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It was with a definite spring in his step that John climbed the seventeen stairs up to 221B on a Thursday afternoon. He side-stepped the squeaky one out of habit -- which was pointless, since Sherlock most certainly had heard him by now -- and opened the door of the flat to see Sherlock stretched out on the sofa, staring up at the ceiling. It was, incidentally, the exact same position Sherlock had been in when John left that morning. He had indeed gone out, though, if the seven texts John had received in the interim were to be believed.

"Have any luck at the morgue?"

Sherlock hummed in response, which was a good sign. If he was in a foul mood he wouldn't have responded at all.

John pulled off his coat and headed into the kitchen to put the kettle on. Several minutes later he settled into his usual chair with his fingers wrapped around a warm cup. Sherlock continued to stare at the ceiling, though the toes on his bare feet were wiggling in a way they only did when he was anxious. There was only one -- well, three really, but it was most likely the one -- thing that Sherlock could possibly be anxious about.

After two full minutes of silence, John finally gave in. "Aren't you going to ask?"

A smile curled at the corners of Sherlock's mouth. "Unnecessary. You'll tell me anyway."

"I thought you'd be curious, at least." Sherlock was insanely curious, John knew: the toes were nearly twitching now.

"I'm not meant to know the details, am I?"

"He said I could tell you what I liked, for now."

"Is there something you'd like to tell me?" He sounded completely disinterested, but John knew better.

"Well, if you're going to be that enthusiastic, I won't tell you anything."

Sherlock turned to look at him, frown firmly in place, and John couldn't stop himself from grinning. Sherlock rolled his eyes. "You're about to burst, and you've no one else to tell. All I have to do is wait."

John laughed. "I think I might enjoy making you wait."

Thirty seconds later Sherlock pushed himself to sitting. "All right, fine. Tell me."

The temptation to tease him a bit more was strong, but he was right: John was about to burst. He set his tea aside and smiled. "I'll start next week. Just training for now, some special ops stuff. Still, it's exciting. I haven't quite wrapped my head around it all."

Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "He's got you in mind for something in particular. I don't like it."

John's smile faded. "I know, but--"

"I thought you were happy with the blogging and working on cases." His gaze drifted to his knees and his expression was carefully neutral.

John paused. If it had been anyone else, he would have read a touch of hurt in that comment, maybe even jealousy and a hint of an attempt at emotional manipulation. But this was Sherlock, and Sherlock didn't do passive-aggressive -- at least, not with John. He exhaled slowly, his gaze fixed on Sherlock's face. "I am happy, of course, but Mycroft pays very well. We could use the money."

"We can pay our expenses without you taking on another job."

That takes you away from here, where I need you, was implied, of course, but John heard it all the same.

"You'll hardly notice I'm gone. You rarely do anyway." Sherlock looked up again, his expression sharp, and John sighed. "It's just training for now, and I'm going to be paid quite well for it. I can always say no later, can't I?"

Sherlock didn't respond to that; he just looked at the floor between them. John pressed his lips together in a tight line. It sounded ridiculous even to him: people didn't say no to Mycroft. People other than Sherlock, anyway.

"And it's not as if I'm going to stop working with you. You know how much I enjoy it. I just need… something that's mine. Do you understand?"


John looked away, shifting in his chair. "Any luck on that case of the murdered police officer?"

Sherlock didn't seem perturbed by the sudden change of subject. "Actually, yes. I could use your help with something." He pushed to his feet and stretched.

"Of course," John replied, his eyes following the lines of Sherlock's body. "How can I help?"

"Stand." Sherlock crossed to the wall where he'd pinned up photos of the victim's bruised torso. "And take off your shoes."

"Okay." John tugged them off one by one and set them aside.

"And your shirt."

"My shirt? Why?" John looked over to where Sherlock was pulling a few photos off of the wall. Predictably, there was no response. John's fingers were halfway done with the buttons anyway -- following orders from Sherlock was habit by now.

