Here it is at long last! The final chapter of this adventure. I am so glad so many people enjoyed this story and took the time to leave reviews!
Here it is at long last! The final chapter of this adventure. I am so glad so many people enjoyed this story and took the time to leave reviews!
"You did remember to take down those portraits of criminals, I hope."
"Of course I did, Mrs. Hudson. I know Watson would not want those faces staring at him through the darkness," Holmes said patiently as he tidied up his room. He had decided to switch rooms with Watson, at least until the doctor recovered, to save him an extra climb up the stairs.
Holmes was trembling with nervous energy. Watson was finally being released from the hospital. He was coming back home to Baker Street where he belonged. Mixed in with Holmes joy was a slight bit of fear. They had not discussed the kidnapping after Holmes had explained that Wilson had been behind it. Holmes still did not know the full details of Watson's imprisonment, and Watson did not know the full details of Holmes investigation. Neither one had seemed willing to bring up the subject again.
We'll have to though, Holmes thought as he removed Watson's watch from his desk drawer. He stared down at the twisted metal for a few moments. Watson's bloodied frock coat was still on the chair where Holmes had left it after Wilson had brought it over. Wilson's smug grin floated through Holmes' mind. Holmes shook his head, trying to erase the image.
Before he left the flat, he made sure to bring along a change of clothes for Watson.
"I'm leaving now, Mrs. Hudson," Holmes called out as he made his way down the stairs. "Watson and I shall return shortly."
He had visited Watson's room so many times that he no longer required an escort to get there. When he walked in, he found Watson sitting up in bed, his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms wrapped around his legs. He looked so vulnerable it made Holmes' heart ache. The bandages had finally been removed, but the scars were still there. He could see the one on Watson's forehead from across the room, though Watson had done his best to hide it with his hair.
He'll have to see those scars every time he gets dressed, Holmes thought, swallowing hard.
For a split second Holmes found himself in Wilson's lair once more, and Watson was lying broken and bleeding on the floor, unresponsive to Holmes' cries.
"Holmes?" Watson asked worriedly. The detective was looking even more paler than usual, and dark rings were under his eyes. It appeared that this experience had been as hellish for Holmes as it had been for Watson. Watson thought that talking about it might help, but Sherlock Holmes was not the sort of man who enjoyed talking about his feelings.
Then there was the fact that Watson himself was reluctant to discuss what had happened to him. How could he tell Holmes that he could still feel Wilson's fingers combing through his hair, the blade of the knife running along his body... he shivered, then glanced up quickly to see if Holmes had noticed.
Clearly he had. His eyes were filled with concern. For a long moment the two men just stared at each other. Finally Holmes broke the silence.
"I brought you some clothes from home," he said, handing the bag over to Watson. "Mrs. Hudson is looking forward to seeing you again," he added.
Watson smiled. "I look forward to seeing her as well."
More silence followed. Holmes cleared his throat.
"I'll just step outside so you can get dressed." He quickly left the room.
It will be better once he's back at Baker Street, Holmes tried to tell himself. Things can finally start returning to normal.
The cab ride home was silent, save for the horses' hooves upon the pavement. It was not the usual comfortable silence that Holmes and Watson were so used to sharing though. This silence was thick and heavy, seemingly putting a distance between them.
Talking about what happened really would help, Watson thought, but I don't want to force Holmes to do anything he doesn't want to. Watson tried to decide if he should leave it to Holmes to make the first move. One of the things the detective prided most was being in control of a situation. Since things had been completely out of his control during this nightmare, this was the chance for him to regain it.
But how will he know that I'm willing to listen if I don't speak up? Watson wondered. I'll have to tell him about what I went through; and even though I don't blame him in the slightest he will still blame himself for not finding me sooner.
Though Holmes did not know it, his own thoughts were almost identical to Watson's. He knew that they had to talk about what had happened. They could not just sweep it under the rug and move on as if nothing had occurred.
Another part of Holmes' reluctance was fear. Suppose Watson did get his memory of that night back and realised that Thurston had betrayed him? Knowing that the person he had been worrying about all this time had done such a thing would hurt him terribly. He would also know that Holmes had lied to him. Holmes shook his head. I'm doing this to shield him. Thurston has paid for his actions with his life. Watson does not need to know the full details. Besides, however cruel and selfish Thurston's actions had been, he had not been deprived of remorse.
