Notes: I play with tense and point of view a lot here. I wanted to write it almost as if this was John, remembering this day and his thoughts interspersed within the memory. I hope that makes sense. If there are any questions, feel free to contact me.
Warnings: Slight swearing, adult situations, character death
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock. Sherlock, John, and all other characters and concepts as depicted in this contemporary universe are the property of Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and their associates. The only thing I own is the story below as you see it written.
He Will Remember
If John had known it was their last lazy day together, he wouldn't have spent most of it ignoring Sherlock. Had he known it would be the last chance they had to be together, no case pressing, no work for John, he would have made sure they did something other than sit around the flat all day. Done something they'd always wanted to do. Hell, even gone down to the morgue and watched Sherlock flog bodies. Anything. But it was Saturday, and Sherlock was being a bit annoying, so John sat in the living room and let Sherlock have his pout and ignored him until he stopped trying to coax John into words by insulting him. It wasn't particularly malicious, but John will regret it possibly more than the fact that the last thing he said to Sherlock, face-to-face, was, "You machine."
There were so many things he could have told Sherlock, he thinks afterwards, or things they could have talked about. John isn't a sentimental man, but more than anything he regrets not telling Sherlock that day, or the day before, or any day really, that his world revolved around Sherlock Holmes, whether or not Sherlock knew Earth revolved the sun. But he was too caught up in being male, British, and afraid of his own feelings. Too certain in his assumption that Sherlock couldn't possibly understand love and telling him would be redundant in the extreme. Too afraid that people will talk and the public would turn on Sherlock for being in a relationship with another man. Put both of their lives in more danger than they had to be in.
That all proved rather redundant.
He could have told Sherlock when, sometime around noon, he tossed John's book across the room and replaced it with his own body, perching moodily in John's lap and crossing his arms. He could have put his arms around him and said, "I really love you, you know?"
Instead, he smacked Sherlock's thigh, enough to cause a yelp and a look but not enough to actually hurt, and asked, "Do I look like a piece of furniture to you? There's a perfectly passable chair right there." Pointed past Sherlock, to the chair that was from the very beginning silently yet unanimously known as his. Sherlock only grumbled in reply and slipped lower, pillowing his head against John's shoulder. His long legs were slung so far over they almost touched the floor.
"Boring," Sherlock muttered. John silently rolled his eyes, although he had no illusion that Sherlock did not see the move. God, he never thought he would hate a word more than he hated any variant of the word bored.
He'll prove himself wrong a few days later when he realized he couldn't even speak the word 'dead' without wanting to vomit.
It was very quiet. The clock in the mantle ticked. Mrs. Hudson dropped something downstairs—it sounded like a pan—but John wasn't too concerned because a second later he heard her cry bugger and knew she hadn't been hurt. Sherlock smiled against his neck, and he felt strangely happy. He should have told Sherlock. Told him that, even though no one had ever prompted so much annoyance and anger from him, no one ever made him happier either.
Instead he just turned his face towards Sherlock's and pressed their lips together. The silence was interrupted by the low sounds of a lazy kiss. John remembers later Sherlock's lips were already wet and plump, which meant he'd been biting them. A nervous habit. He will also remember how Sherlock tried to follow when he began to pull away, and the chuckle he let out when John kissed his cheek. He will remember how he wanted to say, "I adore you.
But what came out was, "You're adorable." Which was not the same thing, did not have the same connotation, and made Sherlock snort derisively.
"I'm not one of your cat videos, John."
"You act like one sometimes. A cat, that is."
Sherlock smirked and sat up a bit straighter. "Regal?"
"…Pompous." Which still had a 'u' in it, and John still spelled wrong nine times out of ten. Sherlock was careful to remind him every time he did it until the day he—
It was John's turn to be smacked. His good shoulder, and he cried, "Hey! You know, I've only got one good arm, and I kind of need it." It's not even his dominant arm. Never again will he play cricket, although he was never much into cricket in the first place. He was a rugby man, through and through. For a while his sport of choice was long-distance running, not an easy sport to take up in your mid-thirties but necessary all the same when trying to keep up with a mad consulting detective with the energy of a boy half his age.
