Chapter 28: Control

Note: Life is full of experiments, and this chapter was one. I'm not at all sure it worked! When I first saw the story in my head in August 2011, it stopped with the preceding chapter, and that still seems like a natural stopping place. Perhaps it's best to consider this chapter as an extra, rather than an integral part of the story.

Promises: BDSM themes and toppy!John.

John is incredulous. It's perplexing that a man who has seen everything from firefights in Helmand to Mycroft doing battle against a child's birthday piñata can still feel astonishment, but that's the emotion that his eyebrows are signaling in semaphore.

"Who sixty-nines in an alley?" he demands, storming into the sitting room of 221b, hot on his flatmate's heels. "Who, exactly?" Given the events of an hour previous, either these questions are rhetorical, or John is quoting from a particularly memorable edition of the News Quiz on Radio 4.

"Apparently? Not you," replies the detective, in a tone of voice not at all indicative of a blazing sulk. As he shrugs off his coat, he takes a moment to appraise his partner, who is propped up against the hideous wallpaper, trying to catch the breath he lost while legging it out of Southbank. Based on how John's carrying himself, the only things preventing him from launching into a major strop are (heaving chest) exhaustion and (tightness in back of the jaw) a private inclination to find the whole thing hilarious. This is not the first time Sherlock has seen this look.

The detective tosses himself belly-first onto the sofa. He can feel the sulk he's not currently having sending out tendrils beyond the realm of the merely ornate and into the baroque.

"No, Sherlock, really," says John, once he can speak again. "'Vertical sex,' I said. 'One of us keeping watch,' I said. 'You with your huge coat,' I said. Not the two of us going at it face-first on the pavement along a route that taken by hundreds of thousands of vehicles a day, particularly when it's clear that one of them is going to be a car full of Yarders who know us personally." John groans. "Actually, after this afternoon, 'personally' doesn't begin to cover it."

"Dull," mutters Sherlock. Normally, he'd have one eyebrow cocked and loaded, but at the moment, he doesn't have the energy. It's a terrible day. John is annoyed with him, there's lint tickling his nasal passages, he's awash in undeleted data, and it's hard to make himself understood with a mouthful of cushion.

"No, Sherlock. Not dull. Certifiable. God. No wonder Greg's come up with alternative uses for a loo brush."

Sherlock rolls petulantly onto his side. He has to bend his long body into a Spanish diacritic in order to keep all of it on the couch. "Oh, yes. We're uncomfortable with exhibitionism now." He lets out a frustrated puff of air; it plays in his fringe and then moves on. "The skull watches us all the time."

"The skull is dead, Sherlock," says John. He sounds like someone holding forth on the Tooth Fairy. "You do know that the skull is dead?"

Sherlock rolls his eyes. "Now who's being ridiculous." The question may or may not be addressed to the skull.

John inspects his flatmate's face. Whatever he sees there prompts him to set up shop in the space between Sherlock's chest and knees. A renegade curl has been making encroachments upon a pale eye; short fingers push it back, neutralising it. The only thing allowed to encroach upon Sherlock in John's presence is John.

"All right, what is it?" the army doctor asks. "You seem off."

Sherlock harrumphs.

"Don't harrumph me. I know you. You were doing all right, and now you've crashed. Too much…?" John waves his hands in front of his face to indicate furnishings in Sherlock's mind palace.

"Information," complains Sherlock, filling in the missing word. He says it the way someone else would say "bedbugs." "No, not even that. Mere sensory stimulation. There's nothing informative about a never-ending tide of idiocy. It's not signal, it's noise. It's constant, the universe is made of it, and I haven't deleted any of it in ten days, fourteen hours, and …" He stops to check his watch. "Thirty-two minutes."

John leans back against Sherlock's stomach. "Go on," he says.

Despite his mounting frustration, the detective registers the sensation of John's solidity against his abdominal muscles as pleasant.

"There's no order to it," says Sherlock. "It's pouring in, and I have no way to control it. Sometimes I can manage, but at the moment…"

"You feel like you're losing your mind," finishes John.

Sherlock nods emphatically. Sometimes he feels like whatever mind he has is being replaced, bit by bit, by the small, wheedling minds of others. "How is that the killer?" whines the Anderson in his brain. Honestly.

John places a kiss on top of Sherlock's head, then strokes the spot where his lips were, rubbing it in. "Welcome to life on earth, sweetheart. It's like that. Human beings are constantly bombarded by input, and most of us can't control it. Any of it. We certainly can't decide to forget it, the way you can. Have you ever heard, 'Don't think about a white bear?'"

