A/N – This was written at the request of mattsloved1. I hope you like it. And my gratitude to ScopesMonkey for allowing me to refer to The Bristol Honey Festival from her story The Relative Merits of Honey and for doing the beta work on this. She made it better than it was. This makes references to some of my previous stories, but it isn't necessary to have read them to understand this. Lastly, I know absolutely nothing about bees, not a hot damn thing other than it hurts when they sting you. I tried to be vague about them, but if I'm wrong I apologize. Don't yell at me about them, please.
Warnings – Dirty word and mild sexual reference.
Disclaimer – I don't own a thing, I'm even out of honey.
Each to His Passion
Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion; What's in a name? ~ Mary Kate Ash
"DON'T KILL IT!" Sherlock exclaims stopping Mrs. Hudson in her tracks. John, who is standing on the stairs beginning the climb to their shared flat, stops as well. He's never heard Sherlock speak to Mrs. Hudson that way. Ever.
The doctor looks over and watches as Sherlock pounds across the room, snatching the magazine out of Mrs. Hudson's hand. Mrs. Hudson jumps back, making room for Sherlock to squat down and scoop the bee onto the magazine. The detective stands quickly, and charges up the stairs, pushing John into the banister as he passes.
The door slams above him and John and Mrs. Hudson just stare at each other. After a long moment they both shrug their shoulders as if to say "Sherlock being Sherlock" and move in their separate directions.
"I haven't read that magazine yet, dear," the landlady says over her shoulder.
"I'll try and get it back," the doctor promises as he continues to climb the stairs.
Sherlock has pulled a chair to the window and is curled up in it, leaning against the sill. There is a jar of honey sitting next to him and he's holding a spoon that clearly has some honey on it. "Come on, eat some. You'll feel better."
The doctor stares awestruck for a moment. He's never seen Sherlock so focused on something that isn't a dead body. He watches as the detective tenderly pushes the spoonful of honey at the bee.
John doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know what to say. He's too surprised to even speak. He's perfectly aware that most of his flatmate's uncaring, indifferent persona is a façade. Certainly the detective has much more control over his emotions than most and certainly there is some general discomfort with emotional responses, but he isn't a true sociopath. Not even close.
But this, this tender affection shown toward something no one else would give a passing thought to stepping on or squashing with a magazine is still surprising.
"Come on," the detective encourages again, "There you go." If it had been a cat or a dog John is certain that Sherlock would be rubbing its chin or scratching behind its ears.
John watches in amazement for another moment. He decides not to say anything, not to disturb the moment. He'd hate for Sherlock to become self-conscious about this. He grabs the abandoned magazine from the coffee table and heads back out the door. He can watch some crap telly with Mrs. Hudson for a while.
"There are too many to choose from," John says to no one in particular. Ever since Sherlock dragged him to the Honey Festival, John found the decisions about honey choice entirely too difficult. It had all just been honey before.
He settles on the orange blossom honey, and spreads it over his toast.
The thundering on the stairs alerts John to the fact that Sherlock is home. The detective left suddenly last night, giving no indication of where he was going. This no longer surprises John, but he always takes a moment to vaguely hope that the detective will make it back safely. He'd long ago earned the detective's trust; if there was any real danger the doctor knows he'd have been dragged along.
He takes a sip of his coffee and then a bite of his toast. He's fairly certain that the orange blossom honey is his current favourite, but the rest are very good, too. Tomorrow he'll pick a different one.
The door flies open and the rumbling voice fills the flat.
"We have a case, John!" He looks manic for a moment as he enters the kitchen and settles his eyes on John. Then his eyes land on the toast and John hears the quiet grumbling in the detective's stomach that lets him know that Sherlock hasn't eaten in a while.
His eyes go wide as he stares at the plate. John pushes it across the table and nods his head encouraging Sherlock to eat the rest. The detective looks amazed for a second and John wonders if it's because he's willing to share or because the detective is so hungry.
Sherlock reaches out and takes the piece of toast and brings it to his lips. His eyes close as he savours the taste. John is astonished for a moment, watching the jaw chew slowly, wholly focused on the sensation.
