A/N: My first Sherlock fic. This is based on the BBC series.
Gen and/or Asexual!Sherlock/Straight!John. Platonic romance.
WARNING: Features illegal drug use.
[Set some time after Season 1.]
The Sensual Ace
John comes home one night from a date and finds Sherlock in the living room, sitting on the couch in his robe and snorting cocaine off the coffee table. He sees one line left as he approaches, an unexpected sensation of alarm shooting through him. He drops his coat on the chair he passes by without even thinking.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Sherlock looks at him with those startling blue eyes as he takes deep breaths, chest heaving in and out, feeling the rush in his brain.
"Isn't it obvious?"
"Since when are you a bloody drug user?"
"Since long before we met. Does it surprise you? I would think I seem the type."
John looks from the line to Sherlock, his worry quickly giving way to anger, his expression still one of disbelief. How he's managed to live with Sherlock for six months without noticing this before is beyond him but right now, all he cares about is putting a stop to it.
"Let me know if you want any, I have more than enough to spare," Sherlock says, as he bends down to snort again. John watches him do it, speechless and unable to move. Sherlock rises up from the table and falls backwards against the sofa, sagging into it, his arms spread out around him and his eyes shut with the first spark of chemical bliss that comes immediately after a line. He breathes it in, noticing his quickened heart rate, and basks in the too short moments of the high's early climax.
"I don't want any of your bloody cocaine!" John says, raising his voice, anger building by the minute. He's not sure why he feels so strongly about this; he wouldn't have expected it of himself. But the sight of Sherlock sitting there, happier than John's ever seen him besides the moment he solves a case, damn near euphoric for God's sake, bothers John more than anything else has in recent memory. If Sherlock's had this habit for years without developing a real addiction, he won't necessarily develop one in the future, so that's not exactly what has John so outraged. Then again, maybe Sherlock IS an addict and just happens to know how to hide it well; if anyone could, it would be him. But no, John thinks, it probably would have come up earlier than this in their cohabitation if it was a real problem; he hasn't noticed any symptoms of major addiction so far. He's also aware that recreational cocaine use does happen, that it is possible to use the drug habitually without becoming addicted per se, but the line between habit and addiction is a damn thin one.
Sherlock has been watching him intently for the last few moments.
"I don't think I've ever seen you think this hard before," he says.
John stalks out of the room and into the kitchen, being unnecessarily loud as he retrieves a mug from the cupboard and fills the tea pot with water and sets it on the stove. Sherlock listens to him bang around and quickly gets up from the sofa to perch in the doorway between kitchen and living room.
"Why are you upset?" He genuinely does not know. Which pisses John off further.
"Why am I upset? Oh, I don't know, Sherlock, do you think it's because I've just come home to find my flatmate doing a hard drug in our bloody living room? Do people normally react to that with nonchalance?"
"You never mentioned you had a problem with this sort of thing," Sherlock says, staring earnestly at him.
"I shouldn't have to mention it! Normal people don't do it!"
"Oh, sod off. Even you know that's completely false. A number of people who you would classify as "normal" use some form of narcotics to varying degrees, even developing addictions, although whether they are well-adjusted people is another matter. Furthermore, I think it's become clear to you by now that I am not exactly the most typical person you've ever met anyway. And if you don't mind my saying so, I don't think your reaction is really about lack of courtesy on my part."
"Of course, you're right, why should I expect a thing like courtesy from you? I know better than that."
Sherlock feels an unfamiliar sting when he hears the harshness in John's tone, what he theorizes is a mix of guilt and hurt feelings.
"If you don't want me keeping drugs in the flat, all you have to do is say so. I can make other arrangements."
"I don't want you doing them at all!" John yells. They can hear the water in the tea pot begin to boil, and they stare at each other silently. Sherlock knows that if he and John were nothing more than flatmates, this would be a simple matter of telling him to move out or Sherlock moving out himself. But the fact that John has even voiced this objection to Sherlock's activity signifies his sense of entitlement to have an opinion about the way Sherlock lives, an entitlement he could only feel as a result of their being more than flatmates. It isn't entirely new information to Sherlock; he got the feeling fairly on that they were forming a more personal relationship, although not until now has he felt completely secure of John's position on the matter. Now that he has this evidence, Sherlock feels a strange sense of comfort; the drugs wouldn't bother John so much if he didn't care about him.
"What would you have me do?" he says, crossing his arms.
"Stop," says John.
"Why would I stop doing something I like?"
"Because I bloody want you to. And because it's a self-destructive behavior, not to mention a waste of money."
"Everyone engages in self-destructive behavior, whether it's illegal or not. And I've experienced no financial strain because of the habit in all the years I've been practicing it. I assure you I have full control over my use; I'm sure you're familiar enough with this sort of thing to know I'm not addicted."
"Your risk of becoming addicted is significantly, obviously higher than if you weren't using at all."
"Can't argue with that. But on the other hand, I think that's entirely irrelevant. If using does not interfere with my work-"
"Is that the only thing you ever care about, your bloody work? What about your own health, for God's sake?"
What about me?
"You're being melodramatic, John."
By now, the tea pot is whistling loudly, and John moves it from the heat and shuts off the stove. He sits down at the table and pours the water into his mug, suddenly subdued. Sherlock watches him, trying to detect what it is he's thinking or feeling. John drops the tea bag into his mug and sits still with his arms up on the table, body tense as the water turns dark. Sherlock moves from the doorway and sits down next to him, looking into his face.
"It makes me feel better," he says. "And it's a nice distraction when I'm bored, like today for example."