Sherlock scrunches his eyes shut, checking to see if eyelids form an effective block against irrelevant quadrupeds. They don't. "Bears? Setting aside the issue of 'round and 'round the garden, what significance can they possibly have? I hope you don't expect me to become an expert on anything as inconducive to homicide as bears."

"I'm not talking about bears as a murder instrument, you numpty, I'm talking about bears as a thought experiment. Most people, if you tell us not to think of a white bear, we can't do it. Bears pop into our heads as soon as we hear the sentence, and the whole thing snowballs from there. We end up mildly obsessed with the buggers simply because we're trying to forget them."


"We get by all right."

Sherlock presses his thumbs into the inside corners of his eyes, but the colours and patterns and the blistering tedium that is the core of everything that isn't John or crime remain.

"The data," he says. "The constant avalanche of data. What on earth do you do with it?"

"We deal with it. We accept it. Sometimes," John admits, "we don't notice it. Or we forget it – not intentionally, just … naturally, although those are usually the things we want to remember." The sandy-haired man bends down to nuzzle his flatmate's neck. "I might forget, for example, which of your toes has the beauty mark on it."

Sherlock frowns. "It's a mole, John. The fact that it's not malignant doesn't make it aesthetic."

"It is aesthetic, you twonk. It's the most aesthetic toe in W1. Ask anyone. It's the Marilyn Monroe of toes."

"John. What are you doing? Let go of my foot." Sherlock's protestations are to no avail. In no time whatsoever, his flatmate has divested him of his left shoe and is busy tickling the arch of his foot through its sock.

Sherlock flails, and it's a near thing that he misses John's teeth.

"Tell me which one it is," John demands, grasping the second largest toe and wiggling it back and forth. "Is it this?"

"Argh! Yes! Let go of it!" John relents, and one by one, the detective's muscles unfurl. Oddly, he feels more relaxed than before the attack.

"It staggers the imagination," complains Sherlock, "that people think of me as the strange one."

John is busy wrestling off the other tightly laced shoe. "Yes, well. You've often said people aren't very observant."

"They aren't." Sherlock stamps at the armrest with his one shoeless foot. "No wonder they don't need memory management techniques. Virtually nothing seems to penetrate the average person's fog, so what on earth would they have to delete? Whereas I see everything, John. All of it. You have no idea."

"I live with you," says John. "I have some idea."

"I'm not sure you do. The input I'm subjected to – it's relentless. Anyone can say something monumentally stupid at any point, and if I don't get rid of it, it careens around the inside of my skull like a ball bearing in a pinball machine. Without the option to erase these things, I'm not in charge of my own head. I'm not sure I can even finish out the month. I want control back."

John studies Sherlock.

"Take off your socks," he says.

Sherlock does. It's only once they're both lying in a heap on the coffee table that he thinks to ask, "What was that?"

"That was you not being in charge," says the soldier. "All right, so you're overwhelmed. Did you feel the same when you got off coke?"

"John," the detective protests.

The army doctor is undeterred. "I didn't ask who your commanding officer was, I asked if you felt the same when you got off coke."


"Right, then. You're not losing your mind; you're gaining it. Let me remind you, you have the option of deleting. You're just choosing not to take it. This is an experiment, and it's one you came up with on your own, so you might as well suck it up and finish it."

Sherlock sighs. "I hardly think…"

"I know, love, but I do. All right, this doesn't feel like a good thing right now, but I assure you, it is. What you're going through isn't tissue death; it's growing pains. You deserve more, Sherlock. You have the right to be a whole person, and you'll never pull it off if you keep chucking out every experience that you don't like. But yeah, it's going to hurt. It's like exercising a weak muscle. You're being stretched in ways you're not used to."

"I rather thought that was you." Sherlock permits himself an ironic lip twitch two clicks short of a smile.

"Ha ha. Nice innuendo, and no, I don't want to hear anything about 'in' or 'you' or 'end.' You're not going to distract me from the issue at hand. You can't have control back. You never had it. You're just used to the illusion of it, because you delete everything that's not consistent with that illusion. Nobody's ever taught you how to deal with being at the mercy of the world around you."

Sherlock is no longer too tired to cock an eyebrow. "Is that one of your pick-up lines, Mister – excuse me, Doctor Three Continents? Because it needs work."

