John spent the rest of the afternoon alternately wanking, watching telly and wishing he was wanking, which wasn't as much fun as he really thought it should be. He was exhausted and melting all over the bed by the time he decided to pack it in for the night, but he still made
sure that the door was firmly bolted before he turned in. He had to admit that the woman at the desk hadn't been lying about the quality of the locks. Plausible deniability, maybe.
Sherlock had been certain that the attack would come somewhere between twelve and three, and John was determined to get in a couple of hours sleep beforehand. His heat symptoms weren't the easiest thing to sleep through, but John kicked off all the bed sheets and settled into the heavy doze that he'd first learned during his residency at Bart's.
The scrape of a key woke him just past two.
John slitted his eyes open just a touch and stayed where he was, keeping his breath deliberately sleep-slow.
The half dozen people who crept into the room were dressed in dark clothing and wearing hospital masks across their faces. To keep his pheromones from affecting them, John figured. They were not nearly as quiet on their feet as John would have expected given how many people the ring had kidnapped, although John supposed that most omegas didn't have quite the same training that John did.
John was concentrating so hard on sizing up his unwanted guests without giving himself away that it came almost as a surprise when a cloth, heavy with the thickly cloying scent of chloroform, landed on his face. John startled and found himself unceremoniously shoved back down to the bed, pinned firmly in place by unfamiliar hands while the smell overwhelmed his senses and dragged him down into the darkness.
Step two, John thought distractedly, before his grip on consciousness slipped away.
When John woke up, he was strapped to a gurney in a very professional-looking medical exam room. He could hardly think between the residual fuzziness of the drugs and the immediate flare of hunger in his gut. His hips flexed without asking him about it, making him squirm in his bonds in a pointless, undignified attempt to get some relief.
He was so bloody sick of being in heat.
"Hello," a voice said calmly, and John rolled his head to the side to see a smiling woman in a lab coat standing a few feet away. Beta, his brain informed him, which didn't do nearly as much as he would have liked to prevent the urge to throw himself at her and beg to be touched. Christ, how long had he been out? His symptoms shouldn't have been this much stronger after only a few hours.
John pulled his weakened defenses tightly around himself, determined not to give himself away.
The woman came forward and stood over the gurney. "How are you feeling?"
"Wha-?" John mumbled, figuring it was a safe way to start. "Wh-where am I?"
"I'm Dr. Klimitz," she said, ignoring him entirely. "I need to give you a quick physical."
"Where am I?" John repeated, louder. He tried to think of how the victims that he and Sherlock had rescued from various situations had reacted. He yanked at his restraints and tried to look scared. "Please, let me go! I- I- want to go home."
"Shh," she said soothingly. "You're just fine." She retrieved a face mask from somewhere and slipped it on before reaching out and laying gloved hands on John's chest. It was about then that John realized that he was naked.
John thrashed, biting his lip on a moan. "Please! Stop!"
"None of that now," she said, firm. "I'll give you something if you don't calm down, but I'd rather not."
And John didn't know what the right response was here, but he knew that he didn't want to be drugged. He let the tension seep out of his body, melting back against the gurney with practiced discipline.
Dr. Klimitz made an approving sound that John suspected was meant to make him feel better.
"I don't-" he started.
"It doesn't matter." There was a terrifying finality to her tone. "Now say 'aah'."
The physical was short but thorough and John was unsurprised when it focused mainly on his groin and arse. Dr. Klimitz seemed entirely unaffected by the way John couldn't help but thrash and groan when she touched him. It almost made John want to appreciate her professionalism; an inappropriate giggle threatened to escape at the thought. She hummed unhappily about the scar on his shoulder, though she seemed happier with his hair, the curve of his cheek.
While she worked, Dr. Klimitz asked him questions about his health and sexual history, praising him for every answer. Some part of John felt warm and content under that praise, but the longer he was awake, the more like himself he felt and the easier it was to bite back his body's instinctive reactions. Although, God only knew how long that was going to last.
"There," Dr. Klimitz said finally, and it sounded like she was smiling behind her mask. "That wasn't so bad now, was it?"
John blinked at her, trying one of Sherlock's innocent expressions on for size. "Please, Doctor, just can you tell me what's going on? Where am I?"
"Those clothes over there are for you," she said, instead of answering. John supposed that deliberate omission was as good a policy as any for her to take with people whose lives she was helping ruin. "Make sure they dress you first."
