A/N: I hate disclaimers. Of course I don't own Sherlock Holmes. Hence, this is fanfiction! As Holmes would say, it is ELEMENTARY!
Ode to my Beta: Thank you to my Beta, Chique52!
Her comma knowledge saves my life on a daily basis,
She fixes all my random spaces,
I'm not kidding. Really,
This fic was very very nearly
A bit of a fail, deserving hate mail.
Not for sale, undeserving of bail.
Her attention to detail has mended
This, which will not been blended
With the work of five hundred beers.
The woman's a miracle worker! Three cheers!
The life of a doctor is a harsh one.
To constantly battle with the forces of nature, of death itself, to save your fellow man from its sticky clutches.
Needless to say, I do not enjoy losing my patients.
I am aware I cannot win every battle...however much I might wish to. From time to time, my patients do not have it in them to struggle with death. I am no miracle worker; I cannot cure someone who does not want to be cured.
They have to want it.
They have to fight for it.
Over my many years as a doctor and a surgeon, both in Afghanistan and back in England, I have learnt to gauge the amount of willpower in the eyes of the injured. I have known a soldier recover from an amputation which took place during a battle, and I have known a similar soldier struck down by influenza and dead within three days, in his own home.
I have seen injuries where I believed nothing I could do would save the patient, yet they survived. I have learnt to believe in miracles.
No doubt Holmes would accuse me of doubting my own abilities. Or foolishly following superstition.
But I prefer to believe in the miracles of iron will and steely determination. My abilities would be useless if my patient had neither the will nor the determination to live.
Whenever I lose one of my patients, I cannot escape the feeling of failure and sadness, despite Holmes' constant assurances that it wasn't my fault. He often says I wear my heart on my sleeve, and perhaps that is true, at least to him. Holmes can read most souls like a book.
Yet he still remains a mystery to me. I, who perhaps could say without contradiction that I know him better than any other, am still very much in the dark when it comes to the world's greatest private detective.
As a result of knowing him more than most, I know of his vices...Cocaine abuse being prominent amongst them.
The idea of that drug disgusts me.
The thought of Holmes injecting it willingly into his veins makes me almost physically sick. Yet, I do not stop him. I try to persuade him, but I never stop him. He doesn't listen to me, and sometimes I ponder destroying his supply of the drug, stopping the habit that would destroy his great mind. But I never do it. It is purely an idle thought. Or, it was.
Because at this moment, that is the one thing I would like to do more than anything.
To just snatch that blasted syringe out of his hand and fling it out of a window or against the wall, grinding the shards into the carpet...I can almost picture the shock on his face. His normally peaceable Boswell shattering glass.
To protect him.
Only to protect him.
To stop that needle slicing through pale skin, to prevent it driving into waiting veins, to vanquish the drug before it latches it's slimy tendrils around my friend's mind.
The fact that he injects the seven percent solution willingly makes it all so much worse.
Why can't he see what it could do to him?
Why won't he listen to me?
Have the demons got such a hold over him that he cannot even hear reason? Can no longer hear the cold clear logic, facts and proof that he so praises above the softer emotions?
Time seems to stand still in the sitting room of 221B Baker Street.
Holmes breaks the silence, neither turning towards me nor moving the syringe away from where it is poised above the vein on his inner arm. His right arm today.
I do not reply. Disgust rises in my throat like bile, and though I swallow, the sickened taste still fills my mouth.
"I presume your silence means you lost your patient?"
Again, I do not speak.
Of course I lost my patient. That's what sparked all of this. That boy is why the taste of disgust is mingling with that of rage on my tongue.
Holmes sighs, in a rare moment of almost-emotion. "I am sorry Watson."
"No you're not." My voice is cold.
Holmes turns in his chair, frowning slightly. The syringe is raised away from his arm now, dangling in one cupped palm. It would be so simple to just knock it away...
"What do you mean Watson?"
