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The Doctor looked up from his hands, which he had been studying intently. His brown eyes found them both, each in turn, and his voice, when he spoke, was calm and sincere.

"Yes. I think it is high time I came home."

Picking up the tray, she headed for the door, but as her hand touched the doorknob, Mr. Holmes spoke again. "Oh, and Martha?"

She stopped. "Yes, Mr. Holmes?"

"Perhaps you might consider joining us, on occasion? If it suited you, of course?"

She wondered if he could hear the happiness in her voice. "It would be my very great pleasure, Mr. Holmes."

-- Rule of Three, Killalla

 

It was queer. When Mr. Holmes proposed the arrangement, it was queer not to feel the least shocked. Of course, an innkeeper's daughter grows accustomed to the curious ways people find their comfort. Then, time and widowhood had worn away her remaining prudery, and she had bedded, and loved, them both. Still, it surprised her, how quickly she accepted.

 

She had bedded them both -- the Doctor so playful, kind and appreciative, Mr. Holmes passionate, driven, then utterly spent -- and she if she considered it at all she imagined it would be simultaneously familiar and novel. She had been an adventurous girl once.

 

She could not have known how moonlight would change her.

 

Straightening the sitting room, she found Mr. Holmes' spyglass stuffed between the cushions of the couch. Would the man never put anything away where it was safe? More than once she had removed daggers from slippers and chemicals from carpetbags.

She gave the glass a good wiping and looked about for its case. Naturally it was nowhere to be found.

She turned the spyglass thoughtfully, then put it to her eye. The pattern of the Turkey carpet swung wildly for a moment. Her husband had brought the carpet from the Orient in the first year of their marriage; magnified, it took on a fantastic beauty, a wild garden of geometric shapes. She hadn't remembered how fine it was.

Curious, she brought the spyglass to the window. Looking up the street she could see into the nearest house caddy-corner from 221B. It was only Mr. Waycross having a cup of late-afternoon tea by his sitting room window, but it amused her that he groomed his silly mustache as he read the papers.

Leaning out she looked in the other direction. Far at the end there were her two gentlemen on their way home, Mr. Holmes striding in the agitated way that announced a case on the brink of mental completion, the Doctor listening and nodding thoughtfully.

They'd be wanting strong tea with Mr. Holmes' pipe, so she went to put the kettle on. In a few minutes she was pouring the water over the leaves.

"Mrs. Hudson!" came the shout from downstairs. "We'll be needing --"

"Yes, yes, Mr. Holmes," she said, bringing the tray. "Here's your tea and I've brewed it strong." He wasn't the only one who could form deductions from a little evidence.

"-- strong tea," he finished, nonplussed. His eyes swept the room. "The case of my spyglass is in my bedroom but I'm afraid it's full of cigar ashes. Is Mr. Waycross at home?"

"Indeed he is, Mr. Holmes."

"I assume you did not apprehend him in any untoward action, since you have not summoned the police."

"No, Mr. Holmes, not unless the taking of afternoon tea has become a felony."

"Hello, Mrs. Hudson," said the Doctor with a calm smile. "I'm afraid we've blown in and upset the peace of the house."

"Broken up the doldrums, more like," she answered, setting down the tray.

Mr. Holmes regarded her with narrowed eyes.

"You went out marketing earlier than usual this morning," he said.

"Indeed."

"All the way to the Tottenham Court Road."

"Yes, you are correct."

"You stopped at the butcher there for chops. Lamb, if I am not mistaken."

She nodded.

"And if I am correct, you made a most uncustomary visit to the parfumerie there as well."

Here she felt herself colouring slightly. She had certainly seen Mr. Holmes perform this feat but she had never herself been the focus of his legendary powers of observation.

"Most impressive, Holmes," the Doctor said. "But now do give us the exegesis and let us get on with our tea."

Mr. Holmes strode to the end of the room and touched the sill of the window at which she had stood. He turned, fingertips together and eyes upon her face as he spoke.

"There is but one butcher near the Tottenham Court Road, on a side street to the east. At this time of year in damp weather the distinctive reddish mud of that road remains a slurry on the east side until ten o'clock, when the sun clears the buildings to the west and dries it to a paste. Note the splash pattern on her petticoat hem and it is clear as day that she walked on the east side of the road between eight and ten o'clock."

"Holmes, there is no one equal to you in the prognosticative evaluation of mud," Dr. Watson commented. Mr. Holmes nodded and continued.

