Since our return, the storm which had initially provided a cover for our
evening's activities had all but passed. Rain still fell, but only in the light
drizzle that was so familiar to the residents of our fair city that it could
hardly be considered rain at all. For a time, Holmes and I remained in
comfortable silence by the window, each watching the steady fall illuminated
against the gas lamp across the street, along with the slow return to activity
below our vantage point.
Eventually the day and the evening's turn of
events began to take its toll upon me and I shifted my gaze from the window to
the man beside me. Holmes had always possessed a striking profile, tonight
however my friend's worn appearance showed him for the man he was – not the
heartless creation I had accused him of being, but a man just like myself, made
of flesh and bone, and as deserving of love as any other I had ever met.
I drew a breath, sobered some by the true depths of my feelings and what
I knew I would offer the world's only consulting detective if only he would
accept it from me.
“Holmes?” I began.
Although he did not turn
from the view I knew instinctively that he had heard me and that I should
“If you are agreeable, there is something about which I think
we should speak.”
“A new case, Watson?”
I shook my head no. “An
old one,” I returned. “One that should have been given the attention it deserved
With his innate sense of curiosity piqued Sherlock Holmes
turned to face me.
“The details man,” he demanded. “Riddles will not provide
answers -- only the facts.”
He was right of course. Nothing could be
gained by skirting a subject once it had been raised.
courage I opened my mouth to speak, intending as I had all a long to tell him
the truth. It was at that moment however, as Holmes and I regarded one another,
that I experienced a strange feeling of deja vu. It was similar I realised in
many ways to other occasions during our association when I had planed to tell
him something, only to discover that he had already guessed my news. I could not
for the life of me imagine how he knew what I was about to say, but something in
his gaze told me it was true.
Unsure of what this new piece of
information meant, or if in fact my suspicions were showing on my face I stepped
away, returning once again to the fireplace to the study the flames steadily
licking at the grate. If I had been obvious in my attractions towards Holmes
then surely he would have made some remark, or alerted me to the dangers of such
behaviour in some other way?
I searched my memory but could think of no
such time, except...
As if my world was turning on end, my mind suddenly
recalled, amongst other things, the disagreement we had earlier today. Holmes
had accused me of jealousy and I had denied his accusation fervently, too
fervently it seemed.
Folding my arms protectively across my chest I
closed my eyes momentarily and shook my head. I was a fool, a blind fool who
after years of cohabitation with Holmes should have known better than to ever
think that just because he paid little attention to the softer emotions it did
not mean he could not recognise them in others.
It should not surprise
me that Holmes would know before me, it was his business of course to know what
others did not, and yet I felt a wave irritation roll over me.
have you known?” I inquired, at last unfolding my arms and dropping them to my
During my brief reverie Holmes had gravitated from the window to
stand along side me. His close proximity never as confounding as it was at that
“That your interest in my well-being exceeded the common place,”
he returned curiously. “Or that the interest in question had reached a point of
Contrary to what I already knew to be true I found
his cold deduction and the recounting of my predicament as if it were no more
than a trifle taken from the personal columns, more than I could stand.
“My God man, you might have said something,” I admonished, my irritation
quickly turning to anger though I had no real understanding of why. Holmes might
very well be the most infuriating man I had ever met, but I had never known him
to be intentionally unkind to me, or to anyone else for that matter.
Thankfully he remained calm in the face of my small outburst. “I had
honestly hoped that no course of action would be necessary,” he remarked gently.
“However, that seems to be a miscalculation on my part.”
I thought once
more of the unfortunate occurrence in my bedroom when Holmes had walked in on me
and felt my face heat uncomfortably at the memory. While it was obvious that my
discomfort had not escaped my friend’s keen observation he merely nodded on this
occasion, silently acknowledging the difficulty of the situation before he then
moved to collect our empty brandy glasses.
As soon as Holmes's back was
turned to me I let out a breath and reached out to steady myself against the
mantel. Truly I did not know what to make of it all. I had been resigned to tell
him how I felt, expecting, I am not entirely sure what to happen, and yet
everything about it now seemed ludicrous -- beyond impossible. I shot a glance
towards the sitting room door, wondering if perhaps I might make good an escape,
but found the option torn from my grasp as he turned to face me once
“I think under the circumstances Watson, we might indulge beyond
our usual,” he commented, holding aloft our refilled glasses, and appearing, at
least on the surface to be decidedly more at ease with our current state of
affairs than I.
Not knowing what else to do I took the proffered glass I
sipped hesitantly at its content. Unlike Holmes I was not convinced that more
brandy at this point was a good idea. In the matter of minutes I had experienced
a full range of conflicting emotions, fear and outrage amongst them, and I had
no desire to add alcoholic induced confusion to the mix. It was only after I had
lowered my glass to once again meet his gaze did it occur to me that perhaps it
was Holmes who felt the need for a little extra courage. The thought struck me
as out of character, but like many things that had occurred tonight I was given
no time to ponder what if anything it meant.
“Now,” he said, indicating
toward my previously vacated chair. “You promised me an explanation and I should
very much like to hear it.”
I glanced once more at the door, weighing
the odds of Holmes simply allowing me to change my mind without challenge to
what has already passed between us, but conceded that I would undoubtedly live
to regret the division such a decision would cost our friendship.
until I had reseated myself Holmes also sat. Turning slightly to face me he gave
me one of his rare smiles, assuring me that no matter what I had to say he would
The realisation filled me with hope and despite the false start
we had endured and my new found knowledge that Holmes already knew of my secret,
my words came surprisingly easy. I began by telling him of my first impressions
upon our introduction by young Stamford many years ago, and how what had started
out as an arrangement of convenience for both us had evolved into so much more
I also told him, that although I could not give an accurate
account of just when my feelings of brotherly affection had surpassed acceptable
bounds, I knew I would never impose myself upon him if he opposed the idea of
broadening our relationship to a more intimate level. Indeed, if he found either
my proposal or presence repugnant to him then I would leave Baker Street this
very night if he wished it.
