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The Curious Case of the Howl in the Night

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John has made toast. Nicely browned toast, just the way he likes it. There's a stack of it on the plate in front of him. He's put butter on the table too, and though it's still in its wrapper, he's peeled the paper back invitingly so that it glows, golden and smooth, under kitchen's harsh fluorescent tube. Steam rises from John's cup of tea and he stirs it peacefully, watching Sherlock out of the corner of his eye.

Sherlock is not peaceful. He's sitting straight-backed on his hard kitchen chair, head bent over John's computer, eyes darting between the screen and the keyboard, as if he needs to seek out each letter, every time. As if its position is a surprise to him. But his fingers are rattling over the keys anyway, making a clatter like distant gunfire.

John adds sugar to his tea. Sometimes things need to be sweetened, otherwise they won't go down.

He should have known Sherlock would react like this; that he wouldn't be able to accept that he does like being touched after all, and that he's not quite as married to his work as he claims.

"Stop looking at me," Sherlock says suddenly, eyes still flicking from screen to keyboard and back again. "It's putting me off."

"But I like looking at you," John counters mildly, because he does. Especially this morning, when Sherlock's hair is more tousled than he's ever seen it, and when on his neck, just under his jawline, there's a little purple mark. A mark that John put there. One that Sherlock let John put there.

Sherlock makes an irritated noise. "Well, it's annoying. Can't you go and do something - " He waves an impatient hand, all long fingers and fine-boned wrist. " - and stop distracting me?"

John could point out that, naked except for his thin, blue dressing grown, Sherlock is the one doing the distracting - particularly with it so loosely tied about his waist and parting half-way down his thigh to reveal a scattering of fine hairs that appear much darker than they really are against the skimmed milk paleness of his skin.

"There's no great mystery, Sherlock," John sighs, a sudden upsurge of desire making him less patient than usual with Sherlock's obsessive ways. "Really. It was sex. It's what people who like each ... who are attracted to each other do."

Sherlock's head jerks up. "You made me howl, John." His tone is accusatory, his eyes blazing with indignation. "There has to be an explanation. I don't ...howl."

John tries not to smile, but he can't help himself. He can feel his delight, his pride, spreading slowly across his face. "I wouldn't have called it 'howling'. More like uncontrolled moaning. Though we could check with Mrs Hudson, if you'd like a second opinion. Maybe Lestrade too." John is grinning now. "They could probably hear you over at Scotland Yard."

Sherlock tugs at his dressing gown, pulling it tighter around his long, slender torso, and reties the knot viciously. "Shut up."

"Yes, Sherlock. Of course, Sherlock. Anything you say, Sherlock."

Sherlock snatches a piece of toast from the pile and flings it in John's face. "What I said was Shut Up," he sniffs and turns his attention back to the computer.

John retrieves the toast from his lap where it's fallen and puts it onto his plate. He butters it generously, adds marmalade and starts eating. He’s happy - very happy - and he likes to watch Sherlock as he works. That furious intensity is breath-taking, burning as it does with the brilliant flame of genius.

"Aha!" Sherlock says at last, flinging himself back in his chair triumphantly. "Of course!"

"Of course?"

Sherlock folds his arms across his chest, the suggestion of a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth and making his eye sparkle. "It was my first time. There was understandably some degree of discomfort, in addition to the-" He clears his throat. "- the, er, more pleasant aspects of the proceedings."

Alarmed, John drops his toast. "Discomfort? Are you saying you made that noise because I hurt you?"

"No, not hurt," Sherlock scoffs. "But ... it was all very new. I wasn't sure what to expect. You ... caught me off-balance. Surprised me."

John's good humour deflates - he'd hoped Sherlock had felt more than mere surprise - and his mood turns sour. He fancies the butter may be off. And that the sugar is some hideous low-calorie substitute. "Well, I'm sorry to have 'surprised' you. I won't do it again."

Sherlock's eyebrows shoot up and are momentarily lost beneath his floppy fringe. "You won't? Why ever not?"

"It didn't sound like you wanted to," John grumbles, hating how petulant he sounds. He looks away.

There's a moment's silence before Sherlock speaks again. "John," he says and now his voice has taken on that deep, seductive quality he uses to charm Molly into letting him borrow the odd corpse or make off with a body part. "John..." And - damn it - it's working. Making John's nerve endings vibrate to its honeyed resonance.

A hand - cool and smooth - reaches out to cup the side of John's face, and gently urges it round so that John is forced to look into those extraordinary eyes again, into that extraordinary face.

"What?" he growls with as much ill-grace as he can muster when forced to look at that weirdly attractive mouth, which even now is curling into an irresistible smile.

"I do want to," Sherlock says, dropping his voice to a soft rumble. "I want to very much."

"You ... do?"

Sherlock's smile becomes warmer still. "Of course. It was ... delightful." He jumps to his feet, tea and toast untouched, and tilts his head in the direction of his bedroom. "Come."

In an ideal world, John would play hard to get at this point, but he's a soldier through and through, used to obeying orders, and however enticingly that 'Come' was uttered, it was definitely an order. And there's nothing better than an order you actively want to obey. John rises from his chair and follows Sherlock to his room.


