On any given day, Sherlock might come out of the bathroom smelling like an Alpha on the hunt (Alpha #8) or an Omega in heat (Omega #9), a Beta brooding (Beta #3), or like no gender at all. The last one was his actual scent, which wasn't so much scentless as confusing. At least in an adult.
He was wearing Alpha #5 (civit with a touch of musk ox) when he met John.
He’d been looking into a microscope at a blood sample when they came into the room. Solid steady Beta-androstenol centre notes with a base note of cedar and a high note of lavender, or rather Stamford specifically. No one person smelled exactly the same. While John, Sherlock looked up with interest, because while he had the typical centre note Alpha-androstenone musk, his scent was a complex tangle of ambergris, vanilla, leather and tobacco. He breathed in and borrowed the man’s phone and told him who he was based on scent and words and tan and posture as a hello.
He said, "There’s a flat that I’m interested in that will be perfect." Because it was important to get this out of the way now, he said, "I sometimes smoke. I’m quitting tomorrow. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally (Sherlock smiled and didn't say that he meant constantly) do experiments. I play violin at all hours. I get in the dumps at times, and don't open my mouth for days on end." Here he paused as the flicker of bleak dark sunless days and steel wool air and the sameness of bored nothing that lapped at the edges of him, but he shook it off. For a moment, he thought he saw an echo of it (Afghanistan, not Iraq) in the edges of John's eyes. The echo chased the memory away into its box. "Just let me alone, and I'll soon be right." He looked down into the microscope where he was saving or condemning a man's life on a slide. "And I’m an Unpresented."
He didn't look up. There would be no way to hide it long term and for all his applied scents, Sherlock had no interest in being other than what he was. And really, he had no idea what all the fuss was about anyway. His body was just transport. And how was it anyone's business. And if this ex-army, no doubt decorated doctor with his take charge Alpha notes and his oh-so psychosomatic limp and the weathered eyes wanted to judge him, well, then he could just…
"I have no idea how you know I'm looking for a place to live, or any of it, but," John laughed. "I've got a hell of a temper and you should know that I have bad dreams. Nerves." He licked his lips and Sherlock watched the quick pink dart movement. "I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours. And I hate doing the cleaning." His lips wrung out a quick smile. "I hope you're not a neat freak."
Sherlock looked at the man laughing at him. Laughing at himself. He was the first doctor that Sherlock had met who didn't immediately want to examine his thyroid or take a DNA sample or babble about Unpresented gender only presenting in about 1% of the population or, many things that Sherlock had deleted over the years.
Sherlock was about to reply when Molly came back.
She'd wiped off the "Omega Passion’s Flush" lipstick that she'd applied when he'd arrived. She'd left a slight smudge on her lower lip that tinted the skin below red. It was Sherlock’s own fault for always wearing Alpha #5 when he went to the lab, but he got so much better parts for experimentation when he did. He wondered if he should add a base note of Beta to the blend, but no. This scent was for science.
Typical prey behaviour. Her eyes darted to Stamford and the unknown Alpha in the room. She hesitated in the door. Beta Molly with her nervous daisy high notes. Then something interesting happened. John smiled and made her laugh at a joke about some teaching professor they all knew at Barts, and she nattered about nothing. Then the truly strange thing, John tugged Sherlock into the conversation, which never happened.
Most people were afraid that he’d strafe conversations into a smouldering remnant of a burnt out field. Father had set fire to a field the day he left, and then there was Mother and "The Incident," so Sherlock certainly understood the fear. Mycroft certainly took care to control all conversations. Not that he succeeded. Smug bastard.
Most people didn't look up at him so completely unafraid and laugh and give him the bowfinger when he was a bit not good.
He found himself winking at John, who’d laughed at himself. They met at the flat and it was wonderful to see him walking and touching Sherlock’s things. Traces of the oils on his skin making warm scent marks on Sherlock’s books and belongings. The notes of his scent changing the blend of the flat. Tobacco. The faintest base note of tobacco. Sherlock inhaled deeply and held the scent captive for a moment before he let it go.
The skull grinned down at John and it felt right. John had seen so much violence. He wanted to see more.
Sherlock’s heart beat double time as they came to the abandoned house where the third not-suicide (morons) had been found. He wasn’t sure why until Donovan, thick with the scent of coming off her heat, greeted him with her standard, "Get lost, Freak."
Until John said, "Excuse me," and gave her a look that if she hadn’t destroyed her brain cells shagging a bonded Alpha would have caused her to drop dead. Sherlock carefully recorded that look in a special box in his memory palace that he labelled "John".
He was a self-diagnosed sociopath. There were many (according to a 1954 article in "Genetics Today") cases of Unpresented sociopaths. So, he didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that he was in love. He couldn’t make bricks without straw after all.
They went up the winding old stairs to look at the body of the serially unfaithful Omega with her pink suit and broken fingernails and frangipani high notes being overtaken by defecation and decay. Her daughter's name (One daughter for a mature Omega. Interesting) scratched into the old floorboards. Sherlock saw all the perfectly obvious if you were looking things about her. John kept saying "Amazing," and "Brilliant," and he said it out loud. He said it over and over like faint touches down the inside of Sherlock’s ears and into the folds of his brain. Each verbal caress tingled and triggered a release of dopamine smile.
Sherlock stored the memory on a shelf that was all for John. Ted Bundy didn’t have a shelf. John Wayne Gacey didn’t have a shelf. In all fairness, H.H. Holmes did have a shelf, but given the sheer mass and variety of his murders and, in all truth, his last name, Sherlock felt sentimental about him.
For all of that, he forgot John at the scene. Quite left without him. It was hours before he realized that he'd been muttering to the air. He texted John inconvenience and John came.
A day later, John shot a man for him. A bad man and John laughed with Sherlock as they walked down the street with Sherlock’s shock blanket. He took down the shelf and added a room in his memory palace. John's room. Lestrade didn’t have a room. Victor Trevor, with his slammeddoorfuckyougoodbye, hadn’t had a room. But John, he had a room.
After that, he didn’t examine the impulse that had him wearing Omega #3 (myrrh and redwood) when they went out on not-dates where John badgered Sherlock into "Eat something, dammit," and Sherlock let himself be badgered.
Everything was perfect. It was wonderful. They ran down the streets of his city and they fought crime together.
It was terrible.
John was forever on the verge of leaving.
Sherlock would sit in his chair with his hands like a steeple and John would insist that he care about abstract concepts and strangers and the solar system, which was ridiculous. It wasn't as if any of it mattered, and he'd say so. Slammed doors and pounded feet and Sherlock was left to himself. In the morning, John would return with the creases of a lie-low on his posture. He came back, and something inside would relax. Which was ridiculous, because everyone left. Eventually. It was what people did.
John went on dates with that Beta, Sarah, from the clinic. The one that he went on about, because she was so kind and pretty and calm and accepting and loved children and poodles (Sherlock may have perhaps sutured that part in) and puddles and Pina Coladas and walks in the rain in the dunes after midnight. Or some such nonsense.
That one was easy to sabotage.
Not that it was Sherlock’s fault. Mostly. Moriarty kidnapped John and strapped him with Semtex. Surprisingly, Moriarty was a Beta. Statistically, there had been far more likelihood for the consulting criminal to be an Alpha, or an Omega, or even Unpresented like Sherlock, but there was always something. After Moriarty left them, Sherlock wrapped his arms around John and held him. Breathed in his steady alive-alive-alive Alpha scent.
After a moment, John’s arms came around Sherlock. They stood there for exactly thirty-three seconds with John quietly breathing in Sherlock’s faint baseline scent without anything applied over it, before John pulled away with a furious blush. "Now people really will talk."
Sherlock didn’t care, because John was alive.
Sarah and John went exactly nowhere after that.
But that didn't stop the dating. Flirting with every tall, brunette Beta or Omega that they met.
Three months after Sarah, John went on a date with an Omega he met buying lettuce at the Europa around the corner.
Sherlock examined her trash and quickly identified her heat cycle, which gave Sherlock another two weeks to do something about it. If he had been a good person, he'd have been happy for his friend and guilty about his plans. But he found being a sociopath freeing that way.
In any case, it was absolutely critical that John come with him to Cornwall. Sherlock would have been lost without his blogger. He really didn't feel well. He had a cough and everything. He quit sneaking smokes on the roof. He gave the last cigarette box to John. He needed a weekend away. So he could quit.
He didn’t really think about what it meant that John went with only a token protest. Sherlock wore Omega #1 all weekend. There was an even a mystery, which had interesting elements. Everything was perfect and wonderful. Well, until Sherlock inhaled the smoke of an unknown hallucinogen to test a theory and nearly got them both killed or possibly driven insane by the worst trip that Sherlock had ever experienced, but there was always something.
Sherlock had never seen John so angry. He became still and quiet as opposed to the other sort of anger, which washed over Sherlock like a wave. "You nearly killed yourself. You nearly killed both of us. For an experiment. I can’t live around that, do you understand?" His voice was so calm and quiet and Sherlock could see as clearly as he saw anything that beneath the calm was anger boiling like water in a kettle. Sherlock promised then to never do anything like that again, which John didn't believe, which was fair. Sherlock wrote it on the door to his memory palace. So he wouldn't forget.
He'd be lost without his blogger.
Sometimes when the air felt like a steel wool so harsh that it peeled off everything, he wore his soft grey flannel robe miserable day after miserable day. He couldn’t speak. God, words hurt in his ears. He’d curl up on the sofa. He wouldn’t put on any scents, because they all grated on the open wounds left by the air. He’d uncoil and turn until he slid closer and closer to John watching crap telly at the other end of the sofa. Until his head rested on John’s lap and he’d sigh, because John was warm and comfortable and smelled of wool and hand sanitizers and John.
