Actions

Work Header

Men in Kilts

Chapter Text

“Mrs. Hudson! ’Men in Kilts’?” Sherlock crossed the threshold and waved in the direction of the white van parked outside.

“Sherlock!”

Sherlock’s eyes widened in horror. The sound was coming from upstairs!

“No, no, no, no,” he chanted as he raced up the steps. “No housekeeping service—kilted, saronged, or doused nothing but all the perfumes of Arabia—in my rooms!”

“Now, Sherlock, please,” said Mrs. Hudson in a soothing tone. “John was so efficient that he had a few minutes to spare, and he agreed to do a bit up here.”

“NO!” cried Sherlock. “Not my dust! Dust is eloquent!”

The man in the kilt on the ladder turned. “Sorry, your eloquence is here.” He held up a filthy rag. “Cobwebs, too!”

“ARRGH!” Sherlock gripped his hair with two hands. “Mrs. Hudson, you—”

“Hey!” barked John. He descended the ladder, then stood before Sherlock with his arms crossed over his chest and added in a warning tone, “I’ll ask you to rethink how you address this nice lady who does you the courtesy of allowing you live under her roof.”

Sherlock studied the man and felt his annoyance turned to something else, equally warm and, yes, a bit annoying. Oh, treacherous transport!

“I don’t like other people messing with my things,” Sherlock sounded like a sulky child and for once felt a bit bad about it.

The man in the kilt threw a glance about the cluttered sitting room and kitchen. “Yeah, I can see that. I’m John, by the way.”

“Sherlock.”

They shook hands, and Sherlock dwelled a moment too long on the firmness of John’s grip.

John smiled at Mrs. Hudson. “Anything else before I pack it up?”

Mrs. Hudson shot a look at the corner of the ceiling beyond John’s head and pointed, “Perhaps. That is, if Sherlock will allow?”

Would Sherlock allow this attractive man to climb a ladder and remove a thick patch of cobwebs? He inclined his head in a way that he hoped was charming and said simply,

“Yes.”

Sherlock took his place at Mrs. Hudson’s side and realised that his landlady had streaks of genius herself. They exchanged a single glance as John, his back to them, repositioned the ladder and climbed up.

He did have nice legs, very nice legs which probably led to a very nice…

“Done!” said John triumphantly. Then he looked at his watch. “Last of it, I’m afraid. I’ve another appointment.”

“Thank you so much, John. My friend Marie spoke so highly of the service, and you did not disappoint.”

“Great. And anytime that hip's bothering you and you don’t feel up to it, just give us a ring, yeah?”

Say something, say something, something clever, memorable…

“I’m a detective,” blurted Sherlock.

John smiled a wide, warm, utterly Man-in-a-Kilt smile.

“I love detectives (and detective stories). You give us a ring, too, if you want some help with this.” John’s wave took in the whole room.

And with that, and a wink, he left, with his ladder—and Sherlock's heart.


John carefully eased the folded ladder through the doorway, his exhaustion blunting the disappointment of not catching a glimpse of the gorgeous toff upstairs this time.

“John.”

Ah, there he was after all.

John couldn’t help the smile which curled his lips as he looked up. “Hullo.”

“It’s Sherlock Holmes, in case you don’t remember.”

As if John hadn’t googled the handsome bastard as soon as he’d left the last time. “Yeah, I remember. You’re difficult to forget. ‘Dust is eloquent.’”

Sherlock blushed and looked away. John caught a hint of a lisp when he spoke.

“I have a very small problem if you’ve time. If not, quite alright…”

“Certainly. But your landlady,” John nodded over his shoulder toward the door, “had a very big problem, and I’m a bit of a mess.” He wiped a hand down the front of his sleeveless vest which was plastered to his torso with sweat and decorated with smears of grease and dirt.

Sherlock’s eyes follow John’s hand until it reached the waist of the kilt.

John found the undisguised lust which darkened Sherlock’s features flattering and encouraging.

“I don’t mind at all,” said Sherlock thickly, without taking his gaze from John’s chest. “You can even…if it makes you more comfortable.”

Well, if that wasn’t an invitation!

Aware that he was taking his cues from clichés in pornographic films, John set the ladder against the wall and slowly, very slowly, peeled off his vest.

Give the lad a show if nothing else.

“Let’s have a look, Mister Holmes.”

Sherlock stared, then he snapped out of his fog. “Sherlock, please,” he urged politely before turning on his heels and leading John up the stairs.



“But I was just here last week!” exclaimed John as he extended the duster into the corner of the sitting room. He gripped the top of the ladder with one hand and leaned farther to swipe the last thick ball of cobwebs. “How on earth did you manage to collect so much of this in so little time?”

“It wasn’t easy,” admitted Sherlock. “Coaxing that many spiders up there.”

John started and twisted sharply at the waist, the better to look down at Sherlock with wide eyes.

The ladder wobbled, and Sherlock stepped forward to steady it. He looked up at John and shrugged, his face a picture of anxious but unrepentant mischievousness.

“You did this?” John pointed at the crease where wall met ceiling.

Sherlock nodded.

“To get me here?”

Sherlock nodded again.

John laughed as he descended two steps. “That’s a new one. Go on then.” He nodded at Sherlock’s hands, which were still holding the ladder. “See what’s under the kilt.”

Hands gripped John’s bare thighs and slid up.

John looked over his shoulder once more to see Sherlock’s teeth bared and pinching his buttock through the plaid. He felt Sherlock’s hands moving up, up, up and curling ‘round his hips. He prick began to take a very decided interest in the matter until…

“Hullooo! John! Are you still here?”

Sherlock sprang away, sending the ladder into violent wobbles as John hurried to the floor and put his filthy vest back on.

“Oh, John! Thank goodness,” said Mrs. Hudson, “You did a wonderful job, but I still can’t seem to get the thing to run!”

“No problem. I’ll come down and show you. I think I’m done here?” John glanced at Sherlock, who gave a dismissive wave of the hand as he turned away.

“If you need any help with setting all this to rights,” John continued, inwardly cringing at his weak tone as he made a gesture which encompassed the sitting room and kitchen, both as cluttered as they'd been on his first visit, “just call the agency.”

Sherlock said nothing.

Chapter Text

John purposefully ignored the muffled crash sounding from the flat above them.

“Mrs. Hudson,” he said as gently as he could muster. “As much as my bosses appreciate your loyal patronage and I appreciate the continued income, you didn’t really need to hire a Men in Kilts domestic assistant to help you bake twelve dozen florentines for your landladies’ association bake sale.”

“Another set of hands is always useful in the kitchen, especially when baking,” she countered meekly. Then her cheeks turned pink. “I know it’s none of my business, John, but—”

There was another, louder crash. Mrs. Hudson continued unperturbed.

“—I know that Sherlock is smitten with you, I know he is, I’ve known it since you two first met, I’ve never seen him like that before—”

“You’re right, Mrs. Hudson, it really is not your business, and,” John tried not to smile, “I am quite certain that no one’s ever been ‘smitten with me’ in my life.”

“Oh, that can’t be true.”

John’s lips curled upwards, forming a smile of their own volition. He cursed his nature as he exhaled. “A week after my last visit, I texted Sherlock,” he confessed. “No reply. It’s been a week. I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed, but it is what it is.”

“Oh, but there’s a reason! And it has nothing to do with you! And he desperately needs help! Take these up to him,” she waved at a plate piled high with dainty biscuits, “and see for yourself. Florentines are his favourite, and just maybe, he will accept help from you. If he doesn’t, well, I’m afraid his brother may step in and make things worse. Much, much worse.”

“Mrs. Hudson…”

“It’s his pride! He’s so stubborn! But maybe you…oh, it’s worth a try…”

John’s jaw stiffened. “Mrs. Hudson, I have enough problems in my own life without meddling in someone else’s, especially if it involves family,” he said in a far harsher tone that he’d intended.

“Of course, of course, I understand,” she said quickly and turned away, but not before shooting him a pleading look over her shoulder.

John took a deep breath, looked at the florentines, and said,    

“Oh, all right, but no promises. If he’s a right bastard to me, I’m throwing them on the table and leaving.”

“Thank you, John!” she said with undisguised relief. “I think you might be able to get through to him.”


“What in the world?” said John as he looked about.

The room was a disaster, far, far beyond the simple clutter he’d noted on his last two visits.

Sherlock emerged from the bathroom.

On crutches.

“Get out!”

John stepped forward and made a place for the plate on the filthy kitchen table. The kitchen was also a disaster, and the odors disconcerting.

“Didn’t you hear me? Get out!”

John stepped back into the sitting room.

Sherlock’s left leg and left arm were in casts. He hobbled slowly and clumsily down the hall.

“I don’t need any help!”

“No, of course, not,” said John dryly. “You’re doing just fine.” He moved out of Sherlock’s way, the only clear path to be seen, which led to the wheelchair.

Finally, Sherlock collapsed in the chair and heaved his heavy leg on the rest. He was thinner than John had remembered. Gaunt, even. He was panting, and a thick sheen of sweat dampened his forehead.

“I’m afraid I’m not up to finishing what I started the last time,” he said with a sneer. He raised his plastered hand and laughed mirthlessly.

John flushed. “That’s not why I’m here.” His voice trailed off as his eyes caught a smashed bit of string and polished wood.

“That was an accident. I didn’t break it on purpose,” said Sherlock quickly. His tone was softer, almost apologetic. “I slipped. It isn’t the good one, though. Mycroft still has the Strad.”

“Mycroft? That’s your brother?”

“Yes.” Sherlock’s anger flared again. “How do you know him? Has contacted you? Offered you money to spy on me?”

“I’ve never met him,” insisted John. “Mrs. Hudson just mentioned you had a brother.”

“Hello, Sherlock.”

John turned toward the doorway.

“Oh, bloody hell!” exclaimed Sherlock. “Speak of the devil!”

Chapter Text

“THIS PLACE—AND YOU—ARE DISGUSTING!”

“I KNOW! WHICH IS PRECISELY WHY I ENGAGED JOHN!”

Mycroft spun ‘round.

Two sets of eyes pinned John where he stood—which was in the doorway, mid-stride.

“Have you, Sherlock?” asked Mycroft caustically. “If so, then why does your new hire appear to be already deserting the sinking ship?”

Heat rose in John’s cheeks.

The two had been so engrossed in their fighting that John didn’t think they would notice.

He had, as Mycroft had observed, been attempting to flee the scene while the shouting match was under way. After all, this was absolutely no business of his, and the rancor in the two voices hinted at old hostilities.

“Well?” asked Mycroft. “Is Sherlock telling the truth? I shan’t be surprised if he isn’t.”

The tiny fake smile made John feel sick. He glanced at Sherlock.

Oh, God.

The plaintive plea in Sherlock’s eyes broke John’s heart. But then it was gone, and Sherlock’s expression became an icy mask. He studied the arm of the wheelchair and gave a careless shrug that was far too practised.

John met Mycroft’s cool gaze.

“Yeah, he did. I work for the Men in Kilts housekeeping service. I was just going to the van to get a contract and negotiate terms.”

Mycroft’s eyes widened. He gave John a frank up-and-down appraisal, taking in the kilt and the tight short-sleeved vest as if for the first time. Then he turned and frowned at the sitting room and kitchen.

“Housekeeping service. How unusually foresighted, Brother Mine.”

“Well, things have gotten a bit out of hand,” remarked Sherlock evenly. When Mycroft’s back was turned, he shot John a priceless look of gratitude.

One corner of John’s mouth rose in a half-smile.

But then Mycroft was shaking his head. “No, no, it won’t work. Even if your flat is set to rights, Sherlock, you can’t remain here in your condition. The stairs alone are impossible. It’s obvious that you can’t take care of even your most basic needs.” He withdrew his mobile and began to tap the screen with his thumb. “I’ve found a nice place in the country. Until the casts come off, you will have to stay…”

“I won’t go!”

“You don’t have a choice.”

“You’ve no right!”

Mycroft dropped his hand and advanced until he positively loomed over Sherlock’s scowling, seated form.

“I’ve every right to ensure you don’t kill yourself, Brother Mine! Look at you! Better yet, take a good whiff! You are as filthy as this flat! And though he may be a wizard with a mop, I’m quite certain that scrubbing your arse isn’t included in the contract of Mister, Mister…”

Mycroft turned his head and looked at John inquiringly.

John crossed his arms over his chest and said in a hard tone, “It’s Doctor. Doctor John Watson.”

Two sets of eyes widened.

“Always something,” said Sherlock quietly.

Mycroft huffed, then he turned and asked pointedly, “Just what is a physician doing working for a housekeeping service?”

“I haven’t been struck off, if that’s what you’re asking. It’s also Captain Watson. I was injured. Army.” John touched his shoulder. “Invalided home.”

“Afghanistan!” shouted Sherlock eagerly. “I knew it!”

John gave a tight smile at Sherlock, then looked at Mycroft as he plucked at his vest. “This gig is just until I get on my feet. Quite frankly, I’m finding adjusting to civilian life a bit of a challenge.” He sniffed and looked at the floor. “But that’s my problem. If Sherlock agrees, I’ll help take care of him while I and a few colleagues clean the flat. I’m not going to lie this,” he waved at the sitting room and kitchen, “is more than a one man-in-a-kilt job.”

Mycroft gave a nod. Then he glanced at Sherlock with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes,” said Sherlock simply.

Mycroft rocked back on his heels. Finally, he put his mobile in his pocket and said,

“Three days. That’s all the time I’m willing to waste on this frivolity. Then I’ll be back, and if things are status quo or, God forbid, worse, negotiations will be at an end, Brother Mine.” Mycroft produced a gold pocket watch on a chain and made a theatrical show of checking it. “Must be off.” He nodded at John. “Good luck to you, Doctor. You’ll need it.”

John stepped in front of Mycroft before he reached the threshold. “If things go well, in three days, Sherlock gets his fancy violin back.”

Mycroft blinked. “But he can’t play it with the cast on his arm!”

John narrowed his gaze and tilted his head and flexed his biceps.

“Oh, so you’re only into sticks, not carrots, Mister Holmes?” he said nastily.

Mycroft’s mouth twisted into what John thought might have been a real smile; then he gave a soft chuckle.

“Very well, Doctor.”

Mycroft held out his hand. John shook it.

“Sherlock,” said Mycroft by way of farewell as John moved out of his way.

“Laterz,” called Sherlock.

Neither Sherlock nor John spoke until the front door closed.

John read many emotions in Sherlock’s face, but none of them were happy ones. Most were some variation on the theme of shame. He didn’t quite know what to say at first, but then he had a flash of inspiration.

The business touch might do.

“Well, let’s talk terms, Mister Holmes,” said John, matter-of-factly.

Sherlock’s face softened. “Terms?” he echoed.

“If you want the full Mary Poppins treatment, you’ll have to pay for it,” said John. He grinned and struck a rather sassy pose with his hand on his hip.

Sherlock laughed, and the tension in the room vapourised. “Absolutely,” he agreed. His eyes moved to John’s left. “Double your rate for the next three days. I can even throw in room and board, if you like. There’s a vacant bedroom upstairs.”

“Really?” John turned toward the staircase. “May I have a look?”

“Of course.”

John took the stairs two at a time. The bedroom had happily escaped Sherlock’s clutter. It was empty save for a few spartan furnishings: bed, wardrobe, desk, and chair. It was perfect. And an answer to prayer. John could put the horrid bedsit behind him—tonight. A room in central London. Even for three days, three days of very hard work, it was a bloody miracle.

John tried to hide his excitement when he returned to the sitting room.

“Works for me,” he said. “I’ll call the agency and settle things. You said board, too. Maybe a curry while we make a plan? I’m not eating anything out of there,” he pointed to the kitchen, “until it’s been disinfected. Except, of course, the florentines. I know they’re okay because I helped Mrs. Hudson make them. What do you say?”

“I say ‘yes.’ And I must also say I’m impressed with the way you stood up to Mycroft. He’s used to pushing people around.”

“Yeah, I got that, but if you were my brother and being an equal prat, I’d probably do the same.”

Sherlock shrugged. “It’s extraordinary…” He faltered.

“When you finally stop feeling sorry for yourself? Yeah, I know. Mopping is good for that, too, by the way.” He gave a wink.

“Good to know.” Sherlock smiled and extended his right hand. “Thank you, Doctor Watson. Welcome to 221B Baker Street.”

John walked towards him.

“You’re welcome, Mister Holmes, and thank you.”

“Sherlock, please.”

“John.”

They shook hands.

Chapter Text

At the first splash of water, Sherlock started violently.

“Too hot, too hot,” murmured John. “Sorry, sorry. Damn.”

The taps squeaked.

It had not been the temperature of the water. It had been John’s touch.

The bathing itself had not produced so dramatic a reaction. Sherlock and John had both been so thoroughly absorbed in the cumbersome logistics of it all, there had not be a lot of time for modesty or embarrassment. John had apologised twice for being a doctor and not a nurse, but to Sherlock’s pleasant surprise, the whole affair had been quite clinical, and he’d felt much, much better for it.

But now he was wrapped like a mummy—a shapeless cocoon made of almost every clean towel in the flat—and wedged in the chair in the tiny bathroom for John to wash his hair.

For John to wash his hair!

Sherlock’s treacherous transport was already taking far too much interest in the prospect.

“Better?”

John was talking about the water, which was now cooler.

“Yes.”

Sherlock’s voice must’ve betrayed him, for John asked sharply,

“Sherlock, are you in pain?”

Not yet, Sherlock thought. It was only tiny ache at the moment.

“You’ll tell me if you’re in pain, right?” John persisted.

“John, I’m not known for keeping my displeasure to myself.”

That was good; that was Sherlock’s normal voice.

John snorted.

Sherlock’s first thought was ‘wet.’

John was wetting Sherlock’s hair, his short, thick fingers moving lightly all about Sherlock’s head.

“Okay?”

Sherlock hummed.

Humming was good. Humming was less betraying than speech.

More humming, less talking.

The pop of the cap of the shampoo bottle and then…

Oh, God!

Not out loud, not out loud.

Sherlock was certain he hadn’t said it out loud.

John was rubbing Sherlock’s scalp.

Rubbing, rubbing, rubbing.

Fuck, fuck, fuckity-fuck!

Ears, crown, nape.

Strong, deep, relentless strokes.

Down to the skin, down through the follicle.

Nerves firing. Blood pooling.

Right to the groin.

Oh, God.

It felt so good.

Sherlock’s whole body was alive to how good it felt.

He was being petted, scratched behind the ears, groomed. He was such a pet. John’s pet. John would take such good care of him. He’d find all of Sherlock’s spots, the places that made Sherlock…

Sherlock wanted to purr. He <I>ached</I> to purr.

How ridiculous!

No, no, no.

Think of something! Anything!

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…

It wasn’t working!

Sherlock focused on not moving any part of his body, save the one part that was moving of its accord.

John tut-tutted about something irrelevant as he made another pass with his fingertips. The water was still running, splashing in the basin.

Sherlock’s prick was hard, throbbing, begging for attention. Sherlock cursed his weakness.

Treacherous transport!

Perhaps the universe would be unexpectedly kind, and John would be struck by a temporary yet all-consuming lack of awareness. After all, he was a rather unobservant fellow. It was possible. No probable, but possible.

“Feels good, yeah?”

Sherlock grunted.

Grunting was good, too. It could mean anything.

“All right. I’m coming to the end,” said John.

So am I, thought Sherlock, as he realised there was no ignoring his body’s demands.

He closed his eyes. The body inside the towels tensed, then jerked, but whether the tiny motions had betrayed his condition Sherlock didn’t know.

He could barely feel the cool jolt of the rinse water John was guiding ‘round his head, for the conflict waging within, the pleasure of release versus the humiliation of finding it in these circumstances. The afterglow was strong but so was Sherlock’s shame.

“Sherlock.”

It was an order. Captain Watson was giving him an order. God, was he to be aroused by everything John did? How tiresome. Nevertheless,

Sherlock forced his eyes open.

John was looking down at him and smiling an amused smile that lit his eyes handsomely. His wet vest was plastered to his chest and if Sherlock hadn’t just come, he would surely have been aroused at the sight.

“You’re extraordinary,” said John.

Sherlock was drunk or at least he sounded drunk when he replied. “You haven’t even seen the extraordinary parts of me yet!” he cried. The hard defiance of the tone was quite undermined by the slurring of the syllables.

“Oh, yeah? Are those the two you broke because I think I’ve seen all your other parts.”

Sherlock chuckled. “My mind,” he said and tapped his temple with his unbandaged hand.

“There’ll be plenty of time for that. Come on, Mister Genius, let’s get you in some clothes.”

John adjusted the chair and carefully maneuvered it out of the bathroom and across the hall to the bedroom.

A strong torpor was taking hold of Sherlock, but it was not so strong as to make Sherlock forget that he had drying ejaculate on his skin.

John’s back was to Sherlock when he withdrew a pair of pyjamas from a drawer and began making some crude alterations with a pair of scissors and security pins.

Sherlock attempted to wipe himself with the towels that were about him, but John caught him when he turned back.

Sherlock didn’t know what to say, but John did.

“Sherlock, we’re going to learn a lot about each other in the next few days. Good things, bad things, all kinds of things. I think it’s amazing that you can come from having your hair washed.”

Sherlock flushed. He searched John’s face for jest but found none.

“I have nightmares,” John continued. “Bad ones. You’ll probably hear me shouting, thumping about upstairs. I may even come down and clean that bloody Chernobyl you call a kitchen to avoid seeing what I see and feeling what I feel when I close my eyes.”

“War,” said Sherlock.

“Is hell,” said John. “And then it’s over. And it’s still hell. So, what I’m saying is ‘it’s all fine.’”

“You’re extraordinary, John.”

John smiled a lop-sided smile. “Nah, I’m just a bloke in a skirt trying to make a bob or two.”

