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The Case of the Uncommon Cold, Part 2 of 2

Title: The Case of the Uncommon Cold, Part 2 [END]
Author: Fakinbrilliance (aka wickedmuffin)
Word count: ~8,000
Rating: PG13
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Description: John has the Flu. Sherlock is one of his most persistent symptoms.
Disclaimers: I own neither of these boys, though I wish I could snuggle them both.
Author's note: This is my first Sherlock fic, and somehow it grew from a tiny idea into a 16,000 word monster. Clearly, I am a little too wordy. Comments and criticism are greatly appreciated! ♥ Thanks for reading.




Part 1 can be found [HERE]

Part 2:

John woke slowly for what seemed like the millionth time, not eager to leave the liquid darkness of sleep for the unpleasant realities of his flu-tinged consciousness. He floated, fuzzy-brained, breathing slow and deep as he tried to figure out what had roused him.

His dreams had been…unpleasant. But then, John was used to nightmares. He revisited battlefields in Afghanistan and dying patients’ bedsides so often in his sleep that bombs and bloodshed, shattered bones and splintered bodies had become a nightly ritual right alongside showering and brushing his teeth.

But those normal bedtime wanderings were nothing compared to the twisted dreams that had plagued him most of the night. In his fever-riddled mind, the war and all its casualties loomed larger and louder and twice as ugly. Worse, the nightmares had meshed with the winding streets of London and the cramped quarters of his childhood home and John could still feel the horror of it in his bones.

But those violent dreams had tapered off at some point during the night, replaced by something all together warmer, more solid and welcoming. He couldn’t recall the dream, but he did remember the echo of a hauntingly familiar baritone voice.

Slowly, like floating up through deep water towards distant sunlight, John became aware of his physical body. His muscles still felt weak, but despite the cold sweat coating his skin, the bone-deep chill that had plagued him for days was finally gone. The burning in his throat was gone, too, and he could actually breathe through his nose.

My fever must have broken, he realized distantly. At least that would explain the vivid ferocity of his dreams. I’m finally getting over this bloody flu.

As he shrugged off the last vestiges of sleep, he noticed a disorienting dichotomy. Most of his skin was cool and clammy, but a solid line down his back and patches of his legs were inexplicably warm.

Curious, John craned his neck around, and caught sight of one high, moon-brushed cheekbone.

He froze.

…Sherlock? John thought frantically, mind racing despite his body’s refusal to move. No, it can’t be. He would never…It must be another fever dream. John blinked, but the image remained stubbornly in place.

Sherlock.

In his bed.

And, if the warm line of heat down John’s back was any indication, the detective was, oh dear God, actually spooning him, long knees tucked in tight behind John’s own, and one arm wrapped securely around John’s waist.

Jesus. Christ.

John wasn’t sure how long he laid there, completely frozen, staring at his flatmate’s sleeping face, but when the burning in his lungs finally grew painful enough to register past the shock, he wheezed out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
“Sherlock,” John choked, shifting enough to jab the taller man in the ribs.

Sherlock grunted in his sleep and shoved the offending elbow away without budging an inch.

“Sherlock, what are you doing? Wake up.” John tried to jab at him again, but Sherlock twisted away from the blow, his free hand snapping out to grab hold of John’s arm.

The detective sighed, his breath ghosting over the bare skin of John’s nape in a warm gust. “Be sensible, John. How could I possibly still be asleep after you so thoughtfully dug your elbow into my diaphragm? Besides, I woke up a few minutes ago when you stopped breathing.”

“What?” John demanded. He knew his voice sounded strangled, but couldn’t bring himself to care. It was impossible to ignore the warm spots of pressure where Sherlock’s long frame curled protectively around his own. He felt his heart beating faster, felt the flush of arousal searing its way across his cheeks, past his neck and all the way down his chest.

The Sherlock-box in his head rattled more violently than ever before, and John was sure that, given a minute or two, it would splinter like cheap plywood under the pressure regardless of all his careful padlocks and labels.

He couldn’t stay here, pressed up against the man. It was too much.

He twisted again, glaring at Sherlock over his shoulder. “What the hell are you doing in my bed?”

“You were thrashing in your sleep,” Sherlock replied simply, as though that was any kind of explanation. “You nearly threw yourself off the bed.” Though the words were mostly mumbled into John’s shoulder, they still somehow managed to sound like an accusation.

“So, what, you thought you’d crawl in here with me and physically prevent me from falling out?” John asked, still trying to wriggle away from the madman. For some reason, Sherlock’s arm around his waist refused to budge. There was no need for the restraint when he was clearly awake and no longer thrashing. Still, it remained a solid, warm pressure wrapped snug around his middle like some ridiculous parody of a seatbelt. John shoved at it ineffectually. His watery, flu-weakened muscles were no match for Sherlock’s lean strength.

“Let go,” John demanded, pushing at Sherlock’s arm again.

Sherlock made a suspiciously grumpy sound, but reluctantly released his grip.

John immediately heaved himself as far away from his flatmate as physically possible without falling off the bed, flipped to face Sherlock, and instantly regretted it. Even balanced at the very edge of the mattress, there was almost no space between them. Their knees still bumped and John could feel the feathery gust of Sherlock’s breath on his face. His mouth was disconcertingly close. John silently cursed his twin mattress.

