"I want you to think, John." Sherlock grasped the shorter man's head, staring straight into his eyes. "Was the maid wearing heeled shoes?"
"Yeah, I think so," John said, feeling rather self-conscious at the contact and the intensity of his flatmate's gaze.
"Are you sure?" he pressed, touching their foreheads together, "Are you absolutely sure?"
"Yes! You could hear them clicking from all the way down the hall, but…"
"Brilliant, John!" Sherlock rubbed their noses together briefly, causing the doctor to squinch his eyes shut, and then he felt the barest of brushes against his lips. John's eyes flew open at the contact, just as Sherlock was informing everyone how simple the whole thing was.
John felt like shouting, "Did anybody see that? I wasn't doing anything! And then that just happened! There was no provocation! I take no responsibility! Did anyone see that? Please tell me somebody saw that!"
But, as everyone had been gathering around the latest piece of evidence, he already knew that no one had seen the strange occurrence, even to confirm that it had happened. Besides, he said to himself, if they had, it would only confirm their ever-persistent notion of him and the world's only consulting detective as a couple. Which they weren't. Still… had that just happened? And, if it had, what was it?
The cab-ride back to the flat on Baker Street after the news that the maid had, indeed, been arrested, and after a dinner at Angelo's where John had managed to coax Sherlock into eating something for a change, had been silent before John got curious enough to say anything.
"Mm?" Sherlock turned towards him with mild interest.
"What was that, earlier?"
"What was what?" the taller man inquired.
"That—that thing that you did. You told me I was brilliant, and then you…" John gesticulated weakly and trailed off.
Sherlock cocked an eyebrow at him. "Shall I not do it again?"
"No, it's fine. It's… fine." How had Sherlock made him say that? He hadn't meant to say that. It was not fine. But Sherlock wouldn't have really known what he was doing… As long as the intentions were right, then… what was he saying? Did intentions matter, when lips were pressed together? God, he sounded ridiculous, even to himself.
"221B Baker Street!" called the cabbie from the front seat. John reached into his wallet to pay the man, as Sherlock all but bolted towards the door.
"Hey!" called John, stumbling after him, "What's the rush?"
"It's nothing, John," he said dismissively, tearing up the stairs two at a time.
"No. Something's got you upset. What is it?" John followed at a more conservative pace.
Sherlock collapsed onto the couch with his back to John.
John stood and waited.
"It's… confusing…" Sherlock said over his shoulder at John before turning back to the wall.
John snorted. When Sherlock had sulked for a good two minutes, John realized he had been staring at the man's back the whole time, and turned towards the kitchen to make some tea for the both of them.
He didn't see the consulting detective crane his neck around to watch him walk away, as Sherlock fell back into his original posture before John turned back in his direction.
"All right, Sherlock," he said a few minutes later, setting a cup of tea down on the table and sitting on the edge of it himself, with his own cup, legs resting comfortably against the front of the couch, "Out with it. What's put you in a sulk?"
Sherlock twisted around in indignation immediately, and John tried to suppress a smile as the man crossed his arms petulantly and snapped, "I am not sulking, John."
"Ok," he said, letting slip a small chuckle, "Then what is wrong with you?"
Sherlock sighed, and slumped against the back of the couch defeatedly. "I told you, it's confusing."
"Confusing for you, or confusing for me?" John asked, pretty certain that he already knew the answer.
"Confusing for me!" Sherlock surprised him with his answer as much as the intensity of his outburst as he leaned forward towards John for emphasis, staring into his eyes from mere inches away.
John was constantly surprised by the moments when Sherlock would do something like that. Surprised, but not deterred. He knew the man well enough to know that those times when he invaded John's personal space were not further evidence of Sherlock's inability to engage with other people, but his intense need to engage, which only showed itself at times when Sherlock could not quite figure out what to do, or couldn't quite solve the puzzle.
John stared back. "Is it about the case?" he asked, calmly.
"No," Sherlock said, softly, not moving, still intently looking into John's eyes.
