Title: The Exception
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Prompt: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Just because Sherlock is asexual, doesn't mean he doesn't want to have sex with John. This is very hard for John to understand.
Summary: After the events of "The Game", Sherlock feels a need to touch John.
Warnings: references to drug use, not very explicit sex
Author's Notes: I have very much love for queerfest and hate that it happens during a crazy time of the year for me! Thanks to life_downsized for keeping me motivated and not letting me drown in self-doubt.
It helps to have John around. Sherlock knows a great deal about human behavior and understands very little. It helps to have John about, having his emotional reactions to every little thing.
Thousands are killed by genocide?
"That's terrible!" John's brow is furrowed, first in horror, then confusion and then anger as he realizes (for the thirty-sixth time) that Sherlock does not share his horror.
A small child dead at her father's hand?
Some kittens are going to be put down?
Everything is just so very upsetting and there is no meaningful scale. It helps to be around someone like John, it helps Sherlock as a performer. John is so very, very human.
Sherlock is human, just not quite human enough. The Asperger's is an issue. The way he was raised in another.
Being asexual is a big issue. The desire to copulate is such a strong motivator for the majority of the human race. Sherlock understands sexuality well enough to make his deductions and he's learned to go through the motions when necessary, but he is aware that his lack of desire for exchanging all manner of bodily fluids with another individual makes him seem less human to those around him. The people who want to love him are so disappointed by his failure to live his life around finding new ways to ejaculate.
His nanny said he would be a heartbreaker. Of course, she was sleeping with Sherlock's father at the time. Even a child could see that. At least, one child could.
Sherlock doesn't need to understand every aspect of humanity to extrapolate motivations, he's got more than enough tools in his toolbox for that, but he feels his lack of credibility in the eyes of others. It has always been a mild irritant, but with his current high profile, he's hyperaware of his perceived short-comings. It is absurd that his lack of desire to copulate with others should be considered a short-coming, but such is the way of the world.
Even Mycroft looks down his pointy nose at Sherlock's lack of carnal desire. Mycroft has sacrificed everything to his intellect, including his baser desires. The absence of one of those desires in Sherlock makes all his accomplishments less impressive, like he's an athlete using performance enhancing drugs. There's an asterisk by each case solved that says, "Solved without repressing sexual desires".
It may not be true. He may be projecting those judgments onto Mycroft, assuming his brother was as indoctrinated by his father's standards of normality as Sherlock. Mycroft was raised differently, he never had a "diagnosis". There were no "early interventions". Despite all evidence to the contrary, Mycroft is the "normal" Holmes progeny.
Sherlock might be wrong about Mycroft's motivations, but there is no question that Mycroft has joined the rest of the world in trying to bring Sherlock around to some kind of 'normal' sexuality. Mycroft sexualizes Sherlock's relationship with John just like everyone else. Mycroft, more than anyone still alive, knows that Sherlock's friendship with John is already a strange enough aberration. There's no need to play at pretending there's more than friendship, friendship alone should be startling enough.
He could work out the mystery of why Mycroft makes his innuendo laden comments, but there's no point. There's nothing to be accomplished by unraveling that particular mystery so it continues to float around Sherlock's brain with the rest of the flotsam and jetsam that only clog the machine when it's time to solve a case. The earth revolves around the sun, and Mycroft can be petty.
He's only thinking about Mycroft's reaction now because he's going to have sex with John. It might be today or it might have to be delayed for a period of time, but there is no algorithm in Sherlock's brilliant mind that does not end with he and John becoming physically intimate. It is absurd to think it's all part of Moriarty's plan.
Sherlock thinks it's part of Moriarty's plan. In those tense moments by the swimming pool, every possible outcome simultaneously played itself out in Sherlock's mind. He saw John's gruesome death play out so many times, it feels like an actual occurrence. The ability to extrapolate the world from a piece of sand has always been Sherlock's gift, and his burden. He needs to touch John. He needs to feel that John is in one piece. It isn't enough to look at his companion and see he hasn't been quite literally blown to bits, there are too many images that won't erase from his mental chalk board. John thinks it's 'terrible' that Sherlock is normally unaffected by the possibility of someone's death or dismemberment. John may have physically witnessed more death and destruction than Sherlock, but his mind has remained a generally comfortable place. John sleeps well at night, most nights. For all he's seen, he is buffered by the coping devices of a well-adjusted man. John hasn't been as damaged by man's indecency to man as Sherlock.
Sherlock wants to hold John, hold him and feel that he is solid and real. Sherlock wants to smell his anti-dandruff shampoo and his "oak" scented deodorant. Under all the atrocious artificial smells, is the scent that is just John. A scent that is the byproduct of millions of cells, acting in unison to create one marvelous individual. He loves John so very much. When it comes to emotional spectrums, John has a deluxe paid account while Sherlock has the free trial version. Sherlock feels something he would call romantic love for John.
