[identity profile] zoicite.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] z_fic

“Please don’t feel obliged to tell me that was remarkable or amazing. John’s expressed that thought in every possible variant available to the English language.”
John looked up from the computer. Sherlock was stiff and Irene was, well, predatory. Her look was hot, charged, and then she spoke.
“I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy twice.”
Well, there you go, John thought. John had never expressed it quite that way.


John watched as Sherlock pretended to read a book. He was flipping the pages too quickly, even for Sherlock Holmes. There was no way that he was actually reading. John had retreated to his room the night before, as soon as they‘d returned to the flat with Mrs. Hudson‘s groceries and the few things to stock their own kitchen. He‘d stared up at the ceiling above his bed, couldn‘t sleep, didn‘t for most of the night. He awoke with the sun and stumbled down to start a pot of coffee. The noise woke Sherlock and now here they were, John with an empty mug in his hand, coffee in his gut that had not yet started to take affect, and Sherlock pretending to read a novel in the chair opposite.

“Okay,” John said, finally. “So say we’re dating? What does that mean? Does it - “

“It doesn’t change anything,” Sherlock said, fast, as he continued to turn the pages.

John laughed, set down his mug and leaned forward. “It changes everything.”

Sherlock turned another page.

“I know you‘re not reading that,” John said.

Sherlock turned one more page, stared at it for a moment in defiance, then shut the novel and regarded John.

John shook his head. “So, it doesn‘t change anything?”

Sherlock shrugged. “I’m happy with the way that things are between us.”

“But if -” John stumbled. “You and I -”

“Sex,” Sherlock guessed, his fingers tapping against the book. “Yes, that would be a factor for you. Well, if you need me to sleep with you, of course, I will.”

“What?” John asked. “No - if I - I’m not going to make you sleep with me.”

“You wouldn’t be making me,” Sherlock said, reasonably. “I just offered.”

“You offered like it was a chore,” John pointed out.

“It isn’t something that I require, but if you do, then I want -”

John closed his eyes for a moment, tried to make sense of it all. “You want to sleep with me?”

“If that’s what you want,” Sherlock confirmed.

John was quiet.

“Do you?”

“Want to sleep with you?” John laughed.

“Yes,” Sherlock said.

“No,” John said, then amended, “I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I don’t - No. Of course not. No.”

“All right,” Sherlock said with a nod. He sighed. “I’ve agreed to have lunch with Mycroft today.”

“Good,” John said, absently, hardly listening to Sherlock at all now. Of course he didn’t - why would Sherlock think -

Sherlock set his book aside and stood, lingered as though he was thinking about the appropriate course of action. Eventually he seemed to make up his mind and he approached John. John had been staring hard at the carpet and when Sherlock moved to stand in front of him, John looked up.

“What -?“ John started. Sherlock was just standing there, staring down at him. And then Sherlock leaned down, leaned in and kissed him lightly on the mouth.

It was awkward and brief and light, so light that John could almost have imagined that it hadn’t happened at all. Almost, except that even with a brush of mouths that brief, that feather light feeling lurched through John and he turned away from Sherlock, surprised by his own reaction.

Sherlock cleared his throat and then mumbled something about being late. He disappeared toward the back of the flat and after a moment John heard him turn on the shower.

John sat there, staring at Sherlock’s empty chair.

Was John dating Sherlock Holmes?

Of course not. Of course not! They were friends. Partners, yes. But they weren’t - Nothing had to change, Sherlock said. But if John just opened his eyes and paid attention he would see that everyone was right about them. They were in some sort of relationship, they were a couple, but they weren’t - so a sexless homosexual relationship then? Was that what this was? And if so, how in the world had John ended up here?

Oh, but Sherlock would have sex with him, if that was what John needed.

Jesus, Sherlock had actually just offered to have sex with him.

No one seemed to care at all that John wasn’t gay. No one seemed to care that John dated women. That John had always dated women. He’d never - Sherlock was the first man that John had ever kissed and honestly John wasn’t sure that that kiss even counted. It was hardly a kiss at all.

