John's therapist was talking, and he wasn't really listening. She wanted him to write down everything that happened to him. Now that he was back. Shot up shoulder. Intermittent limp. Hand tremor. Feeling slightly lost and very alone in London after so long away.
"And have you thought any more about what we talked about last time?"
"I-- I did. It doesn't change how I feel, I mean. Look, bonding is the absolute last thing I'm looking for right now. The state I'm in." He could have been referring to his limp (psychosomatic in her opinion), or the tremor in his hand. But she knew John meant his state of mind.
The man needed something, and there was a tried and true way to get it.
"John, I'm just asking you to think about it -- not bond tomorrow! Perhaps just come off the suppressants . . . You’ve been on them longer than most men your age. I do think you are failing to address your fundamental needs as an Alpha. Not that you aren't still a young man, you've still got time, of course. But London isn't Afghanistan."
"Thanks, but I know it’s not Afghanistan. I am a doctor. Anyway, suppressants were practically mandatory to get through medical college. And in Afghanistan. . . look, I'm sure it's all in my file there. Alphas in deployed medical units are required to be on suppressants. Obviously. So I’d appreciate you not reading into it anything more than what is it – purely circumstantial.” He realised that he was over-explaining and sounded defensive and was irritated to see her making copious notes of his outburst.
"Very well. Just dating – with a beta -- would be good for you, then. No pressure to bond, no pressure to breed. Perhaps wait a bit before plunging into the Omega pool. "
# # #
The next day, he met Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes immediately proposed that they flatshare. Holmes had flamboyantly announced that he could see that John was a soldier, a doctor, had just been invalided home from Afghanistan, and that he was an Alpha.
John was too nonplussed to do more than ask the consulting detective's name and the address of the hypothetical shared flat, and forgot all about asking what the detective's own permutation was. Something about the man discouraged direct personal questions. Later that day, he decided that Holmes was an Alpha. Probably. Domineering and arrogant, with a decidedly swaggering physicality despite a certain exoticism to his looks.
But it was hard to tell for certain. He wasn’t yet used to the dizzying array of permutations in civilian life, especially in London – in the Army, all soldiers’ permutations were rigorously classified and controlled, and most of all not subject to privacy.
The man hadn't gotten close enough for him to catch any obvious scent. Also, he seemed to bundle himself in a long coat and scarf a great deal, which served to minimise the amount of bare skin giving off pheromones. He thrust away the surprising image of Sherlock's pale bare skin. Where the hell did that come from? Any possible deviation in his presumed orientation for female omegas had been ruthlessly driven down by his conservative village upbringing and later, his Army training. The penalties for fraternizing with his fellow male soldiers had been sure, painful and shameful. And of course, omegas were not allowed to serve in the field at all, although it was rumoured that omegas generally and male omegas in particular could be devastatingly effective in military intelligence and espionage.
Yes, the Army had made things simple and clear. And John Watson had done his level best to get in line.
Clearly his therapist was right. He needed to start dating.
# # #
Yes, John was ultimately destined, as he assumed, his therapist assumed, as everybody assumed, to ultimately bond and breed a female omega - when the time was right. His liaisons with women had thus far not progressed in that direction: he tended toward betas, time and again, telling himself it was because he hadn’t yet had the time or opportunity to change. And if he had ever strayed toward another male-- in the Army, for instance-- it has led to nothing but unhappiness and uncertainty, and was best left to the past. Male Alphas were meant to breed female omegas. Male omegas were exotic, confusing creatures, generally meant for keeping by wealthy collectors who enjoyed, and could afford to maintain, such rare and delicate things. Far from the world of an invalided Army doctor struggling to find his place in dull civilian life.
Flatsharing with another Alpha was just the ticket - as long as he didn't bring ripe Omegas into the flat at all hours.
He thrust that faintly disturbing thought from his mind.
Sherlock smiled arrogantly. "You look worried, Doctor Watson. I confess things are worse than you think. I'm an omega, if you hadn't already observed that. Ah, you hadn't. Not much of a doctor then? I suppose the suppressants make it harder for you to detect, yes?"
Holmes looked insufferably smug. John scowled back at him.
A male omega. A rara avis. Just five percent of all permutations. They made him mildly uncomfortable, suppressants or not.
"Yes," John had said warily. Unsure what he was saying yes to, exactly.