It looks worse than usual. Piles of papers on the floor, open books, discarded clothing that missed the laundry basket by an inch or two, and which Sherlock hasn't bothered to pick up. On every available surface - the window sill, a kitchen chair, the bed-side table - there's something weird and inappropriate: a conical flask half-full of a foul-smelling yellow liquid, a plastic bucket marked 'biohazard', a dollop of soft cheese suspended in a tea towel hammock above an old chipped bowl - Sherlock's wonderfully insane experiments.

So far, so normal - for Sherlock. What's different is the bed. The covers have slid off completely and lie in a crumpled heap at the foot of it. Meanwhile the under-sheet looks like someone’s tried to rip it away from the mattress, before giving up half-way and leaving it in a tangle of cotton on the centre of the bed. A sudden flashback to how it got that way gives John a serious case of butterflies.

Sherlock rushes over and makes an ineffectual attempt at smoothing it all out. "There!" he says, ignoring the fact he's made it worse, rather than better. He sits down and pats the bed invitingly. "Come, John. Let's get started."

" 'Get started'?" John grumbles. "You couldn't make it sound less exciting?" But he's already unbuttoning his shirt, toeing off his shoes.

Sherlock dips his head, and looks up at him through his lashes. "Forgive me. What I meant, of course, was 'Please, John - ravish me. I cannot wait to feel you inside me again'." He's only play-acting, John knows, but god, those words in that voice, are playing havoc with his ability to think that a bad thing, and when Sherlock stands to remove his dressing gown and lets it slide to the floor, John's so hard he can scarcely unzip his trousers without doing himself an injury.

"Uh ... how do you want to do it?" he asks, the thought of injury bringing back the fear he really might have hurt Sherlock. "I wouldn't mind if ... you know ... if you wanted to ... um, do me."

"Hmm?" Sherlock is busy carefully arranging himself on the bed, face down, legs spread, the swell of his buttocks invitingly lifted by the strategic placement of a pillow under his hips. It seems to take him a while before John's offer registers. "No, no - that won't be necessary."

He's still adjusting his position as John approaches the bed - shifting his hips a little and moving his arms to place his hands flat against the mattress, slightly above his head. John touches his shoulder gently and asks, "Are you sure you're not too sore?"

Sherlock stops moving. He turns his head so that he can look up at John. "I'm fine," he purrs. "You took very good care of me, Doctor. Talking of which - I don't see the lubricant. Fetch it, will you?"

John's heart sinks. If only the room weren't such a mess. Looking for his little tube of arnica and lavender salve - it was all he had immediately to hand - is going to be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Normally, he's very careful about where he leaves medicinal products but last night was hardly a normal one. Not for him and Sherlock, anyway. Somehow they went from arguing about Sherlock's inability to feel ordinary human emotions to shagging like rabbits, and though John still can't really believe it, his dick twitches at the memory.

He lifts a Bunsen burner from the bedside table and looks under its stand hopefully. Nothing. The cream isn't under the bed either, though for some reason a Tupperware container full of squirming maggots is. John decides not to mention it and carries on hunting. Just when he's about to give up hope and suggest ransacking the kitchen for an alternative, he spots the purple and white tube, nestled in one of Sherlock's ridiculously stylish shoes.

"I've found it," he announces.

"Good for you," Sherlock replies. "Now hurry up." He wiggles his hips meaningfully.

John feels vaguely uneasy. It's all very well to lose control in the heat of an argument, but they're both perfectly clear-headed this morning - Sherlock particularly so. Whatever they do now, they'll be doing intentionally. It won't be something they can brush off as a moment of madness. It will change everything. John runs a hand down Sherlock's spine. "Are you sure?"

"Yes!" Sherlock almost shouts. "Good god, John - how many more times?" He grabs the cream, twists off the top, and plonks it back into John's hand. "Just get on with it, will you?"

John stares at the little plastic tube. "Straight away? Look, Sherlock - this is all a bit, uh, rushed for me. I need a little-"

Sherlock lets out a hiss of frustration that sounds like steam escaping a pressure cooker. "You need what, exactly?" he asks, making no attempt at concealing his exasperation. "Kissing? Fine!" He scrambles around, pulls John roughly into his arms, and the next thing John knows is he's being kissed into light-headed oblivion. Sherlock's mouth is relentless, insistent. His lips force John's apart - open, open, and wider still. His tongue fills John's mouth, presses to the roof of it. Licks, flicks, tickles.

John is gasping for air by the time Sherlock lets him go, and aware of little more than the thud of the pulse in his dick.

"Ready now?" Sherlock demands, and the edge of challenge in his voice makes John harder still.

"Oh god, yes." John snatches up the cream. His heart is pounding, his balls already tightening and it's all he can do to apply a good coating of the stuff without coming from the touch of his own hand.

Sherlock repositions himself on his front. "Ready when you are, Doctor."

Really, he's such a pillock. So infuriatingly cock-sure. He needs taking down a peg or two. John slicks up his fingers and, with only a curt instruction to "Breathe out", pushes them sharply into him.

Sherlock jerks at the suddenness of the intrusion but quickly gets himself under control again. He rolls his hips, and gives a deep, throaty hum of satisfaction. "Yes, John. Like that. Like last night. Just like that ..."

