John limps into The Grove. He awkwardly shuffles out of the way of a number of people entering and exiting the pub, and re-checks his text.
He scans the crowd until he sees a familiar face. Grits his teeth before he shoulders his way through the throng of twenty-somethings. He seriously considers whacking them with his cane like a fucking old man.
“John, you made it!” Mike bellows. At least three drinks under his belt already, then. “Lads’re all inside!” He motions wildly behind him where a small, private room ajoins the pub proper. Heavy, red curtains are drawn back for easy access.
John hasn’t been in touch with a single member of his uni rugby team in over ten years. He can scarcely remember their nicknames, let alone their real ones. He casually greets them all with a tired smile. Hotty Toddy, Slim, Bird, and Deez.
“If it isn’t ol’ Three Continents,” Deez chuckles. “Lemme look at’cha!”
John tries and fails not to fidget under the scrutiny. He knows–he knows–that no one judges him because he’s a cripple. Unemployed. Penniless.
Still. He feels the weight of their eyes on his cane. The unasked questions. War and death don’t belong here. He’s not even sure he belongs here. Deez engaged to be married. Slim with one on the way. Hotty and Bird already proud fathers.
John makes a flimsy excuse that he needs to sit just so he can reorient himself. It’s suffocating, not being at war. At least, not being at war overseas as opposed to at war with himself.
John takes a seat by the door and smiles mechanically while Bird retells the same stories he’s heard a thousand times before. Tales of conquests and pub crawls and that one time Hotty got them thrown out of a local taco joint for sneezing guacamole into his hands. John takes to people watching, Bird’s grandstanding floating in one ear and out the other. The twenty-somethings with nothing to lose. Dancing to the beat of the music, their laughter accompanied by the clink of glasses, a round of “Cheers!”, and the thump of bass.
John catches someone’s eye.
Someone’s calculating eye. Soft and cutting, silk and steel. Dark curls, pale face. A smirk, a turn of his head, and he’s lost in the crowd.
Mike hands him a pint and smiles exuberantly. “Got yourself sorted?”
“Mm.” John takes a sip of his draft. “Not yet. Not that easy.”
“Can’t Harry help?”
“Yeah, like that’s going to happ–” John nearly chokes when ‘silk and steel’ sweeps into the room, all perfectly styled hair and sharp cheekbones.
He’s not the only member of the team distracted by the stranger’s sudden appearance. John wonders if he’s a new friend of Deez or if–
“Mr. Holmes!” Mike claps a meaty hand on his back. “That’s him!” Gestures toward Deez with his rounded chin. “The groom!”
“So I gathered.”
“Who’s this then?” Deez asks.
“Sherlock Holmes!” Mike exclaims. Another clap on the back. “Best stripper in the biz! According to his website!”
The room reverberates with whoops, groans, and whistles in equal measure.
Slim whines: “He’s a bloke, Deez.”
“He’s not for you. Not my fault you’re not gay.”
“Pub’s allowing this, then?” Bird asks.
Sherlock’s mouth twitches. Removes his scarf. A hint of something sweet fills the air, sugary and tantalizing. “Owner owes me a favor.”
Slim sullenly nurses his beer while Hotty elbows him in the ribs.
“Let’s get started, shall we?” Sherlock says as he sheds his coat. A black, diaphanous shirt hangs loose on his shoulders, clings tight to his abdomen. A pair of studded, leather trousers like a second skin. They complement the curve of his plump arse and emphasize the length of his outrageously long legs. Powerful thighs. Muscular calves and...John’s not entirely sure how Sherlock got himself in them, but he’s not complaining. On the contrary. A bit distracted by the idea of him removing them, honestly. Peeling them off, and he’d have to go slow. May even need a little help.
John tilts his head as Sherlock strolls past because good God .
Mike grins smugly at John.
John pretends not to notice.
Sherlock fishes his mobile from his trouser pocket and sets it on the table. He deftly taps the screen while he lectures Deez on the do not ’s of the evening. “No touching below the belt. Do not restrict my arms. No kissing. No slurs or pet names. Abide by these rules and we’ll get along swimmingly.” His smile is quick and perfunctory and kind of creepy.
