Many had (have) tried to bring the great Sherlock Holmes to his knees. Assassins, thugs, Moriarty, Anderson - they had all wanted to win, wanted to see the detective bruised and battered, broken beyond recognition, ruined. Kneeling in tatters at their feet while they gloated over their victory. But the fact remained that as much as they had wanted it, they hadn't been able to do it. (No, the only person with that kind of power over Sherlock was Sherlock himself, and John somehow managed to find this more worrying than the preserved human fingers he'd found in his favourite teacup the week before-)
It was, however, slightly bothersome how many of those people thought John was the key to bringing Sherlock down (an image of a burning helium balloon came to John's mind), and decided to kidnap the doctor. (Well, to be honest, the number of times John got kidnapped not because of Sherlock, but because of his own bad luck and horrible timing was slightly more worrisome and bothersome than that, but you can choose the people you're... (in love with) friends with in a way you can't decide whether the circus act you're going to with your date Saturday evening will be performed by the Chinese mafia or not, though, really, John should've known better than to accept any gifts from Sherlock and not expect to spend the night running from or after some rather shady people through some rather shady streets, or, well, getting taken hostage and then spending the night tied to a chair, sometimes with the added benefit of having to watch your date get almost-killed in the most ridiculos way - really? Complicated Chinese spear-throwing machine? Really?) (John didn't want to touch the one time he'd been kidnapped and used as a mouthpiece by Moriarty with a ten foot pole.)
And it wasn't that John regretted meeting Sherlock (well, only sometimes, when he got injured - again - and the nurses refused to give him any painkillers because they might put him to sleep, and sleeping with a concussion was bad, bad, and John should already know this seeing as he was a doctor. Yeah, because knowing the difference between the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the gluteus maximus really helped with, you know, having been shot or sliced or having had his head bashed in and then being refused painkillers). But, well, John still (stupidly, stupidly) didn't (usually) regret meeting and then becoming friends (lovers) with Sherlock. It had got rid of his psychosomatic limp, for one (and of the chance of ever going to bed with someone of the female gender, for another).
And even though it was a strange thing, that... thing between John and Sherlock, sometimes nice and sometimes impossibly frustrating but most of the time simply... real, John could never quite convince himself that it meant as much for Sherlock as it did for him. And that was why Sherlock was the consulting detective and John was his part-time assistant, not the other way around - John could be so terribly,terribly blind sometimes...
That is what goes through John Watson's head (only at a much faster speed) after he arrives home on one dreary winter evening, tired from work and from carrying two bags which felt heavy enough to be filled with lead but which, John knew, contained merely groceries, and finds the living room spotless. Well, as close to spotless as any room belonging to two bachelors can get, in any case.
There are no files spread out haphazardly on the floor, no dust bunnies hiding in the corners, no petri dishes containing strangely-coloured molds... John is immediately suspicious, even though the skull is still on the fireplace mantle and the many, many carpet stains (a natural result of Sherlock's experiments) are still quite visible... everywhere, if John were to be honest. Still, the situation is so strange, so unlike anything John had ever encountered (and what did it say about him and Sherlock, that John's far more used to having guns pointed at him than he was to coming home to a clean apartment?)...
John gently, soundlessly, puts the grocery bags on the floor, toes off his shoes, retrieves his cane from under the couch and starts checking, as quietly as he can manage, every room of his (and Sherlock's) apartment. The bathroom has no human or animal organs in the sink, or in the bathtub, (or armed intruders, for that matter) which makes John suspicious, and the lack of dust and crime-scene photos scattered everywhere intensifies the feeling. He hears a strange noise coming from the kitchen, a raspy, scratchy sort of sound that makes him grip his cane harder, holding it like a baseball bat (and oh, how John regretted leaving his gun upstairs) even as he slowly starts to make his way to the kitchen, taking great care not to be seen.
He pauses before he enters, Back touching the wall and hands on the cane sweating, and then he quickly barges in, eyes frantically searching for the origin of the strange noise he'd heard. He finds... Sherlock, wearing safety goggles and yellow latex gloves, on his knees, scrubbing away at a reddish looking stain. It's... not what he was expecting (immediately, he starts feeling stupid - well, what had he been expecting? A black clad ninja obsessed with breaking into people's houses and pretending to be a maid?)
Sherlock raises his eyes from the stain and looks at John (who is still standing in the doorway, cane held in his hands like a baseball bat) and the expression on his face is both surprised and a little guilty.
"Um, Sherlock, what..." John starts but has no idea how to finish. "What... what are you doing?" he tries again, saying the first thing that comes to his mind.
"Cleaning the kitchen, obviously, seeing as I'm in the kitchen, wearing the appropriate protective equipment and scrubbing-" Sherlock replies in a condescending tone, but is interrupted by John.