His words have an almost hypnotic effect, and John rocks with them, pushing his fingers in deeper in time to their rhythm. Sherlock's satisfied hum rises in pitch, becoming nasal and much more needy. "John ..."

John clambers awkwardly over him, kisses his shoulders blades, and the bump of his C7 vertebra.

"Yes," Sherlock breathes, as John withdraws his fingers and reaches down to part Sherlock's buttocks. "Yessss ..."

Even though it's almost exactly the same as before, pushing into him a second time is every bit as thrilling as it was the first, and John has to bite his lip against the pleasure rushing in on him from every single point of contact between them. He takes a moment or two to steady his breathing, and forces himself to think of Mrs Hudson and Mycroft, and even Moriarty, until he's sure he's not going to come the instant he starts moving.

Trust Sherlock to get impatient. "What are you waiting for?" he demands. "No - don't tell me. You feel guilty. Man like you, pillar of the community, over-developed sense of personal responsibility, army-trained, excessive respect for the chain of command ... you think it's not right. Can't go shagging the boss." Sherlock snorts derisively, and the sound vibrates pleasantly through John's body.

"You are not my-"

"No," Sherlock interrupts, shaking his head. "It's not that. It's ... concern. Doctorly concern. First, do no harm. You think you hurt me and I'm too stubborn to admit it ... No, wait! It's not that either! Argh - stupid! Stupid. It's performance anxiety. Fear of premature ejaculation. You've always wanted me, right from that first afternoon at Bart's. Your body gave you away, John - dilated pupils, the catch in your voice, the way you couldn't take your eyes off me - and now you've finally got me, you're afraid you're not going to last. That I’ll be disappointed and won't ever want to do it with you again. You couldn't bear that so-"

John cuts Sherlock's detectively analysis short by driving into him hard. Sherlock rears up, dragging in a surprised breath, then relaxes, chuckling a little. "That's better, John. Much, much better. Do that again."

John curves his body in closer, so that his mouth brushes Sherlock's ear. "Shut up, Sherlock," he says, but thrusts again anyway.

Sherlock says nothing, just makes another of those needy, nasal sounds and all John wants to do is produce more of them. He thrusts, slow and deep, setting up a rhythm and taking his time, savouring each push and each pull, every flutter and every contraction, each and every one of the noises Sherlock makes as they rock against each other.

Sherlock's breathing is getting laboured, the grinding of his hips into the pillow beneath them more frantic. He twists his head to one side, and raises his chin, offering John his throat. "Mark me, John," he pants. "Mark me again."

Hearing Sherlock ask for such a thing is nearly more than John can handle, and he feels orgasm fast approaching. By some enormous effort of will, by drawing on the strict discipline of the parade ground and the battlefield, he manages to beat it back, and lowers his head to suck - gently at first, then sharp and hard - on Sherlock's sweat-salty skin. Sherlock writhes and moans, urging him on, encouraging John to use his teeth, to graze and nip, until at last he seems so overcome with desire that he pushes up from the bed and gets onto his hand and knees. John goes with him, still thrusting, still rocking into him.

"My penis, John," Sherlock says, surprisingly coherent despite the way he's struggling to breathe. "Work it. Now."

It's the most exciting thing John has ever heard and again his orgasm looms close, tightening his belly and dancing over his skin. He wraps his hand around Sherlock's hot, hard dick and starts to pump. Sherlock shudders, making John shudder too, and it's nearly too much to bear. Even John's desperate evocation of Mycroft's image doesn't help much; it's too easy to remember that he's Sherlock's brother, and that Sherlock himself is trembling beneath him.

"The hair, John!" Sherlock cries. "Do that thing with my hair!"

John is on the brink of coming. The words don't make sense and it's too much effort even to try to understand them.

"Pull it!" Sherlock instructs breathlessly. "Pull!"

Bemused but too far gone to ask questions, John complies. Still working Sherlock's increasingly slippery dick with one hand, he snatches the hair at the nape of his neck with the other and yanks on it. Sherlock's body arcs like a bow, his head falls back onto John's shoulder, and the next tug on his dick draws a long, howl of pleasure from him and coats John's hand with warm and sticky wetness. One more thrust and John is coming too, the fingers of his left hand still tangled in Sherlock's hair, and those of his right still curled around Sherlock's slowly softening dick. It's amazing, extraordinary. Like fireworks exploding against a still and silent sky, and if John had any energy left at all, he'd feel like singing. He slumps bonelessly against Sherlock's back and together they collapse onto the bed, Sherlock breathing heavily and John sure he must be grinning from ear to ear. When John is able to move again, he lets himself slip out of Sherlock's body and rolls over onto his back to doze.


It's traffic noise - the bump and rattle of vehicles passing over the roadworks outside Speedy's and the wail of a distant car alarm - drifting up from the street, that finally brings him round. The time must be getting on. He should probably be thinking about getting to the surgery, although he'd much rather lie here in Sherlock's embrace.

Except, of course, Sherlock doesn't do embracing. Nor does he do blissful post-coital snoozing, John discovers when he turns to look at him. He's sitting up in bed, slapping on a third nicotine patch and looking somewhat pained.

Instantly, John feels a pang of guilt. "Are you okay?" he asks, dragging himself into a sitting position too.