"There are three drops of blood on the right side of her overskirt. She has no injuries to her right hand, so I deduce that this was caused by a poorly wrapped set of chops carried in a market basket. Lamb being bloodier than pork, and this being the ideal season for it, I postulate that lamb chops were the culprit.

"Lastly," and here he leaned forward, his nostrils dilating. "Martha is scented faintly with both lavender and lilac. I know of no commercial
perfume that combines these fragrances, and since there is an elegant parfumerie within a healthy woman's vigourous spring walk from the Tottenham Court Road, I conclude that she has been there this morning trying on scents, to the benefit of us both."

Nowhere did Mr. Holmes suggest the reason for her sudden decision to buy a bottle of cologne. She returned his look, pleased and flustered at this most unusual flirtation.

Later that evening, after the lamb chops and mint jelly, she tidied the kitchen for the evening when John came up behind her, brushed her hair back and spoke close to her ear, "Will you come to our room tonight?"

Pleasure ran through her like a lightening strike and heat rose to her cheeks.

"I'll just lock up and be with you directly," she said.

She came across the hall in her cotton nightdress with her hair down, quiet and happy as a girl at her first dance. They greeted her together, each taking one of her hands and drawing her to the bed, Mr. Holmes in his silk
dressing gown, John in his cotton pyjamas. The night was dark and shyness made her glad of it. The Doctor made a place for her in the middle, smoothing the pillow, and pulled her down next to him while Mr. Holmes lay down on the other side.

"Dear Martha," John murmured, kissing her.

"Ah, Martha --" said Mr. Holmes, taking her other arm and turning it to nibble lightly, investigatively, on the sensitive inner skin. She sighed.

This first time they focused on her -- four hands to stroke and caress her, two mouths to kiss and lick, her own body soft and smooth against one wiry and slim, one muscular and hairy. She closed her eyes. There was the familiarity of their skin and their scents, the strangeness of their hands clasped against her belly, and finally, blissful congress with John with Mr. Holmes bent over them, kissing and caressing them alternately while he brought himself to completion with a gasp.

They slept a while before she rose, slipped into her nightdress and turned to kiss her sleeping lovers goodnight. John was deeply asleep and did not stir. In the shadows she could just make out Mr. Holmes' eyes -- sharp and penetrating even at the moment of waking -- as he whispered, "I thank you."

Yes. The bond between her two gentlemen was primary. She liked it that way and she knew that this was crucial to Mr. Holmes' comfort.

The next day at breakfast Mr. Holmes chivvied her gently as she brought in the kippers.

"I slept most soundly, Mrs. Hudson," he said, with a knowing glance. "I can't remember when I've felt more comfortable at home. However you are doing the bed linens, I beg you to continue."

"It must be the lavender in the linen closet, Mr. Holmes," she answered. "It is said to be a calming scent."

"What do you say, Watson?" he asked, helping himself to toast from the rack. "Are there two middle-aged bachelors in all of England as well cared for as we?"

Dr. Watson had the grace to blush as he answered, "Certainly not."

Two weeks passed before the second invitation. Mr. Holmes was gone on a case with the Doctor joining him at the end, and they returned triumphant, bruised, scratched and in need of sleep and a wash. Those items taken care of, a day passed before Mr. Holmes took the opportunity to find her alone in the kitchen in the late afternoon.

"Might you be available to join us this evening?" he asked. She glanced at him, waiting. "If you've no other plans," he added.

As before, they welcomed her together at the bedroom door. Mr. Holmes had become more free; from behind he drew his hands down her sides to rest at her waist, biting her lightly on the back of the neck with a growl. John took her in his arms, bringing his warm frame and his already-thickening member against her from the front. A movement let her know that they embraced each other, and the sensation of being pressed from all sides by eager male flesh set an ember between her legs that flared as they rubbed against her and caressed each other's arms and shoulders.

This night, the light of a full moon filtered through the curtains, illuminating the scene in shades of gray and black.

This night it was Mr. Holmes who led her to the bed and settled her against the pillows, kneeling by her side and undoing the sash of his dressing gown. The silk slithered down his slender back and she gazed on the familiar terrain of his pale torso, the small nipples nestled in a sparse sprinkling of hairs, the legs improbably long and folded beneath him. His member, reddish in its nest of dark curls, stirred, half-tumescent as he attacked the small buttons of her nightdress with precision. He pulled it over her head and tossed it aside.

