Just one of those whimsical little instances by sterling snow

An actor and a second chance.

(Jeremy Brett)

He sees himself falling; even more pressing he sees the armrest of a wicker couch about to collide with his face. He has seconds to right himself; he clicks a button on his wristwatch and the familiar feeling of going back and then forward makes his insides feel like they're doing the oscillation tango. Throughout those curious sensations he manages to get himself into sitting position and…..POP! He is now sitting rather demurely on the same sofa that could of seriously messed up his day and he looks around at a crowd of people who are gob smacked, dropping booms, pipes, hair brushes and all sorts. He shifts his focus from the proceedings off stage to clap eyes with the man who is wearing a black suit and a look of bemused irritation. "Sorry to drop in like this but I was wondering if I could borrow Mr. Brett for a moment." He says right to the man's face, but really is asking it to the air. He didn't travel through time just to hear a no. He knows his employers will most likely kill him, or at the very least dock his pay for a few weeks, being that he's about to meddle in some one's timeline but he shrugs and continues on. As he is not stopped he grabs Mr. Brett's hand, and puts them into his own time. They're somewhere safe; a bar he knows hasn't changed its interior since the mid seventies. He's had the unfortunate experience of shuffling somebody into his time and them completely lose it even though they're just from a few decades before. Ever since then he's brought most to this bar, It doesn't hurt that they make an alright screwdriver either.

In his time, Mr. Brett's file is quite sparse of information; he wonders if, assuming a successful conclusion of his mission it will be larger. For instance he has no clue as to Mr. Brett's favourite drink. He sits the blanched actor down and shoves a bowl of peanuts in his direction and suggests to the unfortunate man to eat as the salt will make him a little less time woozy. He orders both of them a screwdriver and joins the actor at their table.

"Mr. Brett, I am a man of little importance, the only thing of import that you need to know is I truly have your best interest at heart." He says his usual pitch, but this time it actually sounds genuine. Mr. Brett's grey eyes narrow, he knows the questions the man will ask but he holds up his hand and presses through his speech, " I came to you because I feel as your are a special sort, in my time, um…this one we're in now; you are only known by a few people who occupy a niche." He struggles as to what to say, this never happens to him.

"I won't bore you with details; my lot has pamphlets for that." As he says it he takes one from his pocket and hands it to Mr. Brett. "Read it latter, we don't have much time. In this time you, to put it not so lightly, are no longer with us. Sorry to be so blunt, but that's the way of things, you where bound to find out through our little talk anyway. And I'm not the beating around the bush type either. My mission, which was a personal one and wasn't sanctioned by my employers, is to talk with you about it. You see Mr. Brett you are not a fixed point in time as others are, as such there is a bit of wiggle room on how the rest of your life plays out from now on. I've only grabbed you twenty years ago, to put things in perspective." There is a pause as he sips his drink and let's the info sink in. the other man's thin lips curve into a frown as he follows his lead. This is the first time that Mr. Brett talks to him, "Dear sir, if you continue in this vain, I'm afraid a mere screwdriver simply will not do."

Fluctuating tones greet his ear, deep and yet precise. He laughs at the nonchalant manner in which his talk has been received. Usually it's fists coming at him, or a knife on one occasion. He motions to the barkeep and orders another round for them; aged scotch this time, neat. He figured a buzz would do them both good, but not enough that they couldn't get back, after all there are laws about time traveling while drunk.

"I know you, like Holmes, do not take exercise for its own sake, but you must. Actually in your case the usual doctor axioms fit quite well. Eat properly, exercise enough, and for the love of god stop smoking sixty cigarettes a day! A few is fine, but there is a limit which the human body can take, sheesh." He bandies around the tougher part of his spiel. The elephant dancing in the room, actually in Mr. Brett's timeline, he is most likely unaware of it. "Also…."

A long silence occurs, the only sound coming from their table is the unmistakable slurp of a nervous man finishing his drink, you could hear the longing to order another within the splashes of the amber liquid. "Also what? You said our time was limited and I have a shoot that I need to get back to." Mr. Brett says as he purses his eyelids together, giving him more of a hawk like appearance then ever.

