"Sherlock," John says. He doesn't realize quite how he's said it, as one might say it to a child throwing a tantrum, at once placating, soothing even, but brokering no further disobedience.

Sherlock's eyes widen and John thinks, that's it then, I've gone too far.

But then Sherlock steps close, into John's personal space that always seems to expand enough to include Sherlock and no one else.

"Make me," he says. "You have to make me."

There is something wild in Sherlock's eyes, and John still isn't sure if he's reading it right, if Sherlock is going to turn on him, just like a child, but there's something pleading there too, something that John's never seen.

"I need you to," Sherlock whispers. Because John's voice, a voice that Sherlock can imagine ordering patients to stop thrashing on the table, or ordering soldiers into danger, has sent a flush of heat along his body to deep between his legs, and that's never happened before.

It makes him stop thinking, stop seeing the pieces flashing in neon all around him. He doesn't like it, but he wants it. And that's new and interesting too. He has to resist the urge to lower his head. He wants John's hand to push him down to his knees.

"Stop," John says forcefully, "you will stop."

And Sherlock does.

In the cab they sit side by side facing forward. They are as far apart as usual, which is to say, not much.

Inside 221b, up the stairs quietly, into their flat.

They stare at one another. Eyes locking, and again that's nothing new, but something else is there. It's laid bare, stripped of justifications and the pretense of 'no, just flatmates, not like that, just good friends, very good friends.'

John suspects that Sherlock was as unaware of this as he, himself, was, and that makes him feel triumphant. But he's also shocked at his own desire, or rather, what he desires.

"I want you to—" John starts, then begins again, "Strip. Strip for me now."

Sherlock shuts his eyes as if he has to think about what the words mean. He lets his coat slide from his shoulders and drop in a thick heap on the floor. John's commands are pulling something away from him. Control. He's losing control, and it's terrifying and blissful at the same time, like free falling while knowing that someone will catch you.

"Open your eyes. I want—," again, the rephrasing, the parsing of what's needed. "Look at me. You have to look at me," John says.

Eyes still shut, Sherlock swallows.

Neither one of them is sure of the parameters. How much will be too much.

Isn't one supposed to have a safe word for this, John thinks?

Sherlock opens his eyes. He slithers out of his jacket and starts to unbutton his shirt, the white one with the lavender pin stripes. He feels faint, just on the edge of being nauseas. For the first time in a long time he has no idea what he's doing. Is this what normal people feel like all the time?

John licks his lips as inches of pale skin are revealed. His mouth is very dry. Sherlock undoes his cuffs, tugs the shirttails from his waistband and drops the shirt off of his shoulders. His eyes don't leave John's as he rests his hand against the wall to brace himself as he pulls off his shoes and socks. His toes wiggle against the carpet, feeling the air.

He drops his eyes briefly to undo the complicated buttons of his trousers, but his eyes return to John's as he lets them drop, revealing his tumescent cock. He steps free of his trousers and kicks them behind him.

Through all of this John hasn't moved. He's still in his coat. He takes his wallet from his pocket and pulls out a condom. Sherlock's eyes widen slightly, but he doesn't say stop.

"Get on the kitchen table." John's a bit surprised at himself. The couch is right there, although it would be a tight fit, and Sherlock's room is just down the hall, but the thought of standing up while he fucks Sherlock this first (of many?) time seems important. Unlike the bed, it will put Sherlock's arse at the perfect height.

Sherlock does as he's told, turning and walking into the kitchen. He's cold, but it isn't reducing his arousal. The discomfort heightens it, as though physical comfort is something else to let go along with control and responsibility. He's tried it the other way. Ordering a partner, punishing them, but it was never satisfying for either of them. He was dreadful at after care, and he might as well have been ordering the police around for all that it turned him on.

But this is different. He never thought that this would work, and maybe it wouldn't have if it were someone other than John. Because he's always deferred to John. John has always reined him in. And he's always liked it.

John finally takes off his coat and hangs it on his hook. There's still time to walk away from this, he thinks. There's even time to change the dynamic, to take Sherlock into his arms and kiss him gently, to build up to something because hard and fast isn't like John at all.

He doesn't strip. He walks into the kitchen unbuttoning his shirt. Sherlock's moved the detritus out of the way and is leaning against the table awkwardly. When John comes in he turns and bends over the table. The height forces him to bend his legs slightly and he spreads them wide, presenting himself.