That was wrong. That was so wrong Sherlock was momentarily stunned.

“Pyjamas, then bed,” said John.

Sherlock nodded weakly. God, he was tired, but what John had said was wrong.

Into the pyjamas. Onto the bed. John fussing for a short eternity with the pillows and the bedclothes.

“You need proper pillows, Sherlock, and lots more of them. I’m going to put that on the list.”

“Kettle,” mumbled Sherlock.

“That’s Number One on the list,” agreed John. “We’ll talk about what that green slime is later, yeah? Sleep. I’m going to take the van back to the agency, get my stuff, and pick up a few things.”

“Take my card,” said Sherlock, waving toward the drawer of the bedside table and the wallet within. He was too fatigued to be surprised at his willingness to hand the whole of his kingdom, so to speak, over to a stranger.

After all, he wasn’t a stranger. Not really. He was John.

“Your phone’s within reach,” said John.

Sherlock’s eyelids were drooping. He wanted to talk to John, to tell John how wrong he was about that other thing.

What was it?

That thing.

Sherlock couldn’t remember.

He was asleep.

Chapter Text

Sherlock woke to noises. He reached for his phone.

Half three in the morning.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realised that he felt rested, better than he had since the accident.

It all came flooding back.

John.

John was the source of the noises. And the rest.

Sherlock decided he would try the crutches.


“Did I wake you?” asked John.

“Yes, but no matter.”

“Let me get the chair.”

“I can manage with these,” said Sherlock. With John’s help, he arranged two of the kitchen chairs so that he could sit on one with casted leg propped on the other. His casted arm was on the table.

John was standing at the counter in pants and a sleeveless vest. The only light was the one above the stove and it cast a very flattering glow on his mostly nude figure.

Sherlock dismissed this thought and observed,

“You’ve been up a while.”

Every cupboard door was open, and the contents of the cupboards, minus a few items, were piled on the table.

“Yeah. Couldn’t sleep. By the way, all of that,” John indicated a heap of containers and plastic bags on the far counter, “is organs!”

“Yeah, you can bin them,” said Sherlock regretfully. “They’ve all gone off now.”

John stared, then blinked, then said, “Phew! That went much easier than I thought it would.” He marched across the kitchen and summarily dumped the whole lot in a red plastic bag labeled HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. He tied the bag carefully and sat it in the corner. Then he began to put the boxes and tins and containers on the table back into the cupboards.

Sherlock was acutely aware of his helplessness.

“If I had my hand and my violin, I could play for you.”

“If you had your hand and your violin, you wouldn’t need me.”

Sherlock wasn’t so sure of that, but he said nothing.

John continued, “Why you show me that extraordinary part of yours? The one I’ve not seen.”

“Are you asking me to show off?” inquired Sherlock, the incredulity frank in his tone.

“Yeah. If you want.” John wasn’t looking at Sherlock. He was still re-filling the cupboards.

“I’d love to. It’s just no one’s ever requested it before. I mean, not outside a case.”

“Up to you,” said John.

Make it good, make it good.

Sherlock looked about, then his eyes rested on John’s phone.


“…never see those marks on a sober man’s phone, never see a drunk’s without them.”

“Holy Mary,” breathed John when Sherlock had finished. “All right, yeah, you’re the real thing, eh? Christ, a bloody genius. That’s fantastic!”

The way John looked at him, Sherlock’s heart stopped. He was positively beaming.

“Is it? Most people say, ‘Piss off!’”

“Most people are idiots.” Laughing, John closed the distance between them and did something extraordinary: he reached out and rubbed the back of Sherlock’s head.

Sherlock had never been on the receiving end of so easy and affectionate a gesture as an adult, and his shock must’ve showed because John stopped and dropped his hand.

“Sorry. That all right? Too much?”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Sherlock reassured him. “It’s just been a while.”

A while since a handsome, kind, interesting man in his underwear decided to pet Sherlock as well as clean his kitchen at four in the morning?

Try ‘never.’

“Did I get it all right?” asked Sherlock. “The deduction?”

“Oh, yeah, except for Harry being short for Harriet.”

“Sister! There’s always something!”  So much for showing off!

“But tell me this,” said John, turning back to the kitchen, “how did a genius like you happen to break an arm and a leg?”

“A miscalculation.”

“Must’ve been a bad one!”

With everything restored, John closed the cupboard doors one by one, then, with sponges and a spray bottle of cleaner, turned his attention to the counters. “I’m no detective, but I’m guessing that you fell?”

“Yes, from a turret belonging to a castle belonging to an old schoolmate named Reggie Musgrave.”

“Oh, yeah? Let’s hear the story while I work.”


An hour and a half later the counters and stove and refrigerator were clean.

Sherlock and John were on their second cup of tea, a plate with nothing but crumbs between them.

“Christ, Sherlock! A treasure, clues in a riddle poem, family secrets. My therapist says I should write about everything that happens to me, but sod that! I’d rather write about what happens to you!”

“I fell off the turret, that’s what happened!”

“You solved the case, though.”

“True.” Sherlock fiddled with his mug. “You may, you know. Write it up for your blog.”

“Are you serious?”

“John.”

“I remember. You’re always serious. Do you want me to change the names or anything?”

“No. After all, it might be good for business.”

“No such thing as bad publicity.”

“Precisely.”

John nodded. “We’ll see. Let’s get through the next three days.” He drained his mug and stifled a yawn.

Sherlock turned his head. “If it made any difference, you could kip on the…”

“Yeah, no thanks, your sofa has mange.”

“It does not,” said Sherlock a bit defensively. “That’s a bear skin rug. It’s been in storage, but not proper storage, unfortunately, for more than a year. It just needs a professional cleaning.”

John got to his feet and walked towards the sofa. “What are you doing with a bear skin rug?”

“Another case. Dartmoor.”

Sherlock tried not to image John on the bear skin rug and failed.

“Huh. No fleas, I suppose.” John picked up the heavy roll, studied it, then set it on the coffee table. Then he turned around and began brushing the seat of the sofa. “Maybe I will rest for a few minutes. Do you need something? Loo? Chair?”

“Yes and yes,” said Sherlock. “Maybe a shave later?”

“You got it. Me, too.”


Sherlock had rolled his wheelchair near the sofa and pretended to read, but his thoughts were on his sleeping companion. John did not appear to be experiencing any nightmares. As the sun rose, Sherlock set his book aside and dozed in the chair, only to be awakened by footsteps on the stairs.

“Yoo-hoo!”

“SHHH!”

“Oh!” said Mrs. Hudson as her gaze followed Sherlock’s frantic, censorious pointing. She set a hamper down on the floor and put a finger to her lips.

Sherlock checked. John hadn’t stirred.

“Mrs. Hudson, would you…?” He made another gesture, this time a kind of flailing in John’s direction.

Mrs. Hudson’s eyebrows rose, but she did not require further explanation. She went silently down the hall and returned with a blanket, which she carefully tucked around John’s form.

Sherlock nodded and mouthed, “Excellent. Thank you.”

Mrs. Hudson retrieved the hamper and took it to the kitchen.

“Oh, my!” she said in a soft gasp. “Bless him! He’s done all but the lino!” There was the sound of the fridge opening. “No more toes!” She hurried back to Sherlock.

“You will be good to him, won’t you, Sherlock?”

“Yes,” Sherlock promised.

“Shall I make some breakfast for the both of you?”

“That would be wonderful, Mrs. Hudson.” Sherlock took her hands in his and kissed them. “Thank you.”

“I’ve brought everything, plus those pyjamas he asked me to fix up for you.” She winked and went back to the kitchen.

The noise and the aromas from the kitchen soon drifted their way.

John stirred. He snuffled and hummed and grunted. Then he half-opened his eyes and looked at Sherlock, then looked down at the blanket, then looked back at Sherlock and smiled.

Sherlock smiled back.

John’s smile became a bit warm, a bit wicked. But just as he drew the blanket aside, there was a crash of a skillet hitting a hob and a cheery ‘Oopsies!’ from the kitchen.

Sherlock hadn’t missed the telltale tenting of John’s pants, but in an instant, a wide-eyed and now-wide-awake John had gotten to his feet with the blanket wrapped around his waist.

“Mrs. Hudson?” he called.

“Good morning, dear!” she called back. “You’ve done such a good job in here, I thought you deserved a nice fry-up!”

Without looking at Sherlock, John began to hurriedly hobble towards the stairs.

“Thank you so much! I’ll be ready in a few minutes!”

Sherlock felt a pang of something unpleasant until he heard a barefoot shuffle behind him—and felt the affectionate ruffle of his hair.

Chapter Text

Sherlock was not taking a nap.

He was pretending to take a nap while, with the assistance of two fortuitously placed mirrors, he watched John, wearing nothing but his kilt, clean the bathroom.

After breakfast, they’d both shaved, Sherlock with John’s assistance. John had expressed a desire to tackle the bathroom after he’d finished the kitchen. Sherlock had kept John company in the kitchen, regaling him with the details of another successful case, but there wasn’t really space in the bathroom for two if one of the two had a broken arm and a broken leg.

Sherlock had pled fatigue, and John had helped him to bed.

Sherlock said he had no preference about the bedroom door, and John had left it open. The bathroom door was half-open.

Scrubbing. So much scrubbing.

John had peeled his vest off and hung it on the doorknob.

His back. His arms. His chest. His neck. His legs. His bloody scar! Sweaty. Damp.

Sherlock might have gone on surreptitiously ogling if it weren’t for the arrival of an unexpected and, given the timing, most unwelcome visitor.

“Sherlock?”

Damn it!

John put his vest on and hurried down the hall.

“Shhh! He’s taking a nap!”

“A nap? Yeah, right.”

“He is! Lower your voice, please.”

Sherlock smiled. John was a wonderful watchdog.

“Just who are you?”

“John, the housekeeper.”

“What happened to Mrs. Hudson?”

“She’s not his housekeeper! Who are you?”

“Detective Inspector Lestrade.”

John’s tone became friendly. “Oh, Sherlock was just telling me about you!”

“Yeah, well, I’m not half as bumbling as he makes out.”

“Yeah, well, we’re all bumblers compared to him.”

John really was quite amazing. And so honest!

“Right you are. Here. I brought him a few cold cases. Thought they might give keep him out of trouble. Hey, you cleaned the kitchen.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. Of course, John cleaned the kitchen! He was the housekeeper! Brilliant observation and deduction skills, Detective Inspector!

“Yeah, that’s my work.”

“Great job! Looks better than I’ve ever seen it.”

“Thanks, and thanks for these. I bet they’re just what Sherlock needs.”

Sherlock huffed. Thank you, now exit stage left!

“You know, I could use help around my flat.”

What?

“Let me get you a card.”

“Thanks. So the kilt’s…”

John chuckled. “Mandatory.”

“Well, that’s all right. Suits you.”

The kilt did suit John, but what was Lestrade getting at?

“So can I call and ask for you by name?”

“Sure. John Watson. I’m with Sherlock for the next three days to get this place, and him, in good shape but after that…”

Oh, no! Sherlock conjured up the image of a shirtless John scrubbing Lestrade bathroom. This had to be nipped in the bud! The chair would take too long. Sherlock went for the crutches.

“Here. Let me give you my card. I’ll put my personal number on the back, and if you have any trouble with Sherlock, just let me know. He can get a bit, you know.”

Did ‘you know’ mean ‘extraordinary’ and ‘amazing’ and ‘fantastic’?!

“Thanks.”

“Even if you just need to grab a pint and blow off steam…”

John laughed.

Enough!

“Lestrade!”

Sherlock hobbled down the hall.

“I guess he’s up!” remarked Lestrade cheerfully.

Sherlock looked past John and narrowed his gaze.

“Hello, Detective Inspector.”

“Hello, Sherlock. You seem to be doing better. Taking naps, I hear?”

“He brought you some cold cases, Sherlock,” interjected John. “Let me get the chair.”

“Thank you, John,” said Sherlock politely.

John went up the hall. Lestrade’s eyes followed him. Sherlock glared at Lestrade, who had the decency to blush and look away when he was caught out.

Ogling my housekeeper!

“Good idea for you to get some help.”

“Yes, it was.”

“Here we go!” called John.

Sherlock settled in the chair and took the files that John offered him. He leafed through the first one.

“So, what’s next?” asked Lestrade.

“You are leaving,” said Sherlock without looking up.

“I was talking to John, Sherlock.”

“I’m just finishing up the bathroom. Then the hall. Maybe a bit of Sherlock’s bedroom if there’s time.”

“Not in here?”

“Not today. Tomorrow. I’m have a few colleagues help out.”

“Yeah. I can see that. I’ll be going. Good luck, Sherlock. Nice to meet you, John.”

“You, too,” said John.

Sherlock said nothing until Lestrade’s patience ran out and he turned to go.

When Lestrade reached the threshold, Sherlock slapped the file closed.

“Oh, Detective Inspector?”

Lestrade turned back. “Hmm?”

Sherlock held out the file. “The brother is the murderer. He has a green ladder. Arrest him. You’re welcome.”

John howled and clapped his hands together. “Oh, ho, ho! Holy Mary!” He cackled and ruffled Sherlock’s hair. “Wow! Just for that, you’re getting my very special pasta carbonara tonight, m’boy!” Then he did a kind of drunken jig down the hall, whooping and laughing.

Sherlock smirked. “Showing off. It’s what I do.”

Lestrade looked constipated. “Thanks,” he grumbled as he snatched the file and left.


“You absolute bastard.”

Mycroft Holmes looked over as Lestrade slid onto the stool beside him.

“You called it, Mister Holmes. A bet’s a bet. First round’s on me.”

“You saw Sherlock?”

“Yeah. And John Watson.” Lestrade motioned to the barman. “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

“So you agree with my assessment?”

“Yup. Gone. Your brother is fuckin’ gone on that housekeeper of his. I sort of, you know, and Sherlock got all,” Lestrade waved his hands, “woo-hoo!” He shook his head slowly. “I thought you geniuses left that stuff to the rest of us poor sods.”

“Some of us do,” murmured Mycroft weakly, looking everywhere but Lestrade.

A plate of crisps and a pint appeared.

“Hullo, my baby!” cried Lestrade jubilantly. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

Mycroft exhaled. “What do you suggest?”

“Advice from me, the happy divorcée?”

Mycroft winced.

“Sorry.” Lestrade drank, then he sighed. “I don’t know John very well, but I like him. He takes his job seriously. He seems genuinely concerned for Sherlock’s welfare, and,” he leaned closer to Mycroft and whispered in a gossipy tone, “your brother lets him ruffle his pretty little hair.”

Lestrade gave an imitation of John’s gesture in the air.

“No!” gasped Mycroft, in genuine, if slightly dramatic, disbelief.

“Yes!”

“Dear me!”

“And Sherlock likes it!” Lestrade laughed, then he eyed the large screen behind the bar and raised his glass to it. “So, are you gonna stay for the game?”

Mycroft turned his head, the better to hide his blank expression, and said, “Of course. Wouldn’t miss it.”

Chapter Text

“PISS OFF!”

A flash of tartan, and then there were only three Men in Kilts standing in sitting room of 221B Baker Street.

Sherlock met John’s gaze.

“Not good?”

“A bit.”

John’s heart broke when he saw Sherlock’s expression harden.

“Then I’ll leave you gentlemen to your work,” he said, then executed a turn in the wheelchair and rolled down the hall to his bedroom.

Two sets of eyes turned to John, who said, “Let’s get on with it, then.”


Four hours later, John knocked softly on Sherlock’s bedroom door.

“Come in.”

Sherlock was still in the chair, his back to John.

John gave into the first half of an urge and rested his hands upon Sherlock’s shoulders. He left them there for a moment, giving Sherlock an opportunity to shrug away or make some stinging comment. When neither resulted, John gave into the second half of the urge and slid his hands down Sherlock’s arms to his elbows and leaned in and whispered,

“Have lunch with us.”

“Not hungry,” said Sherlock, a thick book, as best as John could tell about astronomy, lay on his lap.

“Then keep us company.”

“I’m certain my company is not wanted, John.”

“You’re wrong. Cooper greatly desires your advice on an odd thing that happened to his neighbour, and Southwick is dying for you to demonstrate your guillotine. Plus, you can assess our progress.”

Sherlock turned his head. The grey of his irises was soft, like the grey of a cat’s fur.


Four more hours later, there were hearty handshakes all around.

John stood in the window, watching his colleagues load the van and take off.

“Not bad,” said Sherlock, his eyes surveying the tidy sitting room, “for a trio of blokes in skirts just trying to make a bob or two.”

John smiled. Then he sighed. “You know, I was thinking—”

“I should do so,” retorted Sherlock, but his tiny little grin took the rancor out of the barb.

“—why don’t we have a proper tea for your brother tomorrow?” continued John, unperturbed.

“Excellent idea. Mycroft’s first love is cake.”

“That right?” John pushed away from window. “I’ll change and go to shops.”

He passed by Sherlock as he headed for the stairs.

“John.”

Sherlock lifted his hand to ruffle the hem of John’s kilt.

John stopped, then stepped closer, letting the hand curl ‘round the back of his thigh. He looked down at Sherlock, who said,

“Thank you.”

“My pleasure.”

“No,” said Sherlock gently. “But it could be—”

“THE THINGS SAYS 2-2-1-B. OH, YEA, THE B’ S UP HERE!”

“Bloody hell,” breathed Sherlock, releasing his grip on John’s thigh and dropping his arm.

“Who’s that?” asked John, frowning.

“They’re here to collect the bearskin hearth rug. I’m having it professionally cleaned.”

“Oh? It’ll impress the clients and be a conversation piece.”

“Among other things.”

The wicked look Sherlock shot John required no interpretation and went straight to John’s groin, but in the spirit of not putting on a show in a tented kilt, John pulled away from Sherlock and bounded up the stairs before the two sets of heavy boots reached the sitting room.


Later that night, John had a nice, quiet wank to images of him and Sherlock doing all sorts of things to each other on the bearskin hearth rug.

But unfortunately for John as nightcaps went, masturbation was no more effective than, say, drink, or even counting sheep.

Very soon he was at war once more and woke soaked with sweat and unsure of where or who he was, only that danger lay all about him.

John might have stayed in that horrid limbo for much longer if it weren’t for the cry and crash from below, which jerked him out of his fog.

“Sherlock!”

John flew down the stairs and down the hall and found Sherlock in a heap on the floor, nearly atop the wheelchair.

“Nightmare?” he asked as he struggled to hoist Sherlock into bed; a task made difficult by the heavy, cumbersome casts and the disarranged pyjamas.

“Not as bad as yours.”

John halted. He stared. “Did I wake you?” he then asked, feeling the heat rise in his cheeks.

“Did I wake you?”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t having much fun. Was it the pillows? I thought these new ones were working out better.”

“They’re fine.”

A few minutes of fussing, and they were fine, at least to John’s estimation.

“All right. No injuries, right?” he said.

“No new ones,” said Sherlock.

“Sorry. I’m just nervous about your brother’s visit tomorrow. Don’t want you looking worse than you were.”

“Don’t worry about that. I feel like the fatted calf!”

“Not sorry about that. You’re looking much healthier. But I am sorry that I woke you.”

Sherlock scowled at his left arm. “I wish I had this hand and my violin. Then I could play for you. It might help.”

“That’s a beautiful thought,” said John. “But why do I get the feeling that you’re more like Paganini with your instrument? Sawing for the devil is much more interesting that oozing out lullabies for war-cracked ex-soldiers.”

Sherlock sat up. “Do you like Paganini?”

John smiled. “A well-played violin is a treat for the gods, but—”

“I know tons of stories about Paganini. Come.” Sherlock threw back the covers. “I can’t play for you, but I can at least distract you until dawn.”

John looked, but there was absolutely no seduction in Sherlock’s tone or his expression. In fact, John had the bubbly feeling of being invited to a sleep-over at a school chum’s house. Without hesitation, he crawled in the bed, on Sherlock’s right, and tucked himself, and one of the old pillows, against Sherlock’s side.

“Now, let’s see. The ‘selling his soul to the devil’ rumor…”

John was asleep within five minutes.


Sherlock studied his face.

The most extraordinary thing about John Watson, Sherlock decided, was how humiliation never stood a chance with him.

In the morning, Sherlock had made a gaffe with John’s colleagues, admittedly a typical gaffe that Sherlock had made hundreds of times before, and John had managed to smooth things over when Sherlock himself would’ve been content to sulk and then add it to his bitter horde of resentments of ‘idiots with their idiotic lives.’

And now, when Sherlock had paid for his foolishness in attempting to masturbate while lying on his broken side by falling out of the bed, John, the object of Sherlock’s fantasy, of course, had come to the rescue and…

And what?

And they were now having a bit of cuddle!

Sherlock sighed and looked up at the ceiling and wondered,

How can I keep him?


 

In the end, keeping John wasn’t Sherlock’s doing at all.

“Doctor Watson,” said Mycroft Holmes as he scraped the very last smear of icing from his plate with his fork, “I propose that you remain here as Sherlock’s paid, well paid, mind you, in-house companion for the remainder of his convalescence, which I understand is approximately five weeks. I know that maintaining this excellent state of domestic hygiene that you and your colleagues have achieved will not require as much time or effort as establishing it, so you would be free to accept jobs from your agency or even locum work in your original profession, should you wish to do so, as long as Sherlock’s needs take priority.”

John looked across the table. “Sherlock?”

Sherlock didn’t trust his voice. He nodded and made a noise that he hoped sounded something like,

“Quite.”

“All right. It’s a deal.”

John reached out and shook Sherlock’s hand and then Mycroft’s, then he rose and said, “Well, like my gran always said, ‘Begin as you mean to go on.’”

Sherlock felt uncomfortable as John began to clear away the tea things. He felt even more uncomfortable when he saw that Mycroft was positively beaming; whether Mycroft’s state was because he was full of cake or class distinctions, Sherlock didn’t know or care.

