Chapter 6: Breathe

Although still recovering from the devastation of Sherlock's mouth, John shifts his weight until he is lying on top of the man, then collapses there. Two years in a combat zone are not enough to prevent him from giggling in a very non-military way.

"John? Is something amusing?"

John props himself up on his elbows and studies the man under him. Sherlock is naked and still hard against John's thigh and shatteringly beautiful. Not, in this light, beautiful like women, but like an ice storm, when the bones of the trees are covered in sharpness.

John grins. "No. It's just … you're extraordinary. Did you just stick a finger in my arse? Expertly? On our first date?"

"Yes, well. The evidence would suggest that you enjoyed it."

"Fuck me, yes, I did. Very much." John shivers, thinking of the way Sherlock was drinking him down just minutes ago. "It's just that … you're terrifying. The way you took me apart just now, when we'd barely even kissed. You have no boundaries and no concept of personal space and if it weren't for your willingness to be touched, I'd say you had Asperger's. You're unstoppable."

"And that frightens you, captain?" Sherlock's mouth skews right. He's been addressing John by rank at odd times lately, and John can't help but think his flatmate is developing a squaddie kink.

"You're going to have to try harder than that, civilian. I love it."

"Mmm. I said 'danger…'"

"Yeah. And here I am." John grinds his hips against his lover's naked body to demonstrate.

"Yes, I'm perfectly aware of where you are, John," says Sherlock, grinding back. "Anyway, that wasn't our first date. Our first date was Angelo's."

"This again? That wasn't a date, it was a study in cock block. Plus a stakeout for a homicidal cabbie. Whom I later shot, thank you very much, so that greater London could continue to rejoice in your quite glorious arse."

Sherlock groans. "John. Your vocabulary is tragic. If this is what five years of medical school and a lifetime worth of crap telly do for a person's grasp of basic anatomical terms, I despair. Also, the line drawn between date and stakeout is arbitrary. You like danger, I like danger: what's the difference?"

"I'll show you the bloody difference," grits John. He licks a trail from the base of Sherlock's throat to the mark left by his own teeth earlier in the evening. "Let's go. How do you want me?"

Sherlock pats the bed an arm's length away. "Off."

John freezes, then dismounts. "I'm sorry. Did you not want anything for yourself?"

Oh, God. I should have known this was coming. He's willing to get me off, but it's a problem if I want to reciprocate? Did he even want to touch me?

Sherlock must be able to read his lover's horrified look, because he rolls his eyes. "Don't take it that way. Just sit."

"All right." John isn't certain what he's in for, but he's willing to give it a go. He staggers down towards the end of the bed on his knees and comes to rest facing his partner. Sherlock slinks towards him, and John thinks, not for the first time, of all things feline and predatory.

"Legs outstretched," Sherlock specifies. When John complies, Sherlock slips an impatient hand between his thighs. "Apart."

John gives Sherlock what he hopes is a wry, knowing stare, then, leaning back on his hands, slowly, deliberately spreads his legs.

Best to give him some attitude, or God knows what liberties he'll take. I mean, he'll take them anyway, but …

"Relax," says Sherlock. His expression is that of a man who is not remotely fooled. "I can assure you this is not about prostate milking."

John sputters. "You've only just learned the solar system, and you're already familiar with obscure sexual practises? How do you even know the words 'prostate milking?'"

Sherlock studies him. "In some part of your mind, you think I'm a virgin."

John tries again. "It's just that, up until today, I thought you were … I don't know, asexual? I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that you've had a boyfriend."

I wonder if Julien taught him to suck cock like sex on two legs? Because somebody did. For the first time, John is feeling well disposed towards Julien.

"The term you're looking for is not 'boyfriend.' It's 'sexual partner.' And how would you evaluate my interests now? Do I look asexual?"

Sherlock maneuvers himself into the space John has created, and drapes his long legs over John's. The two of them sit facing each other, closer than an arm's length apart, limbs entwined. Sherlock, who still hasn't got off, is completely hard. There's no point in trotting out the shopworn cliché about whether he's happy to see John or not. Clearly, he is delighted.

"You look … breath-taking," says John, fervently. "And delicious. And magnificent. And insane."