John crossed from the door. In past times they had disrobed in stages, easing into nakedness. He surprised her now by stripping off his pyjamas at once, as if eager to display his broad shoulders and narrow hips, his strong
forearms and the brown pelt of his chest and lower regions. Unconsciously, she leaned forward as he crawled onto the bed.

Before she could reach for him, Mr. Holmes stilled her with a glance and leaned forward himself. Taking his lover's face in his hand, he brought his hawklike profile to meet John's and their lips met, at first only touching, then softly opening, deepening until she caught glistening glimpses of Mr. Holmes' tongue entering John's mouth, of John's own following and stroking his lover's in return.

With a rush of sensation, she knew both, the giving and receiving. Remembering and feeling the pleasure of each she knew the insistent probing of Mr. Holmes' long agile tongue and the soft yielding of the Doctor's mouth. She knew John's firm affectionate nibbles, his trick of stroking the inside corner of her mouth, and she knew that corner of Mr. Holmes' mouth as well, the thin coolness John's tongue would find there.One then the other, she felt with them, spiraling upward, wetter and wetter as she watched.

She knelt up, coming closer in the moonlight, pressing her thighs together. And then Mr. Holmes pushed John flat, slowly, slowly moving his kisses down John's torso, stopping to suck his nipples, first one, then the other. She knew the feel of those pebbled nipples under her tongue; she knew the focused grace of Holmes' mouth on her own flesh. John's hands moved helplessly to his lover's head, urging more pressure. His eyelids fluttered as Holmes complied.

Lower still. Holmes nuzzled and kissed all around John's straining organ as her muscles tensed in sympathy. His long straight nose buried itself in John's curls as her nostrils flared at the remembered musk of John's body. Still Holmes denied him, gently biting the insides of his thighs and laving his bollocks, until John gasped, "Please, Holmes -"

Mr. Holmes raised his head, gave her a long steady look, and slowly engulfed John's member. He drew his head upward, revealing the tight, wet skin, swirled his tongue over the tip and descended again.

She knew it. She felt it. Both.

Again he drew upward and descended.

"AHH -- Oh God --" groaned John, and --

Waves of pleasure gathered and rolled through her body, forcing a cry from her lips. John's eyes flew open, for a moment catching her own, startled, entranced, until he cascaded over the edge with a wordless ejaculation, spending until his spunk ran from the corners of Holmes' mouth.

Throat working, face ecstatic, Mr. Holmes swallowed with each pulse, sending her into another shivering climax.

When she raised her head, Holmes crouched on all fours over his lover, stroking himself. His bollocks were in possession of John's one caressing hand, his nipple in the other. She too found a nipple and pinched hard, as Holmes liked it. He gasped, fist a blur, until with a wild sound of release he shot pearly strings of fluid over John's body and collapsed, panting, on top of him.

No sound but soft slowing breaths disturbed the peace of the room. John's hand felt for hers among the bedclothes and clasped it. She nestled into one side while Mr. Holmes took the other, settling his face into the crook of John's neck. She drew Holmes' arm across his lover's chest and draped hers lovingly over it. Three contented sighs stirred the air.

But she had not done with looking yet, and peeked across her lover's chest at the sharp planes of Holmes' face in the yellow light. His eyes opened. For a long moment of communion they gazed at each other. Then their lids lowered and they slept.

All the next day as she tidied the sitting room, did the marketing and wrote a letter to her niece, the scene returned to her -- the languorouskisses of her gentlemen; the commanding look with which Mr. Holmes invited her observation; John's shining member caressed and worshipped by his lover's mouth; his brown eyes seeking hers. Filled with heat, she blushed again and again -- in her own kitchen, in the street. She had not imagined this power, to feel her pleasure and knowledge multiplied over and over like the reflection in a milliner's mirrors.

In the days that followed there were companionable cups of tea at the hearth and stretches of pleasant solitude. There were triadic discoveries of the bedchamber. She preferred to be invited and found that a certain warmth at the breakfast table or merely looking into Mr. Holmes' eyes as she poured the afternoon tea might bring that about. She considered herself the luckiest woman in London, with twice, no, thrice or more, the joys of married love and her independence as well.

Sometimes it was the Doctor who came to her after dinner with a kind request, but more frequently it was Mr. Holmes who sidled up with a sly look to murmur the phrase that made her heart race and her body melt.

"Martha, would you care to watch?"

 

A/N: Thanks to Killalla and Delphi for beta services and many useful
suggestions.