"They? What d'you mean first? Doctor!"
Dr. Klimitz left the room without a backwards glance.
The door hadn't even swung shut behind her before two men and a woman filed in, all wearing masks and gloves and stinking of alpha pheromones. John cringed back against the gurney without thinking about it. "Don't-"
One man went to retrieve the pile of fabric that Dr. Klimitz had pointed out while the other two set to work unstrapping John. Despite himself, John squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the sensation of their hands brushing against his fevered skin. Their clinical touches and gloves made it bearable, but the scent of alpha chipped at John's self-control in ways that he really didn't appreciate.
"Up," the man said, hauling him upright without so much as a by your leave. The shift made John hiss at the pressure on his sensitive arse; he was absently aware of the faint crinkle of concern that creased the man's forehead in response.
Knowing full well how alphas reacted to unhappy omegas, it probably shouldn't have surprised John when their hands were gentle as they helped him off the table and ordered him to dress, but it did. He was set carefully on his feet and allowed to dress himself, although they never took their eyes off him. The clothes fell somewhere between hospital scrubs and pajamas on the clothing scale; the fabric felt scratchy against his overheated skin, but John appreciated the thin layer of protection.
"Move," the woman said, the moment he was dressed, and John was so very tempted to ask if they could only speak in monosyllables.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the type of person he was supposed to be right now so John kept on stammering helpless drivel instead - who are you, help, I don't understand, what's going on, please don't touch me - as they marched him out of the exam room.
"Be quiet," one man growled, using the Voice. While John felt no more inclination to obey than he ever did - this man had nothing on Sherlock when it came to telling people what to do -, he was glad for the excuse to stop talking. All this begging and cringing was just embarrassing.
His guards led John through a maze of corridors that he did his best to memorize. Though it went against every fibre of his being - well, the fibres that weren't telling him to turn and present, at any rate - John forced himself to curl in defensively, to duck his chin and to look at his captors through lowered eyelashes instead of head on. In return, they treated him with a surprising amount of care. It was perhaps the first time that John had appreciated that particular genetic trait.
When they finally stopped, it was in a dead-end hallway lined with doors. Steel doors. Numbered steel doors.
John stopped dead, because it seemed like the best response. It accomplished absolutely nothing; his guards simply grabbed him by the arms and started dragging. John had to resist the instinctive urge to break their arms and be done with it already. He flailed about weakly as they manhandled him into the room marked '11' and slammed the door shut behind him.
The sound of the bolt sliding closed behind him seemed terribly loud and John pressed his ear against the door, listening for the muffled sound of departing footsteps. He couldn't hear anything. The room was soundproofed.
"Bugger," John said, and straightened to take a look around. The room was undeniably a cell: small, windowless and white. There was a bed, bolted to the floor, a small basin and a lavatory in the corner. Nothing else.
John was alone. Trapped.
It was an efficient way for the organization to start breaking in its captives, John had to admit: the impersonal doctor, the lack of communication, the ignoring of his questions, the featureless cell. No one had addressed him by name, even though they were certain to have learned it from the Sherlock-provided ID in John's fake wallet. He was a complete non-person to these people.
John could only imagine how unnerving and terrifying the whole situation would be for the other omegas that had been kidnapped, the ones who were already emotionally distraught thanks to their domestic troubles. It made him want to shoot somebody. Several somebodies, if possible.
John checked the lock on the door - solid and good quality, but not overly intricate as far as John could tell - and did a quick circuit of the room. It was just as dismally featureless as it had been on first glance, though John was pleasantly surprised not to find any cameras.
"You'd think they'd have learned their lesson," he said to the empty room, because Sherlock's bad influence had apparently spread to talking to himself. And John didn't even have a skull to blame it on.
Exploration complete, John plopped down on the bed with a heavy sigh. "Well," he said to himself and settled in to wait.
It was all up to Sherlock now.
The rest of John's time as a captive of a prostitution ring was rather anticlimactic.
The hours passed by treacle-slow. A white-clad somebody shoved a tray of food through the slot in the door about three hours after John had been locked in but, other than that, all John had for company was the white walls and the endless itch under his skin.
With nothing to distract him from it, John found himself painfully aware of the ever-rising need in his body and, worse, he was completely unable to resist the helpless urge to try and make it stop.
