Author's note: I tried to make the drug symptoms, treatments, etc as accurate as possible, but I apologise if anything's wrong. Also apologising for any errors, haven't had anyone else proof read.

Characters do not belong to me, etc, etc you know the deal by now.

Chapter 1:

Heading home, stopping at tescos on way, should I get milk?

John sent off the message to Sherlock as he walked up the cold section of the 24 hour Tesco's. He sighed as he looked down at his phone, wondering whether he should send a message saying sorry as well. It had been two weeks since their last case, and Sherlock had been driving him up the wall; swinging wildly between in-your-face, snappy argumentative and silent, sulky and withdrawn. He was used to dealing with Sherlock's moods, but the last week had been more intense than anything he'd experienced previously. This had all culminated in a very heated argument the day before, which had resulted in John storming out, telling Sherlock that maybe he should find a flatmate who wasn't so oblivious, ordinary and in the way.

A night spent on Sarah's couchand a day spent wandering around the park reflecting on the past week had led John to the decision that he and Sherlock needed to talk. Something was obviously wrong with the detective, and they needed to get it sorted before it got any further out of hand.

Ten minutes loitering around the milk and still no reply - that was odd, that was very odd. Sherlock was always asking John to buy more milk; he hated tea without it. Something niggled at the back is brain - the same thing that had saved his life more than once in Afghanistan – telling him something wasn't right. Abandoning the milk isle, he abruptly turned and headed out to catch a cab.

Five minutes and a very well tipped cabbie later and John was taking the stairs up to the flat two at a time, pulling his keys out of his pocket as he went. He fumbled with them for a moment when he reached the door to the flat, his haste making him clumsy, but he soon had the keys in the lock and was letting himself in.

Sherlock's mind wandered aimlessly, a state only achieved with chemical aid much stronger than nicotine. He lay haphazardly across the couch, his favourite tools of the trade still strewn across the coffee vial had contained heroin, as oppose to his usual friend cocaine, but he wasn't trying to think faster right now. He had discovered at university that heroin stopped him caring; he didn't care that his roommate Sebastian hated him, he didn't care about his lack of friends, he didn't care that nobody would take what he did seriously. It all sort of washed away into the void. That's what he'd wanted – to stop caring completely for the first time in months. But it hadn't worked; he still knew John had left and probably wasn't coming back, still regretted what he'd said, still missed him, still felt everything he'd been trying to repress with increasing failure over the last boring fortnight. Hell, it was the only thing he could clearly focus on.

His morose contemplation was disrupted by a rattling of the door knob. Probably just Mrs Hudson; she'd go away if he stayed quiet. Looking back, if he hadn't been high, he would have known those footsteps most certainly did not belong to Mrs Hudson.

For a split second as John entered the room, he thought his gut was going to be wrong, that it was all okay after all,that Sherlock was just lazing on the couch as usual. When that split second had past he began to notice things; the syringe and empty vial on the table, Sherlock's pin-prick pupils, his sleep-slow breathing though he was clearly awake…

All of this resulted in a few seconds of silence before John slammed the door, storming over to Sherlock as he started to scream.

"What the fuck Sherlock?! What the hell are you doing?! You do realise that shit destroys your brain you stupid fucking idiot of a genius! Maybe I'll drag you down to Scotland Yard right now and see what Lestrade has to say, I'm sure he's going to love having a junkie on his cases! How could you do this Sherlock?!"

He snatched the vial and syringe off the table and threw them in the fire as Sherlock watched on silently.

"Well?" John demanded, "Do I get to know why you decided this was a great fucking idea? And I swear to god Sherlock Holmes if you say you were bored I will end you!"

John stared at him furiously, waiting for an answer.

"You're back," Sherlock murmured after a minute, voice hoarse.

"No shit Sherlock," John snapped back, crossing his arms. "If you weren't fucking high you would have known that before I even got in the door. Fine then, you're obviously in no state to explain. Can you at least tell me what you've taken?"

Sherlock blinked sluggishly, brain obviously trying to form a response through the haze. "Heroin. Didn't wanna feel," he slurred after a moment.

John gave a frustrated huff before climbing the stairs to his bedroom to fetch his medical kit. He took a few deep breaths as he did so, trying to get into doctor mode for the time being. By the time he was back in front of Sherlock with his kit he was marginally calmer, anger pushed just underneath the surface.