But then, he’d felt something, hadn’t he? It had hardly been a kiss at all, but for such an insignificant press of lips, it had felt significant to John. It felt significant enough that John hadn‘t moved since it had happened, had only vaguely registered that Sherlock was out of the bath, that he‘d moved down the hall and shut the door to his bedroom. It was significant enough that John’s mind was racing with it, turning it over and over, testing it from every angle.

Would he mind it if Sherlock chose to kiss him again? Would he push Sherlock away in disgust, brush him off, shoot him down?

No. No, probably not.

John shook his head. Sherlock did not actually want to have sex with him. Sherlock, as far as John could tell, did not want to have sex with anyone. That was part of what made Sherlock Sherlock.

But if Sherlock wanted to, would John sleep with him? If the tables were turned. If it was something that John thought Sherlock might want, would John have offered himself as Sherlock had just done? Offer to have sex with Sherlock? Have sex with Sherlock?

John shifted in his seat. Well, it clearly wasn’t the turn off that it probably should have been. And John was far too old to still be working these things out.

Sherlock emerged from his room, his hair wet, but dressed, ready for something.

“Are you going somewhere?” John asked.

“Lunch with Mycroft,” Sherlock said, slightly exasperated. “I’ve just said.”

“Did you?” John asked. He watched Sherlock straighten his jacket, looked at the long lines of his friend and then turned away, his eye catching on the clock. “It’s nine in the morning.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed. “Well, of course I don’t actually want to have lunch with Mycroft.”

John nodded. “If you go over there now when you know it will be inconvenient for him, he’ll tell you what it is that he wants, you’ll refuse, and that’ll be that.”

“Precisely,” Sherlock agreed.

“So I should expect to have lunch with Mycroft today then,“ John concluded. “As soon as you refuse, he’ll come to me instead.”

Sherlock shrugged. “You could come with me now,” he suggested. “Save Mycroft some time.”

John didn’t respond. He was too busy trying to decide how he’d feel if Sherlock chose to kiss him again, right then.

“John,” Sherlock said.

“Sorry,” John said. “No, I think I’ll stay here. I have - there are things that I should do.”

Sherlock nodded, then opened his mouth, apparently deciding the right thing to say next. Sherlock was flustered, as flustered as John, and trying hard to hide it. Finally he turned away from John, reached for his coat and his scarf. He left the flat without another word.

A relationship, John thought again once Sherlock had gone. With Sherlock Holmes. It was too ridiculous for words.

But then if John took the sex out of any of his previous relationships what he was left with was - was almost exactly what he had with Sherlock.

No. It wasn’t the same. What he had with Sherlock was friendship, wasn’t it? This was just friendship. Why would Sherlock of all people assume - well, it was obvious, wasn’t it? Sherlock had said it, not a month before.

Sherlock didn’t have friends. John was it.

So that was it then. Sherlock was confused. He wasn’t accustomed to having someone always there, to having a friend who cared about him, who liked him. It was new territory for Sherlock. Confusion over their friendship, that was all.

“We are a couple,“ Sherlock had said.

Sure. A couple of friends. Close friends. Perhaps a little codependent. Perhaps they should work on that. But friends.

That was all.


John waited until the last possible moment to break the news to Sherlock. He hid away in his room, rushed through the sitting room on his way to the bathroom to shave. Eventually he was ready. He couldn‘t avoid Sherlock any longer, and he came to stand in front of the sofa where Sherlock was stretched out.

“I have a date,” John said.

Sherlock looked up at him, looked John up and down, and then said, “Yes, I noticed.”

John looked down at himself. He smoothed the wrinkles in his shirt, checked for lint on his jacket, then glanced at his hair in the mirror.

“You don’t mind?” John asked.

Sherlock hadn’t brought it up again. It had been a week and neither of them had said a word. John wanted to. He wanted to talk to Sherlock about it, about their friendship, and Sherlock’s misconception. He thought about talking to Sherlock about it often, but he couldn’t seem to find the right moment.