John didn't even know how long he'd been there when he finally gave in, hands fumbling at his trousers despite his best intentions. His cock sprang up heavy and leaking and John bit back a shaky groan as he wrapped his hands around it. His own touch wasn't enough to satisfy his body properly, but John was good at making do with what he had. Being on tour did that to a bloke. He didn't have Mycroft's box with him and John was neither tall enough nor flexible enough to get any real relief from his fingers, which meant that the only proper stimulation he could get was from his prick. Which was fine, to begin with, but he could only toss off so many times before it started to chafe. And all John really wanted to do was take the edge off, to keep himself alert and coherent without falling into exhaustion.
It didn't go well.
"Fucking hell," John panted to himself, when he sank back down to the bed in defeat. "I don't care how great heat sex is supposed to be, this can't possibly be worth it."
The stupid thing, of course, was that John was the only one to blame for his current situation. Not the kidnapping, of course, though John supposed that listening to Sherlock could be seen as self-destructive behaviour, but the heat itself.
A quick Internet search back before John's biology went mad had turned up several dating organizations geared towards matching up omegas with compatible alphas and betas. A wounded, middle aged ex-army medic John might be, but he was still an omega and, he liked to think, decently charming and not unattractive. John had no doubt that, given the amount of pornography he'd already found about it, most people on the pull would have jumped at the opportunity to 'help' John through his heat.
In some ways, John didn't quite know why he had decided that he didn't want that. He was quite a fan of sex, as any of his former girlfriends and conquests could have testified. By all accounts, sex during estrus was nothing short of mind blowing and it would have saved John all the discomfort of trying to handle the problem on his own. But random shags weren't really John's thing; he had always preferred having some emotional connection to people he was getting off with.
It was more than that, though.
John had chosen to go this alone because he needed to prove to himself and the rest of this mad universe that he more than capable of taking care of himself. It would feel like surrender to give into his new biology without even trying to be more than 'just' an omega at the whim of his hormones. This world had certain expectations of him and John was more than stubborn enough not to want to meet them. He'd decided not to use suppressants for essentially the same reason, although that choice had also been influenced by a doctor's desire not to medicate himself unless he really needed to.
Sometimes, John thought, as another frantic burst of almost-painful pleasure made him writhe on the bed like a cheap prostitute, he could be a right idiot.
A sudden scrape of noise had John jerking up and, subsequently, nearly falling off the bed. He scrambled back into his trousers, trying without much success to ignore the tacky mess between his legs. The stink of pheromones and sex was heavy in the small room but John tried nevertheless to rein in his symptoms, to keep enough control over himself in case he needed to convince whomever came through that door that he wasn't 'ready' to get whored out. It was probably true, as well, from what John had read about heat fever, which was a horrifying prospect; John didn't want to know how much worse this was going to get.
The sound came again, resolving into the turn of a key in the lock, and John took a deep, steadying breath.
Then the door swung open and John's breath whooshed out again in a relieved exhale when he saw Sherlock standing on the other side, resplendent in his coat and scarf, one hand still on the key sticking out from the lock.
John managed a weary grin. "What took you so long?"
Sherlock looked down the length of his nose at him. "Locating and successfully infiltrating a well-hidden, well-guarded underground complex within a fifteen hour period is more than adequate. I would have thought a soldier would know how long these sorts of operations usually take."
"Fifteen hours?" John repeated. "Christ. No wonder I'm so sick of this place."
"Less time standing around and more time leaving would help with that." Sherlock shifted out of the doorway without checking to see if John was following. "Watch your step."
"Watch my -oh." John took in the four unconscious bodies on the floor, redirected his gaze to the scraped skin on Sherlock's knuckles and had to smile. "I'm impressed. Since when are you so dangerous?"
"Since I learned how to fight," Sherlock said, in a bland tone that didn't match at all with the smug look on his face. He toed the closest person, who groaned a little but didn't stir further. "If they'd employed guards who were marginally competent they might have stood a better chance."
"But probably not," John said, and it made his already erratic pulse skip when Sherlock grinned at him, bright and wickedly amused.
"A most astute observation, doctor. Come."
"Not a dog, Sherlock," John said, falling in step nonetheless. Which, he told himself, was not any kind of tacit agreement to being treated like that. He just wanted to get out of this place, was all.
"Hush, John." Sherlock paused briefly at an intersection before leading them off to the left. "Your jailers are remarkably incompetent given the successes of their organization, yet I would still rather not alert them to our presence if possible. Being outnumbered by idiots is still inconvenient."
