The damp chill of an English autumn had settled on the city, and the fog threatened to curl through the very windowpanes on that grey, dull afternoon. I could not settle, for the exertions of the previous day--many hours spent tracing one of Holmes's malefactors through the London streets on foot--had left me weary and sore. I paced backwards and forwards in our rooms, hoping to ease the stiffness in my body and the melancholy in my heart.
Holmes threw down the book he was reading and looked up at me. The dark languor which so often follows a case had not yet descended on him; he was relaxed and in a good mood. The case had no peculiar features and required no great intuitive feats on his part, but it had been an energetic one and he had brought it to a satisfactory and profitable conclusion.
'Come now, Watson, you pace the room like a man possessed.'
I must admit that my temper was not improved by my own discomfort, with all the reminders that entailed, and the sight of Holmes in one of his better moods.
'Well, Holmes, I am sure your superior intellect can tell what is wrong better than I can. Pray, enlighten me.'
He frowned then at the edge of bitterness to my words, and pulled himself to sit upright on the sofa.
'Your slight hobble and your occasional grimaces show that you are in some pain.'
'One hardly needs to be a consulting detective to deduce that,' I retorted.
'Of course not.' His frown deepened a little as he watched me. 'I am sorry. I do tend to forget when the trail is hot that your legs are not so long and robust as mine.'
'I can manage,' I said shortly. 'I am not a complete invalid.'
'No, you are not,' Holmes said with a smile. 'Although I do think that this agency could run to the cost of a Turkish bath to ease your limbs after our more vigorous adventures.'
I knew that he was trying to jolly me back to good humour, but I had already slipped into a black mood. These do not strike me often, but I am not easily drawn forth when they do occur, and the source of my physical pain was guaranteed to keep me depressed.
Holmes laced his hands together behind his head and gave me another lazy smile, his grey eyes twinkling with mischief.
'I do hope an aching war wound is your only problem. I know that you were shot through the leg, but you have been reaching unconsciously for parts a little higher up as you walk. You haven't been careless enough to incur damage in a different form of warfare, have you, Watson?'
Holmes's suggestive smirk was more than I could take, especially as his gibe went so close to the bone. This time, my temper exploded.
'How dare you! How dare you be so impudent! As if I would... As if I could...' I began to stutter with fury, and I could feel a red flush of anger spreading across my face.
Holmes was on his feet in an instant, his face now fallen and apologetic. 'Watson, Watson, I am sorry! My dear chap, you know that my sense of humour is a twisted one, I did not mean to suggest anything by my words...'
He reached out a hand towards me, but I turned from him and limped away. My wound was aching and throbbing now, and I clenched a fist against it and screwed up my face in pain and anguish. I heard the deadness in my voice as I replied to him. 'Your apology is accepted, Holmes. Just leave it.'
As I walked away I felt his strong grip on my shoulder, turning me to face him. His gaze flicked down to my clenched fist, and he gasped. I had always thought it something of a literary conceit to say that the blood drained from someone's face, but Holmes went so instantly ashen that the phrase is an apt one.
'Watson,' he croaked, then licked his thin colourless lips. His hand dropped from my shoulder. 'Watson. You were not shot in the leg, were you?'
I should have known that his observant mind would discover my secret eventually. 'The bullet lodged in my thigh, but, yes, you are right in what you are thinking.'
He turned away from me at that moment, which sent an unexpected stab of hurt through my heart. I was slightly mollified when I saw Holmes reach for the brandy decanter and pour two large glasses with a not entirely steady hand. That did surprise me a little, given that almost nothing disturbs Holmes, but I suppose that no man can contemplate my injuries with complete equanimity.
His long, nervous fingers wrapped my hand around the glass, then grasped at my elbow and led me to my chair. Once he had pressed me into my seat he took up a position opposite me and drank off a large draught of his brandy. I did the same, welcoming the fire searing down my gullet as a distraction from the burning humiliation in my face.
'Tell me,' Holmes said.
