The Letter
Jem's Bird

I have long grown accustomed to all manner of odd deliveries at our Baker Street rooms, at all hours of the day or night. Dangerous firearms, noxious poisons, and the occasional explosive charge arriving in the small hours of the morning can give a man a careful outlook when dealing with his correspondence, to say the least. At the risk of sounding blasé, after that one unforgettable afternoon spent with a live panther as our dinner guest (actually well-behaved and chaperoned by a charming young woman, whose unusual story I hope to make public some day), there is little that will unnerve our household. Consequently, the arrival of a large steamer trunk stamped with the seals of far-off and exotic ports, accompanied by a large stack of musty antique books bound in a battered leather strop, seemed positively mundane. As Mrs. Hudson was away on holiday, I signed for the delivery myself, only half-listening to Peterson’s drawled explanations. I had just awoken from a well-deserved sleep; we had returned early in the morning from assisting Lestrade with a dangerous manhunt in the East End, and so I had little patience for something as trivial as Holmes’ lost luggage.


“It’s a funny thing, doctor,” said the commissionaire, his hand resting upon the doorknob. “It should’ve been delivered with the rest of Mr. Holmes’ things six months ago, but these were left behind at the depot.”


“Yes, thank you, Peterson, I’ll –” I stopped in mid-sentence, the import of his words finally hitting me. “I’m sorry, would you repeat that?”


“These were left behind at the depot from when Mr. Holmes returned, sir. You know, from when we all thought he was dead.”


“Yes, I remember,” said I, a trifle sharply. “Good day.” I turned away as Peterson left, not daring to move a muscle until I heard his quick tread descending the stairs. I made a mental note to apologize to him when next I saw him. I had been needing to make mental notes like quite often of late; I had been brusque to Mrs. Hudson, gruff with the new chambermaid, and positively vicious to that poor young constable who had sprained his ankle during the arrest last night. In fact, there was only one person in my life whom I had not insulted over the last six months.


Six months, I thought bitterly. Six months, and still the wounds had not yet healed. I tried to tell myself that Holmes had acted for the best, and to my friend I had presented every outward sign of goodwill, gladly falling once again into our old routine. And yet Holmes’ blithe and cavalier attitude still rankled; my companion gave no indication that our separation of three years had affected him in any way other than the inconvenience of losing his biographer and sounding-board.


I, on the other hand, had been deeply affected by the separation. For three years, I had walked around London as if dead myself, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, feeling nothing. Even as my sweet Mary lay dying, I had been in mourning for Holmes. Then six months ago, he had come back into my life, indeed had brought my life back to me. When I awoke that April day from my faint, it was as if I had been reborn into the only life that had ever held any meaning for me.


That fateful awakening had been weighing heavily on my mind. I had come to my senses gradually, and my impressions of the experience were jumbled and confused: while emerging from the dark embrace of Morpheus, I felt gentle arms caressing me to consciousness, while the touch of what must have been the brandy bottle to my lips became a soft kiss, the trickling liquid a flickering tongue deliciously rousing me from oblivion. Then I had opened my eyes and found Sherlock Holmes hunched over me, his grey eyes wide with concern.


That moment had come to haunt me for the past six months, as had my subsequent actions. Without any thought as to my future livelihood, I had thrown in my lot with Holmes, selling my practice and moving back in to my bachelor digs, following my companion like some spaniel, even to the point of barking at anyone who came too near him. I had taken his scant apologies and accepted his thin explanations, giving him no complaint nor asking any questions, content simply to be once more by his side.


What had I become? Was I really his Boswell, or was it something else? Even Samuel Johnson’s famed biographer had chronicled the actions of other notables of his time. I do not remember reading of Boswell sharing rooms with Johnson, either, nor did he follow his friend everywhere as I followed Holmes. And certainly neither of those great authors, those stolid pillars of their society, would have had the feelings that I had been having …


I pulled myself away from this dangerous train of reflection, and then my eyes lit upon the steamer trunk and the stack of books.


The books, of course, I recognized, though it seemed odd to me that they would have been part of Holmes’ missing luggage, being the very set of props he had used in his disguise as the old bookseller. I smiled despite myself as I read the titles, idly wondering where Holmes had procured them. Here, sure enough, was Origins of Tree Worship, The Holy War, and British Birds, as well as the Catullus. It was this last volume that brought me up short.


“Catullus,” I murmured aloud, my face suddenly burning as dim memories of my boyhood in Australia surfaced from the mists of time. I had been a scholarship boy at the school in Ballarat, awkward and shy, but I always enjoyed my literature classes, particularly the ancients. However, the finer meaning of the poet Catullus had escaped me until one of the older boys explained the meaning, complete with a demonstration I shall never forget. I blushed hotly as I remembered the secret pleasures of the dormitory nights, those strange, forbidden embraces we enjoyed in the dark. The words of this Roman poet who celebrated the love of his own gender had fuelled an entire summer term of furtive kisses and caresses that even now made my cheeks flush with the memory.


That had been a mistake of youth, I thought, the passing indiscretions of two lost and lonely boys, best forgotten in the wisdom of adulthood.


Without my bidding, my fingers thumbed through the yellowing pages until I found the passage that had sparked such passion. Before I could read the lines, however, a slim white envelope fell from the leaves of the book, fluttering to the floor, two sheets of plain writing paper slipping from the open flap. As I bent down to retrieve the pages, I saw my name upon both them and the envelope. My mouth went dry as I realized what I held in my hands.


Holmes had mentioned once, almost in passing, how he had undertaken to write to me many times, but, in his own words, he had been afraid that my affectionate regard would tempt me into some indiscretion that would threaten his secret. At the time, I had nodded and agreed; lately, the memory made my fists clench and my jaw tighten. After all these years, Sherlock Holmes did not trust me with his secrets.


And yet, here I held one secret in my hand. This, apparently, was one of those un-sent missives, describing his life away from me. My heart went to my throat and I found myself unable to keep from reading the words in that so-familiar hand:



          June 15, 1891

          Naples, Italy



My dear Watson:

It is now over a month since I removed myself from your presence and still the loss of your company is a bleeding wound tearing at my heart. I wonder what you would think, my old friend, if only you knew, you who have called me ‘a brain without a heart,’ the true depth of the feelings I have so carefully hidden from the world and from you. Would you be disgusted and turn away, ending the friendship I treasure beyond anything else upon this Earth? Or would you understand, would you reach out as I dare not, would you gladly share this passion with me as you have shared my adventures? It is this burning hope that has sustained me and tortured me for ten long years, it is this hope, my dearest Watson, that has forced me to flee from your side before my desires destroy us both.

I have betrayed you, old friend; I brought this exile upon myself deliberately. I could have easily stopped Moriarty before he apprehended me at the Reichenbach Falls, but I chose instead to use this opportunity to leave you and the damnable lie my life has become. Like Orpheus of old, I was cursed to have my beloved walking just behind me, knowing that to turn and reach for you would be to lose you forever.

If only you knew, my sweet Watson! If you only knew how this emotionless reasoner pines for you, how this nonexistent heart keens for you, how these cold, observant eyes do not care what they see because you are not in their ken. I sit here at this sidewalk café filled with murmuring couples, a heartbroken wreck amongst a garden of blooming romance, and as I listen to their sweet love-talk, my mind is drawn to what it would feel like to have your lips tickling at my ear, your hand gently squeezing mine as you tell me the words I long to hear. Then my imaginations grow even more heated, and my fevered brain summons up the sensation of your moustache brushing against my neck, your strong arms encircling my body, your velvet skin beneath my lips. What pleasures I should like to give you, my darling! Church and Queen may deem it a perversion, and yet I cannot bring myself to feel shame when I consider entering into a carnal embrace with you. The idea of giving myself to you totally, completely, within and without, only excites me beyond all reason, and when I contemplate the sensation of our bodies so intimately joined, I find I lose the ability to think clearly.

