Sherlock (BBC), mature audiences, Sherlock/John; in which there is a cold, a fall and a temptation, and someone might be stoic or simply foolish.
this is an attempt to fill a prompt over at the Sherlock Kink Meme that asked for five times Sherlock and John shared a bed (mostly) platonically and one time sleep was the last thing on their minds; I partly succeeded?
spoilers for The Great Game. some of this won’t make sense without.
John is certain it is a fever induced hallucination. There is no other rational explanation to the sight that greets him when he laboriously peels his eyes open to find out what, exactly, is making that annoying tap-tap-tapping sound next to his ear.
It must be.
"Ah. You're awake. Good."
John stares. Stares at the dressing-gown clad arm and the busy fingers that keep flicking at the mobile phone keys (tap-tap-tap, they go in a rapid succession that had pierced through his sleep and dragged him back to consciousness). Sherlock doesn’t even glance at him, only keeps tapping away at the mobile, texting somebody or possibly surfing the internet, maybe chewing out one of the commenters on his website. It takes a little while longer for the entire scene to fully register.
Sherlock is sat on John’s bed next to his until-recently-sleeping body, back propped against the headboard, ankles crossed casually as if there is nothing strange about him invading half of his flatmate’s bed uninvited, long and warm, and busying himself with his mobile.
“What—“ John tackles around the words getting caught in his throat, coughs around the slightly achy scratchiness there and tries again. “What are you doing?”
The fingers keep flying over the keys, and John has to stop looking at them because the motion is making him feel dizzy. –er. Dizzier. He squeezes his eyes shut and wills the building headache to go away. “Bored?” he repeats, weakly.
“Yes. Bored. You’ve been lying here for two days. There’s no case. My experiments are... well, shall we say, festering. Lestrade kicked me out of the station. Ergo, I am bored. Bored, bored, bored. And there’s no tea. When are you coming downstairs?” He says this all nonchalantly, as if he’s talking about the weather.
John opens his eyes again and stares disbelievingly up at Sherlock’s face; he has to crane his neck rather uncomfortably to do that. “Sherlock,” he finally says, slowly to make sure he’s getting through, “I’m ill. As in, indisposed. As in, all I want to do is lie here and die. I can’t entertain you.” He pauses for a second, to mull over Sherlock’s words. “And what do you mean there’s no tea?”
Sherlock sighs, rolls his eyes. “No tea. No one’s been to the shop.”
“Sherlock! I’m—“ A coughing fit interrupts him and he has to take a moment to dig through the disgusting pile of used tissue paper on his bedside table to find one that isn’t used. After a long, wet blow, he says, rather snappishly, “God’s sake, Sherlock, you have legs. You’ve a credit card. I’m ill, and damnit, I need tea, what do you mean there’s no tea.”
Sherlock has the grace to look a bit sheepish at John’s tone. “I, uh...”
John feels like taking that mobile and shoving it right up—
“I could fetch you some of Mrs Hudson’s herbal soothers?”
John groans and pulls the covers over his head, burying his face into the pillow, suddenly feeling unreservedly angry.
Half a minute of silence, uncomfortable, warm and heavy on the other side of the covers, crowding his bed, and then the tap-tap-tapping continues. John kicks Sherlock, aiming for his shin, maybe ankle. The tap-tap-tapping stops. After a moment, the weight shifts, rises, and cooler air sweeps to where Sherlock’s weight used to be. John sighs, and wills himself to sleep.
When he awakens again, it’s to silence and an empty room. It’s hours later, the light outside now only coming from the street lamps.
When he peeks cautiously from beneath the covers, there’s a cup of tea sitting on his otherwise empty bedside table, still steaming.
He turns his back at it.
“You stupid, stupid... wanker, Sherlock. God.” John was quite sure Sherlock wasn’t hearing him, or if he was, at least he was not listening. He tried to rearrange his hold on Sherlock, get a better grip from beneath his arms, but what with Sherlock being almost a head taller and so not giving him any leverage, the man only kept sliding down to the floor and unbalancing John entirely until John found himself pressed against the hallway wall, unable to support both of their weight with his legs awkwardly placed underneath them and tangling into Sherlock’s and— “Goddamn!”
