11,000 word badass mega-chapter!
A/N: The finale is here! The basic idea behind this chapter is two simultaneous conversations and therefore I am going to use third person narration, solely for my own convenience. And as Holmes and Watson are in different places during the majority of this chapter, there shall not be all that much fluff. Sorry. To avoid complete disappointment, I'll put some fluffy stuff at the end, how about that?
"Doctor Watson." The door swung back into place, metal handle swivelling slightly before slotting back into place with the customary click. Clasping his dark bowler hat in his fingers, Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard glanced around the room briefly before returning his gaze to Watson, whose gleaming blue eyes were just visible above the dim greying print of the newspaper.
The inspector's gaze was careful, lingering noticeably in the places where he expected Holmes to be; his chemistry table, the breakfast table, by the window... The lack of Holmes in any of the aforementioned places enabled him to discern that the consulting detective was out. So much the better. It was a delicate subject he wished to discuss.
Watson smiled in welcome. A fake welcome, but a greeting all the same. It wasn't that he particularly despised Lestrade; indeed, he had no such quarrel with the inspector. However, he was rather nervous about this confrontation, and still found himself barely able to believe that such bad luck had befallen himself and Holmes. Who could've guessed they would be discovered within the space of a day? After all the time Holmes spent mocking the police, it was almost shaming.
He tossed his newspaper onto the table, narrowly missing a trembling jar of jam in the process of gingerly edging its way towards the table edge, and rose to greet the inspector. "Inspector Lestrade." He paused, watching the other man's sweeping glances around the room before answering his unspoken question. "I must apologise, Holmes had some business to attend to this morning; I do not know for certain when he shall return."
Never had a truer word been spoken. When required, Holmes could easily vanish for hours, days, weeks, years... Watson jerked his thoughts back from memory lane. He had forgiven Sherlock, of course he had. But three years is a long time to forget, by any standards. No matter how valid the reason was, it was an agonisingly long period of time.
"No matter, no matter…" Lestrade seemed on edge. After all, this was not a situation he was accustomed to dealing with. Or indeed, being aware of. Ignorance was most decidedly bliss.
Well, in this instance. This instance alone, mind. His fingers locked around the rim of his hat in an impulsive response to tension. "It is you I really came here to see, Doctor."
"Well by all means, do have seat." Watson gestured at the couch, sitting opposite in the chair next to Holmes' own.
Speech lapsed and seconds passed, slowly stretching into minutes. Watson fought to control his nervous apprehension. After the events of the night before, it was now blatantly obvious that Lestrade had seen them in the cab. Whatever his motives for coming here were, Watson was not going to speed up the revelations.
One comforting thought that occurred to him was the small conciliation that at least Holmes wasn't here. If Lestrade was planning to arrest him he could do so, provided he did not lay a finger on Holmes. Watson was proud of his loyal nature and determination to remain true to his friends- especially Holmes. For obvious reasons. Not to mention it made his strategy far easier if it did come to court. It would be easy to present Holmes as the victim; his slight build would deceive that Holmes would ever agree. An impossible battle of wills would doubtless ensue yet again, as it did so oft, mostly regarding matters of drug abuse and other such health concerns.
Lestrade was quietly confident in the conclusions he had drawn, as he always was. And to his credit, some of them were correct. On occasion. But he was also, at this moment, rather confident of success. Had Holmes been seated across from him as well as his faithful sidekick, he might have been less sure of success. Holmes did seem to delight in kicking down his carefully constructed conclusions, jabbing holes into the mortar and pointing out minor flaws in the brickwork. As much as he admired the good doctor's skills as a medical man, he was not a deductive genius.
Lestrade liked to flatter himself that he had some degree of understanding in this 'art', as Holmes calls it, in his official capacity as one of the forerunning detectives of Scotland Yard. Therefore, he liked to believe that others thought the same, excepting Holmes, who was quite plainly at variance with this view. This, Lestrade assured himself, was due to Holmes' own incredible arrogance and disregard for the many conformations of society. But it was Watson he needed to remind of society rules at the present moment… He saw it as part of his duty to give him warning.
"I shall be honest with you, Doctor Watson, as I must admit I greatly respect your skills as a medical man, and in the hope that you shall be frank with me in return." Lestrade evaluated Watson's expression, which was neutral and almost inscrutable. That was immaterial. He already knew the answer to the questions he would put to the doctor, no facial expression was necessary. The proof was there, lingering between the two of them. And they were both well aware, while feigning ignorance, making stabs in the dark that they could then gradually lure to the point, as though by accident.
Watson knew that Lestrade had paused for an answer, but did not oblige him. Consensus would be equal to signing a blank cheque, something no sane man would ever do. He was not going to be the first to show his hand, so to speak. The inspector would have to drag it out of him before he would confine Holmes to such degrading prejudice. Realising that his quarry was not going to respond, Lestrade straightened his spine and continued.
"Last night, I happened to glimpse you in a cab near Scotland Yard." Beat. "I am not naive enough to ask explanation or excuse, I merely ask you, as your friend, to remember the rules of our society."
Lestrade was tremendously fond of rules. They gave him guidelines, restrictions and protocols to help him through patches of turbulence that his work inevitably threw up. From the mildest courtesy to the law itself, all built a structure within which all of England could co-exist in peace. When the structure began to crumble, be it by accident or by the express intent of criminals or innocents drawn into the dark web encircling the criminal classes, he feared for all of mankind. All on God's earth would be in danger of being pulled into such a world of confusion, disorder and ruthless irregularity that no force could save all those in need. The apocalypse, in short.
Watson fancied he could almost hear the world crashing down around his ears. Splintering, shattering, slipping away into a spiralling abyss, leaving him helplessly floating in a void of bemusement, lurching towards the steely cliff edge of panic...
No. He had to pull himself back. Back to reality. It wasn't the apocalypse, after all. Not quite yet. And he knew that, at the risk of sounding clichéd, when that dangerous day did finally arrive, he would have his own angel, who no Devilry could possibly hope to destroy. Not even the most devious servant of Satan would stand a chance against Holmes. Had the situation been more relaxed, a smile of sheer affection would have formed on Watson's face. Perhaps it was better that it didn't.
~Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~
"Sherlock. Sit down."
As always, his brother's greeting was more of a command than an affectionate salutation. Not that Sherlock Holmes ever expected any different. It was simply the way Mycroft conducted himself. He was Jupiter, after all. Thus, he was accustomed to giving orders, disguised vaguely as suggestions, to the suggestible. For example, the Prime Minister. Although Sherlock was hardly suggestible, it had always been integral in Mycroft's persona; the commanding tone, authoritative uses of flattery and minor suggestibility to manipulate and the impressive or astounding mounds of data piled high in the quarry of his cranium.
