“Come on, it will be fun,” John coaxes. Sherlock has taken refuge in John’s room while Mrs. Hudson fills the lower floor of the flat with food and decorations for the party tomorrow. He’s sitting cross-legged on John’s bed, petulant and dishevelled in a way makes him look positively edible.
John likes the holidays well enough as it is, and the thought of having them with Sherlock has put him in a cheerfully amorous mood.
“Why on earth would it be fun?” Sherlock spits.
“Because… it’s Christmas! Drinks and games and all our friends… and you promised to play for everyone, remember? Too late to back out now.”
Sherlock scoffs. “One of those things sounds appealing.”
“Two. You love playing because everyone tells you how good you are.”
Sherlock looks less than convinced and John crosses the room and climbs onto the bed, pushing Sherlock back gently against the pillows.
“I don’t think you hate Christmas nearly as much as you like everyone to think,” he tells Sherlock in a low voice. “In fact, I think you quite enjoy it.”
John pulls himself on top of the unresisting detective and begins to ever so gently nip at his prominent collarbone. Sherlock stifles a moan.
That soft sound combined with the sight of the bared, endless, ivory throat vulnerable before him, sends shockwaves of longing directly to John’s loins.
“Why… why would you think that?” Sherlock manages in a voice that approaches, but doesn’t quite reach, normal.
“Because you’re still here,” answers John, teasing fingers dancing up the inside Sherlock’s naked arm as he holds his face just inches away from his lover’s.
Sherlock’s inner struggle between his natural curmudgeon and the desire John has set coursing through his veins is written all over his face. He hesitates for just a moment too long, and then, at last, cranes his neck up to take John’s mouth in his and kisses him violently, dragging John’s head back down with him and using his agile legs to slam John’s pelvis against his.
John breaks from the kiss laughing in sheer delight and runs a hand up under Sherlock’s thin t-shirt, fondling every well-defined muscle in his path.
“You look like Christmas sometimes,” Sherlock tells him, a little breathlessly, putting his hands to John’s waist and running them down to caress his jeans-clad arse.
“Do I?” asks John, working off Sherlock’s shirt and beginning to methodically explore the rangy torso with his mouth.
He could spend hours just here, tasting every last patch of smooth skin, following every line and curve of Sherlock’s chest with his tongue, testing his firm stomach with lips and teeth.
“Yes. Like the tree lit up and fire in the fireplace and sparklers and…ungh!” Sherlock gasps as John’s questing tongue finds his sensitive nipple and begins doing filthy things to it.
John releases him after a moment and looks down into his face fondly. “Nightmare. Absolute fucking nightmare.”
The corners of Sherlock’s mouth twitch upwards, but then his expression grows serious and he frowns. “You’re not going to wear the jumper, are you?” Sherlock demands.
John grins. “Oh, I have to wear the jumper.”
“It’s Christmas. I have to wear the jumper, Sherlock. Think of it as a present for you.”
“Why the hell would I want that?”
“Because,” John whispers, ducking down to nibble on Sherlock’s earlobe. “You get to take it off me after.”
“You make… a compelling…argument…” Sherlock murmurs distractedly as John grabs his hand and places one long index finger firmly in his mouth. He holds the base of it in his teeth as he licks ruthlessly around it, keeping Sherlock’s gaze shamelessly all the while. Sherlock eyes are riveted to John’s face, watching transfixed as he sucks Sherlock’s finger deeper into his throat, swallowing against it, using it as an instrument of his own satisfaction in a way that has clearly not previously occurred to Sherlock.
He worships Sherlock’s hands, the things they can do and the things that can be done to them. He’s had them on and in every part of his body and it’s never enough. He wants it to never be enough.
“This Christmas,” John whispers around the elegant digit, “I want to fuck every last part of your body. Is that all right with you?”
Sherlock can now only whimper in response. John repeats this performance with the other fingers on Sherlock’s right hand, deliberate and unhurried as he feels the tension build in Sherlock’s body beneath him until the younger man is panting and paralyzed with his need, his brain short-circuited by the stimulus.