"Right, I'm going to check your vitals, and then I'm going to give you a bit of naloxone," John explained, no longer yelling. "It'll help reverse the effects faster. You're bloody lucky I still had some left from that case with the heroin killer or I might have been calling an ambulance regardless of the consequences."

John took Sherlock's vitals – heart rate slow, low blood pressure, sluggish reflexes, slow breathing; all the normal signs of heroin use but nothing that sent up red flags. His temperature was normal and his heart beat was still regular; it didn't look like he'd overdosed at all. Nevertheless, John still decided to give him a shot of naloxone, just to get him functional enough to get to bed and sleep the rest off.

Within minutes of the injection Sherlock could feel his brain coming back online, now able to process what had happened beyond the surprise of John's return. He could honestly say he had thought the doctor wouldn't be coming back this time, except maybe to collect his things, hence the relapse. He knew that the assumption had been illogical – it definitely hadn't been their first bad fight – but he hadn't been thinking particularly logically recently, especially without the distraction of a case. The whole thing was rather humiliating actually, an emotion he didn't often experience, and now he was regretting his actions; another rare thing for him. The last thing he'd wanted was for John to be even angrier at him, and that's exactly what he'd achieved.

John entered the lounge room again, medical bag safely tucked away and a glass of water now in hand.

"Drink this," John told him, and for once he did as he was told, accepting the glass without argument. "Feeling more clear-headed now?"

Sherlock just nodded, not trusting himself to open his mouth in case he said the wrong thing.

"Good. Now, do you want to talk about this now or later? Because we are going to talk about it Sherlock, even if I have to wring every thought from the big brain of yours with my own hands."

Sherlock worked hard to stop himself blushing at the commanding tone. Stop it, he thought to himself, you've already slipped up once tonight, if you want to keep John around you won't do it again.

"Later," he murmured, eyes downcast, "I'm not feeling very well right at this moment."

John rolled his eyes as he stepped forward and, to Sherlock's utter surprise grabbed both his arms and pulled him to his feet.

"Yes, well, that's what happens if you dose yourself up with drugs Sherlock; they're not good for you."

John's snappy reply sounded like an echo as blood rushed through Sherlock's ears and away from his head, causing his stomach to suddenly drop. He clumsily pushed John out the way and stumbled to the bathroom where he promptly emptied his stomach; thankfully it was mostly the water John had given him five minutes ago. When his stomach had stopped trying to turn itself inside out his head dropped onto the rim of the toilet seat, eyes closed as he tried to regulate his breathing. He was surprised to feel a warm hand rubbing soothing circles across his back, another holding the hair away from his face.

"You idiot," John murmured softly after a moment, handing an ashen Sherlock some water to rinse his mouth out with. "Guess this is the first time you've used in a while huh?"

Sherlock was so profoundly grateful for John's gently tone he could have cried, if Holmes's did such a thing.

"Last time was six months before we met," Sherlock replied quietly, glad he could answer something without incriminating himself. There'd been a dry spell in cases that month, and without a John in the flat to distract him and care for him he'd been unable to resist the temptation of the cocaine bottle. Funny how it was now caring which had driven him back to the drugs again.

"Well there's some good news at least," said John as he helped Sherlock to his feet, slowly this time. "I'd have to re-evaluate my belief in my doctor abilities if you'd been using all this time under my nose."

Sherlock let John guide him from the bathroom, but was confused when John tried to turn him towards the stairs instead of the bedroom.

"I need to be able to keep an eye on you tonight," John explained, nearly pushing him towards the stairs, "And I may have invaded Afghanistan but I'm not brave enough to venture into your room, so you're sleeping in mine."

This time there was no way Sherlock could prevent the blush from staining his cheeks. He'd imagined this, fantasised about John saying something like that, with increasing frequency over the past two weeks, though he fantasies never involved a heroin dose beforehand. If John noticed his blush he didn't say anything as he helped Sherlock up the stairs, probably just assuming it was because he was unwell.

When John pulled back the covers of the double bed, Sherlock crawled in without a word, brain now functioning well enough to deduce which side John usually slept on so he could lay down on the other. As soon as John left the room, saying something about water and buckets, Sherlock buried his head in John's pillow and inhaled, revelling in the smell of the doctor. It was probably for the best that he wasn't feeling so fantastic or lying in John's bed surrounded by John's scent would probably have left him with some rather awkward physical reactions. Now all he had to do was get through the night without doing or saying anything stupid and hopefully everything could go back to the way it had been before.

