Sorry for the long wait, guys and dolls [mostly dolls xD]. Hope this makes up for it <3
Disclaimer: I own nary a thing.
When Mary returned to the bedroom some time after midnight she found the room deserted. And she knew immediately where her husband had gone.
"Holmes, your lack of personal hygiene is a disgrace." Watson said flatly, watching Holmes don the same stained, creased, unwashed shirt and trousers he'd been wearing the night before.
Holmes ignored him, pushing a handful of stringy, greasy hair from his unshaven face and not bothering to do his shirt buttons up.
"Don't you think it's time you went out and got some fresh air?" Watson asked him pointedly, shifting his cane from one hand to the other as he sat in his old chair, watching as Holmes struggled with his shirt cuffs. "It's really a very nice day. You need some sunlight... and socialization."
Holmes turned to him, one eyebrow raised disdainfully. "Sunlight and fresh air? How very quaint you are, Watson. But I really have far too much to do to go ambling aimlessly about London."
"Such as?" Watson prompted him bluntly.
Holmes blinked. "Such as?"
"Such as..." Watson repeated dryly. "What?"
"Such as..." Holmes gestured vaguely. "Things."
He turned away with a flustered sniff. "I don't have to explain everything I do to you."
"You haven't taken on a case since..." Watson cleared his throat. "My departure. I'm beginning to wonder how you're actually managing to sustain yourself. Your income was never extensive at the best of times."
"You needn't worry yourself." Holmes said scornfully. "I am a grown man, not a school boy. I am not in need of petting and preening."
Privately, Watson thought that was precisely what Holmes needed but he did not say it. "Why don't you come for a walk with me today? We can get something to eat. You haven't been eating properly. I asked Mrs Hudson."
"Really." Holmes prickled. "Checking up on me? Have you no respect for me at all? And you trust Mrs Hudson's information? She wouldn't know the time of the day if she didn't have that hideous cuckoo clock to scream it at her twelve times a day."
"I know you think yourself very independent and self-sufficient," Watson said coolly. "But if you don't eat, you will make yourself ill."
Holmes narrowed his eyes. "Independent? Self-sufficient?" He gave a low, humourless laugh. "How apt you are at twisting the mechanics of a situation to make it seem as though I were the one who ejected you from the household against your will. I did not choose independence and self-sufficiency, it chose me."
Watson stared at his cane, avoiding Holmes's gaze. "Be that as it may. You still have to eat occasionally, bathe from time to time and even leave the house now and then. These are the three criteria of a functioning human being and at present you fail on all counts."
Holmes sighed affectedly and fell into his chair opposite. Then he abruptly jumped up as though someone had jabbed a fork in his behind. "Uh!" The seat was still stained with Watson's blood. He scratched his head sheepishly, peering at it. "Oh. Forgot about that."
Watson stared at it, a frozen look of revulsion on his face. "Oh, Holmes. Please tell me that isn't from when we..."
Holmes glared at him defensively. "You left it there."
"It's your house!" Watson burst out, outraged. "How can you live like this?!"
Holmes suddenly rounded on him. "It is no longer your concern." He snapped, a flush of irritation marring his features.
Watson blinked at him, taken aback.
Holmes looked slightly taken aback himself. He frowned and ran a hand through his filthy hair with a sigh. "I meant to clean it, I really did but I entirely forgot."
"Oh, Holmes." Watson said tiredly, rubbing his forehead as though he had a pounding headache. "I'm really not trying to be intrusive. I'm just trying to help."
"I don't need your help." Holmes said quietly and unconvincingly.
"Well, will you at least let me tidy you up? Just to appease myself?" Watson said gently, knowing that Holmes would be more likely to allow it if he thought it was not his accepting help but rather just Watson being a fusspot.
Holmes hesitated, glancing around the dishevelled surroundings and then at his own bedraggled person. "Oh, alright." He said long-sufferingly.
Watson resisted the urge to smile, he just nodded solemnly.
"Ouch. You put soap in my eye."
Watson gritted his teeth and silently asked God to give him strength as he gently wiped the offending suds from the detective's eye and returned to scrubbing his hair. "For a man who does so little, you seem to be able to get an incredible amount of dirt in your hair." He remarked coolly.
Holmes did not reply. He was sulking, staring stonily ahead with his arms folded across his chest.
