The Solitary Vice

Despite what my friend might think when I berate him on the subject of his own recreational vices, I am not a man who clings blindly to dogma.

I was aware, in 1883, of the limits of current medical knowledge. I had made it into my third decade of life while indulging frequently in the habit which current medical opinion says must surely lead to insanity and ruin within a few short years. It does not do, however, for a medical man to wholly ignore the advice of his fellows. So it was that in the second year of my cohabitation with Sherlock Holmes, I made up my mind that I would desist once and for all the daily habit of self-abuse so roundly condemned by my profession, and evaluate scientifically the effect that its absence had on my constitution.

The decision was not made hastily. I had of late several patients presenting with convulsive fits. The bromide of potash is very effective in the treatment of these fits, and I have not forgotten that the method of action for this drug is held to be its dulling of the sexual response. It would be irresponsible of me, therefore, to ignore the current medical literature so far as to neglect to mention this mechanism of action to my patients: I must recommend that they abstain from the self-abuse that is purported to cause the convulsive condition, as well as many others. Cura te ipsum: it began to impress upon me that I could not hope to insist upon this point in my patients if I was not willing to follow the advice for myself.

There are many manuals of hygiene available to the general public which give recommendations on the cessation of the habit. I did not read any of them. I thought myself above the need for such things, and that this change in my habits would be simple, painless, and private.

Private! Imagine. Two years of cohabitation with Holmes, and I still believed there to be some part of my life that could be considered private.

He noticed at once, of course. Whether it was some detail of my attire or expression which gave me away, or whether he is so sensitive to my nighttime habits even through the floor that separates our bedrooms that he could divine what I was pointedly not doing in my own bed, I do not know. All options were equally horrifying to contemplate, so I did not press him for an explanation when, on the first morning of my experiment, I came down to breakfast to be greeted with narrowed slate-grey eyes and a cryptic, although not cryptic enough, comment: “I see we will need to find a case requiring some little physical exertion for you today, Watson.”

I am not an actor like my friend, and I’m afraid I did a very poor job of disguising my shock and embarrassment at his observation. Seeing my surprise, he waved one elegant hand as if to erase the memory of what he had just said, and passed me a plate on which to serve myself my breakfast.

I could sense his keen eyes watching me as I chose only a few pieces of toast, unbuttered, for my meal. It is well-known that putting to rest the sexual appetite requires an asceticism as regards the other senses. Rich food is one avenue through which the mind can be tempted back into a preoccupation with pleasures of the flesh. This is what my texts say, anyway, and what I would say to any patient in a position to be counseled on the subject. Holmes watched me take my plain meal, stretching back in his chair in his dressing-gown, which flowed down from his sides to pool on the floor. He linked his fingers behind his head and stretched his long legs out, seemingly enjoying the spectacle of my deprivation, but mercifully said no more on the subject.

Holmes did indeed manage to procure, seemingly from thin air, a case which required me to tuck my revolver in my pocket. I was grateful for the distraction, for– as Holmes had clearly seen– I was irritable, and the excitement of the case helped to take my mind off the constant low hum of pent-up excitement coursing through my body. I felt confident in myself as I collapsed into bed, keeping my hands resolutely on top of the bedclothes. I was sure that this would be not only possible, but– despite the minor irritation of Holmes’ being aware of the experiment– perhaps even easier than I’d thought, so long as we were kept flush in cases of the type that Holmes and I both preferred anyway.

I was a fool. It was not my own mind, or even Holmes’, which made a fool of me, but my own damnable body, which seemed to have a mind of its own.

I woke up, of course, in the stickiness of my own nocturnal spending. If Holmes could not hear me groan in frustration through the floor, he surely noticed the colour in my cheeks at the assumption that he would divine my failure as I descended the steps. A self-fulfilling prophecy, then, to be shamefaced in advance, but I could not help it.

Holmes was waiting for me at the table, a small smile on his lips and two pieces of toasted bread waiting at my place.

