Locard, Donovan, and Lestrade were also unharmed by the blast, and when the paramedics arrive—along with the what seems to be the full force of the Met, which pinpointed their location by virtue of the rather extensive explosion—they have no injuries to treat.

The only other person present in the surgery is beyond their help.

Where Moriarty and Moran had been standing, only a single body is present: burned far beyond the point where visual identification would be possible and further destroyed by the caving in of the surgery's roof, some ten minutes after the explosion.

Sherlock watches from the ambulance as the paramedics remove the remains, another one of those ridiculous shock blankets draped about him. The sun is only just rising, and the world is awash in a grey light that will soon turn golden.

John bumps his shoulder from where he sits next to him in a matching blanket. "Try not to think about it."

Sherlock retaliates with a gentle kick to his friend's leg. "Try not to think about what?"

"About the uncertainty of body identification. I know that's what you're worrying about."

That is precisely what Sherlock had been pondering. "There may be some DNA that is salvageable," he responds, playing an oddly optimistic devil's advocate.

"There may," John allows. "But then you'll point out that DNA is only as good as the sample you have to compare it to, and what information on Moriarty can we really trust anyway?" He shrugs at Sherlock's raised eyebrow. "I know how you think, Sherlock. But I'm telling you, it's best not to think about it. You'll just drive yourself crazy wondering if he's still alive."

Sherlock looks back toward the wrecked building. John hasn't mentioned the destruction of his place of employment, but Sherlock is assuming John will soon be seeking another position. Provided he can get anything approximating a positive reference, of course, which Sherlock highly doubts. He is not overly familiar with working for others, but it is his understanding that the destruction of capital investments by employees is rather frowned upon.

"What if he is still out there?" Sherlock asks, giving voice to the fear that had sprouted in the back of his mind at the first record of the single corpse. He worries the edge of the hideous orange blanket.

John catches Sherlock's hand in his own. "Then we'll fight him and beat him. Again." John is smiling gently. "I assume at some point, he'll get the hint. Or we'll kill him. Either way," he adds with a yawn, pillowing his head on Sherlock's shoulder. "Let's deal with it tomorrow."

Sherlock shifts so John's head rests more comfortably. "Tomorrow," he agrees.

He spends the rest of the time he's sequestered to the ambulance watching London wake around them.

Locard stops by Baker Street briefly before he returns to Lyons.

He is greeted enthusiastically by Mrs Hudson, who insists on loading his luggage with butter cookies in thanks for all his help 'keeping Sherlock from doing himself in.' Gladstone, who takes to him immediately, sniffs joyfully at his knees every time the agent moves, and Locard responds each time by gentling rubbing the dog's ears.

It really is nauseating.

"Monsieur, I wanted to thank you again for your timely actions," Locard tells Sherlock when they are momentarily free of Mrs Hudson, who has departed with John to walk Gladstone in the park. "They were extremely brave."

"They are nothing you need to thank me for," Sherlock replies, unsure of how to respond to the nonchalantly delivered praise. "I was trying to save myself as well. It wasn't entirely noble."

"You were trying to save us all," Locard corrects. "And you succeeded. Interpol would do well to have a man like you in our ranks."

"Not interested," Sherlock says immediately. The thought of the bureaucracy alone makes him shudder.

Locard smiles at his reaction. "No, perhaps not. And perhaps it is for the best, as well. It would be a disservice to remove you from the team that suits you so well."

Sherlock almost chokes on his tea. "Locard, I'm a private consulting detective. I work alone. There is no 'team.'"

The agent nods solemnly, but he makes no effort to hide the amusement in his eyes. "Ah, of course, I misspoke. Please think no more of it. Instead, tell me of the research you have currently set in the kitchen there. It has application for forensics, no?"

When John and Mrs Hudson return, they are both caught up in finishing—at last—the experiment that had been necessarily placed on hold. Locard is invited to stay for dinner, which he declines with regret and polite apologies as he leaves to catch his train.

It is another hour yet before Mrs Hudson leaves for the night, and Sherlock is alone with his lover for the first time in almost a week.

Things progress quickly.

John touches Sherlock gently, mindful of the bruises which are just beginning to paint their evidence across his back and torso. His fingers lay lightly on the detective's hips, but his lips attack Sherlock's with a passion that provides an (enjoyable) outlet to the fear of the past few days.

When the heat between them has progressed to a point where a more horizontal surface would be preferable, Sherlock pulls his mouth away from his friend's and pants. "Bed?"

John murmurs an agreement into Sherlock's neck, and Sherlock shivers. "My room?" he asks, glad that the passion from their activities hides whatever tentativeness may be present in the question. John has never given any indication that he'd be comfortable in Sherlock's bed, and for him to presume to ask…

But John is smiling and nodding, and then he's standing and pulling Sherlock with him, and before Sherlock knows it, they're in Sherlock's room, on Sherlock's bed, and there's no hesitation at all.

