Sherlock avoided him for two days. John could tell something was wrong - this wasn't the typical post-case letdown. Typically Sherlock would be wired and hyperactive for the first twenty-four hours, then sleep for at least twelve, then boredom would gradually set in after that. This was different. Sherlock was withdrawn from the minute they got back to the flat, shying away from actual conversation when at all possible and responding in monosyllables when it wasn't. John would have thought he was sick, if Sherlock were the type to ever get sick. Body is merely a vessel and all that, John thought to himself as he made breakfast on the third day of Sherlock's moping. Load of bollocks.
Except Sherlock wasn't acting bored, either. It was something in between - not hiding in his room, but not communicating like a damned human being. Mostly sitting in his armchair glaring at his (not John's, for some reason) laptop and shooting John dark looks when he thought John wasn't watching him.
It took an embarrassingly long time to catch on. John prided himself on his ability to hit it off with women - Sherlock may have been an expert in deduction, but John was an expert in identifying attraction and arousal. And so when it finally hit him that Sherlock was embarrassed, was attracted to him, it only took a moment for all the pieces to fit together. The furtive glances, the much longer stares when he thought John wasn't looking, the tension in his lean frame, the unwillingness to exchange "good morning"s over morning tea like a civilized person - when John added it all up, the answer was obvious. Sherlock was crushing on him, hard. And didn't want to be.
The idea didn't bother John as much as it should have. He had long since stopped wrestling with the "straight" label; John finally acknowledged he was "straight" with an asterisk, and in fine print the asterisk specifically noted "plus Sherlock Holmes." He hadn't ever seen the point of pushing it - it wasn't like Sherlock had ever shown signs of being particularly receptive to sexual overtures from either gender - but it was just something there and John had learned to just shrug and work around it. Seeing Sherlock all worked up sparked something, though, and it was getting harder to ignore.
John suddenly realized he had made breakfast for two - he hadn't been intending to, but his thoughts had gotten away from him. "Sherlock, come eat," he called over his shoulder.
"Not hungry," Sherlock said.
"Yes you are - you've had nothing but half a cup of tea for the last two days." John cleared enough space for both of them at the kitchen table and set down their plates. "Time to eat like a civilized person."
Sherlock shifted in his armchair, but didn't look up from his book. "I'm rarely civilized," he countered.
"I see that. But you're also, what, ten stone? Eleven? I could practically lift you one-handed the other day. You need to put on some muscle."
Sherlock turned a page. "My muscles are perfectly adequate, thank you very much. I'm not hungry."
Oh for God's sake . . . John stomped over to Sherlock's chair with a bit more force than he intended and glared down at him. "Stand. Up."
"Now, or I kick your injured ankle."
Sherlock finally looked up, irritation pouring off of him. His gaze swept over John's rigid stance and stony glare. He must have been convinced that John was serious, though, because he unfolded himself from the armchair and stood sullenly. "I'm standing. Now are you happy?"
John circled around behind him and wrapped his arms around Sherlock's waist without warning, locking his grip against his opposite wrists. "Shake me off."
Sherlock froze. "I -"
"You say your muscles are perfectly adequate; I say you're starving yourself and you're going to get yourself killed one of these days because you're not taking in enough calories to keep your body going. Prove you're right - shake me off. If you can't, you're sitting at the damn table like a human being and eating breakfast with me."
John knew it wasn't really a fair assessment of Sherlock's strength - the trick was usually to avoid getting caught in the first place - but it was as good an excuse as any to get his hands on Sherlock and see how the detective would react. So far, Sherlock was just standing there dumbly.
Except not - there was something different about his posture, the stiffness in his shoulders. Sherlock was reacting to John's proximity and really, really didn't want John to notice. It was a heady feeling, disrupting Sherlock Holmes's orderly belief in his abilities, and John was tempted to take it further. In fact . . .
"Are you going to even try, or just sulk?"
Sherlock twisted his top half around so he could glare at John directly, but there was a vulnerability behind all the heat. "If I sit and eat some damned toast with you, will you leave me alone?"
"To the kitchen, then." John let go, but he kept a firm hand on the small of Sherlock's back as he guided him to the table. Not that Sherlock needed it, but if John's suspicion was right, Sherlock was already frazzled. More physical contact could only make this better.
