The full title of this work is "The Effects of Domesticity on the Average, Urban, Consulting Detective: A Glimpse," but won't let me TITLE IT THAT.
John sniffles as he walks into the flat, the cold evident in the redness of his nose. "You've not gotten off the sofa, then?" he asks as he passes through, setting his parcels on the lounge chair opposite his flatmate. Sherlock doesn't bother bestowing him a glance, instead spinning his mobile between his hands and staring at the ceiling.
"Solved the McAllister situation, if anyone had cared to read the case file to begin with, if you'd simply opened the manilla folder and read about the DNA sample," with this, he flicks his gaze to John briefly. "The postman-it seems-was about to be sacked for pilfering the neighbors' mail." The tone in which Sherlock delivers this crucial element to the case is exceedingly mundane and the notion that this is knowledge that is somehow so common and simple that he can't inject the slightest inflection to his voice pisses John off. "Exceedingly obvious, you should have caught it."
"Right, well, simple open and shut for you," he grinds out, gathering up the shopping once again. "I apologize that my lack of proper knowledge on the subject somehow seemed to slow down your deductive process. Sorry I'm so thick. Also Sherlock? I never had the McAllister file because you never gave it to me, so I apologize for not catching something I'd had no opportunity to review in the first place!" John's voice cracks a bit at the end, his quiet anger jostling his words.
"You must luxuriate in being purposefully obtuse," he says as he tosses his mobile into the air, catching it between his palms before repeating the process.
John is used to this sort of behavior and thus it's become that much less abrasive; it's almost compulsory when he comments, "God, you're a dick," as he heads to the kitchen with their shopping.
"Come help me put these in the cupboard," John calls and fully expects Sherlock to return with a derogatory comment about how his time might be better spent but as John pulls out a bushel of celery from the depths, Sherlock steps right up beside him and opens a bag.
He roots around and not finding anything to his liking, shoves it across the table. "Did you pick up the crisps I like?"
John pulls a package from the bag and tosses it in Sherlock's general direction. Of course he picked up the crisps and the biscuits and even aubergine as it's one of the few vegetables he's ever heard Sherlock mentioning enjoying and John had entertained the notion of cooking a lasagne with it.
"Passive aggression is your default as of late, why is that?"
Rolling his eyes, he sets more packages out onto the table, pointedly ignoring Sherlock's question. "Find space in the food cupboards for these and be sure you only put them in the food cupboards Sherlock. I wasn't kidding, I'll start labelling yours biohazard if I find a petri dish next to the flour again."
John blinks and glances over at his friend whose jaw is set in an unpleasant scowl. John's brows raise expectantly and without a word, Sherlock goes about doing as asked, carefully fitting foodstuffs into cupboards while John tackles the refrigerator, ensuring that Sherlock's experiments have remained relegated to Sherlock's shelves.
Sherlock is finally, shockingly, assimilating to living with another human being. There's not an incredible amount of effort put forth by him, but the little that is is overwhelmingly helpful; John finds is that much easier in maintaining some semblance of order in their flat.
"Our lives are chaos," John had reasoned when he'd suggested that Sherlock just help him, even a little. "Our flat shouldn't be." He had added, almost as an afterthought. "Imagine how much easier it would be for you to keep track of your experiments if we tidied and... catalogued."
Sherlock had said nothing but when John had pointed out which shelves and drawers were for his things (and he'd been sure to give him an exceedingly large amount of space) Sherlock had perked a brow and nodded crisply. Even more surprisingly, he seemed to be keeping up with it.
"Oi, good on you for keeping your things... properly contained," John mentions, a tad of pride creeping into his voice.
"I do not need to be praised for keeping with the flat guidelines," Sherlock spits, handling a box of pasta with a bit more force than needed.
John snorts, "All the same, good on you."
Neither one of them know it, neither one has an inkling but this set of events is the catalyst for their transition from partners to partners.
