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What Friends Are For

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True friends are stars within the firmament of our lives. Brilliant, dazzling and eternal.


A gust of wind chased John Watson through the doors of the Bakers Arms, leaving him gasping in relief to be in the warmth of the pub. Chatter rose and fell around him: a soughing sea of sound. He grinned to see Greg in their usual spot by the fire, defending the squashy chairs with a cold, indifferent glare at any interlopers. That softened immediately when he spotted John and waved him over with a grin.

A pint of his favourite ale was already waiting, and John hummed his thanks as he slumped into the armchair to Greg’s left, tipping his head back and taking a moment to relax.

‘You look more tired than me!’

‘Been chasing Sherlock around all day. My feet are killing me.’ He wriggled his toes inside his boots, feeling his joints grumble back at him.

‘Anything I need to worry about?’ Greg asked, in the wary tone of a DI who didn’t want to end up back on duty.

‘God, no.’ John grinned. ‘It’s Mummy’s birthday tomorrow, and Mycroft didn’t remind us of that fact until today, because he’s a smug git like that. We spent the whole afternoon tearing up and down Regent’s Street.’

‘You’ve met her, haven’t you? Said she was nice?’

‘She is.’ John smiled at the memory. Patricia Holmes was a lovely woman in her late sixties: friendly, funny and cuttingly intelligent. Her husband, Benjamin, was a quiet, scholarly sort with a gleam in his eye that suggested he’d figured out life’s punchline. Both would be delighted with any gift either of their sons got for any sort of celebration. ‘It wasn’t Patricia Sherlock was worried about. He had to out-do Mycroft.’

Greg snorted into his beer as John grinned, shaking his head and reaching for his pint. He was happy with whatever was on tap, but Greg knew him well, and the IPA was just what he needed. London’s flagship stores always left him frazzled: too loud, too crowded, too full of crap that cost far too much…

Not that he had to go. Since they became a couple, those brief moments of Sherlock’s thoughtfulness had been far more frequent, and he had graciously invited John to sit this one out. Maybe he would have, except he knew how Sherlock could terrorise the staff of Harrods without saying a word – ears pointed, tail-lashing, canines bared in just a fraction of a sneer – and they fell over themselves to please. At least he had been able to spare them the worst of that.

‘You’ve got that look on your face again,’ Greg teased, his dark eyes agleam and a crooked grin hooking his lips. ‘You’re going soft.’

‘Am not,’ John retorted, but his own smile gave him away. He knew the look Greg meant: a hopeless, fond expression that got stuck on his face whenever he thought about Sherlock. ‘All right, maybe a bit soft.’

‘For Sherlock.’ Greg shook his head ruefully. ‘You suit each other, you know. Anyone with eyes can see that. Not sure what that says about you, mind.’

‘Hah, you’re one to talk. You’ve known him longer than me, and you’re still friends with him.’

‘God help me,’ Greg agreed with a tilt of his head. ‘I shouldn’t be, he’s that prickly sometimes. Less, though, than he was. He hardly ever bites Anderson’s head off, these days. I wonder why that might be?’

He raised an eyebrow and John fought not to let a blush heat his cheeks. He and Sherlock had never actually announced they were together. It wasn’t like they were shy with displays of public affection, but they did tend to fall into old habits at crime-scenes. That meant that the good officers of New Scotland Yard were left to solve the mystery for themselves.

For one, brief moment, he considered deflecting or denying it, but that would be a hiding to nothing. Besides, it implied he was somehow ashamed of his relationship with Sherlock, which was so far from the truth it was laughable.

‘You haven’t figured it out? And you call yourself a police officer.’ He giggled as Greg threw a packet of crisps at him. Thankfully, they’d not been opened yet, so they didn’t make a mess. John hummed appreciatively. Steak and ale. His favourite. ‘Good beer, nice crisps… are you trying to bribe me for information?’

‘Like I need to. It’s written all over your face. When? How long?’ Greg sat forward in his seat, the last vestiges of his job falling away and leaving him looking years younger. Now he was just a friend, happy and excited on their behalf.

‘A few months, maybe? Well, since we, er –’

‘Shagged?’

‘I was going to say “got our act together” actually.’

‘Shagged then,’ Greg said with a nod. ‘I thought something had changed. Not long after that woman – Adler was it? – buggered off for good. Everything felt different.’ He shrugged. ‘Less jagged.’

