[Author's Note: Okay, here it is - the true end to this story. Thanks so much to everyone for sticking with me on this much-longer-than-anticipated journey! I have a few challenges to write for my original fandom over the next few weeks, but I hope to be back in the world of Johnlock soon. Thanks again for all your lovely reviews and comments.]
Sherlock finished the last few notes with a flourish, and Mrs. Hudson put her teacup down to clap enthusiastically.
"Lovely, just lovely," she beamed proudly. "Wasn't that lovely, John?"
John kept his eyes on Sherlock where he stood by the window, the violin and bow now dangling from his hands as he mocked a small ironic bow in Mrs. Hudson's direction. His graceful figure was silhouetted against the gathering dusk, the small pools of lamp light casting a luminous golden glow on his aubergine shirt and tight black trousers.
"Lovely," John repeated, letting the full measure of the warmth he felt color his voice.
Sherlock smiled knowingly, his eyelashes dipping down as a slight pink tinged his cheeks.
"Well," Mrs. Hudson said into the charged silence. "Thank you so much for including me in your celebration, but I must be getting to bed now." She cast a coy glance between them. "I'll be taking my herbal soother, and I'll be quite dead to the world, I'll have you know."
John couldn't help his blush, but Sherlock just chuckled. "Why Mrs. Hudson, I don't know what you're implying," he said, his mouth curling with amusement.
Mrs. Hudson laughed gaily. "I'm sure you don't." She bustled over to give Sherlock a hearty hug, and then favored John with a gentler version, careful of his healing bruises. She stopped at the door one more time to beam at them both. "I am so happy to have you both home, loves," she chirped happily, her eyes misting over.
Sherlock seemed at a loss for words, clearing his throat and blinking rapidly, and so John spoke up. "We are very glad to be home as well, Mrs. Hudson. And thank you again for the cake. It was delicious."
"Oh, you flatterer! I'll bring another up tomorrow. You both need feeding up!" She smiled the whole way out the door. John locked the door behind her, listening to her making her way down the steps for a moment before turning back to Sherlock. He was still standing by the windows, looking out at the city meditatively.
"Another cuppa?" John asked.
"Hmm?" Sherlock seemed to be jolted from his thoughts. "No, no. Oh do sit down, John, you're still healing," he nagged irritably.
John flexed his shoulder. "It's much better," he said, before sitting down again with a sigh.
Sherlock's eyes wandered over John for a few long moments, his expression unreadable. Finally he took a deep breath and began to play again, and John listened in awed appreciation. The piece was more complex than anything he had ever heard Sherlock play, starting slow and moody, but with amazing runs of glitteringly melodic notes. John watched Sherlock's fingers fly across the fingerboard, at times so quickly that they were just a pale blur of movement, at other times slow and deliberate, wringing every last vibrato from the mournful notes.
Sherlock's whole body bent and twisted with the force of the music, a damp sheen of sweat gathering on his forehead and the exposed hollow of his throat as he bowed vigorously.
Sherlock paused for a moment. "What is that?" John found himself asking, without even realizing he meant to speak.
Sherlock's gentle smile was a revelation, warm and affectionate, and John was so dazzled by it he hardly heard his reply at first.
"It's Sarasate," Sherlock said softly, and then continued. In a few moments the music changed, taking on a lively and celebratory tone.
John closed his eyes to appreciate the astonishing performance, and was suddenly struck by the memory — Sherlock between his thighs, warm and pliant as John rubbed almond oil into the pale expanse of his wrist.
["I'll play for you," Sherlock had said, nuzzling into the open vee of John's collar. "When we're back at Baker Street. I'll play Sarasate." "Yes," John had answered. "You'll play for me, and I'll listen. And when you're done, you'll put your violin and bow away carefully...and you'll put these beautiful hands on me instead."]
John smiled. In the four days that they had been back at Baker Street Sherlock had been plying him with tea and takeaway, urging him to rest at every available opportunity, and generally treating him as if he were made of glass. The novelty had worn off after the first day, and by now John was downright sick of it. Now Sherlock was playing Sarasate for him, and John thought he knew what he was trying to say in his own, obscure, Sherlockian way.
