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First, a fic rec, from the Doyle corner of the Sherlock multiverse:

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Title: Grit, by earlybloomingparentheses (AO3)
Rating: Mature
Words: 5013
Summary: John Watson, still bruised and damaged from the Afghan War, decides to hide his inversion so Sherlock Holmes will remain his friend and flatmate. He thinks the trade-off won't be difficult, but in a moment of weakness he goes to an underground club with an erstwhile lover. What he discovers there is more than he'd bargained for.
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In some ways, while I'm sure Watson is surprised by what he discovers, to those of us readers familiar with the fandom or who have the benefit of reading this story's header, the surprise if more or less foreseen. That doesn't keep it from being delightful. This story does a really nice job of looking at the kind of gay culture that would have been probable in Victorian London and how it might have affected Watson, but also not making the queerness more important than it would have been. There are conflicts driving this story beyond just the fear of being outed or the need for subterfuge because of the times, and even the culture of the day seems remarkably nuanced in the ways it both accepts and rejects what the author has Watson describe as "gentlemen of certain proclivities."

It's charming, really, and realistic to my mind, and the way Holmes is characterized as well, the way Watson finally sees him more clearly than I think he would have prior to this encounter, the way they're both simultaneously coy and tentative but not ashamed or hesitant (there is a difference here) - it was a really refreshing read.

Bonus: the author published it on my birthday of last year! So it feels like a special gift as I approach the end of year #32. I know it's not in the more serious corners of my mind, but that doesn't keep me from feeling a special attachment to it.

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