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No World for the Penitent

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John woke late to find the previous week’s rain had finally broken to brilliant sunshine. It fell bright through a gap in the curtains, across his face, and he climbed out of bed to open the curtains properly. Then he pulled off his t-shirt and stretched back out against his pillows, basking in the warmth. The heat was one of the few things that he missed about Afghanistan; it wasn't that it was never warm in London, but it was hardly ever the kind of heat that soaked right down into your bones.

For a while he wallowed in it, the sunlight drenching his skin, heat saturating his muscles, making him feel languid and loose-limbed. Finally he stretched luxuriously, vaguely weighing up the relative merits of a cup of tea or having a wank. He was really only half hard, the remnants of his morning erection, as he stroked himself lazily through his pyjama bottoms. It was quite nice, just touching himself, not feeling any very urgent arousal. He idly started to sift through a few memories and fantasies.

A university girlfriend with spectacular breasts. Yeah, that was good.

That bloke he’d snogged in a club once, who had rubbed stubble-burn all over John’s neck as he rocked his thigh up against John’s groin. Mmmm. He palmed himself more firmly, enjoying the sense-memory.

Greg, all long muscular thighs and sleepy, heavy lidded eyes, radiating sex… Oh, god. The vague arousal he’d been feeling spiked, hard. No. Nope, nope, much too complicated. It did need thinking about, but not right now.

He scrabbled for a replacement image. That newsreader who was always poured into her dresses? Hmm, no not quite doing it.

The scarred topography of Sherlock’s lovely skin; his clever mouth, his clever fingers.

Ah fuck.

He was going to have to think about this, wasn't he?

The thing was, he’d always been good at taking the opportunities that presented themselves. He’d once performed an emergency tracheotomy with a steak knife and a biro casing. He’d saved three soldiers’ lives by braining a (terminally surprised) sniper with a water canteen. He’d moved in with a beautiful madman he'd only just met, for god’s sake. So when the unexpected but not unwelcome offer of a threesome with his two best mates came up, he’d gone for it, barely engaging the rational part of his brain at all. It’d been good, god, it’d been great, and perilously close to something he might actually really want. He’d tried so hard to resist the second time – told himself that they didn't really want him, that he would be superfluous; even felt a flicker of self-consciousness at what a striking couple they made, just the two of them. But Sherlock had been watching him out of the corner of his eye, and Greg had looked so hungrily at him, he hadn't been able to turn them down. He really should have held out: watching Greg’s warm competence as he took Sherlock apart, the heady beauty of them both in abandon had made something greedy and dangerous unfurl behind his sternum.

But he couldn't seem to maintain relationships beyond a couple of months at the most, and this felt like it could be more important than that. Although maybe a relationship wasn't even on the table, and he was getting himself wound up about nothing. Greg had seemed fairly casual about it the first time, but then he’d initiated a second encounter. Did that imply anything? And who knew what Sherlock made of the whole thing. Maybe he was just collecting data, and when he’d reached some sort of conclusion he was going to lose interest. Oh lord, it looked like he was going to have to talk to them about it.

Well, his hard-on had certainly wilted now. Tea. Tea would help.

He was too hot to put his t-shirt back on, so he wandered downstairs bare-chested. While he waited for the kettle to boil he ran a glass of cold water and stood at the sink to drink it, idly scratching his belly. He nearly dropped the glass when long warm fingers slid around his waist and Sherlock pressed a kiss to the top of his scarred shoulder. He twitched out from under Sherlock’s hands and stepped back, putting space between them.

“Um. What are you doing?” he asked.

“Saying good morning?”

“That’s not how you usually say good morning. Usually it’s more ‘morning John, what’s the incubation period of tetanus?’ or ‘morning John, don’t use the sugar, it’s got arsenic in it’.”

“The arsenic was only one occasion.”

John frowned. “I don’t think there’s some threshold limit below which it’s okay to put arsenic in the sugar. Arsenic is pretty much a no-go altogether.”

“Arsenic was used medicinally well into the twentieth century.”

