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A Study in Dichotomy

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Later, he tries to chalk the first time up to a concussion and a nasty, frankly terrifying, night locked inside a small closet that was pretending to be a room, but at the time, all he can think is: Thank Christ and Sherlock and yes. He isn’t sure what the ‘yes’ is in answer to, not yet, but it sounds like the thud of Sherlock’s shoulder ramming against the door.

The door gives and Sherlock bursts in, followed by the shout of an indignant Lestrade telling him to wait until they have cleared the area. There isn’t really much area to clear; John has been jammed in here for almost eight hours now and cannot even stretch his legs out in front of him. He has been fighting a cycle of panic, nausea, and rage for hours and doesn’t even let out of bit of a protest when Sherlock grabs him by the lapels and drags him out of the closet. He is simply thankful to breathe air that doesn’t feel so stale. Dragging him out is not particularly graceful, but it gets him out much faster than if he had tried to walk on his numb legs.

Sherlock isn’t gentle when he yanks on John’s bonds; the rope cuts a little bit more into John’s wrists as he works the knots loose and if John didn’t know any better, he’d say Sherlock is the one who has been fighting panic for the past few hours. It takes him a while to get John free, his breath harsh in John’s ear as he becomes increasingly frustrated. He leans against Sherlock’s shoulder once his arms are no longer pinned behind him, because a bloke needs a few minutes to collect himself before being poked by doctors and interviewed by police. Sherlock lets him, even opens his coat a bit to share his warmth, which John doesn’t question, just pushes his face against Sherlock’s collar bone, tells himself to stand down, and takes a deep breath.

They have hugged before, brief little reassurances ending with firm hands on shoulders or quick pats on the back, but John has never allowed himself to linger in Sherlock’s space with the simple intent of seeking comfort. He soaks up Sherlock’s heat and smell. Objectively, it’s not a pleasant smell: cigarette ash, sweat, and the unique odor of a body flooded with too much adrenaline and not enough sleep. Sherlock’s breath ghosts over his head and John inhales that, too, the same smell of cigarettes intensified and mixed with coffee tickling his nose. It should be repugnant; there is nothing particularly welcoming about the way Sherlock smells right now, but it relaxes him all the same. Sherlock smells of safety, of home, of breathing and living and freedom. He drifts, tucked up against Sherlock’s neck, and only distantly hears Sherlock shout at a medic for trying to wake him.

 


 

That moment--warm, safe, surrounded by Sherlock’s scent-- embeds in his memory and he finds his thoughts circling it during quiet moments. John fairly certain that his brain has been utterly scrambled by Sherlock. No concussion can explain why he finds himself thinking about the way Sherlock had felt so warm against him, nor can it explain why he is increasingly interested in all the ways that Sherlock is (sometimes disgustingly) human and how John’s body reacts to each new discovery: a case of the hiccups is greeted with exasperated fondness; a messy stomach virus with quiet, steady concern; a night of slap-happy, drunken laughter warming John’s skin until his lips tingle.

He is not surprised that he loves Sherlock. He has always loved Sherlock in some fashion, though not usually in the ways everyone seems to assume. This, though-- this is different. It’s not just the slightly wistful fondness he feels when he watches Sherlock hug Mrs. Hudson or the exasperated I-am-going-to-strangle-you bond of friendship every time Sherlock does something maddeningly brilliant. It’s not even that complicated feeling of brotherhood, of gratitude, that tugs at his ribs when he opens the drawer where his gun sits and remembers the long, beige days before Sherlock.

This is affection, natural as breathing in Sherlock’s smell and finding home, and he isn’t even surprised when it blossoms into something more.

While they are sitting across from each other in their favorite Chinese restaurant after a case, it turns, this fledgling feeling; affection becomes something darker, gathering pulsating and hot down low in John’s gut. He has an unobstructed view of Sherlock’s neck as he tips his head back in thought, mind already off on another tangent despite just solving a case. His neck is dotted with a smattering of moles and John wants to press his mouth against each one, lavishing his tongue over them just to hear the sounds that Sherlock will make. The thought of Sherlock’s gasping or moaning under his tongue causes John’s skin to tighten pleasantly. He shifts in his seat, eyes flicking down at the menu in front of him, before dropping a napkin in his lap. His hand brushes against his crotch for just a moment, thumb rubbing against the raised ridge of his cock pressing against his jeans, eyes fixed on Sherlock’s neck. He lets himself indulge in the fantasy of Sherlock’s neck stretched tight under his mouth as he leaves mark after mark on him; teeth, mouth, and tongue all laying claim to Sherlock. He rocks up a bit to meet the press of his hand; the booth groans under him, but Sherlock’s eyes are still closed, face slack as he ponders over some new puzzle. Sherlock has completely ruined him and they’ve never even touched like that.