He gave up, let them slide down the wall to sit on the floor, and squeezed his eyes shut against the anger that made his vision grow hazy-red.
You stupid, stupid wanker, Sherlock, goddamn.
Three years. Three fucking years he’d said he’d been clean, and John had seen addicts, had seen them crumbling all over his office floor and the army barracks and the hospital sheets and the rehab clinics, but he’d still never, never truly believed Sherlock when he’d stared him down meaningfully during that first drug bust on his first day as his flatmate. Always thought that somewhere in there, there was the joke, that it was just a stupid joke and a dance to sway to with the Met.
Stupid, stupid John.
He was wet with the rain, they both were, and he was certain the shivers starting to run up and down his spine were going to grow into a chest cold, if he was lucky, or maybe something meaner, if he was not. Sherlock was clammy, too, but John was quite sure it was mostly not because of the cold and the rain.
They lay like that, John propped against the wall, Sherlock propped against his chest, for good solid ten minutes, John trying to get his breath back after practically dragging Sherlock for almost five street corners (and hoping to god no squad cars happened to stroll by and see them). Sherlock was mostly out of it. Had been when John had found him, by the back entrance of some sordid pub he never wanted to set his eyes on again.
They couldn’t stay there forever, though, so eventually John pushed himself off the wall, up, up, dragging Sherlock with him. Sherlock swatted at his hands and muttered something. “Oh, no you don’t, you... utter... imbecile,” John gritted out through his clenched teeth and pinned Sherlock’s hands under his own. Sherlock groaned in feeble protest, but didn’t resist further, even tried to get his own legs under him while John helped him up the stairs and into their flat.
John steered them straight for the bathroom.
He propped Sherlock against the bathroom wall, manoeuvred him out of his scarf and coat, not an easy task when trying to keep him standing at the same time. The shirt went next. The shoes were more difficult. He got frustrated at the socks and decided to leave them on. Trousers and boxers, pooling at his ankles. When the man was standing naked in front of him, John practically hauled him into the bath, made sure he was sitting steadily and upright at the bottom of it, stepped out himself.
He turned the shower head on, almost freezing cold, and ignored the sharp yelps that Sherlock let out. He closed the bathroom door behind him, stalked to the kitchen.
The shattering of the glass he threw at the wall was pure and unadulterated satisfaction.
Five steadying breaths over the kitchen sink, and John walked to his own room, threw his wet clothes into the corner and changed into an old t-shirt and pyjama bottoms. Then he returned to the bathroom. Retrieved the towel from its hook and reached to turn the shower off. Sherlock, curled to one corner of the bath, was shivering, his teeth chattering against each other, his arms wrapped tightly around the knees pulled up to his chest. The look in his eyes had returned from something misty and hazy to something clearer, not yet unclouded but present enough to shoot daggers through John.
“Alright then,” John murmured and wrapped the towel around Sherlock’s shoulders, rubbing slightly to get the warmth back in, “up you go. Come on.”
Sherlock walked on his own two feet to the bedroom, John only leading him with a hand on his back. Only minimal help was needed to get Sherlock into his pyjamas. Sherlock was silent the entire time, but John had a feeling it was not because he didn’t have anything to say, the muscles taut and tense in his jaw. It wasn’t until John gripped his arm and started to steer him toward the bed that Sherlock spoke: “No. Can’t sleep. Told you. Told you yesterday and the day before that and the day before th—“
“Shut up. Yes, you can. You will.”
Something in his tone made Sherlock bite his lips shut.
John dragged Sherlock down onto the bed, dragged the covers over them both and tucked them in tight, like a cocoon. He wrapped his limbs around Sherlock, arms and elbows and legs and knees locking in place, but not to embrace, not to embrace; to keep in place, to imprison, to make sure he stayed, to send a message.
He did not close his eyes before Sherlock closed his, and did not drift to sleep before Sherlock’s breathing gradually evened out and the stubborn, prideful humming in his muscles gave way to rest.