John stood up slowly. He still had some limitation in the range of motion in his left shoulder, but honestly he was long accustomed to that, and had no difficulty pulling off his jumper one-handed. Sherlock cast a sly glance at him, but kept playing as John's t-shirt followed, tossed carelessly aside as well.
The bruises looked truly dreadful, but most of the tenderness had faded. They wouldn't hinder him much, John thought with a smile of anticipation. Slowly he circled around Sherlock, stopping about a pace behind him.
Sherlock was still bowing vigorously, swaying to the music, and John began by just reaching his hand out, placing his fingertips on the fluid length of Sherlock's back. Sherlock's bow skittered for just a moment and then he continued playing as John flattened his palm down, riding the movement of Sherlock's body, feeling the muscles bunch and twist beneath his hand. His body was warm with exertion beneath the silky fabric of the shirt, and John couldn't resist a slow stroke of his palm down to the hollow of Sherlock's spine.
He had a sense of Sherlock's range of movement now and stepped in closer, pressing the full length of his body against Sherlock's back, feeling Sherlock sway closer and away again as he gave himself over to the melody. It was intoxicating to be this close to Sherlock when he was held in the grip of the music — manic energy and focused joy radiating from every inch of his body.
John's arms snaked around Sherlock's waist, hands caressing the luxurious fabric of his silk button-down before gathering up handfuls, slowly pulling it untucked from his trousers. The trill of the violin didn't manage to entirely mask Sherlock's groan as John's tea-warmed hands smoothed across the taut muscles of Sherlock's belly.
John wrapped his left arm around Sherlock's bare waist while his right hand started at the bottom of Sherlock's shirt, slowly flicking it open, button by button, until it gaped open the full expanse of his lean chest.
With a hum of satisfaction John enfolded Sherlock fully in his arms, pressing his cheek against Sherlock's flexing shoulderblade, feeling the drag of the bow and the vibration of the notes resonating through his body.
The music reached a crescendo, and then concluded in a dramatic flourish of notes. The last few tones rang in the sudden silence as Sherlock dropped his arm, letting the violin and bow hang at his sides, panting slightly with exertion. He leaned back a bit into John and John gladly returned the gentle pressure, his arms tightening, hands sliding up to caress Sherlock's sweat-dampened torso.
Sherlock tilted his head back, nuzzling John's temple, and then stepped away to carefully place the Strad and bow back in its case.
He turned back to John, his grey eyes dark with arousal, but then hesitated, his eyes wandering assessingly over John's bare chest.
"Sherlock," John groaned. "It's fine."
Sherlock reached out, the tips of his long pale fingers tentatively tracing the edges of John's mottled bruises in silent apology.
"Enough." John lay his own palm over the back of Sherlock's hand, forcing it down until it was pressed firmly to his skin over the bruises, and his sharp inhale of breath he made held nothing but pleasure. He reached out, twining his fingers in Sherlock's curls, pulling his head roughly down into a devouring kiss.
Sherlock held back for only a moment longer before yielding with a soft desperate noise, his long arms pulling John close as he ardently answered his kiss. "Upstairs," he finally murmured, walking backward as he tugged at John's belt, and John followed. They fumbled up the stairs together in a disorganized scramble of eager hands and clumsy feet, shedding belts, socks, and shoes as they went.
Two steps from the top John finally got Sherlock's trousers unfastened, shoving them down his thighs with an exclamation of triumph. Sherlock's resultant ungainly hop to keep from falling sent them both stumbling into each other in helpless laughter. Sherlock growled in mock vengeance as he pushed John backwards into his bedroom and onto his bed.
John tried to sit up but Sherlock was faster, stripping off his pants and straddling John's hips in one smooth movement. As John struggled up to his elbows Sherlock's sinful smile faded, his grey eyes growing serious.
He leaned down, carefully bracing his hands on either side of John's head. His kiss was soft and tender, almost chaste. John's arms came up to encircle Sherlock's shoulders and Sherlock gently pushed them down again by the forearms, carefully avoiding John's injured shoulder and torn wrists.
