Actions

Work Header

Relative Incandescence

Work Text:

Such a huge thanks to Christy for taking so much time picking through my copious typos, and for being an overall lovely person!

 


 

 

 

------------------------

Sherlock is picking apart orange segments in the school courtyard when he feels something like a shock traveling from his scalp and down his spine. He ignores it, the human body is basically a large battery anyhow, sometimes unexplainable sensations occur with no logical prompting whatsoever. His fingers are sticky, nail beds stained tawny from digging into the spongy pith. A group comprised of mostly alphas kick a football between each other, they ignore the two beta males that try to slip into the circle.

Sherlock sits alone. He always sits alone. It bothered him once, he hadn’t understood why his peers seemed to dislike him so intensely. His first day in primary school was spent in the chair by the teacher’s desk because apparently he couldn’t be trusted not to start arguments at the tables.

The second day, Eddie Davis punched Sherlock when he tried to explain that Eddie’s parents were going to have their bond dissolved, that even though his Father will say it’s not Eddie’s fault, it’s very likely that it is, in fact, Eddie’s fault. It was nearly unprecedented that his beta mother should conceive in the first place, and the process of gestating and birthing Eddie had altered her reproductive system for the poorer. His alpha father had found a omega wanting and willing to be bred. He could read the situation in the smell off the boy’s collar, alpha musk intertwined with something that could only be the sweet perfume of a mature omega verging on heat. The dull, vanilla, nothingness of beta scent underneath it all.

Sherlock went home that day with a bloody nose.

Mycroft petted Sherlock’s curls while he sulked with his toes dipped into the cool water of the brook behind their home. Sherlock sleeve was still damp from mopping the blood from his face, it had crusted uncomfortably around his nostrils.

“No one likes me,” Sherlock murmured, casting a stone into the stream of clear water, “I’m odd. Why didn’t you tell me I’m odd?” He looked up to his brother with accusing eyes, his nose ached and somehow Mycroft could have saved him this.

Mycroft sighed in that infuriating way, an annoying expression that always notified Sherlock he was missing the bigger picture. “Sometimes you must guard your words.”

“But I was right,” Sherlock balled his small fist and uselessly struck the grass underneath him, “I was right! I don’t understand why people should be so angry if it’s only the truth.” He bit his lip, embarrassed to have tears burning along the rims of his eyes. “I was right. It’s not fair.” he said again, his voice nothing but the petulant whine of a child.

Mycroft raised a nebulous brow, “Life is not ever fair, brother mine. You should take care to learn that as quickly as possible.”

Sherlock scooted closer to the stream, sinking up to his ankles in the water-smoothed pebbles, the muck underneath. “My nose hurts.”

Sherlock felt Mycroft’s fingers tugging at his collar, trying to bring him away from the rush of water.

“Come away from there,” Mycroft said. “You’re frightening me.”

The current was no where near strong enough to carry the likes of Mycroft, but if Sherlock were taken in, he’d be dragged under like a falling leaf. His bloated corpse whisked along the bumpy path of water, rubbish, another broken body to be carried out and swallowed by the deep, grey, sea. Like a pirate, Sherlock thought of the many stories he’d read, ships full of scallywags sunk by storms and tentacled monsters.

He inched closer to the edge.

“Well, brother, if it makes you feel any better to know it, the vast majority of people are idiots.”

It did make Sherlock feel better.

Two years later, Mycroft presented as alpha, and somehow this meant he and Sherlock had less in common. Mummy and Daddy were both very proud. Sherlock still sat alone at school, and now at home as well.

 

Sherlock picks another orange segment and places it onto the napkin in his lap. A magpie titters a few feet away, hopping about busily, pecking absently at discarded rind. Sherlock doesn’t know much about the eating habits of magpies and perhaps it would like a bit of his orange. He plucks a wedge from the napkin, but when his wrist goes to flick the thing away, the same feeling of electricity goes through him. This time it’s not a pleasant tingle down his spine. It arcs across his skin like lightening wrapping around a tree, abrupt and startling, curling heat deep into Sherlock’s gut. He feels tender and oversensitive everywhere. Suddenly even the bloody breeze is overwhelming against his flesh, and Sherlock gasps for air, fingers slamming shut over the orange slice, the juices drip out from between the gaps of his fingers.

The magpie startles and flies away.

Something viscous and warm trickles down against Sherlock’s thigh, and God what is that? Panicked, Sherlock reaches for the band of his trousers, but immediately withdraws when the knowledge dawns on him, settles inescapably in the center of his mind and radiates there.

“Fuck, oh,” Sherlock says to no one, eyes fluttering closed when he shifts his hips, arse grinding against the plank of wood he’d been sitting on. He feels empty, so empty, and… hungry? But not in the context where Sherlock sometimes forgets to eat for a couple days, more in the sense that he needs more of something. Oh. God.. he needs, he needs--

The wind picks up again, and yes, Sherlock thinks, pleaseplease, when the scent of deep amber and something he associates to burning wood, it infiltrates his nasal cavities. Sherlock can feel his mind catching on it. He looks up, looks frantically around, knowing that wherever the smell is coming from, it’ll stop the way his insides convulse. Sherlock intrinsically recognises the scent as something he needs.

Two of the alphas from the football group are looking at Sherlock, eyes dark and predatory. One moves toward him and Sherlock ought to be shrinking backward, he has seen looks like that before when he’s been caught outnumbered by a group of bullies. Except, no, this look is different. They’re watching Sherlock as if he’s something they ought to have., He should be running. He doesn’t want to. He wants to be looked at.

Sherlock can only tremble, pant, and clutch at the tops of his trousers. The scent is blown toward him again and Sherlock whimpers stupidly, legs automatically spreading open where he sits.

Like an omega whore some wild voice breaks through the heat, Sherlock’s brilliant mind trying to reassert itself. He looks down at his white knuckles, the slight bulge in his pants, the wetness soaking through the material of his trousers. He’s disgusting Sherlock can feel his cheeks flush from embarrassment, and he doesn’t want this.

The alphas knock into each other’s elbows, trying to be first in line. Sherlock isn’t some thing to be taken; he’s first in his class, a prodigy, and all he needs is something inside of him, yes, God yes. Something inside of him, filling him up, weight spread out over him--

Sherlock bolts; he uses the last remaining vestiges of his will to run, but the alphas give chase. It’s so hard to fight the instinct with his entire biology demanding Sherlock to drop to all fours on the ground and present his arse in the air like a common bitch. One hand wrenches his elbow, pushes him face first into a wall. There’s a bit of scuffle behind him, but Sherlock can’t think of why that might be because now the smell is all over him. A cold nose presses into the feverish skin of his throat.

“Holmes,” the voice is shaking, and Sherlock recognises it vaguely as Samantha Turner from English, “Shit, shit, God you smell amazing.” Turner’s body presses up against his, the heated length of her cock rubbing up against Sherlock’s thigh. Sherlock thinks to say a hundred things, to fling the broad portion of his occipital lobe of her skull backward and break Turner’s nose.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I can’t stop. Shh, sh,” she soothes when a ragged moan punches out from Sherlock’s throat. “I’ve never smelled anything like you.” Instead Sherlock eyes fall closed, mouth open and heaving breaths like an animal. Prey, happily trapped by the thing that wants to eat it, all the while the untouchable core of Sherlock’s mind shouts out the utter wrongness of the situation. Two separate scripts run in Sherlock’s head. Biology, and the thing trying to kill it, with biology quickly winning out. Sherlock trembles.

“Yes, you have to--” Turner inhales deeply against Sherlock’s skittering pulse, “I’ll take care of you. You’re mine.”

The last two words are growled, and Sherlock chokes miserably as he thrusts his arse out, an act of submission. His stomach clenches, inner muscles spasming.

“Hah-ah, Ple--” Sherlock voice small and desperate, but then there’s a loud wail as Samantha Turner’s weight is dragged off of him.

“Sherlock, Sherlock,” the beta school nurse tugs at him, Sherlock melts into that touch as well and the nurse grimaces, palms swiping along the hem of her skirt. “You’ve presented, you--”

“Don’t you think I know that,” Sherlock snarls, then doubles over, arms crossed over his belly as another spasm tears through him. He knows he’s shouting, whimpering, degrading himself. “Make it stop. Please, please.” Only he doesn’t want it to stop. He wants teeth against his neck, musk, and slick, and a knot to hold himself together with, and--fuck.

“I’ve cleared the halls, get him inside!” another voice shouts. “There’s someone on the way for him.”

He’s being dragged across the pavement, away from the alphas contained by school staff in the corner of the courtyard. Sherlock can’t help but look into each set of rut-frenzied eyes. The hallway air is cool against his skin, the nurse shuts the door behind them.

“I know it’s hard to think right now, but can you manage to change your trousers? Do you need help?” She extends a pair of faded blue scrubs toward him, navy pants and two thick absorbent pads to line them with.

Put more clothes on? Unfathomable. The clothes he’s already has must be chaffing him down the bone, as it is. Right? All Sherlock wants to do is strip naked and writhe miserably.

“Give them to me,” he snatches them out of her hands and stares a hole through her prettily made up face until she gives him a sympathetic smile. As if she could know, she’s only a beta and has no concept what it’s like to be lit from the inside out and begging. Reduced to an orifice needing to be filled and serviced. Sherlock hates her and her simple body.

“Be back in a moment,” she coos, leaving Sherlock alone to redress.

His trousers are sodden down to the ankle, Bartholin glands having stimulated the release of omega lubricant. The ruined khakis go in a heap, right into the bin. Sherlock stares at the pads on the patient cot, his fingers are still damp from taking off his pants. He tries licking curiously at an index finger, but the paroxysms swell in a wave. Sherlock’s throws his head back in a silent cry, bending across the cot and panting as the convulsions crest hotly in his belly. Fingers go on autopilot, frantically reaching down between his legs, up, up, and into his body.

“Oh God,” Sherlock whispers into the crook of his arm, the one not occupied with the task of getting as many fingers as possible inside of himself. It’s no where near enough, the angle is wrong, and it barely takes the edge of hysteria off, but it’s something.

There’s shouting starting up outside the door, Sherlock chokes on a sob as he lets his fingers slip out, followed by a gush of lubricant. It soaks his spreads thighs, drips patpatpat onto the polyurethane cement floor.

“You allowed him to be handled by one of your brutish footie players?” The words are practically sneered. “Would you care to explain your extreme lack of regard for the safety of your presenting students?”

Mycroft, Sherlock hasn’t been this relieved to hear his voice since he’d gotten lost in the forests behind their home. He’d wandered half the night through the snow embankments, shivering and numb to the bone. Mummy was asleep in his chair, long since drawn away from caring by too many scotches. Father was away with business, as usual. Mycroft had carried Sherlock inside, scolded him angrily, all the while plying him with blankets and mugs of warm drinking chocolate.

“Mister Holmes, the onset of heat was impulsive. We do regular testing for hormones. Usually we know beforehand, Sherlock had no markers at the last routine check. There was no way we could--”

“Are you suggesting that Sherlock would have been responsible for acting complicit in his own rape?”

“No! Of course not!” the voice of the headmaster is horrified and Sherlock tiredly grins at Mycroft’s ability to intimidate another alpha, despite being only half the other man’s age. Mycroft wears his innate sense of dominance like a warm coat, using it when it suits his needs. “I mean… You must recall the biological imperatives overriding the control of a young alpha. When they smell an omega--”

“Save yourself any further embarrassment. I’m in no need of a biology lesson. I’ll be collecting my brother now.”

Just take me home. Lock me in my room. Sherlock reaches shaking fingers and begins slipping on the borrowed clothes. He takes the paper backing off the pads and presses them into the seat of his pants.

“But you… You’re an..” the headmaster protests.

“Dissimilar from your lot, I’m in control of my biological functions long enough to get my brother home where he’s safe.” Sherlock can hear a hand rattling the door knob, “Also, there is no one else available to collect him, and despite Sherlock’s condition, I am regretfully the only option.”

“He’ll need to have his gender registered as soon as he’s had a post-heat examination.”

“Thank you for stating the obvious,” Mycroft drawls pleasantly, wrenching the door open.

Sherlock stands trembling by the bed and walks immediately to Mycroft’s side. Mycroft allows Sherlock to lean against his shoulder, but doesn’t put an arm around him. Sherlock feels self-loathing fissure in his chest when he sees Mycroft’s nose twitch. He faces away from the scent Sherlock must be putting off in waves.

They leave the school, Mycroft helps Sherlock into the back seat of his car. The leather squeaks against his sweat-slicked skin, and Mycroft’s throat comes within an inch of Sherlock’s nose when he reaches to buckle him. Immediately, Sherlock tucks his face precisely there at the crook of neck to shoulder and breathes deeply. The smell.

“Perfect, Mycroft, that’s exactly--” Sherlock nuzzles the spot, unthinking, blood boiling. He inhales happily right at the pulse. Mycroft, he’s smarter than Sherlock. Cleverer, and he smells of books, the dark chocolate spiced with red chile he eats by the bar, and he’ll take care of Sherlock. He’s Sherlock’s big brother, he must know how to--

Sherlock’s brain stutters on the path it’s taking.

“GET OFF,” Sherlock snarls, his fingers suddenly hooking into claws and scraping at Mycroft’s cheek.

Mycroft jerks backward, the back of his head rapping hard against the lip of door. His touches his cheek, blood stains in a thin sheen over his tapered fingertips where a nail tore him open.

The scent of Mycroft grows stronger now, with the blood present. Sherlock clutches at him again in confusion, trying to draw him back to nose, perhaps lick, at the cuts.

“Stop that,” he hisses, shoving backward, and Sherlock whines at the loss. “Try and think. It can’t be beyond your ability, completely.”

How is Sherlock supposed to stop, much less think? He means to say as much, but another paroxysm takes him under and he knows he’s crying, fingers pulling at his clothes in frustration.

He looks up at Mycroft, “Please,” Sherlock whispers, and he has no idea what he’s asking for. Anything, anything to make it stop. Mycroft purses his thin lips, backs away and slams the door closed, and that certainly isn’t what Sherlock asked for.

Sherlock thrashes about, his body automatically pushes him over and onto his back. The buckle digs uncomfortably into his hip.

Mycroft starts the car and begins pulling away from the school. Sherlock pants, fingers coming up to swipe frenetically at the dark hair plastered wetly against his forehead. They don’t make it far before Mycroft slams on the brakes, pulling the wheel roughly to the side until it skitters to a stop on the median of the road. Sherlock jostles in the back, face turned into the seat as muscles contract, grasping for a knot.

“Fuck,” Mycroft says, air pushing between his teeth. It’s not a word Sherlock has heard him say before. Mycroft exits the vehicle in a rush, leaving Sherlock alone.

Sherlock doesn’t know how long he ruts his arse against the nothingness underneath him, it feels like ages. He’s never contemplated sex beyond mere clinicality, but now all he can think about is being pinned down and fucked. He isn’t really sure what that even means. What would it entail? Obviously some thing being presented and inserted into an orifice. That would stop the hunger, the emptiness. It has to. Sherlock has no personal basis of information and it’s scary, the not knowing.

He’s burning. He must be burning.

I’m dying, Sherlock laughs hysterically, only for the giggles to dissolve into choking sobs. He’s dying, won’t that be lovely? To burn all up in the back of Mycroft’s car and leave a greasy spot on the Italian leather that Mycroft will never be able to clean away?

Mycroft climbs back into the driver’s seat smelling more like cigarettes than alpha. He crunches an empty pack of Dunhill’s and tosses it away

“Did you smoke all of those?” Sherlock somehow manages to rasp out.

Mycroft nods, then shakes his head, seeming to clear his thoughts like he never has to do, “They were already half gone.”

“Did it help?”

Mycroft’s eyes flick up to regard Sherlock in the rearview mirror, pupils dilated and encroaching on the blue-green of his irises. He says nothing and starts the car.

------

 

Sherlock doesn’t remember much about the ride home. He remembers begging Mycroft for something as he pulled Sherlock out of the car. He remembers sighing in relief as he was thrown to the bed, because surely that meant something.

Nothing happens and it’s infuriating.

His stomach churns when he vaguely registers the bolt of his door being sent home. Sherlock tries not to shout out and beg Mycroft to come back and fix him, some insignificant part of Sherlock’s mind tells him that would be wrong, wrong. Mycroft seems angry. Was he angry with Sherlock? What has Sherlock done? Left a gelatinous bit of pond fish on Mycroft’s duvet again?

When it’s clear he’s on his own, Sherlock’s fingers tear at damp clothes. Clothing is tedious and it’s been chafing at him for ages. He can’t bear the sodden absorbent pads any longer, the sheets cling stubbornly to his skin despite Sherlock’s best efforts to swipe them away.

He has a fever, it’s right there, all over him. It won’t break no matter how far up Sherlock fits his fingers inside of himself.

When did it get so dark in his room?

Sherlock cries in frustration, like a toddler, a stupid child with no control over themselves and Mummy and Daddy and Mycroft will be so disappointed.

It’s not possibly supposed to be this way. Something must be wrong. Oh, God, it’s too much, it’s too much, and the fact that it’s “too much” is the only thing Sherlock can think about.

He sobs until the pressure abates.

Please, let that be the end Sherlock thinks. No more. I can’t.

Sherlock welcomes the blackness creeping over him, dances at the edge of his vision, pushes upward to consume him whole. Night, or something like it.

-----

 

Sherlock wakes an unknown amount of hours (minutes? days?) later, to the hot curl of insatiable electricity cutting through his middle. He keens unhelpfully, shaking fingers wrapping around his cock, but it’s not what his body wants. Whatever he needs touched, it’s inside, just out of reach.

There’s a pile of cereal bars tossed haphazardly on top of his bedside table. Bottled water set in a row of six. Sherlock’s mind is so hazy with hormones that he can’t even imagine how it all got there. The thought of eating makes his stomach turn. He’s thirsty. but if he tries to go and open the bottle it means he has to take his fingers out of where they’re cramped and feebly plugging him up.

It’s certainly not what Sherlock meant when he begged for the end.

He burns.
He dreams.
He wakes up.

----

 

“How are you?”

Sherlock shifts in his bed, his muscles ache but they’re not seizing anymore. Aside from feeling like he’s rolled around at the bottom of a sweaty pile of bodies, hunger, and a touch of fatigue, he feels adequate. He feels like his body is his own again. Which is nice. Better.

“Sherlock, I know you’re awake.”

Sherlock rolls over onto his shoulder, the sheets tangle between his sticky legs, and he grimaces. Mycroft doesn’t look angry anymore, his expression is as cool and implacable as ever. “How long?” his voice is rough, hoarse from the sobbing.

“Thirty-six and one half hours.”

“No,” that must be wrong, “It had to have been longer.”

“It was a soft heat, they don’t have the duration of a mature cycle.”

“Soft,” Sherlock’s voice gone incredulous, “That was soft? You must be joking.” Soft is down pillows and the scruff behind a dog’s ears. It’s not a freight train hollowing you out, red-hot coals nestled at your core and burning you to cinders.

“It was a spontaneous first heat, and without proper preparation for the event… I apologise for your discomfort. Mummy brought you those,” Mycroft nods toward the unopened cereal wrappers, shiny in their foil, the row of water bottles, “He didn’t have anything else that would be, ah, of more assistance.” His eyebrows raise and he looks away, checking his watch. “I didn’t realise the extent of how you would..” He clears his throat. “The pheromones became inconvenient. I couldn’t re enter your room.”

Sherlock turns the thought over in his mind, implications cling sourly to it. Sherlock shuts the door before his imagination spins scenarios that are not even worth thinking about. He feels nauseated.

Sherlock clamours abruptly from the bed, heaves frothy bile onto the floor. He spits out the bitter taste in disgust. Mycroft reaches out with a hand, hovers it over Sherlock’s back, but neither of them do that anymore, not since Sherlock was an unpresented child, and the hand retreats.

“When can I be put on suppressants?”

“Sherlock,” Mycroft says wearily, “It’s not always like that. From what I understand, the first heat is.. overwhelming. There’s a modicum of control to oestrus that you’ll learn and--”

Sherlock snarls, “And who, exactly, is trying to convince me of this? The alpha with a finger in the MHRA? The alpha whose only concern is to find a omega and pass along their biological material and--”

“I am, as always, your brother. My only concern is for your well-being. Suppressants have a long history of negative side effects. Thyroid disease, high blood pressure, infertility--”

“I don’t want to be bred.”

“You’re young. It’s built into the nature of the omega. You say so now but--”

“I say so forever. I’m not some piece of property. Or would you have me do that? Submit myself? Raise a brood of offspring, is that all I’m good for now?” Sherlock’s voice is shrill and panicked.

Mycroft is silent, staring at the vomit on the floor. It seeps into the crevasses of the wood, fans out to create a wet stain against the floorboards. The bile stinks. It’s welcome against the still prominent perfume of Sherlock’s heat, crusted and filmy against his nursery mattress.

“You’ll need to be registered. I’ve already scheduled you an appointment, the appropriate documents will be filled out as a part of your exam.”

As the smallest part of the populace, the Omega Registry Act of 1976 ensured every omega went through breeder registration. Some research committee that Sherlock never saw fit to waste space on, had come up with a consensus that the population was dwindling since the introduction of suppressants.

It didn’t concern Sherlock at the time. The less idiots the better.

For expediency sake in bond matters. All the act really did was make it easier for omegas seeking work and equal pay to be subtly discriminated against. An omega’s true work is raising the next generation. Meaning, once an omega presents, they no longer belong to themselves. Sexual equality is something the alpha agenda hides behind, all the while making it more difficult for an omega to exist autonomously in society.

“It isn’t fair that I should have to register my gender, while no one as much as questions your kind.”

Mycroft does Sherlock a favour by not arguing the point. He only nods and stares at his fingers like they can’t be trusted to stay put.

Sherlock walks naked into the shower, stands under the stream until it turns cold. Soap is still trapped at the roots of his hair, but still he stands and shivers. Gooseflesh raises up over his arms, the chilled water washes the heat away.

-----

 

School becomes unbearable. Sherlock hadn’t thought it possible that school could actually get worse, but on the third day of ignoring cat calls from the same Alphas that had occasionally used Sherlock as a punching bag, Sherlock has had enough. A group follows him down the halls after he has changed back into his uniform from physical studies. He’d ran the circuit until his lungs burned. They had watched him the entire time, whispered amongst themselves and smiled each time he’d passed their spot by the goal net.

It made him furious, was he suddenly so very different? When Sherlock was an Unpresented, everyone generally hated him, but didn’t notice him otherwise. Now, as an omega, eyes keep cutting toward Sherlock in expectation… of what? They watch him like they’re waiting for Sherlock to sink to the ground right then and there and present himself like a fuck toy.

