Sherlock, aged six months
Six month old Sherlock is fascinated by his own fingers. He favours the thumb of his right hand. His parents think it's adorable, the way their tiny son sleeps; a tiny thumb nestled between tiny cupid’s bow lips.
Sherlock, aged five years and two months
"Sherlock, sweetheart, give me your dummy," his mother pleads. Her work friends are due to arrive at any moment, and having them see her five-year-old son with a dummy would be beyond embarrassing. Mycroft had abandoned his dummy at the age of eighteen months, and neither of his parents are at all sure why their youngest is so attached to his, at his age.
Sherlock shakes his head impetuously, dark messy curls flying around his face. He squeezes his eyes shut, and bites his teeth around the dummy. "No!" he insists, mumbling around it.
"Please, darling?" She kneels beside him, a thin warm hand on his shoulder. "For Mummy?"
Sherlock opens his eyes slowly. He pulls the dummy from his mouth and hands it silently to his mother. He stares at her for a long moment, before returning to sucking his left index finger (which had replaced his right thumb as the digit of choice). His mother figures it's marginally less of an issue than the dummy, and lets him get away with it. Now is not the time for a tantrum. She stands again, ruffling his hair before straightening the fabric of her dress. "Good boy, Sherlock," she smiles. "Go and fetch your brother from his bedroom; Charles and Eugenie will be here soon."
He scampers off, running down the hallway and halfway up the grand stairs, removing his finger just in time to shout, "MYCROFT! MUMMY SAYS COME DOWNSTAIRS NOW!"
Sherlock, aged six years and nine months
Sherlock has stopped sucking his dummy ("it's for babies," was his single pronouncement on the topic), but is still resolutely sucking his finger. He most often does it whilst concentrating, which these days means when he's cross legged in his father's library, an atlas of the world spread open in front of him on the Persian rug. Every now and then he lifts his head, pulls his finger from his mouth, and asks his father a question (whilst wiping the saliva from his finger onto his shorts).
Sherlock, aged seven years and six months
The death of his father hits Sherlock hard. He's already accepted that he doesn't have quite the most normal family in existence, but he loves them anyway. Even Mycroft.
It's Mycroft that breaks the news to him. Sherlock is sitting on one of the large leather chairs by the open fire in the sitting room, swinging his feet gently as he watches the flickering frames. His fingers are playing lightly across his lips as he hums to himself.
He snaps to attention as Mycroft sits himself down in the chair opposite. He sits on the edge of the seat, looking extremely uncomfortable.
"Sherlock," he starts, and falters. He's nearly fifteen, yet now he's the man of the house, and this responsibility falls to him; their mother is currently still beside herself with grief. Sherlock looks at him, expectantly, drawing his knees up to his chest, wrapping his thin arms around them. He thinks he's in trouble.
"Sherlock, you mustn't bother Mother at all, not with anything, not at the moment. Do you understand?" He purses his lips, waiting for a response.
"No," answers Shelock honestly. "What did I do? Is this about the greenhouse, because..."
Mycroft holds his hands up, halting his little brother's rushed query. He sighs before continuing.
"You mustn't bother Mummy, because she's very upset, as I expect you might be in a moment. Father's car was involved in a terrible accident, in Italy."
Sherlock isn't sure he has the full picture quite yet. "Mummy's sad, because Papa is hurt?"
Mycroft, older than his years already, stands and crosses the short space between the two armchairs. He crouches down, taking one of Sherlock's smaller hands in his. "Mummy is sad, because Papa is dead."
Sherlock yanks his hand from Mycroft's, his face crumpling, trying not to cry. He spins around in his chair, nestling his forehead in the join between the side and the back of the chair. He sucks on his finger but it's not enough, it doesn't provide any comfort. His tears begin to fall freely as he pokes his three longest fingers into his mouth, sucking ferociously on them between sobs.
He senses Mycroft standing up behind him, feels a warm hand on his shoulder. "Go away," he pleads, removing his fingers briefly. "Leave me alone!"
Sherlock, aged thirteen years and five months
After being expelled from his fifth school in three years, Mrs Holmes makes the decision to have her youngest son educated at home, by a variety of tutors. He tolerates most of them, but his favourite by far is a young fellow named Phillip Sotherton. Sotherton teaches him science.
