Title: Hands That Bleed
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Word count: 6660
Warnings: asexual!Sherlock, dominant!Sherlock, blood play, dub-con ish
A/N: Written for pandoras_chaos for the Spring 2013 round of holmestice. Originally posted here.
Summary: John knows that he doesn't get off on pain. Sherlock knows what John does get off on.
John was used to being wrist-deep in other people's blood. It was an inevitable occupational hazard for both doctors and soldiers, and one that he had long grown used to. He couldn't say that he enjoyed it, but he'd never been overly squeamish about it, either.
When he'd first been invalided out of the army, John had believed that his days of having blood on his hands were over. It wasn't the sort of thing he'd thought he would miss, but unrelieved bleakness of his new, crippled life in London had served to make even the least savory parts of his former life something to be mourned. Blood included.
Then he'd met Sherlock Holmes and life had exploded back into Technicolour both literally and figuratively. Now, thanks to Sherlock's tendency to rush gleefully into danger at the first given opportunity, John's post-army life still included more than its fair share of bodily fluids.
Of course, these days, the proportion of times that the blood on his hands was John's was considerably higher than it used to be.
The copper tang of blood burst across John's tongue as he reeled back from a blow to his face that scraped the inside of his mouth against his teeth. The man who'd hit him - one Adrian Carr, grand larcenist, murderer and, tangentially, abusive husband - had managed to connect more by luck than judgment and, when he darted in to throw another erratic punch, John drove an elbow into his gut that doubled him nearly in half. John followed it up with a quick chop across the back of the neck that dropped Carr properly, then swiped a hand across his bloody mouth and turned his attention to the rest of the fight.
The other two criminals - one with a steady knife and the other with a trembling gun - were harrying Sherlock, who was holding them off with the same bizarrely graceful flair with which he did everything. Which didn't change the fact that he was clearly at a disadvantage, but John sincerely doubted that Sherlock would have seen it that way.
Once more unto the breach, Watson, John thought to himself, and waded in to even up the odds in his mad flatmate's idea of a fair fight.
The leader of the band of thieves - Nathan Doyle, grand larcenist, murderer and generally acknowledged sadist - reacted to John's arrival by firming his grip on his knife and starting towards him with a flat scowl.
The last man - William Carr, grand larcenist, coward and obvious weak link in the group - skipped his eyes over to John, then down to the boneless sprawl of his cousin's body on the floor. Indecision and sweat flashed across the man's face and John was unsurprised when he broke away at a dead run, angling towards the exit.
"Sherlock!" John called, not taking his eyes off Doyle.
"Got it!" Sherlock answered jubilantly, already dashing off in pursuit.
Which left John facing an enthusiastic murderer who looked quite keen to test the edge of his wicked-looking knife on John's insides.
Sometimes, moonlighting as a consulting detective's assistant was bloody marvelous.
Doyle rushed him, knife slashing in a short downwards arc that John easily avoided. The blade flashed in the light as Doyle shifted his grip to turn the slash into a stab; John felt his pulse pick up eagerly in time with the shift and dodge of his body away from that deadly edge. He got a hand on Doyle's arm and shoved, throwing his aim off just enough to give John room to land a heavy blow to his sternum.
Doyle reeled back from the force and his mouth curled into a snarl. His eyes flicked sharply and appraisingly over the length of John's body, obviously reassessing the threat John represented. John allowed an edge of dark amusement to lift the corner of his mouth and he was ready when Doyle drove back in with a dangerous lunge.
Handicapped by his own lack of a blade, John had to content himself mainly with dodging, though he still managed to land a few punches of his own. Doyle grew increasingly erratic with each slice that failed to connect and he moved in recklessly fast, more than close enough for John to put an end to this.
John's phone chose that moment to beep with an incoming message - Sherlock and his excellent timing hard at work, no doubt - and John faltered for a second too long. The knife sank into the meaty part of his leg and John shouted in a combination of shock and pain. Doyle jerked the knife out, which hurt nearly as badly as it had going in, but John pushed down the pain and took advantage of the thief's momentary sense of triumph to surge up through the man's pathetic excuse for a guard and belt him upside the head.
