Actions

Work Header

Whatever Remains

Work Text:

“You’re still in my bed,” are the first words John hears as he struggles up through the haze of a very satisfactory slumber. He knows who said them without opening his eyes, but he takes a moment to appreciate the rough timbre of the voice, scratchy with sleep.

John smiles and rubs a hand over his face, moving one arm down his body to rest against his belly. His hand meets cotton; at least he had the presence of mind to toss on a vest before he conked out. He hates sleeping in the nude, hasn’t done since Kandahar. He feels happy–sore, and slightly sticky, but happy–and he wants to snuggle himself straight down into the covers, wriggle his toes and cocoon himself in the feeling for the foreseeable future.

Instead, John blinks his eyes open. It’s dark in the room, the thick curtains blocking out most of the sun’s eager rays, and it takes a moment for him to make out Sherlock, standing at the foot of the bed in nothing but a pair of pajama bottoms, staring at him. “Seems I am, yep,” John says, rounding out his response with a hearty yawn. “Time is it?”

Sherlock blinks once before immediately answering, “Half nine. You’re still in my bed.”

“And you’re repeating yourself,” John says with a smile, struggling to shimmy up into a sitting position, wincing at the way the muscles in his arse and arms give complaint at the movement. He doesn’t remember sex causing such a strain on his body in the past, but, well, this is Sherlock Holmes. John can’t help but smile–what he is sure is quite a goofy smile–at the thought. “What’s that about?”

Sherlock’s brow is deeply furrowed, but it takes another moment for John to notice, as he’s heretofore been a bit distracted by all of the glorious skin on display. You tasted that skin just last night John reminds himself, and finds his mouth somehow both parched and simultaneously flooded with saliva.

It’s another beat before John’s attention is drawn to the hard line of Sherlock’s mouth. He’s immediately distressed by the idea that Sherlock is confused as to why John is still there. “Sherlock…” He doesn’t even know where to begin. He’s never had to deal with this sort of morning-after fallout, and he feels very much like a fish out of water.

But the look is instantly gone from Sherlock’s face, replaced with a placid mask of indifference. That troubles John even more, but he can’t think of a thing to say in response. “I’m making tea,” and with that, Sherlock is gone from the room, not bothering to wait for John’s reply.

John frowns, eyes falling on the empty doorway–Sherlock never makes the tea–as he listens to the sounds of Sherlock knocking about in the kitchen. It’s troubling–to say the least–that Sherlock had been surprised to find John still in bed. After all, they had a wonderful evening the night previous, knocking knees, pressing sloppy kisses into one another’s skin, laughing. It really had been fantastic; not perfect, but wonderful. John couldn’t remember ever brimming with such unabashed delight at providing pleasure to another person.

So what had changed?

John had wiped them both down, gone to his room for a new set of shorts and a clean vest, and returned to Sherlock, crawling in beside him and resting carefully on his back. He’d been sure that Sherlock would have wanted to say something–something completely ridiculous and on the nose that would have likely killed the mood, but something nonetheless so entirely Sherlock that John wouldn’t have felt it out of place–but he’d simply stared at John for a long, searching moment and closed his eyes. And that, John realizes, had been abnormal for Sherlock Holmes.

At the time, John had attributed it to being shagged out, as he himself had been. He’d simply followed Sherlock to sleep, luxuriating in not only the presence beside him, but the wonderfully opulent mattress and sheets.

It hadn’t even dawned on him how odd it was that Sherlock Holmes simply conked out after sex as most other men did–including himself.

John glanced around the room in confusion, waiting for the last of the lethargy to evaporate from his brain. He could really do with that tea right about now.

He runs a hand through his hair and puts some real effort into sussing out the situation. Sherlock couldn’t possibly have thought that John would just… disappear, could he? As soon as he thinks it, a wave of hot anger races down his spine. I’m not the one who left, but he dismisses the thought in favor of more rational ones. Besides, they’ve been over, and over, and over this before.

Perhaps Sherlock thinks that this had been a one-off between them. The irrationality of it instantly horrifies John, causing his stomach to lurch.

But this thought too causes a momentary flash of outrage. How in the world can Sherlock think that of him? John takes a quick, steadying breath, reminding himself that this wasn’t about him. This, more than likely, has absolutely nothing to do with him. Something from Sherlock’s past, some terrible bedfellow, must have given him the truly heartless idea that after a night of intimacy, one didn’t remain to witness the aftermath thereof. But it couldn’t be that depressingly simple with Sherlock, could it? Could it be that simple with someone whose breadth and depth of knowledge was so intrinsically complex that it often times gave John a headache just thinking about how much was packed into that mind palace?

