Chapter 1: Sea Wrack
“Will you look at that wanker?” said Phil.
“Hmm?” Lestrade scanned the crowded dance floor from his place along the bar. At irregular intervals one dark head appeared above the rest. Someone seemed to be propelling themselves straight up—unaccompanied, out of time with the music, completely mad.
It was par for the course in the kind of place Phil liked to bring him to. They’d known each other since university, had never managed to become lovers, but had stayed good mates. Every once in a while, Phil would appear, inform Lestrade that he’d spent too much time in that uniformed closet of his (nice closet though it is, he’d say, making a particularly indecent face, all those shiny buttons and looong truncheons) and drag him off to a club where the lights were migraine-inducing and the drinks had funny names.
Lestrade didn’t mind. It made a change, and Phil was good company, even when he was ogling willowy boys much too young for him. To be honest, it was nice sometimes to be somewhere he could be a bit freer, a bit less on guard.
He’d even contemplated telling Phil about the strange encounter he’d had with NSY’s new Consulting Detective, how in an ill-advised moment of charity he’d brought Sherlock back to his flat, had the kind of discussion with him about his family he, Lestrade, never had with anybody, how they’d kissed, and how he’d let Sherlock stay even after he’d been called back to work.
Not that anything had really happened. By the time Lestrade had gotten back, Sherlock had been fast asleep. He’d thrown a blanket over him, called it a night, and in the morning, Sherlock had been gone. But the whole thing had been unsettling, somehow and not just because of how uncharacteristic it had been on both their parts. The next time they’d encountered each other, neither of them had said word about it.
But when he tried to put the welter of things he felt about that strange, exciting night into some version he could relate to Phil, the words refused to come.
“He’s going to hurt himself,” Phil said now, watching the lunatic dancer with amused interest. “He’s going to strain something.”
It was true. The man sprang above the crowd with increasing frequency, launching himself ever higher, like a misfiring pogo stick. He’d even started twirling unsteadily, so that Lestrade could almost see his face.
“Oh bloody hell,” Lestrade said, putting down his (quite banally-named) drink.
“What?” Phil blinked at him.
“I know that man.”
“Him? You know him? I try to get you interested in half a dozen nice blokes, and you know him? Figures, Greg, it really does.” Phil shook his head.
“No, not like that.” Lestrade made a face. “From work.”
“From work? This gets better and better. Member of the Met out on a bender.”
“Shut up, Phil. Have some sympathy. This bloke, he has a few issues with, er, well, with substance abuse.”
“Really? Never would have guessed that. Just thought he was a bit happy, I did.” Phil rolled his eyes.
Lestrade ignored him. “So I think I should—“ he hesitated, steeled himself. “I really think I should get him out of there. Before he hurts himself. Or others.”
He slid down from the bar stool and headed into the fray of gyrating bodies.
“Oho!” Phil called after him. “It is like that, Greg—don’t tell me it isn’t.”
The dance floor was crowded with male bodies in tight jeans and fashionable tops, but Lestrade tried to ignore the occasional sweat-slicked shoulder blade sliding across his field of vision, the occasional arse grazing his hip. It was the second night of Chanukah, but he doubted anyone here cared: they were celebrating their own festival of lights.
At last, he arrived at his destination. Some instinct for self-preservation had made the other dancers open a pocket of space around Sherlock, who either welcomed the extra room or was completely oblivious to his surroundings. Lestrade tried to position himself so that Sherlock would see him on the downswing of his bounce.
“Time to go home, mate,” he shouted above the music.
“Fancy. Meeting. You. Here,” said Sherlock, each word punctuated by perpendicular movement. “Care. To. Dance?”
“Not bloody likely,” Lestrade muttered. Sherlock was dressed as usual, but his close-fitting purple shirt was soaked through, and his wild hair clung damply to his face. His pupils were so large his pale eyes looked almost black.
“Let’s. Get. You. Out. Of. Here,” Lestrade said, and then realized to his dismay that he was almost dancing, his whole body bobbing up and down as he tried to track Sherlock’s face. He shook his head to break the spell of the pulsing music and grabbed Sherlock’s wrist.
A brief struggle ensued, as Sherlock attempted to ascend again and Lestrade anchored him to earth. Then the momentum left him and he almost literally deflated. He sagged forward, and Lestrade put one hand on his chest to keep him upright and used the other to loop one of Sherlock’s arms over his own shoulders.
“Say goodnight, laddie,” he muttered, and made a path through the sea of bodies that immediately closed behind them.
Lestrade overrode Sherlock’s mumblings and gave the cabbie his own address. His flat was closer, and besides, he had no idea what they’d find in Sherlock’s if they went there.
“Stay put,” he said, pushing Sherlock down on his sofa. “No bouncing.”
He had a vivid flash of Kanga and Tigger from the Winnie-the-Pooh books he’d loved as a child, and stifled a laugh, suddenly seeing Sherlock with orange stripes and a tail.
Sherlock, thankfully, didn’t catch the reference. “Sick,” he muttered, rolling his head fretfully against the back of the couch.
“Yes, well not bouncing is going to help with that,” Lestrade told him, perhaps not as sympathetically as he might have. “I’ll get you a bucket.”
By the time he’d located an appropriate receptacle, however, Sherlock had lapsed into unconsciousness, sleep, or some state equally inimical to bouncing. Lestrade sighed, arranged him in something like the rescue position, covered him with a blanket—the same blanket as last time, he noted—and left a glass of water on the end table.
He poured a shot of whiskey for himself and made sure the Chanukah candles had burned all the way down. He’d spent the first night with Ruth and Josh and the girls, but some sentimental impulse had made him light two candles in his gran’s old menorah before he’d gone to meet Phil. Smiling, he scraped a bit of wax off the table, downed his drink, and went to bed.
Some short time later he startled awake. He looked about, unsure of what had woken him.
Sherlock knelt by the bed. He was sober enough now that his irises were once more visible. They caught the room’s stray beams of London’s artificially lit night, as spectral as a cat’s. He’d shed his wrecked shirt, and his skin, too, gleamed palely in the light.
“We seem to be making a habit of this, Inspector,” he said, his voice a mossy rumble of sound. “I thought we might take things to their inevitable conclusion.”
It was as dry a proposition as Lestrade had ever received, and yet it seemed like one he’d been waiting for his whole life. Without sitting up, he extended one arm outside his blankets and touched Sherlock’s chest above his heart.
He felt Sherlock go very still, and worried for a moment that he would shove the hand away. But then Sherlock covered Lestrade’s hand with his own and drew it downward, past a nipple that pebbled sharply as his palm dragged across it. Sherlock tipped his head back slightly, and faint sound escaped his parted lips.
