Title: The Mayerling Incident or the Case of the Dead Dog
Summary: The dog is dead. Did Sherlock kill him, for real this time? Or is something more sinister going on?
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Mystery, Friendship, non-explicit (so far) slash Holmes/Watson
Warnings: Character Death, Liberties taken with history and timelines, Work-In-Progress (and I can be extremely slow when it comes to updates. However, I do have an outline to follow for this story so I can guarantee it won't be abandoned for years on end…a month or two at the most if my Sherlock Holmes obsession leaves me).
Rating: PG13? I'm horrible at rating things. Most probably not as bad as R
Spoilers: film-Sherlock Holmes (2009); books-A Scandal in Bohemia; possible references to others like The Sign of Four (though I am afraid to admit I'm rather new to the genre, and thus far have only read two novels and a couple of short stories, though if I write slow enough my familiarity should grow(public domain is awesome))
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock Holmes in any capacity. Any historical persons mentioned are not true to life as, unless I should chance upon some method of time travel, I do not know them and have only borrowed their names and a few facts as can be gleamed from Wikipedia; my account of their persons is not true (that I know of).
When Watson finally returned an hour after he left Baker Street, psychologically exhausted from dealing with an impossible hypochondriac and more than a little hungry for having been called away just before dinner, it was to Holmes lounging in his chair, pipe in mouth, while reading something that both seemed to amuse and annoy from his expression. Dinner had long since been cleared away but there was a plate of dry, somewhat stale biscuits laid out. Watson was feeling hungry enough to try one.
"I wouldn't eat those," Holmes remarked just as he had taken one, without looking up from his reading material. Watson managed to repress a jump even though Holmes had, up to that moment and despite Watson's called greeting when he entered the door, given every impression that he hadn't noticed the other man's arrival. "They've been there since last Wednesday." Watson dropped the biscuit.
"Why on Earth are you keeping them, then?" he asked, brushing the crumbs from his hands, "Or are you running a new experiment on the hardening properties of tea accessories?" Holmes didn't answer right away as he made an odd tsking sound in response to what he was reading. When Watson didn't react or attempt a closer look at his reading material, he repeated the noise, louder this time. Watson sighed and gave in. "And what are you reading that has you 'tsking' so loudly?"
"I don't 'tsk', Watson," he answered, "But to answer your second question, I am reading an utterly sentimental, fictitious account that The Strand has dared to parade as a 'true story'."
"Perhaps the author realized that being sworn to secrecy means a few facts need to be changed before an account can be published for all to see," Watson suggested lightly while considering calling Mrs. Hudson to see if any of the dinner had been saved. He had half expected her to come bustling up the stairs on her on accord, fussing over his missed meal as soon as she realized he was back.
"But it has you married!" Holmes cried, "Is it proper to fictitiously live with your bride for years before you've actually met?"
"Continuity," Watson answered amicably, resigned to Holmes tearing his work apart, "The Sign of Four had me meeting Mary… and don't start on that, you know I couldn't put who really met with us… so, sensibly, by this adventure I've been married. And it explains the months of absence from the writing world."
"Which couldn't be explained otherwise? Not to mention the prince visited us three years ago. You even put the date."
"So I did," Watson agreed, eyes turning once again to the plate of biscuits and rather wishing that, for once, Holmes could play proper host and not make him go himself to ask for food. Holmes in general continued to act as though Watson were a roommate who had the curious habit of visiting his wife from time to time before returning home. It probably didn't help Holmes's psychosis that Watson was, in fact, currently staying there, because Mary had gone with the family she still played governess to for a month long holiday.
Holmes made another tsking noise but didn't speak until Watson said, "I thought you had given up on reading my stories. You said you had no intention to start it when it first came out a month ago."
"'The Woman' seemed to think I should take a peek."
"Ah," Watson answered, having wondered when that part of the fiction would come up, until what Holmes implied hit him properly. "She's been here? When?!"
"Ostensibly when you were not," Holmes answered calmly from around his pipe, and then, apropos of nowhere, he added, "And to answer your first question, our dog seems particularly appreciative of them." And so saying he took one of the ancient biscuits from the tray and tossed it to the floor in the general direction of Gladstone's pillow. Whatever comment Watson might have made about dog nutrition was swallowed by a noise on the stairs.
