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John’s home. Sherlock looked up from where he was poking at some white, ashy precipitate with the end of a stirrer. He could hear the key in the door.

All in a flurry he stripped off his goggles and dove for the sofa. Wouldn’t do for John to know he’d gotten on with his sulk in the intervening two days. Had to make this look genuine. The anger was still there, so the sulk was still valid.

“Sherlock,” John called up the stairs. “Wash your hands. I brought chicken par—” Sherlock heard him stop at the entranceway to the flat, and there was the sound of bags hitting the floor. Garment bag, hold-all, and something in a plastic shopping bag. Probably shoes. John made a choking noise for a few moments before he spoke.

“Jesus WEPT, Sherlock.” He took a step into the room, then started picking his way around the piles of paper and debris until he reached the window don’t step on my bow then turned and headed toward the kitchen. He stopped dead and made that choking noise again. It was familiar, and it caused a burning sensation of fondness deep in the pit of Sherlock’s stomach.

“Sherlock. What is— What— WHAT.” Presumably he’s talking about the black, tarry substance glazing the table and congealing in stalagmites on the floor. Really not positive what had happened there. Might be a problem. Eventually. “What is THAT.”

Well. This is going to be tedious. “I had a—”

“What IS that, Sherlock?!” John turned moved toward Sherlock. “What the hell happened here? I was only gone two days.”

Two monstrous, echoing, painfully-dull days.

“Look at this place. LOOK! With your magical, special, detecting skills, Sherlock. Roll your arse over and really, really look. Did you consider that I live here too? At all?”

Obviously.

“Because it doesn’t look it. In fact—” John swallowed. Sherlock could feel him dig in, feel him push out his lips and and widen his stance. It was like an oncoming wreck; he knew he’d caused it, but he couldn’t help laying still and listening to it fall out anyway. John continued, his voice lower, slower, so angry he was calm, and Sherlock took very little pleasure in being right. “In fact, Sherlock, it looks like you’ve completely forgotten I live here at all. Did you think I wouldn’t care? What the hell have you been doing? It smells of burnt tyres in here.”

Sherlock waited for a few minutes to see if it was a rhetorical question. When it seemed no answer was forthcoming, he rolled over to look at John. He was staring at him, jaw set. Their eyes locked for a good half a minute before Sherlock rolled off the sofa and stood, squaring his posture and lifting his chin. He suspected the desired effect of intimidation was largely lost by the dressing gown slipping off his shoulders. “Look.” He gestured to the flat. “Isn’t it obvious?”

Fire flared in John’s eyes. “You want me to, what. Deduce? What you’ve done to completely trash the flat?!”

Clearly the wrong tactic. “Do you want me to tell you instead?”

But John sagged. He took a deep breath, deflated. “Forget it, Sherlock. I’m too tired for this. I don’t care.” He carefully traversed the lounge again and stopped at the door to the stairwell. “I don’t want to hear it.”

“Where are you going?” Sherlock asked with more panic in his voice than he liked. You can’t go out for air now. You’ve only just got back.

“I’m sleeping upstairs tonight.” John looked around wearily. “Lord only knows what you’ve done to our bedroom. I’m exhausted and I’m angry and—” He blew out a breath. “And I need a shower.”

Well, that’s true. Someone must have been sick on the train compartment, because you stink of cleaning products. And the ginger beer. And the ham and mustard from your lunch. You’re wearing your entire day like cologne.

John scooped up his holdall, put one foot on the staircase and turned sideways, not looking at him. “I don’t know what you were planning tonight, but don’t bother coming upstairs.” He started up. “Just don’t.”

Sherlock watched John trudge up the stairs and listened to him enter his old room and shut the door. He followed John’s progress across his room through a familiar series of creaks, and then slunk over to the sofa. He threw himself down upon it to listen.

Bag on the floor, creak of bedsprings. Clunk of left shoe, then right. More bedsprings. He’s probably rubbing his hands over his face, since he’s tired. Up and over to the en suite, likely to piss and then shower. …Yes, toilet, the thump of belt on tile, and…wait. Brief burst of the tap…Ah. Cleaning his teeth first. And there’s the shower, sooner than expected. Must be more impatient to sleep than I thought.

Sherlock blew out a breath and crossed his arms. At least this was something interesting. He counted down in his head the usual amount of time John took to wash himself and his hair, and then cocked his head, listening with interest for any tell-tale rhythmic splashing. But the shower turned off, and John stepped out to dry himself. He hit the usual squeaky floorboards on the way to…no, he wasn’t stopping to pull clothes out of his bag. Sherlock’s heart beat a little faster. Sleeping in the nude?

