Alternate links: Originally posted here for sherlock_remix
Status of work: Complete
Characters and/or pairings: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Warnings, kinks & contents: Sex Shop, verging on explicit, mentions of off-screen murders, less-than-Canonical Gruesomeness, Containing Pining, Obliviousness, Happy Endings
Length: 3241 Words
Author's note: This is written for Round 4 of the Sherlock Remix on LJ, and the fic I will be remixing is the AMAZING ‘The Vibe’ by ms_soma. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as porny as it sounds. If I can sort my life out, I will be continuing this with porn. Because the original fic deserves porn as a tribute. But I hope this is good, too.
Summary: John runs a sex shop. Sherlock is a consulting detective. They live in a city where people are endlessly inventive about murdering each other. Aka the fic in which Sherlock slowly runs out of excuses to visit the intriguing man who works at the sex shop, and John is not picking up Sherlock’s subtle hints.
Also posted at AO3
When John got back from Afghanistan, the first surprise he’d faced in his new life was Mike Stamford. He’d quickly learned that in some ways, the army was a lot more lax than the city. Many things which were glossed over in Afghanistan in favour of the desperate need for field medics were just not good enough in the city. No one in London wanted a surgeon with a tremor. He’d known locum work would bore him half to death, but he hadn’t expected that he’d find swallowing a bullet preferable to dealing with another middle aged man convinced he had yet another venereal disease. He’d never wanted to be a cosmetic sort of doctor because it wasn’t nearly as exciting as battlefield medicine, and he hardly had the temper to be a diagnostician. There really weren’t that many options for someone who’d specialised the way he had. His hands had been his livelihood, and he’d as good as lost them with the bullet to his shoulder. He’d been left in limbo, with limited options, none of which appealed to him.
And then Mike had appeared, like some sort of absurd fairy-god-parent, brimming with good cheer and optimism. He hadn’t expected charitable help, but he really hadn’t expected Mike, of all people, to support him through his lowest point. And he hadn’t expected Mike to have a magical solution to all his problems either.
Things had been grim when he’d walked into the The Vibe for the first time. Even the drab little bedsit cost an arm and a leg, and while John was a hardy man, he would not have survived a winter alone on the streets. It was why he’d jumped at the chance Mike offered him, without asking too many questions. Running a sex shop was a whole different kettle of fish to battlefield medicine. Maybe, instead of being constantly reminded that he’d never operate on a human being again, the difference would help him forget how much his own circumstances had changed. Maybe he’d stop flinching every time he heard a loud noise. Maybe he’d stop feeling angry and depressed every time his fingers twitched without permission.
Running a sex shop was interesting, to say the least. He’d had some preconceived notions of what it would be like, but they’d been happily tossed out on their ear within his first week. Most people who walked into the shop were pretty nervous, and generally appreciated speaking to a non-judgmental adult, instead of an excitable teenager. No one really made any trouble, and he rarely had to worry about break ins and the such. It would be truly desperate robbers who tried to steal sex toys.
Also it reminded him of the funnier parts of medical school, where they had to deal with the most extreme absurdities as a part of their day to day life. He liked to think he was helping doctors out there in some little way, by making sure that people bought the right kinds of things to insert into their various orifices, instead of experimenting and having to come up with endlessly hilarious variations of ‘I slipped and fell on it’.
And it wasn’t thrilling or anything, not like being in a war zone, but it was definitely more interesting and entertaining than working in a clinic with seasonal sniffles and the occasional allergy. It was enough. It would have to be enough, because that’s all he would ever get, and he just had to accept it.
That’s what he thought, anyway, until the day a tall, gorgeous bloke strode through the front doors, swearing creatively at someone on the phone in a deep, posh voice. John knew he had a type, and this man suited him down to the ground, but he took his job seriously. If the way the customers had jumped was any indication, his preference would have to be put aside in favour of asking this guy to keep it down. But before he could open his mouth, the man had unceremoniously ended his phone call, and stopped in front of his counter.
