Going Without Him
- Holmes -
I have been living alone now for three weeks and two days. Watson is a married man, living with his wife. The room above is empty.
I stood beside him during the ceremony, smiling – or at least doing a good approximation thereof. I held on to my composure when he removed the last of his belongings from these rooms. I even nodded agreement when he invited me over to his new home for dinner as soon as he was settled in.
I have not gone. The thought of being a guest in Watson's house, waited on and entertained, is abhorrent.
Even though she took him away from me, I cannot bring myself to feel anything approaching hate for Mary Watson, née Morstan. After all, she is an excellent woman and a credit to her sex. Watson deserves such a woman. He deserves happiness. And I cannot deny that he is happy, happier, perhaps, than he ever was while he lived with me.
Maybe he never really loved me. Maybe he was merely humouring me, letting his admiration for me shape itself into something more without truly feeling it. Maybe it was all an illusion, and I am a fool for grieving its loss. We have not talked about it. We have not talked about a lot of things.
I was alone before I met him. I still have my cases, my music, and my cocaine. I thought it would be enough, that I could easily go back to being solitary and self-sufficient.
Today, I finally admit to myself that it is not, and that I cannot.
I have been sleeping badly. Whatever resting state I manage to achieve is interrupted by dreams of him. Invariably, I dream that he leaves me. Invariably, I awake, his name upon my lips, to find that it is true.
There is no-one here now who reminds me to eat or to rest. No-one to look at me with reproach whenever I open the morocco case holding my syringe. No-one with whom to share my thoughts. No-one for whom to play my Strad. No-one to hold during the night, no-one to wake me with tenderness.
Oh, he will still accompany me upon my cases. That has not changed, nor do I believe it will. But when I am engaged, I am fine. I never had a problem with black fits when my mind was busy, and that has not changed either.
But never have the black fits been as dark and inescapable as they have become during the past weeks. It is as if I have lost some vital support, and without it, my mind begins to lose its resilience. Sometimes, I fear for my sanity. I use the cocaine to stem off the worst of the depression, even though what I truly long for is the soothing lethargy of the morphine. But Watson cured me of that, and I will not undo all his good work. He also warned me of the cocaine, but that I cannot go without. Not while going without him.
He taught me to be a part of a whole. Over the course of the years we lived together, I learned to depend upon his presence. He was there for so long that it has become first habit, then instinct, to turn to him with all my needs. Somehow, without my noticing, a piece of my heart and soul must have become a part of him during that time. And when he left, that part was torn out of me, leaving an aching, bleeding hole.
I can almost pinpoint the location of the wound within my chest. Never before have I realized that the word heartache has some basis in fact. I should have sneered at anyone who suggested such a thing. But if I could cut open my own chest and look at my heart, I wonder what I should see. A bleeding wound? A missing piece? An embedded thorn? In any case, there must be something there. Surely this kind of agony must have an organic cause.
Only three weeks! Wherever shall I be in six months, or in three years? It gets worse instead of better. There is no growing used to this situation. There is only a slow running dry; running dry of tears, and of the stores of strength that he kept filled with his touch and his presence. Soon, I shall be empty. Maybe then the pain will stop at last. How I wish it would stop! How I wish I could run away, sever all ties, try to find myself again!
Curse him! Curse him for doing this to me, for being faithful to his wife, and for being so damned honourable that the thought of sharing himself has never even entered his mind. And curse me for being unable to tell him how I felt when he pronounced his engagement, curse Mary for existing, curse the whole of society for forcing me to remain silent during the ceremony! Curse these empty rooms for being such a mockery of my time with him, curse the morphine for its side-effects, and curse the cocaine for not being morphine! But most of all, curse Watson for making me love him, for destroying my independence, and then taking away his support and reducing me to this.
I cannot go on. I need him to hold me. I need him.
- Watson -
The telegram reaches me just as I am about to sit down to dinner. "Your presence required if convenient [it runs. S.H." I frown. This is even more terse than usual.
My wife divines sender and contents before I even open my mouth, which, in this case, requires no grand deductive abilities. No-one except Sherlock Holmes would send a telegram at this hour. Besides, God knows it has happened often enough to give her an inkling. "I gather you won't be finishing your meal, then, dear," she says in that patient and long-suffering tone of voice I have come to know and expect from her.
I grimace apologetically. "Sorry, dear heart. I'll have to go to him at once. It sounds urgent."
She looks at me, and for the first time I detect something akin to resentment in her eyes. "Well, go on, then," she sighs, "but don't expect me to wait up for you."
I rise, moving over to kiss her. "No, no, of course not. For all I know, I might be spending the night in some country inn in the middle of no-where."
She opens her mouth as if to reply something, but decides against it. "Give Mr. Holmes my regards," she says instead, and her voice is so calm and neutral that I cannot help but conclude she is trying to conceal an undertone of insincerity.
Sometimes, I wish she would speak her mind. I should dearly like to reassure her of my love and good intentions, and that I cannot do without her raising the topic first lest I appear to be speaking from a bad conscience.
As I take my hat and stick, I cast my mind over my situation. I have no reason to be proud of myself. I am an adulterer, in thought if not in deed, and a deviant to boot. I was in love with a man when I wed my Mary, had been for years before I met her. If I am honest with myself, I still am. Each time I go back to him, my heart is gladdened with the thought of seeing him again even as it is torn apart with remorse for my unfaithfulness. I have not lain together with Holmes since I married, but that scarcely matters. The wish is there, for both of us, I think, even if neither of us mentions it.
However did I end up in this situation? Was it really only society's constraints that urged me to take this step, as I assured Holmes when I first told him of my engagement? I had been happy with him in our secret, turbulent, fulfilling and trying and wonderful relationship, and yet I fell in love with her almost the moment I saw her. And he did not offer much protest, either, so I, naturally, assumed that his feelings for me did not run as deep as all that after all. He is, and always has been, proudly and loudly unaffected by the softer passions, or so I assumed.
Lately, however, I have not been so certain anymore.
When I reach Baker Street, he contrary to his normal behaviour opens the door to the sitting-room before I have reached the topmost step and pulls me in by my hand. "Thank you for coming, Watson," he says, smiling and positioning me in my old chair. "How very good to see you again. Brandy? Cigar?"
