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If You Can't Stand the Heat

Chapter Text

i. A problematic arrangement, don’t you think?

The omega was good at hiding his scent. Anyone other than Sherlock would have missed it and, as it was, Sherlock nearly did himself. He was busy comparing mould slides so as to better distinguish the species common in London from those in Surrey when Mike Stamford ushered the man into the lab. A glance at the glowing expectation on Stamford's face made the reason for the intrusion obvious. A glance at the other only confirmed it. If Sherlock hadn’t been eyeing the stranger as a potential roommate, he would have gone no further than to register his tan, careworn face, his inconsistent limp, his military hair cut, and place him as a typical beta recently invalided out of his army career.

But since he was looking for a roommate, and Stamford was parading this man around with a goofy smile worthy of a matchmaker, Sherlock bothered to give the man a second look.

And that told a very different story.

“I’m not on the market for breeding,” said Sherlock, dryly. “I think we should get that squared away before you consider becoming my flatmate.”

The omega got his surprise under control remarkably quickly. “Duly noted. I’m not on the market, either.”

And that was worthy of a third, even longer look.

Mike stepped in, “Sherlock, this is my friend John Watson. He needs a flat and I know you have one to share, so I thought —“

“You are aware that I’m an Alpha,” said Sherlock to John. “Mike told you?”

John nodded again. “Yes. And if he hadn’t my nose works perfectly well.”

“A problematic arrangement, don’t you think? Should you ever go into heat.” He said it casually, but watched as John’s pupils suddenly contracted. “You are an Omega after all.” He sat back and catalogued John’s reaction to having his deception seen through.

John flashed from shock to anger. Oh, now he was offended. “What makes you think I’m an omega —“

Sherlock stepped away from his slides and looked him up and down, pointedly this time.

“Your beta smell comes from Confidence body wash — a popular brand amongst those who, for whatever reason, believe their own natural scent to be inadequate or off-putting. Of course, in my line of work I’d be familiar with it. As pungent as that is, a natural beta would still have undercurrents of their own personal scent, but you don’t. Ergo you’ve neutralised your natural hormones, probably though pills, though I don’t entirely rule out vigourous scrubbing.

“Who does that?” Sherlock asked, then immediately answered before John or Mike felt pressured to put out some poorly constructed theory “— Well, some Alphas: primary teachers, psychologists, paediatricians, people who wish to seem less intimidating. But you don’t act like a man who worries that he might frighten others. Look how fiercely you glare! And the army is hardly a place for those who fear they might frighten. And yet, your clothes show that you’ve cultivated blandness to nearly an art. No, you don’t mind intimidating people, what you fear is them noticing you in the first place. So other way around — you’re an omega who doesn’t want people to casually know this fact. Perhaps because you are worried that your smell will encourage people to notice that you are unbounded and unbred at what is, quite frankly, a remarkable age.”

Sherlock straightened up, suddenly aware of the logical error he’d just made. “My apologies, Dr. Watson, it’s obvious that you had no intention of luring me by subterfuge into fathering your children. It’s obvious from your chest and your hands that you are committed to avoiding parenthood.”

John gaped and sputtered. “Luring by subterfuge — of course, not! Do people actually try that on you?” he said after a second.

Sherlock raised his eyebrows. “Do people try that — yes. In the past. Once or twice. Apparently, I’m not without some appeal, though God knows I don’t try to encourage it.”

“From the way you greeted me, I should say not.” John had his arms crossed over his chest. Ah, there it was! That defensive scorn. In a moment John would pronounce him to be a consummate know-it-all and stomp right out of Sherlock’s life more or less as quickly as he’d come in. Predictable. Dull.

Sherlock returned to his slides, but John didn’t move. Sherlock looked up and met his eye. “Well?”

“I don’t think so,” said John, firmly. Everything about John’s posture and attitude said that he was ready for a fight. Perhaps he wasn’t so dull after all.

“You don’t think what?” asked Sherlock.

“I don’t think it will be a problem that you are an Alpha and I’m an Omega. I’m well familiar with the symptoms of heat and the ways of preventing it. I managed my status all my life, though plenty rough conditions. God knows, I’ve lived in close quarters with Alphas before. I really don’t see how sharing a flat with you would be more of a challenge. And, as you rightly and perceptively pointed out, I’ve no more interest in being bred than you have of breeding me. So unless you have some other objection, I’d like to hear about this flat share Mike says you have.”

Sherlock gaped. “You weren’t — you weren’t just put off by what I told you. That bit about how I could tell your gender by your body wash?”

John’s face opened up. “No. No, that part was brilliant! Mike said you were smart and perceptive, but that was, that was, quite remarkable. Well done!” The tension in the air broke as suddenly as it had appeared.

“Really?” said Sherlock, feeling an unaccustomed rush of pleasure. “You didn’t mind that I outed you like that?”

“I’d have had to have told you eventually anyway if we were to be flatmates, so I don’t see why I should be.” At Sherlock’s disbelief he went on. “Seriously. I’ve been covering up my smell since I was a teen. You are the first person to even guess that I wasn’t a beta. Well, outside of doctors who’ve examined me and those who’d seen it printed on my ID. And you explained it so simply that I could follow you. Makes it seem perfectly obvious now. That’s brilliant. Why would I hold that against you?”

Sherlock couldn’t help but feel a warmth in his chest. John thought he was brilliant! Which, of course, he was, but it was so rare to be appreciated for it.

John was still looking at him expectantly. Sherlock kicked himself for being momentarily off his game. “Oh, oh yes, the flat share. It’s 221 B Baker, wonderful location. The rent’s been reduced, did a favour for the owner a while back, so between your army pension and my job we should be able to comfortably afford it. Quite a charming place, well situated, large bedroom on the upper floor would provide you some privacy. You’ll love it.” Sherlock reached over and grabbed a pad of paper and scrawled the relevant information. “I’ll be by at 7 tomorrow, if you’d like to tour the place before agreeing to it. Now if you don’t mind I’m a bit busy.”

“See you then,” said John, taking the sheet. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Holmes.” And with that he left. Mike gave Sherlock a nod and followed him. Just outside the door, he heard John ask, “Did you tell him I was an army doctor?”

“Nope,” replied Mike.


Sherlock turned back to his slides, shaking his head in wonderment, a ridiculous grin plastered on his face. Just when he’d thought he’d seen everything. Perhaps he’d do a blog entry about this. Four Signs of Gender Overcompensation in Omegas.

Chapter Text

ii. Oh god, please let me die.

Unlike Harry, John wasn’t born knowing what gender he’d be. Girls had it a lot easier in that respect. For them the differences were all on the outside. Big cock? Alpha. Small but still functional? Beta. Nothing but a little nub that couldn’t penetrate anything? Omega. For boys, the differences were all internal and it wasn’t until puberty that they knew definitively one way or another. Every boy bragged that he was an alpha and silently wondered what it would be like to be an omega. Most were secretly convinced that they’d be betas, the most boringly comfortable of all the options. John firmly counted himself in that number.

Which was why his first heat took him by utter surprise. Later he’d look back and tick off the signs: the way he’d nibbled at dinner the night before and had skipped breakfast all together, not because he felt sick, but because he simply didn’t have any appetite. He’d felt a strange heavy feeling low in his gut all through History, but it wasn’t until midway through his maths test that he began to worry something might be wrong with him. His sense on smell had gone all wonky. Girls cosmetics, boys sweat, b.o., plastics, mouthwashes, rubber dust, chalk, pens, whatever cleaner the janitor used on the floor, it all seemed to ganging up on his poor nose and intruding in an unwelcome way. He’d tried to concentrate on the formulas he was supposed to be remembering, but his brains were taken up by the feel of the pencil between his fingers, as if the smooth wood were suddenly so very important it couldn’t be dismissed.

And then suddenly he knew he had to get to a toilet right away or there would be a horrible accident. Giving the test up as a lost cause, he stood and shuffled uncomfortably to the head of the class, handed his paper in and grabbed the hall pass before the professor had a chance to comment. And then he made a dash for it. The toilet was just down the hall, empty except for a couple of older girls who were hogging the mirror, the way girls always did. John ignored them in favour of finding a stall and locking himself in it.

He let go and then nearly went through the roof as the feeling of fullness turned abruptly into an incredible itch. Gritting his teeth it was all he could do not to wiggle and try to scratch. It was unbearable — but not actually awful. It was hideously good feeling in fact. He had to fight to stay still and otherwise make a noise that would disturb the girls. He held his breath and hoped they’d leave soon but they didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

“— So adorable on you. It’s much more your colour than mine,” said one of the girls with that condescending tone Alpha girls liked to use on betas. Marcy Brookes, John recognised. Year eleven and all around queen bee. For some reason her scent was about twenty times more powerful than it should have been. “Would you like it?”

“You’ll give it to me?” simpered the other girl, who reeked of being a beta. “Oh, god yes! I love it!” Then her voice changed. “What’s that smell? Is that?”

They knew — fuck, they knew. And John did, too. He was in heat and it was a thousand times worse than getting a boner in front of class. He kicked himself. He should have known. But somehow he hadn’t connected up the dry clinical terms he’d learned in Health with all these odd sensations he was feeling. But now that it’d gone this far, it was obvious. Oh, god, I’m in heat. I’m in heat! I shouldn’t even be here.

“Oh. My. God,” said Brookes. “Oh shit,” and then she giggled. Her voice lowered, “Did you see who that was?”

“Year nine. One of the boys. Watson I think.” God, let me die right now.

“Watson!” Marcy suddenly shouted out. “Hey, what are you doing in school today? You know the rules, you little slut. Stay home during heat days. How are we to get an education with you stinking the place up with your sexy hormones?”

“Oh don’t be mean, I bet it’s his first. Poor thing.” The beta girls sympathy was somewhat undercut by the giggles that followed.

“Go home and shove a dildo up your twat like a good omega!”

“Christ, Marcy!” the beta roared with laughter. “Don’t say that. Oh my God. You’re horrible!”

“What? I wish I was given a day off every month to lay around and wank myself silly. Am I supposed to be sorry for him?”

The beta was too busy laughing to reply.

“It’s his fault,” Marcy groused in a way that made it seem as though she were more amused than bothered. “Oh god, his smell is giving me a boner. This is mad. Hey, Watson, way to be an attention whore! If you want me to look at your bum, you should come out.”

“Oh shut up! You’re tormenting the little blighter. He’s probably crying.”

John’s face went white. He wasn’t crying. He’d made an honest mistake and he was not going to let these girls shame him. Yanking up his trousers, he unlatched the door and banged it open. He was rewarded by a look of shock on both the girls faces. For a second he was sure he’d impressed them with his fierce attitude, but then they dissolved into hopeless laughter at his expense.

He was considering fighting them. He figured two on one, with them both older and heavier, it would be a roughly equal match, but at that moment the School Nurse banged his way into the room. With a curt word and a flick of his thumb, the nurse sent the two girls back to class. He then levelled his gaze at Watson. Even though he was a beta and old, there was something about his mature scent that made John even itchier. His fury died away and was replaced by humiliation.

“Come along,” said the Nurse. “Let’s get you out of here.” To John’s surprise, his voice wasn’t unkind. He ended up waiting in the infirmery until his Dad could get out of work and pick him up. There was no way he could walk home — too many unsavoury Alphas who would care more about his smell than his age. The idea that he might be assaulted drove shivers of fear down John’s spine. He’d always been on the small side, but he’d never felt so utterly helpless before. The nurse went over the symptoms of heat with him and showed him how to mark dates off on the calendar so that he could learn his frequency and begin to anticipate better when he’d need to take a day off. He also explained in far more graphic terms than either of them were comfortable with what measures John could use to ease his symptoms.

“Back in my day, they used to throw omegas a coming out party after their first heat,” mused the middle-aged nurse while they waited. “Show them off to all the eligible Alphas, so that they could get bonded as soon as possible. This would be it for school for them. After bonding, of course comes pregnancy and we’d never see them again.”

John wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a pep talk or a warning.

“Now days, we do try to keep omegas in school for as long as we can. Some even go on to college! So don’t sell your options too cheaply. No matter how tempting that alpha from class is, remember having a baby is life changer. You don’t want to be stuck bearing the children of someone who is lazy and won’t look after you. We do have an omega club you can attend that meets after class once a week. You might find it helpful being around others who have gone through similar early heats, who understand your temptations and can help you stay strong through them.”

John was hardly listening. It had finally sunk in on him that he wasn’t an alpha as he’d hoped. And he wasn’t a comfortable beta, either. He was a breeding factory for the next generation. This was life. He’d work around his heats until someone came along and knocked him up. And then came a life of popping out child after child until the his fertility finally gave out. The thought of it made him feel queasy. Children had always been such an abstract idea for him, but now it became horribly real, and he wasn’t ready for it. By the time his Dad finally arrived to take him home, he was in tears.

Somehow John survived the day and the next, too, lying in bed, isolated to his room like he was contagious. Then came the weekend. By Monday the heat was long past, but the damage was already done. He had an omega scent now. Anyone with a nose could tell his gender, and suddenly he had far more attention than he ever wanted, mostly from Alphas who were a lot older than he was. John hated that the most, even more than the enforced days off and the constant catch up work, or the obsessive checking and planning to make sure he’d never be caught at school during a heat again. The same people who last week passed him in the corridors without a second glance, now watched his every move as he went from class to class. It was only a matter of time before one of them pounced.

Two years later a pill was invented that prevented heats. By then his body had settled to a manageable pattern, giving him enough notice to prepare (as much as heat could ever really be prepared for). Nonetheless, John practically ran down to his local GP and demanded to be put on the contraceptive the moment it became available. He hadn’t even waited to get home before taking the first dose, and he walked home with his mind full of big plans. He then threw himself into his schoolwork with a vengeance, thankful that he’d never miss another test, or have to borrow someone else's notes again.

He still faced prejudice. People wondered why he bothered, after all; eventually he’d have an Alpha to take care of him and children enough to keep him occupied. What did he need the all the education for? Sixth form, med school? Was he serious? But he passed all the tests, worked hard, and never caused trouble, so they grudgingly let him pursue his dreams.

I won’t sell myself cheaply. This is my life and I can do what I want with it. He said it with such fervour that people seldom questioned him twice. They soon learned his other rules as well: he never dated alphas, no matter how hard they pursued him. He had no sense of humour when it came to comments about his gender. He might be small but he had a devastating left hook and he wasn’t afraid to use it. Stay on his right side, and he was the gentlest, sweetest man in existence. Get on his wrong side, and Lord help you, because no one else would.

While John was in medical school they came out with a newer, stronger pill that even stopped the ordinary omega hormones he produced between heats. He was one of the first on that, too. He bought his first bottle of beta smelling body wash at 20. And that’s when everything finally opened up for him.

