A Mutual Understanding
Jem's Bird

“Come, Watson!”


I could no sooner ignore the imperative tone in that voice than I could stop my heart from beating. This time, however, Holmes’ order was completely superfluous. We had braved the steadily increasing rain for almost twenty minutes while he scoured the scene of the murder on his hands and knees, but when the precipitation thickened into a veritable torrent, I already had decided that I had had enough. I was just on the point of opening my mouth to suggest that we take shelter when my friend leapt to his feet and strode off toward the only structure visible in this lonely field, a small ramshackle hut standing by an ancient stone wall bordering the windswept moor. I followed along in Holmes’ wake, irritably reflecting on why I felt moved to obey this man, even when it meant trudging through knee-deep mud on a bleak March evening at an hour when any sane man would be leaning back into his favourite armchair with pipe and brandy to hand, sated from a good, home-cooked meal, perhaps even stoking up a roaring fire while listening to his good lady wife telling him the news of the day.


I had tried domestic bliss, and had run right back to mystery and danger. My sweet uncomplaining Mary had borne my absences well, but when I lost Holmes in the Reichenbach falls, something cooled between us, although both of us were loath to admit it. We never discussed it, but it was clear that my relationship with Holmes had taken me away from my marriage more often than was strictly proper. Although she was outwardly sympathetic to my loss, she could not help but be relieved that I would no longer be abandoning her at a moment’s notice to follow Holmes into danger. When Mary became pregnant the next year, we were both overjoyed and more than a little relieved; we both believed that this new life would bring us close once again. Then, when Mary died in childbed, the baby stillborn, I died as well. I went through the established habits of my routine, feeling nothing, until that miraculous April day when Holmes reappeared into my life, and once more I found myself following him without question or hesitation.


I was doomed to follow Sherlock Holmes, even through frigid mud in pouring rain, apparently. By the time we reached the hut, we were both thoroughly soaked through, our dripping clothes hanging heavily upon our weary backs. While Holmes pounded upon the door, I huddled in what little shelter the eaves offered. Despite my discomfort, I smiled a little as I wondered what the inhabitants of this dwelling would think upon seeing us, two middle-aged London gentlemen covered in mud and drenched to the bone.


“Why don’t they answer?” I muttered impatiently as the minutes dragged on.


Holmes stepped to the single window and peered through the mud-encrusted pane. “The place seems to be deserted,” said he. “And for quite some time.” He stepped quickly to the door again and tried the lock. He uttered a mild curse as the latch rattled uselessly.


“Don’t you have your lockpicks?” I asked.


“They’re with our luggage,” he answered sharply. “I didn’t think I should be needing them out here.” He frowned up at the sky. The wind had picked up and the clouds still poured out their chilly contents upon us. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon, either.”


“We’ve got to get inside, Holmes,” I said. I could feel my extremities growing numb, and my shoulder, which had been aching all afternoon, now felt as if it were made of lead.


“You have a positive talent for the obvious,” my companion answered, scowling severely at me. His expression softened somewhat, however, when he took in my condition, and he addressed himself to the problem of breaking in without his tools. He first tried to force the lock, but, finding his efforts unsuccessful, turned his attention to the window, eventually breaking a pane to gain entry.


Once he had helped me through the window, he took off his soaking overcoat and stuffed it into the pane. We both surveyed the small single room with some interest. As Holmes had already deduced, it was quite obviously deserted; a thick layer of dust covered the floor and the few simple furnishings that had been too cumbersome to move. A single bed, a large, ill-made dresser, a rustic table with two battered chairs, and a wood-box by the stone fireplace were all that the last tenant had left behind.


I knelt beside the fire-place and lifted the lid of the wood-box, whispering a silent prayer, hoping against hope that there might be some fuel to warm the frigid room.


I looked down in disgust at the empty container.


“Mouse droppings and cobwebs don’t make good combustibles, eh, Watson?”


I spun around to face my friend, not surprised to see his back turned to me as he inspected the dresser. “How in the deuce did you –”


“Did you honestly think the most recent inhabitants would have let loose firewood go to waste? Of course, I did make certain assumptions regarding the habitual state of a neglected wood-box. Was I accurate?”


