The surprise birthday dinner was now officially cold, the gravy congealed, the
potatoes icy. I sighed.
The birthday cake went untouched. There was no
sign of Holmes.
I couldn’t even bring myself to pick at the food. I
glanced around our Baker Street rooms; the gaslights were set low, and most of
the illumination came from the candlelight on the table, highlighting the
perfect, uneaten dinner. The candles were slowly burning lower and lower,
marking the passage of time. The tickets to tonight’s concert lay on Holmes’
chair, never to be used.
The Christmas decorations had been taken down,
marking the end of Twelfth Night, and had been replaced by colorful streamers. A
sign I had made, declaring, “Happy Birthday Holmes!” lay propped upon the
I sighed again and lay down upon the sofa. The one time I had
actually managed to keep a secret from Holmes was, of course, the one time that
he was nowhere to be found, his whereabouts unknown, his arrival unpredictable.
Swallowing down my disappointment and ignoring my unfed stomach, I closed my
eyes and drifted into an uneasy sleep.
I don’t know how long I rested,
whether it was minutes or hours, but I awoke suddenly with the slam of the door
announcing Holmes’ arrival. I honestly don’t know which of us was more
surprised; him as he took in the changes to our rooms or me as I saw his
bloodied and battered state.
“My God, Holmes, what
happened?” I exclaimed, leaping to my feet.
But he stood still in the
doorway, his gaze focusing on my decorating attempts. “What’s this?” he enquired
with bewildered wonderment.
I reached him and drew him into the room.
“It’s a mere attempt at a birthday celebration, Holmes,” I said as my trained
eye quickly diagnosed his various injuries.
He followed me, paying far
more attention to the room than to where he was going, as I led him to the sofa.
“You did this for me?” he asked in puzzlement.
“Yes,” I replied,
wondering if he was more gravely injured then what was apparent at first glance
and if he was going into shock.
“No one has ever done such a
I blinked in surprise as I realized that his shock had nothing to
do with his physical injuries. “Well then, happy birthday Holmes,” I said
“It is my birthday, isn’t it? I had nearly forgotten.”
touched his shoulder, which drew his attention to me. “Would you tell me what
happened?” I asked, hoping that my professional tone hid my worry and my own
He visibly shook himself and then met my eyes. “Oh, my dear
Watson, it is nothing. Just a mere trifling argument with some ruffians in an
attempt to correct Lestrade’s incompetence. Really, doctor, no need to worry
“Holmes, you’re covered in blood.”
“All theirs, dear
fellow, I assure you.”
“And your clothes are ripped.”
Mrs. Hudson’s amazing skills with a sewing needle won’t easily
“And you’re clutching your hand.”
“Ah, you noticed that,
I suppressed a sigh. “Holmes,” I said firmly, making sure that
my tone allowed for now argument, “we are going to clean off that blood, I will
examine you for injuries, and I will look at that hand.”
“Quiet, Holmes,” I said, raising my finger and
demanding his silence with a stern look. “I am going to get a basin of water and
my medical kit, and you are going to stay here. Have I made myself
I glared at him in warning and then all but ran
up the stairs, grabbing my medical bag from my room. I hurried back downstairs,
fetched the water, and went back into the sitting room. Holmes was standing near
the table, holding the concert tickets in one hand and clutching the other hand
close to his body.
“These were for tonight,” he said, gesturing with the
tickets, his voice barely above a whisper.
I took them from him and
placed them on the table. “Don’t worry about it,” I said as I urged him to sit
“I didn’t know,” he murmured as I slowly washed away the blood on
“It was supposed to be a surprise. I should have told you
earlier. Now hold still; you have a few scratches I need to clean.”
winced slightly as I applied the antiseptic. “You did a good job of hiding this
from me, Watson. What about the dinner?”
I continued to clean his
wounds. “From Mrs. Hudson; she made all your favorites.”
“Ah. I’ll have
to apologize to her. And the sign and streamers?”
I followed his gaze to
the ‘Happy Birthday Holmes!’ sign on the mantel, and snorted in wry amusement at
my own foolishness. “Just a bit of silliness on my part, Holmes.”
my eyes. “It wasn’t silly at all, Watson. In fact, it was great kindness. Thank
I could feel myself flush slightly and I quickly turned my
attention back to his examination to cover my embarrassment. “Let me see that
He reluctantly gave me his right hand. I could see that there were
many abrasions and that one of the fingers was severely swollen. “One of your
fingers is broken, Holmes. I’ll have to set it.”
He nodded, then looked
at me and smiled briefly. “I’m sorry for ruining your evening,” he said, and
then his face looked incredibly sad.
“Don’t worry about it, Holmes,” I
murmured soothingly. “I’m just glad that you’re home safely.” I cleaned his
hands and he grimaced as I touched the broken finger.
