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John Watson's Twelve Days of Hiccups

Chapter Text

 

Preparations were well underway for what was slated, against all odds, to become the second annual 221B Baker Street Christmas party, but there was a little hiccup in the works. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t just a little hiccup. It was a truly, amazingly, unbelievably intractable case of hiccups.

 

For John Watson — the one thus afflicted — this was a source of intense irritation. For Sherlock Holmes — his mad scientist of a flatmate — it was a golden opportunity for experimentation.

 

“Now that we’re past the 48 hour mark, your hiccups can officially be upgraded from transient to persistent,” Sherlock announced, with more relish than John thought the case warranted. “I’ve been researching possible cures, and there are several I’d like to try out.”

 

“I don’t want to be your (hic) guinea pig!”

 

“Not to worry. The first treatment is one I’m sure you’ll enjoy. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a spoonful of sugar was found to be effective in 19 out of 20 patients.”

 

“And you promise you haven’t (hic) drugged the sugar?”

 

“Stop being so suspicious. That was one time! Come on.”

 

“Fine.”

 

John watched Sherlock carefully measure out a level teaspoon of sugar. He opened his mouth obligingly as Sherlock extended the spoon toward his lips. The extreme sweetness zinged over his tongue.

 

“Is it working?” Sherlock asked.

 

“Maybe. I’m not sure (hic) yet.” John groaned as the end of his sentence was interrupted by another hiccup. “Damn it!”

 

“We’ll wait 15 minutes, then try another dose.”

 

They tried another dose. No effect. They tried upping the dose to two teaspoons, then to a tablespoon. Still no effect. Sherlock insisted on repeating the experiment every 15 minutes until John had a headache, a stomach ache, and a massive sugar high on top of his undiminished hiccups.

 

“I give up,” John said at last. “This isn’t (hic) working! I must be the 1 out of 20 patients sugar doesn’t cure.”

 

“Don’t worry,” Sherlock said in what he seemed to believe was a soothing tone. “I have another remedy we can try tomorrow.”

 

Somehow, John didn’t find this reassuring.

 

Chapter Text

John slept poorly. He supposed that was only to be expected, considering the amount of sugar he’d eaten the previous day, and the fact that his hiccups still hadn’t gone away. At the first light of dawn, he stumbled blearily down the stairs to find Sherlock already up and dressed, looking remarkably chipper.

 

“Do we have a (hic) case?” John asked.

 

“Of a sort. It’s the case of your persistent hiccups. I’ve made a spreadsheet of yesterday’s data. Today we’ll be experimenting with a different remedy.”

 

“Please nothing sweet! I still feel sick from (hic) all that sugar.”

 

“You won’t be consuming anything today. Well, aside from the tediously regular meals you always insist on. All we’ll need for your treatment today is this.” Sherlock gestured theatrically to a brown paper bag sitting on the kitchen counter.

 

“What’s (hic) the bag for?” John asked suspiciously.

 

“To cover the head.”

 

“Sherlock, I swear, if you’ve nicked another severed head from the (hic) morgue I’m telling Molly!”

 

“The head of the hiccup sufferer, John. That would be you,” Sherlock said, rolling his eyes as though John was being ridiculous to suggest there might have been a pilfered head in the bag.

 

John rolled his own eyes right back, since they both knew full well that Sherlock regularly brought human body parts into the flat. He tried to punctuate his eye-roll with an indignant sniff, but was interrupted by another hiccup.

 

“So I’m just supposed to put the (hic) bag over my head?”

 

“Yes. Physiological studies have demonstrated a mechanism by which breathing inside a paper bag can be an effective cure, with the frequency of hiccups decreasing as arterial PCO2 rises.”

 

“How long do I (hic) have to keep it on?”

 

“As long as it takes.”

 

With a sigh, John sat down in his chair and placed the bag over his head. Twenty hiccup-filled minutes later, he pulled it off in disgust.

 

“This (hic) isn’t working!”

 

“It is working. While your head was in the bag, your hiccups decreased from 28 per minute to 24 per minute. That's a significant result — you should be happy.”

 

“Oh, I’m bloody (hic) delighted! Couldn’t you tell? I guess it was hard to read my (hic) expression, what with the bag over my head. Here—” John stomped over to the desk, grabbed a marker, and drew a big smiley face on the bag “—now you’ll be able to see just how (hic) happy I am!”

 

John jammed the bag back over his head and collapsed into his chair with an irritated huff. Sherlock burst out laughing, and John couldn’t help his answering giggle. Unfortunately, his merriment was soon interrupted by more hiccups.

 

John sat in his chair with the bag over his head and hiccuped. He dozed on and off — and hiccuped. He thought of all the things he’d rather be doing — and hiccuped. After what felt like hours, he snapped:

 

“I (hic) hate this! I’m bored out of my mind. And I must look a right (hic) idiot, just sitting here with this bag over my head.”

 

“Actually, you look rather cheerful. But your expression doesn’t match your tone. Let me help with that.”

 

John could hear Sherlock striding over to the desk before returning to him. He felt the bag rotate a quarter turn. There was pressure against the side of his head as Sherlock drew two circles near the top with a diagonal slash over each, a line down the middle, and an inverted U at the bottom. Then the bag rotated another quarter turn, leaving Sherlock’s newly-drawn angry face in the front.

