On Your Knees
John watched the scene as if it were happening to somebody else. There was a small box opened in his hands, a diamond ring resting inside. He was down on one knee, and above him Mary's eyes were filled with tears as she said yes, yes, yes, over and over again, and then she was pulling him up, and they were hugging and kissing and Mary looked so happy. John just felt detached, numb, lost. What was he doing there? Why had he just asked Mary to marry him?
After John was fired, things started quickly spinning out of control. Outwardly, everything seemed the same. John told nobody about being dismissed, going out every morning and coming back every evening, spending his days wandering through Hyde Park or sitting in cafes, wondering how life could be so utterly soulless. He watched as people went through their daily lives, ignorant of war, of battle, drifting down the river with numb compliance. Civilian life. People said he would get used to it, but what they didn't seem to realise was that he didn't want to. How could he make anybody understand that he couldn't stand the thought of knowing that there was a life out there for him, one that made him feel alive, made him who he was, and yet was stuck in the mud of an existence that made him desperate with loneliness, a gap widened between him and everybody else by all he had seen, all he had done. What he had found with Sherlock had been a remedy, a revelation, and now that Sherlock had selfishly taken it away John felt it was now impossible for him to fully heal with the knowledge that he could have more, but was denied it. The only solution he could find, a medicine that would alleviate the symptoms, but not cure the disease, was to put a mask firmly in place, to embrace this normal, dull life and fake who he was until he made it. Why couldn't he have a wife and 2.5 children and a normal job where he wouldn't be spanked over a desk when it pleased his boss? He could, would, push everything else down; there were millions of people living lives they didn't want. He would just add to the masses.
Mary's face was flushed with happiness as they pulled apart from the kiss. John stroked her cheek. She was beautiful, really. Kind. And she wanted John, or, at least, the only version of John she knew. But that would have to be enough.
Mary took his hand, and the wedding ring was cold and hard against John's skin.
There was a knock on his bedroom door, and John sat up on the bed, where he had been lying numbly, staring sightlessly at the ceiling.
"Yeah?" He called out, and the door open, Harriet's head peeking inside.
"Can I come in?" She asked. John smiled slightly, motioning for her to step inside. Truth be told, he was exhausted. It had been a week and a half since he had proposed to Mary, and he had spent the day with her parents, discussing the future. The whole event had been claustrophobic, and John had excused himself from going back to hers claiming headache and the deception of work the next day. They had decided on a long engagement, at least enough to find a flat together and attempt cohabitation before getting married. John had agreed numbly. One way or another it didn't really matter, the cage would be the same size in the end. He had gone back home and straight to his room, not feeling capable of any other action. The loneliness he felt, the sheer anxious sickness of knowing that this was it, that he would be trapped being this man for the rest of his life, had debilitated all other thought or emotion. He knew that eventually he would have to tell someone that he had lost his job and find a new one, and eventually he would have to let Mary get a good look at the scars on his thighs and explain the whole sordid story of his past, excluding, of course, Sherlock, and the scope of his web of lies was nauseating. Now, he could only hope that whatever Harriet had to say wouldn't drag him further down into the oceanic swell of bitter tasting despair.
"You don't look so good," Harriet said, rolling his desk chair and sitting down facing John, who shrugged noncommittally.
"I'm fine, just tried," he said emotionlessly. Harriet sighed, running her hand through her dirty blond hair.
"I wish you would talk to me, Johnny. But I guess it's a little late to play big sister, huh?" She said with an ironic smile. John returned it, feeling a clench of nostalgia at her use of his nickname. It had been many years since he had been called that.
"A bit, yeah," he said without malice. "And anyway, there isn't much to talk about. I'm getting married, I thought you'd be happy for me."
"I am happy for you. Or, at least, I would be, if you were happy," she said, looking at him. John sat up straighter, tensing.
"I'm happy. I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. Why wouldn't I be happy?"
