Warnings – talk of unpleasant sexual situations, a naked boy (it's more of a nude painting naked, not good times in the hot tub naked), and some dirty words
A/N – Sequel to my story, "They're Only Echoes", probably would help if you read that, but I don't think it is necessary. I owe thanks to ScopesMonkey on this. She was the beta on it and is probably the only reason that it is up here. If you like thank her. Let me know what you think.
Disclaimer – Not mine and if you want to come after me, please do. I've got some debt, a dog, and a mostly empty fridge. They are yours for the taking.
In the Half Light
I know the bed is empty before I open my eyes. Not because some sixth sense or some romantic idea that I can feel him in the room with me. I can do that sometimes, but in bed it isn't necessary. If Sherlock is in bed he is touching me.
His favorite is to be literally sprawled on top of me like a blanket, usually on his stomach, but once strangely on his back, with appendages strewn all around me. Sometimes it's just the bottom of his foot pressed against my calf or an open faced palm half covering my face. In bed means touching and right now I'm alone.
It's early, probably very early if the blackness and relative quiet of the street outside is any indication. Not that this is unusual, but as he doesn't have a case and it was our anniversary yesterday, I expected to wake up with him. Perhaps if I wasn't up at the god awful hour of, I glance at the alarm clock, 3:03 am I would have. Maybe he would have crawled back in and I would have known no different. I wonder how often he does that and then shake the question away. It's hard enough worrying about what Sherlock is doing when I'm awake, I can't worry about when I'm asleep too.
I begin a quick internal debate, back to sleep or check up on my husband. Sherlock wins, as I'm sure he always will. I throw back the blanket and begin the search for wearable pants. I don't immediately stumble upon the pair that came off of me last night, but then…they came off in hallway I remember.
I open the drawer and blindly grab a pair in the dark. As I pull them on, I'm fairly certain that they are Sherlock's and with my luck they're the pink ones with the periodic table on them. If so I'll never be allowed to make fun of them again.
I open the door and am met with more darkness. This I find surprising as both the light from the living room and kitchen reach the hallway. Perhaps Sherlock went out; maybe he has a case and didn't want to wake me. It wouldn't be the first for that either. I make my way into the living room and am almost shocked to see him in his chair.
The moon and streetlights through the window are giving me a fairly clear view. He's tense again, arms and legs crossed, like I found him in the coffee shop last night. The only difference is that he is naked now. I start at his feet and quickly work my eyes up until they meet his grey ones. I can't read their expression very well in the semi- darkness, but my guess would be confused. It appears we'll be having a chat at 3 a.m.
"God, you are beautiful." I might as well start with my favorite ice breaker. He huffs at this, turning his head away but for a moment but I catch the smile. Sherlock responds well to praise, be it to his intellect or his physical appearance.
"I believe your opinion on that matter to be biased," he replies not turning back to me. He is joking with me, so whatever is bothering him doesn't involve me. That will make whatever it is easier to talk about. If he's angry with me he is silent, making it very difficult to figure out why. Mycroft once compared it to playing 20 questions with a brick wall. I smile, that's a very accurate description.
I close the distance between us and put a hand on his knee. He uncrosses and spreads his legs and I settle on my knees between them, resting my arms on his thighs. He appears confused again, hesitant.
"Talk to me." I say quietly and he starts chewing on his lower lip. I just watch him. I will not speak again until he does. One area where I am vastly superior to Sherlock is patience. I can wait him out and he knows it.
He looks away again, staring towards the kitchen. I begin counting in my head. I make it to 43. "You and I have never had a discussion about the disclosure of personal information. Isn't that standard procedure in most relationships? Full disclosure?"
"Do you mean share secrets?" I ask.
He nods and I notice he doesn't sigh or roll his eyes at my need for clarification, not good. "Is it not detrimental to a marriage to withhold information about one's self?"
"Well…That depends, what type of information are you withholding?"
He frowns not liking the question or the mild accusation. I run my thumbs in a circle along his outer thighs, the gesture reveals that I am not angry or on the verge of being angry at him. The frown disappears.