Doyle dropped like a sack of potatoes. Which was terribly satisfying.
John swayed there for a moment longer, making sure that neither of his opponents were likely to be getting up anytime soon. Then he collapsed.
"Bugger," he said, which had to be the understatement of the week. John shot Doyle's blood-stained knife a disgusted look, then turned his attention to the state of his thigh.
His first thought was that it could have been worse. His trouser leg was dark with blood and the gash showing through the tatters was impressively long. It wasn't overly deep though, which considerably reduced the likelihood of muscle damage.
Still ruddy well hurt, though.
Cursing under his breath, John leaned over to snag the fallen knife and used it to cut a strip off the bottom of his attacker's shirt. He was in the process of tying it around his upper thigh to cut off the blood flow when Lestrade arrived, tie slightly askew and chest heaving just a little bit. Must have run all the way from the front doors.
"Bloody hell," he said, taking in the tableau in front of him.
John lifted a hand in a rather cheeky wave. "Cheers."
"You alright?" Lestrade asked John, jogging over to offer John a hand up.
"Depends on how enthusiastic your definition of 'alright' is," John told him dryly. He accepted the offered hand and climbed to his feet, wincing at the pressure on his wounded leg. "I'm not likely to die any time soon, at least."
Lestrade cast a dubious look at John's leg. "Couldn't tell to look at you."
"It's not as bad as it looks. No need to worry."
"Indeed," Sherlock said, appearing as if by magic out of the void. "It would be a dreadfully poor showing on John's part if two men armed with idiocy and luck managed to do what the Afghan army couldn't. You'll find the last one cuffed to a support beam in the far office," he told Lestrade. "Once again, we've done your work for you. Well done allocating your resources, Lestrade."
"If you two wouldn't run off half-cocked all the time, we wouldn't-"
"Yes, yes. Come along, John," Sherlock said, looking about ready to walk off without checking to see if John was following.
Which, tragically, was a habit that John could only blame on himself; that was what he got for playing Sherlock's trusty tagalong so often.
"The only place I'm going is the A&E, Sherlock," John said, with a gesture at his ruined jeans. He'd liked this pair, too. "I may not be dying, but I still need stitches."
Sherlock made a face like John was bleeding all over the floor just to put him out. "It's not that deep," he said, in a tone somewhere between petulant and wheedling. "Do it yourself."
"It's deep enough," John retorted. "And I know better than to do minor surgery in our kitchen. I'd probably end up with the black death from one of your experiments." John took a few hobbling steps forward and was glad of Lestrade's supporting arm when his leg threatened to buckle under the strain. "Go home if you like, but I've got more important things to do than listen to you be smug for the rest of the evening."
Sherlock looked as though he couldn't conceive of anything more important than listening to him be smug. Self-centred prat. "Fine," he said mulishly, and swept off without waiting for them.
John and Lestrade shared a resigned eye-roll, then made their own way out of the warehouse at a considerably more sedate pace. They found Sherlock stood near the ambulance outside, texting furiously. He didn't bother sparing John and Lestrade a glance.
The paramedics agreed with John's diagnosis and John found himself carted off to the hospital while Sherlock, who hadn't been able to talk his way into the ambulance after the last time, followed in a cab. The A&E was its usual mess of needy patients and frazzled staff and John found himself dozing a little in his chair as he awaited his turn, the steady pain in his leg melting into a buzz in the back of his head.
Sherlock, naturally, grew increasingly agitated the longer they had to wait and John was glad that they called him in before Sherlock started an international incident. One should never underestimate Sherlock's ability to cause havoc, after all.
A dozen stitches and some local anesthetic later, John and Sherlock finally made their way back to the flat, Sherlock in the beginning throes of a towering snit and John more than ready to sleep for as long as he could get away with before Sherlock inevitably woke him.
Eventually, the cab pulled up in front of the flat and John didn't even bother rolling his eyes when Sherlock bounded out, leaving John to pay the fare and make his own way inside.
The anesthetic was wearing off by this point and the stitches strained just slightly with each step. John frowned thoughtfully as he adjusted his gait to compensate for the damage. Even then, the effort still sent little shivers of pain skittering through his nerves in time with his footfalls, but John could handle that. After getting shot, John found, his pain threshold really didn't register things the way it used to.
