Author's Note: If you're wondering who the hell I am, I was formerly HieiAijin1410. My debut novel has just been published, and so I'm switching all my screen names over to my professional name. By the way, feel free to google me and my new book! It's an original m/m romance novel entitled "In Excess".

This is an entry for the casefic contest on fuckyeahjohnlockfanfic. Plus, I had a request from someone the other day to write about weird fetishes. Enjoy!

Warning: This fic actually has a lot of things you'll want to be aware of: Bondage, public sex, sex clubs, masturbation, the riding crop, general BDSM, possible squick-out moments with some of the fetishes, some light mentions of other people self-harming, voyeurism, and sex toys. I think that's all, but you've been warned.

Cover image made by Xistential Angel. Everything the woman writes is gold.

Prompt: In which Sherlock finds himself in the unusual position of trying to educate John about the endless variety of fetishes that exist in the world. When that gets boring, he sets himself on a very important case: figuring out if John has any fetishes.

The expression on John's face was priceless.

"What is it?" he asked in a bewildered voice, his dark blue eyes open as wide as they could go. Sherlock began to seriously contemplate the possibility that they might pop out of his skull entirely. That would be intriguing to observe, though it would certainly lessen his value as an assistant.

They were standing in the bedroom of a small flat in Devon, specifically in front of a contraption from which the body of a young man had recently been removed. It consisted of a thick chain hanging down from a hook in the ceiling and ending about three feet above the surface of a bed. Attached to the end of the chain was an adjustable cloth loop with plastic fasteners.

Fortunately for the officers of New Scotland Yard who were currently scurrying about, Sherlock did not share in John's ignorance.

"It's obvious," he said in a measured tone, his eyes fixed firmly on the glowing screen of his mobile. "The victim, 23-year-old Andrew McGinely, was a homosexual male who developed an acute case of Asphyxiophilia."

"Come again?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes and sighed in a long-suffering way. "It's a paraphilia, a feeling of intense sexual arousal linked to objects, people or situations. In this case, the victim derived pleasure from asphyxiation. He would slip this loop around his neck, tighten it as much or as little as he liked and then I presume either perform the act of intercourse with it on or masturbate. I can tell his fetish was acute because he bothered to set up this apparatus. The chain acted like a leash and gave him something to strain against if he wanted to impair his airflow further."

John's eyes grew impossibly larger. "So . . . he got off on being strangled? On knowingly putting himself in harm's way? That's mad!"

Sherlock only barely resisted the urge to throw his arms up in exasperation. Really, John was being particularly obtuse today. "No, it's not. Enjoying a loss of blood flow to the brain and the accompanying endorphins and floating sensations is actually fairly commonplace as far as sexual fetishism is concerned. I've seen several cases of autoerotic asphyxiation in the past few years alone, which is most definitely the cause of death in this particular instance. You can see from his broken fingernails that he was scrambling to unbuckle the collar. He unfortunately wasn't quick enough, and he passed out with it still choking him. Had his boyfriend arrived home a few minutes earlier, he might have been saved. As to your other point, do keep in mind you and I knowingly put ourselves in harm's way quite frequently."

He paused to shout over his shoulder to Lestrade, who was standing in the other room, "His death was entirely accidental. You can release his boyfriend from custody. I suggest offering him an apology as well, considering you rather unlawfully detained him based on half-baked evidence."

Lestrade shot him a sour look but dutifully began barking orders to his officers. Sherlock grinned in his usual smug fashion. He was always keenly aware of how vastly he outperformed the entirety of NSY's police force, but he noticed the contrast now more than ever. This case couldn't be more simple, yet still they plodded along obliviously.

Sherlock turned back to the loop only to find John still staring stupidly at it. "John, you can't tell me you've honestly never heard of this before. Even I have more faith in your limited range of knowledge than that."

John finally tore his eyes away. "I just never considered it, I suppose. I've heard of fetishes, of course, but I never had cause to explore the subject further. Besides, it's not like there can be very many of these 'paraphilia' things, or else I would have learnt about them in med school."

Sherlock blinked. For what had to be a solid thirty seconds, he was so utterly still he could have been carved from the alabaster his skin was frequently compared to.

It wasn't often he was shocked into speechlessness by how thoroughly, entirely wrong someone was.

When he finally recovered, he spoke evenly and without a hint of expression. "The next few weeks of your life are going to be very interesting, John Watson."

He turned away without another word, leaving his highly confused flatmate behind him.

John had the sneaking suspicion he'd somehow signed himself up for something hellish. He could only hope his harebrained flatmate placed their continued survival high on his list of priorities before he proceeded.

It started small.

It did not stay that way.

When John got out of the shower one evening, there was a photograph of a corpse taped to the foggy mirror. It was a woman—blonde, slender, in her mid-30s from the looks of it—and on top of being dead and completely naked, she was missing large chunks of her body, including several fingers and her entire left nipple.

John studied the photo as he toweled off, wondering why the bloody hell Sherlock—because obviously this was his doing—had left it there for him. It was probably for some case he'd just picked up. John began to catalogue any potentially useful details in a clinical fashion, much as he did when they went to a crime scene together. The flesh had obviously been removed by a very sharp, non-serrated blade, because the edges of all the lacerations were clean. There didn't appear to be any defensive wounds, so if she was attacked she didn't fight back. The discolouration of her skin suggested she'd bled to death. It was certainly an odd body, considering the seemingly random removal of flesh. He couldn't imagine why the killer had chosen to butcher this woman in such a fashion, but he supposed Sherlock would shortly explain it to him along with his usual disparaging comments about John's intellect.

He dressed quickly, plucked the photo from the mirror and trotted down the stairs and into their living room. Sherlock was supine on their sofa like a pale, sunbathing lizard.

"What's this, then?" John asked without preamble, holding up the photo. "Are you on a new case?" That seemed unlikely, since Sherlock only ever laid listlessly about their flat when he had nothing on.


John quirked an eyebrow. "Bless you."

"Clever, but no. Vorarephilia is sexual arousal occurring from the idea of eating or being eaten by someone, and not in the way people usually mean. It's sexual cannibalism, in other words."

John's mouth dropped open. He looked again at the photo in his hand. Suddenly the missing chunks of flesh made horrifying sense. "So, you're telling me this woman was aroused by having parts of her body cut off and eaten?"

"Yes. Her husband would take a very sharp razor, shave sections of her skin off and then consume them. In some instances, he took much larger samples, as evidenced by her missing fingers. Regrettably, they got rather out of hand one evening, and she accidentally bled to death. I solved the case myself some months before I met you."

So, this dead woman had already been avenged then. You'd have thought that would make it all better. But it didn't.

"Oh, God." John pulled such an intensely disgusted expression, it hurt his facial muscles to make it. "That's just sick."

"There's something to be said for two consenting adults being allowed to conduct themselves in any way they wish, but I do agree that the self-harm aspects are somewhat reprehensible."

John did not even attempt to process that sentence. "So, why did you show me this? I could have lived a long, happy life never having known this exists."

"That is precisely your problem, John." In one swift, elegant movement, Sherlock rose to his feet and bounded over to him. There was an edge of excitement to his energy that John had learnt to be incredibly wary of. "You don't aspire to know. You can't trundle through life without bothering to stop and take a look about yourself every now and again."

"So," John asked hesitantly, "you're going to do something about my alleged problem?"

Sherlock's smile could easily be described as evil. "I'm going to open your eyes."

John knew things were only going to get worse when one afternoon he turned on his laptop, and his internet browser had ten tabs open to Youtube, all of which displayed videos of news reports and documentaries about unusual fetishes.

He sighed. Sherlock was clearly determined to carry out his ridiculous plan to flood John with useless information. He suddenly had a mental image of his flatmate sticking up a triumphant finger and shouting, "FOR SCIENCE!"

With a weary shake of his head, he clicked "Play" on the first video. It was a report of a woman who'd been arrested for hiding herself in a men's locker room at a local gym for eight hours. When interviewed she claimed to have Sthenolagnia, arousal caused by muscles and displays of strength. John supposed that fetish was understandable enough, minus the creepy spying. He knew plenty of women who liked their blokes to be quite fit.

The next video was an excerpt from a telly show he watched on occasion. It starred a pretty investigative journalist who spent a week inserting herself into different subcultures and then reported everything she found. In this case, she'd infiltrated a BDSM club and had managed to get herself into a spiked leather outfit that John spent more than a little time staring at/salivating over.

He skipped over a video about an old man with a rather unhealthy and frankly disturbing interest in young girls and clicked on one that caught his eye because of the unusual title: "How Beanie Babies ruined my life." He assumed at first that it was going to be about someone who had a fetish for collectibles and had blown all their money on them, but unfortunately he was far from correct.

"I just love them so much," cooed a pudgy, middle-aged man as he stroked a large brown teddy bear. "And they love me!" He said this last bit with unmistakable pride. The room behind him was absolutely filled with stuffed animals. It had every creature imaginable in a rainbow of vibrant colours, and the effect of seeing them all piled together was dizzying. John's jaw fell open for what had to be the hundredth time that week.

Plushophilia. The man pleasured himself using stuffed animals. Because he was attracted to them.

"Oh, that is just way too weird for me," John muttered aloud, though he didn't close the tab. A reporter went on to say that the man had developed the fetish when he was just a small child. He'd had parents who'd left him alone in the house for long periods of time and then apologised for it by buying him armloads of toys.

"I began to associate them with affection," the man explained, his ruddy cheeks glowing as if he were talking about his loving spouse. "And then, of course, as I grew older and puberty set in that affection turned into romantic love. I like to think I have a hundred soft, squeezable lovers."

John whistled. "People never cease to amaze me."

"I'm afraid I don't share that opinion," said a voice that was inexplicably right next to his ear.

