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When John came back from the war, his therapist suggested he join a support group. "Werewolves need a pack," she had said kindly. "You may have lost your unit, but you still need that social bond."

Of course, John's therapist was an idiot.

He had lunch with his sister, tense and awkward, twice a month; coffee with Mike Stamford rather more often, reviving a friendship he'd never realized he'd missed. He worked at a surgery that specialized in Abnormals, where he wasn't the strangest doctor by half. He spent rather too much time hanging about crime scenes, and Scotland Yard occasionally repaid the favor by pretending he was a consultant with status equal to Sherlock's; rather too much time in the nearest morgue, where Molly occasionally deigned to remember his name.

He had Sarah and Mrs. Hudson and a couple of blokes down the pub. And Sherlock, of course. Always Sherlock.

"Are you aware of your tendency to mark me as your territory?" Sherlock asked him, once, as they lay on opposite sides of the bed, sharing body heat if not skin.

John raised his head enough to get a look at Sherlock's face, but he couldn't tell if the idea bothered him or not. "How exactly do I do that?" John asked.

"Nothing too Neanderthalish," Sherlock said, eyes shut. "You handle my things. My coat. It's always with an innocent intention but you like the idea that they smell like you."

John couldn't exactly argue with that. "So my picking up your coat when you toss it on the floor is marking territory?"

"It's not the only thing, of course," Sherlock said, and as he did so he rolled onto his back, letting his head fall back against the pillow.

Body language was different for humans. John's father had drilled that into him as soon as he was old enough to realize that not everyone smelled the same. Most humans didn't think twice about smiling with teeth or showing their bellies, but werewolves had to learn not to sniff strangers, to apologize out loud instead of just averting your eyes and ducking your head. People didn't tend to understand. People tended to get nervous.

Of course, Sherlock wasn't people, and that was before you counted him being a reader. The packet of stew beef John kept in the fridge to snack on was small potatoes compared to the complete human digestive tract that had been in there Thursday, and Sherlock didn't need to be psychic to read people like poetry; he was a walking encyclopedia of clothing styles and cigarette brands and practical magic, and never seemed to do anything without a double purpose.

So John assumed he knew what he was doing, laying on his back like that, showing his throat to a werewolf. He grabbed a handful of the sheets. "Tease," he accused.

"Of course," Sherlock said, smirking a little. He pushed the sheets down his stomach, but not all the way, so his hand disappeared underneath them. Not that John didn't know exactly what he was doing anyway, between the smell of sex rising off his skin and the rhymthic motion, but it was the principle of the thing.

He could only hold out for so long and Sherlock knew that, damn it. "Can I--?" he asked, reaching out to just short of where Sherlock's free hand was splayed against the mattress. Because you don't just touch a reader, especially not skin to skin. Not even if he's practically daring you do.

"Obviously," Sherlock sighed, with a little edge in his voice, because he always found it quaint how careful John was with him. Maybe he'd just never had a partner who bothered to be careful before.

John pulled Sherlock close and kissed him, on the mouth and on that long, bare throat, dragging his teeth against the bulging tendons and sucking at the spots that made Sherlock writhe under him, against him. Leaving marks, clusters of broken capillaries on winter-white skin. Maybe there was something to this territory thing after all, he was willing to allow. Of course, Sherlock hadn't said he minded...

"Of course I don't mind," Sherlock said in a breathy, broken voice, kicking the sheet out of the way so he could hook a leg over John's hip. "Though if that's all you intend to do this evening..."

John grinned against Sherlock's shoulder, knowing he'd sense the emotion anyway. Counting on it, really.

John had coworkers, friends, neighbors, a sister, a landlady. John had Sherlock. They were not, perhaps, a pack in the conventional sense of the term—most of them weren't even werewolves. But they were the ones who mattered. They were his.