“Sherlock, why are you in my bed?” He asked again, glaring at the taller man. It was completely unfair, John reflected with some distress, that this mad genius could look so soft, with his sleep mussed hair falling in disheveled curls over his forehead and a crease from John’s pillowcase marring one cheek. No padlocks or barriers could be expected to hold against that kind of sleepy vulnerability, no matter how well crafted.

“You could have injured your shoulder. You haven’t thrashed like that in months.” Sherlock said, as though it completely excused crawling into John’s bed uninvited. Despite his rumpled, sleep-softened appearance, Sherlock sounded completely awake.

John glared at him incredulously. What right did his flatmate have to judge his sleeping habits? Sherlock was the insomniac that stayed awake for countless nights on end until his body, taxed beyond endurance, finally gave up on diplomacy and bludgeoned his brain into unconsciousness. Whenever that happened, John would inevitably discover him draped dramatically over the sofa, curled up catlike on the coffee table or, as on one rather memorable Monday afternoon, sprawled on the kitchen floor in a haphazard pile of awkward angles and long limbs with his head under the sink his feet in the fridge.

Sometimes just watching Sherlock sleep was enough to wear John out.

Suddenly, something else about what Sherlock said set off a warning blip on John’s radar. “Hang on…months? I haven’t thrashed like that in months? Sherlock, have you been watching me sleep?”

The mattress shifted as Sherlock shrugged. “Only when I can’t.”

“But...” John stared blankly at his flatmate, “you’re an insomniac. So that means…That means all the time, doesn’t it?”

“Mmmm,” Sherlock hummed noncommittally.

John ground his teeth together and manfully resisted the urge to strangle the detective. “What, do you sneak into my bedroom at night and stare at me?”

“It’s hardly sneaking. You leave your door open sometimes. I just walk in.”

John gaped. “An open door isn’t an invitation. That’s just…” John wasn’t sure what it was, exactly. Mortifying? Scary? Alarming? Certainly not arousing, he told his body firmly. Unfortunately, his body was having none of it, especially with Sherlock still pressed so close. “Creepy, Sherlock. It’s creepy. Are you using me in some sort of behavioral experiment or something?”

“You do realize that you jump to that conclusion with alarming frequency, don’t you?” Sherlock smiled. The bloody man smiled, as though being suspected of illicit experimentation was something to be proud of. Then, he closed his eyes like he fully intended to go to sleep. In John’s bed. Again.

And he hadn’t actually denied the accusation about experimentation, John realized.

“Sherlock,” John said, fighting to make his tone more stern than exasperated. “You can’t sleep here.”

“That is patently untrue.” Sherlock said, brows drawing down sharply as they did every time he encountered what he considered to be a particularly heinous inaccuracy. “I was sleeping here just fine until four minutes ago. I only woke up because you stopped breathing and decided to use the power of your incredibly pointy elbow for evil.”

“That’s…No, Sherlock. That’s not what I meant,” John floundered helplessly. Specifics. Sherlock understood specifics. “You can’t sleep here because we’re both grown men. Grown men who aren’t involved don’t normally share a bed.”

“Since when has our relationship ever entered the realm of normalcy?” Sherlock asked indifferently.

John glared back at him in consternation. The man had no idea, absolutely no bloody idea what his proximity was doing to John. Of course he didn’t know. Sherlock wasn’t like other men. He analyzed people, and he understood their motivations, but he rarely seemed to act on any rational motivations of his own. Food, sleep, sex…he did without these basic necessities on an alarmingly regular basis.

No. In Sherlock’s mind, this forced closeness probably was just an innocent attempt to prevent John from injuring himself. He sat there in John’s bed, breath ghosting across John’s skin as his body heat radiated through the knees of John’s pajama pants, apparently completely oblivious to the distress he was causing. All the while, it was all John could do to stop himself from lunging forward and closing the few inches between their lips.

“You know,” John said finally, exasperation getting the better of him. “Considering your status as a genius, you can be a completely blind idiot sometimes.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “And why should my chosen sleeping arrangements have any impact on your perception of my intelligence?”

John ran a hand through his hair. He briefly contemplated pulling it out at the roots. Instead, he sighed and met Sherlock’s eyes. “You can’t do this,” he flailed his free hand between them in a gesture meant to encompass the whole ‘you and me, in bed, being platonic’ thing. Judging by Sherlock’s blank expression, he clearly didn’t understand. “You and me,” John ground out, frustration finally driving the words from him. “In bed. Being platonic. It doesn’t work for me.”

“Ahh,” Sherlock said softly, eyes wide and face curiously immobile as he stared straight ahead, past John and out the window.

It was a familiar, adored expression that John had glimpsed a thousand times or more. He could see the gears clicking into motion in the frighteningly efficient engine of Sherlock’s mind. John would happily wager his half of a year’s rent that he’d never get tired of watching those mental acrobatics write themselves across Sherlock’s face in tiny little ticks and tells: the tightness of his jaw, the drawing of a brow or the smallest twitch of an eyelid.

John saw them now and winced.

“No,” He backpedaled in a rush, “No, no, no.” What had he done? Sherlock might be socially stunted enough to miss some pretty damned obvious signals of attraction, but had John really just come out and said that? What good were all his careful self-restraints and denials if Sherlock deduced everything now? If he realized what John wouldn’t even let himself feel?

He’ll leave.

