"You'll like this one. Why do omegas have legs? Because if you thought snail trails in your garden were bad . . . " Jim Moriarty's face altered from cool mask to naughty child and he raised his hand and wriggled his fingers in a little wave so Sherlock could see the wet shine between the fingers of his blue nitrile glove.
Sherlock knew he was supposed to despise Moriarty most for being a mass murderer, compulsive criminal, and deranged sadist, but at the moment what he found most annoying about the man was that after so much promise of brilliance, of interest, of something new, he'd turned out to be just another alpha-supremacist with delusions that his cockhead constituted the godhead. It was just such a letdown.
"If I didn't know you've never touched him," Jim drawled, "I'd have lost all respect for you, Sherlock." He sat with careless elegance on the cot across the room, not even looking as his fingers idly stroked between John's buttocks, collecting the first wet secretions of his heat. John had his eyes clamped shut, his teeth gritted, and his face was red with shame and anger.
Sherlock was fairly sure the rage he felt was real, rational as rage could be, but the rising scent of John was turning it into something mad and uncontrolled and not helpful.
Sitting on the cot put Moriarty two meters out of the range allowed by the T-chain attached to the cuffs on Sherlock's wrists, even when he strained his shoulders and used the full length of his legs to kick. He had tried the first day.
It was their third day in the cell, and Sherlock had carelessly missed his medication the two days previous as well. He often did. No risk to it, after all, beyond few extra pheromones floating around, a little extra moodiness from fluctuating hormone levels. Stupid. Careless and stupid and now his brain was marinating in unwelcome chemicals as a punishment.
"Why not keep your own hands clean then? If omegas disgust you so much . . . " Sherlock kept his voice even and conversational, trying to match Moriarty's mood, keep him engaged. It was a moving target; the man shuffled dispositions like playing cards, and Sherlock was not quite in top form.
Jim grinned at him as if they were sharing a friendly little joke. "That is what the gloves are for. But really, they aren't even disgusting. Just dull, dull, dull." With the last word he made a little jab at John with a gloved fingertip that made John's face twitch, though John managed to hold any sound inside. "Soaked in hormones and bleating round the farmyard." He made another jab and John winced. "Not like us." He gazed at Sherlock and fluttered his lashes playfully.
"Isn't all this a bit of a distraction from your current . . . campaign?" Sherlock prodded. His voice was still under control but he had long since given himself away, eyes fixed on Jim's hand, on John's arse. John's skin was paler than he'd expected, hair on his legs so light and fine it was nearly invisible. There was a red blemish low on the curve of John's left buttock and an old, slightly raised scar towards the top. Jim, a left-handed man, was using his right hand on John. Every moment was presenting Sherlock with a wealth of detail, of information, and he couldn't make use of any of it.
He didn't even know what scheme Moriarty was in the middle of, had only glimpsed the edges: embezzlement, conspiracy, before he and John had been snatched and brought here to keep them out of Jim's way. "You've proved your point; a few days off medication and you can induce heat in an omega with a single injection. Hardly a new result." He was trying to nudge Moriarty into the idea that this particular game of Humiliate John had run its course, got boring.
"Don't worry about business, I'm making time for you," Jim said. "And I'm very good at multitasking."
"I think I'd prefer that you focus," Sherlock said pointedly. He wanted that lunatic enthusiasm trained back on Sherlock Holmes where it belonged.
"Don't go doubting me," Jim declared, and there went the lashes again. "This is all --" another jab at John -- "about you. I know how bored you get. This is a little distraction." His face went from childish mischief suddenly to dead-eyed anger. "And it's time you see this shitty little omega for what he is."
Jim stood up -- result: he was away from John -- and walked over to Sherlock. Each prisoner had a cot, fixed to the floor at his end of the cell, and Sherlock stayed seated on his, knowing that having him in an inferior position was something Jim would be attracted to. Jim cupped Sherlock's cheek in his damp gloved hand and Sherlock couldn't stop the jerk his body gave at the scent, John wet on his skin. "Time to leave the strained peas and pablum behind, Sherlock, and come take a bite of steak."
Sherlock took it as an invitation, a fast and nasty chop of his teeth together that would have taken a chunk out of Jim's finger or at least torn the glove if he'd pulled back a hair slower. "That's the way," Moriarty crooned at him, dark eyes wide and happy. "Stay hungry. Only another alpha is ever going to really satisfy you, Sherlock."
