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Sherlock Holmes had to failed to solve the case.

Three women had died at the hands of an obsessed, unbalanced man seeking revenge. It was a case of an infatuation gone wrong, a broken man seeking retribution by taking the lives of innocent women who happened to share a passing similarity to the one he had first fixated upon many years ago. Sherlock had come close, so very close, but before they could catch the man he killed his last victim and then himself, dialing 999 with his dying breath, bringing the police to his final, grisly tableau.

Sherlock was externally cold, dismissive, seemingly indifferent to the tragedy. John heard the whispers in the halls of New Scotland Yard that trailed behind them as Sherlock swept out, coat swirling behind him.

Freak. Psycho. Machine.

John, of course, knew better, and the truth of the matter was much more difficult and complex to deal with.

It happened rarely, but when Sherlock Holmes failed to solve a case, and lives were lost in the aftermath, the spectacle that followed was truly frightening in its intensity.

Behind the closed doors of Baker Street, the detective was frustrated and angry, devastated by his failure, both in solving a case and in saving a life.

It broke John’s heart to see the man he loved feeling like this, and more than that, he was bloody horrible to live with in this state of mind. Sherlock cursed and ranted and abused everyone who dare come near him. John took the worst of it, of course; Sherlock mocked and ridiculed and belittled his intelligence, his taste in clothing, his appearance, the food he cooked, his very existence.

John could accept the ill-treatment. He absolutely didn’t like it; they had, for the most part, moved on to a point where unintentional rudeness was tolerated (Sherlock was, after all, Sherlock), but outright nastiness was no longer part of landscape. But John felt keenly how badly Sherlock was hurting, so he accepted it, let it wash over him.

But worse, far worse, was that the abuse Sherlock heaped on himself. He stormed around the flat, muttering, cursing, calling himself names, knocking books and papers to the floor. He ranted at length about his idiocy, his failings, his uselessness as a human being. Then he sulked, refusing to acknowledge anything or anyone. He punished himself by refusing to eat or even drink anything at all, smoking cigarette after cigarette until the flat stank of them despite John bodily pushing him out onto the fire escape with his cancer sticks.

Maybe, John thought, it was because in their day-to-day life Sherlock had become much more tolerable and pleasant in general, but this episode felt like one of the worst ever.

John hung on through the first day, into the second, gritting his teeth, knowing he had to do something and soon, but when Sherlock got like this finding just the right moment was so very, very critical.

The final straw this time, as it usually was, was when Sherlock started throwing things. Breakable things. Dangerous things. Like a mug full of hot tea.

Tangle-haired, hollow-eyed and in need of a shower, Sherlock had gone pale and deathly still on the couch. His celadon eyes were open and unseeing, giving him the air of a living corpse, a development which always scared John much, much more than the shouting, cursing whirling dervish he had grown accustomed to.

He made a cup of tea just the way Sherlock liked, two sugars and a splash of milk.

“Just drink something, Sherlock, please,” John said, thrusting the mug towards the fingers that lay so very still across the detective’s concave belly.

Sherlock ignored him for several long seconds, then raised one hand slowly. He took the mug from John, and without sparing him a glance hurled it as hard as he could across the room. The mug shattered against the far wall, brown trails of tea staining the brocade wallpaper.

“Right, then,” said John tightly. There was nothing else for it. Honestly, he should have stepped up yesterday and not let Sherlock get himself this far gone. “I’ve had quite enough from you.”

John took a deep breath, found his proper frame of mind, and reached out to weave his fingers into the dark tangled mane of Sherlock’s hair. Then he pulled. Hard.

“Knees on the floor,” John ordered, the military edge creeping into his voice, brooking no dissent. Sherlock’s eyes widened first in surprise, then in pain, then something else altogether bloomed there. He allowed John to pull him by his hair into a sitting position, off the couch, then whimpered just once as John maneuvered him into a kneeling position on the floor. John pulled his head back by his hair, two fingers under his chin, tilting his head up so Sherlock was forced to look at him.

“You’re out of control, Sherlock,” John said, not unkind, but with a steely firmness in his voice that allowed no argument. “You can’t handle yourself right now, so I’m going to handle you.” His voice softened, dropped low, gentleness and menace combined. “You belong to me, you are my responsibility and I will have you under control. Do you understand?”

Sherlock’s pupils were wide and dark, his irises the barest pale rims. He nodded, gazing up at John.

“Say, ‘Yes, John.’”

“Yes, John,” he breathed.

“You won’t speak unless I ask you a direct question, or to use your safeword. Do you understand?”

“Yes, John.”

What’s your safeword?”


(Back when they first began this, John had asked Sherlock to choose a safeword.

He had looked up at the ceiling and hummed a bit.

“Phosphatidylcholine,” he said.

John considered him for a long moment.

“I think,” John replied, “My first executive decision as your dom will be picking your safeword.”)

John smiled, loosening his grip and stroking Sherlock’s hair. “That’s my good boy. Go into the bathroom, strip, and fold your clothes. Brush your teeth, too. I want you naked and kneeling by the bathtub in five minutes.”


It had all started like this--

John sat on the bed next to Sherlock, the debris of the demolished bedroom scattered all around them.

Sherlock’s poor impulse control and big mouth had sparked a blazing row with a tetchy, sleep-deprived Lestrade, and the whole conflagration ended in Sherlock being banned from a really outstanding, eight-bordering-on-nine serial killing.

