Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip

"These Things Were Promises [3/4]", Sherlock Holmes, Holmes/Watson

Title: These Things Were Promises [3/4]
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes (movieverse)
Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 10,928 (SHUT UP)
Genre: Slash
Copyright: Title is from Tides by Hugo Williams.
Summary: Watson is probably over-thinking all of this to the point of insanity; over-thinking this to the point of Holmes, but he cannot stop.
Author’s Notes: Once again, NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENS. And also now I have to have four parts to contain the nothing at all that happens in such abundance. Dear God. Anyway, there's lots of getting cross with each other in this part including an argument that I enjoyed writing far too much, and just to warn you: you are not going to like where I leave it. At all. Because cliffhangers are win. *evil laugh* I will get part four up as soon as I can even though I still have no fucking idea how this is actually going to end. And yes, I did write large chunks of this chapter while wearing a top hat; because I am just that cool. Right, it's past 5 in the morning and I have a Medieval lecture at 11:15, I should go to bed.

{Part One} | {Part Two}

It is easier than Watson expected it to be. He supposes that nothing all that much has changed between them, for all the ridiculous embarrassing complications that they have manufactured, and Holmes is showing an impressive amount of self-restraint that Watson was not previously sure he possessed. Watson can tell that Holmes wants to analyse what happened between them, wants to pick it apart and talk it over until every last angle has been made blindingly, painfully clear to both of them, but he can also see that it would upset Watson if he did, and for once he is taking someone else’s feelings into account. It is both surprising and comforting; a welcome reminder that Holmes is not as detached and inhuman as he frequently seems to be. Watson needs that at the moment; every time he recalls Holmes’ entirely too steady hands on his skin it makes his stomach clench, his teeth grit. The memory has not healed over yet; it is still raw enough to sting when touched.

Watson is probably over-thinking all of this to the point of insanity; over-thinking this to the point of Holmes, but he cannot stop himself. For his part, Holmes is silent more often, contemplative more often, eyes fixed on the ceiling and mind a thousand miles away. There is an edge between them now, an edge that cannot be cleanly defined and that they are both pointedly ignoring, but which makes its presence known from time to time anyway.

It has been a long day of seeing patients and pretending to be interested in psychosomatic medical conditions thought up by bored widows with nothing better to do with their time and desperate for any kind of attention, and Watson has been patient and smiling and has ordered Mrs Hudson to make enough tea to hydrate an army – and he would know, after all – and right now all he wants to do is collapse by the fire with the newspaper and some quiet and possibly some kind of alcohol. Gladstone opens his eyes long enough to give Watson a look that is a curious mixture of disdainful and hopeless – Watson is sure that other people’s dogs do not look this weary on such a regular basis – and he sighs, mentally waving goodbye to an evening of any sort of peace.

At first glance, the room appears to be empty; Holmes is nowhere to be seen, but this does not mean he is not here. Holmes is given to disappearing into weird corners, his mind so preoccupied with its higher levels of thought that he does not even notice what is happening to his body; Watson has found him lying beneath his sofa, sitting on top of his bookcases, seated half-out of the window with his feet resting on the outer ledge. One day Holmes is going to inadvertently kill himself just from his inadvisable choices of seating, but it is one of the many, many things that Watson really cannot be bothered to argue through in the vain hope of getting his friend to stop. Today, he follows the rustling sound of paper and finds Holmes sitting beneath one of the tables, the contents of a file spread open on the floor around him. On top of the table are the charred remains of what was possibly an experiment of some description; broken glass, ashes, and some of Holmes’ densely-written notes, the only words of which he can actually read are does not work! (which currently looks fairly self-evident). Watson hesitates, and then sits down beside Holmes, careful not to accidentally hit his head on the edge of the table.

“Dare I ask?”

“Fumes were lesser down here,” Holmes replies distractedly. He has charcoal smudged on one cheek and his fingers are stained with chemicals.

“Oh good,” Watson says dryly. “Should I be worried about what I’ve inhaled? Are my lungs going to start disintegrating? Because I was going to take my watch in for mending, but if I only have days to live I won’t bother.”

“The fumes should have dissipated by now,” Holmes responds, eyes still on the papers in front of him. After a moment, he turns one of them over, moves it to the back of the file. “I can mend your watch.”

“No, you can’t,” Watson tells him.

“I could,” Holmes protests. “It is simply a case of memory and observation, both of which I excel at, if I may point it out.”

“That carriage clock in my room never did work again,” Watson cannot help reminding him. “Not that I was particularly emotionally attached to it, but-”

“I was inexperienced,” Holmes interrupts.

“That was six months ago,” Watson says, “And you haven’t fixed any more timepieces since then. You are still inexperienced and possibly delirious-”

“-I am not delirious-”

“-delirious from inhaling whatever you were exploding in here earlier, so I think I will just take my watch to someone who knows what they’re doing.”

“You don’t trust me?” Holmes finally looks at him, a scowl settling over his mouth.

“With my life? Yes. In a heartbeat. With my father’s watch? Never. Not at all. No. Not in a million years.”

Holmes appears to consider this for a long moment, face mostly hidden in shadow. “All right then,” he says at last. “I suppose it is a job best left to the professionals.” The way he says professionals makes it sound as though he is saying child-murderers, and Watson looks down at the file on the floor in front of them to hide his smile. The smile drips off a moment later when he realises just whose file it actually is.

The authorities are never going to ask Holmes to hunt Irene Adler down, and even if they do she will calmly evade all of them and escape, along with whatever precious materials happen to be around at the time and having swiftly shattered Holmes’ heart, or at least the closest approximation of it she can manage. Nonetheless, Holmes keeps the file diligently; Watson cannot tell if Holmes is lying to himself or to him, and is unsure which option upsets him more.

“Adler’s keeping herself busy,” he observes, and almost winces at how bitter his tone is; Holmes can read every one of his emotions as it is, without Watson being quite so painfully obvious.

“She does appear to be, yes,” Holmes agrees neutrally, not looking at him. Watson contemplates just getting out from underneath the table and leaving him to his obsession with an unattainable woman expressed through dozens of bits of paper and too many newspaper cuttings, but that smacks too much of jealousy and he cannot bring himself to do it. Instead, he leans a little into Holmes’ shoulder to look at the latest newspaper cutting, and pretends not to notice Holmes’ whole body stiffen momentarily.

