Bri (brbsoulnomming) wrote,
Bri
brbsoulnomming

Parallel Part Nine



Part Eight

---


There’s something heavy weighing down on him. It’s not part of his dream; John may not always be able to tell that his dreams aren’t reality, but he knows reality from dreams. Being aware of his surroundings despite sleeping isn’t quite something that’s left him yet, and he knows it’s an outside force. There’s – something strange about it; he doesn’t feel threatened (quite the opposite, actually, he feels almost a sense of security), but there’s still something pinning down his arm, so John claws his way out of sleep. And then he’s awake, lying quiet and tense and a bit confused. There’s no visible threat. He’s in his room, the dim light of dawn starting to filter through the blinds on his window. It can’t have been more than an hour or two since he went to bed with –

Sherlock. Sherlock, who has not stayed on his side of the bed, but has gravitated closer to him, lying on top of John’s arm and pressing it into the mattress. No threat, just Sherlock not doing what he’s asked even in his sleep. John leans back into his pillow, the tension bleeding out of him and exhaustion taking its place. He almost sinks back into the sleep right then, with the unknown gone but the sense of comfort remaining. But though his arm’s not numb yet, he knows it will be if it stays like that, so he sighs and forces his eyes open.

John slides his arm slowly towards himself, trying to extract it without waking Sherlock.

Sherlock makes a vague noise of protest and moves even closer, so that he’s now completely squished against John’s side, freeing John’s hand in the process. John wiggles his fingers experimentally, then gives a mental shrug and goes with it.

John nudges Sherlock towards him, and Sherlock shifts easily, moving even closer than John had planned. Sherlock slips one arm around John’s waist, and settles partially on top of him, sharing John’s pillow.

His arm’s free, now, and he stretches it across the bed briefly before pulling it back. John doesn’t even question when his arm rests naturally around Sherlock, and he’s asleep again before his hand settles at the small of Sherlock’s back.

The sun’s fully up the next time John wakes, filtering weakly in through the slits in the blinds. He blinks sleepily at it, trying to determine if the faint sunlight means it’s still early, or just cloudy out. He considers rolling over to check the time, but decides it’s not worth it.

Especially as Sherlock’s still sleeping on top of him, more so than the last time John woke up. Sherlock’s half on top of him now, one leg between John’s. John’s arm is still around Sherlock, and, after waking up a little bit more, he realizes that he’s smoothing his thumb in absent circles over Sherlock’s back.

John forces himself to stop, and gently lifts his arm from around Sherlock. Sherlock apparently doesn’t like that, though, as he grumbles something and shifts in his sleep. He tucks his head down, chin resting against the crook of John’s neck, mouth and nose so close that John can feel Sherlock’s breath against his skin.

That itself is enough to make John want to squirm a bit, but even worse is that Sherlock shifts his leg as well. Just a little, but enough that it’s now not only between John’s legs, it’s pressing firmly against John’s groin.

John’s breath hitches, and it’s only by sheer force of will that he manages not to rock his hips upward into the sudden contact. He’s already hard, but that’s not terribly surprising, considering he’d woken up half-there already.

“Shit,” John curses, then freezes.

Sherlock shows no sign of waking, though, breathing still slow and even.

“Shit,” John mutters again, because the situation warrants more cursing. “This is really not helping me stop being in love with you.”

Sherlock’s response is silence, but then, that’s what John was hoping for.

John sinks down into the mattress, trying to get away from Sherlock’s leg so he can think clearly enough to try and figure out how to get out of bed without waking Sherlock (though admittedly, that’s more out of self-preservation and absolutely not wanting Sherlock to be witness to this than not wanting to disturb Sherlock’s sleep).

Unfortunately, Sherlock’s leg stays pressed against him, and John’s movement prompts another shift from Sherlock, his nose brushing against John’s jaw and his thigh dragging slowly across John’s cock. This time, John can’t stop himself from rocking his hips a bit upwards, legs spreading just the tiniest bit.

And then realizes that just as Sherlock’s leg is pressed between his, John’s leg is between Sherlock’s, and Sherlock is just as hard as he is. John rocks experimentally upwards, pressing his thigh into Sherlock’s groin at the same time, and trying not to moan at the feel of Sherlock’s cock against him, or the warmth of Sherlock’s skin against his own cock, even through two layers of fabric.

