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A Study in Frustration

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John blinked and rubbed the sleep from his eyes with the back of his hand. He squinted at his flatmate. It was seven o’clock Sunday morning and Sherlock was already on. John thanked God he had pulled on some tracksuit bottoms and an undershirt before he ventured out of his room. Facing Sherlock’s manic side wearing only his pants would’ve been less than pleasant.

“Oh good, you’re awake.” Sherlock jumped up from his chair, still in his pyjamas and blue robe, a pale blur of angles and dishevelled hair. “I’ve been waiting for you.” He crossed the room so quickly that John took a tentative step back into his bedroom.

“Waiting? It’s only seven… I’m not actually awake yet.” John waved his hand in the general direction of the kitchen. “I just got up to get a drink.”

Sherlock frowned.

John wandered past Sherlock and into the kitchen, trying to piece together the end of his dream. There had been running and heavy rain and too many locked doors, but the details faded as he focused on the singular task at hand.

He peered into the fridge, contemplating the advantages of orange juice over ice water. He paused at the sight of milk tucked away in the back. He hadn’t bought it so how the Hell did it get in there?

“John when you’re done in there, I’m going to need your assistance.”

John sighed.

My assistance.

John had the milk carton halfway to his mouth before he thought better of it and poured himself a proper glass.

“I’m going back to bed, you know.” John called to the sitting room. “I only got up to get a-”

He stopped. Sherlock stood in the doorway.

“It will only take a few minutes.” Sherlock lifted the glass of milk from John’s hand and carried it back out to the sitting room.


“Two minutes John. It’s for a case I’m working on. I think you’ll find it quite interesting.”

John sighed, defeated. There was no way he was going back to bed until he dealt with Sherlock first. It wasn’t far past seven, if he could get back in bed by seven-thirty, he could still get a few hours sleep before Sarah dropped in to pick him up for brunch. Two minutes. He could do two minutes.

“Alright.” John followed Sherlock back to the sitting room. “So what are you working on?”

Sherlock pulled a pleased half-smile and positioned John in the centre of the room.

“Mildly interesting case I looked into last night. Lestrade asked me to do the heavy lifting for him again. Dead body found in an escort’s flat. Yes, stand right there.”

“I dunno, it sounds straight forward.” John offered. “Didn’t the escort do it? How did the man- The victim was a man, right?”

“Yes, now turn your back to me,” Sherlock ordered.

John turned around. “How did he die?” He flinched as Sherlock’s long fingers closed spider-like around his shoulders. Sherlock hovered at John’s back, shifted him two paces to the left, then two back to the right, turned him this way and that, muttering about angles and the distance to the far wall.

“Heart attack,” Sherlock answered after a long minute of positioning and repositioning. “What I still haven’t figured out is the exact time line. Could you bring your wrists together behind your back?”

Half-awake, John did as he was told.

“Perfect.” Sherlock whispered the word against John’s neck.

Before John could register what was happening, Sherlock had a length of rope looped around his left wrist and was securing it tightly to his right. He struggled, wide awake now, as Sherlock bound his wrists behind his back.

“What are you doing?” John shook himself from Sherlock’s hold and spun around to face him. He strained against his bonds and frowned when they held fast.

“The victim had his hands bound behind his back.” Sherlock took a step back and stared at him.

“You could’ve warned me!”

“John, calm down.”

“It’s seven in the morning!”

“No, this is good. This is very good. The victim stood in the centre of the room for quite some time.” Sherlock backed up a few paces. “The escort would’ve been here. They stood facing each other.”

John tested the bindings around his wrists once more. His fingers searched for knots and the ends of the rope but the angles were all wrong and he knew the only way he was getting loose was for Sherlock to cut him free.

“I’m only going to say this once, Sherlock.” He took a step closer. “Untie me. Now.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes, and for a second John thought the glare was aimed at him, until he realised that Sherlock was staring past him, deep in thought. John stared up at the ceiling and sighed.

“Did you even hear what I just said?” John asked.

“Of course I heard what you said.” Sherlock snatched up a bundle of rope from the sofa and cut off another length.