“What’s she done now?” he asks, feigning interest because he has nothing else left to him.

“She is engaged to a member of the nouveau riche,” Holmes responds, indicating a scrap of newspaper. There is an illustration on it of someone who could possibly be Irene Adler; Watson has not seen her in a considerable amount of time and it is a lamentably poor print.

“It won’t last six months,” Watson remarks, “and I bet she gets the better part of the divorce settlement.”

“Irene gets the better part of any settlement,” Holmes murmurs, half to himself, and offers Watson a hint of a smile. “Do you say that as a betting man?”

“I am not putting money on how long it takes Adler to ditch this poor bastard,” Watson says, and is pleased at how light he manages to keep his voice.

“Probably just as well,” Holmes says, and his smile is unreadable.

They sit in companionable silence for a while longer; Watson’s shoulders begin to complain from being hunched beneath the table for so long, and he has lost all feeling in his legs, but he does not move.

“You could do this in an armchair,” he points out after a while. “Unless you were lying to me about the probably fatal fumes having dispersed by now.”

Holmes looks affronted. “I would never poison you, dear boy.”

“Well, not intentionally,” Watson replies, smiling to soften the words.

“Not even unintentionally,” Holmes tells him.

“Not even you can control accidents, Holmes,” Watson says. “You may have astonishing powers of deduction and observation, but you are not actually superhuman.”

“Not yet, anyway,” Holmes replies, but he is grinning. “I like it under here,” he adds after a moment, “it is... intimate.”

“It is uncomfortable,” Watson tells him, and for a moment thinks that maybe they are not actually talking about their seating arrangement. But all of this is too stupid and too close to think about right now, so he shifts a little and does not continue.


Mrs Hudson told them that it was like living with children when she came in and found them both beneath the table, but brought them tea anyway. Watson moves to an armchair eventually, when his leg begins to twinge too hard to be ignored, and reads the tattered remains of the newspaper with Gladstone sitting on his feet and growling occasionally. He wonders whether Holmes accidentally poisoned their dog earlier when he was busy filling the room with smoke and toxins, but does not ask; Gladstone seems his usual bad-tempered self so if he has been drugged it does not seem to have had any ill-effects, or, at least, none that were not there already.

When he has sorted out Adler’s file to his own satisfaction – the articles and pictures are not chronologically arranged or even put into categories that seem to make logical sense to anyone but him – Holmes drifts aimlessly around the room for a while, humming to himself and flicking through his books, occasionally jotting things down on the notes from his failed experiment of earlier. Night falls ever more steadily, hours ticking by on the clock on the mantelpiece that they have miraculously not managed to damage yet, and Watson waits for the inevitable.

Eventually, when Holmes has apparently lost interest in researching whatever it was that made those lovely scorch marks all over their table, he closes all the books and leaves them piled about – Watson makes a mental note of where they are, because Holmes will inevitably ask him later about their whereabouts and it is always nice if one of them knows the answer – before heading towards his room.

“Take my shirt off before you leave,” Watson calls, not looking up from the newspaper. “It’s still reasonably new. Go in one of yours.”

Holmes’ smile is bordering on proud, but Watson is not using great skills of deduction; he just knows Holmes far too well. He is a creature of habit, after all; though the habits are ever so destructive and it is frequently difficult to predict when Holmes will decide to indulge in one. Not now, though. Now, it is only too obvious.

“I was just going to do that,” Holmes responds, and it might possibly be the truth. It might not be. Either way, when he walks back into the room a few minutes later he is wearing his own shirt; Watson can tell this by a chemical burn on the left sleeve. Watson has laid the paper aside, and is staring into the flames of the fire.

“Would you like to come?” Holmes asks, and Watson decides that he is imagining the trace of hesitation in Holmes’ tone. Wishful thinking, or something like that. Holmes knows every last thread in social interaction, often gets caught up on the fine details rather than the matter at hand, but even so, he does not do awkward. Oh, he does uncomfortable, yes, but that is another matter entirely.

“Wouldn’t mind,” Watson responds, carefully nonchalant, and gets up, pretending that his leg is not still stinging from prolonged contact with their hard wooden floor. He indulges Holmes in too many of his whims, it is true; but then Holmes is brilliant in all things, even his eccentricities, and Watson would never dream of trying to temper him. He does his best to keep Holmes alive, but he will never allow himself to clip Holmes’ wings. He does not know how he would even begin to try.

They are halfway down the stairs before he says: “you know, you don’t have to do this.”

“I like to keep myself fit,” Holmes replies steadily, “and it’s always good to keep in practice. Who knows who we shall confront in a dark alley one night?”

“Right,” Watson says expressionlessly, “of course.”

He waits until they are in a cab and several streets away before he says: “you don’t actually think that I believe you, do you?”

Holmes’ face is barely visible in the darkness, but Watson thinks that he sees a flash of a smile as they pass a lamppost. “No, of course not. I’d think less of you if I thought you did.”

Watson closes his eyes momentarily, leans his head back against the seat. “Always nice to know,” he says on a sigh.

The Punchbowl is crowded, the sound a physical presence lying over the top of everything else. It smells of sweat and dirt and blood and alcohol and humanity, and as always when he first walks in, Watson has to swallow against a rush of bile in his throat. Holmes appears cheerfully unaffected, nodding acquaintance to a few of the men in the room before weaving his way to the bar. He is far more comfortable here than Watson is; probably because Watson still feels the bite of shame every time he walks in. It is probable that Holmes can feel shame; but he is exceptionally good at not showing it, at acting as though his actions will never cause him the briefest moment of embarrassment. In any case, Holmes was not the one who tried to throw his life away like a used betting slip in here, nothing left to lose and nothing at all to gain. At least, Watson watches Holmes lean sinuously against the bar and laugh a raw laugh and does not think that is what Holmes is trying to do.

Watson knows more of the people who spend their lives in the Punchbowl than he wants to admit, exchanges a few words with the men who know him solely as Doctor, because he might have originally come here with the intention of falling between the cracks of his life but he is not stupid. Contemplating whether he wants a drink of viciously acidic alcohol while he waits, Watson reflects that perhaps there is a reason why Holmes does not demand his presence every time he comes here; Watson has to make the decision to return to the Punchbowl for himself, has to go because he has made that choice, not because Holmes has dragged him.

