Author's Note: This little scene waylaid my brain while working on the next chapter of Love and Friendship (so there might be a few smidges of similarity, not that this will give away anything that's going to happen). I suppose you could say this is based on a bit of personal experience as all to often I find myself wanting to push the limits of what's considered 'platonic' affection, without intending it to become anything more. I almost had it not (or not yet) in this story, but I do so love the two of them as a couple, hehe. I may revisit the basic idea at some other time with a different result, or a longer time frame.
-Obligatory Disclaimer -
These characters belong to the BBC show writers Moffat and Gatiss. This is just fanfiction, no profits made, blah blah blah. And my apologies for any fangirlish butcherings which have no doubt occurred herein.
A Quiet Afternoon
It was a quiet day at 221B. John had been enjoying the day off with a book, and was relieved that Sherlock had been entertained enough with little puzzles from their blog readers which didn't merit leaving the flat for further inspection. Sherlock had been back and forth between his computer and the couch (for thinking) several times, paced a bit, and had even done a small, innocuous experiment in the kitchen. The fact that Sherlock had taken the time to enjoy lunch with John had made the day especially satisfying. The sun had even come out around noon and brightened the room a bit with its clear, fresh light.
Now Sherlock was laying draped across the couch, thinking or sleeping (it was hard to tell with him), his robe falling open over his bare chest, his head tilted back, neck stretched out, eyes closed and lips slightly parted. It took John several minutes to realize he was staring at him, at that smooth white skin that looked cool as milk or sculpted marble. How many times had he found himself staring thus? Too many too count. Too many to ignore. Too many to believe he was 'just looking.' Despite telling himself it was silly, the fact was, he was entranced. He'd rejected the realization at first, then comfortably ignored it while letting himself stare anyway, until finally he'd faced it. However straight he was, his eyes nevertheless loved to linger on Sherlock, and while his thoughts never shifted to undressing and making love as they were tempted to with women, his eyes took advantage of every instance when Sherlock actually was undressed, and left him wanting, wanting what he wasn't sure, but just looking didn't seem quite enough. The compulsion was growing stronger and stronger; the need to stare whenever Sherlock wasn't looking, as questions crept furtively across his consciousness. What would it feel like to run one's fingers over that skin? What would it feel like to kiss it. What does it smell like? What does it taste like? What would happen if I were ever to find out?
Nothing. That is what would happen, so it hardly mattered what he wanted or dared to try. As proven with Irene, any such forward action would be met with cool indifference. If Sherlock made any reaction at all it would be a sidelong glance and a lazy 'I'll have another cup of tea, if your finished, John.' That was all it would ever be.
And that was all he really wanted it to be, John thought to himself as he stared hypnotized by that creamy skin glowing in a shaft of sunlight. He could be content with that. He was almost content with just looking at him, watching him fondly when he was too absorbed in his own thoughts to notice. Except, it seemed a bit of a shame that beautiful skin would never be touched tenderly by anyone. If he could just once run his finger along that jaw and press his lips to that cheek… they deserved the adoration Sherlock never sought to receive. Though Sherlock didn't want it, John couldn't help feeling affection for his best friend, and was certain it would have done Sherlock good if he'd ever let himself accept it.
It wasn't as though John really wanted anything more than the freedom for occasional affection, especially in the moments when Sherlock seemed to need someone but couldn't allow himself to act vulnerable, leaving John unable to demonstrate his care. John knew it would be futile to expect anything more anyway, so it honestly didn't cross his mind. He was still interested in women, and Sherlock dating anyone was out of the question. That was something he really couldn't imagine, and didn't think he'd ever want to see. John was as close as anyone would ever get to Sherlock, and he respected his independence which kept him aloof and unfettered by relationships. John didn't really understand why he felt the impulse to reach out and caress his friend, whom he was sure he viewed as nothing more, but somehow, John felt that if ever such an act should mean something to Sherlock, it must-needs come from him. He understood Sherlock like no one else, and he was the one person Sherlock could trust. The normal bounds of friendship seemed too limiting to truly communicate the extent of his care and admiration, even if sex wasn't something either of them would be comfortable with. But an embrace, a stroke, perhaps even a kiss, not on the lips (even if John did have to admit they looked luscious), were things he was beginning to feel he could do and Sherlock would just ignore them, and John wouldn't feel guilty. No he certainly would never feel guilty. Even if he were to fall in love and get married, Sherlock would always have his own special place in John's heart and mind that no one else would understand. All these thoughts hung in John's mind as he continued to stare at his beautiful, beloved friend while the quiet afternoon stretched on.
