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Jo balances the mug on Sherlock’s chest where her narrow sternum rises and falls. Jo lifts her fingers off the handle, one at a time, with pointed slowness, until Sherlock stirs one hand and takes a hold. Behind her lids – greasy, pale – her eyes flicker, rapidly. Sherlock drinks the tea – too hot, she’ll burn herself – by craning her neck up and sipping, noisily, and Jo thinks that’s as ungraceful as she’s ever seen her, her long neck reaching, vertebrae spindly and tendons tight.

She gulps, loudly, and Jo follows the swallow down her throat, rippling muscles under pale skin, and turns away. Her mouth tastes sour.

“Are you going to –” Sherlock drops the mug – thump – onto the table, ignoring her. Jo bites at her words, stopping them, sharply, to keep them from rising, strained and urgent. “Are you –” she begins again, once her tongue is under her control once more, “Are you going to get up, sometime this week? Only I think there might be moss growing on you, now.”

Sherlock ignores her, with champion endurance, letting her hand drop to the floor. Her dressing gown shifts, slipping from her chest, to reveal, under the edges of its rippling folds, her body narrow and shadowed. Her shirt – white once, but now yellowed with sweat at the neckline, under the arms – is too thin against her skin, too little protection, and Jo flexes her fingers against the urge to tuck the dressing gown back in, to fold it around Sherlock’s hips and find the tie and bring it around – tight – into the neatest of bows. To restrain, if only the worn silk.

“A shower, maybe? Or clean clothes? Or, I don’t know, this is just a thought, getting up before you’ve bedsores,” Jo continues, undeterred, while Sherlock yawns, large and obvious. Jo feels the laugh burn its way up her throat before it emerges, harsh and sharp, into the air. On its echo she stands and shoves the table aside with her shin and leans down to grasp Sherlock’s limp arm.

At least she’s laid off the patches, though less from any wilful action than the fact that Jo’d taken the box, three days ago, and binned it – out to the skip behind Speedys, even, in case Sherlock might get up and fish it out of the bins in the garden. That would have taken effort, though, feet on the ground and actual steps, so it’s unlikely Sherlock would’ve bothered. Her arm still bears the evidence of the last patch, the one Jo had peeled from her skin; the edges of the remaining adhesive have gathered lint, making a sticky grey circle just below the crux of her elbow.

Jo’s fingers encircle Sherlock’s wrist, and Sherlock tugs, sharp, to pull away, but even on Sherlock’s best days, Jo still has thirty pounds and solid Army strength on her, and she holds strong, wrangling Sherlock’s body into an unruly seated position and turning to wrap one arm around her torso. The other hand, still holding Sherlock’s wrist, she uses to twist Sherlock’s arm up behind her back, immobilizing her from anything other than her squirming protests. Cat-like, Jo thinks, and forces herself not to laugh.

Slouching down, Sherlock tries to kick out and break Jo’s hold with the momentum of her body. It’s not a bad attempt, really, but Sherlock – despite her own protests that yes, Jo, I know the limits of my body, and yes, Jo, food is just a distraction – really has weakened over a week of lethargy, and she can’t quite manage enough force. Jo shifts her arm up, pulling it tighter around Sherlock’s ribcage, and so she can feel the startled, shuddering breath Sherlock takes as she goes quite still. Jo braces herself for the next assault, but – but instead, Sherlock is panting, audibly, and pressing forward, and – oh. Oh. Jo’s arm, in the struggle, has moved up until it crosses Sherlock’s narrow chest, pressing tight against her breasts, and – oh – her nipples brush, tight and high and hard, against the inside of Jo’s forearm.

Even through the thin, damp fabric of her shirt, Sherlock’s breasts are warm and – and swollen, Jo’s mind supplies, distracted – and Jo twists her wrist, enough to rub against them, and Sherlock moans, rough and broken, and sags against her.

Jo can’t – she can’t quite catch her breath, can’t feel it beyond the hot, shaky inhales of air too thin, breaths that raise her chest to press against the sharp-edged weight of Sherlock’s back. Sherlock’s wrist is limp in her fingers, and she draws her hand away; it flutters, uncertain, before she settles it at Sherlock’s hip, fingers against the waistband of her pyjamas and thumb worked up under her shirt, touching her skin. Her other hand she draws back, skating it across Sherlock’s chest, so she can settle her palm on one breast, nipple sharp against the tender vee between index and middle fingers.

Sherlock’s breast is small; it just fills her palm, and her smallest finger tucks into the crease below, and when she flexes the ball of her hand, Sherlock’s head drops back, bumping against Jo’s cheek, and her breath comes quick. Tilting her chin to the side, Jo lets Sherlock’s head tuck against the crook of her neck, hot and damp; her cheek presses against the underside of Jo’s jaw, and her breath skates hot up the side of her face.

