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15 Minutes

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Sexual intercourse.

Hardly alarming, and not completely unattainable, especially for a man who possessed the skills to charm. Sherlock Holmes just never bothered with it. His body existed merely for transport. And yet this evening he found himself standing in a converted detached house in North London, negotiating with a young, petite, chestnut-haired prostitute.

He cleared his throat, fixed her with a steady gaze and said, "No, thank you. I just want to lose my virginity as I requested over the phone."

She blinked twice, but otherwise didn't display anything remotely resembling ridicule or disappointment at having been turned down after offering Sherlock an initial massage.

Sherlock had been to this end of North London many times before. Admittedly those occasions were for far more noble reasons—missing diamond, drug seizures, the mystery of the blind albatross and the case of the glass skull. This time, however, the trip was purely selfish.

He had checked out the establishment in the days leading up to this particular visit. He wanted to make sure none of the employees were there because they were victims of crime and forced into this way of life against their will. He was also thorough in conducting a background check on the owners: were they part of a vast criminal network, or were they struggling independent operators and perhaps worthy of Sherlock's custom. In the end, he found that the owners constituted an ex-police officer and his wife, an ex-prostitute herself.

Surreptitious enquiry had him confirm that this dwelling was not currently the focus of any undercover police investigation by the Met, as he'd found was the case with many of the brothels operating out of flats in the well-known red-light district of Soho. It wouldn't do to be caught with his trousers down, so to speak.

There was one more factor in his choice of service outlet: it had to be positioned in a relatively quiet street out of the prying eyes of the city's CCTV network. He wouldn't want Big Brother jumping to the right conclusion.

Once he was satisfied with his research, Sherlock made a quick phone call to the establishment listed under Massage Parlours in Yellow Pages online using a pre-paid mobile phone. He listened with impatient disinterest to the number of optional extras the receptionist quoted him. He knew it wouldn't be the receptionist with whom he would be engaging in sexual intercourse, but the price list and options had to be recited to him anyway so that there was no misunderstanding once his trousers were down.

A person could sell him sex and he could purchase it legitimately if it were a one-to-one transaction. Operating a brothel was illegal, hence the cover of Massage Parlour.

An appointment time for that very same evening was booked in and Sherlock found himself forty-five minutes later standing outside on the pavement in front of the house, two doors down from the local church. He'd been given directions to the house as he had walked along the street, and they would only give him those directions while he remained on the phone.

The hoops he had to jump through just to lose his virginity!

It was one of those dull, repetitive, unremarkable Tuesdays: rainy, cold, and murderless. What else was he going to do with his time anyway?

Sherlock instantly recognised the type of house as he strode up the path. It was one of those residences previously owned by fully regulated private landlords who were registered with the Government Housing Ombudsman to provide accommodation to students who did not want to live in rowdy, crowded university accommodation. Whatever the status of the dwelling currently, it also doubled as a massage parlour. Was it even registered with the authorities? Sherlock idly wondered if the neighbours knew what was going on in their street.

Once inside, Sherlock was requested to pay a twenty-five pound door fee giving him entrance to the parlour. In theory, whatever went on upstairs between him and his masseuse would be totally between them and unknown to the owners of the parlour. Apparently. Therefore not a brothel.

The receptionist, an older woman named Cynthia, asked if he'd like to look at the girls and if he had a preference, to which he replied he would like an English woman (why do they say 'girl'?) who was deemed the most intelligent. His reasoning—which he hadn't vocalised—being that an English female meant there was less of a chance that she was a victim of sex trafficking, and a moderate to high level of intelligence prevented Sherlock having to explain everything twice.

"That would be Shelley," Cynthia replied instantly.

Whether Cynthia had made a decision about Shelley so quickly because of an anglo-saxon heritage or because of her IQ, Sherlock couldn't immediately tell.