I sat down and ate with as much dignity as I could muster. Despite the accidental reprieve, my irritability had returned in full force, and I found myself thinking rather unkindly of Holmes. It wouldn’t be so bad for a man to eat toast for breakfast if he didn’t have a fellow-lodger eating steak and eggs just at his elbow.

In fact, I was sure that I had never witnessed Holmes eating so heartily at breakfast-time. It was more common for our roles to be reversed, with me replenishing myself with meat and eggs while my friend nibbled at toast.

I had a few undemanding patients to visit in the morning, and returned to Baker Street in the afternoon in hopes of a case. No such luck.

Holmes frequently gives me cause to describe him as somewhat bohemian in nature; at times, though, he can present himself as positively libertine. He spent the entire afternoon lounging about in not one but a succession of dressing gowns, alternating between playing a selection of pieces on the violin that he knows to be my favourite, and engaging in some sort of chemical analysis of various perfumes.

It is true that perfumes do often illustrate solutions in cases. I could not possibly object to Holmes making a further study of some of the newer concoctions to have come out of the great French perfumeries in the past couple years.

The problem was not the ostentatious dress, or the music, or the perfectly pleasant scents. The problem was Holmes himself.

Holmes’ neck curving elegantly to the side to hold his violin in place. Holmes’ fingers manipulating his delicate chemical instruments. Holmes’s bare toes curling over the edge of the settee.

All these aspects of my mystifying, compelling, infuriating companion which under normal circumstances I can choose to put out of my mind until a moment that is convenient for me, were suddenly impossible to ignore. And Holmes is a good actor, but he is not so good an actor as to disguise that fact that he is acting, not to me at least.

No, he was putting on a performance of sensuality specifically for my benefit— or rather, my detriment. To what end, I could not imagine— or rather, I could imagine, in vivid colours and detail usually reserved for more private moments. What I could not imagine, at that time, was that Holmes intended this effect. My friend has just enough of a wicked sense of humour, and the inclination to turn it on me when he is unoccupied, that I was still capable of viewing the spectacle he was making of himself and assuming he intended merely to vex me.

Well, vex me he did— all throughout the afternoon, during supper, and in the evening, while I made my best attempt to sort through a pile of the dullest articles from the most recent medical journals. By the time it reached the hour I would usually retire to bed, I was wishing that I had donned a loose dressing gown of my own, and I realized I would require drastic action if I were to survive the evening unsullied by my own hand.

The bromide of potash, as I have said, is highly effective in the treatment of convulsions, an effect ascribed to its dulling of the sexual response. Therefore, I shuffled shamefacedly into the kitchen to fetch a spoon and some sugar, and then upstairs to my medical kit to pour myself a dose.

Just at the moment when the sweet-bitter concoction was passing my lips, I heard a great crash, and Holmes entered my bedroom, having obviously just realized my intentions and hurled himself up the stairs at top speed. “Watson!” He burst out, “Surely you do not intend to—“

I raised my eyebrows at him, placing the spoon down deliberately on the desk to indicate that yes, I did intend to and in fact had already taken the drug. His brows snapped together, and for a moment I almost found myself shrinking back from him— Holmes can be quite arresting when angry, as I had witnessed many times in the course of various investigations.

However, I forced myself to stand straight and meet his eyes, ignoring the effect that the posture surely had on the protrusion in my trousers. Holmes had entered my bedroom, without announcing himself, I told myself sternly; any indecency he saw there should therefore weigh on his mind, not mine.

It did not appear to weigh on his mind at all. Instead, he simply cast over me with the same sharp, all-seeing eye that he would use were I an interesting new client. “Surely,” he commented, “It is hypocritical to resort so quickly to dosing yourself chemically to calm an errant mind, when you are so adamantly against my own habit.”

I bristled at him, intentionally using the same voice that I use with patients when I explained, “The drugs are hardly similar. Bromide of potash, in an appropriate dose, is quite safe. I would not prevent you from taking it, had you need of it.”

