Original Story Title: Love means never having to say you’re sorry
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/243272
Original Story Pairings: Sherlock/John
Original Story Rating: Teen and up
Original Story Warnings: none
Remix Story Title: Never?
Remix Author: unovis
Remix Beta: carenejeans
Remix Britpicker: Jay Tryfanstone
Remix Story Pairings: Sherlock/John
Remix Story Rating: R
Remix Story Warnings: none
On his back, feet under the sofa. This wasn’t what John had had in mind at all.
Sherlock Holmes, gorgeous, fascinating, brilliant, and declaredly in love with John Watson.
Sherlock Holmes, reluctance denied, love reciprocated, persuaded to grow old together with his John.
Sherlock Holmes, worst lover in the history of hyperbole.
How to not, how to no, now. How to extricate himself from this, this terrible idea, this unworking situation, without paining Sherlock and without spending a lifetime in abasement and apology to him, to the mirror, oh hell to Mrs. Hudson, to Mycroft. To the smirking Met, and to Lestrade, who so help him God, had delivered the hurt-him-and-I’ll-punch-you, Mate, speech, though they were all three sheets to the wind at Donovan’s engagement party and possibly, possibly, Lestrade had confused him with someone else. Anyone else. There was Sherlock’s own prediction of murder and ruin, which John would rather avoid.
The sex was, well the sex was, when he could get it when he wanted it, the sex was tolerable. Fine, it was fine. Killing once or twice. Awkwardly timed, most often, because Sherlock, Sherlock, had no concept of public, private, not now, not here, not here either, not with that, not now, why not now, not done yet! and sulked at correction. He was impervious to suggestion when his interest lay elsewhere, and ridiculed John without irony for his lack of self control. Kissing was good, kissing was so good that Sherlock had discovered its leverage power and had no scruples about using it. John could not tell if the reverse were true--there were no equivalents in this, no equal tradeoffs at all; they attacked each other, they defended themselves from each other, they tried like hell, John tried like hell to find a refuge from each other, and that was their life. With half-arsed meals and the violin and sulks and crimes and danger and Sherlock’s raging fits of boredom and disgusting experiments and fitful sleep and continual inconsiderateness and insults and John’s blog for revision of it all to himself and the world without.
John didn’t want to leave. He was fond of Sherlock, under all, when he wasn’t being a dick. He didn’t want this vital partnership to altogether end, he thought, flat on his back, feet under the sofa, shirt up around his neck, sticky, scratched, and suddenly alone, with the sound of Sherlock’s shoes pounding down the stairs. His hair was mysteriously damp and a bone of uncertain provenance was visible from this angle under the bookcase. They shared a giggle now and then, he allowed, pulling down his shirt, a glance of mutual something over a corpse or the head of a client, he admitted, hauling his jeans up from his knees. They had Mrs. Hudson. They had each other, though John thought possibly Sherlock had more of him than he had of Sherlock. Sherlock consumed his days and nights and every private shred of his being, even the boring, idiotic bits. He had no idea what all that or he in total meant to Sherlock. Something, as neither of them had left. Sherlock had hurled himself into carnality, once it was permitted, as spasmodically as he conducted his other enthusiasms. That, and John’s loss of sovereignty over his own bed were the primary identifiable changes in their situation. So, was it still so different, so much worse?
It was. Growing old together, Christ. Were they there, yet? Something, he meant to Sherlock. Love had not been mentioned since that first choked confession. John would not bring it up again for the world.
Be specific, he heard Sherlock hiss in his head, as he crab-crawled to a space next to his chair, from which he could stand. Think it through. Extract, isolate, those elements of their whatever they were in, that made this so much less tolerable than daily life had been before. And then eliminate them? Eliminate himself?
Tea in his hair. Could have been worse. The sex, John thought, stripping off his lone sock by standing on its baggy toe and pulling back his foot, they might could discuss. Negotiate. Work on signals; it was new, after all, and how new for Sherlock he had no idea. It was renewed for him. It was unsettling. Perhaps a moratorium, to remove it from the equation. See if they got on better. See if they missed it, either of them. John could not say with any certainty how much it mattered to Sherlock, whether or not it had been classified with eating or sleeping as another tiresome bodily necessity. Or for John-maintenance (was that a warming or cooling notion?) or as some parallel to the funds haphazardly deposited in John’s bank account.
Was it that things hadn’t changed? Were there expectations John had that were unmet? That stopped him, on his way upstairs to shower, sock in hand (the other had vanished; John had the worrying impression it was up Sherlock’s trouser leg). He’d heard, that one time, also never repeated, what Sherlock believed love to be. And John had answered, it’s birthdays and being together. And they’d left it there and kissed for a bit and hugged and gone off to their separate beds, and because of one thing and another coming up, only getting to the sex in fits and starts the following week. Warm and astonished he felt for a while, and pleased, but the feeling faded quickly. He didn’t have it now. Proprietary, he supposed he felt for longer. Talking to Sherlock about cigarettes and cocaine, about feeding and money and walking into traffic, though they’d had those conversations and arguments and John’s ultimatums Before. What had he been thinking? What had he expected? And why...
“John!” shouted Sherlock, banging through the flat door. “You missed it!”
“Peters, nearly on our doorstep. Idiots!” He clutched his trousers front with one hand and held the other out, stepping over shoes and books toward John; his eyes were bright, his cheeks were pink, his lips curved in glee.
“Are you bleeding? What the hell have you done?” John turned on the steps and grabbed him by the wrist. The fabric underneath was ripped and yes, that was blood seeping through.
“Cat. Might have smelled you, should check; irrelevant. You should have come.”
“Come up, I’ll look at it,” sighed John. “Do you have my sock?”
Sherlock grinned, grinned at him. “Ask Lestrade.” He pulled John down into a kiss, sweet, sweet and hot, damn it. John’s knees buckled. He sat back on the step, Sherlock folding onto his lap.
“We have to talk,” he gasped. Sherlock laughed and kissed him again, his mouth, his jaw, his throat, his neck, smearing blood on his shirt.
“Ruin and murder!” muttered Sherlock, below his ear.
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