He snatches his hand away, face hot, when the waitress walks up to take their order and Sherlock rattles it off without bothering to even glance at her.

Later, after Sherlock has succumbed to his usual post-case crash, John stands in their bathroom and digs his nails into his palms, remembering the way Sherlock’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed each bite of his dinner.

 


 

The next morning, as John is coming into the kitchen and pulling a jumper on over his shirt, Sherlock mutters: “Your choice in jumpers is frankly alarming and makes you look sixty.”

John looks down at said jumper then back up. “What?”

Sherlock doesn’t elaborate, but growls in derision at John’s question. John tugs on his jumper, trying to figure out exactly why Sherlock has felt the need to attack his attire. It’s no different than his other clothes; in fact, he thought it was a rather good colour for his skin, though he wouldn’t admit that he had thought about it when buying it. It certainly is a better quality than his other jumpers. He shrugs.

“No case, I take it?” He sidesteps Sherlock’s chair in the kitchen, giving him a wide berth. When he gets in these moods, it is best to just give him some space and ride out the storm. He drops his tea bag into his waiting cup and waits for it to steep. Even with his back turned to Sherlock, he can feel his glare. Christ, the man has got a stare on him. Not that John hasn’t dealt with a staredown a time or two, but Sherlock certainly doesn’t make it easy. The skin between his shoulder blades itches and he has to fight the urge to face Sherlock so he can keep an eye on him.

He hears Sherlock move, a hasty hand picking up and scraping a mug across the table with little care. John glances over his shoulder, noting the pinched wrinkles around Sherlock’s eyes, the mess of his uncombed hair, the angry twist of his robe around his shoulders.

“Sherlock, I swear to god if you throw that at the wall because you are in a pissy mood, I will tell Mycroft about last Thursday.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” His grip tightens.

John takes a slow slip on his tea and smacks his lips. “Try me.”

Sherlock slams the mug down, face smug at handling it none too gently and then stomps off.

Fuck, what has got into him?

 


 

Sherlock’s mood remains a mystery, and within a few days, he is back to his brilliant, coat-twirling, mad self. John doesn’t dwell on it. After all, Sherlock did warn him that he was prone to bouts of silence and sulking when they first moved in together and, he supposes, this must just be the latest round of it. He keeps a steady hand through it all, offers his quiet presence, even when Sherlock throws ever increasing, angry sneers in his direction. He is no stranger to dark moods and how even the air can feel harsh and horrible in your lungs, so he clenches his fist and bites his cheek when Sherlock snaps at him, knowing that to engage him when he is like this will only make it worse. But he certainly breathes a sigh of relief when Sherlock suddenly springs from the sofa, eyes alight with the joy of a new case, and shouts for him to grab his jacket.

And then it’s a crime scene, a break-in, a mad dash, then hours spent at Bart’s, messing about in paperwork while Sherlock’s mind spins away, gaze distant as he quickly slots together ideas at a speed that John can only sit back and admire.

There is a fleck of odd color in one of Sherlock’s eyes, a speck of brown that stands out against the not-blue-or-grey of his eyes. When Sherlock glances up from his microscope, mouth and brow crumpled and wrinkled from puzzling out what he has seen, the light hits him in such a way that his irises are washed out to almost white except for that perfect imperfect dot. Sherlock leans in unexpectedly to snatch John’s phone out his hands, and John gets a close-up view of it; he has to quickly look away, throat bobbing and palms sweating.

He lies in bed later that night and wonders what Sherlock’s eyes would look like after being thoroughly kissed. Half-lidded and dazed? Wide-eyed and surprised? Would he deduce the exact way John wanted to be kissed or would he throw himself into it as he did many things, foolhardy and breathless? John rubs his fingers back and forth over his bottom lip, warming and rubbing the flesh almost raw. He darts his tongue out and licks the pad of his finger, imagining it is Sherlock’s. He dips his finger into his mouth and sucks on it, enjoying the feel of calluses on his tongue.

Sherlock’s fingers would be different; where John’s are short and small, Sherlock’s would be long and thin, the rough spots in different places, raised ridges and valleys each telling a different tale against his tongue. What would Sherlock try to deduce from the play of John’s tongue on his index finger? You’ve done this before, John. Sucked a man’s fingers until they are wrinkled and slick with your saliva.

He’d push another into John’s mouth just to feel the change in pattern in how John’s licks, and categorize John’s sexual history in the way John’s tongue flicks down in between his fingers. The tip of his tongue buried in the webbing between Sherlock’s fingers, seeking and searching, would tell Sherlock more than the hard press of John’s cock against his thigh. He’d whisper in John’s ear about John’s past lovers, voice whiskey-rough. His eyes would widen and narrow at each little pull of John’s mouth. What would that little fleck of brown look like when John grabs Sherlock’s wrist and begins to suck harder, taking as much of Sherlock’s two fingers into his mouth as he can? The lighting would be different, not the cold harshness of the lab at Bart’s; moonlight, perhaps, coming in through John’s bedroom window. Sherlock was meant to be lit by moonlight, cool angles and sharp relief.

