Entry 2 of 3 for the SoCal Sherlockian Fanfiction Challenge – AU Crossover: The Fast and the Furious

It was irrational at best, and more than a little unhealthy, but if John had to pinpoint the exact moment in his life that had led him to racing, it was being hit by that car. Screeching tires, metal against flesh, searing pain, a fear that was practically intangible for how suddenly the man had come careening around the corner. It had been a shock, certainly-and John had come out of it with more broken bones that he could count-but it had been beautiful. For just a second, the car had drifted like a blurred streak of color on black canvas, the headlights leaving a trail in their wake that John swore had frozen there in the moment before impact. It was a sight to behold, and it had planted some sort of seed for John to analyze when he came to.

It wasn't until two years later, just after getting into university, that John realized what that seed had been growing. He was training to become a doctor-expected and predictable and sane-when his roommate invited him out to the warehouse district for a few beers and a look at the new racers lined up to challenge the King. It was a night that had changed his life forever. He had never been one for the make and model of cars, the engine under the hood or the horsepower had never held an awe inspiring appeal, but the way they moved at top speed, the way a car could pass by in flashes of color and sound and perfectly constructed chaos was breathtaking. He didn't even remember saying it, but apparently, the only words he'd uttered that night were, "Where do I sign up?"

So from that point on, for the next four years, he raced. It took a decent while for him to get up to unmockable standards, but he got there eventually, and with gusto, reaching a point where no one could beat him, not at the Warehouse tracks or the Docks, the Trails, the back street Alley Races, none of them. John Watson was the new King. And he reveled in it.

Which is why he barely had time to react when a "new racer" from London began tearing his way through opponents, reaching John within days of becoming a blip on the racing world's radar. His name was Holmes. The list of his wins was gathered for John by one of the lackeys he'd unexpectedly acquired post race the month prior. It had been a hard loss for Stamford, but he'd been good natured about it, asking John if he wouldn't mind him sticking around. "Learning from the best," he'd said. John didn't have the heart to say no. He'd seen Stamford in the back of some of his med school classes; the guy looked like he could use a hobby other than studying.

"Wow," John blinked. "He took out Barakov and Monique in the same race? Who is this guy?"

"No one's heard anything outside of that he's wicked fast and doesn't need to play dirty," Stamford shrugged.

"Doesn't need to… Which means he knows how?"

Again, Stamford shrugged. "Apparently, he asked for you. In the beginning, I mean. Didn't even want to race anyone else, just you. But Alec down by the Yard threw a fit. Said if he wanted to race you, he'd have to work his way to the top, just like the rest of us. It was how the guy got noticed in the first place."

"He just wanted to come straight to me?" John knew he was parroting, but he couldn't help it. The story was unheard of. "Does he not know how the hierarchy works?"

"He didn't seem to care."

John looked at the statistic in awe, wondering what this mystery driver might look like, what sort of driver he was, what sort of car he drove. He could feel his heart-rate picking up, adrenaline coursing through him at the prospect alone. This was the race he'd been waiting for, the one he hadn't been aware he'd wanted, craved, needed. Racing was his drug, he'd known that coming in, known that from the crash all those years ago, but the better he got, the less exciting it became, the less dangerous and frightening and wonderful. He needed a challenge. And Holmes was looking more and more like just that.

"Do we have some sort of contact with him?" John asked, knowing his voice sounded too eager, almost manic, but he couldn't be arsed to care.

"He, well…" Stamford hesitated, running a hand along the back of his neck like he did when he was nervous. John raised an eyebrow at him by way of telling him to speak up. So Stamford cleared his throat and whispered, "He's already here."

John was out of his chair in a second, grinning wildly all the way to the garage. He was here? Already? So eager. So confident. I'm going to crush him.

"Where is he then?" He asked to no one in particular as he got to his car, pausing to glance around the garage once he got the door open. There were a few mechanics present for general maintenance and another racer getting his car checked out, but no one answered him. In fact, no one was looking at him at all. Making it a point not to, even. "Alright, mate?" John asked the racer, a guy he'd seen a few times in passing but never raced himself. The guy merely shrugged, pointing his chin in the direction of the open garage door. John swung his door closed and followed the motion, shoving his hands in his pockets as he stepped outside.

And there he was.

He looked more like a model than a racer, black hair falling in perfectly windblown curls around his angular, pale face, eyes that even from John's substantial distance looked like they were practically shining in blues and greys. And while the black jeans, navy wife beater and black leather jacket suited him-in the best possible ways-he looked like the sort who would have been just as dazzling in a three piece suit. He was an anomaly. A beautiful, unexpectedly distracting anomaly. And He was staring at John like he'd just grown a second head.

"Here for a race, then?" John asked as casually as he could, ignoring the way Holmes raised an eyebrow in what could only be amusement.

"I was ready days ago," Holmes responded, opening the door of his car as if in punctuation to his words. John hadn't even realized he was standing next to it. Good lord. "The prerequisites were unnecessary and pedantic."

"Every organization needs its protocols," John shrugged, trying hard not to look at Holmes' neck as he let his head fall back in exasperation.

"Boring," he huffed, sliding into his car and slamming the door shut in a way that looked almost fluid. Graceful. "I'll be here. When you're ready." John couldn't help the grin that wormed its way onto his face, so he chose that moment to turn back towards the garage. And if he walked a little too quickly back to his car, surely this Holmes character was too focused on the race to have noticed.

They were lined up side by side, the girlfriend of one of the mechanics standing in front and between them. It was standard protocol: she would raise a piece of fabric-a cloth, a handkerchief, her shirt-count down from three, and when she let the fabric drop, the race would begin. Except John couldn't stop bloody glancing over at those prominent cheekbones and cupid bow lips and damn near perfect fucking profile and suddenly Holmes was gone, John's heart shooting into his throat like it was trying to escape.

"Shit, shit, shit!" He threw his car into gear and tore after him, tires screeching against the pavement in a blast of smoke. That half a second of hesitance-Stupid, stupid, what the fuck is the matter with me?!-was enough to put a good twenty feet of distance between them. But he'd overcome worse, John's instincts taking over, his practiced skill and natural intuition leading him to Holmes' side again in minutes.