“What are you going to do with that?” John’s voice cracked. He backed up until he hit the wall. He could try to make a break for it, but with his hands bound he didn’t imagine himself getting far before Sherlock ran him down.

“There were ligature marks on the victim’s upper arms.”

John stood fast as Sherlock closed the gap. If he braced himself, he could throw his weight forward, maybe knock Sherlock down. Maybe knock some sense into him. He lunged forward just as Sherlock stepped deftly aside. John growled as Sherlock’s hands fell onto him again. His futile attack had sent him off balance and Sherlock used his momentum to send him easily to the floor.

“This isn’t how the events played out,” Sherlock said. “The victim was a client, so he most likely asked to be trussed up like this.”

Pinned face down on the carpet, John struggled under Sherlock’s weight. The thick cord tightened around John’s biceps and Sherlock cinched his upper arms closer together. John groaned as the bite of the rope and the pain in his shoulders forced him to arch his back.

John kicked his legs, tried to shift his weight and buck Sherlock from his back, but with his arms fully immobile, the only thing his struggling managed to do was wear him out. The weight on John’s back shifted down to his thighs, Sherlock pinning his thrashing legs to the floor before binding his ankles together.

“Fucking Hell!” John growled the curse through his clenched teeth.

Sherlock hauled John up and deposited him in his chair. John caught his breath and shifted forward. Leaning back on his arms was excruciating. If he sat on the edge of the chair and leaned forward sightly, he could ease the pain in his shoulders. Sherlock climbed back into his own chair, folded his legs under himself and stared up at the ceiling.

“It’s like I’m not even here,” John said, incredulous. “Who does this, Sherlock? Who kidnaps their flatmate?”

“I haven’t kidnapped you,” Sherlock countered. Irritation resonated in his voice. “You haven’t left the sitting room.”

“Because you’ve practically tied me to the chair!” John waited until Sherlock turned his focus back onto him. “What part of ‘I’m going back to bed’ got us here?”

Sherlock frowned and continued.

“The victim was seen on CCTV entering the building at nine thirty-five PM. The colouration of the ligature marks on his wrists and biceps showed that he had been bound for about four hours before his death-”

“Four hours! Oh there’s no way in Hell…” John struggled unsteadily to his feet. He realised the futility of it once he had managed to get himself up. Sherlock leaned forward and pushed him back into the chair.

“Stop talking John, I’m trying to think.”

John opened his mouth, then closed it again.

“I made a wager with Lestrade that I could give him the exact time line leading up to the death of our victim. I didn’t actually go to the crime scene. Lestrade texted me his most likely inaccurate details and now I’m putting the pieces together. I thought it would be a slightly non-boring way to spend the morning. That’s why I need your assistance. You’re about the same height and build as the victim, and I don’t want to lose the wager.”

John sighed, softened a fraction by Sherlock’s admission, and relieved that there was perhaps a semi-sane reason for his current state of bondage. John tested his restraints once more. His fingers still moved easily, Sherlock hadn’t tied him tightly enough to cut off his circulation, or exacerbate the pain from his long healed bullet wound, just enough to keep him from getting away. This wasn’t the first time he’d been tied up of course. Before, at the time, so long ago, he had quite liked it.

What am I doing?

“You could’ve explained this to me before we started. Not that I would have agreed to do this, but at least it would’ve been better than your what- whatever the Hell this ambush was.”

Sherlock unfolded himself from his chair and wandered out of the room.

John hung his head, defeated once more.

“If you’ve gone to bed, I’m going to kill you, Sherlock. Do you hear me? I will kill you.”

“There’s one more thing,” Sherlock added.

John flinched as Sherlock’s voice drifted in from behind him. He craned his neck, trying to keep Sherlock in sight.

“I really don’t like the sound of where this is going.”

“At some point. The escort had the victim make a choice.”

Sherlock held a roll of gaffer tape in his left hand and a silicone ball-gag in his right. John’s eyes went wide.

