Monday, March 22, 2010

Private Life, part 4

This is a continuation of the fic I was writing based on Billy Wilder's 1970 movie. ("A Love Story Between Two Men" Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

I had the perfect opening since in the film Watson really does run into the house without shutting the street door, and the credit sequence really does show a monogrammed ring in Watson's tin dispatch box. Though we never see Holmes using the ring's compass, both he and Watson wear large rings on their right pinkies throughout the movie. The fic is also influenced by the deleted sequences on the DVD, particularly The Case of the Upside-Down Room, and the lost scene of Rogozhin returning to give Holmes the Stradivarius.

There are few clear dates in the movie (and some patently contradict publication dates), but the opening narration sets the film in August 1887. Then after Holmes studies the tobacco ashes, some weeks go by in which Holmes is locked in his room taking cocaine. The Case of the Upside-Down Room occurs, and Watson threatens to move out, while Mrs. Hudson cries about their separation. Holmes stops Watson, though, with a deception, and then some unspecified amount of time passes before the Russian Ballerina scenes start. So I'm setting that part in October of 1887.

A Love Story Between Two Men, part 4

Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Story: movie-verse, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Warnings: slash, R

Mrs. Hudson came upstairs with breakfast, and as she set the table, she glanced down the corridor toward the two bedrooms. After the awful row she had overheard last night, she worried that one of her lodgers might lock himself in his room, or the other might threaten to move out again. If only their relationship wasn't so tumultuous! After five years they should have settled down by now.

When Watson emerged in his dressing-gown, he said, "Good morning, Mrs. Hudson," and took his seat at the table.

"Morning." But she put her hands on her hips. "Doctor, I can't believe you left the street door open last night!"

"What?" He blinked until he remembered. "Oh! I'm sorry, Mrs. Hudson. I forgot." He had been in such a hurry to run upstairs and rage at Holmes that he didn't close the door, let alone lock it.

Mrs. Hudson continued, "I only knew it because all your shouting woke me up."

"Oh, I-I didn't mean to," Watson looked contrite and touched his moustache nervously. "It must have been quite late."

She shrugged. "Oh, I'm used to your fights, doctor, at all hours, and I try to mind my own business when I can. I only got up last night because I didn't hear the door slam after you, and I found the door wide open. Gave me such a fright, it did."

He felt ashamed of himself. "I'm so sorry. You're all right, Mrs. Hudson?"

"Yes," she sighed in her long-suffering way, "but do be more careful, will you?"

"I will, Mrs. Hudson. It won't happen again, I promise."

She nodded. "Good. I suppose I can understand that you were too busy shouting at him to notice. He upset you that much?"

Watson nodded and regretted his angry words now; he wondered if perhaps his insults had been the cause of Holmes's tears last night. "Yes I-I was quite distracted."

"What on earth happened at that ballet?"

Watson fidgeted uncomfortably and worried about what she might have overheard. "I--I'd rather not say."

"Well whatever it was, I do hope you two have made up?"

He cleared his throat and blushed a little. "Yes, um, yes, everything's fine now, Mrs. Hudson." He wouldn't meet her eyes anymore and began to eat his breakfast.

"Ah that's a relief. I couldn't take it if you tried to move out again, doctor. Or if Mr. Holmes tried any more indoor pistol practice!"

"Oh. No, of course not." Watson recalled the day a fortnight ago when Holmes had shot up three cocaine bottles in order to keep him from moving out. Watson had been quite touched by the gesture, and he thanked Holmes sincerely. "You've made me very happy."

Watson smiled to remember the moment now, and most especially to view Holmes's remarks in a whole new light. Holmes had said that Watson was "most endearing" and that he should not "underestimate your many other charms." Holmes had admitted that despite his cold and unemotional nature, "I'm very fond of you, Watson," and he had said that he "would do anything to keep you here." Such words of love, and he'd never realised it before.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Hudson was opening the curtains on the windows, but she suddenly noticed the broken pipe apparatus in the alcove near Holmes's desk. "Oh!"

Watson broke out of his reverie. "What?"

She pointed out the mess on the floor.

"So I didn't imagine hearing a crash last night." She threw up her hands. "And what did I tell you? There's ash all over my rugs."

"Oh, um, that's my fault, Mrs. Hudson." Watson rose and went over to retrieve his opera glasses. "I-I threw it."

She shooed him away. "No, no, there's broken glass everywhere. Wait till I get a broom and dustpan." She hurried out to a closet.

Nevertheless Watson grabbed a pair of tongs from Holmes's chemical lab and picked up the opera glasses, setting them next to Holmes's microscope.

He heard Holmes clear his throat behind him, and he turned around.

"Good morning." Holmes looked so lovely standing there in his dressing-gown, with his bright eyes and a fond smile on his face.

"Good morning."

Holmes leaned against the wall and said playfully, "Have we made a mess, then?"

