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A quick shake to John’s shoulder woke him. He was on his back, on the couch, the spare blanket tangled around his waist. For a moment he remained still, remembering.

“There’s a great deal to be done.” Sherlock, fully dressed, was kneeling on the floor dusting Moriarty’s discarded jacket for prints. “Get up.”

John smiled at the abruptness. Morning after... “I’m sure you’ve got time for a moment’s dalliance.”

“Neither the time nor the inclination. Everything in your room with either blood or semen on it, which is all your bedding and probably a fair number of your clothes, needs to be in the washing machine before I call Lestrade.”

Damn the man’s single mindedness. John reluctantly sat up. “Fine. Unfinished business, though, you and I.”

“Unfinished?” Sherlock didn’t raise his head. “Orgasms were reached. That does traditionally bring things to a close.”

John glanced at the clock. Seven am. He’d had at most three hours sleep, and Sherlock was being awkward.

“Not those particular orgasms, no. Fussy of me, I know but I’m holding out for something that actually involves physical contact with you.”

Sherlock half-shrugged. “It will become difficult to explain delay convincingly to Lestrade. Bedding. Now.”

John sighed, pulled himself to his feet. “Talk about mixed bloody signals,” he grumbled quietly. Then aloud, “Why Lestrade? You’re not going to tell him the truth.”

“I want Moriarty back at the top of his most wanted list. I’ll need his resources. Move.”

When John finished dumping everything in the washing machine, Sherlock had him handle things. The light switch by the stairs, wiped clean, needed several sets of smeared and overlapping prints. The soft leather jacket, cleaned, was to John’s dismay now his.

“I gave it to you last week. You don’t know why; it’s not your style at all. So far you’ve just tried it on and hung it away, so do that.”

“Can’t we just throw it out? Or let Lestrade have it?”

“It was cold in here last night. There’s no good reason for him to have taken it off. And I might need it. Bring your gun down here; I’ll find somewhere a little more effective to conceal it. Even someone as stupid as Anderson might think to look in your sock drawer.”

It was another half hour before Sherlock pronounced himself satisfied with the forensics. “Moriarty woke me, coming up the stairs. You heard voices, came downstairs from your room. He never went near it.”

“Understood.”

“Right. You can ring the Yard, in an excess of civil responsibility. I wouldn’t have bothered.”

Lestrade certainly seemed to take the reappearance of Jim Moriarty seriously. He turned up with Anderson and a couple of assistants within thirty minutes. John watched Sherlock’s display of exasperation at their unnecessary presence with well-concealed amusement.

“No bombs, Inspector. No guns. He broke in, we threw him out. What on earth Anderson thinks he’s going to gain from fingerprinting the kitchen worktop is beyond me. Can’t you buy him a rattle or something, keep him occupied?”

“We’ll need prints from both of you, for elimination purposes.” Lestrade was matter of fact.

Sherlock huffed. “This is a waste of time. He didn’t touch anything in the room. You might get something usable from the front door and the stairwell, if you’re very lucky and he was feeling particularly careless. I would be astonished if you did.”

“Still, prints, please.”

Sherlock gave in with bad grace. John provided a neat set of inked prints, quietly. Lestrade was watching him.

“So you overpowered him and dumped him in the street? Why the hell didn’t you call the police at that point?”

Sherlock had explained about the phone. John shook his head. “Too risky. He’d have known, and he’d have acted. His rules.”

“Did he get hurt?”

Memory flashed, and John pushed it aside. “No. I twisted his arm around behind his back and we pushed him out. That was all.”

“So what did he say? Why had he come?”

John shrugged. “He didn’t say anything to me. Sherlock passed on the threat about the phone.”

“Right.” Lestrade looked entirely unconvinced, was making no effort to hide it. John managed to feel genuinely aggrieved about that. No matter that they were both lying, it would have been nice to think that the Inspector was inclined to believe them, given how much he’d got from Sherlock over the years.

They watched the forensic team working, Sherlock snapping at them whenever they touched anything he considered an experiment. Finally Anderson stood up, addressed Lestrade.

“Done here. I’ll move upstairs.”

“Not relevant.” Sherlock was casually blocking the stairway. “He didn’t go up there.”

“Procedure.”

“Nosiness. You’ve no business in John’s bedroom, Anderson. Unless you’re fishing for an invite up there? I don’t think you’re his type.”