At last, John stood and crossed over to the couch. Sherlock made no indication of having noticed his movement, and John was pretty certain he had dozed off. John knelt beside him watching him sleep, affection swelling inside him. Sherlock was infuriating in so many ways, but John loved him for every one of his stupid quirks. He wished he could tell him, in some other way than his repetitive flattery. He knew somewhere deep down Sherlock would appreciate it, even if he made himself brush it off. But perhaps now, while he slept it would be alright if John just…
In slow wonder he reached with one finger to trace Sherlock's jaw, leaning close to breathe his scent. He was so precious, John wanted him to know; even though Sherlock wasn't conscious, he ached to tell him all the same. Hesitantly, he leaned closer and pressed his lips gently against that perfect neck. It was warm, not cool like marble. Nor was it stationary like a statue's.
Sherlock's head whipped towards him, and in the same moment that John caught sight of his scowl he was already pressing his lips to Sherlock's mouth and feeling how deliciously warm and soft those lips in fact were. Sherlock had begun to utter his name, and John felt the muffled vibration of Sherlock's voice as well.
It lasted only a moment, and then John sat back on his heels, his hands sliding away to the floor. Suddenly John couldn't look at him even to confirm the expression he'd thought he'd seen. "I'm, I'm sorry. I didn't mean…." He stammered, starting to scoot away and stand up. This certainly hadn't gone as expected. He'd been convinced Sherlock wouldn't react at all, and now he had no idea what to do.
"It's fine." Sherlock dispassionately dismissed his panic.
"Don't worry… I-I won't…" John continued to mumble awkwardly as he turned away, picking up Sherlock's empty tea cup, "I'll make some tea, shall I?"
"I said it's fine, you don't have to…"
"No I..." John half turned back to him, still not meeting his eye, "I dunno what I... It's just that… I didn't…" He didn't know what had come over him when Sherlock had startled him by turning his way. Even if kissing his neck didn't seem exactly 'platonic,' he'd never intended to kiss him on the mouth.
Sherlock regarded him a moment, looking him up and down, calculating. "You don't intend to do that again." He concluded flatly, though John wasn't sure if the undertone he'd caught was relief? resign? disappointment?
"I promise." John said determinedly, then began to turn towards the kitchen again, mentally kicking himself. What have I done? Am I mad? Why did I ever think that would be okay? He hates distractions when he's thinking, and affection, and now he's sure to hate me!
"Because it's fine if you want to." Sherlock said as he resumed his thinking position.
John set Sherlock's cup by the sink, feeling hot embarrassment pounding in his ears. Then he filled the kettle and turned it on before his brain finally processed Sherlock's words.
He turned round and found himself drawn zombie-like back to the living-room. "I'm sorry?" his brow creased as deeply as it could manage as he tried to convince himself of what he'd heard. "I don't think I caught…"
"I don't know what you're making a fuss about, John. You've no reason to apologize. I have nothing against you kissing me if you feel like it. I'd rather you do so than watch you agonizing over it." He said in his patronizing way.
John stared at him in disbelief. After a moment Sherlock glanced up at him with a perfectly calm look of inquiry.
"You mean, …you …want …me to…?" John muttered warily, growing even more nervous.
"I'm not asking you to if you don't want to." Sherlock interrupted him irritably. He rolled his eyes and studied the ceiling, "But I would find it more agreeable if you didn't have to go find some woman to snogg every time you had the urge."
