Muse

Banner by the fabulous Jilly James

Banner by the fabulous Jilly James

Unbeknownst to partial Sentinel John Watson a tentative bonding link occurred with Sherlock during their standoff with Moriarty at the pool. After having refused to bond with anyone for years–people are idiots–Sherlock is now afraid to lose the link that is helping him to stabilize his Guide abilities. As John’s other senses emerge will Sherlock be able to keep the bond secret?

Title: Muse

Author: Chestnut NOLA
Fandom/Genre: Sherlock BBC
Relationship(s): Sherlock/John Watson
Content Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 14,505
Warnings: Graphic descriptions of murder victims, Explicit Sex

Chapter 1:

Sherlock followed the translucent ribbon down the corridor of his Mind Palace with Redbeard bounding along side. The blue-green colors of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico along Florida’s white sand beaches, the ribbon weaved down halls and upstairs to the rooms that held his memories of John. There was the tea room, jumper room, case room, blog room, and finally the girlfriend room. The last under heavy lock and key with large X painted on the door.

The ribbon led Sherlock and Redbeard to the end of the hallway to the 221B Baker Street door. The room that contained the culmination of all of Sherlock’s impressions and memories of Dr. John H. Watson, former army doctor, assistant, blogger, and friend. All the elements that made up John in his mind, except for the girlfriends, they had to stay under lock and key so as not to sully Sherlock’s psyche when he placed new images into John’s room.

Sherlock stopped in front of the door, Redbeard at his side wriggling in excitement to visit with John again. Trepidation made him hesitate as he reached down to turn the doorknob. The ribbon was pulsing with encouragement as it wove through the keyhole leading him through the door. The dog rushed into the room ahead of him straight to John who was sitting in his plaid chair with a book in hand, a cup of tea at his side and a soft smile on his face in greeting.

John. Diminutive John. Sherlock’s closest friend. The closest friend he’d ever had in his life that liked Sherlock for who he was. John, strong, patient, kind, and fun was sitting petting Sherlock’s first friend from childhood with the blue-green ribbon gently encasing his body.

Sherlock slowly opened his eyes as he left his Mind Palace. He knew what the ribbon was. It was the beginning of a bonding link with a Sentinel. Pondering why he hadn’t noticed it before now as he stared at the ceiling of the living room in 221B Baker Street he became aware of a muted tone of concern emanating from across the room.

He looked out of the corner of his eye to the source of the feeling without turning his head. The tips of his fingers dug harder into his chin from their praying position on the sofa, the ribbon was visible for a moment and led him straight to John before the vision dissipated. John was in his chair with a paper in hand rather than a book and an empty cup of tea at his side.

“Welcome back,” he said. “You’ve been in the Mind Palace for a while, you ok?”

Sherlock waved a hand dismissively and stared up at the ceiling again, “I’m fine.”

It had been three days since their standoff with Moriarty at the pool. They’d both slept long hours, once John finished scolding Sherlock for going off on his own. Finally, the fatigue that had built during the case was assuaged and Sherlock had decided a trip to his Mind Palace was in order. He needed to mull over the events and identify any additional information about Moriarty that may have been perceived in the fringe of his psyche waiting to come to light. Nothing new about the consulting criminal made itself known, but Sherlock had gotten distracted when he found the bonding link in his mind. Another visit was in order he decided, once he figured out what was going on with him and John.

Pondering on the feeling from John he concluded the concerned came from Sherlock acting out of character. He wasn’t getting bored like he usually did after a case was finished. He had a new puzzle to sort out and he’d been content to wander in his mind for hours, sleep and eat in between without his usual complaints. Now that he’d found the bonding link, it seemed as if John was completely unaware of it. It wasn’t surprising really, that John couldn’t perceive the link; he was only a partial sentinel after all. His heightened sense, sight had been useful during his time as a doctor and surgeon and was advantageous on cases on occasion when John made the effort to be more observant.

John got up and headed to the kitchen. It looked as if tea was on order again as John made a beeline for the kettle. It wouldn’t do for his flatmate to figure something was wrong with Sherlock. He needed time to muse about the bonding link some more. Perhaps an experiment would be helpful, he thought.

“Bored!” he stated startling John into dropping the half filled kettle in the sink with a clunk.

“Dammit!” John shouted and turned to glower at Sherlock. “How can you be bored? We almost died less than three days ago!”

That was better, Sherlock thought secure in the knowledge he could deflect John’s concern.

“John, the histrionics are unnecessary. You’re overreacting,” he replied in his most aggravating tone.

The kettle was dropped on the hob with a metallic clang as John stormed out of the kitchen to loom over Sherlock and the sofa with hands on his hips.

“Overreacting…I’m overreacting! I was kidnapped and strapped to ten pounds of Semtex you tit!” John’s voice got a bit shrill at the end to Sherlock’s satisfaction.

Sherlock added a little smirk, his deep voice droll with his reply, “Well…he didn’t kill us did he?”

John ran his hands through his short hair, the blond strands spiking like a porcupine in defense from a predator. He threw his hands up in the air with a shout, “Sherlock, you can’t seriously be this dismissive of what happened. Moriarty is an absolute nutter and bloody dangerous.”

“A worthy opponent,” Sherlock replied with a sniff.

John slapped a hand to his forehead and took a deep breath as if to calm himself, “You’re unbelievable.”

The kettle started to whistle before he could say more and he turned to move back into the kitchen. Happy to have averted John’s concern and replaced it with irritation, Sherlock added, “I’ll have some biscuits with my tea, thanks.”

John grumbled under his breath, but took down another mug and rummaged in the cupboard labeled, No Experiments On Pain Of Death (Or Your Sock Index Is Toast) to grab the Tim Tams.

He brought over Sherlock’s tea with a plate of biscuits. Sherlock took a sip of the brew. Just a dash of sugar perfect as always, he thought as John went to retrieve his own. Sitting down with a sigh John asked, “Anything new in the Mind Palace? Were you able to get a read on Moriarty?”

“Not much, he’s a powerful bonded guide,” he replied.

“Guide!” John exclaimed, “Who the hell would be that lunatic’s Sentinel?”

Sherlock sat up to better sip his tea and started to wriggle his toes on the coffee table. The action helped to further settle his flatmate’s concern, as Sherlock knew it would. John was so predictable. “Whoever he or she is, their mind must be as corrupt as Moriarty’s. I only got a small peek when he lost his temper,” he said.

“What did you feel?” John asked after a sip of his tea.

Sherlock hesitated for a moment to organize his thoughts, “Genius, arrogance, instability, savage madness…”

“Fuck!” John stated his mug hitting the table with a thwack as he set it down hard, tea sloshing over the sides.

“Indeed, I suppose your worry is a bit warranted, John,” he replied with a smile.

John ignored the comment, “He didn’t get into your mind did he?”

“No, for a change I was able to keep my barriers up,” Sherlock revealed.

He was a powerful Guide, but with little control over his gifts. The older he got the worse it had become much to his dismay. Sherlock could only be around a select few individuals for any length of time because of the bleed of emotions he was bombarded with on a constant basis. Mrs. Hudson was so mild mannered, loving, and pleasant of personality, Sherlock didn’t mind perceiving her emotions on a regular basis. Lestrade could be hard to take for long periods but was tolerable most of the time. Mycroft as a guide was able to keep his emotions to himself, but he irritated Sherlock when in regular contact anyway. And John was different. He was so steadying, agreeable, and fascinated by Sherlock that his continual emanations were a balm to Sherlock’s overworked mind.

John was the only one, besides Mycroft who knew Sherlock had little control over his guide gifts. Over the time they’d lived together, he eventually had an epiphany, which annoyed Sherlock to no end. Of course, it took John awhile to figure it out.

“Sherlock, he’s obsessed with you and you need to be more careful. Stop going off into danger on your own,” the serious tone caused Sherlock to look at John more closely. The concern with added worry was broadcasting along the bonding link and apparent on John’s enchanting face.

Sherlock crunched down on a biscuit enjoying the chocolate bursting over his taste buds with a pleased hum. He swallowed before he replied, “I can handle Moriarty, John.”

“Not from where I’m sitting you can’t,” he stated. “He was leading you by the nose all over London the last week.”

Affronted, “I figured it out!” he replied with a sniff.

John gave him a biting look, “Yes, well you didn’t anticipate him kidnapping me, did you? I saw the look on your face when I came out, you thought I was him for a moment.”

“I knew it wasn’t you,” Sherlock boasted and removed himself from the sofa to avoid John’s eyes as he took his mug and plate to the sink. He’d been terrified for John at the pool. A feeling he rarely experienced and wasn’t about to admit to anyone let alone John he’d been having. At the moment they looked to each other as the final decision to blow Moriarty and possibly themselves to bits occurred a steady calm of acceptance had come over his mind.

John hummed in disbelief before saying, “I’m serious Sherlock. I don’t like that he wants to play games with you.”

