No One Knows You Better
A piece of plywood to the side of the head, just far enough away that Sherlock could only watch John crumple, unmoving, to the concrete floor. The assailant had been running, John had been chasing, Sherlock had been sneaking, trying to catch him off guard, but he'd picked up the weapon without being seen, had struck before Sherlock could get there, before John could even aim his gun. Sherlock disarmed him easily enough, but John still wasn't moving. Breathing, yes, but moving, no. So Sherlock called Lestrade, usually preferred to text, but this was important, this demanded attention now, John demanded attention now, and his hands were shaking. So many possible injuries, so many possible repercussions, so many possible outcomes to this that Sherlock found himself unable to not think about, even as the paramedics took them both to the hospital and wheeled John inside and left Sherlock waiting and waiting and waiting and thinking, Caring is a disadvantage, over and over again until they didn't sound like words anymore.
They finally came to get Sherlock an hour later, the longest hour of his life, and before the staff could comment on it, Sherlock was inside John's room and next to John's bed and holding John in his arms because John was alive and only slight bandaging around the forehead, bruising around the left eye and alive and dazed, confused, focus not quite restored and alive. So Sherlock kissed him, didn't realize he was doing it until it was almost over, but he couldn't have helped himself even if he'd wanted to. Which he really, truly, surprisingly didn't.
When he pulled away, the look on John's face was stunned. Stunned and flushed and not quite right. No, not right at all. Something was very wrong, very off, something about John's face, John's eyes which suddenly didn't know where to look, John's lips still wet with Sherlock's saliva and twitching with something more than uncertainty. So much more.
"So, um," John cleared his throat, finally forcing himself to keep eye contact. "I'm so sorry, but are you my… boyfriend, then? Or… Or husband or something?"
Sherlock was at the foot of John's bed in an instant, picking up John's chart and flipping through page after page until he found the words: retrograde amnesia. He almost dropped the clipboard.
"I'm sorry, I just," John stuttered, voice both himself and not himself, tinged with an unfamiliar nervousness, an uncharacteristic lack of confidence. "I can't seem to make sense of anything."
When Sherlock looked up again, John looked apologetic. And possibly a bit frightened. It was so very, very wrong. But Sherlock could make it better. He'd be a fool not to try.
"Yes, John," Sherlock whispered, sitting at the edge of the bed and grabbing hold of one of John's hands. "Boyfriends, yes. I'm here, love. You're alright now."
"I don't remember your name," John looked away again, embarrassed and vulnerable and piece by piece, everything fell into place. Sherlock had been given an opportunity in this, a chance to make John see himself the way Sherlock saw him, to make him better for himself. And for Sherlock. He'd been given a gift and he would not waste it, not for a second.
"I'm Sherlock," he smiled, placing a hand against John's cheek like they shared touches this intimate every day. Because now they did. "Let's get you home."
He was allowed to check John out of the hospital a few hours later, the warnings listened to but ignored. Only Sherlock knew what John needed now. He needed 221B, he needed a cup of tea, and possibly some welcome home fellatio. He'd never attempted the ritual before, but this seemed like something they would share in together, so he intended to provide. John's new life, or rather, the life he'd simply forgotten, would lack nothing.
"They said I was attacked," John said eventually, looking out of the cab window and trying to process what he was seeing, trying desperately to remember something if the wrinkle between his brow was anything to go by. Sherlock could make that go away too.
As tenderly as possible, Sherlock reached across the seat and gently grabbed John's chin, pulling his attention back to where it was meant to be. "We have a dangerous job, you and I. I solve crimes and you protect me."
"You're like a detective?" John asked, and Sherlock nodded.
"Consulting Detective. The only one in the world. I invented the job."
Sherlock's heart leapt at the look of amazement in his eyes, John's old, untarnished amazement, the same one from all those years ago, on that first day. An amazement that was fresh and new and pointed back at Sherlock like he'd never witnessed his brilliance before. Which, Sherlock supposed, he hadn't. Yet.
"Then I'm… Like your bodyguard?"
"And more, John," Sherlock indulged himself, looping a hand around to the back of John's neck and luring him in, capturing John's mouth the way he'd always wanted to, the way he'd never allowed himself to want to. He broke away and John looked dazed, hot, melting beneath Sherlock's touch. "So much more."
John walked up the stairs to 221B without being told, not the best of signs, but something Sherlock was willing to put down to muscle memory, not cognitive recognition. Especially when John stopped halfway up as though realizing he didn't know where to go. Sherlock wrapped an arm around his waist and led him the rest of the way, forcing down the excitement that bubbled when John leaned into him willingly, almost eagerly.
"Welcome home, John," Sherlock whispered into John's ear, lowering his voice to an almost seductive purr. "Go ahead and sit down. I'll get you a cup of tea."
