Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John preslash
Warnings: asexual!Sherlock, pining
Word count: 1630
A/N: More late reposting! Written for verdant_fire in the summer 2014 round of holmestice who expressed interest in, among other things, asexuality, character-driven pieces and cuddles. Thus, this fic. Also, I apparently think that Sherlock's POV requires very long sentences. Available on AO3.
Summary: In which John is asleep and Sherlock would like to keep him.
John was asleep on Sherlock's shoulder.
He had been there for 43 minutes and 13 seconds, and showed no signs that he was going to be waking up any time soon.
Sherlock wasn't entirely sure what to do about this.
It was no wonder that John was asleep, despite the early hour. After five glorious days of missing husbands and suspicious gardeners - the last 38 hours of which had afforded no sleep for either of them - John had been well on his way to falling asleep on his feet even before he'd managed to get himself slightly stabbed while shoving Sherlock out of the path of a knife. The wound had been of negligible concern, in Sherlock's opinion; however, the paramedics had insisted that John go to the A and E. For some reason, John had agreed with them. Which had pointlessly prolonged John's sleep deprivation and ensured that there were enough painkillers in his bloodstream to make the fact that he was functioning on little food and no sleep even more apparent.
Add to that the fact that, as both a doctor and a soldier, John had developed the ability to sleep absolutely anywhere, and it was hardly a wonder that his 'few minutes of telly to see if we made the news again' had instead been a case of John dropping off nearly as soon as he'd sat down and sliding in slow increments towards the centre of the sofa until he had fetched up pressed against Sherlock's side, dead asleep.
So, no. Sherlock wasn't surprised that John had fallen asleep on his shoulder.
The disconcerting part of the situation was that Sherlock didn't quite know why John was still sleeping on his shoulder.
Sherlock had never had much use for touching people. Oh, it was masterfully useful when it came to convincing people to do what he wanted, but Sherlock wasn't so easily influenced by unhelpful biological impulses. Casual touching wasn't something that had ever needed to happen in Sherlock's daily life, and so it hadn't. But then there was John.
From all that Sherlock had observed about John's behaviour, John wasn't particularly prone to careless touch, either. Oh, he didn't avoid it, certainly, but he tended to hold on tightly to his very British sense of restraint, which often kept him very literally at arm's length.
The boundary of physical space between him and Sherlock, though, was a much narrower thing. It was also growing progressively smaller, as a matter of fact. Their fingers touched during the passing over of a cup of tea. Sherlock put a hand between John's shoulder blades to get him not to dawdle when interesting things were happening somewhere else. John yanked at Sherlock's ankle when he was sprawled lengthwise across the sofa and John wanted him to budge up so he could watch telly. Et cetera.
Sherlock had yet to determine whether this increase in physical contact was a typical phenomenon among flatmates or if it was specific to them. He did know that he wouldn't have suffered a flick on the ear when he was ignoring the fact that dinner was ready from anyone other than John (not that he tolerated it from John, either, but John's indulgently amused reaction the one and only time he'd done it suggested that Sherlock hadn't put paid to the idea quite as decisively as he'd intended to), so the fact that it was John clearly played a large part in this deviation in Sherlock's usual behaviour.
Sherlock looked down at John.
When he was awake, John tended to bear Sherlock's scrutiny with a good-natured exasperation that only lasted until he started feeling self-conscious and either left the room or told Sherlock to lay off already (and then left the room when Sherlock refused to stop, usually). The amount of time it took for John's discomfort to reach critical mass was contingent on the time of day, John's general mood and the intensity of Sherlock's attention, among other, smaller variables.
Now, however, there was no reason at all for Sherlock not to look. A sleeping John couldn't protest, after all.
"John," Sherlock tried, not loudly, but loudly enough for most situations. John didn't so much as twitch. Which meant that Sherlock could continue.
Sherlock could count every one of John's eyelashes. They were blonder than the slowly-graying hair on his head, and longer than their pale colouring made them appear. Their drape across John's cheek was delicate and fragile. So unlike the man himself.
Sherlock wanted to keep him.