The bedsprings creaked again, and there was a groaning shift as John got into bed. Sherlock wriggled and settled his shoulders further into the sofa. Shall I read? Sleep? Maybe pour some solvent on the residue in the kitchen with the hope it will scrub off in the morning… He expected the sounds of John settling to sleep upstairs, but instead of the sporadic creaks of a body tossing and turning, there was silence. Sherlock sighed as his mind wandered. _If I’m not sleeping tonight maybe I should do a write-up on the breakdown of the—"

A loud vibration buzzed down the legs of John’s bedside table and through the floorboards. It ended quickly, but if Sherlock strained his ears he fancied he could still hear the whine. All the breath left his lungs in a rush.

No. Oh. Sherlock listened, jaw dropping open, suddenly positive that in the room above him John was using a vibrator.

The memory struck him all at once, stealing his breath with shock: “Don’t test me. Next time I’m buying a vibrator and an extra-large bottle of lube and I’m closing myself upstairs with it. You can listen to the buzz all night, and try to deduce what I’m doing without having any for yourself.”

The images flooded Sherlock’s mind, clambering over each other for precedence.

John, running the vibrator slowly up and down the underside of his cock, jaw agape and chest heaving as tried to get enough oxygen. His knees flexed over and over as he dug in his heels and rucked up the duvet. He fought to keep himself in check, to see how aroused he could get before moving on to more stimulation, then trailed his fingertips up the centre of his chest, pinching at his nipple, holding himself back, holding himself back…

John, on his back with his legs spread wide, running the slick fingertips of his left hand across his lower belly and over his thighs as gooseflesh pricked all up and down his limbs. He held the end of the vibrator to his frenulum and slid one finger down, down between his legs, and pushed it slowly in against the resistance. He then slipped it out and circled again, just how Sherlock has always liked it, then pushed back in. He left his finger inside, quietly, just there, and ran the vibrator up and down his cock again, twitching round his finger each time he reached the head, shuddering with too much stimulation all at once…

John, overloaded with arousal, twitching against his pillows because the slicked-up vibrator was caught by his tightly-crossed legs and pressed unrelentingly against his perineum and his balls and his anus. He teased himself with his fingertips, one hand rubbing pre-come round the head of his cock, the other flicking gently at one hardened nipple until it was nearly numb…

A quiet groan from upstairs brought Sherlock back to reality, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood. A week. We haven’t had sex in a week. He dug his fingertips into the back of the sofa. Between a case and the wedding, there just hadn’t been time. Suddenly, Sherlock was feeling the full weight of it sparking warmly in the base of his groin.

A distraction. Yes. Sherlock rolled off the sofa and picked his way back to the kitchen table. He started noisily stacking petri dishes. The excess of clattering was satisfying, but one bumped a beaker and it slipped to the floor. Shit. Upstairs, John rolled over in bed. Sherlock gritted his teeth and tried his best to tune it out as he went for the dustbin.

Damn the man. He could make all the noise he liked, but he wasn’t going to win.

Sherlock was almost finished cleaning up the broken glass, lulled into a false sense of serenity, when his mental barrier was pierced by a long, low moan from upstairs. His knuckles tightened around the handle of the dustpan. Go upstairs? No. Not likely to yield a positive reception.

He growled and stood in an explosive movement, abandoning the pan full of broken glass beneath the kitchen table and making his way toward the windows at the front of the flat. The violin was within easy reach, and in a moment its sound was drowning out the hideous noise coming through the ceiling.

Mostly.

To calm himself Sherlock sawed away at a version of Bolero transposed into Phrygian mode. Over it all, however, he still could hear the creak of John’s bedsprings and the quiet, stifled sounds of his pleasure. It rushed Sherlock’s blood southward, and he rolled his eyes at himself. Oh honestly. He kept playing, ignoring his body, but soon certain key images flashed up in his mind’s eye.

Sherlock, leaning over John, kissing him while plunging the vibrator into his body over and over, swallowing his moans.

Sherlock, holding the tip of the vibrator up against John’s prostate, biting his nipple between his incisors while grinning at the sound of John screaming to bring the roof down.

Sherlock, swallowing John down as he shuddered, groaned, and came into Sherlock’s mouth.

They were dull imaginings, if he were being completely truthful with himself. Prosaic. Pleasant, but not anything to write home about. But they were remarkably compelling nonetheless. His cock filled.