I had not thought overnuch about the last sentence of my explanation before it escaped my throat, but Holmes seemed fascinated by it. His lips curled, and his lively eyes caught mine and held them as he said, “But I would not take such a drug, my dear fellow, for I have no desire to experience its effects— and neither should you have.”

I found myself quite stymied. For him to expend effort in vexing me is not all that surprising. But in order for Holmes to deny an effect that has been commonly accepted by medical science usually means that he has designed his own experiments and drawn his own conclusions. That, however, was too much to contemplate, especially with the drowsiness already making its way through my system. So I simply waved him away, turning to undress and assuming he would not take this so far as to remain when I clearly wanted him gone. Mercifully, he went.

The next evening, however, Holmes was ready for me.

When I went upstairs to my bedroom, changed into my nightshirt and was planning on taking another dose of the bromide of potash, I found the bottle gone from my medical bag. Locating it did not require a very difficult deduction.

He was in the sitting-room just as I had left him, and when he glanced up at my entry and caught sight of my face, he responded to the fury written plainly on my features with a self-satisfied smile. “Your irritation is all the more appealing when you are in this state, Watson,” he remarked.

“And you would know, as the foremost connoisseur of my irritation,” I fumed. “You seem to hoard it, ever seeking new varieties. I think, Holmes, that you have tasted ‘don’t remove possessions from my bedroom’ before– how is it this time? Has it aged well?”

“Deliciously,” he murmured, and his genuine enjoyment of my misery was both infuriating and– well. I have always followed where Holmes has led, and given him all that he desires. My anger softened a little despite myself as he roused himself from his seat to make his way towards me, and then take my arm.

“Come, dear fellow,” he said. “If you truly wish to restrain yourself, I have no objection– so long as the restraint is not chemical.”

He stopped briefly before his own bedroom, leaving me to wonder what on earth he meant by that. When he emerged, it was with two sizeable lengths of rope.

I am afraid I was struck quite dumb at this development, and although I could not possibly imagine this scene continuing in reality as it was suddenly playing out in my mind, I followed him unthinkingly up the stairs. What excuse can I offer? I have already written that I have always followed where he has led.

When we arrived at my chamber, Holmes immediately set about knotting the rope securely around the wooden bedposts. When he was finished he looked up at me, brows arched, expectant: “Well, Watson? You intended to retire, and you intended that your hands not wander beneath the bedclothes. I do not wish for you to dull your senses with the bromide of potash– they are too valuable to me. Is this solution acceptable?”

My mouth opened and closed several times, I am sure, searching for the words to express that no, this solution was not acceptable, and I would not be allowing Holmes to tie my hands to my own bedpost. Unfortunately, my traitorous body yet again had other ideas, and I heard myself saying, “Very well,” as I climbed into the bed.

He did not linger over the task of tying me; his long fingers did not caress my wrists as he bound them, he did not stare deeply into my eyes, and he did not spend too much time checking the fit of the knots. It did not matter. Every accidental brush of his fingers felt like my skin was ablaze, and the tumescence which had been threatening me all day finally overcame by defenses. I was wearing my nightshirt, and I was sure he could see quite well through the fabric how I was affected. I struggled a little against the bonds, to what purpose I could not quite say, and he pulled back, satisfied.

“That will do quite nicely,” he said, and I could only scowl up at him.

Then, quite suddenly, his severe features took on a look of unexpected tenderness, and he leaned back in. I could smell the tobacco on his breath and the pomade in his hair as he brushed the back of his hand gently across my damp brow.

“Watson,” he said, “You will call me if you require anything in the night? I do not wish you to be… uncomfortable. Any more than you intend to be, anyway.” His hand pulled away, and I lifted my head off of the bed, trying to follow the sensation of his cool fingers on my hot skin.

Call him. Would I call him, I wondered? Would I call him if I needed to relieve myself, or if the knots chafed too strongly against my skin? Would I call him if my mind– still, after several years, fickle in the aftermath of the war– turned on me, and I found myself shaking and sweating with shadowy, sandy panic, unable to move?

