"Actually, you know, I like the beard, it suits me, I look good in it, we should leave it."
Sherlock's a surprisingly bad liar when he's so randy he can't keep his hands off himself.
"Sometimes you're a surprisingly bad liar Sherlock. And get your hand off yourself." John stared at the long fingers pressed against Sherlock's crotch. Sherlock looked down as if surprised to see them there. He probably was.
John waited until both of Sherlock's hands rested on his black-clad thighs. "Ready?"
Sherlock wanted to say yes. It's what he wants to say to anything John asks, but he didn't because right now he couldn't. Which was, frankly, a small miracle.
Because honestly, no one's been able to shut Sherlock up before now. Even when he was a baby he'd cried, muttered, babbled, or just burped if that was all he had in him.
Point is, that brain? That damn big brain that's been full-steam-ahead since the first synapse formed and fired? It's been moving Sherlock's mouth pretty much non-stop since forever and the only creature that has ever been able to quiet it was standing right in front of him, quiet, watching with the most perfect blue eyes Sherlock had ever seen.
Yes, John. Always yes.
It was well-known that John Watson, like his lover, was something of a genius. Brilliant, it turns out, at deciphering consulting detectives. A rare skill that. About as rare as consulting detectives.
So, despite the fact that Sherlock said nothing, John knew what Sherlock was saying. Still, John wanted him to actually say it. So John said nothing. And John could say nothing for a lot, lot longer than Sherlock.
Ready, John asked. Ready?
The problem was that Sherlock wasn't ready. For sex? Yes, most certainly, very definitely—Sherlock's hand drifted between his legs again, where he pressed and pulled without knowing he was doing it—but ready for revelation?
Oh god no.
While Sherlock did so love to ask, probe, piece together, he was not keen on being asked, probed, pieced. Because he'd had it figured it out by the age of nine: when kids asked him questions—What's your middle name? Where'd you go for Christmas? Why do you talk so much?—all they were doing was stockpiling ammunition for later.
Three months. Twelve weeks. Ninety days. There's so many ways to state a fact, isn't there? Sherlock had so far been John's lover for three months. For twelve weeks. For ninety days. And in that brief time—in that blink of an eye, in that forever—John had seen Sherlock weep. He'd seen him on his knees. He'd heard him beg, listened to him cry out as he came, watched him bleed at his own hand.
If Sherlock thought about it—and right now he was—as far as ammunition went, John really had quite enough to be going on with. So why was he sitting on a toilet, mashing his cock, looking up at this short, patient creature looking down at him and doing nothing?
Say yes, Sherlock. Say yes.
So Sherlock said yes, he said I'm ready, he said it expediently and without words, by stripping himself naked to the waist.
And John very carefully didn't frown.
Even at a glance the good doctor could see the wound over Sherlock's heart hadn't fully healed, that it was still red, a little raised; John knew now that it would scar. The scar would be faint, but it would be there, on Sherlock's chest. Forever.
John also knew he shouldn't do it, shouldn't touch it, shouldn't love this thing at the same time as hate it, but he didn't stop himself from running soft fingers over Sherlock's gift, given eight weeks ago: A crooked little heart, scribed with a scalpel into Sherlock's own chest, the initials JW nested inside it. Thinking himself quite sensible Sherlock had waited a whole day—when he thought it would no longer be bleeding—before he'd let John see it.
John still doesn't understand why the ugly little thing makes him want to giggle and shout at the same time.
John was still staring, still tenderly touching. He shook his head. "Yes, sorry. Yes. I am." Drawing in a quick breath John turned, gathered the tools he'd need.
"How did you get this?"
The loo was warm, the mirror steamy from the hot water in which John had soaked the flannel. Sherlock's beard was soft now and the first stroke of the blade—a straight razor Sherlock had had tucked away in a drawer—was easy.
John brushed his thumb softly under Sherlock's lower lip, to show him which scar he meant. Sherlock had so many.
"A neighbor girl thrashed me after school when I was eight."
