Chapter Notes: My Albus Potter readers will be a little confused by my sudden output on an entirely different genre, but my use of UK style English is helping me with both.
Doctor Watson has not left me since I wrote him last. He has lived out three different stories in my poor brain in that span. I was not kidding when I said the man's presence was easily borne, he is ever so polite, but he does make some suggestions on how I spend my time. I will try to write these tales out quickly before they fade, but also keep my Albus series up. That may take some doing, but these wacky Yarders have taken it upon themselves to pay me a visit it is the least I can do.
I did take a look at the Russian version of Sherlock Holmes, and I have to say I have a new favorite Holmes, but Ian Hart is still the baddest Watson in the land. The Russian Watson is the right age and look, and does have certain intelligence, but he is not enough of an equal to Holmes to dethrone Ian Hart in my mind. So once again Ian's Watson is the man I have in mind when I write for this series.
It occurs to me that Lestrade and Watson's relational dynamic is going to be inevitably strained. Lestrade for all his dogged determination, and street smarts has an inferiority complex the size of Belgium. (Shout out to Doctor Who fans)
Watson, however, is determined to bear his share of the load and will not tolerate anyone's compassion towards him, so there is going to be friction!
This story came from the plot bunny, what if Watson, who has become the Yard's resident expert in autopsy, is forced to use his newly rediscovered talents to find someone whom is still alive? Can he match wits with someone who might be as smart as Holmes himself?
I guess we are about to find out.
P.S. I just added a picture to my profile that coincides with a quote from this chapter...be sure to check it out!
These are Conan's kids, I just invited them out for tea.
Doctor John Watson, Police Surgeon: Scotland Yard 2
Lestrade argued with himself as he sat in the cosy waiting room Doctor's Kensington practice.
He does not need to be involved. This might be a step back for him. What if it is him? Watson would be well and truly upset if he was not informed. If it were he, Watson would know before anyone, he knew the man best!
He stood and walked to a window, he needed a cigarette badly but Watson kept a notice for any smoking to be done outside for the sake of his patients with poor breathing.
Lestrade paced trying to think of what he could say to soften the blow. He knew it was useless, though. He would never be any sort of diplomat; he was a constable, with one tact in his arsenal, which was to come straight at someone. This someone, however, was one of the most complicated minds Lestrade had ever run across. He was not enigmatic by any measure, if you asked him what he was thinking he would answer readily enough. Unlike his partner, who enjoyed being the most knowledgeable person in the room, Watson had no such pretences. He was, however, in the possession of byzantine values and complicated reasoning known only to him, which made him interesting to know, but difficult to have dealings.
Lestrade was not alone in that waiting area. He was amused to notice that for the most part the Doctor's clientele appeared to be exclusively female, and for those visiting the doctor's office, they appeared to be well dressed. His wife, Clea, had mentioned to Lestrade that he needed to be on watch as his friend returned to health, for women wanting to take advantage. Since Watson is, in her opinion, an attractive man, and recently widowed less than a year past, he would be especially vulnerable in these days. Lestrade had found it extremely disconcerting his wife found another man attractive enough to make mention, especially seeing as that man had become a frequent visitor to his humble abode, but he was beginning to see his wife's caution was not misplaced.
The door opened and Watson was leading a young well-dressed woman out. "I still am not sure what seems to be wrong with your wrist, Miss Fortune, take those painkillers I prescribed and you should be fine." The other women in the waiting room had preened and straightened themselves out, they looked up expectantly as Watson's gaze ran over the available patients, his hazel eyes picking up a twinkle as they found Lestrade.
"Chief Inspector Lestrade, please come in."
Lestrade followed him into his office; he glanced back in time to see that his presence had not made him any friends in that waiting room.
"I should like to thank you for giving me an interruption to my day," Watson said in a lower tone as the pulled the door shut and leaned against it wearily. "If I have to diagnose yet another case of hypochondriasis I will need to write my own prescription! I put all of the brides-to-be on the same day so the sick that actually need me don't have to suffer them needlessly, but a fellow can only take so much perfume up his olfactory orifice before he actually misses the scent of a day old corpse." (1)
Lestrade smiled. He's not as oblivious as you think, Clea.
