Yeah, so I finally got around to updating this. The upcoming scenes kind of intimidated me, so I chickened out for what I guess has been around a year. But I've overcome my fright thanks to the support of a fellow writer, so, without further ado...

I can't believe him!

This is what John Watson wants to think as he downs his fourth mug of ale. The truth is, he can believe it. It's completely realistic that Sherlock would sacrifice a woman to prove himself right. He's never cared before, why should he change just because John has suddenly become aware of his feelings?

Why John still loves him, even now, is a different question entirely, and John decides to answer it by draining the remaining half-pint in his mug and setting it down loudly in front of him.

"I think you've had enough," says the bartender, snatching the glass as John wipes the froth from his upper lip.

"Bah," grunts John, making an embarrassing and feeble attempt to reach over the counter for his mug. "This…'s nothing. I'm from London, you should see how we handle our ale back there."

"I don't care where you're from," the bartender replies glaringly. "You're at your limit. Time for you to go."

John rises shakily from his barstool in a huff. "That ale is shit, anyway." He leaves the bar in as dramatic a way as possible, which, ultimately, isn't very effective considering he stumbles a few feet from the door.

He isn't drunk, not really, you never are until you forget the inevitable hangover the next morning. He can walk straight, or at least, straight enough, but he hails a cab anyway, mostly to avoid the disapproving stares from nosy New Englanders.

The cab ride is relaxing for the two minutes or so he's actually in the cab, after which time he realizes all he's carrying are British pounds and he's unceremoniously thrown back onto the street. Fortunately Irene's condo isn't far away. Unfortunately, the walk gives him time to fume.

The anger John feels as he walks up the winding street isn't directed towards Sherlock. Well, not for the most part, anyway. He's upset with himself for being attracted to a lunatic—a practically murderous lunatic, mind you—and for allowing himself to think that Sherlock might have changed. Don't make me into a hero, he'd said all that time ago, and John had never actually understood it until now. Sherlock is doing his job for himself, not for the good of the people, not for justice, and most certainly not for John.

This is John's last coherent thought, for as he wrenches Irene's door open and stumbles inside, he catches sight of something that wipes his mind momentarily clean.

Directly in front of him, looking incredibly out of place on the tiled floor, is a Jacuzzi tub. Sitting on the ledge is a bikini-clad Irene, looking cattily over at John, motioning for him to come over with a crimson talon. Next to her and up to his shoulders in bubbling water, is Sherlock.

A very naked Sherlock.

John's mouth falls open. Suddenly he feels very sober indeed.

"We were wondering when you'd come back," says Irene, running a finger along Sherlock's neckline. Sherlock gives a little groan; his eyes are dark, blown wide and glossy. "How do you like my bathing suit? I thought it a tad scant, but it's what the American girls are into these days, I suppose."

"What have you done to him?" John manages, trying very hard to focus on Sherlock's face and not elsewhere.

Irene wrinkles her nose playfully. "Dear me, Dr. Watson, you're not suggesting I've attempted something to turn our little battle in my favor, are you? I just thought Sherlock needed a bit of…relaxation. Had the tub rush delivered. Isn't modern technology wonderful?"

"You've drugged him!" says John exasperatedly. As if to agree, Sherlock's neck goes wobbly, leaving his head to bob slowly up and down. "Tell me what it is so I can fix him!"

"If he's drugged, he's done it himself," Irene replies, cocking her head to the side. She steps down from the tub and wraps a towel around her torso. "But he's been in there a long time, you might want to help him out. Wouldn't want him to boil, now, would you?"

John eyes her suspiciously as she slinks out of the room. She can't honestly be handing Sherlock to John in this state, can she? He's clearly disoriented; he'd probably consent to anything presently. She must be plotting something, he realizes.

Sherlock's faint moan from the Jacuzzi reminds him of the situation at hand.