Deez, a bit taken aback, says, “Sure, mate.”
“I-I mean. Understood.”
“Good.” Sherlock taps his mobile once more and straddles Deez’s lap as the first notes of Pour Some Sugar on Me begin to play. Sherlock starts off with small, enticing movements, warming them up. Rocking his hips forward in a smooth, sinuous wave. Little gyrations that elicit pornographic OHs, deep and gravely and John gapes.
“Yea-heah!” Deeze wriggles around in his chair along with the music. His eyes raking up and down Sherlock’s undulating body like he’s a tall glass of water on a scorching hot day. John doesn’t blame him, hell. Even Slim, straight as an arrow, is hypnotized by Sherlock’s nimble hands trailing up and down and around the areas Deeze is allowed to touch. Teasing his nipples, raking his nails down his ribcage, his concave belly. Quivering muscles and parted lips.
John’s finds himself leaning forward in his seat. Breathes heavily through his nose when Sherlock punctuates every HUH! and HEY! with pelvic thrusts, rolling his spine and snapping his hips, the beginnings of an erection very evident against his flies. Love is like a bomb, baby, c'mon get it on. Those long, dexterous fingers trail down the buttons of his shirt, making them stretch and click. He gropes himself through his trousers . Fully captivating Deeze with the outline of his cock and distracting everyone else with his hips and arse. He tosses his head back with a moan and his curls bounce. The flex of his abs under that silky shirt. Fuck.
John swallows. He can feel heat rising in his face, pooling between his legs. His mouth is full of saliva at the thought of seeing even a hint of Sherlock’s naked body.
Deez puts his hands on Sherlock’s waist and Sherlock leans into him. Legs spread impossibly wide, arse clenched, nearly pressing his chest against Deez’s face. Then he sinks down in Deez’s lap to whisper in his ear.
Deez’s eyes go wide. He pushes Sherlock off and scrambles out the door.
A moment of shock and disbelief. Slim and Hotty take it upon themselves to follow Deez to the loo. Bird is frozen, pint poised against his lips.
Sherlock is breathing hard, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. He runs his fingers through his hair and asks, “Who’s next?” He turns his attention to John and saunters in his direction.
John’s mouth goes completely dry.
“May I?” Sherlock drawls, standing contrapposto, six feet and one inch of pure sex.
John is vaguely aware that Mike has also left the room and John suddenly has the vocabulary of a two-year-old. “Uh. Ah?” He looks behind him, but of course there’s no one there. “Oh. Eh?”
“I’m paid by the song,” Sherlock quips.
“Um. I’m not...”
“Fine, then. You’re my new cover. I’m actually here to catch a murderer. Just sit there and look happy, for God’s sake.”
John finds his voice and says, “Bird’s gay.”
“Yeees.” Sherlock draws out the vowel like John is irreversibly stupid. “But Bird is over there and you are over here .” John glances at Bird, the only member of the party left in the room besides John.
Bird squeaks, “Murderer?”
“Oh, good, you follow.”
Bird immediately leaves the room.
“You’re bisexual,” Sherlock says, unperturbed.
When John doesn’t show any signs of comprehension, Sherlock sighs. “I cleared the room on purpose. I needed a better view of the bar.”
“Why?” John tries to turn around in his chair, but Sherlock stops him with a firm hand on his shoulder.
“Murderer, remember? Don’t stare.”
“We can’t both stare.”
John narrows his eyes at Sherlock and Sherlock narrows his eyes back. “Look, do you want a lap dance or not?” Imperious eyes, imperious lips, imperious everything. John’s not sure if he’s amused or irritated. An undercover stripper. Propositioning him. So he can, what? Spy on a killer? He’s chased off Deez, God knows how. And he expects John to just go with it?
John licks his lips. His heart is pounding. His jeans are a little too snug and the smell of Sherlock’s cologne a little too sweet. Sherlock’s flushed cheeks and the patina of sweat glistening at the hollow of his– “Okay,” John decides.
He hasn’t felt this alive since before he got shot.