Sherlock certainly wasn’t bringing it up. And since that day, nothing had changed. Sherlock didn’t try to kiss John again. In fact, everything went right back to exactly how it was between them before. Except that now John was thinking about it all differently. Now, instead of wondering why people were assuming that he and Sherlock were together - now John caught himself wondering if he and Sherlock were together. He caught himself thinking of it often before he reminded himself that it was preposterous and pushed it back out of his mind.

A sexless homosexual relationship.

When John received a message on his profile from a woman named Theresa, he thought, well, perhaps this was exactly what he needed. A test for Sherlock‘s theory. A date to prove that it was all ridiculous, that John wasn‘t in a relationship with Sherlock Holmes, that he just hadn‘t found the right person yet. At first glance, Theresa didn’t seem his type, but he thought, why not? What did he really have to lose? So they set a date to meet for dinner.

“Why would I mind?” Sherlock asked now.

“Because we -”

“John,” Sherlock sighed. He pressed the steepled tips of his fingers to his chin as he stared down toward his feet at the other end of the sofa.

John checked his watch.

“Yes?” he asked after a moment.

Sherlock looked back up at him. “If you require the company of women, then you should seek it out. It changes nothing.”

John shook his head. A date with another person changed everything. It was, John thought, a sort of rejection. One that he’d felt guilty about all week. He wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing, but he needed to know. It wasn’t just - he wasn’t just looking for -

“This is a date, Sherlock,” John said. “It’s not merely about sex.”

“I know,” Sherlock agreed. “But if you need sex - if you need anything that I can’t - I don’t mind. That’s all.”

“You don’t mind if I date other people,” John clarified.

“You’ve been dating other people for the past year,” Sherlock noted.

“You don’t think it’s different now?” John asked.

“Do you?” Sherlock countered, too quick.

“I don’t know,” John said. “I don’t know.”

He checked his watch again. “I have to go.”

“Mm,” Sherlock grunted. He turned on the sofa, his back to John. John stared at the back of his head for a moment, and when Sherlock didn’t turn back, John left the flat.


It didn’t take long for John to realize that once again Sherlock Holmes was right. He was right about everything, and John wanted to hate him for it.

As soon as he sat down at the table, John could see how this would go. He would choose Sherlock over Theresa. He would choose Sherlock again and again, not even realizing that he was doing it. And then Theresa would dump him and it would be just as it was the last time.

“Sherlock is a very lucky man,” Jeannette had said.

“I don’t think there is room in your life right now,” had been the start of Sarah’s exit speech. “It’s too new. What you have with Sherlock and what you have with me. It’s all too new and you don’t - I think you should concentrate on the person who matters the most in this.”

She’d meant Sherlock. Of course, she had. And at the time it had been new. Life with Sherlock was new. It was infuriating and frustrating and exciting. John had felt alive for the first time in years. He’d needed that. Sarah had been right.

But now - now it had been a year and a half. Now it was no longer new and John still - he sat here now across from a beautiful woman and he knew in his heart that Sarah was right. Sarah and Jeannette and everyone else who had seen it when he hadn’t.

John was going to choose Sherlock. He was going to choose Sherlock every single time. He was going to walk home after his date and Sherlock would be there waiting for him. Sherlock wouldn’t ask how it went because Sherlock would already know. He’d be able to tell just by looking at John. Just as he’d been able to tell that John -

John looked at Theresa, at the blonde waves of her hair and the curve of her lips, the bright pink of her lipstick. He looked at her and he caught himself wondering what it would be like if Sherlock kissed him again. He knew what it would be like kissing Theresa. Theresa would feel soft against him. Her perfume would fill his nostrils. Sherlock wouldn’t be soft. Sherlock was hard and angular, but his kiss hadn‘t been that way at all. Kissing Sherlock, even for that brief second, it had been the exact opposite of what John might have imagined. It wasn’t sharp or hard. Sherlock Holmes believed that he was in a relationship with John and he had kissed John to show that he cared. And what had John done? He’d rationalized it. He’d pushed Sherlock away without even saying a word about it. He’d laughed it off, assumed that Sherlock’s feelings weren’t valid, that Sherlock couldn’t know.

