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fic: Mutual Society

Title: Mutual Society
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Pairing: Sherlock/John, John/Lestrade
Rating: R
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 3725
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Summary: This is a dream, right? John's going to wake up, and it will all not have happened, and everything will be the way it was before Harry's wedding. Any minute now...
A/N: Penultimate fic in the Trouble With Harry series; this one is for basaltgrrl, who asked for "John/Lestrade/Sherlock, any degree of smut or awkwardness"; I hope this fulfils the request, though it's not a threesome fic...
Thanks to kate_lear for beta wisdom, and to her and ginbitch, kalypso_v, 2ndskin and thimpressionist for useful conversations about the plot of this series and for cheering me on.

John looks at the postcard on his desk and sighs. Sarah says Crete is lovely and the weather is gorgeous and the food is good (doesn't mention the wine, obviously...). He has no idea why she's writing to him at all. Yes, it's supposed to be from both of them, but he knows Harry doesn't write postcards. She hasn't even signed this one.

He wonders how long it'll take before the cracks start to show. He imagines Harry saying You just can't be pleased for me, can you? You can't bear it that I'm happy and you're not.

Well, the second part is true enough: he's not happy. He hasn't been happy since the wedding. He ought to be, he knows that. He's got a job which is perfectly fine and a roof over his head, really cheap for where it is even if the place is a mess and sometimes a health hazard. And he's got – whatever it is that he and Sherlock are. Partners, he would have said, and maybe that's still the right word, though he sometimes wonders if friends with benefits is more like how it looks from Sherlock's point of view.

He hasn't asked him. He'd feel stupid, saying to Sherlock What am I to you? It is what it is, and why should he expect there to be more than that in his life?

You want jam on it, boy, his father used to say if John ever made the mistake of yearning for something he couldn't have. The way he is now.

It's not fair to be angry with Sherlock. It's not his fault he's the way that he is. John knew perfectly well what Sherlock was like – saw that right from the start when Sherlock couldn't understand why Jennifer Wilson would still be upset about her stillborn daughter all those years later. There's a bit of him that just doesn't make the connection. Which makes Sherlock a difficult person to love, and a bloody frustrating one to share your life with.

All that agony he'd gone through, nerving himself to tell Sherlock he'd slept with Lestrade, and then the humiliation of Sherlock saying OK, it's fine. Which felt like So what? or I think you're confusing me with someone who gives a shit. He tells himself it doesn't mean Sherlock doesn't care, but he's honestly not sure if Sherlock's even capable of caring, or what it would look like if he was.

Work's busy at the moment, and he's been throwing himself into it, volunteering to cover more of Sarah's hours when Mark the locum got flu.

Mark's back now, which is probably just as well; there's only so long you can go on working flat out. Nice bloke. Asked John to come for a pint this evening, to say thank you. Another time he might have said yes, but he's not feeling very sociable right now. He'd made an excuse about stuff to do at home and then sat staring at the computer screen, trying to get it together to switch off and leave for the day.

He doesn't think he's coming down with the flu himself, but he feels a bit low. Not exactly under the weather. More like a cup of weak tea or a bottle of fizzy lemonade that's gone flat. No oomph to him.

Depressed, Sarah's voice says in his head, and why he's started hearing her god only knows. That's what you'd say if a patient came in with your symptoms, isn't it?

But he's done being depressed, having his head shrunk, all that. He just needs to pull himself together, go for a run or a swim or something. Not that he feels like it.

He switches the machine off, says goodnight and have a good weekend to Mark and Cassie the receptionist, and heads back to 221b.

Stuff to do at home, he'd said to Mark. It sounded wrong when he said it – he doesn't usually call it that, even though that's what it is. Baker Street. 221b. The flat.

The thing that hurts the most from all the memories of Harry's wedding, hurts so much he hasn't let himself think about it till now: that being with Lestrade felt like home. Thinking about Lestrade that way seems like even more of a betrayal than just having sex with him. But that is how it felt, and tonight he can't shake the memory of it. Being held. Being loved. Being safe.

Safety isn't something he's gone looking for much in his life. And I said dangerous and here you are, Sherlock's words to him that first evening in 221b, after he'd got John to text a serial killer. After the warehouse, and Mycroft saying to him You're not haunted by the war, you miss it. Welcome back.

