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Title: "Breathe In; Breathe Out"
Author: [ profile] skellywag
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Cross-dressing, reference to gore
A/N: Written for [ profile] hw09_exchange. Originally intended for a specific person, but since my giftee had to drop from the exchange, it was posted as a gift for the community. But, since it was written with a specific request in mind, it lacks a lot of the kink I might have otherwise incorporated.

Um. Oh yeah...

Inspired at least in part by Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell. All of the Ripper-centric facts come from that text. Couldn't resist writing something like this when I realized ACD was writing during the same period that the killer was doing his "work." Also, thanks to [ profile] ladylovelace for the beta.

"Stop fidgeting and hold still, won't you?" Irene Adler growled in slightly breathless and amused annoyance. She gave the laces in her left hand a sharp tug that was punctuated by a gasp, and then with her right reached over Sherlock Holmes' shoulder to deftly seize the neck of his violin. She set it out of his reach with—she felt—greater delicacy than the instrument deserved, given Holmes had been plucking discordant notes upon it for the better part of an hour. Well, the longer part, at any rate; certainly not the better. With gritted teeth, she started the process again.

Still holding the ends of string in her left hand, Irene began at the bottom of the corset, her right hand walking up the crisscrossed lacing with violent, business-like little yanks. Each one elicited a gasp. Irene rolled her eyes. "Stop breathing," she admonished, wielding the corset strings with white knuckles and a certain barely restrained glee. "I already told you: Take in a breath and hold it."

Holmes, for his part, had a few choice responses in mind, none of them very polite, but had better sense than to make them while the woman had him in such a compromising and vulnerable position. He stood with his back to Irene wearing nothing but his knickers. And the corset, of course. So instead of arguing, objecting, or whining—the last being what he most wanted to do—Holmes held still and sucked in a breath, gesturing with an imperious hand for Irene to get on with it. And she did, yanking the laces tighter than he could ever have imagined possible and rendering his diaphragm and lungs all but useless. He was certain he'd heard at least one of his ribs groan in protest. Irene gave the laces a few more quick jerks before knotting them, and as her hands fell away, Holmes exhaled in relief.

Or, he tried to. Breathing while wearing a corset didn't actually have all that much in common with breathing. He could take in little puffs of air and sigh them back out, but his torso barely moved as he did it. Yet, as he gave himself a once-over, hands drifting experimentally to his waist, Holmes realized that Irene had managed to give him a feminine figure. A fairly admirable one, in spite of his lack of breasts.

"Let's have a look, shall we?" Irene's hands on his shoulders turned him to face her, and Holmes promptly felt lightheaded, the room continuing its spin even after the man had gone still. It was probably only by virtue of Irene's grip on him that he managed to keep his feet at all—that woman was stronger than she looked. "Hmmm…yes, that is a side effect. Try to move slowly; sometimes that helps." And if Irene's eyes danced merrily at the sight of a man suffering what a woman normally did, well, at least she wasn't laughing at Holmes out loud. The woman traced a nail along the curved whalebone of his corset and smiled. "For all your confidence, I must confess I didn't think your idea had the remotest chance of success, but have a look at that figure," she chortled. "Why, Sherlock, you very nearly have child-bearing hips!"

The man rolled his eyes and snorted, though the sound was more akin to a wheeze. "Remind me why I am not simply using you as bait for this case?" Holmes remarked dryly, tone lacking any real venom—it never really had any, for her.

"It wasn't my objection," Irene shot back, though she was secretly glad there had been one. "Your gallant Doctor didn't like the idea of putting a delicate and vulnerable female in such a potentially dangerous situation. Offended his sensibilities, I think. Too bad, because now you have to sit down so you can be shaved, and sitting down in a corset is even less enjoyable than standing in one."

Later on, Holmes could not be certain how he'd managed to lever himself down into the chair, nor how he'd been able to do it without aid. All he could recall was the pain of organs and muscles already compressed laterally also being cramped down vertically. Sitting was supposed to be more comfortable, but Holmes only found it more difficult to breathe, his spine held erect in unnaturally perfect posture that somehow did him no favours. Additionally, being shaved by someone else should have been relaxing, and yet Holmes sat stiffly and lamented the loss of his scruffy charm. Irene was meticulous, removing even the smallest patches of stubble that he himself usually missed. Though Holmes had little intent of allowing anyone to touch his face, he also knew that occasionally it was impossible to prevent such things while remaining polite.

