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A Snap Decision

Chapter Text

John sniffed the air.

He stopped dead in his tracks. John felt his brain detach from his body as he sniffed again.

He’d had a song stuck in his head all morning – “The hustle!”. The upbeat disco echoed loudly now…

John was moving towards the scent, moving fast to the beat of the music, before he even registered what he had smelled. Rationally, John knew he shouldn’t – he was due at hospital for a long shift following Dr. Mahon around the morgue. This rotation didn’t have a patch on the emergency surgery rotation last quarter, but John was going to be a surgeon, so that was natural. The morgue was quite interesting in its own way.

“Do the hustle!”

But rationality had nothing to do with what was happening now. This was pure base instinct, the kind they rigorously taught people like John to control in sex ed class.

John had never lost his control before. He’d never come close. Sure, certain people smelled wonderful. John was absolutely interested, incredibly turned on. But scent wasn’t everything – John refused to be in thrall to his biology.

“Do the hustle!”

He’d always dated petite Beta females. He preferred them aesthetically.

But this… this wasn’t just a sweet-honey scent he couldn’t help but desire. This was overwhelming. John was drowning in honey, he was saturated with it. And he had to have more.

His instincts were screaming that he must have this scent.

“Do the hustle!”

“Call the police!” John shouted at a pair of confused bystanders as he ran past. “Call them now! It’s an emergency!” He hoped they’d do it but didn’t stop to ensure it. He was sprinting full out now, unable to stop himself.

John had been close, only three people had beat him to the prize. But more were following at his heels.

“Do the hustle!”

It was going to be a bloodbath.

 

---

 

The first to scent him had been a stocky, blonde female.

Sherlock had seen her face and known that the suppressant he’d used was failing.

It wasn’t fair! He was a block from his destination, one block from safety!

Worse, he could feel his traitorous body responding to her. He had never loathed his biology as much as he did in that moment – her scent was repugnant, damp leather and loam. And she was married – not bonded, married – and had a child, a gambling habit and rampant debt. She was hardly better than the Alpha his family had chosen for him to bond with, the one he’d fled the security of Sherrinford to avoid.

Sherlock shuddered remembering the grasping inky-black scent of James Moriarty. Moriarty had convinced Mummy that he would be a good match for the family’s prodigal Omega with his wealth and connections. Even Mycroft, who was almost always Sherlock’s advocate, was impressed with James. (Or ‘Jim’ as he’d encouraged Sherlock to call him.)

But Sherlock had hated the way Jim’s odour had permeated the atmosphere from the first moment they met, wrapping around him like an aggressive octopus. Jim’s scent was bad-wrong-no! Sherlock had not been able to explain it to Mummy or Mycroft – Alphas themselves, they didn’t smell what he smelled. To them, Jim’s scent was virile, successful. To Sherlock it was diseased.

“It will be different after you bond, you’ll see.” Mummy had told him brusquely.

That’s what Sherlock was afraid of. Bonding with Jim would be like sinking into black tar. Jim wanted to break him, would break him, using the empathetic bond as a weapon – Sherlock would feel what Jim felt, however abhorrent. As much as Sherlock had always scoffed at the idea of being cherished by his bondmate, he saw now how much it mattered. Jim would not cherish Sherlock. Jim would use him and abuse him until there was nothing left. Sherlock was strong and very, very smart – it would take a long time for Jim to crush his spirit, to wring all the life from him. Jim would enjoy every second.

He had argued in vain. Mummy had made up her mind. Sherlock was to bond with Jim Moriarty as soon as his heat was upon him – and he’d known it was imminent, he’d had the headachey, skin-too-small, itchy feeling that always presaged his heats for over a week already.

Sherlock had had to wait until the household was sleeping to escape. He’d shammed a grudging acceptance, even letting Jim touch him – the caress on his cheek and the soft press of lips making his skin crawl – and smiling tentatively before withdrawing.

He didn’t make the mistake of thinking that he’d fooled Jim Moriarty. Sherlock waited until almost 3 a.m. before putting on his best disguise – old jeans and a canvas coat he’d cadged from an assistant gardener three years ago – and dousing himself in scent suppressant. He went out the window as he had so often when he was a teenager and climbed silently to the ground. Sherlock hiked several acres through the countryside before risking the road – he didn’t dare go for the train station, that would be the first place Mummy and Mycroft would look. Instead he hitched a ride on an early morning lorry, telling the not-overly-bright beta driver a story about going to see a sibling in London. He used an eastern European accent to cover his posh tones.

Sherlock made it to the outskirts of the city and left the lorry, thanking the beta driver profusely to throw off Mycroft. He hid himself in the back of a moving van for a ride into the heart of London. Sherlock had a bolt-hole in Camden that his nosy brother didn’t know about – it was in a CCTV dead zone – and he planned to hole up there until his blasted heat was over. He would handcuff himself to the iron radiator to keep himself there when his biology tried to force him to seek out an Alpha, any Alpha, to assuage his suffering.

When the blonde woman’s face turned towards him, nostrils flared, Sherlock wanted to cry. He was so close! Instead, he ran.

 

---

 

John caught sight of the Omega. He was beautiful. Tall and slim with a mass of dark curls and flashing silver eyes. His neck was bared, a long, ivory expanse that John longed to press his mouth against, to taste.

‘Mine,’ John’s base instinct insisted. ‘Mine!’ He felt his blood rushing to his cock.

“Do the hustle!”

They were in a narrow alley, the Omega pressed against the brick wall that stretched across it, cutting off his escape. A stocky female stood in front of him, snarling, brandishing a briefcase as if it were a weapon.

Two other Alphas faced her – a man in a suit and a petite woman in athletic attire. Neither looked like fighters, but then neither did the stocky female. But John knew all too well not to underestimate an Alpha, any Alpha, when their instincts were triggered.

He was right to be cautious – the small woman in spandex let fly a roundhouse kick that sent the briefcase clattering to the ground. Instantly the man in the suit was on the stocky woman, punching her in the face. They fell to the ground grappling. The small woman stalked towards the Omega hungrily. John moved to stop her, (“Do the hustle!”) but both the Alphas on the ground grabbed her and pulled her down. Her martial arts training was not nearly as effective pinned to the pavement, but she managed a kick to the man’s gut before the stocky woman throttled her.

John darted past them and advanced on the (his!) Omega. Up close, he was even more beautiful – his lips full and luscious… his scent like warm, wildflower honey… and he was so very young! John would be surprised if he was even eighteen.

“Do the hustle!”

He was trembling…

The Omega was terrified. He shrank from John, crushing himself against the rough brick and it was enough – just barely enough – for John to come back to himself. His hormones were still raging, his blood running high, up-tempo disco still throbbed in his brain, he still wanted the Omega desperately… but for a moment he could think clearly.

And what he thought, what John knew, was that this Omega was right to be terrified. However he’d ended up here, he would not leave unbloodied. It was unlikely he’d leave alive. The three on the ground and the ten more running down the alley (and the ten after that) would tear each other apart to get to him. There was unlikely to be a single victor – if there were, he or she would rape the lovely young man and savagely bite his neck, bonding the Omega to his rapist forever. If the Omega was not on birth control, he’d likely conceive the rapist’s child.

It was more probable that the melee would not yield a single Alpha, but rather a pack overcome with blood lust, who would gang-rape the young man in this dingy alley until he died from trauma or blood loss.

John couldn’t let that happen. Alphas weren’t just programmed by millennia of evolution to fight for and claim an Omega in heat, they were also programmed to protect their Omega. John had had plenty of experience defending an Omega, it was deeply ingrained. He grabbed hold of that, his deep instinct to protect this young man (because he is mine!), and focussed on it.

“Stay behind me.” John ordered the Omega. “The cops will come soon.” John spared a thought hoping the Betas he’d shouted at had called the police. Then he turned to face the oncoming mob.

Just in time – a City Boy in a natty waistcoat was barreling towards him, teeth bared. John snarled and managed to get his fists up. He knocked the man cold with an uppercut. He shoved the City Boy backwards, into a tall Alpha in a doorman’s uniform. The doorman tripped over the still, bloodied body of the small woman in spandex.

“Do the hustle!”

The stocky woman had regained her feet, the man in the suit lay on the pavement bleeding from his neck. The part of John training to be a doctor noted that the wound was fatal. The part that was Alpha rejoiced. The part that was John was horrified.

But there was no time to dwell on it, the stocky woman (blood dripping down her chin) came at John, screaming. Her nails slashed his face as he grabbed at her arms. He managed a good enough grip to swing her around and twisting her arm against her back, incapacitated her. She thrashed in the hold, snarling her rage.

There were four bodies on the ground now – the two the stocky woman had taken out, the City Boy John had punched, and the doorman. The doorman grabbed the next Alpha, a tall woman with a graceful bun, and pulled her to the ground as well. The man behind her started kicking them both and the man behind him shoved them all towards John.

“Do the hustle!”

John heaved the stocky woman into the knot of flailing, fighting bodies. It gave him two or three seconds – he turned back to the Omega and bending, laced his fingers together. “Come on.” John gritted. “I’ll boost you over the wall.”

The Omega hesitated barely an instant before he fluidly stepped into John’s hands. John shoved upwards with all his strength and the Omega got an arm over the concrete cap of the wall. He scrabbled upwards, avoiding grasping hands by millimeters.

John’s heart sung – he’d protected his Omega from the riot of Alphas! (“Do the hustle!”) But his joy was short-lived. The stocky woman slammed into him and John found himself fighting her. John had had training in close-quarters fighting at boot camp and his semi-annual sojourns with the RAMC (he had to pay for medical school somehow and the army had offered in return for his service) and it served him now just as much as his inborn Alpha aggression. He fought off the woman but was immediately attacked by two more Alphas. For a minute it was glorious, pure Alpha adrenaline channeled through his fists…

Eventually John’s head bounced off the brick wall and he took a punch to the solar plexus. His reflexes were slowing, the disco music was stuttering, John knew he wouldn’t last much longer. He would fall and be trampled underfoot with the other bloodied and broken defeated Alphas. Where were the police?!

“Hey!” The scent of the Omega was suddenly stronger. John looked up. The young man was still on top of the wall. Why hadn’t he gone over? Escaped? He reached down with a long, skinny arm, locking eyes with John. “Hey!” he shouted again.