Andersen bristled. Lestrade sighed. “Leave it. Take what you’ve got back to the lab. I’ll take a glance upstairs.” He quirked a brow at John. “If that’s all right?”

John could hardly demur. He led the way, as Sherlock hustled the others downstairs. Lestrade took one look at the stripped mattress and frowned. “Laundry day?”

“Thought I might as well, since we had to wait in for you.”

“Right. You’re pretty cool about all this, aren’t you?”

John shrugged. “It wasn’t particularly traumatic. He didn’t have a gun.”

“Yes. And Sherlock, with his unrivalled experience of crime scenes, didn’t think to stop you washing everything before we got here?”

“It isn’t a crime scene.” Sherlock had come up the stairs behind them. “Bit of breaking and entering is hardly a serious crime anyway, and nothing happened up here.”

John caught the slightest of emphasis on the “nothing”, frowned at Sherlock. Lestrade had caught it too. He glanced between the men, sat down on the bed.

“Bloody hell, John, what do you think we’d do, DNA test the sheets?” He was shaking his head. “Nobody gives a damn.”

John found it hard to believe that anyone would be quite so blase about the night’s events. He didn’t reply.

“I don’t care which bedroom Sherlock came out of last night. You’re both adults and it’s your damn house.”

“The problem with police reports is that the police get to read them.” Sherlock sounded positively bad tempered.

Lestrade stood up again. “OK. I can see that you might not want this all over the section; I’m certainly not going to make you change your statements.” He nodded stiffly at John. “Any breach of your privacy was entirely unintentional and won’t go any further. I’d better be getting back.”

John returned to the living room after showing the inspector out. Glared at a smug Sherlock.

“That was not a nice thing to do.”

“To you or to him?”

“Both. You had that set up from the beginning.”

“Yes.”

“You could have warned me!”

“You’re not that good an actor. As it was your reactions were perfect.”

“And the purpose was?”

“Distraction. Our story had some large gaps. I knew that Lestrade would have unanswered questions. He won’t be asking them now.”

“No.” John collapsed into the armchair. “Damn, Sherlock, I didn’t expect to be keeping this entirely to ourselves, but I thought you could maybe hold off on telling people that we’re shagging at least until we’ve done it.”

He blinked at Sherlock’s uncomfortable expression, came to a late, reluctant conclusion. “We’re not shagging, are we?”

“It’s not something...” Sherlock tailed off.

“Last night.” John hesitated. “Last night was all him, then.”

“You weren’t intended to get the impression that we... It was self indulgent of me.” Sherlock sounded genuinely regretful.

“Christ, Sherlock!” John pulled himself up onto his feet. “Yes. Yes it was.”

He didn’t trust himself to say more. He’d known at the start, he told himself. Wishful thinking, after that, and Sherlock randy enough to fuck anyone. But back to the cold morning and it was “not interested” again. And he couldn’t switch things off like that. Not just like that.

The flat seemed suddenly claustrophobic. Unsafe. He needed to get out.

“I’ll get the shopping.”

“Biscuits. Ginger ones.” Sherlock was reconstituting a disturbed pile of newspapers.

John was still muttering about what Sherlock could do with the effing biscuits as he reached the bottom of the stairs. The doorbell was shockingly loud in the empty hallway. He yanked it open, bad tempered, half expecting Lestrade back with the questions he’d failed to ask earlier.

“Mycroft. Er, hello. Sherlock’s in. I’m just going out...”

The furled umbrella raised itself to the horizontal to thwart his forward momentum, dropped before he could take offence.

“If it wouldn’t be too inconvenient, perhaps you could postpone your errand for a few minutes? I would very much appreciate the opportunity to talk to both yourself and my brother.”

John bit down on his instinct to refuse. He had no quarrel with Mycroft and with Moriarty out there and malevolent they couldn’t afford to alienate their few allies.

“You’d better come up then.”

Sherlock grimaced as his brother entered the living room.

“What do you want?”

“You should get more sleep.” Mycroft perched on the settee. “It would make you better tempered.”

“An improved temper is not high on my Christmas list this year. What will make you leave?”

Mycroft extracted a memory stick from his top pocket. “If one of you would be so kind?”

“Here.” Sherlock plucked it out of his brother’s fingers, pulled John’s laptop across the desk. “Don’t you have that woman for this kind of thing?”

“Not today.” He raised the slightest of eyebrows at John, who realised that no-one would play host if he didn’t.

“Coffee?”

“Tea, please, White. No sugar. I believe there is a teapot in the cupboard to the right of the sink.”