 

 

 

“There,” Sherlock said, with a smile in his voice. “Now you look quite fearsome. While we’re waiting for your hiccups to abate, I have just the thing to soothe your savage breast.”

 

A moment later, Sherlock’s violin rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen filled the flat. Under the paper bag, John found himself smiling, in spite of his hiccups.

Chapter Text

The paper bag trick had been a limited success. Yes, John’s hiccups had eventually diminished from 28 per minute to 11 per minute, but that was still 11 hiccups per minute too many. John was looking forward to seeing whether Sherlock had a more effective cure up his sleeve. Looking forward to seeing anything, really, since he’d spent the bulk of the previous day with his head in a bag. He was tired of being literally in the dark about what his mad flatmate was up to.

 

“What new remedy are you (hic) cooking up?” he asked.

 

Sherlock grinned. “You’ve accidentally lit on a rather apt turn of phrase. Today we’ll be experimenting with vinegar.” 

 

John groaned.

 

“Don’t whinge, John. You like vinegar. I’ve seen the appalling way you douse your fish and chips with the stuff.”

 

“I can’t stomach fish and (hic) chips this early in the morning.”

 

“Not a problem, since you won’t be having any. A case report in the Journal of Palliative Medicine describes the protocol we’ll be using. One teaspoon of vinegar taken by mouth should result in an immediate decrease in frequency and intensity of hiccups. The dosage may be repeated every two hours until complete cessation occurs.”

 

“A teaspoon of vinegar every two hours? That’ll dissolve the enamel right off my (hic) teeth, not to mention eating a hole through my stomach lining.”

 

“How you do exaggerate, John. As a doctor, you must be well aware that consuming up to two tablespoons of vinegar per day is perfectly safe, and can have many health benefits.”

 

“Fine. But that means no more than six teaspoons. If I’m not cured after the (hic) sixth dose, we’re done.”

 

“That works out perfectly, since I have six different types of vinegar I’d like to experiment with. I’ll even let you choose the order.”

 

“How generous of you.”

 

 

Sherlock ignored John’s sarcasm. “Here — in addition to the malt vinegar you favour for your chips, I’ve also procured distilled white, apple cider, balsamic, red wine, and rice vinegars. Which would you like to begin with?”

 

“Whichever one is most (hic) likely to cure these bloody hiccups!” 

 

“Well, if we already knew the answer to that, it wouldn’t be much of an experiment, now would it? The study I read was extremely remiss in not mentioning the type of vinegar used.”

 

“Just give me the apple cider vinegar, then. That seems like the (hic) most breakfasty one.”

 

“You do have a way with words, John. One breakfasty vinegar, coming up.”

 

Sherlock shook the bottle vigorously before pouring the vinegar into a teaspoon and holding it to John’s lips. John reluctantly opened his mouth.

 

“Eeurgh!”

 

Sherlock laughed as he started his stopwatch. 

 

John was too busy shaking his head and dabbing at his streaming eyes to immediately notice what he wasn’t doing — hiccupping. Once he’d recovered from the acidic burn of the vinegar enough for his face to lose its puckered frown, he gave Sherlock a cautiously optimistic smile.

 

“I think it’s working!”

 

“Excellent.”

 

“Oh, what a relief! I wish we’d tried this two days ago, instead of starting with the sugar. The taste of vinegar is way worse, but the result is worth it.”

 

“But then we would have missed out on all the fun with the paper bag yesterday,” Sherlock teased.

 

John flipped him a two-fingered salute. Then he hiccupped.

 

“Damn it!”

 

Sherlock clicked the stopwatch. “Three minutes and forty-seven seconds. We’ll compare that with the results of the next type of vinegar in a couple of hours.”

 

John just sighed. And hiccupped.

 

Two hours later, they tried the balsamic vinegar, with a similar result. Two hours after that came the rice vinegar, then the distilled white vinegar, then the red wine vinegar, and finally the malt vinegar. Each caused John’s hiccups to cease, but the effects never lasted more than five minutes. 

 

By the time he’d choked down the last variety of vinegar, John felt as though his face was frozen in a permanent grimace. Sherlock — who had been teasing him all day about being a ‘sour puss’ — now surprised him with an unexpected turn of sympathy.

 

“I’m sorry, John. I really thought this would work. I promise I’ll come up with something better for tomorrow. Is there anything I can do tonight to make it up to you?”

 

“I could really go for some fish and chips to soak up that lingering taste of (hic) malt vinegar on my tongue.”

 

“Get your coat. I’m buying.”

 

Chapter Text

 

When Sherlock had promised to come up with something better to cure his hiccups, this is not what he’d imagined, John thought ruefully, as he stood, naked and trembling, with one forearm pressed firmly against his mad flatmate’s throat. 

 

“What. The. Hell?!” John gritted out, once he’d regained the power of speech. 

 

Sherlock made a choked sound, and John stepped back to release him.

 

“I was attempting to frighten away your hiccups. You mentioned the other day that the shower scene in Psycho had terrified you as a child, so I thought this would be an effective scenario.”

