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Sherlock Holmes hated his entire life. He hated it a lot. He writhed where he lay, furrowing deeper into the sand. It was warm on top, but deeper down it was damp and cool. Sherlock focused on the way the coolness seeped through his shirt sleeve at the elbow. He scrubbed his cheek along the warm surface sand. Warm on top and cool below. Sherlock hated everything on earth.


The water roiled black around them and Sherlock clung desperately to John, one arm wrapped around his chest, hand fisted tightly into his jacket. Sherlock's shoes weighed like millstones at his feet, and his coat billowed with water, pulling him ever downwards. They rode up the face of a monstrous wave, plummeted sickeningly down the other side. Salt water invaded Sherlock's lungs; submerging himself to keep John's head from going under.

"Wake up, you fucking bastard!" he shrieked. He couldn't shed his coat without letting go of John.

 

John crouched at the edge of the shore, his torso bare and browning in the sun. The waves crept up and lapped at his ankles. He was fiddling with something, intestines. Squinting, Sherlock thought of loping up silent behind him, tackling him swiftly and biting his shoulder, right next to the scar. Hard. He would taste blood. Sherlock turned his nose into the sand. He rolled flat onto his stomach. He didn't feel like getting up, or he would bite John, and kick him for good measure. He would start a fight, let John knock some teeth loose. That's what Sherlock would do, if he could be arsed to move, which he couldn't. A very small crab crept by.


When John woke up, they were cresting a wave. He gasped and flailed his arms, forcing Sherlock further under. They slid down the back of the wave and in the trough Sherlock retched and sucked in a breath.

"Stop it, John, stop!" He fought to be heard over the roaring storm. Rain pelted their faces, and John spread his arms and legs into a dead-man's float.

"Sherlock?" he shouted. Sherlock pulled up close behind him, pressing his face to John's ear.

"Hang on," he said, though he was the one hanging on. He tasted blood amidst the salt and sea and rain, and knew it coursed thickly down the side of John's face. "Hang on, John," he called.


When the storm abated, they floated in the cold, dark water, warm only where they pressed together, shoulder and cheek. When the moon darted out, it caught thinly on the surface of the vast, black sea, then vanished so the dark spread infinitely in all directions. Sherlock heard John's breath clench into a shivering gasp. There was nothing they could do. Sherlock tread water slowly, steadily, fanning through the water with his free arm while John did the same, just keeping them afloat. Sherlock's knuckles hurt where they were stiff and cold, bunched tightly in the fabric at John's chest; Satan could not have prised them free. They tread water slowly and watched the night sky. Either they would drown or they wouldn't. It was still too early to tell.

 

The morning rose grey around them. Sherlock drifted, then choked back to wakefulness, hacking the sea from the back of his throat. He checked on John, whose face had washed clean except for the gash running temple to cheek. He had pitched from the boat at the height of the storm, careening into the railing and over, and Sherlock had followed without a thought, had only just managed to snatch his sleeve. That had been near midnight, so they had been approximately six hours adrift. The sun came up. More clouds moved in. A smattering of rain fell before the skies blew clear again. As the sun broke free it almost seemed warm. Sherlock supposed this was better than dying alone, as he would have done without John. It was perhaps a bit pathetic, but Sherlock was too cold, too tired to lie.

 

The sun was a few hours high when the blessed black smudge appeared on the horizon.

"About a mile," John said, voice hoarse from thirst and cold. Sherlock scissored his legs and began a stiff side stroke towards the land.

"Let go. I can swim," said John, but Sherlock's fist would not unclench. He paused and breathed, then willed his fingers to uncurl, painfully, slowly, cramped in a death grip in John's jacket. John helped him free, untangled the fabric, and promptly sank. Sherlock's voice froze in his throat, but John bobbed up a moment later, spitting and coughing.

"Fuck," he said, ducking under once more before turning onto his back and floating freely. The adrenaline had shot so fiercely through Sherlock's system that in its wake he felt frail and nauseous. The metallic taste of fear lingered on his tongue.

"Shoulder, leg," John explained. They had cramped with the cold. Sherlock began to struggle out of his coat and John turned in the water. "Keep that," he said quickly.

"It's been drowning me. I can't swim."

"I know, but we don't know - " John snaked in a breath, barely keeping afloat. "We need everything we have." That would include shoes, which Sherlock had intended to discard as well. This was going to be a very long mile.

"Can you swim that distance?" Sherlock asked.

John breathed some impression of a laugh. "I have to."


In an hour they had covered half the distance with a slow, lurching side stroke. In another hour they were four hundred yards out, and John began to drown.

"Sherlock!" he cried out. He had fallen a small distance behind, and Sherlock turned back quickly, struggling against the bulk of his coat and the leaden exhaustion in his limbs. John was clearly in great pain, written in the confusion in his face; memory fragmented with concussion and cold. He was dehydrated and probably hypothermic, lost at sea and crippled from a war. He was sinking, choking by the time Sherlock reached him, his panic only exacerbating the situation. He tried to climb atop Sherlock, clutching his hair, and Sherlock sank heavily. Underwater, he twisted free and resurfaced behind John, wrapping one arm again around his chest.

"Calm down," he commanded. John was retching and crying, spitting up seawater, and Sherlock struggled to keep them afloat.

"What the fuck!"

"We fell off the boat, John. Calm down." This wasn't the first time Sherlock had explained this. John stilled. He spread out his limbs in a dead man's float.

"Sorry. I'm sorry," he gasped. He took heaving breaths.

"It's alright. We're nearly there." Sherlock wouldn't risk John swimming on his own, not when he was this tired. He set his sight on the island and towed John the rest of the distance. When he reached the shore he let John go, then crawled away and vomited, nothing but water, still salty and scratching the back of his throat.

 

Sherlock rolled lazily onto his back and looked at the sky. It was a patchwork blue, with billowing cumulus in greys and white. Thin cirrus clouds swept across the upper strata. Sherlock breathed in a long breath. The wind was cool, as always, but he had hit a patch of sunlight and he caught its warmth upon his face. It was relentlessly painful in a way that had nothing to do with the sun, that lodged in the back of his throat and crept up hot behind his eyes. Sherlock rolled back onto his side and looked at John, down by the water. He rose to his feet and crept up silently. John was soaking seal intestine in the water, pulling it into a thin tight line, washing away the stiffness from having been dried in salt and sun. Sherlock stepped so that his shadow fell on John, on his face, so he would know Sherlock was there. Slowly Sherlock knelt over him, pressed his chest along John's back, pressed his cheek against the scar. He wrapped his arms around John's waist, stealing his warmth for himself. He kissed John, right beside the scar. He tasted salt.


Water was their first priority. It was noon, which meant neither of them had imbibed any fluids but seawater in at least twelve hours. Plenty of time left before they croaked, but first things first. They were on a craggy outcropping of land, stony cliffs to one side, and Sherlock had had to tack around before he had found a suitable place to come ashore; a narrow strip of sand surrounded by jagged rocks. Collected in some of these were pools of water from the recent storm, and Sherlock and John both shamelessly sucked them dry. Wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, Sherlock considered that in this part of the world, where the annual rainfall was legendary, they would likely manage to survive for some time even without a direct source of fresh water.

John had leaned back against a rock with his eyes squinted shut. He was still in considerable pain but was warm enough at least to shiver. He followed Sherlock as he picked a path to higher ground. Assess the surrounding, find shelter, food, fire. Sherlock's stomach lurched and he dug into his pocket with panic tight in his throat. His fingers closed around his magnifying glass, and he was so grateful he hadn't shed his coat his knees almost gave and he felt dizzy.

"Alright?" John asked.

"I'm fine."


There was something of a grassy knoll a short distance up the hill, though the grass this time of year was overgrown and gone to seed. Sherlock settled John against a high rock and helped him out of his sodden jumper, then cloaked him in the greatcoat and told him to wait.

The island was largely barren, aside from a few low shrubs. Sherlock estimated the highest accessible point on the island to be approximately sixty feet, giving him between nine and ten miles visibility to the horizon, which was dotted with tiny islands, little more than rocky protrusions in an otherwise empty sea. The side on which they had washed up would likely prove more accessible to nautical traffic, and it was, after all, the direction from which their own craft had been headed.

Sherlock started back towards the shore, stopping to hack apart a few dried, dead shrubs in case the sun emerged long enough to start a fire. Rounding the coast he spied a stony beach with a collection of fat seals strewn about, lazily pulling the heat from the rocks. Excellent. Sherlock weighed their size against the pocket knife he had with him and found his current resources woefully lacking. They would have to think of something else, but it was good to know they were there.

When Sherlock returned to the tall rock, he found John had not waited as instructed, but had spread the coat and all but his underclothes out in the speckled sunshine. He had trampled flat a small clearing near the stones, and was relieving the surrounding area of its tall grass by crouching down and cutting near the root with the army knife he always carried. He had amassed quite a pile in the time Sherlock had been gone. When the sun set, they curled up in a nest of hay; on, beneath, and around themselves, with Sherlock's coat atop it all to keep out the drizzling rain.


They ate moss the following day. Sherlock showed John the beach where he had seen the seals. They weren't there at that hour, but they would probably return. There had been a few pups amongst them, which probably couldn't swim too far. It seemed late in the year for seal pups, but Sherlock admittedly knew nothing of their habits. In any event, they had no means to cook the meat at present, or store it. They spent the day filling rock basins with salt water, and a few of the shallow ones evaporated completely, leaving behind a thin salt residue which John collected in an oyster shell and stored in the corner of their tall rock camp, beneath the hay. John said they could use it to cure the seal meat if they collected enough of it. Sherlock knew this was true, but that made collecting it no less boring.

They managed to light a small fire by midday, using Sherlock's magnifying glass, small sticks, and strips of paper from his check book, which had survived the journey in his breast pocket. It boosted moral slightly, but they had nothing to cook over it. They found a small stream a short distance behind their camp, so they had water for lunch, and water for dinner, and small bits of moss which they found on stones. They curled up in their nest that evening, John against the tall rocks and Sherlock facing the fire. There were no predators on the island, but Sherlock didn't feel comfortable unless John were ensconced on the inside. It was warmer, at least, since their clothes had dried.