Cynthia (and Sherlock had quickly established that it were she who was the ex-prostitute and part-owner) disappeared into another room, presumably where the employees waited. Sherlock was thankful he hadn't been left to wait in a room full of prostitutes lolling about on lounges, displaying their wares and eyeing him lustfully. A small establishment then.

At one stage, a tall, greying man strode through the room Sherlock had been left in. By his gait and the wary eye he cast over Sherlock, the Consulting Detective knew that this was the other owner and the ex-police officer. The man's role then, in the interests of safety, was to make his presence known to every punter that walked through the door.

Sherlock could hear Cynthia talking in a hushed tone to another person, presumably Shelley The Intelligent English One, but he couldn't determine the exact words that passed between them.

"Be gentle with him. He looks delicate," were Cynthia's words of advice to Rose, after telling the young woman that her next client was a virgin.

Cynthia also advised Rose that she had quoted the punter fifty pounds over the phone, exclusive of the door fee. She added if Rose wanted to include any extras other than the standard service of a massage, a bit of oral followed by straight sex, she was free to upsell him once they were upstairs. The usual procedure then. And he had requested the minimum amount of time: fifteen minutes.

Rose left the dining room that had been turned into a private lounge for the girls' benefit, and planted a fake smile on her face as she greeted her next client.

"Hello, John," she said, extending her hands. "I'm Shelley."

When Shelley clasped his hand in both of hers and planted a soft kiss on his cheek, Sherlock's insides hardened. The kiss on the cheek was meant to endear her to him, much the same as The Woman had done just before he spent less than five seconds deciphering a coded email for her. How was he going to cope with sexual intercourse with a complete stranger if his automatic reaction was to retrieve unpleasant memories from his Mind Palace?

His stomach had also dropped at hearing her say John's name. He was an idiot for choosing his flatmate's name as his pseudonym. It had been the first name to pop into his head. A word association gone wrong, he thought. Provide a man's name, one who could potentially have sex with a woman. Therefore John Watson and his dismal efforts at dating came to mind. There. See? Easy mistake to make. Thankfully Sherlock only had to supply a first name, but it was far too late to stammer out an alternative.

Sherlock raked an expert eye over Shelley, his masseuse, in a manner of seconds as the young woman bid him to follow her upstairs. She was dressed simply in a transparent black lace robe that gaped open, revealing a burgundy lace bra, a garter, some kind of almost non-existent underwear and stockings. Her attire should've come as no surprise. Sherlock had hoped his service provider would be dressed in ordinary street clothes, and if so, he may have been able to read her background at a glance, which would've held some entertainment value.

Alternatively, it had entered his mind a few minutes prior that perhaps she would be wearing one of those SOCO coveralls  that Scotland Yard tried to get him to wear once upon a crime—you never know, what with Health and Safety regulations these days and the current climate of litigation. There may be a minimum requirement if only for sanitary reasons.

Unfortunately a complete character reading was not immediately forthcoming as they ascended the narrow staircase, with Shelley making inane comments such as, "We're going to have so much fun!"

Intelligent? He thought not based on that comment alone. Sherlock would only consider this 'fun' if she were to disappear into a locked room all of a sudden, get murdered with some obscure instrument, with the unknown perpetrator immediately taking flight. Only then would the fun begin.

But no. This wasn't going to be fun.

This was a necessity.

Rose brushed aside the curtain that screened part of the passageway where the doors to the Fantasy Suite and the bathroom opposite were located. It afforded a small amount of privacy if either her or her client needed to use the bathroom after they had already disrobed.

She waited until John—yes, that's an original name—ducked through the curtain after her, then she drew it closed behind him.

"So we can start with a massage," she began, before her client informed her of his simple request for straight sex only.

Rose considered the long list of optional extras. The man was a virgin. She may confuse him or scare him away, so she decided to leave out the upsell for today.

"Okay," she said, and she advised him in a flat monotone all the things she would not be doing to him, and all the things he could not do to her. Rose noticed his eyes widening ever so imperceptibly. When she'd finished, she gave him what she thought was a meaningful look. When he failed to react, she added, "So that's fifty pounds."

