Work Header

The Proposition

Work Text:

"So what is it this time?" John Watson asked, taking the proffered wicker chair. It creaked under his weight, but seemed sturdy. It was also astonishingly comfortable – but perhaps it shouldn't have been such a surprise. Mycroft's assaults were always two pronged: remorseless mental and emotional manipulation accompanied by the utmost care and consideration of his physical state.

Mycroft, already seated in an identical plantation chair, ignored his question in favor of pouring some tea. He laid it on the matching table, directly in front to John. His expression managed to convey both warmth and utter stubbornness. Nothing was going to happen until John accepted the offering.

Formalities, John recognized, and he took the tea, sipped it. It was absolutely perfect from strength to sweetness, from tartness to temperature. Had he been anywhere else he would have begged to know the blend. Instead he struggled to keep a poker face.

Mycroft's smile increased.

It's all a game to him, John thought. The pleasure of the tea was again balanced out by the annoyance of being "had".

"Listen, Holmes –"

"Mycroft, please."

"Mycroft," repeated John. "It's not that I don't enjoy these little tea parties. And honestly, I find that you should take time out of your terribly busy schedule to play host for me quite … um… flattering, I suppose." Mycroft's eyes widened with pleasure and surprise. I just handed him another point, damn it. "But, you see, I'm really quite busy today, so, I would appreciate it if you got to the point quickly."

"You have a date with Ms. Kingston," said Mycroft. "By the way, you should call and cancel. You won't be making it."

John sputtered and flushed. "I should what? Wait now a second. I will not!" He put down the tea, much as part of him didn't want to, and stood up. "Listen, I came to you willingly, out of respect. But I'm not canceling a date that I worked extremely hard to get. If you've nothing further to say to me, call back your car, I'll be leaving now."

On that word, he became aware of his surroundings again. Out in the countryside, down half a kilometer of rutted road to what had probably been a cow pasture that morning. It had since been mown, a colorful canopy erected, and the wicker furniture brought out. He could see the unmarked lorry that had doubtless hauled everything here parked in the mud off the side of the road a quarter mile down hill. Nonetheless, it was still hell-and-gone as far as hiking it back to London in time for his date. Would a taxi even be able to find him out here?

John shuddered. It was the first time that Mycroft had made him feel trapped physically as well as psychologically.

"Sit down, John," said Mycroft. "I've told the driver to return in half an hour, plenty of time for you to get home to meet Ms. Kingston. Should you still choose to."

John sat down and drank down the rest of the tea in a savory, angry swallow. "I don't appreciate being held against my will, you know."

Mycroft took a sip and seemed to pretend that John had said nothing. "Tell me, if I were Sherlock, would you have canceled your date?"

John blinked. A test? "Probably," he admitted. "If the reason were good enough."

"But you assume I don't have a good reason for taking your time." Mycroft tilted his head in mock hurt.

John crossed his arms in front of his chest and tightened his lips. "I believe I've already asked – twice now – why you've brought me here. You haven't answered. I'm beginning to wonder if it was just to mess with my head."

"Please, John," said Mycroft waving his hand towards a pile of odd looking confections that resembled small, slightly flat snowballs. "Have a Russian Teacake. I was introduced to them in the States. Lovely little things. I had them made especially for you. You'll find they compliment the tea."

Case and point.

John hesitated only a second before realizing again that nothing would proceed until Mycroft's sense of decorum was appeased. Play along and Mycroft would, true to his word, drive him back at the decreed time. The "cake" was crumbly and covered with powdered sugar, but as promised, delicious and perfect with the tea. Mycroft refilled John's cup while he ate.

"The reason I called you here was to ask what your intentions are regarding my brother."

John paused mid chew. Carefully he swallowed. "What do you mean by intentions?"

"What is it that you plan on doing with Sherlock? Where do you see your relationship with him going in the future?"

"I plan on being his flatmate and friend. Same as I've been for the past three and a half months." John said it as if it were obvious. "Why do you ask this now?"

