“…A lot of cloud across Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are still a few showery bits across the UK but it will remain bright in the southeast where temperatures are already in the high twenties this morning and will likely continue to rise to the low thirties by this afternoon…”
The old metal Westinghouse fan rattles as it oscillates causing the corners of scattered paper to rise and fall in synchronicity, as if in supplication to the uncommon heat. As the air blows across the table and out of the open windows, sounds of the city drift in.
Freshly showered and shaved, Sherlock curses the heat and unfastens his second button. He is already sweating again. Perspiration at his temples commingles with his still-damp hair. He selected his only cambric linen suit (charcoal for summer) but will have to remain in shirtsleeves for now. Grudgingly, he leaves his jacket draped over the chair and steps to the window as he waits for John to get ready.
Yesterday’s case was a five: The bus driver, his wife, her lover. The aconite in the meal replacement powder. John had found the Slim Tru coupon beneath the driver’s seat, nudged Sherlock and passed it up. It was a crucial piece to the puzzle that led them to the suspect, the motive, and finally an admission. Lestrade’s team had been able to finish up the case overnight and they told the DI they would stop in at NSY this morning to complete paperwork. Bother.
The excessive air-conditioning sounds agreeable, however. John can handle the paperwork while he scours cold case files. A tiny smirk alights on Sherlock's lips at the the pun. He listens to the hum of the old pipes and checks his watch... John has been in there for eight minutes already, and is he singing?
Something tightens in Sherlock’s throat and he shivers, despite the heat. He shuts his eyes.
The weather is a portent. It all started yesterday.
Sergeant Donovan nods as John speaks. She reaches into her pocket for her phone. Scrolls down, looking for something. She finds it, hands the phone to John. Sherlock strains to read her lips from where he stands on the opposite side of the police vehicle: Ann? Alan? Ellen.
John looks down at the phone, nods with indifference and replies. Donovan looks surprised but hides it with a shrug. John is speaking again as Donovan looks directly at Sherlock. They stare at each other for a moment and she crosses her arms.
Sherlock stands frozen in place. A prickling sensation creeps across his neck and shoulders. Nausea. He taps his fingers against his thigh. A cigarette would be nice. He leans over to rifle through papers until he finds his half full pack of Dunhills. Why are his hands shaking? (He knows why.) The weather is a portent. As he searches for the lighter papers flutter to the floor.
He and John are in a cab heading back to Baker Street.
“You’re quiet,” John remarks.
Sherlock’s heart rate has increased. Why? He wonders. Adrenaline obviously. But why now? Mitral and tricuspid valves closing, ventricles contracting. His heart is pounding.
“Ellen,” Sherlock says.
John shakes his head as though he doesn’t understand.
“Donovan wanted to set you up with her friend Ellen.”
John rolls his eyes and nods. “Okay, I don’t know how you managed to glean that bit of information from eight meters away. But, yeah, she did.”
“She’s attractive,” Sherlock states, his tone neutral.
John nods in agreement. “Yes. She is. What is this about Sherlock?”
Sherlock looks directly at John and lowers his voice. “You haven’t been out on a date in over three months, John. I know who Ellen is. I met her at one of those horrid holiday parties at the Met; she was tolerable. Forthright, relatively intelligent, and as I recall, possessing of nearly all of the physical attributes you find attractive in the feminine form. You just said yourself…”
John is laughing softly. He holds the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger as he shakes his head. Sherlock feels ever so slightly mocked. He sits back and lets the subject linger. John lets out a huff of resignation and watches the trees of Hyde Park pass, a palette of greens against the grey of early evening.
“Why did you decline?” Sherlock finally asks.
“You want to know what I said,” It’s not a question, but Sherlock returns a nearly imperceptible nod.
“I told her I'm not looking to meet anyone right now. I told her that I'm too busy."
Sherlock quickly tries to deduce if he should laugh out loud. Was that a joke?
John delivers the slightest smile as he turns back to the window. "You do keep me busy," he says quietly. But he doesn't laugh. Not a joke then.