'It is as you have deduced. One shot shattered my shoulder, another bullet passed through my groin and into my leg.'
'How bad?' His face was grave but impassive. I was most relieved to see no pity. I do not think I could have coped with that.
I took in a deep breath to steady myself. I was about to tell him things which I had told to no-one but my own physician.
'Well, I shall never father children, and I'm not sure that I could...' I grew even redder with shame and sought to find the right words. 'Whether I could manage the act in any case,' I whispered.
I could not meet his gaze any longer, and I looked into the rich amber liquid in the glass in my hand. The glass was trembling, and I feared that I would shatter the delicate crystal as I gripped it tightly enough to get the alcohol into my mouth without spilling it everywhere.
Holmes sat in silence for some time, contemplating his own tumbler. 'I had wondered why a man of your temperament has spent so long sharing my irregular bachelor life, when you have so much obvious regard for the fair sex and family life.'
'What woman would possibly want me? In my condition?'
'I think you underestimate womankind, Watson.' I gave a loud and bitter laugh at that statement, coming from Holmes the misogynist, and he acknowledged my laughter with a wry smile. 'You know what I mean. There are many who would see your incapacity as a noble sacrifice for Queen and Country, and love you all the more for it. And there are others who like nothing more than a challenge.'
'You'll forgive me if I prefer not to be the object of some idealistic young lady's idea of patriotic duty. In any case, how can I court a woman in good conscience? Is there a proper etiquette for asking a lady to marry half a man, one who can never give her children or even a normal married life? At what point in an engagement does one say, "Don't be afraid, my love, our wedding night shall hold no terrors for you, and no pleasure, either," and explain to her exactly why?'
Holmes flew from his seat and knelt before me on the floor. His face was hard and fierce as he grasped my wrist tightly in one hand and hissed, 'Never say that, never! You are as good and stout a fellow as I have ever met, a manly soul if I ever knew one. You are not half a man, not even by the most trivial definition.'
'Trivial!' I cried, and pulled my hand sharply from his grasp. 'Trivial! I should have known that you could not understand, not you with your cold and passionless heart... Do you know what you waste, Holmes? You could do everything that I yearn to do and have everything that I yearn to have, but you throw it away carelessly--you can charm and woo when it suits you, take on a guise and entice some unfortunate woman into walking out with you or spilling her heart to you, then walk away when the case is finished. Do you know what I would give to be in your position? All that pleasure and happiness within your grasp, and you always walk away?'
I fear that I had become somewhat emotional by this point, and I was almost screaming at him in my pain and frustration. To add even further to my sense of shame, I could feel hot tears welling up in my eyes, and I raised my hand to my face to dash them away before they could course down my cheeks.
His voice was soft and gentle when he spoke again. 'Life is cruel, my dear chap, life is very cruel. You are right. I have never been moved with passion for a woman, and I have never taken any particular pleasure in the things I must sometimes do in the cause of my clients.'
He took hold of my hand again, much more gently this time, and pulled it from my eyes. His strong fingers massaged at my palm and my knuckles in a curiously settling gesture, while his other hand crept to grasp at my shoulder. I gave a soft and embarrassing whimper as his fingers unwittingly found my other old and tender injury.
'It's not fair,' I heard myself whining like a child, 'it's not fair!' How could I make him understand my frustration, when he himself had not the slightest interest in the things I most craved?
His hand slipped down to caress my upper arm with a soft touch. He is something of a marvel, Holmes; one minute cold and casually indifferent, the other gentle and compassionate. Mercurial does not begin to describe it.
'No,' he said, 'it is not.' I looked up at him again, and his cool grey eyes were full of kindness and friendship. That pushed me over the edge, and the tears I had been struggling to choke down spilled over.
'Who could love this wreck of a man, Holmes?' I sobbed. 'Who could possibly want me?'
He began to speak again, but I could not bear to hear any more. I stood up sharply and almost tumbled Holmes to the floor in my haste to flee, then bolted for the safety of my bedroom. I slammed the door closed behind me, threw myself on to the bed, and stifled my wracking sobs in the pillows.