"Oh. Right. No thanks." John said indignantly. Even if Sherlock only thought of affection as a practical means of appeasing distracting sexual urges, John was insulted that Sherlock would think him capable of using someone in that manner. He wasn't about to settle for being merely tolerated by someone who felt no affection for him in return. Sherlock always had a way of quickly undoing anything he said that sounded complimentary and John hated how foolish he felt after those split seconds when his heart rose at having won Sherlock's approval, only to have it dashed. This time it stung a lot more than usual. "I'm sorry my life is so inconvenient for you. I'm not your lackey, Sherlock." His voice was low and bitter. "And I certainly don't need any favors from you for my services. "
Sherlock sprang to his feet, flinging the book that had lain open on his stomach to the floor with a thud. "Do you think I would prostitute myself for the sake of keeping an errand boy?!" He cried in exasperation and stood glaring at John.
The most glorious feeling washed over John then, and his own indignation melted away into something quite disturbingly like bliss. For all Sherlock's ridiculous taboo on sounding sentimental, he was in fact saying that he loved John, that he wanted to be enough for him, that he would never think of sharing intimacy with someone he didn't care for, that although his logic couldn't bring him to seek any romantic entanglements, he nevertheless would like it if their relationship did take that turn.
While John stood gaping at him, Sherlock dropped back onto the couch with an angry huff and twisted round to face the back of it in his usual pouting position. No doubt he was berating himself for having feelings, and for being so inept at handling them, and cursing John for having roused them in the first place.
John stared at that lean, petulant, familiar back. A faint, hysterical laugh was attempting to rise from somewhere inside and shake loose his state of shock. What dolts we've been. It certainly didn't stand to reason that they should attempt a romantic relationship, but suddenly John didn't care. He loved this man so much. He didn't care about his supposed heterosexuality; he didn't care about having to eat his words; he didn't care about never settling down into a normal family life; he didn't care about how many times he'd want to kill Sherlock if they shared a future together. He just needed to kiss his bloody bastard of a boyfriend and make up for all the times he'd mistakenly tried replacing him with someone else.
The teakettle switched off and the fading sound of the boiling water finally roused John and he went dutifully back into the kitchen. He poured their tea and brought it into the living-room, but simply set it on the coffee table before kneeling beside the couch again. He sighed and sat with his back against Sherlock's.
"I honestly didn't know…" John murmured. …that you wanted to be a couple. …how much I love you. …that it hurt you when I'd go out. All of those things filled the silence between them. "I'm sorry."
Sherlock stretched and shifted onto his back again. John waited a moment, then turned to him. Sherlock still had his face turned away though. John hoped he wouldn't stay mad at him.
After several minutes of watching Sherlock's chest rise and fall, he heard Sherlock mumble. "I interrupted you." He twitched his head back a little further and John glanced at his neck, once again stretched alluringly over the arm of the couch. You say you're not, but you really are asking me aren't you? John smiled to himself.
He stared another minute or so trying to convince himself he wasn't asleep over in his arm-chair. Then he slowly bent close over Sherlock and brushed his lips along his neck. Sherlock really was beautiful and at last he was letting John tell him that. It was a little odd for John since they had hitherto maintained their distance, but his affection for Sherlock overrode the awkwardness that his mind tried to impose on the situation. He let his hand slide over Sherlock's chest and nibbled lightly at his earlobe. Then scooted closer as he kissed along his jaw. His stomach did a funny little flutter as Sherlock turned to look at him; this time his previous look of surprised irritation was replaced with a subtle hint of a smile. John had to kiss that little twitch at the corner of his mouth. He thought for now he might leave it at that, sweet and innocent, but Sherlock's fingers had got into his hair, holding his head close, so John nibbled softly at his lips as well. It was extraordinary that Sherlock wasn't pushing him away in boredom or irritation as John sat, gently fondling his lips. It was extraordinary that John wasn't running away in confusion himself. Instead, this just felt lazy and comfortable and friendly like the rest of the day had been.
