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Monday, June 28th, 2010 11:59 pm
Title: Decorum
Author: [livejournal.com profile] loveslashangst
Fandoms: Sherlock Holmes
Pairings: Holmes/Watson
Kinks: Written for the kink_bingo prompt “orgasm denial/control”. Rated NC17 overall for mature content, language, sexually-suggestive behaviour, masturbation, sex, slash, and Victorian euphemisms.

Summary: A gentleman knows how to behave in public. The only thing “stiff” should be his upper lip. Fortunately, Holmes is only a gentleman when it suits him.

LSA sez: I’ve been meaning to slash these two forever and a day and haven’t done it yet. I’ve always been intrigued by Holmes. (Though honestly my fave incarnation of him has been as a teenager just coming into his abilities -- and his tragedy -- in YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES.) I’ve flirted with the fandom, but not followed closely. Then I saw Jude Law breathe life into what I’d dismissed as a boring and stodgy character, and Jane Turenne make it scorchingly hawt in her fics. I’ve been kicking around ideas. Kink_bingo just gives me an excuse.

O sez: And yet, I had to drag her into the literary canon. :D I've been reading Holmes since I was very young (I got the "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" probably around 7 or 8, and was utterly hooked.) So our discussion of the recent film consisted of LSA loving it (including the egregious Irene Adler), and me going "But but but but" a lot, till I found out she hadn't actually read canon. OHHHHHH. :D For someone who just picked up her Complete Edition (and is ripping through it like Calvin through a box of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs), she's really developed a fine ear for the language. :D

For those of you who would like to follow along from Watson's official perspective, herewith The Adventure of the Norwood Builder.

On with the show...



Emotion has never been my ally. At its best, it serves as a guidepost to the worst of man’s inhumanity to his fellow creatures, and as such -- and only as such -- is it of interest to me. I study emotion as I study any other detail; it is something to be catalogued, analyzed, and relegated to its proper place. Nothing more.

Until lately, I had assumed that you comprehended this quirk of my personality, as you comprehend so many other things about me. You know it is not in my nature to make social calls. You know I have no more dealings with the fair sex than are strictly required in the course of an investigation. You are all too aware how quickly the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of the solution can fade into the tedium of the daily routine. Only my experiments, my monographs, and the relief of the needle can sustain me through that dreary, grey march of hours until the next worthwhile case tests my powers of observation and deduction.

So how did such an antisocial curmudgeon as I come to deserve the company of such a warm and forgiving soul as you?

I haven’t the faintest. Perhaps it is a jest at my expense.

And of late, the jest has lost its humour. After my “resurrection” from the dead, I had presumed my arrangements with you would continue along their previous course. Owing to the unfortunate demise of your wife, you were a bachelor once more, thus any societal impediments to our cohabitation (and therefore our subsequent nocturnal liaisons) had been removed. Indeed, as soon as you returned to our shared lodgings at 221B Baker Street, we could scarce keep our hands from each other’s persons. That first kiss reminded me sweetly why I had fought so hard to protect you during the years of my forced absence. Happily, your passion for me had only increased with time, as mine had reawakened for you.

Over the next few months, you resumed your former standing as the most singular fixture in my life. Dependable. Steadfast. The inestimable Doctor Watson. I had done without you for enough years that it was a tremendous relief to have you again in my life, at my side, and in my bed. I was further relieved that you showed not the least inclination to any further pursuit of the fairer sex, having finally come to your senses regarding the utter idiocy that is matrimony.

Upon careful reflection, I have come to realize that it was in the midst of the affair with that damned Dutch steamship that this recent nonsense began. Though I am not in the habit of being ruled by my emotions, neither am I completely immune to their sway; and as my flashes of desire are mercurial, they require a rather singular species of lover: one who will respond with equal ardour when I am in the throes of passion, yet will not intrude with carnal demands when I am entrenched in the necessities of cogitation, research, or inquiry.

Until the Friesland, my dear Watson, you had been such a convenient lover. You seemed to peruse the contents of my very thoughts, and to anticipate my every yearning. I am seldom fortunate enough to spend a few happy hours in the company of a like-minded person. But with you, I have enjoyed years.

