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Ten Years

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It was all Li Thompson’s fault. Li Thompson had told Rosie that parents are supposed to be together. That was why Rosie was now standing in the middle of the living room and staring at John with a frown she had surely learned from Sherlock. Later John would talk to Sherlock about teaching their kid expressions with which she could make his father do stupid things.

Now John had other, more urgent things in his mind.

Like, why the hell he had told Rosie that of course her parents were together.

“But Li said,” Rosie narrowed her eyes at John in a very familiar and terrifying way, “that it means that they kiss. That’s what it means. Together. You aren’t together.

“Darling,” John said with absolutely no idea where to go from there. “Even if Li says… and who is this Li, by the way?”

“My best friend ever. But daddy, I’m the unluckiest girl in the world,” said Rosie with the certainty only a ten-year-old could possess. “You won’t buy me a pony and my parents aren’t even together.

“Rosie, me and Sherlock are –“

“Everyone else has parents who’re together.” Rosie stared at him and blinked. There was a real danger that the kid was going to start crying. “Why aren’t my parents together?”

“But we are, dear,” John said and then bit at his lip. Too late. Rosie’s mouth dropped half-open. The possibility of tears was gone as was the frown. The kid was probably already thinking about another plan to get that pony.

John sighed. He, on the other hand, was very much in trouble.

“You are?” Rosie said, sitting onto Sherlock’s armchair. “Together?”

“Yes,” he said. The damage was already done. There was no way out. Rosie Watson was, besides being the most clever and lovable kid ever lived on Earth, also the most stubborn, which was partly inherited from her mother and partly learned from the man she had called dad all her life.

“But you don’t kiss,” Rosie said and there was a hint of frown on her forehead.

John swallowed. “We do. We do. We just… don’t do it often.”

“You never do it.”

“We do it all the time,” John claimed and then stopped to wonder how the heck this was going to help his case. “I mean, in private. And sometimes in public… I mean, living room. You just haven’t been there.”

“Dad,” Rosie said with a deep sigh John knew very well. That was the sigh his kid used to tell him that there was no way he could know anything. He had let himself believe that would be happening only with teenagers. But then again, Rosie had had Sherlock Holmes as her father for her whole life. John should have known she would pick up his habits. “Are you sure you are together? You are only averagely clever.”

John bit his teeth together. He would have to ask, once more, for Sherlock kindly not to insult his cleverness in the presence of their daughter, please or I won’t make you tea anymore.

“I’m sure,” he said. “Just ask Sherlock.”

Rosie nodded.

Shit, John thought as he realised what he had just said.


**


“Sherlock,” he said at the exact moment Sherlock opened the door. For two hours John had been sitting miserably on his armchair, staring at the door and hoping that when Sherlock got home, Rosie would still be in her room, reading or playing with imaginary horses on internet or whatever it was kids did these days. And because he had been completely unable to focus on anything, he had spent the whole time thinking about how Rosie would get to Sherlock first, stand in front of the man with her most frightening expression on her face and ask are you two together.

John coughed. Sherlock frowned at him. “John?”

“Out,” he said, “immediately.”

Sherlock stood still. John gave the man a little push and Sherlock stared at him with his usual why am I bearing with this idiot look.

Now,” John said.

“Why? Where’s Rosie?”

John pushed a bit more. Sherlock refused to move. John drew a very deep sigh. “I told her we are together.”

What?”

Perhaps using Sherlock's confusion to push him through the open door was somehow cheating. John didn’t care. He closed the door behind them as quietly as he ever could and then climbed down the stairs. Sherlock followed him, probably wondering if he had finally gone mad.

John.

John stopped and turned around. Sherlock was standing in the corridor, his hands pushed deep into his pockets, staring at him with a frown. He had been frowned at a lot today, but somehow he thought he earned it this time.

“Apparently,” he said, trying not to sound so upset and failing completely, “someone told her that parents are supposed to be together.

Sherlock was watching him a bit too carefully. He turned to look at his own socks. One was grey and the other black. Shit.

“I said we are.”

“John –“

“I told our daughter that we are together.

“Yes, I got that already.” Sherlock took a step closer. John leaned his back against the closed door. “John, she’s ten years old. Half of her genes come from you. Surely she doesn’t understand the whole concept too well.”

“I told her we kiss,” John said, his voice sounding very thin. “She didn’t believe me when I said we were together because we don’t kiss, so I said we do.”

Sherlock opened his mouth and then closed it. John felt quite hopeless.

“And I told her to ask you,” John finished very quietly. “About us. Being together.”

Sherlock sighed quite deeply. “Oh. John.

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re an idiot. You couldn’t just tell her that no, we aren’t together in that particular way, could you? Like with the pony. No, Rosie, I won’t buy you a pony even if everyone else in the world has one. No, Rosie, we don’t kiss but I have shot people to save your dad and he occasionally cleans the kitchen for me.

“I won’t tell my daughter that I have shot people for you,” John said, “and you never clean the kitchen. But I get the general idea. I’m sorry, I really am. I panicked.”

“You’re an army doctor. You aren’t supposed to panic when a ten-year-old frowns at you.”

“She’s got it from you,” John said, “and besides, I can’t take it back now. What’s done is done. What are we going to do?”

“You have to explain to her.”

“Really? What do I say?”

“That we don’t kiss,” Sherlock said, “but otherwise –“

John closed his eyes for a second as Sherlock paused in middle of the sentence. “Sherlock.”

“John,” Sherlock said, “no.

“It’s not that big a deal,” John said. “And you’re right. She doesn’t know what together means. I’m not sure I do, either, but she definitely doesn’t. I regularly risk my life to get you out of trouble. I think that substitutes for kissing.”

“It doesn’t, though,” Sherlock said, his voice low and somehow different. John decided to ignore that.

“For ten years we’ve raised this kid together,” John said, “and now her friends tell her we aren’t together because we don’t fucking kiss. I can’t bear that. She has the maddest family in the whole world already. I can’t bear that she’s unhappy because she thinks we aren’t together.

“So what are you going to do, kiss me?”

“Yes,” John said and then froze.

Sherlock eyed at him. He straightened his back and waited for something, probably a sharp comment about his utter idiocy. Once Sherlock might have added a question about women, are you completely sure you shouldn’t just, you know, find someone to, you know, it’s been half a month, and then a year, and then two years. After five years, it had stopped altogether. Sherlock snapped at him regularly, of course, but never made remarks about whether John ought to go find someone.

Well, now that he thought about it, it might be just because he had turned fifty not so long ago. Every day he found a few more grey strands in his hair. He would have looked absolutely ridiculous, hitting on someone in a club.

Besides, he couldn’t have done it. He was quite sure he had never even considered it, not after Mary’s death, not when they had come back to Baker Street, the three of them, and the life had begun from the scratch again.

“No,” he said when Sherlock was still quiet. “That was stupid. Sorry.”

“It’s fine, you know.”

John swallowed. “What’s fine?”

“You can kiss me if you like,” Sherlock said. He seemed tense, but then again, John himself felt like panicking. Badly. “If you think it’s for the best. For Rosie.”

“I –“, John started. This was getting out of hand. “I don’t –“

“You don’t want her to miss anything,” Sherlock said, biting his lip. “And it’s true. What would I do with kissing when I have you to take care that criminals won’t kill me as I try to catch them?”

“It’s not the same thing.”

“She’s ten. She won’t know the difference.”

“I think she would.”

“Well,” Sherlock said, “you already lied to her. It can’t get any worse.”

“No,” John agreed, even though he had a vague idea that perhaps he was supposed to say it can definitely get worse and there’s no way I’m going to trick my kid to believe her dads are together when we aren’t. Because we really aren’t. He swallowed and kept quiet.

“So,” Sherlock said slowly, “a few kisses. She’ll drop the subject and be happy.”

“I thought you despised that kind of things,” John said and cleared his throat.

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yes I –“. Shit. “Okay, I didn’t. But it’s going to be weird.”

“I’ve begun to eat regular meals. That’s weird.”

“That’s for your health,” John said, “this is… personal.”

“I can handle personal,” Sherlock said,” if it’s with you. Surely you know that after ten years.

John swallowed. “Yes. Sorry. I know you can. It’s just… I don’t…”

The door on his right opened. John bit at his lip and tried to look like someone who is just spending time in the corridor with their best friends slash co-parent slash colleague slash a partner in everything except kissing. Mrs. Hudson let out a deep sigh.

“Sorry, boys,” she hissed, “I know that health is a very important thing and you should really eat more, Sherlock, but I have someone visiting, so could you possibly take that discussion of yours upstairs?”

“We weren’t actually talking about –“, John started and then bit at his lip.

“He’s doing slightly illegal things in internet,” Sherlock said, “so I think you two might have a fair chance.”

“Oh, thank you, dear,” mrs. Hudson smiled, “that’s very sweet and quite unlike you. Off you go, then.”

She closed the door. John wanted to say something, because surely this wasn’t settled yet, they couldn’t just go in and kiss and trick their daughter and be done with it. But Sherlock turned around with his black coat, the third in the line of black coats if John had counted right. It seemed quite clear that Sherlock didn’t want to talk about this anymore, and as John tried to find something, anything, to say, his words got stuck in his mouth and he had to cough. And then they were back in the flat, Sherlock took his coat off and sat down onto his chair, and thank God Rosie was still in her room.

“Relax,” Sherlock said.

“I’m relaxing,” John snapped, though perhaps it would have been a bit more convincing, had he not been standing in the middle of the floor grinding his teeth.


**


“Dad,” Rosie said with the voice she usually saved for the occasions when she wanted to ask for something she definitely wasn’t going to get. John froze with a cup of tea in his one hand and a half-eaten slice of bread in the other. “Are you two together?”

“Of course, dear,” Sherlock said without looking up. “Don’t be daft.”

“I mean,” Rosie said, “together.

“We have kept residence in this particular flat for ten years,” Sherlock said, “after your mother died, and for several years before your father even met your mother. We have raised you and regularly stopped you from doing stupid things. John takes care that I eat and I take care that John’s most awful clothes get recycled. Occasionally he has killed –“

John cleared his throat very loudly.

“- my desire to lock myself up in his room for days to be able to concentrate on reading a particularly interesting article. I wouldn’t let anyone else have that effect on me. I would also get totally bored of anyone else in less than thirty minutes.”

“Yes,” Rosie said, “but Li said –“

“Hush, darling,” Sherlock said, frowning at the article he was reading. He had told John about it last night, before John had gone to his bedroom and Sherlock had placed his ridiculously long legs on the sofa. It was about something John didn’t and didn’t want to understand. He had said good night and then wondered how long the man would keep insisting that he didn’t need a proper bed. “Dad is reading a very good article. Go find something else to do. Did you read that book we talked about?”

“It’s clearly for adults,” Rosie said, and John straightened his back. “About astrophysics. I don’t do astrophysics.

“You will,” Sherlock said, “some day.”

“I definitely won’t,” Rosie claimed loudly, turned around and walked to her room that once had belonged to Sherlock. For years John had said that it was fine, of course the kid could share the bedroom with his father, and then he had argued for a few more years that it should be him who gave his bedroom to Rosie and started sleeping in the living room. Obviously, he had lost both fights.

“You may thank me now.”

John took a deep breath. The living room had gone quiet, Sherlock’s eyes were still scanning the article and Rosie had begun dancing, guessing by the noises that echoed from her room.

“Thank you,” he said. “You did far better than me.”

“I always do.” Sherlock threw a glance at him over the paper and smiled. John smiled back.

“I’m sorry I dragged you into this.”

“You’ve kept me from going mad. You’ve literally kept me alive. But as I have now spent two minutes telling your daughter facts about how I share quite a lot of my life with you, I think we’re even.”

Our daughter,” John said, “and it goes both ways, you know.”

Sherlock frowned. “Excuse me?”

“Keeping you alive. Keeping you from going mad.”

“John, I didn’t –“

“You didn’t say it to get a compliment,” John said. “It’s not a compliment. It’s the truth. You should know.”

“John,” Sherlock said, turning a page, “I know.


**


After four days, John was quite sure everyone had forgotten about kissing. He had been waiting for the time when Rosie would frown at him, unasked question clear on her face: why don’t you ever kiss? Everyone else has parents who kiss. Just buy me a pony and I’ll never frown at you again. But the time didn’t come. Rosie frowned at him, of course, but this time it was about making her do her homework. John began to wonder that perhaps he, as a parent, wasn’t as clueless as he always felt and perhaps his daughter had just this once believed what he had told her.

Sherlock hadn’t mentioned kissing, either. If John had been completely honest with himself, he would have had to admit that for the last four days, he had flinched every time Sherlock had passed him by. He was quite certain Sherlock wasn’t just going to kiss him, not just like that. There would be a warning. Probably he would have to do it himself. He would have to grab Sherlock’s collar and rise onto his toes, and even then Sherlock would narrow his eyes at him, confused, and John would have to press their lips together and push his fingers into Sherlock’s crazy hair that didn’t seem to be getting thinner at all as the years went by. Sherlock wouldn’t kiss him back. He would feel utterly awkward afterwards, but Rosie could tell Li Thompson her parents had kissed.

It didn’t happen, though. John began to breathe a bit more freely. He didn’t even flinch when Sherlock brushed his arm passing him in the doorway. He was so relieved his stomach felt actually a bit tight, like he had been disappointed, except that he wasn’t and it was just the tension finally wearing off.

That was pretty much when Sherlock kissed him.

He was making tea. Rosie was in the living room, minding her own business, which was what she always answered when either of them asked her what she was doing. Would you do the same, please, she would ask with her frighteningly stubborn voice. That was exactly what John was doing now: he was making tea. He kept a close eye on his cup of tea and thought about the climate change and if they were able to politely ask mrs. Hudson if she needed help with shopping or washing the dishes, and then Sherlock stopped besides him.

“Thank you, John,” Sherlock said and took his cup of tea.

John turned to stare at the man. It was his tea. Sherlock was a man in his fifties, he could very well manage to make his own. He meant to say all this aloud, he just didn’t have time.

Sherlock placed a hand on his shoulder, leaned forward and kissed him on his mouth.

“What are you doing?” Rosie said from the sofa. “That’s gross.

“No, it’s just two human mouths pressed against each other for one and a half seconds,” Sherlock said, walking away with John’s cup of tea. “Do your research, kid.”

“I’m not a kid.”

“Of course not, kiddo,” Sherlock said. “By the way, you should show me those exercises you skipped at the Math lesson as you chatted about something regarding pop-culture, probably that new band you’ve been listening to, with your friend who was sitting in your right side. As you know, I’m considerably more intelligent than any of your teachers and I can help you.”

“Sod off,” Rosie said, standing up.

“Rosemund Mary Watson, you are ten years old, you don’t get to speak like that to your father until you’re eighteen.”

“Oh, please,” Rosie sighed.

“Sit down,” Sherlock said. “It was equations, wasn’t it?”

“You think that’s cool,” Rosie said, “but it’s really not. It’s just annoying. Nobody else has dad who tells them what they’ve eaten in lunch looking at their fingers. Or the mud in their shoes. It’s not cool. Daddy, tell him.”

John blinked.

“Daddy, tell him he’s not cool,” Rosie said, looking straight at John, and John found that he was brushing his lips with his fingertips. He pushed his hand down as quickly as he could, and then, just to be sure, clenched his fists.

“Sherlock,” he said with a somehow thin voice, “you aren’t cool.”

“Liar,” Sherlock said, and John looked the man in the eye even though he knew it was a mistake.

Sherlock smiled at him shortly.

His knees felt quite weak.

“I hate you both,” Rosie said, “you’re ruining my life.”

“You aren’t supposed to say that for at least two years,” Sherlock said in an absent voice.

“I’m a fast learner. I got it from you. Can I have chocolate?”

“Sure. Just let me show you how good I am at equations.”

Rosie sighed very deeply. “You’re insufferable.

“That’s so much better than sod off,” Sherlock said, sitting onto the sofa next to Rosie. “John, I think I used all the milk earlier. Would you mind shopping?”

John swallowed. He was still standing in the kitchen and he had a vague idea that if Rosie’s parents had actually kissed before today, he, being one of them, wouldn’t have been standing frozen in the kitchen, wondering how the hell he was supposed to cope with that.

“Yes,” he said and cleared his throat, “no, I wouldn’t. I’ll go. Anything else I should get?”

“I would like to have parents that are actually cool,” Rosie said.

“I’m not sure if they have them in Tesco,” John said, “but fine.”

He took his coat. There was a possibility that Sherlock stared at him, but he didn’t think he could handle finding out. He pressed the door shut and stepped down the stairs. On the street he realised what Rosie had actually asked of him.


**


“John?”

He sat up on his bed. “What is it? Is everything –?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, standing in the doorway. “Don’t panic. Can I come in?”

“Sure,” John said, pushing his shoulders back. It wasn’t like Sherlock hadn’t been in his bedroom before. Sherlock had also seen him without a shirt before, including lately when his chest hair had turned grey so fast he hadn’t even realised it was happening until it had already happened. They had been living together for ten years, for fuck’s sake, this was perfectly normal and John wasn’t panicking at all.

“You didn’t like it,” Sherlock said, stepping inside and closing the door.

“What?”

“When I kissed you.”

John drew a deep breath. “Come here. Sit down.”

Sherlock sat onto the bed next to him. It was fine. It was all fine. They were definitely allowed to sit next to each other, even if it was John’s bed that Sherlock never sat on, and even if John wished he had been wearing a t-shirt.

“I just got surprised, that’s all,” he said. His voice wasn’t nearly as steady as he had planned.

“But you told me to,” Sherlock said. “We agreed on that.”

“I know. I just… I guess I didn’t think you’d actually…”

“Kiss you.”

“Yes.” John swallowed. Sherlock was staring at his own palms, placed on his knees. John moved his thigh a bit further away from Sherlock’s. “Oh my God. Rosie is so… so right about us.”

