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Guess Who

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"Christ, Sherlock. Just put some clothes on. We were supposed to be there 5 minutes ago."

"Ughhhhh. Fine. But I'm not going to have fun," Sherlock moans while peeling himself off of the sofa.

"Duly noted, but we do have to pretend to like our friends on occasion. It seems only fair for all the shit they put up with from you."

"Didn't we just socialize with them last week or something?" Sherlock responds while walking toward his bedroom.

"That was ten months ago, Sherlock. Christmas, remember?"

Sherlock waves his hand in the air to suggest that there couldn't be anything less consequential in all of existence.
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It's a nice October evening in London - 13 degrees and slightly overcast - so John and Sherlock decide to walk the seven blocks to the Queen & Bishop. They walk comfortably side by side and even though Sherlock isn't excited about spending time with the imbeciles from New Scotland Yard, he has to admit that he is looking forward to seeing John relax and smile. It's been awhile since John seemed really relaxed, Sherlock thinks. Probably because they haven't had a case on in awhile and Sherlock has been extra mopey as of late. Justifiably mopey, Sherlock counters to himself.

The Queen & Bishop is a dingy pub near Regent’s Park that’s popular with Lestrade’s colleagues from NSY. It’s dark and stale-smelling inside, but is thankfully void of tellys plastered on every wall. The only thing worse than a night out with idiots is a night out with idiots and football matches blaring, Sherlock thinks.

As Sherlock and John step inside, Lestrade waves them over to a booth towards the back. John heads over to join Lestrade and the others while Sherlock makes his way to the bar to get drinks - a pint of beer for John and a glass of pinot noir for himself. Sherlock is certain that the wine selection will be terrible in a place like this, but he is pleasantly surprised by the bottles they have available. He gives the bartender John’s card (it was John’s idea to come out tonight, so surely he should be responsible for paying) and walks to the table. He slides into the booth next to John and spends the next twenty minutes trying to ignore the impossibly boring conversation taking place around him. Surely twenty minutes, plus the time spent walking here and the time in queue at the bar should be enough to make John happy. Maybe they can go back to Baker Street and order in. Sherlock leans towards John to tell him that it’s time to leave, but he looks engrossed in the conversation and Sherlock worries that John might get angry if he interrupts. He decides to text him instead.              

Bored. -SH

John reaches for his phone as soon as it buzzes in his pocket.

Sherlock, you’re sitting right next to me. You can just talk, you know.

Bored! -SH

Christ, Sherlock. Just join the conversation, yeah? Have a beer?

“Sorry, are we not exciting enough for you?” Lestrade asks John with a hint of a smirk.

“No, no. Sorry.” John says distractedly. John slips his phone into pocket without looking at Sherlock and rejoins the conversation.

“...That’s just it, though. If you’re interested in someone, if you think you might love someone even, you have to tell them. Otherwise you’ll never know for sure how they feel about you,” Molly explains.

“I don’t know,” Donovan argues. “Rejection is a powerful thing. Yeah, they might like you back, but what if they don’t?”

“Yeah, I have to agree with Sally - rejection is scary. Sometimes it’s best just to keep your feelings to yourself,” Lestrade interjects.

Sherlock has no idea why he starts paying attention to the conversation just because John told him to, but maybe they’ll start talking about murder or something more interesting soon. Probably not, though.

John takes a sip of his pint and leans over to Lestrade. “Why are we talking about crushes? Does Sally like someone? Isn’t she involved with Anderson?”

“Ugh, yeah, she used to be. Word on the street is that she’s in love. Probably with Anderson. She said something about being afraid of making a mess of a professional relationship. Sex is sex I guess, but love is something else.”

“And why do we care? Is this a counseling session?”

“Ha. Might as well be,” Lestrade retorts.

Sherlock thinks maybe John forgot about him, so he decides to send him another text.

Boooooored. So bored. -SH

Deal with it, you git. We’re staying for a least another round.

John hits send, glares at Sherlock, and puts his phone away.

“...But what if you miss your chance at true love!” Molly practically shouts, causing John and Sherlock to turn their attention back to the rest of the table. “I mean it, Sally. There isn’t anything more important than love. It’s worth the risk.”

Sally shrugs and takes a sip of her beer, effectively ending the conversation.

“I’m going to get another beer,” John announces after a moment of silence. “Anyone need anything?”

More beer seems to be the only request, so John makes his way to the bar.

“So, Sherlock…” Sally starts. “What about you? Ever been in love?”