“You forgot the dead insects,” I answered, shutting the lid.


“A momentary lapse,” said he, shooting me a fleeting smile. “Well, the box itself will burn, and I daresay some of these drawers will suffice.”


“Holmes, do you really think –”


“Needs must, my boy. You’re shivering already.”


“But whoever owns this shed –”


“Left a long time ago. If it soothes your sensibilities, we can ask at the village tomorrow morning. Come on, man, I can hear your teeth chattering from here.”


“Well, we’ll need to split some fine enough for kindling – tomorrow morning?”


Sherlock Holmes fixed me with a steely look, leaving just enough silence for me to hear the pounding of the rain on the roof. “You don’t honestly want to go back out again tonight?”


I smiled despite myself. “And you don’t want to go back to our client just yet.”


“Annoying man, isn’t he? I’d rather take my chances here.” He pulled the lowest drawer from the bureau, and, with a violent effort, broke it apart into pieces. I turned my attention to the chairs, and, selecting the more wobbly of the two, slammed it with all my might against the corner of the fireplace. Soon we had a modest pile of wood laid in the ancient grate, and I was able to light it quickly with the help of three wax vestas and a few pages from Holmes’ notebook.


It was then that I noticed the blood on my companion’s sleeve. “Holmes, your arm –”


He frowned down at the crimson stain spreading at his shoulder. “I didn’t think I had been cut that deep,” said he. “The cold must be numbing my senses.”


I helped him strip off his waistcoat and shirt. The former went upon the remaining chair to dry, the latter I tore into long strips.


“I got that shirt at Lombardier’s in Paris,” Holmes frowned. “It was very expensive.”


“Well, it is now a very expensive bandage,” I answered evenly. “You can charge our client for it. ‘Fixed rates,’ indeed.”


“My dear fellow, you make me sound positively criminal,” he laughed.


I chuckled slightly as I finished dressing the wound. It was only then that I saw the puncture marks on the inside of his lower arm.


I could not help it; I groaned aloud.


Holmes snatched his arm away. “I don’t see why it should matter to you,” said he.


“Holmes, you’re killing yourself.”


“Certainly that is my choice.”


I gave no answer, but instead began divesting myself of my own dripping clothes, moving closer to the fire for warmth, placing my back resolutely toward my companion so he might not see the hurt upon my face.


It did, indeed matter to me, rather too much for my comfort. Ever since his return from the dead, I had regarded him with something approaching reverence, finding myself strangely reluctant to leave his side for any amount of time. At first, I attributed this to my sad double loss coming so close after his disappearance, but as the months went by and we fell back into our old routine together, I still felt every bit as fearful of my companion leaving me again as I was in the days just after his return. Although I had tried to dismiss my fears as foolish nonsense, still, almost a year after our reunion, the thought of Holmes dying was enough to bring tears to my eyes and a pain to my breast. His cocaine habit might be his own choice, but he was not hurting only himself; every injection brought me untold pain even as it deadened his senses. And yet, there were no words I could find to convey these feelings to my friend without appearing a helpless fool or worse. It was with a this sense of bleak hopelessness, then, that I crouched before the fire, stripped to the waist and shivering in the feeble warmth of the meagre flames.


“It looks like we’ll need another drawer,” I heard Holmes say behind me. I ignored him, continuing to stare at the grate, a black mood descending upon me rapidly. I barely heard my companion’s exclamation of surprise, and did not hear his approach, jumping as he wrapped a rough blanket around my shoulders.


“I found this in the bureau,” he explained softly.


I smiled up at him gratefully and reached up for his hand. “Thank you, old friend,” I whispered.


Holmes took my hand and returned my smile, a strange light playing in his eyes. “You’re far too patient with me, you know,” said he, in a voice quite unlike his own.


We remained thus for what seemed like an eternity, me huddled before the fire, Holmes standing above me, our hands clasped, staring into each others’ eyes. I grew more self-conscious with each passing second, and yet I found I could not pull myself away from his gaze, or even take my hand from his. I became acutely aware of the warmth of his fingers in mine, even of the beating of his pulse in my hand. My own heartbeat seemed unnaturally loud in my ears, and yet still we had not moved, both of us frozen in this strange tableau.