The realisation makes something inside him twist that he did not notice it earlier. That he let himself think it was Holmes being selfish and shutting him out when it fact it was Holmes looking after him in the only ways he knows how to. The thought burns too hard, low down in Watson’s stomach, and he bites the inside of his mouth. Sometimes he has to remind himself that Holmes is not the only one in Baker Street with desperate inner demons fighting for control.

He places his usual bet almost in a trance, backing Holmes heavily because he knows he will not lose. There are days when Holmes lets himself lose, when he staggers home bloody and breathless and quietly shattered for Watson to piece him back together with recriminations made all the more harsh because he is scared, but Watson does not think it is as bad as all that right now. Yes, Irene Adler is making her presence far too felt in their lives, is carving her reputation through Europe in a way that seems specifically designed to capture Holmes’ attention and he cannot quite make himself cope with it in any way that does not involve violence; but Watson does not think that Holmes is trying to get himself hurt tonight. Whether he actually will or not remains to be seen, but with Holmes half of it is about intention, about the thoughts behind the actions rather than the actions themselves.

It is difficult to be certain, but Watson thinks that he saw Holmes boxing before he ever met him in polite company. That part of his life is too shadowed with alcohol and misery for anything to be sure, but you do not see Holmes fight and forget it in a hurry. And Watson thinks he saw him, brilliant and laughing and dark-haired and impossible, take a man apart with three perfect blows. It cost him nearly a week’s rent at the hotel and he did not eat for three days afterwards to try and make up for the loss, but it was worth it, worth it just to see that perfect level of expertise. There is something beautiful in it, in the grace of the harsh movements.

There is no trace of ennui when Holmes is fighting, no hint at the all-consuming boredom that has him drugging Gladstone and setting innocent items of furniture ablaze. Watson watches him duck and weave, fists moving almost faster than the eye can follow, and finds it impossible to believe that they sat on the floor and drank tea together earlier in the evening, bickering over something mundane like whose fault it was that Watson’s good shirt was torn at the elbow. Holmes’ black hair is stuck flat to his head with sweat, his skin is gleaming and his eyes have the fixed, flat look of a machine; concentrating so hard that he is on another plane of thought altogether. His opponent gets one good punch in, sending Holmes reeling back with his nose dripping blood; Watson attempts a diagnosis from his place at the back of the baying audience, and does not think it is broken, which is probably a good thing, if only because Holmes would be petulant and unbearable about the whole thing and sooner or later he is going to do something so unrespectable that Mrs Hudson will ask them to leave. Holmes laughs, mouth and teeth streamed with scarlet, and applauds the man he is fighting; Watson knows that it is a genuine form of congratulation, that Holmes is impressed the man has managed to get one over on him, but he also knows that Holmes’ opponent sees it as purely mocking and sarcastic, and rage descends over his thickset features. Not that this matters; Holmes is too steady to be distracted by emotion and Watson can see that he is calculating his next move, working out what he must do. It sends an unpleasant shiver through Watson’s stomach, because it is the very expression Holmes wore two weeks ago, mouth wet and red from Watson’s kisses.

He turns away automatically, swallowing to stem the immediate, frantic flow of regret and misery and helpless, desperate anger with both himself and Holmes, and it is a moment before he can look back to the fight. When he does, he realises that Holmes is watching him; although Watson is stood at the back and almost out of sight, Holmes has spotted him and his dark gaze burns concern through the room, as though they are the only two people in it and all Watson can hear is a curious roaring that blocks out the yells and cheers of the people around him. It is a strange moment, one that leaves Watson feeling oddly breathless and confused, but he can see Holmes’ opponent has lost patience and is reaching for Holmes, intending to catch him off-guard. Watson raises a significant eyebrow in warning and Holmes ducks in time, rolling in the sandy dirt and back on his feet a moment later, grinning in a way that is nearly ugly. He gets in two swift shots to the man’s sternum before turning his head and throwing a wink at Watson so fast he knows he is the only one to spot it.

Watson’s smile is pleased and rueful and disbelieving, but Holmes pays for the moment of distraction; the man throws him bodily against the wooden side of the ring and Holmes’ movement to block him is too late; Watson hears Holmes swear sharply between his teeth and as he straightens up Watson can see the unnatural hang of Holmes’ arm and thinks, with a sort of shocked clarity: the bloody man has dislocated his bloody shoulder, followed by: he never bloody learns, does he? Holmes, to his credit, kicks his opponent’s legs out from beneath him and briskly finishes him off with a sharp elbow to his temple, leaving him crumpled in the dirt.

It takes both of them in the dingy little room upstairs to get Holmes’ shoulder back into its socket; Holmes makes helpless animalistic noises and Watson is trembling and pretending that he is not. He recites in his head, over and over, you are a stupid man, you are a fucking stupid man, but he says nothing aloud. He makes a makeshift sling for Holmes out of his own tie, though he knows that Holmes will ignore this sooner or later, and does not blame Holmes as he sits there taking swigs out of a bottle of lord knows what. Finally, Watson cleans the crusting blood from Holmes’ face, pleased to note his nose has stopped bleeding.

Candlelight glances golden off Holmes’ eyelashes and he watches Watson with utter faith, seated on a rickety chair with Watson stood over him. It almost seems as though he is waiting for something, but Watson does not know if he can give it to him. He does not think that it is really his place to be angry, much as he would like to be.

“Irene Adler is not worth this,” Watson murmurs finally, because someone has to say it.

Holmes does not reply; just slides a shaky hand into Watson’s hair and pulls him into a kiss. It lasts barely a moment before Holmes lets go of him; Watson can taste blood on his lips and it is not his own.

“I’m not worth it either,” he hears himself saying.

“I rather think that’s for me to decide, don’t you?” There’s amusement in Holmes’ words, but a hidden sharpness beneath them. Watson’s guts clench.

“Don’t you dare make this my fault. Don’t you even dare.”

Holmes smiles softly up at him, candlelight striping his face. “You should go home, Watson. I would really like to be drunker than I am at this moment in time and you will only stand there being awkward and making me feel guilty. I promise that I will see myself safely home.”

Watson should stay, but he does not want to and Holmes really does not want him to either. He takes a breath. “Promise me.”

“I promise.”

He is at the door when Holmes says thank you, dear Watson, voice so soft he almost does not catch it. He does not look back because he knows that he was not meant to hear it, and determinedly leaves the Punchbowl, leaving his winnings behind.

