Those first few months during which Sherlock Holmes and I explored the newfound territory of our expanded relations were some of the happiest of my life, and I flatter myself that the same was true for my friend. The closeness I had always relished between us blossomed so naturally into physical love that I often wondered why we had not taken up together in this way so much sooner.
And yet despite our intimacy, there were parts of Holmes that remained just beyond my reach. He communicated with action far better than with spoken words, and he usually responded to my sincere declarations of love and affection with varying expressions of amusement. I often did not know what passed through his mind, though he was ever in tune with mine, so much so that I was certain my thoughts somehow echoed in his alone. But I did not doubt that in his fashion he loved me in return.
In his work, Holmes remained as he was—particularly trying cases still had him irascibly pacing the floor of our sitting room, he was still wont to speak sharply to me when he lost his patience or felt insecure in his work, and he sometimes left me in a state of complete bewilderment to pursue a lead on his own, only to offer the full explanation days later when the situation required it of him.
It goes without saying that we conducted ourselves with the utmost care when in the company of others. Even when it was just the two of us searching out clues in dark rooms or backstreets, more often than not we kept our regard towards one another on the level of friends and colleagues. This is not to say we did not enjoy tempting one another’s affections outside the bounds of Baker Street—for I could fill pages with torrid details of our secret trysts—but rather that Holmes never wavered in his commitment to his profession. While he might on occasion allow his hand to steal suggestively to my leg or lean appreciably close to me as we examined some piece of evidence, he was determined that the “softer passions” over which he used to scoff would not interfere with his adherence to logic where crime was concerned.
During the quieter times, when the caseload was light and required little effort from Holmes and myself, we delighted in exploring our nascent passion. I was not long in realizing the exquisite advantages of having the world’s most observant man as my lover. It seemed to me that we had only lain together but a few times before Holmes was keenly aware of how to incite my strongest reactions.
One night, I lay next to Holmes in his bed, gasping for breath and thanking every god under the sun that I’d still had the fortitude to enjoy such strenuous activities.
“Good heavens,” I exclaimed as my mind began to clear again.
Holmes chuckled, “All right then, Watson?”
Without thinking, I replied, “That was more delectable than the Friday night special at Romano’s.”
Holmes laughed his gentle but hearty laugh, the one he reserved for my ears alone. “So that is what goes through your mind when I’m concentrating so earnestly on making you come?” he joked as he rolled towards me.
For weeks after that, we made a game of it, half-mockingly and half-seriously drawing elaborate comparisons to our respective levels of satisfaction.
“More exquisite than Sarasate’s rendering of the ‘Devil’s Trill’,” Holmes once breathed into my ear after I had worked us both into a mutual frenzy with my hand.
“More rewarding than curing an epidemic of influenza,” I murmured contentedly one late evening as I traced idle patterns on Holmes’s smooth back while he puffed on a cigarette.
And then the words I had longed to hear but dared not ask for were finally uttered.
It had been a quiet afternoon during which we both set about our respective tasks, yet remained attuned to an atmosphere of growing friction between us. When Holmes chanced to look up from his book and found me grinning at him with the full measure of my desire, he raised his eyebrow and a rapid smile spread across his face. Seconds later his book was on the floor and my eager mouth between his legs. He gasped and clutched my head when I brought him to his glory, spending himself in great surges until his body relaxed and he slumped back into his chair.
“Finer than any solution in the needle,” he exhaled above me.
I laughed joyously at this revelation, finally convinced that our passions had replaced the infernal lethargy of his cocaine needle, and certain that my love alone was strong enough to banish the dark forces that threatened him.
But I was wrong.
I did not know then that a long and arduous journey awaited my friend, nor did I realize how thoroughly our love would be tested when he took me to hell and back with him.
* * * *
We had just completed a case in
When it was time to return to
Once we reached home that evening, I went to my room for a change of clothes and Holmes disappeared into his. I greeted Mrs. Hudson warmly, and accepted her offer for some tea and a small bit of food. I expected Holmes would emerge as I had, more comfortably attired and ready to finally grant himself some sustenance.
Mrs. Hudson brought a tray into the sitting room, and I helped myself while I absently sorted through the mail. I placed the letters of greater import in a pile, and tossed the others into the fire. There was still no sign of Holmes.
