Holmes and Watson's first kiss came at the crescendo of the perplexing case of the Bishopsgate robbery. Via a series of deductions performed to dazzle and amaze, Holmes concluded that the jewels could only have eloped from the household on the person of the ostensible Constable Henley himself. This led first to a pas-de-deux of collaborative pick pocketing of a purported officer and subsequently to Holmes and Watson tearing through the gaslight fog of Bishopsgate like a couple of delinquent urchins with a bogus bobby in furious pursuit.

Said crime to reverse a crime threatened to strain Watson's leg considerably more than any residual scruples he might yet host, yet in the flush of adrenaline and the thrill of the joint adventure, he ran side-by-side Holmes, oblivious of any pain.

As the criminal closed in behind them, Holmes made a show of tightening his grip on the booty sack as it threatened to slip down and away onto the cobbles. Watson forked off down a side street. Henley--or Pendleton of the Lea Valley Gang, as his true name would later prove to be--chose predictably to follow Holmes and the swinging bag on which he had set his sights.

Holmes whistled for a real officer, the last thing the ersatz one would want to encounter, picked his pace up to an all-out run, then ducked around the corner and unnoticed into the shadows of an alleyway. Holmes's knowledge of and memory for the streets of London was quite extraordinary although Watson doubted he had passed this way more than once within the past year.

The culprit rounded the corner and scanned about the deserted street, then fled in confused alarm as windows opened and shouts for the police awoke the night.

Minutes later Watson circled into the alley from the other end having jogged around the buildings with the jewellery tucked safely in his coat pocket.

"You have it then, Watson?" Holmes called out from a dark cranny amongst the stonework.

Flushed and breathless, Watson put his hand into pocket, then raised his arm with a triumphant flourish, hoisting the largest a twice-purloined piece--a diamond choker--high into the night air.

"Ha!" Holmes seized his wrist to either examine or brandish their prize. "Well played!" Gemstones set in platinum glistened in the scattered daubs of moonlight as Holmes rolled it to and fro in Watson's fist.

Breathing hard, heart still hammering in his chest, his body still peaked on excitement's edge, Watson whipped Holmes around to his chest and kissed him.

Somehow Holmes's mouth pushed open, and the kiss became a two-sided affair.

Along with the wind to his lungs and the ache to his leg, Watson's better sensibilities eventually filtered back within. When they did, he opened his eyes, prepared to face what effects his impetuousness had wrought.

What he saw was not shock nor delight nor, censure, nor distaste. He saw his friend of these several years disentangle his mouth as impassively as an errant watch chain from around a button as he secured the necklace into his own pocket.

"We do make an unparalleled partnership," said Holmes. His visage carried the same easy familiarity, utterly open albeit unmoved.

"You feel nothing then?" asked Watson. After the past years of immersion, he was far too cognizant of Holmes's eccentricities to fall into the trap of misconstrued hurt, and yet he dropped his eyes for fear of being unable to conceal a dying disappointment from a certain hyper-astute observer, no matter how inky the night.

"On the contrary." Holmes replied with an uncommon tone of compassion. "I feel a wholly unprecedented affection for the most devout and long-suffering companion with whom a man could have the good fortune to be graced. An affection which is greater now than five minutes prior, I might add." Holmes squeezed his hand with unnecessary pressure as he took the stash of remaining jewels from Watson's coat.

"But as for carnal desires to which I fear you refer, the answer remains: no. My body is but vessel and tool enslaved to the purposes of my brain and can do nothing that does not further its end. That is a condition that until recent times and happenstance was a source of great satisfaction and pride for me. Now, given my free preference, I would wish it otherwise, but a man's elemental nature cannot be changed any more than can that of wood or stone."

"A tree may become a petrified stone of great beauty," said Watson. "Or common coal a rare diamond." Watson placed his hand to the stones pocketed against Holmes's thigh.

"Over a span of centuries my dear fellow. Unless your craft of medicine reveals cabalistic secrets of Methuselah to you, I fear that rate of change will do neither of us any good. I am sorry. If nothing else, I ask you to accept my word as a gentleman that that is true."

With a rueful smile, Watson withdrew his palm. "The latter, of course. Without reservation. But as for the former, you must forgive me if in this one instance I do not accept your conclusions as being prophesied from the Mount."

"Forgive you? With pleasure. But I cannot recommend such a course to a valued friend. Those who doubt my conclusions tend to end up some what the poorer, greatly humbler, and not only occasionally at loss of life or liberty. I have known myself a great deal longer than you have. "

"Longer, yes. However, better, I am not so sure."

"Presumptuous, Watson. As severely misdirected and ill-advised as it is well intentioned."

"Hmm." Watson leaned in very close to Holmes's ear. Close enough to tickle the sensitive hairs in the canal, close enough to smell his pomade and shaving soap, close enough that even in the darkness he could see the full pulse of the vessels in Holmes's neck.

Close enough to observe that Holmes's did not flinch or pull away.

He brought his mouth to the soft skin of an ear, and when he could be no closer, allowing his lips to brush so lightly over the nerves, he enunciated softly but very clearly, "Norbury."

The peal of laughter cracked through the nearby streets. "A stroke, Watson! A veritable coup-de-grace! You are indeed the crowning gem amongst the baubles!"

With a robust flourish, he scooped up Watson by the arm and steered him towards the street. "Come along. By now our erstwhile constable should have been accosted by some not so sympathetic superiors, freeing us to return to our client unimpeded.

"The fee on this case is as much yours as mine, I would say, having been purchased at the expense of you already badly-put upon leg. Shall we go claim your recompense?"

"My leg will recover," said Watson, even then feeling the accentuation of the pain. He leaned more heavily on Holmes and against his body as the turned out into the street.

"How would you like to spend your fee?" asked Holmes.

"I incline to a sea-holiday in Brighton," said Watson as they strolled back towards their client's home.

"Pleasant, this time of year, but lonely for one, I should think."

"I intend to suggest our client compensate us at a level commensurate with the value of the property we shall return to him." Watson rattled the jewellery wrapped in Holmes's costume. "That should be more than sufficient to cover a stay for us both."

"You intend to suggest?" Holmes stressed. "My silent but able collaborator now trades tongue for pen?" Despite the parry in his words, his step was light and jaunty, still intoxicated with their success.

"Indeed. My recovery; my fee; my rates," Watson teased back as well. "Assuming you might be persuaded to leave your city to fend for itself for a fortnight or so."

"Your recovery; your fee; your conditions." Holmes squeezed their arms together. "As I see it, I have little choice." He sighed a melodramatic sigh.

"It needn't be an utter tribulation for you," offered Watson. "Surely there must be crime in Brighton: a whole exciting new element to be explored. One which is yet naïve to the counterforce that is Sherlock Holmes."

"Sherlock Holmes and his Watson," corrected Holmes.

"You'll come then?"

"A horde of stampeding elephants couldn't keep me from it."

Watson chuckled. "Perhaps we can arrange three weeks." Arm in arm, they turned onto the street to their client's home.