Love Without Penalties

“Good kitty.”

Well, that’s rather unimaginative. But the weapons dealer’s dirty hands are gentle when he picks Sherlock up and plops him down in his lap, and his thick, blunt fingers scratch inoffensively between Sherlock’s ears. The detective paws a little at the man’s thighs, trying to get him to lean them together with enough force to be comfortable to settle down on. He does, and Sherlock curls his tail around himself and allows himself to be held, waiting.

Sherlock is almost certain that Hector Fryer– the dangerous criminal currently stroking soothingly down his back– is the source of a large percentage of the illegal handguns in London. Lestrade, idiotically, is less sure, only marginally interested in Sherlock’s observations of the back tyres of his car and the callus patterns on his fingers. He’d sighed and told Sherlock to come back when he had some actual evidence, and Sherlock had known he’d only said it because he’d known that Sherlock would. Lestrade, despite his general slowness and lack of imagination, does trust him. He knows that if he tells Sherlock to find more evidence, Sherlock will.

Well. Lestrade knows the general outline of the thing, anyway. He doesn’t know about the bit where Sherlock showers thoroughly– any griminess on his human skin seems to transfer over to his fur, making him look grey and mangy– before standing nude in the middle of his bedroom and flipping the switch in his mind, the one he’s never been able to fully install into a furnished room in his Mind Palace, but is always in there somewhere. It doesn’t hurt, and in fact has never felt like much of anything. It just happens, is all; one moment he’s a lanky, pale human, and the next he’s a sleek white cat with an irritatingly asymmetrical splotch of black around one eye and dipping down to his nose.

He’s stopped questioning it. It might not even be the oddest thing about him, and it’s certainly useful for stakeouts.

Fryer is sitting on the back steps of a restaurant that Sherlock would very much like to take a look at the financial records of, staring out into the alley as he waits. The dealer has a customer tonight, that much is clear. It’s equally clear that the customer is small potatoes. Not a gang member, and nobody with any connections in the criminal underworld to speak of: Fryer has a SIG in one pocket and a Browning in the other, and it grates on Sherlock that he cannot tell which is intended for the customer and which belongs to Fryer, but ultimately it doesn’t matter all that much. Either way, one more citizen of the great metropolis will walk away armed from the rendezvous Sherlock is here to observe.

“Good kitty,” the criminal says again, practically cooing. “You’re so soft.” Sherlock has to hold himself back from rolling his eyes, which looks even more dramatic and obvious on him a feline than it does on a human. (He has checked; the first time he came into possession of a home video camera as a teen, the first thing he did was set it up to record all of the expressions and positions he was capable of in his secondary form, just to see.)

As stupid as the entire human population is, it never fails to astound Sherlock just how much stupider they all get in the presence of a cat. Sherlock settles his chin on his front paw. The man’s touch is getting annoying, and he can feel his claws descending almost involuntarily, body willing him to bat the hand away. He ignores it, though; he needs to witness an actual transaction. He needs to know the payment methods and keywords so that he can bring the Yard back here and prove that he was right.

Finally, Sherlock hears the customer rounding the corner. He isn’t stealthy, though he’s trying to be: moving slowly, placing his cane against the ground carefully with each step. Sherlock can still feel the vibrations of it striking the ground on the tips of his whiskers. Fryer doesn’t stop stroking him; he reveals his suspicion that this man is his customer only in a slight increase of the tension in his thighs and stomach.

Fryer ignores the customer entirely when he first enters the alley, but Sherlock doesn’t need to hold back his curiosity: he raises his head a little and watches the figure entering the dark alley intently, ears twitching. His distance vision is frustratingly blurry in this form, but there’s still plenty to pick out about him.

His bearing is military-stiff; he’s leaning heavily on his cane when he enters the alley, but when his eyes focus on Fryer and he recognizes that the moment to make his purchase has arrived, he seems to right himself a little without even noticing it, and by the time he comes to stand in front of Fryer, he isn’t limping at all. He stands with his weight equally distributed on his legs. A psychosomatic injury, perhaps, which he can forget about when distracted. He clenches and unclenches his fist, the only outward sign of nervousness as he waits to be acknowledged. The advantage of Sherlock’s superior feline night vision allows him to inspect the man’s hand and wrist, revealed by the movement of his sleeve. The arm is tanned in the deep leathery way that only happens over long exposure, and the wrist pale.