John returned to the room a few minutes later to find Sherlock curled up in a ball facing away from the door. He placed a bucket on the floor next to Sherlock and a glass of water on the bedside table before turning the light off and heading round the bed and crawling in the other side, careful not to disturb the bed too much in case Sherlock was already asleep.

He'd spent a few minutes laying on his back staring at the ceiling, contemplating why Sherlock would do such a thing when he felt the man in question convulse and jerk upright.

"There's a bucket next to the bed," John told him as he leaned over and switched on the bedside light. When he turned around Sherlock was heaving and gagging over the bucket in his lap, though it didn't look like he was actually bringing anything up. Probably hasn't eaten anything in the last day to bring up, John thought. For a full grown man, Sherlock really had no regard for how to look after himself.

Nevertheless, he was suffering now, and though it was his own fault, John couldn't just leave him to it. He shuffled over, wrapping one arm around Sherlock's waist to help support him and brushing the hair off his forehead with the other, murmuring soothing words. After a few moments Sherlock's stomach seemed to accept the fact there was nothing it could do, and the heaving stopped, leaving Sherlock gasping. John gently prised the bucket from his grip and lent over to put it on the floor, surprised when Sherlock's head dropped to rest on his shoulder. It was very rare that the man allowed himself any sort of comforting contact, and even when he did it was nothing more than a pat on the shoulder or something similar, just enough to reassure him that they were both still alive and mostly intact. So John let him rest there for a moment, rubbing his thumb in slow circles over Sherlock's shoulder blade and trying to ignore how good it felt to have the lanky detective in his arms.

Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before Sherlock pulled away, turning over and curling back up into the ball he'd been in before. John sighed quietly and flicked off the bedside lamp.

"Sorry about that, didn't mean to wake you," Sherlock muttered once he was hidden in darkness. John's eyes widened and he was stunned into silence. He could count on one hand the number of times he'd heard that word sincerely leave Sherlock's lips, and that was usually because he'd been rather seriously injured in Sherlock's eagerness to catch a criminal.

"The reaction's not usually this bad…" Sherlock trailed off, sounding much sadder and sorrier than John had ever heard him before.

"I wasn't asleep," John assured him. "It's probably because your body's not used to it anymore. Also the sudden inhibition of the drug by the naloxone can make some people nauseous. And don't worry about waking me up; the whole point of you being here is so I can keep an eye on you."

Sherlock was silent, though it was obvious from his breathing that he wasn't asleep yet.

"Why'd you do it?" John whispered, not really expecting Sherlock to hear. But it was obvious from the way his silhouette curled even further in on itself that he had.

"Sherlock please, I want to help you," John insisted, slightly louder now.

"I told you what it does," Sherlock muttered petulantly.

"You didn't want to feel? But Sherlock I don't understand what you'd be feeling to make you that desperate. I don't get what it could be that you couldn't delete or ignore or do whatever you usually do. Or, god forbid, just talk to somebody about."

Sherlock's reply was muffled by the pillow he had obviously buried his face in, but John managed to work it out – sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side. He thought back to the last time he'd heard those words, and was struck by a moment of clarity where everything fell into place. Huh, this is what Sherlock must feel like when he's solving crimes, he thought to himself, taking a second to revel in the sensation; I can see why he likes it.

"You have feelings for someone, don't you." It was a statement, not a question. "You're in love with someone and you don't know what to do about it."

He took Sherlock's complete silence as conformation.

"Jesus Sherlock, I know it can be confusing but it's not worth harming yourself like that over. If you needed some advice on talking to a girl or something you could have just come to me, surely you know I wouldn't have laughed at you or anything, I would have helped you." Actually, the thought of advising Sherlock on how to woo a lady made his stomach clench uncomfortably, but he elected to ignore that for now and soldier on. "Trust me Sherlock, no one is worth you hurting yourself over, alright? I don't care how smart or pretty she is."

John paused for breath only to realise Sherlock was trembling, and his breathing was approaching hyperventilation. Shit, too far.

"Okay, alright, calm down," John soothed, reaching over to rub Sherlock's shoulder. The detective jumped at the contact, but it seemed to calm his breathing slightly, so John kept it up. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to push when you're already out of sorts. It's okay you can rest now, we'll talk about it in the morning alright?"

Sherlock didn't respond, but he'd stopped shaking which John took as a good sign.

"Okay, you feeling alright now?" John asked, and breathed a sigh of relief when Sherlock nodded. "Not feeling nauseous or anything?" A shake of the head. "Good. You go to sleep now, and don't hesitate to wake me if you need anything. Sleep well Sherlock."