Sherlock sneered. Alphas. Not too many alphas around these days, and not because they were so exceptional and significant, but because the whole bloody lot of them, Jim and Sherlock and John and all, alphas and omegas alike, were crowding into the narrow end of their evolutionary cul-de-sac.
The normal human population, the 'betas' without the A-O twist in their DNA, had won out. Normal males and females, breeding in whatever season they pleased, breeding with casual success while alphas and omegas coupled frantically four times a year and managed un-aided impregnation slightly more often than, say, pandas in captivity.
What nature and time weren't doing to weed the alphas and omegas out, they were hurrying along themselves with hormone suppressant medication and lifestyle. Until now, John had lived his entire life as a beta man, and his sister's choice to identify as a woman instead was unusual but hardly unique.
Backing smoothly away from Sherlock, Jim gestured to his ever-present bodyguard.
(Not an easy read, this one: his single mother had raised dogs in their home, five years lived in eastern Europe as a teen, done at least three years with one of the larger and less effective mercenary outfits, that was it.)
The guard scooped up the heap of clothes John had shed, at gunpoint, so Jim could carry out his little examination. The gun stayed in the guard's right hand all the time, and there was a second man who always stood just outside the room with his own gun.
(The second man was as bad, all Sherlock could tell was that he had at least one older brother, and had been trained by someone who had been in the United States Army between 1979 and 1991.)
They had yet to make the kind of mistake that would give Sherlock an opening.
"Oi," John protested. He was sitting on his cot now with his legs drawn up in front of him like a barrier, his own chained hands on his knees. "You're leaving me here, stark bollock naked?"
Jim addressed his response to Sherlock. "People who dress up their pets -- so twee, isn't it?" Smirking and smelling faintly of alpha pheromones and more strongly the stolen scent of John, Jim meandered out of the cell in that way he had of always seeming at the mercy of external whims. The guard followed and the door clanged shut behind him, locks engaging automatically.
"Jesus," John whispered, when they were alone again, "Right. I suppose there are ways that could have been worse." He looked at Sherlock, humor brittle in his eyes. "He could have had a drosometer and a speculum."
Neither of them had to say aloud how truly relieved they were.
Sherlock should have known better than to expect Moriarty to go straight for something so pedestrian there was slang for it: 'cattle rustling' -- raping another alpha's omega in front of him. There were shelves dedicated to the topic in most porn shops. Betas liked it. The alphas in the films were always played by betas. Most alphas found the idea less titillating and more stomach-churning.
This was not exactly the same thing, of course. Jim had been quite right, Sherlock had never touched John sexually. John had chosen to live as a beta male. He had sex with women and only with women. Medication kept him out of heat, and his pheromone signature on a normal day was all but nil. Sherlock, who had rejected the whole business of wasting weeks of his life obsessed with some omega and his oestrus, had his own medication. Their partnership worked entirely without interference from their biology.
But now the whole thing was about to fall to pieces.
"Are you all right?" Sherlock asked. It sounded a stupid question. What he meant to ask, but could not, was whether Jim had actually penetrated with his playful little jabbing fingers. Sherlock hadn't been able to see exactly, and the idea that Jim's fingertip might have been inside John was making him feel very strange. Part of it was anger at the violation of his friend, because John was his friend, and so important, so valuable. That was reasonable, that was probably even normal. But another part of it was . . . well it was the hormones saying what alpha hormones always said when not doped into submission, which was: mine.
"No," said John. "I haven't had to do. . . this since I was fifteen years old, Sherlock. I'm a man. I'm a fucking bloke. My arse is not supposed to -- god!"
He got up and resumed the pacing he'd started almost as soon as they'd woken that morning. Omegas in proestrus tended to be restless, and apparently any urge to hide his nakedness had been overridden by the need to move.
John walked in an endless lopsided circle around his cot, out as far as the chain would let him. With every step he clinked. " I don't know if I can take this. You haven't had a wash for three days and my bloody body thinks you smell great. Moriarty even smelled good." He stopped, lips pursing, blinking several times. "I'll deal with it."
"If it helps, you're positively rank and I've got the urge to -- " Sherlock chose to amend the sentence before he spoke, to remove all mention of wanting to stick his nose in under John's arm and just -- "just, breathe you in."
"Yeah, that doesn't actually help, ta."