“You worry too much, John,” Sherlock said as he came back from the kitchen to flounce dramatically on the sofa.

“At least one of us should,” was his flatmate’s reply before letting the conversation go, as Sherlock knew he eventually would if he was annoyed enough.

To further avoid a continuation of the conversation, Sherlock said, “John, I’m still bored. Where’s your gun?”

John glanced up from his perusal of the paper to give Sherlock a long look, “Not gonna happen Sherlock. Go bother Molly at Bart’s for some toes or something. You haven’t been out of your pajamas or the flat for days.”

Toes? That sounded like a good idea, Sherlock considered. Perhaps Molly would have set aside a few other body parts for him. He was sure if she hadn’t he could woo her into giving him some to bring home.

***

“Sherlock, will you please cover that mess up?” John said as Sherlock continued to dissect the penis he’d conned Molly into giving him.

“Busy,” he said dismissively. He was very content at the moment and didn’t need John harping on him.

John replied with a long-suffering sigh, “I see you’re busy, but I don’t want Mrs. Hudson to come up here and see that crap on the table.

“She’s use to my experiments. She won’t even know what these are,” he stated.

“Mrs. Hudson was married to a crime lord and was an exotic dancer; I think she’ll recognize a cock and a pair of bollocks on her kitchen table,” John replied as he poured another cup of tea. Sherlock in a fit of whimsy thought that John would probably die without tea considering the amount the man drank on a daily basis.

Even though John was nagging him, Sherlock felt his flatmate’s contentment coming over him in waves. The bonding link was thrumming softly in the back of his mind a soothing presence that just added to Sherlock’s serenity of the moment. It was good that John’s worry had dissipated, there was little chance of him figuring out anything new was going on with Sherlock.

John took his tea back into the living room and pulled another paper into his lap. It was quiet for a time before Sherlock started to feel suspicion coming from John. He looked over and John was sitting forward in his chair with both hands on the papers. His flatmate abruptly got up to sit at the desk in front of the window and started to hunt and peck at the keyboard of his laptop with two fingers. Sherlock dismissed the feelings to return back to his dissection and contemplated starting work on one of the testicles soon.

“Sherlock?” John called, “Will you come take a look at this?”

He set aside his scalpel and removed his latex gloves before going across the room to lean over John’s shoulder. His flatmate had three windows open on the laptop with brief articles about three deaths of men from around the city.

“There are three men dead of autoerotic asphyxiation, two that were known to be homosexual and all of the deaths have occurred in the early hours of Friday mornings,” John stated as he waited for Sherlock to finish reading. It didn’t take long; there was very little information in the news pieces.

Sherlock murmured to himself as he put the data in his Mind Palace, “Deforest Blaine, 40 found in his flat in Battersea, Edward Kellogg, 37 found in his flat in Barnet…”

“And the latest death Headley Malcolm Allen II found in his flat in Kensington,” John interrupted. Sherlock stood up from his crouched position, hands automatically meeting under his chin as he pondered the implications.

John continued, “What are the odds that three men are killed by sex games within an eight week period?”

“Statistically speaking, less than one percent,” Sherlock replied.

A rising excitement was building within him as he mused on the information he had. John turned in his seat his navy blue eyes bright with elation a growing smile on his handsome face.

“Oh, this is fantastic! Yes! Wonderful,” Sherlock exclaimed bouncing to the door to grab his Belstaff and scarf. “You’ve found us a case, John!”

“Glad to be of some use to you,” was John’s rueful reply.

He could feel himself vibrating as he waited for John to get his coat, “Your occasional insights are helpful.”

“Ta, Sherlock anything to keep you from shooting the walls,” he said as they thundered down the stairs.

“John call Graham,” he ordered making it to the bottom of the stairs.

“It’s Greg, you wanker,” John replied. “Why don’t you call him?”

“Case John! It’s a serial murder case! Lestrade is probably at the crime scene right now and he’s still irritated with me from the bombing case,” Sherlock declared as Mrs. Hudson came out of her flat wearing a bright purple floral frock with highlights of red and blue flowers in a pattern around the bosom.

“Be sure to tell him not to remove the body if they haven’t yet,” he added.

“You boys on another case so soon?” she questioned.

Sherlock gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, “Serial murder Mrs. Hudson!”

“Oh, Sherlock, don’t be so delighted. Enthusiasm for your work is fine, but glee isn’t proper,” she replied. “John, see what you can do to calm him down a bit before you get there.”

John smiled at their landlady, “I’ll try, but you know how he gets.”

“Yes, yes… come along John we have a case to solve,” Sherlock urged pulling John along by the arm while his flatmate fiddled with his mobile. Sometimes John was just too sedate to abide.

John resisted Sherlock’s pulling for a moment to once more address their landlady, “Ah, Mrs. Hudson just a warning. You don’t want to look in the bowl on the kitchen table.”

“Experiment?” she questioned.

“You really don’t want to know,” he responded.

“Alright, be careful loves,” was heard as the door to 221B slammed behind them.

Chapter 2:

Sherlock flinched as a blaze of animosity rushed over his mind. Sally Donovan had caught sight of him and John coming down the hallway toward the victim’s flat. He felt the soft pressure of John’s hand on his arm as he paused to try and erect an empathic barrier to reduce the psychic bleed off from Donovan’s untrained mind. The buffer went up quickly, much to his bewilderment. He’d not been able to so easily bring up an empathic barrier since he first emerged as a guide in his early teens.

Donovan was on vigil at the door to the flat, arms crossed over her chest and frown on her pretty face. She wore subdued colors in varying shades of grays and blacks and was in sensible trousers and shoes for a change.

“I should have expected you to turn up,” she said in a biting tone. “It’s just the type of scene you like to stick your nose in, freak.”

Their contempt for one another was well known, though Sherlock didn’t hate the sergeant. He wouldn’t have had any feeling one-way or the other for her if Donovan’s jealousy and bitterness did hemorrhage all over him every time he was in her proximity. Sherlock would probably have been less offensive and disrespectful in his dealings with her if their first meeting years ago hadn’t gone so badly both empathically and personally.

He looked down his nose at her when he replied, “Sally, your PMS is showing, perhaps you need to have Anderson attempt coitus with you again. It might improve your mood.”

A gobsmacked look followed by an angry flush arose on Donovan’s face from Sherlock’s comeback. Satisfied she had no rejoinder; he swept past her through the doorway with John close behind.

She got over her shock to address John, “Still following along like a good pet? Nothing better to do than chasing the freak around while he satisfies his sick curiosity and tries to create a murder scene out of thin air?”

Sherlock turned back to the sergeant when he felt a spike of annoyance directed at Donovan come from his flatmate. As short as John was he could be intimidating when he stood at attention in his Captain Watson persona. He was giving Donovan a mild mannered look with eyebrows raised in question.

A light of mischievousness came into John’s eyes as he responded, “I suppose if you knew how to do your job, Sally I wouldn’t have to chase Sherlock all over London solving crimes for you.”

She aggressively stepped into John’s personal space looming over him. John, of course, stood his ground, not in the least intimidated, he could hold his own with Sherlock after all. “How do you know he was murdered?” she said with a growl in her voice.

Sherlock decided they’d wasted enough time with the sergeant, “If I’m right, which as you know is always. There are two other similar deaths that haven’t been connected by the dim-witted detectives at the Met.”

“Sherlock,” John chided gently still gazing calmly at Donovan’s tight face.

Sherlock replied with a sniff trying not to smile at John for the soft rebuke, “Forgive me, I meant the hard working dim-witted detectives at the Met.”

“What are you on about, Sherlock,” DI Lestrade said as he made his way over to interrupt the verbal sparring going on at the door to the flat. The man looked as tired and stressed as he always did. Up since very early this morning, not enough coffee to wake him fully, and sleeping on the sofa again, Sherlock deduced after giving the DI the once over. Sherlock thinned his empathic barrier to read Lestrade’s state of mind, which was only tired and a bit frustrated from caving to the demand to allow the consulting detective access to the scene. He easily thickened the shield around his mind to remove the receipt of emotions from the DI. Sherlock decided he would have to experiment further during the course of the investigation with this new control over his guide gifts.

“My blogger brought two other deaths to my attention this morning,” Sherlock replied. “He can be quite observant on occasion.” John just rolled his eyes at Sherlock, but there was a little smile of pleasure on his face, taking the compliment for what it was.

“What do you mean two other deaths?” Lestrade questioned.

“There have been two men who died in what the police are calling sex games in the last eight weeks, Greg,” John replied.

Sherlock added, “I believe we have a serial killer working in London at the moment. But, I’ll need to see the crime scene photographs and autopsy reports for both the earlier cases to verify my hypothesis. Let’s take a look at our current victim, shall we?”

He swept past the DI as the man stood stunned for a moment before following Sherlock’s advance into the flat. Really, Lestrade shouldn’t be surprised by Sherlock’s premise; he’d been working with the consulting detective for five years now. John gave the DI a supportive pat on the shoulder as he watched Sherlock take in the room.

