"Hey, come to bed," John said quietly in the almost dark of the kitchen where Sherlock sat slumped over his microscope.
"Can't. Experiment," Sherlock said absently without looking up. He was wearing only his dressing gown over a shirt and pants and even though it was almost summer, it was quite cold in the kitchen that night. As Sherlock had the tendency to sit unmoving for hours when he was watching for a reaction under the lens John knew he would be stiff from cold and immobility by the time he finished. John sighed.
He stepped towards him and stopped only when he was directly behind Sherlock. Only hesitating shortly he closed his arms around the sitting man's chest and rested his head on his shoulder, turned to look at the living room. Sherlock tensed only a little but didn't move otherwise.
"What are you doing?" he asked with the barest hint of warning in his voice.
"Keeping you warm," John sighed contentedly. It wasn't the most comfortable position, but it was nice, nonetheless.
"Why are you doing that?" John shrugged half-heartedly.
"Dunno. You seemed cold."
"Doesn't matter." John wouldn't let himself be put off and Sherlock chose to ignore him. They spent more than twenty minutes like that before Sherlock let himself be dragged to bed. By that time his muscles ached but he would rather have died than admit that John's body warmth was more welcome than a hundred hot water bottles. He always so gloated over such things.
Sometimes John woke up in the middle of the night without a reason. It wasn't a nightmare, it wasn't Sherlock, it wasn't something in the room and yet he lay awake when a minute ago he had been under. It was one of those nights.
Above him, Sherlock was awake, too. Their positions in the bed had changed since they'd fallen asleep, instead of behind him, his partner was now draped over John with his head cushioned on his shoulder. John raised his hand and let his fingers card through the man's soft, dark curls, his fingers danced on the skin and Sherlock began humming quietly. A wave of almost unbearable affection washed over him at the sound. John inclined his head and put a light kiss to the part of Sherlock's head he could reach.
"Are you very awake? John whispered in the night.
"Hmmh," Sherlock hummed.
"Wanna make out?" Sherlock raised his head and his eyes gleamed in the dark.
"Always," he smirked and crawled up to take John's lips with his.
"When did you realise you loved me?" Sherlock asked. John contemplated the question.
"I don't know. About a year in? Sometimes I would look at you and think 'Christ, I really love that man'," he said pondering.
"A year? Why didn't you say something?"
John shrugged. "It's not exactly something you just spring on a bloke. 'Can you please buy milk, oh, and by the way, I love you and we're also out of tea'." He searched Sherlock's face attentively. "I think what you wanted to ask is when did I realise I was attracted to you. I didn't pine for you, you know?"
"Is there a difference?" Sherlock truly didn't know.
"Oh yes. You can love someone without being attracted to them, and you can be attracted to someone without loving them." Sherlock thought about it for a minute, surely trying to make out the different dates for himself.
"So? When did you realise that?" he asked after.
"I don't remember the exact occasion. It was sometime after we started sleeping together and before we started cuddling. But when we first that did that, I thought, yes, I would shag that." John laughed. Sherlock shook his head. "What about you, then?" John asked.
"Attraction, the first night." John gulped, Sherlock overlooked it. "'Shag that', as you put it, while I was gone." He hesitated. "Love... I'm still not sure about that." John felt now was the time for probing.
"What do you feel for me, then?"
"I don't know. I looked it up, I tried to find a word for it, but there is none," Sherlock said frustrated with the dictionary for failing him. "I loved my grandmother and on his good days, which means when I haven't seen him for weeks and he is also on the Continent, I might even love my brother or something akin to it." John grinned. He had always known the Holmes brothers secretly loved each other. Sherlock continued, "But you... you're so much more than that. You are the most important person, thing or otherwise in my life and without you it is inconceivable. I missed my grandmother after she died, but I'm sure I wouldn't survive an hour if I lost you." He trailed off. John put his hand around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
"What you just described? That is love, you idiot," he said fondly.
"No that can't be. It feels completely different."
"Okay. Then why don't we say, you love me and you like Mycroft?"
"I don't like Mycroft. I hate him." John sniggered.
"Alright. Then, you love me and you liked your grandmother and Mrs Hudson and you tolerate Mycroft." They leaned their foreheads against each other's.
"I suppose I could say that," Sherlock conceded and kissed him once more.
"I love you," John said.
"I love you as well," Sherlock answered. And, after another minute, "If Mycroft ever finds out I said that, I won't waste time finding his source. I will come straight for you."
Out of nowhere John started giggling. Sherlock turned to him, amused and a little confused.