Experimentally, Lestrade tugged gently at his hand, and Sherlock followed, straddling him with one ferocious lunge.
“Yes,” Lestrade said. “Yes.”
Sherlock had clearly never learned the etiquette for such things—questions asked, permissions granted—or perhaps he didn’t care. He drove his mouth, his teeth, down into the hollow of Lestrade’s shoulder, bruising, biting, taking what he wanted and moving on, stripping Lestrade of covers and pyjamas, learning his body the way Lestrade had seen him devour crime scenes. This was no dance of seduction; it was a survey, an incursion, and yes, perhaps, a conquest.
Lestrade didn’t usually go for younger men, much less men who indulged in the sort of vices Sherlock seemed to favor. But there was something about Sherlock, something unformed, almost feral—something that launched attacks on social pieties as fierce as any Maccabee’s: it woke some part of Lestrade he’d barely known existed. He would have laughed at the grandiosity of his fancies, but by then Sherlock had turned him over, was opening him with long, ungentle fingers, and he stopped thinking about anything for a long time.
Afterward, Sherlock slept as if his soul had left his body, long limbs sprawled across Lestrade’s bed like sea wrack. Wakeful, Lestrade traced sad circles around the needle marks in Sherlock’s arms and wondered what would happen next.
Chapter 2: The Most Pious Jew in the RAF
DC Martha Gummerman was getting married.
DC Martha Gummerman was getting married.
She’d joined Lestrade’s team six months ago, and a very welcome addition she’d been too, with the stamina of a long distance runner and the mind of the maths grad she was. He hardly recognized her standing under the hupa, her long, dark curls carefully arranged instead of scraped back into their usual bun. Not to mention the dress.
Martha was marrying the most pious Jew in the RAF, at least according to Sally Donovan. Given the number of Jews there probably were in the RAF, let alone the paratrooper divisions, Lestrade didn’t think there’d be much competition for that title. He’d said as much to Sally, who’d shrugged and told him that be that as it may, it was Eli Rosen and his family who had insisted on a religious wedding, with their own rabbi officiating. Martha had retaliated by inviting everyone she knew.
As Martha’s boss and co-religionist, Lestrade had been asked to take part in the service—an extremely dull reading from Psalms he was sure had been chosen by the groom’s family. His obligation completed, he twisted a little in his front row seat and surveyed the crowded synagogue. Eli’s entire paratrooper squad appeared to be there, all in dress uniform, yamulkas inexpertly perched on their bristly heads. Half of NSY seemed to be there as well, including a sulky Anderson and Sally herself, radiant in a dark red suit.
And there, towards the back, was Dr. John Watson. And next to him was Sherlock Holmes. Lestrade blinked in surprise. In the few short months that John had been sharing a flat with Sherlock he seemed to have acquired an ability to make Sherlock behave in a civilized fashion at which Lestrade could only marvel. He tried to make eye contact with Sherlock above the rows of guests, but Sherlock stared stonily ahead.
“Explain to me again why we’re eating at eleven o’clock at night?” John asked, materializing at Lestrade’s elbow in the drinks line of the thankfully posh hotel ballroom in which the reception was being held.
“Well,” Lestrade laughed. “According to my DS, the bride wanted a Saturday evening summer wedding, but the groom insisted they be married by a rabbi, and since rabbis don’t marry people on Shabbat, they had to wait until after sunset. So they both got what they wanted and—“
“Here we are,” John finished. “He really is the most pious Jew in the RAF.”
“So I’ve heard.”
They retreated to the edges of the party and sipped their vodka and limes. Nearby, the strapping Eli was horsing about with two of his even more strapping mates. The groom was clearly relieved that the wedding and the requisite picture taking were over. His bowtie was half undone, and his cheeks had started to go pink from booze.
“I didn’t realize you were Jewish,” said John, tilting his head quizzically at Lestrade.
“Yeah, well it’s not something that comes up too often in our line of work,” Lestrade answered. He did not add, and it never occurs to anybody that someone might be anything other than C of E unless they’re sporting earlocks and tefillin. It might have sounded a little bitter, and he was very much still finding his footing with John.
John at least had the grace not to press the issue. Or perhaps he was just too busy staring at Sherlock, who was across the room deep in conversation with the frail rabbi who had performed the marriage. Sherlock was wearing the deeply annoyed look he got when he was trying to prove a point to someone too obtuse to recognize the light of reason. Lestrade hated to think what that point might be, but the rabbi seemed to be taking it all in stride, perhaps just pleased someone cared enough to argue.
“He’s not—“ asked John suddenly.
“Good lord, no,” Lestrade told him. “Church with mummy every Sunday as a lad.” They shared an awkward laugh.
“Right. It’s just that there’re so many things I don’t know about him.” John didn’t sigh, exactly, but there was a sigh on his face.
Lestrade sympathized. Even after all the time that he and Sherlock had been—whatever it was they were to each other—he still felt that the then things he didn’t know about Sherlock far outweighed the things he did. John could probably tell him a thing or two, since John seemed to be surviving a situation that Lestrade and Sherlock had never even contemplated. There had been stretches of a week or more, over the years, when they’d spent every night together. But sharing a refrigerator? Eating breakfast every morning? It gave Lestrade a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach to imagine it.
“Does this mean that you and he are--?” he’d asked Sherlock when he’d first heard that John was moving into the Baker Street flat, trying to sound unmoved by the prospect.
It hadn’t fooled Sherlock at all. “Don’t be jealous,” he’d said, dismissively. “He’s straight as an arrow.”
But Sherlock saw something in John, even if it wasn’t that. Some kind of connection sparked between them—Lestrade couldn’t be the only one to notice it. It was a good thing, he told himself; Sherlock was too much alone, he needed people on his side. But he couldn’t ignore the way it got under his skin sometimes, like a splinter.
“How on earth did you get him to come to this?” he asked John abruptly.
Without warning, the bluff joviality dropped from John’s face like a stage curtain. “Same way you got him off the hard stuff, I expect.”
Lestrade hoped his face didn’t show how much the question rocked him on his heels. He was a surprising man, John Watson, not to be underestimated. “That wasn’t me, mate,” he said, deflecting as best he could. “You’ve met the brother, I assume?” A strained look passed over John’s face, indicating that he had indeed met Mycroft. “Well, it was all down to him, I’m afraid.”
And that was true enough, as far as it went. It was Mycroft who had made the calls and found the place, who had sent the car for Sherlock and collected him when he was released. But it had been Lestrade who’d sat with him in A&E the night the doctor told him another overdose could kill him, and Lestrade who’d paced the floor with him all night before the slick black car had come to pick him up.