John waited for a moment, just to see if Sherlock would decide to be helpful and elaborate. No such luck.
"Is it…" John fished for ideas by looking around the room, and his eyes fell on one of the CCTV cameras sticking out of the bookshelf. "Mycroft?" he finished.
Sherlock sneered, "No."
Sherlock groaned in exasperation, lying back against the sofa, this time taking his tea with him. "Must we continue this guessing game, John?" he asked before taking a sip.
"Well, we wouldn't have to, if you'd tell me what's wrong," John quipped, sipping his own tea to hide the ghost of a smile.
"You really want to know?"
"Yes, Sherlock, I really want to know."
John was taken aback, to say the least. "Me?" he said, as neutrally as he could, not managing to fully conceal the confusion and hurt in his voice. He set his tea down rather more sharply than necessary.
"Yes, you! I don't know what to do with you anymore! You're distracting! You're… where are you going?"
John had nodded, muttering, "Right," to himself in resignation as he stood up and strode off towards the stairs. He knew this day would come eventually. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he had always known that Sherlock would tire of him. He figured he better start packing. He felt like he was wading through a thick fog. He had pulled out his suitcase and thrown it onto the chair in the corner before the idea really caught up with him and the corners of his eyes began to sting. God, where was he going to stay that night? He would have to go to Harry. He would have to deal with her drunken jokes in bad taste about how it was only a domestic, and that John must have done something really bad to upset his boyfriend so much, and…
"What are you doing?" Sherlock asked, startling John out of his semi-resentful reverie.
"Can't you deduce that?" he snapped, slapping down a stack of shirts he had just pulled from the drawer.
"You're packing. Why are you packing?"
John sighed one of his sighs that most people would see and call an "Oh, God, I'm dealing with a 10-year-old," sigh. "You're bored of me," he said stiffly, "You want me gone. So, I'm going."
"What?" Sherlock actually looked legitimately confused for a moment, "No. No! John, stop!" He grabbed John's hands as he was stuffing a stack of trousers into the luggage, "That's not what I meant!"
He stared at John for a moment, until he was sure he had the shorter man's attention, then he said, "What I mean is, something's changed." He shook his head and reclaimed his hands, turning away, "Or—or maybe it hasn't! I don't know! I've got to think, and I can't—not while you're so close."
"Right! I get it! You don't want me here! There's really no point in pretending to care about my feelings now, Sherlock."
"I'm not pretending!" Sherlock yelled, almost in a rage as he turned back to John.
John stopped what he was doing and stared, leveling a questioning look at his flatmate.
Sherlock stared back for a moment, before he said, "John, sit down."
John shot a long-suffering look at the ceiling before he sat down on the edge of his bed, leaning his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together for support.
Sherlock started pacing. "You're not… what's wrong, John. You're what's wrong with me. There's something about you that makes me focus more on you than I should."
"Don't interrupt." He paused. "You know you're my only friend, John. I trust you more than anyone else in the world. I don't want you to leave. I…" Sherlock looked as if he were mentally searching for another, less repulsive, word. "I need you," Sherlock finally said, "Here…" He trailed off. He slowly pivoted on his heels towards John, his fingers pressed together against his lips and his eyes wide.
"Oh!" Sherlock made the face that meant he had solved the puzzle with seconds to spare and without breaking a sweat, "Of course!" He clapped his hands together and turned his gaze towards John.
John met Sherlock's gaze with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity. He was beginning to believe that Sherlock did not, in fact, want him to leave, but he was still a bit fuzzy on what was actually going on.
"It's obvious, isn't it?" Sherlock prompted him after a moment of silence.
"It's not obvious to me," John said, settling for sarcasm as an alternative to tearing Sherlock's head off.
"It should have been obvious to me. I should have figured this out ages ago. The signs were everywhere! That's why you're so important!"
John couldn't help but let out a small chuckle and shake his head at the ecstatic man in front of him. He was never very good at staying mad at Sherlock. Sherlock, he realized at that moment, had much the same problem. "I'm… important, Sherlock?"
