April 17, 2008
Written for Elina_K who asked for a story in which Lestrade arrives at an…
ahem, inopportune moment.


What the Policeman Saw

by nlr alicia

The setting for this story was inspired by Elina’s lovely painting,
Holmes and Watson Were Lovers
(I swapped the clothes around a bit. But I imagine that happened a lot. 😀 ).


<< These stories are inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of his immortal characters, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson. The content shared here is the responsibility of this author.>>


On style choices: I use Americanized spelling and punctuation because I’m not confident I’ll always remember to use Anglicized alternatives and the possessive “Holmes’s” as Doyle does in the Strand version of HOUN because I like it better.


Content Warnings: None. Unless you’re a certain Scotland Yard Inspector. If so, be very afraid.


A log popped as it shifted in the dwindling fire and Holmes stirred beside me. We were twined together on the velveteen cushions of our overstuffed couch, sunk in the easy repose best achieved after an arduous day’s (and night’s, in Holmes’s case) work. I turned a page of the novel I had propped up on the back cushions.

“Are you finished pretending to read?” Holmes murmured, his low voice rumbling pleasantly through my chest.

“I can be,” I answered, smiling as I glanced down to see his smoke gray eyes regarding me from below a mop of delightfully tousled dark hair. “Are you rested?”

He nodded without lifting his head. “More than rested,” he said. “Reinvigorated would be closer to the mark.”

“Not preoccupied with Lestrade’s latest case?” I said, closing my neglected book and shifting to deposit it on the floor nearby. Holmes raised himself on his elbow.

“Couldn’t be farther from my mind,” Holmes confided, his long fingers drifting from their rest at my hip to the buttons of my waistcoat. “Are you not warm in all that clothing?”

I nodded thoughtfully, as I tugged my cravat free. “I am. But you must be chilled in just your pyjamas.”

“Actually, no,” Holmes answered, reaching up to help me unfasten my collar before he returned his attention to my waistcoat. “In fact, I’m a bit warm myself.”

My hand quested between us for the sash of his dressing gown. I found an end and gave it an experimental pull. The loop at his waist came free.

“I have noticed you tend to a sanguinary, not to say heated, temperament,” I remarked.

Holmes’s fingers stilled on the last button of my waistcoat. He looked up and cocked an inquisitive eyebrow. “Now, that’s odd,” he said thoughtfully. “Because I distinctly remember you calling me variously cold-blooded and an automaton.”

Without pausing I pushed the satin fabric of the dressing gown back from his hip and reached for the tie of his pyjama trousers. “I was theorizing before I had sufficient data. It’s a capital mistake, you know.”

“True,” he agreed, nodding as he returned his attention to the buttons of my shirt. “Now that you have more empirical evidence…”

“I’m bound to admit my error,” I said equably as I tugged the knot free. “Right now, for example,” I went on, slipping my hand under the waist of his trousers to cup the supple curve of his hip, “You’re positively radiating–”

But I was destined not to finish the thought for at that moment Holmes bent forward and captured my lips in a kiss so comprehensive in its wonders I was left both breathless and at a complete loss for words. I was distantly aware his fingers had continued their work and had just flicked the last button of my shirt free. I felt a tug at the fastenings of my trousers and hurriedly returned to the task of pushing his pyjamas down toward his thighs.

Holmes traced his tongue along my upper lip at the edge of my mustache and I grinned at the sensation he knew full well always sparked a flutter of amusement, but before my laughter could escape he caught my mouth in another heady kiss. This time it failed to distract me from the fact his quick fingers were hooked in the waist of my undergarments, sliding them down, along with my trousers, with firm and inarguable determination.

As I lifted my hips to assist, solid and unyielding skin meet skin. The next instant we were both twisting and reaching, vying to see who could strip the other bare first. While I had the advantage of being faced with far fewer garments to remove, Holmes’s gift for economy of motion saw to it my shirt and waistcoat were pushed back over my shoulders, severely hindering the mobility of my arms, even as my trousers were traveling down around my knees. The finish of our undeclared competition seemed assured when at that moment there was a quick step upon the stair.

We froze, each more than half undressed and both fully at attention.

“Did you lock the door?” I breathed.