John shrugs. "I call it as I see it. Coping with a lack of control is a learnable skill. Do you think eighteen-year-olds from Surrey show up in Afghanistan with an inborn ability to function with bullets flying past their heads? Of course not. They learn to deal with it. The lucky ones, anyway."

Interesting. John is interesting. More so than bears and relatives and even crime scenes, and he has a tendency to make Sherlock's throat go dry.

"Are you proposing to offer me instruction?" asks Sherlock.

"I don't see anyone else here, do you?"

"No." Who else would there be? John's the only one who's ever stayed.

John rises to his feet and points from the shoulder. He's indicating the hallway. "Upstairs. Attic bedroom. Go."

Sometimes, when John's talking to him, Sherlock's ears start ringing slightly, as though a bomb's gone off. It's very difficult to say no to John when this happens. He goes.

Sherlock's been pacing in what used to be John's room for fifteen minutes before the other man walks in and closes the door behind him. The resulting click shouldn't make Sherlock feel penned in, but it does, and the hairs along the backs of his thighs prickle. He also notes that John's scent has changed in the intervening quarter of an hour.

Tea, Sherlock registers. The domineering bastard took the time to make himself a cup of tea, then drank it. He can smell it on him. He could probably taste it on him too, but John's not giving him his mouth.

"Sit down," John orders, clearly used to taking command. When Sherlock doesn't, his flatmate advances on him, backing him up against the bed. Out of surprise as much as anything, Sherlock topples backwards onto his own capacious arse.

This is new. Sixty-four percent of his previous commands have consisted of counterintuitive directives on social situations. "Smile at Greg for bringing you the hideous Christmas sweater, Sherlock." "Don't smile at the man with the rag full of chloroform, Sherlock."

None of these experiences have prepared the seated man for this level of bossiness when they're on a mattress. Of course, John's not on the mattress. Both of his feet are firmly on the floor.

"You seem bent on holding me captive for some reason," remarks the detective. "As your prisoner, don't I get something first? A safeword? A phone call to my lawyer? A cigarette?"

"Safeword," repeats John, bemused. He runs a territorial thumb over his partner's lower lip, pressing down on it, exposing the gums and teeth. Sherlock finds the gesture unsettlingly intimate. "So that's what you're into now. Safety."

The hour's getting late, and darkness is pawing at the windowpanes. Sherlock watches it pool in the cleft of John's chin. He shakes his head. "No."

John says nothing. He wedges his left foot between Sherlock's two and kicks his legs apart, then moves forward. Sherlock's pulse elevates slightly as John brushes against his inner thighs. He wants to move forward, but the soldier has a hand against his throat and is using it to guide his head back until their eyes meet. As he looks up, Sherlock wonders if John usually feels as he does now – vulnerable, transparent, open to scrutiny.

"There's two ways to do this," says John. His eyes are an unwavering navy, always the same uncomplicated colour, never this rushing around from hue to hue like Sherlock's. "There's complicated, and there's simple. Complicated involves equipment. Riding crop. Handcuffs. Rope. It's amazing the things we've got lying around."

Sherlock manages a tenuous smirk. "I'm well acquainted with those items, captain."

"That's why you're not getting any of that." John lets this sink in, then speaks softly against Sherlock's ear. It's not the softness of a lover; it's the softness of an M16 agent breaking down the defenses of an informant. "All you're getting," says John, "is me."

The air in the room feels like it's just dropped five degrees, so why is Sherlock's body heating up? He swallows weakly against his flatmate's firm palm. "This isn't …"

"Like me?" John gives a low chuckle. It's not especially soothing. "You know Harry drinks, so you think you know everything about me. How long have you known me?"

Not long, thinks Sherlock. Not long enough.

John's thumb gentles Sherlock's neck. "Let's get this straight. There are things about me you don't know, and parts of me you're not going to see every day. Not unless I think you need them."

He's killed people, thinks Sherlock. He's killed people for a living, and he's got his thumb against my carotid.

Sherlock thinks about telling John to stop.

Telling John to stop would be dull.

"All right," he says.

"All right, what?"

Sherlock leans back against the bed on his elbows, torso tilted up. "You drive."

Sherlock is aware that he's physically striking. He knows how darkness makes itself at home in his hollows – the dip under his zygomatic arch, the indentation of his philtrum, the concavity of his jugular notch. That effect should be especially strong right now, with one side of him bathed in apricot light from the lamp on the bedside table and the other side wreathed in smoky shadow. His soldier boyfriend should be comparing him favourably to a lunar eclipse over the Hindu Kush, all solitary radiance and strange, divided beauty.