“Are we –” Jo starts, for they haven’t, before, and Sherlock’s annoyed huff tickles her ear. “Just – is this alright?” Alright is not what she wants to hear, nor okay, nor fine; and Sherlock cracks her jaw, the sound sickeningly loud, and says, “Yes, god, don’t be absurd – yes,” and that’s – that’s more than alright; it borders on glorious.

“Okay,” Jo says. “Okay, just needed to –” Sherlock rolls her head and nips at Jo’s jaw, sharply; Jo registers the dampness of her lips, the heat of her breath, far before the edge of her teeth, and she scissors her fingers together, quick and tight, Sherlock’s nipple pinched between her knuckles, and Sherlock’s mouth drops away, open.

“Bossy,” Jo says, or breathes, and Sherlock laughs, a pale, whining sound, and reaches behind her to grasp Jo’s thigh. “Okay,” Jo says again, “up, up.” She drops her hand and pats at Sherlock’s thigh, shifting until she’s facing forward and upright, feet flat on the ground. Sherlock rolls her head, no longer tucked against Jo’s neck, and Jo can just see her eyes, askance, impatient.

“On my lap,” Jo says, and Sherlock scoffs and says, “Really, Jo –” and Jo smacks her hip, not too hard, and says, more firmly, “On my lap.”

“I’m not a child,” Sherlock says, wariness creeping into the edges of her voice, and Jo laughs.

“God, I hope not,” she says, nonsensically, then adds, “But act like one –” Sherlock’s eyes narrow, and Jo lets the corners of her lips curl, and says, more gently, “No, really, just – trust me, it’ll be – I will – it’ll be good.”

Sherlock blinks, like she hadn’t thought – like Jo’s promising something she hadn’t expected – and lifts up, settling tentatively over Jo’s thighs. Hands at her hips, Jo brings her in, closer, curve of her arse fuller than she’d expected, even with her tight trousers, her tailored pencil skirts, and tucks the fingertips of one hand under the waistband of her pyjamas.

She’s not wearing any knickers, and Jo wants to laugh. Sherlock shifts against her and – yes – her arse is warm against Jo’s thighs, and the fabric of her pyjamas pulled tight against the curve; the elastic is slack, worn, against Jo’s forearm and the cotton damp and tacky brushing on the backs of her knuckles. Fingers scratch over curls, and Jo remembers thinking how, how lush they were, the first time she saw her naked, full and spreading across the rise of Sherlock’s pubic bone, past the creases of her inner thighs: the wild, dark tangles on her head, under her arms, between her thighs a contrast to the sparseness on her fine-arched brows, her stretched-long limbs, her pale stomach.

Sherlock squirms against her, and Jo huffs, breath spreading over the hot, pinked rise of Sherlock’s ear, and pushes her hand further, petting down Sherlock’s mons; Sherlock spreads her legs, bringing them around the outside of Jo’s knees, easily and without preamble, and Jo bites her lip at the touch of Sherlock’s feet against her ankles.

“Get on with it,” Sherlock says, as though her body hadn’t spoken the same, and Jo curls her fingers tight against Sherlock’s rib cage, a reflex to pinch, to grip tight, only just held in check. The shift of Sherlock’s body, the lean against her hand, she is probably imagining, but she presses back, fingers slotted into the valleys between Sherlock’s ribs, and slides her other hand down – down.

Under her fingertips, Sherlock’s lips are hot, the tangled hair tacky to the touch, like she’d – god – like – “Have you been –”

Yes,” Sherlock says, impatient, and squirms her hips up to Jo’s fingers; Jo lifts her hand up, just enough to hear Sherlock’s breathy huff, and Sherlock says, in a harsh, unforgiving rush, “Yes, for god’s sake, yes I masturbate: often, and recently. And yes, I haven’t washed myself since, and yes, that is my come on your fingers.” She flexes up, demanding, the ball of Jo’s palm pressed against the rise of her pubic bone, and Jo gives in, drops her hand, fingering past the matted curls into where Sherlock is – oh god – wet, slick, the pads of Jo’s fingers coated in seconds.

“But you haven’t – god – you’ve barely moved –” She shifts her hand, not really stroking, just drawing her fingers with aimless meander up the valleys of Sherlock’s cunt. Her mouth is dry; she presses it to the soft dip behind Sherlock’s earlobe, and Sherlock shakes her head, truculent.

