Author's Note: Written for my lovely friend Danielle, who is writing me some delicious Fischer/Ariadne in return, in the Inception fandom. For you, my dear! Because we all know that details are so very, very important. I don't own Sherlock Holmes; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought of him first, along with his brilliant companion.

A Study of Hands

A man's hands can speak a lot about a person, Watson reflects during one particularly long carriage journey across the moors. The sun is slowly sinking behind the distant treeline, casting searching fingers of light toward the vehicle – reaching and falling just short as they are being enveloped by the shadows which come with the night.

Holmes had fallen asleep some time ago, and until now, Watson has been content to gaze out the window. Unfortunately, the moors all look quite the same, and can only hold one's attention for so long. So Watson finds himself observing Holmes (not for the first time) with a critical eye, trained by the very subject which he studies at that moment.

Yes, he thinks, a man's hands can certainly speak wonders about him, betraying his true personality no matter how clever his subterfuge. A wood-worker, for example, would have rough hands, thick with callouses and uneven, hardened ridges from the slip of his knife; whereas softer ones (perhaps with neat, trimmed nails) would belong to a man who works with numbers. Holmes' hands are a curious mixture of both, with a uniqueness that makes them solely his own. Watson could easily pick them out from anywhere.

They are soft on the surface, but hardened in places from his innumerable experiments. These ventures into the scientific method have also left the detective with strange pigmentation. In the frenzy of discovery, Holmes has often spilled some chemical or other on himself, and the burns have left scars in their place. Oddly-shaped little marks are a soft, once-angry pink. Those that did not burn left splotches of blue and green, which Holmes insists will fade with time, but Watson is doubtful.

His left hand bears the scar of a knife-fight – long and thin, the scar arcs across his palm to wrap around his thumb. It will fade to a pale, fleshy tone over time, but for now remains vaguely pink, as it was only obtained a few weeks prior. Watson thinks the bandages should still be in place, but Holmes maintains that the material obstructs his grip on his pistol and makes it difficult to grasp. Despite his better judgment, Watson has conceded, because a scar on Holmes' hand is preferable to a bullet-wound in his chest.

What his hands do not portray publicly is perhaps Watson's favorite aspect. At night, in secret and away from the public's prying eyes, these hands brush Watson's hip or graze his sternum, and they are followed by trails of fire. The fire makes him gasp with pleasure or arch with some primal, insatiable need that he cannot admit (save for when Holmes whispers in his ear and demands it) or explain.

Holmes shifts in his seat, adjusting his position in his slumber, and brings Watson out of his reverie. His eyes move from the man's hands to his face.

Yes, a man's hands might tell a great deal about him, but they cannot betray everything. And Watson smiles to himself, because he is the only man who will ever come close to knowing everything about these hands, and the man behind them: the great Sherlock Holmes.