Well, this has been such a ride, and I just want to thank you all for being patient while I floundered for more than a few months. All the love and thanks to scienceofobsession and snogandagrope, who helped cut out all superfluous verbiage and reminded me of what body part was where at all the right times, straightened out my vacillating POV and generally made my life miserable in order to make this fic a thing of beauty. It would be a hot mess without them, that's for sure. See endnotes for my evaluation on whether or not I followed the song.

Chapter 4: You'll Find Your Servant is Your Master

There was nothing outside the dusty windows of the train but sand and the occasional palm. They had passed some pyramids a while back, and Sherlock stared at the napkin in front of him, where he'd sketched them: barren triangles looming out of an endless expanse of desert. He was alone in his car. Mycroft had paid for the ticket and then suddenly had to go deal with some trouble which arose in the Sudan. Sherlock would reach Alexandria in another eight hours, and then to the boat, beginning the long journey back to England.

He fastidiously used the napkin to wipe some stray soot from his wrist, an unsurprising development considering the heavy black smoke which often billowed down the sides of the train. His sketch now ruined, he crumpled the bit of paper and placed it at the edge of the table, ready for an attendant to come clean it up.

He sighed, steepling his fingers under his chin, elbows carelessly propped on either side of the straw hat he'd put on the table. He stared unseeing as the monotonous scenery slid by, lulled into a trance by the continuing clacking of the wheels as they rolled along the track. A small cavalcade of camels swept by, the men atop them swaddled in fabric that was considerably more dull than the adornments on their beasts. A vulture kept pace with the train for a while before veering sharply off. Sherlock tipped his head back on the plush seat and closed his eyes.

He had the top three buttons of his linen shirt undone, loosely draped cravat catching against the silk of his waistcoat; but in spite of that, sweat still collected in the hollow of his neck, spilling over to trickle down his chest, gluing fabric to sultry skin. It felt strange to be wearing so many clothes, again. He'd spent the past three months dressed in nothing more than trousers, and the stifling confinement of waistcoat, tie, jacket, boots and hat were an adjustment he was resentful to be making.

But the summer was over. Mycroft had come back through, and John's wife Mary was due to return from her summer-long visit to a friend in Luxor.

John had seemed to find it very difficult to watch Sherlock go. His face had been atypically frozen and expressionless when he'd dropped Sherlock off at the hotel. Sherlock had watched him closely when he'd extended his hand in farewell. John's eyes were drawn tight at the corners. His mouth was turned down, and he'd had to leave off twisting the band of gold around his finger before he could shake hands.

"Sherlock-" he'd begun.

But Sherlock cut him off. "I'll just be off, then, John." He nodded his head decisively. "It's been most... enlightening... spending the summer with you. Thank you for your investment."

John had looked at him oddly at that, but Sherlock had merely smirked. "I'll be in touch," he had told John, and then spun on his heel and strode into the atrium of the building, not looking back until he was deep within the lobby, glimpsing John's motorcar pulling away from the drive, nosing its way between pedestrians and animals before it vanished around a bend. Sherlock had clenched his hands by his side, and then stepped to the desk to ask which room his brother Mycroft had taken.

Mycroft had been supremely unconcerned, even disinterested, upon hearing about what Sherlock had done with his summer, so Sherlock volunteered little information, and life quickly assumed its old pace.


A week later, on the steamship, Sherlock watched the busy port of Alexandria recede until all he could see was the blue of the ocean and the puffy white clouds that chased each other across the sky. He tugged at the itchy neckline of tweed across his collarbones and, for the first time, thought longingly of England's cooler air, of the damp way a chill fog lay across his skin and beaded tiny droplets on his eyelashes. It would be good to get home.


"My name is Mrs. Hudson," the woman said as she held open the door to 221B Baker Street. "Would you like to come in and look around?"

Sherlock eeled past the door and bowed over her hand, an act carefully calculated to make her simper and blush. Two minutes in, still standing in the sitting room, he'd already decided he had to have the flat.

"-the old lodgers have only been gone for a week," the woman was saying. "I've got a bit of tidying up to do before you can move in, but once that's done..." and she gave him the firm, no nonsense look his own mother had mastered, "please don't forget that I am not your housekeeper."

"Of course not," Sherlock rumbled. "I'll take it."

Mrs. Hudson looked surprised. "Would you like to see the upstairs bedroom-"

"I'll take it."


One of the first things Sherlock did, once his belongings had been delivered from the old family estate in Sussex and set up in the new lodgings, was sit at the table in the kitchen to write a letter to John. It was short, and to the point, containing not much more than a proposition which Sherlock was intrigued to see if John would accept.

After that, following a bit of advice from John just prior to his departure, he wandered down to Scotland Yard and made it his mission to hang about, butting into their cases, until Inspector Lestrade gave up and said dammit, he could be a Consulting Detective, but he'd better not expect much in the way of compensation.

That suited Sherlock just fine.

A month later, he turned 19, and that same week, got a letter back from John. He smiled broadly when he read it, and twirled his cane in an irrepressible expression of satisfaction when he walked back to the Yard later that afternoon.

Everything was going according to plan.


When the hollow clatter of the knocker finally echoed throughout the flat, it had been another five months, and London was hunkered down for the long, wet winter. Sherlock stood at his front window, violin resting against his chin and shoulder, but bowing arm lax against his side. He listened to Mrs. Hudson answering the door and the response from a voice he'd certainly not forgotten. Two sets of feet mounted the stairs, both demonstrating the uneven gait of a limp. Mrs. Hudson and -

"John," he greeted coolly, turning slowly, aware of the picture he presented against the reflective window, the dark, gas-lit street of London behind him, firelight reflecting warmly off his scarlet dressing gown, the softly polished wood of his instrument shining and then dimmed as he set it aside on his desk. "How nice to finally see you again."

