Title: The Art of Persuasion
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Warnings: Sherlock/John kissage.
Spoilers: None really.
Summary: Sherlock sketching John on a boring afternoon.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns the rights to Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them.
Author's Notes: This was written for a prompt on BBC Sherlock's Make Me a Monday. The prompt was Sherlock as his famous artist relative painting John, who was a French soldier. That didn't really strike a cord with me, but what did was the idea of present day Sherlock sketching John on a boring afternoon. The prompt is: Prompt from Rachelindeed on The Game is On's Make Me a Monday #59: "I would love to see a story that casts Sherlock as Vernet and John as a soldier he paints, either in Paris or in the Crimea or both." I didn't exactly do that but I hope she likes it.
Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch for making this Sherlock so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Emma de los Nardos and Gemma for the super-fast beta jobs. Your input was invaluable and I owe you both so much! And my biggest thank yous to my biggest influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
The Art of Persuasion
"Absolutely not!" John's voice is indignant and slightly horrified.
"Oh, come on, John. I'm sure it still fits."
"That's not the point, Sherlock. And the answer is still no." John shakes his head at the frown on Sherlock's face.
"Fine," Sherlock huffs, throwing himself down on the sofa. "Be that way."
"You won't guilt me into it," John replies, going back to his book. "Find something else to do."
The flat is quiet for a few minutes and John is just starting to get back into his novel when he sees Sherlock move in his peripheral vision. He looks up to see Sherlock watching him over his shoulder.
"Can I borrow your gun?"
John shifts, pulling at the top button of his shirt. Sherlock was right; it does still fit, but that doesn't make it any more comfortable. He looks in the mirror, adjusting his tie and jacket and straightening his epaulets. He's startled when a sharp thread of panic winds to his stomach, but he realizes that he shouldn't be surprised. The last time he wore this uniform was when he was getting off the transport from Afghanistan. He didn't really associate it with happy memories.
He frowns at his reflection. How the hell had Sherlock talked him into this? He distinctly remembers saying no when Sherlock first brought it up.
He'd expected that Sherlock was going to come up with something for them to do today. They had no cases on, Sherlock was fighting his boredom, and the weather outside had turned wintery, with howling wind and sleet beating against the windows. This was the usual recipe for Sherlock to come up with odd ideas, such as the two of them deconstructing rare poisons at the kitchen table. So, John had been taken off guard when Sherlock approached him with a sketch book in his hands.
"John? Would you mind modeling for me?"
John had choked on his tea, desperately struggling to keep it from coming out his nose.
"I'm…I'm sorry? What did you just ask me?"
"You heard me," Sherlock sighed.
"Yes, but I'm not sure I understand," John said, mopping tea off the table with his napkin. "You want me to model for what?"
"I thought I might sketch today," Sherlock replied quietly, not meeting John's eyes. "With weather like this, we aren't likely to get any cases and I don't really feel like hauling out all my equipment for random experiments. It's been ages since I've drawn anything, so I thought I might give it another go."
"You draw?" John tried not to sound shocked. It sounded like too pedestrian a hobby for a man like Sherlock.
Sherlock just nodded, clutching his sketchbook closer.
"Are you any good?"
"Well, I am related to Vernet," Sherlock said with a shrug.
"Yes, but are you any good?" John asked with a smile.
"I don't know," Sherlock responded. "I personally don't think I'm too bad."
"Well, what do other people say?" John asked.
"I've never shown my work to anyone else," Sherlock said.
"Ever?" John was shocked.
"Why would I?" Sherlock asked. "I do it for my own enjoyment. Why would I care what other people think?"
John didn't really have an answer. He wanted to ask Sherlock if he could see the sketchbook, but he couldn't think of a good way to do that, so he just looked at the other man.
"What is your answer then?" Sherlock asked, breaking across the silence.
"Well, what exactly did you have in mind?" John asked, getting up from the table to put his mug in the sink.
"I'm not entirely sure," Sherlock admitted. "I thought we could try a few things and see what strikes me."
John looked up as the wind rattled the sitting room window and the light from outside faded another notch.
"I suppose so," John said. "The only thing I would do on a day like this is read. Where do you want me?"