There were many times, Watson, that I feared what should occur upon my return. I could not presume the least confidence in the reception you might offer me. Again I return to the memory of that first kiss and the relief that so overwhelmed my senses that I cannot ever find the words to express…

No, this won’t do. Let us leave it that I counted myself thrice blessed to have profession, abode, and partner in amour restored to me, all in one night.

So after closing the casebook on the Friesland, I was still senseless of the torments my so-called friend would soon have in store for me. You and I rode home, all smiles and mutual congratulations, our blood still thrilling from the pursuit that had very nearly cost us both our lives before the case reached its successful conclusion. We mounted our seventeen stairs, you in the lead, and me following directly. Into our shared lodgings we went and…

Nothing.

Not so much as a kiss. Not even a touch. You did not draw me close as you were wont to do. Never even lifted a finger to stroke down the sleeve of my coat. So accustomed was I to you all but throwing yourself into my arms (and thus giving me leave to respond with equal fervour) that I could scarce make sense of it. For years -- yes, even after your betrothal, if you will recall it -- we celebrated the close of every case in each other’s embrace. Tradition. Custom. Habit. Reward. The joyful marking of a job well done. This was perpetually our way.

But not so on that evening. No. Far from it. You puttered about, settled into your chair, lit your pipe and sat, smoking: a portrait of my Boswell, at peace with the world and all your surroundings, utterly oblivious to my torment and confusion. You even were so bold as to note my consternation, enquire as to its cause, and to invite me to sit down in my own chair, in my own home, and to take my ease.

Take my ease? How could I take ease when the man I…

It sets my blood to boiling, even as I think of it now. For a full three weeks, you have had me baited and hooked for a purpose I cannot fathom. By day, you are my cheerful companion, ever at my side, attentive and helpful. By night, I lie alone in a cold hell of your fashioning, racking my brain for what it is I might have done to deserve such slow-burning revenge. I can fathom no possible motive, and if Sherlock Holmes is baffled, what hope could any other man have?

How can you sit there in the morning light, neatly nibbling at your toast, and not know? Surely you know. You must know. This torment is deliberate: some test or jest or quest that I must undertake or suffer or resolve before I will know again the pleasures of your bed. Our bed. MY bed, for indeed it is because of my own exertions that we share these not uncomfortable accommodations.

So I test you again, as I have done so often over the past few weeks. “Did you sleep well?”

“Well indeed,” you say, so pointedly cheerful that it must be some diabolical scheme. “Long and deeply, if I may say. And you, Holmes?”

The arch of your eyebrow, the quirk of your mouth, the way you bury what must be a smirk in your teacup: these are all my spies. They undo you, and give lie to anything you say, for each of them proclaims the deliberation of your every gesture.

“Passably well,” I lie, for it seems that lies are the order of the morning. “There appears to be something of a draft in my room. I could have done with a bit more warmth.”

And though it is admittedly a ham-handed overture, you have never been so dense as to neglect such a double entendre. You can hardly fail, my dear Watson, to note the dark circles that ring my eyes from lack of sleep. Nor can you have missed that every morning, my bedclothes are untouched, my candle unburnt. You have remarked on the sheer quantity of cigarette ends that have congregated in their bowl, and even chastised me for turning once more to my oldest allies: cocaine, to keep me from the stupor of boredom and idleness; and morphine, which has never failed to dull the edge of despair’s talons. I have taken to torturing my poor violin after you have retired for the night in the vain hope that sheer pique will roust you from your room. I would prefer a good row to this companionable abdication of my intimate company.

“Drafty, eh?” you muse. “Odd. My room is perfectly snug. Perhaps we should swap for the night?” And though you have held your side of this masquerade with more skill than ever I would have supposed lay in you, I detect the faintest twinkle in those lovely eyes of yours. You are playing the fool so you may laugh behind your moustache at my expense.

Only my pride makes me hold my tongue.

“I shouldn’t think so.” I marvel at the calm in my voice. “Perhaps if I speak to Mrs. Hudson, she could have a builder in to give it a glance.” There, the oblique suggestion of a new partner should incite you to at least a twinge of jealousy, for your blood is hotter than mine.

Nothing. You open the paper, irritatingly at ease. “Whatever you think best, old boy. Wouldn’t do to have you lacking sleep; not good for the constitution.”

The rage boils up so quickly I am helpless to stop its advance. I slam the table with one hand. “Dammit, Watson! How long do you propose to extend this ridiculous charade?”

