Sherlock was distracted, bordering on distraught.
“Will Father Christmas visit, do you think?” Margaret asked them at supper, buttering her bread and looking hopeful despite the teasing tone of the question.
Sherlock chewed a bite of beef roast—dry and tough, Margaret had quite a bit yet to learn about cooking—and kept mum. He set his gaze on his plate, willed his skin not to flush up; his head was lately full of thoughts, memories, dreams, all of which were wholly inappropriate for the dining table. John had woken him that morning at first light, when it seemed the whole world was quiet, burrowing beneath the covers so a draught got in and raised gooseflesh on the skin of Sherlock’s thighs, bare beneath the nightshirt that had ridden up through the turning and shifting of a night’s sleep. Barely aware, hovering in that twilit space between sleep and wakefulness, Sherlock had no plain thought, only dreamy sensation as the damp heat of John’s mouth closed around him, John’s hands on his thighs, his hips, sliding beneath him to cant up his backside to rest on John’s forearms. Sherlock awoke to a brisk winter morning warmed in rolling waves by John’s loving ministrations, and all day he’d been lingering in the memory of it.
He barely heard as John and Margaret nattered on about Christmas Eve.
John smiled. “I imagine he might. What’s he got better to do in this county, than visit every cottage?”
“We’ll hang the socks, just in case,” Margaret agreed, and looked pleased.
“You saw the Christmas stockings Margaret knitted up for us, Holmes?” John asked.
At that moment, Sherlock was, to his slight shame, caught up in a dream of John’s warm, languid lips and tongue exploring him, hungry, sweet, settling between Sherlock’s open thighs, nose buried in the hair there, whispers fanning hot breath across his saliva-slicked skin, nudging, licking, those low hums of satisfaction as if Sherlock was delicious . . .
Sherlock hummed, quick-shook his head to clear it, gave a little cough and reached for his glass, sipped the cider to bide his time.
“Everyone becomes so silly at Christmastide,” he intoned with another, different shake of his head.
“Never met another soul so grim about sweets and carol-sings, my dear Mr Holmes,” John teased. Margaret raised a napkin to her lips and failed to hide a giggle. “He’ll be waking up to a lump of coal or two, eh, Margaret?”
“Shall we finish?” Sherlock insisted, and fished for his pocket watch—this time in his own waistcoat, made to match his own suit, no longer the butler’s clothes—and frowned at it. “If you want to be at the carol service in time for the infants’ nativity play.”
After the evening’s candlelit carols and the children’s nativity; posset and cake at the home of Molly and her husband the new vicar; then the midnight service, it was nearly half-two in the morning by the time Sherlock fell asleep to the sound of John’s breathing beside his face, subsiding from heated panting to the shallow, long inhalations and sighs of sleep. Warmed as they were by the posset, in good spirits (though not a believer, Sherlock appreciated sacred music—plentiful on Christmas Eve—and the simple wish shared by every man for a light of hope in the dark of winter), and relaxed by the absence of most of their work—fruit trees and flowerbeds all tucked in for the season—Sherlock and John had slid undressed beneath quilts warmed beside the fire and were soon entangled, mouths milky-spiced. Fingers licked and sucked and thrust down between their bodies to please each other, ankles brushing, knees gently bumping now and again. John’s rough-tipped fingers skated down low to caress the weighted roundness of him, and Sherlock’s mind lit up with his distracting new desire—that thing he dare not ask for, how had even thought up such a deviant act?—and his hips shifted as if of their own accord, his upper leg rising so his knee rested atop John’s thigh, making way. His tongue in John’s mouth traced filigree shapes, soft, so soft, just the way he longed for John’s tongue. . .
“You perfect angel,” John murmured, drawing back from the kiss, and Sherlock whined, and chased him, and John’s hand encircled him, and behind Sherlock’s closed eyes was this act, this idea, and despite—or more likely, because of—its utter wrongness, Sherlock stole the breath from John’s mouth as his body lit up, sparked, diffused heat, and went liquid in John’s arms.
His mouth against John’s ear, his long fingers working him to his end, Sherlock whispered, “I love the way you kiss me. . .I love your mouth. . .John. . .the way you kiss me everywhere. . .everywhere. . .” and John answered his sweet nothings with low groaning, gusts of hot breath, and before Sherlock could bring himself to elaborate, John was finished, and they quieted, and once Sherlock had fetched a handkerchief from the nightstand, they exchanged a kiss, and slept.
