I needed to take a break from writing 'Circumstances' so I started off writing this story (with the intent of it being very short) and it seemed to grow a life of its own. So, it's a bit long, but at least now I can finish off the chapter 6 of 'Circumstances' having rid my mind of cluttered plot bunnies.

May 18, 2010 Note: Thanks for all of your kind comments! I'm already working on a part 2… although it might take a bit longer than usual because it's going to be about 25-30 pages.

Love is a mere perversion. It offers no beneficial purpose in life and cannot be quantified. What you call 'love', wrapping it up in a superficial parcel of coquettish looks, the caress of lustful hands, and the ultimate physical sacrifice involving a multitude of sexual depravities, I categorize as being nothing other than the most lethal vice of humanity.

"Accursed heartless fiend!" Watson stomped through the murky streets of London, his temper displayed unreservedly in the scowl on his face and the stoked flames in his fury-darkened blue eyes.

How dare Holmes sit there in his favorite worn armchair, his demeanor so relaxed, pompous and smug, dissecting love as if it were some sort of mental and physical disorder!

They'd been discussing a fresh case that had been brought to them by a rather naïve mistress who was fretting over the whereabouts of her ardent lover – a duke already bound to another in all legalities. Watson had suggested that the woman was very unfortunate and then mused over the workings of the heart. Perhaps the duke had taken a temporary leave in order to figure out a way to dissolve his marriage, or maybe he intended for the young mistress to run away with him and leave their current lives behind them, as complicated as they were.

It was at that point that Holmes had begun to illustrate in very graphic and unforgiving terms how love was a corrupting human emotion. He'd blatantly remarked that society - as a whole - would be better off without such weak and meaningless passions.

Turning down a narrow side street, Watson very nearly missed knocking a startled elderly man down as he shouldered past him. Jamming his hands into the deep pockets of his frock coat, Watson continued to wander around aimlessly through the lackluster nightlife of the uninteresting neighborhood. "If I didn't love you so much, you damned fool, I would've deserted you a long time ago," he muttered under his breath. "Left you to pollute your body with your unnatural drug dependency, or failed to time my entrance just right so as to stop a blade or bullet from cutting you down during one of your maniac cases."

Watson stomped down the pavement, past a shop with a lantern still shining brightly above its front door. He loathed the thought of returning to his humble abode with Holmes until the idiot in question was fast asleep or at least out of punching range. For, if Holmes were to unknowingly insult his undetected and forbidden love one more time, Lord help him, he would knock his slender friend to the floor and make him choke on his own arrogance. So - with the thought of wanting to waste as much time as possible - Watson entered the shop.

It was warm and pleasant smelling inside. A hint of the orient filtered through the room, thin perfumed smoke flowering above a few sticks of incense left to burn down in an empty flower pot. The shop owner had definite eccentric tastes because the shelves and display cases were overfilled with peculiar objects, most of them lovingly used, showing the passing of time on scratched surfaces and faded paint.

"Good evening to you, kind sir." A middle-aged lady, dressed shabbily in a tattered dress, the ends of her reddish hair askew on top of her hair where it had been loosely piled, greeted Watson with a clumsy nod of the head. "It looks like you might find better use of the bar tonight."

Watson gave her a half-grin, surprised at how quickly she had jumped to that conclusion. "Is it that obvious?"

"Very," she answered shortly, but not without humor. "Well, you're here now so can I interest you in a charm bracelet for the missus?"

Watson frowned miserably. "There is no missus."

"Down in love and luck," she chuckled. Before Watson could correct her or tell her to mind her own business, she strode purposefully across the store and bent down to unlock one of the display cases. "I have just the thing for that."

"While I'm sure you mean well, I am in no need of some superstitious love trinket," Watson said thinly, already guessing what the woman was going to offer him. He'd been with Holmes for far too long not to be able to predict the nature of an obviously shrewd salesperson.

"Ah, but this is no trinket made by man. This," she held a small locked trunk in both of her dry, chapped hands and hurriedly set it down on a countertop to unlock it, "was said to have been made by an immortal. Cervius - as we mortals knew him - had set his eyes on a fair human maiden who would have most certainly rejected him if his true form were ever to be exposed. So he used these," she withdrew three thick black candles from the box, "to ensnare her in a trap. Unable to escape, she was forced to listen to Cervius' proclamation of love and witness his true form. She had fallen in love with Cervius in his humanoid guise and soon confessed her love and undying devotion to him, regardless of his supernatural state. But, Cervius wished that they would never be parted – in her world or his – so he drank this potion," she gently shook a dark vial of liquid in front of Watson's eyes, "and when they made love, it enabled them to form a bond that transcended even the ethereal plane."

