The hands that clutch desperately at his hips are too large, too soft. Not dry and chapped from over a dozen handwashings a day.
The seeking lips are too large and too wet. They feel at once too demanding and not strong enough, and almost make him flinch where they touch the skin under his ear. Chest is too broad and wide where it eclipses Sherlock’s narrow shoulders.
And when he looks in the long cheval mirror, the eyes that are watching from near the crown of his head are—
“Get out,” Sherlock says, on an indrawn breath.
Andrew stills. “What?” he says, and Sherlock is instantly furious. Furious with Andrew, with himself, with his ridiculous, needy, betraying heart.
Sherlock rounds on Andrew and pulls his dressing gown from the hook on the door and over his naked shoulders. “You heard me. I’m finished here. Go find someone else to slobber on.”
Andrew looks, unsurprisingly, stricken. He blinks, then picks up his shorts from the floor and steps into them.
“So that’s it, is it?” he says. “Six weeks of amazing sex and let me guess, you’re bored?”
Sherlock ignores him and gets a pair of soft track pants and a tee shirt from his dresser and puts them on, then pauses. It’s a nice night, but maybe a hoodie wouldn’t go amiss.
“Fine,” Andrew continues, as he buttons his shirt. “Fine. But don’t come sniffing around again if you want another taste. Fuck you, Sherlock Holmes. I hope I never see you again.”
“That’s the plan,” Sherlock mutters as Andrew slams his way out of the flat.
Cigarettes and lighter are tucked in his top dresser drawer and he pockets them on his way out and up the stairs. He pointedly ignores the closed door just to the right of the second floor landing and continues up, up, through the dark and dusty attic full of years of Mrs. Hudson’s cast off furniture and to the small trap door that leads to the roof. The bolt sticks a bit but it finally gives, and Sherlock hauls himself up onto the slick tile roof, four storeys above the street.
It is a nice night, mild and soft with the promise of a beautiful spring day to come. The lights of London stretch in front of him as far as he can see, a twinkling starfield of living colour horizon to horizon. Sherlock snaps the lighter and takes a deep draw of his fag, lies back and stares at the sky.
He’d known bringing Andrew to the flat was a terrible idea, a place too soaked in memory to be comfortable. They’d always met at Andrew’s place, Sherlock had never stayed, and things had been working fine that way. But once Andrew had wheedled his way into the flat, had come to stand behind Sherlock after they’d undressed and embraced him in the reflection of Sherlock’s long angled mirror, that was the end. Sherlock’s mind unspooled and ribbons of memories, impressions, desires and longings wrapped him in an unwavering, iron grip.
He wonders, now, how he could have let it go on so long with Andrew, when he’s still haunted by the shade of John’s hands on his hips, caressing the prominent crest before sliding down the crease of his pelvis to cradle his cock. When the drag of John’s nose up his spine was all that was needed to make him shiver and moan.
“Yes, Sherlock,” John whispered into his skin, his lips feather-light against Sherlock’s shoulder. “Open your eyes, look at yourself.” Sherlock drags his eyes open and looks in the mirror, one of John’s strong, rough hands wrapped around Sherlock’s cock and the other around his waist. John’s eyes were barely visible over Sherlock’s shoulder, dark and glittering with lust.
Sherlock could barely breathe, the heavy pressure of John’s cock against his perineum, the heat of his body pressed along Sherlock’s back, the soft whispered words against the nape of his neck leaving goosflesh in their wake. All he could do was reach back to hold John’s body closer to his own and thrust back to meet him, to watch the sweat slide down his own stomach to meet John’s fist as he stroked with long, rhythmic pulls.
“That’s it, love. Yes. God, yes. So gorgeous. Fuck me, yes, fuck I love you—“
The words had seared their way onto Sherlock’s skin, into his heart, sunk so deeply into his psyche that he’d never forget them, not ever. Not that night and not the next, not when he stood on a rooftop and died for John, not two years later when he came back for John, and not now, not when if he looks carefully across the London sky, he thinks its possible that he can find one light out of a million that belongs to the other half of his heart.
Sherlock tosses the butt of his cigarette over the edge of the roof and begins the careful climb back to the trapdoor. Wallowing certainly isn’t going to help. Work might help, so a trip down to the morgue might be in order. As he steps through the door and onto the ladder, his phone buzzes in his pocket.
Mary’s in labour. 6cm, 70% effaced. Any time now. Royal London.
Sherlock takes a deep breath, decides he’s not going to bother changing, and simply finds the first cab that rumbles by at ten o’clock at night and makes his way to the Obstetrics, Labour, and Delivery area, to find John pacing around outside of the delivery room.
“Oh thank God,” he says, and wipes a hand across his face. “She’s about to start pushing.”
“And…shouldn’t you be in there?”
