“I don’t want to go. I’m not going. You can’t make me.” Sherlock stood at the end of the table, gesticulating wildly. John smiled at him, though Sherlock couldn’t see as his back was towards John. The genius was working himself into a frenzy over an invite he’d received that morning. The Yard was holding a dinner for outstanding members of the community, and Sherlock had been asked to give the final speech of the night.
“It’s a free meal, and you can spend the night ribbing Anderson and Donovan.” John flicked the switch on the kettle as Sherlock made an odd choking noise. John’s brow furrowed for a second before he whirled around to face the detective. “RIBBING!” He stressed the ‘b’s emphatically. “I said ribbing!” Sherlock grunted something non-committal, and flopped onto the sofa. He commandeered John’s laptop and logged in. Long ago the ex-army doctor had given up trying to keep the genius out of his computer, instead creating him his own profile.
“It will be so dull. Why do you need to reward people for doing what they ought?” John sighed and began searching for clean, dry mugs.
“It encourages them to do it again. If you were ignored for your work because it’s what you ought to do it would be demoralising and you’d stop doing it.” Sherlock craned his neck and arched a brow at John. “Okay, maybe you wouldn’t. But the general populous would.” The kettle boiled and John poured the hot water into the mugs. He gingerly checked the milk, found it to be unspoilt and finished off the brews. As he offered one of the mugs across to Sherlock his eyes caught the screen. “What are you doing?” Sherlock threw John a sidelong glance that told him it should be obvious.
“I’m posting on my website.” John rolled his eyes.
“I can see that. It’s more what you’re writing than what you’re doing.”
“Then ask that, and stop being obtuse.” John sighed and turned on the TV. It wasn’t worth the effort.
That evening, three separate men stared at the screens of their computers. The message was certainly… unusual.
A Call To Those Who Know Me
I am in need of a distraction. There is at least one person out there who
knows me intimately enough to be able to effectively distract me from the
tedium that my upcoming engagement will inevitably invoke. I await your
actions with a vague notion of anticipation.
Sherlock AR Holmes
They all grinned slyly. One of them began to scrawl in a small black notepad. The second opened a new document and began to tap out ideas. The third began to carefully pen out a fully formed plan on a watermarked pad that sat to the right of his computer. They all welcomed the challenge.
“Anderson’s been at Donovan’s again. She was wearing a green nylon costume.” Sherlock stood off to one side, hiding in the shadows at the edge of the room. They hadn’t been here long and already the raven-haired man had upset one of the security guards with his deductions. John fiddled with his coat nervously. He’d left it on claiming the October evening was too brisk for his liking. It was a recent purchase, the coat. For their six month anniversary Sherlock had booked a meal at one of the most exclusive restaurants in London. To meet the dress code (and because the look on Sherlock’s face when John wore a well-fitted suit was delicious) he had purchased a bespoke suit and cashmere dress coat. It was this he now wore.
“I don’t want to know, if I’m perfectly honest.”
Sherlock peered at his companion. John appeared… unsettled. Uncomfortable. With tenderness uncharacteristic of him in public, Sherlock touched the fingertips of his left hand to John’s left cheek. His thumb swept over his cheekbone as he held John’s gaze.
“Is everything alright? We can leave if you don’t feel well, or if you’re not enjoying it.” John’s returning smile was weak but sure.
“I’m fine; just nervous for you. Come on, let’s take our seat.” Sherlock kissed John on the cheek and took his hand as they wound their way through the tables. The room had been set out for dinner; ten or so circular tables laid with silver cutlery on white linen. The pair sat down at their designated seats and John reached over to examine the other placeholders. “Greg’s on our table. And Mycroft. Dimmock, too.” Sherlock rolled his eyes.
“Oh joy. I can’t think of better company for an evening of tedium. My brother, his lover, and the resident puppy.” John patted his knee under the table. “Speaking of whom…”
Mycroft and Greg had just walked through the door. The former had forgone a waistcoat in favour of a slim-fitting tuxedo and bowtie. His umbrella and briefcase were held in one hand, and in the other he held Greg’s hand. The DI was looking fairly dapper himself, in a dark grey suit (the same he’d worn to the date, Sherlock observed). Both carried long coats at their sides. Dimmock was four paces or so behind them, tagging along like the puppy Sherlock had denoted him as. As they approached the table, John stood to shake their hands. A waiter approached and waited for them to finish their greetings before speaking.
“May I take sirs’ bags and coats?” They all handed over their coats, but John quickly moved his bag (a black leather satchel that Sherlock hadn’t yet managed to get a look into) out of reach.
“I’d rather keep this with me.”
The waiter nodded and retreated, and a second came over to take their drinks order. Sherlock ordered a glass of Möet, John a brandy, Greg a port, Dimmock a Peroni and Mycroft a double scotch, which earned him a scowl from his little brother.