There was more of course. Being a man of
words there was much more I wanted to say but Holmes waved all further attempts
to explain myself aside. It was not necessary he said. As was any suggestion
that I leave our home.
At length Holmes rose to collect his pipe from
its resting place above the heath. I watched and waited expectantly as he lit it
and proceeded to smoke for some time in silence, but he made no further attempts
to converse with me or to acquire any more details about what I had
I felt decidedly relieved to have finally unburdened myself, but I
was also very unsure as to how I might go about my daily life with Holmes
knowing I was not the man he had trusted all the years we had shared rooms. If
he was not prepared to accept my offer of a more involved relationship, then it
was my wish to continue as we always had, and yet, now I could not help but
wonder if that was going to be possible.
Having listened patiently to my
disclosure Holmes had in fact given me very little to gauge his actual reaction
to it. Other than knowing I was not at any immediate risk of being without
lodgings, I had discovered little else. Of course, the fact that I had given
Holmes a great deal to think about had not escaped my understanding and while I
craved an answer now, I knew it would be best if I retired for the night and
left him alone with his thoughts.
I yawned and the ageing construct of
my chair signed in audible relief as I stood slowly. I expected Holmes to turn;
to address me, but when he did not, I simply announced my intentions in the
plainest possible terms. Years of experienced had taught me that it would do no
good to press him when he was working on a case or some other problem, and I
prepared to take my leave of him as I had a thousand times before.
not quite made it to the door however, before I found myself waylaid.
know you are tired Watson, but if I could possibly persuade you to stay a little
longer, I would consider myself deeply in your debt.”
Holmes's voice was
apologetic and his profile somber. It was a rare combination, one that never
failed to reawaken my empathetic nature. Barely suppressing another yawn I
stepped forward again.
“Of course, Holmes, what is it?”
in mind an experiment of sorts,” he explained, “but it will require your
assistance, my friend.”
I nodded my agreement, not even bothering to
inquire what exactly I was agreeing to – such was, and always has been the level
of trust between us. It did occur to me though, that perhaps I had been rather
remiss in this when I noted my friend carefully locking the sitting room door
and adjusting the grate to the fire.
“It is quite all
right Watson; I am simply ensuring that we are not disturbed.”
would think we would be interrupted when the hour was well past midnight
perplexed me greatly, but I found myself otherwise distracted as he then took up
a familiar position in front of the heath. Extending one long arm across the
mantel and regarding me in a manner reminiscent of the self-assured Holmes I was
It might sound like complete folly on my part, and was more
accurately the results of our most eventful day, but it appeared that Holmes was
in fact posing himself for me and for a moment I indulged myself in thoughts of
going to him where he stood and kissing him. Of course I did nothing of the
sort, and in the absence of an alternative I simply listened as he proceeded to
provide not so much the particulars of his plan, but an explanation for it.
“As you are aware,” he began slowly. “Prior to your arrival here I have
lived a solitary, yet satisfying existence. I have no family other than my
brother Mycroft, few acquaintances and no friends other than your good self to
speak of. For the most part I have been happy with the choices I have made. I am
not an emotional being as you know and I desire little in the way of
This was all information that was well known to me and I
nodded at what I perceived to be the appropriate intervals, receiving by way of
acknowledgment a small, almost undetectable quirking of his lips before he
“You see my dear fellow while your presence in my life is
useful at times, it is not always conductive to the one I have chosen free of
emotional entanglement and responsibility. I must admit that when we first
agreed to share rooms I did not realise that I had also agreed to your meddling
in my personal habits.”
I made an attempt to interject at this point, to
defend my concerns for his wellbeing as those of a medical professional, but
Homes would not have it and stopped me a with look that allowed for no such
“Indeed,” he went on. “If I had known I would have to
suffer your interference in exchange for a share in the rent I would have
declared our agreement null and void the day you moved in.”
I had to
smile. I was very accustomed to Holmes's lengthy discourses into how, if he had
his time over again, he would choose a less crowded household, or at least a
flat mate who was more involved in his own pursuits and less concerned with the
daily activities of others.
I crossed my arms. “And what made you change
your mind?” I inquired.
In all honestly I expected another taunt from
Holmes, but instead of further accounts about our less than satisfactory living
arrangements, his face grew suddenly serious and his eyes darted away briefly to
study the rug at our feet before they were raised once more to meet my own. “You
did,” he replied.
It is difficult to describe what happened next, what
exactly allowed me to move toward him and lay a tentative hand upon his
“It is true,” he returned, releasing his hold
on the mantel to cover my hand, squeezing it gently. “I have never met anyone
like you and as much as I have tried to rid myself entirely of emotional
attachment, and live solely for my profession, I see now it has all been for
I shook my head. “I don't understand. It was never my intention
to interfere with you work, or to take you from it. I have only ever wanted to
be of service, Holmes...to love you.”
As if the mere mention of the
words had caused Holmes some indescribable pain his hand closed like a vice
around my own, startling me with his strength and the look of defeat upon his
face. While our earlier conversation had allowed me to share a great deal and
there could be no doubt of my intentions towards him I had not told Holmes that
I love him in so many words. Hearing them now though, and seeing the effect they
had upon him, I understood why he avoided them so.
“Is it so terrible?” I
“It is not what I wanted.”