"There it is again. 'Frequently seen with flatmate, bachelor John Watson'." John flipped the newspaper shut in agitation, was met with a full-colour splash of Sherlock's face on the front page. That bloody hat. "Never just my name, always 'bachelor'. Why do they do that?"
Sherlock stood by the window, drumming his fingers against the pane and surveying the darkening street. "Why does it bother you?" he asked. His tone of voice suggested that he was only half-listening. As usual.
"Well, just... you know."
"No." Suddenly his eyes were on John, inquisitive, penetrative. "I don't know." The admission would have caught John off-guard if he thought for a moment that it was sincere.
He shifted in his seat. Did Sherlock really want to have a conversation about this? Now? "It's just... I'm not, is all."
"So?" He wore an expression John was more than familiar with. His lips stretched wide in a frown like an M, eyebrows stitched together with genuine bafflement at the preoccupations of silly little people like John.
"I don't like being called something I'm not," he said, irritated that he had to explain himself. If Sherlock were normal, he'd understand. "How would you like it?"
"I wouldn't care."
"You would if it was something important to you. What if the papers were saying you were..." God, what would he care about? "Mentally handicapped?"
"I'm not. Obviously." Sherlock sat in his chair and crossed his legs, folding his hands together and placing the tips of his index fingers against his lips. A thought crossed his face and he voiced it. "Is your sexuality that important?"
"If I'm trying to get off with a girl, yeah, it is a bit." John leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and spread his hands wide. "Can you imagine, 'Fancy a drink?', 'But you're gay, I saw it in the papers.'" He sat back, reached for the paper once more. "Can we just not talk about this anymore?" Silence then, but for the rustling of the paper as he thumbed through it. He was halfway through an article about the rising price of petrol before he got fed up with feeling Sherlock's eyes on him. "What?"
"Have you ever tried it?"
The paper lowered slowly, very slowly, until John's eyes appeared just over the top of the page, brow flat with incredulity. "Say again?"
Sherlock's hands rocked forward. He splayed his thumbs in offering clarification. "Simple question."
John stared at him. Shut his mouth eventually. "Of course I've never tried it," he said, exasperation painting his tone. He closed the paper again and lay it aside for good. "Just... why, why does that - ?"
"Scientific method dictates experimentation to prove or disprove a hypothesis." He was so damn sterile about the whole thing, as though they were discussing a specimen in a petri dish. John shook his head, partly wondering, partly annoyed.
"I'm not a bloody scientist," he said, "I'm a doctor. Besides, you've never tried it either." Sherlock remained silent, eyes still fixed on him, wheels turning almost audibly. When it was clear he was going to offer no response, John hedged, "H... have you?"
"Of course not." If John had been anyone else, he would have thought Sherlock looked offended. But it wasn't the suggestion that he might be gay after all that bothered him; John knew him better than that. No, it was – and at this thought, John felt a strange rush of affection – it was the implication that there may be something significant about Sherlock that John didn't already know.
He cleared his throat and pushed back the urge to grin. He was trying to make a point, dammit, and now was not the time to forget that he was irritated. "Well then."
"But I also don't claim to be anything one way or another." He very clearly wasn't going to let this go. John didn't even try to suppress a harried sigh. "You're very adamant."
"What, you want me to prove it?" He couldn't quite believe those words had left his mouth. Oh well.
"I didn't say that."
"So what are you saying?"
"I'm not saying anything."
Oh, that infuriating barely-there smirk. Fingers still steepled, gaze maddeningly knowing, this was a trap. John knew it was a trap. But he was being drawn in and it was too late now and he'd set out to prove something and by God, he was going to prove it, even if it meant –
"God, all right, fine." He was on his feet. "Fine, okay. You and your bloody mind games. I know exactly... just come here."
He hauled him bodily to his feet, then used the momentum to drag him forward by his collar. Their mouths collided and it was, John had to admit, hilariously bad. Sherlock went in open-mouthed, his full lips enveloping John's almost entirely. Not a half-moment after they made contact, he felt Sherlock's tongue, clumsy against his still closed mouth. He pulled back, unable to completely contain a choking giggle. Sherlock frowned, eyelids at half-mast. "You can't just..." John curved his palm, fingers together, and sent it plummeting toward the floor. "Dive in, tongue blazing. Here." He drew Sherlock's face down once more, trying something gentle. This time the taller man left his face stationary, as though actually afraid to move. John pulled back just far enough to mutter, "Pucker, for God's sake. I'm not going to do all the work." Sherlock did and suddenly they fit. "There you are," John sighed against his skin.
He still had his hand twisted in the collar of Sherlock's shirt. He released him and thought, idly, somewhere in the back of his mind where rational thought was still possible, that this was going exactly the way he thought it would. Something in his chest rattled and vibrated, traveling down into his gut and below as he realized that he had thought about it. Twin heat, then, and it took him a moment to figure out that Sherlock had taken him by his upper arms and was tucking him in closer. An impossibly low noise rumbled in Sherlock's throat and John was genuinely surprised to feel the beginnings of an erection.
They parted and stared. John was sure he looked a complete tit, eyes wide, mouth agape. Though he did note, with a smidge of satisfaction, that Sherlock actually looked a bit like a moron for once. Then his eyes flicked toward his room, a heartbeat of suggestion, and John didn't have to wonder at what he wanted. He had every intention of telling him that this had already gone too far, that he thought he had more than proved his point, that there was no need to take things that far.
Which was why he was astonished when he opened his mouth and all that came out was, "Yes."