It had been a good thing, a necessary thing. Sherlock had needed to get clean, had needed to become the formidable person he could only be sober. But it was also true that the off-again-on-again thing he’d had with Lestrade had been much more off than on since he’d gotten back. Sometimes Lestrade wondered if Sherlock hated him a bit for having known him then, for having seen him at his lowest.
But that was certainly not a topic for wedding conversation.
“We’d better sit down,” he said to John. “The toasts will be starting soon.”
Lestrade had been seated at one of the family tables, next to an elderly aunt and uncle who wanted to tell him all about how they’d advised Martha not to join the police force, but that meeting him had given them hope that a Jew could succeed at New Scotland Yard, despite the rumors of anti-semitism one was always hearing.
This, too, was a conversation he did not want to have.
He could see Sherlock and John at a table on the edge of the room. Anderson was there, too, though they were studiously ignoring him and speaking only to each other. John leaned in a bit, as Lestrade watched, and said something that made Sherlock bark with laughter. A wave of some black feeling washed over him—not jealousy, surely not jealousy—and he had to force his face, at least, into a state more proper for a wedding.
Luckily, the music started early. Too much drink and too little food so late at night had made everyone a little giddy, eager to hit the dance floor. Lestrade applauded as Eli and Martha danced to Roxy Music’s “More than This,” then prepared to make his excuses as soon as he could without being rude.
Before he could leave, however, Martha herself requested a dance. She’d pulled her hair back into something like its usual state, and shed the frillier parts of her dress. She looked so much like herself, in fact, that he couldn’t refuse, and so found himself dipping and swaying awkwardly to some hit from the eighties he didn’t recognize. Martha looked beautiful, though, and the joy came off her in megawatts. Lestrade decided he was glad to be here after all.
Right at that moment, however, at some mystical signal known only to bands that play at Jewish weddings, the music switched from nostalgic pap to “Hava Nagila.” Everyone shrieked with drunken glee, shifted around, and before he knew it, Martha had hold of one of his hands, a complete stranger had grabbed the other, and he had been pulled into a raucous and enthusiastic circle dance. He could have broken free, of course, but the spirit of thing was on him too, now, and he moved his feet in the familiar patterns, feeling an unexpected smile stretch across his face.
Everyone seemed to be dancing now: the elderly aunt and uncle he’d been sitting with, stepping with delicate precision; the RAF boys, who had no idea what they were doing, but seemed to welcome the chance to cut loose; even John, looking flushed and rumpled but happy all the same. It warmed Lestrade's heart towards him, to see John giving himself to the moment so freely.
No Sherlock, though; probably buggered off already, Lestrade thought.
One thing led inevitably to another, and soon enough, someone had hauled a chair over from one of the tables, sat a giggling Martha down upon it, and recruited enough strong shoulders to get her aloft—Lestrade’s among them, since he’d been standing right next to her at the time. The airmen must have been prepped in advance for this development, because they had the fourteen and a half stone Eli up in his own chair in record time. Lestrade hoped the hotel furniture was sturdier than it looked. Someone tossed up a handkerchief that the couple could hold between them, and the two little groups of chair-carriers circled and twirled in their archaic dance while the guests clapped around them. He couldn’t see Martha now, but he could feel as much as hear her laughter. The hem of her white dress hung down, tickling his face as they moved.
It was hard work, carrying a laden chair and dancing at the same time, and after a few minutes one of the less physically fit members of Team Martha called for a substitution. Lestrade almost dropped his share of the burden when he saw who had taken the man’s place. Because he and Sherlock had met in some strange places in their day, but they’d never before met under the bride’s chair at a Jewish wedding.
“What--?” he asked, forgetting to keep his feet moving.
Sherlock scowled. “It’s the only way I’ve been able to get close to you all night.”
“Oi,” said one of their fellow bearers, “step lively you two.”
Lestrade did. Much livelier than before, in fact, the sounds and faces around him melting into a pleasant blur. When they put Martha down, however—these things never went on for too long—Sherlock was gone.
“Roof, maybe? Wanted some fresh air,” said John in response to Lestrade’s question, too deep into his flirtation with one of the bridesmaids to pay much heed.
And sure enough, the familiar angular shape was silhouetted against the night sky when Lestrade found his way to the top of the hotel.
“I wish I had a cigarette,” said Sherlock, without turning around.
“You mean a nicotine patch, don’t you?” Lestrade came to stand beside him. London stretched out below them. Even from this height, the whirring, multitudinous life of it was a palpable force, comforting, somehow, after the enclosed space of the wedding.
“No. A proper cigarette. A whole pack of them. Maybe two.”
“Not your sort of thing, eh?”
“On the contrary. It was fascinating. I’m always interested in the devotion people pay to outmoded rituals.”
Lestrade wasn’t sure if the drawling contempt in Sherlock’s voice was meant for weddings in general or Judaism in particular. Either way, it made him want to hit him. He tangled his fingers in Sherlock’s hair, instead, and pulled him down into a rough kiss.
“Come home with me tonight,” he said, when they finally broke for air.
Sherlock met his gaze steadily and didn’t answer.
“Come home with me tonight, or I’ll break both your arms,” he growled,the tensions and frustrations of the evening coalescing into the fierce need to have this one thing, stake this one claim.
But this, for some reason, delighted Sherlock. He crowed with laughter, and the rare goofy grin that made one forget he was a genius split his face.
“Well, come on, then,” he said, without further ado.
“Should you tell John you’re leaving?” Lestrade asked, a pang of compunction hitting him as they exited the building.
“I’ll text him later,” said Sherlock, expertly folding himself into the cab summoned by the hotel staff. “Come along, man, you’re dawdling.”
Chapter 3: Gala
The next time there was dancing they quarreled. The quarrel was mostly silent, and took place almost entirely inside Lestrade’s head. But it was a quarrel nonetheless.
The next time there was dancing they quarreled. The quarrel was mostly silent, and took place almost entirely inside Lestrade’s head. But it was a quarrel nonetheless.
Mrs. Barton Bellamy Woods, a society matron whose family wealth derived from colonial holdings so obscure the empire had somehow forgotten to give them back, had chosen “Citizen Crime Stoppers” as her cause du jour. Sherlock was her poster child.
Exactly why Sherlock had consented to this public role, Lestrade couldn’t quite make out. Sherlock loved admiration, of course. And perhaps the fragrance of privilege and condescension that rose off Mrs.Bellamy Woods like mist off a summer meadow triggered something in his back brain. Lestrade tried not to be too cruel about it.
