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the island of conclusions

The Khyber Knife (Sherlock/John, nc-17)

the island of conclusions

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The Khyber Knife (Sherlock/John, nc-17)

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bright star
Apologies for the Sherlock!fic brain-dump going on this week, folks. It’s almost over. I think.

Title: The Khyber Knife
Rating: nc-17
Pairing: John/Sherlock
Word count: ~2.1K
Warnings: for consensual knife play, marking, scars.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.

Summary: Did this mean he’d resolved his trust issues, John wondered vaguely, that he trusted Sherlock not to hurt him? He doubted it. The truth was probably far worse: that he wouldn’t care if Sherlock did.

a/n: as evidenced by numerous shots in TBB, John is left-handed.
a/n: for a prompt at the sherlockbbc_fic meme: I can't get the image of Sherlock caressing John's skin with a knife out of my head. Please will someone write a fic based on it?. Posted originally over there.
a/n: Um, more porn. IDEK. I have no real excuse for this one, except that I missed war-veteran!Watson quite a bit in TBB. And Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice. That’s responsible for a lot.

The Khyber Knife

He wasn’t a surgeon, but John had always liked knives.

Even before he went to Afghanistan, John had liked their keenness and versatility, the heft of them. Treasured the Swiss Army knife his dad had given him when he was a kid. Better than a gun, he thought, more primal, more real.

And Afghanistan had been a place of knives—carrying one a mark of manhood, for soldiers and civilians alike. On the mournful Shi’ite holiday of Ashura, the most fervent even whipped themselves with steel blades on chains—the bloodied backs of the faithful a sign of their devotion, their piety rendering them impervious to pain.

John had witnessed the ritual once, and the scored tracks of those wounds, the ecstasy in those eyes, had come back to him often as he’d lain in hospital, floating through his own endless cloud of morphine and pain and fever, while the doctors fought to get the infection in his wounded shoulder under control. What would it be like to give yourself over to something that fully, he wondered, to wear the marks of that belief on your body? He wasn’t sure that he believed in anything anymore, if he ever had.

He’d gone to Afghanistan with a standard issue army knife, and he’d come back with a slender, steel blade with a carved ivory handle—smaller than the traditional Khyber knife, but from the same mountainous region and no less finely made. He’d found himself looking at it a lot, in those gray, dull months after he returned to England, its ornate beauty shining like a torch amongst his drab, utilitarian belongings.

Sometimes, he’d pick it up, run the blade over the skin of his palm, his forearm, just to see whether the thin, keen edge of the blade would raise some sensation. He’d felt so numb.

Only once had he broken the skin, mesmerized by the hot prick of pain along his cold flesh. He’d dropped the knife, startled, when he saw blood welling up along the shallow cut, scared, for the first time, about what was happening to him.

He’d never told his therapist about that.


Of course, things had been better since he’d moved to Baker St. Hanging out with Sherlock gave him all the danger he needed and more. The numbness had backed off, maybe for good.

But John still had the knife, and today he sat in his room, passing it from hand to hand. Three hours of going head to head with the assholes who administered army pensions had left him filled with dull fury. Mandatory reevaluation, they’d said—meaning more tests, more therapy, more disapproving looks about the way he was living his life. Somehow the weight of the knife helped tamp down the impotent rage the situation sparked in him.

He was concentrating on trying to make the thing spin on its point, had been doing it so long that he was starting to leave scratches on the desk, when the door burst open.

“John--?” Sherlock hadn’t knocked—he never knocked. The knife clattered to the floor, took a weird sort of bounce, skittered a bit.

Like a magpie with a shiny object, Sherlock’s eyes followed it, whatever he’d initially come in about instantly forgotten. John started from his chair, but Sherlock was there before him, deftly plucking the knife from the floor.

“Afghani,” the detective said. It wasn’t a question. He smoothed a finger over the carved hilt, cocked his head, rattled off the weapon’s date and provenance as if such knowledge were commonplace.

“It’s a beautiful knife, John,” he said, coming over to lean against the desk next to John’s chair.

“Thanks,” John muttered, obscurely embarrassed to have been caught with such a luxurious object. He held out his left hand for it.

But Sherlock didn’t give it back. Instead, so swiftly John had no time to react, he grabbed John’s right wrist and pushed back the sleeve

“I’d been wondering what made this,” he said, placing the point of the knife, very gently, on one end of the faint silver scar halfway up John’s forearm.

“You have?” John said, frozen by the novelty of the gesture, the question. No one had ever mentioned the scar before, much less wondered where it came from. He felt the weird little thrill that being the object of Sherlock’s scrutiny always gave him.

But, “yes, since that first day in St. Barts,” said Sherlock, contemplatively, drawing the point, slow, deliberate, up the three-inch length of the mark. “On your right arm, so probably self-inflicted. Not a serious suicide attempt—you’re a doctor, you’d know where to cut if you really meant it—and too shallow besides. But deliberate nonetheless—too straight and clean-edged to be an accident. Experimentation, then? A need to see whether you could still feel something? Dissociation can be one of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Sherlock stroked the blade of the knife slowly up the soft skin on the inside of John’s elbow as he spoke. The sensation was unprecedented, electric—it quickened John’s pulse, made the blood pulse a little in his ears. It wasn’t that Sherlock never touched him—he did. But usually in a burst of enthusiasm, the camaraderie of the chase. This—this was like watching the fuse burn on an old-fashioned bomb: except he wasn’t sure which of them was the fuse and which the explosive.

John tried to collect himself, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said haltingly, feeling like a rabbit too enthralled by the headlights to run away, unable to save himself.