Margaret went to church again on Christmas day (John drove her), and the men of Willowbrook Farm settled in their armchairs to pass the late morning with the radio set playing low the music of the season, a blazing fire warming the room. Sherlock in shirtsleeves, dressing gown, and slippers with his pipe in its stand on the table beside him. The crime novel he was reading was lurid in the extreme and could not hold his attention. John was at his sketchpad, the scritch-scritch of his pencil audible even over the volume of the radio.
Sherlock cut a glance his way, and John must have sensed himself being watched for he looked up briefly and smiled, his tongue flicking out to wet his lips. That tongue. Those lips. John, who professed to love every inch of him, promised to do anything you want, whatever takes your breath away. Sherlock looked back down at the pages of his book but did not read, for heat was pooling low in his belly, and his betraying brain was conjuring images of himself on knees and elbows, John stretched out beneath him so Sherlock could use his own mouth to please him, to bring him to the cliff’s edge of fervid pleasure, and John would hum, then moan his name, low and sweet. And John. . .John would grip him by the hip, and would lick his fingertips, and tickle, circle, press against Sherlock’s sensitive skin as if to ready him, but then. . .
Blast it, he repulsed himself, why could he not rid his mind of this exquisite—no, this torturous—idea of his, of John utterly debased for the sake of Sherlock’s hedonistic desires? John was too good a man to be cast in such a role, even if only in the theatre of Sherlock’s vile imagination.
“All right?” John asked then, and the sound of his voice shocked Sherlock out of his reverie.
“Fine,” Sherlock insisted, and slammed shut his book. “Fine. Why do you ask?” He slapped the book upon the side table and busied his hands with his pipe, the tobacco tin, the matches.
“You were frowning. And you’re quite flushed; I’ll damp down the fire a bit, shall I?” John rose, made for the fireplace.
“It’s this book,” Sherlock said, and waved his hand dismissively at it. “Bloody murders, everyone corrupt and amoral. It’s pornographic.” It actually was, though he didn’t mind as much as his protests would indicate.
“Is it?” John asked, and his eyes twinkled. “You should read it out.”
Sherlock went on frowning, willed the heat rising in his pelvis to cool and dissipate. “It’s Christmas, John, for god’s sake.”
Christmas night was tea with Molly and her husband the new vicar, playing at cards, and finally sending them home well-warmed by cider. Margaret liberated a peppermint cane from the boughs of the tree in the parlour and bid them goodnight; Sherlock and John gathered their quilt from the hearth, damped down what was left of the fire, and took themselves upstairs.
John reached for Sherlock, rucked his nightshirt up his thigh, dragging the hairs the wrong way, and the two of them rolled toward each other, arms and legs easily resuming their usual places, mouths seeking each other in the absolute darkness with not even a sliver of moonlight through a slit between the curtains.
Emboldened by not having John’s eyes on him, Sherlock ventured, “When you said, John. . .”
“Hmm?” John’s nose dragged up the side of Sherlock’s face, nuzzled his temple.
“You said once, anything I want.”
“Oh, yes,” John replied, gusty and low and earnest. Sherlock wet his lips; his mouth was dry. John kissed his way around the whorl of Sherlock’s ear.
“But what if. . .”
He couldn’t bear to finish.
“What is it, my own one? Anything. Anything.” John’s hand swept up his thigh, up his buttock, to his low back, and drew him closer, held him secure with fingers spread and palm pressing close.
Sherlock felt himself flush and fluster. “I have been thinking. . .there is something. . .I can’t. It’s—”
John kissed his mouth then to settle him down, drew away only so far that Sherlock could still feel John’s lips moving against his own. “There is nothing you can say that would shock me. There is nothing I won’t do to please you, Sherlock. Nothing at all I wouldn’t do.”
Sherlock believed him. With his whole heart he believed, and still he could not bring himself to ask.
“Only kiss me some more, John. Only kiss me.”
John was particularly rugged, shirtsleeves still rolled up from having been outside fetching logs for the fire, cheeks and chin dirty with dust and three days’ whisker stubble—he said he was thinking of letting his beard go, just to see what he’d get—shirt open at the neck, smelling of exertion and woodsmoke. Sherlock’s gaze fell upon his sinewy, golden-fuzzed forearms as he let the sleeves down and refastened the cuffs. Then he took in the expression of John’s face, eyes downcast to watch his hands as they worked, pink tongue-tip caught between his parted lips in his concentration.
Sherlock knew the scrape and burn of those unshaven whiskers against his lip, his throat and hip, and the memory made him shut his eyes, sat there in his armchair as if he were dozing. But despite his efforts to tame it, his accursed imagination always would run riot, conjuring phantom sensations: of stubble stinging an altogether different expanse of so-sensitive skin, and the open mouth letting slip warm breaths, and the remarkable tip of John’s tongue, and how warm, and how wet, and how it would tickle, how he would shiver, how John might moan or hum. . .