The cab arrived at Baker Street. Holmes jumped out first, then helped Watson down. "Here we are," Holmes said, trying to smile. "Oh, Watson, I hope you don't mind but I rearranged things a bit."
"You'll be staying in my room until you're more fully recovered. I already cleaned things up a bit. That's all right with you, isn't it?"
"Of course," said Watson, touched by the gesture. "Thank you."
Mrs. Hudson already had a meal laid out by the time they climbed the stairs.
"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," Watson said, somehow managing to keep from flinching when she gave him a slight hug. She smiled back at him. It wavered ever so slightly at the sight of his scar, but a moment later her smile steadied.
"It is so good to see you again, Doctor," she said softly. "So very good," after one final glance over her shoulder at Holmes, she left the room.
"She is certainly a wonderful woman, isn't she?" Watson asked. Holmes nodded in agreement.
That nearly unbearable silence continued on into dinner, with only the clanking of the silverware to break it.
Holmes was not certain how much more of this he could take. Words he longed to speak kept getting caught in his throat, resfusing to come out. He picked up his violin off of the floor.
"Would it be all right if I played awhile?" he asked. Watson glanced up, surprised by the question.
"Of course, Holmes. I would be delighted to hear it." Especially since I had come to believe that I'd never hear your music again, Watson thought.
Holmes curled up in his chair by the fireplace, and Watson stretched himself out on the couch.
The music that flowed from the violin was so beautiful, and yet so sad at the same time. Watson closed his eyes, allowing the music to wash over him. He let his mind drift, and for a few moments the distance between him and Holmes faded away.
It was only when the clock chimed the quarter hour that Holmes snapped out of his reverie. He looked up to see that Watson had fallen fast asleep. Holmes also realised that while he had been playing, he had also been crying. He hoped that Watson had not noticed.
Would that really be such a terrible thing? Him knowing that you really do care for him? Holmes did not know. Considering all the horrors of these past two weeks, having Watson see him cry should be the least of his worries.
Holmes set the violin down and watched Watson sleep. Now that the doctor was out of the hospital, there was no one to chase Holmes away from his side.
So far, Watson's sleep remained peaceful. Holmes wondered if his friend was dreaming. He hoped the dreams remained pleasent.
Holmes stifled a yawn. Perhaps he should get some sleep as well. They were both in the same room, if Watson was in any distress Holmes would hear it. It would not hurt to close his eyes for a few moments, would it? He had not had any nightmares in at least two days. It should be safe to sleep.
It was so dark and cold. Watson tried to move his arms, only to find that he could not. His legs had also become immobilized. No, he thought. Holmes saved me, he told me Wilson was dead. Watson's struggles became more desperate. He had to get away before Wilson came back, he had too.
Was this a dream? Or was his stay in the hospital one long fever dream that had cruelly ended? Where was Holmes? Watson opened his mouth to scream, only to have a large hand cover it, silencing him.
"Hush, hush, hush," came that hated voice. Fingers combed through Watson's hair as the hand over his mouth tightened its grip. "Just be still now, all right? You'll tire yourself out."
Now Watson could feel cold steel against his neck. He tried to twist away and felt the blood, slippery and warm flow from the wound. Again he tried to scream, but all that came out was this terrible gurgling sound as the blood bubbled out from his lips. Above him he could hear Wilson's laughter which grew increasingly louder, echoing off the walls of the prison. The noise became almost deafening, and those hands were grabbing him by the arms, shaking him.
"Wake up! Wake up!" Wilson called through his gales of laughter. "Wake up!"
"Watson wake up!" Holmes pleaded, too alarmed to keep the fear from his voice. He had been dozing on the chair, only to find himself in a terrible nightmare where Watson was screaming for help but Holmes could not find him. Holmes had awakened to discover that at least part of the dream was true. Watson had fallen off of the couch, but was still asleep, locked within his own terrible dream. Now Holmes was desperately trying to wake him.