It was either Afghanistan or Iraq. Sherlock knows it, he knows it but he cannot tell the soldier what he knows, and he cannot ask which it was. A small squeak actually escapes him with the frustration of it.

The soldier pulls out his mobile and taps on the screen. He holds it out towards Fryer, and Sherlock is shifted slightly in the criminal’s lap when he digs into the pocket of his jeans for his own mobile. The soldier is showing QR code, Sherlock sees, and Fryer scans it. Sherlock cannot see the screen of Fryer’s mobile, but he can tell that it confirms the customer’s identity to his satisfaction.

The actual exchange is remarkably simple. Sherlock suspects there are no cameras on this area, or if there are, Fryer has control of the footage from them. The soldier hands him an envelope stuffed full of cash. Fryer reaches into his pocket and hands over the SIG, which is in a small black zipper bag. The soldier tucks it into his jacket pocket. Fryer’s hand never leaves Sherlock’s head.

“‘Ta,” says the soldier, and grasps the handle of his cane more firmly. He seems neither relieved nor more nervous now that he has an illegal handgun in his pocket. Sherlock allows himself to stare up at him from his perch on Fryer’s lap, as if he could somehow transmit the question though his gaze: Afghanistan or Iraq? Please, I need to know. Afghanistan or Iraq?

The soldier glances down, and he catches Sherlock’s eyes for a moment.

His eyes are blue. Sherlock can see blue, and in fact can distinguish down to ultraviolet, in this form. It’s the higher wavelengths he has trouble with, and without the contrast of the reds and oranges he is used to, colour always looks off. So he knows that the soldier’s eyes are blue, but he cannot tell what they would look like if he were in his human form.

He does not know where the soldier was deployed, and he cannot tell what colour his eyes are, and it shouldn’t bother Sherlock, not when he has just witnessed an arms deal and learned that Hector Fryer uses QR codes to verify the identities of his customers, but somehow it does.

The soldier is disappearing around the corner again, limp gradually returning as he gets farther and farther away, and Fryer saves Sherlock from his own indecision by sighing deeply and placing him back on the ground. “Alright, kitty,” he says, “Time to bring home the bread.”

Sherlock doesn’t wait to watch the money being counted and filed. He knows he should; the more information on the operation, the better. But he can come back. It’s not unusual for stray cats and dogs to favour particular restaurant backs; Fryer will likely be glad to see him again. He even has enough information to send the Yard instead, now. So he meows a facsimile of protest and sets off down the side of the alley.


“Oh,” says the soldier. He’s standing at the front entrance of a fluorescently-lit block of cheap flats, fumbling about for his keys. “Hello again.”

Sherlock meows loudly. It’s unsubtle, he knows, but it almost never fails: in this form, he can simply ask for admittance to private residences, loudly, and it is almost always granted.

“I think I might be allergic to you.” The keys are located, the door swings open, and Sherlock bolts into the front hallway.

The door swings shut. The soldier is standing in front of it, head tilted, smiling slightly at Sherlock in bemusement. “Well then,” he mutters, “I guess it’s true what they say about cats finding someone allergic and making sure to befriend that person.”

He sets off down the hall, jangling his keyring again as he locates the key to his flat, and Sherlock follows. He wishes he could say out loud that the soldier probably isn’t allergic; Sherlock cleans thoroughly before taking this form, and he never stays a cat for long enough to build up much dander. He can’t, though. The carpet is an ancient, pilled grey, and the lighting in the hallway buzzes. The entire building is absolutely horrid.

The soldier holds the door to his own flat open for Sherlock, his face resigned but amused. “Happy?” he says. “My place is bloody awful. Don’t know why you’d want to come home with me.”

He flicks the light on, illuminating a tiny, barely-decorated flat. He hasn’t been back in London for long: a month, maybe less. He pulls of his jacket and sighs, laying it and its expensive cargo down on the desk before collapsing onto the bed.

