by Pandapony

Inspector Lestrade crouched as he made his way slowly through the attic of the inn. He peered into each of the room's ventilation grates as he shuffled through the attic, hoping to identify the suite in which his quarry, Mr. Louis Smith, was hiding.

Louis Smith had killed his wife's lover a week prior, and was now threatening his wife. After days of fruitless searching, Lestrade finally sought the assistance of Sherlock Holmes, who tracked the murderer to this windswept corner of Devon.

Lestrade had gambled that evening that Smith would be staying at the region's only inn. The weather outside was blustery and the sky was dark. It would be hard for Smith to make his move in such inclement circumstances.

Most of the rooms were empty this time of the year, but the Inspector crouched and peered into each grate systematically, hoping to catch a glimpse of the murderer and arrest him before Sherlock Holmes beat him to it in the morning.

Even as he thought of the man, he heard Holmes' voice below. Crouching low over the grate, Lestrade was able to spy into the bathroom adjoining the room Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson had reserved for the night.

Both men were in the bathroom, talking to each other as the room filled with steam from the hot bath. Lestrade was about to leave them and move to the next room, when he heard his name.

“Lestrade made a terrible blunder this evening, leaving only one constable posted at Julia Smith's house,” Holmes said. His smug voice and cocky posture infuriated Lestrade.

“But Holmes, surely Smith won't make any attempts in this darkness and rain,” Watson said. Watson tugged at his tie and pulled it off, along with his collar and cuffs. “Lestrade is being practical.”

“Hah!” Holmes shook his head. “Lestrade still thinks that Smith is staying in this inn. I'll wager the fool is looking for Smith's room as we speak.”

Lestrade's rage flared. He wanted to shout down to them and defend his reasoning, but he realized he would be caught spying if he did so.

Watson continued to undress, seemingly undisturbed by Holmes' presence in the bathroom. Watson quickly removed his waistcoat, shirt, and socks, and was unfastening his trousers as he spoke again.

“Lestrade didn't say anything about Smith staying here.”

“No,” Holmes said. He leaned against the closed door of the bathroom. “He wants to surprise us, you see.”

Watson chuckled at that, and then removed his trousers and undergarments. Lestrade was shocked at Watson's unabashed nudity in front of Holmes, but Watson did not linger naked for long. He quickly slipped into the hot water of the tub, sighing dramatically.

“Oh, its lovely Holmes, just what my bones needed.”

Holmes gave him a brief smile. “Good.”

Lestrade was still fuming inside, wondering how Holmes could have known of his plan, and where Smith was if indeed Holmes was correct, when suddenly, Holmes himself started to undress.

Lestrade watched, too shocked to be ashamed at his invasion of their privacy. Holmes continued to prattle on about the case. Lestrade was torn between not wanting to see any more of what was happening in that bathroom, and wanting to find out what clues he had missed in the hunt for Smith, and whether he could still save face in front of his rival detective.

If Smith wasn't staying at the inn, then he would be coming by the manor later to visit his estranged wife. Lestrade's charge was still in danger. And one constable at the manor would not be enough.

Lestrade stood slowly. He planned on leaving the attic, when he heard the sound of splashing and looked down to see Holmes climb into the tub with Watson.

He stared.

It couldn't be.

It was obscene! Two grown men, sharing a tub together?

Holmes and Watson continued to chatter away like they were smoking pipes around their dining room table. Neither seemed at all surprised by the situation, or, for that matter, aroused. This was not the scene of two lovers coupling. It was as if they were just friends, sharing a bath together.

Lestrade crouched again, suddenly fascinated.

Holmes and Watson's dialogue quieted down as they both sank deeper into the hot water, closing their eyes. Their legs mingled together in the water casually, with familiarity. It was as if they had sat this way together in cramped tubs for years. They seemed to know how to make their lanky bodies fit. Watson leaned back against the edge of the tub and closed his eyes, and Holmes dipped deeper into the water and plunged his head under. He began to wash his hair, all the while berating Lestrade and Scotland Yard for its stupidity.

Lestrade thought that maybe there was nothing unseemly in this strange shared bath. The two men had been roommates for years, after all – maybe they developed a habit of sharing baths to save on water? Perhaps it was harmless. Indeed, it seemed innocent, the two of them laughing and talking about the case, apparently heedless of the fact that they were both stark naked under the water.

Lestrade almost succeeded in convincing himself there was nothing queer, until Holmes cleared his throat. “Do you want me to wash your back, John?”

In all his years of knowing Holmes and Dr. Watson, Lestrade had never once heard Holmes refer to Watson by his Christian name. Now, with sleepy grace, Watson shifted in the tub, settling between Holmes' spread legs to lean back against his friend.

