Two weeks. It had been two weeks since Mycroft had ruined everything and still no sign of John.

Sherlock had gone very, very far out of his way to locate him-John's sister, Bart's, Mike, friends from his time in the service, that classmate from Uni Sherlock had never bothered to remember the name of let alone pay attention to stories about-but it seemed Mycroft was doing everything in his power to keep Sherlock away. Or rather, keep John so properly hidden that any chance of salvation was growing steadily and steadily dimmer.

And that's what John was, Sherlock mused. His salvation. Always had been and always would be. And while he didn't regret his decisions to keep John-this John, new John, his John-safe from the damaging memories of his past, Sherlock couldn't help but think he'd made a terrible mistake. At least in how he'd gone about handling the whole situation.

"I'm not asking you again, Mycroft. Just tell me where he is. I can fix this," Sherlock all but growled into the phone, running a hand over his face as he paced the length of the sitting room for what certainly must have been the millionth time. He'd checked Molly's and Sarah's again today, but still nothing. Either they honestly didn't know where he was or they'd finally decided to learn how to lie. Regardless they were of no help to him now. He didn't bother checking with Lestrade after his last attempt.

"Who do you think called your brother?" Lestrade had practically snarled at him, not bothering to hide his disgust. "What you were doing to John… It borders on the sadistic, Sherlock. You needed stopping, and he was the only one with the power to do so."

Sadistic, Greg had called him. Sadistic…

Sherlock hadn't bothered responding. The man clearly didn't understand if he thought that what Sherlock was doing had been any form of sadism. No. Nowhere near that. Sherlock loved John. Sherlock needed John, would never hurt John, couldn't imagine life without John. The thought of damaging him in any way caused Sherlock physical pain. A sadist he was not. What he was, was going insane, ripping himself to shreds at the thought that he might have, in his attempts to fix John, give John something only Sherlock could give, done just that: damaged him. Or, at the very least, lost his John forever. It was all very frustrating and contradictory and if Mycroft could get off his high horse for one minute, Sherlock could fix it. He could fix all of it. He could. He had to.

"Mycroft," Sherlock repeated, sitting himself down on the couch with a heavy flop. "Mycroft, please." He hated that it had come to this, begging something, anything, of his brother. But this was John. If he was forced to beg for anyone… "You have to tell me where he is."

"I've given him my word, Sherlock," Mycroft sounded bored. It made Sherlock's skin crawl, his chest tighten in painful aggravation. "He'll remain invisible to you until such time that he wishes you to see him again. If ever."

"I'll hack into your database," Sherlock huffed, resilient, if only just because he knew himself defeated. At least on this front. "I've done it before. If you force me to I'll-"

"Just stop this, Sherlock." Mycroft hissed, raising his voice to what Sherlock remembered from childhood as his "If you don't come back here right now, I'll let father deal with you instead," voice. It was followed, as that voice most often was, by a barely restrained sigh. "I warned you about this. You simply chose not to listen."

"Warned me?" Sherlock choked. "You caused this, Mycroft!"

"And with good reason!" Mycroft shouted back, which was unusual. Enough so that it had Sherlock mentally coming up short. Mycroft never shouted. Not unless it was something important, something Sherlock wasn't getting. Before Sherlock could wrap his head around it, however, Mycroft was talking again, that bored strain in his voice back with a vengeance. "When John left me, he was confused and broken. That sort of betrayal will take time to-"

"I didn't betray him." Sherlock shook his head, covering his eyes with his free hand. No, no, no. That wasn't right at all. What Sherlock had done wasn't betrayal. He'd taken John's trust and given him something better than truth. He'd given him the life Sherlock had always wished upon him. How was that a betrayal? "I helped him."

Mycroft was silent for so long that Sherlock nearly hung up out of spite twice, but eventually his brother sighed again, long and harsh and so very, very tired sounding. "I know you believe that, Sherlock. I can hear it in your voice." He paused once more before adding, "I'm sorry, but you're wrong. And I think you need to prepare yourself."