For the first time since he was fourteen he could walk down a corridor without being checked out by every unbonded alpha he passed. He stopped being introduced to random breeding partners by well meaning friends and family. People stopped telling him, cluckishly, how well suited he’d be as a parent. No one gazed at his chest looking for signs that he’d breast fed a child, or wondered what had left him barren for year after year. For the first time it was he who did the chatting, instead of being the chatted. He got the attention that he wanted, when he wanted it. It was bliss. It was better than bliss, it was freedom. He never wanted to go back. And he began to think that maybe he didn’t need to.

Sixteen years after that, he met Sherlock. By then, the frustrations of adolescence were so far behind him that he’d grown positively complacent.

Chapter Text

iii. Smells like inadequacy.

Sherlock knew about the Confidence Body Wash because John wasn’t the first person he’d met who used it. In fact, one of the users was in right front of him, now, while he cased a crime scene, John at his side.

DI Lestrade looked every bit the average beta. Calm, a bit careworn, service oriented. Most of the people he encountered wouldn’t notice that the smell that backed that image up came right out of a blue bottle, available at any chemists. Most people were idiots.

Sherlock had only smelled Lestrade’s natural scent once, and that had been after an anthrax scare which caused the Firefighters to break out the portable decontamination showers. Lestrade had come out of his enforced scrubbing smelling oddly ambiguous. Sherlock remembered being fascinated. The beta scent was there, but it was weak. There was also more than just a trace of omega hormones, as well. Enough to perk a different kind of interest, or would have if Sherlock allowed himself such distractions.

Sherlock had never met anyone who was mixed gendered before. He couldn’t help wondering how deeply the ambiguity extended. Did Lestrade go into unprovoked heats the way omegas did? From the slight rise of his chest, Sherlock could tell that he’d borne at least one child in his life, though it must have been many years ago. Obviously infertility wasn’t a consequence, but he didn’t have a secret horde of children waiting at home, either.

Lestrade noticed his stare and rolled his eyes. “Someday I’ll let you ask, but right now I want to go home and get properly freshened up.”

Two days later, true to Lestrade’s word, they met at a pub, and Lestrade answered his questions.

“I’m a beta, in case you really are wondering. I’ve had doctors confirm it and everything. The condition is called psuedoomegatry. I produce small amounts of omega scent and not enough beta, but that’s all. It causes confusion in others, but not in me. I’m no more fertile than any other beta. I go into heat the usual beta way. And that’s pretty much all it is. Hope that doesn’t disappoint you.” He laughed and then took a large drink of his beer.

“So the body wash is to prevent confusion.”

Lestrade had laughed, “Yeah. My doctor recommended it. It’s called ‘Confidence’ but to me it smells like inadequacy. I wouldn’t be using it if my body put out normal amounts of the correct pheromones. Confidence, my well lubricated arse.”

That had been a bit over a year ago and the subject hadn’t come up again since. Until now.

Sherlock watched Lestrade and John together for the first time. They’d sniffed each other politely, then that look of mutual knowledge hit and they laughed. Soon enough they were grumbling to each other about the steep price of their gender scented soap. Lestrade opened up about his his condition and John admitted his, and they were clasping forearms and otherwise bonding disgustingly over the matter.

Meanwhile Sherlock tried to shut their chatter out so that he could get some real work done.

“Body, female, late twenties.” He murmured mostly to himself. “Not expecting visitors — the flat is a mess, however her make up is still pretty sharp considering the fact that she’s been strangled with a trainer shoelace.”

“Trainer?” said Lestrade dubiously. “He must have been wearing them, I didn’t see any trainers in her wardrobe.”

“Yes the wardrobe — notice anything about the contents? Expensive clothes. Cheap clothes. Eighteen handbags on pegs, arranged with the care of a shrine. Every one a designer — no this one’s a knock-off but a good one. Something’s missing.”

“What?” asked John.

“The shoes! All her shoes!”

“There are three pairs of shoes in the wardrobe.”

“Yes,” Sherlock reached down and rifled through them. “Cheap, cheap, cheap. She’s got a £200 purse, an £900 wool dress, but what could she wear with it? Surely not these cheap £12 denim clovers, those go with her jeans perhaps. No she’d need’s a Jimmy Choo or a Chloe.”

Sherlock looked at the flat’s tiny toilet and ran through the particulars looking for anomalies. Ah, and there was one: the hand soap on the right side of the basin, the slightly raised soapy crust on the left, where the soap normally resided. The woman’s cosmetics piled up on top of the toilet to the left of the sink. The empty towel rod. Where was the hand towel?

Dirty laundry strewn across the floor, including two towels. Laundry basket full by the door. Sherlock leaned down and snatched the first thing his hand found which turned out to be a pair of knickers. He brought it up to his face and sniffed. Clean.

“Sherlock?” John asked. “What on Earth?”

“Just, let him do his thing,” said Lestrade.

Sherlock ignored the scandalised looks and dropped the knickers back into the pile. If he hadn’t been wearing gloves it would have been simpler to find the still slightly damp towel amongst the rest of the laundry, but after lifting up a nightgown he found it. He sniffed. There was definitely a trace of the soap, but beneath that he thought he could just barely make out the killer’s scent on a hand towel he’d used to wash up after the murder. It was faint, but if he encountered it again, he was pretty sure he’d recognise the person.

“Here, smell this,” he offered to the two of them.

John sniffed and then shook his head. “Smells like an alpha and male, beyond that I don’t know.”

Lestrade sniffed next. “Distinctive, but not anyone I’ve met before.”

“Perhaps this will help,” said Sherlock grinning with glee. “We are looking for a fetishist — a shoe fetishist. An ordinary murderer wouldn’t have bothered to steal her shoes. An ordinary robber would have taken the dress and the handbags. But this one confined himself to shoes. His passion! Nothing else mattered to him.

“Not every shoe was worthy of his attention. He’s got taste. He likes the expensive stuff, but he can’t afford it. Neither, for that matter, can our victim. So the two must share a supplier, someone who could get them the clothes they crave for somewhat less than the going rate. Obvious answer would be an online auction house, I’d check there first.” Sherlock tapped his lip, thought fully.

“Check her computer for an auction account and get records for her purchases, shoes only. Ignore the bidding wars. I’m sure she’s had plenty. A bidding war would have created a sore loser, but not this sore, so I suspect she sniped our murderer at the last minute. Look for a purchase where she she made the winning bid only moments before the close, particularly if the next lowest bid had been there for a while, say a few hours. Now that would be worthy of vengeance.” Sherlock tapped his fist against the palm of his hand. “Now for how: Perhaps he sent her an email afterwards, telling her that he’d noticed her interest and was willing to part with some of his collection. She might have sent her address so that he could ship. Instead of shoes, he shows up in person, unexpectedly. He is able to talk his way in thanks to their mutual passion. While admiring her collection, he wraps a shoestring around her neck and strangles her.”

Sherlock paced. “At first, he’s horrified by his actions. He’s touched a dead woman! He runs to her sink and washes his hands, drying them off he gets ahold of himself again. He then methodically piles the objects of his lust into a box, uses the hand towel to wipe down everything he remembers touching, then buries the towel in with the laundry by the door on his way out.”

He turned to Lestrade, grinning. “And I believe that should be enough for you to go on.”

Lestrade nodded admiringly. “Yeah, I think that’s quite a bit.”

“Marvellous,” said John.

Sherlock smirked. He’d thought he’d have gotten tired of John’s praise by now, but he hadn’t. “Too easy,” he scoffed. “You should see me when I’ve got a really tough mystery.”

“I’d really like to,” said John. “Any time. Count me in.” He gazed at Sherlock in a way that drove shivers of pleasure down his spine. Under the flat smell of his borrowed beta scent, Sherlock thought he caught just a trace of omega.

But that was probably just Lestrade who was now looking at them in an annoyingly knowing way. “Ahem,” said Lestrade, brow raised.

“We aren’t together,” Sherlock said, flatly. “Don’t give me that look.”

“I didn’t say anything,” said Lestrade. “Your personal life is your business.” He then threw them out of his crime scene. “Good luck with him,” he called after them, as they walked out onto the pavement. Sherlock suspected Lestrade was talking to John, but perhaps not. Lestrade did tend to be ambiguous at times.

Chapter Text

iv. The Best Wank of Your Life

There was a brief time after Sherlock had graduated from Uni that he worked for Granger Chemical, in Surrey. Mycroft had gotten him a job in the low bunker-like building hidden from the road in a nest of trees. It was a lovely campus, designed to assure the neighbours that nothing toxic or explosive could possibly be going on within. Inside, the windowless fortress was a whitewashed jumble of every sort of poison on the planet.

Sherlock hated the job. Everything from the laboratory that he had to share with six others to the mind-numbingly repetitive work set his teeth on edge. Half the staff knew his name by the end of the first day, more than half loathed him by the end of the first week, but it wasn’t until four months later, when a routine drug test turned up positive for cocaine, that his boss felt he had sufficient cause to fire him. Sherlock had just smiled and remarked he’d been stoned continuously since October, which earned him an escort out of the building, lest he touch something he hadn’t already contaminated.

Sherlock might have hated his work, but he didn’t hate chemistry. The experiments he did in the tiny cottage he rented were quite fascinating indeed. They mostly involved his own body and various substances he either cooked up on the side, or was able to acquire through his Granger contacts. (He wasn’t the only researcher who understood the recreational capacity of chemicals.)

Todays experiment, for example, came courtesy of the bio division, though they didn’t manufacture it themselves: £150 worth of genuine secretions from an Omega in heat. Sherlock vaguely wondered at the process required to harvest it, and how much the omega had been paid, but decided that it was irrelevant to his experiment.

Sherlock rolled tiny plastic sachet in his hand. Inside was 1 cc of a mostly translucent, smokey-amber liquid. He held it to his nose but smelled nothing through it’s thick protective covering. Smiling he set it down at the kitchen table and then made sure all the equipment he’d need was assembled where he could get to it quickly: cloth measuring tape, a tape recorder, three graduated cylinders, including one that went up to a litre, though it seemed absurd he’d need it, several magazines full of visual pornography, and his notebook.

According to the Alpha he’d bought it from, he should prick the sachet with a pin and gently squeeze to bring up a drop at a time. Then make sure that he wouldn’t be interrupted for several hours, because, as the man put it, “You are in for the best wank of your life. God knows you could use it.”

Considering how much he’d paid for it, it better be damn spectacular, Sherlock thought. He tapped a timer, and then pricked the little plastic pillow. An oily drop beaded up.

Sherlock stiffened. The smell was a lot stronger than he had expected. It was also much less of a scent then a feeling, like some airborne gas, that had reached up through his nose and drove a spike of pleasure into his brain. Sherlock swept up the drop with his fingers, pressed on the plastic to bring up a little more, and then rubbed his fingers together. It was thin but very slippery. Without even considering it, he brought his fingers to his nose and smeared the substance around his nostrils.

That jolt of pleasure hit his brain again. He felt energetic and strong. Powerfully alpha. He felt he could climb walls, jump rivers, break through doors. He’d felt none of this during his previous wank sessions. Oh, god, this was good.

He hadn’t even touched his cock yet, though he knew he’d have to. Soon.

The scent didn’t seem quite enough, so Sherlock reinforced it by squeezing out another couple of drops. This time he oiled his fingers and actually stuck them up his nostrils. The surge of pleasure was even stronger, like a shot of vitality through his body.

He then scrambled to undress, yanking at his shirt, fighting his belt. It was hard to remember exactly how to coordinate his fingers to undo the buttons. No that wasn’t quite right, he knew how to unbutton them, he just didn’t want to take the time to do it. Undressing was a painful exercise in frustration. If he did this again, he’d make sure to be naked before he started. He fought his way out of his shirt and tossed it angrily towards the bed. He nearly tripped himself getting out of the trousers. He wasn’t being elegant or graceful at all, and he really didn’t care.

The air felt incredible on his naked skin. The slight draft seemed to caress him like a lover. So sensitive. So good to be free of the confines of clothing. His cock stood out large, veiny and proud. His own musk mixed with the perfume of the omega pheromones. It smelled right and proper and oddly satisfying, as though he’d just succeeded in some case. He felt brilliant.

His intellect made an appearance long enough to inform him that he was being utterly irrational. Then it wisely buggered off again.

Sherlock reached down and milked his cock with a few long pulls, gathering up the liquid on the end. Then added a drop of omega essence to it and brought it up to his nose again. The feeling of satisfaction increased — better than nicotine, fast approaching cocaine in it’s high. This was good. So very, very good. Completely different from any wank session he’d ever had before. He hadn’t even cracked open a magazine yet. Amazing that heat alone could produce such incredible sensations.

He was about to repeat the process when his eyes happened to glance at the notebook and he remembered the purpose behind this whole thing. All would be ruined if he let go too far, and didn’t get his first measurements. But oh, collecting data had never seemed quite so tormenting before.

It was with supreme willpower that Sherlock grabbed the measuring tape and ran it down the underside of his now twitching cock. There was no doubt he was fully erect. It seemed to him that he was a bit harder than he normally got. The tape bore that out. Though his length was the same as his control wank, a generous nine inches, the circumference was a full quarter inch larger at the mid shaft point.

Sherlock measured around the base of his cock, where the skin was darker and looser and the knot would eventually form. He wasn’t surprised to find that he’d already begun growing there, though it was still soft and almost mushy to the touch. Right now, if this weren’t just an experiment in masturbation, he’d be easily thrusting that part of him in and out of his partner’s hole. The difference between the hard shaft and the still rubbery knot would encourage the omega’s anus to loosen and his glands to lubricate more freely. The pistoning thrusts would spread the lubrication, aerosolise it into a drug-like mist that would spur the Alpha (himself) to thrust… even… harder… faster… yes.

He formed a loop with his fingers and thumb and rubbed it up and down his shaft. Thinking of omegas and their anuses reminded him of the magazines he’d laid out for himself. With his free hand he flipped open a copy of Male Omega. The first glossy montage was of a man, early twenties, on hands and knees. The omega’s thighs were spread, his cock hard with excitement pointing towards the ground. Between the globes of his buttocks, his anus glistened, moist and loose and inviting. And a drop of fluid followed the muscle of his thigh halfway down to his knee. The omega was looking over his shoulder at the camera with palpable longing. To Sherlock’s lust addled brain it seemed as though he were actually seeing through the page to him specifically.

My god, these omega pheromones were amazing.

Sherlock’s legs felt a bit wobbly and off balance. He sat down, slumped in the padded chair, spreading his legs far apart. One hand was racing up and down his shaft — when had he started doing that? He’d have to make a note of how difficult it was to collect data in this condition. Up over the foreskin, then back down the hot, painfully hard shaft. He tightened his hand every time he reached the base and squeeeeezed the knot. It yielded just a bit less each time. Already it was visibly wider than the rest of the shaft.

