Joyceeeeeee has done a lovely thing and translated this into Chinese! It can be found here:
www dot jjwxc dot net /onebook dot php?novelid=1008377
A/N: Set pre-Hiatus, pre-Mary, but several years into their friendship, circa 1887. Namely, late enough for them to be good friends, but early enough that Holmes was still coming to terms with having a friend. I actually wrote this as a one-shot, but it turned out too long, so it'll end up being three chapters.
I was worried about Watson.
No- surely that wasn't right? I had never been worried about someone before. I don't think I had ever been truly worried about something before, except for perhaps that case back in '83 when there had been a moment that it seemed Lestrade had been right and I wrong. Thanks heavens he was wrong and my string of deductions proved correct, but it had still been enough to give me a emotion I suppose was somewhat near to worry.
No, there had never been worry. Just a niggling annoyance that things were not where they were supposed to be, or not doing what they ought to.
This was no niggling annoyance. This was some thoroughly irritating, yet somehow saddening gnawing settled deep in my chest. Worst of all, I knew this atrocious worrying was probably unfounded. Watson was more than capable of taking care of himself, as he had seen fit to point out to me several times. But perhaps something had happened to him? It was dreadfully cold outside, and I knew his leg would be more than protesting. If something had happened, and I was sitting here contemplating it, while he was probably lying freezing in the snow…
Now a new sort of gnawing began to eat away at my innards. I perceived this as guilt, which was just as irksome as worry. Together, the two were such a terrible combination that I resolved to do something, if only to banish the annoying devouring of my inner chest.
A most wonderful idea seized me and I sprung up from the couch, dashing into my bedroom and flinging open my wardrobe's doors, revealing neatly organized fake facial hair and several rows of disguises.
Surely I must be very near to my practice by now? It shouldn't have taken more than an hour to walk from my patient's house to Kensington, but judging by the sun slowly rising in the distance, it had taken far longer than I anticipated. No doubt my weary leg and lack of sleep lately had contributed to it.
It had been an absolutely dreadful week for London's medical population, including myself. A nasty outbreak of scarlet fever* had swept the city, not quite to the point of an epidemic, but enough to make the hospitals and general practices overflow with fever victims.
My own practice, which had become fairly successful and was busy enough on normal days, was full of patients. At the beginning of the week, there had been a sudden surge of patients, most complaining of a sore throat, vomiting, fever, and general discomfort. Several had contracted the red and puffy tongue and sandpapery rash that were telltale signs of the terrible disease.
My hours were somewhat forgiving, and only had me working until three in the afternoon on normal days, four in the midst of this outbreak. There were certainly others in need of my help, so I volunteered St. Mary's**, a hospital in one of the more destitute districts, but not too far from our Baker Street lodgings. It was, however, a good ways from my practice in Kensington when one was making the trudge on foot, which I had been prone to do all the days the past week except for the two on which it had rained.
I usually took a hansom home, because I had no desire to walk through the particular district the hospital was in during the night hours. I had walked home the second night, but quickly refrained from doing it again when I found I my wallet had mysteriously disappeared during the trip.
By the time I returned to Baker Street, I was thoroughly exhausted. It was often late, eight or nine. I do believe that the night I walked I didn't get back until ten, and paid sorely for it the next morning.
Holmes was absorbed in some sort of case, I guessed, because his attention was almost always arrested by a chemical experiment or old case files during the time I was home. He would give a curt nod when I popped my head into the sitting room to say goodnight each night, but we had talked very little this week.
The night I had returned closer to ten I had found him pacing the sitting room in a bout of anxiety. He had whirled around the moment I opened the door and spat "Where the devil have you been?"
I was taken aback by this sudden attention, though a little warmed by his concern.
"I was at St. Mary's"
"Surely not this late?"
"No, I walked home"
At this, his eyes had widened and his eyebrows flew up into his hairline.
"What? Watson, do you not know where St. Mary's is located? It is hardly the kind of place to be walking about in broad daylight, much less in the middle of the night!"