The thought was enough to send a jolt of panic through John. He felt his breath catch, felt his body’s natural fighting instinct set in, kicking a shot of adrenaline through is veins. His heart was beating too fast, but his hands were rock steady.

Sherlock blinked, eyes refocusing on John’s face, full of an all too telling clarity.

He knows, John thought, desperately, He knows and he’ll be disgusted, and then he’s going to leave. John raised a pleading hand towards his friend. “No, that’s not what I – Sherlock, wait…”

Sherlock arched one dark eyebrow and cocked his head slightly on John’s pillow. “So this would work better for you if it wasn’t platonic?”

Christ.

John closed his eyes to block his view of Sherlock’s face.

This wasn’t happening.

It couldn’t be happening.

After all John’s mammoth efforts at self-control…

No. The world could not possibly be this unfair. It was just another miserable nightmare of a fever-dream. John just had to weather the worst of this particularly cruel hallucination, then he’d wake up to find Sherlock mucking about with bits of corpses on Ms. Hudson’s antique furniture, and everything could go back to normal. Everything would be ok.

“John?” Sherlock prompted, “John, look at me.” There was something odd about his tone; something unexpectedly…whimsical.

John opened his eyes.

And Sherlock was still there, face barely a foot away. Smirking.

“Oh, God,” John said incredulously, surprised when his initial feelings of relief were almost immediately burned away by a hot flood of frustration. “You’re joking, aren’t you? You think I’m joking.”

“No,” Sherlock said, self-satisfied smile still firmly in place. Clearly he wasn’t taking John seriously at all. “I just find this whole situation somewhat amusing.”

He did sound amused, John thought with vexation. No. Not just amused. Sherlock sounded smug, like a scientist who’d discovered a particularly juicy piece of data, one that might win him the Nobel Prize. Maybe he really was cataloging John’s reactions for some undisclosed behavioral experiment.

John knew he should have been relieved. He should have felt glad that, apparently, Sherlock was even denser about Normal People Feelings than predicted, and that the secret he’d worked so hard to hide was still safe, dismissed as nothing more than a joke.

Instead, he just felt pissed.

The insufferable idiot, John though as something inside him snapped.

He fisted a handful of Sherlock’s shirt and pulled him forward. It was remarkably easy to close the distance between them, press his mouth to Sherlock’s and kiss the smirk right off his lips.

John had one blissful moment to think: so warm, so soft, oh thank god, FINALLY…before Sherlock stiffened against him, his whole body going ridged and unyielding.

John jerked backwards like he’d been burned.

Shit, he cursed silently as the rational part of his brain finally caught up to his impulses. What was I thinking?

The answer was simple, of course. He hadn’t been thinking at all. He’d acted on an impulse born of pent up emotions and repressed desires and that stupid, stubborn sliver of hope that that he’d never been able to completely contain in the thoroughly-abused padlocked box in his mind.

I’m the idiot, John told himself savagely.

Sherlock was staring at him with an unreadable expression, muscles taught and his whole body still.

John floundered. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. He’d let go of Sherlock’s shirt, but he could still feel the ghost of fisted cotton against his palms, the phantom warmth of Sherlock’s chest against his knuckles as he’d pulled him in.

Why did I cross that line? John wondered, mind curiously numb. Sherlock doesn’t do closeness. I ought to know that.

Sherlock always surrounded himself with high walls of cold aloofness and deep moats of condescension. And when those were insufficient, he could also wield words like weapons to drive people away. John had seen him do it countless times, and he flinched preemptively, waiting for the first blow to fall.

Why couldn’t I just be satisfied with our friendship and leave it at that?

“I’m sorry,” John said unsteadily when Sherlock didn’t immediately break the silence. “Just…Just forget that ever happened.” He swallowed hard and closed his eyes, not wanting to see condemnation on Sherlock’s face. “Delete it from your hard drive, or whatever it is you do.” A terrible hollowness seemed to have cored John, leaving a jagged, gaping hole in his middle. Shame leaked into it, filled it, and John pinched his eyes closed tighter, horrified at what he’d done.

He tried to turn his back to Sherlock, determined to hide his face, as though that could somehow diminish the wretched embarrassment burning in his stomach.

Sherlock – damn the man – moved faster. As John tried to turn away, the detective slid forward, throwing a narrow thigh over John’s hips and a long arm across his shoulders, pinning him in place.

John froze, eyes popping open as he started at the unexpected contact.

“John,” Sherlock said softly against his skin, the low rumble of his voice vibrating down the whole length of John’s body. He shifted, as John tried to shrug off his weight, slim hips pressing John more firmly against the mattress. “You should realize by now that I only delete unnecessary information. That was,” Sherlock cocked his head, regarding John through heavy lidded eyes, “Very necessary information.”

John blinked up at the ceiling, heart pounding traitorously fast. “What?” He asked finally, a small seed of hope frantically scrabbling to take root, despite the shame still pooling uncomfortably at the base of his spine.

Then John remembered how Sherlock had stiffened at his touch – an undeniable instinctive rejection.

He crushed the tiny optimistic seedling, grinding it to dust with an imaginary boot heel. He’d acted the fool enough for one day. What he really needed was time to think, a place to scream and the flexibility to kick himself in the ass. If he was really lucky, he might be able to figure out some way to salvage what was left of their friendship before it became any more unbearably awkward. But he couldn’t do that with Sherlock so close, clouding his thoughts.