John managed the stairs with a considerable lack of grace that had his breath puffing and his brow faintly sheened with sweat by the time he reached the flat. Sherlock had at least had the consideration to leave the door open and John walked gratefully inside. Sherlock was sitting up straight in his chair for once, and staring at the door like it had done him a personal disservice.
"Looks like you're going to be fetching your own laptop for the next few weeks," John said over his shoulder as he hung up his jacket. "I'm not about to start hobbling around on this leg to accommodate your laziness."
John turned, faltering only slightly when he found Sherlock staring at him with the narrow-eyed look that he usually turned on dead bodies.
"John," Sherlock said, in the tone of voice that meant he had an experiment in mind and wouldn't John like to help Sherlock set the hob on fire?
John rolled his eyes. "If you want to use my clothes to analyze the coagulation of blood on denim again you can jolly well forget it. No experiments with my blood, remember?"
Sherlock didn't bother answering that, which either meant his brain was a million miles away or that he was planning on stealing John's ruined trousers regardless of what John said. Which was probably closer to the truth.
"Tea," Sherlock said instead.
Which sounded like a lovely idea, but the promise of some uninterrupted sleep was a siren song in John's tired brain and he simply couldn't be arsed to stay awake any longer. Not even for tea.
"Make it yourself," he told Sherlock. "I'm for bed. Don't wake me up unless the flat's on fire." John paused, considering. "Or you are."
John turned automatically, jaw clenching slightly to fight back the twinge in his leg. "What?"
Sherlock stared at him for another long moment, long enough that even John, who was well accustomed to being pinned by that assessing gaze, had to fight the instinctive urge to shift uncomfortably.
"It's not as though you'll be wearing them again," Sherlock said after a moment. "And you know my results from last time were inconclusive."
John shook his head. "Good night, Sherlock."
"But it's valuable data!" Sherlock called up the stairs after him and John couldn't help a wry little smile.
It was amazing what passed for normal in John's life, sometimes. God help him.
The days passed, as they were wont to do, and John despaired over the excessive amount of time Sherlock spent sulking loudly and dramatically all over the flat at the lack of crimes to solve, even as he appreciated the fact that London's criminal class going on a collective holiday meant that his leg had time to heal up. John didn't much fancy running all over God's green Earth when he was still held together by sutures.
Luckily, the time off from his second job meant that the wound healed quickly and cleanly, so much so that John was pretty much back to fighting fit before the month was out. Sherlock had made absolutely no effort towards fetching and carrying his own things while John's leg had been healing - which didn't surprise John in the slightest - so John was glad for the improved mobility for more reasons than one.
By the time John could mount the stairs up to the flat with barely a twinge, Sherlock had withdrawn into a dark funk of almost biblical proportions. He'd not bothered to dress or leave the flat in a good five days, and he spent all of his time either glaring at the ceiling, glaring at John or complaining bitterly about the endless banality of the entire world and all its inhabitants. Knowing that there was no reasoning with him in this state, John left Sherlock to his misery and quietly hoped for a murder or something to cheer him up.
Which was why John was surprised to come home one day after a short shift at the surgery to find Sherlock, fully dressed, sitting in his chair and staring at the door, hands steepled against his chin in a way that betrayed extreme thought.
John was happy enough to see Sherlock upright and dressed that he didn't bother commenting on the oddness of Sherlock's staring contest with the door. Oddness was a relative thing around these parts. "Hullo, Sherlock. Lestrade call?"
John started towards the kitchen, absently hoping that Sherlock had left a few mugs clean after his dirt experiments the day before. "Something interesting on the website then?"
"Your leg isn't bothering you," Sherlock said, a propos of nothing.
"It's just about back to normal," John agreed easily. Leaps in conversation were hardly worth getting fussed about when Sherlock was involved. John had become more than passing fair at navigating his way through Sherlock's non sequitors.
Sherlock hummed noncommittally. "A shame that."
And then there were some conversations that John would have appreciated having Sat Nav for.
