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Beats of Three

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John understood his place in regards to Sherlock that very first evening at Bart’s. He was competent, at least Sherlock acknowledged that when they went dashing out the door for their first case together. John was (reluctantly) comfortable in the role of ‘assistant’. Betas had a long, successful breed line of being followers to their Alpha counterparts. Betas had a tendency towards complacency, to follow orders, and to not question those orders.

As such, they often ended up in roles such as nurses, soldiers, legal aids, teaching assistants and the like. The “worker bees” the Alphas were known to say (privately, of course) who were just smart enough to keep the machines working and fill out the paperwork, but just dumb enough not to question the way things were.

John had managed to achieve a rank of both Doctor and Captain, both roles usually reserved for Alphas. One would say usually, as nothing was officially written in stone to say a Beta couldn’t achieve a higher position or status symbol, but it just wasn’t how things were.

He wish he could say he earned it alone, but he knew his earlier act of throwing himself over the frightened 1st tour Alpha soldier as an IED exploded at their 9 o’clock had something to do with it. So happened that young Alpha he protected was the grandson of a Parliament member, who sent a personalized note of thanks and appreciation to John’s higher ranking military members.

After that, doors seemed to open.

But as he stood now, handing over mobile phones and fishing pens from pockets, he felt he was back at square one.

“Careful!” Sherlock snapped, as John attempted to pull out the fountain pen. Willing himself to not roll his eyes, John plucked said pen with exaggerated delicacy and then thrust it into his hand.

“There!” He snapped back with equal ferocity. He felt guilty almost immediately, clearing his throat and stepping back, giving Sherlock room to examine the spores through the microscope.

He knew why Sherlock was snappish. (Not so) simple biology was driving him into an agitated state. It was… October? Yes. Already October and Sherlock’s Rut was starting, practically six months to the day from his previous.

Ruts weren’t the same as Heats, as far as John understood it. Heats were reserved for Omegas in estrus, happening once every two to three months, turning an average (--weaker—John knew) man or woman into a mindless, instinct driven madhouse to procreate. John had watched videos both in school (and privately); to understand a gender, biology and way of life he was not privy too.

Ruts happened to unbonded Alphas after the age point of 30. Biology urging them to seek out and procreate with an Omega. It wasn’t as… frenzied, as a Heat. John knew Sherlock still struggled with his mental faculities during that state. He knew enough to lock himself in his room at least for the duration of the Rut. He even managed to keep hydrated (much thanks to John for leaving the bottles of water outside the door.) But he was irritable, demanding and territorial (all more so than usual.)

Betas had no scenting skills, no scent glands and certainly no Ruts or Heats. “The Omegas that never were” as he read once in a textbook, as all the functional Omega ‘equipment’ (uterus, fallopian tubes, secretion glands) were stored, but dormant and inert in his body. Practically shriveled and certainly useless. Like an appendix, only more annoying and risky to remove.

They were, as Sherlock would certainly put it, dull, uninteresting and boring. Useful only in the sense he  could follow directions (pick up milk, make the tea), fill out the paperwork (blog, in his case) and be a follower to Sherlock’s natural leader.

“We’re leaving.” Sherlock stated abruptly, snapping himself up from the chair.

John blinked. “Did you finish—“ He pointed to the microscope.

Sherlock coiled his scarf around his neck. “Leaving!” He repeated, stuffing the (unused) pen back into his inner pocket.

John merely nodded, and followed.


Back at Baker Street, Sherlock prowled endlessly.

It was unspoken between them. They never discussed their genders (specifically Sherlock’s—Who wanted to talk about boring Beta affairs?) and outside of Sherlock’s sniping and condescending remarks about John’s many first dates (hardly any second dates—Honestly John are you so uninteresting?) they never spoke about sex at all.

John hovered in the kitchen, unusually spooked by Sherlock’s repeated (locking, unlocking, locking, unlocking, peering, growling, slamming, locking) checking of the front door.

Maybe tonight was the night, John thought to himself, keeping his eyes downcast and mindlessly stirring his (now cold) tea. Maybe tonight was the night Sherlock’s iron control snapped and he went out searching.

“For God’s sake stop stirring that damned tea!” Sherlock suddenly snarled. John froze mid stir, still keeping his eyes downcast.

He felt a grip on his arm and he raised his head, but made sure not to make eye contact.

He knew the drill.

“John, you’re mine, yes?” The fingers hurt, grip firmer than last time.

“Yes, Sherlock.” He said tonelessly.

“My friend. My flatmate.” His voice was a borderline growl. “Mine.”

“Yes, Sherlock. Yours. Your territory.”

“Yes.” Sherlock leaned in (the first time John had jumped a mile, thinking Sherlock meant to kiss him) to scent him along his jaw line.

John remembered his first frightening encounter with an in Rut Alpha. His first year as a medical student he had for three straight weeks treated the same Alpha (38 years old, ginger hair and beard, quiet but had a wicked, dry humor) who dropped into Rut during an appointment. The Alpha had been utterly convinced John was HIS. Not his lover, or even friend, but an indescribable sense of ownership (“MY DOCTOR!” He had bellowed before he was tranq’d out)

Alphas were possessive and protective of what they deemed theirs. And during Sherlock’s first rut eighteen months ago, he had deemed his (dull, boring) flatmate as his.

John had no idea how much Sherlock retained during his actions during his cycle, but it was never spoken of again until the next Rut six months later, when Sherlock barged into John’s room without knocking and pulled him down the stairs into the living room, stating (wild-eyed—John remembered  vividly) that John had to stay here, not outside, not upstairs but here, with Sherlock, because John was his and his stuff was here

John had nodded dumbly, agreeing without complaint only because of how utterly wrecked Sherlock looked. Nervous energy filled the air and Sherlock couldn’t stop pacing, pacing, pacing, scenting John, scenting his violin, his skull, his chair, back to John, back to pacing and John didn’t (and wanted so badly to) know how to help.

On the second day Sherlock had shut himself up in his room. John had no idea if he had set up provisions so he took it upon himself to leave the bottled water and biscuits outside Sherlock’s door. When he left and returned an hour later, the food and water was gone.

So this night, John kept his eyes down, not grimacing when Sherlock’s grip tightened on his forearm and he was yanked again from the kitchen into the living room. He was prepared for Sherlock to pace, to snarl, to check the locks on the doors and windows and then to suddenly and unceremoniously thrust himself into his room with a slam, not to be seen for two days until—

“John, are you mine?” Sherlock repeated, his hold still tight.

John nodded, finding a nail in the floorboard and focusing on it. “Yes, Sherlock.”

“John, look at me.”

This was new.

John felt a flare of panic. No. He can’t look. Can’t make direct eye contact. The last time he did---

The grip loosened a bit. Sherlock took a step closer. John’s throat hitched in a burst of adrenaline, diaphragm tightening.

“You’re frightened.” Sherlock’s voice was quiet. The hold remained. "You smell different."

John swallowed. Damned Alphas and their impossibly perceptive scent abilities.

“So am I talking to Sherlock or to the Alpha?” John ventured, cautiously bringing his eyes up.

Sherlock tilted his head, brow slightly furrowed. “It’s me. Your presence seems to be… calming me.”

John nodded. “Good. That’s good.”

The grip released, suddenly. “I’ve hurt you before in this state.” Sherlock took a step away, face unreadable.

John gave a weak shrug, resisting the urge to rub the forming bruise on his arm less Sherlock see. “It was my mistake. I-I didn’t… realize.” The thought didn’t feel complete, but the words for a further explanation escaped him.

Sherlock seemed to understand, as he gave a curt nod. “Are they getting worse?” He asked tonelessly, looking down the hallway.

John considered for a moment, knowing exactly what Sherlock was asking. “You seem more… intense. Less lucid and less… you. Why do you check the locks?" The question burst forth suddenly, something he’d wanted to ask since the first Rut. "Over and over, like you’re afraid someone is going to come in.”.

Sherlock snapped his attention to the front door, imperceptivity relaxing as he noticed it was still locked. He didn’t answer.

“Is it because you don’t want someone taking your…” John motioned around the living room awkwardly. “… stuff?”

Sherlock still didn’t answer, eyes drifting from the door to the windows, to the door again.

John swallowed, a sinking feeling in his gut as he felt he was losing Sherlock again to the Alpha. “Sherlock, look at me.”

Amazingly, Sherlock obeyed, eyes focusing in on John with the laser focus usually reserved for a crime scene. They held eye contact. He wasn’t struck.

Cautiously, John approached the Alpha and reached. Fingers brushed Sherlock’s arm and the Alpha didn’t snarl at him. Good. That was good.

“Sherlock—No one is coming in here. Hey, look at me.” He repeated when the Alpha turned away to glare at the door again. But again, he obeyed. “No one is coming in here. Nobody is going to take anything.”

“We aren’t secure.” Sherlock stated slowly, unsure, like he didn’t even understand what he was saying.

John licked his lips, thinking. He tightened his hold on Sherlock’s arm---he knew he was really, really pressing his luck here—and pulled slightly.

Sherlock raised his lip in a wordless snarl, standing his ground.

John pulled again, motioning his head towards Sherlock’s bedroom door. “Come on.” He pulled again, a gentle tug. “C’mon. I know what will help.”

The curled lip fell back into a thin line. With a final pull, John led Sherlock with the tentative, careful walk one would lead a skittish colt into a barn.

Sherlock’s room was sparsely decorated, save for the framed periodic table and various artwork along the walls. Simple table lamp, simple dresser. His bed was always made (and hardly used—John knew) sheets pulled tight and pillows stacked neatly.

That wouldn’t do.

John released Sherlock’s wrist and smoothed his hands over the soft (expensive) duvet, gripped and yanked it off the bed in a smooth motion. The pillows toppled. He risked a look over to Sherlock, who merely looked puzzled, head tilted to the side watching John and saying nothing. Okay then.

He did the same motion to the sheets underneath, shoving them and molding them into a rumbled mess into the bedspread. He leaned over and picked up the pillows, tossing them without care on top. He pulled the duvet up and over the now discordant sheets and tossed it as well.

Without giving Sherlock a chance to process what John was doing to his bed, the Beta reached again—bolder—and gripped his wrist and tugged him onto the bed.

The Alpha followed John’s lead as he dipped himself into the crumbled mass of sheets. John buried them under the pillows and duvet. Sherlock’s arm reached and pulled John toward him, pressing John’s back to his chest. With one hand, John managed to settle the duvet over them, tenting the fabric enough for them to comfortably breathe and watch each other in the dimness.

“Nest.” The Alpha stated. John turned his head enough to see Sherlock’s eyes were blown black. Brought on by the connotation of what a ‘nest’ means to an Alpha or his own proximity to John, he wasn’t sure.

“Yes.” John said quietly, nodding. He didn’t tense as Sherlock’s hand curled around his waist. “Do you feel secure?” He asked gently.

“Nest.” Sherlock stated again, nosing along John’s hairline, scenting him. “Mine.”

John swallowed and nodded again.

Sherlock had relaxed considerably, but he was teetering more on Alpha instincts now as the second day of his cycle approached. The more he relaxed into John, nosing along John’s neck and shoulder blades, the more John found his muscles tightening, his breathing shortening.

Sherlock rocked against him—once, twice. John froze all but his heart, which hammered in his chest.

Guilt and fear seemed to be battling it out inside him. Guilt because he was the one who put Sherlock into this position—He had read how “nesting” could calm an agitated Alpha or Omega, something to do with den instincts, finding protection from predators and shelter from the elements. Nesting was intimate, he wasn’t at first sure that Sherlock would even let him touch his arm, much less lead him into bed with him, but yet here they were.

Fear was edging him as well. Alphas could be brutal, driven by primal instincts to mate, to protect, to harm if need be. They were known to kill their own mates if their Omegas had attempted to stop in the middle of a Heat.

But he wasn’t an Omega. He wasn’t in Heat. But how far gone was Sherlock? How much could John give without taking advantage? Could he be so desperate that even a Beta would do?

John needed to test this unsettled feeling curling in his chest—partly because of his curiosity and partly because he was feeling claustrophobic.

The effect was instantaneous. Sherlock’s grip tightened around his waist—hard, and he pulled John down, throwing a leg over him and pinning him with a snarl against his neck.

John went rigid, fear stinging through him like a sharp slap to the face.

He knew not to struggle. He knew if he did those teeth would be in his neck and—He couldn’t finish the thought. His once placid, pleased Alpha was now snarling and agitated on top of him. His mind whirled frantically on how to fix this.

He remembered those videos, his research from all those years back—

John turned his head and licked Sherlock’s jaw, once, twice. He nipped. He licked again. He gave a small, soft whine.

Sherlock was immobilized, eyes wide. The snarling ceased immediately at John’s first movement. Where he once aimed to bite, he nuzzled, soft black curls tickling John’s collarbone.

Alphas and Omegas didn’t kiss, not in Heat and Ruts. Instincts to lick and scent and bite and snap were too strong to do something so human as to kiss.

The Alpha nuzzled his neck, licking and scenting and when he felt those careful, longer fingers trail down his side to grip around his shorts and pull—John knew everything was too far gone to stop it now.

The Alpha gripped him hard, blankets all around them bunching and seemingly breathing along with them. He twisted John until he was on his belly, mounting and pressing him down.

There was no preparation. Alphas were not known to be considerate lovers. John arched and bit back a cry and a hiss when the Alpha entered him. John’s own instinct to protect himself caused him to attempt to pull away, fingers gripping the edge of the mattress. The Alpha snapped at his neck, a warning. John was fearful it was the only warning he would get. He forced himself to breath in beats of three. Three seconds in. Three seconds out.

Sherlock rocked into him, grunting, gliding his hands along John’s body—spreading his Alpha scent—John noted dimly. The scent was sharp, heady, clouding over them just like the sheets. The scent was utterly masculine and John felt a whine escape his throat. Wait, John couldn’t scent—The whine spurned the Alpha on, erasing John’s thoughts.

There was no knot—Thank whatever God there was. John didn’t have Omega pheromones to trigger Sherlock. The Alpha keened as his climax approached, thrusting harder into John, frustrated there was no knot to tie them together, to further help their procreation. John knew he didn’t understand there would be no procreation happening, didn’t understand why there was no knot.

The force of Sherlock’s thrusts caused immeasurable friction against John’s cock, which was trapped between himself the bed. Sherlock pressed him hard enough he couldn’t reach a hand in between so he relied on the grind of the sheets.

“Mine. Mine.” The Alpha growled out, the only words he’d uttered during their entire coupling.

He gripped John’s throat, fingers scissoring along his Adam’s apple. “Tell me. Tell me!” He snapped, teeth bared.

John nodded frantically. “Yes. Yes yours. Yours.”

They came almost in tandem, John’s orgasm hitting him a few breaths after the Alphas.

And then Sherlock bit.

Teeth sank into the crook of his neck and John jerked away, but the teeth followed him, splitting skin. He had no scent gland, nothing to seal a bond bite and yet Sherlock had bit him, instinct overriding.

Teeth left him, the stinging remained. “Mine. My Omega. Mine.”

What?

“No.” John managed to rasp out as Sherlock spread his body along John’s, pinning him.

The Alpha bared his teeth. A thin blood trail on his lips. “Yes. Omega. Mine.” He nuzzled John again, licking the bite.

John felt a jolt sear through him at the action. He bared his throat instinctively.

What?

No.

What?

“Sleep.” Sherlock murmured, his solid weight was suddenly reassuring against John, settling over him, exhaustion dominating.

He nipped at John’s neck. John turned and licked his jaw.

Sherlock led him into sleep, and John followed.

