No Means No

Warning: This contains rape (at the very least dub-con) and mentions of the sexual abuse of a child.

"It's just a party!"

"I don't want to go."

John sighed, staring in exasperation at his sulking housemate, who was, at that moment, lying on the sofa, tossing a bouncy ball from hand to hand.

"It's a Christmas party!" He tried, crouching down next to Sherlock.

"And why should that make any difference?" Sherlock asked.

"You like Christmas." John said. "It's the one time of year, other than at murder scenes, where we get to see you actually enjoying yourself."

"That doesn't explain why you so desperately want me to go to a party hosted by Anderson's new assistant."

"Look," John said. "You actually get on quite well with the bloke. You say he counteracts some of the stupid oozing out of Anderson. So at least if you go there will be someone other than me and Lestrade for you to talk to."

"Ok." Sherlock said, sitting up and swinging his legs around to face John. "That is your justification for why this should be the party I elect to go to. You still haven't told me why you are so desperate for me to go to a party at all."

John hesitated, staring thoughtfully into Sherlock's steely eyes.

"We only had one Christmas together." He whispered after a moment. "One brilliant Christmas where you ate mince pies and played Carols for us and we all enjoyed ourselves, and it was the best Christmas of my life. And then you died. Those three Christmases after that were filled with nothing but pain, and grief, and, sometimes, the wish that I'd jumped off that building right alongside you. I just couldn't stop comparing them with that one brilliant day, and it hurt." John's voice broke, and he cleared his throat, only breaking eye contact for a second. "So yes, I want to see you come to this Christmas party. I want to see you drink, and eat mince pies, and throw acidic comments around about who Donovan's sleeping with now. I want to see it be Christmas with you alive and well and just as… just as you as ever. I want the proof that I won't have to leave that party and set my alarm clock to buy flowers to take to your grave in the morning."

Sherlock stared, guilt as readable on his face as if it had been written in permanent marker. "Ok." He said, slipping the ball into his pocket. "I'd best go and get dressed."

John stood up, smiling widely. "Thank you, Sherlock." He said with a smile. "Although… the party isn't for another six hours."

Sherlock froze, rolled his eyes, and lay back on the sofa again, pulling the ball back out of his pocket, and starting again, tossing it hand to hand.

"Why am I here again?" Sherlock muttered to John, taking another very large sip of his vodka and coke.

"For me." John said with a smile. "You know, pain, grieving, flowers on an empty grave, remember?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes, before turning to John with a smirk. "It wasn't empty."

"What?" John asked, freezing with his glass held to his lips. "Who was in there then?"

"Moriarty." Sherlock said, grinning at John with a wicked gleam in his eyes. "That was Moriarty's grave you were laying flowers on."

"You're a git." John told him bluntly. "An absolute Grade A git."

"Why's he a git now?" Lestrade asked, coming over and pushing another glass into Sherlock's hands to replace the one he had just emptied.

"It was bloody Moriarty!" John exclaimed, waving his drink around wildly. "This dick just stood there and watched me while I laid bloody flowers on Moriarty's grave every day!"

"Jesus, Sherlock!" Lestrade snorted, watching as Sherlock drained his glass in one. "That's just bad! And don't you think you've had enough."

"I'm making up for lost time." Sherlock responded with a slightly drunken smile. "I couldn't risk drinking when I was away – I still had you two on speed dial. And besides… Anderson just walked into the room."

Sherlock got steadily drunker as the night went on, until his thoughts were pleasantly muted and the world around him was slightly off kilter, swaying around him. John was off talking to Lestrade and Donovan, so Sherlock was just pouring himself another drink when the host, Shaun Wallace, Anderson's new assistant, made his way over to him.

"Sherlock!" He said happily, flinging an arm around the detective's shoulders. "Mind if I borrow you for a moment? You can bring your drink."

"Alright." Sherlock said, staggering slightly as he followed the other man.

Sherlock grimaced as he followed Shaun up the stairs. The swaying of the room had progressed from pleasantly swaying to spinning nauseatingly, and he was starting to think that filling his previous drink with almost as much gin as tonic hadn't been the best idea for a man who hadn't drank for more than three years.

"Here we are." Shaun said, leading Sherlock into a bedroom and closing the door.

Sherlock turned and watched as the other man slowly approached him, his drunken mind focusing, for some reason, focusing on the way the dim eco-friendly light bulb in the room made his dark blond hair appear almost brown.