Sherlock could not be more in love with John Watson. He loves every single thing about him. He loves the way he wiggles his toes when sitting in front of the fire, he loves that he takes bubble baths after stressful days at the surgery, and he loves that of all the people he could spend time with in this world, John chooses Sherlock. But if Sherlock was ever going to admit his love for John, it would not be in front of NSY nor at the bloody Queen & Bishop.

“Sorry we can’t all have a love life as thoroughly exciting as yours, Sally. I can only imagine how considerate a lover Anderson is,” Sherlock replies.

Donovan scoffs but says nothing in response. Thankfully John returns at this point with a pitcher of beer and a glass of wine for Sherlock. Another minute of socializing between Sally and Sherlock would have undoubtedly resulted in Lestrade having to handcuff someone and that would have been a bit not good.

“I’ve had an idea,” John says as Sherlock stands to let him in the booth.

“We get to go home and never enter this pub ever again?” Sherlock responds hopefully.

“No. As I am apparently buying all the drinks tonight and I have every intention of drinking loads more beer, I’ve created a game for you to play.”

“What kind of game?” Sherlock doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s genuinely intrigued.

“Your inbox is bursting with cases. Solve enough of them to cover my tab by the end of the night and you win.”

Sherlock can tell that John fully expects him to stand up, roll his eyes, and walk out of the pub after the explanation of the game. But John seems to really want Sherlock here with him.

“Alright.”

“Alright?” John asks.

“Yes. Alright. I’ll do it. I’ll play your stupid little game.”

John seems thoroughly taken aback by Sherlock’s willingness to do anything but tries to hide his surprise. He instead nods to Sherlock and turns his attention back to the rest of the table as Sherlock’s fingers start flying over his mobile.

The conversation slowly shifts back to Molly’s love life. Or maybe Anderson’s. Sherlock has stopped listening completely. After a couple of minutes of looking through his inbox, Sherlock is interrupted by Molly shouting.

“Let’s play a game!”

“What kind of game, Molly?” Lestrade asks.

“Hmmm. How about this game that I used to play at uni. We called it Guess Who. It’s like the children’s game, but instead of guessing which character you are, we try to guess who everyone likes. It’s kind of silly, but simple. We take turns and say things like, ‘The person I like has brown hair.’ Then everyone who likes someone with brown hair takes a sip of their drink. The statement doesn’t have to be true for the person asking, but they have to drink if it’s true for them. Like if Greg said, ‘The person I like has blonde hair’ but the person he likes has red hair, then he doesn’t drink. If the person he likes has blonde hair, though, he has to drink.”

“That makes sense,” Lestrade says. “But Sherlock can’t play or the game will be over before it starts.”

“Fair point,” Molly agrees. “Also, the game ends when everyone except one person is out. If someone correctly guesses who you like, you are out. If they guess incorrectly, they are out. It’s probably easier at uni where everyone knows everyone else, but it still might be fun.”

“Yeah...fun…” Sherlock snorts.

“Ignore him,” John says. “It sounds like fun, Molly. Let’s play.”

“I’ll start,” Anderson says. “The person I like has curly hair.”

It’s obviously Sally, Sherlock thinks. Ugh, if they would just let him guess then the game could be over already and he and John could go home. Sally likes Anderson, Anderson likes Sally, Lestrade probably likes someone from work, and everyone knows Molly likes Sherlock for some reason. Boring. Predictable. The only thing not boring is John. But John probably likes some perfectly normal woman with slightly larger-than-normal breasts, and a boring job. Sherlock doesn’t want to spend the entire night hearing about who John fancies. Maybe another text will encourage him to leave.

We can order in. I’ll even pay. -SH

John doesn’t look at his phone. He seems to be processing Anderson’s statement. Interesting, Sherlock thinks. Maybe he’s deciding between two different women. Looking around the table, Sherlock sees Molly take a small sip of her beer and then he realizes that John is lifting his pint off the table. He’s certain that it’s just his mind playing tricks on him, but Sherlock thinks John slides a little closer as he raises his glass.

Chapter Text

“Get up. I’ve got to use the loo,” John says to Sherlock after a few moments of idle chatter. “And we need more beer. Lots probably. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Sherlock stands to let John out. As he slides back into the booth, Molly says, “You’ve already figured it all out, haven’t you Sherlock?”

“I’ve been told by more than one person at this very table that I’m not allowed to guess. But yes. Obviously.”

Sherlock had figured it out. It really couldn’t be more obvious. Lestrade is probably in love with his ex-wife. Or the secretary at the office. Someone who thinks being handcuffed to the bed is kinky. Since the answer is so boring, Sherlock decides that his guess about Lestrade is close enough. Molly fancies Sherlock (annoying, Sherlock thinks) as everyone already knows. Anderson and Donovan like each other. Or love each other. Or whatever. It doesn’t matter. That only leaves John, but Sherlock chooses not to dwell on that.