"What do you mean, it makes you feel better?" John says. He can tell that there's a reason apart from the obvious. He speaks in a quiet tone, letting his anger fall away for the moment in the hopes Sherlock will open up to him.
Sherlock looks away from him, down at the table top. He props up his elbows and touches his hands together at the fingertips, a gesture he often makes when he's thinking. John watches him, the steam rising from his tea, and all the while, Sherlock does not make eye contact. The apartment is quiet but not uncomfortably so. Sherlock lowers his arms onto the table and looks at John carefully.
"It-helps to soothe a need I have," he says.
"A need for what?"
Sherlock says nothing at first, staring at him, eyes so clear and blue. John waits, not pushing him.
"If it's all the same to you, I would rather not get into it, John. I've practiced, for many years, coming to terms with this annoying, unsatisfied need of mine and the more I think about it, the more it becomes exacerbated. And I've just had a really good time with the powder back there and I really don't want to ruin it so abruptly-"
"Sherlock, what the bloody hell do you need?"
He stops, sees John's persistent face, and looks away at the wall to his right. It isn't that he lacks trust in John; it's that admitting to this particular interest of his would be so embarrassing. Yet Sherlock has a feeling that he cannot squirrel his way out of this conversation in any way that would end well. He bows his head, still facing the wall, and John continues to wait.
"Would it be easier to show me?" John says. Sherlock looks at him again, gauging the safety of this proposal, and God bless him, the doctor is a brilliant man sometimes. Sherlock gives the slightest nod.
He stands up, the two of them still looking at each other, and John gets to his feet after a moment, sensing that he's about to be shown. For a long moment, the two of them stand there, and Sherlock continues to stare at him, while John waits for something to happen. Sherlock steps closer, which takes John by surprise for a quick second, and pauses again. John can smell the faint traces of Sherlock's cologne. Slowly, Sherlock moves in, opens his arms and takes John in a gentle hug. John stands there, arms at his side, face in Sherlock's shoulder, momentarily dumbstruck.
"This is what you need?" he says.
Sherlock says nothing, nor does he pull away. It is a loose hug, a cautious one; he's ready to bolt away at any moment, if John gives him the smallest indication that this is unacceptable.
Instead, John lifts his arms and circles them around Sherlock's very thin torso, and Sherlock shivers with an electric shock dashing through his whole body. He closes his eyes and leans into John, who is still having a hard time moving past his utter surprise.
Who would have ever thought that Sherlock Holmes, of all people, has such a tremendous need for affection? Don't sociopaths sneer at such petty human interactions? That's the image everyone's created of this one, certainly.
The longer they stand there embracing, the more it all becomes clear to John. Sherlock, being who he is, would have theorized early on that something like cocaine could act as a kind of substitute for physical affection, at least on a neurological level, if only because cocaine produces a similar-although by no means identical-chemical reaction in the brain that physical affection produces. The physical and emotional feelings of the two? No comparison, in John's mind. But substituting one physical pleasure with another... He must admit, it sounds logical enough. Certainly logical enough for Sherlock to experiment with it. Even if the substitution is a failure, which it probably is, it's no less of a distraction.
John hugs him tighter.
"Is this all?" he says.
"No," says Sherlock, sounding absolutely dazed. "Some-some cuddling would be ideal."
At any other time, John would find the sound of that word coming out of a grown man's mouth, out of Sherlock's no less, totally ridiculous. But he knows the man means it. It also occurs to him what enormous trust Sherlock must have in him for admitting to all this, for making himself so appallingly vulnerable, especially when vulnerability seems to contradict Sherlock's nature more than anything.
He clears his throat and says, "My bed then or yours?"
"Your room is arguably more welcoming," he says.
They come apart and John leads the way, taking Sherlock's hand as they leave the kitchen and not seeing the flash of delight across his face. John disappears into his bathroom to change into pajamas, while Sherlock closes the bedroom door and turns out the light and lies down, jittery with anticipation (and perhaps the cocaine). As John gets into bed beside him, he vaguely thinks that this the very last thing he would have thought himself capable of, certainly the last place he would have expected to be with his flatmate. But he felt the way Sherlock responded to him when he hugged back and heard how overwhelmed his friend was when he spoke, and all John knows is that he suddenly sees Sherlock's unbelievable need for something so human. He doesn't think he could live with himself if he didn't do something to help.
"I think it would work best if you turned on your side," he says.
Sherlock rolls away from him, facing the door, wide awake in the dark. John stares at his back for a moment, wondering if this will be awkward, but then closes the gap between them, pressing himself against Sherlock and hooking his arm around his waist. They're spooning, essentially. This is much more incriminating than the swimming pool incident.
But John decides, as he feels Sherlock melt against him, that this really isn't so bad. It's not even odd to him, which is the most surprising thing. They lie still like that for a while, until John is on the verge of sleep, and Sherlock rolls around to face John and pulls him immediately under his arm. He's met with no resistance.
As they settle into this new position, finding just the right spot to put arms and legs and heads, John finds his face in Sherlock's chest. He can hear the other man's heart beating.
Sherlock feels a million times better than he does on cocaine. It's indescribable. He wonders if he's hallucinating or dreaming. Soon, much to his bewilderment, he begins to weep... which is something he hasn't done in years.
When John realizes that Sherlock is weeping, he's surprisingly calm about it, apart from the fierce surge of determination to never let this man go another day without affection again. He just holds onto Sherlock and doesn't say a word; it isn't a big deal. He moves his hand over Sherlock's back in an effort to be consoling, and Sherlock clutches him tight.
"No more drugs," John says, half-asleep, the words muffled in Sherlock's chest.
They sleep through the night that way.