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In the Dark

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There was a thud in the night, and a small grunt that followed right after it.

Watson blinked into the dark, eyelids heavy and drooping. It was probably Holmes, whom he really expected to have begun playing the violin at any given moment now, but the silence stretched itself into the night. He closed his eyes again and sighed, forcing himself back to sleep. The quiet was gratifying, yet a bit disturbing due to the usual ruckus that occurred within the sitting room. It was not long before he began hearing the whispers of the wind outside, hushing him to slumber. He felt himself nearly dropping back into the comforting forgetfulness of sleep, as though a mental surge of gravitational pull was drawing him—

Watson was jerked out of sleep at the large crash and a bit of tumbling, along with a groan that echoed throughout the room.

He sat up immediately in panic, grabbing his cane and the pistol just in case. He approached the sitting room with caution, weapon secure in his hand, as it was plausible that a burglary had occurred. However, he needed to make sure that Holmes was all right. He stood at the door with slight apprehension, the gun heavy in his hand and familiar. He drew in an involuntary breath and shoved the door open, pointing the pistol at whoever was in the room.

Holmes was on the ground, one of the tables knocked down, items fallen all over the place. The books and paperwork were all in a jumbled, unsightly mess. He appeared as though he was about to stand up, and he murmured, "Could have sworn that thing was not there."

Watson stared at him curiously, also a bit dubiously, putting the gun down back to his side. He stepped into the room, as though he had walked into a different universe, suddenly unfamiliar with what was playing before his eyes. It was not characteristic of Holmes to run into things without a purpose, even in the middle of the night. Watson frowned slightly as the detective shuffled around the items fallen, stepping over them without crushing any of it. He noted that the man did not seem to recognize his presence yet, as he kept looking about without much direction.

"Holmes, what are you doing?"

The man addressed sharply turned to where Watson stood. He did not quite meet his gaze, oddly, as Watson stepped completely into the room.

"Watson, is that you? I knew I heard the door open."

Holmes was standing now, hands at his side, but twitching as though he wanted to reach out. He walked towards him slowly, carefully, his steps appearing calculated and measured. Watson stood still, waiting for him to approach him completely, and when he thought that Holmes might run into him, he stopped, only a bit away from him. His gaze was strange, eyes a bit downcast and unfocused.

"Now, I am approximately a foot apart from you. It really is quite magnificent, Watson, the noises, the smells, the touch," he paused placing a hand on his shoulder, "my own voice, and all of those things are magnified, as though I have awaken—"

"What?" he asked, somewhat afraid of the answer, "What exactly is magnificent, Holmes?" Something was incredibly wrong, and he knew it, but he was not sure what it was. The move of his gaze, most of the times very full of contact to his own eyes were looking downward, but the inflections and rather cheerful tone of his voice did not indicate any signs that Holmes was hiding something.

"The blindness, Watson. I am experimenting in the heightening of senses, probably useful when—"

"What?"

"Surely you understand what blindness is, my dear—"

"Are you mad? You purposely blinded yourself? And why? How could you do such a thing? Do you even know that it could be permanently—"

A knock on the door.

Then both paused in conversation, and it was silent again.

"It must be Mrs. Hudson," Holmes commented casually, as Watson shot him a deadly glare. However, the man was currently blinded, thus leaving him unable to catch such a lethal glance, so the good doctor merely cleared his throat to open the door. He opened it just a peek to make sure that she did not see Holmes in such a state, although she might not be able to perceive his blindness simply by glancing at him.

"The knocking is much clearer, Watson; one could label every reverberation as a note on a grand piano—"

"Ah, yes, Mrs. Hudson. Was there something you needed?" Watson smiled forcefully, drowning out Holmes' commentary made in the background. She took a look at him and her brows shot up at the pistol. He followed her gaze and jumped a bit, remembering that he had brought it with him.

"Oh, no, no, this was just a precaution. Nothing to fret over."

She eyed it a bit fearfully before trying to look over his shoulder, apparently distracted by attempting to see what was behind him. She was holding a candlestick, and the lit beeswax glowed to meet her concerned face. She finally moved her gaze toward him, a bit reluctantly.

"Yes, well, I heard a noise here and a bit of crashing. I thought someone had broken in so I—"

He grimaced as yet another frightening fall of books and the breaking of possibly fragile equipment was heard in the background. Watson leaned his arm against the doorframe and pinched the bridge of his noise with his other hand, suppressing the urge to yell. Mrs. Hudson's eyes widened as she tried to look over his shoulder again, the candlelight flickering violently with her motion.