Nowadays he doesn't do much of anything. Sitting in a chair and letting your eyes well up with tears as you stare at the empty chair across from you is not a sport. If anything, it's a hobby. An absurdly self-destructive hobby.
"Did it hurt?" Sherlock inquired sweetly, batting his eyelashes and raising his eyebrows in what John could only assume was an attempt at sympathy. It was comical, partially because coy maiden was not a look Sherlock could pull off, secondly because John had never heard Sherlock sound so insincere as that moment. He wasn't even trying, and that was saying a lot about the man who could make himself look and seem like a completely different person just by putting on a different expression and changing the affectation of his voice. Mater of disguise, indeed.
"Yes," John replied.
"Good. Now we're both in pain."
John decided then that the only thing he could do was lean forward and blow a raspberry into Sherlock's neck. The detective went rigid, then tried to wriggle away, but John was one step ahead of him with a hand on his neck, pressing him close. Sherlock released a half-formed noise that may have been John's name. John pulled away. They chuckled. John should have told Sherlock that the deep, rich sound of his laughter always made a pleasant knot form in John's stomach.
Instead, he slunk his arm around Sherlock's slim waist and rested his chin on the detective's bony shoulder. "Don't suppose you'd fancy a shag?"
Sherlock shrugged. "I could be persuaded. When, exactly?"
"After lunch?" John asked. He was feeling quite peckish, which meant that in about half an hour he'd be properly hungry. If he started making lunch now, he wouldn't be thinking about a bacon sandwich when he should be thinking about the man in bed with him. It had happened a few times before, post-case, and Sherlock would always be overly perceptive and ask what was wrong, which put John into the embarrassing situation of explaining, "Sorry, love, but I'm starved."
A few weeks later, he'll think the words, "You were better than any bacon sandwich" and laugh through his tears.
"Alright," Sherlock agreed. "What's for lunch?"
"What do you want?"
"Food," Sherlock replied, probably in the hopes that it would irritate John. And it did, but only enough to prompt a second raspberry (Good God, Mycroft was right; they were eight years old.) and a pinch to the bum. Sherlock jumped, grumbled ow, and swatted John's hand away.
"No, because I was planning on feeding you one of the half dozen experiments festering in the fridge." He pressed his lips against Sherlock's neck, not in a kiss but just to think for a moment. "Actually, I should do that one of these days. Teach you to leave that crap so near our food." He chuckled at himself while Sherlock tried very hard to frown instead of join him, then continued, "What do we have in there, anyway? Not much, I know that. Er…choo…Eggs? We have eggs. I could make egg salad."
Sherlock made a noise that wasn't exactly agreement, but wasn't rejection either. Drummed his fingers against the arm of the chair and remarked, "Do we have sweet relish? I won't eat dill relish in egg salad."
"Get up and I'll go check." He was getting a bit tired of being used as a cushion.
Had he known it would be the last time Sherlock would use him as a cushion, he would have let the detective stay there even after both his legs had gone numb. Would have made him stay there, actually, had he known that what he thought would be years more of being used as a cushion would be cut impossibly short in just over forty-eight hours. He did not, however, know this, and so patted insistently at Sherlock's leg until he got up. Proceeded to wander off to regions unseen, probably to the bathroom to make sure he was alright for after lunch.
As a doctor, John knew what the proper precautions to take before engaging in anal sex were. He very pointedly did not think about it, however, because it had the potential to turn him off.
The eggs were boiling when Sherlock returned. He glanced into the boiling pot as he passed it, then walked into the living room to read. John watched him for a moment, how his eyes darted back and forth so quickly; he read at something like 600 words per minute. John could tell when he was reading for pleasure and when he was reading for work. Reading for pleasure was taken at a slower pace, like he wanted to savor the experience. John thought that knowing all of that probably meant he was watching Sherlock too much. Nowadays, he doesn't think he watched Sherlock nearly enough.