"Lie back," Sherlock instructed, his eyes warm. "Let me."
"Sherlock." John squirmed in aggravation. "I'm fine. Stop treating me like..."
Sherlock swooped in, interrupting John with a fierce kiss this time, nipping gently at his lips before sucking John's tongue into his mouth. When he drew back, leaving both of them breathless, his face was shadowed with some expression John couldn't read.
"I know," Sherlock finally said. "I know you are capable, John, but I..." Sherlock's mouth twisted. "I need to do this." His hands ran gently over John's face, as if mapping his confusion with his fingertips.
John caught Sherlock's hands, pressing a kiss ot each palm. "You have nothing to atone for, Sherlock," he said firmly. "You kept us alive. What you had to do...it was the harder part. Much harder. And you can't imagine that I blame you for any of it."
"I know you don't," Sherlock whispered hoarsely.
"Then stop blaming yourself," John answered, his voice thick with frustration.
"I will," Sherlock said. John's concern must have shown on his face, Sherlock's lashes shading his eyes for a moment before he answered again. "I will try. But...let me do this, John. Let me take care of you for once. It's...it's what I need to do."
John searched Sherlock's expression for a long moment, seeing only sincerity and a shadow of some nameless need. Finally he nodded, pressing a quick kiss to Sherlock's lips before resting back, letting his hands fall at his sides.
Sherlock started slowly, delicately, tracing the lines of John's face as if memorizing it. He continued down John's torso, worshipping every inch of bruised, scraped, and stitched skin. John relaxed into the novel sensation of Sherlock nibbling and licking, his fingers stroking and soothing.
Sherlock focused his attention on John's nipples, the soft nibbles turning to suckling bites, and John's hazy hum of relaxed arousal suddenly focused into sharp need. He writhed underneath Sherlock's mouth.
"Jesus, Sherlock," he said feelingly.
Sherlock lifted his head, casting John a wicked glance through his eyelashes as his hands worked at the flies of John's jeans. His pale skin was flushed, his lush mouth pink and damp.
"Oh, Christ," John groaned. "You're so damned beautiful, love. It's fucking unfair."
Sherlock reached up, deftly catching the hand that John hadn't even realized he had raised to tangle in Sherlock's hair, pressing it back to the mattress with a look of admonishment.
"Christ," John said again, as Sherlock stripped his jeans and pants ruthlessly away before continuing his gentle explorations, lapping at the tender skin of his abdomen before nuzzling into the crease of his groin.
The first touch of Sherlock's mouth to John's cock had him bucking up uncontrollably, his hands clenching into fists at his sides.
"Oh fuck...oh, sodding fuck, that's lovely," he mumbled.
It was harder than he ever would have realized, to stay passive and pliant beneath Sherlock's touch. John had usually taken the lead with his sexual encounters, or at the very least been an active participant. Without having to focus on pleasuring his partner or planning what to do next, John had nothing to do but focus on his own sensations, making the experience almost unbearably intense. He had never felt so exposed, and yet at the same time so cherished.
Sherlock was meticulous and inexorable, learning John achingly slowly, discovering every inch of him. He varied his touch and the movements of his mouth to find what made John groan and squirm uncontrollably, what sent his breathing ragged. Then he worked him ruthlessly, using his graceful fingers and clever tongue to shatter John's control until he was sobbing in breathless abandon.
John heard himself as if from a distance, keening incoherently under the indescribably wicked feeling of Sherlock slowly taking him apart, hot mouth sucking and licking at his cock, long fingers stroking deep and slow inside his body. He rocked into each sensation, wanton and desperate. He didn't want it to be over and yet he couldn't hold back, and found himself balanced on the excruciating edge.
"Please," he heard himself begging. "Oh, Christ, Sherlock, please..."
He felt Sherlock raise his head, pulling off with a slow, luxurious suck, and forced his eyes open. He groaned at the sight of those silver eyes dark with lust as Sherlock spoke for the first time since he had started.
"John," Sherlock growled, his velvet voice turned low and harsh with need. "Now, John. Let go for me."
He lowered his head again, pulling John back into his mouth in a slick, filthy slide of lips and tongue, and twisted his fingers deep in John's body.
