“Miss Sawyer? We can take you home now,” the woman police constable says gently, gesturing to the waiting squad car.
“Sherlock’s calling a cab,” John says, tightening his arm a little around Sarah’s blanket-draped shoulders. “We’ll take you.”
She turns her head to look at him with wide, empty eyes and a gradually forming frown.
“You want me to – as if it’s – ” she fumbles.
John’s soft look of empathy sharpens to real concern.
“Sarah, are you okay? I mean, you are okay, it’s over now.”
She shakes her head fractionally.
“I can’t – I need – I’ll see you at work, John,” she says, unmistakable apology in her voice.
John catches his breath and tilts his head in mute appeal, but she lets herself be taken from him and settled into the back seat of the squad car. The door closes on her, and John can only stand and watch as she’s driven away.
“That was a bit unsatisfactory,” Sherlock announces, coming to stand at John’s side. “But I’m counting it as a win, all things considered.”
John looks at him, a hint of anger in his eyes before understanding dawns.
“You mean the case,” he says. “Because the date? Was an unmitigated bloody disaster.”
“Oh,” Sherlock says, lifting his eyebrows slightly. “Was it?”
John presses his lips together, and rocks his weight on his heels a little.
“Well, my flat-mate invited himself along, and started a fistfight,” he says evenly. “Both of which I thought she handled with considerable aplomb. Then she was kidnapped and almost killed, which I think was a bit more than she was really up for.”
Sherlock exhales nasally, retracts his chin a little between the points of his coat collar.
“Memorable’s good for a first date,” he says. “Besides, she ought to know what she’s getting involved in.”
“I was hoping she was getting involved in me.”
“That’s what I meant,” Sherlock says silkily.
John scowls, but then huffs his breath out and clasps his hand over the lower half of his face. He wipes his hand downwards, revealing a sheepish smile.
“Yes, all right, I see your point,” he says.
“I knew you’d have scruples regarding … bystanders,” Sherlock says.
Sherlock’s mouth curls slightly, acknowledging the correction.
“She could have been killed,” John says carefully.
“So could I, so … well done.”
John shakes his head slightly, but his mouth tucks up at the corners.
“You did realize Shan wasn’t going to kill you?” Sherlock says more seriously. “There’d be no reason for them to take you from Baker Street, otherwise. They would have just killed you there.”
“I suppose,” John says. “But logic doesn’t really negate the effect of someone putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger.”
Sherlock considers the knife-flash gleam of John’s eyes, and the bright tension of his facial muscles.
“Good,” Sherlock says.
John’s smile widens guiltily.
“Sixteen,” Sherlock says very softly.
John’s eyes sharpen, his smile blurs, but he nods.
“First one using a circus prop, though,” he says, eyes vivid with humor. “That’s got to be worth something.”
“Definitely – I’ll pay for the cab,” Sherlock grins.
Sherlock pauses to take off his scarf and coat, and hang them up. There’s a solidly filled brown paper bag sitting on the third step of the stairs leading up to the flat.
“The takeaway,” John says. “Missus Hudson must have taken it in.”
“Thank God,” Sherlock says, picking the bag up and unfurling the top. “I’m too hungry to breathe. God, are you both on a diet? There isn’t enough here to – ”
He stops talking to scoop food from a carton to his mouth with his fingers.
“You can have mine, too,” John says as he passes Sherlock. “I think I’m off Chinese for a bit.”
Sherlock smirks. He follows John up the stairs, closing the door with his elbow as he scoops up another mouthful of food. John sheds his suit jacket as he goes up the second flight of stairs to his room, while Sherlock goes through to the kitchen. He takes a last bite of food before putting the bag down among the clutter on the kitchen table. John comes down the stairs again, a slight metallic rattle overlaying the sound of his footsteps. Sherlock sucks his thumb and first two fingers clean. John goes into the bathroom, but Sherlock doesn’t hear the door close.
“So the case is over?” John says, raising his voice a bit. “Only, we don’t actually have the … treasure.”
“Detail,” Sherlock says, coming out onto the landing. “We’ll tie up the loose ends tomorrow. I’ve solved the puzzle; that’s the important part.”