At that point, Watson coughed, his eyebrows furrowed at the storekeeper's ludicrous story.

"Scoff all you want, Doctor John H. Watson. The fact remains that Cervius and his maiden became inseparable after that, and not even the afterlife has been able to tear them apart."

Watson started, glancing at the woman in poorly concealed surprise. "How did you know my name?"

"If you try coming a bit earlier next time, I do fortunetelling between the hours of six and nine." She smiled toothily at Watson and thrust the trunk in his direction. "Trust me, this will work. You can take it now and pay later. Or you can return it if it isn't to your liking."

"I do not need some phony black magic parlor tricks to instruct my love life for me, thank you very much." Watson swiveled around and rudely made his way for the exit.

"Oh, and you were doing such a fine job on your own," she taunted, her voice growing more daring and forceful. "Sherlock Holmes is not a man made for flowers and weepy theatrics so you're wasting your time there."

Watson very neatly froze with his hand on the doorknob.

"Holmes may claim to have no use for love but that is only a charade that he puts on to amuse you and applaud his own not insignificant skills as an actor. Without you, he would crumble and fall not unlike a man whose spirit had been snatched from his body. He needs you just as much as you need him. But he's too rigid with his campaign to rid all emotion from his life, to shield himself from rejection and disappointment. He will never succumb to you by any normal means."

Very slowly, Watson cast his gaze back at the trunk that the woman continued to hold out to him. "If this is black magic, as you say, how am I to be certain that it won't harm him? What if my feelings are one-sided? I have no desire to coerce my dearest friend into doing anything that is against his will or unwished for."

"Love acts as the trigger. It's pretty self-explanatory, really. The triangle connecting the three candles will only form if the love is mutual. This is a very important factor. If Holmes truly does love you, he will not be able to exit the sacred triangular net once he has stepped over the barrier. If he does not love you, the net will not form and he will be free to exit. In that case, you must resist the urge to pursue him, for if you do, the damage will be solely your responsibility."

Watson nervously accepted the trunk, cradling it in his arms for a moment before speaking again. "I've never dabbled in the black arts before. How will I know what to do?"

"There is a set of instructions at the bottom of the trunk. Follow them to the letter and all will go well."

"And… how much will I need to pay you after I have used these… powers?"

"After you've judged for yourself what it was worth to you, return here and we will settle that debt."

Standing there stupidly for a few more minutes, Watson realized that their conversation had come to an end and that he was expected to leave. "Well… thank you then. I shall call upon you again tomorrow."

"And one more thing, Watson. For every action there is a consequence. Keep that in mind and be prepared to accept the responsibility of all that this new bond between Holmes and yourself will entail."

Watson nodded and bade the woman a good night before heading back to Baker Street with his dangerous love-conjuring kit. He paused to wonder how the shopkeeper had been able to expose his very private issues with Holmes when he'd successfully managed to hide them from the astute detective himself. But what did it really matter now? He was going to get what he wanted, and, in light of how Holmes always selfishly ran the show, turnabout would make for some fair play.

When Watson entered the rooms that he shared with Holmes, he found that the place was dark and silent. Could it be that Holmes had uncharacteristically found himself in bed early? That would imply that he was either too exhausted to put up with another emotional run-in or he was sulking like a reprimanded child and would continue to hide until called for. "Intellectual genius with the emotional constitution of an infantile child," Watson ground out bitterly between his clenched teeth as he began to prepare the sitting room for the ritual.

He cleared the floor of magazines, newspapers, souvenirs from countries around the globe, and miscellaneous junk. Then, he stood in the center of the room and counted out four paces, placing a candle down where his foot stopped. Returning to the center again, he counted four paces 120 degrees from the first candle, setting the second candle down. Another 120 degrees further along, he adjusted the last candle, successfully forming an even triangle on all sides. Then, he quickly read through the instructions, lit the candles, scored a bloody wound on the palm of his left hand and let a few blood drops splatter onto the bear rug that he'd moved to the middle of the triangle. On top of the bear rug, he placed a jar of lubricating oil, just in case he actually got that far.

Praying that Holmes wouldn't wake up in the morning to find a poisoned corpse lying on the sitting room floor, Watson uncorked the mysterious potion and gulped it down faithfully. That was how desperate he was for Holmes' love. He'd even risk killing himself over the crazy tales of some woman he'd never seen before in his life if it meant an opportunity with the man that he loved.

