John stared at his mobile. His thumb hovered over Sherlock’s name on his contact list and blocked out the letters. He scrolled past it a few times, sending his short list of connections blurring by, as he tried to figure out what his next move would be. Five minutes had passed since he’d arrived at the door marked 221B and found that he couldn’t step over the threshold. With the sound of the city at his back, he took in the black door with copper letters that marked his home. Sherlock existed inside somewhere, up the seventeen steps and in the warmth of their flat.
John turned his back to the door and watched the steady stream of people flowing past. He brushed his thumb across Sherlock’s name, not heavy enough to make contact and continue down the path they had started on last night.
He tried to picture where Sherlock would be right now, in the kitchen, or sprawled on the sofa, telly filling up the background with white noise. Waiting, perhaps. For him. John frowned, thinking the thought presumptuous. Sherlock’s mind would most likely be focused elsewhere, on something that held more questions and more angles to explore and pick apart. John didn’t know how many angles he consisted of, two maybe, three at most.
“I’ve been thinking,” Sherlock had said last night, as they lay beside each other in the dark. “I want to know what it feels like. What I do to you.”
John didn’t remember sleeping after that, only turning his back to Sherlock and holding himself still as the idea sparked and simmered inside of him until it burned like the sun.
Sherlock had blindsided him again in the early morning. John was on his way out the door, rushing and late for work, when Sherlock blocked his path and pushed a slip of paper into his hand.
“I need you to write down everything you plan to do to me,” Sherlock had said as John stood very still, his heart pounding all the way up to his ears. “All of it. I’ll need to know."
The melancholy start of Sibelius’s Allegro Moderato drifted down from above, the slow melody muted through a pane of glass and the distance of a storey, and blended into the hum of the city around him. Sherlock picked up the piece in the middle of a phrase, somewhere on the second page. John knew the song like it was his own; he had memorised the melody from end to end over the days that Sherlock took to master it. He wondered if the song was an acknowledgement that he was out there, a musical equivalent of I see you.
He tapped Sherlock’s name and the number filled the screen. “Fuck.” John frowned at his mobile, neither ready nor certain as to how to continue a conversation that hadn’t been started. These aren’t just words you want me to write down. You have no idea what you’re asking me.
The music stopped. John exhaled and focused on the sound of his mobile trying to connect. He hoped just this once he would be sent to voice mail. Sherlock picked up on the fifth ring.
“Just listen.” John stalled after that, suddenly out of words. He held the silence, trying to right himself, looking for a proper start. Sherlock’s slow breathing on the other end distracted him to the point of uselessness. His focus stolen away with thoughts of his hands on Sherlock’s skin, and all of the ways that a person could be bound.
“I’ve been thinking about this all fucking day. I understand why you need it all mapped out beforehand, but for me… this isn’t just like making a grocery list. It’s kind of baring my soul, putting down all the things I want to do to you.”
John leaned against the door and closed his eyes, not caring what he must look like, hoping that Sherlock would say something to help him carry this forward. He tapped out a nervous rhythm against his thigh. Sherlock stayed quiet on the other end.
“Are you there?” John asked.
“Yes, I’m listening.”
“Did you get all of that?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“And, do you understand why I might find this… assignment… hard?”
John closed his eyes and turned Sherlock’s request over in his head one more time, trying to come at it from a different angle, from something other than Describe all of the things that you want to do to my body.
“This is the only thing I’m asking of you.” Sherlock said.
“It’s fucking huge-”
“It doesn’t need to be.”
John held his tongue. This was nowhere near the only thing. Documenting his desires was just the beginning. After would come the scrutiny and assessment, picking everything apart, all of the changes, and if he survived that, he suspected he would just be presented with a guideline to reenact in the flesh.
“You have to promise me, Sherlock. You can’t be cruel about this.”
“I won’t be-”
“Sometimes you can’t help yourself, though.”
John waited for a response that never came.
“Are you there?” John asked.
“Would you still try?”
John lowered the phone. The question signalled the moment before Sherlock would back down. He knew the hesitation and the tone; he knew the sound of need all too well. And now Sherlock waited on his word.
“No, it’s alright. I’ll do it…”
“Are you going to come inside now?” Sherlock asked.