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock woke quickly, eyes snapping open, body and mind on alert. The elderly plumbing in the building clanged on. John taking a shower then. Must be 06:45, John’s schedule was nothing if not predictable.

He shifted, scowling at the untidiness of his bedspread.

Sherlock’s head pounded. He hadn’t felt anything like it in years. It was similar to a bad hangover. This time he blamed it on his more than likely usual dehydration after a Rut. He ran a hand through his hair, scrubbing his temples.

He froze.

He stared at his wrist, just within his line of sight. Flecked with brown, dried blood.

He inhaled deeply through his mouth, tasting and scenting the stagnant air.

Blood. Iron. Salt. Sweat. Semen. John.

John.

No.

He shoved the blankets off him, a feeling of blazing heat streaking through his skin, his hackles rising.

Blood. Brown against the stark whiteness of his pillow. Dark against the flannel of his sheets.

Old blood. Hours then. He’d been lying in John’s blood for hours.

He bolted up and away. Check. Hands, arms, wrists—mouth.

He worked his tongue against his teeth. Copper penny tang. Blood flaked off his lower lip.

Sherlock searched his memory bank frantically. He remembered the doors (locked), windows (locked), John (“You’re frightened. You smell different.”) And then nothing. Nothing! Devastating blankness, his memory bank utterly eradicated during Ruts.

But he knew.

Mycroft had been right.

Right to fear for him and what he might do while unbonded at such an age. He’d been warned he was a threat, even to Betas, perhaps even especially to Betas. Trusting, compliant and easily ordered—TThey subconsciously wanted so badly to satisfy Alphas that they would put themselves in danger if they felt it might be of benefit in the end. At least Omegas (when not in a Heat) knew to snarl and drive unwanted Alphas away. Even Omegas needed to be courted properly.

And then John. His trusting Beta. John would have done anything for him.

Sherlock felt sickened.

Where he should be entering the second day of Rut, he felt nothing No lust. No urge. No aggression. Only a numbness which encased him with suffocating discomfort. What transpired between him and John last night was enough to curb the desire.

He listened, rooted to the spot, as the water clanged off.


Inhale… one, two, three…

John could admit to himself he was frightened upon first waking. Sherlock’s solid body sprawled on top of him, pillows and heavy fabric rumbled on their forms--he’d nearly had a panic attack at the overwhelming sensation of being trapped.

Sherlock’s sheets were navy blue but even as John struggled out of them and out from under the unconscious Alpha, he didn’t have to see to know. The scent of stale sweat and coppery blood assaulted him. 

His neck was a mess.

His wrists were bruised.

But he would be fine.  He was fine. He was alive.

The edges of his memory were frayed but he held enough awareness to know he was fully culpable. He’d led an in Rut Alpha to bed, he’d let him nest against him, let him handle him in intimate ways…He could have stopped it, he knew, he knew he was in most ways taking advantage of Sherlock’s (lack of) coherency.

He stepped into the shower on autopilot, twisting the knob and hearing the old pipes groan with life. Mechanically he washed himself, pulling the cloth against his skin, barely registering the stings along his neck and arms.

He found himself shivering, blinking at the realization the water had suddenly turned to ice, as the old system sometimes did. As he turned the water off he found himself still shivering, but he didn’t blame it on the water.

Exhale… one two three.

Wiping the mirror down with his forearm he checked the wound on his neck. A solid, one puncture bite.  Down and up, no ripping to tearing. He smoothed antiseptic over it along with a bandage, before quietly heading up to his room, avoiding the eleventh step altogether, knowing its loose nail would make it squeak.

He pulled on his clothes, a turtleneck as he felt self-conscious enough as it was, (he didn’t need people staring at what was clearly a submission bite), along with a cream colored jumper, faded jeans and a pair of trainers. He combed his fingers through his hair with uncharateristic neatness, smoothing the wet strands flat as trails of water ran down his nape. Self-grooming is a sign of attraction and/or nervousness, Sherlock had told him once. As he found himself fiddling with his hair once again, he decided that yeah, Sherlock at least knew that much about social cues.

He sat on his bed and found himself unable to stop shivering from his compounding anxiety.

He cupped a palm to his neck, testing the bandage with his fingers through his clothes. The sensory memory was there. Sherlock’s hold. His teeth. Him baring it for the Alpha. The submissive, throaty noises he’d made coupled with Sherlock’s aggressive grunts. It was utterly frightening and yet… utterly right. That complete sense of abandon, letting Sherlock take control and just letting himself feel.

My Omega. Mine.

Sherlock had asked him before he’d lost himself to his Alpha state, if they were ‘getting worse’—And they were. To the point where the Alpha’s desperate, deluded mind had conjured up for him an Omega in his bed as a replacement for John, so longing for a bond connection—John swallowed heavily, guilt ridden and just a touch jealousy.

John took a breath and held it for three seconds and exhaled for even more.

He had wanted it. He knew that. He could admit that, privately, to himself. He knew what would more than likely happen by leading Sherlock into his room, hand in hand. Even he, as a Beta, knew the implications of a nest to an Alpha while in Rut. He wasn’t frightened (not entirely), and he’d wanted it. But even if Sherlock was content on just having him nearby, quietly having him at his side while he slept, that would have been enough for John as well.

Alphas couldn’t bond with Betas, not how they could with Omegas. But Alphas were these days forming sexual relationships with Betas more and more, it was less and less taboo than it was in days before.

But John had a hope. A small (foolish) hope that maybe Sherlock would want him, that they could--

“You washed away evidence.”

John jumped nearly out of his own skin, hair rising suddenly on his arms. He stood from his bed and spun, facing Sherlock who stood cautiously just outside his door. He hadn’t even heard it open.

“I’m sorry?” He asked idiotically, his heartbeat drummed in his ears, ceasing most of his coherent thoughts.

Sherlock looked unusually gaunt and cautious. Over sized T-shirt pulled over his slim, but broad frame, dark plaid pajama bottoms hanging off him. “You need to report me. You can’t just… You washed away the evidence.” He stated matter of factly, his head bowed.

What? Oh. “Sherlock—“ He took a step forward, watching Sherlock tense up before him. “Hey.” He said gently. He reached for Sherlock’s arm.

“Don’t you let me touch you. I have no right.” The Alpha snarled at him, twitching away from the Beta’s grasp.

“Sherlock stop it. Let me tell you what happened, you don’t remember.” John said in a harsher tone of voice, dropping his hand.

 “I constructed a theory based off of the physical evidence.” The Alpha snapped. “I harmed you. I’m---” An animal. A freak.

“Sherlock, I’m fine. It looked bad, okay, yes. It looked… bad. But I’m alright. If anything I’m the one who  …took advantage.” John swallowed hard, a stone forming in his chest.

“You led me into my room. How do I know? Because my sheets were pulled, tented around me, something I have never done before in my state, so, you did it. You pulled me into bed—“

“Sherlock—“

“—to nest me, to calm me. I was… frightening you. Everything would have been fine until you attempted to pull away from me and I --- became territorial. I attacked you. I attempted to bond with you. I forced you to stay with me.”

“No, you didn’t.” John rushed out automatically.

“Do not insult me John. I bit you. I saw the blood on the pillow. The angle, the splatter. I can deduce what I did.”

“I cleaned it. It’s fine. It won’t scar.” Although he was only 75% positive on that last piece. “You don't have to worry about me.” He urged.

Sherlock sneered, sweeping his curled bangs out of his line of sight. “I do not worry, John. Those who worry are those who don't grasp or comprehend what is happening. You..You Betas,” It dripped contempt. “You are practically genetically programmed to assist us. You did your job, you attempted to care for me and I abused that proclivity.”

“Look maybe,” John sighed heavily. Sherlock noted how suddenly exhausted he looked. “Maybe we can agree to disagree on that front. It’s… extenuating circumstances.”

Sherlock gave a slow nod, seemingly appeased. “Extenuating. Yes, alright.” He paused, eyes sweeping over John’s form, hidden by cloth. He felt a hollow pang in his chest, of not being able to remember John’s naked form. Feeling his calloused hands, licking sun-tanned skin. Feeling him arch beneath him. Even if it was supposed to regret it, he wanted to remember it. “Are you alright?” He asked slowly. “Have I… did I harm you elsewhere?”

John gave him a small (sad?) smile, and Sherlock’s head tilted anxiously. “No, Sherlock. I’m fine. I told you I’m alright, ok?”

Sherlock nodded, but the Alpha inside him paced in agitated circles. “Are you—“ He hated himself for asking, but the urge was too strong. “—still mine, John?” My flatmate. My friend. My only friend.

The smile was gone, and sadness crept to John’s eyes. He looked away but for a moment, before inhaling deeply and facing him, shoulders squared. “Sherlock—“ That heartbreaking tone caused Alpha to tense considerably. “I’ve always been yours. I care for you. You know that just--- do you think--” He took a brave step forward. He pointed a finger at Sherlock and himself back and forth twice, illustrating, before adding. “This? That this could… happen?”

Sherlock frowned, following John’s finger, not comprehending, before—Oh. Oh John.

“I--,” He steeled himself. “I can’t. Biologically, I’m unable.”

“Biolo-… Look if you don’t want to, then just say that. Don’t make excuses, I’m an adult Sherlock, I can… I can handle…” John backed away, hands clenched at his sides. He swallowed hard as his face burned, mortified.

“John—“

“No, really. Just stop. I know Alphas can be with Betas. It happens all the time. But it’s fine, I’m telling you it’s fine. I get it. It’s—“

“John!” Sherlock barked, impatient, crossing the room in two long strides, catching the Beta’s elbow (gently). “Listen, to, me. I am unable. My lineage… I am incompatible with Betas.” He released John and continued to peer down at him, willing understanding.

John frowned, licking his lips. “Alright so… What does that mean, exactly? What happens?”

“We go mad.”

That made John bark out an unexpected laugh. “We drive each other mad every other day Sherlock—“

“John, I need you to listen to me for we will not be having this discussion again. I understand your knowledge is… lacking in this area. You didn’t have the advantage of attending A/O Classes, so I will forgive ignorance. Most, I say most, Alphas are able to faux bond and successfully procreate with Betas. Some, like myself and my family, are of an older line. It’s a biological imperative we bond and mate with, and only with, Omegas. If we lead ourselves outside of that, our Alpha selves go mad. Crazed. Self induced harm. They murder their mates. It’s dangerous. It just… I can’t.”

With each sentence John’s heart sank further and further still. To his credit Sherlock looked miserable detailing his biology. John could only nod. He attempted a smile but it felt broken and inappropriate, so he pulled it back. “Alright.” Is all he said, not trusting himself to speak further.

Sherlock hovered in his room, before closing the gap between them and pulling John to him. The Beta didn’t flinch as Sherlock pressed his lips to his temple.

Alphas didn’t kiss, John at least knew that. This was as close and safe a kiss Sherlock would ever bestow. A concession, a meeting of the middle, an apology. John could only nod. Before Sherlock pulled away from him, he tucked his head under the taller man’s chin and inhaled, breathing in the scents from their previous night’s coupling.

And Sherlock left, casting and meeting John’s eyes in a coldly shuttered, withdrawn look, quietly shutting the door behind him.

And again, John found himself back at square one. The last intimate gesture he’d ever receive from Sherlock. The last conversation regarding sex, or biology, or genders.

Back to being the assistant, the ever compliant Beta.

Back to cases and blogging and experiments ruining the carpet.

Back to normal.

But it took a few days for things to feel normal. Sherlock had withdrawn from him completely, closed off in his room or hounding Lestrade repeatedly by text for cases. He gave orders and requests to John without even looking up from his phone or laptop. Tea, research, takeaway, more research, more tea. And what could John do? He obeyed, half autopilot and half numb. God Damnit, Sherlock was right there and John could only feel lonely.

“How’s the neck?” Sherlock suddenly asked, a full week after. It was the first time since then he’d asked how John was, much less spoken about the ‘incident’.

At first John stared, suddenly apprehensive, before forcing himself calm. “Fine. Healed up I think. No scar.” Not quite the truth, but enough of it.

“Good. That’s good.” Came the clipped response, as Sherlock flipped the page of his newspaper. He didn’t look up at John once.

They had two cases in the month that followed, (“A beheading John!” Sherlock cried out, excitedly.) It had been the first real smile Sherlock and John shared, despite how morbid the actual reason behind it was.

John began to hope that maybe they’d be okay.

Two months later, they found themselves chasing a jewel thief, John berating himself for leaving his Browning back at the flat. It wasn’t meant to be a confrontation; they merely went to question the quiet, helpful Beta assistant of the shop they’d visited the day before—who had turned on them with a single shotgun blast which shattered the window behind them.

With a mutual, silent look and nod at one another, they each took off in opposite directions, Sherlock heading north and John east, attempting to head him off.

The first cramp in John’s gut stumbled him off his feet, knocking the wind out of him. He tripped, landing hard on wet pavement next to some rubbish bins. It was so sudden it sucked the breath right out of his body, his eyes barely able to focus ahead as he watched the culprit vault the chain link fence on the other side. Fuck!

“John!” Sherlock was beside him, arm linked around the crook of his elbow, attempting to pull him up when the second cramp struck, curling his insides he dropped back to his knees. Sherlock knelt beside him, hand against his neck, scenting him for blood or injuries. “Alright? Are you alright? Where did he hurt you? Where?!” John wasn't even sure Sherlock realized he was snarling, hovering over him protectively.

The wind wouldn’t come back into his lungs, he couldn’t speak, he could only shake his head helplessly and pointed to the fence frantically, eyes pleading. There there he went that way, there! But Sherlock shook his head, taking in a few large gulps of air to catch his own breath back. “No, no you’re injured. You can’t even stand. Here.”

He roped a lanky arm around John’s waist, the Beta finally getting a whoop of air back into his lungs. “I’m sorry,” he managed to rasp out, before the third hit. It nearly crippled him, and he collapsed in Sherlock’s arms with a cry.

“Jesus, John!” The Alpha carefully lowed him back down, propping him up against the brick of the building. He kept a firm hand on John’s arm as he went to fish his mobile out of his pocket.

“No! Please, I’m fine. No ambulances, alright? I’m---“ He swallowed air quickly. “—fine. Fine just--- let me sit here for a bit, yeah?”

The Alpha gripped him harder and snarled. “You are not FINE. You are in tremendous pain, I can smell it.  Your heartbeat is rapid but your pulse is weak. Your damned near in shock. You’re protecting your stomach, so what is it? Appendix? Tell me your symptoms.”

John hesitated, quickly running down a mental list of medical conditions. He was loath to admit it was more than likely him being out of shape, getting a side cramp from the sudden burst of mad running he had done.

As he ran through his list, nothing came up and Sherlock was waiting, anxious and expectant. They felt like contractions, a timed pulse in his abdomen that seized, gripped hard then released, every 30 to 60 seconds. Nothing in his doctoral catalog could explain it, and his body tingled in what he could only name as fear.

He caught his breath and looked up at the Alpha and shrugged as casually as he could manage. “I…. I’m fine now. I don’t know what it could have been. How’s my pulse now?”

Sherlock crossed his arms tightly, eyes suspicious. “Calmer now I suppose. I still would recommend a hospital visit. That was very sudden.”

“Yeah, well,” John heaved himself up, bracing against the wall. He didn’t miss how Sherlock’s fingers twitched to assist him, but he remained still. “No hospital. I’m fine just… Probably just lost my breath for a bit.”

Sherlock gave a roll of his eyes, uncrossing his arms. “You doctors truly do make terrible patients.”

John gave him a weak smile and nodded, wiping his palm against his jeans, brushing off the dirt. “Ta. We really do.” He let his grin broaden; its sincerity seemed to calm the Alpha.