Take a bottle, shake it up. Sherlock transfers his grip from John’s shoulder to the back of John’s chair, picking up his routine from where he’d left off before. He arcs his neck, the pale column of his throat illuminated by the red and gold lights of the pub.
Sherlock snaps his hips forward, hard enough to drive John back against the wall (“Jesus!” ), then tosses his arms over his head. Fists his hands in his hair as Def Leppard sings, Pour some sugar on me! His fingers dance around his neck, over his clavicle, to the collar of his shirt, which he unbuttons, undulating once again. His body begging, begging, please . Take it off. The weight of his hands eager on the gauzy fabric of his shirt as he palms his nipples. He gasps, almost a whine. Runs his hands down his torso and back up again, tortured fingers catching the folds of his shirt.
John wants to rip that damned shirt off of Sherlock’s body. He wants to touch him. From sternum to pelvis, from hip to hip. He wants to be the reason Sherlock is gasping, wants to make him gasp for real, not just for show.
The buttons strain, so close to popping. So very close. And with a gust of breath, a heave of his chest, one button is undone. Sherlock lets out a mewl of relief, eyes hooded. Another gasp of breath as the second button goes. Another undulation, and another, punctuated by breathy little ah-ah-ah s. John’s prick twitches in sympathy and his breath hisses between his teeth. Yes, yes, yes .
Doesn’t realize he’s speaking aloud. Fuck. Yes. Gorgeous. Let me see you.
Sherlock lolls his head from side to side. Reveling in John’s praise. Tugging meekly at his shirt as his body writhes, nipples peaking against the see-through fabric.
John has never seen anything more erotic in his entire life. Amazing. So good.
Third button goes. Sherlock abandons his attempts at the fourth.
He steadies himself on the back of John’s chair. His half-open shirt falling around John’s face and John sees nothing but skin and smells nothing but the sweet tang of sweat and cologne. The minute twitch of Sherlock’s abdominals when he cocks his hips slowly, slowly. Then surging up, up, until John's chin catches on that elusive fourth button. And Sherlock moves impossibly closer, his pelvis pressing against John’s chest.
Sherlock quirks an eyebrow. Daring, “Go on.”
John draws the button into his mouth. Tongues it free.
The shirt falls open. Framing Sherlock’s lean figure. Drawing John’s eye to the dark trail of hair disappearing into his impossibly tight leather trousers.
John wants to employ his tongue some more. Lick down that path. Pop the button of his trousers with his mouth, too. He clears his throat, gaze darting to Sherlock’s face. “Beautiful.”
Sherlock takes the pointer finger of his right hand. Sticks it in his mouth and sucks. Sucks and sucks and he’s staring directly into John’s eyes, his pupils blown. God . The pad of his finger heavy against his bottom lip. Down his chin, his chest, muscles rippling in its wake. Directs John’s attention back to his crotch. John doesn’t remember the last time he was so turned on by so very little, and Sherlock Holmes is barely in a state of undress.
Sherlock hooks his thumbs in the waistband of his trousers, frames the V of his groin with lithe arms and delicate wrists. Another pelvic thrust. Enough to jostle the shirt off his shoulders. Like black gossamer, floating around his body. And fluttering with each. Aborted. Thrust. Squeeze a little, squeeze a little, tease a little more. He bites his lip and–
“Oh. Please .”
Fuck. That voice.
“Stop gaping and touch me, will you?” Throaty, demanding.
“Sorry. You’re distracting.”
Sherlock chuckles. A deep, sinful chuckle. “Problem?”
John reaches up. Places the tip of a single finger on Sherlock’s stomach and revels in the shuddering breath his touch generates. Teases Sherlock’s treasure trail. Dips his finger into the gap between his groin and trousers Sherlock provides. Moist heat. A thick nest of curls. Sherlock eyelids flutter closed. “Where?”
“Anywhere.” Sherlock bites his lip. Releases it slowly. Swollen and wet. “Do it.”
John cards a knuckle down the cleft of Sherlock’s arse. Or where the cleft of his arse would be if his trousers weren’t so damned tight.
Sherlock grunts. Caught between a laugh and a moan. “Who’s distracting now?” He manages to sound petulant and aroused at the same time.