And yet, my dear, sweet friend, my affections for you are not limited to simple lust, for although your admirable physical characteristics did indeed bring the blood to my loins at our first meeting, it is your inner nature which garnered the respect out of which has grown my love. I have been captivated by a handsome face before, but never has anyone else of my acquaintance shown me such a warm, devoted spirit seasoned with such endless patience. You, my dearest Watson, have been my anchor and my safe harbour, my salvation and my sanity, the one fixed point upon which I may depend in my dark world of criminals and danger.

And now I have lost you, my love. I leave you to your beautiful wife and your practice. Mary is a fine woman who shall give you the normality, the stability –



Hot tears welled up from inside me, and I closed my eyes, my hand of its own accord touching my lips, as my other hand clutched the letter to my pounding heart.  The man I had come to revere above all others loved me.


He loved me.


Unbidden, a memory surfaced again: a gamin smile under a thatch of tousled red hair, a gleam of mischief in a pair of bottle-green eyes …


Go on, John. Touch it. See? I’ll touch yours – it’s all right, I won’t hurt you. There, doesn’t that feel good? Yes, that’s right. Yes, John, like that. Oh, yes …


I was shocked back into reality by Holmes’ voice at the bottom of the steps.


“Now, Inspector, I need not insult your intelligence by outlining the connection between the extra barrels of salt and the missing jewels. When I found out that the harbourmaster was in Westmoreland during the period in question –”


“By Jove, you’re right!” Lestrade’s voice answered, as two pairs of feet ascended the steps. Still I could not move, my feet rooted to the floor, and I stared at the door as a rabbit stares at the hunter raising his rifle, listening to the detective’s voice upon the stair: “So the clerk had to be the one who’d taken the ledger! And then he framed himself in such a way as to draw suspicion to his superior, eh? Nasty bit of work, that,” the professional chuckled as the door opened.


“I must confess he had me almost convinced in his innocence. Of course, he made his fatal error when he –” Holmes swept in the door and immediately stopped short, taking in the trunk, the stack of books, and the letter in my hand, and instantly deducing the meaning of it all. His questioning eyes held my gaze, and at that very moment, my treacherous memory brought a sneering voice to my ear:


Did you hear about Worthington and Smythe? Caught in flagrante delicto behind the stables! Absolutely disgusting, that. Father’s expelled them both, of course. Those types might be tolerated up north, but we can’t have that sort of thing happening here, can we, Watson?


“Watson?” Holmes whispered, his hand still on the doorknob. Behind him, Inspector Lestrade frowned over his shoulder.


“I – I have to leave,” I stammered, looking down at the floor. I let the letter drop from my fingers, fluttering unheeded to my feet.


Silently, Sherlock Holmes stepped aside and I barrelled through the door, not looking at either man, only pausing to take my coat and hat from the hook before plunging down the steps and out into the street.


I walked without knowing where I was going for some time, and my steps led me to the neighbourhood of the hotel I had lived in before first moving to Baker Street. And just there, across the street, was the Criterion Bar, where Stamford and I had met that fateful morning. I sighed as I remembered our conversation.


He was bemoaning himself this morning because he could not get someone to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had found, and which were too much for his purse.


By Jove! if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer having a partner to being alone.


I stared blankly at the familiar façade. At the moment, I had no idea what I was feeling; the shock of my discovery had blunted my reactions.


I could not fathom it; I had followed Holmes all these years with absolute devotion and reverence, never knowing if my affection was returned, or to what degree, never even considering that he had any love to give.


With a leaden finality I realized that there was no question as to what must happen next. I could not, even now, contemplate a life without Holmes. If he wanted me, then he would have me. After all, I was the very man for him; I always had been, and always would be, totally, inexplicably, his.


I just wished I knew how I felt about it.


I gazed across the street at the Criterion, feeling no disgust, no exaltation, no fear, no joy, just absolute, mind-numbing shock. I slowly realized that the shock came not so much from knowing that Holmes loved me, as that he had failed to deduce what my reactions would be to his love. He thought me an innocent, a normal red-blooded English gentleman with no hidden desires.


Oh, I was no stranger to the love of my own gender. I knew the pleasures well. But I also knew the dangers, and I knew now why he had run away. After all, I had just run away myself … and I was not ready to go back, not yet.


I needed a drink first. Then we would deal with this together, Holmes and I. Together … the beginnings of emotion began wearing through, and I was relieved to find that I was content, at least, with my decision. There was no other choice to be had, really, but still I would need some liquid fortification. Breaking the Offences Against the Person Act was not something to be taken lightly.


I entered the bar, sliding onto a well-worn stool and ordering my usual ale, before patting my pockets and realizing that I had left my billfold back at Baker Street.


“That’s all right, Watson,” said a voice at my elbow. “You never paid your way before; why start now? Barkeep, tonight this man drinks on me.”


I turned and gaped in astonishment. My anxiety had conjured the memory of an old enemy’s voice, driving me away from my home; now cruel Fate had brought forth the man himself as my rescuer. The youth had been achingly beautiful; maturity had turned the headmaster’s son into a marble sculpture, just as handsome and just as devoid of feeling. I heaved a weary sigh.


“Penrose Fischer! What a pleasant surprise!”


“Little Johnnie Watson, the charity boy from the third form! But now you’re Dr. John H. Watson, MD, the well-known author, of course! Who would have thought, eh? Though you always could spin a tale,” he said, guiding me firmly by the elbow to a table. “Really, Watson, you can’t tell me that that Holmes fellow is really as clever as you make him out to be.”


“Sherlock Holmes,” said I with some coolness, “is indeed the most intelligent man I have ever had the honour to know.”


Fischer shot me a penetrating look. “Indeed. Well, I won’t argue the point. Say, I don’t suppose you heard what happened to Albertson, did you?


I admitted I had not. Silently I reflected upon why I had found Fischer so appallingly hateful at school; he knew – and told – every unpleasant rumour about everyone in his acquaintance. I wisely kept silent, not daring to think what he would tell the rest of London if he knew my predicament, as he catalogued the latest half-truths and slander of a dozen souls, most of whom I had not seen or heard from in well over two decades. I nodded and made noncommittal noises at the appropriate junctures in his hateful monologue:


“… and so Roswell’s daughter is marrying a man whose family is simply inappropriate. Jews, you know …”


I bit the inside of my lip. The man had not changed; he was still the most intolerable bigot. Holmes and I had travelled to many dark places in London, and there I learned that the rudest ghetto held a nobility that this so-called “proper” gentleman could never achieve. My adventures with Holmes had taught me many things, and I knew myself to be a better man for the experience. Only half listening to Fischer’s monologue by now, I began to feel a strange sense of warmth steal over me. I recognized the feeling; it was the same mixture of joy and fear I had felt when Mary had agreed to be my wife.


“… I must say I was relieved when I heard you’d gotten married, my boy, even though you had to settle for a governess. Still, we take what we can, eh? You had to get out of there, after all. Two bachelors living together for so long – people were beginning to talk, you know.”


I coughed on my drink.


“There, there, Watson,” Fischer laughed, clapping me painfully on the back. “So how is the little woman?”


“She died last November, in childbed,” I told him with an ice-cold stare. Even though I had left the house in haste, I still wore the black armband that declared my mourning. Some people simply do not observe, I thought angrily.


Fischer did not even have the decency to look embarrassed, but merely nodded in a transparent affectation of sympathy. “Of course, dear fellow, I’m so sorry. I remember reading about it, now. Well, at least you’re better off than old Worthington,” he finished with a sickening laugh.


I started guiltily. “Worthington?” I echoed. I tried to keep my demeanour as casual as possible.


“You mean you haven’t heard what happened to that nancy-boy Worthington?”


“I never saw him after he was expelled,” said I. Strictly speaking, this was not true, but I was not going to share the details of my last conversation with my disgraced hero of that turbulent summer.


“Somehow – I don’t know how – he got into London University and got all the way to his final year before they caught him this time. This time he did the right thing, though I hear the fellow he was with went away to India or some godforsaken place. Good riddance, eh?”