If John gives a damn how pretty Sherlock is, he's not showing it.

"It would be very easy to gag you," he says. He gazes pointedly at yesterday's T-shirt, lying on his foot locker, then looks back at Sherlock. "You'd like that. It smells of me. I could stuff it in your mouth, and you'd taste it."

Sherlock's tongue makes a brief appearance, licking furtively against one of the corners where his lips meet. When he realises he's doing it, he retracts it. He can feel his pulse picking up speed, a fact that is doubtless being advertised against the thin skin of his long, white throat.

"But where's the challenge in that?" John asks. "Anyone can be quiet because they're physically restrained from making noise. What I expect from you tonight is your complete submission, and I expect it without physical coercion."

Sherlock goggles at this. Surely he has given John no reason to anticipate his full cooperation in this.

John raises his chin – of the two of us, he has the better chin; it's square and strong and brooks no argument – and issues his next order. "Unbutton your shirt."

No wonder they made a captain of him, thinks Sherlock. I'd have made him a bloody general. Uneasily, he does as he's told. His pupils must be the size of small moons by now.

"Open it," says John, as though the shirt were an envelope and Sherlock the letter.

Eyes fixed on his partner, Sherlock pulls the shirt apart, baring himself to John's steady gaze.

Does John like what he sees? he wonders. At this point in the proceedings, it's unusual for John not to be harping on about the deltas above Sherlock's clavicles, the indentation of his navel, the faint tiger stripes shadowing ribs eight through ten. Usually he likes how I look, but does he now?

Averting his eyes, Sherlock notes a dawn-coloured flush spreading over his pectorals. He moves to take off his shirt entirely.

John's voice is full of calm authority. "Did I tell you to take that off?"

Sherlock shakes his head.

"Then don't. You will do exactly what I tell you, and nothing else. Take off your belt."

Sherlock is mortified to note that his fingers, as he strips himself of this article of clothing, are clumsy with lust. He's off balance. John looks from the belt to the bed and back to Sherlock again. The slender man takes the hint. As he places the belt on the bed, he has the ludicrous sensation of putting down an ante in a poker game too rich for his blood. He realises, a bit late, that it's in exactly the spot John designated with his eyes.

"Unbutton your trousers."

Sherlock does. This time, instead of continuing to strip, he puts his hands on his thighs and waits with his hands fluttering like small birds. He's had to put the right hand significantly closer to his hip so as not to touch his own stirring maleness through the fabric. John hasn't given him leave to touch it.

"Turned on, aren't you?" says John. His voice isn't unkind, but it's not kind either. "Lick your right thumb."

Sherlock licks. He tilts his head back as he does it, his eyes mapping out territory between submission and defiance.

"Attitude," says John. "Let's see how much of it you have after you stroke your nipples for me."

Sherlock tries to say something, anything, but nothing comes out. With John watching, he runs his wet thumb over one nipple. It comes to a point instantly, a small pink arrowtip hard for his lover. Then he does the other. He's certain he looks debauched and wanton by now, but John makes no mention of his looks, not allowing Sherlock even that much power.

"Unzip," he says. "I'm not here to pay attention to your mind."

Long, pale fingers scrabble at the zip. Sherlock would like to right himself in his trousers, but he's uncertain about the consequences. How is it that his flatmate has him so whipped that he daren't put a hand on himself?

"Wearing pants today," observes the soldier, as part of Sherlock's body manages to make itself even more obvious inside his clothing. "You're at an angle, I see. Can't be comfortable."

Sherlock bites his lip. John leans back in his chair and studies a hematoma under one of his fingernails. A minute goes by, then two. The sandy-haired man seems to be under perfect control. Sherlock hears ragged breathing, then realises its his own.

John looks back at Sherlock, who has all he can do not to writhe on the bed. He takes him in from head to toe, lingering pointedly on his midsection.

"It's jammed halfway down your trouser leg. Does it hurt?"

Sherlock shifts uneasily, then nods.

"It's difficult for you, offering yourself up, isn't it? Get used to it."

Sherlock shivers. Is this something he's going to make me do on a regular basis?

"You're thinking too much. Trousers. Down."

With a small groan, Sherlock eases the waistband over his hips, then waits for the next directive.