“No,” Sherlock says, agreeing in word if not in action. “No, I haven’t. I touch myself here, in this room, stretched out on the sofa, when you’re asleep, or showering, or – or in the kitchen –” Her breath hitches, almost imperceptibly, when Jo’s hand skitters, startled by the deep, rumbling rush of lust that pools low in her cunt at Sherlock’s words. At the thought of Sherlock on the sofa, in her pyjamas – these pyjamas – her hand under the waistband, as Jo’s is now, maybe her palm pressing against her tit, against the tight rise of her nipple, through the yellowed tee-shirt. Touching herself, making herself come, to Jo’s footsteps upstairs, to the sound of running water – water sluicing off Jo’s body, hot, and Jo’s hands between her own legs and – to Jo’s cheery whistle as she dishes up tea. Her hands, still damp and tacky with her own – god – with her own come as she takes the plate from Jo. Their fingertips brushing together.

“Do you like that I – that I might hear you, that I might come in, catch you?” Jo wants, very badly, to work her teeth on the soft flesh of Sherlock’s earlobe, but Sherlock keeps her head tilted away. Instead, she mouths at the nape of Sherlock’s neck; the hair leaves her lips feeling greasy, and she smells – humid – too human and tangible, and it makes Jo want to press against her, fingers spreading her cunt, very hard, so she does.

Sherlock gasps, just a little, and one cold, bare foot wraps around Jo’s ankle, stabilizing, even as she pulls her thighs open wider, greedy, and says, as though she’s in control, “Don’t be absurd. I – oh – I know your, your routines, and how long you take in the shower, even when you’re – when you’re masturbating, too, touching yourself while the hot water runs out.”

“God,” Jo says. “You think about that – about, about me –”

“Of course not,” Sherlock says, in a way that means yes, and Jo’s breath trembles. “Not like that,” she says in an undertone, as though admitting more than the words say, but doesn’t add anything else.

“Not like – oh god,” Jo says; she can’t admit that she’s thought of Sherlock, before, of her head between Jo’s thighs, of Jo’s fingers twisting in her hair, of her elbows pressing Jo’s legs open, of her mouth – oh god, her mouth – hot and soft and not-at-all yielding. She presses, just her fingertips, up into Sherlock, feeling her cunt stretch around them, warm edges of her flesh swollen, and skates her thumb over her clit, sharpish.

Sherlock moans, low, like maybe she would against Jo’s cunt, heavy vibrations of her throat, of her wordless voice, settling deep in Jo’s core, and Jo runs her hand up under Sherlock’s shirt, the worn cotton stretching over her knuckles, and thumbs harshly over one nipple in time to the hand at her cunt. Slow, insistent rolls of the pad of her thumb, like turning the heavy pages of a very old book.

“Get – get on with it,” Sherlock says, the familiar phrase turned pleading and high, and Jo mouths against the tight muscle of her neck. The salt of her skin coats Jo’s tongue, heavy and cloying, and she kisses – licks – further, gathering the heavy residue of Sherlock’s inactivity in her mouth.

“You’re – you’re not in charge,” she huffs, and presses her thumb, tight, against the side of her clit. Sherlock gasps and goes quite still; Jo can feel the low throbbing of her veins, flesh swollen – aching, no doubt – and keeps her thumb still. “You’re not in charge here, because you’ve been acting like a – like a prat for weeks, and I –” her words falter as Sherlock rolls her head toward her, jaw then cheek brushing against Sherlock’s lips, and holds their mouths close together. Their breath, panting, warms the scant air between them.

“You’ve had enough,” Sherlock supplies, and the movement of her lips ripples the air, vibrating on Jo’s mouth, and Jo wants both to kiss her and to stay – right there – right in the path of her voice, deep and low and just for her. “And you’re tired of me demanding things of you all the time.” She comes fractionally closer, and sweat pools at the hollow of Jo’s neck, at her temples. “If you wanted me to stop taking, this is hardly the way,” Sherlock says before she’s kissing her, mouth open and wet and sour and needy, and Jo’s mouth pressing hungrily back, her fingers hot and heavy and slick inside of her cunt.

Jo pulls back, just enough to mumble against Sherlock’s lips, “No – you aren’t – aren’t taking –” and slides her thumb across Sherlock’s clit, the sudden touch making Sherlock jolt, hips bucking up in startled surprise – “anything I’m not giving –” and brings their lips together again, and Sherlock’s clit is firm, swollen, under her stroking thumb. Faster – faster – a few short, quick strokes and Sherlock’s nipple twisted, tight and hard, between her fingers, and Sherlock’s breaths come in short, hiccoughing moans and her hips press up, up, away from Jo’s thighs and into her hand as she shudders. Around Jo’s fingers, her cunt tightens, flutters, and Jo presses into the soft, slick walls of her vagina, and feels the demanding, suckling grip.