Swallowing the last drop, Watson returned the empty vial to the trunk that he'd secured out of sight behind Holmes' desk. He felt no different but the powerful glow of the black candles seemed to give him strength and a conviction that he hadn't felt before.

Going along with what might have been an artificial sense of empowerment, Watson marched along to Holmes' room and threw open the door without ceremony. He watched the slim shadowy figure sit up in bed with a startled gasp, but otherwise paid no attention to the sleepy, indignant murmurings that slipped past Holmes' thin lips. For the first time since they'd begun living together, Watson violated Holmes' personal space by rushing into the room, grabbing the man by one of his bare, sinewy arms, and yanked him none too gently out of the bed.

"Watson! Have you gone mad!" Holmes attempted to wrench himself from Watson's grip but was dragged along down the chilly hall with nothing but his nightshirt to keep the night air away from his exposed flesh. "If you don't release me this instant, I'll club you so hard…"

"Get in there and be quiet!" Watson threw Holmes into the sitting room and closed the door behind him, locking it for good measure.

From where he lay sprawled on the flooring, Holmes immediately noticed the candles that eerily danced with violet flames, burning brighter by the second. The flames blew back and forth, appearing to stretch for one another when Holmes leaned in closer. When next he spoke, his tone held a tremor of fear and uncertainty in it that Watson relished.

"What you have you done, Watson? Black magic is not your area of expertise."

"And neither is it yours. Why don't you impress me with your deductive powers by explaining what it is that you see before you." Watson leaned back against the door with his arms crossed and feet spread far apart, anticipating any sign of retaliation on Holmes' part.

"Are you still angry with me over our debate about love?" Holmes asked quietly instead.

"Love is not something you debate over," Watson snarled.

"You are quite understandably upset right now, and if I am the cause of this disgraceful tirade, then I apologize. But since I have never experienced love, as either the giver or the recipient, I sadly regret that my opinion cannot and will not change."

"Then you are not only ignorant, but you are also blind!" Grabbing a fistful of Holmes' nightshirt in his hand, Watson hoisted his friend partially off of the ground before flinging him into the center of the triangle that he had created. "What sane man could possibly put up with living with you? Day in and day out, listening to your egotistical boastings, bearing the brunt of your chaotic lifestyle and overly feminine mood swings? I swear, you could put many a miserable woman to shame with your selfish, needy nature, and your unpredictable mirthful laughter coupled with a hellish fit that defies all explanation."

Holmes lay there, trembling, the hurtful accusations not lost on him as his dark eyes began to shine abnormally bright in the center of that triangle. But he said nothing. What could he possibly say? Watson's words were unplanned and driven by emotion, an emotion that Holmes was at a loss to understand. If he couldn't predict Watson's speech, he couldn't formulate a defense. His sleep-addled mind deprived him of even the basic of intellectual defenses. At the very least, he ought to demand that Watson desist immediately lest their friendship end this night.

"If it weren't for the fact that I love you, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now!" Exasperated at Holmes' complete lack of reaction to his ardent confession, Watson abandoned his defensive stance to aggressively cross the room, stopping short at the threshold of the triangular prison that Holmes appeared to be restrained in. "I am at my wit's end with you, Holmes. My patience is waning, my mind is racing, and my heart is burning in my breast. Your very presence beckons me to perform sexual depravities upon your person, the very kind of which you abhor. No, do not utter so much as a word, for I will spare nothing at dismantling your fragile mentality if you dare speak before I am finished."

Holmes' lips parted for a split second before he sealed them shut again, now appraising Watson with a dangerously hooded expression that might have belonged to a wild animal coiling in on itself, preparing to strike.

"This love that I refer to is far detached from anything brotherly, not even remotely kinship-based in nature. It is powerful, uncontrollable, and deliciously appetizing. I have already had the unique pleasure of enjoying your quite singular mind, reveling in the mystical powers that only you seem to possess. And, I have been honored to hold your trust, offering you protection and comfort on scant occasions when you deemed self-sufficiency to be inadequate. Now…," Watson leveled his slate blue eyes at Holmes, scandalously admiring all the flesh that was left revealed to him by his friend's state of undress, and letting his imagination roam freely on the parts that he was unable to see, "… I shall permit myself a solely physical exploration of your body. Not as a doctor, but as a lover who has vowed to share the wonders of a sexual engagement with a man that claims to have no such requirements."

As Watson stood there, his shoulders heaving with the fervor of his desires, Holmes merely withdrew further into his emotionally stagnant cocoon. Exercising a calmness that he really didn't feel, he smoothed his nightshirt down to cover his knees, and then pushed himself to his feet. Observing his friend and colleague as one might a madman set loose on a family of innocents in a bloody rainstorm, Holmes tentatively tracked his way down one line of the triangle.