Holmes took up a sponge and began slowly washing Watson's back. Their knees popped out of the water together. Watson' hands rubbed Holmes' knees casually.

“I almost feel bad for Lestrade,” Watson said. He yawned. “He is trying so hard to outsmart you this time.”

Holmes snorted. “He should concentrate on the case, and not me.”

Once again, Lestrade tried to believe that this was all just a friendly exchange. Neither of the men took any physical action other than those pertaining to grooming. Granted, Watson was nestled between Holmes' legs, putting his body in direct contact with Holmes' groin. And granted, Holmes was taking his time washing Watson's back, caressing him softly and slowly.

And then all of Lestrade's desperate efforts to portray the scene as innocent fled as Holmes tilted his head slightly and kissed the back of Watson's neck.

“Oh, that's nice,” Watson said. He leaned back and Holmes wrapped his arms around Watson's chest, kissing his shoulder slowly.

“This rain must be aggravating your wound today,” Holmes said quietly, kissing the fierce, white scar tissue of Watson's shoulder.

If Watson was aggravated, he didn't show it. He leaned back further into Holmes' ministrations. “Nothing a hot bath and your touch can't cure.”

Holmes smiled. Lestrade was astonished to see something in that smile he had never before witnessed in Holmes' face. There was a softness that radiated pure happiness. Those gray eyes, so sharp and calculating, so cold when they turned to everyone else, were now wide and bright and joyful, and they looked upon the doctor with what Lestrade could only describe as absolute devotion.

Watson shifted once more, turning to face Holmes. He reached his arms around Holmes and the two began to kiss. It was a slow, lazy kiss, as if they had all the time in the world, as if there was nothing wrong with two men behaving this way. Holmes licked at Watson's lips, and then put his hands on the back of Watson's head and pushed him further into his own mouth. Their kiss grew in intensity. They clutched each other in the water, kissing deeply and quietly.

Lestrade looked away. His mind raced. All these years. He had never known. He, a police inspector, and he had been consulting with criminals the entire time.

Lestrade knew that it was his duty, to his profession and his country, to see these men punished for their crime. The Criminal Law Amendment Act had not been passed on a whim.

But as he hunched in the darkness of the attic, Lestrade realized that he could never act upon the law. For it would take his greatest resource away from him.

Sherlock Holmes had made Lestrade's career. This was not just flattery. Lestrade knew it to be true, and he couldn't even count the number of times that Holmes had handed the solution to some mystery to him, without taking any credit for himself.

Where would Lestrade be if Holmes was in prison?

Even now, in hushed tones in the bathroom, Lestrade heard Holmes' voice, describing his plan to get Lestrade out of trouble once more.

“Shouldn't we be worried… about Mrs. Smith?” Watson's voice had gone husky. His eyes were closed as he leaned forward into Holmes' soft kisses.

Holmes smiled softly. “I already sent her a telegram this afternoon. She's staying in town for the night, with her sister. She should be quite safe, for the moment at least.”

Watson laughed and wrapped his arms around Holmes tighter. “You thought of everything, haven't you?”

The two of them kissed again, and then Holmes ran his hands through Watson's damp hair, smiling serenely.

“I'd be lost without you,” Watson said quietly.

Lestrade stood slowly, his legs complaining after being cramped in a crouched position for so long. He made his way down the rest of the attic, searching for Mr. Smith, but knowing already that he was not going to find him.

After all, Sherlock Holmes was almost never wrong.

And as Lestrade climbed down the narrow ladder and re-emerged in the hotel hallway, he made his decision. He would leave the two lovers alone.

There was nothing in Holmes or in Watson that had ever led Lestrade to believe them to be depraved. Not before this revelation, and not even now. They did not have the demeanor of men who frequented whore houses, let alone the countenance of molesters.

And Lestrade realized that, if for the last ten years, they had managed to fool him, they could probably continue for the rest of their lives and fool everyone else as well.

Besides. He would be lost without Holmes as well.


Constable Williams stood beside Lestrade and nodded. “Did you find anything of interest, sir?” the constable asked.

Lestrade smiled to himself. “No. Nothing at all.” For some reason, Holmes' insults to Lestrade's intellect suddenly made Lestrade laugh.

Williams looked puzzled. “Sir?”

Lestrade laughed once more, shaking his head. “Mr. Smith is not in the inn, Williams.”

Lestrade made his way towards his own rooms, but stopped suddenly. “Oh, and Williams? Double the guard on the manor at once, will you?”

“Double the guard?” Williams asked skeptically. “Why?”

“I have a hunch.” Lestrade withdrew with a smile.



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