I acquiesce to both from sheer confusion and watch him fuss around with glasses and the coal-scuttle, for I expected him to go in medias res as soon as I crossed the threshold. Sherlock Holmes does not socialise. Whenever he called me before, he invariably had a case with which he needed my help. On the other hand, I should not put it beyond him to send a telegram summoning me to his side just because he was feeling lonely. "It's not a case, then?" I venture.
"Hah!" he laughs. "You're getting better, old boy. No, it's not a case."
He sits down, his duties as host complete, and as the gas-light from above the mantel finally shines upon his face, I ejaculate in shock. "Holmes! My dear fellow, what has happened? You look terrible!"
Indeed, his normally pale face is tinged with grey, his angular cheeks can only be called sunken, and his sharp grey eyes are dull and listless. He has the appearance of a man recovering from a long illness, or still in the grip of one.
"Oh, tut, tut," he says, smiling, which merely emphasizes his protruding cheekbones. "I have been using myself a little too freely, maybe. Business has been slow of late, and you know how much idleness exhausts me. I'll be right as rain as soon as the next client walks through that door." Some of my scepticism must be visible upon my face, for he continues, "Oh, don't look at me like that, Watson. Rather, tell me how life has been for you. We haven't seen each other for ages." He looks me over in his peculiar introspective fashion. "At least Mrs. Watson feeds you adequately. You've gained a little weight. And you've finally managed to find a servant-girl who treats your boots with the respect they deserve, I see."
"Well, you know that we have given Mary Jane notice," I return, worried at this less-than-brilliant deduction, far below his normal level of perspicacity. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that my poor friend may indeed be ill. "Holmes, why am I here? If it's not a case -"
"May a man not invite his only friend over for a glass of brandy and some company?" he interrupts me, wringing his thin hands together in a gesture which, to my trained eyes, speaks of intense mental agitation. "As I said, we haven't seen each other -"
"Holmes," I interrupt him, beginning to see where this is headed. "I have responsibilities, to my wife, to my practise. You knew it would be like this when I married. You knew, and yet you agreed – we both agreed – that it would be for the best, for all of us. You know there are bound to be times when I am unable -"
"I know!" he cries, interrupting me now, his voice shaking with strain. "I told you. I merely thought it has been quite a long time. I m-" He clamps his lips together on the word, staring at me, one hand raised in mid-gesture. His long, elegant fingers are trembling.
I missed you.
The aborted admission and the sight of him in his state of despair rouses all my paradoxically protective instincts, and in a flash, I realize why I am here, and what is wrong; fundamentally, irrevocably wrong. The same flash, like a bolt of lightning, illuminates the landscape of what we will do and where it will lead us if I give in to my impulse now and take his hand in my own. It will solve nothing, accomplish nothing save showing us the enormity of our mistake.
And yet, and yet – how I hunger to feel him again!
His eyes are enormous in his sunken face, boring into mine with a wordless pleading that tears at my very soul. I realize that he is, indeed, ill, and so am I – ill with what the poets have called a "sickness of longing". I have woefully misjudged the depth of his feelings, and of mine. And now, there is no turning back.
We stare at one another for the longest time, neither of us making a move. I know with the visceral certainty that sometimes supersedes all other knowledge that it is I who will have to be firm and strong for both of us now. He is not held by convention. He does not have a wife to come home to.
Neither does he make it easy for me. "John..." he breathes, barely audible, his hand still raised, just the single word, yet it contains more meaning than a whole speech.
How easy it would be to follow his unspoken plea, to come to him and come together with him, spend ourselves and our passions in blissful union, move beyond all constraints and proprieties, just this once, with no-one the wiser! But no. I should not be able to ever raise my head again. I could never do that to my beloved Mary.
I rise, even though it is the hardest thing I have ever done. "I shall go now, Holmes," I say, firmly. "We both know that it is the only way."
His hand drops at last and comes to rest upon his chest. To my startled surprise, his face contorts in a grimace of pain, but a second later, his features are smooth again, and there even is a smile upon his pale lips. "As you wish. I should not presume to keep you from hearth and home for nothing of importance." His voice sounds admirably normal.
A heated reply forms upon my lips, but I swallow it. There is nothing I can say that will not make matters worse. With a smile that feels strange and uneasy upon my face, I walk to the door and through it.
Behind me, there is a strange sound, and I halt. And then, like Lot's wife, I look back.
Sherlock Holmes is sitting in his chair where I have left him, turned to the side and away from the door, knees drawn up to his chest, face buried in his tattered old rug, utterly still. But not silent. Once more, an almost muffled keening reaches my ears, and this time, it pierces my heart.
It would take a stronger man than me to turn my back on him now. With four steps, I am by his side, then he is in my arms, his hands fist themselves into my coat and his face finds its familiar place buried against my neck; my arms are around him, and my face is wet within seconds. His breath and tears are warm against my skin, soaking through my collar even as mine turn his soft hair into glistening wet strands.
"I can't," he sobs, "damn you, John, I can't go back, can't even breathe, can't think, it's all ruined, can't go on with or without you, oh God it hurts so much..."
I try to soothe him, but he is out of control, and it is all I can do to hold him while a pain more intense than any I have ever seen him endure ravages him, and finally I see no recourse but to lift his head away from my neck and kiss him.
He moans like a creature in agony as he kisses me back, and just as I decide to hell with good intentions, he suddenly thrusts me away from him with all the strength in his lean body.
I land upon my backside, winded, dishevelled, face wet with tears, looking up at him.
"Go!" he forces out. "I can't do this. It hurts too much. Go."
I go, and this time, when I hear that sound again, I do not look back.
- Holmes -
I watch Moriarty plunge into the churning depths, his arms flailing ineffectually before the white mist swallows him as if he had never existed, and I surprise myself by feeling a surge of regret. He was a worthy opponent. In a way, it was he who kept me sane during these three years - he and the cocaine. Whenever I had no investigation to distract me, battling him and his organisation forced me to focus upon something other than the bleeding mass of pain inside my chest. I spent my days sleuthing after Moriarty, and my nights plotting against him. I allowed nothing else to enter my thoughts. Most of the time, it worked.
Now, I have lost that, too. Ironic how the ultimate confrontation between us was reduced to this primitive matching of animal strength and fighting prowess, something at which he had no hope of besting me. True, he had the strength of desperation to make up for his less than adequate fitness and the ravages of age, and I was hampered by the fact that I had nothing to fight for save my bare existence. But in the end, it would have been too damnably embarrassing to be considered defeated by this elderly professor in hand-to-hand combat when Watson publishes this case.
