The Rest of the Affair

Although my recollections of the Charles Augustus Milverton affair are recorded elsewhere, they were, of necessity, heavily edited to conceal many pertinent facts. Furthermore, it is no accident that the timing of the story’s publication coincided with both the unfortunate passing of the righteously vengeful lady as well as the celebrated retirement of Inspector Lestrade. All of the major players were out of the picture, and I felt it safe to tell an amended account.

For the most part, I am quite pleased with the tale as it stands, for it conveyed the basics of the story while covering up facts that must remain hidden. Even though Holmes took me to task for some of the fictionalization in “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”, I felt, nonetheless, that I had communicated the horror, the frustration, and the shock of the actual incidents. There is nothing that I would add of the concealed events to the published account, even if I could. However, there is one piece of information that, while entirely personal, I know I should never commit to paper—that is how this case forever changed the relations between Sherlock Holmes and me. Yet I am about to do so.

Holmes, once he reads of this account of our personal lives, will be horrified that I have dared write of it, mainly since I know the dangers of blackmailing based on written indiscretions. The irony is not lost on me that I am about to commit the same mistake that was so very costly to Milverton’s victims. In most likelihood, I shall destroy these very papers as soon as I am finished; however, I feel compelled to capture the events, if only to acknowledge their utmost importance in my life.

It all began as I recorded, on a cold, frosty evening when Holmes and I had been out for one of our rambles. He seemed distracted and rather melancholy throughout the walk. I was used to his mood fluctuations and, while I was a bit concerned, there was nothing too outrageously out of the ordinary that moved me into the realm of worry. I did find it interesting that he seemed reluctant to return home, even with the cold weather, but I attributed it to a wish of his to escape from boredom. A ‘walking about town Holmes’ was not a ‘cocaine injecting Holmes’, and thus I was happy to keep him company on that winter evening so as to prevent the alternative.

When we finally made it back to Baker Street, I was surprised by his reaction to Milverton’s card upon the table; his ejaculation of disgust and his throwing of the card on the floor were unusual behavior for a man of his usually rigid composure.

“Who is he?” I enquired, after picking up the card and reading the name.

Holmes sat down heavily in his chair and stretched his long legs before the fire. “The worst man in London,” he replied, with a heavy loathing tone to his voice.

I blinked in surprise.

“Is there anything else on the back of the card?” he asked.

I turned it over and read out loud: “Will call at 6:30 – C.A.M.”

He shuddered, as if in horror, and proceeded to compare Milverton to a slithering, venomous serpent. I was immediately alerted since, if I have learned nothing else about Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I do know that he has a keen dislike of snakes. The fact that this Milverton character rated such a description concerned me greatly.

“And yet I cannot get out of doing business with him,” Holmes continued in a flat tone. “Indeed, he is here at my invitation.”

I blinked in surprise as I recalled my friend’s reluctance to end our excursion. He was usually quite meticulous about meeting his appointments when he in fact set them up, and it was rather unusual for him to purposefully miss one.

“But who is he?” I asked, trying to hide my confusion.

“He is the king of all blackmailers,” Holmes replied, the vehemence of his feelings blatantly obvious. “Heaven help the man,” he said, his voice breaking slightly, “or still more the woman,” he continued in a rush, as if it were important to quickly get on with his point, “whose secret and reputation come into the power of Milverton!”

“He seems like quite a despicable fellow,” I said cautiously, far more concerned with Holmes’ reaction than the behavior of our imminent guest. I had seldom heard Holmes speak with such an intensity of feeling and, even with my limited skills in observation, I could tell that he was quite affected.

“Oh, he is, Watson, he is,” Holmes agreed, and proceeded to tell me of Milverton’s horrific tactics and of the illustrious client, Lady Eva Blackwell, and her request for Holmes to negotiate the terms of her blackmail. “I’ve been commissioned to meet him, and—to make the best terms I can,” he said in conclusion, in a pained voice.

“Holmes—” I began.

“I mustn’t fail her, Watson,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “I mustn’t let Milverton get the best of me—her.”

I was growing alarmed at Holmes’ unusual behavior concerning this man. “What can I do to help?” I asked in as soothing a tone as possible.

He blinked and then looked at me, a rare smile breaking onto his face. “Good old Watson,” he exclaimed. “I can always count on you. You’ll stay for the interview, won’t you?”

“Of course,” I agreed, knowing that, unless Holmes had ordered me outright from the room, there was no way I was going to leave him alone with this man.

At that instant I heard the clatter of the arrival of Milverton’s carriage in the street below. Holmes took a deep, steadying breath, looked over at me, and smiled at me once more. I couldn’t help but return that smile. But as we heard footsteps on the stairs, Holmes’ smile quickly faded, and his look was one of resignation when Milverton entered the room.

The hardness in Milverton’s eyes was in stark contrast to his fixed smile on his plump face and, although he tried to give off an air of benevolence, he came across as a shrewd and cruel fellow. Holmes remained seated and ignored his outstretched hand. Milverton’s smile only deepened. He then turned his scheming eyes toward me.

“This gentleman?” he asked, waving his chubby hand in my direction. “Is he discreet? Is he right?”

Holmes, whose countenance was already like granite, stiffened even further. “Dr. Watson is my friend and partner,” he said firmly.

“Very good, Mr. Holmes,” Milverton replied, his fixed smile never wavering. “It is only for your interests, and that of your client of course, that I protested. Our discussion is of delicate matters, after all, and I would hardly wish to include an additional party such sensitive topics.”

Holmes flinched. I saw it, and I’m certain that Milverton did as well.

“I speak only of current matters, of course,” Milverton continued.

“Dr. Watson has already heard of it,” Holmes answered, his tone clipped.

“Then we can proceed to business.”

As I listened to their negotiation, my mind was racing. There was very little in this world that would cause Holmes to flinch. He had confronted murderers and thieves. He had faced down Moriarty and Moran, both clamoring for his blood. He was, almost always, cool and aloof. Yet this man, this blackmailer, had caused Holmes to recoil, merely by mentioning the need to discuss sensitive topics. Perhaps years with Holmes were finally rubbing off on me, but I had also noticed the backhanded assurance that this discussion would only include current topics. A terrible suspicion was taking hold in my mind.

“What I say is true,” Holmes was saying. “The money cannot be found. Surely it is better for you to take the substantial sum which I offer than to ruin this woman’s career and marriage, which can profit you in no way.”

Milverton’s never-wavering smile held firm. “There you make a mistake, Mr. Holmes. An exposure would profit me indirectly to a considerable extent. I have eight or ten similar cases maturing. If it was circulated among them that I had made a severe example of the Lady Eva, I should find all of them much more open to reason.”

Milverton crossed the room and stood directly in front of my friend. “I cannot make an exception, no matter what the damage, no matter to whom, even if it is regrettable. I’m sure that you see my point.”

Holmes sprang from his chair. “Get behind him, Watson! Don’t let him out!”

I reacted instinctively, long since used to obeying my friend’s commands. Nevertheless, I have to admit my surprise, for it was quite unlike Holmes to resort to brute strength.

Milverton calmly opened his coat and showed us the butt of a large revolver hidden there. “I had been expecting you to do something original,” he said in a taunting tone. His fake smile was still perfectly in place. “I have, after all, been following your career and the published accounts of your friend here, having taken an interest in your life from an earlier time.”

This announcement seemed to frustrate Holmes. He clenched his hands into ineffectual fists. He seemed almost powerless against Milverton, a state in which I had never before seen my friend.

I could tell that Milverton’s taunts and jibes were intended to put Holmes off guard and make him more vulnerable to the blackmailer’s manipulations. What surprised me was that the tactic seemed to be working. Holmes stood there, breathing heavily in a state of impotent rage, as Milverton patted his revolver and continued to mock Holmes for a bit.

When Milverton finally left, Holmes collapsed in his chair and then sat motionless, staring into the fire. I sat on the sofa near him and watched him, worrying all the while.

“That blackguard,” he finally said, his voice trembling with anger. “I mustn’t let him do this.”

I placed my hand upon his knee. He started, and looked at me in shock. I think he had forgotten I was in room.

“Are you all right, Holmes?” I enquired.

His mouth flicked up in a quick smile that in no way reached his eyes. “I’m perfectly fine, Watson,” he said quickly. It was blatantly obvious that this statement was false. He placed his hand over mine to remove it from his knee. I could feel that he was actually trembling slightly, and I instinctively clasped his hand. It felt cold and clammy. His eyes widened in surprise.

“How do you know this man?” I asked gently. I continued to hold onto his hand.

“I’ve not had dealings with him before,” said Holmes, not answering the question and averting his eyes from me.

“You obviously know him,” I pressed.


“He also knows you.”

Holmes pulled back slightly. “My reputation, nothing more.” He tried to pull away, but I would not release his hand. I could sense his turmoil and his, dare I say it, fear. I was determined that he would not face this situation alone, whatever it was.

“Let me help you,” I implored.

He snorted in a deprecating manner and firmly removed his hand from mine. “You cannot, Watson. Now, I must go.” He stood up. I stood with him and grabbed his arm. He froze.

“Does he have something over you, Holmes?” I enquired firmly, giving voice to my horrible earlier suspicion.

“Please stop asking these questions.” He closed his eyes, all but confirming my fears.

I swallowed hard and knew that I must ask of my ultimate fear. “My God, is he blackmailing you?”


“Has he in the past?”


It was quite unlike me to press my friend, but Holmes’ countenance and his refusal to look at me virtually screamed of something wrong. Yet I also could tell that he was not outright lying to me. I knew him well, and his deceits were often done with actions as opposed to words. I was relieved that he was not the victim of a prior blackmail, but I was still deeply concerned. Realization suddenly hit. “Then it must have been someone you’ve known.”