"It seems to me," Holmes murmured rubbing his jaw—smooth for the first time in…well, longer than his rather prodigious memory stretched—once Irene had finished. "It seems to me that we could have done this before you put me in the corset."

Irene looked up from where she'd crouched, digging through the valise she'd filled with articles that might aid Holmes' transformation. She came up with a smaller bag that she opened to reveal a myriad of cosmetics, most of which he understood on a chemical level, how the residues might result in evidence, even differences in quality, but not the reason why women needed such a multitude of different kinds. In his own disguises, he could use two or three pigments to mix almost any shade. Perhaps women simply enjoyed making these things more complex than they needed to be.

"There is much that could have been done before putting you in the corset," Irene admitted with no trace of guilt. "However, you needed to get accustomed to it, and I wanted to watch you get accustomed to it." She leaned in and began applying makeup with an artist's hand, using her fingers at least as often as she did the brushes she was supposed to use.

Surely this was not how elegant ladies of fashion obtained their results, smudging with fingertips and thumbs, using the edge of a handkerchief to correct a mistake or straighten a line. This was how Holmes applied his own makeup, though the man's technique was perhaps a bit more slapdash than was Irene's.

Holmes used makeup generally to make himself appear older or younger, to create imperfections or scars; he'd never before attempted anything on this scale. Taking the appearance of an old woman was easy. If she was dressed in an unflattering manner—and if she was Holmes, she always was—then it was unlikely that anyone at all would take notice of her. In this, however, they were courting disaster. Not only was Holmes to masquerade as a young woman, but his goal ultimately was to attract attention. And not, sadly, for being a man in an expensive corset, struggling to breathe—though he'd mastered that role and was very convincing.

From all appearances, the infamous Whitechapel murders had geographically spread. Three women, young, upper class, had been killed inside the Square Mile, among the wealthy in the City of London and outside the jurisdiction of Scotland Yard. These women had had their throats slashed, their bodies viciously mutilated in the same manner the prostitutes of Whitechapel had been. Because of the similarities in modus operandi to those previous killings, the City's private police force had invited the Metropolitan Police to investigate the City murders. If Jack the Ripper had expanded his repertoire to include the daughters of the wealthy, then the City would cooperate with the Yard.

An Inspector Abberline led the Whitechapel investigation. He was a man with whom Holmes had been familiar with by reputation only. From what he'd read in the papers, Abberline seemed competent, inasmuch as any policeman could be—far more talented than Lestrade or Gregson at any rate. When he considered Abberline's rather successful career previous to the Whitechapel murders, Holmes wondered how much of the mystery of the cases could be attributed to the intelligence of the killer, and how much was general police incompetence. Oh, there might be fewer mistakes as it concerned Abberline himself, but there would always be people about to muck things up. Abberline, it appeared, was determined that the investigation of the City murders, in particular, should not be mucked up. Probably in a large part due to the fact that now he was involved with the City police. He had approached Holmes for a consult without any of Lestrade's wary resentment, or Gregson's cheerful condescension.

Holmes had only been able to personally investigate the last of these three murders, and after spending nearly half the day at the crime scene had been able to definitively state that she—and probably the other two high society victims—had not been murdered by the Whitechapel killer. (Of course, the police had received numerous communications from the self-named Ripper denying all responsibility for the City murders, but they had received so many letters and in varied medium and handwriting, that the vast majority—if not all—of these were considered something of a hoax.)

From what Holmes had personally observed of the third case, and from reading the transcripts from the inquests of the previous two, all three of the City murders had involved rape, whereas none of the Whitechapel killings had. However, even presuming that it might be more difficult to tell whether the Whitechapel prostitutes had been raped, there were other differences between the cases. In the case of the woman Holmes had examined personally, the killer had strangled her (deduced from the finger-shaped bruising on her neck) and then slashed her throat and eviscerated her after she was already dead (this from the way the blood had oozed from the wounds, rather than gushed, as well as the lack of it present at the scene of the crime—a contribution from Watson, whom Holmes also had insisted perform the post-mortem).

No, the Doctor might have been soft-hearted, perhaps invested too emotionally in this inquest, but his intentions were good, and Holmes supposed he wouldn't have wanted to see Irene mutilated after the fashion of either the Ripper or his copycat. However, given the woman's tendency towards sadism and the fact that she was holding up something white with frills and lace with far too eager an expression, Holmes was fairly certain he could amend his decision.

