Thanks so much for all the kind and encouraging comments on this fic! I wasn't so sure if anyone would want to read a supernatural Sherlock Holmes fic at first… but now I feel very inspired and excited to continue it.

This part of Mating Ritual will be broken into 3 or 4 parts, and possibly continued afterwards.


Shadows : Part 1

"There ain't no escaping us. You put me in prison and I guarantee that my fellows will get me my retribution!" Tied to a dusty old chair in an abandoned warehouse that had once been used for kinder things, the bruised and bloodied thug continued to sputter and spit his outrage.

At a distance, Watson stood back, wiping his grey handkerchief across his knuckles that were covered in the thug's blood. He'd disliked beating the information out of the man, especially after Holmes had subdued and roped the bastard up to that chair. But, after the thug had begun to brag about what he'd done to all those women… Well, there was only so much a decent man could take before he resulted to brutality.

And so they had their confession.

"We really must be getting along, Watson," came Holmes' voice from the rafters above their heads.

Watson's eyes shot upwards and he cried out in alarm. "Holmes! Whatever are you doing up there?"

Holmes nimbly leapt from beam to beam, like a tall, lithe mouse scurrying about in the darkness. His coattails fluttered behind him like twin paper wings as he made his descent to the floor, grasping onto a flailing rope that had been used for God-knows-what during the past month or so. The rope held firmly to the rafters, allowing Holmes to gracefully swing down to the ground.

Watching Holmes' antics, Watson couldn't help but spare his lover a wry grin. The detective's flexibility could be better used for more entertaining things but he did adore it when Holmes hammed it up. He also figured that he'd be treating Holmes' hands for rope burns later on so he made a mental note to restock his bandages when they got home.

Once his feet had graced the floor, Holmes strode over to the thug, withdrawing a small bundle of papers from his inside breast pocket. "And now Detective Lestrade and his loyal lackeys at Scotland Yard have more than enough evidence to lock you up and throw away the key," he informed his inferior adversary smugly.

"How…?" The thug looked absolutely dumbfounded as he stared at the papers. His boss had demanded that those documents be kept in a secure place so he'd seen to their concealment personally. It had taken him several hours to find the perfect spot, inside one of the beams supporting the ceiling on the most northern side of the building. He'd painstakingly sliced away at the beam, creating a hollowed out space where he could jam those papers, sealing up the hole with the precisely carved section that he'd removed. It had been seamless! The odds of finding it, just by luck…

"Why, it's elementary, you murdering fiend!" Holmes turned his back on the thug, averting his eyes from the overlapping stains of blood that covered the floor like the dried puddles of a rainstorm in hell. How many innocent women had met their end here? And in what hideous way had it been instrumented? Holmes shuddered and thought it best to muzzle his thirst for information this time. "Thwarting evil men like yourself is what I live for. Nothing can remain hidden from me for long."

Narrowing his eyes at Holmes, the man surged forward in his chair with a bloodthirsty snarl. "I'll rip your heart out! Throw you down on that bloody floor and maul you like an animal! Shred you to little bits!"

Holmes visibly flinched at the savage way the man shouted at him, feeling as if his ears were being subjected to an inhumane form of auditory torture. He whirled back around to face the man and his heart leapt into his throat when he realized that that ruined face of scars was nearly close enough to bite him. And that was exactly what the thug was trying to do, throwing his body weight forward in an attempt to latch his teeth onto Holmes' leg. His neck strained at an impossible angle, the chair scraping along the floor as he jostled it further.

"She was right! You ain't nothing but trouble, Sherlock Holmes. Gonna destroy you!" So worked up into a frenzy was he that he began to froth at the mouth like a beast gone mad.

Before Holmes could stagger backwards, he felt a firm hand on his wrist, tugging him off to one side. He barely had time to register the livid expression on Watson's reddening face before the doctor's right arm drew back, his walking stick clutched so tightly that his fingers were turning white, and then Watson struck the man for all he was worth.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

Watson raised the solid length of his stick and whipped it down across the man's face, his shoulder, jabbed it into his stomach. Blood sprayed over the chair, Watson's stick, both of their clothing, and dripped onto the dirty floor. And still, he prepared to deliver yet another blow, even after the man had been knocked unconscious.

"Watson!"

Mindless of Holmes' horrified shout, Watson surged forward, his arm crashing down again.

