Sherlock's Tattoo Idea

Sherlock cleared his throat and John looked up to see his flatmate standing in front of his armchair. John raised an eyebrow. Sherlock shifted his weight as if he was nervous about something.

"I, er…John I have a suggestion or a…" he paused. Then he looked John in the eye and said in a low voice. "I wanted to put forth an idea for your next tattoo."

John stared at the other man for a few moments. The two of them had been together as a couple for about three months now. There wasn't much Sherlock didn't know about the tattoos. John had shared more about his tattoos with Sherlock than anyone else. Even so, there had always been an acknowledgement that they were John's art. John wasn't exactly upset, but he thought Sherlock understood the boundaries about the tattoos.

"Why?" John asked to stall. He knew this issue had the potential to break them apart and ruin their relationship that they were just starting. Sherlock could easily push too hard and make this into a problem for them especially since any pressure was too much for John. Others had tried to influence his designs and ink. They had usually been out of his life fairly quickly after they tried. He was tense now. John knew Sherlock was more important than anyone else in his life had been up to this point, but how would this play out?

"Because I have an idea, and I want to share it with you. You are under no obligation to choose this design. I just…it would mean a great deal to me if you would consider it." Sherlock's voice was gentle. Obviously he had observed John's tension. John felt himself relax a bit at Sherlock's words.

"What is it?" Sherlock handed over a sheet of paper that was folded in half. He silently left the room and after a few moments, John heard Sherlock's door close upstairs. John stared down at the sheet in his hands. He waited a few moments considering the possibilities before he opened the paper. He couldn't fathom what Sherlock would design for him to ink onto his body.

On the top of the page Sherlock had written a short note in his elegant script.

An idea for your left arm. Back to symbolism and birds. Falco columbarius and Luscinia megarhynchos

John let his eyes roam over the design. Two small birds were sketched on the rest of the page. The two birds sat with their foreheads touching and eyes closed. The smaller brown bird rested on a branch so it was at the same height as the larger one. The larger bird was obviously a raptor because it had talons and a sleek design to its body. John sat studying the designs for several minutes. He was almost embarrassed at his immediate apprehension to Sherlock's idea. The man had recognized the symbolism in all of his existing tattoos without being told. Why would he think Sherlock would do this without thinking? It was an obvious oversight on John's part because Sherlock didn't blink without thinking about it. John wondered what the symbolism behind these two birds were.

John pulled his laptop onto his lap from the floor and slowly typed the scientific names of the birds into the search engine. The larger raptor bird was a falcon, a merlin to be exact, and it was the symbol of guardianship as well as war and intelligence. The smaller brown bird was a Nightingale. This little bird symbolized love and it represented people who brought about transformations. As John read more, all the symbolism clicked into place in his mind.

The birds were him and Sherlock.

Sherlock was a larger, well tall, protective, intelligent man who walked the streets of London trying to win the war for those he cared about. John was the smaller of the two. He loved Sherlock and he had transformed him into the man he was today. The posture of the two birds was quite romantic as well. John smiled as he continued to read into the birds' symbolism.

After a few moments Sherlock came skipping down the steps. He didn't look directly at John as he spoke. John thought his body language indicated worry, but sometimes he acted like this when he was thinking as well.

"We have a case," he called over to John as he pulled on his coat. John heard Sherlock start down the stairs. Sherlock almost always ran out of the flat and only paused to let John catch up when he was waiting for a cab outside. This time though he poked his head back into the flat when John didn't answer or move to come along. His face was troubled. "Coming?"

"When did you come up with this?" John asked holding up the paper. Sherlock's face was obviously troubled when he looked at John.

"A few weeks ago. It was after the case you labeled The Best Dressed Dead I believe," Sherlock explained. He stepped back into the flat and walked slowly toward John. He hesitated "What do you think?"

"Are you sure you want it on my arm?" John asked. Sherlock's face lit up, his whole body relaxed, and he captured his lover in a quick kiss before he pulled back and rested his head against John's just like the design.

"So, you'll have it?" he asked quietly.

"Sherlock, I think you've outdone me with birds and symbolism, and this design… its… fantastic," John smiled. Sherlock headed toward the door. He flipped his coat up around his neck and turned back to John.

"The case?" he asked.

"Of course," John pulled on his own coat and the hit the streets of London to solve the latest mystery that Lestrade had called about.

A/N: Input is always appreciated. Thank you for all of the positive feedback and ideas for the future!