Twenty pounds of dress and petticoats and an ample bosom later, Holmes was ready to throw Irene to the Ripper himself. Well, maybe not that, but it certainly did make him curious how women of even the most petite frame could carry around so much weight when they could barely breathe. He was supposed to dance in this? Holmes was quite sure he would find it difficult to walk, and he wasn't even wearing the shoes yet. How was he supposed to spend a whole evening like this, and act naturally besides?

He was attempting to bait his own trap. With so little digging that, honestly, the police should have managed it themselves, Holmes had discovered another similarity between the City girls—probably the police had discovered this similarity and attached no significance to it. Evidently, each of the girls had attended a party the night of her murder. The parties had been hosted by different people, but had been attended by many of the same sort—the three parties had had at least forty-five guests in common. Holmes had had tea six different times in one day to glean that information. There was a particular sort of woman who could be expected to have memorized the guest list at someone else's party. He had visited six of these and had been rather impressed with how well their accounts correlated—right down to details of who was wearing what.

Holmes would theoretically be attending the next party, in just a few days. Theoretically, because this practice run was not going so well, and Holmes was beginning to think it might be more feasible to send Irene as bait and pack an arsenal beneath her voluminous petticoats. He was standing up again, impossible as that had seemed after he'd levered himself down into the chair in the first place. But then, standing wasn't the only impossible thing that had happened. Irene had turned Holmes into a passable woman.

He was a tall woman, though not freakishly so. Unfortunately, Holmes would not have passed for a woman in her early twenties, the age of all the City victims, so Irene had given him late twenties/early thirties. The result was that Holmes as a woman was more statuesque than pretty. Still attractive, if he said so himself—and he would, later, when he had more air—but definitely not pretty.

Irene could, simply put, work miracles with makeup. She had given his eyes a slight cant to make them look more exotic, but also made them seem wider and larger to draw attention to their depth of colour. She had made his nose appear slimmer, and drawn attention away from the slight bump where a break had mended. She had done something to draw the eye to Holmes' mouth, but had done nothing to amplify the feature except for adding colour. His lips were full and sensual, slightly bow-shaped. They were the sort that thin-lipped women envied, especially that a man should have them. No, Holmes supposed if he could learn to dance without breathing he might stand a very good chance for attracting a murderer.

"Now, I don't care what happens to any of the rest of this," Irene was saying as she bent to dig through her valise to come up with a wig, "but mind you be careful with this wig. It was made of real human hair in order to be completely convincing, and cost a king's ransom." As she plopped it onto his head and began adjusting it, Holmes reflected upon the fact that Irene could have been speaking literally, and tried to remember whether he'd read about any ransomed kings.

"There!" Irene adjusted the fall of a lock of hair and stepped back so that she could take a better look. But her eyes shifted to the right, focusing on a point over Holmes' shoulder. "Oh! Doctor, I didn't see you come in." Holmes didn't succumb to his impulse to turn and look, but he did give a decided twitch. "I'd like to introduce you to my dear friend, Charlotte."

Charlotte? he mouthed to Irene, raising an eyebrow. She shrugged, smirking, and with her finger pointing down, drew it in a circle in the universal sign language for "turn around." That didn't actually sound like a very good idea to Holmes, but he turned, slowly, and somehow didn't experience any disorientation, nausea, or dizziness. At that assessment, he decided if he ended up needing to run from the murderer, he'd just give up then and there.

Watson was smirking at him, a wry little twist of lips beneath his moustache. The doctor dipped his head, gazing down at his cane as he twirled it between his fingers, and then raised his eyes to look at "Charlotte" through his eyebrows. "Holmes, are those breasts?"

Holmes folded his arms over his "breasts" defensively. They had rather more give than breasts were meant to have. "They are half a dozen handkerchiefs each," he sniffed. "And I'll thank you to stop staring at them."

"I think it's time you practiced dancing," Irene announced, restraining a sound that was so close to a cackle that it was a wonder she wasn't standing behind a cauldron, rather than a valise.

"What's that, Irene? You have to leave already?" Holmes cocked his head, listening to a voice only he could hear. "You've got another engagement to be getting to? Kings to ransom and vicars to seduce? Or was that the other way round?"