“I'm aware, in fact it still is for some forms of drug resistant leukaemia and Christ this is not what we were talking about!”

“You brought the arsenic up. I was simply kissing you good morning.”

Simply? There’s nothing simple about it. Kissing comes with all sorts of baggage, and don’t look at me like that, you’re not half as oblivious to emotional interactions as you pretend to be, you know kissing means something.”

“Hmmm, so sex is okay but kissing isn't,” Sherlock said dryly. “I must say, your boundaries seem rather arbitrary.”

John rolled his eyes. “Well, I daresay it’s terribly pedestrian of me, I just… I don’t think I really understand what this is. I don’t get the… the parameters.”

Sherlock studied him for a moment, then said, “We need Lestrade,” and whirled away to find his phone.

John took a few deep calming breaths, made his cup of tea and retreated to his room.




By the time Greg arrived, John had showered and dressed. Sherlock was still wafting around in his pyjamas and robe.

“Ah good, Lestrade, you’re here. John’s having some sort of crisis about this relationship, sort it out, will you?”

John glared at him. “Actually, you’re just clarifying some things for me,” he snapped.

“Been one of those mornings, has it?” Greg asked. “You two are right idiots, sometimes. What’s the problem, then? Having second thoughts, John?”

“It’s not that,” John said, maybe too quickly. “It’s more that… ah, any idea about where this might be going? Because if it’s just a casual thing, that’s fine, and it’s been fun, but I think this would have to be where I bow out.”

Greg chewed his lip for a moment. Then he said “Well, I’m hardly an expert, am I? My marriage was fucked up from before it even started. And I wouldn't have predicted I was going to end up in some sort of… you know, polyamorous thing. Um. But it’s kind of working, isn’t it? I can do casual – you know, great sex, you’re my best mates, not going to turn that down, but I’d actually be up for giving it a proper go.”

John couldn't suppress a relieved grin. “Good,” he said. “That’s – that’s good.”

“Do you feel better for putting a label on it, John?” Sherlock said, and oh, lovely, he was in one of his poke-John-with-a-stick moods; made somewhat easier to bear because it was usually a sign that Sherlock was feeling a bit unsettled himself. Not that it stopped it being pissing irritating.

“It’s not about the label, I just don’t want anyone getting hurt. I'm horrible at relationships.”

“You say this to a sociopath and a cuckolded divorcé?”

Poke-everyone-with-a-stick, apparently. “You’re not a sociopath, shut up, and lay off Greg.”

“It’s no problem,” Greg shrugged. “S’true, after all.”

“Well, but not because there’s anything wrong with you. Just the wrong person at the wrong time,” John said.

Sherlock was looking at him with one eyebrow raised.

“What?”

“Honestly, John, you can recognise it with Lestrade but not yourself? Your relationships don’t last because you deliberately self-sabotage. Oh, it might be subconscious, but you never choose a realistic long-term prospect because you like your life as it is. You really just want the sex, and now you can get that from us as well.”

John blinked at him. Was that true? Huh. Yes, he supposed it might be. It wouldn't be the first time Sherlock had known something about him before he'd known it himself.

“And… you’re okay with that?” he asked.

“Well yes. I considered several projected outcomes before I took you up on your initial offer. This did seem to be one of the more likely possibilities.”

Greg said, “That was what you went off to think about? Not just whether you wanted a shag, but if it might turn out to be a relationship?”

“Of course. Extrapolating from available data is pretty much what I do, isn't it? My experience of relationships might be limited but I did consider how it might work with the three of us.”

“You thought there was a chance this might turn into a relationship and you went ahead with it anyway?” John asked.

“Obviously.” Sherlock said impatiently. “I'm surprised you two didn't think about it. It seems to be an excellent solution to our mutual attraction. My libido is somewhat erratic, but you two are well suited in that regard. We all work together well as a team, and we are good friends.” Sherlock looked slightly uncomfortable, and added, “I am not naturally adept at providing emotional support, which I'm aware may be considered a failing in a relationship…”

John shook his head. “No, it’s… you’re fine. You do. Might not be how most people would do it but it works for me. You, Greg?”

