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You’re a Soldier, I’m a Warzone: Episode One

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”Are you all right?”

”Yes, of course I’m all right.”

”You have just killed a man.”

”Yes I – that’s true, isn’t it? But he wasn’t a very nice man.”

 

“That wasn’t your first time,” Sherlock says, watching the streetlights’ beams slide across the side of John’s face as the cab sweeps them home again.

John turns his head to look at Sherlock.

“No, it wasn’t.”

Sherlock smiles a little at John’s lack of evasion.

“I hope that doesn’t make you feel cheap,” John says, laughter in his eyes. “It still meant a lot to me.”

Sherlock’s smile splits open. John beams back at him for a moment, but then his smile blurs.

“First time here, of course,” he murmurs.

“Does that make a difference?”

John’s eyes flicker away and soften as his focus turns inwards.

“No.”

He turns his head to look out of the cab window again. Sherlock lets his gaze slide past John, past the light-gleamed window, past the houses and streets and darkness, to where an odd little man lies dead with a hole neatly shot through his heart. One flawless shot, made from a hundred and thirty feet away despite the distortions of window pane and dark and light. Sherlock sees the stubby bullet cutting through the air, glass rippling away from it like water, clothing parting like petals, flesh yielding like ripe fruit. Its path is as clean and certain as the arc of Sherlock’s mind toward a conclusion.

“How did you learn to shoot like that?” he asks softly.

John looks at him, eyebrows raised in polite confusion.

“I was in the army for ten years,” he says. “I’ve spent five of the last seven years in a warzone.”

Sherlock narrows his eyes, shakes his head just enough to tremble his hair against his forehead.

“Under the Geneva Conventions, protected medical personnel are permitted to use their weapons only in self-defense or in defense of the sick and wounded,” he says. “You expect me to believe that you became that kind of marksman – that kind of fighter – purely by defending yourself and your patients? The war in Afghanistan must be even more badly run than the papers say – do they leave the doctors to fight their way through the front-lines to reach the wounded?”

John presses his lips together, and tenses the skin below his eyes.

“You walk with your weight on the outsides of your feet,” Sherlock says. “It’s characteristic of someone who walks long distances over rough ground, but not quickly. You put your right hand in your jacket pocket but not your left, as if the posture of right hand higher and left lower feels natural to you: the posture of someone carrying an assault rifle at half-ready. Your forehead and the corners of your jaw are less tanned than the rest of your face; you spent most of your time outdoors not just wearing a helmet but wearing it buckled for maximal protection. You scan visually from side to side on the street; you notice rubbish bins, parked cars, and oncoming pedestrians, but someone overtaking you from behind doesn’t bother you. You’re used to walking with people you trust, in an otherwise hostile environment.”

A muscle at the corner of John’s jaw flexes visibly.

“You’ve walked patrols,” Sherlock says. “You've experienced IEDs and ambushes. You’ve killed in self-defense, but you’ve also killed because that’s how wars are won. You’re not an army doctor … you’re a soldier with a medical degree.”

Hideously over-qualified medic is the technical term,” John says, his eyes gleaming.

 

 

“I’m famished, we’ll have everything you’ve got,” Sherlock says to the waiter.

“I’m just going to – wash my hands,” John says, his smirk no more than a twist at the corner of his mouth.

“Well, hurry up, because I’m not waiting and I’m not saving you anything,” Sherlock says, stripping the paper cover off his chopsticks and clicking them together predatorily.

“Right.”

Sherlock watches him walk away.

like finding a new variable in an equation you thought you’d already solved, like having someone’s heart explode out of their chest right in front of you, like thinking ‘I really did not see that coming’

John returns just as the food – plates and plates of it – starts to arrive.

“This will never be enough,” Sherlock complains, wrinkling his nose discontentedly. “I’m ravening.”

He eats two dumplings and a chicken wing, and switches to dipping his chopsticks in the soy sauce and sucking them meditatively while he watches John eat.

“Why did you follow me?” Sherlock asks.

John takes his time chewing and swallowing and licking the corners of his lips clean before he answers.

“Because you’d gone off on your own with a serial killer?”

“And?”

“And I can’t afford the rent on the flat by myself?”

Sherlock puffs his breath out through slightly pursed lips.

“All right,” John smiles. “You have a very remarkable brain. It would be a shame for it to end up in a jar of formaldehyde, or splattered on a pavement, or – ”

“Thank you, I see the pattern,” Sherlock says, his eyes soft and warm. “So you want to save me from myself?”

