Author's Note: Back with another fic so soon! I wrote this for the "vacation fic" theme on fuckyeahjohnlockfanfic . tumblr . com. Wish me luck! Also, I hope you enjoy.

-edit- I got first place. Yay!

Anyways, enjoy some fluffy feels.

Dr John Hamish Watson was glorious in the midday sunlight.

Sherlock had spent many long hours admiring his flatmate in a stunning variety of environments, but this particular set of variables resulted in an image that was nothing short of mesmerising.

The former soldier was dragging himself with obvious reluctance out of a perfect stretch of turquoise ocean. He jogged easily up the beach—fine white sand stretching for miles and miles—towards where the world's only consulting detective was sprawled on a large towel under an umbrella, a thick book open in his hands. There were no proverbial palm trees or other tropical plants, but wild vines dotted with bursts of bright flowers crept along the rolling dunes like long, green fingers. The sky was clear and solid like an endless blue dome that blushed faintly purple at the horizon.

As beautiful as their surroundings were, Sherlock's eyes were fixed firmly on the man approaching him. John was wearing a pair of deep blue swimming trunks that hung low on his hips but were tight in all the places Sherlock liked. The doctor thought he'd selected his swimming attire for a number of practical reasons, but his flatmate knew better. They'd done their vacation shopping together, and it had only taken the detective three minutes to subtly nudge John away from a number of unsuitable alternatives and towards the proper choice: the trunks that perfectly matched the dark sapphire colour of his eyes.

It was too easy sometimes to convince John to unwittingly turn himself into a walking wet dream. He was so open and guileless that he never questioned the strange demands Sherlock made of him at times. Even considering the fact that John thought he was the most inconsiderate person on the face of the Earth, he should have picked up on it by now.

There were only so many times Sherlock could demand that the smaller man reach for something in their cupboard that was far above his head, forcing his shirt to ride up and reveal his taut midriff as he strained his fingers upwards.

There were only so many times Sherlock could drop his phone and refuse to pick it up himself, forcing John to bend over and give him a perfect view of his surprisingly plush arse.

There were only so many times John's dressing gown could go missing while he showered, forcing him to pad to his room for clothing—flushed from the heat of the water—in nothing but a towel.

Really, it was painfully obvious. But then again John always missed everything of importance.

Sherlock Holmes was hopelessly infatuated with his flatmate, and said flatmate was astoundingly ignorant of his affections.

John flopped down next to him on the towel, panting slightly from exertion. Sherlock's eyes traced the shape of his parted lips with practiced ease. In this instance, familiarity in no way bred contempt. He would never tire of admiring their shape: subtle and not obviously extraordinary at first glance, just like the man they belonged to.

John looked like a portrait comprised of every hue of topaz stone and set in a gold frame. The most beautiful thing about him was how casually he devastated Sherlock with his proximity, utterly unaware of the effect he had on others.

His hair was tousled and wild in a way that most men could only achieve by applying generous amounts of product to their heads. His skin was sun-kissed to a delicious golden-bronze colour that made Sherlock salivate at the thought of tasting it. Beads of water dotted his skin like jewels, and occasionally one would begin to slide down the various dips and planes that comprised John's body. Sherlock watched their journeys with rapt attention; the only thing that clouded his focus was the single question that kept repeating in his head: what would it feel like to trace that same slippery path with the tip of his finger?

In short, John looked radiant: a walking testament to Sherlock's iron willpower. It took everything he had to maintain the pretence that he was even remotely aware of the open book in his hands. Every atom of his being was currently fighting the magnetic attraction that urged him continuously towards John.

With a start, he realised his flatmate had spoken to him.

"Apologies. I was lost in thought," Sherlock said, affecting an air of polite disinterest. He wondered how John could possibly overlook the flush that was creeping into his cheeks. "Did you say something?"

"I asked if you're starting to go mental without your mobile yet."

Sherlock had promised to leave it in their beach house, since John insisted it wasn't a real holiday unless Sherlock took absolutely no texts or calls about potential cases.