Sherlock wanted his brother gone. Now.

The Stradivarius was resting in Sherlock’s armchair.

Sherlock’s armchair.

That was another thing, a thing that distracted Sherlock from his annoyance with Mycroft.

John needed an armchair. He could use Sherlock’s for now because Sherlock had the wheelchair and, thanks to the three Men in Kilts, plenty of space to maneuver it, but if John were to stay…

Sherlock stored the thought in his Mind Palace.

He bid Mycroft farewell, ignoring his brother’s attempts to meet his gaze.

John was at the sink doing the washing-up.

Sherlock took up one of the files that Lestrade had left and rolled back to the kitchen table, which was now clean, and spread out the photographs and diagrams and pages of notes.

Half of Sherlock’s mind was on the Hull case and half was on John. When John dried his hands for the last time, Sherlock turned his head.

There.

There, in John’s eyes, was mirrored the joy that Sherlock felt.

If only Sherlock had legs, he would close the distance between them and…

John’s lips were on his.

It was a too-quick, chaste kiss, and Sherlock waved his right hand and said impatiently,

“This side, my good side.”

That was better. He could reach up and brush the short hairs at the nape of John’s neck.

This kiss lingered.

John perched on the arm of chair and looked photographs on the table. “Another puzzle?”

“Hmm.” Sherlock was looking at John and snaking an arm ‘round John’s waist.

“Strange that nothing in the room but the legs of that piano are casting a shadow.”

“What?” Sherlock blinked.

John pointed. “Those piano legs. Look.”

Sherlock’s arm uncoiled from John and went to the photographs, shuffling them. “John, you may have a solved it!”

“You’re joking!”

“A bit, but not much.”

“Beginner’s luck, eh?”

“Something like that. Give me my phone. I need Lestrade.”

John reached into Sherlock’s dressing gown pocket and slapped the mobile on the table. “I’ve got to go, an appointment with my therapist. Gran was right, though. Begin as you mean to go on. Snogging and solving crimes? Well, that’s all right, ain’t it?”

Sherlock barely heard him; his mind was whirring as he tapped his phone.

Chapter Text

The John Watson who returned that evening wasn’t the same one that had left. This personage was distracted; oh, he was polite and civil, but that was all.

Sherlock begged off an evening meal, saying he’d rather read in bed, and John didn’t press the matter.

John helped Sherlock with washing and dressing and getting into bed without so much as a hint of the earlier affection.

Efficient, kind, and wholly clinical.

As John made to go, Sherlock inquired, using the most indirect phrasing and impersonal tone he could contrive, if John was all right.

John shrugged. “Therapy.”

Sherlock nodded as if he understood and settled down to brood on the matter.

Therapy would do that, of course. Sherlock’s own experience had taught him that lesson although in his case the therapists had left their sessions in much worse spirits than Sherlock himself.

As Sherlock considered John's mood, he was struck by an irrational malevolence toward this so-called mental health specialist who made John dredge up painful memories and wound himself all over again. Next came a stronger, vaguer, and even more irrational hate for the war that had caused the memories in the first place.

But what could be done? Nothing. Ah, well, a good night’s rest and—

Oh, who was Sherlock kidding? John wasn’t going to have a good night’s rest!

Sherlock scowled at his left arm.

Damn it!

If Sherlock hadn’t broken his arm, he could have played his violin for John. Something soothing. Mendelssohn. John would like Mendelssohn; of that, Sherlock was certain. And Mendelssohn would help John sleep. And Sherlock would be able to tell John just how he felt, to say all the things he couldn’t say with words.

Sherlock sighed.

In the morning, he would do something, say something, to John about it. He didn’t want to press a confidence, but if they were friends…

Friends!

What did friends do? Something surely. But what?

Sleep encroached on this puzzle, but just before Sherlock drifted off, he had it.

Tea!

Sherlock would get up and make tea for John.

Perfect.


Early the following morning, Sherlock had a determined look in his eye and a proud smile on his face as he wheeled himself, thank you very much, down the hall toward the kitchen.

He would make tea for John, make John happy, ask him what was wrong, listen as long as John needed, offer him a palliative handjob, etcetera, etcetera.

Sherlock scooted along quite happily until—

Damn it!

John was leaning against the wall between the hall and the kitchen, his back to Sherlock.

Do something, say something, you absolute machine!

Sherlock reached a hand out and brushed John’s elbow.

“Joh—"

“AARGH—shit, shit, shit!”

Sherlock hurriedly rolled in the room and turned in time to see John rushing to the sink, leaving a trail of drops behind him on the lino. The mug crashed into the sink, and John turned on the tap and put his hand in the stream, his teeth clenched, the front of his white vest and kilt covered in teak-coloured splatter.

Sherlock cursed himself.

Well done, genius, you just startled a shell-shocked war hero. Bravo!

“I’m so sorry, John.”

“My fault entirely,” hissed John. “I can’t believe I didn’t hear you. I mean, you’re not exactly stealth incarnate, are you?” He glanced at Sherlock and his face turned pink. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“And I didn’t mean to trigger your hypervigilance,” muttered Sherlock. He studied John’s face, and in an instant, something, not logic, not his brain, but something else entirely, spoke to him.

This isn’t the war. This is you.

Sherlock’s anger flashed white-hot.

If that therapist had said something about Sherlock to John—

Sherlock put the brakes on that thought and frowned.

If the therapist had said something about Sherlock, John would’ve defended Sherlock. Of that, Sherlock had not a single doubt.

Then the therapist had said something about John related to Sherlock.

But what?

Oh, fuck!

When the penny dropped, it went off like a bomb.

“How do you think I feel?” asked Sherlock with a caustic, melodramatic sneer. “I’m paying you to clean! It’s like the young master exercising his droit du seigneur upon the poor tweenie!” He huffed and rolled his eyes, looked away and then looked at John, whose reserve and distress had been pushed aside to make way for utter awe.

He honestly believes I can read minds, thought Sherlock, and I shall never disabuse him of the notion, well, not as long as he keeps looking at me like that.

Then John’s grief returned.

“You’re practically a patient, Sherlock,” he wailed as he ran a hand through his hair.

Sherlock badly wanted two working legs so he could walk over, stand behind John, and kiss the nape of his neck. Instead, he countered,

“And I suppose I overlooked the part of the Men in Kilts contract that includes sexual favours.”

John nodded once. “You could have me struck off. And sacked. And arrested. It’s not much of a life, I’ll admit, but it’s better than—”

“John.” Their eyes met. “Why don’t we be unscrupulous bastards together?”

There was a moment of silence, then they both laughed like children.

Still grinning, John closed the distance between them and bent low to kiss Sherlock.

Damn!


"For the first time, I’m glad I’m sitting down,” said Sherlock when they finally came up for air.

John kissed the tip of Sherlock’s nose. “I wouldn’t hurt you for the world, Sherlock.”

“I know.”

“And I’m not pretending to want you because you’re paying me to clean your flat.”

“I know that, too.”

“Anything you don’t know?”

Before Sherlock could answer, John kissed him again. Slow and soft and oh, so wonderful.

Sherlock pulled away. “I know how I want to celebrate.”

“How?” It was patently charming that John didn’t bother to ask what they were celebrating.

Sherlock smiled and said in a low husky purr,

“I think my hair needs a wash, don’t you?”

Chapter Text

“It’s like another one of your superpowers.”

John spoke softly, almost reverently, as he wiped Sherlock’s skin with a damp flannel, careful to avoid the now-flaccid cock.

The fragrance of Sherlock’s poncey shampoo still hung in the air, tickling John’s nose. He looked down and indulged in another brief study of Sherlock’s face, this time admiring his hair, the way the dark ringlets hung from the sleek cap that framed his handsome blend of angular and soft features.

Without warning, Sherlock’s expression contorted. Eyes which had been merely closed tightened into pinched creases, lips pressed together until they disappeared, and jaw muscles tensed.

Alarmed, John’s eyes darted up and down Sherlock’s body, searching for the source of discomfort.

Surely, Sherlock wasn’t embarrassed. After all, he’d asked for it, as well as given every sign of enjoying it as much as John had.

“Sherlock?”

With his free arm, John was maintaining the combined ensemble of Sherlock and the wheelchair in an extraordinarily precarious position, one that had allowed Sherlock’s head to dangle over the wash basin but could not be sustained indefinitely.

John tossed the flannel in the basin, tugged at Sherlock’s pyjamas until his exposed prick was covered, then gingerly guided the chair to floor. He made no attempt to disguise his anxiety when he said,

“Talk to me, Sherlock. Are you in pain?”

Sherlock spoke slowly and precisely, like an actor rehearsing his lines, every word seeming to cost him a small fortune of emotion.

“I, who know practically everything, do not seem to understand why you, John, who admittedly know much less than practically everything,” Sherlock paused and sniffed, then bracing himself, went on, “appear to be constitutionally incapable of seeking the freakish in me.”

John chuckled with relief.

“I suppose that’s my superpower.”

Sherlock’s eyes opened.

“One of them.”

A corner of John’s mouth curled up. “Let’s go.” He gave a nod toward Sherlock’s bedroom.

“No.” Sherlock’s lips quivered. “Here. Please.”

Fingertips pulled at the hem of John’s kilt, then dipped beneath and brushed his bare thigh in a tantalising fashion.

“You might be more comfortable over there, Sherlock. We’re wedged in a space that wasn’t designed for you and me and all of this,” John gave a wave that compassed Sherlock’s casts and the lower half of his own body.

Sherlock shook his head stubbornly. “No. Here. Now. Please.”

It was the second ‘please’ that slayed John’s resolve.

“All right. Where do you keep…?”

Sherlock looked to the cabinet behind John.

Soon John was squeezing lubricant into the palm of Sherlock’s right hand and holding his breath until Sherlock’s fingers found his prick.

Hard and ready. Thank God.

John exhaled a sigh of relief and peeled off his tea-stained vest.

“You should’ve done that ages ago,” remarked Sherlock as he began to coat John’s shaft with slick in slow, easy strokes from base to head.

John had one hand gripping the edge of the wash basin and the other on wheelchair. He widened his stance and bent his knees, trying to root himself to the ground even as his hips, seemingly of their own volition, bucked gently into Sherlock’s sliding hand. As John’s eyelids drooped, he smiled a full smile and let a running commentary spill from his lips uncensored.

“Nice and easy. Not too tight, not too loose. God, that’s nice, Sherlock. No hurry. No rush. Like we could do it…”

“All day?”

“I wish! Unfortunately for you, I’m not the man I once was.”

“On the contrary, it’s my exquisite fortune because the man you are at this very moment reduces me to a very Victorian swoon. I shouldn’t have survived an encounter with an earlier iteration. Not without smelling salts.”

John hardly believed the flattery, but he laughed anyway.

Sherlock tightened his grip and sped up his pace, his thumb teasing John’s prickhead every time it passed over the top.

“Oh, you do know a trick or two, don’t you?” teased John.

“And I have made a mental note to learn a seasoned conjuror’s repertoire as quickly as possible.”

John wanted to laugh again but pleasure was pooling too fast in his groin. He moaned Sherlock’s name.

“Ready?”

“Ready when you are, gorgeous.”

The last thread of John’s reserve snapped.

Sherlock pumped hard and fast until John gave a coarse grunt and spent himself all over Sherlock’s hand and the underside of the tartan.

“Good,” said Sherlock as John retrieved the wet flannel from the basin, wrung it out, and began to clean himself.

John hastened to reassure him. “It was much better than ‘good,’ Sherlock.” He took Sherlock’s hand in his and wiped it as a mother might a child’s.

Sherlock huffed. “Not that. I meant ‘good’ in the sense that now no matter how many interruptions we suffer or how many rows that erupt, no matter if I ruin this beautiful thing between us, which I almost certainly will do, by the way, no matter any of that, at least, at the very least, I can rest in the knowledge that, even in this wretched state, I brought you some pleasure, a moment’s pleasure, perhaps, but one which may lead to a moment’s undisturbed rest. And that will be enough, more than enough for me.”

John stared for a moment, then said, “You, Sherlock, are something out of a bloody novel, several bloody novels, in fact, all stitched together.” He cupped Sherlock’s jaw and raised his head. Then he bent and pressed his lips to Sherlock’s lips in a tender, chaste kiss and rested his forehead against Sherlock’s.

John closed his eyes and sighed.

“Next door, you gorgeous, melodramatic sod.”


John’s mouth was hard and demanding and open, his tongue caressing Sherlock’s lips with the wisdom of many years and three continents. The taste of Sherlock, and the freedom with which Sherlock allowed him to plunder, both delighted and electrified him.

Sherlock moved his tongue tentatively at first, then with greater and greater daring. Their tongues brushed each other, Sherlock mimicking John’s teasing touches. They might have been dancing, John leading, Sherlock following.

John carded his fingers in Sherlock’s damp hair. He held Sherlock’s head still as he inclined his head to one side and resumed the kiss.

Sherlock’s free hand was roaming about John’s chest, exploring.

Any other time the nipple play, the mapping of the scar on John’s left shoulder, and, above all, the smooth frisson brought about by Sherlock’s touch would have been front and centre in John’s mind, but in that moment, all he could think about was Sherlock bloody perfect mouth and making something debauched of it.

John softened the kiss as he inclined his head in the opposite direction.

Sherlock murmured a faint protest.

“Don’t worry,” John whispered. “I’m not done with you yet. Not by half.”

He pressed dainty little kisses to Sherlock’s cheek and the corner of Sherlock’s mouth, then he bit at Sherlock’s bottom lip, drawing it between his teeth, then pulling back to see just how swollen it was.

John looked at the wet, ravished mouth with no little pride; then he yanked Sherlock’s head back by the hair, a sudden, violent motion.

Sherlock’s eyelids fluttered open, seemingly involuntarily.

“John.”

John let ever bit of pent-up desire break free and crushed his mouth to Sherlock’s with such force he could feel his teeth dig into his own lips.

Hot. Fierce. Desperate.

Every undulation, every shift of pressure, every swipe of the tongue made a declaration.

This.

This is how much I want you.

This much.

Don’t forget this.

Sherlock whimpered.

John dropped one hand to Sherlock’s lap.

Bloody hell. The gorgeous sod was hard again.

John broke away and looked down, taking in the damp circle in the fabric.

Hard and leaking.

“May I touch you, Sherlock?”

“You may and you must,” Sherlock wheezed. “But, really, John, need you ask? You’ve been touching me for days.”

“That was keeping you clean,” said John, his voice a harsh baritone. “This will be making you very dirty.”

“Oh, God, yes.”

Sherlock pyjama top was held together with Velcro adhesive. One hard jerk of John’s two hands and his bare chest was exposed.

“Let me get—”

“Here.” Sherlock snaked his right hand behind him and produced the bottle of lubricant. “But may I suggest we add it to the very top of the shopping list? I shouldn’t want run out.”

John smiled. “Noted.”

John curled his wet fingers ‘round Sherlock’s prick; they groaned together, open-mouthed, their breaths mingling.

It felt so good to touch Sherlock like this. His prick, soft skin encasing the stiff, throbbing, engorged tissue, felt perfect in John’s grasp. John told Sherlock this, then kissed him and kept on kissing him as he drew his hand up and down the long, lean shaft.

John did not let up either assault, of mouth or of prick, until Sherlock’s body convulsed, until he was swallowing Sherlock’s gasp and feeling the warm dribbles on his hand.

“You are magnificent,” John whispered into Sherlock’s ear. He wasn’t certain that Sherlock understood or even heard him, but finally, Sherlock replied.

“You,” he said hoarsely and simply.

But it was enough.

They remained like that for a few minutes, Sherlock regaining control of himself while John stroked his hair and rubbed his lips against Sherlock’s temple.

Then John stood, stretching his back.

“You?” It was a question now. Sherlock ruffled the hem of the kilt once more.

Inevitably, perhaps, the ghost of the old ‘Three Continents’ John Watson rose at this invitation, and John could not hide the bitterness in his voice.

“No, thank you. Please don’t think it has anything to do with you. I’m just not able to get back in the saddle as quickly as I used to.”

Sleep wasn’t the only bedtime activity the war had spoiled for John; his body’s eager and ready response to Sherlock in the bathroom had been a pleasant surprise as well as a hopeful sign.

But he didn’t really want to talk about that now.

John met Sherlock’s gaze, and Sherlock must’ve read something in John’s expression for he let the matter drop.

A wiry growl filled the air.

John smiled. It appeared someone had worked up an appetite. “Hungry?”

Sherlock’s brow crinkled, and his eyes drifted to a spot over John’s shoulder.

“Yes,” he said as if surprised by his answer. “Starving.”


Later, at the sink, John stifled a yawn.

“John.”

“I’m all right. Maybe some coffee…”

“A nap might be better,” suggested Sherlock gently.

John liked the bedroom upstairs, really, he did but…

“Sofa?”

John looked up from the sudsy water and glanced at the sofa. He’d had a decent kip there once before.

“Just a few minutes, yeah?”

“Of course.”


The only thing John knew for certain was that he felt good, better than he had in a long time. There was no pain, no discomfort, no ache at all.

Well, except in one spot.

John smiled.

He felt gloriously alive, as if he could feel every cell of his body from his waist to his knees celebrating how alive he was.

Morning wood. Hello, old friend. Where have you been?

John turned his head. With a thin sliver of light, he was able to make out the shape of a bottle on a table.

He congratulated himself on being a rather prescient sod for leaving the lube about so conveniently and reached for the bottle. He sloppily coated both hands. Then he bent his leg and put one bare foot on the bed.

He would welcome this prodigal condition back in true Biblical style. Killing the fatted calf in this case meant cupping his balls and teasing the strip between balls and arse as he frigged himself. He let his head loll to one side.

Only one word occurred to him, and he spoke it aloud.

“Sherlock.”

“John!”

John blinked.

Oh.

The lube had been on the coffee table, not the bedside table. He was lying on the sofa, not a bed, with his kilt flipped up and both hands between his legs. He was in the sitting room, not the bedroom, and Sherlock was in the wheelchair, facing him, watching him.

Morning wood? John glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. It was half three in the afternoon!

These realisations did not dampen John's good mood.

Was all it took a good night or, in this case, a good afternoon nap?

John didn’t know, but he did know that he wasn’t quite ready to rejoin the world of the fully conscious.

And apparently, Sherlock wasn’t ready for him to join it either, for he begged,

“Please don’t stop, John.”

John looked down at himself.

Well, he thought rakishly, in for a penny…

He looked over at Sherlock and slowly licked his lips.

Sherlock’s eyes widened, and his mouth twitched.

John grinned and thought, Give ‘im his money’s worth, Watson.

He set one foot to the arm of the sofa and balanced the other on the edge of the coffee table. He closed his eyes and turned his head away from Sherlock, into the cushions.

Then he allowed himself to sink back into a kind of erotic limbo, not asleep, but not entirely awake either.

And he fucked himself, quite shamelessly, as if he had just surfaced from a debauched dream with the perfect erection and had all the time in the world to find his release.

John rubbed his prick, but he also played with his nipples and fondled his balls and ran an index finger back to the crease of his buttocks. He arched his spine, lifted his hips, and spread his knees as wide as he dared.

And he let Sherlock see it all.

For a while, the only word John allowed himself to utter was Sherlock’s name. Then he turned his head, no longer able to resist a peek at the effect his performance was having on the audience.

Oh, God.

Sherlock was palming himself through his pyjamas, the movement his hand synchronised to that of the one around John’s prick, his grey eyes blown black, his expression wild.

John sat up. “No!” It was his battlefield voice.

Startled, Sherlock froze.

John moderated his tone. “Don’t touch yourself yet. Just watch me.”

Sherlock nodded mutely.

John leaned back and finished quickly. Then, without a care for the mess he’d made of himself, he flew to Sherlock’s side.

“Sherlock, may I suck you off? I’ve wanted to since we first met.”

Sherlock’s jaw dropped, his mouth hanging in a perfect O. He nodded again without so much as a squeak.

It didn’t take long.

John had barely settled in before Sherlock was tapping him on the head.

“John…”

John gripped Sherlock’s hips, telling him in no uncertain terms to go ahead and come in his mouth.

Sherlock cried out and spent himself.

John pulled off, his lips in a tight grimace. Sherlock offered him a bundle of cloth, later John would realise it was his own tea-stained vest, and John spit into it.

“Been a while. Takes some getting used to,” he coughed as he wiped his mouth.

“John. That was…”

John hummed; the ghost of Three Continents didn’t feel quite so heavy now. He looked up and smiled.

God, the look on Sherlock’s face! Rendering a genius speechless was really quite something. John might get addicted to it if he didn’t watch himself.

After a few moments of silence, John took pity.

“Why don’t we go to bed? I’ll pet you until you nod off or get your bearings back or both.”

Sherlock swallowed and managed a soft,

“Perfect.”

Chapter Text

“Oh, God, I’ve got to go. I’m late.”

Sherlock gave a rumble of protest. “He’ll wait.”

“Not very professional, Sherlock.”

“Not very professional to be upstaged at crime scenes, either, but he’s got used to it.”

“You’ll be all right by yourself?”

“For the thousandth time, yes! Go!”

John leaned down and kissed him. “I thought you wanted me to stay.” He ruffled Sherlock’s hair.


“Good evening, John.”

“I’m sorry I’m late, Sherlock. Should I have texted you? I thought about it, but I wasn’t certain if that was something you and I did.”

“I wasn’t worried. Or waiting up,” lied Sherlock.

“Yeah, well, I missed you like crazy.” John strode towards Sherlock with hands raised and cupped, then froze. “No, I’m gross. Shower, first, then snog.”

Sherlock's heart leapt. “I got Chinese,” he said as casually as he could manage and waved his right hand toward the kitchen.