"Oh. Right," he replied, immediately reaching into his jacket for a wallet.

He handed over a fifty pound note and Rose then invited him to have a shower.

"I had a shower at home before I came," he replied succinctly.

Rose briefly considered his response. He did smell like expensive aftershave, and he was dressed quite smartly. It was entirely up to her whether or not to insist that a client completely showered or just washed his genitals beforehand. Rose decided to let this one through. The talcum powder was always on hand if she felt he needed something.

"Why don't you go in," she said, indicating the bedroom. "I'll just be a second. You can start undressing if you like."

Rose left the passageway via the curtain and swiftly strode to the top of the landing where a table sat with a locked box on top. She placed the money into an envelope that already had her name written on it. She then dropped the envelope into the slot at the top of the box, which would be emptied by one of the owners in a few seconds.

She paused for a moment and drew in a deep breath.

She would be giving this client his first ever sexual experience. She'd never been with a virgin before, at least to her knowledge. She'd had a few lousy lays that she could've classified as clumsy virginal attempts, but she had never known for sure. Suddenly she felt for this man. His first experience of sex with a woman would be in a brothel, with a prostitute. Why? He seemed like a decent man, if a bit abrupt, but well-spoken, probably well-educated, sharply dressed, no obvious deformities or disabilities. He seemed kind of handsome in his own way.

Hang on a sec, Rose. You haven't seen him naked.

Rose smiled ruefully to herself, then crossed the passageway to the curtained area. Her insides were now fluttering with performance anxiety. She would be his first. She had the sudden urge to tell him to leave. Find a young woman at a charity croquet match or whatever it was that posh people did. Fall in love. Seduce the posh heiress.

No.

He was here for a reason. She'd be his first, so she'd better make it spectacular. Fifty pounds worth of spectacular.

Sherlock had removed his jacket and had hung it on a coat stand. He was just unbuttoning his cuffs when Shelley entered the room. She gave him a half-smile and closed the door behind her.

In her absence, he had quickly scanned the room. There was a white wardrobe, a dresser, two bedside tables on either side of the bed, and a chest underneath the window. All of the furniture matched and obviously came from the same factory outlet.

On top of the chest sat a basket containing unidentifiable items. He'd peruse those later if he got the chance. He hadn't quite figured out their purpose.

He began to make light work of his shirt buttons as Shelley approached the bed and began to pull down the coverlet.

"Did you have good day?" she asked, glancing in his direction and smiling.

"No," he said, creases appearing in his brow. He gave a tiny shake of his head. "Don't do that."

Rose straightened up from turning down the bed.

"Do what?" she asked.

"Attempt to make small talk with me."

Her expression told Sherlock that she didn't know how to respond to that. He turned his back on her and slid his shirt from his shoulders. He folded it sideways and lay it on a chair. When he turned back to Shelley she was just sliding her robe from her shoulders having finished with the bed covers. Sherlock watched her for a moment, his eyes narrowing.

Oh for God's sake, he groaned inwardly. "Do you always disrobe this slowly?" he asked, fully vocalising his annoyance.

Rose managed a smile anyway. She tilted her head and asked, "Am I too slow for you?"

Too slow? At what point did she assume he was a half-wit.

He said, "I thought the point of undressing was to reveal your naked body. I assume there's some kind of visual stimulation you're going for by taking your time. As I only have fifteen minutes you may like to speed things up a bit?"

Rose then set about quickly removing her knickers in a slightly less elegant manner. Sherlock continued to stare impassively at her, which Rose found hugely disconcerting. Seemingly satisfied with her efforts, he started unzipping his fly. Rose began to get an inkling about what aspect of him had prevented him from seeking out a regular woman and losing his virginity to her: his personality.

"Would you like to start with us standing," Rose began, as her client's trousers dropped to the floor with him stepping out of them, "or would you be more comfortable on the bed?"