John didn’t question. He used the wall and someone’s back to clamber up and jump… they grabbed at each other, hands desperately entwining, clinging. Then the Omega started hauling John up. John got his fingertips then his hands then his arms over the top… someone started yanking on his feet, trying to pull him back down. The Omega wrapped his arms around his torso and John kicked at the grabbing hands. He lost a shoe, but somehow, he managed to gain the top.

He was breathing hard, winded from the fight and the climb. But the Omega’s scent was even more deliciously overwhelming this close, it pulled him upright, toward the young man. John gripped the cement cap of the wall tightly, restraining himself from clutching at the Omega. Why had he brought John up here? Surely, he must know he was no safer with John than any of the other Alphas. When his heat came on full-force, John would take him and breed him just like all the others.

Then John saw what was on the other side of the wall – another bloody, clamouring mob of frenzied Alphas. The Omega was trapped up here – and now so was John. Soon enough another Alpha would work out a way to gain the top of the wall and then another…

“Over here.” The beautiful Omega said, gesturing to John, his graceful hands hypnotic. He stepped away – John growling in frustration even though the wall couldn’t be a meter and a half long between the two edifices that formed the alley – to one of the buildings and stretched upwards. John looked and saw the fire escape. It was rusted metal bolted to the side of the building, the ladder leading to it, retracted, locked in position more than a meter over their heads.

The Omega looked at John with fading hope. “Boost me.” He whispered, his voice shockingly rich and low. John felt it in his inflamed groin.

John shut his eyes and bit the inside of his cheek. ‘Protect!’ He ordered himself. ‘Protect him! They all want to take him from you! Protect him!’

Breathing shallowly through his mouth – though he knew the Omega’s pheromones would affect him just the same – John carefully approached the young man. He trembled still, fear radiating from his slim form. John braced himself against the wall and once again interlocked his fingers, offering his hands. The Omega stepped into his hands and as John thrust upward, placed his other foot onto John’s shoulder. John wobbled but grasped the young man’s ankle and held him fast, keeping him from falling into the crowded alley below.

Then the Omega’s weight was lifting off his shoulders. John looked up and saw that he’d gotten hold of the ladder and was pulling himself upwards. It was a strain, the young man’s terror and efforts thus far had weakened him, but through what seemed to be sheer will alone, he got a leg up onto the platform and squirmed onto it. He lay there momentarily, on his belly, panting.

John nodded. He’d saved the Omega. He could survive up there until the police arrived. If any other Alpha got to the top of the wall, he’d have to go through John before he or she could even attempt to get to the ladder.

Then the Omega did something (else) John didn’t expect. He lowered the ladder and gestured for John to join him on the fire escape. For a long moment, as he climbed the ladder, John felt that the Omega had chosen him! This beautiful, fragile, young man wanted to bond with him!

“Do the hustle!”

Then John’s hand slipped, and he scraped his wrist on the rusted metal. It sobered him enough to know that the Omega had done no such thing. John had helped him, twice now, and the Omega still needed help. John could and would protect him – from himself if he could, as well as any Alpha that got anywhere near him.

When he reached the platform, the Omega helped him haul the ladder up and lock it back in place. Then he was running up to the next level and John was following him. He focussed not on the throbbing disco beat, but on how different the clang of his shoe sounded on the metal stairs from the soft thump of his stockinged foot. CLANG! Thump CLANG! Thump CLANG! Thump… and he definitely didn’t focus on the enchanting, hot honey scent of the Omega almost in heat above him.

CLANG! Thump.

Chapter Text

Sherlock lay on the metal platform and caught his breath. The riot he’d caused clamoured below him. He could see a number of people on the ground. There was blood…

Abruptly he stood up. He knew where he was – if that stupid wall hadn’t been in the middle of the stupid alley he would have been in his bolt-hole by now – and all those people wouldn’t be trying to kill each other. He could still get there, hide himself away… but the riot would tell Mycroft and (shudder) Jim exactly where to look for him. Sherlock would never be safe.

Unless…

He looked down at the short Alpha on the top of the wall. Sherlock could clearly see the mix of dark and light golden blonde hair on his head. He wasn’t much older than Sherlock, early twenties, and obviously a doctor. No, he was studying to be a doctor. Somewhere nearby lay an abandoned rucksack with the man’s books and notes and white lab coat inside.

More importantly, this Alpha – whilst marinating in a sea of Alpha testosterone – had managed to push aside his deeply ingrained base instincts long enough to see Sherlock’s fear, to help him escape. Sherlock wasn’t stupid enough to think he would be safe with the man, he was an Alpha and Sherlock was an unbonded Omega on the very brink of his heat, but when he’d set his foot in the man’s hands and balanced himself with fingers on the man’s shoulder, he’d caught the Alpha’s individual scent. He’d liked it immediately.

When he’d wrapped his arms around the Alpha’s waist and buried his face in his wooly jumper as he tried frantically to pull him to the top of the wall, Sherlock had again experienced the Alpha’s scent. He smelled of fresh air and growing plants, cut grass and bark on a summer’s day.

He smelled good-safe-yes!

And again, the Alpha had set aside (visibly) the instinct to claim and breed Sherlock and helped him up onto the fire escape.

Sherlock made a decision based on his own instincts, base and otherwise, and lowered the ladder.

The fire escape led to the roof. Sherlock dashed across barely glancing to see if the short Alpha followed. He leapt onto another building and then another, stopping only to get his bearings. He heard sirens – the police were finally coming to break up the riot. Sherlock hoped they only sent Betas. Surely the police were intelligent enough to work out what had happened.

Sherlock suppressed a surge of guilt. He knew better than to expose himself right before his heats. He knew the dangers as well as every Omega, had heard the stories – had experienced the unwanted attention from aggressive Alphas the moment that the headachey-itchy feeling began a full ten days before his heat. It was why unbonded Omegas used to be locked up by their families and sometimes even by their bondmates. It wasn’t until the invention of scent suppressors 80 years ago that the laws had started to change and Omegas were allowed some of the freedoms Alphas and Betas took for granted.

What had happened? His scent suppressor was supposed to work for at least twelve hours and it had only been five and half since he’d doused himself in it. Sherlock had used it before, he knew it wasn’t faulty…. he wouldn’t put it past Moriarty to water it down… ugh! he must have done yesterday when Sherlock had been arguing with Mummy and Mycroft in the Library. Sherlock cursed himself for not anticipating that.

Jim had watered down Sherlock’s scent suppressor knowing full well that if Sherlock tried to use it, it would fail and cause every Alpha within scenting distance to swarm him. Jim had done it knowing that Alphas would injure and kill each other and that Sherlock himself was unlikely to survive.

Jim had done it knowing it would be a horrible, bloody, torturous death.

Sherlock glanced again at the short Alpha who had saved his life. The man wouldn’t meet his eyes. There was blood on his face. His hands were balled tightly into fists and he was biting his bottom lip – he was doing everything he could to keep his base instinct to fuck Sherlock in check.

Sherlock knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be begging for it. Maybe an hour, maybe less. He didn’t know what effect the adrenaline and the exposure to so many riled Alphas would have – if it accelerated his heat, he had mere minutes.

Finally, they reached the right building. He pried open the roof door and scrambled down the stairs. He didn’t pause on any of the floors, but continued down past street level to the basement. Then he led the Alpha to another stairwell and down and down using only a small penlight to show the way. At the bottom he found the door to the tunnel and, locking it behind them, jogged its damp and mouldy length. There was another basement and another tunnel. Then a stairwell, rickety and covered in cobwebs. It creaked as they ran up. As they reached ground level again, a dismal gray illumination from a filthy skylight lit their way. This building was long abandoned, its doors and windows boarded up. The only ingress was through the tunnels. On the fourth floor, Sherlock had stowed supplies for emergency use. And fleeing minutes ahead of full-on heat from vile, sociopathic Jim Moriarty – and every Alpha in the vicinity – was the very definition of an emergency.

Sherlock ran down the fourth floor hallway and flung open the door to his bolthole. As soon as he entered, the door slammed behind him.

“Lock it!” The Alpha said through the door. “Bolt it and push anything heavy you have in there against it. I’m not going to last much longer, you have to bar the door.”

Sherlock leaned against his side of the door in relief. He felt tears on his face – the emotion of his flight and near-death overwhelming him. And the kindness of this Alpha, helping him, protecting him…

Sherlock opened the door.

“What are you doing!?” The Alpha cried frantically, holding up his hands in a warding-off gesture. “You understand, you aren’t safe with me.” His eyes, Sherlock noted, were a dark, stormy blue and though short, his compact form was strong and well-made.

“Come in.” Sherlock said. “I want you to.”

The Alpha looked ready to protest, but he was in the room and locking the door behind him before it reached his lips. He turned, panting shallowly, to Sherlock.

“How do you feel about the violin?” Sherlock asked.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I play the violin when I’m thinking. Sometimes I don’t talk for days on end. Would that bother you? Potential bondmates should know the worst about each other.”

“Who said anything about bondmates?” The Alpha cried.

“I want to bond with you.” Sherlock said. “Please.”

The Alpha stepped towards him, into Sherlock’s personal space. His scent was everywhere, cut grass and hot sun and growing things all around Sherlock. “I don’t even know your name.” The Alpha said. “I don’t understand.” He reached out and caressed Sherlock’s jaw, his fingers tender.

“My family, the Alpha they’ve chosen for me… he’s… he’s wrong.” Sherlock said. “Have you ever caught someone’s scent and you know that person... that they’ll hurt you if you give them a chance?”

“I’ve… I’ve known someone was sick by their scent.” The Alpha said slowly, continuing to rub his thumb over Sherlock’s cheek. “And… my neighbor growing up, he smelled like rotting logs… he beat his dog. I hated him.”

“Yes! Jim is like that. But it’s worse, much worse… I cannot bond with him. Do you understand? He will torture me.”

“Yeah, ok. Why bond with anyone?”

“I can’t stay here forever. When I leave, my brother will find me – he will, he always does – and they’ll make sure I can’t escape next time. Bonding with you... it’s the only way Jim can’t touch me.”

“But you don’t know anything about me.” The Alpha protested.

