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The next morning he wakes up in an unfamiliar bed—he thinks he may have texted Sherlock to tell him he wasn't coming home, but he can't remember—and the first thought in his mind is, This can't be healthy. Maggie is curled on her side away from him, breathing with the faint soft susurrus of the deeply asleep. He rolls to his side and props himself up on his elbow to study her. She's gorgeous, just fucking gorgeous, and by all rights she should be utterly out of his league. The pale skin that caught his eye practically gleams in the early morning light—like marble. He reaches out a finger to stroke down the curve of her spine, tempted to wake her. The way she moves beneath him when he's deep inside the hot, sweet pussy of hers, the way she tastes, it's everything he associates with the word 'feminine'. So why is it that all he can think of is how badly he wants to cover the boyish curve of her arse with kisses, bites and then--

He rolls back on to his back with a huff of frustration, tugging the coverlet over his chest. This can't be healthy. He's a doctor for fuck's sake. He did a clinical rotation in psychiatry. It's textbook, what he's doing. The only question is why. His sexual experience with men has been pretty much limited to typical adolescent horseplay—and well, things sometimes happen when you're stationed far from home, and it's not like anybody in his squadron was taking it seriously. It's never been anything he's thought about otherwise. Men don't do it for him. Except.

Except one does. And John has no idea what to do with that, how to process it, aside from finding a woman who looks just like him and fucking her like a madman. This is not, he is fairly certain, a sustainable state of affairs.

For one thing, it's completely unfair to Maggie. She deserves better than this. If he's smart—if he's honourablehe'll just get up out of her bed right now and go home.

John gets so far as to throw back the coverlet and swing his legs over the side of the bed. He hears rustling behind him as Maggie stirs. “Oi,” she says, sleep clouding and roughening her voice. “Are you pulling a runner on me?”

He turns to look at her, tousled and warm against the sheets, and doesn't know what to say. Maggie's eyes grow more alert as she struggles to sit up and keep the covers against her chest. “John. What is it?”

“This is—this has been amazing. More than amazing. And I--”

She lifts a hand and rests a finger against his lips to stop him. “You never really said. Are you cheating on someone?”

Yes. “No. No, nothing like that. I'm single.” He gives a short bark of a laugh. “Perpetually single. It's that... This wasn't—this wasn't anything I was really planning for. My life is, well it's a bit crazed, to be honest. I don't want you to--”

Maggie's expression relaxes from concerned to amused. “Oh bless. I'm not going to fall in love with you, John.” She takes his hand. “Look, you're a fantastic shag, really just bloody fantastic. And that's all I have room for right now.”

He raises his eyebrows. “You're serious?”

She laughs. “No, I'm not. That's what I just said, weren't you listening?” She leans forward, letting the sheet sag away from her body, and presses her mouth to his, short and hot. “This, right here and now, is just fine.”


John returns home to find Sherlock staring blankly into space, almost exactly as he'd left him twelve hours before. Had the man moved at all all night? “Morning,” John says. “Get my text?”

“Yes. And how is Harry?” The slight, oh-so-slight emphasis on the last word. John knows he's on dangerous ground.

“Fine. She's fine. Listen, have we got anything on for today?” Keep talking, talk right past whatever Sherlock's about to come out with. “I was thinking we could--”

“John.” The word severs his sentence as neatly and definitively as a cleaver. “Where you spend your nights and who you spend them with is none of my concern.”

What an odd sensation, to feel his heart sinking in his chest. Strange. Inexplicable.

Sherlock continues, “Do not, however, think you can deceive me about it. Don't ever think you're capable of that.”

The sinking feeling is replaced with a flare of heat, fast burning and hungry. “Not—I'm not..? You don't know what I'm capable of.” His mind races ahead of words, snatching up the right ones and putting them in order. He steps forward, hands curled loosely. “You—you utter prick. You know, despite what you think, you don't know everything there is to know about me. I don't care if you are the magnificent Sherlock fucking Holmes. You have a blind spot so fucking complete you don't even know it's there, and there are parts of me that just vanish behind it.”

John is gratified to see that he's startled Sherlock. But not gratified enough to stick around. “John, I--”

“Sod off,” John says, and slams his way up the stairs to his room.


The next few days are passed in silence. John proves that Sherlock is not the only one who can hold a sulk for an extended period of time. He doesn't see Maggie in that time, although they do exchange a few texts.

-You didn't tell me you were famous.


-Famous blogger, John Watson. :) Bloody hell, your flatmate isn't half dishy. How do you live with that?

-Well, what he lacks in general good manners he makes up for with an overwhelmingly poor sense of appropriate behaviour.

-Tch. Bit of a tiff, then?

A few days later, he and Sherlock are in the back of a cab, racing towards the latest atrocity that needs their expertise. John's phone chimes, and he finds a photo of Maggie, naked and visible only from the shoulders down, standing with her back facing a mirror, and thus, the camera. The perfect lunar glow of her skin shines up at him from his phone, the memorable and enticing curves of her arse. He forgets to breathe.

Accompanying it: When can I see you again? I have a surprise for you.

John stares at it for several moments. His phone is carefully angled away from Sherlock, but he's Sherlock, he's going to recognize a change in John's breathing patterns. Just thinking the name gives him a desperate desire to compare the two figures side by side, cataloguing their similarities and differences for later consideration. Distracted, he finds himself doing the next best thing, comparing a mental image with the one in front of him, trying to sort it out—this one is desirable, this one is not.

He forgets where he is, until there's a low rumble at his ear and the sound of it shoots straight down his spine, sending him bolt upright. “John?”

He manages to get the phone tucked, barely in time. “Hm?”

Sherlock is focused on him with unsettling intensity. “I just wanted to say... I'm—that is, you were right. I do underestimate you at times. That's...” a slight grimace to force out the next word “...foolish of me.”

“Sherlock, are you trying to apologise to me?”

Sherlock squares his shoulders as if to a difficult and unpleasant task. “Yes. That's it. I apologise. For, for underestimating you.” He waves a hand vaguely, as if that's covered the subject.

John leans back into the cab's seat and looks out the window for a moment. “That's all right then.”


Maggie asks him to meet her at the pub where they met. He steps in from the cold night air and loosens his scarf, looking over the crowd. It's busy for a Tuesday night, and raucous. There's footy on the television, most likely the draw. He tries to see who's winning when he sees the tall figure standing at the edge of the bar and freezes.

It is a literal impossibility. When John left the flat, Sherlock was hunched over an experiment in his dressing gown. There is no way the man got dressed and beat him down here, even assuming he knew where John was going. And yet, there he is, standing with his back to John, billowing coat and all. Panic hits him like a gust of wind. How on earth could he explain Maggie? She'd be here any minute.

Sherlock turns around, and the floor drops out of the world. Maggie. He's unable to say anything, unable to make a sound as she moves toward him with leopard grace. John's face burns hot and cold and for a moment he's worried he might pass out.

The resemblance is so uncanny John resists the urge to rub his eyes. The coat. How had she found a fucking identical coat? The scarf was back, and he could see the silk blouse and neatly pressed trousers beneath the folds of wool. He'd chalk it up to horrible, horrible coincidence but for the evil smile on Maggie's lips as she reaches him. She leans forward she speaks in his ear so he can hear her over the sport. “Like my coat?”

He can't speak for the roaring in his head, shame and sickened desire twisting like eels in his gut. She pulls away from him, lips pursed. “What, it's not as much fun if I know?”