by elfin

Part One - Henry Baskerville

There are, for reasons that will become obvious, two accounts of the strange and terrible events at Baskerville Hall and on the surrounding moor.

There is the one that has been under such public scrutiny for a great many months. 

And then there is this one. 

This is the unknown story, the background to the events that transpired as well as detailing certain truths.  Ironically, it is these unknowns that fully explain the reasons for the seemingly absurd risks that a casual observer might have spotted in Holmes' actions during this time.  Also explained is my apparently hostile behaviour towards my friend at one or two points in the story.

But despite that, the public that so adores reading about every aspect of his cases will never set eyes on these words.

For it is only now, and only for a handful of readers, that I am writing up my private notes on this, the most instructive of all the cases I have chronicled for my dearest friend, Sherlock Holmes.  And it is only because, in the dim light of the candle's flame as it dances over our deliciously naked forms, he asks me to.


Dr John Mortimer came to us one week before Christmas.  Up until that morning, we had planned to spend the holiday together in Baker Street, as we had once before.

The events of the case itself are well documented and even better known, and I will not recount them again.  Suffice it to say that during a late breakfast at the Northumberland Hotel, with Mortimer and his new ward, Sir Henry Baskerville, Holmes swore me to his client's side for an unknown period.

So many see Holmes as incapable of emotion, of being cold in his heart.  It is true that many of the sympathies he displays for those unfortunate souls who engage him are an act, the necessities of his chosen profession.  He has an analytical mind so delicately tuned, that the merest imbalance can lead to a total collapse of his reason.  But he is far from emotionless.

He just hides his feelings behind a mask so perfectly constructed that very few even realise that it is there.

I know, because I have seen it slip, just slightly, on several occasions.  Most of these have been while he has lain in the grip of the narcotic he relies on so heavily to alleviate... what?  I had, at the time, no idea.  Although I know now.

I had no reason to dispute his decision to send me away with Sir Henry.  Indeed, I had taken to the Canadian's company almost upon sight and had no issues with spending a couple of days with him, protecting him from whatever horrors waited on the moor.

But as Holmes bade goodbye to us outside Baker Street, as he again warned Sir Henry to take the greatest of care, I noticed something odd in his countenance.  And when he glanced at me I saw a darkness in his grey eyes the like of which I had never seen there before.

I pondered on it for the first part of our journey.  But Sir Henry's company, concerns about the deteriorating weather and the unknown peril towards which we were heading, all served to wipe such a seemingly trivial thing from my mind.

Only much later did I think back, and realise that the thing I'd seen there was fear.  I couldn't have known that when we'd been foolishly chasing that cab along Baker Street, he'd seen more of our enemy than I had.  Neither could I have known that he'd recognised the man, despite his disguise.


Baskerville Hall, as the public knows well, is a foreboding place at night.

As we approached, it loomed out of the thick moor fog like a rising fortress, injecting a chill into our hearts.  It was a chill that did not dissipate as we sat in the cold of the dining room and ate a fine dinner under the disapproving gazes of the Baskerville ancestry.

But I'm ahead of myself.  For I have missed a most important exchange.

When we arrived at the Hall, Barrymore - the butler - showed us to our rooms.  Mine was the guest suite across the landing from Sir Henry's.  It was comfortable and later, once a fire had been lit, it was warm.

After unpacking my clothes and writing implements, I dressed for dinner and went to knock on Sir Henry's door.

He is a familiar man, one who innately invites small intimacies.  Indeed, I didn't hesitate when he suggested, in an ironic tone, that I should try his bed.  It was as hard as a rock, as if the sheets were laid over a great stone slab.

"How are you ever meant to sleep on that, I wonder?" I mused, without even a fleeting thought as to what possibilities the question might entertain.

He glanced around at me, and smiled such a smile that I might have blushed.  But it was so quick and he returned his attention to the mirror and his bow tie so easily, that I imagined I had misinterpreted his expression.

I berated myself, for my wandering fantasies regarding my closest friend were beginning to seep into my every day thoughts.

He was obviously having problems with the specifics required to tie the bow around his neck, and eventually I could watch him no more.  Crossing to him, I took the ends of the fine silk strip in my fingers and performed the hardly complex manoeuvre.  When I was satisfied that he looked all the respectable Lord of the Manor that he was set to be, I smiled up at him.


The word faded. 

I had meant to step away, but the sheer hold of his eyes upon me froze me in place.  He didn't speak, but raised his hand and caressed the smooth tips of his fingers across the light stubble of my cheek.

"Do I have a chance with your heart, John?" he asked quietly, unexpectedly, his voice a little rougher, but still as gentle as I'd been hearing it all day, "or does another lay claim to it?"

How he knew what I'd kept from even Sherlock Holmes for so long was beyond me.  But so certain was he with his question that I saw no point in insulting him by lying about my nature.

"No man lays claim to it," I told him truthfully, refusing to be a coward by turning from his eyes, even as they seemed to bore into my very soul.

"So you say.  But I cannot help wondering if you desire one to."  For a moment, he held me in the barest of trances.  And then he stepped back and smiled at me with an expression of deep affection, despite having known me for no more than a matter of hours.  "Come," he exclaimed in a jovial manner his demeanour had only hinted at before, "Let us not keep the good servants waiting."

Calling it simply 'an important exchange' seems to distract from its significance.  After that, I knew Sir Henry's interest in me was not completely innocent, nor legal, for the reason I have kept my secret for all of my life was the brutal nature of the law when it came to physical love between two men.

I had thought on it for many an hour over the lingering years.  I could find nothing immoral in an attraction for a member of the same sex.  As long as both parties consented and no one was hurt, only the transparent and ill-founded fears of an ignorant society were in any danger.

Living with Holmes, then, had been a blessing.  He thought nothing of love.  His only ventures into the deconstruction of passion and desire were in line with a couple of his investigations.  Indeed, I heard him once described as 'sexless', although I know that not to be true.

He is, in fact, well sexed, as frequent visits with him to the baths, and indeed living under the same roof, had transpired to inform me.

(He reads that last over my shoulder and as he reaches for his cigarettes he laughs joyously.  What he says, I will not repeat as a part of this account.  Although I might later be persuaded by its few readers to disclose the lurid and quite arousing comment.

He has successfully derailed my train of thought.)


Over dinner, Sir Henry spoke nothing of what had occurred between us in his bedroom.

The portraits in the dining room are now famous and very well known for being such an important clue in the solution to the mystery.  But that night, sitting under them as the flames of the lamps flickered on the rough canvases and their eyes seemed to scrutinise us as we ate, we were both uncomfortable in their company.

We sat at either ends of the long table, as the places had been prepared, and we said little to one another.

Though the dinner was superb, and the wine expensive, we were both in melancholy spirits by the end of the meal, and he retired early to bed without a hint of an invitation for me to join him.

I surprised myself, I think, for being just faintly disappointed.  He was an attractive fellow.

In my time with Holmes I have done a few things that are illegal.  Deception, Breaking and Entering; small felonies that always advanced our cause and were overlooked by the police on each occasion, when they should come to know about them.

But to be caught nude with another man, to be engaged in sexual practices, was, until so very recently, a hanging offence.  Prison was the norm now, an irony that never failed to send a shudder down my spine.  For as much as I desired to feel a man's hands upon my skin, a man's hard body pressed to mine, I had absolutely no desire to be raped daily by caged criminals who had no other means of relief.

I sat at the table long after the servants had gone to bed.  I sipped the wine, looked around at the accusing stares of Sir Henry's dead relatives, and made a decision that might have been borne from the madness of family that surrounded me, or from the desperate, unfulfilled needs within me.