I would not have credited you with being such a consummate actor; to anyone but me, you would appear to be the very image of incredulity. “Why, Holmes! What’s got into you?”

“Nothing,” I reply savagely. “As you bloody well know.”

You goggle like a grandmother hearing the word “fuck” for the first time. “Are you mad?”

“Furious,” I reply, “though in full possession of my faculties, no thanks to you. Now I demand to know how long you propose to pretend to dwell in ignorance, for you may rest assured that you cannot hide any trace of your deceit from one such as I. No, my friend, no. Your every look betrays you.”

You close your mouth, looking as wary as if you were confronting a mad dog. “Holmes? What are you talking about?”

“Us.” I rise from my seat, nearly barking my knees on the table in my haste. “Are you really so cruel as to demand the words from my lips?” I lean over the table, fixing you with a glare I usually reserve only for the accused. “Congress. Relations. Intercourse. In a word, my dear Watson, sex, and not of the garden variety, but shagging to make a peg-boy blush, for indeed, that is what you and I have so often shared, and willingly.”

If you were a woman, I think you might strike me across the face for my impertinence. “How dare you speak to me so?” You raise your paper like a stalwart against me. “I will choose to regard that as one of your moods and wait until you’re in a humour to for reasonable morning conversation.”

I tear the paper from your hands, crumple it viciously, and throw it to the floor. Then I resume my former position, a threat and a challenge. “How dare you, John?”

You rise very slowly, with the kind of menace only a man trained in war can muster. You rest your weight on your fists, positioned opposite mine, and lean in. You moisten your lips, a brief flash of tongue that sets an almost painful twinge of lustful memory through me, and then say very slowly and deliberately, “I… have… nothing… to… say… to… you…Sherlock…Holmes.”

And then the mask slides back into place over your handsome features, a wilful banality disguising itself as courtesy. A slight congenial smile tugs at the corner of your too-kissable mouth. You release the tension in your body, muscle by muscle. You withdraw, your retreat more delayed challenge than willing concession, retrieve your much-abused paper, and resume your seat.

You cross one leg over the other, re-fold your paper, and sip your tea. “Really, Holmes,” you reply in a tone of affected disinterest, “if your room doesn’t suit, perhaps you should have Mrs. Hudson do something about it.”

I could kill you. I, who have committed my entire existence to the apprehension of the criminal, the thief, and the murderer. I -- I could wrap my hands around that lovely throat which I’ve kissed so many times and squeeze the breath and life from you.

You ignore me. I stand staring, seething at your calm façade until I come to the bleak realization that you know that -- no matter the provocation -- I will never resort to lethal means. Not for you. Not for my beloved Watson.

Defeated, I sit down on the other side of the table. Tibet would be closer to you than this woeful chair.

“Must be the loss of that blackguard Moriarty,” you continue. “He was always one to get your blood flowing. You really should take up a new case, old boy, because you certainly haven’t been yourself since he’s been gone.”

Were that monster still living, I might entertain the puzzling and alarming notion that you thought my relationship with him to be suspect. But that is as unlikely a theory as I have ever proposed. And because I can now see there is little point in prolonging my torture by attempting to force a confession from my friend and fellow lodger, I will bide my time and continue to compile my observations. The clue must lie among them somewhere, if only I can keep my wits about me long enough to encounter it.

It is clear that I am intended to suffer through a long, dreary morning of empty civilities. I dig my heels in against the prospect."From the point of view of the criminal expert," I say, "London has become a singularly uninteresting city since the death of the late lamented Professor Moriarty."

"I can hardly think that you would find many decent citizens to agree with you," you retort, and so begins a very tedious monologue on my part. I don’t mean half of what I say, and am merely trying to elicit some honest emotion from you. But you are more than a match for me, for you refuse to rise to the bait. We might be actors on the stage, for all the false sincerity of that brief exchange.

I eventually settle in with my morning paper, sulky, and determined that I can keep a calm façade as well as you.

I am quite literally saved by the bell, for -- with all the drama of a tragedian -- in bursts John Hector McFarlane, the much-maligned lawyer. I offer him a cigarette and hope against hope that whatever is the cause of his distress might prove the balm to my own. Even as I invite him to present the details of his predicament, my words are an oblique flirt at you.

