, slipping under the covers as smoothly as possible. Instead of sitting next to John he lays down and pulls the duvet up to his chin.

It makes John desperately want to smooth Sherlock's mussed hair back from his face and, after a moment, he does. Sherlock's eyes close and he makes a quiet humming noise. John's heart starts racing again, and tenderness aches in his fingertips. He'd been intending to sit and talk to Sherlock for a while, but now he slides down under the covers and settles on his side to face him.

Sherlock's eyes open. They look so pale, celadon, beautiful, and John realises he's left the light on.

Which of course, Sherlock points out immediately. "The light, John."

"It can wait," John says. He wants to hold on to these few last moments buoyed safely in the light before the dark makes everything sound and feel and mean more. He digs his hand out from the duvet and strokes the backs of his fingers down Sherlock's temple, and Sherlock's eyes fall closed again. "Just give me a moment."

John can feel his pulse throbbing in his chest and hand, and tries to keep his breathing from being tellingly fast and loud. He strokes his fingertips down the bridge of Sherlock's nose, across his cheekbone, across his broad forehead, along that mouth that John is already as familiar with as breath. This is Sherlock, his Sherlock, the real Sherlock, and he's laying in Sherlock's bed in his pants and John loves him, desperately. Shatteringly. The fantasy of being loved in return mightn't be so far away. John remembers being kissed with such emotion earlier and has to lean over and press his lips to Sherlock's forehead, his eyes squeezed tightly shut against it all. He feels Sherlock's hand slide over and touch his waist, then lay there like a dead weight. John pulls back to look into Sherlock's face but he hasn't moved; his eyes are still closed, face taut in an expression devoid of emotion.

"Sherlock," John whispers into the air between them. He rubs his thumb across Sherlock's mouth and rests his hand on the side of Sherlock's face, effectively cradling it in his palm.

Sherlock's eyes blink open and he looks at John. His expression is inscrutable, but that doesn't always stop John from knowing what he's thinking anyway. Whether John understands Sherlock or not often has little to do with the expression on Sherlock's face.

"I want to say things to you, but I don't know what," John says.

"Then don't." Sherlock's expression barely changes.

"You don't want to talk about this?"

"No."

"Tomorrow maybe?"

Sherlock swallows and John catches a twitch in the muscles of his brow. "Perhaps."

John nods, once, and brushes his thumb against Sherlock's mouth again. "May I kiss you goodnight?"

He feels more than sees Sherlock's nod, and John scoots a bit closer to lay a soft, simple kiss on Sherlock's lips. A huff of breath escapes from Sherlock's nose and the hand resting on John's waist closes to grab on. Sherlock's mouth opens under John's and his lips catch John's lower one and suck. John feels a rush of hormones flood through his system. So much for a simple kiss.

Sherlock touches the tip of his tongue to John's lip and, embarrassingly, John makes a tiny whimpering noise. This seems to encourage Sherlock, however (of course it does, Sherlock does so like to have an effect on people), and he scoots closer to John, places his hand on the side of John's head to hold him in place, and opens his mouth in the kiss.

John groans. His hands slip around Sherlock's slim, naked waist and Sherlock rolls half on top of him and oh christ this is good. The kiss is going better this time, they're learning each other, and now Sherlock seems to know exactly what he's doing with his hands. They're cradling John's head exactly where Sherlock wants him, then they're reaching down and grabbing John's arse in two firm, huge handfuls. No one with hands that big has ever grabbed John's arse and it's…kind of nice. He feels supported, weirdly enough, and that helps when he feels Sherlock begin to get hard against his hip.

The pants are in the way, of course, and it's just a twitch, but it's still alien enough to be noticeable. It's not a little flattering, though, and more arousing than John would have assumed, so he just rolls it all into the rest of the things he's going to have to get used to in this relationship and concentrates on kissing Sherlock for all he's worth.

It doesn't stay gentle and slow for very long. Soon it's mostly squirming and pressing against each other, their breath heaving, their gulping kisses accompanied by tiny noises. John's eyes rolled back about two minutes ago and haven't really recovered. Oh god yes. He dares to scrape his fingernails up Sherlock's back and Sherlock makes a plaintive moaning sound that is so gorgeous that John moans right back.

His own exhausted cock is clearly trying to get in on the proceedings and isn't particularly successful, but Sherlock is clearly turned on beyond all sense. He's shaking with it, and when John drags just his fingertips up the welts he'd made a few minutes before Sherlock shoves his face into the junction of John's neck and shoulder and gasps and cries out, and his hips jerk.

"Shhh," John tries to soothe him, his own system just about going into overdrive, and he rubs his hand on the back of Sherlock's neck. "Oh jesus christ."

"John…" Sherlock whimpers, and John believes fiercely that’s the best sound John has ever heard. He wraps his arms tight about Sherlock's waist and squeezes him, and it's a bit grounding and a bit satisfying, and John presses his face to Sherlock's shoulder.

Sherlock keeps squirming, and John knows exactly what that's like. Exactly. He kisses Sherlock's shoulder and turns his head to whisper in his ear. "Face away from me." Sherlock rolls his head to look at John with one eye, and John nods. " On your side. Trust me."

Without a word, Sherlock slides off John and does as he's told, and John scoots up behind him. He lays a line of kisses across Sherlock's shoulder and is abruptly overcome with an echoing flood of memory. He strokes his hand up the front of Sherlock's throat, and Sherlock stretches his chin up to bare his neck…pressing slow kisses out along Sherlock's shoulder, the tenderness and affection for this sleepy man…He imagines sliding his hand down Sherlock's chest… John presses his forehead to the spot at the base of Sherlock's nape and takes in a shuddering breath. Fuck.

"John?"

Quickly, John kisses the spot and snugs up close behind him. "I just needed a moment." He scrapes his teeth gently on Sherlock's skin and feels him tense up along the front of John's body. John is about to ask if Sherlock dislikes that when Sherlock lets out a trembling breath and a barely audible moan. Doesn't dislike it, then.

That seems to be John's cue to continue, so he slides his hand around Sherlock's front and traces down the soft trail of hair on Sherlock's lower belly. He can feel Sherlock trying not to roll his hips, and smiles. "Don't hold back on my account," he says, his face pressed to Sherlock's warm skin.

Sherlock exhales shakily again and reaches back to grab John's hip. His own hips roll deliberately, and his grip tightens.

John's eyes flicker back again. How is this so goddamn sexy? Christ, John can almost feel himself in Sherlock's position, someone tight behind him reaching around to take care of him, and maybe that's the clue, isn't it? John knows how this feels because someone has done this to him, before. It's a sort of sympathy that he's never felt so precisely in bed before, and it explains the ease of the fantasies, and it explains how John knows without a doubt that, between the sympathetic knowledge and their already-established closeness, the sex is likely to be very good very quickly. He feels a pathetic, useless throb in his groin and that spurs him on.

Exhaling gently, John slips his hand under the waistband of Sherlock's pants, following the trail of hair down to a riot of tight curls and a smooth cock. John allows himself a moment to explore: foreskin, yes, and soft, soft skin—weird to feel it under his fingertips but not feel the touch on his own—a dampness at the head, which is a little broader than John's, a little flatter, and then down to a pair of testicles, smaller and tighter than John's.

Poor Sherlock has been keeping it together so far, but John realises he's been effectively teasing him during the slow examination. He wraps his hand around the cock-which-is-not-his-own and pulls firmly from base to head. The hand Sherlock has grasping John's hip tightens and he moans brokenly into the room.

From there it's almost easy. John pulls at him, forehead pressed to Sherlock's shoulder, panting damp breaths down his back. He rolls and cradles Sherlock's bollocks to hear him groan loudly, and rubs circles around the head to hear Sherlock whimper and shudder. It's marvellous how reactive Sherlock is; John can tell what works particularly well, and the sounds Sherlock makes cause John's blood to run awash with hormones. He could fuck Sherlock just like this and it would be amazing. John makes a loose fist around the head of Sherlock's cock and scrubs it around and Sherlock cries out, a sobbing noise that he tries to muffle in his pillow. Fuck.

John slides his hand out and Sherlock whines, but John ignores him in favour of spitting into his hand and slipping it right back around Sherlock's cock. Sherlock moans and rolls his hips.

"You like that," John murmurs into Sherlock's ear, and Sherlock nods.

"Yes."

"Because of how it feels or because it's my saliva?"

"Yes."

John laughs gently and nuzzles against Sherlock's shoulder, then scrapes his teeth on Sherlock's skin again. Sherlock makes a plaintive noise and thrusts into John's hand and oh, this should be good.

John shoves his hand all the way down from tip to root and Sherlock thrusts, and something in the movement sparks something amazing in John's head. They keep doing it, over and over, and Sherlock keeps growling and whining and squirming and thrusting into John's hand, and John keeps his hand loose and constantly moving: a fist wrapped around it, a slide of fingers over the head and down the shaft, a hand rolling his bollocks, and John can feel the latter tightening up. This is it. Is he ready to make Sherlock come? John's eyes flutter and his own hips twitch. Oh absolutely.