There aren’t many omega students left in his school. The ones who could afford it have been transferred to omega public schools after presenting. The rest of the population has either resigned from their studies, because I’ll have an alpha, what’s the point, and others have turned up pregnant. The pregnant omegas would exchange all their regular classes for the Family Management program. Maths and science didn’t matter any longer, not when there would be nappies to change and an alpha to cook for.

Actually, Sherlock has no idea what is taught in the Family Management program, and he has no desire to uncover its lessons.

When the whistle is blown for students to make their way into the showers, Sherlock re-dresses and gathers his things without even a precursory hand washing. In hindsight, perhaps an unwise choice. He smells like sweat and omega, not like the neutralising body wash they provide in the showers.

“Wait up, Holmes. Just want to talk with you!”

“Yeah, c’mon, we’ll walk you to class.”

Sherlock doesn’t turn, his fingers grip tightly at the satchel’s shoulder strap.

“Here, I’ll hold that for you,” and over-eager hands are slipping underneath the strap, touching Sherlock’s shoulder, trying to take his satchel from him, like he’s some weak, helpless thing. He’s an omega, and therefore incapable of holding his own school books, and needs a big, strong, Alpha to do it for him.

Sherlock whirls, fist clenched, he sends it flying into a nose.

“Jesus, fuck!”

Sherlock stares at the alpha on the ground, Benny Wright. He’s knocked Sherlock into the lockers every day for the past year, ever since Sherlock called him a “World Class Idiot,” in Maths, and that Sherlock hoped, for the continuity of intellectual evolution, that Benny was sterile. Someone that stupid should not be allowed to reproduce.

Wright stares up at Sherlock now, nose gushing blood over his knuckles. His alpha friend, Dollison, leans over to inspect the damage, only to be shoved roughly away. Sherlock sees Samantha standing off behind the commotion, and he distinctly remembers having her pushed up against him, hot and hard and demanding. Her cheeks colour and she looks down, walks away. Sherlock doesn’t expect an apology, children are taught even before presenting, that alphas can hardly be blamed for their actions when presented with a ripe omega. Society dictates that an alpha’s “yes” is the only consent needed, it’s their duty to help an omega in heat. Omegas can’t be depended on to make clear decisions, even if they say no, they mean yes. Public property to be touched and handled, typical Alpha entitlement.

Still, Sherlock can’t be sure, thinking back to the burning hollowness, if he would have thanked her or hated her if she’d mounted him and filled him up right there.

It’s confusing. Sherlock doesn’t like feeling confused.

This though, this, is something he has control over here and now. His two fists and an endless supply of scathing words, ready to lash out at anyone who dares come close.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Dollison shouts at Sherlock, standing up and beginning to push into Sherlock’s space like it belongs to him. “He was only trying to give you a hand! You’re bloody mad!”

“He was trying to give me a lot more than that,” Sherlock tips his chin up, he has a good inch over Dollison and he plans to use it. “Leave. Me. Alone,” Sherlock snarls, teeth bared.

“Oh, just get off it,” Wright begins pushing up from the ground, “You think you’re still so much better than us. But you’re just an omega. Give it another month or two and you’ll be dripping and begging me for a knot.”

“I sincerely doubt that,” Sherlock’s eyes narrow. “I don’t think it’s possible to want much at all from a brainless, thoughtless, pile of foetid rubbish.”

Wright only laughs derisively, “Any alpha in their right mind would just spread you open and watch you squirm. Learn your place, Holmes,” voice gone bored like he’s only delivered a public service announcement. He walks off, holding his mangled nose, and Sherlock feels a thrill of triumph for that, at the very least.

Dollison scrubs his hand through short brown hair. Sherlock taps his foot in agitation. This is all a waste of his time, he could literally be doing anything else in the world rather than dealing with cretins. He’s smarter than all of them, combined. They’ve hated him for it, loathed Sherlock since primary school. The only reason they’re offering companionship now, is because of his gender. No one knows him. They don’t even know his favourite colour, or that he likes eating honey over his ice cream, or that he built his own incubator and hatched ducklings in it when he was seven. All they care about is turning him over and fucking him blind. They don’t care that Sherlock is lonely.

As admittedly naive as Sherlock is in matters of sex, he knows it’s no substitute for a real friend.

“So,” Dollison says awkwardly, eyes flicking over Sherlock’s body, “Want to come over to my house and, uh, study… sometime?”

Sherlock’s fist flies for a second time that day.

-----

 

“Everything seems perfectly healthy,” the beta doctor exclaims. “Sometimes a spontaneous heat can indicate predispositions to some reproductive issues, but as soon as you decide to try for a little one--” She winks, actually winks at Sherlock! Like it’s something he ought to say thank you for! He’s only sixteen, and she thinks he’s ready to bare the wretched offspring of some alpha who would force him to stay home, cooped up, with a screaming toddler?

She removes the speculum out of his body and Sherlock quickly brings his thighs together. The crisp, white, sanitary paper covering his lower body does nothing to make him feel less exposed.

“Suppressants,” is all Sherlock says. It’s all he cares about. He stares into the fluorescent light above him until his eyes begin to burn.

The smile quickly is replaced with a concerned frown. “Beginning a regimen of Phendrazemine at such a young age is… not at all recommended. I usually don’t advise starting suppressants until the age of twenty-one when you’re at full sexual maturity, and even then--”

“I don’t care what you advise,” Sherlock snarls, “If you won’t prescribe it to me, I will find another doctor who will. Or is that so hard for you? I ought to think you’d be rather keen to keep another breeding omega out of the populace. Your Alpha wife might not stray so much. Sure, that’s a bond bite on the back of your neck, but it’s nothing, it means nothing. Sentiment, is all. Your hormones are incompatible. You’ve been waiting up for her at night, haven’t you? Says she’s working late? Hm, public works director, your wife? Oh, darling. I’ve just got so much on with this project. Don’t wait up,” Sherlock mocks, voice gone high and cloying. “But you do wait up. Pathetic. You must know. Rings around your eyes, all those little red blood vessels, you’ve lost sleep. I’ll save you the trouble of wondering. She’s found a pretty little male omega.”

The doctor’s mouth gapes open, peach lipstick smeared onto her teeth. Sherlock grins, head cocked. “Beta noses really are dismal, aren’t they.”

“What?”

“I can smell him on you. Your wife fucks him, then comes home to you. Smears the omega scent from her lover all over you. Thinks of him while she’s having you. Oh, but no, she can’t be blamed! That’s what she’ll say. It’s a biological imperative, I really love you though!” Once he starts he can’t stop. Frustration and resentment bursts bright in his chest, to wound, to choke the thing that’s choking him. “You don’t understand. The way an omega smells, you can’t help it. He was begging me.”

The woman’s lip trembles and her eyes go sparkling with tears, and Sherlock sympathises with those tears. Burning, trapped, until it all spills over into an ugly mess.

She runs out, speculum still clutched in her pale hand, painted nails scratching the stainless steel.

Sherlock breathes into the silence. A young nurse brings in the little beige prescription slip, enumerates side effects like, “Loss of appetite, insomnia, sexual side effects not excluding infertility, nausea, impaired thyroid function,” the ruddy list goes on and on and Sherlock wonders if any of it is legitimate.

“Blood sample,” she draws a tube of blood from the vein at the crease of Sherlock’s arm. He watches it flow thickly into the plastic. “Sign here.” The woman extends the Omega Registration papers and Sherlock hastily scribbles his name, signs away his identity as a sovereign being.

“You’ll be receiving your ID card within two business weeks in the post,” she says lazily, attaching the blood sample to the stack of papers. “Have a nice day Mister Holmes.”

Sherlock walks out of the clinic and toward the car where Mycroft waits, leaned up against the driver door and smoking a cigarette. Sherlock plucks the burning fag from between his fingers and takes a drag, chokes once, then manages to inhale the nicotine properly.

“You really shouldn’t,” Mycroft takes the cigarette back, drawing the smoke into his lungs before blowing it out into a grey stream from between his lips. He hands it back to Sherlock anyways.

-----

 

Sherlock contracted e-coli food poisoning through a portion of improperly cooked veal steak that he considers more friendly than the stomach issues brought on by suppressants.

He’s woken by stomach cramps every morning that always result in Sherlock bent over the toilet and vomiting up the contents of his stomach. Still, he pops the Phendrazemine from its blister pack and downs it with a glass of water as instructed. Half an hour later, when the medicine has had time to absorb and begin metabolising, the diarrhea makes its dreaded appearance. His body pays out in the most disgusting ways possible, but it doesn’t even occur to Sherlock to disrupt the regimen. He loses weight, Mycroft is back in London, various governments and secret factions shop for his attention. Mummy never notices anything, anymore. Father comes home from her lecture in Prague and does her best to convince Sherlock to bin the pills.

“It isn’t natural,” she takes his bony hands in her own, “Darling, it’s not logical to be so resentful of your biology. You’re an omega, there’s nothing wrong with accepting the fact.” Her voice is condescending.

Sherlock accepts his biology, it’s the general population’s reaction to it that he finds so intolerable. Sherlock finds himself wishing for the cold distance to reassert itself between father and himself. It’s nothing he has ever yearned for, but it’s better than the disdainful superiority. Father never speaks to Mycroft this way.

“I accept it,” Sherlock says simply, wishing the conversation could end. “But I’m not going to discontinue the suppressants.”

Father sighs and rolls her clear, green eyes. “You’re being stubborn. Look at your mother, Sherlock. He--”

“Doesn’t exist anymore!” Sherlock shoves his seat back and shouts, pent up anger surging out. “You’re always away, it’s not as if you know. He just sits and drinks all day and could only be arsed to toss a few cereal bars into my room when I went into heat. You look at him and think he’s happy? I thought omegas were supposed to love taking care of the house and the children and cooking dinner and washing clothes and--and,” Sherlock stutters. It hurts to lose the fluidity of his thoughts, he tries speaking again and chokes. The false start embarasses him.

Father purses her lips, rises from her seat and smooths down the neat pencil skirt. She leaves the room, leaves Sherlock there alone.

-------

 

“Do you regret having me?” Sherlock works up the courage to ask Mummy one day. “Us,” he amends. “Breeding and staying home instead of pursuing your career.” Mother had been a brilliant musician. Had fought for his place as a cellist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Suppressants weren’t yet available to the market at the time, omegas has difficulty finding steady employment due to the occasional unpredictability of heats. Omegas are still considered unreliable workers.

Mummy sits slumped on the sofa, the Glencairn snifter glass in hand, two fingers worth of scotch poured. Sherlock tried to catch him before the third glass, but Mummy looks like he might have started drinking earlier than usual. His eyes are unfocused as he looks at Sherlock, his shoulders shift in a lazy drag across the sofa cushions as he straightens.

“Of course not dear,” it’s a lie and Sherlock hears it in the way his voice tilts and goes higher than it ought to if he were speaking honestly. “Your father and I agreed that it would be better to stay home and raise you both, rather than pawn you off on one of those beta nannies.”

“I see,” Sherlock looks down at the floor.

-----

 

Sherlock’s body adjusts to the presence of the suppressants in the bloodstream. Slowly, the nausea dissipates, followed by the even less pleasant gastrointestinal issues. Sherlock gets headaches every day, but that’s tolerable with regular ingestion of Solpadeine tablets.

The general plotted days where Sherlock’s second heat should occur comes, and passes. He goes to school, if his pheromones are elevated at all, no one says anything of it. There’s a fluttering in Sherlock’s stomach, like when Mycroft would push Sherlock on the park swings. Sherlock would close his eyes and it would almost feel like being dropped out of thin air. The wind pushing his hair on the upswing, the giddy feeling of weightlessness as gravity took him flying backward. The firm press of Mycroft’s hand against his back as Sherlock was pushed up again. Over and over, until Sherlock decided it was time to play somewhere else.

It feels nice. His eyes flutter closed as he shifts in his desk, and bites his lip.

Sherlock rides his bike to the chemist’s after school to refill his prescription and pick up a few items for an experiment. He manages to insult a cashier boy in the process when he refuses to sell Sherlock cigarettes based on the fact that Sherlock is underage, which is just dull. Sherlock wasn’t going to smoke the entire pack, he needs compare the difference between Turkish tobacco ash, against that of English Cavendish, and how can the beta not understand the importance of this? He’s an imbecile, and stealing from the register, and Sherlock swears to tell his manager as much if he doesn’t sell Sherlock the damn tobacco.

“You’ve got a real alpha complex on you, you know that?” The boy stuffs the box of cigarettes into the bottom of a paper bag.

“I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean to me,” Sherlock replies, bored already.

The cashier rolls his eyes and takes Sherlock’s money, “Nothing but a beta trying to wear alpha shoes,” he mutters, thrusting a few coins into Sherlock’s waiting palm.

Sherlock almost thinks to correct him, almost says I’m an omega, and you’re still a thieving oaf, just to be right about another thing, but holds his tongue.

He sniffs at his wrist, the inside of his coat collar where it rubs up against his pulse point, the place his scent is usually strongest. Sherlock could never place the exact olfactory notes. Mycroft uncomfortably described it as sweet peony and rose water when Sherlock asked him out of simple curiosity.

Sherlock smells like...not much at all; the paper bag settled under his arms and spring air.

It smells intrinsically wrong, but it feels safe, and that counts for something.

-----

 

People who don’t know any better begin assuming Sherlock is a beta. He doesn’t correct the assumption. He wouldn’t deny being omega if anyone said otherwise, there’s really no point in lying when there’s a big, red, “O” next to his name on his ID card.

No one whistles behind him on the street, no one tries to stick their hands on him like Sherlock is theirs to touch.

They can believe whatever they want as long as they leave him alone.

----

 

Alone is the problem. Alone is silence and boredom and four walls pressing in on him.

Sherlock thinks, once, about going off the suppressants. He sees an male alpha with his omega mate, laughing and holding hands. The male omega’s belly is only slightly swollen, perhaps five months into gestation. It looks good. It looks right, and those fingers twined and fastened into a knot held between them, it hurts Sherlock to see it.

Would it be so very awful? To be someone’s mate?

Sherlock hasn’t ever held hands with anyone. A few times, with Mycroft or Mummy, crossing the street as a toddler. But that doesn’t count. He rubs absently at the back of his neck where a bond mark would be raised up against his skin.

Maudlin. Sentiment. Weakness.

Sherlock drinks his water, lets the bittersweet taste of a suppressant dissolve underneath his tongue. He isn’t suited for things like hand holding, walks in the midday sun, love.

--------

 

University is different. Hardly anyone here knows who Sherlock is, very few students from secondary school followed him into the prestigious Willard Sciences Institute. The few that bought their way in, they didn’t earn it with perfect marks the way Sherlock did. (Although Sherlock’s behavioral record and reproductive status was a concern and he had to submit multiple articles that he’d had published as far back as age eleven, in order to convince the board of his worth.)

Mostly, Sherlock toured the laboratory last year and caught sight of the rows of cadavers in the forensic studies class, and that looked terribly fun.

Sherlock is well into his second year, when he makes a friend.

Victor Trevor with his black hair and his cinnamon coloured skin, white smile, and his bull terrier puppy intent on the destruction of Sherlock’s ankle.

The thing chases Sherlock across campus and latches onto his heel like it’s a bloody ribeye steak.

Sherlock stares at the animal, distressed, instinct wanting to fling it away and into the nearest tree, but Sherlock likes dogs quite a lot. Even though the beast is cutting tiny milk teeth holes into his skin, Sherlock is loathe to injure it similarly. He winces instead, stoops over to slot a finger into its open mouth to loosen the clamp.

The thing gnaws harder, beady eyes looking up at Sherlock in an unspoken challenge, its immature growl sounding both vicious and silly. It shakes its head and Sherlock curses at the small, demonic, canine attached to his ankle.

“I could crush you,” Sherlock threatens it, like the dog might understand him, “I hope you don’t have rabies.” Tiny bastard. “Where’s your master?”

“Gloria, stop!” Sherlock looks up to see Victor and his panicked eyes as he kneels to pop the puppy lightly on its rounded snout. Beta, like the majority of the school population, Indian descent, English accent with only the slightest touch of New Delhi rounding out the vowels. He’d borrowed Sherlock’s pen in Organic Chemistry, last year. The dog reluctantly releases Sherlock’s heel. “God, I’m sorry. I brought her out for a walk, and she just got away from me.”

“I believe a leash is in order,” blood stains Sherlock’s white socks.

“Let me see. Here,” Victor tugs Sherlock’s trainer shoe off without the first thought, and peels the sock down. Little punctures travel in a crescent around pale skin. “Oh, that’s not good at all. We’ll need some plasters.”

“It’s fine,” Sherlock prods the little wounds, blood welling up. It’s mostly just an annoyance, they’ll scab over soon enough. He reaches for the shoe and Victor’s hand falls away from Sherlock’s skin. “Your dog is a menace to society.” Sherlock can respect that. The same has been said about him. “Perhaps you should train her to be a guard instead of a frisbee partner.”

To his surprise, Victor laughs, smiles brightly. “Sorry, Sherlock. Seems she has a taste for you.” Gloria wriggles onto Sherlock’s lap and licks at his fingers. Mercurial, Sherlock quite likes her and--

“You remember my name?” Sherlock asks in surprise, before thinking better of it.

Victor furrows his brow, “We took Organic Chem together. I sat in front of you.”

“Yes,” Sherlock prompts, still a bit baffled.

“Yes, well, you’re sort of hard to forget.”

Oh, well. That’s fair. Sherlock had quite a few arguments with the professor, and exploded no less than eight pieces of labware. “I’ve mastered unstable ions, since then.”

Victor laughs again, and Sherlock finds he quite likes it. He isn’t being laughed at, Victor isn’t making fun. He thinks Sherlock is funny. Perhaps charming, even.

“I don’t doubt it,” he looks Sherlock over, bites his bottom lip and looks away. “I remember you for more than your ability to disintegrate glass.”

Sherlock isn’t sure what that means, but he smiles back anyways.

Later, he lets Victor pull him up from the grass, Victor insists on making sure Sherlock gets back to his dormitory without his ankle falling off. Sherlock even leans against Victor for a little support as he limps his way across campus.

-----

 

Victor begins knocking on Sherlock’s door in the afternoons. First, he insists he’s only checking up on the dog-bitten ankle and says, “I still feel awful about it.”

The visits increase in duration of time, and while Victor is still not nearly as brilliant as Sherlock is, Sherlock is surprised to find he enjoys the company. He’s even more surprised when Victor seems to enjoy it as well.

Some days they go out, take walks around the recreation center. They’ll eat early dinner together. Sherlock eating Victor’s grapefruit slices, Victor stealing Sherlock’s limp asparagus. It would be more logical to simply purchase the food they wished to eat, but Sherlock likes pinching Victor’s food. Victor will swat at his fingers that way. It’s fun, like a game.

They fight, occasionally. Mostly when Sherlock is bored. Sherlock starts arguments just to have something to do. Victor doesn’t like the fighting so much, he tells Sherlock to stop acting Alpha, unwilling to relinquish the last word. He swears if it weren’t for Sherlock’s scent, he’d take him for one. Sherlock never corrects Victor to inform him he’d be wrong on both accounts.

Most days they stay in Sherlock’s room. Victor likes to draw and he’s quite good at it. One afternoon he draws Sherlock while Sherlock studies an article on the coagulation of blood in subtropical climates. The sketch is in charcoal pencil, but Sherlock can see the way the sunlight had framed his head, the crinkle of skin at the bridge of Sherlock’s nose, three fingers propped against his bottom lip in a thoughtless stroke.

It is quite...beautiful.

“Is this how you see me?” Sherlock asks. He’s accustomed to his reflection, it’s just his face. A big clump of dark curls that for some reason, Sherlock can’t bear to crop. Eyes that never settle on one particular colour other than “fair,” skin that never accepts the sun no matter how long Sherlock tries to lie in it. He’s odd, he always thought his features reflected that issue.

Victor grins and touches his knee for a moment. Not understanding the significance, Sherlock goes back to studying.

-----

 

“Why do you keep coming here,” Sherlock asks one day while Victor looks through Sherlock’s old publications.

Victor glances up, face falling, “I’m, uh--” he stammers. “I can leave, if you’d rather.”

“I enjoy your presence,” Sherlock ensures, aware now of how his statement earlier could be taken as an accusation, “I’ve been informed that I’m almost entirely insufferable. I’m just curious as to what you get out of this.”

Victor’s cheeks darken and he looks around before coming to sit beside Sherlock on the bed. Victor slips his fingers under Sherlock’s chin, tips Sherlock’s face up since Victor is taller by two inches, even sitting.

Sherlock’s eyes widen as Victor slants their lips together.

Oh.

Victors presses closer, more firmly against Sherlock’s lips. The kiss is warm, the sensation of having another mouth pressed against his own isn’t bad at all. Sherlock kisses back, curiously, tentatively opening his mouth when Victor tongue slips along the seam of his lips.

Victor hums into the kiss, begins pressing at Sherlock’s shoulders, and Sherlock thinks he means for him to lie down. Sherlock isn’t sure how he’s expected to respond to all of this, but he lies down and Victor doesn’t break the kiss as he crawls over him.

“Do you want to?” He asks, nosing at Sherlock’s open collar, “I mean, we don’t have to. But do you?”

“Do what?” Sherlock asks, because he’s sure he’s being kissed with intent, and he’s happy to keep at it if Victor would like. It’s an interesting experiment.

Victor laughs, “You want me to say it?” he nips Sherlock’s collarbone, “I’ve been thinking about getting you in bed for ages.” He groans and ruts up against Sherlock’s thigh, one hand snaking down to palm Sherlock through the front of his trousers and--

“You’re...um,” Victor rubs his open palm over where Sherlock’s cock is flaccid and unaffected. Completely unlike Victor’s own external genitalia. Sherlock isn’t even wet. Not that Victor would know that sometimes Sherlock gets that way, anyways. Masturbation isn’t high on Sherlock’s list of priorities. The suppressants also seem to have a bit of a stranglehold on his libido. It was listed as a side effect.

“It’s fine,” Sherlock shrugs.

“No, Sherlock, it’s not,” Victor rolls away, blows out a frustrated breath, “I think I might have misinterpreted, uh, this.” Then, “How do you think of me?”

Sherlock ponders it for a moments, “A friend,” he says warily, unsure now with Victor looking at Sherlock in mortification..

“You’re not,” Victor chews on his thumb for a moment, “You’re not attracted to me, are you.”

“I like your company.”

“But you don’t want to have sex,” Victor looks at Sherlock intently. He doesn’t look angry, perhaps disappointed, but open and concerned in the way Victor always is.

Sherlock shakes his head, no.

“Are you just not attracted to other beta males?”

Beta stigmas of queer relationships, Sherlock has read about them. The issue isn’t quite as rampant in relation to alpha and omega bonds, male alphas tend to prefer female omegas, and vice versa, but there are plenty of relationships composed of same primary gender.

