“I am nearly at the end of this, Watson, and then I shall be happy to oblige you,” he said when he finally caught my gaze.
“Oblige me?” I asked, offering him a questioning look.
He simply smiled and continued to work. I returned to my journal.
Several minutes later, he rose from the table, crossed the room and sat next to me. When I caught the hint of seduction behind his eyes, I understood what he intended.
Holmes had pleasured me three times since I had been back at Baker Street, and each time I had been impressed anew at the tremendous amount of skill he brought to the activity. After the second time, he told me exactly where and how he honed this skill, and after the third it occurred to me that his knowledge of physical love began and ended there. When he reached for me on this fourth occasion, I backed away.
“What are you doing, Holmes?”
He looked up in surprise.
“My dear fellow, do you think I have been oblivious to your gazes this afternoon? I am merely putting actions to the thoughts that have been crossing your mind,” he replied, and reached for me again.
I caught his hand before he touched me.
“Pray, tell me what thoughts have been crossing my mind,” I challenged him.
He raised his chin and squinted into my face. “I saw you staring at my hands, Watson, with that singular look of desire that comes over you when you’re in need of another release.”
I blushed slightly. “I was feeling that, yes, but I was not thinking of a release. I was remembering the orange.”
“The orange,” he repeated blankly.
I gazed down at his hand with loving affection as I slowly turned it over in my own.
“Shortly after we first took lodgings at Baker Street together, I was still convalescing from my war wounds. It was getting on towards Christmas, and you received a crate of oranges from a grateful American client who hailed from Florida. I was not entirely enlightened as to how you earned your living in those days, and as you had no cases currently occupying you and I was laid up on the settee, you took the opportunity to tell me.”
I traced his palm, then the back of his hand, now lost in the memory.
“You plucked an orange from the crate and first held it in your palm, tossing it easily from hand to hand, gesturing with it as you spoke to me of all the 'little problems' that routinely plague the people of London. You handled it so fluidly it seemed to become an extension of yourself until, with a rather artistic flourish, you pierced the rind with your index finger. I watched in amazement as the fruit spiraled effortlessly in your grip until it was nothing more than a naked yellow sphere. You had removed the rind as a single unit and without ever losing the tempo of your speech. I had been thinking the whole time that this was by far the most beautiful pair of hands I had ever seen.”
I paused to look up at his face. His dark grey eyes were glinting with amused interest and when I traced his elegant fingers one by one, his lips parted in a soft little sigh.
“You finished your little magic trick and kindly presented it to me. Before I pulled it apart to eat, I wondered momentarily what would happen to me were you to peel away my exterior and expose the fruits that lay at my core. It was not until years later that I found my answer, and when I did, I realized that my rind was long gone. The fact is you had already begun the process in our sitting room so many Christmases ago.”
I brought his hand to my mouth and kissed it earnestly. I looked into his face just long enough to register his astonishment, and then I scooped the back of his head, pulled him to me and pressed my lips onto his.
I felt his sharp intake of breath, and I did not have to see his face to know that his eyebrows had jumped to his forehead in surprise. But I, too, was surprised by the feel of his warm, soft mouth yielding to mine.
After I released him, I rose and left the sitting room as he stared silently after me.