Sherlock often gets sent out to roam the grounds, to "investigate nature". He loves it (it's the highlight of his day), even though it's just an excuse to give Sotherton a few hours to work on the final draft of his mystery novel.
It's on one of his jaunts though the gardens that he encounters the gardener's son, Victor. He seems to be around the same age, scrawny, fair haired but tanned. He waves at Sherlock from behind a tree, then moves forward to lean against the trunk. A cigarette is dangling from his lips. Sherlock eyes him suspiciously. "Why aren't you in school?" he questions, staying a few metres away from this new, strange boy.
"Work experience placement with my dad, yeah?" he answers. "Cigarette?"
Sherlock steps forward cautiously, taking a cigarette from a packet the other boy has pulled from his pocket. He accepts the box of matches, but doesn't light the cigarette straight away. "Where did you get these?" he asks.
Victor grins. "My dad give 'em up, didn't he, threw all his fags out, 'cos me mam made him. He'd got loads in duty free, you see, so there's hundreds of them. Nicked them out the bin, didn't I. Hid 'em in the old huts by the pond. Help yourself, your house, innit?"
The explanation satisfies Sherlock, and he lights the cigarette, taking a long drag. Years of watching Mycroft smoke in the courtyard outside his window has given him some idea of the technique required, but putting it into practice is another thing entirely. He coughs and splutters for a moment, before trying again.
This time, it's perfect. He inhales, exhales, and relaxes properly for the first time in weeks.
He's finally found something to replace the therapeutic finger sucking. Something he likes and is somewhat more socially acceptable to the outside world. Even if you are only thirteen.
Sherlock, aged twenty-one years and eight months
Despite an eight year smoking habit, cultivated in the very peak of puberty, Sherlock is a tall man, 6-feet-and-nearly-an-inch of walking sarcasm, nicotine and insomnia.
Since completing his Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry at Oxford last year, he's returned back to the family home. It's just him and his mother wandering the Georgian panelled hallways these days - Mycroft is far too busy occupying a minor position in the British Government, just like dear Papa did. He finds being at home overwhelmingly boring. He spends most days staring out of the library window, or stalking amongst the trees along the perimeter of the grounds, smoking.
On the very worst days, he prises up the loose floorboard in his bedroom, mixes his salvation, his seven percent solution, and his mind... Just. Stops. Buzzing. He barely remembers these episodes, but he does so relish the feeling of floating, of nothingness that lingers (but less and less these days; so he administers more and more, straight into his bloodstream), so he doesn't quite care. He'll do anything if it stops the frantic noise in his brain. Too much data, no organisation.
Sherlock, aged thirty-three years and eleven months
Sherlock realises he’s been a smoker for twenty years. It almost shocks him, the realisation that he's been able to sustain a habit for nearly two-thirds of his life.
He’s got a flatmate now (Dr John Hamish Watson, currently a GP; formerly Captain John Hamish Watson: 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, two tours of Afghanistan, wounded in action, invalided home). A flatmate who very clearly does not appreciate the odour of tobacco smoke, nor the 243 different types of ash.
“OH, GOD!” Sherlock’s having a tantrum in their living room, banging the floor with a harpoon as he shouts. “John? I need some. Get me some.”
“No.” John looks up at him from behind his newspaper, as Sherlock paces by the window, somehow untroubled by the incredibly huge and incredibly sharp object being clutched by an antsy detective.
“GET ME SOME.”
John continues to look quietly exasperated. “No. Cold turkey, we agreed. No matter what. Anyway, you’ve paid everyone off, remember? No-one in a two mile radius will sell you any.”
By sheer force of will, Sherlock manages to pretty much give up smoking. Sure, he will indulge in an occasional cigarette (low tar, if he must…), but it’s no longer an addiction or compulsion. He makes sure to savour every inhalation, though. Just in case it’s his last.
Sherlock, aged thirty-four years and four months
“You’re doing that thing again,” John muses, sitting across from Sherlock on their brown leather sofa. He swings his legs up onto the cushions, edging his toes under Sherlock’s thighs. They’ve been living together long enough that personal space and boundaries have kind of fizzled into nothingness. Sherlock hadn’t really respected them when they’d existed, anyway.
“Hm?” Sherlock doesn’t turn to face John, just carries on thinking.
John smiles fondly. “Fingertip.”
“Fingertip? Oh,” Sherlock nods, moving his hand from his mouth, staring at his finger quizzically. “Sorry.”