Watson perched on the edge of his desk; he was dressed in starched white shirtsleeves, black slacks as always with matching suspenders, his shoes polished to a high gloss. He was beginning to look healthier, his frame filling out, his skin showing that he had been outside more often. Lestrade could still see the ghost of the haunted man he had found two months previous when they began their work together, it was not entirely gone, which made his present task even more odious.
"I'm here on business, Doctor; there is a matter in which I need your assistance."
Watson's eyes went from friendly to penetrating and cautious, dissecting Lestrade with the particular intensity the man could bring to bear. "The fact you are here and have not sent a runner for me tells me that this is not a body on the ground. I see trepidation in you, but not from information you have to give, but for my reaction to it."
Lestrade grimaced. "How did you come about that conclusion?"
Watson's moustache curled up at the corner in a quick smile. "I have informed you that you have a tell."
Lestrade nodded. "Yes you have, but that guess was suspiciously detailed."
Watson gave him that enigmatic smile that could mean everything or nothing. "There is only one way to release yourself of this burden..."
Lestrade tried to think of a way to soften the blow, but he was not well versed in the arts of conversational subtlety. "We have a man posing as Sherlock Holmes all around London. He fits the description, the manner, and has shown flashes of the same brilliance of your former flatmate, as of yet we cannot catch him to find out his true identity."
Watson seemed stunned for a moment, but then he recovered his equanimity. "You have had imposters before, I have encountered more than my share, why is this man different? You are withholding Lestrade."
Lestrade cursed his "tell" and the man's unfailing ability to read him. "The difference is that this man is actually fighting crime, and leaving his card at the various scenes. He has convinced those who have crossed his path who knew Sherlock; they have become very adamant as to his identity."
Watson's face was neutral; he became as inscrutable as he did that night when he shocked Lestrade with that unexpected outburst. Lestrade felt trepidation, and preparing for any reaction. The one that he received was unexpected.
"Why was I not informed?" Watson's penetrating stare was back, focused on Lestrade, the tone in which he spoke was even, but the anger in his eyes was not.
Lestrade made his own read of the man's behaviour. With a flash of inspiration, he realized that Watson's anger was not at his exclusion from the circle, but that Lestrade felt he needed to be. "I saw no need for your particular proficiency in this matter, Doctor, there was no dead body to examine, or live officer that needed medical intervention."
The anger was still in Watson's eyes as he spoke, annunciating his words, "The fact I know Holmes better than anyone alive was not taken into account? I believe in that field I do have a certain expertise."
Lestrade was not one to take interrogation well, so he went on the offense. "What do you want me to say, Watson? I made a decision to keep you insulated from this affair, you have suffered far more than your portion and as your friend, I decided to spare you this. I make no apologies for that decision."
Watson's intensity did not lessen. "So, give me the letter."
Lestrade felt a chill down his spine. "Who said anything about a letter?"
Watson smiled just enough to set Lestrade more at ease. "You opted to remove me from this affair, something changed your mind, and apparently you feel it inevitable that I will encounter this man. The only logical conclusion is that there is a letter to me in your possession."
Lestrade glowered as he pulled an envelope out of his coat pocket and handed it over. "You are insufferably acute at times, you know that dear Doctor?"
Watson accepted the letter. "You sir, need to remember that I am not to be pitied or coddled if you wish our friendship to stay on good terms."
The two men stared at each other for a moment of silence, before Lestrade broke. "Read the bloody letter...please."
Watson's moustache barely concealed a smirk. "Since you have asked so very nicely, I shall oblige."
