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Scientific Inquiry

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Sherlock Holmes lost his virginity when he was 21 years old. It seemed like something he ought to do. After all, how could one hope to unravel a crime of passion without experiencing the passion that drove it?

Unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that calling the experience "passionate" was the grossest of overstatements. The girl herself was pretty enough, a little blond tavern maid named Bess who had been making eyes at him all evening. And she was certainly eager, or started out so, blushing a little as she undid his pants and took him sloppily between her pretty red lips.

But as she sucked and sucked and his cock remained stubbornly limp and unresponsive, the blue eyes began to look more and more hurt when she came up for air. Finally, she stopped entirely and leaned back, wiping her mouth.

"Would ye like me to take off me dress?" she asked, looking up at him uncertainly.

He had on (somewhat dubious) authority that the sight of a woman's naked body could arouse any man with a pulse. "That might help," he agreed. She nodded, and began to unbutton her dress, standing up to slip out of it and lay it neatly on the chair next to her bed.

"Can ye help me with me corset?" she asked, turning her back to him and lifting up her hair with one arm to give him easier access to the laces. It made a very pretty picture, he reflected: the tumble of bright curls gleaming in the candlelight, white arm raised and head tilted ever so slightly, still as a statue, while his fingers worked quickly down the laces.

When he had finished with the corset, she set it aside as carefully as she had her dress and raised her thin shift over her head, tossing her curls over her naked breasts as she laid the shift down with her other clothes. Then she straightened up and stepped forward, shyly, to unbutton his shirt, pushing him back on the bed as it fell open and climbing on top of him, long hair tickling his chest as she leaned down to kiss him.

"Better?" she murmured against his mouth.

But the truth was, not really. After a few more minutes of fruitless kissing and caressing, Holmes struggled upright.

"I really am very sorry, miss," he stammered. "But it seems my head is not in it tonight. Thank you for your, ah, efforts."

"Did I do something wrong?" she asked, eyes filling with tears.

She was, perhaps, not so experienced in these matters as he had predicted from her forward manner with him in the tavern, and he groped for the words to reassure her. "No, no, you are a very beautiful girl. I am merely distracted, that is all."

She did not look convinced and he buttoned up his trousers and beat a hasty retreat with his shirt still undone, reflecting that this sex business was perhaps unsuitable for people of his rational disposition.

Still, the abortive attempt had not provided him with the data he sought, so a few weeks later he sought out the help of one of Whitechapel's most senior prostitutes, a gap-toothed Irishwoman named Nan O'Connell, who had been walking the streets for as long as anyone could remember, probably longer than he had been alive.

She greeted his request with incredulous laughter, but accepted his fee (twice her usual amount) eagerly and rode him like one of the crown prince's prized racehorses in her dingy little room across from the butcher's.

Curiosity satisfied, he felt no need for further experimentation for more than ten years, until Irene Adler swept into his life and turned it upside down.

*****

"Sherlock Holmes!" Irene exclaimed, her face lighting up in a broad smile that might even have been genuine. "I thought it might be you again."

"Likewise," he said, stepping into the room. "You've done well for yourself, I see," he said, gesturing at the gold inlaid walls, delicate crystal vases, and large four poster bed.

"Yes, I have, haven't I?" She permitted herself a little sashay as she crossed to the small table in the center of the room. "Tea?" she asked.

"Thank you," Holmes said, taking the cup she proffered and swirling the liquid gently to catch the aroma. A fine Chinese green, delicate as the cup that held it, no hint of laudanum. Irene poured herself a cup and added sugar, stirring it in with a pretty little silver spoon.

"Your signature was all over this case, you know," he said, eying her carefully.

"Was it?" she said, taking a dainty sip.

Holmes took a sip from his own cup. Delicious. "You really ought to be more careful."

"What, and deprive myself of the pleasure of being tracked down by you?"

"So it was deliberate, then?"

"You disappoint me," she said, looking at him sideways through her lashes. "I thought you would have known by now that I never do anything by accident."

"Well then, to what purpose have I been lured?"

Irene smiled and took another sip of her tea. "I really haven't decided yet."

Holmes set down his cup. "Unfortunately, madam, I have."

Swiftly, he rounded the table, and clapped a handcuff around her right wrist. A little tea sloshed onto her saucer.

Irene rolled her eyes, setting the cup and saucer carefully back onto the table with her remaining free hand. "Really, must you be so tiresome? Didn't you try this once before?"

"Not quite," he said. "Last time, you see, I was foolish enough to use both cuffs on you. This time," he continued, snapping the second cuff onto his own left wrist, "I am attempting an alternate solution."

Her eyes flashed. "An interesting solution indeed."

"And a more successful one, I hope. Shall we go?"

She raised her free hand to stop him. "A moment, my dear Holmes. I do believe I am making up my mind about what I intend to do with you."

"What you intend to do with me, madam?"

"Yes," she said distractedly. "Yes," she repeated more firmly, baring her teeth in a distinctly predatory smile and fingering his jacket with her free hand. "Oh, I have definitely decided."