"Sherlock," John said, a terrible suspicion rising in him. "Where's Lestrade?"
Sherlock waved a hand. "Late. I'm sure he and his rather depressing excuse for a team will be here eventually."
"You came on your own?!" John hissed, remembering just in time not to yell. "Are you out of your mind?"
"Would you rather I'd waited?" Sherlock hissed back. "I barely intercepted that lot as it was. I somehow doubt that you would have been more comfortable where they were planning to take you."
John stared at Sherlock's back. "They were there for me?"
John had never realized that it was possible to hear someone rolling their eyes, but Sherlock had always been a man of many talents. "No, John, they were sitting on the floor playing Cluedo. What did you think they were doing there?"
"I thought-" John frowned. "I don't know what I thought, actually. That they were guarding the cells, maybe?"
"As always, I despair of your ability to observe."
"Shut it." They turned down another empty hallway - was this place massively understaffed or something? - and John thought about the implications of the guards Sherlock had knocked out. "But I'm not that close to heat fever yet. Am I?"
"You're close enough that your hormones would take over if you had intimate contact with an alpha," Sherlock said. "It's also likely that they have clients who enjoy it when their omegas try to fight."
John made a face. "That's vile. How c-"
Sherlock held up a hand and John fell immediately silent, stopping next to Sherlock and trying not to breathe too loudly. After a moment, he heard what Sherlock had: footsteps. Lots of footsteps.
"They're heading to the containment cells," Sherlock said. He burst into motion, lengthening his stride until John fairly had to trot to keep up.
"Slow down!" he called, trying to keep his voice down.
"They'll be able to follow your scent if they get close enough to catch it," Sherlock told him, not slowing, because he was a tit and they were apparently in a hurry. "We need to stay far enough ahead of them to prevent that eventuality."
"That's all well and good," John panted, more from the heat choking his chest than from their pace. "But they'll be able to hear me running just as easily if you and your big brain don't remember that my legs are shorter than yours."
"That's hardly my fault, J-"
They rounded a corner and came face-to-face with a very surprised looking alpha.
One who wasn't, John noticed, wearing a mask. How convenient.
He didn't give the man a chance to yell. He threw a deliberately off-centre punch and flinched hard when the man moved automatically to strike back.
"Please!" John whimpered, hugging his arms in and exposing the arch of his neck. "Please don't hurt me!"
The man faltered, torn between his protective urges and the input of his thinking brain, and John fisted one hand in his collar and yanked him off balance so that he could get an arm around his neck in a quick and dirty chokehold.
That increasingly insistent part of John immediately flared up into 'oh Christ, yes' when his skin came into contact with the alpha's, but the rest of him ignored it in favour of applying just the right amount of pressure to knock the man out without killing him or causing brain damage.
Sherlock was watching him when John straightened from propping the man up against the wall. The gleam in his eye was decidedly speculative.
So John grinned at him, well aware that the expression was more than a little wild. "There's something to be said for being underestimated. Coming?"
The rest of their journey out of the building went surprisingly according to plan, helped in large part by Lestrade and his team bursting in while Sherlock and John were not-quite-silently debating the varying merits of making John bait - again - to get them past the security guard at the door Sherlock had used to get in.
The police went to work arresting everyone in sight and John found himself shuttled safely outside and wrapped in one of those ridiculous blankets that the EMTs kept insisting they needed. The adrenaline had all but worn off, which was making John very aware of the fact that he was exhausted, hungry and incredibly randy. The blanket was suddenly useful for hiding his persistent erection, although it did John's skyrocketing body temperature absolutely no favours. At this point, John felt overheated enough that he wouldn't have been surprised if the bloody thing caught fire.
Sherlock had vanished somewhere - probably off telling the police how bad they were at their jobs - so John sat himself down as far away from everyone else as he could possibly get without being reckless about it and tried not to think too much about anything. The police kept throwing glances his way, but John was more than willing to break the nose of the first person who dared to touch him, police officers included, and he suspected that something in his expression gave that away because no one dared to approach him.
After what felt like hours, Sherlock came bounding back out of the building, talking mile a minute, as usual. Blanket gathered up around him - out of a sense of propriety, not embarrassment - John picked himself up and headed over, wincing at the wet pull of his trousers against tacky skin.
"-simply a matter of overriding the maintenance lock," Sherlock was saying to Lestrade as John drew up, animated and fiercely exultant as he only ever was after they'd won. He paid no attention to John, even though Lestrade's dark-eyed gaze snapped towards him immediately.
