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Between Friends

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Between Friends

 

When John finally gets the signal locator that Sherlock programmed into his GPS working, he gets the first cab he can find and snaps out the address at the driver with barely-concealed rudeness. “And step on it!” he barks, not caring.

Sherlock has been abducted and all John knows, his heart in his mouth now, is that Sherlock’s phone damned well better be exactly where Sherlock is because if he arrives and finds only a phone with no lead on Sherlock’s precise location, there is going to be hell to pay.

He should have realised sooner. He should have known that Sherlock wouldn’t have blown him off for dinner. They’d only talked about it, but Sherlock had specifically said that he would pick up chicken from the rotisserie over on Marylebone, along with their mouth-watering potatoes and salads and such, and when he hadn’t come home anywhere near he’d said, John had sulked instead of worrying. By ten that night, he was worried. At half past ten when the text came (anonymous number, untraceable – John’s already tried), he panicked.

The tracer has indicated an abandoned storage building along the Thames, a particularly seedy bit of shoreline.

***

Sherlock waits. The circulation in his arms has been cut off for well over an hour now. Perhaps more; he isn’t certain how much time has passed. Well: between one hundred fifty-one and one hundred fifty-five minutes since silence fell; he can’t recall precisely when the sensations in his hands faded completely. His legs feel stiff and it’s beginning to get cool in the factory. He hopes that John will find him soon. This is his one hope: John always comes, sooner or later.

(There’s no one else he’d rather have find him.)

Particularly not now. Though it will serve for years of humiliation going forward, if he has to be found strung up to the corrugated steel wall of a former textile manufacturing plant nude as the day he was born, it’s still preferable that it be John who finds him and not someone else. Particularly not any friends or back-up of the two men lying dead on the floor. The fortunate part of that was having managed to provoke them into shooting one another themselves. The unfortunate part was not having persuaded or manipulated them into untying him first.

His body is splayed against the cool metal like an X, his arms and legs outstretched, and numerous lines of nylon rope crisscross his body, tight enough to chafe against his skin when he moves. He’s certainly tried moving and has achieved nothing but rope burn for his pains. Each limb is strapped down numerous times; any rescue will take some time to effect, as his attackers no doubt intended.

(Do hurry, John, he thinks.)

The sun set ages ago. Two hundred eleven minutes or thereabouts.

Finally, he hears the distant approach of a car gear down and turn a corner with just enough slowing to indicate the professional driving courtesy of a London cabbie. His heart gives a leap. (John!) It could be someone else, Sherlock reminds himself sternly, but he’s almost certain that it’s John. (Please, let it be John.)

He hears the car door slam and the slower rumble of the idling engine. Then footsteps. He nearly sags in relief against his restraints when John’s (smallperfectefficientlovely) form appears in the far doorway. The idiots hadn’t even locked the door behind them.

From across the space, John’s jaw drops, gaping at him. Then he comes to his senses and he runs across the building, crossing most of the space. “Sherlock! God! Are you all right?” He stops, seeing the bodies, or perhaps he’s just unwilling to approach Sherlock’s unclad form.

“Oh, splendid,” Sherlock drawls sarcastically, relief at John’s presence and annoyance with the potential reason for his hesitancy both giving his tone more bite than he intended. “Glad you took your time about it. How long did you spend sulking about dinner before you realised something had gone amiss?”

John scowls, which means that his comment was directly on the mark. “What happened?” he wants to know, ignoring Sherlock’s question. “Who did this?” He points at the two bodies. “Was it them?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “No, John, the perpetrators of the attack were simply careless enough to have chosen a disused factory where another altercation had coincidentally only just taken place.”

“Do you want me to help or not?” John asks, glaring at him.

Sherlock drops his gaze and subsides, suddenly feeling self-conscious about his nudity again. “Please.”

That pacifies John and he steps around the second body and comes closer. “How long have you been like this?” he asks, avoiding looking anywhere at Sherlock.

Sherlock attempts to shrug but he can barely even move his shoulders. “Long enough,” he says shortly. “Coming on two hours, I should think.”

John winces. “Where are your clothes?”

Sherlock nods at a pile on a dusty chair over John’s shoulder. “Over there. Obviously they didn’t take my phone, as you found me. Eventually,” he adds crossly.

John shakes his head. “I’d be nicer, if I were you,” he warns, pulling out a pocket knife and flipping open the blade. “You’re lucky I even have this on me.”

“Just cut me free, please,” Sherlock requests.

John glances at his face, then his eyes travel fleetingly down the length of Sherlock’s body and the scrutiny is almost agonising. “Are you hurt at all?” he asks quietly. “Did they… do anything to you?”

“Roughed me up a little,” Sherlock admits. “Nothing serious. Bit of bruising by tomorrow, I’d imagine.”

John pauses, lips pursed, then asks the question he’s clearly loath to ask. “Why did they strip you? I mean, they didn’t…”

“No,” Sherlock says quickly. “I don’t know, but they never had a chance to get into whatever they had in mind. I imagine it was to be some form of extortion. They shot one another before they got to that.”

“Okay,” John says, sounding relieved. He steps back to examine the network of knots, then selects one near his knee. “Listen, I’m going to leave your arms for now because your legs will be too weak to support for weight if I free them first, so I’m going to need to leave your arms where they are for now. I’ll start at the inside and work my way outward, all right?”

“Whatever you like,” Sherlock says, resigning himself to a longish wait.

“Hold still,” John says, his voice going slightly out-of-focus the way it does when he’s concentrating and attempting speech at the same time.

Sherlock holds still and tries to pretend he doesn’t find it both endearing and arousing. He does. It can’t be helped; he’s certainly tried. However, John being competent and masterful and saving the day is appealing in so many ways, not least of which that most of the time John is unaware of it, unaware of how attractive it renders him. The exceptions are the times when even he knows, full of smirk and fire as he coolly guns down an assailant in an unsavoury back alley (almost never lethally, just enough to slow their attackers in sufficient time to effect an escape) and that’s worse, because then Sherlock’s grinning back at him, high on adrenaline and endorphins and there have been multiple occasions upon which he’s been dizzyingly tempted to back him into the nearest wall or dark corner and pin down that fiery, hot-tempered body high on its own adrenaline rush and fuse himself into it somehow, become part of it, part of John. (Or worse, to sweep John into his arms and kiss him.) Adrenaline highs and John have become synonymous to his mind and body both, and it’s dangerous, though not as dangerous as the accompanying emotional component by half.

It’s not adrenaline he’s feeling now; that faded with the sun over an hour ago. This prickling in his skin (what he can feel of it), the heat beginning deep in his abdomen somewhere, has nothing to do with excitement and everything to do with John’s skilful hands and his dangerous proximity. He’s nearly radiating trustworthiness and control; the very set of his mouth and jaw speaks volumes to that. And his hands are warm where his knuckles are brushing Sherlock’s skin and it’s nearly torturous. Sherlock closes his eyes and endeavours to ignore it.

John gets the first rope cut. “Sorry,” he says, breaking the silence that’s fallen after a bit. “I don’t want to cut you and these are tight. I wish I had a serrated blade; that’d go faster.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Sherlock says, his jaw a bit tight, trying to keep his voice even. “Take your time.”

John’s eyes flicker up to his and away again; he nods and licks his lips. Sherlock inhales and looks away. He should be immune to John’s constant lip-licking (and deduced related oral fixation, so obvious) by now, but of course he isn’t. Because it’s John and John breaks down every bit of discipline he has when it comes to resisting distractions that come in his specific size and shape. Sherlock lets out his breath slowly and looks into the distance and tries to think of anything but the way John’s warm fingers and knuckles are brushing against the skin of his abdomen. It’s only flesh, nothing more.

(He wishes John were naked, too, that this was some elaborate game.)

(Stop it.)

Sherlock exhales again and it’s shakier this time. It’s taking all of his effort to keep his body from reacting noticeably. He’s aware that his nipples have peaked, but that could easily just be from the cold. Nothing incriminating in that.

“So, who was it?” John asks, breaking the silence again, not looking up. “Who did this? Who were they, I mean?”

“I don’t know yet.” Sherlock is distracted by the whorl of John’s hair at the crown of his head. “I can’t concentrate like this. I’ll think about it later. At home.”

“Right,” John says quickly. “Okay.”

John saws through another rope, steadying his movements with a hand on Sherlock’s chest, dangerously close to a nipple, and just like that his mental control breaks and his body begins to react, tightness gathering in his testicles, blood rushing southward into his penis, his flesh beginning to fill out, tingling, and Sherlock has to swallow a mouthful of saliva that wasn’t previously there. John needs to remove his hand now or his current humiliation will actually become lethal. Instead, John presses down even harder, cursing under his breath as he cuts steadily through the knot, and it does nothing to prevent the rising of Sherlock’s flesh. He exhales heavily and does his best to think of the least arousing thing he can. Anderson’s beard. Anderson’s forensic work in general, for that matter. Mrs Hudson’s laugh. Inconclusive results from what appeared to be a very simple experiment. Mycroft’s smuggest sneer while “networking” with important people who work for foreign governments, thinking himself the most suave individual in the room.

It isn’t working. All he can think of is the warmth of John’s hands on his naked flesh. Sherlock risks a look downward but John’s head is blocking his view of the progress of his unwanted erection. This distracts him; he can see the spot at the base of John’s neck that he always wants to touch his tongue to, see if it tastes the way the collars of his shirts smell. (Stop it!) He feels himself harden still further and gives in to silent despair. He is absolutely aroused; he can feel the flush staining his pale skin from his face down his neck and into his chest, his nervous system alight and vibrating with want. John is so close and, at least for a few more agonising seconds, unaware. He is bound to find out, and soon, though, and Sherlock wants to disappear through the floor of the factory rather than have John find out how aroused he is by their current circumstances.

John gets the difficult knot undone. “There,” he says with some relief. “That’s your torso free. Let’s get started on your legs – ” He drops into a crouch as he speaks and freezes.

He’s seen it, then. Sherlock presses his lips together in silent frustration and irritation. For God’s sake, it’s not as though he can help it. (Fuck, he thinks with heartfelt sincerity. He’s not usually particularly profane even within his own thoughts, but if ever a situation called for profanity, it’s being tied up naked with a raging erection for one’s flatmate and friend while said friend is attempting to free one from said bonds. The sheer futility of his unwanted tumidity is reason enough to curse.)

John is completely rigid, like a deer caught in the headlights. He’s in a half-crouch, one knee on the floor, the other near his chin, his eyes on Sherlock’s knee as though the erection is like the sun or something, too bright to even look at directly. He clears his throat as though nervous (why would he be nervous?), then does it again. With the view unobstructed, Sherlock can see that he’s well past ninety degrees, his penis straining proudly upward and he has never hated his body more than he does at this particular moment. John coughs, as though two throat-clearings were fully ineffective at rendering him capable of speech again. “Er,” he says. He passes his hand over his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Er, wow,” he manages weakly. “Um. Wow.” He tries for poor humour. “And to think I thought it was a bit chilly in here,” he says lamely.