There's really no system to the books in the living room and it doesn't so much bother John as, well, yes, it quite bothers John. It will gnaw at him at the strangest of times, when he's taking a nap on the sofa or watching telly and he'll glance up and the sight of the texts all astray will set his teeth on edge.
He finds himself in slight fits of cleanliness when he can stand the dusty dankness of the flat no longer. He'll beat rugs out the window and take cloths over all of the surfaces, scrub out the soot from the light fixtures, brightening the room considerably. John has even been known to scrub at the fireplace when Sherlock isn't around. But the books, he refuses to touch the books as they aren't his and he has therefore no right to move them.
"John, stop staring," Sherlock remarks to him one evening, both of them in a chair, reading; Sherlock a tome in German and John The Evening Standard.
John doesn't blink, his eyes resting on Larousse Gastronomique and lingering. "'m not," John murmurs, hears Sherlock moving about in his seat but does not regard him.
"Dear god, does it really bother you that much?" comes his snide comment and John simply cannot stop staring at the meaty tome. "Honestly John, if you wish to reorganize the shelves than just... just... do so."
Their gaze meets over their respective reading.
John waits a beat, "What, really?"
"I'm not going to do it," he turns a page. "Obviously."
Oh, this pleases John, it pleases John very much. He's already reorganizing the books in his head but will certainly not give the pleasure of allowing Sherlock to actually see him do it.
"I'm making curry, having Mrs. Hudson round for tea and you're joining us," John says as he drops yet more parcels onto the kitchen table, interrupting Sherlock's reading. The man's feet are propped up on a volume detailing the maladies of the human brain and therefore not on the table itself and thus John refrains from throwing a fit.
From his low position in the chair, John can only make out Sherlock's eyes which perk with confusion and a bit of anger. "What? Why?" Sherlock pouts.
John smiles, knowing full well the objection that was coming. "Because she's kind to us, Sherlock. Because she's friendly. Because she tidies our flat without our asking and she often times brings us round food and because it's what decent people do for their-"
"Landladies?" Sherlock barks, swinging his feet off of the table and straightening.
John unpacks a few cans of tomato paste and a package of lentils. "Whatever you'll call her. But if I remember correctly it was you that displayed some very real affection for her when she was attacked by that sodding American," John says slyly, meeting Sherlock's gaze over his shoulder.
"Shut up," Sherlock says, more quietly than usual and it doesn't carry quite the edge. Of course he cares for Mrs. Hudson, he cares as deeply as he's able for another human being. What's most endearing about the situation is how delightfully embarrassed he becomes when John refers to it, as though the simple act of caring makes him somehow a lesser being.
John knows that Sherlock does not believe that to be true though he acts as though it is; it's easier that way, John supposes. To not care for anyone because he pretends to believe it a weakness. Still, Sherlock cares for Mrs. Hudson and for Gregory Lestrade, for Molly Hooper, John himself and even Mycroft.
Yes, he's not a cold-hearted machine. He simply doesn't make a habit or particularly enjoy making a habit of putting those emotions on display.
Sherlock begins tidying his reading when he notices that indeed John intends to spend some time in the kitchen. "...will it be spicy, at least?"
"Spicy as you like," John smiles pleasantly, opening a packet of chicken onto the cutting board. Sherlock stands there behind him, staring down as John's ministrations. They stand like that for a moment, John's slow, controlled movements pulling a pot from here, a bit of garlic from there. "Bit hard," he says as he shucks a clove, "Cooking with you looking over my shoulder."
"Right, I'll be off then. Back in an hour, two at most," Sherlock spins away, seemingly doing loads of things at once. Snatching up his papers, his Moleskein, coat and scarf. "I suppose I'll text? If I'm going to be..." And there, then, Sherlock searches for appropriate words. This is what one does if one has a scheduled gathering to attend. One alerts those they're to meet of where they are.
John pauses in his movements and looks over at Sherlock with unveiled, absolute surprise. "Uh, yeh, yeh, that'd be good," John murmurs, his jaw working to enunciate his voice over the swell of affection for his flatmate in that moment.
