Watson was a doctor. He knew a lot about the human body, symptoms of ailments...yet he didn't understand why he was filled with a crackling, antsy felling when he awoke the next morning. It wasn't an unpleasant jumpy feeling, just the opposite, in fact. He opened his eyes, and the first thing he saw was Holmes. The detective was still asleep, his mouth open, snoring loudly. The doctor smiled and ran his index finger across some of the stubble around Holmes' mouth.
They had agreed that nothing would change between them, but Watson wasn't so sure he could keep that promise. His own promise. If things didn't work out like this, he would just have to go ahead and kill himself.
Holmes stirred and opened his eyes. Watson leaned in and kissed him. "Good morning," he said quietly.
"Is it morning?" The detective shot up. He pushed the doctor away from him and climbed out bed, gathering his clothes off the floor. Watson sat up, confused.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"I think we may have solved the case," Holmes said, pulling his pants up.
"The case?" Watson had to think a minute to even remember that's why they were there in the first place. He blinked several times, nodding. "Oh. Right."
"We need to go to Richard's office," the detective explained.
"Right now?" Watson laid back down. "We have all day."
Holmes stared at him for a moment. "Suit yourself." He threw on his shoes and left the room.
Watson sat back up, trying to sort out his thoughts and feelings, which were just starting to come back to earth from Cloud Nine. Had he really expected him and Holmes to roll around in bed all day? He could slap himself for thinking like such a livesick school girl with a crush.
He dressed quickly and made his way downstairs. Holmes was already gone, Jasper informed him. The doctor thanked him and left the house, heading for the office. Jasper followed him out.
"Let me come with you," he said.
Holmes was already in the office, holding a stack of papers. He briefly raised his eyes at Jasper and Watson. "Well, Watson," he said, rubbing his chin. "You can rest easy knowing that we've been renting a boardhouse floor from a murderer."
"What?" Watson looked at Jasper, who didn't look all that surprised.
"Richard Winston's killer is Ethan James," Holmes said, throwing the papers onto the desktop. "Of course, the coded notes were helpful, but what I didn't realize, until last night, was that there were real codes, and false codes."
"Ethan killed him?" Jasper sounded like he could care less about codes. He staggered backwards, collapsing into the desk chair.
"The notes were addressed to you," the detective told him. "Richard obviously harboured feelings for you as well, but as your dinner guests mentioned last night, Ethan has anger issues. He discovered the notes, and shortly after found out from Richard's two aquaintances that he was planning to leave him and confess his love for."
He began pacing, picking up random papers and sifting through their texts. "Ethan murdered his friends first, purely out of rage as they were both less battered than Richard. He then waited for Richard to leave the pub the following night, and killed him."
"It couldn't have been Ethan," Jasper said quietly, shaking his head. "Ethan loved him."
"Ethan does a lot with his hands," the detective continued. "I've watched him closely. It would only be natural that he couldn't tie a rope correctly or thrash somebody without restraining them."
The door of the office opened, and they all turned to see Ethan. He looked at Holmes, then Watson, and finally Jasper. He didn't say a word as he made his way over to the desk, picking up a dying rose.
"Very good, Chaps," he said. "Well done."
Jasper watched as he removed a relolver from his pocket. Watson closed his eyes, remembering his own gun was under the bed back at the boardhouse.
"I loved Richard," Ethan said, adjusting the weapon. "I fell in love with him at first sight, and I thought he loved me." He looked at Jasper again. "But I knew better."
"Why not me then?" Jasper's tone was dark. "You should have killed me."
"You think that would have changed his mind?" Ethan aimed the pistol at him. "It doesn't matter anyway, I'm going to kill you anyway." He turned to Holmes and Watson. "You should have left the case alone, left Cleveland Street alone." His gaze moved straight to Holmes. "Sherlock Holmes...like I didn't know who you are."
"You don't want to do this," Watson informed him slowly.
"No, I really didn't," Ethan agreed. "I had really grown fond of you two." He quickly turned around and shot Jasper. When he did so, Holmes jumped him, pommeling him to the ground. Watson rushed towards Jasper, catching him just as he started to fall. Blood stained the side of his shirt.
"Easy does it," he said, helping him to the desk chair and unbuttoning the shirt. He kept Holmes in the corner of his eye, watching him fight.
Ethan managed to remove himself from the detective, and surprisingly backed him all the way to the wall, the gun barrel pressed against his forehead. He turned to Watson. "Leave him alone," he growled, looking at Jasper.
Watson stood up quickly and Holmes shook his quickly, mouthing 'no' to him. He wanted all of Watson's attention on Jasper. The doctor looked between Jasper and Ethan.
"Tell me, John," Ethan said, grabbing Holmes' face, giving it a good shake. "Which one would prefer to save? Your beloved friend, or the whore you just met only weeks ago?"
Jasper slid out of the chair, slumping to the floor, blood dripping out of his mouth. He blinked heavily, his head bobbing up and down. Watson glanced at him and ordered, "Stay with us, Jasper."
"Don't talk to him!" Ethan ordered. "He's filth! Nothing but bloody filth!" He seemed to be filled with rage all over again, and pulled the trigger. Just as he did so, Watson shoved him, preventing Holmes from being killed just in the knick of time. Ethan kicked him, and fired his gun again, shooting Watson. The doctor held his arm, hissing in pain. Holmes got to his feet, and threw a punch to Ethan's face, and then one to his torso. Ethan dropped the gun, doubling over, and started to pick it up. Holmes grabbed his arm and twisted it. He kicked the gun out of reach. He stood over Ethan, and Ethan stared up at him.