I look up. There's an idea.
Merely thinking his name has re-opened the barely scabbed-over wound that each sight of him renews. Still, I exposed myself to it as often as I could, for staying away from him proved even more intolerable. I have wished him into the deepest pits of hell for condemning me to this half-life again and again, yet I could not simply sever all ties with him, for he is embedded in my being.
There are no words for the agonies I suffered. It is only fair that he should now suffer the same.
I take every precaution so that no-one shall see my footprints leaving this dead end, and then I move south, picking up speed after the first few hundred yards until I am full out running. And it is certainly only the cool spring air that makes my eyes water.
Released from my obsession with Moriarty, and in the thrall of purely physical exertion, my mind begins to wander randomly. I only expend such attention as is needed for putting my feet upon the path and keeping my bearing while three year's worth of suppressed thoughts and feelings inundate me.
I am just in the process of lighting the candle upon the mantel when Watson enters the sitting-room, smiling as happily as I have ever seen him. "I am engaged to be married," he cries as if it were the most wonderful thing. I feel a sharp pain in my chest - the herald of what is to become my constant companion for three years - and, without a word, I turn to the candle and blow it out, and then I leave the sitting-room and Watson standing there. He will have to tell the details of his good news to an empty room.
For weeks, until Moriarty finally made his entry, this scene has repeated endlessly in my mind. I would berate myself for just walking away, for not speaking up, for instead closing down all communication. True, I was in pain, and flight is an understandable response to injury. But surely, I should have been able to rise above that. If I had fought for him, I might have succeeded in keeping him. There were many things I could have done. I could have approached Miss Morstan. I could have gone so far as to employ Mycroft's aid. Instead, I saw Watson happy with her, and I did nothing.
Eventually, it was too late.
I realize that my lungs cannot keep up with my body's demands for oxygen any longer, and I am forced to slow my mad dash down to a trot.
Only once, while in the grip of the darkest bout of depression I can remember, did I light that candle again. Of course, the flat was bereft of Watson, so there was no-one to see the flickering flame. But I was desperate for him, for the sense of belonging I had found no-where else, not even in the cocaine's embrace, and for the bliss of knowing him in the biblical sense.
With his touch, he has the power to make me stop thinking, to silence the constant chains of deductive reasoning that the slightest observation triggers, to allow me simply to be. And what pleasures he was capable of giving me, sensual heights I never thought it possible to feel! With him, I felt cherished, cared for. I gladly abandoned myself to him, and I felt safe in doing so.
Without him, I was lost.
With no mystery to occupy it, the constantly racing engine that passes for my mind slowly started to tear itself apart. Cocaine, even though I used it heavily, brought nothing but temporary reprieve, followed by an even steeper decline into despair.
On that night, I felt Watson's absence so keenly that I evoked his presence by lighting our candle, and then I crept into my bed, pretending to wait for him. When he of course did not come to me, I seriously considered turning back to the morphine while wishing the most horrible fate upon him and poor Mary Watson, who does not deserve an ill thought.
It was then that I realized I was in danger of losing my mind. In that sense, Moriarty's appearance was a godsend.
The path I have followed, hardly more than a goat track, begins to descend into the next valley. Darkness is falling. I have no idea how far I have run. My feet hurt in the manner that means blisters; the muscles in my legs are trembling. I need rest, but it is to soon for that.
I shall avoid the villages and hamlets until I have crossed the border into Italy. Even if Watson should choose this day to suddenly acquire the faculty to deduce my true fate, he will certainly not seek me beyond the Alps. Once in Italy, I can rejoin civilisation. I can live by my skills upon the violin, and brother Mycroft will provide the means of obtaining one.
Now, it is Watson's turn to do without me. He must not know that I am even alive. Let him think I perished in that chasm! I was forced to go without him for three years. In three year's time, I shall, maybe, consider coming back to him. He at least still has his wife. I had no-one. I have no-one.
I need to cut him out of me if I am to continue any sort of meaningful existence. Maybe distance will accomplish what time could not.
I shall keep moving until I am finally free of him, and then I shall never love again.
- Watson -
I have just returned from 221B Baker Street.
I never expected to be able to write those words again, and I am amazed and pained now that I see them on paper in front of me. I have avoided that address to the best of my abilities. But today I not only drove along the street, I even entered my old flat.
His old flat.
It was even more painful than I expected to see his rooms, kept meticulously in the exact same state in which they were when he left them, never to return. Except for a little airing and dusting, Mrs. Hudson has not changed a thing. It is like a mausoleum; a monument to honour the greatest detective who has ever lived.
I could not help being reminded of a fly preserved in amber, except that I could only see the amber.
Mycroft was there. I had not expected to ever see him again either, but there he was, unaffected, to all appearances, by his brother's demise; if anything, a little irked at being forced out of his routine, even though he had been the one who had invited me there.
He told me, in a voice that was as flat as any I had ever heard, that I was allowed to remove one object to keep as a memento.
I have always been in awe of Mycroft Holmes. I may even have harboured some sort of affection for Sherlock's brother, if only for being the only living relative, as far as I know, of the man I -
Damn it all. I still can't write it, not even after all the weeks that have followed since Reichenbach.
In any case, I felt a sudden intense urge to strike him, for what reason I know not - maybe for being so infuriatingly calm and unruffled by the loss of his sibling while my whole world lies in ruins, maybe for ordering me there like Sherlock used to do (but he at least had the right, a right Mycroft never earned) - yet I forced myself to calm, and I chose the violin.
Of all the clutter that Sherlock has surrounded himself with, now abandoned in their curious amber/mausoleum state, the instrument looked, to me, the most forlorn. So I took it home with me. It now lies in front of me as I am writing this, looking no less forlorn; as forlorn as I myself am feeling.
Oh God. Will this pain never cease?
That violin meant so much to him. It was his voice with which to express the things he could not put in words. It has cried for him, laughed for him, wailed out his rage and despair, and his joy and triumph. It was with its help that he declared his love for me, and with it, he invited me into his bed.
Now it lies mute, never to be played again by its owner.
Damn it all. I am crying again.
I have heard somewhere that musical instruments that are not played for too long lose their soul. The thought obsesses me. My beloved friend has lost his soul. I shall do my utmost to prevent this happening to his precious violin.
I gently take it in my hands and pluck at one string.
The single note is almost my undoing. In an instant, I am surrounded by him. I can almost smell him, and I am certain that if I reach out, I shall be able to touch him.
