Title: My Phone’s on Vibrate For You 5
Word Count: 4300
Summary: John and Sherlock have had many conversations since they began this affair, but there’s one more they haven’t had.
Notes: Continued from part 4.
There are certain conversations that can only be had while naked and damp, pressed against each other. John and Sherlock have had them, conversations spoken in soft tones, near-whispers even though there’s no one to disturb or overhear. Sherlock likes to touch John after sex, likes to draw his fingers down John’s chest and tell John about past adventures, about the scars he acquired before John came into his life, or the stories he can read from John’s skin. They knew each other well before this, but John thinks they’re starting to know each other completely from these nights filled with soft laughter and comforting touch.
But there’s one conversation that they haven’t had.
It’s four months since they started what John thinks of as The Endeavor, and while Sherlock told the story of his first lover (and the shags who followed, though John refuses to think of them as people who loved Sherlock) easily enough, John has yet to follow suit.
It’s not that he doesn’t want to tell Sherlock about it, he does. Telling Sherlock his stories feels a bit pointless, because most of the time Sherlock knows them anyway — he gathers information from the scars on John’s body, the mud on his shoes, the way he trims his fingernails. The fact that Sherlock has never said, “Your first kiss was a boy, you’ve slept with more women than men but you have slept with several of both, and you’ve been deeply in love twice,” suggests to John that Sherlock doesn’t find it important enough to discuss.
John supposes it isn’t. It has nothing to do with them, except that it brought them here.
They don’t talk about this during the rest of their day, this thing between them. They don’t kiss while cooking supper, they don’t hold hands while walking, they don’t call each other endearments. They don’t even say it out loud, they don’t say, “I want you tonight, sleep with me,” as if saying it out loud would break it apart. They proposition each other by text message, they seduce each other with significant looks, and whenever John sleeps alone he spends half the night wondering if Sherlock wants him and just couldn’t bring himself to say.
Once they’re actually in bed — or wherever, the couch or the kitchen and on one memorable occasion the loo at Antonio’s, and John’s shoulder bore Sherlock’s teeth marks for days afterwards but he thinks it’s a fair trade for not being discovered — it’s really quite easy. They want each other, they’re so good together, but words only come easily afterwards, not before.
It’s one of those cases Mycroft tosses Sherlock’s way, involving stolen documents and the broken heel on a pair of women’s shoes, and John knows that once it’s solved there will be several more thousand pounds in his bank account than there are today. (Sherlock refuses to accept payment for anything he does for Mycroft, and Mycroft pretends to comply. He slipped John checks until Sherlock discovered it and threw a tantrum, so now Mycroft just deposits the payments directly into John’s account. John has no idea how. It’s one of those things he figures it’s better not to ask.)
And in the way that so often happens with Sherlock’s cases, Mycroft’s problem has intersected with one of Lestrade’s, and now they’re in a dank warehouse, surrounded by police, and Sherlock is kneeling over the body while Lestrade, Donovan and John look on. Anderson has been ordered to turn his back, which he has complainingly done, but his huffing is the only sound except for drips and the occasional rattle of wind against the metal walls.
Sherlock inspects the man’s fingernails, his pockets. He pushes back the man’s hair and frowns at the sight of his forehead. He picks up the man’s feet and looks at the soles of his shoes with his tiny magnifying glass. He pushes gently on the man’s stomach.
John can almost hear Sherlock’s mind ticking through clues and hints and possibilities, and it’s hard not to feel proud of him — hard not to shout as he unabashedly watches Sherlock’s arse through his coat, That’s mine, that’s all mine, I can have that whenever I want.
(Well, except for tonight. There won’t be sex tonight, just like there won’t be any food or sleep unless John insists on it. Even then, John will eat a solitary meal and sleep alone.)
He feels someone’s eyes on him and looks up to see Donovan watching him, something like confusion on her face. He wonders if she noticed where his eyes were, maybe even the slight blush in his cheeks.
(Because in watching Sherlock he starts thinking about the last time they had sex — three days ago, on the couch, Sherlock’s body long and gorgeous under his as he rode Sherlock’s cock. He hadn’t wanted to be on top at first, he’d been embarrassed, tried to get Sherlock to close the blinds and turn off the lights, and Sherlock said, “Why?” as if he truly didn’t understand. John suspected he didn’t — Sherlock had never been scarred, smaller than his comrades and soft in the middle, but as Sherlock ran his hands over John’s body and said, “I want you, John, let me look at you,” none of those things seemed quite so important anymore. He was the lover of a beautiful man. Nothing else mattered.)