If anyone had asked – if anyone at all had known – John wouldn't be able to tell them how he went from standing in the middle of the sitting room to the door of Sherlock's room. He didn't remember the passage; he just knew that there he was, struggling to shrug Sherlock's jacket from his shoulders. They'd crossed the threshold before a thought occurred to him. It was a giddy, half-wild thought, and yet entirely sensible in light of what was almost certainly about to happen. "Not – " he attempted, but Sherlock wasn't listening. John grabbed a handful of his curls and wrenched him away from his experimentation on the effects of his tongue on John's neck. "Not yours," he finished.
"Why – "
John shook his head, tried to catch his breath. "You haven't got anything we need," he explained. Thankfully, Sherlock didn't ask him to expound. "I have." He jerked the jacket down his arms and it landed on the floor with a sad, baffled sort of whhp. "Come on."
They managed to get up the stairs in one piece, despite Sherlock's newfound habit of pinning John to the wall to, presumably, practice kissing. John had to concede that he was a marvelously fast learner. But then, he would be. By the time they'd reached his bedroom door, John was nearly gasping. If breathing was difficult, thought was nearly impossible; he was pretty sure all five quarts of his blood were now operating below the belt. And always, simmering somewhere beneath the surface of his arousal, there was a distinct crossness at Sherlock, who still seemed to regard the whole thing as particularly fascinating field research. He felt a sudden and inexplicable need to confirm that any of this was affecting him at all, so he did the first thing that came to mind: he reached down and grabbed Sherlock roughly through his trousers.
A hush, punctuated by shuddered breathing. Their eyes locked, two sets of pupils dilated in the darkness. Oh yes. He was affected.
They staggered into John's room. John hadn't remembered moving the bed, but the backs of his knees clattered against it far sooner than he'd expected and they went tumbling back, arms pinwheeling ridiculously on the way down. Sherlock was on top of him, knocking what wind was left in him back out, and their hips were grinding together and John hardly had time to reflect on how strange it was to feel any sort of hardness against his own before he belt was off. He was ready to chastise Sherlock for moving too quickly – the admonishment was on the tip of his faintly numb tongue – but he bit it back when he realized that his own hands were the culprits.
Sherlock rocked back to sit on his heels and went for the buttons of his shirt. John noticed with alarm that his hands were shaking. He pushed himself up onto his elbows, reached out, and batted the trembling hands aside.
He had a vague sense of disconnect, then. This wasn't him, wasn't his hand slicing finger-claws down Sherlock's shirt, sending buttons skittering all over the duvet and floor. This wasn't his body, writhing beneath Sherlock's, hip-searching for something, anything, to press himself against. Sherlock pulled him upright, yanked his jumper over his head, and it was only when their lips met again that he came crashing back down into his own mind, suddenly very much present.
There was a strange sort of satisfaction, he discovered, in pressing against the chest of another man. No less pleasant than a woman's, he decided, and no less sensitive, which he determined after a quick administration of teeth that sent an almost feral sound shivering from Sherlock's throat, down his chest to meet John's lips. He found his way on top, somehow shedding both their trousers in the process. Here, here he knew what he was doing, knew the way to press and push and promise more.
Long, strong hands folded over his shoulders, not to deter him but to urge him forward; those hands crept along his back and sharp heels dug into the base of his spine. Entangled as he was, he fumbled for the bedside table, managed to pull out the drawer, grab the small plastic bottle. Nearly empty, he hazily noted. He flipped it open and everything was slippery and sudden and Sherlock's fingers were almost piercing his skin, he was gripping him so hard. John dipped low, pulled them together, and the sound Sherlock made rang sharp somewhere between pain and epiphany. John made rhythmic attempts at saying his name, but it only ever started and came out like a hush, making Sherlock clamp his teeth onto the round of John's shoulder. Pain sang through his skin, but he had managed to shut Sherlock Holmes up, and that gave him satisfaction entirely unrelated to anything else.
They both fell silent then, almost. The mattress offered a soft, quick cadence, rrk-rrk-rrk-rrk, offset by John's harsh panting and the occasional gasp from Sherlock. He'd loosed his hold on John's shoulder and lay with his face half-pressed to the pillows, eyes squeezed so tightly shut that John could see tears forming at the seams of his lashes. John shifted, nudged himself closer, shattered the space between them into nothing. Sherlock turned at the change, finally opened his damp eyes as their foreheads met. His face was red, making his pale irises more prominent than ever, and they moved together, finally perfecting their pulse, eyes boring into each other and John felt it then, the pulling heat, drawing from somewhere deep and racing out of control to the light. Sherlock made a noise, strangled, primal, beyond words, and John felt slick warmth between them. He opened his mouth to release nothing at all.
How many minutes passed as he lay there, he wasn't sure. He was only aware of the distant street sounds from outside – cars sweeping past, some bloke barking at another to hurry up already. Sherlock's hand crept up into his hair, an idle, unexpectedly tender gesture that made John smile despite himself. He'd allowed his mind to shut down; he didn't want to think about what this meant or where they'd go from here.
The skin under his ear reverberated as Sherlock said, "Mmm." He was back to sounding thoughtful. John raised his head.
"What?" Sherlock was watching him sidelong, an open-mouthed grin playing around the corners of his mouth. He didn't answer immediately and against all reason, John began to feel self-conscious. "What?" he repeated.
Someone outside shouted with laughter, then quiet reigned again. "I'll ring the papers," Sherlock finally said.
John's face dropped back to his chest and through his helpless giggling, he managed, "Oh, shut up."