Over the next few months, things settle between John and Sherlock and there's a comfortable domesticity at Baker Street. They work on cases and chase criminals and argue over whose turn it is to buy the milk and John feels like his life is perfect. He can now freely admit to himself that his feelings for Sherlock are much more than friendly, but he's okay with knowing they'll never be returned as long as he and Sherlock are getting along this well.

John keeps his blog updated and keeps up with the latest stories on the site. Everything goes along as normal until one early spring afternoon. John comes home from the surgery to find the flat empty. He frowns and sends a text.

Where are you? – J

On a case – S

Do you need my help?

No. Almost done. Be home in a couple of hours.

John nods, even through he knows no one can see it. He makes some tea and settles in to check his e-mail and update his blog. He's putting together the last case they did with the metallurgist and life guard who helped him smuggle precious alloys overseas. It should make for some entertaining reading. He's just typed the title; The Adventure of the Copper Beaches, when he realizes that he's missing some facts. John frowns. He should be able to find the information he needs on Sherlock's laptop.

He feels like it might be a violation to go into Sherlock's room and look, but then, Sherlock is always getting on his computer. And it is so he can type up a case. He'll be quick about it and he'll tell Sherlock when he gets home. Feeling better about that decision, he goes to Sherlock's room. Sherlock's laptop is on the dresser. He doesn't have it password protected, citing that no one ever gets on it but him, though John is pretty sure it's because he's too lazy to be bothered. John had tried to explain privacy protections to Sherlock, but right now, he's glad Sherlock ignored him.

John flips up the lid and the screen glows to life. There's a text document open, but John minimizes it, going for the folder with Sherlock's case files in it. He's just clicked that open when his mind finally catches up with him and he blinks. John's brows come together as he mulls over what he thought he read and where he read it. Just a fragment of a phrase, really. Sherlock dragged his tongue along John's collarbone and… Where the hell had that come from?

John pushes the back button to show a list of folder options, but those words aren't here anywhere. John frowns and looks at the text document. He hesitates a minute, then brings it up. His eyes go huge as he realizes what he's reading.

Sherlock pulls John closer, kissing him deeply. He cannot get enough of John's soft lips and the amazing little moans that John makes. Sherlock breaks the kiss, looking down into John's eyes.

"I love you so much. You have no idea how long I've wanted to tell you that."

"Why haven't you?" John asks, reaching out to stroke Sherlock's face.

"And risk losing you? No one has ever loved me, John and I would rather have you as a friend, then not have you at all."

"I would never leave you, Sherlock."

"Why not? Everyone else has. I'm…I'm not the man people fall in love with. When they see who I really am, everyone leaves.

"I'm not going anywhere," John says, pulling Sherlock against him. "I love you, so you might as well get used to it."

"Anything for you, John," Sherlock whispers, leaning in for another kiss.

John stands there, not knowing what to do. This is just like the writing on the fan site. John might even dismiss it as something Sherlock was reading from there, except this story isn't finished yet. That can only mean one thing and John just cannot get his mind around it.

He goes to the start menu and pulls up Recent Documents, right clicking on something called "John's Smile", telling the computer to bring up the file location. What he finds is a folder labeled, "Stories." John's eyes go even wider when he sees how many of these files have names that involve "John and Sherlock." Taking a deep breath, he opens one.

There's a header at the top, denoting the name of the story, the rating, the pairing, and the author. He can see he is reading something called, I Only Have Eyes For You that's rated NC-17, with a Sherlock/John pairing, written by SJComposer76. John is only mildly surprised when he sees the name of the author; he's actually surprised he didn't pick up on it before. John prepares himself and starts to read the story.

When he's done, John skims through most of the stories in the folder. Some of them he recognizes, including the Pakistan story. ($) They all have the same author and very similar themes. In each one, Sherlock harbors feelings of love and longing for John. In the end, Sherlock gives himself away and John figures it out, declaring his love for Sherlock. They fall in bed together and live happily ever after; or at least John assumes they do, as the stories usually leave them snuggling and content.