“I prefer males,” Sherlock states, because that much is true. That preference has always been a clear one whether Sherlock is having sex or not.

“Just not me,” Victor says sadly.

“The kissing was nice,” Sherlock says, trying to find something to save Victor the direction in which his thoughts seem to be taking him. “I only want.. I like being.. I like..” Having a friend, Sherlock thinks, and can’t say again. He takes a deep breath and looks at the ground, willing himself to be attracted to Victor in the same way Victor is attracted to him.

Victor is clever, nice, handsome, there’s no reason why Sherlock shouldn’t want Victor to kiss him and undress him and..

Sherlock just doesn’t want Victor in that context.

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock apologises, sincere and pleading. If Victor leaves, Sherlock will be alone again. The deafening quiet will return and Sherlock won’t have Victor there to act as a buffer against it.

Victor smiles, but it’s not his usual smile. There’s something flat behind it. “It’s okay, Sherlock. Really. I like to be around you any way I can.”

Sherlock nods, only a little relieved.

-----

 

Victor comes less frequently as months go on. He tells Sherlock his study load has increased, and it’s a lie. He looks at Sherlock and Sherlock knows it makes Victor sad to look at him, wanting him, and Sherlock not wanting him back in the same way.

Those long looks, they take their toll on Victor. He stares at Sherlock until he can’t seem to stand to do it anymore.

Victor stops coming to see him. It’s fine, Sherlock tells himself. It’s better that way. Sherlock has seen the effects of unrequited emotional reciprocation in peers, it’s often a major component of crimes of passion.

Victor doesn’t necessarily fit the profile of a beta intent on the brutal strangulation of a wayward lover. Or wished-for lover, in Sherlock’s case.

It still doesn’t stop the jealousy that springs up in Sherlock’s chest when he sees Victor laughing with another male beta, near the end of the semester. They’re leaned up against the cement bricks of the A/B/O Studies facility. Sherlock hasn’t seen the other beta, but he looks to be Victor’s age, hair dyed blonde and styled wildly. Victor obviously is courting one of the university’s few Studio Art undergraduates (it’s a sciences facility, really, Victor) because of his subconscious desire to study the subject himself. So obvious. Victor’s father would be furious if his son dropped from the pre-med program. Victor somehow finds it preferable to keep the peace with his father and pursue a career he’ll hate, rather than risk confrontation.

Perhaps this is just a way of Victor exercising his rebellion, and afterward he’ll come back and sit and talk with Sherlock in the afternoons. Sherlock will steal the fruit off of Victor’s tray in the canteen, and Victor will draw Sherlock when he thinks Sherlock is nice to look at.

The beta glances up from underneath his lashes at Victor, and Victor pets his cheek, bends down to kiss him softly.

It isn’t the kissing that makes Sherlock miserable. It’s the smile that Victor beams at the other beta, the easy laugh that has Sherlock turning away and scurrying in the opposite direction.

Sherlock just misses Victor smiling at him and meaning it.

Two weeks later, Sherlock adds another substance to his medicinal regimen.

Suppressants. Solpadeine headache tablets. Cocaine. Sometimes morphine, if it’s available.

It doesn’t substitute for a warm smile, but it does keep Sherlock from caring either way. It focuses his mind, helps him think.

Really, it’s better like this.

----

 

The charcoal sketch that Victor drew of Sherlock sits flat against the night table. Sherlock stares at himself, the smudged lines blurring his hair into curls.

In a sudden fit of panic, Sherlock swipes the thing away, crushes it in his hands. He looks at the paper balled up in his fists, and it’s not enough that the picture is ruined, Sherlock wants it gone. He tears it shreds, throws the bits in the bowl he used that morning for Weetabix, and takes his cigarette lighter to it all.

For a moment, it makes Sherlock feel better to see the ragged scraps turn red, then flake off into black cinders. Sherlock has done that, destroyed the evidence, and now it’s gone. Victor never existed and Sherlock is fine.

The moment passes and Sherlock looks at his sooty fingertips in regret.

-----

 

Sherlock moves to London. He gets high and walks the serpentine alleys that trail behind businesses and abandoned buildings. Sherlock winds up in the hospital after intervening in a street fight. A homeless male omega goes into heat, living on the streets. The scent draws out at least six alphas from out of their dingy flats, others abandon their drug dens and they follow the smell of heat laced with heroin. The omega is too out of sorts to fight them off and he groans and writhes on a bit of soggy cardboard, in no condition to fend off unwanted attention.

Sherlock positions himself in front of the omega, and he’s outnumbered. It’s not a fight he can win, Sherlock calculated the odds. He considered letting it happen, but he’s high, bored, and itching for a fight. What the alphas have in brawn, Sherlock has in agility and quick-thinking on his feet.

Three of the alphas are out cold by the time Sherlock takes a fist to his temple and goes blind for a moment. A moment is all it takes, and he has fingers grasping into his too-large coat and the back of his head is being brought hard down against pavement.

Blue lights. Sirens. The omega’s toneless moans. Shouting.

It means nothing, the noises and sounds blend together and confuse Sherlock. He’s tired now, and would really like to close his eyes, but someone is popping his cheek. He’d unleash a string of profane language, if he could sort out how.

“Hey, hey, keep your eyes open, yeah? Ambulance will be here soon.”

“Nnn,” is Sherlock’s contribution to the matter.

“Really stupid thing you did. A great thing, but stupid. Those alphas would have ripped you limb from limb.”

Sherlock coughs weakly and closes his eyes.

----

 

Bright lights everywhere, he keeps his eyes closed because he knows when he opens them the shining will be worse.

Hospital, Sherlock thinks, sniffing the air. He hates hospitals. Full of disinfectant and screaming babies and sick people dying in their cots. Sherlock had pneumonia when he was seven, spent a week in the hospital. He was only awake for half of that week, the fever--

Sherlock’s eyes fly open, fingers immediately clawing at his IV.

“Woah, hold on!” A grey haired man leaps up from his chair in the corner of the room and rushes to Sherlock’s side. Sherlock doesn’t have time to look him over.

“How long have I been here,” there’s no window in the room and therefore no way to make a proper assessment. “How long?”

“Not even four hours, calm down.” The man sets a hand to Sherlock’s shoulder to still his jerking about. The IV is starting to dislodge, blood pools up around the site. “Just wait, just-- Look, you can trust me.” He holds a bit of reflective metal in his palm and he shows it to Sherlock.

“Trust you,” Sherlock snarls, finally giving his visitor a good look. “Approximately 39 years, detective inspector in Scotland Yard. Keen rugby player, probably interacted with a community league, but you don’t anymore. ACL injury? Less standing pressure on your right foot, seems likely. Take your coffee black, received an emergency call and spilled half the cup on your trousers. Bonded with one, no, two children.” Sherlock grabs the wrist and sniffs. Sniffs again.

Fascinating.

“How does a bonded omega with two children manage to climb the ranks at Scotland Yard?” It’s very nearly unheard of.

The omega grimaces, shrugs, “How does an omega with connections in Parliament end up high, fighting a group of alphas on some backstreet in Tottenham?”

Sherlock’s eyes narrow. “Who contacted you?”

Brown eyes are still wide at the stream of deductive information, but the omega male says nothing of it.

“Got a call last night from a Mycroft Holmes. Asked very nicely if I’d mind keeping his little brother from getting killed,” his accent is clipped. He pulls back the wrist, pockets his badge. “Don’t know how he got my number. Said my unit was the closest, and well.. There you were. You probably saved the omega’s life. That many rut minded alphas,” he shudders, “They would have swarmed him. Killed him while trying to fend off competition.”

“Yes, well,” Sherlock picks at the IV line, wriggles it, “I was bored. Seemed like an interesting way to end the night. Of course I didn’t exactly have this in mind.” He doesn’t really know what he thought. Probably would have been killed. Sherlock doesn’t consider why the concept should be more disturbing.

“I see,” the omega looks at the ground, “Name’s Lestrade.”

“Suppressants,” Sherlock says.

“Odd name.”

“Where are they?”

Lestrade looks around, holds his empty hands up, “I don’t know. How about we get you something to eat. Cleaned up.”

“Not interested,” Sherlock finally slides out the IV line, clamps his hand when blood begins to ooze, “Also, your alpha is entertaining an affair since you made the decision to go on suppressants as your career has gotten more demanding. She says she doesn’t resent it, you being more successful. It’s a lie.”

Lestrade’s mouth drops open, but Sherlock can see that the knowledge doesn’t come as a surprise.

“Can you do that with everything?” he asks instead.

“Of course,” Sherlock crawls on the floor, searches under the chair for his coat. Apparently it’s gone missing.

“You’d be handy at a crime scene.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agrees, then “Yes, I would.” Interesting thought. Worth further investigation. “I’ll be seeing you around in that case!” Sherlock calls as he walks out of his hospital room, into the hall. Nurses pass with their clipboards and mouths set into hard lines. The London air is cool on his skin.

He’ll need a new coat.

--------

 

Cocaine is tedious.

Or, rather, everyone’s reaction to Sherlock’s usage of cocaine is tedious. Mycroft sent his minions sneaking into Sherlock’s dreary flat in Hackney to clear out all traces of the drug. Again. Apparently, one alpha on the team has his own personal vendetta against suppressants and takes those as well during the sweep.

The last heat Sherlock had to go by, was years and years and years ago, that terrible day in the school’s courtyard. It’s doubtful his body would have stuck to that cycle as Sherlock matured, but it’s the only information ever obtained.

Sherlock misses one dose of the Phendrazemine.

He may or may not be due for a heat in approximately four days. It’s doubtful one missed pill will result in anything disastrous. Sherlock was sure to look up examples of omegas who took their suppressants with occasional irregularity, and 95% skipped oncoming heat regardless.

Sherlock isn’t one to play the odds in this arena.

Also, the door to his flat doesn’t lock, the owner of the property is an alpha of the worst sort, and he’s already come on to Sherlock once. Promised Sherlock lower rent in exchange for sexual favours.

Sherlock informed the man that he’d rip off his penis, light it on fire, and throw it in the Thames.

The next morning Sherlock is bursting through Mycroft’s front door and knocking over crystal vases, chairs, he claws a flat screen TV from the wall. Finally, he holds Mycroft’s work laptop hostage. Balances it out of a window on the palm of his hand and demands his brother fetch the suppressants, or procure some if Sherlock’s have been binned. A chemist won’t refill another prescription because it’s too early in the tablet cycle for Sherlock to be due for another blister pack. The regulations on suppressants have only gotten more strict.

“I haven’t witnessed a tantrum of this magnitude since you were a toddler. Could this have anything to do with the mood swings associated with substance withdrawal?” Mycroft’s eyes flick lazily to the laptop, back up to Sherlock as Mycroft sits back into a chair and plucks idly at a cuff. “Or would you care to be an adult and simply tell me why you seem so intent on destroying my flat?”

“I’ll drop it,” Sherlock snarls.

Mycroft laughs in that smug, infuriating way that never ceases to sear Sherlock’s nerves, “Whatever you feel you must do,” he says dismissively, “I have any pertinent information memorised.”

Sherlock grits his teeth. “One of your sycophants felt they were obligated to take more than--”

“The situation has been dealt with. The alpha in question has been… let go.”

“Suppressants,” Sherlock demands.

“Sobriety,” Mycroft counters.

“You wouldn’t,” Sherlock says, uncertain.

“Make you choose between heat, which won’t kill you, or drugs that will?” Mycroft laughs, “Yes, indeed I would.”

Sherlock considers the options.

Yes. Yes, cocaine is tedious. Lestrade also informed Sherlock three nights ago, that if Sherlock showed up at another crime scene, high off his rocker, that he’d arrest Sherlock. For the third time.

Sherlock said he didn’t even care. The cells are chock full of terrible people, and they hate Sherlock so intensely when he deduces their crimes, one by one.

Then Lestrade kicked him out of the crime scene, swore he’d keep doing it until Sherlock was clean.

The cases are so much better than the cocaine. Sherlock even started a blog. He went to Florida on a case. He smoked marijuana with a lovely old beta woman named Mrs. Hudson and had her husband sentenced to death row. He saw an alligator sit in the middle of an abandoned Shoney’s parking lot and it ate two gulls in one big gulp. Sherlock tried to the coax the thing into the bed of the pick up truck the rental agency had provided him. He wanted to examine the alligator’s eyelids.

It only lie there baking on the cracked cement, fat and content with its gulls. Disappointing, that. Otherwise it was all very exhilarating.

 

“Fine,” Sherlock says.

“I’ll be monitoring your progress. I’ll know--”

“Yes, yes, you’re very resourceful,” Sherlock mocks, tossing the laptop onto a chair. It bounces off the cushion and falls to the floor, it makes Sherlock smirk when Mycroft frowns.

“You’ll find everything you require back at that cesspool you like to call a flat.”

“I’ll be moving to Westminster, in a few months,” Sherlock settled it with Mrs. Hudson during his trip to Florida. It’s no cesspool, Sherlock has seen pictures. Broke into the flat after he returned home. “There’s an extra room if you should decide you want to mix it up with the peasants.”

Mycroft’s nose twitches in distaste, “Perhaps you ought to look for a flatmate instead,” then he laughs like the concept is simply that implausible.

“Your rooms seem just as empty,” Sherlock replies, looking around, “No omega to keep you company?”

Mycroft’s jaw clicks shut. They’re not so dissimilar after all.

-----

 

Molly Hooper brings Sherlock terrible coffee from the pot outside the lab. Her sweet omega smell is nearly completely covered by the odor of cadaver and various forensic chemicals. Possibly that’s the reason she’s having such an issue finding an alpha. She thinks Sherlock is a beta male, and she’s had some success in attracting those. (If one could count three dates in the past six months, and only one of those dates resulting in copulation, a success.) She spends heats alone.

Once, Sherlock asked how she tolerated it. Exactly what method of masturbation did she recommend. He was curious, the information could be very useful for The Work. He remembers, vividly, the bright red need, the desperate feeling of emptiness. Sherlock didn’t know what to do about it aside from frantically stuff himself with his fingers. He’s read that solo heats involve certain instruments, large sexual aids with false knots to simulate the experience.

He explained it to Molly, in detail, the things he’d read.

“Um.. Sherlock, that’s not…” Molly blushed, stammered. Was it an inappropriate question? “I tolerate..just uh, fine. I’m used to it by now.” Her cheeks stained further.

“You could easily find a partner for heats,” Sherlock tried to explain. Molly’s smile brightened. “Just stand on a street corner and waft yourself about and I’m sure an alpha would come along.” He patted her shoulder. Sherlock could be comforting when he wanted to be. If he’s nice to Molly, she rewards him with hacked off bits of bodies.

Her smile fell. Dull brown hair falling across her eyes. “No, that’s… I’d just rather spend it with someone I care about.”

“You’re saving yourself for a bondmate? Archaic notion, in this day and age.” Alphas and omegas couple in heats and depart without another word, from what Sherlock has seen in general. Sometimes, they don’t even know each other’s names. Alphas just leave out, not concerned whether the omega was on some form of birth control. Unbonded omegas with offspring are terribly common now. Continuity of the species and all that rot.

“I’m worth just as much as any alpha. I’m more than reproductive organs.” Molly murmured, walking away with her steel dish full of kidneys.

 

She’s done quite well for herself, managed to obtain her doctorate and find work despite not being on suppressants. Sherlock can see the constant struggle to find her place has taken its toll on her self esteem, however. She can be as meek as a church mouse. Sherlock would feel ashamed of taking advantage of her favour, but Sherlock is a high-functioning sociopath and free from the obligation of caring if he chooses.

Molly still brings Sherlock bad coffee.

------

 

Mike Stamford: He brings Sherlock something so much better.

Wonderful, fat, brilliant, beta Mike Stamford. He can’t run more than a third of a kilometer on a treadmill without wheezing. Sherlock could resurrect a monument in his name.

He’d only informed Mike Stamford just that morning that he had given up the search for a flatmate. Sherlock didn’t even attempt to ask anyone at all, because what’s the point?

“Piss off,” they would say, either before or after they had informed Sherlock that he was a freak. Which is fine, everyone is boring anyways.

John Watson isn’t boring at all.

John Watson is a doctor and a soldier, he invaded Afghanistan, got himself shot through the shoulder and has a psychosomatic limp that his psychiatrist has misdiagnosed. John Watson has a drunk for an omega brother (sister, oh damn) and he wants to go look at crime scenes and dead omegas in pink, and he’s got blonde hair and his eyes are dark and blue and he smells like aged violin rosin and cedar, and calls Sherlock brilliant. Amazing. Fantastic. It’s hardly even an issue that he’s an unbonded alpha, because he’s much different than the other ones Sherlock has met.

Are you quite sure an unbonded alpha is a wise choice for a flatmate
-M

Piss off -SH

For extra measure, Sherlock texts Mycroft back a series of carefully crafted swears, and reiterates that he should mind his own business, because that’s so dull.

 

“So you have a beta friend, then?” John asks while Sherlock waits for a serial murderer to turn up.

“No, not really my area,” Sherlock answers, distracted.

“Oh,” John says, like he’s realised something, “You prefer.. Alphas? Omegas? Which is fine. Both is fine. Good, even,” John babbles.

Sherlock can’t figure out what John is asking, his wording is very imprecise and Sherlock isn’t sure if the statement requires Sherlock to respond. So he says nothing, just in case.

 

John shoots a cabbies before the night is over. Shoots a cabbie with the clean precision of marksman, and Sherlock is fairly certain he’d chosen the correct pill, but John couldn’t have known that.

The cabbie was a serial murderer anyways, and when he bled out on the cold floor with the ugly tiles, the world was better for it. John did everyone a favour by dispatching him so efficiently.

“You’re an idiot,” John tells him, and it sounds glorious. If Sherlock wants to bury his nose in the crook of John’s neck and nuzzle there, it seems like a perfectly normal compulsion and Sherlock doesn’t think to question it at all.

Sherlock doesn’t understand why it is that something heats up, becomes igneous and bright inside of his chest when John looks at him.

-----

John is terrible and Sherlock hates him.

He’s constantly leaving Sherlock alone in 221B to go on dates with boring beta females. Omegas are much harder to come by, and Sherlock is comforted by the thought for some bizarre reason or another. Sherlock leaves open cambros filled with sheep livers and ovaries in the refrigerator next to John’s leftover risotto in an act of spite. Surely this will convince John to stop leaving. Just look at what happens when he’s gone, the messes Sherlock makes! Sherlock can’t be trusted with the simple issues of sanitation.

John only sighs, points his finger at Sherlock, “Clean it up.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes and enumerates the countless, false, reasons he’s made up that it is of utmost importance that the organs stay exactly there. Uncovered and rotting. John says he doesn’t care. Says, “Fine, bloody leave it. Let it contaminate the food. The food we actually eat. See if I care.”

Eventually Sherlock is forced to bleach the entire refrigerator after the rancid smell drives Mrs. Hudson and John from the flat. John being gone is awful enough, add in Mrs. Hudson and the silence is unbearable.

 

It still doesn’t stop Sherlock from interrupting John while he’s on dates, especially the ones that seem more sexually promising. Sherlock learns his lesson with The Dog Groomer One. John comes back nearly a day later smelling all wrong. Sherlock can’t think straight for the smell of John’s unwashed body having been inside another person.

He walks into the flat, sated and reeking of sex, and Sherlock goes ballistic. He feels rightly justified in the matter. After two hours of wailing violin notes being sent across the flat, shouting at John every time he dares speak, and hiding both John’s laptop and mobile at the bottom of Mrs. Hudson’s bins while John showers, John’s fuse finally meets its end.

“What the hell is wrong with you!” John yells.

Sherlock snarls and stalks away, because John is an imbecile and it should be obvious. Sherlock doesn’t like it when John goes off and comes back smelling like other people. It’s hateful, that smell. Later Sherlock sneaks the jumper, vest, jeans, and pants John wore on his little romp out of the laundry. He burns them all in a tin pail, outside on the front stoop.

A police officer is called to the scene, where Sherlock patiently explains that John Watson fucked a beta female and brought the scent back to their flat. He brought the scent back to their flat and Sherlock wants it gone!

Mrs. Hudson hears Sherlock explaining all of this from past the door, down the hall, and into her bedroom. She pours water over the burned clothes and apologises to the officer for breaking some ordinance or law that Sherlock is unaware of, and could honestly not care less about.

Were you always so mawkish, brother? I had no idea.
-M

Sherlock doesn’t give Mycroft the satisfaction of a response. He’s sure to find cases and distractions and literally anything at all when John makes another sex-date with the beta.

Soon John stops calling her at all. She tells John he has to choose between her, or Sherlock.

Sherlock is more important.

John sits on the sofa with re-heated stir fry, picking idly at carrots and candle corns, watches a World War II documentary. Sherlock pushes the coffee table out of the way, spreads out on the floor, sorts through several different analyses on the soil compositions throughout London. Slowly, Sherlock makes his way across the space between his belly and John’s feet. Eventually, when John is engrossed in the utter failure of the commissioned Maus tank, and his tongue is protruding, pressed against his bottom lip in concentration: Sherlock makes his move. He lies across John’s socked feet so he can’t get up, can’t move without Sherlock knowing.

“Uh,” John says, “Sherlock, what--” he wriggles his toes, the flutter of movement makes Sherlock’s stomach flip inexplicably.

“Sh, I’m trying to read,” Sherlock scolds, resting more of his weight against John’s shins.

John is tense for another couple minutes, then relaxes, because Sherlock is doing a Sherlock thing, and there’s no point in fighting it.

 

Eventually one foot pulls up to rest on the small of Sherlock’s back like it’s an ottoman. Every twitch of a toe feels like a stroke and Sherlock finds it baffling, and soothing, and he falls asleep.

He wakes up in the night, drooling on “Hampstead Soil Profile” and a blanket covering him up. John snores softly above, lying across the sofa. One hand has fallen off the side, so close that if Sherlock moved just a few centimeters inward, fingers dangling would be fingers in Sherlock’s hair.

----

 

Sherlock wants to know everything about John. His favourite colour (Blue. Predictable.) John has a food allergy to shellfish, and it’s annoying because now Sherlock has to lean over the bar when they go out for sushi to ensure cross-contamination does not occur. The chefs shout at him and Sherlock doesn’t care. John says it’s not serious, “Bit of a skin reaction is all,” and that itself is unthinkable.

Sherlock carries a hypodermic needle, just in case.

John likes jam, prefers dark lagers and pinots, urinates approximately once every four hours. John sings and it’s clear and pleasant, and sometimes he sings an old Scottish lullaby. Ba Mo Leanabh. He wonders who taught John the song. Perhaps his drunk, Scottish father. It doesn’t seem likely. Sherlock knows from his own experience with an alcoholic parent.