He gave Sherlock's shoulder a final squeeze before rolling over and closing his eyes. As much as he wanted to stay awake and contemplate Sherlock's very much non-sociopathic feelings, a poor night's sleep on a couch and the stress of the evening finally caught up with him, and within two minutes he was asleep.

It was about 6am when John's brain started to roll over into consciousness; a habit from his army days he'd been unable to break unless he was completely sleep deprived after a case. But something was there lulling him back to sleep, a warm pressure that wasn't usually present and kept him feeling safe and sleepy. Despite this memories from the night began trickling through, until he was able to fully remember the stress of the night before. And with that he slammed into full alertness as he realised what that warm pressure must be. Sherlock.

Sure enough, when he opened his eyes he was greeted by the sight of a mop of curly black heat resting on his chest, accompanied by an arm wrapped around his chest and a leg tucked between his own, bringing the long length of Sherlock's front against John's side. Including, John noticed as he flushed crimson, the not unimpressive morning erection pressed against his side. Even more embarrassingly, he could feel his own body responding positively.

John tried to pull away gently, but his was only met with a tighter grip and muttered sleep talking. John couldn't help but chuckle slightly; even in sleep, Sherlock was stubborn and difficult. With nothing else to do but wait until Sherlock allowed him to move away, John figured he may as well enjoy the situation. He knew he should probably feel guilty for taking advantage of what Sherlock had done unconsciously, but dammit this would be the only time he would ever get to cuddle Sherlock Holmes before he advised him on how to win the heart of whatever lucky lady had captured his, and he was going to enjoy it. He knew it was stupid, but he'd been hiding the feelings for so damn long, first from himself and then from everybody else, that he felt he'd earned himself one last moment of weakness. So he wrapped his arms around the lanky detective, buried his face in the soft curls and let the warmth pull him back to sleep.

Sherlock's rise to consciousness was slower than normal, possibly due to the comfortable warmth emanating from below him. It took his brain a few precious seconds to gather up the information from the previous night, some of which was difficult to find amongst the haze of the drug, and apply it to the situation. When he did he gasped sharply, eyes snapping open to observe himself curled around John's figure. Well things were just going from bad to worse weren't they? He'd fought with John, succumbed to the call of the drugs, been caught by John taking the drugs, been powerless to stop John mostly deducing why he'd succumbed to the drugs, and now he had curled around his heterosexual flatmate in his sleep, whilst hard no less. If this was the way his week was progressing he was going to be dead or worse by the end of it.

Moving carefully so as not to wake John, he tried to shift away, only to find his progress halted by two arms wrapped around him. Great; John must have hugged him back in his sleep assuming he was one of his girlfriends. He wiggled slightly and managed to extricate himself from John's grasp, but the movement must have roused the doctor because he barely had one foot on the ground to get out of bed when he heard the doctor's voice, still gravelly from sleep.

"Good morning to you too Sherlock."

Sherlock huffed slightly and sat back down on the bed, still facing away to hide his arousal from the doctor.

"Morning. Hope I didn't disturb you." Maybe if he was polite John wouldn't make him move out when the full truth emerged. For, as much as he would fight it kicking and screaming every step of the way, Sherlock knew that eventually the full truth would emerge. It always did.

"You were fine," John replied. It didn't sound like a lie, but he refused to turn around and look John in the eye just yet, so he couldn't be sure. "Where are you going?"

"To use the bathroom and take a shower," Sherlock replied truthfully. "I always feel dirty and sweaty the night after I…" he trailed off, not wanting to put his weakness into words, "Well, I need a shower.

There was a momentary pause before John replied. "Fine. But when you're done we're going to meet in the living room, and you're going to eat the toast I give you, and then we're going to talk."

John's tone left no room for argument. So Sherlock nodded before leaving the bedroom, trying his best not to walk awkwardly and give away his state.

Once Sherlock was in the shower he rested his head against the wall, letting the water cascade over his back, and gave a shuddery sigh. He glared down at his hard on, refusing to give it what it wanted; stupid body betraying him. There was nothing to do but wait for it to go down, so he gave himself a proper clean as terrifying thoughts began bumping around in his brain. What if John hated him? Okay, so even he could recognise that wasn't particularly likely, but what if John wanted him to move out? He'd said that night at Angelo's that it was 'all fine', but he obviously thought Sherlock was interested in a woman. And though he didn't think John was homophobic, there was quite a difference between finding out your male flatmate dated other men and finding out he was desperately in love with you. He was going to have to leave Baker Street.

