Watson was no stranger to pain; he had even been shot before, and had the uneven gait to show for it. That didn't prepare him for the agony of being shot once again, however superficially, in the midst of the ridiculous affair with the three Garridebs (two of whom were impostors). But he thought afterward that he'd go through the whole sorry episode again, pain and fear and all, merely for the chance to witness Holmes' reaction a second time.
The second bullet fired by 'Killer' Evans had hit Watson's leg, passing through muscular tissue and exiting in a remarkably clean fashion. Watson had fallen with a cry as Holmes whipped around to watch him crumple. The mask had cracked and Holmes had panicked, threatening death on Evans. When Watson had regained the breath to shout that he was all right, that he would live, Holmes had settled for striking Evans over the head with his revolver (for why actually fire a revolver upon anything except a defenseless wall? But no matter). Even through the pain, Watson's heart had warmed at such passionate defense of his person by his friend.
And now, after a visit to the hospital for cleaning and bandaging of Watson's wound, they had returned to Baker Street, so that Watson might rest.
"Are you quite sure that you should be drinking?" Holmes said for the second time.
"I'm a doctor, Holmes; I am self-prescribing a pain remedy," Watson said matter-of-factly, pouring himself a measure of scotch. He settled back upon his bed, which had been the only surface clean enough of debris to allow him to recline and elevate his leg properly. Raising an eyebrow at Holmes, he sipped peaceably at his drink.
"As you say," Holmes muttered, shifting on the edge of Watson's bed. His fingers drummed a complex rhythm upon his knee and his eyes darted around the room, settling briefly on unknown points of interest before moving on.
Watson watched him for a moment and then set down his drink to grab Holmes by the hand, simultaneously halting his fingers and gaining leverage to pull. Holmes' eyes widened comically as he was unbalanced into Watson's chest. His free hand flew forward to keep him from landing on top of Watson's injury.
"What are you--" Holmes managed before Watson kissed him. The rest of his indignation was breathed out sharply into Watson's mouth.
But Holmes could never be led, and he forced himself away. "Watson!" He tried to stand but was arrested by Watson's hand on his arm. "What the devil has gotten into you?"
"I believe," Watson said calmly, "that this can be explained as a reaction to your outburst of caring, compounded by the aftereffects of acute emotional and physical stress."
"What a relief," Holmes snapped, attempting to jerk his arm from Watson's grip. Watson's grip was iron, though, and he was stronger.
"Do you never feel a need for affection? Closeness? The presence of another to reaffirm that you are alive and human and whole?"
Holmes looked away, the line of his body tensing. "It's not in my nature to require such things."
"Really?" Watson asked. "In such a dangerous line of work as yours? Are you never pushed to such ends by the thrill of the chase? The shock of danger? The high of success? You're man, Holmes, not machine."
"Is that your considered medical diagnosis?" But Holmes had stopped pulling away. Instead he hovered, no farther away and no closer, on the knife's edge.
"Obvious symptoms of excitement due to stress: heightened perceptions and reactions," Watson murmured. "Increased heart rate. Dilation of pupils. After the stress has passed, a sense of elation, a humming of the nerves. One frequently requires an outlet for the excess energy."
Holmes blinked. "You believe my nerves are humming, Doctor?"
"I can feel your pulse through your jacket."
"Well observed, Watson." His voice was hoarse and he was staring at Watson's face.
Watson slowly pulled, his own nerves singing as Holmes allowed himself to be drawn closer. "It was elementary."
"How do you propose I treat this malady?"
Watson looked at his lips. "I recommend a period of vigorous activity."
"How long, Doctor?"
"I'll let you know when I am satisfied."
"I have never had the honour of such an attentive physician," Holmes mused, his hands braced on either side of Watson's ribs.
"I rarely make house calls." Watson started on Holmes' waistcoat buttons.