John raised an eyebrow. "What?"
Sherlock raised an answering eyebrow in an elegant display of condescendence. "A shame it's not injured anymore. You were enjoying it."
John stared at him, all thoughts of tea blown straight out of his head. "What."
"You know perfectly well what I said, John. Please find other ways to express your apparently mandatory incredulity."
"Sherlock, just what are you implying?"
Sherlock sighed, as though John was being deliberately thick. "I'm not implying anything. It's a statement of fact." He rose out of his chair in one long, fluid motion that had John - who'd been to bloody war without flinching, for God's sake - wanting to take a step back. "You like it when you hurt."
Anger and something frighteningly reminiscent of adrenaline surged in John's chest. "Shove off. I'm not a masochist," he snapped.
"Of course you're not," Sherlock said calmly, cutting off John's indignation before it could gain steam. "You're too much of a soldier and a doctor to 'get off' on pain."
John blinked. "Y-yeah, that's right. So what-"
"No," Sherlock continued. "It's not the pain that arouses you." He darted suddenly forward and John's back hit the wall as Sherlock pressed his advantage, swarming into John's space before John could do much more than bring his hands up to flatten against Sherlock's chest.
"It's the need to endure," Sherlock said, nearly a hiss. "You like being forced to suffer at another's hands and forcing your body to bear it."
John's heart thudded once, sharply, in his chest. He shook his head. "That's not…"
Sherlock made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat. "Denial. How pedestrian of you."
John gathered up a scowl. "I'm not in denial. You're just bored and looking for a row. And I'm not giving it to you, so," he fisted his hands in Sherlock's shirt to push him away, "get out of my bloody w-"
A sharp, fiery line of pain licked across John's cheek, full seconds before John realized that Sherlock had a knife in his hand and that the sudden heat rolling down the side of his face was blood. John's breath sucked in, harsh and instinctive, his pulse picked up and John was absolutely certain that Sherlock was watching his pupils dilate in immediate response.
Sherlock smiled. It was a dark, avid sort of expression. "You never feel more alive than you do when you're bleeding, do you, John?"
"Sherlock," John breathed, and he couldn't have said himself whether it was a warning or a question.
Sherlock said nothing, just let the knife tip scratch across John's cheek, smearing through the streaks of blood and teasing at the edge of the cut he'd already made. Pain sparked in John's brain and he forced it down, not allowing himself so much as a grimace. He wasn't going to give Sherlock the satisfaction.
If possible, Sherlock's expression went even more smug. The knife twitched again, biting in sharply but not so deeply as to be dangerous, and John tried to track the flash of the blade without moving his head.
"It's a Bowie knife," Sherlock said, in answer to John's unspoken question. He backed up enough to lift the knife up for John's perusal. The edge was smeared with blood, John's blood, deep red and clinging, and why was John just standing there?
Sherlock tilted the blade, watching the blood trickle towards the handle and the sight of it made John's heart pound sickly. "A scalpel might have been more versatile," Sherlock said. "Though it seemed a little inappropriate, given the circumstances."
John's mouth curved into a wry smile that turned into a wince when the motion tugged at the cut on his cheek. "Since when do you care about what's inappropriate?"
Sherlock gave him plenty of time to see the knife move this time; John could have wrestled it off him easily.
The knife flashed and John's hands were nerveless, still clamped onto the front of Sherlock's shirt.
"When it isn't irrelevant," Sherlock said, calm as John clenched his teeth against the bite of the matching slash Sherlock had just carved into his other cheek. "Besides, there are certain advantages to a heavier blade. A wider wound diameter, for instance."
"I've noticed," John gritted, despite the fact that speaking hurt. Or maybe because of it. John couldn't even think right now.
Sherlock tapped the flat of the blade against John's cheek, right below his eye. John stilled.
"Breathe, John," Sherlock suggested and John sucked in an automatic breath that he hadn't even realized he'd needed.
His head was spinning.
The knife shifted again, the point digging into the delicate skin, and John tried again to put a stop to this madness.
"Stop it," he said, in a voice that held just the faintest hint of a tremor. John wished he could have chalked it up to fear. "Sherlock."