“Oh, yeah?!” John hurried to the oven and peered inside. “Have you eaten already?”

“No, I wasn’t hungry until now.” Another lie. “Beer in the fridge.”

John’s expression became near ecstatic. “Really?!” He flew to the fridge and opened the door. “Oh, you, beautiful, beautiful man, fuck gross, I’m going to kiss you.” He slammed the door shut.

The kiss was long and hard, grateful and gratifying.

“I could eat a horse!” cried John. Then his voice fell. “Or shall I suck you off first?”

Sherlock’s eyes flickered up and down John, contemplating the possibilities.

“Yeah, I know,” said John, misreading Sherlock’s silence. “Shower, first. I’ll make it a quick one. Then I’ll tell you what made me so late.”

“Give me a clue.”

John snorted. “Your brother’s a prat.”

“That’s not a clue. That’s a definition.”

John laughed.


They sat as close as possible given the wheelchair, the table, and the feast.

When John had finally made a sizeable dent in his hunger, he said,

“Your brother picked me up in his posh car on the way home from Lestrade’s and took me to an abandoned warehouse. He tried to intimidate me, then he asked me what my intentions were towards you. At least, I think that’s what he was asking. He used an awful lot of words.”

Sherlock scowled. “If you weren’t already getting paid, he’d offer you money to spy on me!”

“Yeah, well, don’t worry. I set him straight.”

“What did you say?”

“I told him that I was mad about you. That I enjoyed spending time with you. That I liked listening to you talk about your work. That I liked how your mind worked and was amazed at all the things you could do. That I liked taking care of you. That I thought you were gorgeous and could hardly keep my hands off you. In short, that I adored you and was grateful for every moment that we were together.”

Sherlock stared, speechless, as the clock on the mantelpiece ticked. Finally, he asked,

“And what did he do?”

John crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair and laughed. “He did just what you just did. Really, the likeness is uncanny.”

Sherlock harrumphed.

“Then I told him if he didn’t take me straight home that I would never tell him what Lestrade said about him earlier today.”

Sherlock’s eyes widened, and he gasped. “How did you know?”

John grinned and imitated Sherlock’s voice, “’Shot in the dark. Good one, though.’” He took a swig of beer and continued. “It was something you said to him when he was over for tea. I thought it a strange kind of needling until I talked to Lestrade. Did you know that your brother put him up to coming over the other day with the cold cases? Just to check me out and see your reaction.”

“Ugh! I hate him!”

“He loves you, Sherlock. He just has a very odd way of showing it.”

They went back to eating in companionable silence.


As John cleaned up, Sherlock asked,

“Not that I care, but what did Lestrade say?”

“He called Mycroft a long, cool drink of water.”

Sherlock frowned. “I suppose that’s better than a wide, fat square of cake.”

“Lestrade has no notion that your brother feels anything for anyone, apart from his fraternal devotion to you. I have no clue what his reaction would be if he found out the truth. I, for one, am not going to tell him.”

“Me neither. John, about the other?”

“Hmm?”

Sherlock bit his lip, then said, “I was waiting up. And a bit worried.”

John smiled. As he moved to collect the plates, he kissed the top of Sherlock’s head.

“I’ll text next time, promise.”

Sherlock looked up. “Do you want to sleep with me?”

John stopped.

Sherlock flushed. “I mean, share a bed. The other, too, but…”

“If you want to have sex, sure, but to sleep? No. I still have a lot of trouble sleeping.” Sherlock opened his mouth; John raised a hand. “Even if you swear it wouldn’t bother you, Sherlock, it would bother me. I’m just not ready to do that.”

“Very well. And, John, all those things you said to Mycroft, uh, me, too.”

“You like listening to me talk about my work?” teased John.

“Uh…”

“Well, brace yourself because have I got some wild stories to tell you about Lestrade’s newly tiled-bathroom and the vicious dust bunnies under his sofa.” 

Chapter Text

Three a.m. found John sitting on the floor of the upstairs bedroom, back against the door, elbows on bent knees, drooping head in his hands, skin damp with cold sweat, and mind drowning in misery.

The bedclothes were on the floor, too. And the lamp. And John’s service revolver.

What was he doing? Cleaning flats. To do what? Scrape together a bit of money. And for what? He’d been a soldier, been a doctor, and now he was what? What was the bloody point of it all? Mightn’t it be better if he just…

He was nothing. A meatsack with a mind that played tricks on him. It wouldn’t let him rest. It conjured up all kinds of things, things that weren’t there. Like, right now, he thought he could hear Sherlock calling his name, poor, beautiful, half-broken Sherlock, who was tucked snug in his bed a floor below…

“John!”

It sounded so real…so near…

Knock-knock-knock! KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Knock-knock-knock!

“JOHN!”

John started.

It was near! Too near!

John got to his knees and opened the door.

“Sherlock! Bloody hell!”

“Hullo,” said Sherlock. He was on the floor, too, slumped at an awkward angle against the walls of the landing. “Fancy a cuppa?”

John stared incredulously. “Cuppa?!” Even in the darkness, he could make out Sherlock’s expression, grey eyes momentarily caught on something behind him.

“War souvenir,” said John, reading Sherlock’s thoughts.

“Right.” Sherlock turned back to John. “So, tea?” he said brightly. “I switched on the kettle.”

“Are you trying to kill yourself, Sherlock?”

“Are you?”

John ignored the question and got to his feet. “How on earth did you get up here?”

“Self-propulsion.”

“Yeah, well, you’re getting a bearer party of one on the way down.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.”


They drank tea in silence. Finally, John said,

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Then don't,” said Sherlock. “But if you do, I’ll understand. I understand practically everything.”

John chuckled. “Except the solar system!”

“Well,” said Sherlock softly, “I wouldn’t be a hero if I didn’t have a heroic flaw.”

John nodded and fiddled with his cup. “You think you’re a hero?”

“I suspected you’re one, too. I think, by the end of the story, it will be obvious, even to the most unobservant, that you bloody well saved my life, John Hamish Watson.”

“Thank—wait, how do you know my middle name?”

“I’m a genius.”

John huffed.

Sherlock continued, “And an invalid with an internet connection.”

“Thank you, Sherlock.”

“You’re welcome, John. Any time. And I do mean that. Any. Time.”

“But don’t go dragging yourself up the stairs again, please.”

“Then come down,” said Sherlock, suddenly very serious. “And let me make you tea.”

“I made the tea!” protested John.

“I switched on the kettle.”

John snorted, then sighed. “Deal.” After a moment’s silence, he asked,

“May I kip with you?”

“Finally! I thought you’d never ask!”

“I might…”

“I know. Doesn’t matter.”

Sherlock covered John’s hand with his and squeezed.

Chapter Text

For once, John woke up knowing where he was. And what he wanted to do.

He was in Sherlock’s bed. And, well, he wanted to…

John made a movement towards Sherlock’s enormous pillow-ensconced form and had to choke back a cry at the sudden jolt of pain in his neck. He must’ve slept very soundly in a very awkward position to be so cramped. As he tried to inch closer to Sherlock, he also tilted his head, attempting to find an angle at which his muscles were not so blindly, distractingly spasming.

Then there were fingers on his neck.

John stilled at once.

The fingers danced, moving like curious spindle-legged sea creatures along the ocean floor. John gasped when they found the source of the pain and went to work. The first few moments were excruciating, so much so that tears welled in John’s eyes and he nearly cried out again.

But the fingers continued to work. And the pain soon ebbed.

When John was finally able to roll his head freely, he sighed with abject relief and said,

“Thank you very much.”

The reply seemed to manifest out of the early morning darkness.

“You’re very welcome.”

Now, back to what John had wanted in the first place…

“May I return the favour?” he asked without looking up.

“You may.”

John hoisted himself atop the cushioned embankment and, lying perpendicular to Sherlock, began to nuzzle at the front of Sherlock’s pyjama bottoms. He pressed his lips to the growing bulge in the fabric, then rubbed his nose against it, breathing in the odor of Sherlock’s arousal.

Male sex. Hot, horny, needy sex. Oh, God, he wanted that prick, and none other, in his mouth!

John was, in truth, a bit startled about waking up with so strong a desire to fellate Sherlock, but he supposed that his libido was making up for lost time. And if such was the case, rest, genuine restorative slumber, was, indeed, quite the miracle cure.

The hand on the back on John’s head was now playfully petting him, ruffling his hair, then smoothing it.

The sound of the rending of Velcro tabs filled the silence as John pulled at the front of Sherlock’s pyjamas. He blessed his foresight in having Mrs. Hudson tailor some of Sherlock’s nightclothes to meet the needs of his bed-and-chairbound state.

Easy on also meant easy off when there was a prick to suck!

And, Christ, what a prick! Just like the man, long, lean, with a slight bend to the left when it was gloriously stiff like it was now. Bloody flagpole! And John wanted it badly he felt his head, or his heart, or the stiffening member between his own legs, might explode!

No, that wouldn’t do. Not at all.

John took a deep breath and tried to temper his eagerness.

Take your time, Watson, he silently told himself. There’s no rush. Neither of you have anywhere to go. Make it good, really good, for him. He’s so extraordinary.

Feeling somewhat more in control of himself, John started by slowly dragging his tongue through the patches of dark wiry hair around the base of Sherlock’s prick, first one side then then other. Then he stuck his tongue out as far as he was able and licked up and down the shaft. He traced the ridges and mapped the contours with the wet tip, teasing as he went, then stretched the flat of his tongue lengthwise and wriggled it.

Worship it, Watson.

“John.”

Sherlock bent his unbroken leg at the knee, setting his foot flat on the bed.

John hummed. He wrapped one hand ‘round the base of Sherlock’s prick and gripped the far side of Sherlock’s waist with the other hand for support. Then he rose up and took Sherlock’s prickhead into his mouth.

Sherlock bucked hard. Very hard.

To avoid being thrown off, a panicked John was forced to dig the pads of his fingers rib-deep into Sherlock’s skin. He pulled off and cautioned,

“Steady on.”

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” came the apology in a voice so soft and needy John hardly recognised it, “I’ll be good, I promise.”

A thumb clumsily brushed John’s cheek. John released Sherlock’s prick long enough to grab the whole hand and bring it to his lips.

“You are good, gorgeous,” he said, kissing Sherlock’s thumb and fingers and palm. “And I’m not leaving off until you tell me to stop or you’re coming in my mouth.”

“Why in God’s name would I tell you to stop? And if you want a mouth full of come, well, that’s not going to take long, is it?”

The hand caressed the whole side of John’s face, from jaw to temple, then lightly rested on the back of John’s head.

John returned his attention to Sherlock’s prick.

He curled his lips ‘round his teeth and took Sherlock in his mouth in one swift, smooth movement. Then he was bobbing up and down, secretly brushing the quivering member with his tongue, especially the underside, where, by certain squeals, he discovered Sherlock was delightfully sensitive. John tickled the slit, too, with this tongue, his hand rubbing up and down the spit-soaked stem.

And Sherlock was marvelously noisy. Moans and gasps and John’s name in all kinds of intonations. John had the fleeting desire to hear Sherlock beg. But not now.

John relaxed his throat, brought Sherlock deeper, and sucked harder.

“Oh, fuck, John.”

It was impossible to smile with your mouth and throat full of prick, but John tried. And, for the record, he actually didn’t need Sherlock’s tightening grip on his hair to tell him the prick in his mouth was close to spurting; he could feel the tension building, vibrating to the snapping point, in Sherlock’s body.

“John, I’m…”

Sherlock’s release flooded John’s mouth.

John pulled off Sherlock’s prick at once, lips pinched in a grimace. This was the only part he really didn’t like, but then a bundle of something was thrust at him.

John spit into what he would later learn was a pillowcase. He wiped his mouth and, finally, looked Sherlock in the face.

Wrecked.

Good.

Sherlock’s chest was still heaving when he spoke,

“Thank you. That was…” He made a flourish with his hand. His eyes were slits.

“Speechless? That’s a high compliment.”

“Here, please.” Sherlock motioned to his lap. “You, here.”

John frowned. “Sherlock, I don’t want to hurt you. My weight, the pressure, on you might do you harm.”

“You won’t. Never you. Please.”

It took a couple of minutes and a couple dozen reassurances, but eventually John was facing Sherlock, straddling in his lap. They were, alternately, smiling at each other and kissing and stroking each other’s hair.

“John, it really is a bit of a wonder what a good night’s sleep does for you.”

“I know, right? But you have such an irresistible prick, Sherlock. It truly is mouth-watering. I suppose it’s possible one day I could tire of sucking it, but certainly not in the next four weeks.”

As soon as the words were out of John’s mouth, he wished he could recall them. He didn’t want to dwell on the contract or its end or the life he’d have to return to once Sherlock’s casts came off. He was about to apologise when Sherlock interrupted.

“I want to do it to you, to suck you off.”

“Sherlock, that’s impossible.”

“Only highly improbable. I’ve been thinking. It could work.”

“It’s reckless. I will not hurt you or hinder your recovery.”

“Just hear me out.”

John did.

And the more Sherlock talked, the more John, and his prick, became intrigued by the notion, and he found himself persuaded, and aroused, despite the fact that Sherlock spoke like an architect instead of a lover.

“All right. Let’s give it a try,” said John.

“Yes!”

John followed Sherlock’s orders, and soon every pillow, cushion, and ballast in the flat was in employed in their project. He felt a bit like an Egyptian building a pyramid, and when Sherlock was finally propped up against the headboard, the resemblance to a Sphinx or some other desert monument was uncanny.

“Let’s have a trial run.”

John climbed on the bed, carefully straddling Sherlock’s form, then bending his knees until they rested on the soft ramps on either side of Sherlock.

And so, he lowered himself slowly, slowly, slowly to Sherlock’s open mouth.

Now it was Sherlock’s turn to nuzzle at the front of John’s pants, but that didn’t last long. He was soon wickedly snaking the tip of his tongue through the gap to tickle John’s prick.

“Sherlock, you know you aren’t going to suck my prick.”

Sherlock pulled back and huffed petulantly. “After all this work? And you see that it won’t hurt me! And you’re hard as rock! Why ever not?”

John reached down to put two fingers to Sherlock’s lips. Somehow Sherlock managed to kiss John’s fingers and his prick, the latter twitching appreciatively.

Dawn was just beginning to break, the darkness in the room becoming a bendable grey.

“You won’t be sucking my prick because I’ll be fucking your mouth.”

A tremor ran through both of them, and John didn’t feel quite so broken anymore. In fact, he was beginning to feel like ol’ Three Continents, the bastard.

“You’re quite right, of course, John. Much more precise.” Sherlock’s voice was beautifully strained. “You’ll be fucking my mouth.”

The breath behind the words brushed John’s prick and seemed to take John from hard to painfully hard in a matter of seconds.

“Your mouth was made for it, gorgeous. Made for taking my prick. Those lips. The way they curve.”

John looked down and, smoothing back Sherlock’s hair with his hand, saw those curved lips attempting to suck his prick through the fabric of his pants.

He grunted his disapproval, and Sherlock recoiled at once.

Somehow John made it off the bed without breaking a bone of his own, but just how he’d never know. There was enough light in the room now for them to see each other clearly. John waited until Sherlock’s eyes were at least half-open, and then he slowly, slowly, slowly peeled off his sleeveless vest.

“Yes,” exhaled Sherlock. “You don’t know what that does to me. Every time you do it.”

“I have an idea. And it’s extremely flattering. But how’s this?” John hooked his thumbs in his pants and yanked them down. He stepped out of them and stood up.

“John, fuck my mouth. Fuck it now and stop me from making a fool of myself by babbling nonsense about your handsome prick!”

John laughed. He was enjoying this too much not to drag it out just a moment more. He cupped his balls, then rolled them in his palm. “Handsome?”

“The devil’s own! If you knew how much time I’ve wasted thinking about all the ways I want it! In my hand, in my mouth, between my thighs, in my arse…”

John smiled and climbed back on the bed. “Bending you over the kitchen table?” he suggested as he settled back into position.

“Oh, thank God, I’m not the only one who has thought about that possib—”

John stopped Sherlock from saying more.

John’s head was tilted, looking down. He couldn’t tear his eyes away, not even to close them and just enjoy the intense sensations.

He reached a hand down and rubbed Sherlock’s cheek, feeling the swell as Sherlock took his prick over and over. John’s other hand was braced against the wall for balance.

“I’ve not felt this alive in ages,” confessed John quietly. “You’re doing so good, making me feel so good. And you look obscene. It’s beautiful and pornographic and you’re just taking me and taking me. It’s lovely.”

Sherlock hummed, and the vibration nearly triggered John’s orgasm then and there.

“I think it’s time, Sherlock.”

John’s world narrowed to Sherlock’s mouth and his prick and the thrusting and pleasure that connected them.

WHACK!

The hard slap to John’s bottom came quite unexpectedly.

And then so did John.


John anticipated sliding carefully, if not gracefully, from the padded scaffolding that he’d constructed under Sherlock’s orders, but it wasn’t to be.

John heard Sherlock’s swallow faintly, as if from far away, while his body went completely boneless. He began to lose control of his limbs and slump.

A sharp stab of panic stopped his descent.

He might land on Sherlock!

John gathered up all his rapidly dwindling energy and made one final purposeful act.

He dove.

And crashed onto the far side of the bed, falling instantly into a state of unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

John cracked one eye open.

“Good. At first, I was flattered, but then I grew worried that I had broken you.”

John chuckled. “Nearly. Your blowjobs are as devastating as a land war in Asia.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

John brought his hand under his chest and pushed his upper body off the bed. “Did I hurt you on the way down?”

“Not at all. You made a spectacular dive.”

John grunted, then he ran his gaze up and down Sherlock’s form.

“Christ, you’re gorgeous.”

Sherlock’s grey eyes lit with amusement. “I swear, John, I’m half-tempted to hire some researchers to study the therapeutic effects of sleep on you.”

John gave a lop-sided grin, rolled to one side, putting his weight on one arm, then dropped his other arm down between his legs and gave his half-hard prick a single, dry stroke.

“How do you want it?” asked Sherlock while he deftly excavated a bottle of lubricant from somewhere in the range of pillows and cushions.

John considered, then said, “If you’re amenable…”

“Anything.”

“May I come on your bare chest? Tossing myself.”

Sherlock nodded. “You may.”

John crawled up and pulled the sides of Sherlock’s pjyama top apart. The original buttons had been replaced by Velcro tabs.

“Would you like me out of it entirely?” asked Sherlock.

John nodded and licked his lips.

A beautiful bare canvas for his spoiling.

In a few minutes, John was carefully straddling Sherlock, stroking himself while he and Sherlock watched.

“Do you like having your arse played with?” asked Sherlock in a rapid-fire whisper.

When he replied, John matched Sherlock’s low, breathless urgent tone, as if they were conspirators exchanging secrets under pressure.

“A bit of play’s all right. Not fucked. You?”

“Not usually. But I think I’d like to be fucked by you.”

“No, Sherlock, not with all the pillows in the world!” cried John, his brow furrowed.

“We’re just talking,” said Sherlock soothingly. His eyes fell to John’s fist. “No, don’t slow down. Just talk, John, that’s all.”

“Dirty talk.”

“As dirty as you’d like. All hypothetical.”

“Well, in that case, I’d like to bend you over the kitchen table and fuck you senseless. In broad daylight. With the windows open so all of Baker Street can hear.”

Sherlock hummed. “Your name on my lips?”

“My name in your brain, too. And my big fat prick making you sore for days.”

“Ooof!” Sherlock’s hips bucked once. “I think I’d like that.”

“Would you ride my prick, Sherlock?”

“Willingly. Gratefully. And I’d beg for your prick at the most inopportune times. ‘Please, John.’ We wouldn’t be able to make it home. We’d know every nice dark alley in a ten-kilometre radius. Trousers ‘round my ankles. A nice fat plug holding me open for you.”

“Shameless. Wanton.”

“Impatient, too.”

John groaned. He closed his eyes and his head drooped forward. “Sherlock, please tell me I can suck you off after this, after I come and admire my handiwork and clean you.”

Sherlock snorted. “You are a pun-loving idiot. Don’t you get it by now? You may do what you like with me! Whether you clean me or the lino or simply lie in this bed with your lovely prick on display!”

“Don’t say that.”

“Why not? It’s true.”

John gave an anguished, frustrated cry. “Because I’m gonna wanna wake up fucking you and go to sleep fucking you and fuck you through your gorgeous dreams. I’m mad for you, love.”

“And what in the bloody hell is wrong with all of that?”

“Shit, Sherlock!”

John stared and stared at Sherlock’s chest, pale skin and dusky nipples decorated with milky streaks. He couldn’t help the swell of pride; he felt like an artist.

I did that.

“You’ve made a royal mess of me,” observed Sherlock with a grin. “And you love it.”

John laughed and nodded.

“Quick, Captain! Go get a wet flannel, then come suck me off. If I stay in bed much longer, the bedsores will set in!”

“Yes, sir!”

Chapter Text

The last of the files that Lestrade had brought was open on the kitchen table.

Sherlock tapped his phone as he held his card out to John.

“Would you go out? I’ve sent you the list.”

John’s phone beeped. He glanced at it. His eyebrows rose, then he nodded. He took the card with a smile.

“It’s a cold case,” said Sherlock. “Japan, 1936, to be precise. Not Lestrade’s own, of course, but he’s a bit of a crime historian in his own way.”

“Unsolved crime?”

Sherlock smiled. “The best kind for a detective. The solved ones don’t really hold much allure.”


“Join me,” said Sherlock. “And after you’ve eaten, read this.” He pushed a document towards John and reached for one of the bento boxes John had set on the table. “It’s the English translation, naturally.”

When John had finished reading, he dropped the pages on the table.

“Glad I ate first. The last will and testament of a madman. And I don’t understand the astrology business at all. I’m a Taurus, by the way.”