"Hmm? Yes. Fine," Sherlock replies, looking anything but. He's pursing his lips and there are deep frown lines on his forehead. "Well, you know ... " He shrugs.

"No. I really don't. Tell me. What's the matter?"

"You. Me." Sherlock waggles a hand. "It."

"It?"

"The sex, John!" Sherlock cries, as if it should have been obvious. "It happened again!"

"I though you wanted it to happen again," John murmurs, risking a smile.

"Yes. Well ... yes. But it was an experiment ..."

"An experiment?" John feels suddenly sick. Sick, and angry. "You bastard."

Sherlock looks at him with blank incomprehension for a moment, then laughs. "I was testing a hypothesis, John. To determine whether you made me howl that first time because the experience was new to me. It would appear that this was not the case. Apart from a few insignificant details, that was an identical performance - which is not to say it was unenjoyable - and yet I was still ... loud."

John's sense of relief is like slipping into a warm bath. "Well, you never know" he suggests with a grin, "perhaps you're a screamer."

Sherlock tosses his head and gives a haughty sniff. "I am not."

"Sherlock, you've never had sex before," John says. "How would you know?"

Sherlock hesitates. "At school - once - in a spirit of enquiry and purely in the interests of science, you understand ...There was no penetration involved ... well, I'll spare you the sordid schoolboy details, but I did not scream. I did not howl. I made no noise at all. And I certainly didn't want to do it again. Ever. Therefore there must be some other explanation. Pass me my computer."

“Which is where exactly?” John asks, scanning the room to no avail.

"Living room table."

The idea of telling Sherlock to get his own bloody computer crosses John's mind but he's on the side of the bed nearest the door, so he supposes it makes more sense for him to go and get it, and besides, he's feeling particularly well disposed towards Sherlock at the moment. Because, as near as damn it, he just admitted he wants them to have sex again.

There's a slight tightness in John's thigh muscles as he gets up from the bed but he decides he rather likes it; it'll be day-long reminder of the night - and morning - before.

"Here," he says when he returns with Sherlock's computer. "Listen, I should get to work. If you're sure you're okay?"

Sherlock has opened his laptop and is already typing. "Of course I'm okay. Why wouldn't I be?"

A full and medically detailed explanation is on the tip of John's tongue, but he bites it back. "Just make sure you have a shower. A proper one. And if you're at all, um, uncomfortable, use a bit more of this." He moves the tube of salve pointedly closer.

Sherlock says nothing, doesn't even look up, so with a fond smile, John leaves him to his researches and heads off for his own shower, and from there to work.


John's day passes in a pleasant blur of routine tests and undemanding patients: an over-anxious first-time mum, a handful of throat infections, an assessment for disability allowance and a case of food poisoning. Sarah is nice to him, though not so nice that he has to feel guilty about it. The sun shines, birds twitter in the bushes outside his open window and, every time his thigh muscles twinge, he thinks of Sherlock.

On his way home picks up a luxury fish pie from M&S and a nice bottle of rioja, though the evening is such a beautiful one he wonders if going out to eat might be a better idea. Humming happily at the thought, he opens the front door and mounts the stairs.

Sherlock is lying flat out on the settee, long legs draped over the arm at one end, and with his hands pressed together palm to palm under his chin. He's still wearing his dressing gown, but he's put on a pair of pyjama bottoms. He doesn't move.

"I'm home," John says, feeling slightly deflated at the lack of a welcome.

"Yes," Sherlock agrees without even opening his eyes.

He's the same as ever, John realizes. There's been no change in him at all. Which, now John comes to think of it, is perfect. He smiles. He's not sure what he would have done with a normal Sherlock anyway. "It's a lovely night," he says, taking the pie and wine through to the kitchen. "D'you fancy going out?"

"No. Busy."

"A new case?" There's no answer, so John puts the shopping away and puts a kettle on to boil. "Cup of tea?"

There's another long silence and then Sherlock leaps up from the settee, eyes shining with the light of discovery. He strides into the kitchen and grasps John by both arms. "John!" he cries, spinning him around. "I've been an idiot!"

"You have?"

"Yes." Sherlock gives an emphatic nod. "Take your clothes off."

John blinks. "Take my ... I'm sorry, what?"

"Clothes, John - clothes!" Sherlock says, plucking at them. "Take them off. Now."

He seems so agitated, that John peels off his sweater and tosses it onto a chair. "Any chance you're going to tell me what this is about?"

Sherlock smiles. Leans in and presses a brief kiss to his lips. "It's about sex, John," he says, somehow managing to sound patronizing and utterly irresistible at the same time. "Can't have sex with your clothes on. Well, technically, of course, you can - but I'd rather you were naked."

Sherlock's words hit John like a low blow to the stomach, taking his breath away. He swallows, trying to be sensible, trying to ignore the pulse in his dick and the roaring in his ears. Sherlock has an addictive personality, he tells himself. He probably shouldn't encourage it. "Um, that would be very nice but ... don't you need some recovery time? A day off?"

Sherlock's brows pull together. "Recovery? Oh! I see. No, you misunderstand, John. I'd like to take you up on your offer to - how exactly did you put it? Oh yes - 'do you'."