"Sherlock," John said.
"Not now, John, I need to tell Lestrade-"
"You shouldn't be here," Lestrade said, which, for once, John couldn't really argue with. Lestrade's hands reached out, seemingly of their volition, but stopped a good few inches above John's arm. "Christ, John, you're barely holding it together. I knew I shouldn't have let you do this."
John's lips thinned. "It's not a question of 'letting' me do anything, Greg. I'll agree that I've had better days, though." He glanced at Sherlock, who was looking disgruntled at no longer having anyone to revel in his brilliance but himself. "I need to go home."
"Now?" Sherlock demanded, almost a whine. "We're not done, John."
"I am," John said, in a tone that even someone as socially suicidal as Sherlock would think twice about contradicting. John carried on before Sherlock had a chance to do so, anyway, "I'll see you back at Baker Street. Pick yourself up something to eat on your way home; the case is done, so now you need food."
Lestrade's expression went horrified. "You're not taking a taxi like that!"
John leveled him with an even stare, which he considered quite the feat considering how twitchy he was inside his own skin. "It's either that or the tube. Can't imagine that going well, personally."
"I'll take you," Lestrade said, already reaching in his pocket for his keys.
A rumble of unhappiness came from Sherlock. "You can't leave," he said, sounding almost triumphant about it. "It's your crime scene."
"Then I'll get-"
"No," Sherlock said, definitely a growl this time. John's eyebrows shot right up to his hairline.
"Sherlock!" Lestrade snapped, very close to growling, himself. "You can't just let John fend for hims-"
"I hardly need your advice for how to take care of him, Lestrade," Sherlock said, in the frostiest 'posh git' voice he had.
"No one needs to take care of me," John said, but neither of them were listening.
"That man has been through a hellish ordeal, even without taking his heat into account," Lestrade hissed, and John was at least glad for his attempts at keeping his voice down. "The least you can do is let someone else show some bloody consideration if you're not going t-"
"I'd be offended by the fact that you clearly don't listen when I speak, except I believe that it's a mental deficiency that prevents you from breathing and absorbing information at the same time. I am perfectly capable of-"
John watched them bicker for several moments further, then shrugged to himself and turned to walk out towards the street. Neither of them gave any indication that they noticed and John sighed a little to himself. Alphas.
It wasn't quite a surprise to see Mycroft waiting for him at the curb, standing beside one of his fleet of black cars.
"Dr. Watson," Mycroft said smoothly. "Might I offer you a ride back to Baker Street?"
"Ta," John said, for once not interested in looking a gift horse in the mouth. His head was stuffed with cotton, his skin was three sizes too small and he just wanted to get home. "That'd be lovely."
Sherlock and Lestrade's argument clattered off into belated silence behind him and John was woefully unsurprised when Sherlock appeared between him and Mycroft, scowling hard enough that John was tempted to tell him that it was going to stick like that if he wasn't careful.
"Mycroft," Sherlock said, like it was the most offensive word in the English language.
John rolled his eyes. "Leave it off, Sherlock. Just this once. I'll be fine. Better Mycroft than a random cabbie, hey?"
On cue, Mycroft pulled the door open for him, which John thought was laying it on a bit thick, but he really couldn't bring himself to care about the Holmes brothers and their endless game of one-upmanship.
"If anything happens to him-" Sherlock warned his brother, looking a little wild-eyed. It was becoming increasingly clear that not even the great Sherlock Holmes was entirely immune to eau du John, after all.
"He will be safe with me," Mycroft said, without a hint of the indulgent smugness that was his default setting.
"If you two have quite finished," John said, with a growl of his own. "Because I will bloody well commandeer your car and drive myself home if you make me stand around much longer, Mycroft."
Mycroft smiled thinly. "Of course. Enjoy your crime scene, Sherlock," he said, somehow managing to sound entirely dignified the entire time. He circled around to the other side of the car and slid inside.
Sherlock lingered on the sidewalk for a moment, looking surprisingly bereft.
"Go help Lestrade," John said, because stranger things had happened today than Sherlock following orders. "I'm fine. I'll see you later."
Not waiting for a response, John climbed in and leaned back against the door with a shaky sigh.
"To Baker Street?" Mycroft inquired, as the car pulled into traffic. He, unlike Sherlock, apparently saw some merit in asking questions he already knew the answer to.
