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Inaction… and apparently a bit of grossness. sorry about that.

The last months, the last year really, I’ve been missing from writing.  There is always something going on in my head, I suppose, and even the occasional jot in the notebook, but I haven’t had much more than the occasional bit of emotional energy for it.  It had been something like four months since I last made a post on Lazarus Machine and a year now since anything on John’s Gamble.  I finally did add a chapter to the former during my vacation the other week, and have, in recent weeks, had a bit more heart and inspiration about it, but the energy isn’t quite there.  And then this week, I’ve been feeling physically ill on top of struggling with the emotional bits.

 

However, even when I’m not particularly writing, I do find myself still researching.  My literary interests have still been involved with Georgian/Regency/Victorian crime, and I am in the midst of Judith Flanders’ The Victorian City, which talks about Victorian London during Dickens’ life.  It covers a broad time period from the end of the Regency to the midst of Victoria’s reign, with all the daily street life detailed.  Of course, mostly what this leaves me with is “How did anyone survive at all?” because between how disgusting water was even when it wasn’t infected with cholera (I just saw that Matt Damon used toilet water for his ice bucket challenge to raise awareness about clean water around the world, which is kind of ridiculous because US toilet water is exactly as potable as tap water and unless you get it from the bowl and haven’t flushed for days, it doesn’t even compare to many places around the world), and the general attitude of the wealthy towards the poor (workhouses were meant to be miserable so people would work harder to stay out of them) and no concept of cleanliness — blood simply ran in the streets outside slaughterhouses, along with human and animal and vegetable waste… ugh, I just shudder.  No wonder miasma was thought to be the source of some diseases, because the stench had to be incredible.  And I haven’t even gotten to the chapter about prostitution yet. 

 

Anyway, I did have some exciting research distraction the other night.  I think I was reading a blog post about the Jane Austen era… it was an article about grave robbing, as I was suddenly needing to know how much an anatomist might pay for a stolen body to dissect (they can be quite expensive, I was surprised to find) and came across a name I’d glimpsed in something before, a Mr. (Joshua) Brookes.  He was mentioned regarding an incident at his anatomy school in Mayfair, but it wasn’t regarding the same incident that I’d seen before (love Google books).  So, of course, I was suddenly sunk deep in finding out about these things, including locating online copies of The Lancet from the era which mentioned him several times.

 

One of these incidents was that he bought a body from someone other than his usual body snatchers and since they were pissed about it, they left a very ripe body outside his home in Soho and another outside his work in Mayfair to be discovered by whosoever happened to walk by.  The discovery outside his home so upset the neighbors that they had to be dissuaded from giving Brookes a beating by the local constables.  The second incident involved a coachman knocking on his door, which was answered by a servant.  The coachman asked if the doctor would be interested in a fresh body and was told that he was.  So the coachman hauled a naked body in a sack around and as the doctor and servant started to kick the body down the stairs, it flailed and hollered, “I’m alive!”  Apparently, they were more afraid of the thought of the house being robbed than by a dead body waking up, and they dragged the man to the magistrate’s, where the man confessed only to being drunk on his trip into London, and then being made drunker still by someone else until he apparently passed out and woke up being shoved down the stairs.

 

Now, writing a Sherlock piece or two, I was quite interested in this man called Brookes, as it would so nicely coincide with Richard Brook from the show, and I found that his place of business was ridiculously close to where I’d previously chosen an address to house my final showdown.  I mean, there is a Brook St in Mayfair, so I could hardly not use that, and the location I picked later housed the royal Dr. Gull who, in certain theories, might have been Jack the Ripper (ie, From Hell follows that theory though it’s not as likely as most of the other theories).  My main problem with picking the location had been that at some point, the houses along Brook St. had been renumbered and I wasn’t certain when, so I wasn’t certain which house number to use.  Then I told myself, this is just a fan fiction and you’re being crazy.  🙂

 

At any rate, I was now in this state of mind, so I watched two movies that had been on my Netflix queue for a while, I Sell the Dead and Burke and Hare.  The first was interesting, but definitely took a supernatural turn I wasn’t quite expecting/interested in.  Burke and Hare was fairly good, considering that I’m sure it took liberties with making any of the involved parties sympathetic.  It starred Simon Pegg as Burke, so it couldn’t help but be a little light and silly, and I doubt that they were caught out due to early photographs, but the bit at the end showing Burke’s skeleton displayed in the university in Edinburgh is accurate.

 

And finally, today, due to being ill and not really having the energy to do anything outside of lay in bed and watch videos online, I watched several episodes of City of Vice, a 5 episode British series detailing the beginnings of the Bow Street Runners.  It follows Henry and John Fielding and their surprisingly nefarious attempts to start up a police force within London.  I say surprisingly nefarious not because the series shows them setting up a Lord to be robbed in order to gain them financial favor and a sponsor in the House of Lords, but because in the earliest incarnation of the Runners, they were operating illegally. 

 

This isn’t the first depiction I’ve run across describing the rather rocky beginnings of the British police forces.  In The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, it describes the beginnings of things like undercover police work and how unfair and nefarious it was viewed by the general public.  In 1860, when the events in the book take place, it was seen as an invasion of privacy for a detective to come into one’s home, even if it is the scene of a kidnapping/murder and poke his nose into the family’s life.  Similarly, in City of Vice, the people seemed to view police as less law and order and more infringing upon the rights of free people.  Because apparently it is a right for people to do as they please regardless of the law?  There seemed to be a lot of laws but no real way to enforce them, especially if wealthy people enjoyed the illegal activity.  (I suppose that’s not terribly different in any time period.)  Even to start off the Bow Street Runners, the Fieldings were asking for a mere six men.  For all of London.

 

The series itself has some sound issues, being that they realistically portrayed the absolute din of the streets of London at the time, but because of that, you can’t always hear the dialogue, and on hulu, where I watched it, there were no subtitles available.  Still, the absolute filth, violence and debauchery of the era seemed to be accurately portrayed and the map overviews were awesome.  While it is much earlier than the era I’ve been researching, I find it incredibly interesting.

 

Still on my TBR list are Judith Flanders’ The Invention of Murder, which I’ve been stalking a while but haven’t made the purchase yet, and The Poisoner by Stephen Bates, and Shocking Bodies by Iwan Rhys Morus, which I found while looking for the one I was really thinking of, Shocked by David Casarett.  Not sure how many I will get around to reading, because I will eventually get squicked out by all this (much like the Cesarian in the first episode of The Knick, I am freaking horrified by C-sections) and I will eventually (hopefully soon!) finish Lazarus Machine and have less excuse for all this morbid research.  🙂

 

On one last, amusing note, City of Vice reminded me of something with their episodes on molly houses, places were gay and/or transvestite men would hang out.  I mention one in John’s Gamble and when I came across the term originally, I wondered if in putting in all the are-they-gay wink-wink-nudge-nudge bits, they picked Molly Hooper’s first name as a rather obscure reference to this term.  I swear, this would be the question I would forget to ask if I ever met any of them.  I mean, it could just be a common British name for a female, a variation of Mary which has always been an incredibly common name in English-speaking and many other languages, or the fact that I looked up the meaning and the first website said “uncertain, maybe bitter” and while I think they meant that the meaning was uncertain, it made me laugh at its aptness.  If they were going strictly Doyle, he seemed to prefer the name Violet.

 

Anyway, now that I’m not feeling like either 101 degrees or about 10 degrees, I suppose I ought to be off writing more than this blog post! 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Writings

 

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Delete

I had another one of those writing days where I print out pages, cut them apart paragraph by paragraph, and sometimes line by line, and tape it together to try to make sense of it all.  I think I ended up moderately successful (finally) and have set aside the final read-through until tomorrow.  But this brings me to a lesson today.  Delete.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “kill your darlings” and it definitely felt that way today.  I had written and rewritten chapter 74 on Lazarus Machine a dozen times.  I had paragraphs I really liked but they didn’t seem to fit together.  I had two paragraphs I liked, but they said the same thing.  I wanted to mention this and that and the other thing, when, in the end, it all just really needed to go.  I had to delete things.

I’ve been stuck on this chapter for ages (mostly not working on the story at all because I was so frustrated with it) and what really sucks is that it’s not even a particularly important chapter!  I won’t say it is a filler chapter, but it kind of is.  The last chapter I posted ended with something of an exclamation mark, and this one is where the characters move into doing their own things.  Sherlock has his investigation and John has his medical work.

I swear, I can see the end of this story and the moves needed to get it there, but I’m just not putting in the work it takes to get it that final few steps.

At any rate, I managed to finally slice down the pages to a flowing, comprehensible chapter and not even feel the need to post things in my outtakes bin.  Yay!

On the other hand, I have only one more day left of my vacation and I am nowhere near close to accomplishing any sort of writing goal I had for myself.  It is April, and Camp NaNoWriMo has started.  Now, I’ve never managed to do anything during Camp, no matter what month.  This year, I told myself that I would take my week off and use NaNoWriMo principles to push forward in Lazarus Machine to try to at least draft through the end.  I was going to skip over where I had difficulties and press through the next chapters.  Easier to have a sloppy draft to work with than nothing.

I didn’t make that happen.  I didn’t say to myself every day that I was going to push myself to that goal.  I admit that.  I did try making myself sit down most days and focusing on it, but some days it was only successful for ten minutes, even if I was butt-in-chair for nine hours.  I am highly distractable these days.

Nothing was helped by immediately screwing up my previously reasonable sleep schedule and sleeping from about five in the morning until noon each day.  For pete’s sake.  This means that when I work at 7am on Tuesday, I will likely get no sleep at all.  Le sigh.  My own damn fault.  I’m just not a very structured individual, am I? 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Writings

 

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Can you find my iPod, Mr. Holmes?