John had half-expected Sherlock to stiffen at the contact, perhaps even pull away, but Sherlock gives a soft whimper of pleasure and chases the pressure, grinding against John’s leg and pushing his own more firmly against John. Emboldened, John rocks his hips, lifting them to meet Sherlock’s. His arm has found its way around Sherlock again, and he slides his hand under Sherlock’s shirt, smoothing his fingertips over Sherlock’s skin. John stretches his hand, palm splaying across the small of Sherlock’s back and thumb pushing under the waistband of Sherlock’s pyjama bottoms to stroke at the soft skin there.

Sherlock’s hips jerk against his, and he buries his face closer to John, lips pressed lightly against John’s neck and nose nudging at his jaw as Sherlock makes pleased, sleepy snuffling sounds.

Sleepy. Because Sherlock is still asleep, and John is far past the point where he can excuse his own behaviours for half-asleep reactions to what’s going on.

John pulls his arm from around Sherlock and rolls out from under him, this time not as concerned about waking Sherlock as he is about getting out of there.

Sherlock blinks blearily at him, looking at him from behind half-lidded eyes. “John?” he asks, voice thick and confused.

John glances away, not wanting to meet his eyes. “I’m going to take a shower,” he says hurriedly as he ducks out of the room, knowing he’s running away, but at the moment, not caring.

He locks the bathroom door behind him and rests his head against it, breathing slightly heavily and feeling a bit disgusted with himself.

Brilliantly handled, all of that. Molesting his best friend while he was sleeping had absolutely been the best way to get over said best friend, not to mention how much headway it made towards convincing Sherlock that John’s feelings towards him were entirely platonic. It certainly wasn’t at all wrong and definitely didn’t make John seem like a creep. Especially not since he’s still thinking about warm, soft skin, the feel of Sherlock against him, the way Sherlock sounded when –

John sighs and bangs his forehead against the door before pushing away. He turns the water in the shower as cold as it will go and steps in, grimacing at the shock as the spray hits him.

He doesn’t actually shower, just stands under the cold water for as long as he can stand, forcing his thoughts onto anything but Sherlock. Finally, he switches the shower off and climbs out, towelling himself dry. If John’s lucky, it’s been long enough that Sherlock’s left his room, and John can hide in there until he’s able to come up with some excuse. If John’s really lucky, Sherlock will just ignore what happened, and John won’t have to make any excuse. He ties the towel around his waist and opens the door.

Sherlock’s standing there, arms crossed and glaring at him.

So much for John being really lucky.

“It’s generally considered impolite to confiscate the only shower in the flat both before bed and in the morning,” Sherlock informs him irritably. “Especially as I now have to wait even longer should I want any hot water.”

John finds his own irritation rising at the tone, despite that Sherlock’s actually right, and John really has no place to be annoyed. “There should be plenty of hot water left, considering I didn’t use any.”

Sherlock raises one eyebrow. “Oh?”

John flushes at realizing what he’s just implied, but refuses to respond to Sherlock’s prodding and instead pushes past him, muttering, “Shower’s all yours.”

He feels Sherlock’s gaze on him for a moment, then it disappears and he hears the sound of the bathroom door closing. John retreats into his room, shutting his own door behind him. He crosses his room automatically, dropping the towel on the floor and pulling on a pair of pants.

But getting dressed doesn’t seem worth the effort, and one glance at the clock tells him why. It’s not even noon yet, which means John really didn’t get all that much sleep. John falls back on his bed, scrubbing his hand over his face and closing his eyes.

At least it gives him an excuse not to leave his room just yet. Maybe he can just hide up here all day, and by the time he comes out, Sherlock will have found a new case or something else to distract him. It’s – actually possible, with Sherlock.

John dozes, drifting in and out, and he’s not really certain how much time has passed when he hears a knock on the door. He mutters something that might have been come in, but doesn’t move from the bed.

The door opens and closes, and John turns his head to see Sherlock standing somewhat uncertainly in front of it.

“You didn’t come downstairs,” Sherlock says.

“Mmm,” John agrees. “Still tired. Apparently that wasn’t enough sleep.”