“Sherlock,” John said then, quietly, and his hand glided to perch upon Sherlock’s shoulder, “Precious—if you’re drowsy, I won’t bother to stoke the fire just now; we can make an early night.”
He covered John’s hand with his own, and stroked it. “No,” came his reply, and he hoped the ragged catch in his throat was not obvious. “Just resting my eyes a moment.”
John’s hand slid down the length of his arm to catch up his hand. “Now I’ve a mind to take you to bed, regardless. If you’re wide awake, all for the better.” He grinned, eyes sparking mischief, and his tongue darted and darted, wetting his lips.
Long minutes later, Sherlock was stretched out on his belly, and John was kissing his way across and down Sherlock’s back, pressing fingertips and thumbs and the heels of his hands deep into the taut muscles of his shoulders and beside his spine as he went. Sherlock melted, warm and loose-limbed, and John pressed kisses into the dimples above his backside, swept his open mouth hot and wet, lower, and nipped, lower, and sucked, lower. . .
Sherlock groaned out, “John. . .my god. . .” and John veered to kiss the side of his hip. Sherlock rolled his pelvis desperately, like curls of ribbon, and let out a needy little sound he had long since forgotten to be embarrassed by. John slithered up the length of his back, and they kissed with straining necks, and John’s weight upon him was a welcome, warm crush—more hard than soft, but soft here and there—andeventually John finished himself rutting up into the cleft of Sherlock’s backside, then knelt and dragged Sherlock upright, clasping one arm tight around Sherlock’s chest as he brought him along, murmuring praise and encouragement against the side of Sherlock’s thrown back neck and long, vulnerable throat.
It was good. It was always good. It was not always, however, precisely what was wanted. Sherlock lay awake blinking into the darkness, listening to John breathe, but couldn’t decide if he was being excessively shy (in the end, even he was shocked by how little he had known before that day John Watson walked into the kitchen at Stonefield Hall), or if he was truly a deviant to have even invented such an act. John had shown and told him everything by now, surely. Done everything. Welcomed everything. He was worldly and rather creative. If this nonsense Sherlock had dreamt up was even remotely. . .acceptable. . .they’d have done it by now. John would have.
Sherlock dragged his ankle from beneath John’s, turned on the bedside lamp, and picked up his bedside book in an attempt to distract him. It was Lawrence, though far from his best work.
Walking the land, with a tall stick in his fist, squinting at the winter sun burning white in the sky as he went. His intention had been to take stock of the year nearly gone, contemplate its high points (John’s recovery from the fever that nearly stole him; an exchange of promises in the churchyard overlooking these trees, this brook; their first morning waking in their own bed, in their own little house, at their own pace and without worry of who might find them out) as well as he low (the terror of John being so terribly ill for so terribly long; that rascal Thomas stirring up questions about Watson’s character—and their relationship—at the constabulary; and now his recent unhealthy obsession, a low point only inasmuch as it was causing him to doubt his own sensibilities, his own moral backbone). Despite his best intentions at reflection, within a short time Sherlock was circling back to distracting thoughts of the way John’s back flexed against his fingers; John’s quiet stream of endearments, expressions of awe, grunted abandon against Sherlock’s temple.
Would he, himself, be willing to do this thing. . .this scandalous indulgence, well-suited, Sherlock imagined, to the loose morals of some Frenchmen he’d had the misfortune to meet. . .if John wished it? He thought he would. His own fantastical imaginings urgently necessitating shifts of his posture or the way his clothes lay against his body, Sherlock knew—or at least thought he knew—what pleasure would be wrought, and to give John physical pleasure was one of his favourite ways to pass the time. Yes. Decidedly. If it turned out John were as low a fiend as Sherlock apparently had become, and desired it, Sherlock would.
Perhaps it was not so vile as it seemed, he thought, then immediately chided himself: tell it in mixed company, Holmes, and witness the reaction. Fainting ladies, men thundering outrage, probably dragging him outside to be tarred, feathered, set upon the road on his way out of the county, and don’t dare come back or next time we won’t be so kind.
John, though, was not mixed company. He was the one who willingly bared body and soul to Sherlock in a bed they shared. He was the one who loved Sherlock and endeavoured to drive him positively incoherent with pleasure, in every way imaginable. Nearly every way.
It was ludicrous that he was so stuck on this notion yet afraid to give voice to it. He was a grown man; he’d screw up his nerve and blurt it out. Next time.
“Mmmm. . .you’re delicious, my own one. . .this wrist. . .and mmm, these fingers. . .”