John's brows tensed. Sherlock touched the scar. "It only needed three stitches."
The doctor dipped the razor into the sink, shook it clean.
"It's hard to prevent scars." John glanced at a criss-cross of faint raised lines on the back of Sherlock's hands. "Some people are just prone."
John lifted the razor again. "How did you—"
"You said I could ask questions, too."
John's brows did a short, surprised samba up his forehead. "Oh. Sure. Go ahead."
"If you had to lose the ability to hear or the ability to speak, which would you choose?"
Again John's brows did a little dance. It shouldn't surprise him that Sherlock's question was…strange.
John pressed the razor high up along Sherlock's other cheek, dragged it down carefully and smoothly. "Not sure. I think I could live without talking. I'd learn sign language, I suppose."
The good doctor rinsed the blade again.
About a year from now John'll learn that many of the men in Sherlock's family go deaf in their 60s; he'll also learn that if given the choice, Sherlock would rather lose the ability to speak than to hear. Which was really saying something.
At the request for permission a ghost of a smile flickered over Sherlock's face. "Yes, John."
"Okay. Other than that magnificent brain of yours, what do you like about your body."
Sherlock's ghost of a smile faded. "John."
"And, once again, Sherlock."
An annoyed sigh. These are the kinds of questions Sherlock hates and if you ask him why he won't even dignify your inquiry with derision. However, Sherlock's only a liar with strangers, idiots, and criminal suspects so though he feigned thought for a moment, it was clear he had an answer.
"My hands. The fingers are long. Dexterous. Often useful." Sherlock's gaze briefly snagged at John's crotch, a grin surged back. "For quite a lot of things."
John ran shorter fingers softly along the freshly bare patch at Sherlock's jaw. Already he missed the ginger beard and it wasn't even gone yet. "Oh yes."
Sherlock stilled John's hand with his own. It was clear he knew the next question he wanted to ask, but he hesitated. Finally, with a kiss to the palm, he asked softly, "How did you feel the first time you killed someone?"
John could have feigned thought, too. Surely a question that intense deserved deep reflection. Yet John answered almost instantly. "Relieved. Relieved he couldn't hurt them any longer. Relieved my aim was true and it happened fast. Just relieved."
They each stared silent at nothing much for awhile, then John shook his head. "Ah, I missed a stroke that time."
Sherlock closed his eyes, lifted his chin, waited.
When he finally opened his eyes John softly palmed him through his trousers, massaged the bulge there.
That nice little grope was meant as a bit of a tease. John had every intension of continuing to shave Sherlock, really he did.
That's not what happened next, though. Not at all.
Standing straight, about to reach for the razor again, John said, "Tell me something I don't know about you, love."
Sherlock knew John wasn't asking about when he got his first puppy (it was Mycroft's actually, and Sherlock was five and instantly besotted) or how he'd liked his first trip abroad (he didn't).
John was asking for revelation.
So that's what Sherlock gave him.
"I would die for you."
And those words…
Count them. The words. The letters, too. Do you see? How few? Barely any. Almost none. Just five tiny words. So small they take just one second to speak. There's nothing special about any of them on their own.
So explain their power. Explain how, when strung together, they could ramp a man's heart rate by thirty beats in seconds. Explain how they could gust the air from his lungs, how fifteen little letters could disengage his joints, weaken muscles, loosen tendons, until the man was forced to his knees. Explain how they could clamp like a vice around his heart and at the same time make him feel free.
John bowed his head, then gave up holding himself even that much together. He slumped to the floor, cheek against Sherlock's thighs, and said a whole lot of nothing because what could he say?
I've nearly died for strangers a dozen times over. I was willing to do it for you the day we met. And until this moment I didn't know, had no idea, not one small clue that I wanted someone to want to do it for me.
No, John didn't say any of that, couldn't because such musings aren't really in the nature of Johns. And though Sherlock was really quite rubbish at relationships he did understand the heart. No. He understood this man's heart.