John guides Sherlock’s hand to the top button of his shirt and Sherlock obediently begins to undo it, sliding it off of John’s shoulders and dragging his fingernails sharply down John’s back as he does so. John closes his eyes and arches against Sherlock’s hands, rubbing himself on Sherlock’s hardness and groaning deeply.
He rolls off of Sherlock, and off of the bed, taking hold of Sherlock’s feet and pulling him sharply to the edge of the mattress. He kneels prayerfully between Sherlock’s legs and Sherlock pushes himself up on his elbows to watch as John slowly eases the waistband of his pyjama bottoms down, bit by tiny bit, like he is revealing a precious treasure.
Sherlock’s whole body is a treasure, but especially the parts only John is allowed access to, the parts he gets to discover anew each time they are together.
John follows the progress of his hands with his mouth, starting at Sherlock’s bellybutton and kissing downward along the faint trail of dark hair below it, giving each place due attention as it becomes available. At last he reaches the border of a deep and fragrant forest, and he immerses himself in it, pulling the fabric at last over the swollenness of Sherlock’s cock and off him completely.
He puts his hands to Sherlock’s jutting hipbones and glances briefly up at his friend, who is watching him with sharp, focused hunger shining in his sea-glass eyes. John wraps his fingers around Sherlock, enjoying the sight of his lean thigh muscles contracting in anticipation. John nuzzles softly around the base of him, inhaling him, as Sherlock lets out little halting breaths of pleasure with each movement John makes. He gives Sherlock’s testes a long, slow lick, the promise of more to come, and is just about to turn his attention to Sherlock’s enticingly dewy tip…
Both men’s heads snap instantly in the direction of Sherlock’s mobile on the bedside table, then back to each other where they find themselves frozen in a suddenly awkward tableau.
Of course it would happen now, it’s always happening just at the times Sherlock’s attention should be most on him, it’s like she knows somehow. He’s kneeling in submission with a cock in his hand and nearly in his mouth and now all his partner can think of is the woman on the other end of a text. Hell, it’s all he can think of either, though for entirely different reasons.
John feels a blind fury bubbling up, even as panic dances across Sherlock’s face and then is quickly suppressed. “Are you going to check that?” John asks in his coolest and most even tone.
Sherlock maintains eye contact stubbornly, licks his lips just once, and replies very carefully and with only the slightest hesitation to betray the fact that the decision took any thought at all, “Check what, John?”
John forces himself to relax, to bite back the anger and jealousy that makes him want to storm out of the room and leave Sherlock there, exposed and unfulfilled. He knows he should reward Sherlock for making the right choice, prioritizing him, but what he really wants is to punish Sherlock for the fact that he would even consider doing something different, that he even has to fight the urge to come running at her call. For the fact that he’s left his phone on, for the fact that he’s never changed that damned text alert, for the fact of the woman’s existence at all.
Sherlock’s trying to understand, trying to please John. What John must look like in his rage to Sherlock at the moment he wonders, but will not ask. He feels red-hot and spitting, like a solar storm arcing out to consume worlds.
He tries to gather himself to continue as if nothing has changed, trying to banish all thoughts unrelated to the task at hand, but it’s too late, she’s already won by inserting herself into both their brains and that can’t be undone.
Sherlock sees his reluctance and for a moment John thinks it’s all over, that their intimacy is about to crumble at this false note and become nothing more than a tainted memory. But instead, Sherlock turns animated, in one smooth movement jumping up, pulling John to his feet, spinning him around and bending him roughly over the end of the bed.
John’s stomach drops and his breathing quickens as Sherlock leans over him and puts his mouth to John’s ear and growls in his most predatory voice, “You’re mine John Watson. Don’t forget it. You’re mine and I’m going to have you right now.”
Sherlock uses one hand to keep John down on the bed (an unnecessary precaution) while tearing at John’s belt and the fastenings of John’s jeans with the other, until he manages to loosen them enough to yank them down over John’s resurging erection. Sherlock kneels behind him and places both hands firmly on his bared arse. John’s heart skips a beat as he feels himself being spread apart and trembles expectantly as Sherlock’s hot breath draws nearer.