"We'll have to make some sort of proper shelter," John said. He was right, but it sounded ineffably tedious. Sherlock stared into the tiny flame, surrounded and partially covered with rocks to protect the hot coals at the bottom.


John began loading stones from the beach to their camp in preparation for some sort of wall. His movements remained stiff, and he had sustained massive bruises down the side of his body where he had hit the railing of the boat. He maintained that nothing was broken, that he would be fine, but Sherlock still kept a close eye on him, until loading up stones became, as predicted, too tedious to bear. Sherlock took a walk around the island. He was developing sunburn across his nose, and the wind in his ears was a dull, monotonous hush.

Sherlock spied the seals sunning once more, and his stomach rumbled in protest. They didn't have enough salt yet Perhaps enough for a baby one... Sherlock tensed and instinctively sank to the ground, eyes trained keenly on the seals. But a seal pup might feed them for a couple of days, and there was no way of knowing how long they would be stranded here. If Sherlock attacked the seals, it was possible they would retreat permanently to one of the smaller islands. He had no idea what seals would do.

Well. In any case, he had gone far longer without food in the heart of London, so a few more days collecting salt (good God) would hardly kill him. Sherlock cut down a bush and carried it back to camp.

John was stacking the rocks atop each other to form his wall around the nest, filling the cracks with straw and mud. It was coming along quite well, although he would need a lot more rocks to create anything decent. Sherlock watched him work, bare-chested and elbow deep in mud he had collected utilizing his jacket as a bag. John tanned well. He hadn't even a hint of burn. Sherlock watched his muscles work, the way they shifted beneath the scar. He dropped the bush to dry by the fire, then stood at the edge of the knoll and looked out over the ocean; vast and smooth, mercurial grey with hints of blue where it mirrored the sky.

 

John carved hooks from dense drift wood and strung them with wool unravelled from his jumper. He baited them with beetles he had taken to eating straight from the dirt. Most of them came up empty, some of the hooks snapped, but one brought in a fish, ten inches, and John held it up, grinning like it was the best thing he'd ever done. He gutted it there on the rocks, rebaited with its entrails, and caught two more within ten minutes. He could only bring in smaller fish, but he seasoned them carefully with their precious salt and cooked them on heated stones. Sherlock watched him in the dying light; intent on his task and almost happy. He looked at Sherlock across the fire and broke into a silly grin. Sherlock couldn't help but smile back.

That night Sherlock stared out across the darkness, John snoring gently at his back. He knew there was nothing dangerous on the island, so it was irrational that he should feel so afraid.

 

They went seal hunting. Over the course of five days they had gathered enough salt, John having found a flat, dipped stone to set over the coals, over which he poured seawater he collected in his shoes.

Sherlock had a club-like stick, driftwood he had found in his wanderings over the island. John had his army knife. They crouched downwind and looked down onto the beach, singling out the seal they would take. A big one. It might be the only seal they ever took, and they had to make it count.

They clambered nonchalantly down to the beach, clad in nought but their briefs and their shoes. The seals regarded them warily, but didn't make for the water until Sherlock dropped low and broke for the seal they had selected. It lumbered for the waves in a quick but slug-like motion, its body ill adapted for land mobility. They had selected the one furthest from the water, emboldened by what had heretofore been a dearth of predators on the island. Sherlock swung a crushing blow to the back of of its head - "They've got thin skulls," John had said, but it didn't stop struggling until John plunged the knife through its spinal column. He wrenched it free and the blood spurted once, then sluiced darkly down the speckled fur.

They paused a moment, breaths heaving. It had been too quick, too easy. Sherlock could feel the adrenaline searing unused through his bloodstream, and standing, panting, over John, he struggled with the sudden urge to pin him face down on the stones, to mark his neck with teeth and tongue and rut violently against him. Sherlock wiped his mouth against his arm and turned away. His arousal showed clearly through his briefs, and so did John's.

After a time, they began the laborious task of dragging the thing back to camp. Dark grey heads bobbed up off the shore and watched them with black and glistening eyes.

When they had made it up the hill, John sat heavily and said, "Good God," wiping the sweat from his brow. "Is this far enough, do you think?" Sherlock leaned his hands on his knees and caught his breath. The seal weighed three hundred pound easily, and they had basically carried it up a cliff.

"Bit farther, I should think," he said. He didn't know if it would make a difference, but if the seals would come back, he didn't want to discourage them by littering the beach with their companion's remains. They dragged the beast another two hundred yards before John carefully split its abdominal cavity, spilling its innards onto the ground.

"Hang on, though," he said, and then loped back to camp, returning with his jacket, since relegated to the containment of All Things Unpleasant. He tucked it around the seal guts so that no birds could get to it in the meantime. They finished dragging the eviscerated seal back to camp, though really the load was only marginally lighter without the organs.

Sherlock took the knife. He had his own, but John's was larger, and he set to skinning the seal.

"We'll scrape the fat off afterwards," he said. John had never skinned anything, but Sherlock knew enough from theory. Scrape the fat, salt it, let it dry. It would perhaps be necessary to work some of the oil back into the hide, but Sherlock wasn't entirely certain. In the case of the killer from whom he drew reference, modern tanning solutions had been available. Here they would simply have to make do.

They soaked the meat and edible organs in a hand-dug pool of seawater for the rest of the day. They were busy long past sundown stoking the fire and smoking the meat. John kept the lard and melted it down in oyster shells, in case it could somehow be useful. They didn't know what they were doing. But they ravenously ate their fill of seal meat and hoped the rain would hold off long enough to dry what was left.

John had fashioned a sort of roof over their shelter, using the twisted branches available to weave a gnarled lattice which he then stuffed full of grass. It looked ridiculous, but when he tacked up the greatcoat with sticks through the buttonholes to form a sort of door, the nights spent inside were halfway cozy. In a miserable, deserted island sort of way.

That night of course it began to rain, so the seal pelt and the salted meat spent the night inside the shelter, while John and Sherlock huddled together in the cold rain.

 

They had been eight days on the island. Sherlock crouched against a rock, the wind buffeting against his ears, pulling his hair into wild disarray. There had never been one single human on this island before him and John. There were no stone piles, bones, or curious mounds of earth. He and John were in a place where there had never, ever been any people. Ever. Sherlock breathed heavily through his nose, his jaw clenched firmly shut. Not one human, ever.

 

John was carving hooks from seal bone; simple, utilitarian forms with a double barb, notched at the top to secure the yarn from his dwindling jumper. Sherlock sat down beside him and took up a piece of bone. It took him hours to finish one, and in that time John had made three.

"That's too nice to throw in the ocean," John said. Sherlock had carved a hatched pattern into his hook and carefully smoothed the sides. With a put upon sigh he flicked the hook to John and rose to walk about the island.

It was windy every day, here. The shrubs bent sadly, lopsided with the prevailing salt-thick wind. The far side of the island was nothing but rock. Less salty, though, rinsed clean with rain. Sherlock had tasted every area, and the saltiest was obviously the rocks at the shore. The smooth, sedimentary protrusions on the far side had a somewhat chalky flavor, higher calcium content, while the camp side leaned more towards iron. Sherlock wanted desperately to return to London. He longed for it viscerally in a way that clutched in his chest, burning his lungs, searing the length of his arms until his fingers closed protectively around his palms. Sherlock ducked against the rocks, head bowed and arms wrapped tightly around himself. Tears stung hotly at his eyes and cooled immediately against his cheeks. He hated it here so much. A sob wrenched itself free of his throat, and then another, each carried off and lost on the ceaseless wind.

 

Twelve days. Sherlock carved another hook, drilling decorative divots into the side with the point of his blade. He had made several; some with wave patterns, one with a seal. He suspected John kept them all, because he had never seen one baited on a line. As the days passed Sherlock missed his Stradivarius the most. His fingers positively itched for it. The only sound outside the wind was John's off key singing under his breath as he patched the roof or stoked the fire. Sherlock's fingers finally slipped, and he cut a long gash into the pad of his hand, beneath the left forefinger. He watched the blood well up bright red - more like the fish they caught and not the seal, whose blood had been a deeper, richer hue. It trailed down the palm of his hand to his wrist, and the cut began to sting. He tilted his hand and the blood collected and dripped off the other side, into the packed earth surrounding their camp.

"Hey," John said, and crouched beside him. He took Sherlock's hand in his own and pressed his thumb alongside the cut. "Shit, we have to wash this out." He rose, but Sherlock didn't follow. John leaned down and placed a gentle hand on Sherlock's back. "Come on," he said.

Sherlock ignored him. He was clamping down on a vicious fury that welled up inside him and seeped out into the dirt with his blood. He hated everything. There was nothing for him but the wind in his ears.

"Sherlock," John said, and Sherlock lashed out with a sudden elbow, catching John in the stomach, then he leaped upon him with a primal scream tearing from the back of his throat. He grabbed John by the neck and slammed his head into the ground, then took a hard blow to the kidney as John retaliated, rolled them over, and gained the upper hand. They struggled ferociously in the dirt until John managed to snatch Sherlock's wrists and pin him on his side, one handed. Sherlock continued to writhe and scream, curling forward to bite John's hand. John struck a sharp blow to Sherlock's head, and used the subsequent daze to quickly remove his belt and wrap it around Sherlock's waist to secure his arms to his sides. He disappeared for a moment and returned with the greatcoat, which he wrapped round and buttoned closed before Sherlock had regained his bearings. He snatched off Sherlock's belt and used it to secure his legs at the knee, then dragged him some distance away from the camp while Sherlock took up a litany of curses, spitting and struggling uselessly.

"Get me off this fucking island, John," he shrieked. "Get me off this island!"

John threw him roughly to the ground. "Don't you think I would, if I could?"

He had made John cry, and he was glad. Sherlock's breath tore raggedly from him. Unable to escape, he began to bite at the coat collar and what he could reach of his shoulder.

"Sherlock, stop it!" John cried. He knelt down, but Sherlock lunged for him and he drew back sharply. "Stop," he pleaded, but Sherlock didn't. Eventually John retreated to the camp and Sherlock twisted on the ground, screaming until his voice gave out.