He himself thought it was all bollocks, this Lady Bountiful stuff, but that didn’t stop his traitorous heart from giving a little skip when Sherlock said, with his usual diffidence, “You’ll come to the gala with me, won’t you?”
To go out in public as a couple, as partners? Was Sherlock suggesting that, after all the years they’d been—whatever it was they’d been to each other? It wasn’t something they’d talked about. It certainly wasn’t what Lestrade wanted. He’d never been the type to court that kind of trouble.
And yet all those thoughts, and more, swirled up in his mind, like the air around you when you step off a cliff.
And crashed with him at the bottom when Sherlock went on, “Mycroft’s gone and bought a bloody table. John will want to bring Sarah, of course, but how we’ll fill up the rest of the seats I don’t know.“
Lestrade scowled. Sherlock took it for agreement.
“Good,” he said. “Best get that ratty tux of yours cleaned.”
In the end, they didn’t fill the seats, and Mycroft himself discovered urgent international business on the night in question. Anthea swanned in briefly, sipped demurely at a mineral water with lime, and then sailed off again in a cloud of exotic perfume. Otherwise, it was just John, Sarah, and Lestrade. Sherlock was sitting at the head table with Mrs. Bellamy Woods.
Lestrade watched him, unable to summon up much appetite for the expensive bits of meat and veg covered in bright, unrecognizable sauces. Sherlock was sandwiched between a teenager who’d invented a new kind of motion sensor to prevent crime in his tower block, and a granny who’d knocked a mugger unconscious with her cane. Only the granny looked like she was having a good time, though Sherlock was holding up better than he would've thought.
Lestrade tuned out most of the speeches. He made steady progress through his wine—thankfully better than the food—and let his eyes rove over the details of the posh hotel ballroom into which the guests were crammed: crystal chandeliers competed with florescent lights; the tastefully autumnal flower arrangements on the tables clashed somewhat with the majestic potted palms in the corners. It all made him itchy inside his newly dry-cleaned tuxedo.
What was he doing here? Clearly he was only there in relation to Sherlock. But what relation was that? Friend, if only in the strange way Sherlock had friends. Co-workers, of a sort. Sexual partners, yes, and for many years now, albeit with varying frequency, dwindling almost to nothing when work kept them too busy, or during dalliances with other people. Lestrade tried to remember the last time he’d been with someone else. He barely could. It had been a long time for Sherlock, too, as far as he knew.
Whatever they were to each other, though, it wasn’t public. Less secret than it had been, to be sure, now that John knew, and Sarah, and Lestrade’s family. Mycroft had probably always known. Had probably watched them on CCTV at some point, and wasn’t that a quelling thought? But still, they were decidedly not the kind of couple where he might be invited up to the head table as Sherlock’s plus one.
Getting old, Greg, he told himself. He never used to worry about such stuff. What was he looking for, matching cardigans and walks in the park on Sundays? Not a chance in hell of that. Even if it were the kind of thing he’d want.
Sherlock was speaking now, accepting his commendation. Lestrade watched him without really listening to his words. He was looking well. Not nearly as skeletal as he had been when Lestrade first knew him—filling out his beautiful, bespoke tux quite handsomely, in fact. The tux had emerged from the surprising depths of his closet along with a silk cummerbund and gold-cufflinks as if it had simply been awaiting the right moment to take possession of its owner.
“It suits you,” Lestrade had told Sherlock earlier that evening, straightening his bow tie and dropping a kiss on the corner of his mouth as they got ready to go out. “You should wear it more often.”
Sherlock had grumbled, but Lestrade had been right. He looked like he belonged up there, with Mrs. Bellamy Wood and her committee of wealthy donors. His wild hair had been tamed for the occasion, and his voice rang out confidently in the crowded room.
He seemed impossibly far away from Lestrade’s domestic fantasy of cardigans and walks. But not, Lestrade noted with chagrin, any less desirable.
He must’ve drifted farther into reverie then, because he almost jumped when the music started. He hadn’t quite realized there’d be dancing. But sure enough, a swing trio had made its way to the stage, and the easy rhythms of “Fly Me to the Moon,” began to fill the room.
John and Sarah had clearly anticipated this development, even looked forward to it, in Sarah’s case. She pulled John to his feet, and soon they were twirling each other about with more enthusiasm than skill. Lestrade watched them. The fit of Sarah’s dress was less than perfect—the straps kept falling down around her shoulders; John looked smarter than any of them in his dress uniform, but it was clearly too warm for the room, heating his cheeks to apple red. It didn’t matter: they looked lovely, leaning in towards one another, clearly enjoying each others’ company.
Lestrade scanned the room for Sherlock, and found him seated next to Mrs. Barton Bellamy Woods, his dark head bent in close to her platinum blonde one. The wine he’d drunk started to coil nastily in his stomach.
“Come on,” said Sarah, interrupting his gloom. “Your turn now.”
“Throwing in the towel already?” Lestrade asked John, who had flopped into a chair and was gulping his own wine.
“Someone claimed their psychosomatic war wound was acting up again,” Sarah said, with a pointed look.
The man in question shrugged and began unbuttoning his jacket. “These occasions do me in.”
“See what I have to put up with?” Sarah asked. “Help a girl out, will you?”
What could he do but say yes? He led Sarah back out onto the dance floor as the trio started in with “Night and Day.” He’d learned dance—his mother had been woefully old-fashioned that way—but he could count the occasions since his Bar Mitzvah when he’d used the skill on one hand. So he was surprised at how easily the steps came back to him.
“This is nice,” said Sarah, letting him lead.
And so it was. The lilt of the music, the rhythm of the steps, Sarah’s warm presence, all started to make up for the stuffy room, the bad food, even Sherlock’s distance.
Until, that is, Sherlock himself glided by, with Mrs. Barton Bellamy Wood in his arms.
Lestrade’s fragile happiness shattered. It wasn’t surprise at the fact that Sherlock knew his way around a ballroom—that was surely standard Holmes family training. Nor was it jealousy for Mrs. Bellamy Woods; there was a certain type of woman Sherlock fell for, to be sure, but it wasn’t lacquered matrons twenty years his senior.
No. It was simply the untoward, almost unprecedented, thought that had been dogging him all evening: that he and Sherlock would never dance like this together.
Sherlock, as he passed them, winked.
In retrospect, Lestrade was sure that Sherlock had meant it as a sign of solidarity, a little lifeline of connection in this alien place.
At the time, however, it stopped him in his tracks so suddenly he almost tripped Sarah. He could feel a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead and under his arms.
