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It had been six months since Dr. John Watson had married Miss Mary Morstan, and as far as Sherlock Holmes knew they were getting on disgustingly well. Watson had only moved to Paddington to start his practice, but Holmes detested the sight of the two of them fawning over each other, giving each other little gentle caresses as they went about their day, smiling at one another over their china teacups, and so he avoided visiting as much as possible. There was no reason to subject himself to that sort of torture if he didn't have to. Dr. and Mrs. Watson kept inviting him to supper, and three times out of four he managed to come up with a feasible excuse not to go. He hated seeing that wounded, exasperated look on Watson's face, though, and so every so often he allowed himself to be convinced to dine with them. He didn't have to like it.

It was spring, and the windows of Baker Street were open to the fresh air. Holmes sat in his shirtsleeves at the table, an array of beakers and tubes set out in front of him, fingers stained with noxious chemicals, when he heard the rattle of the wheels of a hansom cab stop just outside the door.

He gave the visitor two minutes, and so he began to attempt to consolidate the mess to only half the table, in case Mrs. Hudson insisted on bringing in tea.

Mrs. Hudson appeared at the sitting room door, one minute and thirty four seconds into Holmes's count.

"Yes?"

"Mr. Holmes," she said, looking delighted, and Holmes knew who was waiting at the bottom of the seventeen steps.

"Well show him up, will you?"

He was already coming up, his patience and politeness only for show, and Holmes knew his step on the stair immediately. Before, when they were still sharing digs, it had been easier to ignore and suppress the sudden drop in his stomach, the way his heart-rate increased, the heat that rushed into his face, when John Watson walked up the stairs. Now, the occurrence took place only once every two weeks or so, as opposed to twice or thrice every day, and so Holmes was entirely out of practice.

"Good afternoon, Holmes," Watson said, smiling becomingly under his moustache, and Holmes scowled.

"You've interrupted me," he said, turning his attention back to his chemical analysis in an attempt to hide the warm, anxious feeling he knew would be visible. Particularly to Watson.

"Of course I have," Watson replied, ever the gentleman, and gave Mrs. Hudson an entirely unnecessary peck on the cheek. "Tea would be lovely, thank you."

Holmes rolled his eyes in exasperation and stood up, wiping his hands on his trousers. Watson's smile hadn't dimmed, and he was regarding Holmes with far too much affection.

"May I sit down?"

"If you like," Holmes said. "You know where the chairs are."

Watson beamed, and took off his coat and hat and leaned his cane up against the sideboard by the door. "Ever the gracious one. What are you working on?" he asked, sitting down by the grate.

"Nothing at all," Holmes said, exasperated. He'd not had a case in two weeks, and he'd already done this stupid experiment of the precipitation of hemoglobin and found it successful, so tinkering with the details of it were more or less useless.

"Shame," Watson said, not sounding at all sympathetic. Mrs. Hudson came back with a tray, and Watson thanked her warmly and poured himself a cup like he still lived there.

"Did you have something in particular you wanted," Holmes asked, jamming his hands into his pockets and turning to face Watson, "or did you just come to bother my housekeeper and drink my tea and take up space?"

"Can't a man visit a friend?" Watson asked innocently, eyes sparkling with amusement. He took another sip while Holmes watched, but then he sobered and put the cup down. "Actually."

"Of course," Holmes grumbled.

"Sit down, will you?"

"Fine." Holmes sat in the chair across from Watson, pushing aside a pile of unimportant papers.

"I have something of-- an odd story to tell you."

Holmes raised an eyebrow, trying to look disinterested. He knew Watson would see right through his charade, however, and it was somehow comforting to have the one man who knew him so well in the same room again.

"Mary and I, as you know, have a very comfortable and happy marriage."

Holmes sighed. He glanced down, and the ring on Watson's finger glinted tauntingly.

"No, listen," Watson said, noticing it immediately. "I don't-- I don't know how to approach this, exactly."

"Take your time, by all means." He knew he was being outrageous, but he couldn't always help. The last thing he wanted out of a visit from John Watson was a detailed description of how excellent his marriage was.