Finally, with a squeeze of my hand, Sherlock Holmes turned away, a slight, mysterious smile bending his thin lips. “I’ll put that drawer on the fire, then,” he said, walking slowly to the bureau.


I watched him as he tore the drawer apart, throwing the remains into the grate, then stooping over the flames, rubbing his hands together to warm them. “Holmes,” I said, “you’re shivering. Come share the blanket with me.”


He flinched. There is no other way to describe it; the man I have known to face down murderers and violent criminals without fear flinched at the suggestion that we share a blanket. He did not look at me, but kept staring at the fire. “It’s not you, Watson,” he murmured quietly. “It’s just … I’m not used to …” he trailed off, without finishing his sentence, his eyes never leaving the dancing flames. I watched him carefully; such uncertainty was so unlike my friend, I was not sure what to expect next. He did not continue his thought, and, after a long while of watching him shiver, I decided enough was enough.


“Come on, Holmes,” said I, in the kindest voice I could muster. “You’re freezing. I promise I won’t bite,” I finished with a slight laugh. I stood up and approached him, preparing to wrap the blanket around him.


He shrank away. “I’m fine,” he said, turning away.


“Nonsense. Come here,” I said, and put my arms around him, drawing him into the warmth of the blanket. He put up the briefest of struggles before allowing me to pull him into my embrace. For some reason, this intimacy did not seem strange to me; perhaps it was due to our long years of cohabitation, perhaps it was the influence of our bohemian habits. Whatever the explanation, our close physical proximity sans shirts did not disturb me; rather I felt completely at ease as I enveloped us both in the blanket, then gently sat us down before the fire, comforting him as I would a child, rocking him slightly. To my surprise, the great detective did not object to such attentions, but rather snuggled into my chest with a slight sigh, wrapping his own arms around my waist and leaning his head on my shoulder.


“There,” I whispered, “that isn’t so bad, now, is it?”


He squeezed me tightly. “I’ve never been held like this before,” he admitted in a small voice.


This took me aback somewhat. I frowned at my companion. “That can’t be true,” I said. “Certainly, you must have –”


Holmes cut me off with a rueful shake of his head. “Watson, I’ve never even held a woman’s hand, let alone been embraced like this.”


I chuckled at the thought of Sherlock Holmes in the arms of a woman. Somehow, the image just didn’t fit the man. “I didn’t mean anything like that, old fellow. Surely, your mother –”


He stiffened in my arms. “My mother,” he said in a strange, choking voice, “died less than an hour after I was born.”


I pulled him tighter into my arms, caressing his shoulders. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “I had no idea –”


He shrugged slightly. “I’ve never been very open about my childhood,” he answered quietly.


“Holmes,” I said slowly, “what about your father?”


“Sherringford Holmes,” he replied with some asperity, “disowned me as soon as I came of age. He never forgave me for causing the death of his wife.” These last words came out in something almost like a sob.


I took a deep breath. “No reasonable person could hold an infant responsible for the condition of his birth,” I said with feeling.


“But if I hadn’t been born –”


“Holmes,” I interrupted, hugging him closer, “you are not to blame for your mother’s death, any more than the child that Mary carried was to blame for her death.”


“And if the child had lived?” he asked in a mournful voice.


“If my daughter had lived,” I told him, the tears welling up in my eyes, “I would have cherished her, and given her all the love a child deserves.”


“No one ever loved me,” Holmes whispered.


“Well, I love you,” I said, the words out of my mouth before I even realized what I was saying. “I mean … I …” I shook my head. “No,” I continued firmly. “I shan’t be apologetic for the truth. You are my best friend, and I do love you.” I pulled back slightly to look at his face, expecting to see shock, or even disgust, upon his features in response to such a blatant display of sentiment.


Instead, I was amazed to see Sherlock Holmes, cold, emotionless reasoner, weeping silently, his eyes bright in the dark of this fire-lit shack. He blushed under my scrutiny, bowing his head as a single tear rolled down his cheek. As if in a dream, I reached over and brushed it away, gently stroking his face, tracing the line of his jaw with my forefinger before wrapping my arms around him once more and pulling him to me.