“What is it?” Sarah asked, suddenly a doctor again. “You’ve gone white as a sheet.”
“Nothing,” Lestrade told her. “Just my leg. I’ve overdone it, I think.”
In truth, the leg he’d broken in the spring had healed well and rarely gave him trouble. But something had started to hurt, a vague, indefinable ache that was everywhere and nowhere at all.
Sarah led him back to their table, apparently prepared to give his injury more credence than she’d give John’s.
“Beset by gimpy boyfriends, that’s what I am,” she told John, pouring Lestrade a glass of water. “Terrible dates, the both of you.”
John, however, took one look at Lestrade, and then searched the dance floor for Sherlock, still floating along with the unrufflable Mrs. Bellamy Woods. “What’s he done now?” he asked.
John, Lestrade had discovered, was as sharp in his own way as Sherlock. It was both a blessing and a curse.
“Nothing. He hasn’t done anything. He’s fine.”
John ignored his protests. “Don’t let him get to you. These toffs are enough to drive anyone potty. Come back with us after. We’ll get Chinese—no one could make a meal on this rubbish.” He poked at his plate disgustedly.
Lestrade smiled. It was nice of John to try. “Thanks, but no. I’m going home. Early start in the morning and I’ve been feeling a bit ratty all day.”
John and Sarah fussed and tutted over him solicitously, but Lestrade still pulled himself away. As he reclaimed his coat from the coat check, the band started playing, in unconscious irony, “What is This Called Love?” But when he scanned the room for a last glimpse of Sherlock, he couldn’t find him in the crowd.
Chapter 4: Rejoice
“You won’t like it," said Lestrade. "It’s a bunch of old men. First they pray, then they drink. And dance. There’s a lot of dancing.”
“I know perfectly well what Simchat Torah is,” Sherlock said pedantically. “You come to the end of the five books of the Torah and you begin again. Jews rejoice that God has given them the sacred books, so they dance. I didn’t know about the drinking. That sounds fascinating. You know how curious I am about the more atavistic religious rituals.”
It was two weeks after the gala before he heard from Sherlock again. For the first week, he didn’t think much of it. Even at their most intense, they had never been the type to speak every day. Lestrade figured it would probably take at least a week for Sherlock to even realize he wasn’t speaking to him.
As one week stretched into two, however, he started to find it strange that John, at least, hadn’t prodded Sherlock into making contact. The unpleasant idea that Sherlock wasn’t speaking to him either reared its ugly head. Perhaps this was it: the end of whatever had been happening between them for all these years. He tried to tell himself that would be for the best. They’d made a good run of it, considering, but anyone could see it wouldn’t do for the long haul: Sherlock was too strange by half, and, despite all Sherlock’s posturings on the subject, it was he, Lestrade, who was really married to his work.
His anger and hurt from the night of the gala started to fade, and if what was left in their wake was more sadness than relief, he tried his best to ignore it. Determined to start putting it all behind him, he rounded up the bits and bobs Sherlock had left at his flat over the years—a pack of nicotine patches, a fine wool scarf, a copy of Predictably Irrational--but he couldn’t bring himself to throw them away. He stared at the little pile of things for what seemed like hours, and then shoved it all into a kitchen drawer.
Luckily, it was the High Holidays, so he had plenty of family obligations to distract him, as well as professional ones.
It was only after he’d come out the other side of that period of busyness, feeling marginally less morose, that he hurried down the steps of his flat one evening to find Sherlock Holmes standing on the sidewalk outside.
They stared at each other for a moment. Sherlock’s bearing gave no clue as to why he was there. He looked as imperious as ever, the collar of his long black coat framing his pale face.
“What’re you doing here?” Lestrade asked cautiously. He couldn’t tell if he was glad or furious Sherlock had shown up out of the blue.
“I should think that would be obvious,” said Sherlock, with his usual disdain. “I was looking for you.”
The tone set Lestrade’s teeth on edge, and he decided there was something left of his anger from the gala after all. “Well you can’t have me right now, I’m afraid,” he said. “I’ve got family matters to attend to. If it’s a case you’re after, Dimmock’s on at the Yard—he should be willing to help you, as long as you mind your p’s and q’s.”
To Lestrade’s immense surprise, Sherlock’s brows drew together in concern. “Family matters? Is everyone all right? Ruth’s girls? Your mother?”
“No, no, nothing like that. Everyone’s fine. I just have to take my Uncle Avram to Simchat Torah services. Josh usually does it, but he’s away on business, and Ruth can’t do it because he goes to the world’s most orthodox schul: no women allowed in the sanctuary during the service. And I’m late already, so if you don’t mind—“
Sherlock was standing in front of Lestrade’s car, which he’d brought from the garage and parked in front of the flat earlier in the day specifically to save time. Fat lot of good it had done him.
“I’ll come with you, then,” said Sherlock.
Lestrade blinked. He had no idea how to interpret the gesture. It seemed a very bad idea. “You won’t like it. It’s a bunch of old men. First they pray, then they drink. And dance. There’s a lot of dancing.”
“I know perfectly well what Simchat Torah is,” Sherlock said pedantically. “You come to the end of the five books of the Torah and you begin again. Jews rejoice that God has given them the sacred books, so they dance. I didn’t know about the drinking. That sounds fascinating. You know how curious I am about the more atavistic religious rituals.”
Lestrade knew no such thing. He did know, however, that trying to change Sherlock’s mind once he’d set a course of action was more trouble than it was worth.
Uncle Avie was standing on the sidewalk waiting for them when they pulled up, the silk case of his talit tucked neatly under his arm. He was really Lestrade’s mother’s uncle, which made him Lestrade’s great uncle, but they’d always just called him Uncle Avie. He’d worked as a master tailor until his eyesight got too bad, and even now, in his mid-eighties, he cut a dapper figure—a neat pocket square adorning his brown suit, and shoes shined to a reflective gleam.
He’d never married, which had meant nothing more to Lestrade growing up than the absence of extra cousins to play with. Now, sometimes, he wondered about what it meant.
“Grisha,” Uncle Avie said, pulling him down to kiss him on both cheeks as soon as he got out of the car. “You’re so kind to take an old man to schul.”
“It’s no trouble,” said Lestrade, feeling Avie’s familiar, not unpleasant, scent of herring and shoe polish close in around him.
“I see you’ve brought your young man.” He gave Sherlock an assessing look as he unfolded himself from the passenger seat. “Your mother said he was a goy.”