Taking a candle, I climbed the stairs to our rooms.  Mine was on the right, but upon reaching the landing, I turned left and crossed the narrow hall to stand outside Sir Henry's closed door.

For a few long moments, I contemplated.  He had made an advance on me, and although nothing had immediately come from it, neither had any tension been created by it.  Surely if my own advance were to be rebutted, we could still be friends?

With a trembling hand, I knocked quietly on the heavy wooden door. 

He would be sleeping, I told myself.  If he didn't wake, I wouldn't knock louder.  I would go to my own bed and forget these fanciful, deviant notions.

But the door opened upon just my second knock.

He seemed simply relieved to see me standing there.

"John!"  He swung the door wide and gestured to the ruffled sheets of the bed.  "That mattress is impossible!"  Tilting his head, the candle's flame catching in his brown eyes, he smiled a wicked smile.  "I couldn't sleep on yours, could I?"

Closing and locking my bedroom door, I set the candle down on the nightstand and regarded my new friend steadily.

"My heart may well be reserved for another," I told him, my voice quiet and low, rough with arousal, "but my body is not.  If that is enough...."

He grinned, and came to stand before me.  "It is more than enough.  I don't look to steal you from the one you are bound to, rather I crave the pleasures of your company."

Again, his fingers touched my cheek.  But instead of kissing me, which I'd imagined he would, he backed off and shed his nightgown.  I divested myself slowly of all my clothes, remaining under his warm regard as I did so.

Only when I bent to remove my underwear did I allow myself to glance at his groin.  His manhood was standing thick and proud.  It bobbed as he noted my curiosity and laughed quietly.  As if to show himself off, his slipped his hand down and palmed his phallus, holding himself out to me.

My own reaction was equally as prominent, and he beckoned for me to go to him.  I was powerless to do anything but.

When he pulled me into his embrace, his lips at last finding mine, I felt the erotic shiver of the most exquisite of pleasures.  His sculptured chest against my own, the hard nubs of his nipples pressed to my own chilled skin, the silky steel of his erection duelling with mine; all these were sensations I desired greatly.

His tongue had its fill of tasting me before he led me to the bed and we climbed in.  He rolled us so that I lay over him, and claimed first my mouth, and then the rest of me.


Part Two - Jack Stapleton

Had I known then what I know now, I'd have shot Stapleton on the moor that afternoon and never regretted it.

But despite his knowing exactly who I was, I had no idea of the fellow's name or background.

Not even when he mentioned Holmes were my suspicions aroused.

My mind, I admit, was elsewhere.  I'd woken that morning in the possessive embrace of the man I'd taken to my bed the night before.  What we'd done could certainly ruin us if the details of our encounter ever became public knowledge.  But the warmth and joy to which I'd woken was far from perverted.  It had been wonderful.

Stapleton met me on the moor, at the site of his archaeological dig, and invited me back to Merripit House to meet his sister.  He kept his initial promise not to ask about Holmes again after that first time, and we had a pleasant yet somewhat queer chat over tea.

He was a strange man.  His ego was one of the biggest I've come across and I imagined, for a moment, having he and Holmes in the same room.  He spoke of himself a lot, of his accomplishments in the field of natural archaeology and his fascination with bones, especially skulls.  He possessed much knowledge in the area of medicine and cranial studies and, although I didn't like the man, he and I shared many similar interests.

But it was his sister who caught my attention upon my arrival at the house, and also as I was leaving.  She'd mistaken me for Henry and, in the moments we had alone when I'd first met her, had begged me to return to London.  As I left, she caught me alone again at the front door and asked me to disregard her earlier pleas.

I told her that I could not.  That if Henry was in danger it was my sworn duty to protect him.  Sworn duty indeed!  Holmes had bound me to Sir Henry's side back in London and last night that bond had been deepened.

I couldn't let him come to harm.  But neither would I enjoin him to run from the place that was rightfully his home.  I would protect him, I swore to myself.


"Must we spend the night making dull conversation, John?" Henry asked when I put Stapleton's invitation to dinner to him upon my return to Baskerville Hall.  Stepping around the desk that was next to the library window, he checked that the door behind me was closed before taking my hands in his and grasping them tightly.

"I'm under no illusions.  I won't have your company for very long, but while I do have it I want to make the most of it!"

His declaration surprised me, and I felt the heat rise in my cheeks.

"We should go," I told him with little heart, "they're your nearest neighbours and I imagine it could get very lonely out here.  One day you might appreciate their company."

He sighed.  "Of course, you're right.  Accept their invitation then."  A smile returned to his lips, a sly one at that.  "It's not until Friday after all."

I spent a good deal of the afternoon recounting some of my experiences, in writing, as my first report back to Holmes in London.  All I said of Henry was that he was in fine health and enjoying exploring his new home.

But it wasn't his home that he'd spent much of his time in exploration of.  It was me.  Making it look as if his hard bed had been slept in was easy enough, even though he had not yet spent a night in it.  After retiring to bed, he would wait until the sounds of the servants ceased, and then creep across the hall to my room.  Behind the locked door, we sought intimate knowledge of one another.

He was a generous, talented and adventurous lover.  I had little experience, but made up for it by experimenting with some of the ideas my heated mind brought forth.

At night we spoke only in whispers.  Only once did he ask me who it was that kept my heart under lock and key.  I gently refused him an answer, telling he that, as he would never chance to meet the man, it was of no consequence to him.

Of course, it was on the Thursday night that we made the discovery of Barrymore at the window.   He was signalling to, he said at the time, a woman with whom he was conducting an illicit affair.  They met after dark, he told us, out in the summerhouse when his wife was asleep.  This was one of the things I wrote in my next letter to Holmes, and the one detail he positively tore strips from me for a few days after the whole case was closed.

(Even now, as I write this, I read the lines to him and he rolls his eyes heavenward.  How could I fall for such an obvious, blatant falsehood?  'And you a doctor, Watson!  Pray, tell me, what effect does the freezing temperature have on a man's sexual prowess?')


Dinner at Merripit House was an odd affair. 

Dr Mortimer and his lovely wife had also been invited, and they proved to be highly intelligent and interesting people.  Stapleton again brought Holmes' name into the conversation and asked many questions, all general things, and all of which I answered as such.  But his interest in my friend piqued my interest in him, and I know that I responded to his queries with a proprietary air, one not missed by Henry.

After dinner, I put it to the doctor that he had lied about the money Sir Charles Baskerville had left to him, and he admitted that the sum had been twice what he'd told us.  But save from adding detail in my next letter to Holmes, it seemed not to mean a great deal.

I watched out for those small clues that Holmes always observes and relays to me after the fact - those things only he seems to ever see, yet once he has pointed them out, are so very obvious.  All I really saw, however (and I didn't understand its significance until much later) was Miss Stapleton's not-so-subtle advances toward Henry.

They amused me, for all his polite smiles and laughs at her jokes, his occasional glances at me were more meaningful than any words he spoke to her.  For some reason, his indifference to her was annoying Jack Stapleton, although I couldn't for the life of me fathom why.

Mrs Mortimer was a medium, or psychic, or some such nonsense.  She claimed to have the ability to speak to the dead, and Henry, obviously, enquired whether or not she had spoken to his uncle.  When she told him that she hadn't, and asked him what it was he would like to know from Sir Charles, I could see that Henry was quite taken in.

A s�ance was hurriedly arranged around the card table in the library.  We all sat and held hands.  With three men and three women, this should have been a simple set up, but somehow Henry ensured that I sat on his other side, and thus it was my hand in his.  When we were instructed to close our eyes and wipe all earthly thoughts from our minds, he began a discreet yet incredibly erotic caress of my palm with the tips of his fingers.