He'd been high on the thrill of it, the adrenalin rush, the crazy feeling of rightness that came from being completely in the moment, chasing across London, leaping between rooftops, signs flashing red green red green red... Forgetting his stick, forgetting his limp, forgetting everything but Sherlock saying Come on! Giddy with exhilaration, giggling like an idiot, leaning against the wall in the hallway of 221b, so happy –

Can't live at that pitch all the time, though. Nobody can. And there's a part of him that longs for rest, and warmth, longs for comfort. Not just physical, but emotional. Longs for the things Sherlock doesn't give him. Things he doesn't think Sherlock ever can, or will.

Of course it's easy to kid yourself it'd be plain sailing with someone else. Lestrade has his complications too, must have. And John can't imagine a life without Sherlock in it, a life without 221b, for all that living with Sherlock is enough to drive anyone crazy. But he can't shake the feeling of longing, the vivid sense of some parallel universe in which he's with Lestrade and life is simple, or as simple as it can be for two blokes who have the kind of jobs they have. A universe in which they're doing ordinary things, the things couples do. Being a couple, in a way it doesn't feel as if he and Sherlock are.

You'd still want Sherlock, though, wouldn't you? It's his own voice jeering at him. Whatever you've got, you always want something else. Dad was right.

Fuck off, he tells the voice. That's not fair.

He opens the door, drags himself up the seventeen steps, and slumps into his favourite chair. Should have made tea first but he'll get up in a minute. Just sit here for a bit first.

Sherlock isn't around, which is odd. Maybe he's been called out on a case at last, maybe Lestrade's rung him. They haven't had a case from the police since before Harry's wedding, and Sherlock's been getting increasingly tetchy about the low-level private cases that are the only thing between him and boredom at the moment. But maybe –

No, that's Sherlock moving around upstairs, isn't it? Footsteps coming down – yes, here he is. Looking distinctly shifty, and sporting a quite spectacular bruise on his jaw.

“Wow,” John says. “Where did you get that?”

Sherlock mutters something inaudible and disappears into the bathroom. Also odd: usually he works his minor injuries for all the fuss and sympathy he can get, to the point where John's been tempted to tease him about having a medical fetish.

“You OK?” John calls.

“Yes, of course,” Sherlock says snappishly, emerging from the bathroom.

That really is one hell of a bruise.

“I've told you before about fighting in the playground,” John says. “Seriously, where did you get that?”

Sherlock scowls and mutters something about Lestrade.

What?” Anger flares in him briefly, and then his stomach lurches – is this about him?

Sherlock starts talking a mile a minute and John can barely keep up – how John's always telling him to think about other people more and then when Sherlock tries to do something altruistic all that happens is that Lestrade punches him because Lestrade is a stupid pigheaded narrow-minded arse

Oh fuck. This is about that, isn't it?

“Christ, Sherlock, what did you say to him?”

“I said the two of you should carry on having sex with each other. So he hit me,” Sherlock says, with an air of martyrdom.

“You said what?”

“It's the obvious solution!” Sherlock says indignantly. “It's what you both want, and it's fine with me. So what's the problem?”

“For fuck's sake, Sherlock!” The room feels too small, and he can't breathe.

“But you do,” Sherlock says. “Don't you?”

“Jesus, Sherlock! I can't – I can't even have this conversation!”

He hasn't felt this trapped since he woke up in hospital and they told him it was all over with the Army. He clenches his fists till the nails bite into the palms, he's not going to hit Sherlock, he isn't –

Sherlock's phone rings, and John leaps to his feet, heart pounding. Christ, he's falling apart here, and the thought of that makes him so furious he can hardly see straight.

“Hallo?” Sherlock says. He sounds weirdly nervous, for him, and John doesn't have to see the screen to know who's calling. “Yes. Where are you? Coming here?”

He's not sure what Lestrade's saying, but the way Sherlock's looking at him, like he's a crime scene Sherlock can't read –

“See you in a minute, then,” Sherlock says. He disconnects the call and goes on staring at John.

“Where is he?” John asks. His throat feels dry.

“Clarence Gate,” Sherlock says. “Knew he'd see sense eventually.”

It's the sort of thing he says all the time, but it sounds different somehow. Sherlock starts pacing up and down. If he had a loaded gun he'd be scratching his head with it, like as not.

He said it was all fine –

This is a dream, right? John's going to wake up, and it will all not have happened, and everything will be the way it was before Harry's wedding. Any minute now...

The bell rings, and the street door opens. He can hear Mrs Hudson greeting Lestrade, saying it's been a while. Footsteps coming up the stairs. He's here.