John smiles uncomfortably and Donovan’s eyes narrow before she looks away. She knows, thinks John, and has another flash of memory — Sarah, over coffee, while he was still bruised and sore from the pool explosion, saying gently, I can’t compete, John. I think we both know where your interests really lie. At the time he didn’t — or if he did, he wasn’t ready to admit it — but he could see it now. She’d known, before either he or Sherlock knew it for themselves.
And now Donovan suspects, if she hasn’t figured it out entirely, and John imagines that she and Anderson will have a good laugh over it later, pitying him for being seduced by the freak.
He refocuses on Sherlock, who’s finally getting to his feet as he tells Lestrade, “It was the son.”
“He died of heart failure,” said Lestrade, looking at John because that had been his diagnosis not ten minutes before.
“Yes, he did,” says Sherlock, “but it’s the son’s fault.” He kneels again and picks up the victim’s left hand to study his fingers once more.
“Are we done with this circus?” says Donovan. “Can we get down to some real police work now?”
Sherlock drops the victim’s hand. “Wedding band,” he says succinctly and strides out of the warehouse. Lestrade and the rest of them look at John as if they expect him to translate. He just smiles again and trots after Sherlock.
“There was a clue in the man’s wedding band?” he says when he catches up to Sherlock, whose arm is already raised to summon a cab.
“There was no wedding band, John.” A cab pulls up and Sherlock gets in. John frowns at him before he follows, and Sherlock is tapping away on his mobile as the cab pulls away from the curb.
“So,” John tries, “whoever killed him took the wedding band.”
“His son took the wedding band.” Sherlock continues typing. “The victim died of heart failure, correct?”
“It would take an autopsy to be certain, but that’s my initial diagnosis, yes.”
“The son met his father at the warehouse, likely under false pretenses, to confront him about his infidelities. When the father had a heart attack, the son did nothing. He didn’t kill his father, but he let him die.”
“Cold,” John murmurs and looks out the window. “He’s still culpable. That’s criminal negligence.”
“Not as severe a sentence as murder, no matter how cold-blooded,” says Sherlock, absorbed in his phone.
“And the wedding band?”
“There are two reasons why people take off their wedding rings: to protect it or to hide it. Our victim was the latter.”
“And,” John says slowly, “the son took the ring to protect it.”
“For his mother, I assume.” He dials a number and delivers his findings to Mycroft in a near-monotone, not even bothering with their usual bickering. Once he’s disconnected, he puts his phone away in his coat’s inner pocket and falls silent.
John is used to Sherlock’s silences by now, but the silence on the way home tonight seems different somehow. Sherlock is … subdued. That’s the word for it. He’s subdued.
John watches Sherlock as the taxi carries them through the streets of London. Sherlock doesn’t look any different than any number of similar nights to this, except perhaps some weariness around his eyes. John reaches over and touches Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock glances at him and moves his hand a fraction. John sighs and takes his hand back.
They don’t talk about it, but John thinks about it constantly, asking himself what is “it,” exactly? He still isn’t sure.
At its simplest, it’s sex whenever he wants, however he wants, without strings. Sherlock likes doing what John asks, or at least he never says no.
There’s a lot that John likes. He likes to be naked while Sherlock gives him blowjobs fully dressed. He likes to thrust his hands into Sherlock’s hair and watch that amazing mouth slide up and down his cock, lips reddening from friction, his skin slick from pre-come and Sherlock’s saliva. He likes to spread his legs wide and arch his hips, to let Sherlock lick his balls or even his hole — the sight of Sherlock’s dark hair against his thigh is fascinating, and there are times when John wishes they had a camera or a mirror or something so that he could watch Sherlock’s tongue flicking inside him.
He likes it when Sherlock leaves on his boxer shorts while they rub off against each other. They clutch at each other, fingers digging into backs and shoulders, and as much as John loves kissing him while they thrust he also loves to just watch Sherlock’s face, his eyes, the way he licks his lips. If Sherlock comes in his shorts, John likes to pull them down and lick him clean.