In the early hours of the morning, drifting in and out of an uneasy sleep, Watson can hear Holmes playing the violin. He does not think that Holmes should be playing at all, given the state his shoulder is in, and he is about to bang on the wall and point out discordantly playing random notes at inhuman hours is in no way endearing, whatever Holmes wants to believe, when he realises that Holmes is not doing that. Half-asleep, it takes Watson a moment to place the tune; Mendelssohn’s Lieder and he vaguely recalls he may once have told Holmes that it was his favourite.

Watson lets the melody, played absolutely perfectly, lull him back to sleep. When he next wakes up, the rooms are silent, and he almost wonders whether he dreamed it.


Holmes is fast asleep on his tiger skin rug when Watson peeps in to check on him the next morning, cheek pillowed on its snarling head, body covered over with his ratty dressing gown that Watson would sincerely like to either burn or examine because it is probably infested with hundreds of interesting and horrific diseases. He looks much more vulnerable and much less crazy in sleep, lying on his right side with his left arm curled protectively against him. The makeshift sling Watson made him is unsurprisingly gone, but his tie is wrapped around Holmes’ bruised fingers, clutched tight. It is going to be creased beyond what even Mrs Hudson’s greatest efforts with an iron can repair and he really rather liked that tie; still, he smiles a rueful little smile and does not try to reclaim it. He considers waking Holmes up and trying to persuade him to sleep in bed, because the floor will not be good for his injured body, but the fact that Holmes is asleep at all is currently a miracle and so Watson decides not to, pulling the curtains closed a little more firmly to keep the sunlight from crawling in.

Watson has a quiet morning with patients, trying not to pay any attention at all the ominous silence from next door; he has become so accustomed to listening to and excusing the strange noises that Holmes makes next door that their absence is horribly unsettling. He would like to think that Holmes is still fast asleep, but that seems like almost too much to hope for.

At lunchtime, he walks into the room to find Holmes holding court with a surprising amount of attempted dignity given that he is still laid out on the tiger rug, gesturing with his right arm at a bemused and incredulous Mrs Hudson.

“...And I absolutely require crumpets right now,” he is explaining, as though this is a matter of life and death and one little mistake could prove fatal. “With butter and jam.” His mouth twists. “Blackcurrant jam,” he decides after a moment. “It is of the utmost importance.”

Mrs Hudson looks as though she would quite like to start laughing, but this urge is tempered by just how awful Holmes looks right now. He is looking particularly wan and battered and martyred and Watson is surprised by how much this irritates him when he considers that Holmes did this to himself. It was an accident, but an accident that Holmes halfway engineered; he does not go to the Punchbowl, after all, thinking he will come home unscathed. One day he will come back with a shattered ribcage or some burst and battered internal organs or brain damage and then Watson does not know what they will do.

“And tea,” Holmes adds. “Lots of tea.”

Watson exchanges a significant look with Mrs Hudson as she passes him, one that expresses a great deal of exhausted fellow-feeling, and then goes to sit in a chair and talk to Holmes.

“You could say please,” he points out, “when you’re making poor Mrs Hudson follow your crazed whims.”

“It’s not a crazed whim,” Holmes protests, looking affronted, “My life needs crumpets in it. Many crumpets.”

Watson is tired and his anxiety has formed a physical knot in his stomach, and he has really had enough of all of this.

“No one’s life needs crumpets in it,” he says, with all the authority of his medical degree and his unfailingly steady hands.

There is an edge in Holmes’ voice when he next speaks, an edge that is almost but not quite hidden, and although Watson catches it he is not sure he is meant to. “I think I am the one who can tell what my life needs most.”

“You’d think that, wouldn’t you,” Watson agrees, and the edge in his own voice is naked in the daylight, blazing just a little too sharp, “but this is one of those rare incidences where you’d be wrong.”

Holmes pretends that he never makes mistakes but they both know that he does, from time to time, though Watson does not record them for posterity and they are both far more comfortable in pretending that Holmes is frequently ridiculous but utterly infallible.

“And who do you think knows what’s best for me?” Holmes demands, almost failing in his effort to keep his tone light. “Nanny, perhaps? Or maybe you think you do, Doctor Watson?”

The way Holmes spits doctor is the last straw. “You have so much self-awareness that you’ve come out the other side and now you are deluding yourself,” Watson tells him, voice shaking just a little.

“You’re being ridiculous,” Holmes informs him stiffly, pushing himself to his feet, dressing gown dropping to the floor. “You are overtired-”

“Stop it,” Watson snaps. “You cannot blame words you do not want to hear on exhaustion, Holmes, and ignore the truth.”

“And what is the truth?” Holmes demands. Watson hesitates just a moment too long, fingers curling over the arms of his chair, aware that if he stands too this will no longer be bickering but a real, genuine argument. “Go on, Watson, I’d be fascinated to hear what you think the truth of the matter is.”

“Your problem,” Watson half-snarls, annoyed by the condescension in Holmes’ tone, and he should stop this, he really should, “is that you think emotion is optional.”

He has wounded something in Holmes, he can see the minute the words have spilled from his mouth. Something flickers in Holmes’ dark eyes, a nerve of some kind has been hit.

“No, I don’t,” Holmes replies, voice barely steady as though clinging to the last shreds of dignity. “But I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

Watson hears himself laughing, ugly and bitter. “Of course, because only the great Sherlock Holmes can understand anything. The rest of us just stumble about like savages in the darkness with no comprehension of anything or anyone.”

He has pushed himself to his feet at some point, anger and anxiety and helplessness mixing within him. He has no idea how to put a stop to this and part of him does not even want to.

“You think that of me?” Holmes asks, and his tone is entirely unreadable.

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes when Watson is tired and bitter and lonely, yes. But he does not think of Holmes that way and never has. He should say this, try and calm this down while there is still time to.

“Can you honestly tell me that I am wrong?” His voice is so cold he does not even recognise it as his own.

Holmes studies him in silence for a moment, dark eyes roving over his face. Watson is breathing too hard, fingers curled into his palms. Holmes is too much like a diamond: cold and hard and too-brilliant and you will cut yourself if you get too close. Watson forces himself not to look away, not to flush under that critical stare.

“That’s not what we’re arguing about,” he says at last.

Watson honestly wants to punch him. “I am sick and tired of picking up the little bloody pieces of you that crawl back from your experiments and your cases and your lethargy and your disdain for humanity. I am weary and scared and you claim you know what you are doing but you don’t and last night you let a man dislocate your shoulder because you were bored. That is what we are arguing about, Holmes, and it is perfectly logical and perfectly evident.”