"I ask because, sometime in the next few days, my brother is going to proposition you. Sexually. And he'll do it in the bluntest, frankest, most graphic way possible. Most likely in front of either your date or the landlady." Mycroft paused to check for John's shock. "It will be a test. How you react will determine if you remain at 221b, or if Sherlock cuts you out of his life completely."

John's face blanched. He couldn't help it. Then he deliberately pushed all emotions away. Anything concerning either Mycroft or Sherlock required utmost rationality. Learn the situation before jumping to conclusions, he cautioned himself.

"What is the correct answer?"

"That depends," said Mycroft. "On if you want a sexual relationship with my brother or not."

"Then if I agree to sex, I get to stay as his flatmate, but if I refuse he will force me out?"

"He will never speak to, or of, you again."

"That's harsh!"

"Indeed," said Mycroft, finishing off his tea. "And unfair. I'd intervene on your behalf if I thought my advice carried any weight with him. But he has cut me out of his life as much as he is able to. I've been reduced to subterfuge and bribery simply to keep in touch." Mycroft said it in such a pitiable way that John's first reaction was to think it a blatant plea for sympathy. But he knew it was also quite true, which left him slightly perplexed as to how to react.

He chose to say nothing. He needed to think. The whole situation sounded fishy. Was Mycroft being honest at all? What would be his motive to lie? Was this a trap? And whose?

Mycroft put the empty cup down on the table. "John. You don't need to agree to this. Should you decide to part ways with Sherlock, I will see to it that you will have a place to live as good or better than you currently have. I can put in a good word at Bart's. You'll have a steady job at their trauma ward within a month, and I guarantee you'll find the challenges faced there enough to keep you stimulated. Your decision on whether or not to sleep with Sherlock should in no way be influenced by matters of money or lifestyle."

"Why on Earth would Sherlock do this? I thought he liked me!"

"He's doing it because he likes you. He likes you very, very much. He's grown, much to his dismay, dependent on you. You are, in every metric, his idea of a perfect companion." Mycroft sighed. "As much as Sherlock is able to, he loves you."

John shook his head. "But I don't understand. Why proposition me? Sherlock told me the very first day we met he had no interest in me sexually."

"Did he really?" asked Mycroft with sudden intense interest. "Did he say that in so many words?"

"Well, no, he said he considered himself married to his work and he was flattered by my interest." John sputtered again. "Not that I'd actually hit on him."

"Ah." Mycroft relaxed. "And you took that to mean he wasn't interested."

"How else was I to take it?"

"No," Mycroft smiled. "You were meant to take it that way. Sherlock has no interest in pursuing or being pursued romantically. He wouldn't want you annoying him with attempts at courtship. He considers most typical date activities a pointless waste of time."

John snorted, "I suppose I see for him there would be no point in getting to know someone better."

Mycroft shrugged. "For him the perfect relationship is exactly what you've been giving him. A submissive companion to share his passions with, but who will not demand that the interest be reciprocated. Closeness and companionship entirely on his terms and without compromise on his part."

"Ah, then," said John. "That makes it sound so selfish." His mind caught up to a key word. "And hold on a minute, what do you mean by submissive?"

Mycroft ignored the last question. "My brother is intensely selfish. And potentially quite dangerous." Mycroft looked concerned. "Which is why, if you want an out, I have one ready for you. Any time. You've but to ask."

As if Mycroft were any less dangerous… "I'll take that under advisement."

"Please do, but don't let that alter your decision, either." Mycroft sat back in his chair. John could hear the creaks of the wicker. "Imagine that I'm not a part of this at all. What is it that you want, John?"

"I want what I have! Listen," said John, "Is it something I've done or said that has led to this? Why does he feel he needs to test my loyalty now?"

"You see this as a loyalty test?"

"What else could it be?"

"Jealousy," replied Mycroft. "He can't bear to see you date other people."

"He never had any trouble with Sarah. I don't see why one woman should matter more than another to him?"

"Ah, but it does. Your previous lady friend was no threat to Sherlock."