John stood awkwardly behind Mrs. Hudson, leaning slightly on his cane, heavy overcoat an odd contrast to his deeply tanned face. Sherlock strode forward, dressing gown billowing behind him, and Mrs. Hudson stepped aside so that he could greet John properly, long fingers curling around John's outstretched hand.

"Sherlock!" John's face curved into a genuine smile. "And so nice to see you likewise. You're looking fit, aren't you, fit indeed. Thank you so much for inviting me."

Sherlock smirked, as he knew well he had issued more than a simple invitation. "You're always welcome, John," he said, and turned to Mrs. Hudson. "Mrs. Hudson, may I introduce Dr. John Watson, your new lodger. He'll be taking the bedroom upstairs."

Mrs. Hudson twittered predictably, and cooed when John bent to kiss her wrinkled hand. She departed then for tea and tray of comestibles, and Sherlock shut the lounge door smartly behind her.

He turned again to look at John - it was so bizarre to see him bundled up for the cold, nothing but his face visible, hat pulled low against the weather. "Allow me," Sherlock said, holding out his hand for gloves, scarf and hat. John was slowly revealed from under the weight of wool: hands, wrists, ears and neck all as Sherlock remembered. He turned the man around a bit, easing his greatcoat off his shoulders, and simply could not stop himself from stooping to press his lips against the back of John's neck. "I'm glad you came," he said, and was startled and chagrined at his own honesty.

John turned with a smile and said, uncomfortable with his own candor, "Well, there wasn't much for me there, was there?"

Discomfited with the gentle intimacy of the moment, Sherlock jolted John forwards, crashing him against his chest, and then swooped down to claim a rough kiss, which John eagerly dove into. Time had not diminished the fire between them, the incendiary energy when they came together, and John's mouth was hot around his tongue, his teeth hard and predatory against his lip. Sherlock bit back, fingers digging into John's shoulders, pulling him in more closely, allowed his teeth to sink into John's lip, scrape against his tongue, suckling hard as his cock came to life between his legs.

John made a noise, a drawn out, muffled groan, and with a clatter he dropped his cane; his hands came up to thread through Sherlock's hair, gripping and twisting at his curls, his body pushing against Sherlock's own, tugging him down to John's height. Sherlock mumbled nonsense in response, kissing his way along John's jaw, nipping at the spot behind his ear, hands locking around his neck, thumbs tipping back his jaw to expose his throat to Sherlock's moving mouth. They were so deeply involved with licking and sucking and sighing that they hardly noticed the footfalls outside the door until a brisk knock broke them apart, pulling back guiltily, putting space between their bodies.

Mrs. Hudson pushed her way in, large tea tray balanced between her hands, and Detective Lestrade loomed over her shoulder. "Sherlock!" he said, excited and impatient, not really seeming to notice either the landlady or Sherlock's guest. "They've found another. Would you come with me?"

"Where is it?" Sherlock asked, taking the tray from Mrs. Hudson, plunking it without grace onto the table, and shooing her from the room with a series of vividly insensitive gestures.

"A woman. She was found in a house in Lauriston Gardens. I've got a police cab waiting."

Sherlock wrinkled his nose. "I'll get a hackney, thank you, and follow along behind." He herded Lestrade from the room and then turned suddenly to look at John, as if surprised to still see him there. "John, you may sit and wait, if you'd like."

John nodded and headed for the sofa, face set in poorly concealed disappointment. Sherlock bounded after him, taking a cushion and tossing it onto the floor next to the coffee table. "John," he smirked. "I think you'll be more comfortable here." He leaned down again, sliding his hand around the back of John's head and pulling it up for a hard kiss, slipping his thigh between John's, other hand firm on the small of John's back, pulling him in. "It suits you," he murmured, voice low and rusty.

John's eyes were dark, pupils blown in the gaslight, and Sherlock licked his lips in anticipation. "Go on," he said. "Get down and wait."

Slowly, John did, never breaking their gaze. Sherlock watched him closely for signs of discomfort or hesitation, but saw none. John used one hand for support on the sofa as he lowered himself to his knees on the cushion, and his head tilted further and further back the lower he sank. Sherlock hummed in approval when he'd settled, running his hand from John's forehead to his nape, petting him, pleased. "I won't be long," he promised.

"I certainly hope not," was John's dry rejoinder, and Sherlock couldn't help but laugh. He used the hand on the back of John's neck to pull him tight against the crotch of his trousers, rolling his hips against the bones of his face, and John made a muffled moan, the sound expressed in a searing humid breath through the fabric of his trousers, before Sherlock released him.

Moving to the door, he swung himself into his caped greatcoat and flung himself down the steps, making sure to close the door behind him.

Once he waved down a hackney, however, he paused with one foot in the carriage and the other still on the ground. He bit his lip and cast his eyes to the side, thinking.

"Wait here a moment," he ordered the driver, and pivoted on his heel to dash back into the flat before the man had even had a chance to nod. When he threw the door open, his gaze landed immediately on John, who had startled, and was risen slightly off his heels, eyes wide.

"John," Sherlock said breathlessly, and John relaxed back down, one hand rubbing absently at his knee. "You're a doctor."

John nodded, looking confused.

"And a good one, I presume."

John nodded again.

"Seen a lot of injuries, then? Violent deaths?"

"Well, yes."

"Bit of trouble too, I know."

John raised both eyebrows and the corners of his mouth lifted in the precursor to a smile. "Of course, yes. Enough for a lifetime. Far too much."

Sherlock smirked down at him. John's eyes were alight, his cheeks flushed with an emotion beyond sexual arousal. Sherlock could see something new growing behind the shifting lines of his face, and his own heart beat faster in rapport. He drew in an adrenaline-laced breath. "Want to see some more?"