The kettle comes to the boil with a rush of steam and a sharp click. John's legs feel like they're about to give out from under him. "Oh."

"Your room, I think," Sherlock says, already moving towards it. "Mine is a little lived-in."

Numbly, John follows him.

"It's very tidy in here," Sherlock observes, as he enters, removing his dressing gown. He leaves it where it falls. "Anderson would probably call you anal."

He'd be right, John thinks. His room looks like one from the barracks: not a thing out of place, all his clothes neatly folded and put away, the bed made with crisp, military precision. That was his old life, and this is the last little remnant of it.

Sherlock takes his pyjama bottoms off and kicks them aside. He's still soft. Even so, his dick is long and substantial amidst the dark cloud of his pubic hair. John licks his lips. He is not soft - far from it. How could he be when, minutes from now, Sherlock will be inside him? Every nerve in his body is buzzing with anticipation and his left hand is treacherously steady as he unzips his trousers.

Leaving John to finish undressing, Sherlock throws himself onto the narrow bed and bounces on it a couple of times, as if calibrating its spring. John tries not to think too hard about why he'd want to do that, but it doesn't work and for a moment he finds himself caught in the no man's land between trepidation and excitement.

Sherlock smiles. "John."

John clears his throat. "Sherlock." He walks over and sits down beside him on the bed. It creaks. John hadn't noticed it did that before.

Sherlock puts an arm around him. "Kissing first, yes? You like kissing."

The way he says it - like it's weird and possibly a bit girly - pisses John off. "And I suppose you don't," he says, defensively.

Sherlock looks genuinely uncertain. "Haven't really thought about it." He cups John's face between his hands and kisses him - slow and soft and gentle - and despite John's medical background, and his more-than-adequate experience in such things, he's almost startled by how wet Sherlock's mouth is, how real and hot it is, how very hard his teeth feel. John's bones are on the point of dissolving, when Sherlock pulls away. "You know," he grins, "I think I do."

"You don't sound very sure."

Sherlock's grin gets wider. "Need more data." And now he gets serious. Serious in a way that John's sure only Sherlock is capable of. All that sharp brilliance seems to twist down to a single, blinding focal point - a kiss so deep and intense, John can scarcely remember his own name when it's over. "Yes," Sherlock reports, apparently satisfied with his experiment. "I definitely do. See?" Arching a brow, he looks down pointedly at his groin.

John isn't capable of replying. He just hopes he's not looking too stupidly dazed.

"There wasn't much left of that stuff of yours, so I got some supplies," Sherlock goes on, indicating John's bedside table. There's a tube of KY Jelly on it, and a trio of foil wrappers that can only contain condoms.

John can't believe it. "You ... you went out and bought ... those?"

"I sent Mrs Hudson."

Horrified, John leaps to his feet. "You did what? Are you insane! No - don't answer that. You're an idiot."

Sherlock gives a little huff of indignation, folds his arms and twists his body away from John. "I thought you'd be pleased," he mutters, then swivels back round again, defiant. "You're always wittering on about how I never shop and how there's nothing in the fridge."

"But you sent Mrs Hudson!" John cries, tearing at his hair. "She knows!"

"Oh, don't be ridiculous," Sherlock sneers. "Of course, she knows. And she's perfectly fine with it." All of a sudden Sherlock's expression switches from contemptuous to self-deprecating, and he pulls a wry face. "Besides, if I'd gone, god only knows what would be on that table now."

It's an attempt at reconciliation, John knows, and he's grateful for it. He smiles. "You'd have done fine. You'd have researched it first."

Sherlock looks pleased by the flattery. "I would. And I wouldn't have wasted money on condoms either."

"I see the message about safe sex has passed you by, then. Like the workings of the solar system."

"Listen," Sherlock protests. "Less than twenty-four hours ago, I was still a virgin, so no problem there. And although your technique suggests you've been around, you haven't slept with anyone since you last got tested."

"You can't possibly know that," John says, because that's what he always tells his patients, but even as the words leave his mouth, he knows he's wrong.

"Sarah," Sherlock counters instantly, nostrils flaring at even the mention of her name, "was the first and only woman with whom you've had any reasonable prospect of intercourse since your return from Afghanistan - and she made you sleep on the sofa. And whilst you personally have no objection to sleeping with men, you know others do - otherwise you wouldn't have felt the need to tell me the possibility of my having a boyfriend was fine with you - so it's not something you would ever actively pursue in a city of strangers. Ergo, you are certified clean and wholesome. Besides, you're so very moral, you would never have slept with me if you'd had even the slightest concern you might pass something on."

"Very clever," John says, but it sounds sarcastic. "No, seriously, it was. Very clever."

Sherlock preens a little and it ought to be annoying, but it isn't. It's funny, endearing. "Yes. I am," he says, opening the KY Jelly and squirting some onto his hands. "And now I'm going to prove it to you. Lie back."

John's earlier excitement - half-forgotten during their row - comes back all in a rush. His throat is tight as he lowers himself onto the bed and the pulse in his dick so strong it's making it jump against his belly. It's impossible to breathe normally. Particularly when Sherlock nestles in beside him, gives him the lightest of kisses and straight away starts stroking his dick. John goes tense all over, tries not to breathe at all: Sherlock's beautiful, elegant hand is wrapped around his dick. John would love to watch it as it moves slowly but firmly up and down, but he daren't. He doubts he'd last much more than a couple more pulls if he did, and Sherlock's caress is far too blissful to be over so soon.