"Yes, of course you are, John!" Sherlock exclaimed, pulling him up to a standing position without relinquishing his grip on John's hands when he was on his feet, "And here's why!"
John barely had time to realize what was going on before Sherlock had repeated his earlier performance, put his hands on both sides of John's face, and thoroughly kissed him.
John would have liked to say that he didn't pull away because he was so shocked he couldn't figure out how to move. He could honestly report that, having been consumed in his efforts to find out what was wrong with his mad-as-a-hatter flatmate, he had completely forgotten about the perplexing peck on the lips he'd received earlier. Thus, he had every reason and right to be shocked into acquiescence. Surely, Sherlock would think that was what had happened, right?
Sherlock lingered at his lips before pulling back enough to watch John's reaction, his hands sliding down John's arms. "Yes," the consulting detective said, softly, for no real reason at all.
But John, just to himself, had to admit that if he said that, he wouldn't be being truthful. He was a soldier. He could have moved if he wanted to. He could move even when he felt paralyzed, and had had to. And judging by the smile—a truer, more vulnerable smile than John had ever seen Sherlock wear—Sherlock knew that too.
Of course he did. He always knew.
"I'm… not gay," John said, more out of habit, really, than under the illusion that the statement contained any sort of argument or evidence.
"Human sexuality is more complicated than that, John. It eventually comes down to hormonal chemistry. It has nothing to do with the fact that we are both men. I have previously never felt anything strong enough to qualify as sexual attraction to anyone, so neither of us is 'gay,' as the term is generally understood. Our bodies have communicated by subconscious means that we are attractive to each other." Sherlock trailed one of his hands down John's arm and took his hand, feeling for John's pulse. John slid his wrist around and returned the pressure, acknowledging that Sherlock's heart was beating faster than normal, too.
Well, when he put it like that…
John felt his body relax, as if it was heaving a sigh of relief that it didn't have to keep the whole thing a huge secret anymore, and John felt all his suppressed attraction for Sherlock just dumped over him all at once, enhanced by the kiss and finally catching up with the fact that Sherlock, quite possibly, loved him back.
Sherlock was one step ahead of him, still. "But that's not all that is entailed in the word 'love,' is it? Love comes when two people are not only attracted to each other, but when they care for each other. When they like spending time together and when they trust each other. When they feel like they can be themselves around each other. When—"
"If you were going to say that you love me, I'd prefer you didn't say it in hypotheticals."
"Yes," Sherlock said, again, "Yes, John, I love you."
Sherlock moved forward to kiss him again, but John pressed a finger to his lips to stop him. "Aren't you going to let me say 'I love you, too, Sherlock'?"
"But I already know that," Sherlock replied, looking almost confused.
"It's still generally what people do," John said, chuckling.
"I love you, too, Sherlock," John said almost before the invitation was out of Sherlock's mouth, and before Sherlock could do anything else, John had pulled him sharply down by the scarf he still had on and pressed their lips together.
Sherlock's kiss was inexperienced, but eager. John supposed this made perfect since, as he'd probably never had a reason to kiss anyone before, but it was nice to know that Sherlock Holmes didn't automatically know everything.
John wrapped an arm around Sherlock's neck and tangled his fingers in the consulting detective's hair. Sherlock retaliated by wrapping his arms around John's waist and holding the doctor closer.
"Do you really find me attractive?" John asked when they separated.
He expected Sherlock to answer with an exasperated sigh and a mildly-impatient, "You heard me," but he was pleasantly surprised, because all Sherlock did was give voice to a slightly-breathless, "Yes."
Love, John Watson supposed, smiling into the next kiss, made people do strange things.
He pulled away again as another question occurred to him, "Is that why you chase off every girl I try to date?"
"Mm, though they are all ordinary and uninteresting, I will admit that jealousy was the main motivator in behaving as I did," the taller man agreed, moving his lips down John's jawline and into the crook of his neck.
"I should probably not find that as endearing as I do," John said, grinning.
"Mm," Sherlock hummed his agreement again, kissing the place where John's pulse could be felt at his throat and smiling.