“. . .Oh.”
“Tell me how to please you, Sherlock. . .mmm, the skin of this belly. . .the words coming out of your mouth. . .Tell me. Tell me—mm!—anything.”
“ John. . .”
“Just that. There—just—there.”
“Like this?. . .Hmm?”
“Just that. Just that. You’ll finish me. Just there. John. Just. Just. Just there. ”
“Mmmm. . .”
Having breakfast, toast and jam and sliced pears. Porridge, too—for John—reheated, probably gluey; Margaret had miles yet to go; for god’s sake, it was only water and heat and stirring, what was so difficult for the poor girl to grasp?
“Must you?” Sherlock intoned. He really shouldn’t say anything more.
“What’s this?”John was truly puzzled as to why he was being scolded, looked down at the front of his shirt for answers.
“Licking the spoon that way,” Sherlock clarified (admittedly, only partially clarified).
“I’m going to neaten myself; be back to clean up the dishes before you know it, Mr Watson, Mr Holmes.” Margaret scurried.
John, infuriatingly, only grinned. “Is there a way?” he teased, voice low but expression comically wide-eyed. “That I’m licking my spoon?”
Sherlock grumbled. John made a vulgar swipe around the bowl of the spoon with his outrageously deft and warm and just-wet-enough tongue. Sherlock huffed.
“I’ll try not to, in future—” John said, mock-apologetic, “—lick my spoon in such a way as distracts you from your toast and tea, Mr Holmes.” He held the spoon the wrong way round, loosely in his fist, and flicked the tip of his tongue beneath the front edge of it in an outrageously suggestive manner. Sherlock smacked John’s wrist with the back of his hand, and John fumbled to catch the falling spoon. “Ah, now. . .” he protested, and frowned.
“Respect yourself, John, for god’s sake.”
“What’s got you so tetchy?” John asked, not angry.
Sherlock exhaled hard through his nostrils. I can’t stop thinking about you. . .licking. . .and it’s driving me mad. “I am not ‘tetchy,’ John.” And my resolve failed me, and if I ever do say it aloud, you’ll never see me the same way again. “Nevermind.” I’ll have proved myself a pervert, and you’ll realise your mistake.
John shrugged. “All right. Fine.” Still not angry. Perhaps just a bit.
“We’ll drive into town, later, to post letters and see about the—what was it?”
“Barrels. For cider.”
“Ah, yes. I remember. Of course.”
John got to his feet, patted Sherlock’s shoulder as he passed. “I’ll fetch a sprig of something handsome for your lapel.”
There was a bit of a ‘do in the village, ringing in the new year, champagne corks popping, Margaret’s hand tucked into John’s arm. Sherlock’s face ached from returning smiles and best wishes for a prosperous 1925. John took several ladies for turns around the dance floor; Sherlock should not have been surprised he was graceful, light on his feet, guiding his partner with a sure hand at her back. Ten!, nine!, eight!. . . Sherlock yawned. Four!, three!, two!, one!. . .Happy New Year! Confetti, more popping corks, a cheer, a chorus of Auld Lang Syne starting up in one corner. Kissing, kissing, everyone kissing. Margaret kissed his cheek, and so did Molly, and John shook his hand and they clapped each other on the back and then looked away.
Later—alone, behind closed doors where they could do as they liked—Sherlock begged a kiss for good luck, and John obliged, sucking Sherlock’s lip between his own in that worshipful way he had. Later still, Sherlock attended to John fervently, mouth sweetened by champagne, not minding the volume of his own appreciative moans, his head a bit fizzy, come to think of it. But there was nothing to mind, anyway, because it was good. . .so good. . .and there was the evidence of its goodness in the palm of his hand, resting on his bottom lip, salting his oversweet tongue. John panted and sighed, kept very still but for his restless fingers in Sherlock’s hair, the edges of fingernails just barely scraping his scalp to send tingles down his neck.
Emboldened by the drink and by John’s breathless noises, Sherlock drew up John’s leg to give himself room, dampened two fingertips by thrusting them against his tongue, and as he took John into his mouth, he glided the pads of his wet fingers down and up and down and up against the thin, tender skin beneath, which made him exclaim wordlessly, god he was gorgeous, Sherlock should tell him he was gorgeous, but at the moment his mouth was quite busy, and so he only hummed, long and low, and John shuddered and grunted out his name as if Sherlock itself was a delicious, filthy curse.