John hisses his breath in through bared teeth.

“That’s what in the army we call an unachievable end-state. I want to save you from … whatever else it is you need saving from,” he says, his humor blurring into slightly discomfited honesty.

“I’ve never had a knight in shining armor before.”

“You … really don’t have one now, either.”

“What’s in it for you?” Sherlock asks, with a sharp upward tip of his chin. “Apart from the rent, I mean.”

John bends his head, rolls his left shoulder back.

“Over there, you always know something’s coming, something that will test you,” he says, and then jerks his head up to meet Sherlock’s eyes. “Here, there’s no test … there’s just … nothing.”

His gaze slides away, returns slowly to Sherlock’s.

“You … you make me feel like something’s coming,” he says hesitantly.

Sherlock smiles, a wide-eyed blossoming of warmth that John can’t help but return, until they’re just grinning at each other across the table. John picks up the fortune cookie lying by his plate, looks questioningly at Sherlock.

"Meeting someone truly extraordinary will change your life," Sherlock pronounces confidently.

John splits the cookie and extracts the slip of paper.

"There is nothing new under the sun," he reads.

Sherlock throws his head up and laughs in genuine delight.

 

 

“I’ve never kept a gun, so … no kit, but I think I’ve got the essentials here,” Sherlock says, coming out of the kitchen with his arms full of bottles and brushes and bits of cloth.

He spills everything onto the sitting room table and sits down. John extracts the gun from the back of his jeans, sets it on the table, and sits down opposite Sherlock.

“Yeah, this’ll do – ”

He stops, watching dubiously as Sherlock cages his fingers over the gun, draws it to him and picks it up.

“Don’t worry,” Sherlock says lazily. “I do know which end of it bites.”

One side of the metal is warm, heat stolen from John’s skin; the other is cold. Sherlock strokes his thumb over the slightly lighter streaks on the slide and frame where the serial numbers have been ground off. He lifts the gun to his nose, sniffs delicately.

“Factory bluing,” he says. “Serial numbers taken off with minimal gouging and the bluing patched up quite adequately. Standard-issue trigger, standard issue hammer too, even though I see from your palm that you’ve had hammer-bite problems … comes of having small hands I’m afraid.”

John flexes his right hand, clearly reconsidering the callus on the web of skin between his thumb and forefinger.

“You bought the gun that felt most familiar,” Sherlock goes on.

John lifts his eyebrows.

“What makes you think I -- ”

“Army-issued weapons aren’t party favors, you don’t get to keep them when you leave,” Sherlock says impatiently. “You might be clever enough to smuggle this thing through every security check between Kandahar and London under other circumstances – though I doubt it – but given that they must have flown you out with nothing but a hospital gown and a morphine pump … this isn’t your service pistol.”

“Is there anything that you just take at face value?” John grins.

Sherlock’s expression softens, warms in almost stifled surprise.

… you really don’t care how deeply I can see into you, do you? You’re too fascinated by how I do it …

He releases and removes the magazine, pulls the slide forward and clicks the safety catch into it, his hands sure but slow at the unfamiliar task.

“Get your phone,” he says, removing the slide clip and then the slide, holding the two sections of the gun in his hands.

John hooks his phone out of his hip pocket.

“Take a picture of me.”

John frowns in puzzlement, but lifts his phone and presses the button.

“Show me.”

John turns his phone around. Sherlock nods approvingly and puts the two pieces of the gun down on the table.

“Make sure you keep that.”

“So I never forget our first night together?” John asks doubtfully.

“So you know you can prove I’m an accessory after the fact,” Sherlock says. “So you know I’m in this with you.”

John presses the button again, the picture deleting into blank blue, and tosses his phone down on the table. The movement of Sherlock’s mouth is too fragile to be called a smile. John picks up the gun’s slide, extracts the barrel and recoil spring from it.

“This is cozy,” he says.

“Perfect scene of domestic bliss,” Sherlock agrees, watching John’s hands move with casual certainty over the pieces of metal.

There’s silence while John scours and wipes and then oils the milled metal so it shimmers like dark gray silk.

“How many people have you killed?” Sherlock asks, his eyelids half-lowered.

John’s eyes flick up to Sherlock’s face, then back down to his work.

“You can’t tell from the way I comb my hair?” he asks.

“No.”

“Maybe you can’t tell because I can’t tell,” John says, starting to slide the pieces of the gun back together. “War doesn’t work that way … you might be one of twenty people firing, without a clear line of sight. If someone on the other side stops firing maybe you killed them, maybe somebody else killed them … maybe they just ran away.”

