A/N: written the kinkmeme prompt "So, I know we joke about Sherlock/Coat = OTP, and maybe it's the insomnia talking (ah, who am I kidding? It's always the insomnia talking!) - but I'd like to see non-crack Sherlock/Coat fic. Sherlock loves his coat. He really loves his coat. Bonus points for voyeur!John watching him."
It's always there when he needs it, that's what Sherlock loves about it most.
It visits crime scenes with him, goes for walks all around London, sits next to him at Bart's, at home and dinner and he can even take it to bed if he wants to. It shares his life, victories and defeats, and it never complains, never refuses or disturbs his thoughts, always at his beck and call.
It was a birthday present from Mycroft. At first he hardly paid attention to it, he'd put it on whenever he needed it and that was that. It was just a piece of clothing, really, protection against wind and weather, nothing else. But then, as time went by, it somehow grew on him, sneaked its way into his life and became so essential that now he can't imagine being without it anymore.
As soon as he puts it on, he feels stronger, as if he's suddenly clad in chain mail and nothing can harm him, no matter what the world decides to throw at him. It's comfort when he needs it, a silent warm support when it wraps around him with a whiff of wool and his own scent. He can hold it, stroke it, clutch it to his chest. It's soft and yet it has a very textured surface and enough weight to make him notice that it's there.
He loves the coat. Not in the way people love each other, obviously. He also doesn't have a name for it because he's not five anymore, but he definitely feels affection for it.
That's why he now takes it off its hook in the hallway and carries it into the living room. He does that often when he's alone because the coat keeps him perfect company. It's quiet and unobtrusive, but at the same time has so much presence that it feels like there is someone else with him in the room. Sherlock would never admit it, but sometimes he even talks to it.
He turns off the lamps as he walks over to his chair, the coat cradled in his arms. With the look of every thread and stitch engraved in his brain, he doesn't need light for what he's about to do. On the contrary, he prefers the darkness because that's where he can feel and smell it more intensely, can let himself get enveloped by it, lose himself in it. They're somehow even closer and he likes that.
The armchair creaks slightly as he sits down on it and pulls the coat over his lap. Its tweedy fabric is both soft and coarse against his naked skin as he slowly spreads it out in front of him. He holds the upper part below the sleeves, around the waist, and lets the back trail down his legs, the silk lining cool and sleek on his bare thighs. The buttons are cold as he presses the coat against his chest, but the rest is slowly warming up with his body heat and the contrast is delicious. He buries his nose in the collar and inhales deeply. Wool, synthetics, a bit of rain and his own shampoo - there's a whole story hidden in it that might well be a puzzle.
He briefly revels in the scent before he lifts the garment higher and runs it over his face, lets it trail over his eyes, his forehead and the front of his hair, pushes his cheek into it. He likes the darkness of the coat's insides, the way it muffles the sounds around him, and the fact that he's the only one who ever gets to see it inside-out. Almost tenderly, he brings it down to his mouth and lets his tongue trace the red buttonhole on the lapel before he plants several light kisses on the collar.
He's hard now, really hard and slightly panting. Slowly, he drags the coat down his chest again, enjoys once more the coolness of the buttons as they rub over his nipples, the feel of the cloth as it slides over his ribs, his belly, and further downwards.
When John arrives at 221B early in the evening, he at first is under the impression that no one is at home. The lights are out and he can't hear a thing as he drags himself up the stairs to the first floor after a long day at the clinic. It's not unusual to find the place empty. Sherlock often doesn't tell him where he goes, or when he goes, and John doesn't mind, after all, they each have their own lives every now and then.
That's why his mind is occupied with the wish to eat a bite, put his feet up, and watch the telly rather than the whereabouts of his flatmate as he reaches the landing. He notices that the door to the living room is ajar, so he walks over and is just about to push it open and step in when his ear registers something that makes him stop dead in his tracks.
There's rustling, noises, moaning coming from inside.
John's frozen to the spot, his hand hovering just an inch from the handle.
After a few seconds of quiet bewilderment, he cautiously tilts his head to the side and takes a peek through the gap of the door. Sherlock's name is already on the tip of his tongue, but he bites it back quickly when a patch of pale naked skin catches his eye and realization hits him.
Sherlock's brought someone home. Sherlock's having sex and he almost walked in on them.
He withdraws and turns away before he chuckles and shakes his head. This is so Sherlock. Texts him 20 times a day about the most ridiculous things but doesn't tell him when he needs the flat to himself. It's not as if John's a stranger to the concept of some private time, is it. Admittedly, he usually doesn't bring girlfriends home because he has the feeling that Sherlock doesn't like it, but that doesn't mean that he has no respect for Sherlock's privacy.
And yet, John must admit that he's now pretty curious. Is Sherlock with a man? A woman? The mental image of Sherlock having sex with someone is enough to send a bolt of excitement through his veins, a heat that quickly spreads through his body and pools at his groin. Suddenly, he has this urge to find out whom Sherlock's with. And, let's face it, he also really wants to see them shag - he's no monk, after all. He leans forward again, towards the crack in the door, tries to get a better look...
From what he can see in the sparse street light that floats in through the windows there's no one in the room but Sherlock. He's sitting in his armchair, alone, legs dangling over the edge of the seat and a blanket in his lap. His eyes are closed and he's running a corner of the blanket over his torso, his mouth open, gasping for breaths. John can't see Sherlock's hands, they're hidden by the blanket, but the rhythmical back and forth movement of Sherlock's hips tells John everything he needs to know.