John came with an unrestrained shout, shuddering and shaking, spilling into the warm depth of Sherlock's mouth, feeling him swallow hungrily around him.
"Oh fuck...oh god..." John moaned as Sherlock licked him langorously through the aftershocks, holding his hips firmly down until John had subsided into a shivering mess.
Sherlock gently removed his fingers, leaving John feeling strangely empty, and then he was surging up John's body. All his composure had vanished as he pressed his rigid length against John's damp cock, rutting frantically into the sweat-slick crease of his groin.
Sherlock rocked into John, rough and desperate, harsh grunts escaping him with every grind of his hips.
"John," he was muttering between grunts, sounding almost as if he were in pain. "John, John, yes, oh god, John..."
John held him tightly, whispering indistinct endearments into the soft curls, and in only moments Sherlock was coming hard, a ragged cry escaping him. He collapsed, shivering, pressing his face into John's right shoulder, one of the few unbruised places on his body. John felt the dampness of tears against his shoulder and squeezed Sherlock harder against his chest, murmuring soothingly, stroking his back and hair.
"God, love, that was gorgeous, so beautiful...thank you, love..."
Sherlock's breath hitched and he pressed his face harder against John's skin, his back shuddering under John's palms as he fought against the tears. Finally he seemed to calm, his body relaxing and his breath evening out. John pressed a kiss into Sherlock's temple as Sherlock slid to the side, his face still hidden against John's body.
They lay in silence for long minutes, and it was John who finally got up, fetching a warm wet flannel to clean them both.
Sherlock opened his eyes sleepily as John gently wiped the pale skin clean. John smiled to see him looking more relaxed than in all the days since their return, some last measure of tension exorcised from his changeable eyes.
"Back to taking care of me?" Sherlock murmured, fond affection in his voice.
John threw the flannel in the hamper and settled in beside Sherlock, pulling his languid body up against his side, entangling their limbs and pulling the duvet up to cover them both.
"Always," he said.
John opened his eyes and Sherlock was there, pale face beautiful in the streetlight filtering through the curtains, grey eyes gazing at him in open adoration.
"Come here, love," John said, opening his arms, and Sherlock nestled into his embrace as if he were meant to be there.
John nuzzled into Sherlock's neck, breathing in his scent. "Don't leave me," he mumbled.
"Never," Sherlock replied, kissing his temple.
John sighed in happiness. "Am I dreaming?" he finally asked muzzily.
Sherlock leaned in, his breath puffing hot in John's ear, and then...
"Ow!" John jolted to full awareness, clapping a protective palm over his earlobe. "You bit me, you enormous nutter!"
Sherlock reared back, looking startled at John's reaction.
"I undersood that mild activation of nocireceptors was traditional in assisting one between distinguishing full awareness from dreamstates."
John rubbed his wounded earlobe. "I think a pinch is the traditional — no, don't pinch me, you git!" he added, fending off Sherlock's reaching hands. "I'm awake, okay!" He lay back down, shaking his head in exasperation. "Jesus."
Sherlock lay back down also, insinuating himself back into John's arms. His hand tickled John's side as he began to rub insistently up against John's hip, half-hard and growing harder by the moment. "Since you're awake now..." he rumbled in his most seductive tone of voice.
John laughed, even as he turned toward Sherlock, hand sliding down to cup his arse and pull him in closer.
"Oh am I?" he asked sarcastically. "I wonder why." He nuzzled into Sherlock's cheek a little. "Tosser," he said fondly.
"Idiot," Sherlock replied back equally fondly, licking his way into John's mouth.
"Mmmm..." John said, grinding into Sherlock with a slow, delicious roll of his hips. "Berk."
Sherlock peppered kisses along John's jaw, finally sucking the injured earlobe into his mouth. "Sentimental fool," he accused, whispering the words into John's ear like an endearment.
With a heave of his body John flipped them, settling himself between Sherlock's legs. He smiled down at Sherlock before placing a gentle kiss on his lips. "My love."
Sherlock hummed in happiness, chasing John's mouth, capturing his lips in a deeper, fierce kiss.
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