Title: However Improbable
A/N: Because at the moment Agreement and Disputation is not cooperating with me, and because I want to start my first edit, here is the second draft of my NaNoWriMo 2009 novel. Yes, I did the unthinkable and crossed my two favorite fandoms into one wild story, and had the time of my life doing so. Meant as a tribute to wonderful universes and characters, not as serious fiction, and written solely for enjoyment and NaNo practice. I hope someone else has half as much fun reading it as I had writing it.
Warnings: Spoilers for various Star Trek episodes, though knowledge of them other than City on the Edge of Forever is not necessary to understand the plot. Warning for plot holes yet to be filled; the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write without stopping for thirty days straight, with the goal of 50,000 words. I came in with a final total, late December, of over 78,000. This is a rewrite in progress, so bear that in mind.
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are public domain, originally created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (bookverse Holmes FTW). Star Trek and all its derivatives belong to Paramount and Gene Roddenberry; if I owned them they'd still be making TOS seasons. :)
221B Baker Street, London, England
June 2, 1894
Sherlock Holmes and I were seated upon either side of a smallish fire that very wet spring morning in 1894, silently enjoying the comforts of the glowing coals to drive back the damp that wailed at the windows and drummed upon the rooftop. Little did either of us know that the peace of that particularly innocuous morning was soon to be shattered, along with the entire security of the world we had grown to know and love.
However, the catalyst that would hurl the both of us into a chasm of uncertainty and incredulity within the hour was at that moment not even a suspicion in our minds, content as we were to continue in rebuilding and repairing a friendship that had lain dormant for nearly three years, due to a catastrophic deception on my friend's part. I have given him my word as a gentleman and a friend to not bring up into conversation his decisions, and so shall I refuse to. Nonetheless, it is common knowledge that the events following his reappearance in my life were, to say the least, a strain upon my health and state of mind.
It was then, therefore, that I accepted his invitation to spend some time in Baker Street rather than my own empty, eerily solitary dwelling, whilst my not inconsiderable medical practice was in the process of being put upon the purchasing market. It was a mutual decision, and one that I recognized the value of; were we to pick up where we left off three years previously, we should need to re-learn how to live with one another (ideally without unnecessary loss of temper and patience, or the throwing of breakable objects).
After two slightly awkward days, we had fallen into old habits with more ease than I for one had anticipated; and though he never voiced the sentiment, I believe Holmes too was relieved at the ease of transition. The morning whereof I speak was my third in my old rooms, and by that point I was both thrilled to be seated across from my old friend and listening eagerly to his discourse, and also quite exasperated that the extent of his conversation seemed to be solely fixated upon the dearth of crime and criminals in this water-logged city.
I stealthily wriggled the sporting page out of the folds of the Times spread across my friend's lap, as he jabbed the agony column with a twitching finger, scowling blacker than the storm-head gathering outside.
"Come now, Holmes," I cajoled gently, as he loosed a string of hardly-polite expletives over the lack of interesting material in his news. "It cannot possibly be as bad as all that."
"Can't it?" he retorted scornfully, and tossed the remaining paper into the grate before I could voice a protest (I had not read it yet). "I have returned from the dead, Watson; surely that deserves the attention of someone in this capital who bears me a grudge of some sort? And in the three weeks since I have, how many truly intriguing problems have appeared to tax my powers? Three, Watson. Three. Trois. And only that. Has the entire country gone completely placid and peaceful after the death of its greatest of criminals?"
I remained silent, as I was aware he wished me to be, and ignored the tirade for as long as possible. Unfortunately, his words were quite correct, if a bit melodramatically expressed. London, I should have thought, would have been so ecstatic over its resident celebrity's return that cases would have flocked in the droves to cross our humble Baker Street threshold. Instead, the trickle of visitors seemed to be mainly youngsters who only knew the detective through my paltry efforts at writing romantic fiction (and half of those were only wishing the detective's autograph, not his assistance), or else legitimate cases that even Gregson could (and did, on the sole occasion Holmes sent a hysterical young woman his way for help in locating a runaway – flyaway, I suppose I should say – budgie named Petrie) solve unaided.
Holmes was pacing restlessly about the flat now, unbrushed hair bristling above his lowered brows, alternately growling to himself and kicking anything in his way under the nearest article of furniture. Prowling about in that peculiar silent manner that invariably reminded me of a stalking tiger, coiled tighter than a spring until he pounced on an unsuspecting victim, a casualty in the eternal war against his boredom, he was a formidable sight, and not a little frightening.