The guy was good, somehow managing to guess exactly what John would try to do to pass him at the exact second he tried it. If Stamford hadn't told him the guy didn't need to play dirty, John would have assumed just that. It was something new and impressive and a racing style John had never witnessed before, let alone driven against. Add that to the fact that every time he looked over to gauge their distance, try to spot an opening, he was met again with the ridiculously attractive face of his opponent, somehow all the more attractive in this setting alone: eyes focused, lips slightly parted, shoulders and hands absurdly loose until the tension of a turn, the muscles of his body moving in a way that was damn near sinful, intimate, like watching him having sex more than driving a car. Which is the thought Holmes chose to glance over on, a shudder running up John's spine at the icy glare, and a terse reminder that he was supposed to be racing, not ogling his competition. Or thinking about the man's hands moving like that over his chest or his waist or-

"Fuck!" John swerved out of the way of the lamp post, onto the sidewalk, and back around to the street in the same breath of panic. A breath that was followed by a wave of embarrassment and frustration. He was better than this. So much better. But apparently pit him against a good looking bloke-okay, fabulous, incredible, delicious looking bloke-and suddenly he could barely drive straight. With a curse and a fist to the wheel, John shifted into another gear and lurched forward.

Only to pass by Holmes' car… going in the opposite direction.

John slammed on the breaks, screeching to a stop. The route was a full circle. The only reason he'd be going back the way they'd come was if he was-

John threw himself into reverse, catching up to Holmes and spinning in front of him to bring them both to a stop. He was out of his car before he even realized what he was doing. Holmes had his window rolled down as he approached, a look of bored disgust on his face, if the combination were possible.

"What are you doing? The race isn't over!" John yelled, but Holmes just rolled his eyes.

"I came to race the best," Holmes sniffed. "Not some amateur who lucked his way to the top."

"Excuse me?" John was seething, fists clenched and trembling at his sides. "Who do you think you are?"

"A better racer than you, apparently."

"Then turn your car around and finish the-"

"Why bother continuing a race you know you're going to lose?" Holmes threw an arm out the window and shifted into reverse. "The crown is still yours, John Watson. Not that you deserve it." And without another word, he pulled away and in seconds had sped around John's car and out of sight, leaving him fuming and his pride more than a little bit wounded.

It had taken all of two hours for Stamford to find out where Holmes-Sherlock, said the name on the lease-lived, a flat on the dodgier end of town that seemed more than slightly unlike the persona the man embodied. John imagined him in the penthouse of a sky-rise or a mansion in the country, not in some run down excuse for flat in a practically condemned building in a piss poor neighborhood. But that's where John found himself that night, pacing in front of the paint chipped door, willing himself to work up the courage to knock. Which it turned out he didn't have to do after all, the door swinging open without warning after John's third attempt at raising his knuckles to the wood.

"Are you honestly going to do that all night?" Hol-Sherlock leaned against the doorframe and smirked. Of course. John crossed his arms, holding his ground.

"I've come to ask you for a rematch."

"No thank you," Sherlock sighed, leaning back to close the door, but John caught it with his foot, pushing forward without thinking and into Sherlock's flat, closing the door behind himself.

"I'm a better racer than that. The best, in fact," John was rambling, but he needed Sherlock to understand. He needed the man to believe him. He needed to prove himself to him. God knows why… But he did, desperately. "I've never driven that poorly in my life, not even when I first started, so you have to let me show you what I can do. You have to give me another chance. Because I'm a damn good driver and I'm pretty sure I could race circles around you. Today was just… I was just a bit…" John suddenly realized where he was, the last word getting a bit stuck in his throat as he took in the small bedsit, the dim lighting, the absolutely gorgeous man in front of him dressed in nothing but pajama bottoms. How had he not noticed that before? "Distracted…" John swallowed, letting the last word of his sentence fall out of his mouth like an afterthought. Maybe it was.

John watched as Sherlock took a step towards him, eyes seeming to trail every inch of his body, looking him up and down like he was reading him, analyzing him, taking him apart piece by piece. He felt goose-bumps rise like a chill along his arms despite how suddenly hot it was in the cramped-much, much too cramped, damn near suffocating, in fact-room.

"Distracted?" Sherlock's voice was like thunder in the distance, low and rumbling and sending a warm vibration straight to the center of his chest. What was he doing? This was stupid!

"I should g-" John tried, turning around, but then Sherlock was suddenly behind him, voice whispering a breath of hot sound against his ear.

"Distracted by what?"

"I should…" John tried again, but the words just didn't make sense anymore. In fact, with the lingering chuckle Sherlock planted almost, nearly, but not quite against his neck, John started to wonder why he should be doing anything other than turning back around, grabbing the pompous, infuriating, intoxicating bastard by the shoulders and snogging the living daylight out of him. Of course, that was before Sherlock decided to take a step back, derailing him with a rather unexpected question.

"Why do you race, John?" he asked, leaning against the counter. It took John long enough to reel himself back in that by the time he answered, Sherlock's amusement was practically tangible. John frowned.

"I was hit by a car," he answered. Which wasn't quite what he'd meant to say. He saw a race a few years back, fell in love with the thrill of it, that's what was supposed to have come out of his mouth. But apparently, what had instead was exactly what Sherlock had wanted to hear, his mouth quirking into what was almost like an actual smile.

"Fascinating," he nearly purred. "That would put most people off driving altogether. But you…" Definitely a smile there, if not a rather unnerving one. "You dive right back in and then some."

"When you fall off a horse," John shrugged, but Sherlock kept on as if he hadn't spoken.

"You like danger. Crave it, even. It's why you drive a manual car despite the fact that your left leg was badly damaged in the accident. You like the thrill of not quite knowing whether it's going to give out on you mid gear shift. It's a tell, by the way. Might want to be a bit more fluid in the future. Same goes for the overarching on your right turns."

"How did you…?" John blinked, mumbling to himself, "They said you didn't need to drive dirty."

"I don't 'drive dirty,'" Sherlock rolled his eyes. "I just observed your driving habits."

"Have you been spying on me? Did you look me up?"

"Don't flatter yourself. Racing you was all I needed."

