|tetsubinatu (tetsubinatu) wrote,|
@ 2013-05-29 22:28:00
|Entry tags:||1, acdcanon, fic, sherlock|
A Man of Good Repute (Sherlock Holmes)
Title: A Man of Good Repute
Oevre: ACD Canon
Beta/Brit Pick: my dear friend A
Pairing: Holmes/OMC, some discussion of Holmes/Watson
Word count: 3000+
Warnings: homophobic attitudes consonant with the attitudes of the time
Summary: Watson becomes aware that Holmes has had indecent liaisons with young men.
Given my general debility at the time of taking lodgings in Baker Street, I find myself unable to blame myself too sternly for my failure to notice what should have been obvious to the most obtuse of men, especially given my recent service with some of the most degenerate, if brave, footsoldiers of the Empire. Yet so it was that when I first took up residence with Holmes, I mistook his lack of interest in all petticoated humanity for a natural misanthropy. Perhaps it was a symptom of my general disinterest in life at the time, or perhaps a more deeply rooted despair at a future which seemed in those first months so entirely lacking in all that I held desirable. The ball which had ripped my previous health from me took also my natural assumption of a pretty, young wife and any normal domestic future, for at that time it seemed impossible to me that any woman could look upon my mutilated form with anything other than disgust.
In time, this assumption was overturned by a more healthful attitude, and finally, of course, entirely dissipated by my dear wife's untainted affections. Yet for many months I met Holmes' distaste for all womanhood with an attitude that, at least superficially, matched his point for point. How little I understood him then, or cared to understand.
Yet, having commenced to share lodgings with him, gradually my health improved and yet my sensibility to his most private nature remained obstinately unchanged. I can only explain this peculiar blindness as being that which we do so often acquire regarding those matters and items which are so close and so often relied upon as to become, in effect, invisible by reason of their very familiarity. So it was with Holmes. That which may have struck a healthy, fresh observer as noteworthy, came insensibly to be so taken for granted by me as to be rendered utterly unseen. Holmes, too, came to so regard me, I believe, taking my acceptance - nay my approval - of his way of life, as granted - other than those small matters of his health which, as a doctor, I must necessarily deprecate and had done so from the first days of our acquaintance.
Yet there came a time when the scales were, perforce, ripped from my eyes, and I must render judgement upon my dearest friend as a civilised man, and a Christian.
I am embarrassed, even now, to record that this time did not come for more than a year after I first commenced sharing the lodgings at Baker Street, and - for entirely different reasons - I am further shamed to set down that the inevitable realisation did not come quietly or unmarked by discord and estrangement from my dearest friend and colleague.
It was a cool, autumnal evening. Outside the rain fell lightly, yet in sufficient strength that I was considering abandoning the informal gathering of friends that I had planned on attending that evening in favour of a quiet evening by the fire. Holmes was deep in study of a manuscript which had lately arrived from the Continent, his forehead furrowed as he muttered what could only be imprecations upon the writer's intelligence and ancestry. He did not raise his head as I did when I heard the sharp note of a police whistle, unexpectedly close by. There was a scatter of footsteps along the cobbled street below and then the unexpected creak of a door - our door - opening and softly closing below. I opened my mouth to call out but a strong grip on my wrist caused me to revise my plan. Our landlady was from home this evening, as we both knew, and the door should have been locked. If it had been, I wonder how much longer that evening's revelations would have been postponed.
Holmes shook his head warningly and I subsided. Even as I feared that some intruder lurked below, I trusted his judgement implicitly. He listened, crept catlike to the door of our sitting room and sniffed the air, upon which his shoulders relaxed, and mine with them.
"It is an acquaintance of mine, I believe," he said. "If you would be so kind as to retreat to your room, dear Watson, I will engage to take care of the matter as quickly as possible."
But this I would not allow. Trust him as I might, still that first primal fear lurked unassuaged. I insisted upon remaining for fear that he might be attacked. When Holmes saw that I would not be moved he shook his head. "It would be better if you would go, Watson, but I see that I cannot move you in this. Remember, it was your own choice to remain."
And with that he called softly down the stairs. "You may come up."
The footsteps which crept slowly up the stairwell were light, and I think I thought it may have been one of Holmes' ragged band of Irregulars, but the person upon whom the light of our sitting room eventually fell was not a child but a youth. His costume was ripped, and yet not ragged with age and neglect as were the garments of the indigent poor, but of flashy quality, rent by recent violence. His lips were swollen and red, and his attitude combined belligerence with fear.
"Mr 'Olmes" he said with a familiarity that bordered on insolence. "Good to see yer. It's been a while. I 'eard you 'ad a new friend." And his eyes slid across to me with a look I could not mistake. My mouth dropped open in outrage, but then the rest of his meaning came to me and I looked to my fellow-lodger for his response.
"That's sufficient, I think, Henry," he said with calm authority. "You were in the Square, I take it, when the Police raided it."
Henry sniffed. "Over the railing, I had to go and quick about it. Just look at me! This shirt cost me..."
"It cost you nothing," Holmes stated. "You stole it after your companion fell asleep, knowing that he would have no redress."
Henry's face fell, but his mouth pursed stubbornly. "That's as may be. It's still ruined." A cunning look crossed his face and he angled his young limbs provocatively. "You could make it up to me..."
"I'm letting you stay until the raid is over," Holmes conceded absentmindedly. "Another half an hour should suffice. Sit there and stay quiet. I'll let you know when it's safe to leave." And with that he returned to his manuscript.
Henry sat, somewhat sulkily, and I returned to my own seat, however my pleasure and comfort was spoiled. I turned the pages of my book idly, but all my attention was on the restless youth who fit so ill into our cosy room. When the clock chimed the hour, Holmes gestured and Henry rose.
"What if..." he whined.
Holmes merely looked at him. Henry nodded jerkily, then darted down the stairs and out the door leaving behind only the somewhat unpleasant scent which he affected. I followed at a more sober pace, locking our residence against future intrusion.
"He did not even say thank you," I grumbled as I re-entered the room. Holmes did not appear to register that I had spoken and I regarded him in the flickering gaslight. He looked as ascetic as always, the shadows of his long limbs spiderlike along the carpet before him.
"Well, goodnight," I said awkwardly.
Holmes looked up at me, his eyes dark and knowing. "Goodnight my dear fellow," he said softly, before dropping his head once again to his reading.