Sherlock doubts John knows the translation, perhaps if he did he’d be less keen to sing it during morning laundry.

Darling, the people of the great world
They spilled your blood yesterday
They put your head on an oaken post
A little way from your corpse
I breathlessly climbed the great mountain
I climbed and descended
I would put the hair of my head under your feet
And the skin of my two hands

The romantic brutality doesn’t matter when the lilt of John in song fills the room.

John has an unconscious habit of lip licking. The lip licking, the lip licking, the lip licking, the consistently of it drives Sherlock mad.

Sherlock has to search about for all the good bits, though. Better than any case. He delves in John’s history and there’s so many fractures, but Sherlock has always excelled at piecing together puzzles. John’s last rut with an omega was during his deployment. Their Dari translator’s suppressants had been held too long in customs, the country they occupied forbid the distribution of Phendrazemine.

The omega male had given consent prior to the onset of heat, arrangements had been made, leave had been taken.

Sherlock didn’t need any more information regarding that.

Everything else is much less straightforward. Evidence of a single-mother household, female beta, alpha male father. Both John and his sister were a result of a rut spent with the same omega, only two years apart. The father left out when they were very young. Aside from an arrest record for public drunkenness, and domestic violence, once, in a tiny cottage in Viewpark, there’s no other sign of the man. There are pictures of the omega he’d taken a hand to, the bright chestnut brown of her eyes encircled by a violet bruise and swelling. Sherlock thinks that perhaps papa Watson is dead and buried, might as well be for all John seems to care. He doesn’t talk about him at all. John told Sherlock, explicitly, never to say his father’s name.

Of course Alphas don’t require municipal registration, but Harry’s presentation of omega is in clear print. She was young, younger than Sherlock had been, only thirteen years old, presented in the middle of the day while she and John played in a village park. Both she and John wound up in the hospital. Harry for being swarmed by no less than seven alphas drawn out from the surrounding area, John for trying to cover her and protect his sister with his body. He was only eleven.

Sherlock considers, for the first time, that he was lucky.

“Why did you throw yourself over her?” Sherlock asks John one morning over tea and toast, poached eggs with broiled tomatoes.

John pauses with the lip of his mug situated between his lips, caught by surprise over Sherlock’s question. Perhaps Sherlock should have explained that he’d performed in depth research as to the nature of John’s past, before asking.

John, wonderful John, seems to understand. He sighs in that patient, long-suffering way that he uses to let Sherlock know he’s done something askew within the questionable area of tactfulness. “She was my sister. I couldn’t let them--” John’s eyes flick toward the tabletop, “It shouldn’t be like that. Just taking and taking, and acting like there’s no control over it.”

Sherlock studies John for a moment, the stubborn set of his chin, eyes shocking and blue and angry. His hair still damp and slick from showering, the perfunctory combing that followed. “You’re resentful of your gender.”

“I’m resentful of the disparity between genders,” John corrects. “I don’t feel entitled to anyone’s body. Just because I’m an alpha, everyone seems to expect me to adhere to the stereotypes. I’m just supposed to scent out a heat and what? Shove my knot into someone?”

Sherlock’s stomach flips in its place, plummets downward, blush rises high and pink on his cheeks.

“I’m not completely rut minded. Alpha, beta, omega, they’re all just people. Why shouldn’t they be treated the same? My sister isn’t second class to me.” John clears his throat and looks steadfastly at the newspaper, “You’re..” He never finishes.

“I’m what?”

“Stereotypes just don’t apply. Not to you, they don’t.” John smiles. Sherlock loves it when John smiles for him. So bright and honest and only for Sherlock to see.

After a while, John scrapes the tines of his fork through the middle of his plate. Metal and against ceramic, shrill to Sherlock’s ears. “They say the omega should be relieved. Harry was terrified. I’ll never forget the sounds she--” John shakes his head and rises up from his seat. “Harry never really was the same. She drank more and more. She met Clara, and I thought-- I don’t know-- she’d get better. She did, for awhile. Clara is an omega too, you know. Of course you know. I remember when she moved in with Clara, they started getting bricks thrown through the windows. Queer, in permanent marker written across.” John shakes his head. “No one deserves that. No one cared whether or not she was happier.”

“You spent a rut with a male omega while in Afghanistan.”

John’s fingers clench around the mug, the flesh around the beds of his nails turning white. “Daniel. Yes. I..”

“You were close.”

“Yes,” John’s answer is a whisper.

“He was killed in action,” Sherlock surmises by the expression on John’s face.

John meets Sherlock’s eyes, expression inscrutable in a way it rarely is. He nods. “Blown to bits right in front of me. Nothing I could have done.”

“Would you have bonded with him?” The only thing Sherlock can feel for the dead omega is a surge of jealousy. Sherlock studies John’s face for a moment, “No. You wouldn’t have, ultimately. But you considered the possibility.”

John never answers, takes the plates from the table, runs the tepid water over them.

-------

 

“Sherlock, we need to discuss something,” Mycroft has shown up at the flat, uninvited. Per usual for a Tuesday afternoon, John has popped over to Sainsbury’s for steaks, and milk, and brussel sprouts, and Sherlock hopes these are not all things John expects him to eat.

Sherlock hates steak. It’s like eating blood that has a chewy texture. Inevitably, he thinks of the milk cows that pastured behind his childhood home, outgrown their use as breeders and led to slaughter.

Also, brussel sprouts shouldn’t even be classified as edible.

“The MHRA is recalling Phendrazemine, and all other brands of suppressants.”

Sherlock’s mind staggers to a halt. One minute, the inedibility of brussel sprouts; the next minute, a kink in his precarious existence. Sherlock blinks, stares, blinks again. “Pardon?”

“At the end of the month, they’re halting manufacture of the substance. The news of it should break by week’s end. Suppressants won’t even be available to anyone willing to pay in order to bypass the prohibition. I’ve already looked into it.” He smiles placatingly, like he’s done Sherlock a favour by trying to throw a bit of money at the drug company.

“For what reason?”

“For all the reasons you’d suspect. Prolonged exposure has been linked directly to compromised glandular function, high blood pressure, pulmonary embolism,” Mycroft pauses and examines the way his fingers clasp around the handle of his umbrella. “Irreparable damage to the reproductive matrix, resulting in infertility.”

Sherlock barks out a laugh, bitter, “That’s all they care about, though, isn’t it. How many offspring an omega can produce in the thirty some odd years worth of heats.”

“Sherlock,” Mycroft sighs, “This isn’t some simple issue. The continuity of the species--”

“I don’t care one whit about the species. Species go extinct every day. Why don’t they recall contraceptives in that case? Hm? You just want us all dripping and writhing, and out of your work places, into your beds, your kitchens, pressing your suits. I think I’ve heard enough of the Alpha Agenda for time being, good day Mycroft.”

Mycroft stands considering, he runs a finger over the single picture John brought into the flat. A cheap brass frame. John and Harry posed together in Christmas jumpers as children, enclosed behind the glass. “Have you considered your plans?”

“Have you considered the paleo diet? I hear it works wonders.”

“John assumes you’re beta.”

“Most people do.” If people want to be inobservant fools in regards to Sherlock’s gender, so be it. He benefits from their ignorance on a daily basis. It would be so easy for Sherlock to leave his license lying idly on the bench, the red “O” underneath his name. How would John respond?

“Perhaps you ought to inform him. As a precaution. Unless of course you want to spend--”

Sherlock grabs for the remote and turns the volume up on the telly as loud as it will go. Mycroft rolls his eyes.

“I’ll prepare a location for you, when the time comes,” Mycroft shouts over the mid-day news reports, “Let me know if you change your mind.”

Sherlock considers retrieving his chainsaw from underneath his bed.

----

 

John comes home, bags in hand, wincing at the noise because Sherlock never turned down the telly.

“All right, Sherlock?” He calls out to where Sherlock is lying across the sofa, fingers steepled under his chin. He can’t move. Can’t turn the volume down, because right now it’s drowning out the thinking, and Sherlock is afraid if the thinking comes back, there will be room for the panic as well.

Sherlock doesn’t answer. He watches the line of John’s back out of the corner of his eye as brussel sprouts are dumped into boiling water. The back of John’s neck glistens with the lightest sheen of sweat just above the collar. It’s summer and outside the pavement is burning to the touch. John still wears a jumper, and it’s a wonder he hasn’t caught sunstroke.

The sandy blonde hairs at John’s nape curl ever so slightly with the humidity. The hair there is darker than the rest, damp. His skin must be sweltering under that striped jumper. Sweat accumulating, sliding like a raindrop on glass, slithering down his spine. Must be. Heat is treacherous, in all of its forms. Something twinges, aches, in the back of Sherlock’s mind with the knowledge of it.

Sherlock allows himself to be distracted by the sight, gives into a rare moment where Sherlock isn’t required to be brilliant or solve.

He’ll just lie here and look. Sherlock will watch and observe and when he’s done with that, he’ll figure out what’s next.

----

 

“Can you believe this,” John gestures angrily at the beta woman on the television as she broadcasts the news of suppressant prohibition. “Fucking ridiculous.”

“It’s been linked to several debilitating health conditions,” Sherlock’s voice is flat in his own ears.

“I know, but still. It’s more than that, isn’t it.” John scowls, one hand scrubbing at the stubble on his cheek.

Now is the perfect opportunity. Sherlock should tell him, for the sake of full disclosure.

Sherlock doesn’t.

 

He makes an appointment for an annual examination with a doctor who specialises in omega care. Sherlock stands outside the door to the clinic, he smokes five cigarettes and doesn’t even begin to think about why it is that a tendril of anxiety unfurls its wretched fingers as he looks at the glass door. Dr. Jiang Liu, GYN adhering to the pane in bold letters, white and smirking at Sherlock like teeth to chew him up. It looks crowded inside, every chair filled up, fearful omegas with their backs plastered against the walls. Sherlock can smell them. The door is locked. He’ll have to sound the buzzer to be let in. Alphas pass the door, early heat seeps through the cracks under the door. They cough awkwardly, and adjust their belts as they trudge onward.

He smokes another cigarette.

Someone shouts at him because he isn’t supposed to be standing on the side street and chain smoking cigarettes.

Sherlock never even lifts his finger to press the buzzer.

-----

 

Sherlock goes through all of his old dealer contacts, because surely some unsavory pharmacist somewhere gathered stock of all the suppressants and is hoarding them for a price.

Surely a widely distributed drug doesn’t simply disappear overnight.

“Sorry mate, I need them too. Even if I did know where to get em’, I’d be the one buying em’.”

“You deal in illegal substances, who cares if you go into heat,” Sherlock says spitefully. “Have a child, receive the Single Omega Family stipend. I think it’d be better than this.” He looks around Wren’s hovel, the shabby mess that it is.

She bristles and removes a tiny bag of white powder from between her cleavage, which seems like a convenient place to hide such paraphernalia and Sherlock only has pockets.

“I should bring a kid into this?” She jiggles the bag and Sherlock can clearly see the track marks on her arm, “So I can be like my own Mam, who sold her heats and let me starve if it meant another hit?” She laughs and Sherlock purses his lips at the hollow sound of it. “We’re not all fit to be bred.”

 

Sherlock’s remaining blister package of suppressants runs out. He takes the last pill, downs it with water, and looks at the empty bit of plastic, the foil that covered each individual dose is burst open.

The thing rustles, scrapes against his fingertips when Sherlock throws it into the bin. He covers it with an old banana peel just in case John decides to have an impromptu snoop.

Of course John doesn’t.

Sherlock continues searching through old contacts for access to Phendrazemine. He looks into manufacturing his own, and is immediately confronted with the impossibility of that option. He hasn’t the materials needed, and while he’s a chemist, he isn’t bloody GlaxoSmithKline.

The month goes by slowly, like time has deliberately taken up a sluggardly march in order to put Sherlock in as much suspense as possible.

John says Sherlock is acting on edge, tells him to settle down and read something nice and calming about necrotizing fasciitis. Sherlock enumerates to John each and every method in which Sherlock could eviscerate him, his voice growing gradually more frantic in the process. He gestures about, mimics a vivisection, John looks up from his laptop and watches Sherlock’s darting hands.

When Sherlock finishes, he feels better.

“Well, that was informative,” John begins typing on his laptop.

Sherlock hates how easy it is for John.

----

 

June ends, Sherlock has been an entire month without suppressants. No one scents after him. There’s no symptoms of oncoming heat, such as odd food cravings, mood swings, frequent bowel voiding. Nothing out of the ordinary, or Sherlock’s version of it.

Sherlock keeps taking cases.

Lestrade is absent during a particularly perplexing series of murders where the victims’ teeth had been collected and heads shaved and it was all quite invigorating. Sherlock is forced to work with Dimmock who yips at Sherlock’s heels like a big dumb dog, and John has work at the clinic. There’s no one here that Sherlock likes.

“For godssake, leave me alone and get Lestrade,” Sherlock says when he’s finally had enough of Dimmock and his insincerity, his boring beta smell.

“Can’t. He’s taken time off.”

“What for? What’s more important that four dead bodies missing teeth and hair?”

Dimmock grimaces and looks uncomfortable, and oh.

Sherlock sends Lestrade a text that evening after John has gotten off work and they’ve caught a murderer.

Solved your serial murder case. -SH

You’re welcome. -SH

Caught him in an empty Pizza Express with a necklace made of teeth and a wig composed of six different types of hair. Fairly certain he was mad. He claimed to be performing a ritual sacrifice to summon an occult deity. -SH

Is a Pizza Express the typical location for ritual practises? Seems a bit distracting. -SH

John accidentally knocks a glass cup over in the sink. It clinks loudly but doesn’t break. He’ll take a shower, the way he usually does after good cases. Sherlock likes to prolong that period of John after a case, the adrenaline spiking the pheromone markers and lingering. Intoxicating. Sherlock wonders if John might welcome Sherlock’s nose at the crook of his throat.

Perhaps not. Typically such gestures are counted as scenting, and only those intent on mating would do that.

Is it awful? Sherlock texts but doesn’t send.

----

 

Sherlock finds a source. He has to go all the way to Aberdeen to meet him, and pays over 700 quid, but he walks away with a foil blister pack. Yellow and blue paint coated pills are encapsulated by plastic, the colours denoting different dosages.

He fights the urge to take one then and there, habit and fear of the unknown pinching at his nerves, but he waits.

There was a news report just last week of omegas procuring what they thought were suppressants and instead were sold heat inducers, a medication given to omegas who experienced irregular heats, resulting in Oligoovulation. Definitely the exact opposite of what Sherlock needs. The pills were coated, chiseled to look like suppressants, and packaged in the same material.

It hadn’t worked out for those omegas, and Sherlock should like to avoid being covered in thorough fanfare and ravaged in the middle of his flight back to Heathrow.

He fidgets on the flight, fingers thumping against his thigh as an attendant offers him ginger ale and crisps. Sherlock left while it was early and still dark out, John has been texting him all day, worried. Then angry. Last Sherlock was able to check, anger had given away to acceptance.

Hopefully you’re not dead or anything. Arse. Leave a note, next time.

Sherlock looked at the text messages and re-read them over and over. By now, John will have gone off to work at the clinic. Thrown on his button down and khakis, strung that awful tie around his neck, and Sherlock will be waiting for John when he gets home.

The jet hits an air current and rocks. Sherlock closes his eyes.

----

 

Sherlock crushes a pill, sets it on a slide to be put under the microscope. Sherlock will be able to identify the compounds and be sure he received a legitimate suppressant. He fights down the feeling of trepidation when he begins adjusting the focus, and looks.

Right away, he notices the cubic pattern.

Sugar crystals. Crushed and compacted into pill form. Useless. Utterly useless unless Sherlock is suffering from hypoglycemia, which he isn’t. A Benedict’s reagent test confirms the presence of glucose, the solution in the vial turns brick red and Sherlock breaks the thing in the sink.

He scrabbles to get the slide from underneath the stage, throws it against the wall. It doesn’t even have the decency to shatter, and it only serves to infuriate Sherlock more. He shoves the microscope away and it clatters onto its side. He immediately regrets taking out his temper on the microscope and hurriedly sets it back upright and ensures he hasn’t broken any of the fixtures.

 

John returns home to Sherlock methodically breaking every glass cup from their cabinet. One by one he throws them against the wall of his bedroom and glee rises up in his chest with every gratifying shatter.

“What the hell has gotten into you!” John shouts, gesturing as the mess, at Sherlock. Sherlock sits cross legged at the end of his bed and throws John’s favourite mug at the wall. The boring, black one with no words or pictures painted onto it, and Sherlock hates it. He hates everything right now. The mug’s handle goes flying off into the corner where Sherlock has let dust gather into a filthy heap.

Sherlock snatches up a fine bone china teacup Mrs. Hudson had left in their flat, he hooks his pinky finger through the handle and rears back.

“No, you don’t,” John crosses the room with alarming speed and his fingers close over the column of Sherlock’s wrist. “Break every bloody mug in the flat, but leave Mrs. Hudson’s china alone. She’ll put it on the rent and--”

Sherlock can’t stand how John seems so completely unsurprised and calm and Sherlock doesn’t want calm! He wants John’s bad temper and his angry voice, and John’s hand is still clasped around Sherlock’s wrist and Sherlock wonders where else he can get John to put his hands.

Sherlock jerks, elbow coming up and wrestling from John’s grasp, but John follows. He begins reaching out to keep Sherlock still in order to get the cup. One hand around the wrist, the other flat against Sherlock’s shoulder. Sherlock flails, doesn’t even bother with efficiency or coordination, he just jerks and flops and flings himself backward onto the bed.

It has the expected result. Sherlock’s backward momentum makes John pitch forward, over and on top of him, and Sherlock has no idea why he was aiming for that at all. Now that he has it, he isn’t sure what to do with it. John’s breath rushes out as he shifts on top of him. He can feel where John has both of Sherlock’s hands pinned up above his head, baring his torso. Sherlock’s t-shirt has gotten rucked up over his navel and John’s eyes flick down and back up, slowly. Sherlock fights the sudden urge to tilt up his chin, expose his neck in an act of submission.

He wants to. He wants to, though.

Sherlock tries to slow his panting, from exertion, from the weight of John resting against him. John stares possessively at Sherlock’s throat. He sniffs a few times.

“John, what--” Sherlock begins, with no idea how to end the sentence once it’s begun.

“Right,” John closes his eyes for a moment, shaking his head and snapping back into himself. “So,” he climbs off of Sherlock in a hurry, Sherlock stays lying still and cold in exactly the same position John left him. “So, no more of this.” He gathers the three cups and two mugs still intact. “Clean that up before you slice a foot open.” John clears his throat and flees the room, slamming the door shut.

Sherlock slowly lifts his wrist to his nose and inhales deeply. Aside from the overlie of John’s scent, Sherlock smells like a neutral gender. Of course it’s difficult, sometimes, to scent oneself.

Sherlock fingers trail down his chest, the concave of his belly. He stops at the band of his pyjama pants. His skin feels flushed, and he’s tempted to reach down and touch himself like he rarely feels the need. It’s usually such a chore. Sherlock can’t really come from external stimulus alone. It usually involves fingers and writhing to find the right spot, and Sherlock never knows what to think about.

Masturbation is tedious.

Sometimes.

Sherlock can still clearly feel the sensation of being pinned down, stretched, John’s fingers clamped of the protrusion of his carpusses. Sherlock turns over onto his belly, shoves his hand down his pants and, oh, he’s wet. Sherlock had wondered.

For a moment: Panic. He does a quick assessment of his body, and no, he’s not experiencing heat symptoms It’s just simple arousal. A physical response to stimuli and--

“Ah,” Sherlock pants in surprise when one finger slips inside easily. He lifts his hips and bares down a little.

John’s scent is still thick in the room, the fight or flight response always makes his glands overproduce pheromones. John’s transport’s habit of mixing desire and fighting adrenaline. Sherlock has smelled it often during cases where they’ve narrowly escaped harm’s way.

John locks himself in the shower and masturbates afterward. He can’t possibly think Sherlock’s nose is so useless as to not to pick that up. As if it weren’t obvious by the high flush on John’s cheeks, eyes still dark and hooded and he’s careful not to touch Sherlock when Sherlock insinuates himself closer to get a whiff.

Two fingers inside, he pumps them in and out, wrist rotating all about to find the right place that always makes Sherlock breathe steady and hard into the mattress. Sherlock licks at his bottom lip in concentration.

John in the shower, hair drenched dark, fucking his hands. What does John imagine up for himself, all hard and gasping, surrounded by the water and steam? Does it remind him of his last rut? Would it really be so terrible, to go into heat if John was there to take care of him?
Sherlock strokes over and around the spot, his eyes squeeze shut as he imagines John. He’s so wet, slicked nearly to his wrist as he fingers himself. He usually gives up by now, or gets distracted by more pressing matters. At the moment, the most important thing Sherlock can think of is getting off.

John drenched and consumed by the heat, an omega bent over at the hips. John would dig his fingers into the hollows of Sherlock’s waist, slam into him over and over until it felt like being split in half so good. Sherlock would beg for a knot, he knows this much from his singular experience with heat. John would know exactly what Sherlock needs, like he always does, and give it to him. That’s why John is there at all, he makes everything so much easier. He’d probably tell Sherlock such wonderful things, call Sherlock sweet names, and Sherlock would like that a lot. John would mark Sherlock up, cover him in owning bruises, bite him, flip Sherlock over and breed him and he’d, he, and--

Sherlock eyes fly open at the thought, and immediately he’s trying to withdraw the image, but it’s too late. A finger twitches and Sherlock is having to bury his face into a pillow, coming, John’s name inexplicably caught on his lips as he shouts it out.

He breathes raggedly, heart still beating rapid like the wings of a tiny bird in his chest. There’s a damp spot where he ejaculated in his pants. Sherlock’s fingers slip out with a wet sound and he grimaces.

He should most definitely delete that fantasy. It’s inappropriate and terribly confusing, and should never be revisited.

Instead, Sherlock’s mind unhelpfully supplies the image of the silvered scar of John’s bond bite peaking up from underneath his collar. Sherlock has estimated John’s bite circumference before, and his fantasy is a reflection of Sherlock’s constant battle toward accuracy.

Or perhaps, this is sentiment. It always seems to slip past Sherlock’s collected and analytical borders in regard to John.

People kill and hurt in the name of sentiment, Sherlock has seen it. They sit on the chaise lounge and drink themselves in a stupor to block out the feel of it. It’s frightening.

Sherlock slides in a heap out of bed, his pants are sticky and growing cold, Sherlock’s unease sits heavy on his shoulders. He stumbles over to his wardrobe, and feels the sickening sensation of the skin at the arch of his foot being sliced open. Sherlock hisses in agitation, has to use his fingers to pick out the shard of broken glass. He’s only himself to blame.