He shoved at the taller man again, desperate to put some distance between them. The army had taught John any number of ways to get out from under an assailant in hand-to-hand combat, but between John’s flu-weakened muscles and the fact that he didn’t actually want to hurt Sherlock, the proposition became a little more difficult. Besides, Sherlock was a lot heavier than his wiry frame suggested. John cursed and twisted again, determined to slip away.

“Don’t go,” Sherlock said. That wasn’t the normal imperious tone he usually used to order John about. He spoke in a softer voice, one John wasn’t sure he’d ever heard before.

It was a request, John realized slowly, not a command.

Sherlock shifted his weight again, this time moving to give John the exact amount of space he needed if he really wanted to get away.

John started to scramble off the bed, then hesitated when the loss of contact left his skin feeling oddly cold.

“John,” Sherlock repeated in that same low, almost-whisper, “Stay.”

John had never thought himself a coward. He’d fought in a war, killed murderers and faced down London’s most dangerous criminal masterminds, all with completely steady hands.

Still, it took every bit of courage John could muster to stop fighting for escape, look up and meet Sherlock’s eyes.

What he saw made his breath hitch.

Dark lashes, blown pupils, and stark, unfettered want.

John blinked, unsure whether to trust what his eyes were telling him. He’d risked too much already to take anything for granted.

“Sherlock?” he asked, not breaking eye contact; afraid that if he looked away, the detective’s expression would change, and John would lose this miraculous window into a possibility he’d been too afraid to consider.

“Stay,” Sherlock repeated, and there was the hint of that familiar command in his voice. John shivered, electricity chasing its way down his spine as Sherlock braced an arm on either side of his head and leaned forward.

Boundaries, John thought in wonder as his flatmate sprawled across him and, Christ, slid a knee between John’s thighs, a look of intent in his stormy blue eyes. Who needs them? And he leaned up, meeting Sherlock halfway.

As their lips met for the second time, the barrier in John’s mind – that precarious box he’d shoved Sherlock into almost a year before – gave one final groan, then splintered into a thousand tiny pieces. All the affection John had been hiding away, all the desires and hopes and urges to touch washed over him like a wave bursting its dam.

John meant to go slow, meant to take his time and make sure that Sherlock really wanted this, really wanted him, because, honestly, even with Sherlock kissing him, he still found it all a bit hard to believe. But suddenly, Sherlock’s sharp hips were pressing down, and John arched up, and the flood of warmth flowing in his chest flashed bright and hot and just a little painful. His heart clenched around the sudden surge of emotions so long denied. He gasped into their kiss, like a drowning man fighting for breath.

And was that a growl low in Sherlock’s throat? Whatever it was, John felt the vibrations of it all the way to his toes. He fisted both hands in Sherlock’s shirt, pulling him farther down, wanting to feel the solid warmth of his weight; needing him closer. Long, demanding fingers on the back of John’s neck tilted his face up, up, up, like Sherlock wanted John closer, too.

Somehow, in the year he’d known the man, John had more than half convinced himself that Sherlock wasn’t interested in sex; that he would probably find it all distasteful and distracting and beneath him. It made sense, because, in Sherlock’s somewhat twisted version of reality, the physical needs of his body were almost always outweighed by the vastly complex and superior workings of his mind.

Now, with Sherlock’s hands tracing his ribs, and his tongue between John’s teeth, John could finally admit that he’d needed to believe in Sherlock’s professed asexuality. Because if Sherlock had wanted sex, but hadn’t wanted it with him…

But, oh dear God, that didn’t matter now. There was no denying the heat in this, in the slick slide of skin against skin where their shirts had rucked up, the hot brush of lips and bright sting of teeth as Sherlock nipped his way down John’s neck, the shirt collar digging, gently abrasive, into John’s skin as Sherlock tugged it down to expose his left shoulder. The one with the damage. The one with the scar.

And John was going to kill him for that later. This was his favorite nightshirt, just the right sort of soft cotton, and he didn’t want it to get all stretched out and saggy. But it was hard to remember exactly why he should be upset when Sherlock was licking his collar bone, tracing along the line of it with his tongue, starting at the hollow of John’s throat all the way to the smooth indent before the healed bullet wound.

John cursed, a fluid stream of incoherence, as Sherlock sucked a kiss into his skin hard enough to leave a mark.

Mine, ” Sherlock growled, and John was suddenly very glad that that he was already lying down because at that moment, there was no way his legs could have supported him.

His hands skittered across Sherlock’s shoulders, his back, his waist, wanting to be everywhere at once, frustrated by the thin layer of material separating his searching palms from smooth skin. Sherlock was warmer and softer and closer than he had any right to be, and it was all enough to drive any sane man mad.

John didn’t care. Couldn’t make himself care. Sanity was relative, anyways, and at this point he thought he might prefer Sherlock’s special blend of lunatic and genius, no matter how bizarre and frustrating it could be.

Without warning, Sherlock sat back, straddling John’s hips, and John hissed through his teeth at the unexpected friction. Then, with the manic expression of a kid on Christmas, he started tugging on John’s shirt.

“That’s a bit disturbing,” John managed to get out before Sherlock pulled the fabric far enough up to muffle his voice. There was an awkward moment when Sherlock botched the angle, and John’s arms got tangled in the sleeves, his head stuck somewhere in the tight stretch of cotton. Then Sherlock muttered something that sounded like a mathematical formula, re-adjusted his pull, and John slipped free.

