It always came to this. They got so close, yet Watson would not allow it. The reasons he had for never undressing for Holmes were entirely different and more shameful to himself than Holmes believed they were. "You mustn't be afraid of being found out," the detective reassured him every time, "I'd never let that happen," and the doctor mumbled an answer and turned away. Though when Holmes persisted, Watson would kiss him and touch him; he wanted this – highly illegal though it was – but he couldn't let himself have all of it. Holmes offered everything, but Watson could not take it.

John Watson would never have considered himself a shy person. He was a doctor with a small but respected practice, and he had plenty of friends. He never judged anybody on their looks (living with Sherlock Holmes had taught him that much) and he usually didn't put much importance on his own, but he just could not allow Sherlock Holmes to see all that was wrong with his body.

His leg, often unresponsive and scarred, marked. A deep cut that had never healed properly, so still showed up, from the top of his ankle almost to his knee, angry and red all the way up his shin, even descending into a hideous bruise-purple colour in the middle. The colours represented the aches and cutting pain it brought perfectly. He could barely ever bring himself to look at it, and often caught himself thinking, while dressing, that he didn't deserve the large, ugly mark and the pain it brought. Then he would feel even more ashamed, and remember that he was lucky to be alive.

Then there was his shoulder. A red welt, in plain view of everybody if he removed his shirt, shiny like a burn, another mark. He didn't want anybody to see what the war did to him. It claimed him – even though Watson knew that was a ridiculous thought – the wounds he bore, and would always have, would never let him completely forget the horror. Maybe that was why he couldn't expose it, even to someone else who had a hold on him.

After yet another of Holmes' failed attempts to do more than kiss the doctor, Watson retired to bed feeling particularly self conscious, so he did not change. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, and fantasised about not being alone in the space of the double bed he had.

Sherlock Holmes could take it no longer. He could tell Watson wanted to go further than they did, but the doctor always stopped him. Holmes' mind was working away on the problem, though at the moment it seemed like a most complex case. Of course, the answer would probably be teasingly simple, he just had not laid his hands upon it yet. He decided the best way forward for his private investigation would be to ask Watson himself about it.

Holmes was careful and quiet as he crept to Watson's bedroom, careful not to disturb him, even though he was awake. Watson had been half expecting the detective to come and tell him that it was all over; Watson was being unreasonable and difficult. The detective did slip into his room, and did lie next to him on the bed, but it was not a negative thing.

"John, I want you to tell me at least part of the reason you'll never allow me to undress you." That was far worse than being broken up with, but Watson could hardly deny Holmes now.
"Because I'm broken. Scarred. Marked. Ugly." He turned away, unable to look at Holmes. Watson's reasons were indeed simple, but they sounded childish to his own ears. Holmes looked taken aback as he sat up and looked down at the doctor. "My dear Watson, you are anything but ugly! Your face is far more beautiful than any woman could ever hope to be, and your company and personality is invaluable and most becoming. Surely you do not think that any amount of scars could ever cause me to leave you?" These words too were so simple, so reassuring. Watson's heart clenched in his chest, and he lay on his back and took the detective's hand, closing his eyes. "See for yourself then, that I am repulsive," he sighed, defeated.

But Holmes was so gentle and considerate. "If you want me to stop, just tell me and I shall," the detective promised, undoing the buttons on Watson's shirt and then his own, pushing the material aside and revealing Watson's imperfect shoulder. The doctor looked at him anxiously, and Holmes pressed his fingers to the wound, before bending to kiss it, his lips moving along Watson's collarbone and up his neck, before whispering close to his ear, "Nobody else has distinctions such as this. It is mine alone to see. The burden which you bear only I can assist with." Watson relaxed, just a little, and took Holmes' wrists, placing them on his hips, his heart still beating a little too quickly. Before he allowed the detective to take his clothes off, Watson undid the fastenings on Holmes' own and the detective kicked them to the floor, now clad only in his undershorts, Watson heading the same way.

Sherlock Holmes slowly unbuttoned Watson's trousers, sliding them slowly from his hips and legs, pressing his lips to one of Watson's slender thighs. The doctor wore nothing but his underwear too, and Holmes could see his ruined leg. The detective gasped in undisguised horror when he saw it, and turned away, standing up and walking to look out of the window.

Watson's heart shattered in his chest, and his eyes burned. How could he have thought that someone could bear the sight of his skin? Holmes hadn't minded his shoulder...Holmes had been his everything for the past couple of weeks. Watson had thought that maybe he would not mind his leg so. Clearly, as was often the case and he was often reminded, his conclusions were erroneous.

The doctor stared at the figure silhouetted at the window, stock still, stood poker straight. For a long time, Holmes did not move as he tried to clear his mind. Watson had almost drifted into a fitful sleep, when the detective moved, sitting on the bed next to Watson and looking into his face. "My dearest Watson I am so very sorry for the way I acted-"

"Holmes, I knew I would get a reaction like that," it was barely a whisper.

"No, you do not understand me," Holmes' eyes were as pain filled as Watson's. "I was not repulsed by you, or the sight of your wound." He placed a hand on Watson cheek. "It was what the wound represents. The thought of the pain it causes you, it must have been agonising at the time. The thought of the horrors you were put through...that is what made me react as I did. And I regret it, as all I have done is cause you more pain, but I just cannot stand to see my beautiful Boswell hurt."

Watson swallowed the lump in his throat. " will not leave me?"

"Far from it. I was so worried that you would not let me see you because you were ashamed of what we were doing."

"Holmes, I know it's illegal, but I trust you, I want you, I need you." Watson sat up a little to meet Holmes' lips, before pulling him into him to whisper in his ear. "I love you, Sherlock Holmes."

Holmes drew away, looking shocked, and Watson was worried again. The detective shook his head at the doctor's expression, kissing him again, gently, tenderly. "As I love you, my beautiful, beautiful John Watson," he whispered, caressing Watson's face and neck, to the wound on his shoulder.

Watson's smile nearly broke his face, and he pulled Holmes down lasciviously. "I think we have a lot of lost time to make up, old boy," his voice full of desire. Holmes grinned too, placing his knee between Watson's spread thighs, pressing against his arousal, his hands stroking up and down Watson's injured shin, his tongue on the shoulder wound, mapping out his Boswell in every detail.