Chapter 8: Monday Again
Damn it all to hell, he was rubbish at this.
He’d spent the first half-hour of his day standing in the exact centre of the flat looking around, partially because it was simply glorious to have his sight back and partially because John was hurt and when John was hurt he was supposed to do . . . something. Something nice. Something that would make him smile. Except he couldn’t for the life of him think of anything good enough. The most infuriating part was that the only person he would even consider going to for help on this was the one he was trying to be nice to.
He settled for cleaning, at least initially; one of the first things John had mentioned upon his first visit to 221B was the clutter, and it had worsened considerably since then. Maybe he would even clean the body parts out of the refrigerator; John had definitely mentioned how nice it would be not to see a severed head first thing in the morning, and Molly would be only too happy to loan him some space in the mortuary. It would of course have been difficult to explain to a cabbie why his backseat was occupied by a jar of fingers, exactly thirty-six eyeballs, two separate specimens of human skin and a rather impressive ball of hair, so he compromised by playing a grotesque game of Tetris in the bottommost drawer of the fridge, managing to cram every ill-conceived experiment in the flat into one tiny, easily sealed container. Three hours passed and the flat looked almost presentable. A swift Google search later and he had something of a battle plan.
First, breakfast in bed. Chicken noodle soup was widely regarded as some sort of panacea, and while the effects were obviously psychological, it did seem the sort of nice gesture that might elicit a smile. For some reason the smile was becoming more and more important to Sherlock; he hadn’t properly seen John smile in a week and a half. They didn’t have chicken noodle soup, however, and leaving John alone was out of the question, so he settled for the dusty tin of tomato soup he’d found while searching the pantry for leftover neurotoxins.
Sherlock Holmes knew a lot of things. He did not know it was possible to burn soup.
“Oh come on, it’s a bloody liquid, how –?”
“Everything all right?”
He spun around, the spoon in his hand flinging little droplets of tomato everywhere. John was leaning against the counter, a little pale, a little peaked, but otherwise fine. “No,” he growled, turning back to the burnt chunks and thin tendrils of smoke rising from the pan. “How do you burn soup?”
“For one thing, that’s marinara sauce,” John said mildly, picking the tin up off the counter and examining it. “An experiment or some kind of weird craving?”
Dropping the spoon, he ran both hands through his hair and barked out a sharp laugh. “Your breakfast in bed, actually.” He didn’t turn around, waiting for the snort, for the eye roll, for the indignation that always followed something burning in 221B. Instead, there was a giggle, small at first, and then an explosion, with Sherlock joining in helplessly until he had to grip the countertop for support.
“Sherlock,” John said. Sherlock looked up and oh God, it was the smile, bright and effortless and so very John. He tried to walk over and see how badly the pan was damaged, but his boot caught on the floor and he fell forward. Sherlock moved faster than he ever had, swooping forward and seizing him just under the elbows. John steadied himself against him, sliding his arms back until they were almost hand in hand and still smiling that smile that made Sherlock’s chest seize up and shook the foundations of his Mind Palace.
“I can’t leave you alone for five minutes, can I?” he asked warmly, giving his arms an affectionate squeeze. Sherlock swallowed hard, running his eyes along the curve of his lips . . . and still couldn’t do it. So he bowed his head, turned his wrists and kissed those glorious hands instead, running his lips along the thick callouses and barely touching his tongue to the centre of his palms.
“Oh.” John’s mouth fell open, his eyes widening and his pupils pooling wide in those brilliantly blue irises before his lids slammed shut. Sherlock couldn’t resist looking up almost shyly, gauging his reaction, hoping against hope for a response other than disgust.
“Open your eyes, John,” he whispered, one hand skimming up to touch the delicate shadow beneath his right one. “I really have missed those eyes.”
John opened his eyes.
And slammed Sherlock against the wall.
Sherlock gave a muffled shout that was cut off by the press of John’s mouth against his, insistent, demanding. He had to be standing on tiptoe to reach but Sherlock’s eyes were sliding shut and with John’s lips at his mouth and John’s hands at his wrists it felt like John was everywhere. And then John’s mouth slid open and there was just a flash of his tongue and Sherlock went mad, flipping him against the wall and seizing his waist hard enough to bruise because he had to taste him again, because if John’s hands were his salvation his mouth was going to be the death of him. He bit down, gently, suckling at his lower lip and John moaned into his mouth in a way that left him seeing white. All this time. All this time, he’d had no idea how precious, how beautiful this could be.