 

----

 

Four months without suppressants, and Sherlock has yet to succumb to a heat. Each month feels like he’s dodged a bullet. Sherlock has dodged bullets before, he would know.

After the sixth month, Sherlock’s panic abates. It doesn’t disappear, but it doesn’t distract Sherlock constantly with the unwelcome suspense.

He reads multiple studies of omega’s reproductive cycle being irrevocably altered with prolonged exposure to suppressants.

Twenty-Three percent sustained permanent biological damage. The haploid reproductive cells are diminished by malfunction of the gonads, resulting in infertility and premature disruption of oestrus. Twenty percent report the complete stoppage of heat cycles after the first six months of discontinuing a suppressant regimen.

Twenty percent. He can live with that statistic.

Sherlock closes the tab where he’s reading the article when John walks past, grumbling and holding a bucketful of mud that Sherlock had forgotten to remove from the tub. It seemed like a good spot to grow flora. Sherlock planted Atropa belladonna. He had let the faucet drip water slowly into the bucket, keeping it fed. Belladonna plants require a moist, temperate environment, and limestone rich soil. The loo seemed the perfect place.

Except Sherlock forgot about it and now the limestone rich soil is just a sticky bucket of muck.

Oh bother.

Sherlock watches John dump the mud into a plastic bag, then bin the whole mess.

“Stop growing poisons in the fucking bathtub,” John mumbles, licking at his lips.

The bottom lip is glossy with saliva now, and the sight of it makes something contract in Sherlock’s throat, halts whatever sarcastic quip he was going to retaliate with. Instead he emits a vague squeaking sound, a result of breath being inhaled in such an awkward fashion.

John furrows his brow at Sherlock, watches him like he might sprout an extra head, because that is not a noise that Sherlock Holmes makes.

Sherlock clears his throat and acts like it didn’t happen.

He doesn’t feel even the tiniest sliver of disappointment when he considers not having the option of breeding with John.

He’s not disappointed at all.

Not even a little.

Not even when John looks at Sherlock and the way his eyes move across Sherlock’s face temporarily assuages the terrifying vacuity in Sherlock’s gut.

---

 

Sherlock should have planned for this.

He should have seen the damn doctor that day rather than smoking through a pack of cigarettes.

Instead, Sherlock ignores the symptoms. Writes the mood changes off as natural, a part of his already mercurial nature. John says Sherlock is being, “Awful, reprehensible,” and to Sherlock’s bafflement, he has to fight the utterly perplexing urge to burst into a sudden fit of tears and he flees the room in a strop. The air is like sanding paper against his skin and it isn’t Sherlock’s fault that everything in the world insists on being so tedious.

The irritable bowel is obviously a result of too much coffee during a case, only to be smothered in Jalfrezi curry when Sherlock finally does eat at the case’s conclusion.

John sniffs the air as Sherlock tumbles out of his bedroom in the morning, his eyes clench shut and John shakes his head like he’s trying to convince himself of something.

If Sherlock’s cheeks seem flushed, it’s only because Summer is beginning to set in and the season always did test the very limits of Sherlock’s tolerance.

“I don’t know, because the earth orbits the sun,” John explains impatiently when Sherlock whinges on and on about why the seasons insist on changing.

The answer enrages Sherlock and he would delete it immediately, if only he could. He can’t seem to rid himself of anything John says, and Sherlock has no use for astronomical facts! He tells John as much, shouts it at him, really.

“No use? But you’re a part of the universe, you’re in it, living in it. How is that not important?”

He blocks out John’s voice, watches his mouth, the way smiles curl into the corners, John’s straight teeth and the sharpness of the cuspids. He wants them pressed hard against his throat. He thinks it might make him feel better.

Sherlock snarls where he’s curled up into himself on the sofa. He doesn’t tell John about how Father told him a long time ago that the Alpha and the Omega pull at each other like gravity, as inevitable as the tide rising. If the omega is the lonely moon brought into orbit, the alpha is the Sun eclipsing it all, binding the vacuum of space together.

Sherlock told father the universe was bollocks and that he hoped it collapsed under the weight of its own ego.

The sun, the moon, planets, solar systems. It meant nothing to Sherlock then.

With John sitting across from Sherlock wearing his red button down and the Summer afternoon beaming bisque into the ash blonde of John’s hair; Sherlock is unsure.

 

Sherlock wakes up the next morning with a low grade temperature, his sheets all kicked away because they felt so stifling. John opens his mouth to say something when Sherlock drags himself out of bed and sits in a flushed heap at their table, but then Lestrade calls and it’s forgotten.

----

 

The burglaring of the new Monet exhibit at the London Museum, a single footprint outlined in chalky dust, a murdered security guard, and a hysterical beta curator.

The clues lead them across London, and back to square one. Sherlock takes out his pocket magnifier and begins examining every nook and cranny of the exhibit. The line of his brow is damp, not disgusting with sweat, but damp nonetheless. Blue paint chips, rust on the underside, here in the corner. That should be familiar to Sherlock, but he can’t think of why.

Sherlock is having difficulty keeping a comprehensive train of thought, John keeps asking him if he’s all right and of course Sherlock is all right! He has a case, and doesn’t John find it odd that the curator had rust around his nails? Out of place. Indeed.

“It’s stifling in here,” Sherlock grumbles in annoyance, pulling at the collar of his shirt. “I thought museums were supposed to stay cold.” He wants to take off his clothes, lie down on the cool floor. Pull John down and on top of him, and wouldn’t that be lovely? To writhe on a cold floor, naked, with John? Wouldn’t that be---

Wrong. Oh this is..

John shrugs and subconsciously gathers closer to Sherlock when an alpha security guard
passes by and does a double take in Sherlock’s direction. He turns back to walking his circuit when John frowns. Something warm and electric creeps up the base of Sherlock’s spine, and his stomach twinges for a moment, a dull cramp, and John is just so close. Sherlock sways toward him, pocket magnifier clattering unceremoniously to the marbled floor. Sherlock can feel something warm, viscous, it soaks slowly into the seat of his pants.

Sherlock finally finally cups his palm over John’s ear and draws him closer to nose at his throat.

“That’s brilliant, how are you doing that,” Sherlock asks, darts his tongue out, just the soft tip, and touches it to John’s skittering pulse. Sherlock sighs happily, because oh perfect, it’s so perfect, Sherlock knew it would be. He continues nuzzling John’s neck, that seems like the natural thing to do. Surely John won’t mind.

John inhales sharply, grabs Sherlock by the collar and inhales again.

“What the fu--” John releases Sherlock like he’s just pulled a hot dish from the oven with no mitt. “You, you,” John tries backing away from Sherlock, and Sherlock whines petulantly, he doesn’t care much for that at all. John should be coming closer, not farther away.

“Shit, shit,” John keeps cursing, repeating himself, backing away with his hands up and looking all around, like he might leave. That would be completely unacceptable, Sherlock would die, he would. He would. He’d lie down right next to these rusted paint chips and just die.

The alpha security guard comes around again, John looks like he might lunge for the man, instead he shouts, “Oi! Piss off!” and the guard scowls and does as he’s told.

“Sherlock!” John whisper-shouts, and the sound of his own name makes Sherlock snap back into himself for a moment. A tremor starts somewhere deep in his belly, and it makes Sherlock throw out a hand to support himself against a display case. Nearly doubled over, he looks at John, wide-eyed, and Sherlock has no idea what to do.

He really should have planned for this.

“Bad timing?” Sherlock whispers instead, eyes screwing shut.

It’s not as abrupt as it was that day in the school courtyard. The way this heat sets in is far more sinister, instead of devolving into a sopping mess in one fell swoop, he’s doing it in increments. Sherlock’s mind slowly eroded by unyielding need. He can feel emptiness throbbing like it’s a part of him, and it is, it is a part of him.

“We need to get you away from here,” John swallows thickly, breathes slowly in through his mouth even as his eyes grow dark and possessive over Sherlock. “Contained, before this--”

John doesn’t have the opportunity to offer up a resolution, because there’s a bit of nasty business with the curator sneaking up from around the corner and holding up a rag over John’s nose. The rag must be saturated with something or another, Sherlock can’t really go through the list at the moment, when John is slumping to the ground. Sherlock staggers toward them, because he might still have enough sanity left in him to wallop the curator over the head with a blunt object for harming John.

The curator looks over Sherlock like he’s some pathetic thing, “Oh, you poor sod. Pretty little omega, what are you doing out so close to your time?”

Sherlock shrugs, feigning nonchalance, “Oh, I don’t know. Passing the day? Certainly not attempting to smuggle a wealth of paintings and artifacts out of the country. I’ll leave that to you. Predictable. I should have caught it sooner, as you can see I’m not on my best game.”

Sherlock looks at John’s twitching body, wants nothing more than to curl around it.

“Yes, well,” the beta advances on him, rag held close to his body and it’s obvious that he intends on drugging Sherlock as well. Won’t that be tiresome. “Sorry, can’t be helped.”

Sherlock could scream from how boring the man is being, and would he just get on with it then.

Sherlock breaks the curator’s nose, but he still ends up with a rag clamped over his face and the world swims out of focus even as his entire body switches online.

-----

 

“Sherlock.”

He’s gasping, gasping, heat drips like treacle down his spine, curls into his stomach and churns there. He needs, he needs--

“Sherlock, all right? All right? Jesus, just say something,” John’s voice sounds far away. “I can’t get a signal, on my phone. I can’t come near you, to check yours. I can’t. You have to wake up.”

“John,” Sherlock’s voice turns it into a pitiful moan. “Oh, god.” He opens his eyes. They’re submerged in darkness, or they would be if John wasn’t using the small flashlight he keeps in his coat pocket during cases.

“He’s locked us in a storage container somewhere, I don’t.. God, but your scent. It’s all I can do to stay over here…” Sherlock sees John bang the back of his head against the metal wall from across the rectangular unit. John shouldn’t be doing that. He should be here, right here where Sherlock is. Touching him. Pressing skin to skin, skin inside of Sherlock’s skin, and why isn’t John doing that? Shouldn’t John be crawling on top of Sherlock and embedding his genetic material into Sherlock and--

A paroxysm coils up in Sherlock’s gut, his body clenches on the nothingness inside of it. Sherlock gasps, cries out, tries grinding down against the flat floor in a useless effort. He’s leaking a wet spot all around himself. It should be beyond embarrassing, but it isn’t. Sherlock wants John to see it. Wants it more than anything. He thinks he might have always wanted it, ever since he caught sight of John that day in a lab.

John makes a choked noise from his side of the unit, and Sherlock inhales the sudden burst of John’s pheromones. The smell familiar, but much stronger, better than it’s ever been before. Resin and cedar, musk and heat mixing into the air, with no place to go but into their lungs. John’s scent pulls at Sherlock like a hundred grabbing hands.

Sherlock scrubs his hands through his hair, down his chest, scratches his thighs through the awful barrier of his clothes.

He needs to take off his clothes, it’s so important that he takes off his clothes. Won’t John help him? Please, please, please, please Sherlock can’t stand it. Not when John is right there, and Sherlock is going to burn all up.

“I can’t, Sherlock,” John’s voice shakes, and Sherlock has said that all out loud. “I don’t want… You wouldn’t be asking if you weren’t… God, God, don’t come over here.”

Sherlock ignores John, crawls, scrambles on all fours, across the dirty floor. John makes a noise of protest and shoves up to standing against the wall. Sherlock sees him shaking his head in the dim light, lips pursed, trying not to breathe.

“Yes,” Sherlock argues, breathless, when he reaches John, and rocks back onto his knees, “Yes, I need you. Fix it.”

“Christ, Sherlock,” John rasps, “You should have told me. Why the hell didn’t you tell me? We could have figured something out. You idiot. You absolute nutter.”

“John,” Sherlock can’t explain himself right now, and can’t John see that? Sherlock climbs his hands up John’s leg, presses his cheek into John’s hip. The tips of Sherlock’s fingers brush over the firm bulge of John’s erection, they moan in unison. Sherlock launches himself at John’s flies, his hands are shaking, useless things, as they pluck ineffectually at John’s belt. “Let me see, John, John.”

John’s hands clamp around Sherlock’s wrists and he twists them away. “You’ll hate me. I won’t be able to stop.” His eyes are so dark, his face so open and lovely that it hurts Sherlock to see it. “If I do this, will you hate me after?”

Sherlock looks at John in shock. Says softly, “I don’t know--” how you could even ask me that.

He could never hate John. The thought is unfathomable.

“Godammit,” John slides to the floor, in front of Sherlock. He looks at Sherlock’s mouth and licks his own lips, but ducks his head when Sherlock moves to close the distance. Sherlock is vaguely disappointed by the lack of kissing. Cold nose pressed to Sherlock throat, John scents from the base of his neck in a line all the up behind his ear. He does it again, this time his hands grip hard into Sherlock’s waist.

“I thought I was imagining it,” John scrapes his teeth at the junction of Sherlock’s neck and shoulder. Sherlock jolts at the sharp press of teeth, gasps, and John quiets him, misunderstanding. “Sh, sh, I know you don’t want to--” John exhales roughly and jerks Sherlock onto his lap. Strong hands dig into Sherlock’s hips, grinding him down against John, and it’s wonderful. It could be better.

Sherlock burns and burns, licks at John’s ear, sucks the soft lobe into his mouth and nips. John fists a hand into his hair. Immediately willed into pliancy, Sherlock tilts his chin back and gives John access.

“It’d come in bursts, the scent, always from your direction. I thought I was crazy. No beta smells like that.” John licks over his collarbone, sucks bruises into the skin that Sherlock will wear for days and days. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

Sherlock doesn’t know what that means. He only knows he’s burning.

Sherlock pants, arches his spine, strains into John’s lap as another spasm coils up and explodes like hundreds of little opalescent stars. His trousers are ruined, he’s gotten John’s denims completely saturated. Sherlock can feel John’s cock jump where it’s constrained, held inside of his pants and pressed up against Sherlock’s arse.

When Sherlock opens his eyes, John looks completely devastated. “Jeeesus,” he breathes shakily, “Sherlock, can I-” he wriggles a hand between then and begins unfastening Sherlock’s trousers. The scent of them weaving together, it only grows stronger with the lowering of Sherlock’s zip, and Sherlock needs John, now. Now. Now. Inside of him. Filling up all the overwhelming hollowness, the hunger that gnaws so profoundly inside of him.

But all he can do is pant loudly and shove weakly at his pants, inform John that he needs him.

“Inside, you have to. You have to. It can only be you, John.” He begs John to take out his own cock, because Sherlock wants, desperately, to see it. Wants to feel the weight of in his hand, and he’s sure, judging by the outline of it pressing against Sherlock’s now bare skin, that it will most certainly fit inside of Sherlock. It has to.

John groans, “Shut up, oh please shut up. This is hard enough as it is, not to just turn you over and--fuck!” John’s fingers feel over his hole where Sherlock is dilated and leaking lubrication, it’s slick down to his thighs. “Tell me what you need, I’ll give you--shit--everything. Anything.”

John must be able to feel the tremor course through Sherlock’s entire body, the cry the gathers high and wanting in Sherlock’s throat. John shoves two fingers in just as the paroxysm explodes in Sherlock’s guts, muscles clenching rhythmically around the intrusion. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s something for his body to hold onto.

His eyes fly open, mouth agape and caught on an inhale that doesn’t seem to be able to release itself for several mind-bendingly fantastic moments.

Moments that pass quickly, because Sherlock makes the mistake of looking at John’s expression. Staring at Sherlock in reverent astonishment, eyes flicking all over Sherlock’s face, his mouth, his eyes, his throat.

“Another,” Sherlock whispers, “It’s not enough, please,” and Sherlock grinds down on John’s fingers. His hair is wet and curling irritatingly against his forehead, and he has all these fucking clothes on, and what’s the point in having all of this skin if John isn’t going to touch it? Sherlock is perfectly suited for breeding, and why doesn’t John do it? Sherlock needs his knot, only his. Only John’s.

Sherlock shouts it at him. It sounds like he’s begging.

That seems to be all John can handle. He knocks Sherlock over onto the grimy floor, and begins jamming his fingers inside of Sherlock’s arse, pumping them and searching around for the right spot to touch.

He finds it.

Sherlock’s wail echoes off the walls, resounds loud and metallic in his ears. A pleased smile curls into John’s lips, possessive, not the smile John exchanges with him when Sherlock’s made brilliant deductions, or done something within the bounds of socially acceptable societal norms.

John fucks Sherlock with his fingers until he’s drenched down to his elbow, until his arms shake, until Sherlock is mindlessly arching his back and baring down and begging, pleading. He needs more than just fingers.

“If I fuck you, I won’t be able to stop,” John tells him, bites bruises into the soft undersides of Sherlock’s thighs. And isn’t not stopping the point?

“I’ll kill anyone that touches you, do you know that? Okay? I wish you could see what I’m seeing, god. The way you look. How you smell, I could eat you up. Christ, you’re so wet.” John growls and unbuttons his jeans, shoves his hand inside and his eyes flutter closed when he strokes himself a few times. Four fingers knifed inside of Sherlock, John presses up and around, fingers curl and hold there in the suggestion of a fist. “I haven’t even knotted you, and you already smell like you’re mine.”

Sherlock’s body grips onto John’s fingers, pressure spirals at the base of his spine and floods every synapse as Sherlock comes. He’s sobbing out John’s name, still pleading with John to fuck him, fill him. His body isn’t convinced by fingers, Sherlock only knows this because he still feels like he’s half set on fire. He needs to turn over on his belly, he needs a cock inside of him, a knot holding them both together. Sherlock needs sweat and wet and John and teeth taking him up by the scruff of his neck and--

 

Someone bangs a fist against the outside of the storage container, shouts John’s and Sherlock’s names. Vaguely Sherlock places the voice as Lestrade’s, but honestly he can’t be bothered by a case right now. Sherlock is extremely busy, trying to get John to fuck him properly.

John wrenches his cardigan from his back and lays it across Sherlock before crouching defensively in front his body, and isn’t that something beautiful to witness? John almost completely given over to the alpha instinct to protect his mate against any challengers. It’s only a hormonal response, and Sherlock revels in it while he can, before his heat is resolved and John remembers that Sherlock is Sherlock and is ill suited for the task.

The thought makes Sherlock extremely sad, and the dull cramps beginning to twinge in his belly forces him roll over onto his side. He shivers, and he can’t imagine why that must be, because he’s still so hot.

The lights from several torches filter through the storage container’s metal door as they’re pried apart. Scents pour in, alpha, omega, beta, and it’s so confusing to Sherlock’s sensitive nose that it’s nauseating. Sherlock twists his neck to see.

Lestrade looks at John posturing, then down to where Sherlock is half undressed and shining with sweat and sex.

“Shit,” Lestrade says, eyes now firmly glued onto Sherlock.

An alpha officer draws too close, John straightens up to launch himself at the potential competition.

Lestrade yells, has Sally Donovan drag the alpha away by the collar. She shouts something into her hand held, something about clearing the perimeter of alpha personnel, Code Yellow, and Sherlock doesn’t care what a Code Yellow is.

He doesn’t care, especially now with the heat and jolt of electricity accumulating to its tipping point at the pit of him. Sherlock wishes they would just shut the damn door and leave him here with John.

Lestrade, Sally, and a few betas Sherlock has never bothered to remember the name of gather closer. Lestrade is speaking low, has his hands held up in front of him, fingers spread to show John that he doesn’t intend on taking Sherlock away.

“He isn’t theirs,” John informs the group, “They can’t touch him.”

“They won’t,” Lestrade says, “I promise. It’s just us, now. I’ve sent all the other alphas away. We just want to make sure he’s okay, then we’ll leave you alone.”

John doesn’t appear to be convinced. “You’re lying. They’ll be able to scent him from three blocks away. He needs me.”

Lestrade and three betas tackle John, pull his arms behind him as he tries to scratch them away. Lestrade keeps saying John’s name over and over.

“John, John, John, listen to me, John.”

John blinks hard, looks down to where Sherlock is beginning to writhe uncomfortably on the ground, paroxysms welling up and Sherlock is in pain. He certainly is. Not the type of pain that Sherlock experiences when he sits through unmedicated stitches through sheer willpower, but the space between him and John; it hurts Sherlock in a physical way.

John’s mouth falls open when Sherlock tries breathing through the spasm, doubling over and emitting noises too high pitched and young to belong to him.

“Jesus,” John says in a small voice, “Get me out of here, hurry.” He pleads with Lestrade who purses his lips and drags John out into fresh air.

Sherlock can still see the shame and devastation written across John’s face. He wants to scream for the unfairness of it all. Sherlock bites down on his bottom lip instead, using what sense he has left to stay silent aside from his ragged breaths.

Donovan’s hand is cold on his shoulder, and he wants to wrench out from underneath it. She doesn’t like Sherlock very much, has made it quite clear ever since Sherlock announced her status as a bond wrecker for everyone in Scotland Yard to hear.

She only rubs soothing circles against his forehead. Sherlock is too miserable to care about their feud, he grunts and rolls into the little bit of touch offered.

“You get use to it,” she says even as another spasm is wrung from Sherlock’s body. “Then you can go back to contaminating our crime scenes, yeah?”

“His brother sent a car,” Lestrade sounds a bit breathless as he kneels beside Sherlock, a blanket is thrown over his body and they try standing.

“John?” Sherlock asks, because the thought of going anywhere without John is almost impossible to conceive right now. Sherlock, also, has apparently forgotten how to do anything other than turn over onto his belly and stick his bottom in the air in a plea for filling. Lestrade practically carries him outside. “I don’t want you. You smell wrong. Bring John back.”

“He’ll be fine, let’s worry about you right now. How are you so fucking heavy? In you go,” Lestrade groans as he heaves Sherlock into the black car. The partition is drawn between the front seat and where Sherlock lies curled up and shaking in the back. He resists the urge to rut and slip his fingers down and into himself in a futile effort to plug up the void. Maybe once he’s no longer being stared at with a mix of sympathetic understanding and weary vigilance.

“It’ll be over soon,” Lestrade promises, and shuts the door.

----

 

The car takes Sherlock to some house he doesn’t recognise, with a room he doesn’t recognise, a bed he’s never laid on, and that assortment of sexual aids definitely do not belong to him.

He peels off his blanket, the remaining clothes sticking to him.

Sherlock refuses to experiment with the toys, he refuses even as he paws at himself in frustration and desperation.

He refuses for all of what might possibly be twenty minutes, Sherlock has lost all track of time. Time is fairly meaningless as his temperature climbs and his mind is reduced to the basest instincts.

The first touch of silicone slipping into him is so wholly inadequate.

----

Lestrade lies. It lasts forever.

---

 

Sherlock wakes up, nude and tangled in sheets like a giant fish strung through a net.