"I don't know, Johnny, I don't know you. I don't know what makes you happy, but I can tell when you are, and when you aren't. A month and a half ago you were happy. Now, you aren't," she said, and John stared at her. Of all the people to notice his pretence, he wouldn't have guessed his sister to be the one.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm perfectly fine," John said tersely. Harriet simply looked at him for a few moments, and her sharp hazel eyes were disconcerting. That look, it reminded him of bluer tones.
"We're quite the pair, you and I," she said quietly. "I know that the last person you probably want to take life advice from is me, but all I can say is that, whatever made you happy, don't let go of it. It's not worth it."
"Easier said than done," John said before he could think about it, and winced slightly at Harriet's smile, knowing he had showed his hand.
"I know," she said simply. "You can relax, I'm not going to ask. Just...well, if you want to talk, I'll try not being a complete cunt about it," she said, and John laughed slightly.
"Thanks, big sis," John said half-sarcastically, and Harriet smiled back at him.
"Ok, I'll leave you to your moping- oh, sorry, to your being fine. I've got an AA meeting, so..."
"Yeah, good luck with that. I'm...really proud of you, you know," John said softly.
"Yeah, yeah. Thanks," Harriet said, and mock-saluted him before closing the bedroom door behind her on her way out. John huffed a laugh and smiled for a moment before reality crept back in. He lay back down and put an arm over his forehead, closing his eyes.
He felt...sadness. A simple, blue feeling, round and whole and heavy. He was lost, he knew. Despite Harriet's advice, John knew that the possibility of going back to Sherlock was the same as returning to Afghanistan. All he could do was bite the bullet and go on with the papier-mâché life he had flimsily constructed in hope that it didn't crumble around him.
He hadn't been able to help himself. The pull was like an inescapable tide, and John risked drowning if he didn't follow the flow. The sound of the rain as it hit his umbrella submurged his thoughts, but was unable to wash away the frozen ground of his anxiety. He stood outside Sherlock's office building until he saw her come out, her form swallowed by a hooded trench coat. The new assistant was petit and pretty and she blushed and stuttered an apology as a man bumped into her carelessly. Submissive, said Irene Adler's voice in his head. She had been right about some things, and wrong about others; in the end, John hadn't lasted very long at all. He tried not to imagine what the girl's chores would be, exactly. Would her heart beat faster when Sherlock loomed over her with an order, his voice, his eyes, dark and piercing? Would Sherlock have her put her hands flat on the table as she read the manual, with his hand coming down on clothed flesh, her gasps breaking her voice in pieces? Would she like it? Would she, as John had, want more? Would her knees ache to hit ground, her tongue to taste salty flesh, would she take it, would Sherlock give it to her, give her what was rightfully John's? The questions were unbearable. That girl, she wouldn't understand, she wouldn't need, not like John did.
John had tried desperately to move on. In times of desperation, he had tried hitting himself on the backside with a book, Sherlock's gasped name etched on his teeth, but it hadn't been the same, hadn't been nearly enough. Panic often clawed at him at the most innocuous of moments; as he sat in the living room, watching Come Dine With Me with his sister and Clara; as he took a walk with Mary around the park; as he brushed his teeth in the morning, his brain still foggy will sleep and nightmares. Suddenly it would come in a rush; this was it. This was all he had now. He could feel the ache of that knowledge in all his joints, deep within the bone. He had started looking for new jobs, but nothing could compare, nothing would fulfil, replace what had been lost. Just one more miracle, Sherlock, for me, he would dream in the depths of his sleep, but when he woke it was to the same monochrome life. And yet he was still unable to turn to his old, familiar habit, as if Sherlock's order continued to still the blade, as if Sherlock still had the right to any control at all. But part of John clung to the fact that once he harmed himself, it really would be over; the pain would wash everything away, even Sherlock.
When he left, it had stopped raining. Everything was left damp and cold.