“Capricorn,” said Sherlock. “But back to the case. What if I told you that in 1936, seven women of Heikichi Umezawa’s family were killed: his stepdaughter, his daughters, and his nieces, and that six of the women were dismembered, with different parts removed, and buried in different locations about Japan with samples of metals, much in the manner described in that document?”

“I’d say the madman made his, what did he call it, Azoth, the perfect woman, out of spare parts?”

Sherlock nodded. “But, as it so happens, Umezawa himself was killed before it happened. And so was his eldest daughter. They were killed on separate occasions.”

“Huh. A whole family wiped out?”

“Most of it.”

“Well, either he wasn’t really killed, or someone learned of his plan and carried it out for him posthumously. And you say it’s still unsolved. Were there no arrests at the time?”

“Oh, the police arrested Umezawa’s second wife, Masako, and she confessed and died in prison, but public opinion, and mine, is that she didn’t do it.”

“That’s a lot of dead people, Sherlock. And an awfully long time ago. You really think you can discover what happened now?”  

“Perhaps. What would you say if I told you that Umezawa was killed in a locked room?”

John’s lips twisted in a smile. “A real locked room mystery?”

Sherlock nodded.

John chuckled. “You know, I…”

“Yes, I know. You like them. A lot.”

John frowned. “And just how do you know?”

“Carr’s The Hollow Man and Zangwill’s The Big Bow Mystery are downloaded on your phone. Classic locked room stories.”

“You’ve been going through my phone?!”

Sherlock huffed. “I was bored! You can’t imagine how bored I get in this chair!” He pouted, then mumbled, “I thought I’d show off again, but I’d deduced all the interesting stuff already.”

John shot him a look of mingled exasperation and affection. “All right, but don’t do it again. It’s not on.”

Sherlock sniffed and gave a reluctant nod; then like a child with a new toy, he piped energetically, “If you make us some matcha tea, I’ll tell you all about the murders.”

“Deal.”


The case took over the sitting room.

John had rearranged the furniture according to Sherlock’s instructions. The walls were covered with maps and drawings and the flat surfaces held copies of police documents and photographs.

Sherlock wheeled around from point to point, muttering to himself.

John kept the tea hot and plentiful until, finally, he yawned.

“Rest, John. It’s late.”

“Yeah.” John looked from the stairs to the sofa to the hall.

“Sherlock—?”

“Yes, of course. I’m not going to sleep there, but you’re more than welcome to sleep in my bed if you think it would be more restful.”

“All right. Just a short kip.”


John’s bladder woke him some hours later. Whilst tending to business, he heard Sherlock’s voice in the sitting room.

Who on earth was he talking to at, John checked his watch, four in the morning?

John listened.

It wasn’t English, that was for certain!

John finished and made his way down the hall.

“Sherlock?” he asked tentatively.

“Ah, John. Don’t be alarmed. It’s already noon in Tokyo. Come here. This is Kiyoshi Mitarai,” Sherlock pointed to the face on the computer screen, “I’ve been talking to him about the case. This is John Watson, my colleague.”

Colleague. John liked the sound of that. Much better than housekeeper or, he considered, live-in paid lover. He smiled and waved at the screen.

“The fellow behind him is Kazumi Ishioka. He likes mysteries even more than you do.”

John laughed and waved again. “So, have you figured it out yet?”

“Not yet,” said Sherlock. “But, by coincidence, Mitarai has got his hands on a key part of the puzzle: a confession of a police officer who was blackmailed into burying the bodies of the Azoth victims.”

“Really? Huh. So the person who buried them wasn’t the killer?”

“No. It explains a lot and it raises a few more questions.”

“All right. I’ll leave you to it, then.”

John went back to bed, and when he woke for a second time, he found Sherlock in the same position, but facing a blank screen. His eyes were closed, and his fingers were steepled at his lips.

John sensed it would be better not to disturb him, so he made his breakfast and ate it and did the washing up without a word. Then he got dressed and went about tidying the flat, well, the part of the flat that wasn’t consumed by the case.

John was considering doing an unnecessary load of laundry just to keep himself busy when Sherlock gave a sharp, wheezy intake of breath, opened his eyes, and reached for the computer.

Within minutes, he was in what sounded like a very heated discussion. Then just as suddenly as the consultation had begun, it ended. Sherlock clicked off and sighed.

“You figured it out?” asked John.

“No, Mitarai did. He hasn’t any proof, but he and Ishioka have gone to see if there is any to be had. Maybe the killer left behind a confession. After all, it’s been over eighty years. It’s brilliant, though. Which part do you want to hear about first: footprints in the snow or an old counterfeiter’s trick?”

“Start at the beginning.”


Sherlock finished his scribbling and slid the paper over to John.

“…and that, my dear Watson, is how you make six bodies out of five.”

“That is brilliant,” said John, shaking his head with disbelief. “Neat. Very neat.”

Sherlock hummed. “Of course, now, it wouldn’t work. DNA testing, etcetera, but it was clever, really clever.”

“But I don’t understand why, Sherlock?”

“I don’t either. I hope Mitarai and Ishioka will discover why.” He sighed heavily. “I’m tired, John.”

John knew what it costs him to say those words, and it was the most natural thing in the world for him to go ‘round the table and let Sherlock lean against him, to gently ruffle Sherlock’s hair, and kiss the top of his head, and whisper,

“A wash and bed?”

Sherlock grunted.

Sherlock didn’t do much of anything for the next three days. Then a message arrived from Tokyo.

“John! They did it!” exclaimed Sherlock before John had even reached the top of the stairs.

“Did what?” John asked as he set the shopping down on the table. “And who are ‘they’?”

“Mitarai and Ishioka. They got proof. I’ll admit I was doubtful that there would be any, but a letter was sent by the killer to the daughter of the police officer who was blackmailed. For reasons unknown, the letter was never opened.”

“Until now?”

“Until now. Come. Read this.” Sherlock pointed to the screen.

John stood behind Sherlock, reading over his shoulder.

“Huh,” was all John could say at the end. “Poor thing.”

Then as Sherlock x’ed out of the document, John caught sight of a second attachment. “What’s that? It’s got my name on it.”

“And mine, too,” protested Sherlock.

John shot him a look.

“It’s nothing. I had Mitarai do an astrological reading for us.”

“Us?” John laughed. “That I’ve got to read!”

“You can read it after me,” said Sherlock, turning his head to look at John. “Not on, I think you said.”

John was still laughing as he walked away.

Chapter Text

…This is a fine relationship, a mutual admiration society. They work through their infrequent disagreements with little stress. Taurus and Capricorn are Earth signs with equally strong libidos and can expect to have a lasting and enjoyable sex life…

Good start, thought John, as he looked up from the pages and shot a glance at Sherlock, who was feigning interest in a crossword puzzle.

…It isn’t necessarily fireworks, but it is a slow and steady burn…

Not fireworks?

“I believe our most recent encounter qualifies as pyrotechnical, John, at least from my point of view.”

“Good. I thought so, too.”

…Taurans and most Capricorns are mainstream sexually and very into touch and kissing. They love to take their time in each sexual encounter, lingering over foreplay…

“That sounds all right,” mumbled John to himself.

…Both want about thirty minutes to an hour for sex, half that for foreplay and love to achieve orgasm at the same time…

“That seems oddly…?”

“Ridiculous?” suggested Sherlock.

“…specific. I mean, about the time. No quickies and no marathon lie-ins?”

“To everything there is a season, John.”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

…Some Capricorns are into the BDSM lifestyle wanting to explore the range of sexual practices of bondage, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism…

John raised an eyebrow.

“At some point in the future, John, who can say, but at the moment, I have absolutely no interest in being bound, confined, limited, or made uncomfortable any more than I already am by these bloody casts!”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

…The Goat may be able to coax the Bull into role-playing and bondage but not likely into accepting pain as part of the pleasure…

John tapped the page. “This is spot on, Sherlock. A bit of fun, a bit of talk is fine, but I’m not hurting you.”

“Understood.”

…Some couples have trouble communicating. Not these two. Their greatest strength is a kind of mutual directness in speech and action. Problems between them are few but one is significant. Taurus can be quite emotional, and Capricorn may not know how to handle him….

John shifted uncomfortably.

…The solution is simple. An upset Bull needs two things. He needs to be hugged and he needs to be fed. Once a Taurus relaxes over dinner or a cup of coffee, he opens up, gets talking, and the problem is en route to being solved…

John felt the heat rising in his cheeks. He did not look up.

…Conversely when the Goat has a nagging concern, he finds Taurus a remarkably good listener.

John relaxed. “Well, that’s all right, then. Mutual admiration society. I kind of like that.”

“You’re extraordinary, John.”

John felt feverish. He replied curtly, “You’re one to talk.”

“See? It is mutual. Now, enough nonsense. Dinner?”

“Yeah.”

“On me,” said Sherlock, raising his phone. “Then I want my thirty minutes of foreplay. I’ll be timing you.”

John giggled. “You old goat! I want my hug!”

“Then don’t be bullish and come here.”

John went to him.

Chapter Text

“Hullo!” called John when he’d reached the top of the stairs.

“Hullo,” replied Sherlock without looking up.

“You all right?”

“Naturally. As I was when you texted. Twice. It was part of our agreement for you to take other gigs when it suited you, John.”

“I know. And the rate for emergency fill-ins isn’t something I turn down. Have you been in the chair all day? Your skin, Sherlock.”

“No, I’ve been shifting my position as advised,” said Sherlock coolly. “I’m not actually an invalid, John. I can survive eight hours without your attention!”

“All right, all right,” said John raising both hands in a gesture of defense. “Well, dusting a banker’s baubles takes it out of a fellow. I need a shower, and I thought I’d warm up some soup, make some sandwiches. You interested?”

“No.”

“Suit yourself. I’m too knackered to nag.”

Sherlock couldn’t pace so he rolled his wheelchair forwards and backwards down the centre of the sitting room. He was pretending to be annoyed with John, but he was, he realised, simply annoyed with himself at how much he’d missed John.

He needed Work. That was the only effective remedy to such ludicrous sentiment.

Sherlock heard the usual squeaks and scratches and whooshes of the shower, but when he caught John’s long sigh, he felt his own shoulders relax, too.

John was home.

Good.

Sherlock closed his eyes.

He was silly. Of course, he’d missed John. They’d been constant companions for almost a month. There was nothing wrong with that.

But Sherlock did need some Work. Books and even the internet weren’t cutting it anymore, and he had three more weeks confinement.

Oh, well, there was nothing for it.

Sherlock took a series of deep breaths as he listened to John and conjured up images of John washing himself, then he heard the taps squeaked once more.

But just once. And nothing.

John was still in the shower, but not leaving the shower.

Was he? Sherlock strained his ear. He was.

John was masturbating in the shower. He wasn’t making a production of it, but he wasn’t being exactly shy either. And there was a high probability he was thinking, at least in part, about Sherlock.

Sherlock felt the corners of his mouth lift of their own accord, and his foul mood lifted like fog. He wouldn’t listen too closely, then he’d be in an awkward state himself, but he promised himself that he’d be more genial when John emerged.


John made a double portion of soup and a triple portion of sandwiches cut up into squares, which, he was pleased to note, were as surreptitiously snatchable as he’d intended.

“I can put a bit in a mug,” he offered, pointing to the soup with his spoon.

He took Sherlock’s noncommittal shrug for the assent it was.

As he was pouring out the soup, John gave voice to something he’d been thinking about all day.

“What about a Bond night tonight?”

Sherlock’s brow furrowed.

“I thought we’d discussed that already, John. You tying me up is a bit redundant given my current state of incapacitation, and me tying you up, well, is a challenge for the same reason.”

John couldn’t help it. He started to giggle. Then his giggle turned into a full laugh. He reached for a towel and covered his mouth.

Sherlock was smiling now, all the way up to his eyes.

God, he was gorgeous.

“Trying to be funny?” said John, regaining control of himself.

“Yes.”

John had the fleeting impression that Sherlock was lying but then a very different thought struck him.

“Oh, not James Bond. I’ve got a better idea. It’s perfect. Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock. Do you like old films?”

Sherlock shrugged.

“Oh, there’s one that’s perfect for us,” said John, his enthusiasm growing. “Rear Window. There’s a thrill-seeking photographer who’s stuck in a cast, and he takes to watching his neighbours, and one night he thinks he sees a murder in one of the flats opposite. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend and a nurse and a copper friend who all play a part. And they solve the murder.”

“Very well,” said Sherlock, helping himself to another sandwich.


John ended up on one end of the sofa with Sherlock in the wheelchair beside him.

“They’ve got it all mixed up, though.”

“What’s that?”

John grinned. “Well, you’re the princess sleuth in a cast, and I’m the everyman sidekick in a skirt.”

“You don’t think you’re Grace Kelly?”

“No, and I know you aren’t James Stewart.”

Sherlock grunted.


“I do want to see the end,” protested John mildly. He was balanced on one side of the chair, and Sherlock was nuzzling at his neck.

“But I already solved it. Thrice.” Sherlock slipped his hand under John’s vest, caressing John’s stomach until his thumb brushed a nipple. “The next one we watch in bed.”

“All right.”

Sherlock bent his head to tongue John’s other nipple through the white cotton.

John hummed appreciatively and brought his hand up to hold Sherlock’s head in place as he watched the screen. “You have to admit they’re a very good team.”

“We’re better,” murmured Sherlock as he teased the pebbled nipple through the sodden fabric. “And you’d look better in that skirt.”

John tightened his grip on Sherlock’s hair and yanked his head up for a hard kiss, then he pulled Sherlock away and said, “Watch the end with me and I’ll suck you like the Princess of Monaco after.”

“Take your vest off and let me tease you while you watch.”

“Deal.”

It was admittedly difficult to concentrate with Sherlock’s hand in his pants, but John managed. Somewhat. He’d placed one of his own hands on Sherlock’s atop the material and when Sherlock made an especially delicious caress, he’d still Sherlock’s hand, and Sherlock would whisper, “That?” in his ear and do it again, and John would groan or hum or grunt or whimper accordingly.

By the time the closing credits appeared, both Sherlock and John were hard as rocks, and John was more than eager to slip to the floor and sucks Sherlock’s prick.

“It was a perfect choice of film,” admitted Sherlock as he stroked John’s bobbing head.

“Mm.”

Sherlock muted the screen and for a while the wet noise of John’s mouth was the only notable sound in the flat.

“Were you,” Sherlock paused and lifted his hips at little when John took him very deep, “were you thinking of me in the shower earlier?”

John drew back slightly until only half of Sherlock’s prick was in his mouth and hummed. Then he pulled off entirely. “I think about you all the time,” he panted. “Even when I’m not wanking.”

“I do, too.”

“You think about you, too?” teased John as he stuck his tongue out and licked up the underside of Sherlock’s shaft.

“Naturally,” returned Sherlock with a smirk. Then he said with a bit of concern,

“You aren’t going to stop?!”

John laughed, “No, I’ll finish you off and then we go to bed. The next film starts off kind of slow, so you can get me off before the good part. Or wait until the end.”


Sherlock was very glad he’d had the good sense to get John off before the film because ‘the good part’ was scaring John to death.

“Eeee!” John squealed, cringing and rolling into Sherlock while covering his head with the arms, then peeking back at the screen, which was at the foot of the bed.

On the screen, a flock of malevolent sea gulls was attacking a child’s birthday party.

“I hate things flying around my head like that! Ugh.”

“I don’t think anyone likes it, John.”

“And being pecked to death!

“My money’s on the brunette for that,” remarked Sherlock. He wrapped his arm around John’s waist.

“Oh my God, Sherlock! It’d drive me mad!”

John slid on arm around Sherlock’s neck. He curled into Sherlock and there he remained, looking over his shoulder when he wasn’t hiding his eyes and making noises of horror and disgust.

Twice Sherlock suggested they turn it off for John’s sake, and twice he was rebuffed.

He felt John’s full-body shiver when the final scene arose.

“You think the birds are going to let them leave?” asked John. “Or are they going to wait until they get to the edge of town and tear that car apart and them inside? UGH!”

“I don’t know, John, but I do know that you can’t go to sleep now, not after you’ve purposefully terrorised yourself.”

John sighed. “You’re probably right. One more.”


“Is it too sentimental?” asked John.

“Better than diabolical crows,” said Sherlock. He was enjoying the way John was lying against his chest regardless of whether Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman ever revealed the depth of their feelings for one another.

At one point, John slid his arm across Sherlock’s body and squeezed him affectionately. “People are idiots, aren’t they?”

“Yes.”

“If they would just talk to one another, but I suppose that’s easier said than done.”

“Yes.” Sherlock licked his lips. “I missed you today, John.”

John sat up abruptly and looked at Sherlock. “I missed you, too.” He hugged Sherlock, and Sherlock hugged him back and by the time Cary Grant was whisking a fur-clad Ingrid Bergman away, they were snogging like teenagers.

“Look, John.”

John turned to watch the final scene. “Finally. Promise you’ll never die of uranium poisoning to preserve your stiff upper lip.”

“Me?” piped up Sherlock. “I’m Cary Grant.”

I’m Cary Grant.”

“Oh, shut up,” said Sherlock and kissed him.

The kiss deepened as John eased into Sherlock’s lap.

“Sherlock, will we ever be that stupid?”

“Well, one of us won’t,” said Sherlock cavalierly. “I mean, I’m a genius.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot.” John snorted and ran his hands over Sherlock’s pyjama shirt. “Another go or do you want to sleep?”

“What do you want?”

John raised an eyebrow and unbuttoned Sherlock’s buttons and spread the shirt wide. “I want to slide my prick against yours, with our hands joined around them, and paint you with our come,” he said in a husky voice.

“Sounds like the perfect way to end the evening.”

Chapter Text

“John, wake up!”

There are many unpleasant ways to be woken up; being poked with a crutch, John realised, was one of them.

He was on the sofa. He beat away the crutch and pushed himself to sitting.

“Sherlock!”

“Take your mobile and go down to the street.”

John rubbed his eyes. “Shit, have you been in that chair all night again?!”

“I want you to go down to the street.”

“Those binoculars were the worst idea ever! Three whole days of doing nothing but sitting by those windows spying—"

“Observing,” corrected Sherlock. “And until the web site or Lestrade or someone brings me a Real Case, I’m stuck birdwatching. But this time, it’s something.”

“If it’s another face in a window…”

Sherlock wrinkled his nose, and when he spoke, his voice was soft,

“John.”

“What time is it?”

“Almost five-ish.”

“Jesus Christ, Sherlock!”

“Please.”

John sighed. “All right.”


“Can you see it?”

“No.” John looked up at Sherlock’s face in the window. “Can you see me, freezing my bollocks off? What am I looking for?”

“Step one step to the left.”

“Sherlock.”

“Do you see anything across the street?”

“No.”

“One more step to the left.”

“Oh, Christ, Sherlock, this is not on. Uh, are you going to tell me that you sent me out in the cold at dark o’ clock in the morning to tell you about some yellow graffiti?”

“Ah ha! Take a photo of it, John, as clear a photo as you can take.”

“All right. Done.”

“Now. Step one more step to the left. Can you see it now?”

“No. That is kind of strange. Like an optical illusion or something. You can only see if you’re standing right here.”

“What’s behind you, John?”

John turned. “Speedy’s. The lock to the gate. It’s not open yet because it’s too damn early for anyone but Peeping Sherlocks and their jolly binoculars!”

“That’s just what Grace Kelly would say. And she’d be wrong. Come back and make coffee. I want to see what happens when Speedy’s opens.”

“Sherlock, you can’t stay in that chair so long. Your skin, your tissue, will break down…”

Sherlock made a noise and hung up.


“Maybe this one,” murmured Sherlock as he watched through the binoculars. “Maybe, maybe, oh, oh, yes, there he goes! John, go run after him, now, please! Hurry!”

Some minutes later, John returned, scowling and stomping.

“Well?” asked Sherlock.

“Well what? Who was I supposed to be running after, Sherlock?”

“The young man going that way.” Sherlock pointed. “He stopped in front of Speedy’s, saw the graffiti, and took off. You know, John, I’ve done a study of graffiti, and I don’t recognise this signature. Maybe it’s new or maybe it’s not graffiti at all. Maybe it’s a symbol. Or a code.”

“Or maybe it’s all your imagination, but whoever he was, I think he dropped his keys. I found these on the pavement in front of Speedy’s.” John tossed Sherlock a ring with three keys on it.

“Well done, John!” exclaimed Sherlock, studying the keys intently. “These could be the keys to Speedy’s itself. Why don’t you go down and …?”

“No. Right now, I’m going to get dressed, make some tea and toast, and see to your skin.”

“To hell with my skin!”

John crossed his arms over his chest. “Then I’m not going to go on your wild goose chases. Fifteen minutes, that’s all I’m asking.”

Sherlock glanced at his mobile. “Very well,” he grumbled. “Just tea for me, thanks.”


John ignored the whining, but after a while, even he had to admit that Sherlock had a point: it did take forever to get a person with two broken limbs arranged prone on a bed.

“All right,” said John when he was finally satisfied with the positioning. “Let’s go.”

He ran his oiled hands from the nape of Sherlock’s neck to his waist, kneading, massaging, smoothing skin and working loose knotted muscles. All the while, he was examining Sherlock’s skin for breakdown or changes. Stroke by stroke, he felt the tension in Sherlock’s body ebb.

He was pointedly rubbing Sherlock’s lower back when he stopped.

“More?” he asked.

“As you wish,” said Sherlock with what John supposed to be feigned reluctance.

John slipped his hands under Sherlock’s pyjama bottoms and kneaded his buttocks.

“John.” That was, no supposition required, a groan of pleasure.

“Can I strip you?”

“You can do anything you want with me, John, but do it quickly.”