“No, she isn’t,” Sherlock said in a firm, low voice. “We are together. In this. We have been for this whole time. You came back to Baker Street with me. You stayed even though I had almost got us both killed. Again.”

“Do you know what I’m thinking about right now?” John asked even though he shouldn’t have. “I’m thinking about how we’re sitting here on my bed, and after ten years I wouldn’t dare to touch your thigh.”

“Try not to be an idiot,” Sherlock said. “You’re my doctor. You’ve touched my thigh.”

“Yes, but I mean, now, like this, when we’re –“

John bit at his lip. Sherlock squeezed John's knee lightly and then drew small circles with his thumb. John tried to breathe. And he was the one who was wearing nothing but pants. Shit.

“I do,” Sherlock said. It was possible that Sherlock’s hand trembled just a little. Or perhaps it was John’s knee. “I dare to. Breathe, please.”

John gasped for air. It was ridiculous. He was ridiculous. Sherlock didn’t laugh, though.

“You must miss it,” Sherlock said, not looking at him. “Touching. Before all of it, before Mary, you always had a girlfriend. No matter how hard I tried to drive them away, you always found another one.”

John chuckled. “You really were quite… quite an obstacle.”

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock said, sounding rather smug. “I guess I didn’t know how to share you.”

“You won’t have to anymore. You know that.”

“Yes, though I can’t understand why. You gave all that up. Touching, kissing, and, you know. Sex.”

“Surely we don’t have to talk about this,” John said, “not now that we’ve managed to get along for ten years –“

“But why would you do that?” Sherlock asked, frowning at the wall. His fingers tightened on John’s knee. John tried not to notice. “For me.”

“You’re very,” John said, swallowed and placed his own hand over Sherlock’s, “very… I mean, we are… I think I did it for… us. And Rosie. And, you know, Mary. After she died, it took a lot of time before I could even think about… being with someone else than her. And then you were there. With me. And everything was… fine.”

“But it’s not fine.

“Yes, it is,” he said. Sherlock’s hand felt weird under his palm, warm and big and somehow familiar but still weird. “You don’t get to decide that it’s not okay, not after ten years that we’ve lived like this. You just don’t get to do that.”

“I’m not trying to,” Sherlock said and took a deep breath, “I’m not trying to –“

“Sod off,” he said, holding Sherlock’s hand on his own knee.

Sherlock laughed. John closed his eyes for just a second. He probably should have let go of Sherlock’s hand now, but for some reason he couldn’t. Ten years. He hadn’t had someone touching him for ten years.

“Your lack of vocabulary,” Sherlock said, “is ruining our girl.”

“Don’t you mock my vocabulary,” John said. “It got me this far.”

Sherlock opened his mouth, glanced at him and then turned his gaze away. “Surely you realise I have a hand on your knee.”

“Yes,” he said, “it’s fine. It’s more than fine. You know that you could… I mean, if you ever felt that you wanted somebody to… to pat you on the shoulder, or something, you could just ask. I would do it. Obviously.”

“You would pat me on the shoulder.”

“Or rub your shoulders. Or… whatever you like.”

“Surely not whatever I like.”

“Well,” John said and cleared his throat, “you wouldn’t… you don’t… it’s quite late, isn’t it?”

“You know perfectly well how late it is, there’s a clock on the wall straight in front of you,” Sherlock said with a dry tone but withdrew his hand nonetheless. John’s knee felt oddly empty.

“Sherlock –“

“You could kiss me next time,” Sherlock said, standing up and walking to the door, “so that you know when it’s happening. You can’t look that frightened about it. It isn’t convincing.”

Sherlock.

“Unless you want to call it off, you know, you lying to your daughter about kissing me.”

“She’s yours, too. She’s ours.

“I know that,” Sherlock said. John watched as the man stopped at the door and took a deep breath. “Good night, John.”

“Good night,” he said to the closed door.

He couldn’t sleep, though. He placed his own fingers onto his knee but it didn’t feel the same. Half past one he heard footsteps echoing from downstairs. He pushed the duvet aside, walked to the door, and then turned around and went back to bed.

Chapter Text

Damn it, Captain Watson, he thought and took a sharp breath, you can do it. Just lean forward and grab his shoulders. Kiss him, you idiot. You know how to.

“John?” Sherlock said in a deep voice.

John blinked and stepped back. Sherlock stood still, leaning against the fridge, eyes carefully following every movement John made. Rosie was sitting on the sofa and watching TV. John tried not to look like he had been about to kiss Sherlock and then chickened out.

John,” Sherlock said, still watching him.

“No,” he said, too sharp, too loud, and cleared his throat. “You can buy your own biscuits. I promised Rosie I’ll play board games.”

“Yeah,” Rosie said, “Monopoly,” and Sherlock cocked his eyebrow at John but somehow didn’t look quite happy. John put the kettle on. Sherlock was just disappointed that John hadn’t had guts to do it, to kiss him, even though they had agreed on it. Sherlock was disappointed in John’s lack of character. Sherlock didn’t care about the kiss. Nor did John, of course.

“I’m going to win this time,” Rosie kept talking without looking at them, “but don’t let me, it doesn’t count. You can’t let me win.”

“I know, dear,” John said, his voice trembling just a little.

Sherlock backed away. John leant against the counter and closed his eyes just for a second, waiting for the water to boil.


**


“So,” Sherlock said slowly, in a deep voice, and John tried to stop his hands from shaking.

“Yes,” he said, leaning closer. He could do this. He could fucking do this and then it would be done, and their kid wouldn’t have to be sad about his parents who didn’t even kiss.

Sherlock watched him with narrowed eyes.

John turned away.

“Daddy,” Rosie said, “are you fine? You look weird. Like you might throw up.”

“Yes, John,” Sherlock said in somewhat dark voice, “do you feel like vomiting?”

“I’m fine,” John said, eyes still on Sherlock’s lips. “I just have a… headache.”

“Sure you do,” Sherlock said.


**


“I can’t do it,” John said two days later, when Rosie was walking dangerously near to the pond with hundred something ducks on it and he and Sherlock were waiting for her to get bored.

“I have noticed,” Sherlock said. “Well, I understand it’s quite unpleasant.”

“Sherlock, I don’t –“

Sherlock grabbed John’s coat and pulled him closer. Rosie turned around and froze with a slice of bread in her small hand and thirty ducks following her. John pressed his eyes closed. He felt Sherlock’s breath on his face, weird, definitely weird but not in a bad way, and then Sherlock kissed him and he let his lips open, only Sherlock was already stepping away from him.

“So, that’s quite enough of that,” Sherlock said with a low voice and placed his hand on John’s shoulder to push him further. John wondered if the gesture seemed like a quick caress from where Rosie was standing. He drew a quick breath. Sherlock turned his back on him and walked to Rosie with long steps, saying something about ducks and nature and wildlife and climate change, and John tried to collect himself and failed miserably.

So, that was quite enough of that. He swallowed.

As they walked back to the flat, John had a weird feeling that Sherlock didn’t quite look him in the eyes. Rosie was happy, though. Everything was alright. It had to be. It had to.


**


John only stood there until Sherlock finally moved his legs and let him sit down onto the sofa. He placed his cup of tea on the floor. Sherlock pretended not to see him, which of course was nothing new, even if they had grown out of it a bit in last ten years.

He placed his fingers on Sherlock’s leg and Sherlock kicked him.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“I kick you and you apologize? John, please.

“I didn’t,” he said and cleared his throat, “I’m apologizing for the… kiss.”

“What kiss?”

“Yes,” he said. “Exactly. I’m sorry.”

“Well,” Sherlock said. His voice was low, more than a bit sulking and reminded John of the old days, when he had gone on dates with every pretty woman who would have him and then always found himself back home with Sherlock. “It’s not like you’re supposed to want to kiss me.”

“It wasn’t about –“, he swallowed, “wanting to kiss you. It was just… it felt like a bit too much.”

“I get it. Really. Just shut up and go to sleep.”

“Can I,” John said and closed his eyes for a second, “can I just try again? Please.”

He thought he heard Sherlock stopping breathing. “What? John.

“Just sit up,” he said. Watson, you’re a doctor and you’re a soldier. You can do it. It will frighten the hell out of you, they had said sometimes when he was puking his guts out in the toilet, but you can do it. And you will. And this was Sherlock, his Sherlock. Brilliant, amazing, impressively stubborn man with whom he had raised his child.

“John,” Sherlock said, warning clear in his voice. “Surely you realise Rosie won’t see us now since she’s not here.

“Yeah. I’m not that daft.”

“You aren’t going to kiss me.”

“Come here.”

John.

He took a deep breath and leaned forward. Sherlock stayed frozen. John tried not to poke Sherlock with his elbows or his knees, and somehow he managed to climb over the man. Sherlock stared at him, sharp eyes moving on his face, as he placed his palms on the sofa on either side the man and swallowed a few times. Sherlock eyes dropped to his lips and he wondered vaguely if Sherlock might kick him, and then he closed his eyes and placed his mouth against Sherlock’s.

His hands were shaking. His heart was beating like it were real. He kissed Sherlock as carefully as he could and then, just as he was about to pull away, Sherlock kissed him back.

Oh God, he thought.

“John,” Sherlock said against his jaw. “John. You have to stop.”

“But you,” he said and tried to breathe, “you want me to… to kiss you.”

“Not like this,” Sherlock said. The warmth faded from John’s face. He opened his eyes. Sherlock was leaning as far away from John as he could, mouth still half-open but lips in a smile that wasn’t quite happy. “You’re trying to prove yourself, John. You’re trying to prove you can do it. That it doesn’t disgust you.”

“Of course it doesn’t disgust me,” he said, the whole thought was just idiotic, surely Sherlock didn’t mean that. “I’m not trying to prove anything, I’m just… I wanted to…”

“Get off me,” Sherlock snapped and pushed his chest.

He fell backwards and kicked his cup of tea in the process. Sherlock landed on the floor with a move far too elegant for the situation, and John sat there, tea on the carpet, watching as the man collected himself and walked to the door.

“Sherlock,” he called out as Sherlock took his coat.

“Fresh air,” Sherlock said, “I just need some fresh air. I’ll be right back.”

He wasn’t.

John made himself another cup of tea, drank it and then repeated the whole thing. He sat on the sofa on which he had kissed Sherlock and Sherlock had pushed him away, and it was beginning to seem quite clear that he was, in fact, an idiot. Just like Sherlock had been saying all along. Surely it was the only possible explanation for all of this.

He tried to stop his hands from shaking and failed. He tried to fall asleep but couldn’t even close his eyes for more than three seconds. He went outside, hoping that Sherlock would be just smoking right beside the front door, but the street was quiet and Sherlock was nowhere to be seen.

He even considered calling Mycroft. Mycroft would have known where Sherlock was. Have you lost him, Mycroft would have asked with a sneer in his voice. Well actually, John would have said, I lied to our daughter and told her we were kissing, and then I made him to kiss me so that I could keep lying to our daughter, and then I failed to kiss him back until tonight, when I kissed him and it went all wrong.

He didn’t really want to imagine what Mycroft would have answered, and when he was very much trying not imagine just that, Sherlock pushed the door open.

John rose onto his feet. Sherlock glanced at him and walked to the kitchen with his coat still on.

“I’m sorry,” John said, following him even though it clearly wasn’t a good idea. “I was being an idiot.”

“You weren’t,” Sherlock said.

John blinked. “What? I definitely was.”

Sherlock shook his head and then drew a deep breath. “Well, yes. You were. But it wasn’t the reason I… it wasn’t why I pushed you away. You’re always being an idiot. I don’t mind that. It’s part of your… your charm.”

“I don’t get it,” John said. At least it was an honest statement.

Sherlock glanced at him. “This is quite a lot, John. I see why you wanted us to… kiss so that Rosie wouldn’t have to worry. But I can’t… I really can’t…

“It’s fine,” he said with a dry and thin voice. Of course it wasn’t, and it was all his fault. “We will stop it. Right now. I’ll tell her the truth. I’m sorry. I’m –“

“Stop,” Sherlock snapped, “just stop already. You will tell her nothing. She’s ten years old. It doesn’t matter to her if we kiss or not. It shouldn’t matter to us either.”

“But you’re disappointed in me,” John said, placing both of his hands on the kitchen table and trying to keep them from trembling by sheer will. “I’m disappointed in me, too. And I can’t stand it. You’re all I have.”

“I know,” Sherlock said. John watched as the man took a deep breath and bit at his lower lip before opening his mouth again. “I know, John. Don’t worry. I’m highly intelligent and your social skills are rather good. We’re going to figure it out.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Go to sleep,” Sherlock said. “As I’m the one who’s been sleeping in the living room since our kid was seven years old, I have a right to ask you to go to your own room and let me be.”

“I really didn’t mean to –“

“Good night, John.”

Of course, John couldn’t fall asleep. He stared at the ceiling, thought about Sherlock pushing him away and about that short moment before when Sherlock had opened his mouth and kissed him back, and the warmth that had lingered somewhere inside him.

He was lonely. That was it. He was lonely and he wished he would have grabbed Sherlock’s hand and held onto it.

When he blinked his eyes again, there was sunlight in the room and his head felt muddy and heavy.


**


“Daddy,” Rosie said. John swallowed and straightened his back. “I think you’ve lied to me.”

“Darling,” he said, careful not to meet Sherlock’s gaze across the table, “I really hope I haven’t. Why do you think so?”

“Li Thompson told me,” Rosie said, and John realised he was more afraid of Li Thompson than anything on the news, “that if you guys were together, like, for real, you would sleep in the same room.”

John sighed. Well. It had been a crappy plan all along, to kiss Sherlock just to keep their daughter happy. He should have bought her a pony in the first place. “Rosie, I have to tell you something. I’m –“

“I think Li Thompson is mistaken in this one,” Sherlock said, holding a slice of bread he clearly wasn’t eating. “Some people sleep in the same room and some don’t. It’s not necessary.

“But you never, never sleep in the same room,” Rosie said with a deep confidence of a person who has never been wrong in anything.

“Yes, we do,” Sherlock said and then bit his lower lip. John couldn’t help but stare at the man. Sherlock stared back at him, and there was something quite panicked in that gaze.

“Really?” Rosie asked, leaning over the table to grab the jar of jam. “Like, when?”

“Sometimes,” Sherlock said, watching John with round eyes and a wild stare. “Not often, though. John snores.”

“I don’t,” John said, and Sherlock threw him a glance that said loudly you’re not being helpful.

“You do,” Sherlock said, “and besides, I sleep very little. If one wants to sleep a lot and the other wants to not waste his time in that nonsense but rather read some interesting articles, they clearly shouldn’t… sleep in the same bed.”

“But you have slept in the same bed,” Rosie said, glaring at them both, “haven’t you?"

John wanted to close his eyes but he couldn’t, because Sherlock looked so miserable and it was the best thing he had seen for a long time.

“Yes,” Sherlock said with a thin voice. “We have.”

“I’m glad,” Rosie said, stapling her fingers underneath her jaw. “Li said you can’t possibly be together if you don’t sleep in the same bed, and it just sounded so sad that you are, like, living here with me, being my two dads and still being so terribly alone.”

Sherlock swallowed. “Darling, we aren’t alone.”

“Not terribly,” John said and Sherlock frowned at him rather urgently.

“Not alone at all,” Sherlock said, “and besides, we have you.

“Yes, sure,” Rosie said, “but do you promise you’ll do it? Sleep in the same bed? Tonight? Please? Please?”

No,
John mouthed when Rosie turned to look at Sherlock with her eyes that were, to be particularly honest, the most beautiful and persuasive eyes anyone had ever had.

“Yes,” Sherlock said and looked at John with a helpless stare.

Why? he mouthed.

Shut up, Sherlock answered.

Rosie looked quite happy.


**


“I’m sorry,” Sherlock said, standing in the middle of John’s bedroom, fully clothed and utterly uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. She tricked me.”

John sighed. They had said good night to Rosie and the kid had watched them with a happy smile of a ten-year-old who had absolutely no idea what she had just done. “We could wait for her to fall asleep and then you could go back to the sofa.”

“She will know.”

“We will tell her that I snored so much you couldn’t bear it. She’ll believe it if she hears it from you.”

“Yes, it’s very believable,” Sherlock said, staring at him with a restless worry John hadn’t seen in years. “But it’ll only make it worse. I should have let you tell her the truth.”

“I could go tell her now,” John said, but Sherlock shook his head.

“No, it’ll make us both look like we’re completely insane and then she will be unhappy. I can do this if you can. Can you?”

John opened his mouth and then froze. Sherlock was staring at him like there was one particular answer the man wanted to hear. Obviously, he didn’t know which one it was.

“I don’t know,” he tried.

Sherlock turned around and put his hands on his ridiculously narrow hips. John took a deep breath and then undressed his jumper. He thought he saw Sherlock’s shoulders going tense but probably it was just him panicking and seeing things.

“Look,” he said, and Sherlock looked at him, which wasn’t at all what he had tried to achieve. He cleared his throat. “We’re going to do this. We’re going to just… get in that bed and sleep. And I know you don’t sleep very much, so if you can’t fall asleep, please just stay quiet so that I can. If I look miserable tomorrow, Rosie will notice.”

John”, Sherlock said, his voice very low and somehow hoarse.

John tried not to panic. “It’s just us. Nothing more. Only you and me like in everything else for past ten years.”

“But,” Sherlock said, throwing a glance at the bed, “this.

“Well,” John coughed, “we aren’t actually going to… you know… because we’re doing this for our ten-year-old daughter and she doesn’t know sex even exists.

“John,” Sherlock said, “she knows.”

“No, she doesn’t,” John said, “and if Li Thompson tells her about sex, I’m going to have a very serious talk with Li Thompson’s father. Or mother. Or anyone who’ll take responsibility. But for now, we just have to fucking sleep.

