So, as promised, here is the first installment of Tuck Me In. I edited it a bit on my part, which as some of you will know, is Sherlock, so there might be a few minor changes to the story.
As always, the fabulous Calabash lends her hand to John Watson, and I try my very best to keep up as Sherlock. Thank you all so much for being patient with us. I know it's been a long time, but we're getting things back on track, and we should have all of our old stories, plus some new ones up before long!
Oh, and I suppose I ought to have disclaimers, eh? We don't own Sherlock, John, or any of the other characters. We don't have any control over the BBC production, though we'd very much like to. And, sadly enough, we own neither Benedict Cumberbatch nor Martin Freeman.
They'd been sleeping together for over three months now. It had been 97 days, and as strange as the arrangement would seem to the outside observer, for John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, it worked. It was an unintentional shift that had turned into a consensual understanding, and though it was completely and utterly devoid of sexual connotation, there was a striking comfort in knowing after a long day at the surgery, or toiling on a homicide investigation, waiting at the flat was a warm bed and a warm body within. 97 days... and John Watson could remember the first night as if it were yesterday.
Sherlock's mind was racing. He could not shut it off; he could not grasp the elusive concept of sleep, no matter how hard he had tried. This problem had plagued him for so long, yet he had never known how to fix it without the drugs. Now that he had gone clean he didn't know how to deal with his mind running on and yammering at him, with him, to him. He didn't know how to turn off all those little voices that spoke to him, that argued with each other. Every time he closed his eyes they would start up, all screaming at the same time, insisting on his attention. Sherlock rolled over, his eyes wide open. His bed was cold, it was always cold no matter how long he slept in it. He let out a loud groan and sat up. John. John was a doctor; he could do something for him. Sherlock snatched up his blue dressing gown and trudged up the stairs until he stood before John's bedroom door, his hand paused for a moment before he knocked three times.
John stirred in his blankets, groaning softly as he registered the rap on his door. Sherlock. "Damn it," he swore under his breath, propping himself up on his elbows and blinking blearily at the clock. It was after three. He sighed, tugging the blankets off of his body, scooting to the edge of the mattress. It had better not be a case... His bare feet slapped the wooden floor as he shuffled to the door, and pulled it open. "Sherlock?" John lifted his eyebrows. Sherlock stood before him, robe hanging off his shoulder, clad in a ratty t-shirt and pyjama pants. His dark hair was tousled, and his eyes bright. His cheekbones were splotched with crimson. John's physician's senses began sirening at once, and he opened the door wider for his friend. "Come in, what's wrong, are you feeling all right?" He watched him closely as Sherlock edged into his bedroom cautiously. John resisted the urge to reach out and touch Sherlock's forehead to check for a temperature.
Sherlock clenched his hand a few times; he could feel John trying not to hover over him, trying not to act like a mother hen. His nose twitched and he frowned a little before leaning up against John's bed and sticking his hands in the pockets of his dressing gown. 'I can't sleep,' Sherlock looked John in the eyes and gulped. 'I need you to give me something. You're a doctor of sorts. You can write me a note, get me some pills. I need to sleep.'
John blinked wide eyes, his brow furrowing as he lifted his eyebrows further. "You can't sleep?" he asked, stepping closer to examine that long, pale face. "How long now?"
Sherlock dragged his hands through his hair in frustration. 'How long? Months. I can't sleep, John, I need something.' He jiggled his leg and started pacing around the room, unable to stop moving. 'I don't know how to stop without my ... without it.' Sherlock's jaw twitched and he stopped for a moment to look at John once more. 'You've got to give me something.'
John stared. "Did you say months?" He scowled, and tossed his head at the bed. "Sit down." Sherlock obeyed, grudgingly, and John stood before him, leaning down to closely study those silver eyes, alight and reflecting the moonlight streaming in from John's bedroom window. Sherlock twitched beneath him as John's fingers lifted his eyelids. He straightened, crossing his arms over his chest. "Sherlock... Why didn't you come to me before?"
Sherlock sneered a little without meaning to, his lip curling in distain. Why hadn't he? Admitting that he, Sherlock Holmes, had a problem sleeping? 'Didn't think about it,' he lied, staring down at the thick carpet surrounding John's bed. The bed was a lot firmer than Sherlock's. He wasn't surprised, John must have gotten used to sleeping on hard surfaces in Afghanistan. Sherlock could never sleep on a mattress like this consistently without a very good reason to do so.
John sighed. He turned away from the tall figure, and began to pace, his mind running through his options. He had pills he could give Sherlock... had some in his bureau right now. They were tucked neatly in a small plastic zippered bag, left over from his sleepless nights alone in his vacant, horrid little flat he'd had... before Sherlock. His eyes darted to the drawer, and his hands flexed. Instinct screamed at him to walk over to that drawer, pull out two Thorazine, and give his friend what he needed to sleep the night away, to calm the manic process of that magnificent brain. But logic whispered otherwise. He frowned, rotating slowly to face Sherlock. "No."