It's amazing to watch and John does, just a minute. When the detective swallows and his eyes open John moves past him, up the stairs. He's got to get dressed if they have a case.
He hopes the rest of the toast is gone when he gets back down. He really hopes that ever bite looks like the first.
"We should make the trip over to Florida, the Apalachicola River area for example."
"We are only going to the States for 4 days. You want to make the trip from New Orleans to Florida in that time."
"It isn't that far," Sherlock says, starting to frown. John looks at him, amazed. He opens his computer and Googles the distance. "How do you spell that?" Sherlock does.
"It's a 7 hour drive." John says. "That's a whole day with the round trip. What's in this," he looks down at the screen and decides not to try it saying the name, "this place anyway."
"Ap-uh-latch-uh-cola," Sherlock says slowly as he crosses his arms and frowns. He shakes his head and John realises that he probably won't answer. The doctor feels guilty for a moment.
"Why?" The doctor's voice is kinder, encouraging. He's working very hard to get Sherlock to share more things, and being dismissive of his wants isn't the way to do that.
"It's one of the few places in the world where Tupelo honey is made," he says quietly.
Bees, John thinks. He wants to drag him 14 hours round trip to see bees. He shakes his head, he shouldn't be surprised by this.
"It's a long trip Sherlock, but we can go back sometime if you want. We can just go to Florida and buy as much Tupelo honey as you want."
"I want to see the bees, John." He says. The doctor knew that. He made a mental note to search for places to see bees closer to New Orleans.
Sherlock is still asleep, the anaesthesic having not worn off. John stares out of the hospital window; at least the view of the park is nice.
They'd called him at 6 am. Sherlock had been found on the edge of the woods by the owner of the farm. She'd remembered him from earlier in the day. He's stopped by to see the bees, she had several hives and he had been interested in buying honey from her.
The police officer Sherlock was working with here explained to John that Sherlock had wanted to speak to the farmer's son. They'd successfully ruled him out as a suspect though, so no one had any idea why Sherlock was back at the farm in the middle of the night.
John had a pretty good idea. Honey. Sherlock was probably stealing honey. Typical Sherlock behaviour. John sighs and looks back over his shoulder at his husband. He has started to stir in the last hour and should be awake soon, at which point John is planning on killing him. Maybe he'll suffocate him with his pillow. Sherlock only had one working arm, he couldn't fight the doctor off. Although that would take away all the pleasure John would get out of strangling him with his bare hands.
They said Sherlock must have fallen, it was overcast last night and very dark. The police officer said that they'd restricted themselves to the house and the hives right next to the house when they'd been there earlier in the day. Sherlock didn't venture close enough to the woods to see the incline. In the dark it was hardly visible. He'd fallen down it, rolling almost 200 feet. He'd hit his head on a root and managed to break his arm as well.
They'd called John, waking him up on his one day he had off this week. Your husband is in the hospital, in surgery…
He knew that they'd explained more than that but he hadn't heard them. None of the rest of it mattered. He had managed to get the name of the hospital and been on the first train. He was going to be here a few days and hadn't even bothered to pack any clothes. Hell, he was wearing the t-shirt and boxers he had slept in. Somehow he'd managed to pull jeans on at least.
"John," Sherlock mumbles and the doctor turns to see grey eyes staring at him. They are glassy and hazy because of the anaesthesic. He's confused but aware and glad to see John. So much for strangling the frustrating life out of him, John smiles and closes the distance between him and his husband, he takes his the good hand and places a kiss against the knuckles.
"Hi," says the doctor.
Sherlock looks around a moment, turning his gaze inward, trying to remember.
"You were in the woods," John says.
"The bees," Sherlock says turning his attention back to his husband, clearly remembering. "I wanted to get some honey, while they were sleeping."
John nods, having known that already. "There was a hill, we assume you didn't see it."
"I fell," he says. "It hurt."
John nods again, it's good that he's remembering so much. "You broke your arm and hit your head."
Sherlock's eyes go wide all of a sudden and he pulls his head back to get a better view of John. He winces as the move causes his head to ache.
"You were still in London," he says. "You were still in London."