His eyes flew open and he yanked his arm away. “I beg you, Watson, stop this line of inquiry,” he exclaimed, his actions essentially confirming my impression.

“Holmes, trust me,” I implored. “Please, let me help you.” I tried to reach out and touch him again, but he moved out of my grasp, keeping his eyes downward.

“There is nothing to help, Watson.” His tone was firm, and he began to walk away, heading toward his bedroom.

I hurried after him, but did not reach for him this time. I had never seen him so shaken, and I just could not let the topic rest. “I don’t have your powers of observation, but I can tell something is wrong. What has he done to you?”

“Nothing.” He refused to look at me.

“Holmes,” I said, basically begging him as I followed, “a blackmailer only has power over those afraid to speak. There is nothing you can say that would upset me.”

His stopped walking, and his startled laugh was full of bitterness. “If only that were true, Watson. But I tell you no lies. I have not had dealings with Milverton.”

“Then someone you know has. You are obviously upset by this man. Tell me about it.”

“Watson, please stop asking,” he said, he voice barely above a whisper. “I would not have you lose your respect for me entirely.”

I took a step back in shock. I have to admit that I was slightly hurt that Holmes would doubt my loyalty, but I could also sense his deep distress. “Holmes,” I said adamantly, determined to alleviate his fears, “I would never lose my regard for you.”

“I have so enjoyed your friendship, Watson,” he said in the saddest, most resigned voice I have ever heard. I was almost shaken to my core by his sadness.


“But perhaps you deserve to know the truth,” he continued quietly.

I waited, patiently, almost in dread. Our rooms were still with an almost unnatural hush. He closed his eyes.

“I believe I mentioned my friend at university, Victor Trevor,” he finally whispered.

“Yes,” I whispered back, as if afraid to disturb the quietness. I could hear the fire crackling, and the din of the street below. I watched Holmes as he stood, silently, breathing deeply, almost as if trying to calm his nerves. My heart ached for my friend.

Holmes finally swallowed, hard, and then opened his eyes and looked at me directly. “Trevor wrote a letter,” he said in a rush. “A very indiscreet letter. Hudson, the man threatening Trevor’s father, you remember, must have stolen it before he left Norfolk. He’s the one who likely sold it to Milverton.”

“I see,” I said, almost reluctantly. I thought I knew where this was going. I had my suspicions about their relationship from the time Holmes had first mentioned his university friend. Holmes had never spoken of another friend during our acquaintance, and he had recalled this Trevor person with am almost revered regret.

Holmes took his cigarette case out of his pocket and drew out a cigarette. He lit it with slightly trembling hands. He took a long drag, blew the smoke out slowly, and took a deep breath. “It was a letter to his lover,” he finally continued, his voice unsteady.

“I see,” I repeated.

“It was a letter to his male lover.” Holmes took another drag of the cigarette and I could see that his hands were shaking even more. We both watched the smoke rise toward the ceiling.

I wanted to tell him not to continue, because I did not wish to see him in such pain, but I also needed to reassure him, to let him know that I stood beside him no matter what. “Go on,” I urged, my voice as hushed as his.

“It was a letter to me.”

I took a deep breath and looked at the floor, allowing myself a moment of stillness. This revelation, I suspect, should have been shocking. It was, after all, an area of our lives that we had never discussed, a taboo subject and, in Holmes’ case, one fraught with illegalities and obvious pain.

But how long had I known the truth, yet never spoken of it? Was it respect for Holmes’ privacy that held my tongue, or was it fear of my own weakness and unnatural desires that kept me quiet. All of my suppressed feelings toward Holmes, that I had vowed that he would never learn, crashed over me, and I felt almost staggered by their weight.

Yet I also knew my silence would be seen by Holmes as a rejection, and I had to hasten to reassure him. Besides, my most current concern was for Holmes and what this horrid blackmailer could do to him. That worry sent a feeling of urgency through me, and I quickly looked up at Holmes. “Does Milverton know you were the intended recipient?” I asked anxiously. “My God, does he still have the letter?”

Holmes blinked. “Watson,” he said in a strained voice, “perhaps you don’t understand. I just admitted to being an invert and a sodomite!”

This time it was my turn to blink in surprise, but my surprise was at Holmes’ tone, not his admission. “Yes, I’m aware of that,” said I. Truly, he did not believe me to be that ignorant and unobservant, did he?

“Yet you do not recoil in disgust?” he demanded.

Yes, apparently he did.

“Holmes,” I said as gently as I could, knowing I had to soothe his fears, “it would have been difficult to live in such close, proximate quarters for so long and not have an inkling as to your nature.”

I honestly thought he was about to faint. I quickly grabbed his arm, led him to the sofa, and sat him down. I took the cigarette from his limp fingers and stubbed it out lest he drop it and start a fire.

“You know,” he said in a strained voice.

I decided honesty was the best course, since he could always perceive deception. “I strongly suspected, Holmes,” I said, sitting down next to him. I grasped his wrist and began to check his pulse, since his breathing was shallow and his eyes quite wild.

He yanked his arm away and pulled back from me, huddling into a corner of the sofa. “No!” he cried. “You can’t have known. I was so careful...” His voice trailed off and he folded in further on himself.

I reached out and placed my hand upon his shoulder. I found myself drawn to him and hastened to reassure him. “It’s not a problem,” I said, talking to him as I would a rattled patient.

He looked at me, his eyes filled with pain and sadness. “You can’t honestly tell me, Watson, that you have no problem living with a disgusting invert.”

I had no idea where all his self-loathing was coming from, but I knew I had to try and calm him. I squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t speak of yourself that way.”

“How long have you known?”

“I’ve suspected your nature almost since we began to share rooms,” I said as gently as I could.

His eyes widened in horror. “No,” he said in a strangled voice.

“Your attitude toward women, even your attitude toward men, well, they were clear indications. Perhaps not to everyone, but I had seen the signs before. Besides, I could always tell when you returned from a… rendezvous, shall we say.”

He shrunk, if possible, even further into himself. “Are you saying, Dr. Watson, that you could tell when I had meetings with...” He faltered.

“Yes, Holmes, I could tell when you had engaged in physical intimacies. Your change in mood, the signs on your body, the smell of another man on you. Yes, I could tell.” I was very proud of the fact that I was able to keep my voice level and soothing. What I did not say, what I could hardly admit to myself, was how pained I was when he returned from these encounters. I would tell myself over and over again that his affairs were not my business. And yet… and yet… I could barely admit, even to myself, how insanely jealous I was that he turned his attentions elsewhere.

Holmes drew out another cigarette and smoked in silence for a while. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, as if coming to a decision. “Leave me, Watson,” he said in a strained voice. He opened his eyes and looked at me, pain and pure loneliness intermingling in the liquid grey. “I don’t think I can bear knowing how much I must secretly disgust you, and that only your gallant and chivalrous manner has prevented you from saying something for all these years.”

I suppose I should have expected him to say something like that, but I honestly was quite surprised by his words. Yet I could hear his anxiety underneath his scathing tone.

There was only one way I could think of that might possibly ease his distress, to let him know that disgust was far from my mind, yet I feared his reaction, especially since he seemed to view his nature as something exceptionally shameful. I understood Holmes’ discomfort, for such a revelation could be devastating. But I knew that relieving his apprehension far outweighed any reluctance on my part. I grabbed his hand firmly, and his eyes widened in shock.

“When I was in the army,” I said softly, looking at our hands, “there were two men. One was like yourself.” Here I looked up into his wide, vulnerable eyes. “And the other,” I continued, looking down again at our hands, “enjoyed the company of both the fair sex, as well as his own.”

I took a deep breath, and feeling Holmes’ eyes upon me, I knew I had to go on. “These two men had an understanding and became firm companions. They both claimed that the connection between them was not serious, and perhaps they even believed it. Yet they were inseparable, and their regard for each other was strong.

“And then there was Maiwand. The battle was great, and bloody, and the man like yourself was shot, in the chest,” said I, very quietly.

I looked into Holmes’ eyes and willed myself to go on. I swallowed hard and felt a flood of emotions, ones that I had refused to allow myself to experience for years. “I held my lover close to me as he died in my arms,” I admitted, my voice breaking. “I could do nothing to help him. He died, and I had never, not once, told him I loved him. Nor did I even have time to mourn, for I was immediately needed to assist the other injured soldiers and to help those who actually had a chance to survive. We then withdrew, and he was left like a dog in a field, with no way to retrieve his body. I was injured a few hours later.”

I could feel dampness on my cheek. I angrily wiped it away.

“So Holmes,” I said, “I have an inkling as to your nature since it is something that I have, in the past, shared. As such, I am in no way disgusted by it.”

This time it was Holmes who was clasping my hand tightly, his eyes wide with shock and concern. “My dear Watson,” he said.

We sat in silence for a few moments as his cigarette burned low. We continued to hold hands.

“I never knew.” He smiled slightly, although it was quite pained. “You hid it admirably from me for years, far better than I myself have succeeded. No mean feat, my friend.”

“Well yes, but in some ways there was nothing to hide. I had vowed, upon returning to England, with all its strict laws and social constraints, that I would never allow myself to love another man again.”

I had never known what hope looked like in Sherlock Holmes’ eyes until I watched it die.

I could feel him pulling away and withdrawing his hand, his expression hardening. I knew I had to prevent that, no matter the cost to me. I held onto his hand and bared my soul.

“Then I met you,” I whispered.

His looked at me again, confusion, wariness, and longing all warring in his eyes. “Whatever do you mean?” he demanded.

“I’ve never met anyone like you, Holmes,” I said quietly, almost to myself. I couldn’t look into his eyes; instead I gazed at the floor. “You were, and still are, the most amazing man I’ve ever known. I went from intrigued, to infatuated, to in love within a very short period—weeks, months at the most. It was only my deep resolve and, I must admit, my still burning sense of loss that prevented me from approaching you, especially after I divined your nature.”