She tentatively approached him as he stooped to pick up and shake out his trousers. He cast an indifferent eye over her, raking his eyes from head to toe.

She suddenly felt self-conscious and exposed now that she was completely undressed, an odd predicament in which a prostitute should find herself. He had turned from her, and was carefully draping his trousers over the back of the chair.

"I'm the virgin," he began by way of a response, before turning back to face her, a half-smile forming on his face. "You're the prostitute. I'm relying on your expert opinion."

Rose opened her mouth to say something, anything, when her client grasped the top of his black boxer trunks and drew them down, stepping out of them in one fluid movement. Before he fully straightened up again, Rose mentally prepared herself for resuming her role as an experienced sex worker. Her stock standard phrases presented themselves in her mind, ones that would follow a cute gasp on her part, that would communicate her pleasant surprise at her seeing the evidence of her well-endowed client whether or not that was actually the case.

But no such noises left her lips on this occasion. Her client had momentarily turned his head to drop his underwear onto the chair, so Rose had a split second in which to recompose herself. She narrowed the distance between them and draped an arm around his neck, pressing her body against his.

"Here is fine," she murmured, while brushing her lips to his neck. She pressed soft kisses to his neck and jaw, feeling his body tense in response.

Any second now she expected to feel his growing arousal. The relief that she could see he had no obvious deformities had been overshadowed by her surprise that her client didn't already have an erection. Not even half an erection. He wasn't anywhere near being turned on by her or the expectation of sex.

"I thought kissing wasn't allowed?" Sherlock asked, his voice unusually tight and strained.

"On the lips," Rose replied, one hand gliding smoothly down his chest. She had quite a bit of work to do.

Suddenly Sherlock was away from her, leaving Rose reeling in his absence.

"Perhaps the bed would be better," he said, moving swiftly across the floor.

He emitted an audible tut as he stood looking down at the white towel that was draped across the width of the mattress.

"Am I supposed to position myself on top of that?" he asked.

"Ah, yes, sorry," Rose responded, snapping herself out of her daze. "It's so—"

"To collect semen and other bodily fluids secreted during sex," Sherlock finished for her, before lying down on top of the towel, and propping his head up with a pillow. "So you don't have to constantly change the sheets. Obvious."

He laced his hands together across his stomach and stared at Rose as if waiting for a cup of tea.

Rose was frozen to the spot. She wasn't expecting this kind of behaviour from a virgin, or from any man who was preparing to have sex. She was curious that John was lying there as if he wasn't aware that he was naked, or that she was naked. A dozen questions formed in her mind. Her role as a sex worker in a brothel was cast aside momentarily. She approached the bed almost cautiously.

"Do you feel aroused looking at my body?" she asked.

Sherlock raked his eye expertly over the specimen in front of him.

"What do you see?" she added when he initially didn't reply.

Sherlock's mind entered visual input mode.

He took a sharp intake of breath before gushing, "Female, Caucasian, twenty-five to thirty, five foot five inches, approximately eight stone seven, hair colour natural, non-smoker, nail biter, no tan lines...anywhere, right-handed, you frequently carry a hefty load over your left shoulder, you usually wear low heels, and sit for prolonged hours, chewing pen—"

He stopped his mental exercise when he noticed her wide eyes. Well she had asked what he saw.

Sherlock swiftly added, "I see a nude female body. It's not like I haven't seen one before." Then he redirected his gaze to scan the furniture around him while he waited for Shelley to react in some way.

Rose was stunned at this response. She glanced again at his flaccid penis. Rounding the bed, and losing some of her seductress's deportment as she climbed onto the end of it, she asked, with incredulity creeping into her tone, "So you're not even slightly aroused yet?" The question slipped out before Rose even thought to censor it. Such a question to a client would be frowned upon. Her current client, however, didn't seem to mind.