"You solve crimes by day and make me cups of tea by night," John chuckled, still uneasy, but learning, willing his battered mind to accept the facts that Sherlock was presenting. "How did I get so lucky?"
Sherlock opted out of telling John that it was usually the other way around on the tea-he supposed he could be the provider of that little domesticity for now, if need be-and put the kettle to boil, pulling John's favorite mug from the cupboard before answering. "I'm the lucky one, you know that. Well, knew that, I suppose. You'll remember eventually."
"And if I don't?" Sherlock heard John whisper, the words meant for himself, then, not for listening ears. But Sherlock knew the answer nonetheless. If John never remembered, mind truly damaged beyond self-repair, then these new memories, the ones Sherlock provided for him, would be the only ones to define him. Sherlock had to be sure they were perfect in every way. Just in case.
Once the tea was ready, Sherlock joined John on the couch, lowering the mug carefully into his hands before placing his lips against John's neck, a single kiss against the pulse point. John shuddered, already trembling under Sherlock's touch. It was intoxicating. Sherlock had been aware of John's attraction to him for some time, but his blatant attempt at heterosexuality had deluded even himself, so Sherlock had let it be. This new John wouldn't hold himself back, he'd be allowed the things he'd always wanted, the things that Sherlock could see when he was too blind or foolish or distracted. Sherlock had the chance to give him that now. A gift, like he'd been given in the quiet, vulnerable mold of clay that was the man holding at his side.
"I'm sorry I'm not more… talkative," John mumbled, staring into his mug as if it could give him the answers. If only John knew; he merely needed to look to the left.
"It's alright, John," Sherlock wrapped an arm around John's shoulders and pulled him in close, rubbing circles into the back of his neck until the tension began to ease there. "It must be frightening for you."
"I feel like I'm dreaming," John admitted, his hands shaking just enough for the tea to ripple, but not enough to be reminiscent of his tremor left behind by a bullet wound and poorly diagnosed PTSD. This was also a good sign. John's frown deepened as he went on. "Like everything is just out of reach, familiar but only when I'm not thinking about it. Does that make sense?"
"You've suffered an injury," Sherlock got up and walked behind the couch, resting both hands on John's shoulders and gently massaging out the tension there as well. "You'll recover from it like you always do. And I'll be there to help you every step of the way."
"And you say you're the lucky one?" John let out an exasperated chuckle, tilting his head back and closing his eyes, relaxing under Sherlock's dexterous hands.
"I am, John," Sherlock replied softly, letting one hand slip beneath John's jumper, feeling the as of yet untouched-by Sherlock-collarbone, chest, right nipple of John Watson. His John now. Except, that simple ghosting of fingertips wasn't met with the arching of his back or a gasp from between parted lips. Instead, John shot up, off the couch and away from Sherlock's touch, the cup of tea spilling all over John's front, his shoes, the floor.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" John was panicking, Sherlock could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice, so he walked calmly back around to John's side, picked up the mug and grabbed both of John's hands in his own, offering a comforting squeeze. When John finally looked at him, he looked mortified. And confused. "I don't know why I did that. I'm so sorry, I don't know why…" John swallowed, closing his eyes to ground himself. Sherlock let him work through it, running a thumb along John's knuckles until he finally asked in a low, broken voice, "Why did I do that?"
"Let's get you out of these wet clothes," Sherlock smiled comfortingly, putting a hand to the small of John's back and guiding him to his bedroom, their bedroom now. John took off layer after layer with no small amount of hesitance, but he was trying. Despite whatever engrained concern was going off inside his head, John was following Sherlock's lead, allowing himself to be led. So Sherlock allowed him to undress himself, kept his hands off newly unveiled flesh, and grabbed a pair of his pajama bottoms. They would be a bit long on him, but Sherlock had meant to get John dressing better. Perhaps he could go out while John was sleeping and pick him up a few new outfits, slip them into his closet. Not enough to look out of place, but just enough for John to recognize the option.
When Sherlock turned around, John was naked from the waist up and staring at himself in Sherlock's mirror, arm across his chest and hand gripped loosely over his shoulder. His face looked conflicted, lost, sad, broken. But if Sherlock had his way, John wouldn't stay broken for long.
"It's strange, like I've never seen myself before," John bit his lip, hand gripping tighter on his shoulder, palm digging into the skin. "I only know my own name because you keep calling me John. But if not even my own face is familiar to me," John was practically hugging himself now, his other arm looped around his waist, nails digging into his side. "I should know my own face, Sherlock. I grew up with this face, didn't I?"
Sherlock stepped in then, wrapped his arms over John's and forced him to let go, willing him to let go of everything else as well. "It'll come back. You're halfway there just by being here, John Watson. It'll be fine, I promise you."