He's just opening one called I Would Move Heaven and Earth for You when he hears the front door open.

"John?"

John's first impulse is to close the computer and leave, but that's not going to solve the problem, so he pulls his courage around him.

"I'm in your room."

"What are you doing in here?" Sherlock asks, walking in and pulling his coat off.

He looks over to see John standing in front of the computer. Taking in the open document, Sherlock freezes, his eyes going wide. He swallows hard and looks at John, his eyes wildly searching John's face. John makes his expression as blank as possible.

"Is there something you want to tell me?" John asks quietly.

"I…John…I…" Sherlock stares at him helplessly, his expression desperate.

"You're writing stories. About us? Shagging?"

"John…I…"

"And you're putting them up on that fan site?"

"Yes, but…"

John feels a sudden flash of anger. He knows that Sherlock will do just about anything to collect data, but this? Writing romantic stories about the two of them just to test the reactions of people he'll never meet?

"Go over well, did they? Did you get a lot of positive feedback?" John can hear the condemnation in his voice, but he doesn't care. He's developed feelings for Sherlock and this feels like a betrayal of trust, like Sherlock is making fun of John. "You've done a lot of things to embarrass me Sherlock, but this is crossing a line."

"No, John, it's not like that." Sherlock takes a step towards him, his hand out.

"Really? Then tell me what it's like, Sherlock. Because right now it looks like you're making up stories about us and posting them on the internet."

"I…well…" Sherlock stops, looking at John with huge eyes. "Well, yes, that is…but…"

"God, Sherlock. I knew you would do just about anything as an experiment, but this?"

"John, please."

John is angry, hurt, and embarrassed. He wants to lash out and hurt Sherlock, maybe purge his own emotions in the process. How could he let himself fall for someone so callous?

"Please what? Please don't be upset that you used me again? Don't be upset that you hid something else from me? Don't be angry that my friendship means so little to you that you use me as a character in a story just to study people's reactions?"

"John, I…" Sherlock shakes his head, looking away.

"You couldn't have picked Lestrade to write about? Used him to test your theories?"

Sherlock's head comes up, his eyes wide and hurt. His jaw clenches and he glares at John.

"Do you think I could write like that about just anyone? That I feel this way for Lestrade or Dimmock or anyone else? This wasn't an experiment. This was you, John. I was writing what I …" Sherlock breaks off, a look of utter panic on his face. He shakes his head and runs from the room.

His anger robbed of a target, John stands there, his mind trying to process what he just heard. If he isn't getting it wrong, Sherlock has just admitted that what he wrote about is really what he's feeling. John blinks as he hears the front door slam and he realizes that Sherlock must have left.

John frowns, something nagging at the back of his brain. He turns back to the computer, scanning over the story he has up. After he finishes, he goes back over some of the ones he's already looked at and something starts to stand out. The plots of all of these stories involve Sherlock being in love with John, but there is another underlying theme John missed the first time through. In almost every story, Sherlock doesn't think John could ever love him, that anyone could. He's a freak, crazy, unlovable, and lonely and then John comes along and Sherlock falls hopelessly in love with the one person who sees something good in him.

John shakes his head, understanding that this is how Sherlock honestly feels. His caustic comments and rude demeanor are a defense against the rejection Sherlock knows is coming. John already knew that, he just wasn't aware of the extent of the damage. In these stories, Sherlock is telling John that in his life, literally no one has accepted or cared for him until John. The real John is pretty sure that this is because no one else ever gets to see the Sherlock that he does, and that thought brings its own brand of humble. Sherlock has trusted John with friendship and affection and he's never asked John for more, even though he apparently would like to. How John ever won such loyalty from such a guarded man, he'll never know, but now that he understands exactly what it means, he feels both privileged and unworthy.

There's something surreal in knowing that the man he's been falling in love with has felt the same way about him for a while. They really need to talk about this. And then it hits him that he'll have to find Sherlock first because John let him run away. John sighs, pulling out his phone.

Are you okay?