I do not know how long I had lain there before I heard the tentative knock at my door. It must have been some time, for I had cried myself out and my tear-swollen eyes had returned to normal. I knew it could only be Holmes, but I did not answer him. Clearly he took this as acquiescence, for the door opened and he stepped to the end of my bed. I rolled on to my back to watch him, but I did not get up.
He had cast off his coat since I last saw him, and stood before me in waistcoat, shirt-sleeves, and loosened tie. There was a slight flush across his cheeks and the faintest bleariness around the eyes which suggested to me that he had finished his brandy and had another large glassful. Yet he did not appear drunk.
'May I ask you one other intimate question?'
I gave a wry laugh. I did not see how it could do any harm, not with the depths of my shame already exposed to him. 'Why not?'
'Can you...' He flushed a little more with discomfiture, which somehow made me feel a little better. 'Can you still reach a state of physical arousal?'
'Yes, for what it's worth--which isn't much. I haven't lost quite everything.'
'Ah, Watson, where there's life there's hope.' He gave me a gentle smile then, and moved to sit next to me on the bed. I could see from the look of controlled tension on his face that he had set some plan of action in train, and I wondered what he thought he could possibly do for me.
'You will forgive me if I find trite clichés of little comfort,' I said.
'And I would not expect you to.' He settled himself more comfortably on the bed, and extended a hand to lay on my sleeve. His friendly touch was of far more solace to me than anything he might say.
'You are wrong about two things, you know,' he said conversationally. 'Completely wrong.'
'Oh?' I said, slightly amused by Holmes's method of cheering me up by pointing out the errors of my ways. 'And what are they?'
He did not answer me for a moment, but turned his head to stare into space. He seemed to come to some decision, for he gave the faintest of nods then turned back to fix me with his steely, unwavering gaze.
'Do you trust me, Watson? I mean, really trust me, unconditionally? Even to the extent of letting my judgement override yours on a matter of great import?'
I must admit that his words chilled me a little. We had broken the law together on occasion, in pursuit of justice, and I do not recall that he ever required such a heartfelt commitment from me then.
'Yes, I do,' I replied, knowing that I could trust his judgement even over my own. 'I trust you implicitly.'
He let out a deep breath. 'And you know that I would never do anything to hurt you or harm you.'
'Of course not!' I expostulated, worried about where this conversation was leading.
'Then I shall tell you what your two mistakes are.' His grip on my arm tightened, and his eyes bored into me. 'You are still a very desirable man, John Watson, and you need not be completely deprived of sexual pleasure.'
I felt the colour draining from my own face as I absorbed the import and significance of his words and his expression. With a moment of clarity, I realised that Holmes should have been asking himself if he trusted me, rather than if I trusted him.
'Yes,' he said with a humourless smile, watching my face, 'you are not the only one to have been keeping secrets. There is a reason why I take little pleasure on those occasions when my work forces me into amorous dalliances with women.'
'Holmes,' I said, but then could think of nothing else to say. I suppose, knowing what I did of the man, it should not have come as a complete surprise, but even so... 'Holmes...' I stuttered again, uselessly.
'Say nothing, my dear chap,' he said, and laid a quieting finger across my lips. He was leaning over me now as I lay back on the bed, stunned and confused. 'I am a strange fellow, I confess, but I am certain that I am not the only soul on this earth who can find you attractive, even knowing what I now know.'
'Holmes, please,' I said as he withdrew his hand from my mouth, 'I'm very flattered, I am, but...'
'I know, I know. My way is not your way. But I had to tell you. I had vowed to myself never to burden you with my sentiments, and Lord knows I have tried to deny them to myself as well. But I could not see you in such pain and not tell you.'
I searched his face for signs of pity or obligation, but could see none. I knew that I would only see them if he wished me to--after all, I had never seen any sign of his twisted sexual tastes--but it seemed totally out of character for Holmes to make such an emotional declaration without meaning it. He is not a man for false words or flattery.