“Coffee.” Sherlock snapped, fingers flicking over the keys. “Shouldn’t government files be encrypted these days?”

“This is more in the nature of a personal offering.”

John dug out the long unused teapot, rinsed it through. He supposed that he ought to warm it as well. Mycroft clearly wasn’t a man for a teabag dunked in a mug. From the other room he heard Sherlock’s annoyed hiss.

“This really is beneath you, Mycroft.”

“Requested and authorised by your friends in New Scotland Yard, eleven weeks ago. I merely keep an eye on it.”

John left the kettle to boil, stuck his head back into the living room to see what Sherlock was objecting to. The screen, tilted towards him by his flat mate, showed their front door and the floor above, lit by the nearby street light. The label read 02:13, today’s date.

“Shit,” John said, succinctly. “Lestrade’s got this?”

“The Inspector will have discovered by now that the surveillance camera malfunctioned last night. He will, no doubt, blame your guest.”

Mycroft’s voice was still calm. “Perhaps you might forward the video a little, Sherlock? Two thirty seven is I believe the first point of any significance.”

Sherlock paused the screen. “How, dear brother, is that going to be illuminating? You have watched this. We hardly need to. Can we move on to whatever will make you go away?”

“I want to see it.” John was pleased at the steadiness of his voice. “I’d like to know exactly what it shows.”

Mycroft smiled at him approvingly. Sherlock sighed, started the recording again.

2:37 Jim Moriarty walks confidently up to the door of 221B, slides a key into the lock and opens it. The footage is better than your average CCTV; even from the side, then back, he is clearly recognisable. The tailored leather jacket fits loose over his shoulders, snug over his hips.

The door closes behind him. Nothing happens.

The kettle boiled and John made the drinks. He and Sherlock stood in front of the desk with their coffee mugs, watching the minutes tick by on the screen. Mycroft sipped his tea on the couch. No-one spoke.

2:49 The light goes on in the first floor. Nothing can be seen through the curtains.

There was a long, long wait as the minutes ticked over. Mycroft did not suggest fast forwarding. He had, John thought, the family sense of the dramatic.

3:23 The hall light comes on. A few seconds later the door opens; Sherlock and John manoeuvre the limp man between them through the doorway. They swing him back, then forward and release him. He goes down hard, on his face.

John repressed an automatic wince.

The door shuts.

For a full minute the figure doesn’t move. Then he slowly pushes himself up onto his knees. Another pause, then he uses the wall for help as he staggers to his feet, pulls the clothing round his knees up to his waist and fumbles with his belt for some time.

He spreads his palms out under the street light; even from the distance, the camera picks up the darkness of bloody lacerations on his right. Arms bare, he shivers noticeably as he pulls the phone from his pocket with his uninjured hand, talks into it, still leaning against the wall. When he does start walking it is more of a stumble as he moves slowly out of view of the camera.

“I suppose you didn’t find out anything useful, like where he went.” Sherlock’s voice was aggressively unapologetic.

“No.”

John felt that he ought to feel something about Moriarty; satisfaction, guilt, something. He didn’t. Instead he remembered how Sherlock had looked, watching Moriarty and himself on top. How Sherlock had straddled the man’s neck to kiss him. Sherlock had wanted him, then; not just any warm body in Moriarty’s shadow but him. Could therefore do so again.

But Sherlock was cool, not easily stirred to desire. He had to figure out how.

“Have we lost you, John?” Mycroft enquired politely.

“My brother is awaiting an appropriate show of contrition, I believe.” Sherlock was amused. “Everyone seems to underestimate you.’

And damn, but that was a hint of last night’s smile. Sherlock liked that idea. He didn’t want John nice. Ordinary. Well behaved. John smiled back at him briefly, just letting him know, on the remote chance that he hadn’t already figured it out, that he was fine with that.

Mycroft’s umbrella tapped twice on the leg of the couch.

“I am,” he announced calmly, “concerned.”

“I really don’t care.” Sherlock pocketed the memory stick.

“Hmm.” Mycroft placed his mug carefully on the nearest table, spoke to John.

“I am somewhat disappointed. I was hoping that you were exerting a positive influence on my brother. I recognise that you are unlikely to welcome being told that he is not an entirely positive influence on you. Nonetheless.”

“You’re right.” John straightened his back. “I don’t welcome it. And believe me, Moriarty doesn’t deserve your protection.”

