Disclaimer: Still not a man, cocaine addict, genius of crime solving or aforementioned genius' sidekick- and I still don't own Sherlock Holmes. Darn.

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Watson knocked on the bedroom door. "Can I bring you some tea, Holmes?"

"No!" came the disgruntled reply.

"Can I come in?"


Watson sighed. There had been no cases for three weeks. Three weeks of long dreary days and even longer drearier winter evenings. That meant three weeks of Holmes suffering from excessive boredom and three weeks of his long nervous fingers jabbing the syringe into his left arm and pushing down the piston with an audible sigh of relief. Then he would sink down into his armchair and his eyes would peer round the room with a sort of vacant clarity- almost as if Holmes could see things in the room that Watson couldn't. Demons.

Watson shook his head and came away from Holmes' door.

"I'm going out, Holmes. I'll be back for supper," he shouted at the closed door. "Not that you care," he muttered to himself as he collected his frock coat, stick and hat from the hallstand.

Watson walked briskly down Baker Street, shivering involuntarily as he fought against the biting January wind. He felt guilty. Holmes was addicted to cocaine. That was Watson's medical opinion. Holmes passed the empty hours waiting for his next fix; his eyes were constantly wandering to the mantelpiece where lay the delicate morocco case containing his syringe. And what had Watson done about his addiction? Confronted him. Lectured him on the health problems caused by cocaine.

Holmes spent more time in his room now. In fact he rarely left his room, fixedly ignoring whatever enticement Watson offered to get him to leave it.

As he walked Watson found himself praying for a murder: a near-unsolvable, brutal and bloody murder of somebody prominent in society. The murder of an aristocrat or a politician with lots of enemies. A murder with no clues. That would be enough to keep Holmes mind occupied for a while. Anything to keep Holmes from the cocaine.

Watson turned left at the end of Baker Street. He quickened his pace in an attempt to keep warm. Carriages clattered past him, their horse's heads bowed against the bone-chilling wind while the coachmen's whips cracked as they urged the poor beasts on. Somewhere near-by a dog barked.

It started to rain. Watson angled his bowler hat in a vain attempt to avoid the icy rain. This was ridiculous. He would not be driven out of his home because Holmes' brooding in his bedroom, and in the sitting room when he ventured out, was making him uncomfortable. If Holmes wanted to poison his body and mind then it was his right to do so. Watson told himself this was true while secretly disagreeing. He cared for Holmes a little too much and would not give into him on the subject of cocaine.

Watson turned back the way he had come, to Baker Street.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Watson opened the door. Silence. "Holmes!" he called out tentatively. More silence.

Then suddenly Holmes' tall gaunt form appeared in the hallway as if he had sprung out of the carpet. Watson jumped at the shock. "My dear Watson, you are absolutely drenched. Let me help you off with your coat."

Watson let Holmes help him with his coat and then he allowed himself to be lead through to the sitting room and positioned in front of the fire. The flames danced and cackled bathing the room in warm light.

"I owe you many apologies, Watson. I have been quite unmanageable over these past weeks."

Watson nodded. "You have," he agreed.

"I trust I am forgiven?"

"You always are," replied Watson.

Holmes laughed and patted Watson's arm. Then his laughter abruptly stopped and Holmes leaned forward to murmur conspiratorially. "It's the drug, you know?"

"I know: I was going to hide your hypodermic syringe." Watson gave Holmes a crooked smile but Holmes' face was stern.

"I would have found it," he said, before leaving the room.

Watson stared into the merry flames of the fire. What could have brought about this change of mood in Holmes? This sudden lightness of character and eagerness to talk. Holmes bustled back into the room with a tea tray. Watson could contain his curiosity no longer.

"What has brought about this change, Holmes?" he asked.

Holmes put the tea tray down and smiled grimly at him. His dark eyes were shining. "I thought, my dear fellow, that you would know the answer to that. There has been a murder in your absence," Holmes paused for dramatic effect.

"The shooting of an aristocratic politician with lots of enemies. It is a particularly bloody and brutal killing, even if I say so myself."