The bathroom door is standing open. John’s leaning over the sink, examining the gash on his temple in the mirror. There’s a gray metal box resting on the toilet. Sherlock leans one shoulder against the doorframe.
“Bugger, that’s going to need stitching,” John mutters.
He’s already cleaned the blood off the side of his face with supplies from a police first-aid box, but there’s a crust of blood around the edges of the gash, and a browning blood-stain on the collar of his shirt. He unbuttons his shirt, strips it off and tosses it onto the laundry bin. He’s wearing a white tee-shirt underneath, and there’s a blood spot on the neck of that, too. The blurred green and black lower curve of his tattoo shows just below the edge of his left sleeve. He lifts the lid of the metal box to reveal an impressively well-stocked medical kit, selects a small glass bottle and a wrapped syringe.
“You keep one per cent lidocaine and epinephrine as a first aid supply,” Sherlock says, amusement creasing the corner of his mouth.
“Full service combat kit,” John says as he unwraps and fills the syringe, “except for the morphine and the assault rifle.”
He leans close to the mirror and lifts the syringe. He inserts the needle a little way above the gash and presses the plunger a bit. He withdraws the needle, places it again a little below the gash, and injects a bit more anesthetic. He ejects the rest into the sink, snaps the needle off the syringe and dumps it into the trash. He runs water into the sink, bends over and starts washing the side of his face. Sherlock contemplates the curve of John’s spine, the slight forward and back movement of his hips as he scoops water with his hands and brings it to his face.
“Throw me a clean towel, would you?” John says, one hand outstretched.
Sherlock pushes away from the doorframe. He picks up a towel from the pile next to the tub, steps closer to John, and puts the towel into his hand.
John dips his face into the towel and then emerges, hair bristled damply at the front, and the gash glistening with fresh blood.
“I could probably stitch, if you told me how,” Sherlock says, as John lays out forceps, scissors, and three ready-packed sutures on the back of the sink.
“You’re not learning on my face,” John says mildly, pulling on a pair of sterile gloves.
Sherlock leans his hip against the rim of the sink, and watches John’s reflection. John seems unmoved by the scrutiny. He snaps open a suture pack, takes up the forceps, and starts work. Sherlock’s eyes follow the tips of the forceps, and then the points of the needles, and the blood-streaked tips of John’s gloved fingers.
“Have you done this before? Stitched yourself?” Sherlock asks when John’s clipping the tails off the last neat knot.
“No. And at the risk of disappointing you, I feel I should tell you that I didn’t take the bullet out of my own shoulder, either,” John says as he strips his gloves off.
“Oh,” Sherlock says. “I’m crushed.”
John smiles at him in the mirror as he dabs blood off his temple one last time. He adds a couple of pieces of tape to the shallow ends of the gash, and covers the sutures with a band-aid.
“All done,” he says.
He moves away from the sink, throwing used supplies into the trash, wiping his instruments with alcohol and returning them to their proper places in the kit.
… impossible to replicate randomness, and therefore foolish to even try …
“All done, nothing more to see here,” John says again, when he sees that Sherlock hasn’t moved from his spot by the sink.
So Sherlock does move. He rocks his body weight forwards, and takes the single step necessary to put himself into John’s space. John’s smile vanishes, replaced by careful, narrow-mouthed stillness. Sherlock lifts his hands, takes hold of John’s arms just below his tee-shirt sleeves.
John tilts his head, eyes wary … or possibly warning. Sherlock bends his head a little, bringing his mouth closer to John’s. John’s eyes slice sideways, a motionless negation.
“You and me,” he says, his voice rough. “That was very clearly a one time thing.”
… ferrous … magnetic …
Sherlock’s body touches John’s, just a whisper of clothing against clothing.
“The thing about one time things,” John says, “is that they only happen one time.”
Sherlock eases forwards another centimeter or two, just enough to bring the hardness of his cock against John’s stomach into focus. John’s eyes shutter closed, and then snap open again.
“Would you prefer if I – found someone else tonight?” Sherlock breathes.
“No, that’s – that’s fine,” John says, his hands slipping around Sherlock’s waist, tugging him in close enough to feel the push of John’s erection against his inner thigh.