I keep my eyes closed. Tears streaming down my face, I pluck at another string.
This, surely, is how it feels to lose one's mind.
The wound is not healed; it is as fresh as it was that fateful day in Switzerland, has not even stopped bleeding. I merely was numb to its pain, an agony that now consumes me.
I cradle the violin to me, whispering his name while the pain rolls on and on.
Oh God. Whatever shall I do?
- Holmes -
My business with the Dalai Lama complete, I am, after almost two and a half years of working as Her Majesty's agent, finally free to spend my time in whatever fashion I desire - or even to determine what this fashion might be. With his not entirely unexpected requisition of my services as soon as I contacted him, Mycroft has actually done me a favour and given a new purpose to my existence, something I shall now have to find on my own.
Without a task to occupy me, I anticipate some small mental difficulty to assail me. I have tried to immerse myself fully in externa, which, coupled with my superior power of observation, leads me to quickly exhaust the unfamiliarity of my surroundings. Soon, I shall have to leave Lhasa and travel on.
The entire journey, from Italy and going steadily east, has been happily full of new impressions to distract my mind from my inner universe. The sheer novelty of being in parts of the world where my prior experience, steeped as it is in Western European culture, is of no use to me, has kept my mental processes from turning inwards. It is at once liberating and frightening to look upon a man and have no idea where he comes from, what he does for a living, or even what manner of man he is, and this part of the continent is full of them.
The fascination of the landscape has also added its share to my efforts of distracting me from myself. Deserts, high mountain plains, spectacular vistas of all sorts keep me enthralled. It is not surprising that this exotic land should breed a hardy, serene people, inscrutable even to my powers of observation, but admirable nonetheless.
But it is not my days about which I am worried.
After these many months that have passed since Reichenbach, I am beginning to suspect that nothing, neither time nor distance, will be able to cure me of Watson. I may be able to cover his bedrock that permeates my being with the topsoil of the day-to-day happenings, but as soon as the surface is scratched, he is there. Even in this alien land, now and then a smell, the sound of a voice, or some other small thing will, akin to some archaeologist's tool, dig into the covering layer, expose the underlying strata of Watson and remind me of what I have lost.
And in the night, as soon as I close my eyes, the pain returns undiminished.
I need a new purpose, something to concentrate upon. After all, seabeds have risen to become mountains that are then eroded by winds and turned into seabeds again. Surely, I can, with sufficient concentration, erode Watson and bury him in the recesses of my memory until only a systematic excavation can uncover him?
Such has been my reasoning, and the cause for my flight. For if I am honest with myself, and apart from Mycroft's mission, which was, to me, a means to an end, there is nothing else I can realistically call it. But I am beginning to feel like a dog with a bell tied to its tail that cannot outrun the clamour, no matter how hard it tries.
Lost in thought, I am wandering through the narrow alleyways of Lhasa, trusting my instincts to warn me of any mischief. And indeed, suddenly I notice that I am being watched. Turning around, I behold a Tibetan, a monk from his red robes, smiling at me as if at a newfound brother.
He greets me in Tibetan, but I am, even after some weeks of staying here, not fluent enough for conversation, and I proceed to tell him so in one of the few correct sentences in the language that I know.
"Beg pardon, beg pardon," he cries, in heavily accented but quite understandable English. "Wanderer. I know. Lost. Look for way home."
I frown, wondering what might have given him that idea. Amidst the masses of humanity milling to and fro, it seems extraordinary that he should have discerned my rambling for being aimless, unless he has watched me closely for at least an hour, which I am certain he has not. "I assure you that I know my way precisely," I reply, trying to be as off-putting as I can without being impolite. I have no desire for company.
His smile grows wider, causing hundreds of small wrinkles to appear on his face, and I realize that he is a good deal older than he at first appeared. "Know way in town, yes. I know. But lost in here." He raises his hand to touch his head.
I opt to view this as a cultural misunderstanding rather than as him implying that I am soft in the head. "What do you mean?" I ask, in spite of myself, for I am not in the mood for conversation.
"No good explain here," he says. "No man talk easy close to many people. I invite you. Talk. Find way again. I help."
"I do not need your help," I reply coldly. I assume it is easy enough to get one's hands on monk's robes, and this is most likely an attempt to lure me to a band of confederates in order to rob the rich Westerner. They cannot know that I am not carrying any money worth robbing, but then again, probably my stout hiking boots alone are worth a fortune here.
He looks at me, still smiling, but I sense that I am being assessed as thoroughly as I have ever done my own assessments. "Hurt soul, strike out quick at hand that help. I know. No fear. You come, we talk, I help. You go home. You heal."
I hesitate. He sounds wise and discerning, and his words are amazingly upon the mark, but this could be the same sort of bluff based on general impressions I myself have employed so often. Then again, it could be real. And even if his words were apt by mere lucky chance, maybe, by the same lucky chance, he is able to tell me what to do?
I can but assume that it is out of desperation that I reply, "Very well. Lead on."
He has led me to the outskirts of Lhasa and beyond. I have taken careful note of the way and of any footprints, but the hard, rocky ground yields none. My suspicion towards him has abated somewhat, but not enough to forego my habitual attention entirely. Finally, we reach a small stone building that looks as old as the surrounding mountains. The interior is just as one might expect; two small, stark rooms, one for eating and living, and one for sleeping; bare walls, no luxuries, nothing to distract the mind; in short, exactly the sort of interior I should never have chosen for my surroundings. A woven mat upon the floor to rest upon, a small stove, a bowl, a jug, some plates and two drinking mugs make up all this man's possessions, whose name, as he told me, is Jangbu.
He waves me in. Following the traditions of the country, I remove my boots at the door, which he rewards with a beaming smile. An elaborate ceremony follows, involving tea, which I accept, and some obscure baked goods, which I decline, until finally we are both seated, cross- legged, opposite each other upon his mat.
The proceedings of hospitality have given me ample time to decide upon my course of action. Now that I have, apparently, agreed to accept his counsel, even though I cannot help but wonder what in Heaven's name might have prompted me to do so, it would certainly make sense to give him the facts. I refuse to believe that even a Tibetan monk receives his insights from some divine source, and any advice he should give me based solely upon that would therefore be suspect. If this exercise is to have any use for me at all, he should practise his skills, whatever they might be, upon a solid factual basis.
"You called me a hurt soul," I begin. "Why?"