He glanced at the fence and let himself give a dramatic sigh. “I’m sorry. I let him get away.”

“Hm. Well, we know who he is now. He didn’t have time to have set up adequate resources to successfully get out of the country. I’ll let Lestrade know.”

“Alright. Call a cab then?” John asked. Sherlock merely nodded, eyes directly fixed down at his phone, but peripherally, he also warily watched his Beta.

Worried.

 

Chapter Text

In his room, after a thorough and blissfully hot shower to scrub off the grime and rubbish he’d fallen into, John paced nervously, the throb in his abdomen driving him to distraction.

He’d taken his temperature, which was precisely normal. His heart rate was maybe a bit high, but he wrote that off as anxiety. The pulsing contractions were shorter in length now, but nowhere near in strength as the first couple. It was just irritating at this point. 

He came downstairs an hour later, the throb having died down just enough he didn’t wince or breathe heavily through them. Sherlock would notice any minute change in his breathing pattern or body language and he wasn’t in the mood for mother hen antics.

He found the Alpha at the sitting table, his—nope wait, that was John’s—laptop open, fingers briskly running along the keyboard with practiced ease.

He glanced up once, just a blink. “Alright?”

John nodded, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” He poured himself a cuppa, water in the kettle still hot. “What’re you reading?”

“I’m typing, clearly.”

Christ, I’m too tired for this. “What are you typing, then?” He bit out, dripping the last bit of milk in the container into his mug.

“Email to Lestrade. Too long to text.”

“You know, you could call. I hear sometimes people use mobiles to do such a thing.”

A smile quirked just at the edge of Sherlock’s mouth, but he continued his actions, facing the screen, but he silently watched his Beta move about the kitchen from the corner of his vision.

Sherlock could confess, only to himself, that what he felt could only be labeled as worry. He hadn’t felt that protective over John since the pool, the concern even overriding his desire to chase after their prey. The thought of John in any sort of pain caused the Alpha great distress. He was supposed to take care of what was his. He considered it a great failing if John was injured because of his own doing.

Something clinked heavily along with the sound of liquid spilling on the countertop, snapping Sherlock’s attention to it. John was hovered over the kitchen counter, arms out stretched and shoulders taunt, head bowed. Instantly, Sherlock was on alert. He scented the air frantically. His Beta, anxiety, spilled tea (black, skim milk) pain (abdomen, he’s favoring it again), fear (of?? The pain?)---

“John—?“ He shifted with the laptop, placing it on the tabletop.

John made a quick move to the hallway, hand pressed hard to his stomach. “I’m fine, just… I’m tired, please Sherlock, I’m alright.” He lurched his way to the staircase, heading back to his room.

The Alpha approached despite the Betas insistence. He made a swift move to be at John’s side—

The Beta spun sharply. Wheeling himself around to face Sherlock the Alpha felt a hard hand on his chest (angry, strong) that shoved him back. John leaned forward and wordlessly snarled at him.

Sherlock recoiled instantaneously, taking an uncharacteristically clumsy step backward, nearly tripping over his dressing gown.

“John!” He was so stunned; he couldn’t withhold the sharp, high intonation.

“Don’t touch me!” John hissed, hackles raised like an angry cat. Being two steps on the staircase, John held height over Sherlock. His hands were clenched and his posture hunched in a fighting position. The Alpha took another (slighty intimidated) step back.

“Alright.” He nodded, attempting to keep his tone soft and mild. He tried to swallow but his throat was bone dry.

He watched John turn his back to him, and bolt up the stairs, bedroom door slamming shut. Disoriented over what just transpired, he made his way back to the sitting table. He glanced at the cuppa John had spilled along the counter in his haste to retreat back to his room.

He’d done something wrong. Something terribly, appallingly wrong. John was angry, furious even and it was directed at Sherlock. He despised the sensation of John upset with him. It was unsettling, a hollow pit in his chest that pulsed like an open sore.

He could see John snapping at him because he was in pain, that he could understand. But something was creeping and spiraling in his mind, a sensation at failure. That he’d let John down.

In the passing months, they’d begun to be comfortable again around each other. The air wasn’t as torpid or oppressive. He wasn’t as adept at social cues as John, but even he could see the guarded way John held himself around Sherlock, all the while not rebuffing or (for the most part) complaining about his directions for cases.

John had daringly opened his heart, and the Alpha had clawed it closed. He knew he… cared, for John. He knew how difficult it must have been to admit to caring for something so unaffectionate, broken and (sometimes) amoral as Sherlock. But he had to reject him. It was for both their sakes, and he valiantly had to believe that John had understood that.

He’d learned to give John space when he was in a strop. That while his use of John’s laptop, books and medical equipment were frowned upon by the Beta, he was still allowed the usage. He didn’t tend to adhere to John’s cries of needing privacy. John’s closed door, on the other hand, was a clear message that he was not allowed entry. Even the Alpha acknowledged and could respect that.

He fiddled with a pen, feeling ridiculous and self-conscious, not knowing how to fix this. “Time heals all wounds”, he was told at a young age. For Sherlock it was an absurd concept. He had never met another who could match his impatience. He wanted it fixed, and he wanted it fixed now.

He edged his way into the kitchen, carefully plucking John’s toppled mug and placing it in the sink. Sweeping up the tea and milk with a rag, he grabbed the empty carton of milk and chucked it in the bin with a sharp movement.

His eyes widened. He stared at the bin. He went to the fridge, flinging it open. He searched. Cheese. Butter. Left over takeaway. No milk. John had just used the last of the milk.

He needed. He needed to get milk. Milk. Yes. John needed milk. John always used milk.

The urge was so abrupt, so sharp and so clear, the Alpha was appalled with himself that he hadn’t thought of it sooner.

He had to show John he was safe. That he was secure.

He had to show John he could provide.

He caught a look outside, it was dark and frigid, the December air jagged and crisp. Glancing at his watch he knew Tesco would still be open. Throwing on his coat and scarf, he pulled on his gloves and cautiously looked up the stairs, debating if he should alert John to his leaving, if only for a bit.

He decided against it. John was still angry with him. Better leave him alone. He quietly shut the door on his way out, but he found himself already half a block away before he remembered he forgot to lock the door. Turning, he jogged the ways back, pulling out keys. He slipped it into the lock and turned, ensuring John was secure.

He nodded at the door, pleased with himself, before heading back to the street.

 

Chapter Text

John rechecked his temperature, which had increased a few centigrades. He felt flushed, from his sudden anger or the pain he couldn’t track the reasons anymore. He shouldn’t have snapped at Sherlock, it was utterly unacceptable. The Alpha was only tending to him, but the sudden presence felt nearly overwhelming, coupled with the sharp pains, he’d lashed out unexpectantly.

He felt guilty immediately, like he always did when he did something unbecoming of a Beta assistant. Sherlock usually always gave him some leeway with his unorthodox approaches to assistant work, allowing him to dissent and argue, to give the Alpha a second opinion or to flat out call him out on something. But nearly physically assaulting him, was almost unforgiveable. In his room now, curled anxiously on his side he worked his thumb in circles along his belly. The sharp pains had dulled, but fluttered incessantly.

He brought his arm up and along his face, letting the crook rest across his eyes, blotting out the light from above. Inhaling deeply, he could almost scent where Sherlock had briefly held him in the stairway, before he’d growled at him to back off.

The Alpha's scent was rich, the smell starting to permeate the room. It was comforting, easing him to relax and the fluttering seemed to dull further, feather-light.

He started to doze, still fully clothed and only slightly twitching from pulsating cramps, when he heard the downstairs door fling open and slam.

Jolting, John rolled over to plant his feet on the floor. Someone had entered? Why? Who? How? Wasn’t the door locked? Why was someone in their territory? Why wasn’t the door locked!?

Immediately he heard steps on his stairs, skipping two at a time in a quick pace. Minutely he relaxed, berating himself. Sherlock, of course. Why had he suddenly felt so panicked, he was being stupid in his paranoia. He could only blame it on the exhaustion.

There was a sharp triple knock at the door, and John sighed heavily, glancing at his alarm clock. 11:49pm. Fuck, he was so tired.

“Come in.” He flinched as his own voice cracked, rubbing his palm against his eye.

Sherlock entered, dressed for the freezing temperature outside, he almost seemed to bring the frigid air in with him, as if it clung to his clothes. His eyes were bright, unusually active and John was immediately on alert.

“Case?” He asked, his heart rate elevating at the prospect of something important enough even Sherlock could look this excited.

The Alpha frowned. “What? No. Look!”

Sherlock’s cheekbones were slightly flushed, from the cold or (taking in the way his chest slightly heaved with his breaths) from him running down the block. He wiped his mouth with the back of his gloved hand, took a quick swallow and presented the carton to John. “I got the milk.” He stated (proudly?)

What the fuck? John merely stared, at the carton, back to Sherlock, back to the carton. “Uh—“

Sherlock took another step forward, motioning toward the milk, as if John wasn’t registering what was in his hand. “Milk. I got it. We have some now.”

John stared, wide eyed. “I uh… Good?”

Sherlock nodded, “Yes. You were angry. We were out. So I got it.”

“Sherlock, it’s nearly midnight.”

“I know,” Sherlock preened, smiling. “I caught them just before they closed.” Damn, that was pride.

“Why… Okay wait, is this like an emergency milk situation?” Sherlock had once taken the tube station at 3am to pick up cow eye balls at a butcher shop for an experiment that was time sensitive… But this felt different.

“I…” Sherlock hesitated, smile dropping in uncertainty. “But, I got it.” He repeated, as if that made all his strange, frantic actions explainable. As if John were being the strange one here. “It’s …for… you.” The Alpha continued, slightly pulling away, suddenly unsure.

What? Why on earth… “… Okay. Okay good.” John said slowly, eyes searching Sherlock’s for some kind of clue. “Fridge then, yeah? And… And thank you.” He added politely, confused.

Sherlock stared down at his hand, hesitating. His eyes seemed clearer. “I… Why would I do this?” He asked, almost to himself.

“Look,” John said resignedly. He needed to sleep and get away from the weirdness of today. “We’re both a little… off —“

“John, no.” The firm Alpha tone was back and Sherlock suddenly seemed sharper, eyes dark. “I… I ran out of this flat to acquire the milk for you—“

“You what!?” John barked out, astonished. The weirdness only compounded in John’s mind. “You never get the milk Sherlock. It’s midnight. Why the hell ---“

“I don’t know!” Sherlock suddenly roared. He tightened his hold around the carton and for a terrible moment John was certain he was going to throw it against the wall.

“I was in the kitchen and cleaned up your mess, which I never do either, and I saw we were out of milk and I knew I had to get some and I had to get it now so I went John, I went out and I got the milk and I came back here and I don’t know WHY.” The Alpha rushed out in such away in reminded John of his “Bluebell the rabbit” rant.

“Sherlock,” John eased up to the Alpha who stood vibrating nervous energy. “I—“

“Don’t John.” The Alpha warned at his approach.

“Sherlock shut up. I get it. Alright? I was in pain, I snapped at you, I need to apologize I…you were concerned and you did what you thought might help—“

“That’s not it John, this is different.”

“Different how? Please, explain it to me.” John asked desperately.

My actions are frightening him. Sherlock looked down at his hand in disgust, fingers so tight around the carton he felt he should be nervous the cardboard wouldn’t hold and it would crumple and spill in his grasp. The urge to provide faded, and it was only followed by significant, clear dread.

Courting. He was exhibiting courting behaviors. For John. For a Beta.

He was broken. Mycroft knew. His whole family knew. All the Alphas he’d ever known, all knew. At university he repelled them. Omegas rotated around him like he was a polarizing force. He could never court correctly. They were never pleased. They snapped at him constantly. They expected gifts. Praises. Attention. They felt entitled to them. And he was expected to court one successfully and to mate accordingly.

They were stupid and ungrateful. And to his own horror, he physically wanted (needed!) one but none would have him. So he had dulled himself with drugs, curbing his desire but only making it more terrifying and primal driven as an end result. He went cold turkey the day after he viciously self-harmed his own arm. He felt if he could overcome that, he could overcome anything, including biology.

None wanted him and he learned to close himself up. Suture that open part of himself tightly and tell Mycroft to piss the hell off when the topic was ever broached.

“You’ll die, Sherlock.” Mycroft had said the week of his 30th birthday. “Your mind will deteriorate and for you, I can’t imagine more worse a fate. There are Facilities. They can provide Omegas. Ones that will be obliged to mate with you. If you ever find yourself in the position of requiring one, please call me.”

That was six years ago, and at the time Sherlock had dismissed the warning with a sneer. He could be different. He was different. He would keep his mind sharp, build up a Mind Palace to store everything away so he’d never lose any of it. He wouldn’t go mad. That wasn’t his fate.

But here he stood, with a carton of milk for a Beta, every strand of DNA urging him to provide, protect and procreate with a person who couldn’t reciprocate.

He truly was broken. He was losing his mind.

Leaving a stunned John behind in his room, he found he couldn’t even bring himself to look at those bright, blue yet spooked eyes. He silently dropped the milk on John’s desk and moved down the stairs to his room, shutting his door, the weight of it seemed to crush him.

He needed to call Mycroft.


 

John stood frozen, watching the roiling emotions display on his flatmate’s face. It had gone from pleased and proud to horrified and disappointed in a blink of an eye. He had to convince himself he hadn’t imagined it all. Sherlock sagged slightly, dejected, leaving the milk and then hurriedly leaving John who stood prone, startled and confused.

There was no explanation, Sherlock hadn’t given a single, satisfactory answer to any of his questions. But watching his slumped form walk away, John couldn’t bring himself to pester. He’d simply watched. Something terrible had emerged, hurting Sherlock somehow, and John didn’t know what to do.

He glared at the carton with a snarl, as if this were all the milk’s stupid fault. He wasn’t going to put it away, it could sit there all damn night as far as he cared.

With more force than was necessary, he stalked over to the light switch and flicked it off. Toeing off his shoes he let himself fall into it in a dramatic heap.

He was hot. With each passing minute it felt like a degree was raised within his soul, a hard ripple coiled through him.

Sweat peppered his forehead, running salty lines down his neck, the pain heating him up. He whined hard into a pillow, frustrated at his exhaustion beyond belief.

This was utter misery.

He remembered the Afghan sun, beating down and warming the sand. Burdened down with backpacks and gear that weighed over six stone. Trudging through the desert without a breeze or shadow in sight. That, he thought, was misery.

But this terrible, sudden fever, coupled with the unknown quantity of why everything hurt and felt heated, was even worse.

He was suddenly truly scared, but so immobilized with that fright he couldn’t bring himself to call for help.

He flipped himself over on his back, tugging his sweat soaked shirt off and tossing it without looking to the foot of his bed. He’d only just taken a hot shower hours earlier but now all he wanted was a cooling bath.

Their flat was usually a chilly temperature, fixed along with the winter air outside he should in no way feel this warm unless his body was fighting off infection. He struggled to maintain thought, for the second time that day running through the mental directory of what could possibly be wrong with him.

He rolled desolately around in his bed, feeling wretched and sticky.

Sticky?

He reached with his hand, blindly groping himself in the dark. He ran a hand along his chest, abdomen, continuing downward to his thighs—

They were coated in thick slickness. It wasn’t sweat.

Jesus fuck. Blood. He was internally bleeding, how could he be so stupid, it made perfect sense. Somehow, he had injured himself, a myriad of possibilities of how this could have happened surging through his brain.

Finding himself a new source of adrenaline, he lurched toward to his nightstand, fumbling for the light.

He expected bright red, running wetly mixed sweat. He was mentally prepared for that, to grab his mobile and this time, he would call for help.