He waits a couple of very long minutes and when he receives no reply, he tries again.

I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled at you.

Where are you?

Come home so we can talk?

Please?

Now John starts to worry. He runs down the stairs, grabbing his coat from the hook. He has no idea where to start looking, but he can't just sit in the flat while Sherlock is out there thinking John hates him. He starts forming a plan that involves calling Lestrade, but he's pulled up short when he nearly trips over Sherlock, who is standing just outside the front door.

"Oh, thank God," John murmurs, following his momentum into hugging Sherlock. Sherlock stiffens, standing completely still. John lets him go, taking a step back. "Where have you been?"

"Walking. Thinking." John looks up at Sherlock and he frowns when he sees that Sherlock's emotional walls are back up and his eyes are expressionless.

"Come up stairs," John says gently, touching Sherlock's arm.

"I'd rather not, Doctor. I was stopping by to pick up a few things. Will three days be sufficient for you to move your belongings?"

John blinks.

"What are you talking about?" When Sherlock doesn't answer, John sighs. "Seriously, come up stairs so we can talk."

"I…can't." Sherlock's jaw is clenched and he's staring at a spot just over John's left shoulder.

"Can't?"

"I won't listen to you tell me our living arrangement isn't working," Sherlock hisses. "And I cannot watch you pack your things and leave."

"I'm not leaving," John says quietly.

"You expect me to move." It's not a question and Sherlock's shoulders go stiff. "Why should I have to leave Baker Street?"

"You don't." John sighs. "Neither of us is moving, Sherlock. Can we please go up and discuss this without an audience?"

Sherlock looks at John, his expression confused and wary and John just wants to hold him. When Sherlock still doesn't move, John takes a step closer.

"You really don't think anyone could love you back, do you?" John whispers. Sherlock's whole body goes tense and John shakes his head. "You're wrong, you know. And I really don't think a public street is the place to discuss my feelings for you."

Without looking back, John turns and walks into 221. He hangs his coat back on the hook and is just settling into his chair when he sees Sherlock out of the corner of his eye. Sherlock stands uncertainly in the doorway, looking puzzled and distressed. John gestures to the sofa and Sherlock slowly walks over and sits down.

"It wasn't an experiment," Sherlock whispers.

"I know."

"I…it gave me a way to deal with my…" Sherlock waves his hands about and John nods. "It made it easier. I could say things to you without you…you were never supposed to know."

Sherlock looks down at the floor, his whole demeanor that of a man waiting for the blade to fall. John sighs.

"And what about my feelings?"

"I never mean to hurt you, John." Sherlock's voice is so quiet that John has to strain to hear him.

"I know, Sherlock. I wasn't talking about that. I meant my feelings towards you."

"Would they be classified as homicidal rage or profound disgust?" Sherlock's tone contains so much self deprecation that John frowns.

"Why do you do that? Why do you assume that people are going to have negative reactions to you?"

"Because they usually do."

"Do I?" John asks, tipping his head.

"No, but I expect that's changed after today."

"Why? Because I saw how you really feel about me?"

"Because…" Sherlock breaks off, looking away and shaking his head. "God, John, how can you even look at me, knowing what I dream about?"

"It'd be rather hypocritical of me to condemn you as I've been dreaming the same things lately."

Sherlock goes rigid, and John sees his fists clench.

"I don't want your pity." Sherlock's voice is barely controlled.

"Look at me," John says quietly. "You can read my intent from a single glance. Tell me, is what you see really pity or are you afraid to admit that I might return your feelings."

"I…" Sherlock blinks, looking completely off balance. "How could you?"

"How could I not?" John says, smiling. "I'm pretty sure I fell in love with you ages ago. I was just too insecure to admit it. But reading that fan fiction, seeing us from an accepting viewpoint, seeing you, knowing how amazing you are, it all became clear. All I want is you."

Sherlock is watching John with wide eyes.

"John, I…" He breaks off, biting his bottom lip.

"Did you mean what you wrote?" John asks.

Sherlock nods.