Sherlock starts at his perineum and licks upward in long, deep, sure strokes. He develops a slow but constant rhythm with his tongue, unrelenting and unwavering, that makes John tingle and ache in places he didn’t even know he had.
“Sherlock,” he gasps and he feels Sherlock smile against him, though he does not miss a beat in his lapping.
He is being worn away at, like the stream wears at the mountain, thinking that eventually he will be reduced to nothing but a nub of raw bliss under Sherlock’s ministrations.
John lets go of all conscious thought, the last of his anger, and any inkling of the existence of the woman at all, indulging completely in the velvety warmth of Sherlock’s ceaseless pulsing against him. It is like being cast into a warm pool and finding that he can float without any effort at all. The pleasure is intense, but not overwhelming, building slowly but never quite pushing him over the edge. He allows himself to get lost in the sensation so completely that it’s a shock when after long minutes it finally stops.
Sherlock gets to his feet behind John, wiping his mouth, and John feels the hot hardness of him against his skin. John steels himself to take the thick girth of his friend inside him, but instead Sherlock slots himself carefully between John’s saliva-slicked buttocks, holding tightly to John’s shoulders as he slides himself up and down, gliding over but never breaching John’s entrance.
The sensation is unexpectedly strong, but delicate and complex, different from either being fucked or fucking. They move together against each other, undulating in sync. John clenches, wrapping his ankles around Sherlock’s calves to keep them as tight together as possible, and Sherlock snakes a hand forward to stroke John almost harshly as he pumps faster against him.
To be in Sherlock’s hands, to be at his mercy, John wants nothing more in this moment, nothing more than to be the object of Sherlock’s desire.
John feels his climax begin to swell with this additional stimulation and makes no attempt to delay it, rutting back urgently against Sherlock and working himself more deeply into his large, dextrous hand by turns. He feels Sherlock’s tongue along his spine now, and the taller man is mouthing words into his skin that he can’t decipher but knows are urging him on.
John obeys, shuddering at last into Sherlock’s stilled hand, the merciless beating against him extending the crescendo and building it to dizzying heights until John loses all strength and collapses against the duvet, content to allow Sherlock to use his body for as long as he wants while John rides the final notes down into pleasant exhaustion.
It doesn’t take long. John has barely clawed his way back to coherence when he feels the hitch in Sherlock’s tempo that means he is close. John pulls tighter around him as Sherlock slows incrementally and digs his fingers hard into John’s shoulder, his breathing rough. John rolls his hips back as Sherlock pushes forward against him and that last movement is enough. Sherlock gives a keening cry and twitches sharply, and John can feel every pulse and throb more vividly than if Sherlock were in him, feel the sticky heat of Sherlock’s release on the small of his back.
Sherlock falls to the bed beside John, who shifts himself up the rest of the way onto the mattress and rolls on his side to face him. Sherlock’s gaze flicks ever so briefly to the bedside table, but John grabs his face in both hands and kisses him deeply.
“Happy Christmas,” he says.
“Christmas isn’t for two days,” Sherlock informs him.
“Yes, John.” Sherlock closes his eyes, basking in the afterglow and allowing John to affectionately toy with his mop of curls. At last John sighs and says, “I’d better get cleaned up and go help Mrs. Hudson. Or she’s going to come up here to find us. Coming?”
Sherlock gives a grunt that manages to indicate that he has no intention of doing anything at all for quite some time, and John plants one last kiss on his full lips and fumbles his way to his feet.
“Don’t you have work to do? What about the Bryant case?”
“I told you,” Sherlock mumbles, “nothing is going to happen until at least February. Well, I say nothing… We needn’t concern ourselves at present.”
John shrugs and pulls back on his shirt and jeans, hoping he can get to the bathroom before being spotted, and pauses in the doorway.
“Oh, and Sherlock?”
“Tomorrow at the party… wear the aubergine, would you?”
“Why?” Sherlock doesn’t open his eyes.