“Well don’t ruin the surprise,” Molly replies.

“It’ll hardly be a surprise, but I’ll do my best to contain myself.”

Sherlock wonders if this is Molly’s way of flirting with him. Surely she doesn’t think that anything is going to happen between them? Ugh, why must socializing be so taxing? All Sherlock wanted was a nice night in with John and some curry. But John would probably rather spend nights in with whatever her name is.

“Budge over or get up,” John says while setting a pitcher of beer on the table.

Sherlock doesn’t move. He’s too busy focusing on not thinking about John’s feelings for some boring woman.

“Sherlock. Move.”

“Wha-? Oh. Right.”

Sherlock stands to let John in and John slides his hand across the small of Sherlock’s back as he sits down. Just a reflex, Sherlock thinks. John’s had a few beers and friends often touch each other at pubs. It doesn’t mean anything.

"My turn," Donovan says. "The person I like has brown hair with a hint of red."

Sherlock is trying not to pay attention, but he can't seem to stop himself. Sally drinks (Anderson, obvious), as does Lestrade. Interesting, Lestrade's ex-wife is a blonde. Sherlock can't think of anyone at NSY with both reddish brown hair and a conventionally nice-looking arse (Gavin seems keen on arses). Oooh! Maybe he likes Molly. Interesting. No. Not interesting, Sherlock corrects himself. Boring. Ugh. Must be the wine.

"Okay, the person I like is really tall," Molly offers.

John's eyes dart to Sherlock and then he takes a small sip of his beer.

So she's tall and has curly hair. Who is this boring, stupid, pointless woman, Sherlock wonders.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sherlock sees Lestrade take a sip of beer too.

Could any secretary at NSY be described as really tall? None that immediately come to mind.

"Greg, it's your turn," Anderson says.

"Oh right." Lestrade thinks for a moment and then says, "The person I like has a high powered job."

Before anyone has time to respond to the statement, Sherlock points a finger at Lestrade and screams. “Ahhhh! You like Mycroft! Disgusting!”

“Oi, Sherlock. You’re not allowed to play!” Molly yells.

Despite the rule violation, everyone at the table turns to stare at Lestrade. Their expressions range from shock to abject horror (the horror is mostly reserved for John and Sherlock’s faces).

Anderson starts to giggle. “You’re gay, Greg? I had no idea. I always thought you were a boob man like me.”

“Shut up, Anderson. Greg’s sexuality is none of your bloody business,” Sally says angrily.

Lestrade, who has turned the most alarming shade of crimson, seems incapable of replying to the accusation one way or another.

“Greg,” Molly starts. “I think it’s wonderful if you like Mycroft. I’ll bet he fancies you too.”

After a minute of silence, Greg summons the courage to respond. “Sod it. I’m at least three pints in so I might as well just come out with it. Yes, I like Myc. We’ve only ever texted each other - we’ve never been on a proper date or anything - but I would like to see more of him,” Greg admits, mostly to his beer.

Myc ,” Sherlock scoffs. “Ugh.”

“Ignore him. You should text Mycroft now. Let him know how you feel,” Molly offers.

“No I can’t do that. I don’t know what I would say to him and he’s probably too busy and important anyway.”

“Nonsense,” counters Molly. “Just ask him out for dinner. Simple as that.”

“Fuck it. Alright. I might regret it when I’m sober, but fuck it.”

Sherlock watches John top off Lestrade’s glass before settling back into his seat at the booth.

“Liquid courage,” John whispers to Sherlock, who is currently oscillating between disgust and calculated indifference.

Everyone offers their advice about what Lestrade should say in his text, but Sherlock cannot stand to listen. He’d always assumed Mycroft was the most sexually-repellent human in all of existence. And he wasn’t about to have that idea challenged. Not if he could help it.

The silence that descends over the table must mean that Lestrade is waiting to hear back from Mycroft, Sherlock thinks. Dear god let this night be over. This is the last time that John gets his way. Okay, this is a lie, but ugh. Could this night be any worse?

Sherlock’s internal monologue is interrupted by the sound of Lestrade’s phone ringing.

“It’s him,” Greg says, sounding somewhat startled. “What do I say?”

“Just answer it,” Sally responds.

“Okay, I’m going to take it outside.”

------------------

Five minutes later, Lestrade returns to the table, smiling from ear to ear.