“Hi, welcome to The Vibe,” John started, because there was no point in being rude to a paying customer. “Can I hel—”
“I don’t know, can you?” the man asked, rude and imperious, before whipping out a large green dildo from his inner coat pocket. It must have been almost ten inches long and three inches across, and it took every ounce of self-control to not sputter in surprise, because that had been genuinely unexpected, like a magic trick from an adults-only comedy show.
“Do you stock this product?” the man asked, texting rapidly and not even bothering to look up at John.
John snorted, and it was probably rude but he couldn’t help it. “Look mate, we’re a sex shop, sure, but we’re not crazy. That thing could cause real damage to someone who didn’t know what they were doing. We’re fairly low on the level of—”
The man looked up, gave him a completely non-sexual once-over, turned on his heel and walked out, still holding the lime green toy in his hand. John snorted and went back to his inventory, because he didn’t know how else to respond. He thought that was probably the end of it, because it was unlikely he’d ever see the man again. He didn’t feel too guilty about relegating his image to fantasy fodder. After all, cheekbones like that only came along once in a lifetime.
At least, normally they did. A little less than a month later, the same man walked in, and it was an honest surprise. Yet another thing in a long list of things that John hadn’t been expecting. This time though, instead of confronting him at the counter, the man wandered around for a bit, and John was mostly torn between ignoring him and asking him if he needed help. The man was as gorgeous as he remembered, and he was pretty sure he’d know immediately that John had been wanking off to his image every other night. John was sure it was just written on his face, in bold letters, font size twelve.
Before he could make up his mind, the man strode over to his counter, long legs bringing him across the floor of the shop in three strides. “You’re a doctor,” he stated, completely unhesitant. “What kind of injuries could be inflicted with a semi-solid phallic implement approximately ten inches long and three inches wide? Would it be easier to cause death by internal trauma or would it be more effective to bludgeon someone for a more immediate result?”
John stared at him, mouth slightly open in shock, because what?
The man rolled his eyes and tsked loudly. “I said, you’re a doctor, an ex-army surgeon to be precise—”
“Hang on, how did you know that?” John demanded, because that was important. He hadn’t told anyone about that, and if this man was following him—
“It’s obvious. I deduced it from the callouses on your hands and your psychosomatic limp and the tremors in your hand.”
John gaped a bit more. The man rolled his eyes again, somehow even more dramatically. “I don’t have time for this, can you answer the question?”
And somehow, John managed to recover his wits enough to answer. “I can, but I won’t, because it sounds like you’re about to commit a murder.” It sounded trite the moment he said it, and he wished he could take it back, but the words were out there and by some miracle, it looked like the man was biting back a smile.
“The name’s Sherlock Holmes. I’m consulting on a case for Scotland Yard.” He pulled out the same, or a similar green dildo from his inner pocket and placed it gently on the counter between them. John eyed it warily, like it was going to explode.
“And someone was bludgeoned to death with a dildo.” John hoped his scepticism was getting across, because yeah he’d seen a lot of things in his time in the army, and during his clinical placements, but there was a difference between self-inflicted injuries caused by dumbasses, and murder by sex toy.
“Presumably. I can’t discuss the details but it’s a leading theory regarding the cause of death on a body that was too damaged to be tested normally. That’s why I was asking about which would be more effective.”
“Well,” John started, “considering it’s a pretty low quality one, I’d say it’s made of a pretty porous synthetic material, and it looks pretty heavy for something that’s supposed to be anally inserted, so--”
“How did you know it’s supposed to be anally inserted?” Holmes asked, sounding morbidly curious instead of critical, so John wasn’t too offended.
John shrugged. He was proud of how nonchalant he managed to sound. “The shape almost gives it away but not exactly. I guess it’s instinct. You see enough of these things and you’ll roughly know where it’s supposed to go. But really, it’s too big for normal users. You really have to know what you’re doing with that one. I’d say not too many stores sell toys like—”
Holmes’ serious facade cracked open to reveal delight, grinning like a child for whom Christmas had come early. “You’re a genius!” He grabbed John’s face, hauled him across the counter and smacked a loud kiss on his forehead. “That’s the solution!” He grabbed the dildo off the counter and practically ran out the door, long fingers already dialling a number on his cell phone.