"Mary is," Watson went on, and Holmes could see that he was beginning to blush. It sent a little thrill through him, and he quashed the feeling immediately. "Somewhat adventurous." Dear God. "And she-- she suggested to me something that I realized I was very amenable to."

"Please don't tell me you came over here to detail your marital relations to me," Holmes said. "It is not a mystery, and I am not interested."

"Let me finish, Holmes," Watson said, leaning forwards irritably. He set his teacup down and laced his fingers around one knee, a position Holmes recognized as the one he adopted when he was supremely uncomfortable, and unconsciously protecting himself. "You remember Irene, of course?"

How could he not? She had realized immediately Holmes's attraction to his flat mate, and had used it to her advantage. And then locked him in handcuffs and left him for said flat mate to find, in a very compromising and not very flattering position.

"She and Mary met, you know, just after that business with Blackwood. They've been keeping company recently, since our marriage, and--"

"How does Irene have anything to do with your perfect marriage? It seems she'd be a detriment."

"Will you--" Watson started, and then he stopped. He smiled at Holmes, irritatingly enough, and reached out to touch the back of his hand. Holmes snatched it away, the touch of Watson's fingers tingling through him. "Let me finish," Watson said again. "Mary came to me and she admitted that they'd become rather attached to each other. Romantically." He was flushing again, embarrassed and-- and aroused, Holmes saw, from the pink of his cheeks and the startling darkness of his blue eyes.

"Romantically," Holmes repeated, and knew he sounded rather obtuse all of a sudden. His heart rate was rocketing, and he could feel a flush of heat settling under his skin.

"Romantically," Watson said again. "And Mary said... she said she loved me dearly, and that she wouldn't do anything to harm me, and that she knew it was possible to love two people at once."

It felt like Holmes's heart was in his throat, and he didn't know why. The softer emotions were deliberately foreign to him, and he didn't like the way this conversation-- or, narrative-- was going.

"She suggested we-- discretely, of course-- that we open our marriage to other possibilities."

"Other lovers."

"Yes."

"What--" Holmes said, and coughed. "What did you say to that?"

"Well," Watson said, sitting back again, opening his posture and spreading his knees slightly, drawing Holmes's attention to where he knew it wasn't meant to be, but couldn't help sneaking a glance at anyway. "At first I didn't know what to say. I thought, she hates me. She's tired of me already. But she insisted that no, she wasn't tired of me, and she loved me dearly and desperately, and more even now that I'd listened to her whole story without making a fuss. But there were things that I couldn't offer her, and that she couldn't offer me, and that she'd known of couples that had expanded their potential and taken on other lovers-- sometimes apart, sometimes together-- and been all the closer for it."

"Ah."

Watson reached for the teacup again, and Holmes saw that his hand was trembling. He could see the pulse beating in Watson's throat, above his collar. Watson was nervous, almost to the point of distraction, but he was obviously determined to get to the point. Holmes stayed quiet. He released his tight grip on the arms of the chair and wished he had his pipe.

"You didn't come here to tell me you've taken a lover," he said, distressed to hear how unsteady his voice was. "You haven't taken one, even though she invited you to."

"No," Watson agreed, "I didn't. And I haven't."

"Why not?"

"I asked Mary if she expected me to bring another woman into my life, and she laughed at me."

"I thought that was the point."

"Oh for-- Holmes!" Watson let out an exasperated breath, still red in the face with embarrassment and trepidation. "You'd think you, as the world's only-- Not another woman. You, Holmes. You."

Holmes stared at him. His stomach was doing uncomfortable flips, and although he knew that spontaneous combustion was ridiculous, he worried that he might be the first case of it. "Why me?"

"Because I'm in love with you, you stupid git," Watson groused, "and you're in love with me."

Holmes wasn't sure what to say to that. It was entirely, unfortunately accurate, but he didn't like being called a stupid git. "Oh," he said, sounding like one anyway, "well. I suppose she's right."

Watson's expression changed in an instant, blossoming into relieved pleasure. He was utterly charming, even beautiful, and Holmes couldn't help smiling in return.

"Where is Mary now?" he asked, glancing at the clock.