John smiled and unsnapped Sherlock’s pjyamas bottoms and drew them off. Then he used all his strength to massage Sherlock’s buttocks, lower back, and upper thighs. His efforts were rewarded with several moans from Sherlock.

“Sherlock, if this ‘case’ turns out to be nothing…”

“…we come back here, and you prep me and fuck me,” finished Sherlock, his voice strained.

“I know I said I wouldn’t, that I didn’t think it would be safe, but, Christ, Sherlock, your arse.” John sighed as he squeezed and rubbed and sank the pads of his fingers into Sherlock’s flesh. “Your arse!”

“You want to fuck it, don’t you?”

John leaned down until lips brushed the shell of Sherlock’s ear. “I want to bite it and suck it and rim it for hours and then fuck it.”

“Christ, John! Okay, okay. I’ll gladly let you use me like your broken little fucktoy if you go down and see what’s happened at Speedy’s! Now!”

John grinned and slapped Sherlock’s buttock. “You got it.”


John flipped the cover of his tiny notepad.

“So you said you wanted everything odd that’s happened?”

“Yes, John!”

“Yesterday, someone left the refrigerator door open and some milk went off. In the afternoon, a display of coffee tins was knocked over...”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and huffed loudly. “This morning, John!”

“Right. Brian Lukis didn’t show up for work, and he was scheduled to open.”

“Ah ha! And those were his keys?”

“Yes. Mister Chatterjee is worried. He said Brian was reliable and had worked on and off for him for a while; that’s why he trusted him with the keys. He couldn’t say anything about the graffiti. He didn’t know what it meant, but said he’d never seen it before today and it definitely wasn’t there yesterday when he closed. I got an address for Brian Lukis, by the way.”

He handed Sherlock his notebook, and Sherlock tapped the address into his mobile.

“Go check it out, John. If he doesn’t answer, you can always pretend to be…”

John held up a hand. “Sherlock, I’m a maid. I don’t have to pretend to be anybody to get into someone’s flat.”

Sherlock smiled. “Take my card for expenses.”


“All right, it’s just you and me,” said Lestrade in a low voice as he bent over the body on the bed, “let’s drop the pretense that you were hired to clean this poor fellow’s flat, John. What’s Sherlock up to?”

John told Lestrade about the morning.

“So you’re telling me that His Highness is hold up like Jimmy Stewart in that Hitchcock film?” Lestrade chuckled “Spying on the neighbours with binoculars, which, by the way, is illegal and pervy to boot, just waiting for someone to off their wife and bury her finger under the rose buses.”

“Yeah,” said John ruefully. “It’s his new hobby.”

“Well, life’s imitating art. He’s got himself a murder.”

“Not suicide?”

“I don’t know how the murderer got in, but, yeah, I think so. I mean, look around the flat, John. He’s left-handed. Highly probable, but not impossible, I’ll grant you, that someone left-handed shoots himself in the right side of the head.” Lestrade nodded at the photograph propped up on a lamp on the bedside table. “Looks like we’ve got a boyfriend,” he squinted, “named Eddie.”

John’s phone began to buzz. He glanced down at it.

Lestrade turned and looked over John’s shoulder and laughed. “If he’s calling you, it’s important. ‘He prefers to text.’” Lestrade spoke the last in pitch-perfect imitation of Sherlock, and John had to laugh as he stepped away and put his mobile to his ear.

“Sherlock?”

“Lukis?”

“Dead. Murder made to look like suicide, but he locked himself in.”

“No way in at all?”

“There’s a skylight but you’d have to be bloody Spiderman.”

“Hmm. Someone wiped Lukis’ social media but not before I got a look at it. He was interested in China, had travelled there twice.”

John read the spines of the books on the bookshelf and nodded. “Yeah, I can see that in his choice of literature.”

“He was also a performer, stage name of Just Ducky Peeking, at a place in the West End.”

John smiled and glanced over at the interior of a closet. “Yeah, he’s definitely got costumes as well as clothes in his wardrobe.”

“And he’s got a new boyfriend.”

“Eddie? Yeah, there’s a photo of them beside the bed.”

“All very interesting, and I’ve just got a message that may be a development on the graffiti angle. Or it may be a new case altogether. Either way, I need you to go to a bank. I’m sending you the address. You’re meeting with Sebastian Wilkes.”

“Right.”


“It’s the same symbol as the graffiti outside Speedy’s,” said John into his mobile as he stepped out on the balcony.

“Yeah, I can see that,” said Sherlock. “Either the system was hacked, or the person came in through the balcony where you’re standing.”

“How do you know I’m standing on a balcony?”

“Don’t be tedious.”

“All right.” John looked down and winced. “It would have to be Spiderman to get in this way. Or be able to walk through walls.”

“The world is big enough for us, John. No ghosts need apply.”

“So you say. By the way, when you described me as a ‘colleague,’ I don’t think your friend was expecting a housekeeper in a kilt.”

“I’m sorry for the abuse that Sebastian no doubt heaped upon you, but he was never my friend.”

“Yeah, I can see that. And don’t worry, I’m laughing all the way to the bank with this retainer check in my pocket. Holy Mary, Sherlock. He said five figures if you solve it.”

“Don’t think about the money, John.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“The case, John. You can see the graffiti from the trading floor?”

John turned. “Yeah.”

“Figure out which trader can view it best and find them.”

“Gotcha.”


“We really have to stop meeting like this, John.”

“Hi, Greg. This looks like Eddie, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“Murder-suicide?”

“Maybe. Too early to tell. And we’ll have to figure out which one of them died first. He locked himself in, too? Just like Lukis.”

“Yeah, and this place looks even less penetrable than Lukis’ flat.”

“True. He just got back from somewhere.”

“Hong Kong. He was a trader.” John described his meeting at the bank.

“You are a fountain of information, John Watson. Care to watch me root around in a dead man’s dirty underwear?”

“Why not? It can’t be any worse than what I’ve seen in my gigs.” John laughed. “Any of them, really: housekeeper, soldier, or doctor.”

Lestrade squatted in front of the open suitcase. “He brought something back. About this big. It’s not here. Gift for the boyfriend?”

“Maybe. Van Coon’s PA said everything he liked had a big price tag.”

John’s mobile buzzed again.

“Two calls in one day?” teased Lestrade. “Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?”

“You’ve been spending too much time with his brother,” said John before he stepped away.

“As I anticipated,” said Sherlock when John filled him in on the developments, including Van Coon’s death and the missing object in the suitcase. “The good news is that Van Coon’s PA is supremely efficient. I’ve hacked into the bank’s expense reimbursement system where she uploaded his receipts and from them created a loose itinerary of where he went yesterday. I want you to follow it.”

“Yeah, well, I’m going to get lunch, too.”

“Very well.”


Doesn’t this look like the squiggle? JW

Sherlock stared at the photo, which was of a fruit stand. Then he enlarged it and said under his breath.

“Oh, John, you are bloody brilliant. They’re numbers, pairs of number. Numbers can mean a code.”


“You John?”

“Yeah.”

“Sherlock sent me. I found some more of this.” The youth held up his mobile and flashed the photo of graffiti across the street from Speedy’s. Then he swiped, and the next photo was the graffiti on the portrait at the bank.

“All right. Show me,” said John.


Found more graffiti. Photos incoming with location info. JW

“It is Christmas,” breathed Sherlock as his mobile beeped. “15, 1. 112, 1. 127, 22. Oh, yes, a whole message. Perfect.”

Very well done. Come—

Sherlock was about to type ‘home’ but thought better of it.

Very well done. Come back. SH

When John returned, he walked in on Sherlock doing something unusual. Two things, in fact.

He was talking on the phone and, judging by the tone, apologising.

“…It was wrong of me to insult you in your place of work and make observations of a personal, intimate, and damning nature in front of your colleagues. I will not make such comments in a professional setting again. Please accept my apology, Sargent Donovan.” Sherlock exhaled. “Now, will you please put Hopkins back on so I can solve this bloody case?! Thank you. Hopkins, I did it. Yes, I was sincere. Well, only time will tell, won’t it? Now, the book, what’s the book? Tell me that, and I’ll tell you everything I know. Oh, Christ, of course.”

John’s mobile beeped.

London A to Z. SH

“You don’t have to text me, Sherlock. Or sign your bloody text. I’m right here!”

“Wait a moment,” said Sherlock into the phone.

“You know where I’ve seen this?” asked John.

“Van Coon’s flat.”

John shook his head and smiled. “Before that.” He pointed to the floor. “Speedy’s.”


“Nine mill for jade pin. Dragon Den. Black tramway,” read Sherlock.

“What does it mean, Sherlock?”

“Van Coon was a smuggler. Frequent trips to Asia. Sebastian said that he could lose five million in a morning and make it back the next week. That’s how he did it.”

“Drugs? A block of something in his suitcase? I didn’t see any evidence he was using himself in his flat, though, of course, addicts are good at hiding things.”

Sherlock coughed nervously, then said, “No. Think. The jade pin in the coded message. It was antiquities.”

“That pin must be very old to be worth nine million quid. So what happened?”

“It’s an old story: a fool falls in love. And like many fools in love, Van Coon got stupid and decided to take something from the haul, something that would impress someone who called themselves Just Ducky Peeking and performed at The Lucky Cat in Chinatown. Van Coon’s drop-off point must’ve been somewhere near The Lucky Cat.”

“And so the gang—what did Hopkins call them?”

“The Black Lotus.”

“They threatened him?”

“And killed him. And when they couldn’t find what he’d taken…”

“The very old, very valuable jade pin?”

“…they went after the person who was mostly likely to have it, which was Lukis.”

“But how did they kill them? Locked rooms, all that.”

Sherlock held up his mobile. “There’s a Chinese circus in town. I’ve passed their information onto Lestrade and Hopkins. I think one of the acrobats is our Spiderman.”

John nodded, then he grinned. “And you got all this from a yellow squiggle drawn on a wall at four in the morning. Jimmy Stewart would be very proud.”

“Grace Kelly did all the legwork. And she spotted the number, which was what the whole thing on the right track.”

“We make a good team, I suppose.”

“There’s only one missing piece, John.”

“Yeah?”

“Where’s the pin?”

“The Black Lotus took it off of Lukis.”

“Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s right under our noses.”


“Christ, what have I got myself into?” muttered John as he pried the lid off another tin of coffee. “And what kind of person makes a duplicate key ‘just in case’? A bloody madman. I’m going to smell like coffee for a week, digging about in every single one of these cans. Mister Chatterjee is going to press charges, and I don’t blame him. Holy fuck! What is this? Oh, Christ, the bastard was right! Nine million quid for this? I mean, it’s nice, but…”

The scream was muffled.

“JOHN! GET OUT OF THERE! HE’S COMING!”

John shoved the pin back in the coffee tin and pressed the lid tight. He got to his feet just as glass exploded.

“JOHN!”

There were alarms and sirens, but John’s world was reduced to the press of a ligature ‘round his neck. It tightened. He gasped and pulled at it and pushed backwards, backwards, backwards until…

…another explosion of glass.

“JOHN!”

WHUMP!

And John’s world went black.


“John?”

John opened his eyes.

Lestrade exhaled. “There we go. He’s awake, Sherlock, so stop your bitching! You didn’t kill him—this time.” He smiled. “I’m very glad you’re back with us so I can hand His Majesty over to you.”

John frowned. Everything hurt, and he was on a stretcher. “What happened?”

“Oh, not much,” said Lestrade, casually. “The murderer of Lukis and Van Coon was caught, and a doo-dah worth more than I will ever make in many lifetimes was recovered, and the world’s only consulting detective busted out a window, then threw himself out of the window just in time for you and Killer Spiderman to break his fall. He’s fine, by the way, well, apart from the original broken bones and being a colossal twat.”

“JOHN!”

John looked over. Sherlock was on the pavement in a wheelchair with a small orange blanket draped around his shoulders. “I’m not in shock!” he snapped.

John smiled. Sherlock caught his gaze and his expression changed, softened. He smiled, too.

Chapter Text

The bell rang.

Mycroft gave himself one last look in the mirror and hurried to the door.

“Good evening, Mycroft.”

“Good evening, Gregory.”

“This is a date, right?”

“Yes, I think we agreed on that,” said Mycroft, running a nervous hand down the front of his shirt and waistcoat. “Dinner and a film at chez moi. Or a film and dinner, whichever you prefer.”

Stop babbling, Mycroft told himself.

“Good, I’m glad it’s a date because I brought dessert.”

From behind his back, Lestrade produced a pink cake box tied with string.

You are dessert, you beautiful man, thought Mycroft as he tried not to swoon.


“Goodness,” breathed Lestrade when he’d peeked into the room that Mycroft called his ‘home theatre.’ “This is perfect. You like old films, I like old films, not the same old films, of course, but I am very glad we could agree on Hitchcock.”

“Film first or dinner?”

“I think film first.”


They settled into their seats.

As the lights dimmed, Mycroft handed Lestrade a bowl of popcorn.

“Thank you. And if we’re going for verisimilitude…”

Lestrade yawned and stretched his arm over his head. Then he laid his arm across Mycroft’s shoulders and turned his head, grinning.

“What wicked things did young Gregory get up to in the cinema?”

Lestrade winked. “Just you wait and see.”

BEEP! BEEPITY-BEEP!

“I’m so sorry.” Lestrade took out his mobile and looked at the screen. “Fuck!”

“Oh, God, it’s Sherlock,” groaned Mycroft, looking at his own mobile. “But—?”

“Yeah, birds are attacking John?!” read Lestrade frowning. “Crazy but it sounds like Sherlock’s panicking, and your brother doesn’t panic. Hitchcock can wait. C’mon, we’ve got our own Bodega Bay on Baker Street.”


The night before…

Sherlock stroked John’s hair.

“I’m concerned, John.”

John hummed sleepily. “Mm? ‘Bout Chinese smugglers?”

Sherlock smiled. “No, about skin breakdown. My skin breakdown.”

John lifted his head, smiling. “You’ve stopped sitting by the window all night, but I agree that you are overdue for a full body assessment—”

“Your full body, I hope.”

“—as well as a massage. I’m scheduled to for another gig at the Holder residence tomorrow morning, but what about tomorrow night?”

“You know you’ll have to help prepare me.” Sherlock sniffed. “You might find it…”

John leaned up and kissed Sherlock’s lips. “You think that’s a deterrent?” he whispered. “Cleaning you out just so I can fill you up with my fat prick? Maybe bringing you off in the process? Very hot.” He kissed Sherlock again, then settled back against Sherlock’s right side and promptly fell asleep.


“Have a good day, Sherlock.”

“You, too, John.”

John left, but almost at once, his voice was heard on the stairs.

“What in the hell?!”

“John?”

“There’s a dead bird on the steps! Jesus Christ!” John ran back into the sitting room and went straight for kitchen.

“A bird?”

“Yeah, looks like a magpie. Not a good sign. One for sorrow, isn’t it? I don’t know how it got in. I didn’t hear anything last night, did you?”

“No,” said Sherlock, frowning.

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. I’ll it out to the bins, but I’ve got to be quick or I’ll be late. I’ll leave these downstairs and disinfect when I get back.”

John hurried away with the broom and dustpan.


“Christ, I’m knackered,” said John when he’d returned later that day.

“John, if you’re tired, we needn’t…”

Their eyes met.

“Are you kidding? It was the only thing keeping me going: the thought of you laid out and ready to take me.”

“I have to say I was thinking along much the same lines for most today. By the way, there were two other reports of dead magpies deposited in front of residences and businesses along Baker Street.”

“Yeah? Not just us, then. I wonder what it was. You know cats like to present you with their kills, but we don’t have a cat, and it would have to be a puma to kill a bird that big and drag it halfway up the steps.”

“Indeed.”

“Practical joke, probably.” John grimaced. “Very funny.” Then his face softened. “Let me have the first turn in the shower, then I’ll tend to you.” He stood and kissed the top of Sherlock’s head.

Sherlock smiled.


“Let’s just keep you wrapped in this cocoon,” said John as he was maneuvering the chair out of the bathroom and across the hall to Sherlock’s bedroom. “No sense putting on pyjamas when I’m just going to take them off you.”

“You’ve got product in your hair,” observed Sherlock, looking up at John. “New product.”

“You found me out.” He smiled. “It was a sample that arrived by post.”

“Really? By post? I didn’t see any…”

“When’s the last time you opened your own post, Sherlock Holmes?”

Sherlock chuckled, then shrugged. “I prefer to text.”

John turned Sherlock ‘round so that the latter faced the door. “Let me tidy up the bathroom before we get started. It’s a veritable swamp in there.”

FWONK!

“What was that?” asked John. He stopped in the hallway, a towel flung over his shoulder, and stared down toward the sitting room. Then he followed the sound, disappearing from Sherlock’s view.

There was a loud fluttering.

“OH, GOD! SHERLOCK, STAY IN THE BEDROOM! SHIT! SHIT! GO AWAY! SHOO! GODDAMMIT!”

“What is it, John?!”

“BIRD! A BLESSED MAGPIE DOWN THE CHIMNEY! LIVE AND, CHRIST, IS IT ANGRY! VERY, VERY ANGRY!   MAYBE IT THINKS WE KILLED ITS FRIEND THIS MORNING! I’LL SHOW YOU ONE FOR SORROW YOU FEATHERED FIEND!”

FWONK!

FWONK!

“John?!”

“ARGH! THERE’S MORE! MORE THREE OF THEM! SHIT, SHERLOCK! STAY IN THE BEDROOM! CLOSE THE DOOR! LOCK YOURSELF IN UNTIL I GIVE THE ALL CLEAR! ARGH! LOOK HERE, YOU WINGED BASTARDS, I FOUGHT A LAND WAR IN ASIA, I CAN TAKE YOU! UGH! JESUS CHRIST! THEY’RE VICIOUS, SHERLOCK! DO BIRDS GET RABIES? CALL ANIMAL CONTROL! CALL LESTRADE!”

“Yoo-hoo! I heard something. John, what is going—Oh, my God!—You’re bleeding!”

“GET OUT, MRS. HUDSON! GO DOWNSTAIRS! THESE BIRDS ARE MAD!”

Sherlock was tapping as fast he could on his mobile. Then, with a sharp pang of cowardice, he rolled forward and closed the bedroom door with his foot. He looked about the room for a weapon of some kind while the battle raged on without. He almost screamed in frustration.

“John!”

“MRS. HUDSON, I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY!”

“How about this?”

PSSST!

“OH, THAT GOT ‘EM, DIDN’T IT? YEAH, C’MON, TWO BROOMS ARE BETTER THAN ONE! LET’S TRY TO GET ‘EM INTO THE LOO! YAH! YAH!”

WHACK!

PSSST!

WHACK!

PSSST!

The noise grew louder.

“John, no!”

“SHUT THE DOOR, MRS. HUDSON! SHUT THE DOOR! SHERLOCK’S IN THE BEDROOM!”

“But, John, don’t lock yourself ub with them—!”

“DO IT, MRS. HUDSON! IT’S THEM AND ME, MRS. HUDSON! CAGE MATCH! AND I’M GOING TO WIN!”

John opened his eyes.


“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” said Lestrade.

“Sherlock?”

“Is fine. You were the one doing your best Tippi Hedren. You’re going to stay overnight and get some antibiotics. Mrs. Hudson wasn’t admitted. Her injuries were not as nearly many or as severe as yours. They might’ve pecked you to death, John.”

John didn’t care about that.

“Sherlock’s alone?!”

“No, Mycroft’s staying with Sherlock tonight.” Lestrade smiled a tight smile. “Brotherly bonding. One wall I don’t want to be a fly on, that’s for certain. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep an eye on the case. Not my division, but all the same. You weren’t the only one to be attacked tonight, John. Two other addresses on Baker Street also got a trio of mad magpies down their chimneys.”


“John’s not my boyfriend! He’s just a, just a,” Sherlock puffed and huffed and then, finally, spat, “friend!”

“Oh, really?” Mycroft emerged from the bathroom in an apron, one hand on his hip and the other on the handle of a mop. “You let all your friends give you enemas? No, I don’t suppose so.”

Sherlock flushed. “You’re just angry about your date!”

“Damn right I am! Your timing, Sherlock, as usual, is absolutely—"

“Oh, go to hell! And go away! I don’t need you!”

“Whoever did this might have more trouble in mind, Sherlock. And I don’t need to tell you that you are in a very vulnerable state.”

“Yeah, state the bloody obvious why don’t you, you prig? You don’t know what’s it’s like! To be so helpless! There was nothing I could do! Just listen to John getting mauled!” Sherlock smacked the cast on his arm and scowled. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!”

When he spoke, Mycroft’s voice was low and cutting. “Don’t I know, Sherlock? Don’t I know what it’s like to watch someone I care about being destroyed in horrific ways knowing there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it?”

“Oh, shut up! I’m done with drugs. I don’t need them anymore. I’ve got the Work and, what’s more, I’ve got…”

Sherlock faltered, then bit his lip.

“And when John’s gone?” pressed Mycroft. “When you’re back on your feet and no longer require a very, very personal attendant?”

They stared at each other for a long while in silence, then Sherlock said, casually,

“Maybe John will stay.”

“Maybe. Have you asked him to stay?”

Sherlock looked away and shrugged. Then he shook his head.

“Of course.” Mycroft retreated into the bathroom with the mop. He heaved a heavy sigh then said, “Magpies certainly make a mess, don’t they? Especially when they are bludgeoned to death in a small tiled space. One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a funeral…”


Hours later, Mycroft was placing a mug of steaming tea beside Sherlock’s computer, then he returned to his own place with his own mug at the other end of the kitchen table.

“They just made an arrest,” he announced, without looking up from the screen.

“Yes. James Ryder,” said Sherlock. “I’ve never heard of him. You?”

“No. He’s young. And he has a history of mental instability.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“He’s a lad after your own heart. Studying chemistry.”