“For God’s sake,” Sherlock snaps. “It’s not as though I meant to, all right?”

John looks apologetic. “Er, sorry,” he mutters, glancing up at Sherlock. He looks back, eyes lingering longer this time, possibly taking in Sherlock’s heated face and clear discomfort. “Look, I’m sorry,” he says, sounding like he means it this time. “Happens to all of us, I guess.” He fidgets with the knife. “I’ll, uh, just – keep going, then, shall I?” He doesn’t wait for a response but starts working at the ropes binding Sherlock’s left knee.

Somehow it’s even worse now that John knows. Every single touch of his fingers only serves to make Sherlock even more aroused. Feeling comes back into his feet likely only by the sheer amount of blood circulating through the lower half of his body now that the ropes around his midsection have been severed. It’s practically obscene, his penis too stiff to even bob, just pointing upward like a bloody flagstaff just above John’s face and all Sherlock can think about is how much he wants John’s mouth or hands on it. It’s so close. Sherlock closes his eyes and attempts to control his breathing, which has become erratic. How ridiculously inconvenient, that his generally unreliable libido should choose this one, shining moment of his life to discover its most aroused possible state. He thinks that he would do anything to have John touch him right now. Sherlock swallows again and relishes the exquisite torture of John’s fingers near his right knee now.

John is working faster, clearly as uncomfortable as Sherlock is. They will simply never speak of this incident again, Sherlock resolves. Perhaps John will go and wait outside the factory to let him dress once he has Sherlock freed so that he can masturbate harder than he ever has in his life and deal with this. It shouldn’t take longer than a minute at most, at this rate. John reaches his ankle and manages to cut through two knots at once. This frees his entire leg and John eases his foot to the floor. “Just hang in there,” he advises. “You’re not going to be able to put any weight on it just yet. That’s why I’m leaving your arms for last.”

“Fine,” Sherlock says, and it sounds mangled.

Undeterred, John works resolutely at his right ankle, repeating the process. “Er – I’m just –” he puts the knife down and briskly rubs both of Sherlock’s legs, the thighs and knees and calves. “ – I’m just trying to get the blood flow moving again,” he explains, his own face flushing, and he doesn’t even try to look Sherlock in the eye as he says it.

Sherlock doesn’t tell him that he can feel his feet already (pins and needles and rather unpleasant, yet wholly failing to distract him from the rest of this). The touch is obviously meant to be too rough to add to Sherlock’s humiliating erection, but it’s too late. A drop of moisture detaches itself from the head of his penis right in front of John’s face and John shoots to his feet as though he’s been shot.

He stares at Sherlock, still strung up by his arms, and says, the words jamming themselves together on his tongue as he says it, “Just this once – between friends – I mean, you’re – I can’t just – ”

“Oh God, please,” Sherlock breathes, too desperate to care to try to hide it at this point. He is fully naked and sporting an erection harder than granite and all he wants is for John to touch it, now.

“You want me to – ?” John is still hesitating and Sherlock’s control gives way completely.

“For fuck’s sake, yes, please, just touch me – ” he babbles, all-out begging, but it’s all right because John’s warm fist has just closed around his penis and is stroking roughly over it. He’s bracing himself with a forearm across Sherlock’s chest like a bar and masturbating him with something approaching clinical detachment, but Sherlock doesn’t even care. The feeling is so intensely good that he’s half afraid of the sounds he’ll make when he reaches orgasm, which is tantalising seconds away. “Harder,” he begs, his voice shredded, and John (beautifulwonderfulkindmerciful John) complies, his strokes rougher and faster, his grip tighter and then Sherlock is flying, his body twisting and arcing off the cold metal wall, thrusting into John’s fist with a ragged shout as he writhes desperately and ejaculates like a fire hose, or so it feels to him, blood rushing in his ears as his body spurts and pulses in John’s hand. Nothing has ever felt so good in all his life. No adrenaline rush, no high, no vindicated having-been-right-ness.

He sags back against the corrugated steel, dangling limply by his numb arms. There’s a spot of drool at the left corner of his lip and he weakly licks it away and reality comes crashing back in over his head. John just jerked him off. The cruder colloquialism comes to mind automatically, somehow. Never mind that. He can’t even bring himself to look at John. There’s probably some rule of etiquette about what to say at this point when something like this occurs, but it’s not as though he would know it. He settles for breathing hard and avoiding John’s gaze as his body stops spasming in the aftershocks of the first orgasm he’s ever had at another person’s hand. It’s shocking both physically and metaphysically. He simultaneously wants to be alone and wants to bury his face in John’s stomach. (Or mouth.)

John clears his throat again and moves away, letting go of Sherlock’s now-spent penis and tactfully wiping his hand on a wooden beam nearby, then again on his jeans. He approaches again, his face completely set, and begins working on Sherlock’s right wrist. “You’re going to be weak,” he says, his voice closed-off and clinical-sounding again. “As I said, you likely won’t be able to stand on your own, so don’t try just yet.” The rope is cut and John catches the dead weight of Sherlock’s arm before it can slam into his body. He massages it with both hands the way he did with Sherlock’s legs and it seems he’s trying equally hard to pretend that nothing’s just happened. Sherlock keeps his eyes down, nearly closed, his heart rate slowly settling from its high. The left wrist now and then he’ll be free. John cuts the final knot, pins Sherlock’s body to the wall with a shoulder to keep him upright and massages feeling back into his left arm, too. “Okay,” he says, turning to hold Sherlock up with his hands now. “Take it easy.”

“Let me down,” Sherlock says, throat rasping from when he shouted. John steps away, but not far, and Sherlock’s legs give away and he falls to his knees, accidentally tilting forward into John. John staggers but doesn’t back away, not wanting Sherlock to fall forward (or so Sherlock supposes), and in that brief movement, Sherlock realises something that makes him stop in turn. John is hard in his jeans. Sherlock clearly felt it in the brief contact his chin made with John’s crotch. He looks up at John and their eyes meet, and the knowledge is plainly there in John’s eyes. He knows that Sherlock has realised.

There’s a split second where neither of them move, then Sherlock, shuffling on his knees, manages to manoeuvre John around and into the wall, and attacks his crotch with his mouth, through his jeans. John moans, then changes his mind and curses, pushing at his head. “Sherlock – don’t, I – ”

“Between friends,” Sherlock says, ignoring him, trying to work on how he’s going to manage the button with his half-dead arms. He fumbles at it with fingers that aren’t fully functional but he has serious motivation on his side and gets it open. The zip he manages with his teeth, which makes John moan helplessly. He isn’t protesting any more. (Good.) Sherlock claws at his underwear with still-half-dead hands until the waistband is down past John’s testicles and gets himself an eyeful of John’s fully flushed penis, as hard as Sherlock’s was, and wet, too. Sherlock feels a moment of admiration; John hid his state much better than Sherlock would have guessed him capable of doing. Then, his prickling arms stinging, he leans them against John’s belly to hold him in place and gets his mouth around most of John’s penis on the first go. He sucks and moves his mouth and presses with his tongue and is rewarded by a steady stream of breathless curses above his head. Only John getting off on this as much as he just did will alleviate his massive humiliation; only this will even the tables between them. Besides which, he allows to himself, he loves doing this, as he’s only just discovered. (Good God, if he’d only known how much he would enjoy fellating a penis earlier in life… though he knows it’s really only applicable to John. Besides which, he did know this more recently, if only in theoretical terms.)

John is pushing into his mouth, not trying to stop him at all, so Sherlock relinquishes his grip a bit, putting one hand still tingling with pins and needles around the base of John’s erection as he works his mouth over John’s flesh. He can taste the difference as John nears orgasm, and when he comes, Sherlock feels a sense of accomplishment akin to that which he would have felt in solving a particularly difficult case – or perhaps even more. John’s penis erupts in his mouth, his fingers clenching in Sherlock’s hair as he pumps himself rapidly into Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock nearly chokes but swallows, swallows again, lips and tongue gathering all of it, massaging it out of John’s penis, relishing it.

It’s over too soon. John takes his fingers out of Sherlock’s hair and pulls himself free of his mouth, stiffly zipping himself away. “I, er,” he says, running his fingers through his hair. “Um. I’ll go out and see about calling a taxi while you get dressed.”

Sherlock sits back on his heels. “All right,” he says. Somehow he feels terribly deflated. (Unexpected range of emotions. Unsettling. Unpleasant, in fact.) He hears John’s footsteps rapidly retreating and crawls to the chair where his clothing was left. Testing gingerly, he discovers that he’s able to pull himself up into an unsteady standing position and slowly dresses himself. He can feel John’s eyes on him from the doorway as he pulls on his coat. Ironic that he should feel more naked now than he did before. “Did you get a taxi?” he asks, his voice carrying across the storage building.

John’s footsteps approach again. “Yeah. It’s on the way. Come on. I expect you’ll want a bit of help, there.”

As it turns out, standing may be fine; walking is another matter and Sherlock is somewhat irritated to discover that he does indeed require assistance. John’s strong arm is around his back, Sherlock’s draped over his shoulders, and he is obliged to lean against John as they make their way back out into the night air.

Neither of them speaks all the way home, and once they’ve arrived, Sherlock is far too preoccupied to think about the attack or the case at all.

***

John opens his eyes under the hot water of the shower and rinses out his hair, overly aware that Sherlock is dressing in his room, just feet away as hot water sluices down over his nude form. He’s thinking of every inch of the body he’d tried so hard not to look at in the factory four days ago and knows in advance that not thinking about it isn’t even an option. He can’t stop thinking about it, about the way Sherlock’s very skin seemed to come alive under his fingers. He’d thought Sherlock was cold. The factory had been chilly; it’s only April and it’s still cool at night. He’d thought Sherlock was uncomfortable, having someone even as close to him as John is see him tied up and nude the way he’d been, uncomfortable with John’s proximity. He’d told himself that the pulse he’d clearly felt thudding in Sherlock’s chest and into his palm had to do with that, with his discomfort. Until he’d dropped to his knees and got himself an eyeful of a cock so hard its hardness wasn’t even negotiable. They weren’t talking about a bit of morning wood or underwear that just arranged things to make one’s junk stick out. That had been at least ninety-eight percent full-capacity arousal.