Sherlock has to admit he’s right: the place is bloody awful. But it smells of this soldier, like sunlight and bread and the faintest hint of antiseptic, and that is nice. He stalks around the legs of the desk. There is a pile of papers on top of it; if he can jump up without him objecting–

“If you’re going to follow me home, the least you can do is let me pet you,” comes a grumble from the bed. The soldier, like almost everyone else, has a tendency to speak his thoughts out loud when a cat is in the room. Sherlock can understand the impulse, actually. The frailty of genius is that it needs an audience, but the irony is that idiocy and mediocrity both have the exact same frailty.

This one is an idiot, probably, just like everyone else, but Sherlock doesn’t want to leave just yet. He takes a few steps back and crouches, launching himself into the surface of the desk. He lands on the arm of the jacket, and quickly steps off of it onto a sheaf of papers.

The name jumps out at him first. John H. Watson, M.D.

The title of the document is second. Last Will and Testament.

Sherlock paws at it, trying to look like he’s just indulging the feline urge to mess around with physical objects, instead of actually reading the papers on the soldier’s– the army doctor’s– John’s-- desk. The will is properly done, six pages and written up by a solicitor instead of just the DIY job that, Sherlock knows, causes headaches for the families of far too many murder victims. It’s dated a week and a half ago, and has been sitting on the desk ever since.

“Hey,” says John, and Sherlock glances over. He’s reclining on the bed, one hand behind his head, the other massaging his bad leg. “Don’t mess up my stuff,” he says, but he doesn’t seem likely to come over and grab Sherlock. Instead, he makes that clicking noise with his tongue, the one that should be silly and patronizing, but somehow always lodges just underneath Sherlock’s skin and makes him want to curl up and be stroked.

Sherlock leaps off of the desk, away from the will and the gun, and trots over to the bed. John’s eyes crinkle kindly when Sherlock stalks up his body to settle on his chest. He can feel the heartbeat through his ribcage, and wonders how much longer he’s planning on having one.

John Watson, late of the army medical department, has very warm hands. Sherlock can feel the rumbling rising through his chest at the feel of them, and he allows it; people like it when he purrs, and he wants John to like him. “What’s your name, then?” the doctor asks.

My name is Sherlock Holmes. John Watson, were you stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq? Only a mewl actually emerges from his mouth, but John seems satisfied. “I’m going to call you Kit,” he announces.

Kit. Just as unimaginative as “Kitty,” but at least he won’t be subjected to a diminutive. It’s acceptable.

John pats him for a long time, and when he gently dislodges him and stands up Sherlock protests, but it’s only for John to flick off the light and strip down to his boxers. Perhaps Sherlock should feel guilty for looking, when John doesn’t know he’s being watched like that, but he doesn’t. The army doctor is sturdy and muscular, tan lines starting to bleed into the pale skin of his chest, and his left shoulder is resplendent with a scar that looks like someone threw a rock through a windshield. The source of the limp, then. Sherlock wants to lick it, and there is no reason for him to refrain from doing so. He can see John’s eyes pop open in the darkness when Sherlock climbs back onto his chest and dips his head to run his rough tongue over the uneven skin.

John laughs quietly, twitching a little, but he allows it. One of his warm hands comes back up to rest gently on Sherlock’s back.

“This isn’t how I thought tonight was going to go, Kit,” John admits, speaking quietly into the darkness.

An hour ago, the most important thing in the world seemed to be catching an arms dealer. Now, Sherlock’s claws descend from his paws a little, curling around John’s shoulder in an approximation of a hug. He can’t think quite why, but he knows he can’t let this man leave.

In this body, Sherlock is never too far from sleep. It would be irritating if it were the same kind of oblivion that he experiences when asleep as a human, but it’s not. As a cat, Sherlock finds he can rest while maintaining alertness to his surroundings, so he doesn’t mind it. He dozes off, lending his comforting weight to tether John Watson to the earth.


Despite his semi-alertness, the horrible jangling still causes Sherlock to yelp in surprise.