It was only after a few seconds that I realised he was still touching me, gripping me by the arm with those nervous hands of his. He followed my gaze downwards, then looked back into my eyes. A hint of vulnerability appeared in his expression.
'My touch revolts you?'
'No,' I said, answering truthfully. I thought of the numerous times we had touched before, when I had never sensed anything but friendship. There was nothing predatory about him now, either. It was something of a surprise to find that I did not mind very much at all.
'Then, will you trust me?' he asked in a voice which was beginning to quaver. 'Will you trust me to show you that your life as a man is not over?'
That sent cold tendrils through me. When I had avowed my trust in him, I had not imagined that he had illegal perversions on his mind, or things that went so far against my nature. But he had asked me to trust his judgement, and his judgement is very rarely wrong.
He must have seen the hesitation in my face, because he let go of my arm and moved his hand to stroke gently at my cheek. His touch was warm and soothing, and I accepted it.
'I swear to you, John, that I shall do nothing with you that a woman could not do, if she were sufficiently bold and imaginative and... loving.' His fingers brushed against the corner of my moustache. 'Please, let me do this for you.'
I did wonder whether Holmes was really offering to do this for me or for himself, but I put the thought aside as unworthy. That left the rather more difficult problem of whether I was willing to accept a man's intimate touch on my body. A large part of me screamed with revulsion, but another part craved what Holmes was offering, tenderness and arousal and satisfaction. I did not think that he would offer unless he was sure that he could deliver, if only because he hates to fail at anything.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then let it out and looked at him. His face was sincere and caring, and I have never been able to deny Holmes anything on those rare occasions when he shows his full regard for me. And I do trust him. I began to unbutton my waistcoat with shaking fingers.
'Watson,' he breathed, then bent his head towards the hand which stroked my face.
'No!' I shouted, and jerked away from him, suddenly frightened and disturbed by the thought of such intimacy with one of my own sex.
'I'm sorry,' he said with true feeling as he too pulled away, 'I did not think, I'm sorry...'
He stood up from the bed and I realised that if he left now, I would never know what it was that he might be able to do for me. I shot out my arm and grabbed him by the sleeve.
'Don't go,' I babbled, 'you just startled me, that's all, I'm not used to...' To reinforce my point, I started to undress myself with more speed, wrenching at my shirt-front with my free hand.
Holmes sat down again and grasped both of my hands between his own, which were shaking as much as mine. He pulled my hands away from my clothes and began to undress me himself, slowly and with rather more respect for the buttons. I sank back on the bed and let him do it, grateful that he had taken the lead.
I had to sit up to let him divest me of my upper garments, and as I did so he traced gentle fingers over the ugly scar on my shoulder. I did not flinch this time when he bent his lips to kiss the puckered skin, although I was relieved that he did not again try to kiss me on the face or mouth.
He laid me back down with gentle hands, and asked a mute question with his eyes as his hands drifted down my naked chest and stomach towards my trousers.
'Not yet,' I whispered, and his hand stopped in its tracks. 'You too,' I said, and gestured towards his own upper body. Somehow, I found the thought of being handled by him as he sat there in collar and tie just far too clinical. He nodded, and quickly and methodically stripped himself bare to the waist, tossing his discarded clothes to the floor with abandon. I had seen his long lean frame naked like this before, but never in such a light or with such a purpose.
He turned his attentions back to me, and I did not resist as his fingers flickered over my trouser flies. I had kicked off my shoes when I first took to my bed, so I had only to raise my hips to allow him to tug off my trousers and then my stockings. Now only my long underwear remained between Holmes and my shame.
Holmes did not hurry to complete the undressing, but paused once again to knead and stroke at my legs through the thin woollen fabric. I looked down at him and the sight of his sharp, indisputably masculine profile roving over me, and the faintest hint of a bald spot on his crown, made me shudder once again.
He pulled away from me once again and regarded my face for a moment. 'You find it difficult to forget that I'm a man, don't you?' he said with a trace of amusement.