A hint was perhaps what was needed. A clue, a suggestion—just the thing. He could refer back to it later. You seemed to like it when I, so I wondered if perhaps you—if you want to—it’s outrageous, I know, but. Raised his fingers, wet them, soaked them, let just one slide down and down until they met the wrinkle of tight muscle, as his tongue caressed John’s rampant erection, finger and tongue both lapping, fluttering, flicking, but only softly, softly, and John whined high in his throat, forever, and Sherlock ached in response, an exquisite ache, John, John, just like this, just like this, just like this. . .
John was so still, taut, thrumming like a wire, and his breathing was so loud and ragged, and his fingers had stopped moving in Sherlock’s hair, dropped away so he could clutch the sheets in white-knuckled fists. So still, so very still, and whining, almost perfectly still but for a low-frequency vibration Sherlock could feel against his cheek where it rested on John’s raised thigh, the golden bristly hair there tickling Sherlock’s jaw and earlobe. Sherlock’s lips closed, and his finger pressed and circled, and John was done for with heaving, grunted gusts of breath that would have been shouts if he’d let them be.
Perfect, Sherlock thought, as they rearranged themselves. A point of reference. Just that way, but slightly different. For me, John? Will you do it for me? And then John licked his own fingers and reached for him, and Sherlock forgot to think about it anymore that night.
“All this nothing is going to send me insane!” Sherlock complained, slapping his palm against the arm of his chair as he hurtled to his feet.
John was stifling a laugh, Sherlock could tell, still gripping his pencil as he raised his hand toward his face, fidgeting to hide his smile. “It’s only a fortnight’s peace and quiet. No need to shout about it.”
“I didn’t shout,” Sherlock shouted.
“It’s not as if you’ve never had Christmas before,” John pointed out. “Last year—”
“Last year, and every year before, I spent Christmas day at my duties, and Boxing day in my office with the door shut. Then I made ready for the family’s trip back to town. There was always work to be done at Stonefield. We never stretched a day’s rest into a fortnight!”
“No, I imagine you didn’t,” John agreed. “I’m sorry there’s not more to do. Really, there won’t be, until after a thaw. . .so. . .” John looked reluctant to finish. “March?”
Sherlock glared at him.
“You’re clever; you’ll think of something. Devise a new system for keeping the figures, maybe.”
Sherlock did not remind John that the “system” for the figures was known as Mathematics, which had already been perfected rather long before.
“Or, you’ll write a manual. On. . .” John tapped the pencil’s tip against his jaw. “Running things.”
Sherlock sat down again, rather slumpily, to show how put out he was to be forced into all this free time. He’d had but six hours of free time a month for over a dozen years. Who had decided he needed Christmastide? He hadn’t been consulted; he would never have agreed.
“Hope you’ll be in better spirits by tomorrow.”
“John, I forbid you to make a fuss.”
“I promise.” John crossed his heart.
“I’m not joking.”
“You never are.” John’s eyes twinkled. “Anyway, it’s the last day of Christmas, too. So things are bound to wind back up to speed after that. I’ve rather enjoyed the break.”
“Well,” Sherlock said, not grudgingly, “You work harder than I do. You’re entitled to the rest.”
“My work is hard, that’s true. But no one works harder than you, Mr Holmes.”
Sherlock didn’t know what to say to this. John had always been excessive with praise. Though he’d never admit it aloud, Sherlock basked in every bit; perhaps that was why John went on with it. But, no. He seemed to mean it honestly. Sherlock was still unaccustomed to being admired.
What he came up with to say, after a lengthy pause that found John’s pencil sweeping once more across the thick paper before him as he returned to sketching, was, “Anyway don’t make a fuss.”
“No fuss at all, Mr Holmes.”
“Perhaps just the tiniest bit of a very small fuss.”
“Hush, you’ll ruin it.”
The breakfast table had been decorated with a huge bowl of white narcissus blossoms, red-gold ginger flowers, and striking orange carnations arranged rather explosively with other filler flowers and some greenery; when Sherlock expressed surprise at such a variety of flowers in bloom in the dead of winter, John only replied that he “had his ways” and Sherlock didn’t doubt it.
After lunch, Margaret had come through to the sitting room where Sherlock sat smoking his pipe and gifted him a stack of a half dozen good handkerchiefs she’d embroidered with “H” and a few other flourishes (nothing too showy, of course, but a girl with a needle would often become exuberant). Sherlock thanked her and let himself be kissed on the cheek, though it was really no hardship as Margaret was by this time—though it was another thing Sherlock would never say aloud—really rather dear to him, in a particular fashion.