Sherlock had been forcibly removed from the crime scene, and while John didn’t know exactly what had gone so wrong (Lestrade must have been truly pissed off because he wasn’t returning John’s texts) John felt largely responsible.

He hadn’t been there, stuck at work instead, and it was becoming increasingly clear his time of earning an outside paycheck was coming to an end. They didn't need the money, hadn't for years. He worked for the satisfaction of helping people, and the interaction with human beings that weren't borderline lunatics, but Sherlock needed him more, and the whole idea that he was Sherlock’s keeper, well, it was insanely codependent and unhealthy, but that was nothing new. Sherlock was the center of his life, and John was responsible for keeping him right, and that was... well, that was just the way it was.

John should have been there for Sherlock, and he hadn’t been. He felt keenly responsible.

So now John sat on the bed next to the miserable, sulking detective, not knowing how to make this right. Sherlock needed him, and John would give him anything, everything, down to the very bottom of his soul .“Tell me what you need, love,” he pleaded. “Tell me how to help.”

Sherlock hid his face in the pillow and shook his head, dark curls bobbing in the lamplight.

“You get so out of control, and it scares me,” John said. “You get so frustrated, so angry, everything speeding on overdrive, and I’m worried that you’ll hurt yourself or do something stupid.”

Sherlock turned his head and glared. “I’m not a toddler, John. I don’t need a babysitter.”

John didn’t debate the relative truth of that statement. “That’s not what I said, Sherlock.”

“Go away,” Sherlock mumbled into the pillow.

“I just want to help, love.”

“You can help me now if you GO AWAY.” Sherlock curled on his side away from John, giving him a view of his silk-swathed back, and refused to talk to him for the rest of the night.

When John came to bed later on that evening, Sherlock got up and left without a word. John slept alone.

The next morning, Sherlock was still surly but willing to give clipped one-word answers to John’s entreaties.

Tea? “Yes.”

Toast? “No.”

John just rolled his eyes, sighed, and placed mugs of tea at Sherlock’s elbow throughout the day as Sherlock steadfastly ignored him.

That evening, after a silent dinner that Sherlock refused to acknowledge let alone eat, John lay on the sofa, laptop perched on his chest as he indifferently poked around on the Internet rather than frustrate himself with trying to interact with his stroppy, miserable boyfriend. Around nine, Sherlock lowered himself to the floor next to the couch and diffidently laid his head on John’s belly, placing a large warm hand on his hip. It was the gesture that passed for an apology on Planet Sherlock. John put his laptop aside and ran his fingers through glossy curls.

“You’re right,” Sherlock murmured, almost too quiet to hear.

“About what?” John asked.

“About...being out of control.” Sherlock stopped talking, seemed to reconsider. John scratched his fingers through his soft hair, silently encouraging him to continue.

“I get trapped in my own head. Intellectually as well as... I’ve gotten better at a lot of things, emotionally, but when I get very overwhelmed, or very frustrated, I get stuck in a feedback loop and it’’s tremendously unpleasant. I know it’s hard to live with as well.”

You think?, John thought, annoyed, but managed to bite back the words. This level of communication was rare from Sherlock, and sarcasm would only scare him away. Instead, John carded his fingers through dark hair and waited.

“Were you serious about...wanting to help?” Sherlock asked after a moment.

“Of course I am,” John said quietly.

Sherlock picked up John’s laptop and typed in a few words. He handed the computer back to John.

As John’s read his eyes widened a bit, but he kept his voice level.

“Sensation play.”

“I’ve done some research,” Sherlock said, in the clipped tone he retreated to when he was hiding insecurity or embarrassment. “I believe restraint and sensation play, coupled with a temporary power exchange, might be a valid intervention when I’m experiencing...difficulties.”

John was silent for a minute, reading. Processing.

“What you’re saying is,” John said slowly, “essentially you want me to tie you up and hit you when you’re having a tantrum.”

John was undeniably rather shocked and a bit confused, but he tried valiantly not to show it. Sherlock didn’t miss a thing though, not ever and especially not on John’s face. He huffed, a noise of affronted embarrassment, and buried his face in John’s jumper.

John felt a burst of affection wash over him. Sherlock was trying. Okay, it was to ask for something unusual and perhaps a bit disconcerting, but he was trying.

Sherlock had exhausted his reserve of remote coolness and was literally burrowing into John’s clothing in mortification.

“Sherlock,” John murmured, rubbing circles in his back. “Love. I’m not saying no.”

After a long moment, Sherlock lifted his head to face John, composure reassembled.

He took a deep breath. “When I get like...that,” Sherlock started, “my brain is overloading, spinning like a top, and I feel like my head is going to explode. Intense somatic sensations, physical might help.” He coloured, spots of pink high on his pale cheeks. “Focusing on my body to get out of my own mind. It might help.”

Sherlock paused, and covered one of John’s hands with his own, almost tentative. “When I’m feeling out of control I don’t trust myself. But I trust you. I always trust you.”

John thought about this for a few moments. It made sense. It made a lot of sense. Sherlock needed something overwhelming, something in his body to take him out of his mind...and John desperately wanted to give Sherlock everything he ever asked for, everything he ever needed, but-- “You want me to give you a distraction to stop your brain overloading.”

Sherlock nodded.

John considered his words carefully. “With my background, and everything you’ve been through...Sweetheart, I’m not going to hit you, no matter how nicely you ask.”