I could feel a trembling from where our hands were clasped. I did not know if it was him or me. I turned my gaze to that connection between us and willed myself to continue. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. “I feared it would be our downfall,” I said, and I could hear my voice shaking. “I buried it deep inside me, never to see the light of day and to be exposed to your ever watchful eye. I vowed to live a conventional life; so I married, and she was, God bless her, a wonderful woman. I also vowed, at that time, that you would never know how much you had come to mean to me.”

I forced myself to meet his eyes. He looked more vulnerable, more confused than I had ever seen him before.

“Say something,” I pleaded.

“I barely know what to say, what to think,” he exclaimed, pulling back slightly yet still continuing to clutch my hand. “You’ve shaken my very foundation, John Watson.”

I closed my eyes and could feel them growing hot as I started tearing up again. I squeezed them tighter, willing the tears to stop. “I am sorry,” I said dejectedly. “It was not my intent to upset you.”

I felt a brief, tentative touch to my cheek. I opened my eyes. Holmes was using one finger to gently caress my face and brush away the moisture.

“Having one’s foundation shaken is not always necessarily bad,” he croaked, and then swallowed hard. “It’s just unexpected and, as you know, I’m not a man who is used to surprises.” He smiled at me, tentatively, and I could not help but return that smile.

He continued to stroke my cheek. I stayed perfectly still, barely breathing.

His eye met mine. I was struck by the fierceness of his expression and the intensity of his grey gaze. “You said, Watson, at that time, I was never to know of your feelings? What about now?”

“Now?” I repeated. “I have lost everyone that I have ever loved in my life, Holmes. You’re the only one who came back.”

He looked stricken. He pulled his hand from my face.

“I don’t say that as a recrimination,” I said hurriedly, “but merely as an indisputable fact. Through my losses I’ve learned that life is fleeting and love even more so. Now I am less concerned with convention, and constraints, and social downfall.”

“Yet you still never approached me,” he pointed out.

“No I did not,” I said sadly, my thumb starting to stroke his hand which I still held. “I honestly did not think you’d have an interest in me, a wounded old army campaigner, a mediocre physician, and a widower to boot.”

This time it was he who was squeezing my hand tightly. “That’s not exactly how I would describe you, Watson,” said he. “You also forgot to add that you’re my dearest friend, my constant companion, and the only one I trust.”

“I was afraid, Holmes,” I admitted quietly. “Afraid of how adding a more intimate aspect to our relationship would affect me. My feelings for you are intense; they have been for years. I’ll never forget the horror of gazing down the abyss of Reichenbach Falls, and realizing just how very much I… I love you.”

“Watson,” he whispered, and reached out and touched my face again, gently stroking the remaining wetness, then tracing my cheeks, my nose, my moustache. My eyes closed and I leaned toward him, my lips seeking his own. I heard a gasp, and felt him tense and draw back. I opened my eyes again.

“I don’t kiss,” he said in a shaky voice.


“I don’t kiss,” he repeated.

I was confused. “Surely,” I said, hesitantly, “you’ve kissed before.”

“Trevor. I kissed Victor Trevor.”

“And since then?”

“I don’t kiss my anonymous paramours,” he said in a hard voice. “That’s all there has been since Trevor.”

I blinked in surprise and, I must admit, a bit of hurt anger. “I’m hardly an anonymous paramour, Holmes” I pointed out harshly. “I’m your friend and partner, remember?” I added, throwing back his own words that he said to Milverton.

He turned his piercing eyes on me. I closed my eyes, for I knew that I could not hide my hurt from him, of all people. I leaned my head back, silently berating myself for my folly in revealing so much of myself to Holmes.

I felt a ghosting breath, and then a tentative touch of his lips to mine.

Our lips were barely touching. Our first kiss was hesitant, timid.

I pulled back and opened my eyes. He looked beautiful. His were eyes closed, his lips slightly parted. I touched his face and his grey eyes opened to meet mine. He smiled. I cupped his chin and drew him back into another kiss. This time there was no hesitation on his part.

Then he stopped and stood abruptly. “I can’t,” he exclaimed in a shaking voice, “I can’t do this Watson. I’m sorry.” He strode from our sitting room into his bedroom, quietly closing the door behind him.

I stared at that closed door in shock. I had no idea what had happened, no idea what to do. I was angry, bewildered, hurt, and worried. I knew, however, that pursuing Holmes would be a mistake. Whatever his past problem, he would have to work it out. Yet I longed to help him and wished he would confide in me. I lit a cigarette and remained on the sofa, my mind in a state of whirling confusion.

A short time later the door reopened, and I looked up expectantly. What I saw surprised me. Holmes reappeared, looking like a rakish young workman with a goatee beard and a swagger.

He would not meet my eyes.

“Where the hell are you going?” I demanded.

“I’m off to gather information about Milverton,” he said. “I’ll be back some time later. Don’t wait up.”

“You can’t leave now,” I exclaimed.

“Why not?” he replied in his most dismissive tone, yet still refusing to look at me. “I have important work to do for my client, Watson, and I can hardly waste the evening in discussion. Good bye.”

And with that he fled down those seventeen stairs and disappeared into the night. I remained seated on the sofa, seething in anger and too shocked to even call after him.

Days passed in which I did not see Holmes. I learned from Mrs. Hudson that he was coming and going in this workman’s attire, arriving home late and leaving quite early. My anger faded first to concern, then to outright worry. I waited up for him one night, but other than to say he was spending his time in Hampstead and that it was not wasted, he refused to talk. I tried to insist, but he begged exhaustion and disappeared into his room. I could, however, hear his relentless pacing, and I knew that sleep was far from him mind.

I was at my wits’ end, for I feared that the exposure of our true natures had irrecoverably cost me my dearest friend. Holmes had never given any prior indication of any interest in a more intimate nature with me, and it was obvious that he found such closeness uncomfortable. I began to wonder if I would have to move from our cozy rooms. While I knew from previous experiences that Holmes could disappear for weeks on end in pursuit of a case, I also knew, without a doubt, that he was avoiding me utterly.

I went about my day-to-day business with no outward appearance of the turmoil that consumed me. But I wished, fervently, that Holmes would come home and just talk to me. I would even have left him, should he utter the request, if he would just speak to me.

About a week or so after the revelations in the sitting room, I found myself awakened suddenly from a fitful sleep. I could tell it was late, although I was unsure as to the exact hour. I looked around groggily for the source of my waking, and saw Holmes at the foot of my bed, wearing his nightshirt and dressing gown, his face illuminated by a single candle.

“Holmes?” I queried softly, almost uncertain as to his solidity, for he appeared as an apparition.

He swallowed and his eyes met mine. He looked utterly fragile.

I waited in nervous apprehension for him to speak as we gazed at each other in this perfect, frozen moment.

Eventually he dropped his head and focused, it seemed, on the candle he held. “It seems that I shall forever spend my life apologizing to you,” he whispered.

“What do you mean?” I asked quietly, struggling to get the words out from the lump in my throat.

“I owe you many explanations, Watson.” He continued to look at the candle and I could see a stiffness in his countenance.

“There is no need,” I tried to reassure him. I was so grateful to see him, so grateful he was here, there was no way I would pressure him into discussing anything that distressed him.

His lips flicked into a half smile and he briefly raised his eyes to me. “Your unwavering loyalty never ceases to amaze me.” He looked down again, and I could see a faint blush to his cheeks. I will tell you everything,” he promised. “Just… after this case is finished.”

“How is the case going?” I enquired cautiously.

He looked down at the floor and swallowed hard. “I’m not very proud of what I’m doing, Watson,” he admitted quietly, “but I must get the necessary information.”

“You’re not in any trouble, are you Holmes?” I could hear my concern in my voice.

He shook his head but continued to avoid my eyes.

“Have you done anything foolish?” I insisted upon knowing.

He smiled his brief, half-smiled and said, “Not yet.”

I will confess that this answer did not reassure me. “Holmes—” I began.

“I must succeed, Watson,” he interrupted with a pleading tone. “You do see that, don’t you?”

I looked at the man before me. I had never seen Holmes look so lost. I had to admit to myself that I did understand his dilemma; whatever had happened between him, Milverton, and Victor Trevor, Holmes felt that he had to set it right, as much as he could anyway, at least concerning this current matter.

But I was also resolved that he would not face this situation alone. Whatever he wanted or did not want from me, I would be a poor friend indeed if I left him to his own devices in such a vulnerable state. I sighed. “Promise me that you’ll come to me before you do anything rash, Holmes,” I insisted.

“My dear Watson—“

“Promise me.” I said adamantly. “Or else I will not let you leave this room,” I added with a smile so that he could discern it as a mock threat, yet realize the seriousness of my intention.

He met my eyes and then he smiled, briefly. “My dear friend. Yes, I promise.”

I let out my breath in relief and noticed that he did the same. He paused for a moment and looked at me almost quizzically. “Whatever would I do without you?” he finally commented.

I felt myself flushing but I refused to look away. Indeed, I took it upon myself to examine him more closely. He was exhausted. There were dark circles under his drooping eyes and his body was slightly stooped. “Holmes,” I said, using my best professional doctor’s tone, “when was the last time you slept?”

He started slightly. I think he was always surprised when I was able to discern something of his hidden nature. “I’ve slept a few hours here and there,” he said, nonchalantly, as if trying to make it seem trivial. “My body is here—”

“To be used,” I finished for him. “Yes, I know. Holmes, you must sleep. You are utterly exhausted.”

“I cannot,” he confessed very quietly. “Sleep does not come to me when I lie down.”

His tone was so broken. I could scarce imagine the horrors that haunted him, but I knew they were there.

To this day, I do not know where I got the audacity to make my next suggestion, to Holmes of all people, for I knew how much he valued his privacy and how reluctant he was to be touched. I think I blurted it out suddenly without any thought. “Lie down beside me,” said I, and moved over in my bed.