It's the worst possible moment to remember the way they parted, that night in the Volunteer. Staggering into the street, lurching against Lestrade and clinging to him. Kissing him. He'd blotted that out of his mind, but the sight of Lestrade brings it back, the memory hitting him sudden and hard.

Lestrade looks like he just ran into a wall. Probably remembering the same thing.

“He's told you, then,” he says to John.

“Yeah,” John says. “Just now.”

Sherlock erupts in indignation about how John's always saying not to ring him at the surgery, how he'd spoken to John as soon as he came in, how it would have been inefficient not to talk to Lestrade about it when he was seeing him anyway –

“Sherlock,” Lestrade says. “Shut up.”

Much to John's surprise, Sherlock does as he's told.

“I must be certifiable, even thinking about this,” Lestrade says. “Because it's insane. There's no way this is going to work. But if it's what you want–”

He's looking right at John, as if he's trying to read his mind.

John doesn't know what he looks like, but if he looks like he feels it's probably a mixture of panic and anger. He can't do this. It's not fair to ask him to do this. Make him the one who has to choose. The one whose fault it's going to be when people get hurt, when it all goes wrong –

“If it's what you want,” Lestrade says slowly, “then we're going to try to make it work.”

“Of course it can work!” Sherlock says. “Wait here.” He swoops out of the room.

“Tell me he hasn't done a spreadsheet,” Lestrade says with a groan.

John's not sure if that's a joke. It seems quite likely to be true.

“Don't know,” he says flatly.

“Yeah,” Lestrade says. “This is awkward. D'you want me to go?”

“No,” John says.

“You sure?” Lestrade asks

He wasn't sure, but now he is: even though he's hating this, even though talking about his feelings to one of them would be bad enough and this is worse, he doesn't want Lestrade to go.

“Stay,” he says.

“OK,” Lestrade says. He looks as if he'd like to hug John; as if he would be hugging John, if it weren't for Sherlock clattering downstairs again.

“Thanks,” John says. He feels cold all over, as if he might be about to faint. Jesus, they're actually doing this.

“Sit down,” Lestrade tells him, as Sherlock bounds back into the room flourishing his laptop.

John's legs fold up under him and he sits down hard on the sofa.

“Put that down and put the kettle on,” Lestrade says. “John needs tea.”

“I can make it,” John protests, though he's not sure if he can get up at the moment.

Sherlock is muttering about Lestrade's bossiness, but he puts the laptop down and makes tea under Lestrade's critical supervision.

John wants to say Stop fussing, I'm fine, but he doesn't have the energy. And anyway he's not fine, no point pretending he is. The hot sweet tea floods his senses till his eyes are pricking, as if all the strain of the last weeks is trying to get out. He can feel Sherlock and Lestrade looking at him; they're sitting either side of him on the sofa, and if it was just him and Lestrade, or even him and Sherlock, he'd probably be getting a hug about now. But because it's both, neither of them's making a move. It's funny and sad and he's not sure whether he's laughing or crying or just choking on his tea.

For the record, two lots of being thumped helpfully on the back are not actually better than one.

“OK?” Lestrade says. He's stopped the thumping.

“Yeah, fine,” John says. “Sherlock, you can stop now.”

Sherlock stops thumping and reaches for his laptop. He looks distinctly put out: this obviously isn't how he expected the meeting to go. God knows what he was expecting.

“I've done some research on this,” he announces, opening the laptop.

Lestrade groans. Sherlock glares at him.

“Apparently this sort of arrangement is not uncommon in homosexual relationships,” Sherlock continues. “Some types of polyamorous relationship include troilism, but I don't think we need to do that.”

“Troilism?” Lestrade says warily.

John knows this one. “Threesome.”

“Thank Christ for that,” Lestrade says. “More trouble than they're worth, if you ask me.”

Sherlock glares at him again. “It would only be worth considering if there was an existing sexual attraction between us.”

“'S all right, Sherlock, I don't fancy you either,” Lestrade says with a grin.

Sherlock ignores him and carries on. “Obviously there are decisions to be made about how John divides his time between us–”

“Look, before you start going on about timetables again,” Lestrade says, which for some reason makes Sherlock wince, “we need to be clear that this does not get talked about at crime scenes. It's nobody's business but John's and yours and mine, and it's going to stay that way. Understood?”

“I don't know why you assume I'd talk about it,” Sherlock says indignantly.