"Off then!" Sherlock shouts before he disappears down the steps.
Upon his return, Sherlock has a canvas rucksack over his shoulder and a somehow wildly timid look in his gaze; he bounds up the steps two by two and arrives in the sitting room with a burst, nearly startling the cup out of Mrs. Hudson's hands. "Ah, dear Sherlock, you're a bit of a hurricane, aren't you there?"
"Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock slows and stills, unwraps his scarf with his free hand before slipping his coat off, maneuvering the bag.
He moves into the kitchen to John stirring a fragrant pot. "Won't be a minute," John says jovially and looks up when he receives no answer from Sherlock.
What he's faced with is no Sherlock for he's sped through to his room but on the table in his wake are two bottles of wine.
Two bottles of fairly expensive wine that will no doubt complement the meal.
John doesn't know whether to smile or... or...
"Ehem, dinner then, Mrs. Hudson?"
"I suppose you'll grow a beard, then," John replies over the top of the morning paper to Sherlock's shout of "Damn it, John, I can't shave."
"I'm rather aware that it's possible to grow facial hair," Sherlock comments. "I simply do not wish to grow any." His eyes light as though he's saying, 'Understand?'
John blinks at him slowly, glances down at Sherlock's left wrist, encased in a brace; in his right hand is a shaving brush. Of course Sherlock favors the luxury of a close, razor shave. John's own razor is a simple electric thing. He hasn't touched a straight razor in ages, since the war. He's certainly never shaved another man which is exactly what Sherlock is insisting with both his gaze and body language that he should be doing.
He lends a voice to his thoughts.
"You're the one who insisted on splinting me," Sherlock shoves his injured hand closer to John. "If you'd let me remove the blasted thing I could do this myself!"
"Not a chance," he folds the paper in his lap and lays it carefully on the table. "I have to say, it would be amusing to see what you would look like with a beard. No, mustache, better!" While John grins, Sherlock scowls.
Two days without a shave and the shadow of growth stands out starkly in contrast to alabaster skin. It really would be a sight, Sherlock with facial hair. John supposes he'd likely see Sherlock with a faux beard as a disguise for a case before he sees his flatmate with any real facial hair, but it's an amusing notion to entertain.
Still, John stands and holds his hand out for the brush which Sherlock hands over with only a flicker of surprise dashing across his irises. John walks past him and into the bathroom where Sherlock has already laid out the tools he will need. "This a badger hair brush?" as John enters and plops himself down on the toilet.
At Sherlock's quick nod, John smiles and shakes his head. "You're an odd man."
Rolling his eyes, the detective picks up a towel from the basin and holds it to his cheeks and jaw while John rests the brush in the little hot water at the bottom of the accompanying mug. "Where did you, no, nevermind," he murmurs as he twists the lid off of his jar of cream.
From behind the towel, Sherlock speaks, "My grandfather was a master in the art of the straight razor shave," he offers without emotion, eyes focusing on his reflection in the mirror.
John blinks up at him, "Ah."
Their gazes meet and shiver together for a moment before John stands. "Sit," he instructs gently, trading positions with Sherlock. John steps forward, removing the towel from Sherlock's hands and hanging it over the outer wall of the shower and steps into the space between the man's knees.
"Now be absolutely. Still."
"Yes, thank you John. I have done this several thousand times but do impress upon me once more what a sharp razor can do to my carotid?"
John's purse is answer enough but he follows it with, "Listen, I'm the one holding the blade here, so maybe don't get so smart with me?"
Sherlock sets his jaw and tilts his head back and just before John begins, says, "I trust you completely."
John takes his time, feels Sherlock's breath puff out from his nose; the other man doesn't move, not a whisper and as he proceeds, John loosens up a bit, grips Sherlock's shoulder with less precision and allows himself to feel the heat beneath his hand. He steadies his left hand against the right side of Sherlock's neck when it's done and he's moved to the right.