'I should have to be very forgetful indeed to achieve that, should I not?'
That made him laugh. 'Would you let me show you a way to help you?' I did not demur, so he levered himself off the bed and searched in the pile of discarded clothes on the floor.
'Aha!' he cried as he found what he was looking for, and stood up brandishing his tie. He has fine taste in clothes, Holmes, when he can be bothered, and the item in his hand was made of the finest soft dove-grey silk.
He sat beside me at the head of the bed and stretched the tie out in his hands. I began to worry a little more, wondering just how long the list of Holmes's perversions was. 'Lift your head, Watson,' he said, and I obeyed dumbly. He fastened the tie around my head as a blindfold, tying a secure but not-too-tight knot behind me.
'Now lie back,' he whispered, 'and imagine that the hands touching you belong to the sweetest, prettiest, most wanton thing in the whole world.'
I did as he suggested, and found the blindfold to be curiously liberating. I was free to imagine whomsoever I wished as his fingers swept down my body, curling through my chest hair, teasing at my nipples until they hardened and I began to gasp with the delicious sensation, stroking across my belly and downwards into the dark hair growing up from my groin. His tongue followed behind his hands, licking and sucking at my tingling nipples and swirling across my sensitive places until I groaned with the pleasure of it.
The necktie also smelt of Holmes, such a familiar friendly smell that I could not but be reassured by it. I needed that reassurance when his hands sought out the buttons on my undergarments. The blindfold had one other major advantage--I would not be able to see the horror and revulsion on Holmes's face when he saw the shattered and scarred remains of my manhood.
His hands encouraged me to lift my hips from the bed again, and I felt the material slide down my thighs and then bunch around my calves before Holmes pulled the underwear free from my feet. There was a soft rustle as it hit the floor. I tensed and stiffened on the bed, waiting for his reaction to the sight of my marred naked body.
There was silence for what seemed like forever, although in reality it was only a few seconds.
'Oh, Watson,' he whispered, tremulous with emotion. 'My dear, dear Watson.'
I had become so nervous that I almost jumped from the bed when his fingertips drifted around the shallow crater of a scar in my leg, from which the offending bullet had been extracted. I relaxed a little as his lips followed his fingers and I felt his mouth tracing a lazy arousing path up the soft skin of my inner thigh. His hand stretched out to follow a similar path up the other side, and I instinctively parted my legs for him. I sighed as his touch crept inexorably towards my groin, and I felt the first stirrings of movement in my scarred flesh.
His breath was hot and rousing against my skin as he kissed his way upwards, and I tensed once again as I felt his lips against the most unmanning of my wounds. 'Hush,' he murmured as I tried to pull away from him in shame and disgust at my condition. I felt his strong hands on my hips, holding me still while he kissed and nuzzled and stroked at the ruins of my body.
The heat of his mouth was replaced by a cool dampness, and it took me a moment to figure out that the sensation was that of his tongue tracing wet trails across my loins. The contrast of hot tongue and cool air was stimulating, and I bit back a little cry as his tongue lapped at the pitiful remains of my member.
'I am not hurting you, am I?' he asked, keeping his voice pitched soft and even higher than normal. Dear Holmes, how he tried to pretend for me that he was not himself. I marvelled that he could bear to touch me at all, let alone kiss such gross disfigurement.
'No,' I whispered back, 'it doesn't hurt.' This was not entirely true; the degree of scarring caused me some discomfort when I became aroused and enlarged, but I did not want him to stop what he was doing. If anything, a small amount of pain put an even sharper edge on my excitement.
'Good,' he murmured, and then did a most extraordinary thing. His tongue laved over me again, seeking out the sensitive underside, and then his lips slid down to enclose my member fully in his warm, wet mouth. That alone sent waves of sensation and arousal coursing through me, but as he began to suck at me gently while his tongue continued to lick and tease, I feared that I might explode from the sheer intensity of it all.