“Two words: Donovan and Anderson,” Lestrade says.

“That's three words,” Sherlock snipes. “Anyway, they deserved everything they got.”

“Not going to have that conversation, Sherlock,” Lestrade says. “Are we clear?”

Sherlock sighs noisily. “Yes, Lestrade, we are, as you say, clear. Do you have any other pressing requests or shall I go on?”

Lestrade looks as if for two pins he'd punch Sherlock again, but he says “Go on.”

“I don't want John moving in with you,” Sherlock says. “I need him here. He helps me with my work. But if he wants to spend some nights each week at your flat, that's fine with me.”

“Big of you,” Lestrade says sarcastically. “Where else was this supposed to happen?”

The surge of anger takes John completely by surprise. “Here,” he says. “If I want it to. This is my home too, you know.”

There's a stunned silence. John breathes hard. His heart's racing and the hairs on the back of his neck are standing on end. He can't explain exactly what it is he wants. But he doesn't want them or anyone else telling him what he can or can't do in his own bed. Or with his own body. This is mine.

“Yeah,” Lestrade says, after a long pause. “It is.” He looks uncertainly at Sherlock.

“It's fine,” Sherlock says impatiently. “I said it was fine.”

“OK,” Lestrade says. “So we're doing this, then.” He sounds as if he still can't believe it.

“Looks like it,” John says. The absurdity of the three of them lined up on the sofa and talking about polyamory in Baker Street is suddenly too much, and he can't suppress a giggle.

“Huh,” Lestrade says. “Seems to have cheered you up, anyway.” He sounds a bit more cheerful himself.

This really isn't the moment to say Must be the prospect of shagging you, so John doesn't.

“Notwithstanding John's earlier remarks, I would prefer to have the flat to myself this evening,” Sherlock says. “For an experiment.”

John and Lestrade both eye him suspiciously.

“What?” Sherlock says. “I have an experiment to conduct. I don't imagine you actually want to help...”

“You are not to blow this place up,” John says, because it would be just like him to do it.

“I have never blown this place up,” Sherlock says, offended, “and I don't see why you should expect me to do it now, just because the two of you are–”

“OK, OK,” Lestrade says hastily. “One more thing, though–”

“Go on then,” Sherlock says, evidently biting back something more along the lines of Oh what NOW?

“If this doesn't – if any of us is not happy with how this is working, we say so,” Lestrade says. “It's not a lock-in, OK?”

John draws a deep breath and hears the click of releasing tension between his shoulder-blades.

“OK,” he says.

“It's an experiment,” Lestrade says. “Might work, might not. We're going to give it a try, and that's all we can do.”

Sherlock doesn't say anything. He looks pleased with himself, though. Probably thinking I told you so.

“So,” Lestrade says to John, “would you like to come round to my place?”

“OK,” John says quickly. Can't let himself think about it in case he loses his nerve. “Thanks. Yeah. Give me a minute.”

The canvas bag's in his wardrobe: he chucks in a clean shirt and underwear, toothbrush, grabs some condoms and lube though Lestrade's probably got plenty, best to be prepared though...

Sherlock's already assembling stuff for his experiment, which looks real enough.

Lestrade's standing by the door. “Ready?” he says.

Ready as I'll ever be. “Yeah,” John says. “Bye, Sherlock. See you tomorrow.”

“Bye,” Sherlock says, not looking up from his preparations.

The reality of it hits John as he shuts the door behind him, a mixture of nervous anticipation and lust that makes him feel slightly dizzy.

“OK if we get a taxi?” he asks. He's not sure he can cope with a long Tube ride in this state.

“Sure,” Lestrade says. “It's OK if you just want to sleep tonight, by the way. You must be knackered.”

“Thanks,” John says. “Um. I'm not that tired, actually. Are you?”

“No,” Lestrade says. “OK, taxi it is.”

He's obviously got some of Sherlock's taxi karma, because one turns up almost straight away.

John glances up at the window, though he didn't mean to look back. Sherlock isn't there.

“He's not going to let you catch him looking, is he?” Lestrade says, opening the cab door. “Come on.”

John leans against his shoulder in the taxi, and Lestrade puts an arm around him. It feels good, being close like this. Lestrade's hand rests on his collarbone, fingers moving gently as if he's not even conscious of it. It's comforting, but it's also making John very aware of his skin.

“I should warn you, I'm – not always a very good sleeper,” John says. It's possible Lestrade already knows that, but if he does he's not saying.