Sometimes, it seemed that Mycroft could simply be a container, a giant gorge in which to bury information, an infinite bank of memories, converting all observations into fact and back again. No wonder he had done so well as an academic. Black or white, fact or fiction, true or lie. Mycroft Holmes defied the very existence of discrepancies, emotional involvement and grey areas of unsure jurisdiction.
The summons itself was perfectly ordinary. Sherlock been able to assist in a case for Mycroft a few weeks before, and was now delivering the results. One small envelope placed on the small, square table at his brother's right hand. He would read it later, Sherlock had no doubt. Had they been able or willing to express brotherly affection, perhaps he would have mentioned how he trusted Sherlock's verdict enough to simply pass it on without reading. It was unspoken. Mycroft did not say it, Sherlock did not hear it. But they both understood the gesture. And both knew no one outside of their spheres of isolation could ever truly comprehend such small trifles and their attached meanings.
To be seen, not heard. To think silently, not speak out rashly. To achieve, not boast. Restricted, with no hope of rebellion. And as such, unable to express to even those closest to them in mentality – each other – who had shared the same upbringing and even resembled each other in personality and intellect, anything that a normal man would recognise as affection. How cold they must seem, Sherlock had often thought. How blunt, unfeeling and emotionless they appear. Many times, he had contemplated these things, and each time arrived at a synonymous conclusion. Mycroft had not found his Watson. Sherlock had John.
And that was the difference.
"Well done Sherlock." Again, the words were not really praise. They were intended as such, Sherlock knew. As the elder brother, Mycroft felt it necessary to praise his younger sibling, but still the words contained no warmth. Just the blustery Mycroft that Holmes knew so well. It was at times like these that Sherlock was forcibly reminded of their father. For all his temper and restrictions, he had felt some parental form of affection for the boys. Many had worried they felt unloved or unappreciated. Sherlock did not recall ever feeling that. He had not been neglected. But he had also never been openly shown affection. The feeling was there. It was simply hidden.
Sherlock considered the possibility that, perhaps due to some unknown genetic trait, there was but one other soul for each Holmes to unburden their soul to. One person to trust implicitly with who they truly are. And again, Mycroft had not found his. Although even if he had, he would not have mentioned it to Sherlock. They were not that type of family. Silent, but not hostile. Impatient, but not rash. Close, but not touching.
Mycroft surveyed his brother with an expression that rested somewhere between intrigue and fatigue. Years in a club with men almost as unsociable as he himself had significantly reduced his ability to speak to many people for any substantial length of time. Sherlock, his younger brother, in whom he saw so much of himself and his mother, was easier than most. Because he understood. He recognised what unspoken trust meant.
He comprehended why Mycroft would never say it aloud, but would show his pride in his requests. They both knew. But today, Sherlock was positively shining. Always the more intense and active of the two - although Mycroft admitted it was hardly a contest - he seemed more vibrant and alive than most of Mycroft's acquaintance, but today even more so. The brotherly intuition that men openly scoff at but secretly trust tapped into the odd sort of elation reverberating from the younger Holmes. "You seem to be in good spirits, Sherlock."
"Do I, brother?" Sherlock's tone was almost disinterested. A rather transparent attempt to avoid scrutiny. His thoughts were slightly distracted at present. He was wondering whether he should have joined Watson for breakfast for more than the time it took to grab three slices of toast. That was probably what most people would have done. But the amusement in Watson's eyes told him he bore no grudge. He'd deliberately arrayed the remaining food around Watson's plate beforehand, but was that enough? Perhaps someone like him could tell, could understand, but would Watson read the unspoken gesture as the understated attempt at expressing affection that it was attempting to be?
Mycroft's gaze became one of intense concentration. Sherlock recognised that look and steeled himself against its piercing blade. Or rather, attempted to. There was only so much he could hide. His face perhaps, but the miniscule signs of all else about him would not vanish if he squeezed his eyes shut. This was Mycroft's evaluative stare, which allowed him to drink in facts and observations like a treasured bottle of claret, left to mature for decades.
The sweeping glance that neatly and precisely evaluated every piece of data available, fitting them together in the blink of an eye, reasoning at the speed a starving man devours bread. A dark and almost hungry steely stare, fixing him in place as Mycroft calmly broke apart every particle of his being, from the sole of his left shoe to his right cufflink, transmuting it all into numbers, digits, facts, passing them across his mental filter like a gold pannier in a stream, allowing the superfluous details to fall through the gaps while the remainder slot into a golden puzzle of observation, logic and reason.
Sherlock was not a man easily intimidated, but the bravest of men would have quailed before the penetrating stare and the fiery determination it portrayed. A kindred spirit Mycroft might be, but he was also a machine. A mechanism, devoid of ambition and sedentary by distinction. But a mechanism capable of noticing everything, and divulging secrets without lifting a finger. That entire concept was enough to cause the bravest to quail, quake and tremble in their boots.
The weapon that prompts the most fear in others is always the mind.
Normally, Mycroft would not openly pry into Sherlock's privacy in such a manner. As an older sibling, he felt a certain level of inherent protectiveness although he did respect his brother's ability to avoid death for extensive periods of time. It was simple to divine whether or not Sherlock needed assistance, and even easier to secure such an escort from those under his control. Most notably, intelligence. Sometimes Mycroft wondered if his position as a superior of Intelligence was an attempt at humour by the political overlords. They had little else to do to occupy their time.
His eyes returning to their usual state of mild apathy, Mycroft leant back in his chair with a sigh. "Come now Sherlock, surely something that can put you in such great spirits as this merits discussion?"
"I am not in any particular spirit at present brother." Sherlock folded one leg over the other, not breaking eye contact. They never truly grew out of the contests to see who would look away first, although as a child, Sherlock had often won. Much to his consternation however, Mycroft had a knack for breaking eye contact, while also attaining the airs of victory. To any who had not been watching, it would have seemed the elder Holmes had won.
Mycroft's chuckle was deep and yet also strangely light hearted. "Well, a game is it then Sherlock?" Without waiting for an answer, he continued with a faint smile on his face. "Very well, I shall humour you." The mild humorous tone was underlined with a faint challenge, visible in the eyes fixed on Sherlock's own.
With a far more violent laugh at this, the younger Holmes rested his arms on the sides of his chair and returned his gaze to his brother. "Deduce then, brother mine." His eyes glittered slightly in the glow of pale light spilling onto his left shoulder, like vapour from the infamous Reichenbach Falls. He veiled his secret anxiety that Mycroft might succeed in his objective- as all good actors do- and smirked in what appeared to be calm confidence.
"The game is afoot."
~Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~ Shwatsonlock~
Lestrade paused. His fingers relaxed slightly on the rim of his hat, for fear he was going to crumple or dent it. Not dignified. And bowlers were not cheap at present. So he waited, eyes fixed on Watson in his best imitation of a piercing, knowledgeable stare that could pierce through all human defences, break open hearts and spill their secrets onto the floor in one swift glance.
Watson forced his eyes from the floor, fighting the invisible force of dread dragging him down into the depths of despair, and met Lestrade's gaze. His first observation was that the inspector looked as though he was in pain. Likely a headache. Well, he could deal with it. Reminding him of society rules, indeed!
A brief gleam illuminated Watson's irises, as light darts across a blade. Visible for a split second, but in the short space of time it was present, it drew Lestrade's gaze. Not being overly acquainted with Watson and his moods, Lestrade did not fully recognise what emotion it denoted. For a moment it almost seemed some manner of agitation. Rare as it was for him to see any indignation or aggravation in Watson's features, Lestrade back-tracked soon after noticing this miniscule sign.
Not out of fear but out of respect for Doctor Watson, who he thought of as a useful ally in his war on crime – a war Lestrade was convinced he was leading, as Wellington at Waterloo, to a successful conclusion any day now – and he had no wish to alienate him. Not least because, knowing Holmes' slightly childish temperament, he would likely also be less than co-operative.
"I do not mean to pry, Doctor. As I said, I am only here as a friend."
Friend - perhaps. Regardless, Watson fumed silently. It was obvious that he meant to pry. If he didn't, he would not have come in the first place. Or presumed that Watson would simply listen to him like an obedient minion of the Yard. Holmes was the only one permitted to presume his responses to such things, solely because he...well, he was Sherlock Holmes. What other reason was required? But John Watson did not take kindly to being bid to rethink possibly the best decision of his existence over some trifling social concerns by an inane inspector.
Therefore, Watson raised an eyebrow, maintaining a visage as blank and expressionless as the pale pages of the pristine notebook presented to him on Christmas day the year before, still lying untainted by ink on the writing desk.
He was waiting for something special, something to befit such a pleasing deep red leather notebook, the leaves within a perfect thickness for his pen; effortlessly elegant as it was, Watson had resolved not to tarnish it's pure pages with his cramped and illegible handwriting until a time when the matter behind his writing was of significant importance to merit such vandalism.
"You must forgive my ignorance Inspector, but I fail to see what exactly you suspect I have done to merit this warning."
Pure bluff, naturally. Watson was determined to shake Lestrade's confidence in his conclusions, somehow persuade him away from the truth, luring him into the mists of confusion that covered the pitfalls of folly on the moor of bemusement. That was the only way, save a rather clichéd attempt at self-martyrdom that would make most romance novelists cringe with shame, to ensure Holmes remained out of Lestrade's grip.
Meanwhile, Lestrade's gaze also hardened. He had rather hoped Watson would simply accept his mistake, and he could resume his blissful ignorance of the inner workings of Watson's life. He'd have preferred to get the whole thing out in the relative openness of veiled conversation and vague insinuations, but the doctor was just not willing to play along. Other tactics were needed. Despite his personal qualms, Lestrade's tone now carried an air of warning which seemed to hang around their heads, like the sword of Damocles. (1)
"Doctor Watson, I shall not beat about the bush any further. Upon my journey to the event at Scotland Yard yesterday evening, I happened to spy you and your companion in an intimate...situation. I was merely checking to ensure you were not allowing yourself to be led astray."
The words spun around inside Watson's skull in seemingly never-ending circles. Perhaps another tactic would have been preferable, but it was too late to contemplate such things now. Regret did more harm than good in these situations. He had tried. It was evident that Lestrade's patience was wearing. All Watson could hope for was that Holmes would be left to continue his work in peace.
Watson swallowed a lump that seemed to have spontaneously materialised in his throat. Quite why it felt the need to do so, he did not understand. Irksome reflex. Completely pointless. A sudden wave of sorrow swept over him, as though a wave had literally crashed down onto his head, leaving him soaked in the waters of faint hopes, shattered, liquidated and slapped into his mind by the forceful hand of regretful hindsight. The contents of these idle meanderings lapped at his mind, drawing his attention from Lestrade's piercing stare and worry of discovery and repercussions.
As his gaze drifted to the wall behind the inspector, Watson felt as though his mind was flying through the plaster, out into the sky and to the world that could have been, a small window into all that he would miss.
The texture of shirt fabric beneath his fingers, smooth and crisp. The material sliding easily beneath his palms, tracking outlines of bones and muscles beneath. Tracing a form that would not seem conspicuous in a museum of ancient marble statues, resplendent and gleaming in pale light. A warm presence at his back, seemingly bound together in a cocoon of warmth and duvet, the sense of elation and quiet peace that accompanied this image enough to form the last scene of many a romantic novel, or the daydreams of an idle schoolgirl. The simpler thoughts of return to Baker Street with a sense of someone present, waiting, caring. Affectionate greetings, snatched moments of peace amongst the restless throng of everyday life, the haven the rooms might provide as a refuge, out of sight and beyond reach of any others. The sillier ideas, of Christmas, presents exchanged, attempts made at decoration- mistletoe. Moments of amorous attentions snatched and treasured thereafter. Or longer moments, dimmed lights and privacy, hidden from the world's harsh gaze, an ecstatic island in the centre of a dreary sea. That violent laugh that Watson could recall so well, the taut violin strings coaxed into symphonies, harsh breathing in his ear; the lines of a smile, so faint that they were barely noticeable, around the corners of Holmes' pale mouth. The thrill present in the detective's eyes, the feverish, pent-up energy quaking in his limbs and the actions, movements spontaneous and bordering on the unpredictable, all so familiar to Watson. He had seen them many times over the years spent as Holmes' biographer. Even the black moods, regular insensitivities and distasteful twist at the corners of his mouth as he scorned Watson's latest work of "romantic fiction" would be sorely missed. Mutterings at inadvisable moments to turn Watson's pale face to scarlet, heated explorations that would now never be fulfilled. Never to completely, utterly, entirely transform the connection into physicality...
Realising that it was most distinctly and decidedly inadvisable to let his thoughts continue much farther in that direction, Watson wrenched his mind back to the present, and the cold eyes of Inspector Lestrade seated opposite.
"I can assure you Inspector that I have no intention of being led astray." Watson's voice was as ice, jagged and frozen, tone inadvertently betraying his discomfort. Lestrade detected this, but passed no comment. A faint smile crossed his face, and Watson's own spirits plummeted still further.
Mycroft's eyes fixed on his brother. Again, the game they had oft liked to play as children - observing people and deducing details of their lives, declared with a theatrical flourish and brushed aside as a matter of course – was in progress. Probably not a game which many children would devise. But they had never been among many children. Mycroft would have despised that. He was a solitary creature- other people had very little input into his existence. For one reason, many of them were inane and irksome. For another, he did not have the time to waste when facts demanded his attention.