John walks over and runs his finger along Sherlock's spine, causing Sherlock to shiver.

"No," John says, "turn over. On your back."

Sherlock stands, turns and lays back down on his back staring at the ceiling, looking like a patient waiting for an exam, except for his swollen cock lying across his stomach.

There's lube in John's bedroom. There may even be some down the hall in Sherlock's but John doesn't dare leave Sherlock alone to reconsider. He doesn't want to reconsider. He grabs a bottle of olive oil from the counter and sets it on the table by Sherlock's hip along with the condom packet.

"Have you done this before?" John asks. "I need to know if you've done this before."

"Tell me now," he adds softly. "Tell me if you want it."

"I want it," Sherlock whispers, his voice breathy and low. "Never like this. With men, yes, anal, but…I've never had sex like this, but I want it."

John nods and unscrews the cap of the olive oil. He slicks his fingers and slides them along Sherlock's perineum and then between his buttocks to prepare him.

Sherlock's head drops back. He brings his knees up to his chest. When John takes his fingers away to push his trousers down and put on the condom, Sherlock wriggles down so that his arse is right at the edge of the table and grips his knees, legs spread wide.

It takes a little effort for John to push in, and Sherlock's face creases.

"If you say stop, I will stop. I don't want…I won't hurt you."

"I know," Sherlock breathes out. "I'm not going to say stop."

John knows that Sherlock will do nothing without his permission. He's heady from the feeling and he wants to drag it out, wants to have Sherlock practically begging, but he's not going to last long himself. He wasn't hard in the cab, but he is now.

Sherlock's thighs are slim, but strong with taut muscles, and his arse is round and soft when John pushes against it. John pulls Sherlock's hands from where they're still holding his knees and brings them down to his sides where he can grip them. He pushes Sherlock's thighs up with his upper arms and thrusts. He passes beyond coherent thought, it's all just tight, tight, hot, Sherlock's body drawing him in.

Sherlock's equally past all words. He moans on every thrust and gasps on each withdraw. His fingers are scrabbling at the table where he's pinned.

John releases Sherlock's right hand and manages, "Come. Make yourself come. Want to see it."

Fumbling between his drawn up thighs Sherlock grips himself tightly. He catches his own pre-come from the tip with his thumb and works it over the head, along the shaft.

When he comes, he cries out at each pulse, three, four times across his abdomen and chest.

John bites his lip as Sherlock's contractions grab him and he comes with a strangled moan. His last hard thrust earns another sob from Sherlock and another thin jet of come.

They stay locked together for several long heartbeats. Then John backs away and catches his trousers where they're falling.

Sherlock pushes himself upright and looks down at the mess on his chest. "I'll just…go clean up."

He gets up awkwardly, limbs readjusting to blood flow, and walks to the bathroom

John cleans himself up in the sink and wipes down the table. Waits.

Sherlock reemerges with a towel around his waist. "John…goodnight."

He turns and walks to his bedroom shutting the door behind him, leaving John to wonder what comes next.

The next morning Sherlock's door is still shut, so John goes to work, confused, worried and hurt.

When he comes home, Sherlock is in his pajamas in his chair. He stands when John enters.

"John, I…" Sherlock's hands flutter the way they do when he's upset. "…last night…I…"

There's a long, taut silence.

"You don't have to, but if you…want to…it was…good," he stammers. He's had all day to think of how to phrase this, and this is the best he can come up with? He feels his face flush with embarrassment and shame. Humiliation, and that's tied in with what happened the night before as well.

John strides across the room and catches Sherlock's hands in his but loosely, not like the night before.

"We didn't even kiss," John murmurs. "We should rectify that. If we're going forward. Are we going forward?"

Sherlock shuts his eyes, lips parted, and John leans in, open mouthed too, to catch Sherlock's lips with his.

He slides his hands around Sherlock's waist working them under the cloth to touch warm skin. He moves a hand to grip Sherlock's arse. John didn't really get to feel it well the night before and he delights in its round shape, the firm muscle beneath the skin that still gives pleasantly as he massages it.

Sherlock slips his left leg between John's to show how hard he is.

"Bedroom," Sherlock whispers although he's not sure why. "I have…things." He doesn't say that he spent an hour digging through the accumulated flotsam of his room to find a pack of condoms hoping all the while that they weren't past their sell-buy date.