"Still upset about being outsmarted by a woman, I see," Irene sighed long-sufferingly. "See that my valise makes it back to my rooms when you no longer have need of it. And perhaps, if you ask nicely, I will come by before the party to help you prepare. I daresay you'd be lost without a woman's touch."

"I'm just as certain I wouldn't be." Holmes waved a hand dismissively. "But you seem to be a fair hand at makeup, so it would be entirely foolish not to take advantage of your generous offer."

Irene rolled her eyes and snorted, and it was the sound women everywhere make when they are forced to deal with a man in possession of a particularly thick skull. "Very well, I'll be going." She turned her focus upon Watson. "Be sure that he practices wearing the corset and petticoats. He won't convince anyone, moving so stiffly."

Moving? Holmes was doing his level best not to move. And the corset was actually very good for that, because he was certain if he moved too much, he might break or sprain something. Impale a lung on a shard of broken rib, perhaps. He had no idea what might happen, and he was not about to ask Watson his medical opinion on the subject. Mostly because he wasn't sure he wanted to know the extent of Watson's knowledge of corsets and petticoats. But at least Irene had left, and that was an improvement.

Holmes reached up and buried a hand in his wig and then snatched the same hand away an instant later when it and the attached wrist exploded with pain. Watson twirled his cane innocently, wearing a serene little smile. "You could have cracked my skull!" Holmes—for lack of a more generous word—whined.

"Fortuitous, then, that your hand was in the way," Watson replied. "You heard the lady. If your ruse is to be successful, you need to practice. I think my leg could handle a dance or two." With a flick of his wrist, he brought the cane up and brandished it like a saber in Holmes' direction. "After everything you've done, clothing that has been stolen, furniture scorched, my dog—"

"Our dog," Holmes was quick to interject.

"The dog," Watson gritted, "victimized and experimented upon…" His expression slowly shifted to something downright fiendish. "Well, you don't really believe, after all that, I'd allow you to deprive me of this, do you?"

"Now, Watson," Holmes attempted a placating tone, "be reasonable." He took a few unconscious steps backwards, uneasily toying with one of the ruffles of his dress. "I think I've been wearing this quite long enough today. I have a week to practice, and isn't your leg bothering you? You've been out all day."

Watson's lips thinned out. He set aside his cane and held out his hand. The invitation seemed like a question, but the man's expression made it a demand.

Holmes wasn't quite sure what to do. He was accustomed to having his way. Watson might rant, rave, or complain, but ultimately he acquiesced to Holmes' whimsy, or at the very least seemed to realize that the ranting and complaints had very little effect. But today it was Holmes' wheedling that had no effect, Watson who was being stubborn—though not also childish about it as Holmes on occasion could be. So he took what was offered and tried not to breathe too deeply (not difficult) when he sighed in resignation.

And then they were dancing, in the narrow clean space amid Holmes' clutter. Watson was really a very good dancer, too, his limp hardly noticeable. Each step was perfect and measured, even without the aid of music to give them a beat. However, even dancing as slowly as they were, Holmes was quite certain he was dying. He wasn't getting enough air, and each time they turned his head swam a little longer. Was the room getting hot? It certainly felt stifling, and he was wearing a wig and seventy extra layers, besides. He was fairly sure he hadn't left on the Bunsen burner this time… When it came right down to it, Holmes wasn't dancing very well at all, only following Watson's lead, and limply.

But even if he hadn't been dancing so badly, it should have been more awkward for two men to dance together, however Holmes had never learned to lead. Oh, he could fake it well enough when he needed to, but he had never taken an avid interest in learning to dance and had only done so when his older brother Mycroft had. Since Mycroft had been nearly a head taller, the elder brother had led and Holmes danced the female part himself, not bothering to insist upon reversing their roles. But right now, he was barely following, just about clinging to Watson though his balance wasn't the problem.

Then, quite suddenly Holmes found himself lying on the floor with only a vague sense of how he'd got there and no recollection of it actually happening. The bodice of his dress had been loosened to bunch at his waist, and he couldn't tell from his position where his artificial bosom had gone. Watson knelt over him holding a scalpel.

"No, stop," Holmes wheezed pathetically, reaching up to seize the doctor's arm. "I'm fine now. Quite sure I'm not in need of any surgery, old boy."

"The corset," Watson answered and, rather troublingly, he did not put away the scalpel. "I want to get you out of it. Clearly you do not have the lung capacity to be wearing one."

