Wherein a backrub is given, and it turns out Sherlock worked as a massage therapist.
I woke to Sherlock clinging to me in a way he’d never done before. It was uncomfortable and my arms had gone completely numb from being pinned under me.
In his sleep, Sherlock nuzzled my ear and muttered something that possibly wasn’t English.
“I said ‘I missed you, John’.” He repeated.
“You’re still angry.”
“A bit, yeah. Think I have a right to be.”
Sherlock hummed and pressed even closer – unnecessary, since the bed was more than large enough for two. “You’ll forgive me.”
He was right. Of course he was right. But at the moment I was still angry. And tense. And wondering why Sherlock was fondling the back of my skull.
“Uh,” I started. Sherlock let go of me then, but before I could move, he was kneeling over me, keeping me face-down on the bed.
“Uh?” I tried again. This time Sherlock started massaging my scalp and neck.
“Sherlock, seriously...” I said, hoping the third time would be the charm. He responded by doing something to the nape of my neck that felt so incredible that I almost blacked out.
“Sherlock, my arms are numb.”
Grumping, he moved enough so that I could unfold my arms. They were dead asleep and useless and I sighed and let them fall onto the bed on either side of me. Sherlock seemed set on staying where he was and I was quite... unarmed (pun intended).
He started with my left hand and worked slowly up until he reached the bicep. His fingers barely brushed against my shoulder.
“Scar tissue,” he said.
He worked on my right arm while he talked. “Massage is very good for breaking up scar tissue. It helps prevent the re-injury of an area because it improves the mobility and frees the muscles. Some people are particular about having scar tissue touched. The scarring can affect nerve endings, causing the massage to hurt more than it should. This may also be psychological, but it’s something to be aware of.”
“Took massage lessons?”
“I needed something to keep myself busy.”
“Well I’m fine with it. I had massage therapy as part of my rehabilitation.”
“You’ll let me know if I hurt you.”
“You know I will.” The conversation – the whole situation, in fact – was surreal but so very Sherlock that I wasn’t uncomfortable. If this was his way of apologising for the last three years... it was a good start.
I helped him get my shirt off and relaxed as he started again. “So did you do this professionally?”
“For about six months. It was the easiest way to get to Hutchinson. He had a standing appointment for a weekly massage. It was easy to get myself assigned as his regular therapist. I earned his trust, learned his secrets, and when I was absolutely certain without a doubt that he was one of Moriarty’s men, I poisoned him.”
“Drugs in the oil?”
“A topical anaesthetic in the massage oil, and then nothing more than a scratch to introduce a lethal, nearly undetectable drug.”
“Nice one. You’re not planning to do that to me, are you?”
“Only if you don’t forgive me.”
I laughed, but at the same time I wondered if he were really kidding.
Minutes slipped by in silence. His fingers found tiny knots in my neck and shoulders and behind my ears that I didn’t know were there. I found myself drifting in and out of sleep.
“Do your massages come with a happy ending?” It wasn’t until Sherlock snorted a laugh that I knew I’d actually said it out loud.
Wherein living together (and John's ex) are discussed.
It was late evening by the time we had breakfast.
“So you said ‘bee keeping’.” I said as a way of making small talk while we ate.
Sherlock chewed a piece of toast and nodded. “They’re very orderly. Structured. Not thriving, though. I may need to consider a different strain of bee. Possibly a hybrid. Maybe something of my own.”
“I just can’t imagine you keeping bees. It sounds like the punchline to a bad joke.”
“It’s relaxing,” he said, not sounding relaxed at all. “Besides, it’s not like I plan to devote my life to it. It’s just something I picked up to fill the empty hours.”
There was another lull in the conversation.
“So is it really over? Moriarty’s network and all?”
“Yes.” He paused. “Is your situation really over?”
“Mary. Your girlfriend. The one you were – until six months ago – living with.”
“Ah. Right. Forgot that you were spying on me while I thought you were dead.”