He’d done his best to be diplomatic about it, but just seeing had opened a whole can of worms that never needed opening between them. He’s knows damned well that he’s always been attracted to Sherlock. Stupidly so. Has been from the very first. But he’s not gay, is he? Or wasn’t until four days ago, not actively so, at least. He was married once, damn it. To a woman, thank you very much, Mrs Hudson, for requiring that to have been made clear. Attraction just happens sometimes. It’s just a thing. It’s a thing you don’t do anything about unless you mean something by it, and they’re not like that, are they? He knows how Sherlock looks at him sometimes, eyes flicking away from parts of him that shouldn’t have interested him in the slightest. He knows he’s glanced at Sherlock the same way. He knows what he’s felt. But by silent agreement, they’ve long decided that they’re not that.

John isn’t sure where the line is on “bro code”, or if he even believes in such a thing. In a war zone, it’s one thing. Everyone’s together all the time, no privacy to be had anywhere. A man has needs. You look the other way; you pretend you can’t hear your mate rubbing one out in the next bunk. He’s heard of regiments that even did it openly, all sitting around together, everyone taking care of himself and no one checking out anyone else’s business too much. It was camaraderie. A bit of lightness in a time and place where levity was scarce on the ground. He’s even heard of a hand job being given out of comfort, when bad news has come in. He’d never done it, himself. But seeing Sherlock so desperately turned on, his entire body quivering like a live wire – he’d not only been horribly, wretchedly aroused by it, himself, but he’d felt compassion for Sherlock on top of it. He could have got Sherlock untied, gone tactfully away while Sherlock used his half-numb hands to get himself off the best he could and then come back in, both of them knowing exactly what had just happened and not acknowledging it in any way. Because that wouldn’t have been awkward in any way. Or John could have done what he did, phrased it as just a hand job between best friends, just to put Sherlock out of his misery.

Sherlock wasn’t ever supposed to know what it had done for him, getting to touch him that way. How incredibly hard he’d got over it, first over seeing Sherlock naked and spread-eagled against a steel wall, and then over jerking Sherlock off, feeling Sherlock’s breath heaving in his chest under John’s arm, and when he’d come, his entire body jerking, come landing six feet away, he’d come so hard – John had nearly lost it right then and there, his balls choking up and aching fiercely in his pants. Of course Sherlock had figured it out, and it still makes sense to John that he would have been desperate to get it out in the open that John had been just as turned on. Otherwise Sherlock would have stayed humiliated and John would have got away with his secret intact.

Now, though, where the hell does it leave them? They’ve got each other off, and a new silent resolution to never discuss it, ever, seems to be the order of the day. Which John is fine with; he’s hardly eager to talk about it, but what are they supposed to do? Sherlock has been more or less the same, only slightly more distant. John’s reacted the same way, a little cool but otherwise the same. On the surface nothing has changed. Except John knows damned well that his cock has been in Sherlock’s mouth and he knows exactly what it feels like when Sherlock’s jerks in his hand in orgasm and there is nothing that will take that knowledge out of their life now. And it’s just there, hovering over the kitchen table between them, following them out into the sitting room to linger over their chairs.

He knows he wants to do it again. Just as he knows that’s not in the cards. Sherlock doesn’t do those sorts of things. And neither does he, though it’s not precisely the same: Sherlock doesn’t do relationships, doesn’t do sex. And John doesn’t do men. Even Sherlock.

This has zero bearing on the fact that he’s currently stroking himself off with Sherlock’s expensive conditioner, thinking of the eager, hungry blow job Sherlock gave him, the way he’d seemed almost disappointed when it was over. God. John rubs at his chest, pinching his own nipples and wondering how it would feel to have Sherlock’s mouth on his neck. He comes too quickly and wishes he could do it again right away.

(Or just do the real thing again.)

Not going to happen, John tells himself firmly, and shuts off the water. He’s not gay. Not even for Sherlock. It’s called free will, and he made his choice ages ago. Besides, it’s Sherlock. It’s definitely for the best. They just need to never, ever talk about it, and eventually it will go away.

***

The case is still ongoing. The people who abducted Sherlock were, according to Sherlock, angry because they thought he knew something (which he did in fact know, according to Sherlock) regarding their recent shady money laundering front. Or something along those lines. What John had got from it was that the rest of the operation was still out there and that he and Sherlock are now going to hunt them down, joy of joys – and not to apprehend them, oh no – but to first spy on them and learn the full extent of their operation, and then apprehend them. Or send in the police, John had suggested. Sherlock had seemed indifferent to the suggestion, evidently uninterested in that part of the arrangements.

“Let me get this straight,” John had said, the morning after he’d rescued Sherlock and heard the full version of the story. “We’re going to spy on the organisation that sent people after you to kidnap you and tie you up naked where no one ever would have found you, without that alert thing in our phones, probably to torture you. We’re just going to infiltrate and have a look around their facilities and then go and report to Lestrade.”

Sherlock had frowned at him over the teapot. “This is bigger than Lestrade, John. I’d report it to my brother, I suppose.”

That hadn’t helped. “Great,” John had responded, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Wonderful. I feel much better. When are we leaving?”

“When I know more,” Sherlock had said a trifle distantly, and disappeared behind one of the papers.

This morning he’d knocked on John’s door and, when told he could enter, had said that he had determined the headquarters of this nameless operation and that, if John was amenable, they could go after breakfast. John had sleepily agreed. Sherlock had retreated down the stairs and John had looked down at his morning wood and wondered if it had grown at the very sound of Sherlock’s voice. “I am not gay,” he’d said aloud, in stern reminder to his body. It’s not gay to want to bugger your flatmate seven ways to Scotland, is it? Shower. Definitely a shower.

Now that he’s dressed and obsessing slightly less over the memory of the factory the other day, John pulls on his coat and follows Sherlock down to the kerb. They get into a taxi and John asks, trying to keep his knees to himself, “So where is it? Where are we going?”

Sherlock says an address but seems otherwise preoccupied. The address tells John nothing whatsoever, but he doesn’t pursue it. Conversations in small, enclosed spaces like this feel dangerous now in a way that they hadn’t before. Too charged. John discreetly types the address into his phone, well aware that Sherlock is aware that he’s doing it. “It’s office space for rent,” he says, not looking at John. “Not officially rented by our group. It’s a shadow organisation. A front. Their submitted business plan would suggest that they are a corporation that provides business solutions both locally and globally – human resources, loan funding, business counselling and so forth – but their actual manifesto all points at arms dealing.”

“Ah.” John understands now. Sherlock knowing this would clearly put him at risk. He always knows too much and no one ever likes it. “I see. So what are we going to be doing?”

“I don’t know enough yet,” Sherlock says. “I don’t know any of their real names. I don’t know where they ship to, who or where their suppliers are, any of it. I just need evidence of one actual deal and that will be enough for Mycroft.”

“If this is your brother’s case, why isn’t he providing more help?” John asks, the general anger that Mycroft’s very existence always provokes in him rising to the surface.

“It’s not his case,” Sherlock says to the window.

Now John really understands. “Ah. But it’s on his level. And you’re just investigating because you felt like it, not because anyone asked you to.”

“That’s usually how I operate. You’re acquainted with my methods.”

Some of them more than others, John thinks, thinking of Sherlock’s mouth on his cock. He clears his throat and goes to say something inane along the lines of I suppose I do when Sherlock leans forward to tell the driver they’ve arrived.

They sneak in through an unmarked door that was locked, but of course that rarely slows Sherlock for longer than a few seconds, and find themselves in a storage area filled with office supplies. It’s silent and only partially lit. “The business does exist,” Sherlock says under his breath, leading the way to the door. “There will be employees here who have no idea what the real work of this organisation is. Global Blue has over two hundred employees and it’s a guarantee that the majority of them don’t know what this is about.”

“But you know who we have to eavesdrop on?” John mutters, glancing around them.

“Of course.” Sherlock ducks under the wire-lined glass of the door window, then cautiously eases open the door. “If we get caught, we have a meeting with David Lyons in Small Business Financing at ten-thirty for our new start-up restaurant. Or so we’ll say, at least.”

“What’s our cuisine?” John asks, rolling his eyes, and Sherlock’s narrow and he doesn’t bother answering the sarcastic question, choosing instead to open the door and slink into the corridor. John sighs and follows, as he always does.

They walk nonchalantly through beige-carpeted hallways, past offices with their doors closed and a dizzying network of cubicles before Sherlock is stopping in front of an office door, his roll of lock picks in his hands. “Keep an eye out,” he mutters, and John assumes a stance of casual surveillance, crossing his arms over his chest. The door opens and Sherlock goes in, yanking John after him. It’s a large office with a desk, multiple chairs, and a small closet in the corner. Sherlock goes immediately to the computer and glances at the door even as he’s typing something. He makes a frustrated sound, types some more, then says, “Aha!” with something like vicious pleasure.

John goes to the window and peers through the open blinds. “Uh, someone’s coming,” he reports after several minutes of listening to Sherlock clicking rapidly through various screens. “Sherlock. I think he’s coming here. Sherlock!”

Sherlock swears under his breath and jabs at some random buttons. “Here!” he hisses, yanking the closet door open. John makes a dive for it and Sherlock follows him in. Unfortunately, it’s considerably smaller than it looked, housing little more than a filing cabinet, which John has stumbled over and sat down on and there isn’t any more room for Sherlock to stand upright, so he ends up tripping ungracefully into John’s lap, hauling his feet out of the way of the closet door just as the outer office door opens.

In the dark, John’s heart is pounding in adrenaline. Sherlock is vibrating with tension, his ear pressed to the door. That was a close shave, John thinks, and they’re not out of it yet: if they are caught here, by international arms dealers who have already tried to abduct and torture Sherlock – nude, John reminds himself, because somehow that’s indicative of a much sicker mindset than otherwise – then he’s quite certain he’d rather not be discovered eavesdropping.

The voices in the office are muffled. Two of them, perhaps. Or is it three? John closes his eyes and listens hard, but he can’t make out any of the words. “Can you hear anything?” he whispers after a moment.

“Not really. Shh,” Sherlock whispers back. He shifts and one of his shoes knocks lightly into the door and he exhales in exasperation, trying to adjust himself more comfortably.