“So it went well then,” John asks.

“Yeah..er...yeah. I’m going to have to head out. I, er, have somewhere to be. Thanks for this” he says while gesturing in the general direction of the table.

“Good luck, Greg!” Molly shouts as Lestrade awkwardly leaves the bar.

“Well, shall we get back to the game?” Anderson asks.

“What? Oh. Yeah,” Molly responds.

“Ughhhhhhh,” Sherlock moans. “I want to go home, John.”

John moves his left hand to Sherlock’s knee in response. Sherlock’s brain shudders to a halt as John gently rubs his palm back and forth over his knee and lower thigh. This doesn’t mean anything Sherlock tells himself. Granted, John could scoot over and put more room between them on the bench now that Lestrade is gone, but John is probably too tipsy to think about personal space. Yes, that must be it. It’s just the beer. It doesn’t mean anything. After what feels like five minutes but is probably just five seconds, John removes his hand and leans over to whisper in Sherlock’s ear.

“You’ve got your own game to play, Sherlock. How’s it going?”

Sherlock had completely forgotten about solving cases.

“It’s going fine,” he lies.

“Good, I wouldn’t want you to lose the game.”

“My winning is in your, and your wallet’s, interest John. I get no satisfaction out of winning. Theses cases are a two at best. Husbands steal from wives, girlfriends cheat on boyfriends. It’s not interesting. Why should I care?”

John thinks for a moment and then answers, “If you win, I have to do one thing you ask, without complaint.”

Without hesitation, Sherlock says, “Deal.”

John smiles and turns back to the table. His hand finds Sherlock’s knee again and gives it one squeeze before reaching for his beer. Sherlock stares at his knee for a moment, trying to catalog John’s warmth and then turns his focus to solving inane cases.

Chapter Text

“Well,” John says. “It looks like Greg’s out.”

“Indeed,” Sally responds, laughing. “And it looks like we need more beer. I’ll go. Be back in a moment and then we can continue playing.”

“I’ll come with you,” Anderson says while practically jumping out of his seat.

“Since everyone is getting up, I might as well use the loo,” Molly remarks. “Be right back,” she says while smiling at John and Sherlock.

Sherlock stares at her and then returns his focus to Mrs. Busby’s missing turtle. This case is barely a one and yet somehow still more interesting than the love lives of those around him.

Before he can solve the case and make twenty pounds, however, John turns to Sherlock and starts giggling. “Greg and Mycroft! Mycroft! Can you believe it? Isn’t he like a Ken doll down there?”

Sherlock looks at John and grins. Then they both start giggling uncontrollably.

“Oi! What’s so funny, you two?” Sally barks upon returning to the table.

“Mycroft-” is all John manages to get out before starting to giggle again.

Sally just rolls her eyes in response but Sherlock catches a small grin on her face.

Molly, returned from the bathroom, says, “My turn! Are we ready to play?”

Everyone nods in agreement except Sherlock, who has returned to his own stupid game. On the plus side, though, he’s already made 150 pounds - two cheating husbands and one rigged little league game. Even though it’s way more than enough to cover the bar tab, Sherlock keeps playing so as to avoid paying attention to Molly’s even stupider game.

“Okay, the person I like is really smart,” Molly states, followed by her taking a sip of her recently-refilled pint.

Sherlock can’t help but look around the table. Every single person takes a drink. He can see why Anderson drank. Despite being a horrible person, Sally is sometimes intelligent. And Molly obviously thinks Sherlock is smart. But why did Sally drink? Surely she doesn’t see something in Anderson that’s not there. Anderson must be the most imbecilic person to ever step foot in this bar, let alone New Scotland Yard. And then there’s John. Some of the women that John has shown interest in in the past have been smart, but “really smart”? Things aren’t adding up and Sherlock is only on his second glass of wine, so it can’t be because of the alcohol.

“John, you’re next,” Anderson pipes up.

“Right. Er- the person I like has a kind soul.”

“That’s so vague,” Anderson shouts. He’s obviously had a bit more to drink than everyone else.

“Maybe,” John retorts. “But it’s my favorite thing about this person.” John takes a large sip of his second beer. Third? Sherlock has lost count.

“Whatever,” Anderson mumbles. He pauses and then decides to drink. Sally and Molly drink too.

Well, Sherlock thinks. Sally definitely doesn’t have a kind soul, but he supposes that Anderson has to drink or he will be in trouble with her. And the same is true in reverse. Does Molly think that Sherlock has a kind soul, though? He’s certainly never been described that way before. And, as always, there’s John. Sherlock tries to ignore the nauseous feeling rising in his gut, but he can’t help it. John sounds like he’s in love with this awful, no good, boring, stupid, vile woman. Ugh, emotions. Feelings! Why must they always catch up with him?

