John held the manila envelope up for inspection, flipping it over to view both sides. There were no identifying marks that he could see. It felt light in his fingers, just the ordinary sort of thing you might use to send an inter-office memo. He shrugged.
“You could open it,” Sherlock suggested, sinking to the bed beside him.
“Yeah, right-o. Hope there’s no anthrax or anything in here.” John shook the envelope warily, producing only a slight rustling of paper.
Sherlock rolled his eyes, but remained quiet as John slipped a finger under the flap and pried it open. He turned the envelope over to dump out a stapled-together packet of papers that fluttered to the floor. When nothing else seemed to be forthcoming, John bent over to retrieve it.
“The Tale of Sir Boast A Lot and the Naughty Little Hobbit," John read the title on the front page somewhat incredulously. “What in the world?”
Sherlock groaned and collapsed back across the bed. “Oh, God.”
John quickly flipped to the next page. “Once upon a time there lived a young prince who was known as Sir Boast A Lot. . .” John’s eyebrows traveled up somewhere near his hairline as he scanned through the text. “Your brother wrote this?”
“Oh I doubt he actually wrote it, but I’m sure he dictated the shape of it.”
“But what does this mean?”
“It means my brother is a complete arsehole.” Sherlock sighed. “It’s also probably a clue, and something we’ll need to actually read.”
John burst out laughing. “It looks like a bedtime story, a fairy tale.”
“I wouldn’t know.” Sherlock shrugged.
“You never had bedtime stories when you were little?” John rounded on him.
“My parents read to me when I was pre-literate, but I tended to enjoy scientific journals, or history books. Fiction didn’t interest me much.”
“Ah, well budge over. You’re about to have your first fairy tale read to you.”
Sherlock raised an eyebrow but acquiesced to John’s direction that they lie back, getting comfortable against the headboard as he prepared to read.
“Okay,” John cleared his throat, holding the page upright, “Once upon a time there lived a young prince known as Sir Boast A Lot. It wasn’t his real name, but he was such an insufferable know-it-all, bothering everyone about the castle, that someone called him the nick-name and it stuck. Soon no one even remembered what the prince was actually called. Despite the name, the prince continued sticking his nose in where it didn’t belong. One day a woman, a distant relation, came to visit the castle. Unbeknownst to the prince, the woman was a powerful sorceress. When the prince insulted her that night at dinner, revealing private facts about herself for all and sundry to hear, the woman was enraged.”
Sherlock shuffled uncomfortably next to John on the duvet. John butted his foot gently against Sherlock’s ankle before continuing.
“Magic swirled around her as she pointed a long, bony finger at the know-it-all. ‘I curse you to wear the pain on your skin that you have caused others. May you bear the shape of a monster until you can know true compassion.’
The prince felt a horrible writhing begin over his entire body. He ran as fast as he could from the dining hall into the night trying to escape the spell, but the magic had wrapped its tendrils around him. As he ran, he felt himself twisting and growing until he had turned into an enormous dragon. There was no way he could return to the castle having grown to almost half the size of it. Reluctantly, Sir Boast A Lot left his home, raising his wings to the breeze to find somewhere more dragony to roost.
The prince flew for several days, encountering angry villagers who shot flaming arrows at him whenever he drew too close to a settlement. At last, exhausted and sore, he found a dragon’s lair in the mountains that seemed to have been abandoned, a perfect place to curl up and lick his wounds. To his wonder, the prince discovered that as a dragon, he had a magic of his own. For protection, he willed a large stone to block the entrance to the underground citadel, securing it with a spell. Only he or someone who knew how to crack the code written over the entrance could summon the magic to open the door.”
John paused to glance over at Sherlock. “You still with me?” Sherlock had closed his eyes, and raised pressed palms to his chin looking like some effigy on a sarcophagus. He cracked one eye, rumbling something in the affirmative, so John continued.
“Meanwhile on the other side of the kingdom, there lived a small hobbit who was not quite the same as the other hobbits. You see this hobbit had left the shire and gone to battle some years ago, and it had left scars on his body, but even deeper scars on his soul that no one could see. It made a divide between himself and his kinfolk so that even when he returned home . . .”
John felt his throat growing inexplicably tight. He tried clearing it several times before restarting.
“Here,” Sherlock said softly, sitting up. “Let me.” He reached for the pages in John’s grip.
“Yeah, alright.” John let him take them.
“ . . . so that even when he returned home,” Sherlock read in his rich, plumy voice “he found himself restless, and unable to enjoy the things that he had loved before. When a band of dwarves came to the shire looking for someone join their quest, the Little Hobbit was the first to volunteer. The dwarves told him they sought an enchanted jewel, one that resided in a citadel beneath the ground in their ancestral home, a place guarded by a fierce dragon. Armed with only his wits and a small sword, the Hobbit traveled with the dwarves for many days and nights through inhospitable landscapes and unspeakable dangers to reach the dragon’s lair.
When at last they reached the entrance to the underground citadel, weary from travel, they were dismayed to see the large stone blocking the way. The dwarves noticed the markings etched into the rock wall above the entrance, but try as they might, none of them could decipher the strange language and speak the words to open the way. The Little Hobbit who was even more foot-sore and tired than the dwarves, pushed his way through to see the inscription himself. As luck would have it, the words were written in Ancient Hobbitish, an older version of the dialect spoken around the shire, and the Little Hobbit had no trouble at all making sense of the words. Heat rose over his face, and he bit his tongue lest he say anything that gave his knowledge away.