Our poor landlady was of the same opinion when she entered a few moments later carrying a spotlessly-gleaming silver tea-tray, and was nearly pounced upon by her newly-re-acquired lodger.
"Really, Mr. Holmes!" said she, quite severely, though I had my doubts as to how stern the good lady could be, so pleased was she to have her lodger home.
Remaining aloof, the detective ignored the diatribe and poured himself a cup of the strong brew, waving for me to keep my seat when I would have risen (the weather was playing the fool with my balance mercilessly, due to old injuries, and I was more than willing to remain where I was). "Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. I do not suppose you could be prevailed upon for some scones or the like?"
Our worthy landlady sniffed injuriously, all the while shooting me a smile behind the detective's bent back. "Mr. Holmes, had you eaten the breakfast I provided not two hours ago, you –"
"I have sorely missed your baking, my dear lady," he interrupted, bowing smartly over the tea-tray with a chivalry that I could clearly see was exaggerated. I rolled my eyes and returned to my sporting page, leaving the two of them to play the game by themselves, and was jolted out of a half-doze when the door closed behind the landlady as she departed with promises of a fruitcake or some such desirables in short order.
"Three years has certainly not diminished your manipulative abilities," I observed, accepting the cup he held out to me. "Thank you."
I received a smug smirk as he folded himself, long-legged, into his old armchair, and wriggled until he was comfortable again. "It is a useful talent, Doctor."
"No doubt," I replied dryly.
Sipping my drink in silence for a moment, I watched while his intense grey eyes stared into the glowing, crackling coals as if trying to read his future – or possibly relive his past – in their crimson-orange depths. Finally, coming out of the reverie, he shot me a repentant smile and sighed.
"That bad, eh?"
"Watson, why has no one come with a case worthy of my talents?" he asked plaintively. "Surely somewhere in this metropolis there is a criminal with enough fortitude to test his will against mine, or at least the audacity to believe himself capable of doing so. Why does nothing happen?"
"I cannot answer that, Holmes." I set my teacup down upon the hearthstones as I could not reach the table for the moment. "I am not quite certain even you realize what happened when the Moriarty gang was dissolved three years ago. You shook this city to its foundations, Holmes, for even its government was not exempt from the corruption in the ranks. It has taken this long for the city to regain its footing, and the criminal element is still – thank heaven – wary of the fate that befell their leader. At your hands, might I add."
"In other words, I have only myself to blame, and so I need to simply be quiet and accept the fact?" he asked with a slanted eyebrow.
I smiled. "Or at least stop bemoaning the fact that no one has tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, or shoot you through our bay window, or –"
Mrs. Hudson entered at this rather aimless juncture in the conversation, bearing a plate of fruitcake (which Holmes appropriated in short order), and showing us a most scandalized look upon her countenance.
"You have two visitors, Mr. Holmes," said she, primly dusting crumbs off the tablecloth after Holmes had shoved the entirety of the cake piece into his mouth, to free his hands so they could smooth back his hair and fix his tie in the space of about three seconds, so excited was he.
"Excellent, Mrs. Hudson! Urgent, would you say?"
"I am sure I have no idea, Mr. Holmes." The good woman's eyes narrowed. "If you ask me, I do not like their look, sir. One of them even refused to remove his hat, if you can believe such a thing! I offered to take their coats and hats, and I declare if I've never seen such rudeness!"
Holmes waved listlessly in her direction, ramming his hand into a drawer for a notebook, which he then hurled in the general direction of my head before sprinting into his room to don his jacket and shut the door on the clutter (barely) contained within the confines of his bedchamber.
"It must be an important case, to bring them out in such weather," I observed, striding to the window and parting the curtains upon the grey, runny landscape outside.
"I would not know, Doctor," the lady replied primly. "But neither of them had a calling-card, and would only tell me the matter was extremely urgent."
"Odd, wouldn't you say, Holmes?" I inquired as the detective bounded back into the room, kicking an errant slipper under the settee and flipping the lapels of his jacket to the outside.
"Unusual, but not alarmingly so," he replied mechanically, pocketing his unlit pipe and turning to smile beatifically at our ruffled landlady. "Do show them up, Mrs. Hudson. At this stage of my ennui, I should welcome even a mass murderer to our hearth, if only for the diversion. I trust these gentlemen will be considerably less disturbing."
If my friend had only known how wrong he was, we might have been better prepared for the coming days. However, at that time, we knew nothing of these men nor what they represented, and as such only settled in to await their story and request for Holmes's assistance.