Title: Resolutions (5/5)
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Chapter V: Resolutions
Throughout the short ride back to Lestrade's apartment, Holmes sat silent and tense in the passenger seat of the cruiser. Whatever the fit of Victorian temperament was that Jack Rizzo's vile behavior had aroused in him, he was clearly having trouble shutting it down again, and such a failure to master himself had to irritate him to no end.
Lestrade was thoroughly intrigued.
Holmes had referred to her as a lady. A lady… practically with a capital L. It was the first time he had said it without some hint of sarcasm or cynicism. Perhaps seeing her in that dress really had triggered some inbred response in him, after all. Had she been in uniform, it was certain he would never have thrown that punch at Rizzo; he simply would have let her take care of herself. It took respect to do that—but it took an entirely different kind of respect to step up and defend a lady's dignity. That Holmes could show regard for her as a woman as well as an Inspector was nothing less than a revelation.
When they arrived at Lestrade's apartment, she went to dig up her first-aid kit, leaving Holmes brooding by the window. Somehow she almost expected to find him gone when she returned to the room, but he was still there, looking out over the city with a cold and impassive demeanor.
"Let's see." Perching a hip on the windowsill, Lestrade set the open first-aid kit on the arm of a chair beside her, and took Holmes' hand in hers. It remained limp in her grasp while she swabbed the cut with antiseptic and applied a daub of dermal adhesive—but she could feel the tension that was still running through him like an electric current.
As she capped the adhesive tube and carelessly dropped it back in the kit, she spoke at last, in a voice that was unintentionally small and quiet. "Thanks for looking out for me."
Holmes uttered a snort that might have been either dismissive or derisive. "Rizzo's behavior was perfectly beastly… even in this day and age. For all the world's social advances, Lestrade, I see that your gender has only lost more respect than it supposes to have gained."
It was a rather remarkable statement, coming from Holmes—and all the more surprising because it touched so closely on Lestrade's own thoughts of earlier. Of course he was right, in a way. People had lamented the loss of chivalry for two hundred years; that was precisely why the era that bred him was so loftily regarded. Women had given up a great deal to be what they were today.
"We've got our compensations," Lestrade replied with a faint smile, absently winding a roll of gauze.
Holmes was critically examining the job Lestrade had done on his hand. "I suppose you're content to think so. Still, in my day…" He paused, his lips assuming a rueful twist. "But then, I should stop using the term. The simple fact is that this is my day now, whatever its flaws—which I suppose are really no less or greater than those of the nineteenth century."
It felt suddenly surreal to be sitting there in the present, still dressed in the clothes of the past, as the clock ticked steadily toward the future on New Year's Eve.
Holmes was gazing out again at the bright lights and ceaseless activity of New London. His reflected face in the windowpane was as pensive as Lestrade had ever seen it… and could it be that what she had just heard in his voice was sadness? Perhaps it was her imagination—or perhaps there was all too much truth in the uneasy thoughts that left her lying awake so often.
For Lestrade, there were emotional consequences to Holmes' very life; her pride compelled her to keep them from him, but she had never denied them to herself. They went far beyond those occasional disillusioning conflicts with her childhood fantasies.
It was because of her that Holmes existed in the here and now—in a world which was, for all intents and purposes, alien to him. From the beginning he had astonished her with his quick study and his adeptness at coping with his environment… but there was always that shadow of the past in him. To preserve it in his nature was ultimately his own choice, and in that bewildering crossroads of time, Lestrade suddenly felt the weight of the question that haunted her on her worst nights.
"Holmes, do you ever… regret… being brought back?"
He turned from the window to give her a sharp, dubious frown.
"Only in moments of intense boredom," he replied with grim flippancy. "Fortunately, my association with you tends to make those extremely rare. Now whatever would make you ask such a question?"
Lestrade lowered her eyes and shrugged, uncertain how to put such vague doubts and fears into words. "I guess, sometimes… you just seem to miss the past so much."
To her surprise, he chuckled softly. "My dear Lestrade, I happen to be very old and set in my ways. Never take that as a lack of appreciation for my life."
She stared up at Holmes uncomfortably. Between them, his true age was something they both made light of, and that was how he appeared to have intended his remark—but in a moment that felt so out of place in time, it was a strangely jarring reminder.
Perhaps he felt it too, for as he gazed back at her, his expression of wry amusement softened. Abruptly he sat down on the chair beside the window and leaned toward her, hands clasped over his knee, a perfect picture of solemn sincerity.
"I had lived my lifetime, Lestrade. I lived it fully, and reasonably well… if not completely without regrets." Here he paused, giving her a melancholy smile that was like nothing she had ever seen in his face before… and she would have given anything to know what he was thinking.
He was silent for a moment, then continued, in a soft, thoughtful voice.
"But that lifetime ended, in the natural way of things. You should know better than anyone that you didn't steal me away from my life. It was from death itself that you took me—and that I could not possibly regret. Perhaps sometimes I do miss the way of life I knew, but I respect that the world changes… even if I choose not to."
With that conclusion, he smiled gently at her, but she could only continue to stare at him. There had been a lightness in his words that completely belied the emotion beneath them, but she could feel it, and she knew that for the first time, he had given her a true glimpse of the heart that motivated his phenomenal mind. It was the closest he would ever come to saying thank you.
In Holmes' first life, it had taken twenty years for John H. Watson to earn the same privilege.
And just what in the infinite vaccuum of space am I supposed to say to that?
Abruptly Holmes stood and turned back to the window, folding his hands behind his back. His voice took on a tone of humor once again. "And now, Lestrade, you can put out of your mind any other questions you may have about me. I've a very strict rule. I only bare my soul once in each lifetime."
The gentle tease acknowledged and dismissed the extraordinary intimacy of that moment all at once, firmly setting them back on the safe, familiar territory of mutual exasperation and cynical retorts.
Lestrade smiled, swallowing back the lump she suddenly realized was in her throat. "In that case, I guess I'll just have to kill you, and have Professor Hargreaves bring you back again."
Holmes turned to give her a look of mock alarm. He drew a breath to reply—but before he could speak, the deep and distant chime of Big Ben rang out across the city, tolling midnight. The two detectives exchanged only a glance and a smile before turning to the window, to watch the brilliant splashes of color blossoming in the sky above the Thames.
"Looks like you got your fireworks after all," Lestrade mused softly.
Thoughtfulness lurked within Holmes' sea-blue eyes as he answered, "Indeed I did."
For some time they stood side by side in comfortable silence, watching the explosions of light in the sky. Lestrade glanced briefly at Holmes and smiled, touching the tear in the sleeve of her dress. So maybe some fairytales weren't perfect—but they were real after all, and that was something far better.
Real fairytales didn't need happy endings, because they never ended.
"And what is your New Year's resolution, Lestrade?"
Surprised by the sudden question, Lestrade glanced at Holmes. It was something she had been too busy to give a thought to that year, and she fumbled mentally for a moment.
"Oh… I don't know. I guess maybe the same as last year—to keep a better lid on my temper." She ignored Holmes' quiet chuckle, narrowing her eyes at him. "What's yours?"
A faint smile played across Holmes' lips, and he folded his arms, turning to watch the fireworks once more.
"If I should gather the courage to make good on my resolution, my dear Lestrade… you will most assuredly be the first to know."
© 2003 Jordanna Morgan