“Not biology? I wonder.” Sherlock tapped his lips with his fingers. “They almost ignored Mrs. Hudson but went for John’s head in a savage way. John was trying out a new hair product from a sample that he said came in the post. Maybe…”

Mycroft looked up. “Samples don’t come in the post anymore. I remember the used packet in the bin. I’ll get it.”


Two days later…

“Sherlock, you don’t have to keep vigil by the windows anymore,” said John. “They caught the bastard.”

Sherlock lowered his binoculars and turned the wheelchair towards John. “You aren’t sleeping, either.”

“True,” sighed John. “I wish I could sleep. I was doing so well before those blasted birds.”

“And you won’t take the pills.”

“I never take the pills.” John rubbed his face with his hand. “You know about Harry and her drinking. Well, she’s typical of the Watsons. We’ve a genetic predisposition to overdo things. I mean, it’s not an absolute or anything, but I don’t want to risk getting caught up in something like that. Oh, but what would you know about that? I bet you could search this place from top to bottom and never find a trace of what anyone might call recreational. In fact, I know there’s not because I’ve cleaned the place from top to bottom. Hell, I’ve cleaned you from top to bottom, too, when it comes to that.”

Sherlock bit his lip and pointedly avoided looking at the floorboard between John’s armchair and the bookcase.

“Yeah, it’s never been my thing,” he lied, instantly regretting it, instantly chastising himself.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. So bloody wrong!

“If you’re going to stay there, I’m going to try to kip on the sofa,” said John. “Um, about, well, about what we were planning to do before the birds attacked…”

Sherlock read John’s expression and put him out of his misery at once.

“I’m not so keen anymore,” he said. “It’s not anything about you, John, of course, but I’m not feeling very…”

“Oh, good,” said John, looking utterly relieved. “I was worried I was the only one. Yeah, just bad timing, really, really bad timing. Like a children’s birthday party in Bodega Bay bad timing?”

“Yes. A pity, of course.”

“All right, good night, Sherlock.”

John stretched out on the sofa.

“Good night, John. Sleep well.”

Sherlock turned back to the window and took up his binoculars.


A couple of hours later, Sherlock was listening to John’s quiet snoring when his attention was arrested by the windows in the building directly across the street.

The lights were on, and the shades were being drawn, one by one.

And a yellow symbol was painted on each shade, the first of which Sherlock recognised.

He hurriedly grabbed the London A to Z which was still among a pile of books on the desk and translated the five symbols.

Will. Burn. Your. Heart. Out.

Chapter Text

Sherlock was in agony.

Just talk to John! Just ask him to stay! Just open your mouth and…

Just…

Just what?

Sherlock didn’t know how to start the conversation. He wasn’t even certain what he wanted, except that he didn’t want John to go.

Tomorrow. John was going tomorrow.

Sherlock was scheduled to have his casts removed the very next morning, and he still hadn’t summoned the courage to talk to John about the future.

The hours had passed silently. Silent hours had turned into silent days.

‘But John hadn’t said a word, either!’ Sherlock’s inner brat argued.

Sherlock and John had just looked at each other and been exceedingly polite.

Sherlock had spent a lot of time pretending to read, and John, well, John had kept house. Sherlock wasn’t much good at small talk, but he had made an effort at meals. And sometimes he hadn’t even taken meals because he just couldn’t face the uncertainty, the anxiety, the stress of not saying what he wasn’t saying.

And then there was the threat, the ‘Will. Burn. Your. Heart. Out.’

Sherlock had not told John about the message. By the time that John had woke some hours later, the symbols had vanished. John would’ve believed Sherlock even without proof, at least, Sherlock hoped John would’ve believed him, but it would have added to John’s stress, and he was already rattled from the bird attack.

Sherlock recognised the message as a threat directed at him, or perhaps, though unlikely, at him and John, related to the Chinese smuggling case, and he had waited for the blow, the strike, the…whatever it was that was going to happen.

But nothing had happened. Absolutely nothing. Hour after hour. Day after day.

Sherlock had gone on waiting and waiting for something to happen and not knowing from what quarter the danger would come. There had been no more birds. No more graffiti, either. He’d followed up on the parties involved in the Chinese smuggling case. There was a General Chan, the supposed leader of the gang in London, who was murdered soon after the arrest of ‘the Spider.’ He’d also tried to find out everything he could about James Ryder, the young man responsible for the bird attack, puzzling and puzzling about what the connection between the two cases might be, trying to find a link, however faint or tenuous, between them.

Sherlock hadn’t been able to find any link, and that frustrated him. But he’d kept his researches to himself because he hadn’t wanted to worry John. Surely, an invisible, unknown, vague threat wouldn’t do him any good. Not in his state.

And then there was the lie about the drugs. It was like a little shadow that never went away. Part of Sherlock did not want to tell John the truth, he did not want John to see him as an addict, with all the stigma and mistrust that went with the label, and part of him knew that if John happened to scrub the floor very thoroughly in one very specific spot, well, the truth would be found out, regardless. And that would be worse, much worse.

All of this contributed to Sherlock’s fried nerves, and the eggshell-walking coolness that had settled in 221B.

John slept on the sofa. One night, Sherlock had found the courage to ask and John had agreed to sleep beside Sherlock in Sherlock’s bed. It had ended in disaster. John had had a nightmare and, in his flailing, had struck Sherlock squarely in the face and fled.

Sherlock never asked again, and the gap between them grew wider and wider.

John didn’t even ruffle Sherlock’s hair anymore.

Well, maybe it was better that John was leaving, though Sherlock, morosely, better that things were going back to the way they were before.

Regardless, Sherlock was going to dispose of the kit. John had an appointment with his supervisor at the Men in Kilts agency, no doubt to talk about next gigs, and as soon as he was gone, Sherlock was going to pry up the board and get rid of the Moroccan case and its contents.

It was like Poe’s tell-tale heart, and like Poe’s tell-tale heart, it brought ruin, for no sooner had Sherlock eased himself down to the floor, which took a while, and pried up the floorboard, which took another while, than John was back.

“John!”

“Stupid me, I forgot my wallet and I was planning to get a bottle of wine on the way home—Sherlock! Did you fall out of the chair? Oh.”

“John, listen, this isn’t what you think.”

God, that sounded awful.

“Really?”

“I can explain, John.”

“Yeah, I don’t have a lot of time for explanations, Sherlock. I’m very late for a meeting with my boss. Here, let me help you back in the chair.”

Sherlock felt so helpless. His mind grabbed at anything. “Take my card. For the wine,” he blurted, like a madman.

“Yeah, okay. Got it. I have to go, Sherlock.”


John was so tired. So very tired.

As he clomped back down the stairs, he wondered, and not for the first time, just how he’d mucked things up with Sherlock so badly.

If they had more time, maybe John could repair things, but there wasn’t more time. John’s contract was up tomorrow.

John wanted to stay, but more than anything, he wanted Sherlock to ask him to stay. Even there had been even the slightest hint of an invitation, John would’ve jumped on it.

But Sherlock didn’t ask him to stay, he just looked nervous.

Very, very nervous.

John could only conclude that Sherlock wanted it to be over. He wanted to be out of his casts and to have John out of his life. He wanted to go back to the way things were.

It hurt. It hurt John deeply. But it would’ve hurt John a lot more if he wasn’t so tired.

Even this new revelation, the one about Sherlock’s drug use didn’t upset John as much as it should.

Maybe that’s why Sherlock had been so nervous. He’d wanted a fix.

Poor thing.

John didn’t have any hard feelings about the lie. He understood it too well. If there was a way that John could’ve lied about his nightmares and all the rest of it he would’ve have, but there wasn’t any hiding anything when you punched your bedmate in the face in the middle of the night!

It was those bloody birds! They might not have passed on any disease to John, thank god, with their pecking, but they’d certainly infected the atmosphere of 221B.

There was still time, though. John still had time to set things right.

He’d meet with the boss, John wasn’t certain what the cryptic voicemail had meant, and it was a bit strange to be called into HQ out of the blue, but whatever, he would deal with whatever it was, then he’d go back to 221B, with a bottle of good wine in hand, maybe some cheese and crackers, too, and have it out with Sherlock. He’d tell Sherlock exactly what he wanted, exactly how he felt, and see what Sherlock thought about it all.

But that didn’t happen.

John wouldn’t return to 221B Baker Street for forty-eight hours, and when he did return, he was a shell of the man who’d left.

He stood at the bottom of the stairs, thinking for several long minutes before he placed his sodden shoe tentatively on the first step and gripped the railing with all his might, which, admittedly, wasn’t much.

Then he climbed the stairs very, very slowly.


The squeak of the front door was like an answer to Sherlock’s prayer.

Could it be?

John!

Sherlock held his breath.

Those were his footsteps, but why was he hesitating? Of course, he wasn’t certain that he wasn’t coming back to a junkie. Well, one glance at Sherlock would dispel all misgivings.

Sherlock stood and faced the mantelpiece and ran a hand down the front of himself.

He turned left and right, studying himself in the mirror.

He looked good.

Haircut. Shave. Handsome new suit. Clean. Sober. Standing tall. Arms, legs, everything working properly.

Good, good, good.

And he was ready to say the words.

John, please stay.

Sherlock’s chest rose and fell. He gripped the mantelpiece as he listened to the footfall.

Wait for him, wait for him.

There was a soft cough.

“Mister Holmes?”

Sherlock turned. And his world tilted.

John?!

Sherlock’s jaw dropped as his eyes danced over John’s dirty, disheveled form.

He’d been sleeping rough?!

When John hadn’t returned in the evening, Sherlock had assumed he had gone back to his bedsit. Or maybe he was kipping with friends. Sherlock knew that his lie about his drug use had hurt John, and John needed time and space to think and cool down and decide what he thought about everything.

Sherlock would give him all the time and space in the world. And if he wanted to throw Sherlock off altogether, well, who could blame him?

Sherlock had got an email that he didn’t read from the Men in Kilts agency about the termination of John’s contract. It had arrived a day earlier than anticipated but nothing usual there. There had also been a voicemail from John’s supervisor that Sherlock had pointedly ignored, thinking it was one of those customer satisfaction surveys.

The previous day Sherlock had been wholly absorbed in getting the blasted casts off and getting himself in shape to see John. He’d also readied the flat, getting rid of all the vestiges of his convalescence. He had even found the perfect armchair in Mrs. Hudson’s lumber room and placed it just where he wanted in the sitting room: across from his own.

Sherlock hadn’t worried about John. After all, John had Sherlock’s card and all the liberty to use it, so he wasn’t without resources. If he wasn’t using it, Sherlock checked, of course, it was because he was okay, because he didn’t need money.

One day John would come back, he would need to collect his things upstairs if nothing else, and Sherlock would be ready to talk, to tell John just how much he meant to him and how he wanted him in his life.

But, in that moment, Sherlock realised all his assumptions had been wrong, wrong, wrong.

Something had happened to John. Something bad. Sherlock’s heart was breaking, and he responded mechanically,

“Yes? I’m Sherlock Holmes.”

“I need a detective,” said John weakly.

Sherlock almost leapt across the room. He took a chair by the desk, twirled it theatrically, and set it directly behind John, then he flew to his own armchair, sat, and waved.

“You’ve come to right place. Please have a seat. Tell me about it.”

Chapter Text

John had forgot just how tall Sherlock was. Christ, he looked good. Positively edible. And that made John feel all the worse since he knew that he himself looked and smelled like something a cat had vomited.

“You’ve come to right place. Please have a seat. Tell me about it.”

John didn’t know if he was about to make the worst mistake of his life, but then he remembered Afghanistan and thought, really, next to a land war in Asia, what could be worse?

“Two days ago,” he began, then paused when his eyes alit on the vacant armchair. It was new and very handsome. He turned to Sherlock with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s for my associate,” said Sherlock, answering the unspoken question.

“Associate!” exclaimed John hotly. Christ, he had been gone only two days, and Sherlock had already replaced him!

One corner of Sherlock’s mouth quivered. “My associate vanished the day before yesterday.”

John stared, then he blinked. “And you haven’t found him yet?!” he exploded. John wasn’t certain why he’d fallen into a Monty Python sketch, but he was certainly in one. “Some detective you are!” he added contemptuously.

Sherlock’s grey eyes were soft and gentle. He tried not to smile. “I’m hopeful he will return very soon. Meanwhile, your problem.”

John shook his head and exhaled. “Yeah, uh, let’s see, two days ago, I went to see my boss…”

“…after having a row with your flatmate,” supplied Sherlock.

“No,” said John.

“No?”

“No.”

“No, you don’t have a flatmate?”

“I had a flatmate, but I didn’t have a row with him.”

Sherlock stared, then blinked. “You didn’t have a row with your flatmate?”

“Are you deaf?! And, Christ, will you let me finish?”

“I’m very sorry. Pray continue.” Sherlock steepled his fingers at his lips.

“If I’m allowed!” snapped John, then he rubbed the back of his head. “Uh, let’s see. I went to see my boss who informed me that a current client had accused me of theft.”

“WHAT?!”

John looked at Sherlock and Sherlock looked at John in utter disbelief.

Then John lifted his eyes to the ceiling and muttered,

“It wasn’t you. It wasn’t you.”

“Of course, it wasn’t me!” shouted Sherlock. “How on earth could you think it was me?” He sprang to his feet and began to pace. “You think I would accuse you of theft to your employer?!”

John looked up and couldn't help smirking at Sherlock’s striding figure. “I bet that feels good,” he remarked in a low, knowing voice.

“You know it does,” answered Sherlock in the same tone. Then he took up his mantle of indignation again. “But, John, really, how in the bloody hell could you think I would accuse you of theft?”

“I’m a maid, Sherlock! And he said a current client! How many current clients do I have?!” argued John. “And what did I have in my pocket when I was sitting in that office? Your bloody card! How was I going to explain that? Who would believe the truth? I was put on suspension immediately, and I was relieved of my uniform. I was lucky they didn’t ask me to turn out my pockets right then and there! I had some clothes in a locker at the agency. Here, by the way.”

Sherlock took the card. “One call, one text, and I would’ve told you it wasn’t me!”

“I was ordered not to have any contact with any clients until the investigation was complete.”

“And you followed orders?!”

“It’s my job! Christ, have you ever had a job? And, I’m a solider, Sherlock! Yes, I followed orders! I couldn’t come back here, the agency doesn’t know I’ve been living here because it isn’t allowed, and I didn’t think it the moment to enlighten them, and, well, I didn’t have anywhere else to go!”

“What about your bedsit?”

John cackled mirthlessly. “I let that go the day after I moved upstairs!”

“Really?”

“You’re an idiot,” said John with a sneer. “You think I’m going to pay for something I’m not using? I don’t have that kind of money. I didn’t have much cash. And I was so confused and so, so bloody tired, I just,” he shrugged, “wandered around, trying to figure out what had happened and what I was going to do next.”

“It’s been cold.”

“Yeah, and raining. Ghastly.” He shuddered.

“I thought you were angry about the drugs. I thought that’s why you didn’t come back. I got messages from the agency, but I didn’t pay any attention. I prefer to…”

“Text. Yeah, I know.” John sighed. “I was a bit upset about the lie, but I understand, really, I do. It did cross my mind, however, that the drugs had played a role in my predicament, but even so, I couldn’t figure out what you could gain by such an accusation. None of it made, or makes, any sense. Then I thought maybe you were just trying to, I don’t know, break up in a rather spectacularly awful fashion?”

“Break?! Up?!” Sherlock jumped in the air, then spun. “Break up!” he announced to the wall. “So, I’m that kind of arsehole?” He turned back.

John cocked his head and shot him a look.

“Fair enough,” conceded Sherlock. He resumed his pacing. “But, John, am I that kind of arsehole to you?”

“No, but things have been weird since the birds.”

Sherlock stopped. “Well, yes. Yes, they have. That’s true. I’m very glad you didn’t stay away any longer.”

“I’m not even supposed to be here. If I’m seen here, I’ll probably be sacked outright. And maybe arrested, too.”

“They can try,” said Sherlock dryly. “To arrest you, that is. But if you aren’t supposed to be here, why are you here?”

“Because I need a detective! I need answers! I haven’t stolen anything, and I want to prove my innocence! And on the chance that it wasn’t you, you were the only one I thought who might be able to help.”

Sherlock nodded. “You came to the right place. Your case presents some features of interest. I’ll take it, Mister…” He extended his hand.

John stood and straightened his back. He gripped Sherlock’s hand and said,

“Watson, John Watson. And, uh, it’s Doctor.”

“Is it?”

John shrugged. “It might be.”

They shook hands. Then Sherlock said,

“Now although I think the danger minimal, I understand your aversion to returning to your current domicile. Nevertheless, I need somewhere I can find you when the case is solved. I advise you go to this address,” he tapped his mobile, and John’s mobile beeped, “and stay there until I submit my first progress report which will be in the next six to eight hours. Personal expenses will be taken care of. A bag of clothing will be sent ‘round at once.”

John glanced at his mobile and read the address, frowning. “This isn’t your brother’s house or something, is it?”

“God, no. You appear to have suffered enough, Doctor Watson.”

John laughed. Then he sighed heavily.

“I will solve this, I promise,” vowed Sherlock.

“Thank you. I, uh, hope your associate returns.”

“As do I. I’m lost without him.”

John stopped. “Yeah?”

“Oh, yes.”

Chapter Text

“Are you certain?” asked John.

“This is the address you gave me, mate,” said the cabbie. “The other paid the fare, so off you go.”

John got out of the taxi, looking up…

…at the Ritz.


A holdall arrived just as John was stepping out of the shower. Sleep was rapidly overtaking him as he slipped into a pair of pants and crawled into bed, but just before he sank, he was held back by a thought.

He grabbed his mobile.

I’m going to sleep. I don’t know for how long. JW

John felt a bit foolish. Sherlock wasn’t his mother. But then three beeps sounded in quick succession.

Rest. I’ve got this. SH

Text me when you wake. I’ll have news. SH

Sweet dreams. SH

John flopped onto his back with a smile on his face.


Just got up. JW

There was a knock when John emerged from the bathroom.

Sherlock smiled.

John smiled and ushered him in with a “Welcome to the Ritz.”

“You look,” Sherlock’s eyes raked up and down John’s almost nude form, “rested.”

John popped the elastic waistband of his pants and grinned a schoolboy grin. “Yep. How’s my case?”

“I’ve solved it.”

“Really?! While I was sleeping?!”

“Mm-hmm. But you have been out for a while. We’ve got an appointment with all the relevant parties. I brought your kit.”

Sherlock opened the holdall in his hands, and John peered in to see a Men in Kilts vest and matching kilt and his gun. He chuckled and nodded. “What every well-dressed accused is wearing these days.” Then he rubbed his stubbly jaw. “Do I have time for a shave?”

Sherlock checked his mobile. “How long will it take?”

“Twenty minutes.”

“Twenty minutes to shave?”

John drew closer and licked his lips. “Only if I suck you off first.”

One corner of Sherlock’s mouth lifted. “We’ve time.”


It was dramatic. Dramatic in the sense that it was over-the-top and dramatic in the sense it was staged with precision. John found himself in a stately home, waiting in a dark wing to give his assigned lines.

Sherlock was talking.

“…and so, you see, it’s clear from the reaction of these chemicals and the residue left behind that you cleaned the area around the safe after the housekeeping staff did and that you used a substance considerably less environmentally friendly that they are required to use.”

“A preposterous accusation! There’s nothing to support your claim. And even if it were true, there’s not a shred of evidence that it was me who did these things.”

“Oh, but Mister Holder, there is. This was a very traditional crime. You, sir, if I may be frank, are a very traditional criminal, leaving behind a very traditional clue.”

The man Sherlock was addressing turned pale, then red. “I’m going to call security! You are going to be thrown out!”

“You can try. But given the conversations I’ve had with your security staff, I suspect your calls will be in vain. Where was I? Oh, yes. You did what I’m recently given to understand is typical of persons, including myself, who did not come of age with any responsibility whatsoever for the cleanliness and order of their environs.”

“What are you babbling about?”

“I mean, sir, that you’ve never had to clean for yourself, so you don’t know how to clean, and so you didn’t clean behind the furnishings, specifically the safe that you moved, even when you were committing a crime of stealing a item valued at some millions of pounds.”

“Drivel!”

Sherlock leaned in.

“You left a bloody footprint, you corrupt imbecile! A shoeprint, to be precise, that could only be created by the custom-made Italian loafers with a tack very fortunately stuck in the left sole. Like the ones you have on right now!”

“I don’t believe a word of it!”

“You don’t have to. Mister Thurber does.”

John was not the only member of Sherlock’s cast. An old grey man in a very fine grey suit emerged from the darkness.

“Mister Holder.”

“Giles! Surely you can’t believe the lunatic!”

“The firm of Endwhistle and Books does not look kindly on fraud. Not kindly at all.”

“Neither does Scotland Yard,” said Lestrade on cue. His hands were crossed over his chest, and even from John’s viewpoint, he did a very good impression of a menacing angel of justice. Or one of those TV coppers who were two fingers of rye away from snapping. Or both.

Alexander Holder laughed scornfully. “You all are going to be swayed by a smudge, a smudge and a footprint, which could have got there by a thousand different means!”

“But it didn’t, Uncle.”

Alexander Holder’s face went ashen, and a thin sheen of sweat erupted on his balding head.

“Mary.”

“It wasn’t a fatal overdose after all, Uncle. Are you surprised?” A young wraith of a woman stepped out into the light.

“Y-y-your word isn’t worth m-m-much, m-m-my dear…” stammered Alexander Holder, then he sprang, and John was there, right in his path, to clock him.

“That,” said John, looming over the shocked banker’s face and his supine body, “is what happens when you blame the help, bastard.”


“Thank you,” said Sherlock as they were leaving the Holder estate. “I know it isn’t your division.”