"I did. John, I…you…"

John smiles at him.

"I know. It must have been like a release valve for you, writing those stories."

"It was. I got to write what I dreamt about and tell you all the things I felt for you without worrying about losing you. I'm sorry. I should have thought about how you'd feel if you ever read them."

"I'll admit I was a bit thrown at first," John says, nodding. "But that's because I didn't think you could feel that way about me. I thought it was an experiment or a joke."

"I'd never do that too you, John."

"Says the man who thought he was putting spiked sugar in my coffee."

"That's different," Sherlock says, waving his hand dismissively. "That was science, but this…I wouldn't hurt you that way."

John gets up and moves to sit next to Sherlock on the sofa. He reaches out and takes Sherlock's hand.

"So, what do we do now?" John asks gently.

"About what?"

"This…us."

"What do you want to do?" Sherlock asks, his voice just above a whisper.

John smiles, looking at Sherlock, who is staring at him apprehensively. Wordlessly, John leans forward, his lips meeting Sherlock's in a gentle kiss. For a couple of seconds, Sherlock sits motionless and John can feel his panic, but then his lips soften and he leans in and the kiss becomes something amazing. John's hand comes up, his fingers tangling in Sherlock's curls as he deepens the kiss and Sherlock lets out a little whimper. John breaks the kiss and looks at him.

"Are you okay?"

Sherlock nods.

"That was even better than I imagined." Sherlock gives John a goofy grin and John feels a swell of love for him.

"It seems to me that you have quite a few ideas for what we can do next," John says, leaning in to kiss Sherlock's nose. "Why don't we go to my room and you can show me a few."

"Are you sure?" Sherlock asks, studying John's face.

"Very." John reaches out, stroking Sherlock's cheek. "I love you. I know you haven't heard that enough in your life, but I'm going to change that, so get used to it."

John was a bit nervous to say those words out loud, but the effect on Sherlock is electrifying. His eyes go wide and defenseless and John can see his emotions written on his face. He looks slightly overwhelmed, but happier than John has ever seen him and John is determined to protect and cherish this man. He leans in close to Sherlock and whispers in his ear.

"I love you, Sherlock."

Sherlock shivers, then pulls back, smiling at John and staring at him in wonder.

Sherlock leans in, kissing John again and John thinks he really could get used to doing this. He smiles against Sherlock's lips and Sherlock pulls back, looking at him.

"What? Why are you smiling like that?"

"Because I'm happy. I'm here with you, holding you, kissing you. This is everything I wanted and you just gave it to me. Thank you."

"It's what I wanted too," Sherlock says, smiling shyly. He reaches out and takes John's hand. "Did you mean what you said about going upstairs?"

John laughs.

"If that's what you want, then yes." He looks at Sherlock, his expression going serious. "But if you aren't ready, if you want to wait, I'm very okay with cuddling and kissing on the couch. We won't do anything you don't want to."

"I can't promise it'll be any good, but I'd like to try going upstairs." Sherlock looks nervous, but not doubtful, so John nods.

"Of course it'll be good. I'm with the man I love and what's better than that?"

Sherlock snorts.

"You are a hopeless romantic, John," he says, getting to his feet. He starts walking towards the door, but stops, turning back to look at John. "It's one of the many things I love about you."

John's breath catches and he presses his lips together, surprised at how emotional he feels. Leave it to Sherlock to surprise him like that. He really does love this man,

"John," Sherlock says, not even looking back. "There are a few things I've read on the site recently that I'm curious to try. Maybe we can read a few of the stories together later and test them out?"

"Why not," John says, chuckling.

He gets the idea that his not boring life just got a lot more exciting and he can't help but grin as he races up the stairs after Sherlock.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Three months later, John is sitting at his desk updating his blog. He and Sherlock have just finished an international smuggling case and John wants to get it up as quickly as possible.

"John?" Sherlock calls and John can hear him coming down the stairs from their bedroom.

"In the sitting room."

"Could you read this over for me?" Sherlock is carrying his laptop and he walks over, putting it down next to John's.

