CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: CONFESSION

John lay next to Sherlock, looking at his face, completely and utterly blissed out. He propped himself up on an elbow.

"So where did you learn to kiss like that?" he asked. "To touch… like that. Christ, Sherlock! I've never been with anyone who could do those things to me. And all this time I thought you were inexperienced."

"I was." Sherlock looked into John's eyes. "I had help. Irene Adler."
"The Woman?" John sat all the way up. "D'ya mean on that case? The one for the palace? You had sex with her?"

"No." Sherlock looked at the ceiling. "When I went missing for two weeks. I went to see her."

It clicked into place like a lock, how Sherlock had returned different, glowing… laid.

"Well… my god," John said, unable to contain a stab of jealousy. "You and her…. Will that go on? I mean, it's none of my business."

Sherlock looked at him calculatingly. "John, I went to see her to get advice on how to seduce… you."

There was that voice again. Seduce you. It sent a low thrill through John, even though he'd just had the most replete sexual experience of his life. He swallowed. "Oh."

"You convinced me that you had to have sex in your life. The only way you could have what you want, and I could have what I want – which is you in my life, exclusively – was… this." Sherlock waved a hand at their naked, intertwined bodies.

John studied him for a long moment, frowning. "That's why you did this? But… you were never interested in a sexual relationship before. Are you just doing this for me?"

"John," Sherlock said in a patient tone. "Remember. Assumptions. You might have noticed earlier that I've grown quite fond of the idea. In fact, I have no idea why it didn't come to me earlier."

John grinned at him, slow and sexy and cheeky as hell. He was gratified when Sherlock shivered and gripped him tighter.

"What about you?" Sherlock asked, a little breathlessly. "I know you always thought it would be a woman. But… would you mind so awfully if it were me? I can't promise to always hand you a glass of juice in the morning, but I promise to try my best not to be completely obnoxious. Most of the time."

Sherlock did his best not to sound vulnerable. But John could see it in every pore of him. He felt his heart break open. He wanted to gush something inane like I love you. But first, a bit of payback was in order.

"Well, I'm not sure." John pulled away, pretending coolness. "You did seduce me without my consent…."

"John, if I'd come back and said – 'I've got it! We should have sex!' – how do you think you would have reacted?"

"Still – seeking out training from a highly-skilled courtesan… that was playing dirty."

Sherlock looked worried for one more second, then he caught on. He laid back down and smiled.

"I needed the very best weapons for my arsenal."

"Sorry, that's not acceptable to me," John said, with a straight face. "I refuse to go to bed with anyone who has better tricks than I do. So you'd better tell me everything Irene taught you. And take your time. You know I'm a slow learner."

Sherlock smiled a devilish smile. "Very well. I'm happy to share. The first weapon of seduction is… touch…" Sherlock ran his fingers in that insanely sensual way up John's chest.

"I think I figured that one out," John said with a pleasant shiver. "Dear god, that's effective."

"Then taste," Sherlock murmured. He ran his finger across John's lip, teasing his tongue with the tip of it.

John thought about the cherry icing, the taste of Sherlock's finger in his mouth. "Taste works," John said in a small voice.

"Visual. Stimuli…" The way Sherlock said those two words would be banned in 20 counties. John remembered those open shirts, rolled up cuffs, dewy lips, that day with the towel, Sherlock's lean, lovely back, that tented erection. Oh, yes. Goddamn. Visual stimuli. Check.

"Words themselves, planting the suggestion," Sherlock said, his voice low. "Bed, John. It's not women."

"Good god, that's evil," John gasped.

"Aural sensation." Sherlock leaned up to dribble the words like molten honey into John's ear. "Do you know," he continued in his velvety baritone, "This is what gets you going the most? Your pulse goes from 75 to 111 when I touch you. But when I do thisss…" the sibilant s vibrated against his sensitive ear, and it shot like a hot bolt of lightning down into his cock, bringing him, incredibly, back to full arousal. "It's. One. Forty. Five."

"Oh, bloody hell," John panted, flopping back onto the bed. "I never stood a chance!"

Sherlock laughed in a self-satisfied way and kissed him fiercely. But when he drew back his face was haunted. "You did though. When you went to Retta's I thought you'd bolted. It was a calculated risk. The worse one I've ever had to take. If I'd lost you…"

And for the first time, John understood that it had cost Sherlock something, too. Maybe more than he would ever admit.

"Thank you," John said softly. "Thank you for being the one to see it. For taking that risk, for being a total arse, and for seducing me silly."

"My pleasure," Sherlock said, holding his eyes in a gaze that poured trust and love and lust and a million other thing too exquisite to name right into John's soul.

"I love you," John said. "Now shut up and kiss me."