“Sorry. Is this a touchy subject for you?” He wasn’t sorry at all. He was deliberately needling me.
“Look, mate, your eye is still black. Unless you want me to do that to the other, drop it. Especially when you probably know better than I do why the relationship fell apart.”
“On the contrary. I know you left her, but I don’t understand why.”
“It just wasn’t working. We got on great. She’s fun and bright and kind and funny and tidy, but we just couldn’t live together. You can’t go backward to just dating after you’ve lived with someone. It doesn’t work.”
“You couldn’t live with her, but you live with me.”
“I used to live with you. I’ve got my own place now. I like not finding random heads in the fridge.”
“If I promised to get a second fridge for experiments, will you move back to Baker Street?”
I laughed. “That would last about three days before you started leaving fingers in the crisper.”
“A week, at least! I do have some restraint, you know.”
It felt good to laugh.
It was a quiet evening in – something that never seemed to happen around Sherlock Holmes. We sat up talking, reading, not talking, and just existing in the house. I glanced at my mobile a few times, but there was never service.
Around four in the morning I decided to turn in – if only for a few hours – in an attempt to get back to a normal wake/sleep cycle. Unlike Sherlock, I don’t function well without proper rest and eventually Mycroft would take me home and I would have to resume working.
As I passed Sherlock’s chair he reached up and grabbed my wrist. Without looking up from his book he said “You’ll move back in, won’t you?”
“Yeah, I suppose so.” Sharing rent was easier than doing on my own, and he was apparently the only person I could live with. “You know I lived with you longer than I have with any of my girlfriends?”
“Interesting,” he murmured and released my wrist.
Wherein Sherlock learns that kissing is not a subject for research. Also, kissing happens.
I napped for a few hours and woke to sunlight pouring into my room. A check of my phone said it was eight-thirty (and no service). I took a quick shower, shaved, and put on clean clothes so thoughtfully provided by Mycroft.
Sherlock was in the back garden, stretched out in a chair, eyes closed against the light. His nose and cheeks were turning pink from the sun.
“I made coffee,” he proclaimed as I sat in the chair next to him. He used his foot to point at a carafe on a small table. “See?”
“Survival. It took me ages to figure how you fixed my coffee. Do you know people order horrible things? Half-caf, skinny, soy whip, triple-pump of chemical-tasting garbage, in coffee heated to temperatures so high that it destroys the true flavour? And why does decaf even exist, John? Why is that even a thing?”
“You might want to consider switching to it. You’re wired.”
“So call Mycroft. Have him get us out of here.”
“Can’t. No service. Mycroft thought it would do us both some good to ‘get away for a bit’. Well I’ve been away for three bloody years. I want to go back to being me.”
He launched himself from the chair and dropped to the ground. On his stomach, he plucked a few blades of grass. “I am literally watching grass grow.”
I let him have his tantrum while I got some coffee. It wasn’t bad.
Sherlock amused himself for a while by watching ants, occasionally knocking them off-course to see how long it took for them to resume their tasks. Then suddenly he was on his feet again, stalking toward the kitchen.
“A bit, yeah. Want me to – ”
“I’ve got it.” As he passed by my chair he paused and kissed me on the forehead.
He ... kissed me on the forehead? I touched the spot, and then studied my fingers as if there would be evidence of poison on them. I sniffed the coffee in my mug. I didn’t seem to be drugged and hallucinating.
I followed Sherlock into the kitchen. “You just kissed my forehead.”
“I thought kissing you on the mouth might be a bit too forward.”
I nodded. “Well that makes sense. I can see why kissing me on the forehead would be a better option in a world where everything has gone completely mad.”
“Would you let me kiss you?”
“Would. You. Let. Me. Kiss. You.”
“You have gone completely mad.”
