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Upward Spiral

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            James pulled back in mild surprise that only grew as he looked to Sherlock and saw him nodding in agreement. 

            “Wh…that was not what I had planned in coming here. Sherlock?” 

            “No, you’re quite right, James, but now we’re here I find I agree with John. You need…some quality attention,” Sherlock replied with a suggestive little smirk that made both John and James’ guts drop. There was no point in wasting any time – Sherlock grasped the bottom panels of his button-up and pulled his own shirt up and off.  A little flicker of surprise and recognition passed on James’ face as he took in Sherlock’s bullet scar. Now he understood what Sherlock had meant by sharing near-death experiences. Of course, that also meant…

             John followed suit in peeling away his cardigan, button-up, and undershirt. That, of course, revealed his old injury, which James had never seen without pounds of gauze and medical tape. It hit him much harder than he expected; John reached over to steady James’ slight weaving and patted his paling cheek. 

            “Whoa, James, take it easy. I’m sorry, I didn’t stop to think.”           

            James’ eyelids fluttered, and he shook his head to clear it. 

            “Me either. I didn’t expect that kind of reaction. It’s been so long.” 

            Sherlock’s brow wrinkled. 

            “I suppose you were there.” 

            Neither John nor James spoke, but they did faintly nod without looking at each other. That had begun the unraveling of their relationship. However, it had also been the prelude to John’s life with Sherlock, and now, a real opportunity had been given to John and James to put everything to rest because of it. That had made for a long, hard road, but it had come around in a better place. It never would have worked for them back in Afghanistan, for many reasons; that had been evident from the start. 

            “Sorry. This really isn’t the time, is it?” Sherlock said, successfully lifting the bit of gloom that had descended on his partners. John ushered Sherlock to him. That John still hadn’t told Sherlock about it weighed heavily on his mind, but he was right – that was for another time. It was all so tied up with James, anyway. 

As his own little apology, John began undoing Sherlock’s trousers, holding his eyes with a knowing little smirk all the while. James watched on, patiently waiting his turn. Once Sherlock was down to nothing, he turned and started in on James – only fair since John had done the top. When it came to James’ turn, however, he started in on John’s jeans with his right hand and…didn’t do very well. James had been left-handed before his injury, and John knew it. That, coupled with his lack of practice in undressing anybody besides himself in the past few years, it made for a short, but noticeable, challenge. John murmured and kissed his encouragement over James’ reddened face until he at last pulled the top button free and pulled the zipper. 

“John…” James said nervously. 

“You aren’t a disappointment,” John immediately answered, and James relaxed.           

            “It’s just…every little thing that used to be so simple…” 

            “I know. I could barely walk before I met Sherlock. You’ll get there.” 

            James gave John a confused look, but before he could comment, Sherlock came up behind him and threaded his arms loosely about James’ neck to address John in front of them both. 

            “I had a thought. Since James is to be the centre of attention anyway, I think we should opt to be on our sides. You in front, me behind. You two need some quality face time. Keep it low-key.” 

            “Good idea. My left side isn’t going to be conducive to anything, anyway,” James said. He had to admit, Sherlock’s touch was…nice. He rubbed one of Sherlock’s arms over his chest. “Question is, what about you?” 

            “Don’t worry about me. As long as you don’t mind me using you for a bit of frottage while you two have your fun.” 

            John made a small, involuntary noise. 

            James grinned.           

            “Not in the least.”           

            Plan made, they shuffled themselves into position. Both John and Sherlock had to slide up to meet James’ head, as he was taller than them both. A contented little sigh escaped James as they settled in; it was delightfully warm and inexplicably…secure, being in-between these two men. This was a feeling he hadn’t experienced in a very long time; it wasn’t exactly easy getting laid in a warzone, much less comfortably, and after he was hurt…well

            John, for his part, couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Sherlock caught his eye over James’ shoulder, however, and John could see the characteristic look in his eyes. When his irises, thinly colored for his widened pupils, grew stormy blue-grey, like thick, heady clouds ready to envelop John down to the soul. Sherlock wasn’t just reiterating his permission; he was all but begging John to follow through. 

            No arguing with that. 

            He returned his attention to James, carding his fingers up the small forest of hair covering James’ chest. Sherlock added his touch to the mix, scraping gently at James’ lower torso with short fingernails. James let go of all restraint and threaded his arm under John’s arm and around his shoulders to pull him in close as he could get. He’d gone so, so long thinking he’d never have this again, and he wouldn’t be deterred any longer. 

            John had forgotten just how commanding James could be. He was a Major, of course, but he was so soft-spoken it drew even John into a false sense of quietude. Time hadn’t softened James bodily just yet, either; if John closed his eyes, he might as well still be in Afghanistan, there was so little difference in sensation. He didn’t let himself drift back too far into memory, however – Afghanistan signified a lot of terrible things that had nothing to do with James. Instead, he contented himself with sliding his hand down the line of James’ profile, down to his hip. Lovely as Sherlock’s lithe shape was, there was something to be said for James’ much more stocky frame. After all, at one time he could physically pick John up as if he were a child -- he knew that from experience. 

