Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Disclaimer: Not mine, although actually in the public domain. No profit is intended.
Warnings: Character death. (I should probably be kept away from the keyboard when I’m feeling so angsty).
Summary: Throughout the years, Watson watches Holmes sleep.
Author’s Note: Inspired by the Holmesslash Yahoo group Friday Fives prompt: Five times Watson sat at Holmes' bedside all night. Watson may not always be sitting in this fic, but he is watching Holmes rest.
Sleep, Perchance to Dream
The wind howled incessantly outside our cozy rooms. I burrowed deeper into my chair, feeling the warmth from the fire heat my chilled bones. The gaslights were burning brightly, attempting to add cheer against the dark, cold night.
I looked up from my sea novel in a fit of discontent. The wound in my shoulder ached and my leg was stiff, obviously victims of the bitter weather. I contemplated heading to bed although I feared a rather sleepless night.
My gaze fell upon my companion in the room. Sherlock Holmes had fallen fast asleep while lying upon the settee.
I smiled slightly to myself as I watched him rest. His usually expressive face was peaceful and not tinged with his customary lines of worry or concentration. I found myself, again, amazed by the man with whom I had shared rooms these past eight months. I never ceased to be astonished by his brilliant deductive mind, or his quick changing moods, or his passion for his work.
As I watched Holmes sleep, I noticed that his face began to take on a pained expression. He also started to twitch slightly and his breathing became irregular. With a start, I realized he was having a nightmare.
I do not know what prompted me to react as I did, for if I had thought about it I would never have done so. I was out of my chair in an instant, gently shaking Holmes and softly calling his name.
He awoke with a gasp and clutched my arm in his strong grip. I remembered just how much my companion loathed sentiment and interference, and I instantly regretted my non-thinking actions.
Holmes, however, did not seem annoyed. “Watson,” he breathed, almost with relief. He loosened his grip on my arm but did not release me.
“You were having a nightmare,” I said unhelpfully.
“Yes,” he agreed. He sighed deeply and let go of me. He sat up groggily.
I walked to the sideboard and poured us each a brandy. He drank his down rather quickly.
He smiled at me but it did not reach his remarkable grey eyes. “I suppose I’ll head to bed now, Watson,” he said in a hushed tone. He stood.
“Holmes,” I blurted out, “I… understand night terrors. I have had my own, from time to time.” I was certain he knew that since I had woken up screaming more than once since moving into to Baker Street. While the nightmares were less frequent, the horrors of Afghanistan had still not yet left me.
He looked at me quizzically.
“So if you feel,” I continued, “that you need some companionship, or someone to share a brandy, please, I pray you dear fellow, do not hesitate to find me.”
He tilted his head slightly. “I would not wake you, Watson.”
I smiled at him and spoke as encouragingly as I could. “I would not mind, Holmes. In fact, I would prefer to spend a sleepless night with you under such circumstances than to learn that I slept blissfully while you suffered.”
He quirked his lips in his distinctive half smile. “Will you make me the same promise, then? That you will seek me out when you find yourself disturbed in the middle of the night?”
I suddenly understood his reluctance, for asking for help in such an instance seemed to be an admittance of weakness. Yet I also sensed that I could trust Holmes more than anyone else I had ever met, although I could not explain my feelings. I swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes,” I said quietly. “I will seek you out.”
This time his smile reached his eyes. He looked at me with more warmth than I had ever seen him direct at anyone. I felt my breath catch and I wondered slightly at my reaction, but mostly I smiled back at him.
“That is excellent news,” he exclaimed.
“Do you make the same promise?” I demanded.
He spent a few moments as if in deep thought and then his gaze met mine. “Yes,” he whispered. He turned and walked toward his room. I watched him the whole while.
When he reached the threshold of his door he looked back at me. “Thank you, my dear Watson.” He nodded once and then went into his bedroom. “Pleasant dreams” he called and then closed the door behind him.
I sat in silence for a while and contemplated the mysteries surrounding my friend.
I lay in the bed and gently held the living, breathing body of Sherlock Holmes to me. He slept deeply and it was all I could do to resist kissing his brow. I was, however, unwilling to wake him after the excitement of the day. I could tell that he had been using himself quite severely over the past three years I had assumed him dead and that he desperately needed some rest, not to mention nourishment. I vowed to ensure that he would receive plenty of both.
Sleep eluded me that night but I found that I did not care. I could scarce believe my change in fortune. Holmes was alive and sleeping in my arms.
I shifted slightly so I could better see his face. I was still astonished by the day’s events. Holmes’ miraculous appearance in my consulting room, his fantastical tale, the adventure in Camden house, the capture of Moran—all of these incidents almost paled in comparison with what occurred here in his room this very night.
The floodgates of our passion, always strong between us but never admitted or spoken of, finally broke. Without a conscious thought we were in each other’s arms—kissing, loving, breathless with desire.
I was now a criminal in the eyes of the law, a sinner before God. I did not care in the slightest—Holmes was alive and home and in my arms. There was nothing more important in my life than lying here now and watching him sleep.
I could no longer resist; I kissed his brow gently and held him close, content for the first time in years.
Holmes lay draped across me, sound asleep. His enthusiasm tonight had been contagious and our lovemaking vigorous. I felt a deep, pleasant ache from where he had taken me; my body still tingled from the sensations.
I stroked his hair and pushed back a sweaty strand from his temple. He sighed and nestled closer to me.
Holmes had been in top form these past few days as he brilliantly solved the mysteries surrounding the six smashed Napoleon busts. Today had been his piece de resistance as he dramatically revealed the famous black pearl of the Borgias from the final bust, much to Lestrade’s and my astonishment.