Sherlock leaned over, surrounded his lover with his arms. "A hundred times over, John. A thousand."
Hyperbole: Sherlock's really quite full of it. Lower the IQ of the whole street. Smarter than the rest of you combined—and she's dead. It's as obvious as a brass band in a bedroom.
But this was not that. Sherlock meant every word and if he could have tattooed those words to his chest right then to prove their truth he'd have done it. A hundred times over. A thousand.
How all of this—this being a little escapade to shave one man's wiry ginger beard—had teeter-tottered from serious to silly to sexy to silly to this was a mystery for the ages, but it had, and maybe John and Sherlock would have gone somewhere dark just then—they're not without very, very large emotional baggage, these boys—but about then a kettle down below got filled once more, making the pipes rap aggressively against the wall.
That sudden sound caused both of them to jump so hard John banged his head against Sherlock's chin, which cracked Sherlock's teeth closed over his tongue, which caused him to bolt upright and knee John in the side of the head which caused John to sit up and shout, "Mother fucking god damn fuck!" which didn't precisely cause them both to devolve into hysterics but still that's exactly what happened anyway.
Five minutes can seem like a hell of a long time when you're laughing so hard you can't breathe. Each time one of them stopped giggling, the peals of the other tipped him over again, which then fueled the fire which then wrapped back around which then kept it going on for approximately forever or for what was more commonly known as "fucking god I'm going to die stop it Sherlock seriously stop it I can't breathe stop stop stop oh god."
Eventually they did stop. And eventually John slumped against the tub again, as he'd been not thirty minutes before, and he looked up at Sherlock with his—well it sort of looked like a goatee—half-shaved face and right about then John gave it up for a bad job. Mission Shaving Sherlock was officially aborted because with the way things were going, if they continued at this intense, emotional pace one of them was quite possibly going to emerge pregnant from this loo because seriously.
But it ain't over until the large lady sings. Or until the good doctor shouts, either or.
Because that emotional baggage we were talking about? It was still in that room. Oh there was less of it than they'd come in with, sure, but Sherlock's mind doesn't easily give up on some things and it wasn't willing to give up on this.
So when John said, "I think we should finish this whole shaving lark a little later and that you should tell me that indecent sex fantasy of yours. I think you should tell me how you want me to make love to you, Sherlock, yes I certainly do"—well, Sherlock did.
Sherlock looked down at his lover, into soft blue peaceful, sensible, honest, not-crazy-like-me eyes, and felt suddenly like an idiot.
Good god but he hated that feeling.
"—the um, riding crop. Just that."
Remember the bit about Sherlock not lying except to suspects and strangers? Well that was kind of a lie, but when he lies to John he doesn't really mean to, not to John. Fortunately he's very bad at it.
If there'd been a third party in that small space with them they might have rolled their eyes at this point and said, "Oh lord here we go again," because it started getting all intense, and serious, and sort of revelation-y in that loo once more, but somehow John recognized this and reeled it in saying, "Tell me what you really want or I will go downstairs and pee on your moon rock."
No one alive can diddle around with emotional baggage after those words, said in that order.
"I want you to shout."
Bam. It was said. Done. Out there. John nodded to show he'd heard, nodded again to encourage more.
Yet Sherlock said nothing more. For awhile. Then he opened his mouth, said more nothing. Finally even he got tired of his stupid fears and so he shoved the words out, raw, and needy and silly to his own ears. "Yell John. Just yell at me, raise your voice, be loud. Convince me, make me believe."
John rose, kinda duck-walked on his knees over to that toilet. Sherlock tugged him close, tucked his face against John's neck. The good doctor said nothing; he knew the hard part was coming now, here was the unveiling.
"Yell, shout, scream at me that you…that…you…"
Sherlock's body started to go hard, tense, and even though he was pressed against him the good doctor could feel his lover shrinking away, withdrawing.
Convince me. Make me believe.