John's tongue forces its way between his own lips. A number of circumstances make the doctor this lingual: Sherlock lying on the sofa; Sherlock wearing tight jeans; Sherlock glaring at a test tube or prodding something in the fridge, for God's sake. It's not a surprise that Sherlock, naked and willing and aroused and ready, elicits the tongue salute with a passion. John's tongue is practically erect for him.

The detective stretches out a limber arm and, without turning to look, opens the top drawer of the bedside table behind him. He produces a small bottle of colorless, viscous liquid.

John eyes it with skepticism. "Knowing you, this is probably nitroglycerine."

"Lubricant," corrects Sherlock. "Any combustibility on its part is purely figurative." He takes his lover by the wrist and pours some of it into the captive palm.

"Touch me, John," he says, and the world slows down, as if these words are a gunshot.

Nngh. His voice. His fucking voice. It's like being jacked off into a piece of velvet. How am I supposed to keep breathing when this is his normal speaking voice?

John's blood doesn't know which part of him to flood most strongly with heat, his face or his already well-cared-for cock. With the world's only consulting detective draped over him and cooing like a wet dream, it's anybody's guess as to which end of John will get circulation first. He takes a deep breath, rubs his palms together, reaches between Sherlock's legs and slicks him. It's the first time he's touched another man like this. Sherlock moans, and the sound goes through John like lightning through a dry oak.

"Oh God," says John. "Sherlock…"

Sherlock says nothing, just spreads his thighs wider to allow John more access. He's searingly gorgeous like this. Desire has turned his body to rose marble, milk-white and stained pink wherever he aches and needs: nipples, lips, and cock. His pulse hammers out a staccato in his neck, bruised at the site of the love bite. John strokes him, gentles him, runs a teasing thumb over his slit. He doesn't know what Sherlock likes, so he does the things that he enjoys himself, then watches for a reaction. Apparently everything he's doing feels good, because Sherlock looks at him with so much naked desire that it's all John can do not to push him over and impale himself on his hardness.

Under normal conditions, Sherlock's eyes are a puzzle. His irises are shot through with a mercurial iridescence, like tourmaline and lunaria pods and the shining wings of insects in summer. John's never bothered to voice an opinion on what colour they are, because they're typically many colours at once. Arousal takes care of that. Irises pale as the crescent moon sliver into nothingness, leaving only an unequivocal black. He's utterly transformed, and he makes John's breath catch in his throat.

"Why are you panting?" Sherlock gasps. "I'm the one with … guh … a highly talented and insistent hand on his prick."

"Why do you think?" groans John. "You excite me, that's why. Mirror neurons. I have them, and they make me feel what you feel. So the fact that you're rock-hard and gasping and I'm finally getting to really touch you is … it's turning me on so much it hurts." And it really does hurt, although it also fills him with pleasure. Touching Sherlock, John's nerves ache and sing.

Sherlock looks at his lover with a mixture of curiosity and lust. "You feel what I feel?"

Of course. Although he's attentive to workings of his brain, he's focused on hard drive management, not empathy. His amateur neurology only goes so far.

"Yeah," says John, rubbing his thumb against the sensitive underside of Sherlock's glans. "I'm pretty sure I do. Yes."

"Well, then." Sherlock flashes John a dazed smile. "You'd best get me off, hadn't you?"

"Ohhhh, yes."

John strokes Sherlock's swollen sex with his left hand. He's touched his flatmate so often in dreams that Sherlock's length feels natural and good and right against his fingers, his thumb, his palm. Still stroking, he uses his other hand to caress the sharp edge of a cheekbone, then moves down to explore the skin over the carotid artery. He places his hand over Sherlock's heart and presses against the strong pulse there. He's not used to having a partner who is flat-chested, but he is thinking he could get used to it very quickly, if quickly means right now. He ducks his head to lick Sherlock's nipple, and is rewarded with instant hardness against his tongue.

"There's something you like about doing … that," Sherlock says, his breath hitching. John can tell from the tone of his voice that he's not being arch; he's going over the facts.

"Yeah. It's dark pink and it gets erect when I touch it, so it reminds me of something else." John tugs harder at Sherlock's firm cock to demonstrate.

Sherlock bites back a moan. "Interesting. You find it … metaphorical. You're getting off on metaphor."

