The wedding of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes took place on a temperate morning, at a vineyard one hundred kilometers north-west of London.
The weather was a perfect twenty-three degrees, with full sun, and a soft, easterly breeze. The sky was laced with clouds.
And a little over five hours before the wedding, John Watson woke alone.
The good doctor opened his eyes to dawn light. The first thing he did was feel his cock. It was soft.
The second thing he did was deduce that Sherlock was not in bed with him, or else his cock would probably have been in Sherlock.
The third thing John did was feel Sherlock's side of the bed.
The fourth and most vital thing John did was put his hand over his heart because it was suddenly fucking hammering. "It's all right," he said. "It's fine."
And yes, yep, sure thing, even though everything was absolutely a-okay, John still yanked the duvet aside, bounded from the bed, swore for after stubbing his toe on his own god damn ankle, and looked at the clock. Half six.
And even though everything was still fine, yes indeed, quite all right, you bet, John trip-stumbled into pajama bottoms, yanked on a t-shirt and looked around for the key to the cottage but he couldn't find the damn key to the cottage but that was fine, didn't matter, because the bed was fucking cold, all right? It was cold and it wasn't yet full light outside and John's been with Sherlock long enough to know, to know exactly why all of this is extra-special not all right, and not one bit of fine.
So John gave up on the key and shoes and a coat and he yanked open the cottage door so hard it flew from his hand and into the wall, startling a flock of doves in the front garden and two vintners on a nearby path.
And John had already scattered the birds and run past the people before he realised he had no idea where he was going and so he about-faced and ran to the wine makers. "Dark-haired bloke. Slim. Tall. Scared."
They pointed in the direction John'd already been going and so the good doctor set off again but it turned out he didn't have far to go because just ahead Sherlock sat cross-legged on a low rise, hair a bed-head riot, skin luminous in pale morning light, a beauty surrounded by beauty, because this winery? Like every one John's been to this one was faultless. There's something about a place given to the growing of grapes that brings out the picturesque in a hillside, the rustic in a building, the charm in everything.
"You little fucking fuck, you scared me half to death."
Sherlock turned. Sherlock looked. And then Sherlock did that thing he does, his gaze flick-flicked here there everywhere, it gathered data from the corner of a mouth, the twitch of an ear, a nostril flare, pinch of brow, and he collated, concluded…and reached up.
And that's when it happened.
John's last, very last lone brave strong sturdy amazing overwrought exhausted strung-tight trod-on nerve, the one he's been pampering and protecting for two so-long weeks, well that thing just finally went and god damn gave way. The good doctor crumpled to the ground, slumped against Sherlock, and said absolutely nothing.
For long, silent seconds all they did was need each other, and then they both breathed deep, but only Sherlock let his breathe out in words.
"You lost a million pounds worth of diamonds in the Thames last month," he began.
A flock of doves tiptoed around the grass in front of them.
"The month before that you ruined three experiments vital to clearing Constable Bamba's name."
The sun peaked over a nearby hillside.
"You run slower, think slower, and swear more quickly than me, and in general have a host of irrational and irritating behaviours that you'd do well to change."
A shaft of warm light nibbled up the hillside and John knew where this was going.
"But what if you never do John? What if you never change?"
Sherlock stroked the top of John's foot with the bottom of his own.
"Do you know what would happen then?"
John knew what would happen.
"I'd still love you with all my heart," Sherlock said, wriggling crazy prehensile toes between his fiancé's. "So why do I keep thinking you won't do the same for me?"
John watched Sherlock's restless toes do strange things to his toes.
"Because nothing heals all at once," said the good doctor. "Healing takes its own sweet time."
John slipped his hand beneath Sherlock's and said, "It's time."
The sun had at last fully risen over the nearby hill, committing whole-heartedly to blazing. Their little hillside was bright and glowing green.
"It happens right here," John said, patting the tiny rise on which they sat, a sweet little roll on a hill that itself was on another hill. "Just a half dozen feet there? That's where our guests will stand."
Sherlock put on his thinking face. Realised he'd forgotten many of the facts about their ceremony because he never knew them, having buggered and been buggered right on through their rehearsal dinner. "The guests stand?"
"They do. Remember what we talked about? An informal formality. So there won't be a procession, no children scattering flowers, just you and me and very near a dozen or so people who love us."
John pointed in the other direction, toward a tiny rise upon their rise. "And there is where the vicar stands."
