Love Covereth All Sins

Once again, I own nothing. Not even the rain. (sniff) KCS

WOOHOO! Passed all my finals, thank the Lord!

Here's the final edit of the chapter - Tea so far for VHunter07 and clevergirl - milk and sugar, anyone?

Proverbs 10:12 " covereth all sins."

A free cup of Mrs. Hudson's tea to any of you chaps who can spot the hidden Bible verse!

"Good heavens!" cried Holmes. "I had totally forgotten him. My dear Watson, I owe you a thousand apologies. To think that I should have overlooked you! I need not introduce you to Mr. Culverton Smith, since I understand that you met somewhat earlier in the evening."

-The Adventure of the Dying Detective

(Watson's Point of View)

The rain was pouring down in sheets so thick that, even had I an umbrella, I would soon have been soaked to the skin. The grey, depressing atmosphere matched perfectly my despondent, shamed mood. What was I thinking, going over the top like that with Holmes?

The man could be infuriating, annoying, exasperating – yet he was my friend, my dearest friend. How could I have said such things? "If you weren't such a pathetic, empty, selfish – machine..." rang still in my ears even as it had during the moments following my utterance of the words. What in the world had gotten into me?

I knew my Holmes well enough to know that, once engaged on a case, he remained blissfully unaware of the world around him, including me. It was not intentional; that simply was what happened when he was on a case. And obviously this had been no ordinary case. Even through my anguish, hidden behind the head of Holmes's bed, I still had heard enough to understand that much. If Smith was really that dangerous, then Holmes's actions, no matter what I thought of them personally, had to have been justifiable.

I should be used to his ways by now. How dare I say such things to him, knowing that he never truly intended to hurt me? I had flown off the handle without a moment's hesitation to think of the consequences of my actions.

I have always been a believer in justice and fair play – where was the justice in not allowing Holmes a chance to defend himself? Why had I not let him have a chance to explain what I assumed were good reasons for his atrocious conduct? Even a criminal deserves a chance to defend himself – and I had not even extended that courtesy to my best friend.

What kind of a friend was I, anyway?

A sudden flood of water sloshed off an awning, hitting me in the face and drenching what little of me had previously been dry. I shivered, half from the cold and half from the knowledge that I had behaved quite abominably to the one person whose opinion I valued above all others.

Chilled to the bone, I contemplated calling a cab but then realized that I had left in such a hurry from my surgery that morning in answer to Mrs. Hudson's frantic summons that I had left my wallet behind. I'd had just barely enough fare to get to Culverton Smith's and back.

As I walked, growing more cold by the moment, I suddenly came to a decision and spun around. I could not let the sun go down on my anger with Holmes, and the man definitely deserved a deep apology from me.

I headed back in the direction from which I had come, intent on returning to Baker Street and trying to salvage what might remain of the friendship I had done my best to destroy.

(Holmes's Point of View)

I sat in the cab, trying to shield my face from the sheets of rain coming in at an almost horizontal angle, wishing to heaven I had not carried my deception for Culverton Smith quite so far. Despite one of Mrs. Hudson's good soups and some scones, I still felt rather weak and willed the cab to go faster, wishing fervently to be out of these inclement conditions.

Still, I had no one to blame but myself. My heartless conduct had driven Watson out in the same weather, and the responsibility would be completely on my shoulders were we both to catch pneumonia from the night's excursions.

I hoped fervently that Watson had had the sense to get a cab and not walk all the way back to Kensington in such a storm – he could be most stubborn at times and I hoped this was not one of them.

Shivering, I was drawing my ulster closer about me when I saw the man himself. Poor Watson! He looked as if he had been standing directly under a gutter-spout. Drenched from head to foot, he was fighting his way back through the storm in my direction.

I sighed quietly as it took no great deduction to see from his miserable expression that he was on his way back to my rooms to apologize to me. I rapped sharply on the roof of the cab and jumped out to meet him as he struggled down the pavement.

"Watson!" I called sharply over the storm.

He looked up at the sound of my voice, and the momentary relief I saw flood his face soon was replaced by a look of extreme embarrassment. But now was not the time or place for either of us to give way to emotional explanations.

"You look as if you jumped into the Thames, my dear chap," I said, taking his arm and nearly pushing him into the waiting cab. The surprised look on his face at my unexpected gesture was priceless and I shall long remember it fondly.

I jumped in after him and banged once more on the roof. "Back to Baker Street, Cabbie!" I shouted above the rain.

"Holmes –" he began uncomfortably, and then looking at me, he changed what he was going to say. "You shouldn't be out in this, in your weakened condition."

"Nor should you, my dear fellow," I replied, "I could see your limp from down the street. Why in heaven's name didn't you order a cab?"

"I used the last change in my pocket to get back to Baker Street ahead of Culverton Smith like you ordered me to, Holmes," he said tiredly, leaning his head back against the seat with a sigh.

