A/N: Obviously, since I started this series before the new episodes, it may not fit perfectly with the Season Two canon (particularly in the portrayal of Mycroft, I notice). What can you do?
After the first time, they didn't have sex again for two weeks.
Sherlock kept expecting John to bring it up – perhaps insist on his husbandly rights, or whatever the appropriate term would be – but in fact he seemed perfectly content to wait, as though this was a completely normal and expected state of affairs.
Every evening he brushed his teeth next to Sherlock in the loo, their hips bumping companionably together, interrupted by the occasional skirmish over the use of the sink. And every night he slept curled around Sherlock like a vine – he was terribly clingy in bed – demurely dressed in grey striped flannel pajamas. Which stayed firmly in place. In the mornings he woke up first and slipped out of bed to make beans on toast and do the crossword.
It was very odd.
At the outset Sherlock had actually been pleased: physical intimacy had been even more overwhelming than he'd anticipated, and he'd wanted some time to consider the experience. It was hardly a hardship for him to go a few weeks without sex, having previously abstained for years.
But as days passed, Sherlock found himself increasingly sidetracked by the shape of John's rather well-rounded bum when he leaned over to reach into the cupboard under the sink. Or the smell of his bergamot-scented breath after his morning tea. And yet, even when Sherlock crowded in close behind him at the sink, John didn't press back against him to bring their bodies together, and when they were lying in bed together, and Sherlock brought his face conveniently close to John's mouth, John didn't close the distance and kiss him.
Sherlock didn't quite understand. John had enjoyed himself, the night they had had sex – Sherlock was certain of it, had incontrovertible proof, in fact – and yet he seemed to have virtually no interest in a repeat performance. Surely that was not that usual state of things?
Could there be something amiss, something Sherlock had failed to detect? This was not his area of expertise, so it was possible. Were they having a fight that he was unaware of?
But John didn't seem angry. He seemed as affectionate, as accommodating as ever. He had made Sherlock tea, in the exact way he liked it, twice that morning already. He would say something if he was upset, wouldn't he?
As there were no interesting cases at the time – having recently murdered the architect of the most intelligent crimes in London, Sherlock despaired of there ever being a truly interesting case again – he had no vent for these feelings, other than a series of rather violent experiments into the properties of elemental sodium, particularly how it could be made to explode in a shower of sparks.
As the second week drew to a close, he went through his closet to find the items he felt were particularly attractive: rich, deep colors, which he had been told brought out his skin tone, and anything either very loose or very tight (dressing gown, extremely close-fitting jeans) to suggest and encourage any thoughts of disrobing him.
He made up an outfit that he thought was especially appealing, and went to slouch elegantly against the doorframe into the kitchen, where John was rummaging through one of the drawers.
"Have we got any brillo pads?" John inquired, seemingly indifferent to his flat mate's allure.
Sherlock flashed his very best bedroom eyes, impossible to resist. "Haven't the foggiest," he drawled.
"Right. I suppose I'm off to the store, then." John brushed past him on his way out, reaching up to pat his shoulder in a decidedly not-suggestive way. "Try not to blow anything up until I'm back, eh?"
... Perhaps not entirely impossible to resist.
Undeterred, Sherlock arranged himself sprawled across the settee, loose-limbed and indolent, head dropping back over the armrest. One foot on the floor for balance, the other folded up among the cushions, guiding the eye to the wide-spread v of his hips, inviting someone to perhaps settle into that welcome cradle. He made sure that the neckline of his sumptuous silk shirt gapped obscenely, exposing his torso to the naval if John would merely glance down at the right angle.
To complete the tableau – artfully staged in a convenient sunbeam, directly in sight of the front door – for John's viewing pleasure, he directed his mind to peaceful meditation, relaxing his features until they were innocently smooth, an expression he believed John particularly preferred.
Unfortunately, he succeeded at this perhaps too well, because he was suddenly aware of John's hands, smoothing an atrocious purple knitted afghan (gift from Mrs. Hudson; soon to be destroyed in a sodium-related ignition incident) over his shoulders.
