By Alia 2006

Disclaimer: The characters of Sherlock Holmes & Doctor John Watson were created by the late and great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They are not mine. No harm or disrespect is intended.

Summary: Restitution for service far beyond the bounds of friendship.

Warnings: PWP. M/M relationship. Dark themes.

Rating: R

Author's Notes: Another darker than usual look at the relationship between Holmes & Watson. This story is the sequel to Retribution, this time told from Watson's point of view. This work of fan fiction also contains Australian spelling.

Thanks: To TitC and Lyra for betaing this ficlet for me.

Comments: Are always welcome and can be sent to


Using a convenient and less occupied space on the settee to aid my unsteady movements, I rise slowly and carefully from my knees. A solitary step back takes me out of striking distance, and what at any other time might have been harm's way. I do not know why exactly. There is no danger, not anymore. Any real damage was wrought long ago. Tonight was merely another encore performance in the never-ending drama that is our damned and tangled lives.

Despite the fact that I am less than stable on my feet and that my hands shake uncontrollably as I attempt to re-button my fly and straighten my clothing, I know that given the very nature and vigour of our coupling, I have fared far better than my companion.

If there had been any trace of affection between us I may have been inclined to stay and see to his well being, but it is not to be. What had once been a relationship built on mutual respect soured some time ago, and now, with my irritation abated and my body sated, I feel only a pressing need to be away from this place and the man whose presence in my life stands as a constant reminder of my own unnatural weaknesses.

He offers me my freedom every other day, but I dare say he knows I could not leave him even if I wanted to. I have of course taken to regarding the time we must inevitably spend in each other's company with a certain amount of indifference. In his current position however, Holmes makes a very unwelcome sight indeed.

He still lies where I had forced him across the settee, his face turned away, unmoving bar the trembling that I know instinctively is beyond his control at this moment. Not at all the great man I have written so often about to my readers, Sherlock Holmes appears now as broken and used as a two penny whore.

Unlike my own clothing, what remains of his is in a state of uncharacteristic disorder, though it is difficult to pay the discarded dressing gown or the twisted and very likely stained trousers any real interest. A combination of lamp and dying fire light casts an unearthly glow across his bared rump. Marks that bear a striking resemblance to the stamp of my own hands adorn each perfectly rounded cheek.

I should be appalled by the display and what has been the slow and agonising death of our friendship, but having been a not unwilling party to both, the spectacle before me inspires very little in the way of grief. Perhaps I have become accustomed to the games he plays with me and my part in them? Or after so many years, countless dashed hopes and flawed plans to win his heart, I have simply accepted that this is all we can ever share.

I feel a familiar tightening in my chest and a thickening in my throat as I let my eyes drink their fill of him. As vulnerable and exposed as he is right now, I find no satisfaction in it. I had known since early afternoon that his taunting would lead to this, and yet I allowed myself to be played -- provoked -- into finally demanding what passes as compensation between us by using the only means permitted to me.

It is too much. I feel another piece of my heart wither and die and at last I turn away, determined not to allow my memories of better days to cloud the path I have chosen as I make my way from the room.

It is no use. Even the short journey to my room prompts the ghosts of our past to reappear and to remind me that I had once loved him, still love him. It is the truth of course, no idle fantasy of a lonely man.

There had been a time when I would have gladly gifted the world's only consulting detective with my heart and soul if he had only been willing to accept them; a time, long ago now, when I had been certain I could convince him that we had more in common than a suite of rooms. But Holmes, using his own unique methods had made it very clear that he was not interested in sentiment of any kind. Love, he seemed to relish telling me, was a fool's folly; it addled the brain and dulled the senses.

The need for regular mental and physical stimulation he understood. Although it had initially taken me months of torment to work through his cryptic challenges and to see them as the invitations they were -- to finally understand what was being offered as restitution for both our failings.

My room is cold and empty when I reach it. I listen intently for sounds from below, only breathing a sigh of relief and closing my door when I hear the first sorrowful scrapings of Holmes once again attempting to play de Sarasate on his violin.

The End


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