A/N: For Keri, who got me into writing songifcs again. Teenlock. Unilock.
Set to Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved," found here (in a lovely fanvid set to a hentai anime called Teacher's Pet): you tube [dotcom] /watch?v=6RYXdftAZa8
They had been friends for a few months now. Both relatively new to the campus. Sherlock a first year, John a recent transfer student in his third year.
John had always felt a pull to the lost and wounded and Sherlock was definitely both. He was physically fine, if on the desperately, perhaps worryingly, skinny side. But this boy was as broken as John had ever seen anyone.
Despite that, Sherlock was endlessly fascinating. The way he could read people, deduce their whole life's story from such seemingly insignificant things. It hadn't necessarily made him many friends (and John would be surprised if he could name any besides himself), but it did make people envy him his intelligence.
Then of course there was Sherlock's boyfriend, second year Victor Trevor. John wasn't a fan. He still had yet to understand why Sherlock was even with Trevor. The guy was an arse. And Sherlock was entirely too brilliant, too observant, to have missed this glaring fact.
John drove to Sherlock's off campus apartment. Technically, freshmen were supposed to be housed on campus, but John had been duly informed that Sherlock's high and mighty brother had dealt with issues of national security. Handling the small matter of housing had been the work of moments.
Sherlock wasn't happy about being in his brother's debt over it, but he took on owing him a favour over having to deal with dormitory mates, or more horribly, a roommate, on any consistent basis.
John parked in the lot and trekked up the familiar steps. He had made quite a habit of coming over here to visit Sherlock when the dorms got to be too much even for him. He heard Trevor's voice drifting out of Sherlock's open door and promised himself that he would remain civil today, for Sherlock's sake. It was no secret that John and Trevor did not get on.
"...Look babe, I'm sorry. We'll reschedule. Tomorrow. I promise."
John was in time to see Trevor backing toward the door making gestures in the air as he made his excuses for breaking whatever planned activity they had had. Again.
"Of course," Sherlock said, sporting the most forced, fakest smile John had ever encountered.
But not unfamiliar. Frankly, that smile appeared far too frequently in situations where Trevor was concerned.
It wasn't a big smile. Sherlock didn't tend to do large gestures of emotion. His lips were only partially slanted upwards, but the point was the same.
"Great!" Trevor said, flashing his own dazzlingly poisonous smile before dashing out of the door and heading down the steps with barely a grunted "Watson" to acknowledge John. John hadn't bothered answering.
Sherlock's efforts were immediately abandoned and his lips tipped down into a slight frown. Also familiar. Sherlock never kept up the attempt to look content once Trevor was no longer present. The pretence was pointless on John.
"Why do you put up with that?" John asked into the silence left over after Victor's departure.
"Please close the door, John," Sherlock said as he turned and walked further into his flat, ignoring John's question entirely. It was an old argument.
He plopped down onto his sofa and John sat in his favourite chair. He'd let the topic drop. Again. He never got much out of Sherlock on it, anyway. And he'd long ago realised it was a waste of whatever time he had with Sherlock to discuss Trevor.
The conversation was easy when they'd moved on to safer topics. The conversation was always easy between them (unless they were discussing Trevor). Natural. Something about their friendship just fit. John always wondered why that was. But he'd accepted it and stopped questioning a good thing.
John was in class when he received a text from Sherlock.
John shot a fast look at his professor before looking at it, but the man was droning on as usual.
Another quick look before responding.
I'm in class.
John cursed silently. Knowing Sherlock, he could have hurt himself doing one of his mad experiments and be bleeding out on the floor, or he could be out of reach of the remote control and want John to hand it to him.
John hesitated and debated. He could skip out on the rest of his lessons. Not that he didn't need them, but perhaps Sherlock needed him more?
A look at the clock told John there were only 30 minutes left of the lecture. He could get the remaining notes from a mate. He packed up swiftly and made his way out of the classroom and building and on the way to his car. He really hoped he hadn't just skived off his lesson to go on a milk run for the lazy git.
He got to Sherlock's flat and let himself in with the key Sherlock had given him a month or so ago. It was only practical, Sherlock had noted, with the amount of time John had spent in residence. John suspected it was so Sherlock wasn't arsed to get off the couch whenever John showed up at the door.
Which is of course where John found him, sprawled and looking quite whole and unharmed.
"Alright, I'm here. What was the rush?" John asked him.
"Bored," was all Sherlock replied.
John rolled his eyes heavenward and maligned both himself and Sherlock in several colourful ways in his head. Of course he'd left his lessons just to entertain the tosser.
"And this couldn't have waited until after I got out of class?" John asked him when he had finished his silent abuse.
Sherlock made some negative humming sound in his throat before throwing his legs over the side of the couch and facing John.
"There are things to be done, John!" he said. "Now you're here, there are any numbers of experiments that can be completed!"
John let the boy rant at him about this experiment or that without really listening. He wouldn't have understood anyway. John briefly considered going back across town to attend his later lectures, but looking at Sherlock, how animated he was, how enthused about whatever he was going on about, John felt that pull again. That alluring whatever it was that had drawn him to Sherlock in the first place. He knew, like he'd known so many times before, that he wouldn't leave him. John smiled to himself at his own weakness and tuned back in.
"...and we can test the reaction when we add the catalyst," Sherlock beamed.
A real smile. All of his smiles were real when he discussed his experiments.
John was privy to a great many variations on Sherlock's smiles. His science smile. His annoyed smile. His tolerant smile. His losing patience smile before his impatient huff.
His Victor smile. That strained number that John often wondered if it actually hurt to produce.
His John smile. That one was a marvel. Open and easy and held all the potential to turn into his annoyed or tolerant or borderline impatient smiles.
"Lead the way," John said, not even attempting to remark on whatever Sherlock had just talked himself into a tizzy about. He just let him lead. They both knew John would follow.
John awoke to the sound of tapping on his window. A check of his bedside alarm told him it was 2a.m.
"Bloody hell," he moaned.
He didn't get up. He knew bloody well who it was and the boy deserved to stand outside for another minute or so for waking John at such an ungodly hour. He had lessons in the morning.