Yeah, I have no idea.   And surely not interesting enough a case for Sherlock Holmes.

I have two iHomes, one in the kitchen and on in the craft room and the dang thing isn’t near either one.  I even cleaned off the kitchen table to check if it got buried there.  Nope.  (There exists the possibility that I am looking right at it, I suppose.  Wouldn’t be the first time.)  I went through my nightstand twice in case I put it in one of the drawers by the earbuds and charging cords, but no.  I keep trying to bring up a memory of the last time I saw it and I can’t think of anything.  I’m pretty sure I had it when I went to Chicago in June and I feel like I remember seeing it when I unpacked at home… and wouldn’t I have used it at least once since then?  I don’t really bring it anywhere.

To make a lot more whining short, it’s driving me kind of nuts.  I don’t even really want to USE it, but it’s driving me utterly mad that I can’t find it.

Anyway, I’ve had a better couple of weeks in some ways around here.  I managed to write and post a couple of chapters of Lazarus Machine, which pleases me.  I feel like I have a lot to do before the ending yet, but it isn’t insurmountable.  I am a little frustrated with the next chapter right now because I keep writing random sentences but can’t quite figure out exactly how detailed I want to make the chapter.  I don’t want some endless babble that really has no point in the story, but I don’t want all my research to go to waste, either.

Oh, speaking of, I got stuck in research hell the other day with this chapter.  So, the chapter takes place at a warehouse in the London Docks in Wapping.  I found a map of the area, and consulted my period map to get there from St. Bart’s, then was trying to find some clue as to what the warehouses and their interior would look like, as well as what cargo would be inside.  All stuff that would take a few sentences, really, and I could totally bullshit it all and who would know or care, really?

But that wasn’t where I got sucked in.  No.  There’s a major road above the dockyards that forms a sort of border and is also a major highway out of London to the east: Ratcliff Highway.  And in December of 1811, there were two sets of fairly horrific, violent murders along this highway.  A Bow Street Magistrate was appointed to run the inquiry and Runners were assigned to figure out the culprit(s).

So, you can see, with Lazarus Machine on my mind, I can totally see Regency Sherlock investigating this piece of work, one of his early cases, or perhaps something that inspired him to work with Bow Street.  For, of course, the mystery had a rather unsatisfying ending.  A suspect was detained, with the possibility of evidence against him, but he hung himself before reaching trial.

And again, there goes my Sherlock-detector, because what happened to the suicide?  He was carted through the streets and taken to a crossroads where he was buried with a stake through his heart.  (Oh, wait, here comes the good stuff.)  In 1886, a gas company was excavating in the vicinity and unearthed a skeleton with a stake through its torso.  To quote from Wikipedia:  “The landlord of The Crown and Dolphin, a public house at the corner of Cannon Street Road, is said to have retained the skull as a souvenir. The pub has since been renovated and the whereabouts of the skull are currently unknown.”

OMG, it’s Sherlock’s skull!  The full wiki article is quite interesting and detailed.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratcliff_Highway_murders  But of course really had nothing at all to do with what I was originally researching. Even should I use any of this idea, it would be a line or two, or perhaps I’d dedicate an entire short to Sherlock relating the tale to John.  That might be nice.  But not what I’m doing now.

Speaking of unsatisfying murder mysteries, I recently finished The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale.  I got it as an audiobook from Overdrive through the library.  The book is excellent, but the mystery it relates is rather frustrating.  Even when there is a confession to the murder, you are left dying to know if the confessor was protecting someone else, why they would confess in the first place since after five years, they’d clearly gotten away with it (more or less, as the entire family was under suspicion).  The murder is gruesome and horrifyingly sad and the detective Mr. Whicher is very nearly thwarted.

I had been interested in this book for a while and had not put it on my priority list.  However, the information about detectives (in literature and real life) in the 1860s was fascinating and exactly what I was looking for in a book at the time (much like the book about Mary Shelley and Galvani I was reading when starting Lazarus Machine… just freaking kismet).  When I saw it on the library list, I snapped it right up.

Now if only I could get a detective to come here and find my iPod.  🙂

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Writings

 

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A little stool in every room…

So I’m just killing time (and I’m a prolific murder of time) and so I stopped by the ongoing Russian translation of Lazarus Machine to look at the comments.  The translation is currently on chapter 27, just around the wedding.  http://ficbook.net/readfic/693739 if you’re interested.  I view it through Chrome, which will automatically translate the page (thought it comes out mostly unintelligible).  I like to look at the comments, just as I like to look at the comments on any of my other posted sites.

At times, the comments cannot even seem to translate properly, in the case of my favorite reference to umnichka John.  Looking it up separately, it’s a term meaning clever, in an endearing way.  Makes me melt.  Today, the thing that made me laugh was the translator replying to a comment made about the line where John is too short to kiss Sherlock without Sherlock’s assistance.  She said that (cleaning up for the choppy translation) John would have to put a little stool in every room so he could more easily kiss his husband.  Awwww.  LOL.

Anyway, I’m killing time I could be spending either job hunting or writing new chapters.  I feel past the hysterical sobbing stage of my depression and have passed into the utterly lethargic stage.  I did manage to write and post a chapter of the completely episodic series Experiments in Warmth within the last couple of weeks, and have one more chapter in that series done but for a paranoid series of adjustments I can’t stop making.  I was doing that with the chapter I posted, never feeling it was done, never feeling it was as good as it could be.  Every final pass I made changed things, then again, then again, and I finally posted it so I would stop torturing it.

Right now I have a couple hours before having to get ready for work, and several years of NaNoWriMo have shown me how much I can accomplish in a mere couple of hours, but I’m still having a hard time settling down to it.  I suppose part of the problem is my weakness with plot and, while I do know in a general sense what is going to happen through to the end of the story (stories) I’m not quite sure what happens in detail.  I find indecision rather plaguing.  So until I make the decision, I avoid it.  Which is a useless circle, really, since the more I avoid it, the further I get from the story in my mind.

I don’t want to be the writer who dries up for months and months, only to abandon the work entirely.  I want to finish.  The same problem applies to John’s Gamble, which I had originally said I didn’t even want to post until it was nearly done or done, and which now languishes in the same cesspool of depression as everything else, half-finished.

I’m hoping that NaNoWriMo invigorates me, but I’m just not certain this year that it will.  I’m still not certain what I want to do, with little over a week to figure it out.  Last year I started late and did not finish because of indecision.  I hate to think the same will apply here.  I suppose, though, I need one good thing to set me on a happy mental path rather than this spiraling doom I feel when I think of current events in my life.

Before I forget, I did stumble upon a delightfully apt Sherlock crossover fic with Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk, the very existence of which made me chortle with glee.  🙂  http://archiveofourown.org/works/1015760  So I suppose the world is not all bad.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in depression, Writings

 

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What to do?

Well, it’s October 13th, which means NaNoWriMo is about 2 1/2 weeks away.  Last year at this time, I was completely lost as to what I was going to write, having too many ideas.  I ended up starting a week late and not winning, though I put up a good fight through the end of the month.  I don’t consider it a loss, of course, because I am still working on the project and am (slowly) closing in on 100,000 words.  Actually, if I counted the extra pages I slipped off into another file for later use, I’d be over that mark.  I have, however, been lapsing on the writing altogether in the last few months.

Summer has generally been a tough writing time for me.  It’s not that I’m out doing things or anything, but more that I’m miserably exhausted and hot and can’t really manage much else with my day after work.  I gave a half-hearted attempt at Camp NaNo a couple times, but never made it much further than a day.  I can’t imagine how November works for me at all, being that work is busy and exhausting with holiday setup and such, but I can’t complain.

This year for NaNo, I’m again not sure what I’m going to do.  Again, I have several ideas.  I need to finish both Lazarus Machine and John’s Gamble.  I had hoped to have them done by now, but my emotional state has not worked out in my favor.  Job-hunting and crippling depression have been highly distracting.  My reduced work hours should give me more time to write, but it mostly just gives me more time to feel shitty about myself.

So, options on the plate include, but are not limited to: a historical romance novel that has been swimming in my head for several years now but has less than two chapters written; finishing my current projects, which, paired together, would most likely yield the required number of words; something entirely random, taking the no plot, no problem concept to its purest meaning (least likely); or devising a goal system for revising any of the prior NaNoWriMo novels I’ve written to finally end up with a relatively salable product.

Given my financial situation, the last would be the most advisable and realistic, really, since I really need to finish something, make it presentable, get to a point where I can say, this is DONE and I don’t have to consider/think/fidget/worry about it anymore.  I’ve tried this, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, in months following November, such as December, January, and Camp during the summer, but have never been quite successful at keeping to any sort of schedule.

I also fear ripping apart what I have done and stalling.  That is what happened to my very first complete novel, written in college.  I wrote steadily every week, had several hundred pages at the end, and then started to revise.  I ended up wanting so much changed upon revision, that the manuscript ended up feeling like a huge waste of time.  I’m not so sure that some of the things I wanted to change needed it (particularly in light of certain events in Twilight) but at the time, certain elements seemed childish and ridiculous (*cough*).

So what happens if I rip another one to shreds and am left with no useful scraps worth piecing together?  Should revision be this terrifying?

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized, Writings

 

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What the hell :)

I decided ‘what the hell’ and have continued posting my Gambling John story.  At this rate, I’ll quickly run out of finished story, (as I haven’t drafted the second half yet) but I’m not really concerned about that at the moment.  I just wanted a bit of something out there that makes me happy while so many other things were making me feel bad.

Anyway, I’ve posted up through chapter 7 now, so I’ll post 3-7 here to catch up.