There were still so many things he didn't know about him.
Will never know.
Lunch was quiet and Sherlock didn't eat a lot. He never did, really, preferring to spread his food intake out over several small meals instead of three large ones. He did eat one sandwich, though, which John supposed was all he could ask even though the bread was small and John himself ate two and a half. When Sherlock finished, he stayed at the table and read his book, but every once in a while John would look up and find him staring. It made him feel self-conscious, at the time. He was a bit of a messy eater and never liked people staring at him while he ate. He spent lunch wondering how elderly couples managed to spend fifty years staring across a table watching each other's jaws work. He supposed it came with time.
He and Sherlock would never get time.
"Done?" Sherlock asked when John stood up and wrapped the half sandwich he hadn't eaten. John nodded and placed the leftovers in the fridge, the dishes in the sink, and the rest in the garbage. Then he came over to Sherlock, and it was his turn to toss a book across the room (That was a bad habit of theirs; mistreating literature when they wanted attention.) so he could grab Sherlock's hands and haul him out of his seat.
"Done," John murmured, pressing their lips together. Sherlock pouted into the kiss.
"That was Poe. You don't throw Poe across the room."
"Poe's been dead a hundred and sixty years, love. What he doesn't know won't hurt him." He wound his arms around Sherlock's neck and pulled him back in, as Sherlock gripped his waist and moved him backwards, his feet taking awkward, waddling steps outside of John's. John could feel his hips against his stomach, the vague outline of Sherlock's flaccid penis. He wasn't wearing pants; usually didn't under his pajama bottoms. He hummed and whilst kissing Sherlock's jaw remarked, "And for the record, you don't throw Tolkien across the room either."
Sherlock snorted derisively. They maneuvered slowly through the kitchen archway, around the staircase, and into Sherlock's bedroom, or perhaps the bedroom formerly known as Sherlock's. They didn't quite share it, not yet. However, they had been sleeping together for almost four months, and at that point John hadn't slept in his own bed for almost a fortnight, and the only reason he'd ventured upstairs recently was to dress.
"Tolkien. Blatant fantasy. Redundant."
"Because Poe is so realistic, yeah?" John muttered. He shut the door to the bedroom and crawled onto the bed with Sherlock. Lay atop him, kissed him languidly until he could feel hardness beginning to form between Sherlock's legs. The detective broke away to take a breath and John moved down his neck.
"Much more realistic than…small, hairy isolationists living in poverty in a mythical realm. Wizards and dragons." He sucked in a breath, as John bit into his sharp collarbone, and mumbled, "John…"
"They're called hobbits," John corrected as he moved his hips against Sherlock's. Legs wrapped around his waist and he braced Sherlock's thigh with his hand, stroking soothingly over the firm skin before moving up and cupping the swell of Sherlock's bum. John, always having been more of a legs and bust man, had never really paid much attention to anyone's bum until he met Sherlock. It was the only part of him that really stuck out, so to speak.
"You're a hobbit," Sherlock snorted, then yipped as John pinched him. "Honestly, John, stop it. I bruise easily!"
"You're bringing it on yourself," John admonished, pulling back so he could pull Sherlock's pajama bottoms off him. Sherlock flung his legs up in the air to make it easier, slipped his arms out of his dressing gown. John threw them both across the room. Only to be discovered a few weeks from then when John is making an attempt at cleaning up the flat. The discovery will put his cleaning attempts for the day to rest when he curls up behind the door and cries into Sherlock's dressing gown.
"For future reference," John remarked, unbuttoning his own shirt. Sherlock helped, unbuttoning from the bottom up. Their hands met in the middle and John grabbed Sherlock's, tangled their fingers together. "It's not exactly an ego boost when a man's lover tells him he's a hobbit." Kisses Sherlock's knuckles. "Especially when he's about to fuck his lover." They never made love. They shagged, they fucked, but they didn't make love. John thought it was too flowery a term for what two men did. Sherlock didn't really care, but the way he frowned at the soap operas told John all he needed to know.