"Prepare myself," Sherlock whispered, feeling his eye twitch in irritation; he was parroting now?

Sherlock could almost picture Mycroft bracing himself for the words, trying to lay them out gently but unwaveringly. "For what you'll do if he doesn't come back."

It took far too long for the dial tone to register in Sherlock's ear.

If John didn't come back…

But he had to come back, didn't he? They were Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. They needed each other. But if John didn't come back- No. No, that wasn't possible. He had to. John wouldn't leave him for good. John couldn't. He'd find him, he'd make him understand that what Sherlock had done was for his own good, that Sherlock had only meant to help him, to cure him, to love him like he deserved. He'd find him. If John didn't come back, he'd find him. If John didn't come back. If John didn't come back.

If John didn't come back, Sherlock didn't know what he'd do. There was no point in any of it without him.

"I'm sure he'll come round, dear. Your domestics never last," Mrs. Hudson patted him lovingly on the head as she placed a small plate of biscuits in front of him. Sherlock had been surprised to find that Mycroft hadn't told her about John; she'd heard of his head injury but beyond that, it seemed she thought the same of their relationship as before. It was more likely than not an attempt to keep around a caretaker now that John was-

Sherlock shook his head. "I don't know, Mrs. Hudson," he mumbled, pushing a biscuit around on the plate with his finger. He wasn't hungry, hadn't been for ages. He couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten. John would remember.

"Oh, Sherlock," Mrs. Hudson cooed, sitting down next to him and grabbing his hands. "With the way that boy's been looking at you lately, I'm sure he'll be walking through the door any minute now." Sherlock felt his chest tighten. What if he never got the chance to see that look on John's face again? What if he never got to take John apart again, piece by piece, until he was writhing and gasping and moaning underneath him? What if Mycroft kept John so well hidden that he'd never be able to see John, just look at him, even from a distance, ever again?

"No," Sherlock wrenched himself to his feet, Mrs. Hudson's chair clattering to the floor. Mrs. Hudson pulled back, startled.

He couldn't leave it like this. Surely there were places he'd had yet to look, files he hadn't thought to hack. There was still time, still ways he could fix things. If John was out there somewhere, Sherlock would find him. He would find him and bring him back home where he belonged, even if it meant dragging him back by force. John was still injured, still healing. He didn't understand the whole situation yet, couldn't possibly comprehend what Sherlock had been doing, especially since Mycroft had lured him away before any real progress could be made.

Without a word to Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock rushed back up to their flat and grabbed his coat, looping the scarf around his neck as he scrambled down the stairs and to the front door. He'd start with Scotland Yard, get in under the guise of looking over cold cases, get access to their hard drive, surely he could uncover something Mycroft might have missed. Sherlock turned up the collar of his coat and opened the door. Lestrade would be out on break for another forty-eight minutes, plenty of time to-

Sherlock nearly collided with the person meandering in the entryway, pulling back with a mind to lash out in impatience before stopping dead. The only word that managed to crawl its way up his too tight, too dry throat was, "John."

It shouldn't have surprised him that John walked past without a word, letting himself into their flat like he still belonged there-which he did, he did, he always would, he had to-like he'd never left, but Sherlock found himself stunned regardless, not just by John's silence, but by his presence entirely. It wasn't until that moment that Sherlock truly realized he hadn't expected John to come back at all. If anything, he'd expected to have to drag him back to Baker Street kicking and screaming. He decided not to dwell on how viable an option that had been.

"John," Sherlock said again once he'd followed John up to the sitting room. John was facing away from him, standing at the window with his hands balled into fists at his side, knuckles white. The continued silence was maddening, but when Sherlock went to break it again, John flinched.

"Don't." John hissed, head falling slightly and shoulders rising up by his ears, trembling. By the reflection in the window, Sherlock could see John's eyes were clenched shut just as tightly, everything about him tense. "Don't you fucking dare. Not another word."