“Me neither,” Lestrade says, stroking his thumb against the side of John's neck. “Takes a while to get used to it with a new person, doesn't it?”

“Mm,” John says, leaning into the caress. He feels a little shiver of pleasure all over.

“I need a shave,” Lestrade says, kissing him behind the ear, his stubble scraping against the delicate skin.

“I – ahh – I'm not some fragile flower, you know,” John says, with difficulty.

“I know,” Lestrade says. His breath is warm against John's ear. “Might still be a bit scratchy for what I had in mind.”

Oh. It's like the whoomf of a gas fire being lit, arousal flaring in him at the images in his head. He hopes the cabbie's watching the road and not them, because he can't wait any longer to kiss Lestrade.

It's tentative at first – he's distractingly aware that it's the first time they've kissed when they've both been sober. But Lestrade kisses him back, and it becomes a promise, tender and slow, lips and tongues caressing and teasing. John's head is swimming and his clothes feel too tight, too hot, too much altogether. He wants this journey to be over right now so he can get his hands inside Lestrade's clothes, and he wants it to keep going so he doesn't have to stop kissing Lestrade.

Lestrade pulls away, breathing hard. “Think I'd better stop,” he says. “While I still can.”

John leans back against the upholstery and exhales deeply. His lips are tingling, and he thinks about how they'll feel tomorrow, swollen and sensitive from kissing. He wants that. Wants to feel the ache of sex in his muscles, too, that gorgeous all-over tiredness that comes from a really good fuck.

“Saturday tomorrow,” he says, and licks his lips. “Feels like ages since I had a lie-in.”

“Mm,” Lestrade says, rubbing his thumb against the side of John's neck again. “A nice lie-in and then a proper breakfast, what do you say?”

John heaves a sigh of contentment. “That sounds lovely,” he says.


Like Any Just Cause, Put Asunder, No Understanding, Forsaking All Other, Duly Considering The Causes and Let Him Now Speak, this fic takes its title from the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/92506.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Aw, I'm so pleased they're finally sorting things out, despite Sherlock's best attempts.
Oct. 16th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
thank you! well, it is a work in progress (for them), but at least there is an agreement by all parties to give it a try.

the next (and I think final) fic in this series will be from Sarah's pov, but we will find out something about how this new arrangement is going for the three of them...
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 17th, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
thank you - I'm so glad you like it! it took me ages to get round to writing this part, because I felt as if I'd painted myself into a corner with it, so it's a relief to have it done at last. as I said to thesmallhobbit, the next part will be from Sarah's pov (because we haven't heard from her since Water), but we will find out something about how things are going with the new arrangement.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 17th, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
*rolls around in your lovely comment in manner of cat in catnip*

thank you very much! I'm glad you like the "whoomf" line (I'm fond of that bit too...).

good question about Sherlock - I think there are indications in Duly Considering The Causes that he's more emotionally involved than he admits, and he may well find the new configuration difficult at times even though he really didn't want that kind of dyad with John.
Oct. 17th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
More! More! Please write more! I'm lovin' this plotline! :-D It's great to see John going from depressed and resigned to happy and horny! I liked watching him trying to figure out what was going on based on Sherlock's behaviour when he first sees him in the flat. Oh, and John's reaction to the black eye and Sherlock's confession is gold. Hell, all of the dialogue is gold. This is one of my favourite parts because it's so deliciously funny and clever:

What?” Anger flares in him briefly, and then his stomach lurches – is this about him?

Sherlock starts talking a mile a minute and John can barely keep up – how John's always telling him to think about other people more and then when Sherlock tries to do something altruistic all that happens is that Lestrade punches him because Lestrade is a stupid pigheaded narrow-minded arse

Oh fuck. This is about that, isn't it?

“Christ, Sherlock, what did you say to him?”

“I said the two of you should carry on having sex with each other. So he hit me,” Sherlock says, with an air of martyrdom.

“You said what?”

“It's the obvious solution!” Sherlock says indignantly. “It's what you both want, and it's fine with me. So what's the problem?”

“For fuck's sake, Sherlock!” The room feels too small, and he can't breathe.

“But you do,” Sherlock says. “Don't you?”

“Jesus, Sherlock! I can't – I can't even have this conversation!”
Oct. 17th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm very pleased you want more of this! there will be another part where we find out how it's going (or at least something about that) but also about what's been happening to Sarah, whose story started the whole thing but whose point of view has been absent since the end of Water...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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