When the famous explorer Zygmund Gerstmann finally departed 221b Baker Street, Watson fully expected Holmes to burst into his examination rooms, decrying the man as a charlatan, or, although this was much less likely, celebrating his remarkable discoveries. Neither happened.
For a while, Watson tried to convince himself that he welcomed the lack of interruption. But curiosity soon got the better of him. He found Holmes slouched in an armchair in the sitting room, an unidentifiable object in his hands. Of the rest of Gerstmann’s spoils, which he had lugged into Baker Street in a steamer trunk, there was no sign.
“Well,” Watson demanded, pulling up a chair opposite, “did he really discover the fountain of youth, or whatever it was he was after in deepest, darkest Peru?”
“Bolivia,” Holmes corrected mildly. “And it was the Lost City of the Jaguar Kings.”
“Ah yes, the Jaguar Kings, how could I forget? So did he?”
“No, of course not. All a load of poppycock—as a proper reading of the sources could have told him, without him having to spend thousands of pounds on a disastrous expedition.”
Holmes’ words were as incisive as ever, but his expression was distracted. He turned the object he held over, as if judging its weight. It was a stone, Watson could see now—a grey stone more translucent than ordinary granite, but more opaque than quartz.
“He’s left you something, though.”
“Yes.” Holmes seemed to come back to himself a bit. He pulled himself out of his slouch and placed the stone on the low table in front of him. It seemed to glow slightly, though that might have been the effect of the late afternoon sun through the blinds. “Gerstmann claimed he’d made first contact with an Amazonian tribe. This is an image—perhaps better called a fetish—of their fertility god. Or, not fertility exactly, but a kind of South American Bacchus, deity of pleasure in all its forms. He went to a good deal of trouble to bring it home, apparently—a hundred naked warriors chasing him with poisoned spears, the usual thing.”
“In other words, he stole it, the natives were understandably put out, and tried to get it back, or at least put an end to the annoying explorer ruining their best parties.”
“Not to put too fine a point on it, yes.”
“But why’s he given it to you, if he went to so much trouble to get it?”
“You have hit upon the intriguing thing at last, old chap. It seems that once he got it back to London, Gerstmann found he couldn’t abide having the stone in his house. Gave him queer dreams, he said. The sort of foolishness he hadn’t thought about since his school days. You know what he means, I’m sure, my dear.” Holmes arched an elegant eyebrow and slid Watson a knowing look.
Watson refused to take the bait. “So he’s brought it to you to solve its mystery?”
“But surely the dreams, the thoughts, that’s all balderdash, too?”
Holmes didn’t answer. His gaze had returned to the stone. It wasn’t entirely smooth, as Watson had thought at first. Now that he looked at it more closely, he saw indentations, or perhaps protuberances, on the stone’s variegated surface. Perhaps once, a very long time ago, these had been lips, breasts, a cock—worn to nubs by countless hands.
“Touch it,” said Holmes. His voice sounded odd—a bit thick, or faraway.
Watson obeyed, leaning forward in his chair. He almost started back when his fingers met the stone’s surface, however. It was warm—not as warm as living flesh, but not as cold as stone should be either, even one that had been cupped in Holmes’ palms. The undulations of its surface, those worn down limbs or organs, were inviting, almost asking to be stroked.
Around him, as his fingers wandered over the stone, the room seemed to grow humid, as if fogged with their breath. The light coming through the slatted blinds was like sunlight filtered through leaves; he wondered why he’d never noticed the resemblance before. And there was a smell. At least he thought there was a smell. Nothing unpleasant, but nothing habitual to their London rooms—loamy, riparian.
“Holmes?” Watson said, not sure what question he asked.
Holmes’ hand closed over his, reassurance, warning, or something else. A faint flute song teased Watson’s ears, a memory of Afghanistan, maybe, though not a conscious one. He dragged in a breath that seemed full of a pungent, intoxicating smoke. It stirred him in unexpected ways.
“Holmes?” he said again, and this time he could hear the arousal in his own voice. Had the stone done this? Was he in Baker Street, or had he been transported to some Amazonian tributary, caught up in some timeless ritual. His conscious mind scoffed, while his prick hardened almost painfully.
Then Holmes was pulling him away from the stone with an urgency that was almost violent. To Watson’s relief, the smells, the sounds, the cling of humidity, faded as soon as he stopped touching the stone. But not the desire.
At least Holmes seemed to feel it too. He pushed Watson back into the chair, straddling him, fumbling with the buttons of their trousers. “Is—?” Watson gasped. Is this real? he meant to say, but Holmes silenced him with a fierce kiss. Questions forgotten, Watson pressed up to meet him, Holmes’ weight across his lap both frustrating and delicious. Finally, Holmes managed to free both their cocks, sacrificing a few buttons to the project, and stroked them together in one hand, while the other pinned Watson to the chair. Faster, Watson wanted to say, or harder, but his mouth was still trapped beneath Holmes’, so he tried to communicate his needs with the passion of his kiss. In this he seemed to succeed, or perhaps it was just that their needs were mutual, because Holmes’ rhythm grew more rapid, more insistent, until the friction of his hand, and of their cocks rubbing against each other, proved too much, or just enough, and they climaxed almost simultaneously.
In the tiny part of him that remained separate from the experience, Watson was relieved to find that there was nothing unfamiliar in the wave of pleasure that he rode, nothing of the Amazon, or of ancient ritual—unless one counted the strong salt smell of their spunk, which whispered that all rivers lead to the sea.
“You don’t think…” Watson murmured, when his breathing steadied. The armchair was not nearly big enough for two grown men. Holmes’ knees dug painfully into Watson’s hips, and his face was very close to Watson’s. At the moment, though, Watson found the proximity comforting.
“That our passion was inspired by the stone? Don’t be ridiculous. You’re as gullible as a society matron at a mesmerist’s sometimes, Watson.”
“But the dreams, the queer thoughts?”
“My own invention, I’m afraid. Think of it as my own experiment in the power of suggestion. And quite an enjoyable experiment it was, too, if I do say so myself.”
At this, Watson shoved Holmes off of the chair, and received some satisfaction from the audible impact of his arse against the carpet. “You scoundrel. So Prof. Gerstmann didn’t give it to you for safekeeping, to solve its mystery?”
“Professor Gerstmann gave it to me as a memento of his expedition—a harmless stone from the Amazon riverbed.” Holmes gestured to the stone, still sitting on the low table, its translucent glow faded to a dull slate. Yet something about it still held the eye. As they watched, a tiny bit of mica on the surface caught the last beam of the setting sun through the blinds, and winked. Holmes’ bravado faltered slightly. “Or so he said.”