Sherlock handed him the photos and then began pushing furniture around to clear a space in the middle of the room. John raised his eyebrows, but he didn't ask -- he'd find out soon enough. He focused instead on the photos. He hadn't known Maria Hamilton but Greg had worked with her before, years ago.

"Sexually assaulted, beaten, stabbed and left bleeding in an alley, in uniform." He handed the photos back to Sherlock. "This sort of case doesn't usually interest you. Are you that bored, or is there something more going on here?"

"Personal favor for Lestrade." Sherlock wrinkled his nose, as if he found the very idea distasteful.

"God knows you owe him a roster full by now."

"I was going to refuse -- seemed a simple enough case of random violence -- but the coroner's report stated that the bruises on the victim's body could have been formed as much as five hours before she was stabbed. I also got a look at her uniform, though it took some negotiating, and it was in pristine condition. Well, except for the stab wound."

John frowned. "What does that mean?"

"Her attacker beat and raped her in the middle of the afternoon -- on a bed with very cheap sheets, by the way, still traces of threads on the body -- then redressed her in a clean and pressed uniform, somehow kept her subdued without using drugs or any obvious restraints, and then waited until dark to take her to that alley and stab her to death."

"That doesn't sound terribly likely."

"Which is why I decided to take a closer look. Lie down."

John blinked at him. "On the floor?"

Sherlock's expression was the one he generally reserved for people he regarded as complete imbeciles.

John sighed and sank to the floor; it was cold and hard and far dustier than it ought to be. "I assume I'm the victim here?"

"Yes. She had some very light abrasions on her upper back, so we can assume her attacker had her in a position something like this." Sherlock straddled John's legs and sat on his thighs.

John swallowed. "How much of this are you planning to recreate?"

Sherlock ignored the question, instead leaning forward to place his hands in several different spots on John's arms. "And there were bruises here and here and--" His hands slid lightly up John's arms, over his bare chest, and down his sides to his hips. "--here."

"So he was holding her down and… what, hitting her?" If Sherlock thought John was going to allow himself to be pummeled for the purposes of an experiment, he was about to find out just how wrong he was.

Sherlock leaned over him, bracing his hands on John's shoulders. "Fight me off."

"Gladly," John muttered. He twisted, but Sherlock's not inconsiderable weight was pressing him into the floor and he had to struggle to get any leverage.

"Come on, try. Don't be afraid to hurt me."

"That's not what I'm afraid of." John bucked up against him and pushed at his torso with his hands. It was far more difficult than he would have anticipated, which was oddly more embarrassing than frustrating. He gripped Sherlock's arms hard and finally managed to dislodge him, then got a leg wrapped around his lower body and flipped him over onto the hard floor with a satisfying thud.

Sherlock winced as John released him. "Would she have known how to do that?"

"Or something similar, yeah. She would've had the standard self-defense training."

"Let's try it again."

John stretched out on his back again and Sherlock resumed the position, this time sitting on John's hips, his knees on either side. And John had been self-conscious before, Jesus. Sherlock nodded and John struggled to push him off again. It was more difficult with the shift in weight, but still not impossible.

"Wait, stop for a moment." Sherlock sat back and stared down at him. "Put your arms over your head."

John did so while Sherlock plucked a photo from the floor and studied it for a moment before dropping it again. He leaned over John and repositioned his arms so that his elbows were bent at right angles, then grasped his forearms. He then pushed John's thighs apart with one knee and settled between them, lowering himself onto John's body.

"Now try again."

John swallowed. The position was incredibly suggestive: their hips were pressed together and John's thighs were spread --he could wrap his legs around Sherlock's waist if he wanted -- oh God.


He realized he was staring up at Sherlock stupidly, and had been for several seconds now. "Right, fight you off. Sorry."

It was significantly harder than he would have expected. His hands were effectively bound: Sherlock's weight pressing down against them was proving hard to dislodge, and if he wasn't careful he'd end up as bruised as the victim.

