Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Disclaimer: Not mine, although actually in the public domain. No profit is intended.
Summary: Holmes returns to Watson’s life on the eve of the war.
Author’s Note: This is a sequel to August 1912: Separation, and is the second in a 5-part series titled (unoriginally) The August Series, which will capture moments in time, every other August, from 1912 to 1920 (from the time Holmes leaves for America through the aftermath of the Great War. (And yes, I have plans for the other three parts; now I just need to write them)).
August 1914: Reunion
Part 2 of the August Series
I could barely contain my excitement when I received the wire.
Meet me at Harwich Station on 2 August with the car.
The game is still afoot.
I smiled broadly, for it was obvious that Altamont was an alias for my dearest friend, Sherlock Holmes, returning to England after two years of secret work in America. I also rejoiced because he wished me to participate in whatever grand scheme he was planning.
I felt that twenty years of my life had just melted away, and I was transported back to the old days of our time in Baker Street. I was almost giddy with anticipation.
I informed my wife that I had business and may be away for a day or so. She looked at me suspiciously, but did not question me, for which I was grateful. After all, it was not that unusual for a doctor to spend significant time with a patient. Still believing that Holmes was in America, she had no inkling as to the true nature of my business.
I did, I admit, feel a sharp pang of guilt over my deception. Her dislike of Holmes was legendary; she had never forgiven him for my being shot during the matter of the three Garridebs. I fear that her resentment ran deeper, to an almost jealous competition for my affections. But I had never missed a direct summons from Sherlock Holmes to assist him on a case in over thirty years of our partnership, and I was not about to start.
The train pulled into the station and I watched the passengers closely as they disembarked, my heart beating wildly. I saw him in the distance – tall, lanky, his hair shot with grey, and sporting a ridiculous goatee. I forced myself to calmly walk toward him.
A rare, genuine smile broke upon his face when he saw me, and I knew it matched the one on my own.
“There you are,” he exclaimed, clapping my shoulder. “You’ve brought the car, I trust?”
I nodded, unable to speak around the sudden lump in my throat.
He held my arm and led me across the platform. “Come,” said he. “We have much to do today, my friend. I’ll explain as you drive.”
Thus I found myself embroiled in Holmes’ adventure, assisting in the capture of the German spy. I was in a state of heightened excitement as we drove. I glanced at Holmes as he explained the plan and my role within, watching his long, thin fingers animate some point. I felt a thrill that I had not experienced in over a decade and a pang of wistful joy as I listened to my oldest, dearest friend. I was soon caught up in his plots and designs, and our actions were coordinated like in the old days.
We arrived at the widespread home, where it was agreed that I would wait in my little Ford, acting as the chauffeur, until Holmes gave me the signal to act. He mentally steeled himself and went to open the door, then turned to me and smiled. “It is awfully good to see you again, Watson,” said he, his voice barely above a whisper.
“The same, my dear friend.”
Holmes gave me a quick nod, and then went off to enact his strategy, which, I might add, worked perfectly.
Even our drive back to London, with our prisoner, Von Bork, tied and cursing in the spare seat of my little car, could not dampen my exhilaration at being in Holmes’ company again. We deposited the spy at Scotland Yard, we deposited his check at Holmes’ bank, and we deposited ourselves at Claridge Hotel, where we enjoyed a well deserved meal.
Over supper, Holmes told me some of his amazing tale, and how his undercover activities took him from London to Chicago, then to Buffalo and Ireland, and then finally back to England. As always, I loved to listen to my friend. I was amazed at how his great intellect, combined with his penchant for disguise, allowed him to so fully infiltrate these secret organizations.
“It must have been dangerous work,” said I at one point.
Holmes nodded, but then gave me a quick smile. “Yes, however, I took care, Watson. After all, I had promised you to return.”
I could feel myself flushing slightly as I remembered our last meeting and the vow I extracted from him, but I steadily held his gaze. “I am glad of it.”
He smiled again, almost involuntarily. “So am I.”
The air around us was suddenly thick with tension.
“I assume you must to hurry back to Mrs. Watson,” Holmes said, his voice hushed.
“No. I told her not to expect me.”
“Ah.” Holmes actually bit his lip. “Well then. Should we see the rooms the government has provided me, and have an after dinner drink? I think we could both unwind a bit after the excitement of the day.”
I swallowed and nodded. “Lead on, my friend.”
I barely had time to notice that we had entered a suite of rooms and were currently in the sitting room when Holmes turned, pushing me against the closed door and kissing me forcefully. I was momentarily stunned by the direct assault of his passion and failed to respond immediately. He pulled back, wrenching away from me and breathing heavily.