The flat was part of a late nineteenth-century masonry brick building with high ceilings, large windows, and traditional pleasing millwork throughout. The décor was masculine and traditional in tones of muted greens and browns. Sherlock made his way around the room, looking through his pocket magnifier around the sofa, tables, windowsills, and along the floors. Either the victim was neat and tidy in the extreme, Sherlock speculated or the killer had cleaned up.

He moved into the kitchen to peruse the cupboards and ice box as Anderson made an appearance in the doorway to the bedroom. With his barriers up, for a change, he didn’t have to deal with perceiving Anderson’s dislike, but the sour look on his long face made his feelings about Sherlock’s presence plain.

“Nothing happened in the kitchen,” Anderson declared, the nasal tone of his voice grating to the consulting detective ears.

“Anderson, your ineptitude is showing as usual,” Sherlock replied as he pushed passed the affronted crime scene tech and into the bedroom. John and Lestrade followed to stand in the doorway while they waited for Sherlock’s assessment of the scene.

The body of the man was bound naked on the bed with wrists and ankles tied to the four corners of the bedposts. A noose was tight around his neck the end trailing off the bed and a doll—cheap, previously used and probably bought at a charity shop—was posed on top of the body with its mouth placed on top of the man’s genitals. Sherlock moved meticulously throughout the room, his deductions flying through his mind easier than ever before without the empathic bleed off from those around him. It felt so good to only have John’s mild and soft presence in his mind for a change.

Sherlock straightened up from his study of the items under the bed and on the floor around it before he addressed his blogger. “John? Your thoughts on the time of death?” he asked.

John was just placing some latex over his hands as he moved to examine the body. The doctor’s economy of movement was graceful as he manipulated the corpse’s hands; looked in its eyes with the small torch he always carried. He stretched to avoid touching the body with anything other than his hands, his jeans pulling tight across his plush buttocks. Sherlock got lost for a moment admiring the sight before he shook himself to observe John looking in the man’s nostrils.

“Greg, can you grab me a pair of tweezers, please?” he asked.

There was a rustle of movement by the door, as Lestrade retrieved the requested item from Anderson’s kit. “What do you see, John” Sherlock inquired moving closer to his blogger to see what had his attention as the tweezers were placed in John’s left hand.

Sherlock couldn’t see much beyond the back of John’s blond head as he moved from side to side to see. “This,” John said as he removed a condom from the man’s nose, success radiating from him as he found something Sherlock hadn’t yet noticed. It had been shoved deep into the nasal cavity. Lestrade had brought over an evidence bag for the item, but John didn’t seem to be finished as Sherlock moved to the opposite side of the bed to better see what his flatmate was doing.

The doctor worked to open the man’s jaw and pulled out a second condom that had been stuffed deep in the throat. “What can you tell me about the cause of death,” Sherlock asked.

“Obviously he was asphyxiated,” Anderson stated with annoyance as Lestrade handed him the evidence bags.

“Yes, but how Anderson with the noose or the condoms, John?” Sherlock said as he raised a brow at the idiotic man before turning back to is relatively intelligent friend.

John was examining the man’s neck before he stepped back to answer. “He was definitely strangled by the noose judging by the condition of his neck. The condoms were placed post mortem. He’s just coming out of rigor now, so he’s been dead about eleven hours. The poor bugger.”

“So he was killed around one this morning,” Lestrade said. “What have you got Sherlock? You’re sure this wasn’t a sex game gone wrong?”

Sherlock stood back from the bed to address his audience of four with Donovan and Anderson looking on from the doorway. “The victim is a closeted homosexual, probably a stock broker working in the City if his boring suit collection in the wardrobe is any indication,” he stated.

Donovan piped in, “How the hell can you tell he’s gay?”

“The pink band on his left wrist, obvious really,” he replied in a snooty tone he knew would aggravate her to no end. “The band is used in various gay clubs in Vauxhall to indicate when a man is comfortable taking the submissive role during intercourse or during BDSM scenes.”

“You would know that wouldn’t you,” was Anderson’s snide remark. Sherlock just let it bounce off him; he was feeling too good to let Anderson or Donovan get under his skin today.

“Oi!” John started to defend Sherlock before he put a restraining hand on his doctor’s shoulder.

“Don’t infect your self with Anderson’s stupidity by responding, John,” he said.

“Sherlock,” Lestrade sighed. “What do you know about the murderer?”

It was pleasing to see Anderson’s homely face flush with embarrassment. Satisfied, Sherlock continued his deductions, “You’re looking for a heterosexual man in his thirties to early forties, who is unemployed or employed as an unskilled laborer and who is allergic to cats.”

Anderson cut in again, “What do you mean heterosexual? If the victim were gay the murderer would be gay too. It’s obvious they were playing a sex game!”

“Of course, that is all you would see Anderson,” Sherlock returned. “There’s no evidence of sexual assault on the body or remnants of sex having occurred at all beyond the fact the victim is bound and naked.”

Lestrade cut in before the argument could get further out of hand, “How can you tell he’s allergic to cats?”

“There’s an analgesic on the floor next to the bed, which Anderson and his team missed,” Sherlock replied pointing to the evidence.

“That doesn’t mean the killer is allergic to cats, Sherlock,” John stated. Sherlock felt his lips curl, as he perceived the humor in John’s expression eyebrows raised, lips trembling to stop a smile, eyes bright with amusement. He preened a bit under that gaze.

“Our victim is a cat owner, based on the cat toys under the bed, the hairs amongst the bedclothes, and the fact there is a large orange tabby waiting to come in from the fire escape,” Sherlock asserted.

Eight pairs of eyes turned to the window. The fluffy orange well-fed feline was patiently waiting for someone to notice it.

“Fantastic!” John exclaimed.

“Well, yes,” Sherlock returned with a smile before addressing Lestrade. “You may want to call the RSPCA to catch him; he’ll need a new home now.”

Lestrade was shaking his head in frustration, “Anderson! Are you pissed? How could you miss all that?”

Anderson’s mouth was hanging open completely speechless, much to Sherlock’s delight. He moved with John back into the living room avoiding brushing against Donovan on the way. He bumped into John’s warm back as his flatmate stopped abruptly facing the window.

“What is it, John,” Sherlock said softly into his blogger’s ear. John was totally focused on what ever he could see with his advanced sight still as a statue until he surged forward to the window.

“Sherlock, there’s a fingerprint on this window,” he said.

Brilliant! Sherlock made a beeline over to take a look through his magnifying glass. It was a very clear print on the white windowsill, hard to see if you weren’t a Sentinel.

“Hmmm, it may be the victim’s but if not we may get a lead on our killer,” he rumbled softly for John’s ears only. Calling out to the DI, “Lestrade, you may want to have Anderson lift this print if he can do it without botching it.”

“Christ, Anderson!” Lestrade growled at this tech. “Go over this place again and be thorough about it!

Stalking over he addressed his last question to Sherlock, “What I want to know, is how could the killer get out and away without any of the neighbors seeing him?”

“The killer stayed through the night then left during the morning commute to blend in with the crowd,” Sherlock stated.

Lestrade pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, “How can you possibly know that?”

John had an admiring look on his face, just waiting for the finale to Sherlock’s show. Standing at attention, latex gloves in hand waiting for disposal, the full force of John’s curiosity and charm were fixed on Sherlock. It was gratifying.

Sherlock took a deep breath before articulating his final deductions, “Look around you, the murderer stayed all night. There are fresh dents in the sofa cushions; the telly remote is not in the basket on the side table, but in the cushions. The milk in the fridge is half-full, but judging from the date was bought yesterday. Unless the victim had children, which he obviously didn’t the milk would still be mostly full. Our killer stayed to clean up, had multiple cups of tea, and watched telly for most of the night.”

“Incredible!” John chirped.

Chapter 3:

It was late-afternoon at the Met by the time Sherlock with John and Lestrade had finished going through most of the evidence from the first two murders. A steady stream of tea and coffee had been provided as the hours slowly dragged on. John had insisted Sherlock eat some lunch, interrupting his classifying of the evidence. Sherlock was delighted with John at the moment, so placated his doctor by taking a few bites of a sandwich that had been shoved under his nose. It wouldn’t do for John to be distracted by worry for Sherlock’s health, he reflected.

“Sherlock?” John interrupted his train of thought. “Why do you think the murderer is unemployed or poor?”

He smiled at John for the question; his blogger had finally cottoned on to that little deduction from the crime scene. “There was cash and a bank card missing from the victim’s wallet in the hallway. If the killer had a comfortable income, there would have been no need to steal from his victim.”

“The neighbor’s statements do say the first two victims liked to hit the Voho clubs on Thursday nights,” John said more to himself than Sherlock. “I wonder if he picks gay men because they’d be more inclined to go home with a stranger?”

