|Sunset and Evening Star
Author: medcat PM
A different take on "Heart of the Matter." Retirement AU. Warning: character death. As usual, nothing graphic.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Friendship - Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson - Chapters: 3 - Words: 2,451 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 03-13-10 - Published: 03-09-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5803282
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
In the early afternoon, Mycroft walked in, his face full of unspoken sympathy. Mrs. Hudson must have wired him with the news, and I could not find it in my heart to be angry with her. Out of habit (and in an attempt to control my emotions), I made some quip about Jupiter altering his orbit. He just looked at me and quietly said, "Sherlock, don't," as he embraced me.
I remember only snatches of the next few days...just as if they were distinct photographs.
I went through these days mechanically, answering when spoken to, picking at my food when it was set before me, lying down on my bed at night...although I was plagued either with insomnia or with nightmares. The nightmares were mostly that fateful morning scene replaying over and over in my mind (curse my overactive imagination) and me constantly wondering if it was my fault after all...it was I who dragged him out on that chase the previous night.
Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson made all the arrangements, consulting me on a few points...just as well that they did, I suppose, as I was hardly able to think.
The funeral itself was surely the best-attended funeral in London...Scotland Yard turned out full force, as did several medical colleagues of Watson's and a large crowd of who I could only assume were grateful patients and their families.
The days after the funeral passed by, adding to weeks, and yet I could not get rid of the feeling that Watson would walk in any moment...that he was just running late at his practice or away on a week's holiday...irrational, I well knew, but there it was.
Finally, in early December, I made preparations for moving to Sussex...I realized that all of a sudden, "The Game" had no attraction to me any longer...not without my trusted partner at my side. My only bitter regret was that I did not realize that sooner...if I had, perhaps he would still be here?
The task of sorting through Watson's effects fell to me, as he had no immediate living relatives. I took the well-worn dispatch box to Sussex with me when I moved there mid-December, and one miserably chill and dark winter evening, opened it on a whim, fancying that I could feel Watson next to me, chuckling over my intrusiveness. "I trust you do not object, my dear fellow," I could not help whispering as I gently opened the cover of the topmost journal...and, much to my surprise, a leaf of paper fluttered out of the journal. I bent down and carefully picked it up...it was a letter addressed to me.
With bated breath, I began to read.
"My dear Holmes,
If you are reading this, I should say it is safe to assume that I am no longer here. Life is so uncertain, after all—I have noted the fact many times during my time in the Army and then during my medical work. And, perhaps, my...shall we say, passing?... happened suddenly, whatever occasioned it, and, therefore, I had been unable to say anything to you. In view of that possibility, I have written this letter and secreted it here, knowing that your natural curiosity will lead you here sooner or later." I had to chuckle—he knew me far too well.
I resumed reading. "So my dear Holmes, this is what I wished to say. I do not want you to engage in self-recrimination and endless pondering if there was any way you might have prevented this eventuality. You have always been my dearest friend; I would have you know this—I have been proud and happy at your side. Take good care of yourself, I implore you, for my sake, and trust that we shall meet again one day, as I firmly believe. Until then, I remain
John H. Watson."
I was struggling to hold back tears as I laid the letter aside...and then, for the first time in my adult life, I gave in (no one else was here to observe my lapse in control, in any event) and wept. My heart felt lighter for the first time in weeks...and I thought I could actually countenance living and waiting patiently until Watson and I would meet again.
P.S. This is the poem from which the title is drawn:
Crossing the Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
(Alfred, Lord Tennyson)