John murmurs things like, "To the left," "Back, just a bit," and "Almost through," but he doesn't speak otherwise.
The air in the bathroom is humid and the winter sun is curling its last rays against the frame of the window, sending slanting shadows cascading into the 's an intimacy to this act to begin with but John feels it even more acutely, especially when Sherlock's eyes slip closed and his breathing relaxes.
As he pulls the blade carefully over Sherlock's upper lip, John allows himself to linger over his mouth, pondering over its exact shape. Yes, he decides in that moment, Sherlock is a beautiful man, a beautiful person. Just... lovely.
This quiet that surrounds them pulses in John's ears as he lingers against Sherlock's skin for one more moment, just gazing.
This is all quite nice.
John folds Sherlock's pants, doesn't think twice about it.
Sherlock doesn't think twice about John folding his pants, either.
No one really thinks of anything at all until Mrs. Hudson remarks, "Kind of you to be taking care of the laundry, dear, Sherlock needs some taking care of." She fluffs a pillow on their sofa that truly does not need any more fluffing.
"I'm not-" John says just as he snatches up a pair of fitted, black, silk underwear. Alright, this is a bit, this is a bit... a bit... "Bollocks," John swears under his breath and Mrs. Hudson snaps her head up, meets his gaze.
"I'm," John begins and then pauses because, what of it? He laughs. "Oi," and he dangles the pair of pants on a finger. "This is mad, properly."
Mrs. Hudson smiles a bit, kindly. "To each their own, John. I personally think it's splendid."
John is very aware what she thinks is splendid; what she thinks is splendid is the same sort of relationship that the rest of Britain thinks is splendid and nothing but rumor and therefore regarded in the media as fact. He doesn't bother correcting her. "I suppose it's not so bad," his chuckles die out as he tosses the pants into the basket with all of the other clean clothes.
"He does have an awful lot of clothes dry cleaned, doesn't he," she comments as she makes her way into the kitchen and puts the kettle to boil.
He doesn't reply to her because he's just realizing that it's Sherlock's job to pick up the dry cleaning and it's his to do the wash it's all right domestic. Properly domestic.
Oh dear. Oh dear? Oh dear.
"Tea, John?" Mrs. Hudson breaks in, and he decides to ruminate on everything later, after a good, strong cuppa.
"Takeaway," Sherlock says shortly, dropping a plastic bag into John's lap. From his position on the couch, John starts at having a lapful of lo mein. "There are dumplings as well, though you know how they tend not to travel well, so, we'll see."
John just sits there with a hot bag on his thighs wondering what the hell is happening; he'd fallen asleep on the couch and at the moment he's playing quite a bit of catch up. "Wha, wha-food, yes, I, Sherlock..."
He's no longer in the sitting room or the kitchen but he's passed through to his bedroom and John can hear him moving about in there, opening and closing his cupboard; John runs a hand through his hair, passes a hard palm over his eyes and stands, maneuvering the bag in lethargic hands. He barely manages to make it to the table before Sherlock emerges in pajamas, his hair erratic, his stride shaky.
John has stopped questioning Sherlock's eating habits; he simply does not pause for food when he's on a case and that's that. Often times when John will place a piece of toast in front of him during such a spell, Sherlock will eat it out of habit, absentmindedly, not really tasting what he's chewing. Sherlock without a case tends to be a shade close to ravenous. It's days such as this that the younger man will return home with Korean or Thai, Italian and one dreadful time Hungarian. It's always a sumptuous meal and there's always more than enough for John, specific dishes chosen for him, Sherlock knowing his tastebuds better than he does, it seems.
"Still nothing on?" John yawns and slides out two plates from the cupboard.
"No, and no plates. Not necessary," Sherlock is already seated, ripping open the paper bag, popping the lid on fragrant beef with broccoli; there are chopsticks rooting around in the mass before John even has a chance to sit across from him and when he does, he begins unloading the rest of the meal.