"It's hardly the middle of the night, Holmes" I had sighed, flopping down wearily into the nearest chair.
"Near enough!" He returned, but then softened his tone considerably. "Perhaps, Watson, you should refrain from volunteering for a while and rest a bit."
I gave a start at this, and surged up from my chair. "I'm fine. Just a bit tired from that walk." I had then made a great show of bidding Holmes goodnight and bounding up the stairs, despite feeling immensely tired.
I didn't think I would be able to keep this up much longer though. The little outbreak was beginning to die down, and perhaps the hospital could do with out me for a few days.
I thought of the little girl I had treated last night, and decided that I could certainly last a few more days of this epidemic if I could save but one life.
Today- well, I suppose it was yesterday, had been particularly trying. My practice was very full of fever victims, and it had run until five. I couldn't make my way to the hospital until then, and had decided to take a cab to make up for the lost time. I worked at St. Mary's for a good four hours, before settling my last patient into bed with an insufficient blanket. This hospital reflected its location, and the supplies were less than perfect.
I had just left the hospital when I felt a hand on my arm. I whirled around; wary after getting my pocket picked, and was met with a very desperate face.
"Yer a doctor?" He had asked, dropping his hand at my alarmed countenance.
"Please' He began, rasping out his words with a sort of hollowness "My daughter- she's so ill, the poor lass. Please, could ye come have a look at 'er?"
I wouldn't have refused anyway, but the desperation in his voice made me all the more eager to help him.
"I should be glad to help"
"Bless ye, bless ye," He stammered, grabbing my arm and leading me down a dark alley to another street. I might have been suspicious had it not been for his eyes. No man was that good an actor.
We finally came to a ramshackle little hovel, scrunched between two tenements. He hurriedly opened the door and half-dragged me inside. We bounded up a flight of stairs and walked a bit down a dirty hallway before coming to a door that must have held the man's daughter.
It did indeed hold the daughter, but not much else. A bed, a ramshackle table and two rickety chairs, along with various other broken items, were littered in the little apartment. I ventured into the destitute place and could not help but feel very grateful for my own lodgings. This place made a 'V.R.' in bullet holes look extravagant.
I saw the girl, no doubt suffering from the same fever as half of London, and made my way over to her. I comforted the mother, who was in a nervous hysteria, and began to treat the little girl. She seemed to be on the verge of developing acute rheumatic fever, which could very well take her life.
At times it times it seemed like I had been in the room for ages, but the next moment it seemed only minutes. By the time I had finally pulled the girl into a safe medical position, the sun was beginning to peak over the horizon. I had profusely refused any monetary compensation the couple tried to offer me. They clearly need it more than me at any rate.
I stumbled rather wearily out of the apartment. I was very tired from my long day
(And night, for that matter). I would have called a cab, but I had no money left. I only brought as much as I would need for the day into a district such as this, for fear of being pick pocketed again. I decided walking was not too bad a thing, for I had an hour or two before I would open my practice and exercise was good for me.
But now it had been at least and hour, and I wasn't halfway to my practice. I must not had paid much attention to the location of the girl's apartment, for it had taken me a good half an hour to find my way out of the destitute district and to a place I recognized.
I did at last make it to my practice, with a pronounced limp and feeling more tired than I wager I'd ever felt. My practice was set to open in ten minutes, so instead of taking the nap I so desperately wanted, I opened the curtains and took a hasty toilette.
I finally succeeded in escaping our rooms after fixing several mishaps with an itchy fake beard and dodging Mrs. Hudson's insistent protests that I 'Eat a hearty breakfast, Mr. Holmes, before you go out'. I did not feel at all hungry this morning, but I doubt I would have been able to get anything down regardless, due to the irritating gnawing that was still finding my chest a preferable lodging.
My behavior was certainly puzzling from the logician's point of view. There were no signs of Watson being in any sort of mortal danger. A poor-looking messenger boy had showed up late last night, relaying a note from Watson that he was at a patient's and would not return for the night, but instead retire to his Kensington practice.