The first time he rested there, John flinched away. "Uh, Sherlock? I’m not interested in you like,"
Sherlock grimaced and twisted because that was so dull. He didn’t even open his eyes. "It’s all just transport." He didn’t say, "Of course not." He didn’t explain how he’d once caught a paedophile based on how he responded to Sherlock’s natural Unpresented scent and the mud on his shoes, but he thought about it, because John would probably have called him amazing, and he liked being amazing.
Loved it when he was amazing for John. Such a rush.
After a long moment, John put his hand on Sherlock’s head and slowly carded his fingers through Sherlock’s hair, which was nice. Very nice. Slow steady movements and he wasn’t going to sleep, because that was impossible when the air was this harsh. But with his face turned into John’s lap to breath in John's warm steady scent, he did.
He always did. Those sometimes.
Sometimes, John had bad dreams. He woke with a shout or a cry or a startled thrash. Sherlock, who rarely slept, would look up from whatever he was doing downstairs. He’d put down his Erlenmeyer flask or electrode or slide.
He’d pick up his violin and play soft melodies until the sounds from upstairs quieted and he felt ready to return to science.
Sometimes, John came downstairs and sat on the sofa listening. When he fell asleep, Sherlock didn’t put a blanket over him or anything naff like that. It would have blocked his view of John’s steady breathing like a metronome in the night.
On John’s floor in Sherlock’s memory palace, because by now he had a floor, Sherlock kept a variety of Johns. Amazed and smiling, or intent and clever, or dangerous and still. When John wasn’t around, which he wasn’t for much of the time, and Sherlock did often leave on cases, Sherlock went to that floor. If Sherlock had something to tell him, which was often.
Sometimes actual John would come into the room and ask who he was talking to. Sherlock would give him a long look and grin, but he’d never say. He wasn’t sure how well John would take knowing that Sherlock was keeping multiple Johns prisoner in his head. Even if it was only memories in an ever expanding series of rooms in a vast memory palace in an empty dry desert, buffeted by the winds in his mind.
It was the sort of thing that people did to Omegas in those romance movies that John’s two ago Betafriend (because there were several after the Europa Lettuce Omega) had liked to watch. But to actual people, and not their memories. She’d been an idiot and Sherlock was glad that the lasagne that John made for her from a box had accidentally exploded, which had not been Sherlock’s fault. Not entirely. Mostly. Entirely.
In any case, when John would ask who he was talking to, Sherlock would grin and didn’t pause in what he was saying. Just kept on explaining to John.
Whichever John he had been talking to, Sherlock had been incorrect about two things when first they met, because there was always something.
First of all, he shouldn’t have self analyzed his own psychology based on reading biographies of Famous Unpresented Serial Killers when he was sixteen, which had not been a good year. In all fairness, seventeen through twenty-seven hadn’t been too great either. Thirty-two was nice though. Lovely really. Thirty-two had John in it.
The other thing was that he wasn't exactly Unpresented, which was a genetic predisposition. It was certainly understandable that he’d self diagnosed that too. He simply hadn't presented. Yet.
If Sherlock and John were the sort of people to read Mills and Boon novels, they could have said that what occurred was because destiny intervened and set two destined lovers in the one true pairings path.
Actually, Sherlock had read three Mills and Boon novels: "Her Pregnant Omega Mistress", "The Greek Alpha Tycoon’s Virgin Omega Bonded", and the "Alpha’s Beta Bonded". Although that last one was fantasy, since the repeated watering by the Alpha’s alabaster pillar on the Beta’s velvety pleasure flower enabled the Beta to become pregnant. Sherlock read them because when sitting in a park to question a group of Beta Nannies, Mills and Boon made for a better cover than say "Seeing Through Other Eyes, the Corinthian Murders". He’d largely deleted the Mills and Boon. In any case, all they’d given him was a very confused impression of what went on during sex. It sounded both floral and viscous.
He’d deleted all of the classes he’d been forced to take as a teenager, because clearly it was a waste of space and he vitally needed the space for his complete index of South American poisons. He understood the basic concept of course. Orifice. Insertion into orifice. Release of genetic material. Pheromones. He was a chemist. He knew quite a lot about pheromones. But it all sounded fairly horrible and dull and boring. Even kissing sounded disgusting. Sticking a tongue in another person’s mouth. Dull. Far better to use that space for useful things like remembering the characteristics of curare or dieffenbachia or practically anything.
And really, it was the lasagne. And the curry. And the butter chicken. And tea. Breakfast. A variety of meals, depending on John’s shifts at the clinic.
All of which meant that Sherlock’s body decided that the long famine had finally ended. Because while 1% of the population were genuinely Unpresented, Sherlock perhaps shouldn’t have deleted John’s rant about anorexia and bulimia and its effects on the teenage determination cycles, which had something to do with a boy who’d come into the clinic. Dull.
In all fairness, that had been the night the heart in the microwave had liquefied, which was not Sherlock’s fault. Somewhat. Completely. Although, he had cleaned it up, because John really did not like cleaning and he’d looked very sternly at Sherlock. He’d even crossed his arms and made Sherlock use a toothbrush dipped in bleach.
John might have noticed the change, but Sherlock had been in the mood for Omega #9, which was almost pure copulin with high notes of sweet grass, for several weeks.
The borrowed scent mingled with Sherlock’s own deepening scent.
Sherlock was the sort to notice that John always adjusted his belt when Sherlock tumbled out of the bathroom in a waft of Omega #9 and his blue silk robe. He understood that it was a natural reaction to his borrowed scent. He observed the way John let out the breath that he was holding when Sherlock flashed a grin at John and said a Sherlock thing.
On that particular morning, he said, "The floor had been waxed three times as often as it should have been."
On that particular morning, instead of saying, "You might want to put on a little less Omega scent," John asked, "And what does that mean?" And the opportunity was lost.
Instead, Sherlock spent a sleepless night examining mould cultures, but they were wrong. Everything smelled wrong. He felt like a 60 Hz current was running through him, which had been interesting the time he’d tried it, but nothing he needed to repeat. It felt almost like the hot wind of a Mistral out of Africa. He remembered when he was a boy visiting his dull, dull, dull cousins in Nice and the wind blew and everyone talked about how the Mistral blew murder with it, which hadn’t been dull, but Sherlock had wanted to take a blade to scrape off every inch of nerve ending skin. Then there had been "The Incident" and no more trips, and several deleted years.
It felt like that. Like something that he couldn’t turn off. That was bigger than himself. He did not like that feeling.
Sherlock didn’t say anything to John when he stumbled downstairs from his own restless sleep. But that wasn’t unusual. That day, Sherlock paced the flat and sneered at the skull and the newspapers full of boring people being boring and without an interesting criminal thought in their heads.
It should have been a relief when the Alpha American Industrialist stormed into the flat demanding that Sherlock prove that his children’s English Beta governess could not (mountain of evidence to the contrary) have murdered his bonded Venezuelan Omega. The Alpha’s every other word described his bonded as "passionate" and "tempestuous", while the governess was a "calm oasis" and a "veritable angel". It could not have been more stereotypical if he’d tried. It was boring and dull and domestic.
Also the Alpha kept trying to move into Sherlock’s space. His aftershave had a low note that conflicted with his underlying scent. It was revolting. Sherlock wanted to lean into him, which was ridiculous.
Sherlock paced the carpet and felt the buzz on his skin. He had to move and do and think. "Fine, fine. I’ll take the case." He swept on his coat and swept out the door and was swept away by the blast of light as soon as he went outside. The brilliance of the colours turned all the world amazing. It was one of those days where everything was going to smell right and the sound of the city, his city, rolled over him and joined the electric buzz that hummed under his skin. He hummed happily at his city.
He shot a dopamine grin at John and said, "This is going to be fantastic."
John looked worried, which was wrong. There was nothing to worry about. "Sherlock, are you okay? You look flushed. Your pupils are dilated." He glanced around the street as Sherlock summoned a cab. "Are you on something?"
Sherlock couldn't understand how John could even ask that question. Sherlock had promised in Cornwall. There was a sign and everything on the front door of his memory palace. It didn't deserve an answer. "Ha. I’m on a case." He spun in a circle. "I have a case." He shouted to his city, "I have a case." His city crashed down a wave of car horns and garbage and rushing pedestrians going absolutely nowhere. It should have been dull, but it really wasn’t.
On the train ride out to Tor Bridge, he decided that it was dull. Everything was dull and dismal and there were no interesting things left in the world. Except John. Only John was interesting and bright. He smelled amazing. Sherlock leaned into him. "Mmmm."
John pushed him back slightly. "Christ, what’s gotten into you?" His thumb brushed the skin exposed in the open collar of Sherlock’s shirt and John inhaled sharply. He pulled his hand back as if he were burned. Sherlock idly wondered how hot it had felt, because he’d done a series of burn experiments once and he’d love to discuss them with John, his John.
Who rubbed his maybe burnt hand. "Sherlock, you need to be careful how much of those scents you put on. I think you mixed this batch of Omega a little strong." He paused, a downward turn to his eyes, a brief adjustment to his belt. "Wouldn’t want you to smell so good that a crowd eats you up." His eyes crinkled at his little macabre joke.
Sherlock shook his head, to let John know that he was wrong. "No, one thousand times, no. I’m not at all like that idiot Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. I’m using applied chemistry, not the cold pressed glands of twenty-four virgin Omegas in their first heat." He paused as he always did when thinking about Grenouille. "Although, I would have liked to have met the man. Think of it. Inducing a Grand Omega Euphoria in over a thousand people," He waxed alchemical for twenty minutes and quite forgot his first thought, which was that he wasn’t wearing any scent.