Holmes shifted his weight, carefully straddling Watson's legs without touching his bandage, moving enough to free his hands. His first touch on Watson's body was hesitant and light, fingers gliding along the edge of his already-opened waistcoat, before he finally set to the buttons of Watson's shirt. "I'll have to do my best to be an exemplary patient." He leaned forward to lick Watson's exposed neck.
Watson tangled his fingers in Holmes' wild hair, his eyes closing against the new sensation. "I must warn you, my fee is exorbitant."
Holmes sat back suddenly, casting off his coat and waistcoat and unknotting his tie to throw upon the floor in a pile. "I should have expected no less from you, Watson."
Watson smirked and grabbed Holmes by the back of the neck, yanking him down into another kiss. It was a much more productive affair when Holmes cooperated, and Watson expressed his appreciation by licking his way into Holmes' mouth. Holmes pushed him by the shoulders and turned around the assault, giving as good as he got, and they kissed for a while, duelling with lips, tongue and teeth.
But Watson enjoyed pressing the advantage whenever he could, and seized Holmes' hips, pulling him sharply downward and grinding upward at the same time. Holmes gasped into his mouth and when Watson repeated the action while simultaneously pulling up his shirt-tails and smoothing fingers along the skin of his back, he moaned.
There was no longer enough air, and they broke the kiss, panting and sighing. Holmes pressed his face into the juncture of Watson's neck and shoulder, hands questing down Watson's front to open his shirt and touch his chest underneath. Watson traced invisible patterns in the small of Holmes' back, alternately squeezing his eyes shut in bliss and staring sightlessly at the ceiling, and they moved hotly, incessantly against each other.
Holmes' hands suddenly acquired a sense of purpose and dragged down the plane of Watson's stomach, short nails scraping lightly against the sensitive skin under his navel before seizing the fastening of his trousers. He opened them quite deftly, his mouth sucking bites into Watson's collarbone, and seized him in a firm grip as soon as he was freed from his clothing.
Watson bucked up violently, gasping. "Holmes!" he shouted.
Holmes said nothing but gave him a firm stroke before releasing him. Watson writhed, but Holmes was undoing his own trousers and then skin met skin, hot and hard.
"God," Watson said faintly.
Holmes pushed himself off of Watson's chest and thrust, and Watson watched his eyes flutter shut at the feeling.
"Yes," Holmes agreed, his voice a cracked whisper.
"Come on," said Watson, urging him. He arched his back again, seeking more contact.
"You lie still," Holmes said suddenly, chastising him for not minding his injury, and held down Watson's hips as he began to move.
Watson forgot all about having been shot, and threw his head back into the pillow. Holmes' fingers dug into his skin, marking him with sinful bruises to look at in the mirror later, and thrust against him, slow and thoroughly at first, but picking up speed as he lost himself in the sensations, moaning and moving quicker and more shallowly. Watson strained against him, wanting more.
"Harder," he choked out, and Holmes removed one hand from his hip to brace himself on the headboard, which began to knock against the wall.
Pressure built in Watson's groin, a general tightening of his nerves that made his leg twinge faintly but not enough to care about. His breath came faster; he closed his eyes against the onslaught of sensation and gripped the sheets with both hands. On a particularly vicious thrust, he climaxed, Holmes' name on his lips.
Holmes thrust a few more times and then made a wordless noise, shuddering and climaxing against Watson's stomach. He bowed his head, tension draining from his body, and then half-rolled, half-fell off of Watson's lap, collapsing onto the empty side of the bed.
Watson drifted a while, melting bonelessly into the mattress, and then woke to the sensation of semen cooling upon his belly. Holmes was sprawled next to him, half-dressed and snoring. There was a handkerchief on the nightstand, which he cleaned himself off with, feeling sedate and thoughtful. His leg gave a twinge, possibly bleeding. He would worry about it later, he thought, and fell asleep.