“Disturbing?” The detective asked, an inquisitive eyebrow raised as he grabbed the hem of his own shirt and jerked it over his head in one sharp, efficient movement.

John stopped, mouth open on a reply, all thought completely overthrown by the sight of the man before him.

John had worried, sometimes, after watching Sherlock fast for days, that under his perpetual coat and scarf and proper button-downs, he might be too thin, might be only skin and sinew and sharp protruding ribs. Apparently, there had been no need for concern, because Sherlock was gorgeous, all slim lines, and lean muscle, and smooth, pale skin, and John’s hands itched to trace the planes and dips of his body, to map the anatomy of this incomprehensible man.

“John?” Sherlock prompted, that elegant eyebrow still arched.

John blinked, groping around inside his scull for his derailed train of thought. “That expression,” He finally managed, swallowing thickly when his voice came out unnaturally hoarse, “The one like a five-year-old unwrapping presents. I’ve only ever seen you that excited when Lestrade rings about a homicide. I’m not sure how I feel about being the same in your head as murder.”

“Not the same,” Sherlock said firmly. “Better. You’re so much better than murder,” and he leaned down and took John’s mouth again.

John suspected that a year ago, ‘better than murder’ would have sounded a bit disturbing. But Sherlock had smashed into John’s life and uprooted all his old measures for things like ‘disturbing’ and ‘alarming’ and ‘scary,’ and now somehow being superior to homicide in this mad sociopath’s eyes sounded a little bit like the best compliment in the world.

Sherlock curved around John, one hand cupped at the back of his head, the other exploring his now naked chest with curious, probing fingers. It probably should have worried John more how warm and comfortable and right it felt to be sheltered under his friend’s wiry frame. But this was Sherlock, and John trusted him entirely.

John’s pulse was thrumming too fast, his skin growing too hot and too tight and he knew Sherlock, lying on top of him as he was, could feel his body’s reaction to the electric friction of sweat slicked skin. His muscles, still weak from their protracted battle against the flu trembled slightly as he clutched at Sherlock’s waist, straining to keep up with the adrenaline in his veins.

Sherlock muttered something into their kiss that that John didn’t have the wits left to decode, but suddenly the impatient slide of tongues and teeth slowed and John could breathe again.

And Sherlock was right, John realized with surprise. Breathing was boring. He didn’t want the air. He just wanted more of this man, right here, right now. He reached up to pull Sherlock back down, and the detective chuckled against his lips, throaty and deep and a little like everything John had ever wanted in this world.

“I…” John tried, and had to stop to swallow when his voice wouldn’t quite work, “I want…”

“Anything,” Sherlock promised against his lips, “But tomorrow.” He slid his weight off of John, and curled in around him again, tucking his chin into the crook of John’s neck.

John made a noise in his throat that sounded suspiciously like a whimper even to his own ears. “Tomorrow?” He asked weakly.

“You’re tired,” Sherlock said, running a hand through John’s hair, and sounding only the slightest bit breathless. “And you’ve been sick. Besides, I need to do some research.”

John gaped at him. How did the man sound so in control? John was more than a little hard just from the kissing, and judging by the warm firmness pressed against his thigh, he wasn’t the only one. “Seriously?” He asked, dazed. “You’re thinking about research?” John asked, fairly sure he was entitled to feel a little pissed off. “Now?

“You need your rest,” Sherlock said, matter-of-factly, as though he wasn’t at all responsible for the way John’s heart was trying to beat right out of his chest.

“I…Sherlock, you…” John glared at the savant idly petting his hair and groaned in frustration. A very large, very loud portion of John’s brain – the part directly connected to all the delicious patches of warm friction between them, wanted to protest that no, he was feeling fine, and Sherlock should just ignore the way his limbs were shaking because he hadn’t even really noticed it himself until Sherlock had stopped kissing him. But the small scrap of his mind that was still rational knew Sherlock was right. As usual. The bastard.

Besides, John thought, grinding his teeth as he tried to get himself back under control, they probably should be taking things a bit slower than light speed. This was all so new, and John still wasn’t sure he quite believed it was happening. Also, it appeared that Sherlock was actually attempting to be patient, which was probably a behavior John should try to encourage in his flatmate, no matter how much it made him want to strangle the man at the moment.

“You never do anything the usual way, do you?” he grumbled finally, scrubbing one hand over his face as he tried to rein in his hormones.

“It’s for your own good,” Sherlock replied, nodding like he was agreeing, although John was fairly sure that wasn’t what he’d just said. “You shouldn’t be exerting yourself at this stage in your recovery. It would be quite unfortunate if you had a relapse.”

“You started it.” John accused, resignation slowly edging out frustration. He should probably feel flattered that Sherlock was thinking of him. Empathy wasn’t a skill the detective practiced very often, and the fact that he appeared to think John was worth the effort...well it should count for something. John wasn’t quite sure what, though.

“You kissed me first,” Sherlock reminded him mercilessly.

“You climbed into my bed,” John shot back, not sure why it came out sounding more amused than perturbed. And then, because he had to be sure, “You’re not angry?”

“I’m not angry,” Sherlock confirmed, pressing his cold nose into the crook of John’s neck and inhaling. At some point, he must have slipped a hand under the waistband of John’s boxers, because it was getting harder and harder to ignore the distracting, ticklish sensation of fingertips slowly exploring his hipbones.