His muscles ache in a dull way as Sherlock stretches and kicks his legs about to extract himself from the bedclothes. Whoever deposited him here at least had enough sense to leave his mobile in the bedside table drawer. He looks at the date on the display, it’s been three days, eight hours, and forty-six minutes since the onset of heat, Sherlock takes no time in doing the mental approximation of the next date that his oestrus ought to occur.

He has three texts.

Notify me when your cycle is completed and I’ll send a car to bring you home. Set of clothes in the wardrobe. Selection of high protein foods in the kitchen. Eat something. Doubtful you bothered.
-Mycroft

Sherlock sniffs and deletes the message. If Mycroft hadn’t interfered, Sherlock could possibly be wound around John in a grimy storage container, and infinitely more happy.

Until John’s rut resolved and he realised who was underneath him.

Caught your curator trying to leave the country. Come by when you’re ready to fill out paperwork. By “when you’re ready” I don’t mean six months from now. Get a shower, get dressed, do your paperwork like the rest of us.
-L

And the inexplicable: dsahlkhln f
Also from Lestrade’s number, obviously sat on his phone without locking it beforehand and his bottom sent off a text. Charming.

Nothing from John. Sherlock’s finger hovers over the number, to text him, call him.

He throws the mobile onto the mattress. What would Sherlock say, anyways? In spite of the direct affront to your moral dilemma, I really quite enjoyed the almost-sex we had.

No.

 

The bathroom mirror shows the familiar outline of Sherlock’s face, but anyone with functioning eyes would be able to look at Sherlock and be able to conclude that he just spent nearly four days gagging to be mounted and bred. He might as well wear a neon sign strapped to his back, UNBONDED OMEGA! in an electric shade of green. The obviousness settles over Sherlock, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Anyone will be able to decipher his gender if they walk close enough. He’d grown accustomed to the obscurity of his suppressed scent, the advantages it afforded him.

Cheeks still flushed with the stubborn vestiges of late heat. Curls are matted together in fluffy tangles, it’ll take conditioner to coax them into releasing. Sherlock scratches at the stubble along his jaw, prickling over his lip.

A bruise high on his throat where John marked his skin with his mouth. Sherlock digs his thumb hard against it, relishes the minor twinge of pain as he compresses the broken blood vessels. Red and violet, speckled faintly, bold against white skin. The shape of John’s mouth. Sherlock sways with the sudden memory of John falling on top of him, slipping fingers into him and trying so hard to resist the instinct to flip Sherlock over and knot him.

Sherlock pushes away at the image.

He showers, washes away the stubborn scent of heat still cloying on his skin, clinging and refusing to let go no matter how many times Sherlock soaps himself.

He dresses in the suit that has been left for him in the wardrobe, his fingers are clumsy with the buttons. Obviously weak with low blood sugar after having not eaten for so long, the disparity of energy output to ingestion taking its toll.

Sherlock eats a bowl of cereal because it requires the least amount of work.

John cooks Sherlock eggs with cheese and bacon. Almost every Sunday this event occurs. John consistently burns the bacon, and he consistently blames the hob instead of his own flawed technique.

It tastes fucking awful and the burned bits stick into Sherlock’s molars. He eats it anyways. Sherlock likes having these sort of routines with John. It reminds Sherlock he isn’t alone.

There are beehives on the property, distant, but Sherlock can see them well enough. The drones swarm lazily around their home, protecting their beloved queen.

A virgin queen honeybee, once reaching reproductive maturity, will fly out on a balmy, sunny day, fly out to drones in all of her majesty. She’ll be emitting pheromones signalling her ripeness.

She’ll fuck between twelve and fifteen drones, mid-flight, until she is filled to capacity with their six million odd sperm. She is required to do this, for the continuity of the hive.

The concept seems absolutely exhausting. It seems like being held hostage: By nature. By instinct.

Sherlock doesn’t require a colony. He only wants the one person. He doesn’t want the requirements that come with his gender.

Is it that very selfish?

One hive looks rotten. One queen so faulty and her reproduction so ill-timed that she laid a colony full of drones.

-----

 

Sherlock takes a cab instead of asking Mycroft to send his private transportation. Thankfully the driver is a beta, and although perfectly capable of picking up the lingering smell of Sherlock’s heat, he says nothing of it. Several people avert their eyes when Sherlock enters the building where Lestrade keeps his office. Someone sniggers behind his back and Sherlock whirls on the young alpha, reduces him to a red, huffing, mess as Sherlock methodically picks apart the man’s life and prescription drug addiction.

When Sherlock is satisfied, he enters Lestrade’s office, sits heavily in the seat, and props his heels up on the rickety desk full of papers.

“So,” Lestrade sighs and chews a pen cap, “Do you want to talk about it.”

He’d really rather not discuss his reproductive cycle with Lestrade. It’s sort of like what he imagines having a sex talk with his mother would be like. If mummy were well.

Sod it.

He explains his issues with silicone sexual appliances, how he resented having to do so much of the work on his own. Especially inefficient when Sherlock is burning up, slippery with sweat and lubrication, and can hardly think past the need for a real knot. Not one of those fake knots at the base of the… what’s the proper term? Dildos. That’s it. They weren’t right. They come in a variety of sizes and shades, and Sherlock honestly can’t see how that helps at all. All of these are not decent substitutes, and despite Sherlock’s extremely limited experience, he feels like he knows this for a fact on a biological level, and doesn’t Lestrade agree?

Sherlock explains how John used his fingers, a bit, and it was so nice, but not remotely enough. Why wouldn’t John just give into rut and take Sherlock? Does he not want Sherlock? Does Lestrade find Sherlock aesthetically pleasing? Does Lestrade think John finds Sherlock attractive? Not that it matters. He’s only curious. Perhaps John’s angry because Sherlock neglected to inform him that he was the owner of omega anatomy beforehand, and does Lestrade know that John’s eyes dilate so perfectly when he’s responding to omega pheromones? And oh, God, it’s all very alarming, sex is very alarming and Sherlock had no idea. Infrequent masturbation is not at all a good reference for sexual urges in comparison to the urges within oestrus.

Sherlock takes a deep breath, once finished, and slouches into the chair.

Lestrade stares at him with wide, astonished eyes, before blinking hard. “Yeah, I… I meant, did you want to talk about the case, actually. But.”

Sherlock’s cheeks burn in sudden embarrassment.

“Okay, well. Unless there’s anything you want to add, just write down your statement.”

Sherlock stares at the blank summary report he’s been handed and swallows.

“And Sherlock,” Lestrade turns before exiting, “Maybe try talking to John about some of this. Not the.. the dildo part. The other part where you two had sex in a dirty shipping unit. Clear the air.”

“Almost had sex,” Sherlock corrects, because surely the “almost” makes some sort of difference. In what, Sherlock has no idea.

“Close enough,” Lestrade shrugs and smiles, “Call you when we have something interesting.”

“I’ve no doubt you will.”

Sherlock stares at the sheet, doodles a fox, and leaves it there on the desk with his signature.

-----

 

Sherlock waits for a cab. It’s lunch hour and the traffic is shite. Sherlock’s stomach is twisting, thinking about home, seeing John, talking to John.

Construction is going on behind Sherlock, workers hauling steel about and following blueprints, and doing things that don’t interest Sherlock at all. People sniff the air as they walk by. An elderly omega looks him down and informs him that it’s not decent to be out yet. Sherlock threatens to extract her eyeballs using his own thumbs.

An Alpha whistles behind him and Sherlock turns. Three alphas are gathered in a cluster, they sip from their thermoses, one winks and whistles again.

Two musical notes: Every parrot and every construction worker knows them. Shrill and salacious, so Sherlock will remember: You are on display. It’s supposed to be a compliment. Supposed to make him feel good, that they have laboured to remind him.

It makes him feel like a package of meat, set down into the cooler, raw and waiting to eaten.

---

 

John meets Sherlock at the door, unintentionally. John has the cloth bags over his arms, ready to do the shopping.

He sees Sherlock, sniffs once, makes a sound like his throat has closed up trying to swallow a hard candy, and he shoves past onto the street.

Sherlock stands frowning and immensely upset, in the doorway.

Mrs. Hudson finds him there. “Oh you poor boy,” she fusses with Sherlock’s hair, pats his warm cheeks. “I asked John how he could possibly leave his young man at such a time. ‘Course it must have been a surprise for you both.” Mrs. Hudson tuts and pulls him inside by the wrist. She’s always laboured under the illusion that he and John were bondmates, regardless of their reproductive status.

She makes Sherlock brown stew and forces him to drink several glasses of milk. “You’ll thank me when you two finally decide to have a little one. Calcium is important, dearie. Just ask my sister. Why, when she was pregnant with the twins, her bones became so brittle that one of the babies kicked and broke a rib! Imagine that!”

Sherlock pours the milk down the drain and flees.

---

John comes home hours later. It’s dark out. Panic rattles Sherlock’s heart, it beats too quickly and makes his insides twist.

Finally, he hears feet on the stairs, definitely John’s. The gait is uncertain, like John is experiencing difficulty navigating the stairs.

John’s face is flushed from drinking too much. Sherlock estimates he’s had at least four pints, and they took quickly because John hasn’t eaten much throughout the week since being half drug down into rut.

He sees Sherlock lying across the sofa with a laptop resting on his thighs. John clears his throat and makes his way over while Sherlock tries, and fails, to look completely unperturbed. He kneels on the floor, stuck between Sherlock’s shoulder and the coffee table.

“Please feel free to omit the occasion in the shipping unit from your memory,” Sherlock finds himself saying and not meaning, “I will certainly endeavor to do the same, since obviously it was awful for you. Touching me. So.” It sounds childish to his own ears, and Sherlock fights the urge to wince. “It would have been helpful for me to bring up the details of my secondary gender beforehand, but as you well know, omegas aren’t exactly afforded the same treatment as alphas, or even betas, so really it’s none of your business if I--”

John sighs, leans over, and presses his lips to Sherlock’s.

It’s soft, dry. John smells strongly of lager, and Sherlock is absolutely too surprised to do much else but recline back against the pillow while John touches their mouths together.

Sherlock would be content to lie here, indefinitely, and be kissed by John.

John pulls back without even attempting to deepen the caress of their lips, and blinks at Sherlock, trying to focus properly.

“Doesn’t matter to me, y’know. Sh’lock. Whatever you are, doesn’t matter. You could be a squirrel, for all I care.” He nuzzles down into the base of Sherlock’s throat while Sherlock attempts to sort out what exactly John means by it all. “Smell nice. Natural. Mmhm.”

John starts snoring, starts falling sideways and onto the floor.

Sherlock gets up, drags John onto the couch. He giggles when Sherlock tries taking off his boots, then starts sleeping again.

 

Sherlock stands staring at him for a long time. The lights from cars pass through the windows, headlights and lamplights licking at John’s skin greedily, only ever to touch him so insubstantially. Sherlock sympathises, and looks.

---

 

Sherlock sets a dosage of paracetamol, a large glass of water, two pieces of buttered toast, and a large cup of black coffee, onto the table. John doesn’t take sugar. He used to. Not anymore. He got accustomed to the bitter taste of plain coffee in Afghanistan where he didn’t always have the luxury of bowlfuls of sugar and cream. Sherlock stands, waiting for John to wake up.

It doesn’t happen and it doesn’t happen and it doesn’t happen, and Sherlock is beginning to lose his resolve and get bored. He tries clearing his throat, John keeps snoring.

He taps his fingers against the coffee table. Uses his foot the jostle the couch, and John won’t stop sleeping, he only grunts and smacks his lips. Lips that just kissed Sherlock over 7 hours ago.

Fed up, Sherlock pours a trickle of water over John’s head.

He sputters, “What the fuck,” he groans, rubs his eyes, “Ow, God.”

“You have a hangover, there’s Paracetamol on the table.”

John peeks at Sherlock through his fingers, and struggles to sit up. He grimaces with the movement. “Thanks. Um, good morning?”

Sherlock watches John toss the pill into his mouth, followed by the water.

“So. Sex during oestrus.” Sherlock announces this morning’s topic and looks on in alarm as John seems to choke on the water. “We should have that. Do that.”

“What?” John’s face goes pink again, and he does a poor job of not giving Sherlock a once-over.

“If this past heat is anything to chart by, I estimate I’ll cycle into another heat within 63 days, as is the average.”

“Sherlock..” John frowns and puts his hand over his forehead, “You really ought to consider this first. It’s not even been two days since--”

“I’ve considered the options. I find spending heat alone both challenging, and overwhelming. We already live together, last night you expressed interest. We’re biologically compatible. I find the arrangement appealing and efficient.”

“Efficient.” John echoes, nonplussed, keeps on staring at Sherlock like he’s seeing something mythological and potentially poisonous bursting out of his skin.

“It’s only sex, John. If you’re amenable, I am consenting.” Sherlock hopes it sounds convincing. “I don’t expect you to bond with me.” Not with literally hundreds of omegas running around, far more suitable than Sherlock. Maybe John won’t notice them if he’s busy knotting Sherlock every couple months.

John doesn’t look convinced. Sherlock seethes, hurt by John’s lack of response after last night’s drunken kiss, and it’s pathetic. Mycroft was right. Mawkish, indeed.

“Nevermind. I see the concept is completely undesirable for you, forgive me for making you uncomfortable. Oh, and for unwittingly coercing you into a sexual encounter by going into the first oestrus I’ve experienced since adolescence. I’ll find an Alpha more interested in participating in this arrangement.”

It’s an idle threat, Sherlock would never make good on it, not by choice at least. But the threat seems to tip the precarious scale of morality inside of John and he snarls, eyes going dark and flinty as he leaps up, hands snatching at Sherlock’s waist when he crowds him into the arm of the sofa, one leg slipping between Sherlock’s thighs. Sherlock’s mouth drops open, and John immediately retreats, apologising over and over.

“Shit, sorry, sorry,” John winces and holds his hands up like Sherlock needs proof that John plans on leaving him be. “Instincts, sorry. You still smell like.. I can still smell it on you. That’s why I had to leave yesterday. Sorry.”

Sherlock pants softly and shakes his head, “No matter. Really.”

“Right, okay,” John licks his lips and nods once, “I’m amenable. Just.. let me know when.”

“Good,” Sherlock fidgets, waves his hand in the air dismissively in an effort to look casual about the whole affair. “Not complicated at all.”

---

It gets complicated almost immediately.

Without the suppressants acting as a dampener for Sherlock’s once cool libido, he finds himself constantly at the mercy of hormones. It’s distracting. How does the general population manage?

It’s new. It’s terribly interesting. It’s fantastic.

It’s especially intriguing with John standing approximately 7 inches away, propped up and giggling against the wall after they’ve stumbled inside. The result of a foot chase involving a street mime, and a rather unfriendly spider monkey. Sherlock will now have to suffer through rabies shots after his curiosity regarding the primate was not reciprocated and the creature made quick work of biting Sherlock’s outstretched hand. John made him go A&E for the bite, apparently John can perform emergency surgery on trauma victims in the middle of the desert, but a monkey bite is entirely beyond his care. Sherlock scoffed and sat through the examination.

Sherlock holds up his bandaged palm and frowns at it, John lapses into a fresh fit of mirth.

“What were you thinking?” John spreads his fingers and puts his smaller hand in line with Sherlock’s before letting it fall away. “A bloody monkey.”

“I thought it might make a good assistant. It was faster than you were, no doubt it has superior blogging skills.”

John smiles and looks up at the ceiling, shaking his head. The hall smells like Mrs. Hudson’s freshly made yeast bread, now nearly fully eclipsed by the scent of John’s adrenaline reaction permeating the small space. The lamp on the desk casts John in a soft glow, and it tears at Sherlock; those seven inches of space.

He moves quickly, before the impulse has settled and Sherlock thinks better of it. He slides over, leans down, scrunches his body awkwardly because he has no idea how to make their size difference work, and kisses John’s perfect smile.

John goes rigid, air huffing from his nose and tickling Sherlock’s skin.

He shouldn’t have done that.

Sherlock moves to pull backward, to dash up the stairs without another word and sob John’s name into the pillow while he touches himself like he’s done many nights in the past few weeks. It’d have to be more dignifying than standing here and leaking a wet spot into his pants.

John reacts, begins clutching at Sherlock’s arms, spins him around so it’s Sherlock’s back against the wall, hauls Sherlock down by the collar. His lips are warm and damp, and Sherlock knows he’s ran his tongue across them, spread the saliva and is currently smearing it against Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock opens up at the first slick hint of John’s tongue against his bottom lip.

The first time they lick together, John groans loudly and Sherlock immediately decides that kissing John is his new addiction.

“Is this good?” Sherlock pants at John’s ear when John pulls away to nose and kiss Sherlock’s throat. His hands form cups around John’s elbows. Sherlock isn’t exactly certain of kissing protocol. Victor just went in for it, and Sherlock’s hoping he got it right.

“Oh god,” John pulls away to look Sherlock in the eye, “If it’s not, you should tell me,” he kisses Sherlock’s mouth again, bites absently at his bottom lip. “Amazing,” he sighs and resumes plying Sherlock with soft licks, the stubbled caress of his chin.

Sherlock gets annoyed with how John’s shirt is tucked into his jeans, so he pulls it up and lets fingers venture around the skin mapping over John’s hips, the small of his back. John nods like he approves of this, presses up against Sherlock’s thigh. He’s aroused. Sherlock is largely in a similar state, hard, distinctly damp between his legs, he knows John will be able to smell this. The realisation pierces him, sizzles and fans outward, the fact Sherlock has caused this. It urges Sherlock’s fingers to dip under the front of John’s belt fastening. When Sherlock’s thumb swipes over the head of John’s penis, keening sounds are made, voices low and humming against the other’s mouth.

Mrs. Hudson walks out of her flat and coos at them. “Oh boys, I’m so happy you’ve made up,” she smiles and holds a pan of rolls toward them. Sherlock rolls his eyes, because it’s honestly going to be a shame if he has to throttle Mrs. Hudson right here.

“We’re busy,” he hisses, maneuvering from between John and the wall when Mrs. Hudson’s hip twinges and she nearly drops the hot rolls.

John keeps his palms pressed flat against the textured wallpaper and breathes deeply, head bowed.

This pleases Sherlock too. That John must visibly calm his body’s arousal before turning around and facing their landlady with some level of decency.

Eventually they make it up the stairs, and it’s unexpectedly awkward. Sherlock watches John fidget his fingers, fists clenching and releasing like they do when John is experiencing heightened emotional responses.

“So,” Sherlock says, looking inside an old Swedish Spectrometry journal and not really registering any of the words. “If you ever feel like doing that again, it’s fine.”

“That? As in--”

Sherlock clears his throat and tosses away the magazine, “Kissing me.” Obviously.

“Really?” John says, like it’s actually surprised him. How can John be so brilliant, and simultaneously so dim? “Good, thanks for, er.. telling me.”

Sherlock nods, brushes past John, locks the door to his room and takes off his clothes.

---

Sherlock comes thinking about John pressed hard up against Sherlock’s thigh. He turns his face into the duvet to muffle the racket, toes curling when he thinks about the sound John made when their tongues slid together.

 

---

It’s another week before they kiss again.

John drags Sherlock out of a burning flat when Sherlock tries to stay and gather evidence before it’s licked away by the flames. The smoke is acrid and choking and Sherlock never meant to swallow it down.

John kisses his sooty cheeks when Sherlock starts breathing.

“Don’t ever do that again,” he shouts, burying dirty hands in Sherlock’s singed hair and tugging their foreheads together. “I’m so cross with you,” he kisses Sherlock’s lips, crushes them together, “I am. I am.”

He strokes through Sherlock’s curls so tenderly, like he can hardly bear to touch him. Like Sherlock might crumple and sift like ashes from between John’s steady fingers, to be stolen away by the simple wind.

---

“My oestrus should occur in twenty-four days. We should discuss birth control.”

John chokes on his glass of orange juice.

Sherlock watches him for a moment, ensures minimal liquid has been inhaled, and continues. “Condoms are right out, neither of us should be trusted to employ them properly while we’re in such a state. An IUD is better suited for female omega anatomy. I believe a contraceptive pill would be the best fit.”

“All right,” John says slowly, “Um, you should probably see your gynecologist to see which pill would be best for you.” John sounds like every advertisement on the telly.

“I don’t want to be bred,” Sherlock states plainly. He’s never had reason to truly consider it. John surely has incredible DNA, but Sherlock can’t imagine what use an infant would be at a crime scene.

“That’s fine,” John eyes Sherlock for a moment, then dribbles honey over his oatmeal. “It’s your choice. Whatever you want, it’s all fine.”

Sherlock scowls, “What’s wrong with my genetic material? Is it so offensive, that you’re content to ignore your biological imperative to breed?”

“What?” John shakes his head, appearing to be confused over such a simple matter. “Sherlock, I distinctly did not say that.”

“We’d have superior offspring. I’m a genius. You’re not a complete imbecile. The child would have a predisposition toward addiction, but--”

“Wait, wait,” John stops stirring his oatmeal, “I thought we were talking about birth control.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes, that issue has already been settled. “We’d have exceptional offspring, do you agree or disagree?”

“Yes,” John says loudly, throwing his hands up in agitation, “I agree, fine! They’d be bloody Einstein’s with curly heads and itchy trigger fingers. Are you happy, now?”

“No, I don’t want to bred. Stop trying to convince me otherwise.”

John groans and gets up from the table.

---

John snogs Sherlock on the sofa while watching a documentary on Orcas.

The pod of Orcas are feeding on seals, against a background of snow capped mountains, and it’s all terribly interesting. Unfortunately, John sitting only a few feet away is distracting for Sherlock, and he begins inching closer as a whale gulps down a fat seal.

John watches out of the corner of his eye, watches Sherlock’s progression across the leather seats and says nothing of it so Sherlock takes it to mean that this is okay. Their thighs are touching, lined up, and John very deliberately flicks his little finger out to touch the seam of Sherlock’s pyjama bottoms.

“Is it all right if I--”

“Yes,” Sherlock interrupts, the air is sparking between them and it’s driving Sherlock mad.

John scrambles for a second, and then Sherlock is being pinned against the sofa cushions, John’s mouth hot and greedy as he teases out Sherlock’s tongue.

It’s a dance of Sherlock’s fingers frantically petting at John’s back, brushing into his hair to crush their mouths more firmly together. John makes such a sound when Sherlock arches up toward him, and he grabs at Sherlock’s thigh to pull it over his hip. Sherlock has to break the kiss, has to gasp, has to look wide-eyed up at John when he feels the first nudge of John’s erection against the thigh still pinned against the sofa.

“We shouldn’t-” John pants, rocking his hips into Sherlock’s leg when he presses it up to offer more friction.

“I know,” Sherlock gasps against John’s lips.