John yelps too, and Sherlock realizes he’s dug his claws into the tender flesh just above John’s nipples. He sits up abruptly and Sherlock goes flying, landing on the floor by the foot of the bed. John’s eyes are wild and confused for a moment, before his groggy brain catches up and he remembers the events of the previous night. He reaches over into the pocket of the trousers he had discarded, and turns off the alarm on his mobile. Sherlock can catch a glimpse of the screen, and sees that it is 6 in the morning. Of course John keeps his alarm set for the same early wake-up every day: he’s a civilian in name only. Sherlock wonders if John was even supposed to hear it, this morning. Perhaps it was supposed to keep ringing until a neighbor started banging on the door, and then called the Met, and then found the body, and the will.

Sherlock approaches the head of the bed where John is now sitting, getting his bearings. He mewls pitifully and stares up balefully with huge green eyes, and it works. John says “Sorry,” ruefully, and reaches down to run a hand over Sherlock’s head as he swings his legs over the side of the bed.

Sherlock jumps up on the bed and grooms himself, trying to appear unconcerned, while John showers and dresses. His phone is still sitting on the bed, screen-down. John Watson has an alcoholic brother who’s leaving his wife, apparently. Sherlock can watch him in the small kitchen through the door-less doorway. He puts a pot of coffee on and then opens the cupboard, pursing his lips. Sherlock’s irritatingly poor feline distance vision can’t make out what he sees in there, but John makes a pleased humming sound, and then calls out, “Lucky for you, you came home with someone just broke enough to be buying canned tuna and just proud enough to try to avoid eating it. Hungry, Kit?”

Sherlock hears the snick of a can opener. He is hungry, and it smells delicious, even though he knows he’d be repulsed by the pungent fish in his human body. He trots into the kitchen, where John is emptying the contents of the can onto a plate on the floor. “There you go,” he mutters. “That was a decent night’s sleep, actually, so it’s least I can do to say thanks.”

Sherlock feels a small glow of pride as he tucks into the tuna. He’d helped John sleep well. That had to count for something, right?

By the time Sherlock is finished his meal, John is sitting at his desk with his laptop open and his mobile beside him. He’s hung the jacket on the back of his chair, the heavy weight of the gun visible in the pocket. Sherlock circles around the back of the chair to see that John is… writing. Well, trying to write. Apparently John has a blog. Against his will, it seems.

He sighs deeply, leans back in the chair, and picks up his mobile instead. He taps at it indecisively. “Guess I could… meet Harry for coffee,” he says. “Since I have one more… well. She’ll be furious either way. But.” His tongue flicks out to wet his lips, nervously.

Harry is his SISTER and I need to find a way to stop this war desperately for supremacy in Sherlock’s mind. He leaps up onto the desk again, and John gives him a tired little smile. The laptop keyboard is warm, and when Sherlock settles on it John mutters “You’re right, my blog is shit, I don’t know why I even bother.” His right hand comes up to ruffle Sherlock’s fur, while his left taps out a message on his mobile.

There’s a rental agreement for the flat now visible underneath the will. It’s not cheap– nowhere in London is– and Sherlock realizes with a sinking feeling that John doesn’t have the money to pay the next months’ rent. He spent it on a solicitor for his will and a handgun of the same make and model that he’d been issued in the Army.

After a few moments, John’s mobile dings. He picks it up and grimaces. “I don’t know whether I was hoping that she wouldn’t answer, or that he would,” he says. He taps a message back, and for a few moments there is an exchange that Sherlock can’t see, except that John looks steadily more grim.

“She’s drunk first thing in the morning, of course,” he says. “Wants to meet me before she has to pick herself up and drag herself into work this afternoon. Alright, Kit, you’re not going to enjoy it cooped up inside all by yourself, and– well. It was, er, nice to meet you, but you gotta leave now, okay?”

John slides the gun out of the pocket of his jacket and puts it in the desk drawer before he pulls the jacket on. He’s leaving now, apparently. To say goodbye to his sister, though clearly not in those exact words. Sherlock’s mind races. Think, idiot. What’s the use of being a genius if you can’t even stop this one terrible thing from happening?

John slips his mobile and keys in his pocket, and starts lacing his shoes. Sherlock scuttles to the other side of the room, so that when John straightens up, he sees the small white cat practically cowering beneath the radiator.

“Come on,” John sighs, “Don’t be difficult, you ridiculous little creature.” He starts making his was across the room towards Sherlock.