Soon I’d better get something done on Lazarus Machine.  The villagers are restless 🙂

 

 

Mycroft’s Two Cents

 

Sherlock lounged in the chair facing Mycroft’s desk with the indifference of a recalcitrant student facing down a loathed headmaster.

“Brother, have you lost your mind?”  There was no need to question how Mycroft had found out about Sherlock’s little deal with John Watson.  He had spies everywhere that reported directly to him at all hours of the day and night.

“Hardly, Mycroft.  I simply arranged to get what I wanted.”

Mycroft Holmes’ thin lips tightened until they were nearly nonexistent.

“You’re going to track down a criminal with your newest illicit lover.  What happens when that extorter decides to turn his money-grubbing eye towards you?”

“Hardly a sound business practice for an extorter to choose me as a target.  It doesn’t matters to me if people talk; they do little else.”

“You may care when you’re thrown into prison for your indiscreet and indecent behavior.”

Sherlock scoffed, knowing Mycroft dangled enough nobles by their purse-strings to ensure Sherlock would never see time in prison no matter what he did.

“And you wonder why I worry constantly.”  The man looked sadly down at the little empty plate still perched on the edge of his desk from tea.

“Biscuits will only serve to pad your backside, Mycroft,” Sherlock lashed out impertinently.

“You’re no better than the malefactor for whom you’re searching, extorting intimacies from the victim,” Mycroft shot back.

The bright side to this conversation was that after Sherlock stormed out, Mycroft was free to ring for a servant to bring another slice of cake.

 

Baker Street

 

John stepped down from the carriage carefully.  He was healing well, regaining most of the strength in his leg, but it still sometimes weakened unpredictably.  His shoulder wound had healed better, despite the infection, but John attributed that to the time spent in sickbed.  He was certain that with regular walks, he would continue to improve.

He swung the door knocker after assuring himself this was the right address given him.  A young man opened the door, affecting a staid and proper aspect.

“Doctor John Watson for Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”  John offered his card forward.  The young man received it and nodded to someone just inside.  Another footman emerged to lift his trunk down.  John was ushered inside.

“Yes, sir, of course.  Mr. Holmes told us to expect you.  We will bring your belongings upstairs.  You may take tea in the downstairs sitting room, if you wish, or follow Alfred upstairs to take a rest.”

“I believe I will have tea.”  Tea was good, tea was calming, tea was every single day.  It was the last vestige of normal in John’s life.  Even at war, there was tea (though its authenticity was often questionable).

“Very good, sir.”  The footman showed John into the sitting room, where he made himself comfortable.  He wondered when Sherlock would make his appearance, whether he was even at home.  While he waited, he had far too much time to examine his own choices and behavior.  What was he doing here, preparing to play lover for some stranger for the promise of money?  What guarantee, besides the promise of an unfamiliar man, did he have that he’d receive the money he needed?  And even if he found himself able to pay, he would still be trusting that the faceless, nameless criminal would do as he promised and turn over the incriminating letters.

John tried to calm his thoughts, reasoning with himself.  He had Mr. Holmes’ IOU in his pocket, a luxurious roof over his head for the next few weeks, and the freedom to explore the most sinfully titillating appetites this man inspired.  His situation was little more precarious than it had been the day before when he’d struggled to win steadily against the odds.  Maybe for once, the odds were in his favor.

He ought to enjoy it, for what did he have to return to after the month was up?  A mouldy room with a snippy landlady who constantly harped on the fact that John returned to his room quite late at night?  He couldn’t return to the estate house as it was let for the year.  His sister Harriet had been living with her godmother since their father’s death and would do so until the wedding but their mother’s friend had expected John to take his own lodgings after his recovery.  Soon, Harriet would marry and be safely away on her honeymoon trip, and he would have only the most distant family and tenuous connections and few of either in London.

John listed the good that could, that would, come of this.  Harriet had a welcoming home until the wedding; John would have the money by the extorter’s deadline and ensure his sister’s happy marriage.  John would find a job more easily as another month of rest and recuperation would surely benefit his limp and could begin to consider his own future.  He may even meet someone in true need of a personal physician through Mr. Holmes, or at least be able to search for a position at a hospital.  All this for a spending a month of his time with Sherlock Holmes.  A month may go by quite easily, if he could quiet his conscience and assuage his shame.  And surely Holmes would not need him every moment of the day; there would be plenty of time for him to make inquiries of acquaintances and colleagues.

John was hopelessly optimistic about their future intimate relations; their kisses in the office of the Diogenes Club made his blood run hot in simple remembrance.  John hadn’t quite placed the man at first, but he’d finally recalled seeing him at Gentleman Jackson’s Saloon, stripped to his linen shirt, lean and rangy with a roguish air.  John had smiled at him; perhaps the first spark between them was already there.  If he hadn’t already been apprised of the blackmail, he might have considered that Sherlock Holmes had masterminded the whole plan just to trap John into his bed.  Of course, in the way of novels, a few flirtatious winks and honeyed words would be too simple for a brilliant and jaded protagonist.  He would have to play an elaborate game to win his conquests.

If he had, John mused, he was flattered in a twisted way.  It would be a lot of trouble to go through to seduce a retired army surgeon who hobbled around London on a cane.  He may have succumbed to a simple flirtation if his pride hadn’t overruled his loins.

John read too many novels during his convalescence.

The tea arrived, but Sherlock Holmes did not.  The footman acting as butler bade him to feel free to use the library as he pleased, and John spent a pleasant afternoon being astounded by the vast collection of sciences and philosophies.  Dinner was served informally, but there was still no sign of the man himself.

After dinner, the servant offered John a bath, and he was properly ensnared by what awaited him.  The tub was ridiculously luxurious and large enough to recline in.  The rising steam was scented with something subtle and masculine, spicy and foreign and was hot enough to soften his whiskers.  John washed and relaxed in the water until his fingers and toes wrinkled.  To John’s amazement, when he was finished, the water drained away through pipes installed in the townhouse walls.

He’d never felt so pampered before.  But as soon as the word fluttered into John’s head, he stopped enjoying it so much.  Of course he was being pampered.  He was essentially a rich man’s mistress, being tempted and seduced by luxury and wealth, only to ease the master’s way into his bed.  The realistic side of John wanted to keep enjoying it; at least Sherlock Holmes was interested enough to make the effort rather than just demanding John submit.

The footman helped John into a silk robe once he’d dried off and showed him into the adjoining bedroom.  It was elegant and pristine in appearance, but somehow cold and impersonal.  John wondered if it was Sherlock’s or if it was a guest room.  Surely such a fine bath-room would be adjoined to the master’s bedroom; however, there were no mementos, no trinkets.  He explored a bit.  A tall wardrobe did contain clothing, neatly pressed and folded shirts and waistcoats, with drawers of various neck cloths and smallclothes.  The desk near the window had paper and ink set out for use, but all the little drawers and cubbies were locked.  Still, John did not feel entirely confident that Sherlock Holmes actually slept here.  He moved to the bed, piled high with down pillows and what had to be the most expensive sheets he’d ever lain upon.

Most people found they couldn’t sleep in the face of anxiety.  But John had been to war, had needed to sleep whenever and wherever he could.  All the terror for his life was nothing when faced with sheer exhaustion.  As it was, he only had uncertainty for what might happen that night, or the next, or the twenty-eight after that.  That uncertainty, coupled with his stress and worry for his sister could be boxed up and shoved underneath this magnificent bed fit for the King.  John Watson threw his robe over the end of the bed, huddled under the covers and fell straight to sleep.

 

“I’m not done with you.”

 

John woke to lamplight and the scratching of pen on paper.  He jerked his upper half up awkwardly from the bed to stare at the intruder.  No, not an intruder.  Sherlock Holmes.  The man was sitting at the desk in a thick, quilted robe, shiny like satin but likely lined with silk against that posh skin.  It was dark blue, appearing almost black in the lamp and firelight, or perhaps it was so black it was nearly blue.  Either way, it made Holmes’ pale skin glow.

“Ah, so you’re finally awake.”

“What time is it?”

“Half-two.”

“When did you get home?”

“Twelve.”  Which meant if he had been at the Diogenes Club, he left quite early.  Many nights the club was finally escorting the last patrons outside as the sun rose; on occasion, it played host to revelries that took days to dissipate.

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

“I did not believe it to be a wise move to startle a wounded soldier in an unfamiliar bed.”

Holmes was correct, John supposed, as he still did occasionally have nightmares.  He now kept no weapon within reach of the bed deliberately because he’d done so for years.

Holmes fell quiet after his response and continued to write, the nib scratching the paper almost continuously save for the brief second he dipped it into the ink.  John’s heart had begun racing when he thought Holmes (ought he call him Sherlock? Lovers would surely use each other’s Christian names) might join him in bed forthwith, but as the lapsed time increased, John began to feel almost… disappointed.

Well, if Sherlock wasn’t coming to bed on his own, he would just have to invite him.  Perhaps it was the nap that invigorated John, or perhaps it was the dream of gray eyes and sharply-drawn lips.  He wanted those kisses from the previous day.  He wanted more, even if it was an engraved invitation to perdition.

With a playful quirk of his lips, John pushed down the covers to his thighs.  Sherlock’s head didn’t even flick in his direction.  John plumped a pillow under his head, reclining comfortably, but upright enough to still be able to view the man across the room.   Then he started trailing his fingers along his belly.  He’d love the feel of Sherlock’s fingers there more, but the light tickle of his own fingers was enough for now.  He stroked his other hand over his chest, tweaking a nipple and teasing it into rigidity.  John imagined Sherlock’s mouth there, with John’s fingers combing through his dark, curly hair as the man nipped and sucked.

John smiled in Sherlock’s direction, though the man still wasn’t watching unless he had the all-seeing eyes of God.  John let the hand on his belly trail lower, tracing the line where thigh joined hip.  He raised one knee and scratched lightly at the sensitive flesh of his inner thigh.  He combed his fingers through the dark blond hair around his cock and balls, carefully avoiding them while enjoying the exploratory touch.