"I have my book and my observations to distract me."

"What observations?" John gestured to the empty stretches of ocean, sky and land around them. "It's a private beach. There's no one here but us for you to observe."

Sherlock only barely managed to restrain a chuckle. Oh yes, John. That's precisely correct. There's no one here for me to watch but you.

He clapped his book shut with a sharp thunk and slid gracefully to his feet. John was watching him, and so he made certain to move in that languid, liquid fashion that he knew the doctor admired. Being short-limbed and of a stockier build meant that John had a harder time moving elegantly. It was therefore a quality he admired in the women he dated and apparently in Sherlock. The detective, ever the paramour of Drama, was more than willing to indulge him.

"Care for some lunch?"

John grinned. "Are you eating then? This really is a holiday." He scrambled to his feet much less gracefully than Sherlock had and brushed sand off his chest. The detective's gaze was instantly riveted on his tan hands as they travelled over his pectoral muscles, and he very nearly missed what the doctor said next, "I still can't believe you managed to book us such an incredible place to stay, let alone on such a beautiful beach."

"You have Mycroft to thank. Loathe as I am to admit it, his connections can be useful on occasion."

The two men packed up their towel, the assortment of books they'd brought, and their umbrella and began to trot towards the newly-built, bungalow-style beach house that was theirs for the next week.

The house itself was spacious enough to accommodate several guests at a time, but it didn't feel cavernous like some large houses did. The kitchen had black granite counter tops and an island in the centre, complete with a fully-stocked refrigerator, plates, utensils, and enough odd cooking apparatuses to please a professional chef. The dining room was set in a side area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea. The spacious living room had a fireplace—a superfluous addition, really, considering the climate—complete with large, comfortable armchairs and sofas so piled with pillows they could hardly be seen.

There were four bedrooms, each located in a cardinal direction. John had wanted to flip for the one that faced the beach and therefore had the best view, but Sherlock, in what appeared to be a rare moment of generosity, had simply let him have it.

If all went according to plan, it would become their bedroom within a matter of hours.

The detective had taken a bedroom adjacent to John's and had quietly set about unpacking his supplies and sequestering them in innocuous locations about his room on the off chance that John came in to borrow something and saw them.

He would hate for his grand plan to be spoilt before it even began.

Oh, yes. Sherlock had seduction on the brain, and thanks to a little help from his dear older brother, everything was going according to plan.

It hadn't taken him long to decide to act on his desire once he'd realised his feelings for John went well beyond the realm of platonic. He wasn't accustomed to taking cues from his body, but the things he felt when the doctor so much as glanced thoughtfully at him could not be suppressed even by a mind as masterful as his. He wanted John, and he'd had growing suspicions for some time now that his attraction was far from unrequited.

The signs were all there: the lingering glances John gave him when he thought he was lost in thought, the illogical devotion he cultivated to a man who drove him mad and most importantly their ever-present friendship. This was no mere cocktail of hormones and convenience. Their bond, regardless of its orientation, was real and indomitably strong.

Sherlock felt it like a red wire stretching from his heart to John's. It pulsed to the rhythm of their blood pumping through their veins, healthy and alive and happy to be with each other.

Tonight, all would come to fruition. Sherlock would either gain a lover or lose a best friend. He felt deceptively calm despite the risk he was about to take. Perhaps it was the fact that every time he attempted to imagine his life without John, his brain thoroughly rejected the idea.

John was the only individual on the face of the planet whom he trusted completely. If he couldn't hand his heart to him then he would have to accept the fact that he truly was alone on an Earth populated by seven billion people.

The world's only consulting outcast.

When they reached their temporary home, John took off towards his room, calling over his shoulder that he intended to have a shower.

Sherlock went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and began gathering sandwich ingredients.

He urged his mind to savour the last few hours he had left until everything changed forever.

One Week Earlier

"To what do I owe the pleasure, little brother?"

Mycroft was sat behind his large, mahogany desk, groomed to perfection and looking for all intents and purposes like he had an appointment with the Queen later that afternoon. Sherlock only barely managed to suppress the urge to roll his eyes as he closed the office door behind him. He flopped into one of the armchairs across from his brother's desk in a way he knew irritated him.