“Yep, no worries here,” Greg said cheerfully. “See Sherlock, you sorted it out yourself. Didn't need me, really.”

“It seemed like it was going to be a discussion that all three of us should be present for,” Sherlock said stiffly.

John nodded. “Yeah, you’re right actually. If we’re really giving this a go, we ought to try to have these conversations all together.”

Greg nodded as well. “Agreed.”

“God, are we going to have to keep doing this? All this… negotiation?” Sherlock sounded faintly appalled.

John punched him lightly in the arm. “Welcome to relationships. It gets better, once you've worked the kinks out.”

“Good,” said Sherlock. “Can we have sex now?”

“Christ, Sherlock, give the man a minute,” Greg said, exasperated. “He might not be in the mood.”

“No, no, I think… I think I’d actually like that. If you’re up for it?”

“Mmm, yeah, I could be persuaded,” Greg said and wrapped a hand around the back of John’s neck and drew him in for a kiss. It started warm and soft and slowly opened out into something that made John's toes curl.

Sherlock made a pleased noise, then purred, “Talking of kinks… ready to tell us what you really want, John?”

John pulled away from Greg feeling slightly dizzy. He sighed, rested his head against Greg’s shoulder for a second. “Look, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you, it’s just that it’s not that interesting. Wouldn't even classify it as a kink.”

“I've been thinking about it, you know. Shall I tell you what I've deduced?”

John shivered a little, raised his chin. “Go on then.”

Sherlock nodded. “You like watching,” he said. “You enjoy performing fellatio, and you like to ensure your partner’s satisfaction even if it means deferring your own pleasure. Strong caretaker streak. The things people are afraid to ask for are usually things they feel guilty about wanting, something that goes against their image of themselves. So… what if you let someone take care of you for a change?”

“I'm not… That would be terribly selfish. I'm not… I'm not selfish in bed.”

“Of course not, you’re a very generous lover,” Sherlock said, looking puzzled. “That's rather the point.”

Greg had been listening quietly, but now he said “Is that it? Because we could do that. You know it feels good to focus on someone, get them off. Can you let us do that for you?”

John blinked at the echo of his own words to Sherlock that first evening, the suggestion that had helped to start this whole thing. Yes, he thought. If it was going to be anyone it would be you two.

But Sherlock was still looking at him intently. He said, “But that's still not quite it, is it? Oh. I was… distracted at the time, but… of course. You reacted when Lestrade mentioned ‘hard and fast’. I think maybe,” and his voice went even more velvety than usual, “you want to be overwhelmed.”

John felt heat rush through him, his cheeks blazing with arousal and shame.

“Ah,” Sherlock said, looking satisfied. ”There we are.”

“It’s not… it’s not all the time. I do like taking care of my partners. Just occasionally…”

“Yes. You want to let go. Give yourself up. So now the question becomes – do you trust us enough?”

God, of course he trusted them. But he just didn't know if he could do it. Didn't know if he could let go, however much he wanted to. Sherlock was right – of course he was right – that he liked looking after other people, sexual partners very much included. The idea of letting Greg and Sherlock take over, even for a little while, was both frightening and seductive.

Greg rested his hands on John’s shoulders. “We don’t have to do this,” he said softly into John’s ear. “But I’d like to try, if you think you can trust us. We can take it slow to start with, see how it goes.”

Well, he'd never been a coward, and how often did anyone offer to let you have one of your fantasies? He nodded, quickly, before he could talk himself out of it.

“Lovely,” Greg breathed. “I'm going to enjoy this.” His hands slid down John’s arms to his wrists, and he caught and pinned John’s hands at the small of his back. “Sherlock, undo his shirt, yeah?”