“Here, now, what’s all this gibberish?” one of the Dwarves grumbled.
“It’s not words that I’ve ever seen before,” another declared, scratching his bushy beard.
They tried to simply push the rock aside with their combined strength, but the boulder had been set by magic and would not be moved by any other force. A great melancholy descended over the group at their failure. The dwarves were nearly ready to concede that their journey had been in vain when the little Hobbit felt compelled to speak.
“I can read the words.” tumbled from his mouth in a great rush.
“What?” the dwarves exclaimed rounding on the Little Hobbit. “You’ve known all this time and said nothing?”
“Well, it’s just that it’s a bit rude.” The Little Hobbit shuffled his furry feet against the ground hoping to stave off the inevitable. “I’d rather not say it aloud.”
The dwarves, being dwarves, were of course use to rough living and rougher language, and fairly desperate to reclaim their jewel in the mountain. They assured their hobbit friend that nothing he could read aloud would affect them in the slightest.
The Little Hobbit pulled up his courage by the boot straps, stood tall and read in a quavering voice “I am a very, naughty little hobbit, and I need to be spanked.”
“Oh, no.” John reached back for the pages, pulling them from Sherlock’s grip. “It doesn’t really say that.”
“I assure you, it does. Why don’t you read the next bit?”
John furrowed his brow scanning the text until he found the line that Sherlock had just read. Sure enough he’d been correct. “Soooo, naughy hobbit, needs to be spanked . . .
Going against their word, their dwarves broke out into gales of laughter at the Little Hobbit who had blushed clean up to his pointed ears. Chortling and giggling, the dwarves clutched their round bellies with mirth until the grating sound of the large stone moving stopped them. When the boulder had moved back just enough to allow a very small person to slip through - Oi, do they have to keep going on about how small he is? - the dwarves patted the hobbit on the back and wished him luck on this quest to find the hidden gem.
The Little Hobbit felt his courage had quite deserted him. He forged ahead down the long, dark tunnel bolstered only by the dwarves’ assurances that surely he was too small to be noticed by the dragon. Sadly, though, they had neglected to think of the dragon’s advanced sense of smell.
The creature, who had once been Sir Boast A Lot, dozed on a pile of treasure that another dragon had gathered before his arrival, dreaming of plump, lazy sheep. He’d not been hunting for several days, and it seemed his stomach would soon need to be appeased. Something in the air alerted him though, and he twitched awake, rousing to sniff a new presence in his stronghold. Carefully, he moved back into the shadows, sinking beneath a pile of coins to hide and plot as the intruder made his way into the great hall.
The Little Hobbit had only a cursory idea of what the dwarves’ magic jewel looked like, but he’d been told he’d know it when he saw it. His eyes grew round at the mounds of treasure heaped on the floor before him. Just as he thought he’d spied something twinkling and made to move closer, the coins shifted under his feet, and the mighty dragon’s head burst forth.”
“Okay, you need to read the next part.” John thrust the pages back at Sherlock.
Sherlock raised an eyebrow, but dutifully found his place in the story and started again.
“ ‘Who is there, who dares disturb my rest?’ the dragon roared.
The Little Hobbit who had found a treasure chest to hide behind quaked all the way to his furry toes hoping he wouldn’t be found out.
‘Come out’ the dragon insisted. ‘I can smeeeelllll you.’
Deciding he had no chance of escape, the Little Hobbit bravely stood to accept his fate. Instantly the dragon dove out and pounced, caging him between outstretched talons that pinned him to the ground.
‘So, how did you get in my lair, little thief? I had spells on the door.’
‘Please, sir,’ the Little Hobbit’s teeth were chattering so hard he could barely speak. ‘I meant no harm’ he lied. “The words over the door were written in Hobbitish. It wasn’t hard to read them.’
‘But there are no hobbits for miles and miles from here. Few people have even seen a hobbit, they never leave their shire. I felt certain no one would be able to read . . .’
The dragon broke off to bend his neck down, bringing his face closer to his little prey, and he breathed his scent in deeply. The little creature who writhed so appealingly in his talons smelled of brisk mountain winds, something sweet like honey, and a deep earthiness like good fresh soil turned over in the springtime. After being drenched in the smells of cold stone halls, and sharp metallic treasure, the dragon welcome the scent of simpler, softer things.
‘You must be a hobbit.’ The dragon concluded with some surprise. “I’ve never actually seen one before.”
‘But you wrote your password for hobbits to read,’ the Little Hobbit managed to squeak.
‘It was a joke. I got it from a book.’ The dragon shrugged, peering closer at the small thing in his mercy. He snaked out his long forked tongue and licked over the creature’s face. He tasted like sweet yeast rolls, something the dragon hadn’t had in years.
‘Please, sir if you’re going to eat me, do it and make it fast.’ The Little Hobbit screwed his eyes shut tight, bracing himself.
“Eat you? I wouldn’t dream of it,’ the dragon snorted. ‘You’re the most interesting thing to happen here in months.’
Though the hobbit wriggled and protested, the dragon used the tip of a talon to carefully strip away the creature’s clothes, holding him down to better examine him. The dragon ran his warm rough tongue delicately over the hobbit’s body into every crack and crevice noticing that after a few minutes, the creature was no longer trying to wiggle out of his grasp, but was spreading his legs to grant him better access.”
“OH MY GOD.” John sat up. “It’s porn, kinky inter-species porn.” He flapped a hand toward the pages in Sherlock’s hand. “What kind of sick fuck is your brother?”
“I never took you for a prude, John.”