"You finished it? That was fast."

"About ten minutes ago. It's not that long, really. I only did a 221B. Could I get your opinion?"

"I'm never going to get over that," John says, shaking his head. "Only our fans would write a story connected to our address. It's kind of cool, really."

Sherlock is standing there, looking at John expectantly and John laughs.

"Sorry. Of course I'll read it."

He pushes his laptop to the side and pulls Sherlock's closer so he can see the screen better and he feels Sherlock standing anxiously behind him.

Sherlock looks down at John, watching him sleep, studying the way the light through the window paints patterns on his face and hair. John's breathing is even, soft little puffs out his nose, as his chest rises and falls with every exhalation. John shifts slightly in his sleep, pulling the sheet down to expose his chest and Sherlock fights the urge to kiss his stomach.

Sherlock can still taste John on his lips, feel him against his skin, and he wishes he could quantify what he's feeling. Emotions are new to him, they've always been a burden, a weakness he refused to allow. But John has taught him otherwise. He realizes that rather than crippling Sherlock, their love has pulled them together, bound them in a strength that fortifies them both. Sherlock no longer has to deal with things alone, adrift and afraid. He has John to hold him up and stand by his side. And Sherlock is the one to pull John close and fight away his nightmares, though they seem to come less and less these days.

Sherlock loves John with all his heart and in that love he finds absolution and acceptance as he never thought he could. As he curls up next to John, wrapping his arms around him, he knows he's found his soulmate and benedict.

John frowns, looking up at Sherlock.

"His what?"

"Which part?" Sherlock asks, leaning forward.

"His soulmate and his who?"

"It's a real word, John. It means betrothed or husband."

"You do realize you'll have to explain that, don't you? No one is going to get it." It takes a minute for what Sherlock said to sink in. "Wait a minute. Husband? Did something happen that I don't know about?"

Sherlock smiles.

"It's just a story, John."

"Like hell it is. I know this is how you work your emotions out. Which isn't a complaint, by the way," John adds when Sherlock frowns. "This is much better than shooting the wall or sulking. So, what exactly are you saying here?"

Sherlock sighs.

"Just what it says. I love you and you've made me see that it's not a weakness to acknowledge that. You make me better than I am and you make me happy and I want to be with you for the rest of our lives."

"Sherlock, are you proposing?" John stares at him with wide eyes.

"Of course not," Sherlock says, waving his hand dismissively. "At least not yet. We've only been together for three months and that might be a bit fast to start planning a wedding. Isn't it?"

Sherlock is frowning and John laughs, pulling him down for a kiss.

"We can wait on the wedding, love, but you are going to have to fix this story. As your official beta reader, I just can't let you post it like this."

"Fine," Sherlock says, huffing. He turns his laptop to face him and starts typing. It takes him less than a minute before he turns the screen back to John. "Better?"

Sherlock loves John with all his heart and in that love he finds absolution and acceptance as he never thought he could. As he curls up wrapping his arms around John, he knows he's found his soulmate and will never be bored.

John can't help but laugh, and he feels such love for the crazy man who shares his life.

"That bad?" Sherlock asks.

"No, perfect," John says, smiling. "From you, this is the ultimate compliment and I'm honored that you feel that way."

"Really?" Sherlock is looking at him suspiciously.

"Really."

Sherlock smiles and John just wants to kiss him again. He tips his head and looks at Sherlock.

"I can write this up later. Why don't you go post that and I'll meet you upstairs. We can read a couple of stories and you can show me how not bored you are?"

Sherlock's whole face lights up and he grabs his laptop and heads for the door. He stops and looks back.

"John?"

"Hm?"

"I do love you, you know."

"Of course I do. I just read how you feel. And I hope you know that I love you too."

"I do," Sherlock says, nodding. "But it might make me feel it a bit more if you hurried. I really hate being away from you."

"On my way," John says, laughing and closing his laptop.

He gets up, following Sherlock, thinking that he's never been happier in his life.

The End