Eggrolls, vegetable lo mein, pork. John extracts another pair of chopsticks and begins eating out of the box of lo mein. It's only a moment before Sherlock has snatched it from his hands for a large bite.
"Oi, the hell?" John barks through a mouthful of noodles just as Sherlock is shoving the box back at him. John's roll of the eyes is so purposeful that he feels that he's nearly pulled an ocular nerve but he simply reaches across the table and sinks his sticks into the beef with broccoli, dragging bits back to his side of the table.
The rest of the meal progresses thus, each stealing the other's containers whenever they feel necessary.
He's back and forth, back and forth; John has successfully managed to tune him out about an hour ago. Sherlock is talking to himself and himself alone; John knows this because he is murmuring in Russian and John cannot speak Russian (but he's pretty sure that yeah, it's Russian).
At all, not a lick. Essentially, Sherlock has segued into an indecipherable language to grant John a bit of peace.
Back and forth and back and forth, the window to the sofa and back and forth. It's been going on for longer than John's tuned him out, having started somewhere around half noon and continuing steadily through until now, a quarter to three.
John barely pays him any mind at all until his pacing becomes shorter, shorter and stops. Sherlock is standing directly behind John's chair, he can feel him there, body heat rolling off to lick against John's nape. He does nothing, doesn't move, doesn't breathe, won't be the distraction that breaks Sherlock right as he's on the cusp of deduction.
There is a hand in John's hair, strong, assured, carding through. Fingertips balance on his scalp before moving down, over, massaging. John hums low in his throat as John treads a strange line between confused and relaxed, surprised and sated. "Hmmm," Sherlock purrs again, going on speaking to himself in a syrrillic tongue.
"Sherlock," John whispers. Not that this isn't brilliant and quite comforting, but there's a voice in his head that would very much like to know exactly what is happening.
"Shut up, John," Sherlock insists quietly, "This is helping me to... think."
John sighs, supposes he doesn't have to read into this really at all and it feels startlingly lovely and the massaging coupled with the rough and low tongue Sherlock is speaking in serves to lull him a bit.
It lulls him, in fact, until he falls asleep in the chair.
When he wakes, it is to an empty flat.
Sherlock lifts his feet before even having to be asked.
"Up against the wall!" Sherlock hisses as he swings John into the alleyway as the shorter man follows, confused.
Their suspect is walking towards them and there's no time. "Sherlock, what-" he begins equally as quietly before Sherlock's mouth slants over his and halts any further words John had planned on speaking.
A hand on either side of John's head - to obstruct the view of passersby, wouldn't want to be identified while tailing a potential serial killer - and they stand there, still, waiting for the sharp bootfalls to pass the alleyway. As the woman comes upon the outlet Sherlock dips his head, upper lip sliding over John's lower one brashly, John's mouth falling open just a bit.
If anyone were to pass by they would simply see two people - just people, wouldn't be able to make out the specifics, it's too dark - snogging in an alley. It's a moment, two, before the suspect is far enough away that they can pick up their tail. Nevermind how the woman had managed to double back and gain on them, and really, neither one of them is thinking about the suspect which is a problem because Sherlock should be thinking of the suspect.
John should be thinking about the suspect.
Instead, John is calculating the angle of curve of Sherlock's upper lip and deciding whether he likes Sherlock kissing him or positively loves it and to what degree he should properly break down about liking/loving such an action.
John wonders - very fuzzily - if there wouldn't have been a better method for attempting inconspicuous. A fight, that's right out; two men simply walking down a blocked-off, signed alleyway would draw attention. But two people, faces obscured by wayward limbs, kissing in an alleyway, well, most people would simply glance the other way as though not to intrude or perhaps incur the ire of the couple attempting to sneak a moment of semi-private if gritty intimacy. Sure, just a clever ruse. Just a... clever ruse...