“I’m not, it’s just . . .” John trailed off. He absolutely didn’t want to explain that the story had already made him half-hard in his jeans. “It’s weird . . . alright?” John crossed his arms tightly over his chest
“So what if it’s weird? It might be a clue of some sort. Do you mind if I continue?”
“No, fine, fine. Finish the damn thing.”
“Thank you.” Sherlock found his place again.
“The dragon brought the Little Hobbit to his climax easily, then tucked him up against his body to stay warm as he dozed afterwards. When the wee thing awoke, the dragon flipped him on his front, and repeated the process, licking into the hobbit until he was drowning in ecstasy. Later, when the intruder seemed to have fallen asleep for the night, the dragon found costly fur capes from a chest to drape around him. When his hobbit seemed well settled, the dragon slipped through a hidden crevice in the top of the mountain, and flew off to hunt.
The next morning, the Little Hobbit stretched and rolled awake to find an entire cart of produce and a freshly-roasted lamb awaiting his pleasure for breakfast.
‘Do you want some?’ he asked the dragon politely before he tore into the feast before him.
‘No I ate already. I prefer my food on the hoof, as it were,” the dragon said breezily, “but please, help yourself.’
The Little Hobbit tucked into his meal with gusto, and the dragon felt an unexpected pleasure course over him at watching the little one so enjoying his food. They talked as he ate of inconsequential things, the dragon asking after the hobbit’s journey, and his life back in the shire. When at last he was done, the dragon pressed the hobbit again why he had really come to his lair. With a blush, the Little Hobbit admitted to being on a mission to find the dwarves’ missing gem.
‘What this one, the glowing rock?’ the dragon asked, easily picking it out of the hoard of treasure with his claws.
‘Why yes, I think so.’
‘Oh, they can have it. I don’t care about it.’ The dragon shrugged. ‘To be honest I don’t care about any of it, it was here when I arrived.’
The Little Hobbit was excited to take the gem and leave, but the dragon shook his head. ‘I think not little thief. I’ve grown to enjoy your company. You aren’t leaving.’
‘But my friends—they’re waiting outside for me.’
‘Well, they can have the jewel, but they can’t have you. You’re mine now.’ The dragon flew to the entrance where the great stone blocked the entryway. With a few muttered words, the boulder creaked and rolled to the side. The band of dwarves camped outside were greatly surprised when an enormous dragon poked out to chuck their beloved gemstone at their feet.
‘There you’ve got what you came for. CLEAR OFF!’ he bellowed, punctuating his roar with a blast of flame. The dwarves offered no dissent. They quickly grabbed their things and ran, obviously chalking up the Little Hobbit as dead, and were heard of no more.
After that a sort of agreement seemed to have sprung up between the dragon and the hobbit. The Little Hobbit didn’t try to escape, and in exchange, the dragon brought him anything he desired to keep him well. Each morning, he presented the hobbit with new food that he had foraged, and each evening, he brought him to writhing orgasm in new and varied ways. One night he used the flat of his tongue to spank the hobbit quite soundly before wrapping his tongue around his cock to bring him off. The hobbit sobbed his thanks.
Many of the boxes heaped about the hall yielded practical things like plates and cups (though plated with gold,) and enough clothes that the Little Hobbit was never cold. The hobbit found that the dragon liked to have the scales scratched under his chin and along his back, and he would climb over him to perform this service, getting to places the dragon couldn’t easily reach himself.
‘You’re like a great house cat.’ The Little Hobbit smiled, scratching him behind an ear flap. The dragon rumbled out something like a deep purr in reply, and the Hobbit laughed in delight.
Eventually the day came when the dragon looked at the Little Hobbit and noticed that he was growing pale and wan living underground. He realized that a creature of green, and sun should not live this way. Though it pained him, he made his decision.
‘Hobbit, I want you to know that you are free to go. You may carry anything you’d like of the treasure, and return to your shire.’
The Little Hobbit’s mouth dropped open in surprised. ‘Are you not pleased with my company any longer, O Dragon?’
‘Your company is worth more to me than any costly item in this accursed lair, but I will not have you stay and live your life in the dark like this. You must go and be where you belong.’
‘But what of you?’ the hobbit protested. ‘You could come with me.’
‘I am a monster,’ the dragon sighed. ‘I must live outside the settlements of civilized creatures banished to the shadows where I belong.’
‘I won’t go.’ The Little Hobbit shook his head and stood up, bringing himself to his tallest height, which next to a dragon was hardly anything at all. ‘I won’t leave you. Don’t you know, where you are is my home now.’ He flung himself against the dragon’s side and held on. In that instant, a shimmer of pure magic rippled over them, and he found himself embracing not a great beast, but a tall thin man with eyes like summer rain.
The prince introduced himself and explained that he had been under a curse which they had just broken. When the hobbit had gotten over his shock, they found clothes and boots for the prince, and sacks to hold as many gems as they could carry. Side by side, they left the citadel to find what adventures they might in the wide world together.”
“God, I didn’t want to like it, and then it went all sweet.” John sighed. “Is that all of it?”
Sherlock flipped to the last page to reveal an illustration of the dwarves and the hobbit peering at the marks over the dragon’s sealed door.
“There. What do you make of all this? Sherlock passed it to John.
“Well, it doesn’t follow the plot of the Hobbit exactly. In the real story the dwarves are trying to retake the Mountain stronghold.”
“Plot, the plot of what?” Sherlock crinkled the bridge of his nose in confusion.