John tucks his fingers behind Sherlock's balls, presses up against his perineum, and slides them all the way from root to head and starts pumping vigorously, his knuckles starting to chafe on the seam of Sherlock's pants. He keeps going until Sherlock's hips lose rhythm and he convulses, a slow jerking breakdown of muscle control as he cries out and comes, pulsing over and over into his pants and slicking John's hand. He's not the only one affected, either; John can barely breathe as he witnesses—as he becomes the cause of—the bone-deep pleasure for the shaking man in his arms. He nuzzles his face into Sherlock's shoulder and gnaws on him and moans. John hasn't and couldn't have come, but fuck if that wasn't gorgeous nonetheless. His toes curl against the mattress.

John cradles Sherlock close as he gets his breath back and is wracked by aftershocks, but loosens his grip and slips his hand free of Sherlock's pants when he starts to turn in John's arms. Absently, John scrubs his hand mostly clean on the bed behind him. It's still tacky between his fingers when he starts rubbing Sherlock's back, marvelling at the fact that Sherlock appears to be settling in for a cuddle. John blinks over Sherlock's shoulder, amazed and not at all sad about this development.

Sherlock lets out a massive breath and goes boneless. "John."

Something in his tone makes a smile quirk at the corner of John's mouth. "Yes?"

"I think I need to take my pants off."

"I shouldn't be surprised."

"I’d feel better if you took yours off too."

A flash of mixed humour and shyness pass through John's consciousness before he huffs a gentle laugh. "Okay." He presses a quick kiss to Sherlock's temple before they disentangle themselves and strip off completely.

Sherlock appears to have a brief bout of nerves but he quickly sweeps them away before settling in against John's side again. His arm wrapped over John's waist feels deceptively strong and heavy for how skinny it looks when clothed, and wave of affection makes John squeeze him then bury his face in Sherlock's hair. He can feel Sherlock testing his teeth against John's scar and he cuffs him gently on the back of the head. "Stop."

"Just seeing if—"

"Stop. It's scar tissue and that feels weird."

"Not good?"

"No, Sherlock, just weird. Leave those experiments for another day."

"Another day, hm?"

John pulls his head back to glance down at Sherlock, who has lifted his head just enough to look at John. John can only see one pale eye. The light is still on. "Yes. Another day. I'm knackered."

"What else am I allowed to do now?"

John can't help chuckling. "You have more liberties, yes, but I'm not giving you carte blanche so don't even ask."

Sherlock pulls a pout and settles back down. "I wouldn't have had sex with you if I'd known you weren't going to get any more fun."

Flooded with amusement, John kisses his hair. "You're going to have to be happy with what you've got."

Sherlock presses his face harder into the meat of John's shoulder and breathes so heavily John can feel it. John can hear him swallow. "Yes. I am."

John holds him like that until they fall asleep.

Chapter Text

John blinks awake for the second time that morning to a room filled with light. This time, however, there's a face a foot from his own, staring.

"Well that's not creepy at all," John says, clumsily rubbing the sleep from his eyes and yawning. When his hand flops back down to the bed Sherlock is giving him a beaming smile. John smiles back. "What?"

"Good morning," Sherlock says. His hair is a wild cloud around his head, there are marks from his pillow creased into his cheek, and his face is sleep-soft, a bit puffy, and so endearing John's chest aches. Sherlock scoots himself closer to John and lays a hand on his waist.

John internally flails for something to say. "Did you sleep well? I didn't kick you, did I?" Sherlock's thumb is making small circles on John's skin and it's a bit distracting.

"Your REM cycles were shorter than usual."

"You know my REM cycles?" Sherlock opens his mouth to retort but John just laughs bemusedly. "Of course you do." Then he steels himself, leans, and presses a soft kiss to Sherlock's mouth.

He settles back but Sherlock follows him over, chasing his mouth with more kisses. John lets him in spite of the stickiness and morning breath, then notices that Sherlock tastes sweetly of bergamot. "Sherlock," John says, smacking his lips together. "You've been drinking tea."

Sherlock grins and gestures with his chin over John's shoulder. "Yours is behind you."

"You made tea?" John rolls over and grabs the mug. To his shock, it's still hot. It's soothing going down and perfectly made, but after he takes a sip he sets it aside again and faces Sherlock with a shy smile. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Now, will you come back here?"

"Can't. I've died of shock."

"That's clearly incorrect." Sherlock invades John's side of the bed and smooths his hand down John's side. It makes John quiver. "You are quite—" He presses a kiss on John's shoulder. "—Quite—" He kisses John's neck. "—Alive—" He growls into John's ear, and John's eyes flutter closed. He grabs on to Sherlock's side to keep from shivering to pieces and his toes curl. He tilts his head and kisses Sherlock as emphatically as possible. Sherlock's mouth is wet and slick, colder than John’s tea, and the temperature differential makes him groan. He claws at Sherlock's back, making Sherlock moan brokenly into his mouth and turn up the volume on the kiss.

John's pulse is already racing and he's just barely woken up. He skates his hand down the deliciously-smooth surface of Sherlock's skin and grabs onto his arse, and Sherlock writhes against him. He speaks with a mouthful of John's neck. "It's time to wake up."

"I'm awake.” John is beginning to feel dizzy from the headspinning turnaround. Yesterday he was lovelorn and lusting sadly after Sherlock, last night was a shared awkwardness, and today the idiot is acting like John's own personal vampire? He's going to need a moment. “…Wait, Sherlock. Stop.” Sherlock snaps back as if John has burned him, looking horrified. "No, you're okay, I'm sorry," John says, and soothes Sherlock with a hand on his cheek. "I just—"

He flops onto the pillow and blows a shaky breath up to the ceiling. He blinks hard, trying to quell the flutter of nerves in his stomach with only the power of his will, and shivers violently. Jesus.

Sherlock settles onto his pillow with his arm curled up under it, facing John. John can feel him staring at the side of his face. "Thank you for the tea," John says, feeling slightly wrong-footed.

"You're welcome."

"How long had you been up?"

"Just long enough to make the tea."

"So basically you woke me up."

"Yyyup." Sherlock is close enough the John feels the plosive pop of Sherlock's "p" on the side of his face.

"Why?"

"Bored."

John rolls to face him. "You didn't have to stay in bed, Sherlock."

A strange expression crosses Sherlock's face. "Of course I did."

"Why's that, then?"

"I…wanted to wake up with you," Sherlock says haltingly.

Oh. Oh, that's…surprising. To say the least. John peers at him for some hint of subterfuge, but Sherlock appears to be entirely sincere. Not that he isn't a brilliant actor, of course, but John is inclined to believe him—even if that's because it's entirely in John's best interests to do so.

John smiles. "And? How is it?"

Sherlock shrugs and rolls onto his back, presumably because it's a better pouting position. "It's not going as expected, thank you for asking."

"And why is that?"

"Not nearly enough sex."

"And that was on your morning docket, was it?" John tries very hard not to laugh.

"You know very well it was, John."

"Sherlock…" John shakes his head. "Sherlock, I didn't know that. How could I know that? This is all new to me, too."

"Not relationships." Sherlock says the word as if it were a curse. "You've had plenty of relationships before."

"Oh." John blinks and shifts uncomfortably in bed. "So you haven't—"

"No, John. Of course I haven't."

"But." John grimaces, then is shocked by horror when a thought occurs to him. "Have you— Did I—"

"If the question you're searching for is ‘Have you had sex before’ the answer is yes, I have. Just not…within the bounds of a relationship. Does that answer your question?"

Sherlock seems to be irritated, angry even, and John isn't quite sure how the morning became so uncomfortable so fast. Hadn't they just been kissing? "No. I haven't even started."

Sherlock's head turns, though his body stays still. "Must we?"

John laughs drily. "Yes. There are questions of experience, sexual history—"

"Oh, dull." Sherlock stares back at the ceiling.

"It's not dull, Sherlock, it's important stuff. Mind you, I think it might be a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, but we can do better next time."

Sherlock is silent and he blows out a breath. John watches the side of his face for movement. "I don't want to talk about my past…partners."

John swallows and thinks. "Okay. Okay, sure, you don't have to. Have you—"

"I'm clean. I haven't—" Sherlock pulls a face, exasperated and annoyed and a bit embarrassed all at once. "I was tested. At the…" He sighs and pushes his lips out into a moue.

John ventures a guess. "When you were at…the clinic or wherever you were?" He hasn't heard many details from Sherlock, but he knows it was not a pleasant time in his life. Sherlock nods, just once. John watches Sherlock's profile. "And there hasn't been anybody since, has there."

"Obviously."

"Quite." John cracks a smile just in time for Sherlock to turn his head and look at him curiously. John shrugs a shoulder. "The way you reacted last night when I touched you."

Sherlock scowls and looks up at the ceiling again. "How do you know I wouldn't have reacted to you like that regardless?"

"Would you have?" The question makes John's stomach flip.

It takes endless moments for Sherlock to answer. "Probably."

A riot of happiness erupts in John's chest. "Good."

Sherlock directs another scowl his way. "Why is that good? It's embarrassing."

John furrows his brow. "It's not embarrassing."

"It is to me."

"Sherlock," John sighs. "If we're going to do this, you're going to have to betray some reaction."

"I did. All over your hand."

John's skin prickles with the reminder. "That's not what I meant."

"Feelings, you mean."

"Yes. I know you have them."