Sherlock flipped the page. A second spread of photos greeted his fevered eyes. This one had an Alpha, approaching, and then mounting the needy omega. The second actor was generously proportioned even for an Alpha, which had appealed to Sherlock during the control wank, but now made him feel a bit angry. Sherlock growled with ridiculous jealousy.

Luckily the next page had cropped the pictures such that, but for a bit of thigh and belly, and of course the penis, he couldn’t see the Alpha at all. Sherlock could then pretend that it was his cock breached the hole and made all the pink wrinkles fan out and smooth. Oh yes, look how wet it was there. Was it time for a bit more of that oil? Sherlock decided it was.

He squeezed the packet and several more drops oozed out on his fingers. He’d need to be careful with it. The packet was more than half-empty at this point. He rubbed the oil against his philtrum, then, as the smell hit his brain like a hammer, he impulsively sucked his fingers, running them over his tongue. The flavour was subtle but heady and it sensitised his mouth and made his lips tingle. He sucked hard, as if hoping his fingers could magically produce more nectar, then groaned when the taste faded to nothing.

He turned back to the magazine. The next page had photographs of the omega’s rapturous face intermixed with his penetrated behind. The photo spread implied that the omega groaned with relief when the Alpha was fully seated, and begged for more when the cock was pulled back. Sherlock rutted his hand harder, imagining that he was the cause of those expressions.

The following page showed more of the Alpha again, but Sherlock was far enough gone not to mind. The man’s knot had inflated and now rested against the Omegas buttocks. He hadn’t locked inside. Of course, not, this was pornography, and all the more likely that the Omega wasn’t really in heat at all. Sherlock was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to resist knotting in the omegas body if he’d been given a choice. His knot was giving him fully half the pleasure at this point.

Just as unlikely, the Omega’s expression was orgasmic, even though he hadn’t been locked. An inset picture showed the omega’s own cock disgorging a thick, threadlike wad of come, wetting the bedding beneath him. At no point in the shoot had anyone touched the omega’s cock, apparently the sensation of being penetrated had been more than enough to bring him off.

The final picture was of the Alpha ejaculating across the omega’s back. What appeared to be a cup’s worth of cum dripping down the man’s sides. During his control wank, Sherlock had been derisive about the artistic licence of it. Now he couldn’t put his head together enough to care.

Something nearly painful in it’s sweetness clicked at the base of Sherlock’s cock. His knot which up until now had been malleable, inflated to full in the space of a gasp. It was hot, like a furnace, and it bulged, easily twice as thick as before, unbelievably hard and impossibly heavy. He figured to be about five inches in diameter.

If he were with an omega, they’d be locked together, unable to move. That weight, that heat, would be filling the omega’s rectum. The top of the knot would be pressed against the entrance to the vagina, bottling it up tight, preventing even a drop of semen from escaping. The bottom would be pressed hard against his anal sphincter, holding them in place and assuring that withdrawal was impossible until insemination was complete.

Sherlock, grabbed himself with both hands and squeezed the shaft hard and imagined what an omega’s vagina would feel like. His balls felt hot and there was an intense pressure just inside his body that got stronger with every second. He was teetering on the edge of orgasm. It was inevitable. Here it came.

Sherlock almost didn’t get the graduated cylinder to his cock in time, as it was he jammed the tender head a bit too firmly against the lip of the plastic measure. But he did catch the ejaculate. His cock pulsed forcefully three times and he jetted forth about twice as much ejaculate as his control session.

Gasping he started to relax but instead of the normal waning of interest, he found a powerful tension remained in him. His knot was still fully inflated. After barely sliding back from the edge, he found himself ramping up to orgasm again. This time it was only a single pulse and another two c.c.s of ejaculate in the tube. Sherlock breathed. Surely this was it. Two orgasms only a minute or so apart was more than enough, wasn’t it? But the pleasurable pressure inside didn’t die out. He ran his hand tentatively over his shaft, expecting it to feel over-sensitise, but it still felt good.

And after about two minutes that tension built again, and he pulsed out a third orgasm.

Oh, so this was how it was. The spasms came at about a minute or so apart, a strange, rolling wave of pleasure that lead to ejaculation after ejaculation. Each one seemed a bit less copious than the last, but still far more than he ever expected to wring out of himself. There were nine c.c.s of come in the cylinder now, and his body didn’t seem to be ready to stop.

God if only to have three hands — or four. Two to continue milking, with slow, tiny strokes, he was so sensitive, he really needed no more than that. One to hold the cylinder and the last to grab the packet off the table and give himself the final hit contained within. Sherlock settled for moving quickly. He put down the cylinder, and grabbed the nearly empty sachet, bringing it up to his nose so quickly and violently that he actually hit himself in the face. He squeezed it and smeared it against his nostrils, then put the bit of plastic in his mouth to suck the last bit out. He just had time to grab the cylinder for the next orgasm.

This one was a bit stronger, two pulses, God. 14 c.c.s now, almost half a cup. If he’d actually been fucking, the omega’s womb would be swimming in the stuff. It was no wonder that impregnation was nearly assured. And still he wasn’t done. The next wave took longer, nearly five minutes, and the one after that a similar amount of time.

And that, finally, was it. His knot deflated, his cock grew limp and the familiar post orgasmic hypersensitivity kicked belatedly in. Sherlock breathed hard, he was covered with sweat and felt like he’d just lifted a mountain all by himself. There were 19 c.c.s in the cylinder, far more that needed for the job. Absurdly excessive. Enough sperm to populate a modest sized galaxy. Surely there was enough to impregnate a single man. And yet, an omega could rouse an alpha to mate him as many as ten times during a single heat. Insane.

But pleasurable. Yes. Very nice, he thought, utterly smug and self-satisfied. Better than tobacco. Better than cocaine.

Sherlock spat out the plastic onto his lap and collapsed, bonelessly. The man from Bio hadn’t lied. This was quite the “wank of his life.” For all his attempts to keep on top of it, he’d pretty well lost himself in the end. He hadn’t gotten half the measurements he’d planned. And right now, there was such a deep, cathartic relaxation, he was having a hard time motivating himself to writing any of his observations down.

Just as well there hadn’t been an omega in the room. Was so high that he was almost sad he hadn’t just produced a child. And now that was just insane. Him as a father? What a horrifying thought.

Chapter Text

V. I’ve a bit of a situation

Later, when it was too late to do anything about it, John kicked himself for missing the clues. In retrospect they were so obvious. But just like his first heat, he was blindsided utterly.

The first clue was from Sherlock. It was nothing more than a look, but it was a long, speculative one — the kind of look that John recognised as Sherlock trying to make sense of something. John should have stopped in his tracks and demanded, “What?”

But he didn’t. Instead he decided that he really didn’t want to know, because lately that look usually was followed up by some far too blunt observation of John’s mood, behaviour, or intelligence. Right at that moment, John was exhausted, so he simply rolled his eyes and made it obvious that Sherlock’s observation would be unappreciated.

So Sherlock didn’t bother to inform him that his scent had changed and John never had the chance to correct the assumption that he’d decided to switch to the more typical omega heat suppressor, the one that allowed his natural scent to be emitted. Sherlock later told John that he liked his smell, which is why he didn’t push the issue.

Sherlock wasn’t the only one who liked it. That was the second hint. John noticed that people on the bus were looking his way more often. The vender at the coffee kiosk smiled more broadly. At the surgery, some of the staff complimented him and asked him if he’d started wearing cologne.

John just shook his head. “New laundry soap,” he said, by way of excuse. At the time it seemed plausible. A week before, Sherlock had a case that relied on identifying a particular brand of detergent, so he’d commandeered as much of John’s clothing as he could get his hands on, and had taken over a laundrette washing each item individually. Since then, John’s wardrobe smelled a bit like an arboretum.

His coworkers accepted his explanation, and John had continued about his day, wondering vaguely which of the scented detergents was the one that pleased everyone so much.

The next day, it was the same. Same smiles in line at Tescos, same looks from fellow bus riders. His patients were still as miserable as ever, but some of their spouses greeted him a bit more warmth than they usually did. If he’d been thinking about it, he’d have known that laundry soap wasn’t the explanation.

And that was the problem. He wasn’t thinking. It’d been almost seventeen years since he’d last seen this sort of behaviour directed towards him. He simply didn’t remember the leers he got as a teen. Or the way the alpha girls tried to crowd him in the halls. Or how strange alpha men used to strike up random conversations with him when he walked down the street. Back then he’d been very young and nervous and hated the attention. Now he was older, more mature, and he found it, frankly, flattering. When an Alpha girl nearly half his age gazed longingly at him on the bus ride home, he’d simply smiled and thought it oddly pleasant.

It didn’t even occur to him to wonder about his hormones. Not once. After all he was taking his pills faithfully every day. The same pills he’d taken for years without the slightest problem, through med school and war. And it wasn’t like anyone came out and told him that he smelled appealingly omega. It wasn’t the sort of thing that came up in casual conversation.

The final hint was dropped nearly two weeks later, but he missed this one as well. Sherlock was out of town, up in Peterborough for the night, trying to find some heirloom jewellery that a client’s aunt had stashed in her house before she died. The home was to be sold and it hadn’t turned up in the cleaning. There was nothing Sherlock loved better than a treasure hunt, but John couldn’t justify taking time off from the surgery for it.

He ended up taking time off anyway. He was feeling decidedly off. He went through the motions of making dinner and ended up staring at his plate for half an hour before scraping it off in the rubbish. The thought of putting food in his mouth was unappealing. The smell nauseated him. The next morning was woken by a bout of diarrhoea, and spent the next hour sitting on the pot until the last of the cramps went away.

And that, as far as the surgery was concerned, was that. Even though John didn’t feel feverish, it wasn’t worth taking the chance of infecting already fragile people with something nasty. He phoned in his excuse, and was told to take it easy. John did just that, curling up in front of the telly and watching whatever was on.

There was a low heavy feeling in his bowels and his sense of smell seemed to be far more acute than normal. John felt odd as he walked. Kind of swollen and itchy in unmentionable places. He’d made himself a cup of tea and idly thinking about how distracting his lower body felt when it finally hit him.

No. Impossible.

John ticked off the symptoms: anorexia, contracted sigmoid, bionic smell, the way people had been treating him. Dear god. Forget medical school, the cause was blindingly obvious to a year nine student. For heaven’s sake, he’d lived through this enough times to know what it it was.

Heat. Oh, no. I’m going into heat!

John put the tea down on the table and rushed to the bathroom. How, how, how? He grabbed his pills and checked to see that he hadn’t missed one. But no. The blister for Wednesday was broken. And even if he had missed one, it should have taken at least a week of missing pills before an ovum could ripen and trigger a heat. There had to be something wrong with the pills. Maybe he’d been given a placebo or something. But why on earth would anyone do that?

John wiped his face. Shit! Just as well he hadn’t gone to work. Though if he had, could have given himself a last ditch contraceptive shot. Maybe he still could — and walk around outside this far into his heat? No, he’d be harassed before he got three blocks.

And oh crap. What was he going to do? He wasn’t at all prepared for this! It would be like his first awkward, miserable heat all over again. He had nothing in the flat to soothe himself with, unless he asked Sherlock to go fetch him something. And John could only imagine Sherlock’s teasing remarks.

Oh wait, no, John groaned. Oh, Christ, that’s right, Sherlock’s an Alpha! John wasn’t sure what Sherlock’s reaction to finding him in this state, but it wasn’t going to be light-hearted teasing. Hopefully that case up in Peterborough would last another two days.

But what if it didn’t? What if Sherlock had found the jewels and was already on his way back? There was no helping it, John had to power through the humiliation and warn him away.

He texted Sherlock. Please do me a favour and stay away from the flat until Saturday. I’ve a bit of a situation. He considered being more direct, but even if Sherlock didn’t care about taboos, John found it too embarrassingly personal to text. Instead he hit the send button and waited.

There was a pause of about twenty seconds and his phone rang again.

Understood. Sherlock texted back.

John breathed a sigh of relief. He’d expected Sherlock to ask for more of an explanation, but as an Alpha and as a detective, he had to know all the euphemisms for heat. John remembered Sherlock’s complaining about how omegas had tried to entrap him in the past. He’d likely stay away a week before risking exposure to John.

Well, that’s done at least. John sat down at the kitchen table, drank his cooling tea, and waited for mother nature to have her dirty way with him.

Two hours later, it hit: the first wetness, the first shuddering pangs of need. His trousers were soaked by the time he reached his room, so he pulled them off and left them by the door. Then he stripped off the rest, because otherwise he’d likely rip them in his thrashing later on. He unfortunately knew what to expect, and it wouldn’t be fun.

He crawled onto the bed then stopped, on hands and knees and arched his back because it felt sooooo good to stretch that way. He could feel a teasing sensation in his vagina. An annoyingly pleasant irritation. He couldn’t stop himself from bearing down and then a sudden gush of fluid sluiced down his thighs. He caught some of it with his hands and smeared it around the bed sheet. Christ, he was so messy. Disgusting. He couldn’t keep it in. The smell of heat was thick around him. Thank God he’d decided against a last minute run out.

And then the tingling turned into an itch. Every little shift made it worse. John thrust his hips, trying to ease it but it didn’t work. He had to get something in him, to rub, rub, rub that spot out. Everything would feel so much better if he could just slide something in himself and stretch everything out good and proper. Wide as it would go.

His mind thought longingly of the dildos he no longer owned. That one model he used when he was sixteen — the one with the vibe and inflatable knot. That would have felt perfect about now. He’d lie on his side, knee tucked to his chest, and slide it slowly, in and out… in and out… up farther and farther until it glided through the hidden entrance and parted, oh so gently, that passageway. Making the walls of his vagina spread, widen, stretch, deeper and deeper until he was hilt deep, then came the slow pulling back.

John whimpered, and slipped an woefully inadequate finger into himself. His anus was so loose already, so slippery, that it barely made an impression. Nothing like thrusting with that vibe. Oh that had been so good, he’d start thrusting faster, slapping the based against his arse, then withdrawing so far he felt the tip leave his vagina and rub across his prostate. The vibrations would shiver through him, making everything tingle so nicely. Then, bam, back in, in, in, and oh yes. There would be that wonderful pang of pleasure when it bottomed out and he’d be totally filled. And then, just at that moment, he’d trigger the button at the base, inflate the knot and come, and come, and come.

John, rolled over, onto his back and flung his arms and legs out wide in frustration. Thinking of this wasn’t enough. The heat was on him hard now, and this was torture. He needed something in him now. Something hard and long and smooth.