You ignore me, and are singularly unimpressed with my rapid quartet of deductions as to who and what McFarlane is. I suppose it was too much to hope that so simple a trick might intrigue you any longer.

Only when our hapless future client lets slip that he is the subject of a warrant for arrest does his case begin to pique my interest.

"Arrest you!" I say. "This is really most grati -- most interesting. On what charge do you expect to be arrested?" Surely the chance to prove myself again to be Lestrade’s better will do much to raise my spirits.

"Upon the charge of murdering Mr. Jonas Oldacre, of Lower Norwood," says the poor man.

I begin to feel myself again, for I will surely be able to bring the true facts of this case to light, as I have done for so many others. True, I could easily have had Mr. McFarlane continue his recitation of the details of the crime from the newspaper, but if I can enjoy no other relief, at the least I may at least requite my ears with the sound of your mellow baritone.

I entreat you to read the article McFarlane has indicated. As I listen, the thinking portion of my brain, which is never still except when I fall into one of my depressed moods, immediately begins the swift work of dissecting, categorizing, and analyzing even the slightest detail. I press my fingers together and close my eyes. To you and to our future client, I may appear to be keen for the minutiae of the crime, but in truth I am surrendering to the simple pleasure of hearing my cold-hearted Watson speak.

I keep my head enough to recognize that the end of this interview is imminent, and press the poor fellow for as many details as he can offer me. On the edge of my hearing, I detect the block-distant ruckus that heralds the impending arrival of our old “friend” the Inspector (with several uniformed policemen in tow, if my ears do not deceive me). I wring what I may from McFarlane in the few remaining moments before the officious and incompetent Lestrade bullies his way into our rooms with his men, all of them champing at the bit to arrest their man.

It is a mercy that Lestrade is in a magnanimous mood; he does allow me to finish hearing McFarlane’s recital. The case seems straightforward enough on its face, and yet I lack the last few details to slot everything into its place. It will keep me occupied, and if I may not be satisfied in more intimate ways, at the very least let me have some work.

I dare not flirt too openly under the watchful eyes of the police. I may be the only consulting detective in the world, but the ink is scarcely dry on the unfortunate “Criminal Law Amendment Act”, which only extends the ruthless persecution of the “Offenses against the Person Act”. One wrong look, one suspicious touch, or even the slightest of indications could subject a man to grievous accusation, merciless persecution, and even incarceration for a period of up to ten years. The law is not our friend here, and neither are its agents.

I do my utmost to be professional. When my eyes meet yours, you appear to be affecting a similar air of dispassion, though I will admit it sits more pleasingly upon your fine features than upon my hawkish ones.

And though I have more than once been accused of being too enamoured of my own abilities, Lestrade’s arrogance and my own unrelenting need to quash all physical signs of my arousal lead me to be short with him when he claims to have the case solved. In my experience, he never has a case solved until I solve it for him. Perhaps I do relish, a bit more than is wise, my challenge to his ridiculous theory that the very man pressed to draw up an unexpected will should immediately commit murder to attain his new-minted inheritance.

“As to the stick, Mr. Holmes,” says Lestrade in a bit of a huff, “you know as well as I do that a criminal is often flurried, and does such things, which a cool man would avoid. He was very likely afraid to go back to the room.” He draws himself up to the full extent of such height as he has. “Give me another theory that would fit the facts.”

“I could very easily give you half a dozen,” I retort, more stung than I should be. “Here for example, is a very possible and even probable one. I make you a free present of it.” Weariness and agitation have dulled my acuity; I hastily scramble together a scenario. “The older man is showing documents which are of evident value. A passing tramp sees them through the window, the blind of which is only half down. Exit the solicitor. Enter the tramp! He seizes a stick, which he observes there, kills Oldacre, and departs after burning the body.”

A stunned silence follows this recitation, as well it should, for it is admittedly one of the more idiotic theories I have ever suggested. That said, now that I have let fly this highly suspect proposal, my pride will not allow me to relinquish it until the true facts of the case are revealed. Even you sit, subtly amused, watching me with sparkling eyes. Your blandness resumes, however, as one of Lestrade’s men looks to you for explanation. You shrug with guileless charm, which he returns, a comrade in ignorance.

