SUMMARY: "Joan/Sherlock, first time negotiating a D/s scene between them."
WARNINGS: D/s elements, discussion of sex, gratuitous misuse of ACD canon quotes.
“Knew it right from the first moment I saw you,” Sherlock says. “Domme right down to the core. Kept eye-contact, stared me down. Bit freaked outcourse you were, I seem to remember I professed my undying love, but you didn’t let it get to you.”
“You know what?” Joan tells him. “That’s total crap.”
It’s six weeks after six weeks. Joan has a new job title. It’s ‘investigator’. These days Sherlock introduces Joan as his assistant—after she pulled him aside and explained that she appreciated the thought, but ‘partner’ wasn’t working. In some ways, she misses ‘bodyguard’; she enjoyed the doubletakes, and the feeling of slight wariness than inhabited the room afterwards.
Doctors aren’t supposed to enjoy feeling dangerous, but she isn’t a doctor anymore; she’s an investigator, and occasionally investigators have to be slightly threatening.
Which is sort of why they’re here, isn’t it, on the sofa with their bodies angled towards each other, carefully not touching. He has his hands laced on his knee. She has her hair up.
“Look at what you’re like,” she points out. “And you have a zipper mask. Your personality doesn’t change just because you like—”
“Subbing. Debasing myself in front of fantasy authority. Being something of a slut for a top who can throw a singletail. Plenty of choice, pick one, make up your own, it’s probably correct, I don’t have many limits.”
Joan tips her head to the side, delivering a deeply flat look; she knows the terms, her expression implies. And she does. Mostly, admittedly, from the internet. Hearing them spoken out loud seems—honestly? Comical, melodramatic. Singletails, tops, subs and sluts. Zipper masks. She tries to picture either of them done up in black leather and just finds it embarrassing.
She has other fantasies, though, organic and personal—and memories of the way she’d always put a hand over Ty’s mouth while on top of him and they’d both come in seconds, or when she’d give him a sharp pat on the backside passing him in the kitchen, a joking make me coffee that he’d listen to, her nails dragging long lines down his back and his wrists in her hands—and oh, God, that boyfriend from medical school who would sit under her desk and help keep her awake for hours.
All this happens below the surface; she’s good at letting nothing so much as flicker on her features. “Thank you,” she says dryly.
“Well, you seemed hesitant.”
“Really? Because you seem nervous.”
He wrinkles his nose and makes a sound like pfft, much too exaggerated, leaning out slightly, though it has little effect; inside the house is quiet and outside is not, which creates a kind of bubble, like they’ve stepped slightly to the left of the whole world and there’s nothing else to consider. No distractions. Joan’s closed the blinds on everything outside and she knows—it gives her some considerable thrill to know—that the only thing he’s interested in inside is her. “Watson, I am a card-carrying deviant. If pro-dommes did frequent flyer miles—”
“Sherlock, I’m nervous too. Okay? And I’m not a card-carrying deviant, for the record, but it wouldn’t matter if I was one. We haven’t done this before. Together.”
He quietens down, watches her like he’s expecting some kind of punchline. “Well,” he says eventually, softly. “Can’t argue with that, can I.”
Joan offers him a slight smile. “I think you can, but I’m glad you’re not going to.”
“You know me frighteningly well. I’m going to have to get you to write notes for me, I’m sure I’d learn something.”
“A lot. Is this how you flirt?”
“No. Is this how you negotiate?”
Joan presses her lips together, and takes him in with a considering air. She’s getting better and better at that—it’s nothing like Sherlock’s stare, which is slightly manic, urgent and hard, makes you feel surrounded and stressed. Joan looks like she’s got all the time in the world to take you apart, inducing a slow, creeping nervousness. “I guess I’m trying to work out what we’re doing.”
They haven’t slept together. She hasn’t even kissed him. She tries to imagine it; she’s never sure she likes men with stubble, but she thinks he’d be a good kisser. Still, that’s mechanical, and she tries to go deeper and really imagine. He’s tactile; he’d have his hands everywhere. His mouth would be warm. He’d taste of—well. She’d make him brush his teeth first.
“I’m sitting on a sofa,” Sherlock says unhelpfully. “You’re imagining kissing me. Would you like to try?”
“I think that would be a bad idea,” Joan says.
“You misunderstand. Regardless of whether it would be a bad idea or not, would you like to?”
“Sherlock, I’m not going to be your girlfriend.”
“Good. Hate girlfriends. Wasn’t aware that kissing sealed the deal on that sort of thing, though.”
“You want me to say yes, don’t you?”
“I want you,” he says, and there’s a sudden seriousness in his face, “to say anything. Because you haven’t, yet. I’ve said a bit. I’ve told you how experienced I am. You’ve come across toys and tools and all sorts of flim-flammery while you’ve been here, so you can deduce all you like about me and what I like on, around and inside me, but I’m suffering from a serious lack of data. Can’t build bricks without clay, Miss Watson. All the clay I’ve got is a text I wasn’t meant to see.”