"Yeah," John says, squeezing his fingers. "I know. They called me when you went into surgery." Sherlock is alarmed, upset with himself.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I'm sorry you worried."
John shakes his head, and reaches his free hand up to run it gently through Sherlock's curls. There isn't much they can do about it now. There will be plenty of time to be angry at Sherlock when he's home and safe. When the panic is done sitting just below the surface of John's skin. Then he'll be upset at his husband for being an idiot.
"Don't worry about it," John says. "Rest now. We'll talk about it later."
Sherlock nods and a moment later his eyes are drooping closed again. John pulls the chair over and retakes his seat by his husband's bedside.
It was a long day at the clinic. John walks into the flat, rubbing his hand over his face, and toes off his shoes.
"Sherlock?" he calls to his husband before hearing the quiet buzz of the television from upstairs. Since he'd broken his arm, Sherlock had taken to spending his afternoons in bed watching the telly. He said it was easier to rest his arm comfortably while in bed. John had just accepted this as a Sherlock quirk and vowed not to worry about it until the cast came off. If Sherlock continued to spend large amounts of time in bed then the doctor would worry.
"Up here," comes the baritone and John begins to climb the stairs. The doctor enters the bedroom pleased to see that Sherlock has at least dressed today.
He is engrossed, though, staring at the television eyes wide and enchanted. It is a look John almost exclusively associates with Sherlock's cases. He's learning something. Sherlock loves to learn new things.
Sherlock glances up at his husband then points at the telly. "Look," he says. John walks to his side of the bed and climbs in. He sits against the headboard and Sherlock turns laying his head in John's lap. John settles his fingers in Sherlock's hair and looks at the telly.
There are bees crawling over the screen. Just then the narrator explains that this is one of the largest natural hives in the world. The bees established themselves in a series of dead trees, almost completely hollowed out by decomposition.
"There is some concern that the trees will collapse," Sherlock says sounding genuinely anxious about the well-being of the insects. "They are going to try and relocate them from the trees. They think it will take several years." John nods, pulling a curl between his index finger and thumb.
On the telly, the bees start moving in the white boxes that John associates with beekeepers, apparently they are trying to woo the bees into the boxes and out of the trees. Sherlock is engrossed, but John couldn't care less. He stays though, running his fingers through his husband's hair.
"I want to own bees someday," Sherlock says and John stops moving his fingers.
"Are you serious?" John asks, genuinely interested.
Sherlock adjust, careful of his arm, so that he's on his back. He can look at the telly and at John now. "Yes," he says. "One day. We can buy a small piece of property and I can keep bees and you can, I don't know, fix cars or something."
John laughs, tipping his head back and resting it against the head board. "What about me leads you to believe that I have any desire at all to fix cars?"
Sherlock shrugs his shoulders and stares up at his husband. "You could have a small village practice," he says knowing this is a prospect that John finds appealing. "Keep your own hours, know all of your patients, really help people. And I can keep bees."
"You mean retire like proper working blokes," John says and Sherlock nods, turning back to the television.
John wakes up with the familiar warm body pressed on top of him. It amazes him that even after 10 years as a married couple he still wakes up more days than not with Sherlock sprawled on top of him. He smiles and places a kiss onto the spot on his husband's forehead that he can reach. Sherlock lets out a quiet hum and snuggles closer to John.
John looks him over, taking in the calm that is still so rare with Sherlock. His hair is coming in white now at his temples and a few places across his head. He'd fought it at first, pulling them out meticulously. He's accepted it now; he believes it makes him looks distinguished. John is secretly glad that it's growing in white and soft and that it looks like Sherlock will avoid all the coarse greys.
John enjoys it, not so much the aging, but the realisation that they have been together all these years. They are still married, very happily, and they will be for the rest of their lives. He knew that initially there had been doubters, there still might be, but they had made it this far and will continue. He knows that.
Sherlock turns his head, beginning to wake up. When they are lying like this he never sleeps long after John wakes up. He says the change in John's heartbeat, from sleeping to awake, alerts him that John is fully conscious. John has no idea what it is really, but he likes it. He likes not having to wait.