Sherlock smirked as if he had somehow won a challenge issued to him. "If that was your attempt at visual stimulation then you've failed. Is this what they teach you?"

A tiny laugh escaped Rose in spite of herself, causing Sherlock's face to soften to some degree.

"What if I touch myself?" she asked, finally composing herself, back on script again. She was still determined to get some sort of rise out of him.

"What would be the point of that?" he asked. "If you want me to get an erection, you're going to have to perform direct manual stimulation. On me. Not your own body."

"You know, you're a bit like a child," she blurted out, then she bit her tongue. "I'm sorry, forget I said that."

"Why should I forget you said that?"

"It's not an acceptable comment to a client."

"So why did you say it?"

Rose hesitated, not sure if she should answer him. But then again, he wasn't like a regular client. He didn't seem to take offence at the comments she theoretically wasn't allowed to make. He didn't seemed to mind this frank conversation.

"Because a child doesn't see a naked body in a sexualised way. They haven't reached the developmental stage where hormones and experience make their body react sexually either consciously or subconsciously."

Sherlock absorbed Rose's words before offering his own summary. "So you think I haven't had the necessary experience to view your naked body in a sexualised way?"

"Or to become aroused at the mere suggestion of having sex with me." She couldn't believe she was having this conversation. Meanwhile, her client was lying before her completely naked, and not aroused one bit.

Sherlock was enjoying the conversation. It almost sounded like a hypothesis worth testing. "Do you think this experience will change that?"

Rose noted the almost eagerness in Sherlock's eyes, incorrectly attributing it to the impending act. "Do you want it to?" she asked.

Still speaking as if he were discussing a case with someone from the Yard, and not lying starkers next to a prostitute, Sherlock fixed her with an inquisitive gaze. "I'm asking your professional opinion."

"Possibly," she replied, without too much thought. She decided to stretch out alongside him. She was enjoying this.

This non-answer left Sherlock unsatisfied. Surely she was in a position to gather this kind of raw data and reach at least a half-intelligent conclusion from it. Still fascinated though he asked, "Don't they teach you these things?"

Rose propped her head up, resting on one elbow. She smirked at him and said with a hint of amusement in her voice, "There isn't a school for prostitutes you know."

Sherlock eyed her with suspicion. Of course there was no such educational institution, but obviously she had been clued up elsewhere. He thought the beginnings of an interrogation may well be in order. "Why are you so versed in child psychology then?"

"Because I'm a..." Then she stopped. No personal details allowed. She'd become carried away with the conversation. How on earth had that happened? Get back on track, Rose, she scolded herself. "Let's just do this, yeah? You want to lose your virginity...let's get started."

Rose sat up and gently caressed Sherlock's chest, carefully remembering to take in his nipples, as he fixed her with an intense gaze. The sudden physical attention initially bothered him and the termination of the rather engaging conversation irked him somewhat. He had resigned himself to the fact that to lose his virginity someone else would actually have to touch him, and he had steeled himself for that first encounter.

Rose slowly navigated to his navel prompting Sherlock to tut and look at his watch. Rose looked at him, stunned.

"Faster?" she asked, feeling mildly amused.

Sherlock gestured with his palm facing out. "Moving right along to the part where we have sex."

"You need to be erect first," Rose said offhandedly.

"Then you need to place your hand around my penis," Sherlock remarked in a condescending fashion. Sherlock was unimpressed with the level of expertise so far.

Rose stifled a laugh. She might just surprise him. She bent over him and gently took him into her mouth. Sherlock swore and gasped at the shock of it.

At last! Rose thought. His first textbook reaction!

The part of Sherlock's brain that enabled him to speak quite eloquently, his language centre, began to slowly shut down. It was as if the proprietor had decided to close the shop early, winding down machinery, switching off the lights, and turning over the little sign hanging on the door so that it now read 'Closed.'

