skellywag: (Default)
[personal profile] skellywag
Title: "A Bitter Meal"
Author: [livejournal.com profile] skellywag
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Rating NC-17
Warnings: Mild violence, angst
A/N: Written as a much-belated gift to [livejournal.com profile] tailoredshirt for doing such an excellent job modding [livejournal.com profile] hw09_exchange. Dreadfully sorry for the wait; I work so much better with a real deadline. -.-;;; Anyway, I hope you enjoy this combination of your prompts~ P.S. I apologize for the lame title.



Boredom was a perennial complaint for Sherlock Holmes; it was rarer that Watson actually shared it. Two very long weeks had passed since Holmes' last case, but the detective had fallen into a strange, calm lassitude instead of distracting himself with experimentation—not with chemistry, physics, or drugs. Playing violin for hours on end, when he wasn't sleeping. It was peaceful (as in, most of what Holmes played could actually be considered music) but Watson had taken to wondering why the other man's hands weren't cramped and sore, resenting the fact that they weren't. It was a surprise how much Watson had come to depend upon Holmes for entertainment; there was only so much doctoring that could be done in a day. He couldn't help but think the detective might find some other, more engaging way to spend his time if he couldn't play. And then there was the fact that investigation was not their only shared pastime that had been neglected, which only served to further fuel the doctor's resentment.

Watson found himself glaring at Holmes across their supper. However, from what he could tell, he was being ignored. Holmes tucked in with voracious focus and Watson tried unsuccessfully to remember if the man had eaten breakfast that day. There had been early patients, he remembered, so they hadn't eaten together. Watson found himself unsurprised that apparently Holmes could not be bothered to eat on his own even when he had nothing better to do. He wasn't sure how long he stared at his friend, eating with a mechanical distraction, before Holmes finally raised his eyes, lifting a brow with a negligent smile.

"We are going out tonight," Watson told him, with a low ferocity he couldn't entirely justify. He wasn't angry with Holmes, not exactly. Just the same, his voice brooked no argument—Holmes didn't get a choice.

Holmes didn't offer any objection; indeed his smile seemed to widen. "Are we going anywhere special, old boy? How shall I dress?" Conversational, but in the infuriating voice he only used to ask the question whose answers he already knew.

"You know it makes no difference," Watson sniped uncharitably. "You've been cooped up inside for almost two weeks. It's been too long." Holmes chuckled, a low, throaty sound, and Watson's frown intensified. Oh yes, the detective knew too much, and took far too much pleasure in that knowledge. Watson shoved away the rest of his meal and stood. He hadn't much appetite to begin with. "Twenty minutes," he muttered, and then retreated to his bedroom. Not soon enough to block out the sound of Holmes' laughter chasing after him.

Watson didn't actually need twenty minutes to get ready to go, and he knew Holmes didn't either, though the detective had been wearing his dressing gown at supper. Watson, on the other hand, had been fully dressed from his earlier appointments. He paced his bedroom, debating his decision. He could have found Holmes a new case; it would certainly have served to occupy them both. Maybe it was his military background, but when Watson got truly bored, he needed an active pursuit rather than an intellectual one in which to be engaged.

After a few moments, he resigned himself and picked through his wardrobe, searching for trousers and a shirt he was less fond of. It wasn't difficult; anything that Holmes touched seemed spontaneously to grow stains or scorch marks. He chose a shirt flecked with ink stains and a pair of trousers whose only defect was a series of tiny, perfectly round holes through the fabric at the left knee. They'd been burned by acid, and Holmes' leg still sported matching scars in the same places. At the time, Watson had thought the accident might serve to make his friend more wary, but Holmes had been as unrepentant as ever and, in all honesty, Watson wasn't sure he would have known what to do with a Sherlock Holmes who took fewer risks.

Holmes was waiting for him, similarly dressed in older clothing, when Watson emerged into their sitting room after lonely fifteen minutes. The detective looked him up and down slowly, his smile enigmatic though Watson could guess at its cause. "I daresay I liked those trousers," he remarked ruefully.