Sherlock dropped his head. “I know,” he mumbled into John’s jumper. “Never mind. Just forget it.”

John ran his fingers through Sherlock’s glossy dark curls, nails scratching gently against his sensitive scalp, a touch that always made Sherlock shiver with pleasure.

John got the beginnings of an idea.

“Sherlock, I think you may be on to something.” John tightened his fingers in Sherlock’s hair. “I won’t hit you,” John repeated, radiating calm control as he pulled hard on the sensitive strands, making Sherlock gasp in pain and surprise. “But I’m thinking hitting isn’t the only way to give you what you want. You want sensory input? I can get--” he pulled Sherlock’s head up and leaned closer -- ”Very--” he pulled his hair even harder-- “creative,” he whispered, licking the delicate curve at the top of his ear.

Sherlock moaned, a throaty, desperate sound that sent a jolt of fire straight through John’s body. “Oh yes, John,” he breathed. "Yes, please.

That night he tied Sherlock up for the first time, improvising with the belts from all of his various dressing gowns.


Being on his knees, with John’s hand in his hair, had an immediate and profound effect on Sherlock’s demeanor. John could almost see him sliding down into his calm, submissive space with an expression on his face that looked very much like gratitude.

“Go on, then,” John said. “Do as you’re told.”

John held a hand out to him and Sherlock took it without hesitation, rising and turning to walk quietly into the bathroom. When John heard Sherlock turning on the taps to brush his teeth, he moved through the flat quickly, mapping a game plan, putting out supplies. Defenses stripped, emotions laid bare, subspace made Sherlock intensely vulnerable and needy; once the scenario began to unfold, John would not able to be leave him alone for even a moment.

Though they didn’t do this on any kind of consistent schedule, it happened often enough that John was fairly well prepared. It was, in a way, a very logical extension of their usual division of labor--Sherlock was in charge of his big brain, and John was generally tasked with care and maintenance of everything below the detective’s neck, though usually not in quite this extreme a manner.

John didn’t mind; in fact, truth be told, something in him truly loved being responsible for Sherlock, for caring for him in this incredibly intimate manner. It was a level of trust John had at one time thought Sherlock incapable of, and then more recently something John thought he had missed his chance at when he chose to marry a murderous, lying assassin rather than follow his heart.

Sherlock had been there for him, had helped him pick up the pieces in the wake of Mary’s betrayal, and had waited patiently for John to come to his senses and realise he had been desperately in love with Sherlock since the day they had met.

They had hurt and scarred each other so badly, but they had been able to build something new and better out of the ashes and wreckage, and John was grateful. Even when things got difficult, John remembered how empty his life was without Sherlock and he was joyful to have the chance to prove how much he loved the man on a daily basis.

And sometimes, when things went bad, this was what Sherlock needed. John knew Sherlock wanted John to hit him, beat him with a riding crop or belt until his mind was blank and washed clean by pain and endorphins, but John just wasn’t emotionally able to separate that kind of activity from his own difficult and violent upbringing; or, for that matter, from the horrific abuse Sherlock had endured in his time away, memories finally shared with John in nighttime whispers and never mentioned in the daylight.

So no hitting. Not ever. But there were ways, other ways of altering Sherlock’s mental state and refocusing him on the sensations of his body, and John was rather enjoying the challenge of finding creative ways to push Sherlock’s boundaries.

In the bedroom, John laid out supplies and toys on the bedside table, then went back to the kitchen and filled two large glasses with ice and water. He took one into the bedroom and with the other he went into the bathroom, where Sherlock was kneeling on the tile floor, heels tucked under his bum, head bowed, breathing softly through his nose. He was half-hard, his penis beginning to thicken and fill. He did not look up at John when he entered.

John turned on the tub taps, and adjusted them so the water ran hot but not scalding. He turned back to Sherlock and ran his hand across Sherlock’s shoulders, amazed as always at how quickly and completely Sherlock dropped into subspace.

“You’re a good boy,” said John softly, “and you listened very well. But you know you’ll have to be punished for that stunt with the mug, don’t you?”

Sherlock nodded. John tightened his hand around a handful of curls.

“How do you answer me, Sherlock?”

“Yes, John,” he said, eyes watering. They had tried using other forms of address, but “Sir” and “Master” just felt ridiculous and artificial. John was already the master of Sherlock’s body, tasked with taking care of the transport Sherlock was so cavalier about, and that was true all of the time, not just when they played like this. “John” was the only title he would ever need.

“Good,” John said, releasing his hold. “But it’s not time for punishment yet. First I need to get you clean. You’re filthy, Sherlock. Just look at yourself. You haven’t showered in days.” John tsked and shook his head. “You really do need me to take care of you, don’t you?”

“Yes, John,” Sherlock said, in a quiet voice.

John took hold of him again by his hair, more gently this time, and guided him up and into the tub. Sherlock hissed at the hot water on his skin and then relaxed into it.

“First things first,” John said, reaching to the countertop and retrieving the glass of ice water. “Drink some of this,” he said firmly as he held the glass to Sherlock’s lips. “You’re very dehydrated.” Sherlock opened his mouth obediently and drank.

“Good boy,” John said, filling his voice with warm approval. “You can listen so well, when you want to.” He kissed Sherlock’s forehead, then turned to retrieve a flannel and small basin from the cabinet under the sink. He wet and shampooed Sherlock’s hair, massaging his scalp with his fingers, feeling Sherlock arch and sigh with pleasure at the touch. He rinsed carefully with several basins of clear water from the tap, then grabbed a small dry towel to blot the excess water so he wouldn’t get too chilled.