John’s mouth, soft against his. His face captured between John’s palms, John’s neat, narrow-tipped fingers stroking just in front of Sherlock’s ears as they kissed…and kissed…and kissed… John whispering to him, their lips brushing on every syllable. “I missed you.”

Sherlock’s heart thudded, and his bow hand slowed. Damn him to hell.

He dumped the instrument on the table and flipped on the television. More distraction. Something loud and annoying. Something to get underneath my skin. Something to replace the crawling, insistent knowledge of what John was doing upstairs. Substitute one irritant with another.

There was nothing on.

No QI, no Top Gear. Not even Jeremy Sodding Kyle. The only thing that held any promise whatsoever was a documentary on the lifecycle of the rhinoceros, but the soundtrack was overlaid with the steady and increasingly-loud sound of John crying out upstairs. Then Attenborough’s voice broke in to describe the manner in which the male penetrated its mate. Fuck. 

Sherlock snapped. He snuck up the stairs as quietly as possible, his bare feet making barely a sound on the gritty boards.

The door was closed. Pressing his ear to it only made the noises louder and only made Sherlock’s heart race. There was no buzzing noise, but there wouldn’t be, would there? If it were oh holy hell if it were inside of John then the noises would be muffled, wouldn’t they? Sherlock could have sworn he’d heard a whining noise downstairs. Probably your imagination. Idiot.

John had quieted down, mostly. He was still moaning quietly on every exhale. Doesn’t sound like he’s come. But any number of factors are different. Sherlock just didn’t have the data.

When John suddenly wailed out a quavering, “oh god” Sherlock pushed into the room. And stopped dead.

John was sitting on his bed, fully-clothed, reading a magazine and waving the vibrator around like a magic wand. When he reached the end of a line he looked up casually. “Hello,” he said.

Sherlock blinked. “What.”

“What song were you playing downstairs?”

Sherlock opened his mouth, then shut it. What.

“It was definitely interesting, whatever it was.”

“John. I thought. How did.”

John gave him a placid smile. “You wouldn’t believe how exciting this article is.”

I don’t understand. “It was all a bluff?”

“Intensely exciting.”

“John.”

An evil, smart-arsed smile stretched across John’s face. “What did you think what going on up here?”

“You said—” Sherlock barely stopped himself stomping back downstairs and never talking to John again. “You said that you were going to…” Damn him. “You said you would use the vibrator without me if I annoyed you.”

“If you were a brat just to get my attention.”

“That’s not what I did.”

“Yes you did.” Well. Yes I did. “But technically, I didn’t use the vibrator. Not unless you count using it to frustrate you.”

“You tricked me.”

“I really did.”

Sherlock scowled. “Ridiculous.”

“What’s ridiculous,” John said as he stood, dumping the magazine and vibrator to the side, “is a grown man in a childish strop because he couldn’t deal with the result of his own decision.”

But. “You left, John.”

“You knew I would.”

“You should have stayed.”

“I had an obligation.”

Unfortunately true. Sherlock frowned and threw himself face-first onto the bed. 

Behind him, John spoke. “You could have come with.”

“Dull.”

“You could have stayed in the hotel room,” he continued, his voice moving closer to Sherlock. “If you didn’t want to deal with the wedding, you could have just stayed in the room and waited for me to come back.”

Really. Sherlock turned his head and opened one eye to peer at John. He’s not really as angry as I thought he’d be. He missed me too. “You never mentioned that.”

“I didn’t think you’d trash the flat.”

“Foolish.”

John tried not to smile, but it was a ridiculously poor effort. “No doubt.”

Sherlock buried his face in the pillow. It smelled dusty and unused. The mattress dipped under John’s weight and his fingers combed through Sherlock’s hair. “Look at me, you overgrown toddler.”

Sherlock ignored him.

“I said, look at me.” John’s voice was steel and it cut straight to Sherlock’s gut. When Sherlock had swallowed down his stomach again, he rolled over and looked at the firm line of John’s mouth and the coldness in his gaze. Oh. Sherlock revised his hypothesis. Well. He might be a little angry.

“Roll over.”

Sherlock clenched his jaw and scooted over onto his back.

“Take out your cock.”

Oh god yes. Sherlock opened his trousers and reached through the placket of his boxer briefs to pull out his cock, still half-hard and getting harder with each passing second. He looked up at John, waiting.

John tilted his head to stare down at his groin. “That’s not nearly the reaction I expected after…what has it been, a week?”

“What did you expect?”