Facts involved that lesser quantity of physical exertion. Facts did not talk back or make puerile comments. Facts did not demand some manner of emotional attachment, or the balancing of time spent with each. Therefore, they were far less troublesome than children.
A familiar competitive spark was clear in Sherlock's shining grey eyes, but Mycroft merely noted this briefly. It was both incredibly immaterial and entirely expected. He would question his brother and observe his responses. He knew Sherlock well enough to detect falsehood in his tone, he supposed. Then all that remained was to fit the details together, and let their pieces form the picture with which to furnish his mind. Sherlock Holmes waited in silence, already anticipating Mycroft's strategy. It was the one that required the minimum amount of physical exertion, after all. Not to mention it was his more habitual stance when it came to these games. Quiet, subtle questioning; not for the answers given, but for the answers displayed on one's visage.
The younger man kept his expression neutral and waited for the first question, resisting the urge to tap his fingers on the velvet arm of the chair. That might give his brother a clue to his secret nerves. If there was one thing neither brother would ever permit, it was another being given a hint towards hidden weaknesses. These hidden weaknesses, surrounded in subterfuge and silence, were swathed in these cobwebs of disguise for a reason.
"You have not had any case, save my request, for at least a week." It was a statement, but Sherlock inclined his head slightly regardless.
"No brother, I have not."
Mycroft leant back in his chair, elbows resting on the armrests to either side of him. "Then I deduce that it must be something more personal."
Almost imperceptibly, Sherlock's jaw tightened. He hastily relaxed it at once as he realised his reflexive action. He did not speak, and irritation grew within his mind as Mycroft's eyes glowed briefly with minor triumph.
Perhaps this had been a rather bad idea, but Sherlock Holmes was not one to concede. He would outwit his brother. Sherlock remained silent, aware that his miniscule reflexive action had already given his brother a minor clue or advantage to the real cause. Emotional involvement was a truly exasperating hindrance.
"I see." There was a pause as Mycroft surveyed his brother's attire again. Hair slightly disordered, and his mind informed him that there had not been winds of any great magnitude that morning. Implication: messed and briefly combed before journey, indicating a hurry of some sort. Likely a delay or unexpected development. And as to what had caused the slight disarray... A smirk grew on Mycroft's face. "Even the greatest of us fall, do they not, Sherlock?" A raised eyebrow accompanied this smirk, and Sherlock mirrored the action.
"Fall prey to what precisely, brother?" Sherlock kept his tone light and slightly intrigued.
"Love, Sherlock. Love." Mycroft's smile grew broader as his brother did not permit himself to reply, even by the slightest movement. It assured him that his conjectures were correct. "So who is the femme fatale?"
Made slightly uncomfortable by a faint, veiled twinkle in his brother's eye, Sherlock paused briefly before replying. "The thrill of the game is in the discovery, not the confession, is it not brother?" Again, that twinkle of some secret amusement, taunting Sherlock, who could not quite place what this beguilement was directed at. How irksome.
"Naturally." Mycroft did not permit himself a chuckle as his senses collected data. Most primarily, his nose. Exactly as he had suspected.
Clearing his throat deftly, Mycroft discerned a mild irritation in his brother's eyes. Doubtless it stemmed from his failure to identify what he found so entertaining. He would know soon enough. "Well then Sherlock, when did you meet her? I would wager you will have known her for some time before allowing her to so dishevel your appearance..."
Sherlock's mind delighted at Mycroft's assumption. Hah, he would enjoy leading his brother down this erroneous track. He was safe from discovery while Mycroft blundered in the thickets of folly. He could allow himself to relax, marginally. After all, it was still possible that Mycroft might fathom it, but if he maintained his composure, Sherlock was sure he would emerge victorious. "I would deem our acquaintance to have been of a decent length, yes."
Mycroft nodded, without his eyes seeming to move even slightly. "Years then?"
His brother nodded. "A fair few." Not counting the three years out of contact. And a fair few was definitely an understatement, which he averted by mentally adding the word decades to the end. A fair few decades was perfectly correct. And a damn long time that could have been far more pleasurably employed- he broke his thoughts off in mid-stream and returned his mind to the game at hand.
Mycroft leant forward slightly in his chair, evaluative gaze slipping slightly. "Very well then Sherlock, describe her to me."
Steering clear of any physical traits that could give away the gender of "her", Sherlock instead chose to speak at length of a generous spirit and a selfless loyalty. His brother watched carefully as his brother's eyes seemed to dance briefly, as he had observed many others in such a state of emotional turmoil to do. Much to Mycroft's amusement, Sherlock had inadvertently replied with the same traits he emphasised in conjunction with his friend, Doctor Watson.
Unaware of his slip, Mycroft did not inform him by any outward expression. That would rather ruin his plan.
"Very well Sherlock. And where did you meet her?" Mycroft's eyes narrowed as he realised his brother had never fully informed him of the manner in which he became acquainted with Watson. Rather irksome. Mycroft did so enjoy cross-referencing...
"An introduction by a friend." Sherlock waved a hand airily. That much was true, but he could hardly saw they both sought apartments- that would give the game away in a second. He balked at lying outright to his brother- that was hardly sporting- and so again twisted the truth. "I was in a position to find her a situation." Vaguely true. A situation might imply a woman's employment, but it could also no doubt be used in conjunction with Watson. Perfect.
Mycroft's face became unreadable. "Interesting." A situation. Hm. Had Mycroft been a less self-assured person, he might have begun to question his conclusions, but instead he merely continued to observe. At the crease of Holmes' right shoulder, a miniscule fibre. The hat hanging on the stand by his office door was also a point of interest. "I trust I am permitted to inspect your headgear?" He rose before receiving an answer, striding over to the door slower than Sherlock would in his stead. After all, he could hardly be described as energetic.
Sherlock's mind objected, but he did not voice this minor doubt. Refusing would prompt further suspicion. Besides, the exercise would do Mycroft the world of good. "By all means."
Twirling it between his hands, Mycroft flipped it over, examined the rim. Faint impressions of fidgeting fingers, too large to be Sherlock's own. Hair, wrong colour for Sherlock. "I presume there is a reason for Doctor Watson's hair...?" Mycroft allowed himself the satisfaction of a smirk, while keeping his back to his brother.
"Of course." Sherlock's composure did not falter. Mycroft had been correct in his assumption. "We were attending a costume ball at Scotland Yard, and we had resolved to attend as one another."
"Innovative." Mycroft muttered, replacing the hat on the peg and returning to his seat.
"I purely intended that statement as friendly advice!" Lestrade blustered briefly.