            James was desperate, pouring repressed sentimentality into every new kiss, and slowly pulling John into a tighter and tighter embrace. Every now and again, John made sure to smooth a hand over Sherlock’s upper arm where it held James, or catch his eye -- just to remind him that John remembered and appreciated him. Not that Sherlock appeared to feel left out in the least; he’d discovered James was rather sensitive at the patch just behind his ear, and was taking full advantage. More than once, James broke out of a kiss for a surprised little gasp. Each time, it sent a more powerful shot of pure want straight to John’s cock. 

           “Jesus Christ,” James mumbled. “You two are a hell of team.” 

           “Like he said,” John replied, nodding to Sherlock, “you deserve quality attention.” 

           That was the point he took James in hand, as well as got his first legitimate moan out of his former commander. A rush of satisfaction swept over him, much as it had a decade earlier – it was an achievement getting anything involuntary out of James. Sherlock took the cue, too, burying his face in the nape of James’ neck to begin rutting into the crevice of his arse. 

            It had been ages since James had experienced anything even resembling a coupling like this, so he was quickly overwhelmed, though in the best way possible. This kind of overwhelming was a welcome change from the desperate isolation he’d grown accustomed to. There was no need for pretense, or even playful competition anymore, so he let his reactions, vocal and bodily, make themselves known without restraint. John and James were no longer soldier and commander; the equality they’d strained to achieve at war now fell comfortably at their feet, with Sherlock as a kind of broker between them. As in the rest of John’s life, Sherlock had been the missing piece here, too. A heady rush flooded his head with gratitude and adoration for it. 

            John chose to start with petting only his thumb up the underside in patient strokes. James was already hard from all the previous attention, but John’s delicate touch was what got him truly dripping. It began building in thick drops, and once John felt he’d sufficiently painted the shaft with it, he began stroking in long, firm passes. 

            “You like it hard and slow,” John murmured. “I haven’t forgotten that.” 

             James gave a choked gasp. 

            “Like a good burn, do you? Another thing we have in common,” Sherlock added before tilting his head to nibble at the back of James’ neck. “No wonder we’ve achieved such a rapport.” 

             James simply barked a long string of curses in response. 

             John hitched himself up to get as close as possible to James so he could wank them both off at once. He liked James’ hand right where it was, holding the base of his skull. This was easier, anyway. Sherlock rut at James’ arse, wet and hot and not quite enough even as his cock sunk deeper into the crevice. It made James’ feet twitch and shuffle a bit, searching to find purchase so he could push back into Sherlock. Since their hips were aligned, James panted and nuzzled into John’s hair, and John nipped and laved at James’ prone Adam’s apple in return. 

             Sherlock noted the size difference and grinned wickedly. 

            “I look forward to seeing you ride James’ lap,” he said, low and salacious. “Or maybe the other way round. I can’t pick.” 

            “Not until he fucks you, first,” John replied. 

            “Oh my fucking god,” James bleated. “I—I’m…“ 

            Too late. He came, coating John’s hand around them thoroughly, but John was unperturbed. Sherlock followed close behind; the idea of being bent over and had by James – and at John’s order no less – was too much for him. John released James’ dick to finish himself off, but at the last moment James played at the head with the tips of his fingers even as John desperately wanked to send him over. 

             John all but wanted to crawl under James’ skin in the aftermath, he got so close. Wonderful as it was, James couldn’t help but be surprised at such a show of emotionality from John. It certainly hadn’t been that way the last time they’d been together, but then…that hadn’t really been opportune at the time. Sherlock seemed unsurprised by the display; this must be the usual. In fact, Sherlock reached over James’ shoulder to gently card John’s hair. 

            “Should I go?” Sherlock asked quietly, but before James could speak his hasty refusal, John clapped a hand over Sherlock’s wrist wordlessly. That rather settled the matter. John didn’t speak further, and James let him continue to hide under his chin while Sherlock continued petting him from afar. At length, James interrupted Sherlock just long enough to capture his hand and press a grateful kiss to the backs of his fingers. An unexpected, happy little flutter stirred in Sherlock’s chest for it. Since John didn’t seem interested in conversation for the moment, Sherlock decided to capitalize. 

            “So, you’re gay, then?” he murmured into James’ shoulder. 

            “Mm, no. Bisexual. Much like John,” James said, though his words seemed purposefully weighted with a significance Sherlock didn’t recognize. John, however, responded by holding James a shade tighter. 

            “Ah,” Sherlock replied. The pieces were beginning to fit together. He pet James’ torso briefly and tousled John’s hair before raising himself up. “I’ve some errands to run, things to check up on. I’ll be home later,” he continued gently. John rocketed his head up to look at Sherlock, but his panic was short-lived upon seeing his partner’s small, understanding smile. James rolled onto his back to look Sherlock in the eyes. 

            “Sherlock—“ James began, but stalled. He didn’t even know where to start. 

            “Stay as long as you like,” Sherlock cut in softly. “Really, I won’t be terribly long. I’ll bring us back some lunch, if you’re keen.” 

            The promise of regrouping later eased James’ anxiety. He nodded. 

            “Yes, that sounds good. Haven’t eaten since before I got on the train.” He turned to John, who also gave a nervous little nod. He was still processing the morning. 

            Sherlock hopped out of bed with all his usual pep. 

            “Excellent. Both of you, clean up, you’re a disaster.” He gathered his clothes and disappeared into the bathroom. Within ten minutes, he was pounding down the stairs, leaving John and James where they were in bed, looking askance of each other.