Sherlock strode across the room, loomed over him, and stared him down with what John would otherwise have sworn was true Alpha rank-pulling, and said: "Don't worry. I'm taking a little hormonal cocktail of my own invention. You won't know the difference to living with an Alpha. I assure you that I have no intention whatever of permitting myself any . . . lapses. I never do."
He meant that he didn't have heats. Neither did John, for the time being. It wasn't like they'd be flatsharing for life. Except that Sherlock Holmes made it sound like just as much a matter of his personal will as the suppressants, whether he ever went into heat or not. The man’s arrogance was truly astounding.
John took the opportunity to inhale as Holmes moved deep into his personal space – any closer and they would be touching - but he caught no scent at all. Well, maybe a hint of Alpha. But that might have been him.
"Neither do I," John said firmly. "I should warn you, though, that I'm intending to come off the suppressants. But, ah, I'm --" he floundered momentarily. He didn't want to give offense.
"Indeed," Sherlock finished for him ambiguously. "You'll agree, of course, not to use the flat for any -- episodes" John shook his head emphatically. When and if he went into heat and found a partner - a female Omega partner - they would go to a red hotel. Far from 221b Baker Street. Sherlock was watching his face intently, and smirked. "And don't worry, John. I assure you that I won't subject you to any unwanted attentions."
After a single day filled with thrilling adventure, which began with him examining a corpse at a crime scene and ended in him shooting a demented cabbie, he took the flat.
He would simply permit himself no thoughts of any kind about Sherlock Holmes' omega-ness.
Without any real discussion, they fell into a rather effective partnership, and that crime scene was the first of many. Everything was brilliant.
And it was all fine.
* * *
Except that it wasn't fine. Not entirely.
Instead, things were sometimes . . .confusing.
Shortly after he had moved into 221b, John had woken in the middle of the night. Sometimes he had nightmares, but that wasn't it. He wondered if coming off the suppressants was disturbing his sleep. He tossed and turned. It was no good. He crept downstairs. Maybe a cup of herbal tea.
For once the flat was silent. Generally Sherlock stayed up most of the night, working on his experiments, or updating his incomprehensible blog, mysteriously banging in and out of the flat at strange hours of the night. He hadn't yet worked out when the man slept. He was sleeping now, though. John was envious. He knew that the detective had an alarming assortment of drugs -- some legal and harmless, some quite the opposite -- in the medicine chest in his bathroom. It couldn't hurt to look for a sleeping tablet. Tomorrow he could get his own. He stepped quietly toward the bathroom door. And that was when he heard the sounds. He had been in the Army, after all. He was quite familiar with the desperate sound of a man trying to wank quietly without anybody hearing. His feet froze to the spot and his cock sprang to attention.
Sherlock's bedroom door was ajar. He would have to take a few steps down the hall and stand in front of the door to see what Sherlock was doing. He pushed that thought away --- why, for god's sake, would he want to see that? He should back away as quietly as he had come in so Sherlock wouldn't think he was being spied upon.
But the sounds, god those sounds. Whatever he was doing to himself sounded like it felt better than anything John had ever done or felt or even imagined. The erotic sounds were soft but unrestrained, coupled with the faint smack of his hand stroking himself - not hard and fast like John did himself -- here his hand flew to his own cock, just to push it back down -- but slow, deliberate. Like Sherlock was taking his sweet time.
John felt trapped, confused. He should leave. What if Sherlock got up after, maybe to wash? And found him standing here with a raging hard-on. But it didn't sound like this would be over with any time soon. He found himself praying that Sherlock would come, so that he could flee while he was seized with orgasm. And that, of course, brought an image, unbidden, of Sherlock coming - what would that look like? He shouldn't even be having these thoughts.
He took a silent step backward. And then he heard something that made his face burn and his chest feel suffocated. The harsh amplified voice of a man on speaker. Sherlock must have his mobile - maybe even his laptop -- on the bed, next to him. "Very good, Sherlock. That is perfect."
He took a few more silent steps backward toward the stair, not before he heard Sherlock gasping quietly, beautifully. It seemed to go on forever.
John dove onto his own bed and pulled out his stiff prick in mixed desperation and shame. He almost didn't have to touch at all, just a few short strokes and he was seized with a powerful orgasm and his hand was drenched. He pushed his face into his pillow and pulled another on top. He didn't even have the strength to get up and wash. In this pitch darkness, his body limp and warm, he finally slept.
# # #
Other things were confusing too.
Things such as spending time with any other living creature who wasn't Sherlock Holmes. John soon discovered that his efforts at dating betas were being interfered with – if he thought harder about it, which he didn’t, he could use the word ‘foiled’ -- by Sherlock's sabotage.