Sherlock had no interest in a 'normal' relationship. Sex held no appeal for him and the majority of the motions people went through in the name of romance were ridiculous in the extreme. He doubted that there was, had been or would ever be a person in existence who could make Sherlock voluntarily subject himself to the inanities of a relationship. He'd rather spend a month locked in a jail cell with Anderson. Or Mycroft.
But this. This was different.
John was a limp, trusting warmth against Sherlock's side, boneless and only slightly heavier than he liked to believe he was. And Sherlock knew that John could come awake in an instant, could go from harmless slumber to the barely-leashed violence of a knife edge, but right now, in this moment, he was completely at Sherlock's mercy. Helpless.
There wasn't, Sherlock suspected, any other person who would willingly put themselves in that position. Just John. And, somehow, his oblivious, stupid, lovely John didn't realize what it meant that Sherlock not only allowed it but was willing to do everything in his power to keep John as close as possible.
It made Sherlock ache with something that felt not dissimilar to the moment when all of the clues were there and the answer was so close but he couldn't see it, not yet, for all of his trying.
Sherlock didn't even know what he wanted, sometimes, but he knew that he wanted it desperately. He wanted that trust and any other parts of John that he could take, beg or steal. He wanted things to stay the same and he also wanted them to be so much more.
Sherlock wanted cups of tea and giggling at crime scenes. He wanted arguments about whose turn it was to do the washing up (always John's) and rows about Sherlock running into danger when John wasn't there with him. He wanted evenings spent pressed against each other on the sofa, ridiculing John's terrible taste in films and, perhaps, nights spent in Sherlock's bed with John caged in his arms, right where Sherlock could keep an eye on him. He wanted violence and quiet and John.
Sherlock wanted to spread John out and spend hours cataloguing him: every puckered scar and roll of skin and tender vein. He had no interest in sexual gratification - his own or John's - but he wanted to see the faces that John made when Sherlock brought him to orgasm, wanted to hear John try to muffle his groans behind bitten lips, wanted to feel John from the outside and the inside, wanted to know what it was like to be the one to make John Watson come completely undone. And he wanted to know that John would let him.
Experimentally, Sherlock jostled John, just to watch his body roll bonelessly with the motion. It did so beautifully: limbs slack and heavy as a corpse's but warm and radiant with life. Sherlock enjoyed the contrast.
Although Sherlock hadn't necessarily intended the move to disturb, it still wasn't a surprise when John stirred, sluggish but immediate.
John's eyes drifted open. He blinked owlishly up at Sherlock and garbled out a sound that was a rough approximation of the letters in Sherlock's name in more or less the right order.
"Your shoulder is going to ache in the morning," Sherlock told him, because John sometimes needed reminding of these things. And he accused Sherlock of neglecting himself.
"Sherlock," John said again, clearer this time even though his eyes were still foggy with exhaustion, pain and good-quality painkillers. He shifted, obviously cataloguing his position and the resulting pains in his body from sleeping propped up against his flatmate. Sherlock expected him to pull away immediately, some knee-jerk derivative of his 'not gay' mantra coming out to play, and was surprised when John instead simply gave him a sleepy almost-smile and asked, "M'I cutting off your circulation?"
"Not yet," Sherlock said honestly.
"Good." John's eyes fluttered closed again, those damnably distracting eyelashes brushing Sherlock's neck when John nestled his head more comfortably into the join of Sherlock's neck and shoulder. Any remaining tension in John's limbs vanished as he sank even deeper against Sherlock's side with a sigh that was unmistakably contented. "Move me if I start to," he mumbled.
Sherlock didn't answer, not entirely sure what the appropriate response was in this situation.
Not that it appeared to matter to John. "Thanks," he said, with another fond smile, and went back to sleep almost immediately.
Which left Sherlock in exactly the same situation he'd been in for the past 66 minutes. After several moments' further deliberation, he decided not to be put out about that. They'd just finished a marvelous case and the itch in his blood for new stimulation hadn't started up again yet. Sherlock could stay on the sofa a while longer. He'd move John when he needed to.
And, in the meantime, he would consider the various merits of trying to convince John to accept this kind of closeness when he was awake versus the expediency of periodically drugging John and letting his hind brain get used to the idea before trying it when he was sober.
On second thought, perhaps he'd do both.