Rose continued working, paying attention to Sherlock's breathing and the noticeable silence brought by his inability to speak. She felt in control again, thank goodness. But she shouldn't have commenced this act without a condom, the catch-22 being that she wouldn't have been able to roll the condom onto a flaccid penis. It was a risk she had been willing to take this time, with this man.

Sherlock moaned, the only sound he was capable of making. Sexual arousal due to direct manual stimulation, obvious. And now and again in the shower or first thing in the morning. Vasodilation. Nothing that cannot be dealt with. He felt his erection growing and quietly catalogued the process, trying to ignore the fact that it was actually a young woman's mouth and tongue that were gainfully employed on the task he usually reserved for his hand.

He was fully aroused now, so Rose slowly moved to kiss around his navel, working slowly back up along his torso to his chest, while she purposefully slid her body over his. Sherlock felt compelled to hold her in close proximity to perhaps encourage her to continue in her endeavours. That and the fact that it felt so fucking incredible; he hadn't wanted the sensation to end so he brought his hands up to hold her hips.

"There," she whispered, "Now we're ready."

Sherlock stared up at her, a new longing in his eyes, his lips parted slightly. Rose was straddling his body, but she had to reach over him to retrieve a condom from the side table.

She commenced working Sherlock with her hand, as his breath grew ragged and he inadvertently started caressing her back. A more familiar sensation, he thought. Pleasant, but predictable. Usually his hand would be preoccupied, so that explained the movement it was taking now along her smooth - impossibly smooth? - skin.

Another response. Good, she thought. We're making progress.

Rose organised the protection while keeping Sherlock suitably stimulated. Sherlock decided he could tolerate wearing the prophylactic for this occasion. It didn't mean he was going to go all out and start wearing one of those ridiculous disposable forensics suits for the likes of Anderson. Oh no. Bugger! Anderson get out of my head!

Rose straddled him again and whispered, "Ready?"

He silently nodded his acquiescence, still largely incapable of vocalising his thoughts.

Rose lowered herself down while he let out an audible moan. Sherlock honestly didn't know why or how those sounds were escaping. Well, he had a theory. The physiological responses to sexual stimulation were known to him. He just didn't anticipate his body not obtaining suitable permission from his brain before it enthusiastically joined the party.

He held onto Rose's hips as she started with a slow rhythm, otherwise he didn't know where else to place his hands. Clutching at the towel beneath him seemed as if he were on a rollercoaster ride, gearing himself up for the plunge. And he did not want to come off looking like he was scared.

Because of course he wasn't.

Meanwhile, Rose pondered another matter. I wonder if he considers this too slow?

"Good?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Mmm," he nodded. Still no vocabulary to speak of.

Rose maintained eye contact with Sherlock's half closed eyes. She noted he had not relaxed completely. She would usually touch herself at this point, but she remembered that 'John' had dismissed that idea, so she started moaning, and whispering things to him, about his size, his prowess in bed—her "script", while she moved on top of him.

Sherlock listened with half an ear. Hang on, he thought. Is she saying something to me? The part of his frontal lobe that controlled reasoning slowly kicked into gear and his parietal lobe turned on language comprehension. Sherlock held his hands to Rose's waist, as if to stop her. His brow was drawn down in thought.

"What are you doing?" he asked, staring at her intently.

Rose was momentarily thrown by the interruption and Sherlock's expression. "I'm...we're having..."

"Not that. Your words, and... sounds. You're not enjoying yourself. You're not aroused. Stop pretending you are," he said tersely.

"Okay," Rose said, feeling quite disconcerted.

"Your pupils," Sherlock offered by way of explanation, "They're not dilated, and you're heart rate hasn't increased at all."

He showed her how he was holding her wrist, pressing lightly on her radial pulse.

"Whereas mine," he continued, moving her hand, palm facing downwards, onto his chest above his heart, "has increased significantly."

"I'll stop... then."

"I detest theatrical performances."

