Title: What Follows After

Series: Second in the Follow My Voice series (2nd of 3)

Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky

Fandom: Sherlock

Rating: R

Word Count: 2684

Pairing: Sherlock/John – Pre Couple

Warnings: Discussion of sex and Sherlock/John kissage

Spoilers: None really.

Summary: After a night where John talked Sherlock through an intimate act, Sherlock now has to decide what he wants and where this should go. Can he let go of his fears enough to let John in?

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 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. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)

Author's Notes: When I published Follow My Voice, I got a lot of requests to see the talk the boys were going to have the next day. Here it is. There will also be a third one, where Sherlock returns the favor. 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. Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me and her wonderful encouragement. And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)

What Follows After

Night was falling on 221B Baker Street as John sat at the kitchen table with a mug of tea. He felt a bit lazy today, having only been awake for five hours, but after staying up with Sherlock most of the night, he'd slept straight through lunch. John had checked on Sherlock a couple of times, but he hadn't really expected Sherlock to be up at all today. John had been tired, catching only a few quick naps over the five days of their case, but Sherlock had stayed up the entire time and the only phrase John had to cover that was, "burned out." He wouldn't be surprised if Sherlock slept for the next two days.

Of course, that gives John more time to think about how he wants to handle what had happened last night. When John had set out to guide Sherlock through a quick physical release to relax him, he hadn't intended for it to turn into voice sex. But watching Sherlock pleasuring himself had done something to John, had tapped into feelings that he'd been trying to deny for months, and he couldn't just be a disinterested bystander. His words had become very personal and in the end, it had been him bringing Sherlock to orgasm. The completely shocking part had been Sherlock screaming out John's name with such passion during his release. Utterly unexpected, though not unwanted by John. The question now was what were they going to do about it?

John sighs. In the end, he supposes, the answer to that is up to Sherlock.

xxxxxxxxx

The first thing Sherlock is really aware of is how soft and warm the sheets feel against his skin. The comforting weight of the blankets and soft, familiar sounds from the street below quickly follow. Sherlock snuggles down into his bed, pulling the blankets more tightly around him. He considers looking at the clock, but the effort involved in opening his eyes just seems to be too much. He is so tired and his brain just wants to stay in this sleepy limbo for a bit longer.

A quiet noise comes from somewhere in the flat, nothing alarming, just the sound of someone moving around. John, his mind supplies for him. John is awake, likely making himself tea. It is comfortingly familiar, the image that comes to Sherlock's head. John, dressed in his pajamas, plugging in the kettle and gathering tea supplies. Just another typical morning at Baker Street with quiet, dependable John.

Something tugs at the back of Sherlock's thoughts and he almost dismisses it to go back to sleep, but then it slams forward with shocking clarity. Stroke yourself, Sherlock. John's voice, quiet in the darkness, breathless with passion. Let me see you, enjoy this, Sherlock. And then Sherlock's own voice, loud and desperate, screaming John's name.

Sherlock sits up in bed, his eyes wide. No, this has to be another of those annoyingly frequent sexual dreams he has about John. This one must have been brought on by the extreme exhaustion. There is no way that John would…that he would… Sherlock's whole body goes cold as he realizes that he's completely naked. He closes his eyes against the hazy memories of John helping him down the hall, arm around his waist. John tucking him under the covers and telling him to sleep. Wasn't there also something about talking with Sherlock today? Oh, Lord, this is not good. John knows how Sherlock feels and John wants to talk. Damn.

Sherlock lies back down, all thoughts of further sleep banished by the pounding of his heart. Now he's not sure what to do. His first instinct is to stay here and hide in his room. If he doesn't go out there, he and John can't have that talk. Sherlock is terrified of the talk. He knows exactly how it's going to go. John will tell him that while he likes Sherlock, he doesn't like Sherlock; he was just trying to help last night. Sherlock will tell him that he understands, because he does, after all, what would ever make him think John returns his interest? John will accept that, because John is just that way, and everything will go back to normal. Except that it won't. John won't be able to forget that Sherlock is attracted to him and everything Sherlock says and does will add to the tension between them and John will start to pull away. And then, John will leave; just like everyone else Sherlock has ever let get close to him.