Everyone had realized it but him. Everyone could see it. Everyone.

“Theresa,” John said then. “I’m sorry, but there’s something I have to tell you.”


He found himself in Harvey’s Pub, a pint of beer in hand. He drowned his confusion for half an hour, but eventually he couldn’t take it. He gave in and sent Sherlock a text message - Harvey’s Pub. Come quickly. Important. - and twenty minutes later Sherlock arrived and came to stand beside him.

“You’ve been spending too much time in this pub,” Sherlock noted.

John turned to look at Sherlock and Sherlock winced. John watched the movement of Sherlock’s eyes over him, the gathering of information.

Theresa had been wearing a ring. A ring with three stones judging by the width of the scrape upon John’s cheek. Theresa had a good right hook. John Watson would have a lovely bruise.

“I deserved it,” John sighed. “I daresay I deserved it.”

Sherlock was quiet beside him.

“John,” he sighed and then he fell silent again. John heard him step away, felt his presence retreat from John’s side as Sherlock wandered away from the bar.

The barmaid caught John’s eye and then nodded toward Sherlock.

John had expected Sherlock to wander away, then eventually come back, but Sherlock had chosen the booth in the corner and sat down. He hadn’t removed his coat.

“Right,” John said.

“More privacy back there,” the barmaid noted.

“Yes,” John agreed, absently.

“I’m glad, you know,” she said. “I thought - you’d quarreled the last time you were here and then - “ she gestured toward John’s face.

“What?” John asked. He reached up to touch his cheek. “No, this. It wasn’t - no.”

“That’s good to hear. You hope for the best for people, you know,” she said.

John squinted at her. “You’re very familiar.”

“It’s my job, isn’t it,” she said with a shrug.

“I suppose that it is, yeah,” John agreed.

The conversation, on any other night would have been encouraging. Any other night he would have meant it as a complement, an opening to flirt. Now though, now John had been punched by his date after telling her he might be more interested in dating his possibly gay but possibly asexual, definitely dysfunctional, sociopath male flat mate. Obviously he hadn’t included any of those details when he’d broken the news to Theresa, but it didn’t matter. Telling your date that you just realized you’d rather date a bloke didn’t go over so well no matter how many details were omitted.

“He’s funny,” she said and gestured to Sherlock.

Sherlock was staring straight ahead, his hands shoved into the pockets of the coat he hadn’t felt the need to remove.

“It’s nice,” she said. “You can tell how much you care for each other just by looking at you. Rare, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” John said again, then narrowed his eyes. “Really?”

Sherlock followed him to the pub, usually uninvited. They argued and they frowned and then they left to argue some more. Sure they’d had the rare comfortable visit to Harvey’s. Post-case bevvies and pub grub during which Sherlock was relaxed and pleasant and John cherished their easy companionship. But how often did that happen?

On the other hand, John had come here to work through things, to come to terms with the fact that he was perhaps ready to commit himself to Sherlock after all. He had the bruise forming on his face to prove it.

“How can you tell?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I just see it. You change when he shows up. You try not to but you do.”

“So if we were dating - you and I - and you saw me interacting with him - “

“Oh, I’d dump ya. Waste of my time,” she said, her face screwed up.

“Right,” John said. It was a good thing he’d never actually tried the flirting then. Well, he hadn’t tried it much.

“I better get - what’s your name?” he asked. He felt like he should know now. He felt like she’d served him enough drinks that he should know.

“Chris,” she said. “Christine, but I go by Chris.”

“John,” he said in return.

She nodded. “I know.”

“I better -” he gestured toward Sherlock.

She smiled and nodded and moved down the bar.

“You’ll be happy to know that the bartender at Harvey’s Pub no longer thinks we’re in an abusive relationship,” John said, sliding into the booth opposite Sherlock. He set his coat and his wallet across the end of the table.

“What did you say to her?” Sherlock asked.