John pulls his fingers out with a slurp, trailing spit across his lips and down his chin. He shoves his pants down, hooks a leg up and rubs his soaked fingers behind his balls, dipping back to brush against his arsehole. Slowly, he works just a bit of his finger inside. When he wraps his other hand around his cock, he squeezes his eyes shut, and imagines it is Sherlock touching him. The image changes as his strokes himself. Sherlock’s fingers in him. Sherlock’s mouth on his cock, on his skin. His tongue lapping at John’s mouth. His head thrown back, lovely neck bared, a long desperate whine building in his throat as his rides John. John’s cock twitches.

God, Sherlock being fucked. He'd be quiet, his mind actually shut off for once, giving himself over to just the feel of John pounding into him hard, fast and relentless. John thumbs the head of his cock, strokes himself harder at the thought of a Sherlock solely occupied with something so messy, so primal. Just before the end, he’d grow still and moan, a long, drawn out distortion of John’s name, and finally come, cock jerking in his own hand as John digs his fingers into his thighs.

John snaps his eyes open and realizes he can no longer stand it. He strokes himself once, twice, root to tip, and then he follows the Sherlock in his mind, come coating his hand and stomach.

John shakes as he wipes himself off then curls under the sheet and blanket. He stares unfocused at the ceiling, lids and limbs heavy, and slowly drifts off to the imagined feeling of Sherlock’s warm body tucked up under his arm.

 


 

Late night. Sherlock’s weight pressed against him. He pants. A grunt.

“Shite, sorry. Just a few more steps and then we will get you sorted.” There is an awkward moment where he has to prop Sherlock against the door jam in order to get the door open. It gives, nearly tumbling them both into the bathroom. Sherlock is trembling under his hands, though he tries to hide it. He’s betrayed by his legs when they give out under him and he lands hard on the toilet seat. John leaps forward to keep him from falling sideways. One sturdy hand on his neck keeps him in place while John slowly removes his jacket and shirt and then guides him forward until Sherlock rests his elbows on his knees.

John quietly surveys the the damaged skin of Sherlock’s back and side. Amidst the bruising and cuts, Sherlock’s shoulders are dusted with a constellation of freckles. He studies them for a moment, thinking of galaxies, star dust, and insignificance, before cleaning the dirt and gravel out of Sherlock’s raw, torn skin. Not as bad as it looks, but still painful. He’ll be moving gently for the next few days. Hands made steady from years of routine, John methodically cleans and dresses the worst of the damage and lets his mind wander.

This is not the first time he has seen Sherlock’s bare back--Sherlock has never been one for modesty-- but he hadn’t been this close on those occasions. Sherlock’s skin is warm under his hand and John’s imagines the sun coaxing out those faint little spots dotted across his shoulders, making them darker, multiplying them. His skin would redden under the light, turning pale skin pink, complimenting John’s own sun-darkened skin. A blush works up John’s neck at the thought of where else Sherlock might freckle and he is thankful that Sherlock isn’t looking at him. He snaps to attention, realizing he has been staring at Sherlock’s back and not cleaning the gash along his ribs.

“Your lips are oddly thin,” Sherlock says. “And you lick them far too much.”

John blinks. “Sorry?”

Sherlock shifts on the toilet seat and curls his shoulders inward. John swipes a thumb back and forth over Sherlock’s nape, trying to get him to untense, before setting back to work. Sherlock flinches at his touch.

“I’m hurting you.” John’s hand hovers over a nasty swath of road rash.

“Yes.”

“Just a bit more. It’ll be quick, I promise.”

Sherlock doesn’t comment further.

 


 

He knows he is properly fucked when he realizes that he has been (pathetically) waxing poetic about Sherlock’s freckles. God help him, he wants Sherlock. The intensity of it steadies him, even while his mouth dries up with craving. John wants his brilliance and his stupidity; his knowledge of 243 types of ash and his inability to name all the planets in the solar system; his perfectly pressed suits and his wrinkled t-shirts carelessly tossed on inside out. In the morning, when Sherlock comes out of his room, nose wrinkled in a yawn, John imagines what it would taste like to kiss him when Sherlock is still waking to the world, what it would feel like to press against him when he is still warm from sleep. After a hard chase, he wants to grab Sherlock by the scarf and haul him close so he can bury his nose in the sweat that has collected at the base of his neck, under his arms, in between his legs.