“‘Did the right thing?’” I repeated. A sickening pit in my stomach had begun to form. Fischer, gratefully, did not notice, but took another pull of his ale and smiled as he continued to destroy Worthington’s reputation with all the relish of a man enjoying a fine cigar.


“Well, he rid the world of a pervert, anyway. Hung himself. Should’ve taken his ‘wife’ with him, but I suppose the darkies won’t mind another sexual deviant in their midst. India’s just the place for that sort of thing. From what I hear, they’re bang alongside any perversion out there. Comes of not being decent Christians, I suppose.”


I bit my tongue, bleakly wondering what Our Lord would think of such blatant hatred and intolerance. My sexual deviance might be a sin, but I could not think that such venomous disgust was any less a sin than the love I had found with Worthington in that darkened dormitory room so long ago.


And now no less a man than Sherlock Holmes wanted to share a similar love with me. I shivered involuntarily as I half-listened to Fischer’s tirade against perverts, foreigners, the Prime Minister, and various other annoyances of modern society as he saw it, while I contemplated being in love with Holmes.


I knew, all too well, how such love could harm me. Worthington had not only taught me the pleasures of love, but also the pain of heartbreak and infidelity.


I don’t know why you’re so upset, John. It’s not like I ever said you were the only one. Come on, you know you enjoy it, so why not enjoy it with everyone you can?


Somehow, I did not think I was likely to come home one day and find Holmes in a passionate embrace with another man. He barely tolerated the company of others; I was his only constant companion. Fidelity would not be one of our issues. But what of discovery? We certainly risked more than simple expulsion from a backwater private school in Australia, and I feared that India would not be far enough to escape the inevitable scandal should we be found out.


Suddenly, I realized that I needed to discuss this with Holmes. I had flown out of Baker Street without informing him of my own feelings; if he truly did not know that my heart was already his, what might he be thinking of my retreat, even now?


He did not know that I returned his love. I myself had not realized the depth of my affection for the man. And yet, clearly the measure of my devotion could be told in that not once through this entire affair had I even considered the possibility of leaving him. Instead, there was a solid inevitability about the whole thing; although I had not told him so, I already considered myself his. It was only a matter of explaining that it had been fear and shock that had made me run …


“I say, Watson, what’s the matter? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost, what?”


I had risen without realizing it.


“I have to get back to Baker Street,” I muttered.


“Baker Street?” Fischer scowled. “You mean you’re still playing detective with that odd boob of a crook-hunter?” Holmes and I had run into Fischer once, years before my marriage. Holmes had not been impressed, and had treated the man to all the withering sarcasm he could muster. Fischer, on his part, had tried to engage the great detective in a battle of wits, and, of course, found his armoury sadly failing.


I could not help but smile at the memory, even now. “Holmes and I just assisted Scotland Yard in locking up a dangerous murderer last night, yes,” said I.


“But you’re not sharing rooms with him again, are you?” Fischer jeered.


“As a matter of fact, I am. Our cases might come at any hour of day or night, so it is decidedly more convenient –”


“Any excuse to be with your darling love,” Fischer sneered.


I had had enough. My readers will know that I am a long-suffering individual, but there is a line, and once it is crossed, my temper can become quite violent.


I hauled off and belted the man across the jaw. Fischer recovered almost instantly, barrelling up into my stomach, fists flying. Soon we were brawling across the tables, and then something (a chair, by the feel of it) broke over my head and I knew no more.




I awoke in a dank cell in the Bow Street station, lying uncomfortably on a cold stone bench. Inspector Lestrade straddled a chair beside me, smoking a cigarette, an amused smile curling his lips.


“You care to tell me what happened?” said he.


I sat up, rubbing my head. “It depends upon the charges.”


Lestrade chuckled quietly. “There’s no charges laid against you. That Fischer fellow is well-known to us. He’s always starting bar fights. So what did he say to you?”


“Nothing that should have warranted my reaction,” I admitted, taking the cigarette Lestrade now offered.


“So it had something to do with that letter,” Lestrade persisted.


I hung my head, blushing furiously. The detective laid a sympathetic hand on my shoulder.


“Have I ever told you about my brother George?” he said quietly.


I looked at Lestrade dumbly, a worm of fear eating into my heart. This non-sequitur might lead anywhere; a police cell was not the place I wished to discuss my love for Sherlock Holmes.


The little professional divined my nervousness, and patted my shoulder kindly. “George was special – a little different, but a kind, gentle, soul. He sang in the church choir every Sunday, and was always helpful and cheerful, no matter what. Then he met Alan.” He paused significantly, tapping the ash from his cigarette before continuing. “Alan was another gentle soul, and their friendship was a beautiful thing. They went everywhere together, boating and fishing, helping the old folks of the parish – they even built a tree-house for the children of the neighbourhood. They had a very … close … relationship.”


I said nothing, staring down at the flagstones of the cell.


“I knew that there was more than friendship between them,” Lestrade continued, “but they were happy together, and so I let them be. I’m not a wise man, but it seems to me that if God is love, than love cannot be wrong. Jesus bade us do no harm and help where you can, and that’s exactly the way Alan and George lived, every day. And then, when …” he took a deep breath, stubbing out his cigarette on the cold stone wall. “After they were found out, the same folks they’d helped for years branded them ‘perverts’ and ‘deviants,’ with not a single voice raised in their defence. The villagers who had benefited from George and Alan’s kindness and generosity ganged together and burned down the tree-house, calling it the ‘fairy castle.’ I was shipped away to boarding-school, of course, without the chance even to say goodbye.” His voice broke slightly. “I don’t know what became of Alan, but George … George went home, took father’s gun, and then …”


I watched numbly as Lestrade wiped away a single tear.


“It shouldn’t have happened,” said he eventually. “Love shouldn’t be a crime.”


I nodded in silent agreement.


Lestrade patted his pockets theatrically. “I seem to have left my badge back at my desk,” he told me. “Therefore, I must caution you that anything you say will be promptly forgotten.”


I smiled despite myself. “What did Holmes tell you?” I asked.


“Nothing. As soon as you left, he threw me out without a word of explanation.”


“But then how did you –”


“Look,” said Lestrade, “I don’t know what this current spat is about, but you two have been together too long to let whatever it is tear you apart. Every couple has these rough patches.”


I looked at him sharply. “What in the devil do you mean by that?”


Lestrade arched an eyebrow. “I’d like you to consider,” said he sternly, “that I have known you both for well over a decade. I know that you and Holmes are lovers.”


This was really too much. I threw back my head and laughed bitterly. “If only we were! That letter …” I shook my head, looking at Lestrade intently, reasoning that I might as well tell all. “I swear to you,” I continued solemnly, “that I did not know of his true feelings for me until this morning, when I chanced upon the letter you saw me holding.”


Lestrade frowned slightly. “But I’ve watched you two together. Anyone can see that you’re very much in love.”


I shrugged. “I didn’t see it, and neither did Holmes. According to his letter, he believed that I would not return his love. That letter,” I continued with a deep sigh, “was his declaration of love for me, written just after we lost him in the Reichenbach falls. He ran away in order to escape his feelings for me,” I finished quietly.


“But he came back,” Lestrade pointed out.


I swallowed hard. “I know.”


“You mean to tell me that you had no clue how he felt?”


“Not a one.”


“I could see it every time he looked at you.” He paused thoughtfully. “Come to think of it, he only looked at you that way when you were looking somewhere else. Strange that he didn’t notice your absolute devotion – I don’t mean that in a bad way, you know. We’re all a little in awe of him, it’s hard not to be. But you …” he paused tactfully.


“I love him, yes.” The act of admitting it lifted a weight off my shoulders, and I laughed slightly. We fell into silence for a while, staring at the cell floor, each of us lost in our private thoughts.


Lestrade spoke first. “Can I ask you a personal question, Doctor?”


“Of course.”


“If you love him, and he loves you, why did you run away?”