"Happy anniversary," he says, placing another kiss onto Sherlock's head. He feels the smile on Sherlock's lips as the detective's face turns into his chest. He presses a kiss there.
"Happy anniversary," Sherlock offers, his voice still husky from sleep.
"Do you want your present now?" John asks and Sherlock looks up. His eyebrow raises and John rolls his eyes in mock offense. "It's been ten years now, we don't have sex anymore."
Sherlock huffs, letting out a little chuckle as he adjusts on top of John. John reaches over and opens the bedside table. He brings out the thick envelope and offers it to Sherlock. The detective seems surprised that there is really a gift already. John is famous for holding out until the end of the evening. He's excited about this one though and if it is well received it will dictate what they do today.
Sherlock props up and takes the envelope. He opens it pulling out the collection of paperwork. The top one is a picture of a small house. Sherlock frowns at it before turning the page. He starts to read the wording before his eyes go big. He pushes up off of John and sits, straddling his thighs as he continues to read.
"John?" He says, frowning then glancing at his husband and back at the paper work. He flips to the next page and lets out a quiet gasp.
"John," he says again. "I, I, I don't. How?" He looks at his husband. "You bought a house outside of Brighton."
"I did," John says unable to keep the smile off his face. Truly surprising Sherlock is a rare feat. "It needs a lot of work, but I figure we had time. And you can keep bees - in fact they're already there."
"The house includes bees?" he asks, truly amazed. His eyes alight with excitement and curiosity.
"It does. There is a deal in place now where the man who lives next door will take care of them." Sherlock frowns at that, John almost laughs. Sherlock is already protective of the bees and he's known about them for 50 seconds.
"I bought the house from an elderly woman, the bees were a hobby of her husband and when he passed away 7 years ago she set up an arrangement with the couple next door. He maintains the hives and she gets all the honey she wants. I told him that we'd probably set up a deal like that until we are ready to move to Brighton permanently."
Sherlock looks over the paperwork again. "Is he competent?" He asks and John almost laughs again.
"Well, he's done it for 7 years and they are still there. He collects the honey. His wife makes candles. They sell them at a flea market in the nearest village. They have young kids and probably use the extra money. We don't really need that so I think it's a good arrangement for now."
Sherlock nods, accepting John's logic.
"Can we go there now? Today?" John had expected this. His husband wasn't one for waiting. The doctor clasps his hands on the detective's thighs.
"Let me up and we'll go." Sherlock practically bounces off the bed, landing nimbly next to the dresser where he starts to pull clothing out of the drawer. John stands and goes to the closet. He reaches up to pull a pair of jeans out and feels two arms wrap around his waist.
"Thank you," Sherlock says, placing a kiss into the doctor's neck. John smiles again, pleased that he's done well. Pleased that Sherlock was surprised.
The house is small, very small, but it isn't as if they need much room. It is still bigger than the flat after all. The kitchen is particularly antiquated and in desperate need of updates. John has already started looking at new appliances and determining what would fit and where. He thinks they might be able to add more cabinet space if they tear down the wall and cut into the space for the dining room. He and Sherlock don't need a formal dining room for anything. There are two bedrooms, Sherlock can do his experiments in one of them and John has always succeeded in working from anywhere.
The flooring needs replacing, too. The linoleum in the kitchen and hallway are yellowed from age and the atrocious colouring of the 1970's. The carpet throughout the rest of the house is newer, but not much. It's seriously worn in places and a hideous pinkish hue. Those are all easy fixes, though, and minor.
The house had a new roof put on less than a year ago, and a plumbing and electrical overhaul 2 years ago. It is a good and stable house. It just needs some help aesthetically. Sherlock doesn't seem to be aware of any of that. He walks around each room, taking it in, probably determining how many children lived here and what type of careers they have now. John just watches him.
"There is no furniture here," Sherlock says. "Or rather very little furniture here." They both turn to the plastic chair that is sitting in the middle of the kitchen.
"Nope," John says, "We'll have to get some. It needs a lot of work before we get to that though. My vote goes to starting with the floor, expanding the kitchen, and getting new appliances."