“Not very good choice of words, John.”

“Sorry,” he said, turning around so that he could take a few deep breaths without Sherlock deducing his face. “I only meant that it’s fine. Fine. Just take off your clothes and get to bed.”

John.

“Sorry, sorry. I’ll stop talking.”

“Thank you,” Sherlock said, took a sharp breath John very pointedly tried not to hear, and unzipped his trousers.

John closed his eyes for a second, which was stupid, because he wasn’t watching Sherlock anyway. He wasn’t listening, either. He was minding his own business, standing beside his own bed, just a man who was about to go to sleep. Actually there was no one else in the whole room. John Watson was alone, like always in this particular moment, and he took off his t-shirt and then his jeans and socks and put them all aside. His hands didn’t tremble at all and his heart wasn’t beating madly against his chest.

“I have to tell you something.”

Shit. He considered sitting down onto the bed, but Sherlock’s voice was tense and possibly trembling just a little, and he hadn’t heard Sherlock move. He tried not to wonder if Sherlock was still half-dressed, standing behind his back with that posh shirt and no trousers and his hair uncontrollable as always.

“Okay,” he said, when he realised the silence had gone too far and it was probably his fault.

Sherlock cleared his throat. John found he was holding his breath but couldn’t stop.

“John,” Sherlock said slowly, “I hope you know that I’m gay.”

John exhaled without meaning to. “Yeah. I know.”

“You managed to figure it out, then,” Sherlock said with a very quiet voice.

“Years ago. Before… everything, I guess.” John bit at his lip. This was important. He couldn’t mess this up. “Sherlock. I’m going to turn around now.”

Sherlock said nothing. John turned around as loudly as he could. Sherlock was standing sideways, watching the wall on which John had managed to hang up nothing. Sherlock had opened the buttons of his shirt and he had his pants but no trousers, and he stood there arms hanging at the sides, utterly uncomfortable.

“I’ve seen you before,” John said as gently as he could. “I’m your doctor, as you know.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said and swallowed, “but, you know, this is…”

“No,” he said, “it’s still just you and me. We are doing this… play for our kid. Because we are two idiots who’ll try to make her happy even if it gets our own nerves wrecked. I’ve always known you’re gay. Don’t go all awkward on me now.”

Sherlock threw a glance at him, and then another. He kept his gaze at Sherlock’s eyes and opened his mouth to say we should just get on with it, you know, it’s just sleeping or something like that, and then it all went blank in his mind. He blinked and stared and tried to solve the puzzle he hadn’t known existed until right now, and Sherlock probably saw it all on his face, because the man took a step back and fiddled with the hem of his opened shirt.

“You could have had,” John said and cleared his mouth, “relationships. With people. With… other men. It wasn’t like you despised romance in general. You gave it away because you wanted to live with me. And Rosie, of course, but... me, Sherlock.”

Sherlock gave out a short laugh. “That’s what you did. You chose me over sex because you wanted to have your regular kick of adrenaline.”

“No,” he said, “that’s not it at all,” although it partly was, he hadn’t had sex since Mary, and that meant he hadn’t had sex for almost Rosie’s lifetime. And Rosie was old enough to get him and Sherlock totally wrecked after ten years of living happily together. “It wasn’t about adrenaline. It was about you. Well, you’re about adrenaline, partly, but there’s more. Much more. I can’t even tell you.”

“Don’t tell me then,” Sherlock said, glaring at him. “And you’re wrong about me. I do despise romance in general. I didn’t give it up to live with you. I only ever had you.”

John swallowed. “But you have –“

“I haven’t.”

“You have had relationships. You have had sex. With men. That’s how you know you’re gay.”

“No, no and no,” Sherlock said. His voice was sharp and angry and impossibly low, and John had always known he was some kind of an idiot, but this was even below his usual standards. He hadn’t seen this. In fucking ten years they had lived together and raised their kid. “I didn’t have to try it out. I know that I’m gay because I am. It was always the most suitable label. And it was always about you.”

“You wanted me”, John said. He heard his heart drumming in his head, felt it in his fingertips. “Only me.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, turning to really face him, and he wanted to look somewhere else but couldn’t tear his eyes away. “I didn’t give anything up. I took everything I could. And frankly speaking it was… it has been much more than I ever thought possible. You’ve let me live with you and be a father to the kid you had with your wife. We have been together.

“We still are,” John said. He couldn’t make his voice function anymore, but they were standing very close to each other, surely Sherlock would hear him.

And then he thought about how he hadn’t been able to make himself kiss Sherlock, and how he had tried to fix it and how Sherlock had kissed him back and pushed him away.

“I should have known this,” he breathed out. “I should have known. I’m so sorry.”

“No,” Sherlock said, more steadily now. “I shouldn’t have made you do this, to play this… game. For Rosie. And for me. I shouldn’t have, but I thought about you kissing me and I couldn’t help it.”

“You could have just asked,” John said, swallowing as the words got heavy on his mouth.

Sherlock flinched. “Of course I couldn’t ask. It wasn’t on the board.”

“We have been together in every possible sense of that word,” John said. “We’ve put each other through hell and picked up the pieces and kept on doing whatever it is that we do. Whatever it is that we are. We’re together in every way besides that one.”

“But it counts,” Sherlock said.

John nodded. He was cold, tired and shaking, and he had to raise his chin to look Sherlock properly in the eye. “I know. I know. You should have told me.”

“I won’t take your pity,” Sherlock said, so close to him that he could feel the man breathing.

“It’s not pity, you moron,” he said. “I wanted to kiss you. I wanted to kiss you so much that it felt far too real and I got fucking scared and couldn’t do it.”

Sherlock breathed out and turned away, and John watched as the man’s shoulders dropped down.

“I meant that,” he said, “as you already know, and I’m absolutely clueless, as you know too.”

Sherlock nodded.

“Could we just,” John started and cleared his throat, “go to bed? We have had ten years to figure this out. We don’t have to do all of it today.”

“Yeah,” Sherlock said under his breath. “That’s logical. I’m going to sneak onto the sofa.”

“You won’t go anywhere,” John said, I’m Captain John Watson and bring me some hot water and a very sharp needle, right now. Or this time, climb into the bed with me and don’t even consider sneaking away when I fall asleep. “I won’t touch you unless you want me to. I won’t even look at you unless you want me to. But I’m not going to let you get to that sofa to be miserable there, alone.”

“John,” Sherlock said with a very small voice.

“I can put my pyjama on if you want me to.”

“No,” Sherlock sighed, “it’s fine. I’m undressing my shirt as well, if that’s okay with you. It’ll get wrinkled if I sleep on it.”

“I’m your doctor. I can handle you.”

Sherlock closed his eyes, shaking his head. “I know you can. Just… go on already. Don’t watch me. I’m shaking.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I do,” Sherlock said.

John pulled the duvet on himself. He didn’t watch. He stared at the wall and listened to his own heartbeats, and when Sherlock placed himself next to him, he closed his eyes.

“Sherlock,” he said, when his breathing had gone a bit steadier.

“Yes?” Sherlock asked, a low and quiet voice in the darkness, right next to his left ear.

“I would like to touch you,” he said, “to… caress your hair. If you will let me.”

“I’m not a pity case.”

“It’s for me. Mostly.”

Sherlock sighed. “Fine.

Sherlock’s hair was messy and incomprehensible, and John placed his fingertips on Sherlock’s skull and kept his own eyes closed. It’s been ten years, he wanted to say, since I’ve had anyone to touch. He drew lazy circles on Sherlock’s skin and Sherlock placed a large, warm palm on his wrist. I won’t sleep a second tonight, he thought and fell asleep.


**


“So, how was it?” Rosie asked, turning to stare at Sherlock. “Did he snore?”

“I don’t know,” Sherlock said and bit his lower lip, “I fell asleep.”


**


John stopped in the doorway. Sherlock was brushing his teeth, his glance firmly fixed on the mirror. It was of course rather rude to hover around, but then again, Sherlock had left the door open.

“Will you come upstairs?” he asked.

Sherlock didn’t look at him. “Rosie is already sleeping.”

“I want you there.”

John.

“It’s not a trick. Come with me. Sleep next to me. Let me play with your hair if you want to.”

“Play with my hair,” Sherlock repeated, which itself was quite worrying.

“I thought you liked it,” John said and straightened his back. “I liked it.”

“You liked touching my skull.”

“If you don’t want to, just tell me. But if you do, please, please come upstairs.”

Sherlock threw a quick glance at him. “Fine.”

“Good,” John said, and then his left knee was shaking and he had to retreat. He climbed up the stairs and then undressed as quickly as he could with his hands trembling again, fucking hell what had gone into him lately, and sat on the edge of his bed until his legs were freezing and he had to go under the duvet.

He didn’t hear Sherlock’s footsteps. He only noticed he wasn’t alone, when the man stood beside his bed and the light from the corridor drew a sharp Sherlock-shaped shadow on the duvet.

“Come here,” he said.

Sherlock tried very much not to touch him. He knew it, shit, he sensed it. He pushed his fingers very slowly into Sherlock’s hair and kept them there, and after a while Sherlock sighed and placed a hand on John’s arm. It was almost like yesterday, only a bit better, because he didn’t feel so utterly terrified.

“I miss touching,” he said, when Sherlock was breathing steadily onto his skin and his own fingers were getting too lazy to move at all. “I’m not actually lonely, but sometimes I feel like… I would give almost anything to have another person’s fingers on my skin. Anywhere.”

“Just tell me.”

“On my chest,” he said, “please, can you touch my chest?”

“Like this?”

“God, yes.”

“But it’s only me,” Sherlock said. “It’s only me, John.”

“You’re plenty,” he said. Sherlock’s fingertips were moving on his skin. He thought he felt them shaking just a little, and he didn’t mind, not at all. “You’re everything. You’re everything I’ve had for ten years and I can’t think about anyone else anymore.”

“But I’m not,” Sherlock said with a tense voice, like he was miserable that he had to state out the obvious, “a woman.”

“Who cares,” John breathed out, “who fucking cares. It’s just… body parts. Tits and cocks and asses and… your fingertips, Sherlock, you don’t know how good that feels.”

“I think I rather do.”

“I want to do everything,” John said, his eyes closed, wondering if this was actually happening. Perhaps he was dreaming. Perhaps this was what his lonely mind made up when he was asleep. “Everything you want. Anything. If you want me to do it for you, I want to do it. It’s that simple.”

“John,” Sherlock said and there was something sharp in his voice, “you’ve pointed out many times that you aren’t gay.”

“I was wrong. I was being an idiot and I was wrong.”

“I don’t think it works like that.”

“Do you want me to… to touch your… cock? Because I will. Gladly. I will kiss you. I will hold you when you come. I want to see that, Sherlock, I really do, it’s not a game, it’s just us and I want to. Can I?

“No,” Sherlock said. His fingers didn’t stop, though. “Not tonight. I don’t believe you. No one has caressed you for ten years. You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“I know exactly what I’m saying. I want to –“

“Keep quiet.” Sherlock pushed his chest, gently but firmly, and he stopped talking. He stopped breathing, too, but it felt like a mistake right away.

Slowly his fingers froze in Sherlock’s hair and Sherlock’s palm was left resting on his chest. He listened to Sherlock breathing as long as he could. When he couldn’t anymore, he dreamt that he had his fingers in Sherlock’s hair. The dream was quite good.

Chapter Text

“Daddy?”

John straightened his back. Please, not now. Just let it be about getting a pony or unlimited access to internet. “Yes, dear?”

“How did you two meet?”

John blinked. Rosie was staring at her and looking, for once, like a normal ten-year-old who hadn’t learnt her facial expressions from Sherlock Holmes. “I’m sure I’ve told you before.”

“Yeah,” Rosie said, “like when I was four, which is, like, a lifetime ago. And I didn’t know you were together.

“She wants to hear about your romance, John,” mrs. Hudson said and winked at him.

John sighed and refused to recognise the item mrs. Hudson was knitting on their sofa. It certainly looked like handcuffs. Pink perhaps, but handcuffs anyway. “I don’t know if I can tell you about that, dear.”

“But you said you’re together,” Rosie said, “for real.”

“Oh, John,” mrs. Hudson smiled, “I’m so happy you’ve had that conversation. It’s very good for children to realise what a happy relationship their parents have.”

Oh God. John took his cup of tea and sat down onto his armchair. “Well. It has been something like fifteen years. As you know, we were flatmates. I had come back from war and Sherlock was –“

“I was looking for someone to split the rent with but John actually thought I was cool”, Sherlock said, not looking up from whatever it was that he was doing in the kitchen, in Sunday morning, when any normal family wouldn’t have even considered experimenting on human eyeballs. “That’s how it began.”

Cool?” Rosie frowned at John. “He did that deducing thing at you and you thought it was cool?”

“You’ve known him all your life,” John said with a thin voice. Mrs. Hudson was smiling behind her handcuffs. “I had just met him. It wasn’t cool, it was amazing.”

“He complimented me,” Sherlock said. “I was confused. Then we went to catch this one serial killer and your Daddy did something very nice for me.”

“What?” Rosie asked, her eyes big and bright.

“I can’t tell you that,” Sherlock said, “because it was illegal. He saved my life, though.”

Sherlock,” John said, grabbing the armrests.

“Gross,” Rosie said. “What happened then?”

“I fell in love with him,” Sherlock said. “I didn’t realise it right away, of course. But he was the only person who could think I was fascinating and not an intolerable… know-all. And I couldn’t get bored of him. He was being idiot all the time, of course, but I couldn’t get bored of him.”

“That’s very sweet, Sherlock,” Mrs. Hudson said, eyeing John rather carefully.

“No,” Sherlock said, “it’s what it is.”

“And then he faked his own death,” John said and bit at his lip, but it was too late for that now. He wondered absently how the heck Sherlock had managed to keep his voice so steady and casual. “And then he came back and let me get married.”

“That’s me,” Rosie said, sounding excited and like she was missing everything that made John squirm on his armchair. Mrs. Hudson was still knitting and Sherlock was still poking at the eyeballs in the tube of glass and John just suffered there. “That’s why I exist.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said with a soft voice and John wanted to close his eyes, “so it was definitely worth it, dear. And I adored your mom.”

“But when did you tell him,” Rosie said, “when did you tell daddy that you love him?”

John swallowed. He could see Sherlock’s reflection in the window glass. Sherlock was looking closely at his glass tubes, like he was not bothered at all, like his heart wasn’t beating and like there wasn’t a tight knot in his stomach that made breathing rather impossible.

“I didn’t,” Sherlock said. “I thought he’d figure out.”

John closed his eyes.

“And he did,” Rosie declared happily.

“Quite late, though,” John said. His voice was shaking.

“Well, he’s an idiot,” Sherlock said, “your daddy. Now, Rosie, what would you say about giving me a hand with these eyeballs?”

Dad,” Rosie sighed, “it’s Sunday.”

“Listen to your father, Rosie,” Mrs. Hudson said.

John heard Rosie’s footsteps going to the kitchen. Sherlock said something in a low voice, but it was about the experiment and not love and John found he couldn’t make himself concentrate anymore. He took long breaths through his nose and told himself firmly that this was nothing new, they had lived together ten years. He had known he loved Sherlock. He had known Sherlock loved him. If there were details he had missed, it wasn’t such a big deal.

“John, dear,” mrs. Hudson said in a quiet voice, “don’t you worry about it. He always knew that you’re a bit slow in some things.”

He bit at his lip. Mrs. Hudson gave him a sympathetic sigh. Knitting needles kept going.


**


“So, that was it?” he asked, when Sherlock stopped on the doorway. “You fell for me? Right in the beginning?”

Sherlock closed the door with a soft thumph. “Yes.”

“And you didn’t think it would be a good idea to tell me?”

“I kind of tried. You were very specific about not being gay.”

John swallowed. Sherlock walked past him, sat onto his bed and started undressing. “Sherlock. I didn’t think you would… I didn’t think you cared about…”

“I know,” Sherlock said and pulled off his trousers.

“And then you died. And after that… if I had a… hunch, it was very much too late anyway.”

“I know, John”, Sherlock said. “Stop talking.”

“You told our daughter you love me.”

“I’ve managed to tolerate you for more than a decade. You can’t be surprised that I love you.”

“Of course not,” John said, desperately clearing his throat even though it didn’t help at all, “but I thought it was just… our kind of love. Two men sitting on their armchairs, chasing criminals and raising their kid. I didn’t think we could have… other things.”

“We can’t,” Sherlock said and set his shirt aside, “because you’re not up for it.”

“You idiot,” John managed to say even if he was seriously lacking some oxygen, “you daft idiot, you can’t tell me what I’m up for. It doesn’t work like that.”

“Perhaps it’s time,” Sherlock said with a steady voice, his eyes fixed on the wall, “for you to find someone to sleep with. Not here, of course. Not at home. Rosie can’t know. But you could… go for a weekend holiday. Regular people do that kind of thing all the time. Just find someone to sleep with. Hit on her and take her to the hotel and be done with it.”

Sherlock”, John said through gritted teeth, “stop that now.”

“You’re too lonely,” Sherlock said, “you’re so lonely you’re considering sleeping with me. We have to fix that.”

“Shut up. Shut up, Sherlock. That’s crazy.”

“I won’t ask,” Sherlock said, finally looking at him, and he wasn’t sure whether he was terribly sad or infuriated. “Afterwards. If you only come back, I won’t ask anything.”

Infuriated. John was absolutely infuriated, and also there was this ache inside him that he couldn’t quite name. He would have grabbed Sherlock’s shirt but the man was wearing nothing but pants, and he couldn’t make himself touch Sherlock, because it was why they were arguing, it was why everything was so messed up now. He clenched his fists and pushed his shoulders back.