I finished the last of my tea, wrote a reply to a former colleague on a medical question concerning a family member, and laid it on the end table to be posted. When at last the hour struck eight and day had long faded into night, I rapped lightly on Holmes’s bedroom door. There was no answer. I turned the knob and peered inside. “Holmes?” I called softly.
He was lying prostrate in bed, still wearing his traveling clothes, with one arm cast across his face.
“Holmes?” I said again.
“What is it, Watson?” came a muffled reply.
“Do you want some tea?” I asked, not a little concerned.
“I do not,” he said, without removing his arm from his face.
“Are you ill?” I was growing alarmed at this display of idleness.
He sighed and removed his arm. “No, I’m not ill, Watson. I regret I may have used myself a little too carelessly on this case.”
I was somewhat placated. I told him a full night’s sleep would surely have him feeling better tomorrow. I bided my time that evening, and when my eyelids began to drop over my journal, I brought my candle into Holmes’s bedroom and changed into my nightshirt. We had not spent many nights apart in the past few months, and it had become our new habit to share his bed, which was larger than my own. I carefully slipped in beside him so as not to disturb, though he had fallen asleep in his clothes.
The next morning I awoke to an empty bed. I took Holmes’s absence as a sign that a night’s sleep had indeed invigorated him and that he had met the day early. I rose, put on my dressing gown and entered the sitting room.
There was Holmes, stretched on the settee in much the same way I had found him the previous evening, looking ever more weary a sight in his now sleep-wrinkled clothes.
“Holmes,” I said in surprise as I walked over to him. “What’s going on?”
“Just leave me, please, Watson,” he said without looking at me.
I stood for a moment at a complete loss. It had been months since Holmes had fallen prey to a black mood, and such a fit had not visited him since we had become lovers. I was anxious as ever to revive him, and I urged him to take some food or at least some tea, to change his clothes, to wash, or to take to his bed if he wasn’t well. All of this went unheeded.
I busied myself that day with matters of task, running errands around
That night I slept alone in Holmes’s bed. I had lain awake, waiting for him until well after midnight, but he did not come.
When the sun rose the following day and Holmes again failed to rise with it, I realized I would have to occupy myself with more concrete tasks if I wanted to prevent myself from going mad in my efforts to coax him away from the settee. I visited some patients at St.Bart’s, and spent the day tending some rather interesting medical ailments with a colleague of mine. With great effort, I pushed my worries about Holmes into the recesses of my mind. I resolved not to return home until well after supper, giving him the full day to recover himself.
When I left the hospital, it was raining. I had not brought an umbrella, and was forced to make my way to a cab by ducking underneath storefront awnings. This did me little good and I arrived home soaking wet, and filled with apprehension as to Holmes’s mood.
When I entered the sitting room, I found Holmes had lit a lamp and was sitting upright in his chair near the fireplace. His back was to me, but I could see that he had troubled to put on his dressing gown. This cozy and comfortable domestic scene, which heartened me a good deal, was nearly complete save for the open window at the far end of the room. I went over and closed it, sealing the damp chill outside.
“Never saw the rain coming, but I fancy a spell is just what we need this late in the season,” I offered cheerfully. I was just about to approach Holmes and favor him with a tender kiss when something in his desk caught my eye.
I paused to examine it and my heart plummeted into my stomach. Lurking just inside the drawer was his open Moroccan case and freshly used needle.
I was instantly seized by both disappointment and anger.
“What is it tonight, Holmes?” I demanded tersely. “Morphine? Or cocaine?”
“Well,” he drawled, his back still to me, “I can strongly recommend a seven percent solution of cocaine.” He turned around to regard me with a strangely clouded and mocking gaze. “Would you like to try it?”
I unleashed a torrent of rage unlike any I’d ever had before. So deep was my hurt that I scarcely checked myself as my tirade grew more vehement. I admonished him first for the damage he was doing to the great powers with which he has been endowed, then for his foolishness in thinking that the answer to his melancholy lay in the abuse of narcotics. And finally, I told him that his efforts would be better placed in recovering his strength from the unusually taxing case he just completed. I stopped short of confessing that I had presumed our intimacy had replaced his habit, and that all this time my body had been aching for him to return to me.
Holmes stared at the wall ahead of him with an expressionless face. His eyebrow twitched once or twice, indicating that my words may have registered, but he offered no reply.
I had run out of ways to communicate with him, and I was beyond frustrated. I stormed out of the sitting room, slamming the door after me.