John had tied Sherlock a buttonhole of the vibrant carnations (its assertive scent of clove now and then demanded his attention) and a few holly leaves, and made a gift to him of a drawing of Willowbrook Farm as seen from the rear corner of the church on the hill. It was the same view from which Sherlock had first viewed their little patch of land, with its stand of willows, its brook (now frozen solid enough to cross on foot), a broken fence, and not much else to recommend it. John’s drawing, though, showed everything in its proper place: the winding track to their white rubblestone cottage, which Sherlock had named Heartsease; the rows of fruit trees and square plots of vegetable crops; the flower gardens and little hothouse. He’d even drawn in the bee hives, though they were yet to be installed, just where they would one day sit. John had made a frame and painted it blue, and said he’d hang it in the front parlour, but Sherlock wanted it over the fire right there in the sitting room, so he could look at it more often.
Margaret baked a cake for them to share after supper, lemon with blackberry jam between the layers, and it was delicious despite being lopsided. Sherlock offered her port but she declined with a giggle, kissed his cheek yet again, cleaned the dishes, and then retired.
“Hope it wasn’t too much fuss, Mr Holmes,” John jibed gently, once they’d each had their turn at the bath (it was a Saturday), then donned nightshirts and pyjamas and latched the bedroom door, slid side by side into the bed (no bother with a fire in the sitting room this evening; hence the quilt and every layer below it was cold, and they moved closer, seeking warmth).
“It was within a hair’s breadth of too much,” Sherlock intoned, half-smiling, teasing. He shook his head. “I’ve not had a present for my birthday since I was a child. Nor a cake.”
“There’s never enough excuses for a cake, I reckon,” John said jovially. “Anyway, many happy returns.” John kissed Sherlock’s shoulder through his night shirt, and they settled lower beneath the covers. “Will you read a bit, or. . .?”
“Surely you’re joking,” Sherlock replied, and rolled onto his side, and John did the same, and they kissed, at first softly and without urgency, trailing the end of the conversation.
“I never can tell if you’re. . .of a certain mind.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Ah. . .lovely.”
“John. . .I want—”
Their kisses grew deeper, and the bedclothes were thoroughly warmed—soon would be too warm, stifling, and they’d kick them off—and John’s first two fingers walked in place across Sherlock’s nipple until it beaded up hard and the sensation of it somehow landed between Sherlock’s thighs, and coaxed him to life.
“You said once. . .”
Sherlock’s hand slid up John’s back beneath his pyjama shirt, soft skin over hard muscle, Sherlock adored every hard and soft place on John’s body, couldn’t touch him enough to be satisfied.
“Whatever I want.”
John nipped his lip, clasped his aching nipple and pulled, and held it there until Sherlock whined, then released it and went back to soft strumming. Sherlock shuffled his hips forward, seeking John’s thigh, or hip, any of his hard or soft places, his body, him.
“There’s something. You’ll think I’m depraved.”
John smiled against his mouth, Sherlock could feel it.
“Of course I won’t. Something we’ve never?” He sounded curious, and his voice was full of gravel. The hand that had been accosting Sherlock’s nipple grasped his nightshirt near Sherlock’s waist, bunched it up, tugged and dragged it up until John’s hand slid around to stroke Sherlock’s backside, urge him closer.
“No one’s ever,” Sherlock whispered. “Or, at least. I can’t imagine anyone.”
“Sounds thrilling,” John told him, and kissed his neck, down his throat, nudging aside the nightshirt. “Tell me; I’m dying to know.”
Sherlock drew back a bit, just to see John’s face. “It’s filthy.”
“Wonderful,” John replied. “When you imagine it, does it get a rise out of you?” His half-smile was more than Sherlock could bear to look at, so he buried his face in John’s neck, opened his mouth against the pulsing throat.
“Oh, yes. At all the most inopportune times.”
John laughed a little at that, clutched his spread fingertips into the fullest part of Sherlock’s arse.
“There’s very little new under the sun, precious. . .you invented this. . .is it an act? An object? An unpronounceable word?”
John’s game teasing was setting Sherlock more at ease, though his heart thudded and his ears were burning—not only from passion.
“It’s not because I think of you as the sort of man who—” Sherlock began, and doubted himself.
“Hush. There’s nothing you can say that would shock me, Holmes.”
“You haven’t heard everything I’ve got to say, yet, Watson.”
It was good; they were playful, and the heat between them was rising, and rising, but slowly rising, and more skin was being revealed, and they always came back to kissing. Sherlock resolved to spit out the words and let the chips fall where they may.
“If it is depraved—”
“It’s not. Mm.”
“If it turns out I am some sort of pervert—”
“You’re not, I promise. More of that, please. And take this off.”
“We’ll forget I ever said it.”
“Whatever you say, but tell me quick, because if you don’t—ah—get on with it, Sherlock, I’ve got a list running in my head now of all the things it could be, and I’ll just start at the top and do every one until—”
“Your mouth. Kissing. Licking. Sucking.”