Sherlock looked the Alpha over quickly, assessing if he’d missed anything. “I know that you’re in your last year of medical school, currently doing a rotation in the morgue. You grew up in the suburbs of London and you lost your father young – possibly to death but probably to alcohol. He was an Alpha and you didn’t like the example he set. You have a sibling who’s an Omega and you’ve looked out for him your entire life. You’re trained in hand-to-hand combat and you are a marksman. You practice shooting with a handgun regularly. You had coffee and a bacon butty for breakfast and you were on your way to hospital when you scented me. And I know that you are kind and able to suppress your base Alpha instincts long enough to help me escape from the mob my scent caused.”

The Alpha stared at him. “That ... was amazing.”

“Do you think so?” Sherlock asked, blinking in surprise.

“Of course, it was.” The Alpha told him. “It was extraordinary; it was quite extraordinary.”

“That’s not what people normally say.”

“What do people normally say?”

“‘Piss off’!”

The Alpha laughed – a shocking noise after their intense conversation. Sherlock found himself smiling along with the shorter man. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled with someone.

“Will you do it?” Sherlock asked.

“Are you sure – really sure – this isn’t just your hormones talking? I’ve seen what heats are like...”

“I’m sure!” Sherlock snapped. “I’ve been going through the blasted heats since I was fourteen! I know the difference!”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you! I just... I don’t want to take advantage...”

Sherlock smiled grimly. “You aren’t. You’re doing me a favour. Trust me.”

“Ok.” The Alpha said softly.

“You’ll bond with me?”

“Yeah... erm... what’s your name? I should probably know that. I’m John. John Watson.”

“Sherlock.” The Omega narrowed his eyes. “And I’m not underaged. I’m twenty!”

“I didn’t say anything!”

“You were thinking it.”

Chapter Text

John couldn’t help himself, as the Omega pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed the blood from the scratches on John’s face, he reached out and touched the lovely young man – Sherlock – resting his hands on his narrow waist and sighing.

He felt much calmer now that he was alone with the Omega, no other Alphas competing for him. His heat would start soon, that was obvious by his scent, but until it started, John could relax.

Well, he could if he hadn’t just agreed to bond with a man he’d just met. Bonding was serious. Bonding was for life.

John had never expected to bond – not after seeing how Alphas treated Harry, teasing her, stalking her, making her life miserable. She had a Beta girlfriend now and half the Alphas she met would chat her up insistently in front of Clara and then get mad when she turned them down. And that was with scent suppressant.

John never wanted to be one of them.

It was criminal that Sherlock was so desperate to bond with a complete stranger – that it was the only way to avoid bonding with someone he loathed. Someone who he was certain would hurt him. John would help him now, he’d bond with him, he’d be there for his heats – if Sherlock wanted him to be – and he wouldn’t ask for anything else. Except maybe a date. The man was out of his league, but it would be nice to get to know him in real life.

As his hands moved down Sherlock’s hips, something else occurred to him. “Erm... are you on birth control?” John asked. Bonding was one thing, becoming a parent was something else entirely.

Sherlock scoffed. “Of course, I am! I don’t want children!” He said the word like one might say ‘cockroaches,’ or ‘weeping sores.’

John smiled his relief and pulled the younger man closer, enjoying the way Sherlock melted into his arms. The Omega pressed his nose against John’s neck, inhaling his scent deeply. “Good.” He sighed.

John took a deep breath of sweet, sweet honey. “You are amazing.” John told him, cradling the Omega against his chest.

“Mmmm.” Sherlock wriggled, and John felt a bolt of desire low in his belly, radiating outward.

“Is this your first, erm, heat with an Alpha?”

“Yes.” Sherlock whispered.

“I’ll be gentle, I promise.” John pressed kisses against the Omega’s forehead. He tasted as sweet as he smelled.

“You won’t.” Sherlock groaned, pressing his hips forward and gyrating. “You’ll be savage.”

“Oh god!” John cupped the young man’s face and pulled him into a kiss, savouring the outrageous lips, tracing the cupid’s bow with his tongue and nibbling on the full lower lip.

Sherlock shuddered in his arms and kissed back. It was just awkward enough to tell John it was his first kiss. His heart overflowed with affection for this sweet Omega – for his sweet, amazing, fantastic, beautiful Omega. John would treasure him.

A soft moan caught in Sherlock’s throat. John had never heard anything so erotic. He was full hard now. He pressed his big Alpha cock to Sherlock’s hip, the Omega’s smaller erection an insistent pressure against John’s abdomen. He clutched a handful of Omega arse and ground their hips together and thrilled to hear him moan again.

He claimed the Omega’s mouth. Sherlock’s tongue tentatively stroked his lip. John had had his share of sex – and he had felt strongly about several of his partners – but he had never experienced this combination of fierce lust and tenderness. It was extraordinary.

“Off!” Sherlock demanded, tugging at John’s jumper. “Off!”

The temperature in the room had intensified a hundredfold. The Omega’s heat was beginning. He scrabbled at John’s jumper and at the flies of his own trousers, keening. “John... John... I need...”

“Shhh, sweet, I know what you need. I’ll take care of you.” John shucked his shirt and jumper together, kicked off his remaining shoe and helped Sherlock unfasten his flies. The Omega lay back on the mattress struggling with his trousers. John pulled off the younger man’s shoes and then stripped him of his trousers and pants. The damp scent of his heat struck John like a tsunami, a tidal wave of pheromones filling him with animalistic desire.

As he fought with his jeans – his erection making them difficult to remove – the Omega turned onto his elbows and knees and presented, arse in the air. Freed from his clothes, John knelt behind him, inhaling deeply. John leaned in and kissed an alabaster flank, his fingers dipping between the Omega’s legs, finding his entrance slicked liberally with his natural lubrication.

Moaning, Sherlock moved against his hand and several of John’s digits breached. John swore softly and frigged the younger man, fingers questing deeper and deeper inside.

“Please, John... please...” The Omega moaned. “I need ...”

John pulled his fingers free and tasted them – this part of Sherlock also tasted of honey, but of much more as well: honey and musky earth, of maleness, fresh mineral water, suet, and a deep, profound rightness. He buried his face in Sherlock’s arse, licking the sap of his essence from its source.

When he emerged, Sherlock was weeping. “Please… stop teasing, John. Please… I need you…”

“Hush.” John soothed him, running his hands over the smooth, white hips and up under the shirt the Omega still wore. “Hush, I’m right here.” He pulled Sherlock’s hips back until the head of his cock tickled his entrance. “I’m right here.”

“John!” The Omega choked. “Please!”

John nudged himself in. There was resistance initially, but John pressed forward and quickly slid into the hot wetness of the Omega. They both groaned loudly. John pushed until his pelvis was flush to Sherlock’s arse, their skin melding together. John was amazed that the man had taken him so easily – John’s Alpha cock was on the larger side and none of his previous partners, all Beta lasses, had found him easy to accommodate – especially not at first.

For all that, he was tight, his inner tissues gripping him, contracting around him delightfully. Sherlock seemed to have been made for him. The Omega squirmed happily and rocked himself back and forth, enjoying John’s prick thoroughly.

Soon enough though the Omega whined unhappily, thrusting himself back onto John’s cock with increasing desperation. “I need…” He gasped. “I need…” Sherlock searched for the words.

“More.” John supplied. He pulled back and shoved himself into the Omega, earning a lewd cry. “You need more of this.” He began thrusting in earnest, harder than he ever would have with one of his Beta girlfriends. He didn’t know if it was because Sherlock was a man or because he was an Omega, or both, but John could – needed to – fuck him roughly, urgently, almost violently. He pressed on the small of the Omega’s back, changing the angle of penetration and suddenly Sherlock was gasping and shaking below him. He’d found it, John realised, the Omega’s pearl – that sensitive spot deep within that gave him intense pleasure. John growled happily and continued striking Sherlock’s pearl with his long cock.

Sherlock cried out piercingly, shuddering, his arms collapsing and his face falling into the mattress. John moaned loudly as Sherlock’s arse spasmed around his prick, contracting rhythmically. John recognised with wonderment that the Omega was orgasming,

John reached around for Sherlock’s penis and caressing it, found it erect and only slightly damp at the tip. The Omega’s climax had been entirely internal. John was astonished and delighted and just a little bit proud of himself.

Sherlock recovered quickly and began begging. “John, harder, please… oh! Please, John! Harder! Fuck me harder!”

John complied, grunting with the effort. It was fantastic, the best sex he’d ever had. He thrust exuberantly, his fingers digging into the Omega’s hips. He panted and cried with the ecstasy, breathing in more and more of the heady Omega scent.

Then, for the first time in his life, John felt his knot harden and begin to grow. It was brilliant! It was magnificent and amazing! He felt stronger and more virile than he ever had. He was the most powerful Alpha in the world! His knot was huge! No one could breed this Omega like he could! No one would dare – they would tremble before his tremendous knot! John growled aloud with authority. This Omega was his! He would kill any Alpha that even looked at him!

“Johnnnn….!” Sherlock whined, distressed. “John… please….”

Had he hurt the young man somehow? John searched frantically for the problem. When he found it, he frowned in confusion – his knot had swollen so large that it no longer fit through the Omega’s silky-slick entrance. His thrusts had become shallow, not deep enough to strike anywhere near his sensitive pearl. The Omega writhed anxiously, heaving himself on John’s Alpha cock.

“John!” He moaned… and John knew he had to put his knot inside the Omega. He had to!

He shoved hard, his hands leaving bruises on the ivory flanks. The Omega plunged backwards, keening – ultimately, their movements synched, and Sherlock impaled himself on John’s cock just as John propelled himself forward savagely and his knot, his enormous, rock-solid knot, was forced into the trembling Omega’s hole. Sherlock screamed.

The tip of John’s Alpha cock pierced the tiny passage into the Omega’s womb and John came and came and came, shooting copiously into the sweet tunnel, breeding Sherlock with wave upon wave of intensely satisfying pleasure. This was what their bodies were made for!

John groaned and grabbed his Omega, arms encircling his chest and pulling him up into his embrace. He cradled the beautiful man against his chest, gentling him, petting his wild hair and kissing the sweat from his neck. “So lovely.” He crooned. “So sweet.”