"Watson, I would not be tripping over Gladstone as I am doing now if you would simply give the dog a proper place to sleep."

The look on her face was of concern, but it was slowly becoming overshadowed by suspicion.

"Is there something wrong?" She began, as she tried to push past him. He politely kept her outside of the sitting room, by using his body as a shield.

"No, no, there is absolutely," he winced as there was a rather loud shuffling of papers in the background, and of unidentifiable items, "nothing wrong here, Mrs. Hudson. But we truly thank you for your—"

"Watson? Have you seen my pipe? I know I left it on this table here."

She swallowed thickly and stared into the background of the sitting room, watching tentatively. "Are you sure that nothing is wrong?"

"Most positive," Watson bit out, and he continued, with a softer tone of voice, "I assure you that this is nothing worse than you have already witnessed. Now, please, I will make sure that we do not disturb you any further. Yes, yes. Of course. No, there were no burglars in the vicinity—"

"Actually, there were four. One running towards the east of Baker Street and another walking down the—"

"Will you shut it?" Watson called over his shoulder, in a frightening tone. Holmes fell silent and pretended as though he had not heard although now he was particularly sure that it was an act. He turned back to Mrs. Hudson with an apologetic smile and a thinner patience. He repeated that things were fine and urged her to go back to bed, that it would be all resolved by morning, that things were under perfect control. With a strong reluctance, she turned back towards her quarters, and he watched her retreat for a few moments before closing the door shut with a relieved sigh.

Then he snapped back to the man.

"How did this happen, Holmes?" he questioned, arms crossed and unrelenting, face drawn into a frown. He was sitting in a chair and fiddling with his violin, ear leaned into the curving instrument.

"This is simply marvelous, Watson. Every note is as clear as day, and I can hear each quavering string as I brush the bow over it. The difference is most astounding."

"…Holmes."

"What is it?"

Watson let out an exasperated sigh, running a hand over his face and covering his eyes in frustration. "How did this happen?"

"The blindness?"

"Yes, the blindness, Holmes. The thing that is disabling you from seeing the world."

He placed the violin down and crossed his legs, leaning into the armchair with inexplicable leisure. There was a pause in the conversation, as Holmes had his head turned towards him, but with his stare downcast. "You're not happy with this arrangement," he stated, nonchalantly, eyes shifting slightly to the corners. Watson was a bit spooked at the fact that Holmes could not meet his gaze. The fact that he was absently looking down at the floor while speaking so directly toward him was… just…

"No, I am not happy at all. Now, what did you do?" Watson nearly groaned, suddenly incredibly tired.

"I was in the process of creating a liquid substance in which one of the five senses is affected, or rather in this case, turned off, due to its reaction. The results can be permanent—" Watson's brows shot up at this and he was about to argue before he continued, "—though, luckily, I have reduced the dose of morphine that had gone into the formula, thus rendering it temporary. I, of course, did not want to harm our dog, so I took the thing myself. Any more questions, Watson?"

All of this reckless behavior and infinite lack of personal care were materialized right into those sentences. Watson knew this, but as long as he was looking at him, there was the constant reminder that his head was slightly lowered and eyes unseeing. It made him squirm slightly, a tight feeling in his stomach as though his small intestines decided to make convoluted knots inside him.

"How long is this going to last?"

"Approximately forty-eight hours. Now, Watson, I want you to come here."

He stood there near the door, mind resolutely opposed to his nearly crippling himself for life, refusing to answer to him. Holmes looked toward his direction and made haste to stand up.

"Or shall I come to—"

"No, no. No. Sit." Watson replied in a hurried fashion as Holmes tried to make a step towards him. He moved forward with misgivings and fear, expecting the worst, hoping for the best. Then he was in front of him within seconds, staring down at his disconnected gaze. Holmes held out his hands as if waiting for him to take them, and he lifted his head a little. "Is your face in front of my hands?"

"No."

"This is most tragic, Watson. You will ruin my experience."

He wanted to retort something acerbic but refrained and knelt down in front of him, keeping in mind that Holmes could not see him do such a thing. It still made his face flush a little, as it was a bit degrading. But it was a bit late as Holmes pressed his hands on either side of his face, as if contemplating. His thumbs brushed against his cheekbones slightly, like a soft caress. Watson still had his stare fixated on his eyes, the useless appearance of them and how much intrigue they brought him, irises flitting about randomly.

"Do you have a fever, Watson? You are rather warm."