Watson snorted as he shoved his arms into an overcoat with perhaps a bit more violence than was absolutely necessary. Any faint nostalgia he might have been feeling had promptly dried up upon laying eyes on Holmes again, leaving behind a stiffness, like the unpleasant sensation of an itch he couldn't scratch. "So did I."

~~~~~~~~~~


Holmes' first opponent was familiar, a regular in both betting and boxing. He worked in either a factory or a mill (doubtless Holmes knew which) and liked to curse about his half dozen children eating him out of house and home. The second was a newcomer, a tall, able-bodied Swede. He puffed out his chest and called out insults in his native tongue, but for all his bluster, the mil-or-factory worker put up a better fight. The third was small, shifty, and nearly as talented at evading blows as was Holmes. Watson was almost certain the man was a criminal, a thief of some stripe. Holmes' fourth opponent was Watson.

That was their agreed-upon handicap, though Holmes was never as ruthless with Watson anyway, and furthermore three opponents weren't really enough to wear down the detective much. Watson didn't pull any of his punches. He did not have Holmes' strange martial training or finesse, but what he lacked in those areas he made up for in intensity, ferocity. Watson fought with the power of righteous frustration, raining down heavy blows that rarely landed. Which only served to be more frustrating, honestly.

Boxing against one another wasn't something they did with any frequency. Partly because Holmes found it difficult to box against someone he liked, and partly because, most days, Watson still gave him trouble. Watson always had to demand the matches, and he always bet on them, too. He had yet to knock Holmes out, despite their mandated handicap, but he always put down money on himself.

It would have been traitorous to bet against himself, of course, but that was not his reason. It was definitely nice to gamble and win, but financial gain was not his goal. With a successful practice and minimal expenses, Watson didn't want for money. He enjoyed the thrill of uncertainty, of not knowing whether he would win or lose. It made the boxing more exciting, too—a rush of adrenaline to course through him and numb even the most deep-seated of his aches.

Holmes didn't seem to need adrenaline to fight, and fight well. He never showed any enthusiasm in the ring when he fought Watson—Watson forced himself to make up the difference—though he also never refused the doctor's demand for a match. The detective fought with a detached, mechanical quality, as if he hadn't enjoyed the previous three fights, hadn't just been smiling and taunting his other opponents. It only ever served to further enflame Watson. Somehow, it bothered him to be reminded that Holmes didn't like hitting him, when there was a small part of Watson that thoroughly enjoyed even the chance of hitting the detective. It was a small piece, angry and surprisingly bitter, and difficult to ignore with his blood rushing in his ears.

This fight ended much the same as they always did. Holmes would only ever deal one blow to the face, so that Watson invariably had to spit blood (but never teeth) onto the dirt floor. The rest were body shots, individually rather harmless, but in rapid succession were enough to drop Watson to his knees and render him incapable of rising. Holmes never defeated Watson by knockout, if only so that he wouldn't have to carry the doctor home. His finishing moves were planned to render Watson winded and gasping, prostrate on the floor, but could also be recovered from in the span of an hour. Watson secretly resented Holmes' grasp of human anatomy, so extensive it rivaled his own, and the fact that the detective was far more adept at manipulating his knowledge to an advantage.

They sat together on the floor in a corner of the crowded room, largely forgotten as the next match started. Watson was nothing short of churlish as he allowed Holmes to fuss about his new bruises and dab at his split lip with a clean handkerchief. He wasn't satisfied with their match. He never was, and he suspected even were he to win, it wouldn't be enough. His eyes followed every nervous, frenetic movement of Holmes' fingers as they poked and prodded along his arms, torso, and abdomen for unexpected tenderness; the detective was excellent at keeping a tally of the damage he'd inflicted.

"I'm fine, Holmes!" Watson finally snapped, brushing away those light touches as well as his friend's concern. He rose to his feet without aid—albeit stiffly and unsteadily—leaning heavily upon his cane as he waited for the other man to stand. He told himself Holmes was only worried about him, that the man had been agreeable this whole evening, and it didn't help. It didn't help because Holmes was never agreeable without a reason, and in this case Watson even knew what it was. He frowned at the thought, grasping at self-control that seemed to be fraying at the end of an unusually short tether. "Just let's go," he muttered, resenting his treatment of Holmes as much as he resented the rest of the evening.

