Sherlock exhaled slowly, and John had a moment to breathe him in before there was a light touch against his lips. The sensation made him freeze and he felt a brief, sharp urge to pull away, to reassert control as he had before.
But this time there wasn't anything else between them. No arguments, no former lovers. Sherlock's lips were soft, almost not there, as if waiting for John to answer – so he did. He moved his lips slightly, tilting his head without thinking, and felt Sherlock deepen the kiss. Nothing more than a minute increase in pressure, a shift that fit them closer together.
He'd forgotten what it felt like – and it was different than kissing a woman in ways John couldn't describe but that he wanted to catalogue and store so he wouldn't ever forget because it still didn't seem real. It still didn't seem possible that Sherlock was there, kissing him, and he was kissing back, and he wasn't dreaming. He wanted to remember this always and he wanted to forget about the complications – Sherlock's job, the fact that Sherlock was his boss, the debt, all of it. They weren't important. They could sort that out. But not right now.
For now, he let his hand come up to trace the line of Sherlock's jaw, to weave into the dark curls on the back of his head, to tug lightly on the smooth strands of hair. He felt Sherlock sigh indulgently against him and felt those warm lips part slightly. John let his hand slide down to the back of Sherlock's neck, thumb rubbing up and down along the line of his vertebrae, and tugged lightly on Sherlock's bottom lip, sucking, not biting, running his tongue along the smooth inner surface. Sherlock pressed closer, opening his mouth more, and John felt the tip of his tongue touching his, almost questioningly, retreating before darting out again. John met it this time and swallowed the quiet gasp that seemed to stick in his throat, sending small shocks down his arms, down his legs.
He pulled Sherlock even closer, felt his nose dig into partner's cheek, sucked in a deep breath as he slid his tongue over Sherlock's, then along the backs of his teeth before returning, savouring that intense, heady taste that was Sherlock alone, not just the wine, not just the meal, but him.
Oh god, John thought and then Sherlock's hands were on his face, fingers splayed, holding him tightly, kissing hard. John responded with equal fervour, wanting to be closer than he was, crushing those ridiculously sensual lips against his own. He tugged on Sherlock's bottom lip again, with teeth this time, nipping and drawing it into his own mouth until he caught a moan and felt it shudder down his spine. He bit harder, twisting slightly, not quite shy of leaving a mark. He wanted Sherlock to have his own marks, to look at him and know who had left them. To have everyone else know, too. The sudden possessiveness made him shiver.
He pulled away, breathing hard, and met Sherlock's darkened eyes. John shifted, brushing his nose against Sherlock's, kissed him lightly. Sherlock met his lips and then turned away, tracing a light path along John's jaw. John's eyes fell shut and he tipped his head back, giving his partner better access. Sherlock's breath ghosted across his skin, followed by feathered kisses so light they were barely there, drawing up goose bumps. John shifted against Sherlock so he could shuffle down to lean comfortably on the armrest, head pushed back as far as it could go. He felt Sherlock's weight sink down on him and snapped his eyes open with a gasp as the sensation shot straight to his groin. Without thinking, John spread his legs and Sherlock settled between them, letting John pin him loosely. He groaned, running his hands up Sherlock's back, silk slipping under his fingers. He could feel Sherlock starting to harden against him and the sensation was so shocking after so long that John arched up, hands dropping to Sherlock's arse as he thrust against him.
Sherlock moaned and dropped his head, forehead pressing against John's jaw. John gasped, feeling Sherlock's harsh breathing on his neck as he struggled to regain his composure. He settled his hands on Sherlock's waist, inhaling deeply. He closed his eyes and held his breath, exhaling when he felt Sherlock's lips on his skin again, tracing downward, fingertips ghosting in their wake. John let his eyes fall closed again, focusing on the sensation, relaxing his legs. The buttons of his shirt slipped free of the fabric and John felt a flush of cool air against his skin the moment before Sherlock's warm lips brushed over it. He arched his head to the side, sighing, dragging one foot down the back of Sherlock's leg, then chuckled when he realised he was still wearing his shoes. He managed to toe them off, feeling a smile against his skin.
Sherlock's hands made quick work of his shirt, slipping it open, his hands brushing over John's skin, up his sides, to his shoulders where he pushed the fabric aside as much as he could. John felt a sudden hesitation and raised his head quickly, swallowing hard. Sherlock's nose was almost touching his scar, his breath warming the damaged skin. John shuffled his legs, trying to get some purchase, and Sherlock raised his head, meeting his eyes in the soft lamp light.