"Pain in eyes," he says softly, looking at me intently. "New lines on face." He reaches out a surprisingly smooth hand, his index finger barely brushing my forehead. "Hurt soul, leave mark. I see often. I know."
That, at least, is an explanation I can accept. I have long been aware that the circumstances of a man's life will inevitably leave traces upon his person. Why should the same not be true with his mental state?
"And the fact that I have lost my way?" I ask, aware that I am sounding like Watson often did. How ironic.
"Not lost your way. Lost inside. Not home. Circle, like eagle look for mate."
I inhale sharply, thinking that this might have been a mistake after all. This young-old man sees far too much, and I have never liked being transparent, as Mycroft would attest. There is only one exception, which does not apply here.
He raises his hand in a placating gesture. "No fear, wanderer. I know. I help. Stay, please."
I have not made a move to rise, but apparently he really can read me as easily as I have done my fellow countrymen, and has correctly discerned my impulse. Maybe I do not need to give him any particulars after all.
"What is it you want to tell me?" I ask, at once resigned and hopeful.
Jangbu takes a sip of the strong, sweet tea and looks at me, not saying a word until I have done the same. "Why you here?" he asks finally.
"I had business here."
"Why you here still?"
"I am... looking for something to occupy me," I tell him, resolving to be as truthful as necessary and as vague as possible.
"Drift. I know. Look for way home." He reaches out and touches my chest. "Home for heart."
Again, I experience a moment of alarm. This Jangbu is positively uncanny.
"No fear," he repeats, smiling. "I help. Mind in storm. I bring calm. I teach you. Mind in calm, you see your way. Can go home then."
What harm can it do? I wonder. As it is, my nights are hell. Even during the day and with the aid of all sorts of drugs, my mind is more of an enemy to me now than an asset. I know enough about eastern mysticism and meditation techniques to realize that this may truly be my salvation.
I look at him, trying to echo his smile. "Teach me, then."
- Watson -
I am but half a man. My heart is beating, my lungs are working, and yet I feel as if the spark of life has left me. I function, because others depend upon me. I feel the cold of a windy day or the sun's warmth when the clouds part, but there is no joy or anything else in either.
Sometimes even I, who have been called long-suffering, am beginning to wonder if some malevolent deity has not singled me out to take the brunt of his anger. At other times, I am certain that no god is involved, and that I have brought this fate upon myself by daring to love my Mary, for this was when it all started.
And this is how it ends: In spite of my love, she died. By loving her, I killed Sherlock Holmes.
It is a monstrous thought, but it is the only explanation I see that will fit the facts. I find it unbelievable that he, whose wiry strength I have had occasion to admire on occasions I no longer blush to recall, should be subdued and brought to his death by Moriarty, whom the papers have described as frail and elderly. Indeed, such has been my incredulity that there were times when I was convinced it was all a ruse on Holmes' part, and that, at any moment, he would walk through my door. But I have waited for more than two years, and that vain hope has finally died, as surely as my Mary died.
No, I am now convinced that Holmes truly lies at the bottom of that terrible chasm, and that it was his broken heart - which I broke - that really killed him, not whatever puny efforts Moriarty might have effected. He must have given up, welcomed death even, after what I put him through, and allowed his enemy to bring him to his end, to silence, and to peace.
Oh my dear, dear love. I am more terribly sorry than I ever will have words to say. If I could change places with you, give my life for yours, I would. If I could turn back time, undo the damage I have done, I should gladly pay any price to be able to do so.
But all I can do is live through each day, knowing that Holmes is dead, that my Mary is dead, and that the only thing I can really do is go on and keep both their memory alive. So I write, as I am doing now, I go through the motions of my tasks, I try to interest myself in the affairs of others, and I survive, albeit barely.
Later today, my composure will be put to a severe test, for I shall meet Mycroft Holmes again. It is, apparently, a matter of no great importance upon which he wishes to see me, but I confess I am mildly curious.
The mere fact that I can still feel curiosity is comforting. Maybe, when a few more years have passed, I shall be able to return to a normal life. I must go on believing that.
He still looks as I remember him; a fatter, more lethargic version of his lean and high-strung brother, his grey eyes - so like his brother's! - as untouched by Sherlock's death as before. I cannot bring myself to feel the rage I remember from when I first noticed this apparent unconcern, not anymore. I have enough grief for the whole world. Neither Mycroft nor anyone else is required to add to it.
"Very glad that you have found the time to see me, Doctor," Mycroft says as he lowers his bulk onto one of my consulting-room chairs.
"Not at all," I mutter, intrigued almost despite myself at the fact that he should have altered his routine so far as to come here, to my practice. "I hope I can be of assistance."
He looks at me in silence for a long moment as if searching for the right words, and I wonder if it might be a medical matter upon which he wishes to consult me.
"I perceive that your condition has reached an equilibrium," he finally says, looking more and more uncomfortable. "Much better than when we last met, but not out of the woods yet, if I may say so."
His remarks are personal and more than a little impertinent, but I feel only a tiny spark of anger, and I actually welcome it. "If you say so, Mr. Holmes," I respond flatly.
He grimaces and looks away for a moment in what I read as self-directed exasperation. "Oh, confound it, Doctor," he says with an upsurge of energy, "I am aware that I am making a hopeless mess of it, but do try to bear with me. The last conversation of this sort I was involved in took place more than thirty years ago, and I am woefully out of practice."
"The last conversation of what sort, precisely?"
"Of the personal sort," he clarifies. "I have come here, for want of a better expression, to cheer you up. Wait." He holds up a fat hand. "Before you say anything, I am aware of the incongruousness of the mere notion coming from me of all people. Believe me, I should never have come here at this late point in time with a mission this much doomed to failure if it were up to me, but I have committed myself, and I stand by my word."
By now, I no longer know if I should be outraged or amused. However, his obvious discomfort has reached a new height, which has the immediate effect of calming me. "Your word?" I echo, latching onto a random point. "May I ask to whom?"
He smiles. I feel a sharp pang. I can see Sherlock in his manner; hear him in Mycroft's cadence of speech. It is at once painful and comforting, almost as if I were seeing my dear friend's ghost. "You may ask," he says, "but I'm afraid I cannot tell you."
I am struck by an absurd thought. He works for the government, Sherlock once told me. Maybe whoever sent him here is also connected to the government, or even to someone higher up. But then I shake my head. Surely I do not warrant this much attention from such exalted personages.
