Author note: Last Chapter! This story is a companion piece to my earlier fic, "Always The Last To Know." This tells that story from Sherlock's POV. By the way, I am basing my Sherlock on a close relative with Asperger Syndrome. I don't see Sherlock as being a true sociopath/suffering from antisocial personality disorder. I do think he misses a lot of social cues, and has developed his "sociopath" persona as a defensive mechanism due to years of being misunderstood.
Many thanks to the wonderful Skyfullofstars for the incredibly helpful beta on this one. Any errors that remain in here are entirely my own – Sky was very thorough!
Disclaimers: Sherlock belongs to Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock Holmes originally belonged to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I own nothing. This makes me very sad. However, if either Mr. Cumberbatch or Mr. Freeman feels a need for a little temporary ownership, I'm sure we could come to an arrangement. ;)
Warnings: Sherlock/John. Very Mild Slash. If guy-on-guy smooching is not your cup of tea, then for heaven's sake, go ahead and avert your eyes now.
Please read and review!
"The best thing in life is finding someone who knows all your mistakes and weaknesses and still thinks you are completely amazing."
– Amanda Talrey
"If one wishes to know love, one must live love, in action."
– Leo Buscaglia
I observed John carefully, in the weeks following the conversation on the bridge. He no longer seemed to be interested in pursuing his ridiculous women, seemingly content to spend evenings at home in our flat, or at my side in pursuit of the criminal du jour.
I noticed that he seemed to be more concerned with my wellbeing, and although it was irritating, I allowed him to persuade me to eat or sleep on occasion. What it cost me in annoyance, it more than made up for in the pleasure of being the center of John's attention.
I did my best to reciprocate, without being obvious, playing his favorite Vivaldi selections on my violin, finding as many exciting cases as I could to stimulate his interest. I even limited the number of body parts I kept in the refrigerator, even though it was inconvenient to restrict my experiments.
Still, it was quite frustrating. There seemed to be no way to nudge John toward taking our relationship in a new direction, unless I made a move. I was determined not to do so, because if I had read him wrong (one of the reasons I can't get enough of John is that he often surprises me), then I could ruin everything.
Things might have continued on in this ridiculous limbo indefinitely if it weren't for Anderson, of all people in the world. Standing over the body of an old man (poisoned, murdered for the life insurance), I was pointing out the obvious clues that pointed directly to the subtle use of antifreeze in his cough syrup. John was staring at me, with that (sexy) amazed expression he wears when I'm explaining my deductions.
When I ended my explanation, John exclaimed, "Brilliant!" and beamed at me, squeezing my upper arm in his enthusiasm. Again my self-control slipped (how does he do that to me?), and I gripped his arms in return, smiling down at his obvious pleasure. For a single, shining moment, we stood gazing into each other's eyes.
"Jesus, get a room, freak." Anderson's snide comment lanced across the moment, causing John to drop his hands in confusion. I immediately stepped back, and stared coolly at Anderson.
"I'm quite certain that you could recommend a suitable venue – you and Sergeant Donovan must know all of the local places that rent rooms by the hour." Anderson flushed in anger, but I turned and swept from the room before he could reply. Smirking, John followed me.
For the rest of that evening, John seemed pensive. I immersed myself in an experiment in the kitchen, and gave him the room he clearly needed. To my delight, I could read many of his thoughts on his face. He looked at me often, when he thought I wasn't observing him.
I watched his eyes take in the photo of the two of us (taken at the Scotland Yard Boxing Day party by an unusually affable Sally Donovan, clearly a bit worse for the punch) that he had placed on the mantle. (In the photo, my arm is slung casually around John's shoulders, and we are laughing. It's unusual for me to be caught smiling by a camera. Again, I blame John's influence on my self-control.)
Next, his gaze roved to a police report I had "borrowed" from Lestrade, along with a pathetic excuse for a pathology report submitted by Anderson. When he looked back at me, there were deep frown lines between his eyes. It certainly wouldn't take a genius of my caliber to recognize that he was struggling with questions about the constant innuendos that surround the two of us wherever we go.
Finally he stood up, stretching. His jumper rode up and exposed a strip of skin, along with his navel. (I could see the dusting of fine golden hair that thickened as it descended toward the button of his jeans. Oh…my.) My breath caught in my throat, but I managed to look back down at my petri dishes before he could catch me watching him.
"I'm headed to bed. G'night, Sherlock."
"Good night, John."