"I need to ask you for a favour."

"And your way of convincing me to help is to abuse my furniture?"

Sherlock obeyed the unspoken command wordlessly, moving to sit properly in the chair and even going so far as to cross his legs, his right ankle resting on his left knee.

Mycroft immediately assessed him—as the detective knew he would—his dark eyes reading his life's story in his skin and clothing. An act of obsequiousness from Sherlock meant something must be terribly wrong, yet he could see from Mycroft's slight frown that he'd failed to detect any obvious injury or distress.

"Very well then. I'll concede. What is it that you need?"

"I'm in love with John."

There was a beat of utter, thorough astonishment that did not show on Mycroft's face but was present nonetheless.

"I see. I presume you're certain of this?"

"Obviously. You know I wouldn't come here otherwise. I'm in love with him, and I want him to be mine."

Mycroft steepled his fingers in front of his face and studied him pensively. "What brought on this sudden revelation? I was under the impression you had no interest in sex or relationships."

"That was very much the case until I met John. I won't digress on the delights of finding true love; that would serve only to disgust us both. Just know that he is a match and a balance for me in every way, and I trust him completely."

"How do you expect me to aid you in your quest to win fair maiden's heart?"

Sherlock ignored his brother's patronising tone and answered, "I need to know how to seduce a man."

Mycroft, to his credit, managed to cover his shift of discomfort well. "I'm afraid I have very little wisdom to impart in that particular area." He cleared his throat and continued, "I believe you already possess everything you need, dear brother. You know John better than any of his family or friends, perhaps even better than he knows himself. What would win his heart?"

Sherlock looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. "That is quite the case, though I have been accused of being indelicate about these matters in the past. However, he hasn't been deterred by my social inadequacies thus far, and I trust that pattern will continue."

Mycroft hesitated and seemed to be swilling words around in his mouth. After a moment, he asked quietly, "Are you certain his... appetites lie in your favour?"

"I'm approximately 89 percent certain my affections will not be rebuffed on account of my gender."

"Is that a risk you're willing to take?"

For the first time, Sherlock's indifferent mask slipped, and fire flashed in his pale eyes. "Anything is better than this hateful purgatory. Thoughts of him creep into my head at all hours of the day and muddle everything. I'm sleeping and eating even less than I usually do. There are times when I look over and discover my hand is reaching out to touch him without my knowing it. If I continue on this way, I'll combust into a thousand smoldering pieces."

He tiredly rubbed his eyes, and for a moment Mycroft saw an image of his brother from many long years ago: he was a child, crying on the ground after another boy had shoved him. He had not yet learnt to school his emotions, to secret them behind the prestige and superiority their name inherently possessed. Sherlock had been tired back then too, desperately trying to understand why the adults looked at him like they couldn't fathom what manner of creature he was.

It wasn't easy to be a Holmes boy. The children couldn't understand them, and the adults were unsettled by the keen intelligence glittering in their eyes.

"I'll help you." The words seem to startle Mycroft, as if he hadn't planned on saying them. He didn't retract them, however, and indeed a moment later he reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a business card. "Call this travel agent. He is the sole proprietor of a lovely stretch of beach on the southern coast. It's warm enough for swimming at this time of year, and the location is beautiful, secluded and the best place I know to begin a romance."

Sherlock took the card and scanned the location printed under the agent's name. "Hope Springs?"

"The name is somewhat misleading, as there is no actual spring. It's a fishing town situated further inland from the private beaches. It has that quaint, small-population charm that some find alluring. I'm certain John will prove to be one of those individuals."

Sherlock chuckled. "Undoubtedly." He glanced up and studied his brother's face. For the first time in a long while, he felt something akin to gratitude towards his older brother.

He tried to hide the note of vulnerability in his voice as he asked, "Do you really think this will work?"

"Hope springs eternal."

"That was truly dreadful, brother."