I forgot all my fantasies at that moment and reached down my body, seeking Holmes and cradling his brilliant wicked head in my hands. I ran my fingers through his hair and across his wiry shoulders, feeling his warmth and strength as his clever mouth gave me those sensations I had so craved.
He moaned around me as my fingers traced the nape of his neck, and the effects of the vibration made me jerk my hips sharply upwards. He began then to suck me more energetically, working at me more intensely with his lips and his tongue, coaxing me towards a climax. His actions made me thicker and harder with each bob of his head, until I reached the point where my pain began to diminish my undeniable pleasure. I felt my erection begin to fade a little in reaction.
'Stop,' I cried breathlessly, 'Holmes, please stop.' He pulled away from me in an instant, and I could hear him panting.
'I can't,' I groaned, 'it hurts too much.' I was frustrated beyond belief that he had brought me so close to fulfilment, only to find so near the end that I was, as I had feared, inadequate for the task. The tears began to well up in my eyes again, and I was glad for the blindfold. I hoped that he would read the shuddering gulps in my chest as a mere shortness of breath.
His hands stroked my legs and my belly, skirting around my painfully swollen and sensitive groin. His touch was calming and gentle, and I began to get control of myself again.
Holmes spoke in a low voice. 'There are other ways, you know, if you are prepared to try something a little... unconventional.'
I was so desperate for release and for proof that I still retained some of my manliness that I believe I would have tried anything he suggested, no matter how depraved or bizarre. 'Yes,' I pleaded, 'yes!'
His hands stroked at me for a moment more, then I let out a small whimper of deprivation as I felt him get up from the bed. Once again I heard him rustling through the clothes on the floor, and his soft murmur of pleasure when he had found what he was looking for. I felt the mattress sag as he sat down next to me.
'Now, my dear chap,' he said, 'I want you to roll over.' I felt not a little consternation at this request, knowing his proclivities, but he had told me earlier that he would not use me in that way. I rolled over, feeling his capable hands guiding my body as he stopped me from falling out of the narrow bed.
Once I was on my stomach he positioned me to his satisfaction, thrusting a couple of thick pillows under my hips so that my buttocks rose up into the air. I was relieved to feel the pressure taken off my groin, as my tender half-erect member had been pressing painfully into the mattress. Holmes's hands massaged my lower back, soothing me into relaxation with his strong nimble fingers. I pillowed my still-blindfolded head on my arms and enjoyed his sensuous touch.
'Trust me, John,' he whispered. 'I shan't hurt you, but you must put yourself in my hands and trust me.'
'Yes,' I whispered back, 'I trust you.'
He leaned over then and planted a soft, warm kiss on the back of my neck, and I found that I welcomed it. His fingers traced a path down the full length of my spine, then converged in the cleft between my buttocks. He skimmed ever downwards, sliding between the cheeks and onwards to the hotness between my thighs, and then encouraging me to part my legs with the gentle pressure of his hands.
I lay open to him, nervous but mindful of his request to give him my total trust. His hands left my body and I heard a faint chink, then one hand returned to knead gently at my buttocks and to separate the cheeks even further.
'I'm going to touch you now,' he murmured, and I could not hold back a sharp intake of breath as I felt his fingers stroke at the puckered flesh of my anus. They were slightly cold and slippery, and I could not stop myself tensing as they circled gently round and round.
'Relax,' Holmes whispered, 'trust me. It won't hurt if you can relax.' His fingers continued to brush and circle as he spoke, and his other hand returned to stroking my rigid back. He did not attempt to press into me just then, but rather concentrated on smoothing the lubricant into my skin.
Once my initial shock had passed, I found that his touch on those forbidden regions was actually rather arousing. I moaned and pressed back against him a little, trying by a supreme effort of will to slacken my rebelliously clenched muscles.
'Good,' he breathed, and swiped another generous amount of the slippery ointment on to his fingers. 'Oh, Watson, good,' he repeated as one finger breached my defences and slipped a short distance inside me. It hurt a little and I tightened around him reflexively, but I breathed out and tried to loosen myself. He probed again, and this time he was able to reach right into me.