After his hair was tended to, John found Sherlock’s razor and shaving soap and shaved him carefully, turning his head this way and that, enjoying the feeling of the sharp angles and flat planes of his face under John’s careful fingers.

After giving him another drink of water, John washed Sherlock’s body methodically with expensive, rosemary-scented soap, under each arm and across his chest and back, murmuring soft almost nonsensical endearments along the way. He dipped the flannel in the bathwater and wrung it out.

“Up on your knees,” he said, and Sherlock complied, such a marked contrast to the howling dervish he had been before, docile and calm now but still half erect, and John gently moved back his foreskin to wash him, then his balls and perineum, then using a soapy hand to scrub at his cleft and a single finger to dip into his opening, and Sherlock gasped and rolled his hips, his cock becoming fully hard at the intimate touch.

“Not now, pet,” said John. “Not for a good long while, and the soap will sting if goes in too far.” He still spent a minute teasing Sherlock gently, pressing and circling at his hole, giving him just a taste of the bodily sensations he craved, and Sherlock whimpered, just once, in the back of his throat.

“You’re so beautiful like this,” John sighed, stroking the crest of Sherlock’s hip, reinforcing the shift away from Sherlock’s brain down into the sensations of his body. “My perfect, perfect creature. Do you have any idea how gorgeous you are?”

Sherlock shook his head.

John pinched the inside of his thigh, hard. Sherlock gasped in surprise.

“You answer me when I ask you a question.”

Sherlock swallowed. “No, John. I don’t…” he faltered and looked up at John through his lashes, just briefly, as if looking for permission.

John nodded. “Tell me.”

“I don’t see myself that way,” Sherlock said, voice almost a whisper. “My body is nothing, transport, an afterthought.”

“Oh, love,” John said. “That’s not true. You are so gorgeous, so amazing. I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.” John loved to praise Sherlock like this, but ordinarily the man huffed and rolled his eyes at such flowery declarations. In this space, however, he flushed and shuddered at the words as John ran fingertips up to circle one pebbled, rosy nipple. “You’re perfect. Stunningly gorgeous, and absolutely made to be tied up. I can’t wait to see the pink rope marks across your pale skin. And your neck…” John bent and traced the long column of his neck with the very tip of his tongue. “This neck is just asking me to put a collar on it.” Sherlock sighed almost soundlessly.

Sometimes, when they were like this, John heard the words coming out of his mouth, the ridiculous, depraved things he said, and wondered where he kept this part of himself hidden during the rest of the time. It almost didn’t sound like himself, sometimes, but every word was true to the bottom of his heart.

He was lost for a moment in reflection when Sherlock shivered again, bringing him back to the moment. John was charged with the care of this maddening, gorgeous creature and he was irresponsibly letting him shiver in a cooling tub. John stood and unfolded a large, fluffy towel.

“Up and over,” John told him, “and we’ll get you dried off.” Sherlock obeyed, swaying on his feet a bit as John helped him step out of the tub. “When was the last time you ate?” Sherlock hesitated. “And no fibbing,” John warned him, “or it’s additional punishment.”

“I wasn’t going to fib,” Sherlock said softly. “I don’t know what day it is.”

John felt terrible. He should have stepped in much, much sooner. “Oh, love,” he sighed as he blotted Sherlock’s hair with a dry towel until most of the moisture was gone. “I haven’t taken very good care of you.”

“It’s not your fault,” said Sherlock. “It’s mine.”

“Sherlock,” said John. “ Not a question.”

Sherlock cast his eyes to the floor.

John petted his damp hair as a reward for his obedience. Sherlock leaned into the touch.

“Bedroom. Go. Kneel at the side of the bed. I’ll be there in a minute.”

John began to pick up the wet towels when he realised was Sherlock looking at him, eyes widening in panic. Thoughtless. “Oh, pet, I’m so sorry. I won’t leave you alone, I wasn’t thinking. I’m coming with you, the bathroom floor can wait.” He grabbed a couple of dry towels and took Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock’s large palm wrapped around his, docile and trusting as he let John take the lead.


Sherlock knelt by the side of the bed and waited quietly, eyes cast down to the floor.

John stripped the coverlet off the bed (spontaneous was nice, but the Italian silk duvet cost roughly half of John’s monthly Army pension), folded it across the side chair, and laid down clean towels over the sheets.

“Up,” he said, holding out his hand. “And slowly, pet, you’ve not eaten in far too long and you’re liable to pitch over.” Sherlock took his hand silently and allowed John to position him, heels tucked up under him in the center of the bed.

John took the wooden box from the bedside table drawer and took out Sherlock’s collar, fastening the sterling silver buckles securely around Sherlock’s neck, sliding a finger underneath to check that it sat snugly without being too tight. The expensive black saddle leather made a stark contrast to his milk-pale skin of Sherlock's long neck. Two inches wide, with sterling silver buckles, John had spent far too much money on it, but when he first mentioned the idea of a collar early on Sherlock’s eyes had lit up with such enthusiasm that John couldn’t bear the idea of anything less than the absolute best touching his perfect skin.

