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Observe My Dear

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Watson's hands aren't pretty.

His fingers are blunt, his palms too wide and at the moment they are smeared with newspaper ink and scattered toast crumbs. His right thumb nail is cracked from an energetic encounter with some thugs the night before, there is a milk spot floating on the quick of his pinkie.

His hands most certainly, are not pretty. They are the hands of a soldier and a surgeon. A fighter and a friend. And sometimes, when he touches Holmes, whether it's suturing his cuts or squeezing his arm affectionately ...

They are something else entirely.

~*~

Watson's eyes, however, are another matter.

Holmes enjoys examining them without attracting Watson's notice as this is a challenge, to observe objects that can easily observe you back. The irises are grayish-blue, ringed with a warm shade of brown, scattered with silver flecks. Not an unusual combination, but if the poets are to be believed and the eyes are the windows to the soul, then Watson's soul must possess a unique color all its own.

Holmes tries to catalog what he sees in there and finds it difficult but not impossible. Watson's eyes sparkle with exasperation and excitement, turn warm with concern or embarrassment before showing red heat when he is angry, engaged against the criminals they fight.

Yet there is another tone that shades Watson's eyes on occasion. A melting adoration, tainted by confusion and it comes and goes in a flash, but never before Holmes catches it. How could he miss it?

It's always directed at him.

~*~

Watson is bothered greatly by his injured leg, not only by the physical pain but the limits he imagines it places on him. He is silently self-conscious and Holmes knows the fact that his cane is also a sword comforts him more than words or morphine ever could.

You are not helpless it tells him. You are not less than you were.

Sometimes, after Watson bathes, Holmes gets a glimpse of his bare leg, the great scars that pock and circle his withered thigh. He measures the ragged lines of the battle surgeon's scalpel cutting through skin and sinew during that desperate attempt to save Watson's life. They're crisscrossed by dozens of suture marks, marking pain like a calendar nicked into a prison wall.

Holmes tries - and fails - to view this all objectively. He is broken by compassion for all Watson has suffered; he's overwhelmed with pride for what he's accomplished in spite of it all.

He never loves Watson more than when he limps out of his room, impeccably dressed, cane in hand and ready to go. Once outside, he moves easily enough and Holmes feels nothing but honored to be at Watson's side.

~*~

His mouth never twists with annoyance, Holmes notes, it flattens into a single, dignified line. Watson likes to maintain a gentlemanly air, even when he wants to throttle Holmes and Holmes likes to make Watson's mouth lose its composure, if only for observational purposes.

Nothing works better to this end than holding up the morocco case and asking ... "Would you like some?"

Watson gapes, then snarls, oh look, there's the twist ... careful old boy, those lips might fall off and what a shame that would be. Now the frown, then the imploring curve as he quietly tries to explain to Holmes why injecting himself with illicit narcotics is a Very Bad Idea.

So sweet and not a clue that Holmes is only teasing him. Holmes finds himself never closer to kissing Watson than at that moment when Watson's soft, earnest mouth is begging him to stop, please stop, dear Holmes. How can I convince you?

Holmes has an answer to that, but it's one he knows will never cross his own, hungry lips.

~*~

He likes Watson's forearms. More than is healthy.

~*~

There are other minor matters to catalog. The curve of Watson's shoulders, the span of his waist and there's some detail about his knees Holmes thinks should be reflected on, if only for the sake of completeness.

It's quiet, rainy day in London. There is no case, there won't be a case for a few days and Holmes isn't in the mood for the needle. Watson is sitting beside him, reading the papers and it doesn't take long before he notices Holmes' restless observations.

"You're looking at me as if I have two heads again," Watson says, turning a page.

"You only have one," Holmes replies automatically. "I've counted."

The paper folds down. Watson peers at Holmes curiously, before breaking out into a wide grin. "Madman," he says fondly.

Holmes smiles back. "You don't know the half of it, my dear Watson."

~*~

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