“You’re not worried? Not freaked out?” John said to distract himself.

“John,” Sherlock said, sounding more impatient than he had any right to when he was the one with his hand inside John’s pants, “I know your deductive skills aren’t nearly as sharp as my own, but even you can’t seriously believe that I didn’t enjoy what we did just now.” He arched his hips slightly to underline his still readily apparent interest, and raised an eyebrow as though daring John to contradict him.

John swallowed and blinked at the ceiling. That kind of evidence was rather hard to deny. Still…

“You stiffened,” John pointed out with dogged stubbornness. “When I kissed you the first time, I mean.”

Sherlock sighed and withdrew his hand, lips quirked slightly. “Yes,” He agreed. “I do remember becoming quite stiff.”

John choked back a surprised laugh and smacked Sherlock’s arm. “God, you know what I meant.” He was never quite sure what to make of the occasional innuendos Sherlock slipped into their conversations, phrases that seemed expressly designed to throw John off balance. “I meant, you went all tense and ridged, and not in the good way, so stop smirking,” He finished, glaring at is flatmate.

“I wasn’t being facetious, John,” Sherlock said evenly, though John thought he still detected a hint of mischief in his friend’s eyes. “Or at least, not entirely. My…stiffness was, in fact, the root of the problem.”

John quirked an eyebrow.

Sherlock sighed and flopped back onto the pillows, adopting a characteristically melodramatic pose and gesturing vaguely with one long-fingered hand. “I’m not exactly accustomed to reacting to that kind of physical stimuli.” From the tone of his voice, he might have been discussing the weather. Except…was that a blush coloring the pale skin of his cheekbones?

“Really?” John asked, half curious, and half disbelieving.

Sure, Sherlock was painfully abrasive at the best of times. But he was also absurdly beautiful and brilliant and likely due a hefty inheritance if Mycroft’s posh posturing and his own upper-class accents were anything to go by. There were plenty of people in the world who were willing to overlook almost anything for someone who was rich or attractive or smart, not to mention all three.

Certainly someone at some point in Sherlock’s life had been thick skinned enough to withstand his sharp tongue and cutting wit and try to get into his bed? And now that John thought about it, wasn’t Molly at the morgue always batting her eyelashes in Sherlock’s direction?

But no, John thought, that wasn’t what he said at all, was it? He hadn’t said that no one had ever been attracted to him. He’d said that that he wasn’t used to reacting. Did that mean…?

“I don’t do relationships, John,” Sherlock said, too-sharp eyes trained on John’s face. “I tried once, on purely experimental grounds.” His smile was a bit strained.

“Experimental grounds?” John asked weakly.

“Of course,” Sherlock replied. “When I attended college, it became readily apparent that there was a large area of social interaction in which I lacked accurate data. It seemed only reasonable to expand my base of knowledge.”

“Only you,” John sighed, “Could possibly enter into a relationship looking for experimental data. You’re not right in the head. You know that, don’t you?”

Sherlock remained silent, though the hand that had resumed tracing patterns on his skin was gradually moving up to ghost over John’s ribs.

“What where the results, then?” John asked to distract himself from Sherlock’s fingers, “Of the experiment, I mean.”

Sherlock was silent for long enough that John wasn’t sure he was going to answer.

“Disastrous,” he offered, finally. “I had researched the topic thoroughly, picked an appropriate subject, a third year physics student with an interest in behavioral psychology. Things progressed rather well, and I thought I was fairly close to proving my hypothesis, but then we made it into the bedroom,” Sherlock hesitated, eyes narrowing. “Apparently, I was insufficiently responsive.”

“Uh,” John blinked, struggling to reconcile that image with the man who had literally pinned him to the mattress minutes before, “Insufficiently responsive? Are you sure she didn’t mean overly responsive?”

Sherlock moved his head in one sharp shake of denial. “He,” Sherlock corrected, “And I’m sure. I believe the exact phrase he used to describe me was ‘an unfeeling robot.’” Sherlock’s brows drew down sharply. “It was a heinously inaccurate metaphor, of course.”

“You were insulted by the language?” John asked, “Of all the things that could have bothered you in that situation, you took issue with the metaphor?

“Of course,” Sherlock said, like it was the most natural thing in the world. “Inaccuracies of language lead to misunderstanding, misunderstanding to confusion, and confusion to misinterpretation of the available data.”

“That’s true, I suppose. But you compare your own brain to a hard drive all the time. How is that any different?”

Sherlock made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. “It’s entirely different. A hard drive is a tool, John. It’s a place to store data, a place for information to be organized and mapped and inventoried. Calling my mind a tool isn’t insulting. It’s the truth. Calling someone a robot, on the other hand, implies that they lack humanity, that their consciousness is governed by the most basic circuitry, and that the scope of their mind is limited to programmable parameters.” Clearly the idea that his brain was limited by any parameters at all was some sort of blasphemy in Sherlock’s book.

“Alright, yes. I can see where you’d find that insulting.” John conceded. He rubbed at one temple, trying to digest what Sherlock was implying. “So you’ve never had sex before?”

“I do lack a certain level of practical experience,” Sherlock agreed. “And apparently, a rudimentary knowledge of the theory was insufficient to prepare me for the volatility of the baser bodily instincts.”