I do not blame Lestrade for challenging me; indeed, I should think him thrice the dolt I do, if he did not object to my imagining a suspect entirely sans motive. Let him have his sneering chuckle, so long as overconfidence makes him impatient to end the interview and begin his journey north to Norwood. No doubt he expects to find a quick resolution to the mystery of its murdered builder. I will even admit to being relieved to have him so confident, as it will only make my victory that much more satisfying. Moreover, if he is chasing wild hares in Norwood, it will keep him out of my way as I venture to the real source of the crime, which my observations tell me must be in Blackheath.

You do not don your coat when I don mine. I distrust the pang this neglect causes. Admittedly, you would only distract me from my case and the clues I require to prove my theory, but I should like it so much better if you were less your accommodating self, and more the partner I am too proud to admit I desire.

I wish you would tell me I was wrong and insist that I look again for a better answer than the folly I proposed to Lestrade. Indeed, I wish you would do anything but seem to be the very soul of loving support, even as I sense the depth of anger and hurt within you.

What can I have done to make you hate me so?

“…No, my dear fellow, I don’t think you can help me.” The words have a bitter edge to them, even as I stave off the very aid I so dearly desire. “There is no prospect of danger, or I should not dream of stirring out without you. I trust that when I see you in the evening, I will be able to report that I have been able to do something for this unfortunate youngster, who has thrown himself upon my protection.”

I pause at the door, hoping…

You stand, and for a moment my heart flutters in my throat just at the sight of you. Long, lean lines, not in the least marred by the old injury that gives your stride the most charming limp. You look at me briefly, and in that moment of private and silent communication, I fancy that the slightest crack appears in your mask. Some as-yet-unnamed emotion flits across your face and is gone.

“Watson?” I prompt.

Unfortunately, the sound of your name only seems to galvanize you. You straighten, tuck the paper under your arm, and offer me a genial hand farewell. “Holmes,” you say.

And then you turn and retire to your room.

The frustration only compounds itself during the trip to Blackheath. My mood darkens, which only mars my observations, as my investigation might have profited from a softer touch. My nose is out of joint, and my senses befuddled. I note a thousand details, a thousand more minutiae, a thousand additional exchanges, but all of them are a mere blur of data to be collected and referenced within the index of my mind.

I distractedly inspect McFarlane’s house, half-expecting to hear your knock at the door downstairs. I interview McFarlane’s mother and father, half-hoping to have the interview interrupted by some word of your imminent arrival. And indeed, I believe that the mother suspects me even more than is justifiable. Not only does she lash out at me for being an accessory to her son’s incarceration, but I believe that she suspects my sudden appearance to indicate a less-than-wholesome relationship with him.

I flee the oppression of the house, the awkwardness of the interview, and the tyranny of my obsession with you. Need for release of any kind becomes overwhelming, and much to my mortification, McFarlane’s mother nearly catches me with my hand down my trousers. I make some reasonable excuse and distract her with flattery and details before she can press me further.

So what do I carry with me when I leave Blackheath and make for Norwood? Nothing. I have data enough to occupy me for weeks, but none of it bears directly on the case. I have pages of notes from interviews strained by my own ill humour. I have the full range and scale of the community committed to memory, much good may it do me; the murder was not committed there. And worst of all, I have no means of recognizing what it is I seek, even as I know it must be there. Every fibre of my being proclaims it, and yet I have the unrelenting frustration of being unable to see it. It throbs, unresolved, in my mind just as my desire throbs, unrelenting, at my hip.

My inquiries at Norwood only compound my foul mood as the day turns to night. Deep Dene House mocks me with its obvious secrets. I cannot shake off the impression of a poorly-conceived drama, replete with fading bloodstains, peculiar floorplans, and suspicious housekeeper. I am unable to decide which of us -- Mrs. Lexington or myself -- is currently of the more chary and antisocial temper. I am unsure what she believes me to be, but she still defends the odious deceased as if he lived. Perhaps that makes her loyal, but for my purposes, it makes her taciturn and uncooperative.

The rooms themselves point to a life wasted. Here is a man who died a virtual Scrooge, unlamented except by an unpleasant woman who grieves solely for the loss of her income and security. As I pass down the hall, I meditate on the folly of this grand palace: so much space, and no one to share it with. There was a time, before the current spate of denial, when you and I might have stolen a kiss in an abandoned room. Or more, if we dared.