No. I knew I would not call him for that.

But I did wish to call him. Or rather, I fervently wished that he would never leave: that his hands would remain on my brow, and that he would sit on the bed beside me and allow me to press my side into his sinewy hip, and a good deal else besides.

“I will,” I lied. He frowned slightly– lying to Sherlock Holmes is a disastrous proposition at the best of times, and I was not at my best– but said nothing and extinguished the lamp.

The moment I was alone in the room, it was as if my hearing had been sensitized to the point that I could have been Holmes himself, stranded in the darkness but attuned to all of the goings-on of my surroundings. My cock was so full as to be painful, and I tried to ignore it by following the clatter of cabs up and the footsteps of drunks and policemen up and down the street. I found myself thrusting involuntarily into empty air, my hands straining against the ropes, and pulled my mind back by trying to discern the words of a street-preacher not yet given up for the evening. It was either wind or rain or some combination of both that buffeted the slate over my head, but that was constant and thus uninteresting, and I found my mind pulled back to my body, bound and frustrated and sensitive to every sound.

And there were other noises coming from beneath me.

Holmes often keeps odd hours, but he is nothing if not considerate of my own sleep. He is capable of moving exceedingly quietly when he wishes to, and I have never once been woken by his activities after I have gone to sleep, despite his bedchamber being right below mine. The only times that he makes any sound at all is when he knows– whether by deduction or intuition I do not wish to know– that I am awake, and that memories of slaughter and suffering I am powerless to prevent are the cause. Only then do I hear him as he takes out his violin and plays for me through the thin floor of my room.

He was not playing the violin for me that night, as I lay with my hands bound and my prick throbbing.

I could hear every motion that he was making– deliberately, for my ears. I heard the squeak of the wardrobe door, the soft hiss of fabric against skin as he removed his clothes and drawers, and the splash of the washing basin. I heard the bed shifting as he sunk into it forcefully, expelling a sigh of air.

I heard his breathing, exaggerated in volume. Then, the further shifting of the horsehair bolster and spring mattress. Regular. Rhythmical.

God damn him, I thought faintly, and it was a good thing that I was already reclining or I would have nearly fainted with arousal at the idea. My imagination– already rather vivid where Holmes was concerned– had been sharpened by days of deprivation, and the sounds floating through the floorboards seemed for a moment as good as actually being in the room with him. Holmes was directly beneath me. I could see in my mind’s eye him spread out on the bed, limbs nearly too long to fit on the mattress when fully extended. He was on his belly, delicate, gorgeous fingers curled into a loose fist beneath his groin, hand remaining still as he fucked into it. He was emitting little moans, just loud enough that they were sure to be audible from my position– his rich tenor gone breathy and desperate, and before I had taken any conscious decision, I felt the sharp pain in my wrists of the knots pulling as I flipped over onto my front. My arms, still tied up above my head, had no choice but to cross over each other, and I found myself strung up even more tightly, the position pulling at my injured shoulder– but I didn’t care. I was rutting into the mattress as enthusiastically as Holmes, completely lost to reason.

I strained to decipher the sounds he was making, all while knowing that he was doing the same to me, likely much more successfully: constructing me in his mind like a case, desperate, arms crossed, cock hard and driving into the sheets over and over again. When I finally spent, it was with a bitten-off cry that would, had I allowed it, have been Holmes’ name.

After that, there was silence.

I tried to quiet my breathing in the dark, but I could not help the sound of the mattress creaking and my own pained groan as I flipped back over onto my back, my wrists protesting at the ill-treatment. I had spent directly into the middle of the bed, and with so little movement available to me, there was no escaping the dampness which soaked through my nightshirt and made the skin of my lower back sticky and uncomfortable.

Holmes’ room was entirely silent underneath me. I do not wish you to be uncomfortable, he had said. And then he had made sure that I was. And had left strict instructions to call for him, in that circumstance.