"Oh, God, yes."

Thus John was drawn from the room in Sherlock's wake, thrust into the current of Sherlock's life, and Sherlock felt more alive than he had since Marrakech, running through the city with John at his heels. The next several hours were exhilarating.


They got home well after midnight, laughing and high from the combination of peril and excitement. The case had gone well, they'd worked together like two specially fitted gears, and Sherlock couldn't have been more delighted.

Sherlock considerately helped John with his coat and imperiously gestured him back to his cushion, where he sank down without protest, eyeing Sherlock, appearing eager to see what the young man would do.

Sherlock left him there, gliding to the kitchen to set the kettle, hanging his own coat and scarf and tossing his hat onto a corner table. John stayed quiet and passive in the lounge, waiting for Sherlock's return.


Sherlock returned with two cups of tea and set them both carefully on the table, the dull thunk of them loud in the quiet room. It was late, no activity on the street outside, and the gas lights had been turned off at midnight. The fire was beginning to die down, the room dancing on the edge of warm light. Sherlock sat on the edge of the low table facing John, who looked up at him with a face that seemed deliberately masked in calm. Highlit next to the shadow in the hollow of his throat, his skin fluttered rapidly over his pulse, and his eyes were huge and luminous with interest. Sherlock smiled faintly and placed his hand around John's neck, fingers curled into his nape, thumb pressing over that accelerated pulse.

"Tell me about my letter, John," he murmured, letting his voice drop into the deeper register he'd noticed had such an effect on the other man. He pressed a little harder with his thumb, and then stroked up to the rough stubble along the cord of his neck, the hard line of his jaw, the mobile, thin strip of his lip. "Why did you come here?"

John looked down, and Sherlock was caught for a moment in his eyelashes: so blond they were almost white, thick and straight and long, they swept down to cast shadows over his cheeks. He cleared his throat, the sound sharp-edged and jarring in the quiet oasis of their lounge, and then sighed. "You were right about Mary," he said. And if Sherlock weren't so elated at having John at his knee, he might have spared a moment in sympathy to the cuckolded man. However, it wasn't like John hadn't been unfaithful to Mary as well. Although, of course, he couldn't have been impregnated with Sherlock's child, so the parallel ended there.

"I filed paperwork for a divorce, left her the house there, to raise the bastard." He pursed his lips and slid them to the side, face so extraordinarily fluid and fascinating. "She didn't fuss."

Sherlock hadn't thought that she would. The house in Marrakech had been filled with tell-tale clues of their failed marriage, of the man Mary had been seeing on the side, of the evidence of her burgeoning pregnancy. She had not gone to visit a friend in Luxor, that was clear. And every move John made, the comments he forgot to censor, the pattern of papers on his desk and clothing in his wardrobe spoke of a man who felt trapped and unloved. Unneeded.

"I thought of your… conditions…" John trailed off, and Sherlock tunneled his fingers into John's short hair, the grays glinting in the light, and pressed his head down to his knee. John relaxed as if in relief, not having to face Sherlock as he spoke. "I thought I could try that. For a while."

"Tell me what conditions you're agreeing to," Sherlock pressed, stroking through John's hair. He needed to hear John say it. To acknowledge it out loud. In a way, it was a triumph, turning the tables of the summer dynamic they'd established, and Sherlock smirked to have become the victor. Alternately, based more on the connection that he'd formed with the man, it was a need to acquiesce to their true feelings, the relationship they were meant to have, one where they could both relax and expose themselves without fear of censure. Sherlock needed to hear that. Needed to know that John understood.

"I have to grant you mastery of me," John muttered, body tensed under Sherlock's long fingers. He was having trouble with the words. "You said… that if I came here, I had to… surrender myself to you. That if I wanted this, your home would be open, and…"

"And I'll take care of you, John," Sherlock said, when John trailed off and did not seem inclined to continue. "I'll care for you, just like you did for me this past summer. I learned a lot," and his voice was warm with laughter. "... learned a lot from you. I want a chance to … put it into practice. For the servant, as it were, to become the master. If you will, John. If you will."

John lifted his face, skin so pale behind his tan, so washed of color that it was alabaster, eyes huge and conflicted. He took a deep breath, caught in the intensity of Sherlock's silvered stare, and then turned his head so that his face was pressed into the lean muscle of Sherlock's thigh, the humid air of his sigh heating the skin there. Sherlock ran his fingers down into John's collar, bumping over the knobs of his spine.

John watched Sherlock for a moment, gaze considering and calculating before it smoothed out into serenity. He had made a decision. "I will," he promised.

"Very well," Sherlock sat back and nudged John off his leg, handing him his tea. "Very well then. Let us begin." He clinked his mug to John's, and then felt very awkward for a moment, unsure, feeling his age, his inexperience, and blood began to rise in his cheeks. But John merely smiled, eyelashes flickering gold in the reflection of the fire, and drank very deliberately.


Sherlock broke off pieces of the shortbread biscuits from the tin at his elbow and fed them slowly to John, who opened his mouth self-consciously to accept each bite. Sherlock read the numerous expressions flashing across his face, watched his skin shift and fold as he chewed, saw his unique nose twitch and the flush rise across his neck. Intrigued by the last, he unbuttoned John's shirt, spidering down John's chest with cool, firm fingers, chasing the blush down to his pectorals, to probe the thick, keloidal skin that shaped the scar on his shoulder.

John swallowed the last bite and sat back on his heels, tongue flicking out to catch a lingering crumb, straightening his back against Sherlock's exploratory hands. His eyes were down, watching as Sherlock swept through the fur of his chest, stopping to circle pert nipples, to pinch one tightly between finger and thumb.