Maybe Sherlock had a dildo hidden in his room? No. Probably not. He was an alpha male — probably didn’t even have a vagina, or maybe he had just a bitty dead ended one that was good for nothing. Besides Sherlock didn’t seem the type to screw around like that. A stick? God help him, his old cane was looking rather inviting. No, no, what was he thinking. He’d helped people who’d gotten in trouble sticking random objects up their behinds during heat. It was the source of much, much office humour.

John beat his head against the pillow, then rolled back on his stomach.

God, he’d forgotten how miserable this was. All he had was his fingers and they weren’t anywhere near enough.

Those he slid into himself, one, then two, then immediately three. His anus cried out with relief at the stretch. Oh so good. So wet. He fucked the digits in and out, one hand, then the other. He squirmed, raising one leg up to get a better angle, going in front and back and pushing farther in, deeper. No matter what he did, it wasn’t far enough. He could just barely brush the entrance to his vagina with the very tips of his fingers, but that only made it worse. John winced and tried to keep from whimpering. It wasn’t enough. He needed more.

He needed a cock. Anyone’s. Hell, he’d shove his own up there if it weren’t impossible. Oh god, it was driving him nuts.

He switched to wanking his cock. It was hard, too, but it didn’t feel right when he touched it. He wasn’t sure if he were too sensitive, or not sensitive enough, but it just didn’t satisfy. So he went back to playing with his ass, using the middle and forefingers of both hands now to push in and stretch himself. He couldn’t get to his vagina but at least he could abuse his anus.

At that moment, he heard the worst noise ever: Downstairs, the front door opened.

Mrs. Hudson, thought John. She was a beta and old, it was unlikely she’d be too bothered by the smell, but even so he hoped she’d take a whiff and decide to take pity on John and leave him to his privacy. With effort John withdrew his fingers. The last thing he wanted was for her to hear the squelching as he tried to get himself off.

But no, not Mrs. Hudson. There steps were too heavy. It could be anyone. A client. A handyman. Some opportunist off the street who hoped to take advantage of an unmated omega. Whoever it was down there closed the door behind them and took a few steps in. Then everything went still.

Rolling up on on elbow, John looked at his bedroom door and saw that he’d left it partially open. Shit. He got up and ran with some difficulty to the door. Every step seemed to tease. His legs were rubbery, his thighs sticky with dried secretions. He slammed the door shut.

As if in answer, downstairs he heard the heavy tread again only somewhat muffled by the door now between them. A tentative step forward, then a pause. Then another step. Then whoever it was down there was on the move again, but not away. No he (had to be — such a loud tread) was walking down the short hallway to the stairway up. Coming closer, moving faster. Loud. Up the stairs now. It could be anyone.

John’s slickly lubed fingers fumbled with the lock, barely twisting it in place before the knob began jiggling.

“John?” came Sherlock’s deep baritone. “Let me in.”

“Stay away,” shouted John, horribly relieved that it was Sherlock and not some stranger. Then horrified that it was Sherlock. He’ll never forgive me. “Why did you come? I told you not to come. You are supposed to be in Peterborough.”

“You said you had a situation. I thought you might be, be in danger.”

“Well you know I’m not, so please leave, quickly.” John caught a whiff of something distinctly alpha through the door. Christ. Hormones. It was all he could do not to unlock the door, but instead he leaned against it, feeling the texture of the wood against his naked shoulder and thigh. He couldn’t prevent a moan, low and miserable, from escaping his lips.

“Let me in! Let me in now!” Sherlock sounded frantic. He slammed his hand at the door loud enough to make John wince.

Oh god, stop tempting me. Sherlock had the part John needed. Could make this itch go away. He’d be able to make everything feel better. And the moment John’s heat had passed he’d resent the hell out of it. He’d feel he’d been trapped, suckered into breeding John. And there would be child. No. He wasn’t going to do this to Sherlock. Even if it killed him.

“No,” said John, tightly. “Get out of here, Sherlock. Come back on Saturday.”

“Unlock the door, John. This is my home! You’ve no right to keep me out.” Sherlock’s voice was darkly righteous and utterly, completely mad.

John shuddered. He’d never heard Sherlock like this before. He knew the man had a tendency towards addiction and a weakness to mind altering substances in general. Perhaps it was too much to expect that he’d attempt to fight wills with nature’s most powerful drug.

“It’s my home too,” John reasoned. “And my room. I’ve every right. Please Sherlock, listen, it’s the heat making you say this. Remember, you told me you weren’t in the market. If I let you in you are going to be furious at me when we come out of this. I don’t want to trick you!”

Sherlock banged at the door again, throwing himself at it. John leapt away and saw the wood bowing underneath the weight. If it breaks, said a small selfish part of John, then it won’t be my fault what happens. I can then just give in and let it feel so good. Anticipation made him even wetter.

John staggered back to the bed and knelt next to it, his fingers gripped hard into the bedding to prevent them from going to that needy part. He’d forgotten how painful it was to be unsatisfied in heat.

The banging at the door stopped. “Did you plan to have another lover come here to relieve you? Is that why you want me away? Is that why you timed your heat so that I’d be out of the flat?”

“What? No.” The last thing John needed was Sherlock feeling jealous and rejected. “No one’s coming. I promise.”

“Please, John.” Sherlock’s voice was wheedling now. “I won’t hurt you. I promise. I won’t knot in you. Just let me fuck you a little bit. Just a few strokes, then I’ll go away, I promise. Or barring that let me taste you?”

Oh god, so tempting. John wasn’t sure about the tasting, but just a few strokes of a hard penis through his hole would feel awfully good right now. He was pretty sure he’d come fast and hard and maybe that would be enough to make the rest of the heat bearable. He needed to be fucked oh so badly. Would it be so bad? If anyone had self-restraint it was Sherlock.

“Just a few strokes? Are you sure you can stop yourself?” John asked, his will power faltering.

“Anyway, my genes would be so much better than anyone else’s. Don’t you want your child to be smart?”

And that answered that. John beat his forehead against the mattress. “Are you listening to yourself right now? How many times have you told me you didn’t want to breed!”

“I was lying,” said Sherlock, surly.

“You aren’t in your right head. And neither am I. If I open this door we’ll do something we’ll regret. Listen, I’m being unbelievably self-sacrificing here, Sherlock. You have no idea how unbearable this is for me. Don’t push it. Or I will open that door, consequences be damned!”

“OPEN THE DOOR!” Sherlock roared. Bang!

“Sherlock please don’t hurt yourself,” begged John.

“Let me help you, please John, I want to help you so much right now, I’m so hard it hurts. You don’t want me hurting do you? You just said you didn’t. Let me in and we’ll both stop hurting.” He was wheedling again.

“Sherlock,” whimpered John, slumping further down the side of the bed to lie in a miserable heap on the floor. His fingers were back inside himself. It was so good to touch, so woefully inadequate. “I know you don’t want to fuck me. Please, go away!”

There was silence for thirty seconds. Then John heard a step backwards away from the door. Then another. Then it seemed as if Sherlock were racing down the steps.

John let out a loud groan of frustration and writhed slowly against the cold floorboards and the rough rug. Stupid, he thought. Stupid. He was willing and you turned him down. He grabbed one slick hand around his half-numb cock and jacked himself, hoping that orgasm would come soon.

A minute later, the footsteps were back, banging up the steps, then on the landing.

“Sherlock?” said John, pulling himself to sit. “What are you doing?”

The knob jiggled a bit, then the door flew open, hitting the wall and swinging back. John barely registered a key in the lock. Most of his attention was taken up by Sherlock standing, stark naked and wild looking, on the threshold. He hadn’t been kidding about being hard for John. His cock stood out tall and thick, and he smelled strongly alpha. John’s mouth watered and he could barely hold back a whimper.

That’s it. I’m fucked, groaned John, though largely in relief.

“Don’t tell me what I want!” Sherlock thundered, his eyes wide and dark, and then he was across the floor, swooping down on John like some giant bird of prey. “I know what I want.”

John wasn’t sure if he were fighting Sherlock or helping him or just wiggling because his body needed to move so badly. But it was a terribly awkward moment when they slid and wrestled with each other. Two days later John found a bruise on his calf that probably came from this. In any case, Sherlock was stronger and more driven and frankly had a better idea of what he was trying to do.

Which was to throw John over the side of the bed and fuck him senseless.

John’s gave up the fight and went still as soon as his belly hit the mattress. Because at that second he felt something so unimaginably wonderful that it made up for everything that had happened all morning. Something smooth and warm and oh-so-perfect nudged him, parted his loose anus, stretched it out the way it so badly needed to be stretched, then slid deeply inside, past his prostate, through his inner entrance, all the way to the top.

John let out a cry of relief. Oh god, yes. Oh, god, that was it. That scratched the itch.

Above him, Sherlock let out a rumbling groan. “That’s good,” he said. “So good. You are so wet, John. So firm around me. Can you feel me against your womb?”

John nodded, the pressure was just exactly what he needed. He flexed and squeezed the rod within him. It different than the toy he’d used in his previous heats. Warmer. Just the perfect hardness. “Fuck me,” begged John. “Do it.”

“Are you ready?”

“I’m miles past ready,” said John. “If you are going to do this, do this. Don’t tease.”

Sherlock began thrusting. The relief was tremendous. It was ecstasy. Oh, every thrust just lit off a chain reaction of pleasure. John moved with him, pushing backwards and bearing down, trying to make the thrusts harder. They were a bit off sync for a few strokes but then they found their rhythm and were working together. Orgasm rushed quickly within reach.

“Coming,” gasped John and he did. He felt his inner muscles clamping down and at the same time his neglected cock pulsed out a glob of hot sperm against his belly. “Thank you, thank you,” he murmured. “I needed that.”

But Sherlock didn’t stop fucking him. He didn’t slow down. As John felt the jag of orgasm leaving him, he was surprised to find that it didn’t bother him. Outside of heat, when there was no more spurring him on but the pure indulgent pleasure of the act, he’d typically need a break of a few minutes after he came, during which he didn’t want anything in him or around his cock. But heat had always been different. More insatiable.

Still even then, in his previous heats, he’d already triggered the knot by this point. After his come he’d release the bulb and withdraw the toy and get an hour or so of relief before he felt compelled to repeat. But now he was just as happy that Sherlock wasn’t withdrawing. It still felt good, and it was starting to feel even better. And in any case, he had a strong, unsatisfied, quite determined alpha sliding into him, and John knew that he wasn’t going to stop. John relaxed against him.

Sherlocks didn’t seem to notice any change in John’s behaviour. His thrusts were steady and quick and powerful, and soon John found himself ratcheting towards a second orgasm.

Then he felt something change. The base of Sherlock’s cock had always been a bit thicker than the rest of him, giving John that bit of extra stretch that made bottoming out so nice. The knot yielded and moulded to him as it slid through, not painful, but definitely interesting. But now it seemed with every thrust that stretch was more brutal. The knot was less giving, more demanding.

John felt his anus begin to protest the treatment just a bit. Even as lubed as he was, there was a moment of pain as the half-filled knot pushed its way through, then an equal relief when it was past and his anus relaxed around the much smaller base of Sherlock’s cock. The moment was brief, and then the pressure was back, outward this time, and again the relief. As only the shaft remained inside him. John would have protested if the part in between, when the knot was fully inside him, weren’t so good. It was vigorously massaging his prostate now, and that part was loving the rough treatment. He was so close to coming again…

There was something he was supposed to be remembering, something important, but he couldn’t muster a care about it. How could he with all these sensations inside him.

Sherlock let out a little breathy gasp and tightened his hands on John’s hips. “John shall —“ He didn’t bother finishing the sentence. It was too late. The knot filled rapidly, expanding in John’s rectum, filling it and stretching it to an extent it had never been stretched before. It didn’t hurt, but it felt very intense and made him tremble. His anus tightened, locking Sherlock in place. His prostate felt the squeeze and responded. John came again, harder this time.

Sherlock was breathing raggedly. John could feel him shaking a bit. After a moment he said. “John… we’re knotted.”

“I know.”

“Can you — lets see if we can move to the bed proper. Or the floor. I don’t think I can hold this position for the whole time.” Sherlock seemed somewhat flummoxed. John let out a breathy laugh between his teeth.

“Okay. Together and slow,” he said.

It took work moving up onto the bed. They had to synchronise their efforts, any sudden movement pulled the knot and made John let out a hiss of discomfort. After a bit of careful progress, Sherlock suddenly begged him to stop and John felt another pulse of pressure inside him. Sherlock had come again. And so it was, nudging and trying and failing and trying again, that eventually they got onto the bed and lay spooned together. Sherlock’s arm looped over John’s chest and his legs entwined with Johns.

Now that they were comfortable, Sherlock started rocking his hips a little, not so hard as to pull uncomfortably against John’s locked anus, but enough to make that hard knot within John rub against his prostate. Sherlock’s hand wandered down to John’s still hard cock and began to stroke it. John was expecting it to be unwanted, but with his vagina and rectum filled and content, he found it felt good to give that part of him a bit of attention. In fact, very good. He was going to come again. And then he did.

“Good?” asked Sherlock.

“Very good,” John admitted with a sigh. “More.”

And Sherlock did it more, stroking Johns cock lazily, only pausing when another orgasm hit him. Then going back and stroking quicker as if to apologise for the delay. And so he managed to milk a fourth and fifth orgasm out of John. They stayed locked for the better part of an hour. Then just as suddenly as it had inflated, the knot went down.

Sherlock pulled out, then pressed his body tightly against Johns back. Exhausted, they both slept.

Chapter Text

vi. We will have to start making some arrangements

Sherlock woke to find himself lying in his own bed wrapped in a twisted, crusty sheet, with his cock still partially lodged in his flatmates rear. The smell of heat had faded to nothing and all that was left was the stench of old sweat and copious dried semen. He stiffened and then, as he stretched, his cock slid out and brought with it a wave of fresher smelling sex. He wasn't sure whether to be fascinated or appalled by the sheer mess. The bedding looked to be a total loss.

“You back to yourself?” John asked, mildly, not moving. “Do you remember what happened?”

Sherlock rolled away and disentangled himself from the disgusting sheet. Some of his thigh hair came off with it.

Then he realised that John had asked a question. “What? Don't be daft. Even if for some reason I developed amnesia, my cock up your arse would make our activities obvious. Yes, I remember. You were in heat. I returned home and we fucked, passionately, and judging by light in the window and the state of the room, for at least a full day.”

Really, as though he could forget such a spectacular bender! He hadn’t indulged in anything this decadent since his post collage drug binges.