"Why," Sherlock asks, arching his neck as John leans down to kiss it. "Why haven't we ever done this in here before?"

"Hmm?" John sounds distracted, and Sherlock pulls his hair. "Oww. What?"

"Why haven't we ever made love in my bed?" Sherlock asks him calmly, giving no indication of his own thrill at the use of the phrase.

John blinks down at him from where he's propped up above Sherlock's chest. "I was waiting for you to invite me in here. I know how important your space is to you."

Sherlock stares up at him for a moment before reaching out a hand to cup the back of John's head and bring him back down. "That's a good answer," he says to John's lips. John hums in agreement, which tickles delightfully and sparks another form of communication entirely.

Sherlock takes his time baring John's skin, revelling in each square inch individually as it is uncovered, and John seems likewise inspired by Sherlock's. By the time they are both fully undressed, they are trembling with need, hands pawing at one another without finesse but with a great deal of enthusiasm.

John places warm, callused hands on Sherlock's sides as he leans down to lick a stripe up Sherlock's collarbone. Sherlock arches into the touch automatically, and when he lies back down on the bed, John's hands move to catch his lower half. His lover's hands are gentle, massaging the flesh and lightly brushing over the pale skin.

Then one of the gentle, questioning fingers drops lower, and Sherlock gasps.

John stops immediately. "Are you alright?" His voice is taut, and Sherlock realizes that John is just as unsure with the implication of his finger's movement as Sherlock.

"I'm fine," Sherlock reassures him, shifting his legs to bracket them around John's hips. "Please continue."

John doesn't move. "Are you sure?" he asks Sherlock cautiously.

"Yes," Sherlock says emphatically. He's a bit nervous, it's true, but he's certainly thought about this enough. He was wondering John would ever indicate an interest, unless…"Unless you don't want to?" he asks John, and this time there is no hiding the insecurity.

John leans down to nip at his lips. "Of course I want to, Sherlock. Jesus Christ. But, well, it's your first time, right? With all of this." John's gesture to the both of them presumably encompasses 'all of this.' "And I didn't want you to feel pressured to do something, anything, before you were ready…Why are you looking at me like that?"

Sherlock sits up and kisses John—stupid, wonderful John—as ardently as he can. "I'm sure," he says after he's satisfied he's expressed himself. "Get on with it, please."

John lets out a breathless, somewhat nervous laugh. "It figures you would be pushy about this too. Do you have anything…?"

Sherlock slaps a bottle of lotion into his hand and follows it up with a condom. "Well?" he asks, heart pounding furiously.

In response, John leans down and kisses Sherlock again, one hand running through his hair and the other lightly squeezing his hip, until the detective relaxes against him. Sherlock has always enjoyed kissing John—can't get enough of it, really—and so when John finally does uncap the bottle to squeeze some lotion onto his hand, Sherlock hardly notices.

When the finger returns, slick now, and more purposeful in its movements, he can't stop a sudden, indrawn breath.

"It's alright. I've got you," John murmurs, and Sherlock forces his body to relax. When the touch comes again, he is prepared for it, and does not tense.

"Good. That's good," John says as he kisses him before adding a second finger. It's slightly uncomfortable, a light burn in a place that is unused to sensation, but then John grabs Sherlock's erection—slightly flagging, but still present—with his free hand, and the detective forgets the intrusion in the golden haze of pleasure that grips him.

The third finger is worse, and Sherlock shifts uncomfortably, despite John's steady attention to the rest of him.

John waits patiently as Sherlock breathes (though Sherlock can tell that it costs his lover no little amount of self-restraint, if the trembling of his arms is any indication), and after a few minutes, Sherlock's body relaxes.

"Are you ready?" John asks him quietly, and Sherlock nods. When this does not appear to be enough, he verbalizes it as well.

"Yes, I'm ready," he says. John shifts him gently onto his side with Sherlock helping as much as he is able, though his body has suddenly become loose and stupid with John's ministrations, so in the end, he is mostly a hindrance.

The first slow push that John makes into him makes Sherlock tense up immediately. It hurts, and even though he knew it would, even though he was expecting it, it is his body's automatic reaction to clamp down and put a stop to whatever is causing him pain.

"It's okay," John says, stroking Sherlock's hair back from his sweaty face. "It's okay. Take your time. Just breathe."

Breathing helps, and matching his breathing to John's helps even more. Sherlock can feel his own heartbeat—faster than it should be, but that's hardly surprising—and it forms a complex counter-rhythm to the sound of their breaths as they lie together.

When Sherlock is as relaxed as he is going to get, John pushes in further. He continues in this fashion—it feels as though it takes hours, though in reality it is probably no more than five minutes—until he is fully inside, and the pain begins to fade.