“To the barmaid?” John asked, then realized Sherlock was talking about Theresa. “Oh, sorry. You can’t tell just by looking at me?”

“I can tell she didn’t like it,” Sherlock said. “It’s just as well. It never would have worked out between you anyway.”

“How do you know?” John sighed.

“The receipt from the restaurant is sticking out of your wallet,” Sherlock said. “Le Rivage. Pricey. Not the sort of place you would choose. She chose the restaurant. The hair on your coat, blonde, bleached. A smudge of lipstick smeared on your cheek, too much makeup.”

“Most women wear makeup on a date,” John said, his voice weary.

“Not that much, and not that shade,” Sherlock said, dismissive. “She expects a certain standard. She knew as soon as she saw the state of your jacket that you’d have a hard time meeting it. She was too much work for a man like you.”

You’re too much work for a man like me,” John countered.

“Yes, well the relationships would certainly have conflicted then, wouldn’t they?”

“So you read her profile,” John guessed. “You checked up on my date.”

“You left the page open,” Sherlock said.

“Sherlock -” John said, then he sighed and shook his head. No, they weren‘t doing this again. It didn‘t make John feel better and it wasn‘t actually true. Not anymore. “You aren’t ruining my relationships.”

“I know,” Sherlock said, surprised. It wasn‘t what Sherlock had expected John to say.

“I choose you,” John said. He knew he was stating things that Sherlock already knew. He knew that they were things that Sherlock had told him. But it was John’s turn now. He had to say them out loud in order to make them real. “I choose you over them every time and then I act surprised when they leave.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed.

John looked over toward Chris. She was preparing a line of drinks for a group of women who had just entered. They didn‘t look like they were just starting their evening. One of them was wearing a pink boa. Hen party, just returned from the theatre. The short woman on the end had purchased a program. Chris looked up, met John‘s eyes, nodded.

Sherlock followed John’s line of vision and when Chris saw him looking she smiled before going back to her work.

“When did you start to think that this - that we?”

“Not long,” Sherlock said. He looked down at the table and it told John all that he needed to know. The realization coincided with the Irene Adler case. Was it before she died, he wondered? Somewhere in the midst of it? Did she inform Sherlock of the fact the same way that she’d informed John? Probably. Perhaps it had even been that same moment.

“We’re not a couple.”

“Yes, you are,“ Irene Adler had said, and Sherlock had been standing right there.

But John had brushed it off. Just another in a long line of assumptions. John had brushed it off, but Sherlock had listened to everything that Irene Adler said. He hung on her words, listened to them. Why should this be any different?

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“You’ve been trying so hard to prove otherwise that I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

John stared at Sherlock for a long moment and then he started to laugh.

“You didn’t want to disappoint me,” John repeated. “By informing me that I was in a relationship with you. You thought that would disappoint me.”

Sherlock shrugged. “It has, hasn‘t it,” he said. “For a time.”

“Do you want to be in a relationship with me?” John asked.

“It’s a weakness,” Sherlock said. “A relationship is a weakness. To get to me, they merely have to target you. Strap a bomb to you, point a gun at your head.”

“So this isn’t a relationship,” John said.

Sherlock looked at him as though he was the stupidest man Sherlock had ever met. “The American pointed a gun at you in Adler’s sitting room. Not at me, not at her, he chose to threaten you. Moriarty strapped a bomb on you to get to me. You’re already my weakness. You have been for a long time.”

“It’s a relationship but you’d rather it wasn’t,” John concluded.

“No,” Sherlock said.

“No, it’s not a relationship, or no you wouldn’t rather it wasn’t?”

“John,” Sherlock said.

“All right,” John said with a shrug. “All right, we don’t have to talk about it.” They had to talk about it sometime. They wouldn’t be able to get around that. But if Sherlock wasn’t entirely ready to articulate what he felt, then well, John could understand that. John wasn’t sure he was entirely ready either.