Now that he has taken notice of Sherlock, has finally realized that what he feels for him is more than passing affection, all John can do is notice him; every little detail jumps out at him and demands attention; every casual brush of a hand or sudden closeness makes him throb with what if, what if, what if.

When Sherlock smiles, actually smiles, his face becomes a labyrinth of wrinkles, transforming him. It always starts the same: his mouth twitches, the small scar under his bottom lip twisting, as he fights the urge. The twitching spreads to a tick of a cheek, a scrunching of his eyes, until John is a bit lost in trying to reconcile the two faces of Sherlock: one frozen arrogance, smooth and distant; the other young and warm, only enhanced more by the surprise and delight in Sherlock’s eyes, as if he cannot believe his own emotions.

He’s grinning, absolutely vibrating with pent up excitement over the body at his feet, and John can’t help but stare, transfixed at the slightly uneven way Sherlock smiles. One corner of his mouth tugs up just a bit higher than the other, and as he is staring, he notes that Sherlock’s two front upper teeth are just slightly uneven. He should smile more. It makes him look younger, lighter, rakish. More delighted schoolboy, less distant, lonely god.

Sherlock glances at him and, just like that, the smile is gone, replaced by something much colder and, inexplicably, hurt. John blinks, unsure of what caused that look, but wanting to find the person that made Sherlock’s face shut down like that and give them a good sound clip around the ears.

“If you are quite finished, John, perhaps you can be of some actual use and deduce what killed this man,” Sherlock says. No real call for that sort of tone. It’s not like John was the one who ruined his day.

John leans over the body, gloved hands gentle as he turns the man’s head to get a better view of his neck. “No marks that would indicate strangulation.” He checks the man’s lips and fingers: normal as far as a dead body goes. “No obvious signs of asphyxiation. Heart attack, maybe?”

“I see you’ve been taking lessons from Anderson,” Sherlock bites. “Did you even look behind his ears? There are obvious injection sites. I expect such carelessness from Lestrade’s crew, but you aren’t usually so stupid.”

“Right. Okay then. I’ll just go back to the flat, shall I? Wouldn’t want to stink up the crime scene with my stupidity.” John slaps his thighs and stands. He’s not sure what has got into Sherlock recently, but he’s not about to stand around and be his punching bag.

Sherlock doesn’t call him back as John marches off and for the entire trip home, John tries to pretend that the silence doesn’t sting.

 


 

They don’t speak for the next two days. John knows that Sherlock is fine because Lestrade periodically texts him about Sherlock driving him mad, but Sherlock and John never exchange words. Eventually he comes home in the middle of the night and John ignores the way his stomach settles its quiet worry-filled rebellion at the first sound of Sherlock bounding up the stairs. Punching his pillow in irritation, he rolls over and stares at the wall until his body betrays him, and he falls asleep.

The next morning John slowly descends downstairs, dreading what potential havoc Sherlock may have caused during the night. He needn’t have worried. Sherlock is huddled over an experiment in the kitchen, arms tucked sharply in at his sides as if he is trying to take up as little space as possible. He doesn’t look up from his microscope. John stifles a sigh; it’s not that he was expecting an apology, but it would be nice to have some sort of explanation about what the hell is going on in Sherlock’s brain as of late. Something has obviously got him into a tizzy, though damned if John can figure out what it is.

He sets a cup of coffee at Sherlock’s elbow and then waits. Sherlock will have to acknowledge him eventually. John fills the silence with a sip from his mug and a smack of his lips. Sherlock’s fingers twitch. His knuckles have cracked again, cold weather and latex gloves conspiring to ruin the thin skin on the backs of his hands. Sherlock’s grip tightens on one of the knobs on his microscope, and as John watches, a bit of blood is coaxed to the surface.

This time he can’t resist the urge to sigh. Setting the mug down, John ducks into the bathroom, grabs his bottle of lotion, and heads back into the kitchen. “You can keep on ignoring me, but at least do something about your hands.”

Sherlock barely glances up from his work, waving one hand to shoo him away. John ensnares his wrist to inspect the red, chapped skin. Sherlock’s pulse pounds away just under his fingers. He rubs his thumb against the protruding bone; Sherlock’s hands are, of course, fascinating, but John has always been fond of the form of Sherlock’s wrists. The perfect arch of them as he plays his violin; the easy roll as he carelessly waves a hand in disgust. John’s fingers meet easily around the bone, but there is no sense of delicacy, no fear of breaking him. Sherlock is a study in dichotomy: svelte, but sturdy; untouchable, but human.

“You’ve gained weight in the past month. That shirt is too tight around your stomach now.” Sherlock tugs against John’s grip.

“Did you just imply that I have become fat?”