“Mmmm” Sherlock almost hummed, ignoring him, looking only at the knife as he passed the point of it over the fabric of John’s sleeve, across his shoulder, bringing it to rest in the hollow of his throat.

Sally Donovan was right, some part of John informed him, he’s gotten bored—he’s going to carve you up with your own knife, find some ingenious way to dispose of the pieces, and gloat forever about the perfect crime. You should be shitting bricks right about now, John Watson.

But John wasn’t scared. No, fear had very little to do with the way he was feeling at the moment.

“Will you take off your shirt, John?” Sherlock asked, lowering the knife to the first button, voice level, polite, but perhaps little thicker than normal, “May I see the other scar?”

And John knew how it looked, of course he did--his sociopathic flatmate standing over him with a weapon, asking him to undress. But that wasn’t how it felt. No, it felt like Sherlock was offering him something he’d been waiting for since he’d found the knife three years ago in that crowded covered market in Kandahar.

Did this mean he’d resolved his trust issues, John wondered vaguely, that he trusted Sherlock not to hurt him? He doubted it. The truth was probably far worse. The truth was that he wouldn’t care if Sherlock did.

So he nodded, mouth too dry to say anything, and with fingers suddenly gone shaky, fumbled with the buttons of his shirt. Sherlock came around in front of him, pushed John’s legs apart with his knees, and knelt. Such was the height difference between them that even in that position, they were almost eye to eye.

Sherlock leaned back on his heels, and watched him, his breath, like John’s coming slightly faster now. When the buttons were undone, he pushed the fabric of the shirt open with the point of the knife.

The bullet scar was high on John’s left shoulder, and Sherlock didn’t touch it, just lightly circled the spot with the knife, as if John’s body were a piece of particularly fragile, precious evidence he needed to be careful not to damage.

“The bullet entered at an oblique angle,” Sherlock said, touching the point of entry, “Chipped the bone, perhaps, caused nerve damage, requiring surgery.” He traced out those thicker lines. “Ah,” he came to the patch of rough, pitted skin where the doctors had literally carved out a slice of necrotic tissue, trying to halt the infection, “complications.”

John was happy that he could hear neither revulsion nor pity in Sherlock’s word, the two reactions he’d come to expect when people saw that ruined flesh—but there was something new, unidentifiable, in his tone. Sherlock’s voice seemed to have dropped an octave, his face so close that John imagined he could feel the deep resonance of the sound thrumming in his own chest.

He’d lost most sensation in the scarred area itself, but the skin around it felt like it was on fire now, and when Sherlock brought the knife lower, between John’s pectorals, following the sparse line of sandy hair down his stomach, John almost gasped.

His mind might have had no idea what he and Sherlock were doing here, but his body suddenly wasn’t confused at all—need tugging low in his belly, his erection straining against its restraints.

Sherlock stopped at the waistband of John’s jeans, and looked up for the first time. His gray eyes were even paler than usual, lambent with what John now recognized as arousal, but the question in them was clear to see.

John swallowed convulsively, nodded, and somehow managed to get his hands to undo the buckle of his belt, his zipper. He lifted his hips a little, slid his jeans and briefs down, freed himself.

And then, there he was, laid open, his cock, hard and red, bumping against his stomach, already leaking. But Sherlock didn’t touch it with his hands, or the knife, or—John almost went over the edge just thinking of it—with his mouth.

Instead, the detective continued his strange, ardent inspection of John’s body, caressing the curve of his hipbones with the knife.

An idea began to grow in John, grew until he couldn’t help saying it aloud.

“Mark me,” he said, and was shocked to hear his gruff, ordinary, doctor’s voice saying such extraordinary words.

“John—?” Sherlock said, looking up at him again, uncharacteristically uncertain, and John wondered if the detective was as surprised by the intensity of whatever it was they were doing as John was himself.

“Mark me,” he repeated, and this time, his voice did break, just a little.

“If you’re sure—“ Sherlock breathed, as if the idea had immediately consumed him too.

John nodded.

Sherlock leaned forward, face fierce with concentration, brow furrowed, tongue caught between his lips. High on John’s hip, just over the curve of the pelvic bone, he broke the skin in a tight, short line, no longer than an inch. He drew another, parallel to the first, and then joined them with a third. The bright pain of it drew everything even more sharply into focus, sent another jolt of hunger through John.

Sherlock’s face was so close that John could feel the tiny, controlled gusts of his breath, cool against the burning skin of his cock. Not yet, he willed himself, not yet.

Tiny drops of red sprung up along the thin lines of the incision, and, for the first time since the whole, inexplicable thing had begun, Sherlock laid his hands on John, slowly, firmly, drawing his thumb across the crude H, swiping away the blood.

John came, hard, without another touch or word.


He sensed, more than saw, Sherlock lean back, away from him, and reached down with his own hand to ease himself through the climax, long past the point of embarrassment. He closed his eyes, rode the almost endless waves of it, white-hot pleasure drowning everything in its path.

When he opened them, Sherlock was still kneeling there, watching him.

I must look a sight, John thought: shirt open, pants around his ankles, flushed and panting, a mess of cum and blood across his belly. But Sherlock didn’t look disgusted.

On the contrary, he looked almost reverent, as if something had finally stopped the swift, relentless flow of his intellect, made him pause, made him feel.

Ridiculously, a drop or two of spunk had landed on Sherlock’s cheek. Distractedly, he wiped at them with his fingers, then, without seeming to know what he was doing, he stuck them in his mouth, licked.

Then he stood, adjusted his own trousers, and walked back over to the desk.

“It’s a beautiful knife, John,” Sherlock said, laying it down carefully.

And he was gone.


um, if anyone's interested, I'm offering fic at the help_pakistan auction: here (it's one way to get a sequel out of me *g*)

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