He likes to touch Sherlock after sex. He likes the luster of Sherlock’s skin when he’s still damp with perspiration. He likes the softness of Sherlock’s mouth after he’s been kissed again and again. He likes to run his fingers through Sherlock’s damp hair and smooth it against his skull. He likes the lazy way Sherlock blinks at him, how Sherlock will kiss him with his eyelashes if John presses his face to Sherlock’s cheek. He likes Sherlock’s arm around him, tracing patterns into his skin.
He likes to kiss Sherlock. He likes to hold Sherlock’s face and kiss him slowly. He likes to suck Sherlock’s neck, to lick the birthmark on his throat. He likes the feel of Sherlock’s tongue against his, the heat of his mouth, the slide of his lips. He likes the way Sherlock laughs as he as wipes saliva from his chin.
John has no idea what Sherlock likes. Well, he likes words, John knows that, but not so much talking dirty as just talking, which John can’t always do in the throes of passion. And he likes being fucked, or at least he never says he doesn’t like it, though since Sherlock told him the story about his first boyfriend John has wondered if Sherlock only likes it because he thinks he should.
John is fairly certain Sherlock likes kissing. He always kisses back.
But that’s the Endeavor at its simplest. And things are not always simple between them — are rarely simple at all.
John has never been one for nervous chatter but he can’t stop himself as he hangs his jacket and pulls off his jumper. “You were brilliant tonight, Sherlock. You always are but that was just–” He goes into the kitchen and starts the kettle. “Do you want tea? I want tea. I’m too keyed up to sleep.”
There’s no answer from Sherlock, and John pokes his head out of the kitchen to see him standing in front of the window, still wearing his coat.
“John, I want to ask you a question,” says Sherlock without turning around.
“All right.” He crosses the sitting room to join Sherlock, and looks out the window as well. Baker Street is quiet tonight, few people out, a fine mist hanging around the street lamps from the earlier rain.
Sherlock is quiet for a while longer, and finally says, “What is it about sex, John?”
John looks up at him. “What do you mean?”
“What is it about sex that drives people to hurt each other so?”
John inhales slowly as he thinks. “I think … it’s the desire to feel. Sex forces you to feel, it’s so immediate and raw. Lust, desire, love, pain … it’s irresistible. It’s easy to get hooked on such strong emotions. Or to feel desired, to feel loved.”
“You associate sex with more than mere physical pleasure.”
“I suppose I do.”
Sherlock looks at him for the first time since they arrived home. “Is that why you like it?”
“Yes,” John says simply.
“You like feeling desired.”
Their gaze holds for several seconds longer than necessary, and then Sherlock says, “I don’t wish to have sex tonight.”
John looks up at him sharply as half a dozen questions leap to mind. He says, “I’m not surprised.”
“But I would like to — that is –” He stops and bites his lip, teeth sinking into the pink flesh in a way that makes John’s breath catch. John doesn’t speak or move — he’s never seen Sherlock flustered, and this is definitely flustered. Sherlock inhales as John waits, and Sherlock says, “You said once it was good to just be close. Do you remember?”
“I would like to be close tonight.”
“Sure, all right. That sounds … good. Do you want tea?”
“No. Thank you. I’m … actually tired,” Sherlock says in a puzzled sort of tone, and John almost laughs.
“Again, not surprised. You’ve been on the go for days. Your bed or mine?”
“Yours. You changed the sheets two days ago. The scent will be pleasant.”
John does laugh this time, and he pats Sherlock’s back before moving back to the kitchen. “I do want tea, so I’m going to have a cup. You do whatever you like and I’ll meet you in bed in a few minutes.”
He glances back at Sherlock and it seems to him that Sherlock is not holding himself quite so stiffly.
John forces himself to let the kettle boil and the tea steep, and he drinks it slowly, giving it the proper attention. All the while he can hear Sherlock moving about, the rattles and rustles that mean he’s getting ready to sleep. John’s teacup is almost empty when he sees Sherlock go up the stairs in his blue dressing gown.
John smiles to himself. He rinses his cup and leaves it in the sink, turns out all the lights and locks the door, and climbs the stairs as well.
Sherlock is on the far side of the bed, the duvet pulled up to his chin like a frightened virgin on her wedding night. It’s absurd, of course, they’ve sprawled across this bed in wanton abandon, but John doesn’t point this out. It’s something new, to go to bed together and merely sleep, and he doesn’t want to spook Sherlock.