When Watson woke again, he was alone in the bed. He lay still a moment, listening for the inevitable noise that came when Holmes was moving about and doing anything, but his room was silent. He sat up gingerly, unsurprised now to find the place empty, and set about fixing his rumpled clothing and picking up his cane.
Holmes was in his own room, in a chair that faced the windows. Smoke curled up from a cigarette in his fingers, his arm hanging haphazardly off of the side of the chair.
"That doesn't smell like tobacco," Watson said, and blinked when his friend startled at his voice.
"You're quite skittish," he observed as he moved to sit in the other chair. Holmes glared at him and took a long draw on his mood-altering cigarette, blowing out smoke in a harsh stream.
"How's your leg?" Holmes asked in an artless move to change the subject.
"Still attached, thanks. What the devil's wrong with you?"
"Nothing more than normal," said Holmes, scratching at the edge of a fingernail with undue attention.
Watson watched him; he was twitchy, fidgeting like an animal in a cage. "You're bothered about us..." he trailed off, gesturing vaguely in the direction of his bed. "Look, it was nothing terribly strange. Just a bit of fun, right? These things do happen."
The line of Holmes' body was tense. He stubbed out his cigarette rather violently and sprang out of his chair. "Leave it, Watson," he said, sweeping out of the room. A moment later Watson saw him through the window, marching down the street with his hands in his pockets.
"Well," said Watson aloud, letting the drapes drop back in front of the window. "I suppose that won't be happening again." A shame, really. His leg wound gave a sudden twinge and he limped back to his own room for another scotch and some quiet reflection on how best to apologize to Holmes.
Watson's apology, he thought, was bloody inspired: he found Holmes a new case. He could hardly suppress his grin when Holmes stumbled back home several hours later, and dangled the letter in front of him where he lay boneless upon his bed.
"Wha's this, then?" Holmes frowned in concentration and grabbed at the letter, successfully catching a corner of the paper. Watson released it.
"You've been at an opium den," he accused.
"Yes," slurred Holmes, heaving himself upright and opening the letter. "And someday I'll catch that damned dragon, too." He chuckled at his own joke but gave up quickly, squinting at the letter. "What is this, bloody Arabic? My Arabic is horrible, Watson. You know that."
It was clear, English handwriting; Watson extracted the letter from his fingers again. "Perhaps I'll continue this conversation when you've sobered up," he suggested.
"Well, Mother, if you think that's best...."
Watson didn't know how he continued to associate with this infuriating man. And yet. "It's a case. There's a missing diamond."
"There's hundreds," Holmes scoffed.
"Well," said Watson thoughtfully, "this one in particular is the Darya-ye Noor from the Persian crown jewels, and the Emperor of Persia is understandably quite concerned."
Holmes blinked. "Right. I'm going to sleep for several hours, and then you're going to give me back that letter, Watson."
"Sweet dreams," said Watson, leaving him to it.
The diamond had disappeared in England, hence the Emperor's commissioning of Holmes to discover its whereabouts and identify the thief (Scotland Yard had unsurprisingly not been very useful in the investigation thus far, though Clarky did provide them with one good lead). The Emperor had been in London three months, with his two highest-ranking wives and his three favourite concubines in attendance.
It took two weeks to conclude the investigation, during which time Holmes impersonated two policemen and a smuggler and employed his old woman disguise no fewer than four times. In the end, the thief wasn't the lowest-ranking concubine, as Holmes had initially assumed, although a false lead did cast her under suspicion for a few days. It was Watson who finally deduced that it was in fact the first wife who had stolen the jewel (granted, with the aid of information that he had acquired and then forgotten to share with Holmes). Only one tussle occurred during the diamond's recovery from a gem dealer in Christchurch, and that was with the first wife; overall quite a successful case, as far as Watson was concerned. The Emperor tried to reward Holmes with an uncut ruby the size of his fist, but was talked out of it. Watson, thinking of the rent (and the horses, a little), regretted this, but it wasn't payment meant for him, anyway.