 

“I am a war veteran — trained in hand-to-hand combat — suffering from PTSD — and you thought it would be a good idea to come at me in the shower wielding a butcher knife?!”

 

 

Sherlock glanced down at the knife now in John’s hand.  “I admit I may have miscalculated.”

 

“You think? Sherlock, I could have killed you.”

 

“Yes. Well. Thank you for not doing that, then.”

 

“Here,” John said, handing the knife back to Sherlock. “Put this in the kitchen where it belongs.”

 

“Yes, John,” Sherlock said meekly. He sidled out of the bathroom, leaving John shivering with cold and the after-effects of adrenaline. 

 

Stepping back under the (mercifully still hot) water to rinse the shampoo out of his hair, John let out a heartfelt sigh. Then he hiccupped. Damn! He hadn’t even realised Sherlock’s plan to scare the hiccups out of him had worked until they started back up again.

 

Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, John was left with an uncomfortable mixture of horror and embarrassment. Horror at the thought of what he could have done to Sherlock in the blind panic of being confronted by what he’d mistakenly perceived to be a life-threatening situation. And embarrassment at his body’s instinctual reaction to finding himself naked and pressed up against Sherlock.

 

John looked down at his still half-hard cock. Was it possible Sherlock hadn’t noticed? 

 

Not bloody likely. 

 

Living with the world’s most observant man — a man for whom John had been developing some decidedly non-platonic feelings — was becoming more and more of a minefield every day. If Sherlock really wanted to scare the hiccups out of him, John thought wryly, all he’d need to do was hint that he was able to deduce John’s fantasies. 

 

John had been afraid to even masturbate lately, for fear Sherlock would know exactly what he’d been thinking about while he did so. Things were getting a bit desperate now, though, and he’d have to take care of himself somehow. There was no way he could face Sherlock with a lingering erection.

 

His cock gave a hopeful twitch at that thought. Oh no you don’t, John told it sternly. Then he ruthlessly cranked the shower all the way to cold.

 

Chapter Text

“I apologise again for my methods yesterday. I should have known better than to allow myself to be swayed by folk wisdom. Rest assured that today’s remedy is based on verified scientific evidence.”

 

John — figuring the less said about the previous day’s debacle the better — kept his mouth shut.

 

Not needing a response, Sherlock went on. “I assume you’re familiar with the Valsalva manoeuvre?”

 

“Yes. It’s useful for transiently increasing the tone of the (hic) vagus nerve, so cardiologists sometimes recommend it to patients with supraventricular tachycardia as a means of stopping the (hic) arrhythmia.”

 

“Exactly. Research has shown that it can also be an effective cure for hiccups. You’ll need to hold for 15 seconds.”

 

John took a deep breath. Keeping his mouth closed, he pinched his nose, tightened his diaphragm, and attempted to exhale forcefully. There was a satisfying pop in his ears. Soon his lungs started to ache with the pressure. 

 

“Time,” Sherlock said, holding up his stopwatch.

 

John released his breath with a whoosh.

 

“God, I hope that worked,” he panted.

 

“So do I. Repeating the procedure is not recommended, due to potential side effects.”

 

John hiccupped, then groaned. “Was that your last cure?”

 

“No, I have at least half a dozen more.”

 

“Then let’s try another right (hic) now.”

 

“You know we have to experiment with each method on a separate day in order to be sure which one was actually the cure. If we try something else now there will be no way to know whether the results are a delayed reaction to the Valsalva maneuver or whether they were caused by the second remedy.”

 

“But I’m going mad with these (hic) hiccups!”

 

“It’s for science, John,” Sherlock said, as he entered the latest data on his laptop. “We can spend the rest of the day planning our Christmas party. That should keep you distracted.”

 

John’s temper snapped. 

 

 

“Christmas is cancelled!”

 

“Oh, John, fuck off.”

 

John did fuck off, stomping up the stairs to his room and slamming the door.

 

This combination of unrelenting hiccups and sexual tension was unbearable! If only Father Christmas could make it all go away…

 

Chapter Text

Christmas was not cancelled, of course. In fact, it was fast approaching — and the 221B Baker Street Christmas party was approaching even more rapidly. Mrs. Hudson was planning to spend the holidays with her niece in Scarborough, so Sherlock and John were hosting their celebration on the twenty-first.

 

In addition to their beloved (and long-suffering) landlady, they had invited their only three other mutual friends — Greg, Mike, and Molly. They’d also, after some debate, agreed to include their somewhat troublesome siblings, Harry and Mycroft, in the spirit of the holidays. Sherlock’s concessions to holiday spirit only went so far, however. After the embarrassing situation with Molly the previous year, he had instituted a strict “NO GIFTS” policy. In true, over-the-top Sherlock form, he had gone so far as to send invitations in the mail containing RSVP cards on which the invitees were requested to check one of the following options: 

          ___ Yes, I will attend. I promise not to bring any gifts.

          ___ No, I will not attend. I promise not to send any gifts.

 

When John had asked whether the ban on Christmas presents extended to the two of them, Sherlock had replied in no uncertain terms that it did. John — although he made a show of chastising Sherlock for being unreasonably Scrooge-like — was secretly relieved. He would have found it impossible to choose an appropriate gift for his flatmate/best friend. No matter what he came up with, Sherlock would no doubt have taken one look and deduced that John wanted to be so much more…

 

Embarrassed by his previous day’s churlishness, and the reason for it, John was determined to demonstrate proper holiday spirit today. He couldn’t allow Sherlock to suspect his ill-temper was partially caused by unresolved sexual tension. No, he had to maintain the facade that it was all due to his persistent hiccups. Which, to be fair, were certainly irritating enough.

