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Of Shampoo and Shears

Chapter Text

"In order to pass this course, you need 800 hours outside of class time in the salon setting. By the end of February you should all have jobs, otherwise it's going to be difficult for any of you to get enough hours."
The class of 16 groaned. Only 4 of them actually had a position in a salon, the rest hadn't been so lucky. The teacher rolled her eyes at the teenagers, why she had ever accepted the role of teaching STUDENTS the fine art of hair design was a mystery, no, it wasn't, the money was fantastic. Teenagers, however, were not as fantastic.

"That's easy for you to say, everywhere I ask says to come back when I have experience, but I need that job to GET experience!" A sulky girl with blue hair whined. John scoffed, he wasn't having any success finding a job either, but you didn't hear him complaining. He put his head back down onto his desk, his skin was starting to itch under the scratchy fabric. He hated the class, he hated being around the same people every single day, he hated the dress code, he hated the complaints, the arguments, everything. And it only started a couple weeks ago. The thought of having the endure this torture for another full year made him want to cry.

"Hey, John, where have you applied?" The small ginger girl sitting next to him asked. She was the only person in the class that would talk to him without making a snide comment, he smiled politely at her, not wanting to lose his one friend in the class.

"Umm, that new store that opened up downtown, by the pawn shop...Envirotrends in the mall by the knife shop, and then Chatters down by Zellers." John sighed, he hadn't exactly put in his best effort either, showing up in a pale cream jumper and cordory slacks, handing in his resume with a simple 'Hey'.

"Really, no luck? I'm sure someone will hire you soon, just keep trying. Try the chains, they can afford assisstants, the small mom-and-pop shops are less likely to be able to afford helpers." Cassie, the red haired girl grinned. She was really shy, but gorgeous in every form. She already had a job apprenticing for a popular company in town, she was one of the lucky ones.

"Quiet you two, alright, next task, open your books and do the worksheet that goes along with it. Pages in the text book 303-338, due on Friday." The instructor hobbled over to the board to write it down, the class sighed in unison, and John felt the increasing urge to shove his curling iron up all of their arses.

"Oh thank God. See you tomorrow Cassie!" John got up from his seat, feeling the sweat on his chest roll in beads down his stomach. It was scorching in the small tin portable they were taught in, and wearing a thick wool sweater all day only turned his body into a raging inferno. He quickly grabbed the heavy stack of textbooks on his desk and raced out the door as quickly as he could, not even nodding a goodbye to any of his classmates; they enraged him, they didn't deserve a departing glance.

"John! John, wait!" He heard the teacher's old voice shriek from just outside the door. Heaving a moan of exhaustion and prolonged suffering, he trudged back up the stairs into the portable, lifting his head up. His bangs clung to his forehead from all the sweat, God, he really had to get home to shower and change.

"Yes Nadia?" He asked, reffering to his teacher by first name-as she determined they should on the first day of classes.

"Have you found a job yet? You really only have a week, or else you'll be working a lot more then you have to be." She asked, she really was looking in for his best interests, John wasn't like everyone else, it took him almost three days to create fingerwaves, whilst everyone else was already done those AND pincurls. He didn't have the natural creativity, to be honest, he really only signed up for the class to get out of a years worth of academics and get a headstart of SOME sort of career. If he never succeeded at what he really wanted to do-he had something to fall back on. However, he wouldn't be able to fall back on it if he continued to suck so much.

"No, I tried, really, but I can't." He hung his head low, hoping she wouldn't notice his haphazard grooming.

"Nichole quit her job at Picasso's, but it's on the other side of town, can you drive? I asked her to put your name in to her boss, i've seen your artistry from your sketchbooks. Your ideas are brilliant, you just need to learn application skills. I think it would be a great place for you to work, they can teach you the skills. They aren't as hands on as a lot of places that students usually get into, but they are far more knowledgable. They do expect a lot more from you though. Would you be able to see them this weekend? Say Hello to the manager? They win at the ABA nearly every single year since they opened, I'd love to see what you would be able to do with their help." The instructor shook his hand, smiling. She tried her best to be liked by her students, but the problem with teacher high school kids is that they just aren't serious enough, even though she see's potential in many students, there's only a few she thinks have the real skill it takes in this profession.

John blinked a couple times, he really didn't want to hand out anymore resume's. Nodding slightly, he smiled back at his teacher.

"Yes, of course! Thank you so much!" He said hurridly, turning around to see which students remained, not wanting to seem rude. Luckily, Nichole was still in the room.

"Thanks Nichole!" He yelled, probably too loudly, he flinched cautiously. He resembled a timid hedgehog to the teacher. He was very shy, stand-offish, even. He only talked to a couple people. The teacher knew it was probably a bit of a ruse, she had witnessed John letting go of his barriers in the salon room, she personally moved all his stuff to the other side of the room because him and Cassie talked obsessively, loudly, distracting themselves from the actual tasks. She was loud, and he was louder, that's why it made her wonder why, when they were in the quiet of the classroom, he put back up all his shields, and bunkered down inside all his layers of clothing.

"No worries, good luck though, you don't need to take the job, trust me, your co-workers will infuriate you to no end. It's not a good place to start out in." Nichole shrugged, gathering her books and leaving. John looked up at his teacher, raising an eyebrow.

"But you're a guy, guy's always have it easier in this industry." She stuck her head back in the door just to make that comment. John sniggered slightly. As true as it was, he couldn't see himself ever being a popular hairdresser, male or not.

"I don't care, I'm grateful to be considered for the job." He shrugged, trying to sound nonchalant about the ordeal. Internally, he was having a minor panic attack, he had to research this place, find out it's practices, his future co-workers, their reputation, everything. He couldn't just walk in blind and expect everything to be handed to him.

"She's right you know. As sexist as it sounds, men have it easier in this industry. You're always supposed to make your clients feel special, like they're your only client, and coming from a man, women fall head over heels for that. Although that being said, most men in the industry are gay." Nadia smirked, patting John on the shoulder. He winced, knowing his sweater was probably damp due to the combination of the humidity of the room and the persperation soaked into the wool.

"Well i'm not gay, but I am a man, that's one out of two..." John smiled, tapping his fingers against his thigh rapidly, itching to get out of the room. Nadia could tell, she had high hopes for John, or maybe it was sympathy? Maybe she could tell he wasn't good at this, and is just trying to help him through the course. They had eleven months left, he wasn't going to survive without any help.

"I'll give the owner your name, go see them on Saturday if you can, hand in your resume, make a good impression." She nodded, not touching his shoulder, John noticed. She must have felt how damp the fabric was, he suddenly felt a wave of self consciousness again. He blushed deeply, his face already red from the heat, he really just wanted to leave, he started tapping his fingers again, his eyes fixated on the floor. Was it even possible for a floor to look so dirty?

"See you tomorrow, John." She said, waving him in dismissal, he perked up, flashing her his teeth in a grin, nodding furiously, his bangs unmoving against his skin, he could almost feel the relief of the breeze against his skin-so close, he was getting anxious now.

"Yes, tomorrow, bye!" He walked at a furious pace, not wanting to seem hurried regardless of how blatantly obvious it was. He picked up his books from where he had discarded them, throwing his backpack over his shoulder, textbooks under his arm as he started his walk home. So close, he could could the steps it took to get back to his house, it was only a fifteen minute walk, and it felt like a lifetime having to heave all of the books along with the bulbous backpack. It was January and there was still a good two feet of snow on the unplowed walkways and fields he had to cross, but his body was on fire. He couldn't stand being trapped in the enclosed space for that long period of time in his thick jumpers. He laughed, he looked at the other teenagers adorned in gloves, scarves, parka's and touques, and here he was wanting to strip himself of clothing to cool off.

"Hopefully they like me enough to give me this job, then I can just get this course over and done with so I never have to touch another single head of hair." He breathed out to simply no one. He knew he wasn't cut out for this profession, ever since he thought that 'product' meant shampoo. His sandy blonde hair was wiped from his brow by his stout fingers, he was started to feel his body temperature cooling off. Only eleven more months, that's it, that's all he had to get through until he was finished and he can finish off the last semester of high school before graduation.

Before he can go back to being a jeans and t-shirt normal teenager working a simple job at a chain grocery store or clothing outlet. Before he can stop pretending to be good at all this. Sure, it was only a couple of weeks, but you can tell when you have a knack for something, right?

"I won't quit, I won't quit...I just have to find a way to make this easier." He whispered to himself, mentally planning the outfit he was going to wear to the shop.

"How about these?" John mulled over the outfit he had chosen to wear for the day; black dress pants, a white longsleeved shirt with dull grey vest. Casual yet chic, trendy and clean without screaming 'individuality' in your face, which, admittedly, isn't the best thing to be screaming at someone who could very well be your boss.
He tossed his pajama bottoms onto his bed, deciding on the outfit. He was nervous, completely shaken with fear. He had handed resume's in before, plenty of times, but none to such a high end place, and never without an actual recommendation. He didn't want Nadia, or anyone else to think they wasted their time by putting in his name.

He had been up for the majority of the night looking up the salon. 'Picasso's', the name echoed in his head. The pixelated images dancing around his imagination, the black and red walls, the salt water fish tank in the lobby, leather couches, and the thing that attracted his attention most; the crystal chandelier that was longer then he was. It made him lose confidence. There were plenty of salons in his town, but he was tired of searching, he wasn't a very paitent person-which also credited to his so far failures in practice. He hoped he would get this job, even if the work experience; like everyone else, was just sweeping floors and cleaning colour brushes.

Dressed in his code appropriate outfit, he double checked his resume, making sure there were no crinkles in the paper or anything that could be construde as careless. John exhaled, his short blonde hair brushed and styled, slightly spikey rather then its usual flat curve. If there was anything he was learning from hair school, it was how to make his frustratingly short hair look presentable. Passing a glace at his closet, he made a small sound in his throat. He couldn't wait until he was allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts again. The program had an impossible dress code. Nothing with a pattern, design, number, logo, word, letter of any kind, and no 'unapproved fabrics' such as jean, denim, spandex, or polyester. They were resorted to black dress pants and plain coloured dress shirts. Nothing frumpy. Luckily, being a male, he didn't have to adhere to the grueling makeup code the girls did. There was only one rule to makeup, the more the merrier, and if you didn't wear any, you got a strike for not looking your best.

It was an extreme amount of torture, for him at least. Briefly, John wondered if it really was worth not having to do academics anymore, but, he had paid the costly $900 for the kit, he might as well get the credits for the course. Besides, the kit was his to keep, he could always give it to someone he knew, or even do hair on the side to make his way through university. There was a positive side to having to dress nicely every day.

"Alright..." He breathed, swinging his arms in preparation. "Time to get this over with." He left his rom, tromping down the stairs without any sort of grace or refinement.

"Mum, i'm heading off to find a job, be back soon." He yelled into the house, hoping his mother would hear him. He doubted she was still home, but at least it couldn't be said that he didn't try. Snatching the car keys off the hook and pulling on a loose coat, he opened the door, braving the cold atmosphere. Sinking down in snow that was up to his knees, he swore under his breath, what a wonderful first impression, walking into a prestigious salon with wet trousers, after all that effort to look presentable. Shrugging, figuring they would understand, he opened the car door, praying the engine of his Festiva would even work. The car was nearly twenty years old and not on it's best legs, but figuring it's lasted him all the other typical winters in this location, one more day couldn't do any more harm.

When he arrived at the salon, the first thing to catch his attention was the location. It wasn't a building of its own, nor was it eyecatching. Located right across from a vacuum shop,. a butcher and produce stand, there was nothing eloquent or refined about it at all. Nevertheless, John parked his small car in the parking lot, thanking all the deities he knew about that they had shovelled the lot. He walked up to the front door, taking a huge breath in, and he couldn't tell if he shaking from the cold, or from his shot nerves. Either way he felt a wave of doubt flood him and dissapate as easily as waves come and go, but he pushed it aside and pushed open the large glass door.

Oh it was so warm in the building, and it smelled so nice, like vanilla flowers and honey, not at all like a typical salon at all. He felt like he was melting, all the cold was leaving him, leaving his limbs numb but functional. He heard the music playing in the background, store-wide stereosystem, nice.

"Hi, may I help you?" The blonde receptionist asked from over the counter. There were business cards stacked in little boxes all over the desk, and a large glass vase of fake flowers, how could anyone even see over it? John walked to the little gap between the wall and counter, smiling at her, she was dressed really well-and tan too! How the heck did she get a tan in the middle of winter? It wasn't fake, no, it didn't have that hideous underlying orange pigment.

"I...I'm here to submit my resume, i'm looking for work experience hours to complete my hair design training." He held his head high, feigning confidence. She relaxed slightly when she chuckled in a high pitched fashion, but his hopes sank when she opened a drawer and carelessly shoved his resume inside without even looking at it. He opened his mouth to say something about it when she finished.
"Nichole told us about you, you're name is what again?" She was nice, albeit the only person he had met in the place, and no one else had come over to the desk, so he wasn't able to see anyone else. The reception desk was nicely hidden by a large red and black striped wall and a row of retail product, preciesly placed so you couldn't see into the salon without going directly into it.

"John, i'm John Watson." He said, his breath sounding out of place, he was tempted, so tempted to just stare at the floor, or somewhere else, but he retained eye contact as best as he could, trying not to seem out of place. The receptionist smiled and grabbed a small ticket of paper from the drawer and a pen, scribbling something on it. He had never had the ability to read upside down, it was useless trying.

"My name's Jamie, and I'm going to be the one you're assissting for-all our work experience people work under me first. You'll pretty much just sweep hair, wash dishes, tidy up the place in general. Right now we have another girl doing those janitorial duties for another month or so, so we'll only need you on Saturdays right now, which is perfect because then you get all day with me. I work Saturdays and mornings and Lynsey works evenings. You'll meet her soon enough. I'll see you next Saturday then?" She wrote everything on that piece of paper and handed it to John, his heart lifted ten-fold, he couldn't believe it, he didn't even need to say anything, they just HANDED over the job to him without any questions or anything.
Nodding a hurried 'yes', John pocketed the makeshift schedule, reaching over to shake his new boss' hand.
"Thank you so much! This really means a lot to me." He smiled, showing teeth, his nerves were shot again, but due to excitement and complete disbelief. That was the easiest thing he had ever had to do.

"I would introduce you to everyone, but there's two bridal parties and everyone's busy, but you'll get to meet everyone next week. I'll just go inform Sherlock and the others to expect someone new next week." The blonde, Jamie, said, shaking John's hand, she could tell he was sweet, kindhearted, and completely new to this sort of environment, not like most people they usually took on that made their own hours and didn't even show up half the time.

John left the salon feeling happier then he had in a long time. She didn't even notice his wet pants-and if she did she didn't notice, or it didn't make any difference. He hadn't gotten a chance to meet any of his coworkers, but he knew that if anything else, Jamie was nice, and she'd look after him. He felt giddy when he got into the car to drive back home. He had so much to tell Cassie.
"How funny...I don't even really want to finish the course, but maybe things will change once I see how a real salon does it." He thought out loud to himself, huffing. He knew school was just a difficult transitioning period, he'd get used to it eventually. At the very least he'd complete all the requirements to graduate the program and get on with his life, never to speak of it again. It was difficult to be the only straight male in a class of perky teenage girls and a gay guy who don't take you seriously in the business because you're "convinced" you're still straight. Eleven more months to go, but at least now he had the job.

"Jamie, who was that?" Sherlock peered around the corner, holding a marcell iron in one hand and a round brush in the other.

"New work experience kid. He was well groomed, shy but friendly. I think he'll be better then the other's we've had." The cheerful receptionist went back to her typing of folders and organizing appointments, not concerned what Sherlock said, she was the one in charge of hiring help. Sherlock shrugged, his mop of defined dark curls bouncing when he moved. He had too much work to be concerned with who was on janitorial duties.

"As long as this one actually does his job. All our other helpers sit in the back room and gossip, I can't even get my station swept." He called out to the front, his voice coarse and almost raspy. His accent was undeniably English, full of all stoic mannerisms and refinement. He didn't belong owning the only high end salon within one hundred miles in the countryside but there was no way he could handle the high pressure, high octane competition of being located in the city anymore. He did that for nearly a decade, he won award after award for stlyes and cuts and transformations, but it got to him. He broke down and turned to recreational drugs and cigarettes, went bankrupt and discontinued his product line. It took nearly two years to get back on his move, flee the country and start a brand new life in the middle of nowhere where people didn't know who he was or where he came from, much less did they care.

Sure, once word got out that we was the best stylist within a hundred mile radius, people started coming to him, he got busy, almost overloaded. But he handled it differently, he hired good staff, he carried other products that weren't his own, he had a nice little niche going for him. Once that was in control he started entering competitions again, and winning, undoubtedly. This time was different though. Once he figured out how to control the stress and his temper levels, he was able to handle things being added onto his day. It was a busy life; a lonely life, but a busy one.

Chapter Text

Next Saturday came really fast, and although he started at nine, John had been up since six trying to figure out what to wear, how to look perfect for his first day.
"Oh what if they think I look sloppy?" He paced beside his bed, his hands on his forehead. He had been up for two and a half hours just wondering what to wear. He had showered twice already, making sure he was clean enough, he had pulled out every article of clothing he could consider showy enough. Something better then what he wore to school but not overly fancy. He still had to be able to function at the end of the day, so something light.
"I can't decide!" He ran his fingers through his short hair, looking at his options. Taking a quick glance at the clock which read '8:34' his eyes grew wide. He threw on a black long sleeved shirt, slipping a red plaid vest over top. Chic. Definitely a modern look. Taking a second glance in the mirror, he slipped on his polished dress shoes, heading down the stairs to start his first day at work.

"Nice to see you, John. Ready to start work?" Jamie greeted the adolescent boy with as much exuberance as when she first met him. John smiled, he wasn't used to being surrounded by people so much older then he was. It made him feel young and weak, and susceptible to insults and teasing. Growing up with an older sister and her friends, he knew age was something mocked.

"Hi Jamie, am I late?" He looked around, noticing the salon was already full of people running around, hair spray flying, covering everything in a thin powdery layer of the sticky aerosol concoction. Discretely checking his watch, he noticed he was still four minutes early.
"No, we open at nine everyday, but on Saturday's, Sherlock takes on bridal parties so we open earlier. Not everyone shows up, it's strictly for weddings, no actual appointments. Don't worry, you're not late." Jamie smiled, noticing how tense he looked.
"Come, I'll show you to the back room, show you how to work everything." She extended her hand in an effort to make the boy feel welcome. She obviously seemed to trust him enough. Without another word, John followed her back, past everyone rushing around, long streams of crinoline and lace spilling onto the floor, bobby pins littered left right and center, and the unmissable stench of burnt hair. He could feel the pairs of eyes silently judging his presence. It was an awful feeling, he shrunk into his clothing, hunching his shoulders higher.

"Here's the back room, where most of the stylists hang out on their breaks. It's gossip central, but it's also your main hub. The washing machine needs to be constantly used, same with the dryer. We've never had a moment when one of them isn't going, or both, although we don't recommend using both at the same time; it tends to cut the power when a lot of people are working. The product shelves need to always be topped up, check the stocks to see if they need filling, and the dishes must always be done because otherwise no one can use the sink, and then you're stuck with grumpy coworkers." The tall blonde woman swept her arm over the room in a wide motion. John's eyes widened at the unbelievable mess. He couldn't believe how the rest of the salon could look up clean and yet the staff room was overloaded with an unfathomable amount of trash.
There were two full garbage bags loosely tied and stored under the counter; empty colour boxes stacked on the shelf with wet stains of colour oozing all over the counter. Bowls filled with unused colour gels and fillers piled high in the sink, not even washed, whilst the dry dishes weren't even put away. The last thing he noticed was that the dryer was empty but all the laundry in the basket was overflowing onto the floor that was encrusted with grim and dirt and mounds and mounds of hair.

"This is...well..I have my work, don't I?" He joked, trying to seem casual, knowing he failed. At that moment, Sherlock burst open the door, taking long strides to the corner of the room, which took two steps considering how small the back room was. He wore a tight fitting purple silk shirt and black pants that clung to his legs like a second skin. Around his neck he wore a blue fashion scarf, hiding the graceful run of his neck. He was a man on a mission, and he looked utterly terrifying. Just being in his presence made John feel inferior and inadequate.
"New kid?" He asked suddenly, breaking the silence. Since John and Jamie were the only other people in the room, John figured he MUST be talking to him. His tongue was dry, he couldn't quite get his voice to work.
"Y-yes, I'm here for work experience." He managed to get out, feeling silly sounding so meek. Sherlock made a low sound in his throat, not even facing him, his hands flying all over the shelves, knocking bottle after bottle over, carelessly tossing the tubes of colour on every available space.
"Hopefully you actually GET experience. Don't make this be another one of Jamie's mistakes." His voice was almost a croon; sultry and rich. John's legs tingled, feeling weak suddenly, he reached back and held onto the door frame so he didn't lose balance. With that remark, Sherlock turned back, new bowl and brush in hand, leaving behind a new mountain of mess and chaos.