He was waist deep in warm, soapy water in an old fashioned hipbath Watson had transported to the middle of the bedroom floor. Watson had patiently warmed and filled the water to the precise temperature Holmes had demanded and had even managed to find an ancient bar of soap in a dish by the sink.
Holmes had then icily instructed him to avert his eyes while he undressed. Watson had been about to protest but he guessed that was exactly what Holmes wanted him to do, so he set his jaw and turned away, trying to ignore the little grunts Holmes made as he removed his clothes and dropped them into a pile on the floor.
Once Holmes had been hidden up to the ribs in the water, Watson had dared to kneel beside him and inspect the damage Holmes's apparent aversion to bathing had caused. He found that the detective's person would not be so very filthy had he not had such a large amount of soot, dirt and plant matter in his hair.
It seemed that the harder he scrubbed, the more Holmes's hair moulded into a giant, thick, sodden matt which refused to be untangled no matter how roughly he tugged at it.
To his credit, Holmes bore the discomfort very well besides much tutting and muttering and cursing under his breath, and occasionally remarking on Watson's total inability to do anything right.
"Has anyone ever told you that you have the hands of a pubescent chimpanzee?" He said pleasantly as Watson took to his hair with a comb.
Watson jerked the comb unnecessarily hard through a tangle in Holmes hair. Holmes let out a cry of pain.
"So sorry." Watson said blandly. "Excuse my chimpanzee hands."
Holmes grumbled and slid deeper into the water.
Watson rolled his eyes and went back to tugging the comb fruitlessly through Holmes's hair. "I can't believe how dirty your hair is." He said through gritted teeth. "It's repulsive."
"C'est la vie." Holmes said sulkily.
Watson rolled his eyes. He moved his hand temporarily from Holmes's hair to the the soft, smooth skin now hidden largely by the stubble he hadn't attended to in weeks.
Holmes impatiently swatted his hand away.
"You need to shave." Watson said archly.
"I'm growing a beard." Holmes replied with a sniff.
Watson raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Men with facial hair have to take care of it. You can't even manage to bathe regularly."
"You just like being the only one in the relationship to have facial hair because it makes you feel dominant." Holmes said accusingly. "You think it gives you authority over me."
"Oh, nonsense." Watson said irritably, filling a cup with some of the soapy water.
"You've always thought that having a moustache gives you leave to rule over me and boss me about and treat me like an adolescent." Holmes went on, enjoying the splotchy red flush that was creeping across Watson's face as he attempted to swallow his irritation. "You need dominance, it makes you feel like a man." He hissed provocatively to great effect. Watson's eyes flashed dangerously and his grip on the cup became visibly tighter.
"Perhaps I treat you like an adolescent because you bloody well act like one." Watson growled, narrowing his eyes.
"It's no good substituting me for your quiet, biddable wife." Holmes went on happily, taking his usual enjoyment in infuriating Watson into a rage. He paused. "Especially not now you've shown me how much pleasure you take in being fucked like a wh-
"Shut up." Watson snapped, dunking the cup of water over Holmes's soap covered head.
Holmes spluttered, spitting out a mouthful of water into the tub and blinking at Watson with a wounded look. "You bully."
"You idiot." Watson retorted, slamming the cup down beside him with unnecessary force. It bounced off the floorboards and skittered against the wall.
"Do be careful." Holmes remarked, pulling the curtain of sodden hair back from his eyes. "I can't have you breaking Mrs Hudson's tableware."
Watson opened his mouth furiously. "I-
He broke off. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, restraining the urge to dunk Holmes's head under the water. "There is no argument in the matter, Holmes. You need a shave. I am willing to give you a shave. There is absolutely no argument to be had. I am shaving you. End of story."
Holmes opened his mouth to argue but Watson spoke loudly over the top of him. "And if you insist on being difficult, I shall tell Mrs Hudson what you did to her border flowers."
Holmes froze and closed his mouth. He muttered something under his breath but did not argue further.
Watson finished Holmes's hair and turned his attention to the rest of Holmes's unwashed body. He held the soap in one hand and rested the other on his knee, hesitating.
Holmes glanced at him, immediately noticing his hesitation.
"Watson, you forced me into this bath, you're not going to deny me the pleasure of your wet hands, are you?" He said wryly.
Watson didn't entirely know if he trusted himself and his 'wet hands'. Especially not while Holmes's naked form was covered in soap suds.