He looked up at me in shock. “Watson—”

“I promise I won’t do anything,” I hastened to reassure him. “Sometimes people sleep better with a warm body beside them.”

“I don’t know about this,” he said dubiously.

There was a part of me that knew he would be able to sleep in my bed. I cannot explain how I knew, but it seemed almost urgent to me to get him to agree. “Please, Holmes,” I pleaded. “Trust me.”

He looked at the floor and was silent for several moments. “As I’ve trusted no one else,” he finally said in a strangled voice. He must have been exhausted and desperate for any relief, for he agreed to my proposal. He put his candle down on the nightstand beside me bed. I held up the blanket for him and he, slowly and cautiously, lay down next to me. He lay stiffly, facing the door with his back to me.

I could feel the chill of his body as he lay a few inches from me in my narrow bed. It took all my willpower not to pull him closer. I forced myself to control my body, for I had no wish to spook him with any unwanted reactions, and I kept my breath regular. “Sleep, my friend,” I whispered, willing him to do so with all my heart.

I could feel him release his tension, suddenly, as if a great weight had been released. He scooted back slightly, until his cold back touched my chest. My arm went around him instinctively in an attempt to offer him my warmth. He relaxed even further. “My dear Watson,” said he, his voice on the edge of sleep. I continued to hold him close to me. I could feel as his breath grew steady as sleep overcame him. I matched my breathing to his and followed him into a restful slumber.

When I awoke in the morning he was gone. I almost wondered if I had dreamed the whole encounter, but his candle was still on my nightstand, implying that he had left during the morning light. I smiled to myself as I remembered the feeling of contentment that I had when he was pressed against me. I rose and faced the morning with a lighter heart than I had in a week.

Throughout the day I would suddenly stop what I was doing and smile, remembering that Sherlock Holmes had spent the night sleeping next to me. It was not, perhaps, the closeness of my imagined fancies, but it was in many ways far more intimate. His slumber bedside me conveyed a sense of trust and familiarity which warmed me far more than a hurried physical congress. I had, since the first time we had revealed our hidden natures, a sense of hope regarding my relationship with Holmes.

That evening the weather was wild and tempestuous, and the wind screamed and rattled our windows. Holmes returned fairly early and, after having changed from his disguise, joined me in the sitting room. He gave me a brief smile, then sat in his chair beside the fire and laughed in his peculiar, silent manner.

I waited, patiently. I could sense that he had reached a crux in the case and I was determined to be there.

Finally he turned to me. “You would not call me a marrying man, Watson?” he asked gleefully.

“No, indeed!” I agreed wholeheartedly.

“You’ll be interested to hear that I’m engaged.”

I felt as if I had been literally punched in the gut. The sense of warm feelings that I had had throughout the day fled. It was if my attentions had been thoroughly spurned and I was left almost as a shell, my emotions crushed.

I could barely get out my next words. “My dear fellow,” I all but spat. “I congrat—”

“To Milverton’s housemaid,” he interrupted me.

I don’t think I was any less shocked. I admit, guiltily, that I was relieved at the obvious farcical nature of his romance, but I was also slightly horrified at his duplicitous nature. “Good heavens, Holmes!” I exclaimed. “What have you done?”

“I wanted information, Watson,” he declared reasonably, but I could hear a tightness to his voice.

“There had to be a better way to get that information, Holmes,” I insisted in the most calm tone I could manage. I do not believe, however, that it was very calm at all.

“Perhaps I should have broken this news to you slightly differently,” he said worriedly.

I resisted the urge to shake him. I was quite proud of that fact.

“But you wanted me to inform you if I planned to do something rash,” he continued. We both blushed slightly at last night’s remembered conversation.

“What are you planning?” I asked with trepidation.

He lit a cigarette and took a long drag. I could tell that he was quite nervous about his plans, no matter how calm he was trying to appear.

I, too, lit a cigarette and waited for him to go on.

He smiled at me wryly. “I needed to know the layout of Milverton’s home, and thus I courted the maid. She knows me as a plumber with a rising business, Escott by name. I got what I needed. I now know Milverton’s house as I know the palm of my hand.”

“But the girl, Holmes?” I demanded, feeling quite sorry for her betrayal.

“I couldn’t help it, Watson. I did what had to be done in such a dire situation.”

“This is what you meant last night when you said you weren’t proud of your actions, isn’t it?” I challenged.

“Yes,” he said contritely.

I sighed and leaned back in my chair. I took a long drag on my cigarette.

“I’ve disappointed you,” said he. It was a statement, not a question.

“It’s not like you to use people in this manner, Holmes,” I responded, not quite answering his comment.

“Would it relieve your conscience to know that I have a bitter rival, and that she’s using our courtship as a way to make him jealous?”

I smiled at him wryly and watched as he smoked his cigarette, trying to look calm but obviously waiting for my response. I realized then, as he worried his lip slightly, that I could not remain angry at him, no matter what he had done. “I suppose it does,” I admitted, smiling at him.

His return smile caught my breath. I scarcely allowed myself to realize how attractive I truly found Holmes. That insight was almost like a poignant knife twist in my heart. “I would prefer you don’t use my affections so callously,” I said, a little harshly, I must admit.

He looked stricken. “I would never do that to you, Watson.”

I suppose that I was still angry, however, for I replied, “Really? You have, on occasion, led me to believe that you were dying. In fact, I thought you dead for three years. You also frequently manipulate my services without any explanation or given reason. Why should my affections be treated any differently?”

I then looked at his crestfallen face and immediately regretted my outburst.

“I’m sorry, Holmes—” I began, but he cut me off with a wave of his hand.

“No, you’re right, Watson. I have treated you unfairly. My only excuse is that I honestly never realized how strong your regard was for me, at least not until I reappeared in your consulting room. I apologize, again, for no matter how logical my actions may have been, they were unconscionable to do to a friend who, as I have now learned… loves me,” he concluded in a whispered tone.

He swallowed hard. I looked at him and my face must have conveyed my shock. He quirked his lips in that half smile of his. “Of course,” he continued, “I don’t make any promises regarding your worthiness in my cases. Sometimes, Watson, you are far more helpful in your reactions when you are more ignorant of the facts.” He then smiled outright. “Besides, I too much enjoy surprising you to ever be entirely upfront.”

I snorted in suppressed pleasure and couldn’t help returning his smile. I also knew that it would be a mistake to make too much of Holmes’ apologies, since he would retreat far faster than he would open up. Instead I nodded, then took one final drag of my cigarette before stubbing it out and throwing it into the grate. “So what are your plans?” I enquired as a way to smooth over the awkwardness of the moment.

Holmes lit another cigarette and inhaled deeply, then let out the smoke. “What a splendid night it is!” he suddenly exclaimed, looking at the windows and avoiding my question.

At that moment, the wind rattled them, hard. “You like this weather?” I asked in astonishment.

“It suits my purpose, Watson. I mean to burgle Milverton’s house tonight.”

That statement took me entirely by surprise, although I suppose that it should not have. I had this horrible flash of Holmes’ capture and ruin and I knew that I could not let that come to pass. I also knew that I would not be able to talk Holmes out of this expedition and that he, in fact, believed it to be morally justifiable. I have to admit that I did not actually disagree with his assessment. “Why tonight?” I enquired, trying to fake composure.

I think he was surprised that I did not argue with him, for I could see his relief. “There is no other possible way of regaining these letters,” he said matter-of-factly. “The unfortunate lady has not the money, and there are none of her people in whom she could confide. Tomorrow is the last day of grace, and unless I can get the letters tonight, this villain, this monster, will be as good as his word and will bring her about her ruin.”

“I see.”

“I cannot let him do that, Watson. I cannot let him ruin another person that I can help. After all, surely a gentleman should not lay much importance in his own personal risk when a lady is in most desperate need of his help.” He was obviously playing upon my overdeveloped sense of chivalry, as he had sometimes called it.

I smiled at him. “I agree, Holmes. I don’t like it, but I suppose it must be. When do we start?” I was quite satisfied to see his look of shock.

“You are not coming,” he said adamantly.

“Then you are not going,” I said, calmly and reasonably. “I give you my word of honor—and I never broke it in my life—that I will take a cab straight to the police-station and give you away unless you allow me to come along.”

“You can’t help me,” he said harshly.

“How do you know that? You can’t tell what may happen. Anyway, my resolution is taken. Other people besides you have self-respect, and even reputations.” I took a deep breath. “I care about you far too much, Holmes, to let you do this by yourself. What sort of friend, what sort of man, am I to let you face such danger alone? No, I am definitely coming.”

Holmes had looked annoyed, but I could see his expression clear up as I spoke. He gave me a penetrating look, but I kept my expression firm. My decision was resolute.

“Think of what you’re doing, Watson,” he finally said quietly. “I won’t have your liberty curtailed because of me.”

I realized that he was speaking of far more than tonight’s planned burglary. “I make my own decisions, Holmes,” I said as calmly as I could, “and I accept my own consequences. I don’t hold you accountable.” I swallowed hard. “I follow you of my own free will, because I want to. I will follow you anywhere, take any risk. You are worth it to me.”

His grey eyes met mine and I could see his surprised pleasure at my declaration. He smiled and clapped me on the shoulder. “Well, well my dear fellow, be it so. We have shared this same room for some years, and it would be amusing if we ended by sharing the same cell.” His smile faded slightly.

“Well, it would be unfortunate if we ended up in gaol for something as commonplace as burglary,” I replied, mischievously, trying to lighten the mood, “as opposed to something more scandalous.”

He gave a startled laugh and the tension that had sprung up between us was broken.

We prepared for the night’s activities, creating the masks and putting on our dress clothes so as to appear as theater goers returning home after an evening out. At eleven o’clock we were ready to leave for a night of morally justified burglary. As we were walking out the door to our rooms Holmes stopped me.