"Any good?" Sherlock asks.

John squeezes his eyes shut. His mouth feels horribly dry. "Very."

Sherlock moves closer and then his voice - all gravel - is in John's ear. "Good."

Try as he might, John can't keep his breathing slow and even. It keeps speeding up, getting shallower. He can't keep his hips still either; they cant up each time Sherlock's hand moves down, and there's nothing John can do to stop them. He's pretty damn helpless when he feels the tickle of Sherlock's hair on his chest too, and when Sherlock's tongue flicks lightly at a nipple, there's no way he can hold back a desperate groan that's half 'Stop!' but much more 'Please don't'.

"Close?" Sherlock asks, stopping. "No, don't bother answering that. Get onto your front."

John may be trained to follow orders but he's not submissive in any way ... and yet Sherlock's commanding tone sends a little thrill of excitement up his spine. He rolls over.

And now he's nervous. Sherlock doesn't know how to do this; John should have explained it to him; he's only going to have himself to blame if this is awful. But Sherlock inserts first one, then two, then three generously lubricated fingers into John with such a staggering amount of confidence and skill, that John can scarcely credit he's new at this. Then he realizes Sherlock must have spent the entire day googling 'anal sex'. A giggle rises in his throat at the thought, but it's cut off abruptly by the unnerving speed and accuracy with which Sherlock locates his prostate. The jolt of pleasure the pressure of his fingers sends through him is so pure and overwhelming that the soles of his feet, and even the palms of his hands tingle with electricity. Bloody hell, Sherlock is a fast learner.

"Enough," John gasps. "I'm ready. More than ready."

Sherlock climbs on top of him and settles between his legs. His fingers trace the scar on John's shoulder, and John flinches, aware of how ugly it must look, how very unlike the smoothness of Sherlock's perfect skin. "Not exactly an Adonis these days," he says, embarrassed.

"Older," Sherlock murmurs. "Wiser. Stronger." And he presses his mouth to the ridged and bumpy skin, then to the base of John's neck.

Reassured, John exhales - only to drag in his next breath at the feel of Sherlock's hands on his backside, easing his buttocks apart.

For someone so inexperienced, Sherlock is surprisingly controlled and careful as he pushes into John; his unfamiliarity with the act betrayed only by a failure to give John any time to get accustomed to the sensation of fullness before he starts moving. Not that John thinks he could ever get accustomed to Sherlock being inside him. Hell will probably freeze over first.

With the burn of penetration fast fading, John begins to move too, matching Sherlock's rhythm. He tries to push up from the bed for a bit more leverage, but Sherlock won't let him, pressing him down instead. John doesn't complain; he's perfectly happy doing it Sherlock's way.

Until, that is, he feels a sudden - and bloody sharp - pain in his neck. "Ow! Christ, Sherlock! Did you just bite me?"

"You bit me!" Sherlock retorts. "I have the marks to prove it!"

John grinds his teeth, reminds himself that Sherlock's only real sexual experience has been with him. "I didn't bite you," he says, with as much patience as he can muster, given the way his sternocleidomastoid muscle is throbbing. "That was a love bite. Sucking. A bit of nibbling. Did you break the skin?"

Sherlock examines the injury by prodding at it. "Only a little. Just a pin prick or two. Will you live?"

"Probably. Just don't do it again."

"Pity," Sherlock says wistfully. "It felt rather dramatic and thrilling. But agreed. No actual biting."

"No pain of any sort," John says, just so they're clear.

Sherlock kisses his scar again. "No pain," he says, pulling out of John an inch or two and sinking back in with a little shudder and gasp of pleasure. "No more pain." When he thrusts again, it's slow and careful - as if John were made of glass.

"Sherlock ..."

"Yes?" Sherlock's voice sounds strained, as if he's having to marshal every last bit of his self-discipline to ensure he keeps his promise.

"You can go harder. Honestly."

"I can? Really? Thank god for that!" And he does. And it's good - great, even - right up until the moment he decides to seize as much of John's longer-than-usual hair as he can get a grip on and try to rip it out by the roots.

John yells in pain and twists out from under him, wincing slightly at the sting of the sudden withdrawal. As Sherlock flails in surprise, John shoves him onto his back and pins his wrists to the bed. John is breathing heavily, but Sherlock is panting, his irises mere thin slivers of blue around the huge, black circles of his pupils. "Let me up," he growls.

John shakes his head. "I don't think so. Not until you tell me what the hell you think you're playing at."

There's a long silence, during which Sherlock smoulders angrily and tries to free his hands, first by simply pulling, then by trying to topple John over. Neither works; Sherlock's no slouch when it comes to defending himself but John is a trained soldier - in unarmed, as well as armed, combat. When it's finally clear to Sherlock that he's not going anywhere until John lets him, he bites his lip and looks away. "I was trying to make you howl," he admits in a small, shamed voice.

It's so ridiculous, John laughs. "Well, congratulations. You managed it."

Sherlock narrows his eyes. "Not like that. Like I did."

