Also, I make references to the stories TWIS and YELL, even though they take place during Watson's marriage. The movie itself is very wonky on chronology, referring to cases like REDH and HOUN that should not have occurred yet, let alone been published. Not to mention that there was no Strand magazine in 1887, and there was no Russian ballet performance of Swan Lake in London before 1934. So to me this movie-verse is an alternate version of both the canon and real life history; here, there is no Mary Morstan, and she's either not mentioned in the cases, or Watson found some reason to make her up when fictionalizing the stories. So assume that Watson knows Isa Whitney only as a patient, not through Mary's friendship with Kate Whitney.
A Love Story Between Two Men, part 5
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Story: movie-verse, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Warnings: slash, PG-13
After breakfast, Watson went to his bedroom to dress, while Holmes took the Stradivarius out of its case and began to tune the violin. Then he played a melody from Swan Lake. Watson returned to the sitting-room with a smile, and he rang the bell for Mrs. Hudson to take away their breakfast.
Holmes paused to ask, "Do you like it, Watson? It is much better than my old violin." Though technically the Strad was older.
Watson nodded. "It's really a Stradivarius?"
"Yes, from 1709. It's magnificent."
"Wonderful!" How generous of Madame Petrova.
"Just listen to it!" Holmes closed his eyes and resumed playing, as Mrs. Hudson arrived.
While she loaded up all the dishes, Watson beamed and showed her the new ring on his pinky. She grinned knowingly and congratulated him before leaving.
After closing the door, Watson sat down on the chaise lounge to enjoy Holmes's serenade. However, he felt Holmes's old violin lying underneath the cushion, so he uncovered it. "Oh, Holmes, what shall you do with your old one?"
Holmes shrugged. "I could sell it, I suppose."
"Oh, you don't have any sentimental attachment to it after all these years?"
"Not really. I used to play it for my teacher of course, and for Violet."
"And for me."
"Yes, but you deserve so much better." He resumed his melody.
Watson blushed and felt almost giddy. But he looked over the violin to make sure that it had not been damaged, and while he caressed the graceful curves, he became nostalgic about the five years of serenades he had heard. Still, he ought to be pragmatic. If this instrument was sold at the local pawnbroker's, then perhaps it could do some good for some impoverished and grateful student.
To say goodbye to the familiar violin, Watson decided to polish it up and make it look nice for its next owner. He glanced around to locate the case and the bow, then he got up to retrieve the polishing cloth from within.
Holmes vaguely heard the clink of bottles, and his eyes opened. "No!" Before he could stop him, Watson had already opened the case. It was too late.
He was stunned. There, tucked against the lining, were three little bottles of cocaine solution. It was like some magic trick. A long-delayed, and terrible, magic trick.
"I-I can explain!" Holmes put down the Stradivarius and hurried to him. "Those are different bottles that I bought after..." He cleared his throat and snatched them out of the case. "I don't need them now." He put them on the mantle and almost went to get his gun, but he remembered that Mrs. Hudson would object. So he grabbed his nearby boxing statue and smashed each of the bottles until their liquid spilled over the hearthstones. Then he wiped the statue and his hands before turning back anxiously.
Watson still did not say anything, just staring at him in disbelief.
Holmes grabbed both his hands. "I'm sorry, Watson. So very sorry. I just--I feared that I would still crave it without any cases, so I hid an emergency supply. But I didn't..." Suddenly he regretted destroying the bottles without first showing Watson that they had been full and untouched.
Watson pulled away his hands and went to the breakfast table, sitting down heavily. He gulped and shook his head. "They're the same bottles, Holmes. I broke the seals and diluted them myself."
Holmes sighed and bit his lip. Of course. Watson always took care to dilute the cocaine to a 5% solution. He sat down in defeat and whispered, "I'm so sorry. Deeply, truly."
Watson would not look at him, feeling vulnerable and exposed. "I thought you shot them up? I heard you. I saw you."
Holmes reluctantly admitted, "No, I hid them first and then I substituted similar bottles from my laboratory. I had just time to fill them with soda from the gasogene and set them up on the mantel while you were packing."
Watson had tears in his eyes. "How could you?"
"I needed you to stay."
"Then you should have shot them!"
"I know! I know that now. It was an awful, shameful trick, a terrible mistake. It was my worst, worst Norbury of all! But please forgive me, Watson. Please." He tried to brush away Watson's tears, but the doctor turned away.
"All the things you said that day--it was all lies."
"All those weeks you spent locked in your room, and you didn't care how it hurt me. How desperate it made me. I nailed every bit of furniture up in that room, and I smuggled that body out from Bart's morgue. Had to find the right clothes to fit him, and get all those clues... I was a thief and a madman, all for you!"
Holmes nodded penitently. "I was an idiot, an imbecile."
"And after all that, you couldn't even make a sacrifice for me!"
"Watson, I did! I haven't taken any cocaine since that day."
"How do I know you're not just lying to me?"
"Because you always examined me every day to check on my withdrawal symptoms. Because--you have just seen me naked. My bare arm." He moved to push back his sleeve for Watson to inspect.