Sherlock frowns. “You did sleep, though? No nightmares?”

“No nightmares,” John confirms, unsurprised that Sherlock has figured out what sometimes keeps him from sleeping at night, though he hadn’t known a few days ago. “You would’ve noticed if I had.” Then again, considering what Sherlock slept through –

John cuts that thought off forcibly, turning his gaze away from Sherlock to stare at the ceiling. He waits for it, expecting Sherlock to bring up that morning.

“I’ve never noticed them before,” Sherlock says, sounding irritated.

Surprised, John turns to look at him again. “You wouldn’t have, unless you were in the same room as me. They’re quiet.” Not in his head, of course, in his head they’re louder than he’d ever thought possible, even the bits that are flashbacks louder than they’d been in real life, but he’s never woken up loud. Panting, sweating, crying, yes, and even on occasion with a first shoved into his mouth as if to silence a scream, but never loud.

Sherlock looks closely at him. “They’re quiet, or you’re quiet?”

John doesn’t look away, but he doesn’t answer, either.

Sherlock nods as if John had. He remains silent for a moment, then says quietly, “They’re of the war?”

“Yes,” John agrees. If it was anyone else, he would have left it there. But it’s Sherlock, and so he finds himself continuing with, “Mostly flashbacks of things I never even wanted to remember, let alone relive. Sometimes things twist, turn out differently. Worse, or better.” He’s never sure which is worse, really, seeing horrible things happen in his dreams that he knows didn’t actually happen, or not having something horrible happen in his dreams and then having to wake up to the reality that it actually did.

“How often are they?” Sherlock asks.

“Not very often, anymore,” John says. He considers adding, ‘since I met you,’ but he doesn’t. Instead, he gives up on hoping that Sherlock will leave and allow him to go back to sleep, and rolls out of bed. “Did you want something?”

Sherlock stares at him.

John frowns. “What?”

“You’re not wearing a shirt,” Sherlock says.

That – actually hadn’t occurred to him until now. He’s somewhat surprised; normally he’s very aware of that. “No,” John agrees. “I’m not.”

Sherlock takes a step forward, eyes on John’s shoulder. “Can I-”

“No,” John says, cutting him off, even though he isn’t sure exactly what Sherlock was going to ask. Something about his scar, and John doesn’t want to talk about it right then. Not even to Sherlock. Especially not to Sherlock. He doesn’t know where they are after this morning, after everything, and John doesn’t want to start a loaded conversation when they’re on shaky ground. That, and he knows there’s something Sherlock’s been wanting. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have come in here. “What do you want?”

“What makes you think I want something?” Sherlock asks.

“You came looking for me in my room, for one,” John says. "And you're hanging about, asking me if I've slept well."

"Isn't it customary, to ask that of someone who's spent the night sleeping beside you?" Sherlock asks. "I would have done earlier, but you were so eager to get in that second shower."

John's shoulders sag a bit. He wants to stay irritated, but really, he's got no ground to stand on. If Sherlock wants to drag this out, that's his prerogative. John is the one in the wrong here. "I'm sorry," he says softly.

Sherlock waves his hand dismissively. "Don't be. There was plenty of hot water left."

John reminds himself of what he's just thought about Sherlock's prerogative. "I didn't mean that."

There's silence for a moment, then Sherlock asks, "Will you explain it, then, if you'll apologize for it? Why you fled?"

John stares at him. "That's not - I didn't-"

Sherlock frowns. "Didn't what?"

"Nothing," John says, shaking his head at himself. "Just - I'm sorry. You were asleep, and I was stupid. Stupider than usual, even."

There's an even longer period of silence. Finally Sherlock says, "I wasn't asleep."

"What?" John asks, sure he's misheard.

"I was awake," Sherlock clarifies. "I just didn't want you to know that."

John's moving almost without realizing it, elbow tucked back and fist extended before he's consciously aware of it. He stops himself before he actually punches Sherlock, but it's close, and his arm shakes with the effort.

Sherlock stares at him, eyes wide and concerned.

