Sherlock opened the door to 221B.
John put down his book and looked at him. "Hello, love. How'd it go with Mycroft?"
Sherlock paused before answering and looked thoughtful.
"No John, it's not like that. It went well. It just… wasn't what I was expecting."
John furrowed his brow and looked at his lover. "How so?"
"Well, I told him about the rules…"
John broke in. "If you don't mind me asking, what were the rules? I was never really clear on that…"
"I didn't have any, John. It was a bluff. I just wanted to be in control."
"Oh." John was painfully aware that control was probably the one thing Sherlock had lost in these proceedings.
"John, did you know how much Mycroft is into domination?"
"I suspected so, yes. Why?" Their interaction at the hotel had left him little doubt about that.
"He has an entire… playroom. He's been doing it for years. He told me something that, in hindsight, I should have realised, John. You've been telling me for weeks, but apparently I needed to hear it from him to really process it. Submission, ceding control - it quiets my mind, John. Even that first day at Greg's when my brain left for a while - I should have realised it then. I need it John; I need it to balance out the noise. The other night, and this afternoon, it's almost like I'm elsewhere."
John nodded, worried where this was going. Blood is thicker than water. Might as well just ask. "Does this change anything, Sherlock? Between us, I mean?"
Sherlock seemed to take in his pained expression then. "Oh, John - no. Of course it doesn't. I was hoping we could do more of it. My brother…" He trailed off, not sure what to say. "Greg is good for him, John."
"I know. And you're good for me, Sherlock."
"There's one thing, John."
"I don't think these can be classified as experiments anymore. I've found what makes me happy. You do. Submission does. The four of us together does. And so help me, I'll never live this down, but even Mycroft does."
"So you don't want to stop doing things with them?"
Sherlock smiled, warmly, even though his words were chiding. "Were you not listening, John? No, I don't want to stop. But now that I'm not trying to figure out what makes me work, I'll probably be able to relax about it quite a bit more."
John smiled and got up from his chair. He kissed Sherlock lightly on the way to the kitchen and got two glasses. He dug in the cupboard for the bottle of single malt Scotch Mycroft had given them. Pouring two small glasses, he handed one to Sherlock. "To successful experiments."
The glasses clinked softly as they touched.
"To successful experiments."
They both sipped the Scotch and curled up together on the settee.
A/N: This is the end of Experiments, but it's not, really. I still have many story ideas to explore. I did realise, however, that Sherlock's (at least initial) phase of self-discovery was complete. So, in many senses, the driving force of the story is done.
That being said, I plan on continuing the series with additional stories with the established relationships. These will not necessarily be linear in time and will focus mostly on group dynamics, specific kinks, non-standard pairings, and whatever else happens to turn me on at the time. I'm also aware that I owe you all at least one "group sex - two corset" chapter. Don't think I've forgotten about that. It will just be in the next series.
I didn't want these to turn into standard John/Sherlock and Mystrade stories. Other people write those much better than I do.
I will put "EXP:" in the titles of any subsequent stories in this series. On AO3, I will also link them to the series.
Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me in this. It turned out to be a much lengthier endeavour than I expected, and I've discovered a passion for writing in the process. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and commented – it's why I keep doing this. I never dreamed I'd get this much wonderful feedback.
I'd like to especially thank AtlinMerrick, IBegToDreamAndDiffer, random_nexus, TsukinoBlossom, Mirith Griffin, Deklava and ImAJammyDodger for their support of both this story and my mental health while I wrote it. And finally, I'd really like to thank AtlinMerrick for being The Great Instigator of this little project, even though she claims she wasn't.