"Excuse me." He rasps out, he is a seasoned drinker but he's never finished a scotch this fast. He holds his glass up, orders another and waits till it arrives to begin again. "Don't worry about your shoot, you haven't missed it. I'm just a bit apprehensive about what I must tell you next. It concerns your mental health more then your physical. Have you had unexplained dramatic changes of mood?" the actor nods slowly, looking a bit frightened of the man. The first time since this bizarre exchange.

" I'm sorry to tell you this but you have something called bipolar disorder. It's a severe form of depression, marked with episodes of mania, anger and violent mood swings. Unfortunately this and your weak heart will be the unraveling of you. Hence my more than strong suggestions, nay, order really that you take better care of yourself! I didn't travel two decades to have you wasting away on me."

Mr. Brett looks down at the dregs of his scotch dejectedly. He gets the feeling like the actor already knows that there is something pointedly different about him. He puts his hand on top of Mr. Brett's and just holds it there. He makes eye contact with the barkeep and orders another round for them with his stair.

"Listen, I know that it's a bit of a shocker but you can get through it." He knows things aren't as elegant when it comes to the mind, god knows he has enough scars on his body to prove that. How else do you deal with something incurable? He removes his hand and creases his forehead, attempting to find something funny to say before one of them starts sniveling.

"Well, uh, how do you feel?" he asks Mr. Brett, smacking himself internally for such a obvious query. The actor looks up at him and he's surprised by the fact that he's smiling. "You know, I feel strangely relieved I must say. But what action can be taken against it? I assume that there are medications for it?"

Unfortunately he is no doctor. He knows that Mr. Brett starts to take lithium and that is what causes his weight gain through water retention and stress on his heart. He tells the man this and offers his condolences that he doesn't have any answers for him. He points back to the idea of exercise as a way to remove stress, not only physical but mental as well.

"I suppose in the grand scheme of things, a bit of a run will not kill me." Mr. Brett sighs out and lets out a rich laugh which he is overjoyed to hear. He reaches over and gives Mr. Brett's arm a hearty squeeze. "Thank you! This is turning out to be far more pleasant then I thought it would. You know, I don't usually let anybody out of this bar, freak outs and all, but I was wondering if you wanted to grab some pasta. We really need to sober up before we get you back."

The actor agrees and they are on their way, he didn't even warn him about the change of things, computers, cell phones and the like, but Mr. Brett takes it in stride and even admits he's never paid much heed to technology anyway though he salivates at the idea of an mp3 player. They stop at a doorway that reeks of garlic, they're here.

They both casually stumble in and take a seat next to the window, as a waitress brings them a menu. The waitress does a double take at Mr. Brett, shakes her head and shrugs her shoulders as she walks away. Both of them blush and sink lower in their respective chairs. "Uh, maybe you should let me order, I don't like our chances of anonymity with that one. And, uh, maybe you could see if you could do a different voice. Should be a piece of piss for you being the A word after all. I just really don't want a scene." He could see the headlines now, "waitress spots long dead actor, tells all". What a nightmare, and he'd be sacked for sure.

The waitress comes back as he orders both of them a small Cesar and just a simple plate of spaghetti bolognese. He figured that would be a safe bet for the actor, who doesn't love that stuff anyway? Though he cautioned Mr. Brett about talking, turns out he doesn't need to as the other man say's very little during the meal. Instead his eyes are glued to the activities outside. People come and go as they quietly enjoy their meal. He giggles to himself as the actor slurps his spaghetti like a child, a few stands hitting him in the nose and in the eye. Now it's his turn to laugh, as he relaxes into the idea that maybe Mr. Brett is a man after all. They open up and start to have a casual conversation about a variety of subjects ranging from Vivaldi, which they agree is the best composer ever. And Sherlock; of course. He notices that the actor takes his advice, as a smooth American accent slips out of his mouth. He has few friends outside of his strange profession, and he realizes that he and Mr. Brett could become fast friends, becoming more melancholic as the food on their plates become smaller. Soon, unfortunately, they finish leaving a lingering piece of parsley on the plate.