The flat was nice. It was nice like Mary was nice; unobtrusive and bloodless and sweet. It seemed hollow and empty without furniture, but Mary's hand gestures described the possibilities of all it could hold. She had an old armchair that her mother had given her, it would go perfectly beside the fireplace. They could buy a new bed for the main bedroom, choose the perfect mattress together, they would sleep curled around each other every night, a place to contain their warmth and affection. There were two extra bedrooms, you know, just in case, though one could be turned into an office (for now).
Wasn't it perfect?
John felt a sort of terror at the prospect. This wasn't the delicious thrill of fear before jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, this was an immobilising dread, and suddenly John could see all of it, spanning before him in a flat and dead horizon. He would go to work 5 days a week to a monotonous and unchallenging job. He would come back home to Mary, to their set routine; some days they would laugh, others they would bicker and fight, but there would be a stability and security threaded through everything. They would have children and they would change life forever, make it richer, more complex, but it would become routine; John's self concept would change to add "father", and he would adapt. Maybe the monotony would be broken up by a bi- or annual holiday; they would go to Greece, or Spain, or, if they were feeling particularly spoilt, they would venture to the United States, but everything would be planned and safe, characterised by tourist attractions and squabbles in the car. John would grow old, and nothing especially outstanding would happen. There would be no real pain, no struggle for survival, there would be no days when he wondered if he would live to see dawn, no moments which flared alive with the focusing power of fear and battle, there would be no terrible enemies, no chasing the bad guys, no shooting the gun, there would be no crops or sharp teeth, no dark voices ordering him down to his knees. There would be no respite, and there would be no escape. He would sink into his life with Mary and stay static in its grasp. Maybe they would get a dog, call him Lucky, and John would deny himself, hide himself, would pretend, and eventually, sickeningly, maybe he would be OK with it, would become a civilian, the soldier in his soul rusted away through disuse and negligence. And then John would die, he would die an old and fake man, with an old and fake life behind him, and nothing at all would really matter. All he would have would be regret, the regret that comes to those who have lived a life that they knew was not for them, when they know that it was through cowardice, and nothing else, that they came to that point in space and time.
"I- can you give us a moment? I, I need to sit down," he said, cutting the realtor short. The woman who had been showing them around looked at him in surprise, taking in his pale face, the hand clutching his cane like a life line, and backed away unsurely.
"John? My God, you look terrible, are you ok?" Mary said, holding his elbow with concern. John shook his head.
"Yes, yes, I just need a moment," he said unsteadily. Everything was too much. His ribs felt like a cage, keeping his breath hostage from his mouth.
"Uh, yes, of course. I'll be downstairs in the foyer, just call me when you need me," the realtor said hesitantly, and left, her heels clicking on the bare floors. John held on until he heard the front door closing before leaning against a wall and sliding down to sit with raised knees on the floor.
"John!" Mary exclaimed, kneeling beside him. John shook his head, trying to appease her, but there wasn't enough oxygen available to talk, to even form thoughts through the raw-wired panic. "John, what's going on? What is it? You're scaring me," Mary was saying, but her voice sounded far away, on the other side of the storm.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," John chanted. God, he was so sorry, he was, but... "I can't do this. God, I, I though, I really, I'm so sorry Mary I'm sorry, but I can't, I just can't," John rambled incoherently.
"You...is this about the flat? John, I never meant to pressure you into anything. I thought you wanted this, we can wait until..." But John was shaking his head. He pressed his hands against his face for a moment, trying to collect the pieces of himself which were trembling loose.
"Mary, I'm so sorry. I...I can't do this. Any of this. I..." He lowered his hands and looked up at Mary's face, saw the sinking realization as worry transformed into numb shock, and the hand that she had wrapped around his arm was yanked away and cradled against her chest, as if John had suddenly turned acidic to the touch.
"You...you're calling off the wedding," she said hollowly, and John had to look away, the guilt awful and bitter tasting. "Why? John, why did you ask me to marry you if you 'can't'?" She asked, her voice gaining some force.