"I'm getting off on you, you ridiculously hot man." John tugs at Sherlock's nipple with his right index finger and thumb, and Sherlock cries out and bows his head until it's resting on John's shoulder.

"Sherlock, are you … oh, fuuuuuuck, you are, aren't you? You're watching me touch you. Oh, God, God. That's just…" John rests his head on Sherlock's shoulder, so that he can watch too. Now their seated bodies are steepled together like a pair of hands, and the two of them look down at where Sherlock is hard and twitching in John's fist.

Sherlock lied; he is a fractal. Everything is slender and fine – his throat, his fingers, his legs, his arms, and now this, his weeping cock. Everything is of a piece, harmonious.

And yet. If John lifts his head, and looks down Sherlock's white back, he can see a tangle of raised scars there.

The lines are sharp and clear. Claw marks? They don't run parallel, so no. Too precise and thin to be knife wounds. Made with a razor blade? Yes. Evenly distributed, not just on the left shoulder, where his dominant arm can reach, so not self-inflicted, unlike the track marks on the inside of his left elbow. The pale colour of the scars suggests this happened a long time ago. Shit. Who did this to him?

"John," says Sherlock. "Stay with me." So John snaps himself out of it, puts the scars aside, and just feels. He touches his lover and finds him slick and fine-grained and smooth and taut, like wet silk stretched over a drumhead.

"Oh, God," murmurs John. "You're so … oh, fuck, you're exquisite. How can you be this beautiful? I…"

No. Not going to tell him I love him right now. Shit, I love him; I actually love him. Can't let him know. It'll scare him off and I can't lose him; I can't not be with him.

He puts both hands on Sherlock's cock now. He uses the top hand to pull up slightly on his partner's foreskin, so that it rubs against the glossy, exposed head. Instantly, Sherlock's breathing goes shallow. His hands fly up to John's shoulders and anchor themselves there.

Sherlock is moaning and babbling now. "John; Johnny; mine; sweet John; don't stop, keep going, don't stop."

John looks into eyes the colours of rain and night and sees things he's not used to seeing. Vulnerability. Desperation. Sherlock's sac is hard and tight against his body, and release can't be far off. John uses his lower hand to cup his partner's balls, while his top hand makes love to the shaft.

"Please," begs Sherlock. "Oh…"

John's hands are nimble and sure. "What do you want? I'll give you anything. Just say it."

Sherlock bites his lower lip. "Breathe into me."

"What? How? I'll do it, just tell me how."

"Your mouth. Suck in air through you nose and … fuck … breathe out through your mouth. Breathe into me. I want to breathe your breath."

What? Is this a thing? Is this a sexual practise? Maybe it's just kissing. Fuck it; whatever he wants, he's getting. Yes, hang on, I'm here for you, I'll do it, yes, let me.

John places his partner in a liplock, then does exactly what Sherlock asked of him. He breathes into his partner's mouth, and Sherlock swallows it. John feels the rush of departing air as his lover sucks his breath into his own body. He's letting the carbon dioxide render him dizzy, letting the scarce oxygen permeate his tissues, and the knowledge of this is making John as crazy as the feeling of Sherlock's tongue, frantic in John's mouth. His hands are scrabbling at John's shoulders, and now he's thrusting into John's hands, spilling over them like a waterfall as the orgasm takes him, pleading, "John, oh John, John." John swallows words like wine, and they become part of him, inexorable, undeniable, as his lover falls apart in his hands.

A/N: Oh, my. I feel a little faint myself. All thanks go to snoopydance4me, AfroGeekGoddess, Atlin Merrick, drjamband, annabelleaurelius, inconcvbl, thisisforyou, Charm and Strange, TheLadyLilith, helenecolin, FYSlytherin, Thorn Wild, random-nexus, verityburns (sweet, merciful God: verityburns), Ariane, krisascini, and bookloverforeverandever. If there are spelling mistakes here, they are all mine, because I didn't get to send this to my beta before my self-imposed deadline. I'm in London and I've had eight hours sleep total over the last two nights and there may have been a twelve-hour walk that included the Holmes Museum yesterday and I am flying. Nitrous oxide would be a comedown right about now. Not that I'm recommending that. No, just stay up full of adrenaline and fly.

I'm going to angst this thing down to the ground next chapter, so if you're not up for that, this is a good place to stop.