“That’s enough,” he said. That’s enough, private. Stand there and listen. Sherlock dropped his gaze and pressed his mouth shut, and John wished he had been just a bit better at this. “You will never again tell me to find someone else. You will never again suggest that I might go for a weekend holiday, for fuck’s sake, you got that from one of those shows I watched when I had no job. You will never again imply that I might fuck someone else just to stop feeling alone.”

“John.”

“No,” he said and stopped in front of Sherlock, who was sitting on John’s fucking bed with no clothes and his hands on his lap and refused to look at him, “don’t you try to argue with me. This is not arguable. This is not a negotiation. You can’t say things like that to me. Not after ten fucking years.

“You’re swearing a lot,” Sherlock said with a tired voice.

“I fucking know that I am,” he said and bit at his lip. “Sorry. This kind of requires it. You’re being… you’re being…”

“I’m being sensible, John. I’m trying to give you what you want. What you need.

“For fuck’s sake,” John said, “no one needs sex, that’s what wanking is for. I’m a doctor, I know these things. I’ve been taking care of myself in the shower for ten years. I can do it for the rest of my life. I was rather determined to. You’re the only person with whom I’d… with whom I want to… with whom…” He swallowed. Sherlock was watching him with narrow eyes and his lips bitten together. “If you wanted to. Only if you wanted to.”

“John,” Sherlock said, his voice hoarse, “I have never… I’m forty-five and I’ve never done that.

John took a deep breath and knelt down onto the floor, placing both his palms on Sherlock’s knees. He ignored the pain in his own knee and tried to keep his hands unmoving. Sherlock was drawing sharp breaths, eyeing him and leaning back.

“That has nothing to do with this,” he said as steadily as he could, “with us. I don’t care. I have never slept with you. You’ve never slept with me. We’re even.”

“No,” Sherlock breathed out, “we are not. You’re trying to... be nice to me. I can’t bear it.”

“Fuck you,” John said, “fuck you, Sherlock. I’m not being nice to you. You can’t accuse me of that. It’s cruel.”

Sherlock’s mouth was left half-open. “Sorry.”

“Thank you,” John said and swallowed. “I’m sorry I didn’t realise you love me.”

“Stop bringing that up,” Sherlock said, a bit out of breath. John’s thumbs were caressing the insides of Sherlock’s knees. “You’re trying to embarrass me and it’s working out splendidly.

“I’m trying nothing like that,” John said. His voice was shaking, but well, so were his feet. “I’m trying to make you kiss me.”

Sherlock opened his mouth and then froze.

“Please.”

“I can’t move.”

“My knee’s aching.”

“You look ridiculous,” Sherlock said and swallowed, and John tried not to stare at the man’s neck. “Get up and come here.”

“You will let me?”

“It’s your bed.”

“Damn right it is,” he said, standing up. His knee gave out a loud crack. Sherlock smiled crookedly and John let out a sudden sigh. Sherlock was smiling at him. They would get through this. “I’m coming over. Don’t move. I’m going to undress first.”

John managed not to turn around as he pulled off his t-shirt and unzipped his jeans. Sherlock watched him. He had been watched by Sherlock for longer than a decade and still his breath got stuck in his lungs and his fingers began shaking.

“About kissing,” Sherlock said as John had got rid of his clothes and sat down next to the man, trying to hide his shaking hands. “Do you really want to?”

“Yes.”

“So,” Sherlock said, “kiss me then.”

“Really?”

“And then we’ll sleep.”

Sherlock.

“You just said you’ve managed with your self-caressing for ten years. You can easily live through a few more days.”

Days, John thought and swallowed. A few more fucking days. He wasn’t going to jump into conclusions but that had a certain cling, like Sherlock had been considering… in a few days. “Of course.”

“Go ahead then,” Sherlock said.

John blinked.

Sherlock bit at his lower lip.

John took a deep breath and then placed his hands carefully on Sherlock’s bare shoulders that were, by the way, warm, so incredibly warm that he had to clear his throat a few times. Sherlock’s eyes said oh, really or perhaps do it you daft idiot or you don’t dare. John collected all of the courage he still had from his days as a soldier, leaned forward and kissed that stupid, incredible man on the mouth.

“How could you possibly think I wouldn’t want this,” he muttered against Sherlock’s lips, still unmoving but slightly apart, and kissed him, not as calmly as he had meant to, “how could you possibly think I wouldn’t want you, in every way possible, after ten years we’ve shared everything –“

“John,” Sherlock said, his lips moving on John’s, his voice impossibly low and a bit shaken, “you’re repeating yourself with that ten years thing. Badly.”

“I’m an average man,” he said and kissed Sherlock’s mouth, more wetly, more firmly. Sherlock groaned and grabbed his arms. He tried to climb closer but there were too many knees, too many legs, and he definitely wasn’t as flexible as he had been, say, fifteen years ago. What a shame. What a shame that he hadn’t kissed Sherlock back then, right after he had killed that taxi driver in front of Sherlock’s face and they had walked away from the crime scene and Sherlock had watched him with something that had looked a lot like hesitant admiration. Everything would have been different.

But then again, everything had turned out rather fine.

He pushed his fingers into Sherlock’s hair. Sherlock let him. Sherlock pulled him closer and kissed him and he had never realised he had been missing this, and how the hell had he not realised that this, this had been in his arms’ reach for the whole fucking time. Sherlock placed his hand on John’s lower back and mumbled something he couldn’t quite make sense of, but it might have been please, John. Please. Yes, he answered by kissing the corner of Sherlock’s mouth, his jaw, the scar just below his ear. John remembered how Sherlock had got that scar, it had been a dark ally, almost midnight, Sherlock had been reckless and John hadn’t known how to stop the man, and later Sherlock had been holding his hand on his neck and the blood had been dripping in between his fingers, and John had been angry for days. And now Sherlock placed his palm on John’s neck, running his fingers on John’s skin, and John thought, yes.

“John,” Sherlock said, and it was quite possible that John was trying to kiss Sherlock’s collarbone now, perhaps also his chest, and his fingers were deep in Sherlock’s hair and his breathing came out as a rumble. “John. Stop.

He blinked. “What?”

He could feel Sherlock’s fingertips on his side through the thin fabric of his t-shirt. He could feel his own heart beating against his ribs, and he was rather certain he could feel Sherlock’s.

“Too much,” Sherlock said in a low voice, barely audible.

John straightened his back. Sherlock was leaning against the mattress with his elbows, chest rising and falling in rapid motion, and John placed his own palms against his jeans. Sherlock closed his eyes. John knew he was supposed to look somewhere else, it was only that he couldn’t make himself do it. He stared at Sherlock’s lips that were still parted, just a little, like someone had just kissed him thoroughly, someone who had wasted a decade not being able to realise the two of them could ever be something like this.

“Sorry,” John said. His voice trembled only a little.

Sherlock shook his head. “Don’t. Don’t you dare to apologise.”

“Sherlock. Sherlock. I didn’t mean to… push you. It’s just that it was so good. I got distracted. I thought we were –“

Sherlock dropped himself onto the mattress and covered his face with his palms. “You weren’t pushing me, you idiot. But I had a system. I had you filed. I knew how to do it all, how to cope with you, how to be a parent with you but never touch you. And now you’ve messed it all up. You’ve ruined it.”

“I’m –“ John started and then bit back the rest of it as Sherlock glanced him through his fingers.

“You were kissing me,” Sherlock snapped at him, “you were kissing me like you meant it, and I can’t file that. My system is wrecked and it’s your fault.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to file me again,” John said and swallowed. “We can’t just delete this.”

Sherlock eyed him a bit too long before sighing heavily. “No, we can’t. I can’t delete it. I’m… surely you realise it was good. That I was… I would have been…”

“I know.”

“Would you please,” Sherlock said, “get out of your clothes and come here. I feel like some innocent thing you have lured into your bed. You’re still wearing your shirt, John.”

“I think you lured me,” he said but took his clothes off anyway.

Sherlock lay very still. John turned the lights off and placed himself beside the man.

“I feel like someone,” John said to the ceiling, “who has just been very thoroughly kissed.”

He heard Sherlock shifting. “I feel like a regular person who hasn’t got a clue about what’s going on and who doesn’t have intellectual competence to find out.”

John swallowed. “I feel like I fell for you a long time ago but didn’t notice because I’m an idiot.”

“John,” Sherlock said very close to his ear, and he closed his eyes and tried to keep breathing. “I feel like you’re trying to do the nice thing, giving me what I want, but it’s not actually very nice.”

“I feel like,” he started and then bit at his lip, “hell, I know you’re wrong. I’m not doing the nice thing. I’m trying to sneak into bed with someone whom I care about more than I can tell. I’m trying to kiss you because I want to. But you refuse to believe that because you’re an idiot, too.”

Sherlock breathed out.

“And scared.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said in a low voice, “that too.”

“You’re stuck with me, Sherlock. I won’t go anywhere. Last time I did it was because you were dead.”

“I know,” Sherlock said, and his hand brushed against John’s arm. “Can I?”

“Yes. You don’t really have to ask.”

“I think I will,” Sherlock said and closed his fingers around John’s hand, “for a long time.”


**


John was still asleep, obviously, because he imagined his arm was wrapped around Sherlock’s waist and he could feel Sherlock’s breaths on his own chest.

“John?”

He blinked.

“You woke up,” Sherlock said. John thought about pulling his face away from Sherlock’s hair, but then he would have had to move.

“Yeah. Are you awake?”

“Obviously.”

“You’re holding my hand.”

Sherlock let go. John bit one fuck you John Watson, you daft idiot and shifted a bit closer to Sherlock. The man’s back was warm and had a bit too much of shoulder blades in it. They’d have to talk about regular meals again. He closed his eyes and pressed a kiss to the mess that was Sherlock’s hair.

“You kissed me.”

“No,” he said and swallowed, “yes. On your hair. It doesn’t count.”

“It definitely counts. Why aren’t you sleeping? It’s only fourteen past three.”

“You aren’t sleeping either.”

“You’re pressed against my back. I can’t sleep like this,” Sherlock said and then grabbed John’s arm as he tried to move. ”You aren’t going anywhere.”

“You said you’re uncomfortable.”

“I said I’m not sleeping. You muttered some of your usual nonsense into my hair a while ago. And you have been squirming, usually so that you end up tighter against me. It’s highly interesting.”

“Thank you,” John said and frowned. “Sherlock.”

“John?”

“Let me touch you. If you want to.”

Sherlock froze. John pressed a light kiss on the man’s neck.

Now?”

“You said you can’t sleep like this. I’m here. I’m awake. My left hand is inches away from your…”

“My cock.”

“Yes. That.” John cleared his throat. “And say that a few more times and you’re going to feel how very awake I am.”

Sherlock snorted. “Surely you aren’t getting an arousal just because I say cock.

“Try me,” John said, kissing the warm skin on Sherlock’s neck, “and remember that you’re practically on my lap. Or if you prefer, I’m holding you in my arms. I have my face in your hair. I can smell your skin.”

“John,” Sherlock said in a clear disapproval, but there was an edge in his voice beneath the sneer. “If that’s your dirty talk, I think you’ll have to improve a bit.”

“I said try me”, he answered, swallowing one private.

Sherlock hold his hand a bit tighter. “Cock.”

He kissed Sherlock’s neck again. The kiss wasn’t nearly as light and casual as the previous one.

Cock. John, you’re an idiot. It’s just a word. It’s just my voice.”

“Yeah,” he whispered onto Sherlock’s skin, “your fucking voice.  You are holding my hand. You could just place it a bit lower.”

“To touch my,” Sherlock swallowed, “cock.

“Now you can’t possibly think that I’m being nice.

“No,” Sherlock said in a very quiet voice. “You really want this. Cock.

John bit back something that might have been a moan. “I want this. Please. Just let me –“

“Cock, John,” Sherlock said, running fingers on John’s arm. “You would like to touch my cock.

“Yes,” John said, “yes, yes. You can stop it now. I’m already –“

Sherlock shifted. John groaned aloud. There was fabric, of course, thin fabric of two pants, his and Sherlock’s, but fuck that, they were so close. He could feel Sherlock’s arse pressing against his… his…

Cock,” Sherlock said in a low voice. “John, this is much less romantic and much more fun than I thought. I’m going to place your fingers under my waistband now. I trust you can proceed on your own from there.”

“Yeah,” he managed to say, though it was probably closer to moaning and he thought he felt Sherlock grinning at him. “Yeah. Please. And I can be… more romantic if you…”

“No,” Sherlock said. “You’re perfect. Here we go, John.”

Fuck. John pressed his mouth against Sherlock’s bare neck and tried to concentrate, because yes, his fingers were now under Sherlock’s pants, and Sherlock was obviously pushing his pants down, and John was about to -

“Go easy on me,” Sherlock said as John’s fingers closed around him.

“Yes,” he said, “yes. Sherlock, you’re already… you’re…”

"Your poor dirty talk obviously worked for –“, Sherlock said, drawing a sharp breath as John moved his fingers, “me.”

“I’m glad. Sherlock. Sherlock.

“I know.”

“I’m happy,” John said. “I’m… happy. And I… can’t breathe.”

“You’re going to… come into your… pants,” Sherlock said, short of breath, amazing, pushing against John’s hand as he tried to fasten his pace. His wrist ached. His knee ached. He felt his heartbeat echoing in his head and bit his teeth together every time Sherlock groaned.

“No,” he said, focus, Watson, “definitely not. Later.”

“Oh,” Sherlock said in a rumbling, low voice, “John. Cock. Come… on. Do it.”

He swore as Sherlock pressed tighter against his lap. Shit. Sherlock was right. Like always. That amazing, incredible, gorgeous bastard. And John was holding his… cock. He was. He really was. And Sherlock was out of breath because of him, Sherlock tried to talk him dirty and it was working, it was, it really was, he pushed his free hand down into his own pants and shit, he was going to -

“Come,” Sherlock said, “now. For me. John. John –“

He pushed his face onto Sherlock’s hair and came.

A few more strokes and Sherlock groaned, and it was so low, so shaken and utterly brilliant and dear that John tried to kiss him everywhere he could, which wasn’t a lot because he couldn’t make himself move right now. He wiped his hand on the sheets. Sherlock grabbed his wrist and pressed his palm against his own chest, and he felt Sherlock’s heart drumming against his fingers. Amazing.

“John,” Sherlock said quietly. “John. John.”

“Sherlock,” he answered and placed a wet kiss on Sherlock’s neck.

“John. You came into your pants.”

“You –“, he made himself rise up to lean against his elbow. “I had a hand down there. It doesn’t count.”

“Should have been my hand.”

Oh, God. You’re such a smart-ass. In bed.

“You’ve known me for fifteen years,” Sherlock murmured. “You can’t be surprised.”

“You can have your hand anywhere on me,” John said, “anywhere you wish.”

“Good,” Sherlock said. “I’m going to try your face.”

Sherlock.

“I’ve told you I love you. This is for you not answering.”

“You already know I do,” John said, “you prat.”

Sherlock gave out a happy hmmph. John untangled himself and regretted it immediately. Sherlock didn’t seem to mind, when he placed his chest back against Sherlock’s shoulder blades and his face onto Sherlock’s hair.

“You can’t possibly sleep like that,” Sherlock said in a low murmur that John could feel against his palm.

“I can and I will.”

“Idiot,” Sherlock said. “Take off your pants, at least.”

“I’m not moving.”

“You’ll regret it in the morning.”

Of course, Sherlock was right. He regretted it as he woke up with the mess stuck on his pants and his skin. Sherlock sat on his bed, watching him, and he was feeling quite happy for someone who was trying to get dry come out of his thighs.


**


“John,” Greg Lestrade said with a smile John didn’t quite like, “Rosie tells me you and Sherlock are together.”

John swallowed. Greg took another sip of his tea. If only Rosie hadn’t been sitting right there in the living room, John could have been able to just tell Greg to sod off. Or perhaps he would have taken the man to a pub for a beer or two. He clearly needed one himself.

“Of course we are together,” he said firmly. Greg would surely get the hint. “The weather has really –“

“And you’re apparently kissing,” Greg said. “It’s funny I’ve never seen you do that.”

“We’re just a bit shy. It’s not a big deal, Greg. The weather though –“

“John, you don’t need to be shy around me,” Greg said, grinning. John turned around and took a few sharp breaths. If only there had been a way to get a few beers down, like, right now. Then he would have told Greg, very tactfully and avoiding exact terms, that last night he had had his hand in Sherlock’s pants, and he had a feeling it wasn't going to be a one-night kind of thing but rather rest of their lives kind of thing. Sherlock wasn’t going anywhere. John definitely wasn’t going anywhere. That was quite a lot to think about for now. He would have appreciated a sympathetic pat on his shoulder, not questions about kissing.

“I’m not being shy,” he said and poured himself more tea. “I’m asking you to mind your own business.”

“But I’m happy for you,” Greg said, and John realised it was probably true. Still he wanted the man out of his kitchen, now.

“Don’t you have something to do? Work, perhaps?”

“No crimes today,” Greg said. “So, is there a chance that you might kiss?”

John froze. “Now?”

“Yes,” Greg said and grinned at him, the bastard. He would never again buy Greg a beer, and he would definitely stop feeling a bit awkward about that illegal gun he had upstairs. “As I’m your good old friend and also very happy for you. Did I mention already that I am happy for you?”

“Absolutely not,” John said.

“Daddy,” Rosie said without looking up from the television-show she was watching, “don’t be like that. Just kiss. You do it all the time anyway.”

“All the time,” Greg said, raising his eyebrows, “how nice.”

“Greg,” John said as quietly as he could, “this is very new and very confusing, and I don’t appreciate –“

Daddy. It’s like you don’t want to kiss him.”

“Of course I want to kiss him,” John said. Hell. The kid was going to get him killed one day.

“Well, then,” Rosie said.

“Well, then,” Greg said.