When John gasped, Sherlock said, "Eyes on me, John," and he did: as easy as sliding into water, he responded to Sherlock's command, and Sherlock rewarded him with by twisting the pebble of flesh in his fingers until John released a muffled moan, lifted his body forward off his heels, pushing against the small pain that Sherlock was inflicting. He tugged until the flesh of John's chest was tented out around the pink bud, and John tossed his head and shuddered under Sherlock's hands.

Sherlock hummed, the sound soft and deep, and set the tea cups and biscuit tin aside. "John," he said gravely. "I want you undressed. Naked at my feet."

And John sucked in a breath, hands fisting and opening at his thighs in rapid succession. Sherlock watched his throat, could physically see the sudden increase in John's heartbeat. He stood slowly, stretching the limber line of his body to full height, and sauntered to his chair, placed at an angle to the fireplace. He sat with a certain regal poise, and it wasn't faked, his confidence. He could read in John everything he needed: John's lust for him, John's need, John's titillation at the command. He could practically watch the nerves travel from his nipple to his cock, and the bulge there was unmistakable.

Sherlock leaned back into the velvet of his wing-backed chair and spread his legs nonchalantly, carelessly disposed, but with no less deliberation for all that. He was very aware of the picture he presented, with his hair tousled on his forehead and against his nape, his collar undone just enough to expose the arch of his neck and the delicate lines of his collarbones. His legs sprawled, dominating and relaxed, and his forearms lay along the rests of the chair, fingers curled, long and white, around the ends. He lifted one arm and languidly beckoned behind him, where John was now hidden over his shoulder. "Do it here, John. And bring your cushion."

Sherlock wanted mastery, but he had no intention of damaging John's dodgy leg; the cushion was essential. John walked over, set the cushion on the floor between Sherlock's outstretched legs and then stood before the fire, stance strong and military. Sherlock could see that he was bracing himself. For what, he couldn't imagine. They'd certainly seen one another naked before. "Eyes on me," Sherlock reiterated.

Challengingly, John stared at him as he unbuttoned his waistcoat and the remainder of his shirt, jerking it free of his trousers. He was efficient and bold, tossing each item of clothing over the other armchair as he pulled it free: waistcoat, shirt, boots and stockings, trousers and undergarments. Finally he was bare to Sherlock's devouring gaze… exposed and unburdened, and Sherlock licked his own lips, mirroring John's habitual gesture.

The body before him was perhaps small, but broadcast contained, thundering strength, muscles still hard in spite of the fact that he was out of the service; posture proud and unyielding, the shiny skin of his scar attesting to his courage and drive. His penis was pointed straight up, eager and unashamed. It flexed against his stomach, and the firelight caught on the strand of fluid that briefly connected the two.

Sherlock's skin heated pink, he could feel it, could feel the electricity of his arousal zinging across his arms and legs, lifting the soft hairs and plumping his veins. His heart constricted and commenced beating even faster, lust and fear warring in his heart until his palms grew hot and damp. He could do this, though, he knew he could. He'd envisioned it for months now, how it would feel to control John at last, to bridle him, to have that power and dedication to order as he saw fit. He wanted it badly, and knew John would want it, too. Had been sure enough, in fact, of John's feelings that he'd written and sent that fateful letter those months ago.

John waited, the tic of his clenching fists revealing his disquiet. Sherlock turned to the table at his elbow and lazily poured himself a whiskey from the decanter there. He unbuttoned a few more buttons of his shirt and tipped his head back, shaking curls off his overheated forehead and staring at John across the luminous reflection of his own cheekbones. He waited, fingers tapping on the glass, before taking a slow sip. Sherlock had always known the power of a pause, the seduction of making a man wait, although he'd never applied it to a sexual situation before.

A flush was sinking across John's chest, filtering down as if pulled by gravity, and his erection continued to jump, echoing the twitching of the large muscles of his thighs. Sherlock decided he had waited long enough and finally gestured him to the cushion between his knees. "Sit," he said, striving to keep his voice smooth and steady, to not reveal his uncertainty.

John lowered himself before the chair without hesitation, and smoothed his hands from Sherlock's knees to ankles as though he thought Sherlock needed gentling. His eyes softened as he looked up, and he said, as if to help Sherlock by giving him a suggestion, "What do you want me to do, Sherlock?"

Sherlock leaned forward abruptly, dropping his empty glass to the side, where its fall was muffled by the thick carpet. He curled his hand around John's jaw, and his fingers were long enough to extend beyond his ear, to fit against the swell of his occipital bone. He thumbed under John's chin, stroking the rough stubble there, the soft drape of skin older and more weathered than Sherlock's own, bumping across the ridge of bone to approach his mouth and then pulling gently at a finely-cut bottom lip.

John relaxed, allowing him to pull at yielding flesh, letting his jaw drop enough to grant Sherlock ingress, and Sherlock probed into the humid heat of his mouth, pressing against sharp central incisors and pulling downwards, chasing the enticing muscle of his tongue when he licked out at Sherlock's invading digit. John stared up at him, eyes fathomless pools of indigo, and closed his mouth around Sherlock's thumb, holding it still with his delicate bite, sucking and licking at the tip until Sherlock gasped, and the heat in his belly compressed into his cock, lifting it to push against his trousers. His own lips parted, and John jerked closer to him with an audible groan, suckling harder, and his hands gripped around Sherlock's ankles like they were anchors.

Panting and a bit too hurried to be altogether graceful, Sherlock fumbled with his trousers one-handed, attempting to unbutton the flies. The air felt dry and harsh in his mouth, and would have recalled the climate of Morocco if not for the heavy flavor of firewood smoke that came along with it. He jumped when John lifted a hand to wrap it around Sherlock's, preventing him from continuing. He gave Sherlock's thumb a last nip before drawing back to speak. "Sherlock," he crooned. "Let me."