It was getting dark before John tried to approach him again. Sherlock had exhausted himself and he lay in a half stupor while John unfastened his impromptu restraints. He stroked Sherlock's hair, then helped him to his feet and half carried him to the fire. That night, with his hand wrapped in the sawed off hem of John's undershirt, Sherlock slept against the inner wall while John looked out into the dark.

 

Sherlock wasn't sure what had happened. He was in tears, and his mouth tasted of blood. He was wrapped in the coat again, immobilised on the ground. "Please, John. Please. Get me off this island, John, please." He had made John cry again but this time he wasn't glad.

 

They sat around the fire. It was some time late in the morning. Sherlock had a strip of seal jerky, but he wasn't eating it. John was tying broken bits of yarn together with knots he had learned in the army. Sherlock watched his fingers, and the way he held his tongue against his lower lip in concentration.

"We should have sex," Sherlock said. John paused, then looked up, eyebrows raised as though waiting for the conclusion of a joke. When none was forthcoming he said, "Um, no," a flush spreading up along his neck. Sherlock waited, but that, it seemed, was that. He rose with a heavy sigh and stalked off.

"Don't go too far," John called. Since Sherlock had gone crazy John had taken to telling him what to do. Sherlock went as far as the seal beach, but they hadn't returned.

 

Sherlock gathered the coat and the belts and retreated some distance from the camp. He slipped into the coat and sat on the ground, then secured one belt around his knees. Now. If he fastened the other belt somewhat loosely around his waist, he might be able wriggle his arms out of the sleeves and down into the coat, securing himself. He heard John come up along side him.

"You'll want to leave me alone for awhile," Sherlock said.

John took a moment, then said, "Need help?"

Sherlock sighed and dropped the belt, looking away across the ocean. John knelt, unbuttoned the coat, shucked it from Sherlock's arms and then resecured it around him, reaching around his waist to do up the second belt.

"Alright?"

Sherlock flopped over with his back to John, and heard him walk away.

 

When the sun began to set, John returned.

"Piss off," Sherlock growled, and spent the night outside.

 

Sherlock dreamed of a dog he had seen in a film as a child. It was a massive thing, of bearlike proportions, filthy and matted, and it attacked John while Sherlock was frozen in place, and it shook him and ripped his skin, tore open his stomach and took him apart, and when Sherlock awoke he was shrieking into the wind and struggling frantically against his binds. His face bit painfully into the ground as he squirmed, prying off his shoes, hooking a sock on his toe and pulling it off. He was able to unfasten his trousers , and he wriggled and kicked his legs until he could catch the hem between his toes, then he slowly pulled them off as well. He scraped against the ground, inching the coat over his head, and then he was free, and he stood up and spun frantically. It was windy and there was a drizzling rain, and Sherlock couldn't remember why he was afraid or what he had meant to do with his freedom. He staggered away into the dark, reached the end of the knoll, then tripped, slid, and tumbled down onto the beach. He curled up in the sand against some rocks, and listened to the waves pound a steady, brutal rhythm on the shore.

 

John found him early in the morning, stretched flat on the sand with the rising sun warming his face. Sherlock was tasting the sand, coating his tongue, and testing it against his teeth. He could hear it grinding, the sound traveling through his inner ear. Chickens, he knew, would consume small stones to aid their digestion process. Sherlock turned his head and scooped up a large mouthful of sand. Chewing it this way was different than having a few grains between his teeth. It was salty, of course, and clumped in his mouth. He heard John's footsteps through the earth, where his ear was pressed to the ground.

"Sherlock, please don't eat sand," he said. Sherlock tongued it out of his mouth, but a lot remained stuck up by his gums. He stretched his jaw, salivating, and tried to rinse the sand free with as little effort and movement as possible. John sat. He rested a hand on Sherlock's ankle and was quiet for a bit. He cleared his throat.

"Um," he began. Sherlock almost smiled. He liked most of John's sentences that began with 'um.' "Do you remember what you said," he paused. "About having sex?"

Sherlock's eyes snapped open. John haltingly continued.

"Well, did - um, I mean, we can, if you want to."

Sherlock raised himself up on one elbow and looked at John. He had removed his hand from Sherlock's ankle and was rubbing his thumb against the opposite palm, staring staunchly ahead.

"I do want to," Sherlock said. John's glance darted towards him.

"Okay. Um, well, good." He looked at Sherlock. His face was bright red, particularly the tips of his ears. "Ah, rinse your mouth out, though," he said. Sherlock rose quickly to his feet. Yes, his mouth was still quite gritty. He climbed up the hill and rinsed his mouth in the stream.

 

John was sitting near the morning remains of the fire, balancing a few sticks atop it to keep it going. Fueling the bloody fire was nearly a full time job, with no proper logs. This, however, was no longer Sherlock's concern (had it ever been?), and he cleared the straw to the foot of the shelter, spread the seal skin flat, then took up the seal skin, spread the straw in an even layer, and settled the seal skin on top of that. He tested it with his hands. Much better. The seal skin had a funny odor. Not decay, not quite, but it perhaps had not been tanned quite properly. That was of absolutely no consequence. Sherlock sat back and looked expectantly at John, who hesitated minutely.

"Take all that off," Sherlock instructed, and began unbuttoning his own shirt. He had lost his trousers somewhere, no matter. He stripped himself bare and waited for John to catch up. John carefully set his clothes atop the roof and awkwardly knelt.

"Lie flat," Sherlock said. John did.

Finally. Sherlock had John's entire body laid out before him, defenseless, at his mercy. Sherlock started at his toes. The nails had grown ragged and had collected crescents of dirt beneath them. He had cut his right foot on something, not a stone: an oyster shell along the beach. The wound was several days old, but Sherlock hadn't noticed a limp. It hadn't fully pierced the thick callus, had probably bled very little.

John's ankles were in good working order, narrow in relation to his calves, which were well shaped. John's legs were tanned from going sometimes trouserless on the island, but he usually wore his socks and shoes, so there was a subtle difference in skin tone. John's shins were dotted childhood scars; scraped knees and sports injuries. He had been active in his youth, a predilection that had carried over to adulthood. Of particular note was the long scar along his right outer knee. It was surgical and bespoke of an operation, recent enough to have been sustained in the war, but not grave enough to compromise mobility, hence the inconsistent limp. John's penis was uncircumcised and lay limp along the crevice of his thigh. The foreskin was dark and puckered at the end, resting against a nest of pale curls.

Navel; inverted, but barely. Sherlock had seen all these things in their time here. Necessity had long eclipsed modesty, but this was the first time he had been at leisure to examine. Swirls of darker, coarser hair swirled down to John's groin, and Sherlock grazed his fingertips along this. Softer than it looked. His pubic hair as well was finer than Sherlock's; blond hair nearly always was.

John's abdominal muscles were well formed, and prominent now with their limited diet. Broad pectorals, square shoulders, the scar, of course, which Sherlock had seen. John was staring resolutely at what passed for their ceiling, and Sherlock regarded him for a moment.

"I want you to suck me," Sherlock said. He was half hard already, and he positioned himself against the flatter of their stone surfaces, spreading his legs as John nestled himself between them. Haltingly, John lowered his head, his knees drawn beneath him and both hands braced on the ground. Sherlock watched him, rapt, breath ghosting from his parted lips. John took the head of Sherlock's penis in his mouth, and Sherlock breathed in sharply through his nose. Good. John tentatively tongued the head, and Sherlock gripped his own thighs, white knuckled. John sucked him further in, and Sherlock's attention honed in solely on the slide of his shaft between John's slick lips: it was fantastic to watch. John's head bobbed, his nose brushing Sherlock's skin, and when he came back up Sherlock's cock glistened with his saliva. Sherlock watched his head move, watched the way his cheeks hollowed when he figured out the suction. And he sucked Sherlock's cock, and when pleasure spiralled through Sherlock's veins, he seized John's head in both hands and stopped him with his mouth right at the tip. He wanted to watch just this, just John with his lips at the end of Sherlock's erection, the whole length of it before him. Sherlock rammed his hips upward, and at the same time he jerked down on John's head, once, twice. John gagged and tried to twist away, but Sherlock held him firmly. John belonged to him now. He choked on Sherlock's staff but Sherlock didn't let him go.

Sherlock guided John away from him and rolled them over so that John was positioned beneath him. He trailed his nose along John's chest and nuzzled the hair at his navel, then suddenly drew still. There seemed to be no sound, not even the wind. Not the ocean, not the rustling grass, or the snapping sound of the fire. There was just John's jagged breathing. He was tense and still. Something was wrong. It was Sherlock. Sherlock was very, very wrong, and the thought twisted unpleasantly inside him. Why was he wrong, what had happened? Sherlock tried to collect himself and make sense of what had happened. He pondered this with his forehead pressed to John's hip. He had frightened his John, he had hurt him.

They were on the island. They had fallen off the boat. They had killed a seal. They had cut it up and cooked it, and Sherlock had dreamed of a dog and fallen onto the beach, and then John had come and they were here. Sherlock took long, even breaths. They were on the island because they were usually in London. That's where they were from, from Baker Street. The fire sound started up, then the ocean, then the wind. Sherlock gave a shuddering sigh, and planted a delicate kiss on John's hip. He sought John's neck and kissed below his jaw. John lay very still. Sherlock rolled off him and pulled him in close, tucking his head beneath his chin.

"John," Sherlock said, and it was a question, uncertain.

"Yeah."

Sherlock shuddered and squeezed John tightly, and rubbed his cheek against John's ear. He breathed. After a time John began to relax, and Sherlock nuzzled his head up, carefully seeking his lips. He kissed him softly, rolled him slowly onto his back and kissed him deeper, capturing his lower lip, caressing. With a gentle breath, John opened his mouth, the tip of his tongue awaiting Sherlock's. Sherlock met him and pressed heavily in, one hand smoothing down John's side to thread through the curls at John's groin. John arched up into him, his fingertips hesitant at Sherlock's hip, his shoulder, his jaw. In the midst of a kiss, Sherlock began to smile, then laugh. John pulled away and looked him in the eye.