I could tell that Lestrade’s heartfelt praise had touched Holmes deeply and that, as much as he immediately hid behind his cold and practical exterior, he was quite pleased and moved. This surge in emotion had led to our rather exciting coupling, made all the more thrilling since we had not lain together for almost a week.
I continued to stroke his hair as I regarded my friend, my lover. I still considered him to be the best and most amazing man I had ever known. Familiarity had in no way bred contempt; instead it led to an even greater sense of wonder about the man I was so fortunate with which to spend my life.
I realized with a great start that I was deeply in love with Sherlock Holmes. I almost laughed at the absurdity, for I do not know how I could have possibly missed the strength of my feelings beforehand. I almost woke him to tell him, but I was certain that he had deduced my regard long ago.
I gazed at his face once more and pulled him close. Then I slowly drifted off to sleep with my love beside me.
We dropped Von Bork off at Scotland Yard, where it was obvious that they were expecting to receive the German spy. Then, after Holmes had cashed the check that Von Bork had given him, which I found to be an amusing touch, I drove Holmes to his hotel. We shared a brandy in one of the fine restaurants there and sat quietly for several moments.
“You think that war with Germany is inevitable?” I finally ventured to ask.
His remarkable grey eyes met mine, and he looked at me with such profound sadness. “Yes,” said he. “I fear so.”
We sat in silence for a few more moments and finished our drinks.
“Well,” he said with exaggerated indifference, “Thank you for your assistance, Watson. I won’t keep you any longer. I am certain that you must get home to your wife.” He would not meet my eyes.
I swallowed hard. “I told her that I did not expect to be home tonight.”
Holmes flicked his gaze toward me and then quickly scanned the room. No one was near us. “This is most unwise,” he said very quietly.
He looked at me directly. “I will not be responsible for you breaking your marriage vows, Watson.”
I tried to smile but I fear it was pained. “I made vows to you long before I made them to her.”
“Yet you broke those as well.”
I looked away, for this time I could no longer meet his intense gaze. “I did what I needed to in order to protect you, us,” I whispered brokenly.
He grabbed my hand. I looked up, startled.
“Surely there was another way,” said he.
“I could not see one. We were under too much suspicion, Holmes. Our relationship, our every movement, was highly scrutinized. You know that.”
He let go of my hand. “I do know that you only did what you thought was best. That, however, does not make it any easier.”
I nodded but he was not looking at me. I felt miserable.
He stood and then looked at me with an imperial tilt to his head that I had missed so dearly. My heart leapt at the sight. He held his hand toward me; I took it in my own and stood. He nodded and released my hand. Then he turned and slowly began to walk away.
By unspoken agreement I followed him to his room. The door closed behind us with a heavy click.
Our lovemaking was sweet and poignant, gentle and desperate, and filled with lost years of passion. I pushed him against the wall and kissed him thoroughly, determined to explore him one more time. When we finally made it to the bed, we undressed rapidly so that we could touch and feel and hold each other close, skin on skin, our desire evident. I took him with slow, steady strokes, and he clawed my back and urged me deeper.
He is sleeping now, his head on my chest, my arms around him. I will not, however, waste our remaining time together in slumber. Instead I study him carefully, surprised by the slight signs of age—the graying at his temples, the fine lines around his eyes. I smile at his ridiculous goatee and am amazed once more at his penchant for disguises.
I hold him closely throughout the night and watch him sleep, dreading the coming dawn when we would be forced to part ways once more.
Holmes lay on the bed, his breath shallow. I sat nearby, hovering and occasionally checking his pulse. I had never felt so helpless in my life.
His eyes fluttered open and he looked at me, a slight smile forming on his lips. “Well, Watson,” he rasped, “I guess this is one dilemma I cannot solve.”
I could not speak around the lump in my throat.
“Don’t mourn, my dear friend,” he said, taking my hand in his and clasping me with his now weak fingers. “I look forward to a new adventure.”
A sob escaped me. I held his hand in both of mine, careful not to exert too much pressure and unwittingly cause him pain. “I just wish there was something I could do,” I admitted. “Finally we’re in my area of expertise and I’m as hopeless as ever.”
“Don’t, John. Don’t blame yourself for this. My body is a shell of its former self. There is nothing that you, or anyone, could do.”
I closed my eyes against the hot tears that threatened to overwhelm me.
He squeezed my hand gently. I opened my eyes and met his gaze. He was smiling.
“I know I never told you,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper, “and that I took you for granted more often than not, but I love you, John Watson. I have for years. Most of my life, in fact.”
I kissed his hand and held it to my face. “Sherlock. I lov—”
“Hush,” he said quietly. “There’s no need for you to say it. Your every action through the years has made it perfectly clear.”
“I love you,” I whispered, defying him at last.
He quirked his distinctive half smile and the light of it reached his eyes. “Also know, my dear," he said, "that the past five years here in Sussex Downs, spent with you, have been the happiest in my life. I’m only sorry we did not have longer.”
“As am I. It’s not long enough, Holmes. It will never be long enough.”
He squeezed my hand slightly. He had no strength left.
“Wait for me,” I begged. “Please, wait for me.”
“I cannot stay any longer, Watson. But know that I will be on the other side, awaiting your arrival. Don’t hurry on my account, though. I will wait for you until the end of time.”
“Sherlock,” I cried, kissing his hand once more. “Please.”
He smiled at me one more time, and then his hand went slack as his final breath left his body.
I sat there numb for a few moments, then I placed his hand on the bed beside him. I kissed his brow and gently closed his remarkable grey eyes for the last time. Then I let my tears fall.