"But John, I-" Sherlock tried, taking an involuntary step forward and reaching out. He had to understand. If John would just let him speak, he could make him understand. But John chose that moment slam a fist against the window so hard Sherlock swore he heard it crack.

"No! You keep your fucking mouth shut, you hear me? Or else I'm gone. Back out that door like I bloody well should be!" His words choked off, John's hand shaking as he ran it over his face. "So just… Just don't, okay?"

Sherlock let his arm fall back to his side, his hand gripping the fabric of his dressing gown as he nodded, biting his lip as if to silence himself further. If that's what John wanted. The overwhelming, suffocating quiet stretched on for what felt like hours then, enveloping them both in thick, tense awkwardness. It was almost physically painful, the sound of John's soft inhale before he began speaking again almost tangible, a string pulled taught and about to snap.

"Do you have any idea what it's like?" He whispered, reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a stack of crumples papers. Files. They shook as he held them. "Do you have any idea what you've done to me, Sherlock?" He turned around then, and for the first time since the shock of seeing him standing on the porch, Sherlock got a good look at him. Even in the dim light of the evening it was easy to see his eyes were red-rimmed and tired looking, bags like bruises underneath. His face had a good few days' worth of greying stubble and his hair was a disheveled mess. He was wearing one of his old jumpers, probably one left behind at Sarah's or Janette's or Harry's, wherever Mycroft had hidden him. Sherlock felt something tug behind his breastbone. Even rumpled and worn, there was something about seeing John in that jumper that hurt, like a bad memory made bearable with time, but still aching.

It seemed John was waiting for something, an answer to his rhetorical question, so Sherlock shook his head and kept his teeth pressed firmly against his bottom lip, willing John to go on. Because maybe, when he was done, he'd let Sherlock do some talking as well.

John rolled his eyes, narrowing them hotly before glancing down at the files still clutched tightly in one hand. "It feels like I'm being torn apart, like I'm two people, like I have two lives battling for dominance inside my head and it's killing me, Sherlock. I can't function like this. Twice, I tried to… after I found out, I couldn't…" Sherlock felt something very much like panic run in a cold rush down his spine. Suicide wasn't supposed to be an option anymore, he'd made sure of that by deleting Afghanistan. John wasn't supposed to still want to, wasn't supposed to still need that escape. For the first time in a long time Sherlock felt genuine hatred for Mycroft. John turned back towards the window, clearly too emotional to handle facing Sherlock at the moment. "There was no other way, was there? Not when living felt like being ripped in two, off balance and damaged beyond repair, never sure of what was real and what was just some story you made up to restrain me."

Restrain? No, I- "John," Sherlock tried without thinking, and John let out an abrupt and wanton sound of protest, holding up a hand behind himself to silence Sherlock again.

"I'm not done." He said after a moment, lowering his hand and turning around. "I've got plenty left to say and you're not to open that bloody mouth of yours again until I'm through, understood?"

Sherlock flinched. The inflections were familiar and harsh, heavy with authority; not a request from his John, but an order from Captain Watson. Sherlock felt that tug in his chest tighten, strangling him from the inside. He was losing him. He was losing him. John eyed him stonily, waiting for recognition of his demand, shoulders barely loosening an almost unnoticeable fraction when Sherlock nodded. Maybe he'd already lost him.

"You know what's really sick?" John said after a moment. Sherlock knew it was rhetorical, but he still found himself wanting desperately to say something, do something more than just wait for John to get to his point so Sherlock could get to his. So Sherlock could make John better again. "What's really fucking twisted is that… When Mycroft gave me the files, I thought they were fake. I thought he was trying to trick me into thinking that you'd played me so that I would hate you or leave you or… Something. I was willing to believe anything else than what you'd done because I trusted you that much."

Trusted. Not trust, trusted. Past tense. Sherlock swallowed thickly and stayed quiet, knowing there was more.