For a moment it looks as if Sherlock is going to deny it, but then he just sighs. He doesn't say anything, though, just stares at a spot just over John's shoulder. Eventually he says, "I made you tea."

"You did." John smiles. "Yes you did."

"And I waited for you to wake up."

"That's true." John feels a wave of sympathy for Sherlock, for having been taught by life to hide so much away, for not even knowing how to go about reversing the effect even when he wants to. John knows Sherlock feels something for him—is sure of it, but it's obvious Sherlock barely knows where to start. John decides to let Sherlock take the lead on this, to go at his own speed, as arduous as it will be. John can handle going slower than usual, but he'll be damned if he'll break Sherlock by dragging him faster than he wants to go.

Sherlock's gaze shifts and suddenly he's looking into John's eyes. It's startling, shocking, and John's heart gives an extra-strong thump. Looking into Sherlock's eyes isn't foreign but the feeling in them is, and all that vulnerability melts John's resolve. He reaches over and touches Sherlock's face, leans close, and kisses him.

Immediately Sherlock opens his mouth. John lets himself fall into the kiss as deeply as Sherlock will allow, fitting their bodies together with ease, groaning at the sensation of all that skin. Sherlock lets out a tremendous moan and shoves his arms around John's lower back, pulling them tightly against each other and forcing a small, "oof" out of John. He rolls John over onto his back and lays on top of him, burying his face against John's neck and writhing unrelentingly.

His hair tickles John's face, and he's warm and a bit heavy, but it feels kind of glorious nonetheless. He sinks both hands into Sherlock's and curls his fingers in. Sherlock's hair is soft and springy and immensely pleasing. John smiles into it. Still squirming against John's body, Sherlock lifts his head and nuzzles into the side of John's face. John lets out a humming chuckle.

Sherlock puts his lips right up against John's ear and whispers. "Johhhhhn…"

John's entire nervous system shivers. "Don't do that."

Sherlock lets out the sexiest low chuckle and whispers again. "Do what, John?" he says into John's ear.

John breaks out in gooseflesh. "Oh, fuck you." He shudders and Sherlock laughs.

"That's what I'm hoping."

With a growl, John rises up and spills Sherlock onto his back. The surprised look on Sherlock's face is amusing as hell, but it quickly disappears as John kisses him with all his passion, with all his skill. The reaction is beautiful. Sherlock moans and whines, clutches convulsively at John's hips, and twitches his lower half against John's as if he lacks any control over the movement.

Which, perhaps, maybe he doesn't, John thinks, trying to remember what it was like to go without sex for so long and how good it was to have it again. And if Sherlock's previous experiences were with relative strangers or, worse, strung out and with other junkies, then damn the implications but John wants to make this something to remember.

If John had been concerned that come the daylight some sort of sexual crisis would occur—or at least some form of regret—he needn't have. As much as he still remains wary of Sherlock's mercurial mood swings, John's body wholeheartedly approves of the situation. He feels his cock twitch against Sherlock's hip, filling heartbeat by heartbeat, and in reaction Sherlock's expression morphs to one of base arousal. It's all the warning John gets before Sherlock plunders his mouth in a kiss that lacks any nuance whatsoever. This is just Sherlock taking what he wants and John — Well, lord help him, but John finds it kind of lovely. He wraps his limbs tightly around Sherlock, throwing a leg over his hip, and is pleased by the broken sound Sherlock makes into John's mouth.

"Oh, that's so much better than I imagined," Sherlock says all on one breath, and wriggles in tight against John's body.

"You've thought about it?" John cannot possibly keep the smile from his face.

"You have no idea," Sherlock says. His eyes are dark.

"And that's why you waited in bed for me this morning."

There's a curious moment of hesitation before Sherlock's tosses his head in agreement. "I wanted to get started as soon as possible."

"Proving your hypotheses."

"Yes."

They start to grin at each other—stupid, dopey expressions—from a few inches away, when John realises Sherlock is still laying on top of him. He leans up, presses a kiss to Sherlock’s mouth, and smiles.

Sherlock’s expression morphs, flashing about twelve kinds of emotion before he hides his face against John's shoulder. "John."

John shoves both hands in Sherlock's hair. "Doing okay?"

Sherlock nods.

"Do you want me?"

There's a drawn-out silence. Finally Sherlock says, in a muffled and irritated voice, "Yes. Obviously. What a stupid question, John."

Which strikes John as incredibly funny, for some reason. Maybe it's the jitters, and maybe it's pent-up arousal, but for whatever reason he lets his head fall back onto the pillow and laughs and laughs.

Sherlock lifts his head to look at him accusingly, but after a moment he quirks a smile and begins chuckling along with him. They're holding on to each other, naked and bound by a laughter that has grown less about the joke and more about everything else, and John realises he is abundantly, transcendently happy.

And he can kiss Sherlock whenever he wants. He strikes, lifting his head and taking Sherlock's lower lip between his, making a high, plaintive hum of affection. Sherlock sucks in a surprised breath but lets it out in a low moan, and the kiss is slow, deliberate, gorgeously thick with emotion. The tension in John's chest draws up like a bow.

He finds his hands back in Sherlock's hair and he holds on as they kiss and kiss and kiss, bodies pressing together and rolling back in gentle waves of passion. Sherlock slides his hand down from the side of John's face and drags his fingertips across his neck to rest his hand over John's heart. The kiss breaks momentarily as they catch their breath and then begins again.

John revels in Sherlock's mouth, in the heat and hardness of his body, and in the unbelievable gentleness of his hands as they explore John's body. His blood feels effervescent with joy. He hitches his thigh higher on Sherlock to try and get closer and his eyelids flutter when Sherlock's hand slides down his thigh to grasp his arse. They rock together, slowly.

John's fingers find the back of Sherlock's neck and rest there, stroking and ruffling the soft hair, and he gasps when Sherlock presses languorous kisses down his neck and across his shoulder. He feels dizzy, delirious, and his lungs strain for enough air. He realises he's shaking and so, for that matter, is Sherlock.

"Oh god," he pants, and strains up against Sherlock's body. "Oh my god."

Sherlock's fingers claw on John's flank and he scrapes his teeth on the meat of John's shoulder. He lets out a long, broken, groan.

"What do you need?" John murmurs into Sherlock's ear, breathing heavily.

"More."

"Yes." John mouths at Sherlock's neck and behind his ear. "Sherlock," he says on a shaking exhalation.

Sherlock's hands tighten on John's body and the sound he makes is a breathy whimper. John's heart flutters at the reaction. He lifts both hands again to tilt Sherlock's head and kiss him with every ounce of feeling in him. Sherlock breaks the kiss after a few minutes and presses his forehead to John's to gasp for air. A high moan tears from his throat.

"Jesus, Sherlock," John gasps. He opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling. His vision feels like it's swimming and his eyes won't focus. John's eyes flicker closed and he moans back.

Sherlock sucks a kiss on John's neck, making his body arch up against Sherlock's, then is shocked to feel Sherlock's hand push between their bodies. There's an indistinct fumbling which resolves to the sensation of Sherlock's fingers wrapped around John's cock and what seems to be Sherlock’s cock pressed against the underside, and John feels an incredible twist of arousal at the concept. It’s shocking, the feel of it, hard and soft and unbearably, terrifyingly intimate. He makes an embarrassing noise which seems over-loud in the still of the morning. Sherlock rolls his hips and John scrabbles for a handhold in the sheets while his eyes roll back.

"Sherlock," John says, panting and rocked by the pleasure.

"Not good?" Sherlock's voice sounds wrecked.

John moves his head in a confusion of nodding and shaking it side to side. "Oh, god. No, very good." He isn't going to survive this. He can barely breathe.

"Should I continue?"

John opens his eyes and stares into Sherlock's. "Please," he whispers, and the look on Sherlock's face becomes stunning. He deliberately rolls his hips without breaking the gaze, and John's vision blurs momentarily but he doesn't shut his eyes. The connection, the intimacy warms him and dials his arousal up a notch. John whimpers.

Sherlock does it again and this time John's mouth opens a little wider as he lets out a quiet cry. Sherlock's eyes flare as wide as saucers and his breath comes quicker, louder, so John can see his chest heave.

"Oh my god," John exhales. "Oh my god." Sherlock's face goes vague and unfocused and then he starts rolling his hips steadily, evenly, rocking forward into his hand and against John's body. John can't stop watching the changing expressions of pleasure on his face, and stares until Sherlock drops his head to John's shoulder and groans.

It's so warm like this, and Sherlock's breath is hot and damp, and the only thing that could make this better would be lubrication because this is starting to hurt. "Sherlock," John gasps out. "Too dry."

Sherlock groans. Then in a flurry of flying duvet and long limbs he climbs over John to the bedside table and pulls out a sticky bottle of lube. His hands visibly shake as he dumps a puddle into his palm and tosses the bottle aside. He's back on top of John within thirty seconds.

"We're not in any rush," John says, amused.

"You may not be."

"Somewhere you have to go?"

Sherlock pins John with a look. "I've waited too long for this. I don't want to wait anymore."

Before John can process this Sherlock has completely shorted out his brain by slicking both cocks, wrapping his hand around them, and rocking against John with smooth, wet, thrusts.