John raised an eyebrow at that. A good chunk of Greg’s job came down to reading people. Were they lying or honest? Guilty or innocent? Friends or lovers or somewhere in between? ‘Jagged?’

‘Like, like something had stirred things up.’ Greg held out his hand flat, tilting it from side-to-side. ‘Like you couldn’t go back to the way you were, so it was either fall together or fall apart.’

John wrinkled his nose. He hadn’t thought they’d been that obvious. Greg and the others at the Yard had been peripheral to that whole mess, though of course Irene’s on-and-off-again presence had spanned months.

Belatedly, he realised that Greg would have seen slices of interaction at different crime scenes. He would have seen how he and Sherlock had grown distant and baffled with one another, the anger and uncertainty. He would have watched it unfurl without any real context. Of course the switch, when it came, must have been glaringly obvious.

‘Another beer?’

John blinked at his glass gleaming empty in his hand before reaching for his wallet. ‘Here, my round this time.’

‘I’ll get us a double. It’s almost happy hour and I don’t fancy queuing at the bar later.’

‘Sure.’ John opened his crisps, munching on them happily as he relaxed. The fire crackled in the grate, soaking the room with its heat. Most pubs got hot from the crowd alone, but the big rooms of the old Victorian place seemed to carry a perennial chill. By the time Greg returned, John had leaned forward, his palms outstretched to revel in the glow of the flames.

The glasses chimed as he set them down on the low table before collapsing into the armchair to John's right, still smiling fit to burst. 'I'm glad to hear you two sorted things out. Took you long enough.'

John laughed at that, shaking his head. There was no argument he could offer. Him and Sherlock had faffed about for far too long, dancing around each other and never communicating how they felt. It had all seemed too much - the risk of ruining their friendship an insurmountable threat, back then. Now, John could look back and see they didn't really have a choice in the matter. Him and Sherlock had been falling together since day one.

'Yeah. We made it stupidly difficult,' he admitted, reaching for his beer. 'I got complacent. I thought it would happen eventually and that I didn't need to say anything. Then Irene Adler turned up and...' He shrugged, not wanting to linger on those horrible months of confusion and misery.

'Threw a spanner in the works?' Greg suggested.

'Shook everything up.' John grimaced. 'Probably for the best, actually. If not for her I might have just carried on as always, assuming it would happen one day without ever taking that last step.'

'Nothing like a bit of jealousy to motivate you, is there?' Greg chuckled as John huffed, shaking his head. 'It's good for you, though. What you've got. It was weird enough back at the start, when Sherlock turned up at the crime scene with a "friend"'

Greg's fingers curled into scare-quotes. The look he sent John's way still carried a hint of that old suspicion, like John was a puzzle that had landed in Greg's lap – one he could not make head nor tail of.

'We didn't know whether to chase you off or put you in protective custody. Next thing we knew, the two of you were thick as thieves. We couldn't have pulled you apart with a crowbar, though I think Mycroft gave it some serious consideration.'

'Interfering sod.' John wrinkled his nose. He and Sherlock had not mentioned their change in relationship to the oldest Holmes. Sherlock swore it was none of his brother's business, and John deeply suspected Mycroft already knew, which was creepy in ways he didn't want to consider.

'He's protective. I can understand that. Sort of.' Greg took a long, steady drink. 'Sherlock's no shrinking violet. He can look after himself well enough, and he's better at dealing with people than he once was, but he still gets blindsided now and then. Mycroft hates that. Hates the thought of anyone breaking his brother's heart.'

'Hates the thought of his brother having a heart to break,' John corrected, leaning back in his chair and feeling the first warm buzz of the beer spread languorously along his limbs. 'I won't though. Break it, I mean. Not without smashing my own in the process.'

'Aww,' Greg crooned, laughing as John sent a pathetic kick towards his shin. His chortles eased away, the lines of mirth in his face losing some of their depth as he nodded. 'Glad to hear it, though. Sherlock's hard enough to deal with at the best of times. I don't fancy having to help you pick up the pieces.'

John shook his head. He could see how bad that would be. Maybe it should scare him more, knowing that he and Sherlock's lives were so closely entwined as to be inseparable. If their relationship faltered and failed, there would be no going back to where they had been. Friends and flatmates would be unimaginable.

Maybe Sherlock could convince himself of the possibility, but John, at least, knew himself better than that. He would never be able to get over the resentment of it. He'd never be able to forget what they'd once had, and a broken heart would never have the chance to heal.