“Like this? Hmm?. . . And this?”
“Yes. God, yes.” Sherlock grabbed John’s hand, shifted his own thigh out of the way, and guided their tangled fingers down the cleft of his backside, and held them. “Here.”
John let out a groan, and Sherlock didn’t know what to make of it. It sounded like desire, but it could have been disgust. Or. . .exasperation?
“Nevermind, nevermind.” Sherlock withdrew his hand, shoved John’s hand aside, rolled onto his back away from their embrace.
“Oh, no you don’t,” John rumbled at him, his voice husky and full of wind. He leaned up on his elbow, closed the space between them, slid his fingers through the trail of hair that started at Sherlock’s navel and wended its way down. “You don’t put that thought in my head and then tell me to nevermind.” He shifted his pelvis so that Sherlock felt him hard and soft against his own hip.
“You don’t seem shocked,” Sherlock ventured, and rested his hand lightly atop John’s as his fingers found trails through Sherlock’s thatch of wiry hairs.
John’s voice was gentle, but not condescending. “It’s not unheard of, Sherlock.”
The depth of his relief was incalculable.
“Well, I’d never heard of it.”
John leaned to kiss his forehead, the crest of his cheek. “Well, you don’t read those sorts of books,” he said, and his lips curled against Sherlock’s face before he drew back. “Perhaps you should have inquired further about those French postcards,” he joked softly, reminding Sherlock of his trip to Paris the previous year, where there was a drape behind the tobacconist’s counter which had made him wonder. “And although we’ve been quite. . .thorough. . .” John’s fingers teased him, brushing, tickling, when what Sherlock wanted was to be gripped, and to thrust. “There was a time when you didn’t know what was possible between us.”
Sherlock made a noise of embarrassment.
“It’s just gaps in your knowledge. I rather enjoy getting to be the one to fill them in.” He leaned again, lowered his head to Sherlock’s chest, and Sherlock rolled up to meet him, touched the back of his head. “I said I’d do anything that takes your breath away, and I meant it.” A sudden shift of John’s entire body, and he was kneeling beside Sherlock’s thigh, stroking him from knee to hip with one callused hand. “You beauty,” he breathed, and it worked on Sherlock like a soporific, made him loose and relaxed as if mesmerized. “Will it take your breath? Will it make you burn?” That voice again—low, craggy, with something like danger in it that Sherlock found thrilling.
John’s hand slipped beneath the inside of Sherlock’s knee, and lifted, and Sherlock went along, until John had settled his thigh well back, close to his belly. Kisses on his knee and shin, a hand tracing the long, sharp-tendoned length of his foot—aha, was this comparable to John’s odd preoccupation with Sherlock’s feet? He’d have to come back to it later because—John moved to kneel lower on the bed, one hand still resting on the back of Sherlock’s thigh.
“So beautiful,” he murmured, and as if he couldn’t help himself, slid his mouth down on Sherlock just enough, and then rolled his tongue around, and Sherlock’s neck cranked back until he was looking at the headboard just before his eyes closed. Too soon, John released him, and asked for his pillow. Sherlock passed it down to him, obediently lifted his hips so John could slide it beneath. He felt vulnerable and off-kilter with his pelvis canted up this way; they’d done it before, in other circumstances, but nonetheless. Sherlock’s mind revved up again, toward that sense of utter wrongness, and he started to press his thigh against John’s hand, to lower his bent leg back to the mattress.
“John. . .”
“Shh,” John’s hands soothed him, one stroking the top of his extended leg, the other holding his bent leg just enough to let him know John wanted him there, but not enough to actually keep him there should he wish not to be. “Sherlock, you perfect beauty. Please let me,” he begged, and Sherlock felt himself soften beneath John’s touch. John must have sensed it, too, for he guided Sherlock’s other leg up and back then, with Sherlock’s foot resting against the back of his shoulder. John dipped two fingers between his lips. “Do as you like, all right? I want it to feel good. Like you’ve imagined.”
Sherlock nodded and hummed lightly, but kept his hands as they were, one low on his belly and one on his chest.
John’s wet fingers drew a trail from beneath Sherlock’s bollocks down to his opening, just as they sometimes would as John readied him, pressing and circling, breaching, and Sherlock sighed at the memory of it, the sensation of it. A slight backward shuffle of his knees, and John nuzzled the tip of his nose against Sherlock’s inner thigh, the sensitive skin of his buttock, then his mouth came open there against the soft inside, and he kissed sweetly, gliding the tip of his tongue, half-closing his lips, then opening them, then drawing away and placing a deep kiss on the other side, one hand still reassuringly rested against the back of Sherlock’s raised thigh while the spit-damp fingers of the other hand teased at him with promises of more.