Present Day: Evening

"Sherlock, will you please just tell me where we're going?" John took a step forward, stubbed his toe, and cursed aloud. "Is the blindfold really necessary?"

"Yes," was the simple response. Sherlock had been increasingly vague as the day progressed, ranging from avoiding answering him about their dinner plans to informing John that he had a "surprise" for him later that he then refused to expound upon.

The former soldier hadn't thought much of it until Sherlock had appeared next to him while he was reading on one of the sofas with a silk scarf in his hands.

John had quirked an eyebrow at him. "What's that for?"

"You."

"Pardon?"

"It's for you. It's time for your surprise."

Accustomed as he was to Sherlock's eccentricities, he'd actually allowed himself to be blindfolded and then led by the elbow out of their bungalow and into the cool night air. The sound of the roaring ocean waves was to his left and faded with each step, which meant they were headed into the thin trees that scattered the inland coast.

He tripped over a root and cursed again. "Sherlock, can you not be more careful about where you lead me? I'm going to break a toe at this rate."

"I apologise." His genuine tone caught John by surprise. He almost thought there was an undercurrent of nervousness in the other man's voice. "I'm not being as attentive as I should be because I'm anxious to arrive."

"That's all right," John murmured, mollified by his flatmate's uncharacteristic honesty. It wasn't often that Sherlock confessed to feeling anything more than boredom and contempt. He felt a tingle of anticipation in the pit of his stomach. Whatever Sherlock had in store for him, it was clearly important.

For a flash of a moment, John almost allowed himself to think…

But no, that was impossible. Sherlock's surprise was probably a dead body he'd found in the woods. He would never do anything… like that. For him.

John was just the loyal sidekick, ever present at his side while he careened into the unknown.

They trudged on for what the soldier estimated to be another fifty metres. Sherlock seemed to have taken his physical well-being into consideration because he didn't trip again.

"Right here, John."

The doctor felt large hands on his shoulders, steadying him in place. The detective left him then, and there were rustling sounds to his left. John would never admit it aloud, but his heart was pounding in his chest so furiously he could feel it behind his ears. He was standing in the woods, blindfolded, with his unpredictable flatmate, waiting for God only knows what, and he was fairly certain he'd never before been this excited. He couldn't keep his thoughts from flying in a thousand different directions no matter how desperately he tried to rein them in. He kept ordering himself not to get his hopes up, but everyone knew the old adage about that.

He felt rather than saw Sherlock draw up in front of him. The heat from his body was an unmistakable contrast to the cool night air, pressing against John's chest like a physical touch. He twitched when he felt unexpected fingers brush his temple where the blindfold had been tied. His heart was doing somersaults inside of him. It almost stopped entirely when he felt Sherlock hesitate and suck in a breath that was audibly shaking.

"S-Sherlock?" he ventured, cringing when his voice cracked. The tension between them was thick and heavy with unasked questions.

"John," the detective responded, his voice no louder than a murmur, "I want to show you this so badly, but I've never been more afraid."

The anxiety in his voice was obvious, and the doctor acted without thinking. He reached up and wrapped his hand around the thin wrist that was hovering by his temple. "Whatever it is, Sherlock, you can trust me. There's nothing you can show me that will drive me away."

He heard his flatmate exhale a slow, tense breath, and then the blindfold lifted.

John blinked against the sudden light, waiting for his eyes to adjust.

When they did, his heart spasmed in his chest.

They were standing on the shore of a small lake surrounded by thin, springy trees. The moon was bright and full in the sky like a glowing porcelain plate. Gray-blue clouds made the sky ripple like the waves they'd spent the day admiring.

That wasn't what made his stomach swell with nerves, however.

A thousand lanterns hung from the branches of every tree within ten metres of the lake. They were an impossible rainbow of colours, from fiery reds to the softest lilacs, all blending together in a cornucopia of light. The smooth surface of the lake reflected them along with the moon, multiplying them and making the whole clearing shimmer with thousands of orbs of colour and warmth.

It was, in short, a perfect wonderland, like something out of a fantastic dream.

