Well, I must say that the reception that my Sherlock Holmes fics have been receiving is quite the joy for me. It really makes me happy to see how everyone is just eating this stuff up. So, as a Christmas-Hannukah-Kwanzaa-atheistic representation of a holiday present, I present to you "Ankles". To be perfectly honest, this is more of a mockery of Victorian ideas of sexuality, and kind of a joke referring to how men during that time period were actually sexually aroused by something so simple as, say, a wrist or an ankle, in this case. This fic is DEFINITELY not to be taken quite as seriously as my others, but instead supposed to be kind of funny and fluffy. My only worry is that I might have compromised their characters a bit...
At any rate, this is for you, my readers, to decide. I hope you enjoy. And, of course, I warn the first-time reader of my fiction that yes, there is slash. Manlove. The works.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Bleh.
It was the firm belief of most of my fellow Londoners that Sherlock Holmes, brilliant mind that he was, had no inkling of interactional savvy whatsoever, and to the untrained eye of someone unacquainted to him, such a claim would indeed seem true. The extent of his "socializing", if one could call it that, was limited to either railing Lestrade with insults that his dense mind never truly comprehended, or asking Mrs. Hudson to brew a pot of his favorite tea—none too courteously, I might add. His love life, as well, seemed dry as the Afghan deserts that I had seen in my time as a military man. For the first few months of my residence with Holmes, I must admit that even I myself subscribed to this rumor, his surly behavior being the only proof that I needed. However, I soon learned that my dear friend Holmes was not the inept hermit that he appeared to be…the hard way.
I had just returned from the grocery, having been on an errand for Mrs. Hudson, who had taken a dreadful fall the day before, dislocating her hip and rendering her temporarily invalid. A frightening turn of events, since I had little skill at the stove, and as far as my roommate was concerned…well, to him it mattered little whether he ate for days at a time, had he the proper distraction. The trip had been mostly uneventful, save for an amusing conversation that I had had with the baker as he had packaged for me a freshly-baked loaf of bread. As I unloaded the groceries into the ice-box, I found my mind wandering back to it:
"Have yeh seen these women lately, Doctor? Lord 'ave mercy on me—an' a married man, at that!" I had been quite confused at first, unsure of what he had meant, though I had the looming feeling that the conversation was swerving in the direction of sex.
"Well, yes, I suppose I have seen them, Morris. What exactly are you…?" What he said next made me nearly burst into incredulous laughter.
"Their ankles, Doctor, their ankles." He flashed a toothy, yellow grin at me, pointing to his own meaty leg before cutting a long strip of parchment paper and placing my loaf of bread upon it. To me, you see, ankles were simply a knob of bone covered by skin and connective tissue, and I was beginning to wonder if Mr. Morris had been tipping too many bottles of his favorite brew.
"I…I'm not sure what you mean, Morris. Their ankles?" He guffawed as his deft and floury fingers wrapped my bread in the paper, the sound nearly cut off in his throat by the beginnings of bronchitis.
"O'course! Don' tell me you haven't noticed 'em. Prancin' about in their ribbons and bows and powdered cheeks while your'e a'sittin', mindin' your own business, an'—" Abruptly Morris had slapped the table with his massive palm, nearly making me jump out of my skin. "—WHAMMO!! They pull up their bonny skirts and flash their pretty little white ankle at yeh, an'…" He wiped his forehead and fanned himself with his apron. "Never saw the like." I couldn't believe what I was hearing: he was attracted to ankles?!
"Ah, well. I never really paid attention to them…"
"Yeh better watch 'em, says I." He winked at me rakishly and handed me my bread. "They'll get yeh every time. Lay yeh out on yer own operatin' table, if yeh know what I mean, hehe." With that, I quickly thanked him for his service and bid him farewell, vacating the premises to the sound of his perverted laughter.
Back in the present, I had finished unpacking the groceries and putting them in their proper places, chuckling at the memory of such a ridiculous notion. What on Earth could make an ankle seem appealing to any man? A knob of bone was hardly something to get hot over, that was for certain. For now, I was more worried about the current dilemma: what was I supposed to do about dinner?
"Ah, Watson. Back from the market, I see." Holmes descended the stairs, his violin in his hands and his fingers picking away, the tinny sound of the strings echoing in the otherwise silent room.
"Yes, but I don't see how much good it will be." He nodded gravely, looking me over carefully.
"Something is amusing you? Share, please? It's been a while since I've heard a good joke." I shook my head and smiled, waving him away.
"Ah, now Holmes, I doubt that such a thing would appeal to your…particular brand of humor." He raised a dark eyebrow and hit a rather unpleasant note on his violin, making me wince.
"Well, is that not up to me to decide? Come now, let's hear it." I eventually gave in to his request, recounting the tale of my colloquy with Morris Baker while he settled into his favorite chair, lighting his pipe.
"Hmm, ankles. I must say, the idea is rather amusing." I nodded in agreement as I sat across from him at the fire.