"Ugggh," mutters the detective, bringing a hand to his face and rubbing at his temple. "John…"

As much as John doesn't want to admit it, Sherlock's voice is low and incredibly sexy right now. He has to get him out of there, and stat.

"I'm here, don't worry," he says softly, peering around and finding an extra white towel. Setting it at his feet, he positions himself beside Sherlock. The detective's exposed back would be pressing against John's midriff were they not separated by the wall of an oversized bathtub. "Do you, um…think you can get out by yourself?" he asks Sherlock delicately.

Sherlock shifts in the water slightly. With what looks like an immense amount of effort, he straightens his knees, slowly pushing himself upwards. As he begins to climb out of the tub, however, he stumbles, causing him to lurch forward unexpectedly. John manages to catch him around the waist, and Sherlock's arms end up around John's shoulders, clinging desperately for balance.

Sherlock's skin is warm and moist, and John quite enjoys the feeling of his own hands on either side of his thin waist, although he grabs the towel before he enjoys it too much. He wonders briefly if Sherlock would be offended if he put the towel on for him, but, with Sherlock's breath coming hot and fast on his shoulder, John can't really afford to listen to any protesting.

He ties the cloth Just above Sherlock's hips, which, admittedly doesn't cover anything but the vitals. Sherlock is just too damn tall.

"Okay," says John in a direct voice. "I don't know what she's done to you, but we need to get you upstairs, in bed. If this is going to work, you're going to have to move too. Think you're up for it?"

Sherlock grunts in what John assumes is agreement. With a tremendous amount of effort, Sherlock is hoisted, one leg at a time, over the edge of the tub, down the steps and onto the tiled floor. John worries that he might slip suddenly on the slick tiles, but the two somehow make it slowly over to the spiral staircase. The doctor makes a mental note to proceed leisurely up the stairs; he wouldn't want Sherlock getting any dizzier than he already is.

At around the third stair to the top, John feels Sherlock's body go horrifyingly stiff before relaxing and becoming even limper than before.

"John," Sherlock moans in a guttural tone. "John, it's too hot…" He begins pawing lamely at the towel around his waist.

"It's alright, Sherlock, there's just a bit more to go," John assures him, reinforcing the towel with his right hand. "There's just a few more-" He stops, suddenly aware of something stiffening under Sherlock's towel.

Sherlock is aroused, he recognizes. Shit.

It's all John can do to keep reminding himself it's the drugs, the drugs, the drugs are doing this to him. Don't you dare take advantage of him you insensitive arsehole.

Somehow, they make it to the bedroom, where Sherlock, without John's continued assistance, promptly collapses backwards onto the bed. His long limbs are splayed in every direction, skin pink from heat and brighter still with the contrast of white sheets. The towel settles itself conveniently across Sherlock's thighs, tenting distractingly in the middle.

"Uh," John says stupidly, standing over the erect detective and realizing he has no idea what to do. "Erm, I suppose you should sleep off this drug now, so I'll just, ah…" He turns to leave.

"Stay," whimpers Sherlock desperately. "John, I want-"

"You don't know what you want in this state, Sherlock," he responds.

Sherlock's head lifts ever so slightly, eyes glazed but oddly focused on John. "Touch me. John, I need…"

Touch me, John repeats in his head a thousand times, and the words go straight to his groin. He needs to get out of there before he does something he regrets. "Goodnight," he says briskly, and without looking back, he practically races out of the room, shutting the door loudly behind him.

Outside in the hall, the doctor slides down the wall, exhausted. That was too close, he realizes, much too close. By now he himself is hard, his member straining against the fly of his pants. John hates himself as he unzips his trousers and slips a hand under the waistband, hates himself so much but he needs this more than anything right now. He finds a rhythm in Sherlock's cries, or at least he imagines one, and strokes himself, quietly, like when he was in the army sharing a tent with ten other men and he didn't want anyone to hear. When he finishes, releasing himself inside of his boxers, Sherlock is sleeping, or maybe just silent.

