AN: My first Sherlock Holmes fan fiction (based on the 2009 movie which is BRILLIANT) - please tell me if anything doesn't seem right to you, or if I have got anything wrong!
I have not read the books (for my sins), so I am working on the presumption that we don't know how the two met.
Everything belongs to the right people - I am not the right people!
The boxing ring.
Sweat. Sawdust. Vomit, beer, roasting meat. Screams. Shouts. Threats, cajoles, mocking laughter. A swirling mess of colours - black, brown, golden flecks of light, brown, brown, brown…He can feel the sweat on his back, on his hands, can feel the throbbing on his cheek, promising to develop into a fine bruise by the night is out. Too much to see, to feel, to smell, to hear - it crowds into his mind, as it always has done, as it always will, and for a moment he wants to close his eyes and bring his overactive, oversensitive mind under control, but he has had too much beer, too many drugs, and the hulk of a man in front of him is waiting for his next move -
He lunges forward, the man moves to block, just as he knew he would, he turns, pirouettes, not as gracefully as he usually does, he will have to work on that, but he turns anyway, his fist flings forward, onto the sensitive pressure point on the man's neck, and the man falls backwards, legs disabled, out for the count, and the crowd roars, and Holmes suddenly realises he isn't even sure who the man is, or how many of these faceless men he has beaten tonight. He is sure he wants another drink though.
The bellows of the crowds are getting on his nerves, and he can feel his head start one of its usual aches. Damn, he thought the drugs he had taken would stop this…
He rubs his eyes, exits the ring, pushes through the crowd of people and collapses at the bar. The barmaid gives him a sour look, he realises his shirt went missing some time ago and he is by now not exactly a pretty sight, but he smiles ingratiatingly anyway, and ruffles his already tangled hair, and orders another beer. She bustles off…and he is suddenly aware of the briefest of despondent sighs being expelled from the man next to him.
He squints through the smoke and bleary crowds, and the man swims into focus - a clearer focus than Holmes had expected.
He is dressed smartly - well, smartly for this place anyway…And he holds a swordstick - ah yes, a war-hero then…and he is a doctor, because Holmes can smell a faint trace of chloroform lingering over him…a stub of a paper - a boxing match -sticking out of his back pocket proves he is a gambler and down on his luck, as does the miserable expression on his face…no, but it is not just tonight, Holmes notices dirt on the man's hands, a certain grubbiness on one who otherwise seems to like being neat, a tired glint in the eye, even a rather endearing twitch in that moustache…this man has been gambling hard and losing hard…And he is on his last beer, it appears, because he is drinking it slowly and -
Holmes grips his head to shut himself up, then runs his fingers clumsily through his hair, and looks sidelong at the man again, to find him staring back at Holmes with a direct and rather disgusted look on his face. Holmes likes people with straightforward stares - it made it paradoxically harder to see what they were really thinking. He likes challenges.
He gives the man a grin, who recoils in apparent further revulsion. Hmm. He is really going to have to work on that smile.
"Bad night, old boy?" he asks.
The man blinks at the familiarity, and for a moment Holmes thinks he is not going to answer. Then, just as Holmes is returning to his beer, he says,
"It is that obvious?"
Holmes tilts his head, not looking at him. "Only to the more observant."
The man snorts - he doesn't realise how serious Holmes is, he doesn't understand, he doesn't know that Holmes sees everything, hears everything…
He takes another swig of beer, looks at the man again, takes in the empty bottles beside him, and the way he is jingling his poor amount of change in his pocket. The man takes in his gaze, looks at Holmes impassively. Holmes notes his eyes - a silvery blue, more intelligent than he first took him to be, daring Holmes to comment either on his alcohol intake or on his poor gambling skills. He is suddenly quite fascinated - what would this man, obviously a war hero and probably quite respected doctor, be doing in a scummy hole like this? Every person here has their reasons for being here. He glances down at the cane-come-sword. Some come to forget, he thinks.
He has an idea.