Sherlock had the temerity to look amused, the wanker. "Oh, do shut up, John. You're perfectly content like this, or hadn't you noticed?"
John blinked at him, feeling his eyelashes catch on the knife blade in a way that was at once a threat and a promise. Sherlock pulled the knife back just a fraction and John hissed in startled hurt when Sherlock's other hand fisted in the short hair at the nape of his neck and forced his head down.
Helpless, he watched the knife and Sherlock's hand move lower. Clever fingers found John's crotch and John groaned when they brushed against the heat of John's prick distending the front of his trousers.
Oh, god, he was hard. John stared down at the bulge with a dumb mix of horror and betrayal while blood ran down his cheeks and the talon-clench of Sherlock's fingers against his scalp sent little jitters of easily suppressed discomfort through his veins. Sherlock pressed harder against John's prick and John's hips bucked without conscious thought only to have Sherlock's hand disappear as quickly as it had come. The tip of the knife lingered suggestively against John's flies, not quite touching the fabric, and John closed his eyes to hide from the way the sight did nothing to bank his arousal.
"You want to hurt," Sherlock said, tempting and dark in a way that John had never heard before. "You want to be able to prove that you can control yourself when everything else is out of your control."
Sherlock's hand pressed suddenly against John's face; John started in surprise and felt the edge of the knife nick his skin. His breath sucked in with a sound that wasn't quite a sob.
"I thought about starting with the riding crop," Sherlock said into John's ear. John couldn't help the immediate twitch of interest his cock gave in response to that mental image. "A whipping is quite the singular experience. I thought you'd appreciate the knife more, the first time."
First? John's mind screamed at him, failing utterly at pushing through the arousal fogging his brain. "Sherlock, this… I, we can't-"
"How much do you think you can stand?" Sherlock interrupted, almost idly. His thumb rubbed across the first cut he'd made, catching on torn skin and rubbing salty sweat against broken flesh. John bit his lip, hard. "How much can I do to you before your body outweighs your will?"
John was going insane. There was no other explanation for why his chest was heaving like he'd just run halfway across London at the very suggestion of Sherlock pushing him to his limits and sending him tumbling right over them.
Sherlock stepped abruptly back, leaving John feeling cold and off balance.
John's hand went automatically to wipe away the trailing blood on his cheek and Sherlock's eyes sharpened.
"Leave it," he ordered. His smile was cold and blazing. "Suits you."
"Sherlock," John protested, or, tried to protest. Instead of the aggrieved tone John had been aiming for, Sherlock's name came out shaky and thick with unwilling arousal.
"Enough. Clothes." It sounded considerably more like a decision that a question.
John fisted his hands to keep them from obeying without even a token protest. "What about them?"
"Yours. Off. Now." Sherlock gestured at the whole of John with an eloquent twitch of the knife that most definitely did not make John want to shiver. Christ, this couldn't be happening to him. "I could, of course, remove them for you, but you have an irrational attachment to your wardrobe."
John snorted. "You're one to talk, Mr. Savile Row."
"My clothes aren't a travesty against fashion and general good sense." Sherlock gestured again. "Off."
John shouldn't be doing this. This was beyond mad, even by Sherlock's standards. John's hands shouldn't be tugging at the buttons of his shirt, efficient and absolutely steady. John's blood shouldn't have been dripping off his chin. John's heart shouldn't have been pounding at the steady burn of pain across his face, easily restrained and packed away where it wasn't anything more than an absent thought. John's arousal shouldn't have been coursing through his veins at the knowledge that he could handle this, could take every abuse that Sherlock inflicted on him.
But they were.
Buggering hell, Sherlock was right. John couldn't untangle the bundle of raw nerves inside him to tell if he was relieved or horrified.
The air in the flat was cool but not unpleasant as John draped his clothes neatly over the back of his chair and straightened, nude and unafraid. John fell into parade rest, chin held high as he refused to look at the bloody knife in Sherlock's steady grip. The blood on his cheeks had started drying, leaving his face feeling sticky and stiff. His prick stood heavy and thick between his legs.