Sherlock moved John all over the sitting room, posing him in various ways, stepping back to frown at the results. After an hour and a half, John started to lose patience. When Sherlock still wasn't satisfied an hour later, John gave up and sat down with his book.
"I've got it!" Sherlock's excited voice startled John and he looked up frowning.
"You've got what?" John asked suspiciously.
"The perfect idea of how to sketch you. You should wear your uniform. I'll draw you as a war hero."
John is pretty sure he said no, so how was it he was standing here in full dress uniform? Well, Sherlock did have a way of persuading people, especially when his boredom solutions involved firearms. John figured he may as well get this over with.
After a moment's hesitation, John sighs again and descends the stairs. He walks into the sitting room wondering what Sherlock has in mind for his great masterpiece.
"Took you long enough," Sherlock grumbles, not looking up.
Before John can reply, Sherlock looks up at him and his eyes widen. He slowly gets to his feet, his eyes never leaving John. He walks all the way around John, taking in the whole look of the uniform, Sherlock's expression is neutral, but his eyes are wide and sparkling.
"Acceptable?" John asks nervously.
"Very," Sherlock replies, his voice low. John is surprised to see a flush on Sherlock's pale cheeks. Sherlock shakes his head and coughs. "Yes, well, where should we put you?"
Fifteen minutes later, John is standing just in front of the window, facing the glass. Sherlock had decided that the natural light reflected well on John's skin. He tries to stand still, but this modeling thing has turned out to be a lot more boring than he'd originally thought. John shifts slightly, moving his weight from one leg to the other.
"Will you stop fidgeting?" Sherlock snaps.
"I can't believe you talked me into this," John replies, trying not to move.
"You could have said no," Sherlock says absently.
"I did say no!" John exclaims. "You threatened to shoot the wall."
"I did no such thing," Sherlock responds.
"You implied it."
"Could you please stop talking?" Sherlock asks. "I'm trying to draw the area around your mouth."
"Sorry," John says.
"John, that's still talking."
John tries not to laugh, he really does, but there is something in Sherlock's tone that strikes him as funny and he just can't help it. He presses his lips together in a vain attempt to stop the giggles, but that just seems to make it worse.
"John," Sherlock sighs, exasperation in his tone.
"Sorry," John says again, trying to stop the laughing. He takes a deep breath, calming himself.
"Think of something horrible," Sherlock says. "Death, mayhem, Mycroft."
"Stop it," John grumbles, falling once again into helpless laughter. "You're making it worse."
"Lestrade? Oh, Lestrade and Mycroft kissing."
"Sherlock!" John's whole body is shaking with laughter and he looks over to see that Sherlock is laughing too.
"Puppies," Sherlock says and John is confused.
"Lestrade and Mycroft kissing puppies?"
"I was going to suggest starving homeless puppies," Sherlock says, trying to suppress his own laughter. "But if that horrifies you, go with it."
Both men give in to the laughter for a couple of minutes. Every time John tries to calm himself down, he looks at Sherlock and they both get started all over again. Finally, John is all laughed out. His stomach hurts and he's having trouble catching his breath. He leans against the wall and breathes deeply.
"Better?" Sherlock asks with a smile.
"For the moment," John sighs. "As long as I don't think about Lestrade, Mycroft, or puppies."
"Alright, where were you?" Sherlock asks, coming over to put John back into his pose. "You were standing like this, I think. Your arm was like this. Tilt your head, please. Now, your mouth. It was like…"
Sherlock puts his hand on John's face, using his fingers to push John's lips into whatever position he thinks they should be. At first it strikes John as a bit odd and he tries to comply, loosening his lips so that Sherlock can shape them. Then one of Sherlock's fingers accidently slips between John's lips and he can't stop the startled gasp as he feels a shock all the way to his groin.
Sherlock's eyes go wide and he steps back quickly.
"Yes, well…that should be…good enough."
John has rarely heard Sherlock this unnerved. He looks over to see Sherlock staring resolutely at his sketch pad, yet he isn't drawing anything. There is dark color to his pale face and he appears to be muttering to himself. John frowns.
Sherlock shakes his head, neither replying nor looking up. He does, however still seem to be muttering and John picks up the words, "stupid" and "ruin everything."
"Sherlock?" John tries again.
Sherlock's shoulders slump and he suddenly closes the sketchbook.
