A/n: Okay trying something new here, PRESENT TENSE... forgive me if I slip up, but feel free to point it out so I can correct it!
For the last two days, Sherlock has not spoken to John. This is really not uncommon in 221b, the only difference is that there is no case load on - no reason for Sherlock to be holed up in his mind palace while John attempts to foist food and tea onto him. He's far too quiet for John's liking, even when Sherlock doesn't talk he's full of noise - he clatters about the flat loudly or pours chemicals that hiss or plucks at his violin (not plays, Sherlock plays when he's thinking, he plucks otherwise, half-notes and irritating twangs). John wonders if there is something wrong, a quick phone call with Mycroft (which is a massive breach of trust on John's part, but Mycroft calls him and he thinks he ought to mention it) shows no sombre anniversaries on the horizon, no upcoming memorable dates that could be upsetting him.
There is no reason for Sherlock to be sulking, but he is. John tiptoes round him for days, careful not to accidentally trigger an explosion within the stoic detective. On day three he starts to think an explosion would be preferable to the ringing silence he's experiencing. On day four he wakes to find Sherlock is sat at the breakfast table with his head in his hands, looking thoroughly miserable. John feels pity stirring in his chest, so he finally asks.
"Sherlock... what's up?" He queries, standing in the kitchen doorway as he looks at the tall, thin man, huddled over in depression.
"I think I hate you." Sherlock says so softly that John does not hear the first words he has spoken in four long days.
"Pardon?" John questions.
"I. Think. I. Hate. You." Sherlock punctuates each word, refuses to look John in the eye as he speaks. John feels like he's been punched in the stomach, the wind momentarily knocked out of him.
"Right..." He says eventually, trying to keep the hurt out of his tone. He licks his bottom lip the way he always does when he is nervous. Sherlock does not look filled with hate, he looks filled with sorrow and despair. "Can I ask why?" He asks cautiously, fairly certain that he is not going to like the answer Sherlock gives him.
"I don't know... I just do. At least... I think I do." His eyebrows knit together, still trying to analyse the intense feeling in his chest he can only describe as loathing. John takes a deep breath and grips onto the door frame.
"You think you hate me?" He queries, confused. Sherlock nods into the hollows of his palms. Sherlock takes a shuddering inhalation, so much more dramatic than John's earlier intake of breath, his whole body quivers as he prepares to present his argument.
He speaks to the table, when he does speak.
"I don't want to hate you." His voice is earnest, frustrated with himself. "You are the only person who has ever tolerated me. Yet, you infuriate me." He says hatefully. "I can deduce any number of things about almost any person in this world and you... you remain a mystery!" He seethes. "You force me to do things I don't want to do like eating and sleeping! No person has ever had that control over me and with you I willingly relinquish control!" John blinks back tears, because he only ever does things like that to help Sherlock.
"You modify my behaviour in public! You tell me off for saying what's on my mind!" He crows. "Nobody does that! They tell me off, they scold me, reprimand me, shout at me... but I've never listened! You... you make me listen! One phrase from you, all you have to say is 'a bit not good' and I'm driven to silence and guilt!" His voice is a growl now and his hands have moved from his face to his hair, tightly fisting large chunks of curls.
"You make me want be a more sentimental person and I hate myself for it! You make me weak!" He complains in a shouting whisper, John almost wishes he would shout instead of hissing so darkly. Sherlock sniffs hopelessly. "I never cared! I never cared what people thought and then you show up with your gun and your...blog! Suddenly I care, suddenly I'm filled with the foolish emotions I judged the rest of the world for!" John pauses at this, because though the words are spewed with venom, there's something off about that. Sherlock ploughs on, furiously. "And I can't stop THINKING about you!" He huffs out an angry breath.
"On a case, in the morgue, at the police station, all day it's a constant litany of 'What would John think?', 'John would say this right now...' and 'What's John doing?' You're in my HEAD!" Sherlock's hands tighten in his curls as though trying to tear them out but John is starting to understand, or at least he thinks he is, and the face lined with pain starts to soften as Sherlock continues. "And you're still here! The worse I treat you the more you're there! Bringing tea and toast, healing me up when I'm wounded! You've made me dependent on that level of care! I'd kick you out of the flat but so help me, I've become reliant! Reliant on you." He wails softly and John feels his heart stutter back to life after being stepped on with Sherlock's first confession. The pity returns as Sherlock carries on with his speech.