"Don't worry, he'll warm up once he gets to know you. That is, if he likes you, which means I'll quickly show you the rest of your duties and then leave you to it." Jamie took John around the rest of salon, showing him the sink stations, and the bathroom and stock rooms, showing him how to organize the magazines in the waiting area and, finally, the order book.
"Orders go out on Tuesday and since I don't know when you'll be here on Tuesdays since they get done in the morning and you have school, but just in case, here's how to sort it." With that she passed him a pair of latex gloves and watched him sort the bin of discarded colour, including the empty tubes and boxes strewn on the counter top, adjusting his mistakes and correcting him as need be. It was a fairly simple concept and John got the hang of it rather quickly, so there was no need for Jamie to chastise him.

"Well looks like you know what to do, the key for the garbage is on the front desk beside the tip jars, it's next door, just unlock the door and head down the stairs, the disposal bin is in the back of the parking lot." Jamie had showed him everything that needed to be done, and had casually mentioned how none of it had been done in a long time. 'Evidently' John had caught himself thinking when she said it. He heaved a sigh, oh well, this was the job he signed up for, better do it right if he planned on keeping it.

It took John over three hours to clean the back room. In that time he had changed the laundry twice, folding and putting away the towels as they came out of the dryer. He bleached the counters until no colour was evident on the faux marble platform. He had gotten the front of his vest soaked when trying to do the dishes, as the nozzle was stuck for some reason, and had sprayed all over him. All the cups and plates were put away leaving nothing on the rack nor in the sink, all the bowls and brushes were towel dried and put away, and he had even scrubbed all the grime and hair from the floor, leaving it close to sparkling.
By the end of it, he was exhausted, and close to collapsing on the closest folding chair, but he was far from being finished. Luckily, things were steadily busy in the salon and he had seen only bits and pieces of people, never having a proper opportunity to introduce himself. For some reason it calmed him down a lot, he was helping them and at the same time, never had to talk to them. The short teenager chuckled, realizing that he wasn't going to be able to get away with that forever, the other part of him was just thankful it hasn't happened quite yet.

Dragging out the three full bags of trash, after putting a brand new one in the container; John grabbed the key from the reception desk, turning to where Jamie normally sat, to say where he was going. Instead of Jamie, however, sat the lanky boss of the place, his abyssal eyes boring into John's skull, a shroud of silence stunned the blonde adolescent in his tracks. He searched for something to say, and stuck with a -somewhat- casual greeting.
"Hi." He whispered, eyes falling to the floor again. He backed up, dragging his plastic bags with him, when Sherlock rose from the seat; suddenly seeming taller then he normally appeared. His face was all lines and angles, no soft curves whatsoever.

"Where have you been? I thought Jamie hired you." He questioned, his accent was intimidating, and his voice was asperous in the highest sense. John felt so inferior next to him.
"She did, I the back room." He muttered, his words slurred together. He started inching towards the door, he was so close, he just wanted to leave. Sherlock, however, apparently had different plans, as he had put his spindly fingers upon John's small shoulder, looking the boy over with an eye of regard. He rose a thin eyebrow, his face reeking of skepticism.
"Cleaning? How many magazines did you manage to go through?" He asked, not in a casual manner, no. His tone meant blame, and disapproval. The accusation made John lift his head up swiftly, glaring at him as hard as he could muster without shrinking back.
"I took out the pile of magazines, I did all the laundry, put all way all your bowls and brushes and even sorted the product shelves that everyone else seems to disregard. It was a mess back there, go see for yourself." Never before had John been so bold to an authority figure. He realized how crude he sounded and instantly felt the cold hand burn his shoulder; it wasn't literally burning, but it certainly felt like it was.

Instead of being mad, however, his answer seemed to satisfy some previously unknown part of Sherlock that was craving for some outburst or expression of emotion. He smiled an almost sardonic grin, patting John on the shoulder before whispering into his ear; his breath hot, feeling like it was melting the boy, his accent thick and seductive.
"Now that we know what you can do; be prepared for high expectations."

Six o'clock couldn't have come earlier. The rest of John's day was fairly uneventful, he had swept and cleaned all the station mirrors, disinfected every single chair in the salon, he mopped the floors twice, and kept the laundry constantly on cycle. At five thirty most of the stylists had gone home for the weekend, Saturday being the day the salon was closed early. It was only John, Jamie and Sherlock left. Jamie was busy filling in the appointment books for the following week, Sherlock was re-organizing his scissor drawers, and John was doing what every good janitor does; sweeping for the umpteenth time today.

In the silence of the salon, Sherlock was the first to speak.
"You worked hard today, John." He said, not looking up from the pile of metal sheers and leather holders that cluttered his small counter top. John jumped when he heard his name, looking around the salon at how nicely everything was cleaned up. He nodded, before realizing that Sherlock couldn't see him, so he made the move to respond.
"Thanks. Everyone here is...really nice, I enjoyed it." John was only partially lying. He started work on a perfect day, he only had time to say hello to two other stylists, and he couldn't even remember which was which, so he forgot them. They had all thanked him for working though, which made him feel appreciated, even if he was just the cleaner.

"Really? Enjoyed cleaning up our mess?" Sherlock scoffed, placing his sheers gingerly inside their respective holders. John grabbed the dustbin and swept up the last of the hair and dust that he had accumulated.
"Well...I'm grateful for the opportunity to experience the proper salon environment, and if in return for being able to observe, I have to clean, that doesn't seem like a bad trade off to me." John said with far more confidence than he had walked in with. His change was pleasing Sherlock, showing him he wasn't just a timid little hedgehog, but indeed a hair dresser worthy of working under a man with his repertoire. His statement was either amusing or shocking to the older man, as he let out a throaty laugh that echoed throughout the entire empty salon. John didn't ask what that laugh meant, he was slightly frightened now, afraid that he just wasn't cut out for the job. He felt the mocking, patronizing tone hidden beneath that sardonic smirk.

"Well I'll leave Jamie to close up, I'm going home. See you on Tuesday." The tall man got out of his chair, packing away the last little bit of his stuff. Walking up to John, he clapped his hand on his shoulder, leaning close to him.
"Keep up the good work, you're turning out to be one of the best helpers we've had."

The voice sent shivers racing down John's body, he was not prepared for that kind of reaction. Squeaking in reply, his face flushed of all colour, he forced himself to look at the world renown man in front of him, his light hazel eyes locking onto eyes that were the ocean's envy. He wasn't sure what he was feeling, but gaining the elders approval felt a Hell of a lot like attraction. John wished in the back of his mind, that Sherlock wouldn't look away, he wanted him to see what was behind his face. If the eyes were the doorway to one's soul, as John wished at that moment were true; he wanted Sherlock to see everything.

"Don't make me regret that." The deep voice captivated the younger boy, making him forget all basic cognitive function, and in a split second Sherlock was gone again, out the front door, not another word of departure. He suddenly felt empty, like his reason for living escaped him.
'Oh God' He thought. 'Am I...with...him?' The silent question begged to be spoken, but he suffocated the urge.

"Thank you so much for your help, John. We're done now, don't worry, I'll let him know you only work weekends." Jamie winked at John, who put away the broom and bound over towards the front door, he had lost track of time after it went quiet, now he was itching to go home and tell everyone about his first day.
"No, I can work afternoons if you like?" He asked, eager to see Sherlock again, getting greedy for approval. Jamie smiled at him.
"We could give it a try, alright, we'll see you Tuesday. Have a good weekend, John." She waved to him as he left through the glass doors, his heart feeling light and his head feeling giddy. He really hoped Sherlock was truly impressed with him, he didn't want to disappoint him.

Chapter Text

"So you think he's bipolar?"

John and Cassie were sitting in the small school cafeteria, it was entirely empty due to the hair students having a different lunch schedule then the rest of the school. John had been telling his ginger friend about his first day, not skipping the part where Sherlock had burst the personal space bubble by leaning in so close to him. She couldn't believe it either, based on what John had told her about him making snippy comments one moment and then pressing closer and telling him how wonderful he was the next. They had come up with several conclusions to this, the most realistic was that he suffered from bi-polar syndrome and couldn't help it.

"No, not bipolar. I don't know what it is, I just think he's testing me, making sure I'm not lazy or anything. Nichole said they had high expectations of their staff." He leaned back in his chair, lifting it off it's front two legs. It was only Monday, he didn't have to work again until Saturday, but there was this urge, this unsettling in his stomach. He had to show them he was the best and he was cut out for this job. It amused him in the back of his mind, he wasn't even sure he wanted this as a career, but now, all he wanted to do was go everyday if it meant he would gain the approval of the hair mogul. Granted, all he knew about the stylist was that he was one of the best in town and he had an English accent. Tonight, he vowed, he would do some more research on this guy. Right now he had to finish his lunch before the bell rang.

"When are you going in again?" Cassie asked.
"Tomorrow after school, I haven't really met any of the other staff either though, just said hello to a couple of them." John said, he felt like a child waiting for their birthday, so close, he could almost see the calendar switching. Cassie raised her eyebrow at him.
"Just be careful, he doesn't sound exactly stable, you know. This isn't your only job option you know, you could always cheat." She shrugged, mildly concerned for her friend's safety. John rolled his eyes back at her and blushed, he wasn't ready to tell her that he found his boss attractive quite yet. There was always time for THAT shock.

Three o'clock rolled around and John nearly sprinted home to pick up his car and drive to work. Class wasn't any better today as it had been the previous four weeks. It was monotonous and drawl, and he was forced to feel uncomfortable being taunted by the only other guy in the class. A homosexual boy named Jesse, who was, as it stood, incredibly popular due to his high natural skills and bubbly personality. He wasn't sexually aroused by him, no, but the heavy forced flirting and personal questions made the timid blonde boy very uncomfortable. He mostly squeaked out at him a small whimpered 'I'm not gay' and was responded to with a loud 'Well, I am' from the more outgoing male. This was an awkward situation, John felt the shrieks in the back of his head:
"You are, don't deny it. Maybe not for him, but you know you like Sherlock."
The accusation, and that knowledge made those taunts and teases unbearable, because deep down, John knew it was true. He had never had a girlfriend, and he appreciated the female figure, but he wanted to have Sherlock's complete and unwavering attention, and only his attention. Was he looking for the older man's approval, or was it really something deeper?

God, he hadn't felt this was since middle school, when he first found out what a crush was and that he, indeed, as a young prepubescent boy, had one. He was confused, all these labels and definitions danced in his head as he was forced to pick one and stick with it's name. But he wasn't really comfortable with a name or a term or label. Instead, he found solace with the one that came with the least baggage:

But now, he was starting to question that too. After five years of being comfortable with some sort of mainstream identity, he was once again thrown into the torrent of confusion and questioning that went along with being a teenager suffering from the stimulus of other people.
Some days all he wanted to do was find the one person he wanted to take to bed and just stay there, happy, with a partner of any kind and just stay like that the rest of his life, without the public's prying eye to silently judge him as he walked down the sidewalk.

Unfortunately he wanted that partner to be Sherlock, his boss who happened to be over a decade over than he was.

"We weren't expecting you today." Jamie said pleasantly as John entered the door to the salon. It was considerably less busy today, John noticed. He gulped slightly, not sure what that meant about staffing and whom he was to expect sitting, waiting for him in the back room. There were only two stations in use, Sherlock's and a stylist with very puffed up, backcombed hair.
"I said I'd be in. Hey, I thought you said you only work mornings?" He asked, leaning on the reception desk casually, trying to act nonchalant in the environment he still knew nothing about.
"Lynsey called in sick today so I'm stuck here all day. We're open until Eight on weekdays, are you sure you want to stay the entire time? You don't have to." Jamie was trying to give him an out, with school and homework to do, being stuck cleaning for five hours wasn't the most enjoyable thing for the teenager to be doing, and she knew that.

"Yes, I'm sure. Besides, the faster I get these hours done, the better. I'm used to not sleeping so nothing will really change by me working a couple weekdays." He shrugged, propelling himself back up and walking towards the back room, he was curious as to what happened to that other work experience girl they had, the one that was supposed to be doing weekdays. They never even mentioned her. Setting his small bag down on the shelf, John looked at the room, trying desperately to hide his disgust at the state of things in the salon. It was unused for two days, and they had only been open for 6 hours. How the heck could nine adults get a room so messy?

"Hey, new kid." One of the older stylists said to him as he opened up the dryer to fold the clean towels. John turned around to face her. She was pretty. Tan, tall and all leg. Dressed in lavish clothing and heavy metal jewellery, she looked more like a model then a hair dresser.
"Yes?" The blonde boy replied, dumping the towels into the basket, taking them over to the small counter to get them ready.
"I'm Jenn, there's two of us, don't get confused." She crossed her legs elegantly, making the small skirt she wore inch up even more. John flushed and forced himself to concentrate on his task. These people were much older than he was, he shouldn't be thinking nasty things about them. Especially not when-was that a wedding ring? Christ almighty, she was married. Of course.

"I...won't. Don't worry." He turned away from her, facing the wall, stacking towels beside him so he didn't have to look at her. She was gorgeous and he knew it, but she was also married, and who knew what she could do if she suspected him of inappropriate thoughts?
"How old are you? You're so shy, don't worry. We don't bite, really. Well, Sherlock will, but only if you're into that sort of thing."
John's heart stopped, his head felt ten times heavier than normal and his legs felt boneless. What did he tell them?

He felt lightheaded when she let out a humoured laugh. He knew his eyes were wider than normal, and he had completely ceased his job when she mentioned that little tidbit of information. His internal organs were fluttering out of control.
"I'm just teasing you kiddo! He only looks scary, and if you do your job right, he's as harmless as a kitten." Jenn sat back up and patted John's shoulder. 'They all seem to do that.' He observed, thinking about the numerous pats his shoulder had received since he started.
"Oh, well...I met him on Saturday, he seems...professional." John chose the safest road on that one, not too mean, no.

"You know how to keep tactful. I like that. It won't get you far in this industry, however. To get good relationships with your coworkers, you have to gossip, you have to lie and go behind everyone's back. You'll hear that enough around here, and I'm only warning you so you don't go blabbing your mouth off to everyone that walks in here." Jenn smirked from behind John. He smiled awkwardly back and resumed his task. He had his work cut out for him today, and he couldn't stop and sit to chat when there was so much to clean.
"And you work. THAT, on the other hand, will get you very far here. Sherlock likes that a lot, unfortunately it won't get you anywhere here other than his respect, since he doesn't hire people so new out of school. How old ARE you anyway?" She asked again, it annoyed John slightly, he didn't answer the first time, mostly because he felt so young and immature standing next to these people with numbers in the double digits of experience above him. It was superficial and a farce, but he guessed he had to face it.

"I'm seventeen. Still in school, we have the hair school at the collegiate, so we start younger than most people." John explained, now finished folding the towels, he went back over to the machine to load up the washer. He heard a small chuckle-was it sympathy? Pity? He didn't know, but he hated the sound of it, it made him feel even less like he belonged than he already had.
"I didn't even start until I was twenty-two, but by that point I was able to enter competitions and stuff without parental consent."

"Are you bothering John, Jenn?" Cue the voice sharper than a sword's blade, as the man it belonged to entered the room.
"Are you going to put away those towels, John?" He continued, walking over to the counter John had just cleaned of all fresh colour stains. Suppressing the urge to groan outwardly and tell him to be neater with the gels, John backed away to give the taller man more room.
"Y-yes, I was just going to do that, but the far sink was being used." John said in his quiet voice, his brain trying to override his speech function by telling him to look at Sherlock's shapely rear.

"It's free now, you can put them away once you're done here. And Jenn, be nice, this one actually cleans."
With that he left. As abruptly as he showed up. John was left feeling hot and bothered, thanking whatever deity he could think of that his pants were looser than the ones he normally wore. His erection wasn't impeding, but it was certainly uncomfortable. He felt suddenly self conscious, choosing the safest way to avoid being caught in this situation, he went to the sink to wash the leftover dishes, turning away from both the open door and the staff counter where Jenn sat with a proud smile on her face. She was really starting to annoy John, she looked like a child teasing their friend in primary school. He could practically hear the 'I know your secret'.
Once his body calmed down and he was in control again, John put away the now clean bowls, and scooped up the neat pile of navy blue towels to fold them away in their shelves.

He could sense the unspoken words left in the room when he departed, he was starting to like his coworkers less by the minute. it was only day two though, and he hadn't had enough time to talk to Sherlock alone, yet. He wasn't on equal terms with his boss yet. He figured it would take a couple weeks of diligent work and cleaning proficiently for his boss to give him one-on-one time to discuss more personal things.
John had relayed different scenarios in his head, possible conversations reeling around inside of his head, both unrealistic and plausible at the same time. Some were so unrealistic, they would make teenage novelists shake their heads in embarrassment.

The end of the day came by at a snail's pace. Never had five hours seemed so drawn out before. By seven o'clock, John was ready to just sit on the couch in the lobby, curl up with a magazine and sleep. Afternoon shift was so boring, the salon had cleared out fairly fast, by five the only stylists left were Sherlock, Jenn, and a chubby punk rocker stylist named Angie.
She was nice enough, he thought. They had talked for some time in the back room as he refilled the colour boxes that were stacked on the very top shelf. She told him all about some of her work, and, coincidentally, gone to the same hair school he had gone to. She was only four years older than he was, so he didn't feel so out of place. When he asked her why Sherlock hired someone so young, she seemed flattered, not interested, but that seemed to get the shy blonde into her good books.

John didn't feel so out of place at that moment. He was friendly, his coworker seemed to like him enough to joke with him, and his brain didn't revolve around Sherlock and his-albeit gorgeous-untouchable arse.

Now, however, the sky was dark outside, the huge windows displaying only the streetlights and shadows from passerby's. No definitive shape or outline of an object, just a misshapen shadow across the light tiles of the salon.
Jenn had just left the salon as her clients were all finished for the day, and that left Angie, who was washing up her last client of the day, Sherlock, who had two on the go with back to back colour and highlights, and Jamie, who was sitting at the front, tapping away at some unknown document. More then likely she was really on Facebook or some fool thing, since her job meant she just sat behind the desk all day to answer phones and work schedules. She didn't talk to John much today, she was rather busy trying to revise Sherlock's weekend bookings and an appearance at a conference in Vancouver for Sunday.

John had finished all of his daily tasks, he even did some of them twice just to alleviate the boredom. He wouldn't have minded doing the tasks so much if Sherlock bothered to mention it. Or if he got paid. Money was a huge incentive to do work, and being the sole salon janitor was too big of a job to be done for free, work experience or not. He felt like rioting, on his second day. 'Yeah, that's a wonderful way to make friends, by complaining about having the damn job in the first place.'

"You don't have to stay until we close, you know." Jamie noticed the way John sulked through the lobby, looking wistfully at the deep pillowed couch that wrapped around the entire space. John looked up sharpy. Busted.
"If I don't stay now, I'll have more days to show up, right? Just getting it over and done with. Besides, this place needs all the cleaning help it can get." He laughed, glad to be able to joke about certain things. It was astounding how much really did need to be cleaned in a salon the size of a small apartment.
Jamie looked at him skeptically, possibly questioning his motives for wanting to work so late into the night, he was very enthusiastic about it.

"I just don't want you to over tire yourself so you end up hate working here. It's only your second day, you don't have to prove anything to us, just show up. Heck, you're the first person since this place opened that actually tried to get the stains off the counter. You have done more cleaning in two days than any of our other work experience people combined in their entire times." Jamie noticed him eyeing the couch in lustful disdain, he needed rest, work on top of school and the prospect of having to do homework still before the promise of dinner and bed was too much for the boy. One day was alright to see how it would work, but maybe if he left at six it would be easier.

"Well, I could stay until six on weekdays if I have homework." John looked exhausted, he deserved to, he single handed dusted the many crystal chandeliers, candle holders, and vases in the entire salon. Even Jamie, who started working here the same time Sherlock had, had never seen the place look cleaner since the first time it opened. John was very disappointed though; he went through all this work, and Sherlock still hadn't said anything to him. He was starting to feel like a brat-well of course! He doesn't appreciate me, and neither does anyone else except from Jamie, but she doesn't count. He thought in the same grumpy tone a child would give their mother when told to wash up.

He glanced at his watch again. 7:12pm. He let out a sigh. 'Oh well' he thought, 'The floors could use another scrubbing.'