“Of course, I just wanted, well. Wanted you to be here, is all.” John’s eyes dart over Sherlock’s mussed hair, the shadow of stubble. His eyes narrow. “You’ve been smoking,” he says.
“Yes,” Sherlock says. No sense in denying it—John will just keep looking and figure out more than he wants to know. “Bad night. Needed it. Better than Mrs. Hudson’s herbal soothers. I’d still be asleep.”
John chuckles, and it does wonders for his eyes, crinkles them at the corners and makes Sherlock smile in response. “Yes, well—“
“John Watson if you don’t get in here I’m going to—oh hell, that fucking hurts!—I swear to god I’ll put this damn catheter in you instead. This epidural sucks!”
Mary’s complaints become unintelligible as she harangues the nurse inside the room.
“Yeah, I’d better, um. “ John gestures toward the door. “I’ll be out in a bit. I hope.”
Sherlock nods, because what is he supposed to say? “Good…luck?” he tries, and John rolls his eyes as he closes the door. Close enough.
Luck must not be on their side, though, because Sherlock’s phone has died almost two hours in and other than the occasional staff person going in and out there’s no indication baby Watson has decided to make an appearance. Just as Sherlock is working on getting a free cup of tea from the vending machine across the waiting area, the door to Mary’s room opens and John shuffles out, sleeves rolled up and a sheen of sweat on his brow. Sherlock abandons his free cup immediately.
“Rosamund,” John says, and grins dopily. “Eight pounds, three ounces. Beautiful. Perfect Apgar.” Sherlock can’t help but grin back, and John surges forward to grip Sherlock in an fierce hug. Sherlock’s heart trips over itself trying to pick up speed. “I can’t believe it,” John says as he pulls back, still smiling. “Thirty hours labour and over an hour pushing and—hold on, what’s this?” John tilts his head and his brow furrows as he looks at Sherlock’s neck.
No. Sherlock’s ear. Specifically behind Sherlock’s ear. At the mark Andrew probably left there with his big, slobbery lips. Hell.
John’s smile fades as he meets Sherlock’s eyes. His lips tighten into a thin, pained line. The silence becomes an excruciating thing, heavy and stifling, and as Sherlock casts about for something, anything to say to break it, John clears his throat.
“Anyway, come say hello to Mary. Rose is in the nursery for a bit, you can see her next.”
“Absolutely,” Sherlock says, and follows him into Mary’s room. But when they pull the curtain back, Mary’s eyes are closed and the nurse looks over at them with relief.
“Kept talking until she finally passed out,” the nurse says. “We’ll bring the baby in here in about an hour to start nursing; keep an eye on the clock if someone doesn’t bring her back.”
John nods and Sherlock feels strangely overwhelmed, a window into a world he’s never experienced. Mary is pale and drawn, blue circles under her eyes and her hands are puffy with fluid.
“Fuck off,” she mutters without opening her eyes.
Sherlock rolls his eyes at John, who snorts a quiet laugh and gestures for Sherlock to step outside and then down the long corridor.
“Yeah, we’ll talk to her later. She needs sleep. Hell, I need sleep. Ah, here we are. That’s Rosie, there, over to the —“
Sherlock gestures him quiet. No, he wants to find her himself, out of the half dozen squirming, sleeping, screaming newborns. Some are obviously not her, skin darker, or pinker, but there’s one, one with slicked smooth hair still damp from a first bath, with big round eyes and a thin little mouth and John Watson screaming from the set of her jaw as she pushes out with her lips, searching to suckle.
“There,” Sherlock says. “Simple enough.”
John beams. “Of course. Of course you’d find her. Genius.”
Sherlock barely suppresses a shiver at John’s admiring tone. “She’s got your ears.”
“Yeah, well, lucky her.”
“Not really,” Sherlock snarks, and their eyes catch in the dim light of the hall, John’s smile an electric thing that lights Sherlock’s whole world. He quickly turns back to the window and studies the little waving hand now emerging from Rosie’s cot. Shouldn’t she be sleeping? Birth must be exhausting.
Sherlock is staring so intently he startles when he feels a gentle finger along the edge of his collar.
“About this mark,” John starts and Sherlock spins away and backs down the hall in spite of himself.
“Ah, yes, it’s fine, perfectly fine, I’m just … I’m going to pop to the loo, won’t be long, meet you back in Mary’s room,” he says, trying not to trip over his words as he finds the door handle to the single occupancy restroom a few feet behind him. He slams the door and leans over the basin with his eyes screwed shut. His heart shudders and jumps in his chest, the tiniest touch from John’s hand enough to scatter his control to the wind. At least he’s alone for this embarrassing lapse.
That is, until the handle turns and John slips in, and then locks the door behind him.