Because, you see, he keeps dreaming of the flood and the fire. Flood and fire; what an odd combination. And John – he really should understand. He really should see, without explanation. He’d felt this himself, once, had he not? All those nights he’d woken up with screams and sobs in his throat and padded down into the kitchen with his hands shaking and his t-shirt soaked with sweat. John should understand that he dreams of flood and fire, and it’s all new to him, this feeling of powerlessness, this feeling of dread. He never used to be afraid before. Bored and despaired and irritated and all sorts of other things, but never afraid. And it’s not that he’s scared to die, he’s never been scared to die. Death is a game, the greatest game of all, and oh, the exhilaration of winning, just this one more time, never knowing if it will be your last. No, he’s not afraid to die. So he doesn’t know what he is afraid of. Flood and fire; enveloping him, simultaneously. It should not have been possible. And he remembers, the weight against his chest, pushing and pulling him down at the same time. John’s body, against his, as they sank toward the bottom of the pool. Limp. Unmoving. Dead weight. He’d felt so tired then, almost slipping into unconsciousness. And then: not. A sudden burst of manic energy. Resisting. Kicking. Half determination, half panic. Dragging John up with him. He doesn’t know what he’s afraid of now. There’s nothing to be afraid of now. Nothing like that gut-freezing terror of cold, unmoving lips under his and the seconds before the coughs—No. Nothing like that anymore. Ridiculous. Sleep. Sleep is what he should do. It is easy, when he wants to. It should be easy. But now it no longer is. He does not know why. He used to be so able to do it on command: rest when he needed to, when there was time for it. But now it’s gone, and he hateshateshateshates the lack of control. Hates it with a sheering passion that aches in his bones and crawls in his skin. He wants it to stop. It’s been ages already. Stars have been born and died in between. He keeps dreaming of the flood and the fire. That’s maybe why. Is kept awake counting the creaks from upstairs when John shifts in his bed and the wood under him groans like a warning. Sleep. He should sleep. Even he can’t go without it forever. John is breathing, somewhere above. Sleep. Rest. Don’t feel. Sleep.
It takes another full day of coughing under his covers until John is feeling strong enough to wobble unsteadily downstairs. He digs the heels of his palms into his eyes to block out the too bright daylight and blindly makes his way into the kitchen. He fumbles for the kettle, the tea, the sugar and milk, and settles in to wait for the water to boil. He can feel Sherlock’s eyes on him, staring at him from his seat in the living room.
“There’s soup in the refrigerator. From Mrs Hudson.” Sherlock’s voice is calm, almost indifferent. John gives a hum in acknowledgment, busying himself with retrieving two mugs from the cupboard and washing them just in case. He’d have to thank Mrs Hudson later. Maybe a nice bouquet of flowers; she’s said she loves flowers, always keeps a vase of fresh ones on the dining room table. The water boils, and he prepares the tea.
Sherlock is recumbent on the sofa, head elevated against the armrest and a book balanced on his knees. John tries to glance at the cover as he sets down the mug on the floor within Sherlock’s reach. Something of Electrical something. He had been wondering why their electricity bill had gone up in the past month.
He’s about to take his own mug to the armchair when Sherlock suddenly moves; he pulls himself up some from his slouch, folds his legs in tighter until there’s a John-sized spot at the other end of the sofa. A transparent invitation if John’s ever seen one. John freezes.
“Better view of the TV,” Sherlock merely says, without lifting his eyes from the book. He turns a page. John doesn’t ask how he knew that John was going to turn on the telly. Should have seen it coming, anyway. He sits down with a sigh and picks up the remote.
It is a strange scene, he feels. They’ve never sat on the sofa together before. The sofa is Sherlock-space. The armchair is John-space. It isn’t that mingling is not allowed, it just... never happened. He wonders if, in his own strange way, Sherlock is trying to appease him. He glances at the man. Sherlock’s nose is still buried in the book, no attention left for John. It certainly doesn’t feel like appeasement.
He wonders if they will just Not Talk About It, as stoic men do in their stoic way with their stoic jaws firmly clenched. He’s not sure his jaw is set out for stoicism. He concentrates on drinking his tea.
It isn’t until full five minutes later that he realises what he’s watching.
Sherlock chuckles beside him, as if reading his mind. “Really, John, I would have thought you too old for such things.”