“The Hobbit? A famous children’s story? My mum used to read it to me when I was little. Don’t tell me you’ve deleted that.”
“Fine, I won’t tell you.” Sherlock shrugged. “But what do you make of it. What’s the clue?”
“Well, they were looking for a jewel. Is there anything in the place that might be like a large glowing rock? Or anything buried?”
“We need more data.” Sherlock shook his head. “Do we have this book here?”
“Oh, right, yeah, I think I saw it on the bookshelf.”
“Ah, then our quest begins in the games room.”
They assumed their positions against the door to activate the lock. It had become something of a usual routine, standing chest to chest, fingers set to the scanners on the wall to get in and out of the bedroom. At one point, they’d tried wedging it open, but an alarm had sounded that only grew more shrill until they’d allowed the door to slide shut. They’d agreed that it wasn’t that much of a hardship to spend a few minutes in an embrace each day to satisfy the building’s mad requirements.
“So you liked the part about the dragon holding down the . . . erm . . . hobbit, then?” Sherlock asked by John’s ear.
“What?” John frowned.
“Don’t be coy, John. You found it arousing. Was it the fantasy nature of the scenario or the dominance and submission?
“Jesus, I don’t have a thing for dragons.” John could feel his face heating. He ducked it as well as he could in the space between the door and Sherlock, and ended up sticking his nose in Sherlock’s armpit. He smelled comforting. “Yeah, alright, I had a girlfriend in uni who liked to play a bit with tying me up.” His words came muffled against Sherlock’s side.
“You liked it.” Sherlock dropped his voice even lower. John felt his cock give a hopeful twitch. It was almost a Pavlovian response at this point.
“Yeah, alright, I enjoyed it. We broke up after a few months, and I never had another partner interested in that.”
The door slid open behind them, and they moved on to the games room, eager to find the book. John slid the paperback copy off the shelf. It wasn’t the cover he remembered as a child, but it was the same old story. He gave it a cursory shake to see if anything was lodged inside the pages, but nothing shook loose.
“Damn. Well worth a try.”
“Are there any other books related to this one?” Sherlock squinted at the bookcase.
“Well, yeah there’s a whole series, The Lord of the Rings?”
“Can you remember the titles?”
“Hang on a minute. Yeah . . .” John looked up, searching his memory. “There’s The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.” He ticked them off on his fingers.
John helped Sherlock sift through their modest collection of books before concluding that The Hobbit was the only Tolkien book with them on the island.
“Perhaps the clue is something to do with the titles and we don’t need the actual books.” Sherlock furrowed his brow. “Rings? Kings? Towers?”
“That sounds like chess, well except for the ring bit,” John offered.
“Possibly. Let’s check the chess set.”
They spent some time going over all of the chess pieces and the board looking for hidden compartments, secret clues, markings, but after an hour, they decided it was nothing more than an ordinary chess game.
Sherlock wanted to sit and puzzle over things longer, but John made him relocate to the kitchen for something to eat.
“Come on, we’ll both think better on a full stomach.”
“You’ll think better. Digestion slows me down,” Sherlock clipped.
“Alright, Spock.” The side of John’s mouth tipped up, but he let Sherlock think in peace at the kitchen table until the meal was ready.
Sherlock looked at the bowl of pasta and lumpy sauce set in front of him, sniffing it disapprovingly.
“Don’t we have any more of that curry thing?”
“Sorry, that’s long gone,” John said. “You’re going to have branch out a bit, try some new things.”
“I hate trying new things,” Sherlock sneered.
“We need to make do with what we have, alright?” John snapped. “I’m not sure how long our supplies are meant to last.”
“Oh, of course.” Sherlock’s face fell. He picked up his fork and tried a bite contritely.
“Look, I’m sorry.” John blew out a breath. “I don’t mean to be a dick.”
“No, it’s fine. This situation would wear on anyone.” Sherlock reached out and placed a hand over John’s free one by his plate.
“It’s not your fault,” John said turning it over to thread their fingers together. “I just worry a bit. If we don’t manage to get the fence turned off and get out, we could run out of food. I don’t know if anyone’s actually monitoring things out here. I’d hate for us to be reduced to eating grass from outside.”
“Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea. If we needed to forage, I wonder what the island might provide.”
“I didn’t see much on our rambles, but who knows.” John let go of Sherlock to scoop up a bite of his food.
“Thankfully we’ve got things in the freezer still.”
“Yeah, but I am NOT eating stewed corpse.”
Sherlock looked horrified. “Well, of course not. We don’t know if they died from something communicable.”
John snorted a laugh, and they continued eating more companionably.
“Hmm. It’s not half bad,” Sherlock said, working through his plate with small, careful bites.
John grunted in reply, watching as Sherlock picked out any onions, setting them to the side, but declined to comment further.
He licked his lisp when Sherlock wiped his mouth and fingers fastidiously on his napkin. Posh boy.
“Why don’t we just read The Hobbit?” John suggested as the thought came to him. “Maybe the clue is in the story.”
“Why not?” Sherlock shrugged. “It’s not like my agenda is terribly packed at the moment.”
After they had finished eating, and Sherlock had insisted on doing the washing up, they returned to the games room. Getting comfortable on the sofa, they took turns reading the story aloud to each other.
John delighted at all the voices that Sherlock put on for the various characters. “You know you’re right good at that. Might want to consider a career on the stage if we ever get off this island.”
“Boring.” Sherlock waved it aside.
“Still, you’d be brilliant.”