The following morning, John woke late, and dashed out to work at the surgery with a quick, "Late for work – I'm off out!" Ten minutes later, I got a text from Lestrade, and hastened off to assist Scotland Yard with their latest difficulty. The rest of my day was far too busy to dwell on my flatmate's personal issues, so I dismissed thoughts of John from my mind.
The moment I left, though, he was right there in the forefront of my thoughts again. I decided that tonight might be a good night for another obviously thoughtful gesture from a potential partner, so I stopped in to pick up his favorite green curry and naan. To my surprise, he wasn't back yet, so I deposited the takeaway in the fridge (on a "food-only" shelf, to prove my thoughtful potential partner status), and picked up my violin.
I plunged into Stenhammer's Sentimental Romances Op28, which seemed like a good choice, considering my current feelings toward my absent friend. Perhaps playing would ease this longing that seemed to have no outlet. Bach's Chaconne was next, then Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op47. When John had still not arrived home, I began to play his favorite, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, as though perhaps I could play him home.
It didn't work. He was gone all night. I had to assume that he had rekindled things with Sarah, or found another potential girlfriend. I slumped, exhausted, in my chair, and watched the sunrise filter cold light into the flat.
Heavy, limping footsteps alerted me to John's return. Listening to the drag of his foot as he climbed the stairs, I wondered at his persistence in clinging to that psychosomatic limp. (His leg was hurting, I could smell lager, smoke and Sarah's perfume – preliminary data would suggest that he must have spent the night with Sarah.)
"Back with Sarah, John?" John started, clearly not expecting to see me. "I never pegged you as one for revisiting failed relationships. Did you spend the night on her sofa again?"
I looked up and met his eyes.
He looked exhausted, dark shadows beneath his eyes, lines of weariness etched across his (inexpressibly dear) face. His gaze met my own, and the emotion in them was naked, raw. As he stood, wordless and helpless, I could see that he had not been at Sarah's, or with any woman, but had spent a long, sleepless night wandering outdoors.
I stood, then walked slowly around John, taking in the mud on his shoes, the moisture from the fog that caused the hair around his ears to cling damply to his skin. "Sorry, I spoke too soon. It definitely wasn't the sofa. You spent the night outdoors, walking in a park by the look and smell of you." I reached out to rest my fingers gently on his left wrist, unobtrusively taking his pulse. He started at the contact, but didn't pull his hand away. I saw his pupils dilate a fraction.
"What has happened, John? Something has caused you great distress. Your dilated eyes, your tremor, even your colour tell me that you are feeling extreme anxiety."
John shrugged off his jacket, using it as an excuse to break my gaze. "I had a difficult day yesterday. Sarah and I went out for a couple of pints, and then I walked around the park. I needed to clear my mind a bit. Now, if you'll excuse me, Sherlock, I'm truly knackered, and I'm going to try to get some sleep."
I stood gazing at John for a long moment, seeing the longing in his eyes, the new and painful emotions that he clearly was not ready to process yet. It had waited this long – it could wait until he had rested. Surely that is what a considerate potential partner would say? I stepped back, nodded my head, and said, "Sleep well."
Shortly after John retreated to his bed, I received another text from Lestrade. I hated to leave before finding out more about John's obvious epiphany, but he needed the rest, so I headed to Scotland Yard once more. The case was a simple one, and we wrapped it up by midafternoon. Finally I was free to rush out and catch a cab back to Baker Street.
After paying the cabby, I rushed up the stairs to find John sitting unmoving in his armchair.
"John. You're finally up." I removed my coat and scarf, then settled myself on the sofa. Time to be direct, and settle this thing.
"So what have you decided, then?"
"About what?" John gasped.
"About the issue that kept you awake and wandering the park all night, and kept you awake until midmorning. About the problem that has so consumed you that you are sitting here in the dark, no television, no book, just thinking. Thinking about whether or not to reveal your feelings to the object of your affection."
"How did…what…you don't…"
"All very well put, John, with your usual concise logic, but I'd like to hear something more specific." I smiled at him.
"How do you know what I've been thinking about?" John's licked those (delectable) lips, clearly anxious.
Oh, my dear John.
"You are such an open book, John. Your every thought is written on your face, especially when it comes to affairs of the heart." I shifted in my chair, leaning forward to meet his gaze forthrightly. "But seriously, John – what have you decided to do?"
John licked his lips again, and leaned forward as well. "What…what do you think I should do, Sherlock? How do I know if…if…the 'object of my affection' returns my feelings at all? This…person…has made it clear in the past that they were completely uninterested in a relationship. "
At last! He finally, finally realises what I have known for so long now. He wants me!
