The incriminating words were out of his mouth, and then he couldn’t swallow them back, couldn’t reel them in. They seemed to float in front of his eyes for a moment, a skein of humiliation, the letters glowing a wanton scarlet.
He never did this. His will was of iron. No sentiment. No human weakness. No Freudian slips. And above all, no desire.
And then those secret little daydreams that he had been nurturing, hiding them away even from himself, unfurled a frond, a delicate tendril that encircled his tongue like a noose and tripped him over.
John stared at him in shock.
Sherlock felt the blood leech out of his cheeks until they were stiff.
‘I.. I mean..’
Stupid John anyway, provoking him like that, all that nagging about contamination, infection, contact with noxious substances in the fridge. Didn’t he know Sherlock’s work was sacrosanct? Blah blah blah, going on about keeping the kitchen clean, about food, for Heaven’s sake, as if Sherlock cared, and then, then, Oh, that moment, the moment the sun came out and caught the gold in his hair and the deep indigo flecks in his eyes as he stood there, with his military stance and his bloody, sodding, ridiculous, irresistible jumper, and then those traitorous words just jumped to Sherlock’s lips and he couldn’t help it, just couldn’t.
And then John, being John, surprised Sherlock all over again.
He pulled his arran over his head, leaving his hair ridiculously, loin-stirringly ruffled, and bent over to unlace his shoes.
‘Wh-what are you doing?’ Sherlock managed to stumble, transfixed.
‘Complying with your parameters,’ John said, and kicked off his second suede desert boot.
Sherlock could feel his eyes bulging but he couldn’t tear himself away. He should get up and leave, but he couldn’t move.
Having divested himself of socks, John’s capable fingers moved to his shirt buttons - his beautiful, blunt fingers, so dextrous, so gentle, those fingers that always made Sherlock’s eyes water from trying to control his errant imagination.
Having finished the front buttons, John tugged open his cuffs, never taking his eyes from Sherlock’s, his face rock hard with defiance. Everything about the way he centred his body, balancing his weight perfectly on his pelvis, spoke of intent, of the indefatigable determination that permeated his soul.
The shirt was shrugged off, the undershirt after it, and then there was the expanse of delicious pinkish skin beneath, the gnarled tatter of the scarred shoulder, a scattering of bronze hair between the nipples that trailed down to his navel, the diagonal curves of his lower ribs, Oh God, Sherlock wanted to lick those ribs, and where had that come from, that craving for sweet, smooth skin?
John’s belt buckle clinked as he undid it, undid the button at his waist, the fly of his jeans, and then everything, everything dropped, and Sherlock couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, couldn’t even think for it, Dear God, so much beauty!
‘Right,’ John said. ‘I’m naked. So now I get to tell you what to do, yes?’
Sherlock could only nod slowly, his whole, mammoth intellect concentrated on one thing, which was not, under any circumstances, to look at the silken sheen of John’s hip, the dark blonde curls nestling at the confluence of his thighs, and certainly not at, at, Oh, God, that!
‘Yes,’ he managed to croak, because how could you not comply?
Because there it was, that charisma, that golden glow that John had, that so few took the time to see, that even the man himself carefully concealed so that people thought him ‘ordinary’, when nothing could be further from the truth. That aura that men would follow anywhere, into battle, into darkness, into death, that Sherlock would follow till his dying day, the siren song of his soul.
Dear God, how he loved it when John did his military thing! The moment when he pulled rank at Baskerville had contorted Sherlock’s resolve into veritable pretzels, his whole being screaming for the one thing he had never had – someone who could tell him what to do. Only John could do that.
And now John knew it.
There was a knowing smile on his lips. John had a range of perfectly evil smiles, a selection of tooth-baring grins that practically begged to be accompanied by a smart-arse one-liner, smiles developed and groomed for those moments when he got to know definitively that he had the upper hand, that he knew something you didn’t. And sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Sherlock adored every one of them, because each one presaged a moment of brilliant John-ness, a dazzling display of why John was so totally unlike any human being that he had ever encountered, a microcosm of Chaos Theory in action inside a man’s head. Because John was the only man who knew how to turn Sherlock’s gargantuan brain inside out and back to front with his own private brand of unpredictable brilliance.
Which he now demonstrated.
‘Get down on your knees, Holmes,’ he commanded, and his eyes glittered with the quiet, smug knowledge that he knew exactly what was going on inside his flat-mate’s head and that, as a result, he was about to explode every finely tuned synapse.
Sherlock slithered off his chair onto the floorboards, quivering with the desire to comply.
‘Y-Yes, Captain,’ he breathed.
John’s grin widened. It really was a thing of beauty to behold. Or it would have been if Sherlock could have taken his eyes off that gorgeous, tumescent cock that was now right in his eyeline.
‘You haven’t eaten properly in days, Corporal Holmes,’ John said. ‘I think its time you had something to chew on.’