Clearly some time had elapsed: he must have fallen asleep.
"You looked cold." John whispered, tucking the horrible blanket more closely around him. His knuckles just brushed over the line of Sherlock's cheek. "Have a good nap."
Sherlock dozed off again reflecting that his talent for seduction had clearly fallen by the wayside over the past few years.
Hours later, standing in the shower at the end of the day, Sherlock pictured John's steady, calloused hands moving over his skin, and scowled down at his stupidly rising cock.
The damn thing had a mind of its own, always wanting more contact from John, more demonstration of his affection. It was ridiculous, like he suddenly had no control of it. He got out of the shower and tried to will the erection away, the way he had always done in the past, but it insisted – it wanted John, the one who rightfully understood it.
Finally Sherlock wrapped himself in a towel and stalked down to the living room, where John was reading a medical journal on the settee. "Are you going to deal with this?" he demanded.
John looked up. "Sorry, deal with what? Oh." He was looking at the bulge in Sherlock's towel. "Er, now?"
John looked up into Sherlock's face, obviously trying to read something in his expression. Sherlock uncomfortably shifted on his feet, the unwanted, rejected erection still jutting hopefully out.
Whatever John was looking for, he seemed to find it. "Right, then," he said, tugging away the towel and letting it drop it on the floor. Sherlock stood, fully exposed, directly in front of the great window. "Come here, you."
Sherlock didn't move. His cock jumped, pointing right at John like an arrow, like a witness identifying a perpetrator – him, he's the one!
So John slid out of the seat and knee-walked forwards, taking hold of his hips like handles. "Let's see, then," he muttered, thoughtfully.
Warm, wet. Sherlock closed his eyes, and clenched his hands into fists so that the fingernails dug into the base of his palms. Let his head drop back to the ceiling, hanging so heavy from his neck. Felt his heart rate accelerate.
"Stop!" he said.
To his credit, John immediately did. "Sherlock?"
Panting, Sherlock looked down at John, who was fully clothed in front of him, face squashing up into irritated confusion.
"Look, I'm sorry, Sherlock, but it's not as if I have the slightest idea what I'm doing – not really looking for a critique here, thanks."
He leaned back in again, and Sherlock staggered back a step, breaking John's hold – he would have toppled forwards if he hadn't regained balance with a hand on the carpet. "Sherlock? What – "
This was exactly what he had wanted, what he had fantasized about, from the beginning. He was the one who had asked for it!
But still, Sherlock backed up another step. "I've … I …"
There were no words. Sherlock clenched his teeth.
"It's alright." John reached out slowly to stroke his side, like he would do to settle a fidgety horse. "It's alright, Sherlock."
"I'm sorry," Sherlock muttered, twisting away to stalk off into the bedroom.
Twenty minutes later, John came in, dressed in the grey flannels. Sherlock was still naked, in bed, swaddled up in the sheets. His erection had long since passed, unsatisfied.
He listened to the sounds of John puttering around the room: taking off his watch, to leave it on the side table. Putting his slippers in the closet. Walking to the wall switch to turn off the light. Walking to the bed.
Hands found Sherlock's shoulder and urged him onto his back, and then John was climbing on top of him, easily fitting between his thighs, moving steadily upwards until they were nose to nose.
"Hello," said John, leaning forwards to carefully kiss him.
"We don't have to do that, if you don't want to," said John. "Or we can do it again, but in a different way, or whatever you like. You say the word, okay?"
"Okay," said Sherlock.
"Good." John let himself drop forwards, until he was resting entirely on Sherlock's chest. He nudged his head under Sherlock's chin. "Then let's go to sleep, eh?"
Cautiously, Sherlock wrapped one arm around his middle, accepting the weight of him; John was heavy, but there wasn't enough of him to present much of a burden.
"Night," he muttered.