“Sorry? What for?” John looks confused. “The finger thing is actually really sweet, you do it all the time. I’m sorry, if I made you uncomfortable about it. Carry on, ignore me. Forget I said anything.” He picks up his book from the coffee table nearby and begins to read. They sit there in companionable silence for another half an hour before Sherlock speaks again.
“Helps me think,” he states, without any lead in or context.
“What?” John looks up from behind the pages of Great Expectations.
Sherlock just looks at him like he is an idiot. He holds up one finger. “Helps me think, started as a child, and after you made me give up smoking, it seems I’ve reverted to childish habits. Although, before, I used to just suck my whole finger. I didn’t expect you’d notice the fingertip thing.”
John nods slowly as he listens. “And you find, the, uh. Whole finger more comforting? More helpful than the fingertip?”
Sherlock considers for a moment before answering. “Yes, I suppose I do.”
John shrugs, his mouth curving up at the side. “Doesn’t bother me, then, if it doesn’t bother you. Go for it. The sooner you solve whatever you’re working on, the sooner you’ll bloody eat something.” He raises an eyebrow. “All right?”
“All right,” Sherlock grins, surprised (but not really) by John’s quick acceptance. He pops his left index finger into his mouth, and carries on thinking.
Sherlock, aged thirty-four years and five months
Looking back, it was pretty obvious that at some point, one of them would pin the other against the hallway wall, high on adrenaline, post-case. It really could have gone either way, but it just so happened that the pinner was John, and the pinned was Sherlock. Neither of them are shocked, really; they’re merely succumbing to the inevitable.
Sherlock raises his chin, exposing his long, pale throat for John to attack hungrily with his mouth, sloppy, open-mouthed kisses against the tender skin. John steps back, breathing heavily, drinking in the sight of the dishevelled genius in front of him. He brings his hand up to slowly, gently, trace a line across Sherlock’s cheekbone, down along his jaw. He smiles as Sherlock moves his head to the side into his caress; he gasps as he realises Sherlock’s craning his neck forward to take one of John’s fingers – his index finger – into his mouth. John’s eyes flutter closed as a hot, wet, confident tongue begins to lick and suck, and “Oh god,” he breathes. “Fuck, Sherlock, Christ.”
Sherlock pulls John’s finger from his mouth, letting his arm fall back to his side. With a grin, the consulting detective leans forward to suck on John’s earlobe for not-quite-long-enough-thankyou, and makes his way speedily upstairs.
John has to pull himself back to reality before realising that yes, he lives upstairs too, and he’s going to miss something pretty fucking spectacular if he insists on remaining in the hallway any longer. His ascent up the stairs in pursuit of Sherlock is a personal best.
He reaches the living room to find Sherlock peeling off his coat, which drops to the floor by his feet, knocking a magazine off the coffee table.
“So,” Sherlock says, fixing John with his most assessing stare
“So,” John replies, meeting Sherlock’s eyes confidently. He pulls his own coat off, throwing it across the room where it lands on the sofa. “Is it just fingers you suck, or…?”
The consulting detective crosses the space between them quickly, his fingers resting lightly on John’s collarbones through his shirt. He traces their contours delicately. He watches the path of his fingers, as does John, peering down as he tries to breathe through his nose, surprised at the eroticism of being touched through his clothes. Somewhat nervously, Sherlock flicks his eyes back up to John.
“I understand what you’re asking, or insinuating, at least. And I’m willing, I have knowledge, but I have no experience.” Sherlock’s hands trace their way down John’s arms, until he reaches his hands. They clasp their fingers together. John listens intently as Sherlock continues. “This is my first, my only sexual encounter.”
John nods as he worries the skin of his lower lip between his teeth. “All right,” he says, a fond smile creeping across his face, his eyes crinkling slightly. “We’d better make this good for each other, then. Up to my room, yeah?” He lets go of one of Sherlock’s hands and brushes an errant curl out of his eyes. “We can do as little, or as much as you want. It’s all good to me.”
He leads Sherlock by the hand up to his bedroom on the top floor. They stand there, silent, in the middle of the room. “So, this, uh, this is the awkward bit, I guess,” John half-giggles with a shrug. “Do you still want to, it’s – it’s OK, if you don’t…”
Sherlock nods, unable to quite find the words to agree whilst he’s slightly overwhelmed. “Yes,” he says, eventually. “I would… I would like to fellate you.” He brushes some imaginary lint from the front of his shirt and looks at the wall behind John’s shoulder. John smiles. He steps into Sherlock’s personal space, tips his head slightly to press a light kiss against the pout of his flatmate’s lips.