“You’re not serious?” He squirmed back into the chair, trying to distance himself from Sherlock and the latest additions to this nightmare. “You are not serious!”

“I am serious. They were both found at the crime scene. Lestrade, of course, thought there was no significance but I believe that the victim was given a choice as to how he would be silenced.”

“I’m not making that choice, Sherlock.” John could feel the heat rising up beneath his skin and his heart shifted into second gear. The idea of Sherlock gagging him simultaneously freaked him out, and to his surprise also started to turn him on.

“Gaffer tape, or the ball-gag?” Sherlock shook the two options like he was offering a child a choice of sweets.


“Let’s do this again, shall we?”

John scowled at the gaffer tape held before him. If Sherlock was going to keep him bound for the four hours that he had claimed he was, then removing the tape from his face afterwards would be excruciating. Depending on how zealous Sherlock was with the application, he might lose some hair in the process. John shook his head, he couldn’t believe he was actually weighing the options. He recoiled as Sherlock waved the ball-gag before him. Holy Christ. John wasn’t sure if he would be able to fit the thing in his mouth.

“Where did you get that thing?” John asked incredulous.

“Rob London, near Oxford Street.”

John blinked. Why do I even ask these questions? He looked back and forth between the bad choice and the worse one.

“Stop stalling or I’ll have to decide for you.”

“I don’t want to decide!”

“Alright, gaffer tape it is.” Sherlock tore off a two-foot long length and leaned forward. John almost tumbled from the chair, trying to pull away.

“No! Not the tape, I- use the other one!” He couldn’t get himself to use the word ball-gag. The thought of it filling his mouth, knowing that it would hurt, and that it would keep him cruelly silent made his heart race.

He’d taken a woman home, a long time ago, back in Uni when the idea of chatting up random women at the pub and going home with them seemed like the thing to do. Back in her bed, she’d surprised him with a pair of fur lined handcuffs, and to his shock and subsequent arousal, produced a pair of silk scarves from her bedside table. She had blindfolded and gagged him and at the end of the night, when she had put him out, John had stumbled home, dazed, sated, and strangely in awe at the turn of events.

He had never told his mates what had went down that night. Upon the morning light and a clearer head, he had grown a little ashamed at how intensely the bondage had aroused him. He had always been too embarrassed to suggest to subsequent girlfriends that perhaps having his control taken away was something that he really wanted to try again.

“The ball-gag, then.” Sherlock smiled.

John drew his knees to his chest, trying to put another barrier between himself and Sherlock, however futile. He shuddered as Sherlock’s hand closed onto his shoulder. He shut his eyes and clenched his teeth, knowing he looked like a wilful child.


To his relief, Sherlock lowered the gag.

“The escort was patient. She didn’t force it on him.” Sherlock touched John’s face as he spoke. “There were no bruises on the victim’s face, no nail marks at the back of his neck. He just parted his lips.” John’s eyes went wide as Sherlock ran his finger gently across his bottom lip, and he gasped as the slender finger pushed tentatively into his mouth. John could do nothing more in that moment than close his eyes.

“He just accepted it,” Sherlock whispered.

John’s mind raced, trying to figure out the moment when things had turned from absurd and infuriating to sexually charged, and when Sherlock’s mind slowed to focus on only him.

With Sherlock’s hand firmly against the back of his head, John exhaled and unlocked his jaw. He wasn’t sure why he had relented. He just did. He opened his mouth wide and the silicone ball pushed past his teeth and deep into his mouth. He moaned against the thickness of it. With his tongue trapped beneath it, he fought to keep from gagging. John inhaled deeply through his nose and reminded himself that he could still breathe, that he wasn’t choking, that he wasn’t going to pass out. Sherlock forced John’s head forward and secured the buckle at the back of his neck. The sensation of the gag, now locked inside, overwhelmed John for a moment and he struggled again to stay calm. His jaw was starting to ache.

“There was an hour between when the victim was completely bound, and when she took him to the bedroom.” Sherlock returned to his chair and started to watch him. “That’s fifty-six minutes if we do this by the book.”