“I still think the killer could be gay himself,” Lestrade replied.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and huffed at the DI’s assessment. “Gay men are easy targets, willing to take a stranger home after spending time with them in the clubs. Men who are part of the submissive spectrum of the BDSM lifestyle are also more willing to allow themselves to be bound, Lestrade,” Sherlock voiced to get the DI off that tangent. It distracted from the circumstances of the case and would be the wrong path to pursue.

“The three cases you’ve identified are definitely related,” Lestrade said. “The murderer spaced his victims so far apart around the city, we just didn’t see it.”

“He’s smart enough not to want to get caught, so the distance between the crimes is extensive,” Sherlock agreed. “The murderer wants recognition though.”

Lestrade gave Sherlock a questioning look and he couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Lestrade was smarter than this; perhaps fatigue from sleeping on the sofa for consecutive nights explained the DI’s inattention. “Look at these crime scenes,” Sherlock challenged pulling together photographs of the three victims to spread on the table in front of the DI and John.

“He’s done everything but connect the dots for the police that these three crimes are connected!” he declared. John stood over the photographs studying them intently for a few moments.

“The first victim, Deforest Blaine a 40-year-old dancer was found in his flat in Battersea tied to the bed naked, beaten and whipped. Then he was suffocated with a plastic bag,” John mused. “He put condoms in the nose and mouth of the victim.”

“Yes, John look at the second victim, Edward Kellogg a librarian found in his flat in Barnet bound and gagged in a leather bondage harness and strangled with a belt,” Sherlock said. John was studying the autopsy report for Edward Kellogg and looked abruptly at Sherlock blue eyes vivid with knowledge.

“You see it too,” Sherlock stated with an appeased tone feeling a smile start to curve upward at the corner of his mouth. His friend wasn’t as quick as Sherlock and never would be, but he was an intelligent man.

“See what?” Lestrade said pulling the report from John’s fingers.

John replied, “Condoms in the nose and mouth.”

“Shit!” Lestrade muttered.

“There’s been very little reporting in the press on these murders. They were buried so deeply in the tabloids it is a wonder John remembered the first two at all. Of course, the police have been entirely incompetent on this one,” Sherlock needled.

They started to gather all of the files back together. Sherlock was debating going over them one more time, but he was sure he hadn’t missed anything. He needed to put together a plan to catch the killer that may involve taking himself and John outside their comfort zone. The only witness statements the Met had gathered were from the victim’s neighbors; there were absolutely none from any close relatives, friends, or acquaintances. It was criminal.

John was standing unnaturally still when Sherlock sensed a rising anger in the back of his mind. The bond link was pulsing with John’s agitation, his friend becoming cherry red in the face as outrage widened his eyes and increased his breaths. Lestrade finally noticed John’s posture as his back became straight as a board with shoulders back at attention. The DI stilled as if he too could feel the danger of John’s temper in the air.

“Right, that’s it!” John burst out before storming through the door to the Met’s bullpen. Sherlock followed close behind before stopping at the periphery of the room to watch John advanced on Donovan and Anderson who were laughing over the content of some files in their hands.

The smiles slowly left their faces when they saw John stalking toward them like a predator bringing down its prey. “Oi! You two! Show some fucking respect for the dead!” John shouted as he rounded on them. Donovan and Anderson, blood drained from their faces, mouths open wide enough to catch flies. Sherlock decided to just stand by and watch the Captain Watson show. It was a thing of beauty in Sherlock’s mind.

Lestrade was hot on John’s heels, “John! What are you on about?”

“Lestrade,” John growled, which sent a shiver up Sherlock’s spine. “You need to get better control over your officers. They are out here disparaging the victims. Their complete lack of respect and understanding about the sub-culture or gay community is going to hinder your investigation.”

Donovan’s voice was shrill as she cut in, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about sir!”

“I could hear you, you spiteful bitch!” John bellowed.

His John. John who rarely swore or lost his temper was a thing to behold. Chest heaving, eyes blazing in defense of the underdog was one of the most beautiful things Sherlock had ever seen. He acknowledged occasionally to himself that John was an attractive man and that perhaps he had been a bit hasty at Angelo’s when he discouraged the doctor’s sexual interest. It was at times like these when John’s natural charisma became even more luminous than normal that Sherlock truly questioned his certainty that a romantic relationship with John was impossible.

“You heard what they were saying from fifty meters away behind a closed door?” Lestrade asked in shock.

Shock was written on everyone’s faces including John’s as he realized what Lestrade had just said.

“As you know, Lestrade, John is a Sentinel,” Sherlock replied.

Lestrade had a confused look on his face when he said, “Yes… but I didn’t think he was a full Sentinel.”

John never really discussed his sentinel abilities with anyone, other than Sherlock of course. So, Lestrade’s confusion was understandable, Sherlock supposed. It wouldn’t do for the Met to know everything about his blogger’s gifts or his for that matter.

Sherlock cut in when it looked like John was going to admit he was only a partial sentinel, “Well, I’m sure John has his reasons for not sharing.”

Sherlock gave John a little shake of his head to keep him quiet. It would be better for John to discuss this new ability in private with just Sherlock. Sentinels and guides made up only a small portion of the population and were steeped in mystery among the masses. The genes ran in families and gifts were historically not discussed with outsiders. Though science in the last hundred years had brought some knowledge about them out in the open.

“Regardless,” John said. “Donovan and Anderson giggling over the crime scene photos and saying that the little perverts probably enjoyed it until the end, is completely inappropriate. It’s no wonder no one in the gay community will talk to the police!”

Donovan was looking mulish; however, Anderson had a look of shame on his face, as he couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes. The silence in the bullpen was heavy when John finished.

Lestrade’s face was flushed with anger and embarrassment before he burst out with, “Anderson, Donovan my office now!”

The doctor breathed deeply for a moment to get control over his temper. Sherlock relaxed when he felt John let his anger go. The bonding link calmed with a final ripple in the back of his consciousness.

****

To: The Queen
Need CCTV footage for 14 Nov Battersea Park Station, 12 Dec High Barnet, 9 Jan Gloucester Road. SH

“Who’d you text?” John asked.

“Mycroft for the CCTV footage of the mornings of the murders,” Sherlock replied.

His flatmate was pensive in the cab headed back to Baker Street. John’s question the first he’d spoken since they left the Met. John’s steady presence in his mind and by his side was clear, the bonding link discernable. Sherlock’s guide gifts were stronger than they had ever been and John now had a new enhanced sense. The correlation of these new abilities to the touch of the bonding link between their minds was obvious. Fortunately, John still didn’t seem to sense the bond and Sherlock for once in his life was uncertain. He could predict how John would react to many things, though his friend still managed to surprise him on a regular basis. Now, Sherlock didn’t have a clue if John would react favorably to being bonded with this flatmate.

***

Mycroft was sitting in Sherlock’s chair dapper as always in a light brown bespoke suit and umbrella at this side when he and John entered the flat. He should’ve expected his brother to make an appearance after the text he’d sent. Being the little brother of Mycroft Holmes was suffocating at times; he was always sticking his nose into Sherlock’s business and life.

He gave his brother a stoic look receiving a haughty raised eyebrow and smirk in return. “Mycroft, what are you doing here?” the tone showing his immediate aggravation with his sibling.

“You asked for CCTV footage brother dear,” Mycroft replied.

Sherlock huffed, “You could’ve sent one of your minions over with the footage. There’s no need to grace us with your presence.”

“Just checking on you, Sherlock,” Mycroft replied.

“Cup of tea, Mycroft?” John cut in before Sherlock could protest his sibling’s existence in the flat.

“He’s not staying!” Sherlock voiced throwing his Belstaff and scarf over the end of the sofa before flopping in a snit on the cushions to further show his displeasure.

“I’d love some, John,” Mycroft replied ignoring his brother’s theatrics. “Thank you.”

John made his way into the kitchen with a smile, his face full of humor engaged by Sherlock’s antics. Sherlock didn’t even attempt to get an empathic read on his brother. Mycroft was a powerful guide and even though he was unbonded, had full control of his gifts. There was no point; he would only end up in Sherlock’s head anyway. The only thing he could do is ignore Mycroft and hope he would go away as soon as possible. Though he only ever did when he’d had his say about whatever it was he was concerned about.

John came back with the tea—on a tray no less—interrupting the silence resulting from Sherlock’s sulking. He handed off a cup to Mycroft including one of Sherlock’s Tim Tams—it was a tragedy in Sherlock’s opinion—before being appeased with a cup of his own with two Tim Tams. John knew him so well.

Sitting down with his own cup, John said, “Thank you, Mycroft for bringing the footage. I’m sure it’ll be helpful to the case.”

“John?” Sherlock disrupted the banal acknowledgment. “You’ll want to get cleaned up and changed.”

“What? Why?” he asked in confusion setting his cup back on the saucer in his hand.

“We’re going clubbing tonight,” Sherlock replied.

John rolled his eyes to the ceiling as if asking for patience improving Sherlock’s mood to a small extent, “I take it we’ll be hitting the gay clubs in Voho?”

