It's October, and the whole of London is sweating. Well, not the dogs. The dogs lie limply in the shade provided by the benches in Regent's Park, panting and too exhausted to bark. But everyone else – from the Queen's Guard in their scarlet wool tunics to the scantily dressed rentboys in South Berwick Street and the undercover detectives who pass among them – is awash in perspiration.
Everyone, that is, except John Watson. Returning home from work, John takes the stairs two at a time. He is fresh-faced and humming.
He flings open the door to the flat to find Sherlock draped over the sofa. His curly hair is damp and sticking to him, as is his dressing gown. His eyes are closed, as though his eyelids have wilted shut in the heat. Normally, he would be resting with his arms tight against his body, fingers interlaced like neurons to facilitate thought, but now his limbs are spread every which way in a vain attempt to dump excess warmth. He's not allowing the parts of his body to touch any more than they have to, lest he spontaneously combust.
"Hello, gorgeous," says John. He goes to his knees next to the sofa, then leans in towards Sherlock's red lips.
His flatmate's eyes snap open, and a single, wary eyebrow rises in salute. "What are you doing?"
"Sherlock, sometimes when an army doctor and a consulting detective love each other very, very much…"
"That's what I thought you were doing. It's not on."
"Please, love. I thought about you all the way home from the clinic." John presses against the furniture, trying to relieve the ache in his groin.
"I know. I could hear you humming Marvin Gaye in the hallway."
Popular music is not Sherlock's forte. John was shocked a month ago to discover that his flatmate does not know the words to "Happy Birthday."
"How is it," he asks, "that you recognise Marvin Gaye?"
"I'd best recognise it," Sherlock points out. "Any time you want me to bottom for you, you hum 'Let's Get It On.'"
John groans. The sound exudes one kind of hope and two kinds of frustration.
"I am not spreading my legs for you, John Watson. The A/C isn't working, possibly because I shot it. It's 30 degrees out, and hotter than that in. You're lucky I don't just kick you out right now for steaming up the flat with your abnormally high body temperature."
"I'll do anything you want," says John, his voice dropping to a suggestive moan. "I'll do that thing with the toffee sauce."
"The toffee sauce will have to wait. What I want is for you to get me that ice I asked for an hour ago."
"I see." Bemused, John shakes his head. "And when you asked for the ice, did you send me a text about it, or did you just speak the words aloud into the flat, knowing full well I was halfway across town?"
"I spoke. The mobile is all the way over by the window, and I didn't have you to get it for me."
"Lazy sod. All right, go hop in the shower and cool off. I'll be along with ice in a minute."
Sherlock lets out a huff of air. "I think not."
"What do you mean, you think not?"
"I mean, the two of us in the shower are a recipe for you getting a leg over, which in turn is a formula for me going up in a cloud of ash. You're 38 degrees when you're feeling healthy, and I'm 36. Talk to me in February."
"All right, if you won't have a shower, take off your clothes and go wait for me on the bed. I'll bring you the ice you asked for."
Sherlock makes no move except to roll his eyes.
"What?" protests the doctor. "You like it when I fetch things for you. It bolsters your innate sense of superiority. Don't you trust me?"
"Of course I don't. I know the unseasonable weather won't dissuade you from exercising your libido upon me. I don't think you even feel the heat, not after two years of wandering through Kandahar with a 25-kilogram rucksack on your back. Really, John. There's no telling what you'll get up to once I'm unclad and at your mercy, and I won't have it. It's too hot."
"All right. But as your doctor, it's my professional opinion that removal of clothing and application of ice could be key to mitigating your incipient hyperthermia."
"And as your patient, I'm telling you that if you try to get your 38-degree dick up me any time soon, I will drop you. See if I don't."
Rather than providing a quick demonstration of who, in a fight, would drop whom, John nods his assent. And with that, Sherlock sweeps off towards his bedroom. As he goes, his dressing gown slips from his pale, angular shoulders; gets stuck for a moment around his magnificent backside; then slides to the kitchen floor.
John is starting to notice that it is very hot in the flat indeed.
John arrives in the bedroom with a small cooler full of ice water and supplies, which he sets on the floor next to the bed. Sherlock, even without the benefit of clothes, takes up all available space. With his limbs flung to the four cardinal points, he looks like a drooping snow angel, or a pre-Raphaelite version of Vitruvian Man.