If anything, Tor Bridge was brighter and hotter than London, for all that the sky was full of clouds.
The young Alpha housekeeper (vanilla-inhale-now notes) smiled at Sherlock. She took Sherlock’s hand in hers and said, "If there’s anything I can do to help solve this terrible crime, let me know, sir."
Sherlock swayed. His fingers tingled where she was holding him. He shivered. He took his hand back because it was very unlikely that she could do anything to help, because she was probably a moron. Most people were. Still she smelled lovely. He breathed in, but for some reason he stepped back. She stepped forward. Odd, because normally when he didn’t wear a scent, people treated him like a child. Instinct really. He took another step back and she took another step forward.
John moved between them. "Back! Off!" His voice was sharp like a whip crack, which was a lovely thought. But it was oddly rude of John. Generally, Sherlock was the rude one. Sherlock smiled to think that he was rubbing off on John. His mind caught on the image of rubbing his body against John’s and holding him against a wall and breathing into his neck.
He froze and shook the thoughts out a window, because he didn’t have thoughts like that.
They questioned the children, who were oddly unresponsive to Sherlock’s base scent. They questioned the governess. They went to the scene of the crime. Two constables stood guard on the bridge. A short blonde Alpha (underlying notes of lovely) and a ginger Beta (dull). The Alpha said, "Well, aren’t you a tall drink of water," and winked. "Not much here to see though. Except the blood. Might want to avert those pretty eyes and hold onto a strong Alpha."
Sherlock winced. "Please, if you can’t even observe the slight chip on the stone, then you won’t even be able to pour my glass."
"Hey, I was just making conversation." The Alpha bristled and puffed himself up and crowded into Sherlock’s space.
John moved between him and Sherlock. "Stand down." And yes, the constable had been in the army. It was there in his shoulders and centre of gravity. Good of John to notice. John was always good. Sherlock leaned down and nuzzled John's neck.
John swallowed. Sherlock could feel the movement. He said, "We need to leave." He gave Sherlock a tug on his arm. "Now!"
Sherlock blinked at the bright cloudy afternoon. Suddenly, all he wanted was a small dark room where he could curl into a ball. He said as much.
John brushed his fingers along Sherlock’s face, and pulled back his hand with a hiss. "You can do that at home." He pulled Sherlock again.
Sherlock resisted John. Contrary, because he really did want to go home, which would smell like John's safe scent. He said, "What about the case?" The Alpha drifted back over to them and John actually growled at him. The Alpha went back to the bridge. Dull.
"You solved the case five minutes ago." John looked at him with that steady gaze of his. With that warm steady scent.
Sherlock sighed, because he had solved the case five minutes ago, but everything was terrible and grey and dull and grated on his skin. He was burning up and cold at the same time. Something in his abdomen cramped and then unclenched.
John took his hand in his warm hand. "Come on, Sherlock. You’ll feel better at home."
"Fine, fine, the wife committed suicide. The governess was clearly having an affair with both the wife and the husband. The wife found out and killed herself in revenge. Petty. Why are Omegas so petty?"
John squeezed his hand. "We need to go." Sherlock let him lead, but only because it was John.
He even let John tell the Alpha what happened, even though he loved this part. He huddled in his coat and glared at the hovering Alpha butler and the Alpha maid. He muttered. He glared at the house. He glared at the cab. He glared at the train. John found them a private car and sat Sherlock by the window with the shades drawn. Sherlock closed his eyes and listened to the sound of the train going down the track. He leaned into John, who put his arm around Sherlock and held him close. Sherlock rested his head on John's shoulder and breathed in. "I don't feel well."
"I know." John licked his lips. Sherlock felt him do it. As if he could feel through his cheek to the skin under John's shirt and he wondered what John's skin felt like. He brushed his cheek back and forth on John's shoulder. "Sherlock. I don't want to, you're going into..." Someone tried to come into their train car. A stranger. John shouted, "Fuck off." The stranger fucked off. "Sherlock, listen to me." Sherlock wanted to listen to John. He liked the sound of John's voice through his cheek. He slid closer to John so the sides of their bodies were touching. The long length of their legs warm together. John flinched. "Sherlock, Christ, you're in heat."
That penetrated the haze. He blinked. "Don't be stupid. You're not normally stupid. I’m not an Omega. I’m not an Alpha. I’m not a Beta. I never presented a gender."
John licked his lips and it was fascinating to watch. The way his pale tongue brushed over the cracked skin of his thin lips. "Trust me. You’ve presented."
"But." Sherlock rubbed at his forehead. He felt hot and sticky and his clothes were too tight. "I don’t want to present." His voice was low and sulky. His penis? Phallus? Cock? Mandrake root? Whatever. It was hard. Which had never happened before. Now it pulsed with blood, while something damp trickled between his thighs and he squirmed trying to get comfortable and he couldn’t. He said, low and put upon by Nature itself, "I don't want to present a gender." He could smell the musk of himself and it was strange. Alien in his own body.
John pulled away from him. He licked his lips. "Don’t think of it as presentation." He put his hand on Sherlock’s and idly moved his thumb in small circles on the inside of his wrist. "Think of it as an experiment."
Sherlock shivered. His muscles clenched. "An experiment." He breathed out and he breathed in. Swayed to the motion of John’s thumb circling on his wrist. The oils from his skin rubbing into Sherlock. "I like experiments." He sighed. "John, I don’t feel well."
"Shh... I know." John kissed his head and held him as the train rocked them home.
John bundled Sherlock past three yellow taxis with a fierce series of, "Piss off, he's mine," until they came to a black Beta cab. Sherlock huddled next to John in the back seat shivering. John wrapped his arm around Sherlock and brushed his lips along the side of his face. It felt good. Strange. Good. John nipped lightly at his earlobe. Sherlock squeezed his legs together. Wet. He wanted to take off his clothes. "Not yet." John was very stern. "Soon."
Sherlock leaned into John, because he would tell him when he could take off his clothes. John helped him up their seventeen stairs. He counted them to help focus. He led Sherlock to his room and his hands were on Sherlock and in a moment something wonderful was going to happen.
But John didn’t undress Sherlock. He didn’t strip him and hold him and insert himself into Sherlock’s orifice.
Instead, he cursed under his breath. Pushed Sherlock down into his bed. John left. John left Sherlock alone and longing for something that had him squirming right and left on the mattress. Even though Sherlock was burning up. Even though he had all these clothes on.
Outside his room, he heard a rhythmic thumping noise. He rolled off his bed. He crawled across the floor. Just outside the door, John was sitting on the floor softly hitting his head against the wall. Sherlock wrapped himself like a blanket around John, because that was wrong. John whispered into Sherlock's neck. "I should leave. Leave you alone. At least get a contraceptive, but I can't make myself go." John glared at the room. "They can't have you. It’s all I can do not to just turn you over and just. Fuck." He knocked his head once more against wall.
"Stop that." Sherlock pulled John away from the wall. He obviously couldn't be trusted with a wall. He breathed in. He imagined John pushing him into a wall.
John nibbled Sherlock's neck and along his collarbone. "There's no way we're getting out of this without me fucking you."
Sherlock wriggled inside his clothes. He didn't want to be wearing clothes.
John licked Sherlock’s lips. His tongue slipped between Sherlock’s lips in a quick darting motion, brushed against Sherlock’s tongue and sent a jolt to crackle down his veins and under his heart. Curl heat inside. He hadn’t felt anything like it since his last injection of seven percent solution. Years ago now. Age twenty-seven. The time he’d stopped his heart.
His slipped his own tongue into John’s mouth as an experiment. As long as it was John, it would be fine.
Far from John’s tongue inside his mouth being disgusting, it felt amazing. Tasting another person’s mouth. John’s mouth and John's tongue and John's teeth. Sherlock whimpered and liquid slid viscous down his thighs drenching his trousers.
Skin. More skin. Sherlock jerked at the edges of John’s jumper. Pulled it over his head. He licked at John. He tasted incredible.
John shoved Sherlock’s coat somewhere. It didn’t matter. Sherlock deleted it the moment it was gone, because John was ripping off his shirt. Buttons scattered in a hail at the edges of his hearing. He listened to them bounce.
"This doesn’t have to change anything." John licked Sherlock's lips. "I know you don’t. You know. That you've never wanted this." He swallowed. "This is just hormones. Fucking nature. God, I want this. Sherlock." Kissed Sherlock, which was better than talking.
Sherlock decided that he very much liked kissing.
Still John pulled away and said, "After. After, you can go to the clinic and get an After Heat pill. This doesn’t have to be, you know, unless you want, do you..."
Sherlock licked the words of whatever it did or didn’t have to be out of John’s mouth. He wanted more skin. His hands worked at John’s clothes until there were no clothes. He wanted to plaster himself to John, but John said, "Bed." He shoved Sherlock back. They stumbled back into Sherlock’s room. John locked the door behind them and growled, "You’re mine."
"Yes, yes." He pulled John forward. Sherlock's knees hit the edge of the bed and they tumbled down. This was better. John's sweat slick skin slid over Sherlock’s. Their scents mingling as their bodies moved restlessly against each other. Every single part of Sherlock felt alive. His skin buzzed with the need for John to mark him. To show that he owned him. That Sherlock belonged to him. With him. He whispered that and John bit down on the tender skin over Sherlock’s right nipple and twisted with his teeth. A sharp grinding motion that sent a spike of pain and pleasure through Sherlock. "More."