My rebellious mind filled with thoughts, all of which were earthly indeed.  My body reacted the same way it had from the very first time he'd touched me, and I had to shift in my chair to relieve the painful strain in my underwear.

The absurdity then, of hearing Sir Charles' supposed words coming from Mrs Mortimer's mouth, quickly followed by the fright of the wolf, or dog, or whatever it was at the window, quite dulled my inconvenient arousal and helped me recover my wits.

Until, that is, we reached Baskerville Hall around midnight.

As I moved to the roaring fire in order to rescue my frozen hands, Henry grabbed me from behind, spun me to face him and kissed me fiercely.

I pushed him away with all my strength.  "Are you mad?!"  But the expression on his face showed me no remorse.  I lowered my voice.  "We could be caught!"

"The servants are asleep.  Who else is there to catch us?"

He had a point and made it well... still, I had hidden my whole life and was not easily persuaded that I was free to love as I pleased in what felt like such a public place, when in fact it was almost entirely private.

He smiled at me with such affection.  "Tell you what, my uncle kept some excellent old French brandy.  Would you care to join me?"

"It would be a pleasure," I accepted happily, back on known ground.

His fight with Seldon, the convict, is well recorded.  The first I heard was a crash - Henry hitting the cupboards as he was pushed to the floor of the kitchen - and grabbing my revolver from my jacket, I ran after him.

As I entered the kitchen, Henry was sitting up on the floor and Seldon was reaching for a chicken leg left out on the table.

"Stop where you are or I'll shoot," I warned him, taking my aim.

When he threw himself bodily through the window, I was more than a little shocked, and it took a moment for me to find the presence of mind to give chase.  By the time I reached the end of the dark walk, he was off over the moor.  I refused to shoot him in the back, and it seemed our night's adventures were finally at an end.  Then I saw the man on the top of the Black Tor, watching us, the moon at his back creating a silhouette.  When I pointed him out to Henry, he'd already vanished.

We went to bed an hour or so later, and took our time with one another.  I came to a slow crescendo, Henry swallowing every drop of me.  It was his name on my lips, but not his face in my mind.

I missed Holmes, and wished to see him again.


Part Three - Mr Sherlock Holmes

I spent the Saturday perusing maps of Dartmoor, and of the immediate area surrounding Baskerville Hall.  Mrs Barrymore, whom I was beginning to treasure as much as our own Mrs Hudson, brought me a light afternoon tea of home-made scones and jam and a pot of Assam.

Henry was otherwise engaged, elsewhere in the house.  He had discovered that a great deal of his time had to be devoted to understanding the costs of maintaining the Hall.

It rained mercilessly for most of the day, but lightened to a drizzle just after three, and an hour later I took it upon myself to investigate the silhouette I'd seen up on the Tor the previous night.

It was a fair climb against the moderate wind, and I was panting for breath when I eventually reached the top.

There were a couple of standing stones, some ruins of what looked like it might once have been a simple dwelling, and an outhouse of sorts.  A brick structure with a tin roof that might have been placed there to make a crude shelter.  Revolver drawn, imagining this to be the hideout of the convict Seldon, I waited with my back against the outer wall, listening for telltale sounds that would mean my quarry was inside.

But all I could hear was the wind on the moor.  Trapped in the mines - Stapleton had said - where it howled like a pained animal.

I wasn't sure if I believed him or not.

Cautiously, I stepped around the wall and into the shelter.  There were bottles, pans, signs of an extinguished fire.  I picked up a green glass bottle and sniffed the contents.  Brandy.  To give myself a little Dutch courage, I took a swig.

There was a crack of twigs somewhere away to my right, and immediately I put the bottle down and readied myself for confrontation.  I waited.  And so did he.

"Watson, it's exceedingly cold out here.  May I come inside without you shooting me?"

That beloved voice, its ironic bass and slight timbre of humour, was more familiar to me than my own.

"Holmes!"  Sheathing my revolver, I stared at him as he stepped wryly around the stone wall and grinned at me.  He was unshaven, his dark blond hair windswept and oddly free from its usual strict styling.  He wore a long, black winter coat over thick trousers, woollen waistcoat and white cotton shirt.  "Holmes... how long have you been out here?"

His expression turned to that which he used when he knew I was going to be angry with him.  I could never keep up the pretence of vexation for too long, but at the moment, I realised that I had been but a pawn in a game I knew nothing about.

He did his best to explain, tried to flatter me regarding the fine, clinical detailing of the reports I had been sending, which he'd had sent on to Grimpen from Baker Street.  But I was furious with him, and I told him so.

Still, it was so good to see him, to have him close by once again.  And then, in a flash, I saw Henry and I in bed together.  All the time, Holmes had been out here, cold and wet, with only our client's safety in his mind.

Guilt fired my anger to a new level, and I was about to turn on my best friend when we heard a blood-curdling scream.

(Holmes is reading over my shoulder yet again.  'I do wish you wouldn't embellish so, Watson.  What could possibly be blood-curdling about a mere human sound?'  I brush him off, sending him out for the evening papers so that I may be left along to continue.)

We ran down the steep hill, following the sounds of the cries that were, I swear, terrible to hear.  They were the cries of a desperate man.

To find Henry's top hat was bad enough.  When I saw what we believed at first to be his body, lying face down in the mud at the base of a shallow valley, my heart sank.  Henry may not have been the man to whom my heart and soul belonged, but still I loved him, and what we had shared meant a great deal to me.

He had been ripped to shreds and I knew that it had been the hound, the myth we'd all dismissed as nonsense. 

I obviously blamed myself, but Holmes shook his head.  "It's my fault.  In order to solve a case I've thrown away the life of my client."  There was a sadness in his voice that I'd not heard before, and it puzzled me.  As much as his expression did when he looked at me with so much sympathy in his eyes.  "I am so sorry...."

He trailed off, looking back at the body and slowly, awfully, starting to laugh.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  The fury returned, fuelled by grief, and when I spoke it was with the barest hint of hatred.  "Holmes, are you mad?"

He glanced at me, relief surely flooding him.  "Look at his hands, Watson!"  I didn't understand.  "It's Seldon!  The convict!"

"But... these are Henry's clothes...."  I closed in on the body, turning the blood-soaked hand in my fingers.  There, clear through the sticky scarlet liquid, was the tattoo of a prisoner.  Still, I couldn't believe it, and placing my hand on his shoulder I pushed him on to his back.

It was Seldon, without a doubt.

Only once before had I felt such relief, so my heart fairing sang with it.  I looked up at Holmes and got the sudden, ridiculous urge to hug him.

And so I did.

I threw myself at him like a child, wrapping my arms around him in a tight hug.  I was amazed to feel him return the embrace with the same fervour as it was given.

He held me, and he murmured, "It's all right, Watson.  I'm sure Sir Henry would not have wandered out here were you not at his side."

I can't remember him ever embracing me before.

To be so very close to him, to feel his heart pounding so near to mine, was intoxicating.  I forced myself to release him lest I make a complete fool of myself and frighten him from ever taking me into his arms again.

"I should return to the hall," I told him.  "Must you remain out here?"

"No!"  He patted my shoulder heartily.  "I will return with you, Watson.  It is time to push the issue with our adversary."


Part Four - Rivals

It was strange to have the two of them under the same roof now.  I felt as if I was in the middle of something that only I knew of.

Henry Baskerville, with whom I had shared several nights of unadulterated pleasure and no small number of very intimate secrets.  And Sherlock Holmes, the man I loved with all my heart, the man who would never know me as Henry had, but who would always have my devotion.

