“You taste sad. How can you taste sad?” Sherlock said, wonderingly, more to himself than to John.
“You tell me, you’re the vampire,” John said, doing his best to keep his voice level. He turned and walked from the study into the bathroom to inspect his shoulder. “Not as bad as last time,” he called back to Sherlock as he dabbed gently at the puncture marks with an antiseptic wipe. “Almost no bruising. Shouldn’t scar.”
The first time Sherlock had fed from John he’d had trouble controlling himself, biting down far harder than necessary, leaving John with a bruise the size of his fist that he’d done his best to cover with sleeves kept buttoned all the way down. The scars had ended up as tiny jagged ovals that reminded him of nothing so much as miniature gunshot wounds. He’d found himself rubbing his wrist absentmindedly at work, the rough texture grounding him in a reality where Sherlock was alright, was back, was… wasn’t dead.
“You’ll want to take Paracetamol before you go to bed,” Sherlock said, suddenly behind him.
“Christ,” John said, dropping the tape. “I’m still not used to you moving that fast.” Sherlock didn’t respond, quietly waiting until John had retrieved the tape to examine John’s neck and shoulder area. He leaned close enough that John would have felt Sherlock’s warm breath on his neck, if he’d still breathed. They’d been practicing so that Sherlock would remember to do so around others, but he tended not to bother when it was just them. John felt the hairs on his neck stand up, his body reacting with some distant racial memory to the presence of a predator in such close proximity.
Deftly plucking the tape from John’s hand, Sherlock secured the gauze pad to the wounds with a professionalism any of John’s colleagues might have envied.
“Not used to that either,” John admitted, transfixed by the sight of his injury being tended by invisible hands in the mirror. “Isn’t it weird, not seeing yourself?”
“You can see me,” Sherlock stated, as though that was an answer.
The next morning, John wandered into the sitting room to discover Sherlock crouched motionless on the couch; his pose reminiscent of one of Notre Dame’s gargoyles. He made no move to acknowledge John’s entrance. At times like this it wasn’t hard to imagine Sherlock was a vampire so much as it was to remember he’d actually not been one previously.
“I suspect your blood is being flavoured by the chemicals of your body’s moods.”
“Makes sense,” John said, stretching his arms back over his head and listening for the resulting pops. “Shame you can’t feed off suspects, you might be able to learn something.”
Sherlock shuddered. “The thought of drinking from any of them is appalling.”
“Yeah, hate to think where some of them have been.”
“I was running rings around London’s criminals for years. I’m hardly in need of the additional help.” Sherlock paused, then added, “Blood sharing is unexpectedly… intimate. I’ve no desire to share it with anyone.”
“Don’t be tedious, John. Yes, of course you.”
And because John couldn’t resist needling him, he added, “And Mycroft.”
“What?” Sherlock said, his body language resembling nothing so much as a cat splashed with water. He looked over at John, trying and failing to conceal a grin, and pulled his body back into a more controlled pose.
“Of course not, John. Think of the calories.”
“Bad for her health.”
“Bad for mine.”
“So I can see if it’s actually possible to taste stupid?”
“Best I don’t give her any more material for her fantasies.”
John’s murmur of agreement turned into a yawn as he plodded into the kitchen to make himself breakfast. “‘s’pose you’re stuck with me, then. Unless you’d like to switch to all bagged.”
Sherlock’s eating habits now were practically as abstemious as he’d been when he was human. He only seemed to need periodic pints of donated blood from Bart’s supplemented with drinking from John as often as they’d deemed safe. Or maybe it was the other way around and the hospital blood was a supplement for the fresh? Like many things about Sherlock’s new status, John wasn’t sure of all the details, and didn’t quite know how to ask.
At first he’d just been so grateful Sherlock was back, he hadn’t cared how it had happened beyond the fact that it had.
“No,” Sherlock said. “The fresh blood is… better. If that’s alright?” in the same tone that another person might have used to ask for a seat on the Tube. Someone who didn’t know Sherlock as well as John did would have completely missed the tiny thread of insecurity woven into it.
John turned from his tea to see Sherlock in the doorway. He set the mug down on the counter and walked over to him. “Sherlock, I said whatever you needed, and I meant it.”
John stared up at Sherlock, attempting reassurance. Sherlock didn’t look very different; his skin was paler, but then he’d always been pale. The biggest change was to his pupils, which were currently shrunken to pinpoints in the brightly lit flat.
The biting wasn’t particularly pleasurable, but it wasn’t that painful either, once the endorphins kicked in and as Sherlock got better at feeding. But at those moments, with Sherlock pressed against his body, arms wrapped around John, John’s hand in Sherlock’s hair, the feeling of Sherlock’s mouth against John’s bare flesh, John could know Sherlock was back, could ground himself in his presence in a way that helped banish his lingering nightmares. The ones where this was a dream and Sherlock was gone forever.