He meant it when he said it wouldn't happen. What he and Sherlock shared was well worth fighting for. Relationships only broke apart when one party gave up, and he knew, deep down, that neither he nor Sherlock saw that as a possibility. They were in it for the long haul. They had been since the start.

'It won't come to that,' he said at last, tilting his glass in a quick toast of promise. 'I don't think it can, not any more. We've known each other too long. Lived together for fucking years... It's not like I'm shacking up with a stranger I've only taken on three dates or anything.' John shook his head, casting away all thought of him and Sherlock and the glorious, brilliant, mad thing they shared coming to an end. 'Anyway. Enough about that. You're right, we're together. What about you? What's been going on?'

'With my love life?' Greg pulled a face. 'Sweet fuck all. I don't have time to eat dinner by myself, let alone take anyone else somewhere. I'm too busy at work. Seems like half of London's trying to kill the other half. I swear this city is off its rocker.'

The next hour or so passed trading stories of Greg's boring but plentiful cases of thugs knifing each other in dark alleys and husbands shoving their wives down the stairs. It was the grim, gritty, procedural side of the job that John and Sherlock had no part in. None of the cases were intriguing enough for Greg to even mention to Sherlock, nor did they offer any kind of challenge.

'They think they're clever,' he confided, his cheeks flushed and his eyes bright and earnest. 'So fucking clever, but they're thick as two short planks. Think they're going to get away with it like I won't notice the bloody knife they're waving around! It makes you wanna cry.'

'Yeah, well. I suppose we can't all be picky like Sherlock.'

'I suppose he's been too busy with other things to bother with solving crimes.' Greg waggled his eyebrows, his laughter loud and joyful as John blushed. 'That's not a no!'

'Hush, you. Want more beer?'

'God, yes,' Greg groaned. 'I've got a few days off, and after the month I've had, I deserve to get a bit pissed.'

'Food?'

'Nah. I'll get an Indian on the way home. Just beer.'

John obliged, waiting his turn amidst the press of bodies that lined the bar. The place had grown more crowded in the hours he and Greg had been here, talking shop and Sherlock. Closing time was still a distant prospect, but he and Greg always made an effort to head out well before last call. They weren't as young as they used to be, sad as that was.

Ordering another double round, John gathered the glasses together, just about managing them all. A sensible bloke would take two and then come back for the others, but he wanted to get back to his armchair before some enterprising prat nicked it out from under him. It wasn't like Greg made a very fierce guard dog, sprawled as he was, eyes at half-mast and so relaxed he practically melted into his own comfortable chair.

'Oi, wake up.'

'I'm not asleep.' Greg huffed a laugh, sitting up straighter and making room among the empties. 'Just comfortable. 'S a good pub. Good chairs. Good fire. Maybe I should rent somewhere with a fireplace?'

'I thought you liked your flat?’

'To tell you the truth I've been thinking about moving for a while. I got it right after the divorce. All that mattered was it being close to work and having a roof that didn't leak.' Greg cuffed a hand over his face, reaching for his drink. 'I know I'm not home much, but the times I am I'd quite like a few home comforts. Like a bath. A fireplace. Baker Street's got both of those.'

'The shine wears off the bath when you live with Sherlock,' John warned. 'He does experiments in it. With entrails.'

Greg wrinkled his nose. 'I thought that only happened once?'

'Maybe, but it's not the kind of thing you forget in a hurry.' John grinned, shaking his head. 'If you are looking for a new place, though, I can get Sherlock and Mrs Hudson on the case. Between them, I bet they can find you somewhere nice. Some bloke will owe Sherlock a favour, and Mrs Hudson's knitting group all seem to own London property.'

'Clever investments?'

'Good divorce lawyers, I suspect. Anyway, point is, you can have new and shiny and boring, or you can have something a bit more like Baker Street. Bath, fireplace, good-sized rooms...'

'But?'

'But drafts. Might be a bit damp in the winter, and you'll probably need a flatmate to cover the cost of rent. I definitely couldn't afford it on my own when I first got here. I dunno how much the Yard pay you –'

'Not enough,' Greg replied, a bit louder than he probably intended, but John could appreciate the sentiment.

'I thought not. Let me ask Mrs Hudson. Finding a good tenant’s not as easy as you'd hope. I bet some of her friends would cut the rent a bit if they knew you’re a copper.'

