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Pull the Stars from the Sky

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Detroit to Chicago, an almost nothing trip—thanks to the miracle of time zones, they would land before they departed. John was faced with a dilemma: Sherlock was scheduled to go tape an interview for a local radio station's breakfast show. John was scheduled to go do his usual job overseeing set up for the show. He couldn't be in both places at once. He mentioned it to Sherlock as they reached cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign flickered off.

"It's the middle of the day," Sherlock said. "I'll have a driver. It'll be fine."

John's lips tightened into a white line. "Want to know how many kidnappings and assaults I've seen happen in broad daylight?"

"This isn't a war zone, John."

"It's close enough." John's fingers rapped at the armrest between them, fidgeting. Sherlock had the window seat, so he looked out the window across the aisle.

"Listen to me. I've had creepy fans before. It's part of the job." Sherlock reached over and took his hand, stilling it. "Yes, this one has gone a little farther, but ultimately, he's just another creepy fan."

John shifted in the seat so he was facing Sherlock. "He could be on this bloody flight and we wouldn't know it. He knows your schedule. That's happened before, has it?"

"Well—"

"I didn't think so." John drew his hand away gently. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. "I don't suppose there's any convincing my sister that you need a driver with security skills, is there?"

Sherlock sniffed and leaned his head back against the headrest. "Two years ago, maybe. Profit margins are too tight these days."

"Well, they'll be a hell of a lot tighter if there's no star on stage," John said.

"Look, there's been no indication that he wants to hurt me."

"Do you read the papers?" John couldn't keep the edge out of his voice. He had been over each worst-case scenario in his mind a hundred times since the first night in Detroit. "That's how it starts. And as soon as you stop living up to whatever fantasy he's got cooked up, he's going to come after you."

Sherlock's hand snaked over to cover his again. "Maybe I won't," he murmured, eyes alight. "I'm very good with fantasies."

"I'm serious, Sherlock." John tried to pull his hand away, but he didn't try that hard. Instead Sherlock drew his hand over and placed it over his own heart.

"So am I. Think we're a mile up yet?"

"A—what?" Then John got the reference. "If we are, it's only going to be for about ten more minutes, so just stop right there." He did take his hand away then, because feeling Sherlock's heart under his palm was more intense than it had any right to be. "Listen. We have to figure this out. I'm not letting you go to the radio station alone."

"Letting me?" The mischief vanished and Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "John, the schedule is clear. They're picking me up, I'm going. We're too short-staffed for you to spare anybody, and you most certainly aren't available." They glared at each other for a few moments. "Go on. Who can you spare?"

"Greg—"

"Please. Are you going to play engineer now?"

"Anderson—"

"No, absolutely not. Besides, you can't spare him any more than you can Greg. John, there isn't anyone available."

John sat back against his seat with a huff of breath. "Shit."

Sherlock leaned over and breathed in his ear, "You can't protect me all the time."

John closed his eyes, because it was true, you couldn't protect someone all the time, and it was a truth he knew better than anyone.

 

Irene decided to go with Sherlock to the radio interview at the last minute, which didn't do much to make John feel better. If anything, now he had two people to worry about. It was impossible not to keep an eye on the clock.

Greg caught him at it. "They'll be fine," he said.

"If they're so much as five bloody minutes late, I'm calling the police."

"And they'll laugh at you," Greg said.

John's mobile rang and he answered it without looking, "Sherlock? You make it there all right?"

"Sherlock's not with you?"

"Uhhh—yes, hello." He made an apologetic gesture at Greg and walked away to take the call somewhere quieter. "He had interview with a local radio station."

"And you let him go alone?"

John ran a hand over his hair and fought the desire to pace. "I'm assuming that you know your brother, Mycroft. He made a sound argument for going without me. And we are staffed pretty tightly."

"Did I make a mistake in trusting you, John?" There was an unmistakable tone of threat veiled deep within that soft voice. "I called this morning to follow up, and you didn't answer. Had you left him alone then, as well?"

John did a quick mental calculation on the time zones and winced. The missed call on his mobile. The one he forgot to check on. For a mad second, John fought the urge to say, "Why no, I was on top of him at the time." He cleared his throat instead. "No. I wasn't able to get to my phone. It was nearly 3am here when you called."

"I see." Mycroft paused and John could hear the hiss of line noise in his ear. "Well. Please inform me when Sherlock is safely back within your care. If for any reason he does not return—"

John heard the threat coming, and his patience snapped. "Look. I get it. You're powerful. I appreciate that you care about your brother. But Sherlock is an adult, and he's even surprisingly rational at times." When Mycroft didn't immediately answer—John had probably stunned him into silence—he continued, "I'm going to assume you've never done this sort of work before."

"I'm familiar with it."

"Forgive me for saying, that's not at all the same thing. I have. You know your brother. How do you think he would react if I started forbidding him to do things? Hm?"