John left the booth and returned to the bar for another drink. He thought about ordering a beer for Sherlock as well, but he could tell that Sherlock wasn’t in the mood and wouldn’t drink it. As he waited for Chris, one of the women from the hen party turned to him. She was smiling and he nodded in return.

“You make a handsome couple,” she informed him. He could smell the alcohol on her breath, but her expression was genuine.

John opened his mouth, the dismissal on the tip of his tongue, like a habit that was hard to break. And then he turned back to look at Sherlock. Sherlock looked back and John smiled.

“Thanks,” he said to the woman, and then left the bar and returned to the booth without his drink.

“Do you want to leave?” John asked, leaning on the edge of the table.

Sherlock looked up at him and immediately began to slide out of the booth.

“Please,” he said, and handed John his coat.


He’d thought about it the entire walk back to Baker Street. He’d contemplated it, and then decided it was inappropriate. He was too old to hide in doorways and on street corners. So he’d waited, the walk feeling twice as long as it had before.

“Wait,” John said once they were inside, but before Sherlock started up the stairs.

Sherlock turned to him, a question on the tip of his tongue. When John pressed him back against the wall, Sherlock went stiff for a moment. He most likely thought that John had noticed something amiss, that there was danger in the flat, an intruder. But John had other motives. Sometimes John had to conduct his own experiments.

Sherlock still seemed a bit stunned when John kissed him. It was exactly as it had been the first time. A simple uncomplicated kiss that felt neither simple nor uncomplicated.

Sherlock wasn’t good at this. Not really. He didn’t know what he was doing, hadn’t learned the rhythm of it during his youth.

None of that mattered to John. What mattered was that after a moment, Sherlock’s body lost its rigid posture. Sherlock kissed John back. His hands moved up to hold John close.

John wondered how many others Sherlock had kissed like this. He wondered how many people had been allowed to get this close. There was no way that John was the first. Not when Sherlock was so - well, irritating, yes. Offensive and abrasive. But he imagined a younger Sherlock. Brash and mean and totally unattainable. Girls, the ones who weren’t put off by his demeanor, would have found it irresistible.

John heard the sound of a door latch and then Mrs. Hudson’s surprised gasp. He pulled away from Sherlock.

“Oh,” Mrs. Hudson said. “I heard the door but no one on the stairs and I worried that - “ She trailed off, her face flushed, her hands fidgeting nervously at the front of her skirt.

John cleared his throat.

“My fault, Mrs. Hudson,” John admitted. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Mrs. Hudson brushed off the apology. She was looking from John to Sherlock now, trying hard to suppress her smile. Behind him Sherlock started quickly up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

With Sherlock gone, Mrs. Hudson’s smile emerged. “Good for you boys, that’s what I think. It’s about time, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” John said. “I suppose that maybe it is.”

“I think so,” Mrs. Hudson said. She gestured toward the stairs. “You better follow him up, dear.”


Sherlock was pacing the sitting room when John came up the stairs. John stopped in the doorway and Sherlock turned, acknowledged John‘s arrival and then gestured toward John‘s computer.

“You know the problem with hands?” he asked.

John shrugged from the doorway.

“There are so few trades these days that use them. Oh, you can still deduct a lot from a hand, but how often does someone die who was doing real work, manual work.”

“Now it’s all just carpal tunnel,” John guessed.

Sherlock looked up at him.

“Do you -” Sherlock said. He gestured to himself and then began to remove his jacket. “Should I -?”

“No,” John said. “No, not tonight.”

Sherlock relaxed a bit after that.

“I think it’s probably best to ease into it, don’t you?” John asked.

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed. “It’s probably best.”

A sexless homosexual relationship, John thought.

“You’re laughing,” Sherlock said.

“Yes,” John agreed. “It’s funny.”


“I never thought I’d have so much in common with Harry.”

Things were different with Harry now. She was seeing someone new. She seemed happy. She seemed sober. But for a while with Clara, well, a sexless homosexual relationship, with the addition of one partner being a drunk, described her relationship pretty well from the limited information that John had gathered.

Not that - John wasn’t unhappy with this development. He wasn’t - it was just funny. That was all.