Sherlock stepped forward and swiftly flicked open buttons. He parted the two sides of John’s shirt, his face curious and eager. “I didn't really get to look at you properly before,” he said. His fingers roamed across John’s chest, and stroked inquisitively at the scar on the front of John’s shoulder. He pushed the shirt back down John’s arms and Greg gathered it into a bundle around John’s crossed wrists.

Greg kissed the back of John’s scarred shoulder. “Does this hurt?” he murmured.

“No,” John said, already a bit breathless. “Doesn't feel anything much – nerve damage.”

“Okay,” Greg said, and set to tonguing and kissing all around the rippled edges of the scar tissue, up over the crest of John’s shoulder, apparently mapping the points where numbness gave way to sensation. When he found a place where his touch made John’s breathing catch, he began sucking and worrying a love bite into John’s skin, half on undamaged skin and half on the scar. John could see the moment Sherlock realised what Greg was doing. He leant in to mirror the process on the front of John's shoulder.

John could barely breathe. He didn't think much about his scar any more, but the thought of these two men overlaying the marks of damage with their own marks of desire, of possession, made his throat desperately tight.

Finally Sherlock raised his head and looked at Greg over John’s shoulder, eyes dark and blazing; he reached over to cup the back of Greg’s head and pulled him into a deep kiss. John, pinned between them, tipped his head back and swallowed hard. One of Greg’s broad warm palms came up to cradle his throat, stroking over where the muscles were working. He broke away from Sherlock to ask, “You okay?”

John nodded, helplessly.

“You just have to say. You only ever have to say,” Greg said. He slid his hand right down the front of John's torso to the waistband of his jeans, and tweaked open his flies. Sherlock took over, pulling jeans and boxers down and off, while Greg splayed his hand proprietorially over John’s lower belly, little finger nudging down into the top of his pubic hair. John was already more than half hard, and when Sherlock went to his knees in front of him and nuzzled into his groin, his cock gave an almost painful throb. When Sherlock took his cock into his mouth, hot and wet, John’s hips bucked against the restraining pressure of Greg’s hand.

Greg hooked his chin over John’s shoulder and said “Jesus Christ, look at that.”

They both looked down at Sherlock, and he did a slow blink and looked back up at them, his long black lashes sweeping up to reveal his eyes. It was the most seductive thing John had ever had aimed at him. The fact that it was Sherlock doing it was breathtakingly unexpected. Sherlock dipped his eyes again and suckled lightly at the head of John’s cock, watching Greg and John through his lashes. John watched him for a moment, captivated, before he thought he understood: this was Sherlock playing. John got the impression that the idea of sex being fun was rather new to Sherlock. Apparently John surrendering his usual confident sexual role was allowing Sherlock to try out some roles of his own. Good grief, between Greg being commanding and Sherlock being coquettish, John was going to have a heart attack before this was over.

Greg untangled the shirt from John’s wrists and freed his hands. One hand went forward into Sherlock’s hair as though magnetised, and he curled the other back over his shoulder into Greg’s hair, two different textures of soft thick strands clinging to his fingers.

After a moment Greg cupped his hand around the other side of Sherlock’s head and drew him back gently. “You wanted to try fucking John, right?” he asked Sherlock.

Sherlock nodded and unfolded from his knees. “Bedroom?” he asked.

Greg glanced around the room, then said, “No, we’re going to do it right here, in your armchair.”

Sherlock smiled. “Ah, Lestrade, sometimes you come up with surprisingly good ideas.”

“Been wanting to see John riding you in that chair for weeks now,” Greg said with a grin and half shrug, and fuck, if that wasn't one of the hottest things John had ever heard, Greg getting himself off to dirty thoughts about John and Sherlock.

Sherlock fished a bottle of lube out of his dressing gown pocket, smirking at John’s raised eyebrow, then slipped out of the gown and his pyjamas. He dropped back into the armchair in an elegant sprawl, beautifully haloed by the sunlight streaming through the tall windows behind him. Greg guided John forward, and Sherlock reached up to draw John down into his lap, shins settled either side of Sherlock’s thighs.

“One day we’ll do this with you the other way round so I can suck you off while he fucks you,” Greg told John, as he stripped his own clothes off.