That might not be a bad thing, his brain not-so-helpfully supplied. Sherlock shifted against him, reminding him of what people in this particular position were usually up to, and oh God he was going to get hard at this rate. He tried harder to dislodge the body above him, but Sherlock continued to hold him down, fingers digging into his flesh.

"Yes," Sherlock said, panting now, and the sound of it was almost pornographic. "I think this is exactly what happened. One more thing."

And then he pressed his mouth against John's. John's brain shut down for a long moment before he realized that there was a method to this madness, that the distribution of Sherlock's weight had changed. He couldn't kiss John and simultaneously hold his arms down quite so firmly, and with a bit of effort John was able to push him up and off.

"Yes, exactly," Sherlock said, grinning now. "Put your arms like this and let's try it again." John allowed himself to be positioned like a puppet, this time with his arms crossed at the wrists and stretched over his head. Sherlock pressed him into the floor and kissed him again. It was a fairly chaste kiss, clearly not intended to do anything more than simulate the scenario -- and Jesus fuck, was that really necessary? -- but the combination of lips and a warm body above him, holding him down, and Sherlock sliding ever so slightly between his legs was finally more than he could take.

He felt an unmistakable stirring in his groin and twisted his head away from the kiss. "Stop, stop. Sherlock… Stop!"

Sherlock sat up, back, and John twisted under him to roll onto his belly before his erection was any more evident.

"Are you all right? Are you hurt?" Sherlock's voice had a strange tone to it, something John hadn't heard before. He sounded… concerned? If he'd sounded completely unaffected John might have punched him.

"I'm fine, just… give me a minute, would you?" Oh God. He was mortified and still incredibly turned on. By Sherlock, of all people, holding him down and pretending to… Jesus, he couldn't even think the words.

Sherlock said nothing, fortunately, just sat on the floor next to him, apparently lost in thought.

"So," John said when he was finally able to sit up without humiliating himself, "what exactly did we learn from that exercise?" Other than the obvious, that John had some sort of looming heterosexual crisis. He had to force himself to look at Sherlock, who had a faint flush on his cheeks. John clenched his jaw, realizing that Sherlock couldn't have missed what had happened.

"She wasn't raped," Sherlock said after a moment, his eyes fixed on John's.

"The forensic report suggested otherwise."

"It's almost impossible to distinguish between forced sexual intercourse and intercourse that's merely enthusiastic, simply by looking at tears in vaginal tissue. They're identical 90% of the time."

"So you're suggesting that it was just…?"

"Rough sex. Think about it. Her bruises were very specific, probably similar to the ones you'll have tomorrow." John flushed and looked away at that, but Sherlock continued, "They were placed very carefully and meant to be covered by her clothes. If she'd been assaulted there would likely have been a different pattern altogether, something far more random. These bruises--" He pointed to the photos "--don't show any indication of a real struggle. There were no drugs in her system either, nothing to suggest she was chemically coerced. "

John frowned at him. "None of that proves whether or not she consented to sex. You can't know for certain that it wasn't rape. Just because she didn't particularly struggle doesn't mean anything."

Sherlock nodded and met his gaze. "Yes, I know, but I'm suggesting that it's probable that the sex and the assault that killed her were two different acts, most likely involving two different people. If the police only focus on going after her lover, which they seem to be doing, the killer may escape."

"Her lover? Wasn't she married?"

"Yes, she was married." Sherlock gathered up the photos again and flipped through them as he continued. "Lestrade let me look through the case file: interviews with friends and family, employee records, photos, her personal effects. She started requesting odd shifts about four months ago and was written up nearly a dozen times since for taking longer-than-regulation lunch breaks. Her family reported they hadn't seen or heard from her much lately, that she said she was very busy with extra work, despite the fact that her employee records show no such thing. Her husband thought she was working 15 hours per week longer than what she was actually reporting. She kept condoms and lube in a desk drawer; that particular kind of lube was found in her vagina and traces of it were on her fingers."