He was going to change the channel, but will not now, not with Sherlock mocking; it would make it seem as if he’s embarrassed. He won’t give Sherlock the satisfaction. “It’s never a bad idea to keep abreast of these sorts of things. I do work as a GP, you know.” He takes a sip of his tea, casually. “And it’s educational.”
“How so? I thought you knew your alphabet already.”
“Well, you know...” He can’t help the smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Bastard. “Revision never hurt anybody.”
Sherlock chuckles again and tugs his cold toes underneath John’s thigh. It should feel strange but instead makes the tension in John’s spine ease a bit until he’s leaning back against the cushions more comfortably.
He thinks back to the shards of glass he saw in the bin just ten minutes ago.
His fingers tighten around the mug.
He thinks back to Sherlock’s clammy skin.
He sets the mug down on the table.
“Look,” he says because he just cannot help himself, because he has never been a stoic man for no purpose and does not see one now, blurts it out before he can think better of it. “You know, the other night, the... it. What you did—“
“I assume ‘it’ refers to obtaining and divulging in narcotics,” Sherlock interrupts casually, as if they’re talking about what to have for tea.
John finds himself grinding his teeth. “Yes. That. I don’t... I don’t know why you decided to do it, after all this time, I don’t know what the bloody hell you could have possibly been thinking, if you were thinking or... Look, doesn’t matter why. All I’m saying is, you don’t have to do that. Not anymore. Alright? I’m here now, so you don’t have to do that. Just tell me, and I can... I don’t know. I can do something. Talk you out of it, if nothing else. Alright?”
He feels slightly sick, suddenly, when Sherlock doesn’t react. “Sherlock, alright?”
Sherlock doesn’t say anything, only keeps staring at his book.
John feels anger starting to build within him again.
He bolts to his feet. “God, you don’t even think you did anything wrong,” he bites out through his teeth and turns to stomp out of the room, back to his own.
He’s stopped by Sherlock’s hand tight around his wrist.
He glares at it, half startled, half annoyed.
“Alright,” he says, uncharacteristically quiet. “Alright.”
John just stares for a moment longer, until Sherlock tugs again, more forceful, and John flops back down on the sofa.
With a sigh, he lets his head fall against the backrest.
After a moment, he glances at Sherlock from the side of his eye. He swallows around his – surprisingly – dry mouth. “Really? Alright?”
Sherlock purses his lips. “I don’t particularly enjoy having to repeat myself. It’s a waste of everybody’s time. Yes.”
John hadn’t realised there was anxiety settled at the pit of his stomach until it starts to dissolve, now, with that emphatic word. He sighs. “Good. That’s... good.”
They fall into a silence after that, John vaguely aware of the anxiety and anger dissipating with every breath he takes. Every breath Sherlock takes.
Sherlock sets down the book casually after a moment and picks up the mug of tea with the hand that isn’t squeezing John’s wrist (John isn’t sure Sherlock even realises he’s still doing it). He then sits upright properly next to John, eyes squinting measuringly at the telly. He takes a considering sip of the tea, smacking his lips as if he approves.
“Oh look, they’re helping the squirrel find a nut. Isn’t that just sweet.” The word is said like it’s something disgusting stuck to his palate. Sherlock frowns at the screen suddenly, appalled. “Why is he purple? What nonsense. I thought this was meant to be educational. How could it be educational if they fail to portray even the colour of the animals realistically?”
John squints at the screen from beneath half-closed eyelids. Sherlock’s arm radiates heat that seeps into him even across the space between them. Alright. Alright. He bloody well hopes so. “I dunno. I suppose it’s meant to be stimulating.”
“I’ve seen small children. They don’t need any more stimulation.”
John chuckles and settles down to watch the squirrel and his oddly coloured friends go find a nut.
He wakes up to the shopping channel and Sherlock’s fingers still wrapped around his wrist, loosely now, and Sherlock, Sherlock drooling on the sofa pillow in his sleep, head lolling awkwardly. After a moment, John reaches out and rearranges Sherlock’s pose carefully, so that he’s leaning against John, head propped more comfortably against John’s shoulder. Then he reaches for the remote and switches the channel. Eastenders. Dear god. He quickly slams down the button again.
He knows Sherlock is lying to him.