John knew he was slack-jawed, but he could help it just as much as he could help the, "Amazing," that dropped out of his mouth. This time, Sherlock looked taken aback.

"That's… You think so?" He actually stuttered after a moment, looking suspicious.

"Of course!" John laughed. "It's incredible! You could tell all of that just by the way that I drive?"

"Even with your various mishaps distorting my data, yes."

"Wow," John whistled, smiling. "Seriously, wow."

"Um," Sherlock looked away, and if it weren't for the poor lighting, John could almost convince himself the man was blushing. "Thank you." He cleared his throat, adding, "You also should be spending less time in cars and more time studying, but I suppose not everyone was meant to graduate from university."

"Oi!" John grinned. "Now you're just showing off."

"I am a showoff. It's what we do," Sherlock grinned back, and bloody hell if it wasn't the most appealing smile he'd ever seen. John licked his lips, forcing himself to look away.

"So about that rematch, then?" He murmured finally, running a hand through his hair. Sherlock just chuckled.

"How about dinner instead?"

John tried not to show his surprise, but with a man like Sherlock watching his every tell, he was certain it was a battle long lost. "Now?"

"Or tomorrow."


"And tomorrow, if you prefer."

"And. I like and."

"Good. Shall we make it and the following night as well, then?"

"Sure. Yeah. Sounds fair."

"Most definitely," Sherlock went over to his wardrobe and began pulling out a new pair of jeans, another wife-beater, John willing himself not to watch the man change. It was a losing battle. When Sherlock asked if he wanted Chinese, John wasn't even sure he responded in English, just followed blindly as the man led him out of his flat and to a Chinese restaurant around the corner.

They met for dinner every night for the next week, John making sure to remind Sherlock of their rematch for the first three but eventually giving up on it altogether. Sherlock seemed adamant about simply getting to know John without the racing, no longer interested in racing at all, sometimes, and John couldn't seem to bring himself to care. Sure, part of him still longed silently for the chance to show Sherlock his true skill, but the more time he spent with Sherlock, just eating and talking and enjoying each other's company, the less of a priority it became.

Sherlock was a contradiction. Charming and infuriating, brilliant and daft, gorgeous and for some reason apparently interested in John. John didn't consider himself an unattractive man by any means-he made sure to keep up a decent work out regiment daily, kept his hair well-trimmed, and while he wasn't the tallest of men, he liked to think he had the personality to compensate-but Sherlock was all but photo-shopped, straight out of an ad for hair gel or Levis. Why someone like him, someone who was probably a certified genius, could ramble on about pretty much all topics-except the solar system, John was surprised to find out-like a living Wikipedia page, could charm the pants off of any passerby, male or female, if the need arose, would find someone like John worthy of his time was both astounding and inconceivable. Not to mention more than slightly intimidating. And yet here they were, walking back to Sherlock's flat, laughing at nothing in particular like they'd been best mates for years.

John looked up at the man and wondered if it would be too forward to grab him by the collar and pull him down into a kiss, the desire still as fresh now as when he'd been alone with him in his flat a week ago. Sherlock looked down at him then and smirked.

"Have you ever been drifting?" Sherlock asked. John just blinked at him, the unexpected question throwing him off a tad.

"Not recently," John admitted. "I tried it a few times when I first started, but there aren't any good drifting tracks to race on around here, so I didn't bother perfecting it."

"Tomorrow," Sherlock pulled a pen from the inside pocket of his blazer and grabbed John's hand, his touch surprisingly warm for the chill in the air. Though John wouldn't have been surprised if it was just his imagination. "Meet me here at six. We'll have dinner after." And then, without warning, Sherlock leaned in to place soft, equally warm lips against John's cheek. "See you then, John," he whispered before pulling back and walking into the flat, the ghost of those lips still tingling against John's skin.

John stood there for a moment, hand raised to his cheek in disbelief. Again, Sherlock managed to be a contradiction, unexpected and yet simultaneously making John feel like they could have been doing… something… from the beginning. John lowered his hand to look over the address Sherlock had written along his palm in neat, delicate scrawl. He was familiar with the area, though he'd never driven it. Why Sherlock felt the need to take him drifting was curious, but it was a curiosity John chose to ignore. Any extra time spent with the anomaly that was Sherlock Holmes was an opportunity John was unwilling to give up, as if he only had a limited amount of time before the specter disappeared. Or before Sherlock realized he could do much, much better than John Watson.

Sherlock was already waiting for him when he arrived at the address the next day, propped up against his car like he was posing for a photo shoot. John blushed, forcing himself to admire the car instead of the driver, as hard as that was. But damn if it wasn't a nice car.

Unlike the car he'd been driving at their race-not that John remembered exactly what it was, he was more than a little ashamed to admit-this time Sherlock was standing next to what looked like a brand new, black Mazda RX7, a car John knew offhand was practically made for drifting. Sherlock seemed to recognize his admiration, running a hand along the hood of the car as he approached. And if it made John think of other things those hands could be stroking, John only hoped it didn't show on his face.

"Did you invite me out tonight just to show off your fancy drifting car?" John asked, laying a hand on the slick metal as well once he was close enough to touch.

"Among other things," Sherlock replied with a grin. "Maybe I bought it specifically to impress you."

"I highly doubt I'm worth buying a $20,000 car for, but thanks," John scoffed, but the look on Sherlock's face caught him off guard.

"You underestimate yourself," Sherlock said matter-of-factly, opening the passenger side door for John to get in. "Strange, considering your abundance of self-confidence behind the wheel." Sherlock smirked. "Not that you've done much to back it up."

"Fuck you," John frowned, his annoyance offset a bit by the fact that he chose that moment to get in the car. "Maybe if you accepted one of my rematches-"

"Unnecessary," Sherlock cut him off, getting behind the wheel and closing the door, motioning with his chin for John to put on his seatbelt. Sherlock did the same. "I'm aware of your skills, John. It's why I sought you out in the first place."

"I didn't exactly live up to your expectations, though, did I," John whispered, leaning back in the seat as Sherlock put the car in reverse.

"No," Sherlock said, glancing over at John out of the corner of his eye. "You exceeded them."

