Still stroking the back of the detective's head, John picked his words carefully before he opened his mouth.
"It can't be very comfortable like that. Come on, don't you have work to be doing?"
Sherlock mumbled something incoherently against John's thigh, and the doctor tutted impatiently. Lifting Sherlock at the waist, John moved the detective off of his lap with care, where he stood looking reproachful and generally embarrassed. His usual pale pallor had been replaced with a pink blush that spread across his tear-stained face. Despite this new position making the height difference between himself and his flatmate all the more obvious, Sherlock didn't look anything like is usual haughty self. Looking down, he watched as John zipped and buttoned his trousers, and began feeding his belt back through the loops at the waistband.
"What did you say?" John murmured distractedly, as the belt got caught a little around the side.
Sherlock simply observed this without helping at all, and replied:
"I said I don't, when you came in I was just pretending."
John sat back in his chair, having finally fastened the belt correctly, and regarded his flatmate cautiously. He was sniffing pathetically, hair falling over his eyes a little, and scuffing the toes of his shoes on the floorboard. His right hand was placed not-so-casually in his back pocket, while his left hung limply at his side. John couldn't imagine him looking any less like Sherlock Holmes.
"Oh" the doctor said nonchalantly, "well there must be something you need to do."
Sherlock stilled for a moment, as if weighing up his options. Then, he looked at John and said simply:
"I need a bath."
And then he just continued to stand there, looking at John like he was waiting for something. And the doctor tried not to blush as the image of Sherlock naked, skin wet and warm in the steam of the bath entered his mind. As the detective stood there, realisation dawned upon the doctor.
I don't know why, John thought in bewilderment, but I'm sure he wants me to do it for him. Completely ignoring how absolutely ridiculous it was that Sherlock seemed to not even be able to do his own trousers up without John's help, the doctor concentrated solely on what was happening, rather than why it was happening. It was much easier to process that way. Maybe it was some observation of psychological values, or an experiment in co-dependency.
Whatever it was, like always, John was going to have to go along with it, and ask questions later.
"You want me to run you a bath?" he asked slowly, watching for any sign that this was not what Sherlock had meant. But the detective just nodded shyly, confirming that whatever he was playing at, he was bloody good at acting the part. John was now forcefully ignoring how aroused he was at the sight of his flatmate acting this way and stood up.
"Come on then," he said with an inclination of his head "let's go."
Sherlock walked in front, much as he had done hours before, but at a far more leisurely pace. So leisurely in fact that John found himself prodding him playfully in the back to get him to move faster, an action that made Sherlock smile, but had no effect on his speed whatsoever. Reaching the bathroom, the detective sat down very gingerly on the lip of the bath, and watched as John knelt down and pushed the plug in, rolling up one of his sleeves and turning on the taps, running his fingers through the water to test the temperature. When he was satisfied, he leant back on his haunches and glanced at the detective, who was running his fingers idly over the tiles on the wall.
John was sure there was no physical medical explanation for what Sherlock was doing, and would have put it down to concussion had it not been for Sherlock's blatant consciousness of what he was doing. This was definitely some sort of game. The doctor wasn't sure if he was comfortable with how willing he had been to play.
Pushing thoughts of his own insanity aside, he took one of Sherlock's swinging feet in hand and began untying the shoelaces, and sliding it gently from the detective's foot. John felt a hand on his shoulder as Sherlock steadied himself on the edge of the bath, and set about methodically undressing the grown man. Sherlock only moved when John asked him to, standing up or moving his arms obediently as he watched John take off and tidily fold his expensive clothes into a neat pile on the floor. John had paused for a moment as he pushed his thumbs into the waistband of Sherlock's underwear, but it seemed they'd pretty much covered that base, so there was no point in being shy.
John quickly reached over to turn the taps off. Putting his professional "naked patient" mindset on, he took Sherlock's elbow and gently coaxed him into the bath. The detective's hissed as the warm water lapped against his sore skin, and the porcelain of the bath felt horribly uncomfortable beneath him. But the temperature was perfect – steam rising from the bath and misting up the mirror on the front of the medicine cabinet just above the sink. Relaxing into the heat, Sherlock tilted his head back, and felt John's wet fingers threading through his hair, massaging product through his locks and then gently rinsing it out. Sherlock wasn't sure if the doctor was aware that he was humming tunelessly through his teeth from concentration, but decided not to mention it. Instead, he let himself be taken care of by his vaguely-confused flatmate, sinking into the warmth and turning information slowly over in his head. He was perfectly aware of how odd the situation was, and also of how strange it was that he had chosen to engineer it. He was also aware of John's willingness to simply go along with it all, and the fact that the doctor was clearly attempting to detach himself from the situation, without much luck. Sherlock had not failed to notice how strangely tight the crotch of John's jeans had become, nor had he missed how the doctor's gaze seemed to drink in every inch of the detective's elegant frame.
"You didn't stop."
Sherlock's words pierced through John's bubble of concentration, and the doctor looked up sharply.
Sherlock regarded him curiously, coyly swirling a finger around in the water that covered him, and replying in a conversational tone:
"I asked you, begged you to stop – and you didn't. Why?"
John felt a warm blush ascend along his throat, and a swirl of guilt in the pit of his stomach. But he kept Sherlock's gaze, looking at him steadily.
"Because if you really wanted me to stop, you could have gotten up. I definitely wasn't holding you down, and you might have squirmed around a bit, but you made no real attempt to get away from me –" John paused to watch a blush appear along Sherlock's cheekbones, as the tables were very much turned on him. "-Did you?"
The detective shook his head, not looking at John but rather looking past him, in the vain hope that perhaps if he pretended he couldn't see him, he would cease to exist.
Now John's curiosity was getting the better of him. Sherlock was obviously trying to portray himself as the victim of assault, in order to strike a chord with the doctor.
"You're a good judge of intent, Sherlock. What do you think I might have done if you hadn't asked me whether or not I was satisfied?"
The detective looked at him, calculatingly. He already knew the answer, he had done from the moment John had told him how sorry he was going to be. He knew it from John's character, from his body language, his tone; he'd pieced every detail together to predict what would happen should he refuse to let the doctor punish him.
"...You weren't going to do anything." He said flatly, shifting uncomfortably as the porcelain seemed to suddenly become a lot more painful sitting on the hard porcelain of the bath.
John shrugged. "I certainly wasn't going to bring it up by myself."
Sherlock stood up, looking down at his toes through the water.
John's reply was the same as it had been before. "Good, it's supposed to." But Sherlock sensed that note of attraction in his voice; the smallest hint that it was a phrase he'd never get tired of saying. The detective's curiosity only grew each time he heard it.
Stepping out of the bath, Sherlock accepted the towel John gave him and tied it round his waist, and left the bathroom without a word. Once in his bedroom, he heard John's footsteps walking towards the kitchen, and then the sound of the kettle being clicked on.
Sherlock was surprised at John's level of control. He was clearly aroused by Sherlock and his behaviour, but had made absolutely no action to suggest that he enjoyed it.
The detective couldn't help but wonder how far he could push his flatmate, until he finally broke and admitted his desire. There was only one way to find out.