Author's Note: In my defense, I wrote this to practice writing first person present tense. But I just can't help my passionate and intense love for detectives, solving crimes, gay men, Sherlock Holmes, Englishmen, and Robert Downey Jr (I support men who support men who love men). My writing improved and I accidentally fell madly in love with Doctor Watson as well. He and I are hella tight like that.
This is a one-shot, so embrace it tightly, but then let it go. Because it is a butterfly who would totally come back to you, but let's face it, those little dudes don't live much longer than like a month or something, so by the time it thinks "I should get on back now" it's gonna splat on somebody's windshield. So sad.
What was I talking about again?
Right. Men who love men. I think I explain myself fairly carefully in this story, but feel free to tell me off or ask questions.
This one is for Olof, who appreciated that I announced "Watson is totally giving it to Sherlock" in the middle of the theatre. Thank you, Olof, for laughing at my sarcasm and lame-ass jokes. I'm sorry this isn't funnier. The next one will be. Promise.
I knock on the door and wait.
He answers the door, and I see a very rare surprise written on his face. At first he says nothing, and I shift on my feet in the rain, too cold to simply stand here. His shirt is half-buttoned and what was once a cravat lies limply around his neck at his throat. His pants are covered in chalk and stains, hands wound in torn linens and plasters.
"Hello Holmes," I greet him, and bring a hand up to the brim of my hat, touching it lightly. I lean heavily on my cane to appeal to his compassion.
For a moment, I think he will not let me in.
Then he steps to one side and gestures for me to enter.
"I gave her the night off," he cuts me off. I want to be annoyed. If he gave Mrs. Hudson the evening off, then assuredly he had an appropriate reason. Whether that reason pertains to me, someone else, or a vial of something foul is unclear to me.
He does not offer to take my coat as I step past him and close my umbrella. Before it can drip onto the floor, I place it in the umbrella stand.
"I believe you were supposed to be attending a conference regarding anesthetics in Paris," he says. There is a twinkle in his eyes and I stiffen.
The surprise on the doorstep was feigned.
"A conference indeed," I reply and straighten my shoulders. "Bad weather though, I think. Not good for the health to take a long trip in this mess."
He slips his hands into his pockets and says nothing. A smile plays at the corner of his mouth.
"And you couldn't find a carriage to return you home?"
I don't want to answer this foolish question, not when I know it is just a part of one of his games. "Are you going to let me stay until the rain lets up or not?"
"You know you are always welcome here," he says, and holds his hand out. I take off my hat and give it to him. "And that you may stay here as long…" he pauses to place my hat on the coat rack, "…as you desire."
I unbutton my overcoat and place it on a hook. He says nothing, but gives me a long look that trails over his shoulder as he leaves the entryway.
"So, Watson, does Mary care very little that you leave her for conferences in Paris?" he asks me as he slumps into a chair and smiles at me.
"I think you ought to be more concerned with how I feel about you delving into my private life," I tell him sharply.
"Private life." He says the words slowly, rolling them around his mouth like a rich red wine. "Not so very long ago, your private life," he emphasizes it with a heavy-handed laziness that comes dangerously close to sarcasm, "was in the room next to mine."
I say nothing as I sit in a chair near him. "Perhaps that is why I no longer live in the room next to yours."
A horrible wounded expression crosses his face, and I wonder if I have said too much. But it passes, and he gets to his feet, picking up a full decanter and two glasses. He pours the liquor into both glasses and returns to his chair.
I hold my hand out to take one as he drains one glass and then the second. A little annoyed, I bring my hand back and raise an eyebrow at him. I do not need to see his face to know he is pleased this has irritated me.
"It is not as though I had to delve very deeply," he says, getting up again and pouring the scotch into a third glass. This one he hands to me. "I was also invited to the conference. I walked by your house this morning and Mary had a most dour look on her face." He reaches out to touch my lapel. "And you are not wearing a traveling suit, John. This is too thin, and the fabric wrinkles far too easily to sit on a train. You know better."
I take a long draught of the scotch, glad for the warmth after the chill of the rain.
"And you have not gotten a haircut in at least two months," I reply, gesturing at his wild hair. "The barber will not, I believe, be sending you a written invitation, so you'll need to find the initiative yourself."
"And all this time I'd so hoped he would stop around for tea and a trim," Holmes muses and moves to the window to look out at the rain. "Such a pity."