John's eyes soften a little, go hooded.
“I’m just trying to understand the rules.”
“There are rules?” Sherlock murmurs, his mouth curling as he presses his thumbs into John’s biceps and dips his face closer to John’s.
John pulls his chin back.
“There certainly seem to be,” he says, his voice firm. “And you seem to be the one making them.”
Sherlock inhales, exhales.
“In that case the rule is … one time things sometimes happen twice,” he says softly.
John’s eyelids drop, lift again deliberately. He lifts one hand from Sherlock’s waist, slips it around the nape of Sherlock’s neck, his thumb pressing at the corner of Sherlock’s jaw. He brings his nose and mouth to Sherlock’s throat, not kissing, just breathing against him, heat and humidity sliding on Sherlock’s skin. Sherlock’s pulse is skittering, his breath coming quickly and unevenly.
John’s fingertips bite into Sherlock’s nape as he smears his chin up Sherlock’s throat. John’s skin is satiny from a second shave and the lotion he never bothers to use. And then his mouth breaks open against Sherlock’s skin, his teeth raking the underside of Sherlock’s jaw, the corner of his mouth, the bow of his top lip.
“Yes,” Sherlock gasps, and John hooks his tongue between Sherlock’s teeth, stabs it into his mouth.
For a moment they’re just pushing at each other, clutching, trying to find an angle of mouth against mouth and body against body that will give them enough contact. Then John shoves Sherlock off a little, opening enough space for his hands between them. They’re still locked mouth to mouth, lips sliding messily and teeth clashing enough for Sherlock to taste the copper-bloom of blood over the heat of John’s tongue. John yanks Sherlock’s jacket off his shoulders, down his arms, and flings it away in some indeterminate direction. He jerks Sherlock’s shirt up out of his belt, then pulls the two sides of the shirt apart, not undoing buttons, just yanking until buttons or buttonholes yield in twos and threes. He jerks the shirt down and back, hard enough to make Sherlock hiss momentarily as the cloth binds tightly into the thin skin of one inner arm. There’s an ominous patter of parting stitches as John pulls hard enough to get the still buttoned cuffs off over Sherlock’s hands.
They stumble, lurch, more or less catch their mutual balance again as Sherlock’s back strikes the wall. The impact knocks their mouths apart. Sherlock’s head falls up and back, and John’s mouth smears, slides down Sherlock’s neck, out along one collarbone, and he sinks his teeth sweetly into Sherlock’s shoulder.
“God -- yes,” Sherlock says, one hand cupping John’s skull and the other curling around his hip.
John’s hands are pulling Sherlock apart, fingers scoring along his ribs, thumbs smearing his nipples, each callus on John’s palms tracing a separate thread of fire on Sherlock’s skin. His mouth blossoms heated kisses and bright-edged bites over Sherlock’s chest and shoulders.
“God – God,” Sherlock pants, rolling his head from side to side feverishly.
“Christ,” John growls, rubbing his face – his cheekbones and forehead and the bridge of his nose – on Sherlock’s skin.
Sherlock grabs a fistful of John’s tee shirt and pulls it up out of his belt. John shoves back a bit, leaving Sherlock to clutch at the flat of the wall as if he’s incapable of staying upright without the press of John’s body against his. John strips his tee shirt off, all angling elbows and rounded spine.
Under the bright light of the bathroom, John’s scars are stunning: an exploding star of taut, deep red skin on his chest, with pocks and dashes radiating out and down around his ribs. Sherlock moans, a thick vibration of sound, and falls forwards against John’s chest. His hands clasp the tips of John’s shoulders; he stoops to bring his open mouth to the center of the star. John’s breath rips out through his nostrils; his fingers sink into Sherlock’s hair and wind tight. Sherlock’s hands slip around John’s shoulders, fingers splaying towards his spine. When his fingertips skid on the neat circle of scar at John’s shoulder blade, he gasps against John’s skin.
