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You Can't Always Get What You Want

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It was getting out of hand. The chorus, the chant, the words, pounding in his skull. John had ignored them for so long and now it was as if a dam had burst. He’d moved back in, thinking it would be no worse than it ever was, but it was back now and a whisper away from being completely out of control.

The wanting.

The sheer desire, always there. It had always been there, of course, but he had always been able to suppress it. To push it into the background, sort of, and have it stay there. That was all over, now. Now he could barely prevent himself from shouting it aloud into every silence. He could hardly hear his own thoughts above it.

I want you, I want you, I want you, want, want, want, breath after breath of the treacherous little word, always only a moment’s inattention away from being voiced, always, that is, except during those terrifying moments when it was supplanted by an even more treacherous four-letter word whose utterance would be even more disastrous, and which was mercilessly suppressed even in the wild and lawless country of his own mutinous mind.

John wanted. He wanted to kiss Sherlock forever, to slide their mouths together, the sensitive wet skin, and feel the textures in his mouth with his tongue. He wanted to trace Sherlock’s lips with his own, and breathe his scent, and taste his breath. He wanted, with his hands, to feel how the skin of Sherlock’s jaw was different from the thinner skin along his throat, and how the curls at his nape might become damp under his fingers as their kiss grew heated.

He wanted everything that heat might bring.

God, the desire was set to drive him mad, the want that took up the whole of his consciousness so that it was all he could do to keep his face bland and carry out the simplest of his everyday tasks and routines amid the ringing clamour of want, want, want.

And Sherlock wasn’t helping.


“I want you, John.” It came in a low voice, behind him.

I want you too. John stiffened, almost spoke,then cursed himself. Don’t do this, Watson. It had happened so many times now, he ought to have stopped reacting. He kept his voice neutral when he said, instead, “What is it?”

Wait for it...“I want you to ring Lestrade back.” And sure enough, there he stood in the sitting room, holding out his phone to John expectantly.

Well, he’d known it. When he sighed, though, Sherlock misinterpreted his irritation. “Well?” He gestured with the phone. “If I do it, he’ll know I don’t actually have laryngitis and he’ll make me complete that interview. Tedious. Ring him back and tell him it was the painter. The one who did the mural.”

“He’ll ask how you know.” John did not reach for the phone.

“Unlikely. He won’t expect you to be able to explain.”

Another sigh. “I don’t know why you bothered lying to him. Usually when you don’t want to do something you just say “no” and storm out.”

“True, and that method is much more efficient. But you’re always wanting me to improve on my interpersonal skills.”

“You want to improve your interpersonal skills, so you’re lying?”

“I’ve observed that lying is the primary driver of social harmony, the more egregious the better. So, yes.” He shook the phone impatiently in John’s direction, and this time John gave in. There was never any chance he wasn’t going to.


Another time, in a raw voice, from the kitchen. “John. John! I want you.”

Maybe this time...Shit. Daft. Damnit, Watson, don’t react. But his head had lifted (Iwantyoutoo) and if he could feel it, Sherlock could see it. Damn. “What now?”

“I want you to hold these tongs—careful, that’s superheated—”

Jesus, Sherlock!”

“Well, what did you think the tongs were for?”

He poured the liquid carefully, as instructed. He was beginning to suspect that Sherlock was doing this on purpose.


Also not to be overlooked, in a whisper, by his actual bedside. “John, I want you.”

And he was sleeping, damnit, in his own bed, and it took him long enough to come fully awake that he wasn’t sure, afterwards, if he’d actually uttered the breathy yes that resounded through his viscera and shook his very bones.

Just in case, he spoke even more irritably than he normally would have. “What do you want?

“I want you to go to the window very, very quietly, and tell me if the woman with the feather in her hat is still outside the flat across the street.”

“Why the hell can’t you do it yourself?”

“What, and have her spot me at the window of your bedroom? What on earth would she think, John? People would certainly talk.”