"Watson… John Watson," John breathed, voice shaky but settling as he let himself relax, let his arms drop to his sides. He was looking at his shoulder, his scar, the gruesome, beautiful twists of skin and tissue. "How did it happen?" He turned away from the mirror, his gaze questioning and open and vulnerable and anything Sherlock said right now he would believe. So he placed his palm over John's scar and kissed him lightly, tenderly on the forehead.
"You took a bullet for me."
"I did?" John whispered, looking up at Sherlock in awe, amazement, this time for himself, for what he was starting to realize was his devotion for Sherlock.
"I'm alive today because of you." True, if not a bit out of context, but John swallowed it up all the same, believed it like scripture, because now it might as well have been, now it was fact. John wasn't wounded in Afghanistan, he was wounded saving Sherlock's life, and it was the moment in which he knew, the moment in which they both knew.
"I must really love you, then, don't I?" John placed both hands on Sherlock's chest, eyes distant as if trying to remember the feel of it, the moments that had made it so, but he was living them now, experiencing them now, so Sherlock chose to keep him in the present. Sherlock tilted his head down and brushed his lips against John's again, hesitantly waiting for another reaction like the tea, but John was pliant this time, kissing him back, going off of feel instead of emotional chaos. This was good, a fabulous sign, and one Sherlock wasted no time taking advantage of.
He had John lying back on the bed within moments, his trousers and pants pushed down his thighs enough for his cock to spring free, only half hard yet but Sherlock had barely begun. Sherlock knelt between spread legs and kissed his way down John's chest, his stomach, finally wrapping a hand around the back of John's already growing erection. John did gasp then, back slightly arched as his hands clung for purchase in the sheets. Sherlock stroked him once, just to see him do it again.
"Sh-Sherlock," John was already trembling, legs twitching as Sherlock inched himself back enough to line up the head with his mouth. And suddenly John's hand was on the back of his head, fingers tangling in his hair and John had done that all on his own. Whether by accident or by choice, it didn't matter, it was enough of a sign for Sherlock to let John's cock breach his parted lips, let the taste of skin and musk and sweat coat his tongue with the flavor of John. "Sher-" John tried again, voice taking on that similar edge of panic again, the lack of familiarity slowly winning out, but he was hard and throbbing beneath Sherlock's tongue, so not winning completely. John was torn, brutally so, and it was Sherlock's job to make his decision more clear, keep his thoughts on the moment, on the facts, on the beliefs that Sherlock was offering with every light scrape of teeth and moaning vibration around sensitive skin.
John was bucking into his mouth now, not hard, restrained and fighting against himself still, but the motion was there, Sherlock looking up to find John panting harshly, his free arm thrown across his eyes. Sherlock pulled off of John's cock with an almost audible pop, stroking him with a fast, tight grip, John's head thrown back and his mouth falling open.
"Stop fighting me, John," Sherlock whispered, low and stern into John's ear. "You know what you feel, just give in to it. Give in, John. I'll catch you." Sherlock ran his thumb over the head in a slick circle, gathering the precum there before jerking John off to completion. "Let go."
John's whole body went taught, his dick twitching in Sherlock's hand as he came in hard, painful looking spurts, his seed splattering hot against Sherlock's hand, his own stomach. Sherlock held on to him until he collapsed back into the sweat soaked bed sheets, his chest heaving and a look in his eyes that was both sated and terrified. Sherlock picked up John's jumper and wiped his hand and John's stomach clean before joining John on the bed, gathering the fragile, damaged man into his arms. He clung to Sherlock instantly, shaking well past when his heart should have slowed.
"I don't understand, Sherlock," John whispered, voice cracking on his name. "My heart won't stop racing. I feel like I'm running for my life and I can't figure out why. Why does none of this feel right? I want to feel right, I want to remember, and I can't, Sherlock. Why can't I remember this?" He ran a hand over his face. "I can feel myself responding to you, but it's like it's backwards, it's incomplete and I don't know how to fix it! You're a detective, right? Solve this for me, Sherlock, please!" John buried his head in Sherlock's chest, not crying, because his John never cried, but shaking all the same. At war with himself. But Sherlock could still make it better. Sherlock would make it right.
"It's going to be fine," Sherlock said, voice soft and kind, as soothing as the circles he was rubbing along John's spine. "I know you better than you know yourself right now, John Watson. You just have to trust me." Sherlock pulled back enough to look at John's face, his eyes full with worry and fear and Sherlock could only place a hand against John's cheek and kiss him between the eyebrows, softening the wrinkle there once again. "Do you trust me, John?"
John looked at him for a long time, mind, body, and heart searching for the answer that both of them already knew to be true. Until eventually, he took a deep breath and nodded, leaning into Sherlock's touch and closing his eyes. "Of course, Sherlock. Of course."