Now, who was he meant to be fighting next again? Ah yes, that short…smelling slightly of garlic - God, did it have to be him? He doesn't mind losing one match, but against him? He'll be a laughing stock!
But he is feeling strangely generous for once, and doesn't know why, which is a good reason - in Holmes' mind - for acting on it.
"Jeffy," he says cheerfully to the man.
The man gives him a blank look, and Holmes gestures to the now still hand in the pocket.
"I suggest you bet on Jeffy next match. He is precisely one hundred to one."
The man sneers again. "That's ridiculous. I'm not betting that high."
Holmes shrugs and drains his beer. "You should," he says. "I'm fighting him."
And he leaves to the ring, already sensing the man's stare on his back as he goes.
Now comes the hard bit. Losing a match? Purposefully losing a match? What was he thinking? Oh Holmes, dear boy, he thinks, as he squares up to Jeffy, who is already looking defeated. Why do you let yourself get into such messes?
But then…unconsciousness might be nice for a while.
He notices Jeffy's half-hearted punch head towards his left eye, and drops his fists with a resigned sigh.
Five minutes later, he is unconscious on the ground, therefore quite missing the man collecting his winnings with an open mouth and a confused frown.
Something cold is being pressed against his eye, waking him up. Ice, he thinks. He listens, and the world is silent. So the boxing is over, therefore it is probably just dawn. Either that, or he is deaf. And then he hears the faint sound of rustling, and discounts that idea. He wonders where he is. It is warm, and he can still smell the sweat and sawdust and beer, so he must be upstairs, he reasons. Lying down, on something scratchy, ah of course - the make-shift bed made up of that old box, and one of the landlady's blankets that she sells for not enough -
He opens his eyes - or tries to anyway, his left one doesn't seem to want to cooperate, and anyway it is being filled in with ice at the moment.
His gaze focuses on the silvery-blue stare of his war-hero stranger.
"Ouch," someone croaks. He realises it is him. He sounds like a mess.
He realises his ribs ache, and his neck. And his groin where Jeffy kicked into it. He'll pay for that next time.
"It's all right, I'm a doctor," says the man quietly, repositioning the ice bag over Holmes' eye.
"And he's a bloody idiot," squawks another voice - the landlady to the inn he remembers. He essays a little wave in the direction of her voice.
"Awfully sorry about this, Doreen."
"You should be," she snaps. "You lost a lot of people a lot of money, Holmes. Where'd your fight go? You can usually beat Jeffy no problem."
Holmes' doctor gives him a long, calculating look, but says nothing. Holmes waves a hand hopelessly at Doreen the helpful, and she grumbles and leaves - he can hear her footsteps as they fade away.
There is a slightly awkward silence. Holmes counts the pain in each rib - three, he thinks - two broken, one bruised. That's the last time he will ever be generous to a complete stranger.
"The landlady called you Holmes," said the man eventually, levelly.
"Sherlock Holmes," says Holmes formally. "At your service. I would shake your hand but everything hurts."
The man's moustache twitches in a hidden smile - Holmes notes this down.
"I could give you morphine."
"Only if you wish me to collapse again. I've had more than enough of that tonight."
Another silence, this one faintly disapproving. The ice bag is removed, then replaced with a colder one.
"I am Dr Watson," says the man.
"My ribs hurt like hell," replies Holmes.
Careful fingers, dispassionate and formal in their touch, probe the ribs, releasing squeaks of pain from their patient.
"I have bandaged them," says Good Samaritan Watson. "They should be fine, at least for tonight."
Holmes grunts. That is a matter of opinion.
Watson hesitates, then speaks again. "I saw the fight. You should have easily beaten your opponent."
Holmes sniffs. "Was tired. Drunk. Mm. Drugs. You know."
"I see." Another prod to the eye. "Well, thanks to your, ah, tiredness, I have managed to replace my losses of the evening, along with a bit extra."
"Fortune is a fickle mistress," Holmes comments. He really is tired now, and the world is floating weirdly around him.
"Do you have somewhere to stay?" Watson asks, just the slightest hint of concern evident in his voice.