Though, now that he thought of it, parts of it were distressingly hazy. If only he'd had time, he'd have set up a few cameras in strategic areas. Had he bred John seven or eight times? Sherlock probed his usually crystal clear memory and found rather disconcerting gaps, especially towards the end of the experience, when all his mind fetched back was a vague sensation of thrusting, and the memory of knocking the table lamp off with his foot.

Earlier on, before exhaustion and mindlessness had completely taken over, was much clearer. Sherlock distinctly remembered waking up after the first awkward round of mating to the sound of John holding back a rather pathetic whimper. Sherlock could smell the need pouring off John’s skin, and see the wetness from his ready anus running down the inside of his thigh. John just lay there miserably, back to Sherlock, trying not to move, his tight fists gradually pulling the bottom sheet loose. The heat was on him hard again, but the poor fellow had difficulty admitting he desparately needed Sherlock’s hard cock again.

John always took such pride in his independence, perhaps that made him feel embarassed admitting he actually needed Sherlock. Sherlock felt no such qualms.

Sherlock took the most splendid mercy on him. Without waiting for John to resolve whatever ridiculous internal debate he was having, he rolled John over onto his belly, climbed on top and sank right in. Any reluctance John might have had vanished completely the moment Sherlock’s cock pushed through his slippery entrance. Inside was perfectly hot and firm and pleasantly slick. John’s body conformed to Sherlock’s cock as though it were designed specifically for it. Beneith him John squirmed enthusiastically, egging him on to be “faster” and “harder”, which Sherlock happily obliged.

There was no thought of knotting outside of John this time. That bird had flown. As soon as Sherlock felt that little popping sensation at the base of his cock, he thrust in as hard as he could, pushing past the squeeze of John’s sphincter and locking them together tight. Nothing compared to the sensation of John's flesh around his fully inflated knot. Ecstasy suffused through his body in the closest thing Sherlock had ever had to a religious experience. The pressure, the heat, even the little yanks and pulls as they adjusted to each other were utterly heavenly. He felt like he was part of John. Bound together, they rolled onto their sides and spooned and came over and over again.

Between the jags of exquisite pleasure, Sherlock had played with John's cock, running his hand possessively up and down it's length, exploring the little knot at the base. Tiny thing, that knot, barely wider than the rest of his cock, even as John ejaculated. Woefully inadequate compared to the heavy monster that held them so tightly together, Sherlock thought smugly. John would never properly tie anyone with it, he’d slip right out and let his seed spill uselessly. He’d never put anyone into heat. Which meant that the only children John would have would be the ones that Sherlock filled him with. For some reason that idea made his lust-addled mind unspeakably secure and happy.

Take it all, everything I give you.

He must have been babbling some of this out loud because at one point John spoke up with long suffering patience, “Yes, I'm having your child. You're a big strong alpha. Wonderful knot. Now please wank me.”

Once they were both satiated, sleep dragged them down until the next wave of heat hit John. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Though Sherlock felt distinctly cheated, it really wasn’t a surprise that it all turned into a massive, pleasurable blur.

Now, hours and hours later (how many exactly? The clock had been knocked off the nightstand along with the lamp), John looked about as thoroughly ravished as a man could be. His hips were covered in small bruises from Sherlock’s over eager fingers, his thighs were spread to reveal a puffy, swollen anus. His blotchy skin was streaked where sweat and other secretions had flowed, then dried, trapping dust. With a sigh, John rolled gingerly onto his back, and let his knees fall wide, as if closing them were uncomfortable. He glanced wearily up at Sherlock.

“Well, at least you aren't talking like a cave man anymore,” said John, fondly. “That's an improvement.”

Sherlock lost a smile he hadn’t even realised he had on. “Was I really that bad? What did I say?” Curiosity needled him. If only he'd had a tape recorder! He’d make sure to prepare better next time.

“Oh, don't worry about it, no one composes sonnets during heat. I certainly wasn't much better.” John spoke slowly, as if even talking were exhausting. Then seeing that Sherlock was earnest, he went on: “You were mostly pretty incoherent. From what I could tell, you were very pleased with your own cock, and you liked telling me over and over that I was an omega is if I could have possibly forgotten the fact. Other than a strange bout of jealousy you seemed rather … happy… I suppose. Don't worry, you didn't do anything I didn't expect.”

“Jealousy?” Sherlock scoffed. Then he vaguely remembered sometime around the fourth go around feeling somewhat upset about something.

John rolled his eyes. “Okay, jealousy might be too strong a word for it, but you had some pretty choice words to say about some hypothetical person you thought was coming to steal me away from you. I thought it pretty funny, given that we were knotted together on the living room floor at the time. I told you that shy of surgery, no one was going to get between us. It seemed to reassure you.”

Living room? Sherlock's eyes widened. Oh yes, that was right. So that’s where all the dust had come from. Oh dear God, the rug. Mrs. Hudson still hadn’t forgiven him for shooting up and spray painting the walls, she wasn’t gong to be happy about a semen stained rug.

But then something else John had said finally registered (which in turn made Sherlock wonder about the lingering effects of heat on intelligence and how exactly that could be accurately measured.) Sherlock sat up and levelled a look of outrage at John.

“And yes, who exactly was it that you were waiting for when I happened to inconveniently come home? That beta, Sarah? Bet her knot is tiny.” Sherlock felt a resurgence of jealousy. What had John seen in that boring woman? She wasn’t even an Alpha. She was utterly in unsuitable to fill John’s needs.

“What? No I wasn’t waiting for Sarah. I told you this before.”

“You really want me to believe you planned to tough out heat without breeding or even making the least bit of accommodation for yourself.” Sherlock snorted with derision, as if the idea was too ludicrous to be contemplated. “I know that you have nothing to relieve yourself, no dildos or even anything that could be reasonably substituted for one. I checked your debit transactions from the train and you hadn’t bought any sexual aides in my absence. The obvious conclusion was that they wouldn’t be required. Who was it? He stiffed you anyway, so there’s no reason not to out him. I’ll find out regardless!”

But John seemed hung up on something other than outing his secret suitor. “You checked my debit transactions? You mean you knew I was in heat and you came home anyway?”

“I had to!” said Sherlock. “I could hardly allow you to make that mistake. If you let someone else breed you — we’d never be rid of him. No. If anyone was to breed you, the logical person would be me.”

“You are the logical person?” said John, shaking his exhaustion for a convincing look of annoyance. “Since when?”

“Oh come now,” said Sherlock. “We already spend all our time together. Everyone already assumes we are lovers. Genetically I’m superior to any of your other acquaintances. Richer and better connected as well. As Alpha’s go, I’m a catch. In fact the only reason I can think of that you’d consider someone else, is that you had some silly notion that I would be unwilling to do the deed, and I think we’ve put that idea to bed.” Repeatedly, Sherlock thought smugly.

“Silly —,” John repeated, dumbfounded. “The first thing you told me when we met was that you weren’t in the market! You said that before you even knew my name!”

Sherlock waved John’s outrage away. How was he supposed to have known back then what a perfect life-mate John would turn out to be. If anything it had been John’s insistent: “I don’t date Alphas” attitude that had put Sherlock off. In any case, it was pointless to place blame. There were more practical matters to attend to.

“We will have to start making some arrangements,” Sherlock said, changing the subject. “I don’t think this flat will be ultimately suitable, though we could at least temporarily turn your bedroom into a nursery, it won’t be able to accommodate more than two children. I judge you to have at least five or six productive heats left in you before your fertility dries up, and for that we’ll need a larger house.”


“And then there’s the whole bonding ceremony to consider. I hope you don’t mind tradition. Though I’m not personally adverse to elopement, it would disappoint Mummy if I denied her her chance at putting together a proper event and Mycroft will no doubt seize the opportunity to cement his political connections. Between the two of them, I doubt we’d be able to avoid less than three hundred attending the event. We shall have to warn your side of the family, unless they want to make the society pages in a less than flattering light.”

John’s eyes were bugging out rather comically. It was painfully obvious that he hadn’t considered any of these basic consequences. “You’ve thought it through have you? Bonding ceremonies, nursery.”

“I had over an hour on a train to think,” said Sherlock, shrugging. “Considerably more time than was necessary. I’m surprised you didn’t. It’s been over a week since you went off your pills.”

John’s eyes went even bigger. “What? I have not!”

“Oh please, John. It was hardly a secret. Your smell changed nearly a fortnight ago.”

“And you didn’t tell me?” asked John, his face going livid. “You knew?

Sherlock cocked his head. “Of course, I knew. I have a nose. And why should I tell you the obvious. Surely you hadn’t skipped that many pills by accident.”

“I hadn’t skipped any pills,” said John. “None. I thought they were working.”

For the first time Sherlock wished his mental faculties weren’t so fuzzy. “You mean, you didn’t deliberately let yourself go into heat?”

“Yes!” said John. “Exactly that! The pills didn’t work for some reason. I don’t know why. They just failed. The first notion I had that I was going into heat was when I went into heat!”

Sherlock felt a cold shudder going through his middle. “Are you saying, you didn’t want to be bred?”

“I was planning on toughing it out, Sherlock,” said John exasperated. “You have to believe it.”

Sherlock felt suddenly horrible and vulnerable. “Then — then I’ve done something terrible to you.”

John’s eyes softened. He patted his hand against Sherlock’s naked thigh. “No. No you haven’t. It’s just taken me a bit by surprise.”

Sherlock got up and stepped away, horror filling his middle. “It was all a mistake, you don’t want to be bonded or bred. Oh, why didn’t I think of that? And now there’s a child. What do you plan on doing? Can I at least convince you to keep the child long enough for it to be born. I could raise it myself.”

John’s brows peaked up. “Do you really want this child?” he asked. “I can understand why the sex would have been nice, but I don’t see you as itching to be a father.”

“Of course I want the child,” said Sherlock, wishing there was a way he could psychically impart the idea to John. “It will be half of you and half me, together in one being.”

John placed his hand over his belly, even though there was no way to feel the new life this early into its existence. “I never took you to be a romantic,” he said. “That’s reassuring.”

But Sherlock noticed he didn’t say weather he’d keep it or not.

They had the news running in the background while they cleaned up the mess. There was evidence in the kitchen that at some point one of them (Sherlock suspected it was John) had considered the idea of tea. The cups were still on the counter, teabags sitting dry within them. Sherlock turned the kettle on. Might as well finish the job. The living room was not as obvious a disgrace as they worried it’d be. John was able to find some cleaning foam and blot away the smelliest parts of the rug. He couldn’t do the same to the friction burns on his knees.

Both of them stopped when the chipper news anchor mentioned the words “Hormone Recall.”

“Testing shows that some lots of the omega hormone inhibitor have less than the full dose of the active drug nusynozole. Epcott Pharmaceuticals, a division of Granger Chemical, says that an unfortunate mix up in manufacturing has led to the substitution of an alpha hormone inhibitor, ametizine, in the place of the omega contraceptive in some of the pills. They warn that, although the ametizine is not toxic to omegas, it will not suppress omega pheromones, nor is it effective as a contraceptive or in the prevention of heat. Those who are taking the pills are urged to stop and seek emergency contraception and hormone suppression. Epcott Pharmaceuticals apologised for the the mix up, and urge anyone taking a nusynozole based inhibitor to return the the defective pills to their chemists and get a replacement pack of the drug. The pills involved go by the names Omegazole - N 20/30, Omegazole - Y 10/40, and Nusynozole 50 mg.”

John looked at Sherlock. “That would have been useful to know, three days ago.”

Sherlock nodded. “I used to work for them.”

Chapter Text

vii: “Do you really want this child?”

John began his morning routine like any other Monday, by slamming his palm down on the damn alarm. But that was the last normal thing about the day.

I’m pregnant, was his first thought. What the fuck.

That feeling followed him all the way down the stairs to the toilet. This can’t be real. He slammed the door shut a bit more forcefully than usual and startled himself. It didn’t matter. Sherlock was already awake and if Mrs. Hudson was bothered, she’d blame Sherlock.

He stared at the pack of hormone inhibiters on the lip of the sink as he brushed his teeth. Thursday’s pill still sat in it’s little individual bubble, mocking him. No point in taking them anymore. For that matter there had been no point in taking these particular pills even before he’d gotten pregnant. Bloody Alpha hormone inhibitors.

Maybe he could sneak them into Sherlock’s tea and calm him down a bit.

John pressed his lips together. No. Bad doctor. Maliciously drugging the father of his child because he woke up feeling pissy was petty, wrong, and utterly beneath him. This pregnancy wasn’t any more Sherlock’s fault than it was his own. He certainly could have done a lot more than happily wiggle his ass at Sherlock to stop it.

But it had felt so damn good, oh fuck it had, I didn’t want to stop Sherlock. Even now the memory of their heat-fueled intercourse made John pleasantly itchy. Being knotted together had been absolutely amazing. He was tempted to bang on Sherlock’s door and ask for a repeat, but without heat driving him into a frenzy, Sherlock didn’t seem that interested in sex at all.

John tossed the pills into the trash. It wasn’t Sherlock’s fault. He’d made his own bed, he was going to lie in it. And whatever happened, he wasn’t going to be a dick to Sherlock about it. He, of all people, was being mindblowingly supportive about the whole thing. Unbelievable. If anyone were to be freaking out, it should be him. After all, he’d had only five days to adjust to the idea of parenthood.

On the other hand, John should have been more than prepared by now. The expectation of pregnancy had loomed over him since he was fourteen, complete with all the dire predictions and expectations that came with it. He’d been warned repeatedly that once he became pregnant, all his options in life would close down. His priorities would change. His time would never be fully his own again. What he ate, what drugs he took, what he did for recreation would be dictated, at least in part, by this cell sized parasite.

He’d be altered in every way, physically, socially, emotionally, all through some vegetative process that he had absolutely no control whatsoever over. His body would undergo a strange and rather uncomfortable metamorphosis: his breasts would swell, his organs shift, his ligaments would soften, his hips spread. His hormones would spike thousands of times beyond normal levels, he’d even be subjected to a few hormones that he never had before. His sense of smell would change; the normal world would become a minefield of stomach turning stinks. His own smell would change, too: instead of the comforting fake beta fragrance, or the highly attractive pheromones of an unbonded omega, he’d now put out a scent that shouted Look at me, I’m Breeding! to everyone around. And if he hung around Sherlock enough (John thought longingly of that knot) their personal scent accents would begin to merge in a way that would make it blindingly obvious who he’d let knock him up.

Ironically enough, he was supposed to be happy about all of it. Somehow it was all supposed to be worth it. That’s what all the literature said. Romance books were full of omegas finding bliss in the protective arms of their Alphas and happily dreaming of all the children they’d birth. The telly was full of wise and loving omegas being the heart of the family that everyone adored and catered to. Pregnant omegas glowed with happiness in advertisements touting everything from sofas to toilet tissue.