John nearly jumped out of skin. He whipped around and found Sherlock leaning over him, mere inches away. He'd somehow managed to walk right up behind him without John having the slightest knowledge of it.

"Jesus, Sherlock! You almost gave me a heart attack."

"Give yourself some credit, John. You're much too fit to suffer a heart attack at your age."

He may or may not have glowed a little at the rare praise, though it failed to abate his irritation. "Be that as it may, you should learn to make some noise when you walk."

"I refuse to stomp about like the rest of you uncoordinated plebeians simply for the sake of your cardiac health." Before John could deliver a hot retort, Sherlock gestured vaguely at the laptop. "What do you think?"

"I think there are people in this world who are a bit touched in the head." He clicked back to the video with the pretty journalist. "But I could make some concessions in the case of the lovely Miss Henderson here."

Sherlock studied him intensely, his gaze made even more powerful than usual by his close proximity.

John felt his ears go red with heat. "What?"

"Interesting." With that, Sherlock sauntered out of the room as quietly as he'd come.

"What's interesting?" John called after him. He waited a moment. There was no response. "Sherlock, tell me what's interesting!"

Sherlock ignored him, as per usual, and John could only sigh with exasperation before turning back to his laptop and clicking on a video about a pair of lesbians who'd both been arrested due to their Pyrophilia. Apparently having a sexual interest in fire could easily get out of hand.

Sherlock would never understand why John made such a fuss about some things.

They were at Angelo's, sat across a table from a smiling young couple, and John was leaning with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands as if his neck lacked the strength to support it.

"You actually set up an interview," he groaned to Sherlock. "How are we even having this conversation?"

"Actually," Sherlock corrected, "considering all you've done thus far is sputter, I would venture to say your participation in this conversation is questionable if not outright refutable."

"Shut up, Sherlock."

The woman across the table smiled at John sympathetically. "Sorry if we made you uncomfortable. I know our sex life is, well, unusual to say the least, but it makes us happy." She reached over and squeezed her partner's hand. "And really, that's what's most important in a relationship."

"Thank you again for agreeing to meet with us," Sherlock said politely. John huffed irritably next to him, and he knew without even looking what the other man was thinking. He was bitter about the fact that while Sherlock could be breathtakingly charming when he wanted to be, he almost never spared the effort in John's case.

"Well," the man chimed in, "after we saw your posts on the Hemotigolagnia support forums, we couldn't very well refuse. You two are in a rather unique situation."

"What exactly," John said pointedly from behind his hands, "is Hemotigolagnia?"

The woman—Susan, as she had introduced herself—answered, "Wow, you really must be new to the scene if you don't even know the term for it yet. If you identify as a Hemotigolagniac, it means you're aroused by . . . well, feminine sanitary pads. Usually used ones."

John lifted his head up long enough to shoot Sherlock a horrified look before his face returned to being buried in his hands.

"Which is why," the man—Ronald—chimed in, "we sympathise with your problem. Obviously people who develop this fetish need to have a woman involved, which means they're usually in heterosexual or lesbian relationships."

John's next question was halting, as if he were debating asking it even as the words left his mouth. "And what 'problem' do you think we have?"

Sherlock eyed the man next to him, wondering if perhaps he should have informed John of their ruse ahead of time. Lying had been necessary to ensure Susan and Ronald didn't think they were going to be ogled like animals at a zoo. He would have told John, but he hadn't wanted to spoil the surprise.

John was quick enough, though. Sherlock assumed he would be able to riddle it out from his answer: "We're both men, so obviously neither of us is capable of menstruation. Homosexual couples often struggle to satisfy their urge to indulge in this particular fetish unless they have a female friend who is willing to donate her hygiene products after use. Susan here has kindly offered to talk to us about the fetish and share some of the resources she and her husband employ in order to ensure they have a steady supply."

He watched with detached interest as realisation crept slowly over John's features, followed swiftly by abject horror.

Without another word, John stood up from the table, turned resolutely towards the door and marched stiff-backed out of the restaurant.

Sherlock watched his figure disappear into the night. He was probably going to have to make his own tea for the next few days. He turned back to the couple, both of whom had raised an eyebrow. "I apologise for my lover's behaviour. He can be a touch on the tetchy side when it comes to discussing intimate details with strangers. He thinks what happens between two people in the bedroom should stay there."

"We understand completely," Ronald said. "We struggled with the discovery ourselves when we first realised. It's important to be supportive and give him time to adjust. With enough love and patience, he'll come round eventually."

Sherlock chuckled. "Oh, of that I have no doubt. John's never been very good at resisting me."

"Symphorophilia: arousal caused by natural disasters."

"Sherlock, put the dictionary down."

"Avisodomy: desiring to have sex with birds."

"Sherlock, put the dictionary down, or so help me—"

"Tripsolagnia: a person with this fetish gets off on having their hair shampooed. Now, that one makes some sense, as I myself enjoy the occasional scalp massage."

"I am not going to sit here in my own room and let you fill my head with disturbing images."

"Burusera: the Japanese term for a panty fetish. Apparently, they have vending machines over there that are stocked with the used underwear of young females. They come in plastic packaging and everything."

"Are you even listening to me? Am I invisible again?"

"Hybristophilia: sexual attraction to someone who has committed a gruesome crime. I suppose you and I must have a touch of that, considering how we flock to crime scenes."

"I do not have hybristophilia! Stop assigning mad fetishes to me! And for that matter, stop jumping on my bed! You're going to break it, and I've just washed the sheets. You could at least have the decency to take your shoes off, emphasis on at least."

"Oh, here's an interesting one. Inflatophilia. Attraction to inflatable things, like swimming wings or even bounce houses. I wonder if anyone who's ever used a blow-up doll qualifies for this. That one intern from Bart's is an inflatophile, though she's as-of-yet unaware of it."

"Wait, are you talking about the girl with the lazy eye? I asked her to dinner once."

"You should invite her over to the flat. I have an experiment involving inflated balloons in which she could prove invaluable."

"You can't be ser—! You know what? Sod this. If there's a fetish for wanting to strangle your lunatic of a flatmate, I'm in serious danger of developing it."

"There appears, my dear John, to be a fetish for everything."

Sherlock was studying him attentively, which was never a good sign.

John moved slowly about the kitchen, gathering two mugs in which he could deposit the tea bags and boiling water he'd just prepared.

"I've been thinking about what you said." Sherlock was sat on the far side of their table, his unnerving gaze fixed steadily on his flatmate.

John sighed. He couldn't even make their bloody tea in peace. He rued the day he'd set foot on that crime scene and somehow given Sherlock the insane notion that they needed to thoroughly explore every fetish in existence. "You're going to have to be more specific."

"You said I keep assigning fetishes to you."

John added an extra tea bag to his mug. He suspected he was going to need the additional caffeine if he intended to survive this conversation. "Yes, and it would be lovely indeed if you'd, you know, stop doing that."

"But I don't have all the data yet. I can't solve a case before I have all the data."

John set his mug down and spun warily around to face his flatmate. "Case? What case?"

Sherlock looked as collected as usual, his face impassive and his hands folded neatly on the table in front of him. "When I first began researching the overabundance of paraphilias that humans have developed, I was merely trying to ensure you understood how definitively you'd miscalculated their number."

"Yes, and you've done a thorough job of shoving my mistake in my face. What's that got to do with anything?"

"I noticed you had varying reactions to some of the fetishes, ranging from visceral to seemingly curious. I've determined that through the systematic application of my deductive abilities, I will eventually be able to riddle out if you have any fetishes—which I already confidently suspect you do—and then work out the specific ones you have. It should make for an interesting little puzzle and will prevent me from being bored until we get a criminal case."

John, for not the first time since moving into 221B Baker Street, was utterly speechless.

His brain stumbled over his flatmate's words, knowing what they meant and yet refusing to understand them in conjunction with one another. Sherlock was still sat calmly across the room from him, looking for all intents and purposes like he'd just made a casual remark about a local sports team.

"You—" John began, but then he stopped and swallowed thickly. This could not be happening. "You do realise, Sherlock, that what you're talking about is sexual." He said that last word slowly and with no small amount of disbelief.

"The thought had crossed my mind."

John stared hard at him, trying to discern just how much about this Sherlock really understood. He'd made it abundantly clear from the conception of their relationship that he was married to his work and studiously uninterested in anything pertaining to love, relationships and certainly sex, and yet here he was, claiming he was going to make a point of figuring out what John liked to do in bed.

John tried again, "Sherlock, you have to understand that you're talking about figuring out what turns me on. Things that arouse me. Potentially weird or disturbing things. Don't you think that's just a bit on the inappropriate side?"

Sherlock shook his head with a dramatic sigh. "I see I haven't yet divested you of your problem. You still don't have the burning desire to know all, the desire that has driven me to a life of solving mysteries."

"Is that all this is to you? You want to know for the sake of knowing? If that's the case, you could very well just ask me, though frankly I may choose not to answer. That information is supposed to be private."

"Asking you would take the fun out of the game." Sherlock stood up from his chair and seemed to be preparing to exit the room mid-conversation. "The real rush comes from unraveling the mystery one thread at a time."

John still couldn't get his brain to wrap around this concept. "But it's sex! Intimate details about your flatmate that you have no right to know! How can you be comfortable with that?!"

Sherlock was already turning away, and John fought the urge to grab him, hold him down and force him to explain himself. "I have no qualms with learning these things about you. In fact, I believe I'll find them rather fascinating. You tend to be somewhat much more interesting than ordinary people." He paused at the door and looked back at John over his shoulder. "If you're concerned about the possibility of me being disturbed by what I find, let me alleviate your worries now: I promise I will fully support your right to engage in whatever sexual activities you choose, provided you refrain from becoming a threat to yourself or others."