"…that…that you…that you feel…"
John stood, clambered into Sherlock's lap, straddled him on that toilet—good god they hadn't even made it out of the loo for this—slid his hands into Sherlock's hair, fisted them. He stared into foggy eyes and very carefully, softly, precisely bit out each word: "Listen. To. Me. Are. You. Listening?"
Sherlock gusted out a hard breath, his arms slid tight around John's waist.
The good doctor rocked his hips once, felt the press of Sherlock's erection between them.
"I'll ask you again, Sherlock, are you listening?" John's voice, still soft and yet it was a shout barely contained.
"Say it, Sherlock."
"Say it again." John's voice…a little louder.
"Yes, John." Sherlock's voice…a little softer.
"Say it again." Louder.
John tugged Sherlock's head close, until their noses touched, became peripherally aware that Sherlock was squirming beneath him.
"What are you saying yes to Sherlock?" His voice was now loud enough you could hear it from the sitting room, but not quite from another flat.
Sherlock's breathing was a little erratic and his brain a bit scrambled so he didn't answer right away so John yelled—this time so loudly Sherlock jumped, "Answer me!"
"That I know you love me!"
John pressed his hands flat either side of Sherlock's head, held him tight, squirmed against his hard-on.
John knew that this was the opposite of what Sherlock had meant, the exact opposite. He'd wanted to hear the words from John's mouth but John's said these words before, a dozen times a dozen already in only a dozen weeks. It's time for Sherlock to say them.
"God damn it!" John shoved his chest against his lover's, rammed the slender man's spine up against the cool porcelain tank, "Say it again Sherlock, now!"
"You love me, you love me, you love me, I know you love me!"
Sherlock's head was wobbly on his neck, his bones had gone soft and something in his chest ached and burned, fluttered then flew.
John shoved one hand between them so there was more pressure against Sherlock's cock, rocked his hips hard with each shout.
"Say it Sherlock, shout it, scream it!"
Sherlock's eyes were closed, both fists bunched up in the front of John's jumper. He could barely move, had no leverage, but John was moving for both of them and it was all Sherlock could do, just this, just the words.
"John loves me!"
John ground his hips down.
"John loves me!" Sherlock groaned.
"John loves me!" He shouted.
"John loves me!" He moaned.
Sherlock finally let his head tip back against the wall and roared, "He loves me, he loves, he…John, John, John, JohnJohnJohnJohngodJohn!"
It was a good night.
After Sherlock came—in the loo; on the toilet; nearly fully clothed; John straddling him half naked; good lord—they at last adjourned to the bedroom.
Nothing much happened after they got there to be honest, because you try jumping that many emotional hurdles one late afternoon and see how energetic you feel.
But when Sherlock woke up sometime round half past nine? Well he had a very bright idea. He would touch John. While John slept.
Butterfly touches, John would later name them. Barely-there-soft-as-silky-wings touches, flits and flutters of fingertips here-there-everywhere, soft and sensual caresses inside the crook of an elbow, behind a knee or an ear, delicate, trembling touches against lips and inside thighs and over nipples; touches so careful, so tender, so patient that eventually even a sleeping man's body rouses, though he sleeps on.
Rouses enough for his heart to start thrumming, his mouth to open, wakes enough for a soft cock to lengthen, hardened, start to drip.
When John finally woke it was to the sound of his own moaning, and when Sherlock's dexterous fingers slid into him and then around him it was as easy as that, John started coming with an arch of his back and a breathy sigh.
After that they rang up Angelo's. He told them to come on over; yes, of course, he'd feed them after hours, no problem, glad to do it, silly boys, don't even ask.
Before they left, however, Sherlock had to shave.
It took him less than five minutes.
Thank you Madder Badder for the question about Ben's, er, Sherlock's lip scar, Ununpentium for Sherlock's hearing/speech question, LucyBun thank you for the question about how it felt to kill someone. I meant to get 20 questions in here, I really did, a lot more sex, too, but angst will find a way. Apparently angst will always damn well find a way.