A Love Story Between Two Men, part 2
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Story: movie-verse, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Warnings: slash, PG-13
Holmes sat smoking gloomily, until he heard footsteps outside. It was Watson, running rather angrily down Baker Street. Why did he not take a cab home? Then Holmes realised his error. Watson must have heard from Rogozhin about what Holmes had said. For no other reason would Watson abandon all those pretty ballerinas.
So Holmes quickly rearranged his chair and lowered the lights in the room. He then set up his pipe apparatus that he had used to study 140 different types of tobacco ash.
"Holmes!" Watson called out furiously. Then he rushed up the stairs. "Holmes! There you are!" He saw Holmes's pipe smoking from the chair, and he yelled, "You wretch! You rotter! You blackguard!"
Holmes remained silent, just operating the foot pedal of his smoking apparatus.
Watson continued addressing the chair. "Of all the foul, unspeakable fabrications! What do you have to say for yourself? Well don't just sit there! Speak up, man!" He then threw his opera glasses at the chair, knocking down the pipe and apparatus.
Hearing the crash, Watson looked concerned and finally softened his voice. "Holmes? Are you all right, Holmes?" He set aside his cane and approached the chair, kneeling down. Then the doctor discovered the apparatus and realised that he had been tricked.
Holmes moved into a shaft of light and said, "From the sound of your footsteps I gathered that you were not in a particularly amiable mood."
Watson rose, getting angry again. "How! How could you invent such a dastardly lie?! What the deuce were you thinking of?" He even threw down the apparatus, knocking his top hat off his head, but not the red carnation still above his left ear.
Holmes went to shut the door. "Watson, you have my most abject apologies. But have you ever been cornered by a madwoman? She had no case. She told me through translation that she wanted me to father her child!"
"Her child? But she's--"
"Forty-nine. And yet she, and her director friend, persisted in the delusion that she could conceive still. How could I argue with such madness?"
Watson finally began to understand, but he remained upset. "But Holmes, you shouldn't have said such a thing! Tell her that you are engaged, or--or diseased!"
"I did, Watson. I tried to claim that I had haemophilia, of all things! Still Rogozhin insisted, and then you thankfully interrupted with your question about Russian, and it put a new idea into my head."
He shrugged. "It seemed like the only way to get out of it without hurting her feelings."
Watson sputtered. "And what about my feelings? And my reputation! Do you realise the gravity of what you've done? The possible repercussions?"
"So there'll be a little gossip about you in St. Petersburg. It will fade and be forgotten."
Watson shook his head. "These things spread like wildfire. I can just hear those malicious whispers behind my back. I'll never be able to show my face in polite society. Lord knows I'll never get another story published."
"Watson, you're running amok! No one would ever believe it."
"You got those Russians to believe it. I was leered at by eight male dancers!"
Holmes felt a pang of jealousy. "Naturally. You are attractive to both sexes."
"It's not funny!" Watson paced anxiously and went over to stand by the mantel. "Dishonoured, disgraced, ostracised! What am I to do?"
"Well, for one thing, I'd get rid of that flower."
Watson finally noticed the remaining blossom and hurled it aside. "Oh, enough with your jokes! Don't you see we're in the same boat?"
"Watson, you wouldn't be--"
Watson suddenly gasped in horror. "And if it ever got back to my old regiment!" He pointed a finger at Holmes. "You don't know the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers! They'll strike me off the rolls. They'll cut off my pension!"
"Then they are unworthy to have you on their rolls!" Holmes declared.
Watson looked at him oddly for a moment, and Holmes turned away.
He sat down and tried to comfort his friend, "It wouldn't matter anyway. I would support you, Watson. You know I have had plenty of income from wealthy clients." By God, he sounded like he was offering marriage, or at least an immoral household.
Watson did not see his blush in the dim light. "You would never have another client again, Holmes! Don't you understand how ruinous this is?"
"But it wouldn't happen! Watson, you have an enviable record with the fair sex. They would never believe such slander of you. Your reputation would remain intact."
Watson considered it. "You're right, Holmes." He cheered up and started to laugh. "Yes, I've got three continents of women to testify for me. We could sue anyone who suggested anything of the kind."
"Exactly," Holmes said. "You have nothing to hide, and no one would dare impugn your manhood." Watson was the most perfect, wonderful man he had known.
Watson smiled and sat down in relief. "But Holmes, really, it was such a shock. Why couldn't you have told me this instead of leaving?"
"How could I with all those women hanging on you?"
"I suppose so." Watson laughed. He reached for his cane and poked Holmes with it. "They were such lovely girls too. Couldn't speak a word of English, though."
"But you managed despite this impediment."
"Indeed." He chuckled wickedly to himself and twirled the cane in his hand.
Holmes closed his eyes and ached again. Why could he never stop this longing? After all these years that he'd worked to be rational and unemotional, he was defeated daily by this irresistible doctor. If only the lies he'd told tonight were true.
Watson put down the cane and started humming a tune from Swan Lake. "How does it go, Holmes? Do you remember?"
Holmes could remember the way Watson stared rapt in the ballet. He could remember sitting next to him in the dark box and wondering if he dared move his chair closer, so he could brush against his leg or arm. If he feigned interest in the ballet and asked to borrow Watson's opera glasses, could they lean close together to share them? Could he feel Watson's touch for just a little while?
Watson still hummed. "Holmes? Can you play it for me?"