He looks up, his eyes meeting Sherlock’s.

“Fourteen that were close enough and clear enough that I know for certain it was my shot … fifteen, now.”

“Did you ever make a mistake?”

“Yes, yes I did,” John says, jaw jutting and brows folding together a little.

Sherlock waits.

“You do the best you can, with the information you have available at the time,” John says, the words smooth with wear.

He slips the magazine back into the pistol’s grip and sets it down on the table between them.

Sherlock’s attention spirals inwards, downwards, to the liquid thud of his pulse in his cock. He flexes his stomach muscles, feels a tiny pang of pleasure as the blood rearranges itself in his pelvis.

… what do you want now, you importuning mob of bones and muscles and blood cells …

“Right then, sex,” he says, setting both hands flat on the table.

John pulls his chin back slightly, gaze swiveling without any movement of his head.

“Sorry?”

“After a case,” Sherlock says, as if this should be obvious. “Food, sex, sleep -- not always in that order, but usually. I’ve eaten, I’m not ready to sleep -- so, time to have sex.”

John lifts his eyebrows, and then frowns.

“What about being married to your work?”

One corner of Sherlock’s mouth curls very slightly.

“She forgives my weaknesses,” he says, his intonation an audible caress. "Or at least, my one-night stands."

John’s gaze flicks down from Sherlock’s eyes, to his mouth, to the open shirt collar falling away from his long neck.

“You’re interested,” Sherlock says. “Do you want to do it? Or shall I go out and find someone else?”

John blinks very slowly.

“Want to … wh … ?”

“ … fuck me,” Sherlock says, standing up and smoothing his shirt over his stomach with one splayed hand. “Do you want to fuck me? Or shall I find someone else to do it?”

John opens his mouth a little, tilts his head to one side, and stares at Sherlock in obvious disbelief. Sherlock tries and fails to stifle his smile.

“Either way, I need to take this shirt off,” he says, stepping away from the table and starting towards the door. “The clubs start closing in a few; I’ll have to get a move on if you’re not up for it.”

He walks out of the sitting room, down the short hallway, and into his room. He leaves the door standing wide. He doesn’t turn a light on, making his way through the debris of books and journals and other artifacts scattered on the carpet by memory alone. He sweeps the curtains open, and the room is gilded with pale yellow streetlight. He lifts his hands, unbuttons his cuffs.

... John will follow …

“You are … ridiculous,” John says, standing in the open doorway.

Sherlock turns, trying to smile but almost grimacing instead. John’s gaze slips over the cluttered surfaces of the room, the tumbled mess of the narrow bed, back to Sherlock standing in front of the window. John moves forwards, stepping over a spill of loose paper and around a plastic crate filled with unmatched right shoes, stopping within a hand’s reach of Sherlock.

“Look at you,” John says, lifting his chin high as his eyes move up and down. “Where would I even start?”

Sherlock can’t calculate the outcome now. The variables flicker in and out of existence too rapidly for him to parse them. Does it matter that John’s eyes are darkening, and the corners of his mouth tightening?

John reaches out, one hand curving against Sherlock’s ribs. Sherlock shudders, eyes half-closing and lips parting.

John’s other hand slips along Sherlock’s jaw, fingers sliding into the back of his hair, closing tight enough to make his scalp hum. John pulls him downwards, and Sherlock yields as pliantly as air, rounds his shoulders and the top of his spine. John’s lips are warm and dry and a little rough; he slides his closed mouth across Sherlock’s open one, the sensation sliced with the rasp of incipient stubble above John’s upper lip. Sherlock lifts both hands, fingertips splaying on the curves of John’s skull, sliding in the bristle of his cropped hair.

John opens his mouth, rakes the edges of his teeth over Sherlock’s lips. Sherlock arches his spine, pushes his chest and stomach and hips against John’s body. John’s hand moves from Sherlock’s ribs, around his waist, into the small of his back and pulls him in tighter. The tip of John’s tongue is smooth and slippery as it slides into Sherlock’s mouth.

Sherlock cups John’s skull, thumbs on his temples and fingers meeting at the nape of his neck. Sherlock kisses him open-mouthed, devouring the thin curves of his lips. John’s hand releases Sherlock’s hair, comes round to his jaw, thumb biting into the tender flesh.