I groaned with pleasure as he began to stroke me inside, stimulating me as he slid in and out in a thoroughly arousing rhythm. My muscles eased and slackened as he worked me, and before long he worked a second long thin finger inside. This time, the spasms and the discomfort passed more quickly into unalloyed pleasure as he stretched me wider.
My pleasure turned to exquisite ecstasy when Holmes's questing fingers rubbed hard against the wall of my rectum and found the sensitive prostate which nestled beyond. I had not before appreciated just how magnificent this could feel, and I arched my back and jerked up against his hand with a cry as his touch sent a crashing wave of desire through me.
'Yes,' I sobbed to him, 'oh, yes!' Holmes chuckled in satisfaction and worked me harder, making me cry out and squirm with each stroke of his fingers. I pulled up my knees so that I knelt and pointed my backside high into the air, letting him penetrate me deeper with each gliding thrust of his hand.
I knew there would be a limit to how much stimulation I could sustain, especially as I had been taken to the brink of climax once already. My member stiffened and surged beneath me again, although any suggestion of pain was washed away by the sheer overwhelming gratification I was experiencing. I bucked and writhed against him in my abandon as he drove me ever higher.
He must have realised that I was near my release, for his other hand slipped around my body and wrapped what was left of my genitals in his palm. He did not squeeze me tight or work me fast, but caressed me gently in time with the strokes of his fingers inside me. All sensation and arousal in my body flowed to the spots being so exquisitely tormented by Holmes's clever skilful touch.
I heard myself scream out as my climax crashed and shuddered through me. I tightened in waves around the fingers inside me as I came, stimulating myself even further and stretching out my pleasure, and I even felt a miserable few drops of ejaculate leak forth from my damaged flesh as I thrust uncontrollably into Holmes's encompassing hand.
The intensity of the experience left me feeling so shattered that I collapsed on to the bed as soon as my orgasm had passed, and I had barely enough energy left for a wince as I crushed my sated flesh beneath my body. I gasped aloud as Holmes's fingers slipped from me, and I heard his deep satisfied sigh over the sound of my own harsh, ragged breathing.
I raised my trembling hands to my face, and tugged the blindfold free from my eyes before I rolled over to face him. I felt almost giddy with happiness and satisfaction and gratitude as I lay back and looked at him, and I rather fear that I must have had a very silly smile spread across my face, for Holmes burst out laughing as soon as I looked at him.
'See, Watson,' he said as he wiped his fastidious hands clean on a handkerchief, 'I was right on both counts.' He knelt still between my legs, and I could see that he had certainly not lied about his desire for me. A prominent erection pushed out the front of his trousers and his normally pale cheeks were flushed. He watched me as I swept my gaze over him, taking in the signs of his arousal.
'I am sorry,' he said softly, all traces of humour passing from his face, 'I could not restrain my... admiration, not with your beautiful body in my hands. I did not mean to disgust you.' He turned away from me slightly and made as if to climb down from the bed. 'I'll go now, leave you to...'
'No,' I said, quietly but firmly. 'I don't want you to go, not yet.' He turned back to me with a look of uncertainty in his eyes, and I felt a great wave of tenderness wash through me. Holmes had taken a great risk for me; for all he knew, I would storm from the house in outrage and never come back when he told me of his true nature. He had also just given me a very precious gift, that of hope.
I pushed myself upright to sit in front of him, and extended a tentative hand to the trousers that had begun to sag and fall away from his slim hips. He watched me hungrily as my fingers began to undo the buttons of his flies.
'Watson,' he said hoarsely, stilling my hands for a moment and searching my face as the trousers fell around his knees. 'You don't have to do this.'
'I know,' I replied, 'and I cannot promise to...' I hesitated and looked for the right words, 'give you the pleasure you deserve. But, please, let me give you something.'