“Oh yes, there are witnesses to interview and if we’re lucky we may be able to get a lead on a possible suspect,” Sherlock stated.

John had just finished his tea when Sherlock ordered, “Get dressed.”

With a long-suffering sigh, John pushed out of his chair, nodded to Mycroft, and started to head up the stairs to his room. “I guess I’ll take a shower and get ready then,” he said.

“And no jumpers!” Sherlock called after him. He only heard John muttering under his breath on the way up the stairs, but couldn’t make out the words.

“I see congratulations are in order,” Mycroft said softly.

“Shhhhh!” Sherlock replied sitting up and waving his hands. The silence continued as John made his way back down the stairs, robe in hand to the bath. The shower turned on a few moments later. Mycroft pulled a handheld white noise generator out of his suit pocket and turned it on. Sherlock could only hope that between the shower and the generator John wouldn’t be able to hear their conversation. A conversation he was going to be unable to avoid if Mycroft’s backside glued to Sherlock’s chair was any indication.

“When are you going to tell him?” Mycroft inquired with a knowing timbre.

Sherlock grimaced, “Not now, Mycroft. I’m on a case.”

“And after? He’ll eventually find the bond. You can’t avoid discussing it forever,” Mycroft said.

“I know,” Sherlock replied.

If John was happy about the bond, there was also the messy question of whether they would develop a romantic and sexual relationship. It was perhaps too soon for Sherlock to worry about it, but he’d never been successful in having a romantic attachment of any kind. Sex was also hit or miss for him with his empathy out of control. Being overwhelmed by a partner’s emotions while engaged in coitus had been unbearable in the past unless he was mindless on cocaine. Sherlock knew that if he had a chance to be with John in that way, he would take it and try to make a relationship between them work. At least he would have John’s full attention all of the time and the girlfriend problem would go away.

Mycroft added, “Did I not tell you that bonding would balance your guide gifts?”

“Yes, yes… it’s my problem and I don’t need you sticking your long nose into it!” he erupted as he bounded off the sofa and down the hall to his room. Hopefully, Mycroft would get the message and leave before Sherlock needed to come out again.

Sherlock didn’t want to give up John for anything; he was the best friend, the only friend really that he ever had. The bonding link allowed him to control his empathy, but he would rather lose it than lose John from his life. Either way, if John found out about the bond it was a sticky situation and would change their friendship.

If John, wanted to sever the bond, Sherlock could only hope they could still remain friends.

Chapter 4:

Sherlock assessed himself in the full-length mirror in his bedroom. He was going for chic casual tonight the abnormally tight skinny jeans had taken some effort to get into paired with a slim black belt and white button down open at the throat. A dark purple waistcoat hugged his willowy figure enhancing the rounded curves of his diminutive buttocks and sharp hipbones. He completed the look with a pair of black Converse trainers and tamed his dark curls back off his long forehead. He wasn’t quite sure where his mobile phone was going to go, there was barely any room in his pockets for even his identification and a few quid. He’d make John carry it, he decided.

The Belstaff would have to stay home tonight, he considered. It was too recognizable. The outfit paired with the new style of his hair disguised him nicely. He pulled a lightweight hip length gray wool coat out of his wardrobe and headed out to the living room with it over his arm.

“John! You ready,” he called up the stairs. Mycroft had gotten the message and had left not long after Sherlock had hid—he wasn’t hiding, just avoiding his nosy sibling—in his bedroom. John had been in his room for an extraordinarily long time, considering his size and lack of options in his wardrobe. It was just going on ten; the clubs would start to fill up by the time they got to Vauxhall Cross.

“Coming, hold on,” John’s yell was accompanied by clomping down the stairs.

It was absolutely criminal, Sherlock thought. His blogger was too hot to be allowed out. Sherlock had butterflies in this stomach and a tightening in his groin developed as he studied John’s choice of dress for the night. Unlike his usual old man checked button downs with jumper and jeans he usually chose for a date with the many girlfriends, his blogger was an alluring combination of adorable and luscious in his apparel for the evening. Sherlock’s cock was going to be damaged if his jeans got any tighter from the rising lust he was feeling for his Sentinel.

Obviously, John had been holding out on him or he’d gone shopping recently and Sherlock hadn’t been up to his room to snoop out the new additions to his wardrobe. If John didn’t have such strong affections for his jumper’s, Sherlock would have experimented on them with fire and acid long before now.

John looked delicious in light well-worn jeans that hugged his sturdy thighs with heavy coffee colored boots. A gray-blue long sleeved Henley hugged his strong frame enhancing the muscles of his arms and chest sloping down to hug his lean hips. The buttons of the shirt were open at the throat, the jut and soft skin of his kissable collarbones on display. It was a rugged look with the addition of his five-o-clock shadow and short blond hairs disheveled rather than combed straight and tidy as usual.

Sherlock got a glimpse of a thick soft brown belt as John lifted his shirt to holster his gun at the small of his back. As if John couldn’t be sexier, Sherlock reckoned. The addition of the gun and holster bulge over his exquisite buttocks almost put him over the edge. He had to ruthlessly tramp down his arousal or he felt he was likely going to call off the case to take his flatmate to bed instead.

“Whoo hoo! Oh, don’t you boys look like a right fine pair,” Mrs. Hudson said with a tray of tea in her hands and a smile on her face.

John’s face lightened when he spotted the tea, “Ta, Mrs. Husdon. I was just thinking I could use a cup before heading out.”

John did a double take when he caught sight of Sherlock standing in front of the fireplace. Arousal darkened John’s blue eyes as he stared, a pulse of lust vibrated along the bond from his friend. Sherlock was pleased to receive it, relieved that John found him attractive still.

“Sherlock are you sure you can breathe in those trousers?” he said eyes running up and down Sherlock’s body. He’d feel naked if his is jeans weren’t so bloody tight.

Setting the tray on the coffee table, Mrs. Hudson said, “John you’ll need to keep an eye on Sherlock tonight. He’s liable to be pestered wearing that!”

“I will, I have to have an eye on him all of the time. He’s a trouble magnet,” humor alight in John’s face as he replied. He gratefully accepted a cup of tea from their landlady.

“John, hyperbole doesn’t suit you. Besides, you’ll be posing as my boyfriend. It’ll keep away the more aggressive bunch at the clubs,” Sherlock rolled his eyes to cover up the pleasure he got from John’s response.

“Not in that outfit, Sherlock!” his landlady cut in laughing as she handed him a cup of tea from the tray. “Are you sure those trousers aren’t going to split at the seams? They’re so tight you might have trouble sitting down!”

John had an adorable look of confusion on his face teacup halted halfway up to his mouth when he asked, “And when did you say anything about posing as boyfriends?”

“Oh, you must’ve been in the shower. It’s not my fault you weren’t listening to the plan,” Sherlock said with a dismissive huff then took a sip of his tea.

“I’m listening now you git!” John replied. “What’s the plan?”

“We’re going to hit the clubs and see if we can find some witnesses and ideally our killer. You’ll be my boyfriend looking to share his receptive partner. Hopefully, something will turn up,” Sherlock’s reply caused a shell-shocked look to cross over John’s face. Really, he loved John, but sometimes his blogger could be a bit slow.

His mobile gave a buzz on the desk. Sherlock hurried over to retrieve it, while John continued to look nonplused as he finished his tea. “Oh good, Lestrade got a match on the print you found and we have a face and a name to go with it. Emerson Edward Strickland, age 35 lives in Southend-on-Sea, unemployed,” he said.

John came over to take a look, his body a band of heat along Sherlock’s side. Strickland was a good looking man, with light blond hair and blue eyes set in a structured face with a strong jaw. It was no wonder he’d been able to take men home easily, Sherlock thought. He had the kind of face people would trust and was attractive to boot.

“John, check the email and print out a couple of pictures to bring with us,” Sherlock ordered and started to text, his fingers a blur over his mobile. “Oh, and also get a picture of Allen the last victim as well. I’ll get the homeless network to keep an eye out for Strickland. They’ll let us know if they spot him.”

John’s hunt and peck typing technique were soon followed by the whir of the printer. Mrs. Hudson was looking over John’s shoulder when she said, “He’s a big one! You boys need to be careful, he looks like he could crush you both with one hand.”

John handed Sherlock the printout on Strickland. Their suspect was two meters tall with a number of ASBOS, arrests, and convictions for housebreaking in his youth. He’d not had any run ins with the Met over the last five years.

“It’ll be fine Mrs. Hudson,” John said. His eyes serious on Sherlock as he got up to put a lightweight leather jacket on, placing a copy of Strickland’s picture in the interior pocket.

****

The club was noisy with deep bass tones that swelled in regular pulses through the body. Swirling lights washed over the heaving masses of the crowd. Crave, the third club he and John had been to that evening was located under the railway arches underneath the main line out of Waterloo Station. Sherlock had received a text from Nonsense Nora of his homeless network; she’d spotted Strickland going into the club thirty minutes before. He put a note into his Mind Palace to find her later with payment for the information.