“Too big…” The Omega wept softly in John’s tender arms. His honey scent was ripe and hot – and right under John’s nose. He pressed his face against Sherlock’s long, graceful neck, tearing away the collar of his sweat-soaked shirt with frantic fingers, finding the spot at the back, right at the top of his spine, where his scent was strongest.

John’s kissed the spot, then opened his mouth and bit into the Omega’s delicate flesh. Sherlock screamed again, but this time it was with bliss – he climaxed as his Alpha’s teeth pierced his skin, the juddering contractions of his body stimulating John to orgasm again. They crested together, joined twice over – where knot penetrated and where teeth punctured hot flesh.

They rode it out, John’s arms wrapped tightly around his slim Omega, holding him close as they knelt on the mattress. As the last tremor shook them, John released his jaw and sniffed at the bond bite. It was deep, bleeding profusely. The Alpha licked the bite, his saliva staunching the flow of blood as it had evolved to do. He cleaned it with his tongue, lapping at it for long minutes.

“You are mine.” He sighed finally, resting his forehead against the back of Sherlock’s neck. “We are bonded.” He could feel the Omega’s restless pleasure through the newly made empathetic link. It was strong – stronger than John had expected. It was almost as if he could read his Omega’s thoughts.

“It’s stronger when Alpha and Omega are compatible.” Sherlock murmured. “And when pleasure is mutual.” John smiled, realising that Sherlock was feeling John’s emotions just as John was feeling his. Adding this to the astonishing way the young man had been able to know so much about John simply by looking at him, he might as well be reading his mind.

“It doesn’t work that way.” Sherlock said, and John laughed – giggled – breathlessly.

“Let’s lie down.” John said. “We’ll be joined until the knot diminishes. That can take up to an hour.”

“I know.” Sherlock said haughtily, but John felt the Omega’s affection and sleepy satisfaction through the link. Carefully he guided them until they lay on their sides, Alpha spooning Omega whilst the knot bound them together.

John orgasmed again, nature doing its level best to impregnate the Omega in heat. It shook John to his core as he clung to Sherlock, his lips pressed to the fresh bond bite. The pleasure was profound, and he discovered tears falling from his eyes as he shuddered and shot load after load of his cum inside his sweet Omega.

Afterwards, he reached again for the Omega’s penis. It lay at half-mast against Sherlock’s thigh. John caressed it to full wakefulness and stroked it, twisting his wrist and running his thumb over the damp head at the top of each stroke. John felt Sherlock’s pleasure growing through their empathetic link – it was amazing, he knew exactly what pleased the young man most, knew precisely what he desired. He felt powerful, fondling and squeezing and stroking his Omega’s prick until Sherlock gasped and spurted, his climax stuttering under John’s capable hand. It was a different sort of climax than the earlier ones, less deep but still satisfying to both of them.

John came twice more inside Sherlock before his knot receded enough to allow them to uncouple. But even after he was able to separate himself, John held tightly to his Omega for long minutes.

Chapter Text

Sherlock felt John stir, waking him from the edge of slumber.

“Sorry.” John murmured. “Need the loo.” He kissed the bond bite again and Sherlock felt a deep, satisfying ache from the wound.

He roused himself. “Plumbing doesn’t work.” Sherlock told his Alpha. “But there’s a chemical toilet in there.” He indicated a door on the far side of the room.”

“Mm.” John grunted as he gained his feet. Sherlock admired his body. His Alpha rippled with muscle as he walked, calves flexing, glutes springing, lats fluttering as he reached up and scratched the back of his neck. John’s thighs were firm and thick, his shoulders broad and when he turned, Sherlock saw his chest muscle undulate and his abs twitch. His mouth watered hungrily.

John looked around the room, poking through the supplies Sherlock had cached. He gathered a bottle of water from the big plastic-wrapped cube of them, an energy bar and some blankets and brought them to Sherlock. He shook out a blanket and lay it over Sherlock, snugging it around him. “Drink the water.” John told him. “And eat.” He pushed the bar forward. He must have sensed Sherlock’s antipathy for the food through their link. John laughed and nudged the bar with his toe. “You’re going to need the energy.” Then he disappeared through the door to the makeshift loo.

Immediately, Sherlock felt anxious – he didn’t like his Alpha to be out of sight. But he focussed on their link and calmed himself. John was just on the other side of the door, Sherlock could still feel his burgeoning affection and deep-seated desire. He felt prized, cherished, respected. Sherlock was safe. His Alpha would always protect him.

Still, when John emerged, rubbing sanitizer on his hands, Sherlock’s relief was palpable. John smiled at him and Sherlock knew that John had felt it too, the strain of the separation, as minor as it had been.

John grabbed more water and another energy bar and rejoined Sherlock on the mattress. He stretched his legs out, pressing his thigh against Sherlock’s back, and arranged Sherlock’s blanket so it covered them both, pulling another blanket over his shoulders. He drank deeply from his bottle of water.

John plucked at the collar of Sherlock’s shirt. “Take this off, yeah?” He said. “I want to see you.”

Sherlock complied, sitting up and unbuttoning the offending garment. He slipped it off and John extended his blanket to cover Sherlock’s shoulders as well, pulling him close in the process. Sherlock leaned into him, thrilling at his Alpha’s strength and solidity.

“Does it hurt?” John asked, kissing the bond bite gently and inhaling deeply. Their scents were strongest there – and now Sherlock’s honey scent would have an overlay of John’s hot-summer’s-day/freshly-cut-grass/growing-things scent, to tell all other Alphas that this Omega was claimed, off-limits.

“Not in a bad way.” Sherlock told him. Maybe he should feel belittled, constrained, that he had to give himself to someone – an Alpha, the source of all his problems – to ever be safe. And he always had chafed against the very idea. So what if he were an Omega! It was just biology! He was a person – an incredibly intelligent, independent, strong-minded person! He was a genius and a scientist! He was valuable for far more than his bloody womb and pesty pheromones. If it were possible to survive the removal of the offending parts or even to suppress the intolerable heats, not just his scent, he would have done so in a second.

But right now, Sherlock didn’t feel resentful. Laying his head on John’s shoulder, John’s arms wrapped around him, Sherlock felt… happy. Happier than he had ever felt in his life. And whilst that was partially his cursed biology, he knew he would not have been anything like happy after bonding with Jim Moriarty – or one of the other Alphas that had swarmed him in the alley. Or any Alpha of his acquaintance. Sherlock had never before met an Alpha whose scent had seemed right – whose scent had comforted instead of alarmed him. Even Mummy and Mycroft’s scents, gentled as they were by familiarity and blood, had notes in their leather-and-whisky coziness that had always made him wary.

But John… John was different. Sherlock had known he was different the moment he’d caught his scent. And now the empathetic bond reinforced his impression. Yes, John had the aggression and ambition of every Alpha. But in him, they weren’t alarming – they were exciting! John was dangerous and that was thrilling! Because, Sherlock realised as he luxuriated in his Alpha’s emotive essence, he was not dangerous to Sherlock. He would never be dangerous to Sherlock. John was dangerous to anyone and everyone who might threaten Sherlock, but he would never harm an Omega and he would always safeguard his Omega.

As if he knew Sherlock’s thoughts – and he must, well enough, through the link – John’s arms tightened around him and he kissed his jaw. Sherlock turned his head and caught John’s lips and they kissed, John so tender with him, worshiping his lips and teeth and tongue…

“We should try to kip.” John said presently. “It won’t be long before we have another go.”

He meant that it wouldn’t be long before Sherlock was again overtaken by his heat, desperate for John’s cock, for his knot, his body determined to be bred, impregnated by his Alpha. Heats lasted anywhere from three days to a week – and newly bonded Omega heats tended to be on the longer side – so it was wise to grab sleep and food in the short intervals between frenzied fuck sessions.

Sherlock nodded and allowed John to pull him down. He laid his head on John’s chest, tangled their legs together and drifted off as John combed his fingers through his dark curls.

Chapter Text

Mycroft stared at the grainy video. He’d been watching it almost non-stop for an hour, slowly confirming his conclusions.

The first viewing had been painful to watch – his younger brother sprinting down the blind alley, a blonde businesswoman in pursuit. She pinned him to the wall almost directly below the camera, ripping his coat off and exposing his neck. He’d fought her, of course, Sherlock was feisty for an Omega, but the coat tangled his hands and then bunched under his feet tripping him up.

She was distracted from him by the arrival of two more Alphas. Whilst they fought over him, a fourth darted past and Mycroft watched in horror as his brother cringed.

Sherlock never cringed! Not as a child, and certainly not after he’d presented and Alphas started bothering him. Sherlock never backed down! Sherlock attacked, verbally, physically, strategically, playing one Alpha off another.

As annoying as it could be when it was pointed at him, Mycroft had always respected his brother’s strength. He was tough for an Omega.

But in the CCTV video, Sherlock cringed. Mycroft knew that this would not end well, and he could see that Sherlock, in that moment, knew it too. He almost stopped the video there. He didn’t want to see his brother raped and torn apart by crazed Alphas.

He didn’t stop the video. It was Mycroft’s responsibility to watch, even if he knew how it would end… so he was stunned when the Alpha closest to his brother boosted him atop the wall that cut across the alley. He strained to see the man that had saved his brother’s life – was he a Beta somehow come to help a compromised Omega? No, the man was definitely an Alpha. Mycroft watched the other Alphas attack him – they would mostly ignore a Beta – watched the man join the fight rather gleefully.

And then! Just as the Good Samaritan was about to be subsumed in the riot, Sherlock reached down and plucked him out!

His brother had always had the ability to surprise him, but this was so unexpected Mycroft stopped and played that part of the video back. Twice.

Sherlock saved the Alpha who had saved him. It hadn’t been easy, he’d almost been pulled back down into the mob. But Sherlock was tenacious for an Omega, and the Alpha had made it to the top of the wall.

Mycroft watched rapt as the Alpha once again boosted his brother up – unfortunately he couldn’t see where, the camera’s range didn’t extend that far. But it was explained a moment later when a fire escape ladder was lowered, and the Alpha swarmed up. The ladder was retracted again, preventing anyone who gained the top of the wall from following.