There was more. It was almost too intense. Almost. Hands and lips and tongue and teeth on his skin. Bruises bloomed on him and it wasn’t enough. He squirmed against John so he could more feel more of John. He had to have more of John. He recorded the feeling of John’s skin on his. The brush of John’s cock against his cock. That was the word Sherlock wanted. What he wanted. Sherlock reached between them and slid his fingers along its length. "That’s," he pulled away, "big." Very big. Larger than Sherlock would have expected. He wanted to measure it, because it looked to be nine inches, but he couldn't be sure. He tried to measure its circumference by licking it, which was perhaps a non-standard method of measurement, but seemed right in the moment.
John, ever surprising, said, "Right then." He flipped Sherlock over and nudged him onto his knees. John knew what he was doing. Sherlock growled at the thought of John doing this with anyone else, but he was here now. He was Sherlock’s.
Sherlock spread his legs wide and leaned his head on the mattress. He felt the cool air against the wet heat dripping from him. He whimpered. "Please."
John slid a finger into him and twisted. It felt good. Wonderful. Not enough.
John whispered, "Shhh… I have what you need."
Sherlock whispered, "What’s happening?" And John, his John understood.
John scraped his fingernails down Sherlock’s back, leaving a trail of scratches and fire. "Norepinephrine and vasopressin are being released in your system that, um," he breathed in sharply as Sherlock arched at his touch, "is um, increasing your stuff. Arousal." He sucked at the small of Sherlock's back, a harsh pressure. His fingers twisting inside Sherlock. He whispered against the bruise. "Your body has released an ovum, and you’ve gone into, um," He spread his fingers inside Sherlock, who whimpered. "Oh, God yeah, heat. Releasing pheromones that induce heat in Alphas who um," He leaned over Sherlock’s back and inhaled deeply. "But they can’t have you. You’re mine." He slid another finger inside Sherlock. Scissored his fingers inside, which felt good and not enough.
"Oh," breathed Sherlock. "More." By which he meant both fingers and words. And John, his John understood. "I’m going to stretch you." Another finger expanding inside him. "You’re already so wet. Your Bartholin glands are drenching you, making you slick for me." John was panting. The tip of John’s cock brushed against Sherlock. "Are you ready?"
The electric arc marched up Sherlock’s skin like fire ants and made their presence known. He gritted his teeth, "Yes." He wanted this and he needed this and he wasn’t actually sure, but fuck it. Sherlock had always jumped feet first.
He gasped as John pushed deep inside him and it was nothing like fingers. He felt like he was being split apart so good. Sherlock flexed. John gripped his hips and in a swift thrust was all the way inside. "That’s my glans brushing up against your cervix. Do you feel that. I’m already releasing pre-cum. There’s a… um, 3%, oh, God, chance that you could already be pregnant. So wet." He pulled out.
Sherlock almost protested at the loss when John pushed back in a fast hard stroke. They were both panting hard now. The room smelled of them. Their scents mingling. Alpha in Omega. Of Sherlock’s heat. Of John’s heat. The bed creaked beneath them and the sheets were tangled beneath Sherlock’s knees and abraded his sensitized skin. He chanted, "Harder. More." He begged, "Please, John, give me what I need. You always do. Please, do it now." The suction bruises and bites on his body throbbed, marking him as John’s, as John pushed and pulled inside him and Sherlock felt alive to everything. John's thrusts shoved him forward across the bed until his head braced against the headboard. The world narrowed to every inch of his skin. Sweat slick bodies caressed by the air. The bump of John’s knot as it slid in and out of him. The gradual pain of it as it filled with each stroke. As it stretched him.
As John whispered, "Feel that. It’s going to, it’s going to, I’m going to knot you. You want that? You want me to knot inside you. So wet and tight. Only me. Only I’ve had you like this. Let me have you like this."
Sherlock wanted this and he needed this and he wasn’t actually sure. Since he was Sherlock, he slammed back into John driving him deep inside him. "You. John. You."
Sherlock's own cock pulsed thin stripes onto the sheets below him as John’s knot expanded inside him and locked them together. Unable to pull out. John cried out, "Going to fucking fill you," and pulsed inside of him. He panted, "That’s your sphincter muscles con-contracting." He left off, and came again. Cried out, and Sherlock recorded the sound that he made. The notes of his scent. The way his fingers gripped hard on Sherlock’s hips. He tugged them both onto their sides, their hips fitted together. Locked. John rocked slightly, Sherlock inhaled. "That’s my knot pressing your prostate, um, thing. Knotted you. Like this for, um, a long time. By the time I’m done, I’ll have put, um, oh God, Sherlock, you’re so tight, um 14 to 19 cc’s of cum in you." He reached around and slicked his hand against Sherlock’s wet thighs before wrapping around Sherlock’s cock in a firm grip.
Sherlock noted the gun callus on John’s left hand as it rubbed up and down Sherlock’s cock. He’d have said something, but found all he could say was, "Please," and he hardly recognized the raw low rumble of his voice.
John, his John understood him. He said, "That’s you squeezing me. My knot holding it all in. God." He rocked his hips. Tiny movements that were all he could make. Rubbed against Sherlock’s prostate. Sherlock came again.
Through a haze, Sherlock heard John. "Soaking the ovum that put you in heat. There’s a um 90, um, 99% chance that you’ll be pregnant by the time my knot let’s you go." His rhythm on Sherlock’s cock faltered as another warm wet spurt pulsed inside Sherlock. He pressed close behind Sherlock and inhaled along his neck. "You’re so hard to hold onto." He sucked a bruise on Sherlock’s back. Scrapped his teeth across it. "Please, let me hold a part of you. We could, we could find a Beta to help care for it. Mrs. Um, please, let me." He cried out again. "Fill you up. You want it don’t you?
Sherlock arched his back against John. "Yes. John. Please. Yes."
They wrung each other from pulse to wrack, until they were too tired to do more nuzzle in the sticky sheets. As John slid out of Sherlock, he whispered, "Love you."
"Mmm." Sherlock snuggled back against John. "That’s nice." Because it was nice. Admittedly brought on by hormones. John had said so.
But it was nice to think John felt that way, if only for a little while.
Sherlock woke to the feeling of the electric arc crawling over his skin and the echo of empty space inside him. He must have made a sound, because John simply pushed inside him and filled him up. Drove the arc away with kiss-lick-bites to Sherlock’s shoulders. As he whispered, "Mine. Mine. Mine."
This time Sherlock didn’t ask John what was happening.
He carefully recorded the way John’s arm wrapped tightly around his chest as John’s rhythm sped up. The wet sound of flesh smacking against flesh. The feeling of John’s expanding knot as it brushed his prostate, out past his sphincter muscles, which left only John’s glans inside Sherlock. Sherlock whimpered. Cried out as John pushed his expanding knot back inside him.
It was the same as the first time, and totally different. More relaxed. If something that left their hearts pounding and wrung cries of, "Mine." and "Yours," from their lips, could have been relaxed.
This time John didn’t explain what was happening. His knot expanded holding them together as warm, wet spurt after another pulsed inside Sherlock and this time as he came, he understood what was happening to him. As he came and squeezed everything that John had inside him into Sherlock. All to the sound of John's cracked cries of, "Sherlock, loveyouloveyoulove."
This time, after John softened and pulled out, he got up. John checked the locks. Changed the sheets. He got a warm cloth and wiped Sherlock clean. His hands lingered tenderly on the bruises that he had made. Sherlock pulled him down and wrapped his arms around him. He wanted his John close.
They slept again. Woke up. Had sex. Ate a few frantic bites of food. Of each other. Had sex again. In the laziness of late heat, Sherlock explored John with his mouth, because he wanted to taste him. He wanted to taste everything. He tasted the bullet scar, which was a pitted whirl of texture. He tasted the long scar on John’s right leg where he’d cut himself on some barbed wire when he was ten. He explored the place where John had broken his right arm when he was fifteen playing footie. He mapped moles. Freckles. He licked and explored until John cried out. Sherlock stopped with a pop. Impaled himself on John, slick and wet and loose. Rocked back and forth as they were locked together. It was a hard position to hold, but worth it. He could see John’s face as the hormones made him say that he loved Sherlock. As he looked up at Sherlock in wonder. It was the same look as when Sherlock did something brilliant. Sherlock moved his pelvis in a small circle, which was also apparently pretty brilliant, because John yelled. "Oh, God, Sherlock," and came and came again. And again, as Sherlock painted stripes of cum on John’s chest with his own cries.
When Sherlock woke, it was morning.
Sherlock felt sore and full and stretched. The electric current no longer crackled through his flesh. John’s arm was curved over Sherlock’s chest. In his sleep, he nuzzled at Sherlock’s neck.
Like a drop of acid in his stomach, the reality of everything came tumbling down. Tumblers clicking into place. He understood the potential of an alien parasite floating inside of him. Of things changing. He didn't want things to change. John didn't want things to change. Things couldn't change. What if John left to find someone who wasn’t such a moron as to not realize that they were going into heat? He stood in front of his memory palace and looked at the sign with its large letters on front door, "Do NOT experiment on John with drugs. He will leave!" Sherlock attempted to run away from himself. That was difficult to do, even for him.
Sherlock was out of the bed before he’d even thought it. He didn’t shower, even though he stank of what he’d become. Determinate. Omega. That was the word for the end of the alphabet. The end of things.