Holmes’s eyes widened in silent answer just as a sharp rap sounded in the hall. Lestrade’s voice rang out in the vibrating silence, “Mr. Holmes? Sorry to knock you up so late, but there’s some new information you’ll need for your investigation,” then there was the unmistakable sound of the handle turning.

Our simultaneous attempt to rise had the inevitable effect when our trouser legs became a snarled tangle. I now believe Holmes started to call out, “Just a moment, Lestrade.” The sound that emerged, however, was much closer to “Juh-gah’woof,” as we tumbled from the couch followed by a brief shower of cushions.

I hit the ground first and Holmes’s elbow landed in my ribs. As I curled up in helpless reflex my head collided with his chin. The sharp click of his jaws snapping together gave a curious echo to the sound of the door latch shooting upward.

In the next instant Lestrade strode into the room and barked, “Mr. Holmes, are you all ri…” The question trailed off into a faint and somehow heart-rending gurgle as his searching gaze came to rest on the floor at the front of our couch.

Holmes and I were leaning back on our hands, bare from shoulders to knees, legs interlaced. What with the generous profusion of trailing garments and sofa cushions, I believe the luxuriance of our frozen tableau might have drawn appreciative glances in one of the more exotic Oriental hareems.

Lestrade’s gaze was not so much appreciative as paralytic. It flashed across my mind to wonder if I would shortly be called on to administer the kiss of life and how much more awkward still would be our position should Gregson arrive hard on Lestrade’s heels when, thankfully, Lestrade blinked.

As if it were an unspoken cue, Holmes gave a sharp twist of his wrist and the trailing fabric of his dressing gown flicked through the air and settled with a graceful flutter across our laps. I did not fail to observe, through the curse of peripheral vision, that the drape of the garment betrayed two distinct apexes.

I could not determine whether Lestrade detected the same phenomenon, but noted with fresh alarm that his eyes went glassy. His mouth opened then closed. Then, without uttering a sound, he turned, walked back through the open door, and closed it behind him with a quiet snap.

Holmes and I sat motionless for the space of a long, unspent breath then with one accord we disentangled our limbs and trousers, levered up to our feet and with startling rapidity did up undergarments, sashes, and in my case, collars. In a remarkable example of cooperative effort, Holmes fastened my waistcoat buttons while I twisted my cravat into place.

In several seconds shy of a minute, Holmes was leaning languidly against the windowsill while I perched, knees tightly crossed, at the edge of my chair by the fire.

We needn’t have hurried quite so much, it seemed, for we sat and leaned thus, as if posed for a portrait photograph, through two full ticks of the minute hand from the clock on the mantel. Just as I was turning to Holmes to cock a quizzical eyebrow, there came a gentle tap-tap at the door.

Holmes cleared his throat. “Come in,” he said with a placid disinterest that was remarkable even for him.

The latch clicked and Lestrade stepped into the room, the aloof calm of his expression somewhat marred by the rich scarlet color that brightened his cheeks. He drew in breath to speak and there was a certain pathos in the look of confusion that filled his eyes as he evidently realized he had quite forgotten what he’d come to say.

“Would you care for some brandy, Lestrade?” Holmes suggested with a benevolence that showed he was not unmoved.

There was a long pause before Lestrade managed a quiet, “Ah. Yus. Thank you.”

I was impressed by the fact that he managed to pour himself out a generous tumbler with only the slightest rattle of glassware. I wasn’t sure that I could have managed it as well in his position. Or, I realized, in my position come to that.

But Lestrade, consummate and street hardened professional that he was, soon pulled himself together enough to make his report. My attention was not what it might have been under normal circumstances. I caught the words “emerald” and, surprisingly, “ostrich plumes,” then Lestrade was depositing his twice-emptied tumbler on the sideboard and moving toward the door on stiff legs.

He turned in the doorway and glanced between us before offering a rather strangled, “Good n… bye,” then he was gone and the door closed behind him with a decisive click. I stared at it for a long moment before I turned to Holmes.

He was watching me with a curiously detached attention as though I were an experiment that was nearing completion and he wasn’t quite sure whether to anticipate a puff of smoke or a loud bang.

“Should we be concerned?” I said evenly

My companion pursed his lips and seemed to give my question some deliberation.

“No,” he said a moment later and pushed away from the windowsill to move to the sideboard.