Holmes broke the sad news to Mrs Barrymore, leaving out the details about the hound, before Henry bade them take the night off.  We found ourselves some bread and cheese and sat around the kitchen table talking until the small hours.

Then, purporting to be exhausted after his nights out in the cold, Holmes turned in with a smile for each of us, heading up to the second guest room that the maid had prepared for him.

A few moments later, Henry and I also retired to bed.

We took our pleasure in each other slowly and, dare I say it, lovingly.  My need for him was borne on the relief I'd felt, that afternoon, at Holmes' exclamation that the shattered body belonged to Seldon, and not our ward.

And yet afterwards I lay awake for a long time thinking of Holmes.  This place, so cut off from the rest of the world, had opened up possibilities previously closed to me.  With Henry it was so easy, because eventually I would walk away from here and pick up my life in London.

Holmes was my life.  The most important person ever to know me.  Risking our friendship was unthinkable, no matter how much I might desire him.


I performed an autopsy on the unfortunate Seldon the following morning at the police mortuary in Grimpen.

It was one of the most vicious attacks I'd ever seen; his flesh torn from the bone, the network of veins and muscles hanging from the wounds.  I shivered to think that it might have been my dear Henry lying on the slab, cold and dead under my knife.

It was there, as is already known, that Holmes revealed his theories to me.  Stapleton was our man and it came as no surprise.  To discover that the lovely Miss Stapleton was, in fact, Mrs did shock me slightly.  I remembered her advances towards Henry and here I mentioned them.

"Stapleton must have quickly realised that she would be of more use to him if men looked upon her as a free woman."  Holmes chuckled to himself, and turned from me.  "How irritated he must be right now."

I might have picked up on the quiet comment, but as usual in these situations my mind was racing to pinpoint a motive.

"I can't say right now," Holmes told me when I at last asked him.  "There is something here, something eluding even me.  Something... about the name."  He paused, lost in his own chaotic thoughts, then pushed away from the edge of the slab, shaking his head.   "We must return to Baskerville Hall."

They were his last words to me until we were far onto the moor.


Part Five - The Festivities

Of all the strange events at Baskerville Hall, the festivities on the night of Christmas Eve were the most disturbing.

Henry had planned a magnificent party for that night.  He'd employed the services of a small band of actors and musicians to provide the entertainment, a generous sum of money for a sumptuous spread of food, and had stocked the cellar with expensive wine and brandy.

Holmes remained elusive for most of the morning, finding me in the kitchen around lunchtime.  He'd been about to inform me of his next move when Henry returned from gathering holly branches from the Hall's extensive grounds.

"Which do you prefer for Christmas dinner, Mr Holmes?" he asked with great cheer.  "Turkey or goose?"

"Alas, my preference is of no consequence."  I glanced at him, confused.  But Henry got there first.

"And why would that be?"  His tone was playful, but Holmes' next sentence wiped the smile from his face, and from mine.

"Because Watson and I must return to London."

Over the years, a great many of his sudden plans had come as surprises to me, and I had gone along with them as if I'd known exactly what was in his complex mind.  But this was more of a shock, and it was exceedingly difficult to keep my ignorance from showing, especially given the intimate friendship I enjoyed with Henry.

Our client was not yet out of danger, no matter what Holmes would have him believe, and my concern for his safety was great.  But there was always motive behind these plans, even if at times it was as illusive as Holmes himself.

Our host turned to us.  "When must you leave?"

"Tomorrow morning."

"Christmas Day?  There are no trains, surely?"

There was one, apparently; the milk train which left early.  Henry was obviously upset, and Holmes tried to placate him by promising that I would leave my things by way of a pledge that I would return to him.

His words 'he will return to you' had an odd quality about them.  Long ago I'd sworn myself to Holmes' side, and it was he I was eventually looking to return to, and our rooms in Baker Street.  Whatever Henry meant to me and I to him, it would always pale in comparison with what Holmes and I were to one another.  I firmly believed that.

For a brief moment, I felt as one sold into companionship against my will.

But I shook the notion from my head immediately.  It was ridiculous, and Holmes was only trying to cheer Henry up.  He assured our host that we wouldn't miss the night's festivities for the world, and that at least served to put a smile on the handsome face.


Dr Mortimer kindly arranged suitable dress for Holmes and myself.

When I joined the party to find Holmes already surveying the early arrivals, I couldn't help but stare for several long moments.  His golden waistcoat and matching bow tie set off the blond of his hair and the result was breathtaking.

I'd always considered him to be an attractive man, but there was something in his countenance that night that bordered on the sensual.

Gathering my wits about me, I put on a smile and strode over to him.

"Watson!"  He clapped my arm warmly, the contact doing very little for my composure.  "An excellent party for sure."

I could only agree.

Looking around for Henry, I saw him at the door, welcoming his guests like the perfect host.  He'd hung a sprig of mistletoe over the entrance to the ballroom, and was stealing kisses from all the women who happened, by design, to pass under it.

It made me smile to realise that he used the same public courtesies to hide his true nature, in the way that I did.  It made life so much easier, although I admit that there were times I envied Holmes his carefree attitude regarding society's opinions of him.

Turning to Holmes, I was about to question him on the reasons for our impromptu trip to London, when I heard Stapleton's unmistakable voice project into the festivities.  Before now, he had simply been another figure in this drama.  But Holmes had named him as our man, and my view of him was very much changed.

"So kind of you to invite us into your home, Sir Henry," he was saying, while all the time hanging back and letting his sister be the focus of Henry's attention.  I was drawn to watch him when our host kissed Miss Stapleton's cheek with the same chastity as he had Mrs Mortimer's.  And what I saw on his face amazed me.  He was annoyed.  But not, I thought, at Henry taking advantage, more the opposite.  That he wasn't.

Was the devil was Stapleton up to?

Glancing up, I meant to ask Holmes that very question.

That was when I saw my friend's dark expression, and realised that I'd seen that very same look before.  The afternoon I'd departed from Baker Street, and noted the darkness in Holmes' eyes.  I recognised it now.  He was afraid.

It was so incredibly unlike him to fear anything, let alone the one man he'd already unmasked as our adversary, that I couldn't help myself.  I laid my hand on his arm and asked him if he was all right.

But he didn't answer me.

I let my hand drop as Stapleton approached, and was relieved to see at least a partial mask fall into place over Holmes' initial expression.

"Mr Holmes," Stapleton reached out, took my friend's hand and shook it without any aid from Holmes himself.  "I have a confession to make.  You positively fascinate me.  For such a man as yourself to rise to the lofty heights from which you look down upon us all is indeed rare."

His words baffled me.  For scarcely has an insult ever been so thinly disguised as a complement.  Holmes said nothing, only withdrew his hand as soon as he was able without seeming to be rude.

Stapleton went on to admire my friend's skull, of all things, and to ask if he may touch it!  Of course, Holmes denied him, in the strongest possible terms and, thank the Lord, Henry's introduction of the entertainment saved us from further intercourse.

I noticed, as a man dressed as a knight welcomed in to the room possibly the ugliest Santa Claus I'd ever laid eyes on, that Holmes had moved to stand quite close to me, putting a small distance between himself and Stapleton.

He kept dark grey eyes trained on the performance, and a smile set on his lips.  I, in turn, watched his unwanted admirer, who turned his head periodically to gaze for a moment upon Holmes' face.  I did nothing to hide my distrust of him, or of his intentions toward my friend, and later on Henry would inform me that my stance was highly proprietary.