He continued to stare as Shaun reached up and cupped his face, pulling his head closer to kiss him firmly on the lips. Sherlock froze for a moment, his mind completely blank, before he automatically started kissing back. It was… nice. It had been so long since he had last been kissed. Since before he had first met John. When a man went from secretly lusting after his flatmate, to desperately in love with his flatmate, to faking his own death to protect said flatmate, and then onto desperately in love with and secretly lusting after his flatmate, it was rather difficult to want to kiss anybody, let alone actually get around to kissing them. With the alcohol, though, it was surprisingly easy to just go with the flow.

Sherlock pulled away, shaking his head slightly when Shaun started to pull him towards the bed.

"Relax." Shaun laughed, tugging on Sherlock's wrist until he sat down beside him on top of the duvet. "It's just kissing."

Sherlock hesitated, thinking for a moment before shrugging. Just kissing couldn't hurt, after all.

Shaun kissed like a man possessed, all tongue and teeth and not gentle at all. It was uncoordinated – Sherlock was really very drunk and there was a smudge of something white on the edge of Shaun's left nostril that said a lot about his mental state – so Sherlock found it quite difficult to just let go and enjoy the kiss. After a moment, he felt Shaun's hand trailing down his thigh, and he pulled away, shaking his head.

"I don't want to." He said, trying to focus through the alcohol just enough to show that he was serious.

"Ok." Shaun said, taking his hand away and pushing his fingers back into Sherlock's hair. "We can just go back to what we were doing."

Sherlock thought for a second. If he just spent a few more minutes kissing, maybe then they could go back downstairs – he really was quite thirsty. Licking his lips in an attempt to moisten his dry mouth, he nodded, and Shaun leaned in again.

It was quite surprising, Sherlock thought vaguely, how having somebody's wet tongue licking its way around your mouth could do so little to make you not feel thirsty. Shaun's tongue felt almost dangerously wet in his mouth, but it was doing absolutely nothing to make his own tongue more so. These thoughts were derailed, though, when he felt fingers teasing their way across his chest to undo the top buttons of his shirt.

"No." Sherlock said, pulling away. "I don't want to do anything else."

"Sorry." Shaun said, glancing down and then looking back up apologetically. "You just have the most gorgeous neck. Can I just kiss your neck? Please?"

Maybe then, Sherlock thought, maybe if he just allowed this one more thing, he'd finally be able to leave. This has long since stopped being a mildly pleasant kiss and had instead become something quite uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

Sherlock nodded, and Shaun immediately latched himself onto Sherlock's throat, licking and sucking his way down his jugular to his collar bones.

When Shaun once again began unbuttoning Sherlock's shirt, the world suddenly snapped from drunkenly blurred to alarmingly clear. Shaun was nibbling and licking at his collar bones, rubbing his hands over his suddenly bare chest. Sherlock wanted to push him away but found that, even though his mind was now frighteningly clear, his body was still very much drunk, weak and uncoordinated thanks to the alcohol still flooding through his blood.

"No." He said weakly, scrambling feebly at Shaun's shoulders, cringing as he felt his body involuntarily responding slightly to the stimuli.

"Just relax." Shaun whispered, not looking up from where he was now kissing his way down Sherlock's chest. "It'll be good."

And suddenly, Sherlock was ten years old again, protesting weakly, terrified, against somebody so much older and stronger than he was. It had hurt then, the more he struggled or argued, and he had learned very quickly that it was just easier if he just handed over whatever was demanded without a fight.

"Fine." Sherlock sighed, closing his eyes as Shaun grinned and jumped up to kiss him hard on the mouth. After all, what was the point of saying no if he was just going to make him do it anyway?

It didn't take long at all for Shaun to get Sherlock naked, and before he knew it, he was lying with his face buried in a pillow, grimacing against the burn – too soon, not enough preparation by far – as Shaun pushed his way in.

After, Sherlock lay silently under the duvet, watching as Shaun dressed.

"See." Shaun told him as he buttoned up his shirt. "I told you it'd be great."

"Yeah." Sherlock replied half-heartedly, surreptitiously smearing some of the mess from between his thighs across his own stomach before climbing out from under the duvet. "It was great."

He made a bit of a show of wiping his stomach clean – people tended to get offended or angry if they thought their performance wasn't up to scratch – before starting to pull on his own clothes.

"I'll see you later." Shaun said, smiling at him, before walking out of the room.

"Yeah." Sherlock muttered to the now empty room. "I suppose you will."

"I want to go home." Sherlock said, grabbing John by the arm and pulling him towards the front door. "Now."