“You’re getting close,” John murmurs, “To heat. I can practically taste it on you.” He trails kisses to the soft patch of skin just under Sherlock’s ear and inhales deeply. “You have no idea. I mean, you smell incredible all the time, but.. God.” His hips begin snapping in a steady rhythm, it shakes Sherlock, pushes him into the pillows. Sherlock unclasps a hand from around the nape of John’s neck, quickly shoves it under the band of John’s cotton pyjamas, and cups it around his cock before John can protest.

John doesn’t protest. He only licks his lips, shuts his eyes, and nods in encouragement. “You’re going to make me come,” he says softly, helplessly. Like Sherlock is the one with all the leverage. As if Sherlock isn’t hopelessly infatuated beyond all circumstance, and something that powerful can only destroy him. Hormones are notorious for their instability.

But not now. Right know he has John. He’s touching him the way a lover would.

It’s exquisite. Thick, hard, and burning hot in Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock runs his palm down the length, and shivers when he thinks about claiming every inch. He’s managed to see quite a bit of John’s skin, always within the constraints of decorum, and despite John’s proclivity toward jumpers. Once he’d seen John’s bare back after John had been grazed with a switchblade. John prodded it in the bathroom mirror, all contorted and trying to get a proper glimpse. Sherlock peeked around the doorway, had desperately wanted to catch a glimpse of the scar on his shoulder where a bullet forced its way through.

John caught him, quickly slipped his jumper back over his head. “Just a graze, is all.”

“You would have died if it meant keeping me safe?” Sherlock had asked, genuinely curious, since the knife had fallen to John when he’d darted out to shield Sherlock’s body with his own.

John looked at the fresh blood still staining his fingertips and shook his head.

 

“Can I see?” Sherlock whispers now, twisting his wrist as John pushes into the fist Sherlock has made around his cock.

“Oh,” says John as Sherlock peels back his pyjama bottoms. Clothes around John’s thighs, Sherlock looks down between them. He watches the rosy head of John’s penis push through his fist, glistening with prejaculate, and Sherlock feels a momentary spike of possessiveness over that slow drip. Like it’s something that he ought to have inside of him. Sherlock figures this is an instinctual response, the omega’s drive to capture as much genetic material as possible. He smears his thumb through the clear fluid instead, tries to remember to lick the finger later. Sherlock can feel the steady bump of John’s knot against the fleshy part of his palm, not fully engorged since John isn’t buried underneath a haze of oestrus pheromones.

John feels over the less impressive prominence of Sherlock’s erection, strokes gently. It’s only the hint of real pleasure, omegas rarely achieve orgasm through external stimulation, but it makes Sherlock shudder all the same. It’s awfully nice of John to touch him.

“I’ve got you,” John says breathlessly, sliding Sherlock’s bottoms down, one hip at a time, rucking his shirt up around ribs. “Let me take care of you.” Sherlock tries to nod, tries to speak, and can’t do either.

Warm fingers caress their way down the insides of Sherlock’s thigh, it makes Sherlock breathe too fast. It makes Sherlock shut his eyes up tight. The fact that sexual activity outside of heat is much easier to process doesn’t seem to be working in Sherlock’s favour. It isn’t like unassisted masturbation where one is only focused on their own responses, it can be quick and messy and what of it?

Sherlock never took into account just how John’s reactions would affect the timetable toward climax. It’s much different getting off to the idea of John pinning Sherlock down and fucking into his eager body, than having John actually pinning Sherlock down and touching him like he means to climb inside of Sherlock and stay there. Sherlock is aware of everything. John’s stuttered breaths, a hint of his voice in each exhale, the softened prodding of John’s iliac crests pressing steadily against Sherlock’s skin. The occasional scrape of stubble burning Sherlock’s cheeks, his lips, his throat when John does his best not to give in to the instinct to bite, mark, claim. John’s penis being cradled and stroked as Sherlock works his fist, and would it be terribly rude to ask John his level of arousal? Sherlock intends to ask, even as the pressure mounts inside of him, moaning and panting into John’s mouth seems to be the closest thing to speech Sherlock is capable of.

John’s finger nudges between the cleft of Sherlock’s arse, breath catching when he swipes into the evidence of his arousal. The finger keeps moving, swirling teasingly against Sherlock’s hole while he leaks a damp spot onto the dressing gown that’s caught underneath his bum.

“Sherlock,” John whispers into his ear, “Are you wet for me?”

Sherlock answers by way of premature ejaculation.

His muscles fluttering and contracting, words leave to be replaced by broken fricatives as he comes all over himself like an adolescent.

Sherlock feels the flush of embarrassment creeping into his cheeks, he keeps his eyes closed, body twitching with aftershocks as John goes still.

He isn’t sure if he should apologise, or perhaps flip John off the sofa and slink to his room in shame over his ill-timed tumescence. Eventually there’s no choice but open his eyes and look up at where John is still tremulous with restraint and likely terribly unsatisfied.

John swallows hard, gaze raking up and down Sherlock’s chest, the presumptuous splatters of his biologically inert semen. Sherlock is still panting.

“Sorry, it’s just that--”

“I didn’t even touch you properly,” John confirms, voice gone hoarse, deeper than usual.

“If you’d still like to--” Sherlock begins to offer.

“You’re so sensitive,” John interrupts, stroking his fingers through the mess on Sherlock’s belly and chest, “That,” he smears all of the fluids across the expanse of skin, “Was amazing. God. Your face when you--fuck.” John begins thrusting into the slickness covering Sherlock’s thighs and hips, John’s own pre-ejaculate adding to the glide. One of John’s hands shoves up underneath the bunch of Sherlock’s shirt, rests solicitously over his chest; perhaps in some extraneous effort to seek out the plump breast of one of the beta females John seems to like so much. For a moment Sherlock allows insecurity to creep into his mind.

A thumbnail draws over Sherlock’s nipple and oh, perhaps not. Sherlock had never thought, in all of his perfunctory exploration, to try touching himself there. The oversight is devastating, and Sherlock, even oversensitive as he is, writhes into the touch.

John gasps at the response, begins thrusting more urgently, hips pumping in quick succession, less considerate and more animalistic. Like a beautiful, rutting thing. They’re filthy, it’s a mess, a glorious, slippery mess and Sherlock adores John. Every rasped oath of, “Fuck, Sherlock, Christ,” sounds like so many promises, and a new rhythm sets into John’s spine. He’s whispering low, calling Sherlock names he’ll regret later, “So close, love. You’re perfect, brilliant, I never wanted anyone so much.”

John moans and Sherlock can feel the first rush of fluid over his knuckles, his stomach. John bites down on Sherlock’s shoulder, unable to contain the inherent need to do so. It doesn’t break the skin, but the implication floods Sherlock with longing. He chokes out John’s name as John shudders and shoves himself firmly against Sherlock with the last pulses of his semen. His breath is hot as it puffs out from his teeth, still nipped down into Sherlock’s flesh. It aches in the most wonderful way.

“Can you,” Sherlock murmurs without thinking, “Just a little harder.”

John, being John, understands. He makes a sound that vibrates against Sherlock’s skin, teeth clamping down harder, almost almost breaking the skin before he pulls off and licks at the bite indents. It’ll bruise. Most certainly. Sherlock will spend hours admiring it.

Sherlock could cry with how perfect it is. John caresses his fingers in circles on Sherlock’s skin, and for a moment he can pretend that they’ll always have this.

-----

John chins the newly appointed Chief Superintendent.

“Conducting routine evaluations for senior detectives,” he says as he walks across the crime scene.

The man hasn’t overseen cases for any other detective inspectors, so why is it, indeed, that he feels compelled to supervise Detective Inspector Lestrade’s past three cases? Surely it has nothing to do with his status as an unbonded omega, because while career discrimination against breeders is rampant, it is, in fact, illegal.

The alpha sputters and bows out the barrel of his chest. He’s overweight and when his cheeks blow out with his indignant protests, Sherlock is reminded of the pufferfish he’d seen once at an Aquarium in Atlanta. He’d gone there for a case. A series of fatal poisonings using the fish’s tetrodotoxin. Novel.

He corners Sherlock, later, as he moves to hail a cab. Stubby fingers, nails chewed to the quick, he grabs Sherlock by the front of his shirt and tries to tug him down.

“I won’t be talked down to by some omega twat, you’re nothing, do you know that?”

“I suggest you take your hand off me,” Sherlock narrows his eyes, fist balling and ready to swing. Typical alpha behavior, touching and touching and breathing on Sherlock like the privilege of his gender means he’s entitled to do so.

“Your whole lot,” the pufferfish continues, “Good for nothing unless you’ve got a knot in you. I can smell it on you.” He looks Sherlock up and down, sniffs at him and sneers. “You, Lestrade, in the end you’ll always be begging for it.”

He says it so simply, reminds Sherlock that the only real scandal is the one between his legs. A crime scene waiting to happen. He should allow anyone to bury themselves there, Sherlock should lie down and accept it.

Something blurs out of the corner of Sherlock’s eye, and the fingers digging into his front are abruptly torn away. Sherlock stumbles, rights himself, and looks to the ground where the Chief Inspector has a bloody nose, whining pathetically against the pavement.

John shakes his hand and winces, “Bastard. What’s his bloody jaw made of any way?”

Sherlock looks down to the pufferfish, seemingly incapable of conversation, and back to John who looks out to the dark street, the cars pushing by.

“Why did you do that?”

John shrugs, “Probably shouldn’t have. Might not go over well, assault and all.”

“I’m capable of defending myself,” Sherlock isn’t some child in need of rescuing.

“Yes, well. Lost my temper a bit.”

“Obviously.” A moan from the ground, Sherlock rolls his eyes and keeps from kicking the idiot silent. “I don’t need you to defend me. I don’t need you to rescue me.”

John furrows his brow, “I know that,” he reached out to touch Sherlock’s hand, but withdraws and shifts on his feet. “I know you don’t.”

“Good. Just so we’re clear.”

“We’re clear.” John smiles. “Dinner?”

-----

That night Sherlock comes with his cock in John’s mouth, and two of John’s fingers pressing inside of him.

Afterward John pulls Sherlock on top of him, he moves Sherlock’s hips and ruts against his belly. “You’re incredible,” John whispers, rubs and squeezes, and thrusts. “How do you do that?”

Sherlock yanks on John’s hair, let’s him gasp into the crush of their mouths. John let’s Sherlock’s fingers creep across his throat, compress slowly. He comes when Sherlock tells him to.

-----

An omega female asks John to dinner. She’s petite and her hair is dyed deep auburn and she likes children and puppies and rainbows and baking sugar wafers and she’s everything Sherlock can not remotely compete with.

She asks John out, right there in front of Sherlock, like Sherlock is just a piece of wicker furniture. As if Sherlock isn’t reeking with proestrus. She’s in a similar state, liking John too much, hoping they can get to know each other better before she asks if John would care to spend heat together.

It would leave Sherlock alone, again. A sopping thing, writhing and unwanted.

John smiles at her.

Sherlock leaves him alone in the middle of a case, leaves him there at some awful canteen in Battersea.

He goes home, blows up a sheep’s brain in the microwave and leaves the gelatinous mess all over. John will see it and hate it, and Sherlock is happy. Sort of. Not really.

John is probably making plans with the ginger omega right this moment. They’ll have dinner and take a walk, and later she’ll invite John back to her flat where they’ll kiss. John will grab her up by the waist and urge her onto his lap, and in--

The image festers like infected skin.

Sherlock leaves and solves his case, without John.

It doesn’t make him feel any better.

---

“And what the hell is this about,” John yells when Sherlock stumbles back into the flat. “Is this brain matter?”

Sherlock shrugs and hangs up his coat.

John rages and rages and rages on about the exploded brain. Unsanitary, disgusting, we’ll have to buy a new one. Mrs. Hudson vomited in the sink when she walked in on it.

“When is your date with the omega girl? Mindy? Mandy? Melissa?”

“Her name was Candace,” John furrows his brow, and then, “Is that what this is about?” He waves at the mess.

“She’ll be asking you to tend to her during her heat, of course her cycle will overlap mine. I’m sure I can find someone else. Chavez from Robbery seems keen. Also you should be aware that she’ll likely ask for a bond by the second heat. She’s the product of an unbonded mother and severe father issues, why else would she proposition an alpha nearly double her age.”

“Sherlock--”

“You’ll be surrounded by a litter of infants and her collection of seashells, and she’ll never allow you out on a case because she--”

“Shut up, Sherlock.”

His jaw clicks shut, and he stares at John with angry eyes. Sherlock hopes the panic doesn’t shine through the cracks, bright and obvious and so so very pathetic.

Sherlock scrubs his hand through his hair, makes a jerky gesture with his hand for John to continue.

“I don’t want Candace.” John says slowly, “I didn’t even take her number.”

“Oh,” Sherlock says, dumbfounded, and by oh he really means why, but he’s too perplexed and cowardly to ask.

“I’ll get you the bleach,” John does a poor job of covering his smile. “You owe us a new microwave.”

He kisses the corner of Sherlock’s mouth as John presses the cleaning brush into his hand.

---

 

Sherlock doesn’t even complain as he scrubs brains from the kitchen, even though John is sitting there, stealing glances of Sherlock bent over the hob, and doing nothing else.

John adjusts himself in his pants when Sherlock reaches down to pick up the napkins he purposefully dropped to the floor.

 

---

This time the symptoms seem obvious, Sherlock mentally charts them now that he expects them all to culminate in the onset of heat. He ought to have a week and three days left, give or take a couple days, a few hours, some insignificant minutes. Perhaps he should steal Mrs. Hudson’s micro-refrigerator to keep in the bedroom so they can always have cool water at hand. They haven’t even discussed whose bedroom they’ll fuck each other incoherent in, presumably Sherlock’s since he has the larger bed and more immediate access to the downstairs amenities. He’ll ask John later.

His appetite increases twofold, then decreases to the point where a full meal turns Sherlock’s stomach. He’s retaining water, energy that he’ll need when the heat increases his metabolism, but they’ll be so frantic with rutting that it’s unlikely Sherlock will be able to eat much at all.

The moods swings are hell, and John must know this because he’s being patient in that dull, annoying, spectacular, infuriating way of his, and Sherlock might actually crawl down his throat and shred John from the inside out.

“Stop coddling me! I’m not your patient!” Sherlock shouts and spins down to the floor, dressing gown that he hasn’t taken off in three days fanning out, and lies on his belly.

“You’re favouring your stomach. Your tum hurt? I can get you something for it.” John prattles on about stomach cramps that proceed heat, Sherlock likely more susceptible since his body is still acclimating to the absence of suppressants. Sherlock oughtn’t be concerned, it’s just his transport making the subtle internal arrangements to blahblahblahblah.

It’s all said with such objective clinicality that it grates the raw ends of Sherlock’s nerves. He thought waiting for heat with John would be… sexy? They haven’t kissed since Sherlock backed John up against Mrs. Hudson’s pantry after John fixed a shelf. They kissed until John had to reach back to steady himself against the repaired wood, the glue gave and John sent a tin of Hobnobs and dry macaroni scattering to the floor.

Sherlock draws the line when John suggests taking his blood pressure the next morning. Sherlock erupts like a spewing geyser, shouts rude things about John’s terrible writing, his frankly annoying habit of singing in the shower, his awful burnt bacon on Sundays, John is an idiot, and Sherlock has no idea why alphas are such idiots. It would truly be better if omegas were able to reproduce asexually, like a hammerhead shark! In fact, Sherlock would prefer being eaten, alive, by a shark, rather than submit to being bred by a league of drivelling oafs.

“Fine,” John says tonelessly after Sherlock finally has to take a breath mid-rant. “Right. So you’ve got all this handled then,” he waves toward Sherlock’s body, “Good.”

Sherlock is prepared to go on, but John is turning his back and walking out of the door, it takes all the breath out of Sherlock. There’s all this space left behind and Sherlock despises it, but pride won’t allow him to set after John.

He tries doing an experiment on germinating lima beans, but is unable to concentrate. He drinks an entire bottled water, but it sloshes uncomfortably in his stomach.
After the first hour is up, and John still hasn’t come home, Sherlock flings himself against the sofa. His skin feels too small for him, stretched, itchy over his bones, limited and confined.

He throws his phone across the room because John hasn’t even texted him.

Heat crawls into his cheeks, but it’s been doing that for days, now. A clock somewhere in the room ticks too loudly and Sherlock has to press his palms over his ears to block the sound.

The unoccupied space where John would be, is stagnant. When Sherlock can’t stand it anymore he rolls over, closing his eyes to keep himself from the sight.

---

 

Sherlock wakes up stuck to the couch. His skin gone clammy, the seat of his pyjamas sodden. Emptiness pulses low in his abdomen.

Of course.

Of course it would happen this way. Of course Sherlock would chase John out of the flat, effectively condemning himself. Sherlock’s transport is completely useless, what a stupid stupid, transport. He wasn’t due for another half week, it’s too soon for--

The tell-tale spark of burning electricity builds at the bottom of his spine and surges upward, causing Sherlock to arch and gasp, shut his eyes and hold tight to a pillow. The paroxysms will begin in full force, momentarily. They won’t subside until Sherlock has something filling him up, until he’s forced to give in and touch himself. He needs his mate.

No, not his mate, John. Just--just--he needs him.

Sherlock scrambles off the couch in search of his mobile he’d tossed away earlier, crawls on his hands and knees and looks under chairs and scattered newspapers.

He finds his pack of cigarettes in the slipper John hid two months ago when Sherlock swore he was done for good. Sherlock considers smoking, perhaps, all of them at once. Gather them all between his lips and just light them in one blaze of glorious carcinogens. He’s beginning to panic, admittedly, and a nicotine fix will--

Sherlock opens the box and inside a piece of printing paper is rolled up, a note in John’s handwriting: These things will kill you.

Sherlock doesn’t know if he should sob or laugh.

He spots his phone three feet away, lying half-covered by the blue and black striped jumper John had taken off while writing up a case and laid on the back of his chair. Sherlock snatches up both mobile and jumper. The jumper goes right over his head, and Sherlock holds the collar to his nose and is temporarily relieved by the meagre presence of John’s scent, crept into the fibers. Of course the thing is short at the wrists, but Sherlock doesn’t care about vanity right now.

Shaking fingers find John’s number, and Sherlock sends the call. It rings three times before John finally picks up.

“Sherlock, I was just about to call you,” John immediately starts talking, “Look, about earlier, I--”

“Shut up, get here,” Sherlock’s voice nothing but rough gravel, “I’m,” and Sherlock must dig his fingers into the plastic of the phone, rock back onto his heels and moan miserably as a weak paroxysm vibrates his insides. “Ah, fuck,” Sherlock whispers in a momentary lapse of descriptive vocabulary.

John seems to echo the sentiment, “Shit, oh shit. Are you in--” Sherlock can hear John running, shouting at a cab to hold. “Stay there,” John says firmly, and Sherlock looks around the flat. Where the hell would he go? He’d be swarmed as soon as a toe touched the pavement. “Do not go out, close the windows if you’ve got any open. I’ll be there in--fuck--ten minutes.” Sherlock groans and sniffs John’s jumper.

“John,” Sherlock’s stomach clenches and flutters.

“I’m on my way.”

Sherlock’s fingers are shaking too much, and the phone slips out of his hand. It falls to the floor, disconnecting the call.

Windows. Windows. Sherlock makes his way to standing and manages to close the window to the sitting room. Wouldn’t do to have any stray alphas climbing their way up the brick siding, it wouldn’t do for Sherlock to stick his head out and shout his reproductive status to the world, in an ill-thought, desperate plea for relief.

Ten minutes takes ages when one’s body is intent on climbing the fever scale, when Sherlock’s insides contract and tighten around the place where a knot should be. His clothes are sweltering, choking him, and he can’t seem to make his fingers function properly in order to shuck off the offending items.. Sherlock thinks of boa constrictors. He watched a terrible film on boa constrictors once. Or was it Anacondas? A man was regurgitated, and Sherlock had thought it would be terribly fascinating to see a completely intact human being regurgitated by a giant snake.

Were the snakes some sort of artistic allusion to penises? Snakes are often used as a phallic reference.

It doesn’t matter, and jesusfuckfuck, Sherlock bows his spine and clasps an arm around his belly when a stronger spasm gathers and releases.

Sherlock curls in on himself, right there on the floor, out in the open. He doesn’t want John to walk in and wonder where he is. It’s not a logical thought, not really, John will probably be able to--

A door slams below him, and Sherlock can already smell him, John’s heavy androstenol markers. Mrs. Hudson asks John some inane question and he shouts at her, apologises (even though the apology is shouted as well) and asks her very nicely to please go to her sister’s for a few days because Sherlock is a dripping mess of heat and need and John is going to fuck him through the floor.

John of course doesn’t say those exact words. Sherlock is simply projecting, fantasizing as he’s done for over a year now.

Feet pounding against the steps, the scent of imminent rut getting stronger and stronger, and Sherlock’s body knows this. Reacts. John’s presence eliciting a lightning-like paroxysm. This one isn’t uncomfortable as the other’s were, Sherlock knows on a biological level that relief is nearby, and the anticipation is so sweet that Sherlock could just spread his legs and cry from it.

The door flies open and John’s eyes are dark, owning Sherlock as he pants and writhes his way through the spasm. John locks the door. A fresh wave of pheromones pushes at Sherlock, his legs tilt open on instinct, in invitation.

“Sherlock,” John whispers when Sherlock finishes squirming, and Sherlock looks pointedly at John’s erection. He rushes down to Sherlock, right there on the floor, fits himself over Sherlock’s body and kisses him hungrily. His tongue slips behind Sherlock’s teeth even as he begins undoing his shirt buttons, kicking his jeans away.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” John tells him between kisses, between Sherlock’s aggravated efforts to lift into John, trying to fuck himself in any way possible, even through the barriers of pants and pyjamas. John rips off cotton bottoms and moans when a finger slips easily inside of Sherlock, twists. “I shouldn’t have left like that. God, so wet. Tell me I can do this. Tell me it’s okay.”

“Yes, ah, yes,” Sherlock plants his palms on the floor and pushes down onto John’s fingers. John curses under his breath and bends down to sniff at Sherlock’s throat, fingers shoving in hard, stroking up and not enough, not filling him up nearly enough. John presses a messy kiss in Sherlock’s suprasternal notch before moving lower, sucking at skin, the flat of his tongue laving over a peaked nipple.

“How do you feel?” John asks, ever the pragmatic, even when his entire body is telling him to invade, claim.

“Vulnerable,” Sherlock surprises himself with the honesty.

“Well, I do have my fingers up your arse, so,” John smiles down at him, sweat already turning the tips of his hair dark.

He hiccoughs a laugh, also surprising, and keeps grinding down, eyes falling shut. “I need more.”