One corner of Lestrade’s mouth twitched. “Attempted murder of the niece is, but, no, defrauding insurance companies is MacDonald’s line of country, but since he won’t give you the time of day on account of you revealing to him just what was in his favourite cottage pie, I’ll have to do, at least until I can turn the case over, which I sincerely hope will be in the next hour.”

“Thanks, Lestrade,” said John. “I really appreciate it.”

“You, John,” said Lestrade, “are very welcome, and if you run into this kind of trouble again, I hope you’ll give me a call even if, for whatever reason, you don’t want to tell Cheekbones Poirot here. You’re also welcome to crash at chez Lestrade for any reason; somebody ought to stay there, I’m usually kipping behind the vending machine in the Yard canteen. All right. This is where I exit stage left with villain in handcuffs. Now if you two can keep yourselves out of trouble for the next, oh, I don’t know, two hours, I might just get to share a pint with a special someone before that someone boards a plane for China for God knows how long.”

“Christ, Greg, you still haven’t had your first date?”

“Chinese smugglers, murderous birds, swindling bankers, plus our bloody schedules. It’s always something,” said Lestrade with a weary smile. “Well, I’m never bored. Be good, lads. And stay out of trouble. Please.”

“Good night, Professor Thurber,” said Sherlock, turning and giving the respectable gentleman a slight bow.

“Master Sherlock, you are, as always, good for business, and it’s wonderful to see you in such good form. Please pass along my regards to your brother.” He inclined his head and then slipped into a waiting car.

“Thank you, Sherlock,” said John as they walked side-by-side toward the main road.

“You’re welcome. Tomorrow, everything will be settled with the agency as well.”

“As far as nightmares go, it was a horribly painful but relatively short one. By the way, how long do I still have the suite at the Ritz?”

“As long as you want it.”

“Dinner at mine, then. Hungry?”

“Starving. For nourishment as well as…” He let his gaze fall to John’s kilt.

John hummed, then he looked up and down the street. “Cab?”

“Yes.” Sherlock hailed the first cab that passed.

“You know,” said John when they settled in the cab, “Lestrade’s right. It does seem to be one thing after another.”

“Sherlock Holmes,” said the cabbie in a sing-song voice. “I’m such a fan. Smugglers of Chinese antiquities. Maniacal corvids. Gem-stealing money men. Is there any scheme you can’t foil?”

“Who are you?” said Sherlock, immediately on guard.

John reached for his gun, which was tucked in his waistband.

“Down boy,” said the cabbie, looking at John in the rearview mirror. “You don’t want to do that. I’m just here for a chat. Not to peck you to death. Or to strangle you, although, I am certain that day will come. No, I’m here to say how wonderful it feels to know I’ve finally found a worthy adversary, a true archnemesis, in you, Sherlock Holmes. It warms the cockles of my heart. It’s a pity I’ve got to go away for the winter, but I’ll be back. I’ll be your first cuckoo of spring, Sherlock Holmes. Count on it. Oh, and this is your stop.”

Sherlock lunged forward. John lunged forward.

The cabbie cackled and opened the door and rolled out of the slow-moving vehicle.

“John! Out!”

“My door’s locked!”

They fell together out of the door on Sherlock’s side and rolled onto the pavement.

“Are you okay?” asked Sherlock, cradling John in his arms.

“Yeah, yeah. You?”

“Yes, but…”

BOOM!

“JESUS CHRIST!” exclaimed John.

The cab exploded in flaming rockets and balls of fire.

Sirens went off. People screamed. And somewhere in London, a first date was about to be cancelled and much swearing was about to ensue.

Sherlock and John held onto each other and stared at the blazing inferno.

John swallowed and said in a shaky voice, “So, this is what life is like with you, Sherlock Holmes.”

“Yes.” Sherlock looked John in the face. “What do you think?”

John laughed. “I think it’s spectacular. You have an archnemesis.”

“I know! Incredible. I’ve always wanted one.”

Chapter Text

As soon as they entered the room, Sherlock shoved John backwards, closing the door. Then he sank to his knees and rooted beneath John’s kilt, swiftly coaxing John’s prick to full hardness with hands and lips and tongue.

Sherlock’s touch felt very good, of course, but before John let himself be swept away, he gave voice to something that had been nagging him since they’d left the scene of the exploding taxicab. It was like the sensation that had prompted him to text Sherlock before he fell asleep many hours earlier, and he was slowly learning to listen to it and act on it.

“Sherlock.”

John took Sherlock’s hands in his and brought them forward.

Sherlock sat back on his heels and looked up with a slight furrow of his brow.

“I’d like to be asked.”

Sherlock’s eyes widened, and his brows rose in surprise, but he straightened his back and did something with his face, John wasn’t certain what, which gave him the look of a schoolboy about to recite “The Boy Who Stood on the Burning Deck” in front of the class.

“John, would you do me the honour of allowing me to suck your magnificent cock?”

“Not that, you knob!”

Sherlock’s brows rose even higher, and his face took on the rare-for-him mark of perplexity.

“The sharing of lodgings part. I mean, before we start shagging each other’s brains out, I want to know where I’ll be living when I check out of this paradise.”

“Ah.” Sherlock’s face smoothed. He reached forward and brushed John’s fingertips with his own, taking up John’s hand and kissing the top of it in a manner that ought to have been ridiculous, but which John found utterly charming.

“Come live with me and be my,” Sherlock paused and tilted his head in mock consideration, “flatmate, associate, paramour, and, most of all, friend.”

“I will,” vowed John, then he added, teasingly, “But the words you use, Sherlock. Really. ‘Paramour?’”

“Don’t pity me, pity Lestrade.”

“Why?”

“Mycroft will be much, much worse.”

“Get back at it, you,” growled John, grinning. He released Sherlock’s hand and lifted the front of his kilt in invitation. “Ah, wait,” he said, just as Sherlock was about to pounce. John took the gun from his waistband and gave it to Sherlock. “Safety first. It’s all fun and games ‘til you shoot your backside off.”

Sherlock promptly returned the weapon to the holdall and flew back to John, saying,

“I’ve waited a long time to be on my knees in front of you.”

“Leg not hurting?”

“Bit stiff,” Sherlock admitted. “But otherwise, good as new. Now, hush unless you fancy moaning my name or shouting encouraging obscenities.”

“Yes, sir.” John leaned back against the door, stepped his legs out a bit wider, and gave himself over to Sherlock.

Sherlock’s hands gripped John’s buttocks while his lips kissed all about John’s prick, the crease of John’s thighs, his balls, the base of his prick.

Then kisses turned to licks, and licks to wide, wet laps of Sherlock’s tongue.

John bunched the material of the kilt up toward his own waist so he could rest his hands directly on Sherlock’s head, caressing his scalp in the way that weeks of practise had shown was precisely how Sherlock liked it and liked it best.

Teeth bit sharply into John’s thigh.

“Don’t,” murmured Sherlock. “I can’t think when you do that, and I’ve been fantasising about this for so long, I want to do it perfectly.”

John smiled and stopped his ministrations, content to simply cup Sherlock’s head with one hand and hold the kilt back with the other.

His prick was at full mast, and Sherlock licked up and down the shaft, pausing to suckle at the prickhead and tease the slit with the tip of his tongue. Then he wrapped one hand ‘round the base and took the whole of John in his mouth in one quick, deft plunge.

John’s head thudded against the door. He closed his eyes and groaned.

Sherlock began bobbing and sucking in earnest, and John forced himself to open his eyes and look down and enjoy the show.

This is what he, Sherlock, had been fantasising about when he’d been trapped in the casts. John had, too, of course, but, he suspected, not quite as much as Sherlock.

But there was no denying what a beautiful sight Sherlock made! John could’ve watched him all day. It was like being fellated by a Renaissance sculpture. The cheekbones alone…

John let his hand drop and brushed the side of Sherlock’s face.

Sherlock smiled, or tried to, but his mouth was full.

“Fuck, Sherlock!”

John’s patience was dwindling as quickly as his pleasure was building.

“Do you want me to hold on?” he asked, not certain if there was some element of Sherlock’s fantasy that hadn’t been realised yet, but feeling if there were, he’d better get on with it, quick.

Sherlock grunted a reply which could’ve meant anything, but then hands were on both of John’s buttocks, and Sherlock was kneading the flesh as well as tugging John’s body towards him.

“Can I fuck your mouth a little?”

Sherlock hummed, and John gripped Sherlock’s hair by the roots and thrust hard thrice then spent his load down Sherlock’s throat with a very satisfied sigh.

He let go of the kilt and slumped forward a little.

Sherlock pulled off, but instead of falling back on his heels, he hid himself beneath the tartan, pressing his face against John’s thigh and swallowing.

John petted Sherlock, smoothing his hair. After a while, he asked, “All right?”

Sherlock nodded but said nothing.

John ran one hand down to Sherlock’s nape and cradled his head tenderly. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. It’s a bit surreal. I mean, one day I’m homeless, betrayed, and going to prison for a crime I didn’t commit, and the next day, I’ve got a flat and been acquitted of all charges in a fantastic scene that wouldn’t go amiss in an ITV drama, been almost blown up by an archnemesis, and fellated in a suite at the Ritz by a gorgeous changeling in a Savile Row suit. If I think too hard about it, I’ll have to lie down and call for the smelling salts.”

John felt Sherlock’s wide smile against his skin, then the press of Sherlock’s lips.

“Help me up, John.”


“How do you want to fucked, gorgeous?” asked John sometime later.

“However.”

Sherlock looked a bit overwhelmed, so John did not ask again; he simply moved closer and began to unbutton Sherlock’s shirt. “Good?” he asked, then kissed the side of Sherlock’s neck.

“Mm. I’ve decided. I want it standing. I’ve spent so much of the past two months sitting, I feel as if I never want to sit again, but…”

John licked along Sherlock’s clavicle. “But?”

“Not on your knees. Maybe…”

John nuzzled Sherlock’s chest as Sherlock twisted at the waist, looking behind him.

“…on the bed?”

“You got it.” John finished unbuttoning Sherlock’s shirt, then he opened Sherlock’s trousers and freed Sherlock’s erection.

“All for me?” he asked, looking up at Sherlock, and then, as if to punctuate the question, he leaned in and softly kissed Sherlock on the lips.

“Yours,” said Sherlock. He swallowed. “To pleasure as you wish.”

“God, don’t say that,” groaned John, looking down at the prick. “We might not leave this place for days.”

“John.”

John stepped away and peeled off his vest. “You want me to keep the kilt on?”

Sherlock flushed.

John chuckled and moved to the far side of the bed. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’”

Without taking his eyes from Sherlock’s, John crawled across the bed on all fours.

“John. Shit. John.”

Sherlock was moaning even before John reached him.

John rose up and wasted no time. He swallowed Sherlock down and began sucking at once.

Sherlock bucked into him. Not, John realised, because he intended to or because he liked it, as John had, but because he kept bending forward, trying to reach farther and farther, to caress more and more of John’s bare back.

John used every trick he knew and sucked as hard as he could and had Sherlock whimpering the refrain ‘John. Shit. John.’ until the bitter muck splashed the back of his throat.

Much to his embarrassment, John finished sputtering and spitting and coughing in a very undignified manner.

Sherlock yanked up his trousers and hurried off. He returned with a hand towel.

“Nothing like making a man choke on it, eh? Sorry, definitely not like Grace Kelly,” joked John, hoarsely.

He took the proffered towel and was grateful for it.

Then it was John’s turn to be petted, and he found he rather liked it.

“I don’t want to hurt you, John, ever.”

“You didn’t, but let’s have a wash and a kip, yeah?”

“Yes. It’s been a long night.”


Later, when they’d both slipped beneath the sheets, John curled his nude body ‘round Sherlock’s.

“Fuck,” he said when their bare skin touched, “Fair warning, when I wake up, Sherlock, I’m probably going to want to…”

“Shag my brains out?”

John laughed. “Something like that.” He took up Sherlock’s right arm and kissed it at the wrist and elbow. “If you’re amenable, of course.”

“I’ll manage,” said Sherlock cheekily. “I believe it goes along with saving one’s…”

“Paramour?”

“…fuckbuddy from the gallows. Or Pentonville.”

“Oh, yeah, on second thought, I’m warming to ‘paramour’!”

“Thought you might.”

“The feel of your body, your skin, Sherlock. Christ.” John rubbed himself against Sherlock. “I don’t want to get hard again, but Jesus…” He licked Sherlock’s neck as he rutted. “Maybe I should put some pants on. Bloody hell! Shit, I’m hard, baby, so hard for you.”

“You could come inside me.”

John groaned at the thought of fucking Sherlock’s sweet arse in the great, hulking bed, but then he said, “No, let’s wait until were,” he paused and licked his lips before pronouncing the last word, “home.”

He felt the shudder go through Sherlock, and he completely understood it. He asked, “Is there…?”

Sherlock wormed away then rolled back and pressed the bottle of lubricant on John.

“You?” John asked as he threw back the bedclothes and slicked his hard prick.

“No, I’m…I’m good.”

“Sure?”

“Yes, John!”

“Sorry. Last question. All right?” John turned Sherlock slightly, then slid his own slicked prick along the cleft of Sherlock’s buttocks.

“Yes, more than all right.” Sherlock reached back and grabbed John’s leg.

“You feel so good. Sorry I’m such a beast.”

“For Christ’s sake, don’t apologise! Just do it!”

“You got it, princess,” said John, more amused than offended by Sherlock’s impatience. “I’m going to make a great, big, stinking mess of your pretty little back.”

John was as good as his word, sliding his prick against Sherlock and spitting come onto his lower back. “I don’t think we can share a bed, you know, regularly, Sherlock. I mean, I’m going to have to sleep sometime. Or maybe get some kind of really uncomfortable pyjamas…”

John heard a noise. At first, he was concerned, but then he realised it was Sherlock’s muffled giggling.

“Go to sleep, you goat!” Sherlock cried and lobbed the pillow beneath his head at John.


Sherlock slept, he did, but he also spent time listening to John’s soft breathing and enjoying the warmth of John’s body. Sherlock certainly didn’t believe in signs, and he considered his instincts to be no more than his reasoning on hyper-speed, but something deep inside him was telling him:

John Watson could be the making of you.

When Sherlock was fully awake, he curled one arm around John and reached for his mobile with the other. He was messing about online when he felt John stir.

He set his phone aside.

“Sher—?”

“C’mere.”

Sherlock slid down and took John in his arms, kissing his jaw and the underside of his neck.

“Dream?” grunted John.

“Nope.”

“Damn.”

John rutted against Sherlock. Sherlock opened his legs, accepting the mock thrusting.

“Let’s fuck, love,” murmured John.

Sherlock reached for the lubricant and slicked his hands, then he gripped both their pricks together. “Like this?”

“Oh, yeah, perfect.” John cradled Sherlock’s head in his hands and kissed Sherlock’s mouth. “Together. Let’s come together.” The kiss lingered, mouths moving against each other as Sherlock’s hands stroked.

Eventually, Sherlock was so drunk on John’s lips that his touch faltered.

“S’alright,” mumbled John into Sherlock’s mouth. “Just kiss me.”

Sherlock abandoned their pricks and wrapped his arms around John. They rolled together, mouths never breaking.

“You like a good snog as well as I do,” breathed John when they finally separated.

“Apparently,” said Sherlock with no little wonder in his voice. But then he reached for John’s prick, which was still stiff.

“Yeah, let’s come together, eh? If we can manage it.”

They managed just fine.

Sherlock found the lubricant and gave it to John, and they sat up, kneeling, facing each other, and brought each other off with groans and sighs and kisses.

When they were clean and snuggled together under the duvet, Sherlock said,

“Four years, on and off. The last year mostly on.”

“That’s why your brother took the violin. He was afraid you’d sell it.”

“Or lose it.”

“Why’d you stop using?”

“I met Lestrade. I solved a case for him, and he said if I got clean, I could solve more. So, I did.”

“Just like that?”

“Yes. Sometimes when I’m bored…”

“You get urges?”

“Yes, but so far I haven’t relapsed and now,” Sherlock looked at John, “it seems quite unlikely that I will.”

John smiled. “You’re lucky.”

Sherlock retuned the smile. “I think so.”

“I mean I wish Harry had something like your Work.”

“I really was planning to throw the kit away when you saw me the other day.”

“I believe you. I do. I love you, Sherlock, and I’ll stand by you whatever the threat, within or without.”

“Someone once told me that love was a chemical defect in the losing side.”

“Your brother’s a twat, and even he doesn’t believe that.”

“True and true. He got his first date.”

“Yeah?”

“He took Lestrade out for Chinese. Of course, in Shanghai, they just call it food.”

“Really?!”

“Look at Lestrade’s ‘Out of Office’ reply.”

John laughed. “Let’s get some food ourselves. We’ve got a big day ahead of us."

Chapter Text

When John returned to 221B Baker Street much later that afternoon, he had the wonderful feeling of ‘coming home.’

And the sight he came home to tickled him to no end:

Sherlock, on a stepladder, reaching into a far corner of the ceiling with a feather duster.

John quickly took a photo of Sherlock, then gave a long wolf whistle and called out,

“Now there’s something you don’t see every day. What are you up to, Sherlock? Have we a new case? Have the spiders in clues?”

As he spoke, John moved closer to the ladder and playfully bit Sherlock’s rump as he descended the steps.

“My new flatmate impressed upon me the importance of evenly-divided household maintenance responsibilities,” said Sherlock. “And I thought it would be a good idea to get my share in early. Plus, if cleanliness is next to godliness, then it will help balance the prodigious amount of wicked sinning I plan on indulging in.”

John hummed. “I like that.” He glanced at a book which lay in the seat of Sherlock’s armchair and gasped.

Easy Meals for Two?! Who would believe that the world’s only consulting detective cooks and cleans? When did I get so lucky?”

Sherlock turned as he reached the ground and gave John a peck on the lips.

“Cooking is easy. It’s just chemistry. But what to cook, well, that’s a bit more of a puzzle for me. I don’t really care most of the time. It’s just fuel for transport. But I know I’m in the minority in that opinion. I was mostly looking at the photos wondering if you’d like whatever it is. How did it go?”

“Very well. I was cleared of all suspicions and offered a full and sincere apology by my supervisor and by the agency.”

“I should hope so. You got it all in writing?”

“Yeah,” said John with a quirky smile. “Those of us in service still worry about our references, but perhaps I shouldn’t worry anymore because I’m not in service anymore. After all the apologies were accepted, I promptly tendered my resignation.”

“Well done, John.”

“Yeah. I’ve got a list of things I need to do before I am able to practise medicine the way I want to practise it, and I’ll be checking those things off one-by-one. It won’t take that long. Then I will look for locum work until something more permanent comes along.”

Sherlock nodded. “Well, Doctor Watson, speaking of checking things, did you happen to check your bank balance this morning?”

“No, I was otherwise occupied in shagging a gorgeous man’s brains out.”

“Too bad because half of the payment for the Wilkes’ job has been deposited in your account. It’s a tidy sum to get you started on checking things off your list.”

“Oh, Sherlock! Really?” said John, tapping his mobile as he sat the holdall in his hand on the seat of his armchair. He shook his head in mild disbelief at the number displayed on the screen. “Holy fuck!”

“So, not having a job doesn’t mean you aren’t getting paid,” continued Sherlock.

“I can’t believe it! You’re giving me half?”

“You earned it, John.”

“Thank you. That does make things better, a lot better. I was wondering how I was going to make half of the rent for the first few months.”

“Wonder no more,” said Sherlock, tossing the feather duster onto the desk. “Come here.”

John reached up and curled his arms ‘round Sherlock’s neck and kissed him soundly.

“Let’s celebrate tonight,” said John when he pulled away. “It seems like we should.”

“I agree. Pick something out of that,” said Sherlock, nodding at the cookery book. “If you go to the shops and get the ingredients and a bottle of something nice, I’ll cook.”

“Nice!” said John, grinning. “But no films afterwards.”

“No, I think we’ve had enough of life imitating art in that respect.”

“Yeah, we had our Rear Window.”

“And our The Birds,” added Sherlock with a grimace.

“And we even had our Notorious, what with last two days’ emotionally-constipated, miscommunication melodrama, but thankfully, I didn’t have to marry a Nazi.”

“Nor I,” said Sherlock.

“Nor you,” agreed John. “No, no films tonight. But I do think I owe you a full-body massage. And if you’re keen to take me up on that offer tonight…”

“Yes.” Sherlock turned a bit pink. “I was hoping you’d mention that. I am quite looking forward to it.”

“Oh, before I forget, I made one condition in my resignation, and given the circumstances, the agency and my supervisor obliged.”

“What’s that?”

John took the holdall and opened it up.

Sherlock looked down into the bag.

“When I cleaned out my locker, I asked if I could keep the kilt if I promised not to wear it in public or use it to impersonate a Men in Kilts housekeeper.”

“Oh, John, you didn’t!” cried Sherlock.

“Of course, I did. I know how much you like it.” John smiled. “Shall I wear it tonight?”

“Yes, please!”

John kissed Sherlock. “You got it, love.”

“John, thank you,” said Sherlock softly. “Thank you for everything.”

“You’re welcome, Sherlock. You’re extraordinary, and I am so excited about life and what lies ahead for us. Really, I couldn’t be happier.”

Sherlock wrapped his arms around John, and John wrapped his arms around Sherlock, and they held each other tight.


Much later, after much debate, John had been dispatched to the shops with a list. He was returning, his hands full, when he heard Sherlock on the phone.

“Yes, yes, of course. We’re on our way.”

John gave a nod then passed onto the kitchen. He sat the shopping bags on the table and began putting items up.

“John, our celebration will have to wait.”

“Why?”

“That was Detective Inspector Hopkins. A man has been run through with a harpoon and embedded in a wall in Forest Row. Ready?”

John threw everything in the refrigerator, then turned back, grinning.

“Ready when you are.”