“Was that something else you thought about?” John gasped.

“Oh yeah.” Greg leaned in and flicked his tongue over John’s earlobe. “Haven’t had your cock in my mouth yet. I'm going to though, don’t worry.”

“He is delicious,” Sherlock said, curling his hands around John’s hips.

Snugged up against John's back, Greg curled his hand down to cup John’s buttocks, then trailed his fingers down and in to stroke lightly along the cleft of John’s arse. Then Greg grabbed the lube, and when his fingers returned it was in a slick slide from coccyx to perineum and back again. His fingers kept stroking up and down, up and down, hypnotically, until John felt as though every synapse was focused on processing the slip slip slide, slide circle slide, until his nerve endings were burning; then there was the lovely and too brief dip of a fingertip, and back to slippery stroking. Finally, finally, he slid a finger fully into John, who blew out a breath as he let his body open to it.

“Ohhh, that's good,” he murmured. He shifted his hips slightly, aiming for the best angle, and Greg immediately stilled his hand.

“No,” he said, quiet but firm. “Don’t move. Sherlock, hold him still. Okay. Sherlock and I have got this, yeah?

John.” Sherlock smiled up at him, one of his rare real smiles where one corner of his mouth tilted down. He moved his hands from John’s hips to stroke across where the muscles of abdomen and thighs were still tight “Don’t hold back. We want to do this. Let go.”

Four steady hands, on him and in him, holding him still, holding him up, holding him safe. He breathed in deep, nodded, let go. Sherlock pushed up from the back of the chair to kiss him, the plush wet heat of his mouth a further grounding point. Greg started moving again, slow. Relinquishing his physical pleasure to the other two left John more focused on the mental side than normal. He thought about Greg’s hands, pictured the compact elegance of tendon-muscle-bone, the slight curling glide of his fingers, how they were tucked into the hidden places of John's body. Sherlock’s erection was trapped against John’s inner thigh, and he thought about that too, the pulse of blood through it beating against his own femoral pulse.

Finally Greg withdrew his fingers, a caressing slide, and guided John down onto Sherlock’s cock; so hot, heat blazing through him from inside and out. Sherlock let out an inarticulate sound as John sank down onto him. Greg was controlling the pace, much slower than John would have moved, so that it was less a thrust and more a long voluptuous bloom of pleasure. As John finally settled into Sherlock’s lap, he let his head drop back against Greg’s chest. Greg reached round and ran both hands down the front of John’s body from nipples to hipbones, a shivering wash of sensation that made him writhe.

Then Greg slid one hand back round John’s hip, and ran his fingers around John's stretched rim. “We could both take you like this,” he murmured. “I could stretch you out some more, push in there with Sherlock.”

Oh god. That would be… oh, insane. Surely he shouldn't be thinking how hot that sounded? Sherlock’s eyes were huge and dark looking up at them. Greg kept talking, very low, sounding a bit shocky himself. “I'm not gonna. But I could. Can you imagine what it’d feel like?”

John shuddered. Christ, yes, he could imagine.

“You’d be so full, god, so full, and Sherlock and I would be able to feel each other, hard against each other, squeezed tight together inside you.” Greg gently eased the tip of one finger in alongside Sherlock’s cock.

John could feel sweat prickling out all over his skin. Sherlock was panting under him, arching up into him.

“Wouldn't take much, I reckon. All that friction, one of us would come – make it all slick for the other one, fuck, I bet that’d feel amazing.”

“Oh god, please, Greg, let me make you come. Please, I want you in my mouth,” John gasped.

Greg growled faintly, then slid his finger back out and came round to stand at the side of the chair. “You sure?” he asked. “This is supposed to be about you.”

“And what I want is both of you in me. I want to take you both at the same time. Maybe even… we could try that, some time… just… let me do it like this now?”