John chuckled and unwrapped Sherlock's scarf, letting it fall to the floor. Sherlock let him gently ease his coat off his shoulders as well, and that joined the scarf. John's own coat was discarded easily enough next, and without these constrictions, they kissed again, holding each other closer.
John slid his hands down Sherlock's front and around his waist, earning an involuntary nip on his lower lip as he passed over Sherlock's nipples.
Encouraged, John slid his hands under Sherlock's trousers and pants, tracing the curves of his arse. Sherlock rolled his hips and imitated John's movement, and both men felt the other's arousal growing in between them.
They laughed an easy, "Well, that's not a secret anymore," laugh before John sat back on his bed, effectively pulling Sherlock close enough that he had to straddle John's thigh.
Sherlock leaned even farther over John by resting his knee on the bed next to John's hip. John quickly realized that it would be easier to kiss Sherlock if he was lying down than if he tried to crane his neck. This had obviously been Sherlock's intention, because his smile turned into a smirk when John leaned back onto the bed, and Sherlock was shortly attacking his lips, supporting himself with his arms on either side of John's shoulders.
Sherlock soon after realized that he would be at a more comfortable angle if he rested the full weight of his hips on John's, and Sherlock, never one to argue with efficiency, did just that.
They both moaned at the contact, and Sherlock pulled back for a moment, with an innocently startled look on his face that seemed to ask, "Did I just make that sound?" John hitched his free leg around Sherlock's hips, catching the next moan that Sherlock made with his next kiss.
Using this position to his advantage, John tugged that leg down as he flipped them over, so he was on his knees above Sherlock. He sat back on his heels and pulled off his jumper and the shirt underneath. Sherlock took the hint and, by the time John looked back, was halfway done unbuttoning his shirt.
John twisted away as Sherlock sat up and discarded the shirt. John lay back to wriggle out of the rest of his clothes as Sherlock stood to do the same.
They stopped, then, not out of any hesitation, but in order to look at each other before this kind of observation became impossible.
Sherlock crawled up onto the bed very slowly, lying down on his side next to John. John reached for a bottle of lube in his bedside table. Setting it down next to them, he obligingly turned on his side to face Sherlock for a lingering moment before he completed the turn and their skin collided at so many contact points they couldn't keep track of them.
Sherlock, personally, had lost count at 42.
Their hands wandered freely over each other's bodies. John slid his fingers over the ridges of his lover's ribs, and Sherlock pressed his palms to the working muscles in John's shoulders.
Sherlock's fingers soon found the scar tissue on John's shoulder, and John tensed, half expecting a prodding examination. He couldn't imagine that Sherlock would be the kind of lover who would touch the healed wound tenderly, which only had the effect of tickling John, in the end. Sherlock had seen too many mutilated bodies to make that mistake, but he might well be curious enough to press and stretch the scar, to test it. Instead, Sherlock just simply touched it. He didn't press too hard, nor was he too gentle. The scar was not extensive, considering the wound it covered. There were only gentle white dips radiating away from the puckered entry wound, where the skin had been stretched too thinly to cover the wound surface. Sherlock traced these marks and then felt the roughness of the entry wound, sliding the tips of his fingers over it.
The entire exploration lasted mere seconds, but John felt that Sherlock knew the scar by heart already. He spared a moment to be surprised that Sherlock was not marked by past injuries, with all the trouble he gets himself into. His skin was taut and pale and perfect. John, momentarily, was embarrassed by the roughness of his skin and the myriad of small scars he bore from his service.
But then Sherlock was kissing him again, as if to remind John that he was still there despite the scars, and he slid his hands down, spreading them around John's cock, as if to remind John that he still wanted him.
John reached for the bottle of lube and slicked his fingers, reaching around his lover's waist to the cleft of his arse.
The first finger coaxed another humming moan out of Sherlock and a particularly hard squeeze of his hand. At the second, Sherlock slicked his own hand with lube and reached back down to John's cock, spreading the liquid and mixing it with pre-come.