"But then, the more I read, the more right it felt. And wrong. Like I could see myself being shot in two places, Afghanistan and to save you. I could see myself helping you solve crimes and working on patients. I could see myself in a life with you, happy and exciting and ridiculous in a good way but I could also see myself in other relationships, hazy relationships with women I cared about and-" John sighed again, running a hand down his face once more before finally turning back around. "I wanted so badly to believe in the parts of me that had you in them. But after what you did, I can't tell what's real anymore. If any of it was." John smirked, the look all wrong, lacking amusement completely. "It almost makes me wonder if we had any sort of relationship at all before. Were we even really friends? I mean, would a friend put me through what you did?"

That same terror gripped ruthlessly at Sherlock's heart as John finally stopped talking, letting the silence weigh heavily between them for a moment. So Sherlock jumped on it, recalling the words that had healed them once before. "I don't have friends," Sherlock tried, John letting out an exasperated half laugh in response.

"No surprise there," he sniffed, but Sherlock wasn't finished. Just like before, it was the next words that mattered.

"I only have one."

John's eyebrow raised a fraction, as if the words were familiar, and Sherlock felt the terror gripping his chest loosen a fraction. That is, until John asked, "And who might that be? Yourself?" Sherlock opened his mouth to speak, but no sound would come this time, John's words sitting heavily in his throat, choking him. For the first time, Sherlock was starting to realize what he'd lost, not just in his John, but in the John from before, the one that had changed Sherlock as much as he'd tried to change him.

"This is stupid," John sighed abruptly, walking past Sherlock without warning, heading towards his room. Their room. No, Sherlock's room. It was all so confusing now. "I wasn't supposed to come here at all, you know? For obvious reasons. Mycroft was going to send someone to pick up my stuff, but I wanted to do it. I told him I could handle it." Sherlock felt another wave of hatred for his brother settle permanently in the pit of his stomach. John walked into the bedroom and grabbed a bag from the closet, stuffing some items and clothes inside. Sherlock tried not to feel anything at all when one of those pieces of clothing turned out to be Sherlock's pajama bottoms. "I guess it was foolish of me to think talking to would help any. I just… I guess I needed to try. For closure. Or something."

Closure.

Sherlock was at the door before he'd even made the cognitive decision to move, slamming it shut, barring them in. As expected, John reacted instantly, shoulders tensing, body swiveling towards him in stunned suspicion.

"Sherlock… What are you-?" He tried, but Sherlock shook his head, John's words choking off into nothing as realization began to sink in. Still, just to be certain-because John could miss the most obvious things when he was on edge-Sherlock cleared his throat.

"I'm not letting you leave until we've sorted this out." I'm not letting you walk out of here at all if I have to. Not if watching you walk through that door means I'll never see you again. Not if you intend never to come back.

John frowned. "There's nothing left to sort out, Sherlock. It's done. Whatever twisted fantasy you've created with us is done. I'm done."

"You can't possibly expect to comprehend the situation without all the variables. You're being incorrigible."

John raised an eyebrow at that. "Incorrigible," he parroted, shaking his head as he shoved the last of his things in the bag and then let it drop to the floor. "You can't keep me in here indefinitely, Sherlock. That's kidnapping."

"You live here," Sherlock reminded him, because it was still true. Whether or not he wanted to believe it, Baker Street would always be his home. He had to know that. He had to feel that. He didn't belong anywhere else. Just here, in 221B, with Sherlock.

"Not anymore," John crossed his arms. "I've been looking at flats in-"

"You live here," Sherlock said again, hoping somewhere inside John was appreciating the repetition.

John grabbed his bag off the floor. "Get out of the way, Sherlock," He frowned. Sherlock locked the door, John's hand tightening just so on the bag's strap.

"No."

"So what, then?" John threw the bag into the corner, his anger rising. "Are you going to tie me up? Keep me held hostage? Add a little physical abuse to the mental and psychological torture you've already racked up?"

"John-"

"Actually, if you count forcing me to sleep with you as rape, you've already done your share of physical damage, not to mention emotional."