John stared at him, once again rendered speechless. He felt the odd desire to thank Sherlock for his support, but of course that would be ridiculous. Eventually, he let out a weary sigh and turned back to his tea.

"This is weird, Sherlock," he called into the next room, where Sherlock had disappeared. "Flatmates are not supposed to know things like that about each other, and nothing good will come of this. Even if you prove me wrong, I will never agree with you."

Sherlock, though now out of sight, did him the courtesy of shouting back, "I am aware of and willing to accept that."

John massaged his temples. This was going to be a very long week.

Sherlock gently nudged a set of leopard-print handcuffs over by about an inch. Perfect.

John was going to be home any minute now, and he wanted everything to be in place and ready for him. He'd arranged a veritable pornographic cornucopia for him on their coffee table, and he was eager to catalogue his flatmate's reactions to the various items.

There were the aforementioned handcuffs, of course, along with a standard metal pair that he'd nicked from Lestrade, a black bullwhip, a ball gag, several silk handkerchiefs in a variety of colours, three different kinds of floggers, and—of course—his beloved riding crop.

He'd deduced from John's military career and his response to the journalist in the bondage gear that if John had a fetish, it most likely involved some form of BDSM. He'd yet to determine which of the three subcategories of that fetish John preferred—bondage, dominant-submissive or sadomasochism—but that was the point of this experiment. It was a shot in the dark, but he was willing to bet it was a good one.

A moment later he heard their front door bang open, and he quickly sequestered himself in his pre-selected hiding place behind John's armchair. He could peer around the back and watch John with little chance of the doctor spotting him. Sometimes it came in handy that his flatmate was so terribly unobservant.

"Sherlock!" he heard John shout as he climbed up the stairs. "Sherlock, I picked up Thai food for dinner on my way home. I got that curry you like, and—"

There was abrupt silence.

Sherlock smiled. John had undoubtedly entered the room and spotted the BDSM smorgasbord. He could practically feel him scanning the flat, checking to see if there was anyone else around.

Now the real fun would begin.

Sherlock hazarded a glance around the side of the armchair. John was in fact standing in their living room with two bags of takeaway in his arms. His gaze was riveted on the coffee table and the items adorning it. His cheeks were quite noticeably filling with blood, and Sherlock could hear his heavy breathing even with the distance.

A very good shot in the dark indeed.

Carefully, John set the takeaway down on the sofa. Even more carefully, he reached over with tentative fingers and picked up the bullwhip. It uncoiled like a black snake, sliding to the floor. There was a creaking sound as John gripped the leather firmly, flexing his strong fingers around it. He ran his left hand over the thick knot at the end of the handle; it fit perfectly in his palm with practiced ease.

It seemed John was somewhat familiar with whips. Sherlock couldn't stop the wide grin that spread over his face. Now that was interesting.

He could tell from the way John was handling the whip that he was imagining using it. That meant he would likely want to do the whipping as opposed to being the recipient of the blows. That in turn strongly suggested he had either a sadistic or dominant streak. Potentially both. Unusual for a doctor, but then again, Sherlock reminded himself, he was also a military man.

John picked up a pair of handcuffs next, the plain metal ones. That was to be expected. Sherlock hadn't really thought he'd go for the ridiculous leopard pair, but variety was allegedly the spice of life. John fingered the metal rings thoughtfully, his eyes glazing over in a way that suggested he'd slipped into a daydream. Was he thinking about being handcuffed? No, that didn't fit with his earlier handling of the whip, which was still in his left hand. He wouldn't want to be subdued if he preferred to assume a dominant role.

Sherlock frowned slightly. That meant he had to be thinking about handcuffing someone else. And potentially whipping them? He needed more data before he could answer that conclusively.

He gave the other man a perfunctory exam, stopping short when he reached his groin. Unless Sherlock was very much mistaken, John was half-erect. Well, that was certainly telling. Something about whips and/or handcuffs definitely aroused John. The possibility of a BDSM fetish was growing increasingly likely. He felt an odd, warm tingle low in his body, but he ignored it.

With a quick huff of breath, John set the whip and handcuffs back where he'd found them, took the takeaway into the kitchen and then jogged up the stairs to his bedroom. It was only when his door slammed shut that Sherlock ventured out from his hiding place.

Hm. Interesting. He was on the right scent—closing in on his unwitting prey—and it was the happiest he'd felt without chemical stimulus in quite some time.

Sherlock had a pretty good idea what John was doing right now alone in his room, and the concept was intriguing. What exactly was he imagining as he touched himself? What was he thinking of doing, and to whom was he thinking of doing it?

Sherlock was itching to solve the case, and he had a feeling it wouldn't be long now.

John may have been a lot of things, but he wasn't stupid. He was a doctor, after all, a fact which Sherlock frequently forgot in favour of labeling him an idiot.

There was no way those sex toys just happened to be lying on their coffee table. Sure, they could have been for a case or an experiment, but John knew for a fact Sherlock was only working on one case right now.

And that was The Adventure of the Flatmate's Fetish.

So, Sherlock had worked it out then. He supposed he shouldn't be surprised. Sherlock always worked it out eventually. It was what made him such a great detective and subsequently the worst flatmate in the history of mankind. John had officially surrendered his last bit of privacy to him, and he hadn't even done it willingly.

He'd first noticed his penchant for dominance when he'd joined the army fresh out of university, years before he'd left for his medical training. He'd started as an officer and had climbed the ranks from there, more thanks to his bravery and willingness to take risks than any ambition on his part. It had taken some time, but he'd eventually earned the title "captain", which put him in a fairly estimable position. The first time he'd pulled rank as a young military man—flushed from the adrenaline in his veins and the scent of danger in the air—the resulting shock of excitement he'd felt had perplexed him. The mumbled "yes, sir" he'd received in response to his barked order had shot through him like lightning, and for the life of him he couldn't explain why. Later, when he'd had a chance to thoroughly analyse his response, he'd recognised the feeling as arousal. Once given a name, the reaction had only intensified. He'd had no choice but to quietly admit to himself that he very much enjoyed it when the lieutenants called him "sir" and saluted him first. He'd never been a tall man or a particularly large one, but in this way he could still wield quite a bit of authority. The prospect left him breathless.

John Watson had a dominant streak, and hard as he tried to rein it in, it was as strong now as it had been when he was a teenager.

He was currently lying on his bed, trousers undone and pants pushed down to his thighs. He had a fist wrapped around his leaking erection and was panting slightly from the hot, thick rush of desire washing into him. He let the memory of the whip flood his brain, felt its thickness in his hand like he now felt his own prick. In his mind, he was holding the whip as he calmly observed a naked body kneeling in front of him. The figure had its back to him, revealing that its wrists were bound together with handcuffs behind it. This was a fantasy John had experienced hundreds of times in his life, yet it never got old. Sometimes the body was female, but most of the time it was male. This was a domination game, after all. It was more fun to play with a specimen that was physically on his level but forced to act like it wasn't.

Today, the man in his fantasy was long and lean with a mop of black curls atop his head. John refused to acknowledge why that was and focused instead on the expanse of creamy white back in front of him, just begging to be marked. The whip was light in his hands, and he flicked it forward almost flirtatiously. It left the slightest of pink marks on the skin before it, just a thin, faint line really, but the resulting gasp from the body it touched left John quivering.

He started to move the hand on his prick faster, gripped himself just slightly tighter. Oh, this was good. He could already feel the intensity of the orgasm that awaited him.

In his mind, the next blow fell harder, leaving a true welt and earning a deep moan from his imaginary lover. It resonated in his ears and sent shivers down his spine. He loved this, loved knowing he was the one who dictated when the blows landed and how hard they were, how much pleasure his partner was allowed to feel at his hand and how much he received in return.

His hand was pumping more quickly now, stroking his prick in short, harsh movements that were slicked by his own precum.

He imagined the whip falling harder, wringing cries and moans from the victim it was striking upon. It was marking that milky back with bright crimson streaks that stood out in lovely contrast to the white skin. A deep, baritone voice that was all too familiar was saying, "Yes, sir, please! Punish me."

John came with a groan that he belatedly bit back, remembering his flatmate was probably just downstairs. Pleasure rolled over him in waves, fueled by the intensity of his fantasy.

He laid still for long minutes afterwards, his semen cooling on his stomach, with one thought playing over and over in his head: now that Sherlock knew, he was definitely fucked.

The Adventure of the Flatmate's Fetish was not going well.

Good name, though. Sherlock had overheard John muttering about it and had quickly deduced what it meant. Normally, he hated John's names for his cases, but in this instance the alliteration added a little special something. Sherlock was starting to get irritable, however, due to his lack of success. He was no stranger to cases that took time and subtlety to solve, but really this was getting ridiculous. John was being even more uncooperative than usual, and Sherlock's creativity was starting to run low.

Since the incident with the bullwhip, things between them had reached an impasse. Sherlock was bored of forcing strange fetishes on John, and John was resolutely avoiding him. He was also making it completely impossible for him to determine the precise nature of his fetish, and Sherlock just couldn't cope with an unfinished melody. He desire to know had grown from a mere flicker of curiosity to an all-consuming need.

He was currently lying on their sofa—four nicotine patches were slapped on his forearm—and John was in the kitchen making enchiladas that Sherlock would childishly refuse to eat. He wanted to punish his flatmate for refusing to be the simple puzzle he'd originally assumed he was. Then again, that was one of the things he liked best about John.

There had to be a way. There had to be some method he could use to coerce John into telling him what his fetish was without him directly saying it and ruining his fun-turned-agitation. Maybe Sherlock could arrange a new set of variables and deduce it somehow. Or surprise John into blurting it out.

Hm, that last idea had merit. Then again, John had been a soldier, and Sherlock knew for a fact the man worked well under pressure. Perhaps he needed to focus more on actions than situations.