“I implied nothing. I observed. The evidence shows it to be the case.”

John lets go and slowly counts to ten. It does not work particularly well. When he speaks, he forces his voice to be calm and level. “What the bloody hell is wrong with you? You’ve been snapping at me for weeks now.”

“I am simply stating what we have both been thinking.”

“I’ve been thinking I am fat? And stupid?” He laughs. “And that I have horrible taste in jumpers?”

Sherlock sniffs and rubs at his wrist. “No, but you were just thinking about how I was too thin. Perhaps I need fattening up.” He bares his teeth in a snarl, voice sharp and biting, talking over John’s protest. “And for someone who, at the best of times, could be described as wrinkly, plain, doddering, and,” he spits out the word, “fatherly, you have become rather preoccupied in finding every last one of my imperfections.”

Oh, bloody hell. John holds his hands up in surrender, shrugging off the sting of Sherlock’s assault. This isn’t an unsolicited attack on John’s person; this is Sherlock lashing out at a perceived insult. “Sherlock, I think there has been a misunderstanding.”

“Oh, so you haven’t been staring and cataloguing all of my flaws? You weren’t counting the moles on my neck or noticing that my teeth are crooked? I somehow imagined all that. I am not an idiot, John. Do not insult me further by suggesting I am.”

Deep breath, Watson. Time to man up. “Okay, yes, I have been,” he swallows, “staring.” Bugger, this sounds awful now that he is saying it.  “And yes, I’ve noticed those things.” Sherlock flinches. “But I wasn’t. That is. I was.” He waves his hand between the two of them. “I might’ve been admiring those things.”

Sherlock jerks back, nose scrunching, chin disappearing into his neck, and John even finds that face attractive, which should tell him how damn far he is gone. “Admiring. Don’t be ridiculous. No one admires those things.” Sherlock dismisses him, going back to his experiment. He drums one hand on the tabletop, fingers tapping out four quick beats, before glancing back at John. “Why would you admire those things?”

“Because, you dumb git, I fancy you.”

“No, you don’t.”

John laughs. “Yeah, I rather think I do.”

Sherlock’s forehead wrinkles, eyes darting back and forth, trying to figure out this new puzzle. “Why?”

Something in John’s chest twinges at Sherlock’s incredulous tone, at the way his eyebrows are pinched and meeting over the bridge of his nose. The look is unacceptable on Sherlock’s face, and setting his hands on Sherlock’s shoulders, John leans forward and places one brief kiss on his lips and then rubs his nose against Sherlock’s. He wants to shower this incredible, impossible man in affection until the frown on his face disappears. He kisses him again, a gentle peck against his bottom lip.

“Oh.”

“Yes,” John says.

Oh.” Sherlock darts forward, a dive bomb of a kiss, a smashing of lips and teeth, and John smiles through it, laughing at Sherlock’s stunned look of happiness.

John ducks a kiss, but tangles his fingers in Sherlock’s shirt to ease any hurt at the avoidance. “So, doddering, was it?”

“Never, John.”

 


 

He imagined he and Sherlock would come together in a hot slide of sweaty limbs and messy, wet kisses. Sherlock would moan under him, wanton and flushed. John’s skin would heat up at the thought of Sherlock muttering a million filthy things as John pounded into him. It was a fantasy, John acknowledged, coloured by his blatant desire and lack of knowledge of what Sherlock would actually be like.

He should have known it would be the exact opposite of anything he imagined.

They stumble through Sherlock’s bedroom door, each fighting to get it open while not taking their hands off of one another. John staggers into the side table, smacking his thigh hard against it and he curses. It’ll leave one hell of a bruise come morning, but he shrugs off the pain when Sherlock begins to take of his own trousers. They drop to his feet, tangling around his ankles because he forgot to remove his shoes first. He hops, left foot jerking in an attempt to fling both shoe and trouser leg off. It’s looks absolutely comical, but before John can move forward to help him, Sherlock loses his balance and pitches forward. He faceplants onto the floor, trousers still wrapped around his feet.

It looks like it hurt like hell, but John can’t help it: he starts laughing. His shoulders jerk as he tries to muffle it. “Are you all right?”

Sherlock’s voice is muffled and hissed, a bit like an angry wet cat, John thinks. “I take back what I said. I hate you.”

John smiles and rolls him over, tugging his shoes off and freeing him. “No, you don’t.” He slides a hand under Sherlock’s shirt and traces his ribs, a nipple, the dip of his navel.

“Perhaps not.” Sherlock hums and arches up into John’s touch.

