a/n: You may have read chapter one already, I'm moving it from the 100 bees collection. Chapter two is a new chapter, from Watson's POV. Enjoy! ^^
What is this pain that makes itself so comfortable inside me?
A smile tinges my lips as I recognize the difficulty of cataloguing. It's a live thing--with no eyes or voice, but certainly alive inside me. A dark and slinking thing is my personified agony; it sinks into my stomach now, gnawing greedily on my innards.
I sit in my chair, drawing a deep breath and relishing my last scrap of power: no one need be aware of this internal anomaly. And really, what use would it do for anyone, even Watson, to know? Hope is a thing banished.
Am I in physical pain? An impossible question, for as Watson has reminded me ad nauseum, the body and mind are connected. Pain in the mind leads to pain in the body…I have suffered a severe shock to the mind, so it's natural I suffer physically.
But I find it drearily pleasant to think on obscure strands of philosophy—more pleasant than the sensation of my spirit withering and compressing within me, until it's little more than shoe-lining, while the rest of me is so entirely empty that a stone dropped in my head would clatter as it hit bottom.
A bitter laugh escapes me, and I am glad no one is present to hear it. Better it float into obscurity on the autumn air. It is indeed the season of death, I muse, glancing out the window; a branch bends over and feebly scratches a tally mark on the glass. Perhaps it is marking the falling of its leaf-children, withered and dead. Their grave shall be the undersides of shoes, until they are scraped off and discarded, the common fate. Everything that lives, must die: weed, flower, insect, beast…fellow man. I resettle myself, struggling to draw a deep breath.
I find myself increasingly agitated, I must pace. If I could see inside myself, surely there would be something looking like a black dye, starting at my brain and dissipating through my body, sifting down in liquid wisps and blackening every part of me, spreading like hoar frost, chilling me, numbing…I am worn with pacing and lie on the couch for a moment, pressing a pillow to my ear; every screech and honking I hear now from the automobiles in the street stresses and exhausts me further. Why had I chosen that particular hour for a walk around the block?
I am sick with fright, my entire back aches and I want a glass of water. I don't get up to pour it, though, I remained curled tightly on the couch, and perhaps I will remain here for all time. My breath dwindles to a faint flicker of wind in and out of my lungs; I press my forehead against the couch. The most gruesome and macabre acts parading through history are the threads that weave my main vocation—I'm simply no stranger to death and violence. Why, then, why has that sight, and those screams shaken me so badly?
The woman's scream had torn through my thoughts; a scream so hoarse with terror I couldn't make out the words. Coming straight on top of the scream—and of course I'd whipped around, so I saw it all too—oh god, was I really seeing this? Could it be possible the auto was not going to stop, to swerve away from that man? How was so much blood flooding across the street so fast? My breath stuttered in my throat as I watched the woman, still screaming, staring at the pieces of her former husband laying in pools of blood.
I do not know what I should have done, if the woman's sister had not dragged her away from the scene. I do not know what I could have done. I walked on from the scene, focusing my eyes on the street before me. My feet were heavy, my steps leaden…I was glad when I returned home and for some time I rested on the floor, just inside the front door. I found a nurturing comfort in sitting there, glancing out the opaque window and tracing my fingers around the ceramic floor tiles, seeing patterns in the white and black.
That was, of course, several hours ago. My heart has gone from skipping beats to beating with a dull, hot certainty—it throbs through my entire body, making me feel even more ill. My throat and mouth are painfully dry. I long so much for a glass of water that I sit up and look over the couch's back, toward the decanter. In a moment I will get up….in a minute….half an hour…
The door opens; he comes in, and looks at me strangely—with good reason, even to my mind the smile on my face is stiff and bizarre.
"Holmes, you look ghastly--let me take your pulse."
I wanted to grab his hand—that scared me, and I shook him off.
"I heard several people talking about…an accident nearby," he said quietly, after a moment. "I came by Piccadilly, but...did you see it, Holmes?"
I answered with silence, and he replied in turn with a glass in my hand. When he felt my icy fingers during the exchange, he brought my slippers. The gentle way he flexed my feet as he dressed them, for some reason, made it hard to swallow the brandy. I set aside the glass and closed my eyes, wrapping my arms round myself.
He leaves but comes back in just a moment, and sits beside me. "Look here, Holmes." He has a box of old daguerreotypes, and brings them out one by one, telling me the story behind each one. And as he offers stories, images and names in his steady voice, the horrible images and sounds of earlier are no longer plaguing me.
My arm goes around his back, I ask him a question concerning a relative of his, and I suddenly realize that it is not hope, but terror that was banished.