It takes Sherlock a few moments to remember why he's naked.

When he does remember, the memories come back in pieces of hazy images or muffled sound. John getting mad. John leaving. Drugs. Irene. Jacuzzi. John coming back smelling like the pub. John's body, cradling him to his room, John's body, so like that of a soldier, hot and strong and protective. John refusing him.

John refusing him.

Sherlock has to play the moment over in his head several times before coming to the conclusion that yes, in fact, John Watson did reject his invitation for sex. Strange, he thinks, for he's fairly certain that John is very definitely attracted to him. The post-encounter masturbation confirms this. Sherlock had heard John's heated, shallow breaths from outside the room, despite his (pathetically poor) attempts to muffle them.

But no, John had left the room and voided Sherlock's hypothesis completely. Humans, thinks Sherlock angrily. Always complicated where they should be simple.

Sherlock is human, though. He'd come to that conclusion a few days ago, regardless of how disgusting it was. And sex is a part of being human.

Sherlock's experience with sex has always been clinical, an experiment rather than an act of pleasure. Back in Uni he'd had his pick, both of men and woman, and he had tested various theories with numerous classmates in order to gather as much data as possible. He mentally recorded the feeling of a slick mouth on his own, of fingers, slender or rough, curling around his cock, of thrusting into a hot body or being thrust into. It wasn't all that unpleasant, he concluded, but certainly not necessary or desirable.

And yet, with John, the idea didn't seem to bother him. He knew the effects of the drug he'd taken the night before, knew it was a powerful aphrodisiac, and yet he'd been okay with the consequences if John couldn't contain himself. How odd.

He rises from the bed and pulls on his boxers. Sherlock doesn't understand why John is the exception to so many of his rules. He doesn't understand why he's so keen on finding out. And Sherlock hates not understanding things.

But the answer can wait. He knows John's not going anywhere, a fact Sherlock confirms when he exits the room fully dressed, only to find one John Watson, still sleeping outside his door, a peaceful expression lilting across his face.

When he sees John's face, Sherlock smiles, although he doesn't know why.

"Coffee, now," mutters John forcefully, stumbling into the kitchen with a massive hangover. He's in his robe but Irene, who stands before him offering him a mug, is fully dressed in a slim black dress and a walking jacket.

"Morning to you too, doctor," she says cattily, handing John his coffee. "You might want to put on a bit more. Sherlock's given us an assignment."

The mention of Sherlock's name causes John to remember the night before, and he finds himself attempting to think of anything other than Sherlock's (wet soft pink hot) body lying exposed and needy before him. He feels blood rushing to his face, and immediately downs the entirety of his coffee in a weak attempt to disguise it.

"Feeling a little hot and bothered?" Irene purrs into his ear. John visibly twitches.

"No, of course not," he says, more flustered than he would have liked. "I'm just infuriated that he's asking for favors after what happened yesterday. Does he honestly think I'm going to help him?" Irene shoots him a look. "Actually, don't answer that. What's he want, anyway?"

"We're to go investigate Camilla's bank," she replies, brandishing Camilla's wallet with a flourish. "Sherlock seems to think I look enough like her, and we've got her card, so we should have no trouble getting into her safety deposit box. I don't know what he expects will be there, but, as you know, there are lives in the balance."

"Sherlock doesn't seem to care," John fumes.

Irene lays a hand on his shoulder, looking at him with a mixture of sympathy and amusement. "He tried his best, John, I know he did."

"If he'd tried his best, Eileen Shrew would still be alive," John scowls, turning and storming upstairs to get dressed.

Irene picks up John's mug from the counter, running her thumb over the Seed Records logo before placing it in the sink. "Well, that's certainly true."

There is nothing in Camilla's safety deposit box.

Sherlock was fairly sure of this fact much earlier, but his need to satisfy that tiny iota of doubt, combined with the need to get Irene and John out of the house, made this the perfect mission to send them on.