After that, the video showed only the rioting, showed the police arriving, an all-Beta force with scent-suppressor bombs. They launched them into the mob who rapidly became a group of stunned individuals, bedraggled and injured, that were ushered out by the Beta police for medical treatment and questioning. Seven of the mob didn’t stand up – one because her leg was broken, four because they were out cold, one because he was gravely injured and two more because they were dead.

The police currently had an alert out for the Omega who had started the riot.

Sherlock hadn’t intended to start a riot. Mycroft knew that – Sherlock was obsessive about wearing suppressant. He wore it all the time, even at home, even during the months when his heat was not imminent. It was the only control he could assert over his biology and he asserted it stridently.

The past few days, when Jim Moriarty had come to bond with Sherlock, was the first time in years that Mycroft had experienced Sherlock’s natural scent. It had seemed incongruous, the sweet honey scent on his vexatious brother… it reminded Mycroft of the vibrant, happy child Sherlock had been.

No, there was no way that Sherlock had knowingly left home without dousing himself in enough suppressant to get him wherever he had intended to go. Obviously, someone had tampered with Sherlock’s supply.

Equally as obvious, to Mycroft’s mind, there was only one suspect: the man he had insisted his brother take as protector and mate.

If he hadn’t insisted, if he’d listened to Sherlock, two people wouldn’t be dead and another twenty wouldn’t be in hospital with various injuries. And another twenty, Mycroft reminded himself, wouldn’t be nursing bruises and thanking their lucky stars they’d emerged from that alley relatively unscathed.

What sort of man knowingly put his future mate in that situation?

A man vindictive enough to want to punish the Omega for running away with a violent death. A man uncaring enough to conscript innocent bystanders through their biology into a savage mob with the Omega as its focal point.

Before this, Mycroft had only seen Jim Moriarty’s cleverness snd charm. He had thought it would be a good match – he had wanted to give Sherlock his intellectual equal, not a mate who would drag him down.

It seemed that Sherlock – whether due to his Omega instinct or his observational genius – had sussed more of Moriarty’s true self than Mycroft or Mummy…

And that brought Mycroft back to the Alpha who saved his brother from this vicious punishment.

It had taken a computer algorithm to find a frame with a clear picture of the man’s face – and even then, it was grainy and distorted. Facial recognition software had narrowed him down to roughly 450 Londoners. 291 were Alphas. Comparing photos of the 291 Alphas with images of the men whose personal effects police had found abandoned near the scene of the riot had left them with one possibility: John Hamish Watson, a medical student and soldier-in-training with an Omega sister, a Beta mother and an absent Alpha father.

John Watson had saved Sherlock’s life. Where was he now?

Unfortunately, Mr. Watson’s phone had been in his rucksack, so he couldn’t be traced that way. (Sherlock’s phone was abandoned in his bedroom, a demonstration, if one had been needed, of how determined he was not to be found.) John Watson hadn’t been picked up by CCTV anywhere in the city since climbing that ladder and, presumably, running off with Sherlock. Regardless, Mycroft’s agents were even now knocking up all of Watson’s associates and searching St. Bartholomew’s Hospital with a fine-tooth comb.

He would be found.

Unless he was still with Sherlock.

Mycroft didn’t want to dwell on the implications – and complications – that would create.

As for tracing Sherlock himself… that had become increasingly difficult the past few years. Mycroft’s agents were swarming Camden Town, but Sherlock was extremely innovative for an Omega. It vexed Mycroft that his little brother managed to evade his watching CCTV eyes so successfully.

Clearly, he’d found someplace to ride out his heat. Mycroft would have to wait until it passed, and Sherlock ventured out, to find him again.

Chapter Text

“Tell me,” John said. “How you knew all that stuff about me.” He was balanced on his elbows over Sherlock – he had wanted to make love face-to-face this time, and it had been so intimate, seeing Sherlock’s eyes and his expressions – as well as feeling his emotions through the empathetic link. It had been perfect.

But now his knot was planted in his Omega and the position was less comfortable to sustain. At least he wasn’t bent in half, knees to his chest, like Sherlock. John hoped the question would distract them both from their discomfiture.

“Lean back.” Sherlock commanded instead of answering. “I need to put my legs down.”

“Maybe we could lie side-to-side…” John began.

“That won’t work.” Sherlock said preemtively. “Move your legs forward so you’re kneeling or sitting, not hovering over me like that!”

“Erm… ok…” John painstakingly arranged himself the way Sherlock suggested – with several impatient exclamations from his Omega – whilst not pulling on their knotted parts too painfully. Sherlock moaned in relief when he was able to lower his legs. He lay splayed out in front of John, a vastness of alabaster skin, his bum in John’s lap.

Sherlock wiped the cum off his stomach with a corner of a blanket, his Omega cock softly nestled in the black curls at his groin. “You’re gorgeous.” John told him.

Sherlock shot him a sharp look. “I’m unwashed and sticky and I have a big cock stuck up my arse.” He retorted. John smiled at the rush of fondness Sherlock sent through their bond with the words.

They had been in this room for three days subsisting on water, energy bars and sex. John was all but exhausted from naught but cat naps. And he’d never had so much sex in his life. It was non-stop – they might get an hour after John’s knot receded before Sherlock was begging for more, his body actually in pain for want of John’s Alpha cock, and John was hard and lusting for his Omega with a desperation he’d never experienced.

The room stank of aging sweat and semen, overlaying the pleasant haze of pheromones like smog.

And, John suspected, the scratches on his face were becoming infected. He hadn’t washed it properly the first day – hadn’t really had a chance – and when he did wash it, all he had was soap and bottled water.

Oh well, it wouldn’t kill him in the next few days. John wasn’t 100% certain what would happen when Sherlock’s heat ended, and they ventured out of the abandoned building, but a bath was at the top of his list. Perhaps he’d call Bart’s from the bathtub to arrange the belated leave of absence. It wasn’t usual to stumble into a bond like this, but it wasn’t unheard of either. His instructors would understand.

New bondmates needed to spend at least a week together after their first heat – and sometimes as long as a month – not just to reinforce the bond, but because it was physically uncomfortable to be apart. John couldn’t imagine Sherlock’s family separating them, he couldn’t imagine anything separating them, but Sherlock had assured him his family would be as intrusive as they possibly could. John was flexible – Sherlock could stay with him in his little flat or John could stay at Sherlock’s. John was even willing to stay at the family manor – if he could ever get over the fact that Sherlock’s family had a manor!

He wondered what they’d think of him. He wasn’t posh, he hadn’t gone to a fancy school like Sherlock, he had no money. John was certain he wasn’t what Sherlock’s family had envisioned for the Omega even before they’d settled on the Alpha that had made Sherlock flee from his home. He knew he wasn’t good enough for Sherlock.

“Stop that.” Sherlock snapped, taking his hands. “You’re better than anyone else ever could be, John. I don’t care what Mummy and Mycroft think!”

“I hope they aren’t as stubborn as you are.” John said.

Sherlock scoffed. “Or course they are, they’re Alphas. But it doesn’t matter now. You are mine and nothing will change that.”

“As long as we live.” John noted.

“They aren’t going to kill you, John!” Sherlock exclaimed. “If they killed you now, I’d pine and die – it’s another stupid Omega thing.”

“That’s… erm… comforting.”

Sherlock laughed feeling John’s amusement through the link. That was the best thing, how his Omega had relaxed and opened over the last few days, allowing John’s laid back good humour to influence his less happy moods. Sherlock was less anxious and more confident with every hour that passed.

“So tell me, how did you know everything about me?”

“I observed.” Sherlock said. “You were wearing scrubs – the top – under your jumper and your hands smelled slightly of formaldehyde. You’re young to be a doctor and the teaching hospital isn’t far from here, so medical student. Formaldehyde means morgue rotation which doesn’t happen until your final year. Freshly showered and dressed, clearly you were on your way to hospital, not from.

“I smelled coffee and bacon on your breath and you had crumbs on the shoulder of your jumper – bacon butty, obvious.

“I saw you fighting – you were good. Better than most. Despite being of smaller stature than many of the other Alphas, you would have been fine if you hadn’t been swarmed. Obviously, you’ve had training in how to defend yourself. The callouses on your hands here and here,” Sherlock touched the callouses lightly. “Give away how much time you spend at the firing range with a handgun. You have the callouses on both hands, you shoot ambidexterously, which also suggest you’re good at it – a marksman.

“That you grew up on the outskirts of London, your accent gives you away. Obvious. That you were able to control your base instincts whilst surrounded by raging Alpha testosterone, told me that you’d had long practice. The way you treated me revealed that you are sympathetic to Omegas. You’ve spent a lot of time with an Omega. Not a parent, he or she would be bonded if you were their child, so a sibling that you’ve looked out for his whole life.

“Why did you look out for him and not your Alpha father? Because your father left when you were young. You didn’t like how he treated your family – which more often than not means alcoholic – and resolved never to be like him. Thus your caring and your control of your instincts.”

“Fantastic!” John said. Sherlock absolutely glowed, feeling John’s praise and astonished approval through the empathetic bond.

“How did I do?” He asked. “I usually get something wrong.”

John shrugged. “I am a medical student, I am doing a morgue rotation, I was on my way there and I had had coffee and a bacon butty. I do shoot and I know how to fight. I grew up in Clerkenwell, my dad did drink too much and I didn’t like how he treated us. I haven’t seen him since I was seven years old. And I do have an Omega sibling.”

“So I got everything right?”

“Harry’s my little sister, not my brother.” John said, the familiar ache in his heart when he thought of her forming.

“Sister! There’s always something…”

“Oh thank god!” John exclaimed as his knot ebbed and he was released. He flopped onto the mattress and stretched his limbs, his physical reprieve overcoming the sense of sadness and failure associated with Harry.

Sherlock moaned and stood up, making his way quickly to the loo – apparently too distracted to focus on his Alpha’s brief despondency. John had been vaguely aware of a feeling of pressure through the link, but he hadn’t associated it with a need to slash. He laughed and felt Sherlock return his amusement.

Still, he had to stop himself from getting up and making sure Sherlock was safe on the other side of the door. They had to learn to give each other privacy.

When his Omega emerged, John relaxed and watched him move about the room. “What will happen when we leave here?” John asked.