The blindfold was a rectangle of black silk, raw and nubbed in texture. John folded it lengthwise and tied it over Sherlock’s eyes, careful not to catch any of his hair as he firmly knotted the fabric at the back of his head

The rope was hemp, natural, dyed black, rough looking but soft to the touch, specially ordered. John was skilled in all manner of knots from his years as both a doctor and a soldier, and it had only taken a few YouTube videos to master several basic techniques.

John made quick work of the knots, climbed off the bed, and stepped back to view the results of his handiwork.

Sherlock's arms were behind him, each wrist secured to the opposite elbow, snug but not pulling his shoulders beyond their range of motion. His ankles were bound tightly to his thighs, restricting his movement but allowing John access wherever he liked on Sherlock’s body. His cock jutted from its dark thatch of hair, resoundingly hard, flushed dark pink and curving upward towards his flat belly.

Sherlock bound in rope was impossibly, heart-stoppingly erotic.

John’s mouth went dry. How is it possible, he thought for the ten thousandth time, that this impossible human being belongs to me?

John sighed. “I want to do so many things to you,” he said softly. “But first, I’m going to do the one thing you actually don’t want me to do.”

John reached for the plate on the bedside table, peeled the foil from a plastic cup of applesauce, and began to feed Sherlock.

It should have been odd, unsettling, downright creepy to feed a bound adult man like he was a small child...but to John it was weirdly, unfailingly sexy. John fed Sherlock spoonfuls of applesauce, interspersed with sips of water, and Sherlock accepted them without complaint. After the applesauce was gone John fed him tiny cubes of cheese, and then orange slices. Sherlock bit into them messily, juice on his lips as he deliberately licked his tongue against John’s fingers, making John’s blood run hot and his jeans feel far too tight.

When the small plate was empty, John put it aside, reached out to Sherlock, tipped up his chin with his index finger and licked the traces of juice from Sherlock’s mouth. “I love you,” he whispered, and kissed him, soft and open-mouthed. Sherlock responded hungrily to the kiss, opening his mouth wide, welcoming John in with his hot, eager tongue. He tasted of oranges, and John lost himself in the kiss for several long moments as Sherlock whimpered, helplessly squirming against his restraints as he sought contact.

“Oh, pet,” John sighed, moving southward, finding a nipple, circling it with his tongue, closing over it with his teeth and biting, softly at first, then harder. Sherlock cried out, softly, trying to swallow back his sounds.

“No,” John said firmly. “You’re mine, Sherlock, and I want every sound you make. I don’t care who hears, it just means they know who you belong to.” His fingers found the other nipple and pulled, twisting. Sherlock arched and cried out loudly, a sound of surprise and pain, and John smiled.

“You like it when I play with your nipples, don’t you?”

“Yes, John,” Sherlock panted breathlessly.

“I should pierce them,” John said musingly, surprised to find he really liked the idea. “Right here, on this bed. Pierce them and slide thick rings through them. A secret for just the two of us. Would you like that, love?”

Sherlock whimpered and wriggled, his cock rising almost flush against his belly, a drop of clear precome oozing from the tip. “Yes, John,” he managed, his voice sounding strangled. John gave each tight rosy bud a final nip of teeth, making Sherlock cry out tiny yelps, before getting back up off the bed. John picked up the cup of water from the bedside table and brought it to Sherlock’s lips, making him drink once, then twice before putting the cup back down.

John wrapped his hand around the back of Sherlock’s head, fingers tangling in damp clean curls. “Head down,” he murmured gently but with firmness, pushing Sherlock’s head down and to the side, then moving his bound legs apart. In this position he was at his most vulnerable, his cheeks spread, his perineum and hole available for whatever John wanted to do to him.

John was rock hard now, constricted in his pants, and he chose comfort over the power dynamic of staying clothed while Sherlock was naked and helpless. He stripped quickly, throwing his clothing unheeded into the corner, and returned his attention to Sherlock’s body, tightly restrained and quivering with each breath

John picked up the lube from the table and flipped the cap, drizzling the fingers of his left hand generously. He slipped his fingers in between Sherlock’s spread cheeks, circling and teasing the tight knot of his entrance before pressing inside with a single slick finger. Sherlock, mindful of John’s earlier instructions, moaned vocally at the sensation, tightening around John’s finger before relaxing and accepting the intrusion. John worked him with one finger, gently then more insistently, moving deeper while stroking his hip as if he was gentling a skittish creature.

“You’re being so good,” John murmured, “So good for me, so lovely--” and added a second finger, stretching him, readying him. Sherlock moved against his fingers, making desperate, needy noises. John stilled his fingers pressed his hand down hard on the back of his neck.

“Quit squirming, you greedy slut,” John murmured, pushing Sherlock’s head into the mattress, hearing him sigh in pleasure; he quite liked being called names. “I’m in charge of you and I’ll not have you making yourself come on my fingers, so be still.” Sherlock stilled his hips, but still he made strangled mewling whimpers as John stretched him, brushing against his prostate, making him gasp and moan.

“I think you’re ready,” John said, withdrawing his fingers, making Sherlock sigh at the loss of contact. He reached for the black velvet bag on the nightstand and took out the heavy glass plug. He slicked it liberally with lube and began to work it into Sherlock’s stretched hole. Sherlock whimpered at the cool slickness of the glass, and John rubbed his lower back reassuringly as he worked it deeper.

“Relax for me, pet, let it in,” John said, gentle but firm, as he slowly pushed the glass plug fully into him. Sherlock cried out once, breathing raggedly as the widest part of the plug finally slipped past his stretched rim. John kept one hand on Sherlock’s neck as Sherlock mewled and squirmed at the heavy fullness inside of him. John gave the base of the toy several firm nudges, making Sherlock gasp as it pressed against his prostate.

