[identity profile] tartancravat.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] tartanfics
Title: Stay awake, don’t rest your head
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Characters/Pairings: Sherlock, John
Rating: PG
Word count: 1,247
Disclaimer: This is a transformative work of the BBC’s Sherlock, which itself is a transformative work. Not making any money here.
Warnings: Sherlock is a bit of a creeper.
Notes: Written in one sitting. I don’t even know. And I borrowed the title from a Mary Poppins song. I really don’t know. Beta by [livejournal.com profile] miss_sabre. Also available in podfic form, read by [livejournal.com profile] evil_whimsey.
Summary: The first time John falls asleep on the sofa while Sherlock is in the room, he realises exactly why no one has ever trusted him enough to want to sleep in his presence.


No one has ever willingly slept in Sherlock's presence before.

In his brief stints at various public schools, if made to share a room with other boys he had strategically and systematically placed horrible things in all the other beds, or simply conducted a campaign of intimidation and subtle threats until the others had complained that they didn't feel safe unconscious in a room with Sherlock Holmes. If he was lucky, he would be given a private room. If he was less lucky he would be sent home, although he still considered that a successful conclusion to the experiment.

Sharing a room with Mycroft would have been unthinkable. They never slept on the ground beside each other in a tent in the woods, or in tangles of blankets on the living room floor. Sherlock was never invited to spend the night at others' houses, and he never invited them to his.

Sherlock has never really understood why "sleeping together" is a euphemism for sex, as he has never slept with anyone he has had sex with.

The first time John falls asleep on the sofa while Sherlock is in the room, he realises exactly why no one has ever trusted him enough to want to sleep in his presence.

John looks different in his sleep. He looks younger and softer and his mouth is slightly open. Sherlock thinks about all the things he could insert into John’s mouth or pour down his throat, in this moment. He wouldn’t do it, but he thinks about it. He thinks about the fact that he would have done it, cheerfully, had it been any of the many other people who could have fallen asleep in his presence.

It’s the first opportunity Sherlock has had to stare at John, without complaints, to really look at him and catalogue everything about him and consider the implications of it all. John’s shirt is riding up his stomach, and Sherlock can see a long thin scar just above his left hipbone, which he’s never seen before. He toes off his shoes, gets out of his chair, and tiptoes across the room, inching closer to John to get a better look at that scar. It must be several years old, Sherlock decides, thin like the point of a knife slipping in. He can’t decide how it might have happened, and now he’s this close to John he’s distracted. The novelty of having a person completely unaware for his perusal is overwhelming. Unaware without being dead, without the unnatural posture of rigor mortis, without any major holes in the body or signs of illness. And it’s John.

John’s body is never not interesting, Sherlock has come to realise.

Sherlock knows John is probably a light sleeper, after his time in Afghanistan. Sudden movement, a shadow might wake him, so Sherlock is careful not to stand in the way of the light, not to loom over John, to move slowly and carefully. He edges around to examine John’s hair, picking out the patterns in which John is going grey.

It’s so tempting to reach out and touch, so easy to forget that John is not a corpse to be handled and examined and cut open.

And at the same time, it is both confusing and wonderful that John is willing to place (misplace) so much trust in Sherlock. John is the first person to do that, and it would probably never occur to him that he is the first. John’s a bit stupid, isn’t he? Falling asleep with Sherlock there to see is obviously a bad idea, if Sherlock can’t help himself from looking, from--

Sherlock reaches out a hand and runs his finger down John’s cheekbone, not touching, just tracing the shape.

John’s eyes snap open.

Sherlock jerks back, letting out a ragged breath and realising that he’s probably spoiled it, that John will probably never do this again, not now he knows better, not now he knows what Sherlock is likely to do.

“Sherlock?” John’s voice is rough and deep. “What are you doing?” He pushes himself up on his elbows and looks around the room, as though there might be an explanation somewhere for why Sherlock is leaning over him, barely restraining the urge to touch.

Sherlock, mentally flailing for an explanation, has no idea what to say. “I--uh, you--you fell asleep.”

John grimaces. “I didn’t sleep well last night. Sorry, did you want the couch or something?”

“No, I--” This is mortifying. Sherlock has never felt so incoherent. “I just...”

“Were you looking at me?” John asks, and Sherlock feels the beginnings of true panic before John’s tone registers, before he sees the way the corners of John’s mouth slip upward in a sly, amused smile.

“I, uh--yes. I don’t often have the chance to, to look. And you looked so comfortable, as if you felt safe, and that seemed--strange.” Sherlock sits down at the coffee table and scrubs his hands through his hair

“Why, shouldn’t I feel safe? I hardly expect you to draw dicks on my face in permanent ink, or anything.”

Sherlock frowns. “Is that a thing people do?”

“Had to get our fun somewhere in the army.”

“Juvenile,” Sherlock mutters.

“Well, yeah. That’s why I didn’t expect you to do it. You haven’t, have you?”

“Of course not.”

“Right, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t fall asleep in the living room.”

“But I--”

“I don’t care if you want to look at me, Sherlock. I’m asleep, I won’t know any better anyways.”

“Er, yes. Thank you. I’ll just--”

Sherlock makes a strategic exit, locking himself in his bedroom. He spends a quarter of an hour pacing back and forth around his bed, analyzing the conversation, trying to parse John’s thoroughly unexpected reaction. He feels unbalanced and young and stupid, stupid, why chance John’s waking up like that? But John hadn’t objected, had told him he could look, had said he not only trusts Sherlock not to “draw dicks on my face” (what?), but had offered Sherlock the right to look, and that--

It’s new, is what it is.

Sherlock spends another quarter hour lying sideways across his bed, with his feet and his head hanging over the side, trying to regain some equilibrium. It would be stupid and embarrassing to keep hiding like this, though, obvious, so eventually he slides off the bed and goes back through the kitchen into the living room.

He doesn’t look at John, at first, trying to pretend he has things to do, some real work, but when he does, he is stunned.

John is asleep again. He caught Sherlock staring at him in his sleep, like some kind of stalker (which to be fair Sherlock sort of is, occasionally), and he didn’t care. He was so unbothered he went straight back to sleep.

Sherlock is, quite frankly, flabbergasted.

He doesn’t go near John this time, but he sits down on the far side of the table and opens his laptop, and then he looks at John some more, because not only does he have permission but John has suddenly become even more interesting. He looks and he looks, and the fact that John feels safe like this, is demonstrably so comfortable as to make himself so vulnerable, brings out a parallel feeling in Sherlock.

It’s weird. Sherlock feels like he’s choking. It’s wonderful.

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