They ate in silence, for the most part. John wordlessly bullied Sherlock into finishing two pieces of toast and three slices of bacon, which was two and a half more slices than he expected. It was actually rather exciting, knowing he had the upper hand for once - Sherlock's magnificent brain apparently only worked at half capacity when John was favoring him with his best "Captain Watson" army glare. John filed the observation away for future reference.
"I have studied baritsu," Sherlock announced as he set his fork back down on his now-empty plate. "It's not like I'm completely helpless."
John snorted. "Leave it to you to study an out-of-date made-up martial art."
"It's not out-of-date - it's based on the principles of jujitsu and modified for an urban environment."
"An urban environment from a hundred years ago, Sherlock. It's based around swordfighting with your walking stick. Which, of the two of us, is more likely to be carrying the cane?"
Sherlock glared at him out of the corner of his eye. "You hardly use it anymore, either."
"Not the point." John set down his own fork and stood up. "Come on - give me a demonstration."
Sherlock blinked at him.
John settled a firm hand on Sherlock's shoulder and nudged him to his feet. "Show me how baritsu works. Come on; back in the living room." He kept his palm against Sherlock's shoulderblade to hold him off-balance (emotionally, if not physically) and walked him back through the doorway. Now he just needed something - ah. John scooped up the remote for the telly and palmed it.
"This is my knife. You're walking down the street and I come at you from an alley. That's something baritsu should have prepared you for, no?"
Sherlock nodded slowly.
"Good. Show me." John backed off a few steps, flipped the remote around once or twice to remind himself of its weight, and attacked.
Sherlock wasn't bad, really. He obviously had studied something, useless as that particular martial art might have been. But John had seen enough combat in Afghanistan to know all the usual reactions and most of the unusual ones. Sherlock had barely begun reaching for John's wrist to change his momentum and shift himself out of the way when John altered his angle, twitching his arm out of Sherlock's grasp at the last second and slamming into Sherlock's back with his good shoulder. Five seconds later he had Sherlock pinned face-first against the wall.
Sherlock opened his mouth and wordlessly closed it again. John reflexively took stock of their relative positions - his chest was pressing Sherlock's into the wallpaper, he had both of Sherlock's wrists pinned against his lower back with one hand and had the makeshift "knife" pressed against the side of Sherlock's neck with the other. Nothing which should have explained Sherlock's quick, shallow breathing (too quick to be a result of their brief physical exertion). And nothing painful enough to explain the tense arch to Sherlock's spine. Only -
John released his flatmate's wrists and stepped back a tiny bit. Just enough for Sherlock to turn around but not enough to get out of his personal space. And Sherlock was very clearly responding to John's nearness. It didn't take a consulting detective to notice the flush on his cheeks and the lost look in his eyes when he finally rotated and looked John full in the face.
"I -" Sherlock licked his lips. "I should try to attack you. For a counterpoint."
"Fine. Absolutely." John offered the remote to Sherlock and retreated further. "This will be - hell, I'll turn my back and close my eyes so I can't see where you're coming from." He stepped to the open area in the middle of the room and followed suit, waiting loosely for Sherlock's attempt -
Again, it was passable but nothing impressive. Sherlock had all his angles right, had eight inches' advantage over him, but John had actual experience with this. And John wasn't the one whose skin started twitching every time they made contact with each other. Sherlock could move nearly silently when he wanted to, but "nearly" wasn't the same as "completely" - John sensed the attack a moment before Sherlock's "knife" made contact with his shoulder.
John ducked out of the way and reached up to catch Sherlock's wrist. One small step backward and a lurch to the side - completely automatic, even despite John being out of practice - and Sherlock was spun around to fall flat on his back on the rug with John coming down on top of him. John managed to control their fall so neither of them got hurt, but he didn't bother to shift his weight off his flatmate. By the time they hit the ground, John was holding the remote once more.