He wasn't as entirely unobservant as Sherlock believed. In fact, his machinations were becoming increasingly obnoxious, or creative. Depending on one's perspective.
"Oh dear. That serial bomber is at it again," Sherlock cried loudly, with a theatricality that dripped innocence as he shouldered between John and his date as they sipped their pints. Apparently Sherlock wasn't above a trip to Clapham when motivated.
Jenna was a sporty blonde beta. She was not interested in exclusivity and John wasn't quite attached enough to spend much time wondering about other men - or women - who might occupy her bed when he wasn't in residence.
"Thanks for sharing that vital information, Sherlock. And no, I'm not running off with you to try and catch the bomber, if that's what you're after. We're going to a party." He gave Sherlock a look intended to communicate that after the party, he intended to shag Jenna blind back at her flat. Just so Sherlock could have everything crystal clear.
Jenna loudly excused herself to the loo in a huff. This wasn't the first time that Sherlock had materialized during one of their dates. As soon as she was out of earshot, Sherlock announced in John's ear:
"Come on, John, it’ll be brilliant. You know you want to.”
John turned his head to escape from the warmth of Sherlock’s breath and the near-touch of his lips against his ear.
“Want to what?”
Sherlock stared at him as though John out to be able to read the answer in his eyes. John ignored their pale grey depths and looked into his pint as though he might find the answer to life's mysteries there.
“Anyway, John -- you may as well forget the party- boring - as you won't be going back to Jinny - "
"Jenna - "
"- Whatever's - flat, afterwards,” Sherlock pursued. “I know that's the main event, John - you don't really care about the party, do you? Be honest. I though not. And I've got delicate experiments on in 221b so I'm afraid you can't invite Jessie -"
" - Jenna - "
"--- to stay in our flat."
John looked at Sherlock with extreme annoyance and Sherlock looked back, no longer innocent, wide eyes wicked. Although John was very angry -wasn't he?- suddenly his mouth was dry and whatever exasperated retort he might have made to this stuck in his throat.
He slid off his stool, took a step closer. This close to Sherlock, he had to tilt his head to look up at Sherlock's face. This was really unfair, so he poked a warning Alpha finger into the lapel of Sherlock’s omnipresent coat. Coincidentally, it landed right above where Sherlock’s heart ought to be. Not that he had one, John thought fleetingly.
"Sherlock, you've got to stop-- " John found his voice, growled in warning.
Jenna was back. "What’s this about staying in your flat?"
"I'm afraid your building's been just a little bit blown up, Jill," Sherlock said in mock concern.
"Oh my God!!"
Jenna ran off, nearly ripping her handbag. “Jenna, wait –“ John called after her, not without stopping to down the rest of his pint. Halfway out the door, he turned. Sherlock was watching him. Their eyes met across the pub. But then his tall frame vanished in the crowd.
# # #
The police wouldn't let them near the building. Noxious fumes issued from the door to the front landing.
"Just a prank, probably," an officer observed. "But we've got to treat it seriously. You'll want to go somewhere else till morning, miss."
John was fuming too. Jenna looked at him expectantly. John gallantly he put his arm around her. "Don't worry, we'll stay at my flat tonight," he said.
"What about your flatmate?"
"My flatmate can bugger off."
Back in 221b, something was definitely off. Sherlock was scraping aggressively on his violin behind the door to his room. The atmosphere was tense, like night air before a thunderstorm. He pulled Jenna upstairs, where she giggled softly and held out her arms.
"Won’t he hear us," she whispered.
"We'll be quiet," John promised. It felt more like a warning to himself than to Jenna.
And he did try very hard to be quiet. In fact he immediately regretted starting up with Jenna. So far, neither he nor Sherlock had brought a sexual partner of any permutation into the flat. But it served him right. Surely Sherlock didn’t expect him to live like a monk. It wasn't as though the detective was denying himself - although John had come no closer to learning who the man on the speaker was that night.
He felt a deep twinge that might be his Alpha hormones awakening. And perhaps because he was trying valiantly to be quiet, and perhaps because he could not shake a sharp awareness of the presence of Sherlock, plying his violin below, climax was frustratingly out of reach. The violin stopped abruptly, mid-note. The front door slammed.
John did not sleep.
He finally realised he was waiting for the sound of the door opening again.