“It’s just that I
had no expectations, Watson,” he continued as I worked. “You see, I’ve never had
a birthday celebration.”
I frowned slightly and then reached into my bag
for the materials for a splint. “That doesn’t seem right,” I said, still
preoccupied with looking for the supplies. “Surely when you were a
“No. Definitely not then.”
I looked over at him in
confusion, but he refused to meet my eyes. “Well,” I said carefully, “although
the meal is inedible, we can enjoy the cake. We can still have a late
celebration, after I set your finger that is.”
He looked up at me and
smiled, his grey eyes brighter and softer than I had ever seen. “Thank you, my
friend,” he said quietly.
I turned my attention back to his hand. “I’m
going to have to set this now, Holmes,” I said, using my most professional tone,
trying to hide my confusion at the warmth I felt in my chest at his smile.
He nodded and the expression on his face became tight.
grasped his hand, examining the broken index finger. “Would you like a brandy to
help dull the pain?” I asked. “Or, perhaps,” I sighed, loathing to go on but
knowing I must make the offer, “morphine?”
He shook his head and closed
his eyes. “Just get on with it, Watson.”
I probed his finger and I could
feel the break; it felt clean. I swiftly positioned the pieces into their
correct place. He winced and paled, but said nothing. I then took the splint and
gauze, and began to bandage his finger.
“It will be fine, Holmes,” I said
soothingly. “You’ll be playing the violin in no time.”
He did not open
his eyes, but he did smile.
As I worked, I found myself studying his
hand. I touched the uninjured long, thin fingers, which were always so animated
and expressive. I finished tying off his bandage, and then stroked his palm,
marveling at the hidden strength contained in his hand. Yet there was also a
gentleness and an exacting precision – ranging from his delicate chemistry
experiments to his exquisite violin playing.
With a start, I realized I
was caressing Sherlock Holmes’ hand. I dropped it quickly. “That should do,” I
said in a shaky voice and went to move away.
He reached out and touched
my sleeve. His now open eyes were staring at me intently. “Watson, why did you
set up a romantic dinner for the two of us for my birthday?” he asked, gesturing
to the candlelit display before us.
“That was certainly not my intent,” I
said, trying for an angry tone but only succeeding in sounding
“Concert tickets as well. That sounded like a lovely
“Stop this at once, Holmes,” I said, this time succeeding in being
angry. “I realize that you are not interested in something as trivial as a
birthday celebration, but do not mock me.” I tried to get away, but he reached
out with his bandaged hand and touched my face.
“That was not my
intention,” he said, and with that, he kissed me.
I should have stopped
him. I should have pulled back. I should have been horrified. Instead, I kissed
We broke apart, and I realized that he was looking at me with a
most fearful expression, as if terrified of my reaction.
I reached out
and kissed him again.
We finally separated. “How long have you felt this
way?” he breathed as his forehead pressed against mine.
I snorted wryly.
“Probably forever. But I just realized it since you kissed me.”
pulled back. “If you don’t want—“
“I do.” I touched his face and gently
caressed him. “And you?” I asked. “How long have you known?”
He smiled a
little sadly. “Since the Jefferson Hope affair, the “Study in Scarlet’, when you
adamantly exclaimed your intention to publish and credit my work in that case.
It’s not that I actually cared about the public acclaim, you understand. It’s
just that no one before had ever supported my work so enthusiastically. No one
had ever supported me like that before. I’m afraid that my budding attraction
for you firmly took root at that point.”
“My dear Holmes,” I exclaimed,
“that was years ago.”
“Yes,” he said sadly.
“You weren’t supposed to.”
I grasped his uninjured hand.
Then a sudden inspiration hit me. I sprang up and hurried to the sideboard,
where I grabbed the birthday cake and a single candle, which I lit. I could feel
Holmes’ gaze upon me. I placed the candle into the cake and brought it back to
Holmes, putting it on the table in front of him.
“A birthday cake,” he
said with amusement.
“Indeed. Blow out the candle and make a
He looked at me with the gentlest expression I had ever seen on
his face. “I already have all that I could wish for, Watson.”
there is something more that you desire,” I murmured, feeling my face flush as
he looked at me warmly.
He nodded briefly and then looked at the cake.
Suddenly he smiled and blew out the candle.
“I hope you get your wish,” I
He stood and held out his uninjured hand to me. “So do I,”
he said. He looked very vulnerable.
I took his hand and stood up. I
kissed him. “Yes,” I said, agreeing to everything.
He smiled, his face
more open than I had ever seen. He looked beautiful. “Well Watson,” he said,
with a nervous, mischievous grin, “seeing as it is my birthday, don’t you want
to see me in my birthday suit?”
I snorted in amusement and kissed his
forehead. “Lead on, my friend,” I told him.
He squeezed my hand and led
me to his room.