"Are you done raving and ranting?"

Watson glowered at Holmes. "I was neither raving nor ranting. But yes, I have said all that needed to be said."

"So," Holmes began conversationally, forcing himself to ignore the cloying scent of the syrupy candles that began to permeate the room while building up quite a bit of billowing smoke in the process, "what do you expect will happen if I step over this obscene boundary which you have marked out?"

"If you deny being receptive to my advances, you should be able to exit unharmed."

Holmes raised an eyebrow inquisitively at Watson's hesitation. "Should? And if something unforeseen were to happen…?"

"It won't." Sighing in frustration, Watson quickly explained what was to take place. "Simply put, if you truly do not love me, there is nothing detaining you save for your own mistrust in the spiritual arts. You may step out and walk away immediately. But… if you do love me, and are unable to escape, then I will take it upon myself to perform whatever explicit acts I fancy upon you."

For a few minutes, Holmes did nothing more than tap his toe against one of the candles, continuing until a drop of hot wax burnt that toe and caused him to pull back. "You would do these things to me even without my consent?"

"I would not abuse you in that manner."

"Well, then, there is nothing left to discuss. I think that I shall be returning to my bed now. This farce is awfully tiresome and boring." Setting his shoulders back and head forward, Holmes strode purposefully to the end of the triangle… and then stepped out.

It took all of Watson's willpower not to seize his friend and forcefully toss him back in again. He had been so sure… He'd allowed himself to put all of his faith in some cheap candles and the raving idiocy of a lunatic woman. As much as he longed to unleash his repressed love for Holmes, he would never resort to violence, especially if Holmes honestly did not care for him in that way. "I am a man of my word," Watson muttered dejectedly, "punch me if you will and be done with it."

"W—Watson… what is this?" Holmes cried out in alarm, straining forward as a mist of purplish smoke thickened in front of him, pushing him back into the triangle. "Watson!" Holmes began to cough and choke as the overbearing, perfume-laced smoke from the candles invaded his lungs, forcing the air from his body.

"Holmes! What is it? Come out of the triangle!" Panicking, Watson reached for his friend's arm, latching on and trying to pull him out. He got as far as the traced boundary of the triangle before something unseen, yet powerfully daunting, put up a wall between himself and his dear friend. Knowing of no other alternative, Watson flung himself into the sacred patch of purple smoke, nearly landing on Holmes as they both toppled over. "Holmes, are you alright?"

Clearing his throat to rid himself of the smoke, Holmes gave Watson a demoralizing glare. "Really, old boy, did you not think your devious plan through before setting it in motion? Black magic is never so straightforward as to set definable terms where the user is granted whatever it is that his heart desires. There is always a price. Pray tell, what is the price that you agreed upon?"

"The price was to be determined after…" Watson's face reddened.

"After what?" One look at Watson's expression and Holmes, even with his limited imagination concerning sexual matters, could guess at what was not being said. Blushing, and trying desperately to hide it, Holmes directed his full attention at the candles. "Perhaps if we extinguish them…"

"So, you do love me?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Maybe things aren't going exactly as I'd anticipated, but you are still here. That can only mean one thing."

"In light of what has just happened, you would continue with this foolish --?" Holmes never got to finish his accusation for Watson had pinned him on his back, holding him immobile on the bearskin rug. And then, Watson was kissing him, pressing down onto him in a very intimate embrace. Holmes struggled, raising his knee to strike Watson in the side, but the man would not be deterred. The kiss deepened despite Holmes' mindless thrashing, and soon he was fretting over how to react to Watson's tongue in his mouth. He steeled his mind and body to reject any reflexive actions that might encourage the man atop him.

"Damn you, Sherlock! Stop fighting me!" Sifting his fingers through Holmes' thick, soft hair, Watson wrenched the detective's head back none too gently before forcing another kiss on him. "You will submit to me!"

"Hah!" Holmes swung hard at Watson when the doctor changed angles, catching the man roughly on the side of his jaw. "I will do no such thing!"

Watson slammed Holmes back down, leaning one arm onto his chest as his other arm struck the long leg that had kicked him in his injured thigh. "You keep this up and I will have no compunction about handling you with little gentleness." He panted heavily, batting Holmes' other arm aside to kiss him roughly and wetly, slipping his free hand between the detective's legs. Fumbling with the material of the cotton nightshirt, he managed to rake it up to an indecent level, exposing Holmes from the waist down.