"She's out with Irene," Watson said, and his voice had dropped somewhat, from earnestness into seduction. "They met for lunch, and I doubt they'll be back before a late supper."

"I see."

"Mrs. Hudson has gone out. She's visiting her niece for the afternoon."

"Is she?"

"She told me when I came in."

"Indeed." Holmes was trembling, he realized, and he squeezed the arms of the chair again to still his hands. Watson rose from his seat, pushed table and tea tray aside, and knelt on the rug in front of Holmes's chair. Good lord.

"Holmes," Watson said, looking for all the world like a new bridegroom again, all earnest and afraid, "may I kiss you?"

"You're out of practice," Holmes said.

"Beg pardon?"

"Out-- of deduction, I mean. All the science that I taught you, and you're not even using it. What was the point, if I were to--"

Watson cut him off, thankfully, by crushing his mouth to Holmes's. He kissed like an animal, deep and fierce and demanding, and Holmes opened to it eagerly, letting go of the chair arms to curl his fingers instead in Watson's hair. Watson tasted like tobacco and jam and Mrs. Hudson's tea, and he smelled like autumn and warm air and leather. Holmes clutched him harder, kissed him deeper, and Watson's hands came up to slide around Holmes's sides. Holmes shifted forwards, and Watson moved to embrace him entirely: hands on his shoulder blades, his chest against Holmes's.

Holmes broke the kiss, a little breathless, and tipped his head so his forehead pressed to Watson's. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Isn't it obvious?"

"I don't like sharing," Holmes said.

Watson laughed softly, but he pressed another gentle kiss to Holmes's mouth. "Mary is my wife, but I-- she's right, as you said. I've been in love with you for ages, I just didn't realize it." He licked his lips, suddenly worried, and started to pull away. "I won't-- we needn't go on, if you don't want this."

"I want you."

"Mutual," Watson breathed. He licked his lips and glanced down, but he met Holmes's eyes again as he said, "I'm not going to leave her behind, but-- I don't know that I can live without you either."

Holmes wondered if this was what it was like to be dying. He'd had close brushes before, but his chest had never felt so tight, his hands had never shook so uncontrollably. He was rushing with adrenaline and desire, cock swelling in his trousers, and Watson was just kneeling there, holding his body in his strong arms, open and honest and wanting him.

"I've missed you, old boy," he admitted, very quietly.

"Come on," Watson said, pushing himself somewhat awkwardly to his feet, favoring his leg, and holding out a hand. "Your bedroom's still where it was last time?"

"Of course it is," Holmes snapped, but he took Watson's hand all the same and allowed himself to be pulled up. Watson moved backwards through the room, stepping nimbly over the piles of books and work and papers Holmes had neglected, all the way to the bedroom door. He opened his mouth again as he reached it, and Holmes said, "The answer's yes, Watson, and if you ask again I'll show you what-for."

Watson grinned, then, and opened the door.

Once they were inside Holmes reached for him, unbuttoning his waistcoat slowly. Watson put his hands on Holmes's hips and watched, biting the corner of his lip. He was already halfway hard, the swell in his trousers gloriously obvious. This was happening. Holmes picked up the pace a little, starting on Watson's collar and shirt. Watson began to reciprocate, unhooking Holmes's braces from his trousers, and then he bent his head and put his lips to Holmes's throat, where his collar was already undone out of sheer slovenly habit.

"Oh," Holmes said, rather unnecessarily, tipping his head back, and Watson murmured his appreciation, the sound vibrating pleasantly through Holmes's body. Watson slid his hands around Holmes's body, untucking his shirt as he went, and placed kisses in a line up his neck to just behind his ear, where the first touch of his mouth turned Holmes's knees into something like water.

Watson caught him, tightening his arms and slipping his hands underneath Holmes's shirt at the same time, and applied himself to that spot. His moustache was gently prickly against the soft skin of Holmes's neck, and it magnified the sensation. It was astonishing. Holmes wondered if he ought to be cataloging every minute feeling, but then Watson bit him, sharply, and he remembered that it didn't have to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Wonderful.