He groaned, but such was what passed for logic at 3:23am, and he rose obediently and went to the window. There was no one there.

Now John was sure that Sherlock was doing it on purpose.


But to what purpose? What could he possibly have to gain from that kind of, of tease? Mockery, at least deliberate mockery, meant to hurt, was not Sherlock’s style at all. His wreckage was usually unintentional.

And anyway, for this to be in any way deliberate, Sherlock would have to know. And for all his cleverness, for all his keen observations, for all his whatever-remains-however-improbable, John was still sure that there was no way Sherlock could possibly have deduced...this.

That John was attracted to him, all right. That there was...desire, perhaps. They’d been skirting that particular issue for so long and over so many iterations of their friendship. And now that they were living together again, it was bordering on inconceivable that the most observant man in London should not have even an inkling.

But the want, the very word want, that chorused through his mind during every moment he spent with Sherlock, surely he couldn’t possibly guess that? That it should be there, under and behind every word he spoke to Sherlock, hammering against his skull, lurking alongside his vocal chords, ready to ambush every breath and make his mouth proclaim what was chanting through his mind, constantly, ceaselessly—it was so improbable. How could he know?

And then to have Sherlock use that very word to summon him, to speak the desperately-desired words in a way that reminded John (as if he was ever able to forget) of everything he hungered for and couldn’t have...he couldn’t have guessed, could he? He couldn’t have.

Yet each time John felt that this was the time, this was the time when there really would be no end to the sentence after you, no further object of desire beyond John himself, and he would ready himself to respond, to accede, to acquiesce...and then the actual request would come, like a kick in the chest.

No, Sherlock could not be doing this on purpose. He was thoughtless, yes, but never knowingly cruel.

He was driving John mad, regardless, and it was getting harder and harder not to react.


Until one day he stopped trying.


The words came slow, this time. If they hadn’t, perhaps John would have gone on resisting.

“John?” Low, from across the table, almost hesitant. Head down. And then a pause. Here it comes. “John, I—I want you…” And then a long pause. Long enough that he could think, oh god, and again, oh god…

...and also, this time, to hell with it, and when his brain thought it (shouted it), his mouth said it.

“I want you too.”

John’s words were as steady as they ever were, he made sure of that, and his eyes too did not falter, so that he saw Sherlock wait for the rest of the sentence, realise it would not be forthcoming, and freeze—which, oddly, came with its own movement. John watched as those long hands twitched and then went still. He saw, also, the sharp (though noiseless) intake of breath, and the slowness with which the air was let out again, so that it made no sound. If he hadn’t been watching so closely he would not have seen any reaction at all. He recognised the control, and also (he thought) the effort it cost.

After a pause that was not quite too long to be natural, Sherlock, still not looking up, spoke. “Well? What is it?”

In it with both boots was where John Watson was most at home, so it was easy now for him to keep going. “I told you. I want you too.”

“Yes. What do you want?” Sherlock’s biting tone was missing a few teeth. John’s heart soared.

“Three repetitions? Really? This isn’t like you, Sherlock. You heard me. I. Want. You. Full stop. So you can stop pretending you were only pausing before finishing your sentence because this has been going on long enough and why should I wait for you to say it when I’ve been thinking it at full volume for ages? So if you do, in fact, want me as well, and you don’t just have some other idiotic task for me that you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself, then, I don’t know, blink twice and I’ll come over there.”

He waited. For a beat or two, nothing much happened. Sherlock, head still down, closed his eyes and kept them closed. His chest rose and fell in two long breaths. On the third inhale, though, Sherlock looked up.

His eyes were wide and full of feeling. His mouth was open. (His mouth was open.) He looked at John for a long moment.

He blinked. Then he lifted his head a fraction higher, and blinked again.

All right, then. John gave a little nod, and rose, and moved around the table.