“Perhaps you can bond,” Sherlock suggested. “Mend your relationship with these new similarities.”

John looked up. Sherlock was smiling. A joke. Strained relationships with their siblings was something that Sherlock and John had always had in common.

“Probably not,” Sherlock guessed.

John laughed. “Probably not.”

They were quiet for a while after that. John went over their conversation in the pub. They were in a relationship. They were a couple, though reluctantly from the sound of things. A relationship complicated things. It was a weakness for Sherlock. And yet -

“Sherlock,” John said.

“Hm,” Sherlock asked and looked up.

“When Mrs. Hudson was threatened you threw a man out a window. Multiple times.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed.

“You aren’t in a relationship with Mrs. Hudson,” John said. “But she was still - “

“It’s different,” Sherlock cut in.


“It feels -” Sherlock started to say, and then he stopped when he saw John’s face.

John looked down. He wondered if he should voice the question that had just occurred to him or if it was safer to let the moment pass.

“Are you in love with me?” John asked, before he‘d fully made up his mind on whether he should ask it at all.

Sherlock laughed. It could mean a number of things. He wasn’t. He was. He thought he might be, but he wasn’t sure. John thought it most likely that Sherlock wasn’t sure. That must be making him crazy. Uncertainty didn’t set well with Sherlock. They’d certainly learned that in Dartmoor, hadn’t they.

“It doesn’t matter,” John said.

“Of course, it matters.”

“I know,” John said. “I only meant that -”

“I know what you meant,” Sherlock cut in.

John nodded.

Sherlock didn’t ask if John was in love with him. The truth was, John’s answer was the same. Jesus, he really would do anything for Sherlock, wouldn’t he? Jeannette had been right. He’d shot a man, he’d been prepared to sacrifice himself by that pool, and now here they were, dating. Was that love? Probably. It had been some time for John, but the feeling in his gut told him that it probably was.


“I’ll be right next door if you need me,” John said.
“Why would I need you?” Sherlock asked.
“No reason,” John said. “No reason at all.”


They sat together in amiable silence until finally John yawned and Sherlock excused himself and retreated to his room. John sat up alone, thought about what it was that he’d just agreed to, what came next. It was the strangest relationship he’d ever been in. It was the only relationship he’d been in where he didn’t know about the relationship until months after it had apparently started. Sherlock had said again and again that nothing had to change, but it did, didn’t it? It did for John.

John’s laptop was sitting at the table and he crossed to it now, sat down at the desk. Perhaps it was time he wrote up the Baskerville case. Perhaps it was time to -

He stared for a long time at the computer. He wrote a few sentences, deleted them, wrote the same sentences again. He opened the dating site that he frequented and looked at Theresa’s picture. It never would have worked between them. Theresa could never be Sherlock Holmes, and that was what John had been looking for, wasn’t it? Someone who could bring John back to life, change him, infuriate him, someone who kept him guessing, who made him want things again.

John thought about how it had been, he thought about his limp and his therapist, of that empty room and the dullness that pervaded. He thought about how quickly it had all changed for him. And all of it was because of Sherlock. All of it.

Sherlock was wrong. If they were going to do this there were things that had to change. Sherlock might be fine with things the way that they were, but John wasn’t. John would need just a bit more.

He shut down his computer and turned off the lamps. Instead of going up to bed he passed through the kitchen until he found himself standing outside of Sherlock’s door. After a moment he knocked. He waited and then he knocked again.

“Come in,” Sherlock said, his voice low.

John pushed open the door.

Sherlock was in bed, his back to the door and he twisted to blink at John, waited.

“Do you mind if I stay?” John asked.

Sherlock frowned and for a moment John was afraid he was going to ask why. Why in the world would John want to stay? Why would it be important, the physical intimacy of sharing a bed with another person? John found that he was holding his breath, waiting for Sherlock’s response. It was a test, as much as the kiss had been. John needed this. If this was to work, if there was even a chance -

Sherlock shifted, moved over on the bed and then threw back the blankets. He didn’t say anything, just waited there. John let out the breath he’d been holding in a sigh. He kicked off his shoes and removed his trousers, threw them over Sherlock’s chair, then added his jumper to the pile. Finally in his shorts and t-shirt, he climbed into the bed beside Sherlock.