The fact that it was raining as they stepped out into the dark street only seemed to top off the night. Watson didn't hesitate to step out into the shower, but he turned when Holmes wasn't right there beside him. He wasn't wearing any hat, and water dripped down his face, clinging to his eyelashes and in his moustache. The annoyance of the water went unnoticed in the expression on Holmes' face, the man looking reluctant, as if he wasn't sure he wouldn't rather find a ride home. But they always walked, and Watson turned and continued down the street, and eventually Holmes found the way to his side.

The rain was just heavy enough to soak his hair and make everything uncomfortably damp. It felt refreshing after the heat and smoky atmosphere of the Punch Bowl, of the heat and frustration of their useless boxing. The boxing never helped anyway. In the soothing cool of the evening, Watson wondered why he prolonged the pretense. He glanced over at Holmes, already beginning to imperceptibly relax, and caught the other man watching him. The detective wore a calculating look, but Watson was almost completely at ease despite his protesting muscles—he knew exactly where they were going, now.

They turned into the alley as if they'd agreed upon it instead of simply acting out of routine. And then Watson was slammed against the side of a building, bricks digging into his back as Holmes pinned him there with his mouth and the pressure of his body. "Why do you always make me hurt you first?" Holmes snarled as he kissed and sucked at Watson's lips and tongue in a manner that was not nearly as bruising and punitive as the man probably intended. Though, because of Watson's cut lip, it still hurt a bit.

Watson didn't answer, his hands already seeking Holmes' trousers, unfastening them so that he could free the man's half-hard length and stroke it. His movements were just this side of urgent—this as no time for talking, even if his every instinct had been trying to tell him Holmes had been behaving strangely. Watson's wet fingers slipped along Holmes' cock with as much intent to distract as arouse.

Probably it hadn't actually worked as a distraction, but Watson felt Holmes' forehead on his shoulder, hot panting breaths against his throat where lips moved in kisses or phantom words. It was enough that Holmes was quiet now, that all Watson could hear was the rain and Holmes' husky breathing. If Holmes didn't ask his question again, Watson could almost pretend the answer didn't matter.

Holmes bucked against Watson, one arm wrapped tight around his shoulders, the other at his hip, scrabbling through wet layers of clothing for something more substantial to hold on to. Watson hissed as nails bit into his hipbone, arching as he stroked a little faster, somehow managing to completely ignore that there was barely any space between them for his hand to move.

When Holmes finished, he muffled his low groan in Watson's wet shoulder, nose scraping the coarse fabric of his overcoat. Now Holmes didn't have Watson pinned so much as he was leaning against the doctor for support. When the man sank bonelessly to the ground on his knees, Watson assumed it was a result of the orgasm, even though he should have known better. Mere pleasure was not enough to cause Holmes' body to give out on him.

Watson held out a hand to help Holmes to his feet, but the detective's hands were occupied with Watson's trousers and the unfastening of the same. He startled when his overly heated flesh was bared to cool air and light rain, but it was not enough to dampen his arousal. Nor was his ignorance of Holmes' plan, though he could admit the man's position, strange as it seemed, was extremely erotic. "What are you doing, Holmes?" he muttered hoarsely, breaking his own no-talking rule.

He didn't get an answer, at least not a verbal one. Holmes shoved his trousers down further, until they were tight about his knees and Watson was leaning back against the wall, fingers at Holmes' shoulder for balance. He spread his legs a little to center his weight, and Holmes made a sound in his throat that seemed approving, so he spread them a little more.

Holmes gave him a long, firm stroke from tip to root and back, and Watson stared down at him, aroused though he couldn't fully understand why, but also alarmed. If Holmes stayed in that position while he stroked Watson, he was going to get a face full of—

Abruptly Watson felt as if the earth had shifted beneath him, his entire world narrowing until there was only his cock and the perfect, exquisite heat of Holmes' mouth surrounding it. This sort of thing was simply not done—Most of what you do with Holmes falls under that description, whispered a traitorous voice that was probably his conscience—and it had not even occurred to him that the other man might have such a thing in mind. And then Holmes was sucking, his tongue a flat warm pressure fitting itself to the veins of his cock, head moving back and forward in an easy rhythm. Watson wondered where the man had learned it, but after only a brief and uneasy consideration of the possibilities, decided he didn't really want to know.