He finished his work on Watson's shirt and pushed it and his waistcoat off his shoulders, with a little bit of trouble since Watson apparently preferred his shirt around his elbows so long as he didn't have to take his hands of Holmes's bare back. They wrestled for it for a moment, and then Holmes said, "Oh for heaven's sake," and Watson relented, laughing.

He stripped himself while Holmes watched, toeing off his socks and undoing his trousers. Holmes had seen the bullet scar on his leg before-- they'd lived in remarkably close quarters and they'd suffered plenty of reckless injuries together-- but now it seemed utterly foreign, and he reached out to touch. His hand followed the edge of the scar from the middle of Watson's thigh to just below his hip, and it felt like natural progression to move on up his hip to his stomach, trace the line of coarse hair below his navel, and find his cock standing proudly now, thick and red and gorgeous.

Holmes curled his fingers around it, testing its girth, and Watson made a noise of surprise and delight. His hands went to Holmes's shoulders, trying to divest him of the rest of his clothes, but Holmes ignored him and sank to his knees.

"Oh God," Watson said. "Holmes, you can't--"

"Don't be absurd," Holmes said, his hands fitting perfectly around Watson's hips, thumbs against the soft places of his abdomen, "of course I can." He glanced up, deliberately coy, and Watson was biting his lip again. Holmes leaned in and pressed a kiss to the warm skin of Watson's belly, and then turned his head to slide his lips up the length of his cock.

The tip was already wet, slick, and Holmes curled his tongue around it, eyes falling closed. It had been ages-- ages-- since he'd done this, but it wasn't really something one forgot. He'd never quite given it up as useless information, and Watson responded with gratifying enthusiasm.

"Lord, you're incredible," he said, sliding a hand into Holmes's hair and gripping gently. "I never thought-- but I did, I suppose-- long game of denial, there-- oh, Holmes," as Holmes ceased his teasing and took the head of his prick into his mouth. He tasted salty and clean, felt warm and thick in Holmes's mouth, and he bobbed his head experimentally, listening to the little bitten off noises Watson was making as he sucked him.

Watson couldn't stand it for long, Holmes knew that. Already his bad leg was trembling and his good leg was compensating and he was groaning quietly as Holmes pulled him deeper, but it didn't keep Holmes from wanting to spend a minute or so enjoying himself. He slid his hands down Watson's thighs and around to his arse and gave him a good squeeze that sent Watson rocking forwards on his toes with a curse. His prick slid deep, Holmes relishing the way it stretched his jaw, and then he pulled off and looked up, licking his lips.

"Does she do this for you often, your wife?"

"Holmes," Watson said, obviously trying for irritable and landing somewhere near mildly put-out, "if you must know, yes."

"Ah," Holmes said, stroking him absently, "so there are other things she believes she cannot offer you, then."

Watson flushed, his fingers shifting in Holmes's hair. Holmes couldn't resist tilting into the caress, and then he stood. His prick was all the way hard in his trousers, and they were tented out ridiculously.

"I'm not wrong," he said, smirking, and pulled Watson in for a brief kiss.

"You're not," Watson agreed, cupping a hand firmly over his groin. "Bed?"

"Bed."

"You've been fighting," Watson said, as Holmes finished divesting himself of his shirt and trousers. He reached out and touched the fading bruises on Holmes's ribs, and Holmes winced.

"A little," he admitted. "You've won a good deal of money off me in the last few weeks."

Watson shook his head, somewhat fondly, and settled onto the bed. "You're incorrigible," he said, leaning in to press his lips to a bruise. He ran his hands down the outsides of Holmes's thighs as Holmes stepped out of his trousers, and then he was biting his lip as he laid eyes on Holmes's erection. Holmes felt himself flushing, unnecessarily, and he caught hold of Watson's hovering hand and wrapped it around his cock. Watson's breath hitched at the same time that Holmes let out a moan, and immediately his fingers tightened without guidance. Holmes let go, and Watson remained, feeling the hardness in his fist, stroking the sensitive head, twisting his wrist, no doubt, to watch Holmes lose a little of his composure.