Sherlock heaved in a shuddering breath, wrestling himself for his own control, forgetting to be a spectator to their scene, forgetting to arrange himself with authority and nonchalance. John waited calmly until Sherlock fisted his other hand in John's hair and nodded. "Suck it, John," he demanded hoarsely, his register so low and gravelly that the words were hard to make out.

John shuddered and growled, laying open Sherlock's trousers and pulling his cock free of its nest of fabric. Hot hands, small and deft and hard, pressed at his groin, thumbs cupped below his bollocks and fingers framing the root of his erection. John kept eye contact as he rose to his knees and bent forward, breathing against sensitive skin while Sherlock's penis bounced with agitation, jerking forward to bang against John's lips, craving entry.

John licked teasingly at the head, tonguing the foreskin down to reveal the frenulum and then enthusiastically mouthing it, busy and stimulating, and Sherlock couldn't stop his hips from lifting, hands shaped into claws digging into the armrests of his chair, head thrown back to stare blindly at the ceiling. John massaged his perineum, touch frustratingly light through the layers of fabric, and continued to focus on the head of Sherlock's penis, gasping as he worked, and the wash of each exhale ran cool across thin, saliva-coated skin, only to be reheated by the surround of John's mouth.

Sherlock held himself tight to the chair by virtue of his frantic grip on the arms, and his thighs trembled as he tried to thrust, inhibited by the press of John's hands, the insistent digging of John's thumbs deep between his legs. "John," he ground out at last, and John dipped his head down in response, sliding down the length of his cock until it pushed against the back of his throat, until Sherlock could feel the wall of his tonsils, the deliberate contractions of his soft palate.

Sherlock's breath left him in a rush; he was whirling in the deep pulsations that signaled the onset of his orgasm, and he released the chair to grab John's throat, felt the bulging there of his own cock, and almost lost the willpower to push John away. But he didn't want to come now - he had plans. He tightened his fingers and slowly pushed John back, reveling in the glazed glimmer of his eye, the spit and precome that slid down his chin. They sat frozen, staring at each other, the only movement in the room the flickering shadows cast by firelight, the only sound the occasional crackle or settling of logs.

"Go wait for me in my bedroom," Sherlock commanded. And if his voice seemed scratchy, it didn't seem to bother John. John pushed himself up and one of his joints popped loudly in the quiet of the room. John smirked, looking down at Sherlock's surprised expression. "Cushions," he muttered, but it didn't sound angry, more… fond. He turned and strode through the kitchen, sliding around the table to disappear in the back, and Sherlock watched him go, caught by the bunching muscles of his arse, the tantalizing glimpse of heavy bollocks, the straight back that spoke of integrity and security right to the depths of Sherlock's lonely heart.

Sherlock followed after the few moments he took simply to regain his composure, to draw his strategy around himself again like armor. He had spent the summer studying, dammit. Literally at the feet of this man. And he was determined to turn it all on its head.

He lit a lamp using a straw from the fireplace and slowly moved back to his bedroom. The darkness parted in front of the warm circle of light provided by the small lamp, and John seemed to solidify before his eyes, ghostly skin and bones arranged at parade rest, as he shut the door behind himself with a click. Sherlock carelessly set the lamp on a shelf and strode confidently to stand in front of John. He put his hands on shoulders narrower than his own (but more experienced, proven capable of bearing burdens that Sherlock could not yet dream of) and slowly moved them down to John's fingertips before falling away.

Curious, he let his hand follow his eyes, tracing the line of clavicle, the shadow and relief of light across the topography of John's body. He probed the twisted scar on John's shoulder, ran careful fingers across the expansion and collapse of his ribs as he breathed, measuring the capacity of his lungs. He pressed his palm against John's heart and twisted long pale fingers in the mat of grey-shot hair on his chest, studying the marks that so many more years in the world had written across John's body. John licked his lips, patient and oddly understanding, at ease as Sherlock explored. The hair cradling his cock was darker, a distinct brown in the dim light, and there was not a gray hair to be seen there. Sherlock ran his fingers through it, beguiled by the crinkly texture, the small hitch in John's breath, the jolt of his body as Sherlock cupped his bollocks, tugged experimentally on the sac.

He guided John to turn around, repeated his exploration with John's back, taking in the exit wound from the war, other small scars marking the broad wash of skin, filling his hands with the taut curve of John's buttocks. "Bend over," he said, and John did, bracing himself on his hands against the mattress, legs still planted shoulder-width apart.

Sherlock knelt behind him. This would be a first, and his curiosity surpassed his arousal for a moment. He wrapped his hands around John's thighs, appreciating the strength there, the hard, fur-covered muscle, the sturdy line from hip to foot, even the precision and balance with which John propped himself against the bed, his back a straight line, arse presented with no appearance of doubt. He said nothing, but widened his stance a fraction, and Sherlock watched his bollocks swing in the shadow between his legs.

He probed the cleft with his fingers, rubbing the tight skin between anus and scrotum. He could hear John's breaths, even and controlled, feel the crinkle of hair brushing across his knuckles, tickling the back of his hand. Sherlock opened him up, leaned a bit to the side to allow the lamplight to disperse the shadow between the mounds of John's arse, reflecting off shining hairs and revealing the round bud of John's center. Sherlock rubbed against it with his thumb, focused on the strength and quiver of John's body, on the resistance of his flesh, on the ragged edges of John's gasp. Pulling John wider apart, he leaned forward and licked into the crease between his thumbs, absorbing the texture, the heat, the musky flavor of the man before him. John gasped again, almost a whine, and Sherlock had to hold hard to resist the inward clench of gluteus muscles. He licked again, a broad stroke, leaving saliva in his wake, nose brushing the thin skin covering his sacrum.