"Come on, old man! It is I, Holmes. For God's sake wake up!"
Finally Watson's eyes snapped open. He looked around the room desperately, and finally locked eyes with Holmes.
"Holmes!" Watson relaxed, then quickly looked away. "I am sorry, Holmes. I did not mean to wake you," he said softly.
"There's no reason to apologise, Watson," Holmes reassured him. He is embarrassed, and still frightened. What can I do to put his mind at ease? Holmes wondered, and then the answer came to him.
"You are not made of steel, Watson. You've been through a terrible ordeal. I would be even more worried if you weren't having nightmares." Holmes thought carefully about what he wanted to say next. "Do you wish to discuss it? You might feel better bringing it out into the open instead of keeping it all inside." Holmes managed a weak smile. "Isn't that what you often tell me?"
Watson looked down at the floor, chewing on his lower lip. "Perhaps," he said softly. "But only..." he paused.
"If I tell you what I went through?" Holmes finished for him. He was rewarded with the faintest glimmer in Watson's eyes. The doctor nodded.
"Very well," Holmes said as he helped Watson to his feet. "Here, come with me."
He lead Watson over to his desk and removed Watson's watch from the top drawer.
Watson's eyes widened in shock. "What happened to it?"
"Wilson brought this and the frock coat you had been wearing over here the morning after he abducted you." Holmes explained. "The watch had been intact, but the coat-" he swallowed hard. "There was a gash where he had stabbed your shoulder."
Watson ran a trembling hand over the scar. "My God," he whispered. During his imprisonment, Wilson had struck him as being completely insane, but to just waltz right into Baker Street that way...
Holmes explained about Wilson using an alias, and setting up the challenge and its rules. His normally pale face became paler still as he continued. Watson found himself reaching out and putting his hand on Holmes' wrist. Holmes did not pull away. He went on to explain his suspicions of it being a trap, but having no choice but to play along.
When he came to the part where he had discovered Watson, his voice nearly broke, and he had to swallow several times to regain control. "I was despertate when I could not get your attention, I truly feared that I had come too late."
"Wilson fired the first shot into my shoulder to get my attention, and keep me from returning fire," Holmes explained. "That was why I had my arm in a sling these past few days." Holmes' voice dropped to a whisper. "The second shot had been aimed at my heart, but this watch," he nodded at the timepiece, "stopped the bullet."
"My word..." said Watson softly. "I suppose it was then that Lestrade and Gregson arrived?"
"You remember, then?" Holmes asked curiously, staring into Watson's eyes.
"Not very clearly," Watson admitted. "I vaguely remember hearing Gregson's voice trying to reassure me that we were going to the hospital and that you'd meet us there. Other than that, not much."
"We were lucky," Holmes admited. "If they had not shown up when they had..." He quickly changed the subject. "What else do you remember?" Holmes prayed the memories did not include Thurston.
Watson shivered slightly. He did not want to give voice to all he had been through, but how could he deny Holmes after his friend had released his own demons.
"I remember talking with Thurston," Watson began, feeling a pang of grief for his fallen friend. "Then all of a sudden I awoke in absolute darkness. When I tried to move, I heard a voice telling me to keep still." Watson swallowed hard. "I then felt someone removing my shirt..."
Mrs. Hudson had been jarred out of her sleep by the screams coming from upstairs. By the time she had thrown on a robe and made it half way up the stairs, the noise had stopped. More slowly this time, she finished the climb up the stairs.
Just beyond the door she could hear the doctor and the detective talking in low voices. Although their voices were too soft to distinguish much of what was being said, it was clear from their tones that they were discussing the kidnapping.
Even though she knew it was a severe invasion of their pirvacy to listen in on their conversation, she could not bring herself to leave. To finally have them back together again, where they belonged... she felt her eyes sting.
It is good that they are talking, she thought. Now the real healing could begin.
Soon their voices had stopped. Mrs. Hudson silently counted to thirty before quietly opening the door. What she saw made her smile.
Both Holmes and Watson were fast asleep on the couch, holding on to each other's hands.
THE END! At long last! Thank you so, so, much to everyone who took the time to leave reviews, and to KCS, who helped me out with these last few chapters.