“I love you,” I repeated softly, daring to stroke his raven hair, so soft beneath my fingertips. He trembled at my touch, nuzzling further into my embrace with a ragged sigh, his shoulders quaking with emotion.


Holmes took a deep, quavering breath. “I do not see,” he said in a voice heavy with sorrow, “why you should love me. There is nothing to love.”


“If you honestly see nothing in yourself to love, then you have neither seen nor observed the truth. You might be the master of observing others, but you are blind to your own qualities.”


“Watson, I am perfectly aware –”


“Not if you cannot see what there is in you to love,” I said.


“There isn’t –”


I silenced him by pressing my lips to his forehead. Some small part of me could not believe the audacity of my actions, and yet it felt so right, so completely appropriate. After all, if I was to convince this man that he was worthy of love, could such a gesture really be wrong?


Holmes jumped slightly, and yet I held my lips to his brow, caressing his shoulders with my hands, soothing him until he was quiet once more.


“I love your sense of equality,” I told him. “To you, a person’s station in life means nothing; everyone is entitled to the same justice. I have seen you show the same civility and consideration to a charwoman that you would show to a duchess.”


“Watson, that’s hardly –”


“I love your talent for seeing clearly that which is obscured to the rest of us,” I continued, brushing my lips over his temple. “I love to see the light in your eyes when you grasp the solution to a problem, and I love the dedication with which you follow your deductions through to their logical conclusion.”


“Pshaw! You might as well love a bloodhound for its nose –”


I kissed his cheek, silencing his protest. I could not believe my nerve, and yet I found it easer to allow my lips this liberty than to withdraw. Certainly my friend had not told me to stop, and I found courage in the fact that his arms held me all the tighter as I caressed his cheek with my mouth, whispering my reassurances into his ear.


“I love the music that pours out of you when you play your violin, and I love the light that shines in your eyes when you laugh,” I said, punctuating my words with further kisses upon his cheek and neck. Soon I felt the soft brush of his lips upon my own cheek, sending a shiver of pleasure down my spine. “I love the way we can spend hours together in our sitting room without saying a word, and I even love your meretricious stunt of breaking into my thoughts after such a silence and telling me exactly what is on my mind.” I kissed the bottom of his earlobe, and was rewarded with a tentative kiss to my neck. “I love the way you have let me – and only me – into your private life and heart. I love your flair for the dramatic, your love of your art for its own sake, and your strong, masterful demeanour which engenders such confidence in everyone around you. You are an amazing and unique individual, Sherlock Holmes,” I finished, delivering another kiss to his cheek, “and I love you –”


And then it happened; I turned my head slightly to face him, and our lips brushed together, sending an electric chill through my entire body. We both froze, our mouths barely touching.


“Watson,” he whispered hoarsely, his eyes wide.


There are times in a man’s life when, if he is fortunate, everything becomes clear. Suddenly, I knew exactly why I followed Sherlock Holmes through mud and rain, through storm and sunshine. Everything became absolutely simple, my only course of action completely evident.


I drew him to me, pressing my lips into his, savouring the taste of his mouth. He melted into my kiss, moaning slightly as my tongue flickered over his lips. He returned my kisses, tentatively at first, then with a growing passion that only fuelled my own desire further. I ran my hands over his shoulders and chest, loving the feel of his sinewy muscles and smooth skin against mine as our mouths pressed deeper together.


Holmes pulled away, his grey eyes shining in the firelight. “Watson, are you sure you want to do this? The law –”


“The law be damned,” I muttered, grabbing his chin and answering him with a fervent kiss. He responded by sinking down to the floor, pulling me atop him, our legs twining together. I could feel his arousal rubbing against me, and my own member swelled deliciously as we ground our hips together.


Once again, Holmes pulled back. “Watson, I don’t –”


I gave him my most stern look. “Holmes,” I said, “if you don’t wish to do this, then you should say so now. But if this protest is merely born of a sense of mislaid propriety –”


He smiled, a great sigh of relief escaping his lips. “I … I’ve never even considered myself a sexual being. But now … Watson, I am willing. But I have no idea how to proceed.”