"Information about past relationships, sexual encounters, and such, don't spouses usually share that information with each other?"
I have a sinking suspicion that I know where this is going, Sebastian. Speaking to Sherlock can be like a chess game, and I have to lead him where he wants to go. "That also depends. Some do, some do not. Is this because you want information about my past relationships or are you hesitant to relay information on yours?"
"Would you tell me if I asked?" I mentally refer to these as Sherlock distraction questions. I've introduced a new factor into the conversation and he will try and use it to veer the conversation away from what he finds uncomfortable. He doesn't give me enough credit; I've been his husband for 2 years and his lover and friend before that.
"Certainly, where do you want to start, the men or the women?" I see your distraction question and raise you an unwanted answer. He shifts uncomfortably and gives me a quick glare. I smile.
He frowns. "The question could have been answered with a simple yes or no." He states. "I do not actually want mental images of you involved with others."
"Okay." Back to the beginning and the idiot banker. "So you want to share information about one of your past relationships? Sebastian, I assume?"
His eyes widen at this. He is surprised. Not nearly enough credit.
"What do you want me to know?" I push my self a little closer, settling my hands higher up on his thighs. He glances down at them for a moment before meeting my eyes again. He is distant though, analyzing my touch, not our conversation. I wait.
And then it's over, he's filed the information away under John's touches, subcategory thighs, and is willing to move on. "Are you saying that you are interested in full disclosure from me?"
"I'm interested in anything that you want to tell me, especially if it pulls you out of our bed at 3 in the morning."
He finally uncrosses his arms and settles his hands just above my elbows. "I used to believe that I loved Sebastian," he starts. "But in comparison to the affection I have for you I am forced to reclassify those emotions. Infatuation, I believe would be an accurate description." He loves me more than the other guy, so far so good. "His interest in me generally revolved around assistance with his studies or deducing information about others."
He looks away again but squeezes my arms gently. "He was my first sexual partner." He frowns and I wonder if it is at the memory or at sharing it now. "That is probably an exaggeration, I am not certain if there are a standard number of sexual encounters needed to classify someone as a partner. It only occurred once between us." He pauses and I wish that he would meet my eyes, I have a tingling at the base of my spine and I don't like it. I won't push him though.
"It was not enjoyable. Painful, actually." He almost whispers it, his eyes looking in the kitchen but his mind clearly remembering their 'encounter'. My grip tightens on his legs and he looks back at me. It's clear in his expression that he is not speaking of a broken heart. Those grey eyes aren't showing sadness or longing for something that wasn't. We wouldn't be having this conversation if Sherlock's feelings had been hurt.
I force my grip to relax and Sherlock's grip on my arms relaxes in response. I hadn't noticed he was holding on so hard. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, my heart is pounding in my chest. I have to stay calm though, if I panic Sherlock will probably shut down.
"Did…were you…I mean," I swallow. "Did he force you?" I get out with relative calm, bile filling the back of my throat and I forcibly have to keep my hands from clamping down. I have to ask though. It's good to collect all the information before deciding on whether or not to commit murder.
He contemplates for a moment and I feel like little shocks are shooting through my muscles demanding I move them.
"I was a willing participant, I was interested in him. I allowed him to do what he did." Not the resounding "No" I hoped for. The muscles along my spine are almost painfully tight now.
"It was very unpleasant; he was forceful and indifferent to me. There was tearing and a lot of pain. He left when he was satisfied and I was alone to clean up. I had no previous experience, no knowledge of how to handle it. I could barely make it to the shower. "
I can clearly picture a young and alone Sherlock. While he has always had confidence in his intellect, he has always been awkward socially. Friendships have never come easy to him. Hell, when we began our intimate relationship you'd have thought I moved him to Mars. I have no doubt that the social indifference he has mastered as an adult wasn't developed when Sebastian knew him. It seems Sebastian took advantage of that, physically as well as emotionally.
My breath is hard and too fast as my body processes the extra adrenaline. I'm trying to force my muscles to relax but am not having much luck. My fists are clenched. This is doing nothing to help Sherlock, I tell myself. I take another deep breath and force it to stay inside.