He floored it then, speeding down the road like a man on a mission. Or someone in a very elaborate car chase, the slightest tilt of the wheel weaving them through obstacles and sending them around wider corners with an ease John wouldn't have expected going 150 km/h. John glanced out his window, the world going by at a bit of a blur he didn't normally get to appreciate when behind the wheel. Racing offered a sort of tunnel vision, everything being processed in a single instance, coming at him from a single direction and being translated as subtle gear shifts and instant maneuvers. Getting the opportunity to simply watch the world go by objectively, letting Sherlock control the speed and the motion and, in many ways, their lives within… John swallowed, surprised by how vulnerable that felt. And intimate.

John couldn't help himself then, turning to look at Sherlock more directly, his profile even more impressive when not marred by two sets of windows and a poorly handled race. The look of determined focus was still there, though, lips slightly parted and eyes calculating, taking in his surroundings and how best to operate within them. Add that to the way the setting sun cast a red-orange glow on his pale skin, a shimmer to his black curls, making his eyes seem alight with an almost tangible fire, and Sherlock became all the more breathtaking, if that were possible.

"I can assume you remember the basics?" Sherlock said suddenly, bringing him out of his reverie. And reminding him for the umpteenth time that he'd been staring. John nodded, looking forward again just in time to see the sharp left turn approaching much too quickly. In a fluid motion almost too quick for John to process completely, Sherlock was yanking up the hand-break and turning the wheel barely an inch to the right, his fingers seeming to hardly even touch the underside of the wheel. Despite that, the whole car lurched with squealing tires and a barrage of smoke in a perfect drift around the bend. John felt his heart lurch into his throat, the adrenaline of excitement thrumming through his veins as he saw the rest of the approaching curves in the road. Sherlock had barely lowered the hand-break before he was yanking it forcefully back, near infinitesimal turns of the wheel sending them in almost complete 180's around a few of the curves. It wasn't until he heard Sherlock's chuckle that John realized he was laughing.

They drove the entire length of the road before Sherlock finally stopped, pulling just as quickly up to a strip of road overlooking at horizon, his hands doing something on the wheel before letting go and hitting the break, the car skidding into a perfect parallel park. John almost couldn't catch his breath.

"Well?" Sherlock was grinning, face deservedly smug. "What did you-?"

John was kissing him before he'd even realized he'd unbuckled his seatbelt, nearly crawling over the center console to get closer. Sherlock's lips were still, stunned for an almost too long moment, but thankfully, before John could doubt his actions-however involuntary-Sherlock was kissing him back. And then some. Hands found their way into John's hair, fingers brushing back cropped, blond strands before fingernails were scraping lightly at the nape of his neck. John shivered, pulling out of the kiss and latching onto the tempting expanse of his neck, sucking color into the pale skin and leaving bruises Sherlock didn't seem to mind, maybe ever enjoyed judging by the way he leaned into them, a low rumble of a moan stuck in his throat.

"Good thing I put it in park," Sherlock chuckled breathily, John humming his agreement against a nearly forming bruise, scratching his teeth against Sherlock's jaw before licking a strip up to his ear, lips settling there on a hot whisper of sound.

"You're amazing," John groaned, reaching between Sherlock's legs and chuckling at the look of shock on his face that morphed into an almost comical look of confusion when John's reach kept going, pulling at the bar beneath the seat which sent it rolling back a foot. Just enough room for John to comfortably straddle Sherlock's hips and reach to the side, the backrest dropping low at another of his searching grasps. Sherlock was staring up at him in a beautiful mixture of surprise, lust, and something John couldn't quite identify, something uncertain but eager. Something vulnerable that seemed almost unnatural on the man's usually self-confident-if not pompous-face. John drank it in, lowering his lips back to Sherlock's neck and licking at the tendon that tensed when Sherlock's head fell back, a moan escaping between those parted, cupid bow lips.

John didn't deny himself now, dipping back in to reclaim that delicious looking mouth, tongue exploring the wet heat inside it with desperation, hunger, the whimpers and moans muffled between them like its own reward. Who needed a rematch when he could just have the driver instead? And have him he would, John's hands raking down the fabric of Sherlock's shirt before pushing it up past his chest, revealing toned, equally pale skin and the slightly darker circles of his already straining nipples. Sherlock watched him with lids heavy and eyes blow wide as John bent to trail the tip of his tongue in circles around each, wrenching a gasp from Sherlock's throat that sent a spike of pure need to John's cock.

"You can't possibly know what you do to me," John moaned, leaning back to get both hands on the zipper of Sherlock's jeans, a thrill running through him when Sherlock lifted his hips to give him better access.

"If your driving was any indication," Sherlock panted, voice hitching as John chose that moment to pull his cock free, running a hand down it in a gentle stroke. Sherlock arched into that touch, licking his lips.

"It's probably not the best of decisions to tease the man literally holding you in the palm of his hand," John grinned. Sherlock rolled his eyes, but it was playful. So, to emphasize Sherlock's current position, John tightened his grip and stroked, Sherlock's mouth falling open and his eyes rolling back in pleasure.

John couldn't imagine a more beautiful creature than Sherlock at this moment, his eyes fluttered closed, his parted lips trembling with every panting breath. He was remarkable and unexpected and falling apart in John's hand. John bit his lips, suddenly aware of just how hard he was, the bulge in his own jeans damn near painful. So John removed his hand from the hot, sensitive skin of Sherlock's erection just long enough to release his own, moaning despite himself when their cocks bumped together.

"John…" Sherlock bit his lip, mouthing a restrained but just as adamant, 'Please.' John swallowed, nearly dizzy with need as he leaned down to worry Sherlock's bottom lip between his teeth, the shift in angle pressing their cocks between their bodies in a delicious moment of friction.

With them both still full clothed-God, what was he, in grade school?-it was impossible to spread their legs the way he wanted, but when John began rocking his hips, it didn't matter. Sherlock tensed beneath him, their erections sliding together perfectly, and when John reached to get purchase on the back of the chair, pressing them even closer together and burying his face in Sherlock's neck, it was almost all he needed. Just a little bit more, just a little bit further, one more jerk of his hips against Sherlock and he would be there, lost to the heat and sensation and suddenly Sherlock was arching up hard against him, John's mouth finding his almost on instinct, swallowing his cries as he came.