Sherlock's eyes flicked from John to the drawer he'd been looking at. They were there. Top drawer. 'No...' he pursed his lips together and let out a little sigh. 'No.' His eye twitched, 'John...how am I supposed to be able to sleep?' He hadn't had more than a few hours of sleep a night long before he and John started living together. It was beginning to take its toll on the sleuth; he was getting more and more erratic, more antsy. He surged up and advanced on John, his hands frantically scratching his scalp. 'I. Can't. Sleep.' He tapped his foot exactly 10 times, staring down at John and swaying a little. Sherlock shook his head and began to mutter, walking past the doctor and standing, gazing at the wooden door, his hands twitching. Maybe a book, maybe the telly. Oh God, another night staring at the damn telly.
John wheeled about, following the slender detective, and he grabbed his elbow, forcing him to look down at him. "Sherlock, it's not good for you, I can't just... give you pills and make you sleep. You'll get addicted. That's what you do. It's who you are, and I won't be the one responsible for depriving you of natural sleep. Come on, you can sleep, you just need to stop thinking so damned much." He smiled encouragingly, his thumb brushing the satin dressing gown that hung from Sherlock's thin frame. "Have you tried just... clearing your mind?"
Sherlock let out a harsh laugh. 'Stop thinking? Oh, John, I envy you. Stop thinking. It must be so nice to be you; it must be so nice to turn it off, to not think.' Tried? Of course he had tried! Sherlock had tried every single trick in the Goddamn book, but nothing worked. Nothing. And he would continue to spend his nights staring at the ceiling, watching the telly, gazing at some trite novel, scraping away at his violin, not sleeping. 'It's not so easy.' he groaned, desperation filling his lungs.
John pressed his lips together. He didn't mind the insults, they came far too frequently to really mind anymore, but he did mind the frustration in Sherlock's face. Frustration meant irritation, and irritation meant trouble. His friend had come to him for help, and John was going to help. One way or another. Still gripping his elbow, John pulled Sherlock towards the door, ignoring the fact that he was still in his boxers and undershirt and bare feet. "Come on then. I'll fix you a spot of tea and milk, and you'll be right as rain."
Sherlock snorted. 'I doubt tea will be able to fix it.' he intoned dully, half tempted to dig his heels in and demand do be released. But he didn't, in fact Sherlock rather liked the warmth that radiated from John's small, strong hand. It was strangely comforting, the firm grip on Sherlock's arm, as though the short doctor would somehow come up with a miracle allowing the exhausted detective to sleep, as though everything would be quite all right. John was such an enigma, Sherlock felt at ease when he was around. John was, for lack of a better term, safe. Sherlock never liked safe before he met John. Sherlock had never known safe before he had met John.
"Tea fixes everything," John muttered, smiling back at him in the darkness of the stairwell. He descended, dragging his flat mate behind him, but instead of heading for the sitting room and their respective comfy chairs, John steered Sherlock to his bedroom, and pushed open the door. He glanced about, eyes adjusting to the deeper darkness. The room was immaculately clean... one of Sherlock's better days then... but his bed was rumpled and looked thoroughly tossed. He shook his head, releasing the man's elbow. John approached the bed, quirking his mouth. "Sherlock, when was the last time you changed your sheets?" They had various chemical stains, and smelled musty.
Sherlock frowned. Come to think of it, it had been a very long time since he'd bothered. 'I don't use it often, what's the point? I could be spending my valuable time on solving a crime, or something useful like tobacco ash.' he quipped, a slight ring of resentment as he glared at the mattress, as though it were at fault for his not being able to sleep.
John sighed deeply. "Where do you keep your linens?"
Sherlock pointed a long arm at the closet to the right of John. He was still a little bemused as to why they both were in the room, what was John thinking? Sherlock wasn't used to other people in his room, especially not like this.
John strode over to the closet, and pulled it open. "SHIT!" He ducked backwards, covering his nose. It was full from floor to ceiling with equipment and several flasks containing a foul looking substance. Shoved in one corner, Sherlock's sheets were wadded and wrinkled. John cursed again, shutting the door to the linen closet swiftly. "Bloody hell, Sherlock... how can you possibly keep something like that with linens?"
Resisting an urge to smile at John's comical reaction, Sherlock walked up and stood behind the smaller man, surveying the contents of his closet with a thoughtful expression on his tired face. 'It's an experiment. I didn't have any other spot to put it,' he said pointedly. Sherlock knew very well that John would have gone ballistic if he'd found it in the kitchen where Sherlock had first thought to put it.
"An experiment." John latched the closet door and shook his head, scratching at the back of his neck. He was so damned tired. "Just... just wait here." John turned and jogged upstairs once more, muttering under his breath, and he returned in a few moments with arms full of clean, crisp, fragrant sheets. "Here," he said, shoving them at his friend. "Strip the bed and put these on while I start the kettle." He didn't wait for a reply, but stalked from the room, complaining softly about experiments in linen closets.
Sherlock held the sheets in his arms for a long moment, glancing to make sure John had really gone before lifting them up to his nose and breathing in the comforting smell that was John Watson. He hugged them tightly to his chest briefly before setting them carefully down on the night stand by his bed. Sherlock then proceeded to unceremoniously ripped the old, dirty fabric from his bed and throw it forcefully at the opposite wall. Then, with a great deal of fussing, he slowly made up the bed. Sherlock stooped for a bit, just resting his hands on the white flannel. Something about it made him feel warm. It was nothing like his sheets, these sheets felt loved, and of course that was not strange, for they were John's. Sherlock smiled softly and shook his head, feeling oddly fond of his short companion.