The man was certainly not foolish enough to do anything but take a cab to his practice, so I could worry over his being accosted in such a sub-par part of the city. His sleep had been lacking this week, and he was sure to be very tired after volunteering so much. Watson had a deep concern for other's health, but no sense of self-preservation. It was an admirable characteristic in anyone's but my own point of view, as self-preservation is more than important in my line of work.
I could not find a justifiable reason for my current activities, besides to banish the irritating gnawing. If someone were to describe to me the situation I was in now to me seven years prior, I would have thought them irreparably insane and sent them off to the nearest asylum immediately. Then again, I had never imagined making any sort of friend seven years ago, especially not one so dear as Watson.
I straightened my fake beard nervously when I looked up to find his practice in sight. I had decided to check in on my friend, to make sure he had not yet collapsed of exhaustion. I certainly could not do so while in my own identity, for the man has a ridiculously large sense of pride and probably could not bear someone fussing over him in such a manner. If Watson saw through my rather good acting abilities the incident would be one he probably could not easily condone. I would not put it past him to discover me. He knew me well, and his own observatory skills were much more than he gave himself credit for in those floridly romantic memoirs.
It was for these reasons that I approached the matter with no little anxiety. I had disguised myself as a full-bearded dockworker. I had reason to believe the disguise would work. I knew from experience that I could trick Watson with my disguises, and he was not liable to be in the most observatory mood after such little sleep. I had resolved to just pop into his waiting room and make sure he was still on his feet, and then promptly return to Baker Street, for I had a fairly pressing case to investigate into after I confirmed my friend's good health.
I stole my courage and approached the little building, entering behind a sneezing man in a gray overcoat to avoid anyone noticing me.
I doubt anyone would have noticed me if I had rode in on an elephant, so absorbed in their own ailments they were. The practice had been open for a few hours now, and was in full swing. The waiting room was bustling full of sick-looking people strewn over every available piece of furniture. I approached an open chair hidden in the corner warily, examining it for germs carefully before perching on the edge. I was not keen to develop an illness myself, as most of the people in the room looked very miserable.
I had never been in Watson's practice during open hours but it was somewhat overwhelming even as a bystander. No wonder than fellow had come home looking absolutely exhausted every night this week. And, I reminded myself, he was volunteering at the hospital on top of it.
I was wrenched out of my thoughts when the consulting-room door opened slowly and my dear friend escorted a sickly old woman through it, patting her arm and reassuring her.
Watson look very much peaked himself, and his complexion rather matched many in the waiting room. It looked as though he did not get much sleep last night, as I had hoped for. He took a deep breath and exhaled wearily when he thought no one was watching, and turned to call in the next patient.
* I actually researched this (who would've thought?) to find a suitable illness and learned quite a bit of information about scarlet fever. It seems scarlet fever was a prominent and feared disease in the 19th century, and big child killer. But I know next to nothing about Victorian London, and even less about medicine during the time, so if anyone sees any mistakes please don't hesitate in pointing them out.
** Again, I rather surprised myself with the amount of research I did for this one. I said I no nothing of Victorian London, but I no nothing of modern day London either, due to living in America my whole life. So I started out with simply searching for a map, and found a wonderful link for a poverty map. I searched through that for a while, and with the help of Google maps, found this St. Mary's hospital, which is indeed real, and was around during the time, having been founded in 1845. I searched directions between the hospital and Baker St., and it comes out to being only .3 miles away. It's 2 miles from Kensington, which comes out to 40 minutes walking time. This is probably all very boring to everyone, but I found it fascinating. I'll put up a link of the poverty map anyway.
http –colon- forward slash- forward slash- www- dot- umich- dot- edu- forward slash- ~ - risotto- forward slash- maxzooms - forward slash- nw – forward slash- nwc56 – dot – html
I hope that works. Baker St. is in the top right hand corner, and St. Mary's is near Bell street, in the top left.