“Gorgeous boy,” John murmured. “So good. I knew you could take it easily. How does it feel?”

“Good,” breathed Sherlock. “Heavy. Full.”

“I thought you’d like that one.” John gazed at the image before him, at the man now bound, blindfolded, plugged, and waiting on his bed. John would never abuse or mistreat him, never, but Sherlock wanted to give up power, to submit, to serve, and John was more than happy to oblige.

He cleaned his slicked hand one of the discarded towels and stood up, circled round to the foot of the bed. Sherlock still lay as John had positioned him, his head turned to the side, quiet and compliant, waiting to do as he was told.

He reached out with his right hand and stroked Sherlock’s full bottom lip with his thumb. Sherlock opened his mouth and John slipped his thumb inside the wet heat. Sherlock suckled willingly, eagerly, and John was swept by a wave of intense desire.

“God, that mouth,” John said approvingly. “It’s criminal how gorgeous your mouth is.” He closed his eyes, savoring the feel of Sherlock’s tongue circling the tip of his thumb. He opened his eyes, pulling the digit from between Sherlock’s lips with a wet pop.

“Lay on your side, love,” John instructed him, guiding him to where he wanted him, on his side in the middle of the big bed.

“Your punishment is coming, pet, I haven’t forgotten, but I think I need to fuck that helpless mouth first.” John positioned himself at Sherlock’s head, took himself in hand, brushed the tip of himself across full lips. “Open.”

Sherlock opened his mouth for him, and John pushed eagerly into the lovely wet heat. The angle was a bit awkward, but so worth it for the sight alone. A low moan escaped from John’s throat at the sight of Sherlock’s reddened lips stretched around his cock as the bound, blindfolded man suckled him eagerly. John wrapped the fingers of one hand in Sherlock’s hair and supported his weight on his other hand and began to thrust, gently at first and then deeper, watching the saliva gather at the corners of Sherlock’s mouth, sliding down his chin as Sherlock struggled to keep down his gag reflex. John pulled back, letting Sherlock recover his breath, then began to thrust deep. Sherlock began to drool in earnest around John’s cock, and the sight of his subjugation sparked something dark and primal inside of John.

“You were made for this,” John murmured hoarsely. “You were absolutely born to suck cock with that mouth. You love it, don’t you? Nothing else matters to you right now, except having your mouth fucked.” Sherlock nodded and moaned around John’s cock, the vibrations sending hot shivers of pleasure up John’s spine. It was so good, dirty and vulgar and unspeakably hot and John knew he wouldn’t last much longer at this rate. He pulled out of Sherlock’s mouth with a wet sliding noise and took a deep, calming breath.

“You want it, don’t you?” John said, taking himself in hand and rubbing the wet, saliva covered shaft along Sherlock’s cheekbone.

Sherlock whimpered.

“Answer me,” John ordered.

“Yes, I want it,” Sherlock breathed. “Please. I want it so much.”

“Gorgeous slut,” John murmured fondly, and pushed back into the wet cavern of Sherlock’s mouth, groaning at the heat and the lewdness of it all, of what he was allowed--no, even better, asked to do this man behind closed doors. He began to fuck Sherlock’s mouth in earnest, almost losing himself in the thrusting as he chased his pleasure, as Sherlock moaned and choked around his cock.

He pulled himself back just in time and pulled out, breathing heavy for several moments as he stepped back from the brink. Calmer, John stroked Sherlock’s hair as Sherlock coughed and spluttered a bit before recovering. He swiped the saliva from Sherlock’s chin with his finger, then wrapped his wet hand around Sherlock’s flushed, hard prick, making him moan harshly as he attempted to arch into the touch despite his bindings.

“Tell me when you get close,” John said, “and don’t you dare come.” Sherlock nodded and John stroked him firmly, occasionally pausing to palm and massage his balls. Sherlock made broken, gasping noises as he tried to thrust into John’s fist.

“Oh, look at you, such a greedy thing,” John sighed. “You need it so badly, don’t you? Tell me, pet.”

“Yes, John,” Sherlock panted. “Oh, yes, John, please.”

“There’s nothing else in the world now except what I make you feel. You can’t think of anything else except how much you want to come, can you? You’re so close. Just a little more, just a little bit more and--”

“Oh,” Sherlock gasped. “John I’m--I’m--stop.” He made a choked, whimpering noise. “Oh God.”

John withdrew his hand, leaving Sherlock panting and moaning softly. Gently, he caressed the damp curls plastered to the fabric covering Sherlock’s eyes.

“I love seeing you like this,” John whispered, “so aching, so desperate. God, you’re beautiful.” He sighed, a touch dramatically, as he slipped off the edge of the mattress, moving to the nightstand on the other side of the bed.

“It’s time, love.” He picked the the large blue drawstring bag and dropped it gently next to Sherlock’s head, so he can hear the clicking rattle of the items within.

Sherlock shook his head. “No, John,” he moaned. “No, no, please no.”

“Come on pet, up.” John carefully moved Sherlock up onto his knees, nudging them apart slightly. His cock jutted out from his body, stiff and needy, bobbing as Sherlock shook his head.

“No, no, no no,” Sherlock whimpered, his voice ragged, on the edge of tears.