"Very well," I say. "I suppose I am grateful to whomever it is. You have not shown much concern with my affairs before." I stop myself. "I apologize. That was uncalled for. You have your own life to live, and I have seen from your brother's example how emotion is dealt with in your family."
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, don't worry about that, Doctor. You have every right to be bitter." His eyes are twinkling. Twinkling! "As I said, I'm here to help. If it'll help you to vent a little, do not hold back on my account."
"I have no intention of venting," I say wearily. I am long past that. Shock, incredulity, grief, anger, more grief - I have passed through all the stages. Now, soon, I may hopefully begin to heal.
A moment of silence ensues, and I cannot at first rouse myself to break it. But finally, belatedly, I remember my duties as a host.
He accepts a cup of tea and some biscuits, and when the page's bustling ceases, Mycroft seems to have decided where he wishes to steer this conversation. "Sherlock was born with a head full of curly, wheat blond hair," he says abruptly, with a distant expression in his eyes.
I am startled by the personal matter of the topic he has chosen, but he ignores my reaction.
"Since both our parents and their ancestors were all coloured dark, this caused quite a stir, as you may imagine, Doctor. There may even have been a few accusations bandied about, but I have no recollection of that. In any case, it was the reason for the last-minute change of Sherlock's given name. As you may know, it means 'bright hair'. Originally, he was supposed to be christened Sherrinford, after our grandfather." His voice is soft and toneless.
I find I am holding my breath and release it slowly.
"After few days, the hair he was born with fell out, and that which eventually replaced it was as black as everyone else's in our family. Mother, as I recall, was quite relieved." He smiles, which makes his face look even more like his brother's. "He was a taxing child, always needing new things to experience, always on the move. I see his small face and delicate limbs before me even now. He was all knees and elbows, amazingly agile and dexterous with his small fingers. If left to his own devices, his quest for mental and physical challenge would lead him to all sorts of mischief. He taught himself to open cupboard and drawer locks by use of a bent wire before he was three, and he climbed on and into everything within reach to see what was inside or beyond. Nanny was quite incapable of keeping up with him. Often, it was I who was dispatched to keep him busy, which was a strain for both of us at first, as I was his opposite in temperament. So, once I found something that fascinated him, I resorted to exhausting it completely. I squeezed every bit of information from it and challenged him to do better than me. We would sit at a window and watch the tradesmen, or in our tree house and look at whatever happened to crawl, fly, or canter past, and make our observations and deductions. It was our game." He is looking into the middle distance. His voice has grown even softer, and I wonder if he may not have forgotten where he is, or with whom.
My throat hurts. I am surprised to find my face wet with tears, but I am ignoring it while I hang upon his every word.
Mycroft does not appear to notice. "I remember one evening when we had guests. Sherlock and I, as heirs, were required to attend dinner, and we both sat there in our finery, scrutinizing our guests. He was five at the time; it was my last year at home before I left for school. We neither of us said a word during the whole dinner. Instead, we communicated to each other what we saw and deduced about our guests and their interactions with our parents via a complicated secret language involving the table cutlery we had spent three years developing. That evening was the first time Sherlock saw more than I did. He saw more, but he was too young to draw the correct inferences. Later that day, I talked to father about it. It is not important what it was - a minor matter of unfaithfulness - but there was a bit of a fuss about it, and these particular guests were not invited into our house again for a while." He smiles again. This time, the air of fond pride is unmistakable.
"Our parents were impressed, and grew a little wary of Sherlock, I think. Of course, I had cultivated this ability same as he, but he was the more extroverted one of us. He thrived on praise, and he loved to show off at every opportunity even then. That did not change as he grew up, as you know, Doctor."
He still does not look at me, for which I am grateful. I am weeping openly now, but these are not the painful tears of grief; rather a quieter, more peaceful cleansing, and I have neither the will nor the strength to stop them.
"While I was at school, Sherlock had a difficult time of it, so I made it my business to be at home with him as often as I could. He never told me anything, because he knew he did not need to. Even though we only saw each other three or four times a year, less often as the years passed, we were always close, closer than many who saw each other daily, I should suspect. But there was nothing I could do. Finally, when he was thirteen, he instigated our father's arrest, and that was where it ended. Mother had already left us by then, so I returned home and managed the estate until Sherlock left for school that same year. I sold everything a little later in order to pay for both our education, and we finally both ended up in London, he later than I. The rest you know."
By now, I am hiding my face behind my hands. The unexpected confidences with which he has gifted me have weakened my composure, and the tight rein I have kept upon my tongue is beginning to slip. "I killed him," I whisper from behind the barricade of my fingers. "It is my fault he is dead. I am to blame, Mr. Holmes."
There is a creaking of wood, and then his hands are around my wrists, pulling my hands away from my wet face. "Oh no," he says softly. "Whatever you may believe, pray do not think that. Not that, I beg of you." His light grey eyes are looking at me very earnestly, almost entreatingly. His face is quite close to mine, and from here, his similarity to Sherlock is even more striking. "This is not your fault. If I am to achieve anything with this, please let it be that you will not go on blaming yourself. It is unjustified and will accomplish nothing save hurting yourself."
"You do not understand." My voice is thick with tears. "None of this would have happened if I hadn't married."
I fall silent. I must remember that Mycroft is not Sherlock. With his familiar manner, he invites my trust, but I do not know how much he knew about his brother, and by extension, about me. The last thing I want to do is tarnish Sherlock's memory, even if I feel no shame about what we were for each other.
"Maybe not," he replies, "but you cannot know that. Ultimately, it was his decision. He never allowed himself to be pressured into doing anything he did not agree to do, not when he was five, nor at any other time. Please do not believe that you, me, or anyone else could have accomplished that."
"This may have been different," I whisper. How I long to explain, to unburden myself of my grief for my beloved friend! There is no-one with whom I could possibly talk about the full extent of my feelings. I am damned to be nothing more than the grieving best friend, and if people wonder why I should suffer so much, I am bound by convention to leave them in ignorance.
But maybe Mycroft is the wrong person to burden with this in any case. Maybe love is something that he could never understand. It took Sherlock himself a long time to understand it, and he was the one feeling it.