John glances up and catches Sherlock's gaze, icy mint meeting clear blue and it's something, his eyes in that light, face obstructed by shadow. The way he breathes, heavily, his chest heaving against John's as his hands skitter down the brick and he pushes himself back upright, spine starchly straight.
John's chest heaves too, he's frightened at how hard his breathing becomes. "Chester is getting away," John croaks, feels his cheeks heat.
"Yes, yes," Sherlock pulls his coat straight, sniffs, "Come, John!"
"That's - jesus, what have you been doing with the water that the hydro is so-"
Sherlock caps an erlenmeyer flask and glances at John as he shakes, the mixture turning somehow from a dusty brown to a bright blue. John doesn't want to know. "Apologies, I'll take care of it."
"You'll take care of it?" he flips through another stack of mail. "In that you'll actually take care of it or I'll have a notice in two weeks that it's gone to collection?" John checks his pension benefit off of his tidy list of "FINANCES" and shreds some junk mail.
"I will send them an authorized cheque, is that sufficient? Or would you like me to detail the process through which I'll ensure that it will be properly cashed because-"
"Right, right, stop being an ass and thank you," John opens another letter and peruses it. It goes like that for quite a bit until John gets up to make them both tea. Sherlock plops in sugar cubes when John places them on the table.
They go about their day.
"Give me your hand, John," Sherlock demands as they walk out of St. Barts. It's cold and it's late and John doesn't think twice about 'handing it over' so to speak. Sherlock takes it in his, slides his leather-clad fingers against John's naked ones and curls.
A proper hold.
"Right?" John asks as he falls into step with the detective, one and a half of John's for one of Sherlock's.
John doesn't ask why and Sherlock doesn't explain but they're three blocks into their journey before Sherlock releases him.
Sherlock is in the bathroom.
John is in the bathroom.
There's a problem here because John is in the shower and Sherlock is, well, Sherlock is in the bathroom while John is in the shower. "Sherlock, this is another of those times where you've invaded my personal space."
John hears Sherlock turn on the tap though John can't see what he's up to for all the steam. "You were in the military John, I can't imagine the shower tents having individual stalls. Or is it that you're uneasy about your body? No reason to be, your still quite fit, still find time to work in a jog through Regents, hide those dumbbells beneath your bed. Or is it simply I'm a man who knows you more intimately than your comrades at arms and you believe the sight of you naked will somehow alter of our understanding of one another?"
John pauses with a bar of soap halfway up his stomach as he analyzes Sherlock's voice, the tremor there. He's attempting for calm but even John can tell he's a bit... unsettled.
The first instinct that John has at the moment is to buffer the situation with humor and he snaps out of statis, slips the bar of soap beneath his arm. "If you wanted to see me naked Sherlock you only had to ask." It's a bit more sassy than he's aiming for and the way it sounds as soon as it leaves his mouth...
Sherlock turns off the tap and John smiles to himself, imagining the annoyed line of Sherlock's mouth.
He slips the bar over his shoulders and steps beneath the spray, all the while still smiling to himself; as the spray passes over his face the smile slips off only to re-perk as John presses his hands to his eyes, opens them and-
"Jesus, fuck Sherlock!" the man is nearly against the glass of the shower cubicle, self-satisfied half-smile tipping up the right side of his face. "Get the, what the, get out!"
"As a doctor you shouldn't be so embarrassed by the naked human body, it's just anatomy" Sherlock says, the humid steam curling his hair even further.
Kneejerk reaction and John's hand drops to cover his penis. "Not the human body, my body Sherlock and I-" with each word, his outrage and annoyance grows and with each word, Sherlock's half-smile threatens to become a grin. Having had quite enough, John pulls his hands away, bends full over and reaches for the shampoo, dangling it in front of Sherlock's gaze.
"Right, cheers then, mate!"
He lathers his hair, rinses, Sherlock is gone when he opens his eyes.
The first time there is a purposeful kiss, something real that they can't pass off for 'undercover work' is when John is coming in from a very late shift at the surgery. He pushes the inside door to the flat open and Sherlock is standing there, hands in his pockets.