I almost laugh, but my rage builds. "That boy died. I couldn't save him. None of us could. Five doctors crowded round his bed, but we could do nothing! Nothing!" I step nearer to Holmes, until I am within an arm's reach of that blasted syringe. "There was too much cocaine in him, and we couldn't remove it in time. He died. All because the fool thought he had to take drugs, even though he knew the risks! And then I see you." My eyes felt black with fury, disgust and pain evident in my voice. "I see you about to pump a seven percent solution into your arm! About to pollute your mind and damage your health!"
I grab his wrist, and his eyes are wide with surprise, but a flicker of understanding shines in their slate-grey depths. At any other time, I would have delighted in surprising the great detective, but at this moment I merely continue to shout at him.
Anger and frustration at his disregard for my advice over the years pours out of my mouth, poison directed at the drug in his hand.
"What if it had been you I was summoned to save tonight?!" I feel a familiar prickling of angry tears at the back of my eyes. "What if had been you I couldn't save?! What if you weren't as immortal as you seem to believe?"
"What ifs are nothing to base an assumption on!" I see his face colour slightly, and suspect I have touched a nerve. But I no longer care.
"It's not an assumption! It's the truth!"I shout back. "You know what this drug does to people! For someone who is supposed to have some modicum of intelligence, you still stupidly inject yourself with poisonous drugs! You have no respect for your own body!"
"What level of respect I have for my own body is my business is it not, Watson?" Holmes' voice is icy, and my anger blazes brighter. "It is none of your concern!"
I feel a brief pain as his words cut into me like knives. Not my concern.
In a fit of anger, I grab the syringe from his limp fingers, my cane falling to the floor from my other hand and I shove him in the chest.
Taken completely by surprise, he falls backwards, toppling onto the floor, his seat spread-eagled on the floor at his back.
His eyes are wide, but they manage to widen further as he sees my hand swing past my face, fingers releasing the small glass syringe of their own accord. I watch the glass connect with the wall and shatter into a million pieces.
Holmes remains half-lying on the floor as I grab every container of cocaine I can find, shoving them into my coat pockets.
I turn to go, and he almost winces at the anger that must show clearly on my face.
"You have no right-" He begins to speak, outrage breaking through his surprise.
My voice returns to a normal level, echoing indignation in every syllable. "Maybe not. But if you think that it's only you who would suffer if you killed yourself with this accursed habit then you are a selfish imbecile! "
His face clouds with confusion, and he almost looks like a child for a moment; a boy amazed by the disobedience of his favourite pet.
I do not permit myself a backward glance.
I stormed down the staircase and exited the building, and as I turned my back on the door to 221B Baker Street, I felt a piercing gaze fix on me. I would not give him the satisfaction of meeting that gaze. It was dark and deserted at such an early hour, so I resolved to walk rather than hailing a cab.
Deliberately, I began to walk briskly away, keeping my back to the window where I was sure Holmes stood.
It was five in the morning when I reached the river, and the bridge that stretched across its width. The area had long since resigned itself to sleep, and I reached the edge of the bridge, and carefully poured the drug into one small bottle, which I wrapped up in my coat filled with rocks and lobbed into the dark waters of the Thames. It was an old coat, and I had two synonymous ones at Baker Street, so I had few qualms about throwing it away, despite the chilly temperatures. It seemed almost like a martyr, a sacrifice that had to be made.
The remaining bottles were thrown onto the floor with some force, and those which did not smash were shattered by the rock I dropped on them all.
Feeling much more calm, though anger and disgust were still vivid in my memory, I began to walk slowly back through London. This brief relief lasted only for a few moments before it gave way to raw hurt.
I felt like a child, sitting by the river, aimlessly tossing pebbles and trying to ignore the tears that threatened to roll down my cheeks; tears caused by the combined guilt of losing a patient intertwined with the possibility of losing a dear friend.
Only once the sun rose, striking a golden chord across the murky waters, did I also rise to my feet, briefly wiping the residue left by my frustrated tears.
No doubt I was quite a sight on my way back through London, but by God's mercy, I met no one I knew. As if my tired eyes were not enough, bloodshot from a lack of sleep and red-rimmed, my bedraggled appearance from pacing the streets of London restlessly did little to enhance my image.
But by this point I was too tired and worried to care.
A/N:ii) Please R&R.