Having superior intellectual intelligence didn’t mean that Sherlock had emotional intelligence, John reminds himself. In fact, Sherlock has proven time and time again that it’s something he lacks. John doesn’t quite know how to reconcile this emotionally-illiterate Sherlock Holmes with the Sherlock Holmes who let so much in the night previous. He supposes he shouldn’t be surprised, not really.

John ponders this for a moment, before realizing that it just might be that distressingly simple.

He’s shaken from his thoughts by the sound of the kettle popping. Sighing, he wonders if he should get up and meet Sherlock in the kitchen or just remain here, between the sheets, to make his point. The decision is made for him when a moment later when Sherlock enters the room, one teacup in hand.

John simply raises a brow, struggling to remain relaxed and calm beneath the blanket. “That for me?”

Sherlock pauses, takes a step back and wraps both of his hands around his cup. “There’s hot water in the kettle.”

“Sherlock,” John says, making a show of getting onto his right side, resting his head against his hand. “Do you want me to leave?”

There’s silence for a time as Sherlock continues to stand, staring first at John, and then directly at the foot of the bed. John sighs, letting his head fall back to the pillow.

“You didn’t think I’d be here when you woke up,” John says, waiting again for Sherlock to do something, say something. For a man who talks to John even when John isn’t in the flat, he’s remarkably quiet at the moment. “Why?”

That earns him an eyeroll, and Sherlock breaks his stasis by walking around to the empty side of the bed, placing his mug on the side table and sitting with his back to John. “To be completely honest, John, it hadn’t occurred to me that you might want to stay.”

There’s another span of silence, during which John watches Sherlock’s back move with the force of his breath. He says nothing, just shifts around again, wanting to make it plain that he doesn’t plan on leaving the bed, that he’s here. “Well that seems fairly stupid, doesn’t it?”

“Does it?” Sherlock asks quietly, his head turning a fraction towards John.

He laughs, a small, genuine chuckle. “Yes, it does.” He reaches out and skims the tips of his fore and middle fingers over the exposed skin just above the waistband of Sherlock’s sleep bottoms.

“Well, you are infatuated with me,” comes Sherlock’s smug reply.

“I’m not infatuated with you, you idiot, I’m in love with you.” It feels freeing and terrifying simultaneously to say the words aloud. John has never been good at this sort of thing, at being open and emotional, but Sherlock needs to hear it, that much is very much plain. It takes some of the shock out of it, knowing that the sharing of the sentiment is a necessity.

The moment is segmented again by another stretch of silence, the sounds from the street below filtering up as background noise. Eventually, Sherlock just sighs, “Oh,” and John can imagine Sherlock’s face, blank, like when he’d asked Sherlock to be his–

But he doesn’t want to think about that right now. Right now, he wants to make absolutely certain that Sherlock has it through his astonishingly thick skull–really, for someone so brilliant–that John has been completely gone on him for quite some time.

“Yeah, ‘oh.’” John wriggles a little closer. “Very, very different.”

Sherlock turns so that his neck skin pulls in a truly unattractive way, but John doesn’t mind, because he can finally look him in the eyes. Brows rising in anticipation, John waits, his mouth still tipped skyward. “It seems,” Sherlock begins very primly, before he twists to swing his bent left leg onto the mattress. “That logic and reason get muddled when considering matters of the heart.”

John considers this. “That… was almost romantic.”

“Oh, shut up,” Sherlock murmurs, without any real heat. John huffs a laugh and rests his left arm down on the bed, leaves his palm open. Sherlock reaches over and walks his middle and pointer finger across John’s hand up to the wrist and then pulls back. “I’m... “ Sherlock screws up his face as he searches for the word and lands on, “sorry?”

A snort escapes through John’s nose; he has to be careful about this. “Don’t be sorry. Nothing to be sorry for.” He captures Sherlock’s wrist with his hand. “Maybe we can start the morning over, yeah?”

Sherlock smiles and reaches over to hand John the cup of tea, sneaking a sip before putting it in arms reach. “And what does that entail?” John stretches up so that he’s half-sitting and takes the cup.