 

Of course, as a doctor, John had gone in for tests to rule out any underlying medical cause of his hiccups. He had been assured that they were merely a nuisance. His colleague had offered to prescribe one of the many drugs (haloperidol, metoclopramide, baclofen, phenytoin, valproic acid, carbamazepine, gabapentin, amitriptyline, or amantadine) that had been shown to have some efficacy in the treatment of intractable hiccups. John had declined, on the grounds that none of them guaranteed success, and they all had the potential for unpleasant side effects.

 

His true reasons for choosing not to try a pharmacological cure were somewhat more complicated. Although he’d initially protested against being used as a guinea pig, he was enjoying being the centre of Sherlock’s attention. Living with an obsessive genius, John sometimes felt invisible. When Sherlock was on a case or conducting an experiment, nothing else mattered to him. Now, Sherlock was treating John’s hiccups as a case to be solved, and John was more than willing to be his experimental subject if it meant Sherlock’s entire focus was on him.  

 

When Sherlock announced today’s trial remedy, however, John began to have second thoughts about the drugs. 

 

“It won’t hurt, John,” Sherlock said, misinterpreting his panicked expression. “I simply have to grasp your tongue gently but firmly and pull. A study at Harvard Medical School found this stimulates the nasopharynx and stops hiccups.”

 

John was afraid having Sherlock’s fingers in his mouth might stimulate more than his nasopharynx. He had to admit he had a bit of a…thing…for Sherlock’s hands. He found himself mesmerised by those long, elegant fingers moving gracefully over the strings of the violin, or lying steepled and still under Sherlock’s chin. And now those fingers were right there, reaching towards John’s mouth. 

 

John took an abrupt step back. He wanted to say something, but found himself suddenly tongue-tied. 

 

“Come on, John,” Sherlock coaxed. “The results of this study were very promising.”

 

John stared at Sherlock’s fingers. He had a sudden urge to taste them. Against his will, John’s tongue peeked out between his lips. 

 

 

And then it was happening. Sherlock’s fingers were touching John’s tongue; John’s tongue was touching Sherlock’s fingers. They were a bit buttery, from the toast he’d been eating, which was not conducive to getting a firm grip. His thumb slipped off, but that was inconsequential, because John’s tongue had developed a mind of its own. It was licking hungrily at Sherlock's long, buttery fingers. 

 

Before Sherlock could pull away, John’s lips, apparently in cahoots with his tongue, closed around those delectable fingers. John’s mouth joined the rest of his treacherous body parts and began to suck. Over the rushing in his ears, John could hear a distant groaning.

 

This time it was Sherlock who took an abrupt step back.

 

John, in desperation, blurted out, “Butter!” — as though that was any sort of excuse for fellating his flatmate’s fingers.

 

“Yes,” Sherlock said, staring at his no-longer-buttery fingers. He blinked several times, then announced, “I believe you can carry out this protocol on your own. The results should be the same. You can share the data with me later.”

 

With that, he disappeared into his bedroom. The door shut with a soft but distinct click.

 

“Well, fuck,” John muttered.

Chapter Text

By unspoken mutual agreement, Sherlock and John were pretending the previous day’s finger-sucking incident had never happened. This was more than okay with John, who would rather stick his head in a vat full of bees than discuss his… His what?  Crush? Attraction? Feelings? Sudden overwhelming desire to fuck Sherlock up against a wall?

 

Stop! John told himself firmly. Don’t even think about it. If you think about it, Sherlock will KNOW. 

 

Not that there was much chance of Sherlock not knowing already, what with him being the world’s most observant man, and John being as subtle as a suspect wearing an “I’m a serial killer” t-shirt while prancing about waving the murder weapon. Still, John held on to a desperate hope that Sherlock might simply delete the information, and not allow it to ruin their friendship.

 

In his embarrassment, John had stayed in his room as long as he could that morning, until his bladder had finally driven him downstairs. He’d been relieved to discover the flat was empty, Sherlock having buggered off to who knew where. John’s relief had turned to concern, though, when morning had become afternoon, and then evening, with no sign of Sherlock. 

 

John had considered texting him, but what would he say? Sorry I gave your fingers a blow job yesterday. I hope you don’t mind? 

 

Impossible. Instead, John just waited. And fretted. And hiccupped. And cursed his life.  

 

When Sherlock finally returned to the flat — two shopping bags in hand, acting as though everything was perfectly normal — John was more than happy to play along.

 

“What’ve you got there?” he asked. “Don’t tell me you (hic) actually bought milk!”

 

“I picked up the ingredients for our next experimental cure.” 

 

From one bag, Sherlock drew out a wicker basket filled with lemons. John groaned. 

 

 

From the other bag, Sherlock produced a bottle of Angostura bitters. John perked up. 