The Beta at the clinic gave him a prescription for an After Heat pill and a pamphlet on his contraception options. He had it swallowed, a follow up exam scheduled, and he was back at the bottom step of Baker Street, before he'd thought a thought. Which was horrifying. As much as the lack of thoughts that had led him here. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Also dreadful were the seventeen steps. They were the hardest steps that Sherlock had ever climbed, but this was his home and John was up there and he had to see John. To be sure that everything was still fine between them. Sherlock had taken care of things. They would be fine.
John was lying face down when he came in. One arm was wrapped around Sherlock’s pillow. John looked up blearily at Sherlock. He didn’t say anything. Sherlock very much wanted John to say something. But he didn't speak. Sherlock hadn't meant to break his promise. Surely John would understand that.
So Sherlock said something. "I went to the clinic. We’ll be fine. Nothing has to change. I’ve presented, which was interesting as an experiment. But I don’t expect... I’m not asking you to bond with me just because," he waved a hand in the air, "transport." He may have babbled about bonding being nonsense, although the source of some interesting crimes, because humans were polyandrous monkeys, and that he was clean because although he hadn’t always been as careful as he should with his needles, he regularly checked his blood for a variety of interesting things, and John stared at him with blinking blue eyes, and the words dried up.
John didn’t say anything. He looked at Sherlock for a long time, until Sherlock fidgeted. Winced at the feeling of sore skin and muscles. He felt dull down into his bones.
John said, "Okay. Yeah. Okay." He got up slowly. He didn’t look at Sherlock as he walked out of the room.
In that moment, Sherlock longed for that carefully recorded hug at The Pool. John’s hug. But he didn’t ask. He swirled out of the room and showered away the scent of what had happened. He set the water to scalding. After days of buzzing with heat, he felt cold.
He stared at the dark marks on his skin in the foggy mirror. He touched the place where John’s incisors had drawn blood. But they would fade. Heal. Things would go back to the way they were.
He bled a little, which according to the packaging that came with the After Heat pill was normal. He threw up bile in the toilet, which wasn’t normal. Maybe. He didn’t know. He’d have to learn.
He felt very alone. He played all of John’s favourite melodies on his violin, but John didn’t come downstairs.
Things were not the same.
John avoided Sherlock, which was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Also, somewhat impressive given the size of the flat.
But John had said nothing would change, and Sherlock was going to hold him to that. He’d promised. Sherlock was lost without his blogger.
He sent texts. John did not answer them. He swept into the clinic and said, "We have a case."
John said, "I’m working," and would not budge. Not even for the triple murder with the heads in paint cans.
John didn't write about him on his blog. He wrote about the weather. Every day, Sherlock checked and there was a post about the sunshine or rain. Or lack of sunshine or rain.
He went to Mrs. Hudson hoping for some Beta wisdom. He could be a Beta if he tried hard enough. "John and I had sex."
"I know, dear. You were very loud. Biscuit?" She held out a tray. Ordinarily, he’d have said no, but he was confused about everything. So he ate one as sadly as it was possible to eat a biscuit covered in pink frosting.
"Sorry about that." Sherlock was not sorry at all, but it seemed the sort of thing that John would want him to say.
"That’s fine. It made me think of my husband. Now there was an Alpha with a cock of steel. He could piston for hours, that one." She looked vaguely around the room, even though her husband had never lived at 221. "Oh, but you’ll be wanting sugar with your tea. You’ve got such a sweet tooth."
She gave him sugar with his tea. He sipped from the tiny china cup with the kittens on it. They were sad kittens. "Now John is upset with me because my pheromones made him have sex with me. Which was not my fault."
Mrs. Hudson patted his hand. "I wouldn't fret. That Alpha of yours would do anything for you."
She didn’t say anything particularly wise. But when he left, he felt slightly sick from too much sugar, which was something at least.
A week after "It" happened, the air turned to steel wool. He wrapped himself in his soft flannel robe and as soft as it was, he could still feel the remnants of the bruises John had left on him. He coiled on the sofa and as he always did, he slid closer and closer to where John was watching crap television at the other end. As he finally moved to rest his head on John’s lap, John jumped up. "Christ! No, Sherlock."
Sherlock watched John sit in the chair through slitted eyes. He thought about crawling across the floor so he could rest his head on John’s knee, but then John might leave.
John got up anyway with a muffled noise. He grabbed his jacket and stomped down the stairs. Sherlock winced at the echo of every step.
He crawled over to where his violin was precariously perched on a stack of newspapers from 1962. He plucked his dissonance until John came home. He was walking carefully. He'd been drinking at the pub down the street with Stamford and, based on the splashes on his cuffs and the scents that clung to his sleeves, two other Betas. Sherlock understood. He plucked the melody of the two of them. John didn’t seem to recognize it. John said, "Sherlock, go to sleep." He staggered up the stairs to his room and left Sherlock alone. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
This called for desperate measures. Sherlock filled a thermos full of hot tea and camped out in front of John’s room with a kittenless tea cup, which had been stolen from Mrs. Hudson for the purpose and had never held an experiment. Although, it was the perfect size for an experiment that Sherlock has in mind for pigment discoloration in citric acid.
He waited until a dream woke John. He waited in the dark for hours. Finally, John stumbled out of his room. Sherlock loomed up. He held out the cup and the thermos. He said, "I made tea."
Sherlock couldn't see John's eyes in the dark. Finally, John shook his head and took the cup and it was better.
But Sherlock still wanted that hug.
One night, he went to John’s wing in his memory palace, because by now it was an entire wing. Full of rooms with thick soft rugs and infinite cups of tea and guns that gleamed in the moonlight. He hesitated, and went into the room where he kept the memory of John from when "It" happened.
The visit left him feeling hard and hot and finally sticky. He slowly slid his hand down his cock, while the John from that night did the things that he’d done. One memory slid and slick over another in a confusion of limbs and groans.
He left when it felt like his internal organs were being scooped out with an ice cream scoop, which he’d seen at an absolutely brilliant crime scene once. He left and locked the door and threw away the key. He thought about deleting the room, but didn’t. He knew he’d pick the lock eventually.
Lestrade called with a case. Dull. Not dull. Murdered professor and a Darth Vader bobble head smashed under the streetlight outside. Vaguely interesting.
As they ducked under the tape, Donovan sneered at him. "Looks like the Freak is a breeder after all." She glared at John. "Bet you feel like a big strong Alpha now. Better watch it. He’ll be a regular Moll Flanders that one."
Sherlock was about to reply that he at least had responsibly taken care of things, while given that she was clearly three months pregnant wasn’t the... John put a hand on Sherlock’s wrist. The words stopped in Sherlock’s mouth.
It was the first time John had touched him since "It" happened. He shivered and held the feeling tight to himself.
John said, "Sally, Anderson is never going to leave his bonded for you. She's a Beta. He has her convinced that he’s doing it so she can adopt the kids. They have three already. You know that right?" Sherlock had told John all that. Not in those words. There had been more ranting.
Donovan looked to the left and blinked back tears. She told the wall that she was staring at, "Yeah."
John said, "If it helps, you could hit something." He glanced at Sherlock and then back at Donovan. "Mostly, it just hurts your hand though. But if you need some bandages, let me know."
Sherlock rolled his eyes, because Donovan was already breeding, and even then John couldn’t stop chatting her up, which come to think of it he hadn't done before. Sherlock deleted it all as dull.
He swept past them and for good measure eviscerated Anderson’s pathetic excuse for an analysis of the crime scene.
It made John smile. Donovan smiled too, which had not in any way been his goal. Still, John smiled at him, which he liked.
There were cases and there was midnight dim sum and crime. Criminals were interesting. Idiots, but interesting. Days went by. Weeks. Mycroft appeared and smelled for all the world like the dependable Beta in the minor government position that he pretended to be.
He quirked an eyebrow at Sherlock, which implied that the vast resources of the government could be put to (finally) finding an Omega hormone suppressor. After all, Mycroft had done it for Alpha hormones. Not released to the public. Mycroft didn’t believe in Nature’s organizational skills. Given some of the side effects, even Sherlock wasn't sure that he wanted to tinker that much with himself.
Sherlock rearranged the taxidermied owl on his desk (a souvenir from his previous case). This passed for all the conversation they needed over what had changed.
Mycroft asked him to investigate a missing suitcase. Sherlock refused. Investigated anyway, because life was dull.
John ran with him down streets and that was lovely.
Sherlock still sometimes wore his scents, but he did that less and less. He liked his own scent. He took daily samples for analysis. He had a graph.
Although, he learned to camouflage his scent when he slept rough, as he sometimes did on a case. He’d spent his entire life being untouchable. It was hard work rewiring his memory palace for a different paradigm. Annoying. It seemed that he'd gone from being a freak to being a freak that random strangers wanted to have sex with. He’d often worn Omega #1 through #9 before, but those hadn’t been his scent. Something that he could just wash away in a shower. Now strangers glanced at his eyes and then stared at his groin. Attempted to chat him up. Followed him with their eyes and made bitter remarks if he didn’t smile at them. At odd moments assumed that he was an idiot. It was... odd.
Anderson tried to chat him up. Dressed in his blue crime scene suit and lips twisted, his eyes lingered low. "I think we could have great hate sex. I know I loathe you enough."
Sherlock was so surprised that he actually couldn’t think for 15.3 seconds. Fortunately, he was a genius. The tumblers of his brain kicked in. "That is your problem. Assuming that you are capable of thinking," and he swept past Lestrade, who looked he was about to cough himself to death. Although, Lestrade had taken it in stride. But Lestrade, although an Alpha, was interested in getting cases closed, not Sherlock’s gender.