"You were right," Sherlock says quietly. "This was a bad idea. I'm sorry."
He turns and bolts for his room. It takes John all of thirty seconds to follow him. He gets there just as the door is slamming shut and he catches it before it can latch. He steps into the room, looking around. Sherlock is standing with his back to John, his head down, his hands clenched at his side.
"Sherlock?" John's voice is gentle this time, barely above a whisper, but Sherlock jumps, whipping around to face him.
"We don't knock anymore?" Sherlock snaps, but there isn't really any anger to his voice.
"I got to the door before it closed," John replies with a shrug. "I didn't think that required a knock."
"What is it you want?" Sherlock asks, still looking at the floor.
"I want to know why you ran away."
"I told you, it was a bad idea."
"That's not really an answer," John says, taking a step forward. He's surprised when Sherlock takes a step backwards, keeping a large space between them. "Did I do something wrong?"
"Of course not," Sherlock says.
"Then what's got you so upset?" John takes another step forward and Sherlock's answering back-step has him against his bed, nowhere to go. "Why are you trying so hard to get away from me? Why won't you even look at me?"
"John…" Sherlock is at a loss for words and just shakes his head.
"Talk to me," John says. "I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong."
Sherlock laughs a jagged, humorless laugh, still shaking his head.
"You think I won't help you?" John asks. "I'm your friend. Of course I'll help you."
"If I told you, you wouldn't be my friend anymore," Sherlock says, his voice just above a whisper.
John frowns, trying to put together what's happening. Sherlock is normally so predictably tempered. Cases excite him, stupidity angers him, inactivity frustrates him. This self-disparagement, this doubt is so not Sherlock and it's starting to worry John. What set this off? He thinks back, frowning in concentration.
Everything had been so relaxed, they'd been joking and laughing. Then John had gone back to posing and Sherlock… Suddenly the image of Sherlock's hands on his face, finger in his mouth comes flooding back. He pushes aside the resulting heat in his stomach and thinks, really thinks. That was when Sherlock's whole demeanor changed. Had Sherlock realized how that exchanged had affected John? Was he completely disgusted by it? No, he didn't seem upset at John, he was angry at himself…
And then John knows. He can suddenly see all Sherlock's expressions and reactions for what they are and he feels stupid for not seeing it before. If only he'd understood that Sherlock felt the same way he did, they wouldn't have wasted so much time. Now, how does he get the brilliant detective to see it? How does he make Sherlock realize that John dreams about him at night, imagines his touch, his kiss? In Sherlock's current mood, John knows that simply telling him won't be well received. He considers just kissing Sherlock, but he thinks that might not be the best idea either. But maybe if he… John smiles as an idea comes to him.
"Sherlock?" John's voice is gentle and Sherlock looks up at him. "Maybe the sketching wasn't working because we had the wrong location. Maybe something more relaxed would be better."
John watches emotions chase through Sherlock's eyes, the last one being resignation.
"Where would you suggest we relocate to?" Sherlock asks, his voice empty.
"Well, how about here?" John says. "I could lie on your bed and you could sketch a wounded war hero."
Sherlock's eyes flash and he frowns.
"I don't think I'm comfortable with that," he says.
"Okay," John says, trying a new idea. "Could I see what you already have? If I knew what look you were going for, I might have better suggestions."
Sherlock manages to look even more uncomfortable, but he nods, opening the sketchbook and handing it to John. Vernet had a knack for faces and form and John has to admit that Sherlock inherited his relative's talent. The rough sketch looks very much like John, the stance, the build, the hair. What's missing is the face. There's a vague outline, but Sherlock hadn't gotten to John's features yet. From the marks on the paper, it looks like he tried, got frustrated, erased, and started again.
"Had a bit of trouble with my face?" John asks, looking up.
"Couldn't get it like I see it in my head," Sherlock mumbles.
"Maybe you just need to study it more," John says. He moves to sit on the bed and gestures for Sherlock to sit next to him. Sherlock looks like he might be having a mild stroke.
"What are you suggesting?" Sherlock asks, his voice unsteady.
"Just come sit down," John replies.
After a moment's hesitation, Sherlock does, putting three feet between them.
"You're going to have to get closer than that," John says with a smile. When Sherlock's brow furrows, John continues. "It's for your art after all. I think you can make the sacrifice."
