A sequel to Contentment Is Mine.
It's been several months since Watson told Holmes of his true feelings for him.
An established relationship story.
Written: February 2012. Word count: 1,960.
There is less than a week to go until Christmas and less than forty-eight hours before Holmes will be returning to me.
He has been away for the past ten days with Mycroft working on a case; a case in which, the brothers both insisted, my assistance would not be required. It must have been something quite serious to drag Mycroft away from the Diogenes Club, especially when the snow was deep on the ground, the air seemed frozen and the streets were full of people in a way they only are a few weeks before Christmas.
Holmes did not tell me very much about the case and I did not ask. If he wishes to tell me upon his return, he will do so. If not, well it is not our case, thus it does not really trouble me. I merely watched him pack, fetched him his favourite pipe from our sitting room and waited for him to say goodbye.
Except he did not say 'goodbye' at least not in so many words. Instead he . . .
Maybe I should go back a few months to the night I told Holmes of my true feelings for him and the ensuing discussion as to what 'love' meant which culminated in Holmes appearing in my bedroom after we had both retired for the evening and getting into bed with me.
At the time I believed the incident would never be repeated nor would it be spoken about between us and I was perfectly happy for that to be so. It wasn't, as I said at the time, as if I needed to share my bed with Holmes; it wasn't as if I needed or indeed wanted anything other than what already existed between us.
I firmly believed at the time it had just been Holmes's way of somehow acknowledging what I had told him and reassuring me by actions, rather than words as is Holmes's way, that all would remain well between us.
And indeed that is how things remained between us during the remainder of spring, throughout summer and into early autumn. Our relationship remained the same as it had been before I had spoken of the true nature of my love for Holmes. We spent our days and evenings together, working on a case or simply sitting and reading or he would, from time to time, take up his violin and play for me, we would part for the night with a 'goodnight' and meet again for breakfast the following day.
The only differences, and they were small ones, is that Holmes never once reached for his cocaine syringe and he watched me more intently and more often than he had done in the past. Often I would glance up from my book or newspaper or writing my journal to find his steady gaze fixed on me. He never spoke, nor did he look away, nor did he seem troubled by the fact he had been caught staring at me. In turn I never spoke nor looked questioningly at him; I merely returned to what it was I had been reading or writing.
I also found his hand appeared on my shoulder or my arm a little more often than it had done before that night I had spoken of my love for him. And the times he slipped his arm through mine whilst we walked through London's streets was more frequent.
However, when I analysed it none of those things were that unusual or unique. There had been times in the past, before that evening, when Holmes's intensity increased, when I found myself his focal point. It was usually when he was bored because a decent case hadn't crossed his desk for weeks, then he would turn his attention to me, almost seeming to study me as if I were a case.
Nevertheless, what was strange, what was very unusual was the lack of cocaine. As a doctor I have never approved of Holmes's habit and had on more than one occasion tried to temper it somewhat. I had got used to the signs that would indicate he was about to reach for it and I would suggest a walk or that he play for me or something, anything to distract him. And it often worked, at least for a short time, but inevitably his hand would reach for the bottle and needle and I would say nothing.
I had long since come to the conclusion that if my dear Holmes was going to take cocaine that I would rather he did it under my eye, under my supervision you could say, than when he was alone. As much as I disliked the habit, disapproved of what I feared was becoming his need, as much as it troubled me to watch him fill the syringe before plunging it into his arm, I would far rather watch knowing that if anything went wrong I was on hand, than imagining him injecting himself whilst alone.
For him to let so many months go by without once reaching into his drawer was difficult to understand and even more difficult to believe. I began to fear he was injecting whilst he was alone. I even went so far as to breech the trust between us one day when he went out without me by opening his desk drawer and checking the bottle only to discover there was no bottle.
It like most of our possessions had been damaged or destroyed by the fire and never expecting him to return I had of course not replaced it. But I had thought he would have done so; now it looked as if I had been wrong. Or had I? Had he merely moved it from out sitting room to somewhere else?
I confess I even considered going to his bedroom and checking to see if he was keeping his supply there. However, even though I was concerned, I knew I could not go that far; I could not break the trust we had so deeply. I had to trust in him, trust that he had somehow broken the habit during those three years he had been away from me.