Not that it was like that with everyone. The first time Sherlock went to Barts, Molly breathed in and smiled out all the tension. She invited him to see her open up a corpse with a tape worm inside. When she made the cut, she joked that at least the worm was well hung, which she never would have said before. Now, she would actually argue with Sherlock about the dead. It turned out that she knew quite a bit about forensics. "I did go to university for this, Sherlock!" Which theoretically he’d known, but she’d never talked about her experience with taphonomic applications in forensic anthropology before.
They spent a week laying out animal remains (she couldn’t quite swing a human corpse) on the roof of an abandoned factory to be pecked at by carrion birds while studying the results.
"You’re actually interesting." In a way, this was more surprising than Anderson.
Molly rolled her eyes and took a photo of a partially consumed emu. She refused to say where she’d gotten the emu, but Sherlock was certain he would wear her down eventually.
While Mycroft would have had a heart attack to hear it (although he already knew), Sherlock was actually being semi-responsible. He selected a form of contraception. An IUD, which was rather complicated to have inserted, and Sherlock didn't care for the memory. He deleted it. It seemed the best idea. Nothing he’d have to remember to take.
Since dubiously consensual sex had nearly ruined things with John, there would be no more sex. His body was just transport. He could avoid sleep, which was boring. And food, which was also boring. Although, he let John bully him into eating some of the lasagne from the box. He could avoid sex too.
So there were cases and they were brilliant. And John went with him and smiled when he was clever, which was often, so that was brilliant too. They ran all over his city.
John went to work and he spent all day caring for other people. There were times when Sherlock texted that John didn't come. John went on a date with a very boring Beta man with ginger hair and green eyes, which was not his type at all, and he was dull. So, dreadfully dull and boring. When Sherlock met him, Sherlock deduced him and the Beta left in a rush.
John said, "Bit not good. You said that had nothing had changed. That we were going to go on like we were."
Sherlock snorted. When had he ever not driven off John's dates? Anyone who was good enough for John wouldn’t let Sherlock drive them off.
He even paid attention to the passage of days. Twenty-eight days (the statistical average between heats) came and went. Nothing happened. He didn’t say anything to John. He didn’t have to. Well, perhaps he printed a calendar and circled the day in red with a black X through it. John sometimes needed to have things spelled out for him.
John wore the same very soft jumper for three days and blogged about the weather.
After forty-five days, what Sherlock was primarily thinking about was the fabulous harpooning that he'd been called in to investigate. The world was bright and brilliant and bloody.
He got to harpoon a pig, which felt good. The wet squelch of flesh parting as he thrust forward. He may have been a little enthusiastic, but it was for science and criminology and it was brilliant.
It was dull and dreary and cloudy. Standing alone by the road spattered in blood and holding what was essentially a seven foot spear. And no one would pick him up and he was alone and unwanted and empty. Burning up in a bracing wind. A buzz of electricity arced over his skin and coiled tension through him. His heart beat in triple time. His cock was hot and hard to the thrum of that beat.
He muttered, "No, no, no." His fingers stuck to the harpoon shaft and there was blood crusted in his hair. Sherlock didn’t want to "have" to go home. He wanted the leap of a marvellous risk. D.I. Hopkins texted to ask if him if he wanted to consult on a case. Sherlock very much wanted to consult. He wanted to do exactly what he wanted and when he wanted.
Sherlock texted John to come meet him at the place where he was going, because. That was it, because.
Against all expectation, the yellow cab that he waved down, stopped. The Alpha cab driver’s scent was redolent of sticky sweet tar and ganja and sweat. But Sherlock had no intention of taking the tube. He had no intention of going home just yet. "Broxly Place, I have to see a man about a pair of gold hipster glasses."
"Right on, man." The cab squealed out. "S’cool. You in a film. I love horror films."
"No." The mirror ball on the cab’s rear view mirror reflected the light, which was irritating and Sherlock wanted it dead. He tossed it out the window.
"Hey, that’s, so you want to hook up later." They swerved to narrowly avoid a blue Mini. "The seats in the cab lay down pretty flat."
Sherlock was utterly appalled; because that actually sounded good. He gripped his harpoon. "You are driving on an expired license. You live with your mother in a basement flat. That last joint that you smoked was actually oregano. So, no." It felt good to deduce. He could deduce. He was still him.
The cab bumped up over the curb. "Here we are." The cab driver chewed noisily on his gum. "I could stick around. Case you need a ride back." He waggled his eyebrows, which was just not going to happen.
Sherlock scrambled out of the cab and only realized after the cab raced away that he’d lost his harpoon. He sighed as the dull gray of the world overwhelmed him. He had no harpoon. John wasn’t there waiting for him.
D.I. Hopkins waited by the front door of the building. "Sherlock," he bounced on his toes, "a pleasure. I think I’ve found a good one for you. Yes, I have. Soon as I saw it, I said Stanley, this has Sherlock written all over it." He put his hand on Sherlock’s arm, which was still tacky. "Eh, heh," Hopkins held on, his fingers curling around his arm. "This way, this way."
Sherlock gritted his teeth. Hopkins hand felt warm and strong, and no. He was here to solve crime. And smoke all of Hopkins cigarettes. Hopkins lit one for him as he bent down. A blush of heat along his hand. The barest brush of Hopkins’ fingertips along his skin. Sherlock scattered ash on the hardwood floor of the old house and followed the trail of barefoot prints to the hidden room behind the clock. It was very clever of him and he flushed with triumph. Or heat. He gritted his teeth, because this was ridiculous. He was queasy and flushed and was not giving in to transport. It was there to transport him.
Hopkins said, "I have to tell you, I’ve read all the entries on the Science of Deduction." Hopkins shifted closer. "Your post on the 243 methods for identifying tobacco ash was utterly riveting."
Sherlock saved that remark to tell John later.
And there was John in a flurry of warm and worried smiles. "I got here as soon as I could, what is it? Jesus, Sherlock. What happened to you?"
Sherlock glanced down. He’d quite forgotten the blood and it was lovely to see John. He waved a cigarette at him. "Doesn’t matter. I solved it. Hipsters. You needn’t have bothered." He smiled at Hopkins, who flushed bright red.
John looked like he’d eaten a raw Valencia (not Myer) lemon, which Sherlock had tried once, so he knew exactly what the expression would look like. "I don’t believe you. I took off from work. I had to rearrange five appointments. I..." His eyes darted from Hopkins to Sherlock. His hands clenched into fists.
Sherlock looked at Hopkins. He’d rather have had John follow him. Hopkins didn’t even have a first name, or maybe he did. He decided to be kind. "I didn’t need you after all. I had Hopkins here."
Hopkins stepped closer to Sherlock. Close enough to feel his breath across his neck, which was distracting and lovely. Sherlock touched his own neck, his fingers drifting down over the skin. A trail of fire. Hopkins squeaked, "I think that you are one of the most brilliant minds of our times."
"Hmm, that’s nice." Sherlock was about to tell John about the cigarette ash, when he just left. John left. John wasn’t meant to leave. He was meant to tell Hopkins to fuck off in a voice of whip crack and hot lead. He was meant to push Sherlock against a wall and make a perfect bloom of teeth over Sherlock's heart, and pull him into a dark dusty room where a murderer had hidden for three days and, no, he wasn't meant to do any of those things. All of Sherlock's plans had involved Not having sex. Plans, which it seemed to him now, involved him being in his flat, in his room, and not at a crime scene.
D.I. Hopkins ran his hand up and down Sherlock’s arm and that felt very good. Very, very good. Sherlock bent forward and they were kissing, which felt quite a bit like the time he took speed. His head pounded and his tongue was slow as it explored Hopkins' mouth, who probably had a first name and was interested in Sherlock's cigarette ash and had never looked at Sherlock once before "It" happened. Hopkins whispered to Sherlock, "There are beds upstairs. Hipsters, you know." Sherlock did know. Hopkins lightly bit Sherlock's jaw. Sherlock twisted away.
Sherlock left in five quick strides.
He did end up taking the tube home after all. It turned out there was only one blood minded cabbie in London. Strangers crowded around him. He brushed his fingers over his chest. Thin fabric over his nipples, sensitive to every movement of the fabric. He put his hands in his pockets. There was a Beta teenager eyeing him from the next seat muttering. Sherlock shivered.
He gritted his teeth. Deduced the Beta, scholarship student. The Omega stockbroker on his way from meeting a client, his lips wet with whiskey. Deduced.
He made it home. He resolved that if ever found his harpoon, he’d hunt down Nature and kill it. A great deal.
Now, Sherlock may not have expected his next heat to actually manifest, but he had prepared, because preparation was fun.
Since transport apparently needed maintenance, he'd gone to a sex shop where the owners owed him a favour for clearing their grandmother of a murder charge. He got an array of sexual aides designed for "Maximum Omega pleasure". He also put an O-ring in his headboard and stole a pair of Lestrade’s darbies, which he hung from the ring. He had taped a paperclip on the periodic table in the square for Rubidium. He put a water bottle and a bucket under the bed.
So, he was prepared.
It was an excellent plan.
It was a terrible plan.
It was a plan that he possibly should have shared with John, but then Sherlock was not really good at sharing his plans. He was terrible in fact.
Sherlock ran up the steps and raced into his room. He locked his door with a quick click. The feeling of being plugged into a wall socket increased. The Mistral winds feeling arced over him and the cells of his skin tensed, stiffening the hairs to brush painfully against his clothes.
He took off his clothes. He even folded them, which given that every movement arced the tension inside him was impressive. But he was a man of will power. Also, stubborn. Also, he really wanted a cock to slide inside him and fill him. He set up the small camera so he could analyze the affects later and cuffed his non-dominant hand to the O-ring. Because he didn’t want to ruin things again. For good measure, he slipped a ball gag guaranteed to muffle 90% of oral emissions into his mouth. He had an idea that he wouldn’t be able to keep quiet.