“He’s doing something,” John said and glanced at Sherlock, who was sitting in a posture that should have been illegal for anyone older than twenty. “Reading. He won’t want to kiss me when he’s reading.”

Dad,” Rosie said, “I want to ask you something.”

“Is it about astrophysics?” Sherlock asked and then looked up from the article on his lap. “What?”

“Can you two kiss? Greg says he’s never seen you kiss. Can you believe that?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, “I can.”

Well?” Rosie asked.

“Rosie,” Sherlock said with a voice that didn’t show any signs of panic, “your daddy is doing something.” Sherlock glanced at John, who flinched and then tried to look busy drinking tea. “He’s drinking tea. He won’t want to kiss me when he’s busy with that.”

Oh my God,” Rosie sighed so loudly Mrs. Hudson probably heard it too, “it’s just tea.

“There’s no such a thing than just tea for your daddy, darling,” Sherlock said. “Now let me get back to my reading.”

Dad,” Rosie said, and John buried all hope. He tried to hide it from Greg who was watching him with narrowed eyes and a very irritating smile. Obviously, he failed. Greg’s smile turned into something that almost resembled compassion. “If you kiss him right now, I’ll let you tell me about atoms.”

Oh no, John thought, you aren’t that cheap. But Sherlock was. The man was already watching John with wide eyes, clearly calculating cost and price. Sherlock. Do not do it.

Sorry,
Sherlock’s eyes said as he stood up.

Fuck you, John thought and then blinked. He would have to start swearing with something more neutral, since fuck you seemed to have new connotations in it. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to bring that one up. Yet. Perhaps not for a long time. Probably not in a day or two, but how was he to know how these things went, he was completely clueless with all this, he could barely make himself believe they were actually kissing and, hmmm, touching, even though that had happened only once. Clearly it was going to happen again, though. And it was quite a lot to think about for a man who, like John, had been very happy for past ten years and hadn’t even realised that he could have all this too and -

“John,” Sherlock said, stopping in front of his face.

Oh. Rosie pretended she wasn’t staring at them. Greg very much didn’t pretend. Sherlock was hovering almost on John’s face, watching him, watching his lips and then his eyes, frowning just lightly. He realised he could say no and Sherlock would back away. Sulking couldn’t be avoided, of course, atoms being quite high on Rosie’s list of things she didn’t want to be told about. But it would be fine. Probably just thinking about no, I don’t want to would do it. Sherlock would see it in the way his lips moved or in the colour of his socks.

He straightened his back. Sherlock placed his right hand on his cheek and kissed him.

“Well,” Greg said as John tried to catch his breath and Sherlock went back to the sofa with hurried steps, “that was… sweet.”

“It’s not sweet,” Rosie said, her voice hinting that she had a heavy burden to bear, “it’s gross.

“It’s a little bit sweet,” Greg said in a quiet voice, looking straight at John.

“Are you certain there’re no crimes left to be solved?” John asked. “Perhaps some tiny crime you’ve forgotten about?”

“Actually I think there is,” Greg said and, thank God, stood up. “I have to get back to work. Thanks for the tea.”

“I’ll walk you to the door,” John said.

He thought Sherlock watched him as he followed Greg through the living room, but it was probably safer if he didn’t meet Sherlock’s eyes right now. Besides, perhaps he barely needed fresh air.

“So,” he said as they had got to the street and he had glanced up to see if Sherlock was spying on them through the window.

“So,” Greg said with a crooked smile. “It’s for real, then. I thought you might be just trying to make your kid happy.”

John cleared his throat. “We were. At first. Someone told her that parents are supposed to be together and kiss and all. But…”

“You look like you need a beer.”

“I need ten,” he said and then sighed. “I’m fine. I think I’m fine. Greg, what the hell am I doing? I’m fifty and I’m having an affair with my kid’s father who’s also my… my…”

“John,” Greg said, patted him on the shoulder and then looked like he was slightly awkward about patting John on the shoulder. “It’s just you and Sherlock. It’s going to be fine.”

“I’m an old man,” John said. He knew he was panicking a little, he just couldn’t help it. “Aren’t these kind of things supposed to happen a bit earlier in life?”

“You actually are about seven years late. I lost a bet. But I’ll forgive you.”

“What?”

“Never mind,” Greg said and raised his hand like he was about to pat John’s shoulder again and then firmly decided against it. “I could perhaps, you know, grab a beer with you. One day. Preferably Monday. If you... need someone to talk to. But no details.”

“Thank you,” John said.

“Well then,” Greg said with one more heavily implying smile, “good luck with all that.”

“Thank you,” John said and then watched Greg getting into his car and driving away. When John looked up, Sherlock was watching him through the window. He thought about a slightly rude hand gesture, but Sherlock just narrowed his eyes and didn’t look like he had had a smallest question in his mind whether spying on John was a good idea or not.

Well then, John thought and got back upstairs.

“So?” Sherlock asked, watching him as he walked to the kitchen to get more tea. He was feeling quite good, and he had a weird hunch that it was partly because Sherlock was bothering to stare at him.

“So,” he answered, wondering how much he could tell without one particular ten-year-old picking it up, “apparently Greg lost a bet because we’re seven years late.”

Sherlock frowned at him. John drank his tea in silence and was rather happy about it all.

Chapter Text

“So,” Sherlock said, “sex. I googled it.”

John tried not to swallow his toothpaste. “What?”

“Sex,” Sherlock said, and John turned around to face the man that had apparently managed to sneak behind his back as he had been brushing his teeth.

“Yes,” he said and frowned. “You did what?

“It was just an update, John. I haven’t been following that topic for years since it wasn’t in my current interests.”

“I know,” he said, quite uncertain whether he was supposed to pick for years or wasn’t. He quickly decided it was probably more safe just to ignore everything he could. “So, what did you find?”

“A lot of porn,” Sherlock said.

John managed to spit the rest of the toothbrush to the sink. He took a sharp breath and clenched his fists in order to avoid grabbing Sherlock’s shoulders. “Sherlock. You can’t just… sneak in when I’m… and say things like sex or… porn.

“Sneak in?” Sherlock grimaced. “I walked. Regular steps.”

“Okay, okay. Please sneak in with regular steps anytime you want. But that other thing…”

“Porn? Really? I’m not allowed to say porn even though just the other day you had your hand in my –“

“Yes,” John said firmly, grabbing both of Sherlock’s arms. He hadn’t meant to, of course, only it was impossible to engage in a conversation with the man without wanting to shake him a bit. “I remember where I had my hand. And I was rather happy about it,” he added when Sherlock’s frown got deeper, “I am rather happy about it. It’s only that it’s quite a lot to handle.”

“With your regular brain.”

“That’s not actually helping your case,” John said but let go of Sherlock. Sherlock straightened his sleeves. “I’m sorry. I just got surprised.”

“We’ve talked about sex before.”

“Yes,” he admitted, “it’s been mentioned, but it was… it was a bit different when we didn’t actually want to do it. With each other.”

Sherlock drew his gaze away.

“I’m sorry,” John said with a deep sigh. “I didn’t mean to… I’m particularly bad at this today. Sorry. Please tell me what you found when googling sex, besides porn. Unless it’s porn you want to talk about.”

“I don’t want to talk about porn,” Sherlock said, “at least it’s not my first topic. It’s just… you know.”

“I know?”

“No,” Sherlock said quickly, “you know. Like, I’m not certain how to put it.”

Oh. “Oh. You want to talk about sex but you don’t know how to and that’s why you told me you had googled it.”

“I really googled it,” Sherlock said. “John, you have to understand that even though I have always been quite familiar with the basic concept, I didn’t consider it relevant enough for more thorough research. Not until now.”

“So,” John said and coughed, “is our kid in her own room? So that she doesn’t have to hear the rest of this.”

“Yes. I checked that before I came to talk to you about it. Obviously. She’s in her bed and her estimated time for falling asleep is in eight minutes. Even now we’d have to raise our voices at least five decibels for her to hear us.”

“I like you very much, I hope you know that,” John said. “Well, let’s talk. You were talking about thorough research you haven’t done. On sex.”

“I didn’t think I was going to have sex.”

John swallowed. This was nothing new. He definitely had figured this out from their previous conversations. There was no need to breathe very slowly and carefully through his nose.

“John?”

“Just remember that I have an average mind,” he said. “This is quite a lot to take sometimes. And by this, I mean you and me.”

“You aren’t making any sense,” Sherlock said. “You’re reacting almost as badly as when you were supposed to kiss me to trick Rosie, and that was days ago.”

“This has nothing to do with logic,” John said. “And it’s just… when you say things like… like you thought you weren’t going to have sex, ever, until you realised you could do it with me, it’s like… it makes me feel kind of special.”

Sherlock watched him with his usual I can’t talk with this man he’s an idiot look. “John, you are special to me. You could at least try to get the basic information right. It would be very helpful.”

“I’ll try,” he said in a thin voice. “Could we take this conversation upstairs? I have to sit down.”

“No,” Sherlock said firmly, “because then we’d have to get through your I can’t talk about sex or porn and I’m so confused and are you sure you actually like me as I thought you are a highly intelligent person who has no idea of anything. And frankly speaking I can’t bear it. You will stay where you are. If you have to, you can sit on the floor.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” he said and Sherlock frowned at him. It distracted him a bit from the awkwardness of realising how accurate Sherlock’s description had been. “So. Talk to me.”

“I liked it when you tossed me off.”

Sherlock.”

“You may very well inform me of the term you’d prefer. As I said, I did some research, and it seems there are a lot of options. And I’m mostly referring to actual scientific research on the subject, not porn. Counting porn in increases the amount of considerable possibilities quite expansively.”

Quite expansively?”

“This is a casual conversation, John. If I was writing a paper about this, I wouldn’t be so careless about my choice of words.”

“There’s nothing casual about this conversation,” John said.

Sherlock ignored him. “So, I’m only inquiring whether you already have some specific activity in your mind. That would help me choose more functioning keywords and therefore narrow my area of research.”

Oh,” John breathed out, “you’re nervous. You’re just nervous. That’s why you’re babbling.”

“I’m not babbling. I’m simply –“

More functioning keywords? I don’t have a specific activity in mind, if you mean to ask me what kind of sex I would like to have with you. I can’t answer that.”

“But certainly you have ideas –“

“My latest idea,” John said and cleared his throat, “was to toss you off, as you tactfully put it a minute ago. I don’t know a lot about this, Sherlock. I haven’t read articles on it. I have rarely watched gay porn. I just want to be with you.”

Be with me?” Sherlock grimaced, but there was something restless in his voice. “That’s so vague, John.”

“So, you tell me then,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “What specific activities would you prefer?”

Sherlock swallowed and took a step back. “John.”

“That’s exactly what you asked me,” John said. This was surely a serious conversation and all, but shit how he wanted to walk to Sherlock, place his palm on the man’s lower back and pull him closer. And then he would kiss Sherlock and perhaps play with the messy black hair, and how it was even possible by the way that a man in his age could get distracted like this? “What was I saying?”

“You said that’s exactly what you asked me,” Sherlock said, eyeing him. “I think you meant that I was being unreasonable with my inquiries of your taste.”

“You were,” John said, focus now, Watson, “because I wouldn’t know how to answer.”

“But how do we do this?” Sherlock asked him and then flinched, when he leaned forward to grab Sherlock’s right hand. It was big and warm and just a little bit sweaty, and John held it between his palms. Sherlock was the only person in the whole world who might rush into the bathroom and say I googled sex. That probably made John the luckiest person in the whole world. Or something like that. He should definitely think about something else now before Sherlock would see all this on his face and laugh at him.

Oh. Sherlock had asked him a question. He breathed in. “Well. I would actually like to know if you do have some preferences.”

“You,” Sherlock said instantly.

“Yes,” John said, no reason to get all awkward about this again, he already said you were special, just god damn focus now, “but I meant… specific activities. I’m not going to be able to talk to normal human beings ever again, am I?”

“I should hope not,” Sherlock said. “John. John. I can’t tell you what I want because I don’t know.

“It’s okay,” John said quickly. “We’ll figure it out. Together. And I mean, we’ll try and see. You don’t have to watch porn to decide what you like.”

Try and see, John.”

“Yes,” he said. He was going to have to be brave with this. “I know it’s not good enough for science but it’s what we have. Sometimes when we’re in bed, we are going to kiss and then we’re going to…”

“Get aroused,” Sherlock said in a tone that clearly said the man was listening carefully. “I believe that’s the term.”

“Yes,” John said and took a few breaths. “That’s it. So, we’re going to get aroused and then we’ll just…”

“What?” Sherlock asked, leaning forward.

They were going to kiss. Definitely. Right after John would manage to get out of this very awkward conversation. “That’s pretty much the question.”

Sherlock looked disappointed. “That wasn’t informative at all, John.”

“But there’s no answer”, he said, more promptly than he had meant to. “Just shut up already. You keep asking these impossible questions and I just want to kiss you, you intolerable –“

Sherlock flinched. “You do?”

“Yes,” John said, “yes, and I will want to do other things too, but I’m not giving you a list so don’t bother trying. And I’ll always ask and you’ll say if it’s okay with you, and when you want to do something… sexual, for fuck’s sake, with me, you’re going to ask and I’ll probably tell you to just get on with it. And you can watch porn if you want to but not to learn things, you idiot. And can I now please stop talking about these things I know nothing about and kiss you?”

“Fine,” Sherlock said and kissed him.


**


“John?”

“No.”

Sherlock sighed. John kept his eyes closed, because he was sleeping, damn it, he was going to have to wake up in a few hours to make breakfast for their kid who had to go to the school, no matter how much Sherlock wanted to keep John awake at night.

“You don’t know what I was going to ask. You can’t even see my face with your eyes closed. You can’t possibly deduce –“

“I’m not deducing. I’m sleeping.”

“You aren’t sleeping. Obviously. So, if I gave you a list –“

Oh, God. No.”

“A list would be based on reliable research, of course. Just to narrow our options. Say, like, twenty-five most probable sexual activities we might consider. And you’d just have to estimate how probable –“

Sherlock.

“Only a simple estimation on your interest in some possibilities. Very simple. You could surely do it.”

“Fuck you,” he said and then sighed when Sherlock shifted beside him. “I’m just cursing, Sherlock.”

“I know you are,” Sherlock said with a tense voice, “I’m not an idiot.”

“We can’t figure it out like that,” John said, turning onto his side. “I’m going to kiss you and then go back to sleep. Alright?”

“Alright,” Sherlock said, clearly sulking.

The mattress shifted. John was going to open his eyes, definitely, but then there was a large palm on his cheek and a very quick brush of lips, and then another. He let out a deep breath and thought about wrapping his arms around Sherlock, but then again, he was almost asleep and Sherlock was muttering something about simple estimation, shouldn’t be too hard. Perhaps in the morning, then.


**


He woke up when there were soft steps echoing from downstairs and the man beside him was squirming.

“Sherlock?”

Oh”, Sherlock said and stood up, turning his back on John.

“You sound uncomfortable.”

“Yes. Yes. I have to… I’m just going to… Shit. Rosie is downstairs, and my dressing gown…”

John blinked. Sherlock was cursing, so the situation had to be quite serious. He looked at Sherlock, who now walked around the bed, still keeping his back on John. It was almost like he wouldn’t have wanted John to see his face.

“Sherlock –“, John started, as Sherlock pulled on his trousers and fumbled with the zipper. Oh. “Sherlock. That’s fine. That’s beyond fine. Just come back here, we can… take care of that if you want to.”

“Don’t play doctor on me,” Sherlock snapped without looking at him.

John swallowed. “I’m not… I clearly am not playing doctor on you, you idiot, we are… you and me, we are…”

“Your kid is sitting on your armchair and wondering why you aren’t there, making her tea and breakfast.”

“She’ll live.”

“I’ll just have a quick… shower. And if you mention this later, I’m going to sulk for weeks.”

“I’m sure,” John said.

The door closed. After a few seconds John heard Sherlock say good morning to Rosie in a voice that was remarkably calm and steady. He wondered absently if he had managed to do the same. Then he lay against the mattress and considered laughing a bit, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t been a bit confused himself, so he just smiled as the shower went on.


**


“John, dear,” Mrs. Hudson said and sat onto Sherlock’s armchair.

John straightened his back. There was a slight chance that he could point out he was actually reading a very important article on, what was that again, oh, on how the landscape in country-side is changing due to the severe lack of sheep. So, if it wasn’t anything too urgent, perhaps Mrs. Hudson would consider getting back at him later.

“Drink your tea,” Mrs. Hudson said quite firmly.

Okay, it wouldn’t have worked anyway. John lay the newspaper aside and took his cup of tea. Mrs. Hudson was leaning towards him and smiling a lot. It was more than a little bit frightening. If only Rosie had been here and not at school, Mrs. Hudson wouldn’t have dared -

“You two have been sleeping upstairs, lately,” Mrs. Hudson said and took a sip out of her tea. “Together.

John swallowed. “Mrs. Hudson –“

“Oh, don’t you Mrs. Hudson me, dear. I notice things. I don’t bring you tea every morning, but sometimes I wake up early and feel it’s suitable that I check on you boys. You do realise you let Sherlock sleep on that sofa for years. I’ve been worried.”

John took a deep breath. That was so clever. Now he was feeling both trapped and guilty. “I’m sorry. I tried to tell him I could take the sofa, but he insisted –“

“He’s just as stubborn as you, John,” Mrs. Hudson said as it would explain everything, which it probably did. John had a hunch that they both knew it too. “But as you know, I’m happy you’ve managed to get him into your bed now.”

John tried very much to focus on swallowing his tea. “Please. It’s ten o’clock in the morning.”

“Yes, straight to the point,” Mrs. Hudson said, placing her hand gently on John’s knee. “So, how is it? I’m not your mother, so certainly you aren’t embarrassed to tell me.”