Sherlock hisses. He can’t help it; John is no-nonsense now, reaching towards Sherlock with his warm, strong hands. Don’t do this, Sherlock wants to say. Please, I need to know what colour your eyes are.

John grabs him.

“No!” shouts Sherlock.

In an instant– the very instant that Sherlock is so determined to speak the word out loud that he feels like it could wrench his body apart– that is pretty much what happens. The switch in his mind palace flips: one moment John is trying to keep hold of a wriggling cat, and the next he is staring in shock at a naked snarling, very human man on his floor.

John doesn’t stay frozen for long. Sherlock has no time to get his bearings or orient his limbs before he is staring down the barrel of a SIG Sauer P226.

The gun is very steady. So is John’s voice when he says, “What. The. Fuck.”

Sherlock raises his hands, because that is what you do when someone is pointing a very steady gun at you and you want to live. His hair is a tangled mess– always is when he turns back, for some reason– and he tosses it back out of his face so he can meet John’s eyes.

John’s eyes are the iridescent blue that the Thames can only get very occasionally, when the sun is setting on a perfectly cloudless day, and when Sherlock has recently solved a clever crime so he is able to notice such things.

That’s one question answered, then. “Afghanistan or Iraq?” he hears himself saying.

John’s eyes widen, and his hand tenses. Not intending to pull the trigger, but ready to. That was, in retrospect, probably the wrong thing for Sherlock to start off with.

“Oh hell no,” says John. “I am not the one answering the questions, here.”

That’s certainly fair. “I’ve always been able to do it,” says Sherlock quickly. “Don’t know why. I’m an independent consulting detective, the only one in the world. I was staking out Hector Fryer last night, and you–” he pauses. What had John done? Caught my eye sounds too trite, though nevertheless accurate. The unfinished statement hangs in the air.

John stares at him for a long moment. Sherlock lets him look; after all, he had plenty of time to observe John.

Finally, slowly, John lowers the gun. “So… I’m going to be arrested by a cat detective,” he states flatly.

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “I was staking out Fryer, not you. And I can’t arrest anyone, I’m not the police.”

“And… are you going to call the police?”

“About your gun? No. Unless you try to use it for the purpose you’re planning to, in which case yes, if that will help, which I doubt.”

John collapses down onto the bed, head in his hands. “Jesus Christ.”

Sherlock gets the strong urge to jump up on his lap, which would almost certainly be the wrong move in his current state. Instead he says, with more confidence that he feels, “But you’re not going to.”


“You’re not going to,” repeats Sherlock, desperately hoping he is correct in this deduction. “Because you’re not actually suicidal.”

John just laughs brokenly. It’s an awful sound.

“You’re not,” he insists. “You’re a soldier, but you’re out of action, sitting on the sidelines and watching the world pass you by. You live in this shitty flat, doing nothing, knowing nobody but your therapist and thinking about nothing by your memories. You’re bored.

John looks up at that, eyebrows raised. “Seriously? That’s your diagnosis, Cat Detective? Have you ever been bored enough to make a gun in your mouth sound attractive?”

“Yes,” says Sherlock simply.

Sherlock can feel his heart beating in his throat. He can no longer see John’s very blue eyes. He wants to feel John’s hands stroking down him again, but that seems selfish. Perhaps it would be better if John were the cat. Perhaps John might let Sherlock touch him, anyway–

--and then John laughs again, and it’s not the sad, broken sound that it was before. It’s real, and it comes out of him in peals of mirth, and he throws his head back so that Sherlock can see his eyes squeezed shut and his neck exposed and his muscular chest heaving.

Sherlock can’t help but grin a little, too, finally pulling himself up off the floor and into a seated position. He feels at ease, despite being naked on the grimy floor of an illegal handgun owner.

Finally, John seems to get control of himself. He wipes tears out of his eyes. “Well, I’m not bored now, that’s for sure. I invited a fucking shapeshifting cat into my flat, and now he’s trying to prevent me from committing suicide. If that isn’t some sort of sign, I don’t know what is. Jesus.”

Sherlock cocks his head. He hadn’t meant to reveal himself like this, but the gentle, sad, bored army doctor is smiling now, and looking at Sherlock like he’s something miraculous. Which, considering what he’s just witnessed, makes perfect sense.