He stretched out on the bed and tried to find a comfortable position. There were no comfortable positions.
He heard John come into the flat. Hard heavy steps that creaked the stairs. He didn’t stop. He went upstairs to his room. Sherlock followed the sounds of his movements.
He could hear John pacing. Feet slapping and pounding against the floorboards. Back and forth. Back and forth. The creak when he stood over Sherlock. The faint groan in the boards. The dull thud of something hitting a wall. It sounded like a fist. The dull thud of flesh against plaster.
Sherlock realized that he was hyperventilating. Trying to breath through his mouth around the gag. He made himself breathe in through his nose. He implemented Phase II of the plan.
The sexual aides were very hard to manoeuvre one handed. They were crap actually. They were cold. He wanted warm. They expanded gently inside him. He wanted a rough grip. His cock throbbed, but running his hand along its length and stimulating the small knot at its base did nothing despite what the books said. He could have designed something infinitely better. Except he hadn’t. He had relied on other people understanding how sex worked, which was obviously a mistake. And with each attempt, the musky smell of the room thickened.
He threw one aide after the other at the wall. It was mildly satisfying to see them hit the wall with a thud. He even tried his riding crop, which was even less satisfying, although had a certain visceral interest. He struck himself experimentally across the thighs, but that didn't help either and was awkward. His cat-o-nine tails would have been better, but it was in the closet. It may as well have been on one of those planets that John went on about.
Upstairs there was another thud. A sound of quick steps running down the stairs like a fall. "Sherlock?" A rattle on the door handle. "Sherlock, open the door."
Sherlock reminded himself that he was doing this for both of them. They wanted things to stay the way they were, and John always protested when anyone thought they were a couple and who was twisting the door handle right and left and was right there on the other side of the door and who had fucked Sherlock last time and filled him and made him feel wonderful and this time there was birth control and change was good. Chemistry was about change.
Sherlock bit down on his gag and thought about boring things. Cases that were obvious. He twisted on the bed and the mattress creaked. His veins pounded and the empty space inside him echoed wet and leaking. He moaned and shifted out of the damp spot.
Outside the door, he could hear John pacing. "Sherlock. Answer me. Are you alone in there?"
Sherlock ground his head back into the mattress. Heat flushed across his skin despite the fact that the room was clearly not hot. He moaned, which given the ball gag possibly sounded less like a moan and more like someone moaning around a ball gag.
John shook the door handle. "Sherlock? Who’s in there with you?"
Sherlock arched up and twisted in the air and that. Did. Not. Help. He collapsed back onto the mattress. Really, if this was a problem, John could lock himself in his own room.
He got the paperclip off the poster, but found picking the lock difficult. He was having trouble focusing. "Sherlock, who's in there with you?"
Sherlock growled at the paperclip, which slipped from his fingers to land on the floor. He jerked his wrist in irritation and the metal links clanked. He yanked out the gag. "John, help." He groaned, which was perhaps not terribly coherent, and why was John running back upstairs again? "John!" Sherlock flopped face down on his pillow. Lifted his face to take a better look. It was smeared with red-brown streaks of pig's blood. He threw the pillow away too.
The door crashed open as John very efficiently kicked the door in.
John had his gun. His eyes widened. He took in Sherlock naked and cuffed to the bed and face still spattered with blood. The cool air rolled in and the thick air of the room reached out for John. He blinked. Stepped forward. "Sherlock, who did this?"
Sherlock couldn’t do anything but stare at him. Crumpled and stern and holding his gun. Wild eyes. Steady hand. Clearly hard under his trousers.
"Who was it?" John checked under the bed. He checked the closet. Twice. He brushed the side of Sherlock's face where Hopkins had bitten him earlier. "Or were you waiting for someone?" He did not brush the gun along Sherlock's jaw, but Sherlock felt the ghost of it in John's voice and shivered. "Was it Hopkins? I saw the way you were touching him at the crime scene earlier. The way you let him touch you." John took a step closer. He stood over the bed now. "Who are you waiting for?"
Sherlock breathed in and out, naked and wet on his bed, handcuffed to the frame. He said, "You're an idiot. I’m waiting for you."
John stopped still and Sherlock’s centre. "Good." He put down the gun and stripped out of his clothes with quick efficient movements.
It was many hours and three rounds before they got around to uncuffing Sherlock so he could bathe, which led to John pushing slowly into Sherlock as the hot water lapped and splashed around them, which was possibly a bad idea because the tub was not built for two. Still, they got the blood out of Sherlock’s hair.
Afterwards, days later, John bandaged Sherlock’s wrist. John licked his lips and started to say something. He looked worried and uncomfortable. So Sherlock said it first. "This doesn’t have to change anything." He had an inspiration. "It was an experiment."
John's faced crumpled as it did sometimes when Sherlock said things. "Sherlock, anyone could have broken in. Anyone could have," his eyes lingered on the spot on Sherlock's jaw where John had made his own bite, deeper and dark over the one Hopkins had made. He swallowed and looked away, which had him looking at the broken door hanging drunk on a single hinge. "S’not good that I got in."
Sherlock snorted to express his annoyance at this line of discussion. "Dull. It's not important." His shook his head and tossed the idea of John staying away out a window to blow away in the winds of his mind.
John let go the breath he was holding like he was a part of that wind and continued wrapping bandages around Sherlock’s wrist. "Yeah, I know." He whispered, "Just transport." He brushed the tips of his fingers over the white bandages. "But next time, get cuffs with padding."
Sherlock grinned, because there had been sex and John wasn’t upset with him and they were fine. It was all fine. And there was going to be a next time, which Sherlock decided was fabulous. Change could be good.
Except something was wrong.
They went on cases and some of them were not dull. They were brilliant. Sherlock was brilliant. They ate dim sum at midnight and Sherlock did experiments. There was a case with a range oven where John told Hopkins to sod off about the cigarette ash already, and it was wonderful. John didn’t even seem to notice that he put his hand on Sherlock’s elbow after he said it.
Three days later, John accepted an offer to go see a movie with an Omega Pharmacology representative, who was clearly just looking for an Alpha to knot him. Well, more precisely John was going with a group of people that Stamford knew to a very boring film. John laughed, "You wouldn't like it. It's a mystery." But John and the Omega were the only ones going who weren't bonded. And the Omega was tall and had black hair and was going to stand far too close to John and laugh at his jokes and ask him out. Just the two of them.
Clearly, Sherlock needed to keep John closer.
Sherlock decided that he needed to conduct a vital experiment the afternoon of the movie.
Sherlock brought home the genitalia from six separate corpses at Barts. Molly giggled as she helped him collect them. They were all from Alphas. John found them in the fridge next to the iceberg lettuce.
Sherlock looked up from his slide that he wasn’t really doing anything with. It could be ignored. "They are absolutely critical for my experiment."
"We agreed, body parts only on the third shelf." He glanced back inside the fridge and took a closer look at exactly what body parts those were. "What experiment?"
Sherlock turned in his chair. "It’s vitally important that I measure the effects of pheromones extracted from Alpha cocks and inserted into my anus outside of my heat." He raised an eyebrow. "Unless you can think of another source for my experiment."
"Ah," John closed the refrigerator. "Right then." He looked very determined and wonderful.
John experimented with the riding crop on Sherlock’s bare arse. Bent him over the sofa arm and marked him. Six hard quick strokes, one for each cock in the fridge. Kept him bent him over the sofa arm and slammed safe inside him. Sherlock gasped. Pinned as John pounded into Sherlock. The slap of his thighs burned against Sherlock’s bruised flesh. It was lovely. Different from heat. Easier to analyze.
Afterwards, Sherlock curled up on the sofa with his head in John's lap while John brushed his fingers through Sherlock’s sweat damp hair. "It occurs to me that this wasn’t the positive reinforcement I should be going for if I don’t want body parts in the fridge." Sherlock rubbed his cheek against John’s thigh. "Then again, maybe I should attempt to go out to more movies."
Sherlock rumbled and squirmed closer until his nose brushed John’s stomach. He put his arm around John’s waist to indicate his feelings on that idea. John laughed and brushed his fingers through Sherlock’s hair and down Sherlock’s back.
Sherlock decided to conduct other experiments.
One morning, he crept into John’s room while the early sunlight filtered through the green leaves of the plane tree outside, which was aesthetically interesting on John’s bare skin. He set up a recorder and his measuring tape. He took his baseline measurement and set to work. Small careful laps at John’s cock and balls. John shifted restlessly. Not yet awake. Sherlock noted the differences in the texture of skin. The salty taste. The weight of John's cock smooth in his mouth as he sucked and licked.
John’s eyes fluttered open. "Sherlock?"
Sherlock muttered the measurements of John’s cock at the recorder. Smaller than during heat, which was good. Sherlock produced less lubrication. He looked up at John. "It’s for an experiment." He traced a vein along the length with his tongue. He continued until John came with a shout.
After, he rested his head on John’s chest with his legs wrapped over John’s. John traced his eyebrow with a finger. "You're amazing. You know that. I never know what you're going to do next."
"You always say that." Sherlock paused. To be clear, he said, "You can say it again." He let John pull him into a kiss.
He repeated that experiment several times. Repeatability with small variations was important in science.
This went on for months. Six more heats, which left Sherlock feeling both happy and fretful. After each time, he was always careful to reassure John that nothing had to change. He didn’t want John to leave. For some Omega or Beta to realize how wonderful John was and steal him away. He kept John very busy.