John stared after him for a long while, one hand pressed against his forehead where he could still feel Holmes’ lips, wondering nonsensically if Holmes interrupted everyone, or whether that dubious pleasure was reserved for sex toy retailers. For some reason, he hoped it was just him.
He really wasn’t expecting to see Holmes again. Not if he’d solved his case. He’d done a little research online and while the Scotland Yard website hadn’t said anything about a consulting detective, there were enough news stories about a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ to validate his story. His work was definitely interesting, and some small part of John wished that he’d come back. But he knew Sherlock wouldn’t. People like Holmes didn’t frequent sex shops. They either didn’t deign to have sex, or if they did were perfectly content with having sex with other people.
And again, Holmes defied his expectations. One morning when John got in to open up the store for business, Holmes was waiting outside, texting so fast that it was a miracle his phone wasn’t on fire. “Mr. Holmes,” John said, not even bothering to hide his surprise.
“Please, call me Sherlock,” he interrupted John again, and John huffed a laugh, accepting a hand to shake.
“Sherlock, then. I’m John,” he introduced himself, and bent to unlock the door, cane clattering awkwardly on the floor.
Sherlock held out a hand to help him up when he was done, and winked when their eyes met. “I know,” he said and walked into the store ahead of John, coat flapping behind him. In that moment, leaning on his cane to get up the stairs in the front of the store, John felt supremely undesirable.
Sherlock was in the shop for a couple of hours, being surprisingly unobtrusive while John dealt with actual paying customers. He didn’t mind Sherlock’s presence because he wasn’t disturbing so much as slightly unsettling, leaving John hyper-aware of his body all the time. He asked intelligent questions and seemed to listen to John’s answers, even if he did still clearly have a habit of interrupting. He seemed to have an unending well of curiosity about sex toys, and even wanted to go through the inventories to see the less popular stuff they kept in the back rooms for more discerning customers. His sarcastic commentary about cases he’d solved in the past and his co-workers at the Met kept John entertained in the hot, lazy hours of the afternoon, when people were more likely to walk past the shop than they were to walk in.
John had only just mustered up the courage to ask Sherlock what exactly was going on, and why he was there, when he received a call and rushed off with a quick wave and a grin. John felt bereft for hours, until he discovered that Sherlock had somehow managed to program his number into John’s phone was he wasn’t paying attention. The thought of the other man picking his pocket made him smile, and it was a clear sign that he was in trouble, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Not when Sherlock arrived at the same time the next day, and the next, and the day after that.
Sherlock claimed he needed the answers to a lot of questions because they’d had a series of murders, all involving sexual set ups at the crime scene, and he had to research the implements used before the killer struck again. It sounded pretty dubious to John, but considering that someone had committed a murder in cold blood using a ten-inch lime green dildo, he was willing to concede that he didn’t know enough about criminal acts in London to say anything with authority.
It was really a miracle that John had been able to answer Sherlock’s questions about the various uses of various toys with a straight face. If someone had told him that he’d one day have to explain to someone without a clitoris, the function of a clitoral vibrator, he’d have started laughing years in advance. But Sherlock seemed to have an unending well of curiosity, and apparently nothing better to do than to broaden his sexual horizons. The thought of Sherlock potentially using his new knowledge on other people, however, made John see red, and that was not good at all. He should have backed off, but he couldn’t make himself stop. Not when Sherlock turned up every bloody morning with a cup of coffee, a smile, and a list of questions about sex.
It wasn’t his job to teach anyone anything. The internet existed for a reason. It was his job to make sure people didn’t hurt themselves too badly, and that was it. But he really didn’t mind teaching Sherlock, if it meant he kept coming around.
He was in such deep trouble.