"You've a constant stream of dull, boring, safe girlfriends - that puzzles me as much as the rest of your behaviour! I hate them because everything about you screams the opposite of dull, boring and safe! Those are not the sort of people you should be attracted to, but apparently you are! Do you contradict yourself deliberately to confuse me!?" He demands quietly, lowering his hands back to the table, clenching them into fists and flexing them alternately. John's gut feeling solidifies, but still he waits, reading every word of Sherlock's fury for what it was. "You're just... you're impossible!" He groans. "I just can't understand anything about you! I can't read you! I can't make sense of the fact that you - you force me to face things about myself that I don't need to face, that I don't WANT to face!"
He's almost hyperventilating now, and John wonders if he ought to intervene with his opinion but Sherlock steams ever onward.
"Why, John!? Why are you still here!" John catches a glimpse of his eyes, even though they do not look at him, they are intensely blue today, crackling with electricity and anger. "You even afflict me physically! Your mere presence makes me straighten my back and stand up straight and tall, I see you and my heart races with adrenaline because I never know what you're going to do! Me! I always know what people are going to do, even before they do! You make my palms sweaty with nerves, it's like living on a knife edge!" He slams his fist down onto the table, the loud noise puncturing the quiet air that has previously only been laced with angry hissing notes from his own mouth.
Sherlock sighs, conceding defeat as the fury is all out in the open now.
"So... so I'm sorry, I ought to be grateful for your presence, but, given the overwhelming evidence I am forced to conclude that I hate you, John Watson." He says, so quietly, so ashamed of himself. John bites his lip once more, forcing himself to suppress a smile but unable to. He feels the laughter stir in his chest before it bubbles over and spills out of his mouth against his will. Sherlock looks up, alarmed and shocked at the unexpected response his confession has received. This is exactly what I'm talking about Sherlock thinks forlornly How am I supposed to predict his behaviour? John can't quite stifle his laughter as he finally manages to ejaculate the words lodged in his throat.
"Sherlock." He wheezes, grinning from ear to ear. "You've told me your conclusion... want to hear mine?" Sherlock nods cautiously. "The evidence: that strong feeling... the racing heart, the sweaty palms, the constantly thinking about me, the wanting to impress me, the feeling that you're becoming a better person... that's not hate, Sherlock." He says kindly. Sherlock stares at John, bewildered.
"No?" He asks, eyebrows raised.
"No." John agrees gently, finally calming himself down enough to just smile, staring at Sherlock with wide affectionate eyes. "I conclude... and I put it to you that you're in love with me." He says honestly and Sherlock opens his mouth to object out of instinct but shuts it again immediately as he analyses the word, searches his databases for all known associations with it. He draws a blank. In the end he settles on the only word he finds appropriate in the situation.
"Oh..." He breathes. "Well, that's annoying." He frowns deeply, the lines etched into his face.
"Do you agree?" John questions.
"It's... possible." Sherlock concludes. "More likely than hatred I'd assume..." He runs his tongue over his top teeth as he thinks. "Either way it's impossible to cope with, you appear to be the expert on this matter. How do I make it stop?" He asks, cleanly.
"Stop?" John repeats, Sherlock nods firmly.
"I don't want to feel this way." He explains, still quite annoyed with himself. "How do I make it go away?" John thinks on this for a moment.
"Well, you have two options." John speaks decisively. Sherlock listens to rapt attention, eyes completely focused on John, hanging on every word. "The first is to ignore it and hope it goes away... which hasn't been working for you so far." Sherlock nods, it hasn't worked - no matter how he's tried to fight it. "Or..."
John hesitates here, not entirely sure how to phrase it.
"Do you trust me, Sherlock?" He asks eventually.
"Implicitly." Comes Sherlock's response easily, there is no doubt in his mind that whatever he feels for John it is imbued with trust.