“Wait,” John blinked, a little bubble of worry expanding in his chest. “A When you said research, earlier, did you mean…”

“I’ve heard that sodomy, when executed improperly, can lead to injury,” Sherlock said nonchalantly.

John sputtered.

“Clearly, it’s an area that will require extensive research, both theoretical and practical.” There was a familiar, manic spark in Sherlock’s eyes, the first warning sign of an oncoming obsession, and John felt his brows knit at the sight. He ran a hand through his hair, wondering what he’d gotten himself into.

“Sherlock,” He said, not quite sure how to phrase his concern. “If this is just a…a fling for you…” He started, then shook his head. That was too nebulous, too abstract. He wanted Sherlock to understand, and for that, he needed examples; concrete, Holmsian-Obliviousness-proof examples. John closed his eyes and tried again.

“If this is just a passing obsession, like that time you discovered bad telly and spent a whole week not sleeping and watching re-runs of rubbish American talk shows,” He swallowed, “Or like that time when you first discovered Legos and spent three weeks building replicas until the living room was completely full of tiny, scale models of London and Cardiff and the Death Star…Well, you got tired of the TV and cannibalized it for parts. And the Legos went into the dumpster, too, eventually.” John winced, remembering the acrid smell of the charred, mostly melted plastic blocks; messy victims of one of Sherlock’s more incendiary experiments.

“What I mean is, if this is just a diversion for you, like the telly and the Legos, then that’s fine,” John said, surprised at how steady his voice sounded; so steady he almost believed the words himself.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised. This was, after all, just another kind of battlefield, and John never felt more solid than he did when staring down the barrel of an enemy’s gun. He forced himself to soldier on. “If it’s just an experiment, that’s ok. I’ll be alright. But I think you’d better tell me now, before I get too involved, because I can’t let go of things as easily as you do. It’s harder for me to…”

“John,” Sherlock broke in firmly. “Although I usually like to encourage your forays into deep thought, in this case, I rather think you’re over-thinking things. You should take your medicine,” Sherlock reminded him, reaching out and grabbing the bottle off the nightstand. He handed it to John, then stood up and headed to the bathroom, completely unselfconscious in his boxer briefs.

As an answer, that response hadn’t exactly been illuminating. As a distraction tactic on the other hand… Well, for such a slender man, Sherlock really did posses an amazing rear end.

John glanced down at the bottle of flu pills in his hand. “Oh right, that reminds me,” John called over the sound of the running tap, “Where exactly did you get this medicine? Sarah said you hadn’t been by.”

“Don’t worry,” Sherlock replied smoothly, sidling back into the room. “I didn’t do anything untoward.” He handed John the glass, and slipped back under the covers, waiting just long enough for John to swallow his medicine and set down the cup before pressing in close, pillowing his head on John’s shoulder and draping an arm over his waist. “One of the pharmacists at Bart’s owed me a favor,”

“Is there anyone in London who doesn’t?” John asked with a smile. “Really, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Queen owed you a blood debt or something.”

“Actually…” Sherlock quirked a mischievous grin, hooking an ankle around John’s calf and tangling their legs.

John stared at him. “You’re kidding.”

“I’m kidding,” He conceded, burrowing closer under the covers, wriggling his free arm around so he could run long fingers through John’s hair. “Although the Duchess of Wessex is rather grateful that I located her poodle after he’d been dognapped three years ago. I could probably call in a favor or two with her if necessary.”

John blinked. “You went hunting for a poodle?” Perhaps that wasn’t the most important point, but it seemed more farfetched than the extended Royal family owing Sherlock favors.

“No. I went hunting for her nephew who had killed his sister’s fiancé, then fled to the countryside. He’d taken the dog along for company.”

Sometimes, late at night, when his mind was drifting off to sleep and his defenses were down, John had imagined what it would be like to curl up next to Sherlock, to slide into the small empty pockets on the couch left open by his artistic sprawls. He assumed it would feel a bit like snuggling up with a wooden chair – all thin, hard lines and awkward angles. But this…he never would have imagined this. The detective felt completely boneless against him, fitting around John like a tightly woven Celtic knot. John shifted and Sherlock shifted with him, as though they were oppositely charged magnets, continually drawn together.

“Ah.” John breathed, trying to focus on their current conversation. “I think I remember reading something about that in the papers, actually. The Duchess appreciated the poodle rescue, did she?”

“Quite,” Sherlock answered, voice a lower rumble than usual. John could feel the vibration of it where Sherlock’s chest pressed against his side. “Apparently she’d never had any real use for the nephew.”

“So the Duchess of Wessex, a pharmacist at Bart’s and about half the population of London owe you favors. Why am I not surprised?” John asked, barely smothering a grin.

It could have been worse, John supposed. Drugs illegally prescribed as a favor by a legitimate pharmacist was probably the best he could have hoped for, all things considered. John knew Sherlock was perfectly capable of buying the pills on the black market or stealing them from the Yard’s evidence locker, or, god forbid. producing them illegally himself. Not that there was likely to be a raging underground market for flu pills, but if there was, John had no doubt that Sherlock could find and infiltrate it. A worrying thought.

It did, however, remind John of something that he’d been meaning to ask the detective for quite a while. “Why do you hate Sarah?”

Sherlock’s hand stilled. “She’s an idiot,” he said, after a moment of silence.