(The first time Sherlock said no like that, a worried John actually stopped and started to untie him. Sherlock, in the midst of a full-fledged, snot-nosed cry, had opened one tear-filled eye to glare at him.

“Honestly, John,” he had asked, sounding sniffly but otherwise perfectly composed. ”I appreciate your concern for my well being, but you do, I trust, understand the complex psychological mechanisms underpinning the use of a safeword?”

“Um,” John said, “...yes?”

“Good,” Sherlock said as he closed his eye and resumed his ragged, whimpering sobs as if nothing had happened.

John hadn’t known if he was reassured, thoroughly unnerved, or a little of both.)

“Sherlock. I know you don’t like them, but throwing mugs of tea is not acceptable, and you need to learn a lesson. Do you want to safeword?”

Sherlock grew still, then exhaled. He shook his head. “No,” he whispered.

“Then hush.” John shook the bag, opened it. “Thirty, I think.’

John counted out thirty wooden clothespins, closed the bag, tossed it over the edge of the bed.

“Why am I doing this, Sherlock?” John asked him.

“Because I’m selfish,” Sherlock sniffled, “and destructive, and I need to learn self-control.”

“Very good,” John said. “It will be over soon, and then you’ll be forgiven. Now, spread your knees apart a little for me.”

Sherlock shook his head and clamped his knees closely together, though the erection between his thighs wavered not at all.

“Do as you’re told,” John said in a firm tone, brooking no dissent. “If I have to get the knee spreader out, you will be sorry.”

Sherlock whined once, low in his throat, and wiggled his knees further apart.

John took his time, spooling out Sherlock’s anxiety while he mapped his approach methodically--Sherlock had very little padding on his spare frame, thoughtful placement was essential-- and finally began to place the clothespins carefully, kissing each spot before pinching Sherlock’s pale flesh in between the wooden clips. He placed six on each inner thigh, from the inside of Sherlock’s knee all the way up to the crease of his groin. Next were five on each side of his belly, placed carefully in a line on the minimal bit of spare flesh around his navel. Sherlock started to squirm and tense as the pinch of the clips grew into a hot, biting burn. John paused, wound a hand into his warm damp hair and pulled hard in warning.

“Make all the noise you like, pet,” John said low and serious, “but don’t you dare move or I take them off and start all over again with twice as many.” Sherlock stilled, breathing hard through his nose as he forced himself into calm.

Four more clothespins on each side of his chest, three in a line from the crease of each armpit (John knew from past sessions these hurt particularly due to a lack of extra padding underneath). After carefully placing the last two on Sherlock’s small, hard pink nipples, John stepped back to observe his handiwork.

Neat rows of wooden clothespins festooned each side of Sherlock’s trembling body, trailing down his torso and along his thighs, framing the stiff, flushed cock that jutted straight out from between his thighs, bobbing a bit with each trembling breath he took. The silver buckles on his collar gleamed in the low lamplight. His hair was disheveled and damp with sweat, and his breathing was coming in tiny, hitching gasps as tears trickled down his face below the rough black fabric that covered his eyes.

The tears, especially, were perversely arousing to John. For some reason he loved making Sherlock cry as much as he hated it, he loved the power of it, loved taking him apart like this and leaving him utterly bare and vulnerable. It made John feel both powerful and humble. It made him feel desired. It made him feel loved.

He cupped the back of his hand around Sherlock’s head and kissed his face, swiping away the salty trails on his cheeks with his tongue.

“Shh, pet. I’m here,” he whispered. “You’re doing so well. I’m so proud of you. Shh.”

He pulled back a bit and ran a thumb over where the tears had been. Sherlock gulped and nodded.

“Halfway there, now,” John murmured. He turned toward the nightstand, picked up his phone, and set the timer for ten minutes. Setting his phone back down, he opened the bottle of lube and poured a generous dollop into his hand.

“I want to hear you, pet,” John said as he closed his hand around Sherlock’s cock, the cool slickness making him gasp and twist while the clothespins pulled and bit at his flesh. He gave a mewling, hitching sob as John began to stroke him, the first strokes gentle but then more insistently.

“You’re so close already, aren’t you? So full you’re almost ready to burst. So ready to come.”

“Yes, John,” Sherlock gasped as he tried to thrust into John’s hand, the motion making him whimper in pain as the clips pulled at his flesh.

“But you need to wait, pet. If you come before I give permission, I take them all off and we start again. I know you don’t want that, so you need to be good for me. Can you be good?”

“Yes, John. I, oh, oh, I’m so -- oh, stop, stop--”

John took away his hand immediately, and Sherlock gave a rough, gasping moan that sent a jolt directly to John’s aching cock. Breathing deep calming breaths--this was in some ways as much an ordeal for himself as it was for Sherlock--John stroked the outside of his thighs, giving Sherlock a chance to back away from the very edge, then began again, first cupping and massaging his heavy testicles before pulling at his cock in long, firm strokes. It was only a minute or two before Sherlock began to tighten and arch, and John stopped again, leaving him just moments from orgasm.

The ten minutes ticked by as John brought him to the brink twice more. By the last time John took his hand away Sherlock was so hard his cock was almost purple and he was crying openly, breath coming in wet, gasping sobs, tears rolling unchecked from under the blindfold as he rolled his head from side to side. His body shook, his bound thighs trembling from the strain.

“Shh, darling. You’re almost done, just one more thing and then I can reward you. Shh. I know, I know--” The alarm beeped softly. John kissed Sherlock’s sweat-dampened shoulder and twisted off to reach under the edge of the bed.