Sherlock stayed attentive at John's arsehole for several minutes, assiduous in his study, cataloging John's reactions and his own, content to feel the gradual unfurling of the crinkled flesh under his lips, until he could at last press his tongue inside, pinched tight by the ring of muscle it probed, drilling into the very core of John, hotter even than the inside of Sherlock's mouth. John moaned and jerked around him, and Sherlock impatiently slapped at his arse before holding it open once again, twisting his tongue through wet hairs, boring inside with insistence, feeling the soft press of John's inner walls and the shaking of his body.

But. Although John's reactions were intriguing, and while Sherlock wanted to pursue them from an academic standpoint, he found himself… unsure. This was all part of his plan, part of the scene he'd been playing in his mind since John had replied to his letter. The game was on, and the game was to fuck John hard, to wring him out and leave him to dry. And yet, Sherlock's erection was flagging, the sizzling heat under his skin abating and he felt unsatisfied. He launched himself to his feet and angrily wiped his hand across the lower half of his face, wiping away his own spit and glaring down at John's bent back.

He slapped him again, watching the shimmer of the impact shiver outwards from where he hit, and John's grunt did nothing but confuse him. A few more smacks, and John's arse glowed gently red, the long lines of Sherlock's fingers painted onto his skin. But the more Sherlock hit, the less aroused he felt, the more confused. He reached around John's hip, spidering through the hairs on his belly to measure the strength of his erection. It seemed less enthusiastic than before, and Sherlock drew back a moment to regroup.

"Stand up, John," he said after he'd drawn a few deep breaths. John turned immediately, responsive and attentive, hands relaxed by his sides. Careful scrutiny of his face revealed all the typical signs of arousal: lips parted, tongue resting on his teeth, flushed cheeks and blown pupils. But Sherlock thought that passivity did not suit him. He wiped his hand across his mouth once again and then dropped his arms. "Undress me, John." He hesitated a beat too long and failed to sound quite as imperious as he'd intended. "Touch me."

John swayed toward him immediately, and hummed approval under his breath, the sound morphing into murmured words that Sherlock could not discern. John started at his jaw, thumbs tracing the cut of his mastoid and fingers combing through the curls at his nape. Before Sherlock could blink, John pushed onto his toes and kissed him, hands gently curved around his skull, urging him down into the kiss. He pushed his tongue into John's mouth, abstractly noting the difference in access to the orifice he'd worked on earlier. John's mouth was open, accepting, alive and moving against his own, interactive, and Sherlock sank into the experience, relishing the communication, the back and forth dialog they could conduct with tongue and lip alone.

John dropped back down onto his heels and smoothed his palms across Sherlock's chest, catching in the V of his shirt and quickly dealing with the remaining buttons. He pushed the garment off Sherlock's arms and it fell behind him on the floor, unheeded. John swayed close again, mouth damp on his chest, brushing lightly across his flesh, a nibble here, a lingering stroke of the tongue there, lips pulling at his nipple only to slip to the side to bite near his armpit. Gooseflesh pebbled in John's wake, and Sherlock began to sink into a dizzying, wanton fog, relaxing into John's touch, the calloused fingertips that stroked and pushed and pulled at him until he was naked as well, John kneeling on the floor with Sherlock's drawers in his hands.

John dropped the warm bit of linen to the side and then pressed his face to Sherlock's thighs, the hair on his head teasing against Sherlock's cock, his teeth scraping delicate lines into the fair skin of Sherlock's leg. "Now what, Sherlock," John prompted, voice cracking. "What will you have me do for you? To you?" He licked a line up the join of Sherlock's thighs, until his bollocks rested on John's upraised chin. John breathed and stared and moved his head so that Sherlock's testicles rolled across his chin and onto his lips.

Sherlock couldn't answer, his chest was too tight, his throat paralyzed. But his hands knew what he wanted, pushing at John's jaw until it dropped open, and his bollocks fell against the soft wet curve of John's bottom lip, to be immediately traced by his tongue, that damnable tongue, always peeking out, so eager for contact with Sherlock's body. John spread his fingers wide across Sherlock's arse, pinkies wedged into the crease against his thighs, and he sucked in both bollocks at once, jaw salaciously extended to accommodate them. Sherlock ground his teeth against his moan when John began to suck, braced himself against John's shoulder when he felt the flat of John's tongue laving against him, and his cock was painfully blood-filled. Sherlock pressed his thumbs against the corners of John's eyes, holding his head steady as his jaw worked. He had to widen his legs against the pressure of John's mouth, dropping until his hips were rolling against John's face, and he wished he could get even closer.

He slid a finger into John's mouth for a reason, but forgot it in the movement of John's tongue, the hard push of his lips, conformed to protect Sherlock's sensitive bits from sharp teeth. But he recalled himself to his purpose and pulled down until John's mouth was wide again, and Sherlock could pull himself free. He tangled his hand in John's short hair and pulled him upwards. "Lie down on the bed," he gasped, urgent.

John flung himself backwards, wiggled himself up until he was arranged full length, and folded his arms under his head, waiting. His smile was wicked, but also gentle, and Sherlock's gaze skittered away from that knowing expression - down his heaving chest, burnished with sweat, and further down to the red head of his cock, fighting to pull completely free of its foreskin. John waited. Bold. Infuriating.

Sherlock climbed onto the bed projecting a languor he did not feel, swung a knee over John's legs and knelt there, hands pressed against John's chest. He smirked at John, determined to wrest back control, allowed his lips to part and teased the pointed end of his tongue against the dip of his upper lip. John's eyes dilated before him, his own tongue unconsciously imitating the movement of Sherlock's. Sherlock began a slow knee-walk up John's body, fingers moving from chest to shoulders. "I want you to open me up," he decided, and pulled hard on John's shoulders, scooting him down the mattress to make room for Sherlock's knees, now on either side of his face, "with your mouth, John. I want your tongue inside me."