Sherlock draws a deep breath and moves next to John.
"Now what?" Sherlock asks.
"Touch my face," John says simply. "Run your fingers over it, use your touch to map out what you're going to draw."
Sherlock draws back, panic in his eyes.
"I…that's highly inappropriate. I can't ask that of you."
"I want you to do it," John says quietly. He looks up at Sherlock, his heart in his eyes. "I want you to touch me."
Sherlock's eyes go huge and he looks at John incredulously. John sits patiently, watching as Sherlock studies him, trying to parse out what he's really saying. Sherlock's brow furrows.
"John?" He asks, his voice just above a whisper, trembling slightly.
John smiles and nods at him and Sherlock's face is full of wonder. He reaches out, his fingers shaking, and touches John's cheek, stroking lightly across the bone. John leans into the touch, watching Sherlock's face as he realizes that John is serious. John smiles at the happiness he sees there. Sherlock licks his lips nervously.
"Maybe we could combine both your ideas." Sherlock says uncertainly.
"Meaning?" John asks.
"Well…maybe it would be more relaxed if you were to lie on the bed and maybe I should learn your face better."
John stands up and begins to take his coat off, but Sherlock stops him.
"No, leave it on. I…I very much like how the uniform looks on you."
John smiles and nods. He sits back down on the bed and scoots over until he is lying on the pillow. He can't help but notice how much like Sherlock it smells and he closes his eyes and inhales. He opens his eyes to see Sherlock staring at him, his breathing shallow.
Sherlock moves to sit next to him and John's heartbeat speeds up. Sherlock reaches out, starting with John's forehead, stroking those long, sensitive fingers along the creases in John's skin, his touch like feathers. Back and forth, lightly teasing, occasionally, his touch extends back to John's hairline. John relaxes, taking this time to study Sherlock's face. Yes, he'd dreamed of this, but he never thought he'd really be this close to Sherlock in this way.
Sherlock's fingers move down to John's eyebrows, and he lightly scrapes a fingernail the opposite direction of the hair. Sharp flutters shoot down John's spine and he draws in a breath, surprised that something so simple can feel so sexual. Sherlock smiles down at him, and moves his touch to the bridge of John's nose. He strokes up and down, seemingly fascinated by the curving dip. John is surprised how soft Sherlock's fingers feel. If he concentrates, he can detect the ridges of old scars, likely from experiments gone wrong, but for a man who works with acids and deadly poisons, Sherlock's fingers feel like velvet on his skin. John expects him to continue down his nose, but Sherlock diverts to his eyes, using his ring finger to trace along the skin on John's eyelid. No one has ever touched him there this way and John had no idea that skin would be so sensitive. He can feel his body responding to Sherlock's touch and his breath hitches as Sherlock continues.
As Sherlock moves down John's face, he pushes his palm up along John's cheek and the electricity John feels at the expanded contact pulls a quiet moan from him. Encouraged, Sherlock draws his hand down John's jaw and under his chin, stoking circles. He cups John's chin in his palm and reaches his fingers up to tease the edge of John's mouth. John opens his mouth, drawing a ragged breath and Sherlock moves to drag his index finger along John's lower lip. He slowly traces around John's entire mouth and by the time he gets back to his starting point, John is beginning to feel overwhelmed. His breath is coming in gasps and he feels his whole body trembling.
John closes his eyes, trying to regain control and he's surprised when he feels Sherlock remove his fingers from John's skin. Before he can protest, he feels another feathering touch against his lips and a jolt goes through him as he recognizes that this time, it's Sherlock's tongue doing the tracing. John whimpers and involuntarily arches up into it, his mouth claiming Sherlock's in a desperate kiss.
Sherlock stiffens and gasps in surprise, but then his hands come up to hold John's face and he leans into the kiss, his mouth parting under John's. Any semblance of control that John had is gone and he's kissing Sherlock for all he's worth, shifting under him, pulling the taller man on top of him. Sherlock complies, stretching out along John and John arches up against him shamelessly. His mind shuts down completely when Sherlock starts thrusting back against John.
John breaks the kiss, gasping in air and Sherlock pulls back to look down at him.
