A/N – Happy Birthday mattsloved1, I hope you like your gift. To everyone else, enjoy the fluff. This probably doesn't relate to anything I've written before, at least that I can tell.
Warnings – Two humans of the male persuasion love each other in this story. If you are not into that then the back button should be right on the top of your screen there. Adieu. This is without beta so I apologize in advance for any and all mistakes, because I am sure they are there.
Disclaimer – I do not own.
John walked up and down the small store staring at the pictures on the wall. He would stop in front of a few, analyze them for a minute and then walk away. They weren't right. None of them were right. It was just a bad idea.
The proprietor and sole artist had long ago decided to ignore John and just continued about the business of doing his art while John quietly paced. Occasionally the good doctor would inquire about a price or about the size and his question would be answered patiently, but quickly, and with no explanation. When a young woman came in to sit for her ongoing commission John had placed his 'charm the females' smile on his face and asked if he could see her work. She'd been happy to comply and he'd watched the artist work for several minutes before resuming his pacing.
It was a ridiculous request for a birthday gift, but he'd been stuck on what to purchase for his husband. A recent explosion had been cause for a whole new chemistry set, and John had spent freely then as the explosion had been mostly his fault. John had searched tirelessly online for rare books or body parts to no avail; Sherlock's collection appeared complete. In a moment of sheer desperation John had been in the processes of giving his credit card information to a possible terrorist in order to secure some Napalm. Thankfully, his inner rational being had appeared in time and Baker Street, hell London in general, could continue to be at peace. However, John was still without a gift for his husband's birthday.
Sherlock, never failing to miss when his husband was in genuine distress, climbed into bed two nights ago and provided an idea. John had heard him out and immediately shook it off. It was unreasonable of course, Sherlock's requests usually were. "I'll come up with something," he'd muttered into the dark curls and Sherlock had nodded, kissed John's shoulder, and snuggled down for sleep. John had spent the entire night trying to come up with something else. He'd failed and had resolved himself to research Sherlock's' request.
He studied a paneled wall in the back of the store which contained calligraphy samples. There were literally dozens of options and in a moment of clarity it seemed he had found his solution. He searched the wall finding himself drawn to the older fonts. They seemed to suit either his husband's name or initials the best. He certainly couldn't imagine Sherlock's name permanently written anywhere in the bubble like letters of graffiti, which he hadn't been surprised to find where an option.
He mentally chose one, a beautiful loopy scroll that would emphasis the S and had little curlicues on the H. He could picture the two initials intricately mixed together on his - hip perhaps. He shook that idea off, he was over 40 years old, and he could not have initials tattooed on his hip bone. He mentally ran through options in his head: chest, ankle, wrist. He dismissed them all, it was imperative that this be invisible to everyone but Sherlock and anyone offering him emergency medical care. He did not want to listen to the sniggered comments of Anderson or even Mrs. Hudson. There was nothing he could do about Mycroft, but his brother-in-law would ignore it if he didn't see it.
He'd mentally settled on a butt cheek and was turning to the artist when the same rational voice that had prevented the Napalm purchase appeared again. John looked at the bearded man sitting behind a small table. The doctor's mouth was open, finger in the process of pointing when the complete mental U-turn occurred.
"I-," he choked on the words for a moment during the mental reset and finally managed to continue, "cannot do this." He pointed at the wall and the font he'd selected. "I'll have to find something else, a fancy dinner, maybe acid. Sherlock likes acid, right? I made it almost a full career in the military without doing this; it seems ridiculous to do it now." The bearded man just nodded his head, having no idea why he was being included the debate which clearly should have remained internal. "I'll get something else, it will be fine." John gestured at the writing on the wall one more time before stiffening his body with his military resolve and heading towards the door. He nodded halfway across the carpet deciding to research saran gas, surely Sherlock would appreciate that.
John put his hand on the door knob and had managed a foot out the door when he spotted the solution to his problem. He looked at the tiny picture buried at the corner of a panel that he'd stared at several times during his hours of pacing. He couldn't believe he'd failed to see it - the answer. Something that would please his husband and not make him feel like a branded man.
"That," John said, pointing at the tiny figure. "That is it." John turned to the bearded artist and saw a particularly bushy eyebrow push up the man's forehead.
"That one?" the man questioned. John simply nodded his head letting the door close again.
John had been meticulous in keeping the bandage over his gift until Sherlock's actual birthday. Obviously his husband knew that he'd gone through with it, but John had been determined that the actual image remain a secret.
It had been difficult to place the necessary lotions on his arm without his husband trying to spring out from behind the bed or around a corner to get a glimpse. Patience was not one of Sherlock's virtues, and on several occasions the detective had claimed that the anticipation was actually putting him in mortal peril. John had just brushed this concern away and taped his entire arm securely to ensure that Sherlock did not try and peel the bandage away while John slept.
John awoke on the day of his husband's birth to find that Sherlock was sitting cross-legged and anxious on his side of the bed. John smiled leisurely and rolled over jokingly mumbling something about just five more minutes. One of Sherlock's hands had clamped onto John's wrist and the other had held up a bright and shiny pair of scissors. John had swallowed down the natural fear at seeing a sharp instrument in Sherlock's not-always-cautious hand and nodded. The doctor had sat up smoothly and held his arm out for Sherlock to unwrap.
John had braced himself for the sharp pain of quickly pulled tape, but it did not come. Sherlock cut meticulously and slowly removed the tape causing the least amount of discomfort. When long fingers grabbed the corner of the small piece of cotton John held his breath. He was sure that Sherlock would be pleased, but he was unable to keep a twinge of doubt from clouding the corners of his brain.
The cotton was quickly tossed aside, and Sherlock leaned over examining the new permanent image on John's shoulder. John prevented a shiver moving through his body as long fingers traced over the still slightly tender skin. The bumps were gone and the skin no longer red, but it still felt slightly bruised. Sherlock seemed very conscious of this in his touch and John appreciated that. A moment later when Sherlock moved even closer and lips and then a hot tongue joined in the exploration John was unable to prevent his body from reacting.
"Sherlock," John whispered trying to pull away so the chills would stop moving up his spine. Sherlock would not release his grip, but moved his head back and met John's eyes.
"A bee," he smiled and John wondered if it was the bug or himself that stirred the look of arousal in the grey eyes.
"Happy Birthday," John replied reaching across his body to run a hand through the messy dark curls.
"Thank you," Sherlock mumbled turning towards the bee again. The intense gaze was almost palpable but John let him look. He watched the eyes darting madly back and forth taking in every detail. He knew it wouldn't take him long to –
"AH," Sherlock exclaimed straightening and pointing at the bee. A smirk crossed his face in the same instant and he met John's eyes.
"I thought you might like that," John said.
"Oh," Sherlock said, "I do." Sherlock brushed a finger over the tattoo again, gently tracing over the small wings where the faint S and H were hidden among the lines making up the pattern. With a slight adjustment of his lips the smirk became a grin and the feral gleam entered the grey eyes. John shuddered, leaning back as the long body leaned forward.
In one fluid movement Sherlock was straddling John's hips and a hand was closing protectively over the bee.