Sherlock's mind stopped completely, halting like a car crash on the words. Forced, rape, emotional damage, psychological abuse… No. No, John simply didn't understand. He couldn't see what Sherlock was trying to do. He had to get him to see. He had to get him to realize how much he-

"You enjoyed yourself," Sherlock heard himself whisper. John froze.

"Excuse me?"

"It wasn't rape. You not only enjoyed yourself, but you reciprocated. On numerous occasions you even asked for it." That wasn't what he'd meant to say. That wasn't what he'd meant to say at all, but he couldn't seem to stop talking. "You wanted me. Even before. You've always wanted me this way, you just didn't want to admit it."

"Stop." John nearly growled, his hands shaking with the intensity to which he was clenching them into fists at his sides.

"I never forced you. I only allowed you to have something you'd always craved, something you'd always been too afraid to ask for."

"Stop it, Sherlock. Right now."

"None of what I did was meant as abuse or torture," Sherlock rephrased. "I was merely giving you the chance to have the life you deserve. Maybe even the life you never realized you'd desired."

John shook his head hard enough that Sherlock thought he might give himself whiplash. "You put all that in my head! I don't even know what's mine anymore! How do I tell if it's something that I want or something that you want, that you put there to-to-"

Sherlock took a step forward and out of reflex, John took a step back, nearly knocking the lamp from the bedside table. So Sherlock stopped, holding his hands up in defense for now. "What if they're both the same thing?"

"What?"

"What if we both want the same thing? Then it won't matter."

"There's no way to know that, Sherlock. You rewrote me. There's no way to know what I would have wanted before-"

"You trusted me once," Sherlock tried. "Trust me again."

John looked lost, broken, like he didn't know whether to crumple into the corner, jump out the window, or fight Sherlock to the door. Eventually, his face fell, his eyes growing heavy, tired, scared. "I want to. God, with every fiber of my being, I want to." He looked Sherlock in the eye, the whole world narrowing into that one spot, that one moment as John choked out, "But how can I?"

"Because you love me," Sherlock replied as if it were the most obvious thing on earth. John shook his head again, but it was a defeated motion at best.

"Part of me does," he sighed. "I can't tell if it's just because of you, because of all this, or if it's been that way for a long time, but I do. A part of me loves you so much it hurts."

Sherlock felt his heart stutter at the admission, a stretch of excitement and warmth blooming across his chest, wrapping him in hope and joy and- Sherlock caught back up to himself, forcing himself to ask the words he knew he needed the answer to. "And the other part?"

John held his gaze with a severity and intensity that left Sherlock breathless. "The other part of me can't stand the sight of you."

Sherlock expected as much, but the words still cut him deeply, that warmth from a moment ago evaporating like steam, leaving him cold and anxious, his mind searching for a way to fix this. Any way. His answer all but jumped out of his mouth when he found it. "What if I told you I loved you too?"

John flinched. "Don't do that."

"It's true, John," he kept on, willing John to hear the reality in those words. He may not have voiced it aloud until now, but that made it no less true, and it was the only thing that might work. "I've loved you since the moment you killed the cabby to save my life." A realization he hadn't had till that moment, but that didn't mean it wasn't fact. To his surprise, John scoffed.

"I killed a man for you now?" He rolled his eyes and placed a hand to his own shoulder. "Like how I took a bullet for you?"

Sherlock blinked, frowning when he remembered John's file, that he'd gone out of his way to remove all traces of John's involvement in the shooting, just in case Lestrade ever needed proof against him. Another important memory forever lost. "You saved my life countless times over," Sherlock went on instead. "I was simply attempting to save yours this time."

"By making me forget about Afghanistan? Making me think we were a couple? How does that make any sense, Sherlock?"