Early autumn turned into late autumn in a matter of weeks and I awoke one morning in mid-November to a white world. The snow had fallen overnight and it continued to fall so hart that it kept us in our rooms all day. Despite a day of enforced incarceration, Holmes had been in particularly good spirits and the day had soon turned into dusk and before I knew it we were saying goodnight and going to our respective bedrooms.
I was about to blow the candle out and settle down for the night when my door opened. An as he had done several months earlier Holmes, dressed in his night-shirt and dressing-gown, entered my room, stood for a moment before removing the latter, turning back the covers on my bed, waited for a moment until I moved across the bed a little before slipping into bed beside me.
As on the only other time he had come to my bed he said nothing, he did not attempt to touch me, he simply lay down, arranged himself to his satisfaction, closed his eyes and went to sleep. In the morning he simply got up, took his candle and left. Not a single word did we exchange.
For several nights the pattern continued. We would say goodnight, go to our bedrooms, I would be about to blow out my candle when Holmes would appear. He would not speak; I would not speak. He would remove his dressing down, turn back the covers, wait until I had moved a little so that we would not accidentally touch, then get into bed beside me, lie down and go to sleep.
Then came the night when things changed just a little. We said goodnight, retired to our rooms, Holmes appeared, removed his dressing gown and turned back the covers. But before I could move across the bed, he had got into bed with me and our arms were resting against one another's. And that is how they stayed. He closed his eyes and went to sleep. I, however, stayed awake for several hours, not certainly whether to move away, not daring to fall asleep in case I moved closer to him.
And that is how things continued. We didn't speak when he appeared and we didn't speak of it; with the exception of arms touching, we did not touch. We simply shared a bed. And that is how I expected it to continue until the day came when Mycroft appeared and Holmes agreed to assist his brother.
Which brings me back to Holmes saying goodbye to me. As I said I had stood in his bedroom watching him pack and I had remained there even after I had fetched him his pipe. For all his remarkable brain power, Holmes can be remarkably inept when it comes to the normal day-to-day things. Thus part of my presence was to ensure he packed warm clothing.
Finally he stood before me, his bag and hat in one hand, his scarf around his neck, his overcoat buttoned up. I held out my hand, "Do take care, my dear Holmes," I said and waited for him to take my hand and shake it.
But he did not. Instead he stood before me in silence, staring at me in the way I had found him looking at me during the last few months. I saw something pass across his face and flash through his eyes, but it was nothing I could explain. I had been about to say goodbye again, when he bent his head and put his lips to mine.
The kiss was brief, a second or two, no more; the pressure was so slight, I barely felt it, but it was a kiss, of that I had no doubt. Then as he stood upright again, he lightly touched my cheek with his bare hand, before turning and leaving his bedroom. All that had happened had happened in seconds and in silence.
I heard Mrs. Hudson calling goodbye to him and ordering him to keep warm and be careful, then the door slammed, the muffled sound of hooves on snow drifted up from the street into the room and then he had gone.
And for ten days I had been left to reflect on what had happened and what if anything might happen when he returned home again.
For ten days I had barely thought of anything but the kiss and the first night he slept with his arm pressed against mine.
For ten days I had barely thought of anything but what had happened, what might happen when he returned and what I would like to happen.
I had another forty-eight hours before my questions would be answered.
The front door slammed, making me jump slightly. Moments later I heard Mrs. Hudson address Holmes, exclaiming her surprise that he was home sooner than we had expected. I stood up and stared at the door to our sitting room. I heard Holmes's footsteps on the stair. I saw the door-handle turn. I heard him answer Mrs. Holmes that tea in ten minutes would be acceptable. I saw the door open.
"Holmes!" I exclaimed. "My dear fellow, I had not thought to see you for another two days. Come nearer to the fire, you must be quite chilled."
This time his lips remained on mine for several seconds. This time the pressure was not as light as it had been. This time he cupped my face between his hands as he kissed me.
LINKS TO ALL THE STORIES IN THIS SERIES
Time To Reflect
Believing In Miracles
Contentment Is Mine
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