Dinner passed relatively smoothly; Sherlock managed to refrain from making jibes at his brother’s expense, and everybody kept their temper in check. During the desert course, Greg excused himself to use the bathroom. Sherlock loudly complained about him taking twenty minutes, but Greg dismissed that by saying he’d used the one in his office on the grounds of cleanliness. He’s also replaced his coat, with his collar upturned, though nobody made mention of that. John was the next, asking Greg if he too could use the one in his office. With his bag in hand he left, returning a short while later.
“It’s bloody freezing in here,” he moaned upon his return. His fingers were turning up the collar on his coat as he sat back down. Sherlock mumbled something about water coolers and Anderson’s inappropriate activities, and paid him no attention. Mycroft raised an eyebrow but said nothing, whilst Greg agreed adamantly. Dimmock looked a little miffed, but nobody really cared enough to notice.
The speeches were made in the same room, but the speaker was made to stand at the front. The Chief Police Commissioner spoke fist, then some grateful victims and – just before Sherlock – the Superintendent. Mycroft rolled his eyes as the man waddled to the microphone. He stood and stretched (to even the most idiotic of onlookers, Greg’s hungry gaze as it roamed over the taut material of Mycroft’s suit would have been obvious) before retrieving his briefcase.
“If you’d excuse me, I have some business to conduct.” Sherlock barely looked up from what he was doing with a napkin and a glass.
“Don’t start any wars unless they’re going to stop me having to speak.” His voice was scathing, but held a tone of good-humour. Mycroft broke from kissing Greg to throw a teasing look at his brother.
“Is that a request, brother mine?” John and Greg missed the unvoiced exchange between the brothers, but Sherlock flushing red with embarrassment rather than anger was unmissable. When Mycroft returned he had his coat on and collar up. Greg’s brow marred in a frown.
“You don’t have to go, do you?” Mycroft sat primly and touched Greg’s hand briefly.
“No. I’m cold is all.” His tone invited no response, but there was no opportunity anyway as the Superintendent had finished his prattling. Sherlock huffed something in French, then took the stage.
“Good evening.” His voice was mesmerising; pitched to catch attention, but soft enough to make them strain to hear. “According to the good DI, my experiences are of use to you. I don’t agree with him in any instance, because none of you are intelligent enough to make the necessary observations for my insight to be of any use. Don’t take offence; practically nobody is.” Sherlock took a breath before his next sentence, but paused in his dialogue. John had risen in his seat, and was leant forward onto the table. His back was slightly arched, and Sherlock couldn’t help but envisage that position in a more heated situation. He coughed and cleared the image from his mind.
“Therefore, I will tell you something that you can cope with, and that you can apply. Life, as any adult can tell you, is seldom an easy road.” He quirked an eyebrow as Greg stood to join John. The older man leant down and whispered something. John passed a surprise look at Greg, over to Sherlock, and then grinned slyly at the both of them. “Yet there are, of course, ways in which one can make life easier.” He stepped away from the microphone and spread his arms, using the new space to gesticulate as he was wont to.
“Chiefly, to my mind, is the ability to observe and analyse the world around me, but I’m aware that most people would not agree. Each person here has gone out of their way to do something above and beyond the expectation. You observed and intervened – successfully – and that puts you above the rest of the populous.” Mycroft stood, and Greg and John grinned at him. A few quiet words were exchanged before Mycroft too grinned. As a unit, they caught Sherlock in their gaze. He frowned, and his eyes flashed as they started unbuttoning their coats.
“What you have done may not have been spectacular…” His voice caught as three throats were revealed.
John’s was encompassed in a ring of brown leather with a brushed metal buckle. It had, Sherlock knew, his initials and service number engraved upon it. His lightly tanned skin set the colour off beautifully. Greg’s throat was similarly encased, though his collar was cream, and the metal glinted in the light. His darker skin seemed to glow against that particular shade. Mycroft’s throat was enclosed by the same wing-collared shirt as earlier. Yet as Sherlock stared, his brother’s hand slid into his inside pocket and pulled out a strip of black leather. The detective knew that against his own pale skin the collar stood out. Engraved upon its white-gold plate were four letters: MESH. A statement of belonging.
“…But it was commendable.” He continued on, but his eyes were riveted to the three men in front of him. Dimmock had joined some of the other policemen at another table, and as theirs was the furthest recessed, nobody else could see. “Each of you should be proud; in doing what you have, you’ve proven yourself better than the Yard.” There were a few wry chuckles from the audience, which masked Sherlock’s gasp.
Greg’s coat had fallen open, revealing his new outfit in its entirety. A stunning blood-red corset wrapped around his waist and accentuated his broad shoulders. The corset was highlighted with thread the same colour as his collar. A small movement slipped the sleeves of his coat back far enough to reveal his wrists. A pair of cuffs – again in the cream leather – were locked tightly around slender joints. A D-ring on the inside of the cuffs allowed a twist-lock carabineer to secure them in any position. Sherlock’s eyes drank in the sight, and his body responded fervently. He made himself a mental note to pay his Savile Row tailor a little extra for the discreet cut of his trousers. Getting off the stage would be uncomfortable, but not humiliating.