Just as Sherlock is about to get up and go outside for some fresh air (okay, okay, for a cigarette), he feels John’s hand on his thigh. Much higher than before, but still low enough to be considered friendly rather than explicitly sexual. He can feel John’s heartbeat through his fingers- it’s much steadier than his own. That must mean that this is just a friendly gesture. But then John’s hand starts rubbing slow circles up and down his thigh.

Sherlock stops breathing and is incapable of focusing on anything but John’s hand. John’s beautiful hand. Just as Sherlock worries that he might pass out from oxygen deprivation, John removes his hand and smiles at Sherlock. He then turns back to the table and joins in the conversation as if the universe hadn’t just turned upside down.

Focus, Sherlock thinks. Focus! Something about a turtle? Sherlock forces his gaze back to his phone and tries to look normal (well, normal for Sherlock).

“Anderson, it’s back to you,” Molly says while finishing another beer.

“Hmm...I’m not sure what statement to make. Er, I guess, yeah, okay. The person I like has light coloured eyes.” Anderson does not raise his own glass. Neither does Sally, nor Molly. In fact, the only person that takes a drink of beer is John.

Things aren’t adding up! Sherlock thinks. Sally’s eyes are fairly dark, so of course Anderson wouldn’t drink. But aren’t Anderson’s eyes a light bluish greenish colour? Maybe they’re darker than he remembers and it’s too dark in the pub to see properly. But surely Molly would know that Sherlock’s eyes are light in colour. Molly must like someone other than Sherlock. Thank god, he thinks. Unfortunately, however, this statement just adds more to the list about John’s mystery woman. She’s got curly hair, light coloured eyes, and a kind soul. She’s also tall and intelligent. Who is she? She sounds ugly and awful, Sherlock muses to himself. Ugh, this game can’t go on any longer!

“I know you said I’m not allowed to guess, but it’s been obvious from the beginning and I can’t stand it anymore!” Sherlock yells at the table. “Maybe I chose to ignore certain facts about Lestrade’s love life but I am most certainly correct about the fact that Anderson and Sally fancy each other. It was obvious years ago, why are we all pretending that we don’t know what’s going on?”

John gives Sherlock an exasperated look, but says nothing. Sally is staring resolutely into her beer and Anderson looks half-annoyed, half-triumphant.

“As much as I hate to admit it, you’re right, Sherlock,” Anderson says before turning to smile at Donovan.

Just as he starts to reach for her hand, however, she speaks up: “Actually he’s wrong. Sherlock is wrong, at least about me.” Sally can’t bring herself to make eye contact with anyone, but she doesn’t seem to want to miss the chance to correct Sherlock.

“Wrong? What did I get wrong? Aside from the fact that you said he was intelligent, which we all know he isn’t, you took a sip everytime someone described him. Reddish brown hair, kind soul" -Sherlock pauses- “Wait. You didn’t describe Anderson, Sally. You’ve been thinking about Molly Hooper this whole time.”

After a moment’s pause, Anderson starts laughing. “Sally’s not into Molly. She's straight! You’re all just messing with me. You like me, right Sally?”

Still staring into her beer, Donovan says, “He’s right.”

“See, I told you!” Anderson beams.

“No, not you Anderson. Sherlock. Sherlock’s right.” She turns to face Molly, who by this point looks positively giddy, and says, “I was thinking about you the whole time. I’m sorry if that ruins our professional relationship and I understand that you don’t-” Sally’s confession is abruptly ended when Molly leans over and kisses her hard on the lips. When they pull apart, still giggly and a bit embarrassed, John silently raises his pint in the air in congratulations.

Sherlock can’t help but smile. He’s partly relieved that he won’t have to deal with Molly’s advances tonight, but mostly he’s happy for them. He’s not sure when he started caring about other people’s emotions (John should probably be blamed), but he can’t seem to stop himself.

Sally and Molly are staring at each other like idiots.

“I’ve, er, got to go to the loo again,” Molly says awkwardly. “Sally, do you need to go too?”

“Yes! I mean, yeah, it couldn’t hurt.”

They both slide out of the booth and run toward the bathroom, laughing nervously.

“What the fuck? What the bloody fuck?” Anderson shouts once his brain seems to have finished processing the scene in front of him.

“I don’t know, mate. They seem really into each other. It’s probably best to focus on someone else,” John offers.

