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The Accrual of Evidence

Title: The Accrual of Evidence
Author(s): bluepercy
Rating: PG
Pairing(s): Holmes/Watson
Disclaimer: All characters created by ACD and belong to their copyright holder(s), not me.
Summary: Watson comes to a conclusion about Sherlock Holmes.
Spoilers: None.
Warnings: Vague references to sexuality, nothing else. Pretty tame.
Word Count: 2212
Author’s Note: Special thanks to Rachelle, who kindly offered to beta, and managed to not drown in commas.

I do not possess the lightning wit of my friend, Sherlock Holmes, it is true, but neither, I trust, am I a complete dullard. While I cannot make the wild leaps and bounds of logic of which he is capable, neither can any other man of my acquaintance, and I may at least be safe in saying that it was a rare thing indeed for me to be completely incapable of following Holmes’s train of thought, even if often after the fact and a beat behind. I did not mind that. It is a matter of public record, in fact, that I never tired of his brilliance, or of the privilege of being his own private audience.

Still, though deduction was not my forte, there were times when I was certainly capable of it -- after all, I learned from the best. There were the usual small deductions with which Holmes so amazed his clients or myself, of course, which I could, with growing frequency over the years, achieve with some degree of success, but what I always think of as an example of my triumphs in that manner was quite another matter altogether.

It was late in the year of 1894 when it all came together for me. Holmes had been back in London and my life for some seven months, I believe. Even now, I cannot recall exactly what finally brought it all together at the last. It was more, I think, just a gradual accumulation of evidence, settling into layers of sediment in my mind over so many years, with no particular event that caused it to crystallise in my brain. I doubt, too, that any other man could have come to the conclusion I eventually did. Deduction is not, as I said, my strong point, but I feel confident that if there is any subject on Earth in which I am an authority over any man, it is the subject of Sherlock Holmes himself. I have been allowed more insight into that man’s inner world than possibly any other man alive, although to be sure, even now I could not tell you why.

As it was, all I knew then was that as the night began to close upon us that evening, a warm meal in our stomachs and a fortifying drink at the ready, I looked across the room as Holmes spoke to me, and I knew.

He was lighting his pipe as he spoke, going over the case we had so recently completed in an airy, breezy manner. I hesitate to put the particulars of that incident down in writing, even now after so many years, even in my own private writings, for fear of discovery. The scandal was only diverted by the very narrowest of margins, and while it may be more than thirty years later, there is the still the potential for ruin in those secrets for influential men -- good men, I shall insist to my grave, which, if I am honest, is very possibly not so far off as all that. Perhaps I risk some personal indiscretion here in this letter, or diary, or memorial, or whatever it is, but I don’t fear that. I am an old man, now, with no children to inherit my shame, and there is no longer anyone else in this world who can be harmed by it.

So perhaps it was the way he spoke of one of the men involved, or the casual way he referred to the incident itself, though there was certainly nothing spectacular or unusual in that, not for him, and it was certainly not the first such case we had dealt with in our association. Whatever it was, it settled down upon the evidence collected during more than a decade of the dearest, most precious friendship I have ever known in my life, and I, as I said, knew. I knew everything. That he spoke as one who had knowledge of such things was clear to me; that he had experience with them, experience that went beyond the schoolboy fumblings of every dormitory of every boarding school in all of England, seemed very likely indeed.

I could not make myself believe it at first, but the idea had descended upon me like a bird of prey, or a sudden thick and choking fog, and I seemed helpless in its grasp. I could not let it go, could not forget it once it had occurred to me. I was not entirely ignorant of such things, in theory if not in practice. Holmes knew that of me, knew of my own slightly unconventional medical opinion on the topic. As I said, the recent case had not been the only one. If it were true, I attempted to reason with myself, then surely he might have mentioned it? Surely he must have had at least one lover in the years since we had met? I hated to think of such things going on beneath my very nose, though certainly not because I found it distasteful. I could not think why.

I had nearly completely lost track of what Holmes himself was even saying, and with an effort, I told myself I was mistaken, and set the entire question aside in my mind.

Two nights later found the pair of us down at the docks, so obscenely late at night that it was well into morning. We lived for such moments, I think, when our lives were at stake and it was only his ingenuity and my pistol that kept us in one piece, though whether it was a decent or wise pastime for two gentlemen over forty, I’m sure I don’t know. Neither, I think, do I want to know the answer. Certainly, if I had refused to accompany him on the more dangerous missions, he would have allowed me my safety, but he would also have gone alone. I could never have allowed that.

We had shuffled into a shadow cast between two buildings, hidden from the sight of the ruffian we were trailing, hoping to witness the exchange of goods that was suspected. Holmes had dragged me in and out of a dozen such refuges along our winding way, where we would wait until he deemed it safe for us to emerge, at which point he would signal me with a pluck upon my elbow or some such gesture, and we would take off down the streets again, nonchalant and unremarkable to any casual observer.

This one pause, however, he looked back at me over his shoulder, where I stood close behind him, and I was struck suddenly by the expression on his face, illuminated vaguely by the nearest streetlamp. It was not one I could immediately name.