Warmth blossoms in John's chest. Sherlock is impossible, insane and unbelievably innocent. He lowers his head and kisses him. "Idiot."

"What! Why?"

"Because."

John kisses him again, and as the kiss deepens and gets more hungry, Sherlock starts to writhe and strain against John's hold on his wrists. Interestingly though, his efforts are much less determined than before and, despite their coitus interruptus, his dick has lost none of its heat or hardness.

"I think I've solved your case for you," John smiles when they eventually have to break for air.

"You have?"

"Yeah. You, Sherlock, have a little kink. You like it a bit rough. And I pushed your buttons."

"Me? A kink? Don't be absurd. I don't have any buttons. I'm not even interested in sex!"

John wraps a hand around Sherlock's dick, and gives it a quick squeeze that makes his head slam back into the pillows. "I'd have to ask Lestrade to be sure," he teases, "but I think this here is some pretty conclusive evidence to the contrary."

"Shut up!"

"Fine," John chuckles. "You're not interested. Shall I go and make us a nice cup of tea instead? Crack open the Garibaldis?"

Sherlock opens his mouth to say something, but seems to think better of it, and laughs instead. "If you do," he promises, "the next body Lestrade finds will be yours. But I'm not a pervert."

"I didn't say you were," John says. "I said you had a little kink. A little one. It's nothing to worry about."

"That's your diagnosis, is it, Doctor?"

"Yeah." John knows he ought to at least try not to look smug, but he can't help it. Getting the upper hand with Sherlock - figuratively and literally - is too rare an occurrence not to revel in.

"Hmmph," Sherlock grunts. "So what's your kink?"

"Haven't got one," John tells him confidently. "Or if I do, no-one's ever found it."

Sherlock's eyes glitter. "Get onto your back, John."

John gets onto his back. He's hugely relieved that getting it wrong the first time hasn't put Sherlock off wanting to try again for Sherlock's sake, but he's gladder still for his own. The gleam in Sherlock's eyes is verging on obscene and may well be the hottest thing John has even seen.

"Legs spread," Sherlock says, with a little fingers-together, sideways wave of his hand to indicate exactly how far apart he wants them. When he's satisfied they're wide enough, he kneels between them and sits back on his heels. Pressing his palms together, he taps the forefingers of both hands thoughtfully against his lips and murmurs, "Now, let me think. What does this body want?"

"I'd've thought that was obvious," John says, lifting his hips from the bed on the off-chance Sherlock needs a clue. "Even to a genius."

It's as if he hadn't even spoken. Sherlock is gazing at his body, as if everything he needs to know is written there, in ways far more obvious than John's straining dick could ever be. He runs a finger down the centre of John's chest, and follows the line down, from Adam's apple to sternum to navel. "Soft," he says, pressing his finger lightly into the flesh at John's waist. "This is a man who likes to eat."

John cringes. He's put on weight since he was invalided home, but he didn't think it showed too badly. Until now. "Are you saying I'm fat?"

"I'm saying," Sherlock replies, eyes still glued to John's stomach, "it's obvious you're a man who has appetites." His hands glide out to John's hips and cup the bones, long fingers exploring the hollows of his pelvis, front and back. His touch is light but electric, and John tenses involuntarily. "A lot of muscle here, even if some of it has gone soft from under-use."

"Thanks," John says. "Thanks a lot for pointing that out."

Sherlock continues, oblivious. "So, this is a body whose fitness is of necessity, not vanity. Purposeful. The body of a man trained to serve others, not himself. A good man's body. The question is: what does a good man want?"

"He wants a shag," John says. "Any time now would be fine."

Sherlock kisses him. "All in good time, Doctor. Proper treatment requires correct diagnosis."

John grits his teeth. Partly to stop himself from yelling in frustration but mostly because he feels a sudden need to moan and expose his throat to Sherlock's teeth again.

Sherlock's hands leave John's hips and move to his hair. He rubs a few strands of it between a thumb and forefinger. "Smooth," he notes. He combs his fingers through it. "Silky. Clean. No product. Definitely not a vain man." He leans forward, placing a hand on the bed beside John's head to steady himself as he takes a closer look. "The odd grey strand."

"Again, thanks."

"I merely observe," Sherlock says. He smiles. "It's nice hair, John. It suits you. Straight-forward. No pretence."

"Are you trying to be kind now?"

"Kind?" Sherlock raises an eyebrow. "I am not kind, John. As you yourself have pointed out. On more than one occasion."

John laughs. "Well, you have to admit you can be a colossal arse at times."

Sherlock smiles again, and touches the skin at the side of John's eyes. "Crows' feet," he says. "So not a young man and-"

"Colossal arse alert."

"I was going on to say 'and yet, these eyes are like those of a boy. Big. Wide. Even when he smiles. Bright. Full of warmth, enthusiasm. Honest.'."

"Okay," John concedes. "Alert downgraded to minor arse."

Sherlock sits on his heels again and runs his hands over John's shoulders and arms, over his chest and belly, at last drawing them in to John's groin, cupping his balls in one and his dick in the other. "This body," he says, and suddenly his consulting detective voice is gone, replaced by that deep rumble that sounds like a bass cello string being played agonizingly slowly. "This body has protected me, offered to sacrifice itself for me and ... given me more pleasure than I would ever have believed possible."