He gnawed on the inside of his lip, wishing desperately that Holmes did not look quite so delicious while soaking wet, with his hair so hopelessly dishevelled and tangled, one smooth, wet knee bending out of the water. The water which only just hid what lay just beneath the surface...
He avoided Holmes's eye and lathered the soap between his hands, feeling his temperature gradually and uncomfortably rise.
"Hurry." Holmes said huskily in almost a growl.
Watson grasped the soap too tightly and it catapulted from his grasp. It hit the wall with a dull thud and landed wetly on the floorboards. They both stared at it. Beside him Holmes gave a little shuddery breath and Watson knew he was trying as desperately as he was to control himself.
Watson got up with some difficulty and went to fetch it. He turned to find Holmes's eyes roaming over him with undisguised longing. He had the uncomfortable feeling that Holmes was already undressing him with his eyes.
Deciding to pretend he didn't see the way Holmes's eyes were caressing his crotch, he went back to his place beside the hipbath and put the soap aside.
He looked down at his hands covered in soap and then at Holmes in the tub, watching him with a look which almost made him blush.
"I must be out of my mind." He grumbled.
Ignoring the uneasy heat now settling low in his stomach, he slid his hands beneath the water, pressing his hips firmly into the side of the bath to steady himself as well as keep himself in check.
To his chagrin, the moment his fingertips came into contact with Holmes's skin, slippery with soap he felt his prick stir immediately in his trousers, as though on cue. He cringed, pressing himself a little harder into the tub. Holmes did not make any sign that he had felt Watson's hands on him, he stayed perfectly still, silently watching Watson.
Watson lowered his eyes. "This isn't a practical method of cleaning." He said in a low voice, not moving his hands from Holmes's chest.
"But I haven't any sponges or flannels or even a scrubbing brush." Holmes said mournfully. "So I'm afraid your hands will have to do. Make sure you don't miss a spot." His voice trembled slightly.
Watson swallowed and lowered his hands to Holmes's stomach. He could feel the muscles flinching and trembling under his touch.
Holmes appeared calm but Watson noticed that both his hands were gripping the side of the tub very tightly, his knuckles were white and his nails were half embedded in the wood.
"This is stupid." Watson mumbled, still not reclaiming his hands.
Holmes gazed at him, his eyes dark. Watson lathered more soap onto his hands and slowly spread it across Holmes's shoulders. He rubbed it across his ribs and then under his arms. He didn't notice how wet his shirt was becoming or how the heat from the water was leaving a coating of perspiration on his forehead.
"Uh." He heard Holmes's mumble as Watson's forearm was pressed against his nipple.
Watson pretended not to hear. Keeping his eyes on Holmes's, he teased the fingers of his left hand down the trail of hair from Holmes's bellybutton to the space between his legs. He could hear Holmes's breathing hitching, even though he tried to restrain it. He could see him arching his back and rolling his hips forward as the sensation of Watson's touch began to grip his body.
Watson paused between Holmes's hips, aware of how hard he was despite his best efforts to quash it. Holmes, who had been determinedly containing himself before now, gave a little moan.
He twisted around so he was face to face with Watson and laid a damp hand on Watson's chest. "I think you need to undress. Now." He said in a low voice, his nails digging into Watson's skin.
Watson didn't move. "Don't be stupid." He said briskly, though every inch of his body was begging him to comply.
Holmes's grip on his shirt tightened, he willed him closer. Watson did not respond, neither did he move away. He let Holmes kiss him, his hands slipping away from Holmes's skin.
Holmes kissed him hungrily, tugging at his shirt, pleading with him wordlessly to give in to his unspoken request. "Holmes," Watson said half heartedly against his lips. "It's not even midday."
Holmes broke away. "And?" He asked, raising his eyebrows. "Is there some law I am unaware of which states that sodomy is legal after twelve, but not before?"
Watson swallowed, withdrawing his hands from the water. His shirt was sodden through and so were much of his trousers. He attempted to reason with himself. That he would have to take them off anyway because he'd have to dry them before he went home. That he would catch a dreadful cold if he sat about in wet clothes. But by the time he had undone half the buttons on his shirt, he had given up trying to make excuses for why he was undressing and getting into a hipbath with Holmes.
Mary did not sleep that night. She sat in her and Watson's bedroom and thought about what she would do when her husband returned the following day.