The tapping continued, more insistently this time. John sighed before rolling himself out of bed. Luckily, John didn't have a roommate. He had been fortunate enough to get space in the dorm that had suites and single rooms with a small common room and bathrooms shared only between two people.
He approached the window and opened it to let Sherlock in.
"Why are you here at 2a.m.?" John asked him, his voice gruff from sleep.
Sherlock failed to answer but climbed through the window all the same. He was just lucky John had a first floor bedroom. Not that John in any way doubted that Sherlock would still have figured out how to sneak into his room had he been on the fifth floor.
John started to question him further until he turned on his bedside light and saw Sherlock's face. While free of tears now, it was obvious the boy had been crying recently.
Very rare occurrence. John could only recall once, in the several months they'd known each other and copious amount of time they'd spent together since, Sherlock shedding a tear. That had been when he'd gotten the news that his paternal great grandfather had died.
Now, as then, John wasn't sure how to console him. Especially since he didn't know what was wrong now. It had taken him ages to get Sherlock to open up about his great grandfather, a man he had apparently been very close to. The only thing that had worked then was John holding him until he found the strength to stand on his own again.
John opened his arms and Sherlock stepped into them without a word, wrapping himself around John and hopefully finding whatever it was he needed in the embrace.
His fingers dug into John's back and John happily accepted the sting if it took even a little of the pain Sherlock was feeling onto himself.
John manoeuvred them to sitting on his bed and used the remote to flip on the telly. They watched crap telly like only the very early hours of the morning could produce until Sherlock fell asleep with his head in John's lap and John's hand still from where it had been carding through his hair.
When John awoke, Sherlock was gone.
John was in the library studying for an upcoming exam when he saw Victor chatting up some girl across the room. Flirting. He was flirting. John knew flirting, and Victor was definitely flirting with the pretty red head seated across from him twirling her hair between her fingers and licking her lips as she watched him. His casual touch to her arm and roaming eyes and predatory smile were not the signs of a harmless chat.
John told Sherlock. Why wouldn't he? He had no reason to protect Victor and every one to want the douche out of Sherlock's life.
Sherlock wouldn't listen to him. What's more, Sherlock got angry at him! As if he was the reason his scum of a boyfriend had wandering attentions. Or that John had hurt Sherlock by delivering the news of this very predictable outcome.
They didn't speak for a week.
It was raining torrents and John was bloody soaked. He was racing back to his dorm after his last class of the week.
John found Sherlock standing outside his building waiting for him, indifferent to the rain pelting him. John came up to him and remained quiet. He refused to be the one to break their silence. He hadn't initiated it and he had nothing to apologise for.
Sherlock forced his face into some semblance of a smile. His Victor smile. Shit. John led the way to his room without further ado.
"So it's over," Sherlock finally confessed once John had let him shower and into some of John's dry clothes, huge on him despite his height.
"I still don't know why it began," John said bluntly.
If they were still in the middle of a row, he might as well get all his opinions off his chest. Not that he wasn't happy it was over between Sherlock and Trevor. Majorly overdue.
Sherlock looked away from him before speaking in a voice so low, so inherently broken, that John immediately wanted to reach out to him.
"You don't understand," Sherlock began. "He wanted me. For some reason. I never did figure it out. But do you appreciate how rare of an occurrence that is, John?"
John was speechless. How could he respond?
"I am not a well-liked person," Sherlock said with a self-deprecating smile. "I have never had friends for long, let alone anyone that wanted to attach themselves to me romantically."
He looked at John for a moment.
"You are an anomaly in the first department."
John fought the urge to say he could be one in the second, as well.
It wasn't a surprising thought. He knew he was attracted to Sherlock. Might have been half the reason he put up with his shite.
But now was not the time to push his possibly unwanted attentions on his friend.
John decided to skip all the emotional hurdles presented before him currently and focus on something Sherlock could appreciate, something he was comfortable with: logic.
"You knew he was cheating on you."
"I suspected. Too many broken dates. Too many obvious lies. Had it confirmed two weeks ago. Lipstick." His eyes rolled. "Such an obvious giveaway."
"That's the night you came to my room at 2.a.m.?"
"And yet you stayed with him for two more weeks?" John asked, confused.
"Denial is a very powerful thing, John. I wanted so badly for just one emotional attachment I had made to work out, to not come falling down around me. I ignored the signs."
"Hard to ignore some girl's lipstick on your boyfriend," John sneered. Partly at Sherlock being so weak, but mostly in disgust at Victor. His actions, his personality, just the man himself. But especially for him hurting Sherlock.
"Also hard to ignore it when said boyfriend is caught engaging in extra relationship activities. I did not take it well when you told me. I apologise for that."
John shrugged it off as if their lack of communication over the past week hadn't seen solely based on that reaction. It was done.
"You made it impossible for me to turn a blind eye any longer. I confronted him. He didn't even try to deny it."
"So you ended it," John stated. Not quite a question, but a confirmation wouldn't go amiss.
"I didn't see the point anymore."
"It was about time."
John could not, would not, pretend regret for the ending of a relationship that was toxic to begin with. Trevor was never what Sherlock had needed.
Besides, Sherlock wouldn't have believed him anyway had he tried to be sympathetic, as would be appropriate in almost any other situation.
As it was, Sherlock just smirked at him and they moved on to better subjects. Discussing Trevor always was a waste of time.
By the time Sherlock was preparing to go, still wearing John's clothes (which John was already saying his goodbyes to. Whenever his things made their way to Sherlock's flat, they always mysteriously vanished.), John was gearing himself up for his offer.
"If you ever need to, you know, talk... about anything, I'm here."
He felt, and no doubt looked, supremely awkward. Emotions were things he rarely had to deal with with Sherlock. But still, he meant what he said.
"My door, and my window," he tried for a bit of levity, "are always open. Come anytime you want."
Sherlock just looked at him a minute. That piercing stare that captured all of John's minutiae raking over him. John shuffled his feet, feeling more awkward were it possible. Then Sherlock looked him in the eye and smiled his John smile before loping off and disappearing down the corridor without another word.