The next morning, Jenna left early (yoga), just missing Sherlock’s return. Sherlock slipped back into 221b with the silent footfall of a cat. John was having his second cup of tea after a largely sleepless night.
Sherlock silently unwound his scarf and unfurled his coat with his back to John to hang them with greater care than usual on the coatrack. There was an awkward silence.
This made John angry, maybe because he really was feeling a little guilty now. But Sherlock had asked for it, he thought. He wasn’t going to let Sherlock Holmes play games with his head. Because it felt like a game, one where he didn’t know the rules-- or worse, where the odds were stacked against him. He hated that feeling. He took a deep breath.
“Sherlock, I –“
“It’s fine, John. Please, let’s not discuss it. If you’d do me the courtesy of texting me in advance next time you need . . . privacy, I’ll go elsewhere. For as long as you like.” Sherlock wouldn’t turn around. He seemed to be winding and unwinding his scarf in his hands.
“What I would have liked, Sherlock, was to go back to Jenna’s flat. Obviously. I wasn’t trying to --- Look. I’d say I was sorry if I didn’t know you played that prank at her flat. That smoke bomb, whatever it was.”
“It wasn’t smoke. It was a harmless vapour that I –“
“It doesn’t matter. Just don’t - enough with these little games. I know you don’t like my dates. But who I choose to date is my business, not yours.”
Sherlock turned around then. He was wearing an almost obscenely tightly fitted and expensive-looking black dress shirt with equally tight-fitting black trousers, neither of which garments John had ever seen before. For the first time he could see – in those trousers, it was impossible not to see -- that for an omega, Sherlock was rather well endowed. The shirt’s buttons were undone farther down Sherlock’s chest than he had ever seen, displaying an expanse of elegant pale neck and chest.
He caught himself gaping, which was mortifying, and took a gulp of tea to cover up but the tea was still scalding. He burnt his lip. He slammed the cup on the table, sloshing hot tea on his hand. He swore. Sherlock was watching him with those too-knowing eyes.
Sherlock smiled maliciously. “You already did.”
John growled in aggravation and ran his fingers under cold water from the tap, frowning at the remains of an abandoned experiment clogging the drain.
“Are you all right, John,” Sherlock’s voice was right at his shoulder, and he almost jumped. Almost. His nerves weren’t what they had been before Afghanistan but he was still a soldier. It would take more than Sherlock Holmes being – difficult? Mysterious? Sexy? to shake him.
He stopped himself firmly from any further contemplation of Sherlock’s personal attractions. Such as the chiseled cheekbones, impossibly lush mouth. Tousled hair that invited you to push the curls back from above those wide, clear grey eyes. Legs that went on forever and an arse that needed to be kept under wraps by that coat because even he couldn't help being mesmerized by its magnificence.
“I’m fine.” He turned to face Sherlock and the scent hit him: strong Alpha, real pheromones, not artificial, foreign and raw; a strange overlay of cigar smoke. Under that, artificial omega scent of a uniquely alluring quality, expensive and exotic. He wondered if Sherlock mixed it himself, if his real scent was like that, or. . .the scents were making his cock fill and twitch.
On Sherlock’s throat was a large purplish mark that was unmistakable. John was so astonished that he couldn’t quite tear his eyes from it, his mind overtaken by vivid imaginings of who made that mark, and how. The man on the speaker? Somewhere down deep, the Alpha in him wanted to make a bigger one. It was only natural. He felt a tiny chink opening in his ironclad Army training.
He looked up into Sherlock’s face expecting to see an arrogant sneer which under the circumstances, John might have allowed was deserved. Instead, Sherlock looked intent, curious. Like he did at a crime scene before he had figured everything out, or during an experiment before he knew if it would succeed. John would have backed up but he was already backed against the sink, and anyway, backing down wasn't his style. To an omega, for god’s sake.
He really hoped it was not obvious that he'd gotten hard. Which was just scent-induced, clearly. As a doctor, he understood this. He stood up straighter and tried to adjust himself without drawing attention to his condition. Sherlock looked down meaningfully. John flushed.
“Why did you do it, Sherlock?” He didn’t think Sherlock would answer questions about his little prank at Jenna’s flat. Usually he refused to answer direct questions about anything pertaining to himself. Pale eyes looked into his, unblinking. Then Sherlock turned away, retreating toward his bedroom.
“Just don’t do it again,” John said, putting the warning behind it. So Sherlock would know he meant business.