It had indeed been my intention to allow Stapleton no closer to Holmes, for something was disturbing the usual balance and focus of that great mind and I did not care to see it.

As the performance reached a climax, Holmes turned, caught my eye and smiled, before vanishing out of room.  He would be gone for some time, I knew of old, doing whatever it was he needed to do to gather the evidence he required.

I made it my duty to keep a close watch on Stapleton for the rest of the evening.  Whatever Holmes was up to, it was this man he was trying to catch.  I will admit that it amused me greatly when Stapleton next turned to find the object of his attentions gone from sight.

He looked at me questioningly, but I simply smiled at him.  'You will not lay a finger on him,' I thought to myself, 'I will make sure of that.'

Never have I been so wrong.


(This next section I write with Holmes' consent, although I will omit some details.  He lies with me, his hand in my left as I scrawl the words with my right.)

Stapleton vanished from my sight only moments after the performance ended.  The room formed itself into lines of merry dancers, and I couldn't spot him anywhere.

There is a side entrance to the Hall, off a narrow corridor next to the kitchen that leads out to the dark walk.  As I passed the end of this corridor, I felt a sudden chill of cold upon me and I heard Stapleton's voice raised in threat.

I turned, meaning to rush to the rescue of whomever was baring the abuse.  But when I saw the two of them, I stopped dead in my tracks.

Stapleton was looming over a man whose back was pressed to the wall of the house.  He was standing closer than was acceptable, one arm bent against the stone, the other free.  Standing, trapped beneath the taller man, was my own Sherlock Holmes.

I was well hidden, for there was no light in the corridor, and they were under the lamp burning just outside.  I did not call out, for the situation didn't warrant it and besides, my voice was caught in my throat.  Instead, rightly or wrongly, I turned voyeur.

Stapleton's other hand was roaming over Holmes' shoulder, down his arm and back up, to touch his cheek in the same manner that Henry had touched mine that first night.  But Stapleton's expression wasn't one of affection.  He was sneering, his words dripping from his twisted mouth.  And although I couldn't hear them now, I knew that the exchange wasn't a friendly one.

I must have remained there for several minutes, watching them, all sorts of notions going through my mind at what connection could possibly be between them. 

Suddenly, whatever was happening escalated.  Stapleton leaned in and without warning, forced himself upon Holmes.  He gripped my friend's jaw in one strong hand, tilted his head upwards and pressed their lips together in an obscene parody of a kiss.

I was about to call out - enough was enough - when Holmes pushed Stapleton away with all his strength.

The man stumbled back, and Holmes ducked under his arm and walked hurriedly back inside.  I quickly moved into the kitchen, and so distracted was he that he didn't spot me.

I waited, my mind whirling, until Stapleton too came inside.  The urge to hit him was so overwhelming that I remained in my hiding place for some time, until I had myself under control.

When I rejoined the party I was relieved, if sickened, to see Stapleton dancing with Mrs Mortimer as if nothing had happened.  Holmes was nowhere to be found.


It was late when Stapleton found me in the games room, setting up the pool table.  Truth be told, I wanted to take the cue to him and stick it somewhere highly private and inevitably painful, but I resisted and simply adopted a blithe attitude to his agitated state.

"Where's Holmes?"

Just that beloved name on those foul lips brought forth murderous thoughts.

"Probably in his room," I replied casually.  "Parties aren't really his thing.  How about a game?"

He stared at me for a moment, incredulous as if I'd asked him to perform some monumental act of kindness.  "I don't play."

"I could teach you."

"I don't want to play."

I was annoying him, and I took a perverse joy in it.  "Let me show you some trick shots."

"I'm not interested in trick shots!  I wanted to speak to Holmes."  He turned, and almost walked into the man in question.

There was a marked change now in the balance between them.  Holmes had indeed been absent for a good hour or two, and although I knew nothing of where he'd been, I was able to make a shrewd guess to at least one of his actions.

The cocaine had allowed him to recover his self-possession, and for that alone I was grateful.  I watched him, and couldn't help the shiver of arousal as he lit a cigarette between his dry lips.

"A word of advice," he murmured, (and if this wasn't proof of his drug-taking, nothing was) sidling up to Stapleton although not looking at him, "never play Watson, especially for money."  He glanced at me momentarily and smiled conspiratorially.  "He's an absolute demon."

Tossing away the match, he crossed the room.  "What did you want with me?" he asked, his back to the other man.  He was already taking a coin from his pocket, his interest in Stapleton gone.

The invitation to Merripit House for drinks the following day obviously came as no surprise to Holmes, and he answered with only slight sarcasm that our services were required in France and we would be leaving for London early in the morning.

He won the toss, and taking up his cue he pocketed a ball with his breaking shot.  Stapleton must have left us, but I admit to having no recollection of his leaving.  For my senses were filled with Holmes, and it was all I could do not to stare when he bent over the table to line up his shot.


Part Six - The Enemy Unmasked

The party ended just after midnight, and the three of us - Holmes, Henry and myself - watched the carriages leave.  Henry gave the parting speech, although I think with more cheer than he felt.

I knew there was something wrong but my immediate concerns were with Holmes who had suffered a great indecency.

Henry excused himself soon afterwards, and instructed the servants to leaving the cleaning up until the morning.  I caught him at the base of the staircase and at least offered him the use of my bed.

"Will I be sharing it, though?  Or do I sleep alone tonight?"  There was an unmistakable sadness in his eyes as he turned from me, and I had a sick feeling in my heart.

I poured two glasses of brandy and found Holmes in the dining room, gazing upon the faces of the Baskerville family long dead.

He accepted the glass from me without a word - a small sign of our intimate friendship - and asked, "Which one is Sir Hugo?"

Sir Hugo, the man on whose fate the legend of the Hound is based.  I pointed out his portrait, and that of his wife whose hound was said to haunt the family.

Staring hard at the impressive painting of Sir Hugo, Holmes muttered to himself, "yes."  He stepped forward.   "Do you see any resemblance, Watson?"

I frowned, trying to find some hint of Henry in the imposing figure of his great uncle.  "There's something in the chin, I suppose," I told him uncertainly.

He dashed forward, and pulled the nearest table across so that it stood directly under the frame.

"What are you doing?"  But he didn't answer me, instead handed me a candlestick and told me to light the wick.

Then he clambered up onto the table and steadied himself before taking the candle from me and clasping my hand to help me up.

With the light in one hand, he reached up, and covered the base of Sir Hugo's face with his other.

"My God...."

I saw it, as plain as day.  The eyes in the portrait were Stapleton's.

"The man's a Baskerville!" Holmes exclaimed with ferocious delight.  "And the papers I found tonight at Merripit House give us all the evidence we need."

"Ah, so that's where you've been."

But he was still staring in triumph at the clue that had been there all along.  Finally, he turned.  The expression on the face was slightly too bright, his eyes slight too wide.  Within his joy there was something dark, something to do with the obscenity I'd witnessed during the party.

But he reached out and patted me hard on the shoulder as he cried, "We have him Watson!  We have him!"

Jumping down from the table, he held out his hand to me and I took it, following his lead.  My feet on the floor once more, I looked up at him with a smile of thanks.

Without warning he leaned across and kissed me.

I was so surprised that I just stood there, completely unresponsive.  His lips were soft, dampened by the brandy he'd managed only a sip of.  This was all I'd dreamt of, and yet still I remained as a statue. 

It wasn't until he pulled back that I realised what I was doing!

"I am so unwelcome?" he whispered to me, eyes creased with confusion.

"No!  No, Holmes...."  And to stress my point, I wrapped on hand around the back of his long neck and returned the kiss.