The loud music and lights of the clubs had been difficult on John at first. Sherlock had had a burning need to extend his empathic barriers over John but had refrained. There was no way John wouldn’t have felt the buffer of Sherlock’s empathy if he had done so. It had taken John about fifteen minutes to reduce the input from the lights and noise at the first club. He’d been successful in controlling his senses since then, which made him all the more attractive to Sherlock.

At the door, Sherlock picked up two wristbands placing the pink one on his left wrist. “John put this on,” he said shoving a black one in John’s hands.

John did as he was told before saying, “You’re going to wear a pink one? Going to be that obvious, huh?”

“Yes, hold my hand as we go in,” Sherlock stated grabbing John’s warm hand and pulling him along.

John resisted a bit, “You know if you’re supposed to be the submissive, dragging your Dom around by the arm is a bit odd.”

He stopped pulling abruptly, John bumping into his back from the sudden stop of momentum. “Of course, you’re right. Lead the way,” he replied.

As John gently pulled Sherlock into the club proper he realized he was still irritated by the twink who had chatted up John at the last club. His patience was wearing thin as many men had been eyeing John all evening. And of course, John had no idea his charm and charisma showed so brightly amongst the crowd. Added to that the sexy clothes and his inviting smile, amorous hopefuls kept flocking to John’s side. Sherlock didn’t like it at all. The only consolation he had was they had found a few witnesses at the previous club that had seen Allen and Strickland together the night of the murder. They had some names for Lestrade and his bunch to follow up on.

Sherlock’s distraction and irritation had nipped a few ardent suitors intentions in the bud. He knew he looked good, particularly based on John’s continual perusal of his backside and his protectiveness. He’d kept a constant eye on Sherlock throughout the evening, not letting his flatmate out of his sight. It was bothersome and pleasant at the same time. Sherlock was trying to keep his sentiment about John in the back of his mind, but it kept coming forward as the evening progressed distracting him from the case.

He followed John to the bar perusing the crowd while he waited for his blogger to get them a couple of pints. The crowd was so thick in the club it was going to be difficult to spot Strickland if he was still here. He glanced at John to see what was taking so long and got distracted by the plush buttocks of his flatmate on display as he leaned over the bar. The man was just asking for someone to chat him up, Sherlock thought with a frown. John’s leather jacket settled at the top of his buttocks an added invitation, just hiding the gun holstered in the small of his back.

John finally got done and turned to hand Sherlock a pint. “The bartender knows Strickland. He’s a regular and he saw him here last night leaving with Headley Allen,” he said taking a sip of his brew.

“Wonderful, Lestrade has a witness. Did you enjoy being chatted up?” Sherlock challenged.

John looked surprised for a moment, “He wasn’t… Sherlock, are you jealous?” A slow sweet smile was starting to curve upward on his endearing face.

“Of course not John, don’t be ridiculous,” Sherlock sputtered and tried to cover up his discomfort by taking a sip of his pint avoiding John’s eyes. He could feel his face flush and was glad that the club was fairly dark in between the fluorescent flash of the lights.

They moved slowly through the crowd on the periphery of the dance floor. A large hand squeezed Sherlock’s bottom, but John took care of the rogue by bending back the arse’s fingers to the point they would break. Apologies were met with a stony look from John and a nod of his head to move the fellow along. Sherlock couldn’t keep the small smile of satisfaction off his face, though he tried not to let John see it. It wouldn’t do for John to realize his possessiveness pleased Sherlock, it would only encourage smothering behavior in the future.

John placed a hand on his arm to murmur in his ear, “Sherlock? There’s our bloke, at the back wall near the hallway to the loos.”

It was indeed Strickland with a possessive hand on a smaller man with dark hair not much older than Sherlock’s 32 years. The couple was laughing, words mouthed in each other’s ears to be heard over the din of the club. Strickland cut a dashing figure in a black button down shirt coupled with dark trousers. A black wristband was on display on his right wrist wrapped around the other man. He was taller than Sherlock and broad in the shoulders.

“Let’s get closer, but be subtle about it,” Sherlock placed the words in John’s ears.

John replied, “There’s nothing subtle about you in that outfit, Sherlock! He’s definitely going to spot you.”

“We can only hope,” Sherlock said. “He won’t spot you though, John.”

Sherlock set his pint aside to remove his coat to better show off his figure. “Hold this John,” he ordered. John just rolled his eyes and set aside his own beer to take Sherlock’s offering.

“Fine! But be careful you wanker,” he said in return.

Sherlock moved slowly but with purpose through the crowd, John keeping pace a few feet behind. He kept his eyes on his target, pushing aside the few individuals who were in his way. Strickland met his eyes as the music changed, then stiffened in surprise before pushing his partner away. He turned to sprint down the hallway next to him.

“Damn! He recognized me,” he shouted behind. “John! He’s going out the back, come on!”

He pelted through the crowd and down the dim hallway that led past the restrooms to an emergency exit that was just closing behind Strickland. He burst into the alleyway behind the building with John close behind and around a fragrant skip to follow Strickland down the street. Sherlock heard John swear about the smell, but it didn’t slow his Sentinel down. Pounding feet were close behind as they pursued their murderer down foggy streets and alleyways. The man was incredibly fast. They were just able to keep him in sight.

John shouted, “He’s on the bridge, Sherlock!”

They lost a bit of ground dodging cars to get on the pedestrian sidewalk on the Vauxhall Cross Bridge. Strickland made it to the end and continued down the main street before he ducked into an alley. It took them a few moments to reach the place they’d last seen the man. They ran down the narrow lane until it branched off in four places.

“Aarrrg!” Sherlock shouted his hands went into his hair to tug in frustration. “We lost him.”

John came along side breathing deeply to get his breath back as they stood among the debris in the lane. Sherlock only started to notice the cold as his breathing slowed down. John wordlessly handed over the coat he was still carrying for Sherlock to put on. He couldn’t still himself, adrenalin still running high as he paced in circles around his flatmate. His failure at the forefront in his mind.

A spike of surprise vibrated through the bond. Sherlock stilled his pacing as he took in the sight of John breathing deeply through his nose. His eyes were closed in concentration before he opened them to move to the openings of the four off shoots of the lane. John moved with purpose to the opening of each, dismissing them one by one before he came to the third. He stilled for a second taking in the air before turning to Sherlock with a manic grin.

“No we didn’t,” he said. “This way, Sherlock.” Then he pelted down the alley he’d chosen.

The bond throbbed with excitement and success. Sherlock could only follow on John’s heels. It was a new experience for him, but his frustration waned as he followed his Sentinel’s lead. At each junction, John would pause for no more than a few seconds before continuing to follow Strickland’s scent like a bloody bloodhound. It was astonishing; John cut a formidable figure as he continued the pursuit.

“Sherlock, he’s headed to the tube!” John called over his shoulder. They ducked into Victoria Station running around the few passengers still out so late. Jumping the ticket counters they continued through the station at a quick pace. John’s momentum didn’t slow as they approached the steps to go down to the platform. He leaped into the air and set his bottom down on the stair rails to slide quickly all the way down to the bottom shouting for people to get out of the way as he went. It was a magnificent sight as Sherlock followed pelting down the steps as fast as he was able.

“Emerson Strickland, stop right there!” John shouted as Sherlock reached the bottom.

Strickland was running down the platform, shoving the few late night tube riders out of his way. John closed in on their prey and performed a running rugby tackle bringing the big man down hard on the concrete with a loud smack. John surged up the big man’s back immobilizing him with his left arm on his neck, his right hand had a tight grip on Strickland’s wrist and John’s left knee was holding the final hand of his prey down.

“Sherlock, get the zip ties out of my right jacket pocket,” he said as Sherlock finished his sprint across the platform.

Together they got Strickland’s hands and ankles restrained leaving him to curse and squirm on the floor. Breathing heavily they both looked at each other and started laughing, the chase finished. John’s high-pitched giggling egged on Sherlock’s lower tones.

John was so radiant; eye’s incandescent with humor and friendship. Sherlock couldn’t help but capture his Sentinel’s cheeks in his hands to kiss the giggles from his lips. The bond a torrent of affection and devotion thrumming between their minds.

Chapter 5:

The fire added a cheery background to the warmth of the lounge room of 221B Baker Street when they finally returned home. It was still dark in the wee hours of the morning. Mrs. Hudson must have started the gas fire before she’d gone to bed, Sherlock thought. He threw his wool coat onto the sofa before sinking down into his leather chair. John had been quiet and contemplative on the ride home. The bonding link silent but tranquil in Sherlock’s mind, it didn’t seem as if John was angered by the kiss. His Sentinel must have felt the bonding link by now. Sherlock’s only comfort at the moment was the way John had melted into the kiss, returning it with arms wrapped around Sherlock’s shoulders to pull him closer.