"Completely, John? This…person…hasn't dropped any hints that the original position has changed?"
"How would I know?"
Wasn't it more than obvious that I was head-over-heels for this ridiculous man? How could he not see it? I decided to give him one more chance to draw the right conclusion, before I simply seized him and snogged him senseless.
"You know my methods, John. Apply them." I sank back onto the sofa, fingers steepled beneath my chin, waiting for John to solve the problem.
John tilted his head against the back of the chair and closed his eyes, and I waited for him to decide our fate. After a few minutes of silence, he raised his head, meeting my gaze. "I think I might have a possible solution to my problem."
"Wonderful." I leaned forward, watching John closely. "What's the solution?"
"An experiment, Sherlock. If you'd indulge me?"
Oh, I loved it when he used my words to mock me. What would be cruel coming from another was gentle teasing from John. He's always so careful of my feelings.
John stood, stepped around the coffee table, and seated himself on the sofa beside me. Leaning forward, John stopped with only a few centimetres between our faces.
Dear God, it's happening! He's going to…
Slowly, John closed the gap between us, gently pressing his (surprisingly soft) lips to mine in a tender, loving kiss. (At last! At last!) I couldn't help but lean in, and he parted his lips to hesitantly taste mine with the tip of his tongue. I opened mine in response, and John gasped wordlessly at the open invitation, and slipped his warm tongue in to explore my mouth.
The kiss took on a life of its own, deepening and setting fire to me as our tongues gently circled and danced. John's fingers curled into my hair and we were breathing each other's breath and tasting each other and pressing closer together and getting lost in each other and it was wonderful. I never knew that kissing could be so slow, so sensual – my limited experience (don't think about Seb right now don't think about him he's not a part of this never never) was nothing like this. It felt as though John was worshiping me, trying to divine my soul with his tongue and hands.
My heart was pounding harder than it ever had during any rooftop chase across London. Given that I was sitting quite still, this reaction seemed excessive. Hmmm…clearly more data was needed.
I leaned into the kiss more eagerly, trying to memorize the sensation of John's tongue sliding against my own. John's hand stroked firmly down my back, drawing me closer to his compact, muscular body. I could hardly breathe, and felt my body shaking as if it would come apart. (How does he do this to me?) He tasted of tea and shortbread biscuits, he smelled of sandalwood and that elusive woodsy tang that was just so very John. I stroked my fingers through his (incredibly soft) hair, which caused him to shudder, and hum softly into my mouth. To my amazement, something decidedly like a moan rose from deep in my own throat. My self-control had clearly gone on extended leave.
Finally the kiss tapered off into softer, gentler kisses, lingering, breathless, delicious. We slowly pulled apart, to gaze into each other's eyes. Oh, those breathtaking eyes were so dark, so dilated and deep that I could drown in them. John raised a shaking hand to my cheek, and I leaned into the caress of his warm, calloused palm.
His voice trembled. "Sherlock?"
I reached out and curled my fingers into the soft hair at the back of John's neck, drawing him forward to lean our foreheads together. I smiled lovingly into his beautiful, beautiful hazel eyes. My wonderful, brilliant John. I whispered, "I knew you'd get there in the end."
John's eyes crinkled into little, laughing arcs as a bright, happy smile broke over his face. He kissed me again, slowly, languorously. Then he laughed, "What happened to being 'married to your work'?"
I leaned in to press a line of soft kisses along his warm jawline. Then I murmured into his ear, "Don't you know?"
He shivered from the rumbling in his ear (must note that reaction for future experimentation) and shook his head. "Don't I know what?"
I nibbled my way around his neck, then trailed more kisses up to his other ear. "You've been an integral part of my work since the night you shot the cabby. You are my work, John."
He pulled back to beam at me, and then leaned in for another kiss. "Then don't let me keep your from your work any longer, Detective."
That's it! Thanks so much to all who read, favorited and reviewed this story, as well as its companion piece from John's POV, "Always the Last to Know," including CryptoSquirrel, Vamsi, eohippus, ladypredator, Jodi2011, Fuseaction, sami1010220, Falling-Petal84, Lionesseye, MontyKissto, Elfenwesen, and JocastaBleedsInk. Special thanks to PrincessNala, and to the lovely, lovely Skyfullofstars. Thanks much.
I plan to write another story in this series, hopefully a rather smutty one next time. Wish me luck on that!
Reviews are deeply loved. Deeply.