He pays the cheque and they exit the restaurant. He whips out a cigarette case and offers one to the actor and taps his nose saying that he should only really smoke after meals. He takes one for himself and lights them up. After all those drinks and food, it feels great inhaling the nicotine fog. They smoke in silence as the hustle and bustle pass them by, occasionally garnering a few sideways glances at the taller of the two.

He grabs the man's hand, the restfulness of their meal melting away as the risk of discovery becomes fore front in his mind again. They enter into a dark alley, the only inhabitant being a rather pissed off calico. He takes out a small breathalyzer from his pocket and breathes into it, the LED screen reads at below the legal limit, thank god for pasta! He puts a small cup on the mouthpiece and tells the actor to open his mouth and blow. The reading comes up good for him as well. He sighs as he grabs Mr. Brett again and touches a button on his watch.

They're back at the studio, only a minute after they left, not even enough time for the rest of the cast and crew to freak out. Smooth sailing really, he thinks. However before everybody gets their wits about them he hugs the actor, tells him to take care of himself and bows gracefully to the room and disappears. He hopes this visit does the trick and he can see Mr. Brett alive in his own time.

The first thing he does when he clicks home is going to his computer to check on Mr. Brett's Wikipedia page. The first thing he notices is that there is no dash next to his birth date. With a puff of relief he scrolls down to check on what the now 81 year old veteran of stage and screen had been up to since he last seen him a minute or twenty years ago whichever, depending on your concept of time. One snag occurs to him, he wants to get in touch with Mr. Brett, but the actor doesn't know his name, nor does he know if he would get an e-mail from his assistant assuming that he has one. "Hi, I'm the time traveler that extended your life," doesn't look too convincing on a header.

He beat his brain for a means of communication, deciding on an urgent envelope and a good old fashioned letter. He writes out something like this:

Dear Mr. Brett,

Do you remember twenty years ago, a fella that literally fell into one of your Sherlock shoots? Well that was me; it was only a few moments for me that we where having drinks, slurping pasta and having an intellectual tussle about classical music. I am so glad that you decided to be good to yourself! I knew you had it in you, you just needed a bit of a nudge, and a touch of the miraculous probably didn't hurt either? Lol! (Do you use lol?)

Anyway, I was just wondering if you wanted to meet up and tell me about what you've been up to.

He puts his signature upon it, folds the note and goes to put it in the post. Now all he has to do is wait and hope that his letter reaches the right channels. He spends weeks vacillating between nervous anticipation and sanguine calm at a job well done. He doesn't really need to know what Brett has been up to, the internet is awash with his doings, films, television, theater, and award shows have him heavily featured.

It had been a month since he wrote to the actor and got a glowing note sent to him from the man himself in the form of an invitation to join him at the actor's estate for as long as he wished. A great extended holiday with Mr. Brett is an idea that is too good to be true to him, he writes back immediately.

A few days later he finds himself on the doorstep of a lovely English cottage, ringing the door, he waits to be admitted. He is greeted by the man himself, looking rather dashing and fit given his age. Mr. Brett takes him by the shoulder and ushers him inside. He looks about expecting a trophy case to be the first thing he would alight on, but he just saw paintings, family photos, and ephemera from the actors' career. Mr. Brett takes him into the sitting room that is lined with books; there he sees an occasional glit of gold and silver, he laughs when he realizes that the actor has been using his accolades as book ends. A BAFTA holding up Melville; an Oscar, the entire works Shakespeare, the poor devil leaning under the weight.

"Well, as you can see I took you up on your word and have done fairly well for myself. However after Holmes, I resolved not to do anymore period pieces, casting my mind forever in the present or future. At least professionally. It's opened up a wealth of roles that I had not thought myself possible, even science fiction, it's been wonderful!" Mr. Brett tells him straight away leading them into the kitchen for tea.

As the kettle steamed and strained to whistle, both men fell into the easy rapport that they had that night during a pasta dinner not so long ago. He, himself had little to tell, as it had only been a few months since he had last been in Mr. Brett's company, and what little he had to tell, he had to obscure bits of it for professional reasons. However a conversation about Oscar Wilde and whether the actor preferred playing Dorian over Basil, kept them at it till their tea had gone cold.