"John, do you want a ride home?" Sherlock asked him, making John jump slightly. It was the first thing the stylist had said to him in over three hours, and the only personal comment made all day to him. John shook his head, trying to meet the older man's gaze.
"No thank you, I have my own car." He smiled back, things were just wrapping up, within minutes they would be separated again, John made a desperate attempt to save any sort of conversation he could.
"But thanks for the offer, but besides, I live across town." He mentally pinched himself several harsh times for pulling such a stupid line, he knew better, it was just the first thing he thought of. The apprentice thought Sherlock could smell his desperate plea for communication, which, in reality, wasn't too far off from the truth. Sherlock, however, couldn't resist indulging the boy.

"Where do you live?" Smirking behind his deadpan expression, this was too easy.
"By the lake, small townhouse really, but it's a fairly far way." John's heart skipped several beats, he was having a true, honest to goodness conversation with Sherlock alone. Finally!
"I'm not familiar with this town too much, I just work here when I'm not doing competitions in Vancouver, and even that's too small for my taste." The older man allowed himself to smile, his accent thick and laced with a touch of sadness. Mourning? Did he miss where he had come from? Or was it normal for people to miss somewhere they've chosen to leave?
"Vancouver's small to you? Then you'd hate where I grew up, there were less then one hundred residents and I only met the neighbours twice." John laughed, struggling to find even ground with his boss. He craved this bonding session, needed it, needed to feel like he was more than a child in high school.

"I was born and raised in the heart of London, that's where I built my career, but, let's just say life strikes you with a blunt object and the next thing you know...well, I was pretty much excommunicated from my family and friends, and my entire career went down the loo. This is pretty much directly across the world from where I come from, and I wanted to go as far as possible." Sherlock didn't reveal any truly personal blows, but enough to make John feel absolutely horrible from just listening to the brief retelling. He was immediately ashamed of asking, so he said the first thing that came to mind.
"I'm...sorry to hear that." Stupid, stupid, are you serious? That's what you came up with? What's wrong with-
"Thanks kiddo. It's kind of nice though, not having to worry about all that paperwork and patents and licensing and all that stuff. It's a much slower pace here then what I'd like, but it's comfortable, I like to keep myself busy." Sherlock patted John's shoulder, his fingers lingering slightly longer then was absolutely necessary.

"I don't know how you manage it." John joked, his voice going softer than normal, he looked up at his boss, the twenty seven year old man with more red in his ledger than any other person John knew. The man that had a world renown reputation working in a small salon in rural North Western Canada, the man who escaped public hatred and eyes by running away and hiding. So many secrets lay behind those tired, lonely eyes, and John wanted to discover every single one of them.

"Having someone who listens helps." Sherlock's eyes were two obsidian orbs in the middle of a milky expanse of skin, all within reaching distance of John's face. If he would just lean in closer...he could already smell the unique cologne smell that was so strangely singular to Sherlock. John wanted to breathe it in forever, he wanted to be contaminated with the smell, it felt so comforting, like being home.

Without warning, Sherlock whipped around, snagging his heavy navy coat from the rack, opening the big glass entrance door and holding it open for John.
"Coming?" His deep voice faded by the time it reached John's ears. trying to gather his composition, John raced out the door, he had already been ready to leave for nearly half an hour now, just waiting to be let go, but he didn't want to go until Sherlock had spoken to him, and he couldn't imagine that their conversation would have turned out to be so intimate.

It was still snowing when he left, I was February, it had been snowing since early November and wouldn't stop until mid April, so he wasn't surprised to find when he left the salon that he instantly felt the accumulated heat leave his body. He couldn't wait to get home.

Unfortunately, his car had other plans.

"Come on you piece of shit, start!" He cried, uselessly kicking the floor of the fourteen year old car he owned. He was close to breaking down himself, he had tried multiple times to get his car to run, failing every time as the engine stalled and died. Sherlock, who had parked three stalls down, had been listening for John to leave, not knowing whether or not the kid's car would survive the drive home. Smiling to himself, he got out of his six month old model car and strode towards the frustrated teenager looking on the verge of breaking down, having just been through such a long, tiresome day.

"You okay?" He said, tapping on the glass window, startling John slightly. After he rolled down the window, Sherlock stuck his head inside the vehicle- it was absolutely freezing!
"What's wrong with it?" The older man asked, noticing the tears threatening to fall from John's light hazel eyes. John looked up at him with the same expression as a lost puppy dog, yearning for someone to love him.
"I don't know, I just...I don't know, and I can't get home, but I'm tired and cold and, this piece of crap won't even work for me." He suffocated the urge to cry, for a completely pathetic reason, he just felt like breaking down. He hadn't eaten in over twelve hours, and with all the work he had just done, he was grumpy, tired, hungry and remembering all that homework he hadn't done during the day and still had to finish before tomorrow. Sherlock took pity on the poor boy, who had probably lived a rather lavish life up until now, forced to work, forced to gain time management skills, and here he was after a true days of hard work, on the edge of a cliff, looking down, not knowing what to do next.

"Look, my car's fine, I can give you a ride home tonight, and you can come tomorrow after work to pick it up if it decides to work then." Sherlock reached his hand inside the car and manually unlocked the door, opening it to extend his hand even further in a comforting gesture. John looked up at his boss, he felt accepted by him, like he really did care. A simple gesture exaggerated tenfold because of his feelings. He took the keys out of the ignition and pressed down the lock buttons for both doors, he really wanted to get out of the cold anyway. Following Sherlock to his car, he felt his stomach drop slightly. There he was getting out of a beat up piece of crap car that was older then all heck; getting into a brand new BMW X6 M. That car cost more than he was worth.

"Wow..." He choked out, in awe at how casually Sherlock just opened the door and slid right into the car, whilst John himself couldn't bring himself to touch to handle.
"You aren't going to ruin it by opening the door, you know." He said with a laugh, John felt the blush creep heavily across his cheeks, he felt slightly embarrassed for being so timid with the car, he was aware he wasn't going to break it, it just felt so weird to be sitting in such an expensive vehicle. Sitting back in the seat- heated seat, it should be mentioned, he smelled the inside. It smelled faintly like aftershave tinged with thick musk. It wasn't strangling either, just, comfortable.

"Do you normally drive this kind of car?" He asked, still in awe. It was exquisitely maintained, regularly vacuumed, and the dials all looked pristine. He shrunk down in the leather interior, not sure whether from the fact that he could feel the ice melt off his body, or whether he felt utterly inferior next to this obvious mogul. Sherlock smirked lightly, tilting his head to check the gauge on the dashboard, his long eloquent neck stretched out, his muscles on display. John swallowed to avoid feeling turned on, but it didn't help at all.
"My brother pays me handsomely to stay unattached to him. He practically has the British Government on their knees at his beck and call night and day, and he figures my failure and past issues tarnish HIS reputation, so him and Mummy make sure I'm always comfortable so long as I leave them alone." He started the car with no issues, backing out of the stall expertly. 'Ah.' John thought. 'So that's how he can afford this.' He had been nearly certain that someone couldn't even afford a tire like this trying to make money as a hair dresser in such a remote area. Even with winning big name competitions six times a year, considering the winnings just barely covered entrance fees, colour costs, model costs, the works. You never realized how much you truly spent doing something until you look at your winnings and say: "Hey, I thought I was supposed to GET money."

"So you can't go back to England?" John asked, hoping he wasn't being too personal, he had forgotten that he didn't tell Sherlock where he lived, he was waiting to be asked.
"I can, I can do whatever I wish. It's easier to avoid scandal if I don't return though. I...messed up pretty bad. Besides, it isn't all bad here. I can still compete, do hair and keep relatively entertained, so I can't complain." Sherlock forced a smile, John could tell it was hiding some dark secrets behind that clenched jawline. John felt immediately sorry he had said anything at all.
"So, where do you live?" Sherlock asked, blowing away any sign that he had been hurt; leaving John no excuse to ask him any more questions about his past, only to linger on what had already been said.

When Sherlock pulled up to John's front yard, John hurriedly thanked him for the ride. They had nearly gone into a ditch near the top of the mountain, the damned snow made it impossible to mark off where any boundaries were. Sherlock had remarked more than once that John lived quite a long distance away from the centre of town. Although in such a remote town; the centre was just a casual term. How Sherlock managed to stay in business, John never knew. People had to drive quite a long distance to see him, although he had peeked at his schedule, and the man was booked all the way through until April. It was more than astounding.

When John sat there without getting out of the car, Sherlock leaned over to him, not so close so he could feel him, but close enough to make him question the reason. Not that John complained, but he wasn't quite sure of what he wanted, if he wanted this to happen, or if he wanted their relationship to remain professional.
"I hope you don't take my intentions the wrong way, John." Sherlock reached out, almost hesitantly, for John's hand, bringing it to his face and pressing a chaste kiss to the younger boy's knuckles. He even managed to make a kiss on the hand an elegant, soulful gesture of passion and grace. John felt his brain spinning, Sherlock's lips were so smooth, so gentle and light. Blinking rapidly, the blonde grinned lopsidedly, not knowing what to say or do. Sherlock sensed that John was confused, and let go of his hand. Although he did not feel rejected or upset; he didn't know how to continue without scaring the kid off. He was just in high school after all. Hell, there was over a decade older than he was! That kind of thing might have been mainstream in the Renaissance ages, but this day and age Sherlock could get in serious trouble if John decided to rat him out.

"I... umm ...Sherlock, thank you for driving me home. I really appreciate it." John muttered, his voice small again as he faced Sherlock, faced the curving outlines of his face and pale, marble-esque skin.
"Yes, no worries. I'll see you tomorrow." Sherlock said, itching so desperately to feel more of his apprentice, but he knew that this was utterly morally and ethically wrong in all aspects, and he couldn't allow it to continue, but he feared that John had already been attracted to him, and he wasn't sure how to continue this odd dance. John opened to door, stepping out into the crisp, sub-zero temperatures of the outside world. Waving through the window, he turned around and walked up the path to his house. Sherlock watched him go inside to make sure he was safe, then drove off without another word, shaking his head at himself.

'Sherlock, he's just a kid, what the heck are you thinking?' He thought to himself, when he started to laugh in his deep throaty fashion, hearing his brother's voice echo in his head. He always found a way to mess things up, without a doubt, things would go awry.
He just didn't see a way to get out of this without hurting John in the process.

Chapter Text

"Are you going to call the cops? That's kind of creepy, John." John had regretted telling Cassie about his and Sherlock's encounter in the car. As innocent as a kiss on the hand was, in this society it made the older man seem like a paedophile, regardless of legal age or not. That was the reason John hadn't told his parents, or immediately posted it online to his blog, he was afraid someone would tattle to the police. Why should they? John was old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, and he certainly knew what sort of physical contact he did or did not want, and without the use of persuasion or drugs; he had wanted Sherlock. No amount of moral ambiguity could change that.

"Well, it's not like he tied me down and forced me to do things I didn't want. Besides, it was just a kiss on the hand. If a celebrity did it to you, you'd howl with joy and brag to everyone." John felt like he had made a fantastic point, although it would go right over her head, just like everything else. He suddenly felt a flare of irritation with his close friend. She just didn't understand that John had liked him. Even over the phone he heard Cassie's scepticism on the matter. Rolling his eyes, he excused himself, for what he claimed was homework, when in honesty, he was just done being treated like a child. For Christ sakes, he was old enough to make his own decisions about whom he chose to love.

"It's not creepy...okay, it is. It's insanely creepy, and would definitely not be allowed by any court system in the country." John told himself, pacing across his room floor. His parents, though generally involved with most of his life; had understood that John had been through an exhausting day, and needed some space. They didn't even question the obvious flush to his cheeks, or the reason his car was not parked in the driveway.
"Jesus...they really got me now. Sneaky bastard planned this." John shook his head, remembering that he had to go back to work tomorrow, if nothing else, but to pick up his car from the abandoned parking lot. They really had him on a tight leash, they knew he couldn't be so callous as to just pick up his car and leave, no, he would be drawn to the mess, be subliminally forced to clean it. Those clever twats.

He vowed to finish the homework before school tomorrow, he couldn't afford anymore late assignments.

When John left school that day, he felt like crying. After being forced to get a ride from his mum to school, he had been subsequently shoved into a pile of snow by a careless biker, making him look dishevelled, earning him a lecture from his teacher.
He had gotten most of the homework done, but that wasn't enough. On top of that, he had forgotten to bring back one of the teacher's textbooks, earning him yet another strike. In the salon, he managed to completely melt half of his combs due to the high transfer heat of the shelf he had. He was wet, cold, had a pile of work to do, plus he had to go to the store to buy more combs.
The last thing he wanted was to get a lecture from his best friend about ethics and workplace harassment.

"It's not right, John. Stand up for yourself, you don't have to work there if he's treating you like that." She whined at him, trying to sound convincing, but all John heard was useless noise.
"Look, it's not like I don't WANT it to happen! I didn't push him away or tell him no, you know. Just leave it. It won't progress to anything serious anyway, remember? He's too old for me, and I'm just a silly child pretending to look cool by hanging out with the professionals." John muttered. His short blonde hair sticking up in all different directions. He tried to control it like their teacher had taught them, but it was utterly useless. No amount of gel and spray could keep the strands down. He felt kind of bad for talking to his friend like that, but he didn't feel that it was any of her business.

After that, most people left him alone the rest of the day, but that didn't stop them from annoying him. He had no tolerance for whining and complaining over petty things, and that was what most of them had been doing today. Even the teacher got upset with them, and she was usually really good at keeping everyone from having too much to complain about. Today, however, most people were grumpy, and that just wasn't going to cut it for John.

At the end of the school period, John was so overcome with emotion and wallowing in self pity; he walked out the door filled of toxic sprays and cancerous liquids and felt suddenly dizzy, like he was going to collapse on the ice covered steps. He caught his balance thanks to the handrails attached to the outside of the portables, with an unsettling nausea in his stomach. He felt like he was going to hurl all over the stairs, but that feeling passed quickly and he was left feeling empty.

Figuring he was just coming down with the flu or something, John kept walking, remembering he had to walk all the way to work, which was a good forty-five minute jaunt. He was tempted to skip work and just go home, but he needed his car, and he needed his work experience hours. They would just have to wait if he was forced to walk.

"John, what happened? You look awful." Jamie gasped, coming over to dust the powdery snow that layered on top of John's shoulders and head. He shivered visibly, even under his thick faux-fur lined parka. He appreciated being looked after like this, he saw genuine concern in her eyes.
"I had to walk here from school, cause my car's here." He stuttered as he spoke, trying to hide his cold, but his clanging teeth and bright red rosy cheeks gave him away. Sherlock, in the meantime, had pandered over to the front desk to check his next appointment, and had seen John and his obvious onset of being exposed for a lengthy period of time in the sub-zero temperature.

"Why didn't you take the bus?" Sherlock asked, his voice lowered and gaze penetrating. John felt his body temperature rise as he looked towards the man he was attracted to, in both envy and inferiority.
"I was broke, and no one could give me a ride, but I need my car, so I walked here. It didn't take that long, about an hour." He shrugged, or at least, tried to, except his shoulders were stuck in that position, his limbs felt glued into their sockets, unmovable.

"You could have called one of us, it's a slow day, we could have come get you. You're freezing, John. It's minus forty outside and than there's the windchill. We would have prevented you from becoming a sick John." Jamie helped John take off his coat, hoping to help warm him up by sticking him in the back room for an hour.
"To be honest, we thought you weren't coming, since you usually start right after school." John found it amusing when Jamie said 'usually', since he had only worked once after school. John had started to regain control of his limbs, taking note in how Sherlock stood by the counter, just watching the two disassemble his outer clothing. He looked a mess, not like an employee of a high end salon coming in to work for the day.

Sherlock, acting as both a strict employer and yet at the same time, a concerned party, shook his head.
"We can't afford to be sick, and if John really is coming down with something, he should get his car and head home. For his own health at least. I doubt he'll be doing much cleaning anyway here, and another body in the back room is just a crowd. I can take care of the laundry today. Come back tomorrow if you're feeling better. We'll credit you the hours you took to walk here anyway." Sherlock sounded contemptible, saying those words out of pure spite, without a trace of concern for the kid at all. Jamie noticed how harsh it sounded and raised a thin eyebrow at his direction. John noticed as well, shrinking down into his clothing in his usual fashion. He really felt immature at this point, he needed to get out of the environment for awhile anyway.

"It's...okay, I'll just take my car and go. I mean, I don't feel sick, just cold, and the warm towels would bring up my body heat, but if you're really concerned about getting sick, I'll just leave." John's voice was strangled in his throat. He felt denied and rejected by his older boss, whom he had grown unmeasurable feelings for, and rejection always felt doubled when it came from someone you cared for. Hearing how the words were caught, Sherlock softened his edges, grabbing John's arm and rubbing in a soothing motion that he had typically done to cheer up the female employee's he hired.

"It's...fine. As long as you think you're alright to do the work, you can leave earlier if you want to get some rest. Thank you for coming into work with all the circumstances." Sherlock smiled, before abruptly turning around, disappearing behind the wall that separated the reception desk from the main floor.

"John, you're the most dedicated, unpaid work experience person ever. Thank you." Jamie gave the boy a quick hug before parting and sitting back in her big reception chair.
John, feeling accepted finally, went to the back room to grab the laundry out of the dryer and start his day.

Eight o'clock rolled around in a fairly swift manner. They had recieved their order of replacement colour today, so John had enough stuff to keep him busy, and really, time flew by when he realised he had to reorganize the entire shelf, dusting each and every box, making sure empty ones were tossed into the bin, little things to keep the supply shelf tidy. Before he knew it, three hours had passed and the shelf looked cleaner than ever. For once, the number system made sense, and stylists could find the proper gel bottle or colour tube without having to search for it.

Many thanks were given and recieved that day, as John climbed down from the counter, feeling accomplished. He may not have left the back room that day, but the back room was the place that needed the most work, it was surprising how utterly disorganized stylists were, whilst everyone on the outside complimented them for being sophisticated and having such a chic career. John always scoffed when people bragged about their stylist for their organization, he knew the secret. Every single stylist in this salon albeit two were actually secret slobs. It seemed to be the janitor's job to make keep the drawers in tip top shape and clean of any debris or lingering hair.

He had hardly noticed the salon clear out of clients, and one by one the stylists left, taking their tips and their coats and exiting out the front door without a word of departure for the hard working cleaner. Sherlock, however, had been out of clients for just over an hour. He stood behind John, watching him catalogue and sort out everything that they had failed to do as responsible hair dressers. He was impressed, slightly even more impressed that a student, new to the field, was getting the hang of the complicated and brand new line of colours faster than all of the stylists combined. When the new colour line was brought it, it took them weeks to figure out the complicated numbering system, but John seemed to know it by nature. From 1 to 10 the colours were arranged, so Sherlock decided to test the boy.

"John, I need a level 8, GR. Quick please." He barked, and before he had even said please, John's hand came down and passed him the correct box filled with thick, unused tube. Impressed, Sherlock put that on the counter, not being noticed by John, and barked out another colour.
"Level 6, NA." And again the colour was passed to him in less than a full second. Blinking, Sherlock took it and put it on the counter.
"We're out of 9NG, what do I use?" It took a few seconds longer, but still in record time, two bottles were passed to the hair mogul.
"10 NW and 8NG...good job." Sherlock's eyes glistened with new found hope for the meek addition to their salon family. He was sure he had tricked him by switching the colour lines, but no, he was thoroughly shocked and impressed.

"Can...can I have those back please? I'm trying to organize the shelf." John asked, continuing to code the boxes and bottles in their correct spots. Sherlock stood there with a smirk on his lips.
"You're a quick learner." He mentioned, passing back up the boxes and bottles.
", not really, but I've been organizing all day, you get used to it after so many hours." John replied, finally done his sorting. He hopped off the counter and back onto the floor. It seemed so weird to be using his feet again after three hours of kneeling on top of a hard plastic counter. Sherlock stepped back and looked at the shelves. They were so...tidy. It was unusual for anything in the salon to be tidy, and then this boy came along.

"You're a great helper, John. No one else has ever cleaned that, yet everyone complains when things are put back wrong." Sherlock said, patting John's arm affectionately. John flinched under the touch, he welcomed it, but it shocked him to feel someone touching him in such a way.
"Sorry, you're so jumpy, just like a hedgehog." Sherlock grinned, ruffling John's hair instead, his hair now permanently stuck up in short spikes. That amused Sherlock apparently.
"And you look like one too." Sherlock's accent made his laughter thick and warm, it made John feel like he was drowning in syrup whenever Sherlock spoke to him. Feeling like he had to contribute to keep the conversation alive-he had to have his attention.