I placed a gentle kiss upon his forehead, and felt his lips touch my neck. I clasped him to my breast, holding him tight. “Well,” I said with an embarrassed laugh, “I have no experience with this, either.”


“Well, you’ve made love to a woman,” he replied with another soft kiss to my neck. “In fact, I believe you claim three continents’ worth of sexual experience.”


“That was a bit of an exaggeration, old fellow,” I answered, blushing. “But, even so –”


“Even so,” Holmes said, “it can’t be much different from being with a woman.”


“There might be a few differences,” I said, grinning.


“Well, I shall certainly defer to your experience, exaggerated or not. Though, really, I do think –”


“Enough talk,” I growled, taking possession of his mouth in a wild kiss, my tongue demanding entry and brooking no refusal, our combined lust driving away any thoughts of impropriety or inexperience. However tenderly this encounter had begun, however innocently we had started our loving, we now threw ourselves into the breach with wild abandon, exploring this new passion without hesitation or shame.


“Sit up a moment,” he murmured eventually, caressing my chest and abdomen. His hands paused at the waistband of my trousers, and he looked up at me, asking silent permission.


I took his hand and placed it upon the bulge at my groin, nodding slightly. His thin lips curved into a smile as he slowly undid my flies, and I gasped in pleasure as his long fingers curled around my burgeoning cock, gently caressing my length. My own hands found his fly-buttons, and soon we were stroking each other in rhythm, staring into each others’ eyes, groaning softly in sweet delight. Slowly he lifted his hips and touched the tip of his cock to mine, taking both of our stiff rods into his hand, rubbing them together as I bent forward to kiss his lips once more. I moaned eagerly into his mouth as he stroked our pricks together with one hand, while his other hand crept around behind and into my trousers, caressing my bottom. Already I felt myself nearing my climax, and I began thrusting my hips against his to increase our joined friction.


“Wait,” he said, pulling away.


I growled, biting his neck. He chuckled and sat up, sliding out from underneath me, the wool blanket laying forgotten beside us.


“I’ll put some more wood on the fire,” he said, kissing me gently. “And I think we can get rid of the rest of our clothing.”


I gladly stripped naked as Holmes tore apart the last two bureau drawers and threw them on the fire, then I helped him out of his own trousers, falling to my knees before him, my face level with his manhood, a beautiful red pego, stiff and throbbing, surrounded by a dense bush of thick black hair, with a pendulous sac hanging below. I had seen Holmes naked before, in our own bathroom and at the Turkish baths, but I had never before seen him in a state of sexual excitement, or been so close to him in this manner. I reached out and stroked his length from base to tip, savouring the feeling of the soft skin of his hard member before turning my attention to his ballsac, gently cradling it in my hand.


I will admit a moment of uncertainty as I leaned closer to his rampant prick. Here I was, about to put another man’s penis in my mouth. Did that make us a couple of perverts? In the eyes of the law, we had already strayed well beyond the line, but this was a step further, and I paused, my heart suddenly at my throat.


As if reading my thoughts, Holmes touched my cheek gently, smiling down at me. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, my love.”


It was the ‘my love’ that did it. If Sherlock Holmes could bring himself to use such an endearment, then I could do this. Without further hesitation, I pressed my lips to the tip of his cock, closing my eyes and allowing my tongue to flicker over his glans and into the opening of his urethra, tasting his salty essence. I opened my mouth further and sucked him in, lowering my head onto him until I had most of his length inside. I recalled a prostitute in Afghanistan who had serviced me thus, and I did my best to imitate her technique, sliding my lips up and down slowly while caressing his sac with my hand.


Holmes laid his hands upon my shoulder, throwing his head back in delight. “That feels amazing,” he moaned softly. “Oh, my sweet John, yes …”


I had never seen my friend so transformed before, and I redoubled my efforts, my heart bursting with sudden joy that I could please him so. He began to rock his hips gently, murmuring my name over and over again with such reverence in his voice that I found myself overcome with emotion. When he made as if to pull away, I gleaned his intention and pulled him back to me, thrusting his cock down my throat just as he spent himself, pouring gushing jets of sweet seed into my mouth. I swallowed all he had to give, licking him tenderly, slowly laving his twitching rod with my tongue until he was finished, then kissing my way up his torso until I reached his mouth.