The constables that had come running down to the platform had interrupted their snogging session with Strickland still squirming at their feet. An explanation and call to Lestrade had been required and preliminary statements taken as Strickland was formally taken into custody. They were scheduled to go into the Met later in the day to complete the paperwork for their formal statements.

Sherlock’s reverie was interrupted by the shaking of ice cubes in a glass filled to the brim with the amber liquid. Taking the glass from John’s small hand, he took a fortifying sip of scotch as his friend sat down across from him with his own glass in hand. The firelight glinted off the blond strands of John’s hair and his blue eyes were trained on Sherlock with a quizzically raised eyebrow.

“You want to tell me what’s going on, Sherlock?” he said. His voice was soft and steady when he asked the question.

Sherlock took another gulp of his drink before he replied, “We seem to have developed a bond, John.”

“Bond! When did that happen?” surprise colored his voice. He set his drink down to lean forward toward Sherlock with his elbows on his knees, blue eyes almost black in the firelight.

Sherlock gathered his thoughts for a moment before he uttered his conclusions, “I noticed it not long after the bombing case. I can only surmise that it occurred during our meeting with Moriarty at the pool. Your emotions were intense.”

“Of course they were intense you arse,” John said with a small smile, his expression playful. “I was strapped with a bloody bomb! Anyway, you weren’t composed either at the time.”

Sherlock replied his voice droll relieved John was taking the news so well, “You’re stating the obvious, John.”

They were quiet for a time immersed in their own thoughts as they finished their drinks. Sherlock didn’t know how to proceed with John now that he knew. The fear he would lose John was somewhat assuaged by his flatmate’s humor and calm over the knowledge. The bond was a pleasant thrum in his mind and he could only assume that John finally felt it too.

“Sherlock, are my sentinel abilities emerging because of the bond?” John said his gaze serious on Sherlock.

“I believe so, John,” Sherlock replied hating the hesitance in his voice. He cleared his throat, tone more assertive as he continued, “The correlation between the development of the bonding link and you’re senses is irrefutable.”

His Sentinel relaxed back in his seat, legs crossed hands on his lap. Sherlock had expected anger and wails of despair, not this calm acceptance. It was surprising, vexing really and made him unsure of himself.

John’s head was cocked in question, “Well, what are we going to do about it?”

Sherlock fiddled with his glass for a moment before setting it aside. John had a slow smile of delight start to cross his face at Sherlock’s discomfort. He fidgeted and shifted in his chair as the silence grew between them and John’s amusement at Sherlock’s expense grew.

Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and huffed out, “If you’re amenable I would like to keep it. It helps me control my empathy.”

“Really? That’s the only reason?” John said. His continued indulgence to levity at Sherlock’s situation was irritating.

“I’m not good at talking about feelings, John,” he replied in an aggravated tone.

“Sentiment,” John acknowledged. “I know you, Sherlock. I’m not good at it either.”

“Don’t interrupt, I need to get this out,” Sherlock cut in. His mind was whirling with thoughts and feelings for his friend. What he said next would either break or make their future together as sentinel and guide and possibly lovers as well.

“You’re by best and closest friend and I don’t want to lose you,” he said. “Also, I find you reasonably attractive.”

That indulgent smile widened before John needled Sherlock, “That kiss you planted on me at the tube, says you think I’m more than reasonably attractive, Sherlock.”

“Well, yes… for some one so short of stature…” Sherlock said, exasperated.

“Sherlock…” John scolded.

He burst out, “Ok, fine! I find you very attractive intellectually and physically. Happy?” Sherlock couldn’t help but wave his hands in the air in a fit of pique at John.

“Very, I’ve wanted you since we met,” John responded a please pulse of happiness burst along the bonding link. “And even though you can be a pain in the arse, I love you more than anyone or anything.”

“Oh, well that’s good. Yes, good. I love you too,” Sherlock said a bit of confusion in his voice. He was surprised he’d admitted the love bit, but the happy feelings he was receiving from John through the bond obviously hindered his internal filter where his Sentinel was concerned. He was probably going to start spouting loving nonsense on a regular basis in the future. It was going to be a nightmare. Mycroft could never know. The needling from the smarmy bastard would be epic.

Sherlock slapped his hands down on the arms of his chair, “Now that we have that sorted. How do you want our relationship to proceed?” he asked. “Do you want a platonic bond or are you amenable to a physical relationship?”

“Sherlock, do you have potatoes in your ears? What part of ‘I’ve wanted you since we met,’ didn’t you understand,” John replied that fond smile still on his face.

“Oh, OH!” he burst out as John’s meaning became clear.

John laughed, “Yes, oh you git.”

He avoided John’s eyes for a long moment before saying, “John, you should know I’ve never had a successful romantic attachment to anyone before.”

“You’ve never…” John questioned the smile was finally gone from his face.

It occurred to Sherlock that John was asking if he’d ever had sex before. “It’s been awhile, but I have had intercourse before, John,” he said frowning. Really, he was thirty-two years old, how could John think he was that inexperienced.

“Oh, good so…” was John’s leading reply.

“Well, it wasn’t entirely pleasant,” Sherlock huffed. “Between my empathy and the cocaine it was an unmitigated disaster.” He could feel the flush of embarrassment color his face at his admission. John seemed to be able to get all kinds of secrets out of Sherlock. It was definitely going to become a problem if he couldn’t get control of his mind to mouth filter back.

“Do you want a physical relationship, Sherlock?” John’s question lingered in the air.

Sherlock knew with the bond that he would no longer be able to tolerate John’s dating or having a sexual relationship with anyone else. A platonic bond was out of the question if he wanted to keep John by his side. And if he were honest with himself, it would be nice to have a sexual relationship with John. His transport could use the release, he was attracted to his flatmate, and John was the only person he’d ever been able to tolerate in his physical and mental space. Hopefully, an intimate relationship with his Sentinel wouldn’t overwhelm him too much or take up too much of his valuable cognitive abilities.

“I do…” Sherlock’s reply trailed off for a moment. “I’m not sure if my empathy would overpower my physical responses though.”

John was smiling that indulgent smile again at Sherlock. It was gratifying and irritating at the same time. His Sentinel was still dressed in his clubbing outfit, all except the heavy boots and leather jacket. He was sexy and masculine to Sherlock’s eyes even with that silly smile on his face.

“Why don’t we take it slow and start with imprinting my senses on you and you can tell me if it becomes too much,” he said rising from his chair to stand between Sherlock’s legs.

Sherlock sat up in his chair arms on the sides to prepare himself for John’s next move. His Sentinel leaned down to cup his cheeks with his small hands and softly pressed his lips to Sherlock’s. He shuddered as his lower lip was nibbled by John’s mobile mouth then coaxed to open further for exploration. His Sentinel hummed in the back of his throat at the taste of his Guide’s mouth.

John’s taste and scent were a heady combination to Sherlock. The taste of scotch on John’s tongue combined with his spicy aftershave with hints of tea was a delight to Sherlock’s senses. They kissed softly for a long gratifying time, breaths increasing as they enjoyed sensations that were building.

John pulled slowly away. Sherlock couldn’t help himself but follow John’s lips until they fully separated. John’s fingers were softly caressing his cheekbones, while his eyes—half-mast in pleasure—gazed into Sherlock’s.

“You all right?” he whispered.

Sherlock hummed low in his throat in reply, before he realized his hands had moved to John’s hips. His thumbs were rubbing against the soft skin above John’s belt under his shirt. His grasp tightened as he pulled John into his lap, his Sentinel’s knees settled on either side of his hips.

The firelight painted John’s beloved face in shadow and light, his eyes dilated to the point they looked black, arousal evident in his gaze. Sherlock’s hands surged up the soft skin of his Sentinel’s back under the shirt to pull him back down in another deep kiss. John’s hands pleasantly stroked through Sherlock’s curls caressing his scalp. Little sounds of pleasure were emitted from both their throats as they gorged themselves on each other’s lips for long minutes.

“John…” Sherlock murmured. “John…”

“Hmmm…what?” John replied tongue licking under Sherlock’s upper lip.

Sherlock had to pull away to catch his breath to say, “My cock’s being strangled, John.”

A little giggle erupted from his Sentinel at the statement. Sherlock could only glare at his John and rest his head against the back of his chair as he waited for John’s mirth to subside.

Smiling John eased back a bit on his lap, hands going to the belt and buttons of his flies. “Well, you shouldn’t have worn such tight trousers,” he said with little chuckles continuing to erupt from his throat. They stopped immediately when John realized Sherlock wasn’t wearing pants.

A wave of lust shot into Sherlock’s brain as John gazed at the hard cock in his hands. Sherlock was starting to pant as his arousal ratchet higher as John’s left hand gripped his prick to run his fist up and down the shaft, the tips of the fingers of his other hand delicately playing with the glands below the head. The muscles of his thighs and buttocks clenching as pleasure blazed down his length to settle into a tingling in his balls.