John sat on Sherlock's couch as Sherlock flit back and forth across the flat, in the midst of some experiment. John was working on schoolwork. You know, the things he actually had to turn in to receive a grade. He rarely caught Sherlock engaging in such activities.
"How are your marks right now?" John asked him.
It really wouldn't do for him to be failing, friends in high places or not.
"I have perfect marks in all of my classes," Sherlock responded without looking at John, taking almost none of his attention off the beaker bubbling on his kitchen counter.
John was surprised.
"But you hardly ever go to class," he noted.
"I didn't say my attendance record wasn't lacking."
John didn't respond, wondering how the two coincided.
Sherlock actually looked at him a moment.
"John, it cannot surprise you that I am passing all of my classes. You must know that I am only in this level of classes by choice. I could very easily be a senior right now, if not already in possession of my degree."
John stared at Sherlock across the room. He'd never thought of it, but yes, he could very easily see Sherlock at a level higher than his own. Sherlock was brilliant. So why was he condescending to being a freshman?
Sherlock sighed before answering John's unspoken thoughts.
"John, I am already considered an outsider among my own age group. Can you imagine how much more that gap would stretch were I to be taking the senior level courses, and surpassing everyone in the class, as we both know I would? This was a solution advised by my sixth form guidance counsellors. My parents agreed. Here I am. It was an attempt to better fit in. Apparently that is a recommended course of action."
This, John could also see. Sherlock was indeed an outsider. The time he didn't spend with his experiments (and apparently breezing through his coursework) seemed to be solely spent with John now that Trevor was (thankfully) out of the picture.
John looked down at his own homework. He wasn't exactly struggling with it, but it'd likely take him another few hours yet.
"I could help you," Sherlock noted from the kitchen.
A look at him confirmed he was once more absorbed in his own devices, his minimal attention spared for John.
John supposed he could use the help, to make the task go faster, but what did Sherlock know of the endocrine system?
Sherlock flounced over and behind the couch and started looking at John's assignment over his shoulder.
"The answer to number 5 is B," he said.
John looked down at it. B was a feasible answer. A quick check and yes, 5 was definitely B.
"6 is D and 7 is A," Sherlock noted with nary a pause.
A few more checks and yes, Sherlock was exactly right.
John had just gotten himself a new study buddy.
They sat on Sherlock's couch, Sherlock's head pillowed on John's shoulder. Sherlock had gotten much more comfortable being physically close to John since his split with Trevor. John didn't mind. He wanted to get closer to Sherlock, too. But he didn't push anything. This could well be Sherlock just needing contact to replace that which he'd lost with Trevor. Still, it was nice to be needed.
John ran his fingers through Sherlock's hair. It was something he'd taken to without any real intention. His fingers drifted there automatically now. He suspected Sherlock's locks had some manner of magnetic pull that John's hands couldn't help but respond to. Not unlike the rest of Sherlock that drew at John and kept him coming back again and again.
They were watching a James Bond movie. One of John's favourites. Sherlock tolerated it as a stipulation of John's continued company.
Sherlock's phone sounded the new text alert and Sherlock read it and put his phone back down without responding.
John lifted an eyebrow in question.
"Mycroft," was Sherlock's simple answer.
Ah, the infamous older brother. John had heard little and seen none of the elusive figure. Sherlock assured him they were both better off that way.
"What'd he want?" John asked.
They drifted back to silence after that and continued watching their movie.
It was a quiet rest of the night.
John unlocked the door of his dorm room and walked in only to be confronted with a man standing in the centre of his room, leaning on an umbrella.
"Jes-," John started, backing out of the room somewhat.
"Please, Mr. Watson, do come in and close the door," the man said.
John was instantly on alert. It had been years since he'd been the fighting type, but he was sure he could take the posh man before him if it came to it.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
The man gestured for John to come further into the room. Not bloody likely. The man could obviously see this decision in John's face and stance. He sighed but continued.
"What is your relationship to Sherlock Holmes?"
John blinked. This man wanted to question him about Sherlock?
"And who are you?" he demanded again.
"An interested party," the man replied.
John raised an eyebrow. Like he was going to give anyone any kind of information without reason, let alone this man who revealed nothing about himself or his own relationship to Sherlock.
"You've come to the wrong person for information," John told him. "Now, get out of my room."
It was the man's turn to lift an eyebrow, his expression somewhere between incredulous and curious.
"What if I made you an offer?" he proposed.
"Not interested," John answered.
"I haven't even named terms or conditions," the posh bastard said.
"Doesn't matter," John assured him.
"I would only need you to keep an eye on him and periodically keep me informed of his activities. I assure you you would be handsomely compensated."
"Get out," John repeated.
He was getting more than annoyed at this point. Who did this man think he was?
The man tipped his head to the side contemplatively.
"You're very protective of him."
John didn't respond.
The man gave a small smirk, oddly reminiscent of Sherlock's own, before departing the room.
"Until next time, Doctor Watson," was his parting reply.
John wondered how the man knew what profession he intended to go into, but pushed it back with such questions as who he was and how he'd gotten into John's room in the first place.
"I met a friend of yours," John told Sherlock the next day when they were in John's room.
He was gathering clothes to take with him to Sherlock's flat. They were planning another all-nighter. He spent an inordinate amount of time over there as it was. Might as well have a few things handy. Hopefully they, too, wouldn't get lost in the black hole that was Sherlock's space.
"A friend?" Sherlock queried.
It was kind of sad that even his expression looked sceptical.
"Well, not so much a friend, per se. I'd think more like a stalker. He described himself as 'an interested party.'"
"Oh, him," Sherlock said, his expression clearing as if all had been set right in his world again.
"Don't worry about him. He's no one," Sherlock added.
"So you know him?" John asked.
Maybe the man was a stalker.
"Did he offer you money to spy on me?" Sherlock enquired, ignoring John's question.
John's eyebrow rose. This was clearly something Sherlock was used to.
"You didn't take it." Statement, not question.
"Shame, we could have split the money."
"Who is he?"
"That fatty is my brother, Mycroft."
Both of John's eyebrows rose into his hairline at the surprise of that one.