“Okay. It’s time. Stay still and breathe.”

John reached under the bed and found the riding crop, targeted one of the clips on Sherlock’s belly, and expertly flicked it off with a twist of his wrist.

Sherlock keened in pain as the blood flooded back to the numb, pinched area.

John flicked off the clips one by one as Sherlock moaned and wept, keeping the patterns and timing random, removing two right in a row then waiting fifteen or twenty seconds for the next, making him unable to predict or deduce where the pain might blossom next.

As Sherlock cried and shook, John really, really hoped the married ones next door were out for the evening.

Finally, the only two clothespins left were the ones clamped to his nipples. John waited a few moments, flicked them off in quick succession. Sherlock screamed like he was being murdered as John dropped the crop and pulled the sobbing man into his arms.

“All done now, it’s finished, you’re all done. Shh.” John fumbled the blindfold from his eyes and reached down between Sherlock’s legs, working the plug loose. Sherlock gasped and shuddered as the slicked glass pulled free from his body.

“Tell me,” John said, kissing his forehead. “Tell me what you need.”

“Oh God,” Sherlock moaned, “please, John, please fuck me.”

John piled pillows against the headboard and leaned himself against them, somewhat awkwardly maneuvering Sherlock’s shuddering body on top of him, bound thighs straddling his legs.

“Lift yourself up, love, just a bit,” he whispered. Sherlock complied as well as he could and John was able to part his cheeks, lining his cock up with his slick, loosened entrance. John gripped his hips and Sherlock sank down onto his shaft, taking him in easily.

“Christ,” John panted. “Look at you, just look at you, marked and helpless, impaled on my cock. Oh, fuck, yes.” He thrust up into the slick heat of Sherlock’s body as Sherlock rolled his hips, meeting him on each stroke, writhing and crying out in shameless lust and need.

“Please, John,” Sherlock begged in broken, strangled gasps. “Please let me come, I’ve been so good, I need it, I need it, oh please--”

John wrapped his hand around Sherlock’s cock and pulled him in time with his thrusts. “Yes, Sherlock. Now. Come for me now.”

Sherlock threw his head back and howled as he came, shuddering as pleasure overtook him, ejaculating with such force that it arced and spattered warm across John’s chest and cheek. The spasms of his body around John’s cock and the hot wetness of Sherlock’s come on his face pushed John over the edge, and his brain exploded in pleasure as he emptied himself deep inside Sherlock’s body, pulsing over and over as he climaxed hard with a desperate cry he barely recognised as his own voice.

Sherlock sagged, boneless, against his chest, spreading the cooling wetness between them. Despite the post-orgasmic aftershocks still shivering through his body, John slipped quickly out of Sherlock and tipped him gently to his side, untying him efficiently, freeing his limbs before the endorphins wore off and painful cramping set in.

Sherlock’s breathing was slowing already, and he seemed halfway to sleep despite being covered in sweat, semen and lube. John kissed his damp, salty temple and Sherlock gave him a sated sigh in return.

“I need to get us cleaned up. Will you be all right for a moment?” Any other time Sherlock would give him a snarky rejoinder about not being mentally handicapped; one-foot-still-in-subspace Sherlock just nodded and closed his eyes. John hurried to the bathroom and fetched dry flannels and a basin of warm water as quick as he could. By the time he returned to the bedroom Sherlock’s breathing was calm and even.

“Don’t fall asleep yet, please, okay?” John murmured, earning a muffled “mmmf” from Sherlock as he lay curled in a fetal position, naked and wrecked and hopelessly beautiful to John’s eyes. He carefully unbuckled the collar from around Sherlock’s pale neck and set it on the night table. “On your back, love,” he murmured, and Sherlock complied wordlessly, allowing John to clean his puffy, tear-stained face with the wet flannel. He checked his arms and wrists carefully for abrasions, then ran the cool cloth over his torso, where the marks were already fading, and between his legs, wiping away the worst of the sweat and stickiness. He quickly did the same for himself, then swept most of the clips and towels scattered about the bed onto the floor. He would clean up tomorrow.

He stood and fetched the coverlet from the side chair and spread it over Sherlock’s immobile form, then spooned himself behind the much longer body and reached behind himself to turn out the light.

John dropped one more kiss into Sherlock’s hair and wrapped his arms around him. Sherlock sighed as he reached back and spanned John’s hip with a large hand, pulling him flush against his back.

They were quiet together for a few minutes. John was almost certain Sherlock had fallen asleep when his deep voice murmured softly in the darkness.

“You’re very good to me, John.”

“I know,” John murmured affectionately. “You’re good to me, too, in your own cracked way.” He kissed the back of Sherlock’s warm neck. “Go to sleep, now.”

Sherlock mumbled in assent, and was breathing deeply and evenly a few minutes later. He would sleep for twelve or fourteen hours, and wake up his usual, slightly mad but weirdly charming self, and clean up the shattered mug without prompting, and peace (or at least their version of it) would reign for a few weeks or maybe even months.

John desperately needed a hot shower and a cup of tea, but he lingered for a bit longer, enjoying his warm armful of sated, sleeping Sherlock Holmes.

They were in this, as in everything, perfect for each other.

Sherlock brought John danger and challenge and madness. John brought Sherlock steadiness, control, and peace.

They were, John thought to himself, the absolute luckiest bastards in the entire world.