“So he is, Uncle Avie, the most goyishe of them all,” said Lestrade, amazed, as usual, by his family’s capacity for personal remarks. He’d thought being more open about his sexuality might bring an end to the pointed comments. It seemed only to have increased them.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Silverman,” said Sherlock extending his hand.
Avie shook it, then reached up to finger Sherlock’s lapel. “Nice suit. Huntsman?”
“My man used to work there, yes.” Sherlock looked surprised and pleased.
“Thought so. Very distinctive style of stitches they have.”
“Do they?” Sherlock’s face wore an expression now that Lestrade recognized and didn’t entirely approve of. “Let me ask you, Mr. Silverman: if you were to see a fragment of a man’s suit, that had, say, been, buried for quite some time, perhaps with animal teeth marks defacing the weave—would you be able to identify the tailor that had made it?”
“Don’t see why not—as long you could still see the stitch work. Provided it was made in London, of course. Or Manchester. Or parts of Bristol. Of course, my eyesight’s not what it was,” Avie added modestly, touching his thick horn-rimmed glasses.
“Then I may have a proposition for you,” said Sherlock.
Lestrade threw up his hands. “Honestly. Get in the car, both of you, before we miss the whole service.”
In truth, he was only half annoyed. He enjoyed this side of Sherlock, the part that was always shamelessly mining unlikely resources, far more than whatever had been on display at Mrs. Bellamy Woods’s gala. He was glad to see it making an appearance.
By the time they reached Temple Beth El, Sherlock’s careful questions about thread weight and stitch count had Uncle Avie eating out of the palm of his hand, ready to follow him into any adventure, arthritis be damned.
Beth El was located in a part of London untouched by gentrification. Most of the Jewish families in the neighborhood had moved away long ago, or at least sought more progressive places of worship. The synagogue was now squeezed in between a 24-hour pharmacy and a mobile phone shop. Stepping through the door however, was like going back in time. A crowd of men Avie’s age milled in the vestibule, interspersed with a few attendant sons, nephews and grandsons. All longtime congregants, they greeted each other and exchanged news whilst shaking out their prayers shawls and trying to affix kippahs to thinning or nonexistent hair.
“You’ll have to wear one, too,” Lestrade told Sherlock. “If you’re still determined to come in.”
“Of course,” Sherlock said. “If I’m allowed.”
“Oh please. This isn’t the Masons. No secret rituals, no matter what you’ve been told. Just a bunch of duffers looking for an excuse to get drunk.”
That wasn’t true, of course. Simhat Torah was more than that. Lestrade had always been moved by its celebration of the dogged impulse to begin again once one had come to the end, to keep the cycle unbroken.
Contrite, he found a clip and secured the skullcap to Sherlock’s unruly hair. The simple touch jolted through him, and it suddenly seemed a long time since they’d been together.
The rabbi was as old and frail as his congregation, and his voice trembled sometimes during the chanting. No one seemed to mind. They all knew this by heart. Sherlock followed the service intently in the siddur; his Hebrew was infinitely better than Lestrade’s and he probably relished the extensive commentaries. Lestrade himself recited the familiar prayers without really paying attention, and let his mind wander back to the question of what Sherlock was really doing there.
As much as Sherlock liked to needle Lestrade about his Judaism, it wasn’t like him to participate in any actual religious practice. Indeed, Lestrade couldn’t remember it ever happening before. Was it an oblique act of penance for the miserable night of the gala, for the weeks without contact? That, too, was unlike Sherlock. Lestrade wasn’t sure why he’d take up the hitherto foreign practice of apology now. But if it was meant as such a gesture, it wasn’t a bad one. Lestrade had always had a soft spot for this Sherlock, the one who plunged blithely into unfamiliar situations, soaking up information like a sponge, even if he did offend a few people along the way.
Before he knew it, they were reading the death of Moses, the final parsha of the Torah, and starting again with the Bereishit, “In the beginning.” Then the Torah scrolls were brought down from the beema and the singing and dancing commenced.
“Why are they drinking?” asked Sherlock in a stage whisper, watching the men pass around a silver flask.
“Lowers the inhibitions,” Lestrade told him. “They want to express their joy in God’s gift of the Torah, but they need a little help letting it out.”
“Shouldn’t think this bunch needs much assistance,” Sherlock said, raising his eyebrows skeptically.
And it was true, Avie and his friends looked as ready to party as any gang of club hoppers on a Saturday night, eyes bright and cheeks pink. One of them—a wizened fellow named Sy—passed the flask to Sherlock, who took a healthy swig.
“Care to knock down some of the barriers to joy?” he said, proffering the flask to Lestrade with a mischievous grin.
Lestrade shook his head regretfully. “Not tonight, thanks. Designated driver, remember?”
There was certainly some order to the proceedings—someone must be keeping count of the prayers and songs and circling dances—but Lestrade lost track of it all very quickly. It didn’t matter. What was important was that on this one night, every congregant was allowed—nay commanded—not just to touch, but to dance with a Torah scroll in his arms, celebrating his love for the sacred text.
Lestrade hung back, watching. He hadn’t been to this service with Avie for a few years, but it was, as he remembered, a thing to behold. Each man expressed his joy in his own way: holding the scroll like a baby; moving with it like the most stately dance partner; capering in a wild jig. Their jackets had been discarded, their ties were loose, and their cotton wool hair stood up in clumps.
Eventually, someone pulled him into the haphazard line circling the scroll-laden dancers and he had to struggle for a moment to find his footing in the rhythm. When he looked up, the strangest sight of all met his eyes.
For there was Sherlock, looking impossibly tall among the stooped old men, holding the Torah in his arms and twirling madly, face lifted to the ceiling like the most ecstatic disciple of the Baal Shem Tov.
Lestrade stared. The vision seemed too improbable to be real. But perhaps not, he thought. If there was a religious holiday that could move Sherlock, surely it would be one that celebrated an ancient, contradictory, impossible book.
And then, more improbably still, someone thrust the second scroll into his own arms, and pushed him out into the middle, too.
Lestrade stood stock still for a moment, feeling mortified and exposed. This wasn’t what he’d signed on for. The Torah felt heavy in his hands, and he couldn’t get it positioned right against his shoulder.
But Sherlock, at least, seemed pleased that he was there. He lowered his gaze from the heavens and smiled, as open and untroubled as Lestrade had ever seen him. Following some lunatic pattern of his own invention, he began to weave his steps around Lestrade until they were, in some weird way, dancing together: circling, crossing paths, approaching and retreating, without ever touching one another.
It was magical, intimate in some way Lestrade couldn’t describe, even with the circle of men around them singing and laughing and stomping their feet in the dance.