Possibilities whirled in his brilliant mind. He was distantly aware of John calling to him from the kitchen, but he ignored him. John should know by now not to bother Sherlock when he was thinking.

There were several points about the case on which he was absolutely certain:

1. John was not as heterosexual as he wanted the world to believe. Much as he did parade an endless line of vacuous females around, he was decidedly bisexual. There was a reason why he only ever claimed to not be gay, rather than saying he was straight.

2. John was attracted to him. Sherlock couldn't be certain how aware he was of this attraction, but he suspected it was something John knew but refused to acknowledge. The man spent far too much time staring at his arse when he thought Sherlock couldn't see him for there to be any other conclusion.

3. Sherlock didn't mind that John was attracted to him. In fact, of late Sherlock had been reconsidering his stance on physical relationships in light of how well he and John worked together.

4. John would do anything for Sherlock. Obvious. He'd killed a man for him within hours of meeting him.

5. While all of these above points were true, Sherlock also infuriated John on a regular basis. He was currently very irritated with him over this whole fetish thing, and he would likely jump at the opportunity to get a little revenge.

And then, with all the speed of a bolt of lightning but none of the sharp tang of ozone, it hit him.

Had Sherlock been a cartoon character, a light bulb would have turned on above his head.

He knew precisely how he was going to manipulate John into sharing his secret, and all it would take was one phone call to a woman he'd spared from a twenty-five year sentence in Penteville prison.

She ran a club in central London that catered to a very particular breed of clientele.

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were going to pay it a visit.

John was sat in his armchair with a plate of chocolate digestives and the newspaper when it happened.

The sun was just setting outside the windows of 221B Baker Street, and long, dark shadows were cast across their living room, interspersed with golden light. Sherlock appeared suddenly by his side, and it took everything John had to keep from drooling once he took in Sherlock's outfit. The man was decked out from head to toe in a stunning three-piece suit that was a gorgeous charcoal colour and clearly designer. His posh black shoes had been shined to perfection, and his dress undershirt was a deep shade of crimson that caught John's attention for reasons he quickly pushed out of his mind. The whole ensemble looked like it had been crafted specifically to hug Sherlock's long form and subsequently make him look like a combination of sex and sin.

"Are you going out tonight?" John managed to blurt out after an embarrassingly long pause.

Sherlock grinned. "We are going out tonight."

"You have a case, then?"

"Yes, and your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Care to join me?"

"Of course." John set his paper aside and stood up, already feeling a familiar rush of excitement at the thought of the adventure that undoubtedly awaited them.

Sherlock pointed up the stairs to his bedroom. "Change into your army uniform. I know you still have it in that box at the back left corner of your closet."

John hesitated, partially at the thought of impersonating an active-duty soldier but mostly because he had to wonder how Sherlock knew where he kept it. "Why?"

Sherlock considered him for a moment before answering, "You're right, I should ask first instead of assuming. Would you rather pretend to be a dominant in a BDSM relationship or a submissive?"

John's jaw dropped so fast, the joint audibly cracked. "Wh—what?"

"You know I despise having to repeat myself, John."

"Well, you can bloody well get over it! I want an explanation!"

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Fine. Our precise destination this evening is a club by the name of Sin-tillate. It's owned by a woman who owes me a favour, and she's agreed to help me infiltrate her establishment in the hopes of getting some vital information out of one of her clients. In order to avoid arousing the man's suspicion, you and I are going to pose as a couple. Oh, and it's a BDSM club, so I think one of us should pretend to be a dominant and the other a submissive. Which would you prefer?"

John's jaw had magically found a way to drop further during the course of this inexplicably-calm explanation. Sherlock was mad. He was absolutely mad if he thought John would go to a BDSM club with him. That, or this was some kind of plot to . . . he didn't know what. Sherlock was clearly up to something, though. John had assumed after the bit with the whips on their coffee table that Sherlock had worked out what his fetish was, so why would he knowingly invite him to a club that catered to precisely that kink?

"No way," he said firmly. "I will not pretend to be your gay boyfriend and go parading around in a sex club. There's just no way."

"But John," Sherlock whined, "I genuinely need your help! If I go alone and start chatting up a bunch of people who have never seen me around before, I'll look suspicious! Having someone else there to corroborate my story will be invaluable. Besides, it's not expressly a sex club. Some people go there just to discuss their lifestyle decision with others who are of a similar mind."

"Do you not remember the talk we had about things flatmates should not do together? This is definitely one of those things! It's weird, plain and simple. People don't go to sex clubs with their friends. It's too personal."

"But Joooooohn," Sherlock's deep voice had taken on a nasal quality that grated against John's nerves, "I can't solve the case without the information this man has. Besides, I would think you'd leap at an opportunity to potentially order me around for an entire evening."

John was about to protest further when Sherlock's last statement sunk in. Before he could stop it, the image from his fantasy flooded into his mind: a lean, supple body kneeling in front of him with red lashes blooming on white skin like Christmas flowers in the snow. He had to stop himself from shuddering as a wave of arousal swept through him and made his nerve endings tingle. He wondered if his flatmate had any idea how much that image appealed to him. Considering what a manipulative bastard he was, it was highly likely.

Still, maybe this wasn't such a terrible idea after all. It sounded like the case was pretty important, and it wasn't like they were going to do anything. Like Sherlock said, it'd be nice to be the one calling the shots for once, and if he appeared to be enjoying himself just a little too much, he could always blame it on that.

The word was out of his mouth before his brain had even processed it. "Dominant." John cleared his throat and then spoke slightly more loudly, "I'd rather be the dominant, if that's all right with you." He winced as he realised he'd left out the word "pretend."

"Excellent." Sherlock was grinning, and John knew he was in trouble. "That was my assumption from the start. You understand now why I would prefer it if you wore your army uniform for this. The appearance of authority will lend credence to the role. I'll wait while you get dressed."

John hesitated for only a moment longer before he bounded up the stairs to his room and began digging in his closet for the box that held his scrubs. They still fit him perfectly—he tried them on occasionally to ensure that—and he had to admit they made him feel strangely comforted, like the embrace of an old friend. He pulled the clothing on with practiced ease, though his fingers trembled slightly from the anticipation building in his chest. He was insane for agreeing to this. He was going to go to a BDSM club with his flatmate whom he had been recently forced to admit he was attracted to and pretend to be his boyfriend whilst also pretending he wasn't completely turned on by the thought of dominating him.

He had the sneaking suspicion he was about to get himself into a load of trouble.

When he was dressed and ready, he headed back downstairs only to have Sherlock sweep them both out of the flat and into a taxi. The ride was a short one, unfortunately, which meant John had almost no time to prepare himself for what they were about to do. He supposed that was a good thing, however, as he'd really rather not think about it.

The outside of the club was perfectly innocuous. No one passing by the modest face of the plain white building would suspect what it truly was. Only a small sign next to the door with the name "Sin-tillate" painted in flowing red letters told them they were at the right place. The sun had set by now, and the glow of a nearby streetlamp cast their faces into half-shadow.

"John," Sherlock said, his voice low, "before we go in there, I think we should choose a safe word, just in case something unexpected happens."

John nodded slowly and cast about for something suitable. "How about 'vatican cameos'? That's worked well enough for us in the past."

"That's acceptable." He turned his gaze to John's face. His expression was unreadable. "We're going to need to convince people that we're truly in a relationship. That means we'll have to touch each other and engage in other classic signs of affection. You'll also need to make it clear at all times that you're the one in charge. You're certain you're all right with that?"

John only barely managed not to chuckle. Sherlock had no idea how all right he was with that. "Yes."

"Very well." They approached the entrance, and Sherlock knocked on the door four times in a peculiar rhythm that John assumed was code. It opened immediately, revealing a very pretty blonde woman in a very tight black dress. She was in her late 30s by John's estimate and was wearing a considerable amount of black eye shadow that made her pale green eyes pop. She also had a whip coiled around her neck and a bracelet of sharp silver spikes.

"Come in," she said with a slight French accent and stepped back so they could get around her. "I've been expecting you."

"Thank you, Ms Legrand," Sherlock said smoothly. They strode into a smallish entrance hall that looked reminiscent of a boudoir. The furniture was ornate—white and detailed with gold paint—and seemed antique. There were candles flickering atop every flat surface, bathing them in a warm, intimate glow. The walls were draped in ivory silk, and a series of plump sofas placed off to the side suggested this was where people sat while they waited to get into the main area.

"Please, call me Sophia." The woman smiled at Sherlock in a flirtatious, familiar way, and John felt an inexplicable spike of anger. He put a possessive hand on the small of Sherlock's back without thinking. Sherlock jumped slightly at the unexpected touch, but he didn't move away. They were, after all, supposed to be pretending to be a couple. John would cling to that excuse as hard as he could.

"Thank you again for your cooperation," Sherlock continued, leaning his body back into John's. The action made warmth bloom in his stomach, but he kept his expression nonchalant, as if this were something they did every day. "If all goes according to plan, we may be able to gather the information necessary to take a very dangerous criminal off the streets."

"I'm happy to help," she replied, but she shot John a sour look, jealousy plainly written over her features. He had a mad impulse to stick his tongue out at her. "Most of my clients are through this door," she pointed to the left, "where the main bar and stage are located. However, there are private rooms in the back that the man you're looking for could be inside. I ask that you not disturb the people who are using them, as they pay frankly exorbitant amounts of money to rent those rooms."

"If he's not in the main area, we'll come back another time and try again," Sherlock assured her.

John didn't believe for one second the detective was capable of showing that kind of restraint when he was focused on a case.