No answer.

"He'd do it anyway. Without telling me. This way? I know where he is. I know who he's with. I know when he's supposed to be back. And he trusts me enough to tell me his plans."

Finally Mycroft spoke. "You sound as if you have a personal stake in this."

"When I've been assigned—or asked—to protect someone, I always have a personal stake in it."

"Well." It was as much a sigh as a word. John recognised surrender when he heard it. "I'll leave you to it then. Good evening, John." He rang off, leaving John rankled and glaring at his mobile.

"Who was that?" Greg asked as John rejoined him.

"One of Harry's lot. Had some questions about the accounting." John lied without a second thought.

"Right." Greg studied John for a moment, and John looked back. "All right then?"

"It is now, yeah."

John kept his eyes on the clock, and it was the longest hour and a half of his life. Sherlock and Irene came back to the theatre with a few minutes to spare, just in time for soundcheck. They didn't touch, but Sherlock stood at his shoulder and gave him a smile that made his insides lurch. Yeah. I definitely have a personal stake in this one.

 

Sherlock hated layovers. As they made their way west, the flights got longer and longer. This one left them stranded somewhere in the middle of the United States. Just long enough to be incredibly dull, but just short enough to keep them from leaving the airport. They scattered in groups, leaving Greg and Molly to stay with the carry-ons at the gate. Sherlock said he needed coffee, and of course John followed him. Sherlock had had one destination on his mind since the plane touched down, but it had nothing to do with overpriced beverages. It had been nearly a week since Detroit, a week of shows every night and travelling nearly everyday. John looked as if he were standing only by the grace of caffeine and years of military discipline. For the past three nights, bed had only been for sleep and not much else, not nearly enough of anything at all.

As they passed a lavatory, Sherlock leaned down and whispered in John's ear, "Follow me," then licked at his earlobe. He walked into the lavatory and closed himself in the farthest cubicle.

A few moments later, he heard John's footsteps, uncharacteristically hesitant. Sherlock cracked the door to indicate where he was. When John appeared through the crack in the door, Sherlock grabbed his wrist and pulled him in, shutting the door behind him.

"Sherlock, what the hell—"

Too much talking. Sherlock pressed John up against the side of the cubicle and covered that maddening mouth with his own, parting John's lips with his tongue even as he slid his hand along the front of John's jeans. He could feel John tense, and knew he was about to start talking. Sherlock even knew exactly what John would say, if Sherlock let him: "We can't do this here, are you mad? You're going to get us arrested."

The trick was to make John stop thinking, and quickly. He kissed and bit and licked at John's mouth until he could feel John's cock getting hard under his teasing hand. While his hands unhooked John's belt and made short work of his flies, Sherlock's mouth moved over along the stubble on John's jawline, leaving a hot, wet trail before pressing against John's ear. "I'm going to suck you off," he murmured, deliberately keeping his voice low and dark, because it made John squirm. John opened his mouth to respond, and Sherlock—having successfully opened John's trousers—covered his mouth with one hand. He drew back to shake his head at John, who was trying to glare at him. Trying, but failing. The effect was spoilt by the heat in his eyes. As soon as Sherlock drew out John's cock and wrapped his fingers around the base of it, Sherlock felt the tension leave John's face a second before his eyes fluttered closed. Sherlock drew his hand away from John's mouth, which dropped open as John tried to breathe as softly as possible.

Sherlock drew down into a fluid crouch, knees spread to either side of John's legs. He looked up at John—who had his head tilted back, mouth open—and raw, urgent need sank its claws into him. He tightened his hand around John's cock and leaned forward to brush the tip of his tongue along the underside of the glans, moving in a slow stroke up and over, breathing lightly against the overheated, wet skin. Footsteps echoed against the tile outside and Sherlock froze. Were their feet visible? He glanced up at John to find him with eyes wide open, and incredibly, a hint of a grin. Their eyes met and Sherlock leaned forward again to stroke John's cock with his tongue, daring him to keep silent. John's response was to close his hand over the back of Sherlock's head.

He wrapped his mouth around the head of John's cock and had to stifle a groan. Sherlock took John in until his mouth met his hand, feeling the plush skin slick with saliva. God, the taste was so perfect, the same John-ness Sherlock could taste on a shoulder or his neck but combined with musk and heat and salt. Sherlock wanted to take his time, but the risk of discovery was getting higher every moment.

He held still for a moment, long enough for another set of footsteps to pass by outside. Just as Sherlock started to gently suck, John's fingers tangled in his hair. John didn't push his way deeper into Sherlock's mouth or try to guide him at all, he simply held on, combing his fingers against Sherlock's scalp. It gave Sherlock goosebumps.