John leaned over the sink and stared dourly at himself in the mirror. He looked anything but glowing. Still, there was hope. Omegas love motherhood. So sayeth everyone. And to a large degree it was true, John had seen it with his own eyes. Somehow, despite everything, far more often than it all worked out.

Contentment! Love! Fulfilment! Attention and admiration! Pampering! A life time of connectedness! Pride! A child to point to and say, “That unique being is mine. I did that.” He definitely saw the appeal.

I should either be deliriously happy or utterly miserable.

He was neither. He was… ambivalent.

I’m pregnant, and I feel nothing! What the hell is wrong with me?

He scowled at the toothpaste and thought fiercely at himself. Let’s be practical. This is my choice — what do I want to do about it? Do I go to work, ask for a script for an abortifacient — puke my guts up for two days, bleed for five more, and then go back to normal? Or do I do nothing, let nature take it’s course, and end up with a little person who never existed before, who wouldn’t exist without me, who will love me and be amazing and wonderful and utterly turn my life upside down?

What kind of person am I if I can’t decide something as basic as that?

There was no answer to that. And crap, now it was thirty-five after and if he didn’t hurry he was going to miss the damn bus.

He quickly showered with Confidence because it was what he was used to and, damn it, if he couldn’t use a little “confidence” right at the moment. As he dried he sniffed his skin, but didn’t smell anything beyond the soap. There really shouldn’t have been anything to smell yet. The zygote hadn’t even implanted, so he wouldn’t be putting out the more pungent pregnancy markers yet.

Hmmm. The surgery still thought he’d been out with the flu. Maybe, if he could keep cool and not sweat or get too stressed, the soap would cover his condition for another week or two. Give him some room to decide one way or another before his condition would be up for public debate. He’d consult Sherlock, but if anything were “not his area” it would be the conflicted feelings of newly pregnant omegas.

Speak of the devil, Sherlock was flopped on the couch when he walked through the living room on his way out the door. He sat up as John pulled his coat from the hook. “Where are you going?” he asked suspiciously.

“To work. Like I always do on Monday mornings.”

Sherlock stood up and grabbed his coat sleeve to help him slip it on. It was a nervous, awkward gesture that made getting the coat on take longer than it otherwise would have. Surprised, John just held still and gave Sherlock an odd look. “Um. Thanks?”

“Shouldn’t you be getting breakfast? You’re eating for two.”

“Not really hungry, no,” said John honestly, then seeing the barely contained panic in Sherlock’s eyes, he sighed. “The baby is barely a blastula tumbling down a fallopian tube. I won’t be feeding it at all for another few days. And even when I do, it could live the first month off a single crisp. ‘Eating for two’ would just make me fat.” He put a reassuring hand on Sherlock’s shoulder. “I’m fine. You don’t need to mother me.”

Sherlock nodded, his eyes vaguely staring across the room. “Yes, of course you are. What am I saying? You’re a doctor. Forgive me, but I haven’t actually done anything remotely like this before. Babies. Pregnancies. It’s … not really my area of expertise. I’m not sure what my role is.”

“I don’t think you really have one at this point,” said John, giving him another shoulder clap.

For some reason that didn’t seem to make Sherlock any happier. In fact his already pale face grew somewhat green. Sherlock swallowed obviously.

John frowned. “Do you really want this child?” If Sherlock didn’t want it, it could help John make up his own mind easier.

But Sherlock just locked eyes with him and said emphatically, “Yes!”

John nodded. See, he thought. That’s how I should feel. Why can’t I be sure like that? What the hell is wrong with me?

“Do you?” Sherlock inevitably asked.

John’s mouth went dry. “I — I think I’m still in shock a bit,” he said. “I need to think about it. I have to go, Sherlock.” With that he slipped out the door, ending the conversation.

No one at the surgery had a clue, thank god. In fact, they seemed to largely ignore him, once they made their obligatory inquiries about his health. Whatever magic had been in his scent was truly gone. Around lunch Sarah came into his office and sat on the edge of his desk. “Will you be able to take Thursday’s shift, Michaela had to cover for you, she needs the break.”

“Thursday.” John nodded. “Certainly.”

“Feeling better?” Sarah asked. “Lying around being sick is no fun.”

John flashed briefly to himself lying decadently in bed, with a sheet tangled around his ankles and Sherlock’s cock thrusting like a piston up his rear. “Sick is no fun at all,” he agreed. “True.”

“Take it easy,” said Sarah, but her attention was already on the next thing she had to do.

Who would cover for him when he went on leave to have the child? John mused, before the answer became depressingly obvious. He was a bloody locum hire. He was due to lose his position anyway in another month, when the beta doctor he was covering returned from, ironically enough, maternity leave. Sarah had suggested that he could stay on the rolls after Dr. Kush returned and pinch in as other doctors became sick or went on vacation. A weeks work here. A days there. “I’m sure Sherlock will keep you busy between times,” she’d said, disguising a bitter edge with a kind smile. This was after their disastrous attempt at dating.

No matter her assurances, though, John knew that she would think twice about calling him up if she realised he was pregnant. Though she’d seen his personnel records and knew better, Sarah seemed to forget that he was an omega and treated him like the beta he pretended to be. Once she found out he was pregnant, the long ingrained omega prejudices would kick in and she’d simply assume he’d prefer staying at home, taking care of an ever growing number of demanding children. And even if he were willing to work, there was the question of whether Sherlock would let him. Many alphas were paranoid about being seen as unable to support their family. John already had a reputation for putting Sherlock’s demands first. Between his army pension and Sherlock’s trust fund, he wouldn’t need the work.

No, John had no doubt whatsoever the moment his pregnancy snuck past his soap, he’d be out the surgery doors. The only question would be whether Sarah would replace him immediately, or wait until Dr. Kush came back before giving him the sack.

Of course, there was one way to stop that. A simple prescription. A stop at the chemists on the way home. A couple days off to let the worst of the cramps and vomiting run their course, and he’d be back to working by Friday. Lesson bloody learned.

Christ. What a mess. He was never going to let himself go into heat again. Never. The pleasure just wasn’t worth this.

After the last patient had left and he’d meticulously updated his files, John girded his loins, crossed his fingers, and headed off to get the damn ball moving. He hesitated outside Sarah’s closed office door, hand poised to knock. Someone had to write him that prescription and he’d have to tell Sarah what was really going on, anyway, to get approval for the time off. That’d be two weeks in a row when he’d messed up the schedule. Michaela was going to kill him.

But Sarah was a doctor and a friend. She’d understand.

His hand hovered inches from the wood. Frozen. Sweat trickled down his neck to his collar, and a feeling of nausea grew hot in his belly.

“Hey, John!”

John nearly jumped out of his skin. Spinning around he saw Candice, one of the nurses, shrugging on her coat. “Sarah’s already gone for the day. It’s Monday, mate.”

“Oh,” he said, recovering. “Oh yes, she — she leaves at three on Mondays, doesn’t she. I’ll just see her tomorrow then.” John felt a wave of relief so intense it nearly made him dizzy.

“Off you go, then,” said Candice, cheerfully. “Need to lock up.”

Not today, not today, not going to happen today. His mind raced giddily. I can put it off a bit longer. John nodded again, aware that he was smiling. Candice just grinned back ignorantly, and the two of them walked together through the front doors.

Candice stayed behind to lock the building, while John headed off to the bus stop alone. The cool late afternoon breeze swept through his clothes, evaporating the sweat on his body. The tingle in his chest increased with every step until he puffed out his cheeks, barely able to contain the sudden energy that flooded him. It was as if an enormous pressure had come off of him. Just the idea of delaying his choice even a little bit made him feel giddily happy.

He felt like he’d dodged a bullet or just missed getting hit by a car or something equally disastrous.

I was so scared! The realisation was so powerful that he literally staggered and had to stop. Yes, he was worried about all the trouble it would be to keep the baby, but he was utterly, soul deep, terrified of losing it. And thinking about taking that pill just sent chills down his back and spasms through his middle.

John stopped in the middle of the deserted street, still yards away from the bus stop and placed a hand over his belly. Everything around him seemed to brighten and sharpen as the conflict within him broke.

“I can’t do it,” he said to no one. Then he closed his eyes while his mind exploded with the revelation. “Nope. Can’t do it. Should be able to, but I can’t.” He breathed again. Deeply. It was as if a coil of tension that he’d been holding ever since he’d come out of heat had finally snapped, and it felt so good it ached.

“I guess you are going to be after all,” he said to the clump of cells, still free-floating inside him. To the parasite. My baby.

Then he wiped his mouth and the corners of his eyes and forced himself to keep walking to the stop, like normal.

Goddamn but this wasn’t a choice he ever wanted to make again. Next time I accidentally go into heat, it’s damn well going to be on purpose.

Twenty minutes later he found Sherlock lying in the exact same position he’d been that morning. “Have you even moved?” asked John as he pulled his coat off.

Sherlock opened an eye at him. “You look happy.”

John sucked in a deep breath, girded himself, then made his choice official. “I’ve decided to keep the baby.” Again he felt a rush of relief and even a bit of that happiness everyone said he’d feel. He waited expectantly for Sherlock’s joyous reaction.

But Sherlock let his eyes close again. “Yes, of course, I predicted you’d come around.”

Oh you wanker! John reached down and grabbed a pillow off his chair and readied his arm to throw it at him, but then he noticed the tense little smile on Sherlock’s face and the way he was tightly holding his elbows. He’s happy, he’s just trying to play it cool. John tossed the pillow anyway, but with less force than he originally planned to.

Sherlock sprang up like a broken spring. “What was that?”

“Arsehole,” said John, affectionately. “Go take a shower, I want to celebrate.”

Chapter Text

viii: I'd have John would have better sense

Sherlock knew Mycroft would figure it out quickly, the nosey parker, but he’d assumed that it would be after the fall out at John’s surgery rather than before. He calculating the likeliest outing to come from either the CCTV catching a suspicious altercation or some clue appearing in the surgery’s paperwork. Those two were Mycroft’s favourite ways of spying. Should they fail, eventually one of Mycroft’s minions would catch a whiff once the pregnancy markers and report it in. In Sherlock’s most optimistic scenario, Mycroft wouldn’t catch on until John scheduled his first prenatal exam, which would have given them a blessed eight weeks to be meddling-free.

Apparently not. Mycroft showed up on Wednesday, a week almost to the hour after Sherlock had entered John’s room and, swiftly after that, John.

There was no obvious trigger for Mycroft’s visit. John had gone to work that morning smelling of his beta body wash as usual. His natural omega scent was more subdued than it had been before he’d gone into heat, but not as suppressed as it had been when John was on the pill. If there were any pregnancy accents, they were so subtle and lost amid the other odours that even Sherlock couldn’t detect them. And if he couldn’t no one else would have been able to either.

Sherlock had just settled down to start one of his more noxious tests, attempting to make good use of the few free hours John was reliably away from the flat, when he heard (and decided to ignore) the slight rumble of a car’s tires pulling up to the curb outside.

Sherlock contemplated the jars of poisonous chemicals, fragile glass containers, and tippy bunsen burner scattered across the kitchen table. This was not a workable long-term solution. He need a real lab. While he trusted John to be able to avoid poisonous fumes during his pregnancy, their children would be a different matter. Perhaps with better lighting and a large enough fan, 201C could be modified into something workable. Research childproofing options, he added to his mental ledger.

The doorbell rang. Frowning, Sherlock glanced out of the living room window down at one of Mycroft’s dully unimaginative town cars. “No, no, no!” he muttered angrily to himself. So much for getting any work done during John’s surgery hours. Thankfully he hadn’t actually started the first experiment yet.

Leaving the prep for his experiment in a scattered disarray on the table, Sherlock raced to the living room and flung himself on the sofa. He let out a dramatic sigh and waited. Below him, he heard the scattered light, but uneven clicks of Mrs. Hudson’s orthopaedic shoes as she exited her own flat to open the door. And now heavier footsteps joined hers, trotting up the stairs with the sharp slap of smooth Italian leather soles on wood.

There was a measured rap at the door and then it opened. Sherlock didn’t bother to open his eyes. Looking at Mycroft wasn’t a treat and really wouldn’t tell him anything more than smell could.

Mycroft smelled concerned. He was also perfumed with a very expensive cologne designed to subtly mimic and enhance his alpha virility, as if Mycroft’s natural scent weren’t pungent enough to intimidate a crowd. I know what’s best — follow me, his scent practically screamed.

Sherlock casually tucked a hand under his head and scratched an unwashed armpit in answer.

“Yes, I’m sure you feel quite smug right now,” said Mycroft, breaking the silence. “How you managed to convince him to go along, I have no idea. I thought John would have better sense.”

Sherlock opened his eyes so he could roll them. “Thank you for the gracious support.”

“You should be thanking me, because that’s precisely what I’m offering. Gracious support. I don’t think you realise what you’ve got yourself into. Parenting isn’t some hobby that you can end once you grow bored with it. A child isn’t an experiment.” Mycroft was scowling at equipment set up on the table. “It’s a trust — a duty. A twenty-four seven responsibility. Taking care of an omega and his children will take up an ungodly amount of your time and energy and much of it won’t be fun.”

“Do you think I don’t know that?” asked Sherlock, bristling.

“No, I don’t think that you do.” Mycroft lifted one of the vials of powder Sherlock had laid out for his experiment. “This is poison Sherlock! It’s irresponsible. John can’t be around substances like this anymore.”

“I know that! Why do you think I waited for him to leave? It will all be cleaned up before he returns —“

“Not good enough,” said Mycroft. “What if he comes home early? What if you lose track of time?”

“I’d warn him at the door and I won’t.”

“You can’t say that, Sherlock. You can’t predict every mistake or circumstance, and the consequences would be devastating.” Mycroft put the poison down and wiped his hand on a handkerchief. “You aren’t thinking like a parent yet. I think it’s very possible you never will. You just don’t seem to have that ability to put someone else’s needs first.”

Sherlock was on his feet. He felt his face heating with anger. “So this is what you consider ‘gracious support’, you haranguing me about how I’m unfit to be a father. Are you going to convince John to abort the child? Is that what you want?”

“On the contrary,” said Mycroft. “That child will be my niece or nephew. If John is willing to continue his pregnancy, I will offer him any and all support I can. There is plenty of room in my country home to accommodate both John and the baby. My beta housekeepers could keep him comfortable, well cared for, and I know a service that provides excellent nannies to give him some relief from the toils of motherhood. I could even pass off his child as being mine, to alleviate any awkward social embarrassments.”

“And when he goes into heat again, I assume you’d provide that service as well?” asked Sherlock hotly.

“Don’t bring gross speculation into this. We must deal with the realities of the situation.”