Quickly enough, he was overcome by the sensations anyway, and could scarcely think of anything else. His hips bucked, instinctively seeking the pace of Holmes' head, but abruptly the man coughed and yanked his mouth away. Watson nearly choked, too, a low groan of need torn from his throat as he stared down into Holmes' eyes. Lips quirked faintly, and the detective planted a firm hand on Watson's hip before he picked up where he left off.

Holmes was moving faster now, and Holmes lifted a trembling hand to bury his fingers in the man's sopping hair. It was difficult to concentrate enough to not clench his fingers and yank. He was getting close, the muscles in his legs and abdomen tensing, toes curling even inside his shoes. It was hard to remain upright, and he leaned against the building for all he was worth, legs spread wantonly.

And then, the moment of his release was also a moment of clarity, because Watson realized what he was about to do and where it was going to go, and he tried (albeit with little enthusiasm) to push Holmes' head away. His seed filled the other man's mouth, despite the effort. To his combined horror and fascination, Watson watched Holmes swallow it down and actually lick his lips, all without batting an eyelash.

"You shouldn't have done that," Watson murmured, licking his own lips. He let go of Holmes' head to grip the brick of the building behind him like a drunkard. He swore he didn't usually feel this drained after being with Holmes, and some of their prior encounters had been quite vigorous.

"It isn't toxic or even dangerous," Holmes replied, "and I am certainly not the first person to ever ingest it." He raised his eyebrows mildly in response to Watson's frown. "And stop looking at me that way. I know you enjoyed yourself."

Watson stood pliant while Holmes tucked him away, pulled his trousers back up and fasten them. Holmes' own clothes bore the evidence of his climax, but the detective set himself to right as much as he could. When he rose to his feet a moment later—Watson noted with some annoyance that the man's stance did not so much as waver—he made no move to step away, and his eyes held Watson's with a raptor gaze. "Will you answer my question now?"

It was pointless to pretend he didn't know what question Holmes meant; the detective knew better, and would only have repeated it when Watson didn't want to hear it again. "Must you question everything, Holmes?" he asked instead. "Can you not simply leave it?"

"I understand the need for secrecy," it seemed Holmes would pretend he hadn't spoken, "the need to come out here, to hide ourselves in shadows, but I mislike boxing with you. It is hardly necessary when I can always tell when you are becoming tense and wanting."

Watson could have side-stepped, put more space between them. He was tired, but he wasn't leaning against the wall so heavily, brain no longer so numbed with lust. However, he found it difficult to look away from Holmes at the best of times, and this was not a good time.

"What do you want to hear?" he snapped. "Do you really mean for me to believe you haven't already worked it out for yourself?" Watson straightened, though half a hundred bruises pained him to do it, so that he wouldn't have to look up at Holmes. "I make you box with me because that much physical contact should be enough for me. What we do after that is immoral and illegal, and I shouldn't want it." But I do. Watson bit back that much of his thoughts, but wasn't glad for it; those words could have at least softened this, though of course Holmes must have at least suspected all of what the doctor was telling him. "You hurt me as penance for my depraved desires."

Holmes nodded slowly, and though Watson knew the man was adept at schooling his expression, there was no attempt to disguise the hurt in his eyes. "I already knew that," he admitted, "but I wanted to hear you say it. Wanted to make sure you knew it too." Half a lie, but Watson didn't call him on it. He didn't speak at all; this wound he'd caused was far more grievous than any Holmes had dealt with his fists. Watson gestured to the empty street, quiet save for the drumming of the rain, and Holmes nodded and silently led their way home.

on 2010-08-11 02:53 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tailoredshirt.livejournal.com
UM. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. ♥

It was a surprise how much Watson had come to depend upon Holmes for entertainment; there was only so much doctoring that could be done in a day. Oh, Watson. ♥

Maybe it was his military background, but when Watson got truly bored, he needed an active pursuit rather than an intellectual one in which to be engaged. "Active pursuit," LOL. I WONDER WHAT THAT COULD BE. :D

I LOVE that they fight each other. The idea of them in the ring together is really hot, and I love the reasoning behind it: He enjoyed the thrill of uncertainty, of not knowing whether he would win or lose. That seems so in character. Also, I love that Holmes is never enthusiastic about it, but Watson makes up for it, and Holmes never turns him down.

Watson secretly resented Holmes' grasp of human anatomy, so extensive it rivaled his own, and the fact that the detective was far more adept at manipulating his knowledge to an advantage. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Also, Holmes tending to Watson's wounds = ♥