He goes about his routine — teeth, face, medication — and gets into bed. Sherlock is still curled up as if trying to take as little room as possible, and tenses when John reaches for his shoulder.
“Sherlock,” John says, “it’s difficult to be close when you don’t stop flinching.”
“Sorry. Yes.” He unclenches enough to ease against John, and John decides there’s only one solution to this. He maneuvers Sherlock between his legs and tucks Sherlock against him. Sherlock sighs and lets his face rest against John’s neck. His arms wind around John’s chest. John eases them back against the pillows, his hand combing soothingly through Sherlock’s hair.
It’s warm and comfortable, being tangled together like this — so warm and comfortable that John is almost asleep when Sherlock says, “Your turn.”
John starts from his doze and tries to piece together whatever conversation Sherlock was having without him. “My turn for what?”
“I told you my story. You tell me yours.”
“The how-I-realized-I-was-bisexual story? It’s not that interesting.”
Sherlock strokes John’s chest in tiny rhythmic movements. “I want you to tell me. Please.”
John inhales. Sherlock says please so rarely, John hates to refuse him when he does. “All right. Well. I had this friend when I was boy. His name was Frankie. It was a very intense friendship. We’d walk around with our arms around each other’s shoulders, sit together whenever we could, make these plans for how we would live together when we were grown. I told my mother I was going to marry him.” Sherlock huffs and John adds, “I was seven. I didn’t quite understand what marriage entails, aside from living together.”
“What did she do?”
“She laughed. And then told me not to tell my father.”
Sherlock says softly, “What happened to him? The boy?”
John looks down at Sherlock’s face, blurry and pale in the darkness. “We grew out of it. He grew out of it, anyway. I grew up a bit confused, but when I learned that you didn’t have to be straight or gay, there were all sorts of other possibilities, that helped.” He can feel Sherlock nodding against his shoulder in understanding, and he presses his lips to Sherlock’s hair. “My first kiss was with my best mate. Andrew. We’d tell each other it was for practice but … it wasn’t.”
He remembers it so well, being in the room Andrew shared with his brother, the blinds drawn, giggling as they kissed on his bed until it got passionate and scary and exhilarating, and then darting apart and giggling more when Andrew’s mother opened the door and said, “What are you lads doing, here in the dark?” and snapping the blinds up again.
They’d sneak off together at school, climb up to the roof and snog and talk and share stolen cigarettes. Andrew had had a narrow chest and curly brown hair, a light dusting of freckles and dark brown eyes, and no matter how polished he was at the beginning of the day he was always rumpled by the end, even if John didn’t touch him. And when John did touch him, when Andrew touched John, John went about for the rest of the day with a bright feeling in his chest like nothing and no one could spoil his happiness.
“But then he found a girlfriend, and not long after, so did I,” John says, remembering he’s telling Sherlock a story, and Sherlock stirs in his arms. “Her name was Georgia. She liked kissing, too. We’d go dancing and bowling and to the cinema, and it was fun.”
“Not intense,” Sherlock says softly.
“No. No drama. Just young love.”
“And then … We went to different universities but kept in touch, and still dated each other on holidays. She was still my girlfriend, I was still her boyfriend. But then I started med school, and that was the end of it. We loved each other, but not enough for it to survive the pressure on med students. Not many relationships do. And then I shipped out, and–” He pauses, swallows. “I’m sure you’ve deduced the rest.”
“You found a girlfriend almost as soon as you were home,” says Sherlock.
John frowns, uncertain of his tone. “You weren’t looking for anything, remember?”
“I wasn’t,” says Sherlock and moves out John’s arms. “I’m not. What are you looking for, John?”
“I can’t answer that.”
“Because I don’t know.”
Sherlock huffs. “I know what you’re looking for. A relationship.”
John shakes his head. “No. No. I’m not.”
“That girlfriend search was just a lark?” Sherlock is starting to sound annoyed.
“That girlfriend search was a kneejerk reaction.”
John sits up and turns on the bedside lamp. He gets out of bed and goes to his dresser, while Sherlock watches him, his eyebrows furrowed. John takes out a box, and from the box he takes a photograph. He gets back into bed and gives the picture to Sherlock.