"I used to have a pet hedgehog you know." John said, putting away the stepping stool he used to climb onto the counters in the first place.
"Back home we used to have a bunch in the garden, they'd come up to the back porch and we'd feed them and pet them, as all kids in the neighbourhood did. Never had one as an actual pet though." Sherlock stacked the chairs into a corner, doing the final cleanup before the salon closed for the day. John came up behind his boss, trying in vain not the stare at the shapely rear in front of him.

"I've never seen a wild one. I take it they're common in England?" John started to tidy up as well, part of him just wanted to leave, he was really bored sitting there cleaning all day, but the other part of him wanted to just sit all night with Sherlock and talk about all the mundane things that were going on.
"Well in most of Europe anyway." Sherlock shrugged, he wasn't too fond about talking about his home country, he had settled here, was paid quite handsomely to stay away, he had no connection there whatsoever. John remembered the conversation they had last night in the car, and instantly back off of that topic of conversation. A few seconds of awkward, unspoken silence came over then.

"Have you tried to start your car yet?" Sherlock asked, John jumped at the sudden question, shaking his head.
"No, I can go try, and tell you what happens?" John asked, Sherlock laughed out loud at him.
"You don't need to ask my permission, John. Yes, go, if it doesn't start, just come back, I can give you a ride." Sherlock's smile was inviting, open to John, and John felt that. He felt like he belonged wrapped up beside the Englishman, well, beside him, under him, over him, in him-Oh God. John gulped as that last one sent waves of images in his head that would make most people shriek in horror. His face flushing, he nodded and went out to check his car. Sherlock thought to himself in those few quiet moments.

'At least you know he's interested.' He thought in a self-righteous manner, knowing that he shouldn't. 'That's because you shower him in praise when he does any small deed.'
He spent the next minute or so arguing with his mind, the little mental tiff irritating him rather than helping the problem. Before he knew it, John was standing in the doorway, looking forlorn and defeated.

"The bastard won't start. I can wait until you're done if there's something else you need to do?" John hid his face by looking towards the floor. He was no longer upset about his car, he figured once it was all settled out, he'd PAY for someone to take the damn thing out of his hands, he was just slightly embarrassed to be defeated by a piece of metal. Sherlock reached forward, his arms going towards his shoulders, but instead of the usual pat he received, Sherlock, to John's utter surprise, wrapped his entire arm length around the boy, tugging him closer towards his body, eliminating any space possible between them. John's cheeks gained ten times the colour they had before, glowing a deep shade of red as his boss stood there embracing him. Too shocked to respond, he allowed himself to melt inside the hug, leaning forward to gain any possible friction he could and stand there basking in the comfort and warmth Sherlock provided.

It was over all too soon, and John was torn away from the best thirty seconds of his life. He was loved. He was being held by the one person he wished to be with. It made the blonde feel faint, excited and content.
"Tomorrow when we open I'll call for a tow and come pick you up from school if you want. I'll try my best to get a mechanic on it quickly." Sherlock said, grabbing his coat from the hook along with a cerulean scarf that he wrapped dramatically around his neck. John licked his lips subconsciously, watching his boss stretch and expose bits and pieces of his flawless skin.

"I can't afford a mechanic, umm, my insurance says for free tows TO a shop, but it can just stay there until I can get money." John blushed. Thanks to his work experience, he couldn't get a job that actually paid him, so he was pretty much stuck unless his parents paid for the repairs.
"Don't worry about it, I can pick you up from school, or send Jamie to get you if you want." Sherlock opened the door, turning off the salon lights before he left, holding it open for John. John smiled, although Sherlock confused him. During the day, he was distant and ignored John as much as possible, but when they were alone, he was intimate and romantic, like John was the only thing he cared about.

"Coming, John?" Sherlock asked, chuckling to himself at how spaced out John looked.
'Not yet, but hopefully you could make me.' John caught himself thinking and immediately blushed a deep shade of red, avoiding meeting Sherlock's knowing gaze. Tucking his head low, he walked out the door, waiting beside his boss as he locked the door.

"Are your parents okay with you coming home so late?" Sherlock asked as they got into the car. John glanced at his watch, it was already 8:30pm, time flew by today.
"Yeah, they don't mind, they know I'm working." John nodded, doing up his seat belt and taking a deep breath of the familiar interior, it was what he wanted Heaven to smell like. Sherlock noticed the blonde's eyelids fluttered closed as he leaned back in the seat, letting his hair ruck against the warm leather. The corners of his mouth curved upwards as Sherlock clasped his hand in a bold move over top of John's small, stout fingers. Jerking up as if given a powerful electric shock, John looked at Sherlock, his face stiff. Sherlock immediately apologised, taking his hand back, regretting the abrasive silent proposition.

"No, sorry, it just...shocked me, is all. I don't mind, really." John tried to sound convincing, but his heart was afire in his chest, beating loudly as if it were a kettle drum being violently pounded upon. To try to persuade the older man, John leaned over, tilting his head until it touched Sherlock's broad shoulders. He exhaled through his nose, thankful that he was sitting down or else he knew he'd fall over. His legs trembled in fear and remark at what he was doing, he was leaning, resting on Sherlock Holmes, world's most famous product line creator and named Europe's Best Hair Dresser for four years until his fall from fame. And here he was, a child from the boondocks of Northern Canada, a nobody, not even popular in school, and he was resting his head on Sherlock's shoulder.

It was all very fairy tale-esque and romantic until Sherlock took one arm off the wheel and wrapped it around John's smaller frame, keeping him held close.
"John, I don't want you to feel obligated. I don't expect any favours from you." Sherlock's voice wavered, it sounded waxy, like he was forced to say those words out of duty or obligation. John peered out from under his short fringe, staring at Sherlock's long, clever face.
"Did you think that maybe I don't mind? I like this, Sherlock. I like you and I like being with you." John's voice was much smaller than Sherlock's. It was like comparing a lion's roar to a mouse's tiny squeak. Sherlock looked far more uncomfortable than John supposed he should feel.

"I mean, it's not illegal per se, but it's definitely not morally ethical." Sherlock smiled, still holding John close to his body, driving along the abandoned roads up the mountain. John supposed he should feel awkward at this exchange, but he didn't. He felt, right.
"I suppose not, but does that not stop other people? Fifty years ago it was illegal to marry someone outside of your race." John shrugged, nuzzling into the thick fabric of Sherlock's coat. He felt more confident around Sherlock when they were alone. It helped that the older man was more open without company.

"Do your parents mind if you come home a bit later?" Sherlock hesitated to ask, his fingers twitching as he spoke, rejection was hard to handle anyway, but being rejected by someone 8 years your junior was downright silly.
"No, why? What did you have planned?" John blushed, he had only known this man for less than a week, things were happening so fast, at least, the events in his head were.
"Well, you've been a fantastic helper this week and I'd like to thank you. Tomorrow night, after work, I was thinking I could thank you properly." Sherlock himself was wondering what he was thinking, but he had a feeling he knew John's answer.
"You don't have to, but...if you insist, well, sure! Okay!" John was still blushing. He was fairly certain it was unhealthy to blush so much in a day, but being with Sherlock exposed him to change his natural colour.

"I'm not forcing you." Sherlock said, taking note of John's increased colour.
"No, I would love to, Sherlock." John put his hand gently on Sherlock's thigh, running small circles on the tight jeans that engulfed his slender frame. He know in his mind that he really was doing the right thing, he wanted this, he wasn't boring forced into anything. His answer seemed to satisfy what Sherlock was looking for, as he smiled and dropped the subject until they reached John's front yard.

"I can pick you up from school tomorrow, unless I have a client, than I'll send Jamie. Is that alright? What time does your class let out?" Sherlock asked, as John sat up and undid the seat belt.
"Three, I'll be in the parking lot, you'll see me. Thank you so much for offering to do this, I really do appreciate it." John blushed, he felt like one of the crowd, accepted and tolerated rather than the outcast he felt he was in class. Sherlock made him feel...special.
"You're welcome, see you tomorrow John." Sherlock nodded, pressing the door unlock button, he didn't want John to feel quite so trapped, to his surprise, this time John initiated a departing kiss, but it landed on Sherlock's clean shaven cheek. The older man stilled his movements, an involuntary twitch in his fingers returned.

"Goodnight Sherlock." John waved, getting out of the car and bounding across the snow covered lawn into his house.
"Goodnight...John." Sherlock whispered out in the empty car.

The entire drive back to his home he critically thought about where his and John's relationship was headed, he needed a plan for tomorrow.

"Where's your car, John?" His mother asked, sitting in the living room reading the daily newspaper.
"it's busted, so Sherlock called for a tow, umm, it's alright I think, but he's driving me to work tomorrow and then to the mechanic's." John shrugged, taking off his shoes and placing them on the rack before sitting down on the large leather couch, on the opposite side of his mother. His father was absent from the room, presumably in the kitchen or bathroom.

"Is that who drove you home?" His mother asked, sniffing with an air of superiority. That irritated John, she was acting suspicious; like she knew something about him that he was trying to keep secret. The only thing was, he wasn't sure what she knew.
"Yeah, he's really nice." John coughed, trying not to sound like the infatuated teenager that he was.

"So Cassie told me."

John's stomach dropped to his feet. 'Shit'. He thought, starting to panic, his heart picking up pace again.
"Oh, you talked to her, huh?" He tried to remain calm, but pry some sort of information out of his mother, this was torture of the highest form. His mother's face remained covered behind the large expanse of the newspaper, showing no tells.
"Indeed I did. She called me today telling me that it seems your boss is a rather interesting man."

John felt sick, he felt like crying, he couldn't deal with this, not only would he be chastised by his parents, Sherlock would lose his job, his parents would not let this go, never. They would go to their graves still striving to make his life miserable.

"Well, he is pretty interesting, I mean, he used to have one of the biggest product lines in the World." John shrugged, tears starting to form in his eyes, he couldn't take this anymore, this hiding, so his mother might as well say the cruel things she was going to say.
"John, that's not what I mean and you know it. She said...John, Cassie told me about the children. She told me the reason he got exiled to this country." His mother's voice had gone low, severe and almost threatening. John's internal organs clenched like he was in a vice that kept tightening and tightening until he stopped breathing.

"Mum, he wasn't exiled here, he can go back to England anytime he wants-what children? You know as well as I do that paedophiles aren't treated very nicely here, and look at his business! There's no way you can confirm that. Did Cassie mention that she's trying to sabotage my job because she's JEALOUS?" John found himself shrieking by the end of his sentence, he was beyond pissed off. He would do anything to protect Sherlock's honour, he knew him, there was no way he was in trouble for violating children.

"John...I just don't want to see you hurt. Whether this man is a paedophile or not, he doesn't sound like a very nice man." He knew his mother still thought Sherlock was some sort of child violator, but at this point she wasn't arguing it anymore, he supposed he should be grateful she dropped it to an extent.
"Yeah okay, stop by sometime so you can find out for yourself instead of taking the word of someone else." John got off the couch and padded off to his bedroom, tears successfully falling down his face in small streams, and he didn't want his mother to see him cry.

When he got into his room, he fell onto his bed dramatically, sobbing into the bedsheets and multiple pillows. Staying there for several minutes, he got up, sniffing, over to his established computer desk, signing in quickly to his favourite social networking site.
Scrolling down to the list of 'friends' he had, he pressed on Cassie's name, sending her a quick message.

You told my mother?
Why the fuck would you do that?
You don't even know Sherlock, so you LIED?
What's wrong with you?


After he sent the message, he realized he hadn't eaten since lunchtime, stomach whining at him. He reluctantly pandered slowly back downstairs to fix himself a small snack, avoiding all conversation with his mother. He couldn't even imagine a conversation they could have that didn't end with yelling and someone's feelings getting mutilated.

For the rest of the night he sat in his room, he couldn't sleep, he didn't want to sleep. He wondered if the right moral choice was to tell Sherlock tomorrow, or just let this run it's course and they'd cross that bridge if it ever became an issue.

But first he had to deal with facing Cassie and his mother tomorrow.

Chapter Text

John went to school the next day with his head hung low, not even speaking to his mother on their drive to the front doors.
"Goodbye John, I love you. I'll see you tonight." She said, not wanting to leave her son without at least saying goodbye, she didn't want to depart on bad terms. John, however, was still agitated, although less so at his mother. Softening his anger slightly, he said his goodbyes before he left the car. She knew he was still upset, and it was because of her, but she never wanted to let him leave without her at least letting him know she still cared.

John felt the same way about his mother, he was well aware that it was her every right to be worried about his well being, and she couldn't help prying after Cassie had fed her those bullshit lies.
Cassie, on the same hand, was not free from his anger.

From the time he burst into the classroom portable, John eyed the ginger girl who sat beside him with obvious disdain and a fierce anger. She, on the other hand, pretended not to notice, keeping tactfully quiet and to herself. Opening her textbook and pretending to study whilst John sat there stewing in his own concoction of putrid anger.
"John? Is everything okay?" Nadia's sudden questioning jolted John upright, scaring the daylights out him. He heard the resounding giggles from the back of the classroom from several people who had seen John freak out.

"Yes, It's all fine." He said, shaking his head dismissively, hoping that would end any further prompts at attempting a conversation. He sunk into the chair and suffered the first two blocks before the lunch bell rang. He hadn't even spoken a single word to Cassie, and even the teacher knew that to be a bad sign. John hardly ever talked to anyone in the class, but with Cassie; he was loud, bordering on obnoxious. Today he wasn't even talking to her, which meant that the cause of the issue was between the two of them.

When the bell rang, as it was customary for the two of them, along with a couple other students, to stay inside the room and eat lunch in each other's quiet company. Today was no different, except for the large gap John had left between him and Cassie. Slightly disturbed by that, Nadia took it upon herself to try to be her student's counsellor of sorts.
"Cassie, can I see you for a second? Bring your textbook with you." She called out from the office she sat in, beckoning the lanky teenager over. Slightly confused, Cassie brought her textbook over and walked into the corner, shutting the thin door behind her.

"Yes? Did I do the worksheet wrong?" She asked, sitting in the chair beside the teacher's desk, placing the heavy covered book on the desk with a soft 'thud'.
"No, Cassie. You know I'm here for all my students, and it's really hard with so few kids, especially when there's set cliques that you guys have. Now, I would like to know what's going on between you and John. He looks really upset today, and usually you're the first one to lend him your shoulder." Nadia noticed Cassie's nervous shake in her fingers, she drummed on her thighs, not in an impatient manner, but a manner that shouted 'I'm uncomfortable here'. She took a deep breath, she wasn't just about to tell her teacher that she lied to John's mum about his boss being a paedophile.

"I...we had a fight about his job. That'" She turned her head down, not looking her teacher in the face. Nadia raised her pencil thin eyebrow in scepticism, she knew there was a huge piece of the story missing.
"Did you tell him it was a bad idea to take the job?" Nadia asked, taking note of how Cassie flinched when she was asked that.
"Sort...of. I guess. Something like that." Cassie sat back in the chair, placing her knuckles by her lips, her teeth laying gently on the skin, not biting, just sitting there.

"Cassie, I want you to know that whatever decisions you two make in your individual lives when it comes to things like work, or family, shouldn't put your friendship on edge like that." Nadia had always tried, with every class she had, to have a more intimate with her students than mainstream teachers. Being cooped up with the same few kids all day, she had a wonderful opportunity to bond with them that her colleagues didn't with their own. And she cherished that, but she would appreciate it if her students trusted her a little more.

"You mean we can't have a bad day?" Cassie asked, trying to hide her embarrassment by sounding snarky.
"No, but for the short month I've known you two, I've never seen you two act more hostile. Now, maybe it is just a bad day, but I don't want to see you guys split over a silly argument." Nadia patted Cassie's hand re-assuredly, motioning to her that she was free to leave the room, but Cassie wouldn't leave. Finally breaking down slightly, her voice went low and she looked towards the window where she could see John sitting at his desk, book in hand, trying to escape reality.

"Can I tell you...that the argument is all my fault, I was just trying to help him but it exploded into something way out of proportion. I feel awful about it, but I don' know, I meant what I said, I just hate that I said it...does that make sense?" The girl asked, slumping her shoulders even more, lifting her knees up higher as if creating yet another invisible physical barrier.
"If what you said made him feel that bad, don't you think it's worth telling him, at the very least, that you're sorry you said what is it that you said?" Nadia asked, watching as Cassie looked absently at her fingers, finding something else to focus on.

"Well...I could try." She said slowly, nodding, looking towards the door with suppressed longing and an itch to get out of the chair. Nadia noticed, and motioned that she could go.
"Just keep what I said in mind, okay?" She said, allowing the girl to leave, sighing slightly. Maybe she was trying to hard to be her student's best friend, but no one could say she didn't try.

Cassie and John still refused to talk to each other during the rest of class, John knew if she did, he wouldn't be able to respond with anything nice to say to her. He couldn't trust himself, she had crossed a really severe line, and in his mind, she had to earn his respect back if he could ever bring himself to trust her again.

"So John, heard you got that job with Sherlock. Enjoying it?" The other boy, Jesse, had wandered up to John at the end of class, acting far friendlier than he had before without making some sort of advanced flirtation; whether or not it was genuine, at him. John looked up, slightly cautious, wondering if he was just being played, or what was going on, but he appreciated finally having someone to talk to.

"Yeah, it's pretty great, I love it there. Where are you working?" John asked, trying to be polite and friendly, maybe this would save him from having such an estranged relationship with Cassie.
"Modus Operandi in down town down by the pawn shop. They just got a new manager though, I'm looking for another place, it doesn't seem to be working out. Question, is there another opening at Picasso's?" Jesse asked, John took the note that Cassie had lingered around still, not moving anywhere closer to the door, she didn't seem like she was in such a big hurry to leave. Or she was eavesdropping, which John thought was the real reason. She was trying to find out more dirt on John's relationship with his boss.

"I don't think so, they still have a couple people from other schools working for them, I get hours when I can." John was feeling slightly defensive of his job, having Jesse there might ruin it, Sherlock might fall for him, and...oh he was really not going to let that happen. Both males turned their heads when they heard Cassie loudly sniff judgementally in their direction. Refusing to get mad, John threw his bag over his shoulder and left out the front door.

"Look Jesse, great talking to you, but I gotta get to work. Bye." As soon as the words left his mouth they were followed by a loud 'bang' as the portable door slammed to a close. Jesse looked curiously at Cassie, who shrugged back at him, not knowing how to explain it to Jesse without starting some big rumour. She may be mad at him, but that doesn't mean that anyone else had to know about their fight.

"Hey, there you are. Have a good day?" Sherlock asked, unlocking the passenger side door so John could open it. All bad feelings he had harboured at his classmate had evaporated upon seeing Sherlock's high cheekbones pressed higher on his face from the large smile he adorned.
"It was alright...I don't like doing theory work, it's really confusing until you can actually put it to use, you know?" John took off his backpack to put his seatbelt on, gently setting it on the floor of Sherlock's car. He was getting slowly used to the expensive interior, actually, he felt pretty high and mighty sitting in a brand new car, having the other attendees of the school double take when they saw it.

"So you're one of those hands-on people? I understand that. Once you get out of school, things will be far easier for you." Sherlock turned back on his car, driving carefully out of the parking lot of avoid hitting the teenagers jaywalking left right and centre.
"Oh this feels familiar." He sighed, a thin smile on his face, his eyes crinkled happily. John looked confused up at him for a moment.
"Familiar?" He asked, prying slightly into Sherlock's personal life again.

"Yes, back in London driving was an extreme sport. Cross walks are only a suggestion for tourists. You see people wandering out into the road anywhere else and you think 'that person must be drunk or disoriented', you see one people do that in London and you think 'oh my God, there's nobody out today', even if the walkways are crammed. It's not a pleasant feeling, but it's certainly not new to me either." Sherlock chuckled, his voice almost growling. It sounded raspy, but not like his throat was dry. John found it comforting to hear him openly talk about London and his home, it made him seem more human, not just someone who wants to forget their past and move on. He was reminiscing.

"That sounds...awful, actually! I would hate to be a driver over there." John said lightly, when he caught sight of Sherlock's hand casually resting on the armrest of the car. He had the other slumped against the steering wheel, waiting patiently for the wave of kids to pass so he could move.
"There are so many alternatives. Most locals take the metro or use the cabs and buses so there's no need to own a car if you're in the city." Sherlock hated to admit how much he had missed his home town, but he was slowly getting used to staying here. He was used to it by now, he knew the rules and had adjusted without much hassle. He had very much guilt that he was going to give all this away to settle back with the threat of scandal.

"Well...I guess. There's really no way to get around driving where I'm from. Otherwise it would take an entire day just to get the shopping done." John said offhandedly, slowly manoeuvring his fingers closer to Sherlock's, hoping to graze his flesh with his, to feel his warmth.
"You've mentioned that small town a few times, where is it you come from, if you don't mind me prying?" Sherlock asked, finally seeing a gap in the children so he could finally get out of the parking lot. They sped down the road for a bit before John answered him, his fingers still creeping towards his boss'.