It didn’t take much thought, seeing Sherlock’s damp curls, to begin to imagine Sherlock in that luxurious bathtub, or climbing in after him.  He could slide his hands over that slick, wet skin, lick away the water droplets, feel the steam rise from the tub and the conversely cool drips from Sherlock’s hair on his chest.

The hum he gave when he allowed his hand to grip his hardening flesh made Sherlock finally lift his head from his work and turn towards the bed.  If John was any judge at all, the man was instantly entranced.  Glittering eyes followed John’s hand as he stroked himself lazily and without rhythm.

“What are you..?”

John smirked.

“Are you trying to seduce me, Dr. Watson?” Sherlock growled, pushing back his chair roughly and prowling towards the bed.  His robe was unfastened.  The shadows in the room were deep, and only a peek of alabaster flesh appeared as Sherlock moved towards him.  John couldn’t move his eyes away.  He suddenly knew what it was like to be prey: heart pounding, mouth dry, breath caught.  He’d been to bed with people before, women, but why did this singular man make him feel so stalked, so caught?  How did Sherlock so suddenly make John feel like the about-to-be-ravished innocent when John had set out to seduce him?

“Depends.  Is it working?”  John couldn’t believe he’d managed to make the cheeky retort.

Sherlock was taller than John, and in fine form.  When he leaned over John, he utterly dominated John’s senses.

“I would have left the club much sooner had I realized you so highly anticipated our encounter that you would ensconce yourself naked in my bed.”  Sherlock gave John the most devilishly pleased smile.  John flushed, his hand falling away from his erection.  Sherlock’s eyes fell to it and one hand moved as if he thought to touch it, but changed his mind.

“This is the room to which I was shown,” John stuttered.  “If I’m disturbing your work, I can leave.”

“You are precisely where you are meant to be, John.”

The intimacy of being called by his first name by Sherlock Holmes was unbearably arousing and his cock twitched.  “Oh,” Sherlock said, as if he noticed and was pleased.

Sherlock shed his robe at the side of the bed, let it slip off his shoulders and fall to the floor without the least twinge of shame or nervousness.  His hands moved aside the coverlet and sheets more fully.  John followed the movement up to his arms where the muscles flexed lightly under his skin, to wide, defined shoulders that arched over a well-formed chest.  Sherlock may have been narrow and sinewy, but his state of undress showed off the toned muscle that roped over his long bones.

Sherlock’s right knee, and then the other, popped into John’s vision as he crawled onto the bed.  John’s eyes bounced from firm thighs to tight stomach, to dark and shadowed curls centered between them.  He swallowed, dragging his eyes away.

Sherlock’s eyes tripped down John’s body in return.

“John,” he breathed, making John’s body break out in goosebumps.  Even his nipples hardened at the sound.  Sherlock’s eyes were drawn to them, particularly the left where a tendril from John’s scar dragged low.  “John.”  Those sharply defined lips lowered to John’s chest, mapping the edges of the scar with the narrow point of his tongue.  John’s fingers reflexively buried themselves in Sherlock’s damp hair, tightening when his tongue swirled around the tight nipple.

John felt more sensitive than he’d ever been, as if every nerve ending attuned itself solely to Sherlock’s touch.  When Sherlock’s hands started to drift over his body, examining every inch, memorizing every texture, John could only sigh as he discovered how pleasurable a calloused fingertip could feel stroking the tender skin of his inner elbow.

“You surprised me, John.”  Sherlock peered up at John’s face, eyes soft and half-lidded for once.  “So few people ever do.  I expected to have to tempt you, convince you, lure you into my bed.”

“I am inexperienced with men, but I am neither ignorant nor innocent, Sherlock.  It could be important to know that about me.”

“I will not forget, John Watson.”

“Good.”

John suddenly blushed.  Sherlock noticed and his lips rose in a smirk.

“Blushing, after all that?  What naughty thoughts have crossed your mind, John?”

“I want you to kiss me… Sherlock.”  The name was added on almost as an afterthought, as if John were tasting the word on his tongue and found it quite savory.

“Oh, yes.”  Sherlock shifted so he was mouth-to-mouth with John, chest-to-chest, and nearly hip-to-hip, though Sherlock was slightly longer in the waist.  It hardly mattered that they didn’t exactly correspond, though, once their lips met.  Breathy, heart-racing kisses left John grasping for a handhold; he found the nape of Sherlock’s neck, the springy curls tangling around his fingers.  His other hand wrapped around Sherlock’s back to pull him closer.  His most secure grip, though, was the leg wrapped around Sherlock’s flank; Sherlock’s hips wedged between John’s thighs and they fitted together with perfect intimacy.

The kisses made John dizzy with lust, tongues dueling and then stroking gently.  Sherlock would pull back only to lay chaste kisses on John’s mouth, then moments later, demand entrance.  It tugged him much further down when Sherlock sucked lightly on the tip of his tongue.

“Touch me, John,” Sherlock whispered against his lips.  John’s hands obeyed, stroking that pale, perfect back from shoulders to waist, and lower, cupping and pulling that plush arse.  Sherlock’s cock had only been stirring to life when he crawled onto the bed, but he was now firm and interested and pressed along John’s length.

Sherlock stroked a hand along John’s thigh, the one he’d lifted around Sherlock’s hip, then dug his fingers into the softness of his arse as he pushed his hips tighter into the cradle of John’s.  A stuttered moan came from John’s mouth beneath his.  Yes, again, and that thought came simultaneously from both of them.  Sherlock did it again, even though the heat and friction would quickly become too much.

John whimpered when he pulled away, eyes lust-blown and blinking slowly as he watched Sherlock sat on the edge of the bed and opened the top drawer of a small bedside table.  He pulled out a small bottle of oil, which turned out to have a silky feel and considerable viscosity, and poured a little into his hand.  John watched with a twinge of jealousy as the man wrapped the wet hand around his prick and began to stroke, spreading the oil over the whole length.

And his cock was impressive to look at.  It was of a length commensurate with Sherlock’s height, and a pleasing width.  The foreskin had already moved down to reveal the head.  John shifted to get a better view, licking his lips as Sherlock’s hand slid up and down the shaft.

“Another time for your mouth, John, though I do want it so desperately.  Lie on your side, facing away.”

John did as he was told, though with a rod of tension against his spine.

“Don’t worry, John,” Sherlock rumbled as he pressed up against John’s back.  Of course he noticed the tension.  “I don’t intend to penetrate you tonight.  That is for a time when we are more comfortable together, or it will not be pleasant for either of us.”

The reassuring voice, in Sherlock’s particular deep tone, served to relax John a bit.  He only twitched a little in surprise when Sherlock’s slick hand pressed between his thighs, rubbing the oil into the crevice between and up along his perineum.  John submitted to the intimate massage, holding his thighs just slightly apart, a bit surprised at how pleasurable Sherlock’s fingers were, sweeping silkily over the tight pucker and forward almost to the base of his bollocks and back.

Sherlock teased a little, circling the tight hole, dipping into it just slightly and back around again.  The finger moved forward again, finding a rather unlikely spot and testing different levels of pressure.  Sherlock watched John quite closely, kissing his ribs as his breathing quickened, steadily increasing the pressure until John gasped.

“John?”

John had his face turned into the mattress, fingers clenched in the sheet.

“God, do that again.”

Sherlock did, watching avidly as John’s cock hitched upward and seeped several drops of fluid.  John’s hand moved from the bedsheets to flutter in the vicinity of his cock, clearly wanting to stroke himself but unsure if Sherlock would approve.

“Don’t touch.  Mine,” Sherlock breathed into John’s neck as he plastered himself against John’s damp back.  His cock nudged against John’s arse, prodding blindly for a moment before Sherlock found the right angle and slid into the crevice he’d so thoroughly oiled.  A few experimental thrusts found the optimal movement.

“Sherlock, please.  Touch me.”

A true downfall of this position was that Sherlock couldn’t clearly see John’s face.  Still, he could easily reach around and wrap his hand around John’s cock, slicking it with residual oil; and the sound of John’s moan when he did so was by no means muffled.  Keeping his hips rocking at a steady but indolent pace meant he could spend the time to tease John, alternating firm movements along his shaft with deliberate circles around the sensitive glans or exploratory fondling of John’s scrotum.  Sherlock particularly enjoyed the latter when he thrust forward and could feel the head of his own cock just there.

He also had easy and plentiful access to John’s neck, and he set about to mark him; each bite and suck made John arch his neck and groan, sometimes Sherlock’s name, sometimes just a wordless keening of pleasure.  They both drew it out as long as they could.

It wasn’t nearly long enough, in Sherlock’s mind, before his hips began to drive forth at a tempo of which he was not consciously in control, and John’s hands were clenched white-knuckled in the sheets to keep him from spilling before Sherlock was ready to allow it.  They rocked together faster, John’s hips moving forward to thrust his cock into Sherlock’s tight fist, thigh and arse muscles clenching as he did so to squeeze Sherlock’s prick with a blinding amount of bliss.

John spilled first, his seed erupting onto the bed below and coating Sherlock’s fingers with new slickness.  Sherlock had not yet released him when he reached his apex as well.  Sherlock’s spend trickled down John’s thigh, smearing between them as Sherlock continued to slide in the crevice until he could no longer tolerate the hyper-sensitization.  He panted against John’s neck, gratified to feel the other man slump against him rather than pull away.

Sherlock wanted to catalog the taste of John’s sweat, compare the drops in the small of his back to the ones on his temple.  He wanted to taste the semen that dripped from him.  He placated himself by pressing back against John’s backside once his spent cock had softened and running his hand over John’s stomach and chest.  John didn’t complain that Sherlock was basically painting him with seed and oil.