Not about drugs, no, because he’s pretty sure Sherlock is aware that if he ever did that again, John would find out and then John would kill him or, worse, destroy all his lab equipment and make sure he’s permanently banned from both St. Barts and the New Scotland Yard. He could, you know. He would find a way.
So it’s not that.
But he hears him, at night when Sherlock thinks he’s sleeping, when he sometimes wakes up to an uneasy feeling that something is wrong but he doesn’t quite know what. He hears the pacing steps in the living room, the kitchen, Sherlock’s room. Up and down the stairs and pausing for a moment outside his door. He’s also not blind, so he notices the way dark circles under Sherlock’s eyes cling on for days on end. He knows he’s not sleeping, again, to an extent that’s unhealthy even for one Sherlock Holmes, the Bunny that Just Keeps Going. And he knows that whatever it is, Sherlock is not going to talk about it even if he asked – mainly because he has asked about it and Sherlock has deflected like the stubborn idiot he is.
But he thinks he might be starting to figure it out.
He noticed it about a week after the drug incident. He had woken up sometime in the night to the sounds of Sherlock moving around in the flat, but had thought nothing of it, just turned over and went back to sleep. In the morning, he’d made his way into the kitchen and found Sherlock on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Like any other day he could think of, except Sherlock’s skin had had a pallid shine that suggested he’d been there most of the night, eyes open wide. By then, John had long since stopped asking if he’d actually slept at all and started just presuming that he hadn’t. With a sigh, he’d put the kettle on and started rummaging around the kitchen cabinets, banging pots and clattering dishes in his irritation.
It had been enough noise to keep the dead awake but even so, by the time John had made it into the living room with his cup of tea and plate of full breakfast balanced on either hand, Sherlock had been asleep, breathing deeply and peacefully. He stared for a second, then shook his head and settled into the armchair to watch the morning show with his morning tea. Sherlock had not woken up once. Not until John had showered and put his clothes on and made his way back downstairs with his keys rattling, and only then Sherlock had been there again, staring at the ceiling, now wide awake and not saying a word as John said his goodbyes and left for work.
He didn’t think of it until it happened again. And again.
So he has started experimenting. He knows Sherlock isn’t sleeping at night, when the house is quiet, when John is quiet. But he’s sleeping when John is sitting next to him in the living room, or puttering around in the kitchen, or swearing at the rugby game on the telly. He catnaps when John is there, and stays wide awake when John is not.
And John is sure he’s starting to figure it out.
So he makes sure his alarm clock wakes him up a bit earlier than it really needs to. Not too early because then the both of them can pretend he’s not spending an extra half hour sitting in the living room with his morning tea cooling while Sherlock gives into exhaustion. He knows that if he said anything, Sherlock would only deny it and then refuse to take even those few early morning moments to sleep, just out of sheer stubbornness, or maybe embarrassment, or maybe because he’s a git.
And you see, John does understand.
He’s been there.
So he’s alright with sitting there in his arm chair and pretending that he’s not relieved when Sherlock finally nods off after five minutes of his presence. And if Sherlock occasionally frowns and makes odd noises in his sleep, John knows better than to say anything because saying anything doesn’t actually help.
But he’s not entirely sure what causes all of it. In part sure, of course. Yes, naturally. There’s the pool still fresh in his memory, even if it was weeks ago, the burns still sometimes itching even though he knows they’re perfectly healed over. That’s the obvious cause. But he doesn’t quite understand this reaction. Sherlock isn’t frantic, neither with glee nor with desperation. He’s not hunting for Moriarty. He’s not revelling in the game and he’s not crying out for vengeance. He’s not static, either. He’s started taking on cases again. In day light, he’s calm, he’s collected, he’s like everything he used to be.
Except then there are the drugs, and the sleeplessness, and the nightmares that come and go and neither one of them ever mentions. And John, John pretending he’s not hovering and Sherlock pretending that he doesn’t need to keep John in sight, doesn’t need John and certainly doesn’t need to cling to him. John is puzzled, John is confused, and he doesn’t quite know what he can do except sit in his armchair and not talk about it.
It’s on one of Sherlock’s more inane cases that it finally starts to make sense.
