Mine. Yours. Boy Toy. Sexy Thing.

That was one elegant wrist.

Hot Stuff. Kiss Me. Bite Me. Gimme.

That was the other.

To John's great surprise those eight rubber bracelets—in primary blues, reds, and yellows—suited Sherlock. As did the fifteen leather bands and twelve silver bangles fighting for space on his long arms.

But what really complimented the pale detective was the thing that started at the fingertips of his left hand, traversed over its back, completely covered his forearm, and then stopped short of his elbow, and that was enough mehndi to satisfy the wedding-day needs of half a dozen Indian brides.

It was this last that gave John pause. Lots of dry-mouthed pause.

"I wasn't aware that men do it."

Sherlock twitched the sitting room curtains open with one hand, tugged at his shirt with the other. "There's no reason they can't. It wouldn't be the first time the West adopted another culture's tradition and changed it to suit their needs."

John nodded. "I wasn't aware that anyone does it…there. Or there."

Sherlock unintentionally stood in a nice, dramatic pool of light, touched his face with long fingers. A thin, elegant tracery of henna swirled from chin, up along the left side of his jaw, cheekbone, across temple to brow. "It's an advertisement. Very easy to see."

As he spoke Sherlock unconsciously tugged at his cropped t-shirt again, as he'd been doing for the last twenty minutes. However, he was still missing the necessary fifteen centimetres of fabric needed to cover his very bare, very hennaed belly.

"Is it…" John drifted toward Sherlock and stared down at his decorated stomach, "…anywhere else I might want to know about?"

Sherlock glanced away, then back again. "No. This isn't meant to be sexual John."

The good doctor very purposefully danced fingers over Hot Stuff, then Boy Toy.

Sherlock scowled. "Costuming. Posturing. As sexy as a fancy belt buckle or trainers with flashing lights."

John tilted his head to the right. Let it stay there.

"You're radiating disapproval but—"

John tilted his head to the left. Let it stay there.


John smiled a small, close-lipped smile.

Sherlock frowned. "What?"

John licked his lips, a quick dart of a quick tongue. "Is this my disapproving face?"

The detective stopped tugging at his t-shirt, stood taller, exposing a good five centimetres more belly. "No."

John ran one finger slowly over the delicate filigree stained onto Sherlock's stomach. "What is this then?" John looked at Sherlock through fine blond lashes. "Deduce me."

The lack of cases was frustrating them both, but of course it was Sherlock who suffered the most. Unable to do what he does he would prowl the flat scowling, a fist pressed to breast bone as if clutching at a knot just below the surface.

Sherlock wanted this case. Needed it. It was full summer out there, the sun was shining every damn day and apparently the criminal element had gone on holiday. Probably sunbathing and getting skin cancer and then, just Sherlock's luck, probably up and dying from it.

John knew they needed this case and he knew that whatever it was he'd say yes. But right this minute his fractious, argumentative love clearly needed diversion.

Deduce me.

Sherlock 's gaze swept from John's brow to his new brogans. Clearly there was nothing to deduce—everything was right there on John's face, pretty and perfect and plain to see. But that didn't matter.

Because Sherlock needed an outlet for all the words crowded in his head, a place to discharge. He needed this. And so he deduced.

"You're wondering where you should get the henna done if we take the case," he said softly. Sherlock knew that John knew what he was going to say next. "Your arms." The consulting detective brushed two fingers along his husband's forearms. "Your beautiful arms." After awhile he trailed fingers up, up, up and along the side of John's neck, made a long, low sound. "And here…so very much here." Sherlock's lids lowered a little, and then a brief smile lit his face. "And that tongue, if it'd stay still long enough."

John reeled in his most squirmy appendage, trapped it with his teeth.

"We'll be vendors. At the Camden market. So we'll need to look like we belong. The henna's just the start." Sherlock rattled the metal bracelets at his wrist. "I'd love to see you in jewelry but your temperament's more suited to other things."

Sherlock sucked vigorously on his lower lip. Then Sherlock wanted to suck other things. He let a hand drift to John's belly, then to the button and zipper on his husband's trousers. "John, John, John. How do you feel about…piercings?"

Next chapter will contain something about arson, nipples, and slave bracelets. If anyone (I'm looking at you Livia Carica or LadyGrinningSouls) would care to draw Sherlock with a sweet, sweet tracery of mehndi on face, neck, hands, arms, belly—wherever—I would birth your babies. (Even lamb babies, Livia, if I have to.) P.S. Sort of like what I have on my Tumblr (atlinmerrick dot tumblr dot com), only with skill, talent, and partial nudity!