By Alia

Disclaimer: The characters depicted below were not created by me. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are the creation of the late and great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. No disrespect is intended.

Summary: Some things are understandable whereas others leave no room for excuse.

Warnings: Dark imagery.

Rating: R for the reasons mentioned above.

Author's Notes: This piece of fiction was orginally posted in 2007 but was revised and reposted in July 2013. It is unbetaed and contains Australian spelling. It also fits into the same universe as Retribution and Restitution.

Comments: Are welcome and can be sent to


As a doctor I am only too aware of the damage that can be sustained by the human body in the heat of passion, or in our case, during those moments when propriety inevitably gives way to violence.

Although it is not often spoken of, and certainly never in polite circles, being a member of the medical profession can sometimes require the treating of patients, who through no fault of their own, find themselves at the mercy of less than considerate partners. I have colleagues who shun such cases, refusing to accept that the presenting woman had anyone other than herself to blame for her injuries, sometimes giving names to them that could only be rivalled by those imposed upon the poor unfortunates who live and work the streets in the White Chapel district.

Of course, having served abroad, I also know that it is not only the fair sex who sometimes find themselves injured during an act of intimacy. Sadly, there were a number of young men in my regiment who suffered terribly at the hands of some of the older officers, men who had found themselves far from home and in need of what was considered suitable company in the absence of an obliging woman. Unlike some of my colleagues I have always believed myself to be completely professional, true to my oath to treat all in need, never minding their status in life or their ability to pay for my services. With this is mind I have given the same care and advice to all I have seen over the years of my practice. More care and less haste.

My experiences abroad and at home here in London have stood me in good stead, but never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined that it may be necessary for me to treat a partner of my own for a similar complaint.

Not someone I cared about, not someone I loved.

I shake my head at the miserable sight before me. I want to turn away, deny what I know to be true, but I know there is no other explanation for the current state of the man who at one time might have been considered my closest friend. That was a time long ago however, long before either of us had realised that the fates had already weighed our chance for happiness, deciding as they must, what could never be.

During times of war the taking of a compliant partner of the same sex can still be explained away as a necessary means of survival to those who understood such circumstance. Whereas the love between men was something that was abhorred by decent society and would never be understood I feared. There was no hope for us. There never had been I realise. For a time infatuation and foolishness had led me to believe that I could revive the long still heart of Sherlock Holmes, but I know now how wrong I had been.

The man lying in amongst the tangled and stained bedclothes alternately tries to cling to me and fend off my efforts to tend him. I do my best to ignore his protests and the look of sorrow I see in his eyes. I needed my wits about me now.

“You must let me help you,” I implore using more force than would usually be necessary for a patient requiring such intimate care.

Of course Holmes is no ordinary patient, and I as he is so fond of reminding me, am not his doctor. His complaints fall blessedly silent though and the struggle of will between us stalls momentarily.

My words are familiar ones; to us both I daresay, having spoken them numerous times over many years of private practice and during our long association, although the voice giving them life was barely recognisable as my own. Certainly it was not something that could be missed by a casual acquaintance, let alone someone as astute as the world’s only consulting detective. Nor it seems is the opportunity to drive one more barb through the tattered remains of my heart.

“Surely Doctor,” he remarks with some bitterness. “You have helped me enough for one night.”

Holmes’s tone and manner are icy cold -- completely belying the warmth of his body from which I have so recently taken my pleasure or the heat of his ardour that has ultimately brought us to this wretched end.

It was all too much.

I release the hold I have on him and sit back, mindful to maintain my balance on the edge of his narrow bed. As anticipated guilt and shame gather around me like old friends, threatening as I knew they would, to steal away my resolve and my ability to right the wrongs I have caused him –caused us both.

Steadying myself, I take a cleansing breath as I regard the man lying before me.

“You have every right to be angry Holmes, but you must allow me to care for you,” I say, reaching for him yet again.

“Never,” he returns.

As I am sure he has already foreseen, his cruel reply is my final undoing and I recoil, my outstretched hand falling lifelessly at my side. The finality and the complete failure of which it speaks is as painful as any wound I suffered during my time abroad.