I love Watson's irrational frustration that cannot be relieved by anything either of them do.

"Why do you always make me hurt you first?" Holmes snarled as he kissed and sucked at Watson's lips and tongue unnnnnnnnggggggh :(

OMG the blowjob was totally hot, and I love love love that Watson was so shocked by it! Also: "It isn't toxic or even dangerous," Holmes replied, "and I am certainly not the first person to ever ingest it." *dies*

Holmes tucking Watson back into his trousers is a secret kink of mine, and I love you for being psychic and including it.

"I make you box with me because that much physical contact should be enough for me. What we do after that is immoral and illegal, and I shouldn't want it." But I do. WATSON :((( ♥ Ugh, the ending kills me in the best way. I love that it's so unresolved.

This was such a fantastic story. Thank you so much for writing it for me! ♥♥♥

on 2010-08-12 11:54 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
Omg. My heart can start beating again. I was so worried, but am now UTTERLY RELIEVED THAT YOU LIKED IT.

"Active pursuit," LOL. I WONDER WHAT THAT COULD BE. SHUSH. WATSON WAS TRYING TO BE SUBTLE. CLEARLY IT REFERS TO THE BOXING.

*massive hugs* I'm so glad you're happy with it. AND AGAIN, I AM SORRY FOR THE WAIT.
Edited on 2010-08-12 11:54 am (UTC)

on 2010-08-12 01:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tailoredshirt.livejournal.com
Are you kidding? It was a gift! No need to apologize for the wait! XD And it was so worth waiting for. I love your writing.

on 2010-08-12 01:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] crocodile-eat-u.livejournal.com
WOWWWWW! This was amazingly amazing! You have such a lovely writing style and this fic was so hot! It was all nitty gritty and dirty and wet and wow! I could just imagine it!

And both holmes and watson need a hug!

^^

on 2010-08-12 08:25 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
Nitty gritty, wet, and dirty was totally what I was going for, and I'm so glad that it came across so well. Thank you for the lovely comment.

on 2010-08-12 02:57 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] inesdelsol.livejournal.com
Dunno what to say...

Really hot and profound at the same time; sex and violence, guilty pleasure and unspeakable lust. I love it. I can understand their feelings. Especially Watson's. Thank you for this masterpiece <3

on 2010-08-12 08:27 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
♥ So glad you enjoyed it. Totally blushing over here.

on 2010-08-12 08:32 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] inesdelsol.livejournal.com
*hugs* no need to blush <3 you're awesome :)

on 2010-08-12 09:48 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tiwtin.livejournal.com
I loved this. Fantastic angst and bittersweet. Marvelous.

on 2010-08-12 10:01 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
Awww, thank you so much. I'm glad you liked it~

on 2010-08-12 11:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] xthursdaynextx.livejournal.com
Fighting and alley sex, I have no words. *___*

So very well written, and the end quite heartbreaking

on 2010-08-13 11:10 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
Hee! They are two of my favourite things~ I'm so glad you liked it.

on 2010-08-12 11:37 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] koriathain.livejournal.com
I loved this!

on 2010-08-13 11:10 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
:3 Thank you for reading!

on 2010-08-13 12:35 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] esteefee.livejournal.com
Oh. You wounded me so nicely with this. Nicely hot as well, and I just loved the vision of them both fighting in the ring with their differing styles, Watson with his desperation and Holmes with his mind.

on 2010-08-13 11:11 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
*grin* Thank you for the kind words; I'm glad the imagery worked for you.

on 2010-08-13 03:00 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jenlee1.livejournal.com
Whew! *fans self* Lovely work.

What a dark, strangely fascinating dynamic you've drawn between them - Holmes' question ("Why do you always make me hurt you first?") is a very interesting one indeed.

*mems*

on 2010-08-13 11:19 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
Thank you for the lovely comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed the fic.

on 2010-08-13 03:25 am (UTC)
ext_24392: (Dark Fae Girl)
Posted by [identity profile] random-nexus.livejournal.com
Woah. Ouch and wow and... good! So painful and rather gritty, but so damned good. Yikes. I'm all wanting to comfort the poor barstards, but appreciating the whole thing for the fine storytelling that makes me WANT that. Very, very well done.

Excellent.

on 2010-08-13 11:20 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] skellywag.livejournal.com
Hahahaha I myself had a hard time just leaving it there, because I wanted to comfort them too lmao! But the fic really deserved the painful ending, I thought.

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