This time, his mouth opened under mine and I tasted him for the first time.  The sweet sting of the brandy, the underlying sweetness of the wine, the rich flavour of his cigarettes....  I wondered briefly what I tasted of and I smiled to think that he could probably tell me in great detail.

His tongue swept over mine, his arms holding me at the waist, his long, slim body pressing against me.  He was so different to Henry, so individual in the way he moved and how he felt.

Stepping back, he broke the contact between us and locked his gaze - so dark now it was almost black - with mine.

"What about Sir Henry?" he asked softly.

I couldn't keep the surprise from my face, although why I thought he shouldn't know, I haven't a clue.  "How...?" I asked uselessly.

He smiled generously.  "My dear, there's nothing clever about my deduction.  You are the only one around not to use his formal title of 'Sir'."

I hadn't realised!  It would have been strange to continue to call him 'Sir' after sharing my bed as we had. 

Holmes had glanced away.  "I wasn't brave enough before, Watson, and now it seems I'm too late."

It took me a moment to realise what he was saying.  "Not at all, Holmes.  Henry and I... he understands that he's a substitute for another.  I just don't know if he realises that it's you."

A smile crept over his lips, and I wanted to kiss him again, taste him again.

"I... know this isn't the time nor the place... John.  And I don't know how much I have to offer you.  You know me better than most, you know how I can be.  You know of my habits and my moods.  And you understand the risk we'd be taking....  Not that I don't think you're worth that risk."

What had brought all this on now?

"I know you're worth the risk, although I wouldn't do anything to invite curiosity."

Reaching for me again, he took my hand and rubbed his thumb over the backs of my fingers.  "There is much happening here, Watson," he told me with a murmur, "much that I can't yet tell you about but promise to when it is all over."  He paused.  "I admit to being a little... jealous of Sir Henry, but I would prefer it if you and I were to wait until our return to Baker Street before...."

Turning his hand in mine, reaching for the other, I pulled him to me.  "Baker Street sounds like a perfect idea.  The beds here... they're not the most comfortable or the most accommodating.  As for the strange events going on, I don't have to know every detail to still be here for you when you need me."

He blinked, obviously touched, and leaned in again to kiss me.  I could live for the mere taste of him.  When we parted, he rested his forehead against mine.  I knew he wanted to press the matter of Henry - Sir Henry - but he said only, "Goodnight, my dearest John."

And that was it.  The most monumental turn my life has ever taken.


Part Seven - An Eventful Christmas Day

The events that took place on December 25th 1901 are well documented.  But there are details not recorded in any other account and I shall endeavour to give these facts here.

We rose early to catch the milk train.  I'd slept in Henry's room, knowing from the flicker of gaslight coming from under my own room's door the previous night that he was waiting for me in my bed.  His mattress truly was impossible but I can't attribute my sleepless night to my discomfort.  I'd held Holmes in my arms, tasted him on my lips, and now every possibility had been freed in my mind.

I imagined lying naked with him.  I wondered about the texture of his skin and the weight of his genitals.  Soon enough I would find out, and the anticipation was like fine electricity over my nerves.

Oddly the thought with which I finally fell asleep was the same one that was in my mind when I woke.  How would the sound of his name feel on my lips?  Sherlock...

"I'm happy for you, John."  I turned at the sound of Henry's voice.  He was standing at the top of the stairs, and although my emerging from his room told him nothing, the mere fact I that hadn't joined him in my bed told him too much.

"Henry...."  I couldn't lie to him, he meant too much to me.  "I hadn't planned this."  Guilt and apology must have shown on my have, for he leaned forward and silenced me with a chaste kiss. 

"I just want to see you happy.  I know where I stood when I got into this with you.  No hard feelings, John.  He's a lucky man."

"It really isn't what you think."

Henry smiled, kissed me again, and returned to my room.  It was very early.


To Holmes, Christmas Day has always meant very little.  But that morning was special, no matter the date, and we were alone on the train which was no surprise.

We sat opposite each other on the narrow seats, watching the sunrise over the passing countryside.  When I happened to glance at my companion, I saw that there was a smile of amusement on his face.

"What has you so upbeat this morning, Holmes?"

He leaned forward for a moment, "I would have thought that was obvious."  As he sat back, I might have blushed.  "I was just thinking about Stapleton's plans to use his wife to draw Sir Henry's affections as she had his uncle's."

For a moment or two, I didn't grasp what amused him so about a man verily prostituting his wife in order to seduce another man.

"Come, Watson," Holmes' tone was affectionate, and maybe it was that which prompted the revelation. 


"Ah, indeed.  How frustrated Stapleton must be that Sir Henry hasn't looked twice at the beautiful woman practically throwing herself at his feet!"  He chuckled.  "For someone far more worthy of his attention had already caught Sir Henry's eye."

Slowly he leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and took my cold hands in his own.

"I do have a gift for you, Watson," he told me quietly.  "But unfortunately it's back at Baker Street."  He'd already informed me that we were alighting at Exeter, and not London as he'd told Henry.

Smiling, I rubbed his fingers.  "I too, Holmes.  We shall have our own Christmas once this is over."

It was odd, and yet the same time so very natural, to have this freedom to touch him.

"I'm aware that I'm putting Sir Henry in some danger," he admitted after a short silence, looking away.  "I don't want you to think it's due to any hint of the green-eyed beast you might have suspected me of."

I frowned.  "It wouldn't have crossed my mind, dear fellow."

He glanced up, large eyes meeting my own, a wry smile touching his lips.  "You put an undeserved amount of trust in me, John."

My Christian name spoken in his rich tones was music to my ears.  His low murmur sent a frisson of heat down my spine and into my groin.

"Nonsense," I managed, trying to ignore the stirrings of my manhood.  I wanted so much to lean across and kiss him, to taste him again.

Smiling, squeezing my fingers once more, he let go and sat back.

A few minutes later, the train pulled into the station at Exeter, and Lestrade met us, muttering about the fact that it was Christmas Day.  I was more than aware.  I had the best Christmas present any man could ever ask for.

Not to be able to shout it from the rooftops would, I knew, slowly drive me insane.


When we at last reached Merripit House, around eight that night, all was quiet.  The lights and shadows at the windows told us that there were at least two people in the dining room, and the kitchen had been previously occupied, now empty.

Holmes had already given Lestrade and I our instructions.  We were to wait until Sir Henry started off across the moor.  Despite arriving on horseback, he would leave on foot, Stapleton would make sure of it.  We were then to wait and watch.  He didn't explain exactly what he expected to happen, but he told us that we should be ready to give chase after something large and fast.  We were to be swift with our pistols, for we should be expecting to end the life of whatever had been the cause of Sir Charles' death.

These vague details did nothing to placate Lestrade, and I'm sure that had it not been for the great yet grudging respect he had for Holmes, he'd have left us there out on the moor.

I'd enjoyed warmer and undoubtedly more comfortable Christmas nights, but nothing, it seemed, could dampen my spirits. 

But when the low, thick fog began to roll in, my concerns arose for Henry's safety.  What protection would we be if we could not see our foe?  I admit that I did get angry.  Eventually, I wanted to end the fa�ade and get my friend out of Stapleton's reach.  I still wasn't sure what I'd seen at the window of Merripit House on the night of the s�ance, but as the fog drew closer, I started to get scared at the prospect of using Henry as bait.

My determination to end the waiting, Holmes reaching for me and my subsequent demand that he take his hands from me all surprised him, shocked him a little I think, for later he was withdrawn from me. 

However, that reaction might have had nothing to do with me.  And everything to do with Stapleton.

In my previous account, I recorded that it was Holmes and I who went after the horror that sprang out of the darkness and sped passed us before we could gather our wits.