"Isn't it, though? The very thought of being…sexually excited by something so simple as an ankle is preposterous." Holmes shook his head and took a drag from his pipe, the smoke circling his head before rising up to the ceiling.
"I did not say preposterous, Watson, just amusing. It is not the fact that an ankle is an ankle that excites men. It is the idea of seeing the unknown. After all, women's dresses these days practically drag the ground, and their shoes typically cover the entire foot and go up to the middle of their leg, at times. How thrilling must it be, then, to see even a tiny bit of this unknown territory—a woman's flesh. In this case, their ankle." He finished with another puff on his pipe.
"I…I have never thought of it that way, Holmes…but all the same, it is only an ankle." He nodded, but his eyes were elsewhere, staring at a point on the wall behind me. "…Holmes? Are you alright?"
"Hmm?" He snapped abruptly back into reality. "Ah, yes. I am quite fine. I was just thinking about what we were going to do for dinner." I had almost forgotten.
"Yes, you're right. I suppose I could try to—" Holmes waved his hands at me, his pipe hanging from his lips.
"Nonsense, nonsense! We will go out. How about it, old boy?" I could hardly believe my ears: Sherlock Holmes, suggesting a public outing?! Preposterous.
"You are joking right? Or are you ill?" Holmes rolled his eyes.
"Oh, even us recluses need to get out once in a while, right? Let's go, just us two, and we can give Mrs. Hudson some peace."
"Well, if you insist…but you are cleaning yourself up first. You look awful—how long have you been sequestered in that hole of yours, hm?" A low muttering was my only response. "As I suspected. Go on now, get ready." He shot me a venomous look, and turned with a sneer, returning to his room to prepare.
The result that I received twenty minutes later was astounding.
Holmes had gone under a startling transformation. His suit, neatly pressed and clean, fit him perfectly, the crisp lines accenting his equally sharp features very well. Of course, I was certain that the reason that his suit was indeed so pristine was the fact that he had likely never worn it before. It was a dark forest green, the gold waist coat and cravat matching to the letter. It was his face, though, more than anything, that surprised me the most. He had shaved and his hair was slicked away from his face, framing it with a sleek black sheen. He smirked at me from the top of the stairs, and it was only then that I noticed that my mouth was hanging open.
"My dear Watson, are you quite alright?" I closed my mouth and nodded, reaching for my bowler.
"O-of course. I must say, old boy, you look smashing." His smirk widened as he walked down to me, his shoes clicking against the hardwood stairs. The look that he gave me sent shivers down my spine, as if he was ravishing me with his eyes.
"I could say the same of you, Watson. Shall we?" With his gloved hand he motioned for the door. I nodded and, stepping into the hansom that I had called, we began our trip to our restaurant of choice: The Royale.
"So, Holmes. What on earth possessed you today?" He raised an eyebrow curiously. "Oh, don't act like that, you know what I am talking about. You've never looked so…proper before."
"Ah. I suppose that the muse of class has touched my soul tonight, Watson. Or perhaps I just wanted to impress you." I couldn't help but roll my eyes at that.
"Of course, because you care about that. If you really wanted to impress me, you could just, you know, come out of that room more than once a week."
"Now that isn't fair, I do—"
"When you have a case. Name one time that you have willingly come out of that room when you aren't busy." His stubborn silence was my companion for the rest of the trip. When we did arrive, I opened the door and motioned out. "This was your idea. Are you going to sulk all night?" He sighed and shook his head.
"No, no. Let's go on inside." I smiled and we entered together, choosing our typical table by the window and settling in, each of us, to a glass of wine and water.
"So. What was it, really, that made you want to go out tonight?" He shrugged.
"I felt like eating something that wasn't charred, undercooked, or otherwise inedible, my dear Watson. I have seen your attempts at cooking and they are rather atrocious." With that, he stretched, and I heard his back pop painfully.
"Ah, well .Thank you so much for your faith in me."
"You don't have to thank me, Watson." He answered with a small smirk, to which I rolled my eyes and swirled my wine in its glass. The restaurant was not so busy tonight; only a few couples were visible from our table. The ones that were here were chatting to each other quietly and—I couldn't believe it—every woman that I could see was oh-so-subtly raising the hem of their skirts to show their ankle. I turned my gaze to the floor and—
Oh, he didn't.
Leaning his foot against the leg of the table, Sherlock had stretched his pant hem just enough to expose his sockless ankle, pale as the moon that shone in the sky outside the window. There could be no doubt that he had done so purposefully, poking fun at the story I had told earlier that day. But somehow, I found my gaze almost locked upon that ankle, my imagination wandering. What could be attached? Unconsciously, I leaned forward in my seat, wanting almost desperately to get a closer look and to betray my former statement. From his chair, Sherlock smiled victoriously.
"Watson, are you quite alright?" I didn't answer at first, my eyes focused on that pallid stripe of flesh beckoning from underneath Holmes' green pants.
