A Picture is Worth a Thousand
Disclaimer: I didn't create Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson I am merely playing with them.
Author's Note: This was playing on my mind most of the night and is the first piece of Holmes slash that I feel comfortable in posting – I'm still not happy with parts of it but I don't know what to do. Enjoy.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
During my long and esteemed friendship with Mr Sherlock Holmes I never thought to enquire about his private life. He was a deeply private person and despite my curiosity I respected his privacy, in return, save the brief discussion concerning my late brother, he never questioned my own past. However an event in the late summer of 18-- would mark a change in our relationship.
Our rent covered most of the household bills, there was little need for either myself or Holmes to require regular access to our cheque books and ever since the early days of our friendship I had entrusted mine to Holmes' very safe keeping.
Over the years I had frequent gambling debts and I found that facing Holmes with the reasons I required my cheque book helped to keep my daemons at bay. You may say that I am a hypocrite for nagging Holmes over his own addition, but they are hardly on the same scale.
The one such time that a bill was required to be settled (that didn't concern the household) was when the local tobacconist called in their tab. On this occasion Holmes was out and I as I could not say when he would return I elected to pay the bill myself.
As if to test me Holmes had never made a secret as to the whereabouts of my cheque book, so it was simple enough for me to locate.
"Wait a moment." I told the boy as I entered Holmes' bedroom.
This was one of the rare times I had seen the room flawlessly tidy and I suspected that Mrs Hudson had, had enough of navigating the clutter and tidied it herself. I smiled knowing that Holmes was hardly going to be pleased!
I crossed to his dressing table and opened the top left hand drawer, there indeed was my cheque book alongside Holmes' own. He had never revealed to me the meaning of his middle initial and I had never pressed the matter, considering the nature of his Christian name I'm sure that his middle was equally obscure.
Also contained in the drawer were a few personal items (pocket watch and the such like) and a small leather box, no bigger than a cigar box. The box itself was unremarkable and I suspected it shut with a lock; what drew my attention to it was that the lid had caught on the corner of what I suspected was a photograph and stood slightly ajar.
Despite all my instincts telling me not to touch my curiosity defeated me and I carefully withdrew the box. It did indeed close with a lock, but in an uncharacteristic act of carelessness on Holmes part had caused the photograph to become caught. Part of me did wonder for a moment if this was another of Holmes' tests, however I chose to ignore this thought and set the box upon the table and quickly opened it.
Inside I discovered various documents which Holmes had chosen to keep secure, such as copies of his identification and birth certificate (from which I gleefully discovered the meaning of his middle initial) but these held little interest to me. It was the photographs (four in all) that made me draw my breath in shock.
They were photographs that no gentleman should keep, both subjects were naked as the day they were born and in the process of performing various lewd criminal acts upon each other.
"My God." I murmured to myself, sitting heavily down upon the nearby chair. I had always suspected that my companion may have unnatural inclinations but I had never taken him for someone who would possess such vile pictures. I glanced down again at the top picture, I almost cried out as I realised who one of the subjects was – how could Holmes be so careless?
"Is everything all right sir?"
The voice of the boy brought me back to my senses, I fumbled with the box anxious to hide the wretched pictures lest I should be discovered with them.
"Er, yes. One moment!" I called back hastily shutting the box away. I knew that Holmes would suspect that I had seen the contents but that was the least of my concerns.
"I'm sorry for the delay." I said to the boy as I emerged from the bedroom holding my cheque book.
"Quite all right, sir." He replied cheerfully.
"How much did you say the bill was?"
That evening I sat quietly smoking my pipe trying to think of my course of action. I knew that Holmes would eventually realise I had seen those damned pictures, the question was, did I broach the subject with him, let him know what I have seen, give him a chance to explain or destroy them?
"You're being unusually quiet this evening, Watson." The sharp tones of Sherlock Holmes broke my thoughts, I looked over at him curled in the armchair and found that I could not meet his eye.
"Forgive me, Holmes, I'm a little tired." I replied with no real reason to lie. "I think I shall say good night and head up to bed."
Holmes nodded, "good night, Doctor." and returned to his newspaper.
I stood, stretched and crossed to the door, as I opened it I turned to face him once more.
"You do trust me, don't you Holmes?"
He looked a little surprised by my question; "of course."
"And you would trust me with any personal matters."
"If I had any personal matters that required discussion, then yes, I would trust you."
"Even if they were difficult to talk about."
"If they were difficult to talk about I wouldn't discuss them with anyone. Why all the questions, what's got into you?"
"Nothing. I just want you to know that you can trust me with anything no matter how painful or difficult."
"I shall bare that in mind. Good night Watson."
"Good night Holmes."
I closed the door behind me and headed up to bed, knowing that I would not be able to sleep a wink.
I evidentially did fall asleep as I was awoken by my friend in the early hours of the morning. I raised myself onto my elbows and caught a glimpse of Holmes in the candlelight; he looked troubled.
"What you said this evening..." It was unusual to hear Holmes speak in such an unsure manner and I began to feel a little uncomfortable.
"Forget it Holmes. It was the mumblings of a tired man."
He crossed to my bed and sat down at the foot of it, staring into the candle. "You're quite right, I should trust you more." He sighed deeply, "you have often commented on my lack of affection towards women."
"You distrust women, I understand."
"No, no you don't." I felt uneasy concerning the direction of this conversation, I also had the sneaking suspicion that Holmes was drunk. I wished I could take back my earlier comments regarding trust, why had a raised the subject?
"You don't have to justify anything to me."
He set the candle upon my beside table and turned to face me. "It's not distrust or lack of affection, it's an aspect of myself that disgusts me."
"Then don't say it."
"This needs to be said, Watson." He rung his exquisite hands together and stared down at them not wanting to meet my eye. "I prefer the company of my own sex."
"I have often suspected as much." I admitted trying to catch his eye.
"I know you saw those pictures." He said quietly.
"I shouldn't have been prying, I'm sorry." Was all I could manage to say.
"They should have never been taken."
I sat up further, "the other man..."
"Victor Trevor." He said with some disgust. He looked at me for the first time since the conversation started, it pained me not only to see the tears in the corner of his usually sharp eyes but the flush of one somewhat intoxicated showed on his cheeks.
I wanted so desperately to hug him and tell him that everything was all right and we should never speak of this again, but I couldn't bring myself to move closer to him.
Holmes startled me by suddenly laughing – it was a harsh bitter laugh without a trace of mirth. "Yes, Victor Trevor. He not only had the honour of providing me with my first case he..." He left the sentence unfinished and lapsed into silence.
"Why were you sent down?" I asked breaking the silence. "You said you were at college for two years..."
"I should have been imprisoned." He spat angrily. "The Dean walked into my rooms and saw me... kiss Victor. He hauled me to his office screaming every curse under the sun, I was perverted, a sick excuse for a human being. He said I was lucky that he didn't want to bring the college into disrepute by calling the police. To save himself Victor told the Dean that I had forced the kiss upon him and that he was disgusted with my actions."
We lapsed into silence once more, I didn't want to press my friend further and neither did I want my own feelings on the matter to be known. I still felt guilty for forcing this conversation, but part of me felt privileged that he did indeed trust me with this dangerous piece of information. I looked at him and chose my words carefully:
"I'm honoured that you feel you can trust me with this. Just because women don't attract you, as they do me, doesn't mean that I respect you any less."
"Thank you." I detected a strained note in my friends voice. "That means a lot coming from you, Watson." He stood and picked up his candle. "I shall disturb you no further." He crossed to the door.
"Why do you have those pictures?" I asked
He turned to face me, "a certain recent acquaintance had them in his possession. Good night."