Mycroft waved a hand in dismissal of that reasoning. “I object to bear baiting not because it gives pain to the bear but because it gives pleasure to the spectators.”

Sherlock snorted his derision. “Seventeenth century puritanism hardly constitutes a compelling argument. Do you have anything worthwhile to say at all? We are both are busy.”

“Very well.” Mycroft rise to his feet gracefully, spoke to John directly again. “I told you at our first meeting that I worried about my brother. You may now have some better understanding of my reasons.

“You are in no mood to be argued with. But I would request that when you reflect on this conversation you ask yourself, and him, one question. Why is nobody dead today?”

He twirled his umbrella, pulled himself up even straighter. “Thank you for the tea. Shall I see myself out?”

John was unimpressed. No, annoyed. Mycroft knew nothing, save what he’d seen on that tape. Of course Sherlock was dangerous, to the wrong people. So was he. This unspoken assumption that he was blindly following when he should be patiently shepherding- he made a decision, spoke to Sherlock.

“Moriarty will have the house watched, I presume.”

“Doubtless.”

“Good.” Civilly to Mycroft. “One moment, and I’ll come down with you. I still have the shopping to do.”

He took the stairs up to his room two and three at a time. Time to show everyone that he wasn’t a passenger on this particular ride.

Sherlock’s slow smile as he walked back into the living room was approval. Mycroft’s pursed lips were most definitely not. Two out of two, then.

John squared his shoulders as he opened the front door, acutely conscious of the third, assumed observer. He’d thought it would be tight over the shoulders but in fact it wasn’t a bad fit at all. Not his style, maybe, but he was tired of everyone thinking that they knew him. Dull, Moriarty had said. And Mycroft had neatly classified him as a good influence. Hell with both of them. Sherlock had smiled.

The text came through as John was loading the conveyor belt at Tesco’s. He patted the unfamiliar pockets for a moment, retrieved the phone.

Come home now. SH.

The woman in front of him was hunting in her bag for her purse. He tapped at the screen.

15 min.

The reply was almost instantaneous.

Now.

For all John knew, abandoning your shopping at the till would cause a bomb alert. One minute, he reckoned, smiled briefly at the cashier as he started to pack bags. Sometimes urgent with Sherlock was life and death. Mostly it was impatience. He hoped it was the latter, but he flagged down a taxi for the half mile home anyway.

Shopping got dumped, quietly, at the foot of the stairs. He could hear nothing from above. Slowly, carefully up the stairs. Sherlock was curled up on the couch, eyes closed.

“Is everything all right?”

“Yes.” Sherlock uncurled himself, stood up. “You were slow.”

“Slow and with shopping. Ginger biscuits.”

“Never mind biscuits.” Sherlock was close. Hands gripped his shoulders and he let himself get backed up against the high bookcase. Hot-and-cold was hot again, it seemed. Better than fine; he lifted his chin up to Sherlock, slid his palms flat against the man’s rear, tugging him closer still. Sherlock kissed him briefly, tongue flickering, then dipped his head further to mouth his neck. The lines of the shelves dug harder into his back as Sherlock pushed forward, hands tight on his upper arms. John tried pushing back, grinding himself in a rhythm against the hardness at the other man’s groin. His thoughts were blurring fast into little more than ‘want’ and ‘yes’ and he could hear his breathing faster and louder. Sherlock’s mouth was all teeth, his face nuzzling insistently into the leather at John’s neck.

Fuck. John’s hands clamped hard on Sherlock’s hips, pushed him back and away. Came up to slam his palms into Sherlock’s chest with the same result. Sherlock took a further pace back, scowled at him,

“What?”

“Does it still smell like him? Is that what this is about?”

“Him and you both.” Sherlock’s voice was cooler. “Problem?”

It damn well wasn’t going to be. John shrugged the jacket off and over a chair, pulled his jumper over his head and unbuttoned his shirt. Sherlock had taken a third step back. Watching.

When he stood again after taking off his shoes and started unbuckling his belt he could hear Sherlock’s breath turn harsher. By the time he was completely naked he was pretty sure that he had the man’s full attention. Him, not bloody Moriarty.

“Now,” he growled, “we’ll try the sodding jacket.” He swept the black leather up again, put it on, sank his hands deep in the pockets and tried a scowl of his own.

As the silence lengthened, and Sherlock said nothing, did nothing, he thought he’d overdone it. He must, after all, look bloody ridiculous. But as he started to wonder how he could possibly retrieve the situation Sherlock finally moved, in a direction that he had in no way anticipated.