John was looking down at him now, teeth worrying at his lip so hard Sherlock thought he might draw blood. Sherlock pulled slowly off and gave another slow lick over the glans, keeping his eyes on John's face to make sure he was watching. The dark, hooded look he saw made Sherlock shiver at the hunger there.

Sherlock worked at John's cock with both hands and his mouth, teasing, fast then slow, firm then gentle, until John did finally use the hand tangled in Sherlock's hair to take some control. In a matter of minutes, John was fucking his mouth. He moved his hands to close around John's thrusting hips to simply hold on. It was maddening: the ache in his thighs from crouching; the ache in his cock, rigid and trapped in his jeans. Most maddening of all was the sight of John with clenched teeth, utterly silent. Sherlock felt the spike in tension, then the jump of John's cock a split second before he started to come. Try as he might, Sherlock couldn't suppress a soft moan as the taste of John filled his mouth. John never made a sound.

As Sherlock pulled away and swallowed, John grabbed him by the arms and hauled him to his feet to kiss him and oh god, Sherlock realised John was tasting himself in Sherlock's mouth and he had to bite back a whimper; he'd already made enough noise to alert one of the other travellers. John let go and refastened his trousers, still kissing him. Then he left the cubicle, leaving Sherlock to follow a few moments later, after breathing deep and thinking of cold showers.

As they caught up to each other outside in the corridor, John grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him down to whisper, "You're going to pay for that later."

"God, I hope so. Now. Coffee?" They smiled at each other and went to find the kiosk.

 

"Greg, can you hear that out there?" Anderson and John were on the stage in St. Louis setting up equipment while Greg was in the booth. There was a low hum from one of the amps.

Greg sighed over the PA. "Yeah. Damn it."

"The wiring's shit, Greg," Anderson said, addressing the vast space of the auditorium. "This is gonna be a fucking nightmare."

"Can you work around it?" Greg asked.

"Maybe. I'll be able to tell more during soundcheck."

"That's cutting it a little fine," John said. "What's going on? Tell me in small words."

"Bad grounding," Greg said. "Sort of like radio static. Should be able to track it down, but..."

"But what? What's the worst that can happen here?" This was not what John needed in an already packed day.

Anderson scratched at the back of his head, "Electrocution's always the worst it can get, but hardly likely."

"Reassuring," John said. "What else?"

"Aside from the hum? If we can't track it down, Sherlock might get a spark or two off the mic."

Greg sighed. "He'll bitch for a week."

"Right. So get it sorted, both of you. Yeah?" John left them to it, adding it to his mental checklist of things to keep track of.

By soundcheck the problem was more evident than ever. Even John could hear the buzzing in the amps. Every time Sherlock got too close to the mic he jumped back with a curse. Finally he stormed off the stage. Irene looked at John and shrugged. "Take a break," he told her, and trotted off after Sherlock. When he caught up to him in the green room, Sherlock said, "How fucking difficult is it to plug in wires? Greg needs to get his shit together, or I'm not performing tonight."

"Just—breathe, okay? We'll take care of it." John went back out to the stage to find Greg and Anderson wrestling with wires and outlets and saying something about a groundlift—none of it made sense to John.

"He sulking?" asked Greg.

"Threatening to cancel," John said.

"We'll get it. It'll be fine."

It was fine—eventually—but they lost nearly an hour to the problem. Sherlock was standing in the wings, leaning against a wall with his hands in his pockets watching them work. When Greg finally waved him over, he pulled his hands from his pockets and slouched towards them. "I'm not touching that mic again until one of you does."

Greg rolled his eyes, but took Sherlock's place on the stage, one hand on the guitar strings, the other poised to grab the microphone. He paused for just a moment, then closed his hand. "See? It's fine."

Sherlock sniffed then resumed his place. "John, if I die, make sure someone tells my brother my last thoughts weren't of him."

 

There was an extra excitement in the audience tonight, even John could feel it. He tried to maintain his usual vigilance, scanning the crowd for any sign of trouble, but oh god. Sherlock was playing with his image again. Instead of haughty and remote and just a little bit untouchable, tonight he looked positively raunchy. Leather trousers—of course—but this pair so ungodly tight they clung to his narrow hips as if in desperation. They were low-slung, giving John—along with everyone else who'd cared to look—a glimpse of the tops of Sherlock's hipbones, enough to know there was nothing underneath the leather.

The simple black vest Sherlock wore was just a few centimetres too short, leaving a strip of pale flesh visible over his stomach. Over it, a ratty jumper: off-white in an uneven open knit, riddled with runs and dropped stitches, and hanging limply off his shoulders. It, too, was much too short, barely falling to Sherlock's midriff. And over everything, a battered dusty black leather jacket so faded it was nearly grey. He looked dirty and vulnerable, and it was going straight to John's cock.