“You’ve been thinking about it since you punched me. Probably from the moment it happened, but certainly since I came to, which is when I was able to notice it. The whole time we’ve been here, when you think I’m not looking, you’re staring at my mouth. Several times whilst staring you’ve licked your lips. Twice you’ve touched your fingers to your mouth. You are clearly telegraphing all the signs of someone who wants to kiss me, and I find myself wanting the same.”
I folded my arms across my chest and lifted my chin. “Fine. Do it.”
He stepped closer. “You do it.”
“You started it!”
“You started it. You’re practically holding up a flashing neon sign.”
We got closer with each exchange. “You’re the one who asked if you could kiss me.”
“I. Already. Kissed you,” he growled. There was almost no space between us now. I couldn’t look at him because he was too close for me to focus.
“Foreheads don’t count,” I mumbled. And then I sort of lost track of who kissed who first. It was pleasant and warm and kind of like kissing a relative (if, as an adult, one makes a habit of kissing unshaven male relatives) until his hands moved from my shoulders to my face.
Sherlock’s fingers prodded gently at my throat and jaw. I laughed through my nose and he pulled back.
“Can’t you just enjoy it?”
“Can’t I enjoy it and study it?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake...” I grabbed his hands and kissed him again. This time I know for a fact that I started it. I was the one who introduced tongues into it. “Sherlock,” I muttered against his mouth as I adjusted my hold on his hands, “stop trying to take my pulse.”
More kissing happens. Sex is absolutely not a thing to be researched, and sex absolutely isn't going to happen, at all. Probably.
So there was kissing. The rest of the morning was filled with kissing. Quick ones. Long, slow, lazy ones. Furious ones. Breathless. French (resulting in my tongue being bitten three times). Disastrous. Awkward. Upside-down. Sitting, standing, prone.... Sherlock would get an idea and inflict it on me.
“Inflict” is probably a bit harsh, but after a while it did get a bit ridiculous. I was glad he’d never seen “Lady and the Tramp” because I was drawing the line at spaghetti.
By late afternoon I was tired and a little bit sick of the invasions of my personal space. “I’m going to have a lie-down. Wake me in about two hours, yeah?”
“Can I come?”
I felt the colour drain from my face, afraid of what he was asking. Then I realised he meant could he nap with me.
“You thought I meant something else, didn’t you,” he purred. I hated when he did that. He cocked his head to the side. “And now we’re both thinking about it.”
“Except it’s not going to happen.”
“Come on, John. It’s just for fun. For bonding! You’re military. You’ve been in combat. Surely you had a few tension-relieving trysts in Afghanistan? Or during medical school?” He was using that voice of his – hypnotic and low – and he was doing that thing where he moved closer and closer without me even seeing it.
I was pressed against the doorframe. Sherlock’s hands on my face, his hip against my groin, and his tongue in my mouth.
“For science?” He asked when we paused for breath.
I pushed him back. “Dammit, Sherlock! I’m not just a science experiment, you know. I’m a bloody human being and sex means something to me. I don’t want to do it just so you can study the effects of arousal and orgasm. It’s not going to happen. Not now. Not ever.”
I disappeared into my room and hoped he hadn’t noticed the fact that I was hard as a rock. I wasn’t ready to admit that it would mean something to me, though I was certain Sherlock had already put that together.
This was confirmed a moment later when he called from the other side of the door. “I crossed a line, John. Implying that it was an experiment was wrong.”
“You didn’t ‘imply’ anything. You flat-out stated it.”
“It was a joke. A poorly timed one.”
“I’m having a nap.”
No, I wasn’t. I was having a wank. Masturbating to thoughts of Sherlock – his hands, his eyes, his mouth, his voice. Even after coming I slept fitfully, dreaming about it.
Sherlock was sitting outside again when I emerged from my room. Once again I took the chair next to him. “If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen on its own.”
Sherlock said nothing.
Wherein sex is sort-of had, and John is confused by the whole situation.
The next few days passed without incident. We slept in our own rooms (well, I slept in mine. I assume Sherlock kept to his usual schedule of Not Sleeping), read books, chatted, and occasionally snogged.