John looked at the woman with wide eyes. “I… I’m not going to…”

“Where’s he, by the way? In the shower? Again? Didn’t he take one earlier today? I’m sure I heard it.”

John closed his eyes. He considered himself a somewhat brave man, dare he say, but this was a bit too much. “He’s… upstairs. Reading something. He said I think too loudly.”

“Oh, and he went upstairs instead of telling you to go away? He’s getting soft. Oh, John.”

‘Oh’ indeed. “Mrs. Hudson. I’m actually quite uncomfortable with this conversation, so if we could possibly talk about something else, perhaps… the weather.”

“The weather’s lovely,” Mrs. Hudson said. It was raining. “But John, I’m so happy for you. Finally. You’ve both been so stubborn. I know you’re men and men are incapable of talking, but really, I thought you’d get it together a bit faster. My favourite scenario was perhaps you two getting stuck with each other, literally, in that detective business of yours, you know, some criminal might have locked you up somewhere, for hours, and there you are, just the two of you and all your feelings and nothing to do besides –“

Mrs. Hudson.” John tried to stop clinging into the chair’s armrests, but it didn’t seem possible. “That’s so not appropriate.”

“Well, then,” Mrs. Hudson said, smiled politely and took a sip of her tea, “I take it that you’re happy.”

“Yes,” John said in a voice that shook only a little. Now was the time to bring up the weather again. Definitely. “By the way, I… I thought you always considered us a couple.”

“John, dear, you were a couple. You just were very stubborn about certain aspects of it. Like, acknowledging the whole thing.”

“I don’t think it went quite like that.”

“I have to get back downstairs,” Mrs. Hudson said, and John stood up so that the woman could lean against his elbow. “I have someone coming over and I haven’t picked the music yet. Can you tell Sherlock that I’m happy for you boys?”

“I’ll try,” John promised.

“You do that, dear,” Mrs. Hudson said, patting on his arm. “I know he’s stubborn as hell and reckless and lacks a few basic skills in, say, cleaning, and of course he’s quite inconsiderate sometimes, but he has been pining for you for years, John. Try to be gentle on him.”

Oh. Mrs. Hudson.”

“Yes, I know,” Mrs. Hudson said as they climbed down the stairs, “you’re not a man of many words, John Watson. Try fondling his hair. He’ll love that.”

A couple, John thought as he went back upstairs. So that was what was happening.


**

Abraham Janson, 61, was staring at the ceiling, quite dead. John frowned at the man. The murdered had stolen the cat, which seemed utterly irrational, but when he had pointed that out earlier, Sherlock had narrowed his eyes at him and gone to look for that missing pair of shoes. John had tried to catch Sherlock’s eyes ever since but it was like the man was avoiding him. On a case. That they were trying to solve together.

“Suffocated,” he said, looking up from Abraham Janson. “Probably hanged.”

“Oh, really,” Sherlock said. His tone seemed to indicate he was in some kind of pain.

Several hours later, Greg put his pint on the table and stared at John over it. “So, what was wrong with him today?”

John sighed. He had sat beside Sherlock in the taxi and said nothing. He had made sure Rosie was asleep and then asked Sherlock three times whether the man planned to go somewhere tonight. Finally Sherlock had told him to sod off, in those exact words, which was probably the most worrying aspect of the whole day. He had called Greg and said I changed my mind, I’m definitely going to grab a beer with you. Yes, now.

“I don’t know,” he said, taking a sip out of his pint. “I have a guess, though. Kind of.”

“He snapped at you,” Greg said, lowering his voice. “So, problems at home?”

John swallowed. “Well, it’s just… you know…”

Greg blinked.

“We’re trying to,” John said and took a rather large gulp of his beer, “you know, figure something out.”

Greg frowned. “I thought you guys were already… together.”

“Yes,” John said and swallowed. “We are. I think we are. But. Greg. We’re trying to…”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Oh.

“Yes,” John said very pointedly.

“So, you have –“, Greg started and cleared his mouth, “problems with… that.

“Kind of,” John said. His hands felt quite sweaty and he wasn’t certain at all whether this was a good idea or a catastrophe. Greg looked like he didn’t remember how to drink his beer. John’s other option was, however, to go back to home and talk to Sherlock about this. He grabbed his pint quite firmly. “We don’t actually have a problem, we’re more like… still trying to get there.”

“There,” Greg repeated.

There,” John said and then took a sip of the beer, wondering if that had clarified it at all.

“John,” Greg said, looking very serious, “I wish I could… tell you something, to... help you. I know few people with whom I like drinking beer more than with you, so you are really… forget that. I mean that I’d like to help, but I don’t really know anything about –“

“No,” John said, “no, absolutely not. It’s not about techniques.”

“I thought you were talking about that,” Greg said, watching him over his beer.

“No,” John said, though actually he had been, “yes, kind of. But it’s not that we don’t know how to… fuck, this is too weird. I’m just… I’m afraid I really need to talk to someone, but…”

“I know,” Greg said with a grimace. “So, go on. You were saying that you know how to –“

“Yes. It’s not like either one of us has ever done it, but –“

“Really?”

John sighed. “Well. You know me, I was pretty sure women are my thing.”

“And they were.”

“Yes. It just seems that…”

“Sherlock is your thing now.”

“Yes.” John realised he was running out of beer. Shit. Luckily, they were sitting at the counter. Perhaps it had been a good idea to come here and talk to Greg, after all. Greg watched him carefully and drank his beer and made sympathetic noises. And the beer was great. And the bartender had just given him another. He should thank the man. “Thank you. Well, where was I?”

“Sherlock is your thing now,” Greg said helpfully.

“Yeah.” It had been a long day and Sherlock had been sulking all the way through it. If John felt that he had to talk about it with someone, surely no one could blame him. “I don’t know what’s going on, Greg. Sherlock and me, we are… we have been… well, you know.

“I actually don’t,” Greg said with a deep frown.

“Together,” John said. “Really together. In every way besides…”

Greg opened his mouth, closed it and then opened it again. “Sex.”

“Yes.” This was going to be a serious conversation. Very serious indeed. John should probably drink a bit more. “And kissing. And touching. And all that kind of stuff.”

“I get the general idea,” Greg said, leaning his elbows onto the table. “So, you said you haven’t done that.”

“Obviously.”

“Neither of you.”

“Obviously.”

“But Sherlock is,” Greg said and swallowed, “surely he’s gay.”

“He is,” John said. It was quite warm in here, wasn’t it?

“So he hasn’t,” Greg said and raised his eyebrows.

“What?”

“He hasn’t had sex.”

“Oh,” John said. “Oh. No. He told me. I was surprised. But he said that… he said...”

“John,” Greg said with a very kind voice. John thought about telling how much he appreciated that, you know, to have someone to, you know, trust. He hadn’t always been so good at keeping friends. In fact he had managed to misplace rather many. But Greg was there, in the pub, drinking beer with him and talking about Sherlock. Like a true friend. Really.

“He said,” he said, “that he only wanted to be with me. Something like… that.”

“Oh,” Greg said, “John.”

“I know.”

“That’s actually very sweet.”

“I know.”

“And frightening.”

“I know,” John said and grabbed his glass of beer with both hands, “and, you know, he googled it. He googled sex.”

“What?” Greg asked. “I don’t think I hear you too well. I thought you said Sherlock googled sex.”

“Yes,” John said, leaning forward. His elbows seemed to slide a bit on the table. “He found it. And porn. Of course porn. But it was for… research.”

“That’s so weird,” Greg said. He seemed to be looking somewhere over John’s shoulder. John turned his head, but no matter how he stared, he didn’t realise what Greg was looking at. “And a little bit… adorable. He googled sex for you.”

John sighed. “Yes. For me. That’s… That’s a bit more than a little bit adorable. But he wanted to…”

Greg’s eyes grew wider. “What?”

John cleared his throat. “He wanted me to tell him what I want. And I can’t. He said he would give me a list. I’d have to, hmmm, pick there what I want. But I can’t do it. I don’t know what I want. I just like him, Greg.”

“John,” Greg said. It seemed to be somehow a very sympathetic and kind statement.

“I like him,” John said. “I like him so much that my head’s spinning.”

“I think it’s the beer,” Greg said and glanced at his pint. He was wrong, though. John hadn’t had many. Only some time ago he had asked for his second beer. And then he had drunk it. And then he had drunk another. And he wasn’t quite sure when that had happened. “We are getting old, John.”

“I think I’m in love,” John said. He was stumbling with the words, because it wasn’t easy, talking about love, not after you had spent a decade living with the man and sharing everything with him, except occasional wank in the shower, of course.  “I think I have been in love with him for a long time. I was just so fucking scared, Greg.”

“I’m sure everything will be alright,” Greg said, patting him quite heavily on the shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll have… sex. Just pick one. One thing in his list.”

“Fucking list,” John said and sighed. “I like him, Greg.”

“I know,” Greg said.

“He’s probably in my bed,” John said, leaning a bit closer, “right now.

“Oh,” Greg said, “oh. John, we should go home.”

“Yeah,” John said. “Sherlock Holmes. In my fucking bed.

“Yeah. Can we walk?”

“In my bed, Greg.”

Greg grabbed his shoulder. In my bed, John thought and followed Greg to the street.


**


“John?”

He took off his sock. And then his trousers. Oh, fuck, the other sock was still… shit. He had almost fallen. Should be more careful. Should be quiet, too. It was past midnight, like… like one o’clock. He couldn’t open his zipper, though. His fingers kept slipping. Shit.

“John,” Sherlock said, sitting on his bed with a bare chest, like he had no shirt, not at all, and he was right there.John. You’re drunk.

He gave out a ‘hmmm’. Now his trousers were going down, finally. But not pants. Of course not pants. He couldn’t sleep with Sherlock with no pants, no, not sleep with, he wasn’t sleeping with Sherlock, though they had talked about it, hadn’t they? Sherlock had googled it. It was going to happen. John was going to, ummm, he was going to tuck Sherlock’s pants down one day, like he had, probably it had been yesterday, he wasn’t quite sure, but anyway he was going to place his hand -

“John. Get your ass here right now.”

John swallowed. “Oh my God.

“Shut up,” Sherlock said, watching him. Sherlock’s eyes were weirdly narrow. And blue. And very pretty. Was he allowed to say that? Sherlock was a man, a man, men’s eyes weren’t pretty, except when they were.

John leaned forward, only that he leaned a bit too much. Sherlock caught him, though.

“John,” Sherlock said and shook his shoulders, but it was gentle, all gentle, Sherlock was being kind to him and it was a lot to take, he was a simple man and quite frankly, he was also old. It was weird that Sherlock seemed to like him this much. Like he were something special. “John. John. You aren’t that drunk. You obviously had five beers. Quickly, yes, but still. Try to... try to sit.

“Oh,” John said. “You were angry. Before. You were angry at me.”

Sherlock swallowed. John watched Sherlock’s throat, and then he wanted to see it closer.

“No, I wasn’t, and, John,” Sherlock said, and surely John had always known that the man’s voice was fucking perfect, “you’re falling over me.”

“Yeah,” he said. “In love.”

“No. I didn’t mean that. John. For heaven’s sake –“

John got pushed into the mattress. He breathed in, and Sherlock was there, right next to him. It was like it should always have been. He had been stupid, so fucking stupid, for a decade and perhaps more, an idiot, a complete idiot, but now Sherlock was there, and he was caressing John’s neck and… and… checking his pulse.

“I’ll have a word with Greg,” Sherlock said in a low voice, “tomorrow.”

John tried to think about it, but he really couldn’t. By the way he was quite sleepy. And Sherlock’s hand was on his shoulder now. Lovely. Very warm. And all… that.

Chapter Text

John woke up alone. Shit. He stood up and got to the door before he realised that his head felt quite bad and there were voices coming from downstairs.

“He spent an hour with you,” Sherlock was saying, “and he didn’t know how to get his socks off when he came back.”

“Sherlock,” someone answered. John blinked. Greg, damn it. They had had a couple of beers last night, and they had talked about… oh, fuck. “He told me you two are trying to have sex.”

John rushed to the stairs. Rosie was nowhere to be seen, thank God, and then he realised it was Saturday and Molly had promised to take Rosie shopping. Surely Greg wouldn’t have mentioned sex if Rosie had been sitting on the sofa. John was quite sure Greg wouldn’t have. Quite.

“Greg,” Sherlock said, and John stopped, still behind the corner, and took a deep breath, “if you could please not mock me, I would be delighted.”

“I’m not mocking you, you idiot,” Greg said in a quiet voice. “I’m happy for you.”

“You’re happy because I am trying to have sex.”

“Oh, shut up,” Greg said. “You two finally being together is the best thing that’s happened to me this whole year. Just let me enjoy it.”

“It’s just me, Greg,” Sherlock said, his voice getting lower, and John closed his eyes. He wasn’t eavesdropping. He was just hanging around in the corridor. And eavesdropping. “Me trying to do something that I know nothing about. I’ve got no clue. And I can’t even find good articles.”

“You’ll be fine,” Greg said, “and, you know, together. Well, then. I came by to tell you that I need your report from last night, including what you did to that wall and why, and I need it this evening.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, “fine. Go now.”

“I’m so happy –”, Greg said, and then the door was closed. John wondered how quietly he could get back upstairs.

“John,” Sherlock said when he shifted his weight, “stop hovering there. Your presence is extremely loud.”

He sighed and then stepped over the corner. Sherlock was still facing the now-closed door in his dressing gown. He had no socks. John tried to straighten his back but his shoulders wouldn’t obey him and his head was hurting quite a bit.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to listen.”

Sherlock turned around, walked to the sofa and sat down. John cleared his throat. Perhaps he would have felt a bit better, had he been wearing, like, any clothes at all besides his pants. But Sherlock was sitting right there, chest rising and falling under a grey t-shirt, hands gripping knees and a tiny frown on his forehead, and John had a hunch that postponing what was going to be an awkward conversation anyway wouldn’t have been such a good idea.

“I’m sorry I was so wasted yesterday. I must have woken you up.”

“You were gone for an hour,” Sherlock said without looking at him. “I only went to bed because I was so utterly bored without you around. Obviously it’s all fine.”

“You were mad at me, though. Yesterday.”

Sherlock opened his mouth and then frowned. “Do we really have to talk things like this?”

John swallowed. “I rather think we do. Now. Now when we’re… something.”

“Something,” Sherlock repeated and met his gaze.

“A couple,” John said and coughed. Oh, God. “A couple. That’s what we are now.”

“John,” Sherlock said, “sit down.”

He did. He walked to Sherlock and sit down onto the sofa, right beside the man, and Sherlock wrapped the dressing gown more tightly around himself.

“You mean that,” Sherlock said.

“Of course I mean that.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“People will think you’re gay.”

“I don’t fucking care what they think.”

“Yes, you do.”

“Yes,” John sighed, “I do. But the hell with that. I’ll be awkward and I’ll live. Just don’t push me away.”

“I won’t be able to,” Sherlock said, “you’re very stubborn and also physically stronger than me.”

“And about that sex –“

John. I’m sorry I kept snapping at you. You turned down my list. I didn’t know how else to handle us.

“Sherlock. Sherlock. I have to talk about –“

“I panicked. I shouldn’t have said oh, really in front of Greg’s group.”

Sex, Sherlock. I want to. I really do. I’m nervous about it and I don’t know what exactly we are going to do, and when I think about touching you my pulse gets faster and it’s quite unnerving. I’m too old to be this nervous about sex. But I am. And I am serious about that.”

“John,” Sherlock said, swallowing, “for fifteen years you weren’t interested –“

“Okay,” he said, “okay. So. How the hell can I say it so that you believe me?”

Sherlock frowned at him. “You can’t.”

He froze. ”What?”

Sherlock stood up and watched him.  “Tell me once more.”

What?”

“John. Please, try to concentrate.”

John swallowed. “You’ll score me. You’ll score what I say.”

“No,” Sherlock said and sighed, “I’ll just file it for further examination. Please, go on.”

Sherlock. I’m not wearing any clothes.

“Not quite what I meant.”

John cleared his throat. He could do this. Probably. He could at least try. Who cared if he had nothing but pants on. He stood up, pushed his shoulders back and raised his chin just a little so that he could look Sherlock straight in the eyes.

“I want to be with you. I really do. And I mean it, and I’m not going to stop meaning it.”

He was holding his breath. Sherlock was eyeing him. His left knee hurt a bit and he wondered if he could still keep the rest of his dignity even if he leant against the armchair.

“Fine,” Sherlock said and turned around. “Now make me tea.”

John blinked.

Please. I’ve been up for hours.

“I thought we were having a conversation.”

“I have it filed. If you could be so kind and hurry a little, John. I’m thirsty.”

For fuck’s sake, he thought, but then again, the frown had gone off from Sherlock’s forehead. “I’ll just put some clothes on.”

“Don’t bother,” Sherlock said, sitting down onto his armchair. “I know how you look. I have that filed, too.”


**


John kept waiting for it. He wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but certainly it would happen and then he would know. He also realised he spent quite a lot of time wondering if Sherlock was still doing research on, hmmm, sex, or rather if Sherlock was still watching gay porn. For research. And what the hell was going on with that stuff anyway. Perhaps John ought to have checked it out, too. Just in case.

“John,” Sherlock said three days later, when John was watching him reading an article that could have been about anything, but for some reason John was sure it was about the sex they were going to be having. “John.

“Sorry,” he blinked. “What did you say again?”

“Your name,” Sherlock said, narrowing his eyes. “What are you thinking about? You seem distressed.”

“I’m not distressed,” he said, “not actually,” and then he glanced at Rosie who was sitting at the kitchen table, doing her homework. “Can we talk?”

“Yes.”

“About a particular topic. Now.”

Sherlock sighed and put John’s laptop aside. “Fine. Go ahead.”

“In my room,” he said in what was meant to be a casual but also firm tone.