Sherlock eyed John for a moment, and then he threw the blankets back up to cover them both.

“Good night,” John offered.

“Good night, John,” Sherlock replied.

John rolled onto his side, his back to Sherlock and after a moment he felt Sherlock do the same. Sherlock was warm behind him, present, and John caught himself wondering if Sherlock had ever lied awake in this bed, thinking of John in the bedroom above him, wondering if it would ever come to this.

Probably not, John thought. Highly unlikely.

But still, here they were.

If John turned now and kissed Sherlock, he felt reasonably sure that Sherlock would let him. Sherlock might even kiss him back. John closed his eyes and imagined it, turning and kissing Sherlock’s shoulder blade, pressing his mouth to Sherlock’s shirt, the warmth of Sherlock’s skin radiating out from beneath the thin fabric, warming John’s lips. Sherlock would turn, twist back toward John, a question on his tongue, and John would kiss him, move in to cover Sherlock’s parted lips with his own.

John’s breath caught in his throat at the thought and he coughed to cover it up. Sherlock shifted slightly beside him.

John pressed his face into Sherlock’s pillow. He hadn’t expected this. He hadn’t expected that a person could hide from themselves so well, bury something so deep only to discover that perhaps it had been there, somewhere, all along. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes.

He thought of Irene Adler. I’d have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy twice.

And look at us both.

“Are you all right?” Sherlock asked beside him and John jumped at the sudden intrusion.

“Yes,” John said, cleared his throat at the hoarseness of the word. “Yes, I’m fine.”

John took a deep breath. It was all fine.


He woke up alone, the sun shining in around the edges of the dark curtains. The door was shut and the flat was quiet beyond.

John turned toward Sherlock’s side of the bed. The sheets were rumpled, the blanket thrown back. John pressed his hand to Sherlock’s pillow. It wasn’t quite cool yet. Sherlock hadn’t been awake long.

John sat up, looked at his clothes on the chair, his shoes by the bedroom door. Sherlock’s dressing gown was missing from the hook.

He didn’t remember falling asleep, but he felt well rested, awake, and he stood and stretched before opening the door and stepping out into the hall. He found Sherlock in the sitting room, John’s computer open on his lap.

“Right,” John said. “That settles it.”

Sherlock looked up. His feet were bare and John caught himself watching the curl of his toes against the floor.

John shook his head. “We’re shopping today. It’s time to get you a new computer.”

Sherlock shut the laptop quickly and held it out for John to take.

“I didn’t mean you had to -” John started.

“I’m finished with it,” Sherlock said and extended his arm further.

John stared at the offering for a moment before he accepted it and took the computer from Sherlock’s hand. He felt Sherlock’s eyes on him as he crossed to the desk and set the computer down.

“Do you want coffee?” John asked.

“No,” Sherlock said, but John knew that if he made it, Sherlock would drink it with him. He always did.

John shuffled into the kitchen, could feel that Sherlock was still watching. Oh, Mycroft was going to have a field day with this, John thought. Lestrade would laugh and laugh. Even Anderson would gloat.

As the coffee brewed, John used the loo and washed his face, brushed his teeth and then searched the kitchen for two clean mugs. He added sugar to Sherlock’s and then carried the two cups back to the sitting room, held Sherlock’s out to him. Sherlock took it from him without a word. He waited until John was settled in the chair opposite before he spoke.

“You’ve deleted your profile,” Sherlock noted.

John looked up, met Sherlock’s eye, then found he had to look away.

So this was what they all saw then. This tension between them. John felt it now, wasn’t sure how he’d ever missed it before. He sipped his coffee, too hot, and then set it down on the table beside him.

"Yes," John said. He cleared his throat. “As it turns out, I’m not on the market after all.”
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