"No threat, how so?"

"Unlike Ms. Kingston, Sarah was completely asexual."

"That's not true!"

"And how many times in your nearly three months romance did you sleep with her?" asked Mycroft.

John puffed out his cheeks. "She was a woman who needed to be courted."

"Asexual," repeated Mycroft. "But not aromantic. She enjoys the idea of a boyfriend, loves dating. Had you left it at that she wouldn't have broken up with you. But as a man, you needed more. You wanted physical intimacy. You grew weary of her couch."

"How…" said John breathlessly. "How closely have you been watching me?"

"Quite closely." Mycroft gave another patented smile. "It wasn't your work with Sherlock that lead her to break up with you, no matter what she said. She stuck with you through that whole Chinese disaster. That should have been your tip off. No, it wasn't until you suggested that you needed more than a chaste peck on the lips that she panicked and ended the affair."

"I didn't realize."

"Of course you didn't. But my brother did. Which is why he never considered Sarah to be a threat. In my brother's eyes, she could provide the one thing he could not, whilst not interfering with his own plans for you." Mycroft smiled again. "A perfect arrangement, so long as she understood that you belonged to him first."

"So Sherlock is jealous of Ms. Kingston?"

"Intensely," confirmed Mycroft. "To the point where he feels forced to show his hand."

"That is just … absurd," said John. "Tonight will be our first date. What does he expect will happen?"

"It should be quite obvious what he expects," said Mycroft. "A typical relationship arc. You begin dating Ms. Kingston. You hit it off and she takes you to her bed. Soon you and she become enamored of each other. You move in together, become married, have children…" Mycroft drifted off. "Somewhere in there, between the hitting it off and the moving in together, Sherlock stops being your priority. He becomes unable to entice you with his cases. You shut him out of your life. He is alone again except for the rare moments when he catches you between your bedroom and the door. And once you move out, there won't be even that."

"I would not abandon him so."

"Then sleep with him," said Mycroft. "Find your relief there."

"I…" John shook his head to clear his thoughts. "Now wait a second, am I parsing this right? Sherlock is going to proposition me because he thinks that if he satisfies me sexually, I won't leave him for a woman?"

"In part," said Mycroft. "But mostly he'll ask because he wants very much to have sex with you. Don't try to read any altruism in the gesture."

"But he's asexual!"

"That he's not." Mycroft shook his head. "Although he sees no logic in it, and he suppresses it as much as he's able, he still has a strong sexual appetite. When the need becomes too distracting, he indulges with prostitutes, whom he can, of course, control and dismiss at will." Mycroft looked worried. "I can't even begin to tell you what a security nightmare that is. My brother is a terrible blabbermouth. None of these rent boys are remotely cleared for contact with him."

Rent boys. John shuddered.

"Should we really be discussing Sherlock this way? I mean it's awfully personal and a bit TMI." John felt intensely uncomfortable. He tried to rationalize the feeling by considering AIDS and hepatitis, herpes, resistant strains of gonorrhea, and Sherlock's penchant for living dangerously. But the truth was that he felt irrationally angry that Sherlock was sleeping with anyone at all.

"I wouldn't have mentioned it, if it didn't concern you, John. After all, tonight, or perhaps tomorrow, my brother will clumsily, bluntly, and unfortunately publicly proposition you as if you were nothing but a street corner hooker. It's his horrific idea of courtship. If you seem embarrassed, or reluctant, or hem or haw, or, of course, flat out say 'no', he will be devastated. He will become embarrassed, and, unfortunately, very angry with you."

Mycroft paused for a sip, then continued: "My brother's anger usually burns cold, but … well, as I've told you, I have an out for you. I shall give you my number and you can reach me, any time, day or night. I'll have you out of there in minutes."

"Now, just a minute," John said tightening his arms across his chest. "How is that you know he'll do this? This is awfully specific conjecture, and I haven't seen a bit of it in Sherlock's behavior."