They ended up on the floor, both somewhat more out of breath than they should have been. John was over Sherlock's thighs, knees bracketing either side of the detective's slim hips and toes touching the ground between his legs. It put the bulk of John's weight flat on Sherlock's upper thighs, preventing Sherlock from so much as shifting his hips in any direction. The rest of John's weight was balanced on his right arm, his fingers circling Sherlock's wrists and pinning his hands to the rug up above his head. John still had the remote in his left - his dominant - hand, so he brought it to Sherlock's throat and traced it gently. They both shivered.
God, that look in Sherlock's eyes was glorious. "Got anything you want to say?" John asked pointedly.
Sherlock licked his lips. "I . . . admit my baritsu wasn't as useful in this situation?"
John pressed a bit with the remote - not enough to actually hurt, but hard enough to underscore what the damage could have been if it had been a real knife. "No, I don't think that's what you want to confess. Something else."
Sherlock's eyes widened, and he searched John's face for a long moment. John kept his expression impassive - Sherlock could read him anyway, of course, but this time it was up to Sherlock to admit his emotions -
"I admit you're better at physical altercation than I am."
"I -" Sherlock closed his eyes and swallowed. "Why are you doing this, John?" he whispered.
John leaned so close his face was only inches from his flatmate's. "I want to hear you say it," he whispered back. "You pride yourself on observation - but recognizing this particular reaction is my specialty, I'll have you know. I could smell it on you two days ago. You like this. Admit it."
Sherlock swallowed again, tilting his head back and momentarily exposing the long column of his neck. "I . . . find you attractive."
John stroked the line of his carotid with the remote again. "When, Sherlock? When do you find me attractive?"
"When you do this. When you're drawing on the skills you learned as a soldier. When you -" he broke off and opened his eyes, searching John's face. "When you have me off-kilter."
John shifted a bit lower and deliberately undulated his body against the erection he could feel pressing into his stomach. Sherlock's eyes snapped closed again and he bit back a curse. John did it again, more slowly. "You want more," he stated.
"I - God, yes."
"You want me to pin you down, just like this, and fuck you."
Sherlock responded with a dazed look and a strangled whimper.
"I'm going to make you come, right here. I'm going to keep you flat on your back and begging for me to finish it, and then you're going to come so hard you see stars. Tell me I'm wrong."
It's not like Sherlock had never said the word before - he could play any role he needed to during a case, and his vocabulary certainly matched that range - but something about hearing it in that helpless growl made John's spine tingle. He growled right back and reached up toward the coffee table, feeling around for -
There. And bless Sherlock for never actually putting away the detritus of his former experiments. John exchanged the telly remote for the roll of packaging tape.
Sherlock's breath hitched. "John?"
But John was already mapping out exactly what he wanted to do. He set the tape down on the floor, then separated Sherlock's hands and shoved them one at a time behind the small of his back. The combination of long bones and the detective's too-thin frame left John easy access to his wrists as they emerged on the opposite sides of his body. John lay his own weight over his flatmate's torso, pressing Sherlock's arms helplessly into the floor, and tore off a long streamer of tape. It was hard without being able to see what he was doing, but a two minutes later he had Sherlock's shirt cuffs taped securely to his opposite elbows. Sherlock could squirm, a bit, but his dress shirt had become a makeshift straightjacket.
John risked a look back up at his flatmate's face. The naked lust there hit him like a sledgehammer to the chest. Sherlock's pupils were dilated wide, his cheeks were already flushed, and his breathing was just shy of what John would have otherwise called hyperventilating. He looked thoroughly debauched and John hadn't even gotten properly started yet. Fuck.
"God, you look so beautiful." John sat back on his heels, letting his weight press down on Sherlock's thighs, and took a moment to just look. Shame he had to leave Sherlock's shirt on to keep the tape structurally functional - Sherlock had looked absolutely magnificent half-naked at Buckingham Palace -
Yeah, fuck that. John dropped both his hands to Sherlock's chest, one over each nipple, and kneaded firmly. Sherlock's mouth dropped open and John was sure his eyes would be rolling back in his head if he hadn't had them closed already. John let his hands trail downward, over Sherlock's too-prominent ribs and over the hard lines of his stomach, until he reached the zipper of Sherlock's trousers.
"Last chance to tell me no," he said softly.
Sherlock tilted his hips fractionally upward.
"Or to tell me yes," John added. "I'm going to hold you here, right on the edge like this, until you tell me exactly what you're thinking right now. And it better be thoroughly dirty."