“Are you sure?” Sherlock yelled back aggressively from his room.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“All right, John.” Sherlock came back to the threshold of the room, his expression contemptuous. “You want to know why I did it? Because I respect you more than you respect yourself. Obviously.”
And then he was gone with another slam of his bedroom door. No violin sounds emerged.
John stood stock still in the kitchen, unable to frame a suitable retort. By the time he stopped processing this confusing little scene his tea was tepid. He stomped back down the stair and slammed the front door at least twice as hard. He was the Alpha, after all.
All day long, his mind kept returning to that bite mark on Sherlock's neck. This made him feel ridiculous. His initial assumptions regarding Sherlock's apparently monk-like chastity were obviously far off the mark.
He wondered where Sherlock had gone, dressed like that. Had he met someone, someone he knew? Or had the mark been made by someone he'd picked up, someone he'd let pick him up? Even on suppressants, he looked like an open invitation to. . .
Stop it, he admonished himself. If he didn't get a grip he would have to find new lodgings.
And he really didn't want to do that.
# # #
The next two days found John and Sherlock confined to the flat in abysmal weather with no crimes whatsoever on offer. Sherlock grew increasingly irritable and restless, tapping his fingers, twitching his leg. Snapping at John over nothing; over everything. John ignored him, which took a great deal of self-control, but watched with concern as Sherlock started rummaging in various odd corners throughout the flat, making an even bigger mess of things than they already were. John frowned. Sherlock was positively hopping with agitation. It was late, the day had been excruciating, and it was looking as if neither of them was likely to get much sleep. Now Sherlock was fiddling with his bow. If he played any more of the aimless shrieking that he did to "help him think," John would throw it out the window.
"Sherlock, Jesus, you're acting like a strung-out addict -- there can't be a brilliant crime every single day just for your personal amusement. Read a book. Clean the refrigerator. But try to relax, all right? It's about time to turn in, tomorrow will be a better day." He winced, realising some person would have to die in a fascinatingly unusual fashion for that to be true. "Knock it off, you're making me nervous."
And he was. If John had to watch him pacing the flat any longer he was going to have to do something to make him stop, force him to be still.
He hadn't worked out yet what that something might be.
Sherlock flashed a sharp grey gaze at him, like daggers. He literally snarled and began pounding on his laptop. John suppressed a smile. He was going to try to distract himself . This was good.
Except that Sherlock leaped up, snagged his coat from the rack, and dashed out the door.
"Where are you going?" John called after him.
"Don't worry, John," Sherlock yelled almost angrily, the answer making no sense.
"I'm not going to bloody worry, you conceited git," he yelled down after him. He was the Alpha, not a brooding, fretting omega.
Brooding. Fretting. A suspicion grew.
He got up, touched Sherlock's laptop. In his haste, he had left it on and the desktop open. There was an email message.
"Little Havana, 10:30. 'Faustino.'"
John was irritated and a little hurt. Sherlock had a lead on some new case and had left him behind. Unless . . . it was a date? Sherlock certainly hadn't made any special preparations if that was the case. He had flown out the door in a rumpled white shirt, black trousers, his hair untamed. Not like last time, those tight black trousers. . . John thumped himself on the forehead to banish the thought. It was the suppressants wearing off. John had been troubled by increasingly intrusive sexual thoughts, which wouldn't have troubled him a bit if they had been thoughts of a warm female omega. But they weren't.
He checked "Little Havana" on his laptop. There was only one choice: The Little Havana cigar lounge in the City. Catering to financiers with too much money on their hands, it promised the very finest in hand-rolled Cuban cigars. John recalled the scent of cigar smoke on Sherlock when he had returned that night. The night he had the bite mark on his neck. Now John was wondering if Sherlock had some sort of drug habit. Not cigars of course, but something that was making him twitchy and jumpy and aggressively irritable.
John sighed. Sherlock had said not to worry. That, of course, meant John ought to be very worried.
"Right," he said. He pulled on his jacket and checked his gun, thrust it in his waistband and headed for the Underground.
# # #
Little Havana was near Liverpool Street tube station. It was a Saturday night and the bustle of the workweek throngs was absent. Little Havana was at the end of a street of mixed bars and restaurants, mostly closed or closing at this late hour. But he heard music coming from below the new-looking sign, showing an alluring Cuban woman proffering a fat cigar.
There was a doorman, who stopped John with a courteous hand. Not for money. "Private club on Saturday nights, sir," he said.
John gave him a few pounds anyway and said, "Faustino," with cool nonchalance.