John nodded. "Okay, that makes sense. But how do you know her lover didn't kill her, even accidentally?"

"The time difference between the bruises and the stab wound, for one thing. There was evidence of previous bruising on her body in similar patterns, with various degrees of fading, up to a week prior. So it clearly wasn't the first time they'd had rough sex."

John shook his head in disbelief. "You didn't even know people used their tongues to kiss until recently, but you know about rough sex?"

Sherlock looked indignant. "I know people use their tongues to kiss."

"You do now." John raised his eyebrows.

Sherlock looked away. "I knew it before, I just… deleted it. I didn't think it was important."

"Wait, are you saying you were wrong?" John smirked before he could stop himself, and Sherlock scowled.

"I wasn't wrong. I simply didn't have sufficient evidence that it was significant. That's been rectified, thank you."

Rectified, indeed. "You're welcome."

"The point is that people don't typically murder each other over an illicit kiss. I can't think of a single instance prior to that one in which it's come up. It takes something rather more interesting to stir up that level of passion."

John bit his lip. "I think you'd be surprised."

Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "I'm not ignorant about sex, John, despite what you and my brother seem to think. It's a primary motivation for so much of human behavior; of course it's an important thing to understand. People in secret sexual relationships have strong emotions and a great deal to lose. Crimes of passion are aptly named, aren't they?"

What John really wanted to say next was So have you had sex then? But that would open an entire Pandora's box of thoughts he'd been carefully avoiding around Sherlock. The handful of kisses they'd now shared in the name of "work" had hardly helped matters, nor had the near-frottage they'd just engaged in on the floor. How did he keep landing himself in these situations? If he didn't know better, he'd suspect Sherlock was doing it on purpose, that this was his twisted way of flirting.

So instead, he said, "You've been watching soap operas again, haven't you?"

The expression on Sherlock's face was the closest thing to fuck you John had ever seen. Time to change the subject.

"So who killed her?"

"Either her husband or it was truly random. I'll have to interview the husband to be sure. See him, honestly: I suspect I could work it out in a few seconds. And of course, the Met has already put out the story that she was raped and murdered. The odds are good that her lover is on the force as well: they'd have had the opportunity to work the same shifts and he knew exactly what her uniform would cover. He would know better than to come forward now and make himself the prime suspect. As long as he's afraid to tell what he knows, her killer will be protected."

"Okay, so…" John paused, pursing his lips. "If you'd worked all of this out, why did you need me to… demonstrate?"

Sherlock's cheeks tinted very slightly. "It's not my area of expertise. I needed to know for certain if that particular bruising pattern could be established in a consensual situation."

"Which it can, clearly." John looked away. "So, what are you going to tell Greg?"

"What I just told you, of course." He paused. "I'll probably neglect to mention the…" He waved his hand between them.

"Yes, thanks."

"And I assume--"

"Not going on the blog."


They sat in silence for several seconds.

"So, hungry?"

Sherlock looked as if he was about to say no for a moment. "I suppose I could go with you, at least."

"Chinese," John said as he pushed to his feet. He held out a hand and Sherlock took it, allowing himself to be pulled up. "I'll buy tonight."

"Since my brother is paying you so handsomely?" He clearly disliked the idea, but he seemed to be making an effort to bite his tongue, for now.

"Exactly," John said, smiling at him. They stared at each other for a long moment before Sherlock looked down at their clasped hands, snapping John's attention back to the present. Christ, they were standing there holding hands. Should he get down on one knee now or wait until after dinner?

"Well." John took a step back and plucked his shirt from the floor, and pulled it back on. "I think I'm going to need this."

"I'll want to check the bruising later tonight and again in the morning." Sherlock's eyes were fixed on John's arms.

"You should take pictures for comparison," John said with a snort, and then cringed when Sherlock responded with an enthusiastic smile.

Definitely not one for the blog.