This is it...the final chapter... please try to hold it together. ;)

Step Seven: Reverberation

Told from John's POV

"I know."

Time ground to a screeching halt and the words…those two simple words began careening around the inside of my brain like a ricocheting bullet. He knew. Sherlock knew.

I mean…of course he knew. That bastard could tell an airplane pilot from his right thumb at forty paces, why the hell wouldn't he know that his flatmate was trying to seduce him? I almost chuckled aloud at my own folly. Seducing Sherlock Holmes…the man who could see everything... Of course he'd seen right through it and right through me. How could I have ever thought that he wouldn't have known?

I forced myself to look into his eyes and I knew he was doing it again. He was watching me expectantly, looking for my reactions and watching my unconscious movements to deduce my thoughts and feelings. Damn the man…I bet he'd known since the beginning and was doing his own counter-experiment. That had to be it…the reason he was allowing all of this to happen without any sort of odd remarks or looks. He'd been letting me seduce him so that he could gather his own data about me. I felt my stomach turn in shame and guilt and anguish. Turnabout is fair play, but Sherlock was playing havoc with my very real emotional response. I'd kept going because I genuinely thought he was responding to my advances. Now… I couldn't help but doubt his reactions and condemn them as acts to forward the experiment.

I released his forearms as if they'd suddenly turned into hot irons and stood up, backing away quickly. He watched me go with a curious look on his face, his eyebrows drawn slightly downward. I felt the blood begin to pool in my cheeks and the tips of my ears.

"Ah. Goodnight then," I mumbled. I turned a sharp about-face and strode off towards my bedroom, taking the stairs two at a time. I shut my door with a soft click and collapsed on my bed with a muffled thump. Staring up at the ceiling, I tried to regain control over my breathing and my heartbeat, both of which were speeding with anxiety.

I heard a soft knock at my door and Sherlock's silky baritone saying "John?"

I considered telling him to go away, but I knew he'd ignore me, so I just laid there and said nothing. When he came into the room, I sat up at the edge of the bed and just watched him. He was staring at me with a very puzzled expression on his face, and that turned my own curiosity.

"Is everything alright, John?" he asked.

I barked out a short laugh, unable to stop it from coming out of my mouth. "You tell me," I challenged, folding my arms over my chest.

He cocked his head to the side and straightened up and took a few hesitant steps forward. His eyes never left mine, the infinite universe in his irises flickering over me in a close perusal.

"You're upset because I knew that you'd been experimenting with seducing me and I didn't mention it to you," he stated in a low voice.

I clapped my hands and said, "Well done, Sherlock. You'll get a gold star for that one." I was being very sarcastic but I didn't care.

Sherlock tentatively crept forward and lowered himself to the edge of my bed. When I didn't reach out to strike him, he shifted his weight so that he was sitting more comfortably and facing me more directly.

"Why does that upset you, John?" There was an honest curiosity in his voice that instead of mollifying me, made me even more upset. For a man who knew so much, he was also so very dense.

I sighed. "If you knew what I was doing, Sherlock, why didn't you stop me?"

He blinked a couple of times. "What?" he asked.

I sighed again and turned so that I was facing him head on. "Sherlock, I was a fool to think I could all that and have you not notice that I was doing something. So if you've known the whole time… why didn't you stop me from doing it?"

Sherlock frowned. "Why would I stop you from doing it? I was…curious. I wanted to know why you were attempting it."

"So it was all an experiment then?"

Sherlock threw his hands out in a wide gesture. "You were experimenting on me, John."

My heart squeezed in my chest. "I know, but I… I genuinely care about you. I was experimenting because I wanted to see if you…cared about me in more than a platonic way."

"I know you were."

"Exactly," I muttered. "So…if you knew about what I was doing, I just want to know why you let me keep going. I let myself continue with the seduction because I thought you were genuinely interested in me. But…you weren't, were you? You just…reacted the way I wanted you to so you could gauge my reactions and that's…a bit not good. Why did you let me embarrass myself like that when you clearly didn't reciprocate?"

Sherlock's back straightened and he looked at me with clear, calculating eyes. "Who said that I didn't reciprocate, John?"

I felt a multitude of sensations wrack my body all at once. The oxygen in my lungs wheezed out. I felt my stomach churn in suspicion but my heart leaped with hope. It was all very peculiar and I coughed a couple of times to clear the dust bunnies from my brain.

"Okay," I wheezed. "But my question still stands, Sherlock," I said. "If you knew that I was trying to seduce you, why didn't you… why'd you let it happen? If you…felt the same way… I could have ended the charade weeks ago. If you didn't feel the same way, I could have stopped embarrassing myself. Why didn't you say anything?"

He turned his face away from me and stared at the floor for a long number of silent minutes. I could hear my anxious heart fluttering in my ears and I noticed that one of Sherlock's hands was intensely kneading the duvet under his fingers, signalling his tension.

"Iddnowyudwantdothat," he mumbled under his breath.

"Come again?" I asked, unable to string together the syllables into a cohesive sentence.

He inhaled very deeply and then turned his gaze to me once more. "I didn't know why you'd want to…do that."

"Why would I want to do what?" I asked.

Something shifted in his facial structure and I was now looking upon a Sherlock Holmes I'd never met before. This Sherlock Holmes was a thousand times more open and raw than the confident and arrogant detective that roamed the streets of London solving crimes and bossing around policemen. This Sherlock Holmes looked so youthful and innocent. This Sherlock Holmes was inexperienced and naïve. This was the human underneath, the sensitive counterpoint to his frequent tactlessness. There are two sides to every coin, and now I was seeing the heart on the opposite side of the head.

