Author's Notes: This is what I wrote for the Christmas fic exchange on Watson's Woes. The result was that I got to spend a day with Doctor Watson just being a metropolitan doctor on his route. There is no conflict to resolve or case to solve, just a middle aged man going about his business. I hope you all find it as enjoyable as I did.
7. I wish for (1): something highlighting Watson as a doctor
I do NOT wish for: slash or a Watson or Holmes already dead or dying
Anything else you think might be useful to your secret Santa? interaction between W and H a must, even if it is a memory.
So thanks for joining me...let the journey begin...
He opened his eyes after killing the jangling alarm; the room lit by the dawn, was a very familiar sight after all these years.
The bureau was the same scratched relic that he had bought when he moved in with his new flatmate all those years ago. He left it here for the time he moved out to be with his beloved Mary, but like a trusty friend, it received his clothes when he came back as if he had never left. The washstand and its porcelain implements waited as they had for many years patiently for his ministrations. His eyes found the portrait of his dear Mary on the night stand, he gave his finger tips a gentle kiss and touched the frame as he had every morning since he could no longer touch her lips.
His bare feet touched the cold floor, questing for the slippers, and he stretched out all the aching muscles, made the usual groaning noises and yawns, the morning sun breaking through the high round window above bringing out the silver overtaking his ever increasingly sparse hair.
He was getting to be an old man now, gone was the browned limping young man with the haunted eyes, and in his place was this greying chap firmly entrenched in the middle years. It was not as much of a burden to him as it was to his flatmate, who fought the inevitable slowdown with vehemence and a grudge against time and providence.
He had rounds to make, people relying on him, which made all the difference to his sense of well-being.
He drug his old carcass out of the warm blankets and with an idle scratch began the process of getting this worn body ready for the day.
Later, showered and shaved and dressed in a wool travel suit, stifling a bad case of yawns, he took the first scalding black cup straight with a wince as he scanned the paper, Mrs. Hudson always was the first up, he wasn't sure how the elder lady could still accomplish this in her later years, but he learned to leave the small miracles along and leave the curiosity to his flatmate. He spread the butter on his toast points, glowering at the sensationalistic headlines about what the reporter insinuated was Scotland Yard negligence.
He could hear his old friend Lestrade grumbling in his head. It's the press, John, you gotta live with them, cause you can't legally shoot them, at least I haven't figured out how!
He folded the paper and left it for his partner who was not due to stir for a couple hours yet, he had heard the man bustling about like a nocturnal herd of irritated Pamplona bulls earlier in the dark hours that morning.
He made a quick brush of his teeth and lifted the medical bag he had packed the night before, as he placed the bowler on his thinning hair, and grabbed a sturdy cane to descend to the street door.
With a hiss at the brisk early morning air knotting up his shoulder and leg, he stepped to the curb and flagged his first cab of the day.
On the way, he pulled a notepad out of his inner coat pocket and checked the list of names. This was Thursday, the day he reserved for his charity cases, the day he did what he felt was his true work. The address he gave the cabby was in Bethnal Green, deep in the East End, he had little fear of the run down area, but the cabby gave him an odd look as they started.
The "Green" was a strange mixture of beauty and melancholy to Watson, he knew it more on smell than sight, there was a free clinic down this way that he visited, he met his next client there when she was pregnant with the little boy he was now visiting to treat for a broken arm.
She was watching for him on the porch of the ramshackle tenant where she and her small family eked out their existence.
Her sweet, unadorned, but pretty face lit up as she saw him exit the cab and pay the driver.
"Hello, Doctor, you made it," she called with a sigh of relief. Her little tow headed girl was clinging to her shabby skirts staring at him with curious eyes even though he had been there at least a dozen times in the last few months.
"I said I was coming, you must learn to take me at my word, Charlotte," he replied as he climbed the stairs careful to miss that loose board which almost took him down the last time through.
She took his chiding with grace as the little girl planted her thumb in her little mouth.
"Now, Sarah, sweetheart, we had a talk about sucking your thumb and how that effects your teeth," Watson said with a wink for the little girl, her thumb came back out with a small pop.
He patted her head as he passed following her mum into the ramshackle front room.
Her son was trying to act innocent about something, when Watson entered. He saw the shells of various nuts on the untreated timber floors, so he had a hunch.
"Bobby, bring your cast over so the Doc can have a look atcha," she called.
He came forward a bit bashfully and offered the little plaster forearm.
Watson studied it a little bit, raised one eyebrow when he saw the cracks in the underside.
"You've been doing some hammering?" he murmured just low enough for the boy to hear.
"Jes sum nutz, Doc, dint hut nuthin," he replied without meeting his eyes.