"Please," John said, and neither of them said another word for the rest of the trip.
John didn't really remember the drive back to Baker Street. He definitely didn't remember getting from the car to his bedroom and, when his head cleared, he would hope that Mycroft hadn't had to help him into the building. At this moment, however, John honestly couldn't have cared less. There was no space in his head for anything but the heat.
It was habit and ingrained caution that reminded John to lock the door behind him, a momentary hiccup in his determined march to the bed. He shed his clothes piecemeal along the way and John sighed in relief when he was stripped down to nothing but skin.
He'd had the sense to put down some plastic sheeting before he'd left and it crinkled when he settled down; John possessed enough of himself to be thankful for his own foresight. There wasn't a chance in hell that he'd have had the patience for something like that now.
It was the work of moments to open Mycroft's box and lay hands on the dildo John wanted: it was big, bigger than John's own prick and he wasn't exactly a lightweight, but John couldn't think much past the need to fill himself as completely as was possible without a bedmate.
Which wasn't nearly full enough, but John was just going to have to deal with that.
John didn't know how much time passed in the haze of frustrated arousal, but he came to sudden, immediate alert at a sharp rap on the door. The warmth of Sherlock's scent assailed his nose and John was standing in front of the door before he'd even realized that he'd abandoned his unsatisfying plastic prick amid the rumpled sheets.
Alpha, his omega brain said. Sherlock-mate-alpha-mine-mine-MINE.
John tried to ignore it; he was barely clinging onto the tatters of his self-control as it was.
There was a knock.
"John," Sherlock answered. His voice sounded thin at the edges, but otherwise steady. "I've brought you some food. My research indicates that you won't have much interest in it once your heat hits in earnest-"
Bit late for that, John thought.
"-and you need the energy. I'll leave it here."
Paper rustled and John reached for the lock without even thinking about it. Sherlock was leaving.
"Wait, " John started, as he swung the door open. "You don't need t-"
Sherlock's entire body stiffened and his eyes went dark with a manic sort of lust. He looked John up and down, slowly, and how had John forgotten that he was naked, erect and glistening with his own slick?
John's cheeks coloured; it wasn't from shame.
"John," Sherlock said, this time with a hunger that said it was going to swallow John whole and never let him come back out. John's entire body thought that sounded bloody marvelous.
A hand shot out and clamped vice-like around the back of John's neck, holding him in place. John whimpered.
"Sherlock," he managed, utterly breathless, and then Sherlock crushed their mouths together and stole what little coherency John still possessed right out of his head.
A guttural groan echoed up from John's chest, and it was the kind of sound that he knew distantly that he ought to be embarrassed by. Instead, John threw an arm around Sherlock's neck and pulled him in closer, hanging on for the ride.
"John," Sherlock growled, between deep, drugging kisses. "John, John, John…"
One of Sherlock's hands trailed down John's spine to dip into the cleft of his buttocks and John broke their kiss with a gasp, nerves zinging and brain not quite able to process the sensation of having someone else's hand down there.
"Sherl-" John said, but the rest died in his throat as Sherlock pulled back enough to look at him.
Sherlock looked wrecked: lusty, disheveled and swollen mouthed. His eyes were blown wide with arousal, barely a hint of icy blue around the edges of his pupils. He stared at John with heady desperation and… nothing else. There was nothing of Sherlock in that gaze. No hint of that bright, fiery mind that Sherlock prized so highly and that John couldn't get enough of. This was Sherlock at his most primal, stripped of everything that made him so wonderfully him.
John knew that he wasn't much better; even now, it was like wading upstream trying to focus on anything but how much he wanted Sherlock to bugger him to within an inch of his life. His whole body was trembling, yearning for Sherlock's touch in a way that had nothing to do with the man himself and everything to do with the fact that Sherlock was an alpha and John was an omega.
This was the worst sort of mistake.
In one swift move, John pushed Sherlock back with enough force to send him stumbling back into the hallway and slammed the door in his face. He threw the lock closed with fingers that shook violently.
"John!" Sherlock snarled, voice clogged with lust and anger. One of his hands pounded on the door, hard and heavy, and John jumped. "Let me in!"
"Go outside and clear your head!" John shouted back, sliding down to sit on the floor with his back against the door. A chaotic mix of lust and terror was making him dizzy. He shoved his hands under his thighs to resist the impulse to open the door again. "That big brain of yours needs rebooting!"