Because of this, Sherlock thinks it might not be so bad to go through with sexual intercourse with John. He's survived worse.
John's reaction is typical. He is bemused and befuddled. Everything is confusing to John. For all his intelligence, the world remains a mystery to him. Sherlock can't stop touching him, first his shoulder, then his back. When he briefly takes John's hand, the shorter man raises his eyebrows. He wears his normal, weary look. In the cab, Sherlock reaches for his hand again.
"I'm fine, Sherlock. I appreciate your concern but... it's just a little disturbing. No offense," John says quietly. John doesn't want the cab driver to hear, he doesn't want to draw attention to Sherlock holding his hand. John is so very concerned about how the rest of the world perceives, or misperceives, their unique relationship. John cares far too much about other people.
Sherlock keeps his hands to himself for all of five minutes. The compulsion is too strong to be ignored. This time, he touches John's face. John's past befuddlement at this point. He looks downright alarmed.
But not repulsed. For all his repeatedly demonstrated heterosexuality, John is attracted to Sherlock. His heart rate accelerates when he is in close proximity to Sherlock, his lips darken, his pupils dilate. John is clearly aware of and uncomfortable with the attraction, but he's never pulled away from Sherlock. He has also never shown any intention or desire to act on his attraction. John takes on every strange aspect of his friendship with Sherlock with easy acceptance. As much as he bridles and bucks, he is clearly quite content with their relationship as is. He teases and lectures but ultimately accepts Sherlock Holmes as the sum of his flaws. John is a good friend. He has introduced Sherlock to a whole new world, a world in which love and friendship are more than just motivates.
John is attracted to Sherlock, but he is a heterosexual and a former soldier. He is not comfortable having his cheek touched (caressed?) by another man, but he does not pull away. He does not expect Sherlock to play by the same rules as the rest of the world. He is always willing to make an exception for Sherlock.
Sherlock runs his hand across John's head, feeling his soft hair. John is the perfect companion for a consulting detective. He is affable and charming. Men like him, women love him. His features make it difficult to pin down his age. His is blond, ginger and brunette. His eyes are blue, gray and brown. A dozen people can see John and each describe him in completely different, but all accurate, terms. John Watson was born to blend into the crowd. He is remarkably ordinary.
He's handsome. He's very handsome, but not pretty. He's not striking. He's just handsome and approachable. He has an honest face to go with his honest soul. When Sherlock tries to touch his full lower lip, John pulls back. It isn't a rejection, he isn't angry.
If it wasn't for the cab driver, John probably wouldn't have pulled back. He's worried about the attention they're receiving. He's worried about the papers.
John did not pull back from a lack of interest. Sherlock doesn't have to check John's pulse to know, he can actually see the excited rhythm of the pulse in his neck. John wears his feelings so clearly, like ugly Christmas sweaters.
Sherlock resolves not to touch John again until they are inside. His resolve lasts all of three minutes. John lets him hold his hand the rest of the ride home, but he never takes his eyes off the back of the cabbie's head.
Sherlock worked out at an early age that he was different. With age, he learned more and more just how 'different' he really was. He lacks so many qualities that are supposed to be human.
His current desire to touch John is strange and uncomfortable, but it isn't one that he is properly motivated to ignore. John is standing in their sitting room, looking so very touchable and human. By threatening to destroy the physical vessel that contains all of John Watson's essential Johness, Moriarty has done the impossible. He has made Sherlock Holmes long for physical intimacy. He has no particular urge for sex, but he wants to wrap himself around John and feel that all his parts are in the right place and in working order. If John were like Sherlock, they could simply explore one another and then go to sleep.
If John were like Sherlock, Sherlock wouldn't be feeling so many damnable feelings.
When people touch each other in an intimate way, it leads to sex. That is the reason Sherlock will be properly losing his virginity within the hour. For all his patience, kindness and attempts to understand Sherlock, John is still human. He won't understand.
"Um... Sherlock?" John waves his hands about, "I don't know what all... all this is supposed to be about."
His words are muffled as Sherlock squeezes him tightly, John's face trapped against his chest.
"I just need to hold you, John. It's fine," Sherlock explains and he runs his fingers through John's short hair, "You're fine. You're alive and you're fine."
John pulls back and pulls that face, that face that is equal parts love and pity. It is a look that Sherlock loves and despises. The look is a reminder that John and Sherlock are not, and never will be the same kind of creature, but that John loves him anyway.
"Sherlock, you are clearly having an emo-, having a strong reaction to what happened earlier," John says it what must be intended to be a soothing voice, "I'll put on a kettle, you'll play your violin and... and then everything will be back to normal."