Instead by flicking on the light, all he saw was a viscous, clear fluid. It coated his hand, thin tendrils webbing his fingers with tacky strands. His thighs quivered, slicked with it. His breath hitched in his throat, staring at his hand in horror, like it wasn’t even apart of his body.

No.

Oh my God.

No no no no

Another surge of heat filled him, arching him off the bed. He managed to kill of the cry that wanted to crawl out of his throat, viciously clamping down the only thing he felt he could control at this point.

What was happening? Was this…

That was impossible, this wasn’t real, this was a nightmare.

Chapter Text

John found himself back in the shower for the third time in 24 hours, this time twisting the dial all the way to the left, ensuring freezing temperature. He scrubbing viciously, erasing the sweat off his arms and chest and ridding himself of the lubrication between his legs.

Lubrication, Jesus fuck.

What once was a shiver tumbled his body into an awkward tremor, wracking it with fear.

You’re fine John, you’re alright. Just breath. Just breath. One two three

But he was struggling. An anxiety attack creeping just between his lungs. That horrible sensation of being able to gather air in, but not being able to expel it out.

The iced water burned off his heated skin, the cloth in his hand rubbing it raw.

He was flaccid, and some dim, animal part of him informed him he shouldn’t be. That he was in Heat. That there should be sexual urges, an urgent need to-- that he need, he needed-

No. No. NO.

It was in his head. All in his head. This wasn’t a physical need, it couldn’t be a physical need.

The cramping had ceased all together, and he was fairly certain that whatever fluid was seeping from him had also discontinued, but it didn’t stop him from still scrubbing until he bled.


He hadn’t slept but for more than an hour or so. He awoke as he heard Sherlock in the living room, shuffling about. He eyed the now room temperature milk carton on his desk with contempt, but felt the obligation to take it downstairs to the fridge. His room was probably cold enough that it hadn’t already soured.

He had lain awake in his bed for hours after the shower. The heat, the pain, the fear—had all slowly ebbed away until he felt carved out and hollow, numb.

A phantom Heat. It had to have been.

He’d coined the term himself during the night, as he methodically ran down his rolodex of his symptoms alongside medical conditions.

During a presentation at medical school, he’d come to learn about phantom pregnancies. A Beta woman or male/female Omegas, so longing and desiring a child, could often conjure up physical symptoms of pregnancy. Sore nipples. Lactation. Distended stomach. Mood swings.

But a phantom Heat was new, unknown. But it was his only explanation.

His longing for Sherlock set off something in him, triggered something deep and primal. Christ, he was pathetic.

But it wasn’t real.

It was physically impossible for it to be real.

He dressed quickly and made his way downstairs, an angry butterfly battering around in his chest as he approached Sherlock, lying prone on the couch, eyes closed.

Oh, Mind Palace then? John hesitated. He needed to be unaffected, seem casual. He wondered if he should even speak—

“I brought the milk down.” He announced loudly. Oh fucking brilliant John.

The Alpha popped an eye open to glare at him, at the milk, and back to John, before closing it. “Mm.” Is all he said.

He made his way into the kitchen, filling the kettle and placing it on the stove. He paced.

Sherlock had retreated again from him, and he seemed more distant than the day after their first (only) night together. Anytime the Alpha displayed any sincere emotion and took a step forward, something would seize him, pulling him back another two. Sherlock was always so guarded, so protective of himself and what was his, as if he expected his ‘stuff’ (John included) to suddenly run away from him in fright.

And the milk. What the hell was that all about? Even John could see it wasn’t about milk, that it was Sherlock’s own odd attempt at comforting him, to show he could provi—

Oh. Oh.

Fuck.

John pulled the kettle off the stove before it had even whistled, not in the mood for tea anymore.

“Sherlock?” He called softly, risking a glance to the couch.

“Mm.”

“Can you do something for me?”

Sherlock opened his eyes, lifting his head off the pillow to look at his flatmate across the room, wary.

John sighed and motioned impatiently. “Please? Come here.”

With a lazy, cautious movement the Alpha stood, dressing gown haphazardly clinging off him.

“Do I seem… different?” John asked, keeping his head low, but forcing his eyes into Sherlock’s gaze.

The Alpha scowled, not comprehending. “Pardon?”

“I just…” He dropped his eyes down, brushing his hand across the countertop, feeling silly and nervous. “Can you scent me and tell me if I’m… If there’s something wrong with me.”

“What would be wrong with you? Do you feel ill? The pain is gone, is it not?” The detective asked, crossing his arms, his tone exasperated.

The intonation made John wince. “Forget it. I’m fine, just---“ He took a step back, humiliated.

“No.” The Alpha responded quickly, tone softer. “The answer is no, your scent is fine. Same as always. No infection, no illness… What were you expecting?”

“I don’t know… Just—making sure.” John bit his lip. “I feel better.” He added lamely.

“That’s good, isn't it?” The Alpha asked tonelessly, turning and making his way back the couch.

John nodded. “Yeah, yeah it is…” he let it drift off.

“Good. Then be quiet. I’m categorizing samples by periodic indexes.” He flung himself back on the couch, closing his eyes and reconnected himself with his Mind Palace.

John sighed.

Back to square one.


 John could say he felt normal again, but he hadn’t ever felt so disconnected from Sherlock. The man was still the same. He was impatient and impulsive. He dominated crime scenes. Berated Anderson. Made Lestrade throw his hands up. Caught the kitchen towel on fire with a failed experiment.

And John still found himself gagging at body parts in the fridge next to his leftovers. Stacking strewn books and papers the Alpha left in his wake. Blogging as he always did, letting the world know how brilliant his flatmate was.

And while he was brilliant and seemingly normal (normal for Sherlock, that was) John still found himself lonely, depressed and deeply concerned.

Sherlock wasn’t being flippant when he stated he could go for days without talking, but instead of at least not talking in John’s presence out in the living room, he more often than not locked himself up his room for days, ignoring John completely.

John pushed the memory of his phantom Heat aside, for once wishing he could delete something like Sherlock and have the recollection cease all together. He searched online for some semblance of understanding, but the all-knowing Internet came up with nothing.

He missed Sherlock. He missed his best friend. But they wouldn’t (couldn’t shouldn’t) talk about these things anymore, it only seemed to strain them further apart. So he continued the best he could, but he felt like a drone.

He was trying to forget, trying to move on and maybe he could, with time.

Then on a Tuesday in March, a day before Sherlock's Rut, it all went to hell.


They were brought on by Lestrade for a kidnapping case, normally not something they tasked upon themselves as Sherlock’s (surprisingly) practical viewpoint on the subject was just to give them the damn money.

But this was different. This was a child, a young Omega girl not even five, taken by an Alpha with a murderous appetite.

Sherlock had found the building, Lestrade had found the suspect, and John had found the girl.

A cut above her watery green eye weeping a line of blood. She was streaked with dirt and cuts. She was crying, hiccupping and mewling pathetically.

The cramp hit John like a punch to the gut.

ProtectProtectProtect!

The girl flung herself to John. Soft, puppy fat arms wrapped around his neck, burying her nose under his jacket, nosing the crook of his neck.

Lestrade rushed up the stairs, fumbling to holster his gun, a grateful smile on his face when John growled at him, gripping the girl in his arms tightly.

The smile dropped immediately from the Alpha Inspector, confusion evident. “John, what—“

“I said stay BACK!” He snarled, the girl in his arms tightening her hold on him.

Lestrade put his arms up, palms facing John, placating. “Alright, alright John. Easy now—“

John took a stumbled, frantic step away, eyes searching for an exit, but the Alpha before him blocked the only way.

PupProtect.AlphaDanger.

“John, John look at me. Good, --listen,” Lestrade took another unasked step back, a sign of good faith. “She needs medical attention. I’m not going to harm her. We need to get her to the ambulance, back to her family yeah?”

“I need—“ John’s chest heaved, near hyperventilation. The girl let out another sniffle, scenting him quietly. “I need to protect her.”

“I know mate, I know. You did, she’s safe now.” The Alpha took a cautious step forward. The girl tensed. “How long have you been off your medication?” He asked gently. He shifted again, closer now.

John blinked rapidly at the question, his mind clearing. “W-what?” He felt his hold loosen.

“It’s alright, it’s normal, listen—“ Loud commotion caught them both off guard, just down the bottom of the stairs.

“Inspector!? Do you have her!?” A voice called, muffled by the wood of the stairwell. Donovan?

Another Alpha.

NoNoNoNo

“Yes.” Lestrade called back down, the pinnacle of calm. “Just a moment, I’m coming down now.” He reached out his arms. “John,” he said gently, voice lowered. “It’s me. It’s Greg. It’s alright. C’mon now.”

John stood frozen, feeling the all too familiar tremor of fear start to hedge its way through him. Oh God, what as he doing? He looked down at the shivering girl, a pit dropping in his stomach.

It felt like ripping away a piece of his soul, as he unclasped the girl’s hand from his shoulder. She cried out to him, tears spilling as he handed her over to the Alpha. She surged against Lestrade, hands clenching uselessly at the air at John.

I’m sorry I’m sorry it’s alright hush now it’s okay

Lestrade turned and carried down the crying girl, leaving John to sag to the floor, stunned with himself.

He’d never in his life felt something so visceral, so wholly feral.

What the fuck. Just what the fuck is happening to me.


 

He let a few quiet minutes pass, before he pulled him up. His jeans were marred with old dust and grease from the dilapidated building. On shaking legs he made his way down the steps, half expecting Lestrade to have someone cuff him.

Instead he was met Sherlock, his navy scar undone, he gripped it in his hand. His eyes ran over John, lingering around his neck.

“Blood?” He asked, scenting John nervously.

John cleared his throat. “Not mine.” He looked away from Sherlock, feeling if he looked into those near colorless, perceptive eyes Sherlock would know. Know what, he didn’t yet understand, but he felt this was something he had to keep private. He felt scared and yet… he looked down at his hand, steady as a rock.

“The girl?”

“Safe,” John continued, setting up pace toward the road. “Lestrade took her. Cab this way?” His voice was deceptively casual.

“Are you alright?”

“Of course I’m alright,” came the automatic reply, a little too quick. John bit his lip, tense.

“John,” Sherlock reached out, gripping the crook of his elbow, stopping his stride and turning him. John followed his lead, keeping his eyes lowered. “When we get back to the flat, I need to—We need to conduct a discussion.”

John had a sinking feeling this was a Sherlock version of “we need to talk”. His heart brisked up in his chest. Now? Sherlock needed to do this to him now?

“Alright,” He nodded calmly, careful not to belie his nervousness. “Fine. Good. Let’s get on with it then.”

The cab ride was terribly, oppressively silent. Sherlock nervously wound and unwound wound and unwound his scarf around his hands. Ordinarily, John would have barked at him to knock it off, but he couldn’t find the energy to care.

As they entered Baker Street, John instinctively locked the door behind him. Walking up the steps following Sherlock he felt like he was being led up to his execution.

Later, in hindsight, he felt perhaps that would have been kinder.


“A what!?” John cried out in surprise, staring at the detective in shock.

Sherlock ducked his head in a heavy sigh, “I asked you not to get upset--”

“Well fuck you! I didn’t agree--”

“’We aren’t a couple’ isn’t that what you always say?” Sherlock interrupted. “We aren’t John. We can't be. This is incredibly difficult to me. It’s a biological imperative—“

“What, to go to a fucking whore house?!” John snarled, he paced. Something inside him was hackled, spitting with mindless fury. He had no right, he had no right and yet he was reeling with hurt and anger and—

“It’s a Facility. Please just listen. It will mean nothing. Doesn’t that make it better?” Sherlock asked, clueless as how to calm John down. He knew how to make a man listen but how do you make a man understand?

“Surprisingly, no! Sherlock, it doesn’t make it fucking better!”

He’s leaving you you failed you failed you failed

“Mycroft is coming. Tomorrow is the six month stage and I can’t.. I can’t be here with you.”

Keep him, show him, present to him

John did the only thing he had left. The only thing instinct was screaming at him to do. Desperately, he threw himself down on his knees, pulling his chin up and to the left, baring his jugular to the Alpha before him.

His chest heaved. Huge, whooping breaths in beat with his stricken anxiety that pulsed just above the surface. Sherlock stood immobilized. With his head turned away, John had no sense of what his expression held, aside from shock which cackled in the stilled air.

Every submissive instinct in his body throbbed, raising hairs along his nape.

Please Alpha, please please please understand... Please see ...

Sherlock lunged. A sudden sharp movement that had John spooked but there wasn't time to flinch as the Alpha gripped him by his coat collar, hauling him up--Angry, he's so angry-- and backing him up to the wall and slamming him, hard, against the mantle. The skull teetered from the impact.  

"Do not make a mockery of this," The Alpha snarled, his patience had flown out the window. He towered over John, his height even more exaggerated by John's suddenly shirked form, his body curling away to protect itself.

"What is this John, a game to you?! Contemptuous persiflage and imitations cannot fool biology. If you think I hadn’t tried, you are wrong. I will not... I cannot be bonded to a Beta, John. It will drive me mad. It will kill me. Do not tempt me! Your false actions may vex the Alpha but it will realize and it will get you killed." With another shove for added effect, he released John, whose knees nearly buckled, but he held himself frozen.

Adrenaline ran through Sherlock's veins, vibrating throughout his system. The urge to strike and snarl wildly at the air was nearly overwhelming. John stood before him fixed to the spot, eyes down, fingers gripping the mantle. Sherlock was brought back quickly to that night, when John couldn't bring himself to make eye contact, for fear of challenging him in his Rut state. All the more reason he needed to follow through with this.

He gave a sharp brush of his hand down the length of his coat, smoothing down the heavy fabric and grounding himself. He forced even breaths of air. "John," he started, gently. It was difficult. The words wanted to tumble out as a growl. "Everything has been a terrible mistake. All of this-- I-- This is for the best. It's two days. Two days and I'll be sated, the urge will be quelled and things can go back to how they were."

John lifted his eyes ever so, but not bringing himself to make the direct contact. "How they were." He repeated back, monotone.

Sherlock nodded, rolling his shoulders in an attempt to relax them. "Yes. I--if something were to happen, if I were to harm you again like I did..." The words caught in his throat, the very thought sickening him.

"You didn't harm me, Sherlock," John said with a quiet voice, but fierce tone. "I told you that I--"

The chime on the door caught them both unawares, jolting them minutely in their skin.

A single ring, a quarter second of a hold. Mycroft.

The front was locked. John had already made sure of that. The fact that Mycroft or his assistants weren't going to barge into their territory and abscond with Sherlock was the only thing that kept him from flinging himself at the Alpha and snarling at the door. But his pulse raced tightly in his throat, his blood supply dropping to his feet, the anxiety dizzying him.

He felt crazed. Divided. His body was warring and he was terrified, didn't Sherlock see? Sherlock saw everything, noticed everything, deduced everything. Did John really matter so little that he didn't deserve a glance? Just one glance, one real look into his eyes and Sherlock would see, Sherlock would notice. But he was near shivering in fear, unable to look into those sea-glass eyes. What's wrong with me?

Sherlock reached over to the counter, gripping a smoke gray dufflebag. He took a step toward the stairway.

John collapsed. Legs buckling under him, he couldn't even find the will to attempt to catch himself. His head dropped, chin against his chest. Yours. You said I was yours. You failed John. You failed and he's leaving. Leaving to another. That small, tentative creature whispered to him. He found the strength to lift his left hand, tips of his fingers brushing his neck along a slightly faded, raised white line of scar.

He marked you. Doesn't he remember? Doesn't that matter? It should but it doesn't. You failed. He needs an Omega and what are you John? What are you??