“Oh, no,” Rosie said, not looking up from her homework, “if it’s about what happened in the graveyard, I didn’t know they’d take it like that. I was simply trying to show Alice how much you can deduce from a gravestone if you know what you’re doing. Which I do. That whole business was just unfair.

Sherlock,” John said, frowning at the man.

“John,” Sherlock said, “I’m rather proud of her.”

“She got kicked out of the graveyard because she was doing what you do?”

“Exactly,” Sherlock said and turned to smile at Rosie.” That’s my girl.”

“Yes,” John said and cleared his throat.” Well, Rosie, it seems that your father has this thing under control. I just wish he had told me. Getting kicked off the graveyard seems like… a big moment in a ten-year-old’s life.”

“It was pretty uncomfortable,” Rosie said. “So, it’s not about the graveyard then. What else could you talk about? I haven’t done anything, I swear.

“It’s not about you,” John said and a nervous knot reappeared into his stomach. Shit. He had already forgotten that he wanted Sherlock to climb up the stairs, perhaps sit onto his bed and then fold his hands and watch him, as he would tell the man he was thinking about sex all the time because they had been talking about it and then avoided doing it, and it was uncomfortable and irritating and it made him feel like he had been a bit younger than fifty. And that, frankly said, was weird. Because he was fifty years old. And he was going to have sex with the man who was, at this exact moment, staring at him rather focused. And he was nervous about it.

“Not about me?” Rosie asked, frowning.

“Your daddy has problems with his digestion, Rosie,” Sherlock said, eyes still on John. “That’s what he wants to talk about. We thought you didn’t want to know.”

“That’s gross,” Rosie said with wide eyes. “I don’t want to know. Oh my God. Just go already.”

“Fine. We will.”

Sherlock stood up. John stared at the man, please, problems with digestion? But it was too late anyway. His feet felt somehow numb but at least he wasn’t limping. Rosie was very pointedly not looking at them now, which was quite a relief, because John had a hunch he was probably  blushing. He bit his teeth together and followed Sherlock to his own bedroom, and there he looked as Sherlock shut the door and then stopped in front of him.

“So,” Sherlock said, “you clearly wanted to talk, because you’re uncomfortable with our current situation on the topic of sex.”

“Yes,” he said, nodding, he had to concentrate now. There was something he needed to say. They needed to talk. Sherlock had to realise that John was on board with this, really was, it wasn’t just him playing games or being lonely or having forgot what women looked like. And that John was happy to try anything Sherlock wanted, as long as it was legal and medically safe. And that they could do it today or tomorrow or next year and it wasn’t about that, he wasn’t restless because he had to wait, but he had been kind of wondering whether Sherlock was watching gay porn or not.

Sherlock frowned at him and he realised he hadn’t said a word. He took a deep breath. He would start with Sherlock, I have been thinking. He placed both of his sticky hands on Sherlock’s shoulders. Sherlock barely stood there, his back straight and his shoulders quite tense, and John raised on his toes and kissed the man.

Oh, he thought and grabbed Sherlock’s shoulders more firmly, mainly to gain his balance. Sherlock hold his arms and he wasn’t certain whether the man was trying to pull him closer or push away, but he couldn’t think about it now anyway, not when he was kissing Sherlock and Sherlock’s lips parted just a little against his and he was happy, and had he really thought he was going to ask Sherlock about gay porn?

“John,” Sherlock said, mouth still against his lips, and he kissed the corner of Sherlock’s mouth and wished he had been a few centimetres taller so that it had been easier, “John. You haven’t kissed me in four days. This is about sex.”

“Four days?” he asked.

“Not like this. You are worried about sex and this is your way of confronting the issue.”

“Yes,” he said, pushing his fingers into Sherlock’s hair. It almost cost him his balance. “I know. Do you have better ideas? Maybe we should just talk.”

Sherlock looked at him and he tried to step away, but Sherlock pulled him back and kissed him on the mouth. And it was good, it really was. Sherlock’s hands were now on his upper back and grabbing his arms and holding his neck and he wondered absently how it all was possible, but it was difficult to focus. And it was just kissing. He had been kissed before. Ten years ago, but still. Just kissing, but it was Sherlock and it was hard to breathe and Sherlock had just placed his hands on John’s cheeks and was now holding him like he had been the most precious thing in the whole world, which was insane and so, so very good.

“Sherlock,” he said, out of breath, and Sherlock hummed against his cheek, “your list. Your list on what kind of sex we could… have. I’ll do it. I’ll do those… estimations if you want to.”

“You don’t have to,” Sherlock said, running his thumbs on John’s chin, and how the hell Sherlock managed to form complete sentences now, that was beyond all reasoning. “It’s fine.”

“But if it… helps, if it makes… you happy…”

“You’re kissing me back,” Sherlock said and kissed him, and he might have moaned but fuck that, it was completely fine to get thoroughly kissed and moan at it on a Tuesday afternoon, “John.

“Obvious,” he said and felt Sherlock’s disapproval, “that’s so… obvious. Sherlock. Just…”

“It’s not,” Sherlock said sharply but kept kissing him. “I meant that it’s enough. You’re kissing me back. You really are.”

“I kissed you first, you idiot. And a few days ago I had my hand in your –“

“Yes,” Sherlock said, “quite enough of that one, already. I remember. It was good. Stop bringing it up when you’re trying to convince me.”

“I told you I’m serious,” he said, leaning against Sherlock’s shoulders because the height difference was just uncomfortable and Sherlock kept kissing him and he couldn’t think at all, “you filed it. Sherlock, I can’t do this.”

Sherlock froze. “What?”

“Standing. You’re too tall. My knee is hurting like hell. I have to sit down.”

“Oh,” Sherlock said, grabbed both of his arms and placed a wet kiss on his mouth, “fine, sit down, you old man. Let’s take you to bed.”

“I’m not…” he started, but Sherlock was pushing him towards the bed and there were connotations he didn’t know how to explore, and his heart was beating, and Sherlock would surely complain later because he was grabbing the man’s shirt quite firmly. There would be wrinkles. Fuck. There would be wrinkles, and Sherlock pushed him down onto his bed and then just stood there, watching him, as he tried to concentrate and catch his breath and all that. He was a mess, a fifty-year-old mess with grey hair.

“My hair is grey,” he said, biting at his lip.

“I know, John,” Sherlock said. “I have eyes. And yes, I filed that. I filed you telling me you are serious. That’s been on repeat for days. And I’m…”

John blinked his eyes. Sherlock swallowed.

“Still terrified.”

“That’s fine,” John said, “that’s completely fine. I’m too. But it’s us. That’s what Greg said, I… I think. It’s just you and me. Like always. In everything.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, utterly serious, utterly beautiful, standing right there in those expensive clothes John had been grabbing at a minute before, with that messy black hair in which John’s fingers had been, and John was sure the man had no clue how he looked right now. “But. Sex.

“It’s just for us,” he said, staring at Sherlock’s hips where the shirt had been rolled upwards and was now hanging loosely over the waistband of Sherlock’s trousers, and John was staring at Sherlock’s hips damn it, he really was, could he be a bit more obvious still? He blinked and kept staring. “The kissing was for Rosie. At first. Kind of. But this is for us and it’s fine, everything is fine.”

“Let me see you,” Sherlock said, his voice low and somewhat tense.

“What?”

“Let me,” Sherlock said and took a step aside, “see. You.”

“I’m right here,” he said.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and then – excuse me, John thought – licked his upper lip.

“Oh my God,” John said aloud.

“Shut up,” Sherlock said.

“Sherlock,” John said and cleared his throat, “I don’t really exercise much anymore. I try to, but you know, having a ten-year-old kid and a regular job and bearing with you is just... time-consuming. I’m not very… And you don’t eat at all, which is unhealthy and ridiculous and frankly speaking I’m quite worried, but it’s like you have zero fat in your body, and you might not realise that the rest of us –“

“John,” Sherlock said and took a step closer. John grabbed sheets with both hands and swallowed a few times. “You’re babbling. And as usual, you aren’t making any sense. This is definitely not about exercise.

“Have you been watching gay porn?” John asked. Oh God. That had been a mistake.

Sherlock’s eyes had gone wide. “Excuse me?”

“It’s just,” John said, shit, shitty shit, “porn is sometimes very different from reality, like, you know, it’s not real what they do in there, or it might be, but it’s like a… a very weird version of reality, a very narrow view or something like that, so I can tell you that I’m not going to be anything like those guys, especially not when it comes to –“

“John,” Sherlock said with sharp voice, “I haven’t been watching gay porn. Or I have, a few times in the past, especially in my thirties, it seemed that everyone was always talking about porn and I just wanted to know if it worked on me, and last week when I tried to find good references, but for heaven’s sake I know porn isn’t real. I’m not fourteen. And this is not about the size of your cock.

John swallowed. “Fine.”

Sherlock glared at him. “Fine.

“You want to see me, though.”

Yes,” Sherlock said and then placed both of his hands on his hips and drew a few deep breaths. John watched as the man’s chest rose and fell, and then he placed his own hands on his zipper.

As he pulled the zipper down, Sherlock turned to look at him so fast he thought the man was going to stumble and fall onto the floor.

“John.”

“Yes,” he said. His hands were shaking as he pulled his trousers down. “Fine.”

“I shouldn’t have asked that. It was a weird thing to ask. It was a… I don’t know anything about this, John. I have nothing to go on and it’s driving me insane.”

“Sometime ago,” John said and took off his jumper, “I asked you to kiss me because I had lied to our daughter and wanted you to cover for me. That was a weird thing to ask. This is… also a bit weird. But fine.”

John placed his fingers under the waistband of his pants. His hands were shaking a little. He kept staring at them, at his own lap, because the other thing to stare at was Sherlock and he was definitely not going to watch Sherlock’s face as he slowly pulled off his pants. He heard Sherlock breathing. He felt his own heartbeat in his fingertips. He swallowed but it didn’t help at all, and his pants were now lying on the floor and he was naked and terrified about it, and he was a fucking doctor for heaven’s sake.

“Anyway,” he said, his voice coming out a pitch higher than it should have been, “it’s not like you haven’t seen me before.”

“John,” Sherlock said, “John.

“Yes,” he said, “me. All of me.”

“I asked. And you did that.

“I took off my clothes because you asked me to,” he said, “yes.”

“But I’m fully clothed. And you’re sitting there…”

“Naked,” he said and placed both of his palms firmly on his knees, “yes, I’m aware. I’m also a bit embarrassed, so if you could avoid bringing that up, that would be nice.”

“Oh, John,” Sherlock said, “please lie down onto the bed.”

He blinked. “What?”

“On your back. Please.

“Sherlock.”

“If you want to.”

“Will you just stand there?” John asked and then realised he was already placing his elbows on the mattress, definitely trying to lie down. Damn it, he was going to do everything Sherlock asked him to. Everything. No matter if it was about chasing criminals or, hmmm, this, whatever this was. “As I lie down, will you stand there and keep frowning at me? Because that’s a bit…”

“No,” Sherlock said, eyeing his chest and his arms and his hips and that was quite a lot, really, and if he wasn’t already hard he was definitely getting there. Perhaps it was good that this was so weird, it should slow him down a little. “I will sit down onto the bed next to you. And I will touch you, if you like.”

“Oh,” he said and bit at his lip.

Oh?” Sherlock frowned.

“Oh, yes.

“Ah,” Sherlock said, and John lay down, and the mattress shifted as Sherlock sat down next to him. He wondered absently why the hell they hadn’t done this at night, when it was dark and it wouldn’t have been so obvious that he was getting old with his soft belly and his -

“Stop that,” Sherlock said. “I’m not giving you scores. I just want to see.

“Well,” John said .”Isn’t that… isn’t that…”

“I’ve had this uncomfortably deep emotion pull towards you for more than fifteen years, John. Just give me some credit here.”

That was a bit too much. John closed his eyes, and then he drew them open again because there was a palm on his chest.

“I’ve done this before,” Sherlock said, watching his own palm that was now moving slowly towards John’s left shoulder, “had a hand on your chest. You don’t have to look so shocked. You’re making me nervous.”

John bit down a piece of laughter. “Please. I’m the one who’s nervous here.”

“Obviously,” Sherlock said, taking his pulse. “That’s fine. So, can I… would you mind if I…”

“Yes,” John said, very much trying to breathe, “you can.”

“You don’t know what I was going to ask.”

“Yes, I do.”

“I was going to ask whether I can take your…”

John swallowed.

Cock into my hand,” Sherlock finished, now watching his face, and he was seriously short of breath and had to lick his lips and surely Sherlock could see the answer in his face. “Can I?”

“Yes,” he said, “you fucking can, just do it already. I haven’t had a wank since we –“

“I know.”

John breathed in and out. Sherlock’s hand was getting lower. “You’re keeping a record of my wanking.”

“I don’t have to. My system saves that information automatically. Can’t be deleted, either. I think it has something to do with my obvious interest in your…” long fingers wrapped around John and he closed his eyes, and Sherlock kept talking, the low, incredible voice he had been listening for over a decade, and yet he hadn’t known, he hadn’t realised, “…sexual habits. So, I’m not filing that for a purpose. It just gets stuck with me. I had to build a room for it. To my mind palace.”

“You have a room,” John said, breathing through his nose as Sherlock’s fingers slowly, very slowly moved on him, and it was insane, Sherlock was holding his… his… “a room for me… me wanking.

“Emotions are deeply distracting,” Sherlock said, “I’ve been telling you. Is this okay? Do you find this enjoyable?”

“Yes,” he said, “but I want to… I want to… something of you. I want to touch you.”

Sherlock frowned. “At the same time?”

“Yes,” he said, ”no, anything. Give me your fucking hand, Sherlock. Let me hold your hand. Your other hand.”

“I’d actually prefer hair,” Sherlock said, and John took a sharp breath that actually sounded a lot like a mouse wincing, because oh my God Sherlock’s thumb had just -

“Can’t reach,” he said, focus, Watson, focus now, “can’t reach to touch your… hair…”

Sherlock lay down next to him. There was a shoulder pushing against his, and the slight smell of deodorant and perhaps, just perhaps a hint of skin, of how Sherlock actually smelled, and John would know, he really would, he would push his nose onto Sherlock’s neck and hold the man and kiss him and inhale him and fucking keep him there, and that would be, yes, that would be what the rest of his life was going to be like, he and Sherlock, Sherlock and him. He pushed his fingers into Sherlock’s hair, drew small circles on Sherlock’s skull, and Sherlock’s fingers moved faster and it was impossible to breathe, just impossible, he was fucking fifty years old and this was a hand job and, oh damn it it was Sherlock Holmes who had his hand on John, oh, that had never been supposed to happen but now it was happening and he was fucking happy, this was everything, he was going to tell Sherlock he loved him, for real this time, not hidden in some stupid sentence about some stupid other thing that didn’t matter at all, all that mattered was that Sherlock was now kissing his wrist, his wrist, and the kiss was wet and clumsy and lingering and Sherlock’s fingers were so clever and John was going to -

He breathed in and out and closed his eyes.

Sherlock kissed the wrist of the hand that was still tangled in the messy black hair.

“This is sex,” John said and bit at his lips, surely that wasn’t what he had been meaning to say, but his heart was beating inside his head and he had just come to Sherlock Holmes’ hand and it was insane, “Sherlock, Sherlock, this is sex. We are doing it and it’s going… it’s going splendidly.

“I need to wash my hand,” Sherlock said and run his fingers on John’s hips.

“Just use the sheets,” John said. “I have come on my thighs and my stomach and there’s a kid downstairs doing history homework and that’s a problem, Sherlock, not your hands.

“You can borrow my dressing gown. If you wash it afterwards.”

“I always wash your clothes. And I’m not going to borrow your dressing gown. I’ll never get pass Rosie dressed in your fucking gown.”

John.

“Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to insult your gown. Sherlock.

“Yes?”

“Kiss me. On my mouth.”

“My hand’s sticky.”

“Fuck your hand. Just do it.”

Sherlock leaned in and kissed him. He placed his hands on the man’s shoulders and tried not to pull him closer, because well, Sherlock would have probably fallen over him and he was quite sure the only washing those fancy trousers were up was dry cleaning.
 
“You,” he said, “get off your clothes. I’m doing the same to you.”

“John,” Sherlock said, “our kid is downstairs. We can’t just have sex in here.”

John laughed and then he helped Sherlock to open those buttons.


**


Rosie put her book aside and leaned her elbows on the kitchen table, which was usually a very bad sign. John took a deep breath. There was no reason to worry. He had countless arguments against getting a pony and besides, he and Sherlock were already having sex. Kind of. It definitely counted. There was nothing more Li Thompson and Rosie could demand of them. Not that they would have ever heard of sex, of course.

“Alice wore lipstick today,” Rosie said with a firm voice of someone who’s preparing for a battle. “I need to buy a lipstick.”

“Absolutely not,” John said, “you’re too young for lipstick.”

“I’ll shop with you,” Sherlock said.

John raised his glance from the Youtube video with two dogs trying to break a cardboard box. “Really?”

“Please learn to pick your fights, John,” Sherlock said and then mouthed, in a few years she’ll be wanting to smoke pot. “Besides, I hear that Alice wore lipstick today.”

“The hell with Alice,” John said and then froze.

Both Sherlock and Rosie stared at him with wide eyes and mouths half-open.

Daddy,” Rosie said with a clear disapproval, exactly at the same time when Sherlock said, “John.”

“Sorry, sorry,” he said and took a quick sip of his tea. “It slipped. I had a long day at work, a lot of flu patients. Frustrating.”

“That’s not an excuse,” Rosie said, narrowing her eyes.

“Fine. You can go shopping for lipstick,” John said. He had already lost anyway. “With Sherlock. Who knows nothing about them.”