John's eyes flutter closed and he rolls his head back and forth on the pillow. "Shit. Shit. Shit. Oh god, that feels so good. Oh god, Sherlock, wait. Wait." He flails for Sherlock's hip and grabs on, stilling him. He opens his eyes. Sherlock is looking down in concern. "Together," John says, and Sherlock's eyes open wider. Both of them are panting.

This time when Sherlock thrusts, John rolls his hips with him. They eventually get the timing down—slow, deliberate, frenulum brushing against frenulum as they push through the circle of Sherlock's fingers—and it feels so stunningly good that a groan escapes them both each time they thrust. They are still staring into each other's eyes.

Just when the intimacy seems too much to take, Sherlock's head falls again to John's shoulder. John runs his hands up and down Sherlock's back, moaning, and Sherlock's panting turns into whimpers.

Then Sherlock pauses, and John thinks he's about to come, but instead he shifts his weight and fumbles for John's hand. Sherlock leans back down and puts his weight on his elbow again, but this time he's clutching on. John threads their fingers together as Sherlock resumes thrusting and stares in astonishment at the side of Sherlock's face.

In all the fantasies John had concocted, there's one thing he never envisioned: making love to Sherlock. He whimpers, his heart breaking slightly. In all his dreams, he never would have imagined feeling so adored. He furrows his brow and his jaw drops, then he nuzzles into the side of Sherlock's head, a quiet whining noise in his throat.

He feels wrapped up in Sherlock, surrounded. Everything is warm skin, the tight grip of his large hand on their cocks, their fingers linked together, with Sherlock's curls in his face and hot breath collecting in the crook of his neck. John writhes with bliss and love, and thrusts harder against Sherlock.

Sherlock's hand in his squeezes and he groans louder. "Oh fuck," he whimpers.

The noise makes John reel. The noise of Sherlock breaking down is heady, breathtaking, world-stopping. John tugs gently at Sherlock's hair and rubs his hand down the back of Sherlock's neck, down his spine, scrapes his nails on Sherlock's arse and all the way back up, and Sherlock's reaction is electric. He shudders and cries out, and he grinds down against John's body.

Jesus christ. John can't handle this anymore. He lets himself go, rutting up into Sherlock's hand and against his body, nuzzling at his face, nipping his ear, moaning over and over and over again, feeling so much passion that it chokes him. His orgasm starts building and it feels like a fist squeezing at the base of him, winding everything up, making every movement, every thrust feel like bliss. He grabs on to Sherlock’s back and cries out over and over, unable to keep silent. Then the climax hits them. Sherlock lets out a guttural, inhuman noise and clutches at John as he comes, riding John's body through wave after wave of ecstasy. He doesn't let go, just moans and shudders and grinds slickly down on John, lost in it. John watches, wide-eyed, and is blindsided by his own orgasm ploughing into him without warning. He comes too, shouting to the ceiling as it wracks him and he pulses repeatedly in pleasure against the body on top of him. It draws out for ages as they refuse to stop moving; even after the first burst of orgasm recedes they're still writhing against each other, kissing languorously with each breath as their pulses slow. Sherlock smears his mouth down the side of John's face to kiss a sloppy line on his neck and across his shoulder. John's hips give a desultory twitch upward and he grunts.

Pleasure is singing in his body, making his extremities feel heavy and numb and unwilling to behave. Still, when Sherlock shovels his arms under John's shoulders to wrap them up and around and grip on to John's trapezius muscles, effectively locking around John’s upper body, John squeezes Sherlock’s shoulders. Breathing heavily, they kiss again, and again, a repeated wet press of mouths that becomes a compulsion. Only after John pulls gently on Sherlock's hair and smooths it back does the kiss break, and then just for Sherlock to suck in a hitching breath and let it out with a plaintive moan. John is swamped by the sound of Sherlock's emotion and the kiss begins again, this time fuelled by so much love it hurts. After a minute Sherlock breaks the kiss with a sob and buries his face against John's neck, breathing raggedly.

Something floats back to John as higher thinking reasserts itself. I've waited too long for this. I don't want to wait anymore. Has Sherlock actually been in love with John? Knowing about it, day after day, and hiding it, not doing a thing about it? Has he been living in the painful assumption his feelings would never be reciprocated? John's heart breaks at the thought and he rubs his hand soothingly up and down Sherlock's ribs. With the other hand he cradles the back of Sherlock's neck. Christ, Sherlock, I love you so much, he thinks desperately, and presses his temple to Sherlock's as if he could transfer the thoughts from skin to skin.

"John?" Sherlock says, as he recovers enough to lifts his head and give John a soft kiss.

John holds his face in both hands to keep him in place and lengthen the kiss into a lazy play of tongues and breath. He feels the unfamiliar prickle of what seems to be beard burn on his jaw. "Mmm-hmm?"

"We need a shower," Sherlock rumbles, then flicks his tongue against John's.

"And a shave," John says, then with a wave of affection pulls Sherlock down on him for a cuddle. To his continuing surprise Sherlock goes willingly, wrapping himself around John with a hum of happiness. Sex, then cuddling, and I've never felt so goddamn cherished in my life. John squeezes his eyes closed against the press of aching emotion. John holds him in a tight hug as Sherlock burrows in closer then lets out a long, shuddering sigh as he settles into place along John's side, half on top of him. John suspects this might be a position they find themselves in a lot, and the thought warms him, even if Sherlock’s jaw is pointy. "Seconded," he says, shifting Sherlock to a more comfortable angle, then presses a kiss on the fuzzy head weighing down his shoulder.

"What, the shower?" Sherlock says, his voice muffled against John's skin.

"All of it," John says. "Everything."


The thought terrifies and thrills John in equal parts as he sees Sherlock's shy, brilliant smile beckoning him in under the shower spray.

This could be the first day of the rest of my life with you.

He doesn't say anything because he suspects Sherlock would scoff and call it romantic tripe, but he has to do something so he steps into the tub and wraps his arms around Sherlock to hold him close. The water is hot and blissful on one side of John’s body and the mist is cold on the other. He burrows in harder to try and warm himself, waiting impatiently for the stall to fill with steam.

Sherlock's hands roam greedily all over every bit of John's skin he can reach. "Categorising?" John asks, swallowing down his emotion to appropriate levels.

"Memorising," Sherlock says.

"What, you think I won't let you do this pretty much any time you want?" There's a telling silence, and John looks up into Sherlock's inscrutable face. John lets out a forceful breath. "You're a moron." He smiles and kisses the ridiculous scowl that forms on Sherlock's face. "An idiot. A right dunce."

"John…"

"Where the fuck do you think I'm going?"

"John…"

John kisses him a few times, delighted for once by Sherlock's inability to read emotions. "You couldn't get rid of me before. What makes you think it will be easier now? Idiot."

Sherlock takes him by the face and kisses him thoroughly. John doesn't for one moment suspect it wasn't just to shut him up, though he does admit he enjoys Sherlock's method. It tastes like shower water, and John smiles. He's happy. He's shagged-out and starving and ready for a nap, but Sherlock is touching him in intimate places as if he couldn't bear to stop and John is furiously happy about it all.

Then Sherlock's stomach rumbles and the happiness morphs into joy. John laughs into Sherlock's mouth. "Transport becoming a problem?"

"I suspected this was going to happen," Sherlock says, but he doesn't sound too put-out.

"Are we going to have to feed you after the shower?"

"Don't try to pretend you won't be eating as well."

"Of course I will."

"Of course you will."

John pulls back to peer up at Sherlock's smirk, though water splashes into his eyes. "What are you trying to say?"

"Nothing. I just want you to keep up your strength."

Which is somehow hilarious, coming from Sherlock. Since when has he cared overmuch about John’s bodily needs? "What, exactly, are you planning?"

Sherlock tilts his head down to rumble into John's ear over the sound of the shower. "What do you think?"

John shivers as a flood of adrenaline pulses through him. "You've got to stop doing that."

"Not a chance." Sherlock chuckles, sounding a bit sinister, but smiles as he disengages from John to grab the shower gel and a flannel.

Hands full of suds, Sherlock steps in close and nuzzles the side of John's face. John, for his part, is stunned in astonishment. Sherlock is rubbing soap all over John's back and arse and thighs, but he seems to be too sidetracked kissing John to bother being as fastidious as John had fantasised yesterday. His hands idly trail over John's skin and his mouth nips at John's throat, and without much input from his brain John ducks his head to kiss him again, fully.

Both of Sherlock's hands close on John's arse and pull him close, the sodden flannel trailing water down the back of John's knee. It tickles, so John shifts his weight, and Sherlock takes that as a hint and yanks John so tight against his body it's difficult to breathe. Sherlock groans. John starts laughing.

"What…" Sherlock scrapes his teeth on John's lip. "…Is so funny?"

John holds on desperately to Sherlock's upper arms. "If I lose my balance, we're both going down. Imagine the indignity."

Sherlock loosens his grip slightly and chuckles. "Let's hurry up, then. I have plans."

"I bet you do," John says as he reaches for the shampoo, trying to sidetrack himself from the pathetic throb in his groin that comes from musing what Sherlock's plans might be. He looks at Sherlock and freezes. Now that he's stepped back he can take in the whole picture before him: Sherlock's sculpted form, dripping wet, his hair black and slicked back from his high, aristocratic forehead, the cheekbones and the mouth and the large hands and the endearing moles on his neck and shoulder. John exhales in a rush. "You are so beautiful," he whispers, astonished at himself and hoping Sherlock won't hear him over the sound of the water hitting tile.