I smile at the thought of the many crime scenes we christened. I miss your hands, your mouth, every part of you from top to toe, and especially that one. We are both surely damned to eternal hellfire for our exertions, and yet I regret none of them.

Sighing, I gather my one solid lead, a certain Mr. Cornelius, and retreat back to Baker Street, musing savagely that Lestrade will be ecstatic to know that no, I could not find any bloody tramp within so much as a mile of the house, and certainly not one inclined to commit a random murder sans motive.

I slink back up the stairs to 221B, abandon my frock coat on its hook, and wallow in music for the better part of an hour. How easy it is to lose myself to the familiar bliss of strings beneath my fingers, the comfortable exertions of the bow in my hand. I believe that I may have missed my violin as much as I missed you during those seemingly endless three years.

You try and fail to feign indifference, but are truly at the edge of your seat. No book, no paper, no letter can distract you. Music always had a singular effect on us both. I could woo you or comfort you or seduce you or annoy you, depending on your mood and mine, but if I am honest with myself, you are one of the few who have come close to comprehending my fascination with that ephemeral and wordless language.

When at last the words will no longer be kept prisoner behind my tongue, I recount to you my twin failures at Blackheath and Norwood. I intend them to be brief histories, but you listen with such attentiveness that it calls to the surface all my frustrated passion. I give you each detail, hoping that when you chronicle this adventure, I will be able to laugh at the black misery I now suffer, and subsequently rejoice at how completely my fortunes have shifted for the better.

I end the recitation as bleakly as I began it. “Cornelius might be a broker, but we have found no scrip to correspond with these large payments. Failing any other indication, my researches must now take the direction of an inquiry at the bank for the gentleman who has cashed these checks.” I beg you with a look to sympathize at how thoroughly I am bested. “But I fear, dear fellow, that our case will end ingloriously by Lestrade hanging our client, which will certainly be a triumph for Scotland Yard.”

After another of those damned unending pauses, you rise from your chair and walk over to me, your face a very model of human sympathy. I am reminded again of how very long those years were for you, with the loss of both wife and - and - and myself, and how they have only accentuated the wounded strength that is the hallmark of your carriage.

You touch my shoulder, a manly expression, and that moment of sincerity is almost enough to break me. I seize your hand with both of mine, dragging it to my lips to press an hundred kisses on it, mutely expressing my need for you. I pull myself up your arm and into your embrace, falling as easily into the comfort of your kiss as I had into the release of my music. And though I know it is too much to hope for you to throw off whatever slight has turned you so cold, I am answered in the movement of your mouth against mine.

It is a bittersweet relief when you grind against me, hands as hungry as your lips. I must fill every sense with you: every taste, every touch, every texture. Surely this blissful assault means that some part of you is still mine. Like Norwood’s half-solved murder, if only I can find the right detail, surely you too will unfold all your secrets to me. Your hand drifts low. I welcome it, so starved for any affection that I strongly consider letting you stroke me to bliss where we stand.

I reach for you in return, desperate to feel you hot against my fingers. We make our fevered assault on each other’s clothing, removing just enough to prize out that which we most need to touch. Such dizzied fumbling is usually the domain of the schoolroom, but I am in no position to refuse whatever ecstasy you might offer.

You hold me, your face pressed into my shoulder, and mine likewise in yours. The familiar prickle of wool beneath my eyelids focuses me more fully on the bliss of your hand. I need you, my dear Watson, as I’ve never needed you.

So good. So close. You will have me in just another moment. You are hot and hard in my hand, sliding against my palm. Soon I will have what I need, and will grant you the same.

Just when I am at the brink of release, you pull away.

How you can retain possession of your body after such a performance is an utter mystery to me. I stagger, half-bared to the cool air of the room, nearly undone. Another touch and I will come in your hand and be yours again.

You seize my face in your hands, your eyes wild as if I’ve done something extraordinary. I have the sense that if I could only find the right words to say, all this nonsense between us would melt away and I would fall into your arms and your bed and your body, there to quench myself at last.

You kiss me so fiercely that it has the edge of la petite mort. But there is no more release in your kiss than in your touch. Too soon, you tear your mouth from mine.

“Goodnight, Holmes,” you say.

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