With but a split second to spare, Holmes grabbed Watson's wrist with one hand, slowing the momentum so that the blow was softened to a dull thud. But Watson seemed to be in some sort of trance for he raised his arm again, wrenching Holmes onto his tiptoes as he fought for control of the stick. Adding his second hand and clenching it overtop the first, Holmes attempted to counter Watson's volition.

"WATSON!" Holmes dug his fingernails into his lover's arm, tugging in the opposite direction for all he was worth. "JOHN! Cease this cruelty immediately! The next blow will indeed be fatal!"

A small fraction of inexplicable tension drained out of Watson's face but his arm held steady. "He threatened to tear you apart," Watson protested with a vicious glint in his hardened blue eyes. "I shall deprive him of the opportunity."

"My dear John, I'm begging you. Do not murder in cold blood." Holmes stumbled backwards when Watson's grip suddenly slackened and his arm dropped down at his side, motionless.

For a few minutes, Watson hunched over in what appeared to be defeat while Holmes was allowed to catch his breath. "Is that what you would call it, Sherlock? To defend you is to become a murderer in your eyes?"

"That's utter rubbish. I hardly need defending from a beaten man strapped to a chair. You, on the other hand, have been nothing but viscerally antagonistic these past few days."

"Hmph! And we both know why that is."

"I do not. Enlighten me."

Watson's lips thinned wickedly as he appraised Holmes' slender figure, the angular lines of his body accentuated by the long black coat that clung tightly in all the right places. He advanced on Holmes, reaching out to grab the belt of the detective's coat and yank him closer by it. "I need you in a most urgent manner. You have deprived me for exactly six days and I shan't be forced to remain abstinent for a moment longer." His hands slid around to the small of Holmes' back, holding him still as he pressed firmly against him.

Upon detecting the implications in Watson's speech, and feeling the hard bulge that rubbed into his thigh, Holmes forcefully shoved Watson away. "You would do that here? In this condemned slaughterhouse? Are you out of your mind?"

"Where and when I make love to you is inconsequential. It is the need that cannot be quenched." Watson seized Holmes by his upper arm and held him immobile as he moved in to kiss his lover passionately on the mouth. His tongue pushed past resisting lips, delving into Holmes' mouth to intensify the kiss, even as his other hand dropped between Holmes' legs to begin fondling him there.

At first, Holmes struggled, feeling revulsion for the way that Watson was stimulating him, in such a place, and for the traitorous way that his flesh responded. The movement of his hips was entirely instinctive, seeking out the warmth and firm grip of Watson's hand. He found himself sucking hungrily on Watson's tongue, doing nothing to prevent his pants from being undone and opened. And then Watson's palm was pressing flat against him, stroking firmly.

"John… please… stop," Holmes gasped, his legs parting wider to allow Watson easier access, contradicting his protests.

"You haven't the willpower to stop me," Watson teased, moving his hand along the elastic of Holmes' underwear.

Planting the palm of his hand firmly against Watson's chest, Holmes abruptly shoved his lover away. "Don't be too sure about that." Under more normal circumstances, perhaps in a clean and familiar environment, Holmes would have found it impossible to resist Watson. Even now, forcing himself to reject the affections that he so desperately craved was torturous. But, he could still see the bloody thug slumped over in the chair in his peripheral vision. And the imaginary scent of decay seemed to fill his lungs with each breath that he took. He could not associate such filth and evil with the treasured act of making love that he and Watson had enjoyed numerous times over the past month. He just couldn't.

"Sherlock, come," Watson beckoned, reaching for Holmes again.

"Later… I promise." Holmes sidestepped Watson, feeling a little uneasy under the watchful eyes of his hormonally compromised lover as he readjusted his pants. Although he could appreciate Watson's sexual frustration – Holmes had been denying him an outlet for his desires for nearly a week – Holmes couldn't help but feel intensely uncomfortable when he considered the implications of Watson's suggestions. Watson appeared to have absolutely no qualms over engaging in carnal delights, in plain sight of a serial killer, and in the middle of what had recently been a nightmarish crime scene.

Is this some sort of perversion? A kink, perhaps…

"My dear, Sherlock, you are familiar with my needs. I assure you that this is quite urgent."

"My God, man! Get a hold of yourself! You're behaving like an addicted sex fiend!" Holmes practically scolded his companion, hurrying from the warehouse in a foul mood. Now he remembered exactly why he'd thrown Watson out of his bed six and a half days ago. The man was practically insatiable, making unreasonable demands on him that was seriously compromising his ability to function as a detective. How could Watson forget the dire predicament that they were in? Every moment of lost time only added to the threat to Holmes' very existence. Thus far, they had been lucky, moving about and functioning as a single entity. But, there would come a time when fate or misfortune would separate them… Holmes shuddered at the thought of what might happen then.