John felt his lips part slightly then forced them tight together, feeling himself pull away without moving. Sherlock kept watching him, eyes calm and locked with John's, waiting. John found himself matching his breathing to his partner's, relaxing slowly. He exhaled a deep breath and gave a slight nod. Sherlock kept his gaze on John's, kept still.
"Let me," he whispered.
John nodded, licking his lips.
"Let me," Sherlock whispered again.
"Yeah," John whispered in reply. Sherlock kissed him lightly and John raised his head to follow the touch, feeling Sherlock's fingers skim over the scar. He closed his eyes as Sherlock drew his lips away, trying to focus on the sensation alone, trying to appreciate it rather than reject it outright.
No one else but the doctors and nurses had ever touched the scar. Their touch had been professional and removed – out of necessity only. He had touched it himself, of course; checked for sensation, washing it in the shower, accidentally brushing it as he dressed. At first it had been difficult, made him shudder, made him cringe. Then it had become more routine but he had still never adjusted to it, not fully.
Sherlock's lips grazed the scar and John tensed but forced himself to relax again. For a moment, it was no more than the light kiss of then John felt the tip of Sherlock's tongue tracing the edges before flattening into a broad stroke.
John gasped, shocked at the bite of desire that coiled in his groin. He closed his eyes, moaning as Sherlock licked the scar again then kissed it, drawing away. John bit his lip, lacing his fingers into Sherlock's hair, tugging lightly, trying to bring him back up for another kiss but Sherlock resisted, moving downward, lips tracing across bare skin until John felt that tongue dart out again, flicking over his left nipple.
He gasped and moaned sharply, arching into the contact, and felt Sherlock's chuckle vibrate through him. John snapped his eyes open and found his footing, pushing up off the couch when Sherlock latched on with his teeth, one hand skimming across John's chest to the other one, pinching and tugging out of time with his mouth.
"Oh, god," John managed, voice hoarse. Sherlock's free hand trailed downward and John shuddered as his partner palmed him through the fabric of his trousers. He felt the button his pants slide free and jerked, grabbing Sherlock's hand, resisting the urge to press it against his growing erection and rub hard.
"No," he said, forcing the word through reluctant lips. Sherlock's mouth paused on his nipple and John groaned at the loss of sensation, feeling it like a physical shock. The muscles along his spine tensed, wanting to arch again, but he kept himself where he was.
"No," he repeated and Sherlock raised his head, that skilled tongue and those soft lips leaving his skin, making him cold.
John managed to raise his head, breathing hard.
"Not tonight," he said. "I want to wait."
"Why?" Sherlock growled and the sound almost undid John, shuddering through him. He tightened his hand in Sherlock's hair, giving himself something to focus on.
"We have time," John said. "It doesn't have to be all right now."
"There's no reason to wait," Sherlock replied. His tone made John's lips twitch – it was reasonable, rational.
"I have reasons."
"But you don't want to," Sherlock said, his fingers twitching and John's hand tightened over them as well.
"Yes and no," John admitted.
"Then pick yes," Sherlock murmured, dropping his head again, tongue flickering. John bit his lip hard, tugging on Sherlock's hair. Sherlock raised his head again and John saw the genuine puzzlement behind the mild irritation in his eyes.
How many people have really ever said no to him? he wondered. How many times has he ever been denied? Not turned down, but told to slow down?
He was willing to bet that it had never happened.
"I don't–" John started, then licked his lips, seeing Sherlock follow the movement. "I don't want what the others wanted. I'm not your lover, Sherlock. I'm your partner. You're the one who's so keen on that distinction."
"You do want this, John," Sherlock murmured, fingers flexing again, only lightly, but enough for John to feel it. He managed to nod, a shaky, jerky gesture.
"Yes, but I want to wait, too. I mean– Christ, I want you, you have no idea."
"I think I might," Sherlock murmured, dropping his head again, lips trailing over John's skin.
John gritted his teeth.
"You can't always get what you want. Not with me. Not in a relationship like this."
He felt the answering huff against his skin.
"We both want it."
"And I'm asking you to wait," John replied. "I'm asking you to do this for me. It's been fifteen years, Sherlock. And that ended – badly. I want– We have time. Please."
Sherlock met his eyes again. He was quiet for a long moment and John held the silence between them as long as he could.
"I'm not saying no," John said carefully. "I'm saying not yet."
There was another drawn out pause then Sherlock nodded reluctantly, disappointed, and began to draw away. John's hand tightened in his hair again and he wound the other one quickly around Sherlock's back, pulling his closer.
"No," John murmured. "It's not all or nothing."