And so Sherlock also turns away. He watches the Grosvenor House as it passes and tries to pinpoint when he became so very familiar with this ache he cannot name.
Sherlock jumps as the bathroom door swings open and the doorknob thuds against the wall.
“Nothing like a cold shower,” John steps out in his bathrobe and rubs his short hair roughly with a towel. “You got it to work!” he says, looking at the fan.
“Mmm. Just needed a bit of aluminium foil in the right place,” Sherlock lifts his chin proudly. (He leaves out the bit about getting a nasty electrical shock after opening the housing).
John bends down to get a closer look. “Yeah but what about these wires sticking out the back, Sherlock? We really ought to just get a new one.”
“Mrs. Hudson’s threatened to bring up a new one. She gave me this one when I moved in. It works and I like it. Why would we want some cheap plastic model?”
“Because it’s a fire hazard?” John offers.
Sherlock turns dismissively back to the window as John moves to the dining table to look over the newspaper. He reads for several minutes, still absently rubbing his hair with the towel so that it sticks up at odd angles. Sherlock turns the pack of cigarettes over in his hand and watches John out of the corner of his eye.
“Another warm one,” John says.
“You didn’t drink your tea,” he adds, gesturing toward the cup on the table.
He looks up at Sherlock and they lock eyes. Something is wrong; John notices it right away. The man looks drawn, tired, paler than usual. He opens his mouth to speak, then shuts it again, clutches at the pack of cigarettes.
“What is it?” John smiles to cover the tinge of worry in his voice.
The fan pivots and vibrates in an endless rhythm, lifting the edges of the newspaper, rousing wisps of his unruly hair.
Sherlock tosses the cigarettes onto the table and crosses his arms. “In the past, you have never been too busy.”
John looks lost, “I don't—”
"To go out!" Sherlock interrupts. "On your," he waves a hand dismissively, "dates." His heart has begun to race again. Uncomfortable. Caring is not an advantage! Sweat drips down his back. Vexatious. Further, John is still looking perplexed. Sherlock gathers his thoughts, takes a deep breath and steps forward. “Let me rephrase. You have always found it necessary to pursue romantic relationships with women. It is simply a part of who you are.” He sounds accusatory.
John nods, chuckling. “Yeah, true.”
Sherlock narrows his eyes, “What has changed John?"
“I don’t know,” John shrugs. He really doesn’t. But he will not divert his gaze as Sherlock tries to find the thread of data; while he is deconstructed by those mesmerizing green eyes.
“What I mean is, why aren’t you—” Sherlock halts, in a rare display of uncertainty. "Are you saying, I mean— What are you saying, John?”
“I might ask you the same question," John answers coolly. He lets his gaze drop to Sherlock’s lips and they stand, mindful of the weighty matter expanding between them.
They are so close now that John can feel Sherlock’s body heat and notice his particular scent: laundered cotton, tobacco, soap, something else that can’t exactly be named. The familiar essence grabs at John’s core and twists. Adrenaline, fear, all-consuming desire starts to rise in his body like an electrical storm.
The rush of air from the fan is causing Sherlock’s collar to flutter. John takes in a deep breath and grabs the chair behind him to feel grounded. His robe has fallen open to reveal several scars. He is usually so careful to keep them covered.
Ever so hesitantly, Sherlock raises his hand to trace over one. Cracks in his inscrutable demeanor hint at fear and then awe before he carefully moves on to trace another. A moment later he stops; slender fingers hovering just above John's skin and he is about to pull away when John grabs hold. He puts Sherlock's palm firmly against his chest. His heart is pounding, fast and strong, activated by adrenaline. Sherlock looks up startled, lips parted, and at this John moves closer until they are mere centimeters apart. They stand, unsure, breathing electrified air. At the first touch of their lips, the universe shifts irreversibly yet remains perfectly still.
Sherlock lets out a breath against the edge of John’s mouth as if he has been holding it since the day they met. Slowly, cautiously, the slide of their lips becomes a fully formed kiss. Sherlock holds John gently by one wrist and snakes his other hand up to grasp John's good shoulder. John reaches around, and in a moment pulls their bodies closer together.
