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It isn't until he's nearly home that he starts to feel like the world's worst excuse for a human being. Although not normally given to bouts of introspection, he tries to puzzle out why. Post-coital guilt has never really been his thing. He plays through the events of the evening, trying to determine if he's done something to be ashamed of. It's nearly impossible to remain detached, and in a few moments he's rewatching the curve of her back as he works in her, but the average human memory on visual matters is only 62% accurate, and he knows he's got it wrong. The musculature in her back is too pronounced, the curve of her arse is entirely different and—the cab jerks to a stop and John's eyes fly open. Oh bloody hell.

He climbs out and pays off the driver, acutely aware that he's already getting hard again and really not wanting to examine the reasons too closely. There is no way in hell he's going into the flat in this state, and he stands on the pavement for a few moments with his head lowered, taking deep breaths, fists clenched at his sides.

It takes longer than he would have thought to will his body into submission. He lifts his head and squares his shoulders, and opens the door of 221B as if nothing has happened.

In retrospect, he really should have known better.

Sherlock has disregarded part of his instructions, and is still awake and using John's laptop when John comes in. He's at least gratified to see a dirty plate at Sherlock's elbow, indicating that he wasn't entirely ignored. “Feeling better?” John can see the corner of Sherlock's mouth twitch by the light of the computer screen. He really should have showered before leaving Maggie's, but if he had, Sherlock would still know,simply from the fact that he'd showered.

“Yes. Thank you.” John passes through the flat to the bathroom for a shower, hopefully to forestall any further questions about his evening activities. Hopefully.

After, he hopes to slip past Sherlock and go to bed and sleep for the next day or so. All of his luck seems to have been spent earlier in the evening. As he walks past, Sherlock says, “'Walk' is a euphemism of which I was previously unaware.” He looks so smug that John's fingers clench involuntarily. “'Walking' agrees with you. You're much less out-of-sorts now.” It's bad enough that Sherlock knows exactly what he's been up to. John tries to keep his face concealed by shadows out of fear that Sherlock will be able to read his expression and know exactly what he was thinking while he was doing it.

“Sherlock, just go to bed.” He escapes to his room and into blessed unconsciousness.


When he wakes the next afternoon, he rolls over and reaches to check his phone. There's a text waiting for him from Maggie.

I will never look at my front door the same way again.

John smiles and rolls over on to his back, hands behind his head. There's not much on tap for him today. He should write up the latest case, although aside from “Three Days Trapped in Hell with My Insane Flatmate” he's not feeling terribly inspired on a title.

He spends a moment trying to come up with a return text to Maggie. Feeling just a little bit wicked, he responds with: Wait until you see what I can do with a table.

Rather than waiting for a response, he rolls out of bed and gets dressed. Sherlock is still asleep, to judge by the closed door—normally he leaves it open. John goes through his usual routine: tea, toast, papers, even though it's a few hours later than usual. Lestrade rings just before he's finished the Telegraph. He calls Sherlock's mobile, but John has no qualms about reaching over to check, then answer it. It's not like Sherlock ever gets a call that isn't case-related.

“Sherlock's still sleeping,” is how he answers.

He sleeps? John, can you wake him for this one?”


“Pretty bad, yeah.”

“Yeah, hang on.” John pauses. “Can I call you back? This could get ugly.” The problem with never sleeping is that when he did sleep, Sherlock slept hard.

He rings off and pockets Sherlock's phone. He pauses a moment before knocking. “Sherlock. It's Lestrade, he's got a case.”


Louder knock.

Still nothing.

He knows Sherlock has to be around—he would have never left the house without his phone. John has a brief moment of wondering if something has gone wrong and quickly dismisses it, swinging the bedroom door open.

Sherlock is sprawled loose-limbed across his bed on his stomach. His back is bare and he's knocked away blankets. Both arms are curled bracket-wise around his head. At first John thinks something is wrong, but after a second he realizes it's just that he's never seen Sherlock this still before. He's reluctant to wake him. Hell, he's reluctant to even approach him. Lestrade sounded pretty grim, so John steps forward. His brain helpfully supplies images of Maggie from the night before, just in case he was interested in making a comparison. He tries to tell himself it's too much like seeing your sister naked, before reaching down to give Sherlock's shoulder a gentle shake.