"By all means, enlighten me," he said, leaning back to escape the suddenly overpowering scent of her (French, expensive) perfume.

"I was an actress, after all, and one of my past... acquaintances quite enjoyed the occasional role play," she said, running a long, graceful finger over the metal cuffs that bound them together, brushing ever so gently against the skin of his wrist. "Especially officers of the law," she murmured, stepping forward to press against him.

"Well, madam," Holmes said, struggling to extricate himself from her suddenly firm grasp, "Seeing as I am an officer of the law, or at least the nearest thing to it, it would hardly be role play, would it?"

"My dear Holmes, I was usually the officer," Irene said, twining her free arm around his neck and pulling him down so their foreheads rested against each other. "I do make an excellent policewoman," she said softly, pressing her mouth to his. "Care to see?" she asked, a little breathlessly, when she released him.

Holmes's breath came in short, shallow gasps. "You mean to suggest that you pretended to be a policewoman while performing the act of-" He sputtered to a stop.

Irene's laughter pealed through the room. "Really, Holmes, are you so innocent? Perhaps the role of schoolteacher would be more appropriate!"

"Perhaps so," Holmes said distractedly. A series of startling and intriguing images had sprung into his mind, made all the more vivid by the warm curves of Irene's body against his own. Perhaps Nan o'Connell had not given him his money's worth after all.

He reached out to pluck a pin from Irene's hair and started to poke at the lock on the cuffs.

Irene watched for a moment, then snatched the pin from his grasp. "Allow me," she said, swiftly unlocking the cuffs. "Now take off your clothes and get on the bed at once."

*****

The ensuing hours were among the most enlightening of Holmes's life, and he scarcely minded when, after collapsing at last in sweaty, sated exhaustion, he awoke to find Irene gone not just from the hotel but indeed from England entirely.

It was soon after that he found himself eying Watson with a newly appraising eye.

After all, if one was to understand thoroughly the passions that drove mankind, it was necessary to experience all permutations of these passions, even if it meant succumbing to depravity. It wasn't as if he had ever let prevailing social mores, or laws, hinder his quest for knowledge in any other realm of human experience.

Moreover, if he was resolved to descend into such gross indecency, then surely Watson was the logical man with whom to do it.

Watson was discreet. He was loyal. They already shared rooms, so nobody would think anything odd of them spending the night together. And even the most impartial of observers could not overlook what a very fine-looking man Watson was. Why, Holmes himself had on more than one occasion caught himself in distinctly irrational contemplation of the topic.

The question was, how to raise the matter? Yes, that was the rub.

There was no question of Watson propositioning him so frankly as Irene Adler, or even poor Bess so many years earlier. Nor could he hand over a bag of coins and a lewd request, as he had with old Nan. Bouquets were likewise out of the question - Watson was no maid to be courted - and so, he felt, was the application of large quantities of alcohol. Indeed, there were certain lines one did not cross, even in the interest of scientific investigation, and Holmes felt instinctively that this was one of them.

The only option left, it seemed, was to wait for an opportune moment and confront Watson directly with the idea.

Of course, this was not to say that such a proposal should be announced suddenly. No, some preparation must be undertaken to ease the way.

He could start with small, seemingly accidental, touches at first, to gauge Watson's reaction. This would be simple enough to achieve, and could be built upon with stronger cues - more lingering touches, prolonged eye contact, perhaps even a discussion of some sodomite's case at the dinner table, all casual and seemingly unrelated, yet carefully choreographed to determine Watson's receptivity.

Unfortunately, he did not adequately calculate Watson's quickness into his preparations. In the middle of their discussion one evening of the unfortunate Edward Bristleswaith, sodomite, Watson suddenly frowned and stopped, mid-sentence, putting down his knife and fork.

"Is that what all this has been about?" he demanded.

"What all what has been about?" Holmes asked, taking a bite of his roast.

"All the bumping into me and the long, lingering looks and the touching!"

Holmes chewed resolutely on his meat.

"It is, isn't it?" Watson said, throwing down his napkin. "For God's sake, man, what kind of fellow do you think I am?"

Holmes swallowed. "It is only in the interest of scientific inquiry, you understand," he said, starting to cut another bite.

"Scientific inquiry?" Watson repeated incredulously.

Holmes sighed and put down his own fork and knife. "I am merely suggesting," he said, "that in order to have the fullest and most thorough knowledge of the passions that drive the human race, it is helpful to experience them."

"And you've settled on me as your subject, have you?"

"Not at all, my dear friend." Holmes paused. "I had hoped," he said, "that you would consent to be my partner in these explorations."

"Oh, Holmes," Watson said, shoving back from the table, his face a mask of frustration. He rubbed at his eyes and sat there for a moment, evidently struggling with conflicting emotions.

Discreetly, Holmes picked up his knife and fork and resumed cutting the meat, but as he was about to put another bite in his mouth, Watson raised his head back up to look at him.

"Once," he said firmly, "and then we never speak of it again." He winced. "I have no idea how you manage to talk me into these mad notions of yours."