Sherlock watched him come, and when John was right next to him, standing by his chair and getting into his space, he leaned away a little, but only so that he could look up at John’s face. The tide of want want want was beating at the levee. John held it back, but he could feel the cracks appearing—easy, Watson.

He stood by Sherlock’s chair at the table, looked at him for a moment to confirm that this was permitted, was, indeed, wanted, and then leaned in and kissed him.

One hand on the back of his chair, one on the table, lean in, kiss. How had it ever not been this simple?

Simple? There was nothing simple about the feeling that shuddered through him as he pressed their mouths together. It tingled through his lips and rushed through his body and spiralled brightly in his chest. Something went soft down the middle of his belly, and a long stream of air drifted out of his nose, breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding.

Oh. The want. The tension, the dam of constant vigilance that had kept it in to now was no longer needed, and it crumbled, dissolved, washed away.

John melted, flowed down into the kiss. Sherlock’s mouth fell open, and the melting continued, the contours of John’s lips and tongue becoming soft, liquid almost, flowing into the warmth of their kiss. Liquid, too, was the deep sound that issued from Sherlock’s throat and into John’s mouth, meeting John’s own deep moan, a confluence.

Oh, god, John wanted. And here was everything he wanted, opening up for him. Sherlock’s mouth, the slide of it, the taste of his voice, the very scent of him. Their mingled skins, tactile, wet, warm. John ran the tip of his tongue up the seam of Sherlock’s lips, feeling the exact line where the velvet became silk. Wet silk, slippery. Oh god.

Meanwhile his fingers (his hand having lifted of its own accord from the back of Sherlock’s chair) wound into the curls at Sherlock’s neck and yes, they were as warm as he had hoped, and growing damp. If he gripped, if he pulled, that throat would stretch out and the velvet-and-silk mouth would open wider.

(If he were the sort of man to do such a thing, or to want it.)

For an instant, his whole focus was on not clutching, on not wanting, on fucking hold it, Watson, all he did was blink at you, slow the fuck down, so that he did not quite see how Sherlock turned his body or managed to slither his arms around his waist, nor register Sherlock’s hands on his hips, pulling, tugging him off-balance, not until the last possible moment when his only choices were to topple over completely or throw one leg over Sherlock’s lap.

For a confused moment he tensed, scrambled, an apology leaping to his lips, but Sherlock’s hands gripped his arse and drew him all the way up and his muddled sorry was lost in a deep groan as Sherlock’s pelvis ground up into his own.

Oh. “Sherlock!” he gasped, and again, “Sherlock!” because it was the only word he could say without betraying himself completely.

Because John was lost, John was lost. This wasn’t just wanting, this was...oh, god. The wanting had always been writ so large that it had been easy to ignore that other sly, sneaky little word, the tiny script wriggling itself in unseen, unbidden, between the lines. But here it was, waiting in ambush.

He was hard and Sherlock was hard and their cocks were pressed together through their clothes, and their mouths were open into each other, and there were hands and tongues and gripping and gasping and wanting, and an overwhelming flood of feelings that would take over his voice in another moment, despite his long-standing restraint.

And it was too late, too late to back away, to slow down, to tuck the feelings back behind the wanting and the wanting behind whatever control he could muster because he could muster no control at all, with Sherlock’s fingers spread, grasping, across his arse, with Sherlock’s cock hot and hard against his own, with Sherlock’s mouth opening and his tongue questing, there was no control, there was no stopping.

(If Sherlock said no, he could stop, he could do anything for Sherlock, not to save himself, but to save Sherlock, but Sherlock’s hands were pulling him closer and his hips were seeking, thrusting, pushing, and his voice was raw like silk and he was looking at John as if his only salvation lay in John’s mouth, in John’s body.)

John was lost. The only person he’d be saving if he stopped now would be himself, and that he could not do.

And since there was no stopping, he bowed his shoulders to drop his pelvis ever more deeply into Sherlock’s lap, and hooked his feet around the chair, using the purchase to thrust and thrust and thrust.