"Because I thought that I could change. I thought I could...but I can't. I can't change, I'll never change. I'm no good for you, I'm no good for this. You would end up hating me. I would end up hating myself," John said, and then laughed humourlessly. "Well, more than I already do," he finished bitterly.
"What are you talking about? Change? Change from what? John, I love you, why would you have to change?" Mary asked, once again taking his hand, as if she could make herself understand through that simple contact. But nothing was that simple.
"Mary, I...I'm not the person you think I am. I...I cheated on you," he said, his voice dropping to an ashamed whisper. Even now he was unable to admit everything that had gone on between him and Sherlock, the true nature of their relationship, but the bare bones of it was that John had been unfaithful, and that was something that Mary would be able to understand.
Mary dropped his hand at once, gasping.
"What?" She said, standing up and taking a step away from him. John looked up at her, defenceless. "When? With who? Oh. Oh God. It's Sherlock, isn't it?" She said lowly, her eyes unfocusing as if recalling the clues that had been left to reach that conclusion. John flinched, gaping at her in utter shock.
"What...how did you know?" He blurted, and her eyes focused suddenly, her face tense with desperate anger.
"Oh, please!" She laughed bitterly, "John, the way you talk about him, you have no idea. I though...well, you looked so sad sometimes, and he seemed to put you in such a good mood...Oh God. All this time...why? Just...why would you string me along like this? Why the hell did you ask me to marry you? To make a fool out of me? Why?" She demanded, towering over him, her eyes bright with tears, with humiliation and betrayal and pure fury.
"No! No, Marry, you have to understand, I never meant to hurt you. Please, God, I'm sorry, I am, I just...I just, I was ashamed, I guess, I...being with him, it was like being in another world. When I left it was as if it hadn't really happened, it seemed too good to..." He trailed off guiltily, looking up at Mary. What could he really say that would excuse him? His words were all just empty air compared to his actions. Nothing he could say would make up for the damage caused. Mary just stared at him for long, stripped seconds, until she moved slowly to take the wedding ring off her finger, letting it fall by John's feet. It clattered against the wooden floor, explosively loud in the deadness between them.
"Don't. I don't want to see you ever again. You..." But whatever term she could have come up for him was lost as she bit her lip, looking at him for a second longer before fleeing the crime scene. The door was slammed with such force it seemed to ripple the air inside the flat.
For minutes, John just sat there, unable to cry, or move, or think. The weight of what he had done lay over him, a poisonous immobiliser.
But, buried deep beneath the dirt of his guilt, was a crystallized shard of relief.
His lungs were aching from the run. His cane had been lost somewhere in the madness that had overtaken him, but it didn't matter; his leg was silent and mobilized by his iron intention. He would not tolerate having this regret hang over him for the rest of his life. Maybe it was bravery, or most likely foolishness, but he had to confront Sherlock one last time. He had worked for, with, the man for months; John knew him. Knew his expressions, his habits, his desires and character, knew that in the place Sherlock liked to pretend was hollow beat a heart that needed and bled just as John's did. He would not let Sherlock go so easily. John was a man who fought for what he wanted, battled until he couldn't anymore.
"H-hey, excuse me!" The new assistant said as John strode into the reception room. He was sweating and panting and probably looked a complete, devastated mess, but he didn't care. He ignored the small woman and went into the hallway, following the familiar sounds of the violin. He threw the office door open and it banged against the wall, making jump Sherlock from his pose in front of the window. He turned to look at John, his expression surprised.