Watson's churning irritation seethed more quietly. "I appreciate the intention Inspector. But forgive me if I find such advice rather superfluous." He returned his voice to the normal level, free of anger. It would not help his cause to start shouting at the Inspector.
"Nevertheless, I felt you should hear it." Lestrade surveyed Watson carefully. He had a feeling the Doctor's indignation was not in defence of solely himself.
Watson nodded. "I appreciate the intention." He repeated, numbly, resisting the impulse to soar back into the world of imagination, fantasy and inescapable regret. Anything was better than the waiting. It was intolerable now that his anger had diminished. But it was the Inspector's duty, was it not? And confession was hardly a preferable outcome. Most decidedly not preferable.
Lestrade rose and walked a few steps to the window, Watson watching his every move with the air of a defensive animal. "Doctor Watson, I feel I have not made it clear what I came to warn you of. I would not like you to attain the wrong impression."
Watson said nothing for a moment. It was true; he was not sure whether the Inspector was here as the friend he claimed to be or as a police officer attempting to stamp out the "deviancy" that he - and by extension, Holmes - would be branded as. As ambivalent as his feelings were about wanting a decisive answer, mostly for fear of the latter being proved true, Watson would not shrink from fear.
He rose to his feet, entire posture speaking of his years as an army doctor, a military man, a surgeon. A respectable individual.
Watson did not face Lestrade directly, as the Inspector turned from the dim windowpane. "Inspector Lestrade, I would appreciate your honesty in this matter."
The words seemed sincere enough to the Inspector's ears. He watched Watson's profile carefully, as a bookie surveys an outside chance.
Lestrade cleared his throat sharply, for no better reason than to give him time to devise a way to broach the subject with Watson, who waited patiently in silence.
After a few moments, Watson turned to meet the Inspector's gaze, who appeared to have been waiting for him to do so, as a school master might command a disobedient pupil to look him in the eye whilst delivering the customary lecture on not throwing inkwells at younger students, or not running in hallways lest they collide with an elderly master and break their legs. Not an image that Watson was particularly willing to apply to this situation.
For one thing, he was not a disobedient pupil. If following one's heart was such a crime, surely the system itself was in the wrong. To Watson, the heart and mind were what God had intended to be made in "his own image", not the physicality of the human body. For the human body, he had to admit, was subject to far too many flaws to be the work of any great deity.
The human heart, soul, mind and spirit on the other hand, were immaculate, immeasurable and indestructible.
And so he waited in complete silence. A silence that seemed to stretch for an eternity, echoing what Watson had previously imagined his future to be when devoid of Holmes. As it would have been had Reichenbach been what it first appeared. No energetic or eccentric detective hauling him along to case after case, driving him forcibly out of his lethargy.
Although Watson did not appreciate being driven out of his lethargy at the obscenely early hour of half past three. That was bordering on excessive.
Watson's head rose from where it had drifted to the right, observing the breakfast table, and back to meet the Inspector's gaze, as he turned from the window with a smug expression on his face.
Confident and self-assured in his convictions, Lestrade advanced a step towards Watson and faced him directly, a slight smirk on his face.
Doctor John Watson could only wait in mild trepidation.
Sherlock Holmes waited for his brother to seat himself before speaking. "Mycroft, have you had sufficient data with which to form your conclusions now?" He could not help the smirk that curled the side of his mouth at the word.
Mycroft was so far down the wrong path due to his assumptions that there was little doubt in the younger Holmes' mind that his brother would have lost his battle. There was very little chance, if any, that Mycroft could deduce the object of his affections from those questions.
"Just one more question Sherlock, if you would oblige."
Mycroft rested his fingers together as his brother did the same, before lowering his own to his lap. Sherlock's remained where they were, elbows resting on the arms of his chair and eyes gleaming with expected victory. Sherlock thought he had him fully ensnared in his trap. The eternal trap of assumption.
How wrong he was. "I would merely like to know what your future intentions are."
The question caught Sherlock off-guard. He had scarcely thought about the future. "I am not wholly sure."
Mycroft's booming chuckle preceded his reply. "Come now Sherlock, surely you have considered something. Children? Retiring to family life in the country? A brief voyage to Paris?" His dark eyes twinkled with regalement. He had difficulty imagining Sherlock in any such pursuit. Most particularly the former.
As expected, Sherlock's eyes displayed brief horror, before noticing the joke in Mycroft's eyes. "Amusing brother. Very humorous."
"Well Sherlock, what is your answer?" Mycroft's amusement was now also visible in the smirk on his face, especially as the younger man mimicked the same expression. It was doubtless something they both received from their father, the Holmes smirk.
Sherlock Holmes sighed. "Well, no children of course. I fear the responsibility for continuing the family line must fall to you, brother Mycroft." Mycroft snorted at this, but made no other comment, waiting for his brother to continue. "Retirement would not suit me. And I hear Paris is frightfully cluttered these days by those who butcher the old masters and replace galleries with areas of disreputable repute."
At this comment, Mycroft openly scoffed. "Perhaps I should mention that to the foreign secretary, Sherlock."
Sherlock's smile seemed almost pointed. "Non-attributable if possible, brother."
But his thoughts were drifting down another route. Watson. Mycroft's statement had reminded him of something he once heard Watson say many years ago. Something about family. A rather interesting problem, Sherlock mused. A pang of fear struck him as he realised that it was not solely biologically impossible for him and Watson to have such a family, but in his case it was also effectively emotionally impossible. Sherlock Holmes lived a life of risk and unreliability. That was no situation for children, regardless of age or maturity.
It hurt a surprising amount when he considered the hurt that might cause Watson. There was nothing he could do, which instead of alleviating some of the guilty pain, only served to intensify it for some illogical and irrational reason.
Briskly returning to the present, Sherlock pushed such thoughts away until such a time as he could deal with them more effectively. Mycroft folded one leg over the other at the knee, and coughed twice.
"Well Sherlock, I believe I am ready to guess the cause of your momentary elation."
Sherlock Holmes leant back in the chair and locked his hands behind his cranium. "On the basis of the questions you have seen fit to ask me, brother, I fear any conclusions you have drawn can only be erroneous."
Mycroft's only response was a raised eyebrow.
"I believe I have it cracked, Doctor Watson!" Lestrade declared, with a theatrical flourish not dissimilar to what Holmes might have employed.
Far less effectively, of course. Holmes' flourishes seemed to become him rather well; Lestrade was not so fortunate in this respect.
Watson, slightly befuddled, said nothing. Quite why Lestrade felt the need to express some manner of epiphany while he was waiting to be accused of deviancy, Watson was not entirely sure.