At that moment, John felt like they were the only two people on the face of the planet.

After a long, breathless pause, John tore his eyes away from the trees and looked to the ground. A blanket was spread out at the base of a tree. Two long candles were flickering in silver holders in the centre next to a picnic basket and an unopened bottle of red wine.

It wasn't until he looked at Sherlock that the full implications hit him.

The detective's angular face was half hidden in shadow, but the skin that caught the moonlight looked fluorescent. His lips were tense, and his eyes were wild. He looked… vulnerable. More vulnerable than John had ever seen him look before. He looked like a man who balanced on the edge of a knife, and no matter which way he fell his life would never be the same again.

"Sherlock," John breathed in one long, shaking exhale, "this is incredible."

"You like it?" The detective's normally smooth baritone was spiked with emotion.

John could only nod his head in response. His brain was tingling like electricity, and for one horrifying moment, he thought his knees might actually buckle.

Then Sherlock took his hands in his, and the whole world grew still and quiet in anticipation.

The taller man turned his face into the shadows, hiding himself from his flatmate's searching gaze. "John, I don't know how to say this. I'm not good with… this, this sort of thing. So… I'm just going to say it."

He turned fully to John, his eyes wary and skittish like a cornered animal. He sucked in one final breath and then released a deluge of words, "I love you. I love you completely. I've never felt this way about anyone before. I think I've loved you from the moment you walked into Bart's. I read everything in your face that day: your character and your heart. You're the best person I know, the most… wonderful, good person in all the world. I could never trust anyone else with my heart." His voice broke, and he paused, swallowing audibly. "I love you, and if you'll have me, I'll spend my life trying to be worthy of you."

The pause that followed his declaration stretched on and on until it seemed to spiral into infinity.

John's mind was blank, but his body was humming. He felt like every fibre of his being was vibrating like taut violin strings.

In a blinding flash of intuition, he saw everything that he was, everything that Sherlock was and everything they had become in their time together. He'd never before understood just how thoroughly the mad, inconsiderate, immature, utterly brilliant, beautiful man in front of him had delved into his heart and made a home for himself there.

Wordlessly, John reached forward, placed his hands on either side of Sherlock's face, and pulled him into a kiss.

The first thing he noticed was the impossible warmth. Sherlock was like a small sun pressing against him, filling him with heat and light.

The next thing he noticed was the softness. With every brush of their lips, he felt like he was being touched by fleshy satin.

The final thought that sunk into his brain as Sherlock tangled his fingers in his shirt and pulled him closer was that he'd never felt more complete in his entire life. A piece of himself had been missing before, and now this other man was putting it back, filling him completely.

After that, his mind shuddered beneath the task of forming any semblance of coherent thought. Sherlock's mouth was hot and insistent against his, plying him for more and more. He responded eagerly, parting his lips and darting his tongue out to taste the skin of the man he loved, the man he'd waited for all these long years.

Sherlock pulled back, and John whimpered at the loss. They admired each other, eyes roaming over faces they knew so well yet had never truly seen before.

John slipped his arms around the other man and hugged him as tightly as he could. "I love you too, Sherlock. I have for a long time."

"Why?"

The doctor drew back and studied the other man's face. Sherlock had a deep sadness in his eyes, something that seemed to glow with ghosts from the past.

John smiled gently at him and answered from his very soul, "Because you're perfect. You're flawed and dreadful in all the ways that make you beautiful to me. Your strengths fit right into my weaknesses, and I look forward to holding you up when you're much too weak to stand alone."

Sherlock smiled, and some of the sadness from a lifetime of loneliness eased out of his eyes and drifted up into the night sky. He leaned down and pressed their lips briefly but firmly together. "Thank you, John. I can't tell you how much that means to me."

They twined their fingers together and made their way towards their moonlit picnic. They chatted and joked and argued together as they had for several years now, yet something irrevocable and incredible had changed between them.

There was no more need to hide. Their pasts were dead, their presents were merged, and they had a warm, loving future together to look forward to.

Hope does, after all, spring eternal.