"John, stop. Stop it!" Sherlock was suddenly against him, bag dropped, on his own knees, yanking John's hand away from his neck. His nails were bloodied. He'd clawed himself. He hadn't even noticed.

The door chimed again. Two presses. Impatient.

"Shut! Up! I'm coming!" Sherlock barked down the hallway, hand tightening around John's wrist.

"Something is terribly wrong with me, Sherlock." John twisted his hand so he could hold Sherlock's. "I think I’m ..." The Alpha tugged away from him and the words died in John's throat. He felt the small being in his heart whine. He released Sherlock, and the Alpha pulled further back. Help me, please help me something is wrong, figure it out, please for me just for me Sherlock please.

"Nothing," Sherlock whispered fiercely, but still maintained his distance. "--is wrong with you. It's me. I'm doing this to you. You're hurting because of me, and that is why I need to leave."

"Please don't. Please Sherlock. I'll---You stay here, stay in your room. Please. I'll .. I'll go. I'll stay at Harry's, or a hotel or... You won't harm me, nothing will happen just please--" He broke off.

Please don't be with another. Please Sherlock. Please. You marked me it’s wrong to be with another it’s just WRONG

"I'd find you. Things don't feel... right, if you aren't beside me. I need to have my--," He motioned around the flat, then dropped his hand suddenly, a defeated expression on his face. "I need to go, John." He pushed himself off the floor, standing.

John remained still. "Please." It was the only thing he could say. What else was there?

Sherlock hesitated above him, before he outstretched his hand and carded it through John's blonde hair. Slim, soothing fingers running along his heated scalp. John closed his eyes. The Alpha snatched his hand away, as if burned. He took a step away. "Two days." He said quietly. "I promise. I'll be back in two days."

It was easier, so much easier, when Sherlock was cruel. Heartless. When he was snapping and succinct. It was easier to detach, to be able to growl back and be angry, furious even. To be driven by frustration and fear. But this? This gentle voice and soft touch? It was even more cruel. It was devastating. It was more than he could bear.

John could only barely nod once, crumpled on the floor, as Sherlock silently made his way down the steps. The door unlocked and quietly clicked shut. Keys jingled. The Alpha locked the door behind him. John didn't stir as he heard a car door open and shut, the vehicle pulling away from the curb.

Chapter Text

The next day John didn’t leave the flat. After Sherlock’s departure to the Facility he’d managed to find his way to his Alpha’s bedroom and bury himself in the sheets. It wasn’t enough, not nearly. The sheets had been recently laundered, bleached pillows and linen scented comforters. Hardly any Alpha scent lay trapped between the layers and something in him whined in distress.

An internal shiver continuously ran through him, spiking his fear and making his stomach ache in protest. He was making himself sick and as a doctor he felt ashamed at his lack of care over himself. The stubborn, lonely part of him wanted to wallow. To cry and despair in a dark bedroom. To punish himself over his failure by not eating or drinking or sleeping. He deserved to be sick, he was sick. Something was horribly wrong with his body and his mind. But he could hardly find the motivation to breath, let alone care.

Then there was the second part of him that was pure, rabid rage.

Academically, he knew why Sherlock had left. He could understand the logic, the fear, and the need. He’d left because he felt he his company was harming his Beta. That John was cracking up over the constant presence of an Alpha so overwhelmed with need to bond that John was, how did the Alpha put it? Imitating, an Omega? He’d convinced himself that John had gone mad and that he was at fault.

He could follow the reason. A past John would have nodded, agreed. The helpful Beta. Yes, perhaps Mycroft is right Sherlock, maybe a Facility will help. Maybe a Rut spent with an Omega will ease you. I wouldn’t want you to suffer.

But viscerally, the temptation to hunt his Alpha down and rip apart the whore Omega under him had his vision going stark red.

The knowledge that his Alpha was with another, that his Alpha had willingly left John, caused a siege of emotions between failure and fucking fury.

To John, it felt like Sherlock's actions were a sin.

And to his limited knowledge on the subject, only an Omega would feel this strongly about an Alpha.

He stretched out his body along Sherlock’s bed, fisting sheets desperately and bringing them to his face, inhaling deeply to catch any scent trail, but there was nothing. He felt stupid. So utterly stupid. Beta’s couldn’t scent… But at times he was so convinced he could smell Sherlock. Not just body order, or cologne, or soap… Something deeper, moon burned, primitive and spiced.

Something luscious and longing and beautiful.

John flung the sheets off him in frustrated disgust.

Enough.

Maybe he was mad. Maybe Sherlock was right. Maybe his longing for his flatmate had caused something inside him to crack. Maybe this was all entirely in his head.

He had to know.

He had another day before Sherlock returned.

Taking advantage of his sudden motivation, he showered and changed, ate a quick handful of biscuits to ramp up his blood sugar and settled himself in Sherlock’s makeshift lab in the kitchen.

A blood sample.

Then he’d know for sure. He would read the results himself. He would see the readout with his Beta DNA markers, and would get rid of this absolutely insane fear he was… was changing and he would know. And this madness could end.

With careful medical precision, he swabbed the alcohol-soaked cotton ball across his skin and tied the tourniquet just above the puncture site, inserting the needle.

Palming the small tube of his blood carefully, he flicked through his phone until he settled onto a contact, and dialed.


The obliging Beta Molly Hooper gave him a lopsided grin when he entered her lab space, gingered hair pulled back into a messy bun instead of her trademark ponytail. She looked tired (there was a yawn wanting to work at her jaw), and checking the time John knew he was catching her right at the end of her shift. But after his phone call to her asking for assistance, she’d happily agreed to meet with him.

“That the sample there?” She asked shyly, eyeing the tube he’d brought out. He nodded and carefully laid it into her outstretched palm.

“It’s a confidential case,” he started. “I can’t go into details but, just know it’s important. It would be helpful if you could get results to me as soon as possible.”

She nodded, carefully settling the tube into the holder. “Right well, marker checks take less than an hour. Did you want to wait or I can text the results to you or Sher-“

“No, just me. I –I can wait. Sherlock isn’t… He’s out.” John said, his tone mild.

She gave him a knowing, poignant smile. “Ah yes… That time of the year, is it?”

John’s eyes widened considerably, surprised. “How did—“

She waved him off with her hand, ducking her head, suddenly bashful. “I… I notice things.” She smiled gingerly. “I’ll call you in about 45 minutes.”


The waiting was tedious, time crawling by as if were crippled. He paced outside the hallway, before heading his way up to the cafeteria, settling on the lounge area adjacent to a café cart.

He noticed a couple (female Beta, male Alpha-- some muted piece of him noted) ordering coffees (black with room) laughing together at their own private joke as the Beta poured the milk into her paper cup.

The entire observation (Beta, Alpha, laughing, milk) left him feeling something he could only name as heartsickness.

John forced his head to look away.

He kept to himself in the corner, pretending to thumb through emails or text when he felt someone’s eyes lingering on him too long. He could feel prickles of sweat forming at the nape of his hairline. Anxiety and paranoia creeping up on him like light rain on a windowsill, slowly gathering. He felt like every eye in the room was on him.

His phone buzzed.

Glancing at the time, he noticed over 90 minutes had passed.

Frowning, he answered quickly, already standing and making his way to the elevator. “Yeah, Molly?”

“John, hi. I’m so sorry that took so long and just… Well, I have your results, are… are you still here?”

“Yeah, yeah,” He pressed the elevator button several times restlessly. “Coming to you now.”

“Good… John, you aren’t going to believe this.”

Entering the elevator with immense trepidation, he had a sense he would.


The tiredness he observed on Molly when he first came into her section of the lab was wiped clean, replaced only with what he could call excitement.

“John!” She motioned enthusiastically. “You need to see this.” She held out two sheets of readouts. “I’ve never seen anything like this!” She continued, smoothing down the papers flat on the table.

He settled himself above them, taking a deep slow breath, before turning to her, attempting to keep his eyes soft and curious.

“Oh? What have you got then? It’s been a long while since I’ve taken any genetics classes” He admitted.

“Okay so.” She reached for the first page. “This was the first series I ran with part of your sample. It only took 40 minutes but when I read it, I thought I might have made a mistake. You know, they tend to happen.”

“Why um,” He hesitated. “… Did you think that?”

“Because this result isn’t possible John.” She pointed to the first piece of the sequence. “See this? These squares indicate Beta strings of DNA, and see how they follow along up until the 53rd point? Well, these long, oval shapes?” She indicated the latter part. “These are strictly Omega strings.”

John could feel the horrendous, powerful tremor in his left leg begin, but he kept his stance rigid.

She continued, “So I thought, ‘oh okay, I must have mixed up samples, silly me’, you know? So I used up the rest of your sample and this time I took a bit more time, making sure I dialed it all in correctly and the temperature precise. And look,” She smoothed the second page on top of the first. “The same results, BUT—Look at this, instead of it ending at the 53rd point, it’s now at the 52nd. Within less than an hour, John, these Omega genes took up another whole point. These results,” she stared at them, bewildered. “These results are impossible and yet…” She drifted off, shaking her head in disbelief.

His head was spinning, teetering and weakening him with white sickness. He could only nod, body taunt like a bowstring.

Molly didn’t even notice, instead shuffling and staring at the papers before her. “Whatever your case is about, I’d really like to study this person. I mean, you could publish an entire paper on this sequence! Do you think it would be alright if after the case I could —John?”

He lurched over, scrambling. He nearly missed, but managed to throw up the entire contents of his stomach into the nearest bin.

“John!, oh my gosh—“ Startled, Molly jumped off her stool, white coat fluttering as she rushed to him. “John, are you okay?”

Spitting twice into the bin he attempted a nod but his entire body was frozen.

He felt her small, careful hands on his back. “Oh no… Oh John…”

Finding the strength mainly based from flaring panic, he wiped his mouth with his forearm and stood, keeping his back to Molly.

“I’ll take the results then,” he said quickly, knowing his voice sounded high with stress but still having this absurd desire to be polite. Swiping the papers from the table he stuffed them into coat his pocket, crumbled.

“John—“

“I need to go, thank you for the –“

“John!” Molly’s arm was on him and he felt a violent urge to lash out, but the sudden strike of BetaAllyNeutralBetaAlly caused the impulse to drop hard like a stone from his mind.

“I won’t tell anyone.” She said quickly, as if time was of the essence, pulling back from him slightly. “John, you can trust me I wouldn’t… Forget the paper, I didn’t know just—Talk to me? Are you okay?” Her voice was so damn motherly, the lump in John’s throat began to threaten tears.

“What…” he began softly, his breath hitching tightly. She leaned forward, hand outstretched like she wanted to touch him again, but she was respectful. “What do I do?” His chest tightened again, threatening hyperventilation.

The young Beta gave him a gentle, comforting smile. “Right now? You breathe John. Can you do that? Just breathe.”

One two three

He nodded.

He could do that.


He laid it all bare for her, words frantic and tumbling and amazingly, blissfully cathartic. He glossed over the more explicit details and the points he did cover, he used clinical and medical terms, finding it easier to detach himself while using them. Like he was describing a 3rd party patient to a colleague.

Molly asked no questions, only sitting across from him and nodding on occasion to encourage him when he struggled on a difficult part to explain. When he fell silent, she waited until he could properly gather his thoughts to continue.

When he got to the moment when he explained his sudden emotional connection to the Omega girl, her eyes swam strangely with tears and he stopped himself, watching her.

He sighed, “I didn’t mean to upset you…”

“No no,” she said hurried, using the tips of her fingers to wipe the bottoms of her eyes. “It’s just… That must have been so difficult.”

“Lestrade he… He mentioned medication. Asking if I was, if I had stopped taking them…” He looked down at his hands as he spoke.

She nodded, “Yeah, suppressants. They masked pheromones and stall hormonal influxes. Based on your protective reaction he… Well, that would be a conclusion an Alpha would make.”

John just nodded mutely, his rambling desire to talk suddenly slashed apart. He felt a little bit too raw, too open. He wanted to bury himself and hide.

“There might be… a way to reverse it.”

He tensed, alert. “How?”

“I read once, about a gene therapy experiment,” She started, and immediately he focused in on her words. “They uh, I mean it was years ago, but they took a Beta male in Russia to try and work his genetic code to enable Alphic traits.”

“And?”

“Well, it worked….”

“But?” He urged harder.

She bit her lip, “It killed him right after.”

Oh.

“But it was years ago, I mean decades. Maybe they’ve refined it since then?”

“Wouldn’t we have heard something about that?” He asked the Beta, and she shrugged weakly in response, not meeting his eyes.

He leaned to the side, back stiff from their prolonged sitting on the wide, plastic chairs.

“I don’t know how to explain this.” He brushed his fingers along his pocket, feeling the wadded up papers. “I’m a doctor and I just… I don’t even know.”

“Well, to be fair to yourself they don’t teach us Betas much about Omegology. Maybe… maybe it just is, John. Maybe just, being around an unbonded Alpha for so long, for you, your specific sequence, triggered something latent.” She sighed. “It would need additional testing to be sure. We can test for DNA merging, fluid transfers…”

Without thought, he touched the scar on his neck. He shook his head, “No. I’m not … I can’t, not right now.” Skimming his eyes up to the mounted wall clock, he stood, giving himself a much needed stretch. “It’s late. We should… I need to head home.”

She nodded, standing alongside him. “Okay, sure. Just… please call me if you need something. Even just to talk. I can’t imagine going through what you’re going through and feeling like I had no one to talk to. It would be just… scary.”

He attempted a confident smile, but knew she saw right through it, because Damnit, he was scared. “Hey, we’ll figure it out later. I appreciate all your help Molly. Sincerely.”

The Beta smiled. “Of course. I’m here to assist you.”


It was at 8:12am when Sherlock came home.

John was still in his bed. Not knowing what time the Alpha was coming home he was too spooked to risk being found by Sherlock buried under the Alpha’s sheets.

But 8:12am was much, much too early for the Alpha to be back. It felt too soon. Something felt wrong.

He’d be lying if he didn’t try and smell Sherlock, trying to catch his scent in the air, hoping enough of it came up from the downstairs to him.

Wildly, he wanted to know who had touched the Alpha, if John’s own scent was still on him or if the Omega from the Facility had seeped into his pores and glands, replacing him. He gripped his pillow harder to his chest and attempted, but scented nothing.

He had no right to be angry. He couldn’t be angry. He wasn’t going to snarl with jealousy or hurt.

But it still simmered just beneath the surface.

The door opened and shut quietly. Keys jingled, but John’s strained hearing did not hear the familiar click of the deadbolt.

Sherlock hadn’t locked the door behind him.

Wrong.

Anxious didn’t even begin to cover it. His heart beat wetly against his upper ribcage, high and hard.

He strained to listen, to track the detective’s movements through the floorboards. He even held his breath, but it was like Sherlock was a ghost, gliding silently. The only way John even knew he made it to his room was the gentle snap of his door closing.

He hadn’t expected Sherlock to come up here. Maybe not at first. Maybe not for a few hours. He hoped it wasn’t days. But even if it were, he could wait. While Sherlock had zero tolerance for patience, John had developed his over the course of years, staying in a camouflage net, lying prone and hidden for hours while enemy insurgents trailed by them, unaware.

He could wait for Sherlock to be ready to come to him. He would wait.

John only lasted an hour, before the worry amplified and the instinct to nurture overrode. He found himself in the living room, a bottle of water and a biscuit on a tray.

Carefully, with a swoop as silent as breeze, he placed the tray at Sherlock’s door.

He knew the Alpha would hear it.

He knew Sherlock would know what it was.

A peace offering. Sherlock, please take it. Please Alpha.

Nine hours later, the tray was untouched.