He kissed me hungrily, wrapping his arms tight around me, trembling with his recent exertion. Still kissing passionately, we laid back down upon the floor, with Holmes atop me, his hands caressing my back and shoulders with shaking fingers, finally nuzzling into my chest with a great sigh of contentment.


He did not linger there long, but worked his way down my body, trailing his lips over my abdomen. Then I felt his warm lips upon my prick, his tongue tickling the tip, and I groaned with the sheer pleasure of it, running my fingers through his hair. He took my whole length into his hot mouth, sucking with such vigour that I felt he might draw my very soul out through my manhood. All too soon, I felt my climax exploding from the base of my cock, the delicious tingle setting every nerve aflame. I tried to pull away, but Holmes gave a slight growl and pushed me deeper into his mouth, swallowing my issue just as I had done for him. Once I had spent my load completely, he laid beside me, snuggling into my arms. We lay there for a long time, trading tender kisses.


“I love you, John,” he sighed.


I gasped in shock, quite unable to believe the words I had just heard. He chuckled softly and continued, calmly tracing idle patterns upon my chest with a single finger.


“You find it strange for me to express such feelings, don’t you? What was your phrase? ‘A brain without a heart’?”


“Holmes, I sincerely regret –”


“I did not mean it reproachfully. Up until this evening, I should have agreed wholeheartedly with such an assessment.”


“And now?”


Sherlock Holmes shrugged, his fingertip still describing lazy circles upon my breast. “You know my axiom that when one eliminates the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. I have just had a sexual encounter with you, my best friend. It follows that I am either a cad, a pervert, or in love. I am not a cad, and I do not believe myself to be a pervert. The supposition that I am in love with you is not as unlikely as it seems, for I have always held you in the highest regard. Indeed, you are the only person in this world for whom I have any kind of emotional attachment whatsoever.”


My heart felt as if it would burst with elation at this admission, and I pulled his mouth to mine, my lips trembling as we exchanged a soft, lingering kiss. When we withdrew, I could feel the pinpricks of tears starting at the corners of my eyes.


He flashed me a lightning-quick smile, and gently touched my cheek. “I do hope that those are tears of happiness, John.”


“They are tears of joy, old friend,” I said, my voice trembling. “I never imagined it could be this way between us.” And yet, for all my delight, a shadow of fear crept into my heart. “Holmes, you always said that emotions would cloud your judgement. But if we have become …” I dared not finish the sentence.


Holmes frowned thoughtfully. “You are right, of course,” he said slowly. “But I do not think I would be able go back to the way we were before, and I certainly know that I do not wish to do so, even if I could.” He stared at the waning fire for a long moment, his fingers absently stroking my chest. I was struck immediately by the expression; I had seen it often enough when he pondered a difficult problem, and knew enough to allow him the space to think it through. Sure enough, I soon recognized the gleam in his eye which meant he had either come to a solution or an impasse. He kissed me on the lips and then rose to his feet in a graceful, catlike movement.


“We forgot the wood-box,” he said conversationally, lifting it up and thrashing it to pieces against the edge of the hearth. He threw the pieces onto the fire and then returned to me.


“Well?” I asked, wrapping the blanket around us once more. “What do you think?”


“I think we shall need to take apart the table, and possibly the other chair,” he said evenly.


“You know I wasn’t talking about the fire,” I rebuked him.


His voice grew oddly cold. “You know my methods, Watson. I refuse to come to any conclusions before I have all the data.”


I pinched the bridge of my nose, and reminded myself upon the virtues of  patience. I took a deep breath. “My dear Holmes,” said I, “this is not an intellectual exercise. This is love.”


He shot me a sudden agonized look. “I’m not going to be able to solve this one, am I?”


“No one ever has.”


He lifted an eyebrow. “That sounds like a challenge to me.”