The feeling of Sherlock spilling between them, hot and wet, was the last little inch John needed, his own cry escaping between their parted lips as his orgasm ripped through him, tore him apart and remade him again in a world where nothing existed but euphoria and sensation and Sherlock Holmes.

John let himself collapse on top of Sherlock, feeling his heart slow and his breathing become less ragged. And when Sherlock chuckled, John could feel that too, a low rumble that vibrated from between their chests. John was afraid to ask on it, but Sherlock didn't need prompting, mumbling a lazy, "That was unexpected," to the roof of the car. John tensed, leaning back cautiously, suddenly unsure of the look he'd see on Sherlock's face. But it was a content one, if not amused. John rolled his eyes.

"And here I thought you could read me like a book," John offered, blushing a little. "I've been wanting to do that all week."

"I'm well aware, John," Sherlock chuckled again, raising the seat back to its normal position and reaching over john to the glove box for a surprisingly convenient pack of tissues. "I just didn't expect you to finally pounce on me… in my car."

John's blush spread all the way down his collarbone at that one, his voice an octave too high when he blurted, "I didn't pounce!" He cleared his throat, trying again. "You just caught me off guard… with your drifting." His voice fell a bit in embarrassment. "Bit of a turn on, that."

"I noticed," Sherlock hummed, pulling John in for an unexpectedly chaste kiss while simultaneously wiping away the mess between their chests. "And I can't necessarily deny that you being turned on is a definite turn on for me."

John looked away, probably red enough to permanently stain his cheeks at this point, but his smile was wide and genuine. "Well that's good then."

Sherlock grabbed his chin and led his face back towards him, kissing him again, more deeply this time. "Very good. Now, why don't we see if I can't teach you a thing or two about drifting."

John could count on one hand the amount of times he'd raced since meeting Sherlock. Not that he didn't still enjoy it, he just tended to pick a night out with Sherlock over most things nowadays. They'd only really known each other for a month, and somehow it felt like he'd known the man all his life, like he was both the best friend he'd never had and lover he'd always wanted.

And God what a lover…

There were full moments where John would find himself at the mercy of a particularly vivid memory, Sherlock on his back, panting and whimpering, a writhing mess of need, or the undeniably hot look he got before Sherlock bent him over a desk in the garage. Or on a few instances, the hood of a car. More than once, John had to excuse himself from whatever company he found himself in before his erection became too noticeable. How anyone could have that sort of effect on him was madness. And brilliance. Which was pretty much Sherlock on a nutshell.

And it was after a particularly brilliant and mad go in the backseat of John's Evo that John was suddenly reminded of their long forgotten rematch. Sherlock had one arm wrapped around John's waist, the other hanging out of the open window, cigarette dangling between his fingers. His few years at med school-and general opinion on the matter-reminded him that it was a habit best broken, but John couldn't deny that Sherlock made it look incredibly hot. Of course, Sherlock could make opening a jar of olives hot, so it wasn't exactly argument worthy. Still, John made sure to shift onto his stomach carefully so as not to disturb the smoke, already certain the smell would linger in his car for a few days. And if it reminded John of Sherlock when it did, that was simply an added bonus no one had to know about.

"I want to race you again," John mumbled, lying flat on Sherlock's bare chest and resting his chin on his hands. Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him, bringing the cigarette to his lips and inhaling before offering any reply. John felt his chest rise and fall as the smoke escaped his lips in a steady stream.

"I thought you'd gotten over that," Sherlock replied. He looked distant, almost annoyed. John wondered why, but pressed on, not sure why it was so important. But it was. Racing was a part of his life. And he wanted Sherlock to be a part of that part of himself as much as he consumed everything else in it.

"I don't mean a rematch," John explained. "I just want to race you for fun. I want to see what you can do and I want you to see what I can do, up close and personal." John rested his ear against Sherlock's heart, listening to the rhythmic beating as if it were his own. "If you don't want to, it's fine. I just thought-"

"Why is it so important to you?" Sherlock whispered. John didn't need to look up at him to see his frown, choosing to focus on circling Sherlock's nipple with the tip of his finger instead.

"I don't know." John whispered back. "I want you to know every part of me, maybe? You've seen me at my worst." John did look up then, hoping to convey exactly what he was feeling, the importance of this, in a way Sherlock would understand. "I want you to see me at my best."

The look on Sherlock's face was complicated, a strange mix of reluctance and worry that John didn't understand, until finally Sherlock sighed in defeat, rolling his eyes. "If it's what you want."

"Really?" John grinned, eyes wide with surprised excitement. Sherlock looked away and nodded, John out of the car and back into his shirt before Sherlock even managed to discard his cigarette.

"But fair warning, John." Sherlock's tone brought John up short, his voice low and dangerous, a seriousness in it that John had never remembered hearing before. "I won't be holding back."

John grinned at that. "Neither will I." Sherlock nodded again, his brow furrowed and his face drawn. John tried to ignore the worry still lingering behind Sherlock's eyes, but even as he jumped eagerly into his car, he couldn't help wondering what had put it there.

The race was simple, a single lap around the track that circled John's garage, no more than a two mile sprint, but enough to get his heart pounding. The amount of focus Sherlock was putting in was astounding, reading John's every move just like before, but where John had been intimidated and distracted in their first race, this time he read Sherlock right back. It was invigorating, pulling ahead just to have Sherlock switch gears and zip back around him in an instant. He really was giving it his all, John realized, not letting him get any headway if he could avoid it.

In the back of his mind, John was certain Sherlock would let him win, but judging by the sheer force of his driving, John was starting to think better of that. In fact, if he kept on like he was, John was almost positive Sherlock would beat him. And if he did, he would deserve it. John would be happy for him either way. But damn, if he didn't want to feel the rush of pulling just past Sherlock at the last second.

Which was why, when the smallest of spaces opened up for him to careen by, John took it. He was surprised even with himself at how risky the move was and how impressively he'd utilized it, Sherlock's car zipping past the finish line a half a second after his. For a moment, John thought he'd been wrong, that Sherlock had let him win after all-Sherlock was a remarkable driver who could tell every quirk of a racer just by racing him once, and he'd raced John twice now-but the look of surprise on Sherlock's face when he got out of his car said it all.