I went upstairs to my bedroom, which had grown dark and musty from disuse, and sat down on the bed with my head in my hands. Holmes was slipping away from me. Those joyous days of lovemaking and discovery seemed all too distant, further even from the days when we kept each other’s quiet and amiable company in front of the fire, the times when I chanced upon his needle and he turned away from me, but I did not take his action as a personal reflection of my own failure.
I opened the window to air my room, but thought better of it when the rain came down in great sheets and splashed onto the floor. I tried reading by candlelight, but could not stop my mind from continuing to launch coarse words at my friend who sat downstairs in his drug-induced haze. I finally blew out the candle and lay down.
Outside, rumbles of thunder began to erupt in the night sky and the corresponding lightning flashed with growing frequency. I could have used some brandy, but I did not dare venture back downstairs. Somehow, sleep overtook my anxious mind.
I do not know how many hours later it was when I awoke to find Holmes peering into my face with grave concern. The candle he held illuminated his smooth muscular form bending over me, naked from above the waist. I woke with a start and stared at him.
“Oh my dear Watson,” he said, his eyes as large as saucers. “I am so sorry. So very sorry.”
“Holmes, wha—“ I started to say, but he did not wait to hear my reply before he grabbed my neck and pulled my lips to his. They were hot and swollen and despite my confusion and lingering anger, it had been far too long for me to push him away.
Without letting me go, Holmes placed the candle on my bedside table. He took my face in his hands and deepened the embrace as he gently climbed on top of me. When at last we broke off, he began to ravish my neck, breathlessly repeating his apology. His hands—God, those hands—were everywhere, cradling my face, cupping my neck, squeezing my arms, caressing my back, grasping my hips, massaging my legs. In one dramatic sweep, he pushed my nightshirt up my chest and over my head, barely pausing in his ministrations to do so.
Never before had Holmes attacked me with such tenacity. I felt my anger twisting into lust as my body began to respond.
“Just take me,” I choked. “Please.”
Holmes flipped me onto my stomach, and I instantly pushed myself onto my knees to ready myself for him. He worked a wet digit into me and soon found that my body hungered too deeply for his to require the usual lengths of preparation. I felt him hastily unfasten his trousers to release himself, and when he entered me we both groaned at the overpowering sensation of conjoining our bodies in such heightened states. I sat upright so that my back pressed against his chest, his breath was hot and ragged in my ear and his hands tightly gripped my hips while he worked himself into my deepest essence.
When I felt his firm hand encircle my cock, I placed my own over it, and our bodies became synched in a steadily increasing rhythm. The powerful stimulation of both my groin and my backside was so overwhelming that I feared I would break in two, but the sounds of grunting and gasping and flesh lapping at flesh fed my desire until there was nothing left. My only awareness was that of want; I desperately, acutely wanted more of him, harder, faster, deeper. I could not stop my body from thrusting back as insistently as he thrust into me.
I felt the flame ignite in my stomach, and it spread like wildfire down my spine. All my tension, fear, anger and love manifested into an explosion that wracked my body in great convulsions. I called his name in a plea for mercy when I pitched forward and grabbed the sheets below me in a tight-fisted death grip. Almost instantly, I felt Holmes arch and push into me twice more, throwing his head back and uttering two sharp, wistful cries before crashing onto my back and cradling my torso. The feel of his warm seed seeping into me was as intensely, erotically satisfying as the sense of my own issue dripping from his fingers when he splayed them underneath my ribcage.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he panted, pulling my body into his as though he were attempting to fuse us into a single vibrating body. In the sea of sweat and sex and chemicals and cocaine that enveloped us as we shuddered together in completion, I knew I was as fatally bound to Holmes’s dark side as I was to the rest of him, a fearful realization to which my lust responded by quickening the pulse of my release.
He clung fast to me, his apologies dissipating as his breathing slowed. When he finally withdrew, I moaned from the loss that left me feeling like an empty shell. We collapsed in an exhausted heap upon my narrow bed, the soaked sheets crumpled and cooling beneath us.
Only his hands did not cease. They continued to run over the contours of my body as we found a mutually comfortable position in which to lay side by side. Right before I fell asleep I heard him whisper again, almost inaudibly, “I’m sorry.”
“I know you are,” I whispered back.
We did not speak again that night, but fell asleep with our limbs entangled and the sound of the rain beating ceaselessly against the windows.