He did not answer, as he was not how to reply such an observation. Holmes did not push the matter as he instead ran his fingertips over his brow and trailed an index finger down the bridge of his nose, to the tip. There was a delicacy in his movement, the way he carefully managed not to press his face too hard, all the while, seeming to examine his face with his hands. Watson was a bit surprised, to be frank, as he never quite perceived Holmes in such a way. The fingers flitted over his eyelids as he blinked, lashes brushing over the touch. Then it dragged a bit down his jaw, raking over his mustache.

"It is… astonishing, the way I can see your face through my hands," he began, as he blinked absently over his glazed eyes, "As though I never lost my sight to begin with."

Again, Watson was speechless, for whatever the reason, as he let Holmes trace an almost timid finger over his lips. Then he moved down his chin, gradually sliding over the sloping jaw indentation where his neck began. His hands were cold, admittedly, as Watson suppressed a shiver. The movement drew downwards, further, his nails slightly grazing over the lump on his throat. He spoke again, voice now huskier and deeper than before, eyes revealing nothing. "Speak, Watson."

"No." As soon as he let out the word, he cursed himself.

He felt his fingers twitch just slightly at the single word, reveling at the vibration. "Peculiar," he whispered under his breath, lips marginally parted. The hand moved to the side of his neck, the warmer region, where his coldness intruded and fingers carefully placed itself. Watson felt his heartbeat increase, the proximity growing increasingly stranger and wickedly different than before. It was growing serious. Holmes was feeling for a pulse, pressured digits flat against his neck, waiting in a still, captured moment.

The thrum of the blood rose at a steady but fast rhythm, meeting and pushing against the fingers.

"Apprehensive, are we?"

Watson felt his mouth go dry, as soon as the fingers began to move down to his collarbones. He stood with haste at that, heart pounding into his chest. Holmes lifted his face upward, apparently sensing the difference in the air resistance or something akin to that, trying to estimate where he should look. His hands were still in place, as though Watson never should have stood up in the first place.

"I am going to bed, Holmes. I have no time for this foolishness."

He did not retort back like he hoped but was very still until he crossed his legs, leaning his elbow against the arm of the chair, his chin propped on it with an act of indifference. He stared blankly at the curtains for a bit, gaze starkly away from him.

"Go on, then."

Watson almost stayed.

-----

It took a few moments to realize that the bed was shaking.

The movement was intermittent, not an incessant shaking but more like a twitch every few immeasurable interval. Watson was pulled out of sleep, damning himself for being so used to waking up in the middle of the night now, and he rubbed his eyes a bit absentmindedly. He thought it might have been Gladstone, though he had not jumped onto the bed and bothered him in a while.

But, he did not mind as much, as the tremors stopped for a bit. He did, however, look over his shoulder at whoever it might be.

Thankfully, it was Holmes, sleeping.

Watson smiled a little and closed his eyes again.

-----

In the morning, it was silent.

The tranquility seemed almost oppressive, but he sat up slowly, mind somewhat befuddled. He had no thoughts in his head, but he did get up, eyes traveling towards the sitting room where breakfast was probably delivered by Mrs. Hudson. Yes, she did visit last night, at some point, probably because of the ruckus—

Suddenly, all of the sleepiness was wiped off in one train of thought, the late morning light reveling in his fear.

Holmes had blinded himself.

He swallowed down the lump of nervousness in his throat. He said two days. Just two days. Nowhere near permanent. And, he was so eager towards the mere concept of blindness that Watson had nearly forgotten that he did such a thing at all. He shook off the worry, or what he could shake off, before he began changing out of his night clothes. He was halfway into the full-length trousers when the door burst open.

Holmes walked in on him, one leg in his pants and nothing on top.

Watson nearly yelled, but he stopped because he realized that Holmes could not see him. Still, his presence was unnerving as he was nude, so he scolded him lightly.

"Good grief, Holmes. Knock before you enter, for god's sakes."

His eyes shifted around looking everywhere except directly at him, and he paused in his step forward, a bit uncertain.

"Why? What were you doing?"

"It doesn't matter what I was doing, but the fact that you should knock before you enter is still evident."

"No time. Did you know what I had to go through with dear nanny just now?"

Watson froze, trying to put on his pants with as little noise as possible, slipping his legs into them bit by bit. He was a bit worried at Mrs. Hudson's possible response to Holmes' dead looking eyes, and she probably thought that he was using some kind of illicit drug. He seemed impatient, through body language, as a hint of a frown graced his features. Then he noticed the deeper sunken bags under his eyes, appearing as though he had not slept at all. This was a strange phenomenon as he vaguely recalled Holmes being asleep next to him just last night. He partially forgot about dressing, letting concern override him, and asked with genuine curiosity.