John's breathing has sped up with every progressive inch, so Sherlock begins following his own rhythm instead, tracing John's hands where they rest on Sherlock's stomach with his fingers to distract himself until his body adjusts.

And it does adjust, as Sherlock had known it would. Every aspect of his life has arranged itself to welcome John into it, and he knew—when he allowed himself to truly imagine this moment—that his body would be no different.

"Are you…ready?" John breathes, the breath warm on Sherlock's ear. Sherlock has barely nodded before his lover is moving: pulling slowly backward and then returning, a low, sweet groan escaping his throat and twisting—metaphorically—around Sherlock's chest.

When the next thrust comes, it collides with something in Sherlock that makes the stars in the sky outside shine clear through the ceiling of their flat.

Sherlock realizes distantly that he shouted, is continuing to shout, and that John is speaking over him, a constant litany of breathy words. "It's okay, it's alright, you're alright. I'm here. I've got you. Sherlock. Sherlock."

Their movements speed up, though neither of them is in any place to try to draw this out, and Sherlock doesn't even bother trying.

John reaches again for Sherlock's erection, and Sherlock takes the opportunity to dip his head back and nip his lover's neck when the golden flesh is within reach.

John curses as he comes, and his hand tightens, and then Sherlock is coming as well, John's warm arms around him the only things preventing him from flying straight up to join those stars that are so inexplicably in his bedroom.

When he comes back to himself, he is turned on his back, looking up—with what is no doubt a rather stupid expression—Into the flushed face of his lover. John is watching him with something like awe, his hand gently brushing Sherlock's face and hair, and his is so bright, so soft, that Sherlock has to close his eyes and kiss him before he flies away again.


It ends with a phone call from Mycroft.

This time Sherlock answers the first call. Locard's assistance on his analysis the day before has brought the experiment to a place that allows him to pause temporarily for a conversation.

And, though he is unlikely to admit it, he is curious to know the outcome of his brother's experience with international travel.

"Still alive, then?" Mycroft asks. His voice is tired, but he sounds…relaxed. More relaxed than Sherlock can remember hearing him in his recent memory.

"Don't be obvious," Sherlock reprimands. "You've been receiving updates from your underlings for the past week. You know perfectly well how the situation played out."

Mycroft doesn't deny it. "It is so much more preferable to hear the outcome from one who was actually present, don't you think?"

"You'll manage," Sherlock says dismissively as he sits down on the sofa. Gladstone immediately rushes to push behind his knees, and he reaches down to pet the dog absently. "And how was Morocco? I hear the bird watching is lovely."

"Sherlock, I've repeatedly told you not to hack into my email."

Sherlock is offended. "Mycroft, please, I can read. I saw the paper this morning. And you always benefit from my security analysis of your servers. If anything, I should be charging you."

The animal's fur, as riotous as it is, is surprisingly soft and springy, and Sherlock allows himself a moment of quiet pleasure as he leans back on the sofa. The dog looks up at him somewhat mournfully, and he shifts to allow it to jump up beside him, a warm ball against his side.

"Sherlock?" his brother questions. "Is this a bad time?"

"No, no," Sherlock says, stifling a yawn as he stretches out more comfortably. "I was picturing you in a djellaba and had to pause a moment to collect myself."

"Don't be ridiculous," Mycroft says stiffly. He pauses. "A bernousse was all that was required."

Sherlock grins, more at the idea of Mycroft attempting to be humorous than at the joke—such as it was—itself.

"I am glad that you're safe," his brother says abruptly, and Sherlock's eyes widen slightly. It is unlike Mycroft to be so overt.

"Did you ingest hashish?" Sherlock asks him suspiciously.

Mycroft sighs. "Don't be tiresome."

"You've never shown concern for my wellbeing before." There are steps on the flat stairs, and Gladstone's ears perk up.

Sherlock can almost hear his brother's raised eyebrow. "If you believe that, then you clearly haven't been paying attention." It's a fair point, and Sherlock drops the line of conversation.

Across the room, John takes the last step down the stairs. His hair is rucked up on one side, and he stumbles slightly as he rubs the sleep from his eyes.

The smile he gives Sherlock when he sees him lying on the sofa is brilliant.

"Sherlock, shall I call again at a different time?" The voice is rather muted, and Sherlock realizes he's unknowingly pulled the phone away from his ear. He replaces it.

"Whatever for?" he asks Mycroft, eyes trained on John as his friend walks toward him.

"At the moment you sound…distracted," Mycroft says. He sounds mystified, which is absolutely lovely, and Sherlock knows he will enjoy remembering this moment.

Sometime later.

"Mm, no, just happy," Sherlock says before ending the call and reaching for John.


More Notes!

The canon stories used in this story were (in order of appearance): The Adventure of the Priory School, The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual, and The Man with the Twisted Lip.

While Agent Locard was created for this story, his name, appearance, and origin are in reference to Dr. Edmond Locard, a pioneer in forensic science.