John had beat him. John had actually won the race fair and square.

It took every ounce of self-control John had not to shout, "I did it!" when Sherlock walked up to him and clapped him on the shoulder, looking strangely unsure of his congratulations.

"Well done, John." He said, but John could sense his disappointment. John looped an arm around Sherlock's waist and kissed his neck.

"No need to be a sore loser," He teased. "Never been beaten before?"

"No. I haven't," Sherlock replied softly, tensely, which suddenly made the length of their race seem very anticlimactic. John held him out at arm's length and blinked back his surprise.

"Really? Well then! This is cause for celebration!" John smiled. Sherlock frowned at him.

"I hardly think my loss qualifies as-"

"Not your loss, your initiation into the world of human error," John grabbed his hand and shook it. "Welcome to the club."

"Your jests are not appreciated, John," Sherlock sighed. He really was taking his loss hard, John realized.

"Alright, alright," John smirked, pulling him in for a kiss that Sherlock broke away from a bit too quickly. John furrowed his brow in confusion. "Thank you. For the race, I mean. I know you didn't want-"

"What's done is done," Sherlock waved him away, turning towards his car. John's heart made an anxious leap inside his chest.

"Don't be like that, Sherlock," John tried, but Sherlock ignored him, already behind the wheel by the time John even attempted to approach. "It was just a race, right? What did I do? I didn't mean to-"

"You did nothing to concern yourself over, John," Sherlock said, but his tone was scarily indifferent. "I'll keep you informed about dinner tomorrow night. If something comes up-"

"Sherlock," John almost begged, panic evident even to his own ears. "Sherlock, talk to me. We can race again if you want, okay?"

"John," Sherlock cut him off, voice stern. John quieted instantly. "You won fair and square." His expression softened some, the ghost of a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth, only just offsetting the disconcerting look in his eyes. "You really do continue to exceed my expectations." Sherlock gave him no time to respond before driving away.

He didn't see Sherlock again the following two days, though he was quick to respond to the far too many texts John sent. It was mixed signals, for sure, but at least John hadn't been dumped. Though he still couldn't figure out why Sherlock had reacted so extremely. So he'd never lost a race before. If he was going to lose one to anyone, surely losing to John would have been okay at least! He could have soothed his bruised ego with some comfort sex, but instead, Sherlock had cancelled on their dinner plans two nights in a row, offering little excuse outside of, "We'll do dinner tomorrow," or, "I'm just busy at work, John."

When John stopped to think about it, he didn't even know where Sherlock worked, just that it kept him relatively busy and that he didn't like to talk about it. John was starting to realize there was a lot about Sherlock he didn't know.

"John!" Stamford's voice yanked him back to the present. John ushered him into the area designated as his office of sorts and gestured for him to take a seat. Stamford wasted no time, handing him a slip of paper with a phone message scribbled out in pen. "He says he wants to race the king."

"Did he already get past everyone else?"

Stamford paused. "In a way." When John raised an eyebrow for him to continue, he sighed. "No one else would race him. They wouldn't say why, just forfeited their slot and sent him right on up to you."

"Even Alec?" John asked, incredulous. Stamford nodded.

"Even Alec."

It didn't say much on the paper, just a name and an address to meet later that night. John ran a hand through his hair. Maybe it would be a good distraction. John told Stamford to contact the guy and tell him he'd be there, making sure to text Sherlock that they'd have to reschedule dinner again. See how he liked it. He opted not to look at his phone again for the rest of the day, busying himself with his neglected med school studies until he had to leave for the race.

John arrived at the address a few minutes early, getting out of his car to wait. The streets that the man had picked looked poorly lit and the wind whipped by a little stronger than he would have liked, but at least it would add a disadvantage to both racers. As if on cue, a red Camaro ZL1 pulled up next to John's Evo, a man in a suit getting out of the driver's seat and walking up to John with a look he'd grown very familiar with over the years. This man had the confidence of someone who'd never lost a race. And he'd probably never lost a race because he had no problem playing dirty. John instantly put himself in survival mode, making sure to keep a firm eye out for any cheating. Of course, there was still the etiquette of the race to deal with, so John made sure to give the man a welcoming smile, even if an obviously forced one.

"Rich?" John asked, holding out his hand for the man to take. Rich grabbed it and shook it once before letting go.

"John." He grinned. "It'll be a pleasure kicking your ass." John couldn't help but laugh.

"Well you can certainly try."

"Oh I will," Rich's grin shifted into something more devious. Something John didn't get the chance to analyze before his phone went off.

"Sorry. Let me get this quick then we can get started, alright?" John asked, pulling his mobile from his pocket. It was Sherlock. Rich shrugged, though he looked less than pleased. John turned and walked a few feet away, hopefully out of Rich's earshot. "Sherlock?"

"John," Sherlock's voice sounded almost frantic, definitely tense. "Where are you?"

John looked at his watch. It was a few minutes past their usual dinner date time. John rolled his eyes. Maybe he hadn't gotten his last text for some reason. "I'm at a race, Sherlock. I've got to go."

"Who is it? Who are you racing?"

John pinched at the bridge of his nose. "I don't know. Just someone who was interested. Rich something. Rich Book?"

"Richard Brooke? Is his name Richard Brooke?" Sherlock asked in something akin to a panic. John frowned, the wind suddenly picking up.

"I don't know, maybe? Why?" He asked, but the wind was too loud to hear through, making the rest of the call almost impossible to continue. John had to get to the race anyway. "Look, Sherlock. I'll call you after, alright? It shouldn't take long." He couldn't hear Sherlock's reply, but he hung up anyway, jogging back over to Rich and nodding for them both to get in their car.

Despite the wind and the poor visibility, the race started off surprisingly well, John's Evo pulling up to a decent lead right off the bat. Whoever this Rich was, it was obvious right away that he was buying for time, learning about John's style, his quirks, where best to take advantage of a mistake. But John wasn't going to be making any mistakes this race. In fact, they were already turning the corner at the halfway mark. If things stayed the way they were-

John glanced out the window just in time to see Rich pull up alongside him, window rolled down and arm raised high over his head. Some sort of remote-looking object in his hand.