Holmes is sneering at him the way that he sneers at Lestrade when the inspector is saying something Holmes considers particularly incorrect and facile. He has never looked at Watson that way and it turns his stomach to ice.

“No,” Holmes tells him, “no, we are arguing because you want something from me that I am not yet capable of giving you – though I wish that I were – and you resent me because of it.”

“Holmes, don’t be-”

“You resent me-”

“No, I don’t!” Watson’s shout startles them both. “If I resented you don’t you think I would get out of here while I could?”

“And go where?” Holmes counters. There is a horrible, draining pause. “I cannot give you what you want and so you are looking for excuses to be angry at me about it without seeming to be unreasonable.”

That hurts, that cuts somewhere deep down and he does not know how to make it stop bleeding.

“Fuck you, Holmes.” Watson’s voice has gone soft, exhaustion colouring it. “Fuck you, all right?”

Holmes’ posture is rigid, his expression painfully bland. “That is the problem, is it not?”

“No.” Watson passes a hand over his face, takes a deep breath as he considers his words. “You watch me and observe me and make mental notes and you think you know me.”

“I do know you,” Holmes interjects, certain and just a little haughty.

“You do not,” Watson snaps back. “You like to think you do, but you do not know what it is like to be me.”

His words cut through the room and leave them both silent, aware that they are on distinctly unsteady ground and a push of one way or another could bring all of it crashing down around their ears.

Holmes is the first to move, taking himself over to an armchair over by the window, settling himself in it and picking up a random book.

“What are you doing?” Watson asks, his voice barely above a whisper.

Holmes does not look up. “I am waiting for my crumpets,” he responds calmly, “and then I shall wait for you to forgive me.” His gaze flickers to meet Watson’s for a moment. “You always do.”

Watson wants to throw something at his head. He wants to scream, actually scream, until this no longer aches the way it does. He wants to snarl something like don’t count on it, not this time.

Instead, he turns and leaves to see more patients, slamming the door harder than is at all necessary, and hearing something probably important shatter behind him.


In the middle of the afternoon, in between patients, Mrs Hudson brings Watson a plate of crumpets of his own, and a pot of tea. He scrapes up something approaching a smile for her, and waits until she’s gone before sitting down at his desk and taking a bite out of one. It tastes too sweet in his mouth, disintegrating around his teeth and he puts it hastily back on the plate. Watson is not being a good doctor at the moment; far too snappish, not nearly sympathetic enough, and he knows on another day he will have to apologise to all of his regulars, make up some headache or family crisis that would cause him to be legitimately bad-tempered.

The crumpets go into his wastepaper basket – he will find a way to excuse this to Mrs Hudson later – and Watson contemplates adding liberal measures of the brandy he pretends not to keep in the bottom drawer of his desk to the teapot, before deciding that Holmes has had enough from him today without taking away the last pieces of his respectability too. No one is going to take those, he has fought too hard and too long to let them go now. He sips at the tea as it goes cold, trying not to think about Holmes, about his harsh cruel words, about his facial expressions, about every last thing Watson should really not have said aloud.

Watson lets his head drop into his hands, massages his temples in an attempt to assuage the insistent, thudding pulse there. This is messier than any argument they have ever had in the past; at least in the past they were concerned about concealing the other emotions that flickered darkly behind their words. Now, all of it is out in the open, naked and raw and ugly and painful. Sooner or later, he will have more patients, will have to pick himself up and put himself together and get through the rest of the day. Right now, though, he has five minutes in which to quietly despair.

A slight movement has him raising his head; Mrs Hudson or a patient would have announced themselves, Gladstone would already be trying to eat his crumpets out of the bin or be lying pathetically on the rug looking martyred (and doing a better job than Holmes ever has; possibly because Gladstone has never asked to be drugged with experimental concoctions by a bored scientific genius; at least, not to Watson’s knowledge). He does not see Holmes – his friend is too quick for that – but nonetheless he knows he has been being watched, and the thought makes him grit his teeth. Holmes has never understood the meaning of distance, or of personal space – he was stealing Watson’s clothing and walking in on him in the bathroom within a week of them moving in together – but that does not stop Watson from occasionally hating that he cannot ever have a moment of privacy.

Slowly, he straightens his posture, stretching out his shoulders which hurt from the tension and from having been hunched so long. He stands up, moving to stand by his window and look down onto Baker Street, cheerfully bustling and everyone oblivious to what happens behind cold brick and glass. Because he is listening for it, he hears the soft click of the door to the adjoining room, and resists the childish urge to go and wedge a chair beneath the handle to prevent Holmes from coming out and spying on him again.

A few moments later, he hears the first strains of Holmes’ violin coming through the wall; something by Chopin, he thinks, played so mournfully and sadly it is just long disjointed notes, barely melodious at all.

Something inside him snaps; Watson throws a medical dictionary at the wall dividing the room into two. It makes a satisfying thump and then falls to the floor, spine broken.

“You’ve hurt your shoulder,” he shouts, “you shouldn’t be playing the violin unless you want to make it worse.”

There is a defiant, messy squeak of the strings, and then silence. After a moment, Watson allows himself a smile.


The room is dark when he finally returns to it, fire barely burning and curtains closed against the twilight. Watson sighs and goes about lighting the lamps before anything else; he has had his fill of ambiguity and half-light. This done, he looks around to discover Holmes draped across the sofa, looking particularly tragic and tired, a heavy book lying in his lap. He does not look at Watson, does not look up at all. The violin is lying on a table nearby, and Watson refuses to think that it is wearing an expression of reproach because it is, after all, just a violin. After a moment of contemplation, he walks over to Holmes.

“Move your feet,” he says softly, making a conscious effort to keep harshness from his voice, and Holmes obediently folds his legs up enough to allow Watson to sit on the other end of the sofa. The table next to this end is covered in the day’s post, left unopened, and Watson helps himself to a letter, trying not to let his hands shake as he rips it open.

“Have you forgiven me yet?” Holmes asks as Watson peruses the contents.

“Not yet,” Watson replies. “But I have reached the point where I no longer want to throw things at you, so I feel I can return to a room that contains both you and fragile objects.”

“You broke a vase,” Holmes tells him. “When you the slammed the door earlier.”