"What?" he said, half laughing himself. An inexplicable sense of joy welled up inside Sherlock, and he looked at John and tenderly stroked the side of his face. He so badly needed a shave and a wash. Sherlock kissed him firmly, then pressed the length of his body flush up along John's and moaned into his neck. John's legs spread for him, and Sherlock ground their hips together. John grasped at him, leveraging his heels against the ground to press upwards, and Sherlock could feel John's cock hardening between them. He found John's lips again, kissing him languidly and thrusting up against him.

"Please, John," Sherlock whispered against him. "Please, I want to fuck you so badly, I've wanted to, please." John stilled, but only tensed minutely. Sherlock waited, his face pressed warmly to the crook of John's neck. John twisted to look at Sherlock, and Sherlock raised his head to meet John's eye. He was searching for something, his eyes darting back and forth between Sherlock's own. He let out a breath, took another, pressed his lips into a line. Sherlock waited.

"Alright," John breathed. Sherlock waited still. "Alright." John looked over towards the fire. He looked back at Sherlock. "You can use the seal oil, probably."

That seemed...well. Sherlock clearly hadn't thought out the logistics of this operation. "Is that safe?" he asked. John laughed.

"Fuck, I don't know. What are we going to do? We're stuck here." John covered his eyes with his hand, grinning still. "I don't know. We eat it. It's probably fine."

Sherlock sat back on his knees. John kept the oil in a bag he had fashioned from the seal bladder, stored on a low rock shelf he had set up just outside the shelter. Sherlock retrieved it, and returned to kneel beside John. He pulled open the leather drawstring, looked skeptically between the contents and John. His erection was not quite withering, but it had quailed a bit.

"This..." he began, "is distinctly unsanitary."

John laughed again and looked squarely at Sherlock. His eyes glittered mirthfully. "It's hardly the most unsanitary thing my arse has seen." Sherlock wasn't sure. "Look, it's been cooked, hasn't it? And why am I convincing you?"

Sherlock dipped two fingers into the bag. It was true that they did eat it every day. He didn't see how consuming it rectally could possibly be any worse. He held up his fingers and watched the slick substance sluice down. John groaned and covered his face with his hands. "Oh my god."

Sherlock looked at him intently. Yes, this would be perfectly sufficient. He crawled over John's leg, settling between his knees with the seal oil set to one side. He gently spread John's legs, coaxing him to fold his knees. John wasn't laughing anymore. Sherlock pressed his slick fingers to the back of John's scrotum, stroking cautiously. He gathered John's prick in his other hand, working the foreskin along the staff.

"I want you to look at me," Sherlock said, his voice low. John met his eye for a moment, then dropped his head back to look at the ceiling. "Look at me, John." Sherlock wanted to see his eyes when he pressed slowly into him. John's mouth was slightly open. His eyes were closed. Sherlock rubbed his thumb along the head of John's cock and stroked upwards with his fingers. "John." John glanced at him briefly, and Sherlock stood and snatched John's clothes from off the roof. His shoes were set nearby and Sherlock swiftly bundled these things together, propped them beneath John's head, and resumed his position between John's knees. "Look at me," he said, and pressed his finger to John's hole. John's nostrils flared. He opened his eyes and met Sherlock's gaze in something akin to a challenge, but Sherlock didn't want a challenge. He stroked his fingers up towards John's balls, fondled them lightly while he stroked his shaft. He ran his fingers along the thin skin of John's inner thighs, then reached for the bag of oil.

"No!" John said, and half sat up. "Don't - wait - "

Oh, of course. He'd been stroking John's anus with those fingers. Inconvenient technicalities, but the oil was important for more than just sex. John fumbled for something he couldn't reach, patting the ground around him.

"There's a shell," he said. Sherlock rose to hunt for the shell. This was patently absurd. There it was, near the fire. He fetched it and then knelt back down between John's legs. He carefully poured a bit of the oil into the basin of the shell. Some of it dribbled onto the seal skin, but the reeking thing was waterproof, so it hardly mattered. Sherlock pulled the drawstring closed and handed the bladder bag abruptly to John.

"Get this away from me," he said. John chuckled and set it aside.

"Now," Sherlock said, and caught John's eye sternly. "You are to watch me, John. Am I clear?"

John swallowed and nodded.

"Good."

Sherlock dipped his fingers into the stupid shell that was tipping over. He coated them thoroughly and slapped his fingers somewhat impatiently to John's bum. John made a small noise. Sherlock took a calming breath, then wrapped his fingers once more around John's cock. He pulled the foreskin up over the head, then slowly drew it back down; firm, slow, even strokes. He pressed the length of his oiled finger along John's anus, and looked at him intently. John's breath had gone short, but he hadn't looked away.

"Good," Sherlock said, his voice deepening into a purr. He stroked downwards, between John's cheeks and felt the ring of muscle clench when it brushed his knuckles. So perfect. So gorgeous. Sherlock brought his hand back up, cradled John's balls, then returned his fingertip to the hole. John was breathing through parted lips, and his eyelids had grown heavy. Sherlock swirled his thumb beneath the head of John's shaft, then rubbed tightly over the slit. John's breath hitched, and Sherlock pressed in the tip of his finger. John's eyes slid closed.

"Look at me."

His eyes opened, heavy and dark. Sherlock began to press in his finger, and he felt John tense, heard his breath tighten anxiously.

"Stop, John. Let me in."

With his free hand Sherlock lightly pet John's leg, rubbed soothingly along his hip, the length of his thigh, down to the knee and back up again. He relaxed, and Sherlock turned his finger, just a bit. John's eyes drifted closed.

"Look at me," Sherlock whispered. They opened. Sherlock slid his finger deeper in. It was so warm and tight; John would feel so much better around his cock. Sherlock leaned forward and once again gripped John's erection. John's lips were pink and parted, and Sherlock wanted badly to kiss him, to claim those lips with his own and dominate him. He pushed his first finger all the way in, and slowly drew it out. John's breath shallowed into a heady pant, and Sherlock pushed back in. He dropped his lips to John's shaft and suckled the tip. John made a sound that was half a breath and half a murmured cry. Sherlock drew his finger out and slowly pushed back in. John's hips flexed and Sherlock took him into his mouth, tonguing the head and then sucking hard. John gasped, pressing upwards, and the motion caused him to clench around Sherlock's finger. Oh, it would be so good.

"Watch, John," Sherlock said, drawing out and adding the tip of his second finger. It stretched and John hissed, then panted as Sherlock pressed in deeper, slowly, then twisted his fingers. He gave John's cock a few quick strokes, and John's head dropped back but swiftly snapped up again to meet Sherlock's eye. Good. Sherlock inched out and pressed slowly back in.

Sherlock's cock was aching hard by the time he had three fingers deep inside John, thrusting lightly and soothing the muscle. He sucked off the fluid that had beaded at the tip of John's cock and evened out his strokes, moving firmly in and out. Every breath was stifled cry on John's lips, and Sherlock leaned close over him, his movement paused.

"I'm going to now," Sherlock said, and John nodded desperately. Good. So good. "It's bigger," Sherlock warned.

"Oh God, Sherlock, please." John's breath was so deliciously ragged with want. Sherlock caught his lips briefly and John strained forward to keep the contact. Sherlock pulled his fingers out and fumbled for the oyster shell. Half its contents spilled as Sherlock scooped up what he could and slathered it over his cock. Oh God, it was going to feel so good. He wanted it so badly. He fit up against John's entrance, guiding his cock with his oiled hand. He felt the heat from John's body at the head, and Sherlock caught his breath, halting before he did something stupid and hurt his precious John.

John whimpered and nosed the side of Sherlock's head. "Mm, please do it, Sherlock, please," he whispered. Sherlock drew back to look at his face. He was flushed and sweating, and he stilled when he met Sherlock's eye. Sherlock pushed in.

John's jaw dropped open as he panted, then snapped shut as he took quick, pained breaths through his nose. Each one held an aborted moan, and oh, dear God, it felt so good. Oh God. Sherlock slid in until his hips pressed flush along John's skin. He relaxed just a bit and then thrust in deeper. Oh God, it was everything, it felt so -

He looked down at where they were joined. It was so impossibly good. He let himself slide out of John and watched himself thrust back in. "Oh God, John," Sherlock breathed. He slid out again, and slowly, slowly watched himself disappear inside John. Oh, it was marvelous. He did it again.

"I want you to see," he said, and pulled John up. He sat back on his heels so John straddled his hips, then shifted and lay slowly down so John was on top. "I want you to see, John. Watch."

John braced his hands on either side and raised his hips. He shifted his weight to one side and held his testicles out of the way. He looked at Sherlock's shaft between them, then he eased himself down with a breathy moan. He rose again, gripping his cock, and slid down more quickly this time. He stroked himself in time to his movements. "Oh," he said. "Oh."

This was easily the best thing that had ever happened to Sherlock - watching John fuck himself on Sherlock's cock. It wasn't gong to last very long, and Sherlock wanted it to last forever. "Stop," he said, and grasped John's hips. He caught John's wrist and pulled his hand away from himself. John's cock bobbed stiffly in the air, and Sherlock was so hard inside him. Sherlock caught his breath, running his hands up and down John's thighs.

"Squeeze," he said, and John did, squeezed so tight around him Sherlock wanted, he just wanted - he reached up for John, pulled him down and kissed him, long and hard. He sat up and forced John onto his back. He ran his fingertips down John's stomach, then around his own shaft where it entered John. So beautiful, it was so good. John clenched around him again and Sherlock groaned. There wouldn't be enough. He pulled out and John sucked in a breath.

Sherlock turned John onto his side, then sidled up close behind him. This was how it was going to be. He guided himself back inside, stilled John's hips as he thrust back. He gathered both John's wrists in his hand so he wouldn't masturbate, and then he lay still, nestled deep inside. Perfect.

After awhile, John began to squirm. "Sherlock," he murmured, then shifted. Sherlock squeezed his wrists in warning, and he stopped.