“Because taking that off you will be my Christmas present.” John grins as he sees Sherlock’s eyelids flutter involuntarily in response, and heads downstairs.
Their little party is a success, at least at first. Sherlock is in rare spirits, playing carols on his violin beautifully, and if he can’t stop thinking about work or deducing his friend’s lives, he at least seems to think he doing so in a playful manner. Of course most people don’t find it cute at all, and thus the rather small number of people gathered here tonight. The only ones stubborn enough to remain despite the constant stream of insults and painful, unasked for information about their relationships.
Sherlock tosses out these little bombs into people lives, things that to him seem so painfully obvious but that wouldn’t have occurred to them for a moment until he says it and their universe comes crashing down. He’s proving he’s clever, but John’s also starting to realise that he thinks this is how to connect with people, how to show he’s paying attention to them. It’s half game, half misguided show of friendship.
He’s getting better. It only takes a word from John to stop him from starting in on Harry, a masterful show of self-control given his seemingly boundless loathing of her. And when he gleefully displays such breathtaking cruelty to Molly that she’s reduced to tears before them, he sees it. For once, he actually sees what he’s done and offers without prodding a quietly sincere apology and a chaste kiss.
John is so fiercely proud of him for that, for just an instant prouder than he’s ever been of Sherlock.
And then she texts, once again interjecting herself into their lives at the worst possible moment. It wouldn’t be so bad if she hadn’t apparently broken into their flat and left a present for Sherlock, if John hadn’t decided to make an issue of it right then, if Sherlock hadn’t completely refused to discuss it with him. But mostly it wouldn’t be so bad if it all didn’t mean that she was dead.
John realises in retrospect that Sherlock must have known what was in the box before he opened it, known exactly what it meant. Both that she was about to be found dead, and that she wasn’t just yet. When John was chasing after Sherlock, harrying him about the number of texts and whether he replied or not, Irene Adler was out there in the world, dying.
He listens at the door as Sherlock tells Mycroft the news, hating himself for every word that’s just come out of his mouth. None of it matters now.
“You okay?” he offers.
“Yes,” Sherlock tells him and John wonders if he knows that he’s lying. Either way, he shuts the door in John face and it doesn’t open again for a long time.
It’s nearly three a.m. when John hears Sherlock’s mobile ring through the wall of his bedroom. John can’t hear the conversation, but doesn’t need to. He can guess. Sherlock emerges moments later and sweeps past John in the hall as he grabs his coat and heads for the door.
“Sherlock? Was that… Is she…?”
“My God. Hang on a tick, let me get my jacket…”
“Your presence is not required,” Sherlock says coldly and is gone before John can argue. John is left alone in the sitting room, feeling sick and useless. After a few minutes, Mrs. Hudson enters to check on him.
“Did Sherlock leave to…?” she asks tentatively and John nods. “Do you think we ought to…?
“Yes, I suppose we had,” John replies, with a heavy reluctance. Sherlock had asked this of him a few months ago, to save him from himself in times of great stress. He had informed John out of the blue that he had paid off all the local dealers to keep them from selling to him and that John should search his things when he thought Sherlock was in danger to prevent him from violating his own promise to John.
He’s still not sure whether getting Mycroft involved was a good idea, but the elder Holmes did know Sherlock better than even John, and it’s not like he would have had any success preventing Mycroft’s interference had he attempted to.
Sherlock returns an hour later, just after John and Mrs. Hudson have completed their exhaustive search and Mycroft has finished warning him just how bad Sherlock really is tonight. Not that John hasn’t figured it out on his own, but having Mycroft confirm it makes his stomach twist with fear.
Sherlock shuts himself up in his room again immediately. John knocks once and receives no answer. He paces the kitchen, unsure of what he can do other than be awake and in the flat in case something happens.
How is he supposed to stay with him when Sherlock won’t let John near him?
When Christmas morning dawns, Sherlock is still locked away. John cancels on Harry and snags a few hours of sleep in his own room before going back downstairs to the deafening silence of the closed and impenetrable door. He sits in the kitchen, drinking cup after cup of coffee and futilely willing it to open.