“Just for future reference, when you get all technical and give things their proper names? Good, I like it, very good, you should do it again.” He takes Sherlock’s hand, moves it to cover the button and zipper of his jeans. He presses the long fingers against the erection that’s straining against the fabric, a moan escaping his lips involuntarily. “We’ll take it at your pace, but please bear in mind that I’ve not been with anyone in fucking months, and I’ve been fantasising about you for just as long.”
Sherlock smirks at that. He lowers himself to kneel at John’s feet, and he presses his cheek against the crotch of John’s jeans. “So, in my own time, but quite quickly?”
“Exactly.” John rests a hand in Sherlock’s hair, as his button is undone and his zip opened. He gasps slightly as his boxers and jeans are pulled to his feet in one quick motion, his cock springing free. He sees the hunger in Sherlock’s eyes.
“Fuck,” they say in unison. Sherlock edges his mouth towards the head of John’s penis.
“No, no. Wait. I’m gonna keel over if you do it here. Let me, let me sit on the bed.” John kicks his shoes off (difficult with your clothes pooled around your ankles), and steps out of his underwear and jeans to sit himself on the mattress. He’s still got his socks on, but he can’t quite bring himself to care.
Sherlock situates himself between John’s spread legs. He skims his hands along the tops of the calves framing him, all the way over knees, along thighs, until they rest close to the insistent erection, leaking already, demanding attention.
Sherlock licks his lips, readying himself. He dips his head down, curls falling in front of his face. As he takes the tip of John’s cock into his mouth, he feels a hand in his hair, holding it carefully away from his forehead. John wants to see everything, Sherlock realises, and hums appreciatively.
John leans back, his weight supported by his other hand resting behind him on the mattress. “Fuck,” he exhales. Sherlock holds onto his thighs for leverage, thumbs digging in slightly, moving in small circles as he concentrates on taking more of John into his mouth.
Sherlock is busy cataloguing all the new sounds and smells and tastes and sensations coursing through him. His own arousal is starting to make his trousers feel rather uncomfortable. He pulls his mouth off John’s cock with a satisfied pop, and unbuckles his own belt, undoes his trousers, and bares his erection.
John wonders at the loss of Sherlock's hot, wet mouth, thinking at first that he’s changed his mind. His jaw drops at the sight of the man by his feet, slowly stroking himself to full hardness, eyes closed, enveloped in the feeling. “Jesus, Sherlock…” he whispers, reaching to curl a hand around his own cock.
At hearing his name, Sherlock’s eyes snap open again. “Oh, oh, God, oh sorry,” he stammers, having clearly forgotten the task at hand (or mouth, to be more precise). He bats away John with his free hand. “No. Let me, let me do this, John? Please? I just need to, I need to masturbate as I do this.”
John nods mutely. Sherlock is about to suck him off again, at the same time as he fucks his own fist. John’s worried he’ll have a heart attack just at the mere thought of coming. He’s not given much time to think about it, as Sherlock’s mouth closes around his cock again. He feels Sherlock relax his throat around his shaft, and soon he’s been taken in down to the root. He winds his hand through Sherlock’s dark, messy curls again.
Sherlock moves his head rhythmically, letting John slip out of his mouth and back in again, slowly at first. He experiments with different speeds, different suction pressures, swirling his tongue pointedly around the sensitive head; noting which actions get the most favourable reaction from the squirming, swearing man in his grasp (although, really, he’s not getting any unfavourable reactions).
Sherlock feels his own orgasm approaching, and quickens the pace of his fist, bucking into it as he comes. He gags slightly on John’s cock, taking it as deep as he can. John tightens his grip on Sherlock’s messy hair, and can only grunt a warning mere seconds before his own orgasm pulses down Sherlock’s throat, his chest heaving with the exertion of it. Sherlock swallows as much of John’s release as he can, licking the dribbles from his chin as he moves off.
Spent, John collapses backwards onto the bed and Sherlock, still fully clothed (a smear of come on his leg, where he’s wiped his hand clean), crawls on top of him. Satiated, they fall asleep where they are, waking up sticky, sweaty, and inordinately pleased with themselves.