"John! What are you-"
"I love you." The words were simple and monosyllabic, overused and degraded by literature and the media, but there was a stark truth in them that John needed now. The release of them had a cathartic, calming effect on John. He didn't want moonlight and long walks on the beach, he didn't want a wife and home cooked meals and a stable life and a silent death. What he wanted, what he needed, was Sherlock; the battleground, the chases, the blood, the adrenaline, the pain, the days of case solving and frustrated silences and fights and the surprised affection when John complimented Sherlock, the feel of his pale skin, the smiles when John impressed him, when John got close and wouldn't move away, when John understood, and accepted. He needed Sherlock in his life because nobody else made him feel like he fit in his own skin, because nobody else made him feel like he wasn't alone and damned, because Sherlock made him feel alive and unbroken. It wasn't perfect, but John had never wanted that; he wanted something worth fighting for. Needed the violence of the storm between the bouts of misleading calm. Nothing else would do.
There was a gasp from behind John and he turned to see the new assistant with a startled hand over her mouth. John glared at her until she scuttled back to the reception room, and he closed the door before turning back to Sherlock, who was simply standing there, his shocked face now controlled into a guarded expression. But John wouldn't be fooled.
"You don't love me, John. Pain, especially when combined with pleasure, creates a biochemical reaction in the brain which-"
"My God, would you listen to yourself! Don't you dare tell me what I do and do not feel. This isn't about science or logic or any of your bullshit. You haven't touched me in more than a month, so my brain is unclouded from all your little biochemical reactions. This isn't just about the pain! Or the pleasure, for that matter. For God's sake, you think you're so smart, but you refuse to see what right in front of you! Sherlock, I love you because you make me feel...like I can be myself. And I don't care how that fucking sounds, it's the truth. I'm sick of pretending to be something I'm not, of trying to keep control over things that are uncontrollable. I want you. I need you. Not just to fuck you, or be fucked by you, I want to be with you. I want to go on cases, I want to be shot at with your dumb ass by my side, I want to go back home and have you be there so that I'm not so fucking lonely all the time. You can make up your own excuses for not being with me, but don't you bloody tell me that I don't love you, Sherlock. There is nothing that your stupid, brilliant mind can think up to change that fact," John ranted, his voice harsh and raw, getting closer and closer to Sherlock as he spoke until he was standing right in front of him. Sherlock seemed completely immobilised by John's tirade, and as it ended, he stood there, staring, uncomprehending, at John.
"John..." He sighed, and John's throat clenched at the sound, but Sherlock was shaking his head, taking a step back to put some distance between them. "You may think you love me, but...this...we can't just do this every day," he said, his voice devoid of all fight. But John had enough for the both of them.
"Why not? What, now you're all for normality? I don't get it, you pave your own way with everything else, take everything you want, but, what, this is too weird? Too, too, too what? Why can't we do this everyday?" John demanded.
"Because, John, can't you see that if you give yourself up to me I'll take all of you? Can't you see that? I won't stop. I don't work right, everybody else can see that! Why can't you!" Sherlock said, raising his voice, getting more and more agitated. John felt a deep sadness at his words. For how long had Sherlock been shunned for who he was? For his intelligence, his cutting looks, his abrasive nature, his penchance for control and pain? He could be arrogant and demanding, but in truth Sherlock always expected the worst of people; for them to reply with a "piss off" in the face of his deductions, with a "freak" to the revelation of his interest in the morbid, with cruelty as he showed his brilliance. And now John was here, saying it was fine, that it was all fine, and how was Sherlock really supposed to trust that, in the face of a lifetime of rejection, of pitchforks and torches, how was the Frankenstenian monster to trust humanity again?
Silently, John fell to his knees before Sherlock. It was not a position of begging, or of prayer. It was a sign of complete trust, a relinquishing of control. I believe in Sherlock Holmes, those bent knees said. I trust that in your hands, I will bleed, but I will never break.
John looked up at Sherlock, expression open and unending, and Sherlock's face seemed to tense in disbelief. For a minute they were frozen in place, eyes never leaving each other, until Sherlock seemed to collect himself, his shoulders straightening. He placed down the violin that had been hanging limply in his hands carefully, and walked to stand right in front of John.