"Sherlock!" Watson quickened his pace to catch up to Holmes, following him out onto the deserted street and up a ways, where they'd left their trap and horse waiting. Grasping Holmes firmly by his shoulders, Watson spun the detective around and pulled him close to his chest. "I'm sorry. I don't know what got into me. You must think me to be a perverted monster."

"Perverted, unquestionably. A monster, never." Holmes grinned slyly when Watson chuckled. "Let us summon the Yard and hasten home so that you might join me for a hot bath."

"That sounds devilishly suggestive." Releasing Holmes quickly, lest their embrace be noticed by a wandering vagabond or other riffraff in this otherwise deserted neighborhood, Watson led the way over to the trap. "Up you go." Being ever the gentleman, Watson gave Holmes a chivalrous hand, helping the detective up onto the two-seater. He was about to follow when…

Watson patted down his coat front, a look of mild alarm crossing his pale features.

"What is it?" Holmes queried immediately.

"The briar pipe that you gave me two weeks ago… I seem to have misplaced it." He'd developed a fondness for the pipe as a result of their newfound intimacy. The act of puffing away at it after it had been in Holmes' mouth comforted Watson in a way that his cigarettes never could. And so, Holmes had bestowed that little gift upon him… and he'd foolishly lost it.

"You took it with you? Whatever for?"

"Sentimentality, my dear." Grimacing in distress, Watson patted Holmes' hand and moved away from the trap. "It must have been shaken out of my pocket in the scuffle. Wait here, I will retrieve it and be right back."

"W—wait! You can't just—." Before he'd been able to finish, Watson was already out of sight, racing back down the street and into the warehouse. "Watson!" Holmes jumped down from the trap in alarm, nearly losing his balance as his vision blurred and his limbs swayed numbly.

Fighting to restore his equilibrium, Holmes took a few tentative steps down the street, pressing his fingers to his temples when the dizziness increased and he grew short of breath.

"N—no… not again…"

Overhead, the moon faded, growing paler as Holmes' sight grew dimmer. Concentrating hard on his sense of hearing, Holmes listened for the sounds of Watson's footsteps, hoping to hear the good doctor's warm voice instead.

Nothing.

Just the scratchy sound of dirt being kicked up and scuffing the toes and sides of Holmes' nicely polished shoes. And the frightening desperation in the shallow gasps that had replaced his normal method of breathing. His arms shot out to either side, searching, or trying to ward off an unseen attack. The night grew blacker, and blacker still.

"John," Holmes pleaded, wheezing, the name cut out of his throat in a paper-thin gasp of dry air. Collapsing to his knees, he attempted to will himself to breathe, to shake off the clutches of death that tightened an imaginary noose around his neck.

And then, Holmes saw it.

It was not at all alien to him. In fact, the phenomenon was so startlingly familiar that he almost didn't question it. Almost. Save for the tiny peculiarity that he only experienced these hallucinations when he delved into the liquid tranquilities of cocaine and morphine. And he hadn't indulged in that whim of his for quite some time now. There was no reason for this.

With his eyes wide open, and yet seeing nothing in front of him, Holmes dreamed. The edges of his bizarre unworldly vision were charred, bleeding into the colors of the picture that he now focused on. In his mind's eye, he saw the warehouse again. The discolored surface of the floor, ropes hanging from the rafters, empty crates lying in a broken heap in one corner. He could smell dust, chemicals, and blood. Almost not trusting himself to move, but knowing instinctively that he must, Holmes turned his head to the side. Again he saw the unconscious brute fastened securely to the chair, and -.

But the lack of oxygen became too overbearing for Holmes. He collapsed onto his hands and knees, his whole body tensing and trembling as he fought for control over it. But his throat constricted further, squeezing out all the oxygen that was left. And so he panicked, clawing at the dirt, and then at his throat, praying for Watson to return.

Where was Watson?

Why had he left?

He knew… he should've known…

Suddenly, an alarming flash of movement and light lit up Holmes' strange inner vision. Blood followed the movement, soaking the short, dark, matted hair, painting a shirt and bare arms…

What trickery is this? What am I seeing? John! I need—

Another strike of hard metal against the yielding flesh. More blood. Less oxygen. Grasping… choking…

Nothing.

Everything went black, and Holmes pitched forward onto the dirt road, unconscious and on the verge of death.

To be continued…

All comments and feedback are appreciated and loved!