“I know plenty,” Sherlock said, “I did research on the subject once. For the case. And it was certainly interesting. Did you know that the chemistry of a lipstick –“

“Fine,” John said, “fine,” and then he went back to the dogs that were destroying things and being very cute doing it. Like Rosie a few years ago. He tried to hide his smile behind his cup of tea. This felt normal. Sure, they were kissing and… stuff, but still they could argue over Rosie getting her lipstick. They could still snap at each other. They could still desperately try to be good parents for that brilliant little girl.

It was all going to be fine.

And then Sherlock’s phone rang.

“But why now?” Rosie asked two hours later, when they were sitting in the train. “Is it her birthday? She never invites us just to visit.”

Actually, she invited them to visit all the time, but there was no reason to tell that little girl that his father had some problems with his own mother and regularly postponed the promised visits. Sadly, John couldn’t blame Sherlock, since he hadn’t visited his mother, either, though he firmly thought Sherlock’s mother was, in fact, a very nice and only a little intimidating woman and Sherlock was being a bit childish about those visits.

Sherlock’s mother was definitely the sane one in the family. Perhaps that was the reason why Sherlock felt so uncomfortable visiting  her.

“She has just missed us,” Sherlock said through his teeth.

Rosie frowned. “Us? Like, she has missed the two of you? You’re the two  most boring persons in the whole world.”

“I don’t think that’s how she sees it,” Sherlock said.

Rosie sighed deeply. John sighed, too, and then bit at his lip. Sherlock threw a glance at him. Us, Sherlock mouthed. John grabbed the armrests a bit tighter. Yes, he answered. The question, though, was why Sherlock had this time agreed to go.

She threatened to send Mycroft, Sherlock certainly mouthed then, because what John first thought he picked up from the man’s mouth was quite inappropriate and really not Sherlock’s style.

“Can you stop doing that?” Rosie said in a very bored tone. “It’s irritating.

Sherlock shrugged. John swallowed a few times and tried to tell himself that this wasn’t at all about him meeting his mother-in-law. The whole idea was absurd. The thought of that hadn’t occurred into anyone’s mind.

Twenty minutes later he stood still when Sherlock’s mother hugged him quite tight.

“Oh, John,” Mrs. Holmes said, “it’s so good to see you.”

“Thank you,” he said and bit his lip.

Mrs. Holmes patted him on the shoulder and then backed away to hug Rosie, who looked only slightly uncomfortable. The kid was doing better than John in that area, and way much better than Sherlock, who was standing a few steps back, apparently faking deep interest on the sky.

“I’m so happy,” Mrs. Holmes said when she finally seemed to get near enough to shake Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock squirmed.

This is not going to end well, John thought and followed them inside the house. On the threshold he took a deep breath. He was going to need it.


**


“I didn’t know you were coming,” Sherlock said, narrowing his eyes at Mycroft.

“I was invited,” Mycroft said in a tone that was clearly designed to show deep disapproval, but John was uncertain whether Mycroft disapproved of Sherlock asking or perhaps getting invited in the first place. Or John’s choice of clothing. That was actually a rather solid guess. He should have asked Sherlock about that jumper, but he had been busy thinking oh my God I’m going to meet my mother-in-law.

“So, how is life?” Mycroft asked, and it sounded like he disapproved of life. “I heard of your new sleeping arrangements.”

“Yes,” Mrs. Holmes said from the kitchen where she was making tea, thank God for that, “we were so very happy to hear.”

“Any new device you have spying on us then, Mycroft?” Sherlock asked, smiling pleasantly.

“I merely happened to meet inspector Lestrade,” Mycroft answered, “in circumstances I’d rather not further illustrate, but obviously it was about matters of national importance. He told me. He was rather happy about it, I’d say, since he tried so very much to hold his tongue and failed. Naturally.”

“Mycroft is happy, too,” Mrs. Holmes said, placing cups of tea on the table. John grabbed one with both hands and burnt his palms. “Tell your brother you’re happy for him, Mycroft.”

“Mommy,” Mycroft said with a deep sigh, “that’s not really –“

Mycroft.

“I’m happy for you,” Mycroft said, smiling, and John felt very uncomfortable. “You too, John.”

“Well. Thank you.”

“Well,” Sherlock said, “thank you, Mycroft. That’s so nice of you.”

“Boys,” Mrs. Holmes said, sitting down in between of the two men who were now openly glaring each other, “that’s so immature. After all you’ve gone through together. Rosie, dear, how are you?”

“Fine,” Rosie said, not looking up from what was another novel John hadn’t read and wasn’t going to.

“Rosie,” John said, “put that book away. We are having a tea.”

“Oh, let the girl read,” Mrs. Holmes said, “that’s what's going to give her ideas. You two have a marvellous kid.”

“Yes,” John said. If only he had managed to keep his mouth full of tea all the time, then he wouldn’t have had to speak.

“We do,” Sherlock said, “which is certainly interesting, since she has got half of her genes from John and zero of them from me. She’s a strong evidence in a nature-nurture debate.

 “Oh, Sherlock, come on,” Sherlock’s mother said and patted John on the shoulder. John put his shoulders back and tried to be brave. “You must not mock your… what should I call you two, then? Is boyfriends appropriate?”

Rosie looked up from her book. John cleared his throat. “A partner. You can call me his… partner. But surely you remember, Mrs. Holmes –“

“Please, call me Mommy,” Mrs. Holmes said with a broad smile.

“ –that we have been together for years,” John said. He had to go on. He had to. Rosie was watching him. All of them were, and his knees were shaking under the table. “This is nothing new. We just didn’t use to kiss so often before. In public, I mean.”

“And now you do?” Mrs. Holmes said. “Oh, please do, I want a photograph.”

God, no, John thought, but luckily his lips refused moving.

“Mommy,” Sherlock said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. John is shy.”

“But surely there’s no reason for shyness, it’s just family,” Mrs. Holmes said. “No one will tease you about it. Except Mycroft, of course. But when he does, just call me and I’ll take care of it.”

Mommy,” Mycroft said in a voice that suggested he was in deep agony, “please –

“Hush now,” Mrs. Holmes said, “I’ll get the camera. And make sure that it’s a proper kiss, not some peek on a cheek kind of thing.”

I’m sorry, John mouthed at Sherlock. It wasn’t your fault, Sherlock said with a roll of his eyes, probably, unless it was a you always mess things up, you averagely clever thing. At least Rosie was staring at her book again. He had gone pretty far in order to make her daughter believe her fathers had been together all along. He wasn’t going to spoil it to spare them one photograph, not even if that photograph was going to end up as a poster above the fireplace or whatever it was that Mrs. Holmes planned to do with it.

“Now,” Mrs. Holmes said and they both stood up, “look happy. And don’t stand in front of the window, the light goes all wrong.”

“Fine,” Sherlock said and grabbed John’s wrist. John felt his whole arm tingling.

“Yes, that’s a good spot,” Mrs. Holmes said as John and Sherlock said on the doorway, facing awkwardly each other. “Kiss now, please.”

“Yes,” Mycroft said in a slightly interested tone, “kiss now, please.

Rosie looked like she had forgotten any of them existed.

John tried to move his hands and failed. Help me, he thought and stared at Sherlock.

Sherlock looked somehow tired but cupped his chin anyway and then leaned forward to kiss him.

“Perfect,” Sherlock’s mother was saying, but her voice was somewhere distant now, and Sherlock was holding John’s face, and it was tender and sweet and everything he could have never guessed, and it was rather difficult to think about the camera when his lips had dropped open and Sherlock’s tongue slightly touched his lower lip.

“Gentlemen,” Mycroft said with a sharp voice, “your daughter is ten years old.

“She has seen worse,” Sherlock said and placed his hands on John’s neck.

“This is going to become such a good Christmas card,” Mrs. Holmes said.

John broke into cough and Sherlock gently pushed him away but kept his left hand on his shoulder. The man looked rather smug. Mrs. Holmes was watching the photographs in the camera screen with a widening smile and Mycroft was very pointedly staring at his own hands. Rosie, of course, was reading.

“So, that’s done,” Sherlock said, and John was rather certain there was a quick caress on his neck when Sherlock pulled his hand back. “Can we get to the other topics now? Like, the state of the nation?”

“I’m so happy you found John, dear,” Mrs. Holmes said, “you were so lost without him.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said and took a sip of his tea, “I was.”


**


“Sherlock,” he said, just to try it out if his voice was still working. It wasn’t. Sherlock bent forward to kiss his bare knee and he took a few sharp breaths and closed his eyes.

He was lying on his back and Sherlock was right there, and by that he meant that Sherlock was sitting pretty much in between his legs, which was absurd and also more than a little arousing. He had no pants left and Sherlock had his palms on his knees, thumbs caressing his skin, his hairy and scarred and quite dry skin, and he tried to make sense of it and failed.

“John,” Sherlock said, “are you okay? You’re making those noses again.”

“Yes,” he hissed between his teeth, “yes, just come here and kiss me.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “That’s a bit challenging. Your knees –“

“Hell with my knees,” he said and lay his thighs down, which in this case meant Sherlock’s lap. Sherlock climbed over them anyway and placed both of his hands in the sides of John’s head and then bent down to kiss him, and he kissed back, grabbing the man’s shoulders.

Frankly speaking, John wasn’t certain how he had got here. He had woken up far too early, when Sherlock had had his large palms on his sides and had been muttering something into his ear. It had sounded quite a lot like John, I bought condoms. He had blinked his eyes and demanded an explanation with a carefully articulated what the hell, Sherlock, to which Sherlock had said and lube. At that point John had had a rather good idea of what they were talking about.

It had taken a lot of kissing, of course, and a slightly uncomfortable conversation which had quite soon diminished into you first and oh no, you first and please, you go first, and no, really, you go first. In between they had kissed some more and John had begun to wonder if there was going to be any going today at all. But now it seemed that there were, as he was lying here and Sherlock was kissing his neck and chest and stomach, and then Sherlock ran his fingers down the same route and wrapped them around John.

“Good boy,” Sherlock said onto John’s stomach as John failed to bit back the moan.

It had to be at least fifteen minutes since he had got tired of infinite kissing and you first. He had taken a rather firm grip on Sherlock’s shoulders and said very clearly but not loudly, because their kid was sleeping downstairs, just fuck me, damn it.

Now he kept his eyes closed and fisted his fingers loosely into Sherlock’s hair. Back then Sherlock had opened his mouth, staring at him, and he had waited for another you go first but there hadn’t been one. John, Sherlock had said and ran his thumbs on John’s cheeks, and it had been kind of scary, to sit there and be looked at like you were the most precious thing. Really? Sherlock had said, and John had kissed that idiot, short of breath, short of thought too, yes, yes, I mean it. You know I mean it.

Yeah,
Sherlock had said.

“Yeah,” John said now, as Sherlock placed his palms on John’s knees and pulled them carefully apart, oh, oh fuck, Sherlock’s fingers were running on the inside of his thighs and his heart was drumming and the sounds of traffic from the street were growing louder and Sherlock Holmes was sitting in between of John’s knees, and he was going to… he was going to…

“It’s probably quite tight,” Sherlock said, “even with lube. Might be uncomfortable at first.”

“I know,” John gritted through his teeth, “I know, just do it, put that finger into my –“

Sherlock watched him with wide eyes and he bit back the rest of it, because oh fuck fuck fuck Sherlock’s finger was caressing him and it was weird and he closed his eyes but shit, he couldn’t keep them closed, he had to see Sherlock because the man’s face was so… was so concentrated, and he was concentrated on John, completely, and that was so weird and so good and -

“John? John? That hurt you, I know it did, you’re in pain. Do you want me to stop?”

“No,” he said, trying to catch his breath again. “Just give me a moment.”

“This whole business seems quite difficult,” Sherlock said.

John breathed out. If he had had more air in his lungs, he might have laughed. “It’s going to be fine. There’s no rush, except that we have to wake our kid up at seven so that she can go to school.”

“That’s why I woke you up so early,” Sherlock said, more than slightly distracted. “John, you aren’t so tense anymore. Can I –“

“Yes,” he said, “keep going.”

So, he thought absently as Sherlock kept his other hand on his thigh and the other was slowly, so very slowly getting him to believe this was going to happen, this is going to happen. John Watson, you’re going to get fucked. He’s going to fuck you. And he’s going to kiss you afterwards and you’re going to make him tea and both of you are going to see that your kid gets to school and he’s probably going to make subtle jokes about you walking funny for days.

He felt warm and happy and also quite shaky, but that was because Sherlock was using two fingers now.

“I’m not going to fit there,” Sherlock said in some point of all that.

John pushed his head against the pillow and tried to breathe, breathe, just breathe, “yes, you will.”

“You don’t sound convinced.”

“Of course I’m not convinced,” he said and tried to grab Sherlock’s wrist but it was too far away and he was too thoroughly preoccupied. Luckily Sherlock helped him and placed his free hand on John’s chest, so that he could wrap his fingers around the large palm. “You’re going to have your, sorry, cock in my ass. I have never done that. It’s certainly possible it’s not going to work at the first try. We’ll try again.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said. “John, I’m nervous.”

“Yes, me too. Don’t worry. I’m going to make you tea afterwards.”

“I know you will,” Sherlock said. “I think you could take three now.”

Oh, he thought and nodded, and Sherlock’s palm was firm on his chest, and his knees were pressing against Sherlock’s sides, and he heard the man breathing and saw the slightly narrowing eyes and frowning forehead, and he was gone, he was so gone for this man, they were going to grow old together, like really old, Sherlock’s hair had to get grey in some point, and eventually they would change into chasing a bit slower criminals, bicycle thieves perhaps, and they’d always come back here at Baker Street and drink tea and Sherlock would borrow his laptop without asking and he would hide vitamin pills into Sherlock’s food, and Rosie would grow up and visit them and they’d be so incredibly proud because Rosie would always be the best kid in the whole world, even when she was going to be forty or something, and they would stay at Baker Street until they were too old to make their own tea, but all that was still decades away and they would be so happy -

“Surely you know,” John said, his eyes closed, “that I love you terribly.”

“Now is not the right time, John,” Sherlock said, “I’m trying to… excuse me?”

“I love you,” he said and Sherlock’s fingers froze, “I really do, in every way there is.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said and squeezed his hand. “I know.”

“Good,” he said, “good.”

“John,” Sherlock said, and the fingers were gone, and John was just lying there, “we need a pillow under your bottom.”

My bottom, he thought and wanted to laugh, but Sherlock had his palms on his cheeks now and then there was a pillow and he crooked his neck to see. Sherlock had straightened his back and was watching him with those clever, clever eyes, and he was a mess, John Watson was a happy mess.

“Just go slowly,” he said.

“Yes,” Sherlock said and swallowed many times. “Of course.”

Perhaps John should have known how it would feel. He was a doctor, after all. He could name everything that was down there. But nothing of it meant anything, not when Sherlock was drawing deep breaths and trying to find a better posture and apparently trying not to come right away, and he lay down and placed his fingers into Sherlock’s hair that was, like, barely reachable in this position but he managed it. And it was so slow and then it wasn’t and he tried to touch himself but Sherlock pushed his hands aside, he had had absolutely no idea that Sherlock’s moans could be so low, and the fingers caressing him were a bit clumsy but it was very understandable, considering, and anyway he doubted he could come from this, it was too weird, but then Sherlock shifted and oh. Oh.

“John,” Sherlock said, watching him, “you are… definitely… you are… everything… and I think I… John, I’m… I’m going to…”

Yes, he thought, and Sherlock pressed his eyes tightly shut and groaned.

In a few seconds John was kissing the man on the forehead and then on the mouth. Sherlock breathed in and out, lying down next to him, limbs loose and eyes half-closed, and John carefully pushed Sherlock’s loosened fingers aside and replaced them with his own fist. Sherlock protested but there was nothing to be done about it, John placed his other hand on Sherlock’s shoulder and watched those eyes that were now a bit unfocused, and it was because of him, Sherlock had been inside of him and that was why the man was now lying beside him, utterly out of breath, chest rising and falling rapidly, heart beating so that John could actually see it, and then he came, too.


**

“So,” he said as he put the kettle on.

“John,” Sherlock said from the living room where he was sitting on the sofa and reading something John wanted to know nothing about, “you’re going to panic. Don’t.”

“I’m not going to panic,” he said, panicking a little. “I just want to… talk. Or I don’t. But I think I have to.”

“You’re processing. Just take your tea and come here.”

“It’s not ready yet.”

“Fine.”

“What now?” John asked after something like two minutes, when he was sitting beside Sherlock and Sherlock was furiously frowning at the article.

“Now,” Sherlock said, “where’s my tea?”

John blinked.

Sherlock smiled at him over the paper.

Oh,” he said.

“Yes,” Sherlock said and took a sip of John’s tea, “we’re going to be fine.”

“Yes,” he said. “You can very well get your own tea.”

“Later. Now, if you could kindly sit a little bit closer, please.”

“So that you can hold my hand as you read.”

“So that I can hold your hand as I read.”

John swallowed but shifted anyway.


**


“Daddy,” Rosie said, “Grace is going to Scotland with her parents and they said I can come along.”

“You aren’t going to go to Scotland with Grace,” John said without looking up from the newspaper, “and who’s this Grace anyway?”

“My best friend.”

Hmmm, John answered and turned the page. Sherlock was sitting on his own armchair, staring at the files Greg had brought them yesterday. Rosie turned around and started walking to her own room. There was something, though, something John had now missed.

“Rosie,” he said and slowly put the newspaper aside, “how long have you and Grace been best friends?”

“Like forever,” Rosie said, “at least five months.

John swallowed. Sherlock was now watching him. His pulse was fastening. “I thought Li Thompson was your best friend.”

Daddy,” Rosie said, clearly hinting that John was the most dumb person in the whole universe, “there’s no Li Thompson. She doesn’t exist.

John frowned.

Sherlock dropped his gaze onto the files.

Rosie walked to her own room and closed the door.

Fine, John thought and went back to reading the newspaper.