The current song was low and trance-like, with a hypnotic bass line and open, hollow harmonies filling the spaces around Sherlock's voice. He hardly touched the keyboards in front of him except to make adjustments here and there, instead wrapping both long slender hands around the microphone and tilting it to his mouth. The lyrics were simple, sometimes nothing more than a low, wailing moan that John could imagine in a very different context.

He was having trouble breathing. Then Sherlock started sliding his hands along the length of the microphone in an unmistakable and familiar gesture. John had to look away for a moment. He could hear Greg cursing under his breath.

"Goddamn it, Sherlock. Don't you dare. Not after this afternoon."

John looked back to see Sherlock in profile, pausing between lyrics. As he watched, Sherlock's tongue stroked a long, slow, very thorough path up and around the head of the microphone. A ripple of screaming and catcalling went through the audience and John's fingers tightened on the railing surrounding the booth. He fought to keep his face neutral.

"Bloody fucking hell," Greg said. "How many times have I told him, Molly? How many? And after all the problems we had with the grounding earlier. That fuck. I've half a mind to send him out there with the bloody toothbrush and the bottle of Listerine to scrub that bastard down. Is it so difficult to understand? 'Don't lick the goddamn microphones, Sherlock.' Well I fucking hope it shocked his fucking arse!" He stopped to take a breath. "John, can you have a talk with him?"

"Mm?" John felt like he was underwater.

"I said can you—oh hell. Never mind."

John took a breath like he'd just breached the surface. "No, no, it's fine. What? You want him to not do that anymore?"

Greg gave him a wry face. "Not with the microphones, anyway."

"Right, I—right. I'll mention it." John was flushed and sweating all over. How was he supposed to react when Sherlock just demonstrated to thousands of people exactly how he gave a blow job?

 

"Sherlock, what in the bloody fuck were you doing up there tonight?" Greg demanded. Load-out finished, no one ready to go to bed yet, everyone was sprawled in John and Sherlock's room—and it was theirs, John thought. There wasn't any question anymore of room assignments. In fact, it was a little disconcerting just how quickly the group had started thinking of the two of them as a unit. Barely a week out of Detroit, and they were already John-and-Sherlock, or Sherlock-and-John.

John sitting with his back to the headboard of the bed, Sherlock sprawled beside him, leaning against his shoulder. Sherlock rolled his head against John's shoulder to look at Greg. "I thought I was giving a damn good performance. What did you think I was doing?"

"Oh I don't know. Trying to get yourself killed?" Greg stubbed out his cigarette. "Licking a live mic—not smart on the best of days, but when half the fucking equipment is groundlifted? What the fuck, man?"

Irene looked up from the conversation she was having with Molly. "He was showing off is what he was doing. John knows, don't you?"

"I don't have the faintest idea of what you're talking about." John looked Irene dead in the eye as he said it.

"Oh?" The gleam her eye was predatory. "That little move didn't look at all familiar then?"

"No, I'm fairly certain I hadn't seen Sherlock lick a microphone before tonight." John felt the attention in the room shifting back and forth between the two of them like spectators at a tennis match. "Wasn't bad to watch though, I'll say that much."

Sherlock grinned up at him, looking nearly as shark-like as Irene. "I don't think Irene was talking about micr—"

"Hush." John kissed him once to shut him up, to the glee of the spectators. He turned to say something to Irene but found his mouth redirected back to Sherlock's for a longer, more thorough kiss.

"Annnd, I think that's our cue to get out," said Sally, shoving up from the floor.

"No, it's okay," John said.

"No it's not," Sherlock said. "Get out."

"Sherlock." John tried not to laugh. "Stop it."

He didn't. "Unless you want to see us both naked in about five minutes, get out."

Four people stood up and started gathering shoes and empty bottles. Four people filed out. One didn't. "What if I want to see?" Irene, of course.

"Oh please, you've seen it all before," Sherlock said, pulling himself to a sitting position.

"I wasn't talking about you, Junior."

John was uncurling himself from Sherlock and found himself grabbed and dragged halfway across Sherlock's lap. "He's mine. I'm not sharing him. Go find your own."

"Do I get a say in this?" asked John, grinning.

"No," Irene and Sherlock said simultaneously.

"Christ, you two are scary."

"Good night, Irene," Sherlock said, looking pointedly from her to the door.

Irene laughed and stood up. "Fine, fine. Good night, boys. Try to get some sleep, okay?" She closed the door behind her.

John looked up at Sherlock and shifted to a more comfortable position. "I'm yours, am I?"

"Mm. You didn't know that?" He smiled down at John, trailing fingers along his scalp.

"Are you always so possessive?" John closed his eyes, Sherlock's hand sending drowsiness and warmth running along his nerve endings.

Sherlock leaned down and kissed him on the temple, then over one cheekbone. "Only with the things I really want to keep."