In the corner of a Costa coffee shop, John built a barrier between himself and the rest of the room: too many napkins, an untouched muffin, a cup of coffee, long cooled. He positioned a copy of the Times beside his notebook to show that he belonged there and would be staying a while. By closing time, when the weary baristas ushered him into the cool night, his clothes would reek of coffee and the tips of his fingers would be stained with ink, but hopefully he would be closer to having a plan.
He unfolded Sherlock’s crumpled note. The words Clothes, Location, Gear, Actions, scribbled in Sherlock's hand. The simplicity of categories helped. If he thought of everything in terms of logistics and details, he could create a game plan. Hopefully he would be able to stop himself from spiralling down the thorny path of I really don’t want you to know all of my fantasies about you.
He closed the notebook when he began to count the lines on the page.
Fantasies did not constitute a scene. The things that knocked around his head at night consisted of nothing that Sherlock would want to do. The same themes played out again and again. Shoving Sherlock against the wall, or onto the kitchen table, or onto his bed, or the sofa, or into the shower. Location didn’t matter. Then shoving turned into kissing, usually after Sherlock’s startled cry, or gasp, or “John, what are you doing?” That line always got him going. By then he had Sherlock pinned and struggling, trying to reciprocate and kiss him back, needing to keep the contact. Then the clumsy and desperate shedding of clothes, buttons clattering on the table, or the desk, or the floor. Pants dragged down pale thighs, his name desperate on Sherlock’s lips, begging for it.
John looked up from the newspaper that he had been pretending to read. Not one word of the It seems that I really want to fuck you composition would make it onto the page.
He tried again.
Lists seemed like a good way to start; he could do them fast, like word puzzles. If he could fill the page with words, then he could go back and shape them into bullet points or an outline. Sentences, he feared, would be difficult.
He scribbled none, then blacked out the evidence until no trace of it remained.
John sat back. His pinning and ravaging fantasies focused on the removal of clothes; he’d never been too specific on what Sherlock had on in them. Details ranked second to the biting and the sex.
He could picture Sherlock’s face when he handed over the notebook. The raised eyebrow, the smirk. He added leather shorts to the list; they seemed reasonable, not too out there. He didn’t want to go home and demand that Sherlock strip for him. They would get to that. Maybe. Eventually.
Clothes: Leather shorts.
Leather boots came next. He couldn’t imagine Sherlock agreeing to wear them but they would fulfil a staggering list of fantasies if he did. Long legs bound to the knee in polished black leather boots, leather shorts riding low at the line of Sherlock’s hipbones. John filled in the details as they came to him.
Clothes: Leather shorts, black leather boots (twenty hole, steel-toed, Doc Martens?)
He looked up from his list and caught the eye of a young woman at the table across from him. He returned her smile, unable to help the feeling that she had caught him in the act of something indecent. He nodded and stared back down at the page.
He set the pen down.
He'd never needed much. Leather cuffs, secured behind his back. No room for give, no chance he could get away. Tight enough so that he could give in to his helplessness. He didn’t care what Sherlock forced into his mouth as long as it was in place by the time he became overwhelmed.
Gear: cuffs, arm binder, bit, clamps, cock ring, plug, rope. This is fucking ridiculous...
He frowned at his results, each item a known entity, everything so uninspired. He added ball-gag and blindfold to the list to mix things up and pad out the page. Not that Sherlock would grade him on length. Hopefully not. He wrote down lube. He wanted to get the hell out of there.
Location: Not home.
Apr 23, 2012, 7:35PM
I need a location. - JW
Expand. - SH
For the event. I don’t have a space. - JW
Requirements. - SH
Indoors, clean, quiet. Overnight stay? - JW
He waited for that detail to be noted or rejected. He should have texted Available for suitable length of time. He coloured in the rest of the blocks on the page and waited, too distracted to do much else. Twenty-five minutes later his mobile buzzed.
Apr 23, 2012, 8:00PM
I’ve made arrangements. Saturday evening. - SH
Thank you – JW
He went back to work.
What the hell am I going to do with you? He traced the words until they stood out dark and bold on the page. He couldn’t pretend anymore that Sherlock wouldn’t pick this apart, or that this wasn’t a confession. He gave himself ten minutes. At 8:30 he would get up and leave and be done with it.
He started with the words You will. Everything flowed after that.
He came up at 8:55. He flipped through the four pages he had managed to fill, barely recalling half of the things that he had put down. He scanned through the almost illegible scrawl of details and desires and requests that he never thought he could put outside of himself, and for a moment he felt lighter.
He tore out the pages and started again.