Watson asked him, "Then why did you keep those bottles, Holmes? You planned for me to let my guard down again, and then you would resume your habit in secret."
"I--" Well, he was right, actually. Holmes had a feeling now that he should not try to lie again, no matter what.
"Aha!" Watson said. "You deceived me coldly, and you planned to start again. It was no sacrifice at all."
"But it was, Watson! I needed it still, very much, but I stopped taking it so that you would stay with me. I let you--"
"I stayed because I understood you to be giving it up forever!" He snorted bitterly. "But I suppose you didn't promise me anything of the kind. You sweet-talked me with tender words, so I didn't notice that the broken bottles were not right, and I didn't pay attention when you put your violin in its case. You were checking on your damn bottles then, weren't you?"
Holmes reluctantly nodded. He was damned by his own stupidity.
Watson remembered that day miserably. "Then we laughed about Lestrade and talked about how to resolve the case without getting me into trouble. I was a blind fool!"
"Only because I abused your trust."
"And you say you love me!" Watson cried.
"I do! I do!" Holmes threw himself on the floor, clinging to Watson's knees desperately. "I loved you so much I couldn't bear it then. I-I needed the cocaine for the pain. The misery of being so near to you and yet not near enough. Seeing you flirt with all those women and knowing someday you would leave me for marriage. When I let you examine me every day, I-I could barely--" He broke off and cried softly against his leg.
Watson blinked and caressed his hair. "You mean, you took cocaine because of me? Not boredom?"
Holmes shook his head. "With no cases to distract me, I could think only of you, and what I could never have."
Watson's face softened with regret and sorrow. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you that I love you? Would you have requited my feelings then? Kissed me and touched me?"
Watson considered it. His emotions had been very near the surface then. But if Holmes had made the confession, Watson might have thought he was merely drug-addled, just as Holmes thought Watson was merely drunk last night.
"My darling, oh my darling," Holmes moaned in despair. He couldn't take losing Watson so soon after winning his love. After pledging their hearts with their rings.
Watson hushed him gently, and pulled Holmes against his shoulder. Seeing Holmes so broken, he wanted to forgive and forget it all, but his own wounded heart still felt doubt and distrust. "Holmes," he said finally, "will you promise me now to give up cocaine? Forever?"
Holmes nodded vigorously until his voice caught up. "Yes, yes, of course." He wiped his tears quickly and sat back to meet Watson's eyes.
Watson said, "And if you have any trouble stopping--"
Holmes shook his head. "You've weaned me already, and why should I need it anymore, if you love me too?" He tried to kiss Watson, but his lover turned away.
"I--it is too soon after learning of your deceit. You must make amends."
Holmes bit his lip and bowed his head humbly. "Anything you wish."
"I wish only this. Consider it part of your marriage vows to me. You will not only forsake all others, but cocaine as well."
Holmes nodded and ventured to entwine their hands. Watson permitted him to kiss the ring he wore.
Watson said, "I know you think you have given it up already, but I am a doctor, and I believe you may yet feel some craving in the future. I know you began it because of heartache, but you took cocaine long enough that your body began to crave it too. An addiction is but a sleeping fiend that can wake again. Have I not told you of my patient Isa Whitney? Therefore if you feel the demon awakening at any time, you must tell me immediately and permit me to help you. And you must never lock your door and shut me out again."
Holmes swallowed and promised solemnly, "Yes, Watson. I shall be faithful and true, as you have always been with me. I love you with all my heart."
"Oh Holmes!" Watson sighed and nearly kissed him. But he instead he said softly, "Tell me something."
Watson took a breath and winced. "You always kept stealing the cocaine from my medical bag, Holmes. Even demanded a fresh needle from me! It made me feel so used. Why would you do that? Why not go buy it yourself from the chemist's?"
Holmes met his eyes with deep regret. "I did sometimes when you decided to stop stocking your bag with it." Watson had tried that tactic a couple of times, but had to give it up when he still needed the drug for his patients. "But other times, like when I locked myself in my room, I did not want to bother with dressing and going out." During his latest binge, he quit shaving and scarcely ever changed out of his night-shirt.
"So you'd wait until I fell asleep, then sneak out of your room and ransack my bag?"
He nodded in shame. "Or when you were out of the house, claiming to be working at the British Museum." He shrugged. "I-I tried to make it up to you by consuming any food or drink that you left outside my door."
"So Mrs. Hudson told me." Watson still frowned unhappily. "But you wouldn't let me see you at all! I worried about you every day. Thought you were dying in there. I--"
"It would have broken me to see you then," he confessed. "I am so sorry, John. I did not mean to be petty and cruel. My mind was clouded, and I could not think rationally. I have never loved anyone so much before. Some nights, I would come watch you asleep in your bed and ache to touch you, only to berate myself for the perversion."
Quite moved, Watson embraced him tightly then and kissed his cheek.
Holmes hoped that this meant he was forgiven, and he attempted another kiss.
Watson gave in, kissing him intensely and murmuring "I love you." They kissed several times, struggling between Holmes's desire to climb onto Watson's lap, and Watson's desire to join Holmes kneeling on the floor.