At a loss for what to say in response, Anderson grabs his coat and storms out of the Queen & Bishop.

“Well,” starts John. “This night turned out gayer than I was expecting.”

Sherlock looks at him and smirks.

Chapter Text

“I guess I’m going to go close my tab then. No point in waiting for Molly and Sally to reappear. In fact, I’d rather not see that.”

“Agreed. I’ll just finish my wine,” Sherlock responds.

---------------------

“Let’s walk home through the park,” Sherlock says as he and John step out of the Queen & Bishop.

“Sounds good. Oh, and how did your little game go? Are you going to pay me back for all the beer and wine?”

Sherlock looks at John and offers a half-smile. “It went well. I’d say we can get at least a week’s worth of takeout with what’s left over.”

“Good work, Sherlock! See, tonight wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“It definitely unfolded differently than I was expecting. Seeing Anderson angry improved the evening significantly.”

John laughs. “Did you see his face when Molly kissed Sally? Priceless!”

John and Sherlock spend the next ten minutes walking through the park, giggling about Anderson and Mycroft. "I mean, can you imagine how pretentious Mycroft is in bed? Greg has no hope of satisfying him!" John says between giggles.

"Ugh, gross! But you're completely correct. It's going to be a disaster," Sherlock stammers out while trying to catch his breath from laughing so hard.

“Whew-what a night...So, your game went well, but you lost Molly’s game pretty badly.”

“I did no such thing. Anderson does like Sally,” Sherlock counters. “Okay, maybe I lost pretty badly.”

John and Sherlock, still a bit tipsy from their earlier drinks, start laughing again. After they both calm down a bit, John asks, “What about me, then? Do you know who I’m in love with?”

“In love ? I didn’t know you were in love with one of those boring women you’ve been seeing.” Sherlock is genuinely heartbroken but tries his best to hide it. The mood between them shifts perceptibly.

“One of the women I’ve been seeing? Sherlock, I haven’t been on a date in nearly eight months.”

“Oh” is all Sherlock can manage to say in response. His brain is working way too fast and yet somehow way too slow because he doesn’t understand what John is trying to say.

“Come here.” John takes him by the hand and leads him over to a grassy area off the path. “Sit.”

Sherlock sits and John sits down next to him without letting go of his hand. Uncertain of what is going to happen, Sherlock just stares at his hand in John’s.

“Sherlock. I am in love. I have been for years.”

Sherlock says nothing. He can’t even make himself look John in the eye. Truth be told, he knows this has been coming for awhile. Of course John will leave. He’ll meet some nice boring woman and leave Baker Street forever. This is how it was always going to go.

“Sherlock. Look at me.” John gently tugs on Sherlock’s hand to get his attention.

Sherlock looks up, trying to hide the tears stinging the corner of his eyes.

John’s face is illuminated by the full moon overhead and he looks breathtakingly beautiful. His hair blows gently in the wind and his face is slightly flushed from the cold. His eyes radiate kindness, even as he is about to shatter Sherlock’s heart.

“I need to tell you something,” John begins. “Something that I’ve been wanting to say for a long time. And watching everyone else find love tonight made me realize that life is too short to worry about rejection.”

Before Sherlock can think of anything to say in response, he feels John let go of his hand. And it begins, Sherlock thinks. He’s pulling away and will never come back.

But instead of confessing his love for some woman and leaving, John lies down in the grass.

“Come here. Lie beside me.”

The ground is cold and slightly damp, but Sherlock obeys. As he lays his head down in the grass, he notices the stars overhead.

John, studying Sherlock, says, “They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”

Sherlock nods in agreement.

To his surprise, Sherlock feels John thread their fingers together between them. His breath catches, but he says nothing.

“We both know I’m really bad at this feelings stuff. I hate talking about emotions,” John continues. “But this- this is too important not to try.”

Sherlock’s brain grounds to a halt. Nothing is making sense. Why would it be so hard to tell Sherlock that he’s in love with someone? Ah- he feels guilty for having to leave Baker Street. That must be it. He cannot bring himself to look at John. Instead, he just stares at the stars overhead.

“I am in love, Sherlock.”

“You’ve said that already.”

“Yes... well, yes, but I didn’t say who I was in love with.”

“She’s smart, tall, has curly hair and a kind soul.” Why is he holding my hand while he confesses his love for someone else?

“The person I love is impossibly smart, fairly tall, has the most beautiful curly hair, and possesses the kindest soul I have ever encountered. That’s true. But it’s not just some woman.” John pauses for a moment before continuing. “The person I love is, well, it’s you Sherlock. I’m in love with you.”