He's learning to articulate his likes and dislikes during sex. That was good, thought Rose. She continued her rhythm, moving slightly faster now. It seemed a little repetitive to her, but he had dismissed all her optional extras, so this would have to do.

"Close your eyes," she said.

"Why?" he all but whispered in response.

"So you can concentrate on what I feel like, without the visual distraction."

Somatic sensory perception, he mused, to isolate it from visual input, which clearly doesn't work on me. Either that or she's finding it difficult to do her job while I'm staring at her.

He did what she asked, without argument this time, to her relief. He seemed to like explanations, not fluffy statements, which was good. Rose was never one for poetry.

Rose saw that the tension had left 'John's' face. He was now moving his body under her, and encouraging her movements with his hands on her hips. His head tilted up slightly, small moans escaping from his lips.

Sherlock was torn between trying desperately to be in control of the situation (and what exactly would that entail?) and letting himself succumb to the sheer pleasure of the experience. His hands, with minds of their own, were all over her now, pulling at her, urging her. Her body had taken the responsibility his own hand would normally assume, but by now his hand would be operating at a more accelerated rate. How to let her know that?

Rose knew what he needed now, but perhaps he may want to take control of the situation? It was his first time after all.

"Get on top now," she commanded, climbing off him and moving aside. She thought he'd appreciate the direct order since he was The Virgin and she was The Prostitute.

Sherlock silently obliged, turning over and propping himself up on his elbows. He was slightly desperate to get back the sensation that had momentarily been cut off. With Rose's guidance, he was inside her once again, this time in complete control of how hard and how fast. Rose noted that he tried to keep his body away and not put any weight on her.

He was rapidly losing all rational thought. He desire and greed and the need to reach that final peak became his only obsession. This is, Sherlock thought in between just wanting to groan at the seemingly mindless indulgence of it, this is in no way alarming. There you go, Mycroft. Now I know. Sex doesn't alarm me. Now get out of my mind, you pretentious prick.

Sherlock's breath came in shorter gasps now, and Rose could just hear the start of a moan, signalling the beginning of the end. She encouraged him along, with the rhythm of her hips and hands, but not her voice, now she knew he had a preference for silence.

Sherlock knew what was happening—the sensation not unlike masturbation. He just needed to increase his speed, and he was glad Shelley was assisting him in this task. He held his breath, he was there, senses heightened, poised on the edge.

Rose felt him tense and gasp, not a shouter, thank goodness, and he rode it out in silence, a moan now and then, his shallow breathing beside her neck. Rose felt odd about not having to fake her own orgasm. She imagined the look he would give her if she started that shit now.

He collapsed onto her, then feeling completely self-conscious about the intimacy of contact, he rolled off her.

"That was... that was..." he stammered, his chest rising and falling, "far more aerobic than just masturbation."

Sherlock noted the minor panic that flittered across his consciousness. He swiftly dismissed it. It happened infrequently post-orgasm, and it had first manifested itself in early adolescence. His mind was always working, buzzing with a multitude of thoughts at once. He noticed in those experimentation days in his early teens that orgasms left his brain in a momentary state of quiet. That both scared and fascinated him. At first he thought he would remain permanently in that state: basically stupid, a moron, like the rest of the population, and that would perhaps explain how they got that way. But some days, when he felt he would burn out with the rapidity of his thought processes that he had little control over, he would masturbate to reach that quietened euphoria, if only for less than a minute.

Of course most boys his age masturbated for the orgasm, not for the refractory period that followed, and in fact, his older brother thought Sherlock was going through that awkward, constant hand-to-nob phase like the rest of them. Now that was irritating - the snide remarks, the constant chides and sneering. Sherlock just wanted to punch him in the face. In fact he had on one or two occasions.

Sherlock's consciousness returned to the present. These days he had more control over his thoughts; he could focus on one topic rather than flit between them, except when he was in an extreme state of agitation. Nicotine and other stimulants could help in that area though.

Sherlock's breathing had slowed, and his heart rate had almost returned to its normal state.