After a moment, John’s gaze flicked up to meet his eyes. “I expected you to be hard as a rock.”

I nearly was. “I can control my transport.”

“Oh, I know you can.” John’s mouth curled.

“You’re going to demand a demonstration.”

Absolutely.” John stepped sideways to be more within Sherlock’s sight-line. He started taking off his jumper.

“What are you doing?” Sherlock said, but was inwardly pleased at the sight. Excellent. John ignored him, stripping off both shirts and going to work on his flies.

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

Sherlock watched John drop his trousers and pants and step out of them to stand perfectly naked. He was flaccid, and Sherlock’s hands itched. “Should I…”

“You should put your hands on the mattress and not move.”

Don’t gulp. Don’t swallow. Don’t even inhale. Sherlock placed both hands next to his hips.

John started playing with himself, letting his gaze roam from Sherlock’s bare feet, up his black trousers, over his white shirt and his dressing gown, then back to his cock, as if Sherlock were only there for him to look at. John pinched his nipple with his right hand and rolled his balls with the other.

“Why did you ruin the house?” he asked.

“Oh, I can talk now?” said Sherlock. John stroked himself, still soft, but the look he gave Sherlock was hard and cold. Damn. “You know why I did it.”

“To get a rise out if me.” John touched himself while he waited. Stroke. Stroke.  “Did it? Was it satisfactory?” Depends.

“You left.”

“You had adequate warning, Sherlock. And an invitation.”

“Boring.”

“Weddings? Yes, so you’ve said.”

No. Being here. Without you.

“Would you rather I punished you in some way?”

“Wasn’t that what that ridiculous stunt with the vibrator was supposed to prove?” Sherlock asked, pushing buttons with glee.

John’s eyes narrowed. Still, he pulled at himself. “Take off your trousers.”

“What?”

“I’m fairly certain I didn’t stammer,” he said coldly.

Sherlock swallowed and blinked. He pushed down his trousers and kicked them off.

“And the pants.” As Sherlock pulled them down as well, John added, “And your shirt.”

When Sherlock settled back on the bed, he fought a shiver and glanced at John. He was running his fingertips neat, precise over the head of his cock, and Sherlock could feel it mirrored on his own. It was painfully arousing. Sherlock’s hand was halfway to touching himself before John stopped him.

“Don’t you dare,” John said. “Hands on the bed.”

Slowly, Sherlock placed his hands at his sides and stared at John, waiting, feeling his breath speed with anticipation.

“Spread your legs.”

As Sherlock did so, John reached into the bedside table and pulled out a bottle of lube.

“What was that doing in there?” Sherlock asked. His voice sounded thick.

“The same thing the vibrator was doing,” John said. “Waiting.”

“Waiting?”

“It was only a matter of time.”

Sherlock’s mouth was dry. John handed him the bottle and the vibrator. “And I’m meant to use these, am I?” Sherlock said.

“Prepare yourself, turn it on, use it.” John stepped back to watch.

Sherlock did so, too sidetracked by the way his heart pounded up into his throat to pay more than passing attention to either his fingers or the slick plastic vibrator. He stared at John once it was seated, trying not to squirm.

“Turn it on,” John said. He licked his lips. The head of his cock was flushed dark, now, shiny and hard, teased by his fingertips. Slick and smooth in my mouth. Tease the foreskin with my tongue, taste the slit…

No. Focus. Sherlock reached down and pressed the button to flip on the vibrator. A sudden thrill buzzed through him: low, heady, almost imperceptible but for the way it made everything below his waist fill with steady arousal. Oh god. This is going to be hell.

I can’t wait.

Sherlock sighed, and the sound made the corner of John’s mouth quirk. He plucked up the desk chair and set it down facing the bed, then grabbed the bottle of lubricant from Sherlock’s stomach and poured some into his hand. He dropped the bottle onto the bedside table and rubbed both hands together, then slicked up his entire groin so his balls and his cock shone in the low light of the lamp. His breath flared his ribs. Then he sat in the chair, perfectly placed so Sherlock could get an eyeful.

“How’s the vibrator?” John asked. He stroked himself and rolled his balls at a leisurely pace, completely at odds with the tightness in his voice.

“Fine,” said Sherlock, an embarrassing tremor betraying him. Not nearly as calm as I should be god damn it John your hands—

“I haven’t gotten to use it yet. Is it strong?” John trailed the backs of his knuckles down his cock, from frenulum to base. Sherlock stared.

“Moderately.”

“I’ve been thinking about the best way to use it.”