“Well, acting DOES come in handy occasionally in detective work. It helps to have a variety of skills.”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
They read until their voices were sore, and John yawned wide enough to crack his jaw.
“Bed?” Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “We can always pick this back up again tomorrow.”
“I think so. I’m knackered.” John stretched his arms over his head, and Sherlock’s eyes followed the line of his shirt pulled taught over his chest.
They cradled each other in bed that night, weaving their limbs together, somehow not content to drift off to sleep unless they were touching as much of each other as possible.
In the morning, Sherlock surprised John by fashioning some eggy bread for breakfast out of a packet of rolls from the freezer, and some powdered egg and milk mixed together. He served it up with a small jar of berry jam.
“Shame we don’t have any syrup,” John said, tucking in, “but this is fantastic, thanks.”
“Yes, well, as you said, making do.”
They resumed their reading of The Hobbit after eating, John taking the lion’s share that day. When they got to the part with Smaug, the dragon, Sherlock snorted.
“I thought the dragon in our story was much nicer.”
“Well, yes, Smaug is the villain here. In that other story, the dragon was the princess locked in the tower, the damsel in distress.”
“I am not a damsel in distress.” Sherlock sat up taller. “Anyway it was a ridiculous bit of fluff. My brother has a warped sense of humor.”
“Yeah, I don’t much fancy being a hobbit.” John shook his head.
“I don’t know.” Sherlock tilted his head, his eyes twinkling. “You’ve got the height for it.”
“Oi, fuck you, you poncy git. I’m not that short. Just because I don’t have legs that go on for days . . .”
“You like my legs?” Sherlock leaned in.
“Of course I like your legs. I like all of you. You’re bloody gorgeous.”
“Oh, please.” The blush that stole over Sherlock’s pale skin was delightful. John left off being annoyed with the ridiculous man in favor of pulling him in closer for a kiss. It went on long enough to involve a tangling of tongues, but eventually they parted for air. The flush on Sherlock had settled down to his collar bones, and John wondered how far down it went.
“John, you’re perfect.” Sherlock breathed. “I don’t really want you any other way.”
“You do still look like a hobbit though.”
“For the love of . . .”
“No, see here, the book has illustrations.” Sherlock reached for the paperback that had tumbled to the floor, paging through it for evidence. When he landed on the picture of the dwarves and the hobbit outside the dragon’s door, he stopped.
“Honestly, this is just silly,” John said. “I don’t . . .”
“John, look.” Sherlock thrust the open page into his face.
“Yeah?” John turned it the right way round. “Oh, it looks like the picture from the Sir Boast A Lot story.”
“Yes, but there’s a difference. There are curly shapes for the words above the door in this picture. It was something different in ours.”
“Oh, you’re right, God. I think I left it in the kitchen.”
When John had retrieved the story, they were able to lay the pictures on the small coffee table side by side to compare. The illustrations were almost exactly alike except that in their story, the inscription over the door looked like a pattern of dots.
“I wonder what it means.” John scratched at his eyebrow.
“Oh.” Sherlock felt that wonderful sensation when something crucial slid into place. He leapt up and headed for the bookcase, searching through the shelves books for the last thing he needed. With a small cry of triumph, he returned holding a dictionary of Braille in his hand.
“Oh, the pattern is Braille,” John said. “Clever you.”
“I wasn’t clever earlier. I knew it looked familiar, but it just didn’t click.”
They paged through the book trying to match the shape of the dot patterns, finally realizing they were numbers. Sherlock got his laptop out, and typed in each number as they found them. When they had finished translating, they had a string of numbers, but no answer as to what it meant. Sherlock tried working out some sort of pattern to no avail.
“It’s useless, John. I don’t know what the numbers mean.” Sherlock fell back to the sofa with a huff. “Stupid, stupid . . .” he trailed off muttering, running a hand back through his hair.
“Well.” John pulled things closer to him. “Okay, we’ve got numbers, a bunch of them . . .” He peered at the drawing again. “Hey look. They seem to be in pairs. There’s a bit of space between each two.”
“Stupid, stupid . . . what?” Sherlock sat back up with start. “Pairs of number. From an illustration in a book. John, it could be a book code.”
“A book code. The first number designates the page and the second number is the specific word chosen. It’s ingenious. Unless you know the book being used, it’s almost impossible to crack.”
“Oh, right.” John watched as Sherlock snatched up the copy of “the Hobbit” to rifle through it. He had his doubts, but as Sherlock typed the words found, sense was actually emerging.
where clothes hang, tap left five times
“That could mean the cupboards downstairs where we first woke up,” John offered.
“Yes, but it could also mean one of the wardrobes in the bedroom where we’ve hung things. It’s closer, let’s start there.”
Again they stood sandwiched belly to belly outside the bedroom door waiting for it to open.
“That was good, Sherlock, really smart figuring the code out.”
“You helped as well, John.” Sherlock grinned. “Still, we can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve yet to put it to practical use.”
When they were finally let into the bedroom, they made a beeline for the nearest cupboard. Sherlock opened it to reveal his line of suits. They quickly pushed them aside to inspect the inside of the small space. Feeling around revealed no knobs, or indentations, no irregularities of any sort. Still they rapped along the walls in bursts of five with their knuckles. John finally found the right spot close to the floor. With a slight snick, the back wall slid aside revealing a small shallow space behind.
John looked up in shock.
“Well, what have we here?” Sherlock’s deep voice rolled out into the silence.
Inside, an array of floggers, paddles, ropes, and silk scarves in various colors hung neatly over pegs in the wall.