It wasn't passionate, but it was genuine, and so sweet as their lips tentatively explored each-other and Sherlock slowly warmed up to this new experience.
John remembered their tea was getting cold on the coffee table and paused to reach for his mug.
"Want any?" He asked.
"Couldn't be bothered." Sherlock murmured lazily, watching John as he took a sip.
John's eyes glinted mischievously and instead of swallowing he pressed his warm wet lips to Sherlock's and let just a bit trickle into his mouth to surprise him. If he hadn't expected that, Sherlock didn't let on, for he quickly sucked on John's mouth for more. When he hadn't any left, John let the tip of his tongue touch Sherlock's lips while Sherlock swallowed. Feeling a bit emboldened, John felt along the smooth interior of Sherlock's lips with his tongue and soon Sherlock opened further and curiously poked at John's tongue. After a few moments of greeting tongue to tongue, tips sliding gently round and pressing against each-other, John retreated thoughtfully, with a last little tug on Sherlock's bottom lip.
Sherlock's eyes opened slowly and John studied his face. He'd never imagined himself kissing Sherlock. It was rather different than kissing his previous girlfriends, but in all the enjoyable essentials it was the same, maybe even better, in spite of Sherlock being inexperienced and, for once in his life, a bit shy. John smiled a small, warm smile at him and could see it reflected in Sherlock's eyes.
"Has anyone ever…" John began to ask softly.
"Once." Sherlock replied glancing away with the distasteful memory. "Stupid girl forced herself on me for a bet, 'kiss the untouchable Holmes.'" He rolled his eyes at the pointlessness of such teenage games. John could just imagine the awkward roughness and emotional emptiness.
"It wasn't…" Sherlock murmured.
Sherlock's eyes settled on John's lips. "Like that." He paused "That was… not bad." He finally finished.
John's eyes twinkled knowing that in 'Sherlock-speak' that meant something close to brilliant. John was on a bit of a high from this open, genuine closeness with Sherlock.
"I take it you didn't kiss back?" John had to ask because the idea that he really was Sherlock's first real kiss made him feel quite special.
"You have to ask?" Sherlock replied sarcastically.
John smirked broadly at that and he was sure there was a look of possessiveness in his eyes as he studied Sherlock's face. He brushed a whisper of a kiss over those red lips, and then rested his head on Sherlock's chest.
"My first kiss wasn't so different actually. It was with the neighbor girl when I was ten. We were playing house with her little sister, and she took full advantage of the opportunity as my 'wife.'" John laughed. "I really thought I was going to marry her some day, till we ended up at different schools."
John sighed, listening to Sherlock's heart-beat. "I'm glad it never worked out…" he murmured distantly as he thought about his girlfriends over the years, "…with any of them."
"Why?" Sherlock asked, genuinely surprised by this. Of course he would be thinking that logically he wasn't an ideal match for John, which made John feel determined to prove him wrong about that. Someone else might have been easier to live with, but John was beginning to realize he couldn't have loved anyone else more. And somehow he had the feeling that regardless of Sherlock's inability to communicate his feelings, no one could have loved him more fiercely or faithfully than Sherlock would. John couldn't believe his life had brought him to this moment, but now he knew he didn't want it any different.
"Because you wouldn't have anyone else." John said softly.
After a moment, Sherlock replied solemnly, "No I wouldn't." John felt his voice rumble in his chest. Almost hesitantly, Sherlock wound his arms tightly around John.
John felt perfectly content in Sherlock's arms. Perhaps I've been wanting this for while. Somehow, it just felt so right in spite of every reason he'd thought it impossible. John laughed quietly. "You're irresistible, you know that?"
Sherlock snorted skeptically.
"I don't think any of them really had a chance against the great Sherlock Holmes." John smiled fondly.
"John, please." Sherlock dismissed his cheesy flattery even though John could hear the note of self-satisfaction in his voice.