“Which is that you want to steal John and my child away from me.”

“Which means I want to give you back the freedom to continue your hobbies unhindered by a mistake made under the influence of powerful hormones!” Mycroft folded his arms. “You can’t do this, Sherlock. It’s not in your temperament. And I can’t stand by and see you endanger that baby.”

Something in Sherlock snapped. “Out.”

“Sherlock,” crooned Mycroft, as he would a recalcitrant child. “Don’t be obstinate. You know I’m right.”

“John and I don’t need any of your ‘gracious support.’” Sherlock grabbed Mycroft’s shoulder and pushed him towards the door. “I’m perfectly capable of being an excellent father for my child. I can and will provide for both of them. They aren’t a hobby, but they are mine.

Mycroft balked a moment before taking the unsubtle hint to leave. “I will be watching Sherlock. If I see behaviour that makes me think you aren’t up to this, I will take action. One of us has to be the responsible adult.”

“If you want to play daddy, go make your own child,” snarled Sherlock, closing the door firmly on him, and then locking and putting his weight against it just to be sure. After a hesitation he heard Mycroft’s feet slapping briskly down the stairs.

Sherlock walked to the kitchen and stared down at the equipment, frowning. He took in a deep breath, let it go, then began picking it up and putting the various vials, poles and clamps into their respective storage boxes. On second thought, it was too dangerous to do this particular experiment near where John prepared and ate food. While it was highly unlikely John and the baby would be exposed, Sherlock couldn’t foresee every contingency. It would be best to wait until he’d set up a separate lab.

This did not mean that Mycroft was right. He was simply moving up the timeline on what he’d already planned. Sherlock could be a good parent, damn it.

Mrs. Hudson fussed about 221c, showing off all the features that Sherlock already knew about. He’d have dearly liked to tell her to bugger off (nicely, of course) but the spectre of the graffitied wall still lingered, and he wasn’t sure that she’d consent to putting another of her flats in his hands if he wasn’t respectful. So, best behaviour it was.

“I was hoping you’d decide to take this flat as well,” she said as she opened a cupboard. “As you know, I haven’t had much luck finding a tenant. They look and then walk away. Not that I blame them, it’s just so dark and damp, but leaving it empty has been putting a pinch on my pocketbook.”

“I may need to make some modifications,” said Sherlock, touching the peeling wall paper. “Would that be a problem?”

Mrs. Hudson paused a shaky moment. “So long as you do them with your own money, dear. I need the income, not the expense.”

“Absolutely, it will be my own money.”

“And Sherlock — do be careful about fire hazards, I live right upstairs!”

“Of course.”

“Noxious fumes as well. I like to keep my window open in the summer. Let in the breeze.”

“Absolutely, I will make sure all noxious fumes and flames safely dealt with.”

She nodded. “I’ll let you look the place over at your leisure then.” She turned and headed towards the door.

Thank goodness, finally! Oh but what now? he thought, as she stopped and turned primly on one heel to face him.

Her cheeks flushed and her eyes demurely lowered. “I’ve been meaning to tell you, ‘congratulations.’” Sherlock stiffened with surprise. “I just didn’t really know when the right time would be. I know the two of you haven’t announced anything yet, but since you are already making arrangements…”

Sherlock looked her over, trying to regain his composure. “Thank you. Did John say anything?”

“Well,” she said sheepishly, “He didn’t need to. I maybe getting up in years, but I still know that smell. Also the walls aren’t as thick as you might think. You might want to keep that in mind in the future.” She made a face. “But I am glad that it was you who came to him. For a while there I worried it might be that mousy doctor John seemed so enamoured of. Did he get over her? I haven’t seen her around for a few weeks.”

“He’s over her now,” said Sherlock, tightly.

“Well, yes, he’d have to be would he. Will there be a bonding ceremony, or are you going with this new bohemian fashion and simply shacking up?”

“Bonding ceremony — eventually. Listen, Mrs. Hudson,” said Sherlock awkwardly. “We haven’t formally announced it yet. I’d appreciate it if you hold off on the gossip with Mrs. Turner until John’s had a chance to tell those who he wants to first.”

“Of course!” said Mrs. Hudson, touching her chest. “Of course. I wouldn’t tell a soul.”

“Not even Mycroft?” He said a bit harsher than he should have. Had she been the reason Mycroft had turned up?

But Mrs. Hudson just rolled her eyes and clucked her tongue. “Especially not Mycroft. Your brother is too far up into everyone else’s business as it is. But you will let me start knitting the blanket won’t you? As long as I keep it hidden from guests until John has had his chance to put together an announcement? It’s the fingers, you see. Arthritis. If I’m to finish by the time of his shower, I need to start right away.”

“Yes, of course. Blanket — fine.”

“Oh, Sherlock,” gushed Mrs. Hudson, crossing the room to give him an unexpected and not entirely welcome hug. She ignored his stiffening. “I’m so proud of you. You two are so perfect together, I knew it from the start. Your children will be bright and lovely. And you are going to be wonderful father, I’m sure of it.”

Sherlock stared at her with surprise. “Do you really? Think I’d be a good father?”

“I’m sure you will be excellent at anything you set your mind to,” Mrs. Hudson said fondly.

“That’s… refreshing to know,” said Sherlock. “If unexpected. I think you might be in the minority, though.”

“Don’t you go listening to the naysayers. They don’t know you.” Mrs. Hudson poked his shoulder annoyingly to emphasise her point. “I’m sure they will get on your case for being irresponsible and neglectful. But that was your past. You didn’t have need to be careful then.

“Listen. My niece, Annika, she used to be like you. She was a real a party animal. Couldn’t hold down a job. New boyfriend every week. Oh, you should have heard her mother complain! But after she fathered her first child, it was like night and day. She pulled her act together. Straightened right up and got herself a corporate job, high paying as befits a proper alpha with a family. You’d never have known what a wild child she used to be. Sometimes I have to tell her to lighten up a bit with her own children.” Mrs. Hudson nodded gravely.

Sherlock tried to keep a happy face, but inside he wondered. Corporate job? Good god, will I become boring?

Mrs. Hudson patted his arm again. “You’ll be fine, Sherlock. I have endless faith in you!” She headed to the door once more.

Good thing one of us has, Sherlock thought, then went back to sizing the cupboards.

Because unwelcome things often come in threes, Sherlock got a text in the middle of moving and setting up his new lab. He pulled out the phone. Lestrade.

Meet me at Terry’s Pub
Need to talk

Not a case. Lestrade always showed up in person when he had a case. He didn’t trust that phone messages might be intercepted and he was correct on that score. Mycroft did so much of his spying though listening in on people’s mobiles. The only other obvious reason he’d want to talk was if he’d somehow learned about the pregnancy.

Perhaps John had told Lestrade. It wasn’t inconceivable. Lestrade was one of the few acquaintances John had who had been through pregnancy. But that made the “need to talk” portion even more worrisome. He texted back an ETA and went back upstairs to grab his coat.

Just in case John got home before he’d returned from this little impromptu meeting, Sherlock sent a message informing him of his whereabouts. It wasn’t until he was out the door and half way down the street that he realised that it wouldn’t have occurred to him to do something so utterly domestic a week ago. Was this part of the change that Mrs. Hudson so direly predicted?

Nonetheless, he was glad he’d done it. The thought of even giving the appearance of abandoning John made Sherlock feel paranoid and anxious. Perhaps this was something hormonal in nature. After all, they hadn’t mated since John’s heat. They’d barely even touched. Sherlock’s scent had washed off of John days ago, leaving him appearing terribly unclaimed. An unbonded pregnant omega had a rather galvanising effect on people: betas tended to grow pushy and coddling, rival alphas saw it as an opening to make a claim. Add to that Mycroft’s earlier threat to steal John away and make him his. Sherlock’s gorge rose.

Mental note: seduce John tonight. Also find some way to impregnate his clothes with my scent. One can’t be too careful.

Lestrade was waiting for him at the bar. The pub was dark and rather empty as the lunch crowd was long gone and the after-work one hadn’t yet arrived. Lestrade sipped at a glass of beer and waved him over to sit in the stool next to him. “Congratulations,” he said as Sherlock took up a perch. “Can I buy you a beer?”

“I prefer wine,” said Sherlock. “Guaurd Larose Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 if you have it,” he said to the bartender.

“I have a Chateau de Birot,” said the bartender, dryly. “2010.”

“Fine, I suppose.” Sherlock sighed.

Lestrade had an oddly scrunched expression. It was the one he reserved for situations he found somewhat embarrassing. It was unlikely that John would leave him in such a state.

“Ah,” said Sherlock. “I should have guessed. Mycroft. He wants you to play mouthpiece.”

“He’s worried about you. And John.” Lestrade hunched forward apologetically.

“Is he paying you?”

Lestrade hesitated. His eyes darted to the left. No. “Yes.”

“Good,” said Sherlock, firmly, even though he knew Lestrade had lied. “Don’t make me lose respect for you — always make him pay. The last thing that prig needs is you doing his dirty work for free. You give into his unreasonable demands far to easily as it is.”

Lestrade sighed. “I’m worried about you, too.”

“Don’t be. I’ve the situation well in hand.” The bartender placed his wine glass in front of him. The vintage was… acceptable.

“You know I have a child, a son. He’s twenty-two now.”

“And that gives you the expertise to tell me I’ll be a terrible parent, I suppose.”

Lestrade clicked his tongue. “Don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t know if you’ll be a bad parent or not. You might turn out to be a great parent. Listen, I don’t know how much you know about my past—”

“Bored already,” interrupted Sherlock. “Do get to the point.” Lestrade was giving him the look. “Oh very well, I know you have a child. His photograph is prominent in your office. However his father has been out of the picture for a long time, hence no photograph of him.”

“Her,” said Lestrade.

“Fifty-fifty,” dismissed Sherlock. “She was an alpha, of course. Your condition makes you very attractive to my gender. However, your insistence on disguising your scent with body wash leads me to believe you find that attraction more a draw-back than an asset. I conclude that you believe your scent lead you to into a disastrous relationship with an inappropriate mate. So far so good.”

Lestrade gave a nod that was more acknowledgement than agreement.

Sherlock went on: “You had your child at the tender age of eighteen. Almost certainly, he was an accident caused by a combination of a strong libido and a youthful beta’s magical belief in infinite infertility and consequence free sex. You let her top you too often over a too short a period of time (my guess —winter holidays) and you didn’t douche properly afterward. Repeated, prolonged exposure of your cervix to an alpha’s virile semen triggered your body go into it’s first and only heat. Young and stupid, the two of you decided, ‘what the hell’ and mated anyway. Nine months later your child was born.”

Lestrade tilted his head. Still, on track, Sherlock thought. Here on, he was wandering out into educated speculation.

“Except, trouble in paradise, it turns out that your Alpha girlfriend wasn’t quite as into you as you had thought. Perhaps you weren’t as good a fuck after you were saddled with a child. Perhaps she had social aspirations and a common beta didn’t fit with them. In any case, the relationship lasted just long enough for you to develop a lasting bitterness and disillusionment towards motherhood. You never gave your alpha another child. Eventually the two of you broke up, leaving a bad taste in your mouth that lasts to today. Hence, choosing a career that easily takes up all your hours and leaves you little time to worry about your lack of long term relationships.” Sherlock took a swig. “And now you are here to tell me how if you could have gone back in time, you would have kept your legs closed.”

Lestrade said nothing, though now he had an insulted look.

“Well, how did I do?”

“Terrible, actually,” said Lestrade. “Completely off the mark.”

“Really?” Sherlock was appalled. Was fatherhood already starting to affect his brains?

“I love my son and would go through it all again to have him. But he was the only good thing that came out of that relationship. My career is not an excuse to avoid relationships. I simply haven’t met anyone I want to have a relationship with yet.”

Sherlock clucked his tongue. Denial, then.

“I asked you here to warn your that it isn’t easy. Family. You can’t just assume it will all work out for the best. You have to work to make sure it does. And it’s more that just a matter of good parenting. It’s being a good spouse as well.”

“Oh really —“

“My turn,” interrupted Lestrade. “What Lydia and I did was irresponsible. We didn’t know each other well enough to jump into such a deep commitment. Nonetheless, we genuinely thought that we could make a solid go of it. After I got pregnant, we bonded formally, we made our plans and lived up to our parenting responsibilities just fine. But it hurt us as a couple. There were a lot of painful sacrifices. I dropped out of collage and took a night job. She stayed in school, taking as many classes as she could to rush through her degree. And in between we both took care of Michael. There was no time for us anymore. We were exhausted all the time. Our schedules wouldn’t let us sleep together and neither of us had the energy to be romantic. But we both hoped that when Lydia got her degree she’d find a job that would allow me to quit and then we could get back on track together again. We both wanted to continue building our family as soon as things settled down.

“Well, she did graduate, but by then it had been years since we’d really been anything but roommates and parents. As soon as she got a job, she disappeared into the corporate world, and I was left raising Michael by myself.”

“She left you?”

“She fell in love with an omega. The son of a client. I was blindsided. She broke our bond, rebonded to Henry and began her family with him. He got to live my dreams.”

“And Michael?”

“Going into law enforcement just took up so much of my time, it made sense to let him live with Lydia and her family. I saw him as often as I could, but in the end I got the short end of the stick across the board.” Lestrade rubbed his head. “What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard. The sacrifices you make for a child can end up pulling you apart as much as it might bring you together. You can’t expect the baby to be the glue that keeps you and John together. So if that’s why you got him pregnant…”

“It wasn’t.”

Lestrade hesitated. “Well good. But are you willing to put the work into this? Not just into the baby, but into him as well?”

“I’m not eighteen. I’m not poor. And I am genuinely in love with John and not just with the enjoyment of the sexual act. I do want this child. No one seems to believe me when I say that, but I do. Who better to teach all my skills to?” There was more to the desire to have a child than that. The real longing was difficult to articulate. But the apprentice idea seemed logical and Lestrade fell for it.

“Well, I do hope you are patient,” said Lestrade, after finishing his beer. “Maybe very patient. Michael took after Lydia. He’s getting his business degree. Wants to go into advertising. So you have to accept this might not be a mini-you as much as it’s a mini-him.”

“If my child takes after John,” Sherlock began, then paused as the idea of a little John following adoringly after him made him smile brightly. “If that happens, that would be wonderful.”