"Hi," John says sleepily, giving him a half smile.
Sherlock says nothing, instead leans in, lays his lips upon John's and lingers. After a moment, he pulls away and resumes standing before him. "To bed, John, you're exhausted."
John just smiles that sleepy smile, says, "Yeah," and is off upstairs to bed.
There are stars, that's the first thing John realizes on the walk home; the night is so crystalline that he can see actual stars in the night sky and that's a feat; London has so many artificial lights that the lights from the atmosphere are generally blotted out.
The window in John's room is open, he notices as he enters. He wracks his tired brain and resolves that no, he did not leave it open when he left for the surgery in the morning. Cautiously, drawing the gun from the false bottom in his bedside table, he thumbs the safety off. He takes, one, two, three strides silently across the room and shifts up against the wall.
"The stars are out, John," he hears words murmured, drops the .45 to his side and sighs relief.
"Sherlock, jesus, what are you-" but he pauses in his reprimands to return his gun to his bedside, slipping the safety back on. There's a moment he takes, a breath and then another and steps towards the open window, clambers through, back to the eve and moves upward until he hits the bit where it all flattens out.
John glances at Sherlock who has a bottle of bourbon next to him, the one from the cupboard, only a finger or two drained. "Drinking on the roof, safe." There's reckless abandon that causes him to reach for the bottle, notes that the cap is cork and therefore expensive and yanks it out with his teeth - he takes a drag from it and then goes to recork it.
John thinks again and takes another pull.
Sherlock sighs, "Well, the stars were out."
"That means you should be on the roof instead of a bench out in the park," and still, John settles himself back, elbows on the tar shingling of the roof.
"Closer here," Sherlock says, looking nowhere at him, nowhere even close.
John smiles; it's calm and cool and nice out and he can't really be angry, can't be upset. "You don't understand or even want to bother with the cosmos, Sherlock," he reminds casually.
"That does not mean I can't appreciate how enchanting they are," his voice is deadpan and thin.
John takes in Sherlock's appearance; the shirtsleeves twisted up to the elbows, the manic eyes. It's not, he's not been... "How long has it been since you slept?" John can guess, give or take a few hours, but he needs to hear Sherlock say it.
"Forty-seven hours, but then you could have estimated," he says, skittering the fingers of his right hand over the glass of the bourbon bottle.
John shrugs, steals the bottle away, pops it open once more feeling quite warm with the swallow. "Still, thank you for... not lying."
Sherlock says nothing but settles in a bit more, leans forward, folded and arms resting on his knees. "Aside from appreciating the stars, is there any other reason for coming all the way up here?"
"Thinking," Sherlock murmurs.
John smiles warmly, "Inside too... stifling?"
"Perhaps," Sherlock says slowly and then suddenly, his cadence changes; rapid fire. "I had been thinking about many things, most of all how bizarre it was that I was working out how to ask you if I could take you to bed. Pondering over the intricacies of it all, why really I was thinking it in the first place."
"What, I'm wait, what?"
"Sex, John, do attempt to follow the thread of the conversation." Sherlock brushes John aside with a flick of his wrist.
And it strikes John then; there's a soft and hard, a push and pull, a Sherlock who speaks entirely differently in moments when he's completely nervous. This is one of them; prim and to the point because he's in fear of rejection.
"Okay, fine yes," John finds himself saying and, what, wait, fine? John's brain has to play catch up; of course he's in love with the man, but sex? Sex with another man is an area completely out of his purview. Not that it... does it?...not that it matters.
That's a crisis for later because Sherlock is on the tail end of two sleepless days and John should have known better than to leave him to his own devices. There's a hand, his own, at the base of his nape and he scratches; the sensation is a while before making itself known because he's so tired as well. John finds himself breathing shallowly, eyes turned to the heavens until he glances down, back over at his flatmate, who's face is obscenely pale in the light. "Inside, please," John manages and slips back down the roof, the bottle tucked between his bicep and ribs. Sherlock waits a moment and follows him in.