"Ah…fine, I'm fine."I straightened in my own chair and straightened my jacket, glancing over at the waiter who was bringing our usual. "Here comes our dinner! Lovely, lovely." I rubbed my hands together with exaggerated enthusiasm. "Let's eat, then."
"Yes, yes. Let's eat." Holmes agreed, but that smug smirk remained plastered across his face throughout the entire meal. I tried my very hardest to keep my mind zeroed in upon my chicken and red potatoes, but the harder I strove to focus, the further the bloody devil stretched his leg out toward me, exposing more and more of his thrice-damned ankle. Finally I could sit by and watch him shamelessly tease me no further.
"Holmes. Stop it this instant." He raised an eyebrow at me, cutting into his own meal, a leg of lamb.
"Stop what this instant, Watson?" Chuckling, he took a bite. I rolled my eyes and leaned over the table, hissing at him in a low whisper so as not to alert the other guests to the personal nature of our conversation.
"You know precisely what I am talking about, you lout. Stop…"
"What? Making myself comfortable at the dinner table? What would you rather me do, my dear Watson? Sit straight as a beanpole and make myself miserable?"
"You are making me miserable!" I clenched my knife in my hand and viciously dug it into one of my remaining potatoes and tried not to let my face flush any more than it had to. As I labored, he sat his chin into his palm and smiled at me victoriously.
"Then am I to assume that I have made my point?" The poor legume practically flew across my plate.
"And what point is that?" There was silence for a moment, and then…well, if it hadn't been done to me, I would not have believed that any decent gentleman would have done such a thing in public. Then again, I had to remember who I was talking to. "Get that off of my leg this instant." He merely smirked and continued his ministrations, sliding his bare skin of his ankle against that of my leg beneath the tablecloth.
"Why, Watson—I thought that there was nothing attractive about an ankle."
"Is that what this is about?!" I spat at him as he sat staring at me, that incorrigible grin like a gash across his face. "For God's sake, Holmes, it was simply an observation!"
"And it is my observation that you are becoming rather aroused at the sight of my ankle." He shrugged and, finally, removed himself from my calf. "Well. I believe I have satisfied my appetite for one night, Watson. Shall we head home?" I could not believe his audacity. To have teased me so mercilessly, then disregarded it as nothing but a tool for his amusement?! I had never seen the like in my life.
"Yes." I answered shortly through gritted teeth. "Let's." I rose and left him behind, rushing for the walk outside after paying for both of our meals. At the very least, picking up his tab may avoid any future conversation that I was to have with him.
"Watson?" He called after me and I ignored him. "Watson, really. It was a joke! A joke, man!" Crossing his arms, he frowned at me indignantly. "Well, I see that trying to please you is quite impossible. I try to go out of my way to have a bit of fun with you, and you shun me."
"Pah, have fun with me. Well, I am sure you did." We said nothing for the longest time while we waited for our carriage. The air around us began to swirl with snow, and I tightened my scarf around my neck. Holmes was looking at me from beneath his lashes, but I knew better than to give him any inkling that I may have noticed him. I stared out into the opposite street, where a young lady was brushing her hair in her living room.
"Watson?" He finally spoke.
"I…am sorry if I…offended you." I sighed, my breath rising as steam in the cold air.
"It is quite alright, Holmes. I just wish that I—"
"That I knew what the devil has possessed you. First, you suggest dinner: you, the interminable hermit, suggest a public venture. Then you…do this. I don't understand it!" I threw my hands up into the air. "It's as if you…have become a entirely different person."
"And that upsets you?" He glanced over me curiously.
"Frankly, yes. It does. I have just became accustomed to your strange antics and you have turned them completely around." Silence again. I turned my gaze to the empty streets; it was a rare sight in London. Holmes seemed to have noticed as well, but gave no comment.
"I am sorry, Watson. Would you like to know why I decided to change this once?"
"Why? Why did you want to change?"I focused my gaze back upon him, and Holmes put his hands into his coat pockets, his smile tarnished with the slightest traces of disappointment.
"Because, my dear Watson, it is your birthday and you have completely forgotten." At this, I was completely speechless. Had I…? No, I couldn't have. "Today is your thirty-second birthday, Watson, and I thought that, perhaps, today would be the day that I could tell you…show you that I…" He grew despondently silent, turning his face away from me, and I realized, finally, what he had been attempting to convey to me. In his own awkward, altogether unnecessarily confusing way, he had been trying to illustrate to me that he cared for me.
"Holmes…" What could I say to that? Not only had I made a total dunce of myself by forgetting my own birthday, I had also hurt the feelings of the only other man that I could call a true friend. On that quiet street, with only the snowflakes and stray cats as witness, I put my arms around him and kissed his forehead. His dark eyes widened and he looked into mine with a look of utter wonder. "Let's go home." I linked my arm with his and walked him back to 221B Baker Street, trying not to smile at his dumbfounded expression and at last understanding that looks can indeed be deceiving.
Happy Holidays, one and all.