The next time John squirmed it was with a small noise akin to a whine. Sherlock held him firmly, reveling in the endorphins coursing through him, the tingling just below the surface of his skin. John was his now, he was Sherlock's. Next time, maybe not next time, the time after that, perhaps Sherlock would truss him up, put a prosthetic penis in that tight little arsehole and leave him there on the living room carpet. He would tend to an experiment in the meantime, and when John got too vocal Sherlock would gag him and leave him there longer, with a cock up his arse and unable to move, oh, it would be -

Sherlock pressed a kiss to John's spine, feathered them across his shoulders and his neck. He lifted his head and nuzzled John's ear, and when John tilted up to him Sherlock bit down on that space just below his jaw. He suckled hard on that spot, and when John jerked beneath him Sherlock tightened his grip on John's wrists and brought his arms in closer. John tried to twist away but there was nowhere to go. Sherlock deepened the bite, then pulled back, brushed an open kiss over it, and examined the mark. Oh yes, that would bruise nicely.

Sherlock spared a glance at John's groin, straining dark and swollen. He released John's wrists to trail a finger down John's length. John's hips jerked and he clenched around Sherlock, whose cock was again swiftly swelling to full. Sherlock traced John's cock from the base to the tip. "You are not to touch it. Do you understand?"

John released a breath through his teeth. He was so gorgeous, and now with the bruise.

"Do you understand?"

"Yes," John cried. "Yes, oh God, Sherlock please. Please. Please." His voice was a perfectly desperate little whimper. He wanted so badly to be fucked, didn't he. Sherlock rested his hand flat on John's hip, then stroked up and down his side. "Please, Sherlock, please." John's eyes were clenched shut and he opened his mouth in a silent cry. Sherlock thrust his hips and the moan burst forth, hoarse and shamelessly loud.

"Good," Sherlock said, and thrust again. His self control was breaking. No matter. He had reduced John to a begging mess, desperate for more of Sherlock's cock. Sherlock wrapped his hand around John's length and pumped him vigorously, thrusting in time. John's cries were constant and raw, louder every time Sherlock's balls slapped against his arse. He clenched down hard and came explosively, spurting all over the seal skin. Sherlock leaned over him, forced him face down, and thrust mercilessly inside until orgasm swept through him and his hips jerked tight, convulsively.

Spent, Sherlock stroked languidly in and out and in again, and then he collapsed on top of John and lay there a moment, feeling the sweaty slickness between their skin. Sherlock pulled out delicately and rolled off to the side. He was in a small puddle of oil and was lying on the oyster shell. He lifted his hip and swept it aside with all the irritation he could muster in his sated state, which was admittedly very little. He sighed deeply and brushed a hand down his chest. He looked at John, still panting beside him, and felt something giddy pass over his heart. He sidled up next to John and pulled him around, and spooned up close behind him. It was still too hot, quite frankly, but Sherlock didn't care. He wanted to feel John's sweat, and smell how badly he needed a proper bath, and listen to his heart through the gnarled white tissue of his Afghanistan scar.

"Should have done that ages ago," John panted. Sherlock squeezed him tightly and nosed the line of his spine.

"John," he said. "All of my ideas are always good." This was a boldfaced lie, but John laughed anyway.

 

It was easier, in a way, now that they were having sex. Sherlock still felt angry roughly seventy percent of the time; bored, frustrated, so much that it was a physical hurt. He jumped into the ocean once, onto the rocks. Not as an experiment, not to test anything, simply because it would hurt, and in the split second that he fell, Sherlock felt thrilled, and when he crashed through the water and split his skin on the rocks, he felt nothing, just physical pain from outside of his body, and that he understood. He could identify the source and blame it, not the crushing, claustrophobic nothing that came from being trapped inside his mind. John had fished him out and slapped him about, yelling, and Sherlock could hardly hear what he said. He was watching the blood run down his shins. John had strung Sherlock up right there on the beach with his shirtsleeves and shoe laces, then patched him up with sterilized seal oil still hot from the fire, and strips of leather cut from the pelt. What a useful thing that seal had been. The iPhone of the primitive world. Well, that didn't make sense. What Sherlock meant was that it served multiple purposes, much as his precious iPhone had. Oh, iPhone, oh microscope, oh morgue, oh murders -

"Shut up!" John said.

But. John wouldn't let Sherlock fuck him when he was being crazy, so Sherlock struggled to keep this behavior to a minimum. Fucking John was the only thing Sherlock liked about this island, something he had never had in Baker Street. Sherlock closed his eyes tightly, then sucked in a sharp breath and expelled it quickly. He looked around. Christ, he had really hurt himself.

"John," Sherlock said, urgently. John checked to see that he was lucid. "John, I'm sorry. That was unconscionable. I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

John sighed and finished tying off the bandage. "You could have really been hurt." He looked at Sherlock and his eyes were sad.

 

Sherlock dreamed he led John to a gas chamber and put him inside with a hundred other nameless, naked people. He watched through a small, rectangular window as John stood fretfully amidst them, and when the air began to go bad the people panicked and began to climb atop one another, and John scrambled through the frantic mass, clawing and crying and straining to reach the clear air at the top of the room, and Sherlock watched calmly from his rectangular window. He had a notebook in his hand.

Sherlock woke up screaming and sobbing uncontrollably. His protests were incoherent and he fought John's restraining hands to stagger outside, where he ducked against the side of the shelter, against John's wall. He wasn't - that hadn't -

"Sherlock," John said, so worried. He lay a soothing hand on Sherlock's shoulder, but Sherlock jerked away and stumbled blindly towards the stream. He hadn't, that - he stepped into the water that was running colder every day. He knelt, then lay on his side and let it soak into his hair and his clothes, washing frigidly around him. He curled in around himself and lay until he was too cold to think of the dream. Then John pulled him out of the water and led him back to the camp, stripped off the wet clothes and wrapped him in the coat. He rubbed briskly up and down Sherlock's arms and his back, then held him.

"I dreamed I did something terrible," Sherlock said. John hushed him and didn't ask what it was. He wrapped them both up in the seal skin that smelled a bit off, and let Sherlock sleep against his chest.

 

"I do try," Sherlock said. He was somewhat offended.

"I know you do," John said wearily.

They were walking around the island. It was not quite noon, which meant they had already checked the lines, rebaited the hooks, salted the fish and smoked them, tidied up the camp, attempted to shave with the army knife, had a good exfoliating sand bath, washed the clothes, wrung them out and strewn them over the roof, and gotten into an argument over astrology, of which Sherlock knew nothing but had not dismissed, and which John viewed with extreme skepticism. Then they had had a quick shag, and now they were presumably gathering firewood, but had fallen back to the topic of Sherlock's deteriorating mental health.

They paused and looked over Seal Beach, still empty. The wind had picked up as it always did when the morning wore on. It was now a bit chilly to be strolling about in the nude, as they were. Arms folded, Sherlock and John silently watched the sea. If they were forced to weather a winter here and the seals didn't return, they would likely die. They hadn't enough resources to battle the cold. But, they could easily grow long warm beards like mountain men, and were fighting a losing battle against this already, so it went to show there was always a silver lining.

"Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side," Sherlock sang out clearly. John looked at him with his expression of extreme skepticism.

"You really are insane," he said. Sherlock grinned. He reached for John's hips and pulled him close, tilted his head and pecked his lips chastely. Then he tucked John against him, nuzzling his hair, and like this he looked out over the empty, grey sea.

 

The seals did return. Sherlock thought this because the fish had been behaving oddly, shuttling out of the water in nervous shoals. When he checked Seal Beach at midday he saw their big slug-like bodies draped across the stones and he had dropped back immediately, circled round and crept up to peer over the edge of the cliff. Yes, they had definitely returned, crowded only slightly closer to the water than they had been for the first kill. Sherlock edged away, then sprinted back to camp where John was lying bare-chested and slug-like himself on the seal pelt in the sun. Sherlock tripped on a clump of grass, took a hard shoulder into the dirt, and rolled back to standing without missing a beat.

"John. Johnjohnjohn."

John shaded his face and looked at Sherlock with one eye squinted shut. Sherlock rifled frantically through their meagre collection of primitive tools. Where was the club? Ah, there it was, by the wall.

"Get your knife. The seals are here."

John scrambled to his feet and cast about for his shoes. "How many?" he asked.

"All of them. We have to get as many as we can." It didn't matter if the meat went to waste. They needed the pelts. Shoes on, John fetched his knife, and they took off, tacking inland to keep their scent off the breeze.

"It's not going to be as easy this time," John said as they crept up slowly. The beach was well protected by the steep banks surrounding it, and they wouldn't be able to saunter so casually in as they had the first time. They would have to be cautious, painstakingly slow. They pulled back once more, maneuvering to the point that would allow them access, and inched forward until the grass could provide them no more cover.

"I'll try to head them off," Sherlock said. He was the quicker in a pinch, and had the longer range weapon. He took off at a sudden sprint, skidding down the slope to the stony beach. The seals reacted immediately, sliding into the sea, but Sherlock cut into the herd, causing some to have to veer off course. He wielded his club indiscriminately, always aiming for the head but never striking more than one blow. Some of the seals recovered and slipped away, but the dazed ones John quickly finished with the knife. Then they stood on the stones, panting and slick with sweat, John up to his elbows in blood. Sherlock swiped the sweat from his lip and surveyed their kill; not as many as it had seemed, but plenty, nonetheless. They had two pups, one large seal, and two small to mid-sized. Enough for winter clothes, perhaps sufficient to roof the shelter properly. Excellent. It was a lot of meat, but with diligence they could salt the entire batch.

Sherlock looked at John, who had smeared blood in mopping the sweat from his brow. He was breathing heavily and had something of a giddy smile playing about his lips. He looked at Sherlock and broke into a full on grin. Sherlock felt the familiar coiling tension in the pit of his belly, heightened by the adrenaline singing through his veins. John's grin faded and Sherlock took a slow, deliberately predatory step towards him. He trailed his club on the ground and let it fall. John's arousal was prominent against his trousers, which were spattered now with blood from the kill. Sherlock approached him, and John's breath went shallow. His pupils were wide and dark. He sank at the hips as Sherlock drew closer, unconsciously canting his body at all the irresistibly submissive angles, his head tilted and mouth open just so. Sherlock took the knife from him and closed it; carefully stowed it in his own pocket. John wet his lips and sank just a fraction lower. Sherlock grabbed his hips and rutted once against him, feeling the stiffness of John's erection grind against his own. Perfect. So perfect. John's knees gave as Sherlock rutted again, savouring the friction of his trousers against his rigid cock. He lowered John to the ground and forced him onto his back, pressing him down against the stones. He ground their hips together, picking up speed. John's hands clutched at Sherlock's buttocks as he thrust desperately against him, never enough contact, never too much. Sherlock wanted him to come in his trousers, he wanted that hot mess seeping into his clothes, for him to live with the evidence of what he had done, of what Sherlock reduced him to.