"Do not move from this position. Don't let your knees leave the floor. Not for anything," he said softly. John just looked at him, until Sherlock stepped away suddenly and disappeared behind John, who didn't turn around to look. Sherlock's footsteps retreated and then his voice sounded from the reception room. There were a few moments of silence and then the front door opening and closing. Then, there was silence. John was alone. He closed his eyes and put his hands flat on his thighs.
This battle would not be lost.
Hours passed by numbly. John thought about his father, and the days of his childhood. He thought about his few months in university, about how oppressive everything had felt. He thought about the war, about the yellow sand, about the heavy, hot feel of his uniform, the long patrols around the wrecked and divided towns, about the blood, the metal of bullets, about his comrades and his days at the barracks. He thought about his sister, her mercurial life, her spiralling habits, his inescapable love for her. Thought about Clara, her soft voice and soft hands, her strength beneath those bird bones. About Mary, about his guilt and her devastation, about how, in the long run, she would be better off without him.
And he thought about Sherlock. He tried to think about Sherlock as a younger man, but the thought was sad and lonely and painful. Instead, John thought about the future. About Sherlock in ten, twenty, thirty years. About how it would be like to be beside him, even then.
At some point, Clara and Harriet showed up. It was early in the morning, and they appeared out of his exhaustion like a dream. Clara was worried and frantic and asked him what he was doing, what he was thinking, tried to pull him up, but he yanked himself away, keeping his knees solidly on the ground. In the end, and who would have guessed it, it was Harriet who calmed Clara down. She knelt in front of her brother and asked him very simply, Is this what makes you happy? The answer had been just as simple.
She didn't pretend to understand what was going on, understand John or his needs, but in a unique act of mercy, she accepted it. She had not asked questions, had simply kissed John on his cheek before pulling Clara's confused form away. The silence seemed thicken and richer when they left.
John fought fatigue and hunger and thirst. Eventually he had to soil himself, but he was beyond caring at that point, keeping himself awake by sheer force of will. A whole day passed. Time became distorted as John would doze and then jerk awake. Phantoms came to visit him; his mother, as she was before the sickness had taken hold of her. His father, in the depth of his despair. His training officer when he first joined the military. His closest friend in the war. The man he had let die in his arms. They were all ghosts, memories, they smelt like freshly peeled oranges, from a trip to the south of Europe he had made as a child. The scent was tangy and bittersweet and reminded him of sunshine and dirt.
Another half day passed. He had barely slept or eaten for a week, and not at all since more than two days ago, the lack of rest or substance or liquid had transported John to a senseless and far away land. Dawn was beginning to dust the air, puddling on the floor, warming the round edges of his bent knees. Everything seemed ethereal and otherworldly. Finally, from that light came another phantom, but this one was solid and familiar, and it propped John up on strong, thin arms. John leaned against a body, and it smelt perfectly familiar, so warm it made him ache.
"Sherlock," John said quietly, but a voice shushed him, and he was spirited away; the leather interior of a black car, the cold air of London, and then Sherlock's cluttered flat. John remembered that table, though he was too tired to think of much else. The next thing he knew, his skin was completely bare, and John was being submerged to his neck in warm water. He sighed in relief. All his bones creaked in approval, the tension leaving their joints. He opened his eyes and blearily watched Sherlock as the man made him drink some kind of sweet, thick substance, and then, with slow and soft movements, washed John. His hands were so delicate, when they wanted to be. There was no pain here. There was no anxiety, and no loneliness. There was tepid water, and soap, and Sherlock. Sherlock.
When he next came to, he was naked and dry beneath blankets and sheets, and Sherlock was beside him, a finger drawing equations on his skin.
"Do you believe me now?" John asked. The fog descended, but within it he and Sherlock stood, and his voice was clear and strong.
"Yes, John. I believe you."
When John woke, it was dark. He blinked, disoriented, wondering where he was. The first thing he noticed was that he was completely naked. The second was that Sherlock was beside him.