"That was Mycroft? Why would he offer me money to spy on you?"
"Because he's an interfering git. Also, he was testing you."
John's brow furrowed with confusion with that titbit. Why would he need testing?
"Don't worry yourself about it, John. He is of no importance. Now, are you finished packing?" Sherlock asked.
John glanced down at the clothes in his hands that he had completely forgotten about with the realisation that he had finally met the influential Mycroft Holmes.
"Almost. Just, hang on a minute," he replied before going back to his packing.
Despite Sherlock's directive, John thought about his brother quite awhile longer.
John was turning the air around him black with the confluence of curses coming out of his mouth. He didn't need this right now. He'd just gotten off the phone with Clara, his sister's long term on and off girlfriend. Off again now. For good this time, so Clara just informed him.
John was just informed he could pick up his (endlessly) drunken sister from Clara's flat across town.
Ironically, John could use a stiff drink himself right about now. Though he was more than of age to legally drink, alcohol had never been a favourite of John's. But one did not grow up in the household he and his sister did without taking a swig (and often much more where his father and Harry were concerned) now and again.
John thought about hitting the pub. Let Harry be Clara's problem for a little longer yet. John had had 20 years of her, 3 of which had seen Harry in little more than a drunken haze.
John drove to the pub, parked in the lot, and just sat in his car. He could go in there, have a drink, or more likely 2 or 3, and drown his issues with his sister in a lovely buzz. Or he could drive on and not chase issues with shots and lemon and maybe try to deal with what was his reality.
Drinking was not his vice. Gambling had always been John's problem. But drinking had never done him any favours, either.
John backed out of the lot and drove on, leaving both demons behind him.
John kept driving. He didn't have a destination. He'd decided he didn't want to go and get Harry from Clara's, despite Clara's insistent calls and texts. Harry was not John's responsibility. She was 26 years old, for crying out loud. Let her finally learn to take care of herself.
Not that John wanted Harry and Clara to split up. Clara was good for Harry. She could be a stabilizer, if Harry would ever let her. But both he and Clara had to stop babying Harry. Maybe she'd finally get herself up and start taking responsibility for her life.
John wasn't paying attention to where he was driving. Not that he was being overly reckless, but he was operating on autopilot. He didn't notice that he'd passed that same petrol station at least three times now.
When John finally stopped the car somewhere that wasn't a red light or a stop sign, he looked up and noticed he was at Sherlock's flat.
Figures. A mind in turmoil will seek a default, a safe mode, a safe place. All of John was safe here.
John walked up the steps and let himself into the flat.
Sherlock walked out of his bedroom at the sound of his door opening. He looked at John and John didn't flinch under his scrutiny. After about half a minute of neither of them saying anything, Sherlock just opened his arms and John got out a huff of a laugh before walking into them and being engulfed in a tight hug.
Sherlock lay sprawled in John's lap as they watched some nature show and Sherlock critiqued several facts the presenter made. John's hand occupied its customary spot in Sherlock's hair.
Despite Sherlock's height, and he had several centimetres on John, despite John's 2 year age advantage, Sherlock preferred to be hugged up to John's sturdier frame.
John sat and listened to Sherlock correct the telly and smiled as he stroked his hair. He was so much more than content right now. To go from wanting to get blissfully, forgetfully drunk to being happy listening to Sherlock talk at a national scientist marvelled John.
John bent down and kissed Sherlock's curls. He didn't do it on purpose, and John really should stop acting without thinking things through fully first, but he was spurred on to do it from the happy feelings inside him.
Sherlock stilled and ceased talking at the telly. John felt a moment of regret for the silence that followed when Sherlock's voice no longer filled the room and worry for what he might have just done to their friendship. He debated saying sorry even though he was anything but.
Sherlock turned in John's arms and met his gaze. There was silent communication there. John couldn't quite decipher what all was being said, nor did he quite know what of his feelings he was projecting back to Sherlock, but he could tell there was no rebuff in Sherlock's eyes. Nor was there a very great deal of surprise.
No, the surprise was almost all on John's part when Sherlock leaned up and placed his lips against John's.
It wasn't a hard kiss. Not even tentative, really. Hardly a kiss at all, to be honest. Just Sherlock's lips on John's and then gone as Sherlock relaxed back into John's loose embrace.
More silent communication. John finally understood.
Is this alright? Sherlock asked him.
John smiled and leaned down to press a harder, but still brief, kiss to Sherlock's lips in return.
More than alright. This is brilliant.
Those first two kisses led to full out snogs that led to hours being lost in the interim. When John finally saw a clock he jumped up, dislodging Sherlock from his lap. WAY past the time he'd meant to be out and about. He had a lab first thing in the morning and that was not a thing to miss.
He bent down to breeze one final kiss to Sherlock's now plump lips before departing.
"I have to go," he said, looking around for anything he'd brought with him or wanted to take back to his dorm for now.
"Stay," Sherlock said, uncurling himself from the couch and walking backwards toward his bedroom with a hand outstretched for John.
A much better option than John's usual sleeping location on the couch.
And damned if lab wasn't looking pretty insignificant right then.
Amazingly, John actually made it to lab the next day, even if he was a few minutes late. He supposed he could credit it to not being worn out from sex. His night with Sherlock, even sleeping in the same bed, had hardly been sexual. Hearty snogging, a bit of wandering hands, but it was mostly just the two of them being wrapped around each other, a natural progression from how physically close they'd been getting in the past weeks.
And, surprisingly, John was okay with that. He found he didn't need a sexual relationship with Sherlock just yet. He was happy enough being accepted as a potential boyfriend to him for now.
John made his way to his dorm to change his books out during the short break he had between classes. He did not expect to see Mycroft waiting for him in his room again.
"Mycroft," he said, stepping into his room and closing the door this time, now unafraid of the man since he had placed a name and a purpose to him.
"Told you who I am, has he?" Mycroft looked pleasantly surprised.
"And reaffirmed your insignificance. What do you want?" John asked bluntly.
No sense beating around the bush. Frankly, he was on a schedule.
"The answer to the question I asked last time we met. What is your relationship to Sherlock Holmes?"