“Sherlock, that was extraordinary,” he finally breathed, shifting a bit until Sherlock let him go and John flopped on his back.  He was finally in a position where Sherlock could kiss him again, so he did.  John responded lazily, eyes closed even when Sherlock pulled back to observe him.  Sherlock couldn’t help but smile at the utterly satisfied expression on John’s face.  He kissed John’s jaw so as to not disturb the smile, and then forced himself to rise and get a cloth and some water.  John would be uncomfortable if their seed was allowed to dry on his skin until morning.

John allowed Sherlock to wash him, though now that the acute passion was exhausted, a touch of embarrassment returned.  He obligingly parted his legs and let Sherlock wipe his most intimate areas, but he blushed as he exposed himself.  When Sherlock was done, John shifted to a clean and dry portion of the bed and Sherlock tucked the bedding around him.

“Aren’t you sleeping?”  John blinked slowly at Sherlock.

“In a few minutes.  Rest.”

John dozed for a few minutes, waking to find that Sherlock was back at his desk.

“I can sleep elsewhere so I don’t disturb your work,” he offered again.  Surely Sherlock didn’t intend for them to share a bedroom; there must be another tucked away in this three-story townhouse.

“No, I’m not done with you yet.”

John had to fight back a smile, residual from the rush of climax, surely.  He lay back down, eyes watching Sherlock’s hair twitch over the collar of his robe as he wrote, dipped his pen, wrote more.  John wrapped himself in the scent of sex and Sherlock and let himself doze back off until Sherlock wanted him again.

 

Lestrade and the Suicide

 

John woke alone in the morning.  The solitude was a bit of a relief.  After how utterly intimate he’d been with the enthralling and enigmatic Sherlock Holmes, he feared the difficulty of appearing detached and professional in public – or even at breakfast.  He washed and dressed and tried not to think of the night before in too much detail.

Still, his cheeks showed a faint tinge of pink when he was shown to the room where Holmes sat indolent in a chair with a cup of tea and a newspaper.

“Good morning,” John said, cursing to himself when his face flamed hotter.  He needed to get his reaction under control.  John cleared his throat.

Sherlock’s eyes finally flickered up from his paper.  “Watson,” he said coolly before returning to the accounts of things happening in London.

See, John, Sherlock can comport himself like a proper gentleman; you can do the same.

“Have you plans for the day, Holmes?” John asked politely as he filled a plate from the buffet.

“No.  The city is insisting on being insufferably dull at the moment.”  Sherlock flung away the paper in his hand and reached for another.  One of the footmen retrieved the paper from the carpet, neatly refolded it, and handed it to John upon the doctor’s gesture.

“Have you eaten?” John asked, realizing as he seated himself that there was no plate in front of Holmes and there was an inordinate amount of food on the buffet for two men, especially if one was not eating.

“Doctor Watson, may I remind you that your guise as my personal physician does not actually require you to act in that capacity.”

The scathing tone of Sherlock’s voice did much to tamp down the lingering flush in John’s cheeks.  He found it much easier to focus on breakfast and his paper.  Still, John wasn’t about to let a whole meal go by in silence.  It took less than ten minutes for him to speak up again.

“I wonder what happened,” John said, pointing to a short article in the newspaper.  “I only met Captain Howell a few times, but he seemed like a good man.”

“Hmm?”  Sherlock barely looked up from the crime section of the paper.

“It says here that The Honorable Sarah Blackwell ended her engagement to Captain Thomas Howell.  I wonder what happened.”

Sherlock rustled his paper, turning the page and refolding it to hold in one hand as he sipped his tea.  “Likely Miss Blackwell found out about Howell’s predilection for a certain male opera singer.”

“What?  How do you know that?”  John was startled.  While he shared only a mild acquaintance with Captain Howell, having treated him for an arm fractured by a bullet, he’d never known the man to mention anyone but the girl he had waiting for him back home.  Sherlock merely raised an eyebrow in reply and returned to his paper.

“He and I have run into each other once or twice.”

John cleared his throat, took a sip of tea, and cleared his throat again.  “I see.”

Their breakfast descended into another bit of awkward silence until it was broken by a knock at the front door.  Sherlock’s ears perked up and he set aside his paper, gulped the last of his tea.  He bounced up and gestured to John.

“Come along, Watson!  Our presence is required at the scene of a crime.”

“A crime?  Holmes, what?”

“Don’t be slow, John.  I occasionally consult for those that pass for police in this city.  They’ve come to me with a case.”

“How can you tell that from a knock at the door?”

“Donovan always knocks the same way, five times, holding the door knocker instead of simply letting it clack once or twice.  Do hurry, John.”

John descended the staircase only to see Sherlock and an unknown man talking in the foyer.

“And who is this?” Donovan drawled, clearly delighted to be an observer to some immoral facet of Holmes’ life.  John was incredibly glad that Sherlock’s man had dressed him immaculately before breakfast this morning and that he had a starched, buttoned-up façade to show the constable.  He was also glad that Sherlock had conceived of a realistic story to relate as to their cohabitation, though John wondered why people might believe Sherlock would be in need of a doctor ’round the clock.

“This is Doctor Watson, my personal physician.  He will be accompanying me today.”

“Lestrade said nothing about you dragging along your physician to the crime scene.”

“Nevertheless, I require Dr. Watson by my side and Lestrade will surely allow it.”

John was quick to don his greatcoat and followed the two men to the hackney cab outside.  The ride progressed in silence as neither Sherlock nor the man he’d named Donovan seemed inclined to small talk and when John asked about the nature of the crime, Sherlock responded tersely.

“I prefer to know as little about the scene as possible before viewing it, so as to not defile my observations with presuppositions.”

When they emerged from the cab less than two miles away, Donovan pulled John aside as Sherlock swept through the open door of the boarding house and up the stairs.

“Whatever you’re doing with that man, I recommend you run fast and far away.  Sherlock Holmes brings no one anything but trouble.  He’ll destroy you the second he doesn’t get his way and never feel one iota of guilt about it.”

“Pardon me,” John said coldly.  He jerked his sleeve from the hand of the constable.  Perhaps he felt some certain loyalty to Sherlock, whether the man deserved it or not.  He had seen fit to take John’s problems as his own, even if it was because it served his own selfish needs.  And if John was later tossed out and forgotten, well, it was nothing less than what he expected anyway.

None of the officers stopped him from mounting the stairs and from there it was easy to find Sherlock.

“Why have you called me in for a simple suicide, Lestrade?  You do not need my confirmation when the gun is in the man’s dominant hand and he has left a note, several, in fact, to family and friends.  Even you can see, Lestrade, how deliberately he prepared for his death.  Howell rose early, or, more likely, stayed up through the night writing his letters, shaved and dressed to present the most respectable façade to those that might find him.  So melodramatic, that, suicide at dawn, all too common among so-called men of honor.  If you bumbling idiots have not noticed, this man is Captain Thomas Howell, who so recently became estranged from his long-standing fiancée.  He would have been distraught over the circumstance and thus took his own life.  Obvious.”

John made it to the door just as Sherlock approached it to leave, fuming.

“Yes, he did leave letters, Holmes.  One of them, in fact, was addressed to you.”

The gray-haired man’s exasperated voice stopped Sherlock cold.

“Give them to me.”

John looked over at the body, lying across the bed in full dress uniform, blood staining the wall and the bedclothes.  It was no shock to John, not after all those years at war, but the senseless loss of life still saddened him.  The gunshot was at close range, through the temple.  The captain’s hand was still wrapped around the butt of the gun, finger against the trigger.  It was, as Sherlock had said, the man’s dominant hand since the other arm had been significantly damaged by his injury and John remembered Howell being relieved that it was his weak arm anyhow.

John was afraid of something like this happening to his sister Harriet.  She’d been so distraught when she’d come to him with the blackmail note.  John had been surprised anyone had ever found out about Harriet’s first lover, but apparently her highly incriminating letters from the man had gone undestroyed.  Some enterprising servant must have come across them and was now using them, or had sold them for quick coin to someone who was willing to wait for and force a much larger sum.  John had promised to help.  In fact, he’d written her a letter before leaving his small rooms for Baker Street explaining he’d be able to produce the full amount of money when the time came for the exchange and necessarily indicating his address change.

Sherlock, meanwhile, had broken the seal on the letter addressed to himself and skimmed the contents quickly.  He handed the letter to John, who, confused, took it.  Sherlock gave him a significant look and broke the seal on the letter to Miss Blackwell.

“Oi, you can’t read the lady’s letter without her permission.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

“Just proceeding at the height of efficiency, Lestrade.  We could trek to Mayfair, wait while the lady weeps over the death of her captain, wait for her to read it through bleary eyes and sniffles, and then beg permission which she will surely give, or we could simply read it now and pass it along later as necessity dictates.”

John read through the letter he’d been handed.  The captain wrote to Holmes that he had been found out by an extorter and certain letters had been stolen from the dressing room of his opera singer lover.  He’d refused to pay the extorter out of a mix of honor and fury, and the letters had been promptly delivered to his affianced.  He did not beg forgiveness for his actions, only requested that Sherlock track down and stop the culprit before these terrible events repeated.

I know you will not be sympathetic to my plight, Holmes, but I rely on our most tenuous bond to request your assistance.  I never knew the man who threatened me.  Others must know, for I do believe I am not his first target.  For their sakes, as well as the sake of my dear Sarah, who will be heartbroken even as she evicted me from her future, I implore you to stop this man.

Sherlock barked at the constables to vacate the room so he could search for more evidence.  Even Lestrade seemed baffled by this instruction.

“Evidence of what, Holmes?  I thought you agreed this was a suicide.”