I took a deep breath. “I was frightened,” I answered slowly, “for a variety of reasons.” Most of which I really don’t want to think about right now, I added to myself somewhat peevishly. “First and foremost,” I continued, “I know what people think when a man loves another man. But I do love him. And if he loves me …”


Lestrade nodded sympathetically. “You would do anything for him.”


“Even break the law,” I agreed ruefully.


“This law deserves breaking,” the detective said darkly. “Not that the letter of the law has stopped you two before,” he added. “Oh, don’t looked so shocked, Doctor. I know of at least two times when our illustrious friend has let a criminal go, but I’m not breathing a word of it to a soul but you. It might be wrong for a copper to say, but I believe in justice first and the law second, if you take my meaning.”


“There should be more coppers like you,” I said with feeling. We stared together at the floor in silence. I finished my cigarette and stubbed it out on the sole of my shoe. “So if there aren’t any charges against me …” I trailed off cautiously.


Lestrade laughed softly. “Doctor John Watson is not even here. You’re a simple John Doe, and you can go as soon as you’re awake. I’m sure,” he finished, “that you have some things to discuss at home.”


Suddenly, a vision of Holmes’ worried eyes as he saw me with his letter sprang to my mind, and I leapt up from the bench. “How was he when you left?” I cried.


Lestrade jumped to his feet with a mild curse. “You’re right,” said he. “I’ll drive you to Baker Street myself.”


Very few people know that Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard started his professional life as a cabdriver; if ever I am moved to write about criminal cases other than those handled by Holmes, I shall definitely record the dramatic story of his first involvement with – and subsequent recruitment into – the London Metropolitan Police. He still prefers to drive himself in the police growlers, and that day he navigated the four-wheeler through the thickest of rush-hour traffic without a single pause, bringing me to the door of 221B with unbelievable speed. I jumped out and turned to shake the detective’s hand.


“You’re a good man, Gabriel Lestrade,” said I solemnly.


“A word of brotherly advice, if you’ll take it,” he answered. “I don’t need to tell you how masterful he can be. Don’t let him be your master in this. For both your sakes.”


I nodded wisely. “Thank you.” I turned and fairly ran up the stairs, only pausing at the door, my heart suddenly at my throat.


I was about to declare my love to Sherlock Holmes.


My hand stole to the armband at my shoulder. I had been widowed for eleven months; I had yet another month of formal bereavement for Mary.


I’m about to engage in a sexual act with another man, I thought ruefully, and I’m worried about whether or not the mourning period is over? With a sigh, I pulled my wedding ring out from my watch-pocket and held it tightly in my palm.


You belonged to him long before you ever belonged to me, John, Mary had said once, a long time ago. He needs you. Go to him. Granted, that had been for a case of fraud in Brighton, and yet …


And yet, I wondered just how much Mary understood. Not once had she complained of my absences, no matter how frequent and at what short notice. And when I did return …


I blushed as I remembered how I would return to Mary after a case with Holmes, so full of the excitement of the chase and the danger that my ardour knew no bounds. The night I returned to her after we had apprehended Taylor the poisoner, I fairly broke the bedsprings and nearly called out Holmes’ name.


I gasped with the memory.


I had, indeed, almost called out for Holmes at the supreme moment of intimacy with my wife.


I had put the thing out of my mind, attributing it to lack of sleep and food combined with an overabundance of firearms and explosives. That night, I had been sorely tempted to kill the blackguard, but Holmes had commanded me not shoot, and I had reluctantly obeyed, allowing Bradstreet to cuff him and lead him away. Later, I had come to my wife’s bed filled with visions of a filthy face cowering at the wrong end of my pistol, a face which had recently mocked us as he threw oil of vitriol at my friend, barely missing that chiselled jaw and those brilliant eyes. I told Mary the story of our adrenalin-churning race across the rooftops even as I began caressing her, entered her while remembering how I had knocked the man down, and spent myself as I imagined pulling the trigger, sending Taylor to his grave rather than leaving him in police custody. In seeing myself kill a man for Holmes, I had found his name upon my lips as I died the little death.


Mary must have known. We had both known; I had just refused to admit it.


You belonged to him long before you ever belonged to me.


I detached the ring from my watch-chain and kissed it, and then removed the black band from my arm, wrapping the ring in it before putting them both in my jacket pocket. I took a deep breath and laid my hand on the doorknob, pausing as another insecurity rose its ugly head.


He had run away because he had been afraid of his love for me. Could it not follow, then, that his return indicated that his love had cooled somewhat, if not completely? That letter had been written over three years ago. What guarantee did I have that it reflected Holmes’ current feelings?


Then I remembered the look in his eyes when he saw the letter. Underneath the fear, underneath the guilt, there had been –


There had been hope.


I forced myself to cross the threshold, locking the door behind me.


The room was completely dark; the shades were drawn and the lamps unlit. The fire had been laid but not yet lit, it being rather warm for late October, and so only the thin slivers of sunlight from behind the shades illuminated the room.


Holmes sat in the cane-back chair, which he had drawn up to his desk. I did not announce myself, nor did he acknowledge my presence, though he could not have but heard my step upon the stair. At first, I thought to approach him quietly and (my lips quivered at the idea) give him a tender, courting kiss before telling him my heart had belonged to him for longer than I cared to remember.


Then I saw the hated morocco case upon his desk, lying open in a stripe of sunlight, the syringe out and ready, its dose carefully measured and dripping slightly from the gleaming needle. Holmes was slowly tying the tourniquet around his arm. I sighed with relief; I was not too late.


Do not let him be your master in this, for both your sakes.


Suddenly, I knew what I must do.


I swept forward and snatched the syringe from the desk, dashing it to the floor and crushing it under my heel. I grabbed the morocco case and threw it into the grate. Then, before he could react, I grabbed Holmes by the shoulders and kissed him roughly, pushing him back down into the chair even as he tried to spring to his feet, thrusting my tongue into his mouth, brooking no refusal. As soon as he melted into my embrace, I pulled away, pressing a single finger against his lips.


“Rule number one,” I growled, tapping his mouth with my finger at every word. “No … more … cocaine. Swear it, Holmes.”


“Watson, I –”


I stopped his words with another fierce kiss, this one almost cruel in its intensity. He moaned into my mouth as I forced him to open to me, crushing his sinewy body to mine with such ferocity that I felt my ribs creak. I pulled back again, once again putting my finger to his mouth. “You know that I am not often crude,” said I in my sternest voice, “but I shall tell you right now that I should rather submit to you using your prick to inject your seed up my arse thrice daily than ever again suffer you to use a needle to inject that poison into your veins.”


“My dear Wa –”


“No more cocaine, Holmes. Swear it.”


He took a deep breath. “No more cocaine. I swear it.” His grey eyes glittered in the meagre light, and my heart flushed with pride as I realized that for once, he was under my spell, rather than the other way round.


I kissed him again, this time more gently, but still my embrace was aflame with a passion that would have frightened me had I been upon the receiving end. Certainly Holmes trembled in my arms as I pressed him to me, my mouth urgently invading his, my hands taking possession of his shoulders and chest. Once more, I pulled back from him, placing two fingers upon his lips. “Rule number two: no more deception.”


Holmes raised an eyebrow, the spell momentarily broken. “Now, honestly, Watson, I –”


“If we are to be lovers,” I interrupted, trusting upon the impact of the word to silence him, “then it is precisely honesty that I require from you. I cannot share my bed – or my body – with a man I cannot trust. That means no more pretending to have exotic diseases in order to get me worked up enough to entrap your suspects, no more pretending to be in London investigating a blackmailing case when you’re really camping out on the moor less than a furlong away, and no more pretending to be dead for three years because you can’t see how much I love you.”


Holmes’ jaw dropped. “You love –”


I drew his mouth to mine, and this time my kiss was as tender and sweet as the first one had been violent. I caressed his lips with mine, this time inviting his tongue into my mouth, opening for him, allowing him to lead this embrace. With a sigh I relaxed into his kiss, savouring the taste of him and the feel of his strong, muscular arms encircling me. Eventually we pulled apart, and Holmes leaned his forehead against mine.