John still thinks the term is a bit silly. But at the same time, he can't compare what they did to the quick, gritty and emotionless connotation of fuck or shag. Fuck or shag is what people do with anonymous people at two AM on dirty motel beds. It was always something a bit more, with Sherlock. When he buried his face in John's neck or wrapped his legs tight around John's waist, or peppered kisses along his belly on the way down. All of those times they spent an hour or two spooned together when it was cold outside, or Sherlock took the extra time to put a pillow under John's hips and make sure he was comfortable instead of just flipping him over and shoving in. It wasn't fucking or shagging.
No, he wouldn't have stopped calling it shagging or fucking. But sometimes he thinks Sherlock wouldn't have reacted so badly had John referred to it as such; said, "God, make love to me, you bloody great genius," in a moment of passion. He'll never know now, but he wonders.
"Mm. Sorry." Sherlock's odd eyes watch as John gets up and takes off his trousers and pants, and John stares down at Sherlock. Pale skin, long limbs, his full manhood laying against his stomach. He was a picture, he was, and when Sherlock smiled slightly it made John feel, for a moment, like the luckiest man on Earth.
He climbed back into bed, encouraged Sherlock's legs to part so he could settle between them. It was warm, there, between Sherlock's thighs. He worked his hands underneath Sherlock and cupped his bum, feeling slightly guilty about getting carried away with the pinches. Looking up, he smiled slightly at Sherlock and kissed him, coaxed his mouth open then pulled back and pressed his nose against Sherlock's and just inhaled. God, he loved that man.
I should have told you, John will think as he sits, cold and alone in front of a marble grave marker.
"John?" Sherlock inquired, and John realized he had been there for too long. Lost, he thinks now, perhaps in the future. He doesn't know. His memories are all blurring together, even ones like these that he wants to remember vividly, Sherlock in his arms and more alive than dead. Because he has no illusions that Sherlock spent those last few hours dead in all but body. The moment he realized his name had been sullied, he died inside.
"What? Oh." He brushed his lips against Sherlock's ear. "Sorry. Went somewhere far away for a second there."
"S'alright." All the same, Sherlock followed his movements closely as he pulled away and stretched for the other side of the bed.
"How shall we do this?" John inquired. He pulled open the bedside table and pulled out the lubricant. Sherlock shrugged, and John gave an affectionate roll of his eyes before deciding Sherlock looked quite happy on his back, so missionary it was. Having decided this, he grabbed a pillow (There were three on the bed: Sherlock's, the one sometimes known as John's, and the one that spent most of its life slumped against the headboard until they pulled it down and used it for this purpose) and patted Sherlock's leg. "Up a bit."
Sherlock obliged, arching off the bed for a few seconds to John could shove the pillow underneath him. Once again, John found himself staring at the beauty that was Sherlock Holmes, stretched out on the bed, legs splayed, waiting. He moved his hands up, where Sherlock's legs met his torso, touched his smooth skin.
"You're beautiful," he should have said.
Sherlock made an impatient noise, and John chuckled but pulled back to pop the top off the lube and squeezed some onto his fingers, then moved his hand down to press at Sherlock's entrance. Sherlock grunted, shifting on the bed and trying to relax. John took Sherlock's length in hand, stroking up and down as he breached his lover's body. Sherlock cried out, broke it off, wriggled, and settled again, closing his eyes and licking his lips.
"Alright?" John asked. Sherlock was hot inside, tight. John stretched him gently.
"Mmhm." He continued to stare at John, though, and it didn't bug John so much as make him curious. Sherlock had that look on his face, the one he got when he was inside his own head, and John wondered if he was fully in the moment. Then again, he was one to be talking. He had no idea where he'd been going all afternoon.
