John Watson was not, in fact, a complete idiot. No matter what Sherlock said.
Their first “date” at Angelo’s had included a nearly twenty-minute rant from Sherlock about the uselessness of secondary gender, the utter tedium of society’s harping on it all the time, and how John had better not expect Sherlock to do any caring and nurturing just because he was an omega. Also that if John valued his knot he’d know not to go hoping to get it anywhere near Sherlock’s arse. John hadn’t actually intended to flirt with his potential new flatmate, so it hadn’t been too difficult to shrug it off. They’d put it behind them, John shot a cabbie, and the flatshare thing looked like it might work after all.
What Sherlock hadn’t mentioned, though, was how annoying it would be to live with an omega who fought his secondary gender so spitefully. It wasn’t the dark ages anymore: gender (primary or secondary) wasn’t supposed to determine eligibility for employment or ownership of property. Omegas did still tend to go into more nurturing careers, but those roles usually coincided with pregnancy-friendly workplaces. Sherlock was unusual but by no means extraordinary by taking suppressants and blending in with the rest of the betas in the real world.
That didn’t stop him from being a right twat, though.
John leaned back in his chair and watched Sherlock make a fifth circuit of their sitting room, seemingly touching and putting back things at random. It didn’t take an alpha’s sense of smell to tell that Sherlock was nearing his heat. Hell, anyone could have guessed it even if they didn’t know Sherlock: the urge to nest wasn’t exactly uncommon in omegas. It was the reliable punchline in half a dozen sitcoms. The omega would obsess about everything having the exact right smell, the alpha would prowl around the perimeter of their territory and growl at people, and inevitably the pair would tackle each other into the bedroom to the accompaniment of a laugh track and some cheesy kissing noises.
Kissing, John decided, would have made Sherlock’s tetchiness slightly more bearable.
“Stop your puerile cogitation,” Sherlock grumbled. “It’s putting me off.”
“No it’s not.” John smiled placidly up at his stroppy flatmate. “Nearly a year of this and you think I don’t know what’s coming? You’re right on schedule: moodiness first, then insults, then the pacing around, then snapping at me for not having the misfortune of sharing your secondary gender. Not that me being an omega would help either, you realize--you’d be just as grumpy, except then you’d also grouse at me for my heats inconveniencing you too.”
Sherlock snorted and resumed pacing. “You’d stop stinking up the flat, at least.”
“Says the man shedding pheromones like dandruff.”
That didn’t even merit a superior sniff, apparently.
“Sherlock,” John said seriously, “you’re going to have to use your words here because god only knows your body language isn’t helping much right now. Do you truly want me to leave, or is this you just being a bitchy hormonal omega and hating every second of it?”
Okay then. Sherlock only resorted to profanity when he was too frustrated to express himself more eloquently. That meant the answer was option C: Sherlock liked having John around but didn’t want to admit it and was going to be extra-pissy as a result. Screw that. “Noted,” John said aloud. “I’m off to Tesco’s. Shall I get some of those granola bars you like, or do you plan to live on Hobnobs for the next week?”
“If you must. But only the almond ones.”
“Yes, your majesty.” John sketched a mock bow and escaped out the door before Sherlock thought of any less savory items to demand.
The thing was, suppressants were definitely not all created equal. John had to concede that Sherlock was right about the unfairness of that. John’s alpha suppressant was a tiny green pill he took once a week, although missing a day or two didn’t make that huge a difference. It combined birth control and hormonal regulation in one 50p package, he could pick it up at any chemist’s or petrol station, and it all but made his ruts disappear. He could still appreciate the smell of Sherlock approaching heat, of course, but in Afghanistan he’d gone ages without even having to think about his secondary gender because they were all too busy not getting killed.
Omega suppressants, in contrast, were a pain in the arse. Birth control was either gigantic pills or monthly injections for ten times the price. Sherlock chose the injections, of course, because he couldn’t even be bothered to eat daily. Missing more than one pill was enough to render them significantly less effective, and for all that Sherlock was an idiot sometimes he wasn’t that much of an idiot. At least Sarah had been kind enough to write an open-ended script so John could do Sherlock’s shots at home. It saved him the indignity of a monthly clinic visit.
That still left the hormonal suppressants themselves, though. Sherlock’s irregular “transport” maintenance meant he inevitably missed a few of those. The results were heats: random, unpredictable except for the mood swings and general griping leading up to them, and something Sherlock complained about without fail until the next time he forgot his pill and triggered the whole thing again.
John did find the almond granola bars. He also picked up milk and bananas and dark chocolate Hobnobs and Sherlock’s next round of medication for after the heat was over. If there was easy-to-eat food stocked in the flat and John just happened to leave it somewhere accessible, sometimes it disappeared overnight. John put the milk away in the fridge and ran upstairs to put away the lube he’d undoubtedly need to survive three days of lonely wanking. Sherlock knew, surely, but he’d never said--
Oh. Interesting. John may not have had Sherlock’s powers of observation, but he couldn’t fail to notice that the level of dirty laundry in his hamper was lower than it had been that morning. Either Sherlock suddenly took up doing the washing or he’d pilfered some of John’s jumpers.
A good dig through the hamper confirmed it: every single one, gone. The git had left John his pants, thank goodness. He didn’t relish the conversation he’d have to instigate to get those back. The jumpers made him wonder, though...