Sophia, however, seemed mollified. "In that case, you're free to enter. Be forewarned, however, that patrons are permitted to engage in both sexual activities and sadomasochistic displays within the main room. We provide a full range of tools to accommodate most any act a client could wish to perform, and while we encourage the use of safe words to ensure consent between participants, we do not require them. There are some purists who think giving a submissive even that modicum of control over their situation defeats the purpose. If any of that makes you uncomfortable, I highly suggest you don't walk through that door."

Sherlock looked to John and asked a question with his eyes. The former soldier nodded in answer, and Sherlock turned back to Sophia, "We understand what we're doing and are fully prepared for what we might be exposed to."

"Very well then." She stepped back and swept her arm towards the door. "After you."

Sherlock started to move towards it, but John stepped ahead of him, slipping into his role as the dominant member of this partnership. He firmly took Sherlock's hand and towed him along behind him. The door to the main room was pretty standard except for the fact that it was painted bright red like the lettering on the sign outside. John's heartbeat raced as he reached for the doorknob, wrapping his fingers around the cool metal. They were just here for a case, he reminded himself. They would find the man Sherlock was looking for, get the information they needed and then leave. There was no reason for him to think anything exciting was going to happen.

His pulse disagreed wholeheartedly.

Sherlock's hand was warm and firm in his, and John couldn't stop thinking about how the second they entered the main room, he would have to do everything John told him to do. It made him want to salivate. He glanced back at Sherlock and swept his eyes once more over the gorgeous suit that encased his equally gorgeous body. If Sherlock thought anything of the scrutiny, he didn't mention it. He merely squeezed John's fingers in a reassuring way.

After taking one final, steadying breath, John turned the doorknob and pushed the door open.

The club was absolutely nothing like he'd imagined.

It was huge, first of all. Much bigger on the inside than he'd assumed from looking at the outside. The intimate candles from the entrance hall had been replaced with hanging lamps that threw some areas into light while leaving others darkened. The bar took up the entire far right side of the room, and it was packed with both customers and bartenders. Sofas and armchairs dotted the floor, usually in clusters that suggested groups of people gathered there to talk, among other things. There were alcoves off to the side where John could vaguely see dark shadows moving. Finally, on the left side of the room, there was a raised, well-lit platform that could only be the stage Sophia had referred to.

John felt his cheeks heat up as he took in the scene. The stage sported everything from shackles on the wall to sex swings suspended from the ceiling. There was even a medical examination table complete with leather restraints. There was a couple up there now, a woman in black leather and platform boots with a flogger in her hand and a man who was strapped upright to a Y-shaped contraption. The red marks on his exposed chest suggested the woman had been flogging him for quite some time. As John watched, she drew her hand back and then brought the leather down on the man's chest, shouting something John couldn't hear. The man cried out and then shuddered a moment later with apparent pleasure.

John realised he was starting to get hard and quickly looked away. He needed to at least pretend this whole thing wasn't making him giddy with desire. Squaring his shoulders in a semblance of his military posture, he tugged Sherlock towards the bar without asking him if that was where he wanted to go or not. He was met with no resistance, and it made him want to shiver. He'd never admitted to himself before how much he'd wanted to exert this kind of influence over the man who'd swept into his life and turned everything on its head. Now that he'd finally been given a taste, he didn't know how he could ever do without. That was a worry for another time, however. He wanted to savour this.

They reached the bar, and John pulled out a stool. "Sit," he commanded, and he watched as Sherlock docilely followed his order. He then pulled out another stool for himself and flagged down a bartender. He ordered a pint of Guinness and then turned back to Sherlock. He was scanning the line of patrons at the bar, presumably searching for the man they needed to talk to.

"So," John asked, lowering his voice so they wouldn't be overheard, "what's the plan?"

"We'll need to remain unobtrusive," Sherlock answered slowly, his attention clearly absorbed in scanning the room. "Putting your hand on my back was a brilliant touch, by the way. Keep making displays of possessiveness towards me. Feel free to give me orders, and don't ask my permission for anything. If anyone questions you, stick as closely to the truth as possible: we've known each other for over a year and live together. We met through a mutual friend."

John nodded. "Seems easy enough."

"Ah, I see our target. Excellent. Turn your head casually to the left and look for a man with red hair and a black fishnet shirt. Be subtle about it."

John followed his instructions, pretending to stretch his neck and shooting a quick glance to the side. Sure enough, about a dozen people down from them there was a man who looked to be in his early twenties wearing black trousers and a fishnet shirt that showed off his pale, lean chest. His hair was a bright copper colour and extremely curly, lending him an air of boyish charm.

John looked back at Sherlock and quirked a brow. "Really? He's just a kid."

"Are children incapable of housing important information?"


John took the opportunity to examine some of the other people sitting at the bar. They were certainly an eclectic bunch, ranging from men in full-body latex suits to women with briefcases who looked like they'd come here straight from their high-powered jobs in the city. There were the typical people who went out of their way to look like dominants by wearing corsets or combat boots and the same for submissives: he spotted multiple people wearing collars around their necks and even one woman being led on her hand and knees by a leash. No one seemed to be paying attention to what anyone else was doing, and without the occasional cry of pain ringing out from the shadows, it could have been a normal bar. It was bizarre and fascinating at the same time.

John turned back to Sherlock who was waiting patiently for him to finish his scrutiny. "What now?"

"Strike up a conversation with the woman he came here with. It'll seem less suspicious if we don't go for him directly. She's the one standing right next to him. You'll need to find an excuse to talk to her, and then put me in some sort of submissive position. I'll let you decide what you pick, but keep in mind both of them must see you do it, and it must be absolutely clear that I follow your orders unquestioningly."

John had to bite back a moan at the thought, but he managed to nod.

Sherlock continued, "Ask the woman about her fetish and answer any questions she asks about your own. I'll take it from there."

John nodded again, feeling a familiar thrum of arousal in his chest as he imagined all the things he could order Sherlock to do. It would be miraculous if he made it through the night without bursting at the seams.

He stood up just as the bartender brought him his Guinness. John paid for it and then took a considerable gulp to steady his nerves. He then gestured vaguely for Sherlock to follow him and made his way casually over to the red-haired man and his female companion. She was brunette and so tall she could probably look Sherlock in the eye. When he got close enough, he pretended to stumble slightly and crash into her shoulder, making certain not to spill his beer on her but knocking her glass right out of her hand. Both the woman and the man jumped away from the bar in surprise and turned to face him.

"Oh, wow, I'm so sorry!" he said, feigning distress. "I hope I didn't spill on you. Let me buy you a drink to replace the one you dropped."

The woman hesitated, looking him over from head to toe, and then smiled shyly. "That's all right. Accidents do happen."

"I insist," John said firmly, and he noticed the woman flushed slightly at his authoritarian tone. Probably a sub then. "It's only fair, since I was the one who knocked into you." He set his beer down on the bar between the man and the woman, staking his territory. He then turned back to Sherlock and said, "Kneel."

Sherlock slid immediately to his knees and then looked up at him with obedient blue eyes, awaiting further instruction. All the blood in John's body was fighting to rush south, but he managed to contain himself. "Stay there. Do not move one inch unless I tell you to. There will be consequences if you disobey me. Nod if you understand." Sherlock nodded, and John very nearly shuddered.

He turned back to the woman and said, "I'm John, by the way. What would you like to drink?"

"A vodka martini with an onion instead of an olive, thanks. I'm Julia, and this is my boyfriend, Ben."

John turned to Ben and offered his hand. The redhead took it and gave it a firm shake. "Nice to meet you, John." He turned his head to look at where Sherlock was kneeling on the ground in a suit that had probably cost a thousand quid. "You've got your friend over there very well trained. He hasn't moved a muscle or so much as taken his eyes off you since you ordered him down."

John gave Julia's order to the nearest bartender and then glanced carelessly over his shoulder, as if he'd forgotten someone was there. "That's my boyfriend. I'd introduce him, but I'm thinking he doesn't get to have a name tonight. He's been irritating me lately."

Ben and Julia both chuckled, and then Julia winked at him. "I like a man with a firm hand, and the uniform isn't hurting either. You were a soldier?"

"A captain, to be specific. Just got back from Afghanistan a little over a year ago. That's when I met my pet here." He nodded at Sherlock before picking up his beer and taking a sip. "He was a pain in the arse at first, the kind of sub who purposefully disobeys to get you to punish them harder, but with a little polishing he turned out quite nicely." It was strange how easily the lie came to him. He supposed it was because that's how he imagined Sherlock would be if he really were a sub: defiant and arrogant, refusing to submit to anyone who failed to prove they were worthy.

Fortunately, his story seemed to have made the other couple want to share in return. Ben was the one who spoke next, "Julia had a little of that in her when we first started dating. Still does, actually." They grinned conspiratorially at each other. "I don't mind so much, though. There's no such thing as a perfect sub."

"Oh, I have to disagree with you there." John smiled smugly. "I would never tolerate that sort of behaviour from my sub. He knows better than to provoke me by now." He reached down and ran his fingers through Sherlock's curls, as if he were petting the head of a dog. They were soft and springy against his skin, just as he'd imagined they'd be. Sherlock was actually beaming up at him and nuzzling his hand, as if he enjoyed the praise. John was impressed by his acting skills. He seemed genuinely pleased to have his dom compliment him on his subbing ability.

Ben frowned, looking a little put out by the implication that John was a better dom than him. "Just because you can get him to sit patiently while you drink a beer doesn't mean he's a perfect sub."

John didn't know why he was so determined to defend Sherlock, but the words that came out of his mouth next had a definite edge of anger, "He'll do a lot more than that. In fact, he'll do anything I tell him to." He turned to Sherlock, tightening the hand he had in his hair possessively. "Isn't that right?"

Sherlock nodded and closed his eyes, seemingly savouring the fingers that were tugging on his hair.

Julia was still grinning. "Well, he certainly seems like you've broken him in."