Holmes feels his body sag with pain and exhaustion. "Already here," he mutters.
"Here?" The good doctor looks around him with his old distaste.
"Between places," says Holmes. Then he decides to ramble. "Ah. Ahaha. Such a formal way of saying 'I spent my rent on alcohol and drugs, and I have no case, and its driving me mad so I drink, but it is my own fault for not having a case for I have no place to base myself, and so I drink and so…' - you get the picture I think…"
He notices Watson's moustache is looking serious. "You may have concussion," he says, not without reason. "You should not be alone. I wonder - would you stay at my office? For tonight?"
Holmes glares at the moustache. "Naaaah," he manages.
"It's only at Baker Street."
The world is filtering into odd colours - Holmes always knows it is bad when that happens. He waits until Watson's silvery eyes go orange, then nods. "Fine, fine. You are the doctor."
He barely remembers leaving.
Holmes wakes groggily, face pressed into a pillow that doesn't smell right. The feel of sun on his arms is also not right, nor is the sound of birdsong. The boxing ring has neither sun nor cheerful birds. And the sound of the traffic here is louder.
He raises his head and looks around under his manic hair. Ah. An office. Stethoscopes and models of brains lying around, so a doctors office.
He flops his head back into the pillow and groans as his ribs argue with him.
There is a knock on the door, then it opens, and his saviour steps through, looking much cleaner than he did the previous night. He has even combed his moustache, Holmes observes. And he is holding a syringe aloft.
"Good afternoon," Watson says ironically.
"Bleargh," replies Holmes, and flips himself over, then sits up. He has been lying in a makeshift bed, and it has ironically been the best sleep he has had in many a night. His mouth feels like he has had some sort of rodent sleeping in it. And his ribs…
"Morphine?" Watson offers, holding out the syringe as Holmes whimpers. "Your body should have absorbed the rest you had last night."
Holmes nods, and looks away as Watson sticks the needle into his arm. He is fine with administering needles himself, but anyone else doing it makes him nervous. He distracts himself by looking around the office.
"You are John Watson," he says finally.
Watson gives him a sharp look. "How did you - ?"
Holmes shrugs, wondering if he should drop the whole thing, but he is too vain to resist the temptation to show off now. "Your name is on those letters over at the desk." Watson looks over at the desk - the letters can barely be read. "Also, according to the state of this office and its location, I would say you were a good doctor, but new to London, possibly because you spent most of your past in Afghanistan, where you procured that rather fine swordstick. Oh, and you probably have such a good reputation that the landlord is happy to overlook a few days of unpaid rent, caused by your considerable gambling problem, as shown by last night's shenanigans."
Watson is staring at him.
"I am a private investigator," Holmes announces proudly. "I…notice a lot of things." More like everything, he adds to himself.
Watson dismantles the syringe quietly, thinking to himself.
"What sort of private investigator," he says, "Fights in boxing matches?"
"What sort of doctor gambles on boxing matches?" retorts Holmes.
Something in the air changes.
They watch each other warily, like cats.
The traffic thunders past, the birds sing, the summer sun shines through the window.
Watson is the first to look away.
"You said last night that you were between places."
"And cases," adds Holmes.
"I was wondering…there is a room here that is still up for rent…the place is a good price, better with two. If you wanted to look around - ?"
Holmes gives him an incredulous look.
"Dear boy, you don't even know what sort of cases I get involved with," he says.
Watson wrinkles his nose. "Judging by the look of you, I'd say pretty dangerous ones."
Holmes lets the slight about his appearance pass - they are probably not unfounded.
"I play the violin at three in the morning. I shoot things. I experiment on things - on everything. I chafe at the bit like an overly excitable horse when no case is available to me."
Watson shrugs. "I gamble badly."
"I drink badly."
"Then perhaps we shall be a good influence on each other."
Watson's moustache smiles. And perhaps it is the sunlight, or the giddiness from the morphine, Holmes is never really quite sure, but he finds himself smiling back.
"Well then, perhaps I should see this room of yours."
Good? Bad? Ugly? Please review!