"Little Fort, up in the interior. It's really small, only a few hundred residents up there." John said, creeping closer to Sherlock's hand, exhaling in one long breath when he felt the smooth marble-like skin underneath his own hand. Sherlock hadn't even flinched. John was able to relax slightly more, his hand now almost fully covering Sherlock's. The older man gave a small smirk, still focused on the road rather than on what John had been doing. He felt the new hand upon his, but he found it nice.

"I could never survive somewhere that small. I think this is about as much as I can handle. Hell, to me, Vancouver's a small town, and I'm there at least once a month for some big event or competition, so I've seen it, it's just really small." Sherlock responded, and was shocked when he heard John let out a heartfelt, sincere laugh. A short note, but a laugh nonetheless.
"This is the biggest town I ever want to live in. To me, this is huge, and there's only what, twenty-five thousand people? It seems like a lot of people when you think of that number, but it's really a very small amount." John moved his fingers over the small expanse of skin lightly, dragging the tips of his fingers along the ridges of his knuckles.

"London has over nine million people just in the city. It's not as glamorous as people think though. There's a lot that happens that you only see as a local, it loses it's shine and appeal once you've lived there for a lengthy period of time. I was born and raised there, so to me, it's always just been one giant box, a box that is prettier and more decorated on the exterior than the other boxes, so people scramble and go out of their way to get there, but once you get into the box you realise 'gee, it's just like every other city only bigger and far more crowded'. Sure for the first couple of weeks it's fun, getting to see all the sights, all the tourist attractions, but once you fall into the rigmarole of day to day life; it isn't magical any more." Sherlock looked lost. He missed his home, John could tell. Whatever demons waited for him back there was worth giving up what he truly loved. He may hate what the city was, but he needed it. He needed the feeling of being lost in a swarm of people, it was perfect for someone who wanted to disappear, which was, all in all, what Sherlock wanted. The mistake he made was becoming famous in the first place. Everyone screws up along the road of life, but when you're so famous with so much depending on your fanbase; you couldn't afford to slip up anywhere along in your life.

Such was the trouble with being raised in the shadow of a famous father and mother with established careers and trying to rise to your own fame behind them. John saw that, he saw all of that in the tired eyes of the man trapped where he didn't want to be.
"You might be wondering why I didn't decide to go to another big city, maybe Toronto, or New York, even Hollywood. The truth is, I wanted to hide from the scandal and the blackmail and overall hatred from people who once respected me. So I found this small town while doing some research on the internet, found out that it's nearly directly across the world from London, so in technical terms, it's the farthest I can get away from it all." Sherlock was nearing the turn off to the salon, their journey was very shot lived, but John felt so much closer to Sherlock, like he knew things not even his co-workers knew about the mysterious businessman.

"Can I...please say something...umm, please don't get upset?" John asked, blushing and his pressure on Sherlock's hand increasing despite his fear. Sherlock looked surprised at how John had reverted back to being a meek little mouse again.
"Of course you can, John." He said, his tone stable and soothing.

"How come you didn't go to the city? How come you're still here in such a small town catering to the needs of people who don't even know who you are? How come you aren't re-earning your title again? You go through all these one-stage competitions, you don't do nationals at all, you just win the one-time awards and go home to do hair for brides all day?" John asked, getting only a tad animated as he vocalized his thoughts. He exhaled loudly when Sherlock didn't look angry at him, or kick him out of the car.

"Competitions give me an adrenaline rush. They fuel the small fire I get when I have the urge for a sniff of the life I once had. If I mess up as a no-name hairdresser, I have nothing to lose. Some measly awards and trophies that don't mean anything in the first place. If I start getting bigger again, and letting fame take over, I might mess up again and I have no where to run away to. This salon keeps me busy in my menial tasks and day to day life. Competitions keep my need for attention under control. It's all about balance, John." He had pulled into the parking lot now, turning off the engine of his car, turning around slightly in his chair to face John.

Without warning, he pressed his lips against John's. Chaste and cold, John felt Sherlock's smooth, plump lips against his own. Sherlock's lips were slightly moistened by the stain he put on earlier, the colour fusing with John's dry mouth. John had forgotten how to breathe; stumbling backwards and hitting his back on the inside of the door. There was no tongue, no passion, no mindless tongue wrestling. Just lips upon lips, hand upon hand, body against body. Dry and emotionless.

After several seconds, Sherlock backed off, leaning back again so he was sitting directly in his seat.
" apologise. Forgive me, John." He whispered, staring into John's eyes once more. The blonde teenager had no idea what to say in return. Thank you? No, that hardly seemed appropriate. He sat there, blinking, lips parted; for several seconds until he partially regained some composure.
"'s...fine. I just wasn't expecting it." He whispered equally as low. They were the only two people in the car, and as it seemed, the parking lot. Yet they continued to whisper for some unknown fear of being caught.

"I called the tow today...they came by and picked up your car, I can drive you down there after my next client if you wish, or I can get someone else to." Sherlock sounded very awkward, like a thirteen year old boy caught masturbating for the first time. He couldn't look John in the face any more, and John felt his stomach drop and heart rate increase, it was pure paranoia for sure, but the thought was still there.

"It's fine, I can wait for you..." John unbent his legs, sitting up once more, placing his hand out to grab Sherlock's hand, entwining their fingers together. Sherlock didn't flinch as John had dissolved his defences to capture Sherlock's hand, instead, he smiled deeply, his heart warming.
"It won't take long, I promise." Sherlock promised, sitting in the silence for several moments, just enjoying the mutual company of each other's warm hands and hearts.

"Shall we go inside now? No question the others will get suspicious if we take too long. Are you still up for tonight?" The dark, curly haired man detached his hand, unlocking the door again and stepping out onto the icy concrete. John followed suit, taking caution not to trip, but in the heat of the moment he had forgotten that his backpack was still in Sherlock's car, sitting on the floor.
"Yes, I'm still able to come, don't worry." John said, holding onto the expensive car for balance and support, slowly making his way along to the building. Sherlock was not like John; he did not resemble a newborn giraffe just learning to control its new limbs. No, Sherlock was like a cat on a balance beam; long legs sliding, almost just hovering over the ice, hands clasped behind his back. He waited for John at the wall, comparing the two of them in their own ways. John was a small-town country kid with big city dreams, and Sherlock...he was always so harsh on himself, pointing out all his flaws, he couldn't imagine why John felt so attached to him.

"Come on Baby Giraffe, you can do it." Sherlock grinned, laughing softly, yes, this would be John's new nickname. Sherlock grew ever so fond of it already. The snow had been ploughed from the parking lot, leaving the thick, slippery layer of ice, and John knew he wasn't wearing the right walking gear for this expedition from the car to the door. If he had heard Sherlock's new name for him, he didn't say anything about it, figuring either it was a one-time thing or he was just poking fun at him. When John finally reached the wall beside Sherlock, he broke out into a full body chuckle, apologising left right and centre for taking so long.

"It's okay, Baby Giraffe, I know it's slippery, and those shoes don't look safe. Better a slow John than an injured John." Sherlock reached down, pressing a quick kiss to John's forehead, taking hold of his hand and walking towards the door to start the rest of the work day.

Two hours later, John had already cleaned every inch of the salon. He swept the floor multiple times, restocked the shelves, and folded every towel thrown at him. The dishes were washed and the fish were fed. Sherlock was just finishing up his client when he found himself leaning heavily on the broom handle, tipping forward precariously.
"Shit!" He swore, catching his balance and stepping backwards to stop himself from falling to the ground. Two other stylists noticed, grinning to themselves watching their clumsy helper. The nickname 'Baby Giraffe' caught on surprisingly fast, as it seemed to be his new name.

"Great work John, I love how clean everything looks. You really are the best helper we've ever had." Angie, the punk rock stylist clapped him on the back of the neck, beaming at him. She was really friendly, she chatted up every client she had. The salon was often filled with the sound of her deep, throaty laughter and booming voice. It was impossible not to have a conversation with her, even the shyest of them ended up smiling and talkative by the end of the appointment. He envied her talent.

"Thanks Angie! I try to please you guys. God knows my dashing good looks weren't going to win you guys over alone." John's eyes sparkled, her extrovert nature being contagious apparently. The first few days he was afraid to even greet anyone for fear of being judged, now he felt comfortable, after winning Sherlock's affections, the rest came naturally.
"Hey, was that a joke I heard from Baby Giraffe? I didn't know you have a sense of humour!" Angie grinned again before winking at the blonde boy and leaving towards the back room. He felt accepted here finally. These people were his family and friends, and he loved it.

"John, I'm nearly done, you can pack up and grab your coat if you like. Wonderful work today." Sherlock called from behind his client; an elderly lady who didn't talk much, but was not a stranger in the salon apparently, as everyone seemed to know her name.
"Alright." John said, tripping over himself his rushed course to the back room.
"Careful Baby Giraffe." John wasn't sure who the owner of the voice was, but he blushed deeply, knowing he'd never be able to escape this new name of his. It didn't feel like an insult to him though, he felt like he was finally part of an exclusive clique of people who had deemed him worthy of having a nickname. He grabbed his coat and patiently waited by the front door for Sherlock to finish up. Jamie, for some reason, had remained silent during the whole affair, which was unusual for her, for she was typically the first to call on John for anything at all. John shrugged slightly, she probably just didn't have anything new to say.

"Ready to go?" Sherlock grabbed his coat and his scarf, throwing the former carelessly over his body to provide at some protection from the bitter cold. John had been ready for several minutes, waiting wordlessly at the door, letting people in and out as they needed, suddenly finding himself not a janitor but a hired doorman.
"Yup, all ready. You?" John asked, holding the glass door open once more to let the tall man through, hurrying to follow behind.

"Are you able to make it to the car, or do you require assistance?" Sherlock joked, taking John's hand once more, to passers-by they seemed like a pair of brothers, or close cousins, not like the infatuated boss-employee duo they really were. John looked up at Sherlock, pressing his side into Sherlock's big coat.
"I can make it." He said, leaning more weight onto Sherlock, who didn't protest this awkward cuddle.

They made it to the car with no issues, John walked over to the passenger side, slumping down in the seat as if he had done this a million times, the feeling was getting less new to him. Oddly enough, no words were exchanged on the way to the mechanics, everything they had to say had already been said. But the silence wasn't an awkward one, it was comfortable; like laying down in your old familiar bed for the night. There was no need for words, John felt relaxed, maybe it was the heat of the car, maybe it was because he didn't feel invasive. Sherlock sighed, but not from boredom.

"What mechanic did you get to towed to?" John asked, feeling like it was a necessity to make at least some sort of small talk.
"The one on Ventura, I know the owner so he's bound to get you some sort of discount." Sherlock said, turning down a side street that John knew would take them to the place they wanted to be. That street also homed the only beauty supply outlet in town, he had driven down it himself many times to shop for product. He nodded, affirming that he had understood. John hadn't yet told Sherlock that he didn't have any money to pay for the car, he had rehearsed in his head how he would find out the total, call his father; whom hadn't heard the argument from yesterday, and have him drive down to pay it. It sounded plausible, a wary parent not wanting to just give his son an amount of money in case it was too little.

"Do you want to come in with me?" Sherlock asked, holding open John's door. John jumped, startled slightly; he hadn't even noticed that Sherlock had already parked the car and got out. How long had he been zoned out for?
"Yeah, yeah, sorry...I was thinking." John gave a lopsided grin, his short hair spiked in the fringe, making his face seem rounder, softer, yet older. He seemed hardened by experience and life, Sherlock saw this change, gasping slightly as his seventeen year old colleague transform into a man in his mid twenties. It made an all too familiar warmth make its way south, settling in the pit of his stomach, only to be willed away as Sherlock focused on other things that didn't involve his sudden urge to shag his employee.

"How can I help you gentlemen today?" The guy behind the counter was burly, East Indian decent judging by his skin tone. Virtually no trace of an accent, which meant he had been in the country for a considerable number of years, and his business was not a new one, John had remembered passing it when he first moved here. Mechanic shops are commonplace in the town, so it was unlikely that it had ever changed hands in management. Sherlock eyed the man with a friendly demeanour, extending his hand to shake it with the owner.

"Hello sir, I am Sherlock Holmes, I had a car towed here yesterday for repairs." Sherlock tilted back on his heels, rocking back and forth on the tile flooring, as John watched him with a hungry gaze in his eyes. He was a teenage boy with a healthy yet unsatisfied sexual appetite that was steadily growing more and more greedy watching his boss do simple things like rocking so gracefully on his heels.

"Ah yes, Sherlock Holmes, with the beater car, eh? Yeah we had Eddie take a look at it like you said, the water level was just low on it and the cooling tank was, well, cool to say the least! I can have him drive it out to the parking lot for you, for you, my friend, there is no charge! Eddie put on your bill not to charge you, and Eddie is my best mechanic on the lot. This one is on the house. Good luck with your car." The owner once again shook Sherlock's hand as he abruptly turned on his heel and exited the building without another word. It was a silent exchange, but saved John a lot of explaining. He breathed an enormous sigh of relief, he felt like a giant weight evaporated from his chest and head.

"Goodbye, thank you for the car." Sherlock called out before he fully left, holding the door open for John. John waved awkwardly as he followed Sherlock out to his car, waiting until they saw the oversized garage door lift up, and slowly John saw the familiar shape of his small, two door Festiva drive out and park two stalls away from where the couple stood.
"Here you go, I haven't seen one of these in years, that's quite the hard working car you got. Enjoy." The man, obviously Eddie, said to Sherlock, passing him the keys.
"Thank you, Eddie." Said Sherlock, shaking hands with the new man, wrapping his thumb and forefinger around his wrist in a solemn, practised hand.

"No man, thank YOU, I owe you big time. See you, mate!" Eddie grinned, nodding to Sherlock and walking back into the shop. Sherlock pressed John's keys into his hand, his fingertips lingering longer than needed, his eyes meeting with his younger colleague's, holding his gaze for several seconds.
"I have three clients left, once work is over I can drive you to my place and before I drop you off at home we can stop by to pick up your car, would that be alright?" Sherlock asked, ever the polite man, actually asked if it was alright if John drove himself home. John found it an endearing quality. He had no idea how such a humble man could have toppled from fame with such dishonour.

"Sounds good to me, I'll meet you back at the salon." John looked up at Sherlock, suddenly pressing himself against him, his face nuzzled into his chest, inhaling his smoky, toxic smell of hair chemicals and products, but not like anyone else. Jamie didn't smell like this, nor did Angie or Jenn; only Sherlock. It was intoxicating. His arms crossed each other behind his back, not allowing the older man to escape, only here for John's singular purpose.
It only lasted several moments before John pulled away, staring up at his older friend.

"Sherlock, what are we?" John whispered quietly, the years difference between them meant the difference between complete inexperience and the rise, crash and fall in one. He felt the cold hesitation in Sherlock's body. He wasn't quite sure WHAT they were. Not lovers; they never engaged in intercourse. Not boyfriends; they only met five days ago. Not friends; it was a different dynamic. They were a boss and employee; they were colleagues and student and teacher. They certainly had a unique relationship, and age was definitely something to consider, but if John consented to it; Sherlock didn't have the heart to deny him.

"I don't know, John. We can discuss it tonight, if you wish." Sherlock suggested, hugging John quickly before getting into his car, telling John to do the same. John waved a goodbye before getting into his vehicle to get back to work. He didn't want to go back, he wanted to stay being held in Sherlock's arms. Oh well, tonight he had all the opportunity to do it tonight when he went over to Sherlock's abode. Images danced in his head about what it looked like on the inside. Was it ornate and fancy, or just a house with really nice furniture? He often heard it said that a person who squandered money on expensive auto mobiles often lived in less than stately homes due to their careless financing. However, if Sherlock was really as well paid off as he claimed; John wondered what that meant about his home.

All he had to do now was wait the three hours until their shift was over.

Chapter Text

"Where do you live, Sherlock?" John asked, sitting beside him once more in the heated interior of the car he had come to admire and appreciate.
"In the flats, eight acres of land to do with whatever I please." Sherlock drove down the road of the country prairies, the mountains already disappeared from sight in the pitch black night sky; but thousands of stars shone in the tarry blackness of dusk. John was impressed, he knew other families that lived down here, it was all farmland, but no one he had ever visited for an extended period of time; or willingly, for that matter.

"Is it just you in the house?" John asked, knowing the answer already, but not wanting to assume anything too much.
"Other than my dog and my housemaid, yes, I'm all alone." Sherlock let out a sigh, tapping his long fingers against the steering wheel, listening to the quiet night air outside his rolled down window. He could hear the wind rushing past his car as he sped down the road, the whispering babbles of the river only metres away from the ditch; and animals singing in chorus in the fields and woods. Inside the car was the steady humming of John's intakes of breath and his heart against his chest.

"I didn't know you had a maid." John said, he wasn't horribly surprised, Sherlock was hardly ever home with his long work schedule and many competitions; he was surprised he even owned a proper bed.
"Someone has to look after Milo when I'm away, and I certainly can't do it." Sherlock stated as if it were extremely obvious. John felt like his intelligence had been insulted, but shrugged it off; he should have probably realized that anyway.

They pulled into the driveway of a three-car wide garage, the house they were parked in was three storeys tall, had an uncountable amount of windows and a textured panelling that looked as ornate and expensive as Saint Paul's Cathedral. John gasped inwardly and held his breath as he shut the car door and walked up behind Sherlock, gazing at the topmost spires of the house. It stood apart from everything else in the neighbourhood, he was surprised he had never seen it before, he certainly would have remembered seeing a house like this on his jaunts.

"You can breathe you know, you aren't going to contaminate the air or anything." Sherlock chuckled, taking the front steps three at a time, taking out his pocket full of keys and fitting the right one into the slot. John blushed and exhaled, listening for the tell-tale click of the lock, and once he heard it; Sherlock flung open the door with a 'bang', the sound reverberating across the walls and down the large expanse of a foyer.
"Wow..." He finally spoke, his eyes going wide as he stopped to bend over to untie his shoes, as all polite guests do. As soon as Sherlock had shut the door, a small dog with tall ears and legs that were smaller than that came running into the foyer, barking madly.

"Hello Milo! Yes you know Daddy's home, have you been good for Mrs. Cavalish? Of course you were, you're my good boy!" Sherlock was completely uncharacteristically cooing at the stout dog that he held in his long arms like a young child. John was taken aback at the sudden evaporation of Sherlock's shields and personal barriers. He was not that stoic, composed and frightening man that John had come to expect around all other human beings. No, this was someone completely different, this was a man, cheerful and playful; taking joy in the simple action of holding a puppy. It was odd, to say the least, one of the last things he would ever have expected from the older man.

"Mister Holmes, you are back for tonight, yes? Are you taking the weekend off or shall I come back tomorrow?" An elderly woman, around the age of sixty or so, waddled into the small gathering room as well, holding a primitive feather duster and aerosol can of room spray in the other. Sherlock swung the dog up higher, letting him droop over his shoulder as he turned to talk to the older woman. Milo, the dog, stared at John curiously; his tongue sticking sideways out of his muzzle, eyes criss crossed and confused. John sniggered; such a weird looking dog, probably a Corgi given it's ears and body form.

"No Mrs. Cavalish, It's only Thursday. You can work tomorrow but you get a three day weekend as I do not require you to come in on Saturday. Thank you for your help, oh, and tomorrow is Pay Day, so don't forget to pick up your check from the office tomorrow." Sherlock walked over to her, shaking her hand in a formal matter, dismissing her from duty. She smiled at him, and than it seemed she suddenly noticed that John was accompanying him. She grinned widely, hobbling over to the blonde kid, shaking his hand wildly.
"Oh Mister Holmes, you did not tell me you invited a friend over! I would have made tea, or done something romantic for you!" She had a thick accent that John couldn't place; Eastern European of some kind, but it was impossible to tell, maybe even a mixture of things. It was nice, but she had the drawl of a Grandmother, which he found himself lacking the warmth of a grandparent's voice.

"Oh no, it's fine, I am more than capable of making ourselves tea, thank you for your time, Mrs. Cavalish. Enjoy your evening." Sherlock bowed at the waist slightly, still holding his dog up in his arms. John felt a small spark of jealously for the animal being carried around like a precious infant. The housemaid left the house without another word, smiling to herself, and Sherlock remained quiet until he heard the door lock click into place when it was securely shut.
"So, she's your...uhh, maid?" John asked, walking gingerly into the connecting living room behind Sherlock, who set the canine onto the floor. The blonde watched as the docked behind of the dog waddled across the floor to keep up with his beloved owner. He hadn't given John a second thought after that look, so John figured he just didn't care. Something told him that Sherlock didn't get many strangers in his house, but Milo, for some reason, didn't have any opinion of the new intruder.