John screamed at that. Frustrated and embarrassed he screamed, but with his mouth locked around the ball, the only sound he could manage was stifled and weak. John blushed at the sound of himself. Being on the receiving end of Sherlock’s scrutiny staggered him. He caught Sherlock’s gaze and tried to hold it, tried desperately to be defiant, if only to prove to Sherlock that he wasn’t scared.

All he could focus on was the fact that at anytime Sherlock could reach out and touch him. By that same reasoning however he could also backhand him, or get up and leave him, or even kiss him. John’s heart raced at that final thought, shocked that the image of it was so vivid. Despite everything he was uncomfortably aware that he was starting to become aroused. He prayed that Sherlock couldn’t see through him, that Sherlock wouldn’t see the signs of his quickening breath and his pounding heart and notice that he could no longer hold Sherlock’s stare.

Sherlock moved in close again, and John pushed himself back into the chair, struggling to get away. Sherlock’s fingers pressed against John’s neck, found his pulse and waited. Then he smiled.

“It’s alright. The victim would’ve been exactly as you are. Nervous, maybe a little scared.” Sherlock crouched down before John, easing his knees away from his chest. “Maybe a little excited. Because even though the victim knew this woman, even though he trusted her, he was still at her mercy.”

The blood rushed to John’s face and to his cock at those words and he groaned against the gag, thoroughly mortified now. He’d been waiting for this, for someone bold enough to wrest his control away, but he never thought it would be… Sherlock. John tried to pull his knees back against his chest once more. The thin fabric of his tracksuit bottoms did nothing to hide his growing erection. And when Sherlock saw… John moaned and shook his head again, trying to push the thought from his head.

“Even though I’m in control, I’m going to make you decide.” Sherlock’s hand was at John’s neck once more, his fingers tested John’s fluttering pulse again.

“The escort always gave him a choice. She would’ve asked him if he wanted to be taken into the bedroom.” Sherlock traced his fingers down John’s throat, across his chest, and brushed across John’s erection. “But know this. Once they crossed that threshold, that was the last choice the victim made.”

John’s eyes went wide as Sherlock gripped his chin and forced him to look into his eyes. “Do you understand what I’m saying?

What the Hell am I doing?

John didn’t know what Sherlock was saying. Not exactly. He had a vague sense of it, but wasn’t sure if he was ready to rearrange the meaning into the proper order. If he agreed to this, if he nodded his head, Sherlock would have complete control. Now that the moment was finally here, John was terrified to let go. Yes, Sherlock was giving him a choice, and a part of him wanted to say no, but a part of him just wished Sherlock would say fuck all and just take him right there. He didn’t want to have to make the choice, but he didn’t want it to stop either.

“Should I take your silence as rejection, then?” Sherlock frowned, and John saw true disappointment in his pale eyes. Sherlock turned, and his back became a wall between them.

John shook his head. He strained forward and moaned against his gag. Please turn around. John struggled from his chair and slammed down hard on his knees, coming to rest against Sherlock’s leg. He bit back the pain and lowered his head, exhausted.

“Do you want to see how this ends, John?” Sherlock asked.

John let go of his fear and nodded.


John knelt on the bed, finally back in his bedroom, though under circumstances that he could never have imagined. He wondered how getting up for a glass of milk had gotten him here, bound like he was about to be sacrificed, with a raging erection, and Sherlock Holmes at his back. The moment he had agreed to Sherlock’s final proposal, he knew he would have to see it through to the end. John struggled to resign himself, as there was nothing else to do. Whatever Sherlock had devised for him, he would have to endure.

“Bend over, head down,” Sherlock ordered.

Sherlock closed his hand on the back of John’s neck and eased him down until his forehead met the sheets. John whimpered despite himself as Sherlock tugged his trousers down to his knees. His hands retreated into fists, trapped against the small of his back, and his breath quickened. He moaned against his gag, wished the thing was out of his mouth so he could beg Sherlock to slow down. No more choices. He had agreed to that. He had wanted this. He couldn’t deny that he was turned on, but he was still scared.

“Try to relax. Stop squirming.”