Sherlock abruptly left off his stroking with a gasp when John curled his fingers to rub against his prostate.
Sherlock was rolling his hips, making nonsensical noises that sometimes bordered on the feline as John withdrew his fingers and carefully replaced them with his cock.
They were still on their sides, facing each other, now awkwardly bent, but Sherlock righted them so he was straddling John's hips, on his knees, bending down to kiss John, moving his hips slowly.
John reached one hand to tangle again in Sherlock's hair, and the other hand pressed up his thigh before he took Sherlock into his hand and began stroking him in time with Sherlock's thrusts.
They were each completely at the mercy of the other. John tried to match Sherlock's rhythm, but as they both reached climax, their movements became more syncopation than a rhythm at all, and finally desperate percussion as Sherlock climaxed with a cry, and John followed soon after.
Sherlock lay down again on his side, facing John in the hazy afterglow. John could only lie on his back and grin at Sherlock. They were both breathing heavily.
John was surprised once again when Sherlock was the one to get up and return with a towel to clean them up. John was not surprised, however, when Sherlock threw the soiled towel into a remote corner of the room and thought nothing more about it, just joining John under the covers.
"Did we just do that?" John asked softly, contentedly.
"I'm going to assume that wasn't an actual question," Sherlock responded sleepily.
John chuckled, and then was startled almost awake again as he felt a hand sliding across his abdomen. Experimentally, he moved his own hand within easy reach, and Sherlock entwined their fingers and shifted slightly closer.
John slept on his back, and Sherlock on his stomach. There was no awkwardness, and everything just felt right.
The boys woke up a little differently. They had managed to get their legs somewhat tangled, Sherlock's arm was slung across John's chest, and John found that he had a hand resting on his lover's thigh. Both of them, however, woke feeling that they had not slept so well in a very long time, and were left to think in various forms about what had woken them. Sherlock was desperately trying to remember what it was that had brought him to consciousness, and why it would be important enough to do so, and John was simultaneously praying that there wasn't a crisis and hoping that whatever it was would go away so he could go back to sleep.
The noise soon came again. It was knocking.
"John, dear?" Mrs. Hudson called hesitantly up the stairs.
"Hmm? What?" John called back, trying to blink the sleep out of his eyes.
"Sorry to wake you, but, do you know where Sherlock's got to?"
The long, lanky form lying entangled with him groaned and pushed itself into something vaguely relevant to a sitting position. "I'm up here, Mrs. Hudson!" Sherlock called, "What do you want, and does it require me to put on pants?"
John burst out in loud laughter, before trying unsuccessfully to stifle the sounds of his mirth. He was rewarded with a smile from Sherlock.
There was a long pause. Then another voice came reverberating up the staircase. "I'm sure it's up to you, but if you do come to a crime scene without pants on, I might have to arrest you for public indecency, depending upon what else you're not wearing," Detective Inspector Lestrade called up the staircase, sending John into fresh fits of laughter, and Sherlock into a whirlwind.
"A case already?" Sherlock was grinning maniacally, stepping into his crumpled clothes from yesterday. "Wonderful!" he exalted on his way out the door and down the stairs.
John took a moment to go over what had happened over the past twelve hours before heading into the shower for a very quick rinse, then reaching into the abandoned suitcase for clothes.
Sherlock bounded down the stairs and into his room and changed ridiculously quickly. Lestrade barely had time to stifle his laughter at the state of the clothes Sherlock had most definitely been wearing yesterday before the man re-emerged freshly dressed, alert, and ready to battle the evils of modern-day London. John stumbled down the stairs a moment later, looking rather more put together, and freshly-showered. His hair was even combed.
The entirety of Scotland Yard seemed rather giggly that day. At least, that was the only explanation John could think of for all the muffled giggles as he and Sherlock walked through to Lestrade's office.
Actually, that was a lie, but it was the lie that John had decided to operate under until proven otherwise. He still blushed. There was no stopping that.
Sherlock was looking back and forth suspiciously, eyes darting around in the way they do when he's deducing an entire room, but he was frowning.