“I really am glad you are coming along, Watson,” he declared. “I am grateful for your assistance and especially your understanding.”

“Of course, Holmes,” I replied, quite pleased and flushing slightly.

“Thank you.” He leaned forward and, much to my surprise, kissed me gently, with just the barest touch of his lips against mine. He then turned and bounded down the stairs.

I stood stunned for a moment, but then shook myself and hurried after him.

It was a bitterly cold night. We took a cab to Hampstead, disembarking a ways from Milverton’s home and walking along the edge of the heath to get there. Holmes informed me of what he had learned of Milverton’s sleeping habits and the general routine of the household from his fiancée; I tamped down my jealousy toward this woman as he spoke.

Holmes’ burglary tools were quite handy and allowed us easy access to the house. I felt a bit of an ominous chill as we entered, knowing that we were now felons in the eyes of the law. I took a shaky breath.

Holmes took my gloved hand in his and squeezed me tightly. Although much of his face was obscured by his mask, I could still make out a faint smile. He nodded at me slightly, as if to discern that I was agreeable with the proceedings. I nodded back, indicating that I was fine.

He continued to hold my hand and led me to Milverton’s study. The pressure of his hand felt pleasant in mine, even through the glove, and was quite comforting. I felt a sense of safety, even in rather dangerous circumstances, while Holmes held me. He pressed my hand one last time and we separated. I secured the door leading outside, although we were both alarmed as to its unlocked state, and Holmes began to immediately begin his work on the safe.

It was slow-going, and Holmes was engrossed with his work. I have to confess my own exultation, brought about by the thrill of the danger, the righteous of our actions, and my admiration of Holmes himself. I was almost disappointed when Holmes succeeded at his task.

He had barely gotten the safe opened when he heard movement in the next room. We hid behind the curtains and watched as Milverton unexpectedly entered and settled down for a smoke, obviously waiting for something. I could see that the safe was slightly opened and I felt the bile of fear in my throat.

I still remember the feel of Holmes’ hand as it stole into mine, the reassurance he was trying to convey, his own slight shaking betraying his fears. I knew in that moment that there was no place I would rather be than beside him, no matter the consequences. I squeezed his hand and felt the return pressure. I held onto him as a lifeline while we were waiting in frightened silence.

I have already conveyed in my published account the happenings of that dreaded night—the arrival of the vengeful lady, her cries of accusation to her blackmailer, the deadly accuracy of her shots, Holmes’ restraint upon my arm as he wisely prevented me from getting involved. She ran from the room as silently as she had come, and Milverton lay dead before us.

“The door, Watson,” Holmes hissed as he sprang from our hiding place immediately, emptying the safe of all its vile correspondence and quickly throwing the letters into the fire. I ran to secure the door, for I could hear that the household had been roused by the revolver shots. I was just in time, for almost immediately after it was secured someone was trying the door handle and then started to beat upon the door. I spun to see that Holmes had completed his task; all the letters were burning brightly in the fireplace, their secret, private messages turning to ash. Holmes grabbed the letter carried by the killer, which was dropped in her haste to flee, and threw that onto the blaze.

I wrote in my account that the woman had ground her heel into Milverton’s face before her departure; that was not entirely accurate. She was not the person who had committed such an act. Holmes had stopped by Milverton’s corpse on our way to the outer door. He looked down at the body; I had never seen such contempt in his face. “You vicious fiend,” he spat, trying to crush Milverton’s ear with the heel of his shoe.

I grabbed Holmes’ arm. He looked at me, startled, as if recovering from a trance.

“We have to go—now,” I insisted urgently.

He visibly shook himself. He wiped his shoe on Milverton’s sleeve, leaving a reddish streak. Blood had run from the wound in Milverton’s chest, and Holmes cautiously made his way around the gruesome puddle. He hurried to the door leading outside. I was right behind him. We ran through the grounds with pursuers from the house quickly closing the gap between us. Holmes scaled the six-foot garden wall and I followed immediately. I felt a strong hand grasp my ankle and I don’t think I’ve ever felt such fear, even on the battlefields of my youth. I managed to kick free and land awkwardly on the other side of the wall. Holmes quickly steadied me and we ran into the heath. After a mile or so, we slowed our pace. If there was pursuit, we had lost them in our frantic run.

We made our way across the heath to Highgate and Holmes was silent all the while. He shook off any attempt I made to comfort him or even, indeed, to speak with him. Once we reached the streets, we found a hansom outside of a nearby pub. Holmes proceeded to act as a drunken gentleman on his way home after an evening of serious libations, and I followed his lead, as much as my more poor acting skills would allow. Holmes gave an address no where near Baker Street, but moving toward the direction of home. We followed this procedure four more times—changing hansoms, getting closer, never giving away our true address or identities. Our last stop was perhaps a 15 minute walk from our rooms, a walk we made in exhausted silence.

Our front door was a welcome sight.

I led the way into our rooms and stoked the burning fire as Holmes sank onto the settee. I examined him from across the room and I could see that he was visibly shaking. I knew that he was in a mild state of shock, for this whole investigation had been quite emotional for him and I knew that the events of the evening had upset him severely. Not only had Holmes miscalculated Milverton’s movements, almost leading to our capture, but the act of murder we had witnessed was quite horrifying, even if justified.

I wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and then poured us each a brandy. I handed him his glass and then sat on the sofa next to him. He swallowed the drink in one gulp. I do not think he was even aware of what he was doing. His shaking continued and he just clutched the blanket to himself tightly.

It pained me to see him so upset. Without conscious thought on my part, in an attempt to comfort him, I drew him to me and held him close. I could feel his trembling slowly subside. I gently kissed his brow and continued to hold him. He eventually laid his head upon my shoulder. His breathing evened out and I thought he had fallen asleep.

“Victor Trevor and I were lovers,” he finally said, surprising me with his speech, so soft that I could barely hear him.

“Holmes,” I hastened to reassure him, drawing him even closer, “you don’t have to tell me. You don’t have to say anything about it.”

“I owe you an explanation, Watson. I’ve never spoken of it before, but you, of all people, deserve to know.”

He pulled away from me. He spent a few moments steadying himself, and then took a deep breath. “It started at university, as you can imagine. Our quiet friendship became more… intimate.”

He paused. I reached out and offered him a cigarette from the table, but he shook his head and gave me a brief smile. He then closed his eyes and leaned his head back onto the sofa.

“You may not believe this Watson,” he continued, “but I was quite young and innocent, naïve really. Trevor was, fortunately, kind—I shudder to imagine how badly I could have been used if he had not been. I foolishly thought nothing could hurt us. I was terribly mistaken.”

He raised his head and looked at me. “I will take that cigarette now.”

I handed him his case. He lit one and inhaled deeply. I remained quiet and watched him smoke, giving him all the time he needed to collect his thoughts.

“He invited me, as I told you, to his home for the summer holidays,” Holmes finally continued quietly. “The first few days were idyllic.” He blushed slightly at the memories. “They were quite pleasurable.”

“I don’t know if Trevor senior deduced the nature of my relationship with his son. I find it difficult to believe that he did not, but I have learned that people can be terribly unobservant. I do know, however, that Trevor senior was distressed after I made my startling deductions about his previous life. He was quite uneasy in my presence after that point. Thus, as I told you, I cut my visit short, a decision that I regret to this day. Perhaps I could have prevented the tragedy that occurred to the Trevor family had I been there. Perhaps I could have thwarted that terrible sailor from Trevor senior’s past. ”

He sighed heavily, and viciously stubbed out his cigarette. He drew another one.

“I returned to London,” he continued, his voice barely above a whisper, “and buried my disappointment in my chemistry experiments. Victor Trevor, however, took to writing. Sometime during the summer he wrote a letter to me, describing our exploits in rather explicit detail. I think he did it to stave off his loneliness and confusion as to the events occurring in his home. As the situation with the sailor Hudson, who, as you recall, was blackmailing his father, became more and more intolerable, Victor Trevor turned to remembering more pleasant times, mainly our encounters earlier that summer. I was not named in the correspondence, but it certainly would not be difficult to figure out that I was his… partner… in these activities.”

“As you can imagine, Hudson must have found the letter. He was already furious with young Trevor for disrupting his plans and was thus determined to get his revenge. He sold the letter to Milverton, who confronted Trevor shortly after his father’s death. I don’t know if he thought that there was significantly more money in the estate than there actually was, or if he always planned to make an example out of Trevor in order to further his other schemes. Needless to say, Trevor refused to pay.”

“But whom did Milverton send the letter to?” I questioned. “What more could Trevor possibly have had left to lose?”

“The villain sent the letter to the dean of our university,” Holmes said very quietly. “I truly think that he meant to show some other student or students, possibly even Musgrave for instance, that he meant business. Trevor was just a convenient tool.”

I looked at Holmes in horror. “How obvious was it that you were the intended recipient?” I asked worriedly.

Holmes smiled at me sadly. “I was brought before the dean for questioning. The letter, of which I had previously known nothing about, was read to me. I think in some ways that was the most difficult part of this whole affair—having my friend’s words of caring read in a tone of such scorn and derision. There was no one else suspected since it was well known that I planned to spend the summer with him. I attempted to deny any knowledge and proclaim that this was a work of fiction on Trevor’s part.”

“They did not believe you.”

He lit another cigarette and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. “They asked me to do the unthinkable. They told me that all would be forgiven, and this incident forgotten, if I would help the police to capture and arrest Trevor for sodomy and unlawful acts.”

I didn’t know what to say. I clasped his hand and held it tightly.

After a moment, he continued. “I refused of course. I was immediately expelled.”

“Good heavens, Holmes.”