Once more I was seized with a bout of remorse for my atrocious conduct. I said a fervent prayer that neither of us would catch our deaths of cold before we had a chance to put a better end on this escapade.

Watson's eyes closed and my own stared moodily out at the pouring rain. It was with great relief that I saw the street sign for Baker Street a few minutes later. Within seconds, we were pulling up in front of 221b and I jumped down, threw the cabbie a sovereign, and fumbled in my ulster for my keys.

By unspoken agreement, Watson descended, a little more stiffly, and I noticed with a pang that he was indeed limping, the sure sign of a strained and painful day. One that I had done nothing but make worse.

I finally found the key but before I could open the door, Mrs. Hudson had swung it wide and the warm, inviting glow of the hall lamp filled the dreary evening with a welcoming pool of light.

"Good gracious, Mr. Holmes! Get in here before you flood the hall!" she exclaimed, stepping back to allow me passage. "Oh, it's good to see you back too, Doctor. I was worried when you started off without a cab," she went on, tactfully refraining from any personal comments.

I noticed as Watson handed her his coat that he had begun to shiver uncontrollably and I propelled him rather forcefully up the stairs into the sitting room. It was proof of how exhausted he really was that he offered not even a weak remonstrance to my ministrations.

In the doorway, we both stopped and stared in some surprise for a moment at the scene before us.

Beside the blazing fire Mrs. Hudson had put two of my dressing gowns and two pairs of slippers. And on the sideboard, a steaming pot of tea and two cups awaited us. I cleared my throat rather pointlessly and grinned at Watson.

"That woman is far sharper than she lets on, isn't she?" he responded to my unsaid comment, his tired eyes regaining a slight bit of their usual twinkle.

I shook my head ruefully. "She certainly is," I agreed, helping Watson off with his sopping jacket and throwing a warm dressing gown over his shoulders, "you should have heard the right proper dressing-down she gave me after you left today."

He colored at the remembrance but stopped and looked at me. "Mrs. Hudson gave you a lecture?"

"I should certainly say so," I snorted, putting on my slippers and tying my belt, "Mr. Holmes. You are behaving like a child. And that was only the beginning!"

I was rewarded with a snort of laughter from my friend as I poured a steaming cup of tea from the pot, put milk in it as I knew he always took it, and handed him the cup.

"Watch it, it's boiling hot," I said, swearing under my breath as I burned my fingers.

"Sherlock Holmes, Master Deducer of the obvious," Watson muttered, collapsing into his chair by the fire. I sniggered – he did not realize I had heard him. I was relieved to see that he had stopped shivering so violently when once divested of his soaked outerwear.

I took my own cup and sat down in my usual chair across from him. And for a moment, there was an extremely awkward silence.

One that I knew it was my responsibility to break.

I cleared my throat and opened my mouth, but evidently Watson had the same idea, for we said each other's names at the same time.



We both laughed a little awkwardly, and then I hastened on before he could.

"Let me finish, Watson. I – have done a lot of thinking in the past hour." I got up and nervously fumbled to light my pipe, trying to think of what I had previously planned to say. I never had been good at this sort of thing. After trying to cogitate what I had scripted for my apology and failing miserably, I threw all precautions to the wind and just spoke from my heart and not my head for once.

"And, I have come to a realization that – everything you said today – was completely true."

He dropped his teacup with a clatter onto the saucer.

"Holmes, that's not even close to being an accurate statement."

"I'm not through yet, Watson. And it was true, all of it. I – was – quite thoughtless. And – and I have nothing to say that will even come close to excusing my atrocious behavior. Since I cannot excuse or even explain what I did,"

I hesitated for a moment, took a deep breath, and continued, "I can only ask for your forgiveness. I know I do not and never will deserve it for the havoc I have wreaked today, but I ask it just the same. Can you ever forgive me, my dear fellow?"

He was looking down at his teacup, and I could not tell if his face was flushed from embarrassment or from the heat of the inferno Mrs. Hudson had created in our fireplace.

For a moment neither of us moved, and I was actually fearful that he was not going to acknowledge my apology. Which was no more than I deserved, I knew. Then he cleared his throat and stood to face me on eye level.

"What I said was wrong, Holmes, and nothing you can say will change that. I was abominably rude, inexcusably so, and I gave you not even a chance to explain your actions. I too am dreadfully sorry," he finally looked me in the eyes as he spoke, and I could see that he had indeed already forgiven me, as only a true friend like he would.

"We shall exchange forgivenesses, then," I said quietly.

A throat clearing behind us made us both turn round.

"May I assume you will be staying for a late supper, Doctor?" Mrs. Hudson asked serenely.

And we both looked at each other and gave vent to a full-fledged laugh, the first we had shared in quite a while.

Explanations would be given, and we would have some serious discussion to do to rectify the errors we had made, but I knew just then that it would take more than my foolish, selfish actions to destroy whatever that elusive quality might be that prompts Watson to so readily forgive and forget. Please God, I will never make such a mistake as this again.

Ta da! Please, please review!