"Don't you think that should be between me and him? What's it to you anyway?"
"John, you know how it is to have to take care of one's sibling. Though I have seen you have stepped back from such a role where Harriet is concerned. I applaud you for that, actually. She would never recover so long as you and Miss Clara continue enabling her."
John stiffened before getting immediately on the defensive again.
"What do you know about my sister?" he asked with a narrow-eyed glare at the man opposite him.
"Come now, John. Surely you didn't think I would allow such a close relationship to my brother without having you thoroughly checked out."
Yes, John could see that. This was the interfering bit Sherlock had always whinged about Mycroft engaging in.
"And yet you let Trevor anywhere near him?" John demanded.
"Yes well," Mycroft let out the sigh of a thoroughly exasperated parent. "One can only do so much, though I did warn him against the alliance. But trust me, Mr. Trevor was also meticulously looked into. And though his personality and commitment traits leave much to be desired, there was nothing truly harmful in their connection."
"Nothing... Have you ever seen Sherlock cry, Mycroft?" John asked.
Now Mycroft was highly taken aback, like he'd never even considered the idea of Sherlock crying, as if such deep emotion to warrant tears was beyond his brother.
"Crying, Mr. Watson?" he clarified.
"Yes, Mycroft, crying. In the months I've known Sherlock, I've known him to have cried twice. Once, when he'd gotten word that your great grandfather had died, and I trust you had some inkling of how close the two were, and the second time when Sherlock had gotten proof that Trevor was being unfaithful to him. I assure you, that relationship was more than harmful, it was lethal! I tried talking to Sherlock about it for weeks. He never listened to me until I actually saw Trevor chatting up some girl in public. Then he stopped lying to himself, as he'd known weeks prior that Trevor was the bloody snake I'd been telling him he was all along.
"And why would Sherlock maintain a relationship he knew was not whole for two plus weeks after he'd had confirmation of his fears? Because he felt at least Trevor wanted him, if not only him. And why would he think a "love" like that was acceptable for him? That he didn't deserve someone that thought the sun and the moon and the whole damn universe, of which he knows surprisingly little, of him? I'm still trying to figure that out, but for some reason, my instinct is telling me to lay a hefty bit of the blame for that insecurity, that inferiority complex, on you. Your brother is broken, and who the hell is going to help fix him?
"Now I'm not saying I am what's best for Sherlock, but I'm a damn sight better than a lowlife Romeo that skips from playmate to playmate. At least I recognise how bloody brilliant your brother is and know how to appreciate the chance to actually be with him, have some of that intense passion and energy focussed on me. And now that I am, I'm not going to let you or Trevor or anyone make him feel inferior again. If he actually agrees to be mine, then he will be loved."
Mycroft was looking at him like he was a marvel for a moment, then his gaze sharpened into what John had heretofore thought was a Sherlockian, but now realised was a Holmesian, pierceness.
John's bedside clock caught his eye and he swore.
"If you'll excuse me, I'm late for class," he said before quickly swapping his books and leaving without further ado.
Mycroft let him go without a word.
Why did my brother just send me congratulations?-SH
They were snuggled together on Sherlock's couch. John had suggested they stay in his room for awhile after Sherlock had explained to him about Mycroft's bugs, but Sherlock had assured him John's place was likely as bugged as his own, perhaps more so since Sherlock frequently debugged his flat.
"How did he know our relationship had changed?" John had asked.
It was the only logical reason Mycroft had shown up in his room again. The timing was too close to be coincidence.
"Mycroft is always watching," Sherlock had told him with a roll of his eyes. "No matter how many times I debug the place."
"Bugs?" John's eyes had bugged then.
"My brother does not like being uninformed, John."
They'd decided to stay at Sherlock's place. It was just more comfortable. If Mycroft was going to be watching them wherever they went, they might as well not be too put out by it.
"I say we give him a show," Sherlock said with that mischievous twinkle in his eye.
It wasn't an expression John saw too often. Sherlock could have his moments, but the devil wasn't in him too much.
He smiled his own wolfish grin at the suggestion. A show was just what Mycroft deserved.
Sherlock attacked his mouth. A brutal snog with nipped and pulled lips and battling tongues and bites that were sure to leave bruises soon.
But somewhere in the midst of all that it changed, became less a show for Mycroft, more a personal exploration.
Fingers tracing cheekbones, lips gliding across jaw lines, tongues tasting the sensitive skin of the throat. The heated passion had cooled down to a sensual quest. Learn your lover's everything. Map their moans and discover their desires. Seek what makes them shiver. Touch and taste and watch their eyes widen and darken.
Some part of John's brain was spared to hope that if Mycroft had been watching at first that he'd turned away now. With the way things were going, he was in for quite an eyeful in the very near future.
John pulled Sherlock to him and Sherlock buried his face in John's chest. John let his hands wander. Hair, neck, shoulders, back, hips. He ghosted one hand over Sherlock's arse and let the other seek out Sherlock's very pressing erection.
Sherlock stiffened and John stilled immediately.
Sherlock didn't move or speak, didn't rebuff John's touch any further, but John wasn't going to make any more moves when Sherlock clearly wasn't comfortable with them.
John retracted his hands and took Sherlock by the shoulders to gently extract him from John's chest. Sherlock kept his face down, refusing to meet John's eyes, but didn't fight it when John took him by the chin to lift his face.
The lust in his eyes was dulled, but still there. John ignored that and focussed on the wariness that was overriding his physical desires.
"John, I'm sorry. I want to, but I can't. Not yet. I'm sorry," Sherlock stammered.
"Hey, that's alright," John assured him, allowing Sherlock to bury himself back against John's chest. "That's alright."
John felt Sherlock wrap his arms around him and tightened his own embrace as well before letting one hand stroke Sherlock's back and the other take on its familiar task of carding through Sherlock's hair.
John hummed. Some half remembered tune his mother used to sing to him whenever he couldn't get to sleep as a boy and needed relaxing. He hummed and he stroked and he carded and Sherlock just held on.