John pulls him further onto his own lap because there’s nowhere else for either of them to go, and grimly tells himself that this is merely for necessity’s sake. This has nothing to do with attraction; it’s about survival, damn it. Several minutes pass as the muffled voices outside the closet door continue their inaudible conversation. Sherlock squirms. His legs had been astride both of John’s but he shifts again so that his right leg is hooked over John’s right and the left is pushing between John’s knees. It’s more comfortable for John, too, but what it means is that he can now feel the warmth of Sherlock’s junk directly on his right thigh. A pool of saliva suddenly fills his mouth and he swallows and it’s far too loud in the pitch blackness of the closet. Sherlock will definitely have heard it. John swallows again and it’s quieter. The voices outside are still talking. John’s stopped paying attention because suddenly, to his dismay, he realises that he’s getting hard. Having a lapful of long-limbed detective who won’t sit still will do that, he supposes, and the irony of being literally trapped in a closet hasn’t missed him. Sherlock is extremely attractive, for all his oddity, and while John’s got almost used to it and can ignore it most of the time, willfully tune it out, it’s a bit much to ask him not to notice now. His hands are still on Sherlock’s hips from when he’d pulled him back. John wonders how Sherlock would react if he slid them forward and down to his thighs. Or his cock. Rubbing it through his trousers, maybe even unbuttoning them…

Heat floods his face in the dark and just like that, he’s hard as a rock. He’s wearing khakis today, perfect: jeans would have given him a bit more cover that way. He has no doubt that Sherlock will feel it soon, if he hasn’t already noticed. Sherlock squirms again and then goes rigid, his spine stiffening: ah. So he’s noticed, then, John thinks dismally. Crap. A new silence falls around them and Sherlock stops fidgeting. John has no idea what he’s thinking, but even the intense discomfort and embarrassment of having Sherlock know that he’s got himself a boner over having Sherlock in his lap hasn’t done anything to make said boner go away. John supposes it’s only fair, in a way, given that Sherlock just went through this same humiliation, himself. He took pity on Sherlock that time, but then Sherlock cottoned on and returned the favour, so – again, John thinks, where does that leave them now?

The outer office door opens and at least one person leaves. They fall silent again, both straining to see if they can tell whether or not it’s empty now. After a moment, John hears the creak of the chair and realises that someone is still there. His left leg is beginning to cramp. And his erection is attempting to make a hole in his trousers in its efforts to get closer to Sherlock’s arse, which it’s poking into through their clothes. Without thinking about it, John lets his hands travel forward and down, just a few inches, so that they’re resting high on the insides of Sherlock’s thighs, and waits for Sherlock’s reaction. After all, they’re on a case, trapped in the closet of an enemy. It’s hardly the time or the place. But Sherlock removes his hands from bracing himself against the walls of the closet after only a short moment and puts them on John’s hands, silently moving them to between his legs, and John feels the answering arousal there with relief. His hips move before he can prevent himself, rocking forward into the cleft of Sherlock’s arse as his hands cup and rub at Sherlock’s cock in his trousers. Sherlock’s exhalation is heavier than it should be, but otherwise he makes no sound, his hands pressing into John’s, thrusting minutely against them. John makes a split-second decision and unbuttons Sherlock’s trousers, giving him a moment to see if he’ll reject this and button them up again, but Sherlock does nothing to prevent him. John works the zip down quietly and rubs Sherlock through his underwear with the palm and heel of his hand. In this position, it feels almost like just getting himself off, with the added bonus of getting to hump something. It feels dirty and so shameful, doing this while stuck on the premises of someone who was involved in trying to have Sherlock tortured, but Sherlock isn’t protesting and neither are their bodies.

Careful to keep quiet, John gets Sherlock’s cock out through the slit of his briefs. It’s hot in his hands and maybe it’s just the darkness enhancing his other senses, but John can feel Sherlock’s pulse through it, feel the heat of his balls rising up around his fingers and he’s more turned on than ever, the blood pounding into his own cock. He leans his forehead on the back of Sherlock’s neck and frots himself against him, his hands jointly working over Sherlock’s erection. Sherlock exhales audibly again, his thighs quivering around John’s and he moves his left leg so that it’s astride John’s again, giving John better access to him. John reaches into his underwear through the opening to tug at Sherlock’s balls and Sherlock’s head drops backward, breath escaping through his mouth. His hands are grasping at his own chest and throat, and then he reaches back to grip at John’s arse as John ruts against him, moving as little as he can even as he gets closer and closer.

The office chair creaks as its occupant stands. They both freeze, listening, and hear footsteps cross the carpeted floor to the office door. It opens and closes. After another moment of silence, Sherlock whispers, “I think he’s gone.”

John hears himself give something like a growl of frustration. “Sure?” he asks in a whisper, breathing hard.

Sherlock cracks open the closet door very slightly, then nods.

John forcefully pulls the door closed again and manoeuvres himself into a standing position, one knee still on the filing cabinet, pushing Sherlock face first into the corner, and resumes what they were doing, rubbing his cock against Sherlock’s arse and jerking him off, only standing up like this it feels much more like a simulation of fucking Sherlock and the thought of it alone is going to be enough for John. Sherlock is gasping, fingers wrapping around John’s on his cock, fucking John’s hand and then he makes a choked-off sound in his throat and comes, his balls twitching against John’s skin. Now that he’s come, John is a touch worried that Sherlock will want to be off again, but surely he wouldn’t just leave John this way – he transfers the hand down Sherlock’s underwear to his hip, holding tight as he rubs himself frantically against Sherlock through too many layers of clothing, but it’s going to be enough if he can just – yes, there it is, John thinking blurrily, his right hand still cradling Sherlock’s softening cock. It’s coming – it’s upon him, and – he hears himself grunt aloud and then he’s coming in his underwear like a teenager, the heat and wetness reminiscent of fourth form and the uncontrollable urges of his then-unschooled body. He hasn’t come in his pants since he was that age and yet he can’t even regret it; it felt far too good. His body is still shaking with it and he can feel Sherlock still breathing hard, even as he zips himself away.

The corner of the filing cabinet is digging into John’s leg and it’s a bit of a relief when Sherlock cautiously opens the door and leads the way out into the office again, both of them blinking in the fluorescent lights. “That was a waste of time,” Sherlock says under his breath. “Let’s go.”

John blinks again, eyes still not adjusted to the brightness. What did Sherlock mean? That the thing that just happened in the closet was a waste of time, or the attempt to gather information? Or both? He follows Sherlock down the beige-carpeted corridors and decides not to ask. They don’t speak all the way home, though Sherlock orders in Chinese a few hours later and calls up to John’s room when the food has arrived. When John comes down, it seems that they’ve both decided to just not discuss it, like the first time. Fine by him. He isn’t gay, anyway.

***

Sherlock doesn’t look up as John shuts the fridge with more force than strictly necessary. He’s quite aware of it, however; he finds that he is always aware of John’s every movement these days. It’s annoying in the extreme. It’s not that it’s new in any way, but he hadn’t thought it possible for the effect to be even more perceptible than it was prior to the factory incident.

It’s such a problem, and evidently they can’t just behave like adults and discuss it. Sherlock, dubious of his qualifications for raising the subject in the first place, has very nearly broached it several times now, but John has communicated – radiated – solid unwillingness to speak about it. It’s his least attractive trait, this stubborn refusal to acknowledge a specific reality that he’d prefer not exist at all, preferring to bury his head in the sand and ignore it even when said reality is so blatantly, obviously there that it might as well be a siren going off in the flat.

The fact is that they’ve now engaged in some form of sexual intercourse twice. Once was bad enough – given enough time, they surely could have slowly forgotten about it. The memory would never have disappeared entirely, but it could have faded into relative obscurity after awhile. But twice within the space of a week makes it much more difficult indeed. One incident could be an aberration, an error, a singularity. Awkward to let it go by without any sort of verbal acknowledgement, but not impossible. Twice, though – twice is not yet a pattern, but the repetition of the first event suggests an increasingly stronger possibility of a third such event. Refusing to speak about this is simply futile. If things between them were slightly cool after the first incident, Sherlock doesn’t even know what adjective to apply to the current one. The flat feels tense, the atmosphere strained to the point of breaking. They cannot prolong the discussion indefinitely; the entire nature of their relationship is in question with neither of them knowing what to expect, what is or is not permitted, allowed, welcome.

Sherlock knew prior to the first incident what he wanted, though he likely never would have acted on it. However, it happened, and its happening only served to confirm how much he has wanted this development to come about in their relationship. But John’s face is guarded at all times, the set of his jaw and shoulders stubbornly indicating his discomfort with the subject and his lack of openness to talking about it. And Sherlock does not know how to bring it up. It’s now three days after the second incident in the closet at Global Blue and it’s been too long since then to raise the subject now without it being a major issue. Perhaps it would have been a major issue even after the first time. Sherlock has no related experience to use as precedent and really wishes John would be the one to explain how these things are supposed to work. Look, Sherlock, when two friends have sex when they weren’t planning on it, they just have to sit down and figure out who wants what. It happened once before with me and a friend from uni. We agreed it was a mistake and it was fine. It was a bit awkward at first but then we both started dating other people and it was fine. We’ll be fine; it just won’t happen again. That was a special circumstance. It doesn’t need to change anything between us. We’re still friends, like we’ve always been. But John has not come forth with any such reassurances. If anything, the angle of his shoulder would suggest that they do in fact have a problem and that their friendship has been severely compromised by it. But he also has not said that it was a mistake and should never happen again. And it was John who initiated it the second time. Perhaps his erection was unplanned, but it had certainly been John who had put his hands on Sherlock’s upper thighs in what Sherlock had considered and still considers an open offer. Very much aware of the bulge protruding into his backside, he’d accepted the offer and it had been John who had insisted on seeing it through, even after they both knew that their escape route was free.

Perhaps Sherlock should have been stronger, should have insisted on focusing on the case, but he’d been far more distracted than he cares to admit to himself by John’s proximity, John’s arousal. Just knowing that John was so obviously attracted to him and physically aroused by him proved to be impossible to ignore, his own body quivering in needy response, wanting, wanting. He’d not been able to think. It’s quite troublesome, particularly because he’s uncomfortably aware that he wants quite a bit more than sexual contact with John. It’s sentiment, base sentiment, but he is forced to admit, in the privacy of his own inner sanctum, that he yearns for all manner of romantic nonsense with John, things he would have scoffed at before. He knows it was already like this before the incident in the storage facility, but it’s as though John’s touch has magnified it exponentially, proving Sherlock’s need for him, both physical and emotional, on the very cellular level. Can a person be pathologically addicted to touch? To the touch of one person in particular? John’s hands touching him is the single best thing Sherlock has ever experienced in his life, more addicting on every level possible than any other substance or experience. Not only the intensity of the pleasure, but the shock of intimacy, the immediate emotional bond, the heady after rush of chemicals, the attachment forming instant desire for deeper attachment, more visceral pleasure, more intense reciprocation.

He doesn’t know whether John is interested in this but feeling awkward about the way it came about, whether he insists on believing that he is in no way attracted to Sherlock, or whether he knows it but refuses to consider the possibility of being in that type of relationship with another male, or whether it’s Sherlock specifically. Or whether he liked it but just doesn’t know how to discuss it.

What he is unhappily more or less certain about is that John, regardless of how he rates the two incidents on a physical scale, is not at all interested in any of Sherlock’s more private yearnings regarding deeper attachment or emotional reciprocation. This could make him rather miserable if he permitted himself to feel that way about it, but the fact is that he has always felt rather more for John than John has for him. It’s hardly new. He can deal with that, adjust to it. But not having any data on what John does or does not want makes it so much more difficult to know what the precise nature of the situation he has to adjust to even is.

