John twisted the key in the lock, giving the stiff front door a firmer-than-necessary push with his shoulder to open it, and shuffled in. His leg hurt, his shoulder hurt, his head hurt. He wanted nothing more than a quick shower and an early night, although in 221b Baker Street both of those were unlikely prospects.
Sherlock looked up when he got in; never a good sign. If the detective was engrossed in work John could probably blow the flat up without any recognition; therefore Sherlock was bored, and John was first on his list to provide some sort of entertainment.
"You've been out with Sarah" he observed, steepling his fingers under his chin and pinning John with his pale gaze.
So much for that early night.
"It's been your fifth date tonight. Meal out; glass of wine, walk in the park."
As deductions went, that was pretty straightforward and there was no point asking *how* he knew.
"And yet it's," Sherlock made a big show of checking his watch, which John knew wasn't working anyway, "10.42pm and you're coming home alone."
"Did you have a point that you were getting to, Sherlock?" he found himself asking tersely, and the younger man cocked his head to one side.
Oh god, he knew what Sherlock meant. Sherlock knew that he knew what he meant. Ice cold fingers clenched at his stomach and he tried to affect a blank expression which he knew was utterly useless.
"All I'm trying to do is have a shower and go to bed. I'm tired."
Bad answer. Sherlock's brow furrowed and his gaze drifted beyond John, a sure sign that he was thinking further. Not good. Deciding that discretion was definitely the better part of valour, John escaped as quickly as his sore leg would allow, taking the stairs two at a time and locking himself in the bathroom.
Less than two seconds later, he hastily unlocked the bathroom and slammed the door behind him, breathing heavily and biting back a scathing comment about appropriate bathtub contents (it just wasn't worth provoking Sherlock when his nose was so firmly poking in John's business to start with).
He slumped down face first on his bed, too tired even to grab his pyjamas, and exhaled deeply. The wave of relaxation he felt, predictably, was to be short lived. He didn't hear Sherlock's steps on the stairs but did hear the click of his bedroom door opening. Knocking, clearly, was beyond Sherlock.
"She's not the kind of girl to hold out for more than three dates anyway; she's invited you back to hers, in fact you slept on her sofa after only one date. So it's you who's avoiding…"
He hadn't used that tone for several years, and it clearly caught Sherlock off guard; he stopped, his eyes uncertain for a moment. It was never going to last though; as though unpleasant the words forced their way out of his mouth.
"You haven't had sex since you moved here, John. A while before, even."
He still lay on his front, facing away from Sherlock, and for a moment he just wanted to allow himself to crumple and cry like a little boy again. After all, what did he possibly have to say in response?
Rolling over, even faced, he shrugged.
"Neither have you."
Sherlock's face split into a smile that was not entirely pleasant.
"On what basis do you make that assumption?"
"Am I right?"
Well fuck. He hadn't been expecting that.
"For goodness sake, John, stop goldfishing. Even sociopaths have needs. That I am capable of keeping my sordid affairs to myself is nothing surprising, surely?"
There was a pregnant pause where John briefly considered throwing something at him, discarding the idea almost immediately.
"I've upset you again" said Sherlock, sounding part disconcerted and part irritated, as though he couldn't understand what he had possibly done to lead to this outcome.
It wasn't a question, and John didn't feel the need to dignify it with an answer; instead he allowed his head to tip back and closed his eyes. He felt frayed and distressed, worn down and rather like someone had ripped a plaster off a wound only to find that it hadn't healed after all.
Despite the awkward silence, he could feel Sherlock lingering in the doorway and sighed.
"I'm not interested in sex" he said flatly. "That's all there is to it."
"Wrong" breathed Sherlock, his gaze pinning John to the mattress. He opened his mouth as if to say something else, closed it with an audible click, turned on his heel and retreated downstairs. It didn't feel like a victory.
No sooner had his eyes drifted shut, it seemed, the nightmares started. An overwhelming blur of memories, colours, sand blood and gunshot, and he awoke in a cold sweat as usual. Nothing new; nothing that was going to allow him to get back to sleep again either.