The Mets had won, is her excuse. They’d won pretty spectacularly, actually. And it had been the end of the week. And it was when her time as a sober companion had been up. And she hadn’t realised that the cocktails one of her friends had insisted on buying her had been quite that potent, or maybe she just hadn’t eaten enough that day. Anyway, she’d ended up drunk.
She’d stayed on her friend’s couch for the night, not wanting to go home and flaunt her intoxication in Sherlock’s direction. She’d texted him and told him as much, assured him she was fine, been honest, if distinctly badly-spelled. He’d told her not to worry, or nt 2 wry, at least. And she hadn’t.
She’d texted Ty instead. Or: she had written a text to Ty, decided (with distinctly fuzzy judgement) that it was good and frankly sexy, and then gone to her contacts and done the only thing worse than drunk sexting your ex, which is to drunk sext your former client, current roommate.
And here they are, on the couch, weeks after that, following a couple of arguments, one of which turned into them standing much too close to each other, her saying that no, she didn’t appreciate having her sex life brought up again and again, and him replying that he didn’t know how else to invite himself into it, and if there was a way she found preferable, could she tell him?
“Okay,” she says. “Safewords. Red and yellow.”
“Never let it be said you’re anything but creative.”
“I’m not used to them. If they work and if we both remember them, they’re good enough for me. Also, I am doing nothing with the zipper mask.”
“Good. Solid data. A limit. Next?”
“None of that PVC, black leather, latex stuff, nothing like it. I’ll just start laughing.”
“Right. Well, speaking of which, I don’t know how to land a singletail.”
“I can show you if you like.”
“I think we can,” count that out—she pauses, looks at him, and instead opts for, “wait and see.”
There’s a glint in his eye, and Joan realises she’s being looked at like she’s a case, which shouldn’t be flattered. She stares right back at him, and decides just to enjoy—whatever she’s enjoying about this, the quick back and forth of things she’s never even really thought about before. “Do you tease often, Miss Watson?” he says; he’s leant back in. The room seems even more quiet around him now, for some reason.
She lifts her chin; not telling. “Do you like calling me that, Sherlock?” she asks, mirroring his tone, and takes some small victory in the flicker of pleased surprise that crosses his face.
“Yes,” he says. “I could go for ‘ma’am’, too.”
“Anything but Mistress.” A beat—their eyes meet, and she knows she doesn’t have to say or doctor. He wouldn’t bring it up. He’s not sensitive, but he’s clever; if he’s looking at her like he looks at his cases, then he can’t have missed something so obvious.
He inclines his head. “Never that fond of Mistress, really. Bit impersonal. Mistress could be anyone. I like to know who’s pulling my hair.”
And that goes right through her, a sudden jolt of heat—down her spine, between her legs. She’s not sure why, only that it strikes some chord, that she wants it. She presses her thighs tighter together, glancing off to the side. With anyone else, she might be able to hide it. Not with him. He grins. “Ah,” he says. “Clay. Please; don’t be embarrassed, I assure you, I find the idea—equally titillating.”
Joan takes a few moments, and then responds with, “We have negotiating to do.”
“So we do. Next point?”
“You still need data?”
“I always need data.”
“Okay.” They watch each other for another moment, and Joan rearranges her thoughts. She knows what she wants to say next, and forces herself to stare at him while she does it. “I don’t know if I want to kiss you, or if I’m just curious.”
“Curiosity’s a want, isn’t it?”
He’d know, she thinks, terribly tenderly. “There’s a difference, Sherlock.”
“No, there’s not. You want to kiss me, you’re just looking for the reason why. Said reason could be curiosity, or it could just be that you want to play tonsil tennis for the game’s own sake.”
“Tonsil tennis. Cute. Thanks; I’m suddenly not curious at all.”
Joan casts around for more to say. There is more, she knows; there’s are we friends with benefits and what kind of benefits are we even talking about and can I make you make me coffee and you know this isn’t anything like what I did with Ty, right, you know this is going to be all different. There’s how hard do you like your hair pulled. She opens her mouth, and asks, “Can I have some clay?”
Sherlock all but beams. “Miss Watson,” he says, “I would be only too pleased. You remember, I’m sure, my comment on sex?”
“It wasn’t crap. Admittedly, I was attempting to make you feel, I suppose, comfortable living with a strange man fresh out of rehab with handcuffs in his sitting room—”
“Oh, come on, you were oversharing. And trying to make yourself look, I don’t know. Invincible.”
“I’m sure you’ll put it all in your notes. But you must understand—you don’t have to touch me. I don’t have to touch you. No orgasm is necessary. And this—whatever we do—will count as sex to me. That’s how I’ll...categorise it.”