“Bloody hell,” John breathed. It looked like a candy shop of BDSM.
If John were truly honest with himself, he felt a rush of something hot and spiky rush through him at the sight of the bondage gear. It wasn’t a part of himself that he thought about much, but it was always there, lingering in the shadows. The idea of submitting, of letting go, letting someone else be in charge. It was a heady concept. Like a rush of cold water though, he remembered that it was Sherlock’s brother, or some other shady governmental cog who had set this up. It made his skin crawl.
“Oh, no. Just no.” John rose to his feet.
“John.” Sherlock blinked at him in surprise. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m no one’s lab rat.” John shook his head.
“Relax.” Sherlock was already reaching for the things, running his fingers over them. “We don’t have to actually USE any of these tools. We just need to search them. They might be another clue.”
John sighed. Reluctantly, he helped Sherlock empty the back of the cupboard, spreading the toys across the carpet of the bedroom floor for further inspection.
John couldn’t help the small frisson that ran up his spine at watching Sherlock pick up a flogger in his elegant fingers, snapping it against the bed with a dull thwack.
“Hmm, nothing unusual about it.” Sherlock inspected the handle, even went so far as to bite down on it.
John picked up the ropes to jolt himself out of staring at the man. They were black, and soft to the touch, but sturdy when tugged on. He found nothing unusual about them, though. They were just ropes.
Methodically they searched over each item until they had reached the conclusion that there was nothing particularly dodgy about any of them besides being proper dungeon toys. John had a crick in his back from sitting on the floor for so long. A glance at the window showed the sun was still out, and it looked like a nice day.
“Okay, I need a break. Let’s grab something to eat and go for a walk.” John was expecting resistance, but Sherlock simply grinned at him.
“Excellent idea. Shake the cobwebs out. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery for a fresh perspective.”
They ate something simple, gathered coats, and headed for the front door. After each of them had peered at the retinal scanners, the lock popped open, and they ventured out into the bright afternoon light. A fresh breeze carried in the smell of the sea. John pulled in a full lungful of air, and felt more clear-headed already.
They walked easily in comfortable silence, enjoying stretching their legs as they made a circuit around the island. Sherlock continued keep an eye on the fence and the wall, but John just looked at the green grass, and the blue sky stretching over them. A long-necked sea bird flew overhead, squawking loudly, and John stopped to track its progress. Sherlock’s gaze lifted to mirror his.
“Must be nice having all that freedom,” Sherlock observed. “Come and go as you please.”
“Mmm.” John nodded. “Not like us on this island you mean.”
“Oh, perhaps I mean it on a metaphysical level. So much easier being a bird, don’t you think?” Sherlock squinted into the sun that was lowering toward the horizon.
“I suppose. Just eat, sleep and fuck.” John wrinkled his brow. “Do birds fuck?”
“Well, they don’t reproduce by parthenogenesis so I suppose they must.”
A stronger wind whipped over them and John shivered. “Let’s head back.”
Sherlock selected a movie to watch that night while John fetched a half a bottle of wine they hadn’t finished earlier and two glasses from the kitchen.
“So what did you pick?” he asked, returning to watch Sherlock cue up the machine.
“Memento.” Sherlock joined him on the sofa. “It looked . . . not too predictable.”
“Oh, no, it’s not. It’s been ages since I saw it, but I remembered I liked it. Very twisty. It’ll be right up your alley.”
Sherlock shot him a strange look and seemed as if he might say something, but John headed him off, leaning in to kiss him before handing him his wine. “Don’t guess anything ahead of time, just watch it, okay?”
When they returned to the bedroom to sleep, John was somewhat horrified to nearly stumble on the many sex toys still spread across the floor. He’d somehow managed to forget about them. They set about gathering the collection up, dumping it onto the wardrobe floor as the back wall had managed to re-shut itself.
John didn’t say another word about the bedroom aids, and neither did Sherlock. They rolled together under the covers and had a very satisfying mutual wank. John didn’t think he’d ever get over Sherlock’s beautiful hands. Just having them touch him shot his heart rate up. Everything about Sherlock was so more, more beautiful, more elegant, more brilliant. He wondered idly before he dropped off if Sherlock would have given him a second glance if they’d just met somewhere in London.
The next two days were fairly uneventful. Sherlock went back to his lab and John finished The Hobbit, and then found a novel he hadn’t read yet.
Finally over dinner on the second day, Sherlock drained his water glass, and looked at John. “I think we should try out some of the bondage gear.”
“What?” John put down his fork.
“You were aroused by certain parts of that story involving dominance and submission. By your own admission that’s something you’ve enjoyed in the past. Plus, the sex toys intrigued you. I think we should explore it together.”
“I don’t know about intrigued. Some of that stuff scares the crap out of me.”
“We don’t have to do anything you don’t like. It’s not a checklist.” Sherlock looked frustrated that John was being so slow. “It would be about finding out what we both like.”
“Oh, God, Sherlock, I don’t know if I want to get into all that.”
“Why not? You enjoy the fantasy of being dominated.”
John could feel his ears heat. “Well, yeah, I suppose so.”
“How does pain come into it?”
“I don’t know if it does.” John shrugged. “My girlfriend in uni, Julie, we didn’t get that far with it really. She’d handcuff me to the bed, and give me blowjob. It was really just about . . . oh I don’t know, surrendering to the moment.”
“John, don’t you trust me?”
Sherlock looked so hurt, that John scrambled to reassure him. “NO, love, no. Of course not. Okay, fine. We can try some of it. What the hell.”