“All right,” said he with a sigh, “no more deception. But I’m going to have to give you some serious coaching in deceiving others.”


I laughed, suddenly unable to believe the conversation I was having. “Perhaps it will stand me in good stead at the card table,” I said. “I can start winning back some of my money from Lestrade.”


Holmes gave a wry chuckle. “Dear me, I wonder what he thought this morning! I wasn’t exactly my usual charming self when I showed him out.”


“So he said.”


For the second time, Holmes’ expression registered shock. “You spoke to him after you left here?”


“I thought you would have deduced that I had,” I said with a smile.


“My dear fellow, beyond the fact that you went to the Criterion Bar, allowed someone whom you disliked to buy you an ale, became involved in a fistfight with a left-handed man of about your own height before being knocked unconscious with a table-leg, then taken to the Bow Street cells where you came to, smoked a cigarette, and were subsequently driven home at great speed in a four-wheeler, I can tell nothing. And although the Turkish special you enjoyed while in custody is Lestrade’s brand, it seems to be rather popular among many policemen these days, particularly their drivers. So what did you tell the good inspector?”


“The truth,” said I.


Every muscle in Holmes’ body tensed. “Watson, are you mad?”


“Actually, he was under the impression that we’ve been romantically involved for several years,” I told him, kissing him gently.


“And he isn’t disgusted or outraged?”


“Apparently not,” I said. “He …” I paused. “He was … sympathetic. I’d rather not say more.”


Holmes gave me a pointed look. “This ‘no more deception’ agreement, does it run both ways?” he asked sharply.


“Holmes, that’s unworthy of you. It’s not my secret to tell.”


“Is he –?”


“No, he isn’t,” I laughed. “Why do you want to know, in any case? It seems to me you’re already spoken for.”


Holmes grinned impishly. “Possessive, aren’t we?”


I ruffled his hair. “Your letter mentioned something about giving yourself to me totally, completely, within and without, as I recall.”


I had never seen Holmes blush before, and it was positively rewarding to see my friend’s ears grow a brilliant shade of violet, while his cheeks flushed rapidly, his eyes downcast charmingly. “I wrote that letter thinking you would never see it,” he said quietly.


“I only regret that I didn’t get to read all of it,” I said fervently, lifting his chin and bringing his mouth to mine. “But as for right now –” This kiss strayed beyond all boundaries of propriety, and together we half-rose from the chair before tumbling onto the bearskin hearth-rug, hastily removing our remaining garments. Soon we lay naked together, side by side, our limbs entwined, our mouths and hands roaming freely, exploring this new and delectable territory with growing excitement, whispering soft reassurances and fervent endearments.


Soon his hands found my manhood, and I gripped his member in return. His long, thin, fingers, so adept at manipulating his violin and his scientific apparatus, caressed my hardness with a skill that sent waves of electric pleasure up my spine. I, for my part, only had the feeble ability I had developed in years of lonely nights, but I pulled at his cock as if my very life depended upon it. Our mouths pressed together frantically now, our tongues meeting in a frantic dance as we stroked each other to completion, spending ourselves almost in unison, the spurting seed joining upon our flesh as we rubbed together in the climactic moment. Holmes groaned into my mouth, his entire body trembling as he clasped me to him, and we lay thus on the hearthrug, our bodies pressed against each other, the fluid of our combined love cooling between us.


Holmes laughed softly and ruffled my hair. “Good old Watson,” said he, with a kiss to the tip of my nose.


I caressed his chest, running my hands over his smooth skin. “I think that at this point, you might find yourself able to address me in a slightly more intimate fashion,” I told him, nuzzling into his arms.


He rolled upon his back, pulling me slightly on top of him, caressing my shoulders as I made myself comfortable upon his breast. “Very well, my darling John,” he whispered, and I shivered and burrowed into him more as he hugged me close, kissing me upon the forehead. “I’ve longed to call you that for years,” he said quietly.


“And I have longed to hear such words of affection from you,” I responded, “but I thought that you had no use for something as pedestrian as love.”


Sherlock Holmes gave a sharp, barking laugh. “Yes, I did act the part well, didn’t I? No one had any idea that I was capable of love, least of all you,” he finished in a sad voice.


“‘He never spoke of the softer emotions, save with a jibe and a snigger,’” I quoted myself ruefully. “Holmes, I’m sorry, I didn’t –”


“I’m the one who should apologize for being so convincing,” said he, “and I thought you wanted us to address each other by our Christian names.”


I propped myself up on an elbow, looking down at my friend quizzically. Holmes reached up and touched my cheek, chuckling slightly.


“‘Sherlock’ just isn’t going to work, is it?” said he.


“You don’t have a middle name, do you?” I asked doubtfully.


“Actually, Sherlock is my middle name. My proper Christian name is William.”


“William Sherlock Holmes.” I smiled despite myself. “And why –”


“Atmosphere, my boy, atmosphere. Whom would you trust in a life-threatening situation: stolid and conservative William, or dangerous and dashing Sherlock? As you yourself have so often observed, a name can speak volumes.” He pulled me gently back to his chest, and I snuggled into his arms with a satisfied sigh.


“I’ve known you for almost a quarter of my life,” I said, “and only now I find out your real name is. Are there any other dark secrets you care to confess?”


“Well,” said he with a laugh, “I think you might be able to deduce why Victor Trevor left for India.”


“India,” I sighed. Something in my look must have caught his attention, for he touched my shoulder with a questioning frown, concern clouding his features.


“John,” he said, “is there something you wish to tell me?”


I took a deep breath. “Earlier, you deduced that I had been bought an ale by someone I disliked.”


“Yes, it was quite evident from the –”


I stopped him with a kiss, then placed a finger on his lips. “Not now, William.”


He blushed once more, hugging me to his breast. “So this man you disliked …” he sighed, ruffling my hair.


“He was an old school-fellow from Ballarat.”


“And he was …”


“A vicious gossip who gave me news of an old … friend.”


“A former lover.”


“My first – and the only male.”


“Besides me,” Holmes whispered, lifting my lips to his. This time, his tongue overpowered mine, and I melted into his kiss, groaning in pleasure.


“Besides you,” I echoed some time later. “Although I’m not sure I really would consider him a lover. We were just boys, and I wasn’t the only one whose company he enjoyed.” I tried to keep the bitterness from my voice, but a thread of dull anger, accompanied by a sting of guilt, wormed its way into my heart.


Holmes touched my cheek, running a single finger along my jaw. “He hurt you?”


“Badly enough that I never wanted to love anyone ever again,” I answered, bringing his hand to my lips. “It wasn’t until I met Mary –” I stopped and sighed. Suddenly, another ghost of the past entered this intimate setting.


Holmes kissed my forehead. “She was a good and intelligent woman, and a credit to her sex. She brought you a well-deserved happiness that ended far too soon, and I do not begrudge her a moment of the love she shared with you.”


I found I could not speak for my grief, and my companion stroked my hair softly while I allowed myself time to regain my composure. I nestled into his chest once more, listening to his heartbeat a while.


“Do you want to tell me about your school friend?” he asked softly. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want,” he added quickly.


“No, it’s all right,” I reassured him, raising myself onto my elbow. Holmes put one arm behind his head, the other resting upon my shoulder, gently caressing me as I began. “His name was Worthington. David Worthington. He was in the fifth form when I was in third, the year before my family moved back to England. He … he helped me translate some Catallus one night, and … well, you know what it’s like at school,” I said weakly.


“Actually, I don’t. I had tutors right up until I went to University.”


“The adolescent male is awash with raging hormones,” I explained. “Couple that with the natural curiosity of youth, and any public school in this country is a natural testing ground for all sorts of sexual experimentation.”


“Exact and clinical, Doctor. But experiments don’t break your heart.”