Sherlock bends his knees. Lowers himself slowly, slowly. I'm hot, sticky sweet. The smallest amount of friction atop John’s jean clad erection and John bucks his hips. He’s forced to brace himself against the seat of his chair for extra leverage and he’s not the only one moaning at the contact. And finally, finally! Sherlock sinks into John’s lap, the full weight of his body pressing their cocks together and its. So. Good.
John’s arms are shaking. But he holds steady, complementing Sherlock’s rhythm, the thud-thud-thud of the chair knocking into the wall.
Sherlock cries, his hands desperate in John’s hair, swaying with every rise and fall of John’s restricted thrusts. The cuffs of his shirt mancle his wrists. You got the peaches, I got the cream. The grinding of his hips. There, there, there . The smell of sugar and leather ripe in John’s nose, and he wants to taste. Needs to taste. And he’s on him, open-mouthed and breathing in and in and fuck. John holds Sherlock tight when he stands, kneading his meaty thighs. The drag of leather against John’s jumper, rucking it up bit by bit, John’s stomach rubbing against the supple, second skin of Sherlock’s trousers. And John is panting, tounging Sherlock’s belly button, his–
The sound of breaking glass and a woman’s cry yank John out of his lust-fueled trance. He stumbles out of his chair and into the pub where Sherlock is garroting a man twice his size with his gauzy shirt of sex.
“For God’s sake, this wasn’t even a four!” Sherlock complains, struggling to subdue the man beneath him.
“What th’ hell is going on?” a woman demands. Probably the one who screamed going by the red wine soaking her jeans.
“Serial killer. You’re the intended victim, by the way. You can thank me later for slapping your benzodiazepine laced drink out of your hand. Someone make yourself useful for once in your life and call the police. Tell them Sherlock Holmes has their man.” Snidely, “You’re going to prison, Carruthers.”
Carruthers growls. He kicks and pivots and Sherlock loses his balance for all of two seconds before Carruthers slams him to the ground.
He swings at Sherlock’s face, but his arm is twisted behind his back before he can land the punch, pinky finger milked to the point of breaking. John’s body hums with adrenaline, accompanying the thrum of arousal like a delicious duet. His hand is steady. His leg is strong. His cane is abandoned.
Sherlock beams back.
Sherlock and John stand outside The Grove, bundled up in their coats. The police have long since departed with Carruthers, and the stag do has disbanded, but since John ‘single handedly subdued Carruthers in a formidable fashion’ according to one Mr Sherlock Holmes, he lagged behind to give his statement and made absolutely sure Sherlock didn’t need any medical attention.
“So. Not a copper.”
“Consulting detective. Only one in the world, I invented the job.” Sherlock gnaws on the butt of an unlit cigarette. “Stamford got me the strip gig.”
“Oh.” John shuffles his feet. Pokes at some loose gravel on the pavement with the cane he doesn’t know what to do with. “You’re very, uh, good.” John cringes. Good? Christ, he was better than good, he was sex in leather. A lap dance’s wet dream. The strip tease to end all strip teases. And he hadn’t even technically finished taking any of his clothes off. No, good wasn’t good enough. He was great. Better than great. He was mind-blowing.
“Do you know you do that out loud?”
“I like dancing.” Sherlock smiles coyly around his cigarette. “Watched some YouTube videos.”
John snorts, doesn’t know what to say. He busies himself looking down the road for a cab he’s not going to flag down just yet.
“You’re attracted to me.”
John whips his head around. No use in denying it. “I–yes.”
Sherlock crushes his cigarette under his heel even though he never lit it. “Someone of your…” He averts his eyes. “...talents might be beneficial.” He shrugs. “If…” he trails off before abruptly finishing his sentence, the imperious tone of voice from earlier in the evening making a reappearance, “If you’re amenable.”
John exhales into the space between them, the unspoken truth heavy and strained, but hopeful. “With?” Because he’s honestly not sure if Sherlock means Consulting or Something Else.
Sherlock steps closer. Considers his words carefully. “Everything.” It’s barely a whisper. A promise. And a cheeky grin to top it all off.
Oh, God, yes.