Sherlock hesitated a moment then a slow smile spread across his lips. John raised his head just as Sherlock dropped his to meet him in another fierce kiss.
Irene always did enjoy visiting Edinburgh.
It wasn't particularly rare that she received an invitation and she made a point of going on a semi-regular basis so as to alleviate any suspicions on Jim Moriarty's part. She ensured she always packed her supplies regardless of whether or not she was visiting a client – she had fewer clients now since she'd retired from the theatre world, but that was by choice. Her work for Sherlock kept her respectably busy but he had no issue with her continued self-employment so long as it did not interfere with his business.
Often enough, it provided information that he found particularly useful. He was not a man to be picky about how such information was obtained. Irene was certain he'd resorted to the same sort of tactics himself although he was somewhat less… liberal in his choice of unwitting informants.
Her client this time was one of her old favourites – intelligent, attractive, always engaging. Irene looked forward to each encounter as soon as it was arranged. She enjoyed the variety, the challenge. She never knew precisely what to expect with this one, and it always sent a small thrill through her.
She was greeted with a warm smile as she stepped out of the lift and into the penthouse flat. Irene returned it with a genuine smile of her own, exchanging light kisses on each cheek.
"Irene, so good to see you."
"Angela," Irene replied. "A pleasure, as always."
"You look ravishing."
"Don't I always?"
"You do. Alexander does well by you, doesn't he?"
"We muddle through, he and I," Irene agreed. "You look absolutely radiant. Pregnancy suits you."
"So kind of you to lie," Angela replied easily and Irene's lips stretched into a smile. "Wine? I can't have any myself but I have several wonderful bottles of red from France that have been cellared long enough."
"Please," Irene agreed, shedding her coat and draping it gracefully over the back of a chair as she followed her host through the sitting room and into the kitchen, two sets of high heeled shoes ringing on the Italian tile.
"Do you miss the wine?" she asked as Angela filled a glass with Irene's choice, the dark red liquid catching the light and gleaming.
"I do but these are the sacrifices we make. In the end, it's not such a long time and this one will be the last."
"And what does David think?"
"He has a calendar in his room on which he is marking off the days as they go by. He's quite excited."
"Is he here?" Irene enquired. That would be… unusual.
"No," Angela replied. "He's in London, with his father. I thought it best I come up here alone. Mycroft prefers to turn a blind eye to our meetings."
"Shame," Irene murmured. "He'd enjoy them so much, I think. He must have interesting tastes. A man like that? Such a polished exterior. There's always something hidden underneath."
"Many things," Angela murmured, leading Irene back into the sitting room and sinking gracefully onto the sofa. "But our little rendezvous? He'd rather not know. I do respect that. He's very generous, after all. I should think very few partners are quite so understanding."
"You'd be surprised," Irene replied.
"Besides," Angela said, waving a hand lightly, ignoring her comment. "Having a man around would really spoil the whole thing, wouldn't it?"
Irene crossed one leg over the other at the knee and sipped her wine.
"Indeed it would," she agreed. In a world where she dealt largely with men, it was a rare thing to have a friendship with another woman as intelligent and well connected as she was. It was nice to be able to relax and unwind and – yes – even to trust someone else without the constant sensation that she was being evaluated, even unconsciously, based on the shape of her body. She knew Sherlock wouldn't think of that, nor any of the other lieutenants, but the tone was still different here.
Our version of a girls' night out, she thought and smiled as she sipped her wine.
"His dilemma, of course, is that he can't trust the Secret Service yet he trusts me."
"You do spy on people for a living, as he's said."
"And he's right. Only not on him. What would be the point? I can get any information I want from him in other ways."
Irene arched an eyebrow.
"Generally by asking," Angela added. "Of course it would be remiss of me, as a Secret Service agent, to be speaking to a suspected international criminal."
"Which is why Sherlock's not here."
"I've spoken to him already," Angela replied. "Although not about this. I suspect Jim Moriarty is very much on edge with Sherlock at the moment – did you hear about the jade hair pin that sold for nine million pounds?"
"I did," Irene murmured. "Do you know, he offered it to me first?"
"Did he?" Angela said with genuine surprise. "Well, he must like you."
"I think we have a certain mutual fondness, yes," Irene admitted.
"Yes," Angela murmured. She paused, then smiled. "So you know about the Chinese smugglers then?"
"Of course," Irene replied.
"Would you like to know about the smugglers moving weapons out of Glasgow?"
A/N: There is art for the kiss here: tinyurl 7nrb2by and here: tinyurl 7nqzhqt by the ever lovely double-negative means yes on tumblr!