Sherlock frowns at me, noticing my internal struggle for the first time. He leans forward and cups my face. "I should not have told you." He whispers, his eyes moving frantically over my face and the parts of my body that are visible to him. I try and force my breathing slower and shake my head.
"No, I'm glad you did. I might murder him, but I' m glad…" I trail off and the grey eyes stop on mine. For some reason the most irrelevant question pops into my head and I ask it. "Why did you take that case when he asked you too?"
He smiles slightly at this and I'm actually astonished by it. A smile, even if it is the John being John smile, while talking about this. "You needed money and I wanted to be able to loan it to you." He replies as if that was obvious. It probably should have been. I still am the only person Sherlock will make exceptions for.
"For me," I am speaking louder than necessary but make no effort to lower my voice. I can't do that and not punch the wall at the same time. "You took a case from a man who used you, practically assaulted you, for me? You should never even have had to speak to or see him again."
"Initially I was hesitant about the case, but helping you was adequate motivation and Sebastian and I had very little interaction if you'll recall. The encounter this evening was accidental and I had no motivation for interacting with him. His intake of alcohol encouraged him to bring up university and our encounter. He even suggested, just before your arrival, that he would like to repeat the event. He apparently remembers the encounter fondly. I was about to violently reject him when you touched my shoulder."
I am pretty sure I am having a melt down. I cock my head to the side and replay every word just said to me over, 4 times, before I can respond. I successfully comprehend their meaning and determine that I did indeed hear him correctly the first time.
"He tried to fuck you on our anniversary?" I spit the words out violently and Sherlock actually flinches. I vaguely wonder if it's from my tone or my use of profanity, which I don't use often. I also vaguely understand that is not the best reaction given the circumstances, but I am fully aware that I have never been more angry in my life. I am fucking IRATE. "On our anniversary. That fucking arrogant piece of shit assaulter tried to bed my husband on our fucking anniversary. You have to be joking?"
"Not at all," he answers my clearly rhetorical question. I'm vaguely aware that he's rubbing his thumbs across my cheekbones and keeping his voice calm. He's using his knowledge of me to try and calm me down and for just the briefest of seconds it makes my anger flare. And then an instant later those grey eyes pierce through the shell. That vast mind focuses solely on me, it is amazing to be the center of his life. My muscles begin to relax.
Sherlock clearly notices the changes, notices his actions are working. "He isn't worth your anger John. I made the decision to tell you as I watched you greet him. I didn't like the idea of him trying to talk to you. I didn't like the idea of you being pleasant to him. I wanted you to know that he was unworthy of you kindness. But, and in no way am I trying to defend him, he was hardly aware that it was our anniversary." Another smile, a calming smile.
I close my eyes take a deep breath and hold it lowering my heart rate closer to normal. I can feel Sherlock's eyes still darting around watching me. I open my mouth to speak but Sherlock beats me to it.
"He is inconsequential to my relationship with you" My eyes snap open at this, anger surging again.
"But he is not inconsequential to you?" He frowns at this, not understanding. I breathe in with the intention of shouting. I'm angry because he hurt you. He used you, played upon your affection. He violated you, even if you don't see it that way. He hurt me by hurting you. Instead I just release it, blowing it slowly through my nose. This isn't about me, it's about what Sherlock wants from me. He wants understanding, which I can give even if I'm not feeling it.
I stand and maneuver myself until I'm straddling him. His arms wrap around my back and he lets out a quiet gasp as the silk boxers come into contact with his naked form. "Are those mi…" he starts a hint of a smile in his tone, before I wrap my arms around his neck and flatten myself against him. I have a ridiculously romantic idea of inserting myself between him and Sebastian, between him and the past. I bury my face into his neck and place a kiss there.
"I love you," I mumble against his skin. His grip tightens on me.
We are quiet for a long moment before I feel a kiss on my shoulder. "I love you, too." The conversation is over, probably never to be brought up again. I, however, am far from willing to let it go.
*The title for the first story came from an Arcade Fire song, so I felt this one should too.