Disclaimer: Original story and characters are not mine, other than Mr. Ashton and Ms. Brindle.
Warning: Will be slash. Don't like, don't read.
Reviews are welcome, even if they are flames, provided it is within reason.
Set in Watson's POV.
Huge thank you goes to Strawberry-Green-Girl for her help with this. :3
And now, for your reading pleasure:
I slowly approach the bed, anxiety building. I'd seen him hurt before, heck; I'd usually been the one to treat him. Those times were different though. Those times he had led us into the danger, with me stupidly following. This time was different because this time I had been the one leading, and he had simple followed out of possibly loyalty, concern, or worry.
I reach the bedside and look at the figure lying there. The thing that strikes me as the strangest is how quiet he is. While awake he is always talking about one thing or the other. He does not look peaceful, tossing and turning, but he does not moan or mumble. He seems to be battling demons in his sleep. I watch, transfixed for a moment, as he turns one, then the other. Though he is only moving in mere centimeters, it is as though he were fighting off a large group of attackers. Every twitch causes the white hospital sheets to bunch, part of them having already been pushed off the small bed. I chuckle as I bend down to drag them back onto his body. He shifts even more restlessly as I do, so I gently lay my hand on his forehead. His moving stops and he seems to fall into a deeper sleep, though he still has a troubled look on his face. I seat myself in a chair beside the bed, prepared for a long wait.
As I watch my best friend doze in the hospital bed I let myself become absorbed in my surroundings. Shortly the smell of alcohol, both medicinal and cleaning faced, along with the sound of nurses bustling about as I am pulled into the memory of why and how we ended up here.
"Yes. You know I need you with me."
"Holmes, I said no."
"Watson, we both know that no matter how much you argue, the answer is going to be yes."
I glare at the man I call my friend, before sighing.
"Alright, fine. I can only help for an hour though; you know I have to meet Mary to begin making arrangements."
"Yes, yes. Come on then, let's go."
Holmes grabs his hat and sunglasses before quickly walking out the door. I toll my eyes at his childish behavior before following him, grabbing my hat and cane on the way out. I quickly follow Holmes into the cab, and we ride in silence to the mortuary, both lost in our own thoughts.
Lestrade had come to Holmes with yet another case that had stumped the men in the police force. The reason I was so necessary was that the case involved a dead man, with no obvious cause of death.
As we enter the mortuary Lestrade greets us apprehensively before asking us to follow him, his eyes begging me to not let Holmes wander. I glance over at Holmes, only to realize he is no longer behind me. I quickly glance about and see him going to investigate a different body than the one we are here to see.
"Come on then Holmes, you dragged me down here so you should at least help out." I calmly state.
Lestrade shoots me a grateful look as Holmes huffs and stops his prior investigation of the body he was at to move over to the one we are here to see.
"This is your area of expertise doctor. I was simply trying to stay out of y our way. I do, in fact, have questions for you Lestrade."
"Dr. Watson, if you will be alright on your own I shall leave you to the corpse while I answer any questions Holmes has." Inspector Lestrade says this, standing a wary distance from the corpse.
"That should be fine Inspector. Please do not wander to far Holmes; I shall undoubtedly require your deductive powers."
"Very well. I do believe you should begin; you haven't more than half an hour before you need to consult with Mary, remember." As he says this a slightly bitter tone enters his voice, and he develops a twitch in his brow as though suppressing a frown. I don't believe Lestrade noticed, but I picked up on it immediately due to both the fact that I have spent many years with him, being told to watch for small details such as those, and the fact that this happened virtually every time he spoke of Mary. I made a mental note to speak to him about this later as I nod curtly to him and turn to begin examining the body. As I go about my examination listen to holes and Lestrade, mentally filing away the information so as to make notes on it later.
"What do you know about the corpse? Has he a name; a place of residence; any potential enemies? I need facts Lestrade! I'm sure you can provide me with at least the basic knowledge of this case, can you not?"
"Yes sir, though the knowledge is limited. He was found lying in one of the fields on the outskirts of the city, he had not identification on him, and nobody has reported a missing person since the approximate time of death. We were called by the farmer who owns the fields; it is on of his most popular crops, so he checks it every two days. Due to the time of death the mortuary physician gave us it would suggest that the body was dumped on a day the farmer checks the field, but it was not reported until two days after that."
"So what you are telling me is that you and the yard have absolutely no evidence."
"I… That is to say… The farmer must have known about the corpse sooner than he actually reported it…"
"Ah, so you are saying that you suspect the farmer is involved? Answer me this Lestrade, if he was involved, why inform the police?"