Chapter Text

xi. Here’s to an exciting partnership

It’s funny how old scars can still hurt, Greg Lestrade thought, as he slouched over his favourite seat at the bar in a pub down the street from the MET. Here it was, four days after spilling his guts to Sherlock and fifteen years after he dropped Michael off to live with Lydia, and he was on the edge of tears with fury. It astounded him how angry he was at her for stringing his heart along for six exhausting years then cutting him off as soon as a real omega came along. She hadn’t even the grace to be contrite. She just treated their broken bond like it had never meant anything in the first place. All that effort, all that lost opportunity, all the scrimping and denying and waiting for the day, always just a few months in the future, when there’d be enough money for them to finally be happy. All for nothing. Well, no. It turned out fine for Lydia.

He was even more angry at himself for giving in to common sense and letting Michael go. It had felt like cutting out his guts, but with Michael gone, he could fill the role of proper beta for once: work all day and party all night. No responsibility for anything but himself. He should have been happy with the pressure gone, but, Christ, he’d missed the scamp so damn much. The tiny flat seemed so quiet and empty. No cereal bowls left on the table in the morning. No pieces of cardboard or shredded paper left over from Michael’s “inventions” strewn across the rug. No cartoons on the telly. Nothing to come home to, really.

He wished he’d been like Sherlock — telling the world to fuck off with their preconceived notions of what he should want.

Ah, Goddamn it.

Selfish. It would have been selfish. Michael had been happy with Lydia and his half siblings. Henry treated Michael as his own. Greg had done his best to make sure his two weeks a year and every other holiday with his son were as wonderful as possible, but Michael had always been happy to go back “home” afterwards. Nothing hurt worse than hearing Michael slip up and call Henry “mum.”

Life wasn’t bloody fair. Not to betas, at least. Greg lifted up his glass of whiskey and toasted nothing. Here’s to hoping Sherlock will make a better go of it than I did. The swallow burned his throat nicely.

Someone familiar settled into the chair next to him. He sniffed in automatically, then jumped as recognition hit. Mycroft.

He looked over and saw Sherlock’s annoying brother, acting like the goddamn epitome of alphadom. Christ, look at him: the suit, the haircut, the handsome features, the incredible smell. Greg was sure that some of that intense charisma came straight from a bottle. No one smelled that good naturally, and he’d know. Confidence.

And for what? There Mycroft sat, smelling like sex on a platter, yet he didn’t have even a trace of bonding accents on him, not even the light, temporary ones of a quick, casual fuck. Bloody cunt-tease. What’s he want this time?

“Good afternoon, Greg,” said Mycroft breaking the silence. “I called your office, but they said you’d left for the day.”

Piss off, Greg wanted to say, but his nose just wouldn’t let him. The instinctive desire for a beta to be of use and follow an alpha reared it’s inconvenient head. Might as well give in, he thought ruefully, I’m going to anyway. I always do.

“What can I do for you this time, Mycroft?” Greg swivelled on his chair to face the man.

Mycroft raised a concerned brow. His eyes ran up and down Greg’s body, making him feel a painful shiver of desire. Definitely some pheromone in that cologne, Greg decided.

“John’s making an announcement next Saturday,” Mycroft said, turning towards the bartender and raising a finger. “He and Sherlock plan on going ahead with this child.”

“Listen, I did what I could,” said Greg, “Don’t blame me. Sherlock’s stubborn. But you know what, I wish him luck. I wish I had his guts.”

“Oh, I know you did your best,” said Mycroft, flashing that winning smile.

Greg hated how much the attention made him melt. He was like a lovesick puppy around the man. Mycroft only looked him up when he wanted something, so why did being used feel so damn good?

“I’m actually happy for Sherlock,” Mycroft went on. “This could be a very good thing for him.”

“So what do you need me for this time?” asked Greg. Might as well cut to the chase.

Mycroft was about to say something when the bartender finally got around to taking his order. By the time Mycroft had his brandy and utterly dazzled the poor young bartender with his smell and demeanour, he seemed to have forgotten Greg’s question.

“Are you okay?” Mycroft asked. “I really hadn’t intended on stirring up bad memories last visit. I’m so sorry. I hope you weren’t planning on drinking yourself sick over it.”

Greg jolted in his seat. How could he possibly know what I was sulking about? — Pssht, what am I thinking. He’s Mycroft Holmes. Practically a god. Greg huffed out a laugh between clenched teeth. “It’s not like I ever forgot them.”

“Do want to talk about it?”

“As if there is anything you don’t already know.”

Mycroft lifted a brow. “I’m always happy to hear more.” He sipped his drink.

“Yeah. Missing the point,” said Greg. He carded his splayed fingers through his short ruff of hair. “You shouldn’t pry into people’s thoughts. It’s creepy. The way you know so much about me, about everyone, what we did in the past, what we are thinking of doing in the future — how are we to cope with that? It’s unfair. We know almost nothing about you.”

“You know a great deal about me,” Mycroft objected. “You’ve been to my office, we’ve shared meals, conversations, you’ve even been to my flat on more than one occasion. I dare say an unobservant person might even think were were dating.” There was teasing mischief in his eyes, but it hit a little too close to home for Greg to smile. Mycroft knew Greg was attracted to him, he didn’t have to be mean about it.

“Since we aren’t,” said Greg, a little louder than he wanted, “I’ll repeat myself. What do you want?”

“Ah yes. We’ve known each other for oh, five years now, but we rarely ever converse unless we are doing favours for each other. Considering that we’ll be spending a great deal of time together soon, it seemed prudent to reconnect with you on a more personal level.”

Greg couldn’t help but laugh at the stilted proposal. “Prudent that we reconnect? You mean you want to hang out and see if we can stand each other? Tell me you don’t talk to your mates that way.”

Mycroft actually looked a bit embarrassed and vulnerable. For just a second, Greg thought he glimpsed a human being behind the facade. “As you might have guessed, a certain amount of social awkwardness runs in my family. I hope you don’t mind. It doesn’t seem get between you and Sherlock.”

“Nah, I’m fine with it,” said Greg, feeling somewhat ashamed at having hurt Mycroft’s feelings. He turning back to his drink. “Sure. Let’s reconnect, probably better for me than just getting pissed and chewing my guts out over over ancient history. Here’s to healthy conversation.” He held up his half-full drink and Mycroft touched it with his. Glass clinked. They both drank.

“So, what makes you think we are going to spending time together?” Greg asked, once the burn faded.

“Oh, well, you are doubtless going to be called upon to be Sherlock’s best man at the bonding ceremony.”

“Doubtless,” agreed Greg, not really believing it. “They are going to have a ceremony, eh. Funny, seems a bit old fashioned and stuffy for Sherlock. I’d think he’d be more partial to elopement. Or just shacking up.”

“Oh he would, no doubt, but Mummy wouldn’t hear of it. He’ll suffer through and you are by far the closest thing he has to a friend.”

“Except John,” said Greg.

“Yes, but John can’t be both bride and best man. He’ll have enough on his plate.”

“Bride,” repeated Greg, the old fashioned term sounding odd on his lips. When he’d bonded with Lydia, he’d been pregnant enough to fill the role of bride, but they’d both agreed to use the more breeding neutral term ‘partner’. Bride made John sound like one of those medieval omegas, proving his fertility to the village before he won the right to bond with the lord of the manner. “So this is going to be one of those ceremonies. Is John going to wear green and walk on flowers and look like bloody sacrifice to the gods of childbearing?”

“If I have to wrest his arm behind his back,” said Mycroft without any trace of joviality. “If he didn’t want to put up with the excessive trappings of a society bonding, he should have chosen someone else to breed with.”

“And you? What’s your role in all this?”

“I’ll be a groomsman, I’m sure, but more than that, I’ll be largely funding the affair. We will have to coordinate. There will be matters of society and propriety that you couldn’t be expected to know and Sherlock doubtless would rather forget. One can’t invite a Lord to a seedy pub for a bachelor’s party, for example. The paparazzi would ruin everything.”

“A Lord,” said Greg, aghast.

“Lord Devonshire,” said Mycroft. “Utter prat, but he’s family, we daren’t leave him out. We shall simply have to make sure that the venue is large enough and entertaining enough to keep him and Sherlock largely apart. I’m thinking a buffer of twenty or thirty people, a private club, and some discrete entertainers. Nothing too tawdry. Perhaps fan dancers.”

“Oh god,” said Greg, covering his face with his hand. “Sherlock is going to loathe this.”

“Absolutely,” said Mycroft smugly. “But he asked for it. He spent years ignoring his social duties and flipping off his betters. They will have their revenge. He’ll just have to grit his teeth through this.”

Greg laughed more out of surprise than humour. What the hell had just happened? Ever elusive Mycroft was actually sitting next to him, having a genuine conversation and acting for all the world like he liked Greg. He was half tempted to pinch himself to wake up, but he didn’t want to break the spell. You know, he thought wryly to himself. This is exactly how I got in trouble with Lydia.

Mycroft continued on, exuding that incredible magnetism and making suggestions meticulously designed to piss Sherlock off. Despite feeling terribly disloyal, Greg couldn’t stop laughing. He even threw in a suggestion or two himself: “Do you think he’d like roses on the tables? Delicate pink ones in fancy crystal flutes? Or perhaps vases in the shape of kittens?”

“I know I would,” Mycroft deadpanned. “With ribbons embroidered with precious little sayings.”

“’To love and obey,’” suggested Greg. He couldn’t imagine Sherlock obeying anyone. He could barely imagine him loving someone.

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” responded Mycroft. “Sherlock always responds so vigorously to sentimental cliches.”

“I can see this party will be a huge success already,” said Greg.

“Here’s to an exciting partnership.” They clinked their glasses together.

“Look at us,” sighed Greg. “John hasn’t even announced yet and here we are micromanaging his bonding ceremony. Doesn’t this strike you as the least bit wrong?

“It’s horribly presumptive,” Mycroft agreed, downing the rest of his glass and signalling for a refill. “But endlessly entertaining.”

“Yeah,” agreed Greg. “True.”

“If nothing else, the affair will be memorable,” said Mycroft, taking a fresh glass from the bartender.

“But not too memorable,” suggested Greg. “I’d hate to have to interrupt the nuptials to arrest someone.”

“That would be simply awful,” Mycroft agreed amicably. “Scandal of the year. Think of all the people I’d have to bribe to make the charges disappear.” Greg checked his face and his smell before reassuring himself that Mycroft was joking.

Mycroft was on his forth drink and Greg on his sixth. The foul, depressed mood Greg had had when he’d walked into the bar had long since dissipated into a happy blur of humour and savoury pheromones. Greg knew he was well past tipsy and drunk was a dangerous thing to be around Mycroft. Still, how could anyone who smelled that strong and capable possibly let Greg down. The man could conquer countries with that smell.

“What is it you are wearing,” Greg asked, letting the curiosity get the better of his tact. “It’s pretty incredible.”

Mycroft laughed. “It’s called Sûr de Réussir, but I just call it ‘conceited’. It’s dreadfully expensive, but when one’s as socially handicapped as I am, one has to compensate somehow.”

“I think maybe you’ve overcompensated,” said Greg. “But I’m one to talk. I slather on Confidence every morning.”

“Ah, so that’s how you got that undertone of omega.”

“No,” said Greg, taking too large a swallow and coughing. When he got ahold of himself again, he shook his head. “No, that’s my own scent peeking through, believe it or not.”

“You’re an omega? That’s not possible,” said Mycroft frowning. Greg wondered again just how thoroughly Mycroft had had him researched. He’d have thought Mycroft would have his full medical records in a file somewhere in his office, but maybe not.

“Nope. Not an omega. Just a really pathetic excuse for a beta with a gene that didn’t get turned off. You should smell me when I don’t wear the perfume. I’m really confusing.”

“I’d really like to,” said Mycroft, which sounded suspiciously like a come on. Greg frowned. Mycroft cleared his voice. “Excuse me. Socially inept, remember. I really don’t see why you should disguise your smell. It seems to me that what you are naturally gifted with would be many times more interesting than what comes mass produced out of a bottle.”

“Probably so,” said Greg, “But I went down that path once. It wasn’t pretty. Listen, I don’t want you distracted by my scent,” not the way I’m distracted by yours. “If we’ll be working together that could get awkward.”

Mycroft nodded, though he looked slightly lost. “Yes, you are probably right. Though, I don’t want you to feel you need to hide your true self from me, or that I’d think less of you simply because you don’t fit the mould. In any case, I think we both know that would be futile. I have my ways of finding things out.”

“You are being creepy again, Mycroft,” Greg warned.

Mycroft laughed. But then the conversation moved on again.

That should have ended the matter of the body wash there, but for some reason the conversation nagged at Greg. Why was it that Mycroft could happily go around smelling as enticing as he did without even a shred of embarrassment or self consciousness, while Greg had to dull his normal scent behind a boringly inoffensive perfume? Maybe Sherlock was right. He wasn’t socially inept, but maybe he’d let himself become socially paralysed. Maybe he was hiding himself away, lest he ever have to deal with relationships again. If that were the case, he could lay the fault squarely back on his first failed bonding. It angered him to think that Lydia still had the power to screw over his life.

The next morning Greg stood in the shower, hot water beating against his back, with a poof in one hand and the nearly empty blue bottle of Confidence in the other. Why am I doing this? Do I really want this? Or is it just habit?

He used his thumb to snap the lid back down on the blue bottle. Pulling back the curtain, he spied some scentless hand soap within reach on the sink vanity. It didn’t foam up the same, but it cleaned away the oil and grime fine. It was nice actually. Fresh and not cloying.

For the first time in over a decade he emerged from the shower without the smell of Confidence overpowering the room.

One can never really properly smell oneself, but as Greg dried himself off, he found he could sense the difference. Beta was still his predominant smell, barely, but it was so very different from the commanding pungency he was used to. It smelled vulnerable. Tentative. Fragile. And then there was the omega smell, stronger than just a bottled cosmetic accent. It suggested sexuality and attractiveness and a need to be coddled and taken care of.

I smell beautiful. It felt conceited to admit it. Greg’s chest tightened with embarrassment, as if by going natural, he were trying to pull off an attention whoring trick. He wasn’t an omega after all. He didn’t even want to be one of that coveted gender. The last thing he needed as a detective inspector was to smell like a bloody escort.

Greg felt an urge to step back into the shower to put his familiar mask on, but he stopped himself. This is me. This is my natural scent. I’ve a right to smell like this, people’s expectations be damned.

If Sherlock could embrace being a bloody father, Greg could come to terms with this.

With effort of will, Greg went through the motions of getting dressed and ready for the day. Sure the people at the MET would be surprised, but no more so than if he’d decided to change his hair style, or developed a different taste in clothing. They’d get over it.

I’ll try it for a week, he thought. If it really is a problem, I can always just shower my old scent back on, simple as that. But if it turns out fine… Greg inspected his cheeks for wayward stubble in the hall mirror. Well, that will save me the expense of buying more of that expensive perfumed crap for one thing.

He opened the door and stepped out into the street feeling lighter than he had for years.