Ben wasn't so easily convinced. "I think we may need to see a demonstration."

John froze. Shit. He hadn't anticipated that. "I don't know. We've never played in public before."

Ben smirked as if he'd won something. "How convenient. That means there's no one who can confirm how good your pet there really is. Forgive me if I don't just take you at your word."

Fuck. John's heartbeat raced as he tried to think of what he should do. Sherlock had said they needed to be convincing, but he'd never said he was actually willing to do anything with him. He'd also made it apparent, however, that he couldn't solve the case without gaining this man's trust. John searched his flatemate's face. He couldn't ask Sherlock if he was okay with whatever he might end up doing because that would prove John didn't have complete control of him. Could he even cross that line with him without ruining their friendship?

Sherlock must have seen the distress in his face, because a moment later he gave him an almost imperceptible nod.

John's heart very nearly stopped in his chest.

Sherlock had said yes.

He'd just given John permission to do whatever he wanted to him. John's brain short-circuited at the thought. His brain vacillated between thinking this was a bad idea and thinking this was the best idea anyone had ever had.

His mouth went dry, and he took a sip of his beer to try and wet it before he spoke. He voice was strangely calm, considering his emotions were currently doing somersaults. "Hm, he has been quite a dick this past week. Perhaps a public punishment is just what he needs."

Ben and Julia exchanged wicked smiles before Julia said, "The plot thickens. This ought to be a good show."

"If it's all the same to you," John said, "I'd rather not take him up on stage. Since it's his first performance in front of an audience, I'd like to avoid overwhelming him."

Ben shrugged. "Doesn't make any difference to me. We can move to one of the alcoves if you like."

"I think that would work."

He searched Sherlock's face again, trying to read his mind. Was this really okay? Did Sherlock want this, or was it all just an act? A means to an end so he could solve his case? John wasn't certain how he felt about that, but they did have a safe word. If he went too far, Sherlock could use it to let him know without blowing their cover.

"Stand and follow me," he said to Sherlock, his tone firm and steady. The other man complied, and with a waving gesture to Ben and Julia, John made his way to the floor. Most of the alcoves had people in them—and some of those people were doing very interesting things indeed—but he managed to find one off to the side that was both dark and reasonably secluded. He stepped back to allow the other couple to enter first, and they settled themselves on a sofa to the right.

There was a wooden rack on the wall containing an assortment of different whips and other disciplinary tools. It even had a ruler.

John turned to Sherlock who was standing patiently at his side. "Go to the rack and pick what you'd like me to use on you. This is the only decision you get to make tonight, so choose wisely."

John tried to ignore the nervous energy bubbling under his skin. By giving Sherlock this one decision, he hoped he could make this a little easier on him. It made his consent feel less dubious, at least.

Sherlock obediently trotted over to the rack and examined his options. After only about a minute, he selected a riding crop and held it out for John to take. The former soldier almost laughed. Always with the bloody riding crop.

"Kneel," he said as he flexed the leather tool in his hands. "Take off your jacket and shirt, and then get on your hands and knees."

Sherlock dropped down in the middle of the space, equidistant from John and the couple on the sofa. Ben and Julia were both leaning eagerly forward, clearly ready for the show to begin.

John turned to them. "You are not to offer him any encouragement whatsoever. I don't want you soothing him while I'm trying to make a point."

Ben bristled a little at the order, but they both nodded.

John looked back to Sherlock. He had his jacket off, the expensive fabric pooling on the ground next to him, and his long fingers were making quick work of his button-down shirt.

God, John couldn't believe this. He was so dizzy with desire he feared he might swoon. He wanted this so very badly, and it killed him to not know if Sherlock felt the same way. What if he went too far? Crossed some line that couldn't be uncrossed? Would their friendship be ruined? How could Sherlock possibly be okay with the fact that he was about to make John extremely turned on?

He shoved his racing thoughts from his head and focused on the task at hand. Sherlock had given him a role to play, and god dammit he was going to do a bloody good job.

When Sherlock was naked from the waist up and on all fours, John circled him slowly, letting the anticipation build in the air. He'd never seen the other man look more beautiful. He was looking down, which meant his dark curls made his head blend in with the shadows. He was nothing but a pale, perfect back gleaming in the darkness, waiting for John to mark him.

He was half-hard already and praying no one could tell. The urge to palm himself through his trousers was overwhelming, but he forced himself not to. He could get through this if he could just focus.

"I'm going to start striking you, pet," he announced calmly, still circling slowly around Sherlock. "You're not going to know when the blows will fall or how hard they'll be, nor will you know how many times I'll hit you. You will address me as 'sir', and you will thank me for each one. Do you understand?"

John would have sworn he saw Sherlock's torso quiver, but that couldn't be the case.

He was equally surprised by the reply he received.

In a voice that was impossibly deep and audibly shaking, Sherlock quietly said, "Yes, sir."

John was perplexed. Was he nervous? Frightened? Should he stop this before it even began?

Ben supplied another possibility. "Oi, listen to him stutter. He wants it so badly he can't even keep his voice steady." He and Julia chuckled darkly.

John struggled to keep his expression nonchalant. Could that possibly be true? Did Sherlock actually want this?

He gripped the riding crop tightly. It seemed he was about to find out.

Without warning, he brought it down hard across Sherlock's back, leaving a very visible red line on his white skin.

Sherlock cried out in mixed surprise and pain, and John could see his fingers gripping the floor tightly. The detective paused for only a second, long enough to suck in a breath, before he shakily said, "Thank you, sir."

The words went straight to John's groin. Their actual meaning was arousing enough, but when combined with Sherlock's rumbling voice and the sight of him kneeling and vulnerable in front of him . . . . John had never before experienced anything so thoroughly erotic. Any hope he had of maintaining the ruse that he was unaffected by this flew out the window next when an unplanned order tumbled from his lips.

"Beg," he said quietly. "Beg for me to hit you again."

Sherlock hesitated for a fraction of a second before he said in a needy tone, "Please, sir. I need to be punished. Please hit me again."

John swore under his breath. It should be illegal to sound so delicious. Without thinking, he brought the riding crop down again, this time up towards Sherlock's shoulder blades. The man jolted when the blow landed and cried out again. Something shivered down his spine, and if John didn't know any better, he'd say it was pleasure.

"Thank you, sir. Please give me more." His voice had turned impossibly breathy, no more than a baritone purr in the air. There was an unmistakable seductive note to it that John couldn't begin to interpret. If Sherlock thought he needed to try to turn John on, he was sorely mistaken.

John was beginning to wonder if anyone could actually be that good of an actor. Sherlock had to be pretending to enjoy this, but he was doing a little too convincing of a job.

The next three blows landed in rapid succession over the small of Sherlock's back. The man gasped and keened each time, but he never forgot to thank John or use his title. It wasn't until the tenth blow that Sherlock began to sway slightly on his hands, as if he were struggling to hold himself up.

John smiled. He knew precisely what that meant. "The endorphins are kicking in, aren't they, pet?"

Sherlock sucked in a shuddering breath. "Yes, sir."

"You feel like you're floating, don't you? Like the room's spinning and you can't think straight, but it feels so good, doesn't it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Describe it to me. Tell me exactly what you're feeling."

Sherlock paused, obviously struggling to gather his thoughts. "It feels . . . hot, sir. The skin on my back is so hot where you've hit me. It doesn't hurt at all anymore. It gives me this strange, burning pleasure that makes my whole body prickle. I can't think of anything except you standing over me, about to hit me again. I want more, sir."

John couldn't help himself this time. He reached down and scrubbed his hand over the erection straining against his trousers, starting a little when the movement sent a sharp jolt of pleasure through him. He was far too turned on for his own good. He'd long since forgotten about everything: the case, the club, the other people that might glance over and see him touching himself. Nothing mattered except for the man on the ground in front of him. There was a very real possibility that he might come, practically untouched, in his pants from the sound of Sherlock's voice alone.

Sherlock's back was a roadmap of red, intersecting lines. John selected an unmarked section, cocked his hand back and brought it down harder than he ever had before.

There was no mistaking it this time. When the riding crop landed on his back, Sherlock trembled with unmistakable ecstasy and moaned. John froze at the sound. Sherlock was enjoying this. In fact, from the sound of things he was enjoying this quite a lot. It wasn't an act. He wanted this.

John had to see. He had to know for sure.

"Get on your knees."

Sherlock's arms were shaking, but he obediently pushed himself up. John's eyes went straight to his groin.

Sherlock was hard. Definitely hard.

There was no hiding it. John could plainly see Sherlock watching him, knowing where he was looking, knowing what he was looking at, but he didn't care. He stared openly at the bulge in his trousers, not quite believing his own eyes. He'd given Sherlock an erection from beating him with a riding crop.

Sherlock was looking at him, too, noticing his own erection. They were both out now, and John had absolutely no idea what to do. He could practically see the line drawn in the sand before him. Did he dare to cross it?

For one blinding moment, he panicked. There was no way he could do this. This was Sherlock, for Christ's sake. His brain fumbled through the haze of his arousal to remember the safe word, to force his mouth to blurt it out. How could they possibly allow this to happen?

Sherlock answered the question for him. He looked up at him with his beautiful blue eyes and said in a pleading tone, "Please, sir. I need you."

Something inside John snapped. He took whatever reservations he had about this and tossed them across the room. Consequences be damned.

"Undo your trousers and push them down to your knees. Then get back on all fours."

Sherlock scrambled to do as he was told, his excitement evident. His trousers opened to reveal tight red briefs the same colour as his dress shirt. When his trousers were down and he was back on all fours, John took the riding crop and dragged it down the skin of his back, not bothering to avoid the welts he'd left. Sherlock shuddered again and made a small, breathy moan that shot between John's legs. When he reached the waistband of the red briefs, he let the leather slip briefly beneath it, toying with it.