"Did I say stop? Take them off. I want to see more of you."

Sherlock finishes pulling down his trousers, then steps gingerly out of them, being careful not to trip. If John wants him on his knees, he'll tell him.

"Come here."

Hesitantly, Sherlock walks the few steps to John's chair.

"Pretty," says John. "You do realise you're falling out of your pants?" He nods at Sherlock's erection, which is making its way out of the slit in his clothing.

Sherlock doesn't move, but he can feel his cheeks burning. Carnal urges. Embarrassment. Both.

John examines Sherlock against the soft, grey fabric of his boxer briefs. Sherlock can feel the ghost of his breath as he talks.

Touch me, John, I want you so badly, I ache for you, lick me, put your mouth on me please.

"You're slouching. Why are you bent over? Is there something you want down here? Stand up straight."

Sherlock bites off a low moan, then does as he's told. Moving back and forth has forced his hardness entirely out of its fabric prison. Naked and needy, it glistens at the tip.

"Don't you look nice," says John. "Pink and white like a birthday cake. I have my mobile on me. I ought to take a picture. Or maybe I should wait until you're completely retracted for me? Pull your balls out."

Sherlock adjusts himself.

"Shaved," comments John, looking at where his boyfriend is petal soft. "You do get bored, don't you?"

The question is not rhetorical. Sherlock nods.

"Some day, I'll make you shave for me everywhere. Easier to get you slippery that way, and I like you slippery. Pull your foreskin back. I want to see you dripping and ready for me."

183 men. Sherlock's had 183 men before this one, and none of them have made him feel this raw, this naked, this desperate, this alive. Slowly, he eases the skin back over the tender head, exposing it.

To his enormous shock, John takes his mobile out of his jeans pocket and actually takes a picture. Then he puts it back in his pocket.

"Interesting," says John, "the way your cock lines up with my lips when we're like this. It would be so easy to push yourself into my mouth. Is that what you're thinking about, me giving you head? Because I assure you, that's not happening." Sherlock's eyes flicker to the left in deference, but the organ in question twitches with need.

"You can look away," says John, "but you're going to have a difficult time convincing me you're not thinking about feeding me your dick when you're throbbing. How much does it grow in length when you're this keen? Three times its normal size? Four? Four, I should think."

John deliberately cranes his neck closer to Sherlock. Unable to help himself, Sherlock moves to meet him with his hips. Immediately, without there being any contact, John crosses his arms and leans back in his chair.

"Ah ah," he chastises. "Where do you think you're going? Did I tell you to fuck my mouth?"

Sherlock shakes his head miserably.

John stands up. "Lie down on the bed and spread your legs and think about how pushy you were. Don't touch yourself. I'll be back later."

Sherlock stares with amazement as John makes for the door.

"Oh, and Sherlock?"

The whirring in the detective's head comes to a complete stop.

"You can handle this," says John. A moment later, Sherlock hears his boyfriend open and shut the door to the street.

Sherlock moans in agony. Forty minutes have passed. His partner still isn't back, and he's been confronted the whole time with the sight of his own aching hardness twitching against his stomach as he lies on his back in a cloud of arousal and thinks of his lover.

Want, thinks Sherlock. Only it's less a thought than a message encoded in his heartbeat. Want John, want John, want John.

It's torture not to stroke himself. He's dying to take himself in hand and give himself over to thoughts of his boyfriend's lips, tongue, hands, sex. But John would know. John would smell it on him, satisfaction instead of urgency, and no amount of pleading, "I thought of you, of you only" would make him see reason. John would see, and John would not touch him, and his desperate heart would beat its verb-object combination in vain.

And so Sherlock waits, shirt unbuttoned, cock and balls obscenely presented to a man who isn't there.

At 19:04, John comes back. He smells of beer and other men's cigarettes.

He stands in the doorway, appraising Sherlock's offered body. "What would you say if I invited someone else back with me? Would you accept it?"

Sherlock tenses but doesn't argue. Whatever John wants.

John walks to the bed. "My, you do have a submissive streak. Coming right along, you are. In case you're wondering, I'm not going to share you. No one gets to touch you but me." He slips a proprietary hand between Sherlock's thighs, and the detective shudders for need of something more. Desire for tactile stimulation has left him half-mad.

"Still gagging for it," observes John. "You know, you wouldn't be in such a state if you'd asked me to fuck you during the case. You should have begged for it, Sherlock. You should have come to me on your hands and knees and pleaded for it while you still had the chance."