Of course, Sherlock hadn't let himself get close to any of those other people. And maybe that was the problem here. He had let himself get close to John. It had been safe as long as it was John sharing his world, but he'd let himself become part of John's. He's not even really sure how that happened, but he actually remembers things like John's favorite brand of tea, the music he likes, his favorite color for God's sake. Sherlock isn't even sure he remembers his own favorite color, but when he purchased a blanket for the sitting room he picked green, because he knew John would like it. Last week when Sherlock had actually bought milk, he'd also picked up a package of John's favorite biscuits, feeling an absurd rush of happiness when John had thanked him and given him a smile.

Sherlock rubs his forehead, feeling out of his depth here. Sherlock prides himself on keeping his emotions under control. Emotions make you weak, emotions get you hurt. He didn't let people, even his own family, get into his heart. So, how the hell had John? The mere thought of John leaving steals his breath and Sherlock bites his lower lip in anger. This cannot be happening. He simply won't let it. Which probably would have been a good thing to keep in mind before he got naked last night.

Hiding from John seems like a good idea on the surface, but as Sherlock really has to go to the bathroom, it's rather untenable. He considers sneaking out, trying to dodge John, but the absurdity of that has him rolling his eyes. He lives with the man, so avoiding him is not an option. Sherlock gets out bed and looks for his robe. He hazily remembers that he left it in the sitting room with his pajamas and is right on the edge of swearing when he sees the robe and pajamas folded on his dresser. John must have put them there for him. How typically John. Sherlock pulls them on and sets himself to face his flatmate.

Sherlock opens the door and looks down the hall. Seeing it empty, he goes off to the bathroom. After finishing in there he gives serious thought to just going back to bed for the next few days.

"Sherlock?"

Sherlock looks up to see John leaning out the kitchen door, smiling at him. He fights the urge to run and turns to look at John.

"I thought you'd sleep later," John says. "Would you like some tea?"

"I…" Sherlock pauses, thinking about it. He was going to plead tired and go back to hiding, but really, he should just get it over with. "Yes, I think I would."

John smiles, turning back to the kettle and Sherlock pulls his emotional armor up around himself and follows.

"Did you get enough rest?" John asks, pulling out the tea.

"I…yes. Maybe," Sherlock replies, intently studying John, trying to assess his mood. He's confused by how relaxed John seems.

"I'll take that as a 'no'," John says, chuckling. "I'm going to have to send you to bed early tonight. Are you hungry? Maybe we should order take-away. I don't think we really have anything in the house and I slept most of the day."

Sherlock is just staring at him. His mind is processing what John is saying, but it seems too at odds with what Sherlock is feeling and he finds himself looking for hidden meanings.

"Sherlock? Are you all right?" John is looking at him, his brow furrowed, worry in his eyes.

"I'm fine," Sherlock says. He pulls his emotions tighter to him, girding himself for what he knows is coming. Might as well just get on with it. "John. About last night…"

John turns to him and holds up a hand.

"Can we get some food first?" he asks. "This is going to be a rather long discussion and I don't want to be interrupted."

"Long discussion?" Sherlock asks. How long can it take for John to tell him he's not interested? Of course, this is John, so he's likely going to try and make Sherlock feel better about it.

"Well, yeah," John says, his brow furrowing. "We need to hash everything out here."

"Ahh, yes," Sherlock says with a sigh. "But really, will it take that long?"

"It will if we do it right," John says. "I'm sorry, but I need to know exactly where you see this going and okay, with you that means we are going to make up a lot as we go, but we need to at least be on the same page here."

Sherlock blinks at John, completely confused. He didn't understand a word of that. He frowns, his brain trying to decode what John just said.

"I'm…same page?" Sherlock is normally much better with words, but this is the best he can do.

"Well, yeah," John says again. He smiles at Sherlock. "I'm assuming we'll be exclusive, but how serious are you wanting to be?"

"John, I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about."

John's eyes widen and Sherlock sees uncertainty there.

"I was talking about us."

"Us?"

"You…me…us? A couple? Or at least dating."

Sherlock blinks, his mind slip sliding, confusion and panic colliding. Did John just say…

"Dating?"

"Well, maybe not dating. We kind of skipped right over that, but I'd like to take you out, do things with you. I mean, I know you and all, but I'd still like to do it right."

Sherlock just stares at him, no words coming to him at all.

"Sherlock? Do you not…after last night I thought…" John stops talking and Sherlock sees actual pain in his eyes. "Oh. I…Yeah, sorry about that. I just thought…you know, never mind. You're right, we really don't need food, do we?"