The next morning Sherlock woke before John, and found them curled up together as usual, John's head on his shoulder, one hand resting rather possessively on Sherlock's backside. Sherlock had the sheet tangled around his legs, having apparently taken all the covers in the night.
"John," he whispered.
Blearily, John's eyes opened – foggy blue, and still glassy with sleep. "Wha?"
Sherlock leaned in and pressed their mouths together, licking John's dry lips for him and tasting the stale, sour hint of morning breath.
John allowed it for a moment, then turned his head to the side in order to breathe. "Good morning," he said. "Might want to let me brush my teeth."
But Sherlock followed his mouth and kissed him again, deeper this time, more determined, rolling himself on top of John, their hips roughly aligned. John didn't protest against the position, settling on his back underneath him.
Sherlock shifted until their cocks were together – Sherlock half-hard the way he woke up some times, John not particularly erect that he could tell – and ground down. One of John's knees came up to bracket him, not objecting, merely accommodating Sherlock's advances. He raised one hand to stroke the hair back from Sherlock's face, letting it drift over his cheek before moving to the back of his neck.
Sherlock leaned forward to bite his lower lip, hard. John grunted, his fingers flexing in Sherlock's hair, and Sherlock drew back, breathless.
He looked down at John, sleep-rumpled and looking quite debauched, his lips pink and swollen with kisses. Now he could feel what he was pretty sure was John's cock, stiffening under the layers of flannel.
John lifted his head to reach for another kiss, but Sherlock shifted minutely back, holding his position.
There was a long pause, and then he sat all the way up.
John blinked, wiggled a little, and, getting no response, dropped back against the bed, wheezing.
"Right," he said, closing his eyes and counting mentally to ten (Sherlock could see his lips, faintly forming the outline of each number). "Okay," he said, when he had finished. "Probably time to start the day, yeah?" He rolled out from under Sherlock and climbed out of the bed, presumably to hunt down the paper and get started on breakfast.
Alone in the room, Sherlock flopped over onto his back and waited. Seventeen seconds for John to get down the stairs, twenty-three accounting for the slight limp of his erection. Another fifty-three to locate the kettle, which was in the living room. Five to start the stove.
He waited a full thirty minutes, mapping out every one of John's actions in his head, before rolling out of bed. He slid into his dressing gown, being sure not to set off any creeks in the floor (weight evenly distributed between load-bearing beams). Then he moved soundlessly down the stairs with the ease of long experience, pausing midflight where there was a view of the kitchen through the rungs of the bannister.
John was humming and waiting for the toaster to finish. Sherlock held his breath to listen; Pirates of Penzance.
Sherlock crouched down on the step to observe further, the back of John's head dipping in and out of his field of vision.
What was he thinking, in that tiny hamster-wheel inside his head? Surely he must know that Sherlock was being a prat, but instead of commenting on it, he was the very model of a modern Major-General …
His phone vibrated from its spot in the pocket of his dressing gown. Sherlock reached in a hand to extract it, glancing surreptitiously at the screen.
- I can see you watching me – JW
Sherlock allowed himself a very small smile.
- Stop lurking & come eat. – JW
So he stalked into the kitchen and dropped dramatically into a chair. "I'm not having beans on toast," he announced.
John put a bowl in front of his own place and went back for tea. "Luckily for you, it's porridge."
Porridge. That was alright. Sherlock could probably stomach a few bites of that, if it was spiced the way he liked it (cinnamon; raisins; honey; a very small amount of cream) and served at the correct temperature (hot enough that steam rose from the surface in lazy swirls).
Sherlock slid John's bowl over to himself, stirring it with John's spoon to dispel the film that had developed on the surface. Before John turned back from the stove, he quickly swallowed a spoonful.
It was salty and thick, sliding down his throat to settle in his stomach, warming. Yes, temperature correct; cinnamon, raisins, honey. Too much cream. Interesting to note that John typically preferred his porridge with dried apricots and skim milk.
"You're not angry with me," Sherlock observed, aloud.
John came back with a second bowl. "What?"