Soon each man’s arousal is incontestable. Sherlock nudges John back against the table, trails his lips over his jaw and circles his ear. "I want you John Watson," he whispers. John bucks and gasps and as he lifts his chin, finds a bead of sweat near Sherlock’s hairline. He licks it away before responding.
"Yes,” he says simply.
They part, skin flushed, and stare at one another as if neither are quite sure what to make of the situation.
Sherlock must admit he has never felt aroused like this. It is nothing like self-stimulation, and not like any of his seven previous sexual encounters. If anything, it mimics the painfully intense craving of drug withdrawal. What has John done to him? He wonders. This stalwart, predictable man. This unobtrusive doctor and soldier who wears boat shoes and tartans and the colour tan. Sherlock lets his gaze linger on John’s soft wheat-and-honey hair before letting it slowly travel down his muscular, compact, maddening body. All of it makes his legs go weak. John smirks, grabs hold of his arm to keep him upright and with a little tilt to his head, suggests that they move to the bedroom. Sherlock gives a very serious nod. As he strides across the flat, he unbuttons his shirt with shaking hands, hops on one leg as he pulls off his linen trousers and is down to his pants by the time he reaches the bed.
John shuts the door behind them, removes his robe (still in his pants) and hangs it on the hook. When he turns, Sherlock is already invading his space, stepping forward to pepper his neck with little nudging kisses. God. The man's scent, unencumbered by clothing. John breathes in, reels and bares his throat. But then there is something unrelenting tugging at the back of his mind. “Hold on. Wait," he says. “Stop. Sherlock, stop a minute."
Sherlock pulls back. The curtains are tightly shut against the heat of day and John can just make out a frown on those lips, a radiant rim of silver as he rolls his darkened eyes. “You just sent us charging in here,” he huffs.
John nods. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry. It's just— is this too fast?”
“Too fast for what?”
John chuckles and touches Sherlock’s chest with his knuckle. “I mean, will we regret this?” he asks.
"Oh," Sherlock looks momentarily pensive. "Well, neither of us can predict what will happen, John. But we are two consenting adults who are attracted to one another, judging by… things,” he makes a vague gesture towards his groin, which makes John laugh nervously again.
Sherlock sits on the edge of the bed, leans back onto his elbows. “What worries you?” He asks, his tone uncharacteristically gentle. John sits down next to him and runs his hand over his face.
“It’s not the 'gay' thing... I suppose I'm over that. Christ, I had to get over it quickly when I realized I could not stop thinking about you. Your… you know.” John lets his lustful gaze travel down over Sherlock's bewitchingly bare torso. He is about to say “body.” But as Sherlock watches John's neck and ears flush in the dim light, his demeanor goes predatory and he lets his voice drop. “My what, John?" He sits up. "My ability to remove intact joints?” he asks seductively, “By sawing across the proximal and distal bones to avoid the articular cartilage and the meniscus?”
John rolls his eyes and starts to laugh. “Yeah, that’s it. I can't stop thinking about your body parts."
It may be the adrenaline wearing off, or a momentary relief from the heavy subject matter, but all of the sudden they are both laughing.
Sherlock runs his hand over his chest in feigned coquetry. “The way I expose my body parts always does seem to leave you flustered, John." His voice falls into a black velvet baritone as he adds, "But you know they can't all fit in the crisper.”
They laugh and when John snorts, they laugh harder until Sherlock has to wipe a tear from his eye.
Once they settle down, Sherlock swallows, chuckles again, and John takes a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling, as though for mercy. “Well this is… different. Sitting in the dark in our pants, talking about your body parts.” Finally, he looks over at his friend and makes another attempt to be candid. (Though still smiling a bit, Sherlock is looking down at his own hands.) John shakes his head. “I just, I don’t want to ruin what we have. Our friendship means..." John takes a deep breath, "actually, it really means everything to me.”