“I just. I can’t stop thinking about…about this,” John says, and steps behind Sherlock to examine his neck more thoroughly. “I know you must have hated it,” he whispers. “That’s not … “ John trails off as his deep blue eyes meet Sherlock’s in the reflection of the dim, warped mirror above the sink. Sherlock can feel his face heat, adrenaline sliding through his veins like liquid fire. He wonders if John is thinking what he’s thinking, of their last time together before he fell, a night of passion and declarations that had buoyed Sherlock’s heart for the schism to come.
John carefully pulls the back of Sherlock’s collar down and presses his lips to the base of Sherlock’s neck, right over the rise of his spine.
Oh yes. He’s thinking about it.
“I still know where you like to be touched,” John whispers against his skin. “I’d have done it every day of forever if I could have.”
“I know. But I wouldn’t change it. Not now.”
John’s hand creeps around to unbutton Sherlock’s blue shirt, Sherlock watching in the mirror as each button gives way and the fabric slips apart across his chest.
“Of course. I know. But you still—“
Sherlock grabs his wrist, forcing John to look at him in the mirror. “Things are as they are. I have no intent to change them.”
John pulls his wrist loose and Sherlock allows him to gently slide the shirt from his shoulders. He wraps his arms around Sherlock’s waist to press his face into the space between Sherlock’s shoulderblades. There’s a quick scatter of voices in the hall, a faint sound of crying babies barely audible in the oppressive silence of the tiny room, and John, once again, breathing across Sherlock’s skin.
“I still want you,” John says. “I saw that mark and I just. I’m insane. I just had a baby, for God’s sake, I’m married, I shouldn’t but God help me I’ve never stopped loving you. Not ever. Not for a minute.”
Sherlock swallows heavily and closes his eyes against the pain in his throat. He can’t talk, he can’t even begin to explain the way his body longs for John’s, for his strength and his sure, confident touch. For a mind that knows his inside and out.
“He’s not you,” Sherlock says, a quiet confession. “He’s not half of you. Six weeks and I sent him off, because he’s not enough, can’t you see? He’s just. Not. You.”
John sucks in a breath and pulls Sherlock tighter. Kisses the space between his shoulderblades, the dip at the base of his neck, presses his teeth to Sherlock’s skin and sucks a bruise over the ridge of his spine. Sherlock shudders and swallows his moans, bites his lip to keep it quiet, and drowns himself in a touch he’s not felt in almost three years.
“Lovely, oh, lovely, I’ve missed you, I’ve missed this. I want to touch you. Can I? Please say it’s okay. Even just one more time. Please.” John’s words are all spoken against Sherlock’s skin, into the nape of his neck, into the shell of his ear. It’s an onslaught of loving, of longing and desire that Sherlock can’t resist even if he’d wanted to, and his yes echoes hot and breathy from the tiled walls.
Sherlock reaches back to put his nimble fingers to use picking apart John’s belt, his flies, and John has no problem with helping Sherlock with his until trousers, jeans, pants, are all shimmied down their thighs and John can press up against the crease of Sherlock’s arse, full and hard.
“Between, like last time, yeah?” John says and pushes between Sherlock’s thighs. Its rough and sticky, John’s cock dragging against the sensitive skin of Sherlock’s arse and thighs. John stops and presents a hand in front of Sherlock’s mouth. “Lick,” he demands, and Sherlock licks his hand with slow, wet strokes until John moans against his shoulder and strokes his own cock, then spits in his own hand and slides wet fingers down Sherlock’s cock as well. Things get so much better after that, John’s cock sliding between Sherlock’s thighs and pressing into his prostate and behind his balls as John’s strong, callused hands jerk him with a knowing, familiar rhythm.
“I won’t last, I won’t last,” Sherlock pants, and he knows he won’t. He won’t even try, because there’s no self control when it comes to this, John’s hands on his body and giving himself to Sherlock’s pleasure, sharing his desire. John’s lips on his shoulder and breathy words in his hair, Sherlock surrendering to the steady pulse of John’s cock rocking into the cradle of his thighs until John shudders and comes in pulses that drip down Sherlock’s legs.
Sherlock follows right after, the slide of John’s come on the inside of his thigh burned into his skin like a brand.
“Oh, God, you’re a complete mess, Sherlock, I’m sorry,” John says, then shakes his head. “I’m …”
“I’m not,” Sherlock says, and pulls up his pants and trousers over the wetness, the fabric pressing it in place. “I’m not. I can’t be. “
John regards him in the mirror for a moment before pulling Sherlock around to look him in the face. “I didn’t even kiss you,” he says, and the crease between his eyebrows is deep and pained.
Sherlock bends down and presses a gentle kiss to the corner of John’s mouth. The desire is quenched, now, and Sherlock feels incandescent. It’s enough. It’s all he needs to sustain him for the oncoming storm.
He thinks about Mary, asleep in down the hall. He thinks about a tiny, vulnerable new life in their care.
He thinks about John. About love, and life, and his tiny light in a million across a crowded London sky.