“Hmmm,” John hums as he takes a drink himself. “You get back in bed? We… have a bit of a lie in. Sort of, you know, relish in the fact that we just had sex, which is a big deal, the two of us, doing that, I think, so.” John shrugs, takes another drink. “I don’t know, Sherlock, I just… yeah, want to be close. To you.”

“To me, specifically,” comes Sherlock’s response in jest, and he turns, stands, plants his hand on the mattress and crawls onto the bed.

“Yes,” John laughs, twists his body to place the cup on the other table. “To you, specifically, you magnificent dick.”

“Hmm,” Sherlock says and without warning, collapses onto his stomach, maneuvering until his chin is resting against John’s bicep. It’s not really very comfortable, but John doesn’t mind. “What do I now, then? This isn’t my area.”

“There seem to be more and more that I’m learning isn’t your area,” John teases lightly. “Girlfriends, for instance.”

“Well,” Sherlock rolls his eyes and serves John with a trademark withering look. “Obviously, you, specifically, are my area,” Sherlock says, his chin digging into John’s skin. “You just want to… lie about in bed all day?”

“Jesus, not all day, but yeah, let me relish this a bit. I’ve got you, a fairly gorgeous man–shut up I’m flattering you and I don’t want to hear it–I’ve got you here and it’s nice, and I want maybe to do it again? Maybe a shower first, but.” Reaching over, John tangles his fingers in Sherlock’s hair.

“That sounds terrible.” Sherlock mumbles into the skin beneath him, but makes no move to get out of bed, or to get away from John at all. He’s warm and pliant as John runs his blunt nails over Sherlock’s scalp. “Truly... mind-numbing, how do people manage?”

John says nothing, just keeps stroking the hair beneath his hand until Sherlock goes completely boneless. “Oh, we manage, us plebeians,” comes John’s lethargic response. They remain snugged up against one another for some time, Sherlock half-asleep and John simply relishing in the absolute amazement, really, of having Sherlock resting against him, calm and sated for the time being.

John realizes that he has to be patient with this, that for once, he’s going to be leading Sherlock, teaching him. He'll have to be careful, not make it seem as though there's something that Sherlock is lacking but something that he has and needs to cultivate. It’s a worthwhile cause if it means John gets to keep him, have him like this, happy and safe and warm beside him. It such a stark contrast to how Sherlock normally is that John feels humbled, blessed even, to be the one sharing in this moment. And if Sherlock’s comment of only John being “his area” is true, John realizes that he’s the only person sharing in moments like these with Sherlock forever.

It should terrify John right down to the marrow of his bones, that after one evening of sex, Sherlock is making it apparent that he wants to spend the rest of his life like this, together. It should be terrifying, but it isn’t, because John had assumed, ages and ages ago, that Sherlock was the one he was destined to end up with, that Sherlock was endgame. It had just taken him a bit of time to come around about it, that’s all.

“John,” Sherlock says and then levers himself up, reaches over John to grab at the mug of tea, now gone tepid.

“Yes?”

“I would like…” Sherlock pauses and takes a long gulp; John feels butterflies flit to life in his belly. Anything; John is ready to give Sherlock anything. “Breakfast.”

“You,” John begins and leans up, his face just a few scant issues from Sherlock. “Want to eat.”

“I do,” Sherlock says solemnly. “Will you allow me the pleasure of taking you out?”

“You want to take me out to breakfast,” John comments dryly.

“Isn’t that what one does in a situation like this?”

“Sherlock, you can be however you’d like in a situation like this. We’re not going by any rules, it’s you and I, and we can do anything you’d like. Within reason.” His eyes narrow and Sherlock has the sense to look sheepish for a moment. But then he smiles, gaze flitting to John’s lips and then hesitantly, as though he’s not sure he’s allowed, leans in to press his mouth against John’s, a sweet, lingering thing.

“Then I would like,” and it comes out breathy as he moves back a fraction, “to take you out to breakfast.”

John smiles and, suddenly feeling larger than life, moves forward quickly to press a sloppy kiss to the side of Sherlock’s mouth. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”

Sherlock smiles at him for a moment longer before bounding out of the bed. “After a shower, of course; you’ve made a disaster of my hair.”

John rolls his eyes and falls back against the pillows, resigned but happy. “I forgot, we can’t go outside unless you’re looking properly like you just stepped off a runway.”

“Oh, John,” Sherlock tosses back over his shoulder, coquettish. “I just want to look good for you.” With that he disappears into the bathroom and John is left, giddy and cautiously optimistic, still in Sherlock’s bed.