John wonders if he somehow felt the oncoming storm. Wondered if perhaps his human nature, that bas instinct of 'danger approaches' was going superhuman and anticipating the arrival of the debacle with Moriarty and Kitty Reilly's article, Sherlock's…death. He wonders if Sherlock, especially, knew it was coming. Sherlock was always insightful to the point of clairvoyance, and while John had hoped Moriarty would just fade back into the woodwork, Sherlock knew he would not. Knew he would show back up, sooner or later. Knew Moriarty would not rest until one of them was dead.
At some point, John found Sherlock's prostate and the detective's head jerked to the side. John chuckled and said, "That's the spot then, huh?" teasingly. He could feel the knot, and pressed down hard against it. Sherlock groaned.
"John," he said, moving down and pulling on John's arm. "Come on. That's good."
"Are you sure?" he asked, even as he pulled his hand away and spread some more lubricant over himself. The only answer he got was Sherlock swinging one leg over John's shoulder, the good shoulder, and wrapping the other around his waist. John pushed in.
"Oh…" John closed his eyes, pressed his face into Sherlock's knee. "Oh, Sherlock." He tried to let Sherlock adjust, knew he needed to because he could feel Sherlock's toes curling against his back and his muscles tense, and distracted himself by pressing kisses to Sherlock's knee. Glanced down at Sherlock, met his eyes. Felt his breath catch. "Sherlock."
"You can move," Sherlock murmured.
So John did. Gripped Sherlock's hips and pulled out, then pushed back in. He established a steady rhythm, Sherlock meeting him half way. His head was leant back against the pillow, eyes closed. Every once in a while he would toss his head one way or the other, usually when John hit a particularly sensitive spot or his prostate itself. Then, at one point, he dropped his leg off John's shoulder and beckoned him, down into his arms.
"John," Sherlock breathed when he settled, pressed their foreheads together.
"I'm here," John said, and though his thrusts were shallower Sherlock didn't seem to care. He hiked his legs up, both around John's waist, and squeezed. "I'm here, don't squeeze me to death."
Sherlock laughed. The sensation was beatific, how it felt to be inside Sherlock whilst the man was chuckling; the deep, gleeful sound of it already make John's stomach flip, and the feeling coupled with it made a knot form in John's stomach. John groaned. "My God Sherlock, your giggle can make men come, do you know that?" Slid his mouth down and latched onto Sherlock's neck, determined to create a mark that he would be able to look upon later and smirk at. However, he won't see that mark again until he sees Sherlock's head, bloodied and broken against a backdrop of cold, unforgiving pavement. Sherlock's scarf fallen aside, John sees that mark and it makes memories of that afternoon flood back to him.
Please God, let him live, he prays. His prayers aren't answered.
His neck was sensitive, and it made him groan and nearly wince with pleasure. His hands wandered, trying to find John's hands, and gripped them, squeezed them, then moved between them to touch himself. John wanted him to come, wanted him to say his name so the street could hear. Wanted the world to know Sherlock Holmes, master detective, the gorgeous current obsession of the press, was in his bed being pleasured to a writhing orgasm.
"What if the press knew this is what we did on the weekends?" John grunted.
"They would have a collective aneurism," Sherlock replied, squeezing his eyes shut as his hand's movements became more frantic. He brought John's hand up and kissed his knuckles.
"Not so sure that's not what I'm having," John muttered, and despite their situation they both giggled. John almost couldn't stand it, that newfound sensation, and said, "Come on, love, come for me. I can't hold off for long, come for me, Sherlock."
"I am, I am," Sherlock said, squeezing John's hand impossibly tight.
"Yes!" John felt the first tremors of Sherlock's orgasm, the first splash of semen against his stomach, and then the knot in his stomach released, the world becoming white and hot, and the only sound that existed was Sherlock's voice.