John’s hands clenched inside the jacket pockets and for a few moments he tried to just let himself feel. Nothing teasing about Sherlock on his knees; the assault on his cock was direct, an hand under his balls, the other tight around a fistful of leather from the hem of the jacket. But John couldn’t help thinking about what was happening and he wasn’t sure that he liked this.

Not this, obviously, because he was only human and Sherlock knew exactly what he was doing and no question but that he was going to come extremely hard very very shortly.

But Sherlock had pushed him about the bloody jacket and he’d pushed back hard because between the other two he was at serious risk of getting crushed, and because he was getting the strong impression that Sherlock liked him showing his teeth occasionally. And that was all it was meant to be; just a “deal with me, Sherlock.” Not “on your knees.” Not, God help him, claiming the lead. Surely Sherlock, of all people, couldn’t have misread him like this.

No time to do anything about it right now, because his thoughts were breaking up under Sherlock’s mouth and hand and he wasn’t actually in charge at all, not of anything but possibly standing up and probably not that for long. Sherlock hadn’t paused for a second, didn’t pause now, pulling him over the brink of climax, pulling everything out of him, so that he had not choice but to grab the back of the chair to keep himself upright, gasping swearwords as his body spasmed.

By the time he opened his eyes again, Sherlock was back on his feet, waiting. That was the time to say “Thank you, that was amazing” or something of the sort. But he was tired and emotional and he really couldn’t handle what he was terrified might be Sherlock’s expectations, so what he actually said was “You’re not pulling some sub crap on me, are you?”

Sherlock laughed rather louder than John felt was really necessary. “How should I know!” he protested. “You’re being crazy about all of this; me, him, the bloody jacket.”

Sherlock didn’t looked any less amused. “Yes.”

“Ok, then. Don’t be surprised if I don’t always follow what’s going on. One of us is not a genius, remember.”

“I’m hardly likely to forget that, John. You do provide me with plenty of reminders.” He stepped closer, voice lowering. “You’ll hold your corner against any of us, John. Mycroft. Moriarty. Me. It’s an admirable trait. But dominate others- no. Not on your own, anyway. You and me together; that’s different. That’s why they’re so nervous.”

Before John had time to fully consider that statement, slim hands were sliding across his chest, under the leather, digging into the tender flesh round his nipples.

“Right now, you’re going to let me take charge.”

John took a breath. He might be sated but Sherlock was not. Sherlock was getting whatever he wanted, after that.

“Yes. Yes I am.”

“Upstairs, then.”

Sherlock clearly knew what he wanted. The free standing mirror moved across to one side of the bed. John, who had tried a kiss or two, was firmly told to sit down and wait. He sat on the end of his bare mattress and watched Sherlock undoing his shirt. Remembered something.

“No-one’s dead,” he said.

“No.” Sherlock unbuttoned his cuffs.

“Do I need to ask you why?”

“You can probably work it out.”

Something to do, while he waited.

“Right. Moriarty’s not dead because he set up protection.”

“Yes.”

“We’re not dead because he didn’t want to kill us. I wouldn’t have given much for our chances if he’d brought a gun. Or company.”

“Yes.” Sherlock tugged the shirt off and John contemplated the muscles under that smooth skin. He’d been told to sit and wait.

“Everyone else... he could have killed people, to punish us. He didn’t.”

“No.” The sound of the belt sliding through the hooks, dropping to the floor. John was getting a little excited again.

“So. He’s too proud to admit that we beat him.”

“Wrong. He’d kill for the smallest slight.”

Sherlock was tugging down his trousers and John was halfway up from the bed.

“Sit down, John. A little patience.”

“OK.” John tried to concentrate on the conversation. It had become a deal more difficult.

“Maybe he wasn’t annoyed by what happened, then.”

“Exactly.”

“So he’s a masochist then? He liked being humiliated and hurt.”

Sherlock tutted at him. “Jim Moriarty? Completely wrong. He found the violence stimulating, but that’s not the answer.”

He was naked now, was setting out a tube of lubricant, top removed, a condom wrapper on the bed. John found that his breathing had quickened.

“Over here, facing the mirror. Elbows on the bed. That will do.”

John couldn’t help but notice that he’d been carefully positioned in precisely the place along the edge of the bed where he’d pinioned Moriarty last night. He decided not to care.

Sherlock was watching him in the mirror now. “Come on, John. Don’t get distracted.”