John turns and leaves the kitchen and Sherlock hears him going up the stairs to his room. Well, that couldn't have gone worse if he'd tried. Sherlock sits for a minute assessing what John said. He saw them as a couple? Dating? But…Sherlock frowns. This was not anything close to what he'd expected. John wanted to be with him? John wanted to date him? So last night hadn't been all one-sided.

Sherlock takes a deep breath, his head spinning. What did he do now? It should be simple. John likes him, he likes John, they live happily ever after. But things never worked that way, especially for Sherlock. He likes someone, they tolerate him, and when they get to know him better, they run. Mostly, it doesn't bother Sherlock that it works out that way, but with John? If he lost John… The answer to that was to not let things get emotional with John. But it seems he's too late for that.

There is a noise behind him and he turns to see John walk into the kitchen.

"Sorry. I forgot my laptop." John picks it up off the table and turns to leave.

"John, wait." Sherlock knows he has to do something, he just isn't sure what. John looks at him. "John…I…this isn't…I can't."

"You've already made it clear you aren't interested," John replies. "Which I suppose I should have known. Married to your work and all."

"No…it's not." Sherlock takes a deep breath. "I am. Interested that is. But, John, I can't."

"Can't what?" John asks, frowning.

"I can't…it never works." Sherlock starts pacing the kitchen. "People leave. I leave. It's bad. I need you. If you leave, it's worse."

"Wait. Stop. Give me a second here." John rubs his thumb between his eyes. "Are you saying that you don't want to try because it could go bad?"

"John…you are my friend. My only friend. And my colleague. If we become a couple and you leave…"

"Every part of your life goes up in flames?" John supplies.

"Yes, exactly. And I can't…Without you…I get lost in my head…I can't think when I get lost in my head. How can I do my work? God, I'd lose my work…" Sherlock is starting to panic. His breath comes in short gasps and he stands there shaking his head.

Suddenly John is there, pulling him into an embrace.

"Calm down," John says quietly. "You are panicking for no reason. What makes you think it will go bad?"

"It always does. Once someone sees what I'm really like, they leave."

John laughs and Sherlock looks at him with a raised eyebrow.

"What makes you think I don't know what you're really like? I've lived with you for over a year. I know you're messy, but organized. You get depressed and bored and moody, but you can get really excited and happy too. You crave danger and excitement as much as I do. I know you can be rude and mean, but you don't intend to. You just don't think about what it'll sound like to someone who isn't you."

"John, my moods can get really dark and I don't think about other people at all."

"Says the man who brings me Penguin biscuits." When Sherlock glares at him John sighs. "You're talking about your drug use, aren't you?"

"John, it gets very bad."

"But you don't do that anymore."

"That doesn't mean I won't. And you need to understand that. Even I don't want to be around me when I'm using."

"Sherlock, when was the last time you took anything?"

"Three years ago," Sherlock says with a sigh. "But some days…it just feels so…you know?"

"Why don't you give in then?" John asks.

"I don't want to be that person anymore," Sherlock says. "And I know it would kill you to come home and find me passed out on the couch."

"Thought you didn't care about other people." John says with a smile.

"Apparently, you're different." Sherlock fights down the thread of panic that runs thought him. He shivers and John pulls him closer.

"Then let me be different," John whispers. "Look, we don't have to jump into anything. I'm not asking you to marry me. Let's just try and we'll see where it goes."

"And what does that entail?" Sherlock asks.

"We do things together, like watch a movie and have dinner."

"Don't we do that already?" Sherlock asks. "I know I wouldn't have watched Inglorious Bastards if you hadn't forced me to."

"Yes, but now we add snuggling to the movie watching." John smiles at him.

"We do?"

"Uh huh. And kissing and a little groping if you like."

"And what happens if it doesn't work out?" Sherlock asks, his voice very small. "What do I do when you can't even look at me and you leave?"

"Sherlock, if that was going to happen, I would have left months ago." John pulls back to look in his eyes. "I admit, there are days I can't stand you. But I still love you, as my best friend, and now as more. Those days I go for a walk and get over it. Because while I might want to do you bodily harm, I never want to think about a life without you."

Sherlock's eyes go wide and defenseless. He'd never considered that John could feel the same way he did. He wants to find words, to tell John that he needs him too, that he wants this life together, that he wants John, but all he can do is stare. John smiles at him and slowly leans forward. And then they are kissing and Sherlock gives in, savoring the feeling of having John so close to him.

John breaks the kiss and steps back. For a moment, Sherlock wonders if John's changed his mind, but John holds his hand out, smiling.

"Come on, let's go to bed."

To Be Continued...