They talked about Sherlock's reaction in spurts. Yes, he was still a virgin, but not for lack of opportunity. Victor had wanted it, had pressed Sherlock for it, but Sherlock had never felt right about it. John was glad some large part of Sherlock recognised that Victor was not a worthy candidate to give oneself to, especially as a first time.
John vowed to himself to be extra careful with Sherlock now. He hadn't dealt with a virgin since he was one himself a few years ago. Not that his partners were promiscuous; they just weren't first timers.
John was fine with taking it slow. Sherlock was precious to him, well worth the wait. If his lust got a bit away from him, well, he knew how to take the problem well in hand.
Sherlock confided his fear that his refusal to capitulate was the reason Victor had strayed, fretted that John would do the same. John assured him that not only was Victor cheating scum, not worthy of any of what he'd had of Sherlock, let alone more, but that John himself was nothing if not patient and actually cared about Sherlock enough to wait if that's what Sherlock needed from him.
He could see the relief in Sherlock's gaze when he said this. Could tell that Sherlock believed him.
Having Sherlock, having all of him, was worth a few uncomfortable nights.
It took a few weeks, and more than a few uncomfortable nights, but Sherlock finally got used to touching and being touched.
Sherlock ran his hands over John's body. John tried not to arch into the touch too much. He was just so bloody ready. He'd taken to taking himself in hand, on several occasions, but it was such a poor substitute for this, even without a satisfying end.
Sherlock's hands ghosted over the spot that transitioned John's stomach to his waist and John jerked. He couldn't help it. It was one of his erogenous zones, of which Sherlock was more than aware and had used the knowledge with a vengeance.
John tried to lie still, despite his harsh breathing and how on edge he was. He'd agreed to let Sherlock be in charge tonight.
But if the brat was going to play cock tease with him again, John was going to have to do something about it.
Sherlock's fingers drifted lower. John breathed in sharply, let it stutter out. It was a whisper of feel, really, Sherlock's hand on his cock. There was almost no pressure as Sherlock dragged his fingers up and down John's length.
John dug his fingers into the covers of Sherlock's bed rather than put them where they wanted to go- on top of Sherlock's to guide him to press harder, go faster, grip, not ghost.
But Sherlock knew what he was doing. Had learned all the ways to make John suffer in their exploratory few weeks.
And John couldn't complain, really. Even this barely there feeling with clothes as a chastity belt had become so much more than what he could give himself. He'd take the tease if it was all he could get.
When Sherlock's hand wrapped around what it could of John, John did another gasp and stutter. Sherlock pumped, working to get John off and John couldn't help the small thrusting his hips were doing to help the process along, wishing fervently that the clothes between Sherlock's hand and his own skin would vanish.
The orgasm that eventually tore through John had him cutting off a high pitched keen. It was an explosion for all the build up it had had. Sherlock stroked him through it, only stopping when John had been milked dry.
Then he cuddled his way onto John's chest, ignoring the erection John could feel pressed into his thigh as Sherlock sometimes did on the nights he didn't feel like being touched.
John gathered him closer and pressed a kiss to his curls.
If Sherlock could sleep with a raging hard on, John could sleep with cum cooling in his pants.
Sherlock had taken to spending a lot of time in the school's cadaver lab in the Bart's building. He had sweet talked the lab's graduate student, Molly, into letting him get away with all manner of things John was pretty sure wasn't allowed.
It never ceased to amaze John that despite Sherlock's seeming inability to maintain friendships, he had charm in spades to whip out and use at a moment's notice on whoever needed convincing to help Sherlock get his way.
Sometimes John joined him in the lab, but not too often. John wasn't uncomfortable around the dead, frankly he had to deal with them in his own medical training, but John was hoping to be a doctor to save lives, not surround himself with the deceased.
John thought it was a good thing that Sherlock was branching out, even if his experiments were getting a bit on the gross side since they started including human parts.
Still, John knew just where to find Sherlock if he wasn't home and failed to answer his phone.
They were fighting again. John couldn't quite remember why. But it resulted in harsh words and hurt feelings and slammed doors and walking away.
John didn't want to apologise. Too proud to admit that he was wrong, if he was wrong, which he didn't recall. He doubted it, though.
Still, he missed Sherlock. Hadn't seen him in the week and a half since they'd had the row. Considering they generally saw or talked to each other daily, this length of time and space between them was hell.
And John wasn't quite balanced, not quite whole at the moment. His chest was too light when he fell asleep. His room was too quiet without incessant droning on. There was no smell of rotting or burning flesh in the air from things nicked from Bart's. John was lonely.
He walked into Bart's and found Sherlock exactly where he'd expected to find him- with his eye pressed to a microscope and hand making notes in a pad.
"What are you doing here?" Sherlock asked him without lifting his head or stopping his pen.
Of course Sherlock knew it was him that walked through the door. Knew the sound of his footsteps or his breaths or something. Or maybe like John, Sherlock was in tune with him enough to know without doubt when they were in the same room.
John shuffled his feet, trying not to be awkward. He'd taken the first steps to reconciliation by coming here, after all. Sherlock could at least extend an olive branch.
"I came to see you," John told him.
"Why?" Sherlock's voice was a bit harsh, but John could detect the genuine surprise underneath.
"To fix whatever it is we broke."
John made sure to add that "we." Whatever they'd argued about, it wasn't solely his fault. And he wouldn't be the only one working to fix it.
"I wasn't aware there was a 'we' anymore, John," Sherlock said, finally lifting his face to peer at John.
John was gobsmacked.
"Not a... Did you break up with me?"
This, he had not seen coming. Had he, he'd have worked to fix things over a week ago.
"I was under the impression that you had broken up with me," Sherlock informed him.
His voice was level, his eyes clear and focussed, but John could detect the hurt he was trying to hide.
"That I-. NO! I did NOT break up with you," John assured him.
Sherlock merely lifted an eyebrow, no doubt citing the week and a half of no visits or communication between them as proof of John's abandonment.
"Jes-, Sherlock, we were in the middle of a row! All couples have their rows. Just because I gave us both time to calm down does not mean I was calling it quits. Hell, I don't even remember what I said, what we fought about!"