“Do me a favour, Holmes. If you do solve it,” said I, laughing, “don’t tell me. I don’t want to know the solution. And do yourself – and us – a favour,” I continued, growing suddenly serious. “Don’t try to solve this one. Just accept my love for what it is. If you don’t allow yourself to feel every nuance of love, for all its ups and downs, you will be cheating both of us.”


Together we stared into the fire for a long time.


“You know how loath I am to admit ignorance,” he continued slowly. “I do not like to be confused. I have no idea how this development in our relationship shall affect my intellectual capabilities. However, I am perfectly certain that I do not wish to change these new circumstances.” He took a deep breath. “I … need this,” he said, kissing my cheek with a sudden fervour, “and yet, I am … that is, I think …” he shook his head, and tried again. “I have trod through the slime that grows on the underbelly of civilization, stared down the wrong end of more firearms than I wish to remember, and even wrestled on the edge of an alpine waterfall before scaling its cliffs. But I can’t remember being more … frightened … than I am right now.”


I pressed my lips to his forehead. “I can understand your fear. I’m rather terrified myself. But you must remember that I am with you, and you can depend upon me – for anything.”


“Good old Watson,” Holmes murmured.


He nuzzled into my neck with a contented sigh, and I could feel his muscles relax. I pulled him into a long, tender kiss, and we lapsed once more into silence as our lips and tongues met in a luxurious dance.


“I have never felt such strong emotions before,” he continued after a long while, “but if this is what love is like, then I can assure you that I shall never need the cocaine-bottle again.”


A sudden wave of emotion rolled over me as I heard these words, and I swept up his arm in mine, drawing his inner elbow to my lips and fervently kissing each one of the pinpricks there. Holmes pulled me up to his mouth again, and this time our embrace grew beyond simple affection as our desires were roused once more.


“So should we tear apart the bed for firewood, as well?” I said, nibbling his earlobe. “Or should we make use of it?”


“We should leave it where it is,” said my companion with a laugh. “The mice that left their calling cards in the wood-box have been sharing it with a variety of insects and other assorted vermin. I checked earlier.”


“On second thought, I’m quite comfortable here by the fire.” I ran my hands over his naked chest. “My darling Sherlock ….” I paused. “I’m sorry, old fellow, but that name …”


My friend chuckled wryly. “It doesn’t lend itself well to an intimate moment, does it?”


“No,” I agreed. “Do you have a middle name?”


“Actually, that is my middle name. I thought it sounded rather more mysterious and dangerous than my actual Christian name.”


“Which is?”




William Sherlock Holmes?”


“William Sherlock Scott Holmes. Old man Sherringford is a pretentious blackguard.”


“I think it’s a fine name.”


“Fine, yes, but rather too wholesome for a detective. If you want a banker or a solicitor, then William is your man. But in my profession, people expect something a little more exotic, a little less conventional.”


“Actually, it suits you. My dear William.”


“Only if you must,” he groaned, rolling his eyes.


“Then perhaps I should put it like this,” I murmured, kissing his cheek. “I love you, my dearest William,” I whispered in his ear, grinning with satisfaction as he shuddered in my arms.


“Sweet mother of God,” he breathed, clasping me to his breast. “That mere words can have such power over the emotions! I’m beginning to understand why people commit murder for these feelings.”


I bit his neck gently. “These are all worthy observations, but right now I’d like to do something else with my lips than talk.” I began to slide my hands over his body, my loins stirring into life once more at the feel of his skin beneath my fingertips.


Holmes kissed my neck. “This is definitely better than cocaine,” he sighed, as my lips trailed down to his chest. He gasped with pleasure as I sucked upon his right nipple, teasing it gently with my tongue. He rolled onto his back and I hovered over him, slowly licking and tasting every inch of his flesh, moving lower in slow, leisurely circles. I worked my way down his abdomen, tracing the contours of his muscles, kissing his navel, moving downward with painstaking slowness. His cock already stood waiting for my touch, but I deliberately bypassed it, licking the insides of his thighs before turning my attention to his ballsac. This time there was no hesitation; I gladly buried my face against the soft hair of his scrotum, gently sucking each testicle into my mouth before releasing them once more as Holmes twitched and moaned under my ministrations, his trembling hands resting upon my shoulders. When I finally drew his waiting cockstand into my mouth, he let loose with a heartfelt sigh of delight, his hips rising off the floor as I opened my throat and took his length as deeply as I could. I let one of my hands steal down to my own stiff member, anticipating the feeling of my lover’s lips upon it.


Suddenly, an image from a book I had seen many years ago came to my mind. Granted, the illustration had been of a man and a woman, but it would work just as well for us … I sat up, laying a single finger upon his lips when he groaned in disappointment.


“I just wanted to change positions,” I told him, smiling, turned so that my head rested just at his thigh, and his head lay alongside mine. He understood immediately and wasted no time, wrapping his wiry arms around my hips and pulling my straining cock to his hungry mouth. I resumed my efforts upon his pego, laving it and tickling the tip briefly before sucking him inside my mouth once more. The energy of our pleasuring increased in a circular fashion; as I grew more excited from his attentions, so I sped up my own motions and fuelled his desires. He pulled me deeper inside his throat, grasping my buttocks with strong fingers. I kneaded his thighs as I sucked his cock harder, my head bobbing up and down furiously. This time, when we came to completion, neither of us tried to pull away, but we poured our essence into each other, Holmes starting with a low moan, and my own climax beginning before his seed had stopped gushing into my waiting mouth. We lay thus for a long time, our softening pricks still in each others’ mouths, our hands caressing each others’ bodies with complete intimacy and ease.


Eventually I found the strength to change positions again, tasting myself upon his lips as we exchanged a sleepy kiss.


I nestled into his chest, sighing deeply. “I love you, William.”


Holmes kissed my forehead, ruffling my hair. “I love you, John.”



We listened to the crackling of the fire, caressing each other lazily until we drifted off to sleep.


I do not know which awakened me first; the light or the cold. Certainly the morning sunlight streaming through the open window landed squarely in my eyes, but the fire had gone out sometime in the night, and Holmes’ overcoat no longer blocked the draft. However, the blanket had been draped carefully over me, and a crude pillow fashioned from my clothes and Holmes’ waistcoat, in the pocket of which was a small piece of paper torn from his notebook. I smiled as I read the words:


My dear Watson [it said]: I hope to be back before you wake, but in case I am not, I have left enough wood and a few leaves of my notebook to start another fire. Certain points of this case have made themselves clear this morning, and I shall be returning with that hapless Inspector Russell. You will see a trapdoor near the corner of the hearth that we both overlooked last night; do not open it until I arrive.   – WSH


The added ‘W,’ which even I could deduce had been added after he signed the habitual initials, told me everything I needed to know. Of course, I had already read the unspoken message implicit in his arranging the blanket and leaving his waistcoat for my pillow, as well as his taking the trouble to lay a fire before running off to pursue the case. With my heart so full of joy, I needed no fire to warm me; I quickly dressed and left the shack, eagerly waiting for Holmes in the chilly sunshine of an early spring morning. I sat upon the rock wall and lit a cigarette, grinning out at the field where the grisly murder that had brought us here – and to each other – had taken place. This morning it was simply beautiful; the ground was touched with iridescent frost gleaming in the sun.


“I agree, Watson,” said Holmes’ voice at my ear. “It is rather ironic, that the site of such a ghastly crime could have such beauty.” His lips brushed my neck, and I flinched with shock, looking guiltily around.


“I assure you, dear friend,” he continued with a laugh, “we are the only two human beings within a furlong of this spot. That dunderhead of a local tyrant can’t wrap his mind around the concept of anyone but our client’s son as the murderer, even when presented with incontrovertible evidence. We’re going to have to go back to London and get a warrant, and possibly Lestrade as well. He owes me a favour or five, I daresay.”


I turned to face my companion, who grasped my chin and brought my mouth to his in a passionate kiss. He stepped back and gazed down at me for a long time.


“You have the most beautiful eyes, John,” he murmured, and gave me a brief kiss on the lips before whirling around with a sudden air of decision. “Come on, we can catch the eight-fifteen into King’s Cross, and I’ll explain on the way …”


I smiled and set off in Holmes’ wake. I was destined to follow Sherlock Holmes, but at least now, I knew why.



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