He nodded then, and gave me a blinding smile of delight. He divested himself of all his garments and rejoined me on the bed, and I took a moment to look over his naked rangy body with an aesthetic eye. My tastes incline to the soft round flesh of women, not the muscular hardness of men, but even I could see that he has a wonderful body.
I climbed out of the bed and walked to the foot, then got back up behind Holmes. He turned his head to watch me, but did not move or speak as I shuffled close behind him. Slowly, I pulled him back so that he knelt slightly splay-legged and rested back against my more solid torso. I pressed my chest to his back and took him in a tight embrace and held him for a moment, feeling the inflation and deflation of his ribs as he breathed deeply and trembled with unsatisfied desire.
I let my right hand drift downwards across his smooth alabaster skin, tracing over the taut flat musculature of his stomach, until I found the straining evidence of his own arousal and tentatively closed my hand around its solid heat. He gasped aloud, and I felt his whole body tense against mine as I began to stroke him slowly and lovingly.
As I leaned my face against his narrow back and felt him move with me, I could almost imagine that I was pleasuring my old, whole self. His member was not dissimilar in size and shape to my own, as it had been before the war, and as I stroked and squeezed him in ways which had once given me delight he moaned and pulsed under my touch.
My other hand roved across his chest, seeking out the proud hard nipples and tweaking them, which made him gasp and writhe even more. I had never seen Holmes in such a state of abandon--his head was thrown back and his lips were parted in pleasure, and each time I pumped him harder and faster he gave another soft groan. I felt my own excitement mounting again in empathy with Holmes's obvious pleasure.
I shifted my position so that I could rest my chin on his shoulder and look downwards to watch my handiwork, to see that proud strong phallus thrusting into my fist as I stroked and pumped him into ecstasy. It was not long at all until Holmes's body, as tense and taut as a bowstring, was arched back against me while he keened softly in my ear. I watched fascinated as he gave one final shuddering cry and spurted thick streams of semen across the bed in a glistening arc, then I massaged him gently as his emissions slowed and ceased.
I let go of him as his orgasm receded, but wrapped my arms back around his heaving chest and held him close to me until his breathing returned to normal. I could still feel his pounding heartbeat beneath the fragile shell of his ribs as he pulled free of my embrace and turned to face me.
'John,' he whispered with genuine tenderness, but he could not hide the wistful look which passed across his face. I do believe that at that moment the romantic in me wished that I could change my own nature so that we might preserve our happiness forever, but I knew in my heart of hearts that this was to be an experience that could--and should--be shared only once.
Nevertheless, I did feel that I owed Holmes one last thing in return for his love and understanding. I leaned forward and kissed him softly on the lips. He stiffened against me for a second, but then his mouth softened and he returned my kiss with a gentle passion.
It did not last long before he broke off with a sigh, and pulled away from me. 'I really must go now. Mrs Hudson will be here shortly with our supper.' He got dressed quickly and without fuss, and closed the door quietly behind him as he walked away.
I did not rise from the bed, but fell back and sank quickly into an exhausted sleep. The strain of the previous day and that emotional afternoon had left me tired, and it was mid-evening before I woke again. I could hear the soft strains of Holmes's violin drifting into the room as I stirred, and as I opened my bleary eyes they fell upon a folded note propped on my bedside table. I could not say whether Holmes had placed it there earlier, or while I slept. I unfolded it and saw his strong, bold handwriting.
My dear Watson, it read,
I should, in all conscience, have given you this earlier this afternoon, but I fell prey to my own private weaknesses. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for my selfish actions, although I shall understand if you cannot.
You will find below the name and address of a young woman with whom I have been in contact in my professional capacity. She is a warm-hearted soul who specialises in, shall we say, comforting gentlemen with special needs such as your own. Her talents have been of assistance to at least one of my esteemed clients, and she comes highly recommended. I do hope that she may be able to demonstrate to you that at least some of your fears are unfounded, given proper encouragement and imagination.
I am, as always, your very dear friend,
'Of course, Holmes,' I whispered to myself as I put down the note. 'You are forgiven.'