Sherlock looked like he knew exactly what John had said, what they'd fought about, and was about to remind John of every harsh word between them.
John almost laughed. Of course Sherlock knew. He knew everything. Kept all manner of things important and inconsequential in that Mind Palace of his.
John walked across the room and enveloped Sherlock in a hug. Sherlock kept facing his work as John held him from behind. Sherlock was a stiff, unyielding body in John's arms, not pushing him away or encouraging John to get closer.
"I'm sorry," John said, burying his face in Sherlock's back. "I didn't mean it."
He was pretty sure he had meant some of it, whatever it was. But he knew he didn't mean whatever vitriol had come spewing out that had finally forced him out the door and away from Sherlock for over a week. He didn't mean whatever he'd said that made Sherlock think John had left him.
"Relationships are not always rainbows and butterflies and successful experiments, Sherlock. Sometimes we have to compromise on things to move along, move ahead," he spoke into the back.
His words were a bit muffled, but he knew Sherlock would understand him.
"Compromise?" John felt rumble from the body in his arms.
"Yes, compromise. Like you agree not to bring your experiments to bed and I agree to let your decaying parts anywhere near our food," John said.
"They're not decaying, John. That's the point of putting them in the freezer. They would hardly be of use to me if I allowed them to continue rotting."
"Sherlock..." John said, squeezing the man in his arms to get him back on track.
"Compromise?..." Sherlock backpedalled.
"Compromise," John affirmed.
"You didn't leave me," Sherlock half asked, half stated.
"No, you daft git," John confirmed, squeezing Sherlock a bit more. "Why would I?"
John could practically hear Sherlock thinking in the silence that followed that question, no doubt coming up with numerous reasons why John would leave him, very likely coming from past experiences of why others had left him.
"Hey," John said, loosening his hold enough to step back and forcibly turn Sherlock around until John could look into his eyes. "I'm right here. I'm not going to leave you."
John could see the hesitance and partial acceptance in Sherlock's gaze. Then Sherlock buried his face into John's chest, his fingers curling tight into John's jumper as if he could keep John with him simply by holding on tight enough.
So much broken that needed fixing.
Sherlock was practically attached to John's hip for two weeks after they'd made up. John didn't mind. He'd missed having Sherlock in his space. They were getting back to equilibrium.
Heavy testing days were approaching and John could frankly use all the help he could get. His study groups with his classmates were nowhere near as beneficial as his tutoring sessions with Sherlock, even if too much time of those ended in snog sessions. Sherlock was just too haughty and condescending. John had to kiss all the smug out of him.
But the sessions paid off and John could not deny (as if Sherlock would let him) that Sherlock had played a major part in him getting as high marks as he did. And of course Sherlock's marks were spotless, despite his abysmal attendance record. He was lucky he didn't seem to have the kind of teachers that tested you on things you could only know if you'd attended class. John cursed his luck as he had precisely that kind of teachers.
Still, the spring term was going well.
That's why John was so confused when Sherlock began acting so withdrawn after midterms. It had begun as Sherlock being overly affectionate as he had been directly after their major row, like he was trying to make up for some affection he'd failed to give John, or reaffirm that John was still very present in his life. But it had soon morphed into Sherlock talking less, touching John infrequently and shying away when John tried to touch him, and just an overall vast decrease in his usually astronomical energy levels.
John didn't understand what the problem was, wondered if he'd done something to offend Sherlock or drive him away again. He couldn't think of anything, but that wasn't saying much.
"Sherlock, what's wrong?" he just bluntly asked one day.
Sherlock had barely said 5 words to him that day besides practically demanding they go to John's room when he would have taken them to Sherlock's flat by default.
Sherlock said nothing, stewing in his silence for a few minutes. John didn't disrupt it. If Sherlock needed time to get his words together, to actually plan the effect each option of word choice would have, as John knew he often did, then he could wait. Sherlock finally turned to John and the look in his eyes was both sad and determined. Wha?
"John, I think we should break up," he said.
John wasn't sure if the word actually came out of his mouth, but it was certainly ringing through his head. WHAT?
John was...not devastated. That could come later. John was... confused. What had brought this on?
He couldn't speak, couldn't wrap his lips and tongue around the million and one questions bouncing around in his head. Why? What had he done? Was Sherlock tired of him? Had he finally bored the mad genius, failed to be interesting any longer? What could he do or say to change it? What had gone wrong?
Nothing came out of John's mouth when he opened it, but he was sure all of his turmoil was more than reflected in his eyes. Sherlock answered none of the questions being silently hurled at him.
"I think it's for the best. We're just not right for each other. It never would have lasted, anyway. Goodbye, John," Sherlock said as he rose from John's bed and left the room without another word or backward glance.
John's unspoken pleas followed him out the door.
Lucky they had a break that following week because John was useless. He was numb.
He'd considered going to Sherlock's flat and demanding answers, considered fighting for what he wanted- for Sherlock, for them. But he didn't know what he was fighting against, didn't know what had gone wrong.
That first day after Sherlock had left John, a box of John's things from Sherlock's flat had arrived in his room. John hadn't touched them since he'd realised what they were. He could see that most of it was there- trousers and pants and his toothbrush and calculator and texts books, along with random personal items. His favourite jumper and a pair of socks were missing, but what was the point of asking for them back? He hoped they were lost so that a few pieces of him were still tucked up in Sherlock's flat when the man had given the rest of John, clothes and knickknacks and heart and all, back to John in a box.
The last thing that John wanted, that he needed, was Mycroft showing up in his room for the third time on the fourth day after Sherlock had left him.
"Well, Mr. Watson, these are certainly different circumstances than last we met under, aren't they?" Mycroft said.
"Go away, Mycroft."
John didn't have the energy to put any heat into the words. His tone was that of a defeated man.
"Tut. I didn't expect you to give him up so easily, John."
It was the first time Mycroft had called him by his given name. John couldn't even summon the necessary surprise to acknowledge the feat.
"He left me," John said, stating what they were both surely well aware of.
"And do you think that was a decision born of good judgement, that it's what he actually wanted?" Mycroft queried.
"Sherlock doesn't do anything he doesn't want to. You and I both know that," John said.