"Seventeen hours," a low voice said, and John turned his head to look at Sherlock's shadowed form, his eyes getting accustomed to the dark so that he could make out the angles of the other man.
"What?" John asked blearily.
"Seventeen hours. That's how long you've been asleep," Sherlock replied in that same quiet, night time voice.
"Oh. Right," John said. "What time is it?"
"Two in the morning." Everything was still and calm. A car rumbled past outside and disappeared, leaving them in a more obvious silence. John stretched his limbs slightly under the covers, feeling warm and rested. The shadows around him moved, and he felt a finger trace one of his cheekbones. He closed his eyes.
"This is real, right?" John asked, his voice as soft as the sheets, as the skin that whispered over his cheek. He was not asking if this was a dream, a phantom of his imagination. He was asking if Sherlock had stopped running, if the moment was not just a temporary illusion that would hold no tangibility in their lives. If John was here to stay, or just transport.
Sherlock pressed against John's side, the smooth material of his pyjamas caressing bare skin, and a mouth descended over John's, just a simple press of lips, of reality, of admission. John sighed and parted his lips, and two tongues came to touch slightly, before Sherlock pulled away.
"Good," John whispered. Under the blankets, a pale hand moved to brush over John's skin; over a jutting hip bone, the soft flesh of a stomach, the round form of a nipple. John closed his eyes again, letting himself feel. There was a warmth inside him that had little to do with the covers that enveloped them.
"You have to know that I'm terrible at this, John. People...relationships. They are not my area of expertise. If only you were an equation..." Sherlock's voice faded away. John smiled a little ruefully.
"Sherlock, no relationship is easy. They all demand hard work. All of them. And I don't even want something perfect, something simple. Don't think I don't know how you're like. I know to expect body parts in the fridge, and for you never to cook or do the shopping, for you to become a recluse when a case is on, and to be a nutter when you've spent too long without one. But I also know that you will protect that which is yours with your life. I know that you try, and I know that you care. I know that you will stand by me, that you will make me feel like a better man, like a more complete one. I know that you will give me what I need. And I know that you'll make me happy. That's the simple truth. You make me happy. I don't want anything else," John said into the night. There was a long pause, but Sherlock's hand kept tracing patterns into John's skin.
"I think you're a fool," Sherlock said softly, his lips a hot presence at John's neck, and John smiled, turning towards Sherlock, pressing closer.
"If that's the case, then so are you," John said into Sherlock's lips, and for the first time initiated a kiss. Sherlock opened his mouth for him, and John slipped a tongue inside, feeling a deep and almost frightening thrill.
He had made it.
Sherlock reached over behind him and turned on a lamp. The light spilled, transforming Sherlock into a silhouette before John's eyes became accustomed to the change and he could see the glowing skin, dusted gold over Sherlock's shoulder, the back of his neck, the sparse hairs over his arm that were standing on end despite the warmth. Sherlock pulled down the covers slightly, and John let himself be bared, vulnerable to attack or protection. A trembled breath left John as Sherlock begun to examine every inch of John's skin with his fingertips. First, the bullet wound scar at his shoulder, and Sherlock's low voice, the only sound in the bell jar they found themselves in, described proximity, trajectory, number and nature of operations, calibre of bullet. The pads of his fingers felt the soft hair at John's chest, the pebbled nipples, the skin over carotid, over pulse, the chapped shapes of lips, the fragile skin of eyelids. He let his hands explore all of John's scars, guessing their age, the choice of instrument used, and John would correct him or expand in a quiet voice; a scalpel, when his mother had died, five criss-crossed lines; a burn from when he had a panic attack when he was fifteen; the dig of a razor from his university days. All the cicatrized skin was named and catalogued for Sherlock, mapped between oceans of skin and islands of nail and teeth. Then, Sherlock moved to the topography of John's