As if Sy’s liquor had entered his veins without his taking a sip, he felt his body lighten, his steps quicken, an answering smile on his own face. His eyes locked so fiercely with Sherlock’s the rest of the world slipped away.
Lestrade was hard-pressed to remember what happened after that. Somehow, he and Sherlock got out of the center of the circle. Somehow, and with appropriate ritual, the Torah scrolls were returned to the ark. The last prayers were said and the kiddush wine was drunk. The elderly congregants, stumbling a bit now, their prodigious energy deserting them, were shepherded into the cars of sober drivers.
When he at last came back to himself, he found Avie, Sy and rotund gentleman named Nate piled into the rear seat of his car, having ceded the front passenger seat to Sherlock. Squished together like congenial sardines, the men in the back giggled like school girls and told a series of increasingly off-color jokes. Lestrade hoped Sherlock didn’t know quite how many Yiddish words there were for penis.
He probably did, of course, but for the moment he seemed to have lost interest. He looked out the window as they made an epic journey around Northeast London dropping off the old men. Occasionally, the lamplight would catch his pale eyes, turning them translucent, or he would give Lestrade an unreadable look. But he remained silent.
Lestrade got out of the car to escort his uncle up to his second-floor flat. Avie seemed a bit wobbly after the excitement of the night and he patted Lestrade’s hand gratefully when he slipped it through the crook of his elbow.
Turning when they reached the doorway of his flat, he cupped a leathery palm around Lestrade’s cheek. “You’re a good boy, Grisha. It’s a mitzvah, taking care of your uncle like this.”
“I don’t mind, honestly. I enjoyed the service.”
But Avie wasn’t finished. He peered at Lestrade, eyes red and rheumy behind his spectacles. “Your fellow, he’s a bit of an odd bird.” Lestrade snorted at the truth of that. “But I like him. He’s a keeper. Don’t let him get away because of something you think you should want.”
Lestrade blinked. It was by far the most personal thing his uncle had ever said to him. How do you know?, he wanted to say, did something like that happen to you?
But before he’d managed to formulate a response, Avie had pressed a boozy kiss to his forehead and disappeared into his flat, humming some tuneless ancient song.
Lestrade got back into the car, and without consulting the still silent Sherlock, steered them back to his flat. He parked, and then sat for a few seconds, gathering himself.
“So,” he said. “Can we talk about the real reason you came to find me tonight?”
to be continued
Chapter 5: Midnight
The one where they touch.
Unbeta'd, like the rest of it, but thanks to dogpoet for the JPA.
As if adhering to some spontaneous mutual contract, they didn’t speak at all as they made their way out of the car and up the stairs to Lestrade’s flat.
Lestrade unlocked the door. Without consulting Sherlock, he went straight to the kitchen and took the whisky bottle and a tumbler from the top left-hand cupboard. The first shot felt good going down, so he refilled the glass and swallowed a second, still facing the worktop. He had some catching up to do, after staying sober through the Simhat Torah festivities. Not to mention the strength he’d need to get through this conversation with Sherlock.
“Did John put you up to this?” he asked finally, still not turning around.
He could hear Sherlock’s shrug even if he couldn’t see it. “John pointed out that I was even more difficult than usual to live with when you and I were quarreling. Though the language he used to express the sentiment was, shall we say, forceful. And colourful.”
Lestrade poured himself a third shot of whisky, and bolstered by the burn of alcohol at the back of his throat, finally turned around. Sherlock stood very straight, barely inside the door to the kitchen, his arms at his sides. His expression was nearly blank, no derision or condescension in it at all. Which, Lestrade reflected, was probably as close as he could come to looking apologetic.
“And did you even realize we were quarreling? Or did John have to explain that to you, too?” The whisky had rekindled a bit of Lestrade’s anger, and he was grateful to it for that.
A trace of the usual irritated superiority returned to Sherlock’s voice. “Of course not. That was obvious the minute you left that dreadful gala. I just thought eventually you’d realize how foolish a thing it was to be upset over. It didn’t mean anything.”
Lestrade felt suddenly exhausted, limbs like lead and the tumbler heavy in his hand. It seemed impossible to make Sherlock understand what had so angered him about the event. How could he explain that perhaps the very lack of meaning had been the most upsetting thing of all?
Yet, John, it seemed, had proleptically saved him from having to try. Sherlock’s mouth twisted. “John’s argument, as far as I could make out—he’s not very articulate when he’s emotional, have you noticed that?—was that it didn’t matter whether I thought it was important—what mattered was that you did.”
“And you were persuaded by this?” Lestrade felt just a bit lighter, imagining Sherlock being berated by a furious, and probably very articulate, John Watson.
“No. It’s a rubbish argument. It was just—“ Sherlock paused, and seemed to pull himself up even straighter. His eyes flicked away from Lestrade to focus on the kitchen cabinets behind him. “The thing was: while John was going on about all that, I—well—I realized I missed you.”
Lestrade’s exhaustion turned abruptly to a kind of weakness. He thought he might have to sit down, right there on the floor. Probably just the booze hitting his system. Or the fact that he couldn’t remember Sherlock ever saying those words to him before.
“So you came to what? Inform me of this epiphany?” he managed, sagging back against the worktop.
“John thought I should bring you flowers and chocolate,” Sherlock said, his eyes back on Lestrade’s face. “But I thought I might owe you a dance.”
So Sherlock had known all along what the issue was—the crux of it anyway. Stupid, Lestrade told himself, to have ever thought otherwise. It had just taken this long for Sherlock to decide it was a problem that merited a solution.
Sherlock moved towards Lestrade. Lestrade tensed. Sherlock had his moments of wild, almost violent effusiveness, and he wasn’t sure he was ready for one of those. But Sherlock paused about six inches away, digging in the pockets of his coat and pulling out his phone and a pair of ear buds.
Curious now, Lestrade watched as Sherlock shed his coat, letting it fall to the kitchen floor in a black puddle of cloth, and then closed the distance between them. Sherlock plugged the ear buds into the phone, affixed one to his right ear, and placed the other in Lestrade’s left.
Lestrade held himself very still. It was the kind of thing teenagers did, he thought, as Sherlock’s long fingers pushed the nub of plastic into his ear—hell, it was the kind of thing his little nieces did, giggling over some boy band. But Sherlock’s precise movements made it feel more like being wired for some undercover job. And yet not quite that: the small, deft touches held their own charge, raised the traitorous hairs on Lestrade’s skin.
“Dance with me?” Sherlock said, very quietly, tapping something on the screen and then slipping the phone into his trouser pocket. He put one hand on Lestrade’s shoulder and the other on his waist and drew him away from the worktop. Lestrade went without resistance, something that was both a shiver and an easing of tension working its way through his chest.