John strips down to his T-shirt and boxers, then heads off to the linen cupboard. When he comes back, his arms are laden with towels.
"Shove over," he says. Sherlock, all dark curls and petulance, flops over to one side, lets John cover the bedspread in fluffy white terry cloth, then flops back.
John reaches into the cooler and pulls out a damp flannel. Tenderly, he wipes his lover's forehead with it. Sherlock relaxes into John's care, lets him apply the cold cloth to his sharp cheekbones, his throat, his clavicles.
"Nice," murmurs Sherlock.
"I generally do take good care of you," says John. "When you let me."
"Mmm," says Sherlock. John dips the flannel into the ice water, then runs it from his charge's breastbone to his stomach. When the cloth reaches his navel, Sherlock sucks in sharply.
"Sorry, love." John applies more ice water to Sherlock's upper arms, his armpits (which, amazingly, are not ticklish), and his ribs. He gets close to Sherlock's sensitive nipples several times, but avoids them.
"Tease," says Sherlock. Although he fixes John with an accusatory glare, a smile tugs at his lips.
"Your rules," says John, firmly. "I wouldn't want to get you excited, would I?" He tends to Sherlock's chest again, lingering in the area of his rapidly beating heart.
"Devious," protests Sherlock. "Why didn't my mother warn me about devious men, John?" Despite lack of contact with the cloth, Sherlock's nipples peak into hardness.
John refreshes the flannel, then tends to Sherlock's legs. They are long and smooth-skinned and beautiful. John has a weakness for them, which is just as well, as most of Sherlock's body is comprised of leg. Bypassing his lover's cock, which is half-hard and stirring, he presses the dripping cloth to Sherlock's right thigh, then his left one. These spread slightly at his touch.
"Oh, God," mutters John. His forehead breaks out in a sweat that has nothing to do with climate.
"All right?" asks Sherlock. He props himself up on his elbows to watch.
"Never better," returns John. He does his best to ignore his erection, which is trying to make its way out of his shorts and into his flatmate. Sherlock extends no such courtesy. He does a slow stare from John's face to his tenting boxers to his face again.
"I'll bet," he says, as John, kneeling, hastens to apply the cloth to Sherlock's feet.
"Monkey toes," says John, fondly, tending to the right arch. Sherlock's toes wave and stretch, then clench when John hits a sensitive spot.
"Reflexology," says Sherlock, clearly making a mental note. "Results: inconclusive. Field for future study."
"Cooler yet?" John wants to know.
"Almost," says Sherlock.
"Good. I have something for you." John reaches into the ice water and takes out a piece of silk.
Sherlock prods it with a long, pale finger.
"Mulberry silk," he reports. "Excellent quality, natural indigo dye, hand-reeled. Momme weight: sixteen – a number which promises strength without sacrificing softness. Seventy-six centimeters in length. You could lash one of my wrists to the headboard with it, but your sense of aesthetics requires symmetry, and you always tie both my wrists if you're going to tie any. You could gag me with it, but you get off on my voice, so no. You could rub it over my cock, since you know I would enjoy the sensation, but at this stage of the game, I could conceivably say no, and you're determined to gentle me along until my saying no is not an option."
"Your saying no is always an option."
"Not if I'm begging for it, it's not."
John grins. "What's your conclusion?"
"Blindfold," says Sherlock, and he bends his long neck so that John can tie it in place. He lies back on the bed and waits, the very picture of obedience.
"Good boy," says John, his heart rate increasing. He produces a bottle from the cooler, then places a few drops from it on his fingertips.
"Mint," says Sherlock, as John applies it to the hollow at the base of his throat.
"Feel it evaporating off you?"
"Yes." Sherlock arches into John's touch. He tries to guess where John will apply the extract next. After a touch on the inside of his elbow leads to one on the underside of his wrist, he correctly deduces that one on the underside of his knee will lead to another on the inside of his ankle. But where did those two dabs sweeping up the insides of each thigh come from?
"You're not begging, you're just talking about begging. You don't get cock for meta-begging, not when you already told me you didn't want it."
Sherlock writhes. "But I'm ready."