Whether it was out of a need for self-preservation or shameful embarrassment, Holmes drew his knees up, close to his body, and kept his thighs close together, evading Watson's touch. However, when Watson continued to kiss him, the doctor's other hand ghosting over one of his nipples through the cotton, Holmes suddenly moaned and his knees began to tremble. Two fingers playfully skirted over the cotton before Watson's thumb took to roughly rubbing that nipple, and then pinching it mercilessly.

"John!" Holmes gasped, digging his heels into the bearskin rug and flexing his toes as the bruising kisses and numbing assault on his nipples caused his lower body to react in a very unnatural manner.

Watson kissed Holmes again, whispering sweet terms of endearment to him while his hands wandered lower. "You are a very beautiful creature, my dear Sherlock. I shall teach you how to behave like one."

"You musn't," Holmes pleaded. "This… stimulus… it is too much for me."

"I've barely started." He slid one hand up the inside of Holmes' lean thigh and down again, as if he were calming a frightened colt. "Ah, what have we here?" His hand brushed over the detective's obvious erection, watching Holmes' expression turn to mortification. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. I should enjoy this more if you were to derive pleasure from it." Having said that, Watson's fingers closed around Holmes' length and languidly stroked it up and down.

"Nooo," Holmes whimpered, attempting to pull away but finding his limbs at the mercy of some sort of witchcraft. He could do nothing other than lie there and accept Watson's increasingly pleasurable ministrations.

"That's it… just relax and it will feel good." Watson pressed a kiss to Holmes' forehead just as he experimentally circled the tip of one finger over the moist head of Holmes' arousal. Holmes made a frustrated breathless sound and clawed at the rug for purchase. "Come, wrap your fingers around me." Unzipping his pants hurriedly and kicking them off, followed by his underwear, Watson caught Holmes' right hand in his own, directing it to where he ached for attention. At first, Holmes resisted but once Watson had forced his fingers in place, the detective needed little coaxing in mimicking what was being done to him. "That's good," Watson sighed, painfully hard as he watched his friend's long, thin, graceful fingers stroking him as they would the violin.

Releasing Holmes for but a moment, Watson took hold of the cotton nightshirt at the collar and tore it straight down the middle, dropping his mouth to one of the dark, flustered nipples to lick and nibble at it.

"Nngg… John…" Holmes squeezed Watson harder and arched off of the rug, wanting more of the strangely intoxicating feelings that his friend was stirring within him. "Please…"

Watson admired Holmes' slack-jawed expression out of the corner of his eye, pressing his lips tighter together to hold the nipple captive, flicking his tongue out to wash over the sensitive nub. Holmes gripped Watson close, burying his head into the doctor's shoulder and sinking his teeth in to partially muffle his moans and cries of delight.

"If you continue to make noises like that, I will not be able to last much longer," Watson groaned, pressing his hips down to grind his straining erection against Holmes'. And, of course, that drew a sobbing moan out of Holmes that did painful things to Watson's already dwindling control. When Holmes' hips rose up to increase the friction, his legs clamped around Watson's waist, refusing to let go, Watson grinned lustily. "My God, you're wanton," Watson complimented the detective. It was just as well. He couldn't wait any longer. The need to satisfy his hormonal urges was just too great.

Taking advantage of Holmes' vulnerable position, with his legs wide open, exposed and no longer objecting, Watson slid his index finger over the tight entrance, circling, before slipping inside. Amazingly, Holmes did not reject the intrusion. In fact, he seemed to immediately crave a more certain sensation because he bore down on that finger until it seemed to cause him discomfort.

"Take it slowly," Watson advised, picking up the lubricating oil that he'd left on the rug earlier to dig his fingers into it. "I don't want you to be sore in the morning."

"This… coming from a man… who has me in such a damning position," Holmes panted, pushing down again when a slickened finger joined the first, carefully stretching him. "Why? Why am I like this, John?" Holmes bit his lip and stifled a cry as Watson's fingers nudged against something that felt many times more wonderful and erotic than losing himself to the power of cocaine in the wee hours of the night.

"You are like this for me, and only me." Watson sank his fingers in deeper, curling them into that spot that coaxed such an unguarded reaction from Holmes. Adding a third, he cringed slightly when Holmes clawed at his back and shoulders in order to resist screaming out. Holmes' naked, slender body rubbed up against Watson's, practically burning with fever and slick with sweat. Suddenly withdrawing his fingers, Watson gripped Holmes by his right knee, spreading his legs wider apart, and positioned himself carefully. "I want to hear you say it," he hissed, leaning down to lick along Holmes' ear with his tongue.