His leg still burnt; he stretched it out and winced. Everything felt sore; what wouldn't he give for a bath now. He briefly considered going downstairs, making a cup of tea and watching some tv but the prospect of Sherlock either grilling or observing him sounded bleak, even as lonely and cold as he felt, and so he lay back in bed, sighing heavily, and waited for sleep to claim him.
The next morning he arose feeling less refreshed and perky than usual – that is to say, very little – and stumbled downstairs in search of coffee and edible experiments, which was the only way he was likely to get sustenance; untouched food in the kitchen simply didn't exist.
"Are you gay?"
Yes, that was the start to his morning that he had dreamed of. Not.
"You're the detective" he said flatly, "You tell me."
Mistake. When would he learn? Sherlock moved closer, closer, too close. He could feel breath on his neck, could almost feel long pale fingers reaching out to him. He took a quick step back, too quickly, feeling the door behind him.
"What are you doing?"
"Ascertaining your sexuality"
John wished briefly but fervently for a desk he could knock his head against.
"I didn't actually mean it Sherlock. Back off."
"I don't understand!"
It was petulant but John felt a twinge of sympathy; he had close second hand experience of how frustrating it was for Sherlock to not be able to comprehend a fact or piece together a puzzle. Didn't mean he was going to make it easy for him though.
"It's none of your business, Sherlock. I'm going out. Leave me alone."
He tried to ignore the tug of guilt behind his navel as his housemate pouted, instead turning to pull on his coat and slamming the door behind him with considerably more force than necessary.
If John Watson thought the last 24 hours had been stressful, invasive and unpleasant it was nothing to what he would come home to that evening. The flat was darkened with only a glimmer of orange from the wash of the streetlights seeping through. Sherlock's profile was illuminated, the light brushing the plane of his cheekbone and making his eyes burn.
"What are you doing?" he asked softly, a knot of dread working his stomach as Sherlock moved closer, closing the door behind him.
"Trying to understand" breathed the other man, his voice low and smoky, the kind of voice that John would find attractive, sultry, sexy even if…
"You can't understand" he said sharply, aware he was breaking some kind of spell, aware that he was going to upset or at the very least confuse his friend.
Sherlock ignored him, moving closer, pressing his lips to John's, hands carding through his hair. It felt nice. It felt…nice. Soothing. He allowed him to deepen the kiss, allowed his tongue to swipe his lower lip. Sherlock pulled him closer, one hand knotted in his hair and one sliding down his waist, clutching at his shirt, catching lightly at the sensitive skin.
Sherlock pulled back, his eyes black and bright, his breathing fractionally ragged, subtle enough that nobody else would have picked up on it.
"Not strictly heterosexual then" he said with more than a hint of smugness, leaning in further so that John could feel the outline of Sherlock's erection pressing into his hip, and he knew what was coming now, knew where this was going…felt the seeking hand, the grasping, the freezing of the fingers when they came into contact with flaccid flesh.
The word was flat, disappointed, without passion. It cut through John like a hot knife through butter, making him want to gasp with the pain of it. The usual disappointment was bad enough in this situation; the spark of clinical interest he could hear in the single syllable was worse. He was nothing, reduced to medical curiosity.
"Don't" he said roughly, not trusting his voice not to crack, and when Sherlock didn't move he pushed him off, hard. His friend, his housemate, staggered backwards, caught off balance and John took the opportunity to brush past him and shut himself in his room again, slamming his fist angrily into the doorframe and feeling the reassuring throb of pain before he collapsed, exhausted, onto his bed.
His eyes prickled at the shame, the embarrassment, and he was so caught up in self loathing and misery that he didn't even notice his mattress dipping down.
"I'm sorry, John" said Sherlock softly, "I didn't realise…"
"Well, now you do. Leave me alone Sherlock, please."
"Since I came back."
Sherlock knew what he meant; he could feel the pieces clicking together in his friend's brain.
"I don't know when it started. I mean, it's lonely out there and it's not like I had a wife or a girlfriend before I went – and then I came back out and found that…I just don't feel that way."