John rumbled his assent, reverently sweeping his hands up Sherlock's calves, skimming over the ample curve of his buttock, framing his waist. Sherlock sighed and shuddered in anticipation, sliding his knees further apart so he could slowly sink down over John's head. There was shuffling on the mattress behind him, but he didn't turn around to see what John was doing, only reached forward to grab at the headboard with both hands, trying to see around his cock and his bollocks to John's face, burning with the puff of each breath between his thighs.

John teased him apart, hands firm between the globes of his arse, and tugged him closer until he felt the push of John's mouth, pursing lips and probing tongue. Sherlock tossed his head, nipples pricking into tight knots, fingers spasming against the iron of the bed frame. John pulled him in, settled him down, and Sherlock felt his teeth against his skin and shivered through another tsunami of a frisson. "Yes," he ground out, staring blindly at his own whitened knuckles. "Ungh, John-"

John worked him hard and fast, nose pushing up under his bollocks, mouth frantic in the crack of him, tongue peremptory in its efforts to penetrate him, and Sherlock pushed down against it, sensuously indulging in the persistent work of John's mouth. He could feel nothing but firing nerves, the scrape of stubble and teeth, the humid flares of uncontrolled breath, the agile and vigorous organ within him deliciously preparing him for more to come. Sherlock undulated his hips, swinging them from the pendulum of his spine, grinding down on John's face, feeling each indent of a finger that would leave small circular bruises for the morning. He was grunting and mumbling, saying nothing important, a litany of John and yes and come on more, give me more. And John was bouncing him against his chin, fingers clamped around him, encouraging the crush of his hips. All Sherlock could feel was slickness and fire, the opening hole that was sending sizzling messages to all the furthest points of his body, and spurts of precome were sliding down the column of his cock, glossy and fierce.

Sherlock pulled away before he could come, narrowing his eyes down at John's red face and wild expression, and launched himself at the nightstand, where he had a bottle of oil waiting. He resettled himself low over John's stomach and dumped too much oil on his hands. He didn't care, just flung the bottle back and twisted to see, reached around to grab John's cock, pulling it upwards from where it strained against his stomach, and smeared his hand clumsily along John's shaft, curling tight around his girth, able to think only of how it would feel to be filled with it, split along its length, to have John's fingers biting into his hips and grinding up into Sherlock with the same desperation Sherlock felt now.

John was already moving, grabbing Sherlock's slicked hand and maneuvering it down the line of his back until it slid between Sherlock's cheeks and slithered down to his opening. Sherlock rose to his knees, keening in surprise when John pushed Sherlock's own wetted fingers inside himself. He threw his other hand forward, clawing for balance while his own fingers skated against his rim, slid easily inside his body, urged by John's insistence, slipping into velvet heat. Sherlock's head fell forward to thunk against the meat of John's shoulder as he flexed around them, growling, snapping his teeth into John while he traced the taut boundary of his rim, pushed back unthinking onto his own hand. John held him tightly, hand wrapped around delicate metacarpals, furling them together, guiding Sherlock's fingers in and out.

Sherlock felt explosive, sank his teeth too deep into John's shoulder and shivered at the sudden metallic bloom in his mouth when he broke the skin. John barked at him, and he let go immediately, glaring down at the man, fingers stuffed into his own arse, eyes dazzled by all the sparks going off behind his lids. John pumped his hips up, and Sherlock gazed at the flex of his chest and the roll of his abdomen as he did so, marveling at the power between his knees, shuddering as the damp tip of John's erection bounced up to brush against his thigh. John's fingers were beside his own, inexorably pushing inside as well, making themselves at home, and Sherlock's mouth dropped open at the feel, stretched to his limits, strung out on sensation.

John twisted his hand in a half-circle that elicited a choking gasp from Sherlock before pulling his fingers out and wrapping them around the headboard. "Sherlock," he grunted, and his entire body was quivering where it touched Sherlock's; Sherlock could feel the bed vibrating with it. "How do you want me? What do you want?"

Sherlock didn't answer for a moment, too dazed to do more than snarl down at him. He pulled his own fingers free of the clutch of his arse, biting his lips against the drag, and gripped John's cock, angling it upward. "This," he panted. "Let me."

John froze, obedient and attentive, and Sherlock wiggled until he could feel the head of John's cock pushing against his body, slipping until it barely nudged inside his hole. He played with it there for a moment, more focused on his own sensations than on John, who was writhing and groaning beneath him, fingers clenched into fists around the headboard. Sherlock maneuvered the cock back and forth against himself, rolled it in little circles, sank just enough to feel the stretch of it, but not enough to pop the whole head inside. His back was arched so deeply he could feel the concavity of his stomach, the stretched muscles there a wall he wanted to distort with the full barbarian invasion of John's cock, and he lifted his free hand to rub down the thrust of his slim chest, the ridge of his ribs and singing points of his nipples.

"Oh, god. Sherlock," John hissed, and he pushed up to penetrate, but Sherlock lifted away, not allowing it yet, only wanting the tease, completely absorbed in the sexual ballet of his own body. He rubbed his hand against his skin again, hot and wet with sweat, entire body lubricated for grinding against the flesh of another. His spine had never felt so loose, so flexible and strong, muscles all eager to strain with the sybaritic pleasure of movement, the intimate coordination of sex.

John picked up his rhythm, matched it, thrust his hips against Sherlock's every downstroke, curled his hands around the whip of muscle that was Sherlock's torso, rasping against over-sensitized skin. He swept through the hair of Sherlock's belly, pushing against the stretch under his skin, teased against his cock before slipping up to scratch across his chest, pinch and pull at his nipples, work bruises into the flowing metronome of his hips.