John waited in the kitchen for the kettle to boil. He'd searched the cabinets until he found the last of the chamomile tea, and as he poured Sherlock a cup, he felt a rush of affection for the man. He could hear Sherlock in his room, rustling the fresh sheets, and John's mouth turned up a bit. He was such a child sometimes. As an afterthought, as he placed the cup on a saucer, John grabbed a biscuit from the tin on the counter, and he walked carefully to Sherlock's room. He stepped through the doorway, and halted. Sherlock was waiting for him, standing at the foot of his poorly made bed, looking hopeful and proud of himself. John cleared his throat. He was obviously waiting for praise from his good doctor. "That's... that's good, Sherlock, very nice indeed." John smiled at him, receiving a small, relieved smile in return. He placed the saucer on the night stand and gestured. "Come on, off with the robe and I'll tuck you in."
Sherlock's heart leapt and he couldn't help but grin happily as he saw the smile on John's face. But then he frowned. 'Tuck me in...' he repeated dubiously. Sherlock had never once been "tucked in", not that he could remember at least, and he could remember every second of his life. He walked to the bed, let his dressing gown fall to the floor, and got in anyway, trusting that John knew what he was doing. After all, how hard could tucking someone in be? The sheets felt so warm as they closed around him, surrounding him with the smell of John Watson. Sherlock scooted over a little, lying over to one side as the doctor stood patiently by the bed. Sherlock looked up and blinked, wondering what was going to happen next.
"Here." John handed him the saucer, snickering internally at the wide eyed curiosity in Sherlock's face. Sometimes, it was as if he was experiencing life for the first time. John had been privy to several momentous occasions in Sherlock's life... his first ice cream... his first experience with crap telly... his first food fight, which had not been well received by Mrs Hudson... Now, John inclined his head as Sherlock took the saucer from him, long fingers wrapping around the tea cup, and he wondered... "Yes, tuck you in," he reiterated, grinning widely at Sherlock's uplifted brow. "You know... didn't your mother ever tuck you in, read you a story?"
Sherlock was silent for a very long time, just staring at John with curiosity. Was that what mothers did? Read their children stories? Tuck them in? 'I was capable of reading; she had no need of it.' Sherlock's mother had never been overly loving, it had always been Mycroft who tried to fill in for her, a fact that annoyed Sherlock to no end. He frowned.
John shook his head, a sad smile still plastered on his face, and he exhaled slowly. "That's.. a bloody tragedy, that is." He stood with his arms folded, watching Sherlock sip his tea and nibble at his biscuit, those light eyes thoughtful. John shrugged. "Well, then, I guess I'll be off. You've got fresh linens, and a cuppa tea. Just... lie down, Sherlock, and if you HAVE to think, try to think of something quiet. Like a beach. A nice, quiet beach with no corpses. Close your eyes and I'll see you in the morning." He turned to leave.
Sherlock bit his lip, his heart already beginning to pound, his head already starting to speak up. 'John,' he called out softly, flushing a little as John turned around with a questioning look on his over-tired face. 'Would you, ahem, sit in here for a little while? I think I...' he gulped, steeling himself for the embarrassing statement he was about to make, 'could fall asleep better if you talked.' Sherlock stared intently at his own long fingers, as if they were the most interesting things in the universe.
Did he just ask me to stay? John gazed down at Sherlock in the bed, took in the flush in his cheeks, the downcast eyes, the twitch of those fingers on the cup. He felt his throat tighten. He wants me to tuck him in, John realized. It took him less than two seconds to back into the bedroom once more, and stand with his knees pressed against Sherlock's mattress. He tilted his head at Sherlock questioningly, indicating with his hand for him to scoot over.
Sherlock repressed a smile as he wriggled a little farther to the other side. He took a sip of his tea and sat in his bed, for the first time in this room, feeling warm and at home.
John was, for the first time, painfully aware of his own state of undress. His cheeks were rosy as he climbed onto the bed, purposefully reclining on top of Sherlock's blankets, and he propped himself up against a pillow. "All right," he said with a chuckle, shoulder rubbing against his companion's, "Would you like a bed time story, Sherlock?"
Sherlock nodded, unable to speak for fear of saying something completely ridiculous and laughable. A strange feeling was settling in his chest, an odd tightness. He had felt it before but had always ignored it, thinking it was due to a case or was because of something he'd eaten. Now he wasn't so sure. Sherlock kept drinking his tea, waiting for John to start. 'Wouldn't...' he began but then stopped and decided against finishing the sentence. John knew what he was doing.
John had opened his mouth, but now he shut it again, and turned his head to look at Sherlock. "Wouldn't what?"
Sherlock shifted a little, still not looking at John. For some reason he was keenly aware of the fact that John was only in a t-shirt and his boxers. 'Wouldn't you be more comfortable under the covers?' He asked, wishing that he had just kept his mouth shut to begin with.
John felt the heat rise in his face and neck. He shifted. Perhaps Sherlock was uncomfortable seeing him like this. He was, after all, a very private man. John, on the other hand, was not very comfortable sliding beneath a mountain of blankets and sheets to snuggle in half naked with his best friend. He blinked, still gazing at Sherlock's profile, a few inches away. "Yeah, I guess so," he mumbled, and with a resigned sigh, he manuevered beneath. The sheets felt wonderfully soft and warm against his skin; the flat was chilled, and John was fiercely glad he'd brought down the flannel linens. He nestled down for a few seconds, then looked up at Sherlock once more. His heart jumped in his chest. Those silver eyes were staring directly into his, far, far too close.