John places the bottle on the bedside table and doesn't know what to say. There are things that threaten to bubble up within him, things that he's yet to really think on and so he doesn't yet wish to speak them. "How about this, how about we discuss this later, yeah? You need to sleep and I-"
"I hardly need to sleep," Sherlock bites and turns to face John.
The look on John's face promptly wipes the anger off of Sherlock's face. John shakes his head and moves back across the room, behind Sherlock, closes the window. "Sleep here, you sleep here and I'll-"
"There's no need for you to give me your bed we'll both sleep-"
"Out in the-"
"Here," Sherlock stutters just as John speaks the words "sitting room."
Sherlock's lip guppy a bit and he falls silent; John simply stops speaking and jerks back a bit. "Well, yes, I'll, well..."
John takes a breath and settles and decides, "Yes, alright, yes."
It's entirely too awkward. So many things about that particular moment progress without romance. John trips over his words in telling Sherlock to yes, please, sleep in his bed whilst explaining that he too will yes, be sleeping there; that no, they won't be discussing sex this evening and that yes, there's no harm in laying face to face, on top of the covers and falling to sleep that way.
The whole of it makes absolutely no sense and yet, is the most perfectly organic thing in the world.
"Stop leaving your wet towels on the floor," John comments one morning as he faces the mirror, giving himself a quick shave.
Sherlock meanders in looking for tweezers. "Fine," he says, uninterested.
"Fine?" John repeats.
All John manages to catch is Sherlock's hand waving dismissively as he disappears from the room. "Yes, fine, fine."
John comes first.
It's all a bit of a mess, really. Three weeks from their initial "sleepover," and after seven more "sleepovers," a bit of heavy petting, two instances of serious snogging. Their third bout of snogging - on the sofa during the evening news - turns into something else entirely.
"We never talked about this," Sherlock notes as he maneuvers his hand down John's trousers, wrapping around his cock.
John grunts, can't help but buck up into Sherlock's hand, "Nah, no, I tried, several times to - oh god! - talk about it and you-"
Sherlock's hand stops abruptly. "Should we? Must we talk about it before this happens?" He's entirely serious, doesn't know if he's overstepping some unseen line here, doing something improper. It appears as though Sherlock is very intent on going about this the right way.
John sighs, needs Sherlock to keep moving before he starts overthinking this and it all goes to hell. "Yes! I mean, no, no, not, now now, just Sherlock please-"
Sherlock's eye hood a bit and he leans in to bite at John's neck. "Please?"
"Fucking move Sherlock, I won't ask nicely again," John gasps and tucks his face into Sherlock's neck.
"Hmmm," the other man hums. "It's not above me to make you beg," he murmurs, turning to catch John's lips as he glances the pad of his thumb over the weeping tip. They kiss lazily for a few moments, Sherlock's hand managing to make progress in the tight confines of John's trousers.
John is a bit hot, sweat pricking at his brow and Sherlock is as well, torquing on the sofa so that he might properly give an added twist to his downstroke and just as he applies a bit more pressure, John stutters into Sherlock's mouth, gives a disconnected shout and stills. He peels one eye open and then the other and then they're staring at one another, mouths still mid-kiss.
Sherlock blinks, expression entirely unreadable, before he pulls slowly away, a self-satisfied grin spreading across his lips. "Oh..."
"Shut up," John croaks, nearly embarrassed and shifts himself so he can clean up a bit of the mess. "Just, not a word." Sherlock doesn't say anything, just bites his lip and watches as John fumbles with getting up from the sofa.
John comes first and Sherlock comes much, much later, very intensely, in John's bed. John pays him back for the begging comment.
Sherlock brings home milk.
"I love you," John sighs and stirs some into his tea.
"Sentiment," the taller man rolls his eyes and begins to text. "But I return it."