Mycroft didn't flinch. "He's done it before. You aren't the first man my brother has become enamored with."

"I'm not?" Then John realized what that sounded like. "I mean, of course I'm not, Sherlock is in his thirties, plenty of time to form other relationships."

"The other two were very similar to you physically. Smaller, lighter, fit but not athletic, handsome but not so much as to be a distraction. Weaker. Easy to overpower in a pinch."

"I'm stronger than I look," said John, a bit miffed.

"So is Sherlock." Mycroft waved a hand. "It's simply an observation. I mean no judgment by it. Neither of Sherlock's intended lovers took well to being put on the spot and both are gone. Had anyone asked me, I would have told them they were unsuitable for him and saved everyone time and embarrassment." Mycroft shrugged. "Naturally no one asked."

For some reason this just made John's blood grow colder. "And am I unsuitable?" he asked in his chilliest voice. "In your brotherly judgment?"

"You are perfect, John, absolutely perfect," said Mycroft. "I couldn't have picked a person more suited. But please – don't look too hard for my approval. This must be your decision, not mine. It would be unconscionable for me to pressure you to say yes, simply because it would ease my worries about Sherlock."

And yet, thought John, That's precisely what you are doing, isn't it? That's the point of the tea party, to get your brother laid. John sighed and pressed his hand against his temple. "It's a wonder I put up with this nonsense."

"You say you didn't proposition my brother in the café," said Mycroft, and John thought he sensed a bit of panic. "But perhaps you aren't being entirely honest with yourself. Words would have been unnecessary. The way you look, even the way you smell when he's around would have shouted out your attraction to him. Even I can see it. The way you look at him, your mannerisms when he's around. You've been smitten from the moment you first laid eyes on him – though you've respected his wishes enough to pretend you aren't. If nothing else, the swiftness at finding a lady friend, and then replacing her, after years of comfortable abstinence does suggest a rather desperate need for distraction on your part."

John was mortified. Is there nothing I feel that isn't completely transparent to these Holmes brothers? "This is prying, Mycroft. What happens in my mind, is my business."

"I would never suggest otherwise," soothed Mycroft. "I won't tell you to sleep with Sherlock, but should you refuse, I do hope you are honest about the reasons. Lack of desire is not one of them."

Uncomfortable silence descended over the table for nearly a minute while John absorbed and Mycroft simply let him be.

"Well, you are right on one account," said John abruptly. "I will have to cancel my date with Ms. Kingston. I won't put her in the middle of this mess." John sighed with annoyance.

"May I ask what your answer will be, when Sherlock asks?"

"Why even pretend you don't already know?" asked John tiredly. "I love your brother. I've been infatuated with him from the moment I met him. My first thought on seeing him was that he looked so striking, so handsome. I wondered why it is that he would have difficulty finding a flatmate. Then, of course, he spoke." John snorted.

Mycroft smiled and said nothing.

"So, Mycroft. What do I do now? Should I just tell him that I'm willing if that's what he wants, or should I let this charade unfold, let him embarrass me in front of others, pass his test so that he can see that I will put up with his antics."

"I don't think either will be necessary." Mycroft looked him over gently, then his eyes slid past, over his shoulder. "-- Ah, perfect. Here comes the car."

John turned to see the car carefully navigating the ruts. When he turned back Mycroft had stood up and come around the table to stand by his chair. He held out a hand to support him as he stood, as if he still needed such help.

"It's always a pleasure visiting with you John. Remember, this truly is your decision. Don't let my brother intimidate you either way." Mycroft patted his arm gently. "Now off you go."

The car let him off in front of the flat. As always. John looked up and considered what it would be like to turn around and walk away now. Return to sane life. Boring, dull, ordinary sane life.

There was no contest.

At the bottom of the stairs, John pulled out his phone and called Ms. Kingston to cancel. It did not go as easily as he hoped. Suddenly she seemed far less ambivalent about dating. She tried to pin him down for another time, another day, then hung up angrily when it became obvious he wasn't going to give her either. When he was done he climbed the stairs slowly, limping for the first time in weeks.