"Ahh! What is that you would have me say?" Holmes squirmed, drowning in Watson's masculine scent, craving the absence of his lover's fingers to be replaced with the hard impression of heat that was just shy of penetrating him.

"Admit that you love me. Give yourself to me."

Holmes gazed up at Watson's handsome face with eyes that were drowsy with a newborn sensuality. His lips curved into a smile, his fingers reaching up to toy with Watson's coarse mustache, tugging on it to bring his lover down for an enthusiastic kiss. "I do love you, John. In my own way… at my own pace, but it is unmistakably love."

That was all Watson needed to hear. He shifted his hips forward and, with great restraint, claimed Holmes in one long, agonizing stroke. Holmes made a choked sound of pain but bit it back when Watson paused to give him time to adjust. "Relax," he whispered soothingly, penetrating Holmes deeper, sobbing with pleasure at the unbearably tight heat that he had sheathed himself in.

Holmes had been squeezing his eyes shut against the discomforting pain, but opened them again to curiously watch Watson's lust-stricken face. Instead, he found himself observing the strong muscles in Watson's left arm, mesmerized by the strange way those muscles rippled, guiding the way for alien dark shadows that slithered down the doctor's arm and up his neck. Holmes moaned when Watson thrust into him, unable to focus on the strange inky-black hieroglyphs that now wove patterns across Watson's chest and up the sides of his face. Watson's thrusts grew more emphatic, his grunts and imprecations rising in crescendo as he groped Holmes' buttocks, striking as thoroughly as he was capable.

Soon, it became too much for Holmes and he came with a soundless cry, collapsing back onto the rug as his legs went limp.

The clenching of Holmes' muscles brought Watson to climax, burying himself tightly in his lover as he came. Holmes jerked as if he'd been electrocuted, giving voice to another high octave moan as Watson's hot essence filled him. And then, Watson's arms gave way and he sank down onto Holmes, fighting to catch his breath.

"That was extraordinary," Watson praised, lifting off of Holmes a fraction to reward him with an open-mouthed kiss.

"Hmm," Holmes agreed, stroking his tongue alongside Watson's as they kissed.

Opening his eyes again to regard Holmes' passion-flushed face, Watson gave a startled sound of fright.

Holmes jolted in Watson's embrace, his eyes opening, sharp and quick… and could not contain his own shocked reaction to what he saw before his eyes. "John, your skin!"

"And yours!"

Holmes glanced down at his arm to see that it was crawling with the strange hieroglyphs that he'd been unable to rationalize on Watson's body earlier. Visually comparing the ones on Watson's body to his own, Holmes came to the conclusion that they were linked somehow. But, just as suddenly as they had appeared, they began to recede, fading like the old markings of a pen.

"I take it that you did not expect this particular side effect."

"No," Watson answered carefully. "It might have been a result of the magic potion, passing from my body… into yours."

Despite having shared the most intimate of acts that two men could possibly engage in, Holmes still blushed at Watson's choice of words and decided not to comment.

"But, we can discuss the meaning behind that… later." Watson gingerly picked himself up off of the floor, grimacing when his bad leg began to ache from the pressure that he'd been applying to it. He'd been on his knees for a few minutes, long enough to seriously cramp up the muscle. So, limping noticeably, he left the vicinity of the triangle without incident, heading for the settee. Pulling two of the throw blankets off of the back of the settee, he returned to Holmes, crouching down to wrap his lover in them. "Come to bed with me," he beckoned, holding out his hand to help Holmes up.

Holmes allowed himself to be lifted to his feet, but stiffened a bit at the pain in his lower back. "Is it normal to incur injuries from these types of acts?"

Predictably, Watson reacted in a guilty panic, his hands sweeping over Holmes in the professional manner of an experienced doctor. "Where did I hurt you?"

"It is a mere discomfort, my dear John. I ask not out of concern, but out of ignorance," Holmes reassured his new lover.

Drawing his fingers away from Holmes' thighs, Watson studied the blood that colored them. "It's a tiny cut. I guess it is to be expected from such a rough and quick coupling."

"Then next time I would request that you take your time."

Watching Holmes padding off barefoot for the locked door, the full levity of what had transpired between them finally hit Watson full force in the chest. He hesitated for just a second, frowning when he noticed that a few drops of Holmes' fresh blood had spilled onto the rug. The same rug that Watson had allowed his own blood to fall onto a little over an hour ago. Sometime in the distant past, he vaguely recalled browsing through one of the large tomes on black magic that Holmes kept in the dustiest corners of his book piles. He'd read that the mixing of blood was significant for certain rituals but couldn't remember which ones. Surely it couldn't mean anything.