"She's really just to keep Milo company. Make yourself at home, John, I'll go get tea, unless you prefer a more caffeine infused beverage?" Sherlock asked, meandering into the kitchen to make the drinks, John plopped himself onto the wide leather couch, sinking into the folds of it, feeling all at once exhausted and comfortable; he really was at home.
"No thank you, tea is fine, thanks." John called out, leaning his head back and shutting his eyes softly as to not fall asleep. He felt the cushion he was on sink to the left slightly as the light panting of Milo joined the rhythmic sound of his own breathing. Opening one eye to take a look, John curled the corners of his mouth up in a smile.

"Hey Milo." He said, lifting his hand to pet the Corgi's small, sharp head. Milo leaned into the touch, scooting closer towards the blonde's lap, his docked tail wagging furiously. John heaved a great sigh of contentment, utterly at peace with the world at that very moment, feeling that, even if his mother found him here, he wouldn't be upset because everything was just so right. Sherlock must have noticed the silence, concerned slightly, he called out.
"Bored, John?" The deep voice rang out, echoing, bouncing off the walls adorned with landscape photos and expensive looking picture frames. It mildly concerned John that the house echoed so much, it seemed far too lonely, but, than again, that's probably why he owned a dog in the first place, it was someone to keep him company in the lonesome hours of the night. The thought that Sherlock hired a nanny specifically to look after a dog was a most endearing, yet amusing thought to him. It displayed obvious compassion, almost to the quality of a mother.

"No, no, actually. Just really happy. It's quiet and there's no one barking orders, I don't have to clean, it's just nice." He said dreamily, only partially wishing that Sherlock would fetch him a blanket so he could just nod off on the couch. He hadn't realised how tired he was until he sat down on this blasted thing anyway, he wasn't all that tired rather than actually comfortable; he hadn't been able to relax since before he started the job when everyone decided to be nosy and try to work themselves into his personal life.
"All right, tea's nearly done, I'll be in there in a minute, okay?" There was Sherlock again. John knew it was wrong to be invited over to someone's house and then be so rude as to tell them to shut up, but at that moment he just wanted to sit down with his boss, huddled together for warmth and comfort in complete silence with the exception of the sound of their breathing. That thought both confused and annoyed John, as he knew it was entirely too rude of him to ask such things, he knew Sherlock liked the small talk and conversations they had; and it gave John an excuse to find out more about the roots of the man he adored so much. It seemed a downright miracle when Sherlock finally re-entered the den, tray of kettle and two cups with creamers and a sugar container all lined up on it.

"John, there were some things I would like to talk to you about." Sherlock stated, setting the metal tray onto the low coffee table in front of the couch. John opened both his eyes, his vision temporarily blurry as he had let sleep, and his thoughts, engulf him. Shaking his head and pressing a palm to his temples he woke up fully, leaning forward to sit up in a more sociable position.
"Yes?" John asked, clearing his throat and thinking to himself. 'What has gotten into you? You were nearly bouncing off the walls before you sat down, what happened?'
"John, I feel like...okay, no, I know we have a bit of an odd courtship, and me being the elder here, I wanted to confirm with you the speed of progress and how you wanted to take things. In layman's terms; what do you want out of this relationship? What type of companion are you looking for?" Sherlock held his own hands together, slightly nervous. John found it odd how the only time that Sherlock seemed to actually value other people's opinions were when he was around. Otherwise, Sherlock generally told other people to 'fuck off'. But not John, actually, he couldn't remember a time when Sherlock actually outed him on anything, sometimes he may be a bit harsh in his descriptions, but he never actually said anything bad about anything he did, not even when he first started.

"You're older than I am, and to be honest, Sherlock...I don't know. I mean, you're my boss, and I've never actually had any sort of relationship. I mean, I've had a couple crushes back in middle school, but nothing in any recent years. I don't know if I just really deeply admire you and crave your approval and at the same time find you incredibly handsome...or..." John stopped, his face growing more and more red by the second, and not because of the tea. He was utterly shocked at how easy the words flowed out of him, usually he stammered and stuttered with every word he said when he was talking to people about his feelings. Something about Sherlock made them flow out like word vomit, only, graceful word vomit, no, scratch that, there was nothing graceful about it, it was a mess, HE was a mess, this whole courtship deal was a mess...but it was addicting, he needed more of it, needed to be the only one Sherlock treated this way. He felt greedy thinking it, but he remembered that it was Sherlock himself who started this big awful mess by being so desirable in the first place.

"If I held your hand, would you object?" Sherlock asked, taking his cup from it's saucer and putting it to his lips, sipping slowly, his cupids bow outlining the rim of the cup. John noticed, gulping down his attraction, which didn't work, to be honest.
"You have held my hand before, you kissed me in your car! I...I don't mind actually. I mean, I don't object to it, but, I mean, I...I do like you, but what...what do you want to do if we were, you know, together?" There it was, there was the stuttering and stumbling over one syllable words. He knew it couldn't be avoided any longer, and here it was. He couldn't even bring himself to lift up his cup, he was drowsy and embarrassed and wishing that this conversation was just over already. He was no good with talking about relationships, what was it that Sherlock was even asking him? Did he want sex? Was that what this was all about? He preferred it when Sherlock just did things, he didn't need his permission.

"What most people in relationships want. I'm just asking you, John. Is it a relationship you want? Do you want to be with me? You're legal and able to make your own choices, but I really want to make sure you're okay with this too and you don't feel like I'm taking advantage of you or anything." Sherlock set his now empty cup down, John decided to focus on that, thinking how fast he had swallowed that steaming cup of tea. He really didn't want to answer any questions, he wanted to be in a relationship with Sherlock, yes, without a doubt, but why did he have to ask? He was so excited, thinking he was someone special in Sherlock's life, but at the same time, he didn't want to go through the tedious process of questioning, was he drugged? No, he didn't ingest anything that Sherlock hadn't ingested. Although he hadn't had a very satisfactory couple of nights this week, but why tonight, of all nights? Maybe Sherlock would understand, maybe he would offer to take him home?

"Of course not, Sherlock, I do like you, I wouldn't, you know, tell the police you're know, the people who like children. Yeah, you're not one of those." John fought to keep his eyes open, blinking furiously. Words just weren't coming to him tonight. His forehead felt incredibly hot, his body was trembling under his clothes, he wanted to take them off to cool down, maybe ask for a shower-was this normal? He felt like he was overheating, but his brain wouldn't stop thinking, wouldn't stop racing to allow him time to think.

"Articulate as always, Baby Giraffe. If you're really that tired, you can have one of the guest bedrooms, I don't mind. I can drive you to school in the morning before I head to work, if you wish we can continue this discussion tomorrow." Sherlock put his hand on John's shoulder, pulling him forwards until his head slumped on Sherlock's flat chest with a small thump. John licked his lips before leaning back up, forcing himself to be a polite guest, taking his teacup, sipping the scalding beverage, trying not to burn his lips. It was just enough to spark his attention, sitting up straighter, his knee's pressed against Sherlock's own. His body was still on fire, he could feel his heart pounding mercilessly against his ribcage, he knew what it was now, he knew the feeling all too well. The blood from his head poured slowly, pooling underneath his stomach, yup, he knew he wasn't really tired, or drugged, or had a sudden bought of flu. He was turned on like Hell and he wasn't getting the proper satisfaction from it. Damn it Sherlock.

"No, I'm good, I still need to get my know what, umm, can I possibly, please ask you if I can pick up my car tomorrow?" John curled his fingers around Sherlock's thumb, leaning forward, almost falling head first into Sherlock's lap, only stopping himself with his elbow, so his head was propped up and nuzzled into the older man's chest. His accent thick and syrupy in John's ears, it was like mother's milk, or, more likely, like thick maple syrup being slowly drizzled onto piping hot pancakes, steam curling around the cold ribbons of the partially solidified liquid, oozing down the sides and pooling onto the cold porcelain plates. John licked his lips yet again, for what felt like the millionth time that night, the combined thought of food and sex was enough to make any man go stir crazy, much less a normal teenager with a healthy libido. The low laugh that escaped the Englishman's chest cavity was like the humming of a bass guitar, which only made John love him, and at the same time, curse him even more.

"Of course, Baby Giraffe. Wouldn't want you falling asleep and crashing into a ditch now, huh? Come with me, I'll show you to the guest rooms. To be completely honest, I was only slightly hoping you could have stayed awake for a little longer, I thought we were going to get to chatting, but you know, your health is more important to me." Sherlock poured himself another cup of tea, by leaning forward he pressed himself against John's face, suffocating him with his intoxicating aroma. John moaned from the clothing that blocked his airway, but being overtaken by the musky cologne that curled into his brain, engraving itself into his memory. John took the hint that Sherlock was taking another cup as a sign that he was to sit up and at least finish one, especially since it was Sherlock who invited him over for that reason, or rather, under that pretence.

"I don't mind spending the night, and I don't mind talking, really. I would really rather not have to drive home, so, er, thank you? Really, thank you. This...this is good tea, what is it?" He asked, steering the conversation away from talks of driving and John going home, he didn't want to think of home...'Shit!' The thought overtook him, exclaiming inside his head. 'What are Mum and Dad going to think when they notice you haven't come home? Who are they going to call? After last night, they might even phone the police! Okay, no, they ask, just say you tried calling the home phone-no, no, Mum knows you better than that...oh no, John...' His internal outbursts being drowned out by the flood of the pungent tea sinking down into his senses. He tried not to think of his mother, who would have every policeman in the township after Sherlock, his license and citizenship if they knew where John was that night. He was duelling inside himself, he hadn't even told his parents he was going to be late coming home, they would have two haemorrhages a piece if they knew where he was now.

"John, it's no problem, besides, I like the company. No offence to Milo, but there's only so much a dog can do for you. It's black chai tea, by the way, imported straight from the Chinese-Russia border where the leaves are the most aromatic." Sherlock smiled at how many lengths John was going through, forcing himself to stay awake to drink the tea he prepared. It wasn't even that late, and he had little doubt that if he had been at home, he would still be fully conscious and ready for an adventure. Maybe it was a good sign that he allowed himself to be so vulnerable here? He allowed Sherlock to see him with all barriers down and not able to run away from an attack, it was the ultimate sign of trust, in his mind. Sherlock saw that too, but he refused to allow himself to take advantage of the boy's weak state, it just wasn't fair.

"It's nice." John cough, stifling a yawn from escaping, trying not to sound rude. He finished his tea with vigour, setting the china back down with a small tinkle of the glass. He looked up at Sherlock, still pressed close to him, his body pressing against his lower body again as he laid down some more.
"John, do you want to go to bed?" Sherlock asked, John found himself wanting to listen to his voice forever, if only he could have him read the entire works of Shakespeare to him in that sweet, sultry voice.
"I want you to read to me, Sherlock." He said honestly, snuggling in closer, yearning to smell his scent on him some more, wanting to be flooded in the sea of cologne and musk. Sherlock found it greatly amusing that John seemed to evolve onto a kitten in mere minutes, exposing all his weaknesses.

"Are you always like this? I swear I didn't put any alcohol in the tea." The ebony hair dresser allowed himself to stroke the short spikes on the top of John's head, feeling the soft downy hair between his calloused fingers. It was soothing, like petting a loyal pet.
"No, no...I was fine until you let me sit, I don't know I just...felt so tired. Like all my energy is gone." John yawned, wrapping his arms around Sherlock's waist, his fingers tapping a small pattern across the fabric covered spine that he adored. That elicited a chuckle from Sherlock's chest as he leaned backwards to give John some more room to sprawl out.

"I know I have nice furniture, but really, John? Do you want to go upstairs? Maybe you'll be in a more talkative mood up there." Sherlock pressed him slightly, trying to make some headway in the least. Milo decided to join them on the couch, he had disappeared for a moment there, presumably to get a drink or a toy, but in either case he was back now, stepping on top of John's side, gaining a surprised gasp from the younger blonde as the small paws weighed down on his organs.
"Ow, ow, yes, okay, all right, I'll go." He bolted up, grabbing Milo with his hands, pulling him off of his body. The dog yapped, informing him of the canine confusion.

"Oh, sorry, Milo! John's not very friendly, is he? No, he's not." Sherlock apologised, taking his loving pet away from John, gently, and setting him back onto the hardwood floor, turning his attention to John, who was in the act of sitting up, sinking farther into the soft ripples and folds of the leather. Sherlock grabbed John's smaller, stout fingers, clasping him in support as he managed to plant his feet on the floor and pull himself up into a standing position.
"Sorry about that, Milo doesn't have very many boundaries." Sherlock said, as John giggled drunkenly, tipping over slightly, only cementing the nickname 'Baby Giraffe', and he knew it.

"Watch yourself there Baby Giraffe. Do you always crash this hard?" Sherlock snickered, holding John closer to him, keeping him steady. John looked up, his eyes clear, pupils blown wide but not hazy, which meant he hadn't been secretly drugged or taking any narcotics. John knew in his head he wasn't as tired as he was just in a haze of attraction and lust for the older man with his arm around his waist.
"No, only when I've have a really stressful couple of days and I finally get comfortable. It's impossible for me to stay awake at that point." The blonde hugged his elder tightly, the embrace warm and empowering, making John feel stronger just by being held close to the body he admired so much.

"New job, new relationship, struggling to manage your time between school, work, homework and still maintain a social life...I hear you, John. Here, look, no games tonight, I can help you settle into the guest room and you can sleep it off. God knows you've had any ability to sleep more than a couple hours." Sherlock swung one of John's arms around his shoulders, half carrying, half dragging John up the spiral staircase in his foyer, the plush carpet softening any noise they made with their dragging feet.

"I'm sorry, Sherlock...I know it wasn't your idea of how today would go down." John sounded ashamed partially; it made Sherlock cringe, he hadn't meant to make John feel bad, this wasn't a good idea, not until he was more settled into the routine, it was something better saved for weekends when he didn't have to worry about school or anything else. He knew better than to bring relationships into the picture, especially at his age.

"No, it's my fault, really. I should have saved it for a weekend or a day when you didn't have school." Sherlock let him go once they reached the top of the stairs, a lengthy corridor lined with thick door panels and white embellished walls. John, through his tired eyes, could still appreciate the decorations, wondering how anyone could even afford such a lavish lifestyle. He heard the distinct clanging of metal tags signalling that Milo had joined the group, tramping up the stairs, his small paws only being able to make one step at a time. Smiling, Sherlock padded over to the nearest door, twisting the handle and swinging the door open dramatically. John stepped up after him, letting his eyes adjust to the dark atmosphere of the bedroom. It certainly didn't look like any guest bedroom he had ever been in ever. It was more like a four-star hotel than a house room.

"Sherlock, this...this is lovely." John walked towards the four poster bed against the far wall. The mattress was thick, John could tell just by the way the covers were draped over it. He still had hold of Sherlock's hand as he walked into the room, marvelling at the rich oak desk and Victorian style décor around the room.
"This is the room I use when family comes over, which, as you might have guessed, is never, so it's actually never been slept in. You're the first person, John. Not even I've slept here." Sherlock detached himself from John's grip, sitting down on the box-spring mattress, the down duvet and thick blanket crinkling around where his backside had imprinted itself.

"Sherlock, do you usually have guests over?" John asked, inquiring further about the secret life of the man he loved. He saw the pained expression on the clever, narrow face, and felt as if he had crossed a bit of a line. In apologies, the blonde crawled onto the bed behind Sherlock, his hands tapping over the sharp shoulder blades, caressing the muscles tenderly, a light warmth spreading from his fingertips through the fabric and radiating down into Sherlock's skin, blossoming over where John was massaging. Sherlock felt a low growl form in his throat, and he moaned softly, the sound comparable to a lion's roar. It sent bolts of electricity down John's spine, leaving goosebumps in it's wake.

"John, I should have you know that you are the only person I have ever allowed to do that to me." Sherlock, forgoing his abandon, undid the topmost buttons on his silk violet shirt, exposing his protruding collarbone, allowing John to move his fingers northward, slipping underneath the fabric to actually touch flesh. The feeling was just as exciting for John, who closed his eyes and dropped his head onto Sherlock's neck, his lips grazing the short hairs that grew. The smooth texture of his lips sent a sweeping feeling of twin currents of shock and heat race down Sherlock's frame as he leaned back into the touch, needing to feel more of it.

"Sherlock..." John breathed, putting more pressure onto Sherlock's shoulders, pulling him down onto the bed. He landed on his side with a padded thump, letting out a breathy moan, shuddering under John's amateur touch. Although inexperienced, felt like thousands of little heated spots erupting on the wide plane of his shoulders, it was pleasurable in the extreme. Sherlock stretched out, his muscles tightening and relaxing, the feeling rippling down to his toes. John stopped his ministrations and curled his hands around Sherlock's chest, feeling the rhythmic beating of his heart; the shirt hanging lower, exposing far more skin than John was able to touch with his hands at once.

"What do you want?" Sherlock asked, facing the wall, feeling John's nose brush up against the nape of his neck, his breath warm and smelling sweet like the tea.
"You." That did it, Sherlock's groin felt tighter than it had before, John tracing his ear with his tongue, shaking slightly, in both fear and inexperience, fear of being inexperienced actually. He was worried that Sherlock would be turned off of him rather than waiting for more. They lay on the bed on their sides, spooning close to each other in their warm embrace. John wished it could just stay like that, with him nuzzling into Sherlock's back, and Sherlock being held in his arms. It was peaceful, even though it was sexless and dry, it was just so pleasant being together like this.

"John, we don't have to do this if you don't want to." Sherlock pushed back, his feet entangling with John's legs, as he purred lowly. John's head spun in different directions, pulling him in ways he didn't even know existed. He wanted to stay like this with Sherlock, he wanted all of him, wanted to be a part of him, but he was a whole new beast. Something he wanted, but he was just perfectly happy cuddling like this.
"Could we maybe together?" John propped himself up awkwardly on one elbow, bringing his face closer to Sherlock's, his nose brushing against his, his lips parted slightly, touching the corner's of the older man's.

Sherlock took the hint and rolled over so he was on his back, closing his eyes as he started to kiss back, slowly sucking on John's lower lip, testing him by gently nibbling on the sensitive skin. John mewled in a muffled manner; his face becoming hot again as the supple wet sounds increased in volume and in quantity. Sherlock bowed his head to create more room for John to manoeuvre, his tongue seeking solace inside of Sherlock's mouth. He noticed, in that instant, that the feeling of the tongue belonging to someone else was akin to sucking on a live oyster; for the other organ moved in the others volition, and John couldn't control it's movements, he could restrict them, but not cease them indefinitely. It was a thought that not not encourage him, but amused him. He felt some slight mirth at those books he had read in school, where the girl describes the kiss as 'overpowering' and how she 'lost all train of thought and only focused on her lover'.

John was thinking about everything, how Sherlock's lips were slick with the saliva that spread from their entwined tongues; how his hands were sedentary on Sherlock's back, and how his spine rippled as the older man pushed himself into the younger boy. It felt odd, being kissed like this, it wasn't horribly messy, but not organized, more of a bit of chaos. Sherlock had his hands on the top of John's head, the short hairs being manipulated against his scalp. It was relaxing, having his head massaged like this, but it wasn't passionate as much as it was just a comforting feeling. He heard Sherlock's heartbeat, he felt Sherlock's tongue against his, he heard the soft noises that is elicited, from whom, he did not know, it could have been from him, or Sherlock, that alone he could not tell. He heard the straining of their noses trying to intake air to feed on, the excited breaths increasing in speed as they stayed entwined at the mouths.

It was all too good to last forever, as Sherlock broke their kiss to inhale, his forehead flush against John's. They were both panting heavily at this point, trying to take in a sufficient amount of air into their lungs.
“Do you want this, John?” Sherlock breathed out, his nose still tightly pressed to John's face, a light sheen of sweat coating his skin, his pale pallor standing out more through the wetness.
“I've wanted you the moment I laid eyes on you, I only believed it was real once you started to compliment me and notice the things I did you you.” John admitted, his eyes shut, not daring to look at the man he loved dearly, he was afraid to see an emotion, or a feeling that he was avoiding, he was afraid of seeing rejection, or doubt.

“I don't want you to do anything you don't want to, do you understand why I'm asking you?” He knew John was legal, and able to make his own choices, but being a student, still favoured by the courts of law, being under the scrutiny and the judgemental eyes of those who opposed him was a highly unfavourable fate that await him if he didn't take every precaution to make sure John was thoroughly asked, and every permission was given.