He watches the two of them emerge from the bank from behind a newspaper on a distant bench. Even from this far away, Sherlock can hear John's moans of frustration. He is likely still mad at Sherlock, and the detective is bothered by this fact for a reason he can't quite say. Although reluctant to admit having any thoughts akin to a smitten schoolgirl, Sherlock does seem to seek John's approval exclusively. Inconvenient, maybe, dull, certainly, but undeniably true.


John continues to curse about Sherlock's ignorance and the lack of progress with the case when Irene leads him down a back alley, just as he had texted her to do a minute ago. Sure enough, a moment later Sherlock spots, as predicted, the second of Camilla's gray-suited bodyguards, trailing a few yards behind them.

Acting quickly, the detective dramatically folds his newspaper and shoves it into a nearby trash bin before tailing the gray suit silently. In a few moments the four of them—John, Irene and their two followers—have reached a quite abandoned area. Realizing his moment has come, Camilla's bodyguard makes a quick lunge. Irene and John turn around in just enough time to see Sherlock conking him on the head with the palm of his hand.

The gray suit swings round and makes a mad dash toward Sherlock, who easily sidesteps him and strikes him in the back of the knees. He stumbles in pain and falls forward, cracking his head on an old dumpster, and lays still.

"Should have known better than to take a shortcut," says Irene, winking at Sherlock. "This sort of thing always happens."

Sherlock is oddly restless during the cab ride home, constantly twiddling his thumbs or shuffling his legs. When they get back to the house, he herds John and Irene into the kitchen, looking at both of them rather seriously before speaking.

"John," he says gravely, turning to the doctor. "I need you to promise you'll stay with Irene at all times from now on."


"Just promise, John!" Sherlock says loudly. "I was there this time, but what happens when I'm not? Someone needs to protect-"

"You were there, weren't you," John says suspiciously, and when Sherlock averts his eyes, something clicks. "I don't believe this," says John exasperatedly. "I actually thought you might have just been in the right place at the right time. Good god, what's wrong with me."

"John, I-"

"Irene and I really don't mean anything to you, do we? You were willing to let that woman die to prove your point, and now you're sending us off to do useless errands to prove another one. Brilliant, Sherlock. Good to know you're prepared to send the only people who tolerate you out into your crime battlefield!"

Sherlock swallows and looks at the ground a bit, as if carefully thinking over his next few words.

"I had to be sure about the bodyguards," he says in a low voice. "Remember earlier, I said they probably wouldn't target me? Well now I'm positive they're not going after me. Camilla's trying to punish me by attacking someone important to me. I need you to stay with Irene, John, now promise-"

"I promise," John cuts across him with an empty tone. "I'll protect her. But only because you clearly don't have enough respect for human life to be bothered to do it yourself."

"Oh for god's sake," says Sherlock, rolling his eyes and pulling out his mobile. "Is Eileen Shrew really so important to you?"

"It's not about that," says John confrontationally. "It's because you just let her—are you seriously texting right now? Unbelievable! You utter bastard, I cannot comprehend-"

"Sherlock?" says a timid voice from the doorframe. "What did you need?"

Standing in the doorway is a vaguely familiar looking woman with long brown hair. She's clearly just come from the bath, as she's wearing a fluffy blue robe and soft white slippers.

"Eileen, John, John, Eileen," says Sherlock matter-of-factly. "I have a date now, I'll be going."

Grabbing a small satchel containing his makeup and women's clothing, Sherlock promptly exits. John stares at Eileen standing there surreally.

"Oh," she exclaims with a spark of recognition, "I remember you from yesterday! It's a pleasure to-"

"You're dead," he says lamely.

"He greeted me like that last time too," chuckles Irene. "I suppose it's how he flirts."