"I'll tell you when you're ready," says John, his voice intimate and low. This is the dance between them; the soft, slow, sultry give-and-take that brings both of them to their knees on a daily basis.
Sherlock hears a slight rustling, and then John is on all fours over him. When Sherlock parts his lips, John joins him in an open kiss, then presses something into Sherlock's mouth with his tongue. It's a firm, frozen chocolate disk.
"Don't bite it until I say," John tells him. "Now roll over."
Mouth full of hard chocolate, Sherlock rolls.
"I promised you ice," says John. He takes an ice cube from the cooler, then drags it indolently along his lover's spine. It leaves a shining trail down Sherlock's back. As it melts, a single drop runs down the cleft of Sherlock's arse. Fascinated, John stares at the place where the damp trail disappears among the other man's curves. He can think of no medical reason why the thought of this small rivulet touching his lover so intimately makes him salivate, but it does. Sherlock shivers, the water cool and wet against his tender skin.
If I don't have him, thinks John, I will go mad. That's what it boils down to. Months have passed since they met, but when he sees Sherlock across a crowded room, his mouth still goes dry like the desert south of Garmsir, and his heart assaults his rib cage like a battering ram.
He could strip off entirely now, but Sherlock has a bit of a kink for clothing disparities. Mindful of this, John manoeuvers his dick through the slit in his boxers and drags it – hot, hard, and heavy – against his lover's tight backside.
Sherlock, understanding the silent entreaty, throws his head back and fairly bellows with incoherent need.
"That sounded ready," breathes John. He reaches down into the cooler, takes out the lube, and slicks himself up with it. Then he turns his attentions to his flatmate. Sherlock hitches up on his knees so that his back half is elevated and readily accessible to John's slippery fingers. John coaxes him open. Inside, he feels like wet silk.
"Relax for me, love," says John. Sherlock lets John touch him, and sobs gently when the pressure is good. Then John places the head of his cock against his lover's entrance.
"Do you want this?" he asks.
Sherlock moans and nods his head. He leans back against John, seeking connection.
"Then bite down," says John, and Sherlock's mouth explodes with mint as his partner enters him.
"Oh, John, please, yes," babbles Sherlock, free to speak again. Half of his face is pressing hard against the pillow, and the mark this leaves on his pale, impressionable skin will be visible tomorrow, but for now, he is not aware of anything but his lover moving rhythmically, inexorably, within his core.
"So tight," groans John. "This is all I've wanted all day, to be inside you like this." He reaches his hand around to service his partner's erection. Sherlock thrusts with abandon into the proffered fist.
"John, Johnny," he cries. John loves his brilliance, but also loves him when he's like this: body eager, mind offline, a slave to lust and his limbic system and his flatmate's leaking cock.
"Beautiful. So very fucking beautiful. You're just … look at you. I could come just watching you. How's the angle, love? You don't need to tell me; I'll find a good one for you, I promise." John experiments until the cant of his hips has his blindfolded lover clawing the sheets.
"I'm close, John, so close. Please fuck me; I need to feel you. Oh, God."
"Let go," says John, struggling to hold on. "You can let go. I've got you." And with a wild cry, Sherlock shudders and jerks in his partner's fist as the orgasm takes him apart. The torrent of sensation makes him clamp down around John's cock, and then John is done for – vision gone, ears roaring, his nerve endings developing an architecture of pleasure, his mouth constructing canticles to Sherlock and love, as the life pulses out of him and he is left spent and gasping and shattered and completely entangled in his bedmate, both of them casualties of something more searing than war.
Sherlock, now free of the blindfold, lies wrapped around his nominally dressed sweetheart.
"I forgot to say 'I love you,'" he says. "I was going to, but you made me come, and I forgot."
"S'all right, love. Go to sleep now."
"Let's go again. I'll remember this time."
"I can't do it again," groans John. "I'd love to, but I can't."
"Why not?" Sherlock wants to know.
"Because," says John, edging away. "It's just too bloody hot."
A/N: This fic, which commemorates London's hottest October day on record, is for all the wonderful women I met over the last couple of weeks in that city: Arista Holmes, Ariane DeVere, Marielikestodraw, Anarion, but most of all, Atlin Merrick, because she said, "London," and there I was.