Holmes was growing less disoriented, and his grip on Watson's arm tightened. "No one has the lung capacity to be wearing one of these primitive torture devices, as Irene will tell you after you've explained to her why you've cut me out of a bloody expensive corset rather than unlacing it, and thus need another for next week's party."

The room went silent as Watson pondered this, save for the slight wheeze of Holmes' laboured breathing and Gladstone's faint snores from the other room. Finally the doctor sighed and, giving Holmes a doubtful look, set the scalpel aside. "You're still planning to attempt this fiasco of a trap?" Before Holmes could answer, Watson unceremoniously flipped him onto his stomach to begin picking tentatively at the laces of his corset.

"Of course— Well you don't have to be so gentle with it. Irene was yanking fit to break my spine." Holmes turned his head to watch Watson over his shoulder. "Of course I am," he resumed. "I don't want to see any more bodies like the last one." Normally it was all about the puzzle, the thrill of the chase, but this last girl's head had stood apart two feet from her body, the killer wrapping coils of glistening entrails around the stump of her neck to stand it up on end. Her hands had been plunged into the cavity of her abdomen, fingers cradling her liver.

"I don't, either," Watson replied grimly. "But do you really think this stands a chance of succeeding? You might look convincing enough, until you talk, or move, or breathe. But it isn't as if you're certain this killer doesn't have other criteria for choosing his victims. What if he's picking them based upon a perceived insult at the party? You could be as convincing as you please and this still wouldn't work. There has to be a better way."

Holmes rolled onto his back so that he could look Watson full in the face. The doctor hadn't managed to completely unlace the corset, but he'd loosened it enough that Holmes could breathe more easily. "I have a few leads I'm working on, but I want to try this, too. It feels like, if I'm not doing everything I possibly can to solve this, then I'm not doing enough."

Watson stared at Holmes so long that the detective began to fidget beneath the scrutiny, wondering what the other man was looking at. It became a little clearer when Watson dipped his head and kissed Holmes, hard and eager, full on the mouth. It was unexpected but not unwelcome and Holmes chuckled around Watson's tongue, thrusting and massaging against his own. Watson was an energetic kisser and, as always, Holmes was amused by his moustache; kissing a woman hardly ever tickled, but Watson almost always did. The doctor's palms slid along the artificial curves of Holmes' waist, and when the pair finally parted, the detective was again breathless though not as much as the corset had rendered him earlier.

"What was that for?" Holmes squirmed a little as Watson's fingers traced whalebone. "Not that I'm complaining, of course. Quite the opposite, really."

"Your emotions were showing," Watson grinned. "Refreshing to be reminded it isn't all logic up there." He tapped Holmes' temple lightly.

Holmes' expression instantly soured—so instantly, in fact, that it was an obvious ruse. "You are a sod." The look blanked and became something else entirely—eyes lidded, lips parted—when Watson straddled him and ground his hips down into Holmes'.

"Let's get you out of that corset, old boy."

It had taken Irene approximately two hours to transform Holmes into a woman. Admittedly, much of this time had been devoted to either the makeup or the corset, but either way, it took Watson only two minutes to undo all of the woman's work. The wig, dress, corset, and petticoats were all carefully set aside, out of reach lest the men crush the garments into the floor beneath them. Watson was stripped out of his clothing with even greater haste; trousers, shirt, and waistcoat were all discarded with abandon. Once there was nothing left but their bodies, Watson straddled Holmes again and, using his position of greater manoeuverability, began washing the detective's face of makeup, utilizing the damp handkerchief Irene had used to help apply it.

Holmes withstood the indignity for all of ten seconds before, instead of objecting, he reached down between them, palming the other man's length in a friendly grip. It was already half full and felt warmer than the rest of Watson's body. Needless to say, the handkerchief vanished, though most of the makeup went with it at least. Holmes grinned and rather deliberately stroked Watson to impatience, the movement of his hand along the shaft just slow and arrhythmic enough to not give the doctor any satisfaction.

A sound that was somehow both a growl and a moan issued from Watson's throat, the only warning before he shifted from his perch atop Holmes' thighs to crawl between them. He dragged two fingers along his lover's lower lip, but Holmes shook his head, denying them entrance to Watson's frustration.