“You can’t live here,” says Sherlock. “It’s awful, and you spent all your money on your exit strategy. Come live with me.”

John blinks.

“I have a spare room,” Sherlock adds quickly. He’d rather prefer that John not use it, because his hands are warm and his smile is beautiful, but he can if he must.

“I, um. Like you said. Haven’t got any money.”

“You’ll pay me with that.” Sherlock points to the gun, which is now lying innocuously on the bedspread beside John’s hip.

“You…” John licks his lips. “Want my gun?”

“No,” says Sherlock. “I’ll keep it for you for now, but I want you to have your gun. I want you to put it in your coat pocket as we head out the door for a dangerous case, and I want it in your hand when we confront criminals together, and I want it locked safely away in our flat at night.”

For a moment, John simply looks stunned. Then he says, “You seriously want a limping, suicidal, unemployed ex-soldier for a sidekick?”

Sherlock wants to point out that three out of those four things will no longer be true if John takes him up on his offer, but instead he just shrugs and says, “Cats are strange creatures. We want what we want.”

John looks down. He purses his lips thoughtfully. He clenches and unclenches his hand.

“Yeah,” he says. “Okay. Yes. This is mad, but my answer is yes.”

Sherlock stands up, and John isn’t exactly staring, but he also isn’t looking away. “You can come see the flat now,” he says.

“Where is this flat?” says John. “And– Christ, I don’t even know your name. Unless you want to be Kit forever.”

Sherlock has to fight down a goofy smile, because John had said forever, and he actually might not mind being called Kit forever if that’s what was promised. “The name is Sherlock Holmes,” he says, “And the address is 221b Baker Street. And you’re going to have to find us a cab that will let you in with a cat, because I haven’t any clothes.”


It’s a few weeks later– after John is settled in the upstairs bedroom, after the strange looks from the Yarders and Lestrade not-so-stealthily running a background check on the man that Donovan won’t stop referring to as “the Freak’s new pet” completely unaware of why this elicits a giggle from John every time he hears it, and after Sherlock has purchased a secure lock box for the gun, which John agrees he doesn’t want to know the combination to– that they run a stakeout together for the first time.

Sherlock is unaccountably nervous as he showers and runs through the plan for the evening in his head. He’ll be stationed on the dock, watching the shipping containers be loaded off the barge. John will be waiting, ready to make use of his opposable thumbs and ability to form English words to make contact with the police the moment Sherlock identifies the shipping container that contains the three young men trying to flee the country and the outstanding warrants for their arrests on suspicion of forgery and arson. They can watch the Met move in, ensure that they got the right men, and then John can beg a pet-friendly cab to get them home.

He can’t put out of his mind that this is the first time John will see him like that since they met. When he stands naked in his room– alone, he isn’t ready for John to see this part yet– and flips the switch, he settles into his feline body like a cozy and well-loved, if seldom-used, cottage. He can remember so clearly, in this form, what it felt like to doze off on John’s bare chest, with John’s hand stroking down from his ears to the base of his tail. Now that John knows, though, surely he won’t want to treat Sherlock as if… well, as if he were a real cat. Which he is, Sherlock thinks grumpily. As real as any other cat.

He slinks out of the bedroom, his clean white fur sleek and his ears pricked up alertly. John is dressed for the stakeout: Sherlock had slipped the gun into his pocket before he showered.

His face does something extraordinary when he sees Sherlock, some combination of disbelief, rue at his own denseness for the disbelief, and fondness. “Christ,” he says, “I was beginning to this I… dreamed that, or something. You really are. Um. A cat. And since you won’t be able to tell me off for it for a few hours at least, I’ll say it now– Sherlock, you are adorable.

Sherlock bares his teeth and hisses a little, but it’s all for show, and John knows it. He grins and pulls open the door, allowing Sherlock to trot down the stairs to the waiting cab.

The stakeout goes perfectly. The shipping container that locks from the inside is laughably obvious, and Sherlock manages to identify it to John, and thus the Yard, via the large-format wireless keyboard John’s got hooked up to his mobile. John teases that Sherlock will never be able to make fun of John’s peckish typing skills again after John has seen him work a keyboard with his paw, which Sherlock feels is grossly unfair and says so, at high volume if not in actual human language.

