Watson woke to Holmes running his hands over his limbs, slender fingers pinching and poking and prodding him, tugging on his hair and tracing the contours of his face. He woke to Holmes' lips on his and Holmes' tongue running along his teeth, up to the roof of his mouth. He woke to the scratch of Holmes' stubble against his mustache and his fingers intertwined in Holmes' thick hair, and he didn't quite know how they'd gotten there. Watson made a noise in his throat and Holmes pulled away, guilt evident in the widening of his eyes, lust evident on the languid brush of his tongue over his top lip.

"I need to talk to you," Holmes whispered feverishly by way of apology. The moment stretched taut, holding out until the silver scissors flashed and their world was rent asunder. Watson shifted. The bed dipped and Holmes was there, hip to hip, knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder.

Watson swallowed and rolled onto his back. "What time is it, Holmes?" His voice was still rough with sleep.

"High side of three," Holmes answered. Watson's lungs seized and his breath came heavily.

"Are you still going to marry her, John?"

Watson shut his eyes tightly. The darkness behind his eyes ebbed and bobbed and threatened to consume him. He wished it would. He exhaled slowly.

"I cannot think of a suitable reason not to do so, Holmes." He felt Holmes grow dim, but he did not desist.

"What am I to you, Watson?" John did not fail to note the reversion in name. He felt Holmes turn his head. He could not bring himself to do the same.

"I cannot rightly say, old boy," Watson managed softly, eyes trained on the ceiling. "When it comes to matters of the- of the heart, I find myself uncustomarily inept where you are concerned." Holmes' eyes left marks on Watson's face, dark bruises of suffocating hope to brush thumbs over and push down on, embedding this thing into his skin. His jaw ached.

"I... but you-" Holmes tried haltingly. Watson thought of the stars in India, hanging huge and bright in the sky like grapes. That's what he missed most, what he hated about London. He was so young under those Indian night skies, all sweating and bruised and bleeding and afraid, of losing more lives- of losing his own life. But the stars made him feel small again, made his life feel manageable. Made him aware of his own insignificance. It was the only thing that made him feel safe then.

Suddenly Holmes' warmth was gone, and his voice was faint. Watson couldn't tell if he was more angry or saddened, but he supposed it really didn't matter.

"Good night, Watson. I apologize for waking you with my clearly misguided queries. I'll thank you to put them from your mind and permanently erase them from your memory. I'll not bother you again."

Watson raised himself on one elbow and just looked at Holmes. There was ink along Holmes' jaw and up the side of his face, streaked across his temple, and Watson knew he'd find it wrapped around strands of his hair and on his fingers. The door slammed behind him.

He didn't want this life for Holmes. Holmes didn't believe in a soul, in a life after death- but John did. And what they were doing- it was wrong. No matter what Holmes said, it was wrong. But Watson didn't believe it was too late to save him. And he had to protect Holmes. He always had protected him, sewn him up when he came home mangled and bleeding- Watson had always been there with his sword-cane and revolver to keep him out of true harm's way. And the sins they were committing in bed with each other were more harmful than anything Holmes had ever encountered. If this continued, God would never forgive either of them. Holmes may want this life for himself but he could not be trusted to make that decision.

And so Watson would do what he had to do to save him. He would marry Mary and put an end to this once and for all. Soon. He would do it soon. And then Holmes would be safe.