John’s passive under Sherlock's hands and lips, though his breath is surging and his fingers are stingingly tight in Sherlock’s hair. Sherlock’s hands slip down John’s spine and around the line of his belt to his buckle. Sherlock tries to bend lower, tries to bring his mouth to the scars scattered on John’s ribs, but the difference in their heights is impossible. Sherlock shifts his feet, setting them outside John’s, presses his spine into the wall and slithers downwards until he’s sitting on his heels, knees splayed so that his thighs are spread on either side of John’s legs. Sherlock pushes his face against John’s stomach, sleeking his cheek from navel to ribs.
“Fucking – Jesus,” John rasps.
Sherlock lowers his knees to the floor, pushes up off his heels. His mouth traces the fragments of scarring on John’s side, while his hands smooth down the fronts of John’s thighs, the prickle of polyester a burning irritation against his fingertips.
“Take these off,” Sherlock says. “For the love of God take these off.”
John brings both hands to his belt, working the leather out of the buckle while Sherlock hooks his fingers into the waistband of John’s pants. John flicks his button open, peels his zipper apart, and Sherlock’s working pants and underwear down. John’s cock falls free, flexes stiffly to an almost perfect horizontal. The smell – warm and dark and sharp – makes Sherlock’s body pulse with greed. He can taste that smell, metallic and persistent, and it makes his mouth water.
John steadies himself with his hand on the wall while he heels his shoes off. Sherlock scoops them out of the way, peels John’s socks off and slides the whole bundle of pants and underwear and socks out from around John’s feet and shoves it aside. Sherlock rubs his face across John’s hip, both hands molding the curves at the back of thighs, knees, calves.
Sherlock’s eyes are half-closed, vision a dim kaleidoscope round of skin and fair brown hair and more skin. John rocks his weight forwards slightly, draws his hip aside to nudge his cock against Sherlock’s cheek. Sherlock opens his mouth, tongue swiping out to lick the side of John’s shaft. John’s breathing breaks, a sound like a grunt but thinner, more dissatisfied. He curves his hand over his cock, pushes the shaft down until the head wipes into Sherlock’s open mouth. The taste is a spark-shock on Sherlock’s nerves, bright and burning. He lifts his chin, slides his mouth down, pulls back, slides his mouth up until he’s holding just the head on his tongue: satin, peach flesh, the taste of low tide.
Sherlock slides his mouth up and down, quick, light. John’s breath is tearing, twisting, and his thighs shake under Sherlock’s hands. Sherlock pushes down, sucks hard, secretion slippery on his tongue, the taste intense for a second and then blurring.
“Don’t,” John says sharply, one hand on Sherlock’s head.
Sherlock looks up, meets John’s eyes.
“If you want me to fuck you, you can’t do that.”
Sherlock flicks his eyelids in acknowledgment, softens his mouth, slides tongue and teeth luxuriously along John’s shaft. John’s stomach flexes; he fists his hand, pressing his knuckles against the wall.
Sherlock opens his mouth wider, so that John’s cock is just lying on his tongue. John’s eyes widen, darken, stare in consuming fascination. Sherlock licks, circles his tongue around John’s glans. John’s cock hardens even more, bobbing against the open circle of Sherlock’s lips.
“Oh … Christ,” John says softly. “That’s … that’s … ”
Sherlock pulls back, John’s cock trailing a little smear of secretion onto his upper lip. John crouches down, goes onto his knees. He clasps a hand at the nape of Sherlock’s neck and holds him -- pins him -- in place while his mouth smears and savages Sherlock’s. John’s body weight pushes Sherlock’s back to the wall; Sherlock manages to unfold one knee, and then the other, so he’s sitting on the floor with his legs splayed on either side of John.
“You – naked,” John says against Sherlock’s mouth, and there’s four hands trying to coordinate getting the rest of Sherlock’s clothes off with no one looking at what they’re doing.
They bundle clothing out of the way, fling shoes clear out the door onto the landing. Sherlock writhes and wriggles and manages to get his underwear off without breaking the connection of mouth and mouth, but then John wrenches away and Sherlock’s about to protest when he sees that John’s grabbing for the tub of petroleum jelly that constitutes his entire skin-care repertoire.
“Turn around,” John says. “Get on your knees again.”
Sherlock draws his legs up, rolls onto one hip and then up onto his knees as he turns to face the wall. He rests one forearm against the cold tiles.