 

“According to the New England Journal of Medicine, eating a lemon wedge soaked in Angostura bitters cured the hiccups in 14 out of 16 people,” Sherlock explained.

 

“When life gives you (hic) lemons, make them alcoholic,” John quipped.

 

Sherlock smiled. He carried his purchases into the kitchen and set them on the counter. With a knife John hoped he’d never used in an experiment involving human body parts, Sherlock deftly sliced one of the lemons. He dropped the pieces into a glass and poured the Angostura bitters over them.

 

“We’ll let the lemon wedges soak for ten minutes before you eat one.”

 

John grimaced. This cure didn’t sound particularly appetising. Then again, compared to some of Sherlock’s other ideas, he supposed he should be thankful.

 

When the kitchen timer dinged, John fished out a lemon wedge and dutifully popped it into his mouth. The bitter/sour combination made his face pucker up, and Sherlock laughed.

 

“Stop giggling!” John demanded. “You’re supposed to be maintaining your scientific detachment.”

 

“Laughter in no way interferes with my powers of observation. In addition to noticing your ludicrous expression, I also perceive a complete lack of hiccups.”

 

“Oh, thank god! Finally, a cure that works! I was going insane, there. You have no idea.”

 

“I think I have a bit of an idea.”

 

John felt his face flush as he flashed back to his patently insane behaviour of the day before. Then he hiccupped.

 

“Damn it!”

 

“Try another lemon wedge.”

 

John did, with the same results — a sadly temporary cessation of his hiccups. He repeated the procedure again and again. Each time, his hiccups stopped briefly, but then resumed. 

 

“This isn’t working,” he said at last. “I refuse to eat anymore lemons. I’d rather just (hic) drown my sorrows in the bitters.”

 

To John’s surprise, Sherlock didn’t argue. Instead, he went to the cupboard and pulled out a bottle of scotch. John recognised it as a very expensive gift from one of their wealthy clients.

 

“The Macallan? Seriously?” John asked, with eyebrows raised.

 

“Why not? A fine whisky is meant to be enjoyed.”

 

“I’ll drink (hic) to that!” John said.

 

So he did. As did Sherlock. Three hours later, the two of them were well and properly soused. 

 

Somewhere along the way, Sherlock had pulled out his Rizla papers to roll a cigarette. John had firmly vetoed that idea, and had (miraculously) managed to convince him to play the Rizla game instead. Now, the two of them were sitting across from each other in their armchairs, each with a word scrawled on the paper stuck to his forehead.

 

“Am I a (hic) vegetable?” John asked.

 

Sherlock, holding a half-empty glass of scotch in one hand, pointed at him with a wobbly finger. “You, or the thing?”

 

They both snickered.

 

“Funny!” John said.

 

Sherlock looked down, uncharacteristically bashful. “Thank you.”

 

“Come on.”

 

Sherlock raised his head. “No, you’re not a vegetable.”

 

“It’s (hic) your go,” John said, picking up his glass and taking a sip.

 

“Errr... am I human?”

 

John — staring woozily at Sherlock’s forehead, which was currently sporting a Rizla paper with the name SHERLOCK scrawled across it — answered, “Sometimes.”

 

“Can’t have ‘sometimes.’ Has to be yes or no,” Sherlock slurred, struggling to pull himself up a little in his chair.

 

“Yes, you’re (hic) human.” John put down his glass and slumped back in his seat.

 

“Okay. Am I a man?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Tall?”

 

“Not (hic) as tall as people think.”

 

“Hmm. Nice?”

 

“Ish.”

 

“Clever?”

 

“I’d say so.”

 

“You would?”

 

John merely chuckled in response.

 

“Mmm, am I important?”

 

“To some (hic) people.”

 

“Do “people”... (Sherlock made vague air-quotes around the word) ... like me?”

 

“Er, no, they don’t. You tend (hic) to rub ’em up the wrong way,” John said with a snigger, trying hard not to picture which way he’d like Sherlock to rub him up.

 

Sherlock slumped back in his chair and then leant forward again. “Okay. Am I the current King of England?”

 

“Are you…?” John began, cackling with laughter. “You know we don’t have a (hic) king?”

 

“Don’t we?”

 

“No.”

 

Sherlock took a drink from his glass before saying, “Your go.”

 

Unfolding his legs, John shifted forward until he was sitting right on the edge of his chair. As he started to slide off, he reached out to brace himself with one hand on Sherlock’s knee. It was warm, and hard, and oh, god, he was groping Sherlock’s knee. 

 

 

John and Sherlock looked down at the knee in question. John pulled away and held both his hands out, shrugging.

 

“I don’t mind,” John murmured, not quite knowing what he was trying to say.

 

“Anytime,” Sherlock replied, raising his fingers around his glass and shrugging, too.

 

Anytime… anytime… anytime… John repeated drunkenly to himself. What did that mean? Was Sherlock saying I can put my hands on his body anytime? Or was he just saying he’s available anytime to help keep my hammered arse from falling on the floor? Hammered arse! I am so hammered! And I would SO let that man hammer my arse…

 

Sherlock interrupted John’s internal monologue with the seven scariest words in the English language: “You do realise you’re saying that aloud…”

 

Chapter Text

John awoke wishing he hadn’t. He had the mother of all hangovers: mouth drier than the Afghan desert, head pounding like mortar shells, and stomach tied up in a surgeon’s knot — though that last might be due less to the whisky he’d consumed the previous evening and more to a vague recollection of what he’d said under the influence of that whisky.

