It was bad that night.
I’d had a shitty day, searching for a flat and finding nothing but damp, dreary basements with peeling wallpaper and weird solid-state showers plonked down like some mildewed plastic TARDIS in the shabby bed-sitting room. If they even had showers. One place had a rusty clawed tub with an antique gas-powered contraption above it you’d have needed a death wish to operate.
Missed opportunity there, I thought blearily, knocking back my fourth whisky. Or my sixth, fuck it, I’d lost count by then. Used up all my cash as well, on the drinks and a taxi earlier when my damn leg refused to move even one yard further. It was aching like a bastard now along with my shoulder, despite the whisky.
I glared at the bartender, wondering if he’d watered my scotch. It was that sort of crappy bar – sleazy neon sign, ambiguous clientele lounging in the shadows and hideous disco classics thudding out of a cheap sound system. They drowned out the sounds in my head, though – screams, and that bubbling gurgle men make when their throats are deeply lacerated by shrapnel, blood and air mixing while you try and fail to contain the haemorrhage. I’d listen to anything to override that, even, oh Jesus, was that Rasputin by Boney M? Christ.
I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head, letting the swirl of dizziness distract me. The room spun and I lurched to one side and might have fallen had someone not grasped my arm, pushing me upright.
“Careful, now, don’t want you falling down, do we?” The voice was a smooth, deep alto. I sensed height, and the grip was strong. Gripping the edge of the bar, head bowed as the nausea passed, I could see the floor was exactly what the rest of the décor promised: cheap carpet, stained and sticky with years of spilled fluids. No, we didn’t want to be falling down there.
My rescuer was wearing a dress. Right. Some sort of dark blue silky material, knee length. Strong but shapely calves below, in sheer black stockings, and black patent high heeled shoes with ankle straps. Big feet, I thought stupidly, but of course she had big feet. Strong arms, big feet, muscular shoulders, why else had I come here? I was no stranger to blow jobs in Sandhurst supply cupboards, to hand jobs in makeshift tents, dust in our mouths as we struggled to undo desert camo.
I straightened and stared ahead, thankful that there was no mirror behind the bar. I’d walked right in here after all, knowing it was called Surrender, Dorothy. There were a pair of red sequined platform shoes nailed upside down to the ceiling above my head, but I was in no shape for an adventurous move like cervical extension. No, this was good, this was what I’d come here for. Anything to get out of my empty apartment, away from the gun in the drawer and the blinking cursor of my empty blog.
Stand by Your Man was playing. “Taking Tammy’s lyrics to heart, are you?” I said, too tired and drunk to muster a real pick-up line. This was going to happen despite me or not at all; I was in no shape to make the running.
She snorted softly. “Presumptuous. I like that in a man.” She leaned into me, or I propped myself against her, whatever. Her arm was covered in a long dark blue silk sleeve but it was warm and she smelled…actually, she smelled of pipe tobacco. I turned my head into her upper arm and inhaled, then realised what I was doing.
“Um…McClelland’s Black Shag, a bold choice of fragrance,” I muttered, flushing.
I could hear the smirk in her voice. “I gave up a while ago, I’m on the patches.”
“Working for you?” I enquired, trying to claw back a semblance of professional dignity.
“Not really,” she said.
Yeah. All I had to contend with was alcohol and the odd bout of gambling. Minor stuff, compared to nicotine.
“Come here often?” I asked, falling back on the classics. Fuck. John Watson: brilliant conversationalist. I was abruptly filled by irrational resentment with her for requiring me to be a brilliant conversationalist after the day I’d had. After the year I’d had.
“No, but you knew that,” she said, inexplicably.
“I’m sorry, have we met?” I asked, sure that we hadn’t.
“No. But you already know I’m wearing a dress that smells of tobacco. A substance I’ve given up due to societal pressure – you just can’t sustain a smoking habit in London these days. Ergo, I last wore it some time ago. Ergo, I don’t come here often.”
“You could have worn another dress,” I muttered, drunkenly belligerent.
She smiled. “No. My wardrobe is…limited. I think you know why.”
I squinted at her sidelong but her face was averted. Glaring at the bartender I tried to snap fumbling fingers. “Another whisky here.” Belatedly I remembered my manners, hauling myself upright. “Can I get you a drink?” I turned, big mistake. I would have fallen again had she not neatly side-stepped and braced me against the bar. My shoulder spasmed and I grimaced.
“Here.” She put her arm around my waist and supported me, taking the weight off my bad leg without pressing on the shoulder.
“Thanks.” I concentrated on breathing and not biting my tongue. “You’re strong.” Oh, well done, John, I thought, despairing, reaching for my glass.
“That a problem for you?” Again the amusement.
Her hand closed around mine on the glass. “Ah. Then I think you’ve had enough.” She disentangled my fingers, gave them a squeeze and set my hand on the bar, then downed my drink. “Shall we go?” she asked, mouth by my ear. Dark curling hair. I could smell the whisky on her breath.
“Yeah, why not,” I said, not moving because that required more motor coordination than I had at my disposal.
She pulled me against her, tall and slender in her heels but surprisingly strong, and half walked, half dragged me towards a dark passageway beyond the curve of the bar. I caught a bleary glimpse of the sign “Gents” and an arrow on the wall as we stumbled through a beaded curtain with Marilyn’s face on it. Monroe, not Manson.