Sherlock's heart pounded in his ears. He could feel the heat wafting from John's compact body and was grateful for it. Sherlock leaned down and set the teacup down on the floor next to his side of the bed. Without a word he settled down under the covers, looking at the John, waiting for him to begin.
John gazed down at the younger man, his chest tight. He looked so... perfectly innocent, so lovely and childish. John wanted nothing more at the moment than to watch those great, glassy eyes fall shut to the sound of his voice. He reached over in the half darkness, and pulled the sheets further up that sinewy body, tucking them gingerly beneath Sherlock's chin. "I don't know any good stories, Sherlock... but I suppose I can tell you some stories from Afghanistan. Had some good times there."
'That would be...nice.' Sherlock was already feeling more relaxed than he had in months. John had this effect on the consulting detective, it was a strange feeling, but Sherlock was glad for it. 'I would very much like to hear about Afghanistan. I've never been there before.'
"No?" John smiled gently, and his hand lingered by Sherlock's face. He held his breath, and did something he'd always wanted to do: he let his fingers wander into that thick mass of dark, curly hair, threading through them, coming to rest on the crown of his head. John was deeply surprised at the pleasure that coursed through him at the feel of their softness, and he let his eyes slide shut. Sherlock did not push his hand away, and so he continued to speak, ignoring the slight tremor in his voice. "It's... well its hot. And dry. But there's a rugged beauty to it, a kind of raw, chiselled look to the land." He could not help but hear the comparison in his description... he could have been describing Sherlock. "It's misunderstood, I think. A lot of the fellows hated it there, but I didn't. Seemed to me that it was just a gorgeous piece of forgotten land. Torn up by people, scarred and cut up a bit... but beautiful."
Sherlock smiled drowsily, leaning into John's comforting hand that was absentmindedly stroking his hair. 'Sounds'…like you, was what Sherlock wanted to say, 'like a nice place.' his eyelids kept fluttering, sleep was starting to settle in as John's voice continued to wash over him. More than half asleep, Sherlock moved slightly so he was closer to John. Turning on his side, he placed a hand on John's firm chest. He let out a contented sigh, surrendering completely to sleep. Sherlock was safe.
John continued to talk, whispering to the darkness, for several moments. He did not stir or move a muscle as Sherlock's slender hand came to rest on his chest, and he barely breathed as that soft head nestled into his pillow, forehead pressed snugly against John's hip. Sherlock's breathing became heavy and regular, and at last, John found the courage to glance down at him. Sherlock was asleep. His aquiline face was peaceful, and calm, and a tiny smile played in the corners of his mouth. He began to snore ever so softly, and John swallowed hard. He wondered briefly if he could squirm out from Sherlock's hand to slip back upstairs and finish out his night's rest... but one look at that restful face killed the idea. No, he would not do anything, anything at all, to disturb this sleeping man tonight. John sighed, and leaned back, closing his eyes, and letting sleep overtake him.
Sherlock felt so warm, so very peaceful. He had never been this relaxed before. Slowly he opened his eyes and his heart skipped a few beats as he realised his head was resting on John's shoulder, Sherlock could feel the doctor's chest rising and falling rhythmically under his hand, John's arm wrapped around Sherlock's shoulder. This was...this was nothing like Sherlock had ever experienced in his life. He had never woken up next to someone before, especially not like this. He lay there for a very long time, wondering if he should get up or continue to stay here, curled up in John's warmth. The decision was soon settled for him as his eyes closed and sleep over took him yet again. It was 9:42 in the morning. Sherlock had slept all night for the first time in a very long time.
The first thing that John registered was sunlight. It hit his eyes squarely, and he flinched against it, against the warm red glow behind his eyelids. His body felt... strange. Hot. Flat. He shifted, wondering distantly if he'd gone to the pub the night before, if he had gotten knackered, if he was waking up in a strange flat with a strange woman pressed against him... He hadn't done that in years. But as he moved his bones, his nostrils picked up a lovely, familiar, comforting scent. It was masculine, and clean, and... John sat up as straight as he could, grunting. Shit. He couldn't move. Sherlock was sprawled over him, long legs tangled with John's, head heavy on his shoulder, and bloody hell, John's arm was wrapped tightly around him, pulling him close. John flushed scarlet. He chewed on his lip, glancing about, trying to figure out a way to slide out without waking him... and his eyes fell on the clock. "BOLLOCKS!"
Sherlock's eyes snapped open and he bolted up, expecting...well, expecting something, anything, but all he saw was John leaping out of bed, swearing loudly and running for the door impatiently. Sherlock looked at the clock and lifted an eyebrow in understanding. It was almost noon and John was about, oh, four hours late for work. Sherlock bit back a laugh. He felt so well rested, it was brilliant.
John blasted up the stairs with the devil on his heels, cursing the whole way. Damn Sherlock! Damn him and his tea and his stories and his insomnia and his bloody damned gorgeous eyes and his hands and his pouting lower lip! He was out the front door of their flat in seven minutes, barrelling down the street, shouting for a cab.