"Your hair will not stop growing because you are in a four temper," I tell him, and get up to pour myself another scotch.
"Then tell me Doctor, what sort of temper does it take to stop hair from growing?" He does not look at me as he says it, still staring out at the rain. "Not heartbreak either, I believe. Nor death."
Gruffly, I swallow the scotch and place my cup down on the table.
"You're being ridiculous again," I tell him sharply.
"Indeed." He turns back to the room with a faint smile on his face. "Why did you come to Baker Street, Watson?"
I am a little flustered that he has asked so forthrightly, but the best I can do is tell him a half truth. "To see if you were well."
It seems to warm him, and the smile on his face broadens. "I am. Will you be taking your leave now?"
There is silence as we stare at each other. His expectant eyes and smug smile are nearly enough to make me lose my temper, and I grip my walking stick.
"I can't simply enjoy the company of a friend?" I ask him stiffly.
"Of course." He nods thoughtfully and returns to the window. He closes the curtains.
I say nothing.
He goes to the wall, where the gas-lamp switch is, and turns it off. I do not move as he crosses the room and extinguishes a final candle.
In the dark, I can hear him crossing the room, I can see his feet pass between myself and the fire. The heat of his body is close to mine now, and we stand in silence, in the dark for only a moment.
A hand comes up to find my chest, shoulder, neck, trailing up to my face.
"Two months," he whispers, his thumb on my lower lip.
"You deserve worse," I tell him.
His mouth crashes against mine and nearly smother my words out. Without thinking, my hands find his shoulders in the darkness and pull him closer.
"I have one nanny to reprimand me already, I've no need for two," he growls against my lips and shoves his knee into mine. It aches, and as angry as I am that he has used it against me, I cannot stop the fall back into the chair.
He follows me down and seals our mouths again.
And then like always, we lose our words. They flee from us in the terrifying onslaught of hot breath and warm hands before they become hopelessly turned around in the darkness. The rain chases the words away to cower in corners so far from us that even as we try to pull them forth in ecstasy or pain, they cannot return to us.
We are men lost in a sea of darkness and each other.
But when we are not in that darkness, and when we are one without the other, we have nothing. We are no one.
It ends, and we come to pieces before we fall apart. Our breath is heavy and quick, our hearts pounding in staccato syncopation.
Sherlock is already reaching past me to scribble with chalk on the wall above our bed. His bed. I do not move to give him more room, and when he is done, the written words have found his voice for him.
"Next time, not so long I think, Watson." The strangeness in his voice indicates he has not had a dose of anything vaguely medicinal in several hours. He places a shaking hand on my chest, and I think I hear fear in his voice when he speaks again. "Not so very long until the next time."
"No," I agree gently. I do not add that my agreement is conditional to his behavior, and that if he attempts to fake a suicide again it will be even longer that I make him wait.
He seems emboldened by my admission and adds, "And you should stay. Until the weather passes. At least."
"Then we are unanimous," I say, and place a steady hand over his. "When did you eat last?"
He is silent for such a long time that I nearly laugh, and pat his hand. His skin is so wan that I feel guilty for not noticing earlier. It does not seem right that he should need me quite so much, or that I should feel quite so compelled to tend to him.
"Looks like I'll be your nanny tonight. I'll go see what's in the pantry, then." I get up, pulling on a dressing gown, and limp for the door.
"John." I stop, turn, and look at him patiently.
"I also…" He swallows. "I would be your nanny."
I pause. My chest has a queer ache in it for a fleeting moment. "I don't understand."
His face flushes with a small amount of color, and he looks rather stricken. "If you needed me to look after you. I would."
Some words, no matter how far from rain and darkness, can never be found. For Holmes, those words are so foreign and strange that they are lost to him forever. Three simple words that a child says to its mother, that a wife says to her husband, that one sibling says to another, he cannot say to me.
He does try, though.
When it finally dawns on me that he is not speaking about nannies any longer, I say, "How long would you play nanny for me?"
"As long as you needed it." He watches me, and I him. I want to say the words for him. They are not new to me, I say them often to Mary. But now, when I want to say them with meaning, they also hide from me. I can feel them in my throat, and know they are stuck there and will go no farther.
"Then I always will," I tell him, and we both smile faintly.