"John, is something the matter?"

Pushing the errant thoughts concerning blood out of his mind, Watson smiled lovingly at Holmes. "My dear Sherlock, everything is absolutely perfect."

Together, they went up to bed, lying in each other's arms companionably until exhaustion led them deep into the land of dreams.

It was mid-afternoon before Holmes awoke, rubbing at his eyes and blinking back sleep. A few rays of sunshine cut through the heavy drapes that were pulled tightly shut over the small bedroom window. Not particularly caring that he'd slept half the day away, Holmes rolled onto his side to observe Watson pulling on a pair of pants by the bedside.

"Where are you going?"

"Oh! You're awake!" Watson grinned, leaning over the bed to kiss Holmes soundly. "I hadn't intended to wake you."

"You would allow me to sleep all day?" This complete contradiction to Watson's usual annoyance at Holmes' odd sleeping hours amused him.

"Only so that you'd be fully recovered for what I have in mind for us tonight."

"That sounds promising." Holmes lazily drew the blankets up to his chin. Another hour of sleep couldn't possibly do any harm. If Watson was going out, and there were no active cases to work on, sleeping would keep him out of trouble for a little while. "Where are you going?"

"To settle a debt. One that I intend to pay to the fullest."

"Hmm. Sounds delightful."

"I'll be back before you know it." Watson reached down to ruffle Holmes' hair and then pulled up his suspenders on his way to the door. "I'll have Mrs. Hudson draw a warm bath for you and leave out some brunch before I leave."

"Come back soon." And then, Holmes was under the blankets again, too content to bother cautioning Watson about black magic and fortunetellers.

Watson hopped over to the stair landing, pulling on his socks one-by-one, and then rushed down the stairs. He was at the door, shrugging on his frock coat when a loud crash escaped from his bedroom. He waited for a second, but when no shouted apology came from Holmes, Watson tore back up the stairs, two at a time.

"Sherlock!" He skidded to a stop in front of his bedroom, and then shot into the room, dropping to his knees beside Holmes who was on the floor, tangled in the blankets. Off to one side of the room, the gas lamp that had been sitting on the bedside table lay broken and smashed. "What is it? Why did you throw the lamp?" Watson took hold of Holmes' shoulders, bending over the detective to hear the shallow gasps that seemed to emanate from a crushed windpipe. "Can you not breathe?" Pushing the blankets aside, Watson tested Holmes' pulse and then placed his ear near his lover's mouth to listen to the terrible wheezing sounds that he'd been reduced to. However, very quickly, Holmes' breathing evened out and became stronger until the fit passed entirely. "What happened?" Watson demanded.

"I… don't know. It came on… suddenly." Holmes inhaled and exhaled shakily. "I threw the lamp… to get your attention."

"Are you hot?"



"Not anymore than usual."

"Are you in pain?"

"No pain. It just felt as if…"

"As if what?"

"This may sound ludicrous, but I sincerely felt as if… my lungs were being deprived of air. And my heart was being seized by some wicked beast… from the inside." Holmes leaned back against the bed frame and shut his eyes, looking wrecked and weak.

Watson continued to observe Holmes, not satisfied until he'd confirmed that whatever his lover had been assaulted with had genuinely cleared up. "I'm going to get my bag from the sitting room. Then, you're going to submit yourself to a full examination."

"Whatever you deem necessary," Holmes reluctantly agreed.

Returning to the staircase, Watson began to descend it, one step at a time, until he heard Holmes' breathing echoing down to him – ragged and broken. Again, Watson hastened to Holmes' side, but this time he gave no indication of parting, even when the detective had recovered once more.

"Sherlock, please come down to the bath with me. I shall fill it myself. Afterwards, I need you to accompany me to the fortuneteller's shop."

"You follow my methods so loyally," Holmes complimented, although not entirely with pleasure.

"Then you have reached the same conclusion as I have?"

"Unquestionably. Should you wander too far from my side…"

"I won't." Worrying at his lip over the mess that he'd inadvertently created, Watson helped Holmes down to the bath.

Upon entering the fortuneteller's quaint antique shop, Watson found the woman from the night before busying herself with an old feather duster. She was up on a stepstool, rousing a mess of dust from the bottoms of a row of porcelain statues.

Clearing his throat to get her attention, Watson dumped the trunk that he was returning onto one of the glass countertops. "Madam, we need to have ourselves a discussion," he announced, his tone loosely bordering on threatening her. At his side, Holmes stood, or rather leaned up against Watson, his energy utterly sapped from the many times that he'd been separated from his lover in the streets. The jostling crowds had pushed them apart several times. And each time, Holmes had doubled over in an asthmatic-type attack, tottering to the brink of oblivion before Watson appeared, reestablishing the bizarre spiritual link that bound them to one another.