Sherlock's eyes raked over him from toes to hair, sharp and assessing. John endured the scrutiny stoically, hands fisting at the small of his back. John could feel the slide of sweat down his spine.
Finally, Sherlock nodded. "Go sit on the couch."
"We're not getting blood on the couch," John mustered enough of himself to say. The words made the tacky blood on his cheek stretch and crack around his laugh lines; John bit back a sharp inhale at the tug on broken skin.
"No?" Sherlock asked, in the absent tone of voice that meant he wasn't listening to more than one word in five. "Where would you rather bleed, then?"
The phrasing made John's pulse speed up, a reaction that John had no doubt Sherlock noticed.
"Well?" Sherlock demanded, sounding impatient.
"Here," John blurted. Sherlock's eyes narrowed and John lifted his chin higher. "Here. Floor's easier to clean."
"I do love it when you're not dull," Sherlock said, almost to himself. He paused to roll his sleeves up, shifting the knife from one hand to the other to manage it. John found himself watching the edge glint in the light before he pulled his attention away and fixed his eyes determinedly on the mirror above the fireplace. He couldn't see himself in it, which was small comfort when he was about to let Sherlock Holmes, of all people, cut him up.
John's heart was trying to pound out of his chest. His palms were sweaty. He felt so very alive.
"Be still," Sherlock ordered, in a lazy tone of voice that expected to be obeyed. Finished with his sleeves, Sherlock stepped into John's space again, tapping the knife thoughtfully against his own lower lip as his eyes raked across John's scarred skin. Each tap left a smear of John's blood behind.
When Sherlock finally moved, it was with a firm, almost surgically precise slide of the blade across the delicate skin of John's stomach. John sucked in an instinctive breath and the knife followed him, digging in harder and making John's nerves scream at him to slap away the knife, to back away and curl up small. Protect himself from the pain.
Instead, John took a deep, shuddering breath and stiffened his shoulders, channeling the pain into the strength he needed to overcome it. His prick throbbed in triumph.
"That took you 6.4 seconds longer than it should have," Sherlock said, in a disapproving tone. "You can do better."
John opened his mouth to protest, just as Sherlock's wrist twisted and forced the wound wider, a fresh gush of blood painting John's stomach and dripping into his pubes. The complaint turned into a wordless groan that slammed against the back of John's teeth and it was an act of will to keep his hands at his back, leaving him open for Sherlock's knife.
Sherlock didn't pause to let John catch his breath this time; the knife traced a perpendicular line up the curve of John's stomach, shallower than the first cut but no less capable of sending bolts of lightning spiking through his brain.
John started shaking, breath huffing through his teeth as he fought to get his body under control. The blade lifted and fell as Sherlock laid a series of light, crisscrossing grazes across John's chest. One slice caught John's left nipple and he grunted in pain, feeling the blood well up against his overheated skin.
With an effort, John gathered the tatters of his self-control and wrapped them around himself. He could do this. He invaded Afghanistan. He could handle pain. He could handle Sherlock Holmes.
"You're wonderful when you suffer," Sherlock said, which was quite possibly the strangest compliment John had ever received. Which did nothing to explain the frisson of heat that snaked down John's spine at the words. His prick was hard enough to cut diamond.
Sherlock hummed thoughtfully. "So determined." The blade tripped down the scale of John's ribs, leaving tiny, stinging cuts in its wake that were far worse than a proper slash would have been.
Then the knife shifted and John bit back a shout when this stroke was deep enough to open a rift from hip to the crest of his thigh, though not enough to make John put a stop to this. Why wasn't he putting a stop to this?
Sherlock skipped over John's hipbone and traced lower, drawing an uneven whorl down John's leg towards his knee.
"Don't-" John started, when the knife edged too close to the joint. This wasn't- he trusted Sherlock but he didn't, he didn't…
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Obviously. You're no good to me crippled. These last weeks have been intolerable."
John's blood gleamed wetly on the blade as Sherlock lifted it away, slick red all but obscuring shining metal. Elegant spatters of blood dotted Sherlock's long fingers where they held the knife grip, matching the dark, voracious look in pale eyes. If John didn't know better, he'd have said that Sherlock could have just killed somebody, looking like that.