John released his grip to lean down to ravish Sherlock’s mouth. His left hand delved into the back of John’s trousers to grip a lush buttock, while the other grasped his soft nape to pulling Sentinel against his chest. John released Sherlock’s lips to nuzzle and place soft kisses down the line of his jaw to the crook of his neck and shoulder. He breathed Sherlock’s scent in deep, a soft rumbling growl escaping John’s throat as he moved his nose up and down the warm nook. Sherlock couldn’t help but extend his neck further to provide John with better access to the skin of his throat. He received a sharp bite as a reward that sent another streak of heat to settle in his groin.

With his empathy under control, John’s feelings of lust and love only enhanced his own. The physical pleasure was overwhelming, but not mindless where he only received input from his partner. He could feel John’s pleasure, but not to the detriment of his own. It was freeing.

During Sherlock’s distraction, John had released the buttons on his purple waistcoat and had started work on his shirt. Moving slowly down Sherlock’s body to caress his collarbones and chest with his supple hands and mouth. Wet heat caused his right nipple to peak while John coaxed the left nub to tighten with the pinch of his fingers. Sherlock couldn’t help but arch into the touch, gasping his pleasure to the ceiling.

As John moved down his body and off the seat to settle himself between Sherlock’s thighs he, unfortunately, had to release his grip on John’s lovely buttock. His tight jeans were then pulled down to his ankles as John sat back on his heels hands spreading Sherlock’s legs farther apart to peruse the body spread out in the chair before him. Sherlock’s pale face and chest were flushed red with arousal, cock tight against his belly with pre-cum smeared on the skin of his abdomen. He would’ve been embarrassed to be so debauched in another person’s company if his cock and nipples weren’t pulsing in pleasure under John’s gaze.

“You’re a beautiful creature, Guide,” John told him. Sherlock had to close his eyes in pleasure at the words.

“Sentinel,” was all Sherlock could say as John leaned down to nuzzle the dark curls at the base of his cock.

Sherlock could only run his hands through John’s hair, and on his neck and shoulders as his Sentinel settled in to taste his prick. More rumbling growls were erupting from John’s throat as he took in Sherlock’s masculine scent. Desire was burning along the bond between them. John’s mouth was hot and wet on his cock as he stroked the length with his tongue before teasing around the head with soft licks. Sherlock’s fingers tightened in John’s soft hair urging his Sentinel to take the full length of his cock into his mouth.

John took his cock down into the back of his throat a reward to Sherlock for his efforts. Sherlock arched into the heat of John’s mouth, his toes curling in his shoes. His Sentinel encouraged him to thrust with hands that caressed his torso, chest, and neck. The addition of attention of skilled fingers on his nipples caused a blaze of pleasure to tighten his balls. The tingling pressure built from his lower back, through his perineum and balls up the length of his prick. John’s talented tongue and hot mouth worked up and down Sherlock’s cock coercing mindless sounds out of him. The pressure of release continued to build, his body seizing in a long arch, buttocks clenched off the seat of his chair with his cock deep into John’s throat as his climax crested. Sherlock let out a loud shout of John’s name at the peak of his pleasure.

It took long minutes for Sherlock to come back to his senses. The bonding link was humming in contentment in the back of his psyche; his body was boneless in his chair. Sherlock took in the sight of the ceiling for a moment before he registered the weight on his chest and torso. He looked down at the sight of his Sentinel lying on his chest, hands under his chin, and a smug smile on his face. He was beautiful to Sherlock. Even John’s cheeky smile couldn’t dampen his good mood at the moment.

“Back with me now, Sherlock?” John stated, his grin widening even further.

Sherlock was too content to answer with more than a pleased hum, his finger’s caressing John’s beloved face. The sex was definitely going to work between them, he concluded. It was a crime that Sherlock was lying in his chair on wanton display and John was still fully clothed. He couldn’t allow John to get too cocky about reducing Sherlock to a mindless nerve of lust. It was only proper that Sherlock reciprocated soon so they could finish their bonding.

“John?” he said.

“Yes,” John’s replied.

Giving his Sentinel a haughty look, Sherlock ordered, “Get in the bedroom and get naked.”

****

Sherlock placed the slide of cells from the testicles he’d received from Molly under his microscope. Mrs. Hudson had placed them in the refrigerator for him, thus salvaging them for further experiments. He didn’t know why John had fussed so much at him over them. He should know by now their landlady wasn’t prone to hysterics over Sherlock’s experiments.

His movements were languid from John’s vigorous lovemaking throughout the rest of the night. It was late morning heading toward midday and John was still sleeping in Sherlock’s bed. He could now understand why John ‘Three Continents’ Watson’s many girlfriends had stuck around so long even with Sherlock’s meddling. His doctor was extremely talented in the bedroom.

To his chagrin, his bonded had again reduced Sherlock to a wanton lustful creature. John was small, but sturdy with a lovely thick and heavy cock that fit Sherlock’s hands and mouth perfectly. He had ridden Sherlock like a champion jockey at the Royal Ascot, his muscular thighs gripping his Guide’s flanks tight. He had been magnificent. Their bond had snapped taught between them at the crest of their pleasure in each other. It was strong and sturdy much like John and Sherlock had never felt so content with his lot in life.

Small soft hands interrupted his contemplation to move his curls away from his neck. A soft kiss and nuzzle was received with a pleased hum as John took in Sherlock’s scent. His Sentinel’s final two senses had emerged softly during the course of their lovemaking. It would take John some time to learn to use his newly enhanced senses, but Sherlock was confident that control would increase as their bond settled over time.

“Good morning,” John lipped into Sherlock’s neck.

He reached back to give John a soft caress to his head, eyes still on the cells in his microscope.

“Whoo hoo!” a quick knock was heard as their landlady caught John with his nose buried in Sherlock’s curls.

“Sherlock, John? Are you boys finally together?” she asked.

John straightened running his fingers through Sherlock’s hair before he smiled at their landlady to reply, “We’re bonded, Mrs. Hudson.”

“Oh, lovely!” she exclaimed. “I’m so happy for you both. It’s about time. When’s the wedding?”

“We’ve just completed the bond, Mrs. Hudson,” John replied heading to the kettle on the hob. “It’s a bit soon to be talking about marriage don’t you think?”

“Oh pish! No, you’re bonded and that’s for life. Why wait?” she said enthusiasm obvious in her tone.

Sherlock decided he’d best try to nip the conversation in the bud as he replaced the slide with another. “Matrimony, Mrs. Hudson is a social and ritual construct of society to establish a legal contract between two people. John and I are a bonded Sentinel and Guide pair. Going to a church or down to the courts for a ceremony will just add more sentiment to an already irreversible union,” he declared.

Mrs. Hudson placed her hands on his shoulders to cajole him into agreeing with her, “But Sherlock… I’m sure your parents will be thrilled that you are finally bonded. They will probably want to celebrate it!”

John placed a cup of tea and saucer with a Tim Tam on it next to Sherlock’s elbow. An amused smile on his face as he said, “It might be nice to get the tax credits, Sherlock if we register our bond. A civil ceremony won’t have any religious connotations to it if that’s your objection.”

“Also, you and John can get some matching rings to wear!” Mrs. Hudson chirped as she accepted a cup of tea from his lover.

Sherlock crunched down on the biscuit mulling over the statement. It would be nice if John had a ring on his finger to show Sherlock’s claim. It would keep any women or men from potentially pursuing his John in the future. “I suppose I wouldn’t be opposed to a reduction of our tax obligations,” he said knowing full well that John could sense his possessiveness through the bond.

Mrs. Hudson added, “Don’t you want to celebrate with your family and friends?”

Both pairs of eyes were staring him down as he drank his tea. He couldn’t help but cave to John’s indulgent smile and Mrs. Hudson’s hopeful expression.

“Fine!” he huffed. “We’ll schedule to go and have a ceremony, but no party!”

“Oh, Sherlock really?” his landlady griped at him.

“A party with our friends, your brother and parents might be nice, Sherlock. We could have it at Angelo’s.” John replied.

Sherlock resisted for a moment more just on principal before he asked, “Does Mycroft really need to come?”

The disapproving look from his landlady made him acquiesce with less than good grace. “Ok! But I want no part of planning anything,” he said. “The only thing I’m willing to do is shop for some rings. A Celtic theme as a nod to your Scottish heritage perhaps, John?”

John’s bright smile was a balm to Sherlock, “As long as it’s not sparkly, you can pick what ever you would like Sherlock.”

“It’s so exciting! I’ll bake the cake!” Mrs. Hudson blurted. Sherlock decided to finish his tea and continue his experiments. John and Mrs. Hudson would sort it all out.

“Ta, Mrs. Hudson any help would be appreciated,” John replied as he walked into the hall with their landlady.

“I’m so happy for you, loves,” was her response as she headed back down the stairs.

John came in and caressed Sherlock’s curls again, before kissing the top of his head. He lifted his eyes from his microscope to wrap his arms around his lover and received a kiss in return. The bond softly hummed between them. They were Sentinel and Guide, partners in profession and love.

The End

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