“I know.”

And to be clear: “I still want it.”

“I know.”

John marks a hot bruise at the thin skin stretched over the iliac crest and the crease of Sherlock’s thigh, he bites down feverishly, the skin protests, then gives way. He licks over the spot. Sherlock cries out, arches to press more skin against John’s teeth, spasm building its way up his spine, blood ringing loud in his ears. I love you I love you I love you.

The bite isn’t in a spot where the glands can be accessed for a bond, but it’s so close. So close.

John must be able to feel the tension. Sherlock’s abdominal muscles straining, he flips him over at the hips, budges him up on his knees. Sherlock remembers this much from A/B/O Sexual Studies, the traditional presentation of an omega to their alpha. The pictures in the textbook were hideous. An omega drawn with the fleshtone of plasticine, thighs splayed open like a roasted cornish hen straight from the oven, the sort of thing Sherlock had seen served at Father’s socialite parties. Sherlock perhaps should reach for dignity, but there’s no need. He’s spread out and dripping like a tasty dish, and it feels right. John likes it.

A single fingers traces all the way down Sherlock’s spine, nails scratching at his sacrum. He makes a tight sound, shivers unaccountably.

“John,” the paroxysm is reaching its tipping point inside of him, the scale dropping. “Spasm, it, I--” he tries desperately to control his breathing, desperately pushes back against John and moans at the feel of hot flesh bumping against hot flesh. Suddenly, the knowledge of what John is about to do sets in, what they’re about to do together, it vibrates in Sherlock’s mind, his entire body keens for it.

“About to,” John lines himself up behind Sherlock, “God, I am. We should have gone to the bedroom--we should have--”

Sherlock whines, it’s a terrible sound, it’s wonderful. Breath spirals up and up, every nerve ending bursting online, shining with painfully coloured focus, and John is clamping one hand down on the back of Sherlock’s neck to keep him squirming out of alignment. He’s telling Sherlock something, asking him something, but Sherlock is all shake and need and if John doesn’t do something right now, he might shred apart at the seams, he might--

John groans and presses firmly inside of Sherlock, just as the paroxysm reaches its zenith.

The surprised cry gets stuck in Sherlock’s throat, emerges as a silent gasp for air, the sensation of being so full that he might split in two passes and dissolves into hundreds of voltaic sparks marching up and down his spine. Internal musculature ripples around the intrusion, finally there’s something for Sherlock’s body to grasp onto, to pull deeper into himself.

“Okay?” John’s voice shakes all the way out, muscles trembling with restraint to keep from pounding into him as biology dictates he should. But John manages to hold himself, to rub circles into Sherlock’s prickling skin.

Sherlock answers by rocking back against John, the sensation of his cock sliding wetly in and out of Sherlock’s body is so close to perfection. More, he needs more and faster, and harder, and, “Fuck me,” depress spine, shift forward on palms, press back with knees, “Now. Move.”

“Jesus, Sherlock,” John’s voice wrapped around guttural punches of noise. John immediately picks up the pace, grasps Sherlock firmly by the hips and shoves into him again and again. Their flesh smacks together loudly, the sound of greedy moans, tight grunts, the sound of fucking, it fills the room.

John grounds Sherlock with his entire body, forces him to own the sensation of lubrication sluicing down his spread thighs, the plump, ridged head of John’s penis brushing so deeply inside, taking up all the space. Each possessive thrust into Sherlock’s slick channel chases away the fear of hollowness, panic, of the all-consuming loneliness Sherlock has felt gnawing away at the very core of him.

Sherlock’s body rocks with the momentum, his knees burn as they are abraded against carpet fibers. Everything feels solid, and bright, and Sherlock is acutely aware of John’s fully engorged knot bumping against him with every frenzied hump.

“You’ll take my knot,” John demands, matter-of-fact, no question to it. “Fill you up. Breed you, fuck. Do you want that?” His fingertips snatch into Sherlock’s skin, oh the lovely map of bruises that will appear. Sherlock thinks wildly of the crime scene they’d make, sweat and blood and semen and skin, bits of Sherlock’s hair plucked from the root: Evidence of John’s desire for him.

John’s hand snakes up, tangles tight into Sherlock’s curls and pulls. Sherlock’s throat is completely exposed, he stares bleary eyed from reactive tears up at the ceiling. It’s perfect. The pressure on his scalp, John pulling until his spine cups into a new angle, Sherlock’s fingers scrabbling frenetically at the nap of the rug in order to accommodate John in the most empty part of his body. John’s alpha instinct pulling words out of John like, “No one else, no one else can have you, take it, take it,” and Sherlock does take. He takes like he always does from John, leaching the thing that makes John John like a covetous sponge and holding it hostage. A ball of warmth curling into the cage of his ribs.

John slumps over Sherlock’s back, coaxes him farther onto his lap, the knot beginning to push its way past the resistance of Sherlock’s body. It’s better this way, the arm clasped around Sherlock’s waist is supporting much of the weight now that Sherlock’s limbs are reduced to air and smoke, one hundred pieces of glass gradually shattering apart. He’s been pushed past being able to do anything other than groaning and panting, mind switching off all other superfluous thought in order to magnify the slick glide of John pushing into him, taking John’s cock and begging for more. The deep scent of alpha and omega co-mingling, licking into his lungs with each ragged gulp for breath.

“You never should have let me have you. Do this.” John whispers in his ear, like a secret held between lovers, pressing and holding inside even as Sherlock weakly makes an effort to regain the momentum. John rubs his nose into the damp curls at Sherlock’s nape, sending ripples of shivers everywhere, stimulating gooseflesh across the heightened sensitivity of heated skin. “I’m not ever going to want to stop.”

Sherlock wildly thinks to inform John that a heat cycle only lasts four to five days, that afterward John will remember that Sherlock is selfish, something of a sociopath, and leaves plastic tubs of human fingers frozen next to the raspberry sorbet. John will shake himself free of hormones and the unstable nature of attraction, and go back to happily fucking his way through London’s beta females. One day he’ll find a darling omega, because biology does tend to have its way by the end, and they’ll move far away from Sherlock. It’ll leave Sherlock with quiet rooms, bacon-less Sundays, an empty chair where John ought to be.

Without thinking, Sherlock bows his head, exposes the line of hormone receptors at the back of his neck in a submission reflex. John’s inhale is sharp, immediately he’s fucking up into Sherlock, growling his name, their bodies are smearing together with sweat and lubrication, saliva.

“I’m not going to,” John’s voice is rough, breath wet and hot on the back of Sherlock’s neck, “But I could, I could and you’d let me. You wouldn’t have a choice, you’d let me keep you. Can I?”

The paroxysm coils up, burns like nothing else, and John is still driving into him hard and animalistic. The knot is just beginning to slip in. He’s so close, Sherlock is so wonderfully, terribly, close. He wants it so much, to be thrown down, his body spread open to cede victory to its alpha, to be knotted and stuffed full up. Come leaking from him for days as John’s sperm desperately seek out an egg to fertilise.

Oh fuck, Sherlock thinks as John grunts and the knot finally slips completely inside, oh fuck. The stretch is painful and perfect and and and--

The first touch of John’s teeth high on Sherlock’s nape releases the strings of tension pulled taut through his middle. He shouts John’s name, sobs out unintelligible noises, entire body doubling over with the searing pleasure of coming. Coming is a dreadfully insufficient term for the thing that Sherlock does. If coming can be termed as your veins filling with pure energy, fever breaking and coating your limbs in warm, gossamer tendrils of bliss, then yes. Sherlock comes.

He’s vaguely aware of John wordlessly tipping his face low onto the upper notches of Sherlock’s vertebrae, hips pumping up as much as possible even as Sherlock’s body begins clamping down on the knot at the base of his cock. Presumably John is watching this happen, looking down to where he’s swallowed up eagerly.

The arm around Sherlock tightens, and then John presses Sherlock flat onto his belly, thighs spread so far apart in a way that any person with half a mind would call whorish.

Feels spectacular.

John’s cock is completely encased by Sherlock’s body, but he still continues to press his hips frantically against Sherlock’s arse as the final spasm begins rippling to lock the knot inside; Sherlock’s internal muscles stroking John to completion.

“God, ah ah” John bites out against Sherlock’s shoulder, “Love you,” and finally the inherent alpha compulsion appears, “Mine. Mine.” Sherlock falls apart all over, each syllable another cause to writhe against the damp rug.

John pushes once more, groans, and Sherlock can feel the knot expanding, holding them together as John pulses and pulses, gasps, and when Sherlock thinks sadly that John has finished, his muscles contract around John’s cock again and John digs his teeth into Sherlock’s shoulder blade, comes in him again. The heat of it, the hardening and twitching of John’s length, it makes Sherlock cry out. This orgasm is weaker, dimmer, but perfect because it doesn’t distract from the sensation of the knot moving up and down in little increments inside of him. It doesn’t keep Sherlock from hearing John’s hoarse moans, as pheromones make him tell Sherlock that he loves him, loves him so much, mine mine mine mine.

John’s breathing calms as he continues to knot Sherlock, they’ll be held together for anywhere between fifteen minutes to half an hour, and it’s likely John will slip out just to slam back in with a fresh wave of spasms. He helps them roll over until John is spooned up behind Sherlock and nuzzling into the space between his scapulae. Sherlock’s breath catches in his throat, hurts, at the realisation that John is scenting this new odor; of Sherlock having taken on tones of John’s androstenol, signalling any potential competitors that he’s already been mated, knotted, is full of another alpha’s potential progeny.

“We’ll make it to the bedroom, next go,” John’s voice comes out as rumble against his skin. John continues to sniff, tongue flicking out to taste. “You feel amazing.”

“Oh. I…” and Sherlock doesn’t know how to complete the sentence because his brain is still a whirring cavern of sparkling light and buzzing bees.

In comparison to the riot of Sherlock’s hormone steeped mind at the onset of heat, he feels relatively sane now. Which isn’t saying much, but at least there’s some modicum of thought process past hot, wet, fuck me, knot me, now nownownow. (It’s really not nearly as poetic as the Mills & Boon harlequin romance novels make it out to be.)

“I would, you know,” John says, after a minute, “Bond with you. I was serious.”

Sherlock’s heart stutters, he has to wrench his neck to look at John in horror. John’s face is flushed from sex, eyes wide-open and bright, clear. “You don’t mean that.” No one could possibly mean that, no one could possibly say those words to Sherlock.

“I do.”

“You--” Sherlock begins, then stutters, slurs his words together and shakes his head. “You’re reacting to the pheromones, it’s not really you asking.”

“If you wanted to, we could next ro--”

“It doesn’t matter what I want,” Sherlock snarls the words, the statement tastes bitter on his tongue.

John sighs, “Of course it matters, you great idiot.” He rubs Sherlock’s ribs, pets his hair, whispers, “I want it,” softly against a shoulder blade. “Rest for a bit,” John commands, sticking his arm out for Sherlock to use as a pillow.

Sherlock, miraculously, is comfortable enough to close his eyes. With the knot in place, there’s no way John can leave without him noticing. No way he can be scooped up by another omega. Jealousy flares at the thought, but dissipates just as quickly as it came. Sherlock drifts hazily, John’s trigger finger tracing lines against his skin.

---

He wakes up gagging for it.

Sherlock has heard the term used before, and never quite understood the correlation. Sherlock associated gagging with Molly’s awful coffee, lungs filled with cigarette smoke inhaled the wrong way, but now, with a spasm building inside of him, he’s most definitely “gagging for it.” The thought of not being filled sickens him unacceptably, and he’ll beg. He will. He’ll get on his hands and knees and beg, if it means John shoving into him like some pliant fuck toy. God, oh God. He needs it.

John’s cock slipped out a moment ago, Sherlock was vaguely aware of the wet squelch, the trickle of semen running out of him.

Now, John sits upright behind him, gulps at the flood of pheromones gearing up, enveloping them both in its decadence.

“Bed, bed, before I--” John yanks Sherlock off the ground, begins trying to steer him down the hall and into the bedroom. Sherlock can’t even think to cooperate with this action, and doesn’t see the point. The sofa is right there, he could just bend over the arm--

They’re all over each other. Sherlock keeps trying to hoist himself onto John’s cock as John slams him up against a wall and begins licking into his mouth. John’s hands reach and squeeze Sherlock’s bottom, an index finger straying to dip into the lubricant running freely down his legs.

“God, you’re burning up. You’re so bloody hot,” John palms Sherlock’s cock, flicks a wet thumb over the glans and his body jerks.

Sherlock pants, wraps his arms around John’s shoulders, one leg up over a hip. “I need this,” he moans pitifully when he fails to properly line up against the shorter frame of John’s body. “You’ve no idea how much I need it.”

“I do, I do,” John assures, “I’ll take care of you, make you feel better, I promise.”

John manhandles Sherlock and his flailing, grasping, limbs over to the bed and pushes him onto his back. He descends over Sherlock’s body in one fluid motion, slips inside, hips instantly setting a brutally perfect pace as he angles for the right spot.

This time is quicker, the need more urgent. Sherlock’s shouts echo off his walls, spasms erupt two at a time. John’s eyes are zeroed in to where he’s pounding slickly into Sherlock, knot already swollen and being greedily swallowed by Sherlock’s sopping entrance.

“Do it,” Sherlock shouts at him, “Do it, knot me, fuck--like that, ah, John. Now!” Sherlock’s fingernails scratch at John’s skin, possibly bringing up blood.

John looks up from the image of his cock fucking hard into Sherlock, growls at the distraction, and strong hands pin Sherlock’s wrists above his head.

“I swear I will tie you up and watch you squirm,” Sherlock’s body stretches with the motion, his own penis jutting up and bobbing proudly with each forceful thrust, torso lengthened in one collinear line.

“Unh,” Sherlock says, “You wouldn’t. You cou--couldn’t.” Not for very long at least.

John smiles, teeth shining predatorily. Mesmerizing.

John’s sweat drips from his nose and rolls down Sherlock’s heaving belly, “You’re just incredible. The way you smell right now, I--” John gasps, watches as Sherlock comes all over his belly. John follows behind, not moments later, his lips attached to Sherlock’s throat.

------

 

When Sherlock was a child, he was afraid of going blind. The widowed omega with three children had been struck blind by simply falling from a great height and landing poorly. She wore dark glasses, saw nothing. No alpha wanted her after, she was marred, damaged goods.

He feared it so deeply that he’d turn the dinner knives away from him.

“They’re looking at me,” he’d tell Mycroft, and stare pointedly away from the glinting tips. The silver blade showed his reflection too easily. He buried the knives in the vegetable garden, between the tomato ladders and yellow squash.

One night he looked up at the dining room ceiling, was struck by panic at the sight of the shards of crystals hanging from the chandelier. The next day, while Father was at her work, and Mummy was passed out by the wading pool, Sherlock climbed up the ladder he found in the shed, and knocked the chandelier to the table. Each pull at the fixture shook the crystals, made them chime like bells. The noise of it, the sway and shiver of the hung glass, it made Sherlock’s skin crawl in terrible ways.

It fell, wires contorting, some of the crystals broke free and shattered. Sherlock climbed down the ladder and ripped the remaining shards from their hooked posts, the bits cut his fingers, his hands, his feet and ankles.

Father found Sherlock squatting among the shining glass, bloody handprints and Sherlock’s proud smile that he’d disassembled this for all of them. Sherlock did Father a favor, and wasn’t he pleased?

Father was furious. She grabbed Sherlock hard by the shoulders, slapped him once across the cheek and cried out, “What’s wrong with you?”

Sherlock looked down to his sliced fingers. His fingers had been growing for ages now, and he had wondered when they would stop.

Father shook him, shouted, “Answer me!” and slapped his other cheek.

Sherlock never learned to settle down. To lean into it.

 

He wakes up choking on tears, caught unaware by the emptiness, and his body burns.

John is asleep behind him, simply rolls over and kisses along Sherlock’ spine, presses up and into. Spasms well up, and John chases them away with each thrust, brings the heat back into the dark corners of Sherlock’s mind.

John’s rubs along his thighs, his chest, his cock, each touch like cool hands on a sunburned back. A solid weight with properties that animate Sherlock.

He shuts his eyes, digs fingers into the sheets, pushes back.

----

 

Sherlock explores John’s body as the heat slows its pace. He pets curiously at the soft skin covering John’s ribs, behind his knees, sucks his fingers.

He’s particularly interested in settling between John’s legs and licking at his cock; tastes himself, the sweet, elemental tang of lubrication, the musky sharpness of John. He eases the head between his lips and sucks, like kissing, but manifested in a different sort of way. John moans and precome dribbles onto his tongue. He pulls off to lap eagerly at the tip, not wanting one drop to go to waste. Sherlock drops and rubs his lips along the nearly fully engorged knot at the base.

He keeps on like that for a minute, feels his own insides buzzing, the desire to be filled rising up from a dull throb, spreading out and contracting.

John gives in first. The combination of Sherlock sucking hungrily at his cock, and the fresh wave of pheromones Sherlock is emitting seems to drive him into a frenzy of lust. He paws at Sherlock’s hair, tugs him up. Sherlock scrambles, straddles John’s erection, and sinks down.

----

John fucks Sherlock while they’re in the kitchen trying to sneak a bite of food before they succumb to the next wave. Sherlock claws the pots and pans from the bench, sends them clattering to the floor. One cup flips into the air and sprays Sherlock with sour milk from the first day of heat. John’s hands clap down on his ribs. Mine, a voice in Sherlock’s head whispers gleefully, mine.

They look obscene, and it’s hell on Sherlock’s aching muscles, but they manage to share a bag of crisps as John’s knot keeps them together.

Afterward John washes Sherlock’s hair in the sink with dish soap. Laughs when Sherlock shakes out the water all over them both like a “Big, ruddy dog,” John declares.

Sherlock kisses him, doesn’t stop, only to breathe, until they’re back in bed and writhing against each other. The muted twilight shines through the curtains.

----

“It’ll be over soon,” John whispers, moving smoothly, slowly, on top of Sherlock. John’s quiet voice, the slick sound of their coupling, everything is growing more subdued. Less acute. “Tomorrow, I should think.” He sounds sad.

Sherlock swallows, throat working around a roughness there. “Back to normal then, I suppose.”

John looks away, frowns, hooks his arms around Sherlock’s legs and wraps them around his waist.

They don’t speak again for the rest of the night. Eventually John’s knot lets Sherlock go, they lie there together, holding hands and staring at the dark ceiling. Eventually John curls up against Sherlock, head resting on his shoulder, fingers still twined together.

----

 

Sherlock wakes up in bed alone. The sense of panic and rejection is sharp, immediate; and then the smell of burned bacon and coffee registers. John’s bare feet pad against the floor, in the direction of the bedroom.

They’ve only just spent the majority of the week locked up and breeding. Sherlock is still covered by John’s scent, it’s still there, inside of him. Not eight hours ago Sherlock had John’s knot. Is there some sort of protocol that requires fulfillment, after such an experience, on Sherlock’s behalf? Are clothes expected? His persistent nakedness seems presumptuous.

Any potential scenarios are put on hold when John enters the room, tray in hand. He’s already dressed, a navy button down smoothed into place, a pink impression of Sherlock’s teeth peaking out under his jaw. He stands in the doorway, the corner of his mouth turned up into a semblance of a grin.

Unexpected.

“Good morning,” John continues to stare. He nods toward Sherlock, and steps over to the bed, sets the tray on top of the table. “How are we?”

Curious way to phrase the question. Is it a circumspect method of asking how they are in fulfillment of sexual circumstance, or is he prompting Sherlock for a full physical and psychological update? Navigating double meanings in interpersonal conversation is not an area in which Sherlock excels.

“Fine,” it seems like a neutral enough statement. “I… What about you?” He scratches at his cheek, the stubble there is irksome.

“Good,” John smiles brightly, flicks a tentative finger out and brushes it down the line of Sherlock’s throat. “I’m afraid I’ve made a mess of you.” The faint touch sets off a shiver, sore muscles and hot bruises aching in tandem, a giddy thrill musters itself in the center of his chest when Sherlock thinks of turning in the bathroom mirror to examine all the evidence covering his body. Until then, there’s coffee.

John takes his mug by the handle spins it in a slow circle on the bedside table as he watches Sherlock drink and pick off the black tips from the bacon.

“I want to bond with you.”

Sherlock sloshes coffee over the side of his mug as his skeleton makes the sudden effort to leap out from underneath his skin, in surprise.

“You said that I was under the effects of pheromones, earlier, I’m not now--”

“A bit,” Sherlock reminds, the room is still full of their combined scent and if it’s distracting for Sherlock, it must be for John as well. “You still are, a bit.”

“Yes, well,” John takes a deep breath and looks into Sherlock’s wide eyes, “It doesn’t change that I still want to. Have done. Even when the world thought you were beta.”

“Precisely, so now that you realise you can shove a knot into me every few months, suddenly you bring the topic up. You think you’ll change my mind about offspring? Think you can breed me and make a trophy out of me like your kind prefers to do with their omegas?”

“We’re not all like that,” John shakes his head.

“I’m sure. It must be so tiresome to have your sex generalized and discriminated against,” Sherlock rolls his eyes.

“All right,” John nods, “That’s fair. I still mean it, though. If you want to.. If you’d have me.” Pink rises high underneath his collar, “Good. So there’s that,” John leans forward and kisses Sherlock’s cheek, “And now, you know.”

 

Later Sherlock will peel the sheets away from his body, later he will stand in front of the mirror and prod the bite marks and abrasions and the beautiful purple bruises. He’ll debate the merits of showering, and eventually be forced to do so because it wouldn’t do to be covered in dried lubricant and semen at a crime scene.

Later he’ll lie down on the bed after John has stripped the sheets and put on clean ones, Sherlock will replay the exact way John looked and sounded when he said, I want to bond with you. If you’d have me. As if John is the one so unworthy, unkeepable.

Later he will think of it again, because thinking is what the living do. He’ll think of it as he and John go out for coffee, the sky a headstrong shade of blue with sunlight pouring through. They’ll walk the wobbly path with all the cobblestone, the bumps spilling the coffee out and onto Sherlock’s wrist and sleeve. John will look at Sherlock when they’ve gone out to buy a new set of dishes since Sherlock broke half of them, clawing them down from the bench with John behind him. He’ll be reminded of it, and they’ll both smile and know.

They’ll shut the door behind them, and later they’ll speak of it. The yearning.

Sherlock will ask John to come to bed, to lie beside him. He’ll nudge their noses side by side, roll, stretch out on top of John and smear their mouths together. Sherlock will say, “Yes,” against John’s lips and John will know what he’s consenting to, because John needs a yes or no just as a painting needs perspective.

For a moment, Sherlock will be overcome with ordinary contentment; his disordered soul resolving its thirst for something he could not name.
----