Sherlock was lying on the couch, eyes closed, book draped over his chest, when John entered. He opened his eyes just a second, then closed them again. John stared back, waiting for the inevitable run down of observations. When it didn't happen, he sighed with relief, turned to hang his coat on the peg.

"You cancelled your date," Sherlock mentioned. "It took you a long time."

"I just didn't feel like going out tonight," lied John. He began limping down the hall.

"What did he want you for this time?" Sherlock called after him.


"My brother."

John felt a blush threatening to form. He hoped the gloom, the angle, and Sherlock's pretense at lack of interest would keep him from noticing.

"He spoiled my fun, didn't he?"

John froze. He didn't breathe. Ah, God, Mycroft was right.

"When were you planning on ambushing me? Tonight in front of my date? Or would you have waited for the next crime so as to do it in front of Donovan or Lestrade."

"I hadn't decided. Though there is something to be said about me shouting out my devotion to you in a crowded restaurant while your date watches on. It would have made quite a scene. Mycroft would be thrown into a tizzy deciding if it counted as a security breach."

John girded his stomach. "I'd really prefer you didn't. Please don't put me in a position where I have to publicly humiliate others in order to please you."

He turned. Then jumped. Sherlock was in the hall behind him, leaning on the wall. John hadn't heard him get up.

"Did Mycroft warn you away? Did he try to seduce you with some job, some living arrangement if you were to leave me?" Sherlock's anger was palpable. "And are you thinking of accepting?"

John felt his blood suddenly surge around his body. He smelled a tang in the air that sent all his senses sharper.

"What Mycroft said to me was beside the point. Stay on topic." Despite the bold words, John stepped involuntarily back, as if Sherlock were a wall of force rather than a man. "Why are you sabotaging yourself? You could have simply asked. You know how I felt, you can read it in my face, my smell. Why did you lie to me and say you weren't interested? Unless you really do want me to say 'no' and go away. Like the others."

Sherlock stepped closer. Before John could react, his finger reached out and brushed the side of John's face, then he stuck it in his mouth.

"Russian teacakes."

John took an involuntary breath and let it out in a shudders. His attraction spiked and with it his fury. Why on earth did he have to love such an impossible man? "Do you even listen to me?"

"Of course, I listen. I don't answer because it should be obvious."

"I'm not as bright as you are, Sherlock, so no. It's not."

"I'm afraid," Sherlock deadpanned.

John scoffed. "You love danger. I can't imagine you being scared of anything."

"I don't mind physical danger. But not emotional. You've gotten under my armor. I've become too used to you. If I let you in all the way, I don't think I could ever let you out. I'd use every method at my disposal to keep you with me. Including criminal acts."

John sniffed in a deep breath again. Adrenaline felt like fire under his skin. To his horror, he felt himself harden.

Sherlock's eyes widened, a small smile crept around the corners of his lips. "Oh I see now. You like the danger of it. Having a sociopath for a lover excites you."

"A bit," John admitted.

"You should know by now that I'm extremely self-centered. I will do with you what I please. Demand of you what I want. I will dictate when and where and what will happen with the iron fist of a tyrant. I will have high expectations of your performance."

"Oh God," murmured John closing his eyes and turning his face away. He was sweating.

"And don't think that Mycroft can help you, whatever he may have promised. Should you ever attempt to leave me, I will hunt you down. I will find you. There is no going back from this."

"Be quiet," begged John. Not because the words Sherlock was saying terrified him, though they should have, but because they turned him on to the point of desperation. The threats caressed their way into his brain like sweet nothings. This is sick, he thought to himself.

"But chances are it will never reach that point," Sherlock continued, calmly. "Because I will manipulate you without shame or compunction. There is nothing you will ever do or think that I won't know. I will counter any clever plan with the ease of a child knocking over a sandcastle."

John could feel the heat of Sherlock's body leaning over him. His breath was warm in John's ear. He couldn't stop his shaking.