I nodded. “I made the mistake of falling in love. For his part, he just enjoyed the act, but I wanted more of the romance, rather than the sex. He kept pushing further, too,” I said, blushing. “He wanted to try … well, what we used to call ‘all the way.’”


“He wanted to insert –”


“Yes,” I answered quickly, blushing.


“And you didn’t want to go that far.”


“I wasn’t sure if I did. If he had just told me that he loved me, I think I would have tried it readily. But he didn’t love me, not any more than he loved anyone else,” I finished darkly.


“So you found him with someone else.”


“The night that I finally decided I wanted to try … what he’d been asking for, I went to his bedroom, thinking I’d surprise him. I found him … I found him doing it to Preston Phillips of the second form.”


Holmes squeezed my shoulder, and I stared off into the empty fire, where the morocco case still lay in the grate. I pulled my gaze away.


“I dove straight into my books and didn’t come out except for rugby games and holidays. I only spoke to him once after that, just after he had been expelled. The very next term, he’d gotten caught with another boy behind the stables. I don’t know why, but I just had to see him.”


I paused, remembering the pale ghost that had greeted me in his father’s parlour. They had not insisted upon a chaperone, because that, of course, would to be to admit their son’s heinous crime, but the door had been left open, and a scowling maidservant with a face like a lemon had stayed well within sight, folding and re-folding the same tablecloth in the hallway with a grim woman whom I could only assume was the distressed Mrs. Worthington.


I remembered Worthington’s tear-rimmed eyes and unhealthy pallor. I was the only friend who had visited, and I could tell that he would have greeted any of his conquests with the same subdued mixture of gratitude and contrition.


Unbidden, my gaze returned to the vile morocco case in the grate. Holmes may never betray me with another man, I thought, but what about his promise to me?


“No, dearest, I shall not betray you for the cocaine bottle,” he said softly, caressing my arm.


“You read me so well,” I murmured. “How is it you did not deduce how much I love you?”


Sherlock Holmes shook his head with a rueful smile. “Do you really need to ask that, old fellow? How often have I told you that emotions cloud the faculties of observation and deduction? My feelings for you made it quite impossible for me to know for sure how you might feel for me. Any glimmer of affection I saw, I immediately attributed to my own hopes and desires. I did, however,” he finished, with a twinkle in his eye, “manage to deduce that you were – quite reasonably – furious with me for leaving you.”


I smiled down at him. I who knew him so well could see the regret in his eyes. Now that we had nothing to hide, I could see that he had been hurt by our separation even more than I had. I leaned over him and kissed his lips.


“I am no longer angry with you, my darling,” I whispered. “I understand why you ran away.”


“And I understand why you ran this morning.”


“I’m glad you came back to me,” I told him.


“As I am glad you came back.”


We kissed for a long time, our lips caressing and reassuring each other.


“So tell me about your final conversation with Worthington,” Holmes said in a low voice, softly stroking my chest.


“There isn’t much to tell. It was awkward and short and I went home and masturbated into a handkerchief before crying myself to sleep. I was fourteen and I was sure I was a pervert.” I laughed bitterly. “Of course, next year, I discovered girls and found that they could be quite a bit of fun … you do know that I am still attracted to women,” I added awkwardly. “I mean, I shan’t stray, but …”


 “But the fair sex will always be your department, old friend,” Holmes chuckled lowly. “So what happened to Worthington?”


“Apparently, he went on to London University. He must have been there the same time as I was, but the medical school is rather –”


“John,” he interrupted gently, “you’re stalling. What happened to Worthington? Was he caught again?”


I nodded, closing my eyes. “He … well according to the blackguard who got me with the table leg, he was caught with another student. This time, he hung himself.”


I sank down into my lover’s arms and we lay thus for a long time.






“Why did my mentioning India upset you?”


“His … the man he was caught with was sent to India.”


“Ah.” He stroked my hair thoughtfully.


“So you were caught with Victor Trevor?” I asked after a long while.


“Just after his father’s funeral. We would have been more cautious, but he didn’t want to sleep alone that night. The chambermaid found us still in bed together the next morning. The whole thing was hushed up, for my family’s sake and his. Victor was sent to India, and my father disowned me. I had to drop out of Cambridge, though I was able to get a fair scholarship to Oxford, so –”


“Your father disowned you?”


“Sherringford Holmes,” said my friend in a low voice, “is a cruel man without a shred of human kindness. How do you think I was so readily able to imitate a brain without a heart?”


“But what of your mother?”


Holmes stiffened in my arms. “She died giving birth to me,” he said slowly. “So the old sinner hated me long before he found out about my proclivities. My scandal only confirmed his stated belief that I should never have been born.”


I gaped at my companion in shock. “To judge a child for the circumstances of his birth –”


“To my father,” he interrupted bitterly, “one’s birth is everything. After all, that is what the so-called nobility is all about.”


“Holmes, are you –”


He waved a long thin hand in an impatient gesture. “The Right Honourable the Marquess of Cheltenham has made it clear that I am not to claim his paternity in public, not that I’d want to. Oh, don’t look like that, old fellow,” he chuckled at my expression. “There’s no money, just a crumbling manor house with three or four barely habitable rooms, a disgracefully ugly coat of arms, and a few acres of bog that no one in their right mind would ever buy. Mycroft’s little joke is that he’ll split his inheritance with me when the old man dies,” he finished with a bitter laugh.


“So after Victor Trevor …” I began slowly.


“I decided that I’d had enough. For well over a decade, my entire sexual life has consisted of my hand and my fantasies of you.”


“Your fantasies of –” I blushed furiously, and Holmes held me tightly.


“My dearest John,” he whispered, kissing my brow, “you have no idea how long I have suffered in silence, foolishly believing that I would lose you if I told you how I felt. I have loved you since almost the moment I saw you.”


“I rather thought you were swept up in the haemoglobin test you were running when we met,” I chuckled, lifting my mouth to his for another kiss. I could feel my arousal starting again as we caressed each other tenderly. “For the record,” I murmured, kissing his cheek, “you could have had me for the asking any time.”


“All these years wasted,” he sighed.


“Not wasted, my love,” I replied quickly. “After all, if I hadn’t been convinced of your unemotional demeanour, I would not have been able to create such a believable account of it. So now, no one will suspect that Sherlock Holmes could be in love.”


Holmes frowned slightly. “Except for Inspector Lestrade.”


“Well, he knows us better than the general public. And he’s more … open to the possibility of such a relationship.”


Holmes fixed me with a look. “He must have a relative who is an invert,” he said slowly.


I nodded; there was no use denying it.


“It was a simple deduction,” Holmes murmured, almost to himself. “If not one himself, then it was the only other possibility.” We held each other in silence, Holmes frowning up at the ceiling, absentmindedly stroking my shoulder. “I don’t think I need to tell you that we will have to exercise the utmost caution,” he continued, “particularly as we are continually in the public eye and surrounded by the police, most of whom would not be as understanding as our friend.” He kissed my forehead, giving a deep sigh of tristesse. “We will be playing a dangerous game, old friend.”


I was suddenly conscious of our nakedness, and I shivered slightly, drawing him closer to me. “I’m well used to danger, Holmes,” I said bravely. “Last night –”


“Last night,” Holmes interrupted sharply, “we risked our lives and our safety for the good of the community. Tonight,” he continued, laying a finger on my lips, “we are about to risk our status in that community, as well as our reputations, even our freedom, for the sake of forbidden pleasure. Are you absolutely certain you wish to do this?”


For answer, I took his finger in my mouth, then, releasing it slowly, ran my tongue up its length, fixing my eyes upon his with as much smouldering passion as I could muster. I wished to leave no doubt in my mind as to my desire.


“John,” he said reproachfully, “I am quite serious. This is –”


I stopped him with a fierce kiss, rolling atop him and grinding my hips into his. “I am also quite serious,” I told him. “This is not about forbidden pleasure. This is about love, a force which even you admit holds no reason or predictability. And as for being absolutely certain in my intent,” I hissed, “perhaps I should ask you the same question. You wrote of giving yourself to me totally and completely, within and without. Well, I’m here to tell you that I accept your offer. Now, are you still willing?”