“My apologies, Watson,” said he before I could even move. “I realize that my advances must be unwelcome after all this time, and that your concern for your wife must take precedent and—”
I leapt toward him and grabbed his upper arms, bringing him to me. “Shut up, Holmes,” I admonished, but not unkindly, for I could see a smile start to form on his lips, which were soon preoccupied, for I crushed him to me and kissed him with all my desire. He moaned, lightly and beautifully.
I had long since come to terms with my dueling passions for Holmes and my vows to my wife. I was honest enough with myself to admit that my decision was not the proper one. We had married rather quickly; she was looking for stability and security after the unfortunate death of her prior husband and the financial catastrophe that it had entailed, and I was desperately attempting to quell rumors regarding Holmes and myself. True rumors, which was the crux of the matter, for our behavior, although a representation of honest feelings, was both illegal and condemned.
Holmes disagreed, vehemently, with my actions, but I could see no other solution to our dangerous dilemma. Holmes moved from London a few years later, unable to bear, he said, the memories of our shared rooms now that he was alone.
I had planned to remain committed to my new wife, I truly had. Although ours was not a burning love affair, she was a good woman, and did not deserve the hidden perverse nature of her husband. So I remained faithful, and chaste.
I visited Holmes in his new home, occasionally, every few months or so for a weekend in the country. He had been my dearest friend for more than 20 years, and I could no more walk away from him than I could disobey my King. In fact, if the truth be known, I was far more likely to follow Holmes than an order given by any monarch.
Nothing happened between us on my first, second, or even third visit. But on my fourth visit, we had drank perhaps just a little too much, the fire was perhaps was a little too cozy, and Holmes was perhaps sitting a little too close. He grabbed my hand to make a point and we could both feel the spark between us. My breath caught.
“You can say no,” Holmes croaked. “I would understand.”
But I could never deny Holmes or, for that matter, myself. I had never desired anyone as much as Holmes, and I honestly do not think that he had ever desired anyone but me. It was foolish, it was foolhardy, it was dangerous, it was inevitable. I kissed him and we were lost.
I was terribly guilty the next morning, of course. That, however, did not stop my actions, either that day or on subsequent visits.
Yet Holmes saw my guilt and knew, perhaps even more than I, how that pained me. He also knew the peril of our actions. But we could not stop, drawn inexorably toward each other as if we were moths seeking the other’s flame. We thus limited our visits so as to minimize the impact of the risks. Holmes was also initially circumspect with each meeting, allowing me to make the decision to continue. I could always sense his desire, but he wanted to make sure that I was a willing partner and not coerced out of a sense of duty. I can say, although I am conflicted as to whether it should be with pride or with shame, that I never denied him.
We never spent more than a few months apart (although we did not dare to meet more often than that). But the past two years – the time we had been separated by Holmes’ ‘stunt’ (as he had called it) in America – seemed to leave us both desperate with desire and need.
We found the bedroom through a door on the other side of the sitting room, and fell onto the hotel bed. We pulled at each other’s clothes, and exchanged hard, frantic kisses. Holmes’ ridiculous goatee rubbed against me, feeling both abrasive yet strangely erotic.
By the time we lay against each other, naked, skin-to-skin, I felt ready to explode. I forced myself to take a deep breath and saw that Holmes did the same. Our eyes met and I could see strong desire mirrored in his depths. I drew him to me for another kiss, slightly calmer, and held him close.
Eventually I disengaged from his grasp, putting my finger to his lips. “Wait here a moment,” I breathed. I got up and made my way into the sitting room, retrieving my discarded medical bag and rummaging inside it until I found the cream I carried. I walked back into the bedroom; Holmes eyes went wide when he saw what I brought.
I handed the tin to him and then lay back on the bed, face down, in an obvious invitation. I heard Holmes’ breath catch and I understood why, for this was an unusual position for me to take. Yet I needed him, needed to know that he desired me, that he still longed for me after all this time.
He opened the tin and began to prepare me. I panted heavily in both desire and tension. He finished with me and I could sense him preparing himself.
“Turn over,” he whispered to me. “I need to see your face.”
He pressed himself into me, a slow, steady pressure, until he was fully embedded. I gave a gentle moan and rose up to meet him.
Holmes thrust, biting my neck and pulling me toward him. “Mine,” he said roughly in my ear and then kissed me there. “You are mine, John Watson.”
I cried out and pulled him further into me, meeting his every thrust. “Yes, yes,” I whimpered brokenly. “I am yours.”
This is what I longed for; this is what I craved – to know, utterly and completely, that I belonged to Sherlock Holmes.
