Author's Note: Woo, first H/W fic! We all knew it was inevitable.
I've got this fic mapped out over nine chapters, with the Steamy Factor increasing exponentially with each chapter.
Just, you know…fyi.
Sitting at a table in the middle of The Royale restaurant in London, Watson absently pushed the potatoes around on his plate as he stared down at them with a furrowed brow. He directed the pieces into the juice from his untouched steak and watched as the vegetable soaked up the liquid at a moment's notice.
Another case solved, yet something was wrong.
As it had turned out, to everyone's surprise but Holmes', the culprit of the recent string of slain women had been a mild-mannered nurse maid with quite a possessive nature where her employer, a sturdy businessman, was concerned. It seemed she didn't care for viable marriage candidates wandering into the businessman's path so, to put things in gentle terms, she took it upon herself to remove the competition. A briefly lingering stare from the maid to the object of her devotion in the presence of Holmes had led the great detective down the mental path that concluded her guilt, and thus a three week long case came to a not-too-thrilling end.
And yet, even though the streets had been made a little safer once again thanks to his and Holmes' efforts, he still couldn't help but feel…unsettled. Normally he would just write it off as pre-wedding jitters, but things had been rather exceptional with Mary as of late, so he was wary of drawing that conclusion. As for Holmes-
A dinner roll landed smack in the center of Watson's plate, lightly splashing his hand with a few drops of steak juice. His eyes slid upward to find Sherlock Holmes sitting across the elegant table, calmly cutting apart and eating the meal set before him as if absolutely nothing had happened.
"Holmes," Watson said in a slightly annoyed tone, whipping his napkin from his lap and drying off his hand.
The detective looked up as if he had been startled, "Oh, I do beg your pardon, Watson. I possessed no conceivable notion that you were, in fact, present at this table. Were you saying something of vital, rapturous importance?"
Watson knew he was in the wrong this time and put up no fight. "My apologies for turning a deaf ear," he began, setting down the napkin, "it seems I haven't been able to focus since the case was solved."
"I believe those potatoes would tell quite a different story," Holmes teased gently, but with conviction in his eyes.
A moment of silence passed as Watson became lost in his thoughts once more, prompting Holmes to set down his knife and fork, saying "Perhaps I should ask them to tell it?"
"They'd be of small help considering you knocked them unconscious with a piece of bread."
Their eyes met then, as did their nearly untraceable smiles.
The humor passed through Watson and he found himself back at the same place as before. Letting out a small sigh, he shifted in his seat, unsure of where to begin but confident in the fact that he had, and always would have, Holmes' undivided attention at moments such as this.
"It's like I've been in a fog," Watson admitted, "and I'm certain that something is waiting to be found. I'm headed in the right direction, but it's impossible to see what's there."
Holmes didn't contemplate his friend's words for long, "You did postpone the wedding once again."
"It's not Mary. Mary's fine, wonderful. We only pushed back the date this time so that her aunt from America could be available to attend."
It was Holmes' turn to shift in his seat, "Splendid. Is it possible that there is an aspect of the case that you find unsatisfying?"
"Well, that's all that's left, isn't it? You and the case."
Holmes nodded in acknowledgement, and an expression surfaced on his face that Watson didn't encounter very often. The best way Watson had come to describe this particular look was as one of expectance. Holmes seemed to be waiting for something, and patiently at that. Watson had never asked his friend about these moments, they were too few and far between to really bear mentioning, but in this instance he thought now was as good a time as any.
"Are you expecting me to say something when you look like that?" Watson asked, unable to hide the curiosity in his voice.
Holmes' eyes fluttered as he snapped out of the moment and resumed eating his food. "I am expecting you to possess enough deductive reasoning to discern the truth of your own mystery, yes," he said in a genuine tone.
The answer was simple, but satisfying enough, so Watson moved on, "Now that you ask, I believe this type of haze could have been brought on by the case."
"Is there any specific aspect of the case that calls out to you as being particularly ambiguous or unsatisfactory?" Holmes signaled their waiter for the bill, "The conventional ending, perhaps? I myself greatly prefer when the solution proves to be far more grand in scale than a simple case of psychotic jealousy."
Watson felt as if he had taken a step forward in the fog, "I don't think it was the anticlimactic ending. I think it was her, the maid. Something about her."
The waiter arrived, and Holmes took out the necessary cash, paying the exact amount before speaking again. "Don't tell me you've spotted an imperfection in my exhaustingly detailed and expertly arranged explanation of the maid's irrefutable guilt?"
Watson shot his friend a wry look at the self-congratulatory language, "Your conclusion was flawless, Holmes, no one's disputing that. This has more to do with her motivation…I think."
Watson found his grasp of this train of thought slipping and he looked across the table. For the second time that night, Holmes was wearing that cryptic, expectant expression. This time it passed much more quickly, as it seemed the detective had arrived at a conclusion of his own.
"It is evident that this is an issue entirely left up to your mind to piece together," Holmes explained, "but I believe it would be beneficial if I offered an inquiry that may or may not aid you in the sorting out of this fog you find yourself in."
"Yes?" Watson urged lightly as they stood up to take their leave.
Holmes took one last sip of his wine before looking his companion in the eye, "Why are we here?" Watson's brow furrowed at the question, but Holmes held up a hand to prevent him from speaking. "Think of it as a riddle, my dear Watson."
They made their way out of the restaurant in an easy, contemplative silence.