“Alright. But according to you I’m an idiot, and you still put up with me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, John. I don’t merely put up with you. I enjoy your company. The world is significantly less dull when you are around.”

“Um. Thanks.” John blinked, rather taken aback. “That’s. Well. Thanks, I think. You still didn’t answer my question though. About Sarah. It can’t just be that she’s an idiot. Which she’s not, you know. She’s clever. Really clever for someone who’s not a genius. She’s a doctor. A good doctor. And she’s nice.”

“I’m not well versed in the social nuances of romance,” Sherlock said, tracing the line of John’s hipbone with his index finger, “But I do believe it’s considered bad form to praise an ex-lover while in bed with a new one.”

“Christ, you’re right. Sorry,” John said, more than a little appalled that it had been necessary for Sherlock, of all people, to remind him of his manners. “It’s just…I don’t get it. I want to understand.”

“She’s an imbecile,” Sherlock said in the emphatic tone he used when stating indisputable facts. “She had you and she let you go.”

“Wait. You’re basing your assessment of her intelligence on the fact that she dumped me?”

“Yes,” the detective replied simply.

“That’s not exactly a fair scale, Sherlock. You realize we nearly got her killed about seven times, and that’s not even counting the whole affair with the elephants. Breaking up with me was just self-preservation.”

“Breaking up with you was pure, undiluted idiocy,” Sherlock said stubbornly. “I, on the other hand, am a genius.”

John cocked an eyebrow, “So you’re planning on keeping me around for a while, then?” he asked, flippant.

“Forever,” Sherlock confirmed.

John’s breath caught in his throat. “I thought you were married to your work?” he asked, cursing the hope that laced his voice.

“Yes.” Sherlock shrugged. “That hasn’t changed.”

“Oh.” John tried to keep the disappointment off his face, but he wasn’t sure he managed it.

“But I do I find myself rather enamored with the idea of polygamy,” Sherlock said dryly, running a possessive hand down John’s back.

John snorted. “Polygamy?”

“Mmmm.” Sherlock hummed contentedly into his shoulder.

“I’m not sure what I think about being the other woman in this relationship,” John sighed, wondering if he should be more worked up about that. For the moment, though, the little ball of happiness inside his chest was too bright to let a shadow of real worry in. He leaned over and kissed Sherlock’s forehead, breathing in the scent of his skin as a mass of dark curls tickled his nose. “Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow,” Sherlock agreed, saying the word like a promise. “Now go to sleep. You need your strength.”

“Right,” John smiled. “And you have some research to do, I suppose.”

Sherlock’s grin was purely wicked. “Indeed.”

~☆~


Epilogue:

“This is insufferable,” Sherlock rasped. His nose was bright red and it whistled a little every time he breathed. “And it’s entirely your fault.”

“I warned you,” John said cheerfully. “I told you I was contagious, but you wouldn’t believe me.”

Sherlock regarded John through narrowed eyes. Weeet-woooo, weeet-woooo went his nose.

John handed Sherlock the tissue box and tried very hard not to laugh. “No cases until your fever breaks,”

A violent sneeze destroyed Sherlock’s mutinous glare. He dabbed at his nose with the tissue, glowering at everything in the room. “Impossible. I can’t stay cooped up here that long. It could be days. I’ll go mad!”

“You seemed perfectly content to be cooped up here while I was sick,” John pointed out. “that was days, and you’re not mad. At least you’re not any madder than you were to begin with.”

Sherlock crossed his arms. “That was different,” he said, petulantly. “Where were you this morning when I woke up? You're barely healed yourself. You shouldn't have been up and about yet.”

A pout was coming on. John could feel it in the air. If he didn’t head it off now, they were in for a miserable few days.

He cleared his throat a little nervously. “I...” John hesitated, coughed and tried again. “I went to the library and got you some books. I didn't realize you were sick. I'm sorry. But, you know, maybe they'll help distract you. While you recover.” He placed the bag of books on the bed and waited for Sherlock’s reaction.

“Books, John?” Sherlock drawled. “You think books can keep me entertained for days?

John remained silent, waiting, and eventually Sherlock gave in and opened the bag, spilling its contents across John’s bed. His eyes widened.

“You found these at the library?” Sherlock asked incredulously.

“Not all of them, no,” John admitted, cheeks flaming as Sherlock’s dexterous fingers traced a rather explicit picture on one of the covers. “I thought they might help you. With your, uh…research.”

Sherlock flipped open one of the books at random and stared down at the rather detailed picture. Next to it was a diagram with labels and instructions. Someone had helpfully highlighted a few key words, circled part of the picture and made additional annotations in cramped letters along one margin.

“Hmmm…” Sherlock said, contemplating the page. He flipped through another book, then another and finally smiled. “Laptop,” He said imperiously, holding out one hand, palm upwards, eyes fixed on the pages of John’s illicit books.

John smiled. The promised ‘tomorrow’ would have to wait a few days, but that was alright. They had all the time in the world.

He went to fetch Sherlock’s laptop.


/THE END ♥


Back to [Part 1]!

Comments

elarra
Dec. 1st, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful and awesome and so funny and yet sweet and and and...

Also, the line "Weeet-woooo, weeet-woooo went his nose." made me laugh out loud for real <3
fakinbrilliance
Dec. 3rd, 2011 02:37 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting! Glad it was enjoyable. I need to get back into writing fanfic sometime >.> hopefully soon!

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