“Isn’t there only one way?” Sherlock asked. I can think of twelve.

But John wasn’t biting. He shook his head as he fisted up his cock, hard, and his nostrils flared. He did it again, and again, each time pulling in a massive breath. He never took his gaze off Sherlock. “You know perfectly well there's more.”

Sherlock broke eye contact to stare at John’s hands. The left pulled his foreskin up over the head on each stroke, and he looked so hard, so aroused, that it made Sherlock’s cock ache in sympathy. Whenever John touched him like that it felt…

Sherlock bit down on a moan, and watched how John’s hands sped at the sound. I could do that for you, John. I could do that for you, and then you could fuck me until I come so hard it feels like being turned inside out. Please. Please fuck me. The vibrator was starting to become distracting, and the urge for release was sitting full and warm beneath his belly.

John pulled at his testicles with his free hand and trailed his fingers up, up, past his cock and up his stomach. Sherlock followed the movement. “Mmm…” he said. He pinched his nipple with slicked-up fingers and sucked in a breath. “This should be good.”

Sherlock didn’t know which hand to stare at. “What should be good?” Instead of answering, John curled his spine and dragged his fingertips down between his legs. Oh.

It was almost completely hidden by shadow, but still Sherlock could see the careful way John was moving. Sherlock didn’t have to see more than a flash of skin to imagine it: Stroking the area around his arse, slicking it up, bringing blood to the surface, brushing the pad of his finger over and round and pressing in further and further until just the tip of his finger disappeared. Pushing past the resistance of the muscle, past the wrong-rightness of invasion, until everything melted into bliss—

John rocked on his fingers as Sherlock tightened down against the vibrator. Oh hell.

It didn’t last nearly as long as Sherlock thought it might, but twice as long as he wanted it to. He knotted his hands in the duvet to keep them in place as John rolled his hips and stroked his cock. It sounded…it sounded incredibly good, a feast of sensation as John wound himself up for orgasm. His head lolled on his shoulders. His breath huffed. And Sherlock couldn’t stop staring.

With a grunt, John’s body jerked and Sherlock watched him come, spurting onto his chest and over his hand. He did something with his fingers inside and moaned. His body gave a head-to-toe twitch. Sherlock knew how it felt, that speeding rush of ejaculation combined with the pulsing clench around John’s fingers, and he wanted it. He wanted it now.

Sherlock’s blood sped round his system, flooded with hormones. He squirmed and tightened down on the vibrator oh god please more, more, this isn’t nearly enough, oh fuck I need to come… He was swollen, distended, aching.

John on the other hand, looked completely spent. He played between his legs in a desultory sort of way with his eyes closed, as if he were lazily dragging out the sensation, waiting to squeeze out the last gasps of orgasm, as if he had all the time in the world. He was mesmerising. All it would take is a few pulls, and I could join him.

Still, Sherlock kept his hands by his side, hoping John would pay attention to him soon. He grabbed harder onto the duvet. Please.

Finally John’s eyes opened. The tension in his brow had eased.

“Finished?” Sherlock croaked.

“In a manner of speaking.”

“May I touch myself now, John?”

The corner of John’s mouth turned up. “No.”

Sherlock slammed his head back in the pillow and made a noise of frustration. Sherlock, you sound like a farm animal. “Why in god’s name not?”

John had stood and was wiping off his hands. He bent over Sherlock with an evil smile. Sherlock tried to shrink back into the bed, but John seemed undaunted, and without any sort of warning he bit Sherlock’s nipple.

Sherlock jerked. “What the—”

“Calm down,” John said. He poured some lubricant onto his left hand and pulled Sherlock’s cock in one firm stroke that sent lightning down his legs and up his chest and all the way back, around the vibrator. Ohhh. Thank god… John swallowed Sherlock’s gasp. “I’m paying attention to you now, you manipulative arse.”

Sherlock was too relieved by the touch to care about his words. They don’t matter anyway. How could they matter when…ohhh… John couldn’t expect him to be listening, not when he was finally drawing out Sherlock’s orgasm in a steady, unrelenting series of pulls. And when John reseated the vibrator to press on Sherlock’s prostate, any brain that might have been left for listening comprehension was completely lost.

His body tightened, his toes curled, and he grabbed even more firmly onto the duvet as his back arched up. Sherlock’s lungs burned, gasping for more air. No. No. Too far. Never going to come this way. It was too much, and John kept pressing further and further past that point, and Sherlock couldn’t help whimpering and whining as the path toward orgasm receded far in the distance. Please. Please. Please. He finally listened to what John was saying.

