The Clueless Watson - Part One: The Pursuit

A Holmes/Watson/other Slash Story by MackoM and ElenaC


Watson

He is utterly pale. I must admit that he is pale more often than not, if truth be told he can be the epitome of paleness, and yet, this kind of pallor, with an almost greenish tinge, does start to worry me. He has not been moving for the past two hours, seemingly involved in some kind of meditation, most probably due to the new case he is working on. I have been watching him through a haze of bluish smoke until I suddenly realize that he must have moved, after all, because it would have been impossible to produce such an enormous amount of smoke with only one pipe full. Moreover, his eyes are not as unfocused as I thought them to be, and to my amazement I grow aware that he is staring back at me.

How long has he been looking at me like this?

I feel the heat rising in my cheeks, as if he was able to read my thoughts, and clearing my throat, I turn away and hastily grope for another cigarette. But then again, I cannot tell how long I had been staring at him, and I deduce that it is only just for him to reproach me for that, should he feel like doing so, or to simply look back.

Feeling a certain restlessness shooting through my limbs, especially the left arm, I get up from the settee and stretch, yawning as to play down the awkwardness of the feeling of self-consciousness I had just brought upon myself. "You must be freezing," I utter. "You cannot possibly be sitting like this for much longer." I feel a definite hollowness in my stomach, obliging me to add, "And you must eat something."

He merely smiles his most enigmatic smile, the one I cannot read for my dear life, and his eyes light up with an almost fiendish glow for the glimpse of a moment. And again, I feel the heat, and to my utter consternation, I realize that it is not only filling my cheeks, but also a highly familiar lower region. In my distress, I consider asking him whether he has actually been watching me all that time, and what on earth makes him smile like that, but in fear of an honest answer, I refrain from doing so. Used to the familiar habit of talking to myself, which is what it mostly feels like, even when I am indeed talking to Holmes, I continue to chatter.

"My dear Holmes," I say. "If I can assist you in any way with your contemplation, you know that I am most willing to do so. But I do not think it wise to do so on an empty stomach. Moreover," I add almost desperately, in sight of the scornful smile that is playing around his lips now, "A joint dinner would do no harm, would it now, and it revives the spirits." I expect him to retort that his spirits are heightened enough, and that a meal of any kind would only spoil his astute chain of thoughts, but in contrast to this, he actually unfolds and gives a nod of assent. His smile, however, stays fixed.

There must be something going on that I am not aware of. Maybe I have missed some crucial clues concerning this special case, and he wants me to find out about it all by myself before he has to hold another one of his lectures. But I cannot put my finger on it. Whatever it is, he will finally have to tell me, yet right now I do not feel like begging. In fact, I feel that I am growing more than slightly annoyed by his demeanour, which leaves me at a loss, making me feel even more exposed, and lonesome.

As soon as our dinner, which we take in mutual silence, is over, I get up from the table, excuse myself curtly, grab my coat and hat and rush outside. He cannot expect me to remain seated like a stupid pupil all night long, while he indulges in the triumph that I will once again not find out about the flaw in my chain of deductions. Huh! We will see. Some physical exercise will do me good, and I will get behind this scheme, in effect I will not come home before I have found out all about it. Full of determination, I head for Soho, planning on a long walk. As soon as my mind is clear, my reason will follow, and I am sure that I will find out all about it.

Holmes

I watch him leave. It is a spur-of-the-moment decision on his part, as evidenced by the fact that he did not receive any summons requiring his services as a doctor, nor did he mention his intention to spend the evening elsewhere. In the absence of other factors, this seems to support the assumption that it is my presence and something I did or did not do that has sent him out at this time of day.

I could hardly have missed his agitation. After all the time we have spent together, I pride myself on my knowledge about my good friend. If he is upset, I notice, and nine times out of ten I know the reason. This time, nothing external happened, therefore I must somehow be to blame. I said nothing, therefore it must have been something I did. I did nothing save look and smile at him, which is something I do often, almost habitually. I must assume he is used to it. And so, by excluding all factors, I come to the conclusion that it must have been something I did not do that upset him.