When he came back and calmed down, he was on his side facing Sherlock. He pressed his head under Sherlock's chin and kissed his collarbone. Sherlock was warm around him, his arms and legs. He pulled out gently, wincing as his oversensitive head was stimulated again. Sherlock made a noise in the back of his throat and moved uncomfortably. He would probably hurt for the next few minutes, but not for too long. John got up and headed for the en-suit, coming back with a wet washcloth. Sherlock, laying on his right side with his back away from John, looked thoroughly debauched with John's semen dripping down his thighs, skin flushed red. The bed had a few wet patches on it. They'd need to wash those sheets.
In the morning, John tells Sherlock to replace the sheets on the bed and put the stained ones in the laundry bag for the weekend. When he arrives home later, frustrated after Mycroft and the God-forsaken Diogenes Club, he asks Sherlock if he changed the sheets, after he's done explaining why Scotland Yard is in their living room. Sherlock says no, he forgot, and John feels the urge to bang his head against a wall.
The next morning, around ten, he walks dazedly into their flat, walks into their room and collapses face-down onto their bed. Wraps himself in their stained sheets, because this is all he has left. The discarded parcels of the love he once shared with Sherlock. The love that will never be spoken of, because at first he was too afraid and now he's too devastated.
John cleaned Sherlock off, took the cloth back, came back to the bed. He kissed Sherlock as he settled down it's the last time he will ever kiss him then settled in behind Sherlock. Stomach full, muscles lax, and body pleasantly warm, he wrapped his arms tight around the man with whom he shared his life and home and pressed his face against Sherlock's neck.
"Don't let me go to sleep," Sherlock muttered. "I have to be awake incase Lestrade calls."
Ten minutes later, they were both asleep.
That was the last time John slept with Sherlock in his arms. Six o'clock that night is the last time John wakes up with Sherlock in his arms. He will always regret all of the things he never told Sherlock, all of the time they wasted. John should have known, with their line of work, that their time was limited. But for some reason he always thought he had years with Sherlock, years to tell him all the things he wanted to, years to learn everything about him, years to tell him he loved him.
It hurts. It hurts more than anything. The only thing that is worse is the fact that, when he closes his eyes, he sees Sherlock's beautiful eyes, gone distant and cloudy and dead.
A few days later, to put the press in their place and stop them speculating whether or not he condemned Sherlock along with the rest of London, he takes to his blog and types out the last post he will ever put on that blog.
He was my best friend, and I'll always believe in him.
He sits there for a few minutes, dissatisfied with the message. A painful idea comes to him. Before he can think too much about it, he backtracks and 'believe' becomes 'love' and he quickly clicks 'post.'
Let people think what they will. There's no point in hiding anymore. He just hopes he's the one called the poofter, because he doesn't think he'll be able to stand Sherlock's name being dragged into anymore mud.
He forgets about the post for three months until, one day in September his phone rings and it's an alert from his blog, telling him he has a comment on his blog. He clicks through.
I love you too.
He wants to believe it's a cruel joke. Wants to believe it's just someone, some idiot from the press hunting for a lashout from the infamous John Watson, someone trying to create controversy. But that's his—Sherlock's—account, and it links through to his own blog, and if anyone's account information is hard to hack it's Sherlock's. He stares at it, equal parts horror and disbelief and reluctant hope. He tosses his phone across the room, as if it's just burned him or spoken a satanic message, then looks up wildly.
And comes eye-to-eye with Sherlock bloody Holmes.
He spends hours ranting, yelling, hitting Sherlock. Telling him he's sadistic, inconsiderate, horrible. Every name in the book and it takes him this long to realize Sherlock is just sitting there taking it. John demands to know why he isn't saying anything, Sherlock shrugs.
My actions aren't justifiable, he says. I just couldn't let you die.
John's emotions do a one-eighty and suddenly he's throwing himself at Sherlock, repeating the same things over and over again, I love you I love you oh my God I can't believe you're not dead I love you I'm sorry I never told you.
They cling. And they cry.
The world isn't right yet.
But it will be.
A/N: I really felt the need to end this happily, although I'm not sure about the decision. Does it ruin it? I'm not sure. I quite like this one; it took me an entire week to write, so I hope it's at least worth it! I really hope you guys like it.