“Ah.” Watson turns the letter over; he can solve the case himself, so it will not do for Holmes. Maybe if he is feeling benevolent tomorrow he will reply to the letter and tell Mrs Raines just where her husband keeps disappearing off to; or perhaps he will leave her in blissful ignorance. “Did we like the vase?”

“Not particularly,” Holmes replies. “It was that one with badly-painted begonias on it that was a present from your aunt. Or my aunt.” He looks thoughtful. “One of our aunts anyway. Do we have aunts?”

Watson feels amusement curling his mouth, in spite of it all. “Well, we’d better hope we do, or else the vase was part of some giant plot to bring you down.”

They exchange smiles at the thought and then Watson reaches for more post, tearing another envelope open. Yet another tiresome case of stolen property that is never as interesting as it first appears to be.

“Have you forgiven me now?” Holmes asks after a few minutes.

Watson sighs. “No, Holmes. But nor would I like to continue our argument.”

Holmes nods. “I think we have sufficiently injured each other’s feelings for one day.” When Watson says nothing, he adds: “of course, you could say something like I did not know you had feelings to be injured in the first place and we can continue from there.”

“No,” Watson murmurs, “no, old boy, I’m not going to say that.”

“Probably just as well,” Holmes says after the pause threatens to become even more uncomfortable, “we will only break something nanny is attached to, and then we will find ourselves on the streets with nothing but our charming personalities to protect us.”

“In that case we had better be on our best behaviour,” Watson tells him.

Holmes raises an amused eyebrow. “I believe you are casting dreadful aspersions on both our characters there.”

“Not both of them,” Watson replies, “just yours.”

“Ah,” Holmes says, “well, that’s quite all right then.”

He pushes himself into a sitting position, feet braced against Watson’s thigh (while Watson tries very hard not to notice because, for one thing, now is not the time) and reaches for something on a nearby table before drawing his arm back, wincing. Watson sighs.

“I wish you could decide whether you want to be an invalid or not.”

Holmes smiles softly, but when he speaks he says: “You have no idea what I want. Though, in your defence, apparently I have no idea what you want.”

Part of the reason that Holmes is a detective is that he cannot let things lie, he cannot wait until they have become cloudier and they sting less; it is a wonderful attribute in an investigation, and rather inconvenient the rest of the time.

“Yes,” Watson agrees quietly. “That does rather appear to be the current state of affairs.”

He peruses a few more letters before deciding that there really is not anything to entertain Holmes with, and then looks again at his companion. Holmes is staring into the fire, thoughts clearly miles away from the cluttered room in Baker Street. Watson almost leaves him to it, but then notices the way Holmes’ left arm is still lying limp in his lap and supposes he should check on the injuries from the Punchbowl, just to make sure. It would be very remiss of him to leave Holmes to his own devices when he is actually hurt.

Watson reaches out, lays a careful hand on Holmes’ arm, just below the elbow, and waits. After a minute or two, Holmes’ eyelids flutter and he comes back into the room, attention recaptured with no need for shouting. Watson refined this method out of necessity; Holmes spends far too much time running around inside his own thoughts, and if Baker Street is full of holes and explosions and battered furniture Watson rather dreads to think what the inside of Holmes’ head must be like. In any case, it is best to be able to get him back from wherever he has drifted off to without having to resort to shouting and shaking.

“I need to check on your injuries,” he explains, and helps Holmes pull his – still bloodstained – shirt over his head.

Most of Holmes’ shoulder is dark purple with bruising and his chest is covered in random little marks, showing just what a beating Holmes took last night. Watson takes care to be gentle when checking that they definitely got Holmes’ shoulder back into its socket; he can see the tension in Holmes’ jaw, clenched tightly against the pain and without thinking Watson reaches out to touch. Holmes’ stubble is rough against his fingers and Watson can feel the pulse in his neck against his fingers; Holmes’ heart is beating slightly too hard and slightly too fast and when he swallows Watson feels that click of muscle as well.

Holmes closes his eyes, head bowing, and Watson’s hand slips. He curls his fingers into his palm and brings it back to his own lap, aware that he is not helping matters.

“Are we going to need to have another argument?” Holmes asks, still not looking at him.

“No,” Watson responds, voice barely above a whisper. “No.” He sighs, looks down to where their legs are pressed together, looks at the scant distance between them, and wonders why this is not as easy as it looks like it ought to be.

After a moment, Holmes says: “Watson?” He sounds almost wary, almost cautious.

Watson raises his head, and blurts: “I want you as you are, but you do not want me as you are, and that would destroy me, Sherlock.”

Holmes actually looks stunned and Watson reflects that he really is very tired and still short-tempered and it was about time someone actually told the truth. Besides, Holmes always says that he cannot come to a conclusion if he is not given data, and now Watson has given him data. He has given him probably too much data and really if they are going to deal with any of this it would be best to leave it all alone and eventually forget about it, but at least it has been said now.

After a moment of draining silence, when Holmes does not seem to be able to say anything at all – he neither agrees with nor denies Watson’s words, and that in itself is very telling – Watson decides he needs an early night. Offering Holmes a smile and a pat on the knee he stands up, walks over to the door.

Hesitating, he says: “I liked the Mendelssohn by the way. Thank you.”

Holmes still says nothing and Watson cannot bring himself to turn around. He sighs, and, after a moment, leaves the room, careful to close the door softly behind him.


It was a gradual process, falling in love with Sherlock Holmes. Watson did not suddenly look at him one morning over breakfast – partially because they are rarely up in time to have breakfast together or even to have breakfast at all – and feel his heart shudder into his mouth. He did not glance up from a dead body at Holmes’ thoughtful expression and feel all the pieces of the puzzle tumble into place. He did not even walk into a room to find Holmes lounging in an armchair wearing Watson’s clothes as though he owned them and think that perhaps, in some way, he did. No, it was a slow progression that took a great deal of time and Watson did not even notice that it was happening until it was much too late to turn back.

He almost cannot remember agreeing to move in with Holmes, when his life was at its lowest point and gambling away all his possessions and most of his soul followed by a graceless suicide was looking like the most appealing of his options; presumably there was a conversation of some description, an offer or suggestion of some kind made. He had met Holmes a couple of times in the company of mutual acquaintances – acquaintances which he has, for the most part, failed to keep; living with Holmes really can be distracting and all-consuming – and possibly seen him fight in the Punchbowl, but he was more in awe of him than anything else. Wary, too, since after only a couple of dinners Holmes had squirreled out what Watson then thought of as his darkest secret and displayed it for him in a cramped, airless hallway, smiling benignly all the time. People like that can never be reassuring.