(John can be an immensely frustrating person.)

And yet John is the one glaring at the newspaper as though it is in some indirect way, Sherlock himself, as though Sherlock is the exasperating one here. As if it was someone other than John himself who first offered to grant Sherlock sexual relief while he’d been strung up in that storage facility, and someone other than John himself who put his hands in Sherlock’s lap in clear and unmistakeable offer. Someone other than John who had intensified the incident in the closet by pushing Sherlock out of his lap and into the wall, rutting against him in direct simulation of penetrating him, his fist pulling at Sherlock’s penis until he’d been gasping in pleasure, tears coming to his eyes as he’d reached climax, half-drunk on the very notion of John plunging into him from behind like that, all in necessary secrecy and quiet. It hadn’t been Sherlock’s idea, yet now John is punishing him for it, or so it would seem.

The information he found on Global Blue has been relayed to Mycroft and his shadowy, invisible employees. They’re waiting on the organisation behind the front to make a move now.

The waiting is driving Sherlock out of his mind.

***

Pain in the back of his skull is the first thing he notices when he wakes, which he does slowly and groggily. Slow, Sherlock thinks, frowning internally, and realises that his eyes are still closed. He blinks and squints, then feels his mind wake with considerably greater speed, though still unnaturally slowly: John’s face is inches from him. (What?) Frustrated with his own brain’s slowness of function, Sherlock gradually comes to the realisation that he has been drugged. And that he cannot move his limbs. As sensation returns and his mind clicks into gear at the average speed of glacial movement, it occurs to him that he is once again bound. He has been abducted once again, this time along with John, and they are bound face-to-face, lying on their sides in what seems to be a small, dimly-lit room.

Think, Sherlock commands his brain. Where were you last? He recalls having had breakfast and thinking about the situation with John with unhappy frustration. He remembers John closing the fridge. Saying something while he was stirring his tea, something to do with going… somewhere. (Where?) Sherlock closes his eyes again and thinks harder. The store? Yes. Grocery shopping. Tesco. Boring, no wonder he can barely remember it now. What next? They left the flat. John was speaking. Then nothing. They must have been attacked on the pavement, then, between Baker Street and the store. A planned attack, then. Perhaps their visit to Global Blue had not gone unnoticed after all. Perhaps this is vengeance for the two dead men who abducted him the first time. Feeling begins to come back into his limbs and Sherlock attempts to move his arms, testing the bonds.

Charming: they’ve been bound not only face-to-face, but Sherlock’s arms are wrapped around John’s, as John’s are around him, tied tightly at the wrists. His legs are straight, bound at the ankles, knees, and hips, another rope circling their bodies under the armpits. This will certainly help the situation with John, Sherlock thinks dismally. Speaking of whom, John appears to still be unconscious. “John.” He keeps his voice low, in case they’re being monitored. John doesn’t respond. “John.” A little louder this time. “John, wake up. Come on.”

John’s eyelids begin to blink, slowly, heavily. Sherlock reminds himself how slow he was to respond, and he is both: a) faster to wake than John usually is in the first place, and b) significantly more accustomed to being drugged, though Sherlock prefers the self-administered variety. His mouth opens, tongue detaching itself from the roof of his mouth with a wet sound. He swallows, blinks some more, and looks rather like a creature dragged from its burrow into direct sunlight. Sherlock watches him wake, watches the painfully, drug-thickened slowness of his realisations of all the same things Sherlock has just realised: that he was unconscious, that he cannot move, that he is bound to Sherlock. His first attempt at speech is a slurred mishmash of unintelligible nonsense. He tries again. “Whhrrr we?”

“I don’t know,” Sherlock says, keeping his voice low. “At a guess, I’d say we’ve been abducted. Quite probably by the same people who abducted me before, so I suggest we keep quiet. We’ve been drugged,” he adds, probably unnecessarily, but John is still looking like only a small fraction of his brain is in any way operational as yet.

He frowns, thoughts coming visibly – if slowly – on line. “Why are we – ?” He struggles, as though trying to gesture.

“I don’t know,” Sherlock says, avoiding his eyes. “Perhaps they think they’re being quite amusing.”

“Sick fucks,” John mumbles. “First they strip you and hang you up like that, and now this. Jesus.”

“I know,” Sherlock says quickly, uncomfortable.

John blinks some more and appears to wake up most of the rest of the way. “What do you think we’ve been bound with? Do you have any idea where we could be?”

“None whatsoever,” Sherlock admits. “I’m rather hoping that my brother will find us. Preferably before our captors return. And I don’t know what this is. Rope, possibly.”

John swears. He pulls experimentally at his wrists, bound behind Sherlock’s back. “I have a knife in my jacket pocket, unless they took it, but neither of us would be able to use it.”

“Not really,” Sherlock admits.

“Well – what if we both just tried pulling really hard, just in case there’s a weakness in the knots somewhere?” John tries.

Sherlock shrugs to the best of his ability, which is difficult when lying on his side, but he agrees. “We might as well.”

They both pull hard at the wrist, trying to get a hand free, but nothing happens. “It’s hard with my arm trapped under us,” John complains. “Let me – here – ” He rolls them over so that he’s on his back, his arms free above Sherlock, while both of Sherlock’s hands are trapped between John’s back and the floor. He has just enough freedom of movement that he can turn his palms into John’s back, at least. John is straining with the effort of pulling at his bonds, but gives up, panting. “Fucking hell,” he says irritably. “Here, you try. Maybe yours are looser.”

They roll again so that John is above him and Sherlock repeats the process with the same results. The ropes are simply too tight. Sherlock tries his legs, too, but it’s useless – all it serves to do is have him writhe against John for no particular reason, as the knots are in no danger of coming undone. When he stops, breathing hard, Sherlock suddenly realises afresh that he’s on his back with John above him, lying on him, staring down at him. The knowledge is there on John’s face, too. Sherlock is staring back at him, unable to move. (If John wanted to, he could kiss him. But he knows that John doesn’t want to.)

“Bloody hell,” John says, exhaling heavily. “This is – I mean, of all things – ” He stops, not finishing his sentence, but his intent is clear enough.

“I know,” Sherlock says, but saying it doesn’t prevent his body from noticing what’s going on. He can feel himself beginning to respond and this time it’s even more humiliating than the first time. Of all times. At least he’s not alone; he can feel the swell beginning in John’s body. They’re face-to-face, which means that John’s genitals are slightly higher up on Sherlock’s body than Sherlock’s are, the bulge of his growing erection pressing into Sherlock’s lower abdomen, while Sherlock’s is making itself known to the area immediately beneath John’s testicles, against his upper thighs.

“For God’s sake,” John says angrily. “As if it wasn’t bad enough being kidnapped and drugged, they have to go and – force this on us!”

Sherlock attempts a wan smile. “It would appear that the joke is at least somewhat on them,” he offers, not thinking much of the thin joke.

John’s face goes immediately guarded. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he demands.

“Just that they probably weren’t expecting us to – well – like it,” Sherlock tries.

Wrong thing to say, evidently: John’s face clouds over, reddening with anger. “Speak for yourself,” he retorts.

Sherlock swallows. “I was.”

John glares at him. “I can’t help it, all right? It’s only that you’re – you’re right there! Bodies just react. It has nothing to do with you.”

This cuts more deeply than Sherlock could have anticipated. He catches his breath sharply and wishes more than ever that he could be in any other position, able to retract his arms from where they’re bound around John’s body and curl in on himself. He withdraws mentally in lieu of this and turns his head to the side. “Fine,” he says stiffly. The hurt prompts him to add, a moment later, “I suppose it had nothing to do with me in the closet, either, then. I was just there.”

“We are not talking about that.” John struggles at the ropes again. “This is a stupid situation!” he expostulates after several moments of fruitless agitation that only serves to make both of them harder. “Why couldn’t they have chosen to tie us up any other way?”

“I’m sure it was for the sole purpose of humiliating you and you alone!” Sherlock snaps back, angry and stung by John’s entire attitude about this, and no longer caring whether or not they’re overheard. “What else could it possibly be? I’m certainly not bothered by this – of course not, why would I care?”

“I just want to get these fucking ropes off!” John says, struggling some more.

Sherlock has to swallow down a vocal exhalation; John’s movements are doing nothing to dampen his body’s ardour. He pushes himself off the floor, rolling them over again, legs straining at the ropes. He shifts himself downward a little in the process, conveniently lining up their burgeoning erections, which is not accidental in the slightest. He pulls at the bonds again, but it’s little more than an effort to disguise his need to rub himself against John, shameful – and unwelcome – as it is. He can’t help it; the sensation is exquisitely good, the very need to hide how much he wants to do it only adding to it. He shifts again, trying not to pant in John’s face and waits for John to reject it (him) again, say something angry, almost flinching away from it in advance.

But John closes his eyes and moans. “Oh, God,” he says, sounding miserably ashamed and aroused at once. “Fuck.”

Sherlock feels his lips tighten, and takes advantage of being in the upper position. “And I always thought you were the brave one,” he says contemptuously, still cut to the quick by John’s reactions to all of this. “You can’t even admit that you like this, when this happens. You're liking it right now. I can feel how much you like it.”

“God, shut up,” John says, but it comes out on a huff of breath, his eyes darkening with undisguised lust. He rolls them over again, putting himself on top, and the movement is pleasurable in the extreme, sending runners of pleasure curling through Sherlock’s nervous system.

He moans as he does it and Sherlock can’t quite help echoing it. His penis is harder than a steel rod in his trousers and John’s is nestled alongside it through their clothes, their bonds trapping them together all down their fronts. Sherlock rolls them again, trapping them up against one wall of the room, and the slight shift puts them into the perfect position and they both react vocally. “Ahhh!” Sherlock gasps. “John – ”

“God, yes, right there,” John responds, breath ragged, and with the wall there behind John to brace themselves again, Sherlock grinds their bodies together to the best of his ability, his movements limited by their forced proximity, but John is arching himself up to rub against him, his arms tightening around Sherlock’s back. The pleasure is there, half mental, in the thought of lying on top of John and rubbing themselves together this way. He feels John orgasm, feels the juddering shocks run the length of his body, teeth digging into his lower lip, eyes closed tightly.

When he feels the wet warmth pooling between them, Sherlock closes his eyes and comes with a shudder himself, his penis throbbing and twitching as it discharges itself in a wet rush that feels shamefully, indecently good. He just had an orgasm in his clothing, against John’s body, but it doesn’t matter. John caved at the end, admitted to wanting it, if only in that moment. He’ll likely deny it if they ever talk about it, which he’ll do his best to prevent from happening. Sherlock opens his eyes and looks at John, whose face is turned as far as possible to the side, eyes and face closed tightly. (He wants to kiss John nevertheless. He doesn’t.)