"I know it was different," he says, to my surprise, "and I'll admit that it may have influenced him more than anything else could have achieved. I know he was confused for a while, and I know why. I also know that this confusion cleared, and what you two were for each other. We never talked about that either, beyond one thing he said to me one evening over pâte de foie gras and a bottle of Calvados Réserve Marquis St. Loup. 'It's the thing the poets talk about, Mycroft,' he said, 'and pretty heady stuff it is, too. I can see now how it can drive men to murder or to sainthood.' I knew then that my little brother was in love, and it did not take any great deductive abilities to infer with whom. I watched him carefully for a few months after that, but his performance remained as much an asset to our country as ever, so I stopped worrying on that front."
Of course, I reflect, I should have known that Mycroft Holmes, of all people, would know. But amidst my relief, I feel a new upsurge of grief his reminiscences have brought to the surface, and my tears begin to flow again. I let them, revelling in this opportunity to weep in front of someone who, after all, understands my reason for this display, and who will not judge based on conventions.
"But still," I insist after a while, "I harmed him when I married. I know I did. I saw the effect. Is it so farfetched to believe I may have harmed him fatally?"
"Yes, it is. Sherlock may have had a flair for the dramatic, but he would never have allowed anyone to believe that he, the epitome of analytical thinking, departed from this world because of his inability to deal with a feeling. It would be much too embarrassing."
When he puts it like this, I can almost believe it.
He tilts his head a little to the side and looks at me searchingly. "I am at present unable to tell if I did harm or good, Doctor," he says ruefully. "But you're looking a little less brittle, so I'm prepared to take that as a good sign."
I actually manage a smile as I wipe at my face. "It is, thank you. It was quite cathartic. I needed that."
"I have no doubt." He puts the last biscuit in his mouth and washes it down with the last of his tea. "And now that I have depleted all your offerings, I shall be going." He levers himself to his feet. "Oh, and Doctor, if you should ever find yourself in need of further reminiscences, I hope you remember where to find me."
Later that day, I step in front of my practice to revive a habit I have all but abandoned, and as I walk, I feel the slight evening breeze touch my cheeks, and I smile.
- Watson -
I have reached a point where I am beginning to believe that I may finally be returning to something resembling my former self. Even though this past week, if I am honest with myself, has been more trying, in some ways, than the experience that started this whole damnable thing in the first place, I think that I have taken the first steps towards true healing today.
Or maybe it was a week ago, when I finally started writing again.
I knew at the outset that it would be painful, and indeed, putting pen to paper has brought it all back to the surface of my memory. But amidst my renewed grief, I was dismayed to find that I am beginning to forget tiny details. I can no longer recall the exact timbre of his voice, and though I remember the way his eyes crinkled at their corners with his infrequent smiles, I no longer know the exact pattern of those tiny lines. Still, the unfolding of the events leading to and culminating in his death is indelibly imprinted in my mind. Nor will I ever forget the enormity and the wonder of this thing we shared before I destroyed it with that most unforgivable mistake I ever made.
My biggest regret is that I never told him how unutterably sorry I am.
While I was writing, I once again spilt what felt like a lifetime reservoir of tears. But today, I am calm, even at ease. I can remember him now without feeling that intense pain of loss. There is still grief, yes, and probably always will be, but it is less crippling now than before, and for the first time, I can even smile at some of the more charming memories.
This is, in no small part, due to Mycroft. A month ago, I have finally taken up his offer to join him in the Stranger's Room at the Diogenes, where, true to his word, he shared some private memories of his brother with me, little episodes that I have written down elsewhere to re-read and cherish during those times when I am feeling particularly lonely. Paradoxically, through his brother, I have come to know Sherlock better than I ever did while he was alive. Now, I can understand many of the strange quirks of his character that, before, seemed so utterly singular and eccentric to me. Only now I understand what it was that enabled, even drove him to love me, and how abjectly powerless he ultimately was to resist this love. And how cruelly I must have hurt him with my marriage, no matter how sensible a step it seemed at the time.
I no longer think that I am to blame for his death. That, at least, is something Mycroft has accomplished. The picture he painted of his brother is that of a man who ultimately triumphs over all obstacles, simply because he feels failure too keenly. He would never have let Moriarty win at the Falls - out of sheer bloody-mindedness.
I am smiling as I am writing this, for I cannot help but remember the story Mycroft told me about three-year-old Sherlock, who, baffled by his as yet lacking manual dexterity, spent a full three hours bent over his bootlaces in single-minded concentration until he finally managed to tie his first bow, only to undo it and start over. It was an early manifestation of the same tenacity he would demonstrate during his professional life with every cipher and every riddle with which he was confronted.
What an amazing and singular man he was, and how extraordinarily blessed I am to have known and loved him! While some of his quirks were certainly trying, not the least of which his habit of demanding from his surroundings the same blithe disregard for nourishment and comfort as he required of himself, his acquaintance has nevertheless enriched my life.
I have decided to write down some of the most interesting cases we shared and to publish them, one after the other. Sherlock Holmes was a man who should never be forgotten, and though he may occasionally have belittled my skills as a wordsmith, writing is still the one thing I can do to perpetuate his memory.
- Holmes -
Back on England's shore! Strange how nothing appears to have changed, and yet everything seems different. But of course it is merely my perception that has altered. Steeped in Eastern tradition, fashion, food and speech as I am now, my fellow countrymen appear amazingly drab, stiff and humourless as they trudge to and fro in this dismal weather that has me pulling the collar of my coat closer around my throat.
My personal danger has increased with my return to London, a fact I acknowledge by being disguised. But I have never shirked peril; it has instead always been the spice in what would otherwise be little more than methodical scientific work, the intellectual thrill at the challenge and the pleasure of solving the mystery notwithstanding. But I have more personal reasons for ignoring the danger to myself. Three years have now passed since I faked my demise at Reichenbach - the same period of time that Watson was married before I left. He has finally paid his debt to me, even if he does not realize he even owed me. I can finally take Jangbu's advice and come home.
On the steamer, I read of Watson's bereavement, and I cannot help but feel the hand of fate. Can it be coincidence that the wife who came between us should die now, just when Watson's term comes to an end?
Be that as it may, he is free again, as I am free of the bitterness that drove me ever further away from him. Now, we can start anew.
I seek our old stomping grounds, and it does not take me long to catch a glimpse of Watson among the millions of Londoners. I am dismayed to observe the change in him. He has aged more than these three years, and some of his vibrancy is gone. There can be no doubt that he has suffered. I do not flatter myself by thinking that the death of his wife has played no part in that, but neither can I totally absolve myself.