It’s a fraud case, not usually Sherlock’s cup of tea, but they’ve both been bored and action helps, makes Sherlock’s naps less fretful. The man, an accountant, has been slowly sucking money out of his company’s account. It’s quite clever, really. A penny from here and there, and nobody would have probably noticed if it hadn’t been for a surprise audit. The man is a nobody, just a clerk who has a wife and two daughters and drives an ordinary Audi and buys his dress shirts on sale. But he’s managed to gather hundreds of thousands over the years, which means quite a few years in prison and his life torn to shreds the minute the police can gather enough evidence against him. Which they have, with the help of Sherlock Holmes.
It should be simple. They expect it to be simple and boring, because the man is simple and boring, but like any rat in a corner, the man lashes out and runs.
And John and Sherlock chase.
Which is why, hours later, when they return to Baker Street, John is still shaking and giddy with adrenaline.
He stumbles through the door, exhausted, all too conscious of the now-dull throbbing ache at the back of his head, but giggling, exhilarated, thrilled. This is wrong, he’d almost died, could have died at the hands of a desperate criminal (not mad, not really mad, but slowly sinking into the realisation of what he had done and what are the consequences of his actions and therefore perhaps more dangerous than any lunatic John could imagine).
And he’s laughing.
And Sherlock is laughing.
Really, what a pair they make.
John is aware that he should put ice on the bump on his head. Now that the adrenaline rush is fading, it’s starting to hurt a lot. But dear god, that was the most fun he has had in ages. There must be something wrong with him, but he slumps against the wall in the hallway and laughs up at the ceiling. And Sherlock is there with him, laughing and laughing, clutching at him.
Laughing and clutching John’s arms, painfully. It takes a moment for John to register the borderline hysterical quality to Sherlock’s chuckles.
John frowns slightly, and his laughter slowly dies.
“Oh John. My dear, dear sweet John. God. How do you do it? How do you normal people do it all the time?”
His frown deepens. The grin on Sherlock’s face is fixed and his eyes are flicking back and forth, as if searching for something on John’s face. John reaches out and curls his fingers into the front of Sherlock’s shirt, steadying him.
Sherlock lifts his hands to clutch at John’s shoulders and he looks somewhere half between exalted and puzzled, out of breath with laughter and on the verge of hysteria. “This caring business.” Says it like it’s an entirely alien concept. “I wish I could stop it. I can’t. It’s getting tiresome, really, distracting. I almost had the man, and then you got yourself glonked over the head and I stopped thinking. Instantly. Does that happen all the time? It must be tiresome to be constantly that preoccupied with worrying. Why did I have to meet you?”
John hears himself scoff. “Oh, lovely, thanks.”
“Well, exactly. See what I mean? I don’t understand why you should be any different. You muddle things. You are a muddler, dear John. A muddler.”
And he should be insulted at that, he vaguely thinks. Not terribly so, perhaps, but insulted nonetheless instead of letting a slow smile spread across his lips, he knows. But bizarrely, it is slowly dawning on him that being called a muddler might just be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to him. “You’ve gone completely daft,” he says and keeps smirking up at Sherlock. “And I need tea.”
“You need an X-ray,” Sherlock chides. Actually chides, and John feels he’s stepped through the cracks into an alternative universe where Sherlock has suddenly turned into a mother hen. He feels his chest oddly swell at that thought.
“No. Tea and a hot bath. A painkiller and a good night’s sleep. That’s all. Doctor, remember?”
“Doctor’s make the worst patients.”
“I’m not taking medical advice from a man who uses himself as a test subject.” But he’s still smirking when he says it, and Sherlock merely huffs, finally letting go of John’s arms.
The ghost of his touch lingers as a phantom pressure on his biceps, and John is only half-startled to find himself wanting to drag Sherlock’s hands back to where they were.
But he doesn’t do it, and he doesn’t say anything. Instead he revels in the warm glow he’s feeling and he takes his pain killers and makes his own tea – because even if Sherlock is worried, he is still a git – and he takes a shower and watches some TV while he waits for the last of the adrenaline rush to dampen and then he goes to bed thinking he finally understands. Sherlock doesn’t say anything the whole evening, pretends that the scene in the hallway didn’t even happen, and John lets it go. He can feel Sherlock’s eyes on him, though, when Sherlock thinks that John is not looking. John lets that go, too.