"Reach back," he ordered softly but steadily, "and push these down."

"Yes, sir," Sherlock replied, and his tone was distinctively hungry. A pale hand appeared, and the pants were unceremoniously shoved down, revealing possibly the most glorious, plump arse John had ever seen. It was round and white and perfect in every way. John couldn't help himself. He reached down and squeezed one full cheek in his hand, earning another moan from Sherlock. He gave it a sharp slap, and the moan became a choked sob.

"Beautiful," he said, "but not for long."

Without hesitation, he brought the riding crop down across the right cheek. Colour bloomed across it immediately, and John reached down to rub the mark soothingly.

Sherlock groaned and arched his back before saying, "Thank you, sir."

"You are no longer required to say that after every blow," John said. It was about to become impossible for him to do so anyways.

Without warning, John began raining hits down on him, pausing only long enough to draw his hand back again before he aimed another one. The air filled with the sound of leather slapping against flesh and Sherlock's unrestrained moans. The hits varied in strength and location—from Sherlock's arse to the backs of his thighs—but each one brought them both closer to the edge.

"Sir," Sherlock panted, "sir, I'm going to—"

"Not without permission," John growled, and he abruptly stopped hitting him.

Sherlock whined and arched up again as if searching for contact. "Yes, sir."

"I want you to ask me for what you want. Be specific."

Sherlock was visibly quivering, his breath coming in laboured heaves. "I want to come, sir."

The words made John ache. "How do you want to come?"

"I want you to touch me, sir."

It was official. This was going to be the death of him.

John threw the riding crop to the ground, strode over to an armchair and fell into it. He then waved Sherlock over, impatiently saying, "Come here."

Sherlock started to pull up his trousers and climb unsteadily to his feet, but John stopped him with a barked order, "Crawl."

Slowly, gracefully, Sherlock slid forward on his hands and knees, looking like a jungle cat with hungry eyes. His body undulated beautifully as he moved. John admired his handiwork while the other man approached him. Sherlock's entire backside was riddled with marks. They suited him strangely well.

When Sherlock reached his knees, John said, "Take off your trousers and pants, and then sit on my lap facing me."

The detective rose fluidly to his feet. His eyes never left John's as he pushed his trousers down, stepping out of them and kicking them to the side, and then reached down and pulled the band of his pants out and down, freeing his erection at last. His prick wasn't much different from John's, longish with a thick head and protrusions from the veins under the skin. It was the contrast of his pale skin with the nest of jet-black pubic hair that made John stare. Without thinking, he reached out and threaded his fingers through the hair. It was surprisingly soft. The small needy sound that escaped from Sherlock brought him back to reality.

He pulled his hand back, and Sherlock slid eagerly into his lap, his erection bobbing against his stomach. They studied each other from inches away, their eyes intense and searching.

Then John raised his right hand and put it in front of Sherlock's face. "Lick."

The other man paused for only a moment before taking his palm, bringing it to his lips and hesitantly darting his tongue out against it.

John moaned quietly, letting his eyes fall closed for a moment. He was imagining feeling that tongue on a very different part of his anatomy. "Get it really wet."

Sherlock did as he was told, lavishing his tongue over John's palm in a way that was definitively obscene. When it was slick enough, John reached down and wrapped it around Sherlock's prick, earning a shudder from them both. He began to stroke him slowly, watching his face as he pumped his fist up and down his length. Sherlock was gasping, his eyes screwed shut and his teeth clenched. He looked utterly pornographic.

"More, sir," he groaned. "Please give me more."

John ignored him, though, continuing to move at a languid pace. He loved the tortured look that grew steadily on Sherlock's face. The man was making tiny, desperate noises and seemed to be growing more frustrated by the second. His facial expression was an exquisite mixture of ecstasy and agony.

After several long minutes of getting just enough friction to make him feel incredible but not enough to give him the release he wanted, Sherlock gripped his shoulders tightly, his eyes opening just enough to fix desperately on John.

"I can't, sir," he panted, his voice obviously roughened by frustration. "I just can't. I need—I need it, sir." John stilled his hand completely and Sherlock bucked his hips with a whine.

"I give you permission to take what you need."

Sherlock's eyes widened, and he studied John's face. When he saw no sign that this was a test, he gave an experimental rock of his hips. John kept his hand still and the pressure steady as Sherlock slid beneath his fingers, stroking himself. It didn't take the detective long to catch on, and soon he was fucking John's fist with enthusiasm, moaning and gripping his shoulders even more tightly for leverage. He rocked frantically against him, his eyes once again clenched shut and his slim hips moving back and forth as quickly as he could.

John shifted beneath him just slightly, and fuck, yes, perfect, Sherlock's arsecheeks were pressing against his erection, and every thrust of his hips rutted him right into the grove. Sherlock could get them both off with the same motion. John barely managed to keep his hand closed around the hard flesh encircled within it. He let his head drop back against the headrest and closed his eyes, focusing on the sensations. Sherlock was hot and heavy in both his hand and his lap, and the feel of him thrusting with increasing need against him was impossibly erotic. His own prick was trapped perfectly between Sherlock's firm arse and his own thigh. The friction was almost too much, almost painful in its intensity, but God it felt so good. The sound of Sherlock's moans rang in his ears and made him impossibly harder. He felt a familiar tingle deep in his stomach and knew he couldn't last much longer.

"Sherlock," he whimpered, forgetting that he wasn't supposed to use his name, "ah, Sherlock, don't stop. So close."

Sherlock moaned loudly and did the unthinkable. He reached behind himself with one hand and gripped John's erection through the fabric of his trousers.

John came so hard there were spots dancing in front of his eyes. He shouted something vaguely akin to Sherlock's name and spilled hot semen inside his pants like a bloody teenager. He felt Sherlock shudder against him a moment later, and John made certain to catch the hot liquid that streamed from his prick so it wouldn't get all over his uniform.

They were both sweaty and panting, struggling to suck in air that refused to stay in their lungs. Sherlock's fingers hadn't released the death grip they'd taken on his shoulders, and it was starting to get uncomfortable now that he didn't have searing, all-consuming pleasure to distract him.

John glanced to the left, suddenly remembering that they had guests. The sofa where Ben and Julia had sat was empty. It seemed they'd decided to slip off and give them some privacy when it became obvious where this was headed. John hadn't even noticed them leave.

He turned back to Sherlock and saw that he'd managed to get his breathing under control. He was studying John's face, blue eyes flickering rapidly over his features. John was expecting awkwardness to set in any second now. Sherlock was still naked in his lap, and they'd just had a very public wanking session. After a cursory examination of his feelings, he decided he was too knackered to feel embarrassed right now, and he'd have to do it later.

With a grunt, Sherlock finally released his shoulders and slid off of his lap, moving quickly to gather his clothing and pull it back on. John watched him with subdued interest. It took him under a minute to dress and remove all traces that anything untoward had just happened between them. That was, of course, until he reached into his breast pocket, pulled out a white handkerchief and pressed it into John's hand.

"What's this f—?" He stopped. Oh, right. Sherlock's semen was coating his hand. He quickly wiped it off and then started to hand the cloth back when he stopped short. It seemed wrong to hand a bloke his own spunk. Sherlock reached out, however, and plucked the handkerchief from his hands, folding it neatly and returning it to his pocket.

"Er," John began, "Ben left."

"I noticed."

"Sorry if I . . . ruined your case. I know you needed to talk to him."

"I've solved it."

John quirked an eyebrow. "What?"

"The case. I've solved it. We can leave now, unless you'd prefer to stay."

John couldn't imagine how Sherlock could have possibly solved the case when he'd barely spoken to Ben at all, but he definitely knew he was ready to be far away from this place. "I'd like to go home."

"Very well." Sherlock turned away and began striding towards the exit. John stared at his back disbelievingly for a moment before he scrambled after him. Apparently they weren't going to acknowledge what just happened between them.

Sherlock thanked Sophia on their way out, and John finally indulged in his desire to stick his tongue out at her. The indignant look on her face more than compensated for his loss of maturity.

They were in a cab and then back in 221B Baker Street in what seemed like record time.

John paused in the living room. He wanted to go upstairs and get into bed, but it seemed weird to do that when they hadn't discussed this. Sherlock was in the kitchen, bent over a petri dish that contained something moldy. He looked as impassive as usual with only a few telltale creases on his beautiful suit to hint anything had happened to him.

John thought about the marks that lay just beneath that expensive material and shivered. Sherlock was going to have to sleep on his stomach tonight.

The doctor in him took over, and he called into the kitchen. "You'll want to put some iodine on. On your back."

Sherlock glanced up at him. "I know."

John opened his mouth again, struggling for all the words he felt like he should say. He ended up settling on a very lame, "I'm going to bed." He almost tagged on 'Are you going to join me, or . . . ?' but he couldn't quite get himself to say it.

In the end, he slowly climbed the stairs, shut the door and shed his uniform before packing it carefully back in its box.

He could hear strains of erratic violin music wafting up from the living room.

Sherlock did not sleep at all that night. There was far too much to think about.

What had transpired between John and him at the club had only been partially unexpected.

He'd already known John would likely assume the dominant role and that he would probably display a penchant for whipping others, conclusively solving The Adventure of the Flatmate's Fetish once and for all.

What Sherlock hadn't expected, however, was to not only experience his kink firsthand but to discover he had one of his own.

He'd been hesitant, at first, when John's hand was in his hair at the bar and his deep blue eyes were so clearly asking him what he should do. If he was honest with himself, he'd say he had no idea why he'd nodded, why he'd allowed himself to enter a situation where he had no control over what happened to him. Perhaps it was some instinctive knowledge that he'd enjoy it even though he hadn't consciously realised it yet. Maybe it was his desire to solve the case. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because he trusted John completely.