"Have you had any sleep last night, man?"

Watson swore he saw his friend's right brow twitch upwards slightly before he turned away to leave.

-----

The day slowly blended into twilight as Watson could not leave Holmes alone at home.

The man was very precise in his footsteps, which really should not have surprised him, but it was still astonishing, the way he could navigate himself around the sitting room without so much as a bump against all of the clutter. His sense of direction was acute, Watson knew, so perhaps this blindness was not such a terrifying idea. He should have given Holmes more credit, now that he thought about it, with all of the seemingly supernatural abilities he has. It was simply the art of deduction, surely, but his competence in the field was absolutely brilliant.

Another day that passed as smoothly as this one should not be so awful.

There was an ample amount of activity for Holmes during the day, as he moved about and felt through old books, trying to read the text out of them merely through touch. Then quickly picked up his violin and began playing Bach's C Major Sonata, which seemed to contrast his behavior somewhat. But Watson enjoyed it as he had yet another cup of tea. Holmes was thrilled by his own performance, as he gloated that every pitch was exquisitely on target, that tuning it was even easier with his heightened senses.

He couldn't help but chuckle lightly as he marveled over it, every now and then pressing his ear up against the wall.

"Did you know we have rats in our walls, Watson?"

That was a tad disturbing.

-----

There was the shaking again.

Watson thought of it little although he pondered at the downpour of rain outside. He thought it was a bit cloudy that day, rain waiting to brood in the darkened skies. He stared into the obscurity, apparently facing away from Holmes, as he was looking at the edge of his bed. He shut his eyes again, the shaking gone, giving him opportunity to forget and return to sleep.

Then it shook again.

Frustrated, Watson opened his eyes once more, turning himself on his back, eyes searching the room. Then he noted that his hand brushed another body as he swiveled himself onto his shoulders and finally registered that it was Holmes next to him.

He was about to ask him whether he felt the quake when the man suddenly let out a groan. Watson froze. Then he sat up slowly and carefully, unsure of whether he was still asleep or not. He looked over to his side of the bed and saw that Holmes was still again. He watched him for a few more seconds, when he suddenly twitched. Curiously, he laid a hand on his shoulder, trying to stop him from his, whatever this was, gently moving him. No reaction. He stopped, worry growing in his mind.

Then Holmes began choking, sounding like he was gagging.

Watson panicked, nearly jumping at the sound. This could an unforeseen reaction of the chemicals, maybe even a seizure. He immediately propped him up, making him sit. Then Holmes clawed at something in front of him, as if trying to reach for something, at the same time hurt it. His eyes were wide open as they ever were, still unseeing and blank. It was almost reminiscent of those times where it would be near damn impossible for him to concentrate on any single thing, but in a different form. He needed to bring awareness to him. The rain seemed to beat mercilessly into Baker Street, strumming his panic with every strike.

"Holmes. Holmes. Look at me." Watson bit his tongue at that. He watched as Holmes clutched at what he could not see in front of him, hands grasping at air with uncertainty. He needed to try. He needed to wake him up from this particular nightmare.

"It is… astonishing, the way I can see your face through my hands," he began, as he blinked absently over his glazed eyes, "As though I never lost my sight to begin with."

Finally, he tightly grasped the man's flailing hands, gripping the wrists with sanity, pure ground-level sanity, and drew the palms onto the sides of his face. Watson felt his muscles twitch under his hold, the hands slowly relaxing. He heard his breathing even out, eyes half-hooded now, fingertips gradually becoming delicate touches. Holmes finally faced him, head turned toward him as though he finally recognized him.

"Watson."

It came out in a puff of whispered breath, but he sounded as though he finally found someone he knew in a crowded ballroom.

Then his thumb traced over his lashes, briefly. Then it dragged over his lips, with a gain of confidence. Down his throat. Over his collarbones. Watson made no motion to stop him.

The rain hushed over them in soft, curling tones.

-----

Holmes was never afraid of the dark.

He actually took comfort in it, where he could truly contemplate with logic because nothing could distract him there. The stillness of things where the dark was made him much more relaxed in situations. But even in this blackness, the things surrounding him, the edges of books, the slope of the beakers, the arch of his violin, and the droop of the curtains were meaningfully sitting with him. There were dimensions to this obscurity in which thousands of little things did come to his notice, but they were quieted through the shadows, the rise and fall of vague changes into the night.