John tastes of heat, with an underlying trace of tannin. He smells warm, faintly smoky, with sudden sharpnesses that pierce low down in Sherlock’s guts.

John’s hand moves from Sherlock’s back, slips between their chests. His fingers work Sherlock’s shirt buttons open with practiced ease, push one side of the smooth cotton out of his way. The brush of his fingertips on bare skin makes Sherlock squirm slowly, pushing into the touch. He presses his hand flat on Sherlock’s ribs, slides his palm slowly upwards. As the heel of his hand – hard and warm – cuts firmly over Sherlock’s chest and left nipple, Sherlock breaks the connection of their mouths to inhale sharply. John’s palm lifts, the side of his thumb brushing back and forth over Sherlock’s nipple, warm tugs of pleasure that spike down into Sherlock’s groin. Sherlock grimaces, catches his own lower lip in his teeth.

John bites kisses onto the side of Sherlock’s neck, into the angle of his shoulder. The hand on Sherlock’s jaw moves down, outwards, brushing Sherlock’s shirt off his shoulder. Sherlock rolls his other shoulder, twists enough to let John strip the garment away from him entirely. Sherlock curls forwards, eyes shut, teeth bared as his skin prickles into heated life against the softness of John’s sweater and the hardness of John’s hands and mouth.

“Too many clothes,” Sherlock complains, pulling at John’s sweater with both hands.

John leans back, both hands coming up and behind to pull his sweater off over his head. John undoes the cuffs of his shirt while Sherlock opens a couple of buttons at the collar. John peels that layer off too, and he’s wearing a white tee shirt underneath and then he strips that off and Sherlock leans in again and the kiss of skin against skin is enough to make him sigh with relief. John’s hands shape to Sherlock’s back, rock him in closer, while John’s mouth presses to Sherlock’s throat.

Sherlock strokes both hands down John’s shoulders. John’s skin is text, and Sherlock’s fingertips hum with information … muscle overlaid with softer flesh, the curve of the right shoulder harder than the left, knotted from the work of using a walking stick, and before that a crutch. John is as plush as velvet, as soft as cream except where his skin is tight and gnarled like scorched satin. Sherlock’s fingers follow cords of scar-tissue down John’s chest, find fragments of scarring scattered on his ribs.

John darts kisses and bites at Sherlock’s collarbones, the flat slopes of his chest, then the sensitive flesh around his nipples. Sherlock hisses, slides his fingers through John’s hair and tries to trap the short strands between his fingers enough to pull. He manages to trap one of John’s hands and guide it down to his groin.

The touch of John’s hand on his cock – the contact barely muffled by thin suit pants and thinner shorts – is a stab of sensation, too sudden and sharp to be purely pleasure. John growls – teeth bared, feral rattle of his breath low in his throat – and squeezes Sherlock’s cock hard enough to make fire flare behind Sherlock’s eyes.

“Jesus – fucking gorgeous,” John snarls against Sherlock’s chest, and Sherlock sort of sways and makes a sound at least suggestive of a whimper.

John’s rubbing with one hand, the other making swift work of Sherlock’s belt and button and zipper, while Sherlock winds one arm around John’s shoulders and concentrates on holding himself upright. His belt and suit pants collapse down his legs under their own weight, pooling around his ankles, inelegant, but he’s honestly incapable of caring at this point. John’s hand is now rubbing up and down over the thin gray cotton stretched over Sherlock’s erection. He squeezes again, and a deep red pulse of pleasure thuds through Sherlock’s body.

“So fucking gorgeous,” John says, his hand slipping lower, cupping and shoving Sherlock’s balls up against the root of his cock.

It’s nothing Sherlock hasn’t heard from plenty of men, but they didn’t have John’s maddening little mouth, with the thin upper lip curling away from his teeth in a way that makes Sherlock need to –

he catches John’s face between his hands and bites open-mouthed at John's lips. John hooks the hand that’s not plundering Sherlock’s crotch around the nape of Sherlock’s neck and yanks him in even tighter.

This isn’t kissing, this is barely restrained cannibalism. John drags the sharp edges of his teeth over Sherlock’s open mouth, bites the thick muscle of his tongue, smears spit-slicked lips across Sherlock’s cheek, tongues the shell of his ear until Sherlock shudders. Sherlock drags his fingernails down John’s back, clawing like a blissful cat. John hisses in pleasure.

“The bed’s – sanitary,” Sherlock gasps.

“Bed,” John agrees breathlessly.