Falling into helping Holmes with cases is much easier to recall. Watson had known Holmes’ name from the papers – though not his face; Holmes is ceaselessly careful in that one aspect of his life – and so had thought he knew what he was getting into. He did not, and from time to time he looks back and laughs at his own naïveté. He could not know, could not have even guessed, that Holmes’ life contained as much destruction as it did deconstruction, that his belongings would be ‘borrowed’ and promptly broken in a search for some kind of truth that always lead to the right place in the end although no one but Holmes could follow its trajectory accurately.

Watson had found Holmes doing a particularly noisy dissection at four in the morning that seemed to involve dropping things far too much – with hindsight, Watson can guess that Holmes wanted to wake him up and get him involved, but that is only because he has a much better working knowledge of Holmes’ methods now – and before he knew it was finishing the dissection himself and giving Holmes ideas as to where the unfortunate dead man might have worked. It seemed logical when Holmes offered to take him with him to these places; Watson might as well see the case through, after all. And then before he knew it he was regularly accompanying Holmes to crime scenes and inappropriate drinking dens and so forth, and Holmes said everything he was thinking aloud in long streams of barely-comprehensible logic, and Watson began to learn about his methods and thought processes and he finally realised he was making deductions of his own, utilising Holmes’ teachings.

He could love Holmes for his mind and leave it at that; Holmes’ mind is startlingly impressive and consistently surprising, and he is clearly more brilliant than most people alive. When Holmes has a case it is like pieces of a shell have cracked off him, leaving him dazzling and bewitching and more brightly lit than he ever usually is. And yet Watson is not solely enamoured of his radiant mind, or else he might have burned his passions out within a few months in Baker Street. Instead, though, Watson found that living with Holmes did not create an existence centred around stalking criminals and composing hopelessly complicated symphonies all the time. Instead, he found himself liking the quiet moments over the newspaper and toast, Gladstone grumbling away to himself beneath one of their chairs, having conversations that batted between them like a game of tennis, both of them careful not to let it drop, passing words to each other in a way that was as natural as breathing. He liked the amused look of a private joke that Holmes gave him over his tinted glasses when the police had once again done something ridiculous that might set them back five minutes but which would never prevent them from solving the case. He liked the fact that Holmes sometimes listened to him when he said stop or do you really think you should? when he would never listen to anyone else who said it.

There was no real moment of stomach-churning realisation, no split-second when Watson looked at Holmes and realised that his admiration and affection had passed into something far more needy and deep. He was not watching Holmes box at the Punchbowl when he found himself following a streak of sweat down Holmes’ spine with far too avid attention – though he has done that on more than one occasion, if he is honest with himself – and although they have walked in on each other in various states of undress on numerous occasions – Holmes does this rather more than Watson does; he really has yet to get the hang of knocking – there was never a defining moment of lust that changed the way he thought about Holmes. In fact, when it comes to gathering facts, there is a woeful lack of them regarding Watson’s developing feelings for Holmes. Whenever it was that he finally knew, it was as though he had always known; it was so screamingly evident that he wondered that everyone did not already know. And then, of course, came the time of terror and anxiety that everyone did already know and were plotting his downfall accordingly.

Now, it is Holmes himself who is the primary problem; Watson cannot work out if this is an improvement or not.


For nearly a fortnight they tiptoe around each other with an unusual degree of care. People who come into contact with them on a regular basis – well, Mrs Hudson and Lestrade, in any case – are clearly disconcerted about the delicate way the two of them are addressing each other, the conversation that does not sing as easily as it used to, the two of them walking a little out of step when previously they matched each other perfectly. They do not spend their evenings annoying each other good-naturedly in front of the fire and do not spend the majority of their waking minutes in each other’s company as they are usually wont to do.

There is a trip to the opera – Rigoletto – and Holmes appears from getting himself ready dressed solely in his own clothes for the first time in as long as Watson can remember. There is something almost disconcerting about it, if only because Watson has become accustomed to working out what it is that Holmes has stolen from him and then calculating the possibilities of retrieving it whenever he sees him. They make uncomfortable small talk in the interval over champagne, as though they are strangers who have never met each other before, and Watson wonders just what it was about this particular argument that got them the distance that they could never achieve before. He knows that there was a time when he would have given anything to get Holmes to give him some peace and quiet, time to lick his wounds, but now is not it and he aches from proximity and confusion.

Even in the privacy of their own rooms, when it is just the two of them, their companionship is fractured, uncomfortable. There are times when they are in their shirtsleeves reading through the post and cheerfully mocking the people who write to Holmes for help but who have solved their own crimes in their written accounts and have not even noticed, when they are laughing together as they always did and it feels perfectly natural. Then there are times when the silence is oppressive, awkward, but neither of them can work out how to break it; or perhaps it is that Watson does not know how to and Holmes is choosing not to. Holmes seems to spend more time in reverie than usual, drifting off on long trains of thought that have him distracted for hours, surfacing only when Watson gently prompts him to eat or the newspaper arrives or a new thought strikes him and he feels the need to start playing with chemicals again.

Towards the end of what has probably been the worst fortnight of Watson’s life – and that includes the two weeks in Afghanistan when they wanted to cut his leg off because they could not remove the shrapnel, and then they thought there was no point cutting it off because he was so clearly going to die anyway, and then he contracted such a high fever that he was screaming for what was apparently days – a case finally becomes interesting enough to intrigue Holmes. Jewellery theft and smuggling that does not bear Irene Adler’s fingerprints – thank God, because that is really the last thing Watson needs right now – and that has Scotland Yard scratching its head in helpless confusion. Not that this is anything particularly unusual, but even Holmes cannot solve the case in his customary ten minutes when Lestrade details it to him and so they find themselves busy once more.

The case makes communication much easier, because in discussing evidence and possibilities and suspects they can both pretend that things are normal without making it feel unnatural, without tension straining and snapping between them. Holmes leads them on a trail through filthy warehouses and run-down pubs, and Watson is pleased that his shoulder has been healing so well because Holmes’ usual brand of clever and roundabout but nonetheless abrasive questioning is, sooner or later, going to get him attacked.