Which, of course, is a vain hope. Sherlock's head shoots up and he stares at John for a long, frozen moment before a look of amazement steals over his face. He stops pouring shampoo into his hand, puts down the bottle, and steps in close to John again, tilting his head down to examine his face. John watches his eyes as they move rapidly, taking in all of John's expression, before a twitch of a furrow appears in Sherlock's forehead and he ducks his face down to press his mouth emphatically against John's. Sherlock's hands come up and smooth John's hair back from his face. They smell like Sherlock’s shampoo. “Turn around,” Sherlock murmurs into John’s ear.

John shivers and does so, and Sherlock steps in until his front is hot against John’s back, his breathing deep and steady as he focuses. His dexterous fingers start to curl against John’s scalp, scratching gently. Sherlock rouses thick, herbal suds from John’s hair, the familiar scent heady and rich in the hot steam of the shower, and he works the shampoo in with great thoroughness, massaging every single inch of John’s scalp. Pleasure and satisfaction spread like warmth through John’s limbs.

It feels as if Sherlock is worshipping him with his hands, with the body pressed up close against John’s, and it makes his world spin. With a sigh he lets his head fall back onto Sherlock’s shoulder and Sherlock runs his fingers through the suds, over and over, a slow drag of fingertips from John’s hairline back over his scalp that pricks up his nerve endings and makes him shiver. By the time Sherlock has spun them into the shower spray and rinsed out the shampoo, John’s limbs are covered in gooseflesh and his knees feel like jelly. Perplexingly, he feels both empty and full at the same time.

John turns in Sherlock’s embrace and cradles him close as they start kissing again, slowly, deliberately, and John realises after a few minutes that Sherlock is shaking. His skin is warm, however, and John wants to be in bed with him now.

Sherlock breaks the kiss and nuzzles his forehead against John's temple as he catches his breath. "We should finish. The hot water is going to run out in three minutes."

John isn't sure if Sherlock is inventing the precision or not, but he doesn't much care. He kisses Sherlock's cheek, then rests his mouth against the stubble for a moment as he waits for his universe to stop reeling. "I'm done,” he says, his voice rough in his ears. “I’m gonna go shave."

Sherlock makes an affirmative hum and releases him. John gives him a kiss and staggers out of the shower.

He wets his face, then has to stop and hold on to the edge of the sink until he stops trembling. His legs feel watery and weak. He takes a deep breath and exhales slowly, trying to get his system under control enough so that he can put a razor against his skin without fear of injury. He feels sick with lust, dizzy with love, and he forces himself to swallow through a thick throat as hormones flood through him like a devastating tide. He grips onto the handle of his razor, hard. Apparently love is not enough like a battlefield to keep John’s hands from shaking.

“John?”

“Mm?” John doesn’t trust his voice.

“Hand me another flannel?”

John does so, but when he reaches past the shower curtain Sherlock grabs his arm and holds on. He pulls, and John leans into the shower enough to see Sherlock’s astonishingly bright grin.

“Kiss?” Sherlock says.

John pulls a face. “I just dried off.”

“I don’t care.” Sherlock’s smile hasn’t faded, and John realises through the haze that this is Sherlock, and he appears to be happy. Breathtakingly, blindingly happy. More than that, John makes him happy, as does the prospect of a kiss, and so John can’t bring himself to deny him one.

He doesn’t really want to deny him anything.

So John leans further into the shower. It soaks his hair immediately, and the water trickles in rivulets down his back to the crack of his arse and onto the shower mat, but John kisses Sherlock with all his heart.

Sherlock hums as John pulls back again, looking blissed out. He scratches his fingernails on John’s cheeks. “Don’t shave. I like the stubble.”

John blinks at him, then laughs. “Look at my jaw. I’ve already got beard burn. Shave, or no more kissing.” Sherlock looks exaggeratedly wounded, and John giggles as he leans in for one extra kiss to Sherlock’s sandpapery cheek before leaving Sherlock to finish his shower. He catches the flash of a smile on Sherlock’s face before he closes the curtain again.

Buoyed by happiness, he goes back to the sink to find his nerves have settled enough that he can finally shave. As he rubs foam on his cheeks he stares into the mirror at the muddled reflection of Sherlock behind the shower curtain, and John wonders with a soft tightness in his chest how he’s going to get through the day being swamped by so much desire and happiness and love.

…And then he’s hit with the smack of a wet flannel on the back of his head at the very moment he’s poised with the razor over his cheek, and there’s suspicious chortling coming from the region of the shower.

“You utter twat.” The chortles turn to snickering, and John haphazardly wipes the foam from his face with a random towel and rips open the shower curtain. Water sprays all over the floor but John doesn’t care; he’s too full of happiness and mock-vengeance to worry about it at the moment. “I’ll have you for that.”

“For what?” Sherlock blinks innocently.

“I was shaving! There was literally a razor at my face.” John steps back into the shower and snaps the curtain closed behind him. He directs the shower spray directly at Sherlock’s face and giggles. “I could have been wounded.”

Sherlock’s spluttering in indignation seems either to be hampered or helped by the water in his mouth, but his chuckling when he thwacks John on the side with the second of the flannels is unmistakable. “You hadn’t even started yet,” he says, and aims a wrapping shot that hits John on the arse. He giggles—actually giggles—and John is shocked into a strange comprehension: this is Sherlock, flirting with a ferocity and disregard for his surroundings, joy leaking out his pores and shining in his eyes, and the sight melts the last knot of resistance in John’s chest. He’d never imagined Sherlock with this sort of playfulness. It’s a beautiful surprise.

John crows and crowds Sherlock into the corner of the stall, delighted that even their version of flirting involves violence, and snatches at the flannel to wrest control of it. John pins one of Sherlock’s wrists to the wall and grabs with his free hand, but Sherlock traps it and twists it halfway up John’s back just to the very edge of strain. It puts them both within kissing range again, and John bites at Sherlock’s mouth. Distracted, he’s forgotten about the flannel enough that Sherlock can pull free and smack John’s arse with it again.

They’re laughing into each other’s mouths, trying not to slip, when the water turns cold. Sherlock shoves John back and under the full, shocking spray, and John gasps when the freezing water hits his back. Sherlock steps in and holds him there while John tries to pull air into his lungs in spite of the spasming of his intercostals. The shower stall is filled with childish squeals and full-voiced laughter, and John suddenly knows it down into his rapidly-chilling marrow: this is going to be a fantastic day.

Chapter Text

Sherlock is riding a horse.

"Come on, John!" he yells back over his shoulder, his coat streaming out behind him like a 17th-century cloak. He gallops off and John tries to follow but the horse under him is skittish, worming, unbiddable. He looks down and it's some sort of black serpent, breathing steam and swerving from side to side any time John pulls on the reins. He tries to spur the beast on to catch up with Sherlock but he just falls farther and farther behind.

He feels immensely angry at this. He's frustrated and all that frustration is caught up in his chest, closing up his throat, and he kicks the beast in the sides with his heels but the thing is armour plated, unable to be pricked, uncontrollable and wild. He tries to dismount so he can run for himself but he seems to be stuck in the stirrups. He yanks and pulls, cursing, and he gives one great heave and the thing finally lets go, dumping him off just as the black serpent jets off into the undergrowth. John is falling, feeling like Alice down the rabbit hole, and then he finds himself caught by two strong arms.

"John, why didn't you follow me?" Sherlock asks into his ear, his voice dark. John breaks out in gooseflesh all over his arms and the hairs on the back of his neck rise. John slips from Sherlock's grip and when he turns around Sherlock is standing there in the middle of a glade naked as a newborn.

"Where did your coat go?" John says. He reaches out but his hand passes right through Sherlock's body.

"It's run off ahead," Sherlock says. "You have to ride." Sherlock steps up close and John's heart is racing. Everything feels thick and syrupy. He reaches out again and his hand closes on Sherlock's upper arm, heat rolling off him.

"You're so warm," John says, and he lies down, melting to the ground.

"We have to get to the crime scene, John." Sherlock kneels over him, casting heat like a exothermic reaction. John breaks out in a sweat as his hands trace the outline of Sherlock's hips. Sherlock's skin feels like some sort of soft spun-cotton thing, but hot to the touch, and he straddles John. "Let's go, John."

John bucks up into him and Sherlock's torso writhes on top of him. Sherlock grinds down and rolls his hips over and over, moaning, his lithe body undulating, breastless, boneless almost, shining pale in the moonlight. As much heat as he was giving off he's even warmer on the inside.

"You have a fever. I should take your temperature," John says, and the pleasure Sherlock is causing him makes everything hazy.

"You already are," Sherlock explains. He slides his hand up and down his cock and John can feel it on his own, fingers like ridges, individually distinguishable. "John," Sherlock announces calmly, "I am going to come." The tension draws up and—

 

John gasps himself awake, sweating profusely. And no wonder; Sherlock is laying on top of him and throwing off heat like a furnace.

