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The Curious Wine

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Sherlock Holmes is practically a master craftsman in the art of deduction and seduction. Has to be, when his favorite food comes from young, attractive coke fiends. Cocaine being rather an expensive addiction, it’s a bit of a challenge for Sherlock to earn his meal, so to speak. The average cocaine addict is in their twenties or early thirties, either a young professional or a wealthy student living on their parents’ dime. The former is quite difficult. The latter, easy, but not as rewarding. The latter care less for quality, as they don’t know the difference yet, so naturally, Sherlock prefers the former.

That’s how, on a particular Sunday in March, Sherlock finds himself in a bespoke tuxedo, lurking about the fringes of a corporate mixer at a posh Kensington hotel.

If he tries, Sherlock can smell cocaine on a man at fifty paces. But he prefers to do things the way he had to when he was younger, before his senses really developed. He scans the room.

There--the accounts executive at the bar sitting by himself. He’s twitching all over and very friendly, though what he’s saying makes the bartender nervous--indicates the conversation is likely disturbing or difficult to follow. Can hear his pulse pounding from here, pupils dilated, sniffing frequently, wiping nose, hands trembling: addict. Did a line in the bathroom twenty--no, fifteen minutes ago.

Sherlock smiles, adjusts his tie, and moves.

The man is jumpy, but not aggressive, and when he cottons on and figures out that the pale, beautiful man is, in fact, chatting him up, he gets much more interested very quickly. It doesn’t help that Sherlock has decades of practice at this. Seven words in and he knew exactly how gay to act, how much touching he needed and where, and how long it will be before the businessman is shoved up against the long marble counter in the bathroom with a chair shoved up under the door handle, collar undone and Sherlock’s lovely curved fangs sinking in a few centimeters to the right of his jugular. In this case, it is obviously queer but publicly closeted, a few light touches to the hands, fingers and wrists, and seventeen minutes.

The businessman, Victor, is panting and rock-hard against Sherlock’s thigh, and Sherlock is drinking him in long, slow, languid pulls. He hasn’t fed in a week, but he’s barrels of self-control and wants to savor this.

“God,” Victor gasps. “I’ve had vampires before, but you’re...you’re incredible.”

Sherlock growls, winds his fingers through the businessman’s hair and yanks his head back.

“God, love, you’re good.”

Stop talking, Sherlock thinks.

“Oh...isn’t that...”

No, it isn’t. Shut up.

“Um, actually, I--”

Shut up.

“If you’d--no, stop, don’t, you’re going to--”

Yes, I am, aren’t I?

He’s struggling now. It’s rather laughable, how weak he is, especially compared to Sherlock. Normally they fight before they’ve lost nearly this much blood.

“Stop! Stop! Please, I...”

He pounds on Sherlock’s chest again, once, twice...

...and he’s still.

Sherlock groans and pulls away. Dead blood leaves an awful taste in your mouth. This one’s still technically alive, but only for another three minutes at the most. He drops the businessman onto the counter, licks his lips, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and straightens, buttoning his jacket back up and adjusting his tie. There’s a buzzing in the back of his skull from the same chemicals that thirty seconds ago were making Victor’s heart race and pupils dilate. In Sherlock, they merely invigorate, enhance.

And that’s good, or close enough, at least, so he flattens a hand in his curly hair and sets out for another round.

---

Two years later and on the other side of the globe, John Watson took a bullet to the left leg. Not ten minutes later (which is quite rude; not even enough time to bleed to death) he was nipped in the shoulder by a Taliban werewolf who was promptly shot in the head by the medevac team that had come for John. His medical team told him (rather overly hopeful, that bunch) that since the wolf hadn’t had time to really do a number on him, perhaps he wouldn’t fully transform.

Naturally, they were dead wrong. It was either that or believe his doctors were a lot of lying bastards, and John was inclined to hope the latter. Of course, hope became the last thing on his list of priorities a month after the bite, when the full-body itching under his skin and persistent ache in his joints exploded into pain and hunger and rage. He spent the next day out cold, sleeping off the aches and adrenaline high. The day after that, his doctor sits him down and informs him he is being sent home.

“There’s this program,” he says, handing John a manila file folder. “The Hyperion Alliance. You’d be paired up with someone else. For...mutual...”

“Control,” says John in a calm, humorless voice as he peruses the pages inside the folder. “I’d be shacking up with a fucking vampire.”

The doctor grimaces and shrugs. “Hey, it’s gone well from what I’ve heard.”

“And you talk to loads of werewolf ex-army men?”

He shifts uncomfortably. “Well, you know. It comes highly recommended. And it’s entirely voluntary. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Except annually prove to the British government that I’m ‘restrained and capably observed’ during the full moon or they throw me in jail.”

The doctor coughs. “Well...yeah. That.”

“So even with the lunazepam, it’s this, supernatural friends or family--which I haven’t got--or one of the reserves.”

“Look, John, you don’t have--”

John sighs. “It doesn’t matter. Thanks.”

Naturally, he calls the number as soon as he’s unpacked his bags in the London hotel he’s staying in for the time being. He likes London, which is what he tells the intake counselor they assign him to.

She aimlessly clicks through her computer. “Well, it doesn’t look like we’ve got any sanguinarian volunteers in the immediate London area at the moment. How’s Manchester sound?”

John is about to reply with a sharp retort when someone shouts “John!”

He turns round. A large, amiable-looking man is making his way through the chairs. John forces up a smile.

“Mike? Mike Stamford?”

He grins. “That’s me.” He claps John on the shoulder. “God, how long’s it been since we were at Bart’s?”

“Too long,” says John.

Mike indicates the irritated intake counselor. “So what brings you onto this side of the desk?”

John grimaces. “Got bit.”

“Ah. Me too. Down on Dartmoor. You get anybody yet?”

“No,” says the intake counselor, peevishly, “and--”

“Don’t know if this is really for me,” John interrupts. “Maybe I’ll just go the old-fashioned route and move into one of those bloody reserves.”

Mike chuckles. John frowns.

“Sorry, I--that’s just--you’re the second person to say that to me today.”

Now John is past frowning. He is standing and reaching for the cane he needs to walk when he is this far from the full moon.

“Who was the first?”