I’m not fucking squirming. John tried harder to hold himself still. Sucking in air through his nose was making him lightheaded and the gag was making him drool. He wiped his face against the cool sheets and tried once more to calm down. Waiting for Sherlock to start was driving him mad.

Without warning, Sherlock went to work.

John’s entire body tensed as Sherlock’s lube slick fingers pressed gently against his anus, and he bit back a moan as Sherlock’s long finger slipped past the tight ring of muscle. Even though he knew this was inevitable, he still wasn’t quite ready for it to begin.

Sherlock’s finger pulled out for a moment, more lubricant was applied and then it was pushed in again, working John deep inside. John groaned when the second finger entered him and he shuddered against Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock worked silently, easing him open, moving his fingers until they slipped in and out without resistance.

John caught his breath slowly. Sherlock’s fingers inside him didn’t hurt, it was just the shock of it. The strangeness of being penetrated. He knew this was not the end of it. The way Sherlock eased him open, waited patiently for him to catch up to what was being done to him, only meant that there would be more. He shuddered again when Sherlock’s fingers pulled all the way out and for a moment he felt almost empty.

The tip of something smooth and hard replaced Sherlock’s fingers and John seized up again. He dug his nails deep into his palms, as his bound hands closed back into tight fists. He tried to turn his head, to see what Sherlock was forcing into him, but he was pushed back down.

“It’s just an anal plug, it’s not going to kill you.”

Just an anal plug? John groaned and shook his head. He bit down as Sherlock pushed the plug in deeper and shuddered when Sherlock thankfully paused to let him catch his breath once more. He couldn’t stop shuddering, it was as if his body was no longer his own, and he was made only of nerve endings. After a time, when he managed to stop gasping, and the bittersweet burn of his stretching muscles faded, Sherlock pushed deeper, easing him wider again. And when John thought he would not be able to bear another inch of it, the widest part passed beyond the tight ring of muscle and the plug eased itself inside of him. It brushed deliciously against his prostate, and stopped.

John was unsure how much time had passed. An hour? Minutes? His body twitched, adjusting to the strange and not unpleasant sensation and pressure of the the plug filling him. He didn’t know if it was alright for him to move. Could he move? His eyelashes were wet with tears and he had shut his eyes so tight that when he finally opened them he saw stars. Sherlock was saying something to him, but he couldn’t quite make out the words. Something about rolling onto his side. Another length of rope was in Sherlock’s hands, and John’s heart dropped. What more can you do to me? John whimpered softly and shook his head once more, though he knew that his weak refusal would be ignored.

“We’ve finally gotten to the murder weapon, John. Don’t you want to know how the victim died?”

John shook his head furiously. At this point, he honestly didn’t want to know. The sly look in Sherlock’s eye told him that he was still going to find out.

“The victim was on his side. The escort had bound his wrists to the rope around his ankles so he was completely immobilised.”

John struggled as Sherlock reenacted the details. His shoulders screamed as they were wrenched further back and the rope was secured to his ankles. Trapped on his side, the new position pushed the plug in deeper and the tip hit his prostate once more. He shuddered again, his unattended erection painfully hard.

Sherlock stretched out on the bed beside him. John tried to relax, hoping that now, finally, Sherlock would attend to his needs. Sherlock propped himself up on his elbow and dragged his pale stare down the length of John’s twitching body. He produced what looked like a small remote control from the pocket of his robe. Sherlock pulled John’s trousers back up over his hips and straightened the hem of his undershirt.

“I’m going to explain to you what this is. Though by that desperate look on your face, I’m guessing that you’ve already deduced it’s purpose.”

Oh God, please don’t…

Sherlock pressed a button on the remote and deep inside of John, the plug buzzed to life.

The sound that escaped from John’s throat took even him by surprise, and he tensed all at once as if plugged into a live wire. He bit down hard on the ball in his mouth, for once thankful that it was there as he would’ve cracked his teeth.