"Good, you're awake," Sherlock says. He seems to have been so for ages, and he's idly playing with his phone with his right hand, his chin propped in his left fist over John's sternum.

John's heart hammers in his chest and he breathes deeply to try and calm himself. He exhales through pursed lips.

"Good morning. Give me a blowjob," says Sherlock, and for a moment John thinks he must still be dreaming.

"What?" John says, his voice rough with sleep.

"I'd like a blowjob this morning. Your mouth would feel amazing, and I would like to come again soon because it's been twelve hours and that's too long for a new relationship."

John says the only sentence he can form in his sleep-sodden brain. "According to what?"

"…Research," Sherlock says in that tone of voice that John thinks of as shifty. "Don't tell me you haven't thought about blowjobs."

"I have, Sherlock, but just…not—" John sighs. "Oh my god, just give me a moment to wake up."

"You have five minutes. But if you could manage it sooner than that, it would be appreciated." Sherlock shifts his hips and John realises he's hard as a rock and pressing against John's thigh. Jesus.

"Did you wake me up just to have sex with you?" John says and scrubs his face vigorously with the arm that can reach. The other is tangled in the covers somewhere.

Sherlock's expression flashes scorn. "Don't be ridiculous. You woke yourself."

"I don't believe you."

"Mind you, if I had, it would be to your benefit. That sounded like a nightmare, but you were getting aroused, the combination of which doesn't sound very auspicious for morning sex."

John thuds his head back on the pillow and growls at the ceiling. "One day," he says. "We've been together one day and you're already annoying the shit out of me."

Sherlock scowls. "Fine." He throws the duvet off and John feels a delicious rush of cool air. But Sherlock climbs off the bed and grabs his dressing gown in a huff. "I'm going to masturbate in the lounge. You know what that's like."

Then he is gone, and John lays there blinking up at the ceiling. What the living fuck is going on with his life? He exhales slowly and rolls out of bed. His legs feel like jelly.

After their shower yesterday, they’d had breakfast then ended up working off their meal with an enthusiastic round of handjobs and a stupid amount of kissing. They’d ordered takeaway and stayed in bed throughout the rest of the night, and with all that lazing-about briefly punctuated by intense activity John's muscles now ache to high heaven. He’d been planning more romance for today, with a hot bath and maybe a walk, but as he adds massages to the list he wonders if Sherlock is going to agree to any of this.

Well, maybe not if he's off having an angry and solitary wank, John realises, and hurries into the lounge. Sherlock is sprawled out on the sofa with his dressing gown thrown open, a pale slash of skin on dark blue and grey, and he is running his fist lazily over his erection with his head tilted back and his eyes closed.

John walks over to stand at the head of the sofa and Sherlock opens his eyes. Neither of them says anything for a long moment.

"You know I have absolutely no experience doing this," John says.

"You've received enough of them," Sherlock replies.

That is…true. John kneels down next to Sherlock's groin and takes a steadying breath. He looks up and catches a stunningly vulnerable expression on Sherlock's face, and it melts John, just a little. He brushes the fringe off Sherlock's forehead with his fingertips and tries to give him a little smile. "You could have just asked nicely."

"I did."

"No, Sherlock." John huffs a laugh through his nose. "No you didn't."

Sherlock swallows and gives him a quick nod of assent, the tiny wrinkle above his nose forming. John leans up and kisses it. Then he settles back to assess the job ahead of him.

He decides to start slow, so he nuzzles into Sherlock's pubic hair. It is…sort of nice, John decides. It smells like Sherlock's shower gel and a bit musky, a bit warm. The scent is comforting. He feels Sherlock shift and hears him inhale, so he turns his head to look past Sherlock's torso to his face. His head is thrown back so John can't see his expression, but judging by the tension in the fist Sherlock has above his head with his arm half up the back of the sofa, John can extrapolate pretty well what that expression is.

Sherlock's passion is flattering; John hasn't even really got down to it yet. He noses against the base of Sherlock's cock and hears a hiss. It sends a corresponding thrill down to John's groin. Well, this is one way to wake up, he thinks. John opens his mouth and slicks it up and down the underside of Sherlock's cock a few times to see what happens. Sherlock sucks in shaky breath and grips the back of the sofa as if trying to hold himself onto the earth. Okay then.

After that, John just goes on instinct. He takes the head of Sherlock's cock in his mouth and shivers at the sound Sherlock makes, and the dull saltiness isn't really what he was expecting. It's kind of…not really a big deal, John thinks, unless he considers it in the wider scheme of things—their escalating relationship, the fact that this very well might be Sherlock's first blow job in nearly ten years, or it might even be Sherlock's first blow job ever—and so John tries not to think about it at all.

He sucks on the head, trying to make his mouth as soft and wet as possible, and the noise Sherlock makes is inhuman. Between the sounds Sherlock is making and the sympathetic knowledge of what this feels like, John finds that giving a blowjob is incredibly arousing.

Gripping the base of Sherlock's cock with one hand, John spreads out the saliva that he's drooled all over the shaft. Sherlock whines, high and broken, and John remembers how Sherlock had reacted that first night to John using his spit as a lubricant. No wonder Sherlock was craving a blowjob; this is right up his street.

Which is itself a turn-on, if John is honest with himself. He bobs his head and slides his hand on the shaft and has just decided that he's doing a fair enough job for his first time when Sherlock thrusts his hips up and nearly chokes him.

He splutters and coughs, and Sherlock apologises through his panting. It's odd enough to hear Sherlock apologise in the first place, but hearing him do it for this reason makes John chuckle. He kisses Sherlock's lower belly and thinks for a second.

"Here," he says, and pulls Sherlock's thigh off the sofa so his leg dangles off the side. John traps it with his body as he leans over and exhales a warm breath over Sherlock's cock to watch it jump. "Better."

"Mmm…" Sherlock says vaguely, and John realises he might be alone in this one. He's shut off Sherlock's ridiculous brain, and John is flushed with pride. So he goes in for it again with almost double the enthusiasm, and when Sherlock starts crying out John is very glad they've locked the door. He'd rather have to apologise to Mrs. Hudson later and be embarrassed than have to explain in the midst of it.

Sherlock squirms and reaffirms his grip on the back of the sofa and lets out a long sequence of high, broken noises that John would mistake for pain in any other circumstance which didn't involve Sherlock trying (with the working remainder of his frontal lobe) not to thrust up into John's mouth. Sherlock drags the hand resting on John's shoulder into employment elsewhere—stroking John's back, kneading the nape of his neck, shoving up into John's hair, then back down again, restlessly touching John as the rest of his body tightens up. John uses a slick hand to roll Sherlock's balls and pull gently on them, and Sherlock's breathing changes. He makes a plaintive, "oh, oh, oh," before fisting his free hand in John's hair and pulling. John ignores him. With the sensitivity of John's mouth he can feel it: a sudden thickening, Sherlock becoming even harder before he lets out a loud, guttural groan and the first spasm of orgasm begins. Sherlock's cock twitches and fills John's mouth. The texture isn't much different from John's own semen, but it seems like a lot more when it's in his mouth alongside a cock, and he swallows as quickly as possible but some leaks out and drips down onto Sherlock's pubic hair.

Sherlock lost in orgasm is a beautiful, alien creature. He's all about sensation, writhing in it, unconstrained, unhindered. His face is almost exactly what John had expected, but in his fantasies he had always imagined Sherlock to retain a bit of self-possession, of grace.

This is a different kind of grace, John supposes. It's a human body abandoned to pleasure, feeling every spasm and flood of hormones, every twitch, every squeeze. Sherlock lifts up both knees and spreads them wide as he finishes coming, rolling up his hips in an obscene reflexive movement which flashes his arse at John and makes John want to fuck Sherlock with every fibre of his being.

John presses his face to Sherlock's thigh and gasps, gnawing on the flesh and rocking his hips against the side of the sofa. Sherlock in orgasm is the sexiest thing John has ever witnessed, and he can't believe he gets to have this in his life.

Sherlock is yanking on John's upper arm, and John goes willingly. Heedless of the mess he crawls on top of Sherlock and kisses him, open-mouthed and sloppy. Sherlock kneads the back of John's dressing gown until it's rucked up around his waist. Then he wedges his hand between them to grope down John's front and John sees a look of surprise flash across Sherlock's face.

"Did you doubt it?" John says, his vision a little hazy with the feel of Sherlock's hand on his cock and the smell of sex in the air. Sherlock rubs his palm on the underside of John's cock and John lets his head fall forward with pleasure.

Sherlock ducks up and kisses him again, voraciously. John feels Sherlock's hand on the move, sliding around to John's arse. John is jolted by the feeling of Sherlock's fingers tracing up and down the crack—not invading, just testing the boundary. John's hips hitch forward away from the touch and Sherlock chuckles, a low sexy thing that John both loathes and loves for two very different reasons. "Ticklish?" Sherlock says.

"In a matter of speaking," John says. He's not sure rationally how he feels about someone penetrating him, but clearly some part of his brain is not on board yet. He wonders idly if that will come with time.

"Stand up," Sherlock says, his voice still rough. John clambers off him to stand aside, a bit self-conscious of his erection, and is surprised to see Sherlock use his own dressing gown to mop himself off. "Now sit," Sherlock says, and while John’s a bit wary of what Sherlock has in mind he does so anyway.