Sherlock clenched his toes round John's. He knew where this was going.
John grinned. "And right here, on this spot that you must have picked by instinct or luck or deduction, this is where we go from, well, lovers to life-mates."
Sherlock's heart thrummed when John plucked his left hand from the grass, played with its delicate, strong fingers while saying softly, "Sherlock Holmes, will you marry me and love me and warn me before you put poison in the fridge?"
Sherlock took a deep breath and held it, as if waiting for his fingers to reply. In a way they did, taking John's hands and pressing them against the fast flutter in his chest. "Yes." he said, then asked those fine hands, "Will you please marry me John, please? Forever?"
It had been a long week. A long two years. A long lifetime searching for a place that was home. Both of these men are aware that always does not always last but that that doesn't matter. Now is what matters and every day can be lived like forever.
John turned his hands, so they were clasped tight in Sherlock's. "Yes, I will."
Sherlock started to cry.
A few minutes later he got confused about whose arm was whose and wiped his nose across John's wrist. John didn't complain.
A few minutes after that they lay down on the grass and one of them said to the other, "I think we're a little bit married now."
There was silence.
"But we're still going to do it in tuxedos and with cake?"
"Hell yes. I did not go through this last week only to get married in jim-jams."
There was sniffing.
"Blow. You have to blow."
There ensued some unsanitary things involving the grass. There was a complaint from one side, and then a defense regarding lack of tissues from the other. A small argument resolved itself once they scooted to the left, which was better anyway because that spot was sunnier.
There followed some quiet contemplation while pale English skin began gently burning. And then…
"Do you think the sex is going to be normal now?"
Contemplation. "Define normal."
More quiet contemplation. Then…
"I'm not going to get an erection because you accidentally got off by trying to get me off by fellating my toothbrush."
Both men lifted their heads, looked down their bodies to pajama bottoms untented.
"It seems so."
Quiet for awhile, then Sherlock released his fiancé's hand and spider-walked fingers up John's belly and then down John's—
"Not here. I'm not that much of an exhibitionist, you exhibitionist. Besides…"
John exhibited a certain amount of exhibitionistic patience while Sherlock slid his hand off John's cock by sliding all over it first.
"…uh, besides, I want to associate this spot with heartfelt tenderness, not with me blushing to my hairline because Mrs. Hudson comes along and sees my hard-on."
"Mrs. Hudson's already seen your—"
"Not the point I'm making."
Sherlock rolled on to his belly and got so close to John their noses touched. He closed his eyes and held his breath until he felt John breathe. And then he whispered "It's time."
They drew the soft, heavy curtains. They left off all the lights. They stripped and burrowed deep beneath a snowy duvet and in the warmth and the dark there they breathed.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of ways to be intimate, and through their long marriage John and Sherlock will try just about every one. Some will linger, some won't, all of them will bring them closer when closer they need to be.
"I need you."
Sherlock dragged out the words, huffed them, each a wash of hot breath that John took into his mouth, that he breathed in deep.
"I love you."
Again, said slow and gusty, a pant, a push of heat and moisture, nourishment into John's hungry mouth.
"I want you."
The words were delivered right into John by the press of Sherlock's lips and tongue, they were underscored by the tremors of his warm body, italicised by the erection against John's thighs.
John reached, took hold of Sherlock as Sherlock straddled him.
When he settled, elbows either side of John's head, bellies and chest close but not touching, John reached for his own erection, until one hand circled them both.
It's rare that one of them strokes both of them off. It's a pleasure perhaps sexier in contemplation than practice, but without words they agreed that this was what they wanted today, a very literal joining.
While John stroked Sherlock tucked his face against his sweetheart's neck and again he breathed words wet and hot against John's skin, a rambling array of everything he'd never known how to say just right and so did not say.
"Want…ever. Need…always. Run and sleep and hold and be held. Everything you need…mmmm…anything you need. I can. I will. I will, John. I'll always try, I'll…god…I'll try, please let me, p-please."
John pulled Sherlock close by the back of his neck, made them both go still.
The good doctor doesn't talk nearly as much as Sherlock, but he feels as much, wants and needs and hopes as much.
"I came back from the dead once…" John hummed, squirmed a little in his own hand. "…and more than once wondered why. And then there you were, beautiful and bright, and every day since then I know why. To want and need, to be wanted and needed. To try and fail, to laugh and love."