Three years, my dear friend. Three years of you thinking me dead, but six years of me not having you. We have tortured each other enough. Let the slate be clean now!
I can hardly wait to have him near me again. This time apart, I must confess, was painful in the extreme. Nevertheless, as my Tibetan monk taught me, there are lessons in everything life subjects us to, and I have gone through a veritable university course during these past years. I have learned that I cannot deny nor run from my own feelings; that I cannot live without Watson, and that it is better to seek company in misery than to suffer alone. Harsh lessons, to be sure: Each one of them is in direct opposition to everything I have heretofore adhered to. I always fancied myself above these emotional concerns, indeed above the need for companionship, and, most fallacious of all, I was convinced that going without Watson was something I could learn to do anew.
Still disguised, I follow him on his round and so to his house in Kensington. There are unmistakable signs that his practice has prospered. That is one good thing that has come of all this grief: At least Watson has found the time and energy to devote his knowledge to those who need him and his medical expertise.
My hearts makes a veritable racket in my chest at the prospect of finally talking to him. Still keeping up my persona of decrepit book-seller, I gain entry to his study. There is an intense sense of Watson-ness about the place, the same army-neat, practical yet homely arrangement of his personal effects that he used to contribute to our shared rooms in Baker Street, and it brings back all sorts of sense-memories and an astonishingly deep longing to have it – and him - again.
Of course, he must move back in with me. Whatever it takes, I shall devise some way to make him give up this lovely house and its orderly solitude in favour of my cluttered company.
The sight, sense and smell of him from close up once more puts a serious strain upon my composure, and I seek my salvation in words, confusing him with the mention of book shops and titles, throwing in Catullus for good measure, whose works always held a special meaning for us. I then contrive to make him look away for a moment, and when he turns back to me, there I am in my own person standing in front of him, unable to keep a no doubt foolish smile off my face.
He rises to his feet, staring - and faints.
I rush forward and catch him, amazed that a man who grimly held on to consciousness while being transported, gravely wounded, upon the back of a pack-horse, should take leave of his senses at the mere sight of me. The feel of him in my arms, even insensate, heals many wounds even as it reopens others.
Then he opens his eyes and smiles at me, then we grip each other fiercely, and then we are kissing. He whispers non-sequiturs like "oh God" and my name; I can feel him shake – my staunch shield brother brought to this state of incoherency not by danger, but by sheer joy.
At last, we break apart to hold each other at arm's length.
"How can this be? Can it really be you, Holmes? I thought you were dead." He grips my arms, strokes my face and grips my arms again as if trying to compensate in this way for his inability to mentally grasp the simple fact of my presence.
I want to tell him so much, all the things I rehearsed during the long time abroad, but the words will not come. Instead, I seek recourse in answering his single most burning question and telling him what happened at the Falls. The temptation is strong to make up a tale about being pursued by Moriarty's henchmen and being forced to disappear, but I resist. I will not begin this second life with Watson by lying to him.
He listens to my tale of cowardice, his face growing solemn. And then he demonstrates his frequently underrated intelligence by succinctly summarising: "You fled. From me."
- Watson -
Holmes regards me evenly, his two grey eyes appearing huge in his too-pale face. "Mostly from my own feelings, but yes. I cannot deny that I fled from the situation."
After the stormy succession of violent feelings he has subjected me to during the past minutes, it is almost a relief to find myself back upon the familiar ground of remorse. "I am so terribly sorry, Holmes. I know that I should never have married. Not a day has passed since Reichenbach when I did not berate myself for making this enormous mistake."
He takes both my hands. "You forgive me, then, for this deception?"
I hesitate. All these tears, wasted. I feel like I should be angry, and I fancy I am, deep within my heart, but it is superimposed by the sheer joy of having him back. "I don't deny that I am a little hurt to find that it has all been a sham, and that Mycroft, that sly dog, must have known all along. I certainly should never wish to go through the like again. But I can see for myself that this sojourn has not been a happy vacation for you, dear fellow. And I do know that it is ultimately my fault. Of course I forgive you, if there's anything to forgive. But can you forgive me?"
He smiles. "Yes, I can. Now I can. Let bygones be bygones, my Watson."
I hug him to me, relieved beyond words.
But even as I hold his lithe body in my arms, lither than I remember it, there is a small voice in the back of my mind wondering what I am supposed to think should something like that ever happen again. Will I always expect him to come back to me, even if, heaven forfend, he should truly meet his end before I do? "I shall certainly never accept news of your demise again unless I see your lifeless body for myself," I choke out, "and for longer than seventy-two hours. But please, if you can, promise me – promise me to never do that or anything like it again. My poor heart couldn't stand it."
His thin, wiry arms are like steel bands around my shoulders. "Certainly, on two conditions. One, no more marrying. I shan't be responsible for my actions if you do."
I laugh, with more than a touch of hysterics in it. "Done."
"Two, move back in with me."
"Done and done. I shall have to keep both my eyes upon you in future, lest you vanish again."
"Excellent. You will make Mrs. Hudson very happy, you know."
"Does she know?"
"That I am back? Yes. She was a little more vocal than you, but she at least managed to hold on to her consciousness. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to her for that."
I laugh again, with, I think, a little more genuine cheerfulness, for I cannot help but remember, as he no doubt is as well, the episode where one of his clients – a beautiful young lady – fainted in our rooms upon the happy conclusion of the case of the overexposed photograph. Holmes was as helpless and as nervous around her motionless body as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs until she came back to herself. "I can imagine."
During this exchange, we have been holding on to one another like a pair of drowning men, and it dawns upon both of us at the same time that we are behaving with less than the comportment required of two respectable gentlemen. Regretfully and slowly, we let go of each other.
"I can get my things to Baker Street by tomorrow," I say.
"How soon –" he begins at the same time.
"There is a trifling thing that requires my attention tonight," he says softy, with an unholy gleam in his eyes, "otherwise I should not suffer your absence from my bed, believe me."
Suddenly, the reason both for his disguise and for his harassed appearance dawns upon me. "Can I be of assistance?"
"Tell me, then."
And so he does. And while he talks, it is almost as if he never left. As usual, there is danger, a criminal to apprehend, and the official force's deficiency to be supplied. But now, the three year's grace period for Europe's criminal world is over. London's law-breaking citizens shall find their sleep troubled again from now on, while Sherlock Holmes and I shall finally find peaceful rest within each other's arms once more.
The time has come for us both to come home.