Hopping off of the stepstool in an awkward motion, the red-haired woman nodded approvingly at the sight of Watson and Holmes together. "You've sealed the bond." It was not a question.

"About that bond…," Watson began.

"You never asked about the side effects," she chuckled, narrowing her eyes at Holmes – the eyes of a serpent. "And how are you feeling today, Mr. Holmes?"

Refusing to let his weakness show, Holmes fixed the woman with a condescending glare, dissecting her with it. "You claim to be a fortuneteller and yet there is no record of any person such as yourself operating in this area. Your shop has been bare of any activity save for last night." Ignoring Watson's shocked gasp, Holmes continued. "This is no ordinary shop, and your junk display no regular merchandise. So, if you fail to conduct business in a common fashion, luring my friend in with outlandish stories of love potions was in no way a coincidence or a random act. You purposely sought him out. For no other purpose than to snare him in some fiendish trap that you set. A trap that seems to have included myself."

"Well done, Mr. Holmes." She beamed proudly at Holmes' inferences, no longer paying Watson any attention. "But he was just a means to an end. We have no interest in the brute strength of a dullard."

"Who are you calling a dullard?" Watson had to restrain himself from swinging his cane into her sneering face.

"Who is 'we'?"

She shrugged and moved closer to Holmes, as if to inspect him, but was held at bay by Watson who stepped between them. "You would strike an unarmed woman?" Her mouth shifted from a grin into a frown, and then returned to a toothy smile again.

"I will strike anything that attempts to harm my lover," he swore venomously.

"It doesn't matter now. You have fulfilled the ritual and now you he is bound to you as a slave is to his master. His very life depends on your proximity. Drift too far apart and he will die. And if he dies, you will soon follow." She taunted Watson, circling around the doctor as she set her eyes on Holmes. "We deal harshly with anyone that interferes with our organization. And you, Sherlock Holmes, have done your fair share of interfering. We will no longer stand by idly while you meddle in our affairs."

Watson matched the crafty woman, step for step, keeping Holmes behind him as he unsheathed his sword to aim at her throat.

"John, this isn't accomplishing anything," Holmes broke in, stealing out of Watson's shadow to approach something of interest to him on one of the far shelves.

"Keep your filthy hands away from the alter!" In a roar of outrage, the woman sprang at Holmes. Her eyes had lightened to a yellowish-green, her reptilian-green skin reflecting the lamplights as her sleeves rushed up to her elbows. Her nails lengthened into claws, slicing down to shred Holmes to pieces where he stood frozen in terror.

With a shout that sounded like a wild battle cry, Watson drove his sword forward, into her back and through her chest. He blocked out the horrid sounds of flesh tearing and bones snapping. Rotating all of his weight onto his heel, he flung the monster of a woman away from Holmes, listening to the resounding crash that she made as she hit the display case. Glass shattered, piercing through her reptilian carcass and halting the abhorrent transformation process that had left her half-human and half-lizard. A few blood curdling screeches escaped her flat, rubber lips before she died in the middle of the eerily cold shop.

"John." Holmes placed a comforting hand on Watson's shoulder, willing his savage lover to shirk off the fierce instinctive urge to destroy or be destroyed – an occasional habit that he had picked up during his time serving in Afghanistan.

Watson grabbed hold of Holmes and crushed him painfully close. "This is all my fault. I fooled with powers that I knew absolutely nothing of. I endangered your very life with my selfish pursuits."

"Although I do disagree with your methods, I have no argument with the outcome," Holmes sighed, pocketing the green sand, miniature spell book, and bone that he had discovered below what the woman had referred to as an alter.

"What will we do?" Watson despaired, rubbing his cheek affectionately against Holmes'.

"For the time being, we will have to endure a lack of privacy and stay within sight of each other at all times. But I am fairly confident that this is a dilemma that I am more than qualified to put right." To ease Watson's guilty mind, Holmes wrapped his arms around the good doctor's neck and stretched up to him. Watson's free arm squeezed Holmes close by his waist and their lips met in a passionate kiss.

"I have every faith in your skills, my dear Sherlock." Keeping a close eye on the unmoving form, which bled a strange yellowish liquid all over the broken glass, Watson led Holmes back onto the streets.

~ The End ~

Would you like to see a 2nd part to this fic? If so, please leave a review! It will definitely inspire me to write more.