Fic: A fascinating phenomenon

“I’m not your boyfriend,” was what John said, after Sherlock kissed him, in the train car packed with explosives that had, unexpectedly, not exploded.

Now they’re at their door at Baker Street, under a luminous, grey sky. Though it’s not their door, anymore – not both of theirs. John is hanging back, his shoulders up, his weight on the back foot.

A pizza guy on a scooter putters past. For a moment, Sherlock thinks John’s going to bolt.

Sherlock gestures to the door in invitation. John takes an unusually long time to accept.

Upstairs, they walk in and stand, John in the middle of the room, Sherlock by the door. There is an air of hysteria, as if a game of British Bulldogs is about to break out.

Sherlock takes a step.

“What the bloody hell,” John says, “do you think you’re up to?”

Sherlock takes two steps closer, then another. Everything about John’s body telegraphs he is about to belt Sherlock in the face.

Sherlock takes one step closer. They are closer than heterosexual men may comfortably stand to each other. John’s spine sags; his gaze falls in dismay.

The puzzle of how to kiss him like this, in this wilted state, seems insurmountable. Sherlock attempts it anyway. Unexpectedly, John helps, raising his arms to Sherlock’s shoulders, lifting his chin to offer his mouth.

There. It’s like magnets clicking together, north to south.

Sherlock realises, with a hot feeling beneath his ribs, that John has already learned something from last time: he must tilt his face up quite high so they can comfortably come together.

Sherlock feels unable to stand further. He fists his fingers in John’s sleeve to prevent his escape and falls into the armchair. He tugs at John’s elbow and opposite knee to bring him down across his lap. John complies, tentative as someone afraid of hurting a child.

John’s body is stiff: it’s clear he feels like a git sitting in another man’s lap.

“I have to,” John begins, bitterly. Then he huffs in surprise as Sherlock slips his arms between John’s overcoat and his jacket, and squeezes him, snug around his solid, slightly thickening middle. “I have to get back to my life soon, Sherlock.”

“Yes,” Sherlock says. “No. I know.”

John’s torso softens in Sherlock’s grasp. Sherlock can feel John’s breath in his hair.

“This makes even less sense of the fact that you fucked off for two years and let me think you were dead, you know,” John says.

“I know,” Sherlock says. It’s amazing the effect the wool-and-shaving-soap smell of John’s neck has on him – the sense of calm and safety. He is just realising that it may have been having this effect for years, but he didn’t notice because the smell was all through the soft furnishings in the flat, like a nicotine patch he never had to take off.

“Are you smelling my neck?”

“It’s a good – neck.” Sherlock is having trouble with language. It’s a fascinating phenomenon – when John leaves, he will have to experiment to see if the effect fades straight away.

“All right, well, I have to –” John gets up gingerly, bracing his weight on Sherlock’s shoulders.

Sherlock takes John’s left hand as he is getting up. Now John is three paces distant, trying to leave, but tethered to Sherlock by the hand. The fan of creases below John’s eye is opening and closing, like a moth wing.

There seems no point in anything less than candour. Sherlock says, “I’ve never actually wanted to kiss anyone before. It’s quite odd. I don’t entirely know what to do about it.”

“Oh, shut up.” John tears his hand free and strides forward. Sherlock braces to be hit.

John kisses him – hard. It must be how people who like to have sex kiss: abject and intrusive.

They settle in to it, long and wet. This way of kissing mimics the act itself, Sherlock supposes – the penetration of the tongue past the boundary of the other’s body – the mingling of the fluids. It’s glorious: a moment ago he was only smelling John; now John is pouring himself down his throat. So much new information: the ridge of taste buds down the right side of John’s tongue; the way the air whistles slightly in John’s left nostril when he’s forced to breathe through his nose.

John’s vehemence is wonderful – he keeps scoring Sherlock’s lip with a stray incisor. It does not seem to matter that Sherlock does not quite know what to do with his own tongue while his mouth is so full of John’s.

But this angle is hopeless – so much space between their bodies, with John leaning over him while he sits in the chair. Sherlock wants to hold him. How surreal to own that thought as his – like he’s playing a role for a case.

He struggles to stand, and wallows for a moment in the chair cushion, so that he has to break contact. Then he’s up, and they clutch each other and carry on kissing.

John withdraws his mouth, with a smack of suction breaking. “Why are you such a fucking cock, if you want to kiss me?”

“I am a cock. I’m fairly sure I just am one.” Sherlock is exploring the back of John’s hair – he has examined it by sight before, but never by touch. He did not know how soft the fine hair behind John’s ears was, at the very edge of the hairline.

John sighs – a familiar sound, as if he’s just found one of Sherlock’s experiments in the fridge. He leans his forehead on Sherlock’s shoulder.

“Is this normal?” Sherlock asks.

“Whatever it is you’re talking about, the answer is no. Absolutely nothing in this situation is normal.” John’s voice is muffled; Sherlock can feel his breath against his collarbone through his shirt.

“I have an elevated heart rate and increased somatosensory sensitivity all over my body. Is that normal when people kiss each other?” Sherlock has always thought ordinary people were being histrionic when they described this sort of thing.

“It is if you’re doing it right, yes,” John says. He sounds defeated, and a touch embarrassed.

“I’m getting bloody well married soon,” John says, at length.

Sherlock is reflexively very angry at whoever made John feel that way. But then he remembers who it was.

“I know,” Sherlock says.

John sniffs.

“You should do that,” Sherlock says. “She’s very nice.” He is trying not to sound tragic, and instead suspects he sounds odd.

“Don’t need your bloody permission.”

“Of course not.”

John shifts in Sherlock’s arms, as if to escape. But he looks up into Sherlock’s face, and sees something there. He looks stricken, and kisses Sherlock again.

It’s not as wet as before. But still: glorious.

They breathe onto each other’s wet lips.

“You are going,” John says very severely, too loudly for how close they are standing, “to behave yourself at the wedding.”

“Absolutely,” Sherlock says, “yes.”

John does break away, then, and steps towards the door. Then the thing happens again that happened a moment ago: he sees something in Sherlock’s face, and reacts to it. For a second, it seems as though he will come back into Sherlock’s arms. But he contains himself with visible will.

Sherlock stands at the head of the stairs to watch John’s neat, compact figure descend. It seems possible that John could change his mind and come back up at any moment.

But he does not. By the time John has reached the front door, his figure has taken on the discreet, contained quality of his public body language. He buttons his overcoat, over the soft, navy serge jacket that Sherlock has just been enjoying crumpling in his hands. He leaves without looking back.

On balance, Sherlock thinks this went well. But he has absolutely no experience against which to calibrate his judgement. So really he has no idea.

He almost never has properly, properly no idea about something. It’s exhilarating.

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