"Gilbert and Sullivan, not Bizet. Oolong instead of Earl Grey. Extra cream in the porridge, trying to fatten me up: you're not angry with me."
"Excellently deduced." John reached for toast.
"And yet I've been particularly infuriating, just lately." He paused. "Starting things and not finishing them."
John appeared to be contemplating his apricot jam. Sherlock knew that he sometimes used mundane activities as a pretext to gather his thoughts, so he remained silent.
"I'm not angry," said John softly.
"I understand that you've been – testing me," John said. "Not consciously, perhaps, but I think you wanted to see if it was safe."
"Ridiculous," said Sherlock.
"It's alright," John said. "You can test me all you like." He inched one hand across the table until it bumped up against Sherlock's. "You can trust me, Sherlock," he said, stroking Sherlock's index finger with his thumb. "But I don't mind if you want to run some experiments first. I wouldn't expect anything less."
Sherlock didn't know what to say. He looked down at the table, the cooling bowl of porridge, their disparate hands.
John cleared his throat. "We don't ever have to have sex again, if you don't want," he said, neutrally. "We can go on just as we are, whichever parts of it you like. I don't mind. I mean – " he grimaced. "I mind, obviously I do, but. I don't. I won't - leave you for it. Alright?"
Sherlock kept quiet. But he did notice each of the muscles in his body, one by one, relaxing slowly.
"Tea?" asked John, pouring him a cup.
They did have sex again. Many times, as it turned out. They investigated various acts and positions, some of which had a rather rocky start at the beginning, most of which improved with experience.
It was fortunate that Sherlock didn't require John to provide him with mystery and excitement (that was what criminal classes were for): John wouldn't have presented much of a challenge. There was nothing unexpected about him, nothing that Sherlock didn't already know. He was just solid and familiar, all the way through.
It was never difficult to understand what John liked or what he wanted: he liked and wanted Sherlock.
What was strange was that Sherlock found this stability somehow satisfying - something like having a strong, flexible springboard to bounce off of. Something like having cool, deep water to land in.
He realized he was lucky to have gotten away with hiding some of his earlier – shall we call them shenanigans? – from John, and he didn't want to push his luck now. So he didn't protest against John's insistence that Sherlock, instead of being caught in a spiral of existential angst over the utter meaningless of life among creatures too stupid to ever comprehend his brilliance, just needed to be fed and settled on the couch, with his feet on John's lap, to watch crap tellie or a movie in which things exploded – and somehow against John's warm hands rubbing his thigh, and the hot tea which John cheerfully poured down his throat, and the nap that John eventually coaxed him into, Sherlock had no defense.
His willingly-offered affection was like a soothing balm on Sherlock's irritated nerves.
John had a habit of focusing on the physical, the primitive, the woodland creature in Sherlock's belly, completely shortcutting the genius brain in his human skull. And somehow, with his transport safely left in John's hands - John would see to it; he understood its needs and desires far better than Sherlock had ever understood them himself - Sherlock was finally free to just think, not stymied by the millions of small concerns that pestered him relentlessly.
Some days it still seemed inconceivable, that he, Sherlock Holmes, could be content with a man like John: rather ordinary, merely dependable – merely patient and kind and good. Sherlock would not have believed himself capable of sustaining the emotion. To think of the odd little boy he had been, or the cold and callous teenager – or even the spiteful, arrogant man he became … it was all very unlikely.
And yet, the evidence was certainly there: John had become his first thought in the morning and was usually his last remembrance at the end of the day, month after month, year after year.
He hesitated to use the word love – it seemed entirely clichéd, completely improbable.
But it was impossible to deny his own affections. Impossible to claim that they were anything less than sincere and enduring.
So he supposed, when you eliminated the impossible, whatever remained (however clichéd and improbable it was) must certainly be - the truth.
There is one last "deleted scene" from this series, Speedball. Other than that, I can't believe it but I'm actually finished! Thank you so much to everybody who read or reviewed - I really appreciate hearing from you.
All the best ~ Cora.