He had almost lost control completely. “Oh god, Sherlock, you feel…” Sogoodsogoodso…“Shit, you only blinked, tell me this is all right, tell me you want this, tell me—”

“Yes, of course, yes, I want you, I want, I want—god, John.” A long, deep thrust, held and then pushed deeper. Both men moaned.

“But, but, but…” God, John was close to coming just from dry humping in a chair. We should move, we should undress, we should…maybe talk... “But…” He couldn’t speak, with Sherlock under him, saying yes, saying want, his mouth red and wet, his cock, his cock...Fuck, this man was beautiful.

“But?” With a visible effort, Sherlock’s hips—though they trembled with the effort—stilled. “But? You don’ you want this?”

Christ, Watson, say something. He thinks you don’t… Want.” It surged through his whole body, more powerful than ever. “Sherlock, you have no—yes.” He began to thrust his hips in earnest now, back and forth, arching his back to press the muscles of his arse into Sherlock’s hands, then rocking forward for the drag of cock against cock, gritting out his words amidst gasps and moans. “Yes—ah—I want this. I want this. All of it, oh god. I want you. I want, I’ve wanted for so long—”

...and he would have thought he had fantasised enough but he was not prepared, he was not prepared at all for the feeling of Sherlock’s mouth on his throat and the feeling of those long fingers spreading his buttocks, oh, the groan rasped and scraped its way from the depths of his gut, oh, his feet hooked around the chair and his arms wrapped around flexed shoulders and his whole being strained into the embrace, and he dropped his head into Sherlock’s neck, and buried his face, oh, the satin skin behind his ears, oh, the heat of his neck, the smell of him…

...and that was all they needed, those other words, to come spilling out of his mouth, “I want you, Sherlock, I love you, I love you, fuck, I didn’t mean to say that, but I do, god, I do.” The last words came out as sobs and there was nothing he could do to call them back.

You’ve done it now, Watson. He froze where he sat, but there was no earthly force that could have torn his face from the haven of Sherlock’s neck, because if he was going to be dislodged in a moment, to be patiently explained to, to have Sherlock be savagely, ruthlessly kind to him, he was going to take this time and fill his lungs with Sherlock while he could. But his breaths soon became gasps, became great, gulping mouthfuls that he could neither still nor steady.

For a long moment it was only gasping and shuddering and the pounding of his own heart in his ears before he registered the low, soothing voice crooning—crooning?—into his hair, or the gentle stroking of large hands over his back.

“All right, you’re all right. Breathe, John, come on, one deep breath. That’s it. Now another one. Good, that’s good.” All the while the hands stroking, and the mouth—as John’s breathing calmed—pressing little kisses against his temple, his hair, his shoulder.

As soon as he began to settle, though, the humiliation began to filter through, and he groaned again, mortified now, and made a move to disentangle himself from Sherlock’s chair—but Sherlock held him fast.

“No, no, don’t, don’t go. Please, John. You just, um, you just got here.” Sherlock huffed a little laugh, but his voice was pleading.

Under Sherlock’s soothing hands and beseeching tone, John subsided a little. It was awkward, though, halfway off of Sherlock’s lap, and all the way hard. He shifted uncomfortably, cheeks flaming.

Sherlock spoke quietly. “Whatever you want, John. I want...I want it all. We can stop—”

And suddenly John could tear his face away from Sherlock’s shoulder, because “—oh, god, no.”

“I—oh. Well, good.” Sherlock gave him a smile, brittle but genuine. “But we could move, if you want, to the sofa or the, or the bedroom..? Whatever you want.”

“I, uh.” John shifted his body until he was securely straddling Sherlock’s lap again. “I don’t want to move.” Too risky. (That this could all just disappear.)