John wakes up to a weight settling on top of him. He opens his eyes to see Sherlock sitting astride his thighs, peering down at him.
“Are you in a coma? I am told one should check this periodically in instances of head trauma.”
John can’t form words at first, his brain sluggish and awkward, though he is quite certain not for reasons that have anything to do with the head injury. Bump on the head, is the official medical term for it, he almost says, but then decides that god-knows-what in the morning is not the best time for sarcasm. “No. No coma,” he manages, weakly. Blinks helplessly.
“Good,” Sherlock merely says, in a tone that gives nothing away.
For a stretching moment – it feels like minutes but is probably no more than seconds – Sherlock sits there, heavy and warm and apparently completely unaware of the peculiarity of the tableau. John can only think of the body heat and the weight. He wonders what would happen if he sat up now. He’s thinking ridiculous thoughts now in his sleep-muddled brain, and Sherlock is staring. Sherlock is staring, and the hollow of his neck is curving into shadows, and John could—
“Go back to sleep,” Sherlock says and gets up from the bed. “Don’t fall into a coma.”
And then he’s gone.
Three paces from the door to the top of the stairs. Ten steps down the stairs. Six paces to the sofa. (What is he doing?) Five paces to the kitchen. There are two hundred and six bones in the adult human body. There are around one hundred known species of venomous snake in Australia, give or take a dozen. (What is he doing?) There is an opened box of Digestives on the windowsill. The man who owns the shop down the street is cheating on his wife with the shop help. The Western honey bee has a language, a type of dance it performs to indicate the location and distance of food to its fellow foragers; this language does not indicate height, however, making it impossible for the bee to re-locate a food source above its average flight altitude. The capuchin monkey is the only non-human animal known to systematically engage in lying to trick its group mates for personal gain.
Quietly, in his own head, Sherlock is unravelling.
Upstairs, John is lying boneless and addled, sleep-spiked hair and groggy limbs. John has a thin scar left of his navel, right above his hip, that had shone almost silvery in the light from the street lamps. Why doesn’t John sleep with the curtains shut? Is it a habit from army days, to make sure he can always instantly catalogue the room, no matter the time of day, to know where to aim? There is his gun in his bedside drawer, Sherlock knows without having looked. Although he had looked, of course he had looked —
(— at the pale stretch of skin where the tatty t-shirt had inched up over his belly and the pyjama bottom had twisted lower —)
Ridiculous. Nonsense. There were no street lamps in Afghanistan, not where the troops were stationed, only cold desert darkness, the kind you cannot possibly fathom in a metropolis like London, the kind of darkness that slams down on you before you can even realise, anticipate. Disregard for privacy, then. Yes. Much more likely. In the army, surrounded by men – and women, these days, yes, one would quickly stop caring who saw you in just your underwear or less, there would be no space, no energy left for such considerations, and privacy would certainly be a luxury—
He does not feel like this. Ever. Rarely. Sometimes. Only sometimes. He does not worry. Mycroft worries, or says he does. Mother worries, or at least tries to give him money to show she does. Sherlock does not worry. And he does not crave. He does not worry and crave, does not picture things and want to kiss that silly slow smile off John’s face. Distracting. Disturbing. Irrelevant. Inconsequential. Regretful. Hateful. All of it. Feelings. Feelings. He’d rather be a capuchin monkey, for even if they lie, they do not show remorse, no guilt, no consideration for their fellow as long as the personal need for sustenance is fulfilled. The group is a method of survival, a pact of mutual protection, no more, and the rest is left as understood. You tricked me, they would say. Fair game. Fair game, it’s what we do, we are monkeys, for heaven’s sake, what else are we supposed to do, it’s in our blood, you trick me, I trick you, no harm done, we move on.
He thinks back to the moment at the pool – that one excruciating second that had felt like a fist burrowing into his chest and slamming his heart down into his knees, when John had walked out and for a second he had thought—but no. No. It had got worse later in different ways, but at least not that. Everything but that, actually. What makes a man loyal? What makes a man offer his own life? What makes a man watch him stray flippantly into self-destruction and then drag him back from it and then stay? And that’s only the start of it. Surely all of this should have been enough already for one man to bear.