Holmes wanted me to call for him, and he wanted me to do it in full acknowledgement that the goal I had set for myself was detrimental to me. Why, though? Why would he care whether I resisted or embraced my body’s insistent desires? And was he aware that the most insistent of all was the desire for him?

The conclusion was almost unthinkable, but inescapable. Of course Holmes knew; he was directly beneath me lying in a puddle of his own spend just as I was. The realization that he knew all hit me like a bolt of lightning, and my mouth opened to call out for him– but I clamped it shut just as quickly, resisting.

Holmes had set this scene up masterfully; me, tied up and repentant, submitting to his will as I accepted his desires. And I would do so, I resolved; but not in the way that he intended.

I struggled a little to sit up against the headboard. In that position, there was a little more play in the ropes, and I could see that the knots were not as secure as he surely would have made them had he thought I was truly going to make an attempt to escape. The right hand, I managed to loosen and then escape from with only a few minutes of circling the wrist around to loosen the knots; the left, then, I was able to remove quite simply. I could not leave the bed, or I would be discovered; but with my hands free, my arousal satisfied, and my mind made up on the course of action that I would take with Holmes, I was soon able to succumb to sleep.

The mind– even an ordinary one such as mine– has remarkable powers of alertness even when asleep. I remembered well from the Afghan campaign how, the morning of an important action, all of the men were invariably awake several moments before they were due to be roused– not so early as to impede their rest overmuch, but enough to avoid the shock of being woken by the previous watchman. So it was that morning that my mind, somehow alert to the goings-on in the house despite being at rest, woke me early. Holmes, so far as I could tell, was still asleep– I felt sure that he would have come by to untie me, had we both woken at a usual hour.

I had some time to prepare, then. As quietly as I could, I rose and washed. Only when I was certain that I was as clean as a man could be without a full bath did I dress and descend the stairs.

I head stirrings the moment I set foot on the landing– of course Holmes, expecting to find me still tied up in the morning, was roused by the sound of my footsteps on the landing. He was only just sitting up in bed, however, when I opened the door and entered his room without knocking.

Seeing Holmes surprised is a pleasure. In this case, the surprise was not so much that I had succeeded in escaping the bonds– he had purposefully not made them inescapable– but, I hope, at my having chosen to do so, and at what I very much hoped was the confident expression on my face.

And I had the pleasure of surprising him twice in one morning. For, no matter what he thought he was provoking when he planned out his display of the previous evening, apparently he had still not been expecting it to result in a fully dressed John Watson entering his bedroom, seizing his face none too gently, and kissing him.

It was just a momentary kiss– I did not linger– but in that moment, I felt that everything hung in the balance. I had saved up all of my steadiness and courage to get me through to this moment, and after it was over, I knew, I would have none left. I would simply have to trust that from this point, the way forward would become clear as the moments passed, in the same way that one never wonders what to do next in a dream or a fantasy. That is, if I had not been deluding myself that my fantasy was, in fact, reciprocal.

When I pulled back from Holmes’ surprisingly soft, warm lips, I breathed a sigh of relief. Holmes can read me like a book, but I can at the very least read him like a series of sign-posts, and pure joy is uncommon enough in him to be distinctive. His eyes were wide, lips parted, breathing much harder than before.

The effect that the kiss had on him gave me the confidence to go on. I knelt on his bed, swinging one leg over such that I was nearly sitting on his calves, and could stare directly into his grey eyes as I said, “Well, Holmes? You wanted me at full sexual power, and are quite convinced that engaging in the solitary vice is helpful, not detrimental, to the performance of partnered vices. I am willing to undertake this experiment with you. How do you want it?”

At this, his eyes widened, and I could not help but smile as I continued, “It is thanks to you that we have come to this pass, so I am willing to let you make the first choice. Do you regret the loss of the opportunity to find me tied up and wanting? Or were you hoping, with all your displays of sensuality, to goad me into claiming you as my own? Both are entirely appealing to me, I assure you.”