"This is the perfect opportunity!" Holmes' eyes lit up with a frenetic eagerness Watson knew too well. "On my desk, you'll find a phial containing a pale green liquid." He waited for the other man to reluctantly turn his gaze to the small bottle before continuing. "By extracting and refining the oils found in several native and imported plant species, I have developed a fluid that will be the perfect lubrication for this very thing."

Calling the look Watson gave him "dubious" would have been very generous. The doctor reached up to the desk for the bottle and brought it down as if it contained a deadly poison. "Are you certain that you wish to test this solution upon yourself?" For that particular area, a side effect of irritation or rash was only the most minor of the reactions Holmes might have to the wrong chemical.

"I am the test subject for the majority of my experiments," Holmes informed him blithely. "Furthermore, I have already tested this compound and was utterly satisfied with the results." The man's expression became that of the cat who ate the canary, and Watson needed no further convincing. The words opened up a myriad of possible methods Holmes might have employed for the testing of his chemical. "Put some inside me," Holmes condescended, "and use some on yourself as well." His breathing hitched, became feathery and more rapid when Watson, who needed no such instruction, did as he'd been told. "I think you'll find the sensation quite luxuriant," the detective concluded in an almost tremulous voice, his body twitching faintly in response to the drive of fingers spreading oil within him.

Normally there was some pain associated with the ultimate connection of their bodies; Watson was careful of course, but saliva was not an ideal lubricant and the alternatives—Vaseline, lard, wine on one very memorable evening—tended to be quite messy and left unfortunate stains. During Holmes' private testing of his plant extract, he had not fully grasped how successful it was. Certainly a plant-based oil contained a great deal of water and made for easier cleanup, but it also produced a lighter, slicker, more organic lubrication, as if from a natural bodily fluid. From the first smooth slide of Watson's shaft, there was no pain, only the pleasant full feeling of his muscles stretching to accommodate.

"Good God, Holmes," Watson gritted as he sheathed himself, perspiration breaking out across his forehead. He wriggled his hips back an inch and then seated himself more firmly. The muscles clung to him like a glove, but there was no resistance, only the elegant slide of two bodies that fit well together. "I rescind every harsh word I've ever said about your chemistry experiments."

The praise did not fall upon deaf ears—Holmes would bring it up every consequent time he used Gladstone as a test subject or set the draperies aflame—but it went unacknowledged just then. "Faster," Holmes demanded, draping one leg wantonly over his lover's shoulder and canting his hips to open himself to better advantage. At the very least, the position made it more difficult for Watson to ignore the order and while normally he would have, long enough to make Holmes' entreaties either more polite or more vulgar, this time he didn't bother—he wanted it too.

The slap of their flesh, the slight thump of Holmes' back against the floor, even Gladstone's uninterrupted snores seemed loud in the small room. Their activities were profoundly illegal and while there were almost certainly those who suspected, Holmes was too useful to the police to be arrested except with the most blatant of evidence, so discretion was key. Watson's moans went unvoiced—breathless, open-mouthed sighs—growls and grunts barely made it from between his teeth. Holmes muffled his every reaction with his teeth firmly clasped in his lover's bicep, hard enough to bruise but not break the skin.

As their pace approached a fever pitch, as Watson began to thrust with reckless abandon, losing himself in the hot, wet slide of his flesh into Holmes' body, it grew harder for him to remain quiet. He sucked at his lower lip to stifle the sounds and that worked, but only briefly, as his muscles tensed, clenching up with anticipation. When finally he could take no more, as pleasure crashed through his body, as he emptied himself into Holmes, the detective clapped a hand over Watson's mouth to quiet his shout and render it incomprehensible. It might have sounded as if Watson had called out Holmes' first name, but probably it wasn't—that was something he never used. Holmes didn't think on it; the hand over Watson's mouth was all he had left for logic.

His free hand was tight between them, roughly jerking his own length as the liquid heat of his lover seemed almost to sear him from within. Holmes gasped through his nose, almost choking on air, as he milked from himself his own climax. His cries of release reverberated in Watson's muscle until the doctor thought he could feel the other man's pleasure in his bones, the sensation eking from him a soft sigh of contentment.

When Holmes lay still and pliant beneath him, Watson attempted to shift so that he could collapse without crushing the other man. He extracted himself from Holmes' loosening grip with only minor effort, to flop onto his back on the floor atop what—he was chagrined to later realize—used to be his second favourite shirt, a prisoner of war in Holmes' room. For the moment, however, he let the issue slide.
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September 2010

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