"True, he is a rather bull headed individual. But I think we can both name an exception or two, John, where he bent to your will rather than his own. You are his exception. Given this knowledge, we may assume that certain actions Sherlock has taken may not have been for his own benefit, but with someone else in mind."
They both let that statement hang in the air for a bit.
"Well, Mr. Watson, I must be going. Do think about what I've said, won't you?" Mycroft said as he made his way past John and toward the door.
"Oh, and I know there were a few items missing from your care package," he indicated the box of John's things from Sherlock's flat, still sitting on the floor where John had first found it. "You might be interested to know that Sherlock has taken to wearing nothing but an oversize jumper and pair of socks lately."
Mycroft wrinkled his nose a bit, showing his distaste for his brother's choice of attire over the last few days.
"Tata, now, John," he said before he disappeared.
John looked down at the box of his things, thinking of Sherlock not only keeping his jumper and socks but wearing nothing but them.
He left the flat immediately. He was going to figure out what this was about NOW.
He drove to Sherlock's flat and put his key into the lock.
"Go AWAY, Mycroft," he heard Sherlock shout from within.
"Not Mycroft," he said as he let himself in and closed the door.
John could see Sherlock's eyes bulge in surprise before he turned his head away, drawing his legs up to burrow them and feet clad in John's socks under John's jumper.
"What are you doing here, John?" Sherlock asked the far wall.
"I've come to figure out what the hell happened to us, why you thought you needed to leave me."
"I told you, we could have never worked out. I was just saving you the trouble of leaving me later."
"Is that what you think? That I was going to leave you?"
John walked over to the sofa and sat beside Sherlock. Sherlock flinched away from John's imminent touch and John tried not to feel stung at that.
"Of course you were going to leave," Sherlock spoke quietly to his lap. "Everyone leaves. I just got it out of the way before things got more serious and we both hurt more for it."
"Hey," John said, bringing Sherlock's face to his, despite Sherlock's flinch. "I thought we discussed this. I was not going to leave you. I thought you believed me. What convinced you otherwise?"
Sherlock looked off to the side, despite his face held firmly in John's grasp.
"Victor..." he hedged.
"Trevor?" John all but growled. "What does he have to do with us? I thought I'd made it clear I was nothing like him."
John might have been putting a bit more force on Sherlock's chin than he'd meant to, but he went from confused to definitely angry in all of no time. And maybe Sherlock deserved to feel that anger at even the thought of John being comparable to Trevor.
"He found me. At Bart's. I tried not to listen, but he had a point, John. No one ever stays with me. Why should you be the exception? I'm not enough to hold anyone's attention for long. It was over before it began, really. I just put an end to it before you would have."
John let go of Sherlock's face before he bruised it. When he saw Trevor, he was going to bruise him. Repeatedly.
"So you let the words of a snake into your head and poison you against us?" John spoke with deadly calm.
This was not the time to yell. It really wouldn't prove anything.
"Instead of giving us the chance to work, you decided it couldn't and chose to end it." Statement of fact.
"John," Sherlock began.
"No, Sherlock," John said, drawing Sherlock's hand from his lap and placing it against John's thrumming heartbeat.
"Do you feel that? That's you. My heart is full of you."
Sherlock's eyes widened again, but he said nothing.
"Do you know what it did to me when you said it was over? What I thought? I didn't feel like enough for you."
Sherlock's eyes widened further yet, a feat John didn't think was possible.
"You're not the only one with insecurities here, Sherlock. Do you realise how much boundless energy you have? How much you need constantly changing stimuli to keep you engaged? I am not a very difficult puzzle, Sherlock. How long until you solve me and get bored and move on?"
Sherlock opened his mouth as if to refute even the idea of it, but John cut him off.
"I know you get insecure sometimes, Sherlock. But so do I. But that doesn't matter. This matters," John said, pressing Sherlock's hand more firmly onto his racing heart. "What you do to me matters. And quite frankly, I'm wrecked without you."
Sherlock didn't respond but leaned forward to place his head over their joined hands above John's heart as if he wanted to both feel and hear it beat for him. Or maybe he just needed to get a bit closer. Both were fine. John circled his other arm around Sherlock's shoulders to draw him closer before resting his cheek in Sherlock's curls.
"It's okay to not be sure, Sherlock, but I wish you'd talk to me when you feel like this."
A nod against John's chest.
"I don't know how long I could have done without you, either," Sherlock said at length, turning his face to the side for ease of speaking. "For days I've been holding myself back from coming to you, begging you to take me back. You are my lifeline, John. My safety net. You are what catches me every time I fall."
John said nothing to this, but wrapped himself tighter around Sherlock and let Sherlock's words wrap tight around him and warm him from the inside out.
"How did you know where I was?" he heard from within his arms.
"Well, Mycroft telling me you were wearing nothing but my jumper and socks ruled out Bart's, though I would have checked there had I not found you here. But I'm glad you didn't show up there wearing nothing but this. Would have given poor Molly a heart attack. But you have very few hiding spots, Sherlock, and none from me.
"I know you, Sherlock. All of your quirks and ticklish spots and habits and what makes you smile. I know that you can be a bit of a git sometimes and you have a soft underbelly despite that tough exterior you try to show the world. I know how you sleep and that little dimple that peeks out when you're wearing your John smile. I know all of the things that make you who you are and I love all of it. Nothing is going to change that, alright?"
Sherlock pushed back from John's chest to look into his eyes. John let him give him that Holmesian pierceness and John knew he projected back nothing but sincerity. He meant every word he said.
"I love you," Sherlock finally told him.
"I love you, too."
John could read the words in Sherlock's eyes and responded to them with everything in him.
You want this.
You want me.
For how long?
Sherlock smiled at him brilliantly and John returned it with a small, though no less genuine, smile of his own.
"You are beautiful," he said, swiping at a stray wisp of Sherlock's unruly hair. "I want to make you feel beautiful."
Sherlock attacked John's mouth and John returned the kiss with all the pent up passion of weeks of worrying and insecurity and unexpressed emotion.
This was where John belonged.
This was where he, too, was loved.