It was only when they reached Lestrade's office, Donovan almost doubled over with laughter, and Anderson managed to keep a straight face just long enough to say, "Congratulations!" that Sherlock couldn't take it anymore.
"For what?" he asked, "What's so funny? I've missed something. What have I missed?"
The room all but shook with laughter. The men and women from the outer offices were cramming in at the door and adding to the raucous.
"Actually, I think you just caught on to something," Donovan managed through her laughter, "At least that's what we're assuming after last night."
Sherlock stopped dead. "You knew, didn't you?" he said after a moment, turning in a slow circle and taking in every amused face in the room, "You all knew."
"Well, we weren't entirely sure, but then you kissed him," Anderson said.
Sherlock blushed scarlet.
"You saw that?" John said, privately harboring feelings of deep relief and gratitude towards whatever deity had been listening.
"Of course we did. We're all just too polite to say anything. Speaking of which, Anderson, you owe me twenty pounds," Lestrade said.
"Twenty pounds? Why does he owe you twenty pounds?" Sherlock demanded.
"We had a bet going. He bet that John would make the first move. I bet that you would. Obviously, I won the bet," explained Lestrade smugly, collecting his winnings from Anderson.
That was about the point that John started laughing.
"Was that really your first kiss?" Sally Donovan couldn't help asking, though she barely got the words out around her laughter.
Sherlock blushed an even darker shade of red, spreading to the tops of his ears. "Yes, yes. All right. All right. You all knew, and I didn't. How very clever of you," he said through gritted teeth.
A particularly loud guffaw from next to him made Sherlock turn and shoot a wounded look at John, who was by now giggling along with the rest of them.
To show he meant no harm, John reached up and pressed a chaste kiss to his flustered lover's lips. This had the mostly-unexpected ramification of Sherlock completely melting into John. Several people in the room, including John, and one watching from afar, took note of the reaction for future reference and possible use in emergencies. This docility only made the Yarders, led by Sally Donovan, sigh a collective, "Awwww." Sherlock broke the kiss, blushing harder than John had ever thought possible, even with Sherlock's pale skin, and it was really a good thing all around that Lestrade took that moment to say, "All right, you lot, get back to work. You're not getting paid to stand in my office and gawk."
Thankfully, Scotland Yard was made up of mature-enough adults that business resumed as usual in minutes, discounting the few titters that John and Sherlock heard on the way out.
They parted ways then, as John went off on an errand for Sherlock, to interview some dead woman's father-in-law, and Sherlock went to the morgue to examine the body of the woman in question, as well as two others with, reportedly, a similar physical appearance. If they were as twin-like as the Yarders made them out to be, Sherlock could just tell Lestrade to arrest the father-in-law, who had only had a physical description of his son's wife to go on when he set out to kill her.
"Are these the ones?" Sherlock asked Molly as he strode into the morgue.
"Yeah," she said quietly, unzipping the body-bags to allow Sherlock to examine their inhabitants.
Halfway through his examination of the second body, Sherlock turned a quizzical look on her. "You're acting very strange today, Molly. You're more nervous around me than you usually are. You keep sneaking looks at me."
Molly opened her mouth to protest, but Sherlock blazed on, "Your eyes are wide. You didn't want to be caught, so it wasn't another one of your futile attempts to get my attentio—oh."
Molly stared back at the man she had been in love with for years as he leveled an icy glare at her.
"Yes, your attempts were always futile. No, not for the reason you think. I have never been sexually attracted to anyone before now. So you had as good a chance as anyone, which was none. Now, please stop looking at me like I'm some fallen idol!"
Sherlock turned his glare back toward the dead women.
Funny, Molly thought, I've never heard him say please before…
John was happy to report that the overblown reactions lasted only a few days before everyone was used to the idea and life returned to better-than-normal. Now, if anyone caught them snogging, the strongest reaction they got was an eyeroll and the occasional long-suffering appeal to the heavens. Privately, considering all that had happened, John didn't think they'd ever get much sympathy from whoever inhabited those heavens.