"If you'd truly loved Richard," he said. "You would have let him go."
"So how is he?" Edward asked when Holmes and Watson returned to the house from the hospital.
"He's going to be alright," Watson said. "Luckily Ethan doesn't know how to fire a gun properly."
"Or know the location of vital organs." Holmes added, glancing at Watson's bandaged bicep.
Edward only nodded, sitting down on the couch. "I can't believe...Ethan?"
The detective and doctor nodded, sitting across from him. Edward looked down, toying with his fingers. "I can't really say that I don't understand. I was mad about Jasper the way he was about Richard, but we knew they were in love with somebody else." He smiled a little, rubbing the back of his neck. "I think Jasper finally accepted my courtship so Ethan wouldn't get suspicious."
"He cares for you," Holmes said. "He asked us to check in on you."
Edward nodded. "And Ethan?"
"He's going to prison," Watson sighed, and Edward looked down again.
"I guess it's just us then," he said quietly. "Me and Jasper." He looked back up and asked, "Can I ask you a question?"
Holmes and Watson glanced at each other, shrugging, and turned back to him. "Of course," Holmes said.
"Were you two really together when you arrived here?" Edward asked, his eyes squinting skeptically. "I mean, it's obvious that you're mad about each other now, but it didn't really seem like that at first."
The detective and doctor simultaneously scratched their heads awkwardly. Watson said, "No, Edward. We weren't together."
"But you are now?" He sounded hopeful. "You two are wonderful together."
Watson stiffened a bit, feeling Holmes' hand slide over his thigh and thread his fingers through his. Edward smiled, standing up. "I guess I'll go to the hospital then. Pay cranky old Jas a visit."
He hesitated briefly, and finally said, "You know you're always welcome to stay. The house is in my name too, you know."
"We appreciate that," Watson said, smiling at Holmes. "But I think we've been away from Baker Street too long."
"You're not even dressed!" Watson barked, entering the room for the fifth time. "Holmes, we are going to be late!"
The detective, who was still in his ratty clothes and unshaven, looked up from his notes. "Is it time to go already?"
Watson threw a balled up shirt, trousers, and jacket at him. Holmes peeled the articles of clothing off of his face. He stood up and began to undress right there, still looking at the notes. Watson rolled his eyes, walking away, muttering to himself.
"Come in!" Edward said when they arrived at the door. "Dinner is almost ready."
Jasper looked up from the sofa, and stood up slowly. He winced as he did so. Watson moved to him quickly, asking if he was changing the bandages regularly and cleaning the wound properly. Jasper rolled his eyes, dryly answering yes to every question. They went into the dining room, and Edward kissed Jasper.
"You'll be up and about in no time," he chirped. He turned to Holmes and Watson, sounding exasperated. "The real low about this is we can't be wild in the sheets."
Jasper groaned good-naturedly and muttered, "Just wait'll I heal up."
After dinner, Jasper limped up the stairs, with Edward's help, and he asked Watson and Holmes to follow them. He led them to the study, and hobbled over to the desk, where a stack of papers rested.
"After we cleared out Ethan's things," he explained. "I found this in Richard's lock box."
"Took a bloody long time to get it open," Edward added. "He had the key hidden under a floorboard in his office."
Jasper wordlessly handed the stack to Holmes. They weren't notes. They were journal entries, poems, and short stories. Holmes sorted through them quickly, and when he got to one particular page, Jasper stabbed his index finger to it. "Read it," he said.
Dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
I'm not sure how busy you are, especially at this time of year, but I have a request. I'm having some personal issues at home. Two of my good colleagues turned up missing recently, and I have a sinking suspicion my my lover is behind it. I fear for my best friend's safety, but cannot prove that he is in danger. If you could get back to me, as soon as possible, I could give you more information. I know you will understand because I have seen you with your mate around London.
Sincerely, Richard Winston
"You did just what he asked," Jasper said, smiling, and for the first time, a sincere smile.
"Why did he not send it?" Watson asked.
"I guess Ethan got to him first," Jasper replied quietly, staring down at the desk. He looked back up at them. "Thank you again."
"So much!" Edward grabbed Holmes and kissed his cheek, wrapping his arms around his neck. He then did the same to Watson.
"They're all mad," Lestrade said, some weeks later, when Ethan was sentenced to life in prison. "Those Cleveland Street nuts."
"On the contrary," Holmes told him, sitting in the inspector's chair, his feet on his desk. "I find them to be the most practical of us all. They're not afraid of who they are."
Clarkey, who stood to the side of Lestrade, tugged at his collar nervously. He thought that had been Holmes in the brothel. Lestrade only shrugged. "Alright, well, case solved." He picked up his coat. "Care to join me for a drink, Holmes? To celebrate our victory?"
Holmes spun the chair around, staring absent-mindedly into space. "Not tonight, Lestrade." He removed himself from the chair and picked up his own coat. "I have plans this evening." He opened the top drawer of the desk, fishing out a pair of handcuffs. "May I borrow these?"
Lestrade and Clarkey looked at each other and the inspector shrugged. "Um...alright..."
Author's note: Woo! *wipes sweat from brow* All done! Well, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for all of the wonderful feedback as well!