“Sherlock, I promise I'm not going to tell anyone, I won't let anything bad happen to you, or your reputation, I want this. Really, I promise you.” The blonde teenager nuzzled into Sherlock's hair, the damp strands sticking to his skin. He didn't realize how humid it really was in the room until he felt Sherlock's breath against his skin, his every pore opening, secreting the unpleasant feeling liquid across his body, Whether that was purely from the heat, or if everyone sweat like this in the throws and wiles of passion he didn't know.
Being with Sherlock didn't make him nervous, he trusted the older man; it was how he would feel afterwards. Being a virgin wasn't something he paraded around town to everyone, but sex was never something he raced off to have, he figured he would be in a deep and meaningful relationship by the time he even got the chance to get laid but now everything was speeding by so fast, he had barely known this man for a week and already they were lying in bed together, their limbs fitting together like gloves.

He only knew of a couple kids who had the experience of sex before, and he only knew them because they had all suffered consequences for their actions. He knew a girl in his previous class that had gotten pregnant, he knew two boys to whom she had accused of being the father, both of them vigorously denying all accusations. He didn't want to end up like them, he knew that biologically that was impossible since they were both of the male gender, however, the horror stories of things going wrong were an astounding amount. That was what he was scared of, not the sex itself, it was the possible outcomes, how would he change afterwards? He dare not tell Sherlock that he had even been considering stopping now, the curly haired man looked so lost, so hopeful yet so confused, as if he had been at war with himself their entire relationship. John opened his eyes, he looked into the dusky grey orbs hovering above him, scanning him over and over. They were almost vibrating, it seemed, never settling on one particular point of interest.

John reached down awkwardly, his arms slightly trapped underneath his partner's torso, he felt a small pinching in his wrist when he bent his arms to clasp the hem of his shirt, pulling it above his face and over his arms, his abdomen was a single shape, his small stomach was soft, with no definable muscles. His pectorals were flat and slightly more hard, he had more strength in his upper body due to his constant use of his arms and shoulders. Sherlock, looking down on this, felt a great appreciation for the younger form. How soft and yet how fragile the body was before years of stress and hard labour took over and either formed a rock or a puddle. This was the age when boys turned to men and their bodies changed, and Sherlock had to appreciate John's figure. He was the epitome of youth, his flesh not sure of itself, unchanging. He wasn't ripped out, or look like he had lived with definable abdominal muscles, but he was not a flabby kid either.

'No, no...stop saying kid. That doesn't make this any easier, Sherlock. Not kid, teenager, adult, young man, anything BUT kid.' Sherlock thought to himself, cursing inside of his head. He bent at his stomach, his clever features extenuated by his grin, showing straight teeth that were more than likely braced during his childhood.
“Are you a virgin?” He asked suddenly, he figured he would ask before his mind was too far gone with attraction and desire to bother. On experience he knew that once he got going, after a certain point there would be no turning back, and he didn't want John's first night to be a mindless blur of rough intercourse because Sherlock couldn't stop rutting against him. John hesitated before answering, looking up at the older man, he felt self conscious, trying to wriggle back into his safety cocoon where no one could look at him, he felt exposed suddenly, not just physically either, he felt Sherlock in his mind, in his eyes, boring down upon him like an animal.

“Yes...I...I've only kissed someone once...and it wasn't even anything like this. It was wild, without passion it was just because we wanted to and had the opportunity.” John breathed out, lifting his leg slightly as it brushed up against John's sensitive thigh, causing the man above him to jerk involuntarily, his lower body giving small spasms of pleasure radiating in his groin, a dull throbbing concentrated at where his flesh became far more sensitive. All though at this point, if John touched even his arm, there would be no doubt of physical pleasure, even in the non-sexual manner.

“I promise I won't treat you like that.” Sherlock smiled, peeling off his tight shirt from his skin, disregarding the buttons at the top, thankful he kept it quite low so he could effortlessly disrobe, throwing it off the side of the bed so the clothing was in one central area for easy clean up, he hated hearing people describe the act of unclothing as “carelessly tossing the garments area in an unknown corner of the room”, it made them seem disorganized and loose with their lovers and partners, not at all passionate and romantic like he wanted John to remember it.

“I know, Sherlock.” John's voice was lighter, almost airy as he bent his head at a sideways angle to take a look at Sherlock's physique. The older man had scars up and down his normally covered arms, his body was a roadmap of masked wounds and scrapes, his abdominal muscles tight and defined, but laced with lines like spider webs across his body. John dared not touch, but his eyes traced around all those lines, following them to see where they travelled, most intermingled into themselves, others wrapped around his body, and some lead straight up to his heart. Sherlock looked at John's face, watching the young boy's eyes round in concern and a bit of shock. He saw the scars of self abuse, scars that were trademark of every drug addict on the street, records of the poison they took, track marks that tell the horrific story of your life to anyone who looks. He tried to cover them up by wearing his suit jackets with long, thick arms, and long sleeved shirts so no one could ask about the origin of those marks.

John looked, he didn't vocalise his questions, but it was evident that he had them as his dark eyes continued to roam their many paths and endings. Sherlock felt equally as self conscious as John did when he had taken off his shirt, they both felt exposed, but at the same time, neither of them felt the need to shy away from the other. They wanted the attention, they wanted each other to see themselves in their true light, in their true, uncovered skin, their secrets ebbing out and surrounding them.
“John.” Was the simple word Sherlock spoke, his voice husky and deep, the one word meant many things. It was asking permission, it was a confession of adoration and love, it was an expression of contentment and happiness. So many things were the meaning behind the four letter, one syllable word that, spoken aloud, was the most powerful word anyone has ever spoken to the blonde man underneath him.

When John nodded in reply, Sherlock ducked his head, his lips attached to his partner's collarbone, sucking gently, his tongue padding across the skin there. John felt his body heat rising again, his head tilted back and he finally understood when writers wrote about all thought process ceasing in their mind, he couldn't focus on a singular thought any more, all he knew was that his ebony haired lover was now heading down along the length of his body, heading downwards slowly. The act of the foreign mouth kissing his flesh and the wet heat leaving non-existent scorch marks littering his body was setting fire to his bones, his muscles turning to water and his bones were alight only barely holding his structure up.

He trusted that Sherlock knew what he was doing, he entangled his stout fingers in the older man's long hair, tugging gently as to not make his roots shriek in agony, only using it to guide his head to where he felt the need to release the most pressure, where he needed to feel it the most.
Grinning, Sherlock took the hint, his tongue outlining where the cotton met his skin, dipping into his naval cavity, loving the sound of John's loud gasp, trying to bring air back into his straining lungs, his heart beating faster than it had been when they were kissing. The older man had his left hand reaching up, grasping at John's shoulder to keep him from squirming too much, his right hand pressing against his hip, the tips of his fingers heading down into the edges of the pants, caressing the skin he felt there.

“I'm going to undo your pants now John, are you okay?” Sherlock asked, unlike John, he was able to focus on things properly, but that was mostly due to the fact that he was so concerned for John's satisfaction and trying to be a good, no, wonderful lover that the other boy won't ever regret having. Knowing how much he regretting all his one night stands and short weekend flings, but never remembering his encounters in coitus in full detail. He didn't want to become a forgotten experience for John, he wanted this to be engraved in John's memory for years to come, until the sun set on his time on Earth.

After hearing confirmation, Sherlock took his time, massaging John's skin at opposite ends where his hands were, his shoulder and neck being rubbed expertly in the same circular motions as one would do on the scalp, and his hip receiving the most exquisite tapotement treatment he had ever given, the motions fast and fluttery, feeling like dry raindrops on his skin. John, feeling a moment of clarity, thought that must be how meat must feel being tenderized, albeit much more painful in the meat's case. He felt that familiar melting feeling in his flesh as Sherlock's hands run over the length of his body in those wispy, ghost-like touches.
John arched back up against the mattress, desiring a more intimate touch from the older man now, his penis pressing upwards against the coarse fabric of his pants and trousers. Sherlock noticed the bulge, it was hard to miss when it was pushing on his throat.

After thoroughly getting John into a state of complete relaxation and calm, and easy to mould; Sherlock started divesting him of his trousers, slipping the button through it's security loop, and pulling the zipper down so they were easier to pull off.
“Lift up a bit.” Sherlock ordered, taking his left hand down from the blonde's shoulder and resting it underneath his body, just above his rear so he could support his weight as his other hand tugged and struggled with the trousers until he finally managed to pull them off, leaving John's legs bare, exposing his groin and all that included. John had a short, curly treasure trail that started under his navel and grew thicker as the curly hairs surrounded his manhood. He supposed that John was about average length, being proportionate to his body and being circumcised, which brought down the girth. He smiled though, thinking not of himself, all though his own appendage wasn't making it any easier on him, but he tried to remain focused only on John which was truly a lot harder said than done even though he tried valiantly to make it so.

Sherlock, what are you doing?” John breathed out, his chest rising and falling steadily, he was exhaling loudly, his legs spread apart to give Sherlock better access, his own hands slipping down and playing with the short curly hairs that covered his skin. The older man pressed a hand to John's chest, holding him down as he lowered his head and planted a quick kiss to the elongated shaft, his lips parted to allow his hot breath to enshroud over the heated skin. John shuddered, lurching forward slightly, his legs trembling and toes curling. Giving a sly grin, Sherlock opened his mouth wider slipping his tongue over his teeth, dropping over top of John's dick and giving a couple short flicks with his moist tongue on the sensitive flesh.

“Oh God, Sherlock!” John called out, his eyes scrunched close, neck craning back on the pillow, trying to get more leverage, not even pretending to try to stop himself from bucking his hips wildly into the other man's soft, wet cavern. Humming, sending the vibrations racing furiously through John's body, his skin becoming a minefield of goosebumps and spasmodic muscles and limbs. His fingers twitched greatly, taking hold of Sherlock's wild curls, knowing that he was definitely causing Sherlock's scalp some serious pain but neither of them was going to say anything about not, not when Sherlock had his mouth over his dick, creating an extreme amount of exquisite pleasure that surged throughout the younger blonde's body, melting his ever fibre.

Sherlock tapped his fingers against John's side to help calm him down a bit, keep him laying flat on the bed, trying to keep his erratic bucking to a minimum. It didn't help though, as the thick member slid into Sherlock's uvula causing his gag reflex to give its warning signal.
“Calm down there John.” Sherlock detached himself from John's member with a loud, wet popping sound, strings of saliva still attached to his lips like spider webs, connecting the two men by the most common of bodily fluids. John was sweating, his skin moist and forehead gleaming. He was panting heavily, eyelids fluttering and mouth wide open, the air above him thick and pungent with their joined scents. He didn't even hear what Sherlock was saying, all he knew was that the cold air of the room was not assaulting his member with full force, creating a very discomforting feeling, he could feel it softening without the continuous stimulation.

“Please...Sherlock...I...I need...” He couldn't get the words out, only groaning and letting loose stringed words of sweet nothings and curses at the same time, wishing only for the older man's mouth on his penis once more, sucking him off with great arousal.
“Yes John, one moment, you have to sit still.” Sherlock smiled, loving how John was so mindless, so set on this one human function. It was completely unlike the John Watson that he had grown comfortable with, and he enjoyed seeing the boy so hazed over with sexual arousal, so focused on only himself. His greed was overtaking him and if that didn't turn Sherlock on, nothing else in the world every would again.

Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, carelessly cleaning it off on the now soiled linen duvet. He bent back down and engulfed the now stiffening penis back in his mouth, allowing his right hand to let go of John's stomach, coming down the gently cradle his tightening ball sack. The twin energies of desire and physical need overlapped all his other senses as Sherlock's long spindle fingers gingerly cupped him, squeezing with minimum force, feeling the taut skin, smooth and flawless nestled up against his dick which was being rigorously sucked on, the vacuum ensuring maximum heat as Sherlock's tongue wrapped coyly around the member, wagging slightly to add extra pressure. The only sounds in the room were the breathy sighs and loud moans exuded by John, who was far more vocal in bed than Sherlock would have ever guessed. This accompanied the sounds of Sherlock's quite boisterous wet noises, saliva dripping down his lips, dabbing onto John's vibrating groin. He was unable to move thanks to Sherlock's good grip, but that didn't stop him from trying to get that extra feeling.

Sherlock made a deep sound in his throat as he tried to rearrange the position of his tongue to accommodate for John's girth. He wasn't particularly fond of the thought of having to deep throat John, as he didn't like the sensation of choking, but he took John as far as he could without making his gag reflex react, John's balls still being fondled in Sherlock's grasp, tugged on slightly,
“Sher-Sherlock...Oh my God, Sherlock, please, faster...” John groaned, arching off the bed, his toes curling, legs stiffening, stomach rolling to get more leverage on his hips. Sherlock noticed John's increased breathing and the rapid movements of his chest, he sped up a bit, trying to get John off in a magnificent climax, and he did, as Sherlock detached his mouth, only letting his tongue swivel around John's distinguished head, dipping slightly, noticing how odd it felt to feel the small movements underneath the thin layer of skin as pre-come ebbed out in small waves, Sherlock swiped the sticky mess away with his thumb, grinning at the excited gasp that protruded from John's chest, before he cried out lowly, Sherlock wrapping his hand tightly around John's penis, stroking roughly upwards, the remaining saliva creating a nice makeshift lubricant to avoid friction burns.
“SHERLOCK!” John howled, Sherlock's name bouncing off the walls, echoing inside the dark room, hitting Sherlock's ear with the ping of an angel's bell. John bucked up, his hips rolling with the spasms, his toes clinging to the bedsheets, his fingers attached to Sherlock's curly locks,
He came without any grace, his come flowing out like ribbons, his cock twitching and body clenching and unclenching as his muscles melted.

Panting heavily, the air thick with the smell of their coitus; Sherlock ran his fingers over John's softening cock, feeling the tingle of his skin as the sweat cooled on his body, his come thoroughly soiling the sheets, soaking into the fabric. John's body was limp, unable to move, he was in post-coital bliss, and nothing mattered, nothing at all.
“Thank you...thank you, Sherlock...thank you.” Was all John could say, his breathing evening out, feeling more relaxed as he sunk into the mattress, feeling the warm embrace of sleep overcome him, all though Sherlock wouldn't have any of that.

"Thank you, John. That was...that was brilliant." Sherlock gave a quick peck on John's lips before wiping his brow with his hand, sitting up on the bed and standing up, leaving John confused and slightly hurt. Why was Sherlock leaving?

"You're not staying?" John asked, his body shaking slightly with the aftershocks of being so mercilessly assaulted with the deft tongue. Sherlock looked over his shoulder, seeing the expression John had, feeling his heart sink at the sight of John lonely, perched on top of his bed made Sherlock wince.

“You need to shower first, we can't have you falling asleep when you're messy. Besides, there's more rooms, I'll have the maid take care of the mess and that way you can sleep in a clean bed. Come on, the bathroom's in the hall, can you walk?” Sherlock asked, wiping his hands off on the sheets, kissing John's hand before helping him get up, his legs wobbly, unsteady as he staggered beside Sherlock.
“All right, Baby Giraffe, let's get you cleaned up.”

It was well past Midnight, as far as John could tell. He wasn't too sure, the moon didn't shine through the window, nor did it face any main roads so there was virtually no light in the room, so the hands on the clock looked like blurry lines in an equally blurry pitch of blackness. He had been able to nod off for several short minutes, but feared that being with Sherlock had successfully damaged and killed any actual REM sleep that would have occurred. He was all set for sleep until Sherlock felt the need to shower and transfer him into a brand new room, now he was energetic, his body feeling as if it was made up of a million silver motes.
Sighing out loud, he pulled back the covers, he wasn't sure why he and Sherlock weren't in the same bed, but at the time he wasn't in a mood to argue, now he would give anything to have objected and demanded he stay in at least the same room. He was still adorned in his black pants and button down shirt that he wore the previous day. He wasn't sure how hygienic that was, but he dare not ask Sherlock use of his laundry machine at this hour.

He was, however, parched, and decided that he couldn't stand watching the shapes in his eyes move about this black hole he was sitting in. He couldn't see a thing, not even his own hand waving about in front of his face. It was like he closed his eyes and was trying to guide himself around a new city.

Miraculously making it to the door without any great injuries; John groped for the doorknob, he couldn't remember if the door hinges were rusty or squeaky, so to be safe, he opened it slowly, to guarantee that no noise escaped. Luckily, they didn't make any. Padding down the plush carpet, John could see that the hallway was more luminous than his room had been. The light came from a small night light plugged into each socket. Whether it was for safety or because Sherlock had a secret phobia of the dark, he did not know. But he didn't complain as he allowed to lights to carry him down the hall towards many unopened doors. He dare not try to walk down the stairs, for greater fear of being caught sneaking about.

The lights stopped at the wall, John had a brief encounter with the human notion of humour. 'Just like the films, this is supposed to be some sort of sign, some crazy destiny that the wall suddenly stops in front of this door.'
Listening to that thought, he turned the handle of the door in front of him. He could hear the gentle sounds of someone breathing slowly, in and out, in and out, a wave, rolling the tide out, rhythmic and timed perfectly, John lost his ability to see once again as he left the door open to allow the faint glow of the night lights flood into the room, ebbing to form shadows dancing across the wall.

Sherlock lay in his bed haphazardly. He was on his side, one arm draped over his head to cover his eyes, the other jutting out from beneath a pillow. The blanket was bunched up by his waist, his legs exposed and torso almost completely showing, it was as if he only used the blanket as an extra long pillow. Smiling, John sat down beside him on the bed, feeling the dip as the mattress was much softer than the one in his own room. It was foam, expensive and thick, a luxury that John had only heard about in films involving royalty and lost princesses.

Milo was stretched out at the base of the bed, his paws twitching as he lay in his own dream state. John grinned, of course Sherlock would ensure that his dog slept with him on the same bed, anything else would just be ridiculous!

Sleep overtook his senses once more, as if by magic spell, he instinctively lay down behind Sherlock's long form, tucking his arms in front of him as not to disturb the other man. The bed was soft, and enveloped him in Sherlock's smell. It was akin to being smothered in his shirt, only this was in his air, curling around his nostrils like plumes and tendrils of thick musk. He realized that this-falling asleep to the sight, smell and feel of Sherlock, was what he had dreamt of doing, and finally, tonight, he had it. His final thought before being whisked away into proper REM sleep was 'Even with this many material possessions, he still wanted human physical comfort. I'll do anything to assure he gets it every night if I have to. He deserves to be happy.'

Chapter Text

John awoke to the quiet calling of his name, repeated like a chant over and over by a voice like driving down a golden gravel road.
"John...John! John?" Sherlock repeated, he had been surprised when he woke up at 5:30am and turned over to find the blonde boy he took in curled up on his side, snoring gently in the same bed. At first he wondered if the guest bedroom had been too uncomfortable, or there was a draft, but his sex depraved mind finally caught on and realised John had come in on his own volition, not because he was disturbed, but he had wanted to be there, and then Sherlock remembered he had left John alone in that room, and guilt started to set in. After the amazing encounter in the bedroom, it wasn't right for him to just abandon him all alone like a used napkin.

Finally, John started to stir awake, his eyes fluttering, not wanting to adjust to the mild light, the sun had not yet risen, but the snow cast a white light across every surface of the room, lighting it up like all the electricity was on. John yawned, stretching his arms above his head, arching his back as he let out a loud groan, feeling his muscles tense up and relax, melt back onto his bones and liquefy around his joints. It was comfortable, he didn't ever want to leave his position, but Sherlock had lowered himself even closer to John's face, consciously trying not to breathe too hard on him, for fear of morning breath.
"Good morning John." He whispered, head tilted downwards, pressing his nose into John's chin, nuzzling it gently until John opened his eyes, placing a tentative kiss on Sherlock's forehead.

Wordlessly, John sat up, his waist dully aching from his belt being on his body all night, leaving little imprints in his flesh. He placed his hand over it gingerly, making a low noise but not inspecting it, pretending it didn't bother him. Sherlock noticed anyway, taking John's hand and lightly tracing the outlines of the top of the fabric, feeling the marks left behind in John's skin. The blonde winced visibly, obviously in pain, but wasn't enough to cry out.
"Are you okay? I am so sorry, John, I should have offered you a gown or something." Sherlock looked apologetic, sincerely sorry that he had failed as a host, and his forgetful actions were not causing John, the boy he loved, to be in pain.

"No, it's all right, actually, I'm fine, really. Could I possibly, though, borrow something to wear? At least a new shirt perhaps?" John asked, finding it a bit gross to have worn the same shirt all day the previously, and to bed, and then be expected to wear it again the following day, especially not when he had options available. Sherlock got off the bed, his night shirt lifting, exposing the dip in his long back, his flawless, mark-less skin. John licked his lips as he watched his boss cross the floor, opening his wardrobe and pulling out several shirts, he did so without saying a word to John, and the teenager wondered if he had somehow upset Sherlock in some way even after the night they had spent together.