“Good. We can start tonight.” Sherlock looked all together too pleased with himself.
“But does this actually interest you too? I mean you aren’t just humoring me . . . or running an experiment?”
Sherlock’s smile dropped. “Are all those things mutually exclusive?”
“No I guess not, I just wanted to make sure . . .”
“Isn’t this what lovers do?” Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “Experiment to see what pleases them?”
“Alright, yeah. Of course they do.”
“Good, then it’s settled. Do we have any more of those chocolate biscuits?”
“Yes. We do.” John smiled fondly at him. “Finish your veg first, though.”
John’s nervousness returned when they had adjourned to the bedroom. Sherlock looked so excited though, and John had to admit that just the idea of it had him half-hard in his trousers. They quickly sorted past the floggers, settling on a paddle and the lengths of rope to try.
“What about the things in your bedside table?” Sherlock asked.
“Oh, right.” John moved to place his hand down on the scanner, and the drawer popped open. He transferred the lube, condoms, hand-cuffs and vibrating dildo to the table’s top.
“What do you want to use from that?”
“Erm, hand cuffs to start and see how it goes?”
“Do we need a safeword?”
John looked at Sherlock as if he’d grown two heads.
“Isn’t that the done thing?”
“Yeah, I suppose it can be, but I don’t really fancy anything that intense.” John licked his lips. “How about I just say stop if I want to stop.”
“That works.” Sherlock nodded.
“How should we . . .”
“Take your clothes off and lie on the bed.” Sherlock hadn’t raised his voice but the tone had taken on a hint of steel that had John peeling off his clothes and lying on the bed before he’d thought twice about it.
“Good, John. Well done.”
John felt something swell in him even though all he’d done was undress and lie down. Sherlock moved slowly, but with purpose, attaching the padded, leather hand cuffs to one of John’s wrists. He threaded the chain through a slat in the headboard before pulling John's other arm up to cuff it alongside. When all seemed secure, he made sure the key was on his bedside table where he could see it.
John licked his lips as he watched Sherlock unwinding a length of rope. He tied it around one of his ankles in a complicated knot, then passing it under the bed, pulled it over to secure the other one. When he pulled on the end, the rope drew taut, effectively pinning John’s legs to the mattress.
“How is that?” Sherlock’s deep, honeyed voice rumbled out soothingly.
“Yeah, good.” John flexed his limbs, finding himself well caught. Rather than struggle, he relaxed into the feeling.
“You need to tell me if your shoulder bothers you.” Sherlock lay a hand gently to the scar on John’s upper chest. “Why don’t we try a number system. One to ten. If all is well it’s a ten, if you need to stop, it’s close to one. Alright?”
“Do you want a blindfold?”
“Not this time.”
Ah. Sherlock’s mind went off on several tangents. Already John was agreeing to future sessions. That was promising.
Sherlock ran his fingers over John, just the tips, gently stroking him in long passes. This is your body, it’s connected. John’s eyes slid closed.
When he passed over John’s armpit, the man twitched. Ah, ticklish there. Sherlock made a point to avoid the area on his next stroke. He skirted any typical erogenous zones as well, running over the planes of John’s chest, the softness of his belly, the rough fur of his legs. He watched in fascination as John’s cock darkened and swelled.
“What’s the number?” Sherlock asked.
“Um, ten.” John’s voice was already sluggish.
“I’m picking up the paddle.” Sherlock warned waiting to see if John replied. When none was forthcoming, he lifted the small leather thing and used it to stroke over John, almost as if he were covering him with paint.
John’s breathing hitched.
The first strike was light, against the inside of John’s thigh. John startled but said nothing. Sherlock continued dropping light smacks against John’s thighs, inner and outer, along his flank. They left a satisfying bloom on John’s skin.
John writhed in his bonds, pressing his lips tight to remain silent.
“Nuuumbeeer?” Sherlock drawled near his ear.
“Um, ten,” John breathed.
Sherlock reared back and dropped a harder crack against John’s right inner thigh. John finally made a noise at that, deep in his throat.
Ah, too much. Sherlock backed off, dropping the toy. He returned to tracing John’s body with his hand, this time leaning in with a firmer touch, soothing the reddened flesh. John’s cock twitched. With his next pass, Sherlock brushed fingers across John’s ball sack. He was rewarded with a small groan.
“Just a moment.” Sherlock lay a hand to John’s leg as he moved aside to retrieve the lube, a condom, and the inexplicably purple vibrating dildo. He set all on the bed.
I’m releasing your legs so I can have better access to you. John nodded as Sherlock loosened the knots on one leg and freed it, leaving the rope to trail from his other ankle. Pushing John’s legs up in a vee, Sherlock moved in closer. He coated his fingers with slick from the bottle before sliding them between John’s crease seeking the pucker within. A finger slipped inside easily, curling forward.
“Nnngggg.” John bit his lip.
“No, let me hear you.”
Sherlock slipped another finger inside, and allowed a rhythm to form as he rocked his hand into John, pleased when his lover moaned appreciatively.
“How’s your shoulder?”
“Your shoulder, okay?”
“mmmmm . . . okay.”
“I’m getting the vibrator.”
John gave something like a nod.
Sherlock removed his fingers from John. Plucking the dildo from the bed, he quickly sheathed it in a condom, and applied a liberal dollop of lube to coat.
“Incoming.” Sherlock smiled as he set the toy to John’s arse. After a few gentle pushes, he managed to slide it home.