WrongWrongWrong

Something was horribly wrong. John’s heart ached.

Up in his room, he held the test results in his hand, smoothing out the crumbled corners and lines he had previously made. His eyes went back and forth, following markers along the sequence printout. Folding them carefully, he tucked the pages into his jean pocket.

Beta and Omega. Omega and Beta.

And the Omega was winning.

John closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, before snapping them open with a fierce growl.

Enough.

He couldn’t be afraid anymore.

His Alpha needed him.

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock Holmes was only the precocious age of 5 when he suspected himself different than others.

While the Alpha boys his age giggled in mud puddles and collected stick bugs in the weeds, he found his interest captured to the many spine-broken, well-used novels and schoolbooks his elder brother fastidiously collected.

He was fascinated. Pulling the books out he spread them open like leaves in the fall, scattering them about the den office 8, 9, sometimes 10 at a time, skipping between book to book, reading of psychology now forensics, now political science, back to psychology, multitasking and comprehending between them all at once.

“Sherlock!” Mycroft, dropped his book bag, irritation palpable. “You can’t just—Stop playing with these, these aren’t toys.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and gave a heavy puppy sigh. “I’m not playing, I’m reading.” He stated matter of factly, turning a page in practical defiance.

“Oh really,” his Alpha brother said with a heavy, unconvinced sigh. “These—Sherlock these were organized by the Dewey system I don’t have time to put these back, exams are tomorrow I just—“ His brother rubbed his forehead in another Sherlock-induced headache.

“I can do it.” He reached, gathering up the books, shutting their covers. Feeling Mycroft’s eyes on him and sensing an urgent need to impress, he quickly checked their spines for the decimals and shifted books, pushing them into their slots on the bookcase. He nodded his head once at them, pleased, before returning to his brother, sitting at the study desk.

Mycroft sighed again, heavier. “Sherlock, boys your age don’t read those level texts, or know of the decimal system.”

“What do boys my age do then?” He asked, genuinely curious.

“They play. They make friends.”

“You don’t do that,” he crossed his arms, obstinate.

“Well brother, I’m a bit different.”

“Perhaps I’m different too.”

Mycroft had lingered on him before turning away, a look in his eye Sherlock’s 5-year-old mind could only express as sad. 

 


 “It’s not normal,” he heard Mummy once whisper to Mycroft in the kitchen when he was 9. “His concentration is everywhere and nowhere all at once. He was written up again for making another instructor weep. Saying her mate was unfaithful and leaving for Australia. How can a child know such things?” his mother was upset, and Sherlock found his chest hurt.

“I don’t know Mummy,” came Mycroft’s (unusually) soft response. “I met the woman once, I too noticed—“

“But you always had enough sense not to say it,” she hissed. “He cares for nothing, cherishes nothing. Something’s not right. He’s-he’s broken. ”

To his horror, his brother said nothing in reply.

 


At 13 while other Alphas in his class began losing their puppy fat, bulking with strength and beginning to bristle with awakened aggression, Sherlock only grew tall, lanky with subtle, lean muscle.

They joined sports teams and fought in the courtyard, (snapping, snarling, drawing blood)-- while Sherlock withdrew to a willow tree outside the private gates, books scattered about like when he was 5, absorbing everything he could.

“You need to learn to socialize and court, Sherlock. What is your possession? You haven’t claimed anything. Aren’t you paying attention in your classes?” Mycroft had asked him on break during his university years.

Sherlock scoffed, affronted. “I am getting excellent marks in the ones that are important. Why does the rest matter?”

“It does matter, Sherlock. When the time is--”

“Alright, when?” He snapped, impatient.

“You’ll find out soon enough.”

 


At 18, entering his first year at university, he found out.

He watched other single Alphas begin to fall apart at their unsuccessful courting. They would come to class, their arms bite riddled from their own aggressive, uncontrolled acts of self-harm. They would cry and howl at night down the halls and Sherlock just shook his head, disgusted.

That would never be his fate. He would never lose himself, wallow or cry.

But then it began to percolate in his soul. A strange, hollow and ghastly lonely feeling he hadn’t felt since he was so very, very young. He attempted to shutter it, slam the shields down that he had perfected over the years but being surrounded, the walls were soon breached. He watched mated pairs nip and scent, holding each other in the halls and when once he had rolled his eyes and sneered, he found that he ached.

He ached for something lovely in his arms.

A day after his 20th birthday, it came in the form of a violin.

It was imported. Antique-style varnish streaked along maple and spruce. It was dry aged for a decade, the moisture of the wood long since dehydrated. It had dried to perfection to ensure the cleanest, apex of sound.

At the time he hadn’t appreciated it, instead looking at his brother like he were utterly mad.

“Why would you get me such a thing Mycroft?” he had asked, incredulous, staring at the case. “I don’t even play--”

“You could learn.” Came the quick response, Mycroft watching with what Sherlock would call amusement.

“I am hardly artistic,” he snarled, but finding his hand drawn the long, sturdy bow.

“And here I thought you were a quick study,” Mycroft quipped, eyes narrowed. “You possess nothing you care for Sherlock. An Alpha needs to learn to protect and treasure something. This is custom,” he motioned toward the instrument.

“No one else but its maker has touched it. It’s only yours. It’s unique. It was made just for you.”

 


And it was with a terrible type of wonder; he found it exquisite in his arms. Within six months, he was playing at an advanced level. He only dared to play when he knew he was alone, windows shut tightly, doors firmly locked, with his music stand in the corner. The music was for him and him alone, the idea of others having it made him needle with possessiveness.

He cherished something; the Alpha rankling at the idea of ever being forced to part with it. He began to hope that even if he were broken, he could be repaired.

So he attempted to court. Delving into his mind to surge up past classes and sessions on the subject. He approached, he scented, he touched and smiled. They responded in kind immediately, Omegas finding attraction in his height, his Holmes name and school ranking.

“So what are you studying to be?” A dark haired underclassmen had asked him once, brushing his hair and smoothing a palm down his neck. Self-grooming, Sherlock noted, he finds me attractive and the Alpha in him silently crowed.

“Currently studying forensic pathology, biology possibly psychology. I am thinking detective work,” he stated, forcing himself to maintain eye contact.

“Like a policeman?”

“Oh no, not at all.” The idea made him grimace. “Too many rules. I am thinking consulting work. I’m quite good,” he ended, pleased at his modesty.

“Does it pay well?” The Omega asked, head tilted in a child-like manner.

“Does it—well,” Sherlock stumbled, slightly at a loss. “I’m not sure. I hadn’t thought about that.” It’s what he wanted to do, what did the money matter?

“Oh. How would you support an Omega?”

“They’d get a job, surely.” Sherlock frowned. What was he missing?

The Omega shook his head, as if Sherlock were being ridiculous. “I’m leaving.”

Sherlock reached out in sudden, unexplained anxiety and the man whirled and snapped. A suddenly clear indication Sherlock was no longer welcome left the Alpha dejected and utterly confused.

 


And he found it happening again. And again. And again.

 


“Why are they even at university?” He growled to Mycroft on Christmas Eve, sweeping another flute of champagne and downing it quickly, willing the hazy numbness that accompanied it.

“To find a suitable mate,” Mycroft stated, eyeing him warily. “Statistically, only 12% of Omegas actually graduate. The rest pair off and raise the pups.”

Snarling, Sherlock downed another flute, ignoring the all-knowing, watchful eyes of his brother.

 


The heroin worked faster.

It killed the loneliness like a swift blow to the head.

But after a two-day binge, he found he had torn apart his bedding, raked claws down the yellow wallpaper, bitten his arm until it bled and broken the bridge of his violin. His bow lay tangled and frayed, Pro-Arte strings snapped.

His only possession and he hadn’t taken care of it.

The Alpha in him wasn’t only distraught, it was also furious. After the slow, painful ache of sobering (being sick over the toilet, shivering with cold sweat) he’d run to the nearest repair shop, collapsing with relief when being told it was all repairable.

He might be broken, but at least a piece of him could be fixed.

 


Everyone else knew the song but Sherlock knew he’d never have the sheet music.

He’d had enough. He could be alone. He was alone.

So what did it matter?

 


The Facility made him shower using generic, unscented soap and shampoo. He dried with a bleached towel, clothing himself in what they provided. White and sterile, it felt like an alien skin as he dressed.

He was aching in a way he hadn’t felt since his early university days. Overwhelming longing plucking at him, adamant and unrelenting. A fiber in him vibrated, taunt and thin like a prelude string, instinct telling him something was wrong, so very wrong, but finding himself here on his own accord regardless.

He ached; rubbing his chest in a futile attempt, knowing full well this sensation wasn’t physical.

He ached for John.

John was different in everyway conceivable to Sherlock. He wasn’t intimidated or easily (if ever) cowed. He could (and did) snap back with equal ferocity. He would argue, dispute, shake his head and roll his eyes, throw up his hands and storm away but always (always!) he came back.

He ached for a (his!) Beta, for his (only) friend. In another reality, another body perhaps, they could (should) have been. The thought depressed him deeply and he pushed them away, finding his unease and stress at his current situation not allowing him to delete it.

But he could never allow them to be together, the hard thought of one day going insane if he allowed himself a Beta mate, that he might one day lose himself completely and harm John, kept him firm in his actions.

The door silently opened and feeling the shift in the cool air Sherlock turned towards it, the goose pimples on his skin raising, the only thing to give away his nervousness.

The Omega was dark and olive skinned. Navy shadowed eyes and cropped, chestnut hair. He was short, shorter than John, he noted and so very young. Taking in the (lack of) wrinkles around the corners of his eyes and mouth Sherlock estimated around 22.

Like Sherlock, he had showered and been given sterile clothing and with frustration, he could deduce nothing of the Omega.

The scent hit him soon after his eyes swept over, curved in the air and intoxicating, he nearly buckled as the smell of unbonded Omega hit him between the eyes. The Alpha in him growled, please and driven. It was a scent long since denied, that he simply craved.

The Omega blinked at him, surprise obvious. “Well, hello there. Don’t usually get tall, dark and handsome here, what’s your story love?” He purred, his voice dark chocolate as he approached.

Sherlock steeled himself, “Surely they’ve told you. My Rut is close and I require your services.”

The Omega licked his lips; incisors tugging at the bottom. He took a seductive step forward, rolling his hips with his pace. He smiled, baring white teeth. “Alright then handsome. My name is—“

“Irrelevant.” Sherlock snapped.

The Omega didn’t even flinch, his grin widening. “Straight to business then? I like you bossy…” Sherlock willed himself not to tense, as the Omega reached for his arm—

Only to watch dismayed as the Omega snatch his hand back with a snarl.

Sherlock blinked rapidly as the once seductive youth pulled away from him, his young hackles rising.

“Why are you here?” He snarled at Sherlock, taking three steps back.

What?

“We just discussed this—“ Sherlock began, taking a step forward, feeling his frustration rise. “Why-why are you backing away? I paid for this!, you can’t just—“

“No. Leave.”

What?

Sherlock reached, feeling desperate and as awkward as his adolescent stage, uncomprehending and mildly angered.

The Omega lurched and snapped at him twice, backpedaling to the door he just entered through, not turning his back to the Alpha.

Where once his bared teeth showed a smile, it was only curved in a defensive, predatory snarl.

The youth banged twice on the door (a signal?) and an outside Beta worker began to unlock it.

“You shouldn’t be here. It isn’t right. It’s—It’s wrong and I won’t be apart of it.” The Omega stated firmly, eyes hard. “Leave. None of us here will have you.”

“Why. Tell me, why!?” Sherlock cried out, clenching his hands tightly, nails digging into his palm. He senses I’m broken, he knows I’m different. Just looking at me and he knows…He rejects me …What’s wrong with me?

“Go back to yours, Alpha. Go home.”

Sherlock shook his head, frustration tangible. “Tell me! Tell me what is wro—“

The Omega swept out the door quickly the moment it was opened, leaving Sherlock once again alone.


“Mr. Holmes,” the Beta worker began, nervously holding her clipboard tightly to her chest. “I --this is unprecedented I promise you, we are doing everything we can to—“

“I frighten them.” Sherlock stared blankly at the wall.

“Frighten, no. They- you seem to anger them. Their Handlers are unable to ascertain as to why. They just won’t tell us.”

He only nodded. He found himself simply accepting it, uncaring at this point. Numb. I crave numb. I need to feel nothing.

“We—we can compensate you accordingly of course,” she continued and Sherlock wanted to scowl at her sympathetic tone.

“I’ll require one of your rooms, and a 500 milligram suppressant.” He stood quickly, and the Beta’s eyes widened.

“500 mill… Mr. Holmes, that’s unwise, that’s much too strong a dose—“

“I have a high tolerance to drugs, I assure you.”


It was enough to numb his entire body for almost 48 hours, senses dulled to the point of catatonic. A 500 milligram dose was sufficient to quickly put him under. His Alpha instinct lay muted, the drug silencing it as effectively as any gag.

If he entered a Rut, he didn’t feel it and if there was anything to be thankful for, it was that. He didn’t want to feel the crazed jealously and possessiveness that overcame him in such a state. He wanted to feel nothing. To feel only the warming, anesthetized sensation shielding his mind, protecting himself from his instincts. He felt entirely deadened and he felt like he deserved it.

Mycroft had assured him a town car would pick him up to take him back to Baker Street after his (now unsuccessful) liaison. Not wanting to take the chance of his brother being present along with the vehicle, he woke early and ordered a cab.

He needed out. He needed home. He needed—

He ignored the kind eyes of the Betas as he slowly gathered his items, not hearing their words as they apologized, sympathized and attempted compassion. His face remained neutral; he couldn’t even snarl them away.


Coming home to Baker Street stirred a humid, oppressive feeling in his heart. The slowly dissipating drugs wore him down, weighting his soul as he entered he couldn’t bring himself to look up the stairs to John’s room. He didn’t have to scent or see to know that John was home, that flat always felt warmed with his presence.

He’d promised John he’d be home today and he was, and yet he still felt like a liar. He swore he’d come back and things would be better. That they could go back to how they were, and he craved that. He yearned for John but if he couldn’t have him as a lover he wanted him as a friend and yet—the desire was still there, festering in his core. A mate. He hungered for it and John was willing, open, begging, presenting

But he couldn’t. He’d go mad. His Mind Palace would be demolished. He’d lose everything he’d earned. He could kill John and he knew he would then soon follow.

He made it to his room as quick as a passing shadow.

He crumpled in bed.

And he cried.


 

John touched the copper knob of Sherlock’s bedroom door lightly, as if it would spark and suddenly shock him. He felt calm, eerily, eerily calm, his pulse having slowed considerably as he made the firm, fierce decision to enter the Alpha’s (closed) den without permission.

Twisting the handle he pushed open the heavy cedar door and entered the darkness that was now the room, the sun having long since set.

Hesitantly, he attempted to scent the air, not entirely certain what he was searching for, when his eyes fell on Sherlock and his heart dropped through the floorboards.

The Alpha lay on top of the sheets, his solid, broad back pointedly to the door. He was dressed in what looked like white hospital scrubs. Minutely, his back rose lightly with each slow, controlled breath.

Oh Sherlock…

With the cautious, tentative step of a panther John made his way to the Alpha’s bed. Wordlessly, he crawled on top and settled himself up against the detective’s back, just a hair away from touching.

Sherlock hadn’t moved even a fraction, borderline comatose and John’s heart began to hammer with worry, even as his thoughts remained calm and rational.

He reached, running a hand through Sherlock’s raven mane of hair. The Alpha didn’t even twitch.

Oh Alpha, what did they do to you?