In actual fact, Lestrade and I gave chase.  It was we who found Henry torn and bleeding in the maw of that huge animal.  We stood like statues and stared until our lives were in as much danger as our sanity before firing several times into the emasculated body of the unnatural beast that leapt at us from Henry's side.

Henry needed urgent medical attention, but all I could think about, having seen the hound, was the man who had brought it to such a state.  In the wake of the horror, the memory of Stapleton forcing himself on my dear Holmes the night of the party flashed into my mind.  I needed to get back to him just as desperately as I needed to administer to Henry's wounds, and I was torn.

My first duty is always to my patient, and I helped Lestrade carry the unconscious man back to Baskerville Hall.  I had Barrymore send for Dr Mortimer and tended to Henry until Mortimer arrived.  Only then did I have Perkins saddle me a horse and I rode hard back to Merripit House.

I know now all of what happened between Stapleton and Holmes, not just that night but many years ago.  But all I knew at the time was what I could see through the kitchen window at the side of the house as I approached at a canter.

I swung down from the horse, in my anger and concern leaving him standing there, untethered.  For a moment I took in the scene through the window. 

There were clear signs of a struggle; items spilt upon the table, crockery broken over the tiled floor.  Stapleton had Holmes in an arm lock, his face and chest pressed against the far wall.  One long-fingered hand was wrapped threateningly around the top of Holmes' throat, up under his chin.  The other... the other was thrust vulgarly into the front of his dark trousers.

Holmes was fighting to loose himself, but Stapleton was taller and his madness gave him strength.  I could see the twisted expression as he forced Holmes to endure the indignity of the uninvited touch.  He was grinning, spitting words from between clenched teeth.

Incensed, I looked around for a distraction and found a small pile of rubble just under the window.  Taking aim, I moved out of sight and fired a single bullet into the bricks and dirt.  A moment's pause, and then I heard an almighty clatter from inside.

Rushing up the stone steps and around to the front door, I put my shoulder to the heavy wooden panel and almost succeeded in dislocating it.  Luckily, the lock gave way and I ran inside, taking the stairs two at a time down to the kitchen.

My plan had worked.  The shot had surprised Stapleton and Holmes had managed to push him away.  They were struggling against one another on the other side of the table.

"Take your hands off him!"  I shouted the same words I'd uttered at Holmes out in the murk of the fog.  The fighting ceased, more out of surprise than any perceived threat.  But Stapleton caught sight of my gun and, understanding that I wouldn't shoot, he came at me with more brutality than I'd ever seen on one face.


Holmes's cry was one of warning.  I didn't see it coming.

Stapleton had wrestled my revolver from my grip and had turned it on me.  In the moment after my name was called, a second shot rang out and I felt a searing pain in my left shoulder.

I was shot!

I staggered back, knowing only a fire in my arm until Holmes' embrace was around me and I was being lowered to the floor, by back against the cold wall.

"Oh God, Watson, no...."

In his voice I could hear so much fear that I was moved beyond the pain.  The bullet had wounded me, but it was not an instantly fatal injury.  Stapleton though had gone.  I refused to let him win.

"Go after him!" I croaked, trying to sound as convincing as I could.  Holmes' hand was on my right shoulder, his other against my chest.  He was shaking his head, unwilling to leave me.  "I'm all right," I attempted to reassure him.  "Go."

Still he hesitated.

I blame it now on the fever setting in, but I could see no other way.  Leaning forward, the movement causing me blinding pain but paying it no heed, I kissed him fully on the lips.

"Now go."

Sweeping his hand once over my hair, he told me, in no uncertain terms, that he loved me.  I could see in the depths of his grey eyes that he meant it, and I was stunned.

Hoping I was smiling, I said, "I love you too!  Now go!"

I huddled against the wall for what I think was only a minute or two.  I closed my eyes, feeling my body start to shut down, the pain of the shot, the shock of blood loss too much for it.  I started to think about Holmes, about the soft kiss of his lips and the hard warmth of his body.  He had gone after an armed man who knew the moors better than anyone, who knew where to tread and where to avoid, where to hide and where to run.

Stapleton was armed with both weapon and knowledge.

A sudden thought roused me enough so that I struggled to my feet, using my weight against the wall to push myself up. 

I wasn't going to let Sherlock Holmes die by my revolver!

I staggered up the stairs and out of the house, and faced with the moor all around me I realised that I had no clue of which direction Stapleton might have run.

I was at a loss, and about to set off toward Baskerville Hall, when I heard a shout of barely masked terror.

I ran then, my strength bolstered by thoughts of losing Holmes for a second and more permanent time.  They hadn't gone far, and I saw with horror the situation that had befallen him.

He was trapped in a peat bog, already sucked down to his armpits.  His arms were raised, and he was struggling to free himself but his movements were severely restricted and his breath was already being crushed from his lungs under the intense pressure.

But his death wasn't to come from suffocation.  Stapleton was crouched at the edge of the bog, my gun in his hand, aimed at Holmes' head.

I ran, as fast and as sure as my legs would take me.  As I passed the low branches of the tree under which Stapleton was bent, I reached up for them.  I couldn't suppress a howl of agony as the action caused a slicing pain in my left shoulder, but it was too late for Stapleton to react.  My body collided with his back and he toppled over, into the same bog that held Holmes in its deadly grip.

It was the most horrid of deaths.  His arms were caught at the beginning, his face only inches from the thick, deep puddle of mud.  He raged like the devil against the unyielding suction, but within seconds he was gone to one of nature's tombs.

My jacket was all I had by way of a rope.  I threw it out, relieved when Holmes grabbed the other sleeve, and together we inched him to safety.  His breaths were wheezing, his only utterances rough groans, until he was free of the bog.

He looked up at me, relief mapped across his striking features, and said, "Three cheers for Saville Row."

Had I the strength, I would have laughed.


Part Eight - Baker Street

"When my parents ascertained how difficult two children were going to be to bring up, I was sent away."

We were seated next to the burning fire in Henry's room. 

Our ward was sleeping under the sedative Mortimer had administered and, although his wounds were deep, he was strong and would in time make a full recovery.

Holmes was leaning forward in his chair, a glass of brandy and a cigarette balanced elegantly in one trembling hand.  Absently, he played my fingers in his other, alternatively holding and stroking them. 

My left arm hung in a sling, a shot of morphine having freed me from the blazing pain.  Holmes had needed me close and I had pulled my chair up next to his.

I hadn't mentioned what I'd seen through the window of Merripit House, but somehow he'd known.  "Let me explain," he'd begged me, and I'd nodded.

"A boarding school is no place for a boy of a shy disposition.  I was too thin, too nervous, too different.  And I attracted the wrong kind of attention.  I never knew the name of the boy who made every moment of my life into a living hell."  He looked away into the fire.  "Not until your first report from Baskerville Hall did I have a name."

I squeezed his fingers.  "Jack Stapleton."

"Jonathan Baskerville."

"I'm so sorry, Holmes."  It seemed utterly inadequate.

"He'd remained obsessed with me, following my career until once again our paths crossed."  And crossed they had.  "He knew more now.  He craved power over people.  He had that power over Beryl Stapleton, he had it over the Baskerville family and he wanted it over me."

It was the closest he'd ever come, I believe, to baring his soul to anyone.  I was humbled, honoured, and at the same time I don't think I've ever loved him more than at the moment.

Before I could find the words with which to express myself, Henry stirred upon the bed.

Holmes lifted my hand and touched my fingers to his lips.  "Go to him," he told me quietly, "I shall retire to bed."