 

The cities were starting to blur together, as they always did after a few weeks on the road. Today was... Atlanta? It was rare free afternoon. Greg, Molly, and Irene had gone sight-seeing. Sherlock was getting restless. He watched John as he sat at the room's desk, making lists of security measures. "We haven't heard anything new in over a week," he said. "Why are you still worried?"

"Because stalkers don't just stop," John said. "They wait."

"You've done this before."

"Hm?" John didn't look up, his brow furrowed.

"Bodyguarding."

John wrinkled his nose. "Close protection, yes."

Sherlock sprawled across the bed on his stomach, grinning up at John. "Does this make you my bodyguard then?" He dropped his voice to a purr. "God, that's sexy."

He had the satisfaction of seeing John's left hand—the one holding the pen—pause; he could see the hint of a tremor. "It's really not. It's not something I should be doing alone, either." John rubbed at his forehead, still looking at the papers on the desk. "If I were doing this the right way, someone would be checking out everywhere you go before you get there, someone doing background checks on the people you might come in contact with... so no. What I'm doing is... not enough. But you're stuck with me."

Sherlock slipped off the bed and and stood behind John, sliding one hand up into his hair and resting the other on his shoulder. "I still think it's sexy."

John looked up at him over his shoulder and gave him a wry grin. "If I were a rubbish collector, you'd think it was sexy."

"Mm." Sherlock leaned down to kiss him. "No. You, yes. Your job, no."

"Speaking of my job..." John tried to turn back to the plans on the desk. Sherlock ran his fingers up through the short sandy strands of John's hair. When John leaned back against his hand appreciatively—still trying to focus on work—Sherlock crouched beside the chair.

"Surely you can take a small break," he breathed into John's ear. "I won't tell anyone." Sherlock knew he had him the instant John's eyes closed. He leaned in and traced the tip of his tongue on a long trail up the side of John's neck, from the collar of his t-shirt all the way to his ear.

"God—" John grabbed Sherlock's arm and pulled him into his lap, making the hotel chair creak alarmingly. Sherlock ignored the risk to the furniture in favour of letting John hold him tight and rake his teeth over Sherlock's collarbones. "Naked. Now." The command in his voice made the edges of Sherlock's thoughts go fuzzy. At first he tried to pull off his dressing gown while sitting down, then gave up and stood. John just watched him, fingers curling over the arms of the chair until his knuckles went white. Sherlock tugged away his shirt, and shimmied out of his soft trousers, tugging them down over his hardening cock, leaving him naked, as ordered.

John wet his lips but made no move toward him. "All right," he said. "Now go lie down. On your back." Sherlock reached for him to draw him along, but John shook his head. "I'll be there in a bit." The bed was a mess anyway, so Sherlock pushed the blankets back before crawling across the sheets to lie down. He ran his hands over the sides of his body, across the tops of his thighs, staring at John, willing him to come closer. John just sat where he was, watching him. As his right hand brushed against his cock, John said, "No. Not yet." There was a soft 'zip' as John unfastened his jeans, still sitting. He opened them enough to reach into his pants and start stroking his cock, slowly.

"John, please—" Sherlock tried to sound less breathless than he was. At that, John stood and pushed jeans and pants down in a single motion, kicking them off his feet.

"Please what?" said John. That smile shouldn't have been legal. Sherlock clutched at the sheets and he fought to keep from arching his hips. "What?" John moved towards the bed and leaned over it on his knuckles, his face just inches from Sherlock's. "Do you want me to tell you what I'm going to do to you?"

"Yes." It came out in a long sibilant. Fuck, his cock was so hard and John had barely even touched him yet.

"Good. Very good." There were crinkles around John's eyes when he smiled. "First, you're going to tell me where you keep your lube and your condoms, because I just know you came on this trip prepared."

Oh god. Sherlock cleared his throat. "Shaving kit. Bathroom. But—" They hadn't really talked about likes and dislikes—it was easy to make assumptions—

"Hold on." John leaned down like he was doing push-ups on the bed and licked at Sherlock's mouth. Sherlock was distracted by the sight of John's biceps tensing beneath his skin. Then John pulled away, and came back a few seconds later. "Now," John leaned back over him, his eyes gleaming. "Now you're going to put the lube on your fingers," he lowered his mouth to Sherlock's ear, breath hot against his skin, "and you're going get me ready to ride you until you can't see straight."

"John. Yes. Fuck, yes." It wasn't what he had expected to hear, but it was exactly what he'd wanted to hear. His hands were shaking as he tried to follow John's directions—be honest, call them orders—and he nearly dropped the bottle handed to him. As he covered his fingers in lube, John crawled over him, licking all the way from his belly to his chin before reaching his mouth. Sherlock reached out to wrap one slick hand around John's cock; John, just crouched over him on his hands and knees, barely touching him at all, just where their mouths met, and where Sherlock's hand pulled and stroked him.