He was not currently at liberty to consider this, being rather too busy controlling his movements and composure to avoid displaying the fear he felt, either through clumsy actions or flickering facial expressions, although he had often been told that a consequence of wearing his heart boldly on his sleeve was an inability to truly hide emotions.
Holmes could certainly seem to read his mind at times. But then, he could read anyone's mind. And Watson gained some small satisfaction from the knowledge that he had at least managed to surprise the detective twice on the previous day. That was a feat he could be proud of.
Deciding to humour the man who might soon be his captor under the law of England, Watson reluctantly asked the question he knew the Inspector to be waiting for.
"What have you cracked precisely Inspector?" His voice sounded rather reluctant, with a barely noticeable undertone of fear.
Striding another two paces forward, Lestrade's smile was clearly visible. Watson remained as flummoxed as ever. Barely five minutes ago, he had been disapproving and scolding of some perceived fault and now he was beaming at some joke that Watson did not understand, recall or find amusing.
Was Lestrade some sort of deprived sadist, who enjoyed capturing deviants and bringing them to what he was pleased to call justice? For Holmes' sake, Watson fervently hoped not. But if not, what was causing his odd expression?
Doctor Watson could only tread water in the sea of complete bewilderment as Lestrade tapped his nose twice and replaced his small black bowler on the top of his head, adjusting it briefly in the mirror upon the fireplace.
Noticing Watson's expression, Lestrade broke into hearty laughter. "No need to play the ignorant card with me, Doctor Watson! Have no fear- I shall not be the one to speak of it."
"Speak of what?" The doctor floundered, attempting to recall the conversation. When had he confessed to...anything? What was the twitching eye and nose-tapping in aid of? Was Lestrade losing his mind?
Still quietly chortling, Lestrade made his way to the door. "I shall say this Doctor; you would have been a great actor."
"...I-what-" John Watson failed to form sentences as his mind spun in confused circles. Lestrade was leaving, and acting as though part of some great and glorious conspiracy.
Lestrade's eyes fell on a distinctive brown leather glove on a side-table by the door, and his laughter increased tenfold. "Why, Doctor Watson, you rogue!"
He opened the door, pausing to hand Watson the glove before leaving. He would recognise that glove anywhere. Holmes' sister. Well, who'd have guessed? Obviously, this only confirmed his suspicions. He was Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, after all. And he always got his man.
Slipping into the hallway, mastering his chuckles, the Inspector paused as Watson's bewildered gaze met his from inside the room. "Not to worry Doctor Watson, I shan't tell a soul. I shall not be the one to inform Mister Holmes about yourself and his sister!"
And with those words, he pulled the door shut behind him and trudged down the stairs. He must confess - to himself and no one else - that he had, at first suspected some...undesirable event. However, he now saw he had merely leapt to the wrong conclusion. Any man would have done the same.
Who would have known that Holmes and his sister looked so alike?
Watching the Inspector hail a cab and drive away, Watson was still in a state of shock. Thoroughly flummoxed, in fact. As it rounded the corner and disappeared from view, his mind finally processed what had occurred. With one glance at the glove in his hands, Doctor John Watson subsided into hilarity.
Lestrade really was as inane as Holmes had always declared him to be.
Holmes' sister indeed...
Mycroft glanced at the clock and then back to his brother. "Watson shall be expecting you back shortly Sherlock." His eyes twinkled, and Sherlock almost flinched at the sudden implication. "I should not keep him waiting, if I were you."
Sherlock, for once in a very long time, was speechless. "What?"
"Sherlock, there is no need for such play-acting. It's not as though this is any manner of surprise." His voice could have been stating the weather; calm and factual. Uninvolved.
"Surprise? What are you alluding to, Mycroft?" Sherlock desperately tried to cling onto the aloof and confident platform that was deftly slipping from under him.
"I don't believe you ever told me the name of your beloved." Mycroft observed calmly as his brother regained composure.
"No. I did not."
His brother's smile was definite. Sherlock sighed, the utter conviction and victory adorning his brother's face completely unmistakable. "Very well brother, I believe you win this round."
"Perhaps." Mycroft remarked, calmly watching Sherlock.
Again, not saying it. Not speaking the name aloud. Sherlock released a breath he had not been aware he'd been holding. Infuriating reflexive actions. Acceptance. Amusement, even. The smug smirk on Mycroft's face was not solely due to victory.
They wouldn't say it. They would never tell each other they were accepted. They would never tell one another to change. But Sherlock knew that Mycroft had not just expected, but accepted. Long before even he himself had contemplated recognising who he was. A family, they might be. Not in the normal, traditional, idealised version of the word, but in the estranged, dysfunctional, restricted epitome.
Distant enough to be independent, but near enough to talk. Eccentric enough to estrange, but human enough to understand. Near enough to help, but not quite close enough to touch.
As the moment of odd closeness without speech drew to a natural close, Mycroft spoke. "I would recommend the opera."
Sherlock blinked, staring at his brother with an intrigued yet equally baffled expression. The sort normally seen when one hears a voice, yet is not convinced of its source. Mycroft merely smiled. "I have had occasion to take young ladies out in the past, Sherlock. The distant past perhaps-" His brother's smirk stopped him.
"A sensible suggestion." Gratitude, not expressed fully as such. And just as Mycroft sometimes lacked praise, so did Sherlock's tone lack gratitude. Not that it needed any injection of gratitude. They both knew it was there. They both knew how it was expressed.
Mycroft coughed to clear his throat, averting his eyes to his desk, and the small pile of correspondence from the civil service for his personal deliberation. "And I hear that Kim's Bookshop(2) has recently received an endowment of several rare medical journals. Well worth a visit, I hear."
Sherlock nodded. "Indeed, I suppose it would be. I may investigate on my return."
His brother made a noise of assent. Sherlock's mind was already deliberating on routes, plans and schedules with which to get to the bookshop, the theatre, and of course, the favoured haunt of the Royale. Noticing the time in conjunction with these, he rose to go.
"I had best be on my way. As you say, I shall be keeping Watson waiting."
Mycroft nodded as Sherlock retrieved his hat and coat, darting out into the corridor. A faint smile crossed his lips, and he maintained his gaze on the door until it swung shut entirely behind his younger brother. He was happy for him, he supposed, returning his gaze to his favoured ink well and pen. The image they summoned made his lips curve even more into the closest that Mycroft Holmes ever got to a smile without laughter.
Sherlock certainly looked similar to their mother when in love.
Pulling on his coat as he emerged onto the street, hat in one hand and a smile on his face, Sherlock Holmes hauled himself into a waiting cab.
"Kim's bookshop." He commanded over the thin shower of rain assailing the streets of London.
Glancing back towards the Diogenes club and the antisocial crowd that lurked within, he thought he spotted the outline of a portly figure with a cane in the hallway he had just vacated.
