As my muse is being less than cooperative with plots for longer stories at the moment, I've decided to take the opportunity to collect those scenes and fragments which are too long to be drabbles and too undisciplined to be 221Bs, and which don't fit anywhere else.
The first is inspired by an incident at work yesterday, when a customer referred to me to a colleague as 'peculiar' within my hearing. I dashed this little scene off to try and control my own anger.
Usual disclaimer: None of this belongs to me, it's all ACD's.
STICKS AND STONES
"Peculiar. That's what he said?"
Holmes nodded, curling up in his chair. "The very word." He glanced up at me, quite suddenly, and I saw something very unusual in his eyes: vulnerability. To my amazement I realised that he had actually been hurt by the insult. "Watson, do you think me…peculiar? Tell me honestly, please, I must know."
I hesitated, to my shame, for in truth some of his habits and behaviour could indeed be termed so. Though I would never say as much to him, I could in some way understand how an outsider to our life might view such oddities as the patriotic VR in neat bullet holes which still adorned our wall despite Mrs Hudson's attempts to paper over it, or the unanswered correspondence which remained transfixed to the increasingly battered mantelpiece with a knife. These and other features which had become commonplace to me over the years would be regarded as shocking and possibly as evidence of a disordered mind by anyone not familiar with the nuances of life with the world's only private consulting detective.
My delay in answering had however a startling effect upon my friend, for he caught hold of my arm. "You do!" he exclaimed, starting upwards with eyes wide, having taken my consideration as evidence that I agreed with his unnamed client's damning opinion. "You think the same as he!"
"No, no!" I cried, placing my hand on his shoulder and gently pushing him back down into his seat. Never had I seen him so agitated over something he would usually deem 'a trifle'. "No, I don't think that at all. How could you ever think that I would?"
"You promise me that? You are not merely humouring me?" He was so desperate for reassurance that it struck at my heart. Holmes had always claimed to be a brain without a heart, but in truth I never truly believed that. At times I saw the emotion he kept hidden so well behind that mask; and I saw that he was no different to the rest of us. He could be hurt, just like anyone else. One little word, uttered in contempt, could cut him to the quick.
"Of course not, my dear fellow," I assured him. "You are eccentric, certainly, and often unbearable, but never, ever peculiar."
He seemed to relax slightly, and, after a moment or two, gave me his familiar twitch of a smile. "Thank you, Watson."
"Arrogant, infuriating, careless," I continued, smiling back as I patted his shoulder and sank into my own chair on the opposite side of the hearth, "but I own that I myself very much prefer 'unique'."