"What?" John asked, turning to Lestrade. "Why?"

"I just want to go home." Sherlock snapped. "Do I need a reason?"

"Sherlock?" Lestrade asked, following them out of the house and into the street. "What happened? You're white as a sheet."

"Nothing happened." Sherlock replied, reaching into Lestrade's jacket pocket and pulling out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. "Why does something need to have happened for me to want to go home?"

"It doesn't." John said hesitantly, watching with a furrowed brow as Sherlock took a desperate drag of his stolen cigarette and placed the pack and lighter into his own coat pocket. "It's just sudden, that's all."

"Yes, well…" Sherlock sighed. "I suddenly want to go home."

It was fine, Sherlock told himself, once they had managed to shake off Lestrade and started to walk off to find a taxi. He would just go on like nothing had ever happened. It was stupid. He shouldn't have slept with him. People made mistakes like that every day. Nothing whatsoever to worry about.

As he watched John hail a cab, though, he couldn't help remember the feeling of panic and absolute helplessness he had experienced right before he had admitted defeat and agreed to it, and how that hadn't felt like nothing to worry about at all.

Sherlock was fine for more than three weeks, even finding the courage to kiss John the night after the party (it was only partly as a way to prove to himself that he was still capable of being attracted to anybody). In fact, there were several more kisses after that, and Sherlock continued to be fine, right up until the next time they had to go into Scotland Yard.

They had, the night before, solved a case involving the death of an online businessman who, in his autopsy, had displayed no detectable cause of death. Sherlock had been extremely distracted throughout the case, owing to Shaun's presence at the morgue, and so had nearly missed the mention of nitroglycerin in the victim's medical records which had eventually turned out to be the cause of death (the man had been taking the drug to treat a heart condition and his wife, upon learning of his affair with her sister, had slipped extra into his Spaghetti Bolognese, causing him to overdose).

Now, Sherlock and John had been summoned to Scotland Yard to deliver their report. They were walking through the large open plan office towards Lestrade's own office when Donovan's voice rang out.

"Hello, Freak." She said, sauntering up to him with a smirk. "I heard something very interesting about you this morning."

"Oh really?" Sherlock prompted, disinterested. "Do surprise me then. It's so rare that you have anything interesting to say. Have I abducted more children?"

"Rumour has it you shagged Shaun at his Christmas party."

Sherlock froze, staring in horror as the room suddenly fell silent.

"What?" He said, only vaguely registering his disgust at asking somebody to repeat themselves.

"You." Sally went on, grinning widely. "And Shaun. At his party. Getting it on!"

"Sherlock?" John asked, turning to face his… friend? Partner? Boyfriend? "Is she serious? You shagged some bloke the day before you came onto me?"

"I didn't want to!" Sherlock blurted out before he could stop himself. "I didn't…"

Nobody spoke for a moment. John looked briefly away from Sherlock, his eyes meeting Lestrade's in a moment of silent communication. Even Sally's face had dropped.

"What do you mean you didn't want to?" John asked, stepping closer.

"I shouldn't have drunk so much after all those years without." Sherlock went on, his voice filled with panic. "He kissed me and I… I kissed him back. I said no, but he kept pushing, so, in the end, I just... gave in. I didn't want to, John! I just wanted a glass of water!"

"Sherlock…" Lestrade said, his face filled with concern. "Are you saying he raped you?"

"No." Sherlock said, irritated. "I told you, I agreed in the end. It was unpleasant, and I only agreed to it to get it over and done with, since it was clearly going to happen whether I agreed to it or not, but he didn't really hurt me or hold me down."

"Christ." Lestrade said, rubbing a hand over his face. "Of course. You would think…" He froze, looking around the room. "Sherlock, John, Sally, in my office. Now."

Sherlock glanced at John's face as they walked into the office, frowning at the ashen colour and the tear-filled eyes.

"Right, Sherlock." Lestrade said, closing his office door behind him and sitting down on the edge of his desk, facing the consulting detective. "Listen to me. I know your history, I know you're… God, I don't believe I'm saying this… I know you're used to so much worse."

"Of course I am." Sherlock said with a snarl, closing his eyes at the knowledge that this secret was suddenly no longer a secret. "I know what rape is. I experienced it often enough as a child. And that's how I know that this wasn't rape!"

"What made what happened to you as a child rape?" Lestrade asked, looking for all the world as though he was merely curious.

"Well, he held me down." Sherlock said bluntly. "He hit me and restrained me and… and forced me even when I was kicking and screaming."