Sherlock's hand settled on his leg, heavy and reassuring.
"I haven't spoken about it with anyone. There doesn't seem much point; I mean, I don't miss sex, and I'm hardly inundated with admirers."
"Will you let me try something?"
John opened his eyes suspiciously.
"Well, I assume that you've panicked and run off every time this has happened, correct? I would hypothesise that once the initial awkwardness and worry is out of the way it might be…easier to obtain results."
"You're suggesting we have sex…because we've already ascertained that I can't get it up so you think it'll be less awkward?"
Sherlock smiled at him, a feline grin that slid across his face and suddenly John could see why the man wasn't short of companions when he wanted to be.
"What makes you think you can help?"
The grin widened
"Have you ever had cause to doubt my capabilities when I put my mind to something, Doctor?"
Sherlock seemed to take his mute silence for acquiescence and slid his hand further up John's leg, stopping just underneath the knee.
"You'll find," he purred, his voice lower than John had ever heard it, and smokey around the edges, "I have a great deal of experience in this area and I can assure you I have never had any complaints."
Good Lord, the man's voice alone could act as an aphrodisiac. For anyone other than John, clearly.
Undeterred by his immediate lack of success, Sherlock moved up the bed sinuously until he was on top of John, trapping him effectively by the wrists and gazing into his eyes.
"I will need a little reciprocation, John" he said, his lips quirking up in amusement, "or do you usually just lie back and think of England?"
Just like that the knot of nervousness unwound from his stomach and he chuckled despite himself, arching up so he could kiss Sherlock. It was languid and leisurely, the younger man quickly taking control and nipping lightly on John's lower lip, the hand that wasn't pinning his wrists to the headboard tracing patterns along his side. It tickled; it felt good.
Suddenly Sherlock's hands were off him and he opened his eyes blearily, confused, concerned that he was giving up.
"I'm not going anywhere" he rumbled, and not for the first time John wondered if his friend wasn't a little psychic. Sherlock was crouched above him, long fingers nimbly undoing his belt. As John watched, he slid it from around his waist and knotted it deftly around John's wrists, trapping them above his head.
"Relax my dear. I just need your hands still and your full concentration if you please"
Well, that was comforting.
Before John could open his mouth, his full attention was grasped. Sherlock rocked back on his heels, a self-satisfied smirk on his lips, and was unbuttoning his shirt, his eyes fixed unwaveringly on John.
"You think I haven't noticed you looking," he murmured, "You think you've been so subtle, John. But I've seen the way you look at me sometimes. You stare at my hands, my cheekbones, my arse. Don't think I'm unobservant, John. You know better than that."
He was dimly aware that somewhere during that husky speech he had fully lost any inhibitions he'd had before and let out a breathy moan, his cheeks colouring as he realised how effeminate he must sound.
Sherlock's shirt hung open, unbuttoned, slipping slightly off one shoulder and affording John a glimpse of smooth white skin, a dusting of dark hair and if he turned his head just so a flash of nipple.
"You're entranced because of my unusual looks" he said, his lips quirking up, "You don't know if that makes you gay, because I'm not a stereotypical man"
He flexed his shoulders, allowing the shirt to slide off his back and pool behind him on the bed, already forgotten. More muscular than John had expected, but still slender and sinewy and Christ, so pale. John almost expected him to sparkle in the sunlight his skin was so white (that quip had fallen on stony ground; little surprise that Sherlock took no interest in popular culture) and his hands would have itched out to touch if they hadn't been securely fastened.
…Yes, Sherlock was attractive. Like he was going to deny that. Of course he'd looked; who wouldn't? And yeah, he'd known that Sherlock had seen him looking. This outcome was…unexpected though.
As though sensing his mind wandering, Sherlock moved in closer again, his breath soft and warm on John's neck as he pressed a gentle, open mouthed kiss to the pulse point, one hand coming up to stroke John's cheek lightly. His lips trailed up, landing just shy of John's lower lip. He arched back, trying to capture a kiss, and Sherlock pulled back, smirking, lowering his lips to the other side of John's neck. He brushed the sensitive skin with his lips once, twice, three times and then bit down hard.