"Because you wouldn't have realized you loved me any other way." Sherlock explained. "There was too much at stake before, too much clouding your judgment. You were too set in your ways to realize what we could have. Losing your memory was the perfect opening to-"

"My memories are what make me who I am, Sherlock!" John groaned, sitting himself down heavily on the bed. "Without them, I'm just a blank slate. An empty canvas you decided to fill with whatever suited you best, and I can't forgive you for that."

Cautiously, Sherlock sat next to him. "I was only filling that canvas up with the best parts of you," he said, grabbing John's hand. John tensed, but didn't pull away. "I wanted you to see what living could be like without the painful memories, how much lighter the world would feel without being weighted down by your troubling past. I wanted you to have the life you should have had from the beginning, the one you deserve to live," he reiterated again, raising John's hand to his lips and kissing each knuckle in turn. Despite himself, John's hand relaxed in Sherlock's grip, Sherlock barely suppressing his smile. "I had only your best interest at heart, John. You have to believe that."

"Like you got nothing out of it," John mumbled, looking down at his lap. But he still hadn't pulled away.

"I won't deny that it's also something I've always wanted, something I've secretly hoped for for a while now," Sherlock admitted, angling his body more towards John and raising a hand to his cheek, cupping John's face against his palm. John nuzzled into it without thinking. "But I would have never forced you. I would have let you come to your own conclusions, always secretly hoping you'd realize." He ran his thumb across John's bottom lip, stomach tightening when John parted those lips involuntarily, the tip of his tongue brushing against Sherlock's skin. "Losing your memories was like being forced back to the beginning, forced back to a place where we were even less likely to be together, and I couldn't let that happen."

"You don't think," John turned his head away, not pulling out of Sherlock's palm but settling it against the back of his skull instead. "Maybe I could have fallen in love with you before, without your help?" Sherlock thought it over, tried to imagine John choosing him over his slew of girlfriends, his job, his friends. It was strange, but as much as the evidence leaned towards the negative, Sherlock couldn't bring himself to deny that it might have been possible. If he'd had the patience, if John had never gotten amnesia, maybe they could have. Maybe John would have chosen him anyway.

"I don't know," Sherlock whispered at last. "Possibly."

John chuckled, the sound flat and humorless. "I guess we'll never know now, will we?"

"John," Sherlock whispered, forcing John to look back at him before leaning in to place their foreheads together. "In the hospital, when you saw me for the first time, you thought I was your boyfriend."

"Because you kissed me," John whispered, breath hot and ticklish against Sherlock's face.

"But it was more than that, wasn't it." Sherlock continued. "What did you see? How did I act when I came in?"

John closed his eyes for a moment, trying to work his way back to his first memory after the accident. Keeping his eyes shut, he said, "You looked frantic. Relieved, like you'd thought I was dead. You were barely in the room for a second before you started hugging me. Kissing me." John added a bit lower, voice soft but rough. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"I didn't realize you had amnesia then," Sherlock smiled, surprised at the blush he felt spreading across his cheeks. "The moment I realized you were alive, I couldn't seem to help myself. I wanted to pull you into my arms and never let you go. I wanted you to never have to suffer again."

John looked stunned, lips parted in disbelief. "But… What does-?"

"That was our first kiss," Sherlock added, not sure why it was relevant, but John sucked in a breath, looking away as a flush colored his neck and cheeks a lovely shade of pink.

"You didn't know," John tried again after a moment. "When you saw me in the hospital, that was how you really felt." Sherlock nodded. "So maybe… Maybe that's how I felt too." John scrunched his eyes closed tight for another long moment, Sherlock struggling to follow John's train of thought, but it was a bit distracting when John kept licking his lips unconsciously, his hands settling on Sherlock's upper thighs. When John didn't go on, Sherlock ran his own hand comfortingly along John's arm.

"John?" He whispered in lieu of prodding. John opened his eyes, pupils blown wide, looking dazed.