But with this blindness, the dark had only one dimension.

During the day, he could feel the light in his eyes and the reddish tint that he could make out in front of his paralyzed pupils. Then he would hear Watson shuffling, his comments, the dog, or outside activity. Oftentimes he would be absolutely annoyed, but the strangest things he could hear in his violin and the almost clear conversations he could catch from people walking outside fascinated him by all means. So he forgot the infinite darkness for a while, because he heard and saw the movement in his head, where he would know that he was not alone.

At first, he thought did not mind the single rule of the nightfall shadow, especially the first night. He was able to see Watson in front of him, and the dark was easily defeated, because the sharp dimensions of his face brazed up in his mind's eye, in every detail and warmth. Then, when he abruptly left, the image was still there, but slowly fading into the obscurity. It grew colder at this point, not only because Watson left, but because everything else was cold in the sitting room.

He weighed the reasons he should stay in this room compared to moving to the bedroom. He measured for about the span of two hours before deciding that he should move to the bedroom where at least he would be next to someone. The sleep did not come till much later but listening to the steady rise and fall of Watson's breathing helped.

Then the dark began to swallow him.

It could strangely be called a nightmare about the dark, but worst part of it was, that even when he did wake up from it, it would still be dark.

It would still be one single dimension of black.

The thought trailed behind him into the night, and the fact that the dark would be inescapable till daybreak occurred to him. So he lay very still till then.

The second night he thought he could properly handle. He was not sure what exactly made him think in such a way, but he did fall asleep eventually. He felt as though he was moving smoothly through slumber, so he felt reassured about it. The darkness became a friend again.

Then it began to rain.

There were no real warnings to this rain besides the dusky clouds of the daytime, as the shower ran into the streets of London in a seemingly uniform fashion. Then, as if he could see himself from the outside in, he knew that he was shaking. The pulsations and chaotic rhythm of precipitation outdoors nearly overrode his senses, and he could not see it. The darkness grasped him by the heart and the black walls around him seemed to be closing in rapidly. He felt his body being shifted into an upright position, deadweight, but the movement alone did not free him. So he grasped in front of himself desperately, searching for a way out, but the dark was winning this battle.

Until the blackness bled through with the familiar curve of someone's cheekbones against the palm of his hands. He wanted to speak out loud, but he found that his voice was almost lost, allowing only a whisper to ghost his lips.

"Watson."

His fingertips felt the structured edge of his nose, the arch of his brow, the fluttering lashes, and the soft protrusion of lips. There he was, through the dark, materializing like a solid precipitate reaction, under his touch. His collarbones and body.

He was there.

-----

It was not until the third night that they kissed.

Watson had been alone then, the bed empty besides himself, the rain still cascading down just outside. Sleep had taken him to a still, silent calm, allowing the exhaustion to become released just down the empty road to complacency. He inhaled in a long stroke, and exhaled like a sigh almost, the breathing matching the way his chest heaved up and down.

Then there was a voice faintly away from the door, somewhere out there.

His brows furrowed slightly at the noise, but his demeanor remained mainly under the spell of dormancy. The voice grew louder and sharper. He turned to his side at that, trying to avoid the noise that continued to grow closer. He thought maybe it was the violin again, but surely Holmes would not be playing it so terribly. He absentmindedly pondered the thoughts in his mind, considering them briefly before sleep called for him again. The voice finally reached a maximum when the door was thrown open and nearly screamed at him.

"My god, Watson, I can see again."

The man in the bed drew himself up and opened his eyes to look at him.

There, the gaze stared back, directly at him, without even a small waver in his strength to invalidate it. Holmes crossed the distance between them, sat on the edge of the bed, cupped the sides of his face, eyes now alive and searching his for a few brief moments as though in utter disbelief, and subsequently pressed their lips together in one swift motion.

Watson thought of Mary at one moment, but whilst someone's fingers were tangled in his hair and tugging just so subtly, he found that he could not think much longer.

Then a hand slid down to his chest, just over his heart, where it was beating rapidly.

He listened to the rain as it also increased in sound. Holmes did not seem to notice, as he grasped his forearm and kissed the inside of his wrist, the pulse meeting up to his lips almost desperately. His mouth stayed where it was, feeling the blatant beat of his heart. There was an inquiry written in his dark, focused eyes.

"Apprehensive, are we?"

His answer was different this time.