John got his feet beneath him, raising his hips in that please-fuck-me gesture, and his breath tore hoarsely from his throat. "Ah. Sherlock, hah -" he said, his voice beginning to climb. He was getting close. Sherlock dropped his weight on top of him, burying his face against John's neck. He snapped his hips sharply and then nipped him, catching his skin between his teeth. John cried out and jerked away, but scrabbled all the more at Sherlock's back, pulling him closer with bruising force. He wanted it so badly. There was never enough. Sherlock kept his rhythm fast and hard, and soon John tensed beneath him, his breath tightening into a needy cry. His hips jerked convulsively and Sherlock knew he had come, soaking the front of his trousers. Sherlock quickly sat back on his heels, freed his erection and pumped it vigorously. He leaned over John and braced on one arm, groaned loudly as that coiled feeling snapped and coursed through him. His ejaculate spurted over John's bare chest, marking him: mine.

John took heaving breaths beneath him, spent. Sherlock leaned forward until their foreheads touched. A bead of sweat ran down the end of his nose. He was, by far, the luckiest man on earth. John leaned up and closed the distance between their lips. He nudged Sherlock's nose, kissed him again, and then flopped back onto the rocks. Sherlock lay down beside him. He caught John's wrist and drew up his hand. Hm, it was still covered in blood. Sherlock kissed it anyway.


They converted their shelter into a smokehouse and slept outside until the meat had cured, several days. They were thin on salt and had to use more wood than they could afford cultivating it from seawater. The days were getting short, and it rained distressingly often, but John secured the old pelt over the shelter, which was much more efficient than just the grass, and it kept the new hides dry until they were workable and adequately tanned.

They had enough meat to last a long while, but Sherlock dreaded the thought of being stranded through winter. It was enough to nearly send him over the edge at times, but John was careful to keep him busy, almost tediously so. Sherlock was churlish and cross a lot of the time. He snapped at John, but he didn't go crazy. Sometimes John snapped back and they fought, and then had violent sex against the rocks.

"Oh God, Sherlock, please!"

Sherlock loved that phrase.

But today he hated everything on earth.


There had been a tremendous storm yesterday which had torn the roof from their shelter and left them huddled in the driving rain. The fire had been reduced to wet ash, their already paltry wood pile had been blown to kingdom come, and they had spent all day today regrouping, performing the same horrifically dull tasks they had already performed, worse because life was so contrary. Sherlock lay in a patch of sun, but it was getting too cool to lie out. He twisted his elbow into the sand, feeling the difference in temperature above and below the surface.

John was down by the water, and he hated John. He hated whatever John was doing. He would have leaped up and attacked him, but he was feeling too lazy. A very small crab crept by.

This was his miserable life right now, collecting branches, never bathing, always drinking from the stream. Nothing interesting happened, there were no people. There was no sentient life. Sherlock belonged in London, where the human element was roiling and unpredictable, in the heart of the city, where things happened. He could have been there now, think of that. He wasn't the one who had fallen off the boat. He could have been at home.

The sun caught warm on Sherlock's face, and his throat swelled painfully. He would have been at home without his John. Unacceptable. So utterly unacceptable. Sherlock rolled and watched John, down by the water. He was a caveman. He had a plethora of caveman skills. Sherlock would have died a thousand times over without him, on the island or otherwise. He was Sherlock's precious neanderthal, with his simple brain and generous heart. It would take a generous heart to so constantly forgive a man like Sherlock. That was disgustingly sentimental. Sherlock couldn't believe he had thought it. In any case, John's brain wasn't that simple, not as bad as most, and had you ever seen him gut a seal? Spectacular. His technique was beyond reproach. He was lovely. He was perfect. He was everything.

Sherlock rose and crept up behind, casting a shadow so as not to startle him. He crouched down and wrapped his arms around John's waist, soaking up the warmth from that broad, weathered back, then Sherlock pressed a kiss beside the scar.

And that's where they were when John shot to his feet and sent Sherlock toppling into the sand.

"Fuck! Fucking Jesus Christ, oh God!" He took off running and sprinted up the path to camp, and Sherlock stood and looked across the water. Oh, fucking Jesus Christ. Sherlock sprinted up the path.

Their fire was so pathetically small, but it had been their priority after the storm, and they had a few good coals at the bottom. John had whipped their bedding out of the shelter and was piling the dry grass onto the flame.

"Three fires. Here, put the oil on it. Ten yards at least, so they see it," John said. Sherlock snatched up a load of dried brambles and dropped it ten yards away, crushing it together and then drizzling oil from the bladder bag. He repeated the process another ten yards down. John was already fanning the hay into a blaze. Sherlock took a hot stick from the bottom of the fire, charred and flaming slightly, and touched it to the oiled bramble pile, cursed until it smoked and then began to burn. He lit the third fire. It was taking too long.

John had ripped the roof from their shelter, casting the seal skin aside. He tore it apart and chucked pieces of it to Sherlock, then piled it onto his substantial flame. It caught quickly, and he doused the lot with seal oil. A thick black cloud arose. He took up the seal pelt and fanned it fervently. Sherlock's piles were beginning to catch, and he piled high the remains of their roof, and then they had three big fires, three black plumes of seal oil smoke.

Sherlock scanned the horizon, his heart clamoring somewhere around his ears. John had climbed atop their tall rocks and he slowly raised his arms and lowered them in a ceaseless motion. The ship was turning. Sherlock thought perhaps he might lose consciousness for a moment, and then John was careening into him, holding him tightly and spinning them round.


There was no place to land a boat on their island. A woman pulled up to their beach in an inflatable, motored dingy. Sherlock stood at the edge of the shore, nearly dancing in anticipation.

"Hallo!" the woman called, and cut the motor, cruising in. She was approximately forty five, a round but craggy face that had seen too much sun and wind. Boat captain. She handled the smaller craft deftly, but had come alone; likely she had only one other crew member with her manning the boat in her absence. Not a fishing boat. She was in wildlife conservation. She had donned an orange life jacket for even the short trip over here. She was well aware of the dangers of the sea. She was looking at him oddly. John had helped her tow her boat ashore. They had been talking. Yellow. Four stroke engine, outboard, two horsepower. Five years old going by the fading.

"Sherlock," John said. Then, "This is Sherlock. I'm John. Watson."

Homosexual, single mother, a daughter, grown. Dog. Border collie or more likely a shelter mutt -

"Stop," John said, his voice quiet. Chapped hands, callused from boat work, often submerged in water. Three small scars, a bite, she worked with seals. John seized him by the shoulders and shook him once, firmly. "Sherlock, stop it. Shut up." Sherlock tried to listen to John. John turned and kept a hand on the small of Sherlock's back. "Mind if we grab a few things?"

"Not at all." Galway accent, but diluted; small town, coastal, Clifden, perhaps. John dragged him back towards the camp.

Galway. Clifden. Conservation. She had been out monitoring the seals and had gotten caught in yesterdays storm, blown off course, tacking South towards the mainland. What was - John was gathering the seal pelts. His lips were compressed, he was nervous, why was he nervous? The pelts were rolled up, he ran both hands through his hair, looking around him. He grabbed the empty bladder bags.

"We don't need those anymore," Sherlock said. Obviously. They were going back to civilization, blessed -

John shook out his undershirt and put it on, then his jacket. He tossed Sherlock his shoes. "Put those on," he said. Oh. That would be good. Shoes. Didn't he have socks anymore? No? Sherlock slid on his shoes and tied them quickly. John handed him his coat. He was gathering nearly everything to take with them, didn't he understand they were going back?

"We don't need seal meat, John. We'll have real food."

John hesitated, but didn't put the bundle down. "I don't know," he said. "We don't - I don't -"

Ah. John's formidable instincts of self-preservation prevented him from embarking on a sudden and unfamiliar journey without adequate supplies. Very well. Sherlock hefted up the seal skins and a small leather satchel dropped, scattering John's simple bone hooks across the earth. Sherlock stopped and looked at them. He stooped, balancing the seal pelts on one knee. He drew his fingers lightly above the slivers of bone, so carefully, dutifully carved. He picked one up and polished it with his thumb. There it was; evidence of human life. Sherlock rose and slipped the hook into his pocket. The rest, he left behind.

 

"Sherlock, please stop," John whispered. They were approaching the docks - Clifden, as expected. Night was drawing in, but Janet, the homosexual Clifden conservationist boat captain had radioed ahead, and now the town knew that two castaways had been recovered, so they were crowding the docks and there were people, actual human beings, and exhaust from the motors, and electricity, light-bulbs, streetlamps orange in the twilight - "Sherlock listen to me -"

The boat thumped against the dock and Sherlock staggered. John grabbed his arm, but Sherlock twisted away, and as they neared the dock again he leaped from the boat onto it. There was a boy, eighteen, he hitched the boat to the dock, he had recently broken up with his girlfriend, likely because she had left town and he helped his father with the fishing. Sherlock strolled down the length of the dock, and he could smell the algae that grew against wood, and there were lights flashing, some people were taking pictures. Sherlock could see the glow of the town up the hill, a small town, central population not over 1,000. A girl was there, six, she had two older sisters and was wearing their clothes, she had been separated from her mother, and Sherlock needed to get to the town. A bearded man wanted to talk to him and someone was calling his name, and Sherlock pushed past and broke into a run. There would be cars up there, and radios, and cigarette ash, and condom brands, and nail polish. He was going to see all of it, he was going to see the sidewalk, and door handles, tell who oiled their hinges and didn't, who painted their shutters and who couldn't afford it, and Sherlock pitched headlong into the ground because John had tackled him. Ah, the road was composed of asphalt and a mineral aggregate, coated thinly with the local mud which tasted of -

"Sherlock, stop!" John grabbed Sherlock's hair and pulled his face away from the road, then shifted and pulled him into a backwards bear-hug. Sherlock struggled to escape. The town! He managed to twist sideways and lever an arm against John's chest, but John jerked his hair again sharply and brought him in close. John was trembling slightly. His skin had taken on a slightly acrid odor; he was afraid. John was never afraid. Except when he was drowning, or that time with the arrow. Why -

"Sherlock, you have to stop," John hissed. "We don't know these people. Alright? They don't know you. I don't know what - just, please. Let's just get to the hotel, alright?"