He doesn’t know why he had given in to the impulse. There would have been better ways to wake John up. He’s usually so good at ignoring impulses of that kind. The body is a vessel and its needs can be ignored. (Except that they cannot, now can they? Come on; be honest with yourself for once, Sherlock. What about the nicotine patches? What about the drugs? What about that riding crop and that silky dressing-gown and the sheer physicality of it all? Don’t say you wouldn’t miss them.)
He turns on his heels and reigns in his galloping brain.
He stares at the wall, pressing his lips into a thin, thoughtful line.
He’s unaccustomed to this.
There have not been many chances to become accustomed, come to think of it.
Upstairs, John is lying in his warm sheets, maybe back to sleep by now. Sherlock has never felt this gnawing desire to touch anybody before. Logically, he knows all the symptoms. He is only surprised by the force of it. He wonders what makes John special. Perhaps how he has paid attention to Sherlock in a way no one before has and, as a consequence, has forced Sherlock to pay attention to him in a way he has never paid attention before. Just a bit too close. Just a bit too familiar. Just a bit too good.
Feelings. God, how he detests them.
But there is John.
There is John.
Five paces from the kitchen, six from the sofa, ten steps, three. He is absolutely determined now because once one has diagnosed the situation, what else is there to do but take it to its conclusion?
“I wondered if you were coming back,” John murmurs, leaning almost languidly back against his elbows when Sherlock opens the door. The shirt is still nudged up, still showing the scar.
He loses count of the paces to the bed, doesn’t really care. The sheets are warm, but John is warmer. He doesn’t seem surprised when Sherlock straddles him again; instead he lets his head fall back between his shoulder blades, to look at Sherlock better. He seems relaxed. Sherlock leans closer.
“What if I don’t want you?” John asks.
Sherlock snaps his head back, frowning.
“What? What do you mean you don’t want me? Why wouldn’t you want me? I’m marvellous.”
John smirks up at him, widely.
Sherlock feels his heart start beating again.
“You insufferable human being,” Sherlock growls and kisses John.
John is warm and willing underneath his touch, and Sherlock is surprised at that too, feels an unfamiliar thrill settle at the pit of his stomach. He nudges his hands under John’s shirt. He can feel John’s heart beating under his fingers. And his mouth... John lets Sherlock explore it, catalogue it with his tongue, to taste and lick and experiment, until he apparently decides enough and twists his fingers into Sherlock’s hair, taking control. Sherlock doesn’t mind that, doesn’t mind that at all. John lets himself fall back fully onto the bed and takes Sherlock with him.
Somehow, between kissing and touching and not knowing how to let go, they manage to get naked. Then it’s only a delirious press of heated skin against heated skin. He should dislike it, always has, the way the press and slide slowly unwind him, unravel his mind into jumbles and coarse ragged rhythms, but it doesn’t feel half as pointless now, somehow. He doesn’t think he will wake up in the morning thinking back to this as mindless rutting, not like with the few others.
John’s touch is light, burning. He touches hesitantly at first, as if half-remembering, and then his fingers press in tighter. He arches his back to grind up against Sherlock like a salty wave, and Sherlock thinks if this is mindless rutting, he can concede it to be just fine with him.
The sweat on John’s neck tastes like copper, the sweat at the crook of his knee like gasoline. John’s cock then is neither and both, with something musky cutting the sharp edges. Sherlock finds himself lapping at it, trying to determine the compounds exactly. John’s moan at that is hoarse and needy, making Sherlock hum encouragingly.
He quite likes John like this, under him, unravelling.
end note: John and Sherlock watching children’s programmes was inspired by a lovely fic that I can no longer find. because seriously, the image sticks with you.
this is my favourite prompt ever. nonetheless, this did start out with the intention of being light and funny and cuddly, but then sort of... strayed. so it isn’t entirely what was asked. strictly speaking,there isn’t sleeping or sharing a bed in all of these, but I hope it still fills the prompt close enough.
also also, I started this ages and ages ago, and had to get this finished before the new series plays havoc with my fanon. and I haven't posted fic in years, so I'm a bit nervous here. aie.