The smell from the loo made bile rise in my throat, but she hauled me past it and paused at the back door. She propped me there and fiddled with the lock while I assisted by pawing at her and face-planting into her neck. I may have drooled a little.
She fended me off easily enough, dodging my clumsy groping and pulling me out into an alley, faintly lit by London’s reddish night sky. I was briefly aware that it was overcast and not raining, then I was being pushed firmly against the wall and pinned there with one blue-clad arm while she undid my trousers.
I was only half hard, in itself a small miracle given the whiskies I’d downed and attributable entirely to the feel of her body pressing me back against the bricks, her arm across my chest. I could feel her strength and that, with her height and the dress and the whole public sex in an alley thing, yeah. She took me in hand and worked my cock until I was making small, desperate noises, then slid to her knees.
She kept one arm firmly across my body, holding me in place as her mouth closed around me. My hips bucked – I was beyond good manners – and she growled warningly around my cock and gripped my hip with her other hand, locking me there as she sucked.
It’s hazy from that point, fragmented by pleasure and whisky. Dark hair framing a pale face. The blue silk dress half off one shoulder. The red of her mouth as she took me in, cheeks hollowed and eyes slitted closed. I didn’t last long.
Then there are glimpses of a taxi, her voice a deep murmur, the driver leaning over to exchange notes and coins. Being pulled into a lift at the place where I was staying, then staggering through the door and sprawling across my bed. Unconsciousness.
In the morning she was long gone and I was sick as a parrot. Two Bloody Marys and some panadol later, it seemed I might live. There was no trace of her. No note, no message downstairs – not that the slack-jawed, multiply pierced girl on reception was capable of taking one.
I kept getting flashes. Her hands, long pale fingers opening the door lock then my pants. Bruises on her shoulder from my fingers. Her mouth.
I checked out the bar, but the barman just shrugged, and she never returned. I tried to put her out of my mind, unsuccessfully. Nothing happened to me, so distraction was hard to come by.
And then Mike in the park, and so, Sherlock. My life went from stalled to frenetic and in I jumped, feet first. Such a relief, such a fucking relief, to be doing again, to be running and thinking and feeling. Not stalled, not drifting. Even killing felt good, or, well, necessary. Justified. Anything for Sherlock.
I lived off his energy. I was a goner after those first few deductions; I even liked his showmanship. I mean, living with the world’s greatest ringmaster, watching him crack his mental whip and gallop the world past you, it’s pretty addictive.
I was so caught up in the madness that was life with Sherlock that it took some time to dawn on me. Maybe it was his tutelage as well, in noticing details and synthesising data. Deducing.
Small things at first. The angle of his cheek from above when I brought him tea. His voice, especially when he was amused. His eyes half-closed as he beamed, right again. And his hands, always those long white fingers fiddling with experiments in the kitchen, with my phone, with crime scenes, with locks.
It built between us for weeks. I stalked him I suppose, watching for clues. I searched his room one day when he was out quizzing the homeless about a missing girl. Nothing. I hadn’t expected to find anything there; that would have been altogether too easy.
Sherlock ignored me, but I think that he liked it. He did love attention, and Christ, did he have mine. He was like a cat in that respect – it was one reason I liked him, despite the frequent cracks about me and the rest of humanity being intellectual ants at the foot of his Olympian heights. I found his showing off endearing, which was just as well, as otherwise he’d have been insufferable.
The blue dress had become my main wanking fantasy, that and the memory of long fingers around my cock, of that red-smeared mouth. At some point it shifted to me sliding my hands up underneath his shirt, not the blue dress. Or sliding my hands underneath the blue dress and finding him hard there. That always did it for me, one hand working my cock, the other forearm jammed in my mouth to muffle my cries.
Speculation and fantasy bled over into every waking moment, becoming obsession. He watched me calmly, his fingers steepled. Waiting for me to break.
He’d just come in, his coat damp and cool and smelling of the London night. I’d had a whisky and I suppose it reminded me of the alley.
“John.” He stripped off his gloves and scarf.
“Sherlock.” I put down my book and went over to him. “Here, let me.”
He raised his eyebrows as I stood behind him and eased it from his shoulders. “I’m not injured, John,” he said, shrugging it off. I dropped the coat on a chair. “Nor are you my manservant.”
“No. But I do owe you something,” I said, turning him and stepping in close. He stiffened, eyes wary and speculative. I slid my arms around his waist. “It’s been sort of a test, hasn’t it? Waiting to see if I’d guess, if I’d remember. If I could gather the evidence and come to the right conclusions?”
He relaxed fractionally. “And have you?”
“I think so, yeah,” I said, going to my knees. “May I?”
His mouth quirked. “So polite.”
“Yeah, well, I doubt that I made a good first impression,” I said, looking up at him as I undid his trousers. He sucked in a breath as my hand brushed his cock.
“You were…entertaining,” he managed, as I pulled down his underwear and took him in hand. “Albeit with a tendency to…fuck…to assume the horizontal…”
Only Sherlock could say "albeit" during a blow job, I reflected. “I liked you in blue – it’s your colour. I hope you still have that dress.”
“Get the fuck on with it, John,“ he rasped, hips straining. “It’s not nice to keep a lady waiting.”