"So as far as you're concerned it's the use of force that makes it rape?" Lestrade asked.

Sherlock nodded, turning to John for support and feeling his mouth go dry when all he found was the doctor shaking his head sadly.

"You're wrong." Lestrade said. "It's the use of the word 'no' that makes it rape."

"John?" Sherlock asked, turning desperately to his partner. "What…?"

"How did you feel?" John asked him, taking his hand and stroking his knuckles soothingly. "When Shaun was… when it was happening? What were you thinking?"

"Sick." Sherlock replied. "Panicked. I pretended to come so that he would finish sooner, but it didn't seem to work. I wanted you or Lestrade or even Anderson to interrupt so that he would stop. I'd thought it would be better to just agree because he was going to force me whether I wanted to or… oh God."

Sherlock slumped down into a seat, raising a hand to his mouth as a wave of nausea rolled over him with the realisation. It was exactly how he had felt, all those years ago, when he had silently prayed that Mycroft would come and rescue him.

"Sally." Lestrade said hoarsely. "I want you to go down to forensics and arrest PC Wallace on suspicion of rape."

"I thought I was doing it wrong." Sherlock whispered, grabbing at John's jumper and resting his face against the shorter man's stomach. "I thought I just wasn't doing it right and that's why he wouldn't stop."

"Doing what?" John asked, sinking to his knees and pulling Sherlock's trembling form into a tight embrace. "What did you think you were doing wrong?"

Sherlock hiccupped as a sob broke through his chest. "Saying no."

"Sherlock," Lestrade said, crouching down next to the two other men. "There is no right or wrong way to say that. No means no."

They sat together in silence for a while, the three of them held in an awkward embrace while Sherlock sobbed and shook between John and Lestrade. Sally didn't say a word when she let herself back into the office. She just sat silently in the seat behind Lestrade's desk, taking a sip of water from the half-empty glass on his desk to help wash the taste of vomit.

They all looked up when the door opened again, and Sherlock merely rolled his eyes when Mycroft Holmes walked into the room.

"What are you doing here?" Sherlock mumbled, not looking at his brother.

"I'm sorry, little brother." Mycroft said, stunning John completely when he dropped down to sit next to Sherlock. "I'm so sorry."

"What do you have to be sorry for?" Sherlock asked, finally looking up at Mycroft. "You didn't…" He hesitated, trying to force himself to say the word. "You didn't rape me!"

"No." Mycroft said. "But, by the time I was alerted to what was happening, it was too late. Yet again, I failed to protect you."

Sherlock stared for a moment, before he leant into Mycroft, finally doing what he had secretly wanted to do since this had happened, since he'd been a small child. He just buried his face in his big brother's chest and sobbed.

"How did you know?" Lestrade asked, standing up and clearing his throat. "How did you know anything had happened? And how did you know to come here today?"

"His phone is bugged." Mycroft said. "Ever since he found himself in a position where he was forced to choose between taking his own life or watching his friends die. I already lost my brother once. I would rather monitor him constantly and face the consequences should he ever find out than risk losing him again." He held a memory stick out to Lestrade, nodding in gratitude when the DI took it and he was once again able to wrap his arms tightly around his brother. "You will find a full recording of the assault on there. I believe that is all you will need to convict Mr Wallace."

"So you've known all this time?" John asked, gaping angrily at Mycroft. "Why didn't you do something? You kidnap me all the time! Why didn't you just snatch him off the street?"

"Because I had to know." Sherlock said, pulling away from Mycroft and wiping his hand over his face. "I had to realise myself what had happened to me. It would be meaningless if I didn't understand what he had done."

Things got slowly better after that. Shaun Wallace was convicted of rape, although Mycroft made sure that nobody ever found out what prison he ended up in (Guantanamo Bay is such a controversial place). Sherlock continued his relationship with John (they settled on 'partners' in the end, since 'boyfriends' apparently sounded so teenaged it made Sherlock nauseous), and, although things were by no means perfect, Sherlock found himself gradually moving on. There were still times when he would stop talking mid-sentence, staring off into nothingness with a haunted, faraway look in his eyes, but John learned that it tended to take nothing more than a gentle touch to the back of his hand or a soft call of his name to bring him back to the present and away from whatever terrible memories had dragged him down. And if there had been any concerns about the force from New Scotland Yard treating him any differently now that they knew what had happened to him, well, they were soon alleviated the first time he walked into a murder scene and heard Sally's cry of "Oi! Freak! What the hell are you doing on my crime scene?"