A shock of fluorescent light floods the room, and then measured footsteps (expensive, Italian, well-worn) cross over to them. “That,” Mycroft’s voice says from behind him, “is the most ridiculous position I have ever seen.”

(Relief.) This will be highly embarrassing; Sherlock does not doubt that his trousers are wet and he can feel that his penis is not yet entirely soft (nor is John’s), but at least they are being rescued, if the timing could not possibly be less convenient. He supposes they should both be grateful, but the exasperatingly poor timing of it makes Sherlock grit his teeth in frustration.

They are released; Mycroft’s knife is sharp and he is efficient with it, and while the lift of his eyebrow speaks volumes when he sees the state of their clothing, he mercifully chooses to refrain from commenting on it. For the time being, at any rate. They get to their feet and listen to Mycroft explain, as he escorts them from what turns out to be a disused classroom in a long-closed college just outside the city limits, how he has shut down the arms dealers and Global Blue and found them, in that order. Which he justified by the fact that an interrogation was required to find them, as Sherlock’s phone was confiscated in the abduction.

“How long were we there?” John asks as they emerge into a corridor above ground. It is dark outside.

Mycroft checks his phone. “It is currently thirteen past seven in the evening. You say that you were abducted on the way to the grocery store. Surveillance has you exiting the flat at ten twenty-one this morning. A longer time than I was hoping. My apologies. Let’s get you home.”

Outside, Sherlock watches John shove his hands into his pockets and go around to the far side of the car, where Sherlock knows already that he’ll sit as far from him as possible.

***

John follows Sherlock up the stairs in silence. He already knows that a fight is coming on and is steeling himself for it. He didn’t ask for that, damn it. Once inside the flat, he closes the door pre-emptively and turns around to see Sherlock stiffly pulling off his gloves, an aloof set to his shoulders and chin. Personally, John is starving but is too wary of the tension in the air to suggest ordering in or something, though neither of them has eaten breakfast. He’s seen how long Sherlock can go without food when he doesn’t feel like eating and he knows without asking that his suggestion will be seen as evasion and be rejected out of hand. Which isn’t entirely untrue.

He does not want to have the conversation he senses Sherlock is going to try to force any moment now. He’s felt it in the air between them, felt Sherlock deliberating whether or not to say it. He even thinks he’s seen it on Sherlock’s face, but so far he’s managed to dodge it. The fact is that it’s too late to talk about it. They either should have talked after the first time or never. Never would have been just fine. It would have gone away on its own, eventually. And obviously they never should have done it again. He knows it was he who started it, but it was a mistake. Talking about it won’t help and he’s still angry that Sherlock had to go and bring it up while they were tied up together, front-to-front, in the most humiliating position possible. Of all the times, honestly!

He knows he’s attracted to Sherlock, as he’s known all along, but being attracted doesn’t mean having to act on the urges of one’s body. If he doesn’t want this – to be physically involved with a bloke, dating a bloke, least of all Sherlock – then he doesn’t have to, and doesn’t feel it fair to be judged badly for just wanting to keep things as they are. Except that they’re not as they were, are they? John knows he’s screwed this up badly. Today could hardly be helped. He knows that Sherlock wasn’t trying to bring that about, either. Bodies just do what they do, that’s all. So what if they ended up getting off on it in the end. It was hardly a choice at that point.

John realises that the room is too quiet and chances a look over at Sherlock, who is laying his coat over the back of one of John’s chair and pointedly not looking at him, one hand on his hip.

“I see that we’re still not talking about this,” he says quietly.

John immediately feels his hackles rise. “I think that would be for the best, yeah,” he says, aware that his own shoulders are tensing up in response.

“‘For the best’?” Sherlock repeats, looking at him now, his eyes narrowed in disbelief. “How would refusing to discuss this make things any better? Are we simply going to be awkward about this for the rest of our association? Really, John. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

“All right, look,” John says, getting angry. “I didn’t want to talk about it because I thought it would be better for our friendship that way. We’re not dating. Neither of us wants that. The first time, it was just – ”

“Just what?” Sherlock asks, his mouth tightening dangerously. “If you’re about to say pity – ”

“I was going to say compassion,” John interrupts back. “We’re friends. Best friends. I wasn’t going to just – leave you like that – ”

“You were aroused,” Sherlock says, cutting him off again, eyes still narrowed. He takes a step closer, something both menacing and defiant in the movement. “You wanted that as much as I did. Don’t go trying to slant that as you having compassion on me.”

“It was compassion – ”

“‘Compassion’ was all but bursting out your trousers, then!” Sherlock is growing red in the face. “And what about the other two incidents? I suppose you’ll say something ridiculous about your body reacting entirely of its own accord, as though it would do the same if it had been a sack of parsnips you’d been bound to, but that wouldn’t explain the incident in the closet, unless having anything living and breathing in your lap would have produced the same reaction!”

“Are you implying that I’m an utter slag?” John demands, furious now.

“No!” Sherlock shouts back. “I’m implying the exact opposite – that you’re attracted to me, not just anything and everything. I’m implying that it wasn’t merely ‘circumstantial’, as you’d prefer to believe and apparently think I’m foolish enough to fall for. The very suggestion is completely absurd!”

“Oh, I’m absurd, am I?” John can feel the heat in his face. “Well, I don’t care what you want to believe. I’m not interested in you that way. I’m not gay!”

“I never said you were!” Sherlock’s fists are balled beside his thighs and somehow he looks even angrier at this.

“Telling a bloke he’s attracted to another bloke sounds like an accusation of that to me,” John retorts. “But what do I know?”

“For God’s sake, John, it’s not about accusations!” Sherlock expostulates. “This isn’t about general theories of sexuality – I’m talking about you and I, specifically. You are attracted to me. The only other possible interpretation of events is that you’re attracted to absolutely anyone, which you’re demonstrably not, so the only other logical alternative is that you are interested in that sort of thing with me.”

John grinds his teeth together so hard it jars his fillings. “Sherlock, there is a difference between a physical attraction and what a person actually wants. That’s what you’re not getting. Okay, fine – obviously it seems I’m somewhat attracted to you physically, on some level – but it doesn’t mean that I’m into you that way, or want that kind of thing with you. I don’t date men. Ever.”

“I’m not talking about ‘men’, in general,” Sherlock reiterates. “I’m – ”

“Fine, let me make this very clear, then,” John says, spelling it out through clenched teeth. “I’m not interested in you and I, specifically, having that sort of relationship. I don’t want you like that. I don’t want that at all.”

Sherlock inhales sharply, the bluster suddenly seeping from his shoulders. “What if I do?” he asks, suddenly much quieter.

“Don’t!” John says angrily. “Don’t want it!”

Sherlock goes stock still, the colour draining from his face. Then, without another word, he turns and goes swiftly down the hall and into his bedroom, closing the door behind him.

Good. John hated the entire discussion, start to finish. He throws his coat onto the sofa and stomps upstairs to his own bedroom, relieved that it’s over. He’s furious. Sherlock has no right to go telling him what he wants, what his body is or isn’t into. That’s no one’s call to make but his own. He mucked it up by initiating it in the closet there, or by admitting earlier on that he wanted it, but that was just physical weakness. It doesn’t change his decision. Sherlock said at the very start that he wasn’t looking for anything and John denied having expressed interest, and that was the arrangement from the beginning. He’s never done anything physical with another bloke before all of this mess, attracted or not. It’s a choice. And it’s not one for Sherlock to investigate, poke at, turn inside out, and ridicule. It’s not up to him to judge whether John is gay or straight or something in between, to tell him who he is or isn’t attracted to and what it means he’s supposed to want. That’s only up to John himself, full stop.

John paces around his room, reiterating the same argument over and over again, fuming and stewing in his anger. He peels off his jeans and disgusting underwear and pulls on a pair of pyjama pants, then throws himself down onto the bed and lies there, staring up at the ceiling. The anger is beginning to wear off. It’s been over an hour. Humiliation begins to seep up through the red mist of fury in his vision, revealing itself as the base of his anger all along. He’s been exposed. That’s the problem. Alone, with no one to observe him and form endless, annoying, too-perceptive deductions about him, John admits himself at last that this is the real problem. It was supposed to be a secret, damn it. His attraction. It was never supposed to come to light. A man should be allowed to keep a secret or two in his lifetime, he thinks. It doesn’t affect anyone if he secretly fancies something he knows he shouldn’t have or do or whatever. He’s the only one it affects.

Unbidden, he hears himself snapping at Sherlock again. Don’t! Don’t want it! The belated realisation that he might as well have been saying those words to himself occurs and he feels badly all of a sudden. It’s not Sherlock’s fault that John has an attraction issue. It’s also not Sherlock’s fault that he sees through everything and everyone, as John’s always maintained. Perhaps it’s not even his fault that he’s never learned any tact or when to keep his annoying observations to himself. Well: perhaps that’s not entirely true. Sherlock has had occasions of tact over the years, after all. Few and far between, yet there, where they never had been before. John likes to think that he had a hand in that.

Sherlock.

John gets off the bed and goes over to the window. It’s dark now and a crescent moon is hanging over London’s spires. He thinks of Sherlock’s face after he said what he’d said, the way he’d just turned and gone into his bedroom, and suddenly John feels much worse. He’d been reacting defensively, too preoccupied with what he is or isn’t to spare a single thought for Sherlock’s feelings. And he cannot deny to himself that Sherlock looked unarguably hurt. Stricken, even. John thinks a little more and grudgingly acknowledges to himself that Sherlock was already hurt even before the conversation started. That rigidity in his shoulders, his entire bearing – he’d known the conversation wasn’t going to go well. Yet he’d started it anyway, perhaps thinking it would clear the air, getting everything out into the open and sorted. But he hadn’t thought that it would end particularly well, evidently. Yet he’d done it anyway and it had gone even worse than he’d anticipated.

He hears their voices in his head again: I don’t want you like that. I don’t want that at all. And Sherlock’s quiet question back, hardly rhetorical: What if I do? Oh God, John thinks drearily. I’m the most selfish bastard in the world. Here Sherlock has just gone and said it, said that he’s interested in that, that he wants that, with them, and John rejected it as though angry that Sherlock had even had the temerity to be attracted to him in the first place. What a graceless reaction. What a cruel reaction. Sherlock has probably never in his life told someone he was interested in them, in having a physical and/or emotional (John really has no idea about that bit) with them, and now that he has, opening up to his best friend and possibly the only person in the world that he trusts at all, and John has lashed out in response, so protective of his own status of orientation. Whatever that means.