John grunted in response. Sherlock kept a grounding hand to John’s thigh as he carefully pulled the toy out and slid it back in. He leaned in and licked a stripe over one of John’s nipples.
John thrashed his head back and forth over the duvet, his breath now coming in harsh pants.
“You like that don’t you? Like having your arse stretched open?” Sherlock pitched his voice as low as it would go. “I have to tell you, I love seeing you like this, John. Completely under my control.” Sherlock flicked the button that turned the vibrations on.
John arched off the bed.
“You’re a mess aren’t you? Begging for it. In fact, why don’t you beg for me. Do you want me to stop, John?”
“Noooo, god, noo.”
“I wonder if you could come from this alone.” Sherlock angled the vibrator to better hit John’s prostrate. John had already begun an on-going keening. It upped in volume.
John’s cock strained against his stomach, hard and flushed. It looked as if it were fairly crying out for a touch. Sherlock ignored it as much as he ignored the throb in his own pants. John looked as though he were in pain though, writhing over the bed.
“I need a number John. One to ten.”
“Ssseven . . . I need, oh I need . . .”
Sherlock shut the vibrator off. John’s ragged breath fell harsh in the resulting silence.
“You want to come, don’t you?”
“Mmmmm, god.” John bit at his lower lip again. “Please.”
“Tell me when you’re getting close.” Sherlock flipped the switch and set the toy buzzing again.
John writhed over the bed.
“Make noise for me, John, make noise and I’ll let you come.”
A symphony of grunts, and groans, and delicious noises of near pain issued from John as Sherlock rotated the toy slowly inside him. Sherlock placed a hand on his hip. He could feel the vibrations coursing through John.
“I need a number. How do you feel?”
“Fucking . . . fuck . . . ‘leven.”
“Sorry eleven wasn’t part of the initial parameters, but I’ll take that as a positive.” Sherlock drank in the writhing form that was John. He looked nearly edible with a fine sheen of sweat over him, and a gorgeous flush across his chest. Taking pity on him, Sherlock let a finger swipe along his needy erection.
“Gonna, oh god, gonna . . .”
When Sherlock turned off the toy, John unleashed such a variety of curses, Sherlock couldn't help being impressed.
“Oh no. You’re going to need to be more patient than that.”
“Hnnngggg.” John whined through his nose.
Sherlock set the vibrator going again, before grabbing the lube to slick up his fingers. He leaned forward to take John’s cock in hand, sliding the foreskin along his steely length. John made an unearthly sound of relief.
“Come for me, John. Come for me.” Sherlock rumbled.
John sobbed when his orgasm finally rolled over him, pumping white stripes over his belly up to his chest.
“Oh, GOD, stop, stop.”
Sherlock lost no time in switching off the vibrator, and removing it to toss aside. He shucked his trousers and pants off in one movement, finally allowed himself to take care of his own aching erection. Climbing over John, he pressed against him, sliding his cock through the mess on his belly, enjoying the sheer heat of him. Quickly he stuttered out his own release, adding to the mess.
When the earth had stopped quaking, Sherlock rolled to the side to lie curled against John. The man had gone charmingly boneless. Sherlock petted over him, soothing him as he came back to himself.
“Number?” Sherlock whispered.
“God, I don’t know. I don’t.” John’s eyes remained tightly closed as he furrowed his brow, eyebrows nearly meeting.
“Shh, shhh, it’s alright.” Sherlock smoothed a hand over John’s side until he had settled again.
When John finally opened his eyes, they had gone liquid. He had never looked more gorgeous.
“I love you.” John smiled.
Sherlock wasn’t sure there was enough room in his heart to contain the feeling that rose over him. “John,” he choked. “I . . . too.”
“Would you mind getting my hands free?” John rattled at the hand cuffs.
“Yes. Yes, of course.” Sherlock hastened to find the key to release him. As he unlocked John’s first wrist, Sherlock realized the slat of the headboard was wiggling loose in his hand. He quickly unlocked the other cuff, and let John reclaim the use of his arms.
John groaned as he pulled them back down, rubbing his wrists to bring circulation back.
“I think we broke the bed.” Sherlock worried at the strip of wood.
“Oh, well. I suppose we can consider it collateral damage.” John huffed a laugh.
Sherlock made a small cry when the slat slid open and a metal cylinder fell into his palm.
“What? What is it?”
“It was hidden in the headboard,” Sherlock said, sliding down the bed to show John his find. It was small and thin, not unlike a pill carrier. Further examination revealed a top that screwed off.
“God, now what?” John leaned up on one elbow to watch.
Sherlock pulled the cylinder open, and found a curled piece of paper inside. He coaxed it out with his fingers, and spread it flat to read . . . Who you really are.
“What the hell?” John squinted at the message. “What does that mean?”
“No idea. I think tomorrow will be a better time to tackle this though.” Sherlock transferred the tube and the paper to his table.
“Yeah. God, I’m wrung out.” John passed a hand over his face.
Sherlock reached out to grip John’s shoulder. “Thank you for sharing that with me.”
“God, you’re thanking me?” John shook his head. “That was incredible. I think I hit the wall I came so hard.”
Suddenly Sherlock couldn’t stand being so far away from John. He scooted down the bed to gather him close.
John hummed a contented sound as Sherlock tugged him into place, still seeming more rag doll than human. Sherlock squeezed him tight, breathing in the smell of his hair, his throat suddenly feeling tight. When he could speak again, he said in a remarkably steady tone, “Well, that seems like an experiment that bears repeating.”
John huffed a laugh. “Yes, I guess it does.”