Sherlock falls back against her, heavily, her head clipping Jo’s ear sharply, and her chest rising in short bursts under Jo’s hand. “God –” Jo says, and stops; Sherlock’s eyes flutter closed and she nestles against Jo’s neck, sweat gathering on the shoulder of Jo’s shirt. Her calf, touching Jo’s, is slack, and the fabric of her dressing gown flutters softly against Jo’s ankle. A rush of – of fondness, really – settles in Jo’s gut, curling and twisting around the hot, slow-burning ache that sparks, once more, to her nerves, and Jo laughs, giggles overwhelming her; her hand still in Sherlock’s cunt, warm and slick and sticky, and Sherlock’s body tensing around her, and all she feels, overwhelming her lust, is an inane sort of desire to press her nose into the musk-heavy edge of Sherlock’s curls, to kiss softly her ear, her temple, her brow, to pet up her thigh, her hip, her side, to be gentle and forgiving and kind.

She touches her thumb, just softly, against Sherlock’s clit, and Sherlock shudders against her. “Can you – again?” Jo asks, stumblingly, and Sherlock’s eyes crack open, head tilting back enough to look at Jo.

“I think –” she says, and Jo cannot bite back her smile at the uncertainty wavering her voice – “Yes, I think – if you just – with your fingertips – quite soft, and quick.” Jo nods, cheek rubbing Sherlock’s ear, and slides her fingers out from inside her, curling them up to flick over Sherlock’s clit.

Sherlock rocks her hips up, encouragingly, and Jo nestles her lips in the sharp angle of Sherlock’s jawbone, licks and kisses and strokes with her fingers, and Sherlock can – oh yes – urging her on with breathy little pants, and coming, once more, in mere moments, a quick, shuddering orgasm that leaves her lips turned up at the corners and her toes lazily rubbing the inside of Jo’s ankle.

“Mmm,” Sherlock hums, and the sound vibrates Jo’s lips, and sends a thrill down – down. “Please do,” Sherlock says, lazily, and Jo says, “What?”

“Get yourself off,” Sherlock says, as though it were obvious, and shifts forward on Jo’s thighs. Not off – not away, but enough that Jo can bring one hand between them, can fumble at the button of her jeans. Sherlock shifts her legs even more open, allowing Jo to spread her knees a little, work her hand down between her thighs, under her pants. When Sherlock leans forward, Jo’s other hand slides messily against Sherlock’s cunt, and she can feel Sherlock jerk; Jo’s fingers, clumsily working between her own lips, are flooded, wet, sticky.

Sherlock tugs at Jo’s hand, dragging it up out of her pyjamas – wet fingertips leaving a trail – and Jo says, “Oh – sorry – I –” and has to swallow her words at the heat of Sherlock’s mouth wrapped around her fingers. Licking – tasting – probing down to suckle at the webbing between them, and, god, Jo’s clit is hard, aching, under the tight, small movements of her hand, and Sherlock is, is cleaning herself off Jo’s skin.

The smell of her is sharp, salt-bitter in the air, and Jo envies Sherlock’s mouth, wants to taste her, but Sherlock’s grip is tight on her wrist and her tongue moves like she’s mapping the whorls of her fingertips, and her bare foot is braced against Jo’s, keeping her trembling legs grounded. Jo whimpers, unabashed, and leans her forehead against the curve of Sherlock’s ear, and works her fingers tight and sharp and pressing.

Her orgasm builds in her cunt, coiled and hot, but bursts and releases through her gut, her chest; she curls forward, muscles drawn tight, and Sherlock draws her close, Jo’s arm tucked under her elbow, hands twisted together and pressed up tight to Sherlock’s sternum, Jo’s shaking, trembling chest at her back. Jo leans into her, gratitude suffusing her limbs, as she waits for breath to return to her too-tight lungs, and Sherlock lifts her hand, kissing her still-damp fingertips.

“You can –” Jo begins, and Sherlock uncurls her fingers, not quite releasing Jo’s wrist, and Jo pulls it away, but with reluctance. Her legs are – they’ll hold, she thinks, but they’re beginning to feel Sherlock’s solid weight, and her arm, between them, is twisted uncomfortably. Sherlock lifts herself up; not to standing, of course, but enough to shift off Jo’s thighs and collapse back down onto the sofa once more, and Jo laughs, hoarsely, and says, “Oh no – no you don’t –” and Sherlock blinks, lashes dark and spindly with sweat, and says, “Oh? And how will you convince me to move?”

Jo opens her mouth, then snaps her jaw shut. She drops to her knees, body pleasantly heavy, in front of the sofa and hooks her hands behind Sherlock’s knees, pulling her forward. She reaches up to the waistband of Sherlock’s pyjamas and says, “Oh, I think I can be quite convincing.”