“We won’t walk a block before a shiny black saloon will pull up beside us and my brother’s assistants will kidnap us. We will be taken to Mycroft’s townhouse, where we’ll be fed and allowed to bathe. Then Mycroft and Mummy will descend and life as you know it ends.” Sherlock was broadcasting tension.

“That all sounds rather dramatic.”

“My brother is a consummate drama queen.”

“Mm. After that, do you want to stay with me? My flat isn’t very big, but it’s bigger than this room. And there are in-and-out privileges…”

Sherlock was still transmitting tension as he fiddled with the cube of bottled water. He was nude, his slim form effortlessly elegant. His dark hair and pale skin made a striking contrast, highlighted here and there with a rosy pink – on his nipples, his cheeks, his arse and the head of his cock. John got up and went to him, folding his Omega in his arms. The younger man melted into him, pressing himself almost helplessly to John’s chest.

“Whatever happens, I’m here.” He whispered. “They can’t separate us without hurting you. And they won’t scare me away.” John pressed a kiss to the bond bite on Sherlock’s neck, tracing the familiar pattern of his teeth with his lips – his gran had told him that you could always tell that an Omega had been bred against his or her will if the bond bite was ragged. The bite he’d given Sherlock was perfect. The wound was deep, but it was healing quickly – the scar would be flawless. “I feel how much you want to believe in me and how much you don’t – how you don’t dare let yourself. But you’ll see. You can trust me, Sherlock. I won’t let you down.”

“It’s just… you don’t know them.”

“It doesn’t matter, Sherlock. I know you.”

Chapter Text

Despite Sherlock’s expectations, they were not accosted by Mycroft’s car as they limped the several blocks to John’s flat. Every CCTV camera in sight turned their direction and followed their progress – making it obvious Mycroft saw them. But for once he didn’t interfere.

In some ways, that frightened Sherlock even more. Would they abandon him to the police? Allow him to be prosecuted for the riot? The deaths? Sherlock had no way to prove that Jim Moriarty had watered down his suppressant.

No, they couldn’t. As an Omega, Sherlock had almost no legal standing of his own – unbonded Omegas were wards of their closest Alpha blood relative. Mummy had been his legal guardian until he turned 18 and then she transferred guardianship to Mycroft. Reaching the age of majority meant nothing more than having his brother signing his legal documents and holding his trust fund hostage instead of his mother.

Legally, Mycroft had been responsible for Sherlock’s well-being – and by extension, any bad behavior – until the moment John had bitten his neck, sealing their bond. Now, by law, Sherlock belonged to his bondmate.

It galled him that he would never be considered an independent adult, that John would be blamed for anything Sherlock did. But it was still better than being under Mycroft’s thumb, the interfering git.

And John… if he had to have a guardian – the Omega laws weren’t going to change anytime soon, they’d only been freed from sequester fifty years ago. The equal employment act that made it possible for Omegas to have jobs (as pre-school teachers, pediatric nurses, nannies – certainly not as chemical engineers or mathematicians) was enacted only 17 years ago. At that pace, Omegas might be held responsible for their own actions sometime in the next 500 years.

If Sherlock had to have a guardian, he would not do better than John. Sherlock had bonded with him impulsively on the strength of his scent – the good-safe-yes! That had made him feel so comfortable with the Alpha.

In the days since, Sherlock had learned that John was the rare Alpha who regarded Omegas as full human beings. He wasn’t like Mycoft who claimed to respect Sherlock’s personhood – and to be fair, he had advocated for Sherlock loudly and often, getting him into a school no Omega had ever attended and feeding his insatiable curiosity with books and microscopes and other un-Omega-like things – whilst he micromanaged Sherlock’s life.

John asked him what he wanted to do, where he wanted to stay during the next few weeks that they would have to be together. He told Sherlock what was important to him – finishing medical school and his RAMC training – but he put no strictures on Sherlock. Sherlock was free to go with John or not, as he chose! If Sherlock decided he never wanted to see John again, John would respect that, no matter how much of a strain it was physically.

And with the empathetic link, Sherlock knew that John truly meant it. He was completely sincere. He didn’t just talk a big game, he walked it. He believed Sherlock should choose for himself what he wanted to do.

It was a stunning amount of freedom. And if it was still less than he deserved, it was more than he’d ever expected to have.

John held his hand as they walked. He was both tense and intensely proud – tense that any other Alpha be anywhere near his new mate, and intensely proud that his scent overlay Sherlock’s own, marking them bonded as clearly as the bite wound on Sherlock’s neck.

Other Alphas – and even larger Betas – gave them lots of room, stepping off the sidewalk, not looking directly at Sherlock, keeping their hands where John could see them. Everyone knew that newly bonded Alphas were touchy. It was common courtesy, drilled into children from their earliest years, that you kept your eyes and your distance from a newly bonded pair. No one needed to poke that bear. If you did, whatever happened was your own fault. The law was not on your side.

Thus, the walk felt interminable. Despite the hand-holding, Sherlock pined for more contact with John. Halfway there, John put his arm around Sherlock’s waist and pulled him close. They walked the rest of the way like that, pressed together.

When they finally got there, when they were up the three flights of stairs and Sherlock had picked the lock on the door – John’s keys were in the rucksack he had abandoned on the street – they stood inside and held each other for several minutes.

“Shower.” John said at length. “And clean clothes.”

“Yes.” Sherlock agreed.

He let John lead him to the loo where they stripped each other and climbed under the spray. John washed Sherlock thoroughly, lathering soap and running his hands over his slippery-wet skin, turning him around and cleaning his back, his arse and his legs.

“You’re sore.” John said.

“A little.” Sherlock admitted – he couldn’t hide it from John anyway.

“I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault.” Sherlock told him stoutly. “I didn’t even feel it until now. I have an ointment.”

John nodded – though Sherlock could still feel his guilt – and poured shampoo in his hand. He began to massage Sherlock’s scalp with it, working it into a lather as Sherlock moaned his appreciation. He didn’t even care that the shampoo smelled cheap, as long as John kept touching him that way.

After rinsing, John repeated the process with conditioner.

But something wasn’t right. John felt… guilty? Ashamed? What was it?

“What is it?” Sherlock asked him. “What’s changed?”

John chuckled ruefully. “The conditioner… a girl I was seeing left it here… I haven’t thought of her at all until right this minute.”

“Oh… right…” Sherlock said. Of course, John had a girlfriend! Someone like John probably had Beta girls falling all over him… Sherlock struggled to control the jealousy, shooting off like fireworks in his head…

“Stop it.” John commanded, wrapping his arms around his bondmate. “We weren’t serious. I’ll tell her I can’t see her anymore as soon as I get my phone back.”

“No… John… there’s no reason… after a week or so when we can stand to be apart, there’s no reason for you not to see her…” Many bonded Alphas had Beta mistresses. Sherlock would have to get used to it. Somehow.

“Quit being an idiot.” John said. “Of course, I can’t see her anymore. Even if you don’t want to live together, even if you only want to see me during your heats, you are my mate, Sherlock. There’s no one else for me now.”

John rinsed the hated conditioner from his hair. “We’ll get you some conditioner of your own.” He said. “Tomorrow. Today we’re staying in.” John stretched up and kissed Sherlock’s lips. “Jesus, your mouth.” He muttered.

Reassured (somewhat) Sherlock watched John wash himself, running the soap over his muscular body, sudsing his big Alpha cock and balls and rubbing the soap between his arse cheeks. He made quick work of it, cleaning himself efficiently, washing his hair and rinsing it almost before Sherlock registered he’d picked up the shampoo again. Then he was wrapping his arms around Sherlock and kissing him, humming into his mouth contentedly, kissing his jaw and the shell of his ear, rubbing his nose against Sherlock’s neck, scenting him, and licking the bond bite carefully so it would continue to heal – and to scar – properly.

Outside the tub, John wrapped a big towel around Sherlock and another round himself. Then he turned to the mirror. “I need to clean this out.” He said, prodding the angry scratches on his face. He produced a bottle of peroxide and cotton balls and winced as the peroxide bubbled in the wounds whilst Sherlock retrieved and applied his ointment.

“Need some help with that?” John asked mildly.

Sherlock handed him the tube with a baleful look and allowed him to spread the ointment inside of his arse, ostentatiously ignoring the bubbling amusement and lewd images that traveled through their empathetic link.

John washed his hands when he’d finished, then handed Sherlock a toothbrush still in its packaging. John put paste on his electric toothbrush and handed the tube to Sherlock. They cleaned their teeth.

John searched through the bottom drawer of his bureau and tossed Sherlock a pair of flannel pyjama bottoms and a soft t-shirt. They were too short, but Sherlock didn’t care. John donned sweatpants and another t-shirt and suddenly they were clean and comfortable.

“I’m starving.” John declared. “Let’s get a takeaway. What’s your pleasure: Thai? Chinese? Indian? Fish and chips?”

“Indian.” Sherlock said, and John opened his laptop and showed Sherlock the menu of the Indian place down the block. He ordered online then surrendered the laptop to his Omega. Sherlock cuddled against him on the couch and looked at the news for any good murders that had happened whilst they were sequestered. John drowsed on the low hum of Sherlock’s emotions – interest, irritation, fascination, disappointment. It looped around back to Sherlock tempered with John’s contentment.

Eventually, the street door buzzed. The takeaway had arrived. John displaced Sherlock from his chest and ran down the stairs to collect the food.

Immediately, Sherlock felt anxious. He should have gone with John! Being here alone was awful. Maybe… maybe John had run into the girlfriend on the stairs…

Then John was back, pressing his nose to Sherlock’s neck, scenting him, kissing their bond mark and everything was good and right again. Together they got plates and silverware. John set the takeaway out on his little table with a lascivious thought about bending Sherlock over said table.

Sherlock basked in it, reminding John subtly through their link that he was still sore. John laughed out loud. “I doubt I’ll be able to get it up for a week, at least. If you weren’t so gorgeous, sex would be the last thing on my mind right now.”

Sherlock pressed himself against John and kissed him and kissed him until their curries were getting cold. They took them to the couch and curled up together to eat and watch the news.

There was no mention of the riot that had happened only a week before.

Sherlock ate most of his curry and a bit of John’s, then he set down his plate and picked the laptop back up. He’d been without a phone or computer for a week and suddenly he couldn’t imagine how he’d managed. He heard John chuckling softly, felt his amusement. He received a detailed image of himself on his hands and knees with his face pressed into the mattress and his arse up, begging to be fucked. He elbowed his mate in the stomach.