Sherlock stops breathing, stops thinking, stops everything. His eyes are wide and he can feel his heart beating rapidly in his chest.

John must sense Sherlock’s panic because he lets go of his hand and turns on his side to face him as he says, “Sherlock. Breathe. Just breathe. There you go. It’s okay if you don’t feel the same way about me. I don’t expect you to. I just wanted to tell you because it’s important to be honest. You don’t have to say anything, just breathe.”

“John, I-”

“Shhhh. Don’t worry. You don’t have to say anything. It’s all okay.”

“No. I need to-”

John wraps his arms around Sherlock to calm him. Sherlock nuzzles his head down against John’s chest until he can hear his heartbeat. Breathing in time with John, Sherlock eventually relaxes enough to process what’s happening.

“You- You love me? Me?

“Yes, Sherlock. Always have, always will. But you don’t-” Before John can finish his thought, Sherlock slides up until his lips are in line with John’s, and kisses him. It’s tentative, cautious. When he pulls back, Sherlock’s eyes find John’s and he thinks, in this moment, that maybe life really is worth living. John smiles back at him and slowly leans in for another kiss. Sherlock feels John’s lips on his and he can’t help but smile a little. This kiss isn’t tentative, it isn’t cautious. It’s a tacit confession of everything that they are to each other. It’s apologies, declarations, and promises all wrapped up in one beautiful gesture. It’s perfect.

-----------------

Three minutes later, the mood has shifted from (almost nauseatingly) romantic to intensely heated. Limbs are flying everywhere, jackets are being unbuttoned with incredible speed.

“Sherlock, sher-” John says while panting. “We’ve got to go home. I don’t want to get arrested in Regent’s Park. Lestrade will have to come bail us out and can you imagine how angry he’ll will be if we interrupt his evening with Mycroft?”

“JOHN! Don’t talk about Mycroft while your hand is on my arse.”

This results in more giggling from both John and Sherlock.

“Come on. Up we go,” John says while standing and offering a hand to Sherlock.

The walk home would normally take no more than 10 minutes from their current location. Tonight, however, it takes at least 20 as John keeps stopping to kiss Sherlock and Sherlock keeps shoving his hands into John’s pants. By the time they step off the street into 221, their lips are swollen and their cocks are impossibly hard.

“Fuck, Sherlock. Upstairs. Now.”

“No time,” Sherlock replies while fumbling with the buttons on John’s shirt.

“I am not going to shag you in front of Mrs. Hudson. She might have seen more in her lifetime than the average landlady, but I think this would be a step too far. As it is, she’s going to have to turn up the telly quite loud.”

Smirking, Sherlock concedes. They make it up approximately two steps before having to stop and kiss again, but they do eventually get up all seventeen of the steps.

“Your room,” John states. “Your bed is bigger and god only knows how long it will take us to get up another staircase.”

Before Sherlock can process what John is saying, let alone respond, he’s being dragged into his bedroom.

John practically throws him on the bed, causing Sherlock to whimper. John tries to unbutton the rest of his shirt quickly, but can’t undo the last couple of buttons.

“God, John. Hurry up!”

“I’m trying, you git. You still look fully clothed to me. You might want to work on that.”

After a minute of clothes flying wildly around the room, John and Sherlock are both naked except for their pants.

“Fuck,” John chokes out before kneeling on the bed and straddling Sherlock. “You’re fucking gorgeous.”

Sherlock feels himself blush, which is a bit ridiculous in this situation, but he’s never been told he was beautiful before. He’s never felt that he’s worth anything before. Before John.

“Hey. You still with me?”

Sherlock focuses his eyes back on John’s and nods as he wraps his arms around him. Keeping their eyes locked, John lowers himself fully onto Sherlock. When their cocks press together, they both exhale loudly. John is hard as a rock and a little shaky, but he manages to smile at Sherlock before gently bending down to kiss him. It’s gentle for a second before Sherlock teases John with his tongue. John moans in response and pushes his tongue into Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock is too turned on to focus on cataloging all the sensations and even though he doesn’t want to forget any part of tonight, he’s enjoying the fact that his mind is stiller than it’s been in years.

After a few moments, John grinds his cock against Sherlock’s and suddenly the clothing barrier between them is too much to stand. They both wriggle out of their pants and this time when John lines up their cocks, it’s heaven. They grind into each other until they’re panting and moaning. John was right about Mrs. Hudson needing to turn up the telly, Sherlock muses. When this is no longer enough, Sherlock takes John’s cock in his hand. He marvels at it - it’s bigger than he imagined (and yes, he’s spent some time imagining it) and so very hard. John seems to sense that Sherlock needs a moment to take it all in, so he waits before pumping into Sherlock’s fist.