John's eyes feel funny. He'd blame it on dust, if he ever allowed his room to accumulate any. "Flatterer."

"I don't flatter, John. I speak the truth, warts and all. You don't have any warts, do you? I haven't noticed any but-"

"Sherlock - shut up."

"Gladly," Sherlock says, shifting forward to kiss him. They're chest to chest now, and Sherlock's had to let go of John's balls so that he can prop himself up on an elbow, but he's still holding John's dick and stroking it lightly. "Can we do it like this?" he asks. "With you on your back?"

"I might not be young," John says, "but there's nothing wrong with my hips."

"Indeed, not," Sherlock agrees, as John tilts his pelvis to get a leg up and around Sherlock's waist. "Can you do that with the other one as well?"

John can. And does. He locks his ankles too, just to prove just how not-old and flexible he is. But suddenly it's not about any of that any more. It's not even about the sex. It's about opening up, trusting. John shivers and closes his eyes.

"Don't do that, John," Sherlock says. "Look at me."

Reluctantly, John opens his eyes again. Sherlock is gazing down at him and the look in his eyes all but melts John's spine. He takes a deep breath, and lets it out.

Sherlock does the same, and as he exhales, he pushes in - hard and thick and hot. His head tips back as he sinks in further, and his mouth falls open, and John's heart doesn't seem to know whether it wants to beat faster or simply dissolve. Sherlock makes the decision for it, by pulling out and pushing in again. Fast, it is then. John's legs tighten reflexively around Sherlock's waist.

As Sherlock thrusts again, John pushes up to meet him. Another thrust, and John squeezes every muscle he can think of as tight as it will go.

Sherlock gasps, shudders, thrusts again. "Amazing," he says, pressing in deeper. "You. This. Amazing."

John's eyes feel funny again. Bloody dust. He kisses Sherlock's chest and tastes salt. He licks, nibbles and sucks, and Sherlock makes another of those wonderful nasal sounds, and when he drives into John again, it's much more roughly and less in control, even if he's still keeping eye contact, and looking into John's eyes as if he can see right into his soul.

"You're staring," John pants, feeling award, self-conscious.

"No. I'm. Not," Sherlock replies, each word punctuated by a ragged breath, as he keeps moving, keeps thrusting. "I'm watching. Noticing."

"Noticing?"

"Your face. What you like. How you like it." He slides a hand between them and wraps it around John's dick.

"Oh god," is all John can manage in reply.

"Your throat. It goes tight, when you want more."

John's toes curl.

"You go tense," Sherlock notes, thrusting again and pumping John's dick in long, slow pulls. "When I do something you especially like."

John realizes he's arching his back so hard that his heels are digging into Sherlock's buttocks. "Oh god," he rasps. "Oh god."

Sherlock's hand moves faster, his hips too. "And you call on mythical beings - repeatedly - prior to orgasm."

"Oh god, oh god, oh god," John moans, thrashing his head now, feeling like some poor, defenceless creature under Sherlock's microscope, and loving every damn second of it.

But he's not the only one desperately aroused. Sherlock is beginning to shudder and his face is bathed in sweat. He kisses John's mouth, his jaw and throat, in rapid succession, then does it again and again, the pattern ever more random as his hips rock harder.

John is right on the edge. One more thrust, one more tug on his dick and he'll fall. He grabs Sherlock's head, twisting the hair at the back around his fingers. Sherlock's nostrils flare and his eyes flash. A warning not to go there. John ignores it and pulls.

And Sherlock's cry of pleasure drowns his own.

They lie in a crumpled heap for a while, Sherlock's forehead pressed to John's shoulder, John's fingers playing absently with his hair as they get their breath back. Eventually Sherlock lifts his head. His sweat-damp skin pulls away from John's with a little sucking sound.

"That," John begins, smiling at him, as they unfold their limbs and straighten out. "That was-"

"Extraordinary?"

John doesn't much appreciate the implication that he's repeating himself. It makes him unwilling to confess that, yes, that's exactly what it was. "Maybe," is all he's prepared to offer.

"Nonsense," Sherlock snaps. "It was the best you've ever had. I've discovered your kink, John."

He's such a smart arse. He can't even bask for a bit without wanting to prove something. If John were feeling less mellow, he might be tempted to give him a clip around the ear. "Go on, then," he says, wearily. "Let's hear it."

"You like being seen. Really seen," Sherlock says smugly. "You like me looking at you. It scares you to death and you love it."

John swallows.

"You're doing that thing with your throat," Sherlock points out, ever helpful.

"I know that. It's my throat. Shut up."

Sherlock touches it. "I like it. Knowing."

John stiffens.

The corner of Sherlock's mouth twitches. "And you like me liking it. Knowing what you're feeling. You think it's dangerous."

"Yes." John's aware of how breathless he sounds, how much more he's giving away with every word he utters, and yet he can't help himself.

Sherlock kisses him. "You don't have to worry. Your kink is safe with me." He looks insufferably smug, but John nods anyway.

The truth is, he's relieved. Sherlock is a very clever man. A genius, without any shadow of a doubt. But he doesn't know everything.

John's kink isn't being seen.

It's being seen by Sherlock.