John could see Greg swallow hard. John twisted his torso towards him, and Greg leaned in enough to stroke the tip of his cock over John's lower lip. He was amazingly hard, final reassuring evidence that it wasn't just John who was turned on by this. John flicked his tongue out to lick at the precome smeared on his lip and then licked at Greg’s cock before sliding his mouth down over it. He had a sudden vision of what he must look like, filled so completely by both of them, and even the slight discomfort of the awkward position just emphasised the gloriously dirty eroticism of it.

“Christ, you look amazing,” Greg was murmuring above him. “I'm so close already, this isn't going to take long.” Then Sherlock leaned forward and kissed John’s cheek, and licked at John’s lips and then the lower part of Greg’s cock that John couldn't quite take at this angle, and both John and Greg groaned, and Greg gripped desperately at John’s hair and came hard. He pulled out and bent to kiss John’s swollen mouth.

“My god, you’re good at that,” Greg panted.

John shook his head. “You. You two are perfect. That was perfect.”

Sherlock dropped back against the cushions and curled his hips up. The change in angle sent electricity crackling up John’s spine, and he had to fight not to move with it. Sherlock grinned at him breathlessly. “Well done,” he said, and used his grip on John's hips to rock him forward and up then back again. By this point, John was so overloaded with sensation he could barely think straight. He could hear himself whimpering with each movement and was helpless to stop it.

Finally Greg caught John’s wrists together again in one hand, and reached round with the other to fist his cock. All three of them looked down at the shiny head of John’s cock appearing and disappearing in Greg’s big hand. Sherlock’s fingers clenched down hard around John’s hips, hard enough to bruise, and he twisted desperately, then threw his head back against the back of the chair and started coming with a groan.

“God, yes, that’s it,” Greg said, “that's beautiful. Now you, John.”

For a moment John wasn't sure he was going to be able to. He’d been so close for so long, he wasn't sure how he was finally going to go over the edge. Then Sherlock reached up and caught John’s face between his hands. “We've got you,” he said, and kissed him. With the warm solidity of Greg against his back, and the sleek line of Sherlock against his front, he finally tipped over into an orgasm like a supernova, a solar flare blazing through him.

He came back to awareness cradled between the two other men, who were kissing each other lazily over his shoulder.

“Thank you,” he croaked finally. “Thank you so much. Was that… was that okay for you two as well?”

“Oh god, yes,” Greg said fervently.

“Stop worrying, John. I'm sure there are plenty of things Greg and I would like to try if you’re worried about… I don’t know, some sort of sexual equity.”

“Mmmm,” Greg said, amusement curling his voice. “I have several ideas.”

“Oh yeah?” John said, intrigued despite the spectacular orgasm.

“Hell yeah. I want to pin Sherlock down and finger him until he’s a sweaty, begging mess, keep him right on the edge for hours, then get you to fuck him and see if we can make him come without touching his cock.”

Sherlock laughed breathlessly. “What a pleasingly filthy mind you have, Lestrade. Hmm, I think I’d like to fuck you up against the window so everyone can see you.”

Now there was an image. John felt Greg shiver against his back. John said, “We should tie Greg up with your scarf.”

Sherlock frowned and said “No,” but before John could do more than half a mental flinch, Sherlock continued, “You can’t make decent knots in a woollen scarf. It would make a good blindfold, though.”

Greg half groaned, half laughed. “You two. Blimey, if this is what I've got to look forward to, I'm going to have to start taking vitamins.” Then as John drew breath to respond, he said, “No, don’t start telling me about balanced diets and all that. Far as I'm concerned, coffee and takeaway is a balanced diet.”

John rolled his eyes, amused. “What can I say? Strong caretaker streak, was it, Sherlock?”

Sherlock nodded. “You do seem unnaturally obsessed with what I eat.”

“Yeah, well, one of the perils of a relationship with a doctor,” John said cheerfully. He was pleased to see Sherlock seemed back to normal. Not that flirty Sherlock wasn’t enchanting, but normal Sherlock was who he’d grown attached to.

As the three of them continued to bicker affectionately, John smiled to himself. Yes, he thought. This relationship was definitely a good idea.