endogenous zones with his mouth. A tongue exploring John's sighing mouth. The fluttering skin over a hummingbird pulse, teeth dragging over the wingbeats, now. The round, puckered shape of nipples, nipped and licked, drawing the hard peak between Sherlock's lips. A blowing of breath over John's sensitized wrist, tracing the suggestion of a nail across the veins. The underside of thighs, that vulnerable underbelly, a press of palms, a squeeze of fingers, the biting nails, and then the hot mouth, and by the point John was squirming, the sheet tangling around his feet. Sherlock let himself caress John's ankles, the back of his knees, as his mouth explored those old scars, and then his nose pressed higher up, smelling the heady musk, all John, Sherlock's nails dragging across John's backside, the flat of his tongue tracing half the circumference of a testicle, and John tried not to arch his back, to keep still, but he couldn't help a slight whine escaping from behind clenched teeth as his cock leaked slightly on his stomach. Sherlock braced his hands under John's knees and pushed them up again his chest, now between them, and ran his mouth lower. He bit at the tensed skin on one side before his tongue pressed forward and into John's entrance. John pulled at the sheet under him, moaning as Sherlock begun to thrust in and out, John arched his neck, his eyes wide and unseeing, Sherlock hummed against him and John's hot breath panted out of his dry mouth.
"Sherlock," he moaned, and Sherlock pulled away, leaving John empty and wanting, ducking under John's leg to pull a bedside table drawer open and take out a tube of lube and a condom. John watched him with wide pupils as Sherlock coated his fingers in the lube, before returning between John's legs, John shifting to accommodate him. Sherlock grabbed at a pillow and pushed it under the small of John's back, who arched and settled.
"John," Sherlock said quietly as he inserted a long finger, and John closed his eyes at the stretch. Behind closed eyelids, the letters of Sherlock's name fluttered and glowed, before breaking apart. A second finger was added, and John felt the rings of muscle give way, tilting slightly to better the access, and Sherlock set a slow, torturous rhythm that had John sweating and groaning until a third finger was pressed in. The burn heightened, but still it wasn't enough. Finally, the fingers were removed, and John focused his eyes to watch Sherlock as the man removed his pyjama trousers and pants, memorizing his expression; those flushed cheeks, that parted, wet mouth, those dark eyelashes. Sherlock rolled the condom on and settled over him, his head hanging over John's. He stilled for a moment, and John lifted his hand to trace Sherlock's cheek, burying his fingers in Sherlock's hair. Sherlock closed his eyes in an almost desperate frown, and then pushed in, a slow but steady thrust. John gasped, clutching at Sherlock's curls, pulling him down to taste the groaned breath on his lips. Sherlock bit as John's mouth, a tongue pushing harshly against John's, and then he started moving, a concave dip to his back, his shoulder blades jutting out like wings behind him, before pushing back in again, and again, and again. The air was all breath between them, and John moved his feet so that they were pressing against the back of Sherlock's thighs as they moved in a relentless rhythm. The moon was high up in the sky, and the tide around them rose, washing their wounds in salt.
This did not promise to be an easy ride, but John and Sherlock, they came as a pair. Holmes and Watson, it was as if history had meant for this storm to occur, and as it rained upon them, breaking them apart, remoulding them with pieces of each other, John knew this was not just about pain, or release, but a self-made fate, a raw completion. He could not be the man he was with anybody else.
Sherlock opened his eyes as he came, looking deep into John. He, too, was changed by this, his years of solitude robbed of their sharp edges to become something that could live tranquilly within him.
The next day, Lestrade would barge in with a case; a pink coated suicide, and John would leave his cane behind with a God, yes as he exits the flat with Sherlock. But, for now, there was sweat, and strangled names, and pain, and pleasure.
Outside it began to rain, but inside Sherlock's room the press of skin and bite of nail was a barricade against the cold of water and smog.
That's it guys, thanks for staying with me and I hope you enjoyed!