"Mr. Holmes didn't fill you in, then?" says Eileen, and John's blank stare is enough to confirm it. "After he sent you away to get coffee, he told me he knew about the death threat, and that he knew someone who could help me if I met with him later that afternoon. I'm not sure why—and I have no idea how he knew about everything—but I trusted him. I went to the address he gave me an hour later and a strange man met me there and said he'd arrange everything. Weird guy. Carried an umbrella even though the forecast said it wouldn't rain. He brought me here. I'm not supposed to leave for a little while, apparently. Have to keep things under wraps, I guess. He let me call my husband but to everyone else I'm officially dead, y'know?"

"Welcome to the club," says Irene jokingly.

John opens his mouth, closes it, opens it again and closes it once more.

"Sherlock…saved you?" he says finally.

"Not just me," Eileen smiles. "The entire company! Mr. Holmes claims he's going to deal with the blackmailer once and for all. Again, I'm not sure why, but I believe him."

"Y-yes," says John, stuttering slightly. "Yes, I believe he will too. Irene, if you'll just come with me for a moment…"

John wastes no time in seizing Irene's hand and dragging her to the staircase. "John, what are you doing?" she asks, having a difficult time matching John's pace in stilettos. John says nothing, instead going faster until they both are practically sprinting down the hall. John bypasses his own room, heading instead into Irene's and pushing her down onto the white duvet.

She watches him from below, not afraid but rather amused at his sudden actions. She's about to make some catty remark, but then she looks into John's eyes—they're wide and shaking and angry and wet, like there's an equal chance of him yelling or crying. When John speaks, his voice is shaking, too.

"Why does he do these things? He's so horrible one minute and the next he's just so…damn it all!"

John bites his lip. Irene slides a hand up to cup the side of his face, making circles with her thumb by his ear.

"Doctor Watson," she whispers coyly. "I do believe you need one of my remedies now."

Placing a hand on either of John's shoulders, Irene hoists herself up and slides her mouth against his, breathing deeply. John gasps a little, and she takes advantage of his slightly opened mouth to run the tip of her tongue along his bottom lip. He yields. Having been granted entry, Irene flits her tongue around the inside of John's mouth, feeling his teeth against her lip slightly.

It's another moment before John reciprocates, but when he does their embrace becomes suddenly more intense. John rocks back and forth slightly, pulsating his kisses, full and heady and then suddenly feather light. Without losing contact, Irene breaks her hands from John's face and replaces them on his shirt collar, fiercely undoing the buttons. John stops only to help hoist her dress over her head, leaving her hair messy and sprawled out under her.

John looks into her eyes—clear and calm and blue—and steadily trails his gaze downwards where Irene's breasts are suspended in their holster.

"Nothing you haven't seen before, right?" she says slyly, sitting up and bringing John's hands to her back to unhook her bra.

Her breasts are lovely, John knows from experience, milk white and full, with dainty, rose-colored nipples. They spill out onto her chest, so perfectly round, and John raises a hand to touch them before putting it down again, recognizing a sudden and very present hollowness in his chest.

Irene's eyes flash. "Oh, I see."

Quickly, she tears a strip of cloth from her bed sheet and ties it around John's head, covering his eyes. She slides two fingers up John's bare chest and leans her mouth by his ear, saying in a low, gruff voice:


The reaction is immediate and drastic. John's whole body tenses and then relaxes, his already pink cheeks flushing a more obvious hue. His hands cling desperately to Irene's waist as he lets out a sigh that Irene finds terribly erotic.

She says again, "John," and then a third time. "John."

John lets out a low hiss and pulls Irene to his chest, burying his face in the space between her neck and shoulder. His body is hot against hers, and she responds by planting kisses starting from his jawline and trailing down to his navel.

Sherlock, John tries to say, but it just comes out as "Shhhh…"

If you're wondering where the Johnlock is, I promise it's coming. I just needed something to show how desperate John was, and Irene was the perfect outlet since she understands his feelings so well. Stick around! Next chapter will (theoretically) have actual smex.