John ran his thumb softly across the bond bite.

Abruptly there was a knock on the door.

It was loud and they both jumped. Sherlock frowned – visitors would buzz the street door… who would be inside the building? His first thought was the girlfriend, but he rejected it even before John’s negation. It was Mycroft. Of course, it was Mycroft.

John kissed him. “It will be fine.” He soothed. “Let’s get it over with… erm… stay over here, ok? Let me deal with him.”

“Yes.” Sherlock assented. Not because he couldn’t handle his brother. It simply wasn’t wise to get between two competing Alphas.

John took a deep breath and opened his door.

Mycroft stood there in his fussy suit, without, Sherlock noted, his customary umbrella. That shouldn’t surprise him, everyone knew not to knock on the door of a newly bonded Alpha with something that could be construed as a weapon in your hands.

John bristled instinctively at Mycroft taking an aggressive stance, Sherlock’s fear that his brother would take him from John fueling his inborn hostility.

“John Watson, I presume.” Mycroft said softly, keeping his eyes lowered and his hands still. He waited passively for John to reply. Sherlock felt his Alpha struggle with the impulse to attack first and ask questions later.

John cleared his throat. “You are my mate’s brother.” He said.

“Mycroft Holmes, at your service.”

“You aren’t taking him from me.” John stated flatly. Sherlock shivered at the danger crackling through their link.

“No, of course I’m not.” Sherlock felt his Alpha’s relief, but John showed no sign of it. He still stood assertively between Sherlock and his brother.

John nodded once. “Good.” He said, licking his lips. “That’s good.”

“I’m not here to disturb you or my brother, Mr. Watson. I simply wanted to ascertain Sherlock is safe and well in your care. May I?”

He’s asking permission to look at me, Sherlock realised, simultaneously thrilled and offended. John felt his ambivalence, clearly, and shared it.

“This is ridiculous.” John sighed. “Of course, you can.” But he didn’t move from where he stood, keeping himself between them.

“Thank you.” Mycroft murmured. He looked up and Sherlock met his eyes – and saw immediately that his brother wasn’t lying, he was not going to try to take him away. Sherlock saw his relief mirrored in John, his shoulders relaxing very slightly.

“There’s an Inspector Lestrade who needs to speak to you – to you both.” Mycroft said, dropping his sharp gaze back to the floor again. “I’ve asked him to wait a few days... but if you could...” He had a business card in his hand and held it out fractionally.

“About the riot.” Sherlock supplied, his heart sinking.

“I’ve spoken to him, made sure he understood it wasn’t your fault.”

“It wasn’t my fault.” Sherlock snapped.

“Erm, yeah.” John said. “We will.” He took the card, not bothering to look at it.

“He’s not an Alpha.” Mycroft said – unnecessarily, Sherlock thought with impatience, until he felt John’s release of tension.

John nodded briefly, shifting his weight forward. Mycroft had a duty of care – but John’s posture conveyed that he’d carried it out and needed to leave now.

“I also wanted to return this.” Mycroft indicated a rucksack at his feet. “The police recovered it, everything is accounted for, I assure you, Mr. Watson.”

“Right, erm, ta.”

“I’ve also brought a bag for Sherlock with some clothes, his phone and laptop – essentials, if you will.”

“Ok.” Sherlock felt John bristling once again – this was taking too long.

“Go away, Mycroft.” Sherlock said. His brother wasn’t trying to take him now, but he had an agenda – Mycroft always had an agenda.

“I shall.” Mycroft replied. “Just one more thing… I need to thank you, Mr. Watson, for saving my brother’s life.”

“You don’t need to thank me for that.” John growled.

“Unfortunately, I do. Sherlock was endangered by an unconscionable error on my part. I am in your debt.” Mycroft bowed his head lower in submission. “I am beyond grateful that his care has passed to such capable hands.”

Sherlock stared in utter shock. Mycroft had admitted making a mistake!

“Don’t look so surprised, little brother. There’s always a first time.” He smiled very briefly.

Sherlock scoffed.

“That’s enough now.” John said, warning in his voice.

Mycroft nodded once and backed away slowly. At the top of the stairs, he paused. Sherlock felt John smother a snarl of frustration.

Without looking up, Mycroft addressed the other Alpha. “Perhaps in a week or two, when you’re both feeling up to it, we can have dinner. Mummy is eager to meet you.” Sherlock huffed impatiently. “And… there are some… legal matters to discuss.”

Legal matters? Mycroft wouldn’t waste his time trying to wrest guardianship from John through the courts – the law supported the bondmate’s claim over family in every instance. Even, unfortunately, if the Alpha was abusive. By bonding with John, Sherlock had very neatly sidestepped both Moriarty and his overbearing brother.

“What legal matters?” Sherlock blurted. John’s fists were clenched tightly, his body stiff with stress, but Sherlock had to know.

“Your trust fund, dear brother.” Mycroft smarmed. “Surely, you’ve told your mate that your… dowry, shall we say… is considerable.”

Sherlock was furious – at himself as much as at Mycroft. He should have known his brother would use his trust fund as a wedge between he and John. He’d used it to try to control Sherlock for years.

“No.” John said.

Mycroft looked at him questioningly. “No?”

“No, he didn’t tell me and no, it makes no difference to me. Sherlock’s money is Sherlock’s to do with what he wants. I know the law says that I’m his guardian now, but that law is… it’s… it’s insulting! To both of us! Whatever is due to Sherlock, have your lawyers write up something that gives him sole control of it. I’ll sign it.”

Mycroft regarded John closely. “Are you sure? You aren’t a rich man…”

John cut him off. “I don’t know why Sherlock chose me, Mr. Holmes, if it was just his desperation to escape the fate you’d selected for him, or if there was something more. But I would not have bonded with him without his express permission. There are a lot of Alphas who probably would take advantage – bite him during his heat when he’s compromised. But I know how to control myself, Mr. Holmes. I never would have bonded with him if we hadn’t discussed it before the hormones took over. Maybe that’s moot to you, but it means a great deal to me. I take my responsibility to him seriously – very seriously. The way I see it, it’s my responsibility – my duty – to ensure his self-determination. Because the bloody law doesn’t do it. You haven’t done it – I’m sure you’ve done your best, Mr. Holmes, but you infantilise him, just like the government infantilises him. Sherlock is… I’ve never met anyone like Sherlock – he’s fantastic and stunning and brilliant. He’s an amazing person and I trust him. I trust that he knows what’s best for himself. And I will always do everything in my power to make sure that he can make his own choices.” John stopped himself and passed a hand over his face. “Have the papers or whatever drawn up saying that Sherlock has my bloody permission to do whatever the fuck he wants with his own damn money. If you don’t, I will. Good-bye, Mr. Holmes.”

Mycroft opened his mouth as if to reply, thought better of it, nodded once and proceeded down the stairs.

John waited until he street door opened and closed before he pulled his rucksack and Sherlock’s valise into his flat and closed the door. He bolted it with a satisfying ‘thunk,’ then leaned back against the door and sagged. John held his arms out to Sherlock. The Omega immediately snuggled against his Alpha mate, laying his head on John’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry.” John said sighing.

“For what? You were magnificent.” Sherlock felt John’s agitation slowly begin to dissipate… but there was something more there… something older…

“What happened to your sister?” Sherlock asked softly.

John caressed Sherlock’s hair, his fingers falling to the bond mark and lingering there. It was deeply soothing.

“Someday I’ll tell you… but that’s not a story for this week. This week is about us.”

Sherlock sighed and pressed himself closer to John. “Mycroft probably put bugs in our bags anyway.”

“What? Really?” Sherlock felt his astonishment. “Who is your brother?!”

“Mycroft is the force behind the British government among other things, but he’s the face of nothing. He’s the most dangerous person you’ll ever meet.”

“Jesus.” John held him more tightly, his hands traveling over his back. “What… is that my gun!?” John turned Sherlock with strong hands and plucked the handgun from the waistband of his pyjamas. He held it up radiating righteous anger tinged liberally with fear for Sherlock’s safety. “It’s loaded! I don’t keep it loaded.” He removed the clip and stuffed it in his pocket.

“It wouldn’t do much good empty.” Sherlock said.

“Were you that afraid of your brother?”

Instead of answering, Sherlock tucked his face against his Alpha’s neck and pressed himself back against his chest. John’s arms encircled him again.

It might be against the law, against biology and against all reason, but Sherlock had expected Mycroft to take him back to Sherrinford, to work out some way to cut him off from John and bond him with Jim Moriarty. He’d dreaded seeing his brother again. That Mycroft hadn’t done those things, that he’d actually admitted that Moriarty was a mistake… Sherlock felt like sobbing at the unexpected reprieve. He clung to his Alpha.

“I wouldn’t have let him take you.” John assured him. “Please, don’t take my gun, Sherlock. If you feel threatened, please, just tell me. Yeah?”

“I know how to use a gun.” Sherlock said defensively.

“But I don’t know that.” John said, stepping away from him. The Omega felt the loss keenly. “This is my service weapon, Sherlock. I don’t let anyone touch it who I don’t know for 100% certain is certified.” John sighed deeply. “This isn’t an Alpha-Omega thing, Sherlock. If you feel you need a gun to defend yourself, then we’ll get you a gun. We’ll do it tomorrow then we’ll go to the range and practice so you can be completely comfortable with it. I’m going to put this away.”

Sherlock watched him leave the room.

The explosion took him completely by surprise.

Chapter Text

John came back to himself slowly struggling to remember where he was.

He couldn’t... there was nothing.

His hands were tied behind his back, and his ankles were bound. John tested the bonds and plastic cut into his wrists. Zip ties then.

How had he gotten here? John looked around... it was dim... he lay on a hard floor... he smelled chlorine...

John shook himself in confusion. He hurt... he ached all over...

He set that aside. What was the last thing he could remember? He’d work back from there. He’d been in his flat... with Sherlock! The bonding, the heat, the riot – it all came back in a flash. Where was Sherlock!? John thrashed vainly against the hard, plastic bonds – he HAD TO get to Sherlock! It was imperative!