"Is that what you want?"
John is already heading to the kitchen but stops in his tracks at the question. He looks quite vulnerable to Sherlock in that moment. Engaging in sexual intercourse will cause the release of oxytocin, a chemical that will increase their... tender? feelings. Sherlock has always thought falling in love must be ghastly. Now he's not so sure. Disastrous, yes. It will be his undoing, but Sherlock has always known he had a short shelf life. He will collapse under the weight of his own cleverness just like his parents. Mycroft has gotten himself involved in the mundane world of global politics. While he might bear the weight of being the British government, he also has the stability of having a proper job and people to whom he has to answer. It is those banalities that would ultimately keep Mycroft sane.
Maybe Sherlock could get a proper job, be John's boyfriend and live the middleclass dream. John would miss the company of women, but he could always have affairs. His guilt would only bind him tighter to Sherlock. Sherlock's mind would dull, but he could always go back to cocaine. He still resented Mycroft's having bullied him away from his most effective crutch. All his dealers were in jail, and anyone foolish enough to sell to Sherlock wouldn't have a quality product. He'd have to go out of town. He'd also have to hide it from John, but that's what couples were meant to do, keep secrets and keep the peace.
Sherlock re-phrased his question, "Do you want to go back to normal and pretend nothing has changed?"
John is literally huffing and puffing as only he can.
Sherlock decides to put a stop to the back and forth and force John to make a decision. When his mouth closes over John's the smaller man goes still.
The feel of someone else's saliva on his lips is only mildly upsetting. The feel of John's fingers in his hair is actually quite nice. He involuntarily pulls away at the feel of John's tongue against his lips and immediately regrets his rash reaction. John is out of his arms and heading to his bedroom.
"This is crazy. You... You're you and I'm going to bed and in the morning we can just pretend this never happened..." John has himself worked into a state.
"What's wrong?" Sherlock asks, immediately wondering if his tone is too harsh. He has trouble gauging such things when he's not on the case. When he doesn't have that surge of adrenaline sharpening every sense, he feels a bit useless.
"Wrong?" John snaps, "Everything is wrong with this. I'm straight! You're..."
"Asexual," Sherlock supplies, knowing John has trouble with the word. He has trouble with the concept. People can understand the strangest sexual proclivities, there are vending machines in Japan for buying used underwear, but the lack of interest in sex is a concept that seems to baffle most.
"So how would this work?"
"I just want to touch you, John, beyond that... I am open to any suggestions you care to offer."
John wraps his arms around himself. Defensively? No, his shoulders are too relaxed, it's a self-soothing move.
"So, you'll just lie there and think of the queen while I..."
"Think of Pippa Middleton?" Sherlock suggests, pleased to see a smile threatening the corners of John's mouth.
John stands still as Sherlock closes the distance between them. They'll have to use John's bedroom, Sherlock's room must remain an undisturbed lair.
Of course, John is skilled when it comes to sex. He's a romantic at heart, every girl who has come through their door has been a girlfriend, never a one night stand, but it still makes for a lot of sexual partners. The fact he has a different girlfriend on a bi-weekly basis surely doesn't take away from John's character. John doesn't want them to leave, he simply has to chose Sherlock, because Sherlock needs him so much more. John is a fair man.
When John sucks his earlobe while stroking Sherlock's erection through his trousers, it is enough to force Sherlock to retreat before he either comes in his pants or has a nervous breakdown. He pulls away and curls up on his side, waiting for his body to stop its nonsense.
He can almost feel John's desire to fuss over him, and he doesn't need to look over his shoulder to see the worry in John's face. He walks through John's thought process. Outside the bedroom, John's mind is dull and unimaginative, but arousal seems to give him the proper motivation for some proper deductive reasoning. He knows that Sherlock is aroused, no need for keen observation there - Sherlock is panting. Now, all that is left is for John to establish the source of Sherlock's panic (and why he has gone fetal).
Sherlock expects a few more moments to recover but John is even more perceptive than he anticipated. The hand on Sherlock's hip is gentle but firm.
"I'm going to turn the lights off," John explains quietly before briefly disappearing. The moment the lights are off, Sherlock feels less overwhelmed, less over stimulated. John is on the right track.
When John crawls back onto the bed, he moves slowly. His hand returns to Sherlock's hip and Sherlock allows himself to be rolled onto his back. He remains passive as John removes both of their clothing. His partner seems to have things well under control and Sherlock is wondering why it's traditional to smoke after sex and not during. True, there might be some risk for burned sheets and burned skin, but it would help make things less awkward and tense.
He jumps at the sound of John's voice. He really needs a cigarette. John repeats himself.
"Are you... is everything all right?" John asks in his warm voice. He sounds like woolen socks would sound if they could talk.