John pushes the shirt up out of the way, exposing Sherlock’s stomach. The skin there is lovely and soft, the hair sparse and light. He traces the muscles under his fingers, feeling Sherlock tense under his touch. Ticklish. He follows his fingers with his lips. Peppering his stomach with kisses, John grins into Sherlock’s skin when he feels him squirm. Oh, that is lovely. He presses his lips just above Sherlock’s belly button, puffs his cheeks, and then blows, nuzzling his face as he does so. Sherlock squawks and lets out an undignified shriek of laughter when John does it again. He pulls back, resting his chin on his hand and watches Sherlock try to contain his laughter. He could get used to that sound. A deep rumble jerks Sherlock’s shoulders, which slowly builds into a giggle when he can’t quite smother it.

When the laughter finally stops, Sherlock props himself up on his elbows and tentatively smiles, cheeks dusted with pink. John crawls up to him and kisses him, warm and wet, mouth open and welcoming. Sherlock hums and pulls John down on top of him. He sucks on Sherlock’s bottom lip before letting go and nudging his chin up.

“Fuck, your neck.” John licks, kisses, and sucks, mapping and counting each mole, each freckle, with his tongue. He lets his hands wander, one coming to rest on the growing bulge in Sherlock’s pants. He gently cups him; his fingers brush and explore the cotton. Sherlock rocks up into his touch, demanding more pressure. Hooking a finger under the waistband, John tugs Sherlock’s pants out of the way. He rubs the back of his hand against the dusting of hair leading down to Sherlock’s crotch. Skirting Sherlock’s cock, John lets himself savor the feeling of smooth skin and coarse, dense hair under his knuckles. He presses his face against Sherlock’s thigh, nuzzling into the warmth found there, and breathes deep. Sherlock’s cock is warm, jutting, and ready when John finally wraps his fingers around him. There is a buzzing line of tension running through Sherlock; his hands clench and unclench at his sides. “Okay?”

Sherlock nods. “Yes. That’s. Oh.” He lets a quick breath out his nose as John’s hand begins to move.

“You know you can touch me, right?”

Sherlock’s hands are like magnets, swiftly latching onto John’s shirt, scrabbling and yanking at the material. John rears back and tugs his shirt off to avoid it getting ruined by Sherlock’s impatience, only to have him follow, hands exploring his skin.

Suddenly feeling self-conscious under Sherlock’s gaze, he lets his hands drop to his sides. Fingers press against his stomach (round), slide up his chest (soft), and skirt around his left shoulder (marred). He feels suddenly fat, old, and wrinkled next to Sherlock, who is lean and lovely. No wonder Sherlock had felt the need to lash out under John’s gaze. Even just sitting here for a few moments with Sherlock’s eyes on all the parts of his own body that he hates makes him want to hide under the bed. What an arse he has been. How would he feel if Sherlock tried to deduce everything about his shoulder wound? He hated it when his girlfriends showed it any attention, flinching inward at every comment about it making him a hero, sexy, or, Christ, trying to talk about it like it was beautiful. He scratches at his neck nervously, covering the scar with his arm.

Sherlock tugs at his hand and places it back on his crotch, rubbing John’s palm against his cock. “You stopped touching me. Why would you do that?” He crowds into John’s space, either not noticing John’s hesitation or choosing to ignore it. He growls. “Stop thinking. You are far too loud right now. If I had a problem with the way you looked, I wouldn’t be trying to figure out which part of you I want to put my mouth on first.”

John swallows and thanks Sherlock with a small smile. “Wherever you like.”

“Bed first, I should think.” He stands, tugging John along with him. His pants are still pulled down just below his arse; his cock, pointed and flushed red, peeks out from from the ends of his shirt, which is still buttoned, though deliciously wrinkled. It would be laughable, if John’s tongue wasn’t glued to the roof of his mouth. Sherlock yanks his pants off, followed by his shirt, heedless of the buttons, and then flops back onto his bed. With an imperial wave of his hand, he says, “Off. You are wearing far too much.”

John nods and quickly removes his trousers and pants and then stands and stares at Sherlock stretched out on the bed, hand wrapped around his cock as he admires John. His own cock is beginning to show interest once more; he mimicks Sherlock’s movements, hand stroking himself in time.

“Lube and condom in the bed side table.” Sherlock’s hand picks up speed, his hand twisting the slightest bit each time it nears the head of his cock.

A strangled moan catches in John’s throat. “Fuck.”

John scrambles to the table, hands shaking and nearly dropping the bottle of lube as he turns sharply and climbs onto the bed. And then he realizes he has no earthly idea how to do this. He knows the logistics, understands all the parts involved, and has certainly thought about it enough, but here, right now, with Sherlock’s pink skin and eager face, he hasn’t a damned clue what he is supposed to do. He hasn’t been this out of his depth since he knelt between Jackie Winslet’s thighs when he was sixteen.