“Fuck!”

“John, I need you inside me.”

“Sh-” John pants. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve been sure for years, John. Years. There’s lube in the drawer.”

“Okay, okay. Impatient, are we?”

John reaches into the nightstand drawer and pulls out the tube of lubricant. While fumbling with the cap, he pauses. “Don’t we need a condom?”

“No. I want to feel you come inside me. I’m clean. Mycroft makes me get tested because of the, you know…” Sherlock can’t bring himself to talk about his drug habit in this moment.

“Right. Fuck.” John squeezes lube onto his fingers and then sits back on his knees between Sherlock’s legs. Just as he is about to place a finger against Sherlock, however, he seems to think of a better idea. He slides down until his face is against Sherlock’s groin and starts slowly kissing his thighs. Sherlock cries out in pleasure and surprise. His mouth makes its way to Sherlock’s leaking cock and he takes it down in one long swallow.

“John!”

John looks up at Sherlock’s eyes - pupils blown wide - and offers what appears to be a smile. Sherlock isn’t sure and doesn’t really care since the head of his cock is currently brushing against John’s throat. After what can only be described as far too soon, John releases him. Sherlock, never one to miss out on a sarcastic comment, says, “Learn that in the army, did you?”

Grinning, John replies, “I can’t reveal my sources. State secrets, and all.”

At that, John ducks his head back down, but instead of swallowing Sherlock’s cock again, he dips lower and runs his tongue flat against Sherlock’s opening.

“Gah!” Sherlock screams.

John keeps pushing his tongue this way and that, offering hums of pleasure that go straight to Sherlock’s cock. After a few moments, John reaches for the lube, applies some to his fingers, and pushes one finger in. Sherlock is so blissed out that he can no longer form words. His moans are becoming heavier and heavier. John wiggles his finger until Sherlock is loose enough for a second finger. After John has worked three fingers into him, he pulls out and reaches for the lube again. He sits back up on his knees and rubs lube onto his own leaking cock. “Ahh,” John cries out. Sherlock feels like he’s about to come just from hearing John moan. He wiggles his butt in the air to communicate his urgency to John.

John lightly slaps his butt in response and then lines himself up. As he pushes in, Sherlock can feel himself stretching more than he ever has before. It’s uncomfortable, a little painful, and completely perfect.

John can’t help but moan loudly once the tip of his cock feels Sherlock’s warmth. Poor Mrs. Hudson, indeed.

After a few gentle pushes, John is fully seated. “Fuck, Sherlock. You feel amazing. So amazing.”

“John,” is all Sherlock is capable of saying.

John waits while Sherlock catches his breath and gets adjusted before beginning to really push. On the third push and with a little adjustment, John hits Sherlock’s prostate. This elicits the most obscene sound that Sherlock has ever made. He reaches down between their bodies and finds his cock. He pulls three, four, five times as John hammers into him before he’s coming all over both of their stomachs.

Locking eyes, John fucks Sherlock harder, harder until he’s coming. Sherlock can feel John come inside him and he’s decided that he’s never been happier in his entire life.

John slowly lowers himself down and slides out of Sherlock. He rolls onto his back and takes deep gulps of air. They lie there, side by side, just breathing for awhile. Eventually, John goes to get a flannel and wipes them off. Then he lays back down and pulls Sherlock to him. Kissing a few more times and holding each other tight, they fall asleep.

----------------

“You said if I won our game, you would have to do one thing that I asked, without complaint.”

“...true…” John says hesitantly. God only knows what Sherlock will ask of him.

“I only have one request.” Sherlock pauses, trying to keep his voice steady. “This thing between us, whatever this is- whatever we are to each other, I don’t want to lose it. Promise me, John, promise me that this is forever. Please don’t leave, John.”

Even though John wasn’t supposed to complain about the request, Sherlock is terrified that he might have pushed things too far. He doesn’t actually expect John to comply.

“Leave? Sherlock. Come here.” Sherlock scoots closer until his head is resting against John’s chest. John wraps his arms around Sherlock and kisses his head. A few tears fall from Sherlock’s eyes as John gently rocks him.

“Sherlock, listen to me. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to. Resisting this thing between us - it would be as pointless as attempting to resist the force of gravity. I love you, Sherlock Holmes. And I’m not going anywhere.”

With tears now flowing freely from his eyes, Sherlock looks at John and places his hand over his heart. “I love you too, John Watson. Without limits, without conditions. I love you completely.”