"What are you doing to me?" John asks, quiet and angry. "What the hell kind of game is this, Sherlock? Are you trying to see how far you can push me before I break? Did you just want to see how much self control I had when faced with the chance to molest you in your sleep?" He's shouting now, but he can't stop himself. "Congratulations. You caught me. I have no self control when it comes to you, but I can't believe you didn't already know that."

"You have remarkable self control, actually. More than I expected. You left too soon," Sherlock tells him. "You were supposed to continue, and then I would 'wake up' and could become much more actively involved."

John blinks, a bit disbelieving. "Is that supposed to make it better? You were just manipulating me?"

"I was gathering data," Sherlock snaps. "Yes, that required a small amount of manipulation, but it was nothing serious."

"Nothing seri- Sherlock, you made me-" John cuts off, because, no, Sherlock didn't make him do anything. Not really. "I thought you were asleep, Sherlock, and I did it anyway. I took advantage of you. How are you not upset?"

"Possibly because you're being an idiot," Sherlock says, irritated. "I was obviously interested."

"Your body was interested, that doesn't mean your mind was," John says, too upset to catch on to the fact that Sherlock is more or less implying that all of him was interested. "You could have been thinking of someone else, or just reacting to what I was doing in your sleep, or just because it was morning. For a few moments, it didn't occur to me to wonder if you'd still be interested if you were awake." And then, because he can't seem to stop himself now that he’s being honest, "If it had, I'm not sure I would have cared."

"Clearly you cared, considering you stopped once it had occurred to you," Sherlock snaps, but it's absent, as though his full attention isn't in it. Then he says, quietly, "Oh."

"Oh?" John asks.

"I - you may have been right," Sherlock says, sounding miserable at that. "I should have - when you left, I considered the possibility that it was because you had only just then became aware enough to realize that I was the one in bed with you. I shouldn't have assumed that you would realize that wouldn't be the case with me."

John bristles the tiniest bit at Sherlock's tone, but ignores it. He's gotten used to the fact that Sherlock can say that he shouldn't have thought John was smart enough to figure something out and actually mean it as an apology. Instead, he asks, "It wouldn't be the case with you?"

Sherlock glances away, looking the slightest bit uncomfortable. "Desire - this - for me - it's happened before, but it's not particularly common. Certainly not for something as simple as it being morning. Rest assured, John, if I am aroused," And here Sherlock looks back at him, gray eyes intense. "It is because of you."

John sits down on the edge of his bed, hard. He really should say something, anything, but he can't seem to move his gaze from Sherlock's, and he's a little bit afraid that if he asks anything, he'll find out he's misunderstanding. Finally, he swallows and asks, "When did this happen?"

Sherlock looks briefly irritated. “I realized it a few days ago, but I suspect it’s been longer than that.”

That is definitely not what John had been expecting. “What?” John asks, surprise and a bit of frustration over-riding his previous fear of questioning it too much.

Sherlock scowls. “Yes, well, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m generally pre-occupied with solving murders. It leaves me little time to devote to figuring out less important matters.”

John raises his eyebrows. “This isn’t important to you?” he asks, even though he knows that wasn’t how Sherlock had intended it.

Sherlock’s scowl fades into a look of concern. “Of course it is, John, I only-”

John’s considering letting him continue, but Sherlock’s looking at him almost earnestly, and John doesn’t have the heart to. “I know.”

“Do you?” Sherlock asks, eyes intense again. “This is possibly one of the most important things I’ve figured out.”

“Then why are you just telling me this now?” John asks, frustrated again.

“Because I’ve only just now gotten enough data to attempt to confirm my theory,” Sherlock replies.

John doesn’t bat an eye at finding out Sherlock’s collected data on his own feelings before reaching a conclusion (of course he has, he’s Sherlock), and Sherlock pretending to be asleep this morning makes a bit more sense now. Except – “I thought you said you’d figured it out a few days ago.”

“That I had feelings for you, yes. I was uncertain if you returned them. No, to be more accurate, until yesterday I was reasonably certain you didn’t. Either I-” Sherlock cuts off.

Most likely because John is staring at him.

Uncertainty flickers in Sherlock’s eyes. “I’m wrong. Or I’m saying this incorrectly. John, I’m trying to – I want-” He cuts off again, aggravated, and begins to pace. “Why are you – is this – so infuriating? I can learn everything important about anyone, even you, with one look, why can I not figure you out?”