Rose smiled to herself. She liked him. He was honest and funny and intelligent. And she wasn't covered in his drool or sweat. Bonus.

"There's some tissues on the table and a rubbish bin below it if you'd like to..."

"Oh," Sherlock replied sitting up with his back to her. He finished cleaning himself up then looked at his watch.

"Good," he said, his voice echoing his usual efficient and business-like manner.

He got up off the bed, which Rose took as a signal that she must also, and started dressing.

"Congratulations," she said, retrieving her own clothes from the floor. "How does it feel to not be a virgin anymore?"

"Ridiculous label," he commented, putting on his underwear with his back to Rose. "Unless you've never masturbated before, the end result is still the same. What you use as friction should be irrelevant. Probably different for your lot," he added, waving his hand at Rose but not looking at her.

"I...guess," Rose responded, this time resisting the urge to laugh out loud. Friction! She was friction! That was a new one. And your lot? She suspected that he was referring to females in general, not specifically prostitutes.

He turned back around to face her, while buttoning up his shirt. He narrowed his eyes at her. He had more blanks to fill in. "So what do you do now? Wash yourself to prepare for the next guy? Replace the towel?"

"Usually," she replied, grinning at 'John's' direct question. "But tonight's a slow night. Tuesday's often are."

She pulled on her robe, such that it was, and half-heartedly busied herself straightening up the sheets on the bed and folding up the towel to avoid staring at 'John' as he dressed.

"Do you do this all day long?" Sherlock asked innocently, grabbing his trousers from the chair.

"Uh, no."

"Just nights?"

"Some."

He gazed at her, narrowing his eyes as he pulled his trousers on. Then he glanced around the room.

"This isn't your room. Not even personalised."

"No, it suits a purpose."

He slowly looked her up and down, taking in the way she carried herself and how she had interacted with the space they occupied. He noticed one tiny thing he hadn't spotted earlier.

"Student," he said. It wasn't a question.

Rose was taken aback.

"No," she lied.

Sherlock paused while he was grabbing his jacket, surprised at her deliberate attempt to deceive him, not that her profession seemed to lend itself to honesty.

"You don't fit the demographic," he began. "You're not a migrant, a drug user or on the poverty line. You sound well-educated and the press recently reported a dramatic increase in students turning to prostitution to meet the costs of their tuition. And you have a small mark on the side of your left index finger. Bright yellow. Highlighter pen?"

Rose tried to hide her alarm at Sherlock's observations by saying, "For my own safety I can't really tell you any personal details about myself. You'll just have to be satisfied with the fact that my name is 'Shelley' and I am a sex worker."

A tiny smile began to stretch across her client's face. This surprised Rose.

"Do you accept tips?"

This wasn't what Rose was expecting to hear.

"Um, well, I... we..."

Rose was unsure. Tips had never been discussed here. There wasn't a process for receiving them.

"I suppose," she said slowly. "If I've exceeded your expectations."

Sherlock thought for a moment. "Well, I expected to have sex with you, which we did, so..."

"Okay," Rose responded, smiling. "You didn't enjoy yourself more than you thought you would?"

Enjoyment. The fun bit she was talking about earlier, he thought. My work is enjoyment, if it's suitably challenging. Provoking unreasonable reactions in my flatmate is a bit like enjoyment. Satisfying physical needs such as eating a good meal, sleeping, relieving one's bladder and...alleviating an unwelcome morning erection...not so much.

"Well, the sex fulfilled my expectations," he volunteered, "but the conversation was surprisingly stimulating."

"I don't think anyone has ever given me a tip for the conversation before," Rose replied, her eyes sparkling just a little.

"Here," said Sherlock, handing her a twenty pound note. "Perhaps if you stopped lying about everyone's sexual prowess while you were having sex with them, they might tip you more. Goodbye, Shelley."

Sherlock gave Rose a quick wink as he brushed past her and left the room.