Sherlock growled something that might have been John's name. The door shuddered again with the force of Sherlock's pounding fist and John forced himself to crawl away, to put some distance between them. Thankfully, Sherlock was quick to return to his senses; the banging only went on for a handful of moments before falling abruptly silent.
John held his breath.
"John, I-" Sherlock started, but said nothing more.
John stayed quiet.
Silence reigned for a small eternity.
John heard footsteps on the stairs.
It took John two hours to get up the nerve to open the door to retrieve the food that Sherlock had brought him.
The next three days were absolutely miserable.
After their near miss in the hallway, Sherlock steered well clear of John for the duration of his heat. The flat seemed quiet enough most of the time that John thought that Sherlock might have been spending most of his time elsewhere to avoid temptation, although a brass band could have taken up residence in the sitting room and John wouldn't have noticed, so he couldn't really say.
Time blurred. John was vaguely aware of his own guttural groans as he tried to satisfy the ache inside him, could feel the slippery glide of his fingers against his oversensitive skin, could see the mess he was making of his sheets. His throat grew hoarse and his breath came short and every muscle in his body felt drawn taut with need. There was nothing in his brain but static and the deep, primal need to have someone claim him: lay stake, conquer, mark him irreparably as their property. Need burned like fire in his veins and it was hateful.
John spent 90% of his time in his bed and the other 10% in the bathroom, taking the absolute minimum of time to deal with his personal hygiene.
He and Sherlock resorted to shouted conversations whenever John needed to go to the loo to keep from seeing each other, and Sherlock kept up a steady supply of water outside John's door.
It was, John couldn't help but think, very sweet, in a Sherlock sort of way.
When John finally came out the other side, twelve days after his heat had started, his room smelled like he'd just hosted a weeklong orgy, John felt like he'd gone three rounds with a tank and he was incredibly dehydrated. No surprise there.
He dragged himself upright and limped to the bathroom, discovering along the way that essentially every muscle he owned hurt. John reveled in a long, hot shower, sluicing away the worst of the evidence. His arse and prick ached, but a quick examination showed that, despite the discomfort, he hadn't done himself any lasting damage. John didn't even bother with the rest of his standard morning routine; his hair was mostly flat from the shower and his beard grew in slowly enough that not shaving for a few days didn't make him look like he had either mange or a desire to become a lumberjack, which John figured was good enough.
The thought of clothing was almost physically painful, so John wrapped himself up in his dressing gown and made his way, gingerly, down the stairs.
Sherlock was in the sitting room, dressed in his pajamas and wearing an unfathomable expression.
John paused at the bottom of the stairs, awkward in a way that he didn't think he'd ever been with Sherlock. "Uh, good morning."
"You need fluids," Sherlock said, and then, because he had very strange ideas about how conversations worked, continued with, "I would apologize for my behaviour the other day, however we are both aware that it was entirely hormonal in nature and, as such, I am not culpable for-"
"Thank you," John said, cutting Sherlock off before he could get too Mycroftian about it. "For all the water."
Sherlock sniffed. "Hardly worth mentioning. It was… good, what you did," he added, strangely quiet. "Stopping me."
"Stopping us," John corrected. He chanced a crooked smile. "Next time, let's make dicey decisions on our own terms, hey?"
A slow, careful sort of smile twitched Sherlock's lips. "Next time, I have every intention of shipping you to Dover, even if it was Mycroft's idea."
John momentarily wished for a pillow to throw at him. "Not what I meant and you know it. Prat."
A tap on the door interrupted them and Mrs. Hudson popped her head in.
"Cooee, darlings," she smiled. "Just popping in to check that everything is okay. Oh, John, dear, you look about done in. Sit down, no wait, hang on a tick, I'll get you a cushion."
"Get John some tea, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock ordered in the Voice, while Mrs. Hudson bustled about. John shot him a dirty look. "John needs fluids."
"Not your housekeeper," Mrs. Hudson said placidly. She settled a pillow on the seat of John's chair. "Try that, dear. Always such a nuisance to get around for the first few days, isn't it?"
John settled himself carefully on the cushion, biting back the pained hiss that wanted to escape even with the extra padding.
Sherlock's jaw firmed. "Mrs. Hudson. Tea."
"Oh, alright," Mrs. Hudson said and, to John's complete surprise, winked at him when Sherlock wasn't looking. "Just this once, though."