Provided he is upset.

That is the basic assumption in my chain of inferences, and I admit that it may be erroneous. I observed a blush and a restlessness, which may also be attributed to another underlying emotion. He fussed, which he does often, and when I smiled at him, grateful for his concern, said reaction occurred.

Can he possibly be embarrassed for being concerned about me? It would be a new development, and if true, I should have to determine the source of this embarrassment. It would have to be an external source, since nothing happened here that could account for it.

I need more data. When he comes back, I shall get to the bottom of this.

Watson

A crisp northeastern gale hits me in the face, cooling my head instantly in spite of the somewhat protective hat. I have to hold on to my good old bowler lest it part from me in the storm, and yet, without thinking, I direct my steps towards the east. Exposing my face to the strong wind, already mixed with sleet again, with my jaw set and the hand holding the hat growing cold, I find my mind clearing rapidly. What on earth had made me leave like that? I find no reasonable answer, apart from the obvious: Holmes had been looking at me, he had been smiling, and something in his smile had made me angry.

The cold gust is burning on my cheeks, making my eyes burn, too, and I cannot tell whether the tears come from the forces of nature only, or whether there is something else that makes me cry. If there is, I realize while striding onwards, it must have been waiting for an opportunity like this one, as I cannot recall the last time I cried. For the first time after I left Baker Street behind me, I look up and around, and I am not surprised to see that I am one of the rare pedestrians at this time and in this weather.

I also notice where my feet have carried me, but instead of turning, I feel urged to go on. I am heading for the docks now. It is a path I have tread many a time, and mostly at an hour at which more decent chaps than me would either take a carriage or, even more likely, not dare go there at all. But I know my way around those quarters, and I also know where I am heading. After turning another corner, I finally reach my goal. I retreat into an entrance and lean against the wall, panting and wiping my face. Suddenly, my cheeks are burning, and I feel new hot tears that force their way over the freezing cold skin.

And there is something else, apart from the heat on my face: a familiar sensation, but this time not welcome at all. I close my eyes, as if I could hide from the desire that way, but of course the feeling gets even more intensive, and I have to suppress a groan. At that moment, the door opens, and a familiar face peers out to look at me. The warmth of a welcoming fireplace gushes out to tease me, I know that fireplace well, and yet, I must refrain. The equally familiar dark eyes lock with mine, and while no words are being exchanged, I understand the invitation, and for the first time, I decline. There is a short moment of irritation on both sides, but then, fortunately, an understanding smile, before the door closes again.

I can feel my jaw working, and for a moment, I am uncertain as to whether I should knock and accept the invitation nonetheless, or turn my back upon this house, never to return. Something is breaking, and I cannot tell for the life of me whether it is my heart or just the bond that I had established during all that time, all those months of secrecy and fear and suppressed love. At this, I hear myself laugh, and apart from the steady rain it is the only sound - an ugly sound, almost hysterical and at the same time utterly sad. Suddenly, my heart is singing, again I cannot tell why, and I know that I must go back home now.

Before even trying, I know that there will be no carriage that might pick me up on my way home, even if I were lucky enough to stop one: I am thoroughly drenched, and not even the cheapest coach would let me in. Hence, I stride onwards, hoping not to catch a cold this time. It would be positively ironic if I did so, after all those years without even a sneeze, and should it happen in spite of my good spirits, I would chance to believe that God intends to punish me for my sins afterwards – and maybe, if I am bold enough to hope – even in advance.

Finally, I reach Baker Street again. It must be well past midnight now, and while I let myself in, I realize that I have been utterly careless indeed to be walking around like this, as if the city's villains were asleep during such kind of weather. I prepare for a homily sermon once my good friend sets eyes on me, and yet I must smile. Everything that distracts from my original course of action will be worthwhile. After discarding my dripping coat and hat, I climb the stairs, and trying to look as nonchalant as possible, I enter our mutual living room once more.


To be continued...