Sherlock nods, looking down at the floor, apparently taking it in for the first time. His nose wrinkles with slight disgust and he meets his husband's eyes again. "That is an excellent plan. However, I wasn't so much interested in the flooring or the chair. I was thinking that this means our options for sex are, for now, kitchen counter or floor. Neither are ideal, however, the floor seems more logical - neither of us are as young as we used to be."
John laughs at that. They are most definitely past their counter fucking days. They still do it standing up in the shower on a fairly regular basis and they can probably make that work, but it'll have to wait. He wants Sherlock to see the bees.
He holds out his hand and Sherlock closes the distance between them. He takes the proffered hand and pulls John towards him. Their lips lock and when John feels the familiar touch of Sherlock's tongue he pulls back.
"Let's go see your bees." Sherlock frowns and a part of John is relieved that he is still more interesting than Sherlock's precious insects. He wonders how long that will last.
"Let's go see the bees," John repeats, "And meet Lawrence, the man who takes care of them. They live just on the other side of the small wooded area."
Sherlock looks his husband up and down and shakes his head. "The bees are going to have to wait."
John watches as Sherlock drops to his knees in front of him. John's breath hitches slightly at the sight. Sherlock looks up at him with smirk on his face.
"You bought a house for us for our anniversary and it's perfect. You bought me bees, John, wonderfully complicated and beautiful bees." He uses his fingers to start to work on John's belt. "You are absolutely the most perfect human on the planet and I'm going to offer you just a fraction of my eternal gratitude."
John watches as Lawrence shows Sherlock the different ways to approach the hive. The new appliances are being delivered today, along with their bed. They will be spending their first night in their house tonight and John can't wait. He's going to retire here. He's going to spend his golden years watching Sherlock keep bees and collect honey and make candles.
The desire to learn how to make candles had surprised John the most. When he'd first introduced Sherlock to Lawrence and his wife, Amy, Sherlock had become fascinated with all the different designs Amy was able to make. He'd insisted that he be able to watch her and she'd happily agreed.
Sherlock is going there tomorrow to do just that while John spends his day organising their new furniture, hanging pictures, and finding places for the items that will permanently reside here. John can work his clinic shifts so that he can get a 4-day weekend every month so they plan to come here for all of those. They might try and squeeze in an extra weekend every few months.
Except if a case interferes, of course. Those still come first.
John continues to watch as the bees swarm around his husband. The pattern is obviously not aggressive and Sherlock moves slowly as he pulls something out of the hive. Even from far off John can see the dark pattern as the bees swarm all around it. Sherlock doesn't falter though and John smiles realizing that right this very second his husband is living out one of his lifelong dreams.
It's fascinating to watch.
Whatever is in Sherlock's hand is placed into a container and Lawrence gestures for them to start walking away. John continues to watch the slow retreat and once at a safe distance Sherlock pulls his netted helmet off, says something quickly to Lawrence and heads towards John.
The doctor can see the smile long before he can make out the details of his husband's face. Sherlock is ecstatic, as happy as John has ever seen him. It makes the doctor feel amazing inside.
Sherlock is unscrewing the jar as he approaches John and is reaching inside. John still can't make it out.
As Sherlock steps to the front door he holds out an index finger. John can see the slight golden substance resting on the tip of the finger and realises what it is.
"You first," Sherlock says and John opens his mouth. He darts his tongue out and Sherlock places his finger against it. It has the familiar sweet taste that he enjoys most mornings, but it is slightly different. Slightly better.
He closes his eyes and sucks is husband's finger into his mouth. He sucks on it a moment, enjoying the taste of the honey mixed with the taste of Sherlock. A second later Sherlock is pulling his finger away and replacing it with his lips. He tongue dives into John's mouth trying to get a hint of the honey.
They pull apart when they hear the truck coming down the road. They look up to see it turn into their small drive.
"It's the bed," Sherlock says, reading the name of the store on the side.
"With a bed this can be home." The doctor's words make Sherlock turn and look at him. He glances quickly at the jar in his hand and then back up at his husband.
"You make it home, John." John stands open mouthed for a moment as Sherlock puts the lid back on his jar. The detective walks into the house, leaving John to greet the delivery men.