No, he thought to himself, I'm not leaving, I was here first. When John is awkward and uncomfortable and doesn't want to be my flatmate any more, he can move out. Sherlock smiled to himself; that was more along the lines of what he had been used to thinking pre John Watson. Seems like he hadn't completely lost himself after all. That small encouraging thought was what he used to force himself out of the shower, into some fresh pyjamas and out to the living room. This was going to break him, and it was going to hurt, for a very long time. But one day, one day he'd be able to pick up the pieces and move on. They might not fit together the way they once did, but he'd still be able to function, take cases, solve crimes. And maybe this would teach his heart not to go wondering again.

John changed into his most comfortable trousers and jumper, but left his feet bare; whatever happened, he wasn't going to storm out the flat like he did last time. He then nipped downstairs to borrow Mrs Hudson's bathroom – she was at her sister's for a few days and had said John could have a key as long as he promised to keep it from Sherlock – and grabbed some bread and milk from her fridge whilst he was there. He'd dashed home the night before without grabbing anything, so they were out of most of the essentials.

He made some tea and toast for himself, but waited until he heard the water from the shower turn off before making Sherlock's toast so it would still be on. He'd just finished smearing a little nutella, Sherlock's favourite, on the toast when the detective emerged, clean and dressed in new pyjamas. Surprisingly, Sherlock reached for the plate and ate the toast without comment, though he refused to make any eye contact. Even more surprising was when Sherlock finished the toast and actually bothered to get up and place the plate in the sink for what may have been the first time in his entire life. Was he trying to butter John up for something? Well whatever it was, the doctor would stay firm, he was going to get to the bottom of this if it killed him.

John settled into his armchair, watching Sherlock pace back and forth across the living room.

"Take a seat Sherlock."

John's gentle words were completely ignored.

"I said sit down." It was a command this time, not a request.

"Why, is your ability to speak somehow tied to my position? Are you completely incapable of speech unless I'm seated?" Sherlock snapped. John took a deep breath, calming himself. He knew the detective well enough to know that the abrasive manner, especially in circumstances like these, was a defence mechanism he seemed to fall back on almost subconsciously. He'd have to try his best to be patient.

"Alright, fine, don't sit," John replied, slight frustration leaking into his voice despite his best efforts, "I just thought it might be more comfortable."

"Transport," Sherlock replied indifferently with a vague, dismissive gesture towards his own body.

"Yes, transport that you decided to destroy last night, along with your precious brain," John retorted, "Care to explain that?"

John was met with a stony, cold stare as Sherlock paused in his pacing, before he resumed in silence, jaw clenching. John waited for a long moment to see if Sherlock would decide to make this easy. Obviously he should have known the answer would be no.

"Okay then, I'll start, and you can correct me when I'm wrong. You love doing that." This time John didn't bother trying not to sound pissed off; they both knew he was, no point in hiding it. "I come home to find you doped up on heroin you probably had hidden in the flat."

"Wrong." To anyone else, Sherlock would have sounded bored, but John could pick up the underlying tension.

"Wrong? You didn't have the heroin in the flat?" John asked. Well that was encouraging at least.

"No, I went and bought it. I meant it when I said I'd been clean."

"Alright then," John continued, slightly mollified, "You bought the heroin whilst I was out, and I came home to find you high. You took the heroin because you were experiencing feelings you didn't know how to deal with."

Sherlock paused in his pacing, facing away from John, fists clenching and unclenching. He was conspicuously silent thought.

"You're in love with someone, and you don't know how to handle it."

More silence; John could practically see Sherlock's muscles stiffening. John took a deep breath before ploughing into the most painful deduction.

"You're completely captivated; you think she's brilliant and daring and-,"

"Wrong," Sherlock spat, sounding as though the word had been forced out from behind clenched teeth.

"Wrong?" John questioned sceptically, "You're in love with someone who you think isn't brilliant and daring?"


"That's what I thought," John responded smugly. Obviously they were going to be absolutely stunning in order to have caught Sherlock's interest; so much more than boring old John. Focus, he thought, this is about helping Sherlock, not having your own pity party.

"Right," John continued, "So, she's-,"

"Wrong!" Sherlock cut him off again, sounding frustrated now, though he still couldn't see his face.

John sat in silence for a moment, confused.

"Oh for god's sake!" Sherlock exclaimed, spinning around suddenly to glare at John. "I know your memory is tediously dull but surely you recall me telling you that girls. Aren't. My. Area!" And with that little outburst he flopped down on the couch, curled up in the foetal position around the union jack cushion with his back to John.