Sherlock mentally concedes the point.

"You like that idea, don't you? My cock in your arse. Me mounting you, using you for my own pleasure. Coming inside you. Does that get you hot?"

Sherlock nods. His lower lip is slightly swollen. He's been biting it for the last half hour.

"Get your legs further apart," says John. "It's the least you can do to welcome me home."

Compliance is swift. John climbs on top of the bed and kneels between Sherlock's parted limbs.

"Close your eyes. I'm going to touch you. Guess where. Don't tell me whether you're right or not. I'll know."

As Sherlock quickly finds out, the issue isn't so much where John's going to touch him, but how, and with what. He feels the proprietary touch of lips against his throat, right where his pulse is closest to the skin. Afterwards, he can tell John is settling back on his haunches, but he's unprepared for the sharp scrape of a fingernail across the arch of one foot. While he's still adjusting to that, a tongue swipes along the inside of his thigh. The sensation of John's head between his legs is both intimate and not intimate enough, because there's no attention being paid to his cock. Next there's John's hair, soft, unexpected, feather light against his torso. When teeth graze his nipple in the eyelid-imposed darkness, it's all he can do not to cry out.

"Unexpected sensory input isn't bad," observes the soldier. "You just need to learn how to take it."

Sherlock shudders with the strain of holding himself back, and John breathes into his ear.

"Can you do that for me, Sherlock? Can you take it?"

Eyes still closed, Sherlock nods frantically. YesJohnYesforyouYesalwaysYes .

John positions himself over Sherlock's body in a manner reminiscent of the sex act Sherlock tried to instigate on the pavement earlier that day. John's knees are on either side of Sherlock's shoulders, and his breath is warm against the taller man's shaft.

"Most of the systems of the body are designed to interact with things," says John. "The respiratory system craves oxygen. The digestive system craves food. But this?" John blows lightly on the tip. "This craves me. No wonder I'm fond of it. I look at you, and your pulse rate goes up. I kiss you, and you twitch in your pants. I fondle you, and you spring an extra half a foot of cock. You can't control it, and you can't hide it. This is how your body asks for permission to connect with mine."

Sherlock quietly throbs. Please, John.

John shifts on the bed. Eyes still shut, Sherlock hears the clink of his lover undoing his belt, then the thud of it falling to the floor. He can hear John manoeuvring his cock out of his jeans. Sherlock is aware of the musk of it just before the tip of it presses against his sensitive lips.

"Kiss it," says John.

Sherlock purses his lips. The kiss is chaste. If John had meant, "Suck it," he would have said as much.

"You feel like you want control?" says John. "You don't. You never have. I'm going to get off you now, and you're going to roll over."

Two hours ago, if John had told Sherlock, "I'm going to get off you," Sherlock would have demanded he say those words again in a different order. Now he simply rolls over, demanding nothing, offering everything. It's bliss.

Sherlock lies on the bed with his face pressed against the pillow. His weight is borne by his shoulders in the front, and by his knees in the back. John's worked the grey boxer-briefs off, and he's binding the prostrate man's hands behind him with the aforementioned T-shirt. His touch is rough, insistent.

"Ever used a spreader bar?"

Sherlock shakes his head.

"Cuffs at the knees; bar in between. Keeps your legs apart. Nice for beginners, but with you, it'd be redundant. I already know you'll spread for me."

Sherlock inclines his head, astonished that he missed all this. His desire for John is overwhelming – worse than the need for nicotine, worse than the need for coke. He wonders if he'll survive it.

There's the sound of gel squirting out of a bottle, and then his lover's chilly, lube-slicked index finger asserts itself against his rim.

"Beg for it," orders John.

Sherlock's voice is hoarse with disuse. "Please, John. I've been waiting so long. You have no idea how much I'm aching for it. I need you. Have me."

John starts working him open with his hand. "Tell me why you want me to fuck you, and maybe I will. You need me inside you to get off?"

Despite the gracelessness of the idiom, Sherlock feels like any number of things might get him off – John saying these utterly unhinged things to him, John looking at him, John being in the same room, John breathing in and out.

"I need you inside me to get you off. That's what I want; for you to take pleasure in me. I'll make it good for you, John, I promise. Fill me. Let me take care of you."