Gently, John curved himself up, shifting his arm so it roped around Sherlock, lightly holding, keeping his fingers in the curled hair. He pressed his chest to him, nosing Sherock’s nape he attempted to scent again. Only shampoo and sharp sweat.

No one else had touched his Alpha and something (Omega) in him was terribly pleased.

“Sherlock,” John felt the oppressive silence shatter around them. “Talk to me. Tell me what happened.” He whispered against the Alpha’s neck.

A small shiver ran down Sherlock’s spine and John reflexively tightened his arms.

“Nothing.” He answered, monotone .

“Sherlock--”

“Nothing. Happened.” Came the growled response, and John tucked his head between Sherlock’s suddenly taunt shoulder blades.

Nothing?

Oh…

Oh, Sherlock

John took a breath and rubbed chin against the Alpha’s shoulder, “They wouldn’t have you, would they.” Because they knew, they knew you were mine.

John had relaxed himself too much in Sherlock’s bed so he was entirely unprepared for the sudden, quick response. Sherlock bolted, ripping himself out of John’s hold he stood, towering over the bed. John instinctively felt himself want to be cowed, to look away, but he forced calm, staring back into those pale eyes with determination.

“Get out.” Sherlock snarled, widening his stance in a threatening manner.

“No.”

“I said get!-“ He lunged for John, hands outstretched like he meant to grip his shoulders and haul him up but John had already rolled himself out of the way, twisting himself up and off of the bed he stood, stance broad and holding himself between the Alpha and the bedroom door.

“You have no idea what I’ve been through the last two days,” Sherlock’s eyes were pinpoints in the darkness, pale streetlight highlighting them. It gave the Alpha a predatory, vampiric quality that made John shiver through his shoulders.

“I’ve had a fucked up two days too,” he said, his voice steady and calm.

Sherlock sneered, and John’s heartrate sped up. “They wouldn’t have you would they—Hey! Stop!” He held up his hands as Sherlock spun, approaching him quickly. Sherlock stilled and quickly John continued. “They wouldn’t have you but don’t you want to know why?”

“Because I’m broken.” Sherlock replied quickly. “Because I’m dangerous.”

John shook his head, “No. You’re not—“

Sherlock attacked. In a blink of an eye he’d gripped John’s wrists, shoved him into the wall and snapped a breath away from his neck, gray eyes bearing down on him, his teeth bared. John peered back, eyes soft and gentle, he leaned forward and brushed his lips against the Alpha’s jawline.

Sherlock flinched, “You aren’t afraid.” Incredulous.

“No.” Came John’s soft, truthful answer.

Sherlock’s chest heaved, eyes searching John’s, no longer filled with anger but with confusion.

“Why?”

“Because you won’t harm me. I know you, Sherlock Holmes. I see you,” Sherlock released John quickly at the words, backing away but John continued. “You snap, you threaten, but you wouldn’t harm me. I see you drive others away because you don’t want to be hurt, because you’re afraid to let them in. Because you once tried and you failed and you tell yourself you can’t fail so you make yourself unfeeling. But you feel deeper than anyone I know.” John took in a steady, deep breath. “Because you're mine. And I'm yours.”

Sherlock shook his head, eyes on the floor, resigned.

The test results in John’s pocket felt heavier than any rucksack he’d ever had to carry. He brushed his hand over it, fingers twitching.

“I’m yours, Sherlock Holmes.” He repeated. “I’m your Omega.”

Chapter Text

“I’m yours, Sherlock Holmes.” He repeated. “I’m your Omega.”

Sherlock closed his eyes, feeling a pit of sharp guilt open up beneath him. “John please, I can’t deal with how I’m affecting you right now. I can’t deal with how you want to please me enough to imitate I just…” Sherlock’s posture slightly crumpled, hardly able to stand under the pressure now building in the room.

“What is it that you say? ‘When you eliminate the impossible’?” John took a step forward, voice slightly high in quiet desperation. “Tell me, how does it go?”

“John-“

“I’m turning on the light, alright?” Without waiting for an answer, John leaned over and flicked on the switch. The bulb flickered in protest before illuminating, casting their shadows along the wall. “I need you,” he steeled himself, “to listen to me.” He rubbed the pads of his fingers along the crease of his jean pocket.

“And I need you to leave.” Sherlock said firmer, feeling the dam of his patience breaking, flooding with exhaustion.

John advanced quickly, enough to slightly startle the Alpha in his sheer force of movement. He placed a palm on Sherlock’s chest and shoved, hard, causing the back of the Alpha’s knees to hit the edge of the bed and he was forced to sit, eyes wide up at John’s sudden flaring anger.

“Now you listen to me you bloody idiot.” He snarled and Sherlock found a piece of him shrinking away at the tone. “Christ, how can you be so bloody brilliant and so bloody thick?” John backed away, scrubbing a hand hard through his hair in agitation. Sherlock stayed put, silent and watching apprehensively.

John looked away and sighed, before turning back to him, posture fighting to straighten with confidence. Sherlock watched as he pulled out a set of papers from his front pocket, folded and worn with obvious use. His interest was piqued and his eyes moved from John to the papers and back again.

“Hypothetically, Sherlock,” John started, voice suddenly softer, eyes staring down and fiddling with the pages. He began re-creasing their edges. “If I were an Omega—“

“John, you aren’t --” came the Alpha’s quick response, but the rest of the sentence died in his throat as John’s eyes flickered up to him with the oddest look and back down the pages. Sherlock frowned and shook his head. “John, I tire of this circular conversation, I don’t know how many more times—“

“Hypothetically, Sherlock.”

“I don’t deal in hypotheticals, John!” Sherlock snapped, wanting to rise up in sudden frustration but keeping himself down for the moment, willing calm and clear.

“Yes. You deal in facts, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Data?”

“Yes, data.” Sherlock’s heart hitched a fraction in concern as he felt he was being set up.

John just nodded and reached forward, hands outstretched with the papers. “Fine. Here.” He flicked his fingers; pages flinging towards the Alpha and Sherlock reflexively caught them in the air.

He looked down at the folded pages, and back up to John. “What is this?”

“Data.” Came John’s terse response. He folded his arms and Sherlock’s eyes caught a bead of (nervous?) sweat make its way from his hairline to his neck, slowly rolling.

He looked down at the pages for but a moment, before gently unfolding.


John counted up to a 50 and back down again, as Sherlock’s eyes rove over the pages. He read (left right up down and back again), before flipping the page to the back and reading the second page in the same manner, before flipping to the first page again and repeating.

He could feel the tremor in his leg acting up, the white sickness creeping along his mind. The angry butterfly was back again, knocking around his chest so hard he wanted to lean over and retch, just to expel it.

The atmosphere began to fill with steel wool, stiff and abrasive, scraping at the air and filling his lungs. Whatever calm, rational collection of thoughts he had managed to pull with his sudden earlier confidence was rapidly fading with each passing second, fear and doubt clouding.

“John,” the quiet baritone filled the room, the frisson of tension slightly cracking. John turned to stare blankly at the corner of the wall, vision beginning to blur with the hard pressure of Sherlock’s sudden stare on him. “These results… They’re yours.” Came the soft statement, utterly devoid of emotion.

John swallowed hard, the stone in his throat swelling with anxiety. “Yes.” He affirmed.

“John, this isn’t possible.” Sherlock looked down at the pages again, unblinking.

“It’s not a mistake,” John began carefully. “Molly, she ran them, she thought she had made one. So she ran it again,” he pointed. “That second page is the second test she --”

“That night,” Sherlock suddenly interrupted, surging to his feet. John took an unintended step back at the movement. “The night I left, when you,” Sherlock tossed the pages unceremoniously to the floor. “…you, you presented to me… That wasn’t imitation?” Pale eyes bore into John’s but they revealed nothing, just a hard, unmoving stare.

Presented? “No. I… I panicked. I did the only thing I felt I could do, the only thing instinct-“

“Instinct?” Sherlock blanched.

John nodded. “Yes. I didn’t… I didn’t know it was ‘presenting’. I just, it’s just something I felt I needed to do. To keep you with me. I felt like I was failing.” His throat tightened and he looked away, finding himself unable to keep eye contact any longer.

Sherlock strode over to the window, staring but unseeing. His brain locking and unlocking, shifting and surging. His face remained a neutral mask, but his heart hammered.

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

Swiftly turning, he advanced on John who nearly flinched but managed to keep himself collected as the Alpha snatched at his wrist and lifted, scenting along the veins, before pulling John to him, to scent along his hairline and down his collar. John’s neck imperceptibly trembled, muscles nervously spasaming like a jittery horse, bucking and tossing beneath his skin.

Nothing. He scented nothing. And with a frustrated snarl he released John who dropped his hand quickly.

“What-“

“The suppressants.” Sherlock explained straight away, backing away from John. “They are still in my system I won’t be able to scent anything, at least for a bit longer.”

John only nodded. “So what now then?” He asked quietly.

Sherlock kept his breathing even, to keep his thinking sound and steady. “This isn’t possible, John.”

“I know that.”

“And yet…” Sherlock glanced down at the discarded pages.

“And yet.” John repeated, voice soft.

“Is it—Are you alright?” The words sounded utterly absurd, but he found it was the only answer of current importance he needed to know.

John’s throat worked hard, eyes suddenly glassy. He merely shook his shoulders and looked away.

“I was afraid—“ John began quietly, resting his back against the wall beside the door. “The last two days all I’ve done is be afraid. The last few months—“

“Months?” Sherlock asked, suddenly aghast.

John nodded again, “Yes. Months now, these—impulses, thoughts, intrusions into my head—Sometimes pain but… mostly instincts…” He drifted off, eyes searching for the words in his head.

“The alley way. That night, when you had that pain—“ The Alpha’s eyes widened, realization dawning.

“Yes, exactly.”

“Your body was developing.” Sherlock began to pace, body trying to keep up with his mind. “Your vestigial reproductive organs filling to capacity—“

“Christ! Sherlock!” John shouted, face flooding red.

“You’re a doctor, John. This is merely a medical observation and--”

“No, will you just stop and listen—“

“Whatever mutation—“

“We are not calling it a mutation!” John was shaking now, face and neck flushed red. “I’m not—stop talking like I’m some fucking experiment!”

Sherlock stilled and looked up and to his horror, it looked like John was about to either cry or hit him, and he wasn’t sure which one he preferred. John worked his throat hard, hands gripped tightly to the side of his jeans in an attempt to steady and calm himself.

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock said quietly (sincerely). “I know that.  I know you aren’t…I just—“ He hesitated, feeling completely out of his element. “What do you want then, John? Tell me what I’m supposed to do with this information. Don’t you want to know what’s happening?”

“Yes. No. I don’t… I don’t know.” His voice cracked, still struggling for composure. “Molly said… maybe it just ‘is’. Maybe just being with you could have set off something.”

“Molly... Alright.” Sherlock nodded, eyes briefly on the papers. “What else did she say?”

“She mainly just listened, honestly.” John gave a heavy sigh. “She did mention an experiment in Russia, changing genders using gene therapy—It succeeded but then –failed.”

“It resulted in death.” Sherlock said quietly to himself, a statement not a question. John merely nodded.

“You said—they wouldn’t have me.”

John looked up, startled by the slight change in topic. He swallowed hard, “Yes.”

“Why?”

John looked away, sweat beginning to prickle along his neckline. “Because they knew.”

“How?” And glancing over to Sherlock, the Alpha looked genuinely perplexed.

“The night we were together,” reflexively he brought a hand to his neck, tracing the lines of scar, hyper aware of Sherlock’s eyes following his movement. “You bit me, here” he pressed his hand to it. “At the time, yeah Beta, wouldn’t have done anything. Just a bite, not a bond. But maybe… something stuck. A connection made.” He shrugged helplessly, unsure.

“I don’t remember that night. I don’t remember—“ The Alpha cut himself off, slowly closing the distance between them until he was almost flush against John. “Show me.”

John pulled his hand away and ever slowly, Sherlock reached up. Rough, slightly calloused fingers brushed up against his neck and John’s knees nearly buckled. “You said you were mine,” Sherlock’s soft breath ghosted along him, head tucked low it nearly rested against John. The fingers rubbed deeper into his mark and the impulse to groan and whine at the Alpha was hovering, but he resisted, catching it before it cleared his throat.

“Yes.” He whispered, almost a rasp.

“You presented to me, John.” Sherlock’s voice was low, deep satin brushing and John closed his eyes. “You submitted to me and bared your neck.” Fingers curled tighter. John briefly tensed as Sherlock nosed his hairline. “Did you mean it?” He breathed into John’s hair.

John nodded and leaned forward, brushing his forehead against Sherlock. “Yes.” He risked a quick glance at Sherlock’s cautious quicksilver eyes. “I’m yours and you’re mine. Tell me what you want… Do you want this?”

Sherlock stiffened and began to pull away and suddenly panicked, John lunged. Wrapping his arms around Sherlock’s neck he pulled him down, pressing his forehead to the Alpha’s chest.

“Don’t. Don’t you dare run away from me.” He whispered fiercely and Sherlock froze.

“John-“

“No. No, Sherlock. Every time we take a step forward you turn the other way and run.” He pulled back and grasped Sherlock’s face, forcing the Alpha to look at him. “You run and hide and pull away from me. Tell me, tell me why you’re so afraid.”

“Stop-“ Sherlock’s eyes were wide, slightly panicked but John held as firm and yet as gentle as he could manage.

“It’s just me, Sherlock. Look at me.” John’s breath caught briefly and whatever tone his voice held, was enough to still Sherlock. “Forget Alphas.” John spat out, harshly. “Forget—Forget Alphas and Omegas and Betas. Forget all of that. This isn’t biology, this isn’t instinct. This isn’t Heat or Rut. This is you and me. Sherlock and John. Look at me, Sherlock. Really look at me.” John’s voice broke in desperation, running his thumb gently along Sherlock’s cheekbone. Sherlock’s breathing was heavy with fright, fight or flight kicking in. John gently moved his hands away from the detective’s jaw, running a hand through the curled hair. He leaned forward and let their foreheads touch, quick breath intermingling. “It’s just me, Sherlock. It’s just John. I’ve always just been John. Trust me. Trust I won’t hurt you, trust that I love you and—“

A mouth was on his, so rough and amorous it silenced him swiftly. Sherlock’s tongue swept past his lips, tasting and sucking. He pulled back and bit the side of John’s jaw before ducking lower to his collarbone, nipping, the Alpha’s hands moving to grip his waist.

Heart abruptly thrashing erratically John struggled to catch the breath that seemed to be drawn straight out of his lungs. “Sherlock--!”

The Alpha gripped him, hot breath against his skin, front flushed against him. Teeth grazed against the scarred mark on his neck and this time his legs did buckle, but the firm grip the Alpha held kept him steady. “Tell me, tell me.” He growled out, incisors pressing down on his neck but not cutting.

“I told you, you thick idiot.” John breathed. “I’m John. And I’m your Omega.” John tilted his head to allow the Alpha better access, baring his jugular.

Sherlock reeled, mind nearly short-circuiting at the sight. He snarled possessively at the throat bared before him and bent low, baring his teeth against the skin before tightening his hold around John and wheeling him around towards the bed.

He pushed, the Alpha nudging John to the bed and the Omega obeyed only on slightly apprehensive feet, before reaching and drawing himself on it, spine flush against the sheets. John made a quick, encouraging motion with his hand and Sherlock climbed on top of John. Grabbing at his belt buckle he pulled John down off the pillows with quick ease, settling him beneath him. John tensed, slightly startled by the sudden, hidden strength and the Alpha grinned (Yes, I’m powerful, I can protect, I can defend) before reaching down at the end of his shirt and pulling it up and over his head, tossing it behind him.