The doorman smiled broadly. "Enjoy yourelf, sir. Ask for Evelina, if you want my advice." He nodded knowingly.
John's heart sank. Little Havana was some sort of high-class brothel, evidently. He would never have pegged Sherlock the type to want, or need, to pay for his sexual pleasure. But his curiousity, the same curiousity that had gotten him into flatsharing and crime-solving with Sherlock Holmes in the first place, was driving him now. He slipped inside.
There was a small bar with a few patrons sipping drinks, and a curtained door at back. Music was pounding. Caribbean music, Cuban music, he supposed. Pulsing conga beats. What he would say if Sherlock saw him here, he had no idea. Maybe he wouldn't say anything at all. He ordered a tequila neat and went toward the music, staying in the back, in the shadows.
There was a full Cuban band - congas, guitars, horns, men singing passionately, raucously. He couldn't understand the words but he got the gist of the song - the singer was trying to persuade his lover to capitulate. It was a classic Alpha-omega courtship ballad, he thought. The beat was getting to him. He knocked back a little tequila and looked around.
A few women were seated at tables, baskets at their feet. They were hand-rolling cigars. This process involved rolling the cigar somewhat suggestively between their smooth thighs. Men lined up to buy, giving extravagant tips, taking long, appreciative sniffs of the cigars. John almost laughed. He heard one of the men say, "You're an angel, Evelina," to one of the women, and she smiled brilliantly back, but returned with focus to her task.
It certainly did not appear that anything more illicit than a mildly alluring show of feminine thighs was on offer at Little Havana. He sat back to enjoy the music. It was hypnotic. It made him wish he was dancing with someone, holding tight. He didn't see Sherlock anywhere. He swallowed more tequila.
"Cigar, Senor," came a breathy female voice at his ear. A lovely Cuban woman, an omega, was offering him a cigar. "I’m Lupita. Twenty pounds," she said.
John sputtered. "I don't smoke, thanks luv."
"Best cigars in London. In the world. You couldn't do better in Cuba," she said.
"I have no doubt," he said warmly. "No thanks."
"Senor wants something different." The pulse of it was getting more driving, frantic. The singer was singing something that sounded very suggestive.
"What does it mean?" The tequila was hitting his veins. It felt fantastic.
"He sings, that the cat dances with the rat." John laughed. It was absurd. But it didn't sound absurd. "He says, he’s burning down there-- he doesn’t want to die that way-- from his knees up, from his waist down, he is on fire."
He drained his glass. He wondered why Lupita was hanging around.
"Biopure or synthetic?" Lupita's lips almost touched his ear as she had to almost shout over the music. John snapped a little toward sobriety. Now he was getting somewhere. Sherlock was buying some strange underground drug. Or, more likely, trying to break a case involving same. But why had he kept John in the dark?
"Ah, you choose?" Lupita smiled and stroked his cheek, which was a little damp with perspiration. The drums were shaking his chest, thrumming down deep. She delicately licked her fingertip.
"Biopure for you, Senor. The finest. Wait until this song is over, and go there -" She pointed to a black-curtained door behind the band. "El Brujo will give you what you need." She held out her hand expectantly and he gave her twenty pounds. She seemed satisfied, and left him with a little kiss on the cheek.
# # #
The band wailed out the last of the long, driving song, then launched into a lush, tender love ballad. Something about gardenias. John stood up. Someone else was coming out from behind the black curtain.
It was Sherlock Holmes. Before he had a chance to react, a tall, exotic-looking man with slicked-back black hair stood up to block Sherlock's path. He was as tall as Sherlock. He put a restraining hand on Sherlock's arm and John's hand flew to his gun.
The man leaned in and kissed Sherlock.
John couldn't see from this angle whether Sherlock kissed back, whether this was something he wanted, or . . . don't be a fool, he thought. If Sherlock Holmes didn't want to be kissed he'd have ripped the man's balls off by now. For an Omega, Sherlock was utterly ruthless; vicious when he chose to attack, although John's experience of male Omegas was admittedly limited to Sherlock himself. John had seen firsthand how Sherlock dealt with unwelcome sexual advances, and it wasn't pretty. And so far as John could tell, all sexual advances were unwelcome. Except the voice on the speaker, that night --- and this man. Was he the one talking to Sherlock, praising him while he stroked himself? John felt hot and cold all over and he wanted desperately to have a target to shoot at. Such as the back of the man's head.