For several minutes they sat in comfortable silence. John idly stroked Sherlock's cheek with his thumb and Sherlock idly twirled the hair at the back of John's neck in return. This is too weird and too wonderful, John thought to himself. Sherlock wouldn't have liked the word 'cuddling' but that was exactly what they were doing and John could think of no better way to waste a lazy afternoon. Perhaps Sherlock had gone back to thinking, but John wouldn't mind if he were allowed to do this whenever Sherlock went to his 'mind-palace'. John certainly hoped they would be doing a lot of this in the future, even if it took them a long time to work up to anything more.
"Hoo, hoo!" Mrs. Hudson called cheerfully to announce her presence as she popped her head round the door, taking them both by surprise. "I made some cake if you boys would like a spot of…" She began before her eyes fell on them embracing on the couch with Sherlock's robe falling off him. "Oh!" She exclaimed, "perhaps this isn't a good time."
John sat up and Sherlock turned his head and opened his eyes. "No, no, do come in." He said brightly.
Mrs. Hudson was only too happy to obey, and quickly set about finding a place for her crumb-cake on the table.
"Well, I can see you two have finally got together." She commented, "I always knew it would happen, right from the start."
"You assumed." Sherlock corrected as he sat up and tied his robe back around himself.
"I think this calls for a celebration!" Mrs. Hudson beamed at them both and Sherlock rolled his eyes good-naturedly at her enthusiasm.
Sherlock stood and gave John a hand up from where he'd been sitting on the floor (one of his feet had started to go numb), and they both stood together a bit awkwardly for a moment, holding hands and glancing between each-other and Mrs. Hudson.
"I'll just get the water started." She said turning to the kitchen in case they wanted a private moment. Sherlock looked about to turn away, but John didn't want to let him go just yet and went on his tip-toes to at least kiss Sherlock's cheek. Halfway through the cheek-kiss, Sherlock changed his mind, however, and John found his waist drawn in against Sherlock's and his lips completely consumed. An instant later Sherlock was turning away and John felt a bit dazed by that sudden burst of fervor.
John helped Mrs. Hudson make the tea and get down plates and a knife for cutting the cake, and things began to feel just like normal, except that John and Sherlock caught each-other's eye a bit more often for no reason in particular, and they didn't avoid touching as they moved around each-other in the kitchen while setting the table. While they sat around chatting over their tea and cake, John was pleasantly surprised when it was Sherlock who initiated a bit of 'footsies' under the table, and tried not to let on that he was distracted while he tried to capture Sherlock's toe with his. It seemed dating Sherlock wasn't going to be as horrifying and hopeless as he would have expected. John was pleased to think this casual closeness was to become the norm.
"So are you two going out tonight?" Mrs. Hudson asked with a little wink.
John looked at Sherlock, and Sherlock looked at John, and they didn't have to say anything.
"I think we'll enjoy a quiet evening in," John replied.
Mrs. Hudson blushed a bit and John an Sherlock both said "Not like that" at the same moment, though Sherlock sounded dismissive and John sounded nervous.
"It's alright!" She insisted as she stood up and set her teacup in the sink. "Oh, I'm so happy for you!" She smiled proudly at both of them and gave them each a kiss on the cheek before slipping out the door, "Now, you two enjoy the evening!" she called peering round the door before closing it and bustling downstairs, no doubt to spread the gossip.
"Fancy a bit of crap telly?" John asked while he cleared up.
"If you don't tell me to shut up." Sherlock said with a smirk.
"I won't need to." John replied, coming to stand over Sherlock who hadn't gotten up yet. John leaned down and kissed him, and Sherlock yielded readily enough.
Soon they were settled in on the couch and John flipped through channels with his head resting on Sherlock's shoulder, while Sherlock said "Boring, Rerun, No," until they found something they could both agree upon. The rest of the evening was spent much like the afternoon, snuggled up on the couch. They shared leftover curry and long slow kisses, and eventually fell asleep in each-other's arms with the telly on.