By the time the cab pulls back to Baker Street, Sherlock is fully inhabiting the pleasant buzz of a recently-solved case. It’s made all the better by the fact that John is required to hold him for the taxi driver to allow them in, and his hand is scratching affectionately on the top of his head. Sherlock feels relaxed, and confident, and on top of the world. So when they get out of the cab and John unlocks the front door and then holds it open for Sherlock, Sherlock just stares up at him, the pleading power of his huge feline eyes turned up to eleven.

“What, you want me to carry you?” John chuckles. “Spoiled thing. But I suppose you deserve it.” He scoops Sherlock up, holding one arm around his bottom so that Sherlock’s paws rest on his shoulder. His face is right beside John’s this way, so he can practically feel the puffs of air as John ascends the stairs while saying, “You’re brilliant. You’re a bloody miracle.”

Sherlock leans his head over and licks John’s cheek, because he’s a cat, and cats are allowed to do that sort of thing, aren’t they, even if they’re not cats all the time. They reach the flat and John sighs contentedly, shutting the door behind him and flicking the light on.

His calm, kind face is still very close to Sherlock’s small, furry one. He hadn’t reacted at all to Sherlock’s licking him on the cheek, so Sherlock leans forward and gently passes his scratchy tongue over the corner of John’s mouth.

John doesn’t pull away. He leans in and presses his lips to the space in between Sherlock’s eyes. The feeling shouldn’t mean much, just a sight pressure on his forehead, but somehow it is completely arresting. John kissed him. He put his lips on Sherlock’s body, and just a moment earlier, he had let Sherlock lick his mouth. Sherlock does it again, just to be sure, and yes: he can reach out with his tongue and pass it over John’s soft, small lips. John twitches at first, fighting the impulse to pull away from the rough texture of it, but then he leans into it instead, allowing Sherlock to taste the outside of his mouth.

Sherlock wants to taste the inside. Before he can think too much about it, he jumps down from John’s arms, so that he’ll be standing when he shifts back into his human body.

As soon as Sherlock is in fact standing, he becomes aware that they are standing very close to each other. He’s staring at John’s mouth, he knows. Despite the fact that it is a different tongue, his tongue has still just been there. He can taste echoes of John’s skin in his mouth.

And then he can taste John himself, because John is kissing him.

Sherlock reels for a moment. Yes, yes, I was right, I can kiss him, this is allowed, it’s allowed no matter what body I’m wearing—“

“Oh,” John moans, and Sherlock brings his hands up to cup the back of John’s head so he can’t get too far away while Sherlock pulls back slightly to gasp, “You taste sweet.”

John’s lips are on his again. The confused “What?” seems transmitted from John’s brain to Sherlock’s directly, as if their lips are a psychic connection.

“Sweet,” Sherlock manages to mutter between sucks and licks. “Cats are carnivores. We crave protein, and lack the necessary taste receptors to appreciate carbohydrates. So everything tastes sweet at first, when I come back. But right now, you.”

“Oh,” says John again, and he’s managed to herd Sherlock over to the couch without him even noticing, so that Sherlock has a moment of vertigo when John pushes him down backwards and before he is caught by the cushions. “That’s… hot. God, why is that hot?”

“Because I want to taste the rest of you,” Sherlock asserts as John lowers himself on top of the reclining detective. “So don’t you dare come anywhere but in my mouth.”

“Okay.” John is working open his own trousers and shirt buttons quickly, obviously acutely aware that he needs to match Sherlock’s nakedness as quickly as possible. “I. Um. Yes, I can do that.”

John lowers himself fully on top of Sherlock, and their erections brush together, making them both gasp. Sherlock is distracted, though, by the thought of human tongues; soft, velvety things, worse than useless for grooming but oh, they do have other uses. John’s tongue is flicking at his nipple, and the wet trail causes gooseflesh to break out on his chest. Sherlock can’t reach much with his own from this position, but he can reach up and pinch John’s nipples with his thin, strong fingers.

John gasps “Yes, oh god yes harder” and Sherlock obliges, twisting the raised flesh a little. John likes pain, apparently. Perhaps he’d like my claws, Sherlock thinks deliriously. But– no. Now now. This first.

