Sherlock Holmes has long, dark, brown, curly hair. His voice hasn’t gained the height and cadence of femininity that adolescence will bring. His shoulders are slim, his eyelashes long and black. He wants to be a pirate. He wants to cut his hair.
‘But it’s so gorgeous!’ Violet Holmes squeals. Her eight-year-old daughter has vibrant eyes and blue clothes.
Gorgeous. The curls along Sherlock’s neck make him itch.
He walks outside to see the bees. The wind blows through his deep brown hair.
Sherlock Holmes has shorter, brown, curly hair. He has vanished to boarding school and banished his long curls with it. The school has a skirt option and a trousers option. The trousers hug strangely on his hips.
His voice is feathery and makes his ears ring.
His face is too soft and his thighs are free of hair. A letter from Mr. and Mrs. Holmes has arrived.
‘Our Dearest Sherlock,’ it starts.
Their letters never cease to include a ‘little girl’ or ‘brilliant young lady.’ They ask what college he wishes to attend. They name an all girls school.
His eyes darken, and his neck itches.
Sherlock Holmes has short, brown, curly hair. His dormitory has the faint smell of cigarettes. His breath tastes of black coffee. Morrissey’s voice murmurs over the record player.
He is drafting a long letter to Mrs. Violet Holmes.
He has rewritten the first sentence seventeen, now eighteen times. There is a tremor in his right foot. His eyes blink, long eyelashes meeting together. His voice is but one half of an octave deeper. His legs have a few dark brown hairs.
The paper stares back at him. His mother’s warm tone ruminates through his head, through the dormitory.
The veins in his hands are more visible.
The needle in his thigh is large, full of pale yellow, masculine oil. It is as though the injection brings light to his heart the moment the syringe pushes down. The blood from his leg that surfaces does not churn his stomach.
His voice is one octave deeper. His hair, always thick and curly and dark brown, has thinned a bit.
His breath smells of cigarettes. His eyes have dark circles. His skin has a lingering translusense. His mother craves her soft skinned, long haired daughter. Sherlock Holmes has killed her.
Sherlock Holmes has syringes anyway. Twenty quid is not much, after all. He is accustomed to needle jabs. His voice is two octaves deeper. It only requires a final snap choice late one night after Mrs. Violet Holmes sent a letter demanding he wear a dress to a cousin’s wedding. The subsequent phone call held a weight that the hot liquid shooting into his veins would soon erase.
The mattress beneath him sinks into the floor, but the chill of the concrete numbs in seconds. Deep, avoidant sleep overtakes his changing body. Perhaps he’ll sleep through the wedding.
Sherlock Holmes has translusense in his skin that is undeniable. The faded marks on his arms are the sole constant of the first half of his second decade. The days blend together and one day he receives a card from Mr. and Mrs. Holmes commemorating his 24th birthday. He’s been in London since finishing his Master’s, and the days have become full of emptiness.
And almost half a dozen overdoses.
Mycroft, ever the hero, attempted rehabilitation.
Violet, ever the devoted, attempted connection.
Siegfried, ever the rock, attempted acceptance.
Upon stumbling into a crowded crime scene, liquid cocaine spread through his body to keep him away from the hell of emptiness. His jaded thoughts left him to a murder scene in Soho and into the mix of reprimanding and appreciation from Detective Inspector (new, energetic, passionate, caring?) Lestrade. The case was so simple to the twenty-four year-old and so lost to the minds of the Met, so Sherlock Holmes had a business card and note as he walked home:
‘Call me back when you’re clean.’
A phone call is made to Violet and Siegfried the next morning. They support him, but the tone is hesitant.
Perhaps, Sherlock Holmes thought, perhaps I had imagined it.
Sherlock Holmes is 4 ½ years clean, 8 years flat-chested, 10 years on hormone therapy. Sherlock Holmes looks up from his microscope, and there he is.
John Watson. Army doctor. Yearning for adventure in the wake of trauma. A walking contradiction.
And he is beautiful.
Two months with John Watson by his side mark the first time Violet calls Sherlock Holmes her youngest son.
The marks in the crooks of his arms have faded beyond the scars on his chest.
Sherlock Holmes watches the crinkles on his flatmate’s face when he laughs and he feels his heart may burst.
Sherlock Holmes has never been kissed on the lips. The flutter of butterflies to match the flutter of shared skin is no more than a fantasy within his mind. The more time spent with the loving, handsome, greying army doctor has enlivened the fantasy with vigour and intensity.
John Watson’s lips are thin, pale, and patient.
The hope once thought of as an illusion, the desire once shoved into used syringes and dried, salty tears shed in sleep. These urges push into the forefront of his mind and scratch at his anxiety. Women come and go from phone calls and date nights and when John Watson returns to Baker Street each time, Sherlock Holmes thanks the universe for bringing the beautiful man back to him.
When Sherlock Holmes is 5 ½ years clean, 9 years flat-chested, 11 years on hormone therapy, he feels John Watson’s lips on his for the first time. He has injected himself with testosterone, heroin, cocaine. He has consumed Xanax, Morphine, and other prescription drugs. He spent little of his second decade alive sober. He could not quiet his mind.
When John Watson’s lip touch his, hand on his nape, Sherlock Holmes’ mind goes black without substances to aid him for the first time.
John Watson enjoys kissing Sherlock Holmes. The shared experience between their lips is electric and near scientific impossibility. Sherlock Holmes shuts his eyes in awe for minutes, hours, days, years. To convince himself that he is worthy of a man so perfect to share affection with him will take far too much time.
It is when John smiles at him after he opens his eyes again that Sherlock Holmes swears his heart melts through the floor.
Sherlock Holmes is in a deep indigo shirt and gold cravat. His jacket is black velvet.
John Watson is in a golden shirt and a deep indigo cravat. His jacket is black cashmere.
The steel rings in the small box on their bedside have both of their names engraved inside.
Sherlock Holmes is 6 ½ years clean, 10 years flat-chested, 12 years on hormone therapy.
John Watson loves Sherlock Holmes.
And more than he knows anything, Sherlock Holmes knows he loves John Watson.
When Sherlock Holmes was eight years old, he escaped the world by sitting with the bees. Sherlock Holmes is now 65 years old, and he escapes the world by holding his husband.
He loses count of how long he has been on hormone therapy. He has not relapsed in decades. The scars that line his chest cavity are a pale pink that house a memory of a past existence much like a past life. Sherlock Holmes does not believe in reincarnation, but he somehow feels that John Watson was the start of his rebirth.