Greg raised his glass in thanks, his smile rich and honest. 'Best thing I've heard all week. Don't worry if I'm asking the impossible. I just – I fancy a change. My lease ends in a couple of months, and I found myself wondering what the fuck I was still doing in that place. It's nothing but a bed to me, really. And a fridge, I suppose.'

'We'll get you sorted,' John promised, secretly glad to see the DI so hopeful. The divorce had been a while ago: a new wound when John himself had first limped into London, as far as he could tell.

The Greg he knew back then had been tense and sharp, his humour wicked and his patience thin. He was still an excellent friend, even in those days, but it was good to see him softening at the edges. If nothing else it made him easier to appease when Sherlock inevitably ruffled his feathers. 'Any other "changes" I should know about?'

Brown eyes flickered over to him, assessing behind the gentle fog of a few good beers, and John hid a grin in the froth of his own drink. He knew that look. Knew what it meant. Greg was considering something else, something to do with his love-life, probably, but he wasn't ready to share it, not yet.

'I'll start with the flat,' he said firmly. 'After that, we'll see, but I'm in no rush.' He shrugged, a crooked smile taking years off his face. 'It's not the life I ever thought I'd have, this one, but it's turns out it's not too bad. Don't think I'm in a rush to share it again, not just yet.'

'Fair enough.' John tucked the notion away, respecting Greg's wishes. Half of him was tempted to ask Sherlock if he'd noticed anything, but that felt like cheating. Besides, even if he had, Sherlock would probably have deemed it irrelevant and forgotten it a moment later. 'Send me a text tomorrow with your budget and any essentials. We'll see what we can rustle up.'

'You're a star.' Greg grinned, and the conversation devolved into swapping stories of the terrible digs they'd had over the years. For John's part, a tatty tent in Kandahar probably won, but Greg had seen the worst bedsits London had to offer, and by the time their drinks were gone, they were cackling about the things you learned to live with when life got a bit rough.

'Sand, everywhere.' John hiccupped, not drunk but pleasantly buzzed. 'You'd come home for leave and still be finding it weeks later. Like the worst kind of beach.'

'Prostitutes.' Greg nodded sagely. 'They lived next door. Nice girls, but loud. Really loud. Them and the crack den on the floor below.'

'Jesus.'

'Yeah, well, a bobby's pay's not much better than an army pension, and in this city, you take what you can get.' Greg stretched his arms, groaning as he glanced at his watch. 'I s'pose we'd better get you home to your other half.'

'Hah, he's probably not noticed I'm gone. He was elbow deep in... something... when I left. Still, yeah, I'm too old to miss out on a good eight hours of sleep, these days.'

'Oi, you're younger than me,' Greg grumbled, heaving himself to his feet and reaching for his coat. After some fumbling confusion with the sleeves, he managed to shrug it on. 'Besides, I bet Sherlock doesn't lie in.'

'He does if the sun's shining through the window.' John grinned. One of his personal delights was that Sherlock, like the cats he resembled, could not resist basking in a sunbeam. He had never witnessed a sight so glorious, nor so beautiful, as waking up to see his lover sprawled naked in the glow that bathed their bed, purring in pleasure. 'Sometimes, anyway. He can be convinced.'

'I don't think I want to know.' Greg's good-natured tease made John grin, and they eased their way through the crowd towards the front door, shuddering as they stepped out into a bitter, sharp-toothed gale. 'Bloody hell, it's brass monkeys out here!'

'Cross the street. It's more sheltered on the other side.' John wrinkled his nose, checking for traffic before leading the way. He'd be shuddering if not for the false warmth the beer provided. As it was, he could feel the threat of the cold pressing down around him: London's stormy autumn nights leaving no room for mercy. 'You still want that Indian?'

'You're bloody right I do. There's a place just up around the corner if you want one too. My treat?'

Well, John wasn't going to say no to that. There were leftovers in the fridge at home, but nothing beat a good, hot korma after a night in the pub; not in his opinion. Quickly, he dug in his pocket for his phone, checking there were no texts from Sherlock to hurry him back to Baker Street.

'Look at you, making sure it's all right with him indoors.'

John gave a derisive snort. 'Checking he's not blown the place up in my absence, more like. But yeah, I'd love one.'

They walked shoulder-to-shoulder, huddled a bit closer than normal for extra warmth and cringing out of the wind. By the time they reached the curry place, they were both shuddering. Joining the queue at the counter, they relished the heat belting out from the kitchens as they waited for their order to appear in cheap, polystyrene containers.