Our passions reached their inevitable climax and we lay together, entwined and utterly spent.
“I’ve missed you, Watson,” said Holmes, his voice gravelly and barely above a whisper.
I did not reply, but drew him to me for a gentle kiss, then laid his head upon my chest. The events of the day must have been more exhausting for us than we had imagined, and we fell asleep in each other’s arms.
It was quite late when I awoke or, more precisely, quite early the next morning. The bed was empty. I found Holmes in the bathing room, attending to his toilet and shaving off that horrible goatee which ill suited him.
I laughed delightedly and embraced him from behind, kissing his neck gently, and then the side of his face. I could taste the shaving soap upon his skin.
“There’s the Holmes I know,” I exclaimed, looking at our reflection in the mirror. Our eyes met in that looking glass.
“Along with his ever trusted Watson,” he added, giving me one of his rare, genuine smiles. He washed the soap off his face and toweled it dry, then turned to me with a gleam clearly in his eyes.
I kissed his chin, savoring its smoothness.
He met my lips with his own, and we soon found ourselves back in the bedroom. Our lovemaking that morning was slow and gentle, in contrast with the previous night’s wild passions, and left us both sated and content.
Holmes had breakfast served in our room later that morning and gave a quick smile at my quizzical look. “The government is picking up the tab, my dear Watson, and so I shall allow myself a well-deserved splurge after an accomplished mission.”
At the mention of Holmes’ task, I frowned slightly, my thoughts turning to darker current affairs. “You think war is inevitable,” said I, more a statement than a question.
“Yes. In fact it has already begun.”
I nodded. “Then I shall contact my old service and offer my aid.”
Holmes lifted his head to stare at me, his expression utterly aghast. “What? Watson, are you crazed? You are far too old, it is far too dangerous, you cannot—”
He broke off as I lifted my hand for silence. “Men are always injured in wars, Holmes, and there is always need for doctors. You are correct that I am too old to serve at the front lines, but that does not mean that my skills would not be useful elsewhere. The injured, those who are lucky, do return back to England.”
“What if you sign up and you are sent to the fighting? What would you do then?”
“I would serve my country proudly, Holmes, and mend my men as best I could.”
“You cannot know what it would be like, Watson. The danger, the horror—”
“Holmes, of the two of us, I believe that I have the clearest idea of what warfare actually entails.”
He leaned back in his chair and examined my face. I believe that he was weighing my resolve.
“Yet you would still go?” he asked quietly.
“Holmes, you cannot tell me that you will not be busy during this war, serving you country to the best of your skills.”
“Of course I will, but—”
“And you cannot tell me that it will not be dangerous.”
“Yes, but my talents will be necessary, of use, and—”
“It is the same for me, Holmes. I will use my talents to the best advantage of the country.”
He looked at me in silence for a few moments, his face of conflict of horror and respect. “I do not wish you to be hurt,” he finally rasped.
“Nor do I. I also believe that I have said the same to you on numerous occasions.”
“Yes, but that is different.”
“In what way?”
“It is you that is at risk. That is… devastating… to consider.”
I grabbed his hand across the table. “I understand, Holmes. I truly do know how you feel. But we, all of us, must do what is necessary.”
He looked at our joined hands. “I do not like it, Watson.”
“It is still something I must do.”
He nodded and released me. We sat silently, picking at our breakfasts, but neither one of us felt much like eating.
Holmes stood abruptly. “I really must be going, Watson. There are people I must contact with my reports.”
I stood as well. “I understand, Holmes. There are contacts I must make as well.”
“Yes, well then.” He turned and would not face me.
I did not wish to part like this, but I knew of no way to salvage the situation. “Good-bye, Holmes,” I whispered brokenly, grabbing my medical bag and moving toward the door.
“No. No, no, no. You cannot leave like this, Watson.” He hurried after me and pulled me into a fierce embrace.
I held him just as tightly.
“Promise me you’ll come back to me,” he whispered.
“Holmes, I do not know—”
“No. You made me make this vow to you when I left for America, and I was far more cautious than I would have been otherwise. I took much greater care, as you knew I would. Promise me, Watson.”
He held me at arms length and looked directly into my eyes. I could see his emotions, usually so carefully concealed, plainly evident on his face.
“I promise I will come back to you,” I said, very quietly. I leaned in for a kiss, knowing that he would not deny me. This kiss had all the desperation as the ones last night, but instead of desperate passion, this one held desperate fear. Perhaps it also held desperate love.
We broke apart and I gently traced his cheek. “I will see you after the war, Sherlock Holmes.”
“You had better, Dr. John H. Watson.”
I turned from him and walked out the door.