 

John groaned. His sluggish brain tried simultaneously to remember and to forget the events of the night before. Had he really grabbed Sherlock’s knee and then told him he wanted to be hammered in the arse? No matter how wasted he’d been, John wouldn’t really have said that out loud. Would he? If he’d drunk enough to leave his memories this hazy, had he also drunk enough to have completely lost his brain-to-mouth filter? John was afraid he had.

 

Oh, god. What must Sherlock think of him? How had he reacted? Their ensuing conversation was all a blur in John’s mind. 

 

Had Sherlock said something about being flattered by John’s interest? Or was he mixing up last night with their first dinner together at Angelo’s? Had there been some sort of discussion about meaningful consent being impossible after having downed so much alcohol? Or was that just something he’d seen on a flyer at the clinic? Had Sherlock really helped John up the stairs and tucked him in bed? Or had he somehow managed to drag himself up to his room on his own?

 

John’s only hope was that Sherlock had been as plastered as he was, and wouldn’t remember any of it.

 

With a herculean effort, John got himself out of bed and stumbled downstairs in search of water and paracetamol. Somehow, he’d have to be fully functional in a few hours, when the guests began arriving for their Christmas party.

 

John could hear the shower running. So, Sherlock was up, too. John sighed. Maybe after a shower of his own he’d be able to face his flatmate. 

 

An hour later, both men were sitting at the kitchen table, clean and reasonably presentable. Neither one could stomach any food, but they were on their second cups of tea, which, amazingly enough, Sherlock had made.  

 

Sherlock, John thought, was being more inscrutable that usual. It was impossible to tell whether he retained any memory at all of the previous night — or, if he did, how he felt about it. John decided to pretend the whole thing had never happened, and move on from there.

 

Tea finished, Sherlock and John busied themselves with last minute party preparations. By the time they were done the flat looked quite festive. 

 

John’s stomach had settled down — helped along by a sampling of the Christmas biscuits. The only damper on his holiday spirits was the aggravation of his persistent hiccups.

 

“I have another cure we can try before our guests arrive,” Sherlock said. 

 

“I hope it’s a (hic) quick one. And an effective one, for a change.” 

 

Sherlock filled a 500 ml graduated cylinder with water and placed a long bendy straw in it. 

 

“Spread your legs about 18 inches,” he said.

 

John hesitated, mind scrambling to determine what Sherlock intended to do that would require him to spread his legs.

 

Sherlock nudged his toes impatiently between John’s feet, urging them apart. When John reluctantly complied, Sherlock placed the graduated cylinder on the floor between his feet, with the straw facing forward.

 

“All you have to do is bend over and drink through the straw,” he explained. 

 

Oh, that was all. Get your mind out of the gutter, John told himself.

 

John began to crouch down, but Sherlock immediately stopped him. 

 

“You need to drink the water upside down. Keep your knees straight, and bend at the waist,” he instructed.

 

“Knees straight,” John repeated, adding silently to himself since none of the rest of me is…

 

 

John bent over, feeling the stretch in his hamstrings. He grasped the straw between his lips and began to suck. As he did so, Sherlock circled around behind him.

 

Continuing to drink, John peered back between his legs, expecting to catch Sherlock’s eye. Instead, Sherlock’s gaze was focused elsewhere, and whatever he was looking at had brought the colour out in his cheeks. John’s eyes traveled down from Sherlock’s flushed face to a distinct bulge in his tightly tailored trousers. 

 

Popping up to standing, John whirled around to face Sherlock. “Were you checking out my arse?”

 

“And if I were?”

 

“Yoo-hoo!” came Mrs. Hudson’s voice. “I thought I’d come up a bit early to see if you boys need any help setting up for the party.”

 

The angel on John’s shoulder said he should kiss her for the interruption. The demon in his pants told him he should kick her, instead…

 

Chapter Text

The party had been a qualified success. Sherlock hadn’t killed Mycroft, Harry hadn’t gotten drunk, and no one had committed the ultimate sin of bringing gifts. The food was good, the music (provided by Sherlock’s violin) was lovely, and laughter had flowed freely. If much of that laughter had been aimed at John and his persistent hiccups, well, at least no one had commented on the elephant in the room — his even more persistent hard-on for his maddening flatmate. A maddening flatmate whom John could have sworn was sporting a matching hard-on.

 

Now the party was over. Their guests had gone home, and Mrs. Hudson had left London that morning to visit her niece in Scarborough for the holidays. Sherlock and John were alone at 221 Baker Street, with nothing left to distract them from the whatever-this-was that seemed to have been building between them for the past week. Nothing, that is, except for John’s unrelenting hiccups.

 

“I borrowed a little something from Mrs. Hudson that I’m fairly certain will cure your hiccups, if you’re willing to try it,” said Sherlock.

 

“At this point, I’m willing to try (hic) anything.”

 

Sherlock produced a small baggie filled with sticky marijuana buds. 

 

“You got that from Mrs. Hudson? When she talked about her (hic) herbal soothers, I was picturing something more along the lines of chamomile tea.”