“Wider,” John says, his knee pushing at the inside of Sherlock's thigh.
Sherlock spreads his knees farther apart to compensate for his greater height. He drops his forehead against his forearm.
John’s fingers slide into the cleft of Sherlock’s behind. It's a weird warm non-contact for a second because of the thick smear of lubricant, and then the texture of John’s skin comes into focus instead. John shifts in closer, his body a stripe of warmth from Sherlock’s spine to his knees. His fingers circle into Sherlock’s anus, thrust straight in. Sherlock gasps. John pulls his fingers out again, and leans back enough to open a cold chasm between their bodies. Sherlock flexes his hand, fists it.
“Now,” he breathes. “Now … now.”
“Jesus,” John mutters, but he’s there, his thighs pressing at the backs of Sherlock’s legs and his cock nudging between Sherlock’s buttocks.
Sherlock can’t make himself wait, he’s already lifting his tailbone and pushing back and John’s cock pierces him, slides in, slides deep.
“Christ, you’re going to fucking kill me, aren’t you?” John growls, but he leans and his cock drives the rest of the way in.
He keeps himself deep and still while lightning flashes and crackles through Sherlock’s body.
“Move. For God’s sake, John – move.”
John pulls back, and that’s enough sensation to unlock Sherlock’s breath in his chest. And then John shoves forwards, a sharp snap of his hips that drives Sherlock’s breath out of his open mouth in a full-blooded cry. His body lurches forward under the impact.
John pulls back, and this time Sherlock feels every molecule of his body dragging in the outward tide. John shoves in again. Sherlock’s breath breaks in a loud groan. John catches him by the hips, and when he shoves forwards the next time he yanks Sherlock back to meet him, and Sherlock just roars with pleasure.
The sensations are a cacophony ringing through Sherlock’s body. He braces one hand on the wall, the other fisted around his glans and pumping in counterpoint to John’s thrusts. His orgasm starts to hum low down in his guts.
“No,” Sherlock gasps, dropping his hand from the wall and reaching back, clutching at John’s thigh. “Not yet.”
John’s thrusts turn smoother and slower. Sherlock’s orgasm starts to blur apart again as he grips the base of his own cock tightly.
“Say when,” John murmurs.
Sherlock nods, incapable of words. John surges behind him, and Sherlock can barely breathe around the intensity. The muscles of his thighs are burning; his calf cramps but the pain can barely make itself felt over the pleasure. Sherlock’s distantly aware of the sounds coming out of his own mouth, ground out groans and fragments of cries. He’s close, dangerously close. He grips John’s thigh tightly; John stills completely. Sherlock’s body strains toward completion, but then the threatening tremors fade again.
“Jesus, you feel amazing,” John says, pressing his forehead against Sherlock’s shoulder.
“Don’t stop this time,” Sherlock says, his voice thick in his throat. “Keep fucking me until I come from it.”
John’s breath surges out, hot against Sherlock’s skin. He tightens his hold on Sherlock’s hipbones. He thrusts deeply again. Instantly, Sherlock’s body winds tight. He doesn’t need to stroke himself, just the pressure of his hand around his cock is enough. He feels his orgasm first as deep contractions around John’s cock, and after several seconds the sharper pleasure of his semen spewing from his cock, and the deep thudding contractions go on afterwards, strong and steady and then fading slowly, leaving his body still humming.
“Jesus,” John says, one hand dipping from Sherlock’s hip to his thigh to smooth the stripe of semen across his skin. “Christ, that was – that was beautiful.”
Sherlock takes his hand from John’s thigh, wipes sweat-limp hair off his own forehead.
“Do you need me to stop?” John says.
Sherlock inhales fiercely, his hand going back to John’s hip.
“If you try to stop,” Sherlock says huskily, “I’ll kill you.”
John’s amusement is little more than a nasal exhalation.
“Come down,” he murmurs, hands on Sherlock’s stomach to keep him close.