"That will be Mrs. Hudson with your dinner, no doubt," Holmes deduced.
"No doubt," Watson answered dryly; it was hardly one of Holmes's more impressive deductions. Holmes seemed to recognize Watson's less than impressed attitude because before Mrs. Hudson could make her appearance he continued.
"She will be annoyed because someone has been at your dinner already and she had to fix up some sandwiches fresh. I hope she included her normal exuberance; the soup earlier was particularly unappetizing."
"You can't deduce the number?" Watson asked, eyebrow raised and earning a scowl from his companion, just as the door opened and Mrs. Hudson did, indeed, come in bearing a tray of sandwiches.
"Here you go, Doctor," she announced, setting the tray at the table, "I had saved some of the soup to be heated, but it's gone now. No doubt someone snuck in to finish it off. Even if some people are in need of polishing their plate more often, it would be kind to let people know when you've finished it all."
"I can assure you, I did nothing of the kind," Holmes responded. To Watson's relief, he made no comment about the taste of the soup to Mrs. Hudson though he did add, "If I were you, I'd run a search closer to the kitchen. One of your maids is in the habit of seeing that no food goes to waste." Mrs. Hudson merely gave him a look before checking over Watson to see that he was settled. There were, in fact, more than enough sandwiches. Despite his earlier words, however, Holmes made no move to grab one and in fact moved his paper so that they were hidden from his sight. It was as she was leaving that Mrs. Hudson noticed the biscuit on the floor.
"Well really!" she cried, scooping it up, "Someone could step on it...crumbs everywhere..." Holmes studiously studied his paper. Watson, his mouth full from a sandwich, attempted nonetheless to make consolatory and apologetic noises. Finally she left, biscuit in tow and still in a bad temper, and Holmes finally lowered the paper with a slightly thoughtful expression.
"It is unlike Gladstone to refuse offerings," he remarked, "Perhaps he is sick."
"Or perhaps the biscuits are too hard even for his taste," Watson suggested, but he did turn, slightly concerned, before going over to where the dog lay on his pillow. Holmes turned decidedly away from the sandwiches, eyes back on Watson's story, though he said, "Is he sick, then?"
"No," Watson answered slowly from his position kneeling next to the dog, "He isn't sick. He's dead."
"Dead?" Holmes asked, looking up at last.
"Yes, dead," Watson answered, still kneeling, though he had taken out his stethoscope to be absolutely certain.
"Dead, dead? Are you sure?" Holmes demanded, finally putting the paper down.
"Completely dead," he answered, "Unless you know something I don't. Have you been experimenting again?"
"You have been wrong about these things before," Holmes suggested, completely ignoring his accusations, "Perhaps he is just pretending."
"The dog is dead, Holmes," Watson answered, staring back at his friend and his slightly bewildered expression. That expression, more than anything, told Watson this wasn't another of Holmes's experiments.
"Watson, this makes no sense. He was perfectly fine not even an hour ago." The bewildered expression deepened into a frown. "Watson, you have left me with a defective animal."
Watson sighed, giving Gladstone one final pat of regret, before rising and limping back to his seat. "He wasn't defective, Holmes."
"Of course he was. Normal dogs do not expire on their pillows when half an hour before they were trotting around, happily consuming dry biscuits."
"No, I suppose they don't. Did you give him anything recently?"
"I didn't poison the dog, Watson. He decided to die all on his own. Unless…do you think he might have been poisoned?"
"I do not think someone broke into your rooms, killed the dog, and quietly left again, no."
"Hmm…it does seem unlikely. Perhaps it was a slow acting poison, and they got him when he was on his walk."
"There isn't a great mystery here. Sometimes animals just die. Normal people grieve and move on, buy a new pet."
"Nonsense! I am not upset by it, merely alarmed that some fiend has murdered a helpless animal."
"And you're sure you haven't given him anything recently?"
Whatever Watson might have said to that was interrupted by the door being thrown open. A maid stood in the doorway, a look of great distress upon her face.
"Doctor! You must come! It's Maggie, I think she's dying!" Watson followed swiftly, only taking the time to grab his bag. Holmes stayed behind, alone with a plate of mostly untouched sandwiches and a dead dog.