She had not yet decided how she would approach the fact that he was a sodomite. Nor that he had lied to her again and again and could have been lying to her for months or that there was something evidently wrong with their marriage if he was seeking solace in the arms of Sherlock Holmes.
She wished she had someone to speak to. She did not trust any of her 'friends'. They were a fickle, shallow lot who treasured gossip and scandal over anything else. She knew that they would pounce on the smallest scrap of evidence that her marriage was failing and would alert everyone short of the London Times. She shuddered to think what they would say if they ever learned of her husband's defect.
It was so obvious that he had gone to Holmes that night. He hadn't even attempted to make things right with his wife. He hadn't asked her what was wrong. He had fled. It was easier to run than to try and struggle through the night with her.
When he arrived home, she decided, she would give him a chance to confess. If he finally admitted his infidelity to her, then maybe, just maybe, they could salvage the remains of their ruined marriage.
That was her resolve and she hoped and prayed desperately that it would prove her husband had not turned his back on her completely.
Holmes watched from his bed as Watson dressed back into a spare pair of clothes Holmes had lent him. His own clothes were soaked. As the lovemaking session in the bath had become more passionate, more water had spilled onto the floor and afterwards Watson had found his trousers floating in a puddle by the door.
Watson's fingers were clumsy as he donned his shirt. His mind felt pleasantly muddled. He couldn't quite understand what had come over him. He was not the sort of person to strip off and straddle someone in a bathtub. But he had to admit it had been quite agreeable. To say the least.
Holmes had been clearly fearful of causing harm to Watson and went about everything very gently and carefully, even when Watson became impatient and demanded he thrust harder.
Holmes had been slimy with soap. Watson could feel it between his thighs as he had been wedged against him, it made the process a bit trickier because they slid against each other and against the tub itself but some way or another they had managed to steady themselves without sliding off each other.
Watson enjoyed being fucked more this time than the last. Though it lacked the explosiveness of their first attempt, it was far less painful as the soap acted as a perfect lubricant and Holmes seemed to have more of an idea of what he was doing. He was a quick learner, Watson found. He found the doctor's spot very swiftly and within minutes Watson was moaning helplessly into Holmes's ear.
"You know, I think I underestimated the value of a good bath." Holmes remarked, examining his pipe while Watson struggled with his belt.
"Very funny." He said over his shoulder. "Just make sure you make use of it more often. At least a couple of times a week. At least."
"Yes, mother." Holmes said in a bored voice.
Watson rolled his eyes and turned to him. "You still need a shave."
Holmes grimaced at him, obviously he had been hoping Watson would have forgotten given their bathtub pursuits. "Shouldn't you be getting home to your wife?"
Watson shrugged. "She won't miss me. Where do you keep your razor?"
"In the cupboard over the sink." Holmes replied distractedly, searching for a match in his pockets.
Watson disappeared out to get it.
Holmes found a match and struggled to strike it.
"Which cupboard?" Came Watson's voice.
"The only cupboard that's in there." Holmes said irritably, through the spout of his pipe.
There was silence. Holmes succeeded in lighting the pipe and took a drag.
He stared absentmindedly at the smoke curling upwards, tossing the match onto the floor.
Watson still did not return.
"Where the devil has he got to?" Holmes muttered to himself. "How long does it take to get a..."
He trailed off, horror dawning on him like a slow realisation.
"Watson!" He spluttered, tumbling off the bed, shoving his pipe onto a chair and scrambling towards the door. "Watson! It's not in the cupboard! I'm sure I-
He came face to face with Watson in the doorway. He was holding the leather case and the bottle of cocaine. His lips were very thin.
"I..." Holmes trailed off, staring at the leather case.
Wordlessly, Watson opened the case. The syringe was still there. Of course it was still there, Holmes thought irritably to himself. He swallowed. "Dear Watson-
Watson snapped the case shut with a sharp crack that made Holmes jump and flung it across the room. It hit the far wall and bounced off it onto the floor. Holmes fell back in alarm, quite certain that Watson was about to strike him.
"Is this what you've been doing since I left?" Watson spat, the anger pulsing through every feature on his face.
"No." Holmes said hollowly, knowing that even though it was the truth, Watson would never believe it.
"You told me you had given it up." Watson went on furiously, the hand holding the cocaine bottle shaking slightly. "How the hell do you expect me to ever trust you?"