 

 

“Her late husband ran a drug cartel, John.”

 

“Right.”

 

Sherlock got out his Rizla papers, and John tried hard not to think about what he’d accidentally admitted aloud the last time he’d seen them. He also attempted not to stare at Sherlock’s long, elegant fingers as he rolled the joint, or at his tongue as he licked the paper to seal it. John’s striving on all three fronts was completely futile.

 

Sherlock held the joint out to John.

 

“You know I don’t approve of (hic) smoking,” John protested. 

 

“Do you want to get rid of your hiccups, or not? A study published in The Lancet found smoking cannabis cured intractable hiccups that had not responded to conventional medications.”

 

John sighed. He took the proffered joint and allowed Sherlock to light it for him. 

 

John hadn’t smoked since uni, so his first puff left him coughing. His second was interrupted by a hiccup. His third went down more smoothly, but his throat and lungs protested the burn. By the fourth, though, he felt like he was starting to get the hang of it. By the fifth, he felt good. By the sixth, really good. By the time the roach was small enough to burn his fingers, John was high as a kite and loving it. 

 

“Roll me another,” he said. He liked the way the words felt on his tongue, so he repeated them. “Roll… roll… roll… Roll me another… nother… nother roll… Nother roll for me… Me… me… meeeeee… Hee hee hee….”

 

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

 

“Not your eyes,” John giggled. “Rolling eyes and rolling skies and rolling highs… God, am I high… High… high…  high…  Hi, Sherlock — remember me?”

 

“You’re unforgettable,” Sherlock said, deadpan.

 

“Unforgettable, that’s what you are,” John sang. “Unforgettable, something something something… You’re incredible… Unforgettable you!”

 

“Well, the good news is, the cannabis seems to have cured your hiccups. The bad news is, Mrs. Hudson’s stash appears to have been a bit more potent than I had anticipated. You are completely stoned.”

 

“Like a rolling stone… Rolling… rolling… Weren’t you going to roll something for me? Oh, yeah — another joint!”

 

“I don’t think so.”

 

“Why not?” John pouted. “You should smoke one with me. Then you’d see what I can see…”

 

“What can you see?”

 

“I see the meaning of it all… All the meaning… Everything… Everything and its opposite are true… And everything and its opposite are both true and not true at the same time… Like, no matter what I say, it’s both true and not true, depending on how you look at it… I have to write this down… This has to go on the blog… This is deep!”

 

“Deep, is it? Well, I’m deep-sixing putting it on the blog. You’ll thank me tomorrow.”

 

“Deep, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, I love you! All together now!” John sang. Then he thought for a long moment. 

 

“You know, I do love you,” he said at last. “I really, really do. I do. And I really, really want to do you, too… Do you? Want to do me?” 

 

“I don’t think we should have this conversation until you’re completely clean and sober.”

 

“I am completely sober. I haven’t had a single drink today. And I’m clean. I’ve been tested.”

 

“That’s not the kind of clean I was talking about.”

 

“Oh… A bath! We should take a bath together! Come take a bath with me!”

 

Sherlock did not join John in the bath. He did, however, come into the bathroom to “supervise.” His stated reason was to ensure John didn’t drown due to his current impaired condition.

 

John didn’t have much capacity to focus on Sherlock’s possible ulterior motives at the moment. He was too busy revelling in the feeling of warm water on his bare skin, and too mesmerised by the iridescent bubbles surrounding him.

 

“Tiny bubbles,” John began to sing, “in the bath. Make me happy, they’re making me laugh. Tiny bubbles make me warm all over — with a feeling that I’m gonna love you till the end of time.”

 

John gazed adoringly up at Sherlock and sang the last line again: “With a feeling that I’m gonna love you till the end of time.”

Chapter Text

John’s secret was finally out. Or was it? 

 

There was no way Sherlock could have missed John’s huge confession the day before. But had he taken it seriously? Or had he written it off as wild drug-induced rambling? Come to that, had it been just drug-induced rambling? 

 

The part about wanting to have sex with Sherlock was certainly true. And the part about loving him was true, too. Of course John loved him. Sherlock was his friend. His best friend. 

 

But was John in love with Sherlock? What did that even mean? If you loved someone and also wanted to have sex with them, was that the same as being in love? Despite his three-continent-spanning sexual history, John had never been in love before. So how would he even know?

 

And if he was in love with Sherlock, what then? It had been bad enough when he’d thought he was simply attracted to Sherlock. Three continents or not, John was no stranger to unreciprocated attraction. But unreciprocated love? That just might kill him.

 

Was it unreciprocated, though? Surely Sherlock cared about him, at least as a friend. But did it go deeper than that? And what about the physical side of things? John had never dared hope Sherlock might be interested in him that way, but in the last few days there had been signs…

 

Yet Sherlock had shut John down the day before. What had he said, exactly? “I don’t think we should have this conversation until you’re completely clean and sober.” Well, John was completely, painfully clean and sober now. So, should he bite the bullet and talk to Sherlock about this? 

 

No. He couldn’t. 