"Here, try these on. John, do you want to call your parents so they know where you were last night? They're probably worried sick that you didn't come home." Sherlock asked, his vice groggy and accent thick. There were dark purple circles underneath his eyes, making the grey orbs seem far more exhausted than he did last night.
"No, Sherlock, I don't want to call them, I'll go home tonight after work, they'll be fine." John shrugged, picking up the first shirt on the pile, it was a red shirt sleeved shirt with built in black sleeves, it seemed entirely too casual for Sherlock, he couldn't believe something like this even belonged in his personal wardrobe.

"They'll be mad you know." The older man took off his out nightshirt, throwing it expertly into the white laundry hamper beside the door, before going up to a tall dresser, bending over to open the last drawer, picking out a clean cotton shirt, cerulean in colour. John was mesmerized watching Sherlock form slip the button less shirt on before strolling to the closet to grab a black overcoat, which made the outfit seem like a freshly pressed designer outfit. John looked again at the completely informal shirt in his hand, and looked back at the man that was in the process of taking off his pyjama bottoms, taking an ironed pair of the hanger in the same closet.

" normally wear shirts like this?" John asked, still disbelieving that Sherlock had this in his wardrobe. Sherlock turned around, looking at the bright red shirt and laughed.
"No, John, that wardrobe is for casual clothes, clothes I use to do housework, or on days I don't plan on leaving the house. Lucky for you, it means it's hardly worn. No offence John, but they're looser fitting and shorter in length." Sherlock lacked the ability of tact, all though fortunately for John, he was able to look past it, for he loved Sherlock more than anything.

"Oh, that's all right, it's better anyway. I honestly can't picture you going to the store to buy these." John smiled, making light of the situation as he stripped himself of his own well worn shirt, replacing it with the other shirt. He realised how he needed a shower, he hadn't had one since the previous morning, and he rarely ever went a day without a shower. He noticed Sherlock's silence, even though he had done up the final button on his dress pants a couple minutes ago, he was just standing there watching John, who had stood up, abandoning his own shirt on the bed. He faced Sherlock, and he looked visibly upset, as if John had deeply offended him somehow.

"Sherlock, if I said something bad, I'm...I'm sorry. Really." He offered, wondering what triggered this sudden look and aura of depression. Looking up, Sherlock smiled, walking forward and hugging John to his chest, resting his face into his short hair, breathing through his nose.
"No, John, you should know anyway. Those are my brother's, I brought them from London, well, he gave them to me before I left, since he refused to give me the first payment until I left the country entirely. You should know, I didn't just leave London, I did my research first. Once I got off the streets, he gave me a decent amount to start with to establish myself somewhere, but he wouldn't pay me until I left the United Kingdom. So I went to a small town in northern Wales, a town called Llangollen, where I could take my time to research places to settle, but by the time I had found this place, I couldn't even afford one month's rent, much less a second change of clothes, so my brother gave me some basic necessities so I could at least have some creature comforts before I got a job." Sherlock inhaled, but wanted to continue. John felt that and nodded against him, holding him in return.

"In London, I had everything, I lived in a posh neighbourhood-I lived in Kensington for the love of God. I had a successful salon with five employee's, I had offers to do hair shows in Tokyo, Moscow, and Rome. I did weekend shows in Paris, I had my own product line that was a world wide success. My schedule was booked for ten months at a time, with no openings, and I had more money than I could have possibly used. I traded it all for an hour long high of a 7% solution and a bed of cardboard. The headlines were littered with my picture and my name, my house was foreclosed, my possession presumably burned, unless my brother still has my medals and trophies and certificates-he always made a fuss when I told him I did not put them on display, he might have them in his own personal collection, sentiment, you know. People stopped buying my product, and I sold the name off to buy more recreational sustenance. My salon went out of business and I used up the money I had paying out my employee's. My mother refused to let me sober up at her house, but went to her grave preventing me access to get the funds I needed for rehab. My brother couldn't afford to take me in, claiming I would ruin his well established reputation more than I already had, apparently my failure meant he became the butt of petty jokes at the palace." Sherlock paused to allow all the information to sink into John's head, admittedly, he felt faintly dizzy trying to process everything.

He felt bad for Sherlock, so he hugged him closer, running his hands down his back, tracing the outline of his shapely read outlined by his pants. He whispered several sweet nothings into the fabric, hoping they would reach his boss' ears. He didn't know if they did or not, but before long, Sherlock spoke again, they still stood there, Sherlock's face pressed into his scalp in this awkward embrace.

"So he paid me enough to spend a week in a nice hotel wherever I wanted, so I went to the very tip top of Wales, the hotel was small, but nice. It lacked creature comforts, but it gave me an opportunity to look up places in the world where I could re-settle myself. Unfortunately I overestimated my stay, not remembering the value of money any more, since I was always so used to having it. I could only afford the plane ticket out and half a month's rent. So Mycroft, my brother, gave me a lot of his old clothing and some of my old hair equipment, my sheers, my thinning sheers, my razor, clipper set, the basics. He bade me the best of luck and I came here and worked in a small salon until I got enough money to start dressing better, get new equipment, I bought a home instead of renting a room in a basement suite, and I picked myself up.
My brother managed to get in contact with me almost two years ago, telling me to keep in touch, and I was free to go wherever I wanted, but I knew I could never avoid scandal. That's why...that's why I changed my image so much, hopefully people, once they knew my name, couldn't put two and two together and figure out who I really was. I never applied for a name change, but I've avoiding using my given surname, and in competitions I register under the salon, so they only hear my first name and my last initial. I stopped doing solo competitions, which is why I only qualify for Nationals. It satisfies my need to compete, extinguishes the fire in my gut. I live a good life now, the small social advances keep me from disregarding my responsibilities, which is, to be honest, the reason I first got Milo. I got him so I would always remember that someone NEEDS me to come home at night, he can't survive without me, it was the closest, least risky thing to a child I could get. And I'll be forever grateful I made that choice. Now I have you, and you keep me waking up, keep me remembering why I don't migrate and live a nomadic life, travelling salon to salon, never resting. Because I'll never get back on my feet that way. Now I have you to help me."

By the end of it, Sherlock had started to sob, forced, choked words being pushed out through the tears and low, growling cries. John felt his chest tightening, his eyes threatening to spill over with tears of sympathy for his boss, who had broken down, his shields completely dissipated as he stood, salty tears soaking into John's hair, spilling over the crest of his ears and trickling down his neck.
"Sherlock..." He choked out, planting messy kissed to the skin above the Englishman's collar, showering as much love as he could in his own physical and emotional being onto the plaintive body of Sherlock Holmes: The man who fell from Heaven with as much grace and dignity as God himself. Now he truly understood, he knew the secrets, he knew the lies, and what made it even worse was that there were people who knew him as he once was, but cannot fathom he regained at least part of his reputation, building a new one without the old scars, starting from scratch.

But he knew, and he would never let Sherlock's image be tarnished in the public eye ever again.

"John, I called your house last night and your mother said you weren't home, did you go to work?" Cassie asked, sitting beside John once again in the uncomfortable plastic chairs in the classroom. Feeling annoyed at her invasiveness, John shrugged casually, trying not to think of the emotional morning he had, him and Sherlock standing in the room, both of them sobbing, Sherlock because of tormenting old memories and John in painful sympathy. Afterwards, they Sherlock had made him breakfast and driven him to school. The only thing John was concerned about was that his bag was still sitting in the back room of the salon, his paper and notes inside it. He thanked whatever deity was watching him that today was an in-salon day so he didn't even need to have his bag.

"Yeah, I worked a late shift, so what?" John found his face growing hot, he thought of him and Sherlock on the bed, snogging until John could hardly feel his own lips any more, thinking about how Sherlock had sucked him off, leaving him drained of all emotional and physical being, he was a long string of absolutely nothing, silver motes swimming in the dense air space. He thought of waking up to Sherlock gently prodding him, calling his name out repeatedly, their warm embrace and the adventure with the shirt. He said another prayer of thanks to whomever it was that blessed him with asking for a spare shirt, not for causing Sherlock to revisit his past emotional trauma and break down into a sobbing, unstable mess, but because the situation allowed him to open up, spilling more information to John than he ever would have without the physical trigger. A part of him winced internally, regretting his actions that split the typically stoic demeanour of the professional he adored.

"I called at ten, ten o'clock John! Your poor mother was frantic, I have no doubt she's been in touch with authorities trying to call in a missing persons case, and you're lucky as fuck I stopped her! I won't do that for you ever again, you owe me for this! Where the Hell were you, John?" Cassie bordered on neurotic, her fingers grasping her classmate's shoulders, shaking him roughly as if it could help bring some sense into him, if anything. She didn't seem pissed off, or mad, she seemed worried, concerned, upset for his general well being. Even if none of this had to do with her dislike for his boss, she was worried that he didn't make it home last night.

Acting upon instinct, John batted her hands away, snacking them harshly to get her to back off. His brow was furrowed in anger at her.
"First on, why the Hell were you calling my house at TEN O'CLOCK? Secondly, what did you even say to my mother?" He didn't even care that she said she solved the alleged problem with his anxious mother, he was getting tired of her trying to involve herself with his personal life, whether or not she was trying to get him into more trouble or not, but he knew, especially after the shit she said previously, that any of her intentions were good.

"I called by accident actually, your name is underneath Jesse's and your mother has call display. I told her, you ungrateful sod, that you were sleeping over here with two other kids from the class, she was pissed that you were spending the night at a female's house without her permission, but she was thankful she at least 'knew' where you were. I edged her off by telling her you tried calling before but the ringer was off. Fuck, John, I was panicking more than I had ever felt in my life, but I couldn't tell your mum that, cause I just fucking told her you were with me!" Cassie screamed, her face bright red and tears were rolling down her cheeks. John felt a spark of unadulterated anger towards her, he had enough of her pathetic tears-was she trying to evoke sympathy from him? He didn't feel any towards her. The other kids who had entered the building stopped in their tracks, wondering if they should leave them in peace or not. The ginger's voice only grew louder and more harsh as she spat out curse words and insults at the timid blonde boy.

John tried to think of things for him to say that didn't involve the words 'fuck you' or 'fuck off', but couldn't, so he tactfully kept his mouth shut, his lips a horizontal line of fury. He tried to think of things to say to her.
"She never worried until you told her my boss was a paedophile." John stated, his voice wavering but otherwise calm, as he stood up and walked out of the classroom door, the other students, including the teacher, stared in, not awe, but rather in disbelief, at both the fight itself and what John had said. Did Cassie seriously say something like that? Everyone who knew her would never believe it, but John never had a habit of fibbing either, and by the fight itself, it didn't seem at all likely that he had lied about it.

All the other students remained quiet until a small voice piped up from amongst the gaggle of stunned teenagers.
"There's going to be shit going down tonight, huh?"

Chapter Text

John couldn't focus for the entire duration of the class. His forehead was sticky with perspiration, his mind unfocused on the different scenarios playing out in his head. He had to get to work tonight, he had to pick up his book bag from the back room, he had to pick up his car, he wouldn't even get home until later tonight, how was he going to face his parents? He stood at his station, flat iron in hand, mannequin looking with her blank, judgmental gaze in the mirror.

On one hand, he could skip work entirely and just take the bus home. But then Sherlock would no doubt hunt him down to question him, or, worse yet, be worried and think he scared him off.

On the other hand, he could go to work, get his bag, do his job, and drive home.

On a foot, he could go to work, claim he had an overloading pile of homework, grab his bag and drive home. Problem solved.

Yes, he liked this idea, that way he could talk to his parents earlier without them freaking out on him for constantly being late, no doubt they would ask him, regardless of time 'where did we go wrong in parenting you?', it was a given, considering they always believed they had raised an intelligent, motivated, hard working child. Now, John didn't think he was any of those things. He looked in the mirror and saw a stupid, lazy, half arsed boy, who gave in to bodily pleasures and the beck and call of his male boss that he was summarily romantically attached to.

Once he got home, he knew he wouldn't be spared from the fires of his parents Hell, no matter what time he came home tonight, he knew he'd be in for a lecture. Better skip work tonight. The best thing for him to do would be honest to Sherlock, wouldn't it? Tell him that he had an important family meeting to go to and he had to skip work, but why tell the truth when you had an equally good lie?

Heaving a heavy, heartfelt sigh, John wondered how he had come to this, lying in order to avoid confrontation, lying to his boss, no less, who had the power to fire him and give him a bad reputation-and he hadn't even finished school. No less, lying to his parents, lying to his friends, his teacher, and possibly worst of all, himself. He lied so often to so many people, he was starting to believe them and their reasons.

Cassie hadn't spoken to him the entire salon period, which everyone found odd, regardless of their earlier confrontation, it was unheard of that they wouldn't speak, even if it were just to make a snappy comment towards the other. It put the entire class on edge, the conflict between the two of them. They weren't the most popular people in the class, nor were they anywhere close to the most respected, but they were part of the social glue of the class, their usual high energy and quick witted comments keeping everyone from barking at each other most of the time. They are, what one would consider 'underrated', and now they didn't even have that, it was strange how they could pull this off for an entire day. Was it jealousy, was it just pure unadulterated hatred and loathing that they felt? It wasn't certain that they would ever make up from this, it was a larger fight than any of them had seen from the mischievous duo, and although friendships could be strong, this seemed different, there seemed to be a lot rooted underneath the clips everyone else had seen.

"Hey, John, are you actually going to do something with your flat iron?" The voice came from the teacher, behind him. A gentle, yet curious voice only wanting the best for her students, yet it seemed too invasive for John to fully answer properly.

"Yeah, yeah, I was just...planning the piece." He lied through his teeth, not actually knowing what he was doing with the mannequin, or even what the task was that he was supposed to be doing for the rest of the allotted class time. It was obvious that he was distracted, he wasn't working, he was standing there staring off into space, or rather, at the ceiling, his daily task sheet on his station with nothing checked off of it.

"John, I know you're going through a difficult time, if you need to talk about anything, my office door is always open for you. Come on, you can get these done, these should be easy for you." She was trying to motivate him without sounding condescending, and for the most part, it worked. He really should have done these tasks, flat iron curls, a style with wave, and some finger waves. There was no reason he should be standing there thinking about things that hadn't happened yet. He thanked his teacher, pretending to section the hair in half arsed subsections, in reality he was making it seem like he was busy so no one would talk to him anymore. John figured that if he even did just one task, that would get everyone off of his back. Especially seeing as there was only an hour left in the salon period itself.

He didn't bother to reply to her, what was he going to say? 'Yes I'll try to work on something'? No, he would get let it be and do at least one task, already feeling the brooding darkness of anticipation that the next salon day would bring. Now he would have two whole classes to catch up for, meanwhile right now everyone else was lounging in their chairs chatting and socializing because they finished all of their work, much to the dismay of their teacher, who believed that even though they were done their work, they should still be practicing the skills or finishing up on the paper based homework that was due tomorrow.

John didn't blame them though, with the way he was feeling now, if he had the option of doing so, he'd be spinning around and talking too. Well maybe not talking, but he certainly would have had everything done by now so he could relax.

Oh well, just one more thing on his mind to worry about, it's not as if he had to think about other, more important events. He was a dreamer, not in the sense of Martin Luther King Jr, but he did dream, he preferred the safety, although thinly veiled protection of dreaming.

He had never been quite as grateful for the end of the day school bell to ring. Actually for this entire week he owed that bell so much for bailing him out of bad situations.

He knew what he was going to do, he would look Sherlock in the face and tell him that there was no way he could work tonight, he had family matters to sort out, he would get his bag, get his car, and leave. That was the right thing to do, it was what his parents would want. If nothing else, he sort of had to made it up somehow to them for being a 'delinquent' these past few weeks.

His plan had him in a great mood, until he realized that he was, indeed, without a way to get to work unless he walked there. Either that, or take a bus, which required money, which was in his his bag, at the salon. He made himself focus on the positive side, he was going to get home eventually tonight. He cut through the front school parking lot when he saw the familiar, expensive new model vehicle pull up beside him. His stomach sank to his feet when he saw it, this wasn't good.

"Sorry I'm late, John, I had a late running appointment. Are you ready for work?" Sherlock had a voice that was warm and inviting, like the promise of what lie in wait for us on the top of the clouds. John hummed, getting distracted, he didn't open the passenger side door, he looked stern into the window and shook his head.
"I can't work today, I just have to pick up my bag and my car and head home. There's some family matters I have to attend to before I can do anything at work. I'm sorry, I know I'm on an apprenticeship program and I can't afford to miss any days, but I cannot come in today." John continued his look of stoic nature, not wanting Sherlock to see how he was really shaking inside, his stomach doing metaphorical flip flops.

"I understand, they're mad about yesterday eh?" John watched the way Sherlock's nose crinkled upwards, he looked apologetic, but even still he patted the passenger seat.
"Get in, it's faster for you to get there in a car anyway."

"It's just, I haven't really been home in two weeks, they're concerned that I'm turning into a delinquent, and I think they might be right. I've never been like this, and even though it's technically work, they just don't understand that it's on the same level as school, they don't know that I'm supposed to be doing this. I think taking one day off so I can talk to them, since I don't get home until nearly midnight if at all. I want them to know that I'm not a bad kid, they're approval means a lot to me, since they're the ones supporting me to finish school in the first place." John opened the door and rubbed the back of his neck, he was relieved that Sherlock at least understood, that was a huge weight off his chest, he could feel himself breathing, feel his lungs expanding, it took very little effort even though his throat felt dry, he knew he was choking up, why? Why was he feeling this way? He hadn't gotten in trouble, there should be no reason for this sudden flood of emotions.

"Do you want me to come with you? I can talk to them for you, make them see that you really have been at work. I know it might not seem that way, but I know what you're going through." Sherlock waited until John had settled in, seat belt on, he looked like he had reverted back to his earlier state of depression and shock, even though he was just in complete shock that Sherlock wasn't berating him for skipping out of work.

"I don't know if that's a good idea, I mean, I really do appreciate your offer, but I think if I talk to them first they'll understand, and if they want to talk to you I have your phone number. I don't want you to miss out on your clients, they need you more than I do." John's main reason for not wanting Sherlock to accompany him was because of how many lies John had told his parents, and what Cassie has said, he wanted a chance to clear some things up before they bombarded Sherlock with all of the accusations of being a pedophile, of keeping their son out all night and all of that fun stuff.

"Only if you're sure, I'll keep my phone on in case you need me. I don't want you to be in too much trouble because of me, John." Stopped at a red light, Sherlock leaned over and planted a chaste kiss to John's lips, showing that he still loved him and would be there in case he ever needed any help.

"I appreciate it, Sherlock, I really do. I...I love you, and I know you're here if I need you." John looked at his feet, blushing a deep red pallor in his cheeks. The older man shook his head and laughed, his laugh like honey, oozing through John's body, his insides covered with chills.

"You're something, you know that? I don't know what to tell you, other than I really hope you're right about me." His accent was thick like honey to match his tone of voice. John wasn't sure if he should take it as a compliment or a deep philosophical thought that he should correct or even change in the slightest.

"I think so, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I don't tend to stick around people that don't interest or entice me." John meant for it to sound casual, chill and mature, but in reality he sounded like a bit of a prick that was trying to impress someone, and for the most part that was true, he wanted nothing more than to impress Sherlock and make him see that John was the right choice in partner.

"And the age doesn't bother you? The brooding past doesn't either? Knowing that if you do get seriously involved with me, you are going to have to tell your parents, and your friends, and possibly have some media spotlight given I still hold quite a large rank? Is this all right with you?" The tone of the conversation turned serious as Sherlock pulled into the parking lot on the side of the building, turning off the car ignition. They sat in several seconds of silence before John turned to Sherlock and looked him in the eyes, not blinking, not turning away.

"Sherlock, you're my boss. You took me in and gave me a job and then you told me your stories. You let me stay at your house, you were so gentle with me, even though I know I'm not the type of person you usually go for. I love you, Sherlock, and if nothing else, I'm happy you showed me why people enjoy being in relationships and the whole trusting other people thing." John put his hand on Sherlock's chest, feeling the slow steady drumming of his heartbeat, even underneath the layers of shirts.

Sherlock didn't reply vocally, cupping John's rounded chin in his palm, the heat radiating into the younger boy's skin, making his jaw shudder with the mix of his cold skin from the chill in the air. He kissed John slowly, their lips pressed together, Sherlock's were soft and smooth, expertly navigating the outline of the blonde's own slightly chapped, dry lips. The dark haired man pressed his tongue carefully to John's cupid's bow before pulling away, his eyes locked onto John's, his gaze unrelenting yet fervent.

"Thank you, my baby giraffe." Sherlock murmured before opening the drivers side door and stepping out, whilst John sat there, slightly confused at what just happened, his lips tingling with anticipation but his head trying to wrap around what just took place.