“Hush, Lestrade.  Watson, you stay.  Everyone else, get out so I can think!”

Lestrade rolled his eyes but did as he as he was instructed.  He was familiar with the ways and methods of Sherlock Holmes.

As soon as the room cleared, Sherlock began to spin in a slow circle, his eyes raking over everything.  John looked around, too, curious and eager to look away from the sad sight of the corpse cooling on the bed.

“If you were going to hide a letter from an extorter, where would you put it?” Sherlock asked.  John opened his mouth to reply, but Sherlock cut him off.  “No, not you.  Your concepts of pride and honor do not match those of Captain Howell.  You are willing to pay; he was not.  You sought a solution to your problem; Howell knew me and my reputation beforehand, yet foolishly did not seek my help until after his death.  Idiot.  He has made this much more difficult.  Where would a vainglorious wastrel hide a threatening letter?”

“I was going to say, he probably burned it.”

“Of course he would!” Sherlock exclaimed as if he’d thought of it himself.  “He would have been angry and embarrassed and tossed it directly into the fire.”  Sherlock crouched immediately by the small fireplace in the room.  “Shame his landlady was worth more than most.  His grate has been cleaned recently and likely several times since he received his letter.  We may as well go, Watson.  How do you feel about the opera?”

“The opera?  It’s still morning.”

“All the better to interrogate the performers when they are not performing, John.”

Sherlock brushed past Lestrade and dashed down the stairs.  Lestrade shouted after him, but the man paid no attention, having hailed a passing hack by the time John had politely moved through the constables in the narrow hall and down the stairs after Holmes.  Lestrade followed John out onto the street and demanded Sherlock speak to him.

After a deep, put-upon sigh, Sherlock acquiesced.  “Lestrade, it was suicide.  Your men can remove the body.  Be sure to go through the man’s belongings and let me know if you find a threatening letter addressed to him, though I doubt you will.  The man was being extorted.  I’m on the case!”

With that, Sherlock swung himself into the carriage after John and pounded on the roof to get the driver moving.  When they were a few blocks away, John fancied he finally couldn’t hear Lestrade swearing anymore.

“What did you do with your letter, Watson?”

“My letter?  Oh, it’s tucked away in one of my medical texts under A for aneurysm.”

Sherlock laughed.  “You are much less idiotic than Howell, at least, to have saved valuable evidence that may prove useful in tracking down the culprit.”

“You think that the same man is behind both threats?”

“I would be a fool to discount any possibility at the moment, but that is one of my theories, yes.”

The remainder of their trip into the depths of London was spent with Sherlock alternating between a manic sort of silence and sharp questions regarding the letter in John’s possession.

Suddenly, he said, “We’re nearly there,” and he directed the carriage to the mouth of a narrow street.  He stepped down and tossed a coin to the driver.  John emerged immediately behind.

 

Sherlock and the Case

 

“Where are we, Holmes?” John asked, looking around after descending to the street.  There certainly wasn’t any indication of an opera house or any sort of theater in this neighborhood.  The wider cross-street was lined with small shops and secondhand dealers, with a cobbler on the corner.  The people moving around were simply dressed but not caked with the filth of poverty.  It was a working class area, proprietors of small shops, perhaps, and respectable.

“Nowhere, yet.  It wouldn’t do to be dropped directly at the door of a molly house, now would it?”

John tugged the brim of his topper a bit lower over his forehead and followed Sherlock down the narrow street, through an alley lined with garbage and prowled by strays, and up to the back entrance of an unassuming building that John would never have guessed housed much more than a lowly pub and a few rooms for tenants upstairs.  John ducked in after Sherlock who spoke to a man sweeping the floor.  A coin flashed between them and Sherlock was given a nod and a room number.  Sherlock found the stairs and took the steps two at a time to the third floor.  John trailed after only to see a door open a crack in response to Sherlock’s incessant knocking.

“What do you want?”  Little more than a dark eye ringed with thick black lashes appeared between door and jamb.

“You know a Captain Thomas Howell?”

“I know a lot of men,” came the disaffected reply.

“He committed suicide this morning.”

The only indication that the resident of the room heard this pronouncement was the squeak of the hinges as the door swung further open.  The young man disappeared from the crack and Sherlock took this as invitation to enter.

The room was dingy and dim, the single window covered over with a haze of gauzy fabric.  Shimmering costume pieces decorated every flat surface, including the floor, though the majority hung along the nearest wall.

The young man suddenly looked particularly boyish as he wrapped his robe tighter around his waist and perched in a chair with his bare feet tucked underneath him.  The shape of his face had a certain sweet charm, though his dull eyes spoke volumes.  John sat where the boy gestured, but Sherlock stood, pacing the room and no doubt collecting every bit of the detritus with his eyes.

“When did the captain’s letters to you go missing?” Sherlock opened with the toss of a shilling into the lap of the captain’s lover.

If the young man was surprised at the stranger’s blunt question, he did not show it.

“About six weeks ago.  I didn’t tell Tom, but he found out a few weeks later.  He thought I was behind the threats, at first.”

“Did Howell injure you when he found out?”  John thought the young man’s face was showing the faint discoloration of much-faded bruising, but perhaps it was just remnants of powder from a performance.

“Irrelevant,” Sherlock announced, still taking note of the reaction, which was better than an answer any day.  “Had you any other gentleman callers who may have stolen the letters from your room?”

“No, Tom paid for exclusivity.  He said he loved me and could not bear for me to be touched by any other.”

“Did you love him?”

Sherlock raised an eyebrow at John when he interrupted again, but let the question stand.

The boy exchanged glances with Sherlock then answered John with half a shrug.  “He was handsome and wasn’t usually rough with me.”

“What did you think of his upcoming marriage?” John asked, curious if the boy had been jealous of his lover’s fiancée.

“Can’t say as it made any difference to me,” the boy replied, giving John a look that said he thought he was ridiculously naïve.  “Wasn’t planning on becoming his lady wife myself.”

John flushed.  What was he thinking?  Of course the boy knew precisely where his place in Howell’s life was, and that would likely be unchanged by the man’s marriage.

“Who else besides Howell had access to your room?”  Sherlock moved to the door to examine the lock.  The rim lock was fastened to the door on the inside, but the keeper on the jamb was loose enough that a bit of wiggling and some force might encourage the release of the bolt.

“Anyone who had an interest, I suppose.”

“Hmm.  Did anyone who worked here leave around the same time?”

“Rhetta’s been gone about a month.  She did a shite job on the costumes, but the audience didn’t seem to mind when the stitches burst open on occasion.  One night she told Steeds to shove the eight pence he owed her up his arse and sauntered out.”

“Do you know where I can find her?”

“She sometimes stayed in the garret above, but mostly with a man when she could.”

“Which man?”

“Any man.  The only place she’s likely to turn up is at Three Sheep.”

John saw Sherlock calculating in his head.  It was clearly far too early to visit a pub.

“We’ll go straight on to speak with Miss Blackwell.  Lestrade will have informed her by now.  Hopefully she will be able to provide some information on how the letters were delivered into her possession.”

Sherlock gestured to John, who stood.

“I’m sorry for your loss…”  John realized he had no idea of the boy’s name.  He nodded his head as if dismissing himself then followed Sherlock out the door and back down to the street.

“I’m sorry for interrupting, Holmes.  I make a horrible investigator,” he confessed as Sherlock raised his hand for a hack.

“It’s fine, Watson.  Your questions were the questions anyone would ask.  That you asked them did not impede me from asking the correct questions.”

“Thanks for that,” was John’s dry response.

Sherlock grinned.  “We now know a number of useful things, Watson.  It is likely that this Rhetta stole the letters and sold them to someone else.  She is an unlikely candidate for something as sophisticated as blackmail, but she would have been easy to approach for a small amount of burglary.  A few coins in exchange for a few letters, so very simple.  If we’ve any luck, she won’t have been paid quite enough to completely forget her employer.”

John nodded, but he wasn’t thinking ahead to the next step of the investigation as Sherlock was.  He was wondering how fate had entangled him with this inexplicable man, and for what possible reason.

“You ought to be more excited, Watson!  If we can hunt the villain down through the clues Howell has left for us, we may be able to solve your little problem as well.  That seems most efficient.”  Sherlock rubbed his hands together.  “Oh, I do love it when the most random occurrences tie together in such a satisfying way.”

John ignored Sherlock’s glee and remained silent the rest of the distance to the Blackwells’ door in Mayfair.  The knocker had been removed from the door, signifying that the occupants were not “at home,” though with several constables milling about, someone was clearly in residence.  Family friends and gossips alike were being turned away at the door.  The news of the captain’s suicide had apparently travelled faster than thoroughbreds.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Writings

 

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Teaser Morsel of Gambling!John

I’ve been sitting on the beginnings of this story for a while, and instead of whining and sobbing about how depressed I am, I thought I’d post the first two chapters on here.  I currently have just under 18K words on it right now.  I was going to save it for a special 100K word prize giveaway or some such, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to start posting it on AO3 or ff.net just yet (since Russians are already wondering if I am dead or abandoned Lazarus Machine), but I wanted someone else to read it.  So, if you’re into Johnlock smut and romance novels, here’s a tasty tidbit of Gambling!John.  (I also need a better, or actual, title.  Comment if you have a suggestion!)