Realisation dawned on John's face.

"Ohhh," John responded, "Okay, sorry, my bad, shouldn't have assumed. He is brilliant and daring and brave and gorgeous and you can't stop thinking about him."

Finally silence.

"Hang on, is that the reason you've been so afraid to tell me? Why you didn't talk to me about it? Did you think I'd have a problem with the fact you're in love with a man?" John inquired, worried. To be honest, it make the whole thing a bit more painful – he was so close, but so far – but he'd never worry Sherlock with that. He'd support the man one hundred percent, and the thought of Sherlock harming himself because he didn't know that was distressing to say the least.

Thankfully, Sherlock shook his head, though that left confusion in its wake.

"Then I don't understand; why didn't you just talk to me about it?" John pleaded, "I could have helped you sort through it all, I could have helped you figure out how to tell him. I would never tease you about it Sherlock I hope you know that. I could still help you figure out how to tell him." And wouldn't that be exquisitely painful, helping his love plan on how to confess to another, but for Sherlock, he'd do it. For Sherlock, he'd do anything.

But Sherlock shook his head, hands gripping the union jack pillow so hard his knuckles were white. "I'm not going to tell him," Sherlock mumbled into the pillow.

"What?!" John exclaimed, "Your feelings for this man are so strong you resorted to using drugs and you're not going to tell him?" Another shake of the head. "Why on earth not?"

"Because," Sherlock whispered, sounding so distressed it took everything John had not to curl up behind him and cuddle him, "he won't return them. And it's not worth the risk."

"Even you can't know that," John insisted. If Sherlock hadn't figured out John was in love with him, it was entirely possible he'd missed the signs from other people as well. "And I know it's a risk, but trust me, it's worth it. Anything has to be better than where you are now; what's the worst that can happen?"

Sherlock just shook his head, visibly trembling now. But John was so close, he couldn't give up now.

"Go on, tell me, absolute worst case scenario, what happens?" He was determined to prove the benefits would outweigh the risks.

The flat was absolutely silent for a moment, tension building in the air, before Sherlock let out a long sigh, sounding for all the world like he'd been told everything he'd ever loved was gone. And then, in a sad, resigned voice, he replied.

"The truth makes him too uncomfortable and I lose my flatmate, by blogger and my best friend."

The confession pushed its way out of Sherlock's mouth, Sherlock suddenly far too tired of carrying the secret he'd held close for months. There, it was out, in a way even John couldn't misinterpret; now he just needed a clean break so he could get on with moving past this. He knew it would be a long, painful process – John was far more important than any drug had ever been – but he would do his best not to let the doctor see the full extent of the damage. After all, it wasn't his fault that Sherlock couldn't live up to his own title of a sociopath.

After a long moment of stifling silence, he couldn't help the chuckle hollowly at the irony of John's previous words.

"Not so keen to help now huh?" he remarked dryly, though the tone was marred by the tremble he could quite keep out of his voice. "Don't worry about it John, it's not your fault. Well, maybe it is a little - if you weren't so brilliant this wouldn't be an issue - but I don't blame you. I've been the idiot." He took a deep breath, willing himself not to lose any more control than he already had.

"Sherlock, yo-"

"No John," Sherlock interrupted, voice sightly louder and sharper now even as he curled further in on himself, arms wrapped around his torso in an effort to stop himself falling apart. "I don't want your pity, I don't need to hear you say 'I'm flattered Sherlock but I'm not gay'," – his impression of John was good, if a bit over the top – "and I don't need to hear any platitudes or apologies for something you clearly had no control over. However, I'd prefer it if you moved out of Baker Street now; we both know the awkwardness of the situation will escalate over the coming weeks until you come home from work in a fortnight or two to inform me that you're moving in with Harry or Sarah or whoever else will take you in until you can find housing on your own, and I'd much rather just cut to the chase. I'd be happy to email you details of cases occasionally for your blog, but other than that I think I'd prefer to be left alone; it's always protected me before. And I suppose I should apologise for all this really, I know it's rather inconvenient for you, but I assure you I had no intension of-"

"Sherlock!" John barked, snapping him out of his rambling. Sherlock clamped his jaw closed, realising with embarrassment that he'd been blathering in an attempt to hide the extent of the pain from John.

"You really think I'm brilliant?" John asked quietly.