He pulls back reluctantly, teeth lingering on Sherlock’s lips until the last possible instant. Sherlock takes advantage of the separation -- the air humming on his skin, lips throbbing for want of John’s mouth -- to get rid of his shoes and socks and suit pants, and wipe his hand through his hair.

John’s stripping too, boots and socks and jeans. Sherlock stumbles backwards, finds the edge of the bed with the backs of his legs as John straightens up again.

“Come on,” Sherlock says, although John’s already there, crowding skin against skin.

Sherlock folds, down onto the bed, down onto his back with John swarming over him, mouth and hands devouring him all over again. Sherlock lets his thighs fall open, and John pushes one knee close to Sherlock’s groin.

“Fuck, yes,” Sherlock groans, drawing his own knee up and out.

John growls into the underside of Sherlock’s jaw, and hooks his hips enough to push the bulk of his erection into the underside of Sherlock’s balls.

… like mind-reading, or body-reading, and how perfectly provident that John wants to provide what Sherlock wants to receive …

“I want to fuck you,” John says, rubbing the tip of his nose and his lips over Sherlock’s face.

Sherlock drops one long thin arm out to the side, waves his hand erratically.

“Stuff in the – God – bedside – ”

John grips him at shoulder and waist, presses him down into the mattress.

“Don’t move,” he says, lips brushing against the corner of Sherlock’s mouth.

Sherlock’s breath staggers to a halt in his chest, although his heart hammers on rebelliously. John strips himself up from Sherlock’s body, leans across him. Sherlock turns his head enough to see the flex of John’s right arm as it takes his weight, the curve of ribs as he twists. There’s the rasp of the drawer opening, followed by a rattle and then a cascade of thuds as the tenuous arrangement of books and microscope-slide folders on the bedside table gives way.

“Shit,” John hisses.

“Doesn’t matter, just – ”

“Got it,” John says, body shifting back over Sherlock’s.

He kisses Sherlock, another hard messy application of mouth to mouth. He’s gripping the bottle of lube in his left hand; his right hand goes down to the waist of Sherlock’s underwear, starts pushing and pulling in a way that’s ineffective but communicative. It would be a hell of a lot easier to strip if Sherlock told him to get off for a minute. Instead, it takes a lot of thrashing and twisting before Sherlock finally gets his shorts down off his hips, down his thighs, extracts one foot and then kicks the other one up and down enough to shed the garment onto the floor.

The touch of John’s skin – thick muscle of stomach under softer flesh, and the mercilessly rounded blade of his hipbone – against Sherlock’s cock is enough to make Sherlock arch, groaning.

John pulls back just enough, just long enough to shove his own underwear down, off. He plunges back, his cock catching between Sherlock’s legs as he smears his body upwards along Sherlock’s.

“Now, right now,” Sherlock mutters as John’s lips cover his.

John circles the palm of his right hand on Sherlock’s hip, on his thigh. Sherlock thrusts sideways, rocking himself up off his hip, and John’s hand circles round, behind, scoops the curve of Sherlock’s buttock and draws Sherlock’s thigh up onto John’s hip.

John clicks the bottle open, and Sherlock concentrates on shoving air into his own lungs despite the chaos happening in his chest. John fumbles his hands together, then reaches down, and the cold liquid kiss of his fingers at Sherlock’s anus makes Sherlock hiss and tighten his fingers on the nape of John’s neck. John pushes two fingertips in, twisting, clearly testing Sherlock’s reaction.

“What do you need?” John says hoarsely, fingers thrusting deeper.

“Nothing,” Sherlock growls, rolling his head to the side.

John’s smiling, eyes cutting along Sherlock’s profile.

“Slick it up and shove it in,” Sherlock snarls, turning his head back and catching John’s mouth with his own.

It’s a crisis of a kiss, teeth bumping, bruising lips, as John tries to wrangle lubricant and his cock and the restless squirm of Sherlock’s hips. The open bottle tumbles out of John’s hand, across Sherlock’s hip, hits the carpet with a dull thud, but John’s got enough to go on with. He slicks his own cock, rocks his weight onto his opposite elbow as he tries to get himself lined up right. Sherlock reaches down, fingers brushing encouraging at John’s hip.

“Now, now,” Sherlock murmurs, a breathless little prayer. “Now … ”

John finally gets enough of a seat, the first inch of his cock pushed against and into Sherlock’s anus. He rocks forwards, and his cock slides deeper in a heated rush that tips Sherlock’s head back and makes him cry out in shocked satisfaction. John withdraws just a little before pushing forwards again, all the way. Sherlock twists, groans, and then pants out the tension quivering through his body.