“That was not the worst of it, Watson,” he said with a sorrow laden voice. “It was too late in the day to depart, so I sent a telegram to my brother asking him if I could stay with him for a few days, commencing on the morrow. The following morning, as I was preparing to leave for the train to London, I received a telegram from my father.”

Holmes had never, in all the years I had known him, spoken of his father. I waited in trepidation.

“That’s a telegram I shall never forget, Watson,” Holmes continued in a tight voice. “It read simply: ‘You are disowned’.”

I gasped, horrified. “Dear Lord.”

“Yes. My father disowned me outright. The dean must have sent him a telegram regarding my expulsion. There were no questions, no chance for explanations. As far as he was concerned, his son Sherlock ceased to be.”

“My dear—“ I choked on his name.

“Brother Mycroft was equally disgusted, but at least he acknowledged our bond of kinship. Furthermore, in fairness to him, he has always held me out as his brother, disregarding our father’s wishes. However, he did not want a sodomite staying with him for long, and so I was forced out into my own rooms rather quickly.”

“My God.” I could feel my indignation rising.

“You do understand, of course, why I was so reluctant to let you know of my inclination. If my own family was so utterly disgusted, how could I expect you to react? But you, again, surprised me, Watson.”

“I would support you no matter what, even if I did not share the same inclination. You must believe that.”

“I do. Thank you.”

“You seem to be on somewhat friendly terms with you brother,” I offered hesitantly.

“My relationship with brother Mycroft has improved tremendously over the years and he… well, not exactly accepts my behavior, but he completely ignores it. He did insist on meeting you, however, all those years ago, to ensure that I wasn’t corrupting you, as he put it.”

“Ah, if he had only known how many times I had contemplated corrupting you,” I said with a little smile.

Holmes gave me one of his half smiles. “Yes, I actually think that would have surprised him. He thought you had fine morals, although a bit pedestrian. He truly would be shocked to discover that he missed something so significant in his deductions.”

“Well, you may tell him one day if you wish to upset him.”

“I don’t think I shall. But I shall act smugly if he mentions your name, and that will infuriate him.”

Although I have to admit that I found the idea of infuriating Mycroft Holmes to be quite pleasing, my focus was on Holmes’ tale. “What happened to Victor Trevor?” I enquired. “You said when you first told me the story that he had left the country and went to the Terai tea plantation. Did you ever see him again?”

Holmes’ mood shifted. “Yes,” he said soberly. “I met with him once more before he left England.” Holmes sighed heavily. “Trevor sent me a message, using the same code that his father had used in his correspondence. I’m quite lucky that Mycroft was at work when the message arrived or he would have deciphered it in mere seconds. Trevor asked me to meet him down by the docks.”

I could see that this memory pained Holmes and I wished there was something I could do to comfort him. Without thought, I placed my hand upon his shoulder. He gave me a brief, sad smile.

“He was waiting for me when I arrived,” Holmes continued. “He was disguised, of course, but I knew him immediately. We didn’t even shake hands. We pretended to be two men, complete strangers, standing at the dock and watching the water.

“He told me he was going to leave the country and apologized for the trouble he caused me. I did not tell him I had been disowned; after all, what could he do? I asked where he was going. ‘India, Nepal, anywhere,’ he replied. He had booked passage on a ship that was leaving later that afternoon.

“He looked so lost, Watson. I’ll never forget how lost he looked. His father’s death, the terrible truth surrounding it, and this final calamity seemed to have crushed his very spirit.

“I remember our last exchange as if it had happened yesterday. He turned toward me and looked me straight in the eye.

“’Do you know what I want more than anything?’ he asked me.

“I shook my head.

“’I want to kiss you one more time,’ he said. It took all my willpower not to reach for him and fulfill his wish.

“He held out his hand and I clasped it in mine. Then he turned and walked away. I never saw him again.”

“Is that why you don’t kiss, Holmes?” I found myself asking. “In remembrance of Victor Trevor.”

“Yes,” he admitted quietly. “Foolish, isn’t it?”

“No,” I said very softly. “Not at all.”

“It’s not that I hadn’t thought about kissing, well, at least when I thought about you, Watson,” he said with a shy smile. “It’s just that I refused to act.”

“I’m sorry if I forced you,” I said sadly.

“There was no force involved. I did what I had wanted to do for years.”

I gave him a brief smile. “Do you know where Trevor is now?”

Holmes nodded. “He’s dead.”

I looked at him in surprise.

“I tried to find him during my travels, Watson. I learned that he had died some years earlier and that he was always a broken man.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said solemnly.

“Yes, I believe you are. It does seem a high price to pay for a bit of a youthful indiscretion, does it not?”

“Yes indeed,” I agreed vehemently. “No wonder you had such a loathing for Milverton.”

“Milverton,” Holmes spat the name. “I hated him, Watson. There were many times I wished him dead. But now that it’s over, I feel quite numb about it all. I could have done something to prevent what happened tonight, yet I chose not to. What type of monster does that make me?”

“Stop this, Holmes,” I exclaimed. He looked at me, startled.

“What happened tonight was not your fault,” I continued. “Mr. Charles Augustus Milverton died as a consequence of his own actions. You could not have stopped it; the lady was quite determined. Had you interfered, you may be lying dead as well. No, in fact your presence there tonight helped many others. Your destruction of those horrific letters will save many people embarrassing and painful questioning.”

“You make it too easy to rationalize my behavior, Watson.”

“It’s what I believe.”

He leaned his head back against the couch again. I put my hand upon his arm in an attempt to comfort him.

“You must understand,” Holmes continued, “that what I felt with Trevor wasn’t love. It was infatuation. We both knew it wouldn’t last. In fact, I doubt it would have survived the next term.”

He lifted his head and touched my chin, turning me to face him. He looked me straight in the eye. “No, Watson, it wasn’t love. It was nothing like what I feel for you.”

I swallowed hard around the lump in my throat.

Holmes smiled gently, using one of his long, thin fingers to trace my cheek. He leaned over and brought his lips to mine. The kiss was slow, almost delicate, but full of intense emotion.

We broke apart and he put his head on my shoulder. “My dear Watson,” he sighed.

I kissed his hair gently, then rested my cheek atop of his head. It was one of the most perfect moments of my life.

The events of the evening finally caught up with us and we both fell asleep, exhausted, leaning against each other on the sofa.

Holmes woke me in the morning, urging me to change out of my dress clothes and into a more suitable daytime attire. He had already done so. Our breakfast was a silent affair and Holmes seemed rather distracted. We settled down for our morning pipes. I was about to question him about his silence although, truly, I had no idea what I would say, when Lestrade burst in to seek assistance in solving Milverton’s murder. Holmes diverted his request rather handily, but returned to being silent and aloof after the Inspector’s departure.

He was deep in thought, that much was obvious. I could tell from the occasional glances in my direction that, whatever else he was contemplating, I was definitely on his mind.

During lunch he stood up unexpectedly. “Walk with me,” he stated.

Of course I joined him wherever he would lead.

We walked through the bustling London streets, but my friend’s oppressive silence remained. Finally I could stand it no longer. “Holmes,” I said forcefully.

He stopped and looked at me, startled. The pedestrians continued to pass us by as we stood stationary in the swirl of the busy streets of London.

“Nothing need change, you know,” I stated.

“Is that what you want?” he asked. I could hear by the slight tightness of his voice that my comment was not been what he had hoped to hear.

“I want my friend, first and foremost, Holmes,” I replied quietly yet firmly. “Then I want you to be comfortable with whatever is between us.”

“Is this really a conversation we should be having in the middle of the street?” he asked quietly.

I started and then I could feel myself flush. “My apologies,” I murmured. I resumed walking.

Holmes grabbed my arm and pulled me into a doorway. “You’ll be the death of me yet, Watson,” he said with an exasperated tone.

“Let’s just keep walking, Holmes,” I remarked, slightly petulantly I will admit.

“No. You’re right. We must reach some resolution.” His tone was quiet, yet adamant.

I looked at the street. Everyone went by, ignoring us in favor of their own hectic lives.

“You said you want me to be comfortable,” Holmes continued, his voice low. “What if I want more than what we currently share?” he challenged.

“Then I am willing. In fact, enthusiastically willing.”

“And if I don’t?” He looked at me, his grey eye penetrating.

I swallowed hard. “I’m willing for that as well.” My voice dropped until it was barely above a whisper. “It is your friendship that is most important to me, Holmes. That is something I could not bear to lose.”

“That is something you need never fear,” said he. He pulled out his cigarette case and offered me one, taking a cigarette for himself as well. We smoked in silence for a few moments and watched the street. Finally he turned toward me. “Actually, my dear Watson, I’ve been wondering exactly how I should go about courting you.”

I blinked in surprise. Then, I must admit, I could not help myself—I burst out laughing, both relieved at his apparent interest and amused at the concept of Holmes wooing anyone, least of all me.

“I hardly see the humor in the situation,” he huffed and tried to walk away.

I caught his arm and pulled him back into the doorway, trying to suppress my mirth. “Holmes,” said I, although I could still hear the laughter in my voice, “the purpose of courting is to enable the couple to become better acquainted.” I lowered my voice. “We’ve known each other for years—over a decade, in fact. I think we’re far past the courting stage.”

“That may be,” Holmes sniffed, and I could tell that he was still perturbed by my reaction. “However,” he added, his voice also dropping quite low, “there are certain aspects about you, John Watson, that are unknown to me.” He smiled at me in what can only be called an utmost seductive manner. “I’m quite interested in learning more about you.”

I think I gave a little gasp.

He linked his arm in mine and we continued our walk. I glanced, nervously, at the strangers in the street, certain that they could sense the shift in our relations. The intensity of the connection between us had to be almost screaming out in its obviousness. Yet no one paid us any attention at all.

“They’ll never know,” Holmes said quietly, deducing the cause of my anxiety. “As much as I’d like to shout it from The Monument, no one will know.”