John didn't have time to react, not that he would have known how. There was playing dirty and then there was blatant sabotage. And even with the too precious seconds that it took for him to realize what was happening, John inherently knew that it was. When Rich had had the opportunity to plant the bomb, John wasn't sure, but the sound of the explosion, the smell of burnt rubber and gasoline, the memory of the detonator in Rich's hand-because what else could it have been-all pointed to one thing: he was about to die. All for a fucking race. And as he lost control of the wheel, crashing headlong into something moving too fast for him to process, he thought he saw Sherlock's Mazda out of the corner of his eye, swore he heard sirens in the distance. But all of it was second priority to the desire he suddenly had to just go back in time and go to dinner with Sherlock, call the man and force him to get over his stupid loss and meet him at his flat for some makeup sex. Because life was too short and Sherlock was too wonderful to stay mad at.

His mind managed to process two things almost simultaneously before everything went dark:

1. His racing career was ending the same way it had begun, with screeching tires, crushed metal on flesh, and searing, blinding pain. It was almost poetic.

2. He was in love with Sherlock Holmes.

It was far too bright, was John's first thought. Far too bright, then far too painful.

John let his eyes adjust as best he could, opening them slowly, carefully. White. Lots of white, and lots of beeping. Ah.

He wasn't sure what hospital he was in, or how long he'd been there, but once he realized it, everything came rushing back, albeit a little out of order: the race with Rich Brooke, the phone call with Sherlock, the bomb going off behind his back left wheel, getting the invitation from Stamford, crashing into the side of a building and blacking out. Oh, and being in love with Sherlock. He very clearly remembered the realization of being in love with Sherlock. Gorgeous, aggravating, wonderful, impossible Sherlock who just so happened to be asleep in a chair at John's side.

"Sher-" John tried to speak, but his throat protested, triggering a rather abrupt and obnoxious coughing fit, Sherlock jumping out of his chair at once and hand reaching across John to ring for the nurse, but John grabbed his wrist in time, shaking his head. He motioned through the last of his fit towards the pitcher of water and Sherlock did as told, pouring a bit into a cup and holding it to John's lips. The liquid was refreshing if not a little hard to swallow at first, and when he tried to speak again, it seemed to have helped a great deal. "Hello, stranger," he said a bit hoarsely and through a frustratingly tired smile. Sherlock sat back down, face more than a little distraught. He looked away.

After a particularly lengthy moment of awkward silence, Sherlock finally looked back at John, eyes sad. And scared? "I'm sorry, John. I'm so sorry."

"Sherlock?" John tried, reaching out to grab Sherlock's hand, which he took, squeezing tightly, holding on. Sherlock frowned, running a hand over his face.

"It's my fault."

"What is?"

"This!" Sherlock waved desperately at the hospital room and John in general. "You weren't supposed to… I never meant, I mean, I meant at first but even then…"

"I'm not following," John's brow furrowed in confusion, his head throbbing. Maybe he did need the nurse. Sherlock looked at him and sighed, the sound broken and raw and it made John very, very nervous.

"His name's Moriarty. James Moriarty. He's currently been running an international drug smuggling, car-jacking ring, using street racing as a front."

"What does this have to do with-?"

"He considered himself the best," Sherlock continued, as if he had to get out whatever he was trying to say as quickly as possible, before it was gone. Or before he lost his nerve. "So I made sure to be better. I raced him, he lost, and ever since, he's been waiting for someone to beat me." He paused for a moment before adding, in barely a whisper. "So he could beat them."

John's head was spinning. He realized suddenly that each breath he took felt like he was breathing through shards of glass. Had he broken some ribs? What exactly were his injuries anyway? Why had Rich- "Richard Brooke," John coughed. "You asked me if his name was Richard Brooke. Why did you ask me that?" Sherlock didn't answer, but he didn't need to. "Jesus Christ, Sherlock. That was Moriarty? Richard Brooke, the man who blew up my car… And you knew? You knew what he was planning and you still let me win?" John only wished he could raise his voice louder, but a hoarse, half-whispered shout was all he could manage. John pulled his hand out of Sherlock's and began looking for the nurse call button, pressing it more times than necessary before focusing back on Sherlock.

Sherlock looked like a beaten puppy, lips parted as he tried to think of what to say, how to explain away what he'd done. John didn't know how he could, but he wanted him to. More than anything in the world, he wanted him to. Which was why his heart still stuttered painfully when Sherlock whispered, "Yes. I knew." John bit his lip, willing himself not to cry or scream or punch Sherlock across the face like he wanted to, especially as Sherlock went on. "I never meant for this, though. You have to believe me, John. We never meant-"

"We?" John cut in. "Who's we?"

For the first time, John noticed Sherlock wasn't wearing his usual jeans and wife-beater, instead dressed in black trousers and a dark purple dress shirt, a thick, black coat hanging over the arm of the chair. The look suited him. "I work as a Consulting Detective for Scotland Yard," he explained. "We've been trying to capture Moriarty for months. Leading him out into the open was the only way to-"

"By using me as bait?" John croaked. Where was the fucking nurse? "Damnit, Sherlock, was any of it even real?"

"Of course, John," Sherlock answered without hesitation. "Please, you have to understand." He reached out for John's hand again, but John pulled it away, trying not to be so damn effected by the look on Sherlock's face when he did. "I never wanted this to happen. I never meant for-"

"How can I possibly believe you now, Sherlock?" John spat. "How can you expect me to just do that when I don't even bloody know who you are?"

"John…" Sherlock tried, but the nurse chose that moment to walk in, looking from Sherlock to John and knowing instantly why she'd been called.

"Visiting hours are-" She started, but Sherlock got to his feet with barely any resistance, walking to the door without a word.

Before he left, however, he did take a moment to glance back at John with the most sincere look of apology John thought he'd ever seen, let alone would ever see on Sherlock. "I didn't let you win, John. I tried to beat you, but I couldn't." Then, with seemingly nothing further to add, he left.

