Here's the last one! Thanks for your support so far. Reviews and constructive criticism still welcome!
Warnings: Excessive fluff. Post-hound, pre-fall.
Right On Time
John was sitting, just relaxing and reading, when Sherlock suddenly bounded in, looking happier than he had in a long time. John was been about to ask what new crime scene they had to visit when the consulting detective grabbed the television remote and turned to a channel. The opening credits for Doctor Who were just rolling onto the screen.
John jumped and looked at the time, realising he'd lost track. A few minutes later and he would have missed it…
Sherlock smiled at him sweetly. "Wouldn't want you to be grumpy because of that terrible memory of yours would we?"
John rolled his eyes. "You hate Doctor Who."
"But you don't."
A steaming cup of tea was pressed into his hands, and then Sherlock came and curled up beside him on the sofa, pressing far too close to him to be decent. Still, he'd just given him tea, so John cut him some slack.
The tea tasted good, actually. It didn't taste of soap, like the last time Sherlock had made it, or acid like it had the time before (thank goodness he'd only had one sip and spat the whole thing out). In fact, it was perfect.
He turned his attention away from the programme for a second; Sherlock's head was leaning on his shoulder, and despite the distaste he'd expressed in the past his eyes were watching the screen with slight interest. John suddenly realised he was missing the plot, so he looked back, and quickly forgot everything.
By the time it finished Sherlock had fallen asleep against his shoulder; John hadn't even noticed. Tentatively he pushed his cold tea onto a table and eased Sherlock very gently off him; the man was tired after a long case last week, which neither of them had fully recovered from yet, but he was desperate to pee, and it was hard to move over with his legs still crossed and an armful of consulting detective. His elbow jogged, catching Sherlock in the leg and for a second he froze, waiting…
Sherlock muttered something and turned over, burying his head into John's chest and wrapping his arms awkwardly around them. John groaned as Sherlock's weight rested on his already full bladder.
"Come on," he muttered, trying to pry the man off him. "Come on, you can sleep later, just let me pee…"
Sherlock only clung tighter, his fingers wrapping around John's shoulders and holding firmly. John shook his head in disbelief; how the man could feel safe to sleep anywhere near him after the first time was a mystery. He'd been prescribed some sleeping pills (which he rarely took) and some calming exercises to do before bed (which he always did) and she told him he was making progress. He wasn't entirely sure if he trusted her.
Sherlock suddenly twitched and his grip slackened; John seized the opportunity and made a dash for the toilet as silently as possible.
When he returned it was to find Sherlock had latched onto a cushion instead, cradling it close to his chest like a teddy; it made him wonder if Sherlock had ever had a soft toy as a child. To judge from the way he and Mycroft had turned out, probably not.
He perched on the arm of the sofa and pulled the blanket he'd brought down over Sherlock, and then pushed the curly hair out of his face. Maybe it had been the sad parts of the programme, but he felt protective.
For the first time he was realising why people thought they were a couple; sometimes he felt like they were almost a couple, but not. They spent most of their time together; he hadn't dated anyone in months, and they had that easygoing connection that came with people who knew each other so well nothing mattered any more.
On the one hand, there was the whole thing about being married to his work. Everyone's comments – Mycroft's, Irene's – had been enough to convince him that Sherlock didn't seem to like that kind of thing at all. But on the other, Sherlock did care, even though people thought he didn't. He'd thrown a man out of a window for hurting Mrs Hudson.
John cared a lot about Sherlock, and he hoped Sherlock cared about him.
Of course, he knew he did. The rescue from the tunnels with the Black Lotus, and the pool, and even the fact he hadn't kicked him out of the flat for being boring showed that. Sometimes though, he wondered. Sherlock didn't always speak to him, they had arguments, Sherlock called him an idiot, John called him insensitive, or worse. But no matter what happened they'd always gotten over it.
It was a sort of growing realisation that he wouldn't actually mind if Sherlock wanted to take things a step further. He knew he'd been trying to ignore the feeling, but perhaps, actually, it wouldn't kill him to admit he liked Sherlock in perhaps a not-entirely-platonic way. It didn't actually surprise him much - everyone thought it already, after all. It was just like one more person joining the general feeling that John Watson was, in fact, attracted quite strongly to Sherlock Holmes.
The thoughts were making his head ache, so he stepped upstairs to get ready for bed himself; it was early, but he thought he might as well catch up on sleep whilst he could. He didn't want to think about this when he was tired - his mind tended to leap to stupid conclusions when he was.