“But, Holmes,” I said from my chair. “He is a policeman…”

“A policeman,” Holmes said as he lined up two fresh tumblers and uncorked the tantalus, “With enough sense to know he has far more important laws to concern himself with than any that might apply to two of his more valuable civilian allies.”

He crossed to my chair and held out a generously filled glass. I took it automatically, still lost in thought, and drained it with unusual efficiency.

“You’ll remember he pointedly didn’t arrest us for breaking and entering after the Milverton affair.”

I glanced up in surprise. “He knew about that?”

Holmes cocked an eyebrow and took a long pull from his glass. “Of course, he did. He’s not entirely hopeless, you know.”

“Oh,” I said, thinking it was actually something of a surprise to hear.

“If you’ve finished your drink?”

He took the empty glass from my hand and returned it to the sideboard. “Now,” he said briskly, “I believe it would be appropriate to take our cue from the resolute Inspector and make another bid for success.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Surely, not-”

“A nap, I think,” Holmes said coming back to my chair and extending his hand. “I find I’m feeling somewhat depleted again.”

I let him guide me across to the couch and stood by while he rearranged the cushions. He stepped back and made a sweeping gesture. I sat automatically and was startled to feel his hands at the back of my knees. Before I could utter a sound of surprise, he had lifted my legs and arranged me in a comfortable reclining position. With a deft turn of his wrists he twitched his dressing gown around his long legs, climbed onto the couch and stretched out beside me.

Though Holmes was taller by several inches, I’d always been impressed by the way he was able to mold his frame to fit mine. In the time it took to comprehend the thought, he’d arranged himself so that his head rested on my chest and his legs were folded neatly around mine.

“Holmes,” I said as I felt his breath resume its steady rhythm.


“I believe I shall need to stop referring to Lestrade in my writings as ‘ferret-faced.’”

“That would be most generous,” Holmes murmured. The sensation of his voice vibrating in my chest was very agreeable. “I’m sure you can come up with some equally apropos animal metaphor. I’d venture to suggest ‘bulldog-like.’”

I cocked an eyebrow. “It’s not quite as descriptive.”

“Nor as accurate,” Holmes observed. “All the same, I think he might consider it a favor.”

I nodded, enjoying the rough feel of his tousled hair catching against my unshaved chin.

We lay in silence for some minutes before I ventured, “Holmes?”

There was no trace of sleep in his voice as he said, “We could retire to the bedroom.”

“I don’t think I shall be able to relax on this couch again for some time,” I agreed. “If ever.”

Holmes slid gracefully from the couch and stood by while I levered myself up with somewhat less aplomb. He gestured and I preceded him to the bedroom door.

“This may be Mrs. Hudson’s chance to redecorate our sitting room,” I mused aloud.

Holmes was silent and I glanced over my shoulder to find him regarding the couch thoughtfully.

He looked back at me and a disconcerting smile curled the corners of his mouth. “Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to keep it on hand for late night visitors?”

“Holmes, no,” I said flatly.

“No?” My friend shrugged. “Perhaps not. But you must admit the idea has a certain rough justice.”

That phrase sparked a thought in my mind and I hesitated. “Holmes, if Lestrade suspected the truth in the Milverton affair, is it out of the question…” I shot a glance at the couch.

My friend smiled, his eyes bright in the last flickerings of firelight. “I imagine we will never know exactly what goes on in the good Inspector’s private thoughts,” he said as he turned me back toward the bedroom door. “And perhaps it’s just as well.”


In a pub not far away, a short-statured man possessed of a narrow face that might be called ferret-like sat at the bar, nursing a tall tumbler of whiskey.

The barman re-polished the railing along the back wall. “Eh, last orders is passed, Inspector,” he ventured. “I can stand you a bottle if…”

The little man shook his head, raised his glass and said, “To love, Radford.”

The barman lifted his rag in salute. “To love. Eh, yours, Inspector?”

The policeman drained his glass and planted it on the bar with a loud thump that echoed in the wood-paneled room.

“Yes and no, Radford.” He retrieved his hat and deposited it somewhat crookedly on his head. “Yes and no.”

With those parting words, G. Lestrade of Scotland Yard let himself out into the street and, casting only one fleeting backward glance at the glowing lamps of Baker Street, started for home.