I must have looked puzzled, for his own brow wrinkled in response. “Watson, whatever is the matter?” he asked me, his tone hushed and his words rapid.

I was aware, in that moment, how very near we were standing. We were not touching, but it was a near thing, only a matter of an inch or two at most, and I could feel the warmth radiate from his long, lean body all along mine. There was nothing, in itself, unusual about the situation, not the darkness nor the closeness nor the anticipation so thick in the air one might cut off pieces to save for later, but I was suddenly struck by the situation all the same.

As he continued to look at me, I noted with a strange sort of detachment the flush to his cheeks, the dilation of his pupils, the pound of his pulse in his throat, and thought of how much in that moment he looked like a man aroused -- not merely stimulated by a possibly unwise chase after dangerous criminals in the dark, but on the very edge of sexual arousal. In an instant, I thought of my mad notion of two nights earlier. Unless he knew the man we were chasing rather better than I had hitherto suspected, there was only he and I standing too close in a dark alley, and an unavoidable physiological response.

“Nothing,” I answered him. I had nearly forgotten his question, and I was wondering now if he could see my own answering blush. At the moment I couldn’t think too much about what it meant that I could feel my own face grow so hot. “Are we close, do you think?”

“I believe so.” He turned to look down the streets, reached over to give my upper arm a warm squeeze, and he led me out of that dark alley.

I followed him, as I do in nearly all things.

I suppose many another man would have simply dismissed as so much twaddle what I had, after so many years, deduced. Sherlock Holmes was a homosexual. He had never said so, he had never revealed himself, but I knew it. To deny this would have been a bald lie, and I knew that also.

I had also realised in that alley why the thought of my friend in an embrace with another man gave me so much pain. I will not pretend that this revelation was easy for me, nor pleasant, but I also could not look on the truth of this and pretend that it was not.

It took me many years to form this one, great deduction, and it took me nearly a month to work up the courage to speak it aloud and admit to it, and it was on another such quiet evening as the one that had undone the quiet fiction of ignorance between us, with supper finished and a warm fire to hold back the chill of the night, when I steeled myself, looked across at Holmes, and said the words that I greatly feared would undo us entirely.

“Why did you never tell me?”

He looked at me, archly. “Tell you what, Watson? You really will have to be more specific than that.”

“Why did you never tell me,” I pressed on, intent on somehow seeing this through, “that you are an invert?”

He could have been offended, he could been angry, he could have been indignant, but I knew he would be none of these things because I knew what I said was true. Instead, he gave a queer little laugh, the lines around his eyes crinkling without much mirth. “Does it offend you?” he said with a deceptive lightness. “Do you recoil in disgust?”

“You know that I do not.”

Holmes lay back in his chair, looking me over, dissecting my words as he tried to come to my meaning. While I considered how to go about confessing my own part in things, I suddenly realised to my great dismay that in this, as in all other puzzles, Holmes had beaten me to the solution. He had been merely waiting for me to catch up. He had known all about it, about both sides of the entire situation, while I had been completely ignorant, even unconscious of my own steady plodding towards the truth. There have been times in his presence I have felt very dull indeed, and this was certainly one of them.

“Never mind, Watson,” Holmes said, answering my unspoken thoughts as was his way. He reached languidly across for his violin, laid the bow across the strings, and played one long note awash with tremolo, before he looked at me again. “Many a man would never have let himself accept it, even if he had realised. Would you have reacted well if I had told you five years ago? Ten?”

I glanced away, suddenly grim. “I suppose not.”

“We are on the same page now, however,” he said, and he played several quick notes in succession; when I managed to meet his eyes again, he was smiling, though there was a nervousness in it. That startled me, to see that in his manner. “There is time for all things, time for… catching up. If you’re willing, of course.”

“Of course,” I confirmed, though not without my own share of anxiety.

He fell silent, then, plucking at the strings of the Stradivarius idly, his brow creased in thought. I have often wondered what it was he was thinking about then, what factors he was considering, but I never quite worked up the nerve to ask him, and I’m not sure the answer would have been illuminating in any case. We sat in a mutual silence, surprisingly comfortable in it, as befits two men who know each other as intimately as we did even then. I am no longer certain how long it was.

When he had worked out whatever it was to his satisfaction, Holmes rose from his chair, crossed the room to where I had been waiting, and kissed me, faintly tentative but warm. He did not speak, nor did I. There was no need.

As I wrote before, I fear no censure now. There is but one judge whose court I now fear, and I have faith He will not condemn me for what I have done. If I am wrong, then it is too late to do anything about it now, I fear. May God have mercy on my soul.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:16 am (UTC)
wow. just...wow! I have unfortunately only seen the latest movie, but I can say that that was one of the, at the very least,most contextually correct and utterly fabulous stories I've read! It was far more realistic for men like tha, for men of the time, to deal with something like this in such a proper manner - but still be oh so sweet about it!!

I love it!! please write more - in general! I love your style <3
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



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