They returned to Baker Street quite late and quite drunk after the celebratory feast the Emperor had ordered.
"Those Persians certainly know how to celebrate," Watson observed as they slowly climbed the stairs.
"Yes. Shame the first wife looked rather out of sorts," said Holmes, opening his door and stopping on the threshold.
"I can't imagine why. And to think she nearly got away with it and pinned the whole thing on the concubine. The poor girl was hardly sixteen."
"Women are terrifying creatures, Watson. I can't imagine marrying one, let alone five."
"He's only married two of those ones," Watson pointed out. "But I'm told there are four more wives at home and another fifteen concubines."
Holmes shuddered. "My skin crawls to contemplate it. They'll have poisoned him within five years, mark my words." His expression changed as he considered Watson. "But you've saved him for now, Watson. Excellent work."
Watson drew even with Holmes at his doorway. "You would have figured it out first, had you been in possession of all the facts."
"Against my best efforts, I cannot always be in possession of all the necessary facts," Holmes said thoughtfully. "It's reassuring to know that someone else may defend in the face of such weaknesses."
Watson smiled, charmed. "Nightcap?" he asked.
"I believe the brandy on my end-table is calling our names." They walked into Holmes' room, picking through the disarray (worse since the last fortnight of ceaseless investigation) to the chairs by the window. Watson took his customary seat with a sigh and gladly accepted his drink from Holmes.
"By the way, Watson," said Holmes, raising his glass, "apology accepted."
Watson flushed a bit at the bald uncovering of his scheme, but raised his glass back. "I'm glad for it."
Holmes was looking studiously at the far wall. "I actually rather enjoyed it."
Watson smiled. "You did seem to be at the time."
"Just a bit of fun, you said?" Holmes was still studying the wall, twirling his glass absently.
Watson hummed agreement.
Holmes sipped his brandy and gave Watson a sideways glance. "Repeatable?"
Watson shifted in his chair, slouching comfortably and grinning up at the ceiling. "Now there's an idea."
"I know most would call it shockingly improper," Holmes began to ramble, "but obviously I've never been much for propriety, and you're a bit of a rake in any case, and I do rather think Mrs. Hudson suspects a strange association in the first place--"
Holmes was cut off in his babbling because Watson had set down his glass, stood up, and hauled him upright by his lapels.
"Holmes," he said, "it would most likely be best if you shut up."
"That's fair," said Holmes, and Watson kissed him.
"And I'm not a rake."
"Perhaps your mother thinks that, old stick, but I bet she's the only one."
Watson saw the instant that Holmes realized this conversation wasn't conducive to further activities of a more engaging nature, and he pressed his lips together against a smile as his friend changed tacks.
"Your room or mine?"
Watson smoothed his hands down Holmes' rumpled (more rumpled) lapels. "Yours is likely full of loose papers and pipe ash, so let's use mine."
Since they were both still (rather) drunk, Holmes arched his eyebrow and caught Watson's roaming hands. "You're a bit irresistible when you're using your brain, you know."
Watson might have made a comment about how they typically only let intelligent people become doctors, thanks, but instead he turned to steer Holmes toward his door and said, "Now you've had a taste of how everybody else feels when they watch you at work."
"Perhaps I have a promising career ahead as a rake, should I ever tire of detective work," Holmes said thoughtfully as Watson guided him to the rumpled bed, biting his neck.
"Rakes aren't known for their mental acuity," Watson said, shoving him down onto the mattress and standing to unknot his tie.
Holmes peeled off his waistcoat and threw it on the floor. "That's why it's so startlingly exciting whenever you display your intelligence, Watson. The incongruity is like an electric shock."
"Shut up," said Watson, descending on him. Now that his gunshot wound was improved, he planned to take full advantage.
"All right," said Holmes weakly as Watson ripped his shirt open.
This would, Watson thought, be a very mutually satisfying arrangement. Just a bit of fun though, he reminded himself as Holmes moaned.