“I don’t know if you can understand me.” A slight smile played across Sherlock’s mouth as he spoke. “I’m going to set this to six minutes. After each minute, the intensity and speed will raise a level. The victim had one of these inside him all night. Let’s see how long you can hold out.”

Sherlock set the remote in the space between them and observed.

Sixty seconds. How long was sixty seconds? Sherlock had been talking for- Holy Christ!

The remote beeped once and John screamed and almost dislocated his shoulder as he thrashed against the ropes. The plug slipped in a fraction deeper at his sudden movement and the wave of pleasure started to build at a terrible speed. Sherlock watched him through half-closed eyes and John tried desperately to hang on. Five minutes.

There was a knock at the door.

Sherlock raised an eyebrow.

“Were you expecting someone?”

John’s eyes went wide. Expecting. Someone. He could barely remember his name, much less if he was expecting- Oh shit, Sarah…

“I’ll take care of this, you still have five-”

The remote beeped again and John screamed.

“-four minutes.”

John arched his back, biting down so hard his jaw began to cramp. Every twitch and shudder edged the plug up against his prostate and he fought to hold himself still, desperate and over-stimulated and aching with arousal. He hated Sherlock then. Through the waves of horrible pleasure he absolutely fucking hated Sherlock.

Fucking hell! What was that, three minutes? He could hold out for three minutes, one-hundred and eighty seconds. What the fuck are they doing out there, trading recipes?

The remote beeped, and John bit back the scream that rose in his chest. John could hear Sarah’s voice, but he couldn’t make out the words. She sounded angry and John prayed quite earnestly that Sherlock wouldn’t let her open his bedroom door. The thought of her seeing him, gagged and bound on his bed, frantically trying not to come, was enough to take him over the edge.

The remote sounded again, and John sobbed as his orgasm ripped through him. Sherlock’s, not Sarah’s name, distorted by the gag in his mouth. His body bucked through the fierce aftershocks, the plug still raging inside of him. He had no fucking idea how many seconds were left. The remote beeped one last time and the plug slowed and stopped, the only sound in the flat his own jagged gasping.

The door to the flat slammed shut.

John closed his eyes. And there goes another girlfriend.

Sherlock slipped back into the bedroom. He placed John's forgotten glass of milk on the beside table and joined John back on the bed. John whimpered, too tired to keep this up any longer. His body ached, his shoulder was on the verge of dislocating and he was on the edge of blacking out.

He closed his eyes as Sherlock wiped the tears from his face. Long fingers closed around the buckle at the back of his neck and John winced and opened his mouth wide and waited for the gag to be eased from between his teeth. He moaned, frustrated and desperate, as Sherlock reconsidered and pulled his hand back, leaving the gag firmly in place.

“No, we’re not done yet. I didn’t get to see what happened.” Sherlock pressed the remote once more. “Though by the sound of it, it was quite remarkable.”

The plug buzzed to life once more and John cried out in distress, flinching hard as it edged against his over-stimulated prostate. He stretched his hands open wide, grasping at the sheets beneath him, trying to anchor himself as the vibration deep inside of him became a throbbing kind of torture. His cock began to stir again despite himself. I can’t. I can’t do this…

Sherlock’s hands were at his hips, tugging his tracksuit bottoms down and freeing his renewed erection. He was so distracted by Sherlock’s hands closing around his cock that the beep of the remote caught him by surprise. John shut his eyes, deafened by the thick sound of his sobbing, his aching muscles forced to life again as he writhed desperately against his restraints. He fought against the ropes despite knowing they wouldn’t give. The inescapable sense of confinement, knowing that Sherlock was in complete control sent a shudder of pleasure through his body. And then Sherlock’s tongue brushed the tip of John’s cock and he was done.


John drifted in and out of consciousness as Sherlock began to unbind him. He had a vague, though not unpleasant memory of Sherlock turning off the cursed remote and easing the plug from him. The ropes between his wrists and ankles were cut and his shoulders gently eased forward when the rope binding his upper arms was loosened and removed. Finally, his wrists and ankles were untangled from the severed cords. John’s hand trembled as he reached back to remove his gag and Sherlock swatted his hand away. John felt like he was weighted down with lead yet still floating, and that he could sleep for a hundred years. He didn’t have the strength to move his limbs, so he let Sherlock take control once more. The gag was finally eased from John’s mouth and he breathed in deep, filling his lungs until he was dizzy.