Suddenly there was a knock on their door, and Watson immediately let go. He even stood up and stepped back from the table, realising that he had almost let himself get carried away. He did not want to make love again until he got to Holmes's syringe and destroyed it himself.
Holmes stared at him breathlessly, and Watson wiped his eyes.
Mrs. Hudson called, "I've brought your lunch. Do you want it now, or are you gentlemen indisposed?"
Watson decided that he needed Mrs. Hudson's presence to help his self control, so he said, "Oh, yes, lunch. Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. I'll let you in." He went to the door, not remembering whether they had locked it recently.
Meanwhile, Holmes tried to compose himself and sadly moved from the floor to a chair. Perhaps, he thought, Watson wanted to punish him.
So Mrs. Hudson came in and set the lunch tray on the table, but she soon noticed that something was wrong. Her lodgers were not looking at each other, and when she looked at their faces, she could tell that they had recently cried. It shocked her especially to see Mr. Holmes in such a state, and she was not sure whether to venture a comment. After all, Dr. Watson had oddly let her in, despite the private moment.
She went to the dumb-waiter to pull up another lunch tray, and there remained an uncomfortable silence behind her back. When she turned around with the tray, she saw the fireplace. "Oh no! What's that mess?"
Watson followed her glance. "Oh! All the glass. Wait, I'll get the broom." He went out to the closet.
Mrs. Hudson brought the second tray to the table, then quietly asked Holmes, "Have you two been fighting again?"
Holmes had not wanted to face her, but the evidence of their fight made any denial pointless. He nodded and said wretchedly, "I've been a fool."
"Oh dear," she said sympathetically, "and I had so hoped that you two would be happy now. Tranquil."
Watson had returned with the broom and dustpan, and he overheard her. He merely cleared his throat behind her, then said, "It--it is only an old fight."
She turned around boldly. "But it's not serious, is it? You can't divorce in the middle of your honeymoon!"
Watson assured her, "No, we're--we're still married." He glanced at Holmes at last. "We have taken our vows."
Holmes stared back at him and nodded.
"What a relief!" Mrs. Hudson came forward and hugged the doctor.
"Um, thank you. Excuse me." Watson felt rather embarrassed, and he quickly went to clean up the broken glass at the fireplace.
Mrs. Hudson said, "Oh, but there's all that water too. I'll get the mop." She went out.
Watson continued to sweep up the shards, though he muttered to himself scornfully, "Water."
Holmes asked quietly, "How can she not know after all these years? Especially if she reads your stories?"
Watson shrugged, "Perhaps she does know, and is only exercising discretion."
"I suppose. Though she speaks rather freely of our marriage lately."
Watson nodded, just making sure to account for all three of the cocaine bottles. He had to be sure this was not some other magic trick.
Holmes watched him and then glanced at Rogozhin's bouquet in the trash. Perhaps that was what he needed to do--buy flowers for Watson. But more than mere flowers. He needed to make some grand gesture to win back Watson's trust.
Mrs. Hudson returned with a mop and bucket. She quickly shooed Dr. Watson away from the mess, and steered him back to the table. "Go and make up with him. It's your honeymoon!"
Watson sat down again and glanced at Holmes with the slightest sign of amusement at their predicament.
Holmes took this as an encouraging sign, so he abruptly asked, "Why don't we go on our honeymoon?"
"What?" Watson thought he was joking to break the tension.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Hudson paused and turned in surprise.
Holmes continued earnestly, "Yes, why not? I need to make amends to you, after all, and what better way than a, a wedding gift? You deserve a holiday, Watson. We could get away from this insalubrious fog and travel somewhere more temperate and picturesque. I can take you to see more ballets, if you like. I could take you to Venice, and we could ride a gondola."
Watson stared in disbelief that Holmes was speaking such nonsense.
Mrs. Hudson interjected, "You should go, doctor! It's a wonderful idea, and would restore your spirits. It must be quite lovely in Venice. I should appreciate a holiday as well from you gentlemen constantly smashing things."
Watson raised his eyebrow, wondering if this was a prearranged plot between them, but there had not been enough time. Besides, what could she know about his plans to smash another glass object soon?
Holmes smiled at their landlady gratefully; she must be an incurable romantic. He spoke with more confidence, "Come now, Watson. We never travel except for our cases, and we should do something special to celebrate our marriage. We cannot have a public ceremony, but at least I can give you a proper honeymoon."
Watson gave in and said, "Book our tickets then, and I shall pack."
Mrs. Hudson offered, "Oh, I can--"
"No," he said firmly, looking only at Holmes. "I shall pack for both of us."
"All right," she said, but looked concerned and puzzled.
Holmes just nodded and said, "Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. Do you need any help with the mess?"
"No." She shrugged and quickly resumed cleaning up the fireplace.
Watson met Holmes's eyes for a moment and squeezed his hand. Then he began to eat lunch and urged Holmes to do the same.
Maybe after their trip to Venice I'll be in a mood to start the Valladon case.