Sherlock frowned, confused by the question; out of everything he'd said that's what John chose to focus on? He turned his head, very aware of his red-rimmed eyes and flushed cheeks, to observe. What he saw…wasn't what he'd been expecting. He'd been expecting confusion, discomfort, pity, even disgust. What he got was…well, he wasn't really sure; that facial expression had never been directed at him before, he didn't know what to make of it.

"Of course John," Sherlock sighed as if the answer was obvious. "You said yourself not ten minutes ago that the person I…care for must be brilliant, daring, brave and gorgeous. Now knowing what you know, it is logical to assume I believe those verbs belong to you."

John gasped, his eyes beginning to water, and Sherlock turned his head away again, arms tightening around himself once more. He'd made a stupid mistake again, obviously; maybe it wasn't appropriate to compliment someone if you had unrequited feelings for them. He wished John would just leave already, so he could allow himself to break down a little in solitude.

He heard John's footsteps approaching the couch, but his only reaction was to bury his head further into the pillow. When John spoke, his voice was right near Sherlock's head; he must be kneeling right behind me, Sherlock though.

"Sherlock, could you turn around please?" John requested gently. Sherlock shook his head; he knew what was coming, but that didn't mean he wanted to face it.

"Please Sherlock, this is important," John pleaded. "Just look at me when I tell you this, and then if you want me to leave the flat and never see you again I will."

Well didn't that just sound exquisitely painful? However, that was why Sherlock needed it over and done with as quickly as possible; like ripping off a band aid, except this was going to reveal an open wound not a healed one. So he flopped over onto his other side, still curled up with his arms wrapped around himself, and found a spot on the floor to focus on whilst John broke him.

However, that plan, along with every other train of thought, was broken when John's hand came to rest underneath him chin, pushing up gently until Sherlock had no choice but to meet his eyes. As soon as they locked eyes the hand under his chin moved to his cheek, thumb rubbing against his cheek bone softly. He didn't understand why John was dragging this out; he wasn't usually a cruel man. But, despite knowing what was coming, Sherlock couldn't help but close his eyes and revel in the gentle touch, the feeling of warm, calloused fingers caressing his face.

"Look at me," John murmured softly, and in such close proximity Sherlock couldn't help doing what John wanted. So he made eye contact, memorising the particular shade of blue he was gazing into; he wanted his memory of John to remain perfect despite the pain.

"Sherlock, listen very carefully," John commanded, quiet but insistent. "You are the most important person to me in the entire world. I would do anything for you; I would kill for you – have killed for you – and if I needed to I would be happy to die for you to. I'd probably be dead already if I hadn't met you. When you came into my life you bought with you everything I never knew I needed. All those feelings you think are one sided? They're not. Sherlock Holmes, I love you too."

Sherlock's absolutely gob-smacked expression would have been funny in any other situation. As it was it was kind of heart-breaking; it was like he hadn't even considered the fact that John could return his feelings. He knew he hadn't given many outward signs that Sherlock's feelings were reciprocated, but this was Sherlock I-can-deduce-your-entire-life-story-from-your-left -shoe Holmes; surely in hindsight it wasn't that surprising.

Except apparently it was. Sherlock's eyes wouldn't stop roaming over his face, obviously looking for some sign that what John had said was a lie. John knew he wouldn't find any; he'd meant every word he'd said.

"Sherlock?" John questioned quietly after the silence had gone on for too long. "You alright?"

"You're telling the truth. You actually…care about me…like that." It wasn't a question, but he sounded like he was having trouble coming to terms with what was obviously a difficult concept for him.

"That's right," John confirmed with a smile, "I love you. I'm in love with you. And I'd very much like to kiss you now, if's that's alright with you."

The flush across Sherlock's cheeks intensified as he nodded, biting down on his inviting lower lip in a gesture that was probably born from nerves but looking unbearably tempting to John. The hand that still rested on Sherlock's cheek slid around to the nape of his neck, carding gently through the small curls there as Sherlock's eyes fluttered shut. John's heart was racing as he leant forward and, using his hand to guide Sherlock's head, bought their lips together. It was just a brush as first; barely enough pressure to be considered a kiss, but it was enough to send a shiver down John's spine. He leant in again with more pressure this time, and was delighted when Sherlock returned the kiss with a gentle pressure of his own, lips even softer than they looked. He caressed that gorgeous cupid's bow, coaxing Sherlock to mimic the motion until there was a tender give and take of pressure and movement. It was obvious Sherlock didn't have much experience in the area, but he caught on quickly, and John found his initial shyness endearing. His other hand moved to rub slow circles on Sherlock's hip, glad to feel the tension rapidly easing out of his muscles. After an infinitely long moment, John pulled away, smiling gently at the small noise of discontent Sherlock made.