As it turns out, Watson is not quite right about this, but he does not find that out for another two days.

A particularly flawless necklace of emeralds has been stolen from a Mrs Raleigh and she is quite insistent that she get it back. Holmes, having wandered around her bedroom asking personal questions (and having been slapped by a maidservant downstairs for asking even more personal questions, while Watson stood back attempting to work out whether he wanted to laugh or to put a stop to Holmes’ blithe insolence) and found a set of muddied footprints, is confident that they are making headway. After dragging Watson to a neighbourhood of gambling and drinking dens that he would really rather not be in – he has been here before, after all, at a rather different point in his life – Holmes asks some questions, licks some grit off his fingers and makes approving noises, and announces that he knows the name of the gang who are orchestrating the thefts and can name their meeting place for tonight.

All of which has lead to the two of them standing in an alley, shivering in the cold, waiting beneath the window of a pub. The general public were all forced out of here an hour ago so that this meeting could take place; it is impossible to make out individual voices in the hubbub drifting through the thin glass, but Holmes remains confident that at least one member will leave early, which tells Watson that Holmes probably knows more than he is letting on. In any case, they must wait until said member leaves, and then follow him, and, in Holmes’ words, ‘twist his arm’. Watson has a horrible suspicion that Holmes means this literally and is not looking forward to it; it is enough to know that they are both capable of breaking a man’s arm with an unsettlingly low level of effort without them actually having to do it.

Watson thrusts his hands further into the pockets of his coat, shivering. He is wearing one of Holmes’ shirts – most of his are being laundered, and the others have been stolen by Holmes, who was experimenting with mercury before this case arrived and all his clothing turned out to be surprisingly flammable – and it is a little too broad across the shoulders. He itches to say something (they are making too much noise in the pub for anyone outside to be overheard, provided they whisper), but he cannot think of anything to say but to complain that he is losing all feeling in his extremities, and that feels a little too much like stating the obvious.

“I should have let you do this on your own,” he murmurs at last, breath misting in the air in front of him. “I could be safe and warm by the fire right now, with brandy and a newspaper and possibly some kind of tobacco.”

Holmes smiles; it is barely possibly to see him, poorly illuminated as they are by the light spilling through the grimy windows of the buildings around them. “You would not be enjoying yourself,” he responds softly, “you would be worrying in that endearing mother hen way that you have.”

This is all too true, but Watson would like to pretend that it is not. “Or perhaps I would be tucked up in bed,” he continues. “And you could be contracting hypothermia all on your own.”

“You would not like nursing me through hypothermia,” Holmes reminds him softly. “And really, Watson, you have done this many times before; you should know by now that we must be quiet.”

“They can’t hear us,” Watson hisses, irritating rising at Holmes’ patronising tone. “I am freezing my extremities off for you, the least you can manage is half a conversation.”

Holmes moves from standing beside him to standing in front of him, face hidden almost completely in shadow.

“I want you to be quiet, and you want to be warm,” he whispers, so soft Watson can barely hear him. “For once, I can at least think of a solution that will enable us both to get what we want.”

Watson opens his mouth to demand clarification but Holmes seals their lips together before he can get one syllable out. The warmth of Holmes’ mouth against his is startling, and Watson is about to stop him because they could be seen when he remembers that no, they cannot; it is dark as dark out here and there is no one around; they will hear anyone who leaves the pub, and that at point they will have a chase on their hands. This cannot end well, it can only end in ruination, but Watson honestly cannot stop himself from kissing Holmes back, taking out every last moment of frustration and loneliness and misery from the last few weeks in his teeth against Holmes’ lips, his numb fingers curling and clenching in Holmes’ hair.

Barely aware what he is doing, Watson catches Holmes off-guard, turning the two of them around so that Holmes is slammed against the brick wall behind them, pinned in place with Watson’s thigh between both of his. Watson feels Holmes gasp into his mouth, something that sounds like a swallowed moan, and he can feel the first stirrings of Holmes’ interest against his hip. He holds Holmes harder against the wall, one hand curling a little too hard over Holmes’ waist, kissing him so hard his mouth is starting to hurt, lips sore and bruised. Holmes’ breathing is desperate and irregular, hungry hands skidding down Watson’s back; one cups his arse, trying to pull him closer though there is not a fraction of an inch between them. It is stupid and reckless for them to be doing this here and now, after two weeks of living as almost strangers, and Watson is going to tell Holmes this, tell him the moment he can think clearly enough to take a deep breath and move away.

Watson can hardly breathe, can feel Holmes shivering against him and it cannot entirely be the cold weather, and even when they have parted for breath they are still pressed close enough for their lips to collide almost accidentally on any exhalation. Holmes lets out a soft sound that is almost like a whimper as Watson shifts his thigh higher between Holmes’ and this is not the place or the time but Watson does not know how to stop this and apparently neither does Holmes and he presses their lips together for another stinging, consuming kiss.

At first, Watson does not register the hurried footsteps, the sound of a hearty cough in the cold night air, and then he realises what the sounds mean. Another second passes, in which Holmes tries fruitlessly to drag him closer, as though he wants them both to occupy the same space in the universe, become one, and Watson realises that their man has left the pub and they need to get after him. He waits for Holmes to move, and then, with a rush of shock that he cannot quite comprehend, realises that he has distracted Holmes so much that Holmes has completely missed their man leaving.

Later, he is going to dwell on this fact with something that might be astonishment and might be horror, but right now they have a criminal to follow.

Watson pulls away from Holmes as quickly as he can; the footsteps of their man are already fading and they are running out of time.

“He’s gone,” he manages, voice ragged and breathless, and starts running. After a moment he hears Holmes curse and start running after him, but Watson knows he does not have time to wait for Holmes. He pounds through the maze of streets, following footprints on the ground and the faint sound ahead of him.

It appears that Watson has not been quiet enough; he rounds a corner to find the criminal they have been chasing waiting for him with a nasty smile that glints in the moonlight, but what glints more is the long silver knife in his hand. Watson tries to move but skidding to a halt has made him ungainly and the blade plunges into his chest. Choking, he stumbles back, feeling warm blood flooding inside the inside of his coat. As he takes a sharp elbow to the temple and falls to the ground, his last semi-conscious thought is that at least this is Holmes’ shirt for once.

{continued here}
Tags: character: john watson, character: sherlock holmes, movie: sherlock holmes, pairing: sherlock holmes/john watson, type: slash

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