All of a sudden, it's a lot less interesting than it was just a moment ago. He's about to turn away and sneak upstairs to his room when he hears that rustle again, the one he's heard before. It sounds like the flutter of a big bird but there's something almost dangerous to it which is why he somehow can't just ignore it. He throws another glance inside, looks a bit closer at the picture before him, intent on identifying the source of the noise.
His eyes widen when he realizes what exactly it is that Sherlock's using for pleasure.
It's not a blanket, it's his coat, twisted into a loose dark ball. Sherlock presses it into his groin with both his hands and slowly grinds against it. His skin looks ghostly white in the gloaming of the room and contrasts starkly with the colour of the garment. John can see how Sherlock's erection disappears between the folds of fabric, how he pushes into it as if it were a lover. A strand of hair falls into Sherlock's face during his slow, rocking movements, and John can't help but think that there's something strangely erotic to the scene.
He keeps watching when Sherlock spreads his legs wider and pulls the piece of clothing harder into his lap, how his toes curl on the hardwood floor as he pushes deeper into the coat, exhaling sharp breaths. John also keeps watching when Sherlock's movements get more frantic, more desperate, when his pants grow shorter, the flexing of his hips faster, his fingers digging deeper into the ball of fabric. Finally, Sherlock moans and slightly lurches forwards with stuttering hips and John knows that Sherlock just came. And indeed, when Sherlock sinks against the backrest, mouth still open, breathing hard, slowly coming down from his high, the coat shifts somewhat in his hands and John can see that milky white stains now speckle the dark wool.
John retreats into the hallway and leans against the wall. His hands are a little sweaty and his trousers a bit too tight for his liking. He can't believe what he's just witnessed. With the coat?
He shouldn't have watched. It's none of his business anyway, is it. It's none of his business when and where Sherlock masturbates, just like it's none of his business how he does it. If Sherlock gets off on coats, let him get off on coats. It's just a fetish, harmless, it's not as if he's hurting anyone.
And yet, John can't help but worry, because suddenly, scenes fall into his head, memories that involve Sherlock and the coat. He never really noticed, but there is something in the way Sherlock holds that coat, the way he handles it, lifts it, carries it, wears it. It's almost as if Sherlock is possessed by it and John doesn't like that thought one bit.
He turns back towards the living room. It's very possible that he'll come to regret his next move but he can't leave it at that, can't leave Sherlock like that. He slowly pushes the door open and takes two tentative steps inside.
Sherlock hasn't moved an inch, he's slumped in his chair and his eyes are still closed. He looks exhausted and John wonders if it's from physical exertion alone.
"Sherlock?" he asks quietly.
Sherlock jumps slightly when he hears John's voice and immediately jerks his head around. It's hard to see in the semi-darkness of the room, but John thinks there's almost something like fear in Sherlock's eyes. The coat is still in his lap and he doesn't push it away, on the contrary, he only holds it closer, uses it to hide his naked state behind it.
"John." Sherlock's voice is rough and a bit shaky.
They look at each other for a moment, an exchange of embarrassed glances. Then John takes a deep breath.
"I know it's none of my business," he says warily, "but... why the coat?"
Sherlock looks down at the garment in question. It's still resting in his lap and he runs his hand over it as if petting the soft, fluffy coat of an animal.
"It's just," he shrugs and shakes his head. "It's there when I need it."
John can suddenly feel anger bubble up inside of him. He'd very much like to rip the coat out of Sherlock's hands, trample it, burn it, throw it away and then hope they'd both forget it ever existed. But he knows that wouldn't be the solution. After all, it's not the coat's fault, which is why he tries to swallow his emotions as he slowly crosses the room towards Sherlock.
Sherlock hasn't moved, he only sits in silence when John eventually crouches down in front of him. John's glance falls on the coat in Sherlock's lap and he is very much tempted to take it away, but then Sherlock would be naked and the last thing John wants to do is compromise him any further.
He puts his hand on Sherlock's shoulder instead, the skin cold and slightly clammy under his palm, and when he finally lifts his head and looks Sherlock in the eyes, a bit of light falls on his face.
"Sherlock, I'm there for you, too."
Sherlock swallows and turns his face towards the window. For a moment he simply stares outside as if searching for something, but then he looks back down at the coat in his lap and starts fidgeting with the buttons. John can see that Sherlock's struggling for words so he lets him take his time.
"You're different." Sherlock eventually says, his voice slightly hoarse.
John frowns, not quite sure what to make of that. "Well, I'm not a coat, obviously," he jokes and Sherlock actually huffs a laugh at that, the tension between them easing a bit.
Once their mirth has subsided, John waits for Sherlock to elabourate on what he said, but Sherlock's back to fiddling with the buttons.
"So, do you mean 'good different' or 'bad different'?" John probes carefully.
Sherlock's fingers still in their movements and he looks up sharply, the blue-grey of is eyes piercing, even in the dark. "Good," Sherlock nods at him, "good different."
John can feel relief spread inside of him. He lets go of Sherlock's shoulder and instead slips both his hands into Sherlock's, holding them tightly.
"If you ever need my 'good different', tell me, okay?" John emphasises, studying Sherlock's face for a reaction.
Sherlock avoids his eyes again, but finally, he nods. "Okay."
John smiles and gives Sherlock's hands a reassuring squeeze. Then he slowly lets go of them, gets up from his crouching position and, after another look at Sherlock, begins to walk towards the door.
"John?" Sherlock's voice makes him pause and turn.
Sherlock's sitting there like he did when John first entered the room, but his hands are now clasped together rather than holding the coat and John's oddly enough glad to see it.
"Thank you." Sherlock says, looking at him with something like hope.
John gives him another smile. "You're welcome."
With that he steps into the hallway and pulls the door shut behind him.