Sherlock's skin is hot, almost fevered, to the touch, as if all of the mental energy that went unused as he slept is channelling through his body. It's also quite smooth, almost like marble worn away by time, and John can feel a surprising layer of muscle under—and what the bloody hell is he thinking? John gives Sherlock another, firmer shake, and steps back.

“Sherlock. Case.”


“Look, Lestrade called, and he's got a case. He sounded pretty shaken.”

“I'm awake.” Sherlock doesn't open his eyes at first, then cracks one to peer at John. “Coffee?”

“Right. Get dressed. I'll make some.” John makes a sharp turn and leaves, not precisely beating a retreat so much as making a tactical withdrawal.


The crime scene is a messy one. Detachment is something John has down to an art form. It's the only way to look at walls covered in blood and a mangled body without going mad. Today though, today he can't focus. He talks with Lestrade about the possible cause of death—surprisingly, or perhaps not, there are several possibilities—but his eyes keep going back to Sherlock. John is confused, and just a little bit frightened.


John blinks, aware that Lestrade had spoken to him more than once. “I'm sorry. Rough night. You were saying?”

“I said, 'You're sure she didn't just bleed out?'”

“Not one hundred percent. It could be. We'll need a more thorough post-mortem to be sure.” Sherlock finishes his initial examination of the room and is coming towards them. John continues, gesturing at the gore around them. “Believe it or not, this isn't actually enough blood for exsanguination.”

“Christ,” Lestrade responds. Sherlock's ready to debrief the DI, so John wanders away. The dizzying speed with which Sherlock observes thinks is normally fascinating, but it's too much right now. There's too much John wants to hide. He ducks his head and reaches for his mobile.

Busy tonight? He knows it's probably too soon, but right now seeing Maggie again seems like the best answer to everything that's wrong.

They're on their way back to 221B before he gets a response. Nothing I won't gladly shift. Drinks at my place, 10pm? And just like that, relief floods through him.



He looks up. “Hm?”

“All right? You... sighed.”

“Oh... it's Harry. She wants me to come round tonight.” He doesn't stop to think about why he's lying to Sherlock, or even to think that he might be able to get away with it. The words just come out. Mercifully, Sherlock is distracted by the game.

“Mm,” is the only response he gets, and not for the first time, John is grateful for Sherlock's occasional bouts of silence.


The drinks never actually happen. As soon as he's through the door, they're on each other. They manage to make it to the couch, fumbling at each other with mouths locked together and oh god she's wearing a scarf for fuck's sake, just a little knitted thing a woman might wear for extra warmth in the office, but it's a scarf and it's dark blue and it matches her eyes and John knows right then he is going out of his mind. All he wants to do is tear away everything but the scarf and fuck her until they both scream.

After, breathless, he lays sprawled atop her on the couch, legs still quivering and burning in the afterglow. She smiles a dark-edged smile up at him. “Dr. Watson, you certainly know how to impress a girl. I'd make a comment about your bedside manner, but we seem to have a terrible time making it there.” Her face is flushed with exertion and the chemicals in her bloodstream. She laughs and tugs away the scarf, as if noticing it for the first time. “Oh for Christ's sake. We were distracted, weren't we?”

He's a little relieved that fucking her face-to-face made it easier to keep her in his mind—easier, but not easy. He lowers his head to nip at the fevered flesh that had been hidden by the scarf, drawing a low growl from her throat. Her skin is so overheated, radiating heat, it's almost like—John bites down on that thought as he bites down on the side of her throat, hearing her sounds change to a gasp, then a moan. He draws back away from her and tugs her to her feet. He's not a large man, but he's strong, and what's more, he's determined. Pulling her mouth down to his, he leans her back against his arm and scoops her behind her knees, carrying her to the bed.