“Fine.” Sherlock smiled again, and settled John’s hips more comfortably across his own. “But I want…”

Just exactly what it was that Sherlock wanted became achingly apparent, because when he kissed John again, the urgency had transformed into a kind of intense tenderness. He took John’s face in his two hands, thumbs on his cheekbones and long fingers curled around his jaw, just brushing the delicate skin of his neck. He kissed him.

He kissed him. With a gentle press of lips and a delicate slide of tongue, barely there. Compared to what they had been doing a moment before, it was tame, almost chaste, but something in the steady pressure of fingertips and the ferocity of the focus behind every discrete point of contact made it deeply erotic.

John groaned, his arousal instantly right back to where it had been, oh, he wanted— but when he opened his mouth to deepen the kiss, Sherlock pulled back ever so slightly, maintaining that fierce focus, but holding them steady, not allowing John to drive them towards the edge.

And oh, it was exquisite, this finely-drawn tension, this trembling on the threshold, and John succumbed to it completely. He could not properly open his eyes, they were heavy and slack, but it didn’t matter; Sherlock was kissing him. All John had to do was let him.

He let Sherlock kiss him however he wanted to, resting his arms on Sherlock’s shoulders and allowing him full access, letting him turn his head and tilt his jaw and kiss and kiss and kiss. Whatever Sherlock wanted.

Whatever Sherlock wanted, so that when Sherlock took his hands from John’s face and ran them over John’s hips, lightly, and up his sides, passing over his ribs, John obligingly leaned back to give him room, and when Sherlock’s thumbs stroked, glancingly, over his nipples through his shirt, he let his eyes fall closed and his breath flow out of him, and melted into Sherlock’s touch.

Surrender. Soft and pliable, elbows out to allow Sherlock to unbutton his shirt, back arched to allow his fingers to play across John’s chest, whatever Sherlock wanted, and when Sherlock’s fingers roamed down over the soft skin of John’s belly, and lower, and traced the outline of his hard prick inside his trousers, he shivered and trembled under the touch, but spread his thighs wide.

Sherlock’s whole palm was pressed against John’s whole length, the base of his thumb massaging the head of John’s cock, the tips of his fingers caressing John’s balls. The large hand slid up and down, the palm on John’s prick, the knuckles brushing Sherlock’s.

They moaned together, but when John started to rut into the pressure, Sherlock stilled him with a touch on his hip. “Shh, John. I want—slow down. Let me…”

John did, John let him. He let his hips be stilled, he let his desire build, he let Sherlock touch his cock and kiss his chest and suck his collarbone. He let his whole body go lax and pliant under Sherlock’s hands, so that when Sherlock unbuckled his belt and undid his zip and reverently laid open the plackets of his trousers, he gave himself over completely to the sensations.

Sherlock’s fingers around his bare cock brought on a renewed wave of feeling, and John only dimly noticed that Sherlock’s trousers were open as well. In another moment, though, Sherlock brought his own cock alongside John’s and brought them together with a gentle squeeze and the air rushed out of John’s lungs.

There were no words. Sherlock held their hard pricks together, wrapped round with one long-fingered hand, and John merely held on, overwhelmed with the firm tenderness of Sherlock’s every touch.

His mouth, too, was soft. Soft and unrelenting, planting full, deliberate kisses along John’s shoulders, up his throat, under his ear, down his chest. John tilted and stretched, arched and pressed, presenting his skin to Sherlock’s mouth wherever that mouth might wander.

All the while, Sherlock’s hand stroked and clasped, steady and rhythmic, bringing sensation but not chasing completion. He painstakingly refused to escalate, and John did not try again to push the speed. Instead, he took every slow squeeze Sherlock offered as a sort of gift, allowing his body to accept the quiet, inexorable bloom of pleasure.

Until all of a sudden they were there, together, the slow build having gathered strength without seeming to until all at once—

Oh, god, oh, Sherlock, I’m—”

“John. John. Oh...”

John, finding his volition at the last, grasped Sherlock’s face in both his hands, and they pressed their mouths together and breathed each other’s gasps and moans as they came.