Something about Sherlock’s uncertainty and frustration quells John’s own, and he suddenly feels quite calm. He finally understands, after so long of feeling like he’s the only person in the conversation who has no idea what’s going on. It’s almost intoxicating. “Because you can’t learn everything important about me in one look.”

Sherlock stills, watching him closely. “No. I can’t. I can see you’re an army doctor, that you missed the excitement, that you’re a good man, but not that you’d think I was brilliant, or would kill someone for me, or would make me want to be good, however impossible it may be.”

John wants to say that it’s not impossible, that Lestrade saw the potential for goodness in Sherlock even before John was there. That Sherlock is already heading there, that really, parts of him are already good, it just seems that no one but John can see it. Not even Sherlock.

What he says instead is, “I’m sorry.”

Sherlock deflates. Something in his eyes shatters, for the briefest moment, then it’s gone behind a mask of neutrality and his shoulders straighten. “Don’t be. It’s nothing. As I’ve said before, this isn’t-”

“No, Sherlock, I’m sorry because I assumed you knew,” John says. “When I tried to kiss you at the warehouse and you stopped me, I assumed you knew the way I felt about you and were telling me no.”

The mask is still there as Sherlock looks at him. “I didn’t stop you. I stopped myself from acting before I had enough data.”

“You shouldn’t have. Then all of this could’ve been avoided,” John says, smiling wryly. “But then, I should have asked, and I didn’t. I was too nervous to bring it up.”

Sherlock smiles, suddenly and smugly. “You aren’t any better at this than I am.”

“Sorry?” John asks.

“For all your dates, all the stories I hear about you, you weren’t any better in this than I was,” Sherlock says.

John frowns, and doesn’t even have to ask who he’s heard stories from. Mike, most likely, as he’s the only one who both knew John when he was at uni and talks to Sherlock. Unless Sherlock’s been hunting down John’s old friends. “Yeah, well, it’s a bit different with you, all right?” John says irritably. “I’ve never fallen in love with my best friend before. I had to be more cautious than usual, seeing as I’d rather have you as a friend than not have you at all.”

Sherlock stops smiling, and stares intently at him again. “Do you mean that?”

John mentally curses the things he blurts out when he’s annoyed. “Which bit?”

“All of it,” Sherlock says.

“Are you my best friend? Am I in love with you? Do I need you too much to lose you, so that I’ll take you whatever way I can get? Yes,” John says quietly. “To all of the above.”

“John,” Sherlock murmurs, taking a few steps towards him. “Thank you.”

“For what?” John asks.

“No one has ever – my friendship has never been so important to someone that they were afraid to lose it,” Sherlock admits, smiling humourlessly.

John is tempted to say that he never said he was afraid, but Sherlock is obviously trying to hide how much that means to him, and anyway, it’s true, whether or not he’d actually said it. “You don’t have to thank me for that. It’s not anything I did, it just is.”

“Perhaps for you,” Sherlock says softly. Then, “It seems this is another first you are for me, John. Both in not wanting to lose my friendship, and-” He looks away. “That’s why I pretended to be asleep this morning. I was afraid. If you didn’t respond, I could fall back on being unaware, and then I wouldn’t have made you leave.”

John’s silent for a long moment, processing that. He supposes it’s the closest Sherlock will come to saying that he doesn’t want to lose John, either. “We’re both awake now,” John says finally.

Sherlock looks back at him. “Yes.”

John stands, and kisses him.

Whenever John had imagined first kissing Sherlock, it'd always been after some life and death situation. Mostly because that was the only time he could imagine being worked up enough to forget why he kept himself from kissing Sherlock.

But this is so much better. This is private, just the two of them, like it should be. Like it always is, because they're the only two that really understand each other.

John feels like he should be a bit concerned, that the only person who understands him is a self-proclaimed sociopath and, despite that bit being absolutely not true, is definitely a bit crazy. But he can't bring himself to care, not with the pleased, encouraging noises Sherlock is making as John strokes his tongue across the roof of Sherlock's mouth. And anyway, John's a bit crazy, too, so it fits.

That thought makes John giggle when they break apart for a bit of air.

"What?" Sherlock asks.