I was going to admonish him on the need to be careful, but then I noticed the sad expression upon his face and decided that it was unnecessary. Holmes, of all people, knew the need for discretion in such an affair. So instead I tightened my grip upon his arm and we continued our stroll.

He finally led me back to Baker Street. Safe in our own sitting room, I knew that we could both sense this current of excited, awkward tension between us. I went to put my hand upon his arm when he leapt up suddenly and strode toward the door.

He turned back to face me. “Have supper with me tonight,” he blurted out. He looked almost surprised by his words.

“Is this a rendezvous?” I asked with just a slight tinge of amusement to my voice.

Holmes scowled at me. “I merely wish to have supper with you tonight.”

“We have supper together most nights,” I pointed out.

“I thought we would go to Marcini’s,” said he with a nonchalance I could tell he did not feel.

I smiled at him, and his scowl deepened, but I was careful not to show too much of my mirth. “Marcini’s would be lovely,” I agreed.

“Then I’ll see you this evening,” said he, and all but fled from our rooms. I heard the front door open and then he was gone. I found myself chuckling quietly at Holmes’ manner.

I spent the day divided between reading and dozing, for the events of the past night had been quite strenuous and I was left feeling rather weary. Sometime around half past five I got up and returned to my bedroom, where I got dressed for the evening. While I was getting ready, I could hear Holmes return. The slamming of the doors informed me that he had disappeared into his bedroom, most likely to ready himself as well. I returned to the sitting room and waited.

When Holmes entered, I believe that my breath caught in my throat for a moment. I have always found Holmes to be unbelievably attractive. I realize that he is perhaps too thin and wiry to be traditionally handsome, but the force of his magnetic personality more than made up for any physical detriments. But tonight… tonight, Holmes looked gorgeous enough to turn heads.

He was dressed in his finest suit, his dark hair slicked back, his white shirt pressed and perfect, his cufflinks gleaming. I felt absolutely shabby in comparison.

Yet his grey eyes were shining as I watched him examine me with infinite care in that singular manner of his. His gaze finally met mine. “You look quite nice tonight, Dr. Watson,” said he a bit breathlessly.

“As do you,” I managed to croak out.

He smiled his half smile and held out his hand. “Shall we go?”

I leapt to my feet, suddenly giddy at the thought of going out with Sherlock Holmes. “Yes,” I replied, and clasped his hand. He led me from our rooms.

Our cab ride to the restaurant was a combination of excited conversation and even more electric silence. “I have tickets tonight for that play you wanted to see,” Holmes blurted out at one point.

I blinked in surprise. I knew that Holmes usually preferred concerts over plays, therefore I rarely mentioned shows that interested me and I usually went alone. “Which play was that?” I enquired.

“’The Fatal Card,’” he replied.

I could not hide my astonishment. “You bought tickets to a melodrama about a murder that I’m certain you could solve in thirty seconds with your eyes closed?”

He sniffed. “You wanted to see it, did you not?”

I did not even bother to ask how he knew that since I was sure I had never told him. “Well, yes—” I began.

“Now you shall.” He looked out at the street as if bored by the whole proceedings.

I took his hand and held it tightly in my own. “Thank you, Holmes.”

He gave me his little half smile.

I squeezed his hand even tighter. “Thank you.”

He looked over at me and smiled fully. Then he flushed and looked away. I continued to hold his hand until we reached the restaurant.

I honestly cannot remember most of our conversation, or what we ate, or anything about the evening except the undercurrent of excited tension between us. I observed everything about him—the way he moved, the way he ate his food, the way he used his hands, the way he swallowed his cognac. It was if I was seeing the essence of him, handsome and exhilarating, and I must admit that I found the experience to be rather thrilling. I forced myself to keep my breathing steady and I could tell from my observations of Holmes that he was doing the same.

Of course, this newfound knowledge excited me even more, and further increased the level of tense attraction between us.

At some point during the meal, Holmes leaned forward and stated, “I’ve been making some discreet enquires. It seems that Lestrade is focusing his investigations on plumber named Escott, of dubious background.”

“Can this plumber be traced?” I asked worriedly.

“No,” he assured me. “Not even his fiancée knows anything about his whereabouts.”

My mood abruptly darkened and I could feel myself scowl.

“However,” Holmes hurried on, “the plumber’s bitter rival for the lady’s hand has stepped in to provide her comfort, and I would be quite surprised if happy nuptials did not soon follow.”

I felt my scowl lessen, but I was still annoyed. “You owe me some sort of compensation for your behavior.”

Holmes’ smile was actually lascivious. “My dear sir, I plan to start to make it up to you tonight.”

I could not contain the shudder of anticipation that went through me. Holmes smile broadened as we moved on to other topics.

My enjoyment of the play that evening was tempered by the fact that I hardly paid any attention to it at all. I was far more aware of Holmes sitting beside me, his leg pressed against mine. The sound of his breath permeated my brain far more than the speech of the actors, and I must admit that I spent nearly as much time secretly side-glancing over at him than I did on watching the performance.

I expected a bit of a diatribe on the way home, for what I did notice about ‘The Final Card’ was enough to assure me that Holmes would have serious complaints. From the false accusations of murder against the innocent man to the villain’s sudden shift in conscience and finally dying due to a bomb of his own making, Holmes was sure to have loathed the very concepts of this melodrama. But he was surprisingly quiet on our cab ride home.

“How did you like the performance?” I finally ventured to ask him.

He looked at me, and even in the dark I could make out the fiercest expression of longing that I have ever seen on another’s face, especially one directed at me.

“I hardly noticed the show,” he admitted after a few moments of intense silence between us. He looked away.

I focused on my breath in order to prevent myself from reaching out to him.

Upon arriving home, we slowly ascended the seventeen steps leading to our rooms. Holmes closed and locked the door behind us. He turned to me.

“A brandy?” he asked.

“Yes. A brandy would be nice,” I answered very quietly.

I sat on the sofa as he poured the drinks. He walked across our sitting room and handed me the glass. I took a sip as he sat down beside me.

I do not know which of us made the first move. I believe we probably reached for each other simultaneously, because suddenly we were kissing.

The previous few kisses I had shared with Holmes had been gentle, tentative things. These were not. These were filled with passion and longing and years of desire. I think my drink fell to the floor, but I did not notice.

I felt his hand on my neck urging me closer. I happily complied and twined my arms around him. We broke apart slightly, and our breathing echoed in the room’s silence.

He opened his eyes and I could see longing warring with disbelief. He reached out and touched my face almost tentatively, as if afraid I was not real. I leaned in and kissed him again, more tenderly this time, coaxing his response and gently leading him.

The small whimper of pleasure that he gave was one of the most erotic sounds I have ever heard.

He pulled back and looked at me carefully. “Come to bed with me,” he finally whispered.

I nodded my agreement, too overwhelmed to speak.

He led me to his bedroom, which was perhaps not the wisest choice since we were more apt to be either heard or disturbed there. It did, however, have the benefit of being closer. He closed and locked the door behind us. The fireplace was burning and provided a golden glow to the room. Holmes stoked the fire and then turned toward me.

I found myself looking down at the bed, the stark reality of the situation hitting me all at once. I suppose I must have stood there, frozen, for quite a few moments.

He placed his hand gently upon my shoulder. I started and looked up into his face. His eyes were shining brightly. He touched my face, tracing my cheeks, my nose, my moustache. I drew his finger into my mouth. His breath caught as I took in more of his digit, adding a gentle suction.

He withdrew his finger with a slight moan and then kissed me fiercely. We fell onto his bed, and I began to slowly remove his clothes, kissing everywhere there was newly exposed skin. Eventually his patience began to wear thin, because he snapped, “I am not a woman, Watson. There is no need for such extended care.”

I looked up at him in surprise, but then realized that if most of his lovemaking were with anonymous partners, gentleness and extended foreplay were unlikely to be part of his normal experiences. I smiled at him, and could see his confused scowl in the firelight.

“My dear Holmes,” said I, “you obviously have not had the benefit of a well-thought-out seduction.” I then placed my mouth over one of his nipples and began to slowly and tenderly suck.

His answering gasp encouraged me to double my efforts.

I let my mouth taste him everywhere—his chest, his ribs, his concave stomach. I took my time and let my senses become enraptured with the taste and feel of Sherlock Holmes. I followed the line on dark hair downward until I reach his trousers. I slowly unbuttoned his flies.

When I finished, his glorious manhood was revealed—hot, heavy, and hard, seeking my touch. I did not even stop to think about how long it had been since I had engaged in a similar act; I drew him into my mouth to taste him. I could hear his strangled cry of rapture as I focused on my task.

After a few moments I felt his strong hands upon me, his fingers gripping my shoulders fiercely as he tried to pull me up. Part of me longed to bring him to glory then and there, but another part, the more selfish part perhaps, was reluctant to let the events of the evening end so quickly.

I sat back and looked up at him. His chest was rising rapidly with his heavy breath and his eyes were gleaming as they met mine. I could tell he had been biting on his lips and I longed to taste him all over again.

I began to remove my clothes and I encouraged him to do the same. When we were done, he looked at me with undisguised longing.

I lay over him, hardness to hardness, feeling his body beneath my own. He drew me closer.

I held him down and kissed him repeatedly. At first I could tell that he wished to move on to other acts, but I persisted. He was someone who had not learned the sensual aspects of a kiss, and I was determined that he would enjoy all that it could entail. He began to respond beautifully, his hand roaming down my back, his kisses becoming frantic expressions of his desire. I broke away slightly and then kissed his neck, his checks, his ears, anywhere I could reach while lying prone upon him, bodies pressed together.

Eventually he grabbed my face between his hands and pulled my head back slightly. He looked me straight in the eyes and panted, “There’s oil on the nightstand. Use it.”