"You really are amazingly submissive." Sherlock's voice was suddenly quiet and awed. "No wonder you enjoyed military service. The disciple must have been quite arousing for you."

The spell broke. John couldn't think of his time in the army that way. Having Sherlock cheapen his experiences into a fetish was too insulting.

"That's enough!" John attempted to turn away and head for the stairs, but he found himself flipped around and caught – crushed against Sherlock's body. His gasp was cut off by Sherlock's mouth. He felt his lips pressed, sucked, mauled lightly by Sherlock's teeth and suddenly it was difficult to even stand anymore.

He felt more than saw Sherlock pushing him, not to the stairs, but through the open door to Sherlock's room. John tripped on the detritus, nearly fell, but was caught, and then suddenly came to his right mind again with the back of his knees pressed against Sherlock's mattress.

"Perhaps we should slow down," he said, his words choppy from hyperventilation. "Think, plan a little."

"Too late for that," said Sherlock. His words were startlingly cold.

"I'm not saying no," said John. "I'm just asking for a little—" Sherlock pushed him and he fell backwards. His head narrowly missed smacking against the wall.

"My terms. My conditions. Fist of a tyrant."

"At least we should have a safe word."

"This isn't some BDSM tryst where I play the dominant partner, but really you control me from the bottom. If that was what you wanted, you really chose poorly. We don't need safe words. You have no idea how loudly your body speaks to me."

"And if I change my mind," he retorted, as anger and frankly sanity came surging to the fore.

"You really are playing quite stupid today. You don't get to change your mind. Ever. Now lie back and enjoy this. The front of your pants are drenched and I'm afraid if I slow any further you will come before I've had a chance to undress you."

"But –"

"I really aught to gag you. It might calm your incessant need to chatter." His eyes had gone completely cold. John's mouth snapped shut.

Sherlock undressed him. His fingers dexterously navigated the buttons of John's shirt, one at a time, all the while his eyes held him pinned, immobile to the mattress. John dared not move, he hardly dared breathe except as he was ordered to. The shoes came next, unlaced then yanked and finally tossed carelessly into the hall. Finally the pants. Belt buckle, zip, and down, along with his underwear in one quick yank. John's cock bobbed up, hair triggered with eagerness. For a moment Sherlock seemed to stare at it, fascinated, as if trying to understand it.

"Don't you dare touch yourself," he ordered. "I want you on your knees in front of me." He unzipped and freed his own cock and held it out. The look on his face was calm. "Remember my expectations." Or else. The threat didn't need to be spoken.

John scrambled to his knees and leaned forward. The shock of touching a penis with his lips nearly drove him over the edge. He couldn't suppress a whimper.

"Control your thoughts!" ordered Sherlock. "Concentrate and do your best."

John nodded, took a deep breath and held it until he thought he was back enough from the brink. Then he let it out and tried again. This time he was able to take Sherlock into his mouth. Sexual frustration seemed to ebb back in favor of a zen-like state of bliss. The texture was amazing. His tongue caressed every vein, bumped over the foreskin and savored the glans. He licked the shaft and drove his tongue under the fabric, feeling the sharp bite of the zip against his lips. He drew the cock into himself, feeling oddly mellow and comforted with every bobbing suck. Time suspended, he almost didn't notice the gasps of pleasure Sherlock was making, or the way his hand tightened in his hair then relaxed to pet the back of his head.

"Stop," it was more a plea than a order, but John obeyed at once. The fabric around Sherlock's cock was sopping with his saliva. "There is a bottle of lubricant under the bed by your foot. I want you to go onto the bed and manually prepare yourself for me. Be quick, or I won't wait."

John scrambled. Sherlock had a lot of things under his bed. Clothes, books, papers, the odd plate. If he'd been less motivated he might not have found the bottle at all. He grabbed it, had it opened and poured into the other hand almost in one motion. If Sherlock cared about the haste or the lack of grace he used in clambering onto the bed, he didn't let it show. He had the same look of concentration he got when examining a corpse. John wondered if he felt the same pleasure as well.