Sherlock breathed evenly. He wanted very much to see the town. He almost thought he would cry if he didn't get to see the town right now.

"Sherlock, please just not with all these people. I promise you we'll look at everything, you can eat the dirt, alright, just please, just not - okay?"

After a long while, Sherlock nodded stiffly. Perhaps to get to the hotel they would go through town, and Sherlock could look, and if he stayed calm, John wouldn't get upset. John was upset right now because of Sherlock.

John cautiously released him, and they both stood. Sherlock battled the urge to take off running, and instead looked stiffly at the ground. Oh God, please. He wanted to see the town so badly.  Sherlock wrapped his arms around himself but didn't run. 

"Jesus, Sherlock, please don't cry." John hugged him. His jacket smelled like blood and the island.

 

They did see the town, as promised, after a proper shave (disposable razor, Gillette, individually wrapped and purchased wholesale, most likely via catalogue), and a hot shower ("Sherlock, please don't eat the soap." Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, glycerine, PEG-6 methyl ether, sorbital, titatium dioxide - ). New clothes were delivered, expensive but poorly selected (Mycroft. One of the hotel staff purchased the clothes. Male, between forty-five and fifty, eczema), and then, under cover of darkness, Sherlock scoured the town for information: history, inhabitants, habits, indiscretions - John always somewhere nearby. They were still out when Mycroft arrived the following morning and announced that a private flight to London awaited them. (He had been in Moscow. He had lost eight pounds, quickly. He was suffering a gastrointestinal complaint, an ulcer.) Then they went back to London, and it was so infinitely superior to Clifden that Sherlock had to be sedated. He woke up in his bed in 221B.

Sherlock had a new phone, a new coat, and new contacts in his homeless network. Incredible, the crimes committed in six short weeks! Two bodies had turned up in a trash compactor. A dog had been deliberately infected with rabies. A rabies outbreak in London, delightful! It was three days before Sherlock was able to sleep, and he collapsed at the kitchen table for five and a half hours and then went back out. He was so happy he could sing.

He even went with John to Tesco. He had never fully appreciated the multitude of items at his disposal here, and he left John with the cart in front of the tea section, and went to explore.

There was meat, as many as eighty different varieties including animal, cut, and brand. An entire aisle sixty feet in length was lined on either side with nothing but beverages in plastic bottles, cans, and glass. Sherlock should have gotten his own cart because no matter how he juggled the bag of greens, the wheat-bran cereal, the silicone lubricant, the sack of apples, and four pounds of pork chops, he couldn't carry the mixed-berry concentrate he had his eye on. He would return for it, after depositing his current selection with John.

John was still where Sherlock had left him, by the tea. Jaw tense; his teeth were pressed together. Expression; carefully neutral. One hand on the cart, knuckles white, he was angry. Sherlock cautiously slowed and set his shopping in the cart. He looked at John who was looking at the tea.

It was possible Sherlock had done something to make John angry; a hardly uncommon occurrence. Sherlock briefly thought back on his own behavior to determine if it were necessary for him to apologize for anything, as apologies had the effect of mitigating John's ire, if they were convincing. Sherlock studied John's profile. It was possible he was angry with something else.

"John," Sherlock ventured, and the tense silence snapped.

"Why are there so many different types of tea?" John shouted. Ah. Not Sherlock's fault, then. "I just want one, regular, normal tea, that's all I want! Who needs this many types of tea?"

The simple solution would be to select a generic brand of black tea, but before Sherlock could complete this action, John began sweeping the contents of the tea shelf into the cart. Boxes scattered along the floor, and John grabbed the cart handle and stalked away. Bit of a limp again; interesting. Ah! Lemongrass.  And what was - raspberry tea?  Excellent.  Sherlock picked these varieties up off the floor and jogged to catch up with John. He was surly and no longer seemed interesting in doing the shop, so Sherlock was left to complete it. The results were very eclectic indeed.

 

At home, John left the shopping on the kitchen table, then stood at the window with his arms folded, overlooking the street. Sherlock warily hung his coat near the door. It was unlike John to be quite so temperamental.  Was this recent?  How long had this been going on?  Not on the island, surely.

Suddenly, Sherlock felt he would very much like to have sex with John. They had been reunited with civilization no less than six days, and in that time, Sherlock realized, they had seen very little of one another. Sherlock had been catching up on all he had missed, and John had been...Well, it appeared John had been straightening up the flat; nervously organizing, as was his wont. The place had never been so neat.

Rather than staring moodily out the window, Sherlock would prefer John to be writhing beneath him, sweating and cursing, panting and calling his name. Yes, that would be much, much better. Sherlock approached John from across the room, his eye on that nippable patch of skin above the collar of his jumper. That delectable warmth unfurled in Sherlock's groin, but as he ran his hands down John's arms and nosed his neck, John tensed frigidly and said, "Stop."

Sherlock drew back as though burned. John had never once used that word or that tone, and Sherlock felt a dangerous uncertainty curl up along his spine. He had been mistaken. Sherlock quickly ran through the scenario to determine the root of his error, and stepped back once he had.

Prior to their liaison on the island, John had never displayed any signs of physical attraction to Sherlock. The circumstances on the island had been extenuating. Sherlock's fingers closed around his palms and he instinctively buried them in his pockets. Sex was clearly an island activity. It had been idiotic to presume it would continue upon their return to London. John would wish to resume dating. Women. Not Sherlock. Obvious. A plummeting feeling akin to nausea swept through him, which Sherlock decided to ignore.  He swallowed tightly.  It would perhaps be best if he stepped out for awhile.

 

Sherlock went to the tube station to watch the people. He was able to do this innocuously now: it seemed his sanity had been restored with his return to London. It was nearing five and the streets were beginning to flood with businesspeople. Sherlock saw a man who was having an affair with the nanny; common, and a woman who appeared to be swindling money from her employers in electronics development in order to fund an online gambling addiction; less common, but not unique.

Sherlock had everything he could possibly need. He had new mysteries, a few curious crimes on his website. He had fourteen varieties of tea in his cupboard, blood samples from the rabies outbreak, six different cuts of meat in the fridge, various articles of clothing, and more electricity than he could use. He had running water, both hot and cold. He had a high powered microscope and a selection of deadly toxins from around the globe. There were people on the streets at all hours. There were cabs, trains, buses, birds, all manner of bustling lifeforms; everything he could ever need. Sherlock ran his thumb over the bone hook in his pocket and winced when it caught in his skin.

 

John was sitting at the living room table when Sherlock returned. The package of silicone lubricant Sherlock had purchased was set before him. Sherlock slowed, then removed his coat and hung it, and carefully straightened his blazer. He had left the lubricant in with the shopping, which John had evidently cleared. John raised his eyebrows and Sherlock slid his hands into his pockets and leaned against the door jamb, his eyes involuntarily narrowed.

John looked as though he would speak, but then his gaze drifted back to the table. Sherlock went into the kitchen. He washed his hands. He hadn't even examined his rabies samples yet, he realized. He had been distracted. Perhaps he would have a look now. Sherlock felt rather than observed John sitting silently in the living room. He paused before the refrigerator. John, sitting sadly at the table. What time was it? It was late. Sherlock had been out a long while. Sherlock could hear the cars on the street, and the water rushing through the pipes as Mrs. Hudson flushed her toilet. The flat was quiet, and another car went by.

That nauseous, sinking feeling returned, and Sherlock couldn't ignore it this time. John would want to clarify that now that they'd returned to London, their relationship would be strictly platonic. Sherlock could accept that. He didn't think it necessary to have an embarrassing conversation about it simply to state the obvious. The truth was, he didn't want to hear it clarified. Sherlock stared vacantly at the baseboards, which John had scrubbed clean this week. It appeared he had been at the corners with a toothbrush. Today, John had thrown a tantrum over tea.

Sherlock shut his eyes tightly, thinking. The process was agonizingly slow, and sickening, because Sherlock knew he was wrong about something but he didn't know what. He felt wrong, like he wasn't thinking, like he had done something stupid. Sherlock's eyes snapped open.

John had thrown a tantrum over tea. He had scrubbed the baseboards with a toothbrush. He had barely left the flat all week. John had a psychosomatic limp which had made it's first appearance in over a year, and Sherlock had observed all of these things without seeing.

This wasn't good. Not - no, this wasn't good because John was upset, but this also wasn't good because Sherlock wasn't putting things together. Sherlock put facts together and drew conclusions, that was what he did. But he had overlooked something very basic and very obvious, and that wasn't good. Now that they were back in London, this wasn't supposed to happen anymore, it meant he wasn't well. Not being well in London was quite different from not being well on the island, and if John no longer wanted him, as would appear to be the case and as would be entirely warranted due to Sherlock's gross oversight regarding John's emotional well being, then Sherlock would almost certainly be sectioned. That meant that people other than John would want to restrain him, and that was so very much the opposite of fine.

Sherlock did not want to be insane, it was terrifying. However, he was not going to panic. He was going to remain calm, and that was precisely what he was doing as he paced a tight circle before the sink, fingers curled and hovering inches from his head. He was not insane. He wasn't.

"Sherlock," John said. Sherlock was most assuredly remaining very calm. He was taking deep, even breaths that were not jagged, and did not resemble gasps. "Sherlock," John repeated.

Sherlock anchored his attention on John. He said, "You're disconcerted with the useless excess of the city.  The trivialities of daily life have compromised your sense of purpose; you don't even need tea.   I see that, John. I didn't, but I do."

"Sherlock - "

Sherlock wrenched in a breath. Okay, he was losing it, he realized. His eyes pricked painfully and he folded onto a kitchen chair.