John frowned and touched his aching jaw gingerly. Now that he was allowed to speak, he didn’t know what to say.

“Sarah…?” John said tentatively.

“She said you could delete her number from your mobile.”

“Oh.” John’s voice sounded foreign in his head. His throat dry and his voice hoarse. He cursed himself silently, all of his words failing him. He needed to speak to Sherlock, but he didn’t know quite how to start.

Sherlock sat quietly on the edge of John’s bed, his hands in his lap, his fingers tangling slowly around the sash of his robe. He turned and searched John’s face for the briefest of moments, and then averted his eyes once more.

“So.” John tried to sort out what order to arrange his words in. “So all of this. All of that, in the sitting room… What the Hell was that?”

“I finally narrowed it down to three scenarios that I determined you would find… stimulating. I figured I would start with the most obvious one, and then work back from there, if I had misjudged.” Sherlock paused, his brow furrowed slightly. “I admit I may have been a bit- over-committed in my execution.”

“So basically, you were just coming on to me out there?”

John wasn’t quite sure how he felt about Sherlock’s extensive theorising on which sexual situation would ensure the greatest chance of success with him, or that Sherlock had somehow deduced not only his bondage kink, but the fact that it seemed that he was actually a bit of a Sub. John shuddered at the thought of what Sherlock’s less obvious scenarios might have been.

“Was it- not good?” Sherlock asked.

John blinked. “A bit not good, yeah.” John frowned and closed his hand around Sherlock’s wrist. He wanted to anchor Sherlock and keep him there, but at the same time he wanted to smack Sherlock across the back of his head. Sherlock’s pulse raced under John’s fingers. John regarded him thoughtfully.

“I mean it was a bit good too, though. In a- a kind of-” His jaw ached as he spoke, but he needed to get this out. He struggled to find the words to best explain the dirty, fucked up, and strangely satisfied way he was feeling.

“In a kind of dirty, fucked up, and strangely satisfying way. Why am I even trying to sugarcoat this?” John sighed. “You made me come. Hard. Twice.” He shuddered, the muscle memory of what he had just endured rushing through his shattered body.

“You know I wouldn’t have killed you,” Sherlock said.

John laughed aloud at that. He forced himself quiet as Sherlock frowned once more.

“Yes, Sherlock, I- I didn’t really think you were going to kill me. Not on purpose, no. But that’s not really the point. I mean, if we’re going to try this- If we’re going to do this -” John waved his hand at the bits of rope littering his sheets. “We’re going to need to work some things out first.”

John found himself a bit surprised at the look of relief that washed over Sherlock’s solemn features. Sherlock nodded and opened his hands, letting the sash of his robe uncoil from around his fingers.

John motioned for Sherlock to move closer. “I’m too tired to manoeuvre you right now. You’re going to have to do the work.”

John smiled sleepily as Sherlock cleared a space on his wreck of a bed. Perhaps tomorrow he’d clean the sheets, and himself, and maybe his entire room by the look of things. And maybe tomorrow he’d think about what all of this meant, or what it might mean. At this moment, with Sherlock stretched out and warm against his side, John didn’t feel much like moving, or thinking at all. Sleeping might be good, though.

“John?” Sherlock paused. “In a few days, I might have another case that I’ll need your help with. If you have the time.”

John reached across Sherlock for the glass of milk on the bedside table. The rope marks on his wrist were already starting to darken. He brushed the now warm glass with his fingertips and savoured the ache he felt inside and out.

“What’s this one about, then?” John asked.

“The victim was found bound and gagged in the boot of a car. I’d have to figure out everything he endured before his heart gave out.”

John shook his head and shuddered at the thought, at the terrible possibilities. It took a few moments to form the words and Sherlock waited for him.

“Yes, Sherlock. I’ll make the time.”