"Do I appear to not be fine?" Sherlock snaps, annoyed because he's naked and because Moriarty was able to get this deeply into his head.
Thoughts of John obliterated beyond recognition fill Sherlock's mind. He would grieve like a genuine human being for John. He would gnash his teeth and rend his clothes if he could never again show off for John Watson. He was so wrong to think he could keep John in his little room in Sherlock's mind palace. John has stomped all over Sherlock's brain, leaving ugly jumpers and loose change in every room. How much valuable knowledge has been lost because Sherlock suddenly has to remember all the things that hurt John's feelings?
"Let's just keep things moving," Sherlock barks, trying to focus on what is about to happen, and not on what was narrowly avoided.
John's fingers have barely wrapped around his erection when Sherlock needs to hold his hand in place. He's going to orgasm entirely too quickly to be satisfying for either of them.
John pulls his hand back and strokes Sherlock's thighs. He's only using one hand and keeps his touch gentle. The effort he's putting in to keeping Sherlock from being overwhelmed is both touching and counterproductive.
Sherlock decides to take control before he loses control. He tosses John down on his back and contemplates the quickest way to bring John to orgasm. If John is also feeling panicky and out of control, the whole ordeal will be less stressful (and over quicker).
As soon as he runs his tongue along the length of John's penis, John makes a charmingly incoherent and awkward noise. It sounds like, "Wha-ha-how."
Sherlock smirks and takes the head of John's cock in his mouth.
"Oh my fucking lord... that's... bloody hell..."
No matter how skilled, no one else could have this effect on John, because Sherlock has the element of surprise. Poor John is still trying to adjust his mental flat, moving Sherlock from his "never in a million years" room to his "currently having sex with" digs. Sherlock is possibly the last person on Earth that John ever expected to fellate him.
Perhaps Mrs. Hudson could have the same effect. He's seen her casting the occasional sideways glance at John. Sherlock was not deluded by the common misconception that copulation ceased to be a motivator in the elderly. Sex was a motivator for everyone, everyone but Sherlock.
Not quite true, but close enough.
Once there was sufficient saliva lubricating the way, Sherlock relaxed his throat and took John fully into his mouth.
"Christ almighty... I can feel you smirking, you know."
Sherlock laughed and then coughed as his mouth was flooded with semen.
John apologized profusely and patted Sherlock's back.
Sherlock's eyes were watering but he still felt he had come through the experience with just a touch more dignity than John. John would say that sex wasn't a contest, because that was the kind of ridiculous thing that John honestly believed. It was astonishing, really.
When his coughing finally subsides, John's hand remains on Sherlock's back. It is rare that Sherlock feels comforted by such gestures, but John's hand is a reminder that John is alive and well.
When John presses his lips to Sherlock's neck, his affectionate gesture an obvious ruse to feel Sherlock's pulse, it is not unpleasant. John keeps their physical contact to a minimum, his hand is on Sherlock's cock and, occasionally, his lips are on Sherlock's throat. Sherlock gains a new appreciation for the motivation to have numerous sexual partners. The sheer novelty of an unfamiliar hand creates a shockingly new experience. While his sex drive has always been low, Sherlock has the occasional need to masturbate. He's experienced different levels of intensity in his orgasms and while he can't say the experience is better with John, it is certainly different. Rather than the slow and steady lead up to release, it feels like a carnival ride. He's thrown off by every twist and turn until he's suddenly seeing stars and digging his fingers into John's thigh.
John keeps the touching to a minimum as they clean up, but every touch is gentle. From that first moment in the lab, as Sherlock was making the obvious deductions about John's career, he also saw that kindness. John could be irritable and moody, but it was clear at a glance that he was the kind of person who would not only intuitively understand the needs of someone as difficult as Sherlock, he was the kind of person who would want to take care of Sherlock. At the time, his motives were less than pure and he did see in John as person he could manipulate. Currently, he felt humbled by his friend's gentle nature. It couldn't be easy to be John, to always care so much.
"I'm glad you aren't dead," Sherlock announced, a bit too loudly.
"Thank you, Sherlock." Sherlock didn't need light to see the affection and exasperation in John's face.
They never mentioned it again. Sherlock had anticipated at least one uncomfortable discussion about the events of that night, but not only did John never bring it up, he seemed completely unaffected. Sherlock had expected Mycroft to immediately pick up on the subtle change in their relationship, but it was clear he still thought Sherlock was a stranger to the ways of the flesh.
Irene Adler didn't see it. Moriarty didn't see it. John, who was easier to read than a large print Dan Brown novel, seemed to be completely unaffected by the events of that night. There weren't enough cases in the world to keep Sherlock from harping on a mystery he could never discuss with anyone. Why had he left no mark on John Watson?