"Nothing," John replies. "This is perfect. You're perfect."

"Aren't you the one who's always telling people not to say things like that to me, because my ego doesn't need to be any bigger?" Sherlock says.

John hooks his thumbs in the waistband of Sherlock's trousers. "You have said I'm always the exception."

"That seems to - ah-" Sherlock's breath hitches slightly as John pulls Sherlock’s hips forward to meet his own, sliding them together. "Remain the truth."

John's not surprised that both of them are nearly fully aroused already, given the way this morning had ended. Sherlock’s rocking against him of his own accord now, and John releases Sherlock’s trousers. He curls one hand around the back of Sherlock’s neck as he kisses him again, harder this time.

Sherlock runs his hands up John’s back, fingers digging in a bit, and John can feel short fingernails scraping lightly against his skin. Then Sherlock’s touch turns lighter as he strokes a hand over John’s left shoulder.

John jerks slightly, teeth scraping against Sherlock’s lower lip. He pulls back slightly to apologize, but Sherlock makes a familiar noise at the loss of contact. Almost a whimper, but more frustrated, and the last time John’d heard Sherlock sound like that, the circumstances had been entirely different, though it had made John’s breath hitch all the same.

Interesting, the voice in his head that sounds a lot like Sherlock notes. Normally John ignores it, but this time, he agrees. Definitely something to explore, though not right then.

"Are you certain this is what you want?" John asks quietly. He needs to ask, to have his moment of uncertainty while he's still able to function well enough to ask.

"Absolutely," Sherlock says. Then, "But-"

John tries to shove aside the sudden tightness in his chest. "But?"

"If we do, you can't - don't leave. I'm not certain I can handle it," Sherlock says, his voice even softer than John's question.

John'd been wrong. Apparently Sherlock will get a lot closer to saying he doesn't want to lose John. "The last thing I ever want to do is let you go. You're stuck with me forever."

He's barely finished speaking when Sherlock's kissing him again, pushing against him with enough force to send them both tumbling onto the bed. John breaks the kiss and flips them over, straddling Sherlock's hips.

"You have far too many clothes on," John informs him, sliding his hands under the hem of Sherlock's shirt and pushing the fabric up.

Sherlock apparently agrees, because after John’s divested him of his shirt, he makes quick work of his trousers and pants before tugging at John’s own. John shifts so he can get rid of them completely, shoving them somewhere to the side without noticing or caring where they end up.

It’s skin against skin now, the friction so much better than it’d been this morning, and John knows very well he’s not going to last long.

Sherlock tugs him down for another kiss, and this time John scrapes his teeth intentionally across Sherlock’s lower lip, wanting to see Sherlock’s reaction. Sherlock’s hips grind against his, and the fingers gripping John’s good shoulder dig in harder.

“John,” Sherlock murmurs without really breaking the kiss, and John can feel Sherlock’s lips forming his name against his own.

John’s intending to reply, really, he is, but then Sherlock works a hand in between them and wraps his fingers around John’s cock, stroking roughly. John comes with Sherlock’s name on his lips, though he isn’t certain he says it out loud. Sherlock thrusts against him a few more times before following, and John collapses half on top of him, panting heavily.

After a few moments, John cleans them up as best as he can with his discarded pants, because a trip to the bathroom just doesn’t seem worth it right then. He wraps one arm around Sherlock and pulls him close, and Sherlock sprawls easily half on top of him, as though John’s a much more comfortable place to rest than the mattress. John rests his head against the pillow, and Sherlock takes over the rest of it, fidgeting around until his face is buried in the crook of John’s neck. John closes his eyes, twining his fingers in Sherlock’s hair.

Sherlock has one arm tossed across John’s chest, and he traces along the scar lines on John’s shoulder. John tenses at the first touch, but relaxes as Sherlock continues to run his fingertips over the puckered skin.

“How did you get this?” Sherlock asks, his breath puffing against John’s neck.

“Fiona asked me that,” John says absently. “Asked me to show it to her, too.”

Sherlock’s hand stills, and he tenses a bit. “Did you?”

“No,” John says.

“Why not?” Sherlock asks.

“Because I hadn’t even shown it to you, yet,” John replies.