I survived that, John thought, the words springing up unbidden and curling warmly in his chest. That's my blood, and I'm still alive.
"Indeed," Sherlock said, with something that could have sounded like praise in another man's voice. His head cocked, obviously debating something, and John breathed shallowly against the stinging aches radiating all down his front. He wasn't sure he wanted to know where this was going next.
It didn't take long for him to find out. Sherlock didn't do anything so pedestrian as tell John to get his knees. Instead, his hand dropped heavily onto John's wounded shoulder and Sherlock dug his fingers into warped flesh.
The pain hit John like a sledge hammer and he shouted, knees buckling despite his best efforts. He panted shallowly around it, fighting for every inch of clarity Sherlock was trying to take away.
Amusement flicked through Sherlock's smile and those fingers twisted in deeper, Sherlock's short, sharp nails bullying through scar tissue to ignite the twisted nerves beneath it. John groaned low in his throat, hands leaving the small of his back to slam into the floor before he collapsed.
Above him, Sherlock made a noise that John couldn't hear amid the roaring in his ears. He shook in Sherlock's unyielding grip for a small eternity before he managed to block out enough of the pain to keep from passing out.
"Good," Sherlock said. His grip relaxed marginally, though not enough to stop the involuntary shockwaves sparking in John's brain. His prick twitched in time with every pulse he forced down.
And, normally, John would have known exactly what it meant to be forced to his knees in a situation as sexually charged as this, but a glance at Sherlock's tailored trousers showed that they fit as neatly as they always did.
Sherlock wasn't aroused.
Confused, John glanced upwards. "You-" he started, sounding as hoarse as if he'd been screaming this entire time. "You're not-"
"As always, you fail to recognize the obvious." Keeping his hand locked tight on John's shoulder, Sherlock sent the knife spiraling down John's right arm. John hissed, fingers clenching useless against the floor as hot trails of blood slithered down his forearm to catch against his wrist.
"Wha-" John's breath got punched out by a particularly sharp slash and he panted heavily, "What's that?"
"We've had this conversation before. 'Not my area', remember?"
"Because I want to," Sherlock said, with a callousness that snapped John's head up and bollocks to the way it made his eyes want to slam shut in agony.
"Bloody- I'm not an experiment, Sher- ngh!"
The sudden iron clench of Sherlock's fingers on John's wounded shoulder shattered John's concentration and he locked his elbows in a desperate bid to keep upright.
"It's not just an experiment," Sherlock said, and the timbre of his voice sent a shiver down John's spine. "I want to take you apart, John Watson. And I want to watch you put yourself back together. And then I want to do it again."
John shook his head, pain sparking through his nerves.
"I'll leave my own mark on you," Sherlock said. It sounded terrifyingly like a promise. And John would never be afraid of Sherlock, but this came bloody close. "A new nightmare for you to endure. Suffering and happy for it."
The sound of Sherlock's shoes against the floor made the line of John's spine stiffen in anticipation and he was at once ready and completely unprepared when the knife curled around his bicep towards his back and Sherlock started tracing painstakingly slow lines between his hunched shoulder blades.
Time fell apart as Sherlock and the knife carved themselves into John's skin, painting him in red and agony. John panted and shuddered and suffered under Sherlock's ministrations until there was nothing left in his brain but the pain and Sherlock and the need to endure. To survive.
He felt lightheaded and dizzy, though whether it was from blood loss or arousal he couldn't tell. Something of both, probably. Most of the cuts were shallow, enough to leave red smudges all over John's body, but not enough to put him in danger of passing out.
Not yet, anyway.
A particularly vicious twist of the knife made John's whole body arch, a guttural groan ripping its way out of his throat. Dimly, John realized that his prick was rock hard and leaking, joining the mingled mess of blood on the floor.
"I wonder," Sherlock's voice said, in a tone of voice that John didn't trust in the slightest. "Do you like enduring pleasure as well?"
The knife vanished without warning. "Sit up," Sherlock said, and grabbed the back of John's neck to haul him upright. The weight of John's arse pressing down on his cut-up thighs made him grunt.