John’s left hand is between their hips now, and his warm, callused palm has managed to wrap around the two of them at once. Sherlock marvels at the glorious heat of it. He could come like this, he realizes, and he wants to; wants to taste himself on John when he finally gets to draw the soldier’s cock into his mouth.

“Yes,” Sherlock growls, “Keep going. Don’t come.” John groans and squeezes his eyes shut in concentration, trying to keep control even as Sherlock completely loses his own underneath him, thrusting up hard and fast into the tunnel of John’s hand and his cock. When Sherlock shudders and comes, making a sound that does– to his own embarrassment, later– sound rather more like a cat in heat than a human, John sags with relief.

“Jesus,” he pants, his solid weight pinning Sherlock to the couch. “Sherlock. I couldn’t have held on for much– oh god.”

Sherlock is stronger than he looks, and he’s pleased with the result when he pushes up and manages to flip them over. John is rock-hard and a little bit of Sherlock’s semen is still dripping down his member. Sherlock gives him a few nips on the shoulder, eliciting some very enticing squirms, before making his way down John’s body towards his prize.

It does taste sweet, even the musk of stakeout-sweat and Sherlock’s own come interpreted by his newly human senses as heady and delicious. John doesn’t bother with being quiet, not after the sounds he’s just pulled from Sherlock; so Sherlock gets a little of his own back, grinning around John’s cock as he licks long stripes up and down. “Christ, you’re amazing at this,” John pants. His hands tangle in Sherlock’s hair, not tugging, just feeling.

“I’m very good with my tongue,” Sherlock acknowledges. “But then, you knew that.”

“Not like this, I didn’t,” John returns, and Sherlock wonders how his other tongue would feel, doing this. He would have to be very gentle, but he could do it. And it would take a long time, with such a small surface area to put to use. Perhaps John would have to be tied up, to be taken apart slowly by Sherlock’s teasing licks and the barest threat of his sharp teeth. He adds it to the recently created but quickly expanding “Things for John and I to do with our bodies” list.

Sherlock fastens his lips around John and starts to bob up and down, and it doesn’t take long after that. John emits a strangled shout and his hot, sugary-tasting come hits the back of Sherlock’s throat. I have John Watson inside me, Sherlock thinks dizzily as he swallows.

He crawls back up and flops down beside John’s languid body. John grins at him, shuffling back as far as he can into the cushions to make room for the both of them.

“Perhaps we’d fit better if I were smaller,” Sherlock observes.

John curls a hand possessively around Sherlock’s shoulders. “No, stay,” he commands. The hand starts to stroke down Sherlock’s back, pulling shivers from him. It’s completely different from the feeling of being petted with fur, and the contrast makes him feel laid out, wide open but protected by John’s enveloping warmth. “I haven’t gotten to do this to you, in this body,” John finishes. Sherlock nods, curled into the soldier’s shoulder, and feels nothing but gratitude for both of his bodies, and what they have brought him.


“Evening, Sherlock,” comes the call from outside the door, accompanied by a swift rap. Lestrade himself follows through the unlocked door a moment later. “Oh,” he says, pulling up short in the sitting room, “Hello, John. Is Sherlock in, then?”

John is sitting in his armchair, reading the sort of trashy crime novel Lestrade wouldn’t have though he has any need for, petting a small white cat settled on his lap. He looks up from the book.

“‘Fraid not,” says John. “I can take a message, though. I’ve become rather good at remembering the details of unsolved crimes."

“Alright,” says Lestrade, sinking down onto the couch. He gestures at the animal in John’s lap. “You two got lonely, eh? I used to have a cat, with the wife, before. Miss the critter more than I miss her, these days.”

John glances down, reaching his hand out again to stroke the cat’s head. The movement exposes a bit of his forearm, and Lestrade winces at the sight of the healing scratches there. “Ooh. Vicious little thing, is it?”

“Can be,” John says. “I’m just, um, taking care of him for a while. While Mycroft is away on business.” He smirks at the cat, which narrows its eyes menacingly.

“Ah,” the inspector nods. “Well, hope he settles down a bit for you, mate, those look nasty.”

“Oh, I doubt he will,” John says, “But I don’t mind. I love him anyway. Now, what about that case?”