“You’re a little distracting.”

“Focus.”

A lubricated finger found him, and he gasped. “Why would he like losing?”

“He wouldn’t.” Sherlock was smooth, delicate. Then he wasn’t.

“Ouch! I give up. Tell me.”

“You’re not reasoning logically. Think. And don’t be a baby. That didn’t hurt.”

“I don’t like you very much,” John muttered. And louder. “I suppose he thought that he’d won, then.”

“Yes.” Whatever Sherlock did with his fingers at that point met with John’s approval. He damn well hoped it wasn’t intended as a reward for not being totally stupid.

“Come on. I’m not going to do anything more till you’ve got the answer.”

Bastard. He tried to think. It was extremely difficult.

“What could he possibly have won? We were pretty brutal...” he stopped. “You‘re meant to be the good guy. He’s trying to take you over to the dark side.”

“That’s a little allegorical for you, John.”

“Cultural reference. You wouldn’t get it. That’s it, though, isn’t it? He thinks he was corrupting you. And Mycroft thinks that too.”

He’d either got the right answer or Sherlock had got bored waiting, because things started happening again. There was a short period during which Sherlock was quite intensely interested in finding out just how accommodating his flatmate was prepared to be, and John was mainly interested in letting his flatmate have the benefit of a great number of interesting curses that he’d picked up while soldiering while not actually outright telling him to stop.

“Take a minute.” Sherlock disengaged. “Get your heart-rate down.” He sounded a little ragged, himself. “Don’t move,” and he was off to the bathroom.

John stood up to ease his back, stretched. They should at least have put a sheet on the mattress.

“That’s not still,” Sherlock called through. John could hear the tap running.

“Don’t push it,” he called back, found something to put on the bed, sat down on it, carefully. He considered himself co-operating, not obedient. His heart rate wasn’t dropping much. Not surprising; the condom packet was still there.

“How long?” Sherlock was back with clean hands and a filthy grin. “Two years?”

“Over three.”

“Really? Despite that appalling fuss, you don’t seem too out of practice.”

John was still considering his response to that, and to being tugged back impatiently into position, when Sherlock neatly ripped open the condom wrapper and he decided conversation could wait.

When he registered the sound of a text to Sherlock’s phone he naturally assumed that Sherlock would leave it, being, as the man was, about as otherwise occupied as someone could possibly get.

But no, it turned out that Sherlock still had a hand free, and the phone was a short reach away. Sherlock glanced at the text, looked up and contemplated him in the mirror, lifted the phone, and...

“Did you just take a... Oh, God, did you just text a photo of us, Sherlock? You did, didn’t you!”

“Don’t worry. You looked great. All flustered and mussed up. It suits you.”

Sherlock was giving him that smile again in the mirror, moving against him teasingly, one hand sliding everywhere over his back, up under the jacket he’d forgotten that he was still wearing...

“Moriarty! You sent it to him!”

Sherlock bent forward, warm across his back, to show him the screen. A text;

Have you fucked him in it yet?

“Rude not to respond.” Sherlock pulled back again, nudged his thighs a little further apart and started to move slowly forwards and in.

Before John recovered enough to say anything the phone rang again.

And rang. A call this time. Sherlock dropped it on John’s back, stabbed at a button. Didn’t stop moving. Familiar voice on speakerphone.

“Oh, Sherlock. I’m flattered. A little roleplay, all about me. Tell me, is there anything he won’t do if you tell him to?”

“Not enough data yet.” Sherlock was smiling at John.

“And you’re fucking him right now. You could let me have a video feed, you know. So much better than sound.”

“Use your imagination.”

“Pleeeeease?”

“What makes you think you deserve it?” Sherlock raised a finger at John. Hush. Don’t protest.

“Do you have any idea how much that jacket cost?” John could hear the pout. “You gave it to your pet, and now he’s getting it filthy. Give me video, and I’ll let you keep it.”

“The jacket?”

“The pet.”

God, now they were playing at a double act. Moriarty was threatening to kill him, and Sherlock was hard inside him and John wanted to hit someone.

“That was naughty, Jim. Time out.” Sherlock pressed a key. “Mute,” he told John.

“Turn the damn thing off!”

Sherlock was watching himself in the mirror now, eyes wide, breathing fast, didn’t answer. And what he was doing felt so damn good, nails sliding across John’s spine. John ought to bloody well insist. This should be just him and Sherlock.