“In your attic.”
“Precisely. That’s where it goes. I require something that makes my mind shut down, which is what sex is to me.” He stops, and Joan feels the shape of unsaid words hanging in the air. She’s gotten accustomed to that.
“And?” she asks, gentle. For a moment, he frowns at her like she’s a clue that doesn’t make sense, then relents slightly, wordlessly admits that yes, she’s right.
“And I find,” he says slowly, slightly stiffly, “that...intimacy...is achievable without—” He waves a hand. “All the trimmings.”
“Intimacy,” she half asks and half prompts.
“Gloating really doesn’t suit you.”
“I’m not gloating,” Joan says, honestly surprised. Sherlock makes a face, but doesn’t actually argue. “Okay, clarify something for me. I get that actually sleeping together...isn’t necessary. Which is fine. Good for me too. But by not necessary do you mean not happening ever?”
“That depends on you,” he says, looking straight at her.
“I want to wait,” she replies immediately. “I want to know—what this is going to be like before we get into that, if we get into that. Is that—that is possible, right?”
“Having sex without having sex?” he grins. “More possible than you’d think.”
“I found some stuff on the internet about, uh. Non-sexual kink. Domestic stuff.”
“I draw the line at a maid’s outfit.”
“But you don’t draw the line elsewhere?”
A blink. “No. I don’t.”
Joan swallows hard, sets her jaw, doesn’t look away. The line of her body is almost military; Sherlock, in contrast, is sprawled, but there’s a certain tension in him. She realises, belatedly, that it’s a reaction to her. “Good,” she says. “Because it was hot as hell.”
And then he rockets forwards, scooting closer, one of his knees bumping hers. “Yes,” he says. “Yes, excellent. Thank God. Beyond kissing me, which is frankly vanilla, I’m afraid, that’s the first thing you’ve mentioned wanting to do. Using your words, as opposed to getting hot under the collar and trying to hide it. Tell me more.”
For a moment, she completely forgets everything she’s read about it, everything that lead her to slide her hand down between her legs later that night, everything she couldn’t stop thinking about in the line at the grocery store the next morning. She searches for words. “...Ty used to make me coffee. It’s not—I don’t know, it doesn’t matter what he did, the point was that he did something because I told him to. It was kind of a joke, but we let it go on, I guess. We, uh, had a lot of kitchen sex. Don’t give me that look. There was something like that on this site I found—suggestions for things to do with your sub.” The word doesn’t sound melodramatic this time, not when her voice is so quiet and calm. His eyes are eager, and he’s distinctly close. “Something about—make him make you coffee. Breakfast. Anything. Have him kneel on the floor while you’re at the table.” Her mouth is dry. “I never did that with Ty.”
“But you want to do that with me,” Sherlock says. His voice is hoarse. “That...excites you. The picture of me on my knees. Would you ignore me?”
“How good are you at making coffee?”
“For you? Miss Watson, you will never want to visit Starbucks again.”
Joan finds she hasn’t enough breath to laugh, but it’s okay. He’s still looking at her—he looks enthralled, and it’s distracting. There are still things she doesn’t know, she thinks; so many of them. She doesn’t know if they’re friends or roommates or lovers, and she doesn’t know, actually, if a singletail is what he calls the whip he always leaves coiled on the kitchen table, brazen as you like or if he means something slightly different, and she doesn’t quite know what she’s doing, but she suspects it’s a lot of fun. And she knows— “I think I’m ready to see why I want to kiss you.”
“Thought you’d never ask,” Sherlock mutters, and they both lean in, which is a bit stupid. Noses bump and get in the way and, as it turns out, he’s a dreadful kisser, clumsy and hungry, and she has to try and get him to slow down, and he tastes of coffee, and absolutely no questions are answered.
“Still not sure,” she says, pulling away. His mouth was warm and his hands were everywhere; she got that right. He looks more shell-shocked than she does. “...But you definitely need to shave.”
“Is that an order?” he inquires.
“Yes,” she says, and he gets to his feet. She watches him go. “In fact—Sherlock, wait. Go sit on the edge of the bath. Don’t start anything.”
He’s at the door when she says that, and turns to frown, questions on the tip of his tongue which he promptly answers for himself when he meets her eye; Joan wonders if this is what he meant by intimacy, looking at someone and knowing they’ve got the same image in mind. And if said image is of him sitting on the edge of the bath, her standing, one knee up on the side, his chin in hand, drawing the razor slowly over his face, and perhaps she’d make him lace his hands behind his back to stop him from distracting her, but after, he could touch her, put his hands at her waist, his face level with her breasts—then that’s still intimate, and that’s still alright.
“Oh,” he says, and he sounds slightly dizzy. He also sounds slightly impressed. “Right. Got it. That is—” He focuses, gets his thoughts straight, and grins. “Yes, Miss Watson.”