Sherlock nodded. He stood without warning, and vanished off towards his bedroom, dressing gown flaring behind him.
Mrs. Hudson shot John a little smile. "He means well, the dear boy."
"Yes," John agreed absently. He watched Mrs. Hudson navigate their disaster area of a kitchen for a while before giving voice to a question that he'd had several times before but never dared to ask. "You never actually do things just because he tells you to, do you?" he asked. "Even when he use the alpha voice."
"I do sometimes," she said, walking into the sitting room with a mug of tea in hand. "He's got quite a presence, Sherlock does. But certainly not always. You know how alphas are, though. Never would occur to them that we often choose to listen."
"So why pretend that all they need to do is talk that way to get what they want?" John asked, accepting the mug.
"It's important to choose your battles, dear." Mrs. Hudson patted him on the knee and offered him an uncharacteristically impish grin. "And you never know when you might need the element of surprise."
"Huh. Thanks, Mrs. Hudson." He smiled at her. "For the tea, as well."
"It's my pleasure, John dear. Now you and Sherlock make sure you both get plenty of rest, you hear me? Sherlock's been up all hours guarding the door and we both know he needs far more sleep than he wishes he did."
"He has?" John glanced towards the hallway that led to Sherlock's room. "I thought he might have gone away for a few days. To avoid the… pheromones."
"With you in heat fever? Goodness, no. Didn't so much as come downstairs to fetch the post."
"He never does that," John pointed out.
"Oh, that's hardly the point. Protecting you, he was. Turned away a few interlopers as well, I'll have you know." She sighed a little. "Would be nice if he could have done it without putting more holes in my walls, mind, but-"
"Really?" John sat back in his chair, a little stunned. "He didn't tell me."
"Ah, well, he wouldn't, would he?" Mrs. Hudson said, wearing the indulgent look that talk about Sherlock's idiosyncrasies always garnered. "Likes to think he's above emotion. Not that he's fooling us."
"Mm," John agreed, a little distantly. His sore body was starting to remind him that he hadn't got much sleep for the better part of a week and his brain felt heavy, tired.
Mrs. Hudson tutted. "Look at me, nattering away while you're on your last legs. Off to bed with you, young man."
John summoned up a laugh. "Hardly that young anymore, Mrs. Hudson. But I won't deny that a bit of a kip sounds like a wonderful idea." He glanced towards Sherlock's closed bedroom door. "Seems like Sherlock might have beaten me to it, but I'll check him before I head up, just to make sure."
Mrs. Hudson nodded approvingly. "You're always so good to him, John." She stood, brushing the wrinkles out of her skirt. "Sherlock's lucky to have an omega like you."
"We're not-" John started, only to fall silent when Mrs. Hudson turned a gentle, knowing expression his way.
"Does it really matter? I'll be right downstairs if you need me," she said then, with her customary brightness. "You two take care of each other."
"We will," John said automatically. He stayed sitting as Mrs. Hudson let herself out, thinking about what she'd said.
It was true, he was somewhat surprised to realize. John did have an alpha. Granted, it wasn't one he was sure he wanted, even on a good day, and Sherlock didn't seem to have any interest in any kind of relationship when he wasn't high on John's pheromones, but the fact that they lived together and spent a vaguely disconcerting amount of their time together had attuned John to Sherlock. He'd liked the man's scent from the first and there was no getting away from the fact that Sherlock was a large part of the reason why the flat felt like home.
The startling part was that John didn't really mind. There was something bizarrely comforting in the almost possessive curl of Sherlock's scent, Sherlock's backhanded appreciation of John's presence and abilities, the way John could always count on Sherlock to be the brilliant, wonderfully mad catalyst to his life.
They were going to be something, the two of them. John didn't know quite what yet, but he knew that they'd get there together, on their own terms, biology be damned. Alpha and omega was definitely a part of what they were, but not nearly the most of it. They balanced each other, John supposed was the heart of it, in a way that wouldn't have worked if he'd been a hot headed alpha as well.
And maybe, John admitted in the privacy of his own head, just maybe it wasn't that terrible of a thing to be an omega after all. Not when he and Sherlock both knew that being an omega didn't make John weak or helpless. John couldn't say that he was looking forward to his next estrus cycle, but he'd handle that when he came to it. What mattered right now was that he'd survived this one without any adverse effects and he could do it again. John was strong enough to be an omega.
Of course, now John had his first ever menstrual cycle to look forward to. Which was just delightful.