Little by little, Sherlock let himself fall lower, opening easily around John's cock. He found new moves to compliment the steel rod at his center, circling around it and rolling his shoulders, feeling the intrusion clear up to his throat. He cried out, low and desperate, head dropped down to stare dizzily at John's face, the creases next to his eyes and across his forehead, the intensity of his gaze, shining and avid, the glint of teeth in his opened mouth.

Finally Sherlock sank down all the way, weight fully resting across John's thighs, body throbbing around the cock inside him, thrumming with the rapid beat of his heart, a rhythm echoed by John: he could feel it through his cock, see it in his neck, recognize it in his broken, panting breaths.

"Yes. Sherlock," John muttered, and for a moment, his eyes rolled back into his head before he pulled them back into focus. "Good. So good. You- I want to-" He pulled up his legs, bent knees firmly against Sherlock's back, and Sherlock could feel the rein he had over his instincts, the thrumming under his skin that demanded movement.

Sherlock sucked in air, a serrated gasp that echoed in the room, a vocalization of his shivers, his sweat, the rhythmic pounding of his veins and the burning of his cock. John ran his hands up Sherlock's thighs, rubbing the soft hairs there against the grain, inciting flashing frissons, and then curled his hands around, probing to feel where he and Sherlock were joined, to trace the strained skin of his rim, to stroke both of them at once, slick and hot in the darkness between their bodies.

"All right," Sherlock choked. "Yes. All right. Let me-" and he began to rise and drop, slow, feeling the movement inside himself, the pull and friction right at his hole, the contraction and lift of John, working in counterpoint, hands moving him gently, responsive to his direction, to the changes in his pace. And slow was doing it for him. Slow was stretching his skin until it was going to burst, teasing him into fragments and slivers, sluicing him with fire and ice. Slow meant he could stare at John's face, twisted in pleasure and concentration, watch the drops of sweat roll down to darken his hair, watch the grimace of his mouth, contorted in pleasure, and the stories and character behind his eyes.

"John," Sherlock said, and his voice went high at the end, and he couldn't stop it. "John-" and the roiling drumbeat of his blood sank low in his abdomen, suffusing his sex, the stretch of skin leading to his hole, the flesh that was squeezing so tightly around John. He had to close his eyes, felt scalding tears leak at the corners, bunch up under his lashes and fall to mingle with the sweat on his face. "John."

John held him firm with one hand wrapped around his waist, guiding his movement as he rode John's body, and his other hand shaped a fist around Sherlock's cock, not too tight, hot and rough. With that touch, Sherlock's rhythm faltered, his body shaking and spasming, squirming in John's grip, impaled on his cock. He gasped, noises that sounded like sobs and cries and he could not have muffled for everything else in the world, sounds pouring out of him to echo his orgasm: a continual string of release that tore itself from the roots of his soul to the basest guts of his body. It pounded through him like waves, whipping him forward at last to fall against John's sturdy chest, fingers clawed into his biceps, wet face pushed into his neck.

And while Sherlock shivered and undulated to his aftershocks, John's implacable thrusting didn't cease, stayed slow and steady for another minute until John cried out, "Sherlock!" His arms clenched around Sherlock so hard he couldn't breathe, shaking and groaning, chest heaving in jerky gasps. And Sherlock tightened back around him, used his whole body to hold on to John, so that he wouldn't fly away.

They lay there for long moments, just catching their breath and enjoying the spreading languor of their bodies. Neither moved, arms still holding tight, and Sherlock smiled briefly to himself when John softened enough for warm liquid to trickle out, dampening his arse and his thighs. Sherlock closed his eyes, breathing deeply, the scent of John and sex warm and nuanced in his nose.

"Don't ever leave," Sherlock breathed out, thoughtless and stupid with it, giving himself away.

Before he could even tense up, find a way to salvage his admission of vulnerability, John turned his head to press his face into Sherlock's hair, ran a thumb across the nape of Sherlock's neck. "I could never," he whispered back, chest vibrating against Sherlock's own. "You don't have to try, Sherlock. Don't you know I'm wrapped around your finger?"

With that admission, Sherlock could relax into sleep, safe in John's embrace. He wanted to continue to explore control, to aim for John's level of mastery. But it was reassuring to know that John was both patient and devoted. That he didn't need to do anything more than he felt comfortable with. Master, servant. It was nothing more than simple vocabulary. What had true meaning was the relationship unique between them, however they chose to define it, and however mutable it would be. John was not the only one who was wrapped around a finger. And Sherlock didn't find that frightening at all.

Devil and the deep blue sea behind me

Vanish in the air you'll never find me

I will turn your flesh to alabaster

Then you'll find your servant is your master

Oh, you'll be wrapped around my finger

Note: Welp. This didn't entirely go the way I had predicted. (Sorry, sorry!) I'm going to blame that all on Sherlock, the obstreperous boy. He simply refused to be a domineering, sociopathic arsehole (which is totally what I had planned in the beginning.) So it's a happy ending after all. I hope y'all enjoyed it, and weren't too disappointed. Snog wants all of you to go look up service dom, so you can understand the new dynamic in their relationship. Snog is awesome.

Also, I want to apologize for leaving so many comments from the last chapter unanswered until the last minute. I was, um, drowning in procrastination. I promise to do better this time. And never think that I don't read and appreciate your comments, because I do, I do. They make me so happy, and I'm so grateful that you take the time, not only to read my story, but to let me know if you liked it. Thank you, my darlings! This is for you!

Oh, y'all are welcome to join me on Tumblr if you'd like (also under "mojoflower".) My blog is just about as nsfw as my stories, so that shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone.