Mary Morstan’s early life was lonely and drab. Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father spent most of his life stationed in India. During her formative years, Mary attended Stonyhurst Boarding School which seemed to exist only in shades of grey, from the stiff woolen uniforms and perpetually overcast skies, to the dour, unfriendly faces of her schoolmarms.
When she was twelve, Mary went to Somerset to spend the summer on her uncle’s dairy farm, and the world suddenly sprang to life. Clean country sunshine rose on a field of bright yellow daffodils, and lit the pastures in a dozen different hues of green and gold over the course of a day. Verdant hills rolled to a a peak that overlooked a tiny black and white cobblestone village some miles in the distance. On especially hot days, Mary bathed in the sparkling brook that zigzagged behind the barn, and followed the scent of meadowsweet to where it widened into a frothy river flanked by knotted ancient chestnuts.
Mary shared a room with her cousin Jonas, who was four years her elder. Jonas was a tall, attractive lad with a mess of light brown hair and misty almond eyes. He was polite to her, and kind, but kept mostly to himself. From the top of the tallest hill, Mary would often see his lean figure slouched against the large oak tree where he liked to read. Sometimes he let her accompany him to the barn to milk the cows, but he said little to her even as they worked side by side.
When the neighbor’s son David came to stay with them, however, there was a drastic change in the house. Mary knew it the moment David’s father bustled him into the sitting room for introductions. David was slightly shorter than Jonas, with ash-blond hair and a pensive aura that suggested wisdom beyond his sixteen years. And when David locked eyes with Jonas, Mary felt the atmosphere of the room charge with a magnetic energy so potent her insides glowed magenta and made her blush.
From that day on, the two boys were inseparable. Where Jonas had once been perfectly content to do everything alone, he now appeared to require David’s company everywhere he went. The two often stayed up late at night talking, and when Mary awoke at dawn next to any empty bed she could still hear them deep in conversation in the barn across from the house.
One afternoon Mary’s uncle went to town to sell milk, leaving her with instructions to tidy the hayloft. She retrieved a broom from the shed and headed towards the barn, but the strains of soft moaning stopped her in her tracks. She wondered if one of the boys was injured, but sensed there was something other than pain behind the keens and sighs that floated towards her. She climbed the ladder on the north side of the barn and cautiously peered through the dirt-spackled window.
Jonas and David were kneeling together on a bed of hay, kissing and undressing each other between the dusty gold shafts of sunlight that poured through the rafters. Mary’s eyes widened as she watched the boys nudge each other’s trousers to their knees, their stiff cocks bouncing into the gauzy light like a pair of pink gourds. They tumbled onto the yellow-brown hay in a tangle of awkward limbs, appearing to wrestle until Jonas pinned David beneath him and scooted down his torso.
Mary’s own body warmed with its first flush of desire when Jonas took David’s prick into his mouth and teased it with his tongue. The flush in David's cheeks darkened from pale rose to bright strawberry as Jonas slowly pushed his lips down David’s shaft. David crooned and arched his back, absently raking his hand through Jonas’s hair.
Knowing nothing of sexual release, Mary thought their activity was simply borne of casual, intimate curiosity. But David soon began thrusting into Jonas’s mouth faster, as if he was overcome by a desperate fit. With his head thrown back, David pawed blindly at Jonas’s bobbing head, gripping it in place at the moment he called out his lover’s name. Something must have happened to him then because the pinch of concentration melted from his face as his body trembled and he let out an indulgent groan. Finally, he went still and then it was Jonas’s turn.
Mary could think about little else besides her cousin and his friend after that. She would stare at them at the supper table and imagine the way they had looked in the hayloft, their sun-bronzed hands grasping at each other’s skin, the rustle of soft grunts becoming sharp and emphatic, the deepening pinks of aroused flesh swelling purple with need. Their passion was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
She was thinking about them on the day she crossed the brook over a fallen tree. She straddled the broad trunk and inched along the smooth bark until she was halfway across, then closed her eyes and listened to the water flowing sensuously beneath her. She leaned forward, pressed her cheek to the wood and wrapped her limbs around it.
Mary recalled how David’s spidery legs had fallen open when Jonas lowered his head between them, how eagerly he swung his hips forward when Jonas lapped at his cock and pulled at his own whenever David murmured in assent. Without realizing it, she began undulating her own hips just as David had done, first making small circles and then grinding more forcefully into the hard wood until the sweet echo of David’s ecstatic cry sent her into a liquid abyss.
Suddenly she was swimming in her own body and the world became saturated with watercolours. Pinks burst to burgundies, seeped into plums and azures and emeralds, flashed to goldenrods and tangerines, and swirled and mingled and bled inside the exquisite vibrations of her first orgasm.
* * *
Mary became the boys’ secret ally. She conjured ways to distract her uncle so David and Jonas could spend long periods alone together, and even found reasons to convince him to make extra trips into town. She oiled the hinges on the door to the hayloft so they would not be heard sneaking into it at night.
Mary went about her own duties with watchful eyes and ears as though she had been charged with protecting a rare and elusive bird. Nothing brought so much excitement to her breast as the low rumble that signaled a nearby tryst. Her heart would race with anticipation as the sounds of love led her to empty cattle stalls, the abandoned wood shed, or a bend in the riverbank, where she often spotted two pairs of legs scissoring loosely beyond a patch of tall grass, taut calves and flexed feet rutting more insistently until they clutched one another in the grip of climax.
Such visions were Mary’s muses on those long summer days, warm and ripe and wet and blossoming with young sexuality.
But they would not last.
It was suppertime in late July when her uncle announced that David would be going away. Mary’s heart froze with their shocked expressions, and she blurted out in protest before she remembered her place. It was unnatural for two boys to be so close, her uncle had said. David’s father found him an apprenticeship in London. He would be leaving the following morning.
That night Mary could not sleep. The dreadful hush that followed her uncle’s decision hung suspended in the stagnant, suffocating air of her room. She ached with sorrow and regret, both for her cousin and for the impending loss of her radiant world. She was as distressed by the sudden invasion as she was by the thought that she might never find it again.
Unwilling to surrender to the encroaching melancholy, Mary crept downstairs and into the night in search of a sign that love could prevail.
The pale yellow moon illuminated the north end of the barn where her customary ladder seemed to beckon her towards the second-story window. But there were no ecstatic sounds of lovemaking, no sensuous rhythms of creaking wood or joyous cries of completion, only the occasional snuffle of soft weeping and a shaking sigh. The faint grey silhouette in the corner of the hayloft where the boys were lying together remained still.
The last vestiges of Mary's hopes distorted with tears before falling at her feet. Her innocence was gone, not because she had watched two boys make love together, nor because a fascinating journey of self-discovery had followed, but because she realized then that what was right in Nature could be so cruelly extinguished by the whim of an ignorant adult.
August dropped its humid veil and brought the late summer rains, muting the vibrant colours that had once made the world seem so impossibly vivid. Jonas had withdrawn into a shroud of disappointment, barely raising his head to speak to anyone and spending most of his days hunched sadly underneath his oak tree.
Three weeks later, Mary returned to Stonyhurst.
* * *
When she was seventeen, Mary moved to London to attend the Governesses Benevolent Institution. The ceaseless clamor of the city both excited and frightened her, but she soon found comfort in the underground’s secret hideouts where the shades of humanity spanned a wider spectrum than polite society was willing to tolerate.
Mary’s roommate Alice shared her unconventional curiosities, and on the weekends they donned trousers and bowler hats in order to visit certain social clubs where men and women danced with members of their own sex. Mary’s body tingled with the now familiar sense of sexual anticipation as she observed strong masculine hands encircling one another, tall imposing bodies leaning together in slow dances, and sometimes, if she was lucky, a surreptitious kiss on the lips.
Sometimes Mary and Alice experimented together in the bed they shared. Mary enjoyed the feeling of a soft, voluptuous form moving against hers, but from this her body only yielded lemon yellows and fuzzy violets. She craved the bottomless jewel tones she first experienced as a girl, when the vision of gangly-limbed adolescent boys bumping together on a bed of hay made her come in rich marigolds and deep mulberries.
Mary left the Institution when she found work with the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester. The starched formalities of middle-class Victorian family life offered no intrigue whatsoever, certainly not when Mr. Forrester propositioned her one night in the drawing room. Mary’s stomach churned with revulsion when he leaned towards her with a greedy, toadish grin, his sallow hand taking possession of her shoulder. She curtly rebuffed his advances and retreated to the safety of her room in frustrated distress. The beauty and excitement she sought was becoming ever more remote.
And then Fate delivered her into the strange world of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.
Mary knew right away that she was in the presence of something powerful. Mr. Holmes was all black and white, his milky skin rendering his sharp features more severe, and his long ebony coats swirling elegantly around his tall frame when he moved. Dr. Watson reminded her of the ocean with his ice blue eyes and sandstone hair, clearly the serene counterpart to his friend and colleague’s more uneven temperament. The two men orbited each other like satellites, and the looks that passed between them evinced a slow, gradual seduction that thrilled Mary to the core.
She knew if she could secure a place in their world she could protect them from the kind of intrusion that had thwarted the relationship between Jonas and David. She could recover her Muse, and live out her days in heady proximity to homosexual love.
She would have taken either one, but it was Dr. Watson who responded to her subtle show of interest. They courted while Mr. Holmes solved the mystery surrounding her father’s death.
Mr. Holmes watched them from a distance, muted and disturbed by the loss of attention from the only person who shared in his darkly chaotic world of chemicals and crime. Mary’s presence awakened something in him—a sense of ownership perhaps, and an overpowering need to stake a physical claim where there had been none before.
But he remained sullen and removed, the only evidence of his unease carried behind his cold, mercury eyes. Their piercing glare bore right through her as he sat motionless and erect in his chair, thick tendrils of pipe smoke curling around his shiny black head like venomous mist.
On their wedding day, Mary and John waited together in a mahogany chapel. He looked especially handsome in his fine ecru suit and brown silk cravat. They sat close together with hands clasped in solidarity, but every few minutes John darted an anxious glance towards the entrance of the church.
“Shall we wait a little while longer?” Mary asked him gently.
His eyes, turned serious cerulean on this momentous day, brightened again to their customary aquamarine when they recaptured hers.
“No,” he smiled and pulled her fingers to his lips. “No, let’s begin.” They nodded at the vicar who rose and faced them with commanding piety.
And so they married without the presence or blessing of Mr. Holmes.
* * *
Holmes flitted about in listless boredom after Watson left Baker Street. It was only the seven-percent solution that prevented his mind from dimming into despondency. Artificial as it was, the stimulant kept the lights on just enough for him to see the world in all its electric variegations, and maybe even do some good if he focused.
Six weeks passed before they saw each other again. Holmes tried to keep his joy over their reunion from being too obvious, which wasn’t all that difficult when he grudgingly observed that wedlock appeared to suit his friend. But what he had mistaken for wedded bliss was in fact Watson’s relief at rejoining the world to which he truly belonged.
The marriage had a remarkable effect on them both. Holmes could no longer look at Watson without being acutely aware that he had been sexualized by his union. There was no other way to explain the added sunshine to his wheaten features, or the jaunty way he swung his walking stick like a broad, phallic pendulum. Holmes was fascinated by it, and increasingly compelled to make physical contact with Watson.
At first the gestures were nothing out of the ordinary. Watson was used to receiving a grateful pat on the shoulder or a comforting squeeze of his hand. But Holmes grew bolder. He routinely placed themselves in small spaces where close contact was inevitable. He would utter instructions in the faintest whisper so that Watson had to lean even closer to hear him. Unaware that he was being seduced by his best friend, Watson would close his eyes and luxuriate in the rich butterscotch tones of Holmes’s softest voice, his obvious visceral reactions more than compensating for his lack of conscious reciprocation.
On one occasion, they hid for a full three hours—approximately two hours longer than necessary—inside an abandoned dog cart. They lied together watching the feather-painted clouds of late afternoon darken against a horizon of burnt orange and brilliant pink, until an orchid dusk finally dissolved into the night sky. With one arm resting on Watson’s waist, Holmes indulged in the delicious thrill of imagining them pressed together without the barriers of coats and trousers.
* * *
Mary reclined on the day bed in her lime green sewing room and watched the wind lash dark leaves across the window.
She was relieved when John finally announced he would be assisting Mr. Holmes on a new case. She knew the marriage had strained their friendship and was anxious for John and Mr. Holmes to recover their former closeness.
A recent lengthy and highly secretive search for a lost treaty made John happier than she’d ever seen him. The earthy glow returned to his face, his eyes were restored to mirthful sky-blue and the most charming shade of apricot crept into his cheeks whenever he mentioned Mr. Holmes.
Mary encouraged him to detail their adventures, and kept her gaze fixed on the sapphire light that shone behind John’s expression as he spoke of the great detective. She never took her eyes from his, even as she went to her knees and mouthed the fabric of his flies, opened them with her teeth and ran her tongue around his reddening length.
“Go on,” she would urge him when he faltered, speeding her momentum as his narrative gathered pace. Whenever he uttered the name “Holmes” she sucked harder and more fervently, hoping to hear it drawn out on the swell of his release. But so far he had not, and Mary assumed it was because he and Mr. Holmes had not yet consummated their love.
When it finally happened, Mary imagined, it would take place in an emerald forest, where the exotic scent of spice-aged wood tinged the air, and prongs of mossy boughs created thickets of leaf-thatched roofs.
They would be running, John and Mr. Holmes. And then Mr. Holmes would suddenly turn around and seize his friend, press him against a tree and cover John’s gaping mouth with his. With long, trembling fingers he would open John’s flies, and then Mr. Holmes would turn John around, lift his arms above his head and pin him to the trunk. They would both emit lusty groans as Mr. Holmes slid into his body, and the two of them would fuck like wild animals, their slapping flesh turning scarlet, their forgotten trousers inching down their legs as they pounded together.
Honeyed moisture began seeping between Mary’s legs. She moved her fingers to her swollen labia, and rubbed and rocked until a brilliant green tide crashed through her body and a shower of teal petals fluttered ecstatically down her spine.
* * *
But of course it didn’t happen that way at all. It happened gradually before it happened suddenly.
The first instance occurred at Baker Street under a coal-black night sky. Holmes and Watson were sitting cross-legged on the hearthrug against the settee. They were gleaning fragments of tarnished metal from a muddy satchel they found beside a dead blacksmith. Their heads were bent together, haloed by the orange-yellow light of the fire.
“Look here, Watson,” Holmes murmured, holding a piece of scrap towards the firelight.
Watson confidently placed one hand on his friend’s leg for balance and leaned in for a closer look.
“My God,” he breathed excitedly, more from their closeness than the object at hand. “Is that a monogram?”
“Our most valuable clue so far, I believe.”
They shared a warm, satisfied smile.
Holmes drew his other leg up to rest his elbow on his knee, causing Watson’s hand to slip inside his thigh. Holmes tensed for a moment, but did not move away. They both stared down at Watson’s chapped fingers splayed like coral branches over the curve of fine black fabric.
Watson closed his eyes and began to knead, and the heat that radiated from Holmes’s leg set Watson’s fingertips ablaze. He alternately squeezed and released the taut muscle, and the heat began to spread.
Holmes tipped his head to the side and studied his friend’s placid expression, trying to discern whether there was intention stirring beneath it. Watson slowly drifted towards him, imitating his own habit of being lured into the audible vicinity of Holmes's voice, bringing their faces inches apart. But half-whispers in the dark were nothing compared to the warm invitation of Holmes's mouth stretching into a smile as Watson reached into his trousers and gingerly fingered his thickening cock. He shared the quivering sigh that escaped Holmes when he drew out his member, closed his hand around him and slowly began to pump.
Watson opened his eyes.
“Do you want me to stop?”
“Do you want to stop?”
Watson didn’t, not for the world, and he tightened his grip in silent assurance. A bright raspberry flush was beginning to advance on Holmes’s pale cheeks. His eyes were busy behind his fallen lids, the spasmodic jumps of his eyebrows describing the stimulating jolts that passed through him. He tipped backwards, his hands finding the floor for balance, so he could flex his buttocks and stutter his hips more deliberately into Watson's clutch. The merry crackle of the fire soon disappeared behind the quickening nose-gasps and tiny peals of effort that gathered behind Holmes's pursed lips until he could no longer contain the buildup of energy at his core. His plum mouth dropped open the moment he grew harder and began to seep inside Watson’s palm.
And then, Holmes choked and stiffened with a hoarse cry. The dim firelight splashed golden shadows onto his face while he came, head tilted towards the heavens, the ivory pearls of his issue leaping onto the rug. The most intense pleasure he had ever known turned his blood from red to maroon to deep purple and then all the oxygen left his body and he shuddered in a peak of midnight blue.
Watson’s anal muscles throbbed as white hot masculine essence dripped from his fingers. He gazed at Holmes’s cock and imagined it sliding and squishing inside him the same way it was moving now in his palm. He lost himself in this vision and continued to lovingly fondle Holmes until his cock was entirely soft and nestled snugly between his legs.
When Watson finally raised a glance, he saw that Holmes was staring at him, his head leaning upon the arm he rested on the settee, his wide eyes still and grave. Watson pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and gently cleaned them both, his own erection still twitching behind his trousers. But the sudden sharp glint of his wedding band diverted his arousal, and guilt made him recoil when Holmes reached for his flies.
“No,” he gasped as if he had been caught by surprise, “I can’t.”
Holmes pulled his hand away in perplexity.
“I’m sorry,” said Watson, scrambling to his feet. “I should never—.”
He cast about clumsily for his hat and coat.
“Watson, wait a moment,” called Holmes, now in a panic of his own. He stood just as Watson reached the sitting room door. “Please don’t take—”
But his confused protests only compelled Watson to move faster, away from Holmes and away from Baker Street.
* * *
Mary saw the change immediately.
All was not right with Mr. Holmes. John’s face assumed an uncharacteristically ashy hue, and his blue eyes, normally so calm and present, skittered away from hers whenever she tried to look at him. Mary had hoped that their relationship would bloom as effortlessly as Jonas and David’s had done so many summers ago on the farm. She never anticipated the difficulties and misunderstandings that can complicate even the purest and most unconditional forms of love.
The wellspring of fantasies that Mary had been cultivating over the weeks began to run dry as the distance between John and Mr. Holmes grew longer.
Nearly seven days had passed before she finally confronted her husband.
“I am sure whatever happened between you and Mr. Holmes can be easily remedied with a conversation,” she ventured one night after the two of them had shared their fourth silent meal of the week.
He shook his head sadly and dismissively. If it were as simple as confessing his sexual transgression, he might have done so, but Mary could never understand what really bothered him was that he had allowed his basest desires to sully the sacred ground of his friendship. Holmes was no lover, and as much as Watson’s pulse accelerated at the memory of his golden passion-tinted face, he had convinced himself that he had no right to his friend’s affections.
He dropped a look of distress on his metallic yellow wedding band, still as shiny as the day Mary slipped it on his finger, and recalled how it had snapped him out of the moment of intimacy at Baker Street. It symbolized the love and promise he could never ask or expect of Holmes, and for Watson, sex without love was a far more troubling misdeed than mild adultery.
“I know your bond with Mr. Holmes is a special one, John,” murmured Mary as she watched him idly toying with his ring. “There cannot be anything so great that would compromise your high regard for one another.”
Hope fluttered in her chest when John finally relented, and left to pay the detective a visit.
* * *
Holmes surprised Watson by being very glad to see him. He showed no signs of unease as he led Watson by the arm to his chemistry set to demonstrate the results of a week’s worth of experiments. Holmes even rested his hands on Watson’s shoulders and hovered closely above him, his nearness making Watson dizzy with confused excitement.
But no. He must apologize.
Watson warmly congratulated Holmes upon his work, and then applied himself to recovering his military-bred sense of duty, rising again to regard his friend. Holmes had crossed the room to retrieve a book, but he turned in curious bemusement at the suddenly formal way in which Watson addressed him.
“Please know, my dear friend, that I did not wish to offend with my actions the other night. If I violated you in the slightest, I should waste no time in assuring you such a thing will never happen again.”
The seductive arch of Holmes’s left eyebrow sent Watson tumbling down a precarious slope on which he scrambled to reassert himself. The merest glance from Holmes never failed to make Watson considerably less sure of his own mind, but he soldiered on with his self-made logic nonetheless.
“You have never loved, Holmes. You told me so yourself. And I am certainly in no position to expect you to indulge in such feelings, especially now.”
The late-setting sun turned the room sepia rose, charging it with an expectant silence.
“I’m sorry,” Watson said again, “That—that’s all I came here to say.” He grabbed his hat from the table and made for the sitting room door.
“I am.” Holmes’s voice was brisk and miraculous.
Watson's heart stopped beating. “Beg your pardon?”
Holmes squared his shoulders and pocketed his hands.
“I am,” he repeated. “In love. With you.” The angles of his face softened when he added, “And it’s…”
He hesitated, and caught himself before he said, “like a wide bright rainbow.” How silly and childish that would have sounded. And yet, when he was with Watson he swore he could see every colour in the spectrum, especially now as the dear man stood there in the indigo wash of evening light fidgeting with his hat and trying to cover his astonishment. But he finished with “wonderful” and let it go at that.
And then there was no wedding band and no doubt, but only a frenzy of hot pink lips and active red tongues, and frantic fists tearing at crisp white shirts as the two men stumbled blindly into the bedroom.
* * *
Holmes’s skin, Watson discovered, was not sheer porcelain but rather shades of vanilla cream that set off his cerise nipples, which were rapidly turning dark ruby under increased stimulation. His hair was not unvaryingly black but flecked with mild browns, the first sprouts of stubble on his lower jaw reflecting auburn against the flickering candlelight. The most erotic sight of all was the dark violet texture of his arousal betraying months and possibly years of inhibited desire.
Holmes curled his body around Watson’s head, pressing his thighs over his ears and claiming fistfuls of hair as he freely moaned at the silvery glimmers that spiked through him. His climax in the sitting room had followed a strenuous and adrenaline-fueled climb to a gorgeous peak. But tonight he was falling, falling into his own body as the pleasurable sensations of Watson’s tongue spread into his limbs and his sexual being opened like a virgin white swan unfolding its wings.
He writhed and pushed into Watson’s mouth, sinking deeper into the mattress, suddenly aware of his pathways to pleasure, grunting encouragements and affirmations as Watson traversed every one. All his life Sherlock Holmes had prided himself on treating his brain like a scientific pet, feeding it with reason while protecting it from the corrupting influence of emotion. But when an instant explosion turned his cells into diamonds, sending shimmering platinum light zooming in all directions of his body, his mind and body finally became one.
It would be the first of three orgasms that night. (Four for Watson, who could not resist bringing himself off as he eagerly swallowed his best friend’s cock.) After the first round they were only sated enough to take more time with the second, and Watson could be patient as Holmes set about learning where and how to apply his own tongue.
They took turns coming inside each other, Watson with Holmes flat on his back and one long leg hooked over his shoulder, and Holmes with Watson swinging and thrusting on all fours beneath him, the flesh of his backside shaking from the exotic burn of penetration. The powerful surge of his final climax arrested him entirely, save for the shower of brilliant white stars that rained through his field of vision.
The moon rose up behind them and peeked through the window and consecrated their love in its gentle luminescence. They remained joined long after their bodies came to rest, and continued to rock in embrace with their foreheads resting upon one another, the moonshadowed contours of their faces softened in tender satisfaction.
* * *
Afterwards, they lied awake together in a swath of white sheets.
“You know I cannot stay,” Watson finally said with much regret.
“I know.” Holmes smiled sadly, and love turned his grey eyes lavender.
Heavy and reluctant, Watson rose and silently dressed himself. He sat down on the bed one last time before he left, and traced Holmes’s cheek with the back of his hand.
“Holmes, this was—”
“I know,” Holmes whispered again, and he took up his friend’s hand and kissed his palm.
* * *
Mary knew. John arrived home smelling of tobacco and chemicals carrying an unmistakably post-coital glow that left a permanent salmon blush on his face.
It was everything she had pined for, and with the idea that she might one day bear witness to the couplings of John and Mr. Holmes, Mary spent the ensuing afternoons awash in self-pleasure. She saw their nude bodies rutting together on a settee, in a chair, up against a wall, lying down, bent over, folded together, always locked in rock-hard passion. She came again and again, every orgasm a different colour, each one bursting through her body in a great tide and making it sing with joy.
In her mind, Mary released John from all physical obligations to her. He belonged to Mr. Holmes now, and she preferred the privacy and gratification of self-generated sex.
It was a beautiful arrangement until Holmes went away on a case and was gone for two weeks. In order to keep their spirits up, Mary pressed John to talk of their latest adventure. She watched the bulge grow behind his trousers and the perspiration gather at his forehead before she sidled next to him and began massaging his crotch. The story of how they had located Neville St. Clair crumbled into bits and pieces and soon John was simply stammering vivid descriptions of Holmes as though the man were standing in front of him.
Intoxicated by pent-up desire, John bent Mary over the sofa. He barely noticed how wet she was when he took her, for he thought only of Holmes as rocked and huffed and moaned, the rippling muscles of Holmes’s back, the lust-crazed look on Holmes’s face right before he came and the obscene suctioning noises of his slippery cock driving into him.
John dug his fingers into Mary’s behind, and she cried out. She was thinking of Mr. Holmes, too, hoping to hear John call out his name once and for all. She climaxed as she imagined how it would sound: a sharp, desperate wail tinged with adoration and need, and when she plunged her fingers inside herself the world folded into dark crimson.
But when John came, he uttered a slow, strangled cry and nothing more. He extracted himself immediately and crumpled onto the sofa. Mary tried to reach over to touch him, but he covered his face and rolled away from her. Her amber eyes narrowed with concern.
“I’m tired now, Mary,” he said into his hand.
Mary stared up at the ceiling. Then she realized what had happened.
John had been unfaithful to the wrong person.
* * *
“I cannot do this anymore.”
“What? You don’t mean—“
“Sharing you with another. I cannot do it any longer,” Holmes said again, his eyes frantically searching the sitting room for something to cling to. Anything but to look at Watson, whose recent intimacy with his wife was all too sickeningly obvious.
“But I’m yours. I belong to you, I do,” Watson insisted helplessly.
“You are mine for a short time only. And then you go home to her. There is no logic to this situation.”
Nauseating guilt eroded Watson’s stomach. His mind took another desperate swipe at reason.
“Holmes, I can—“
“You can do nothing. Go home to your wife.”
They stood half-facing one another, trapped in futile silence. There was no changing the great mind of Sherlock Holmes once it was decided, and Watson had no words to appease him. He placed a heavy hand on the worn brass handle of the sitting room, noting bitterly how often he had turned it, how it had tarnished over the years. His feet dragged him out of the room and down the stairs.
From the window, Holmes watched his friend and lover trudge up the street until his sad figure disappeared around the corner. He called then to Mrs. Hudson and informed her that he would be receiving no more visitors today.
He opened the drawer to his desk and pulled out his dusty turquoise and purple Moroccan case which had been untouched since the day he and Watson first made love.
He mixed an especially potent solution of morphine and tied off his arm. He arranged himself along the length of the sofa as he plunged the clear fluid into his vein. Moments later the expression of pain left his face and his features became fixed in a blank mask. His eyelids fluttered and dropped and he receded into the infinite grey nothingness where sea and sky meet on the horizon, and all the colour drained from his world.
* * *
John was inconsolable. Mary held his head in her lap and told him that it would be all right, though she didn’t really believe it.
In her insatiable fascination, Mary had flown too close to the sun. She underestimated the intensity of the bond between John and Mr. Holmes, and gotten the three of them mired in an impossible love triangle that neither man understood.
She stared out the window at the slate grey rain and taxed her imagination for some way out. She would go live on the Continent and stay married in name only. John could write in his stories that she had died and return to his true life and love at Baker Street.
There would be heartfelt tears and apologies and it would break her heart to leave the two men who had become the center of her world. But she could not remain at the center of theirs knowing that it meant standing in the way of a partnership so perfectly arranged by God himself.
She had started over before and would start over again, always led by the hope that somewhere beyond the settling clouds she would find the next rainbow.