John forced himself to stop writhing around on the floor. It was difficult – every fibre of his being screamed at him that he needed to be with his mate, needed to protect him!

But if he kept this up he’d injure himself – if he didn’t hyperventilate and pass out first – and be completely useless to his Omega.

John counted out his breaths, slowing them. He consciously relaxed his muscles. He reminded himself that if he panicked, Sherlock would feel it through their empathetic link – if he were in trouble too, the last thing he needed was to agitate him more.

The link! Maybe he could use it. Regardless of distance, John would have known if Sherlock had been killed or if he were hurt. Clearly, he was alive – John just knew that.

But was he hurt? John ached... that could simply be because they were apart. He hoped so.

Could he send a message? He didn’t know. John had heard all sorts of things about what empathetic links could and couldn’t do. He hadn’t thought about any of it since his link with Sherlock was formed – it had seemed completely natural, not invasive or overwhelming. It felt like a part of himself he’d been missing.

John concentrated. Yes! There – he could isolate Sherlock’s emotions from his own. His mate was outraged and fearful. John calmed himself again, shoving down his instinctive response. Sherlock was not panicked or in pain. Not right now.

He sent concern, he sent care, and John sent curiosity. Then he brought Mycroft’s smoky-whisky scent to mind and let it fill his senses.

Negation. This, whatever it was, wasn’t Sherlock’s brother.

John began experiencing another scent. It was dark and a little bitter. It was coal in the ocean. It was black and spreading and it was the cause of Sherlock’s fear.

Inky... that’s how Sherlock had described the scent of the Alpha his brother had chosen for him, the Alpha he’d rejected.

There was more, an uncomfortable sensation in his hair and on his face. The Alpha was touching John’s mate! John snarled and thrashed in frustration.

The man Sherlock accused of tampering with his scent suppressant, causing the riot that had killed two people and wounded dozens of others was touching his Omega!

Once again, John calmed himself through sheer force of will, counting out his breaths, three in through his nose, four out through his mouth. Three in through his nose…

Having been denied Sherlock, this was the Alpha’s reaction – kidnapping the Omega and his mate.

John really did have to free himself, and quickly. This man – Moriarty, his name was Moriarty – his motivations could only be nefarious. John couldn’t help but panic a little, feeling the loathsome, nauseating touch in his hair again.

John had been exploring the room in which he was being held whilst he worked all this out, rolling along the tiled floor, searching for something sharp enough to cut through the zip ties. He was still counting out his breaths to keep his panic at bay, still forcing his fury down. The last thing he needed right now was for his base instincts to turn him into a complete raging mess.

John discovered a stack of broken tile in the corner. It was the work of minutes to find one with a sharp edge, ease it into his hands and saw through the zip tie.

Hands free, John sawed frantically at the bindings around his ankles. Able to sit up and see what he was doing, it didn’t take long.

He knew Sherlock felt his jubilation – his Omega was transmitting caution and fear.

John explored the room again – standing this time – and quickly found the door. He pushed it open, wincing as it creaked, and crept silently out on his bare feet. He was on the deck of an indoor pool, the water reflecting the few lights dizzily.

“So good of you to join us, Johnny boy.” A voice sang out. John turned – there was Sherlock, kneeling next to the pool. A slight man in a good suit was petting his Omega’s head, running his fingers through Sherlock’s beautiful curls. “Took you long enough.”

John was on him in three strides, punching the other Alpha in the face, knocking him to the deck. John had a fistful of the man’s shirtfront, pulling him up for a beating when a small red dot danced across John’s chest. Two more joined it, settling over his heart. The slight Alpha made an exaggerated ‘uh-oh’ face. John let go.

He stepped back and saw a red laser targeting dot on Sherlock’s forehead. John’s blood ran cold.

“Good, Johnny boy!” The Alpha gloated. “Good!” He climbed slowly to his feet. “He’s a feisty one, Sherlock. I see why you like him.”

“Leave him alone.” Sherlock said tersely.

“Hush now, darling, the Alphas are talking.”

“Don’t talk to him that way!” John snapped. He felt resignation from Sherlock, it upset John more than the fear had.

“Why not, Johnny boy? Yes, he’s very bright, very entertaining... but at the end of the day, he’s just an Omega.”

John bit back a retort. Up close, the small Alpha’s scent was oppressive... coal dissolving in salt water... inky-black. It polluted his nostrils. “Moriarty.” John said.

The Alpha grinned. “I don’t even have to introduce myself. But then, we’ve met before, haven’t we Johnny?”

“Have we?” John bit out.

“You don’t remember? I remember you, little Johnny snarling and fighting the other Alphas, trying to defend his sister’s honour. Such a good brother. Too bad it didn’t make a difference in the end.”

“You? You were there?”

“I don’t like to get my hands dirty, I let the other Alphas do the fighting.”

“I’m going to kill you.” John vowed. Sherlock’s fear buzzed through their link.

“You shouldn’t take it so hard, Johnny boy. Your sister wasn’t under your care when it happened. At least not officially. Not like Sherlock here.” Moriarty caressed the Omega’s cheek.

John ground his teeth. He felt the wrongness of the touch in the pit of his stomach, a roiling nausea. “What do you want, Moriarty? Why are you doing this?”

“Did you know,” Moriarty asked contemplatively. “Omegas are only 8% of the population? Alphas make up 39%. Bit of a disparity, that. Especially as there isn’t an Alpha alive that doesn’t want to fuck an Omega in heat. And once you’ve had an Omega, Betas don’t quite cut it anymore, do they, Johnny boy?” Moriarty sniggered unpleasantly. “Your own father always regretted settling for a Beta. Did he ever tell you that?” Moriarty paused a moment, but when John didn’t answer, he went on. “So you see, Johnny, Omegas are a commodity. A very lucrative commodity.”

“Is that what you do?” John growled. “Traffic Omegas?” Through his own fury, John felt Sherlock’s horror.

“Not exclusively. That would be boring.”

“God forbid you be bored.” John snapped.

“You don’t understand!” The Alpha screamed, shocking John. “No one understands…” He moaned. “Except Sherlock. You understand, don’t you, darling?” He leaned close to John’s mate – too close, his lips brushing his cheek. John’s stomach churned. “You know what it’s like, being bored.”

“Is that what you were going to do? Sell Sherlock? Pimp him out?” John blurted, hoping desperately to distract Moriarty from touching his mate.

“Oh no. Sherlock was special. I was going to bond with him. Not quite 18% of Omegas are male. And they have difficulty giving birth, you know. Well, of course you know, Sherlock. You’re your father’s son, after all. Male Omegas are the rarest of the rare. They’re nature’s most interesting perversion.

“And this one is so beautiful. I would have wanted him even if he weren’t a genius – and he is a genius, Johnny boy. A proper genius. Not just ‘smart for an Omega.’ That brother of his had him educated too – educated like an Alpha. Rather stupid of him if you ask me, why give an Omega a taste of what they can never have? It makes them uppity. Although it is more fun to break the uppity ones.

“Just look at him. What a prize he is! What a jewel he would have been in my crown!” Moriarty mused. Then his eyes narrowed and his voice turned mean. “Too bad he didn’t know his place!”

“You knew I’d run.” Sherlock said. “You tampered with my suppressant.”

“You didn’t think you’d fooled me with your little act, did you? That last night. You smelled so delicious... if I couldn’t have you, thought I might as well share you out with… well with everyone.”

“People died!” John said, his outrage plain.

“That’s what people DO!” Jim screamed. “Don’t tell me you actually care, Sherlock, it’s so boring! Of course, Johnny boy here cares. He even smells like a Boy Scout, handy and oh-so-loyal. Ever ready to rescue a damsel in distress. That’s about all he’s good for. That and shoving his cock where it doesn’t belong.” Moriarty pressed his nose against the Omega’s neck. “Johnny’s ruined your scent, darling. You should have bonded with me. You would never have been bored again.”

“You would have destroyed me.” Sherlock said softly.

“Oh Sherlock, I’m still going to destroy you.” Moriarty crowed. He stared at John for a long moment then stepped back, away from Sherlock. “But not right away.” He said. He turned his back carelessly and slouched to the exit. There, he looked back and surveyed the tableau: Sherlock on his knees next to the pool, reflected water dancing across his cheek; John, fists clenched, jaw tight, staring at him murderously.

“No. Not right away.” Moriarty sang. “I’m going to wait, let you spend time with the dull-as-dirt mate you’ve taken, maybe let you have a couple brats. And then, when you’re comfortable, when you’re ruined by sentiment, when you're booooring, then I’ll destroy you.” Moriarty’s voice lost its casual sing-song tone and turned hard. “I’ll take everything you love. I’ll take Johnny, I’ll take the brats. I’ll burn you, Sherlock. I’ll burn the heart out of you.

“Cheerio!” Moriarty sang cheerfully and walked out of the exit.

The second the door closed, the laser targets disappeared and John ran to Sherlock. “Are you ok?” He demanded, helping him stand. “What did he do to you?” John’s arms slid around his Omega and he buried his face in his neck, scenting him. The inky blackness of Moriarty was dissipating, leaving Sherlock’s sweet honey scent overlayed with John’s cut grass/growing things/hot summer’s day. It smelled right.

Sherlock clung to John, but he felt his mate’s deep ambivalence.

“Don’t.” John said, stepping back. “Don’t pull away from me – not because of him.”

“I’m thinking... I need to THINK.” Sherlock said, distracted.

John tugged his arm. “Come on, we need to get out of here – call the police.”

“It won’t make any difference, John.” Sherlock said, starting to pace. “You heard him, he doesn’t get his hands dirty. He’ll be out there – he’s a spider in the middle of a vast web...”

“So we’re supposed to be unhappy our whole lives because that crazy person threatened us?” John asked.

Sherlock continued pacing, running his hands through his hair. “You don’t understand. You don’t know what he’s capable of.” He said. He sounded preoccupied, distressed – and he was, his emotions churning.

“Sherlock, you heard what he said. You heard what that bastard does to Omegas! We have to tell somebody. We have to stop him!”

His Omega looked at him finally, his eyes dark in the dim light. “Yes... you’re right... you’re right... but not the police, they can’t stop him.”

“Who then?”

“My brother.” Sherlock growled, and John felt the complex turmoil through their link take on a new flavour.