Afterwards, John collapsed onto Sherlock’s shoulder and took long, panting, heaving breaths for much longer than it should have taken for his heart rate to stop racing.

Even after his breathing steadied, it took John a long while to come back to himself. It was lovely, there on Sherlock’s shoulder, and if he stayed very, very still, perhaps the moment would never end, and he would not have to look Sherlock in the eye and face the aftermath of everything he’d said and everything they’d done. Now that the glow of his orgasm was fading, he felt a trickle of humiliation and no small amount of dread.

Are you really such a coward, Watson, after all this?

His doubts were both eased and increased when he became aware of Sherlock’s warm, broad hand gently stroking his back, and his soft mouth pressing kisses to his temple.

And then his voice. “Was that what you wanted?”

“Mmm.” John made a noise that he hoped struck a balance between highly affirmative and not at all needy. You’ll have to do better than that, Watson. You just came in his lap, you can bloody claim this. He took a deep breath, his face still pressed to Sherlock’s neck. “Yes. Yes. But, look, I know—It’s a lot, okay, I know it is. A lot for me to spring on you all at once. It’s just—where we go from here is...whatever you want, all right?”

Sherlock was silent for a long moment. When he finally spoke, over John’s bent head, his tone was eloquent and his words were staggering.

“I want you to stay. I want this, and more of this, and everything else you want to give me. I know—you said—you didn’t want to tell me, but I want…” Sherlock pressed his lips together, then plunged onward. “I love you too, and I want you to say it again. Sometime. I want you to want to say it next time.”

The force of the joy expanding in John’s chest lifted his head before he could think to stop it. He—finally—without even having to force it, met Sherlock’s eye.

He stared. For four seconds, five, he stared at Sherlock with his eyes wide and his jaw slack. Then the air surged back into his lungs. “I love you. I love you. I love you. I, I did want to say it. I always wanted to say it. I would have chosen a better moment, that’s all. I love you.”

Sherlock’s smile was small and positively radiant. “The moment you chose was perfect,” he said. And then he said, “John,” and kissed him.

They did, eventually, manage to extricate themselves from the chair, with the attendant challenges of catching loose trousers before they pooled around anyone’s ankles, and stumbling on limbs held too long in unaccustomed positions, and finding where all the semen had gone so as not to discover any of the wrong kind of souvenirs when they tried to have a meal there again.

They made it only as far as the bedroom, where they shucked their hastily rearranged clothing and rolled onto the bed. They lay together, trading soft kisses and sweet caresses until the softness and the sweetness became something rather more heated, rather faster than John would have expected (of himself at least), but then his age on the one hand was balanced by just how desperately he wanted this, and by (startlingly, wondrously) Sherlock wanting him as well.

It was only much, much later that they could simply lie together, and smile, and finally talk. The urgency was gone, and so was the halting speech and the shyness. The important questions were already answered.

“Don’t tell me it was an accident.” John traced a pointed shoulder blade as Sherlock sprawled across his chest.

“What wasn’t?” Sherlock’s voice, lazy and still deep with satisfaction.

“You. You were driving me round the twist, with all your I want you’s. Every time I turned around, it was John, I want you...and I’d be halfway out of my chair and then you’d finish the sentence and it would be something stupid.”

“I’m never stupid.”

“You’re sometimes stupid. But I mean, it was always here, hold this test tube and never here, hold my penis.

Sherlock raised his head to look at John. “Who would say that?”

“No one.” John grinned at Sherlock’s expression. “But I kept thinking you were going to. Were you—what? Testing the waters or something?”

“No, John.” Sherlock settled his head back onto John’s chest, planting a kiss as he did so. “I was chickening out. I’m glad you finally said something.”

“It took me long enough.” John wove his hand into Sherlock’s hair, stroking the silky ends of his curls between his fingertips.

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed peaceably. “But in the end, we both got what we needed.”