He slicks his fingers up and worries his bottom lip between his teeth. He hasn’t gone this far with another man before, experience limited to quick handjobs and messy kisses in between shaky, nervous laughter. Sherlock’s legs spread open in encouragement and when John’s finger swipes across his arsehole, Sherlock pushes down into the touch. John hovers over him, wanting to be close but also knowing he needs to take his time with this. The angle is awkward; he shifts, and presses his finger forward just a bit more. His right arm shakes from taking his weight and he knows there is no way he can stay in this position for long, perched awkwardly as he is, trying to lean forward while holding back. He sits back and sucks on his bottom lip.

“Maybe you should move your leg over my shoulder?” John tugs at Sherlock’s calf, eyeing his legs carefully.

“Oh for-- John, it isn’t a game of Twister!”

John freezes, eyes going wide. “How the hell do you know what Twister is?” And then begins to laugh as Sherlock’s face skews up in confusion.

“I don’t know.”

He can’t stop laughing now. Sherlock huffs and turns his face away but at John’s muttered “Left foot on yellow” while tugging his leg up, a low, deep chuckle starts somewhere in Sherlock’s stomach. Before John can tease him further, Sherlock grabs him and rolls them over so that their positions are reversed. Sherlock kisses him soundly to stop John’s laughter.

“I will be taking over now as your incompetence is showing.”

“Oh, now there is some pillow talk. Go on, tell me I am an idiot.” John grins.

Sherlock gives a wide Cheshire cat smile. “You’re an idiot.”

“Oh, god, yes. I love it when you talk rude to me.” John shakes with laughter, eyes shut tight, and then gasps as Sherlock hikes his legs up and presses one lube slick finger into him.

“Easy there now,” he wheezes, “not as young as I used to be.”

“And not getting any younger.”

“Christ. And to think I am letting you into my pants.” He hisses as Sherlock adds another finger.

“You are letting me into more than that, I should think.”

John groans. Who knew Sherlock would be a cheeky bastard in bed? So much for wanton and panting. He supposes he should have seen that coming. Flexing his leg, he draws Sherlock closer. “Shut up and fuck me already.”

“Happily.” Sherlock rolls a condom on, smearing more lube along his length, then rubs the head of cock against John’s arsehole. John jerks, surprised at the sensation, at the way it makes every little nerve jingle. His fingers don’t compare to the soft circuitous path Sherlock makes before finally pushing in.  

John breathes through the burn, tamping down the lizard brain part of him shouting at him to move away. It’s uncomfortable; bent like this with Sherlock’s weight pressing his knees towards his chest, he’s not as relaxed as he should be, not as lubed up. He’s never had more than fingers up there before now and the thick, persistent push of Sherlock’s cock is almost too much. He digs his nails into the sheets, willing his legs and stomach to untense.

“John?” Sherlock’s voice is a frayed wire and it takes John a moment to realize he isn’t the only one shaking.

“Give me a second, yeah?” He forces his fingers to release their hold on the sheets and reaches up to brush sweat-dampened hair off of Sherlock’s forehead. He concentrates on breathing, on letting each muscle relax, on the warmth of Sherlock encasing him. Slowly, he calms, the burn easing.  He gives his hips an experimental wiggle, feeling Sherlock slide just a bit further in. He fights down a whine trying to build in his throat. It feels different. Not bad, not bad at all, especially with the way Sherlock is looking at him, wild and awed and the slight hint of worry pulling at his lips, but it is something that will take getting used to, this welcomed invasion of having someone inside him. “Yeah, okay.”

Sherlock moans, and pushes in, slow, hesitant, before finally coming to rest, pressed against John’s arse. At John’s encouragement, he pulls out before shuddering forward again. He does it again and again, the movement growing more hectic with each push until Sherlock’s skin is slapping against John’s. He isn’t quiet, like John thought he might be, nor is there a stream of deducing what exactly John likes. Instead, Sherlock pants and in between each pant is a litany of small, half-bitten moans that take the shape of ‘oh’ and ‘yes’ and ‘John.’

Something curls pleasantly low in John’s stomach, a whisper of more, but Sherlock’s thrusts are not enough. He tries to push into it, to meet each snap of Sherlock’s hips, but he has no leverage. He slaps his hand back on the headboard and bears down. The change in angle and the unexpected drive of Sherlock’s cock nearly makes him bite through his bottom lip. “Fuck. Oh, Jesus.”

Sherlock’s rhythm breaks. Jerks. Snaps forward again.