Mycroft certainly looked similar to their father with that cane...
Mycroft had been perfectly correct, as always. The bookshop had indeed obtained some interesting journals. Several large, heavy and suspiciously sharp volumes. He would not mention these additional attributes to Watson; best to simply refer to them as interesting. However, it did make manoeuvring them up the stairs something of a challenge.
Determination won through in the end, as Holmes burst through the door to the rooms he shared with Watson, carrying the books in his arms. Watson looked up sharply, his face breaking into that welcoming smile that had so often adorned his features previously. And, Holmes hoped, would continue to do so at regular intervals.
"Holmes." The door swung shut, and Holmes hesitantly offered the three large volumes to Watson in a manner that did not appear dissimilar to a horse unseating a rider. This could be explained, or at least partially excused by his lack of experience in giving gifts of this nature. That was what the postal service was for.
"I thought they might be of some interest to you Watson." Holmes explained, as Watson accepted the books, setting them down on a side table not too near the fire. His face lit up, and Holmes took advantage of his momentary distraction to hang his coat and hat, both spattered with rain, on the stand.
Watson turned to thank him just in time to see Holmes fling himself onto the sofa with a sigh. "I cannot recommend the English weather for the spirit Watson."
Watson simply smiled. "Thank you Holmes."
The detective made some manner of dismissive gesture before placing his hands behind his head. He closed his eyes briefly, although they flickered open again at the sensation of Watson wiping a raindrop from his cheek.
"You must admit Holmes, the weather in this country is bracing." Sherlock did not need to glance at his friend's face for confirmation of the joke; the chuckle in his voice was clue enough. Friend...He paused in his thoughts. The word no longer seemed to do Watson justice, despite the length of time it had taken for Holmes to grow accustomed to the idea of friendship. He couldn't help finding it odd that he could be so at ease with this latest development in their relationship in a comparatively miniscule length of time.
In a brief second of scientific mindedness, he contemplated taking notes on the subject and the effects of love or increased affection on one's mindset.
"In that case Watson, I am most certainly braced for any and every eventuality." Watson thought he detected a mischievous hint in that remark, and turned his attention to Holmes' shoes, which the detective had not yet thought to remove. It often amazed Watson how little Holmes seemed to care about such things, but he had grown so accustomed to coercing him into fulfilling these basic tasks that anything else would seem far stranger.
With a theatrical sigh, Holmes rose, fully aware what Watson was about to mention. "Really Watson, I fail to see what my footwear has done to merit such incredible concern." He did not wait for an answer, tossing his shoes near enough to the fire to dry, and reassumed his previous lounging. It was far easier to just let Watson have his way on these minor matters, or at least seemed to be at present. Perhaps that was another note to jot down...
A small pause followed this as Watson returned to his chair, suddenly struck by the realisation that today was almost exactly the same as every other day. No real change had taken place. No dramatic shifting of roles, no spontaneous...anything. He couldn't prevent a grin stealing onto his face. It was...amusing in a way- a change he had feared so much had, in fact, brought very little noticeable alteration whatsoever.
As he glanced across at Holmes, looking oddly pensive and distracted, his pale skin seemingly set alight by the cinnamon glow of the fire; charcoal hair a stark contrast, refusing to be set alight in the same manner. Somehow this prompted the realisation that it was different after all.
Previously, any partially-formulated plots had been kept under strict supervision in his mind. Now, he was far more at liberty to enact these cunning, devious or indeed, deviant schemes. And with such an aim in mind, he watched Holmes carefully. He knew that the detective could probably sense his gaze, but he no longer had any fear of being caught. Besides, he had a suspicion that Holmes was not averse to such attentions.
Actually, Watson reflected, it was rather more than a suspicion.
Sherlock Holmes was steadily descending into boredom. The craving for cocaine was rushing through his veins again, and he shuffled up the couch slightly, curling his feet into the cushioned back and he rolled onto his side. As he heard the muffled thud of a cylindrical object hitting the floor, an idea sparked at the base of his skull. Hopefully it would save him from the black moods.
As Holmes still didn't open his eyes, Watson resolved that he was probably asleep. Sherlock did have the remarkable ability to fall asleep in record time. Like his energy to lethargy, his waking and sleeping followed the same erratic and abrupt patterns, impulsive and unpredictable. His feet made no noise on the carpet as he bent down to grasp the cane. Slim fingers gripped his wrist, and Watson couldn't suppress the slight shudder of surprise, even as he met the grey eyes of his captor.
The doctor's plan had been to turn away, place the cane by the door and return to his seat, but this was, as per usual, rather obliterated by Holmes' own plot. Watson really should have expected it by now. Not that it particularly bothered him. In fact, he was partially resolved to not expect it in future, for the mischievous grin that adorned Holmes' face.
Amused by the surprised expression on Watson's countenance, Holmes paused for a brief chuckle before continuing his plan, pulling his companion nearer, aware of their increasing proximity, and propping himself up on an elbow to draw Watson in for a kiss. Still in a state of mild surprise, Watson allowed Holmes to prise the cane from his hand and toss it...somewhere.
Neither of them either knew or particularly cared where exactly the cane had ended up. The final location was in fact approximately three inches from where it began, which Holmes would later claim was due to distraction, not abysmal aim on his part.
An odd effect of Holmes' lips upon his own seemed to be some sort of paralytic or tranquiliser, shutting down most of Watson's mind, or simply overpowering it completely. Either way, it was only when he broke apart for air-as irksome as the basic human requirement was- that he noticed he had already been manoeuvred partly onto the sofa.
"Holmes, we're not both going to-" He began, but got no further before an impatient snort interrupted him, and his mouth was claimed once again. As Watson's brain succumbed once more, Holmes took advantage of this momentary lapse in intelligible thought to haul Watson onto the cushions as well. Watson felt the amused smirk twitch onto Holmes' face and surfaced once again, returning to coherent thought processes.
It was similar to drowning, or swimming beneath the water for an extended period of time. Something of that nature. Once below, all superfluous thoughts were put on hold, ignored in favour of the beauty surrounding him, the sensations that sparked instead of thoughts. But the need to breathe oxygen demanded surfacing, and once the water was gone from his mind, these thoughts recovered from their paralysis, always with the same thought at the forefront.
Whoever invented the human need to breathe clearly did not anticipate the wider implications of that decision.
It was after this that he realised the reason behind the smirk. Not that he hadn't expected to find himself on the sofa; Holmes' domineering nature would doubtless see to that, but Watson was surprised by the compromising position by which this was achieved. It was tremendously unusual for Holmes to willingly choose the less dominant position in anything. It was all enjoyably compromising, but compromising nonetheless.