“God, good, yes,” he gasps.

John pulls back, pushes in, a slow smooth stroke. Sherlock’s breath catches, resumes. John pulls back again, pushes in with just a little more kick in his hips.

“I want it hard,” Sherlock says sharply.

John rocks back, shoves forwards.

Yes,” Sherlock snaps. “Harder, come on, you’re not going to break me.”

John’s mouth sets in a tight, narrow line. He grips Sherlock’s right hip, fists his other hand in the sheets beneath Sherlock’s left shoulder, and starts to fuck him with real venom. Sherlock grips the back of John’s neck, clasps an arm across the back of John’s shoulders. He squeezes his eyes shut, grimacing, every thrust a percussive jolt of pleasure that makes his brain reel.

“God – yes – fuck – yes,” John grunts at Sherlock’s ear, and the punch of his breath against Sherlock’s skin is enough to make Sherlock sob in ecstasy.

“Yes, come on,” Sherlock pleads, fingernails digging into John’s skin.

Sherlock arches underneath him, pressing the head of his cock up into the sharp jerks of John’s stomach as John keeps thrusting. Sherlock can feel the burn starting in the arches of his feet and the fronts of his thighs and the root of his cock. He tries to relax, to hold off another minute or two, but fire flutters along his nerves and his body’s already tightening and tightening. John feels it, gives a low breathless laugh at Sherlock’s ear.

“Yes -- yes.”

Sherlock’s body goes rigid, teeth bared, breath whining out as he comes, semen sliding silkily between their bellies.

“Jesus – fucking – Christ,” John says fervently as Sherlock’s body falls apart into softness and sobbing, gasping breaths.

“Yes … oh God … yes,” Sherlock pants, curling his shoulders up from the bed to wind his arms around John’s shoulders and press his face to the curve of John’s neck. “Come on, you now … ”

“You all right if I keep going?”

“God yes, don’t stop … ”

John nods, the movement slight against Sherlock’s cheek. He shifts his weight up and back a little, hand moving from Sherlock’s shoulder to splay on the sheet next to Sherlock’s arm. When he thrusts again it’s with less force, smoother and shallower but swifter. Sherlock keens quietly, pleasure humming over the shivering aftershocks of his orgasm.

John grins down at him for a second, then his eyes narrow and his smile turns into a grimace. Sherlock nods, his breath twisting in his chest as John rocks his hips faster.

“God yes,” Sherlock hisses.

“So fucking good,” John growls, almost blinking but refusing to close his eyes completely.

Sherlock makes a sharp-edged noise that’s half-pleasure and half-confusion at the way his insides are roiling with a blurred kind of intent. The sound of it seems to inflame John; he grabs for Sherlock’s face, hand cupping one cheekbone and thumb smearing the corner of Sherlock’s mouth.

“So good,” John says roughly, “you are … so good.”

Sherlock hums appreciatively, twists his head and parts his lips, catches John’s thumb between his teeth and bites a little. John hisses, drops his head again so that they’re nose to nose.

“So -- fucking -- good.”

John’s breath breaks, and his thrusts turn to a disconnected stutter of his hips. Sherlock throws his head back and cries out in utter satisfaction, his own body seeming to dilate and disintegrate in sympathy with John’s, as John shivers and shudders and then slumps down on Sherlock’s chest.

“Jesus … fucking Christ,” John murmurs.

His shoulders start to shake, and he lifts his head, laughing silently because he doesn’t have enough breath to make sounds. Sherlock lifts one hand, sweeps his fingers through the hair above John’s ear. John twists his hips, pulls his cock from Sherlock’s body on a wet slide of semen and lubricant. Sherlock straightens his leg out, wincing a little as the tendon in his groin tries to adjust to the change of position.

“I think I could sleep now,” he says, turning his head to rest his cheek against his own hand.

“I’ll go, then,” John says, and the sparkle in his eyes isn’t one bit dimmed.

“You don’t expect to … stay?”

“Your bed’s three feet wide. I’ll crash on the couch for a bit, then go back to my place – my old place, I mean. I’ll bring my stuff over during the day.”

Sherlock smiles, eyelids flickering slowly.

“I’m glad you followed me, John.”

John pauses as he pushes up, pulls away.

“Which time?” he asks.

“Every time,” Sherlock says, his fingers curling slightly against his own cheek, and then unfurling as he slides into sleep.