A moment passes before Sherlock looks up. John wonders if he has made a mistake, shared too much. He can’t tell if Sherlock’s eyes have gone glassy or if the dim light is playing tricks. When he speaks, his voice is hesitant to the point of being hardly recognizable. “It may be a moot point for me John. I am capable of so many things. But I have found it completely impossible to stop myself from wanting you."
The admission hits John squarely in the chest. He finds it hard to speak, so he simply nods.
John decides they are done talking.
He leans in until he feels those warm lips beneath his own. Sherlock takes a long breath in through his nose as John presses him back onto the bed. The kiss is deep and long. John raises his hand to run a thumb across the smooth place behind one perfect ear, lets his palm finally roam down over that strong, slender chest, then moves his entire body closer as his curious fingers continue even further down. As he skims the elastic of Sherlock's fine cotton briefs, he is rewarded with a whimper. Sherlock arches. "John please - go on."
John rests on one elbow to increase his leverage and slides a hand over the front of the thin, silky fabric as Sherlock shuts his eyes. The heat, the damp cotton, rigidity beneath send unsurpassed pulses of arousal to John's own groin. He strokes gently over the fabric, pulls, strokes, pulls, reverently without stopping. Sherlock begins to writhe. Exasperated, he rises, pushes at his waistband ineffectually. He looks lost, drugged, as though in a stupor.
“Can I help you?” John smiles, nudges Sherlock's bottom lip with own. He sits up and pulls at the interfering pants until Sherlock can kick them irreverently to the floor. John stands and quickly removes his last layer too.
He climbs back onto the bed and hovers over Sherlock with a dazed smile and is immediately drawn into a ravenous embrace. Sherlock arches, pressing their damp bodies flush. He runs his hands over John’s back and up through his fine, short hair. The heat has made them sweaty and the wetness and friction between them is something beyond luscious. Sherlock groans as they rut against one another, he bites his lip, grimaces and gasps. He lets his mouth drop open, emitting little breaths of encouragement. “John,” he whispers in John’s ear, “You... Always you.”
John closes his eyes against a surge of emotion.
After several moments Sherlock pushes at John’s chest and shakes his head, “up,” he says. They sit up and John notices how completely lovely the man looks. (About as debauched as anyone would be, with heat and friction making his cheeks and chest pink and ruddy, skin glowing with sweat, hair wild, lips red). At first, Sherlock doesn’t use his words, instead tapping on John’s back, gesturing for him to sit on the edge of the bed.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” he says. John merely looks puzzled but he follows, swinging his legs over the side of the mattress. Sherlock’s intention becomes immediately apparent, however, when he lowers himself to the wood floor and his smirk turns into a devilish smile. Gently, he nudges John’s legs apart and tentatively rubs several fingers over John’s erection.
John knows he is done for. He places his hands behind him to lean back and gets ready to (as in any situation) follow this man right over the edge of the earth. John wants to laugh when Sherlock takes a hold of his cock gingerly, as though it were a flute of champagne at a royal luncheon. But every thought is interrupted when Sherlock holds his gaze, leans down and drags his tongue up and back over John’s erect shaft. He curls one strong hand around John’s prick, strokes and pulls and thus begins the repetition; the hot, assertive movement of his hand and the perfect wet suction of that seductive mouth. As the man's tongue flutters in the most miraculous way… John knows he can’t hold on. He feels his breath quickening and grips the bedding behind him. Sherlock looks up, eyes dark and licks shamelessly at the glans. John closes his fists more tightly around the bedding and cries out as though he is about to slide into an abyss. “Oh…” he gasps. “I can’t. Sherlock I’m going to—” But Sherlock only smiles and leans forward, sucking him down again. John feels the familiar numb euphoria creeping in, enveloping his body. He goes tense, his muscles seizing as the timeline of life approaches him and stops. Seconds later, his tremendous orgasm crests sending seismic waves of pleasure coursing through his body. He cries out, and gathers his awareness just long enough to realize Sherlock hasn’t let a drop of his ejaculate escape but instead has swallowed him, every ounce, and he tries to speak. His throat is dry as he realizes he is still gasping and whimpering. “Oh God,” is all he can say. When he is able to think enough to move, he reaches down to grab the lunatic at his feet and drag him up to the bed. He can of course, taste himself as they kiss, deeply, forcefully. He will never let go of this man.