The shower was still going when John came back downstairs, as it had been from the moment he got back from the store. Ridiculously long showers were another pre-heat signifier. Courtesy said John should go hide until Sherlock was safely locked in his bedroom, but Sherlock and courtesy were rarely on speaking terms. John nudged Sherlock’s door open and peeked inside.
Usually Sherlock’s bed was the calm in the eye of the storm. Possibly because Sherlock considered it solely his territory, more likely because it was rarely used. Today, though, the duvet covered a suspiciously lumpy bundle in the middle of the mattress. John flipped it up to peek and Christ. ALL his jumpers, all in a pile, a Sherlock-sized divot in the middle.
So the git does nest. Sherlock had vehemently denied it, the one time John had dared ask. Back when they’d first moved in together and were feeling each other out around the edges. So much for being better than the stereotype.
John whirled around and froze. Sometime between the invading Sherlock’s privacy and the standing there like an idiot, Sherlock had finished his shower without John noticing. He stood there, dark curls dripping water onto his pale shoulders, the towel around his waist not doing a damn thing to hide the flush that was spreading over his entire face and neck. John blinked and stared. “Um.”
Shit. “Sorry,” John said automatically. “I was… jumpers. Gone.”
Sherlock reddened further, if that were possible. “I’d hoped you wouldn’t mind.”
“I don’t.” God, how could he? “I just. Nest?”
“They smelled like you.”
If the breathtaking smell of Sherlock’s pheromones hadn’t been enough to make John weak at the knees before, that confession might well have done the trick. John licked his lips and tried his hardest to remember that this was Sherlock and Sherlock doesn’t do this. Omega, sure, heats, when necessary, but other people… not his area. Especially when it came to sex.
“That’s… that’s fine. Good.” John closed his eyes and forced himself to turn away from the tantalizing sight of a single water droplet making its way diagonally down Sherlock’s collarbone and into his suprasternal notch. With his alpha suppressants he couldn’t smell the slick Sherlock’s body was sure to be producing by now, this close to his heat, but that didn’t stop his traitorous brain from imagining it and getting him the rest of the way to hard pretty much instantaneously. John tore himself away from that train of thought and backed toward the door to the hallway. “I just. Checking.”
Sherlock rumbled a low affirmation. “Thoughtful alpha,” he murmured. “Checking on your omega’s comfort.”
“My--” John froze. “Sherlock?”
“John.” Sherlock stalked toward him, stopping when he was only a breath away. John stopped trying not to look and focused instead on Sherlock’s sternum. Christ, the heat he was giving off…
John lost the battle. He met Sherlock’s gaze. Sherlock didn’t look amused, though--he had his deducing face on.
“Your omega, John,” Sherlock murmured. “You like hearing that?”
“Any alpha would,” John sputtered. “I just… you don’t…”
“Because it’s true. I am yours. And you’re my alpha. Strong, brave…” Sherlock bit his lip, and the sight made John's legs nearly give out. “You’ll see me through my heat and cover me entirely with your scent and bite me hard so there will be no question about it.” He leaned forward--swayed, more like--and brushed his towel-clad hips against John’s.
John whirled and fled to his room.
He doesn’t really want that, he chided himself. It’s just the heat talking. Even though Sherlock had already gone through three heats since John moved in and never seemed to have a problem locking himself away in his bedroom before. John had stayed with Harry for the first one, Sarah for the second, and wanked himself half-blind in his own bed for the most recent. With his window open and the door shut and a spare blanket wadded up against it so Sherlock’s delicious aroma seeped through as little as possible. Not that he’d needed it--just the hint of pheromones and the thought of Sherlock writhing naked on an uncaring piece of silicone had been enough to make John compulsively wear out his wrist and use up most of a pump-top bottle of lube because he couldn’t always be bothered to stop long enough to open a proper two-handed twist cap. Sherlock had signaled the end of his heat by melting a plastic cutting board onto the hob and summoning the fire department for the third time in three weeks. They hadn’t been impressed, but the singed smell did wonders to clear out the lingering heat scents.
“John.” The voice came from right outside his bedroom door.
“I know you didn’t mean it,” John called out in response. “Sherlock, just go back downstairs and see yourself through. It’s okay.”
“I did mean it, though.” A dull thud, as of Sherlock’s body leaning against the door, but he didn’t turn the handle. “You don’t believe me.”
“When you’re nearly nude and probably only minutes from going into your heat proper? No, Sherlock, I don’t. But go curl up in your nest before you drip on the floor and inadvertently give me a hard-on every time I go down my own stairs. Please.”
Sherlock groaned. It sounded something like “Dull.” The door thumped again, louder. Probably him banging his head on it. “I will,” he finally said, “but please look under your bedside lamp. And then I’ll leave it up to you.”
Petulant footsteps retreating.
John lifted his lamp--not somewhere he’d normally check--and sitting there was a small folded slip of paper.
John, it read:
If you are reading this, it is undoubtedly because you have proved me right and are attempting to be noble against all evidence suggesting it isn’t needed. I presume I have finally propositioned you and you’ve deluded yourself into believing I’m not currently capable of consent, by virtue of my heat or some other reason. Let me make it plain: I, Sherlock Holmes, being of sound mind and body, hereby do invite Captain John H. Watson into my bed for the purposes of a ludicrous amount of sodomy and exchange of bodily fluids. I also invite him into my life in the role of bondmate and permanent partner, if he so wishes. In all uses of the word.
John, get your arse downstairs to me.
John dropped the note and flew down the stairs after his impossible, prescient, ridiculous soon-to-be husband.
They had a nest to christen, and lot of sodomy to catch up on.