He didn't waste too much time with the thought. Instead he set about preparing himself. It had been a long time since he'd experimented in any sort of ass play. He hoped that his body could be tricked into behaving before Sherlock lost patience and dove straight in.

And on that thought his frustration surged, making him exquisitely, almost painfully hard. Another moan found it's way out of his lips before he could stop it.

Sherlock must have taken that for a signal, because he pulled John's fingers roughly away and lined himself up. With one slow, but concerted push, he found his way in. Again the world seemed to go away. John couldn't seem to see or hear, all he could do was feel the slow unyielding stretch, and the soothing warmth of a body next to him, coming closer, touching outside as well as in.

Sherlock paused, fully seated. "Breathe."

John forced a breath into his tight chest. The world came rushing back to him. The awkward position of lying with his knees in the air. The scrape of Sherlock's clothing against his bare thighs, an uncomfortable fold of bedding against in his back. As he tried to shift to ease the various aches and itches, Sherlock grabbed his calves and forced his knees up to his chest and pressed harder against his backside. John stilled.

Without warning, Sherlock began to thrust. It was steady, short strokes to begin with, lengthening, and increasing in force until there was an audible slap every time he bottomed out. John grabbed the bedding in both fists and held on tight. Even the purely accidental friction of his cock against his belly was almost enough to make him come.

Suddenly, Sherlock leaned back, his thrusts slowed for a moment as he grabbed John's cock in a slick fist and pumped it.

Too much. From "getting close" to "there" happened so quickly John couldn't stop or slow it down. He felt the warmth of his own ejaculate seep into the folds of his belly and rode out the shocks of orgasm. Sherlock let go as soon he couldn't milk any more and went back to thrusting again. A few seconds later he stopped. John hadn't felt anything and Sherlock's expression hadn't changed, but the moment he withdrew, it was obvious he'd come as well.

Reason returned like a swift kick in the head. "You forgot the condom," he admonished. The doctor in him cringed. AIDS, hepatitis, antibiotic resistant gonorrhea….

"I didn't forget," said Sherlock. He stretched, looking quite satisfied with himself, then threw himself on the bed next to John. "I quite deliberately chose not to use one."

John frowned, he rolled onto his side, then grabbed his belly to prevent dripping. He looked down as if it could be poison in his hand, though this particular mess came from himself. "In this day and age – you've been sleeping – I heard that – Mycroft said."

"When I sleep with prostitutes, I use condoms. There should be no need for me to use them with you. As a doctor, I trust that you have taken all the necessary precautions in the past."

"Of course."

"Very well then. I don't see a problem. So long as we remain monogamous, that is one expense we won't need to have."

Reluctantly John leaned back. "And that stuff about hunting me down and all that rubbish… that was rubbish, wasn't it?"

Sherlock cracked open an eye and looked at him. His expression suddenly very serious.

"Let's hope for both our sakes we never find out."

Mycroft got into the back of the car with Constance, as she was calling herself this week. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "How did it go, my dear."

She barely looked up from her blackberry. "Pretty much exactly as you expected. They were in bed together within minutes."

"Excellent. I think we can go ahead and cancel surveillance on the other candidates. Our soldier seems to have fit the bill after all."


"Not all. Though I'm heartily glad John Watson made the right call. For a minute or two I worried that he might panic and back out. I would have hated to have gone through all that tedious matchmaking and not have it take. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to have a particular soldier shot in a way that will discharge but not disable him? If the marksman had been just a bit off…." Mycroft shuddered. "We could have sacrificed a good man for nothing."

"Relax, it worked out." She smiled. "So, standard surveillance from now on?"

"Of course." Mycroft allowed himself to relax. "And if you would, go ahead and tell those hysterical ninnies at Home Office that Sherlock's rent-boy situation has been resolved." He straightened up and slapped his thighs with a smile. "And then lets take a closer look at the problem of Bosnia, shall we?"

The car pulled away from the curb.