With his hand still on Sherlock's arm, the man’s other hand went around Sherlock’s neck, and the kiss got a lot more intense. John looked away, he didn’t want to see, didn’t want to know. Then the two men swiftly exited the club without glancing his way. John had to admit they were a stunningly well-matched couple.
He stood, torn between following, which would officially turn him into some sort of stalker, and going behind the curtain to find out what this El Brujo was selling and Sherlock was apparently buying.
He went behind the curtain.
El Brujo was a wizened old man, an Alpha. He was drinking something from a dark bottle and making marks in a little book. He looked up, seeming surprised to see John. "I don't know you," he said, eyes narrowing.
John decided to brazen it out. "No, but that man that just left . . . he's a friend of mine."
"Ah. A 'friend.' I understand."
John was getting angry. Why did everyone's minds have to work like that? "Yes, a friend. I want to know what you sold him. Show me."
"Come closer," the man said.
"You are El Brujo?" He was suddenly uncertain whether he ought to be asking to see someone else. This old man seemed frail and gentle, and didn't seem like a drug dealer.
"I am. You don't speak Spanish. I will tell you. It means, 'The Wizard.'"
John smirked. The Wizard, behind the curtain. A little joke.
"A trip to the Emerald City?"
El Brujo looked confused. "I don't know 'Emerald City.' We're in Bishopsgate, my friend."
"Just show me what he bought from you."
"He did not buy. It was a gift. If you were my friend, I might make you such a gift. But I don't know you. However, for a small donation -- to support the band, you see -- I could let you have a little of you what you need."
"What I need? I don't need anything."
"Yes you do. " He pulled out a little green bottle. It had a hand-lettered label on it.
"This is synthetic. But very lovely. You will have an amazing heat, bond strongly with the omega of your dreams." John held the bottle between his fingertips as though it might burn. Synthetic pheromones (outside of narrow medical uses for persons who had sensory impairment) were strictly banned by international conventions. He handed the bottle back.
"I don't need this," he said again. "I'm fine."
"The war can make a man's balance. . . unstable. I sense this in you. Your pheromones have become brutal and harsh. More . . . animalistic. It is only natural. But you are home now. This will smooth you out, you should take it."
"What did you give him? The man who just left?"
"That is his business alone."
John pulled his gun. "Let's pretend it's my business. I have friends in Scotland Yard."
"Gently, gently, senor. All right. You see what I mean about, unstable. Put the gun away, if you please. It is very important to you, I see. Here is what he took," the old man turned and rummaged on a shelf full of little bottles. He held out two, one red and one blue.
"What are they?"
"They are the finest pheromone concentrates. Biopure. The red one is to enhance the crossing. Formulated specifically for male Omega --- very delicate and specific needs, you know."
The crossing. First full, consummated heat.
He swallowed hard. His throat was dry and his head suddenly ached.
"And the blue?"
"The opposite. It will fully suppress the male omega heat, prevent the crossing."
"For how long?"
"It is very strong. Two dose, maybe permanent."
Permanent. A chemical neuter. Not unheard of, but the thought made him sick and furious.
"How -- how many doses did you give him?"
"Did he-- did he drink either of them?"
"No. But he wouldn't. Not here. You saw he was with Maxim. Surely, you understand?"
"Your friend is in The Mysteries now."
The old man looked suspicious. "You . . . don't know?"
"No, I bloody don't. Talk."
"You -- you have his scent on you. I thought you and he -- I am sorry, I've made a mistake. If you’re going to shoot me, shoot. I am an old man. But I won't tell you more. Ask your friend. If he wants you to know, he will tell you."
John swore and turned to go. The old man pressed a bottle into his hand. The little green bottle. He almost dashed it to the floor but instead his hand thrust it into his pocket. He left Little Havana to the sound of the music, tropical, deep, and primal. He wanted to hit something. He kept picturing that man. Maxim. Kissing Sherlock. Sherlock letting him.
He stood in the empty street, dark and quiet now as the door closed behind him and the doorman bade him goodbye.
"I hope you had a good time," he said.
"Ah -- It was interesting. Thanks-- look, do you work here much, ah-- sorry, what's your name?"
"Barry Gwynn. I'm here on Saturdays."
"Did you see two men, tall, dark hair, one ah, curly and one slicked back, leave just a bit ago? Do you know them?"
Gwynn looked back, cooly blank. John didn't have any more money and didn't want to flash his gun in the street.