John checked himself out of the hospital a few days later. Sherlock didn't come back to visit, though he hadn't wanted him to. At least, that's what he kept telling himself. Even if indirectly, Sherlock had caused the whole thing, maybe hadn't broken his two ribs, fractured his left wrist, and beat the bruises and scrapes into him himself, but they were there because of him. John's racing days were over because of him. It was impossible to keep it up with a busted knee and weak shoulder-there would be a nasty scar left over from the piece of metal they'd removed there-but if John was being honest with himself, he could bring himself to care.

After everything he'd gone through, the desire was gone.

Still, Stamford asked about him coming back once or twice a week, catching John before he could leave class, wondering when he was going to take back his crown. And every week, John told him he could have it. He'd taken to his studies a lot better with nothing to distract him, actually finding he had a gift for the surgical. He would be a doctor yet, but somehow, he was still dissatisfied, not because he missed racing all that much-which he did a surprisingly little amount-but because something didn't sit right. Something about what Sherlock said before he left his hospital room still rang strangely in the back of his mind.

And then it hit him. Just like that, without warning, he knew.

"I've got to go," John got to his feet suddenly, packing up his textbooks and rushing out of his study group without warning or explanation. It all made sense now, but he needed to be sure. He needed to ask him, face to face.

Except, Sherlock's flat was empty, the lease bought out almost a month ago, they said. Which made sense. Sherlock Holmes-if that was even his real name-probably lived in a much better place than this, especially considering he was a Consulting Detective or whatever for-

John practically rushed into the street in attempts to hail a taxi.

"Scotland Yard," he said. "And hurry."

There was no sign of Sherlock around when he got there, but asking about him gained a rather interesting array of response, some ignoring him completely, others rolling their eyes. A select few even called him a 'freak,' which sent a spike of hatred through his chest before he could reel it in. Eventually he was handed to a Detective Inspector Lestrade, who, after some begging, and a fair amount of explaining his unwilling involvement in their case, finally gave him Sherlock's address.

Within minutes, he was standing outside of 221B Baker Street, willing himself to find the courage to knock. It felt quite a bit like déjà vu, especially when the door swung abruptly open to reveal a pajama clad Sherlock. He looked more than a little surprised to see him. "John?"

John walked past Sherlock and into the flat without a word, waiting once he was inside for Sherlock to lead the way.

Sherlock's actual flat was far more like him, littered with books and science equipment and all manner of knick knacks. It was actually a bit of a wreck, but that suited him too. It was cozy. And despite himself, John felt instantly at home there.

Before he could lose his nerve, John spun on Sherlock and asked, as plainly as he could, "You didn't let me win?" Sherlock shook his head, a suddenly hopeful look in his eyes, because of course he'd know where this was going. "You promise me right now. You did everything you could to win that race?"

"And then some," Sherlock replied. John thought it over, took in Sherlock's genuinely honest face, and let it sink in. All those times that Sherlock had refused him a rematch, only agreeing to it after John had pleaded, seemingly reluctant to accept. The way he'd raced him, no holds barred. And yet-

"Why didn't you just keep on refusing to race me?"

Sherlock seemed to actually give this some thought before smirking almost shyly. "I thought I could win. And I couldn't bring myself to say no to you." Sherlock frowned, though it seemed mostly at himself. "You just seemed so… excited. And since I couldn't give you a reason, I-"

John was beginning to become a master of cutting Sherlock off, especially with lips and teeth and tongue, Sherlock melting beneath his kiss in more than just relief. When John finally pulled away, Sherlock was dazed but a smile pulled hesitantly at the corner of his mouth. "Does this mean you forgive me?" Sherlock asked, too coy for John's liking. So John hit him hard on the arm, Sherlock jumping back in surprise. "What was that for?"

"My forgiveness comes at a price." John crossed his arms and sat squarely on the sofa, facing Sherlock and his questioning gaze. "You have to tell me who you really are. First, is Sherlock Holmes your real name?" Sherlock nodded. "Isn't that dangerous, using your real name when you're undercover?"

Sherlock shrugged, grinning despite himself. "Makes it more interesting."

John rolled his eyes, but in due time, he found himself grinning along with him. "You're insane, you know that?"

"So I've been told."

John sighed, still smiling as he patted the empty spot of couch to his right. Sherlock walked over and sat down, looking at John expectantly, probably already aware of John's next question. He asked it anyway. "Was it real? When I botched our first race and you asked me to dinner… Everything after that. Was it real?" Sherlock nodded again, reaching out to take John's hand. He let him. "But why? Why me?"

"You exceeded my expectations," Sherlock offered, but it wasn't enough. John needed to be sure.

"Mind explaining that one for me?" John all but whispered. Sherlock raised John's hand to his lips, kissing each knuckle in turn.

"I didn't expect you to get inside my head," he purred. "Or my heart."

John licked his lips. "Are you saying-?" Sherlock smirked.

"There's an extra bedroom upstairs, if you're interested."

John couldn't help himself, a laugh escaping him loud and far too carefree for the situation at hand. "Technically I just met you, officially, like, five minutes ago. That's moving a bit fast, isn't it?"

"Says the man who races cars for a living."

"I'm a doctor now," John sniffed, though some laughter still lingered under his words. "I'm about to be, anyway." At Sherlock's look of surprised approval, John rolled his eyes. "You did say I should be focusing more on my studies."

"I could use a medical eye in my work." Sherlock mused, leaning in a bit closer to John, arm stretching behind him on the back edge of the couch.

"First you're offering me a flat, now you're offering a job?" Sherlock shrugged, though he still looked far too smug. John sighed, leaning into Sherlock's side. "Do you come as a part of this package?"

"If you feel so inclined," Sherlock chuckled. John blushed.

"Was that a double entendre?"

"Do you want it to be?"

John shook his head, smirk pretty much permanently lodged at the corner of his mouth. "You're infuriating, you know that?"

"So I've also been told." Sherlock chuckled, placing a hand to John's cheek, rubbing his thumb along John's bottom lip. "But you love me."

"I do, actually," John said, without hesitation, thrilled at the feel of his confession being out in the open.

Sherlock leaned in close, lips barely brushing against each other. "And I you," he whispered, before capturing John's mouth with his own. And then, without warning, he broke the kiss and called out, "Mrs. Hudson! John will take the room upstairs!"