I had never before seen my companion at a loss for words. His grey eyes gleamed strangely in the dim room as he bit his lip and nodded, looking suddenly vulnerable. I gently grasped his chin in my hand and brought his mouth up to mine, kissing him once more before rising to my feet. He looked up at me quizzically, raising himself up on one elbow. I smiled, realizing that, after years of devoted submission, I was finally in charge.


Fortunately, I had had an excellent teacher. “Come, Holmes,” I said, spinning upon my heel and heading to the door. “Bring our clothes.”


“John?” he called softly.


I turned on the threshold. “Yes, my love?” I smiled at the sound of the endearment. I could not believe this was happening; I half-fancied I might wake any moment, but pushed the fear away.


Holmes bowed his head slightly, fluttering his long, dark lashes in an almost coquettish manner. “May I fetch something from my room?”


We both knew that he did not need to ask permission, but his very act of posing the question left me breathless, as he left no doubt between us that he found this reversal in our respective rôles as arousing as I did. My smile widened as I considered the possibilities, and my member stiffened noticeably.


“It’s a good thing,” said Sherlock Holmes with a chuckle, “that Mrs. Hudson is on holiday. You would shock the life out of her, walking around like that.”


“Just fetch what you need,” I answered with a jesting growl, “and then bring that gorgeous arse of yours upstairs in short order.”




Once upstairs in my room, my bravado – and my erection – faded rapidly. What in the devil did I think I was doing? I pulled on my old red dressing-gown and turned down the covers of the bed, idiotically wondering whether I should greet him standing by the door or sitting on the bed, whether I should turn down the lamp, or if I should simply barricade my door and never emerge from my room ever again.


A soft tap on the door made my heart leap into my throat. “Come,” I croaked, my voice breaking.


The eyes that met mine looked every bit as nervous as I felt, and although Holmes retained his careful composure, I could tell that his nerves were stretched tauter than a drum; his thin, white hands trembled ever so slightly upon the doorknob, and his lips were pressed tightly together into a straight line.


I could not believe it; he was more scared than I. I blush to confess it, but, for some reason I still cannot fathom, the evidence of Holmes’ fears drove all mine away. I smiled in relief and reached out a hand.


“Come here, my darling William,” I murmured, and took his hand in mine. I led him to the bed, sitting down and motioning for him to sit beside me. He had also put on his most comfortable dressing-gown, and I smiled as I fingered the mouse-coloured fabric. “Don’t be nervous, my love,” I continued, and boldly kissed his cheek.


Holmes gave a dry chuckle. “You sound as if you’re reassuring a nervous virgin.”


I frowned suddenly. “Holmes, I’m not sure how to ask this, but –”


“Nervous? Yes? Virgin? Not entirely,” he admitted.


“Not entirely?”


Holmes ducked his head, peering at me from behind his long black lashes as he blushed charmingly. “Victor and I …” he sighed. “But only the once,” he finished in a barely audible whisper, “the night before we were discovered.”


I pulled him to me in a long hug, kissing his forehead. “We don’t have to –”


“I want to.” With a trembling hand he reached into his dressing-gown pocket and pulled out a tin on salve, which he placed upon the bedside table with a shy smile. “I want to give myself to you,” he murmured.


I kissed his cheek. “Within and without?” I asked, my lips caressing his ear.


“Within and without,” he whispered.


My lips trailed down his neck as I left kisses upon his shoulders and collarbone, sliding the dressing-gown from his back and slowly lowering him onto the bed. I kissed his smooth chest, drawing each rosy nipple into my mouth and teasing them lightly in turn, eliciting a sound from Holmes that I can only describe as a mew, as he arched his back in a decidedly feline manner.


His long arms snaked around my shoulders and pulled him down atop me, groaning as my kisses strayed lower, moving to his waist. I pulled apart his dressing gown and paused a moment to admire the sight: already Holmes’ prick stood to attention, like him, long and thin, the hair coal-black. I admired the pendulous ballsac, bending to kiss it first, my tongue flickering out to lick each globe lightly, smiling as Holmes groaned in delight. I kneaded his muscular thighs as I began moving higher again, running my lips slowly from the base of his cock to the very tip, ending with a teasing lick to his glans, my tongue briefly tickling the hole. Holmes gripped the edges of the bed, his head thrashing back and forth as I took him as deeply as I could, then released him nearly all the way to the tip, and then swallowed him again. I sucked him in and out slowly, enjoying the salty-musky flavour of his cock, which throbbed and bucked under my ministrations as Holmes mumbled and swore, first in English, then in French, his eyes screwed tight shut and his hips thrusting under me.


“John,” he gasped, “stop, please.”


I peered up at him, frowning in puzzlement.


Holmes smiled slightly, lifting his head. “I want you inside me,” he whispered.


I took a deep breath and reached for the tin of salve while Holmes put a pillow underneath his hips, spreading his legs for me. I knelt between his thighs and took a large dollop of salve, my hand shaking slightly as I lifted his ballsac to reveal the puckered entrance below. My lover moaned and rolled his head back as I inserted one greased finger, then two, into his anus, and when I brushed against his prostate, Holmes began writhing uncontrollably, whimpering only slightly as I removed my fingers.


I let my dressing gown slide to the floor as I stood before him, my heart beating wildly as I placed the tip of my penis at his hole. I paused, looking down at Holmes, who laid open before me, as vulnerable and as naked as a newborn babe, his chest heaving, his prick throbbing, a single drop of pearly fluid shining at the tip. He opened his grey eyes and looked up at me, flashing me a nervous grin.


“Take me,” he whispered. “Take me, my love, all the way.”


I pushed myself in slightly, the tight muscle barring my entrance. “Open for me,” I murmured, reaching forward and tickling his ballsac lightly. The twitching sphincter relaxed and opened, and I thrust myself inside Holmes, groaning as his tight hole closed around me, enveloping me in his heat.


I reached for his hand and squeezed it, taking his pulsing member in my other hand. “I love you,” I told him, as I began pumping myself inside him. “I love you with all my heart, my darling.”


Holmes squirmed in pleasure, his long dark eyelashes fluttering as I began thrusting in earnest. “Yes, John,” he moaned faintly. “Oh, John, I belong to you. All yours, John. Take me.”


“You are mine,” I echoed, speeding up, and tugging at his twitching cock, milking it in time to the rhythm of my hips. “Tell me again,” I growled, as my thrusts became fierce in their intensity, each plunge inside my lover sending waves of pleasure radiating out from my ballsac to the tips of my toes and the top of my head. “Tell me you’re mine.”


“I belong to you, John Watson,” Holmes panted, his words coming in frantic puffs in between my thrusts. “I … belong … to … you … ahhhh …” his speech degraded into animalistic grunts as his prick exploded, his seed spilling out over my hand and onto his belly. The contractions of his inner muscles drove me over the edge and into my own climax, and I roared with my final thrusts inside him, finally collapsing onto the bed atop him. We lay together thus for a long time, gasping like spent fish as we slowly recovered from our exertions.


Holmes kissed my forehead and chuckled softly. “I never do get your depths, Watson.”


I smiled a little at this. “Actually, I believe you shall get my depths – tomorrow, if not later to-night.”


It actually took Holmes some few seconds to get this weak pun, and when he did, he blushed heavily, clutching me tightly to his breast with trembling arms. “So, then, you honestly wish to submit to my perverted desires thrice daily?” he asked with a nervous laugh.


I kissed his nipple, causing him to shiver slightly. “What we just shared isn’t a perversion, William,” I told him softly. “But yes, I shall be honoured to partake in any sexual act you desire, my love.”


Sherlock Holmes sighed contentedly, stroking my back as I snuggled further into his embrace. “Call me that again,” he murmured.


“My love,” I repeated, and lifted my head to kiss him. Our lips remained locked for some time, and as I withdrew from the kiss, I could feel the weariness of sleep begin as the events of the day took their toll. I drew the covers over us with a yawn, wrapping my arms around Holmes.