Oh, and while I’m thinking of it, this is not set in the same world as Lazarus Machine.  It’s a separate Regency world with somewhat more realistic attitudes towards homosexuality, though I don’t delve TOO deeply into that for the most part.  I also must dedicate the plot of this story to the nutjob who bitched about the Sherlock Holmes movie “The Master Blackmailer” on Netflix.  Thank you.  🙂  It made me watch it and without that, I would not have gotten as far in this story without a plot to follow, and the flick takes some interesting liberties with the original story of Charles Augustus Milverton.  🙂

 

 

First Sight

The first time Sherlock Holmes saw Dr. John Watson was at Gentleman Jackson’s Boxing Saloon on Bond Street.  He was bared to the waist, displaying a reddened starburst scar on his left shoulder, muscled back slick with sweat.  Sherlock could anticipate each punch by the way the muscles of his back would tense beneath the skin, and he was inordinately appreciative of the way his torso would twist and stretch upon delivery.  The reciprocal blows were received with a guttural grunt that entered through Sherlock’s ears but seemed to sink directly into his gut and clench his insides.  Riveting.  Sherlock’s attention was more than captured.

Despite what had to be a painful assault on his shoulder, his sparring opponent displayed more signs of exhaustion and injury than Watson did.  Skill, stamina, willpower…  War, Sherlock decided, not a career in pugilism.  Lucky to have survived the wound on his shoulder.  The spread of scarring indicated infection, fever.  Building his strength at Gentleman Jackson’s, not his first time here.  At least three visits in the last two weeks alone, given the bruising patterns and fading.

Shirtless, showing off his scar.  Opponents thought it a weakness, focused on it.  However, likely nerve damage, Sherlock decided, made it a decoy.  A forceful fist hit but Watson rolled his shoulder with it and followed with a right so suddenly that his opponent was surprised right to the floor.  Victory.

The fighter, John Watson, walked past Sherlock, favoring him with a smile, perhaps because Sherlock schooled his face to look most dour much of the time, or he was just a friendly sort, or even that he was simply exhilarated from his triumph.  Or was he interested?  Sherlock couldn’t help but turn to watch him walk away.  His breeches were fitted with the most attractive buckle on the back, drawing attention to the line of his torso flaring to a firm arse and thighs.

Gentleman Jackson’s was not a place Sherlock hunted for conquests.  Too public, too full of men he may run into again, too dangerous.  Still, the man’s name wasn’t difficult to ascertain through overheard conversation and Sherlock locked away the knowledge in a new room that was swiftly filling up with tiny details:  Watson’s hair was fading from dark blond to gray though he was only in his thirties; the business of soldiering had tanned lines around his eyes and roughened his skin; and the business of being wounded and subsequently ill had made his frame more lean than it had been.

Sherlock turned away, next in the exhibition ring, more than ready to have the lust beaten out of his traitorous body.

***

The next time Sherlock saw Dr. John Watson, he was properly buttoned and laced into tight, fashionable clothes, every inch the starched, upright gentleman.  If the colors were a bit plain and not the vivid jewel tones Sherlock preferred for himself, well, that was simply an example of his respectability.  Sherlock found that somehow even more enticing, the idea of seducing an exemplary member of society.  But he would also have to be much more circumspect in his approach.

Watson took a seat at a hazard table in the Diogenes Club, a luxurious gambling hell owned and operated by one Mycroft Holmes.  Sherlock, Mycroft’s brother, was employed to keep the tables honest, relatively, and took his cut of the house rather than the amounts he won at the tables.  He preferred games of skill rather than chance, though his keen mind could calculate the odds in the latter with startling accuracy.  Fortune did not interest him, however.  The challenge of the game was enough.

The room was comfortably full; the doorman made sure that the tables were kept exclusive enough to attract discriminating players, but never let the place get that desperate, deserted feeling even in the small hours.  And when Sherlock had mentioned a certain name, just in passing, the gentleman in question had been welcomed into the club, much to his surprise.

Sherlock prowled around, observing the players and seating himself at any table but John Watson’s.  The man had not noticed Sherlock watching him, paying avid attention to the other players and each roll of the dice.  He was a serious player, then.  And he won, Sherlock was interested to note.  Watson was a cautious player, generally, but when he truly made a leap of faith, he was rewarded.  He played as if he could not afford to lose.

John Watson continued to display the combination of skill and luck as he habitually attended the hell over the next week.  Despite his steadily taking money from the other players, the gentlemen welcomed the young man to their tables.  Perhaps he regaled them with war stories or other amusements, or was simply pleasant company.  Sherlock overheard mere snippets when he was positioned at a nearby table and the raucous din of men at their entertainment momentarily lulled.

Sherlock continued to discreetly observe the man, careful that Watson remained oblivious.  He wasn’t a man Sherlock could proposition with a flick of his eyes towards an unoccupied room.  Still, at one point Sherlock was distracted from his card game long enough for one of the others at the table to draw his attention with a casual clearing of a throat.  Sherlock returned to his game until his first opportunity to excuse himself and then adjourned to his brother’s office.

 

The Offer

 

Doctor John Watson had been coming to this particular gambling hell every night for a week.  He wasn’t certain how a retired army doctor warranted entry to the exclusive building, but the steward had taken his name and bowed as he walked through the door.  The establishment was renowned for its lack of tolerance for cheats, which made it an attractive spot for those who loved the purity of a wager.  And it had proven lucky for John.  If his luck had held out, he’d have had enough of a stake to join the deeper games, the ones whose payouts would ease his financial troubles.

If it hadn’t been for that last stupid, impulsive wager based on a giddy rush of adrenaline and that calamitous throw of the dice, John would be at one of those fine tables right now.  Instead, he sat white-faced in the office of the proprietor, hoping to beg some credit, any small amount that he might turn into a healthy bank again.  John was nearly desperate enough to go to a moneylender, though that would only exacerbate his problems, delay the inevitable.

The door opened behind John and he rose up, leaning on his cane.  The gentleman who entered the room was not Mr. Mycroft Holmes, the owner of the hell.  John had only seen him once, moving deliberately to one of the tables and calmly directing the removal of one Lord Ashforth, who had apparently switched out the hazard dice for ones more favorable.  Mr. Holmes had been soft-spoken yet commanding.  With the slightest of movements, he’d had two burly bouncers escort Ashforth through the front door, but made it clear that he was the real threat, not the former prize-fighters.

No, that tall, auburn-haired gentleman was not the man who walked through the door.  The man who sauntered in, bowed very slightly to John, and stood behind the great, intricately-carved desk was raven-haired with eyes sharp as a stiletto.  In fact, nearly everything about the man was sharp: his clothing was arranged in crisp, definitive lines; his cheekbones were marble honed to a fine edge; his fingers resting lightly on the blotter were long and thin.  Only his dark curls were round and soft, though John imagined there was tension even in those coils, resilient as springs.

John flicked his eyes downward, away, remembering belatedly that he really ought to breathe.  To live, you know.  He retook his seat rather heavily at the imperious invitation, trying to avert his eyes from the rather striking man in front of him.  It wouldn’t do to have thoughts about this man.  He could, and would, control himself.

“Doctor John Watson.  You wished to see the owner of the Diogenes Club about extending credit.”  It was quite clearly not a question.

“Y-yes.”  John cleared his throat.

“You wagered very foolishly for a man who could lose everything.”

“Yes, I did.”  John sat up straighter and met the pale, keen eye of the man across the mahogany.  It wouldn’t do to deny it.

“You were winning a great deal of money, in a very methodical fashion.  Yet you abandoned your caution on a single throw of the dice.  Why?”

John opened his mouth, though he wasn’t quite sure what he was going to say.

“Quiet.  That was not a question for you.”  The man’s fingers steepled in front of lips that God Himself must have carved quite deliberately.  He was silent for a few minutes, moving only his eyes over John’s person.  John felt those eyes, those flinty gray eyes, probing into his every pocket and crevice.  He fought the blush that crept to his cheeks, determinedly forcing his mind to clear of everything except his purpose.

Finally, the stranger spoke so rapidly John could only just follow.

“You are a man of reasonable means, recently returned home from the war, where you had quite a reputation as a skilled physician.  No doubt many men’s lives have been saved due to your dauntless efforts, risking harm to yourself, even, to that end.  Your return home had as much to do with your inheriting the family estate due to the death of your father as with your injuries.  Unusual that the heir to an estate would be schooled in medicine or would have chosen a military career when he ought to have been learning to run the estate.  Either you were a second son unexpectedly elevated to your rank, or your father was a young, vigorous man, perhaps a second son himself, who valued service to one’s country, education, or, most unconventionally, thought that even gentlemen ought to have a proper occupation.

“No doubt the inheritance taxes were crippling, but that would not be enough to make you desperate.  After quite some years in the army, you’d be used to living simply and the modest estate left to you would be more than adequate for your needs.  No, your sudden need for money is for some other reason.

“You are a skilled gambler, doubtlessly honed among other soldiers and gambling establishments throughout Europe.  You may owe money to someone who has threatened you to collect, but that doesn’t seem quite right.  There is a threat here, though.  Interesting.  The threat doesn’t seem to be aimed at you.  Oh, protective, a sibling.  Trying to put together a proper dowry for a sister, perhaps, or pay the debts of a younger brother still at school?

“Neither of those quite add up to the desperation you’re now displaying.  Never play a game where you need to bluff, John Watson, for your face clearly shows everything going on in your head.  The sister, yes, and a wedding, but not a dowry.  Family honor?”  Those steepled fingers tapped against those sharply etched lips.

“Oh!”  The man leapt up from his seat and started pacing back and forth behind the desk.  “Extortion!”

John slumped against his seat, quite astonished.

“Amazing,” was the only thought he could force into words.

The eyes turned back to him and the pacing stopped.

“Most people are quite unnerved that I can know all their secrets, especially the ones they try to hide most.”

“I would imagine so.”

The eyes peered at John so intensely he could feel the weight of it pressing on the shoulders of his soul.  He did his soldier-best to not squirm under the scrutiny.

“Fascinating.”