Which turns out to be a good plan, because Sherlock immediately drops to his knees in front of John and starts running his large hands up John's thighs.

Oh.

Oh.

John's heart starts to speed as he shifts his hips and settles back into the sofa. Sherlock is biting his lip coquettishly, and—unsurprisingly—it's a good look on him. "You don't mind?" Sherlock says, and John very nearly laughs.

"Mind you reciprocating? No, Sherlock, I do not."

"Good," Sherlock says shortly before he dives into the task with all the enthusiasm usually reserved for science and murder. He actually lets out a noise of pleasure before his mouth closes over John's cock, and it makes John's head fall back against the cushion even before Sherlock's lips touch him.

"Better come quickly," Sherlock says somehow, even though his mouth is still moving on John's cock. "You're going to have to clean up this mess before I get home."

The fantasy echoes in John's head, and after a moment John drags it up to watch Sherlock again. The sight erases the memory of that fantasy completely. Sherlock appears to be sucking him as if this were something he'd been waiting for his entire life. He makes a little whimper in his throat on every breath, and his eyes are closed, and his hands have gripped on to John's hips so hard he may be leaving bruises. John wracks what's left of his brain to try and remember the last time he received so passionate a blowjob but he can't; Sherlock is treating him like something glorious, something beautiful, and the thought steals John's breath. His jaw falls open as the overwhelming pleasure of it suffuses him. It's wet and hot and perfect, incredibly sincere, and before he knows it John sobs out to try and ease the pressure in his chest. Delicately, he brushes Sherlock's fringe out of his face and Sherlock's eyes open. It slows everything down to slow-motion, even the curl of Sherlock's tongue against John's cock, and John is trapped in it for an eternity before he palms Sherlock's face, leans forward, and kisses Sherlock with all his heart. Sherlock makes a gorgeous whining noise and John breaks the kiss to gasp.

"Jesus. Jesus." He flops back against the sofa again and groans. "Oh god, Sherlock." John rolls his hips slightly and Sherlock is on him again. John's climax is barrelling down on him faster than he'd have thought possible after the last two days, but whether purposeful or not Sherlock has found what appears to be John's achilles heel: emotion mixed with oral sex. It's perfect—sloppy and emphatic—and the look in Sherlock's eyes stays with John until the knot of pleasure between his legs tightens and he feels his balls draw up. Sherlock's movements become frenzied in the last moments and it makes John's mind go completely white before he's rocked by orgasm. Somewhere on the periphery of his consciousness he hears Sherlock groaning over and over, and he's doing something to the shaft that makes John feel like he just keeps coming and coming.

Finally Sherlock sits back and lets John slump bonelessly and twitch with aftershocks. Sherlock presses hard kisses to the inside of his thigh down near his knee, but instead of irritating it's just sort of…sweet. It's a far cry from the saucy, sarky Sherlock John had expected, and as he floats on the sea of hormones he admits to himself that being wrong, in this case, feels a little bit amazing.

Sherlock crawls up to straddle John's lap. He drapes his arms about John's neck and nuzzles his temple against John's. John sighs as his nervous system settles back into place and his hands come up to cradle Sherlock's lower back.

"Thank you," he croaks out, and rubs Sherlock's back. He seems to need it. For that matter, perhaps they both need this: affection, closeness, warmth. John buries his face into the crook of Sherlock's neck and breathes, and something tight in his chest eases. This whole affair is proceeding in an unexpected way, and John will take the comfort in whatever form it comes.

"Thank you," Sherlock says, voice muffled. The feeling of his breath on John's neck makes him involuntarily shudder, and he clutches Sherlock close so he doesn't take that as a hint to get up.

Not that it seems Sherlock is going anywhere anyway. He seems settled in for the long haul, and John wonders whether his legs or Sherlock's are going to fall asleep first. He wishes Sherlock had let him stretch out on the sofa before attaching like a barnacle. John rubs his long, bare back and Sherlock shivers and tries to wriggle closer.

"Sherlock," John whispers. "Don't you want to get more comfortable?"

"Am."

"More comfortable than this?"

Sherlock ignores him, which is usual par for the course when John suggests something Sherlock doesn't want to do but also doesn't want to waste energy arguing about it. John wonders what's going on in Sherlock's head. He cards his fingers through Sherlock's curls and lets him be for a little while. Sherlock makes a tiny noise of pleasure and tries to squirm closer.

John's legs are just starting to fall asleep when Sherlock speaks. "I thought about this when I went walking."

What else is there to say? "Did you?"

"Falling asleep on you. With your taste in my mouth."

Oh. "What else did you think about?"

"What noises you'd probably make in bed. Your manner. How much sex I could get away with before you kicked me out of your room."

"Get away with?"

"Whether it would ruin my ability to focus during cases. How I could protect you from backlash."

"Protect me from…the hell, Sherlock?"

"What I would do when you'd inevitably finished with me."

"Jesus christ, stop."

Sherlock falls silent.

John speaks. "When I'd finished with you?"

"Of course."

"This is a foregone conclusion?"

"Undoubtedly."

"Sherlock, what did I tell you in the shower yesterday?"

"People lie."

"I don't lie about this."

Sherlock seems to want to contradict him, but due to some rare bout of awareness realises that might not be the best plan. "It…seems inevitable."

"Why is that, exactly?"

"Because." Finally Sherlock shifts so he can pin John with a scathing gaze. "I'm me and you're you."

"And?"

Sherlock's glare turns frosty. "Never mind."

John expects him to storm off, but instead he leans forward, back into his barnacle-like position. John sighs. "Sherlock, I knew what I was getting into."

"How could you?"

"Because I'm not an idiot, Sherlock." John's fingers tighten on Sherlock's hips. "Perhaps you should remember I have more experience in this area than you do." Sherlock doesn't respond, and John's heart starts racing in anticipation of what he seems about to say next. He can feel his pulse pounding down his arms and to his fingertips as he traces Sherlock's spine. He cradles Sherlock in his arms and presses his head to Sherlock's temple. "I’m not sure I could have kept myself from this if I tried. I…” John swallowed. “I love you."

Sherlock continues to be unresponsive, and John's heart sinks icily to his feet. What did he just do? But then Sherlock says, "Rubbish. I've felt that way for over a year and didn't do a thing."

"Then you must be a better person than I," John says, feeling a rush of happiness, and he buries his smile against Sherlock's shoulder.

"In some ways, yes."

John starts laughing, both in response to Sherlock and in a shattering relief. His joints feel like rubber; he hadn't realised how stressed he'd been about whether he was going to say it, and if so, how. And Sherlock nearly admitted the same, or as close to it as John ever expects him to come to saying it. And as a spectacular liar, the physical demonstrations of Sherlock's love are more trustworthy than words, anyway.

Sherlock rolls off him and curls up on the sofa to John's side, and John finds he's chuckling as well. Sherlock presses his face to John's hip. "Come on," John says, and he runs his fingers in Sherlock's hair some more. Sherlock, cat-like, presses his face in tighter. "Let's go shower and eat. I'm starved."

"Bath."

"Hmm?"

Sherlock's voice buzzes against John's thigh. "We're going to take a bath."

"Are we?" John says, amused.

"Yes." Sherlock rockets off the sofa to standing and holds out his hand. "Come on, John. Bath time." He looks so gleeful that John can't help but accede.

"Is this something else you've been fantasising about?" John asks.

"We're going to need a support rail. And a box of loofahs." Which is, John supposes, as much of a yes as he is going to get.


John is just setting the table in the lounge with their piping-hot breakfasts when Sherlock gets a text. His heart sinks; he'd hoped they could have just one more day alone with their new relationship so it could settle into their bones more firmly before they had to go out and involve death and other people. But this is real life, not a fantasy, so Sherlock bounds up from his seat, reading the text and talking to John while he types back, thumbs flying over the screen.

"Lestrade's got a double murder over in Lewisham," he says. "Proper locked door mystery."

"How do you get a locked door mystery and a double murder at the same time?" John looks at him, confused. "At that point, isn't it obvious that one of them killed the other?"

Sherlock's eyes sparkle with interest, though he waves away John's response as the ramblings of an idiot. "It's a Kinder Egg of killing. One corpse was found locked into the bath, and another was found in the kitchen. Within the locked house."

"A Kinder Egg of killing," John says, and the amusement on Sherlock's face shouldn't be entertaining, but John has long since resigned himself to the dark humour of their life. "Did you just make that up?"

Sherlock holds up his phone. "Lestrade did. But it's good though, isn't it? Even if technically untrue. Every once in a while Lestrade's pawky humour is actually humourous." He walks into the bedroom while John stares sadly, longingly, at the mounds of breakfast he'd just finished making. He sighs, but can't manage to make himself take it all back into the kitchen to put it away in the fridge or, worse, to bin it. So he just stares.

After an absurdly short period of time Sherlock comes back in fully dressed and finger-combing some sort of product into his hair. "John. Why haven't you dressed yet?" Then he takes in the picture and stops. "Oh." He peers at John. He blinks, seems to take a breath, and walks into the kitchen. There's the sound of the tap running and Sherlock comes back into the lounge bearing a dishrag, on which dries his hands before he settles into his chair. "Sit down, John," he says.

John looks at him, confused. "What?"