Holmes was, indeed, losing his composure, and he swallowed hard as Watson touched him. Watson's hand was warm and dry, a little rough from holding a gun and surgery instruments and from his time in the desert, but the calluses on his fingers rubbed him just the right way, and the look in Watson's darkening eyes was undeniably erotic. And he wasn't hesitating, either-- Watson was using his acquired powers of deduction to see that he was doing something right, and he was exploring every inch of Holmes's straining flesh with renewing enthusiasm. He stroked Holmes's cock slowly, spreading the slick pre-ejaculate down the shaft and easing the way, and Holmes felt himself throb in Watson's grip.

Watson made another little noise when Holmes's hands landed on his head, and Holmes wished he could keep track of every one he made, all of them being so splendid and communicative. He was distracted from the assessment, however, when Watson responded positively to the little nudge he gave him, and took Holmes into his mouth.

God, his mouth. His mouth was perfect, just the way Holmes might have imagined it would be, if he'd ever let himself think such thoughts-- well, just the way he'd imagined. It was warm and wet and entirely inexperienced by wholly enthusiastic, and he sucked Holmes down with such gusto that he choked himself. Holmes tried to be sympathetic, but the look of shock and irritation on Watson's face was so wonderfully familiar that he simply thumbed Watson's lower lip in apology and guided his cock back into that gorgeous mouth.

The second attempt went better, and then Watson, ever the fast learner, understood how deep he could take Holmes without causing himself undue distress, and began sucking with abandon, pulling back to lick the tip of Holmes's cock messily, and then swallowing him down again. Holmes trembled, pleasure growing hot in him with every wet swirl of Watson's tongue, every pulse of his throat. He stroked his fingers across Watson's cheekbones and the line of his jaw, and then he couldn't resist running a thumb over his moustache. Watson opened his eyes and glared most unconvincingly, and Holmes let out a shocked breath, startled at how splendid he looked.

Then Watson was pulling away, and Holmes took advantage of the opportunity and climbed boldly into his lap, relishing his gasp of surprise. Watson's hands slid up his thighs to cup his arse, and when Holmes settled himself down their cocks brushed. Watson let out a moan that sounded like his name, and Holmes had to kiss him again.

With one hand, he cupped the back of Watson's head, and wrapped the other around both of their pricks. He licked into Watson's mouth and rubbed their shafts together at the same time, and Watson groaned in appreciation, hands tightening on Holmes's arse. Holmes could taste himself in Watson's mouth and it only made him kiss harder. He stroked them both, and Watson's hips rolled into his hand, grinding against him in a mimicry of sex, rising and falling. They were both leaking profusely, Holmes's hand was slick with their fluids, and Watson's kiss began to lose coordination as Holmes worked them together.

"Enough," Holmes gasped, breaking the kiss and letting go. Watson whined and pushed against him, grinding Holmes's hips down hard into his lap. He clasped Holmes to him, trapping their cocks between their bodies, and rutted against Holmes rather shamelessly. Holmes's cock slid wetly beside Watson's and he bit Watson's lip to subdue him. "Enough, my dear. I have other plans for you."

Watson eased his grip, panting, and Holmes urged him to lay back against the pillows. He squirmed out of Watson's arms to settle himself instead between Watson's spread legs, and he stroked a hand down his stomach, calmingly. Watson looked anxious, and Holmes didn't want to ruin anything by being overeager. He gave Watson's cockstand a friendly rub, and kissed his hip while he rolled his bollocks between his fingers. Then he slid his fingers back a little farther, tentatively, and stopped dead.

"Watson," he said, almost scolding, and Watson went bright red. "You planned every moment of this."

"I hoped," Watson admitted. "Oh dear God." He put both hands over his face, and Holmes smiled. Rather than answer, he slid two fingers straight into Watson's body where he was already slicked and stretched, and Watson arched and cried out.

"You did it yourself," Holmes said, thoughtfully, crooking his fingers, and Watson moaned aloud, which was enough of a confirmation. "You wouldn't dream of asking-- My God, you showed up at the door expecting, wishing, to be sodomized, and you kept a straight face all the while. Oh Watson, we'll make a decent actor of you yet."