"When you walked in, I had no idea who you were, but still, I…" John laughed weakly. "I was so happy to see you. My heart literally jumped at the sight of you, God. I felt like I'd been waiting for you to show up without even realizing it." Sherlock felt his heart rate increasing, the corner of his mouth tugging up into a smile as John went on. "And then you were hugging me and kissing me and it felt surprising, shocking, but wonderful, like I'd been wanting you to do it for years. But I didn't know you, couldn't remember your face, so I just assumed. If I was reacting that way just by being near you, just from one kiss, then surely..." John laughed again, the sound breathy, strained. "Surely we were already," he licked his lips again, leaning in, eyes locked on Sherlock's mouth. "We were already…" John's lips were just barely touching his, feather-light touches of breath and sound. "This," John breathed before capturing Sherlock's mouth with his own, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth until Sherlock was gasping.

Suddenly John was on top of him, straddling his lap as he attacked his mouth with teeth and tongue, breaking away to suck patches of color into Sherlock's neck and collarbone, fingers making quick work of the buttons on Sherlock's shirt. Once the fabric was open and parted, John began kissing his way down, tongue dipping into Sherlock's navel as he undid Sherlock's belt and zip with shaking but determined fingers. Sherlock hissed at the blast of cold air against his cock, back arching off the bed as John pulled his pants and trousers off and away, leaving Sherlock naked from the waist down, shirt open and tucked into his elbows, while John loomed over him completely clothed and suddenly looking a bit out of his depth.

Sherlock pulled himself up and reached out, cupping John's face in his hand again to dissuade any lingering doubt. He couldn't allow John to be hesitant now, not when they were so close. John was back within his reach. He wasn't letting go of him again. Wasting no time on his own uncertainty, Sherlock pulled John into another deep, heady kiss, sucking John's tongue teasingly before pulling away.

"Fuck me," he whispered into John's ear, not so much seeing John's shutter as feeling it, shared between their two bodies. John kissed him again, nowhere near as slow and deep but frantic desperate equally as passionate, nipping at Sherlock's lips and breathing into him as he reached past to grab the bottle of lube from the nightstand, remembering where it was without thinking.

Sherlock knew what to expect, knew the logistics of it from his experiences on John, but there was nothing that could have prepared him for the feeling, the sensations that wracked his body as John's slicked fingers breached the tight ring of muscle and stretched him wide. It was overwhelming, sensory overload, bordering on painful when John added another finger, but all the while, he couldn't ignore the thrill that they were John's lips against the inside of his knee, John's fingers curving inside him, searching. And when they found the bundle of nerves that sent tendrils of pure electricity through every nerve ending in his body, Sherlock almost came then and there. But then John was pulling away, leaving Sherlock empty and hallow and wanting, wanting John, needing John. He could have been mumbling those needs aloud for the looks John was giving him, his eyes hazy with lust, but still reluctant, like he was uncertain, hungry and desperate but unwilling to give himself up to this completely, not again. So Sherlock spread his legs a bit wider, looked up at John in a way he hoped conveyed every ounce of lust wracking his system, every ounce of love he felt for the one causing it.

"Jesus, Sherlock," John groaned, slicking himself and lining up with Sherlock's entrance, carefully and slowly pushing himself in. He was still too tight, the penetration slick but burning at the invasion. Sherlock said nothing, gritting his teeth until Jon was pressed flush against him, buried to the hilt. It was all consuming, this feeling of being so completely filled with John, surrounding by and surrounding John. It was almost too much, and yet not quite enough. The conflicting sensations, feelings, emotions nearly driving him mad. "Hey," he heard John whisper, felt John's hand against his face and neck, soothing him. "You're shaking."

"Move," Sherlock choked out. Because if John stopped now, he might stop forever, and if John was going to leave him, then the very least he could do was let him leave with this, give John this, leave John with his heart and his body and his everything if he could.

"Sherlock," John whispered, unsure.

"Move. Please," Sherlock leaned into John's touch, kissed his palm once before looking John fiercely in the eye. "Fuck me like you mean it."