They ease downwards together, John sitting on his own heels, Sherlock kneeling in his lap with his knees splayed outside John’s. The angle’s different, John’s cock sitting more shallowly inside Sherlock’s body. John starts to hitch his hips a little, and Sherlock can feel the head of John’s cock moving just inside him. Pleasure tugs at Sherlock, insistent, persistent. There’s still a buzz of heat and want filling his guts, pushing up into his chest. John’s hips work in short quick pushes, and the pressure of his glans just inside Sherlock’s anus is a sweet, maddening stimulation. John’s hands move across Sherlock’s skin, hips and waist and ribs.
“I could fuck you like this forever,” John says.
Sherlock makes a sound that’s somewhere between a grunt and a laugh. Something’s pulling into focus in him, sharpening. His breath scours out of his open mouth; his heartbeat crashes in his chest. Something’s tendriling through him, drawing tighter, coiling down into the pit of his stomach. He’s vaguely aware that he’s groaning, harsh fragments of sound pushing from between his lips each time John’s cock pushes into him.
“Beautiful,” John growls. “Fucking beautiful.”
Sherlock drops one hand into his own lap, takes hold of his cock again. His fingers are still moist with his own semen; the friction is electric, almost too much. The fingertips of his other hand turn white as he claws for purchase on the tiled wall.
“Fuck … Jesus,” John says. “You’re getting tighter.”
Sherlock can’t breathe, can’t force the air past the thing filling his chest. He dimly understands that he must be clenching, quivering, as he struggles towards orgasm, but he can’t feel it. He feels as if he’s floating effortlessly, as if he could stay here forever.
“Christ -- so tight, so good,” John rasps.
“Oh God, I’m coming. I’m coming.”
This time John’s too far gone himself to react, just keeps working the head of his cock inside Sherlock’s body with quick abbreviated jerks of his hips. Sherlock’s orgasm is softer, darker this time – just three or four deep pulses – yet somehow immense: every nerve seems to spasm and then fall sparking into nothingness. His brain slides in his skull, vision dark and hearing useless above the roaring in his ears. From a million miles away he feels John suddenly switch to long, deep pushes of his cock, and then there’s the ticking pulse low down in his guts of John’s orgasm. Gradually the world expands around him again, comes back to brightness and sound.
“Christ, Christ, Jesus Christ,” John is saying.
Sherlock’s eyes flutter closed. His hand slips, skids down the wall to fall nerveless onto the floor. His breath is fathoms deep, but slow. His heartbeat is hard enough to shake through his bones, but with eons of time between the beats.
“Christ,” John says breathlessly, letting his forehead fall forwards against Sherlock’s back, “my bloody heart.”
The breath streaming from Sherlock’s open mouth shakes into silent laughter. He slumps as far as the constricted space will allow, his shoulder and the side of his head resting against the wall.
“Christ,” John murmurs. “Just … Christ.”
His thighs shift under Sherlock. Sherlock drags one hand up, claps it to the wall, and manages to lift his body weight a few inches out of John’s lap. John’s softening cock pulls free; there’s a warm wet spatter on the back of Sherlock’s left calf. John groans as he untangles himself from Sherlock and rolls onto his back on the floor.
“Christ,” John says, looking wide-eyed at the ceiling.
Sherlock swallows; his throat feels like he’s been screaming for ten minutes straight … which, possibly, he has. He twists, hands clutching at the wall and floor for support as he turns around to sit with his back to the wall.
“Christ,” John says again, his voice steadying. “If I die in my sleep, it was either concussion or the fucking incredible sex.”
He rolls onto one shoulder, pushes up onto his elbows, then up onto one knee and onto his feet. He staggers a little, catches himself with one hand on the sink. Sherlock lifts his head sharply, frowning in concern, but John waves him off.
“I’m fine, I’m … going to bed,” John says, flipping the lid of the medical kit closed and latching it.
He smiles at Sherlock, who smiles back at him. John hefts the medical kit off the toilet, turns towards the door.
John looks at Sherlock, eyebrows raised questioningly.
“Try again with Sarah,” Sherlock says fondly. “You can convince her.”
“You think so?” John asks, frowning in uncertainty even as he smiles hopefully.
John just quirks his mouth, but he’s obviously pleased by Sherlock’s confidence in him.
“Goodnight, John,” Sherlock says, letting his head fall back against the wall and his eyes slide closed.