John Watson is nothing if not a brutal tease when he wants to be. He puts the tip in, and as soon as Sherlock gasps with gratitude, he removes it. He lets his erection come to rest on Sherlock's back, lets him feel the heft of it, runs it down the cleft of Sherlock's upturned arse.

"I don't need you to take care of me," says John, "and I don't need to be in you to get off. I could do it like this. I could push your cheeks together and rut against you, then come against your hole. You wouldn't be able to feel anything but the friction, and not where you want it. If you want me to fuck you, you'd better make a more convincing case."

Sherlock tries to explain. He can hear himself babbling now, going on about how it feels when John takes him.

Semen … it was used as ... invisible ink … World War I … every man a pen ... when you're in me it's like … writing yourself inside me with ink no one can see … you're deep, John, so deep … A breach in me all my life … a gap … it was for you ... a placeholder … somewhere for you to insert yourself once we finally met … you're in me further than anyone's ever gone … please John … need you … fuck me … be my centre … be the core of me

It's enough. "I love you too," says John, knuckles deep inside his boyfriend. "Hold still."

While it occurs to John that Sherlock would probably like him to come up with a new adjective, the fact remains that fucking Sherlock is magnificent.

John presses into his flatmate's willing, sensuous body, and it's fortunate for Mrs Hudson's nerves that they're doing this on the second floor, because Sherlock is yowling like a sex-starved cat. He seems to want it hard, and John obliges, pistoning into him with abandon. Sherlock pushes back against John in time with each thrust. He's so far gone now that he's pleading for things he already has, like an arseful of amorous flatmate.

"John, fuck me, please, take me, use me, fuck."

"I'm already fucking you," says John. "Hang on."

John knows Sherlock thinks of his own back end as some sort of cosmic joke. There he is, brain the size of a planet and a bum to match. Given the constraints of testosterone and caloric intake and Saxon heritage, there's no way it should be as plush or lush as it is, and there are times when the man actually seems to feel self-conscious about it. Which is why John finds himself saying, "God, you've got a beautiful arse" as he pushes into it again and again.

And now Sherlock is wriggling under him and speaking in tongues and begging John to make him sentient, which makes no sense whatsoever, because Sherlock is the most sentient person John has ever met in his life, but John says, "OK, I will, here you go, yes."

This is not how they usually do it. Usually, Sherlock has an unimpeded view of John's face.

It's a curious phenomenon that when one sense is compromised, another rises to the fore in order to compensate. Being face down, Sherlock can't see John, but he can certainly feel him. And this is what being rogered nine ways to Monday by the other half of his soul feels like.

It feels like being loved and known in all ways, some of them resoundingly Biblical.

It feels like being a variable in a differential equation that someone has finally made the effort to solve.

It feels like the friction of their bodies is causing some of John's electrons to be caught up by Sherlock's protons, and vice versa.

It feels like Sherlock's heart is trying to leave his body via his throat, such that John will have to catch it and pass it back to him, mouth to mouth, like the egg yolk in that Japanese film John made him watch.

It feels like being one of two very slippery, frantic puzzle pieces.

It feels like every chunk anyone ever took off Sherlock only served to make him a better fit for John's personality, John's body, John's infinite capacity for attachment.

It feels like redemption.

It feels like his head is coming loose and something moving at roughly 300,000 km per second is shooting out his fingertips.

It feels like John is the current, and he the conduit.

It feels like John has just bitten him on the back of the neck.

And now John's hand is wrapped around his beloved's prick, and he's murmuring, "Feel it, it's not too much, that's it, I told you you could handle it," but that depends on the definition of handling it, because as far as Sherlock can see, it's handling him. His nerve endings are turning to copper wire before the lightning of John's love, and he has no choice but to let this electricity enter him and seek the shortest pathways to ground: his fingers, his toes, his tongue, and godYespleaseYes his aching balls and oversensitive cock. The pleasure is crucifying.

"I love you," he gasps, just this side of coherent.

"Do you understand what you are to me?" says his partner. "Everything, Sherlock. Fucking everything."

The English language dissolves around them, leaving nothing on Sherlock's tongue except the name of his beloved, his lover, his love. As sensation binds them together, Sherlock cries out, aware of nothing but John pulsing inside him, writing his name so deeply inside his body that it can never be erased.

"How did you know I like that?"

"Like what, you beautiful, fucked-out angel? Getting your rocks off?"

"That," says Sherlock, looking over his own shoulder to where his hands are still bound.