And then it happened on its own. One moment we were sharing the sofa. Sherlock’s head resting against my leg, both of us reading. Then we were kissing. Then, somehow, I ended up under Sherlock with my hands down his trousers.
He braced his hands on the arm of the sofa and closed his eyes. There was an almost imperceptible nod when I asked him if he was okay and a nearly inaudible “no” when I asked if I should stop.
Soon I’d undone his trousers and pulled them down. He wasn’t wearing pants – he almost never did (I’d done his laundry enough to know that). I’d seen Sherlock naked before but this time it was different. Completely not clinical or necessary.
I stroked slowly, trying to watch his face for signs of what he liked or didn’t like, but feedback was minimal. Just the quietest of noises and the occasional spasm in his stomach or hips. No change in body temperature. Very little eye movement. Hands never changing position. I tried variations in speed and pressure. Held his foreskin back with one hand and caressed the tip with the other. Nothing. He was unreadable.
After fifteen or so minutes he wrapped his hand around mine. “Stop. I need you to stop.”
“Was that... not okay?”
“It was fantastic. I just didn’t want you to get tired.”
Sherlock chuckled and settled down against me, folding himself up to fit the length of the sofa. His trousers were still down his thighs, but he didn’t seem to care.
“Are you sure that was okay? You didn’t come.”
“I don’t often. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. It’s just how it works.”
I was still certain I’d done something wrong, or that he changed his mind halfway through. That he didn’t actually want me (and why did that matter to me?), or that he needed something else (Oral? Dirty talk? Toys? Ropes? Riding crops?!). When we got back to Baker Street, should I find him a woman? A pro?
Sherlock pressed his fingers against my forehead. “John. Do stop thinking. It’s keeping me awake.”
Chapter 6: Felis Catus
From the Unblogged Diary of John H. Watson:
We had a cat when I was very young. He was a skinny, long-limbed cat with no sense of personal space and a loud, grating voice. If you sat still the cat was there, in your face, demanding entertainment. The cat was convinced we were only there to serve him. If he didn’t need anything from you, you didn’t exist.
One summer when I was eight, I spent two weeks with my cousins. The cat ignored me for three days when I came home, apparently irritated that I failed to be where he wanted me to be.
I was trying to read – working my way through a set of mystery novels and short stories I’d found in “my” room. I was trying to read because I was finding it very difficult because Sherlock was sitting next to me, his spine pressed against my left side, subtly pushing me into the right arm of the sofa.
“What year were you born?” I asked.
“Just wondering if you’re the reincarnation of my old cat.”
“Maybe. What was his name?”
“Oswald? That’s a stupid name.”
“Oh really, Sherlock?”
“Touché. “ A pause. “Tell me about your cat.”
“He was... you know. He was a cat. Very catlike.”
“We were never allowed pets.”
“Probably afraid of what you’d do to them in the name of science.”
Sherlock bristled, apparently remembering our argument from a few days before. “I am capable of putting my analytical impulses on hold.”
“Of course you are,” I said soothingly, reaching up to scratch behind his ear. Sherlock was immediately mollified. “Oswald liked that, too.” I teased.
“Did Oswald also like having his stomach rubbed?”
“Hated it. He’d have your arm off if you tried.” I took the hint and – despite the awkward angle – ran my hand along Sherlock’s stomach and ribs. Still too thin, I thought. Once we’re home I’ll start after him about eating better.
“What did Oswald like?”
“He liked hearing me talk. I’d do my homework by telling him what I was doing. Read aloud. Work out my maths by talking to him.”
“See? Thinking out loud helps.”
“He also really liked crumpled up paper. Shall I crumple some paper for you to chase?”
“Ha. Ha.” Sherlock crossed his arms over his stomach, stilling my hand. I went back to my book.
After a while Sherlock spoke again. “Did you love him?”
“Suppose so, yeah. I mean, he was a cat, so... as much as you can love a cat without it being creepy.”