"What's so funny?" he asked. John tried to catch his breath.
"Lestrade," he gasped. Sherlock screwed up his face.
"What about him?"
"He, he, he," John dried his eyes. "He asked me how you were," he finally got out and started laughing again.
"How I was?"
"But, his face, you should've seen his face." It took John a while to regain his composure. "He meant, how you are in a relationship, but the *way* he said it, it sounded like he wanted to know how you are in bed and I pointed that out and then he, he blushed and was all embarrassed. He blushed, Sherlock!" John emphasised the word because he felt Sherlock didn't treat it with the ridicule the notion deserved.
"And I, I didn't laugh at him, not right away, and he was so uncomfortable. Hah," he breathed out. "It was divine. Truly divine. I will mock him for the rest of my life for that." John seemed pleased with himself. Sherlock studied his profile on the pillow next to him. He didn't understand what was so funny about it, but it made John inexplicably happy, and that made Sherlock happy. He smiled.
Sherlock dragged him around the corner of the house, out of sight of the police. Stepping into his personal space, he bent John over backwards and kissed him fervently. John just had time to grab hold of Sherlock's scarf and clung to it like his life depended on it, as Sherlock took possession of his mouth.
His hand slid under John's shirt, because Sherlock always needed the skin contact. His thumbs pressed into his hips and his fingers clawed him closer. John shivered but it wasn't for the cold air on his lower abdomen.
"What else," Sherlock said into his mouth.
"Marvellous," John breathed.
"More, " demanded Sherlock.
"You're incredible. Breathtaking." They kissed for a couple of seconds longer, the sound of wet kisses filling the air around them.
"More," Sherlock asked again.
"Outstanding. Spectacular. Astonishing," John had to stop when Sherlock sucked on his tongue. Sherlock bent ever forward and his hands crept higher on John's back. His belly was exposed to the world and they were in the open, a fact they were reminded of when they heard Donovan's voice close by.
"Oi! Stop it! There are people around," she yelled at them. Sherlock tore himself from John's mouth reluctantly but kept his hands over his kidneys and their crotches pressed together. John wasn't sure he could keep calm if he looked at her so he didn't bother turning his head. He used the pause to catch his breath.
"Piss off! We're not fucking, this isn't outraging public decency," Sherlock said ugly. Donovan scowled at him. They threw insults around some more and then she left them be. Sherlock crowded John against the wall behind them and reached for his zip.
"I thought we weren't fucking," John said alarmed. It was the middle of the day and very bright out and the police was just some metres away.
"I lied," Sherlock said, took his mouth again and shoved his hand into his pants.
Most of the things they talked about they talked about in bed with the lights out.
"You've once said we're doing things backwards," Sherlock said one time. "Do you still feel this way? Do you think there's something missing?" John furrowed his brow.
"I still believe we did. But there isn't anything missing, no," he replied. Sherlock kept silent, only his hand moving about John's belly betrayed his flustered thinking. "Why, do you think there's something missing?" John asked after a while.
"I still believe we should get married." It took some time for Sherlock to answer and John swallowed around a sudden lump in his throat. They hadn't addressed the issue after the first time.
"For tax reasons?" he asked cautiously when he felt he could trust his voice again. Sherlock snorted derisively.
"That was never the reason," he said condescendingly.
"Then, because you don't want to introduce me as your partner?" There was something in the pair of them that made people believe that when they said 'partner', they meant they worked together. It was only after strangers had spent some time in their company that they realised they were a couple. It took most people less than five minutes, but still, those few minutes always agitated Sherlock.
"I admit that is a reason, but no, not what I meant either," Sherlock said. John was very silent. Carefully he thought of other reasons why Sherlock would want to get married but he always came back to the one. John didn't dare voice it, fearing he might be wrong and getting his hopes up only to see them crashed again.
Sherlock's hand drew circles on his belly until it came to a stop on John's left one. His fingers inched for John's ring finger and touched down where a ring would sit. He kissed him on the shoulder, pressing his warm body against John's back.
"Don't you think we should?" he asked quietly, "Do it?" He almost sounded fearful. John turned around in his arms and studied his face. Sherlock looked so sincere and a little afraid.
"Yes," John said with his voice strong and kissed him.
That's all, folks.
Thank you for making it so far. I know this story isn't as good as it deserved to be, but I gave it my all. I could write so much more here, but I don't want to bore you. If you're interested, I wrote a post about writing this story on my tumblr, you can find it at yesilian dot tumblr dot com