"Yes," says John in a low voice, but not a whisper. He doesn't say that he spent the day so anxious that he thought he was going to have to come home sick, only it was the thought of coming home that was making him sick. That he pulled his phone out at least forty-five times to see if Sherlock had texted and to wonder if he should text first.

Separately they walk down the short hall to Sherlock's bedroom. It's chaotic, but not as much as John feared.

On a tall stack of books next to the bed there's an unopened, crumpled box of condoms and a half empty bottle of lubricant. John suspects it might be his, but Sherlock seems so far out of his depth that he's about to drown and John doesn't want to add to his agitation, so he refrains from mentioning it.

John undoes his own shirt then moves to Sherlock and starts to lift the hem of his t-shirt. Sherlock complies by lifting his arms and together they wrangle it off of him. John wraps his arms around Sherlock's body again and pulls them together, skin to skin. There's such a tender intimacy, despite their both being half dressed that it pulls a shuddering sob from deep in Sherlock's chest. They kiss again, tilting their heads from one side to the other to find the best angle to fit together.

When their tongues start to become urgent, John steps back and they each remove their own trousers. Sherlock's barefoot, but John has to pull off his shoes and socks.

Naked, they crawl onto the bed side-by-side and resume the kissing. Sherlock's hands skitter along John's ribs, around to his back and down to caress his arse. He throws his leg over John's hip so that they're grinding together. His pubic hair tickles John's belly but when John reaches between them to move things along, he pulls back. He gives John the same analyzing look that he gave him the first time they met and John wonders what he's seeing this time. Sherlock reaches out and starts to trace the ligaments and muscles of John's body in tactile observation. He touches the scar and rubs it with his thumb. He brushes his hand down John's sternum and curves over the gentle swell of flesh around John's waist. He presses his palm against John's abdomen, below the belly button, but above the genitals. John waits, fascinated by Sherlock's fascination. Finally, seemingly satisfied, Sherlock pushes John onto his back climbs over him to straddle his hips.

It's nothing like the night before. Sherlock's pliant, yes, but neither of them is controlling the other. John slips his hands around Sherlock's waist and Sherlock moves them where he wants them to be, lower, onto his hips. When he wants it, he moves John's hand up to his nipple and shows him how he likes it, rubbed between the fingers. He slides his fingers into John's mouth and thrusts them in and out as he lifts himself up and down on John's cock.

He moans a litany, "Johnjohnjohnjohnjohn," stroking himself faster and faster until he comes with a spiked groan of pleasure. John's so wrapped up in watching that his own orgasm seems like an afterthought, pulled from him by Sherlock's ecstasy.

Sherlock rolls off and gazes up at the ceiling. John fumbles for a towel and finding none, ends up fetching Sherlock's t-shirt from where he dropped it. From Sherlock's silence he's afraid that it's going to be a repeat of the night before. That all of this is going to prove too much for Sherlock's fragile image of himself, but when he passes the t-shirt over, Sherlock turns his head and smiles at him.

So John crawls in bedside him and throws his arm over the other man's chest.

"Last night… Why did you run— go away?"

Sherlock looks back at the ceiling and gathers up his breath. "I thought... I thought that that's what I needed. To be alone to try and sort out what had happened, why I enjoyed it, why I…needed it. I was wrong."

"What do you mean?" John asks, worried that it still might be too much. Does Sherlock mean that all of this is wrong?

"I needed this. You. Something…softer, tender. Loving." The last word is said so softly that John can barely hear it.

John says, "I don't know what came over me. We don't have to do that…it that way again."

At that Sherlock turns his head sharply in John's direction. "No! I mean, I think…I think that I will want it that way sometimes. It was…clarifying.

"Clarifying?" John chuckles.

"Everything else was gone, just your voice and your body and what you were doing to my body. It…reset things. Because…I trust you. I trust you, John." Sherlock almost doesn't trust himself as he says the words. He suddenly casts his eyes to the side and they widen with a thought, "I mean, if you want to…do that. Sometimes."

John smiles and reaches out to take Sherlock's hand in his. He weaves their fingers together but then grips tightly. "I think I will. Sometimes. I think maybe we both need it. But there will always be this after."

"Yes," Sherlock sighs, "Yes."