"Inside me," John hissed against his mouth and closed one hand into a fist in Sherlock's hair. "Do it." Sherlock shuddered and trailed one finger along John's perineum, circling and teasing at the edges of his entrance. John pressed against his hand, but Sherlock pulled away. He was rewarded with a tug at his hair and a nip at his jawline. "Sherlock, fuck me or I'm going back to the paperwork." Sherlock teased one finger slowly into John, feeling the muscle relax slowly around him, the heat of John's body. John growled against his jaw and bit his ear. "Two."

Sherlock swallowed a whimper. "You're quite the surprise. I wouldn't have thought—" He eased a second finger in, causing John to arch his back and press against his hand.

"What?" John looked down at him with a smirk. "Thought you—oh Christ, that's good, faster—thought you had me figured out the first day. Fuck. More, give me more." Sherlock added a third finger then, wriggling it in until John relaxed. Sherlock, aching and ready, watched John's expressions, waiting for the words. Finally John pulled off his hand and reached across the bed for the condom. He slid down, licking along the shaft of Sherlock's cock. Sherlock groaned and arched against John's mouth, but John pinned him down with one hand while with the other he slowly unrolled the latex down over his straining cock. "Be still," John murmured. Sherlock fought to obey as John let him go to cover the fingers of one hand with lube, then wrap those cool, slick fingers around Sherlock's cock. Straddling him, John batted away Sherlock's hands when he tried to help line himself up, and suspended himself with the tip of Sherlock's cock pressed against his entrance.

"John—please."

"Don't move," he growled. Using his thigh muscles—Sherlock didn't think he'd ever get enough of watching those muscles work—John eased Sherlock into him, unsuccessfully stifling a small moan. John leaned over him again and pinned Sherlock's wrists to the bed. Sherlock's hips twitched; he wanted desperately to buck, to arch against the restraint around his wrists, to feel John's strength keeping him still. He tugged at his arms, and John responded by tightening his hands. It almost hurt, not quite, but enough.

He watched the sinuous movement as John kept his promise, hips rolling and working tight around Sherlock's cock. Gasping, he managed to tear his gaze away from John's belly to look in his eyes. Those eyes—gorgeous, grey-blue, blazing—pinned him as surely as John's hands at his wrists. "Wanted this," John breathed, "for days." John twined his fingers with Sherlock's, and pushed their arms up the bed until they were face-to-face. "Ever since—God. Your mouth—" He licked at it, making Sherlock's hips snap involuntarily. "Oh fuck," John said, breaking away from Sherlock's mouth. Sherlock did it again, thrusting up to meet him.

Sherlock was gratified to see John falling apart: his breathing fast and soft, punctuated by low groans, words gone, eyes glazing. He wanted to close his own eyes, to focus on the tense pleasure slowly sparking through his body, but he couldn't look away. John let go of his right hand to fist around his cock, loose and fast. "Harder," was all John could manage, and it was enough, more than enough. Sherlock pulled free of John's other hand and wrapped his fingers around John's hips, using the extra leverage to slam into him until John cried out and came in arcing spurts over Sherlock's belly. John's body gripping and squeezing him with each spasm made it impossible for him to hold out any longer. He arched his back and exploded, starbursts behind his eyes and electricity sparking down to his toes. Sherlock gave a last thrust or two then collapsed back against the bed, pulling John down with him.

They lay together for a few moments, long enough for Sherlock to soften and slip from John's body. John rolled away and cleaned them both up, then came back to pull Sherlock into his arms with a tired but wicked grin. "Should I make you start calling me 'Captain'?"

"Shut up." He laid his head on John's good shoulder. "You seemed to miss giving orders."

John rolled his head over to kiss Sherlock's forehead, "Didn't expect you to be so good at taking them." Sherlock chuckled, and John joined in, the sound threatening to turn into giggles. John tightened his arms. "You're amazing. You do know that, yeah?"

"Yeah," Sherlock echoed his tone and accent with a smile. "Glad to hear you think so, though. Even if you don't like my music."

"Who says that I don't? You're bloody talented."

"Yes, but that's different than you liking it," Sherlock said. "What music do you like? You never say." Why hadn't he thought to ask that before?

John shifted against him, reaching down to pull blankets up over them two of them. "You'll laugh."

"I won't, I promise." A thought occurred to Sherlock, sudden and horrible. "Oh god. You're a Britney fan, aren't you."

"No," John laughed, poking him in the side. "Give me some credit." He was quiet a moment, and Sherlock focused on the feel of his breathing. "No, I've always had a soft spot for the older stuff. R&B, Motown. My parents had a record collection." He chuckled, and Sherlock felt the vibration of the sound against his ribs, like feeling a cat purring in contentment. John continued, "When you came out with 'Mustang Sally' during soundcheck, I nearly fell over in surprise."