John made a half-hearted attempt to pull back, his hands tangling with Sherlock’s hair. “W-Wait, Sherlock –”
“Less words,” Sherlock growled, pressing in to drag his lips along John’s jaw.
“Wait – wait –” And Sherlock really did pull back, because he recognized the look in his eyes. Process. He needed to process.
“What do you need?” he rasped, moving his fingers to touch his pulse, and it felt so good to ask that question, to give back in some small way to this curious man who’d given so much of himself since they’d met. “What can I do?”
John was shaking his head slowly, almost dazedly, his hands still buried in Sherlock’s hair. “I don’t understand,” he whispered, although an awestruck smile was playing at his lips. “What made you change your mind?”
Sherlock opened his mouth to reply, but one of John’s hands wandered down to the sensitive skin behind his ear as the other traced his shoulder blade and words failed him. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I should’ve been lost,” he murmured hoarsely, trapping John’s hand in his and dusting a kiss over each fingertip. “I couldn’t see, couldn’t think, couldn’t deduce . . . it’s who I am, John, and without it I should have been utterly lost.”
John’s eyelids fluttered shut.
“But I wasn’t,” Sherlock pressed on. The words were awkward, some too rushed, some drawn out, because this was hitherto uncharted territory but he had to make John understand. “I was so damnably trapped in my own head but you found me.” He swallowed painfully. “No one’s ever bothered to find me before.”
“Of course I did,” John said incredulously, pulling his hand away to splay it across Sherlock’s cheek. Dear God, they could live to be a hundred and he’d never get used to this. “I’ll always find you.”
“I know you will.” And that in itself was a miracle. “I just wish I understood why.”
John’s eyes sharpened slightly. “You can’t be serious.” Sherlock shook his head, mute, and John’s hands moved again, cupping his neck as if it were something precious. “Do you honestly think you were the only one lost, you daft bastard? I was a washed-up veteran with no future and no home. My life was over, and then . . .” It was his turn to swallow and look away. “I was dull as a rock before you. I’m just returning the favour.”
“A rock?” Sherlock pulled away indignantly, although he didn’t go far. “A rock?” Yet again the doctor had left him at a loss for words, because no one got to talk about John like that, not even John himself. “You are not a rock, John Watson. You are an anchor.” And he pressed in to claim another kiss, and another, and another, until his head was swimming and John was gasping his name against his lips and it was worth every agonizing second of blindness just to be able to have and hold his John like this. His John.
John’s mobile went off, and to Sherlock’s astonishment he broke away to check it. “You cannot be serious,” Sherlock growled, nipping at his neck in punishment (John almost dropped the phone). “It is my job to check the phone at socially unacceptable times, John Watson, it’s your job to shout at me for it. Not the other way around.” He nipped again, harder. John groaned.
“It’s not my fault you’ll kill me if I let you miss a job – oh, you’ll love this.”
Sherlock really did stop, pulling away just enough to brush his nose against John’s. “Let me guess, another murder?”
“Two suicides, same time, same cause of death, exact same note in the exact same handwriting, without any connection between the two victims.”
“Yes!” Sherlock spun around, crowing in triumph, stamped a hard kiss across John’s mouth, and took off for all of three paces before realising it probably wasn’t the best idea to merely take off after two dead bodies after one has just snogged one’s flatmate for the first time. He wasn’t sure what the best idea was, however, so he turned back tentatively, waiting for John to tell him what to do.
“Oh, go on, you crazy bugger,” John laughed, stumping across the kitchen to hand him his coat and scarf. “I’ll catch up when I can.”
But Sherlock shook his head. There was no way he was going off alone, not anymore. Not now that he didn’t have to. So instead he took the coat, shrugged it on, and held out a hand. “Together?”
John smiled that smile, positively glowing, and it struck Sherlock that he was happy enough to look the same. “Together,” he replied, and they set off for the crime scene hand in hand.