In the morning John was woken by Sherlock shifting and moving around downstairs. He sighed and leaned over to check the time, and was pleasantly surprised to see it was after ten. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had a Sunday lie-in.
He made his way to the bathroom much more cheerfully then usual, and twisted the cap off the toothpaste with a smile on his face. He liked brushing away the taste of the night, although he didn't understand why toothpaste had to come with twist-off caps these days; the flip ones were much easier to handle when you were still sleepy.
His eye caught the bath and he stared at it, frowning; the way Sherlock had been sitting there he'd returned to the flat, so jumpy and strange, had unnerved him. At first he'd feared the worse, but Sherlock's pupils had been normal when he'd checked them. He remembered leaving in a rage, weeks ago now, and then he'd realised that this wasn't what he wanted at all when he was halfway to Sarah's. Mycroft had texted him as well, but he'd already given the order to go back; the cabbie had thought he was crazy, wanting to turn around.
He replaced his toothbrush and stood in his pyjamas, and thought and thought. He'd been avoiding the subject last night, but it wasn't like him to run from a problem; he knew he had to think about this. He liked Sherlock, and he could live with that. But surely, Sherlock didn't like him back?
It was if his mind had finally opened up; all the little things lately, the way Sherlock looked and spoke, the way he'd snapped up any excuse to be close, made tea and reminded him about the television programme last night. John hadn't thought it odd before; Sherlock was always strange and irregular, but now it seemed to have been going on far too long to be just a phase. It had been happening since the argument, since he'd dared to stand up to Sherlock, and he understood – Sherlock was scared. He dared to think for a second that Sherlock was afraid of losing him, but then berated himself for being bigheaded; Sherlock had been tired and shaken up, maybe he'd even felt guilty, so he'd gone to more effort lately so he didn't lose the person who paid most of the rent. That was the explanation.
But then there was Donovan, who knew something she wouldn't repeat back to them; who, lately, had been shooting them both suspicious glances at crime scenes and had, in fact, not been as foul as was usual. Whatever Sherlock had said had shocked her, and the way her looks seemed when she looked at him sometimes; they were almost pitying.
John let his mind fall back to the time with the man with the ketamine, and suddenly the pieces began to fall into place, slotting into his mind like a jigsaw until he though he had the entire picture.
Sherlock had said he knew the feeling – the feeling of wanting to die for someone even after they'd gone. And John realised he would do exactly the same for Sherlock.
Of course, they might just have been friends – best friends might die for each other. But no, the man had been more than friends with the embezzler, Sherlock had said so, and the man hadn't denied it. And Sherlock had said, he'd said he knew what that man had felt like, in that one little snippet of empathy that had, without either of them realising it, shown John everything.
Sherlock was, or had been, in love with someone.
It could have been someone else. It could have been anyone, anyone at all, someone from Sherlock's past, a woman even, but John still raced down the stairs at a speed much too fast to be safe and collided with Sherlock in the hall; he was wearing his coat and scarf, getting ready to go somewhere.
Sherlock stared at him, arms wrapped around John's shoulders where he'd grabbed him to stop them both from falling over. John looked at him very carefully, but couldn't see anything that would show him what to do either way.
"Are you going to tell me what you said to Donovan in the Lakes?"
Sherlock blinked and hesitated. "John, I…"
"You don't have to. I don't mind." He did, but not as much as he minded passing this moment up.
In about five seconds they were going to be either very happy or very confused, but they were already confused so it didn't matter, really.
He leaned up and kissed him, only now remembering he was in his pyjamas with toothpaste smeared at the corner of his mouth; normal people would have pushed him away in disgust. But Sherlock, thank god, wasn't, and never had been, normal, and he carried on the kiss, very tentatively pushing their lips together.
It didn't last long, because John was out of breath from running down the stairs, but it was enough and it was good. He pulled away with some reluctance and took a shaky breath; Sherlock stared at him, shell-shocked, but the corner of his mouth was twitching up into a small smile.
"I'm not too late, am I?" said John breathlessly, unable to stop a smile reaching his own lips, stretching out until it was a kind of dazed grin.
Sherlock shook his head.
"No John. You're never too late."
John laughed. He was mad, he was sure – they were both wonderfully stark raving bonkers.
But for once he felt he was right on time.