"You may, of course, name the time and place-" Holmes began.

"Finish your dinner," Watson ordered, standing up and collecting his plate. "We will get it over with before I change my mind."

Holmes complied.

When he stepped into the bedroom a few moments later, Watson was sitting on the bed, stripping off his stockings.

"Please tell me that you at least know what you are doing," he said, looking up as Holmes came in.

"If I did, we wouldn't be attempting this experiment, would we?" Holmes said, unbuttoning his cuffs. "That is," he amended hastily, catching Watson's furious gaze, "I do. Theoretically."

"Theoretically," Watson moaned, holding his head. "God help me." He straightened up and turned to face Holmes. "We will be following my lead, do you understand?"

Holmes's fingers paused on the second button. "Do you mean to say you-"

"More than you, obviously," Watson snapped. "Though it was little more than schoolboy fumblings."

Holmes blinked. "May I inquire-"

"Afghanistan, where else?" Watson said, waving his hand dismissively. "Too many young men all crammed together, hungry for women who weren't there. Things happened."

"If it was not to your liking, we needn't-"

Watson smiled faintly. "Thank you, but having persuaded me in the first place, you will not dissuade me so easily."

"Very well. I submit myself to your will."

Watson's brows raised. He sat for a moment on the edge of the bed, watching as Holmes finished unbuttoning his shirt. "No, leave it on," he said as Holmes began to take it off. For a moment longer, he sat still, appearing to collect himself, then stood up abruptly and crossed the few feet of space between them, took Holmes by the collar and shoved him up against the wall.

Holmes made a surprised grunt as his back collided with the unforgiving surface, but before he could say anything, Watson grabbed his face in both hands and kissed him soundly.

For a moment, the world blinked out of existence and the only thing that was, was Watson.

Then other sensations began to intrude. The grind of hips, sharper and more angular than Irene's. The pressure of big, callused hands against his skull. The taste of the wine they'd shared at dinner on Watson's tongue as it slid between his lips.

Slid with practiced ease between his lips.

Holmes frowned, and pulled back, bumping his head on the wall. "Schoolboy fumblings?" he said.

Watson made an exasperated noise, halfway between a sigh and a snort, and covered Holmes's mouth again with his own, pushing him harder against the wall, hands sliding roughly around his body to pull them closer.

His friend was already hard, Holmes noticed with interest, and he pushed back experimentally with his own hips to increase the friction, earning a stifled moan from Watson and sending a jolt of pleasure through his own body, sharp as electricity.

"Belt!" Watson hissed, stepping around to switch places against the wall. A few quick tugs opened it and then Holmes's hand was wrapped around his friend's cock, and Watson's eyes fluttered closed as his pent-up breath escaped in a great sigh.

It was stranger than Holmes had expected to have his hand wrapped around someone else's cock instead of his own. The angle was altogether different and the feedback less immediate, and more subtle. A hitch of breath, a sigh, a flutter of golden lashes, these must be his clues.

He gave a few tentative dry strokes, then, pleased with Watson's reaction, slicked his hand down with spit and began in earnest.

"Is that good?" he asked, after a minute.

"Powers of deduction failed you?" Watson managed to gasp, a faint, wry smile quirking his mouth.

"Not at all," Holmes said. "I was simply confirming an observation."

Watson gave a short huff of amusement that quickly disappeared into a moan. He looked so beautiful, flushed and panting, up against the wall that Holmes moved forward impulsively to kiss him.

Watson's eyes snapped open in surprise, body going stiff, and Holmes pulled back, nervously. "Was that-" He began, then felt his whole body flood with relief as Watson smiled and kissed him back, gently at first, then harder, hungrier.

Some strange electricity was crackling between them, shoving them forward, and suddenly they were crossing the room, fumbling frantically with buttons and belts and shedding the rest of their clothes on the way.

The kiss broke with a pop of air as Watson landed on the edge of the bed and Holmes settled himself between his knees. "May I?" he asked, voice thick and strange even to his own ears.

Watson nodded once, and Holmes leaned down to take him in.

For a moment he felt himself gag against the sensation, but then Watson's hand was on his own, guiding it down to encircle the base, and after that it was easier, the sound of his friend's soft moans and gasps of pleasure driving him on.

Finally, he heard Watson gasp "Holmes!" - rough, urgent sound - and then his body shuddered convulsively, pumping deep into Holmes's throat. Instinctively, he swallowed, feeling Watson convulse again, and pulled off as Watson collapsed backwards onto the bed to climb up and lie next to him, pushing down on his own throbbing cock through the rough fabric of his trousers to settle it.

"Not bad for your first try," Watson laughed, still a little breathless, when the rise and fall of his chest had slowed. He looked flushed and disheveled and utterly beautiful, skin shining with a thin sheen of sweat in the candlelight.

"Exactly how serious were you about only doing this once?" Holmes asked, carefully schooling his voice into neutrality.

"Completely," Watson said. "But I rather think you've changed my mind. Anyway," he added, rolling onto his side and sliding an arm around Holmes to pull him closer, "it's your turn now."