The implications were heavy and final, John's eyes widening a fraction before he lowered his lips to Sherlock's neck and began to thrust. The angle was perfect, John's cock sliding past his prostate on every stroke, his eyes rolling back into his head as a low and constant whine crawled up his throat. When John began to pound into him-almost as close as Sherlock, it seemed-Sherlock felt John's fingers wrap around his neglected prick, barely working a minute long rhythm before Sherlock was spilling between them, his whole body tensing at the intensity of his orgasm. Even in the mind numbing aftershock of it, Sherlock could feel John coming, pouring inside him, filling him at last. Claiming him the way Sherlock had tried to claim John. For a blissful moment, his heart gradually slowing, the spasms of pleasure fading into lazy warmth, Sherlock could pretend they were alright, that this was the first of many perfect moments just the two of them, just Sherlock and John. Then John pulled out.

Sherlock winced, moaning despite himself as John sat up, reaching for a shirt he'd discarded in his haste to pack and using it to clean himself off before tucking himself back into his trousers. He'd never even bothered to remove his own trousers.

For a second, Sherlock was certain that was it, that John was going to get up, grab his bag, and walk out. He closed his eyes, waiting for it even, but then he felt John's hand against his abdomen, the shirt cleaning away the stickiness from his own chest and stomach, reaching carefully between his legs as well before the touch and the shirt were gone. Sherlock sat up quickly, grabbing John's wrist to keep him on the bed.

"Stay," Sherlock pleaded.

"Sherlock," John groaned, letting his head drop down, his hands gripping the bed sheets as if to keep himself grounded. Without warning, Sherlock lowered his head to John's lap, resting a cheek against his knee as he held tighter to John's wrist, his leg, willing John not to go.

"Stay," He said again, his third repetition of the evening. And if that wasn't a sign of desperation…

John was silent for a very long while, somewhere in it his hand settling lightly atop Sherlock's head, fingers tangling in the curls there as he stroked absently. Sherlock closed his eyes, waiting for whatever decision John was making, the decision that would mean the rest of Sherlock's life.

"Okay," John muttered at last, a weight lifting off Sherlock's chest, a gasp of surprise leaving him in spite of himself. "But I don't forgive you." Sherlock was going to say something, anything, but John added in a harsh whisper, "And if you ever lie to me again, about anything. If you so much as pretend to have bought the milk when you haven't, I'm leaving. And I'm never coming back." Sherlock nodded against John's lap, John's hand tightening briefly in his hair. "You've wasted all your strikes, Sherlock. In fact, I shouldn't even be considering this after what you've done. But," John's swallow was audible, his hand stilling atop Sherlock's head, his voice distant. "I'm willing to try. I don't know what in God's name is wrong with me, but I am." He sighed. "Maybe I just love you that much."

Sherlock sat back up, leaning in to place a single, chaste kiss against John's lips, capturing his gaze when he pulled away. "From now on, only the truth."

"Shouldn't be hard for you, I imagine," John tried to tease, though it was clear his heart wasn't in it. "You've never had a problem telling others what's on your mind."

"I don't usually care what people think," Sherlock said. "But I care what you think. I'll always care what you think. So for you, only truth. No more lies. Even if they would only be meant to protect you."

"I don't need protecting, Sherlock," John sighed again. Sherlock chose not to argue, instead, pulling John into his arms and resting his face into the juncture where John's shoulder met his neck.

"I love you, John Hamish Watson, Doctor Watson, Captain Watson." He pulled away, though not before placing a kiss to John's pulse point and mumbling against the skin. "Only truth, always truth. I love you, John."

"I love you too," John mumbled back, his voice soft and tired, like he didn't want the words to be true but couldn't find the will to deny them. Sherlock swore to find a way to keep them there, to have them always be truth, John's truth, their truth.

"We'll fix this," Sherlock whispered against John's scarred shoulder, feeling John's arms tighten around him, clutching to him for dear life. "I'll fix this."

"I hope you're right, Sherlock," John's voice broke, no little amount of exhaustion and doubt underneath it. "I really hope you're right."