Watson nodded and rushed forward to him. "Mrs. Hudson found it, and she's getting a broom." He longed to kiss Holmes but settled for touching his arm. "Good morning," he said again, nonsensically.

When Mrs. Hudson re-entered with the broom and dustpan, Watson nervously jumped away from Holmes. She paused a moment to look at them oddly, then returned to the mess on the floor. "Did you tell Mr. Holmes about the door last night?"

"The door?"

"Oh yes." Watson explained, "I forgot to close the street door last night when I came home. Mrs. Hudson overheard us fighting, and closed it herself."

"Oh dear." Holmes teased him, "How could you be so careless? Our dear landlady lives downstairs."

Mrs. Hudson turned to respond to Holmes's sarcasm, but stopped when she noticed that Holmes was standing too close to Watson, and their eyes met in a peculiarly intimate way. She also noticed a red carnation discarded on the floor, so she asked them, "Have you gone and consummated it, then?"

"What?" They both turned to her in shock and fear.

"It's about time," she said. "I've heard of long engagements, but five years is a little much. I'm surprised you two waited at all, but I suppose you were afraid of getting caught by Lestrade or somebody, hmm?"

Holmes was staring at her wide-eyed, but Watson began to understand her.

He ventured, "You mean our marriage, Mrs. Hudson?"

"What else?" She tossed the flower to them, then casually went back to dumping the debris in the nearest bin.

"Marriage?" Holmes asked, still lost.

Watson explained, "Remember our fight about that upside-down case? When I was packing to move out, Mrs. Hudson told me that she was so sad about our--our divorce."

"I've been through one myself," Mrs. Hudson put in.

Holmes raised an eyebrow and glanced between them.

Watson asked her, "And you don't mind about us?"

"No, it's all right with me. I mean, love is very hard to come by. Don't I know it! You and Mr. Holmes have been together all these years, through good and bad. Having you in the package makes him more tolerable to live with. In fact it'll be a relief if you two finally release some of the tension around here; might make you less prone to having shouting matches. Or indoor shooting." She looked at Holmes significantly.

Holmes looked at Watson, then relaxed into a chuckle. "Yes, certainly, Mrs. Hudson."

"Thank you," Watson added gratefully.

"I'm very happy for you both." Mrs. Hudson finished cleaning up and started to go. But she paused and looked at them holding hands now. She told Holmes, "You should exchange rings now. Make it official."

They raised their eyebrows, then watched her close the door behind her. "Lock it," she warned, "when you need to."

Watson did so quickly, then turned and kissed Holmes.

Holmes asked him, "Why didn't you tell me of our marriage--and divorce--before?"

"I didn't think she meant it literally. I thought--maybe some black humour at the time. Anyway, I was trying to convince myself that I would be better off living without you, and I was worried that you didn't even come into my room to try to stop me packing. But then you interrupted us by shooting those cocaine bottles." Deeply moved again, Watson repeated his words from that day, "You've made me very happy."

Holmes smiled at him fondly, then caressed his hair. "Not yet I haven't." He pulled Watson back toward his bedroom.

"Holmes, our breakfast."

"Our consummation."

They returned to bed and spent a lazy couple of hours making love. They made attempts at fellatio, but neither could master their gag reflex yet, and they were undecided about who should take what position in buggery. So they settled for mutual masturbation as well as frottage. It made them feel like wicked schoolboys, but their kisses were quite serious.

Holmes met his eyes and asked, "Did you mean what you said last night? Almost said? That you love me? Or were you only drunk?"

Watson held him close. "I love you. I had not realised it was physical until last night, but I do love you. I'm so sorry for the angry things I said... shouted. I thought you had lied about us for no reason--some cruel prank--without any thought of the danger or the damage. If our reputations were in question, we might be forced to move away from each other."

"I should never want that. I have been silent for so long, for fear of driving you away."

"You need not fear now." He kissed Holmes, then after a pause, he suggested, "Perhaps we should exchange rings after all."

Holmes laughed. "You are being irrationally romantic. You know we cannot marry."

"I know. But we could still exchange rings." He pointed out the rings they wore on their right pinkies.

"You're serious?"

"Why not? I should like a token of your love to keep always with me."

Holmes scoffed and gestured to his ring. "A love token? My ring is merely a compass." Beneath the SH monogram he revealed a tiny compass inside.

Watson insisted on romanticism. "A hidden treasure, like your heart. A needle always pointing to your soul."

"Absurd," Holmes insisted, and yet he did not stop Watson from sliding off the ring.

Then Watson took off his own ring and put it on his lover's hand.

So Holmes put his compass ring onto Watson's pinky, and it did feel nice, to have his initials on Watson, a claim of ownership to keep the doctor's eyes from straying to any female again.

Watson entwined their fingers and kissed Holmes's hand, which now wore his ring from university.

Holmes said softly, "Are you sure Lestrade will not notice? He knows I have never graduated from university, much less the one you went to."

"He is not that observant. So long as we don't wear them on our left hands, on our ring fingers, he shall not detect the change."