"Not good enough," John said as casually as he could. Christ, this is fun. He could stay like this all day, just to watch Sherlock squirm. John traced one finger lightly down the line of Sherlock's erection, which was straining tightly against his trousers. "Use words, Sherlock."
"Touch me," Sherlock gasped. "I'm thinking about you pulling open my trousers and plunging your hand inside and bloody fucking touching me already. God, I'm so hard - is that what you want to hear? I'm desperate for you. I haven't been able to sleep for two days because every time I close my eyes, I can see your face as you broke that bloke's arm and it shouldn't have been so arousing but it was. You're so unassuming and mild most of the time and it's like something inside you is just lurking, waiting to come out and absolutely dominate anything in your path. And I know you're not gay, but I can't help it if I get hard every time I see you with that look in your eye. I'm so fucking hard right now, John, and this bloody well better not be a game of 'let's see what we can make Sherlock confess while he's out of his mind with lust,' I swear -"
John flicked open the button and dragged down his flatmate's zipper and Sherlock's words died off to nothing. Christ, he was impressive . . . John palmed the rock-hard bulge in Sherlock's pants. He felt like there ought to be a dramatic soundtrack for this, some "major relationship-changing moment" song playing in the background, but all he could hear was the sound of their mingled breathing and the faint street noises below. And then a strangled groan from Sherlock.
It was the groan that kicked him back into action. John shifted his weight lower and tugged Sherlock's trousers and pants down a bit. Sherlock had his back arched - no help for it, with his arms tied behind him - but the arch just emphasized the angular lines of his hipbones, the flat planes of his stomach, and the length of his erection. Definitely an impressive length. John's mouth watered a bit as Sherlock sprang free from the restriction of his pants. Not that John really had any other up-close penile encounters to compare Sherlock to, besides his own body, but surely Sherlock was blessed with a more-beautiful-than-he-bloody-deserved build here just as he was over the rest of him. And all John could think of doing was taking as much of that gorgeous length into his mouth as he could.
Quickly he unzipped his own trousers and palmed himself. Sherlock was watching, eyes wide and dark -
Before he could think too hard about the not-straightness of what he was doing, John lowered himself down and delivered one long lick to that gorgeous cock. Sherlock bucked his hips, but John was kneeling on Sherlock's pants and trousers where they stretched between Sherlock's thighs and Sherlock couldn't lift up more than half an inch. It was enough to feel like permission but not enough to interfere in John's explorations.
And oh, he wanted to explore. John teased the head of Sherlock's cock with the tip of his tongue, then oh fuck it all he stretched to take as much of Sherlock into his mouth as he could possibly fit and Christ this is amazing Sherlock threw his head back and absolutely growled the most amazing noises and John need more, more set to experimenting with suction and little licks and kisses and great deep swallows and fucking shit dear God Sherlock was practically thrashing underneath him, not effectively because John had him bloody hell, deeper pinned down to the floor of their fucking living room and John squeezed his eyes shut and worked his left hand over his own cock as he sucked Sherlock off. A year ago he would have laughed at anyone who might have claimed John Watson would love sucking cock - now he would have bloody well high-fived them and pointed to Sherlock as proof. Who wouldn't want that incredible organ in their mouth? Sherlock tasted like heat and clean skin and a little salt and a hint of soap and a whole lot of absolute desperate motherfucking need. Whether that need was John's or Sherlock's, he wasn't entirely sure, but Sherlock's squirms and wordless pleas were certainly doing just as much as John's reaction as his own hand was. He couldn't remember ever having been this bloody hard.
When Sherlock came, it caught John by surprise. There was only a moment's notice before Sherlock was practically bent double and shouting. John managed to avoid getting any come on his face - just barely - but Sherlock's shirt was a lost cause. (Not that the tape hadn't already ruined it . . .) John's own cock was still aching, but at the moment it was more interesting to catalogue the changes in Sherlock's body, the tension and then release in his muscles, the way his jaw and his throat worked when he came.
Sherlock's eyes dragged open slowly. And immediately focused on John's open zipper.
"You haven't come yet."