The noise escaped him without his consent, rough and ragged, and he could feel the curve of Sherlock's lips against his pulse. His tongue flicked out, soothing the area, circling what would almost certainly be a visible mark. John's skin tingled; he could feel his heart thumping in his chest, irregular and excited, could feel the gooseflesh rising on his arms.
Sherlock sat back, self-satisfaction written all over his features, and smiled.
"Well, that's a start" he commented, stroking himself languorously through his trousers. John could see the outline of his cock, still hard – that had to be uncomfortable – pressing against the dark fabric. His mouth felt dry. Sherlock's head was tilted back, two high spots of colour in his cheeks the only indication of his waning control as he twisted his wrist and let out a shaky sigh.
The word was out of his lips before his mind could censor it, before he could realise what he might be getting himself into. Sherlock's pale eyes opened, narrowed, move d down to fix on John.
"I thought you'd never ask" he growled, his palm still pressed against his erection, pupils dilated as he worked at the fly of John's jeans, sliding them down his legs and throwing them carelessly to the floor. John felt himself tense, aware again of his cock hanging limp in his boxers. A cold sheen of embarrassment worked its way over his forehead and he barely noticed Sherlock moving until the other man lay curled at his feet.
All he could see were the dark curls bent over his ankles and the curve of one shoulder, and then suddenly sharp teeth nipped into the sensitive skin underneath his ankle making him gasp and snap his head up. The lips were soft then, soothing the sting with long, slow laps that made their way up the inside of his calf. He'd never felt anything like it; every nerve ending in his body felt like it was hardwired to Sherlock's wonderful, talented tongue.
He could only watch, breathless and tremulous as Sherlock twisted himself around to the back of John's knee, taking the soft skin into his mouth and sucking firmly, his teeth grazing the pressure point (oh god, he would never mock Sherlock again for his interest in reflexology) until John arched off the bed, panting and moaning, and for the first time in years his cock twitched with interest, the blood stirring, nitric oxide doing its job and opening out those stubborn blood vessels.
And Sherlock – clever, wonderful Sherlock – must have planned this all along, because the further those lips travel, nipping, sucking, sometimes biting so hard that he gasps and moans wantonly, the harder he gets until his cock is red and engorged, bumping against his stomach impatiently as Sherlock nuzzles at his balls and licks a long trail up his cock, experimentally lapping the pre-cum from the head as Watson's head drops back, breath shuddering out of him.
Sherlock looked like the cat who'd got the cream, trailing up John's torso to press his lips firmly against his neck again. The added bonus of doing that? The friction of their cocks rubbing together, and John didn't think he'd ever been this hard in his life.
Their mouths crashed together again and, cursing his selfishness, John reached between them and grasped Sherlock's erection, palming it first, running his thumb across the head, grinning at the gratifying moan Sherlock let out, his head tipping back giving John an unobstructed view of his pale, slender neck. He couldn't resist leaning forward and sucking hard for a few seconds, marking him. For a second he worried that Sherlock would take offence, but the throaty sound and twitch of his cock in John's palm reassured him.
"Do that again" demanded his flatmate, "Harder."
John's breath hissed out of him in an agonised rush as he tried to keep a hold of himself, and Sherlock smiled at him.
"Let go, John" he breathed, his voice huskier than John had ever heard it, and with one twist of that agile wrist around his cock he was coming so hard his abdominal muscles screamed with the force of it, lights exploding behind his tightly clenched eyelids. Dimly through the haze he could feel Sherlock's arms around him, tight, and Sherlock's cock sliding against his hip, frenzied and uncoordinated.
And then there was stillness, the wet warmth on John's thigh and the burn of his shoulder and the feeling of Sherlock, still pinning him to the bed, his breathing even and steady.
"You're welcome, John. Shut up and go to sleep. If you're lucky, I'll prove my point again tomorrow morning."
John tried to hide the small smile that crept over his lips, and steadfastly refused to acknowledge the fact that Sherlock was still holding him tight. For now, he could sleep.
herlock, are you a virgin?"