"Ah," Sherlock said. "I should have guessed. Who's your favourite?"

"Aretha."

"Of course." Sherlock did a quick scan of his memory of lyrics, and came up with the one he wanted. He sang, low and soft, "I can't sleep at night, I can't eat a bite; I guess I'll never be free since you got your hooks in me..."

"Now how do you know that song?" John demanded.

"Your parents weren't the only ones with a record collection." He turned to nuzzle against John's skin. "That one seemed appropriate."

John turned on his side so they were face to face, surrounded by the warmth of the blankets, breathing each other's breath. He was smiling. "Are you trying to say I'm a no-good heart breaker?"

"No." Sherlock paused, almost hesitant. "But... I'm starting to think the rest might be startlingly relevant." He watched John's face to see if he understood. He did, after a moment, the realisation dawning across his face with slow warmth. John closed the small distance between them and kissed him, slow and deep and lazy.

"You know, normal people would just say it," John said. He pressed his forehead to Sherlock's and murmured, "I love you too, you git."

 

"Hold up," Molly called after John as he crossed the lobby of the theatre in Memphis. She looked frazzled, but then, everyone was reaching the point of exhaustion.

"Hey, Molly."

"John, I need your help. Some of the rigging—it's just... It doesn't look right. I can't get house staff to take me seriously on it. They say it was just inspected and it's fine."

"But you don't think it is?"

Molly shook her head. "Have you looked at this place? The stage is slanted, the seats are a wreck—I don't even want to think about the wiring—"

"Right," said John. "Let's go find out who we need to talk to then."

 

Sherlock leaned against the sound console. "Are we going to get the reverb right this time?"

"Move your arse off my board," Greg said, giving him a shove to the hip. "And yes, I'll get your precious reverb right." He paused for a moment. "Sherlock, I gotta ask."

Sherlock settled back against the console and folded his arms. "Oh god." He'd seen Greg in nearly every situation: drunk, asleep, sick, happy—Sherlock wasn't sure he'd ever seen him look quite this discomfited before. "What is it?"

Greg paid very close attention to a few of the levers on the sound board. "Well, you know me, I'm not opposed to having a bit of fun on the road—"

"Yes you are, you turned me down three times last tour alone."

Greg ruffled his hair with one hand and leaned back. "Jesus, are you still sulking over that? Sherlock, I'm straight."

One corner of Sherlock's mouth threatened a smirk. "You're too pretty to be straight. You're wasted on women."

He rolled his eyes. "Well, thankfully, not all of them agree with you." Greg paused again, then took a breath. "This thing with John. Are you just having a bit of fun?"

The smirk blossomed. "I'm having rather a lot of fun, actually."

Greg smacked him in the arm. "Twat. You know what I mean. Are you just playing with him?"

"You mean am I planning to heartlessly abandon him for the next unbelievably hot ex-soldier who turns up and wants to be my bodyguard?"

"...was that a yes?"

Sherlock unfolded his arms and leaned back against his hands "Prick. How idiotic do you think I am?" Greg just arched an eyebrow. "Oh, fuck you." Sherlock sighed and tapped his fingers in a rapid staccato against the console behind him. "I haven't met anyone like him before."

"Sherlock Holmes. Are you in love?" Greg grinned up at him, and Sherlock had to smile back. "I thought you didn't like good guys."

"He is good," Sherlock agreed, "but he's certainly not boring."

"Just be careful, yeah? You know how it is out here. Shit gets intense, fast."

"I rather think it already has." He looked down at the stage, where John and Irene were deep in conversation. He made an amused sound. "Do you think they're having the same conversation down there?"

 

"You're good for him," Irene said.

"Oh god, do we have to have this talk now?" John said. "I've got about thirty things to do in the next twenty-five minutes." They were just to stage left, where John was looking up trying to spot the problem Molly had seen in the lighting rig. Useless, of course, he didn't even know where to look.

"Fine." Irene smiled. "But you are."

John shaded his eyes to get a clearer look. "Is this the part where you threaten to come after me if I break his heart?"

"Hell, no. I'll come after him if he breaks yours."

John looked over at her and grinned. "It's nice to have someone on my—" His words were cut off by a loud crack from overhead. John looked up again just in time to see a large chunk of metal support swing free and come arcing towards them, carrying several heavy stage lights. The space between heartbeats became minutes as John reached for Irene, grabbed her by the arms and tried to pull her from the scaffolding's path.

Close. So close. Too slow.

He felt more than heard the thud of the metal against the back of Irene's head as he pulled them to the stage floor. He heard shouting, but it was lost in the roaring crash of breaking glass and screaming metal. Shards of glass arced across the stage in slow motion, and John curved across Irene to keep them from reaching her. He was aware of someone yelling his name, someone else yelling for Irene.