They did not mention the incident at dinner, and they did not mention it during their evening telly. John sat and pretended to blog for an hour, and Sherlock tinkered with an experiment in the kitchen... thankfully a far less foul one than the one John found in his linen closet... and after a quick visit from Mrs. Hudson, John began to inch towards the stairs. He was sore, and stiff from sitting up all night. He eyed Sherlock, evidently still engrossed in his work. John turned silently, taking a single step towards his bedroom.
Sherlock was debating with himself whether or not to ask John to sleep with him again. He had enjoyed it immensely; in fact it had been one of the single most enjoyable experiences of his life. The moment he heard John move to the stairs Sherlock made up his mind. Ice blue eyes darted to his fingers watching them without really seeing them as they twitched on the wooden table top. Sherlock glanced at John's back. 'John,' he said quietly, noting the way John stiffened defensively. 'Would you...' Sherlock cleared his throat, his cheeks flushed a little, 'tuck me in?'
John froze the moment Sherlock called his name, but when the next few words fell from his lips, he felt all of the air rush from his body at once. Those words, coming from that mouth, were inequitable. He rotated slowly on his socked heel, and stared back at the man hunched over their dining table, gazing intently at a glass vial. John opened and closed his mouth several times, like a fish. At last, he walked back to the kitchen, standing across from Sherlock and leaning in. "I'm sorry... what?"
Sherlock twiddled with the half-full vial of a 17% boric acid solution. 'I, well, it was better than pills, easier...and I was wondering,' he cleared his throat again, though this time it had more of a nervous, self-conscious ring to it. 'If you would tuck me in again.' he mumbled the last bit and could feel his neck, face, and ears beginning to heat up. He was being childish, he knew it. This was the time when he should have just told John it was nothing, he should have told John to bugger off upstairs, but he didn't.
Oh now this was too good. John stepped back, lifting his chin and musing silently. He could really take the piss out of Sherlock for this one. This was brilliant, this was priceless, this was... Sherlock's eyes flitted up to his, and John's heart skipped. This was Sherlock, asking for help again. Trust. There was no greater trust than the one his dear friend had just bestowed upon him. To fall asleep next to someone implied a level of intimacy and faith that John had rarely experienced, and certainly he had never experienced it with another man... someone whom he loved. John's glee dissipated, and he felt himself drawn into that clear gaze. He dropped his head. "All right," he agreed quietly, and did not look up to see Sherlock's face. He shifted on the linoleum. "I'm... I'm going to run upstairs, get my pillow." He couldn't spend another night sitting up in Sherlock's bed.
Sherlock couldn't help but shake his fists with excitement after John had disappeared upstairs. He held back the whoop of joy and settled for getting up from the stool and walking happily to his room. It was a good feeling, knowing he would have some extra heat in his bed. It was a good feeling knowing John would be by him, knowing he would not be alone. Sherlock did not like being alone. Quickly he undressed and put his pyjamas on before making his way to the loo and brushing his teeth vigorously for a few minutes. He then splashed water over his face, dried it, and walked back to his bed. John would be with him tonight. Sherlock smiled.
When John made his appearance in Sherlock's bedroom door, this time quite carefully ensconced in long pants and a t-shirt, he stood for a moment, startled. Sherlock was already in bed, clean, brushed, pyjamaed, and sitting with his long legs drawn up to his chest beneath the blankets, eyes bright and trained on his army doctor. John chuckled. "Tired then, are you?" he asked, and shuffled inside, crawling up the mattress. He slipped beneath the blankets, sighing in relief at the warmth already present from Sherlock's lean body, and he fluffed his pillow behind his neck. John hesitated a minute, then reclined back fully, his sandy blonde head coming to rest in his pillow, body horizontal next to Sherlock as the detective settled back as well.
'Not yet,' Sherlock replied happily as John made a dent in Sherlock's bed. 'But I'm sure it'll come soon enough.' He turned on his side, cradling his head in the crook of his elbow, and stared at the doctor, waiting for him to continue on where he had left off the night before. 'Afghanistan...you were telling me about the time you found a flower patch and nearly got whacked to death by an old lady for disgracing a scared spot.' Sherlock prompted, wiggling down in the mattress.
John laughed out loud, throwing his head back and wondering how in the bloody hell he had ended up in Sherlock's bed again, giggling, relishing the smell of Sherlock's shampoo. He cleared his throat, throwing a glance at him out of the corner of his eye. "Yes, well. It's not the first sacrilege I've committed and I'm sure it won't be the last." His hands twitched beneath the blankets. He could feel the heat of Sherlock's chest and thighs, and he was hyper aware of the proximity of Sherlock's lean calves to his toes.
Sherlock laughed, 'what's the fun in life if you aren't stepping on someone's toes?' He resisted moving in closer to John. Sherlock felt a little confused as to why he wanted to touch John, to be right next to him, to put his arms around that body, to feel John embrace him. It was not something Sherlock was used to. His lips twitched and he pulled the piles of blankets around his shoulders, then carefully stretched his arm out and did the same for John, making sure the covers went up to his neck. Without looking at John's face he retracted his hand and hid it under the blankets, slightly embarrassed.
The doctor lay very still as Sherlock "tucked him in." He breathed steadily, deeply, and turned his head at last to gaze at the sculpted face, mere inches from his own. He blinked twice. Sherlock was not looking at him, but down, at the blankets. John pulled his hand out from beneath the sheets, and slowly, very slowly, reached up to run once more through those glossy curls. He felt Sherlock stiffen, then relax under his hand. "Did I ever tell you about the time I nearly got attacked by a desert long-eared bat?" he whispered, willing those eyes to meet his own.