He thinks of what Sherlock kept saying, that it wasn’t about general principles of sexuality, but about them, specifically, and knows now why he said it. It’s true: they’re different. John doesn’t normally get off with other men, but he has with Sherlock – three times now. And – moment of truth, he thinks, looking at his breath frosting on the window pane – he liked it. He liked it a lot. He’s wanked thinking about the first time in the factory basically every day since then. The thought of Sherlock’s achingly gorgeous nude form, criss-crossed with ropes, his cock flushed and jutting outward like a bowsprit, has the power to stop him in his tracks and fill his mouth with saliva no matter how preoccupied or busy he is. And the memory of Sherlock’s mouth around him, filled with him, sucking him down – John’s face prickles with heat at the mere memory. Hell, yes, his body would love to do that again.

But the rest of him? What would that mean, if they just – start doing that, all the time? What would it mean for their friendship? Would they ever talk about it? Would they just stay flatmates and best friends who occasionally suck each other off? Or would it mean more? Kissing and holding hands and staying over in each other’s beds? An image comes to his mind unbidden of the two of them walking down a street one night, after a case, maybe, laughing about nothing in particular, then Sherlock turning and reaching for him, pulling him into his arms. John shivers. His eyes refocus outward, looking at the slip of moon in the sky hanging between two pale clouds, and thinks of Sherlock, alone in his room and thinking of John, probably, wondering if they’re even still friends, stinging over John’s unkind, thoughtless words. John’s heart gives a pang of remorse and suddenly he knows what he wants, and what a colossal idiot he’s been. For God’s sake. Of course he wants all that. He’s just never even let himself entertain the concept, so stubbornly insistent on thinking of himself as straight and nothing else, and additionally so sure that it would never work romantically with someone like Sherlock. That Sherlock was too immersed in his work, too thoughtless – yet everything he’s done since his return from the so-called dead has been remarkably selfless. He’s proved himself over and over again, and John knows it – knows he need never doubt Sherlock or what Sherlock would do for him. They’d got through all that, his return, John’s marriage, the whole debacle with Mary and then Moriarty. Sherlock had stuck by him throughout all of it, at considerable risk and cost to himself. He’d got himself shot in the heart, for God’s sake – by John’s wife, no less. And had still geared every choice he’d made around John’s safety, John’s happiness.

And now he’s finally come out and said it, that he wants that sort of relationship with John, for them to be physically intimate, at the very least. With a rush of shame and no small amount of self-loathing, John knows that some part of him not only wants that, too, but has always wanted it. He’s lied to both of them, and worse, lied to the person who’s saved his life repeatedly, and demonstrably loved him more than anyone else in the world. John still has no idea if Sherlock even knows what it means to love someone in the way this is leading, at least if John stops being such an arse about it all, but he owes it to them both to give Sherlock a chance that way. To give them a chance. He needs to go down and apologise now, and tell Sherlock that he’s been completely stupid and that he does want all that after all. That he’ll deal with his hang-ups regarding his sexuality, that he’ll work it out somehow. That he was lying to both of them and that Sherlock was completely right and that this absolutely can happen, if Sherlock can forgive him for being so nasty about it all and for refusing it for so long.

He turns from the window and starts for the door, but stops: Sherlock’s footsteps are just starting up the foot the stairs. John’s heart leaps into his throat. Maybe Sherlock has come to berate him for the whole thing, tell him what a stupid, selfish jerk he is, or that he’s leaving, or that he doesn’t want John working with him any more, that they can’t be friends any more – Oh no, John thinks desperately. Please, no. I’ll apologise. I’ll say anything. Whatever it takes.

He’s rooted to the floor, eyes fixed on the door when Sherlock reaches the top of the stairs and knocks lightly on his door. “Come in,” John says, heart beating too quickly.

Sherlock opens the door only far enough to ease himself through it. He’s changed out of his (presumably equally dirty) clothes and into his pyjama pants and his old blue dressing gown. He closes the door and puts his hands in the pocket of the gown, looking downward, not meeting John’s eyes. “John,” he says quickly, sounding apprehensive (or nervous? John can’t be sure), “I just came to – apologise. I shouldn’t have said all that, earlier.”

“It’s fine,” John says, relief washing over him like a wave. “Really – it’s all fine.”

Sherlock’s mouth twitches, teeth pulling at his lower lip from within his mouth. “It’s not for me to tell you what you want. I know that. And – I accept it. If you say you don’t want that, fine. It’s your decision. I wasn’t trying to force you to want it, I just thought – but – I just – I want us to go on being friends, at least; that’s more important to me than – than what I want, or any of the rest of it. I’m sorry.”

“Sherlock,” John says, and is surprised to hear his voice coming out a bit unsteady. “Stop. I’m the one who should be apologising. All that might be true – but you were right. I, er, I am attracted to you. Always have been, if you want the truth. I just – I never thought I was – ”

Sherlock looks up then, eyes wary, but looking right at him. “You aren’t,” he says. “Not usually, at least. I never thought of you that way. How could I, with your endless parade of women?”

John feels the corner of his mouth tug into a half-smile. “Until Mary, at least.”

“Until Mary,” Sherlock agrees. “And after that, you just didn’t date anyone any more, I suppose.”

John looks at him, bathed in streetlight, and thinks again how utterly, horribly, unfairly gorgeous he is. “We could change that,” he proposes carefully.

Sherlock misunderstands, his brows pulling together into a frown instinctively. “If you must; I suppose that’s your – ”

“No,” John interrupts. “I meant you and me.”

Shock flashes over Sherlock’s face, his eyes riveting onto John’s in a nanosecond. “What?” he demands. He still looks suspicious, as though he thinks John is either exaggerating to humour him, or possibly even making a cruel joke.

“You and me,” John repeats. “Dating. Being together. Having that kind of relationship.” Sherlock looks stunned. “I mean it,” John presses. “I’ve just been – well – getting my head around all of this and you’re right, you’re completely right – I am attracted to you, I do want this, and I’m a complete and utter idiot for ever having thought otherwise.”

Sherlock gesticulates wildly, though not enough so that John doesn’t catch his long fingers trembling. “But you don’t have to date me! I mean, we could just go on – ” He stops, crossing his arms over his chest in a gesture likely meant to look defiant but it comes off looking more like self-defense.

John feels badly all over again, knowing that he’s hurt Sherlock. He goes over, stopping in front of Sherlock, who is looking like a cornered animal at the moment. “I’m sorry,” he says gruffly. “So sorry, Sherlock. I mean it. I want this. I want you. It was never really about not wanting you; it was me not being able to come to terms with the fact that you were right – no, not even that; it was about me just not having figured myself out. I’ve, er, managed to get my head out of my arse now, and I’m saying it: I want this, with you.”

Sherlock takes in a deep breath through his mouth and expels it unevenly, his shoulders rising, arms tightening around himself. “Are you certain?” he asks, sounding anything but, himself.

John feels a smile creep across his face unbidden. He wants to put his arms around Sherlock. “Very,” he says.

Sherlock’s lips press together for a long moment and he looks slightly defensive. “I don’t know what to do now.”

John’s smile hasn’t gone anywhere. “It’s all right,” he says. “I do.” He puts his hands on Sherlock’s shoulders, exactly like he imagined, and with Sherlock’s arms there in the way, has to stretch up to kiss him. It’s a very modest first kiss, just a brief press of his lips to Sherlock’s, his hands resting gently on Sherlock’s elbows. Sherlock doesn’t respond particularly, though his mouth is soft and unresisting, and John can feel a certain receptiveness in Sherlock to this, almost more instinctively than physically. He gets closer and kisses him again and doesn’t pull away as far after, and on the third kiss, Sherlock’s lips tighten under his, pressing back. His arms unfold and John steps into the space partway through the fourth kiss, transferring his hands to Sherlock’s slender waist. Sherlock’s hands come up to hold John’s elbows loosely and John opens his lips, and when their tongues touch, Sherlock inhales sharply and pulls back, his eyes wide.

“John – ” He withdraws his hands as though John’s skin has burnt him. His expression is somewhere between angry and distraught; John can’t tell which it is. “Are you sure you want this? It’s not just – because you don’t have to – ” He stops, seemingly unable to find the right words.

John blinks for a moment. That’s the proof right there that Sherlock does want the emotional aspect, and the intimacy is making him panic. If Sherlock has never actually kissed someone he had feelings for before, the difference is – well, incomparable, in his own opinion, at least. And he doesn’t want it if he’s not certain that John does. (And he does, God help him. He wants it badly.) “Yes,” he says, keeping his voice absolutely unwavering. “Positive. One hundred percent. I want you. And I definitely want to kiss you.” Sherlock doesn’t look reassured, somehow. “Come on,” John says, his voice coming over a bit rough. “I said it, didn’t I? I was a dick. I lied. I absolutely want this, want you. I’m so attracted to you that it scared me, all right? I want you.”

Sherlock nods. “Okay,” he says, already moving closer again and John puts his arms around Sherlock’s middle and this time the kiss is deep and startlingly passionate right from the outset.

John hears himself make a sound of distinct satisfaction through his nose as their tongues meet, mouths melding together. He’d never known Sherlock could be like this. (Why did he never give him credit for having a heart, after everything he’s done for John? Self-reproach.) John holds him closer. It’s extremely arousing and he can feel himself starting to firm up in his pyjama pants. They kiss for several long minutes before John pulls back a bit. “Is this what you wanted?” he asks, his voice hovering between speech and whisper.

Sherlock nods, a hand curled around the back of John’s neck. “For a long time,” he admits. “I didn’t just want the – physical component. I wanted you. I wanted all of it. With you.”

It’s so open and direct that for a moment John is actually afraid to trust himself to speak. He swallows hard and blinks once or twice. “You can have me,” he says spontaneously, and Sherlock nearly cuts off his words, his mouth on John’s as though trying to devour his very words. Yeah, John thinks dizzily, I mean that. As long as I get to have him, too.

Whatever barriers were holding Sherlock back at first seem to have crumbled; he doesn’t seem reluctant to hold himself back from any part of this, though; he’s pressing himself up against John, a bulge clearly evident in his own thin pyjama pants. John’s hands slide down over the blue silk to his arse and squeeze and Sherlock moans a bit, his eyes closing. One hand in Sherlock’s curls, John gets a hand between them to untie Sherlock’s dressing gown and together they get Sherlock out of it. John pulls the well-worn t-shirt off over his head next, and Sherlock hauls John’s off him in turn. They go back to kissing, chests bare, bodies pressed together, and John thinks, Yes. I sure as hell did want this. Who was I trying to fool? It didn’t work on either of us. And then, as his hands find their way to the firm curves of Sherlock’s arse, a groan escaping from his mouth as he does so, Damned good thing.