"You would, wouldn't you," says John. He pulls out of Sherlock and unties him, then gently pushes him over onto his side.

"It's that obvious?"

"Of course it's obvious. Shirts."

Sherlock frowns. "What shirts?"

"Your shirts," specifies John. "First time I saw you, you were sauntering around in something that pinned your nipples flat. I thought maybe it had shrunk in the wash, but it's not one shirt, it's your whole wardrobe. Nobody wears clothing that tight unless they get off on it."


John turns off the light, then lies down behind Sherlock and pulls the blankets over both of them. He puts an arm around him and pulls him backwards, out of the wet spot. Sherlock heaves a contented sigh and goes boneless against him.

"Yeah, really. God knows it's not practical to wear things that inhibit range of motion in your line of work. You like it. The binding, the pressing, the sensation of being trapped. Also, you like showing off your body, and the tight shirts work with that fetish too. I'm surprised you don't go around kitted out in full PVC."

"It's impossible to find anyone in Savile Row who'll work with PVC."

They lie pressed against each other in the dark.

"That was … good," allows John. This line has become the centrepiece of his imitations of his flatmate.

"It was amazing," responds Sherlock.

"You're not deleting," says John, modestly. "The least I can do is give you something to remember."

I could grow old with you, thinks Sherlock, although he's not sure if the words are part of his own inner monologue or if he's just deduced them from John. I could give myself to you, mind and body both. I could live with you for the rest of my life and never want to forget a minute of it.

Sherlock looks back over his shoulder, but it's too dark to see his partner's expression.

"Did you say something?"

Sherlock means to say "No," but what comes out is "Not yet." He suspects John already knows how he feels, even without an explanatory halo of sans-serif fonts.

"Mmmhmm," says John, as if agreeing wholeheartedly to something his flatmate hasn't said. He licks a stripe up the back of Sherlock's neck, soothing the area where he bit him. "Sleep well, sugar crumpet."

Despite his usual insomnia, Sherlock knows for a fact that he will.

A/N: Out of gratitude for squeeworthy art by youcantsaymylastname, anarion, Atlin Merrick, and Ariane DeVere, as aided and abetted by Verity Burns, this is a homoerotic bonkfest. Thank you, ladies. The art masterpost on my LJ account (mirith) provides a link to your magnificence.

And so we come to the end of this story. Writing this has changed my life. I've met some fantastic women, some of whom I'll be seeing in the UK shortly, and I've taken great pleasure in the company of John, Sherlock, and – if you've ever commented or PM'd or favorited or even stuck me on alert – you. Thank you so much.

Extra big thanks to Atlin Merrick, snoopydance4me, the person whose house I almost blew up due to Nutella foil in the microwave, my exceedingly patient husband, AfroGeekGoddess, Anarion, Ariane DeVere, Calico Crow, Charm and Strange, crazyforcanines, Diane Duane, Evenlodes Friend, ghislainem70, harase2, inconcvbl, Jessamy Griffith, Ju Lara, lanselo2012, Luna Lin, maggie conagher, Maya Sushi, ongreenergrasses, pufftin (who continued to push for toppy!John) quirkies, random-nexus, Sherlocksupportgroup, Skyfullofstars, snarryfool, strangegibbon, thisisforyou, Thorn Wild, tsukinoblossom, uwsannajane, Verity Burns, and youcantsaymylastname.

All other thanks go to the extraordinary mightypog1854 pliefl, dancinggnome, CakeBook, Medea Talespinner, akatrixie, SailorChibi, Lady Ginger, Ceanen, Crown of Roses, Anne, Sunshine Through the Storm, blue feet, sana-chan9, s'lou, Jexi0322, Alice Day, murdoke, Everlasting Dawn of Eternity, JaguarCello, Xivida, WitchRavenFox, Illusionaryallure, Ophelia0123, General Button, Beatnik Freak, CryptoSquirrel, meredithriddle, Pilikia18, Creeper J, helenecolin, IamSHERlocked4ever, Justine Lark, Mr. CSI, drjamband, Lolita-mist, Sherlock'sScarf, IlritrattodiMrs Black, Raye Black, Corey5268, Nymphadora Andromeda Lupin (Dora), Bookwoman17NerdyMom (Beth), Jodi2011, Nunewesen, rhain572, Vivi Marius, Artemis Fortune, Wayoming, booda77, mattsloved1, E.V, bethbethbeth, thebookworm214 and on LJ, mustangwomant and imaginecoolname.