Except that maybe there wasn’t any him and Sherlock. Not without Moriarty. Sherlock must have caught his expression.

“You and me. And him. It’s not a triangle, John. It’s lines of battle, and without him there’s no fight.”

He was starting to pant. “Here.”

The phone dropped onto the mattress. “Mute’s second button down, right. He’s hooked. Play him or kill it, I don’t care.”

“Liar,” John said, unsteadily. “You want me to play.”

Sherlock’s grin was all the response he needed.

So here he was over on the bed, on his elbows, with the phone brushing against his hand. and Sherlock shagging him from behind as unselfconscious as if they’d been at it for months. And Moriarty, hooked. He waited a moment for inspiration, flicked the button off.

“Still there, Jim?”

Silence.

“Three, two, one.” He pressed mute again. Arched his back against Sherlock’s movements for a few thrusts.

Again.

“Still there, Jim?”

“Give the phone back to Daddy now. The grown-ups want to talk.”

“Three, two, one.” Off.

God, Sherlock looked good in the mirror, dark-eyed and open mouthed. John left it a little longer this time.

“Still there, Jim?”

“Bitch.”

That would do. He was getting to be an expert on getting them to deal with him, he thought. Though “them” wasn’t fair. Moriarty was a monster. Sherlock was just Sherlock.

He’d thought he’d heard a slight slurring in the voice. “Bleeding stopped yet? I hope you’re not drinking alcohol with those painkillers.”

“You’re still dull, Doctor Watson. Even in my clothes.”

Sherlock laughed at that one. His grip around John’s hips was noticeably tighter. Not long now. John dropped subtlety. He wasn’t going to win wordgames.

“Next time we’ll keep all your clothes to play with, Jim. We’ll have our fun and then dump you naked and bloody in the Soho back streets, without the phone. Now sod off. We’re busy.”

He hung up, grinned at Sherlock.

“Yes, we are.” And Sherlock must have been holding back until that point, because everything got a bit out of control.

 

John was still flat out on the bed when the doorbell rang.

“Who the hell?”

“Lestrade.” Sherlock was heading towards the bathroom. “Answer it.’

Sure. Stinking of sweat and sex. Damn. John pulled some clean clothes on, ran his hands through his hair and headed downstairs, stopping to splash water on his face from the tap in the kitchen and scrub it dry with a random teatowel.

“Inspector. Come in.”

“Want help with those?”

Oh God, the shopping bags, still where he’d dumped them. “Er, yes. Thanks.”

Halfway up the stairs he remembered that his clothes must still be strewn over the living room floor. This was turning into a farce. No wonder Sherlock had disappeared.

“The place is a mess,” he warned.

“I was here a couple of hours ago.” Lestrade reminded him. “How much worse can it have got?”

“Quite a bit, actually. Do you want to put some of that stuff away in the fridge while I...” He managed to manoeuvre Lestrade directly into the kitchen, opened the fridge door and dashed out.

It didn’t work, of course. Lestrade naturally stood up to watch him. There was a rather choked noise and the head ducked down again. Oh well. He bundled the clothes behind the desk anyway, rejoined the expressionless inspector.

“Thought you were both coffee drinkers.” Lestrade gestured at the teapot.

“That.” For a moment John couldn’t remember where in the morning the teapot had come in. “Oh, Mycroft! Sherlock’s brother came by.”

“I’ve met him, yes.” Lestrade finished with the shopping. “About Moriarty?”

I think,”John said pointedly, “he was just being nosy. Lot of it about.”

“Yes.” Lestrade sounded unabashed. “There would be. That’s moreorless why I’m here.”

“Nosiness?”

“Other people’s reactions. You’re not going to like this but I would strongly recommend that you move out of here.”

John glanced round the room. Their room. “I don’t think Sherlock’s going to be persuaded to go anywhere. We’ll be OK.”

“I didn’t mean you and Sherlock. I meant you.” He looked tired. “I’ve been reading the psych files on Moriarty this morning. He’s unstable and obsessed with Sherlock and there’s every chance that he’s murderously jealous.”

“Psych reports. Waste of paper.” Sherlock walked in from upstairs, tying his dressing gown cord, hair wet against his neck.

“So tell me how they’re wrong, Sherlock.”

“They’re not wrong. They’re just obvious and superficial.”

“They suggest- no, they pretty much guarantee that he’ll try to kill John. What are you going to do to protect him, Sherlock? What can you do?” He was glaring at Sherlock now. “How the hell...I know he was threatening stuff but how could you possibly let him go last night? You must have known.”