"He would do it so as to not be suspected, of course." I insert. "Now then, if you are quite finished torturing the inspector, I could use your assistance."
Holmes huffs indignantly before walking over to the table. "I do not torture, I merely challenge. If he is not up for a challenge he should not be an inspector. You have to admit, the do have little to no valuable evidence."
"Yes, well that is the reason they have called you then, is it not? Tell me, what do you make of this fabric?"
"It is silk, quite high quality at that. This fellow must have lived in one of the manors in center square."
Lestrade draws slightly closer to the corpse, intrigued. "How can you be certain?"
"Note the smooth quality of his hands? The well manicured nails? This gentleman has not done hard labor for many, many years, if ever. Also, the only people with a large enough budget to afford this particular fabric live around the square."
Lestrade is clearly baffled, and Sherlock continues, examining the body as he goes.
"I can also tell that he has been married, but has since divorced, sometime in the past two or three years."
Lestrade interrupts again with "How do you know he is divorced? Perhaps his wife simply died."
I can understand his question, as people who do divorce become something of a scandal so it is quite uncommon. I can see Sherlock becoming disgruntled with the inspector though, as he does not enjoy being interrupted while explaining his deductions.
"That is a very good question, Inspector. The tan line around his finger can tell us. It is clear a ring sat there, but as it is not extremely pale, and has begun to tan, one can tell that the ring was removed quite sometime ago, roughly two years, as my colleague mentioned. If a husband loses their wife they continue to wear the ring as a symbol of respect and mourning, while a divorced man will rid himself of the ring as quickly as possible, so as to not have the physical reminder of it. From here it is a simple matter of memory. It is a simple matter to think if anyone from high society has died in the past twenty years. It is not difficult to remember that only a couple of deaths have happened, due to the extreme publicity they receive. Both of these deaths, however, were of ladies many years this gentleman's senior. From there we try to remember any divorces that have taken place in the last few years. If you recall, there have only been two."
"I recall only one case, as we were required to intervene. It was the case of Hempton v. Rathburn. Mr. Hempton was found guilty of beating his wife, and the courts allowed Ms. Rathburn to file for divorce if she so wished, even though it went against the norm. He was convicted of the beatings, and thus sent to jail, the divorce being finalized shortly after his sentence. What was the other?"
"The other, my dear inspector, was one that I simply recall due to being hired by the husband. Mr. Ashton hired me to explain the strange comings and going of his wife. Upon meeting his wife I informed him that she was having an affair. He was reluctant to believe me, and asked me to provide proof. I did so, and he immediately divorced her. You do not mean to tell me Watson, that this is our dear Mr. Ashton. I never forget a face."
"Nor do I Holmes. The simple answer though, is that this man has had severe facial surgery, probably out of fear. If either of you remember, the divorce was in the papers for a week straight, and amongst the mundane legal chatter, there were many death threats issued from Ms. Brindle, Mr. Ashton's former wife. The police force was prepared to take him into protective custody, when she suddenly disappeared. No one has seen hide or hair of her since."
Holmes slowly applauds. "Brilliant, Watson! You have effectively brought to light the identity of our corpse, and provided both a suspect and a motive. There is one thing you have failed to tell us my friend, the manner in which our poor Mr. Aston perished. I am sure your prolonged silence is to keep us in suspense judging by the gleam in your eye, so do continue Dr. Watson."
I chuckled good humouredly as Holmes' assessment of the gleam in my eye. I will let him believe it is due to my knowledge of what caused Mr. Ashton's death. He needs not know it is pleasure at his compliment, as they are few and far between.
"Indeed I do. Mr. Ashton was poisoned. It was a slow acting poison, however, which is what caused it to escape earlier detection. Observe the fine layer of foam now present in his mouth?" As I ask this I gently open his mouth with a tool from my kit.
"Due to the lack of marks anywhere on his body it would be an educated guess to say that he ingested it. It had probably been mixed with something he ate or drank. I will need to inspect the residence to determine what it was and what it was mixed with."
"Well there is no time to waste then, is there? Thank you for your assistant Lestrade, we shall keep you posted."
With that said Sherlock pivots on his heel and walks out the door, simply expecting me to follow.
"I don't know what we're going to do without you Watson, he will be completely unbearable. Thank you for agreeing to help him with a few more cases."
"You're welcome. I'm sure he will be fine, he is just moping about me getting married right now."
I give him a reassuring pat on the shoulder before quickly following Holmes out the door.
A/N: I already have half of chapter two written, so it should be up within the next couple of days. :3 Provided you want more of course. ;) And just for the heck of it, a lovely quote from Sherlock Holmes:
"No women wants to marry a doctor who can't tell if a man is dead or not!"