“John, I don’t think--” A line of sweat is gathering on Sherlock’s lip. Splotches of bright red spread across his face and down his neck. John can only nod, voice gone, and squeezes Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock whines, eyes snapping shut, and picks up speed once more. It doesn’t take long, but John tries to commit to memory the way Sherlock’s face skews up, almost in pain, before going slack. With one final thrust, he groans, long, low, and loud. Pressed together like this, John can feel every twitch of Sherlock’s body: the quiver of his stomach muscles, the spasm of his chest, the bunch and flex of his thighs. He buries his face in John’s calf, breath puffing hot and fast against his skin as he slowly comes back to himself. He is gentle as he pulls out, a slight tremor in his hands that he tries to mask by rubbing John’s legs as he eases them down.

Walking on shaking legs, Sherlock disposes of the condom, then curls against John’s side, head coming to rest against his shoulder. He mouths at the skin there, leaving wet trails as he moves to a nipple. His cock stirs, half-hard and gaining interest as Sherlock mouth pulls against his nipple. Stomach muscles tense under Sherlock’s fingers as his hand dips down, cupping John’s balls, feeling the weight of them in his hand, exploring the skin just behind them, before backtracking and giving his cock a firm pull, followed by a light brush of his fingers.

Alternating between the two, Sherlock coaxes him back to full hardness. John sucks in a breath, toes curling until the muscles in his feet shout a protest. He feels like he has been teetering back and forth on the sharp edge of arousal for hours. Never quite getting there, but still tasting it on his tongue.

Sharp and lovely, Sherlock’s teeth scrape against the now-tender flesh of his nipple, only to follow it with the wet lapping of his tongue. Bite and soothe. Maddening like the hand on his cock. Tease and promise. He tangles his fingers in Sherlock’s hair, presses his mouth hard against his chest, and reaches down to tighten Sherlock’s grip on his cock, demanding more. He feels Sherlock grin against his skin, before pursing his lips and sucking faster. Hips bucking hard and fast, John fucks Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock shifts, pressing John down into the mattress with his weight, and latches on to his other nipple, suckling it.

John’s jaw drops open, tongue flicking out to taste his own lips, desperate for something he cannot name. Sherlock hand speeds up, mouth working in tandem to wrench John’s orgasm out of him. He looks up at John, eyes bright and searching, mouth still pulling and puckering against his nipple. Without meaning to, John copies the motion with his own mouth, sucking and pulling on nothing but air. Sherlock shoves his free hand between them, pressing it over John’s mouth, fingers pushing past his lips. He fucks three fingers into John’s mouth, in and out, stretching the skin wide and causing John to drool and groan around them. Sweat and skin. Hard calluses and knobby knuckles. John sucks on his fingers when they push in, licks at the pads of his fingertips when they pull out, learns the weight and texture of them against his tongue. Sherlock hums in appreciation, a deep rumble that John feels in the sweaty line of Sherlock’s chest pressed up against him. He sucks hard on Sherlock’s fingers, only to be answered in kind by the sharp sting of teeth leaving their mark on his chest and a firm, hot, damp twist of Sherlock’s hand on his cock.  

Mouth full of the taste of Sherlock, John comes with a muffled shout, hips twisting and juddering under Sherlock’s hand. The sharp, twisted pain of a cramp shoots up his calf and he chokes for a moment, caught between it and the fierceness of his orgasm. He rides both of them until, shaking and covered in sweat, he goes limp under the warmth of Sherlock’s bare skin.

In between whimpers and Sherlock’s fingers, he tries to catch his breath. Sherlock slowly removes his fingers from John’s mouth, smearing spit across John’s lips and down his neck. He continues to lap at the abused flesh around John’s nipple, his hand still caressing John’s softening cock. Too much. He grabs Sherlock’s wrist and pulls it away, only to have Sherlock wrap their fingers together, smearing come, sweat, and the residue of lube over their hands.

The assault on John’s nipple slackens; the room cools. In the silence that falls around them, John counts the thud of his pulse, listens to it slow in his ears. As John calms, Sherlock grows restless. In between beats, Sherlock twists and turns at his side, sated-shaken movements giving way to hesitancy. John waits.

“I,” he says, his fingers lighting on John’s hip and then skittering away. “I apologize.”  Sherlock withdraws, managing to distance himself from John without moving from his spot on the bed. His shoulders tense. “My performance was--”

“You mean the part where you lost control because my arse felt so good?” He stretches, wincing at the pull of muscles, and twists his ankle back and forth trying to ease the residue of pain in his calf. Sherlock attempts to pull away, only to be reeled back in by John’s clumsy pawing. “Or maybe the bit where you made me come so hard I drooled and managed to get a leg cramp?” He yawns, and trails a lazy hand over his stomach. “I’d call it fucking amazing.”

Sherlock’s attention snaps to him. “Embarrassing would be the word I would have chosen, but you are obviously dysfunctional.”

“Am I? I hadn’t noticed.”

“You seem to find the most bizarre things attractive.”

“Lucky for you then.” Heedless of the mess, he grabs Sherlock and kisses him.