Book: Sherlock Holmes
Relationship: Holmes/ Watson
Summary: Watson watches, and Holmes notices
A/N: There seem to be an awful lot of Holmes wants Watson, and though I prefer it that way, I wanted a shot at writing something where it is vice versa.
Vice of the kind that newspapers write about has always been a mystery to him, a rather darker side of the human personality that he would rather not investigate. He has explored the seamy underworld of London on those cases where his assistance to his friend has rendered it necessary to do so, and it is scarcely a secret what depths people will sink to merely in order to endure, and perpetuate their wretchedness. Whitechapel is filled with them; souls utterly lost to sin and vice, slumped in doorways, the ground swarming with urchin children, grinning impudently as they roll in the dirt which surrounds them. The scent of opium dens, perhaps typifies it for him, that rich stench of corruption, seduction and the Far East, the symbol of the rottenness prevalent in the society which funds it.
He knows of this vice, knows what is done, and why people do it, yet it remains a hidden letter to him as to how they can endure such a life. To his sensible Middle Victorian soul, the thought is anathema, that someone should want to drink large amounts of gin and viciously beat their family, that children could grow amongst filth with no opportunity to raise themselves out of the mire, that mothers drank, and their daughters sold themselves for money to pay the miserable rent, for enough to eke out a short life filled with dirt and misery. He does not understand those vices. But there are other more subtle, more degenerate vices that can insidiously work their way into a man, until it becomes a comfort, a staff rather than a symbol of evil.
Watson would deny this indignantly of course. A reasonable man knows of his sin, and a pious man would take steps to correct it. Watson would think of himself as being those things. Reasonable certainly, for this is the Age of Reason, and he is a part of the age. Pious even- he goes to church like a good Anglican, prays, gives money to the poor box on a regular basis. He says grace before he eats, and never doubts the existence of God. He is aware that thoughts can be a sin, and so he does his best to block thoughts from his head. He is moderate, the text the vicar preached last Sunday did little to shake his soul 'If thy eye sinneth, then pluck it out. It is better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven maimed, than to go to Hell whole.' The words meant little; he listened, and afterwards complimented the vicar on his exposition on the subject, sang along with the hymns and forgot.
Watson doesn't know its wrong, because he doesn't know he does it. He watches.
Watson went to a public school naturally. His family made sacrifices to send him there, since it was one of the better ones. He was thirteen, when the concept of sodomy was introduced to him, and he naturally recoiled, not that he had that much choice in the matter. It wasn't a sin; it was just something that happened when Williams called you to his study. He was fortunate that he wasn't a weedy chap like some of his classmates. The bullies, and the rugby players seemed to prefer them to the wholesome sort that Watson was, but it did happen to him. And when he was older, old enough to have a study it didn't seem entirely wrong to recoup some of his losses, because that's just what people did, what everyone did. It was perfectly possible to stand in the college choir when he was thirteen and his voice still hadn't properly broken, and meet Williams's glance with total equanimity.
When he's a little older and school is behind him, he doesn't think about those days, and if someone brings them up in conversation, they talk with jollity of the cricket, the rugby, what a clod Tucker was, the awful food and the scandal with Matron. It's like a kindly blindfold has been drawn over those memories, a blind which allows them with perfect impunity to be good members of society and still people who were fourteen and scared once.
So he isn't really aware that perhaps his glances linger longer than is probably appropriate on his friend, because that's just not the sort of thing that Watson would do. He's a decent chap, a good friend, a good sport as Charlie would say. When his gaze drifts, he's not really aware it's to his friends slender form, and when Holmes is hurt, he dismisses the leap of terror in his throat as concern for a friend, not anything else, nor does he acknowledge that the thought of moving holds some inexplicable terrors. He is aware that their living together in such a way, provokes comment, but the one time he tries to broach it with Holmes, they find themselves unable to agree. Watson is a man of his times, and the thought of actually acknowledging his thoughts remains a distant dream, let alone an active step towards their fulfilment. If it was suggested to him that he was a sodomite, he would look away in disgust. Men don't do such things. Or rather only the depraved lunatics that call themselves Aesthetes, wear their hair long and flowers in their lapels do such things. Holmes is rather more accepting, but that's because Holmes observes, where Watson merely watches.
Holmes accepts sodomy, because he is not aware of any proclivities towards it himself. He is not attracted to women, but it does not follow that he finds the male form instinctively attractive. He sometimes wishes he was, if only so he could cheer up Watson, wonders if a little experiment would be in order. Holmes has seen every disreputable thing a man can do, everything that can make him sink below the level of an animal, and compared to it finding comfort in the arms of someone of the same sex seemed no more illogical than the things the rest of the human race did at times. So when Watson tuts at the publication of that immoral piece of work 'The Picture of Dorian Grey' Holmes dismisses the complaints and reads it, thoroughly enjoying the sardonic depravity of it. Perhaps he can see Watson as Basil Hayward in his mind's eye.
Watson watches Holmes read Wilde's only book, and compresses his lips. Perhaps deep inside he feels a helpless roiling anger that someone else can so completely be themselves, as flamboyant and homosexual as they wish to be. But on his conscious surface, he is only irritated at the cover of the book, and wondering whether there are kippers for breakfast.
Watson might watch. But he doesn't see.
Please review. Plot bunny hit!