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Picking up the Pieces

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It makes his breath catch in his throat and his head buzz, but his hand is steady as a rock as he reaches forward and hooks his finger underneath the edge of the leather collar and tugs lightly. Sherlock rises up off his heels easily at the lightest pull though his head remains bowed. John leans down and presses a brief kiss to the dark curls then his other hand comes up, fingertips lightly brushing over the darkening bruise on his lover's cheek before finally tilting his head up for a proper kiss.

Sherlock tastes of tea and the blood from his split lip, but John keeps the kiss achingly gentle. He lets go of the collar and steps back, but Sherlock remains as John left him: face tilted up, lips slightly parted, eyes closed and his long, lean body arching upwards from his knees. His bare skin is littered with the dark smudges of other people's ungentle touches: an angry swathe of red and purple across his thigh; a misshapen circle on his calf almost black in the low light; several individual fingerprints on his upper arm. There will be more come the morning when they've had time to show. There are scratches on the back of his hand too and another at his temple, offsetting the darkened prominence of his cheekbone. It makes John coldly, killingly furious, but all he could do, he's already done. Lestrade has guards posted at the hospital doors, but it's merely procedure as John made very certain that the occupants wouldn't be going anywhere soon.

Sherlock isn't hard yet, but his cock is stirring beneath John's steady regard. John steps back in; the lure of the rarely-worn collar drawing him, its contrast against Sherlock’s pale skin is stark and beautiful. The worn leather of John's belt hides the wrists where handcuffs reddened the delicate flesh; it wraps snugly around several times, binding the muscular forearms carefully and completely from the elbow down.

The doctor in him wouldn't have chosen to spend their evening like this, but John will always try to give Sherlock what he wants and he was quite specific: a mark of John’s to outweigh each of theirs - hands and teeth are his weapons of choice.

Tomorrow John will do his best to help Sherlock heal, love him, cherish him and comfort him, but tonight is for what Sherlock needs and so John will own him.

The first blow is an open-handed slap to the unmarked cheek, a lesson John learned long before Sherlock: a palm will fire off more nerve-endings than a fist, enough sometimes to even make a person pass out, but it will cause almost no actual damage.

Sherlock gasps, his head snapping to the side with the force of it. His lips turn glossy red with blood from the reopened split and when John sees that he can't help it. He drops to his knees in front of his lover, hands coming up to capture Sherlock's face as he takes that bloody Cupid's bow with his own lips, plundering them confidently, until he is finally forced to pull back for forgotten air.

Sherlock's lips are smeared red, the false flush on his face from the slap deepening with a real one. His breath is rasping as he tries to pull in enough air without losing his posture and John puts his hand on Sherlock's shoulder, fingers gripping tightly, restraining but also offering an extra point of support. When Sherlock’s breathing has almost settled, John lifts his hand just enough to curl his fingers into a claw; he digs down hard enough that his short nails break the skin. He sees and feels Sherlock shudder at the burn as he drags long scratches over the round of his shoulder and down curve of his pectoral muscle, stopping just teasingly short of the nipple. He waits until Sherlock has ceased to shiver in response before he follows each of the four lines back up with his tongue, enjoying the way the muscle beneath tightens briefly at the sting before relaxing again.

For a moment John eases back, regarding Sherlock carefully, noting the way his breathing is a bit ragged. He doesn't have the stamina tonight and they both know it; they also both know that Sherlock will push himself far beyond the point of exhaustion if John asks it of him just as they both know that John never would.

John leans forward again and places both hands on Sherlock's thighs; his fingers just long enough to span the heavy muscle. He digs his fingers in tightly, the pads this time rather than the nails, and he pushes his lover's knees wider; two sets of fingerprint bruises to trump the single set on Sherlock’s arm.

Sherlock's cock hardens fully at the exposure and despite himself John grins as he leans forward. He breathes hotly over Sherlock's cock and watches a bead of liquid form at the tip. He does it again. And again. Until he can feel Sherlock straining forward as much as he can without moving a muscle. Carefully, he places one hand flat in the centre of Sherlock's chest and pushes.

An involuntary sound escapes with his breath as, under John’s steady force, Sherlock leans back until his shoulders touch the floor, his legs still bent beneath him. It’s an awkward position, but John’s seen him contort himself more than that in the yoga-tai-chi-whatever-it-is he practises to retain his flexibility. John hooks his fingers around the leather at Sherlock's wrists and slowly draws his arms over his head, the command to keep them there implicit, but no less forceful. Sherlock is totally exposed, vulnerable, marked and bloody and so achingly beautiful.

John dips forward again, bathing Sherlock's now straining erection in another caress of warm breath, each time coming closer and closer to flesh. On the fourth pass he shifts, moving quickly, diverting at the last moment to bare his teeth and latch onto the prominent hip bone. The involuntary sound Sherlock makes is desperate and needy and so gorgeous John can't help his own full-body shudder. He licks and scrapes until the pale skin is red and sore and the mark will last a week at least. Sherlock's breathing is coming in breathy whines before John finally decides he is finished with this marking, placing a gentle kiss on the abused flesh in benediction.

John travels upwards then, slicking a path with his tongue over the taut stomach, teeth scraping occasionally, randomly, until Sherlock's chest is heaving with each ragged breath. John is hard as steel in his jeans and he watches the way Sherlock reacts when he hears John lower the zip. He wraps his hand around his own cock and it feels almost wrong, but he doesn't take his eyes off his lover as he begins to stroke, his grip punishingly tight. It hurts a bit, but not enough to stop him coming, and he bites his lip as he climaxes, hot stripes of come landing across Sherlock's exposed belly and cock. Sherlock twitches almost violently, but still manages not to break the position in which John put him.

John isn't even out of breath, his orgasm perfunctory at best because this is not about him. He drops forward, planting his fists on either side of Sherlock's ribs, caging his lover beneath him. He can feel the heat from Sherlock's skin, see the gleam of sweat on it, not fear sweat now, but arousal. He sucks Sherlock's cock into his mouth with no warning and relishes the broken cry as Sherlock comes undone all at once, coming down his throat in long, aching pulses, broken in a way that violence could never accomplish.

John’s hands are gentle and deft as he slips them behind Sherlock's knees and straightens the long legs out. He draws the bound hands down and unwraps the leather from them, fingers ghosting soothingly over the faint red marks. Lastly he pulls Sherlock in close to him and drags the blanket from the couch to cover them both. It terrifies him sometimes that for all the violence they see and deal and are dealt, he is the only one able to break the great detective; it terrifies him more that he's not only allowed, but encouraged to. But every single piece is John’s to cherish as he puts them back together again.

John presses a soft kiss to the dark curls, feeling the subtle relaxation in the long body that tells him Sherlock is already on the verge of sleep; he wishes it were so easy for him. He should have got there sooner, should have set aside their argument and followed quicker, should have prevented the damage that required tonight’s redress - the violence he visited upon the criminals and on his own lover.

“Shh,” Sherlock orders, voice rumbling low and rough as his arm slides around John’s waist to bind them closer, “Sleep.”

Despite everything John has to smile, monosyllables the surest way to know he’s done well this evening. Sherlock forgives him far more readily than he ever forgives himself; maybe they’ll talk about it tomorrow and maybe they won’t, but for tonight at least there is peace.