A/N: I know I haven't been replying to reviews lately. I've just been busy. A combination of real life and too many writing commitments. But I look for reviews every day and I'm absurdly pleased when I get them. So thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, followed and favourited this story. You really do make me want to write more.
"I want to hear it, John. Don't you think you've made me wait long enough?" He said softly.
"Yeah, you're right. I love you Sherlock. I love you very very much. And I'm sorry you had to fake your own death before I saw it..."
Sherlock looked at me for a long minute, as if he was trying to make sure that I had meant what I'd just said. Then he took my hand in his and gently ran his thumb up and down the back of my hand. "I love you, John." He said finally. "But you have to know that I have no idea how to do any of this. How to be in a relationship, how to treat a partner..."
"Neither do I, Sherlock. I may have dated more than you, but all I have to show for it are a bunch of failed relationships. So I don't know how to do this either. But we'll figure it out together, yeah?"
He nodded. Angelo came by with the offer of more wine. But really, I think he just wanted to check on us. We declined the offer of the wine. Neither of us wanted to be drunk that night. And Angelo didn't push. He looked at the two of us a couple of times and nodded, apparently satisfied by what he saw.
"Can I ask you something?" I said, after a while. "You've been a bit different since you came back." I was thinking about the fact that he'd been making tea and fixing breakfast for me every morning and that he'd confined his midnight violin playing to his bedroom (not that I had actually been sleeping, but still.) Also, he'd been paying attention to my complaints about his experiments. There were still eyes in the microwave and body parts in the fridge, but he was trying to keep his experiments from taking over the entire kitchen. He continued to insult my intelligence on a regular basis, but there was a fondness in the way he did it now. "You've changed in some ways." I said. "Why?"
He shifted in his chair, looking a bit uncomfortable. "I did a lot of thinking when I was away, John and I realised that I often take you for granted. I assume that no matter how nasty I've been to you, you'll forgive me. And you do. So most of the time, I don't even apologise. I assume that you'll do all the shopping and the cooking and the cleaning. And you do. You worry about me. You try to make me eat and sleep and I get angry with you and tell you to stop being a mother hen."
"I think I realised just how much you put up with. It's unfair to you. I've never cared before because I was so sure that that one day you would propose to one of your girlfriends and then you'd get married and you'd leave. Maybe I was even a bit resentful about that." He said.
"I was surprised when you continued to stay with me. I never understood why you did...But now I know. So I'm trying to be better, just so you won't wake up one morning and decide that you can't put up with me anymore. So you see even when I do little things for you and show a bit of consideration, I'm working from a selfish motive. I really want you to stay with me. I've had a whole year of living without you. It was horrible. Somehow, I survived it. But I don't think I have it in me to do it again."
I was stunned by this little confession. Typical Sherlock, I thought and I couldn't help but smile.He has to claim a selfish motive to justify being nice to me. It wouldn't do for Mr Sociopath to admit that he just likes doing a few small things for me.
We were silent for while after that. It was a bit overwhelming to think about what was happening here. Our relationship had just changed. There was no going back to being friends from here. Not that I wanted to, but I couldn't help but worry a little bit. What if we couldn't figure out how to be a couple? What if we messed it up? I couldn't imagine how horrible that would be. He was right. There was no way either of us could manage to live without the other again. So easy or not, we had to find a way to make it work. Sherlock seemed to be engaged in similar thoughts. I was looking out of the window when he spoke again.
"I'm still not going to do the shopping, though." He said and I had to laugh.
"I don't expect you to. I remember what happened the one time that I made you do it. You forgot the milk, the bread, the eggs and the vegetables. In fact the only things you got home were frozen peas, five different kinds of shaving cream, six cans of beans and a gallon of dish wash liquid."
"I was distracted! And I meant it when I said I needed the shaving cream for an experiment."
"You're always distracted. And I was so sick of eating beans by the end of that month, I haven't so much as looked at them since."
"And we still have the peas." He said and we burst out laughing. See what I mean when I say that life with him is never dull?
We got home after what I can only describe as a wonderful first date. Mrs Hudson smiled knowingly at us as we wished her good night and climbed the stairs. We walked into our apartment, no our home. (It had gone from being a shared apartment to our home a long time ago. I was only just acknowledging it, though.) We took off our coats and kicked off our shoes. We turned to look at each other and suddenly I was nervous. This is Sherlock. I know him better than I know anyone else on this planet. What do I have to be nervous about?I thought. But it didn't help. So I did what I always do when I get nervous. I went into the kitchen to make tea. Ridiculous, I know.
Sherlock followed me into the kitchen after a minute. He stood at the table watching me. I had my back to him as I filled the kettle and turned it on. I turned around and looked at him for a long minute. He looked right back at me with a question in his eyes. Bloody hell! Am I a man or what?I thought and then I walked up to him and put my hands on his shoulders. He smiled. Then I raised a hand to his face and traced my fingers along those beautiful cheekbones.He coloured a bit, his cheeks pinking in a way that I found quite adorable. No one should be this sinfully good looking, I thought as I moved my hand to the back of his neck, stood on my toes and pulled him into a kiss.
It was tentative yet familiar, gentle yet passionate...It was something I had wanted to do for a long time without even knowing it and it was perfect. We stepped back from each other for a moment. I found Sherlock looking at me with an intensity that made me shiver. And before I knew it, I had pulled him close and I was kissing him again feeling absurdly pleased when he let out a soft moan in response. It was unlike any other kiss I had ever had. It made my heart pound, it made me feel weak at the knees and somehow, through all that passion it made me feel very loved indeed.
Sherlock followed me into my bedroom that night without my having to ask him. We changed and settled under the covers. We turned out the lights and watched the moon light dance across the curtains and over the floor. We talked for hours that night, holding on to each other and kissing every now and then. We weren't ready to go any further with each other yet. That would take some time. We were both a little tentative given our lack of experience and a strong desire not to mess this up. But just then, none of that mattered. What mattered was that we were finally together. Somehow I had got past my stupidity and my thick headedness to acknowledge something that everyone else had seen a long time ago...
A/N: As always, tell me what you think.