Sherlock’s tension fades. “Did you tell her, then?”

“Some,” John says. “But I didn’t really want to talk about it, not with someone who wasn’t you. Even though I suspected you might already know.”

“Yes, well,” Sherlock says. “Your track record of being correct on things you think I know isn’t exactly stunning.”

“Shut up,” John says, but there’s no heat in the comment.

“No,” Sherlock replies, smirking against John’s skin. “You’re partially right, however. I likely could have found out.”

“Why didn’t you?” John asks curiously, finally opening his eyes.

“Because I wanted you to tell me,” Sherlock says. “I like it better that way. Whether you tell me in words, or the way you walk, or the things you own, it isn’t the same if I don’t find things out from you.”

John cards his fingers through Sherlock’s hair again. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

“It was intended as one,” Sherlock replies. “Well?”

John tugs gently on Sherlock’s hair until he lifts his head, and John kisses him, slow and sweet. Then he says, “My unit was ambushed. I was tending to those who’d been hit when I was shot myself.”

“And you continued to work on your patient?” Sherlock asks.

John smiles. “You have a high opinion of my bravery.”

“Or your stupidity,” Sherlock counters. “I’m right, though. There are obvious signs of infection, and that’s less likely to have happened if you stopped to take care of yourself.”

“You’re right,” John agrees. “But that isn’t what caused the infection, or at least, not directly. We were captured, and I had to remove the bullet without much equipment. The infection set in while we were planning an escape. I kept it together until we were out, but I was pretty delusional by the time we were picked up. I don’t remember much of it after that.”

If Sherlock notices that there’s no emotion in John’s voice, or the way John’s grip on him has tightened, he doesn’t call attention to it.

“People see you as ordinary, and I think sometimes that’s the way you like it,” Sherlock says softly. “But you’re not, and I don’t think you ever will be.”

“Thanks,” John mutters sarcastically.

“You’re welcome,” Sherlock tells him, for all appearances completely sincere. “Ordinary is boring. You are never – well. Hardly ever boring. You’re a bit mad, just like me. Maybe that’s why you can put up with me. Why you kept trying – keep trying, long past when anyone else would have given up. When everyone else has given up.”

John rather feels like he wants to track down everyone who’s given up on Sherlock (and, for that matter, everyone who’s informed Sherlock he doesn’t have a heart) and bash their heads in for leaving when they could have had this. For not realizing that when Sherlock smiles at you – really smiles, true and genuine and happy – it’s worth almost anything. He doesn’t, because that would require moving, which is the last thing he wants to do right then.

“I love you,” John says.

“I don’t know why,” Sherlock says. “But thank you.” Then, when John looks expectantly at him, clearly waiting for a response, he adds, “And I you, obviously.”

“I don’t always see what’s obvious to you,” John says.

“Mmm. That much is painfully true,” Sherlock agrees. He spider-walks his fingers over John’s scar for a few minutes, then says, “You always cover this up, even around me.”

“I don’t like it,” John admits, open and honest, though Sherlock is the first person he’s ever said that to.

“I do,” Sherlock tells him.

John shifts to look at Sherlock’s face. “You do?”

“Yes,” Sherlock says. “It assisted in bringing you here. And it’s part of you, part of what makes you John. Of course I like it.”

John swallows against the lump in his throat and tries to find an appropriate response to that. He can’t, so he kisses the top of Sherlock’s head instead.

“Are you still tired?” Sherlock asks.

“Yes,” John replies, closing his eyes. “More so, considering.”

“I’m not,” Sherlock says in what sounds suspiciously like a pout.

John opens one eye. “We did promise to visit Sam and Fiona today.”

Sherlock’s arm tightens around John’s chest. “Perhaps another hour.”

John smiles and closes his eye again. “Another hour it is, then.”

He nudges Sherlock closer with his arm, and Sherlock nuzzles against his neck. This time, when he finds himself rubbing absent circles against the small of Sherlock’s back, he doesn’t stop himself. And when he drifts off to the warmth of Sherlock’s skin under his palm and Sherlock’s breath against his neck, he has absolutely no concerns that this is a bad idea.

---

Epilogue
Tags: !fandom: sherlock, fic, parallel, sherlock/john
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