As he watched, John’s brow wrinkled in a familiar annoyance. His fingers; small and calloused as they were, were struggling to undo the buttons on his coat. With a decidedly evil smirk, Mycroft stepped in behind John. He had Sherlock’s collar around his fist, and an image of Mycroft with his favourite crop in his hand, elegant fingers caressing the length of leather, flashed behind Sherlock’s eyes. He reached for a bottle of supplied water to cover the pause. Mycroft pulled John flush against his chest, hand skimming over exposed flesh to get to the offending button. In a gesture that appeared lewd, he slipped it open. Having stalled for as long as he could get away with, Sherlock set down his bottle and took a steadying breath.
“Each one of you here – apart from Anderson, because he’s not worth the hydrocarbon chains he’s made of – is better than the rest of the population.” Sherlock went to breathe in, and came very close to choking on it. In undoing John’s coat, Mycroft had revealed a huge expanse of muscular flesh. His corset was a stunning emerald green, and ended just below his pectoral muscles. Mycroft’s hands were currently smoothing over this section of skin; fingers grazing occasionally over pebbled nipples. John’s face was flushed, his pupils blown and his hands came up to scrabble at Mycroft’s wrists. Mycroft stopped his torture long enough to grasp John’s wrists by the D-ring on his cuffs – supple brown leather, thicker than Greg’s – and pin them above his head. John’s teeth sank into his bottom lip in an attempt to stay quiet, and Sherlock’s sense memory begged him to release the worried flesh with his own tongue.
“And that, for you,” Mycroft had released John to Greg’s hands (and Greg’s hands were equal parts frustration and comfort), allowing his own to start on his coat. Mycroft’s wasn’t wearing a corset; he was wearing his tuxedo. Yet Sherlock knew there was something more. He was right, of course. In the same hand as Sherlock’s collar he now held a pair of handcuffs. They weren’t Sherlock’s only pair, but they were his favourite. Plain leather, with padded inners, a slip lock keeping them tight together, but meaning they could be separated. Slowly, Mycroft lowered his hand down his body; fingers grazing over straining fabric, to his belt. Sherlock’s eyes widened fractionally as he clipped the cuffs and the collar to the carabineer there. He remembered the last time his cuffs had been clipped to Mycroft’s belt and shuddered as tingles of arousal skittered down his spine. “Is as good as you could ever want.”
The room burst into applause – even Donovan looking vaguely moved by Sherlock’s words – and he bowed lightly. When he made his way out of the crush of people that rose to shake his hand and congratulate him on a good performance, John, Greg and Mycroft weren’t to be seen. He swiped a glass of champagne off a table, downed it, and made his way outside. He hoped that the cool night’s air would go at least a little way toward calming the heat that flared under his skin.
Outside there were a few darkened spots in which he thought he might get away with… relieving himself, but his mind balked at such an idea. Not when John would come home and be more than willing to accommodate him. He aimed for one of the darkened areas as one of the other attendees stepped outside. Immediately he was out of sight of the passing eye, a set of hands would themselves around his waist.
“Did you enjoy the show?” Lestrade, then, though the hands were John’s; small, callous and dexterous. Sherlock hummed his assent as Lestrade’s hands began to map out his front.
“Easy, gentlemen. Don’t reward him quite yet.” Sherlock’s right hand had grasped Greg’s wrists – fingers through the D-rings – and had a thigh wedged between the DI’s. His left hand was slipped under John’s collar, tugging him closer. Both tightened at the sound of Mycroft’s voice rolling across them.
“I’ll admit that I had expected Dr Watson to respond to your advertisement; you’ve been together long enough that he would have discovered your tastes. Yet for Gregory to do so… a shock.” He had stepped forward, and Sherlock had to fight the urge to offer up his throat for his collar to be fastened. Instead he whimpered lightly and rubbed his knee against Greg. “We have talked, and Gregory assures me that it is in the past.” Mycroft’s hand came up to the back of Greg’s neck and stroked tenderly. “But the three of us were unaware of at least one of your other relationships.” He waved a hand and John and Greg stepped away from Sherlock. The detective took a moment to gather himself, before levelling a heated glare at them.
“You speak a pretty words, brother, but leave me wanting all the same. All three of you do.” Mycroft grinned lasciviously.
“It’s my prerogative, you see. It’s my initials on your collar.” Sherlock grunted noncommittally.
“But it’s not theirs.”
“They’re on my orders, which override yours.” Sherlock turned and stalked out of the alley. “Where do you think you’re going?” He paused and met his brother’s gaze.
“221B. Home. You’re welcome to join me.” There was a sputtering noise; John most likely contemplating not being allowed back into the flat.
“All three of us?” John didn’t need to voice the ‘Or just Mycroft?’ Sherlock looked at each of them in turn and then raised his eyebrows coyly.
“At the same time.”