Sherlock's fingers started tracing the complicated whorl of skin-tightening pain radiating across the small of his back and John bit the inside of his cheek hard. Blood was trailing down both of John's arms now, in slow, steady rivulets; he could feel the drip, drip, drip of it falling from his fingers.
"Take care of yourself," Sherlock said. One set of fingertips was replaced by the cool kiss of the knife. "Don't move too much."
It took John's mind a muddled moment to figure out what Sherlock was talking about; the moment he was sure he'd understood, John reached for his prick, aching for the touch with every fibre of his being.
John's prick was hot and swollen and John couldn't help biting his lip to stifle a groan when he wrapped his hand around it. It wouldn't take much to set him off, John knew, especially as Sherlock was placing nicking scratches down the back of his right arm that melded into the general agony in John's body. The slide of his hand against heated skin was rough and uneven thanks to the drying blood on John's palm, but even that pain couldn't distract him from the rush of doing this, of taking everything Sherlock had to dish out and refusing to fail. He worked his prick roughly, racing towards his mounting climax.
Then the dancing knife descended to the sole of John's foot, lingering just below John's big toe, and John froze.
"Don't," he said, and it came out strangled. "Sherlock…"
"Hush," Sherlock said and John hardly had time to brace himself before Sherlock slashed the delicate skin, knife point digging hard into the ball of his foot and tapering off to the lightest of touches at the heel.
John's yell rattled against the walls and his orgasm hit before he could even begin to catch his breath. He faintly registered the burning pain of a matching mark on his other foot, but it was a distant realization, swallowed up by pain and control and pleasure so sharp he thought it never end. The world vanished.
When John blinked back to reality endless moments later, he was sprawled across the floor in an utterly undignified heap: face pressed against the floor and hips still hoisted up by the press of his folded legs. His limbs were shaking.
Sherlock was stood above him, knife gone but hands still stained with evidence of John. John stared up at him blankly, his brain heavy as it catalogued his condition. He was a mess: completely starkers, liberally stained with a wet combination of blood, sweat and semen. Pain was radiating across what felt like every inch of skin he owned and John didn't even want to think about how much pain he was going to be in when the endorphin rush wore off.
"Agh," he managed.
"Eloquent as always," Sherlock said, sounding completely put together. It might have made John self-conscious, if his brain wasn't already full of pain and bone-deep satisfaction.
John tried again. "Sherlock?"
"You did well," Sherlock said, which was honestly the maddest part of the entire encounter. At least until he added a dismissive, "You'll do better next time."
Next time? John wanted to ask, but he couldn't force his tongue to shape the words. Somewhere beneath the flush of exertion and the red crisscross of violence across his skin, John could feel his cheeks colouring.
"Of course next time," Sherlock said and John's entire body sagged. "Obvious."
"Oh," John said intelligently.
"What's your opinion on rope abrasions?" Sherlock asked, in the same tone of voice he used to ask John whether he thought Asda's was likely to carry whale blubber. John twitched in sudden, violent arousal and his spent cock made a valiant attempt at rousing. Which wasn't happening any time soon; John wasn't that young anymore and he dared anyone to outlast Sherlock Holmes in an inquisitive sort of mood.
He could hear Sherlock smirking. "I'll take that as a yes. Get up," he said then. His hands wrapped around John's arm-
-careless of the fire that raced along the network of shallow cuts he'd left there. "You need to get cleaned up. I took the liberty of stocking up on plasters."
John huffed out a tired laugh. "I hope you got a lot. Christ, I'm going to be feeling this for weeks." He got his feet under him and bit back a curse at the immediate reaction of the cuts on the soles of his feet. "Especially those ones, bloody hell."
"You're welcome. Hurry up. Molly's expecting me at Bart's later."
"You need me to come?" John asked, hissing at the possessive glide of Sherlock's hand up his aching back.
Sherlock shook his head. "Hardly, You're in no shape for going anywhere tonight. I intend to see you dealt with before I go."
"Oh." John thought about that. It was surprisingly difficult. "Thank you."
"Boring," Sherlock said, dragging John towards the stairs and leaving his clothes where they were. "Besides, you're going to scrub the floor while I'm gone - wouldn't want it to stain."
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