The man came around to the front of the desk and leaned up against it.  His long legs stretched out perilously close to John’s.  John shifted his feet minutely, trying to hide it under the pretense of shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

“You came here to make a request.  I’ve been charged to inform you that Mr. Holmes has agreed to forward you credit of one thousand pounds, the amount you lost on your last bet.  I also have an alternative arrangement to offer.  Both options involve risk and closure to your financial difficulties.  My offer, however, will not depend on the further casting of dice, nor favors owed to the notorious Mycroft Holmes.”

“I’m listening.”  John’s hand tightened on the handle of his cane.  A million possibilities flew through his head.  This quite brilliant young man wanted something from him and he was offering the money John needed in return.  John would do almost anything short of murder to clear his current situation from his life.  And maybe even that, if he could manage to justify it.

“First, let me hear the details of the case.  How much does the extorter want?”

John named the figure, a quite debilitating sum.  After he did so, he wondered why he was confiding in this stranger, this man both pale and dark.  Granted, the man had deduced his very personal concerns after a very few minutes; hiding the truth would likely prove pointless.

“Why would he possibly think you have that much?  The sale of your estate could yield that much blunt were it not entailed, but few even of much higher rank keep that amount to hand.”

John could only shrug.

“Then it is likely that our miscreant perhaps owes debts elsewhere himself, or realizes you’re proud enough to do almost anything to get it.  What makes you think that this single payment will be the end of things?”

“I don’t.  As time passes, though, the scandal will become less harmful and perhaps less believable.”

“Once your sister is safely married, the reveal won’t matter so much.”

“Yes.”

“And you can’t just kill him, why?”

John almost laughed at the genuine sincerity of the question.  “I don’t particularly wish to be hanged or transported.  I also understand that he has a solicitor with access to the letters, which would be delivered upon an untimely end.  But thirdly, the fellow has taken great pains to remain anonymous.  I have been given a clear and undeniable threat, but I have no idea from whence it came.”

“Well, the man certainly reads enough sensational fiction to make a proper go of this, doesn’t he?”

John had to laugh at that, despite the bleak situation.

“Your offer, then.”

“You will earn my assistance, Dr. Watson, in my bed.”

John’s head jerked up in surprise.

“I… I beg your pardon?”

“You heard me, Dr. Watson.  Drink?  Mycroft keeps the finest Scotch whiskey, but rarely drinks it.”

The tall man progressed to a sideboard where he poured out a generous dram of whiskey and added a few drops of water.  John took the glass, shivering a bit at the cool brush of the man’s fingers along his own.

“You’ve caught my interest, Dr. Watson.  You can refuse, of course, giving any reason at all, whether your honor or your supposed lack of proclivities in that direction.  You may even plead a fiancée, though we’d both be aware of the lie.  But the truth of the matter is that I desire you and I have the means to offer the solution to your problem in exchange for your tolerance of those desires.”

John shot back the whiskey in his hand with a shockingly low appreciation for the fine, peaty aroma.

“What makes you think I won’t go to the magistrate with this indecent offer of yours?”  John’s voice was perhaps not as outraged as it ought to be.  “It’s madness, what you are suggesting.  Illegal.”  Whether it was the whiskey or something else he cared not to define, heat began seeping through John’s veins.

The man circled the room, always moving, never sitting still and every second demanding John’s attention.  He tugged on the lower edge of his waistcoat, making sure it was properly displayed beneath the cut of his jacket, and John’s eyes tore away before they drifted lower.  He took the glass from John’s hand to refill it, peeking over his shoulder to best display his elegant profile as he slowly returned.  When he handed John the glass, he placed a hand on John’s good shoulder, squeezed it in the most innocuous manner, but the thrill burst down John’s spine and straight into his groin.

“I observed the way your eyes shy away from lingering on my person.  Your breathing became quick and shallow when I walked into the room and again when I leaned on the front of the desk and stretched my legs near to you.  You’ve done a fine job of tamping down your reactions, but certain immediate responses to an attractive person are uncontrollable.

“You may play offended, Watson, but both you and I know better.  Legalities aside, you are at least one of the following: curious, intrigued, excited, or aroused.

“However, if the thought of a discreet dalliance with a man is too much for your nerves, you make take your credit and build your bank.  With your skill at gambling, if your luck holds, you may be able to raise the funds you need.  Precisely how long did you say you had left?”

John hadn’t.  “Two weeks.”  It had taken him that long to quadruple the small bankroll he’d been able to scrape together, which had evaporated on one foolhardy wager.  He’d have to trust that his luck would improve, for he’d have to make more reckless and impulsive wagers to make up for the lack of time.

Or he could give this man precisely what he wanted, which would be little hardship if he truly admitted it to himself, and rest easier knowing his sister could be happily married.

“Terms,” John croaked out.  He cleared his throat but couldn’t clear his embarrassment.  Of course he was insane even considering this offer.  It was illegal, for one, such desire considered immoral.  John knew this sort of thing happened, of course it did, but that it happened with such insouciance was mildly shocking.  No matter that John had more than once allowed his mind to wander in his self-pleasure (also a sin, but a lesser one rarely avoided) over bodies taut with muscle and scars instead of soft and curvaceous.  What happened in his mind was between him and God.  To actually succumb to illicit temptations…

“So you accept my offer?  I am delighted.”  John could feel the slow phrasing of the word “delighted” crawl all over his skin.  John wanted to see if the touch of that voice alone could make him reach the peak of pleasure.  Insane, he was definitely going insane.

“Not until I hear your terms for such an assignation.”

“Ah, negotiation. Not my particular forte, but I will endeavor to compensate.”  Finally, he sat, leaning back in the chair and pushing back from the desk so he could cross his long legs.  “I would have your undivided attentions for a six-month.”

John gasped.

“Six months?  But that…”

“Oh, do not worry yourself so, John.  I will likely tire of you long before and release you from your obligation.  But I do believe my compensation is more than generous for such a small window of time.”

John said nothing, feeling the heat creep up his face.  So he was to be a mistress then, for lack of a better word, a kept man.

“My sister’s wedding is in a month.  What would keep me from abandoning our agreement once the danger was over?”

“Watson, I thought so much better of you.  I would have suspected your honor would hold you to our agreement.  The arrangement is mutually beneficial.  Your extorter will cease to be a bother.  I may be in a position to recommend your services as physician to several wealthy clients.  And we will both experience pleasure behind closed doors.  But if I must threaten, you have already granted me access to enough of your secrets.”

“What if we are found out?  If the extorter, or subsequently the public, discovers the particulars of our relationship?  My reputation and occupation would be destroyed by such a scandal.”

“He could catch us in flagrante delicto and it would be nothing but his word against ours.  Simply take care not to provide written proof and show caution in front of witnesses.  My servants are well-compensated and will not tattle.”

“One month.”

“A single month, John?  I doubt that you will tire of me by that point.”

John wanted to snort at the overconfident statement, but he couldn’t.  He was too busy imagining the sordid acts in which this man might prove his self-vaunted skill.

“One month.  I will attend my sister’s wedding as a free man.”  John held himself steadily to his words.  Thirty days, he could take down his own walls and explore the desires he kept so tightly hidden.  He couldn’t imagine living with the subterfuge for longer than that, the guilt, the shame.  The end had to be foreseeable, when he could get back to his own life, to his plans for the future.

“Very well.  But we will begin immediately.”  The man rose and circled the desk like a beast tormenting his prey.

“Now?”  John jolted against the upright back of his chair as feline grace swiftly narrowed the space between them.

He leaned over John, his hands resting on the arms of the chair, his breath whispering against John’s lips.  “Now,” he said in a low voice that made John’s body thrum.  “A kiss, to seal our bargain.”

It was a bargain with a devil in a well-tailored suit, one who kissed like his lips were made for nothing else.  Well, maybe something else.  John couldn’t help but open his mouth to the man, allow him to stroke his tongue along the sensitive underside of his upper lip.  Just a quick taste, and that wicked mouth pulled back.

“Be my lover, John Watson.”  And that voice, that thick, smoky voice.  Why, oh why, did it affect him so?  Hadn’t he heard a multitude of deep voices in his life?  Why did this one make his thigh muscles clench, make his stomach jump, make his heart beat harder until there was nothing but the whoosh of his blood and that bewitching voice in his ear.

“Yes, God, yes.”

And those lips met his again and again, pulling back, tasting, pressing forth again until John’s mind was nothing but a fog of desperate need.  He moaned against those lips as slim fingers stroked the side of his neck, dipping under his cravat just behind his ear.  Holding back his response hadn’t even occurred to John; he initiated deeper contact with his tongue, flicking it over the full lower lip.

When the tall man stood again, smug and self-satisfied, John felt utterly bereft.  Despite the vainglorious attitude, John wanted to yank the man down again, push more than his lips against him.

“Go home, Dr. Watson.  Pack your belongings, leave word with your landlady.  I require you in my townhouse tomorrow afternoon.”

“I shall be residing with you?”  Had that been implied in the terms of their agreement?

“It will add credence to the premise that I have employed you as my personal physician.  The privacy of my home will aid in protecting your valued reputation, as well as our absolute discretion when in the public eye.  Also, I will require you to be available at a moment’s notice.  I do not wish to trek to your little room south of the Thames every time I desire your body.  And, trust me, Doctor Watson, I will desire your body, again and again.”

One long-fingered hand was still touching him, stroking John’s chest through his waistcoat under the lapel of his coat.  One fingertip found the sleeve edge of the waistcoat and John felt it with only the thin linen of his shirt between them.  He tamped down the impulse to strip here and now just to feel those deliberate fingertips all over his body.

“You haven’t even told me your name.”  Had John been so entranced he’d never realized the man hadn’t introduced himself until this very moment?  Apparently.  The response was a highly gratified grin.

“Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221B Baker Street.”

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Writings

 

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