"Why would you….want me?" he asked in a very small voice that was so unlike Sherlock that I almost didn't catch it.

"What?" I breathed.

He exhaled sharply and then stood up from the bed. He started to pace the floor directly in front of me and began talking rapidly. "I noticed that you were attempting to seduce me and the attentions made me very curious. At first, I dismissed it because I thought it was a completely ridiculous premise to think that someone would actually be seducing me. I mean, do you even hear how ridiculous that sounds? Anyone who knows me understands my position on relationships and such silly things as that, and I knew that you would understand more than anyone else since you are my best friend and my closest companion. And yet, here you were all the same, doing things that at first I interpreted as you just being a good friend. But as time pressed on, I realised there was something…deeper in your actions. Once I discovered that you were honestly interested in…romancing me, I was a bit taken aback. I had a mountain of evidence that suggested that you were literally trying to seduce me and I didn't understand why. Why would you do that? How could you do that? I'm the least likeable person you know and here you were, pining for my attention. It was…mind-boggling. I thought of at least seventy-three reasons why I should call you out, but I…couldn't bring myself to actually do the deed."

Sherlock kneeled in front of me and looked into my eyes as he continued to speak. "I didn't say anything to you because as much as I do not understand…this," he gestured vaguely between the two of us, "or you or relationships or romance or love… I found that I wanted it. Or at least I thought I wanted it. I found myself craving your attentions and wanting to dispel them all at the same time."

He dropped his head and stared at my knees. "It's all….very confusing to me, John. There's so much that goes on in my head and very little of it is related to sentiment in any form. I've always believed sentiment to be a very dangerous thing, John. Contrary to what people may think, I do understand what emotion is and I do feel… I just do not understand how to let those emotions in my brain without interfering with my work. It seemed so much simpler to just…ignore them and push them to the back of my brain and bury them there."

He turned his head up to me and cautiously raised one slim hand and laid it gently upon my cheek. I leaned into the surprising warmth and I swear I heard the man purr with content. He stared into my eyes and my heart and my soul. "I don't know why you feel the things you feel towards me. I don't know how you do it. I don't understand why anyone with a heart like yours would desire someone like me. More importantly, I need you to understand that even though I don't know how to do any of this… I need you too, John."

Sherlock dropped his hand from my face and used both of them to find my own hands. He laced his fingers through mine and squeezed tightly. "You said that when you stripped everything away and were only left with yourself and the now, you found the answers to your questions because you suddenly knew what you were hoping for. I didn't have quite the same experience, but it was something very similar. I chose your death and suddenly I knew what I wanted because I was going to lose it and I was devastated."

He shook his head slowly. "This is very hard for me to admit, and you know that. So please take this confession and this…reverberation of your feelings for me as sincerity. I think you need me and I need you. And I'll have you any way you'll allow me to."

I exhaled slowly as his thumbs started to caress the backs of my hands slowly and smoothly. He was right of course… I knew exactly how much that confession had taken from him. Sherlock Holmes lived a very unpredictable life filled with chaos and inconsistency. His solitude was his protection; it was much easier to remain stable in an unstable world when there was nothing to upset your balance. And yet…here he was, telling me that he was willing to surrender his seclusion even more than he already had. He'd opened to let me in as his friend and now he was going to give up even more so that I could be his…lover. It was the most profound and powerful realisation I've ever had and the most unselfish and courageous act I'd ever witnessed.

So when I leaned down to connect my lips with his, I poured every ounce of gratitude and faith I possessed into it. Our kiss was a slow and luxuriating give-and-take and I felt him melt beneath me as surely as I was dissolving under his touch. His hands latched behind my neck and mine found his soft curls. There was nothing else in the world except for him and me and our lips meeting in undisputed trust and devotion. Everything we were was in that kiss and that kiss was everything that was us. When the first ended, we slipped seamlessly into the next one as expertly as old lovers. We were a perfect harmony… an echo of matched hearts and souls.

We slept in my bed that night as the physical exhaustion of the past 40-odd hours plus the sheer emotional fatigue began to overtake us. As sleep began to take me, I felt something in my brain snick quietly into place as Sherlock wrapped his long arms around me and buried his face in my hair. As I held his hands around my chest, a dreamlike peace overtook me and that night I dreamed only in pastel shades of gold and green.

Step seven, reverberation, was complete.


Well...that's all for this fic, folks. I hope the chapter above was still within character enough. I like to believe that Sherlock is actually a very passionate creature... when he gets involved in things, he goes in with his whole being, whether it's being a detective or a scientist or an irritating git. I thought he would naturally gravitate towards a wholehearted reverberation, even if it scared and confused him. I have a friend who is like Sherlock in the way that he is irritating, arrogant, and flabbergasting. But when he's not being an ass...he's the sweetest and most generous and respectful person. There's no grey area...just black and white, and I think that's kinda how Sherlock operates too.

Thank you so much for following along with this story... the support has been so intensely awesome. :) Here's the part where I shamelessly promote my other stories and the new ones that I'm currently working on (should be posting the first chapter of a "Five Times..." saga today!).

Please don't drink and drive or ride with people who drink and drive because... you can die that way. Please make responsible choices this weekend so that you stay safe and get home to your loved ones safe and sound, and whatever you do...have a kickass weekend. :)

Thank you again. :)