"If he does, let me say that it was a foolish prank of mine, while you were asleep one day. I was bored and wished to see how long it would take you to notice."

Watson laughed it off, but grew slightly anxious. "We shall have to be careful, so that no look passes between us, such as Mrs. Hudson caught today. We must take great care."

Holmes nodded. "I am sorry for this terrible risk."

"I would risk anything for you." Watson kissed him deeply.

They were still in bed when there came a knock on the street door. Mrs. Hudson answered it and tried to send the visitor away, but he was most insistent, saying it was urgent.

"I am leaving country very soon!"

Mrs. Hudson said, "Mr. Holmes is indisposed. Maybe I can take that--"

"No! Let me see Dr. Watson," said Nikolai Rogozhin, not letting go of either object he was holding.

Holmes sat up when he suddenly recognised the voice. "It's that ballet director."

Watson was puzzled. "What does he want?"

Holmes looked worried, and got up to dress.

Mrs. Hudson still protested, "He's indisposed as well."

"Him also? But I must--May I leave a note?"

"Oh yes, of course. Do you need something to write with?"

"No, I--Hold this, please."

Watson got up as well, grabbing his dressing-gown. "Should I dress?"

"Shh." Holmes left the bedroom and went to the door. He unlocked it and peered downstairs to see Rogozhin trying to scribble a note on the back of a calling card while Mrs. Hudson held a violin case and a bouquet of flowers.

Rogozhin was indecisive about what words to use, though, and kept asking Mrs. Hudson if he had the proper word.

"What do you want?" Holmes asked.

"Mr. Holmes!" Rogozhin looked upstairs and quickly took back the objects from Mrs. Hudson. He then hurried up the seventeen steps.

Holmes said, "Shouldn't you be on the way to St. Petersburg now?"

"No we do not leave until tomorrow. Gives all the performers time to recover from the all-night party."

"I see. And what do you want now?"

"I bring you this." Rogozhin presented the violin case. "You left last night without it."

"If that is the Stradivarius, then I did not earn it."

"No matter. Madame Petrova does not mind. You have made her decide to stop looking for father. Brilliant men are too difficult. She will adopt child instead."

"Well, I am happy for her."


So Holmes took hold of the case, and he opened it to glimpse the beautiful violin inside. What wonderful serenades he could play for Watson with this!

Watson was listening from inside and when he tried to peek out, Rogozhin unfortunately saw him. "Dr. Watson!"

Watson tried to duck back inside, but Rogozhin pushed around Holmes to go into their rooms. "Dr. Watson, please."

Watson blushed and closed his dressing-gown more tightly.

Rogozhin looked at him and then began to realise what Mrs. Hudson had meant by "indisposed." He cleared his throat awkwardly. "I apologise."

Holmes came in and put the violin case aside on the table. "There you are. I told you I was not free. Before you embarrass him any further, would you please go?"

Rogozhin thought for a moment, then presented the bouquet to Watson. "For you."


He nodded. "To apologise, if you were upset last night. I thought maybe, you two fought over Mr. Holmes telling your secret."

"Oh, well, thank you." Watson took the bouquet from him.

Holmes said, "As you can see, I have already begun to make amends myself. There is something else you can do to help, though."

"Yes?" Rogozhin asked.

"Well, would you try not to spread our secret any further? We need to preserve Watson's reputation and avoid any unpleasantness with the police."

"Of course." He bowed deferentially. "Please enjoy fiddle. Good-bye, Mr. Holmes. Dr. Watson." He then walked away and shut the door behind him.

Watson remarked, "Well, he's not so bad a fellow after all."

Holmes said, "He was trying to seduce you."


Holmes took the bouquet from him. "Look at this. Full of flowers signifying passion."

"It was meant to be a make-up bouquet from you to me."

"Then why would he give it directly to you, and not give it to me to give to you?"

"You're splitting hairs."

"No, I'm not. He looked quite disappointed when he realised that you and I had just come from bed. He had hoped that we would still be fighting. And as for the note he was writing..." Holmes went out the door and hurried down to see the note Rogozhin had discarded. It was scribbled on the back of a calling card. "Aha!" He returned upstairs and showed it to Watson.

"Lovely doctor, do you want revenge? Meet me at Savoy Grill at 8:00 tonight. Nikolai." Watson blushed furiously. "Oh dear!"

Holmes tossed the bouquet into the trash, then locked the door again. "It seems I exchanged rings with you just in time." They kissed again, but this time Watson pulled away due to a growling stomach. "Breakfast now, though it's probably already cold."

Holmes laughed and they sat down at the table. "I apologise, my dear spouse."

More will come as soon as I tackle the Valladon case and write Ilse von Hoffmanstal's reaction to finding out that they are lovers.

Update: here's part 5.

1 comment:

love-bug-54 said...

Bravo! This movie is one of my favorites and you've captured their voices very well. I look forward to reading the rest of it.