“He’s always intended to kill John.” Sherlock sounded dismissive. “Jealousy just accelerated the timetable.”

Sick and hollow. Always intended. This wasn’t like battle. This was going to sleep not knowing if you’d wake up again. Lestrade was watching him, sympathetic, spoke to Sherlock.

“We need to get him out of here.”

“No need. I’ve fixed it.”

Sherlock looked moderately surprised at their expressions. “I was hardly likely to let him kill John, was I?”

“What have you done?”

“It’s a little complicated. But in crude terms, I’ve expanded Moriarty’s perception of me as an opponent to include John as well.”

“So he thinks John’s his enemy too?”

“No.” Sherlock waved an irritated hand. “That’s not it at all. He doesn’t have a separate perception of John, just of both of us. It’s been quite difficult. I doubt that anyone else could have done it so well. ”

“I’ll take your word for that.” Lestrade sounded dubious. “What does it mean in practice? That John’s safe?”

“He’s not safe.” Sherlock was scathing. “Neither of us are. But Moriarty doesn’t regard him as disposable. He won’t kill him just to annoy me.” He scowled at Lestrade. “If you had any idea what I was talking about you’d be incredibly impressed.”

“Do I want to know how you performed this minor miracle, then?”

“No.” Sherlock glanced over to John. “No-one’s going to be bringing any charges.”

Lestrade looked between them both, sighed. “Any time you want to keep me filled in about any of this, feel free. We didn’t get any useful prints- I don’t suppose...”

“All ten. Phone number as well; text and voice. And you can do some dog work for me on tailors too. Leather jacket, custom made. I’ll drop the lot by in a couple of hours.”

Lestrade nodded. “If you change your mind, John, we’ll help.”

“Thanks, but I’m pretty settled here.” He gestured around the room.

“I can see that. Don’t forget your sheets are still in the machine.” Lestrade managed a smile. “See you both later then.”

Alone again, John stood and looked at Sherlock. He was burnt out of anger today, couldn’t manage more than annoyance.

“Please don’t pretend that this was some sort of master plan of yours from the start.”

“No,” Sherlock ran a hand through his wet hair. “Much of it has been reaction. I used what was to hand. You in that jacket; I hadn’t anticipated that to flush him out so soon.” He flashed a smile. “Or the strength of my own reaction.”

John sank down into the armchair, carefully. Him and that jacket. “Just me isn’t going to be enough, is it?”

“It’s not as simple as most people seem to find it.” Sherlock was brusque. Irritation, or embarrassment.

John lowered his voice, deliberate calm response. “I had noticed that much, Sherlock. But I would appreciate an answer, if possible.”

Sherlock tugged his hand through his drying curls again, gave him a frustrated look.

“You’re quiet, John!”

“Quiet? Dull? Boring?”

“No. Tough and resourceful, and I’d back you to come out fighting against any of them.” His grin was quick, gone. “You and I, John, could probably take on just about anything. But you’re quiet! You have this little cloud of calm floating around you, most of the time. It’s quite remarkable.”

“But not attractive. You’re saying we have no chemistry.”

Sherlock stared at him. “No chemistry! Have you been awake for any of the last twelve hours? You and I could burn half of London down. But it’s a catalytic reaction. Without the catalyst you’re quiet,” he raised an eyebrow at John, “and I’m inert.”

John considered this particular analogy. Oddly enough, he could see where Sherlock was coming from. A bit.

“I’m not at all sure that I like the idea that keeping Jim Moriarty around is a prerequisite for me getting any. Couldn’t I just yell at you about the housework instead? I can get quite loud.”

Sherlock smiled at him sunnily. “When we’re done with Moriarty there’s plenty more trouble out there. We can go catalyst-hunting some time. Get our hands dirty.”

“Hide the bodies?” John was only half joking.

“Naturally. We don’t want Lestrade getting concerned.”

“Or your brother.” John stopped laughing. “This is what he was worried about.”

Sherlock shrugged. “I said that I didn’t care.”

No-one was dead. Moriarty was pleased. Mycroft was worried. John was not a damn sheepdog. He might be quiet but he was not dull.

“Fine. We don’t care.”

John resisted the temptation to get up and kiss Sherlock. He’d only be rebuffed. There would be other days, other catalysts. Right now he was guessing Sherlock had more interest in biscuits than in him.

“Considerably more. With coffee.”

John put the kettle on.