"Shut up, Holmes," Watson growled, still comically flushed, and Holmes obliged him by sinking a third finger in. He twisted them slowly, watching the expressions flicker across Watson's face-- embarrassment, lust, need, affection, embarrassment again.

"In that case," Holmes said, congratulating himself for maintaining a cool facade, and he pulled his fingers out, slid his clean hand up behind Watson's knee on his good leg, and lined himself up. He sank in easily, but Watson was tight, beautifully tight, and he had to go slowly. His breath caught at the heat, how snugly Watson's body gripped him, and how hard Watson still was between them, cock laying stiff against his belly.

He pressed his face into Watson's shoulder, gasping, and Watson smoothed his hands down Holmes's back, urging him on. He was trembling, and Holmes murmured, "All right?"

"Quite," Watson said, hint of a smile in his voice. He bit Holmes's shoulder lightly, and Holmes pulled his hips back and pushed in again, drawing a moan from him. He mouthed at Holmes's neck, licking and kissing, and Holmes returned the caress, sucking a mark into his shoulder while he rocked into Watson's body.

Watson demanded, "More," and Holmes obliged, pushing himself up on his elbows and driving in more firmly, Watson's helpless panting the only sound louder than the slick noise of their bodies moving together.

Watson hooked his good leg around Holmes's hip, changing the angle, and Holmes slid even deeper into him, making him groan and arch with every thrust. Holmes dipped his head to kiss him again, licking into his mouth, and Watson gripped his shoulder and the back of his neck and devoured him, kissing back, biting his lip, owning him. Holmes shuddered, pleasure racing through him, building. He rolled his hips faster, harder, fucking Watson with a purpose. He wanted to watch him come, feel him clench so sweet and tight around his cock, hear the noise he made at his peak. He wanted to catalogue every nuance, every detail of sex with John Watson, even if this was an open-ended affair. He loved every minute of it.

Watson broke the kiss, fingers clenching, and Holmes didn't have to be told. He reared back, hitching Watson's leg around his hips and fucking into him harder, and wrapped one hand around his neglected cock. Watson jerked, groaned, "Oh, fuck," which was the first time Holmes had heard him use the word, and started to come. His cock stiffened in Holmes's hand and his back arched; his hands, no longer clutching at Holmes himself, curled in the bedclothes; his head went back and he rode a full-body shudder as he spilled all over his stomach. Holmes stroked him until he was gasping for him to stop, and then he let go and bent forwards over Watson again. Watson immediately gripped him by the shoulders again and murmured, "Yes, yes," while Holmes pounded into him, working his hips furiously, almost frantically, chasing his own peak. It was rising fast and strong, and Holmes bit down on Watson's shoulder as he came, shoved as deep into him as he could get, curled over Watson possessively, moaning against his skin as the pleasure pulsed through him.

Watson rubbed his hands up and down Holmes's back, fondly, and kissed his cheek. He gave a sigh of contentment, and then he wasted no time pushing Holmes off to the side instead of letting him lie peacefully right on top of him.

Holmes let himself recover for half a minute, and then he propped his head up on one hand. "I want you on Tuesdays and Fridays," he said, sliding his other hand down Watson's arm. Watson chuckled and caught his hand before it passed, lacing their fingers together.

"I'm sure we can arrange that," he replied.

"And," Holmes said, pressing his lips to Watson's bare shoulder, "I will begin requesting your assistance again on cases, if you don't mind. As much as it pains me to admit it, you are quite invaluable as a companion, and your aim with a pistol is nothing to scoff at."

Watson laughed outright, and he reached for Holmes's shirt to clean the mess on his stomach. "You outdo yourself," he said. "I would very much welcome it."

"Good, as long as we're agreed."

"We are."

"All of us?"

Watson smiled softly, eyes warm and bright. "All of us. I might even ask for Wednesdays as well."

"I have tickets for the opera on Wednesday night."

"I thought as much."

They were silent a moment, Holmes listening to Watson breathing quietly as he gazed placidly out the window, and then, "Will you stay the night?"

"I just might," Watson replied. "Mary won't mind, after all. It was her idea."