"I don't know." Holmes said quietly.
"Why the hell do you do this? Why do you do this to yourself? To me?" Watson's face was beginning to become flushed. His knuckles were white.
"I don't know." Holmes repeated.
"Are you so dysfunctional that you can't even hold yourself together for a few months after I've gone?" Watson demanded angrily.
"I don't know." Holmes suddenly roared at him, surprising himself as much as Watson.
Watson didn't speak, he stared at Holmes, his eyes still dark with his fury.
"I don't know why I do it." Holmes snarled. "Except that perhaps it's because you've left me and you're the only person I've felt even the remotest regard for. Except perhaps that I am alone and have nothing and no one in the world to comfort me. Except perhaps that the one person I have ever felt worthy of my affections, my deep, unwavering affections, treats me like his whore to be used and then left and used and then left."
Holmes wanted to stop. He didn't want to tell Watson these things. He didn't want to speak these things aloud. But it was like the flood waters had breached the dam, he couldn't stop himself. He couldn't hold his emotions any longer, they were pouring out in a hot, painful deluge.
"You leave me and I have nothing to live for." Holmes went on, almost unable to keep a sob from almost breaking through his brittle words. "You leave me again and again and all I have is myself and the knowledge that you choose me second after someone else."
He crouched to his knees, his breathing heavy and shuddering. He gripped at his heart as though it pained him. It did pain him. But there was no medical name or scientific method to his pain. He was experiencing the agonies of emotion that he had so desperately attempted to block out for years.
Watson watched, frozen as Holmes crumbled to the floor, his back heaving as though he might collapse completely. He could feel the cocaine bottle in his hand, the cold glass against his fingertips. He stared at it. It was just then that he noticed it was unopened.
In the cupboard it had been shoved behind other bottles, a shamefully bad hiding attempt by Holmes but in a way that suggested it had not been intended to be used any time soon.
Watson suddenly felt a sharp swoop of guilt and self-loathing in his stomach. He didn't know how he had become so blind.
He threw the bottle across the dresser and knelt beside Holmes, pulling him forcefully up so Holmes's pale, thin face was inches from his. "I've been a bastard." He said frankly. "I've been a pig. Unworthy of you. Beneath your regard and your trust."
Holmes sniffed, avoiding his eye. His lip trembled slightly.
"I've been unfair to you and Mary." He went on, sliding his hands under Holmes's arms to support him. "It can't go on."
Holmes blinked at him. "It can't?" He said fearfully.
Watson nodded. "I want to be with you. But you know it's impossible. We can't ever be together in the way a man and a woman can be. Not outside these four walls." Holmes bowed his head. "It'd be a constant source of anxiety. We would always feel like someone suspected. We would always be lying to people. We wouldn't be able to have any true friends."
Holmes let out a little miserable sob.
Watson exhaled deeply. "But I love you." He said heavily.
Holmes looked quickly at him, his eyes damp. Watson could see his eyelashes clinging together.
"And that would make it worthwhile."
Holmes's lip was definitely trembling now. He looked as though he was barely keeping himself from bursting into tear, he kept twitching his nose and eyes in a familiar fashion that Watson had seen other people, usually women at the opera, doing to keep from crying. "You do?" He croaked.
Watson cleared his throat, feeling vaguely foolish declaring his love for Holmes while they were both on the floor and he was wearing Holmes's clothes. "Yes." He said evenly. "I've let this go on for too long. I can't keep doing this to Mary." He hesitated. "But I can't divorce her."
Holmes lowered his eyes. "Oh."
"You know that would ruin her. I don't want to destroy the rest of her life." Watson went on softly.
"How can we be together if you're still married to her?" Holmes asked sullenly.
"I'll think of something." Watson said quietly, he gently kissed Holmes who did not respond.
Then he stood up, feeling Holmes's arms slide away from him. Holmes gazed up at him.
"I'll think of something." Watson said again.
Holmes did not reply. He slowly got to his feet, leaning unsteadily on the bed.
"I have to go." Watson said straightening his shirt. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Holmes watched him from the bed. The sight of Watson's retreating back was beginning to become very well known to him.
"Watson," He said as Watson was at the door. Watson turned his head to him. "I haven't taken any cocaine since you left. That's the truth."
Watson nodded and left him.
To be continued...
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