There were cases and there was midnight dim sum and there was Sherlock eating the midnight dim sum off of John’s chest and there were hardly ever any steel wool days. When there were, John held Sherlock and brushed his hair with his fingers.
He built a special room in the memory palace for the times that John said that he loved him during their heats. It didn’t count of course. Sherlock’s experiences with a wide variety of mood altering pharmaceuticals told him that. And if it didn’t count, Sherlock certainly couldn’t say it. Because Sherlock was nothing like the people that John had dated. Like those Betas that John had gone on and on about to Sherlock. He needed to be sure that John wouldn’t leave if he said it.
He plotted ways to get John to feel that way when they weren’t on drugs, albeit naturally produced ones. He played soft lullabies on his violin on the nights when John had trouble sleeping. He didn’t correct John’s blog entry about the case with the Speckled Blonde, even though he missed every point of conceivable interest. Well, only corrected it a little. He sat in the window and identified every person who passed by their flat for an hour, which John always enjoyed.
He bought milk. And he bought jam. He came to John’s room wearing nothing but strawberry jam, so John would associate jam with Sherlock. That experiment had positive results, so he tried variations with raspberry and plum. John made Sherlock do the laundry, which also allowed him to impregnate John’s clothes with Sherlock’s scent so people would realize that he was taken. Normally, it worked the other way. Omegas taking on notes of the Alpha’s scent during pregnancy, but Sherlock wasn’t a chemist for nothing.
He went back to the sex shop, where fortunately the owners really did love their grandmother, because he acquired a great many gifts. For John. For experiments.
Sometimes when John was at work, and Sherlock felt dull down to his bones, he’d go into John’s room. Sherlock had been careful to assure John that he knew they still needed separate rooms. Sherlock would slip into John’s room and look at the neat hospital corners of his tidy bed.
If he was very dull, Sherlock would take off all his clothes and roll around on John’s bed. Climb under the covers and stretch and roll and rub. Sometimes, if he was very, very dull, he’d bury his face in John’s pillow and breath in and stroke himself until he came under the sheets. Afterwards, he’d shower and dress in a clean suit. He’d sit at the kitchen table and type or experiment. Wouldn’t say anything when John came home. Didn’t acknowledge him as John trudged tired up the stairs. His heart beating triple time as he looked into his microscope and waited to see what John would do.
It was always a surprise.
Still, he didn’t think his attempts were working. He had a chart and he always seemed to be out of balance.
He’d forget John. He didn't meant to, but sometimes he'd get swept up in something fascinating and days would go by. He'd bounce into the kitchen to find John looking crumpled while staring at an empty kettle.
Sometimes, most of the time, all of the time, he didn't care about people. Earthquakes would shake far off countries and he wouldn't care. "Boring." There was nothing he could do about earthquakes. Hurricanes. Wars. Plane crashes. Dull. Dull. Dull. John would crease his bendable face and say, "Bit not good," and Sherlock didn't see how he'd ever manage to be a bit of good.
Sometimes he’d say something and John would yell and shout and Sherlock couldn’t help becoming sharp like splintered stone. John would cloud up and storm away. Those times were the worst. He’d look through the Science of Deduction and pick a crime, anything to solve. Anything to deduce to reduce the noise of the wind of the world at the shutters of his memory palace. He’d sweep back in, because creeping was for other people, and fling himself onto the sofa. There John would be. He’d say, "I’ll heat up some soup." And his tone would say that Sherlock was under no circumstances to say that he was not hungry, because John knew perfectly well that he hadn't eaten in days.
Sherlock would sit at the table and wait for his bowl of soup.
So it went.
When it was time for his seventh heat, nothing happened. Forty-five days went by and nothing. Which was disappointing. But Sherlock had no regular pattern.
He developed an aversion to the smell of grass. He developed an aversion to the morning. A sort of nausea with daylight. He actually threw up at a crime scene. He hissed when John touched his nipples. They felt especially sensitive, and he decided that John should do further experimentation in that area with clamps set to varying degrees of pressure.
On the sixtieth day since his last heat, John handed Sherlock a stack of five separate pregnancy tests. Sherlock slammed into the bathroom, because it felt good to slam the door. The results were unacceptable.
Sherlock brushed by John in the living room and ran down the stairs. He needed to consult an expert.
"You’re definitely pregnant." The clinic doctor, a forty-five year old Beta with a bonded Alpha in Bayswater and and a bonded Alpha in Bromley and an Alphafriend in Kingston Upon Thames smiled at him.
Sherlock was annoyed at this answer. "But I have an IUD."
The clinic doctor’s smile was all teeth. "It happens. It probably shifted during your heat. You must have a big strong Alpha there. You’re a lucky Omega."
Sherlock stared at the doctor and rapidly considered three different ways that he could kill the man, but decided that John would be angry with him if he did.
Cold pooled in his stomach. Or maybe nausea. He really wanted a less moronic doctor in that moment. And better birth control. And really, John was his doctor.
As he left, he rapidly texted the doctor's three Alphas about each other, along with suggestions for checking bank records. He walked home.
As he walked the streets of his city, he observed all of the Omegas with the underlying scent for pregnancy (52). He observed the Betas with their prams and doting smiles. He counted the number of Betas who were pushing adopted children from Omegas (47) and the number who had taken aggressive hormone therapy to kick-start their own reproductive systems (12). He observed the ones who had not had children. The Betas (63) and the Omegas (48) and the Alphas (31 - although that was somewhat harder to deduce) as they briskly walked in whatever direction they were choosing to go. Bankers and Secretaries and Programmers and Dentists and it was a long list. So, many ways to define the people who lived in his city.
He thought of the bundle of cells inside himself and decided that it was less of an alien parasite and more of an experiment. A long experiment with hard to define variables. An experiment that would make not a copy of either of them, although cloning was interesting, but a blend of John and himself. Hopefully more of John, who was wonderful and held Sherlock together. The world could use more of that.
He climbed up the stairs and there was John on the sofa. His face in his hands. He looked so small and vulnerable. Sherlock didn't like seeing him that. He should be shooting things. Or possibly fucking Sherlock while shooting things. Sherlock wondered if there was a way to arrange that. He hated to ask Mycroft, but it was the sort of thing he’d know.
Though his fingers, John whispered, "You’ve already done it, haven’t you." It wasn’t a question, which was unfortunate, because Sherlock wasn’t sure what John was talking about. "You didn’t even give me a chance to..." John swallowed thickly. He looked up, small and slumped on the sofa. "It's your choice, but... I can’t keep doing this. God, I love you, but I can’t keep letting you twist me up like this. There’s no us. There’s just you and me trailing along after. I’m just a something for you to experiment on."
He said other things, but Sherlock wasn’t listening. He was busy rearranging his memory palace. Shifting John into every room, because John was right. He shouldn’t be separate. It occurred to him then that if he just kept expanding the memory palace, eventually there would be no more desert full of winds. Instead there would only be a palace full of memories.
When he was done, Sherlock opened his eyes. In two strides, he straddled John's lap. Inhaled him into a kiss.
John struggled under him, which was adorable. Sherlock wrapped his fingers around his wrists. John head butted him and they both tumbled to the floor. "Sherlock, I’m leaving."
Sherlock rolled them over so he was on top of John. "No, you finally told me you love me. You can’t leave now."
"I’ve said it plenty of times, you enormous berk." John bucked underneath him. It felt very nice.
"After sex! Do you know how many chemicals are released in your system during sex. I’ve been doing research." Sherlock wanted very much to get up and show John his research, but he felt it would be premature to get off of John.
John’s head dropped back to the floor. "Christ. Is that why you’ve been taking blood samples after we have sex?”
Obvious. Sherlock ignored that. It was a silly question. "Anyway, you can’t leave. We’re having a baby. If you leave, I’ll probably do horrible experiments on it. And I love you. I probably should have started with that, but I wanted you to say it. You’re the one who is always leaving over irrelevancies. And you’re the one who said that you didn’t want anything to change. "
"I said!" John looked very annoyed and suddenly Sherlock found himself on his back and John was on top. "I said... right." John closed his eyes as if it was too bright in the room. "I’m an idiot. In love with an idiot. And it’s probably a terrible idea to let you within a mile of a child."
"I’m a genius and you love me." Sherlock arched up against John. "Anyway, they let Anderson have children and he’s the idiot."
"Fair point." John was smiling now. This was good. This was the direction that Sherlock wanted things to go.
"We’ll be amazing. I’ve built you a memory palace. You have to stay." He breathed in John’s safe dangerous scent with its low tobacco notes. "It’ll be an experiment. You like experiments."
"You’re the one who loves experiments." But John kissed him and that was good.
Later, after John bit the most perfectly clear dentition mark on Sherlock's neck and sucked a bruise between the teeth marks, and they had sex, and they slept and ate and planned and negotiated (because there was quite a lot that they actually needed to start talking about) and unfortunately had to talk to Mycroft and Harry, and Mrs. Hudson came up with some tea and biscuits, after all of that, they solved a murder with John's mark as clear as a crime scene on Sherlock's neck. It faded, of course. All things fade. John bit another just as lovely. Tentatively, carefully, Sherlock made his own mark on John in return. All in all, it was fairly fabulous.
"She's blinking in code." Sherlock leaned down to get a better look.
"Sherlock, Hope is three months old. She's not blinking in code." John was wearing yellow gloves and was binning life forms that were growing in the refrigerator. For once, it really truly was not Sherlock’s fault. It wasn’t as if he bought food.
Sherlock had other things to do. He noted the pattern of blinks in the third Hope binder. He repeated the blink pattern back at her and she gurgled. Definitely a code.