"Are you sure about this, John?" Sherlock asks, his voice shaking. "If you aren't…"
John arches up, silencing Sherlock with a kiss.
"Yes, I'm very sure," he says against Sherlock's lips. "I don't think I've ever been more sure of anything in my life."
He feels Sherlock smile against his mouth and he kisses him again. Sherlock's hands trail down the side of John's face and suddenly he's undoing John's tie.
"I thought you liked the uniform," John teases, breaking the kiss to make things easier for Sherlock.
"I do," Sherlock says, stopping what he's doing to look at John.
His fingers reach out and trail down over the rough material of the uniform. He pauses to touch John's medals, tracing the edges of the Military Cross John was awarded for saving the lives of half his unit. He circles his finger slowly around the silver OSM that John received for serving in Afghanistan, pausing to touch the bar at the top. Sherlock's brows come together as he moves to touch the medal John received for being wounded. Before John can ask, Sherlock moves up to run his finger along the RAMC regimental pin attached to John's lapel. He traces the words, In Arduis Fidelis and finds them oddly fitting; his John, always faithful in adversity.
"Sherlock?" John asks, wondering what's going on in that amazing brain.
"Hm?" Sherlock looks up and smiles. "It's nothing. I was just thinking how remarkable you are, irrespective of me. You had a whole life and were a hero long before I was a factor. I think I sometimes forget that."
John arches an eyebrow and Sherlock laughs.
"What, you thought I only saw you as my blogger? That your life didn't begin until you met me?"
John reaches up and touches the side of Sherlock's face.
"It didn't start until I met you," he whispers and Sherlock's eyes go wide and defenseless as John moves in to kiss him again.
John opens his eyes, squinting against the sun streaming in the window. It takes him a second to realize that he isn't in his own bed and it takes another breath for his brain to register that Sherlock isn't next to him. John sits up, gasping and disoriented. Had it all been another dream? Then why was he naked in Sherlock's bed? If it wasn't, where was Sherlock?
The door opens and Sherlock comes in, wearing nothing but his robe and carrying two mugs of tea. He looks at John and stops, tipping his head.
"Everything all right?" Sherlock asks, putting one mug on the bedside table for John.
"It is now," John says, smiling.
Sherlock looks puzzled, then his eyes widen.
"Are you saying that you missed me?"
"I'm saying that I'm glad you came back," John replies.
Sherlock climbs into the bed and snuggles next to John, careful not to spill his tea.
"I'll always come back," Sherlock whispers. He takes John's hand. "I woke up early and thought you might want some tea."
"Couldn't sleep?" John asks, taking the mug from the bedside table. "Anything wrong?"
"Too happy to sleep," Sherlock responds, smiling shyly at John.
"Then I don't feel so bad for keeping you up late," John says, running his thumb over the back of Sherlock's hand. "So what did you do besides make tea?"
"I finished the sketch," Sherlock says, reaching for his book. "Well, I started all over again, but I like this one better."
He hands John the book and John is struck by the level of trust he realizes this represents as he puts his tea to the side, out of spilling range. Sherlock's never shared his sketches with anyone before, but for the second time in less than twenty-four hours, he's giving the book to John. John can't help but smile. He looks at the drawing. It's a bit odd to see himself, portrayed so accurately, eyes closed, hair tussled. He wonders for a minute if his lips really look that sensitive and his neck is that long.
"Well?" Sherlock asks and John can hear the apprehension in his voice.
"It's amazing," John says sincerely. "You really have some talent. If you are ever willing, I'd love to see what else you've done."
Sherlock is looking at him, a slight smile playing on his lips.
"Maybe after breakfast."
John nods, looking back at the picture of himself.
"So, what is this one called? Wounded Soldier? War Hero at Rest?"
Sherlock looks at John again, then looks at the floor.
"I was leaning towards, 'The Other Half of My Heart,'" he says, his voice just above a whisper.
John's heart slams in his chest and he's moving before he even thinks about it, putting the book to the side and taking Sherlock in his arms.
"I think that's a wonderful title," John says and he moves in to kiss Sherlock again.
He feels Sherlock respond and senses the happiness rolling off him and John can't help but smile. Things have an odd way of working out but sometimes it all comes out for the best. Especially if the best has him with Sherlock, he thinks, losing himself in their kisses.