Holmes swallowed. "I--yes." He got up and went to collect his violin and bow. The instrument was not so magnificent as the Stradivarius he'd handled today, but it was familiar and good enough to please the doctor. He started to play the melody that Watson wanted. He would have to go out and buy the sheet music tomorrow, so he could learn it all for Watson. How ironic, that Tchaikovsky was apparently queer as well. Perhaps this piece was a love song to that man's beloved too. Was it unrequited love? Could no one be happy who loved so unspeakably? He remembered what Watson had called him before. "You wretch!"
Watson meanwhile began to relax with the music. He took off his tuxedo jacket and loosened his collar again. He hummed along with Holmes, then went to pour himself a drink. As he did so, he reached to turn the light up again. He wanted to see Holmes's performance.
Holmes reacted with surprise and turned away.
But Watson had glimpsed his face. There had been tears in his eyes, on his cheeks. "Holmes?"
He wiped the tears quickly and struggled with his voice, "It--it is merely the music. And the story of the ballet--it was a tragedy." At least, he thought so, because he saw the tears in Watson's face at the end. Holmes had watched him so intently that he could not pay attention to the ballet long enough to understand a coherent plot. Something about a magical curse on a young woman. He only snapped out of it when Watson suddenly began clapping loudly as the ballet ended.
"Yes, Holmes!" Watson nodded and looked pleased. "Yes, it was quite heartbreaking." He came closer, astonished to find that Holmes was not unmoved by romance and love after all. "I'm so glad you liked it, Holmes. It was quite beautiful. Aren't you glad you came anyway, despite the madness of Madame Petrova?"
Holmes shrugged and tried to continue playing. He closed his eyes to shut out Watson's stare, but still he was aware of how close Watson sat to him. Soon he found that his fingers were no longer steady, and he began to shake. Before he could withdraw and think of an excuse to make, Watson stood suddenly and grabbed hold of his arms. "Holmes."
"I--it's nothing." He brought down the violin and bow and tried to turn away.
"Holmes." Watson set the things aside and pulled Holmes closer to him. He brushed Holmes's face and then suddenly hugged him tightly.
Holmes gasped and clung to him.
Watson whispered, "Why does it affect you so? Are you remembering something? Something painful? Did you have a tragic love in your past?"
Holmes blinked. So Watson was curious once again about his youth. Holmes had only this year revealed his brother Mycroft to Watson, and now Watson was obsessed with learning more secrets from him.
"Please, Holmes, you can tell me." Watson ran fingers through Holmes's hair and continued to soothe him gently.
Holmes swallowed and decided he might as well tell Watson something, to divert his suspicions. "I--well I was engaged once, to the daughter of my violin teacher, but she died of influenza." Women were so unreliable.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Holmes." He patted Holmes gently. "Did you love her very much?"
Not as much as I love you, he thought.
"What?" Watson suddenly stiffened.
"You love me?"
Holmes panicked, realising that he'd spoken out loud. "No! I didn't mean--there was another woman. Her name was Eunice." Not really, but it was the only thing he could substitute for "you" convincingly.
Watson stepped back and looked into his face, searching his grey eyes.
Holmes could not hide his emotions well enough to fool him.
Watson stared at him with tenderness, and perhaps pity. "Holmes, you--I had no idea."
Holmes turned away and tried to leave Watson's arms, but Watson held on.
"Then what you said to Madame Petrova--it was true?"
"No, it wasn't! It was a lie. We're not lovers."
Watson recalled what Rogozhin had said. "But you--it's true about you. And you want us to be... You love me?" He said it in disbelief and astonishment.
Holmes choked and stared at the floor. "I'm sorry. I--Watson, I did not mean to say."
"I know." He tried to pull Holmes closer.
"I'll move out."
"I'll leave so you won't have to see me again."
"You could not live under this same roof with me again. I'll go."
"Holmes!" They struggled together, and Watson made Holmes face him again, despite his tears. He looked so beautiful suddenly. Holmes had a heart after all. He could love. He did love. Watson was so moved that he kissed him.
Watson blinked and looked at him with fascination. "That--that's not bad."
Holmes shook his head. "Watson, you're not--you've never wanted..." Then he realized miserably, "You're just drunk, aren't you?"
"No, I--it's you. You're so..." He tried to kiss Holmes again.
"No, Watson. How much vodka did you have tonight?"
"Taste it." Watson kissed him more intensely this time, opening his mouth. Oddly, he tasted of red pepper. But he was so warm and delicious.
Holmes moaned and closed his eyes. "Watson."
"Oh, Holmes." Watson moved toward the couch and pulled Holmes onto it. He smothered him in kisses, enjoying the way that Holmes whimpered in his arms. Then Watson started to undo Holmes's smoking jacket.
Holmes reluctantly pulled away and said breathlessly, "Watson, no. You're drunk."
He shook his head. "That run home sobered me up."
"That's just what you say now. You'll feel differently tomorrow." He could not take it if Watson called him a dastardly wretch who had taken advantage of him.
"No, I want you. I l--"
"Watson, stop! Please, for me." He really sounded distressed.
So Watson finally withdrew his fingers from Holmes's clothes.
Holmes told him, "Tomorrow. If you love me tomorrow, then we'll continue this. But not tonight. Not yet."
Watson reluctantly agreed. "All right, Holmes."
"Thank you." Holmes extricated himself and got up.
Watson watched as Holmes walked to his bedroom door. "Tomorrow."
Holmes stopped for a moment and turned back to him. He whispered, "Goodnight," then departed again.
Watson sat there for a while, contemplating his flushed face and his disordered moustache. Then finally he rose and turned out the lights. He went to his bedroom and undressed, still thinking of Holmes. After setting his alarm clock, he lay down in bed and prayed that the night would be short. "Holmes loves me," he whispered to himself. "Why?" he wondered.
End of part 2