If you had asked him to guess what music would come out of Sherlock’s phone, he would’ve been stumped—something classical, or else esoterically electronic, he would’ve said, if pressed. So he was startled into laughter when bright horns and Wilson Pickett’s throaty growl insinuated itself into his ear.
“Have you always had this on there?” he asked, as Sherlock pulled them both back into the sitting room, his hands still on Lestrade, but keeping the cord of the ear buds slack between them.
Sherlock looked rather proud. “Just since today. Hacked into John’s iTunes account. His taste in music isn’t nearly as bad as you’d expect.”
I’m gonna wait ‘til the midnight hour, Pickett sang, voice heady with erotic promise. That’s when my love comes tumbling down..
They swayed together, not trying to move much. Lestrade could feel himself relaxing further into Sherlock’s familiar touch, his scent of chemicals and fine wool and whatever expensive product he used on his hair. After a moment, he moved closer, lining his temple up with Sherlock’s cheekbone. Sherlock’s hand slid farther down Lestrade’s side to hold his hip, while the other came up to the nape of his neck.
Lestrade wasn’t sure he would call it dancing, but it was surprisingly pleasant, whatever it was. Pleasant to be held, to be able to lean a little into Sherlock’s body, to listen to the music and not have to think about what to say or do. He knew he had been angry, that he’d recently had many things he wanted to say to—to shout at—Sherlock. But his body had forgotten them all, even if his mind still dimly remembered. He was barely conscious of tilting his head so that they could begin to kiss.
Sherlock’s lips were a jolt of nostalgia, though it had been a mere two weeks since they’d touched. Lestrade felt as if he were recovering some lost treasure, all the more precious for having been lost. He went slowly, they both did: their goal more repossession than exploration. Sherlock tasted like whisky, as he probably did himself, and Lestrade closed his eyes, drinking it in.
The last chords of the song died away. Silence followed—Sherlock’s romantic impulse apparently hadn’t extended to a playlist. Sherlock continued to kiss him, but Lestrade pulled away.
“I don’t know if I want this,” he said.
Sherlock looked at him seriously. He removed Lestrade’s ear bud and then his own, slipping the cord into his pocket with his phone before he responded. “I know. You wanted something more public. We can go out now if you like. The clubs will still be open. Or: I promise to go with you to the next Jewish Police Association social networking event and dance with you all night. Will that do?”
Lestrade smiled. Of course Sherlock would do any of those things and more—would’ve from the very first. Being out had always been more Lestrade’s issue than his.
When Lestrade didn’t say anything, though, something almost like hurt came into Sherlock’s eyes. “Unless you mean you don’t want…” he began, lifting his hand from where was still resting lightly on Lestrade’s shoulder.
Lestrade grabbed it before Sherlock could move too far away. “Not that. Never that.” His own vehemence surprised him—just yesterday he’d thought he’d moved on from the torment of loving Sherlock Holmes. He made himself speak more lightly. “Just getting old, I suppose. Thinking about Sunday afternoons in the park, cardigans and Yorkshire terriers.”
Sherlock curled his fingers through Lestrade’s and frowned. “I don’t do pets. Too yappy. Too much of a temptation for experiments. And cardigans are droopy. Parks, though,” he pulled at their joined hands until they were flush against each other again, “Parks are endlessly fascinating. You never know what you’re going to find in London park.”
Lestrade laughed. It was an unexpected response to the thoughts that had been plaguing him for weeks, but it seemed to be the answer he’d been waiting for. Perhaps Uncle Avie had been right. Lestrade had thought he’d been longing to settle down, when what he’d really wanted was the assurance that Sherlock still wanted company in his relentless movement.
“Let’s go to bed,” Lestrade said, tabling the question for the moment. “I’ll let you prove to me whether you’re a hot enough date for the JPA social.”
Over the years, Lestrade and Sherlock had tried—if not everything, than a reasonable sampling of the available positions. Lestrade considered it one of the perks of the relationship. With another partner, he was sure he would’ve fallen into a rut quick enough. But Sherlock’s irrepressible curiosity kept them experimenting. For this reason, he usually let Sherlock take the lead.
Tonight, though, he knew what he wanted.
“Come here,” he said, once they’d undressed. He pulled Sherlock over to stand between his parted legs as he sat on the edge of the bed. “Ride me? I want to see your face.”
Sherlock smiled his assent, something hungry in his face now, and pushed Lestrade back against the mattress. He took lube and condoms from the nightstand drawer and straddled Lestrade, staying high enough on his knees to reach behind and finger himself open with lubed up fingers. As always, as ever, the sight of his narrow body, arched slightly, dark head bent forward, the tiny sounds of effort he made, aroused Lestrade. He palmed his own cock, feeling himself harden.
Then Sherlock’s hand, slick with lube, closed around his, nudging him off. Sherlock rolled a condom over him with the same precision with which he’d placed the ear buds in Lestrade’s ear, with the same precision with which he did everything. Lestrade wondered whether he’d ever stop finding that precision erotic.
As Sherlock lowered himself slowly onto Lestrade’s cock, Lestrade had a flashing memory of the first night they had spent together in this bed—the almost feral wildness he’d sensed in Sherlock then, the barely controlled ferocity. It was still there, under the hard-won sobriety and the new respectability—Lestrade could feel it in the movements of Sherlock’s hips—small, but nowhere near gentle. Lestrade dug his fingers into the meager flesh of Sherlock’s arse, marking a claim or just hanging on, he couldn’t have said.
They didn’t last long. It had been a long day, and the paths of their desire were too well-known, too easily followed, to justify delaying the end. Lestrade came with a satisfying burst of sensation, and then enjoyed the sight he’d been longing for—Sherlock’s face slack with pleasure, as together they stroked him to his climax.
The blackout sleep of Sherlock’s addict days was a thing of the past. He was a restless sleeper now, murmuring in his dreams, or jabbing Lestrade with a wayward elbow or knee as he tossed. Lestrade would open his eyes in the middle of the night to find Sherlock tapping something into his phone, or puttering about the flat—or gone entirely. So he wasn’t surprised to wake up and find a fully-dressed Sherlock perched on the side of the bed, though dawn was barely breaking behind the curtains.
“You off, then?” Lestrade muttered. He wasn’t worried—whatever quarrel they’d been having, they’d sorted it out in their own way the night before.
Sherlock nodded. “Can’t sleep.” He leaned in and kissed Lestrade, just a dry brush of lips. “Need to ring my tailor. Had an idea about how to make cardigans a bit less droopy.”