John began moving his hand again, firmer, faster, pressed the other to Sherlock's cheek until their mouths met in a kiss.
Their hair triggers were gone but the passion was not, so John stroked and they breathed, and there were more words and kisses, and eventually one of them came with a low groan, and then a minute later so did the other, and they quickly dissolved into giggles when belly met belly met slick wet warm combined come and what was usually cleaned off wasn't because, just because, but later, they'd do it then, when they…when they…when…
Mrs. Hudson found them an hour later, sound asleep, a bed-head riot of dark curls and a swipe of sandy blonde just peaking from beneath a snowy duvet.
Lizzie did not wake them. She hung up their beautiful grey tuxedoes, settled in the front garden on a pretty swinging settee, and there she leisurely thought about things she'd done and wished she'd done and things she's had and wished she had, and she knew that life's a funny old thing and sometimes things don't work out just right, but if you're lucky you get to see that thing work for someone else. And that's almost as good. In some ways it can be better.
"I love you," she said, toasting her boys with a fine glass of bubbly, and then my dear girl began humming.
I've already told you about John and Sherlock's wedding ceremony.
Told you about the vows and vomit, the realisations, the rings, the bees. I've told you all about this beginning, one of so many they'll have.
Of course you know of their very first beginning, everyone does. The meeting of doctor and detective in a hospital lab. The moment two thirty-something men first stood in the same room, looked one another in the eye, and thought, "Maybe it'll work. Can't hurt to try."
And that's the key isn't it? Trying. You can't stop trying because that's when the dying begins, John'll tell you that. He never did pick up his gun, not that way, but he looked at it more than once. Looked and imagined, imagined the aftermath, the absence of pain, the done, the over, the relief.
But John never did more than imagine, instead John kept trying.
For his part Sherlock's been trying since he first drew breath. Trying to prove himself, trying to pretend he wasn't trying to prove himself, trying to belong, to not care that he didn't, trying to focus that great brain, trying to do more, be more, see more, know, go, say, tell, want, need…
Stop, stop. Sorry. I'm going to stop there, with that.
And start again.
Because the ending of this was meant to be about beginnings, about their many beginnings, of which this wedding's only one.
The next one? The next big beginning for John and Sherlock? It came the day after these fine spring nuptials, when they boarded a plane to Australia to start a honeymoon that would itself have within it new beginnings.
The first one, the most important beginning there, was them falling in love again. Or still. Or more. I guess it's all in how you look at it. And it was them walking on fine Aussie sands, daring one another into the cold sea, it was laughing and fucking and learning yes indeed, they could love each other bigger, better, sloppier, sweeter, again and again.
The other thing that began during that honeymoon was the legend. Oh they'd long since become something a bit mythic in their home town, but it was the Aboriginal art case that took them from Canberra to Sydney to Shanghai—and the international press coverage that resulted—that eventually brought them to the attention of the wider world.
When they got back home there were more beginnings big and small.
Sherlock's blog began finally getting some traction—thanks to John at last figuring out how to link to it from his blog.
Sherlock began more regularly remembering that he and Mycroft were no longer arch-enemies, a fact he'd known for some time but one which became more important when Mycroft began dating a certain grey-haired friend.
John began a garden, then a cooking class, a woodworking class, a wine appreciation class. He quit them all, realising that being married didn't suddenly mean he was interested in any of these snug and domestic pursuits.
Sherlock began growing his own garden in John's abandoned plot, and he did rather well for awhile, until his husband put an end to that beginning when he learned the wee patch contained hemlock, monkshood, oleander, and a half a dozen other poisonous plants.
About six years after they married they began taking cases requiring more brain work, less leg work. The shift was slow and those closest to them attributed the change to what happened to them during the catacombs case, but no one ever asked and the boys never said.
Twelve years after they married John began turning his first book—The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes—into a screenplay, but the good doctor discovered he knew nothing about writing screenplays and cared even less.
Fifteen years after marrying they began vacationing in Sussex twice a year, after Sherlock became friends with a beekeeper in Brighton. They're still talking about buying her cottage after she retires, something she's beginning to threaten, again.
There will be many beginnings for my boys, so many I'll happily lose count. And, as with most of us, most of the things they begin will fade quietly away…and they'll begin something else. And then something else. And then another thing and another.
But there will be a constant, a never-changing certainty, and it began all those years ago: Where there is Sherlock there is John. Where there is John there is Sherlock.
World without end.