“Ah.” Said Sherlock.
We were stood in a field of plants I couldn’t identify watching at least a hundred bees drift from flower to flower. The air was heavy with the threat of rain and the hum of insects. Sherlock was standing stock still, staring, and studying the bees. Mentally noting which flowers held the greatest attraction. Timing how long each bee stayed on a particular blossom.
Eventually his pinky finger curled around mine and tugged gently. “Done now.” We started for home.
“You’re very quiet.”
“I’m tired of being here. Mycroft’s drifting into the absurd. No news. No internet. No mobile service... I need mental stimulation.”
He stopped talking, stared straight ahead, and then said “Not that I don’t enjoy your company, John.”
“I’m just not a puzzle.”
He laughed dryly and stalked off ahead of me. “You’re a puzzle I don’t want to solve. I don’t want you to bore me.”
I was offended. Then I realised what he was saying – he lost interest in things once he’d figured them out. I was still offended, but at least I got it.
I caught up to him. “Can’t promise that. I’m a pretty dull guy.”
“Are you? A man who has fifteen identical pairs of socks must be hiding something.”
“An abject fear of not having a matched pair of socks?”
“Obviously stems from an experience in your youth. Showed up for a date with non-matching socks and got laughed at when she noticed.”
“I hate you.”
“Of course you do.”
We had lunch in relative silence. The phones still said “no service”. We’d been here almost two weeks and were running low on food. Mycroft had to come back soon.
“What if Mycroft’s died,” I mused.
“No, that’s not possible. I think we’d hear the celebrations all the way out here,” Sherlock countered.
“Maybe he’s got you locked away here in case you went mad as a result of hunting and killing Moriarty’s men?”
“Possible, but why would he trap you here, as well? He actually likes you.”
“What if he’s spying on us, waiting to see if we shag?” I considered it for a moment. “If that’s the case, I suppose I could take one for the team if it meant going home.”
“If that’s your idea of seduction I think I know why all your girlfriends leave you.”
“Still hate you.”
“Obviously. That explains why you’ve got your hands down my trousers again.”
And that was the start of the most awkward trip to the bedroom ever in the history of sex. Even my very first time managed to be less uncomfortable.
We couldn’t kiss without laughing. Neither of us actually believed Mycroft was watching, but once the idea was in our heads we couldn’t let it go. Our foreheads smacked together at one point. Sherlock’s elbow clipped the side of my head. I couldn’t get the knot out of my left shoelace. Sherlock commented on my socks. Getting undressed is not supposed to be an arduous task.
I suppose I shouldn’t tease Sherlock about his analytical approach to sex because there he was, standing naked in front of me, and the medical part of my brain was in charge: Too thin. New scars. Old evidence of a chemical rash. Burn marks. The last three years had aged him.
“If this is sex, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
I burst out laughing. “Idiot.”
Kissing was good. We’d gotten good at doing that together. Sprawled across the bed, stark naked was a new dimension, but it was a good one. Once we figured out where all the limbs went, at least.
Sherlock studied me as he stroked my cock. I couldn’t even tease him about it because he was so focused. Even if I had said anything I doubt he would have heard me. Anyhow, the things he was doing with his hand were making it difficult for me to speak.
I reached for him but he pushed my hand away.
“Not necessary,” he said curtly, irritated at being interrupted.
If he wanted me to just shut up and enjoy it, I wasn’t going to argue.
Sherlock experimented with speed, pressure, angle, and location. Strong, calloused fingers squeezed, stroked, teased, massaged, and ultimately brought me off. He stared at me for a long time, half-smiling.
“Now will you let me?” I asked.
“I’m fine.” He curled up next to me, warm and relaxed. “Honestly. Watching you was enough.”
“You are an odd, odd man.”
Five minutes into giving Sherlock a blowjob I wondered if I was doing it right. I kept thinking about what I liked, but there was no guarantee he’d like the same.