It was the kind of place you propped yourself up against a high table, rather than sitting down, and Greg headed for one in the corner, as far from the door as he could possibly get. His lamb biryani sent up wraiths of steam, and John's chicken korma had his mouth watering. He’d be the first to admit that English curry tasted nothing like the original, but it still held a place in his heart: especially on a night like tonight.

'Ah, that's the stuff,' Greg groaned, shovelling a forkful into his mouth with cheap, plastic cutlery. 'Hits the spot.'

John hummed in agreement, not missing the way Greg kept shooting quick, furtive looks in his direction, as if he were debating whether or not to speak up about something. Normally, John would pretend he hadn't noticed and let his friend hold his silence, but he'd had just enough beer to throw a bit of caution to the wind. Besides, he and Greg were mates, good mates... If Greg had a problem, he'd rather hear about it and help.

'You all right?'

Greg nodded, chewing thoughtfully now he’d demolished a quarter of his meal. 'Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. It's just...'

'Just what?'

He twiddled his fork in nervous circles before setting it aside and reaching for the bottle of water he'd bought along with his curry. A fortifying sip later, he set it aside again, opening his mouth before closing it once more.

Honestly, John couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Greg so uncertain about anything. He reached for his patience, determined to wait it out. He knew Greg, knew he was more brave than he was sensible. He'd spit it out sooner or later.

'Can I ask you a question?'

John wrinkled his nose. He knew that tone of voice. As a doctor, he heard it a lot. The tight, nervous tones of someone who was about to pull down their pants and ask you to look at something odd on their backside.

That seemed unlikely, considering their current location, but what Greg had to ask him was personal, that much was clear. 'You can ask. I reserve the right not to answer, and if it's medical you're better off making an appointment with your own doctor.'

'What? No!' Greg rolled his eyes, shoving John's arm as he laughed. 'It's not medical, but it is biological. It's, well...' Greg took another bite of his curry. 'Sherlock's Felisian.'

'Yeah.' John did not add the haughty "obviously" that floated around them both.

'And it's genetic. Runs in the family? So, what about his brother?'

John nodded. 'I don't know much about it, but Mycroft had cosmetic surgery to look human. Something to do with his career. It's part of why he and Sherlock are like... that.' He waved his fork around, indicating the bizarre cocktail of fury and protectiveness that hovered around the pair like a cloud whenever they found themselves in the same room.

'And Felisians are sort of cat-human people.' Greg sounded like he was working up to something. 'They'd see a normal doctor, like you, so you'd know about their...?' Greg waved his hand up and down his torso, a faint flush darkening his cheeks. John doubted he was looking for an overview in the differences between Felisians and everyone else. No, this was something more specific, if Greg's embarrassment was anything to go by.

'Just spit it out?'

Greg took on a bullish look, the one that meant his stubborn streak had won out. 'Cats have hooks on their pricks.' He stabbed a bit of biryani with more force than necessary. 'Most of me absolutely doesn't want to know what's going on in Sherlock Holmes' trousers, but...' He shrugged. 'I keep wondering. I was going to Google it, but I'm a bit worried about what I might find. And I swear to god if you tell him about this, I'll never speak to you again.'

John coughed, chewing his mouthful quickly and swallowing it before he could breathe in a bit of rice and cause a scene. His own face felt hot, and he took a quick sip of water as he marshalled his thoughts.

Basic biology was, well, basic. Schools didn't cover more than the obvious ears-tails-teeth bit, and Felisians weren't exactly common. John had seen a few, but Greg? There was a fair chance that Sherlock was the only one he'd ever met outside of a murder investigation.

'No hooks. Absolutely, definitely not. I'd have noticed.' John smirked as Greg spluttered. 'Seriously though, that's what got you all flustered? How old are you? Twelve?'

'Shut up, you.' Greg threw a bit of rice at him, shaking his head. 'God, I wish I'd never asked now. I should have just found an encyclopaedia, but I didn't want to be the creepy bloke looking up anatomy at the library.'

'Anything else I can satisfy your curiosity about?' John asked, raising one eyebrow as Greg appeared to give it considerable thought. 'They’ve got two nipples, no more. Most of the differences are in their skeletal structure, actually. They're very flexible.'

'Now you're just doing it on purpose. Making it sound kinky when it's not.'