"Sit. The faster we eat, the faster we can get to the crime scene."

John isn't sure what's going on. "What?"

Sherlock rolls his eyes and heaves a sigh. "We're eating before we leave."

"But. Why?"

Sherlock furrows his brow at John as if to say, Why wouldn't we? although John can count on one hand the number of times Sherlock has made concessions to John when it comes to anything like this. John has pretty much become used to it by now. A complex look flashes across Sherlock's face before his expression turns strangely serene and he sits back in his chair. "I need you to keep up your strength," he says, and John realises this is something Sherlock is giving him, something Sherlock is trying to do for him because he can and he cares and he wants to do better, and because ten or fifteen minutes isn't going to make a hell of a lot of difference in the large scheme of things with the murder but it might make a palpable difference between them for the rest of the day.

Chest tight, John sits and gives Sherlock a soft, thankful look. "That's logical," he says, and picks up the serving spoon. "Good. Hand me your plate."

So Sherlock does. He manages to choke down a decent amount of food even while he's still texting up a storm, and John watches the man in between bites. At one point Sherlock catches him, and they share a small smile, and the flutter in John's stomach makes it difficult to finish the rest of his breakfast.

But he does, because Sherlock is giving him this of his own volition, and John is thankful for it beyond all measure.

It's as he's clearing the dishes away to the sink that he hears Sherlock's text chime and then a very distinctive, "Oh!" John starts washing up, wondering what is going on in there, and after a minute Sherlock sweeps into the room. "Don't bother getting dressed, John."

John spins. "You solved it already?"

Sherlock gives him his most 'I am an amazing human being' expression, and John can't help but smile at it. "It wasn't so much a whole Kinder Egg as it was the cheap toy surprise. She was already dying, but not dead, when she locked herself in! The blood on his shirt proves it!"

John has no idea what Sherlock is talking about, but what's actually worrisome is the fact that Sherlock doesn't seem to be experiencing the usual drop he feels when what looks like a delicious puzzle turns out to be a dud. "Are you okay?" John asks.

Sherlock stops. "Of course John. Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well," Abruptly John feels like kind of an idiot. "I mean, you had a case, but you solved it over breakfast."

"Yes, John. I solved it over breakfast. I am BRILLIANT." Sherlock's eyes flash with glee.

"I'd have thought you'd want it to…I don't know, occupy your mind for longer."

"John," Sherlock says, and stalks toward him across the kitchen. "John John John. I have much more interesting things I'd meant to be doing today."

"More interesting than a double locked-room Kinder-murder?"

Sherlock has taken him by the upper arms and now he yanks him in close to growl into his ear. "Much, much more interesting." Oh, John hates that voice. He hates that it does things to him that bypass his brain entirely and make him stupidly lust-struck. He ought to be able to control himself better, but he comes over all shivery as usual and Sherlock grins the shark-like grin of the man who knows he's going to get exactly what he wants.

But then Sherlock takes John's face in his hands and kisses him within an inch of his life, backing him against the worktop and grinding their bodies together suggestively, and John doesn't mind so much after all. "Don't you want to undress me, John?"

"No."

"No?!" Sherlock pulls back as if stung, and then smiles happily when he sees the smirk on John's face. He steps in close again. "Liar," he purrs, and licks into John's mouth. John is gratified, amazed, and flattered to feel Sherlock already becoming aroused against John's thigh.

"Aren't you glad you're such a genius you can solve murders without leaving the house?" John nuzzles against Sherlock's face and nips at his jaw.

Sherlock cradles John's head, holds it still, and gives him a curiously soft kiss. "I've never been so glad about it as I am right now." He scrapes his teeth on John's lower lip and disengages, disappearing around the corner toward his room in a flash of black and white and leaving John panting against the counter, trying to reintegrate all his molecules so he can walk.

After a moment, Sherlock pops back in to look pointedly at John. "John. Are you coming?"

John looks up and grins. "Not yet." Sherlock gives him a blindingly-happy smile and disappears again, leaving John with a thrill in his gut.

This is better than he could ever have imagined. And it’s barely even begun.

 

John tumbles into bed on top of Sherlock, who has already stripped down to his trousers.

“Welcome,” Sherlock says, grinning and sliding his hands up under the back of John’s shirt.

“Welcome to bed?” John snorts.

“Welcome to our bed,” Sherlock says.

Which strikes John in the solar plexus like a physical blow, and knocks the breath out of him as easily as that physical blow might have. “Our bed.” He huffs out, shocked and stunned and trying to find his handhold in reality. “This is our bed.”

In answer, Sherlock surrounds him with all his limbs and presses him into the mattress. John takes that as a yes as well. He’s going to be doing a lot of translation, it seems. Which is far from unusual.

John finds being surrounded by Sherlock to be so much more relaxing than he would have expected. “Our bed,” he says, then wraps his arms around Sherlock’s waist and pushes his face into his neck. He slides his hands down Sherlock’s lovely, smooth back and into the waistband of his trousers. John can feel Sherlock chuckling, pressed chest to chest, and he feels a wave of happiness. “Oi, thought you had plans,” he says, when it seems as if Sherlock has become content just to lay there on top of John.

“Who’s to say this wasn’t one of them,” Sherlock says, the snarky wanker.

“I suspected it was something that involved far fewer clothes,” John says. “That’s what I’d prefer.”

“Mmm.” Sherlock makes a considering sound, but he’s already starting to chivvy John out of his t-shirt and pants.

John can’t stop himself from grinning as Sherlock takes his job very seriously, kissing random parts of John as he peels him to the skin. It’s desperately endearing, so John allows him to finish before starting on Sherlock. Which means John is already naked when he strips off Sherlock’s pants and trousers and is summarily attacked again, slammed onto his back on the mattress and then smothered.

He giggles and bites Sherlock on the shoulder, and his grin broadens when Sherlock makes a small groaning noise deep in his throat. “I thought I was going to get to undress you.”

“You tarried.”

“I tarried?” John grins.

"I lost patience."

"That's a shock—OW." John pulls back to peer at Sherlock's cheeky grin. "I didn't bite you that hard."

"I'm just learning." Sherlock smacks his lips as if savouring the taste of John's skin.

"You're going to use that excuse for everything aren't you?"

"Of course."

John tackles him with a kiss and Sherlock hums happily into it. He wraps his arms around John's waist and kisses him with all his heart, and it's a gorgeous, everlasting thing until they roll over and John feels a falling sensation and a sudden, painful stop. He blinks his eyes open and sees the side of Sherlock's bed, and follows the trailing duvet up to find Sherlock peering over the side with a ridiculously-twisting expression. He's appalled but trying not to laugh, and the combination cracks John up. It breaks Sherlock's restraint, and he lets free with a belly laugh, his cheeks pink.

That full-bodied laughter triggers an unbearable burst of emotion in John's chest, a mix of joy and humour and painfully-strong love that balloons larger and larger the longer he stares up at Sherlock's grinning face. He can scarcely breathe. It's nearly the same expression that began all this, with those deeply-carved lines reaching down into Sherlock's cheeks and the rare quirking curl of his mouth, but this time those gleaming eyes are wet with laughter and this time Sherlock actually reaches for him.

Heart thudding in his chest, John allows himself to be pulled up, brushed off, and tugged down onto Sherlock's body, where he's wrapped in a pair of long arms and cuddled fiercely. "Perhaps there are things I really am still learning," Sherlock says, and John is caught by another spasm of laughter.

"Such as where the edge of your bed is?"

"I'm not usually so side-tracked."

"I'll consider that a compliment."

"You should." They grin at each other from a few inches away before Sherlock chortles. "You made a very strange sound when you fell."

"We're not repeating the experiment."

"Not when you're expecting it, no."

"Don't you dare." John's giggles are interrupted by another kiss, but he still files the suspicion away. Sherlock hasn't changed—isn't going to change—despite the new relationship they're caught up in, and that's good. That's perfect. Sherlock is still going to be a prat, and John is still going to have to declare boundaries, but if today has taught John anything it's that Sherlock is willing to make some concessions to keep this relationship happy and that even when Sherlock is being an arse John still loves him desperately.

Sherlock flips the duvet over their heads and snuggles John into the bed, chuckling. "Just you wait." John can't wait; this is their life now, and from now on when they celebrate remaining unscathed after a case it may well be conducted in bed, laughing and drinking whiskey and kissing each other's skin. John is a bit warm under the covers, but nonetheless he feels happy cocooned with Sherlock, fighting for control of the duvet, giggling and settling down for Sherlock's plans which are, presumably, a late-morning shag and a sneaky attempt to dump John onto the floor again so he can categorise the sound. What an arse.

His thoughts must have transferred to his expression, because Sherlock starts laughing again. The sound is richer here under the duvet, pressed chest to chest, and it overwhelms John. He kisses him, and Sherlock laughs into John's mouth. It turns heated a bit slower than John would have wished, but that just proves it: if this had been a fantasy, Sherlock would already be sinking down onto John or taking him into his mouth, but instead John must content himself with a snuggly, lazy Sherlock who will get to the sex when he damn well feels like it. John grins into the kiss, furiously happy at the thought. Sherlock is here, and in the flesh, and he loves John to distraction. John isn't making things up in his head again.

This is reality.