For days they held each others company doing all sorts, reading casually around the house, cooking, even going horseback riding which he had no knowledge of and had to be instructed by Mr. Brett.

It was quiet idyllic till one evening he was in bed asleep and suddenly felt a presents in his room, he immediately feigned slumber. Then he felt the pressure of another body on his bed. He knew of the actor's proclivities with other men and felt that a dalliance of that sort was about to occur. For a moment they went on like this when he heard a sigh coming from the other man and the tinkle of his watch being removed from the side table and a loud click. The pressure as well as Mr. Brett was gone.

"Shit!" he said as he was instantly brought into wakefulness. He had no way to know what happened to the other man, unless…. "Oh my god!", he'd have to go to his employers, each of their time pieces held a tracking device so you could recover one that was mislaid. But he felt nauseous about what they would do to them about the fact that a civilian had gotten a hold of one and was now on a mad gallivant through time.

He dressed quickly and was out the door in a flash, luckily he grabbed a cab instantly and was whisked with all hast to his office. He hoped no one was in, but that was unlikely as any business dealing with time is more then a twenty four hour job. When he got there he was accosted by his boss on the start. They knew all, his watch was shown missing on their central control. All the way there he was being continually admonished by his employer. He begged to go recover Mr. Brett as soon as possible, God only knew what could be happening to him dinosaurs, a Hun raid, Europe during the plague? And heaven knows what. He'd deal with the repercussions latter. He told his boss as much, and they begrudgingly agreed.

He was fitted with a watch and told good luck. Followed by a very stern glare emanating from his employer, as he snapped away. Due to his boss's negative reaction and the unknown time where he would arrive he did nothing to get ready to land, so when he did it he was nose down looking blearily onto some rather familiar gauche carpeting. It took a bit to accept his surroundings, this being one of those moments when you have to groan at your circumstances. He got up slowly and painfully to his feet, he then felt a hand grasp his shoulder and retch it back into the shadows. He realized with some amazement that it was Mr. Brett pulling him back. He was about to go into a wild tirade about his worry and possible employment (or lack there of after this debacle) when he was silenced not only from the older man, but also himself at the sudden knowledge that he had been in this theatre before hence his familiarity with the ground cover. In fact he knew that he was already here, as in two of them, as in a massive physics nightmare! He could not let his other self see him, it simply was not done, that was one of the biggest rules of his agency, and he really didn't need any more trouble. He took a look at the stage and saw a younger Brett with a mustache as Watson following Charlton Heston as Holmes in the Crucible of Blood.

The first time he saw it he was in awe of Mr. Brett's portrayal. He could have easily played both simultaneously during his run with Granada, he was that good. However this was no time to reminisce, he grabbed His Brett and was about to disappear when the flood lights came up and the applause from the audience disoriented him. As the cast started with their bows Mr. Brett came on stage and got some of the loudest applause of all the cast, he knew himself had clapped like a mad fool for almost an indecent amount of time. He nearly was lost till he shook himself well out of it and popped them back to their own time.

They were both in Mr. Brett's sitting room in an instant, and he was about to lay into the other man of what his folly had cost him, when he looked up at him and saw tears coming down his aquiline face. His grey eyes gleaming with the moisture, bright enough to be seen, even with the lack of light. His irritated words died in his throat. He went over to his friend and sat him down on the sofa. He lent his shoulder to be consoled upon, as the mournful man next to him almost babbled to him about how before their meeting and really even after he doubted his importance as an actor as well as man. It broke his heart to think that there was still such darkness in the man he was trying to save from it. He told Mr. Brett as much as they sat for some time like that.

He was awoken by the dazzling light of the sun and a sharp pain at his side and his face being pressed into the armrest. He twisted his head around to look at the sleeping face of the man next to him. They had fallen asleep parallel on the sofa and must have slumped sideways in the night. In sleep Mr. Brett seemed very calm even though his eyelids betrayed his exertion of last night. He tried to extract himself without waking the actor. Then he propped the other man and went to the kitchen to make them breakfast and tea. Today they may have hurdles to jump over, but that was life. Though the slumbering man in the other room may still hold pain he would be with him to weather the storms. Sometimes an extraordinary man needs an extraordinary friend.