I will not deny the electric jolt of desire that ran through my body at his declaration. He leaned his head back and I could not help but plant kisses all along his neck.

“Please,” he finally rasped.

It was not my intention to reduce him to begging. I knew that I could never withstand the force of Holmes anywhere, and his bedroom was certainly no exception. I reached out to his nightstand and grabbed the bottle of oil.

As I readied him I began to feel some slight trepidation. It had been close to fifteen years since I had lain with another man, and I could tell by Holmes’ tenseness that it had been some time since he had engaged in this act as well. Then I found that spot inside him and he cried out in delight, which further flamed my need for him. When he began to push himself onto my fingers, I knew that he was ready. I could wait no longer.

Entering Sherlock Holmes for the first time was almost sacred. There was heat, and tightness, and I could sense him all around me—the smell of him was in my nose, the taste of him on my tongue, the sight of him in my eyes, the feel of him on my skin, and his cries, his glorious, joyful cries filled my ears. All of my senses were consumed by him.

I was gentle and careful, and he was desperate and needful. He pulled me toward him, using his wiry strength that I had so long admired. He pulled me deeply inside of him, and I kissed him and thrust into his heat.

I was rapidly losing control and I wished for him to reach that plateau with him. I took his hardness into my hand and stroked him in time with my movements. He lasted a few more moments, then he cried out, and I could feel him tighten around me as he reached his release, his warm wetness spreading between us. I followed almost immediately after, my own cries of pleasure slightly muffled by the crook of his neck.

I lay heavily on top of him for a few moments, trying to catch my breath. I then became more aware of my surroundings and took my weight off of him; he gave a little moan. I slowly pulled out and I could hear him hiss with some discomfort.

“Are you all right?” I asked worriedly, and thought about rushing off for my medical kit.

He chuckled softly and drew me back toward him, kissing me gently. “I’m fine,” he said quietly.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” I demanded.

Holmes smiled. I think it was the happiest, most genuine smile I had ever seen on his face. “I’m absolutely fine, Watson.”

I insisted upon cleaning us up, and surreptitiously checking him over. However, knowing his fastidious nature as I did, I could tell he was pleased by my actions.

Eventually I settled back down onto his bed, lying next to him, his head on my chest, and I gently stroked his raven hair.

“It is different, you know,” he said quietly, putting his arm around me and drawing me closer.

“What is?” I asked.

“The feelings of intimacy, when you lay with someone you care about, as opposed to someone… you don’t.” He spoke as if a mantle of loneliness lay upon his shoulders, his voice quiet yet echoing years of sadness.

I cupped his chin and drew his face up toward mine. I kissed him gently but thoroughly. He laid his head back on my chest.

“I am sorry,” I whispered. “I should have approached you years ago.”

He shook his head. “Would you truly have been able to have done this freely all those years ago, Watson? Could you really have come to me in the ’80’s—before your marriage, before your losses—and have approached me and, perhaps most importantly, stayed with me without regret?” He kissed my chest. “No,” he continued, “I think it is better this way. Now at least we have a chance.”

I pulled him closer to me and kissed the top of his head. “I love you,” I murmured, holding him tight. I could feel his answering smile.

“Do you really?” he asked. “I am very glad to hear it, for you have held my heart for years.”

I pulled him tighter into my embrace and stroked his hair as we drifted off to sleep.

We shifted positions during the night and I awoke at some point to feel Holmes’ chest pressed against my back. His hands roamed along my body and he was gently kissing my neck. I moaned softly in the darkened room. The fire had burned down; the light was low and full of shadows.

He pulled me closer and, now knowing that I was awake, began to apply more pressure. His hands stroked my chest, my stomach, my sides, moving ever downward to my rapidly stiffening member. His kisses became firmer, and I could feel him sucking on the point where my neck meets my shoulder. My breath was growing ragged.

His hand found its ultimate goal and I moaned softly as he began to stroke my hardness. He teased me, bringing me near the point of release, then removed his hand. I believe I whimpered. He then moved his hand backward, gently stroking the entrance to my body, silently asking permission.

I nodded. I knew he could feel my assent.

His hand moved away but came back quickly, an oily substance coating his fingers. He gently pushed one into me.

This was an act that I had done infrequently, even when I had lain with a man. Yet Holmes unerringly found my pleasure gland, his strokes maddening me. I pushed back against him, demanding more.

Holmes added another finger. There was more pressure, more pleasure. He then withdrew his hand and slowly, inexorably entered me, his manhood driving into my very core.

He pulled me as close to him, thrusting gently, one hand on my chest, the other beginning to stroke my member. Our ragged breaths entwined, echoing in the dark. I felt utterly consumed by him; he was surrounding me, entering me, claming me.

My climax came upon me unexpectedly; I was surprised by it intensity. Holmes followed immediately after and I could feel his release filling me. I was stunned by how erotic it felt.

He pulled out of me gently, then turned me over so that I was on my back. He lay beside me, his face over just mine. I could barely make out his features in the low firelight, but I could see that he was slightly agitated. He opened his mouth and I just knew he was going to ask if I was all right. I reached up quickly and grasped his face, bringing him down to me for a kiss.

We broke apart and he smiled, his eyes soft. He kissed my forehead, then moved and proceeded to find a cloth to clean us both. When we were finished, this time I lay with my head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat, as he held me close and gently stroked my back as I fell asleep.

When I awoke, filtered sunlight was streaming through the curtains. I was momentarily disoriented and then, with a start, I remembered where I was. I unthinkingly cast around for Holmes in the bed, but I was alone.

I sat up and looked around groggily for my clothes. They were gone, but a fresh nightshirt and my dressing gown were neatly folded on bureau. I smiled and threw them on.

I made my way to our bathroom and quickly saw to my toilet. I then returned to our sitting room. I hesitated slightly at the door, took a deep breath, and opened it.

Holmes was sitting at the dining table, reading the paper, breakfast dishes in front of him. He was already dressed, but wearing his dressing gown instead of a jacket. It looked like he had actually eaten heartily, judging by his empty plate. He glanced up from his reading and gave me one of his half smiles.

“Good morning, slug-a-bed,” said he. “I wondered if you would ever wake up.”

I made my way to the table. “The past few nights have been rather… exciting. I suppose I was tired.”

“Indeed,” he agreed, looking back at the paper.

I stood before the table and was struck with the ridiculous idea to lean down and kiss him. I resisted the impulse, however, knowing that although Holmes had allowed me access to his person last night, he was still intensely private and would be unlikely to welcome such closeness. I sat down instead and began to eat my food.

Holmes gave me a queer look over the top of the newspaper, then returned to his reading.

There was a comfortable silence as I began to break my fast. I suddenly found myself ravenous.

Holmes put down his paper and looked at me, a contented smile still playing on his face. He then shook himself a little and picked up a telegram. “I’ve received a note from Hopkins. He’ll be around in a little while. It seems that there is a bit of a mystery surrounding a disturbance down at the docks.”

“Will you take the case?” I enquired around a mouthful of egg.

“Most likely. Hopkins rarely disappoints, and perhaps it would be best if I don’t turn down too many Scotland Yard requests. No need to raise any suspicion.”

“When will he arrive?”

“No later than half an hour,” Holmes answered. “You might want to finish you breakfast and then get dressed. Hopkins would likely be scandalized to see you in a nightshirt so late in the morning.” The look he gave me was positively lascivious.

I flushed slightly and looked down at my plate.

“You might want to wear a high cravat as well, my dear Watson,” he added.

I looked up at him. He stood up and came around the table until he was next to me. He touched my neck gently. “You’ve got a bit of a bruise here,” he whispered, stroking my neck.

I shuddered in pleasure.

He started to stroke my hair. I leaned into his caress.

“You know I’ll ignore you terribly during the case,” he said quietly.

I met his eyes. “I know you, Holmes. I would expect nothing less.”

He continued to gently run his fingers through my hair.

“But,” I added, “I expect you to more than make it up to me when you are finished.”

He smiled broadly and then leaned down. My lips met his in a passionate kiss, which I had been longing for since I first saw him that morning.

We broke apart and he pulled back. “I shall look forward to meeting your expectations, my dear Watson,” he said with a purr. I felt my breath quicken.

Holmes swallowed and then turned. He walked to his room. “I must get ready for Hopkins’ arrival,” he called out. “I suggest that you finish your breakfast and get dressed.”

I looked after him for a moment and then attacked the food before me with a big smile, looking forward to both the excitement of the case and its promised aftermath.


I lean back in my chair and look over these notes that I have just made. I find that I am still slightly overwrought when I recall those dramatic events from our past. Holmes will, I think, be mortified at what I have just written here.

But, my dear Holmes, you must admit that our encounter with Mr. Charles Augustus Milverton forever changed the nature of our partnership. I, for one, believe that it was a change for the better. In fact, it was probably the best thing that had ever happened in my life. Not just the change in our physical relations, you understand (although that is amazing), but the ongoing strength of our relationship that continues to this day.

You have returned home as I was writing this. I can sense you in your chair, smoking your pipe and reading the evening papers, yet throwing me the occasional glance and wondering what tale I am writing that has so engrossed my concentration.

I have decided that I will show you these musings, even though I had initially planned to just burn them outright. I can only imagine your cries of horror and dismay that such personal events have been committed to paper. We will surely burn these writings, together, and you will chastise me for my foolishness.

But I also think a secret part of you will be pleased to know that my feelings are as strong for you as they ever were. The beginning of our love affair is forever imprinted in my memory. Furthermore, my feelings for you have only grown, if possible, stronger as the years go by. I love you, Sherlock Holmes. I always will, until death truly parts us, and then even into the great beyond.

I can hear you growing restless in your chair and know that you desire my company. I will show you these pages later this evening, after we have spent a few pleasant hours entwined on the bear skin rug in front of the fire. But for now, I will put down my pen with a flourish and welcome you home.




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