Ten minutes in I realised it might not be normal to time the thing and tried to relax. The utter stillness and silence from Sherlock was unsettling, so I stopped and looked up at him.
“Why’re you stopping?” Sherlock’s voice was thick and sleepy.
“Making sure you’re still awake.”
“I am. I’m just trying to process it all.”
“A little feedback would be nice. I don’t exactly know what I’m doing.”
He looked startled, as if it hadn’t occurred to him that this might be new territory for me, too. “Really?”
“Yes, really. Jesus. What sort of things went on in your school? I don’t actually want to know what you got up to with your friends.”
“They weren’t my friends and I didn’t ‘get up to’ anything with them. I was more of an unwilling observer. Overhearing their conversations if not the acts.”
“Still. Little feedback?”
“Oh, god. Yes, John, yes. Just like that.” He deadpanned.
“And ‘just like that’ the magic is gone.” I leaned against the footboard while Sherlock sat up at the head of the bed.
“I was enjoying it. It really is a lot to process.”
“You really can’t turn it off, can you. That’s why you had the drug problem.”
He made a face and started to curse Mycroft’s name. I held up one hand. “I am a doctor, you remember. And not actually an idiot. I don’t care. As long as you’re clean now, I don’t care. We’re supposed to be stupid in our twenties.”
“I wasn’t stupid. It’s not like I joined the military,” he said, and burst out laughing at the look on my face.
“You are an enormous tit,” I said.
“Yes, but you love me.”
“Pretty sure I hate you.”
“Same thing, really.”
Mycroft showed up two days later when we were literally down to a slice of bread and a tin of beans.
The ride back to Baker Street was uncomfortable. I was sure the Holmes brothers were having some sort of conversation using a complex language of snorts, grunts, heavy sighs, and eye rolls. I sat there silently wishing the windows weren’t tinted so black you couldn’t see out them.
During a pause in their mutual sulk, I spoke up. “Have you already moved my things back into my old room, or are you going to let me pretend I have some control over my life?”
I sighed. “Did you make up my bed at least?”
“Mrs Hudson did. Despite the fact that she’s still very insistent that she’s not your housekeeper.”
Sherlock’s phone chimed just then and he beamed at it, happy to be back in an area with service. “Lestrade,” he said. “Seems there’s been a murder he doesn’t like the looks of. Mycroft, have your driver hurry. There’s work to do.” As an afterthought, he said “Coming, John?”
And that was that. I had no idea what was going on. Didn’t care, really. I just knew Sherlock was back and I’d follow him anywhere.
And if we continued our odd relationship, that was fine, too.
Struggling out of clothing, frantic, desperate for contact. Reaching, grabbing. Hands on skin. Mouth on skin. Teeth on skin. Fingers pressing into flesh, leaving bruises on skin stretched too tight over too-sharp hipbones.
Sherlock’s cock heavy in my hand. Hard. Ready. So fucking perfect. Focusing my attention on it. Duplicating things he’d done to me that’d nearly made my brain explode. Desperate to get him to come.
Fast. Hard. Dirty. Growling obscenities in his ear. “Come on, you gorgeous bastard.” Being rewarded with a chuckle against my neck or fingers gripping harder on my biceps.
“Let go, Sherlock.”
“Almost!” He grunted and then shivered. “Don’t stop. Almost, so don’t... no. Stop. Stop!” He pushes me back, away, panting and flushed. We both look down.
“No, huh?” I say.
“Seems like not,” he says, drawing deep breaths to steady himself.
“Is that actually normal?”
“Again, for me, yes.”
“It’s not me. Not my fault? Not because you don’t want ... this?”
“I wish you'd stop asking. Do you think I’d let this go on if I weren’t interested? Go on repeatedly in fact?”
He has a point. “Does it bother you?”
“Only because it seems to bother you.”
“I’m just worried that it’s because of me.”
Sherlock does things with his mouth and fingers that make it very clear that there is no lack of interest in me. This is just how things are going to be.
I am very okay with that.