Sherlock’s body is arching against his, trying to get closer, his hands down the back of John’s pyjama pants, his large hands gripping John’s arse in a way that no lighter female touch has ever done, and it’s good. He tugs Sherlock’s pants down past his hips and lets them slither to the floor and gets himself out of his own. When they come back together, it’s John’s turn to shiver at the incredible intimacy of feeling the hardness of Sherlock’s cock against his, the warmth of his thighs and stomach and chest all touching John’s at once as they kiss and kiss, hands roaming and tugging and caressing. Sherlock moves them toward the bed and they stumble onto it, Sherlock hauling John onto himself and it’s so easy like this, rubbing up against each other, rolling over and over on John’s bed. (He’s had fantasies of having Sherlock in his bed, but not a one of them were in the same league as this at all.) They’re both moaning, bucking together, and suddenly it’s not enough to just let it happen again – John wants to make it better for Sherlock than that, show him how much he really does want this.

He rolls them again so that Sherlock is on his back, then slides downward, mouthing a path down Sherlock’s chest, licking at his nipples and relishing the sounds Sherlock makes in response. He goes lower, thinking deliriously that everything he has ever secretly desired, secretly wanted to try, is now on the table. He doesn’t have to hold back, as long as Sherlock likes it, and it sounds very much as though he does. When he arrives at Sherlock’s cock, however, Sherlock goes still.

“Wh – what – John, you don’t need to – ”

John looks up at him, settling into the space between Sherlock’s thighs. “And if I want to?” he asks, aiming for a light tone. “Can I, then?”

“But you don’t want – ” Sherlock stops, gasping, as John licks at the head of his penis. “J – ” His fingers are scrabbling in John’s hair, all ten of them.

John grins. “Stop complaining. I want to.” Sherlock bites his lip, not precisely consenting, but not protesting, either. A faint rosy stain has crept up his neck and into his face. “So – ?” John asks, with another accompanying lick. “Can I?”

Sherlock moans, his forehead contracting in something resembling agony, but he nods once, then gasps and lets his head fall back as John’s mouth engulfs him.

John takes in as much of Sherlock’s cock as he can handle at once and does his best to reproduce the things he’s most liked, himself. He’s immediately surprised to discover how much more he likes doing this than going down on a woman. He’d really thought that having a cock in his mouth was about the limit, but it’s definitely worth it for the way Sherlock is reacting alone. Every ounce of Sherlock’s pleasure is feeding directly back into his own arousal – he loves feeling Sherlock buck and writhe because of him. The time in the factory, Sherlock’s very skin had seemed to leap into life under John’s hands and it’s the same time now, as though only John has the power to make his body react this way. Sherlock is moaning uncontrollably and John’s cock is throbbing in response. He lifts off, still holding Sherlock’s cock with his left hand, and says, wanting to hear it in words, “You like this?”

Sherlock swallows and nods, looking down the length of his torso at John. “You’re – extraordinary,” he says hoarsely, and John’s ego trebles in size.

“I just want you to feel good,” he says, then adds in all honesty, “I love doing this.”

“But what about you?” Sherlock asks, his breathing shallow and fast.

“We’ll get to me,” John promises, and gets back to what he was doing. Sherlock shuts up immediately, his cock harder than ever and beginning to leak wetly. After a moment John raises his face again. “Can you reach the drawer of the night table?” he asks.

Sherlock doesn’t ask; either he’s already deduced it or is too far gone to care. Reaching blindly back, he fumbles in said drawer and finds what John wants and gives him the slim tube, trembling as John passes the brief interlude licking his balls.

He still doesn’t ask when John uncaps the tube, extracts a generous amount of lubricant, and then starts massaging gently at Sherlock’s arse, the tip of his finger slipping into his hole. He moans, though, and John decides to check in. “Okay?” He asks, lips still on Sherlock’s cock. He gets a fervent agreement, completely non-verbal, and he smiles to himself. He can only admit in the privacy of his own thoughts how much he’s secretly thought of doing this, of getting Sherlock’s cock in his mouth, his hands and mouth all over his body, even inside him like this. He’s at two fingers now, letting Sherlock’s body adjust to the stretch before beginning to twist and thrust his fingers into him. He builds up a rhythm between his mouth and his hand, feels Sherlock’s every tiny reaction as John sucks him and fucks him with his fingers.

His thighs are trembling, his belly hollowing and expanding as he rises off the sheets to meet the onslaught of John’s fingers. His entire body is bathed with sweat, his skin gleaming in the lamplight, thrumming with taut, unspent pleasure, his breath ragged. “John!” he gasps out. “Please – ”

“Yeah?” John’s own breath is little more than a groan. He’s so hard it hurts, just seeing Sherlock like this… “What do you need?”

“More,” Sherlock says, and John’s not sure whether it’s a command or a plea. Plea, he decides a moment later when Sherlock adds, “Please, God, don’t – just – I need you - inside – ”

That’s clear enough. John’s mouth flood with saliva and his cock throbs. He thinks Sherlock might actually explode with frustration if he asks if he’s sure, so he makes a sound of agreement and pushes his thighs up and back even further and gets himself good and slick before lining up the head of his cock right at Sherlock’s entrance. “You have to tell me if it hurts,” he warns, and Sherlock nods, head craning forward, watching between their bodies. John is shaking for wanting it. He pushes inside a little, just an inch or so. It’s tight, tighter than anyone he’s been with (he’s never done it this way and now can’t believe he put it off until now), and Sherlock’s body stiffens around him. He stops. “Is it too – ”

Sherlock’s eyes are closed, but he takes a deep breath, then another, then shakes his head. “Keep going.”

Trust Sherlock to be prodigious at even this, John thinks. The bit of inward sarcasm helps him, along with the teeth digging into his lip, not to come with only the head of his dick in Sherlock. He wants very badly to do this properly, have a glorious orgasm within Sherlock. He was perfectly prepared to focus on Sherlock alone, on taking proper care of him through their first acknowledged, agreed-upon, actively-wanted time having sex. But if Sherlock wants his cock, then John is hardly about to deny him. Or himself. It feels better than anything he’s felt in his life. That’s a fact. And if that makes him gay, then so be it. He closes his eyes, pushes in another inch or so, and feels a shudder move through his body as he strains to keep it together for Sherlock’s sake. And accepts it, the truth of what he’s just thought. Fine. If it means being with Sherlock, getting to do this with Sherlock, then he’ll be gay or bisexual or whatever people want to call him. Right here and now, he couldn’t possibly care less. This is all that matters, his cock slowly opening Sherlock’s body from within – and Sherlock’s face, his open, vulnerable, wary, trusting, pained, incandescent face. The pang John felt earlier returns tenfold, a hundredfold, and suddenly he thinks that he’s even more of an idiot than he thought earlier. God damn it. He loves Sherlock. He always has. He just couldn’t see it for what it was.

“Move,” Sherlock breathes, a line of sweat running down his brow.

“Is it – ”

“It’s good,” Sherlock says on a heavy exhale, and reaches for John’s tricep and digs in. “Come on, John. Give it to me.”

John’s breath escapes his lungs in a rush and before he can stop himself, his hips scoot forward and press themselves into the backs of Sherlock’s thighs, his cock buried root-deep in Sherlock’s body. They’re joined, completely joined in the most intimate possible way. And it feels amazing in every way that it could. John gasps again and finds Sherlock’s eyes, and sees everything he’s thinking and feeling there. The feeling is almost overwhelming. “Come here,” he says, his voice shaking with the effort of holding it together, keeping himself from orgasm.

Sherlock allows himself to be pulled up almost into a sitting position and they kiss violently and John starts to thrust into him and it feels like nothing he’s even dreamed of before. It feels like the most overly-romanticised notions of sex ever conceived, but real and perfect and the pleasure of it, the intensity of the connection, is rolling through his entire being, body and mind and heart. Sherlock is his and was always meant to be his, and John knows that any argument he’s ever tried to make about not belonging to Sherlock in turn is the stupidest notion he’s ever come up with. This is it, the real thing. Sherlock is trembling and panting in his arms, his cock harder than steel against John’s stomach and wet. John can’t speak, can’t even kiss any more; he’s panting against Sherlock’s chin and fucking him hard, hard, hard, fuck, and then his hand is on Sherlock’s cock, jerking it and almost the instant he touches it Sherlock comes, thrusting up into John’s fist, his arms locked around John’s back, breath gusting onto John’s neck as he buries his face there, riding out the orgasm. The sounds he’s making are between a wail and a shout, his cock convulsing and spurting uncontrollably, and feeling it, feeling Sherlock like this – John tips them so that Sherlock is on his back again and goes utterly wild, hips slapping against Sherlock’s thighs, his toes digging into the sheets for traction, absolutely reaming Sherlock with all of his strength and then he comes, the wave of it seeming to start in his feet and explode through him like a bomb in a subterranean train tunnel. He comes so hard he thinks he actually loses consciousness for a few seconds, a vague pounding in his brain as his vision goes black and his balls wring themselves out utterly in Sherlock’s body.

When he comes back to himself, he’s lying on top of Sherlock, his face against Sherlock’s left shoulder. There’s drool between his mouth and Sherlock’s skin and he’d be embarrassed if he could move or think of anything but the incredible satisfaction he’s feeling, and Sherlock, whose arms are wrapped around his back. Sherlock. John lifts his face and wipes his mouth and Sherlock’s shoulder and looks down at Sherlock, gauging him. “All right?” he asks, his throat feeling raw. (Was he shouting?)

Sherlock nods, his arms loosening a little to run his hands down over John’s back and arse and sides, into his hair, and John kisses him, slowly and wonderfully and he feels, for the first time in his life, complete. After, Sherlock raises his eyebrows in question. “Was that all right?” he asks.

John’s breath bursts out his nose in a surprised almost-laugh. “Are you mad?” he asks, the rhetorical question gentle. “That was amazing. That was phenomenal. That was life-altering.”

“Oh?” Sherlock’s slight reticence has disappeared in the haze of the afterglow surrounding them. “How is it going to alter your life?”

John kisses his chin, then his cheeks and forehead and eyebrows and nose, speaking as he goes. “Well, for one thing, I foresee a lot more of this,” he says. “I foresee sleeping downstairs from now on, or you sleeping up here. I don’t care.”

“My bed is bigger,” Sherlock offers.

“Downstairs it is.” John kisses his mouth again, but Sherlock makes a small sound and breaks away too soon. “What?”

“You’re positive?” Sherlock asks, one last time. “I know this was – everything you said it was – but what does it mean, going forward? I need to know this, so that I know what to expect. What’s permitted. What isn’t.”

John smiles down at him. “The last one,” he says. “Nothing. Nothing isn’t. You have me now, and I mean that in every single way possible.”

Sherlock’s eyes gleam. “You may come to regret that, if you mean it,” he warns.

“Oh?” John arches an eyebrow. “Have you got quite a lot in store for me, then?”

Sherlock shrugs, but the smile is still playing around his mouth. “Just a few things,” he says. “For starters, we’ll need an empty storage facility and some rope…”

For a second John just blinks. Then he grins. “I’m not going to be bored, am I?”

“No,” Sherlock tells him smugly. “We aren’t.”

*