John let out a single, declarative, “Mm,” and his parted lips were all at once hot and wet, open, pressing, sucking—just there!—and then his tongue began eager upward sweeps, alternating here, and then there, and then here, and then there. Sherlock’s breath escaped him in a great gust, and he found he had too much air in his lungs to close his lips against the heaving. John’s shoulder shifted so that the arch of Sherlock’s foot fitted perfectly into the slope where neck became shoulder, steadied him so he let his thigh fall open, making space.
John kissed as if he were kissing Sherlock’s mouth, lips pressing and releasing, tongue hot and sliding. He hummed now and then, and the flare of hot breath through his nostrils as he exhaled, the cool as he inhaled, tightened the skin of Sherlock’s bollocks. Sherlock reached for them, lifting and gently rolling, and John made a noise of approval that Sherlock was doing as he liked, just as John had instructed him to do. Sherlock had so often and so vividly imagined it, yet he found now that he couldn’t have imagined it: the tip of John’s tongue fluttering against that exquisitely sensitive skin, then his lips closing down tight and sucking. . .
Sherlock was certain now that the fable of a hell for those who indulged desires such as theirs for each other had been created to stand in the way of pleasures like this—John’s tongue lapping flat and wide and wet against him, up. . .and up. . .and up again—because Sherlock thought he could happily die of it, however long that might take, whatever the cost. Too much of a good thing, and there’d be no one left who could be bothered to write figures in a book, or post invoices to debtors, or. . .
The tip of John’s finger was there now, and his mouth worked around it as it held steady but firm, applying pressure that became the sole point of Sherlock’s focus until the tongue-tip joined it, such surprising force, it really was a remarkable muscle, and only pressed against him. Pressed. Pressed. The tongue wriggled, still applying pressure of its own, and Sherlock was barely aware of licking his palm, practically gagging himself on his own fingers in his urgency to slick them, taking himself in hand and beginning to stroke, slow and tight, letting out a quiet moan at the consummate point, then sliding down to do it again.
In time with it, John’s tongue pressed hard, and his fingertip pressed harder, and with a twist of his wrist he breached Sherlock’s opening. Sherlock gasped loud and hot, his head rising up off the pillow as the muscles of his abdomen tensed. That moment when he was first penetrated was always so thrilling, a shock of pure heat, but then. . .
John licked serpentine trails all around where his finger vanished inside, and the contrast of soft and firm, the wet, the warm, the
pressure, twisting and straining to find
that spot, that precise and perfect spot. John’s tongue moved in time with the rubbing of the finger, side-to-side sweeps of wet heat just there, just there, just, just
“John ohhh. . .”
Sherlock stroked himself more urgently, and with his other hand he held his own knee back and away, opening himself utterly, holding himself wide to receive John’s mouth against him, kissing him, licking him, sucking
“Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Yes there. Yes. Oh. Oh.”
He was on the verge, and it grew more and more difficult not to let it take him, but it was perfect and Sherlock wanted to feel it always, selfish, selfish, but not depraved. John loved every inch of him. He would do this for John, was eager to give him this pleasure, this ecstasy of a finger sliding out and away, and—dear god!—a tongue thrusting in to take its place. John’s head rocked as he thrust and swept, licking a circle around the rim, how was it possible that Sherlock had not yet gone insane?
“John oh. Oh!”
John nodded, kissed deep, sucked, licked, hummed encouragement, tickled with his fingertip, and then hummed again, with purpose, and Sherlock’s grip on himself was looser, quicker, perfect. . .
As Sherlock subsided, John eased his bent knees straight again, massaging his legs with sure hands as he went, planting kisses, crawling up alongside Sherlock’s body, sated, sticky, sinking into the bed, even into the earth below, he was barely alive, couldn’t even bring his lips to shape the words needed to bid John goodbye as he died.
“. . .anything. . .anything. . .god, Sherlock. . .my own one. . .you’re so—so beautiful. Look at you. Look. My god. Look at you.”
Sherlock watched with heavy-lidded eyes barely open as John finished himself, strong shoulders shuddering, bottom lip caught between his teeth, eyes screwed tight shut. Sherlock would miss John now that he had died. Alas and oh well; at least it had been John Watson that killed him.
Blankets shifting, scraping, half-tidying, then settling warm and heavy upon him. John’s arm across his chest, John’s nose against his neck. John humming contentment. Saying something.
“Clever you. But next time you invent something just tell me right away, would you.”