He said nothing, a look of helpless arousal spreading across his face. When I realized that I had flustered him into silence, I could not resist taking advantage of the rare opportunity. I pushed him down with a hand on his chest, such that he was reclining and I kneeling over him. From this angle, he looked almost delicate, his lean body spread out pliantly beneath me, and I knew suddenly what I hoped his response would be.

“Yes,” he managed to gasp. “Yes, my dear– like this.”

His nightshirt was buttoned down the front and easily removed. He stared at my fingers as I undid them and pulled his clothes off, as if marveling– him, marveling at me.

“You have recovered your virility from your ill-conceived experiment,” he observed. Nude, he could no doubt feel the hardness pushing into his flesh through my clothes.

“I never lost it,” I growled, briefly pushing myself off of him to remove the clothes which I had only just put on in the first place. “Neither was I able to turn my mind away from vice for so much as a moment. How could I, sharing a living space with you?"

Nude myself now, I clambered back onto him, allowing him to take in the sight of me. I do not consider my body to be a particularly impressive specimen, but I have seen much worse, and I am in no way ashamed of it– and certainly not of the knotted scar on my shoulder, the mark of the Jezail bullet which put my in Holmes’ path. His eyes lingered on, it, fascinated. He had seen it before, no doubt, at the Turkish bath, but the way he could feast his eyes now was different, so I allowed it.

“I turn your mind to vice?” he asked innocently.

The vain man wished to be complemented, of course– he already knew the answer to that question. Well, if he wished for compliments, he would get them. I seized his wrists from where they lay at his sides, and pressed them to the bedclothes beside his head. Holmes was strong, but on a day when my wound was not paining me I was still stronger, and I was in by far the better position. He could not have moved had he wished to. “You do,” I snarled. “Everything you do, Holmes, has been specifically designed to appeal to my senses. Your violin playing displays your long, delicate neck–” I released one of his wrists to free my hand to trail down his throat, from chin to the top of his sternum. Then I pressed the hand lightly over his windpipe, demonstrating my complete control over his body, and I could feel his cockstand growing beneath my buttocks.

John,” he wheezed, and then gasped as I released him to regrasp his wrist, this time raising his hand to my lips. “Moving these delicate fingers like they were made for the fingerboard of a violin,” I continued. “I could watch your fingers for hours, Sherlock. And as wondrous as your playing is… I think we can find other uses for them.” His fingers were curled loosely into is hand, and I could not resist taking the index finger and drawing it into my mouth. I know myself how shockingly arousing a mere finger in a companion’s mouth can be with a skillfully applied tongue, and as I expected, when I released his hand to admire the sheen of my saliva on his long perfect finger, he arched his hips up into me desperately.

“I’ll do anything you want with them,” he promised. “For the rest of our days, I swear it, only–”

Whatever the rest of his plea was going to be, it was cut of when I dipped my head to taste his nipples. I was entirely distracted with the task when I felt him moving slightly under me, shuffling to the side, and then pressing something into my hand.

I looked down at what I was holding, and discovered it was a vial of oil. Covering up my surprise was the work of a mere moment. I had always assumed that it must be one of two options, with Holmes– either he had no interest in intimate relations of any kind, or else he must be a confirmed invert. If the latter, it was unthinkable that a mind so bent on comprehensive knowledge of every subject which interested him would not have made a thorough and complete study of all of the sexual acts possible between two men. I took the oil, and though the thought of Holmes with other men should perhaps have disturbed me, I found it only spurred on my resolve to claim him as my own.

He shuffled up, opening his legs to me with the exact same utter absence of shame that he had been taunting me with for the past few days. It was remarkable how the Holmes draped over the sitting-room settee, the Holmes gently swaying to the music of his violin, and the Holmes presenting himself for penetration all bore some fundamental resemblance to each other. It began to seem almost as if the former two implied the latter; how could I ever have doubted that this was what Holmes wanted, when he was telling me so eloquently with every phrase and gesture?