"I'm not insane, John." Please tell me that I'm not.

"I know that. Sherlock, I know that," John said. He pulled a chair in close and sat, rubbing a warm hand firmly up and down Sherlock's back. Sherlock dropped his head into his hands and John pulled him sideways into an embrace. He pressed a kiss to the back of Sherlock's neck, and when he did that, Sherlock began to cry.   He wanted John to mean this.   At that moment, Sherlock longed for something he would have never expected; to be back on the island, in the rain of all things, curled in their miserable little shelter under a reeking seal skin. His mind recoiled from this thought because he hated the island so extremely. John rocked them very gently, and he rested his head atop Sherlock's. His shirt smelled like Persil detergent. "We'll adjust, alright?  These things just take time."

Sherlock didn't want to adjust if it meant that this tenderness was false, if it meant that he had lost his John.  Into the obscurity of John's shirt, he said, "I liked what we had."

John rubbed slow circles on Sherlock’s back.  "On the island?"

Sherlock didn't know how to answer that.  Yes, on the island, but no, absolutely not.  It was nonsensical that that could have been simultaneously the best and absolute worst experience of his entire life.  He had been at his happiest and most painfully distraught. 

"Me too," John murmured. "I liked what we had." Then he drew alarmingly still. He grasped Sherlock by the shoulders and pushed him away, looking earnestly into his face, which Sherlock didn't care for at all. He looked staunchly over John's shoulder at the wall. He stopped crying.

"Is that what you thought? That I didn't - I was - Sherlock."

Since John hadn't technically asked a comprehensible question, Sherlock did not feel obliged to answer. His face was wet, but he did not want to be seen wiping away tears; it was more pathetic than the tears themselves. Of course, Sherlock had cried in front of John before, but that had been on the island.

"Look," John said. "I didn't - when - Sherlock, that just wasn't a good moment, earlier. It's not because I didn't want to, ever. You haven't been - I didn't think you still wanted that."

"That's preposterous," Sherlock said with some heat.

"Well." John worried at his palm with his opposite thumb. "I thought...perhaps you thought it had just been a way to pass the time."

That stung. Sherlock tensed and said coolly, "Is that what you thought?"

"No!  I - Sherlock, we got back to London and you just took off. It really didn't seem like you were interested."

Oh. Sherlock eyed John narrowly, measuring how to proceed. He wasn't used to being so consistently in error, and he didn't like it.

"So," John hesitated. "I take it that you are, then. Interested."

"Obviously," Sherlock snapped, and regretted it. He closed his eyes. When he opened them John was looking at him with his face completely neutral. Sherlock steeled himself. He would clarify this for once and all, and never broach this mortifying topic ever again.

"John, you are the single best thing ever to have come into my life, and I would very much like to continue with the full nature of the liaison we established on the island."

John looked at him. Then the bastard began to laugh. "Sorry. I'm sorry," he said. "That was...that was just so you, it was absurd." His expression changed to a mirthful impression of solemnity. "Okay.  In that case I guess I'll bin that lube, then.  'Cause I've got some seal oil in the fridge."

"The nature, John, not the questionable technicalities."

John laughed again. He looked Sherlock in the eye and said, "Alright. Good. I would very much like that as well."

Sherlock paused. "I mean it, John," he said quietly.

John leaned forward and touched his head to Sherlock's. He stroked the side of his face and his hair, and when Sherlock exhaled, John breathed in his breath and kissed him. "I know," he said. Then Sherlock kissed him back.

 

"Do you really have seal oil in the refrigerator?" Sherlock asked. He was kneeling on his bed, warming the silicone lubricant in his hands. John lay casually on his side before him. The bedside lamp was on, casting the room in a warm halogen yellow.

"Yes," John said. "I'm afraid to get rid of it." He glanced at Sherlock from the corner of his eye. "I probably will be until it goes off."

"Then I'll leave it," Sherlock said.

"Thank you." John closed his eyes. "I'll get over it eventually, it's just - "

"It's fine." Sherlock eased John's leg forward with the back of his hand, trailing his knuckles along the soft hair on the underside of his thigh. "I'm sure I can think of something to do with it."

John sighed softly. "Good. Just don't tell me about it, please."

Sherlock smiled. He eased the slick side of his hand along the back of John's testicles and stroked slowly. John's breath deepened, and Sherlock watched the lines of his face relax. How he had managed to overlook this activity for six full days was utterly baffling, and also no longer relevant. Though it was somewhat awkward, Sherlock reached around and took John's penis in his other hand; still soft, but swelling. He dropped his nose to John's hip and kissed him there. He smelled like warm, clean skin.

When Sherlock was able to, he pressed inside, then spooned closely against John's back and stroked his length languidly. Sherlock kept them like that for a long time, quietly reveling in the warm pressure of John wrapped tight around his cock, opening up for him and allowing him close. He closed his eyes against John's back. He loved his John, a lot.

Sherlock stroked him firmly, slowly, until each breath caught in John's chest with a low moan. Then Sherlock shifted his hips, drew out, and pushed in slowly, keeping constant pressure on John's shaft. John's lips parted with an indulgent sigh, and Sherlock kissed the nape of his neck. He pulled out, and John arched his back as he thrust back in. He was so lovely, so perfect, that it hurt somewhere in the space between Sherlock's lungs. He pressed his lips to the crook of John's shoulder, and began to pick up speed.

It was likely the gentlest sex they had ever had. Sherlock turned John onto his back and then watched himself thrust back in, John's legs spread wide beneath him. Sherlock dropped his face to John's neck and breathed him in. He wanted to be closer, and when John held him tightly it still wasn't enough. Sherlock sped up his rhythm until John gripped the sheets and the headboard knocked against the wall. He raised himself on one arm and watched John's face as he gripped his shaft, and pumped him fast and hard. John's mouth dropped open and he tipped his head back, exposing his throat. He raised his hips and Sherlock came inside him with a stuttering cry.

For a moment, Sherlock rode the aftershock of his orgasm, collapsed heavily on top of John. Slowly, though, he pulled out and dragged himself down to where he still held John tightly in his fist. He took the head of John's cock in his mouth, then sucked down hard along the shaft. Without losing suction he pulled his head away and John's panting breaths tightened into a wanton groan. Sherlock bobbed his head, and John's hips flexed taught, one hand caught in Sherlock's hair, and then he was coming, and Sherlock drank it down.

When John relaxed, Sherlock shifted and rested his head on John's hip, nestled lazily between his legs. He let John clumsily stroke his hair, fingers heavy with post-coital torpor. Sherlock remembered he had meant to do something, and he crawled back up over John and examined his neck. Sherlock's mark was nearly gone. He turned John's head and leaned in to mark the other side. John squirmed and raised his shoulder to ward him off.

"Don't," Sherlock said, and with a long suffering sigh, John surrendered.

Sherlock wanted John to get his name tattooed on him somewhere. He wanted John to sign a notarized contract approving Sherlock's claim on him. He wanted John to sleep in his bed, and wear his clothes, and smell like him. Sherlock sucked a new bruise onto John’s neck, high enough that it would be seen, and when John's breath caught and he cringed, Sherlock released him. He examined his work, and then mouthed over the spot.

"Satisfied?" John sighed. Sherlock grunted and laid down beside him. He pulled John's hand up to his lips and kissed it, then ran his lips lightly over the smattering of hair there.

They laid this way a while when John said quietly but abrupt, "You saved my life." Sherlock felt this to be generally the case about John as well, so he didn't bother to reply. He stroked John's knuckles with his thumb. John turned and looked at him. "I never thanked you for that."

Sherlock opened his eyes. John seemed to be referring to something in particular.

"When I fell off the boat."

Ah. Sherlock closed his eyes once more. "You think too highly of me, John. You always have. I wasn't saving your life."

John digested this statement for a moment. "Oh. Well, it seemed that way."

Sherlock passed John's hand over his lips again. "Allow me to rephrase," he said. "I wasn't saving your life."

They lapsed into silence again. John's tone this time was comprehending. "Oh." He squeezed Sherlock's hand, and Sherlock looked at him.

"I love you," Sherlock said simply. John looked back, brows raised in surprise.

"Really?"

"Yes, really," Sherlock said, annoyed. He watched John shift further into the pillows with this new knowledge, mulling it over. Sherlock rolled his weight on top of John and pinned his hands beside his head, and kissed his ear. "Yes, really." He drew back and met John's curiously solemn gaze for a moment.

"I love you too," John said, as though he had never expected to say those words.

"Good. Unrequited love is so undignified." Sherlock kissed John's ear again and then bit it. He rolled back to his spot beside John, but then changed his mind, pulled John in close and nipped his shoulder, then his arm in quick succession.

"Ow, then why are you biting me?" John half-heartedly tried to escape, and Sherlock nipped his chin and then his ear again.

"Because I'm happy."

"Fabulous. Can you find a less violent way to express your feelings?" John twisted and held him at an arms length, trying for stern annoyance and failing. Sherlock flopped back onto the pillows.

"It’s not violent," he said, then looked at John.  He began to hum.

"Don't."

Sherlock did. He leaned up on one arm. "I'm in heaven - "

"Stop."

"And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak - "

John covered his face with his hands and Sherlock leaned in towards him.

"Don't sing, Sherlock, it's scary."

"You love my voice," Sherlock growled.

John dropped his hands and looked at him. "I do. I love your dulcet tones." Sherlock pulled him in close and nipped his other shoulder. "Ouch!"

"My tones are sonorous."

"Oh right, my mistake. I love your resonant...nebulous baritone -"

"Nebulous?"

"Shut up!"

Sherlock had John tucked entirely against him now, and he squeezed him tightly and rubbed his cheek on John's head. John slipped his ankle between Sherlock's and entwined their legs, then Sherlock pulled the blankets over them and switched off the light. He settled in with John's breath against his chest, and traced his fingers up and down John's spine as though reading his future in the bumps and curves.

"And I seem to find the happiness I seek - " he sang.

"Stop."

But Sherlock hummed the rest, and kissed John's hair, and felt the warmth of John's skin against his own. He was happy. He had everything, right here.