Lestrade watched as the other man gently opened the envelope, pulling it out with a pair of forceps he retrieved from his bag. He read the letter several times with the same intensity that Lestrade had seen him use with an autopsy. He examined it carefully, reading the simple four-line message calling him, My Boswell, and the ominously portentous, will see you soon. Watson held it up to his lamp. "It has a distinct watermark; this is stationary that Holmes preferred and the ink is the type he favoured. The handwriting is remarkably similar. It was handled with gloves and with care; there are no tell-tale smudges or fibres..."
Watson finally looked up. "This man is not Sherlock Holmes."
Lestrade let out a breath he was not even aware he had been holding. "How can you be so sure?"
Watson gave him that enigmatic smile. "Not important, I do, however, think we need to visit Mycroft."
Lestrade was taken aback at the sudden change in topic. "Why do you say that?"
Watson carefully folded the letter and replaced it in the envelope. He handed it back to Lestrade. "This man seeks to prove his identity, but he is being very careful with those whom knew Holmes intimately. I doubt he will seek me out until the situation is advantageous because he knows I will end the charade. However, he is seeking allies to back his claim. Mycroft and I are the two most likely to give disputation. I am willing to wager that he has contacted Mycroft indirectly as well, his missive may be more informative."
Lestrade accepted the letter and replaced it in his coat. "The problem with visiting Mycroft, is you do not show at the Diagones Club without being summoned. It is not done. I am a lowly Chief Inspector I do not have the authority to brave those doors."
Watson walked around his desk and pulled out an ornate card from the top drawer of his desk. "A summons like this one?"
Lestrade examined it and let out a gasp. "How did you come by this?"
Watson gave him that lopsided grin. "I have been receiving these twice a month for nearly a year."
Lestrade was appalled. "You have not accepted the invitation?"
Watson shrugged. "Holmes always said that you never accepted Mycroft's invitation on his terms, otherwise he will view you as a pawn instead of a player."
Lestrade traced the engraving on the card. "I am a civil servant, and that man can crush my career on a whim, I ignore him at my peril."
Watson gently accepted the card back from Lestrade. "He cannot do his worst to me; his oath to Holmes would not permit him. I will be the one answering his summons, there at his behest; you will be there in my company, which should insulate you from repercussions."
"I do not believe you weak, John." Lestrade blurted out.
Watson's eyes met his; there was an unfathomable understanding in them. "Neither do you see me as strong. We will continue in this manner only for so long before we reach an impasse."
Lestrade nodded. "I am aware."
Watson nodded, he retrieved his coat and hat, "Then we must proceed, the gentleman in question is not as stable as he appears."
Lestrade watched him prepare to go out. "How did you make that assessment?"
Watson paused pulling on his gloves. "You came for me Lestrade, you believe him dangerous as well, and your instincts are infallible in my opinion."
Lestrade felt a strange surge of elation, this validation was of a sort he never received from Holmes, and he was amused to realize that some part of him deep down had craved it. "I value your faith in me," he managed after a moment.
Watson finished his preparation; he laid a hand on Lestrade's shoulder. "You must learn to also have faith in me as well," he remarked.
He walked past Lestrade to give the bad news to his "patients" as Lestrade mulled over what Watson had said. He realized the man was correct, that raw confession Watson had made to Lestrade in a moment of weakness had coloured his treatment of the man whether he realized it or not.
Trust did not come easy to Lestrade, he was a cynical suspicious person at his heart, and that aided him in his chosen profession, but Watson needed to be trusted, it was essential to work with the man. Could Lestrade find it in his heart to rely on someone else whole-heartedly? Would Watson accept anything less?
With those heady thoughts ringing in his head, he turned to follow the doctor out.
Story Notes: Lestrade is starting to get annoyingly sentient as is friend Watson has already become. That sudden change in conversation, that blunt statement of fact, that has become Lestrade's Modus Operandi as it were. I tell my story from Lestrade's viewpoint but not from first person, so you can see the gears turning but you don't quite inhabit the chap. He and Watson are taking over my brain! Lestrade is less complex, but he has more rough edges, and he is more insistant to be about his business. I have checked into getting medicated by the way, I will hold off until I get these stories written though.
(1) This picture shows Watson displaying that pawky humor