He could feel the slow movement of Irene's breath against his cheek, but her eyes were closed and there was a lot of blood. He felt for her pulse. Steady.

Time snapped back into focus. As he gently tilted Irene's head back—airway—John saw stagehands stamping out sparks and Molly, pale enough to faint at the foot of the stage. "Shut up. Everyone shut up!" he yelled. "Molly. The green room. Get my bag." She took a gasping breath and nodded. He pointed at Anderson. "You. 999. Or whatever it bloody is here."

"John?" Sherlock had taken Molly's place by the stage.

"No—don't come up. There's broken glass everywhere." When Sherlock started to vault on to the stage anyway, he snapped, "Stop. She'll be okay. It won't fucking help if you get hurt too."

His quick assessment showed that the scalp wound from the scaffolding was the most visible problem. He squeezed her shoulder carefully and leaned over. "Irene?" There wasn't much, a flutter of her eyelids, but it was enough. Spinal injury? Probably not. Neck injury? Possibly. He sucked in air through his teeth and saw Molly bringing the knapsack he kept with him at all times. At first it had just held his own—slightly enhanced—first aid kit. Now, of course, it also held the shoulder holster and some of the extra ammunition for the gun tucked at his back.

Penlight. John checked Irene's pupils. Responsive, good. He worked to stop the bleeding, everything around him fading to background noise except for that slight touch of situational awareness, alert to anything that might be a threat to him or the person he was treating. He could hear Anderson on the phone narrating to the operator what John was doing, but it was information that barely registered. After a few moments, Irene's eyelids fluttered again, and her eyes opened.

"Stay still," John murmured. "You're okay. You just got hit in the head. Help will be here soon." Technically, help was already there, but his supplies didn't allow for anything more than the basics. "Are you dizzy? Pain or numbness anywhere besides your head?"

"No—no, it's..." Her words were a little fuzzy, but coherent. "What happened?"

"Lights fell on us. Now, shh. Just lie still." He pulled off his jacket and pillowed it under her head and shoulders, elevating them slightly.

By the time the paramedics arrived Irene was fully awake and getting irritable. "John, don't let them take me to the hospital. I'm fine."

"Irene, you took a metal pole the size of my wrist to the back of your head. You need x-rays and monitoring. You're going to hospital." John stayed by her while the paramedics did their job—not quite efficiently enough, to his eyes. Civilian. Lazy and sloppy. The second time he growled in frustration, Greg took his arm. "Easy, mate. They're fine." By the time she was loaded on the stretcher and ready to go, the rest of the crew stood around watching.

"Anyone coming with her?" asked one of the paramedics.

"I will," said Sally. She looked at John. "You can't. You've got enough of a mess to deal with here." He didn't like it, but she wasn't wrong.

"Fine. Call me." He gave Irene's hand a squeeze and kissed the back of it. "You'll be all right, love. It's probably just a little concussion."

She smiled. "Whatever you say, doctor."

 

"I'll call Harry if I have to," John said. "She'll tell you the same."

"I know...." Sherlock made a frustrated sound. "I just hate—"

"You're not going on. There's no way they'll get the stage clear and the lighting rig fixed in two hours."

"Irene's going to give me hell for cancelling," Sherlock said. The two of them were headed back to the hotel room and then—as far as Sherlock was concerned—going straight to Irene's bedside.

"She'll get over it."

Sherlock unlocked the room door while John pulled out his mobile. As the door swung open, it caught on a piece of paper. With a stone of dread sitting in his stomach, Sherlock picked it up to see familiar spiky handwriting:

Dearest,

I see you've given over the American whore and traded up. But really, love. A toy soldier? Having a bit of rough on the side is one thing, but don't keep him around afterwards. I'm willing to fix things for you, as always. By the time you read this, they should no longer be a problem.

And then we can finally reunite. I'll see you soon.

-J

Sherlock read it, read it again. "John."

He came over and looked around Sherlock's shoulder at the note. "Oh god." The warm pressure of John's hand at his back steadied him. "Is he saying what I think—?"

Sherlock cleared his throat. "I think, yes."

"Not an accident, then."

"It seems not." He leaned against John and said nothing.

John's voice was dark and gravelled. "Now do you believe that he's serious? That he's a danger to you?"

Sherlock pulled away to look at him. "Me? I'm not the one he dropped a lighting rig on. John—he—you—" He couldn't force the words out. He nearly killed you and Irene.

John shook his head and pointed at the note. "Read it again. I'm an obstacle. You're the bloody target. He's not going to stop until he gets what he wants. We have to call the police."

"Oh, what for. They won't do anything. They didn't the last time." Sherlock fought the urge to tear the note to bits, pretend it never appeared.

"We have to at least tell them."

Sherlock carefully refolded the note along its original lines and tucked into a hotel envelope. "Fine. But tell them to meet us at the hospital."