"Mind if I join you on the couch?" John whispered, wanting to move from the awkward position. He expected Sherlock to sit up, allowing John to sit next to him, but instead he just shuffled back, straightening his legs out so that there was enough room for John to lie down next to him. But the surprise didn't stop him from climbing up next to the lanky detective until they were lying face to face, just inches apart.

"Lift your head," John requested, voice still soft as if a normal volume would somehow ruin what was happening. Sherlock complied, and John slid his right arm out from where it was awkward tucked next to him, allowing Sherlock to use it as a cushion. He curled his fingers in Sherlock's soft hair, his other arms draping itself over Sherlock's waist, holding but not trapping.

"Alright?" John checked, his forehead resting against Sherlock's.

Sherlock nodded, his fingers gripping at John's shirt to tug him closer. "Again."

John was only too happy to comply, closing his eyes to focus on the feeling of Sherlock's lips moving intoxicatingly against his own. Sherlock moaned slightly as John sucked gently on his bottom lip, a sound so delicious he couldn't help but want to cause it again. So he bit down softly on Sherlock's full lower lip, causing the man to shudder and gasp. Not one to waste an opportunity, John took advantage of Sherlock's open lips to flick his tongue over the spot he'd just bitten before sliding his tongue into Sherlock's hot mouth. Sherlock froze at the intrusion, obviously not expecting it. John pulled back, pecking Sherlock on the nose before resting his forehead back against Sherlock's.

"Have you done this before?" John murmured, though he suspected he knew the answer.

"Define 'this'," Sherlock replied, averting his gaze to look down at the couch.

"Been with anyone. Sexually. In any way, shape or form," John explained, stroking Sherlock's scalp gently in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. He didn't really care about the answer either way, he just wanted to know so he knew what to expect.

"Sort of…" Sherlock trailed off.

"Sort of, define sort of," John responded with a slight frown.

Sherlock fidgeted with a loose thread on John's shirt, looking rather uncomfortable. "Only when I was…under the influence. Usually as a way of payment when Mycroft cut me off from family funds. There was never any kissing or anything like this, it was just sex. I never understood the appeal of the act after that; it's quick, messy, mostly painful and not that enjoyable. It's always puzzled me why people will go out of their way to seek it out, will murder over it; I just assumed it was what ordinary people do."

John's eyes watered as he pulled Sherlock into a tight hug, holding the detective to his chest as he buried his face in his curly hair, heartbroken at the confession.

"God Sherlock I'm so sorry; no wonder you have no interest in sexual relationships," John murmured thickly, refusing to cry for the man in his arms.

"What are you sorry for?" Sherlock asked, voice muffled by John's chest, "It wasn't you fault, I didn't even know you." Despite his obvious confusion, Sherlock wrapped his arms around the older man's waist, seeming for the first time to indulge in the comfort of an embrace.

"No, I know, but I'm still sorry that you went through that," John explained patiently, "I'm still sorry nobody was there to help you, to protect you in the way you needed. It hurts me to know that somebody once hurt you like that."

Sherlock nuzzled into his chest slightly, and John could feel him smiling. Had it been anyone else it would have found it odd that they were smiling after such a tragic confession, but this was Sherlock; he'd learnt long ago to just take the man's eccentricities as they came, as had come to love him for it. And now he wanted to show that to the strange man, to prove that sex didn't have to be about returning favours and the pleasure of one taken at the expense of another.

"Let me take you to bed," John whispered seductively in Sherlock's ear, feeling triumphant when he felt a shiver travel down the detective's spine. "Let me take you to bed and show you how good it can be. I promise I won't do anything you don't want, I'll stop whenever you say, and I promise it'll feel amazing."

John held his breath as he waited for Sherlock to answer, and sighed in relief as he felt a tentative nod against his chest.

"It'll feel good," John promised, pressing a kiss to his soft curls, "It'll feel so good, I swear. I wouldn't lie to you."

He felt Sherlock nod again, less hesitant this time, and smiled. Grabbing Sherlock's hands from behind his back, John stood, pulling the detective with him.

"My room or yours?" he asked, standing on tip toe to whisper in Sherlock's ear.

"Yours," Sherlock replied, voice raspy.

John pressed a kiss against Sherlock's cheekbone before pulling him upstairs.