A fact Sherlock was also regaining awareness of. Upon completing his mission, he had also suffered the affects of the overpowering mind paralytic that seemed to pass between them at every moment of contact. Although he saw it more as an overpowering stream of new information being processed, driving out other thoughts that would get in the way. Holmes had arrived at the conclusion that in-depth thought would merely complicate any further proceedings.
As the pause stretched longer, he was prevented from moving by a hand on his shoulder, as a brief flash of panic illuminated Watson's visage.
"The door...Is it locked?"
"What does it matter?" Holmes sighed, although he could see his lack of concern bothered John, whose nerves were doubtless still frayed from the previous discovery.
He had barely time to realise this before Watson was at the door, locking it and removing the key, drawing the blinds nearest to them. But he made no move to reassume his previous position. Instead he turned his back to Holmes for a moment, eyes fixed on the floor in front of him. "Lestrade called while you were with Mycroft."
The detective made no effort to move. That would mean shattering the few moments of previous peace. He waited for Watson to continue, as he knew he would momentarily, although he admitted to himself that this was mostly because he was not entirely sure what he should say.
"He knew." Watson's voice was hollow, although at his next words it changed to a slightly mocking tone that he rarely used. Lestrade must have insulted him, Sherlock surmised. Or more likely said something imbecilic. He would expect no less from one of the inspectors of "the yard".
"He said he came to 'warn' me." The bitter, mocking tone was there. Sherlock scowled at the nerve of Lestrade. Warn Watson indeed... Lestrade had always taken his occupation to be some manner of divine providence, a sign that he was above the common man- not that Watson was in any way common. No one who knew him could say that.
The silence stretched on for a moment, as Watson allowed the implications of the words to set in. He didn't particularly like to, but he needed to impress the seriousness upon his companion. He could be so like a child at times, with no concern for the future and a conviction of his own immortality.
"He seemed sure of his convictions." A slight smile tugged at Watson's lips, although Holmes could not see this. "But he was wrong."
Watson turned back to meet Holmes' inquisitive gaze that seemed to be attempting to burn through the back of his cranium and reach his thoughts. "What did he-"
Now Watson found he could no longer hide the smirk of victorious amusement creeping onto his countenance. "The esteemed inspector Lestrade believes I am courting your elusive sister."
A bark of laughter mixed with relief echoed from Holmes' lips in recognition of Lestrade's erroneous conclusions and inability to discern facts. It was, for their purposes, a godsend. "Inspector Lestrade and his merry men..."
Watson chuckled, retracing his steps to where Holmes still lounged. "Well he does owe his conclusions, in some small part, to your opportune placement of a certain feminine article..."
"I presume you allude to the woman's glove?"
"Of course." Satisfied that Holmes had learnt his lesson, Watson allowed himself to be pulled back to his previous position atop his partner. "You shall have to explain that to me at a convenient moment, Holmes."
On a whim, Sherlock ran a finger across Watson's moustache, although this ceased almost immediately as the doctor's mouth made a beeline for his own. When they drew apart again, not to so great an extent as previously, Holmes sighed. "Very well, my dear Boswell. At a convenient moment."
His reward for this concession was in Watson's gleaming smile, which seemed to be formed almost entirely of pure elation, stemming from his beaming blue eyes, running down his face to catch in the subtle curve of his lips, forming a grin. "And have you any encounters to report, Holmes?"
Sherlock Holmes considered this for a moment. The business with Mycroft could wait. His smile became somewhat coy. "I have only one pressing matter at present..."
Now sure that he was unable to stop smiling, even if he should wish to, Watson raised an eyebrow at the underlying implication he thought that he detected. "And what might that be, Sherlock?"
"I will require your assistance..." He let the sentence trail off, smile still fixed jauntily in place.
Watson was closer now, with scarcely an inch between their noses. "Anything, Sherlock." Two simple words, but Watson's shining blue eyes, seeming to earnestly project honesty into Holmes' mind, left no room for doubt.
In the instant before their lips met, Holmes' voice was barely above a whisper. He need not speak loudly; personal boundaries had been promptly disregarded. Not that they had been being respected for most of the previous conversation. Watson heard, and in the same way that his earlier words had projected honesty through his eyes, Sherlock's tone held only truth. Fact. Evidence, of a sort. And more importantly, not a single tremor of doubt.
"I hoped you would say that John."
It is here that our short narrative reaches its inescapable conclusion, not that an escape is or was in any way sought. Any manner of separation now would be exile. I can only hope that this has not been as fantastical as Holmes says my accounts of his other adventures have been, although he cannot find fault with what romanticism is contained within this as many of the words I have borrowed, as always, have been his. But I must humbly request that you see fit to keep these private journals out of the Strand or any other such publication; I sense that Inspector Lestrade would not find it particularly favourable to his character, nor is the public ready for such a tale as this.
And thus, I bid you all farewell.
Dr. J. Watson.
Whoever may read this,
No doubt you know of me, and of my reputation as a great detective, and all the traits which Watson has seen fit to accentuate about my person. My dear Boswell has glorified me to an extreme. It is likely you, like so many others, have previously deemed me incapable of emotion or affection, as portrayed so effectively by my biographer. Perhaps I would have been, as Mycroft is, had I no Watson to keep me sane. Out of concern for privacy, I am sure my dear Watson has already placed his plea for secrecy upon these pages – wholly unnecessary when considering the incompetence of Lestrade – but perhaps the great unobservant public are not yet prepared.
Observe. Deduce. Reason.
A/N: Want to know how long this took to edit? Around three hours of my life, in just ONE EDIT. Review. Vote on my profile poll if you want a sequel/any more ever...VOTE!
Hah, and on another note: This chapter is EXACTLY 11,000 words long on Microsoft Word.
(1) King Dionysius hung this sword over his courtier/friend's head after offering him the chance to be King for the day. The courtier, Damocles, had earlier told the King how fortunate he was to have such an awesome lifestyle, and so Dionysius agreed to let him sample it to prove him wrong. Despite the excellent food, power, wealth et cetera, Damocles could not enjoy it for fear of the sword suspended by a thin thread directly above his head. And thus he came to understand the King's plight; while living in luxury, he could never feel safe with the threat of death seemingly hanging over his head. Greek myth-a variety of tales exist, but that's the gist of it. And no, he didn't actually say awesome.
Just in case anyone didn't get the ancient reference. If you did, what exactly are you reading this for?
(2) Kim's Bookshop is in Arundel, West Sussex, England. I am mercilessly using the name because they are clearly awesome enough to stock perfect books for Watson. If you're in West Sussex, get the train down to Arundel and have a look. Go! If you love books, you will love it. End of discussion.
A/N: Review, if you would be so kind. After all, "The weapon that prompts the most fear in others is always the mind of a Shwatsonlock fanatic." Mine. :P