I had almost drifted off to sleep when Holmes suddenly sprang to his feet, diving for his dressing gown.


“What in –” I mumbled sleepily.


“I almost forgot,” said he, pulling something out of his dressing gown pocket. I watched with considerable interest as he walked across the room, his lean buttocks demanding my attention as I remembered how I had taken him. Even spent, my prick stiffened slightly as I watched my lover cross the room and return to bed, his own cock swinging loosely between his legs. I welcomed him back to the bed with a passionate embrace, thrusting my tongue between his lips and rolling atop him, the paper in his hand crackling as I crushed it between us.


Eventually, Holmes managed to pull away. “John Watson,” he gasped, “you are an incurable wanton.”


I gave him a leering smile. “Then I should say we’re well matched,” I answered. I pulled him to me once again, smothering him with furious kisses to his face and neck.


The next time Holmes pulled away, it was with such a twinkle in his eye that I had to pause to hear what he had to say. “Don’t you want to read the letter?” said he.


“Letter? What letter – oh, that letter,” I laughed. In the passion of this new love, I had forgotten what had brought us together. Holmes handed me the letter with a slightly reproachful look, and I thanked him with another kiss, running my tongue along his lips and savouring his unique taste, a mixture of strong tobacco and brandy.


Withdrawing from his lips with some reluctance, I rolled to his side and unfolded the letter, quickly finding the paragraph where I had let off:



And now I have lost you, my love. I leave you to your beautiful wife and your practice. Mary is a fine woman who shall give you the normality, the stability that you deserve. Finally, you shall have the family you have always wanted, and I shall no longer be there to tempt you away from hearth and home and into danger. As I imagine your life without me, I can see that I have been selfish to keep you away from the woman you love. I can offer you love, but I fear that my love would only bring you pain and disgust, and it is for this reason that I have left you, never to return.

My dearest friend, I sit here in the sunlight and find it cannot warm me, for I am indeed dead without you by my side. Your life without me shall be idyllic and peaceful, but my life without you is an empty lie. Without me, you are still a skilled physician and loving husband, a deserving citizen who shall go far in his chosen profession. Conversely, Sherlock Holmes is nothing without his Watson. It is a bitter irony, that. In the past few weeks, I have often thought of making the deception real, dying by my own hand, but I find that, coward that I am, I cannot bring my plans to fruition. Twice I have gone so far as to place my revolver against my skull, but nothing can induce me to pull the trigger.



[Here I paused momentarily to give my dear love a kiss and reassure him of my affection before reading on:]



This part of Italy is home to many fine cliffs where one could leap to oblivion, and yet I find after my adventure at the Reichenbach Falls, I have no desire to end my life in that manner. I pray nightly that Moriarty’s henchmen will track me down and finish the job for me, but so far I have managed to evade that form of death, as well.

I thought that perhaps some distance from you might heal me, might give me some peace from my obsession, but now that you are no longer with me, I find the pain of your absence is almost too much to bear. I long to hear your voice, to see your warm, open smile, to gaze into your beautiful blue eyes – my darling, do you even know how gorgeous your eyes are? Your eyes would be remarkable enough, my sweet Watson, if only for their colour; they are the exact shade of the North Sea in summer, or the pure azure that crowns the zenith of a cloudless sky. And yet it is not the memory of their singular colour that haunts my dreams even as I run further away from you. Rather it is the light that shines from within those eyes, the gleam of your good humour, your gentle spirit and your compassion, your solid common-sense, and most of all, your intelligence.

Yes, dear Watson, your intelligence, that one trait of yours which you continually underestimated in your tales. Any fool who reads your records of my work should be able to see your wit and acumen simply in the style of writing; it is no easy task to string a cohesive narrative together out of the hectic jumble of events to which I regularly subjected you, and yet you wove your stories like a true master (I cannot forgive myself for never telling you this).

How cruel I was to you, dearest, in my criticisms of your writing! You never knew that behind my vituperative comments, I was hiding my joy that you would find my world so fascinating. Did you never guess that, later in my career, I found myself choosing my cases to find the ones that would most please you and draw you nearer to me? And yet, in my callous and unfair rants, I never told you the one real criticism I hold of your work: you continually belittled yourself in your comparisons to me, putting me upon a pedestal while placing yourself firmly at my feet. I have craved your love, but I never desired your worship. I am no god; I am merely a foolish, lost soul who made the grave error of falling in love with his best friend. In drawing you into my heart, I have lost you by my side. Would that I could have you in both ways, as friend and as lover, as companion and paramour, but I know that you, proper gentleman that you are, would be deeply shocked and revolted if I were to tell you what base sexual desires gnaw at my heart when the nights grow lonely and my thoughts fly to you.

Yesterday I met a sailor, recently returned from the far east, who told me of the religion there and the monks’ ability to repress all desires. Of course, he spoke of women and his desire for them, but I could not help but think that perhaps the answer to my problem might lie in Tibet. Perhaps there, I can at least quell my desire enough that I might be able to return to you as a friend, although I shall never stop loving you.

I have gotten passage as a simple deckhand on a freighter to Calcutta; from there I hope to find my way to Lhassa. If nothing else, the voyage should be educational, though I fear no amount of intellectual stimulation can ease the pain in my heart.

The light is growing dim here, and the proprietor is shooting me meaningful glances; I have occupied one of his tables for three hours and consumed only coffee and tobacco, neither of them particularly expensive. I remember how you always chided me to eat more; tonight I shall eat well and pretend I am doing it to please you; in reality, I shall be pleasing my host, as I have resolved to repay his patience by ordering something dreadfully expensive, accompanied by a bottle of his best champagne. After all, this shall be my last night in Europe, and each glass I drink shall be a toast to your health and happiness.

My darling love, how I fervently hope that you are happy! I know that you shall feel some pain befitting the loss of your eccentric friend and former fellow-lodger, but your grief will pass, and you shall have your lovely wife and your work to console you. I have only my memories of you and the vain hope that someday I may be able to return to you. Dear Watson, my heart, my spirit, and my love are irretrievably yours, and I shall ever remain yours,

William Sherlock Holmes



I folded the letter and carefully placed it upon the bedside table, then turned to Holmes, who looked at me with trepidation clouding his slate-grey eyes. I touched his cheek lightly, my own eyes rimmed with tears.


“I never knew,” I whispered, and leaned in to give him a single, chaste kiss. “My dear, sweet William, I never knew.”


Holmes touched his forehead to mine, heaving a long, weary sigh. “There are other letters,” he said quietly. “A whole stack of them, at the bottom of that trunk. After a while, they became a sort of journal. If you like, I shall put them in order for you to read.”


I kissed him softly, and snuggled into his arms. “I should be honoured to read them, old friend. But let us not dwell too much on the past. Now we are together and …” I paused.


“And what happens now?” Holmes asked, voicing my fears and his.


I swallowed hard. “Now we sleep. Tomorrow, you will move what things you wish into this room; it is now your bedroom as well as mine. And then –”


“But Mrs. Hudson –”


I nodded, laying a finger against my lover’s lips. “We shall have to have a long, careful discussion with Mrs. Hudson. She is a good, patient woman and has tolerated much beyond the ordinary from her lodgers; I do not think she shall betray our secret.”


“But –”


“Holmes, if there is one thing you have taught me, it is to live my life unhindered by petty fears. There is no way that we could hide this development in our relationship from the woman who cooks our meals and does our laundry; thus, we shall have to trust her.”


“But Watson, what if –”


I silenced him with another kiss, and then laid down, pulling the covers over us. “No more talk, William. Sleep now, and we will face the world tomorrow. And whatever comes, we shall deal with it together.”


“Together,” Holmes echoed, his voice soft.


I ruffled his hair. “Don’t worry, Holmes.” I chuckled and leaned over to turn down the lamp. “If all else fails, we can move to India. I hear they’re bang alongside any perversion out there.”



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