John reached low, fingers fumbling with the buckle before the Alpha’s waned patience snapped and he batted the hands away, deftly unbuckling, unzipping and yanking the jeans clear off John’s body in mere seconds.

The Omega ran a soothing hand down his bare back, murmuring to him softly and Sherlock wanted to hear but he was struggling, the Alpha in him snapping and bristling with need.

(Mount, breed, bite, mark)

“Hey, hey….” John soothed, trying to calm and Sherlock steadied himself above him. “Stay with me Sherlock… Don’t let it take you. Stay with me,” he breathed, tips of his fingers running up and over his ear, brushing his hair back. Sherlock shuddered and bent low, breath barely catching up to him.

“It’s difficult,” Sherlock breathed against John’s neck. “It’s harder when I fade away. When it takes over.” His chest tightened. “I want to remember, John. I want-“ He broke off, tucking his face against John’s neck, words suddenly failing.

John threw an arm around Sherlock, crook of his arm shielding the Alpha’s nape. “Then stay with me,” he breathed against his Alpha’s hair. “Stay with me, like this. Just like this,” he placed Sherlock’s hand against his belly, shifting the hand down to his pelvis. “Feel me?” He whispered, and Sherlock nodded, gently stroking the flesh offered. “Just feel me. Just breathe. I have you,” he leaned up and brushed his parted lips against Sherlock’s temple. “Stay with me.”

The Alpha shifted just enough to return John’s brush of lips, not quite a kiss, not quite like before. John whined softly and bared his neck, stroking a hand down Sherlock’s sweat gleamed arm. The act was to the Alpha like tossing dried kindling onto a blaze, heaving into a flaming pyre.

Sherlock surged forward, running a strip of tongue down John’s neck to his offered collarbone, tasting and scenting vehemently. John’s body was goose pimpled and raised, beads of sweat giving his skin a granular texture, tasting of sugar and sea salt.

There wasn’t a part of John he didn’t want to scent or taste, the wild, feverish part of him straining and yearning to scent his Omega. The facts were there, the knowledge in his head of what he had beneath him but the Alpha was snapping and snarling with frustration, not being able to scent properly as the suppressants still coursed in his blood. (So close so close almost …)

They stripped each other. John scrambling to get the rest of Sherlock’s hated sterile medical scrubs off while Sherlock freed John of his T-Shirt and underwear. They released their straining erections, watching them flush up against each other’s bellies.

John shuddered, as if cold, and without preamble the Alpha clawed at the sheets beneath them to get them on top of them both, nesting them properly, blankets tenting. With their harsh breathing and sweat-dripped bodies, the humid breath between them lingered. Sharing breaths and huffs Sherlock laid himself flush on John, settling himself between the spread legs.

John’s hands were in his hair, tangled and pulling. The Omega arched and Sherlock nearly came undone right there, the Alpha straining to dig teeth into flesh, pinning down what was his and rutting shamelessly. (mine mine mine mine)

Sherlock swallowed hard, nearly shaking with barely contained restraint. He reached a hand down between his legs, wrapping around his thickening cock he gave a few tugs, rubbing his thumb along the head.

“John,” he rubbed his forehead along the Omega’s, murmuring into his ear. “Let me have you, please… let me…” He groaned, just the words spilling from his lips gave a twitch to his cock. “Please… I won’t until you tell me, until you want me…”

“I want you,” John breathed, hand clutching Sherlock’s shoulder blade. “I’m ready, feel me, I’m ready for you…” The Omega murmured against his temple.

Sherlock gave three long, solid licks up John’s throat, dragging the third one along his mark. The Omega moaned, fingers tightening around his back he spread his legs wider, before hitching them up on Sherlock’s hips.

Releasing the Alpha a fraction in his mind, he let the instinct ride to where he could properly mount John while the Omega was on his back. He wanted John, like this, with open eyes and open mouth.

He slid inside John like the way was oiled.

John arched but went nowhere, straining, Sherlock’s solid body pinning him down firm against the bed. Sherlock stilled briefly, bottomed out inside.

“John?” He whispered between galloped breaths.

The Omega’s eyes snapped open, darkened by lust and instinct. He snarled, gripped fingers now digging nails. John struggled underneath him and Sherlock’s heart lurched. John pushed Sherlock’s chest, raising his head he snapped at the Alpha’s throat, nearly catching the skin.

There. Omega. There.

The scent slammed into Sherlock, hitting him right between the eyes he nearly collapsed at the strength of it. His senses were back, medication purged fully from his system. It was near overload: John’s Omega scent, his quickened pulse, the sharp sting of nails, the hot grip around his cock—All amplified by hyper-awareness.

John, Omega, struggling, struggling against him.

The Alpha snarled. Roaring to life he reared, hands grabbing and pulling John’s arms off his back and chest he pinned his wrists above his head. John hissed, teeth bared, eyes black and feral.

Sherlock thrust in earnest, hips snapping. John’s thighs were slick with sweat and natural lubricant,, their bodies slapping and slipping against each other. John arched again, spine curving, teeth still bared but he groaned, eyes screwing shut.

Mine. Omega. Claim. Mine.

He felt it, heavy between his legs. He didn’t have to reach down and feel to know, even never having experienced it first hand.

His knot, forming in the presence of heated Omega pheromones.

John wasn’t in heat, not quite, but the need was overwhelming, instinct overriding. The bulb at the root of his cock pulsed, sending throbs to his balls, which hung heavy and tight against him.

The Omega was still fevered. He was still struggling and growling but also moaning and twisting with pleasure as Sherlock pistoned, hitting that piece of him deep inside that had him writhing.

John was gone, replaced only by the primal Omega beneath him. Sherlock, desperately grasping for awareness, bent low to John’s throat and the Omega went still as the Alpha bared his teeth.

“You’re mine John,” he grazed teeth against the Omega’s Adam’s apple, which bobbed with a heavy swallow. “I waited. I waited for you my whole life. And now you’re mine. You’re my Omega now. I’ll do whatever it takes… whatever it takes to keep you like this.”

With a snarl, he snapped his hips, knot pushing pass the last ring of muscle and John gave a guttural moan as Sherlock bit down, re-breaking the skin along John’s scar.

Sherlock’s knot spasmed, cum rushing out and into John’s womb and he cried out at both the pleasure and the very thought of the implications of the act. He gripped John’s cock, which hung leaking and red with arousal and only gave it a few rough strokes before the Omega was crying out in orgasm, cum streaking across his belly and chest.

He arms began to shake with exhaustion and he lowered himself onto his forearms, caging himself around John’s now shivering frame. He reached, stroking a gentle hand along John’s forehead, wiping sweat away from his brow. Impulsively, he licked the re-opened wound along John’s neck, bonding his saliva and John’s blood, merging and sealing.

John’s body was cooling, breath normalizing and as Sherlock nosed along John’s hairline and neck, John began to shift against him anxiously.

Sherlock shifted himself, sliding off to his side he put a loose arm around John, who began to blink rapidly, the fog clearly.

“Alright?” Sherlock asked gently, resisting another impulse to lick John’s neck.

John took a deep, steady breath. He nodded, but it wasn’t confident. “Yeah,” his voice cracked. He raised his head, taking an appraising look at his cum covered chest and stomach before collapsing back onto the pillow.

“Jesus, and I was worried about you losing yourself.” John grumbled, scrubbing a hand over his face.

“I did, for a bit.” Sherlock admitted quietly.

“Did you… Christ, did you bite me again?” John raised a hand to his neck, eyes narrowing accusingly at Sherlock.

“Again, I did say a bit.”

“Is that going to be a thing now?” John asked, hissing quietly as he gently touched around the mark. “You biting me?”

Sherlock shook his head. Reaching up he pulled John’s hand away, “Don’t mess with it. It’ll be fine. And no, it was more of a … proper bite.”

“A proper--”

“A proper bonding bite.” Sherlock paused. “Your scent changed.” He stated.

John tensed into the pillow, eyes up at the ceiling. “Oh.”

Sherlock quirked a hesitant eyebrow. “Oh?” He asked cautiously.

John swallowed, eyes searching the ceiling but for what, Sherlock didn’t know. “This is real, is it?” He fell silent, but Sherlock merely waited. “This whole thing—it’s real. It wasn’t in my head. It wasn’t a… a computer error.” He turned his head, eyes boring deep into Sherlock. “It’s real then.”

Sherlock hesitated, before nodding. “Yes.” Something unnamable flashed over John’s eyes, and whatever it was spooked the hell out of Sherlock. “I’ll take care of you.” He rushed out, bringing a hand up and placing it gently on John’s shoulder. “I promise. I… I’ll take care of you. I’ll teach you.”

“Teach me?” John asked, unsure.

“Yes. Our kind… It might be a culture shock to you.”

John looked away, back to the ceiling. “But I have you, right?”

“Yes.” He tightened his grip around John, who relaxed, although only fractionally. “You have me.” He licked his lip, appraising John. “You’re tired. We should try and sleep.”

“We?” John asked skeptically, and Sherlock could appreciate the small smile John tried to display.

He smiled gently back. “Yes, we. I’ll lie here with you. I won’t leave. I’ll be here when you wake up. We can talk more about this later, for now, let’s rest.”

John simply nodded. “Alright.”

They settled on top of the sheets, Sherlock ripping a pillow case off to wipe John’s chest and belly. John instinctively tucked himself into Sherlock’s hold, forehead up against the Alpha’s chest. Sherlock roped an arm around his frame, fingers grazing along his back. John took a shuddering breath and the Alpha gently rubbed his fingers in circles between the Omega’s shoulder blades.

“You’re lovely,” he murmured into John’s hair, before settling his chin atop his head.

“Hmm?” John murmured, falling into sleep, barely aware.

“In my arms,” Sherlock replied, knowing the full meaning behind his words would be lost to John. As the Omega fell asleep in his Alpha’s arms, Sherlock sighed and followed.


 

Sherlock didn’t snap awake as he usually did when he heard the shower system clang on. Instead, it was a slow, gradual awareness that felt warm and welcome. He felt for once he was at ease, at least in body. Even as his mind worked frantically to categorize and filter all the scents, sounds and tactile sensations from the night with John.

With John, my Omega.

A piece of him (a large, primary piece) was delighted, calm and happy. He was content in a way he hadn’t even dreamed he’d ever feel, in a way he hadn’t ever dreamed he’d deserve.

But the smaller piece, teetered on fear.

John was clearly frightened about his sudden… circumstance. He could put on a brave face, the ever-fearsome soldier, but anyone would be terrified of such a huge, life-changing event. Sherlock struggled to understand, to sort through the possibilities. He enjoyed mysteries, but he was loath to think of John as merely a puzzle. He was an unknown quantity, and Sherlock needed answers.

John had made it explicitly clear he didn’t want to be experimented upon or prodded, and Sherlock could respect that… for now.. Sometime down the road he knew he would have to do some research, some further data collection. Whatever mutation John’s body had gone through had settled for now, every Alpha instinct in his body awakening and alerting to him of the fully-fledged, fully fertile Omega now showering in their bathroom. Any Beta scent had been thoroughly eradicated and although there were traces that were purely John (tea, chocolate, fabric softener, ink oils) that sank into his sheets and into the Alpha’s very pores, the heady note of Omega permeated the bedroom.

His phone buzzed, unpleasant and sharp, against the maple of the nightstand. With a growl of irritation, he realized it continued buzzing, as it wasn’t a text. Seeing as how John was currently occupied in the shower, there was only one person who would be calling him.

On impulse, he reached and snapped it off its charger cord. “What is it, Mycroft.”

“Oh, good afternoon to you Sherlock. Or might I say, good morning, as the roughness of your voice indicates you have just awaken?” Mycroft’s light, teasing tone made his hackles rise.

“I’ve been busy—“

“Oh, I’m sure you have been.” The teasing tone was gone, and Sherlock felt a twinge of concern. Before he could respond, his brother continued. “I was calling to ask about your stay at The Facility. My driver claims you found your own way home, and my card was credited back half the amount they should have charged. Care to explain?”

Sherlock took a silent, deep breath. “I didn’t use their services.” He said, in as bored a tone as he could manage.

“Oh?” Came the deceptively casual reply.

The Alpha sat up straight in bed, heart hammering tightly. “I used their suppressant services. I didn’t need to lower myself quite yet to purchase a night with an Omega.” He stated sharply, barely repressing a growl. “Now, I leave you to your afternoon cake and—“

“How is the violin, Sherlock?”

What? Sherlock’s brow pinched together, his snappish anger eroding into confusion. “The hell--?”

“I gave that to you to ease your suffering.” The tone shifted, darker, drifting off slightly. “It was custom, Sherlock. It was made just for you.”

No.Nonono. “You…Mycroft-“

“To give you something to care for, to protect. To give you focus and purpose. Do you understand me?”

Sherlock froze, his diaphragm constricting painfully in a burst of dread.

You wouldn’t. You didn’t. You didn’t Mycroft. Tell me you didn’t—

“I must be going now Sherlock. I am sorry to hear The Facility didn’t work out. But I do hope you continue to care for that violin. It’s one of a kind; it would be such a shame if it weren’t properly cared for.” A purposeful pause. “It would be such a shame if I had to take it away from you.”

The line disengaged, and Sherlock’s hand dropped from his ear as suddenly as the string being snipped clear off a puppet. Dimly, he was aware of his phone slipping clear out of grasp, skittering the hardwood, finding rest under his dresser. He was only vaguely aware of the white, roaring static in his mind, the only thing he knew being able to cloud it.. was vivid, unbridled fear.

Mycroft… Mycroft—he.. he … John-- To John...

“—lock? Sherlock!?” The high, suddenly stressed voice snapped him back. He felt something on his arm. A gentle hand, his Omega’s hand. The Alpha acknowledged John’s presence beside him even before Sherlock had, not flinching or growling at the touch.

“Jesus, what happened?” Sherlock turned, John’s eyes were wide with concern, hand reaching up from his arm to his neck, attempting to comfort. “I’ve never seen you make that face—Is everything alright?”

Sherlock blinked twice rapidly, the shields coming down, shutters slamming closed. He swallowed and coughed, attempting nonchalant. “Yes just… taking in everything.” That wasn’t a lie at least.

John roped a towel around his neck, obscuring Sherlock’s recent bite mark but the Alpha didn’t need to see it to know it was there, deep and bruising. He could smell it, smell their bond tying them together. He could smell John, his (his! Only his!) Omega, through the soap rinsed, damp rise of his skin.

He reached his hand forward, having a sudden, indescribable rush to touch John, to ensure he was here, with him, real and breathing. He carded a hand through John’s damp, wheat colored hair, smoothing down the ends which wanted to fray up.

John gave him a cautious, baffled sideways glance. “Are you sure you’re alright?” He asked, as Sherlock pulled his hand away, resting it against John’s towel clad thigh. Alpha instincts were alarmed and gently rising within him. The sense that his Omega was threatened, that he might leave or be taken, caused an urge of needing a tactile connection with his mate.

I’ll do whatever it takes… whatever it takes to keep you like this.

“Yes,” he smiled gently, making sure it reached his eyes. “Everything’s fine.”

 End Book One

Chapter Text

It's almost been a year since this fic ended! Thank you for your subscriptions and lovely comments. I am finishing the first few chapters of the sequel, and will be uploading new chapters to this fic as Chapter 9 as Book Two.

If you like, you can follow me here on Tumblr which is strictly Sherlock and fanfic/fanart centric. Or just check in occasionally (or say hello!) Also, if there are any ideas for scenes you have or would like to see in the sequel, shoot me a message via the Tumblr link or leave a comment and I'll do my best to add to the storyline.

Again, thank you!

BelladonnaQ

 

#delete later