Title: Our Time is Running Out--Trap

Author: Felicia Angel

Characters: Holmes, Watson, Mary

Warnings: character death, mental angst/torment, sickness, hurt/comfort

Summary: AU for DYIN. Smith sends the ivory box to the Watsons instead of to Holmes

Author's Notes: I blame the fact that some part of my mind unconsciously realizes that most people, especially Holmes, will do what they must to ensure the safety of their friends and family. Plus honestly, Smith could've been such a better villain! Of course, so could a lot of the Holmes villains…*uses squirt bottle on rabid muses*

I also use the disease mentioned by Setu K Vora, MD, as what Smith might have used on Holmes from what Doyle described as Holmes' signs of illness. (www . ncbi . nlm . nih . gov / pmc / articles / PMC1279324 / for some of the information I got after falling over in fear and excessive terror...)

Inspiration comes from the Muse song "Time is Running Out"

(Now that you know I'm trapped
sense of elation
You'd never dream of
Breaking this fixation)

There was a lack of energy that I always identified with disease, or at least when one was under the thrall of one particularly virulent one, that I hated as I rose from my chair at the knock. In the bed, Mary lay, her breathing heavy and strained, her face and body gaunt from the loss of liquids and lack of food.

"yes?" My voice sounded more like sandpaper then a proper voice, and I had to attribute it to the fact that I hadn't gotten any water for a few hours, my time consumed with ensuring that Mary survived this onslaught. Her already delicate lungs was not taking well to the attack, and with such a disease as the one that, when named by the Doctor Walker, caused my blood to run cold, some part of me was already preparing for the worst, like it had during my illness after getting my wounds...

"I'm going to get Smith," Holmes's voice was muffled through the door, "I…if there is any way I can get him to confess, then perhaps we can force his hand."

I concentrated on breathing as I heard Mary's own becoming even more strained. "Do what you must, Holmes."

"Are you--."

"I'll be here, Holmes," I muttered, smiling slightly as I heard the deep worry in his voice, though I could not be sure if it was because of how sick I'd been only the day before or because the disease normally took all lives, only a few lucky ones surviving…

I heard him leave before, my strength ebbing, I went over to the bed, resting next to my Mary as she whimpered in pain, holding her up to attempt to aid her breathing. Some part of me knew the truth but could not accept it just yet, knowing Holmes was on his way and that soon, a possible cure would be within our grasp.

"is he—" Mary started, I shushing her as a harsh cough caused her whole body to shake.

"He's going to get the doctor. He'll be back shortly, Mary."

She was quiet for a long while, I starting to worry more and more before she finally spoke again. "wha-whatever ha-happens…john, I d-don't…"another coughing fit cut her off, then with a sigh she told me, "n-never blamed him. Tell him, john. P-promise."

"I promise," I told her, holding her close, "I promise. Stay with me, Mary. Please stay with me…"

It took a rather loud knock to get a quiet, almost defeated response from the other side of the door. "Yes?"

"You asked for me, Doctor Watson?"

"I…I don't know. I can't quite recall. Where is Holmes?"

"Inspector Morton wished to speak to him. I came here on my own, hearing you were sick, and Holmes hearing I was an expert in the disease you have."

There was a sound of someone leaning against the door, then sitting on the floor, almost as if falling there. "I…no, it's Mary. Mary's sick. This is…it's just a fever. Oh but it hurts, it hurts so much…" Smith waited calmly before Watson's voice, much quieter this time, came through the door again. "can you cure her?"

"I can."

"…you have to get the key from Martha, our maid…I can't…I can't quite…AH!" there was the sound of flesh hitting the door and a muffled whimper of pain.

"She isn't here."

"I…there should be one…"

Smith looked around as he said, almost as if having a simple conversation, "You're Mr. Holmes' only friend, aren't you?"

There was no answer, and after a moment, Smith continued, "You know, he was investigating my cousin's death. He seemed intent on ruining me, saying I'd somehow poisoned the blighter with a disease in order to gain the inheritance. It was rather rude of him."

"h-holmes c-c-can be l-like that."

"Hmmm. Still, he's not very nice about it. It'll take a retraction from him to ensure I have the career I was working for." Smith stopped in his search, walking back to the door and putting a hand against it before saying, "Tell me, doctor, did your wife receive a pretty ivory box a few days ago?"

"i-I'll ask her…" there was a stumbled attempt at standing and Smith, unseen by the man in the sick room, smiled at it before saying, "It's no matter. I know she did, if she does have all the symptoms of Whitmore's disease."

"w-whit—more's? but th-that's…"

"Impossible? Not so. It can be transported and given to a person in many ways. Like through a sharp spring in a box that one might pass off as a joke…"

There was no sound from the other side of the door, the pause long enough for Smith to straighten. "Doctor?"

"you blackguard…"

Smith laughed. "I fully intended it to be you who was stuck, though from the sounds I hear I can guess my motive was reached anyway. You should listen to me well, Doctor, for I will not repeat myself. Your wife's life depends on it."

There was a coughing sound from the other side, then a muttered, defeated sound. "wh-wha-what do you w-want?"

"That's better," Smith all but purred as he put his hand on the door again. "You will tell Holmes of what happened. You will tell him to drop his case against me, to retract all that he's said or insinuated against me, indeed, to even promote me as a wronged man, a simple misunderstanding due to coincidence, and a person who saved your life and the life of your beloved wife with my knowledge. If he does not, then I will send another package, this time to someone else. No, I will not specify who, but know that should I unleash this, it will take a good piece of London with it until he complies. I will make it known that it was because of his lies that my talent was capped, and he will fall into disgrace." Smith paused upon seeing the key nearby, having to turn up the lights to get to it. "Do you agree to these terms, doctor?"