How? How? John asks himself over and over, dimly aware that his mind has short circuited. Sherlock has started to rut forcefully against him and John reaches down to take hold of his cock, by now slippery with pre-come. He pulls steadily, consistently, speeding, understanding the man’s intense need for release. Sherlock lies back and gives a breathless cry. He thrusts up, panting, cursing, then shuts his eyes tightly against the coming wave. It is though he cannot catch his breath and he reaches down to join John’s hand with his own. After a moment, John can feel that he is close. “That’s it,” he goads. “Let go…”
Their joined hands fly over his swollen cock as his he presses his feet into the bed and arches upward. “God yes, you beautiful, beautiful…”
Sherlock groans loudly as he comes. Streams of ejaculate pulse out from him, covering their hands and his stomach. He gasps and rolls his head from one side to the other while John grips and pulls in firm, steady repetition. “Mmmm, yeah, good, that’s it,” he whispers.
“Yoo hoo!” Comes a voice from the hallway.
“I’ve got your new fan Sherlock!”
John shuts his eyes and puts his head down. “Oh no no no no no,” he mutters. Sherlock’s laugh rises like a low hum, causing his body to shake. In a few split seconds John is off the bed, stumbling toward his robe.
“Helllooo!” Mrs. Hudson calls. “Sherlock! Are you here? I don’t want to bother you – I’ve just brought you a new fan. Jo-ohn?” she calls.
John is not exactly thinking clearly. He pulls his robe closed and looks around for something on which to wipe his hands. “Fuckfuckfuck…” he mutters. Sherlock has thrown an arm over his face and seems dead to the world, though John thinks he may still be laughing.
John opens the door, steps out and shuts it behind him quickly.
Mrs. Hudson looks surprised to see him. “Oh hello John!” she says and he can see the puzzle pieces in her head fall into place one by one. It isn’t a very big puzzle and so it happens almost immediately.
She smiles in a way that's pure and genuine.
“I just brought you a new fan…” she says, still holding the box.
John, who blushes easily and doesn’t want to think about how very red he must be, rushes over to take the box. “Oh, right, terrific. Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. Let me take that from you," he stammers. He sets it on the kitchen table as she motions toward the old fan, still whirring away.
“I see he’s got this one working?”
“Ah, yes. Said it just needed a little attention.”
Mrs. Hudson winks. “Don’t we all,” she says.
John can’t take much more and puts his hand on her arm as he tries to usher her out the door. “Really, it was so nice of you to bring this up. We were just getting ready to go out. But how about we all have tea later? Perhaps around four. Why don’t you come up then and we’ll… we’ll all have tea then alright?”
Mrs. Hudson laughs, “It's much too hot up here, dear. Why don’t you come down? I have an air conditioner,” She pats his cheek and smiles. “Four o’ clock. I even have a nice fruit crumble.”
Just as John is about to close the door, she turns. “Oh John,” she grins. “I think it’s wonderful.” John swallows and smiles awkwardly. “Yes... well ah, thank you… See you at four then, yeah?”
John sighs and looks at the ceiling. Just as he steps into the kitchen, Sherlock emerges from the bedroom wearing nothing but his light blue sheet. His hair is a mess and he squints against the light. “What was all that about?”
John fills the kettle. “She got us a new fan, she’s glad we’re shagging and tea’s on at four. Downstairs.”
“Tsk,” Sherlock rolls his eyes at the boxed appliance and comes up behind John, who has just set the kettle to boil. Sherlock wraps the sheet around the both of them. “Actually we can put this one in the bedroom. It will help cool things off at night.”
John looks up. "We? What? Your bedroom?” he asks.
“You can’t sleep upstairs, John. It's much too hot.”
"Ah, right." John kisses Sherlock's chest lightly and breathes in before letting out a contented hum. "I think it's going to be hot for a while,” he says.