He groaned as I pushed one oil-slick finger inside of him, almost shocked myself by the heat of his body, the rhythmical pumping of his blood that I could feel clenching around my digit, and the look of complete ecstasy on his face. The idea that I had affected him just as much as he affects me drove me on and I inserted another finger quickly, preparing him as best I could to withstand the intrusion of my cock.

When it came, he took it easily; more evidence in favour of the theory that he was well-versed in these matters. So I drove into him without hesitation, and spoke into his skin: “You are so sure that spending sexually does not decrease one’s mental or physical fitness– and that is through experimentation, like all of your other opinions?”

“Of course,” he said, the words turning into a moan as my prick slid into him again. “I assure you, John, if sexual spending were a non-renewable currency, I would be a pauper by now. I made quite a thorough study of its effects in my youth.”

“In your youth?” I gritted out. It occurred to me that, although he had been quite a free man for the entire time that we had lodged together, I still did not like the idea of other men having Holmes while he came home to Baker Street with me.

He chuckled and rolled his hips up to meet mine. “Since becoming a respectable man with a profession and a flatmate, I have found myself less likely to seek company for these experiments, it is true. I have found my passionate thoughts more… streamlined, of late.”

The thought of it alone caused a light sheen of sweat to break out on my brow with the force of my thrusts into him, and I forced myself to say it aloud, because I couldn’t live not knowing–

“You think of me?” I demanded. “You lie beneath me at night and take yourself silently in hand with my face in your mind?”

“Among other parts of you,” he said, and the sheer lust in his tone tipped me over into my crisis. I allowed myself to grab him roughly and hold myself inside him while I spent– nearly as overwhelmed by sensation as I was by the idea that it was Sherlock Holmes who desired this, that he had been pleasuring himself to the thought of me exactly the same as I had been to the thought of him, and now we could have each other whenever we pleased.

I pulled out as soon as I was able, desperate that he not follow me to completion before I had had a chance to taste him. I had imagined it too many times– having my nose buried in the musk of his prick, being at liberty to lap at his flesh. I did not bother asking permission, knowing now that every half-crazed imagining of mine must have been reflected twofold in his significantly more active mind.

“Yes,” he confirmed as my lips sank down around his length, “yes, please– I cannot tell you how many times I–”

The taste of his ejaculate pushed its way into my mouth suddenly, and I swallowed it down eagerly. I had never tasted a man’s ejaculate before, but I was glad that– even if Holmes was not virginal, nor should I wish him to be– most of these acts could still be new to me.

There remained only one act to be explored for the moment, and it was one which caused my heart a flutter of anxiety. Holmes had admitted that he desired me, after all, but perhaps that only goes so far.

Then his long arms reached down, spider-like, and drew me upwards to press my chest against his, and my mind calmed. I could smell the sweat and sleep and sex on him, and breathed in deep of a scent I looked forward to becoming familiar.

“Well?” he prompted, after an interval of allowing me to bury my nose in his neck without reservation. “Do you feel your body growing full of disease? Is your mind in ruins? Does this loathsome habit tyrannise over you with the inexorable imperiousness of a fiend of darkness? After all, to many eyes the act in which we have just indulged is no more than self-abuse which makes use of the body of another– and even that is lenient.”

I had to laugh at his mockery of the words of the old American preacher, whose volume despite myself I still had on my shelf, and of course agree with Holmes that I felt no such thing. “No indeed,” I admitted. “In fact, I feel remarkably hale and powerful. I will readily admit, however, that one instance of such an occurrence does not make for conclusive evidence.”

He pulled me closer, and murmured, “Well, I would expect nothing less than scientific rigor from you, my dear. Having participated unhelpfully in your experiment into the alternative, I shall now make amends for my horrendous behavior by making myself fully available to aid you in this one.”

The experiment would, of course, take some time to carry out with the required level of care and accuracy. I felt sure that Holmes would not be dissuaded, however, and allowed myself to rest in his arms in anticipation of scientific advances to come.