John waits until the door of their rooms shuts, Sherlock three energetic steps and an enthusiastic 'John!' ringing through the flat before he moves.
It takes him seconds, quick, brutal, efficient. Arm under the chin, around the throat, pressure-
He's slammed against the wall, Sherlock shouting out in rage and surprise. John grunts and Sherlock takes the advantage, spins away in a graceful twirl of coat and hair.
John gives him no time. Giving Sherlock time, any time, is dangerous. The few seconds lost when the detective broke his choke hold might've been the key to the entire fight.
Judging by the betrayed and confused pinch around his pale, pale eyes possibly not, but again, John's not going to stick around and wait for him to figure it out.
His fist snaps out, hard hit to one shoulder that has Sherlock shifting, dragging his arms up to protect his face instinctually and leaving-
Yes, leaving his diaphragm open for a gut-shot that leaves him doubled over, gasping for breath and then- yes, nearly gagging up the little he'd eaten that morning. John steps forward, dodges one pale fist, but Sherlock's shaking.
John analyses, thinks. Half a second and he snaps out another fist.
This one doesn't make him gag, but it doesn't seem as if Sherlock can quite remember how to breathe.
John watches, a small trickle of dark amusement as Sherlock collapses to his knees.
Sherlock looks up at him through his fringe, eyes wide and John lets his smirk stretch across his face. When he'd imagined doing this before, John hadn't know what to put on his pretend-Sherlock's face. Surely he'd be surprised. Possibly. Well, maybe in John's wildest imaginings. Shock though, that was good. Unexpected, completely unexpected, but good.
"Glad you could finally bring yourself home, Sherlock. Was wondering if you were ever going to come back."
He makes sure to keep his tone light and bored, makes sure to keep his eyes on Sherlock's eyes first, pays attention to the movements of his hands.
Sherlock's still wheezing, but John keeps careful track of his progress in recovery so that when he steps forward, he knows by the shifting of his hips, the tilt of his shoulders, that Sherlock is going to move.
Sherlock comes at him as if he's wrestling, arms stretched out, attempting to knock him down where Sherlock's height and John's lack of leverage would finish the fight for him. John side-steps this attempt easily.
He adds an elbow strike to the back that sends Sherlock sprawling, smacking his head sharply against the door from the added momentum.
Sherlock groans, stirs feebly.
And chokes, scrambling against the rope that's suddenly strung about his throat. John hauls up and back, stretching, forcing Sherlock to stretch and bend with him. He holds the position for a few moments, relishing the feeling of that trim body bucking beneath his own but releases him before Sherlock passes out.
"You know," John starts idly as his hands begin stripping off the scarf and coat Sherlock loved to deck himself out in, "I never liked that scarf."
"Maybe latter I can burn it," he laughs darkly into Sherlock's ear. He sinks his teeth into shoulder with ferocity. Sherlock screams, short and breathless until John lets him go with his teeth and bites instead with the rope. Underneath him, Sherlock bucks again, hands scrambling and scratching at the rope around his throat. John again waits until he almost passes out.
"God, that's gratifying. You, underneath me for once." John chuckles. "People will talk."
John stops. Tilts his head as if a thought had just occurred to him.
"You know, if people are already talking…"
Underneath him, Sherlock stills before his movements become frantic.
John hauls back on the rope once more, biting harshly at his ear, "No, no, Sherlock. Baaad idea. Very bad idea, now." He guides the rope ends to one hand, makes sure they're secure. He doesn't let up, even when Sherlock is barely conscious, his respiration almost non-existent, and rips at his jacket, pulling it down his arms till he has them trapped in fabric and can tie off one end of the rope around them.
He lets loose the other end- oh, he definitely wants Sherlock awake for this.
He has Sherlock's trousers open and barely off his arse when Sherlock starts moving with anything that could be called deliberation. He huffs in amusement. "Oh, finally back with us, love? Was worried you'd sleep through the best part."
"But don't worry," John hums into his skin, yanks down his pants, "I'd have waited for you."
He takes a moment to shove his own trousers hastily down his thighs and spit messily into his own hand to slick himself before he drags Sherlock's hips up and forces himself in.
"God, fuck you're tight," John grunts, abandoning the rope in favor of shoving that mess of curls into the carpet. He pauses a moment, struggles to hold on to everything and sinks his short nails into the sides beneath his palms, trying to still the body beneath him trying weakly to get away.
"John- please, John-"
John pulls back and fucks back in to another, if quieter, scream. He squeezes his eyes shut.
"Please, John. Stop, please, no-"
John's rhythm stumbles-
"Don't, please stop-"
John pulls out, drops Sherlock's hips and sputters out 'Baker!' before scrambling to the kitchen sink and throwing up.
A moment, he needs a moment, takes it there, head bent over the sink, metal glinting dully from the streetlight outside. He'd tried, god he'd tried. More than anything he'd tried. Jesus Christ, he can't even- John feels the thick welling up of shame try to curl his shoulders in as bile eats at his throat for a second time.
He doesn't fight it. Throws up.
The hand on his shoulder is unexpected and he flinches, curls in, disengages contact.
"John," soft, low, gentle. Concerned. "John."
"I'm- Just need a second," he chokes out.
"John." Chiding and still soft. He shrinks further inward, curling nearly into the sink, and it all comes spilling out, all the I'm sorry's he'd eaten with stoic difficulty the last two times they'd tried. He says it silently, in the dark, facing away from Sherlock and hiding the tears even from himself.
"John, it's fine. John, John," Sherlock tries, but John's not able to accept the comfort, still hiding from himself. Fingers skate gently over his shoulder and he sobs, no longer silent, once, before Sherlock makes a noise of quiet distress and turns him gently, gathers him in.
They end up on the floor of the kitchen, Sherlock cradling John in his arms, back against the cabinets. He'd stopped murmuring soothing words a few minutes ago, simply holding, running a hand through John's hair. The occasional shuddering breath skitters through his frame, but the tears have largely stopped.
"John," Sherlock starts into the silence, "I think we need to talk about this."
John pushes his face further into Sherlock's shoulder. He wishes they didn't.
"John." Gentle, firm. Resolute.
John doesn't want to do this.
"I'm sorry, Sherlock." John sighs. "I don't- I don't think I'll be able to give you this."
"And that's fine- it's fine," Sherlock soothes. "I just think-…"
John tries not to let his muscles tense up when Sherlock trails off, valiantly fights off a flinch at the softly exhaled 'oh!'. He's afraid that he didn't succeed as well as he'd like in either pursuit.
John knows what he's going to ask.
One or the other, one of two, because that's what they all ask, everyone asks when he can't seem to play, but Sherlock should be-
John freezes. He hadn't thought there'd been a third option.
The silence above him goes still and empty as a void.
Despite very real reasons to keep face, John lets himself dissolve further into Sherlock's strength.
"I don't want to talk about it." John keeps his voice level and reasonably normal. One corner of his mouth twitches in black, prideful humor. At least he can still lie about it. Even if he can't shove the images down deep enough, can't make himself force himself to forget, he can still lie.
Sherlock doesn't say anything, just runs his fingers through John's hair in soothing circles.
"Yeah, I know," John sighs, because he does and because Sherlock would never let something like that go-
"No. It's fine," Sherlock says. Pauses. "We don't have to talk about it now," quietly.
John curls further into his chest, pushes his head up under Sherlock's chin.
And starts to speak.
"When he first appeared, I thought he was Mycroft. He showed up in one of those big, black town cars your brother loves to go gallivanting around in and…"