It is a fitting and just punishment, my conscious supplies-- to be deprived of the opportunity to help him, to atone even in some small way for my loss of control. It is no less than I deserve, I decide. Even in my most fleeting of fantasies I can no longer consider myself his friend and he has made it abundantly clear he will not have me as his lover.

For untold minutes silence envelops the small bedroom. The air is oppressive, the mood miserable.

Gone is the friend I had once known, replaced by a man I hardly recognise anymore and I look away. The unmistakable evidence of our coupling does little to help my composure though and I pass a weary hand over my face and close my eyes.

I can accept the condemnation; I’ve known of Holmes’s feelings for some time, known that the often vigorous nature of our activities would one day lead to this or something worse, but as a man of honour I cannot accept the role for which I have been cast tonight. Not that of a brut of the most abhorrent kind.

Opening my eyes again I shudder at what I have done.

The afternoon and evening was little more than a blur now. Oh, I could still remember the exact moment when my self-prided determination gave way to madness, when his cruel taunts had once again become too much and when I had first struck and then brutalised the man I had once professed to love, but there was little else.

Feelings of frustration and anger were present from early afternoon that much I was sure of. Both are common emotions when living with Holmes, but have become inevitable manifestations of our differences when the heat between us escalates to the point of no return. Frustration for the way he insisted our relations should be, mechanical and without affection, necessary only because of the demands of our bodies and anger that neither of us it seemed could abstain from the other with any reliability.

The rest of it though, the how and why, is gone, lost amongst my rage and our mutual desire to punish one another for something neither of us could have foreseen when we first agreed to share rooms.

We had been doomed from the start, such conflict and torment could only ever end in destruction, only I had not been able to accept it. I had been too enamoured with Holmes in the beginning and the new features of our relationship to question his methods. And then when it became evident that he truly believed that this was all we could ever have it was too late. I could not change him.

I do not know how much time passes before I finally regain some semblance of my wits and I force myself to look at the man on the bed.

Holmes’s eyes are closed now, dark lashes fanned out against pale cheeks. His long legs drawn up to his chest, completely negating his true stature and making him appear more vulnerable than I have ever seen him.

I have no doubt that he was in considerable discomfort and my heart constricts painfully in my chest once again. Being the cause of his distress is the last thing I ever wanted. Despite the horror, the pain and regret I feel, it is also at that very moment that my grief stricken mind finds clarity and at last, recognition of what I must do.

What I should have done long ago.

“This can’t go on Holmes.” I tell him, stealing myself for what I fear will be our final venture together. “If you won’t allow me to help you then I have no alternative but to leave.”

Even with the words out, hanging now in the empty space between us I can hardly believe I have said them aloud, that I had finally given him an ultimatum. The consequence of which I knew I would live with even if they cost me my place in his life.

It is only a moment or two before Holmes opens his eyes and looks at me, stretching his legs to within inches of where I was sitting at the end of the bed but not making contact with me. Only a short time ago he had been full of disdain, now his usually expressive face is completely devoid of all emotion -- cold and uncaring. It is as if I had just given him news of the impending dawn or information of similar import and not a choice that would impact both our lives.

My stomach turns and my heart pounds against the confines of my chest, each beat marking the silent passage of time as seconds become minutes. There is no reaction from Holmes. If anything he looks to be at peace. It is of course what he wanted all along, for me to go – to leave him and prove himself to be truly unworthy of love. The truth is perhaps the hardest to bear. There is no hope for us, there never had been.

I have nowhere to go, no real wish to leave him, but I know I cannot stay here another night.

I stand, hesitating for the briefest of moments before I finally step back. I want to say something before I leave, offer some parting gesture of goodwill, for the years spent at his side, but I know that all I ever wanted to say to him had been said long ago. I am only delaying the inventible now and I turn away instead.

Returning to my own room I find it as cold and as cheerless as the one I have just left. Despite my years of abroad I have little in the way of personal belongings. Filling two small bags with what I can I leave the rest.

In time I will inform my reading public that I have left Baker Street, perhaps to marry or to take up yet another practice of my own elsewhere in the city. Both are plausible explanations and have served us well in the past. I am not sure which excuse I will choose this time, only that it will be the last.

The End.


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