Sherlock shook his head and glanced surreptitiously at John, he almost stopped breathing as he met John's eyes. The doctor was staring at him intently, a look Sherlock had never seen before in his beautiful blue eyes. His low voice sent shivers down Sherlock's spine. 'No.' he exhaled, unable to stop staring at John's face. Beautiful eyes? Sherlock supposed they were.
"Close your eyes, Sherlock." It was a firm, but gentle instruction, and John said it for two reasons. First of all, the whole point of this absurd suggestion was to lull Sherlock to sleep. Second... John could not look into those eyes for one second more. The moment they were turned on him, he felt his insides turn to ice, and he had to avert his gaze. Sherlock obeyed him, however, and John turned his attention back to that unlined, beautiful face. "Well... it all started because we found this rocky crevice, and some of us decided to give it a climb..." His voice was quiet and even in the dark, and John Watson talked far into the night, until he grew drowsy, until Sherlock fell asleep next to him, until he curled his body close once more. Then one muscular arm reached around, sliding beneath bony shoulders, and that dark head came up to rest upon his chest again, and John fell asleep with his nose buried deep in his flat mate's fragrant curls.
Weeks turned into months and soon Sherlock didn't have to ask, John automatically got ready for bed and slid in next to him every night. Sherlock actually began to look forward to the night. It was such a relief to know that he would not be alone, that he would be able to fall asleep listening to the peaceful rumble of John's voice. It had been 97 days since Sherlock had asked for John's help, and it had been 59 days since Sherlock began to feel as though something was missing, and only 23 days since Sherlock had figured out what that was. 23 days since Sherlock realised he was in love with John Watson. And he had no idea how to express it.
John, for his part, had stopped resisting the lull to Sherlock's bed after the third night. He wrestled with his confusion for the first 48 hours, unsure why it was so very easy to climb into that bed every evening, why it felt so incredibly satisfying to wake at three in the morning to use the loo and have to untangle himself from Sherlock's long, possessive limbs, why he was so perfectly comfortable staggering out of bed in the mornings, giving his companion a shake to rouse him, rubbing his eyes, yawning, all set to the chorus of Sherlock's whispery snores. After 48 hours, John simply shrugged and chalked it up to the extreme intimacy of their friendship. It was not threatening... it was simply... Sherlock. And John was swiftly learning that where Sherlock was concerned, all the experience in the world could not prepare him for the constantly shifting dynamics of his new life with this man. And so John slept in Sherlock's bed every night, willingly, contentedly... and if he occasionally woke with Sherlock's thigh pressed between his legs, and a spindly hand slipped beneath his t-shirt, grazing his stomach, and if he was hard and panting slightly from a faceless, nameless erotic dream... well. John Watson was only human after all.
Sherlock had been going crazy these past few weeks, he tried to keep it from John, but he wasn't sure how to deal with these emotions that had surfaced. He hadn't realised how deeply he was in love with that straight as an arrow man until they had started sleeping together. Sherlock felt like grabbing John and smothering him with kisses every single time he opened his mouth, every time they were alone Sherlock had to stop himself from putting his arms around John's waist, from resting his face on John's head and just breathing in the scent from his shampoo. Every time he woke up in the middle of the night from an incredibly vivid dream that involved him doing unspeakable things to John's person, he had to sit for awake for a little while and just regulate his erratic heartbeat. Once in a while he would lean down and press a soft kiss on John's cheek; lately he had been so bold as to even brush a finger across those beautiful lips.
Sherlock had been trying to formulate a plan that would allow him to "confess" yet still maintain his friendship with John if the revelation of his feelings went awry, as Sherlock had no doubt they would. He was in one such contemplation on a Friday night, lying curled up on the sofa with his back to the world, while John was in the kitchen rummaging about. John, too, had been acting a little off the past few weeks. Sherlock could not, for the life of him, figure out why. Some days he feared that John had guessed his feelings already, after all John always was better when it came to matters of the heart, and was upset with him. But then John would completely disprove that thought and Sherlock would sink down into relief and a sort of dark, unreasonable annoyance.
"Where is it... where, where... ah." John straightened from his questing through the icebox, and he plunked a frozen dinner on the countertop with satisfaction. "Sherlock," he called, rubbing his hands on his thighs to warm them. He sauntered into the sitting room, placing his hands on the back of his armchair. "I set your dinner out; just warm it up, all right? I won't be back till late… don't wait up." His chest fluttered a bit as Sherlock's eyes flicked up to his in a panic, and John smiled kindly. "You'll be fine. Just... go to sleep. If I come home tonight, I'll come to bed."
Sherlock watched John suit up and leave their flat in silence, not even bothering to answer his flamate when he spoke to him, wishing him a good night. Instead he pushed down the turmoil deep inside his heart and sat up, roaming around their flat until sometime later when he found himself in John's room. Sherlock did not often come in here, not unless he needed something and John was not around. He looked about the room and smiled at the somewhat Spartan furnishings, it spoke volumes as to what kind of character John had. Sherlock just stood there, closing his eyes and opening up a door in his mind palace, filing away every detail of John's room. The dark wooden bureau, the comfortable green and brown rug around the firm mattress and wooden bedstead, the closet to one end of the room ... everything was so John. How was Sherlock ever going to tell him how much he needed that damn army doctor?! He did not know. Sherlock had briefly entertained the idea of pushing John down on the bed and just ripping his clothes off. It had been a distracting thought at the time, but not a practical plan.