"Come on," he said. "Look, Mr Holmes is my friend. I'm supposed to meet them later. Did they say where they were going? I owe them a drink."
Gwynn looked doubtful. John remembered the little green bottle. "You can have this if you tell me," he said, holding it out. Undoubtedly the stuff was worth a fortune on the black market.
Gwynn palmed the bottle smoothly. "They said they were going back to the flat. They took a taxi. Mr. Purcell seemed in a particular hurry." Gwynn did not leer, but it was in his voice. John wanted to hit him.
"River Terrace. Lensbury Avenue. Imperial Wharf."
John hesitated. Well after midnight, the street was deserted now. There were no taxis. He started walking toward Liverpool Street Station. He could take the Bakerloo line. Or the District line to Putney Bridge. One could walk to Imperial Wharf from there. He looked at the coloured lines on the map. Green. Like the little bottle. He shook his head. He must be out of his mind. He kept walking for a while to try to clear it. But in the end, there was only one thing to do.
He took the tube back to Baker Street, his brain spinning the whole while.
A red bottle.
A blue bottle.
A luxurious flat in Imperial Wharf.
Sherlock Holmes had a private life that had nothing whatsoever to do with John Watson. Whatever impulse had caused him to want to flatshare with an Army doctor with a case of PTSD, fresh off the transport from Afghanistan, the arrangement was clearly no longer suitable.
On either side.
El Brujo was right. So was his therapist. He had taken his time with the betas. He was ready. More than ready. He was almost clear of the suppressants. His blood was up. He needed to find an omega, bond, make a permanent life, a permanent home. His own woman, breeding, children. Heat. Heat upon heat.
His cock, which had been demanding attention ever since Little Havana, throbbed uncomfortably. And it wasn't the tequila.
Thumping up the stair, throwing the door open to 221b in a state of frustrated confusion, he crashed into the flat, wrestling with his jacket, cursing furiously when his arm got caught up in the sleeve. He threw it on the floor and reached into his waistband for his gun.
"Can we talk about it first?" Sherlock said lightly from the shadows. He had been lying on the sofa in the dark for John's entire performance. He sat up now, outlined in the glow of the fire. John was breathing hard, as if he'd run a marathon, for no reason at all. Except that everything was moving fast.
"Put the gun down, John," Sherlock said slowly, sounding a little concerned this time.
"Ah. Sorry." He put it carefully in the drawer of his desk, slowed his breathing. He didn't want to answer questions, questions he didn't even think he knew the answers to. He turned to go upstairs.
"John, we need to talk," Sherlock said. His voice sounded urgent, possibly distressed. But his hyperactive agitation of earlier this evening had vanished. John could well imagine what may have soothed him.
"No, Sherlock, we don't," John said quietly. "Good night."
As he fell into bed, his brain was filled with the image of the two little bottles, one red, one blue, which he focused on to avoid focusing on the fullness in his aching cock. If he touched himself, he knew what he would be thinking about. He needed to get his head on straight. Tomorrow, he would tell Sherlock that he was moving out. He mentally went through the motions of packing his things, closing the door on 221b one final time. This gave him far more pain than he would ever have imagined that it could. But then he imagined Sherlock standing at the bottom of the stair. He reached out and grabbed John by the arm. He was asking him to stay. They could work it out.
His resolution not to touch himself crumbled. His hand stroked his stiff prick gently, deliberately, the way he imagined Sherlock had. This was difficult, his cock was used to being wanked so much more roughly. It felt unbelievably frustrating but he kept at it, slowly, rhythmically, not moving any closer toward the orgasm that was building like a fire. In his mind he saw himself pulling Sherlock’s head down, kissing him the way that man, Maxim Purcell, had in Little Havana. He took the little red and blue bottles from Sherlock’s hand and threw them away, and they heard them shatter. Sherlock smiled inscrutably.
I’m burning, Sherlock said in John’s imagining. I don’t want to die like this.
With a moan, John rubbed and stroked himself harder, faster, unable to keep to that slow deliberate pace, fruitlessly trying to picture himself joining with some female omega. Always his mind returned to the events of Little Havana, to Sherlock, to standing in the dark hall and listening to Sherlock stroke himself while that disembodied voice murmured approval. He came hard with a loud, long groan that he tried to suppress by turning his face into the pillows.
That was the moment when he knew that no matter what happened now, he wasn’t going to leave 221b.
Not for anything.
See art for Ch 1 commissioned from the brilliant MsAether(Kami):See art here
To be continued . . .