And one day, Sherlock didn’t have any questions to ask. His silence loomed over John like a dark cloud, because it was an indicator that their time together was coming to an end. He wanted to say something, anything to stave off the inevitable for a while at least, but there was nothing within their zones of comfort he could possibly speak about. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so he took a chance and asked, “Have you considered getting one yourself?”
Sherlock blinked and looked at him quizzically.
“A toy, I mean,” John continued, hesitant and hating how his voice faltered. “For yourself. First-hand experience and all that.”
To his delight (and shock), Sherlock blushed, colour rising high in his cheeks as he averted his gaze. John had known this man for a very short time, but he’d never expected him to be bashful, not about anything. Let alone sex toys, about which they’d been speaking for days.
Sherlock cleared his throat after a moment of awkward silence, during which John could not peel his eyes away from the pink cheeks, and the single incisor biting Sherlock’s lower lip, as if keeping the words from bubbling out. “I’m not—I don’t really want to try it on my own,” he said, finally looking up to meet John’s eyes.
“You don’t have anyone? I mean, a girlfriend or a boyfriend?” he asked, and felt so stupid he could have punched himself in the face. If Sherlock had a partner, he was sure he really did not want to know. It would only make him feel dirtier about the number of fantasies he’d had about this man.
Sherlock’s blush deepened, and he shook his head, wordlessly. But there was something about the way he was looking at John, something about the questioning tone in his voice that John couldn’t quite understand, and it took him a few solid moments to process it.
When realisation hit, he could have groaned. He might actually have groaned. It took real effort to not drop his head against the desk, in what would definitely have been an over-dramatic reaction. Sherlock was still watching him as he sorted through all the information in his head and thought through it again, because yeah, if he looked at it the right way, Sherlock had definitely been coming on to him, and he’d just been too thick to realise it.
No one would spend hours talking about sex toys with a person they weren’t interested in, not even a man who had written a monologue on 243 types of tobacco ash. He’d solved the case ages ago, and while John was a little clueless, if there had really been a series of murders involving sex toys, he was sure he’d have heard about it. Sherlock was smiling slightly, cheeks still pink. He looked uncharacteristically hesitant, for a man who had demanded to know the best way to cause fatal trauma by dildo on their first meeting.
“It turns out I’m a little bit thick. I’d like to blame my brain damage on the war, but I think it’s because I look like the last person someone like you would want to be involved with,” John said, self-deprecating, because honesty seemed to be the best policy, going forward.
“Someone like me?” Sherlock asked, still quiet, leaning towards him slightly. The door-bell chimed to announce a customer entering the shop, but neither of them looked up.
“You’re gorgeous, Sherlock. Surely you’ve noticed.” Sherlock blush fired up again, and he really did look lovely. John resisted the temptation to lean in and kiss him, because compliments were one thing, but there was such a thing as being too forward, despite their uncensored discussions in the days past. “You should have said something,” he said, daring to put a hand on Sherlock’s, keeping his touch friendly instead of suggestive.
“Most people would have told me to piss off by now. I was wondering when you were going to snap. I could do without people laughing in my face.” John couldn’t believe that people would have laughed at this man for anything, let alone in the face of a proposition, and his incredulity must have shown. “You are quite unique, John. Unexpected, in every sense of the word.”
John laughed, because it was surprising how closely Sherlock’s thoughts mirrored his own. If only he knew. “I’ll get off work in twenty minutes. Do you want to go for dinner?”
Sherlock’s face lit up in pleasure, and John would have sacrificed a lot to keep it looking that way. “I’m starving.”
“Good. I know a place that does fantastic dim sum near Piccadilly Circus. I knew the owners son in Barts. He owes me a favour.”
Sherlock turned his hand around and wove his fingers with John’s. “My flat’s on Baker Street, if you—” he faltered, sounding hesitant but determinedly not looking away.
John squeezed his hand and grinned. This was turning out to be the best kind of surprise. “Sherlock, there’s nothing I’d like more.”