 

John wasn’t being a coward. Discretion was the better part of valour, right? No matter how much John might long for something more, his friendship with Sherlock meant the world to him. If he pushed, if he made things awkward, he could ruin everything. Better to keep what he had — a friend, a flatmate, a partner in crime-solving — than risk losing it all. He’d leave the ball in Sherlock’s court — where, he thought rather glumly, it would probably remain unplayed. 

 

His emotional turmoil thus (somewhat) resolved, John next turned his attention to his physical state. His tongue felt like a skunk had crawled into his mouth and died. Also, his hiccups were back.

 

Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash solved the former problem. For the latter, he’d need whatever new remedy Sherlock had in store. Sherlock, however, was nowhere to be found.

 

John made himself a cup of tea, wondering what had become of all the biscuits left over from the party. Oh, right — they’d been sacrificed to his massive case of the munchies the day before. He settled for toast, instead.

 

Feeling a bit better, he pulled out his laptop and checked his blog. Sherlock had been right — John was thankful his “epiphany” about life, the universe, and everything hadn’t made it online. He spent a few minutes responding to comments before closing his laptop. He felt too restless to sit still.

 

John decided a long walk would do him good. Bundling up against the winter chill, he set off for Regent’s Park. As spacious as the park was, though, it couldn’t satisfy his need for exercise. At the far end, he crossed St Mark’s bridge and climbed Primrose Hill. After circumnavigating the hill, John still wasn’t ready to return to the flat, so he picked up the Regent’s Canal towpath.

 

By the time John finally returned to Baker Street, he was pleasantly tired. The fresh air may not have cured his hiccups, but at least it had blown the last traces of marijuana out of his brain. It had also helped him work up quite an appetite. He tucked in with gusto to the sausage rolls and mince pies which had miraculously escaped his marauding the previous day.

 

Determined not to fret over Sherlock’s continued absence, John settled on the sofa to watch some crap telly. Forty-five minutes later, he clicked it off when he heard familiar footsteps on the stairs. Sherlock was home at last.

 

John moved from the sofa to his chair by the fire, as though it might somehow bolster his courage for whatever might come next. Sherlock swooped in carrying a bag from Boots, which he set down by the door. Without removing his coat, he came to sit opposite John.

 

“I could hear you hiccupping in your sleep this morning. I had high hopes for the cannabis cure. It’s unfortunate the results were temporary.”

 

“High hopes,” John repeated, giggling.

 

Sherlock grinned at him. “Exactly.”

 

“My hopes have come crashing down, along (hic) with the rest of me,” John said more soberly. 

 

“I do have another remedy we could try. It’s a bit unconventional, but in three separate studies it’s had a 100% success rate in curing intractable hiccups.”

 

“One hundred percent? Why didn’t we (hic) try it first, then?”

 

“Well, as I say, it’s a bit unconventional. As you know, the rectum is supplied with an abundance of highly sensitive sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, the stimulation of which leads to increased vagal tone. Therefore, digital rectal massage has been found to produce complete termination of hiccups.”

 

“Digital…”

 

“Yes. The procedure would involve me using my finger in a slow circumferential motion, first externally,” Sherlock explained, demonstrating with a finger against his palm.

 

 

“And then internally,” he added, “until the desired result is achieved.”

 

“Desired…”

 

“Yes. The permanent cessation of your hiccups.”

 

“Right. (hic) Okay.”

 

“Okay?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Sherlock looked a bit flushed — whether from the heat of the fire or some other reason. He removed his scarf and coat, hanging them up. He then retrieved the Boots bag from where he’d dropped it by the door. 

 

Motioning for John to follow him, Sherlock carried the bag into the kitchen. He removed a box of purple nitrile gloves and a tube of medical grade lubricant. With hands that may or may not have been trembling slightly, he snapped on one of the gloves.

 

“Pull down your trousers and pants, and lean over the table,” Sherlock instructed.

 

John, with a dizzying sense of unreality, complied. Was Sherlock really going to do this? Was John really going to let Sherlock do this?

 

Apparently so. John felt a warm hand between his shoulders, pushing him down onto his forearms. Then came a cool, slick finger, sliding between his buttocks and coming to rest against his anus. John tensed.

 

“Relax,” Sherlock rumbled, deep and quiet. 

 

He began to move his finger in slow circles, around and around and around. With each revolution, he gradually increased the pressure. The circles grew into spirals, swirling inward and then back out. Soon, each inward spiral became punctuated by the tip of Sherlock’s finger dipping slightly inside John’s willing body. 

 

John gasped when Sherlock finally breached him fully. He tried not to rut against the table as Sherlock’s finger continued it’s slow circles, now stroking his prostate with every downward pass. The gentle, steady rhythm was an exquisite torture. The pressure within began to build toward an inexorable conclusion.

 

No!  With the last shred of his rationality, John realised he needed to call this off. He didn’t want their first time to be like this — part of an experiment. For the past week and a half, he’d been indulging himself in the luxury of being the focus of Sherlock’s attention — a case for him to solve. But if they were actually going to do…this…it had to be real. He had to know that it meant to Sherlock what it meant to him.

 

With a supreme effort of will, John choked out, “Stop!”

 

Sherlock immediately withdrew his finger, and John winced at the loss. 

 

A moment later, Sherlock withdrew completely, leaving John alone in the kitchen.