"Stand up." John instructs, and Sherlock does as he's told, standing up beside the breakfast table, staring at John expectantly. John pauses before crossing the distance to stand next to the taller man. He slowly takes Sherlock's hands and carefully places each one against his own hips, before wrapping his own arms around Sherlock's surprisingly broad shoulders. Sherlock's eyes are dubious, skeptical and uncertain of John's intentions.
John does not push the matter, leaves them standing in an embrace that is not awkward, both finding it oddly comfortable, easy and smooth. Sherlock moves instinctively, tugging John ever so slightly closer so their chests are touching. John speaks first.
"Better?" He asks. Sherlock gulps softly, surprised at how easy this is.
"Much." He whispers in shock. John nods softly and moves into Sherlock's arms, laying his head against the crook of Sherlock's neck and just inhaling, Sherlock mimics him, lowering his face into John's hair and breathing in the scent of the doctor. He is able to define shampoo and yesterday's styling product. For a long while they stand there, wrapped up in each other. John feels the sigh of relief in Sherlock's chest and moves back as he brings one hand around to cup Sherlock's cheek, staring up at him due to the height difference.
He has to tip toe slightly, moving his face towards Sherlock's which remains blank and unreadable. John stops, only a breath away from Sherlock's lips - he leaves it up to Sherlock. If Sherlock wants to kiss John, he knows he may. It takes Sherlock a few seconds to process the thought: does he wants to kiss John? John waits, obviously willing. Sherlock has experience with kissing, but he's deleted it in favour of grizzly murders and sharp weaponry. Sherlock has two options, he can walk away and pretend this never happened, or he can... and he does. He closes the distance between their mouths, initiates but lets John lead.
And lead he does, it's gentle and far too careful for Sherlock's liking, he thinks idly that hate would have been easier to deal with. The kiss is not unpleasant, but he only feels the strong feeling in his chest swell as John's tongue sweeps along his bottom lip. It is not a difficult task to relearn, Sherlock spends the first half of the kiss learning, absorbing the data John gives him, then he takes over, glad to have some semblance of control over a life John controls for them, he leads the kiss, heating it up, explores John's mouth with his tongue, holds John's head in his hands. His heart starts to race again and Sherlock is certain his palms are starting to sweat, he breaks the kiss with a slight nip to John's bottom lip.
"So... right conclusion?" John asks, a stupidly happy smile on his face.
"Can't be certain, need more data." Sherlock decides, leaning down for another kiss but John raises a finger to his lips, stopping him.
"Think I can have my breakfast, before you start gathering data?" He asks cheekily. Sherlock scowls slightly but relinquishes his hold on John as he sets about making tea and toast.
Sherlock watches him carefully, trying to ascertain something - he knows how he feels but he does not know how he feels about how he feels. It's all rather confusing, he is almost definitely in love with John Watson - but John has not made the feeling go away, he has made it stronger and that could be a problem.
"I am the genius, yet you deduced something I could not... I don't understand you." Sherlock says eventually.
"Good." John says calmly. "The day you understand me is the day you walk away and we can't have that." He stirs his tea, and Sherlock's - he has made Sherlock's tea.
"You don't want me to walk away?" He observes.
"No. I don't."
"Why?" Sherlock asks, and John turns to look at him, smiling as he hands Sherlock his mug.
"Obvious." John mimics Sherlock's favourite phrase, but his eyes are kinder than Sherlock's ever have been or ever will be.
Sherlock considers this for a moment.
"Oh..." He queries, raising an eyebrow at John, he wants his theory confirmed in a verbal manner, so John's nod is not enough, John grins, momentarily he is tempted not to say it, to force Sherlock to figure it all out but he is not and never will be that cruel.
"I love you too, idiot." Sherlock is not used to being called an idiot, but at John's former words, hearing 'I love you too' spark a chain reaction. Suddenly the ache in Sherlock's chest is not as bad, his heart is still racing but it is also calmed. The last kiss had been necessary for data retrieval, this one was born of sheer desire. Sherlock doesn't even let John put his cup down, he darts forward and takes what he wants. And what he wants is John. Lips, teeth, tongue, mind, body, soul, all of it.
Sherlock's beating heart stills. He is not cured of his affliction, but for now at least, the burning heat in his chest is quelled.
A/n: Reviews are nice...