The sleuth stood there for a little while longer before snatching up another pillow from the bed - one that smelled more like John than the pillow he kept in Sherlock's room, and clattered down the stairs. As usual on the nights John was not around, he did not feel like dinner, it wasn't an appetizing thought. Instead he went straight to his room and snuggled down in the sheets that belonged to John and held up the commandeered pillow to his face, inhaling deeply. It wasn't as good as having John there, but it would suffice.
It was 2 AM. John glanced at his mobile as the cab pulled up to 221, and he sighed. No texts from Sherlock. It was unusual; his best friend tended to text him incessantly when he had a date. He'd often wondered if Sherlock did it on purpose, to get under his skin. But not tonight. Tonight, Sherlock had been gravely silent, not even bidding him farewell when he left the flat. John paid the cabby, and trudged up the stairs, taking care to avoid the creaky step that always woke Mrs. Hudson. He turned the key in the lock, and let himself in, taking a deep breath as the familiar scent of his home, his flat, his Sherlock, filled his lungs. Home. John sighed deeply, leaning back against the door and closing his eyes. What the bloody hell was he doing here? His forehead crinkled, and he slid down slowly, resting it on his knees. He shouldn't be here. He'd had a date tonight, a bloody gorgeous one. She had to have been at least ten years his junior, and was, in his honest and humble opinion, far out of his league. She was tall, and slender, with an ample chest and a full head of copper hair. Her eyes were bright green, her skin flawless, her legs long, and... she'd invited him up to her flat. For drinks. John had been around long enough to know that flush in her cheeks and the demure treble in her voice. He could have gotten laid. He could have shagged her. She wanted him, for inexplicable reasons. But, fuck. Instead of following that short skirt up the stairs to her bed, John had found his lips forming words that he could not explain. No thanks... its late… best be off... Next time, perhaps... John thunked his head once, hard, against the door. Next time. The look she'd given him as he retreated back to the cab said quite plainly, there would be no next time. He rubbed his knuckles into his eyes and pushed himself up, swaying. He was tired. And Sherlock was waiting. John dropped his jacket on the sofa, toed off his shoes, and staggered towards Sherlock's bedroom, peeling clothes off the whole way. Fuck pyjamas. He was exhausted.
Sherlock was having the strangest dream; John was there, almost completely naked this time, only his boxers on, which was quite a change from the normally fully clothed John in the beginnings Sherlock's usual dreams. John was sliding into bed next to him and putting his arms around Sherlock, telling him to kiss him, telling him how the woman whose smell he reeked of couldn't hold a candle to Sherlock, how Sherlock was the only one for him. Sherlock smiled in his sleep and, not knowing that the real John had just climbed half naked into his bed, put his arms around that real John's chest and nuzzled his neck, sighing softly, full lips nearly brushing the warm skin. But that was where he could tell something was terribly wrong. That was where he opened his eyes in confusion and saw the real John only a few centimetres away from him. That was when he saw the look of shock and possibly horror, he couldn't quite tell, after all, it was very late at night and Sherlock was still a little dazed by this sudden shift from dream to reality, on John's face. And the only thought that was present at that moment inside Sherlock Holmes' head was a rather bemused well, fuck...
Sherlock's body was so very warm beneath the sheets. John grumbled in the back of his throat as he slid into bed, naked but for his boxers, half-drunk with sleep. He poked at his friend, urging him to scoot over, give John a bit of space, and that seemed to work. Sherlock rolled, groaning softly, and John huffed as he pulled the blankets over his body. He settled back, sighing in appreciation for the heat and comfort of clean linens, and a warm body next to him, and the thought flashed through him mind that this... this was really quite nice. To have someone to sleep with, someone you didn't have to fix up for, someone that you knew would still be there the next night, and the night after, and the night after. He wondered why more blokes didn't think of this. It was rather perfect.
John's head sank in his pillow, and he glanced over at Sherlock with a contented smile. The smile broadened as he registered the fact that Sherlock, his arrogant, brilliant, sociopathic companion... was cuddling John's spare pillow. His pillow. From his bedroom. John giggled quietly, reaching out to brush his rough fingertips over one jutting cheekbone. Damned idiot. He must have snuck upstairs to nick it. John shook his head, fondness radiating from his eyes. Damned idiot. He turned away then, yawning, and closed his eyes, stretching one arm over his head. He was almost asleep, in that place half way between slumber and wakefulness, when Sherlock whined in his sleep, shifting, and John felt the weight of a sinewy arm slither across his chest. He frowned, grunting, and moved his head to look down at him. Sherlock was curling closer, and John gasped as that long nose nudged into the space beneath his ear. It was cold, and Sherlock's hands were warm as they played up the muscles of his abdomen, and John felt his throat go dry. "Sherlock..." Grey eyes flew open. John held very, very still as Sherlock lifted his chin to gaze into his eyes, his mouth open, round, trembling.