Whatever the reason, it had happened, and the resulting data had been highly intriguing.

He scraped his bow manically across his violin. The discordant notes were perfectly harmonious with his jumbled thoughts. He would have to sort through them properly later, but right now he just wanted to feel, to let his mind wander as the strings vibrated beneath his fingers and every pull of the bow stretched his back and made the skin burn.

The welts probably wouldn't fade for a week. They pulsed with the beat of his heart and made him feel like he was on fire. It was impossibly intoxicating.

He could still hear John's voice as he stood over him, his very tone demanding complete obedience. The sting of the riding crop had surprised him at first, made him want to scurry away to safety, but after awhile his brain had succumbed to the chemicals flooding into it. It was even better than cocaine, the foggy, floating feeling that had washed over him and transformed his pain into ecstasy.

Soon he was leaning into the blows, wanting more, needing more. It was the most arousal he'd ever experienced in his life, and he was in serious danger of developing a new addiction. It'd been years since he'd allowed himself to think of his body as anything other than transport, but now he found himself warming quite readily to the notion.

He could still feel John's hand on him, rubbing out moans from between his lips. John's firm, steady hand and his solid body against Sherlock's had become his anchor through the madness. Even as he came undone, he knew John was right there, ready to put him back together again.

That was, he concluded, what it came down to in the end. He didn't trust anyone else to see him like that, open and vulnerable, or to make him lose all sense of himself. He valued his mind too much to allow it to be befuddled by just anyone.

No, it had to be John.

Sherlock paused in his improvised melody thoughtfully, his bow poised at an angle inches above the strings. The only question left was whether or not John wanted to be with him.

That, he decided, might prove difficult to answer.

The violin continued well into the night, which meant John slept fitfully at best.

He'd considered going down and telling Sherlock precisely where he could shove that bloody instrument, but after the night they'd had, he just didn't feel ready to face him.

Sunlight was now streaming through his window, and his alarm clock told him it was time to get dressed for work. With a weary sigh, he rolled out of bed and began hunting through the clothing strewn about his floor for something clean.

He sat on his bed and pulled on his socks, mulling over the events of the previous evening. It was Sherlock's treatment of him that puzzled him the most. After they'd . . . He struggled for a label. Done it? Got off? Had a rather uncoordinated rutting session? Whatever it was called, Sherlock had not seemed any different afterwards. John could still hear the politely distant tone he'd used when he first spoke, asking him if he wanted to stay or go. It had been like he was asking his secretary to run out and fetch him a coffee.

Did Sherlock not care that they'd got each other off? He'd certainly seemed to care a great deal when he was thrusting in John's lap like an animal. The memory sent a shiver down his spine and right into his groin. Sherlock had managed to supply him with a lifetime's worth of wanking material in a single night. No woman had ever done that for him before.

But what did Sherlock want out of this? Was this going to be a one-time thing they'd done to solve a case, or was he potentially interested in something more?

John shook his head as he pulled a striped jumper over it. With Sherlock, it was almost impossible to tell what was going on in his "funny" brain, as Mrs Hudson described it. At the moment, John didn't feel much like laughing.

They were going to talk about this, he decided. The moment he got home from the surgery, he would sit Sherlock down and ask him exactly what he wanted.

He bounded down the stairs, feeling more energetic now that he had a plan.

Sherlock was standing by the living room window, sawing away at his violin. John rolled his eyes and went into the kitchen to make tea. He'd just put the kettle on when the music abruptly stopped, drenching the flat in blessed silence. There was a chance John might get to eat his breakfast in peace? Unthinkable.

He turned around to get a mug from the table and yelped. Sherlock was inches from him.

"You have got," John shouted, "to stop doing that! That's twice now in the past week!"

"Apologies," Sherlock said in his smooth baritone. He was studying John's face curiously.

The doctor passed a tired hand over his eyes. "Do you need something?"

"In a sense. There was something I wanted to try."

"Well, do you mind trying it somewhere else? I'm going to be late for work."


"I assure you, Sherlock, being late is quite possible. Right now, I'd even call it likely."

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "It's impossible for me to try it elsewhere. Your participation is required."

John's protestations died on his lips. Images from the last time Sherlock had asked for his assistance flooded into his mind unbidden. He felt his cheeks heat up and quickly looked down to hide it. It wouldn't do for Sherlock to figure out what he was thinking about at the moment. He still had no idea how the other man felt about him.

He jerked when he felt a brush of warm fingers against his chin and looked up.

Sherlock was impossibly closer to him now, so close he felt his warm breath when he spoke. "There's no sense in trying to hide it, John. I already know."

The doctor felt his mouth go dry as he suddenly got the distinct impression Sherlock could read every dirty thought in his head right now. He licked his lips nervously, but then Sherlock's eyes darted down and catalogued the movement. They stayed there even after he'd finished, tracing over the shape of his lips with medical precision.

"John," Sherlock murmured, his voice no louder than an exhale, "I want to try something. Close your eyes."

They slid shut automatically. John's heart was pounding in his chest so hard it was almost painful. He had a feeling he knew precisely where this was going, and when it finally happened he had no idea how he was going to react.

Sherlock's breath was hot against his skin. It smelt of tea and mint, like he'd brushed his teeth and then drunk a cuppa right afterwards. He distantly registered the oddness of that. Sherlock never made his own tea.

Anticipation crackled along his skin like electricity as he waited for something to happen. He heard Sherlock place a hand on the counter on either side of his body, and he very nearly gasped.

When the inevitable light brush of skin against skin finally came, John felt like his nerve endings had gone off like bombs. He pressed forward without thinking, needing more. Sherlock made a startled noise against his lips, but then they were kissing, open-mouthed and hungry. He slid his tongue possessively into Sherlock's mouth, determined to memorise the taste of him. He fisted his hands in his shirt and used it to haul their bodies together. Sherlock's moan against his lips was nothing more than a deep vibration.

The detective pushed at his chest, trying to pull away some, but John held tightly to him. Sherlock finally managed to wrench away just enough to pant, "John, what about work?"

"Work can hang for all I care." John slid a hand around his neck and buried his fingers in his dark curls. "Now kindly use those maddening lips of yours to do something useful, like kiss me."

He crushed their mouths back together, and Sherlock responded with enthusiasm. Their hands explored each other freely, dipping under hemlines and teasing at their skin. Then Sherlock pressed their hips together, and John felt a hot press of rigid flesh against his thigh. He reached down and cupped it through the fabric of Sherlock's trousers, earning him a tortured moan in response.

Of course, that was the moment the kettle decided to announce its presence.

The two men broke apart, panting heavily. John ran a hand through his hair before moving to the kettle and taking it off the heat.

When he turned back, Sherlock was studying him again. "I suppose you'll want to talk about this?"

John sighed. "I'm pretty sure you could get me to never talk again if you just kissed me like that every time I tried to."

Sherlock chuckled. "But I like talking to you." He started moving towards the doorway, looking back at John in a way that suggested he wanted him to follow him.

They moved into the living room. Sherlock flopped on the sofa, and John sat in his armchair.

"So," the doctor began slowly, "what are we doing here?"

"It would appear we're attempting to engage in some form of physical relationship, though I believe we did it rather out of order in terms of traditional progression."

John rolled his eyes. "Thank you, Walking Oxford Dictionary. That was extremely unhelpful."

"If you want better answers, you need to start asking better questions."

That was a decent point, though he hated to admit it. "Did you enjoy what we did last night?"

"You know I did. You cleaned up the result yourself."

John chuckled. "Would you like for it to happen again?"

"Yes, though it doesn't have to involve props every time. I believe I will enjoy sex with you without needing to be hit first." Sherlock looked at him in a fashion John would almost label shy. "Do you want it to happen again?"

"I know you loathe repetition, but the only response I can give to that is 'Oh, God, Yes.'"

Sherlock grinned. "Then I suppose we have our answer."

"Is this going to be a . . ." John waved his hand, as if he could bat the word he was looking for out of the air. "I dunno, a relationship?"

"It was a relationship before when we were just friends, was it not?"

"Well, yes, but that's not what I mean. Are we going to try dating? Am I going to call you my boyfriend?"

"If you like."

"You don't have an opinion either way?"

Sherlock sat up and fixed him in his icy blue gaze. "John, here is exactly what I want from you: I want to solve cases with you. I want you to make me tea and nag me when I refuse to eat. I want you to continue being my best friend, and I want you to continue telling me I'm an annoying dick. I want you to be in my life for so long as you can feasibly put up with me, and I want to try, to the very best of my ability, to make you happy."

John was, in a word, stunned. He'd never heard Sherlock be so forthright about his emotions. "So, basically, you want nothing to change between us at all."

"Yes, except I do want you to stop dating all those irritating females and for there to be quite a lot of sex between us. I went without it for a long time, and now the proverbial floodgates have opened."

"I think I can manage that."

John stood up, crossed over to the sofa and climbed onto it. Sherlock obligingly moved over to make room for him. They twined their limbs together and lazily ran their fingers over each other's bodies.

"Sherlock, I meant to ask. What was the case you solved at the sex club?"

"The Adventure of the Flatmate's Fetish."

John shot up into a sitting position. "You knew about that?!"

"Of course. Your stage whisper is somewhat more like a roar."

John stared at him incredulously. "So, what did we need to talk to Ben for?"

"That was a bit of a misdirection on my part. I read from his body language that he has a combative personality. I figured he would push you into revealing the precise nature of your fetish so I could close the case once and for all."

John opened and closed his mouth several times before sighing wearily and lying back down. "You're mad, and an absolute dick, and I am so going to make you pay for that."

Sherlock's chuckle rumbled in his chest. "Oh, believe me, John, I'm counting on it."