'Well, it can be.' John sniggered, shaking his head. 'Seriously though. What even made you think of that?'

'Nothing. I dunno.' Greg shrugged, polishing off his curry in a few more meaty bites. 'It doesn't matter. Like I said it was one of those ideas that wouldn't leave me alone.'

John narrowed his eyes, scooping up the last of his korma sauce with the tail end of his naan. He felt as if he were missing something, some crucial piece of evidence that was staring him right in the face, but the beer goggles were making it hard to see. 'How long's it been bothering you?'

Greg pulled a face and shrugged. 'A week or two? I dunno. It's not important. What matters is I'm glad you and Sherlock have got your act together. You're happy, despite stupid, embarrassing questions from your mates.' Greg jerked his head towards the door. 'Now, shall I get you home to lover boy? I'll take a cab from your place.'

'Call him "lover boy" to his face, I dare you,' John chuckled, clearing up their rubbish and putting it in the bin by the door before following Greg out.

'No chance. I want him to actually help me on cases, remember?' Greg shoved his hands in his pockets, elbowing John in the side. 'You're still laughing at me, aren't you?'

it'No. No.' John held up both his hands in surrender. 'Not at the question itself, I promise, more just the look on your face. Come on, I'm a doctor. You wouldn't believe some of the truly stupid things patients ask me sometimes.'

'I bet I could take a good guess.' Greg shook his head, his laughter chasing them down the road as they trotted the short distance back to Baker Street. 'Come on. You're nearly home. I can see your front door.' He glanced back along the road, looking out for a cab to take him back to his dingy little flat. 'I’d better head off, too. Thanks for the beers, John.'

‘Thanks for the curry, and the entertainment!' John chuckled, shoving Greg's shoulder when he glowered. 'I'll text you in a couple of days. Let you know if Mrs Hudson has any ideas about flats. Enjoy your time off.'

'Yeah, while it lasts. I'll call if any "brilliant" cases come up before then.'

'You do that.' John stood back as a sleek black cab pulled up to the curb. The door swung open beneath Greg’s touch, and he watched the DI settle in the seat, giving instructions to his place. ‘Bye, Greg.’

‘See you later, John.’ With that, he was gone, the rear lights of the taxi charting its path down Baker Street and out of sight.

John sighed, reaching into his pocket for his keys and trotting towards the familiar door, gleaming black in the streetlights. It was good talking to Greg, because while the DI may be as normal as they came, he knew what it was to spend time with Sherlock. He understood the insanity John's life could sometimes become, and sympathised without hesitation.

Not that John would change it – any of it – but sometimes it was good to talk to someone who didn't question his sanity. Any of his other friends would ask why he put up with a mad flatmate, never mind the rest of it. Greg got it, at least to some extent.

Getting the door open, John tumbled into the flat, shutting out the world and throwing his coat towards the hooks before trotting upstairs. The lights were still on, but the empty kitchen was about as neat as it ever got. The microscope had been pushed to one side and the slides stacked. The bin, which had been overflowing, sat empty, and the clutter that made their flat so homely had a distinctly organised look about it.

John smiled, flicking off the lights and turning towards the bedroom. A seam of gold spilled out from under the door. He pushed it open and leaned against the threshold, the better to enjoy the sight that awaited him.

Sherlock lay upon the nest of their bed, his dark tail a sinuous whip of fur over the plumpness of his bare arse and the curve of his thigh. One ear twitched against the pillow, acknowledging John's presence as a slow smile curved that full mouth. Vivid eyes met his gaze, one eyebrow arched in invitation as John grinned and toed off his boots.

'Did you enjoy your korma?' Sherlock purred, stretching in a way that made John's blood turn sluggish with lust. 'And the five beers beforehand?'

'How did you know it was five?' John peeled off his jumper, knowing better than to check it for stains. He'd not spilled his curry. Sherlock could smell it on him.

'An educated guess,' Sherlock admitted, 'extrapolated from your previous nights out with Lestrade.' He reached a hand across the expanse of their bed, his fingers catching in the denim of John's jeans and giving a demanding tug.

John sank onto the mattress. All thoughts of Greg and his questions fled his mind, washed away beneath the stroke of Sherlock's warm hands and the hypnotic, lustful press of those lips. There would be time to solve the mystery of Greg another day. Right now, he had a beautiful Felisian demanding his attention.

And John was only too happy to oblige.