“Your medical unit?” Sherlock says, still furrowed.
John points to the faces in the picture. “That’s me, of course. And that,” he points to another face, “is Stewart Radcliffe. My partner. My boyfriend.”
Sherlock looks up at John, his hold on the picture becoming something more gentle.
“He was wonderful,” John says. “There was no drama with him, either, since there was enough going on around us. He was funny and brash and gentle, and I loved him very much.”
Sherlock says softly, “How did he die?”
John has to pause a moment. He can remember that, too, waking up in the hospital with his body screaming with pain and seeing his friends, the doctors he’d been serving with for months, their faces so filled with sorrow that he didn’t even need to hear the words. “The same attack that wounded me.”
Sherlock gives him back the picture wordlessly, and after John puts it away again and gets back into bed, he pulls John to him and kisses his shoulder. John expects there to be more questions but Sherlock just holds him until he falls asleep.
It feels like some sort of miracle that Sherlock is still with him in the morning, and John is treated to the rare sight of Sherlock sleeping. His lips are slightly parted and his fingers are curled, and his dark lashes are beautiful contrast against his skin.
John leans his head on his hand and watches Sherlock sleep, the slight shifts and murmurs that Sherlock makes. He thinks about the conversation they had last night, the story he told. About Stewart.
It isn’t that he hasn’t thought about Stewart, because he has, but it’s troubling to realize that he thinks about Stewart less and less every day. Sherlock is too big and vibrant and there to allow room for many others, even in memory.
The two of them can’t be more different, Stewart and Sherlock — Stewart had been gregarious and ruddy, a singer of drinking songs, with heavy muscular legs and thick fingers. John only has to close his eyes to see him, his big reassuring smile as he patched up patients, his hands gentle with all those frightened young men and women, the image of reassurance and authority.
Yet Stewart, whom he had loved, pales in comparison to Sherlock, about whom he isn’t sure what he feels at all.
When Sherlock speaks it startles John so much his head falls off his hand. “John, I’ve been thinking.”
“Oh?” John takes a pillow and bunches it under his head. “What about?”
Sherlock doesn’t open his eyes, but he does fold his hands on his chest. “About what you said — that you like sex because it makes you feel desired.”
“It’s a bit more complicated than that,” John begins, but Sherlock just goes on over him.
“And you have been desired by several people, several different kinds of people. Some of them have even loved you.”
“You make it sound so impossible,” says John dryly and Sherlock slants a look at him.
“Don’t be nonsensical, John. Of course you’ve been loved. You don’t make it difficult, I’m sure.”
“I was under the impression you think only fools fall in love.”
“I do. And yet people do it, nonetheless.” He pauses. “It’s difficult to compartmentalize everything you make me experience. I would die for you, but that was true even before we started our extracurricular relationship.”
“I know, Sherlock.”
“Yet I also like you. Enjoying your company is … novel. That you enjoy my company, even more so.”
“I’m never bored,” John says quietly, smiling.
“You prefer there not to be drama.”
“Not in my relationships, no. In my life, that I don’t seem to mind so much.”
Sherlock turns his head to look at John. His voice is flat. “Someday you’re going to want more than what I’m capable of giving.”
John shakes his head. “Sherlock, I’m — happier, much happier than I’ve been for a very long time. Surely you understand you have everything to do with that.”
“Do I?” Sherlock says, his face more vulnerable and naked that John has seen it other than the brink of orgasm, and John takes hold of Sherlock’s jaw and kisses him.
“Yes,” he says firmly, “and whatever you think I’m lacking, stop. What we’ve got is good. It’s a bit strange, but it’s good.”
John sighs, exasperated. “What do you want me to say? No, I won’t? Yes, I will? I don’t know what the future’s going to bring, but you and I — we’re fine. We’re good. If you’re unhappy, tell me, but I don’t think you are. You’re just uncertain and you don’t like being uncertain, so be certain that I want you.”
Sherlock studies him. “Should we have sex now?”
John starts to smile. “Do you want to?”
Sherlock slowly shakes his head. “No. I don’t feel particularly desirable.”
“All right.” He reaches over to play with Sherlock’s hair. “When you do, though, rest assured that I desire you.”
Sherlock closes his eyes and moves his head to rest it on John’s shoulder. John goes on playing with his hair.