"Yeah, I got that, but... why?" asks John with an uncomprehending look upon his face, even as he lowers his cane and steps towards his (lover) flatmate. Sherlock doesn't answer for a few seconds, looks away and is that-is that a blush? John can't be sure, but he thinks Sherlock's cheeks might be a little redder than before. He can't decide whether to think Sherlock had done something idiotic again and... this, whatever this was, was supposed to be his way of saying sorry, or if he was ill and the redness in his cheeks was caused by fever, or if he, himself, was feverish and delirious and everything was just a construct of his own mind... Still, he didn't feel feverish, even though nothing really made sense-
Sherlock mumbles something under his breath but John doesn't catch it, too distracted by trying to make sense of the whole, extremely strange situation. "What?" John asks, his attention once again on Sherlock.
"It is February 14th," Sherlock repeats, enunciating the words slowly, as though John were a small, uncomprehending child. John thinks he might as well have been one, because Sherlock's reply makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. "Also known as Valentine's Day," Sherlock continues, and John starts to have a vague idea what it is all about.
"Valentine's Day...?" John prompts, slightly less baffled as to why, but still confused as to why this.
"Traditionally, lovers exchange gifts on this day to symbolise their attachment and commitment to each other," Sherlock explains, but the only thing John can say to that is-
"But why the..." John gestures hopelessly to the kitchen and the living room and Sherlock, still wearing the safety goggles and hideous yellow gloves "... cleaning?" he finishes, lamely. Sherlock's cheeks start to redden even more, but he shows no other signs of being affected by John's words, merely takes a deep breath an replies in a cool, detached voice, still not looking at John.
"Seeing as, yesterday, when I asked you if you had anything you wished from me, you remarked upon the... living conditions, and said nothing more-" John does vaguely remember saying something scathing about the sheep entrails in the bathtub "-I deduced that what you desired was not so much the traditional gifts of flowers and chocolate as it was... this," Sherlock finishes with a defiant motion of his chin, even as John can feel his eyes widening and his jaw dropping.
Sherlock... had just cleaned the apartment. Sherlock had given him a gift. For Valentine's Day, no less. He'd just cleaned the living room, and the bathrooms, and gone down on his knees to scrub the kitchen floor (John didn't dare hope the bedrooms had been cleaned, too).
Sherlock... is standing in front of him, looking mighy embarrassed, John realises, and then he sighs and takes the safety goggles off of his (friend flatmate) lover's head and smiles fondly at him, still a little bewildered but mostly humbled about the lengths at which Sherlock was willing to go, for him of all people (John knows Sherlock would take a bullet for him, even die -or at least fake his death-, if that's what it took to save him, but that is that, and Sherlock doesn't feel anything about it, either way. The detective hates cleaning, however, and doing something he absolutely abhors because of one of John's off handed remarks is something else altogether). John can feel a warm weight growing in his stomach, and, truly, he doesn't know how he'd ended up feeling sappy and maudlin about someone cleaning his -their- flat, but he doesn't mind it. He doesn't mind it one bit.
He cups Sherlock's jaw with one hand, gently turning his face towards him even while the detective's eyes stubbornly refuse to look at the other and his cheeks truly begin to redden. John holds in the snort that wants to escape at Sherlock's childish behaviour, and raises himself on his tiptoes (damn the other and his tallness, he thinks fondly) and closes his eyes, presses his still smiling lips to the other's.
The kiss is nothing more than a fleeting touch, really, but it does manage to make John the center of Sherlock's attention. The center of a rather confused yet still strangely smug Sherlock's attention, to be specific, and it only serves to remind John of how little his lover understands human interaction. Honestly, cleaning the house for Valentine's Day? He can't keep his snort in at that thought, and Sherlock rolls his eyes, tries to put some distance between them, but John doesn't let him, quickly grabs two handfuls of Sherlock's light blue shirt and pulls him back ("Where do you think you're going? No, no, come back,") and then they are kissing again, less tentative this time, hungrier (almost a little spiteful on Sherlock's part), and John is pulling Sherlock as close to him as possible, one hand moving upwards to thread through his hair while the other tightens its hold on the shirt. Sherlock lets himself be lead, moves and bends and twists to John's liking, putting his hands on the other's hips and puling, kissing and kissing and kissing John until the hunger comes and goes, and there's not enough oxygen going to Sherlock's brain, really, there isn't, and he can't think straight anymore, and, oh, oh, John broke him again.
The kiss slows down eventually, mellows, becomes a press of foreheads and gentle, lazy touches of reddened lips, and then they part, slowly, slowly, and John's expression goes from kiss-dumbed to something else, something amused and disbelieving, and he takes Sherlock's hand, drags him to his (their) bedroom and lays him down, down, down on the bed and then crawls on top of him-
They kiss and fuck and make love until the sky is dark and then light, until they're spent, sweaty, sore, until even lying together in the same bed feels overstimulating, and then they fall asleep in a tangled heap of goose pimpled limbs.
They wake up late the next day, and John teases Sherlock relentlessly about his Valentine's Day gift, or at least until Sherlock bribes John with an early morning blow-job atop the kitchen table that ends with scraped knees and almost getting caught by Mrs Hudson, but that's okay. (And John's sweater is ruined by the chemicals that were on Sherlock's gloves, but that's okay, too.)