“You think it’s what you want, but it’s not. You want it on your own terms. Your way, when you want it. But it’s childish, Sherlock. That’s not how the world works. You have to understand that it’s not always about you.”

Sherlock gathered together enough brain cells for speech. “Of course it is.”

“You could have come with me.” John changed his angle and leaned down, and then his lips were brushing against Sherlock’s with every word. The tension in Sherlock’s body eased, dropping him back down further into range of pleasure, and he found himself so close to orgasm he could almost taste it. Yes. Yes. Perfect. John… He whined. “I did ask you to. You could have had what you wanted, and I could have had what I wanted.”

“That’s not…” Sherlock’s body twisted with pleasure.

“I wanted you there,” John said against Sherlock’s mouth, and he kissed him, wet and slick and sloppy. Sherlock could barely get it together enough to respond. “I missed you.” Any blood left in the rest of his body flooded downward at the feel of John’s words. Oh god. Here we…oh, here we go…

The vibrator shifted forward and Sherlock felt his entire body turn inside out. He cried out against John’s lips as he was wrung, vice-like, in an orgasm which melted from pain into pure, mind-obliterating pleasure. He shook and gasped, and pulsed around the toy inside him. He heard the sibilant tones of John easing him through each gorgeous spasm.

When Sherlock came to, John was kissing him. He dragged up enough sentience to kiss back.

“Here I am,” John said.

Sherlock groaned.

“You want me to go?”

“No—” Sherlock said, and raised up a hand just enough to paw at him, trying to keep him in range.

“You missed me.”

I’m too drugged by hormones for this. “Yes.”

“You regretted not coming along.”

“In a way.”

“Because you were bored without me.”

“Obviously.”

“And this was your way of expressing resentment.”

Sherlock had regained just enough control of himself not to respond.

John pressed a kiss to his forehead. “You’re going to clean up downstairs, by the way. I’m not touching it.”

Oh, John. Of course you are. Sherlock smacked together his tongue and the roof of his mouth. His mouth was ridiculously dry.

“While you clean I’m going to get together dinner, since I’m sure you haven’t eaten since I’ve been gone, and then maybe we can come up with a safeword.”

Eyes still closed, Sherlock scowled. “What in the hell are you talking about.”

Again, John kissed his forehead. “Well, you’re clearly unable to say the words ‘I genuinely need you’.”

“I say I need you all the time,” Sherlock said.

“To fetch things for you from the shops.” John made a dismissive noise. “We need a safeword to tell me that you’re likely to turn into a stroppy child if I abandon you, because hell if I’m letting you turn this place into your own filthy playground ever again.”

“I’m not a child.”

“You act like one often enough.”

Sherlock turned his face away to sulk and think. It would be convenient. I wouldn’t have to say it, but still have the results as if I had. Like a code. I like codes. “Fine.”

“Fine you’re a child, or fine, we can have a safeword—”

“A code.”

“Excuse me?”

“We can have a code.”

After a moment, John stepped back. “A code. Okay. Yes. Good. Now, I’m going to shower for real this time, and you’re going to shower, then I’m going to make dinner. Stand up.”

It was the tone that brooked no disagreement, the one that made him sound very much like captain, so Sherlock pulled out the vibrator with a wince, then stood. His legs wobbled. “Why can’t we shower together?”

“Don’t push me,” John said, but the harshness in his tone was softened by the slight quirk of humour at the corner of his mouth.

For a brief moment Sherlock considered doing just that. No. Too tired to bother. “Fine.”

John stepped up close and kissed him. Sherlock followed his mouth when John pulled back, but was unsuccessful in drawing out the kiss even one moment past when John ended it. “You’ll like having a code. I promise.”

I doubt it. “And why is that?”

“Imagine how often you might use it to get your way.” John smirked and gathered up his bag. He shouldered it, naked, and headed for the door. Sherlock stared at his arse.

He’s right, of course. With the implicit contract of a code, I might be able to convince him to do almost anything. The fact that John knows that, though, adds another layer to the whole thing. John would know that I knew that John knows, but I could do it anyway, and

It was kind of beautiful.

“Come take a shower, Sherlock,” John called up the stairs. Sherlock lifted his head from his contemplation of the rug and stared at the door. “Yes, you heard me. Hurry up.”

Sherlock grinned. John was back, and paying attention to him, and soon there would be food and touching, and maybe—if he played his cards right—more sex. The ruined vulcanising experiment notwithstanding, this might turn out to be an excellent night after all.