"He does not," a cold, harsh and deadly voice said from behind Smith, causing him to turn as cuffs came upon his wrist and he faced the cold fury that stood out on Holmes' face, "but I shall make a grand witness in your trial. You may come out now, Martha, and open the door for Inspector Morton. He is no doubt waiting to take this…thing…away."

Smith snarled at Holmes as the detective quickly withdrew two marked bottles and a small syringe. A quick exam as the police took the criminal off his hands made the fury seem even deeper, an almost primordial thing come to life. "Did you intend to only dose one of them, Smith?" He violently took the key from the man and unlocked the door, letting out a small cry of "WATSON!" when the man himself tumbled into the main room, his breathing labored and sweat pouring off of him, soaking his collar and shirt and leaving him far too pale. Dark circles only added to the almost skeletal look that Holmes found on his friend, and he quickly rolled up one sleeve before starting to draw out half the antigen when something, perhaps a noise, perhaps something else, almost too subtle for most people to notice, made him look up at the bed where Mary Watson lay. His eyes turned watery as he looked at the unconscious form of his dear friend.

"Oh Watson," he muttered, drawing the rest of the cure and using it on his friend in the hopes it would not make things worse.

Watson was moved back to Baker Street, where Martha and Mrs. Hudson took over the task of caring for him as Holmes hovered, brought out of the sitting room only to take care of the paperwork of both a trial and a funeral. Watson's fever spiked on the third day and left all three members of the household doing what they could to bring it down, all three but mostly Holmes slumping over from sheer delight and exhaustion when it broke sometime around two in the morning.

When Watson woke the next day, it was to Mrs. Hudson explaining that Holmes and Martha had to give their testimony at the coroner's court, and that while Inspector Morton wished for his testimony as well, he'd said it wasn't the first thing that Watson should worry about.

Watson had thanked her, and for a little while seemed content to look at the fire and simply bask in the heat and comfort.

Then his brain reminded him of many things, and he curled in on himself and broke down as Mrs. Hudson held him like her own son, rocking him gently as he called for his wife.

December was a cold month, Holmes mused as he considered all that he had before him, his conscious eating at him. The odd criminal mastermind had continued to strike, but even he seemed surprised by the upcoming trial of Smith and all that had appeared in the papers. Perhaps he, too, was more then a little worried about what Smith had implied when he'd threatened Watson—

--as he lay in pain, doing as you asked, with his dead wife in the room—

Holmes called himself ten types of a fool and even more types of a horrible person as he leaned back, glancing over at where Watson lay on the settee. He was recovering slowly, the cold weather that normally was hard enough on him taking even more out of him and the loss of his wife having drained most of his reserves as well. That he'd been ordered by Doctor Walker to be dosed with various tonics to keep out cold and risk the return of the horrible disease was enough to convince Holmes that Smith should not just be hung, but drawn and quartered, his ashes scattered to the winds and, if he believed Eastern spirituality, his soul sent to the lowest level one could get. Of course, the idea of him going into Hell instead, one of the making of Holmes or some higher and crueler deity, also appealed--.

And what of you, who stirred that hornet's nest? Where shall you go, great detective? He only stays because he cannot leave, cannot return—

"She didn't blame you, Holmes," the soft voice brought him out of his thoughts and he looked back at Watson, standing to check on him and his temperature, which would also go up if not watched and cause a good deal of hovering from either Holmes or Mrs. Hudson, whoever found it first.

"Mary didn't blame you, Holmes," Watson muttered again as Holmes knelt before him, looking over at his friend.


"I do not either. You did not think that…that such a monster could attack us."

Holmes swallowed the lump in his throat, forcing his feelings of guilt and fear back. "no. I was certain he'd go after me."

Watson gave him a small smile, one of the first in nearly a month. "I know. They do go after you, don't they? I am hard-pressed to…keep you safe." Watson let out a sigh. "she would not have you depressed over this, Holmes. Please, for Mary's sake."

He had to swallow twice and put a hand to Watson's shoulder before he could answer. "Of course, my friend…for her sake, and yours, I would do anything."

By the time of the trial, Watson was well enough to speak. Smith, despite the obvious hate from the audience and all assembled, stayed calm, speaking simply that he'd done it because the world needed those ready to destroy others so the rest may survive. Mary Watson, he said, died because he'd been threatened in his life's work, in finding a cure for a deadly disease that no one else was willing to ensure was cured. He told Watson that he should feel privileged, that he should write up the fact that it was Smith's cure which saved him to speak at the trial, and if he did so, Smith would not take the answer to the grave.

Holmes had risen at the speech, Lestrade had made a half-hearted gesture to stop him while he himself moved, and Gregson had made even less of one. Hopkins, the newest of the group, was on his feet as if uncertain to join in the growing mob or find a way to stop it.

Watson, his voice quiet but heard over the cries of indignation and a few calls for Smith's head, was the one thing that caused Smith's calm mask to shatter.

"I would not write that up, or even agree to what you said, even if it meant I see her alive again."

The sentence was hanging, and Smith's destroyed and dejected look seemed to please the three-person mob, for they sat, Holmes quickly going to hold Watson's hand and comfort him as the villain was lead away.

"Can we leave now?" Watson's voice was even quieter now, as if speaking that one thing took out everything that had held him through the trial.

"Of course," Holmes said as Lestrade, Gregson and Hopkins went off, Hopkins to get a cab and the other two to push away the press.

Holmes did not speak, only offered his support, as they returned to Baker Street and Watson properly mourned his wife again.