Immediately, I was worried by his words.  "Holmes...."

But he smiled gently.  "Do not concern yourself.  By this time tomorrow we will be safely home in Baker Street, and I shall give you your Christmas gift."

I nodded and with one long look he rose from his chair.

I barely slept that night.  I remained seated at Henry's bedside, hushing him when memories of his ordeal encroached upon his sleep.  Despite his obvious discomfort, I could not bring myself to move to the bed.

Holmes, who for so long had had my loyalty and devotion, had laid claim to something else within me, something that now belonged to him and him alone.

I imagined that I had made some silent vow to him, betrothed myself to him by some means, and the idea did not frighten me at all.  Indeed, I was invigorated by it.  Whatever the rest of society thought of men who loved men, I knew my feelings to be genuine and good.


They say that all men must find their own peace on this earth.

The morning after our return to Baker Street, I found my peace, and my own slice of heaven.

I woke in a strange bed.  Holmes' slim form was pressed up against me, spooned to my back.  One of his arms was tucked between us, the other raised above his head, his hand on my hair. 

His fingers were playing in the loose dark curls upon my head, small, soothing strokes that at once lulled and excited me.

The previous evening we'd dined at Marcini's with thoughts toward the theatre and Holmes' box for Les Huguenots.  But such looks passed between us at dinner, as the conversation faded, and a rare tension built between us, so that when the bill was paid, we headed back to Baker Street without a word of consent required.

Mrs Hudson had been so kind as to light the fires in our rooms, and it was good to come home to that warmth and comfort when outside it was threatening snow.  But better than the heat of the flames was the heat of our bodies as we pressed together behind the locked door of his bedroom.

Opening my eyes, I felt Holmes' lips touch my bare shoulder, followed in a moment by the nip of his teeth and another, swift, kiss.

"Good morning, Holmes," I murmured, happy beyond belief.

He chuckled deeply, "You may, under these circumstances I'm sure, call me Sherlock."

"Sherlock."  The name did feel good on my lips.

He drew his arm from between us and wrapped it around my waist, bringing us closer.  I felt his early-morning erection press against my rear, sliding to rest along the indent of my cheeks.

As erotic as the sensation was, it brought to mind niggling worries and concerns regarding what we were doing, the relationship we had entered into with such fervour.

"This is risky for us, isn't it, dangerous even?" I asked him pointlessly.  For he nodded.  But before I could continue, I felt him move, push himself up on one elbow behind me, and rest his chin on my shoulder.

"There are more pertinent questions, John.  For one, how much more risky is it for us to lie here in each other's arms than it is for us to break into the house of a suspected blackmailer to recover the vital evidence?  How much more dangerous is it than running over a moor in the dead of night in pursuit of a murderous hound?  But more than anything, I must ask, do you believe this to be worth it?"

Turning in his embrace, I faced him.  His grey eyes were warm, the beloved features smiling for me alone.

"You are worth all the dangers this world could throw at us," I told him.  "For you I willingly risk my career and my life."

He smiled at me, his parted lips drawing my attention.  "I doubt either sacrifice will be needed if we are careful," he reassured me.  I glanced up and noted that his eyes were on my mouth as mine had been on his.  Leaning in, I kissed him.

"I love you," I murmured, lips still touching his.

"And I you, John, although it will take time before I'm used to this.  You of all people know how I lack the proper emotional maturity for a man of my considerable years."

He was teasing me, in his own inimitable way.  I couldn't resist teasing back, using my fingers on his chest and my teeth on his neck.

Laughing gently, he wrapped one leg over my thigh as I pushed a knee between his.  Our erections were brought together in an erotic duel and I delighted in his little moan of pleasure.

"Ah, John," his hands stroked over my head and shoulders, down my back.  He was more confident than he'd been the first time.  Never, he'd admitted, had he known a man or a woman in such intimate a fashion.  I hadn't imagined that he had, the thought had seemed too incredible somehow.  But he'd been taken advantage of many times in his younger life that it was up to me to convince him that love and consent made all the difference.

"You bring me alive, John," he whispered as I sucked on the pink nubs of his nipples.  I raised my head, flicking the tip of my tongue over the curve of his lips, indulging in the taste of him.

We rubbed our lengths against one another with feline grace.  The sheer pleasure of being so close to him enough to push me toward my own climax but I needed to take him with me when I fell.

Holmes' orgasm last night had not been his first, but it had been the first time someone else had driven him to that particular edge.  It had left him defenceless and vulnerable, endearing him to me all the more, if that were possible.

I knew that for a time it would be like a drug to him.  It would be my pleasure and my honour to give him all that he needed until he was as sated as I.

He drove his tongue into my mouth, one hand on my back, one venturing nervously down to the swell of my cheeks, although not yet brave enough to touch me there so blatantly.

Reaching between us, I wrapped my fingers around our phalluses, ensuring my palm touched us both.  He groaned, deep in his throat, and brought his fingers to touch my hand as if to prevent me from carrying out my intentions.  But as I began to pump us both thoroughly, his fingers simply rested against mine, not stopping me, not assisting me.

I watched him steadily, the emotions that turned his expression, his eyes when they opened to meet him.  He is so beautiful.

His orgasm shook him as it had the night before.  His fingers tensed against mine, his palm flat on my back.  My own seed mixed with his as I shuddered against him.

It wiped us out, and as I collapsed on to my back I tugged at him to move with me.

He wrapped himself around me, his head on my shoulder, our stomachs sticky with semen and sweat. 

I think that he had, for a long time, thought those fluids things to be ashamed of.  It would take time before he accepted without needing the reassurance of my post-coital embrace.


"Finished, Watson?"

I start, unaware that he's been standing behind me.


"We shall deliver Sir Henry's copy to him in person I think."

I smile across at him as he drops into his chair by the fire.  Henry is in London taking a break from the loneliness of the moor.  He is unsure now whether he will remain at the Hall.  Holmes and I have promised to introduce him to London life.

As for Holmes and I, society already believes us inseparable and we have done nothing to change that opinion.  I have my marriage behind me, ended as it did in such sad circumstances.  My return to Baker Street was natural, for it had once been my home and I was loathe to stay in the house that Mary and I had shared and that held so many memories for me.

Holmes and I share rooms, and that was all.  I'd proven myself to enjoy the company and love of women, and he was well known for his criticism of affairs of the heart. 

We love directly under the noses of those who would damage us, and they do not see.  They do not want to see.

He lights a cigarette and regards me through the plume of smoke he exhales.  My attention is drawn to his lips as he parts them to inhale.  He notices my regard, of course, and as he flicks the ash into his abandoned glass the tip of his tongue peeks out.

"Am I as bad for your concentration as you are for mine?" he quizzed me, amused.

"Definitely."  I hope no one sees these smiles that pass between us.  They're positively obscene.


A few weeks ago, Merripit House was sold to a young man whose family made their money in farming.  He himself had apparently been educated in Oxford, pushed by his parents to do something else with his life.  To that end he'd travelled much of the world, had made certain discoveries by which he'd amassed his own small fortune and was now happy to settle for a time on Dartmoor.

Tonight we dine with Henry and his new friend.  It is their first night in London, and Henry is excited for us to meet this man, and for him to make our acquaintance.

"We should soon be making a move," Holmes states from the hall behind me.

I turn as he steps into the lounge.  We aren't dining at any of our usual haunts tonight, but somewhere suggested to us by a close and trusted friend.  Therefore, he's dressed different to the norm, in a black suit with a black silk shirt and a dash of gold at his wrists.  I raise my eyebrows and he smiles mischievously.

"I think we might be late," I inform him casually.

And I lay my pen down....