Sherlock felt like a deer in the headlights. 'John...' Reality was quickly flying back to slam into Sherlock's face. He had just practically kissed the real John fucking Watson's neck without realising it. 'The real John,' Sherlock groaned and pushed himself away from John, pulling his legs up to his neck and burrowing his face into the bony flesh, his cheeks were pink. 'Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckfuckfuckfuck. The real fucking John. Idiot. Idiot, idiot, idiot,' Sherlock muttered to himself, unaware that he was doing it verbally and not just in his head, 'not how it was supposed...maybe he's too drunk to...fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.' Sherlock groaned again, hoping John would just be out of it, that he would not make a fuss, that he would...forget.
John blinked rapidly as he watched Sherlock shrivel up and curse, repeatedly, muttering under his breath. John had to strain to make anything out. "Sherlock?" He was wide awake now, and he squirmed, managing to prop himself up against the pillows on his elbows. "Sherlock, are you okay?" John frowned when he didn't answer, and then... "Oh." John flushed, heat rising from his neck to his extremities, and he glanced away, embarrassed for his friend, for his unemotional, purely logical, evidently sexually frustrated friend. John cleared his throat, eyes wide and looking around the room, at the closet, the window, the floor, anything but Sherlock. "Ah," he started, his mind frantically trying to supply him with a clever remark, something that would alleviate Sherlock's humiliation. "Ah, Sherlock... um.." John cleared his throat again, and smiled as best he could in the darkness, reaching out to pat his mate on the shoulder. "Look, it's all right, it happens to all of us. Don't... I mean... I'm not upset, okay? It's fine. It's fine." He chewed on his lip as Sherlock continued to stare down into his knees. John glanced at the door. "Um... if you like I can... you know..." He gestured with his thumb. "Pop upstairs, let you..." He coughed, not wanting to use the word 'wank' in the same context with Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock flinched when he felt John touch his shoulder, he couldn't help it. The pure humiliation of the situation had put his nerves on edge. '...it happens to all of us...' he repeated woodenly. '...pop upstairs...' he started laughing a desperate laugh, 'that's not going to change anything. Now you know, it's not how I wanted to tell you, it's not how I had it figured out, well, I hadn't figured it quite out, just...I didn't think it'd happen like this and I -' Sherlock had lifted his head through the outburst and stopped when he saw John's face, John's confused, curious face. '...ohhh, you didn't...DAMN IT ALL.' Sherlock felt traumatized, he was never going to speak again. John hadn't even thought that Sherlock had meant that display of emotion for him and now Sherlock had all but spelled it out for him. No wonder why he hadn't been more aggravated at the embrace! No wonder there hadn't been a more violent reaction! He hadn't KNOWN. All of the blood drained from his cheeks and he felt a dull throbbing in his gut. Now John would really... Sherlock was sure that John would not be able to accept him, especially when he had offers from women who were much more attractive than plain Sherlock Holmes whose only attribute was also his worse feature; his brain. Sherlock closed his mouth and suddenly pulled the blankets over his head and curled up into a ball, hugging his knees to his chest, cursing silently.
John sat for several moments, staring at the lump of Sherlock's body beneath the sheets. His face was blank as he tried to slowly, methodically, process the last few minutes. He wished for the thousandth time that he had just a sliver of the brilliance of that amazing mind that lay within the walls of Sherlock's skull, because Sherlock knew everything, could read everyone, and right at that second, John could not read a damned thing. He sat perfectly still, fascinated by the gentle rhythm of Sherlock's breath beneath the blankets. Sherlock. John's eyebrows knit. The real John... that's what he'd said. Figured it out... figured what out? Tell him what? John sighed, too groggy to make sense of Sherlock's inane ramblings. The only thing he knew for sure was that Sherlock was upset, and John needed to comfort him. It was what he did. "Sherlock?" He placed a warm hand on that curved back, felt the bony spine beneath the blanket. It was alien, and his fingers tingled. "Sherlock, are you all right? You can talk to me. I'm your friend."
'Just go away, John,' Sherlock moaned dramatically, trying to shrug John's hand off while still keeping the circumference of his curled form covered by the thick blanket. 'I know you won't want to continue our arrangement now you know my feelings for you.' He lay there for a bit, waiting for John to move, but when he didn't Sherlock frowned. What on earth? He popped his head up over the covers suspiciously. What was John waiting for? Why the hell was he still trying to comfort him? Why was he being so damn reasonable?
Oh. Oh. Bugger. John was staring at the wall, his mouth slightly parted, his eyes unseeing. His feelings. Sherlock's... feelings. John's breath came fast and shallow, and he swallowed, hard. Sherlock had feelings for him. Sherlock... oh bloody hell. The dream. It was for John. He'd been dreaming about John, and... the real John, oh fuck, he'd said the real John, he'd woken up and realized he was touching the real John, not the imaginary John he'd been touching in his dreams, shit, oh fuck, oh bloody fuck, Sherlock was dreaming about fucking John. Sherlock Holmes had feelings for John Watson.
John was hyperventilating. He forced himself to calm, to breathe through his nose, to blink his eyes, to stop digging his nails into the mattress. He managed a look at his flat mate, and felt a stab of guilt. Sherlock was gaping up at him, his lean face etched with agony. John pressed his lips together, trembling from head to toe, and for a moment, he allowed himself to mourn; he mourned the loss of the simplicity of their friendship, he mourned the last three months of sweet, pure, unadulterated slumber, he mourned Sherlock's innocence. And then, as Sherlock curled in on himself once more, John squeezed his eyes shut, and he knew what he had to do. "Sherlock. Look at me."