John felt a pang of embarrassment - here his hand was still jerking off on auto-pilot while he was crouched between Sherlock's legs, and Sherlock was recovered and deducing again already. He went to tuck himself back into his trousers -
"Wait." Sherlock's eyes flickered up to his face, then back down. "I want to taste you, John. Will you let me?"
John swallowed. Hard. "But you already -"
"Doesn't mean I haven't been dreaming out this. Please . . ."
Christ. John put a hand behind Sherlock's shoulder to help him up into a sitting position, then scuttled backward until he could perch on the edge of the couch facing his flatmate. Even as painfully erect as he was, he still felt a bit strange fully clothed with his cock hanging out -
Sherlock's hands were bound behind his back, but he managed to shift himself forward anyway and look damn sexy while doing it. His skin was flushed, his hair mussed, his formerly-pristine shirt a complete disaster - but he was balanced on his knees between John's legs and he looked absolutely incredible. Sherlock leaned forward and carefully sank his mouth over John's cock with absolutely no preamble.
Now it was John's turn to shudder and swear. Sherlock reversed direction back upward, keeping his eyes locked on John's the entire time. John couldn't resist fisting a hand in Sherlock's hair, feeling those nimble lips stretch over him again and again -
It wasn't long at all before he was trembling and shouting, almost as loud as Sherlock had. And John couldn't help it - he collapsed backward onto the couch and gave in to a fit of the giggles.
He couldn't quite manage an explanation through the laughter, but he did succeed in unbuttoning enough of Sherlock's shirt front for Sherlock to shrug off the whole thing (semen stains, taped-together arms, and all) and toss it away toward the fireplace. The now-shirtless Sherlock clambered up onto the sofa beside him and pulled John close for a tight shoulder-to-shoulder embrace.
"What's so funny?"
John let himself sag into Sherlock's shoulder. "I don't know. Really I don't. It's just - I can't believe we actually did that, you know?"
Sherlock stilled. "Regrets?"
"Oh, God, no! I've known that was coming for days." He stopped and looked down at his lap. "Hoped it was coming, anyway. You've been extra-sullen ever since the chase where I threw you into the skip, and this seemed like a logical conclusion to that extra tension."
"I thought you didn't -"
John butted Sherlock's chest with his shoulder. "I can tell, you wanker. You thought I couldn't recognize the signs because I'm not you."
Sherlock had the grace to look flustered, at least.
And it went a long way toward boosting John's confidence in the whole affair. "You may be the first bloke I've ever sucked off," he continued, "but you're still pants at deducing when someone is interested in you. I've been trying to ignore what you do to me for ages."
"You - what?"
John raised his head and let Sherlock see a bit of the smirk he knew was plastered all over his face. "Surely you knew?"
Sherlock blinked. "I . . . no. You asked me not to deduce you, so I try not to."
"Thank heaven for that - this would have been a lot more awkward two months ago."
John snorted. "Pretty sure it was longer, but I hung on to the 'I'm straight' label for a while, I'm afraid."
Sherlock muttered something unintelligible and let his head roll back against the back of the sofa.
That leaves the big question, though. John took a deep breath. "What now, Sherlock?"
"We wait a suitable refractory period and have another go?"
"No, not that. I mean, yes, probably, but I was talking about us. What is this?"
Sherlock's eyebrows drew together. "You mean, how would I define our relationship?"
"Do we have to define it?"
"- Because I really don't feel the need." Sherlock brought a warm hand up to cup the nape of John's neck. "Most of it has been in place for months already - we live together, we split the bills, we get on each other's nerves, we fight and argue and make up. Adding shagging to the mix doesn't have to change the overall label by which we define ourselves."
John frowned. "So - no 'boyfriend,' 'partner,' or the like."
"If you want to, certainly." Sherlock shrugged. "But I would have been willing to accept those before, as well."
"Even without the sex."
"Not as good without, obviously." Sherlock's eyes got darker. "I find I rather like you manhandling me, Captain John Hamish Watson. Only in this context, of course, but I would be adamantly in favor of adding further interludes to our repertoire."
John sat perfectly still, taking in the sight of Sherlock, sans shirt, staring at him with that look . . .
"Right, then. Bedroom. Now."
Sherlock obeyed with alacrity.