Whatever Sherlock could read in John’s face must have been enough, because Sherlock gave a curt nod and then turned to get back to whatever he’d been doing before John had woken up.
They stumbled back up the steps to 221B, John still high on adrenaline and Sherlock on being amazing. He’d known exactly where the arms shipment was hidden, how they were smuggling them in, and how many members of the gang would be present to guard the merchandise. They’d still ended up having to chase down the only man they hadn’t immediately been able to subdue, and John had bruises on his knuckles and Sherlock was brilliant.
John headed for the kitchen, too keyed up to even consider sleeping and vaguely aware that he was thirsty. He grabbed a glass from the designated ‘not to be used for experiments I’m serious about this Sherlock’ shelf and turned on the tap. Suddenly he felt a body pressing him against the counter, Sherlock’s long arms reaching around him to cage John in.
John froze. “Sherlock?”
“John. I want…” Sherlock’s voice sounded harsh in his ear. “I… I need…” There was urgency in it, and desperation, and John fought a strange urge to turn around and try to comfort him, because Sherlock sounded unsure and a bit lost and it was wrong, wasn’t it, because Sherlock wasn’t meant to sound like that.
He could feel his own pulse, not fully slowed down, picking up speed again. If it sounded that loud in his head, how much louder must it have sounded to Sherlock, with his enhanced hearing?
Gently and slowly, John set the glass down in the sink. “What do you need, Sherlock?” What do you need from me?
“Can I… John. Can I bite you? I need to bite you. Now.”
Sherlock didn’t sound remotely in control of himself, and John wasn’t in any shape to stop him if things got out of hand. And right now, they were quite likely to get out of hand.
But Sherlock needed him. There was never really a choice.
John closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his hands gripping the edge of the countertop to steady himself. “Yes.”
He tilted his head slightly to the right. Sherlock grabbed John’s collar with his left hand, pulling it out of the way with such force that two of the buttons came away, the plastic making tiny clinking noises as they hit the linoleum. John had just enough time to hope he didn’t particularly like this shirt before he felt Sherlock’s fangs sink into the juncture between shoulder and neck.
John gave an involuntary shudder. He could tell Sherlock had bitten him more deeply than the last time, giving him a not-quite match for the wound still healing on the shoulder opposite.
Sherlock’s arms moved from the counter to encircle his torso, holding him in place. John set his hands over Sherlock’s forearms, neither gripping nor struggling, trying to convey through the touch that he was alright. That he was still consenting to this.
Take whatever you need, because I would rather die than lose you again.
He’d donated his fair share of blood over the years, the closest and most obvious analogy to what they were doing, but as Sherlock had said, this was intimate. This was an embrace, this was a connection, this was the feeling that his vitality, that his John-ness, was somehow being drawn out and into Sherlock along with his red cells, platelets, and plasma.
Sherlock’s hair tickled against his cheek.
John felt a warmth spreading through his body, radiating outward from the now-tingling pressure at his trapezius. He wondered what his blood felt like for Sherlock, the sensation of hot tea on a winter’s day?
He could feel himself growing flushed, as though whatever blood not drawing towards his flatmate was rushing towards the surface of his skin, leaving a hollow cavity in his chest.
John shuddered again, the movement drawing Sherlock’s arms even tighter, and somehow it felt like Sherlock’s presence began seeping into him, a reverse osmosis to fill the void he’d created.
He felt the blood rushing between his legs now too, felt himself growing hard, still pressed uncomfortably against the cabinetry. John was growing lightheaded, all of his blood accounted for and apparently none of it reserved for his brain.
Shit. This was not… this was not what they were. This was about what Sherlock needed, and John had no right to… to be getting off on it like a schoolboy.
“Sherlock. Sherlock!” John said, pushing against the sink’s edge for leverage. “That’s enough, don’t you think? Sherlock, STOP,” he ordered.
Something about his Captain Watson voice must have finally gotten through to Sherlock. His grip slackened slightly, enough to allow John to twist around and face him.
“Look, it’s…” whatever John had meant to say died on his lips as he got a good look at his flatmate. Sherlock’s eyes had gone entirely dark from pupils to sclera, a deep inky black like a raven’s feathers.
“You taste incredible.,” Sherlock said, voice low and awed. And apparently this was what they were, whatever this was, because suddenly Sherlock was kissing him with the same bloody singlemindedness he’d seen earlier, hands firmly gripping the sides of John’s head. As if John would want to escape.
And Sherlock tasted like blood, like John’s blood, and it should have been disgusting, it was disgusting, his fangs were still slightly extended, and John had nicked his tongue on one of them, and Sherlock had moaned, and it was the best thing John H. Watson had ever done.
“You taste like a murder,” Sherlock murmured. “A locked room…” He licked the shell of John’s ear. “…five bodies…” He snaked a hand down to palm John’s erection through his jeans and it was John’s turn to moan. “…with no visible marks.”
Whatever was happening between them was bound to be dangerous. But once again Sherlock was leading, and John would follow. He would always follow.