He called to the mother, "I'll need to cut this one off and check the break, hold him still?"
He held the cast down and pulled out the saw. Bobby's eyes got big and round, he had a fear of blades for some reason, Watson had never asked, but he had stitched the little boy up once before, it was just one of the sad events you witnessed when you work with the poor.
"Hold real still, Bobby, and I'll give you some candy after, deal?"
Bobby's eyes were showing white but he nodded as Watson began the careful process of removing the cast, the little boy fought not to jerk away, and finally his little arm came free, Watson saw the scratch marks on the skin that made him smile.
"It itches a bit, does it not?" he inquired as he felt of the bone carefully.
Bobby nodded, and then he hissed when the doctor reached the midpoint of his forearm. Watson's practiced fingers found that the bone was healing but it would be a few weeks yet.
"Sorry, my boy, we have to put you another one on, this time, no cracking nuts, all right?"
Bobby nodded; Watson pulled out the plaster of Paris and the gauze and asked for some water, less than a half an hour later, Bobby and Sarah were happily consuming some peppermint sticks, Bobby trying out his new cast.
"Thank you, Doctor, I don't know how I can repay you," Charlotte said in a soft voice, she was standing a bit too close and her eyes showed some intent.
Watson gently took her hand. "You don't owe me anything, dear girl, you have known little kindness in your life these last months, but hold on, Riley will be back from his cruise and you will want to be able to meet his eyes. Things are tough but don't make permanent mistakes because of temporary circumstances."
She nodded a tear slipped down her cheek. He gently raised her chin and gave her a smile, and slipped a few bills into her hand, along with a peppermint stick for her. It was a small gesture, but the smile she returned was worth every penny.
He left soon after. It was not the first time he was propositioned in his work, he had little faith that it was his appearance that drew their eye, and it was just the inherent gentleness that they felt from him in his medical capacity that shone to them like a beacon in a fog bank. Some of these women had met so few kind men in their lives, a man showing the slightest warmth became intensely magnified.
He checked his list as he walked a few blocks through the filthy trash strewn streets, catching a few glances from some characters you did not want eyeing you. They soon realized who he was and moved on to easier potential prey. That breathing room was created months ago when the seeming harmless doctor suddenly pulled out a Webley and blew a bottle out of a man's hand with a cold accuracy, then fended off two of his friends with brutal efficiency with his cane. One demonstration was all it took for word to get around. It was survival of the fittest on these streets, if you showed yourself capable; they moved on, in a way, with the unwritten Darwinian rules, it was almost civilized.
Holmes was sure that he was going to meet his death in an alleyway down here, but Watson did not care, he wanted to help people, and the people who needed him the most did not dwell in well-maintained West End residences on well-lit constable patrolled streets.
He made rounds to two of the four free clinics, knowing that the other two would have doctors this time of month, and then he caught a cab for the Victoria Embankment overlooking the Thames.
Received at Scotland Yard with warmth and familiarity, he made his way down winding through the well-wishers.
"If yer here to see tha old man, I'd pass it if I were you," one of the young constables murmured as he passed.
"Thanks for the warning, Constable Pike, but alas I'm here on medical business," Watson replied in a low tone.
Pike rolled his eyes, "Better you than me, mate."
Watson chuckled; he made the Common room in time to hear a familiar voice yell, "Where is the Tisbury case? I asked for it this morning!"
An extremely irritated voice replied, "It's under your left hand, boss!"
"Well, why didn't you say something?"
Watson made his way behind the raging Chief Inspector, the constables saw him and all did an admirable job of showing blank faces, he sat on the edge of a desk and placed his cane across his lap waiting expectantly.
"Tell me when that infernal Doctor Watson gets here; I'll be in my office," Lestrade bellowed, he turned, brought up short by Watson's presence.
"One infernal doctor, at your service, Chief Inspector," he replied tipping his hat.
Laughter flooded the room, accompanying a few good-natured jibs, Lestrade glared at his friend and brushed by him on his way to the office. Watson nodded to the men and followed him in.
"I should have never given you credentials," Lestrade lamented.
Watson shook his head in exasperation and held out his hand; Lestrade rolled up his sleeve and laid his wrist in Watson's grip as Watson checked his watch.
"I swear, these monthly physicals are enough to cause a man to retire," Lestrade growled.
"Unhmmmm, your pulse is elevated, I take it you read the newspaper," Watson quipped; he had heard it all before.
He checked Lestrade's blood pressure while the man ranted and raved about the odious nature of printed press, Lestrade still kept trying to talk around the tongue depressor as Watson checked his throat and ears, and pressed a stethoscope to his bare chest and back to listen to his lungs. Watson completed a usual thorough exam and ignored the Chief Inspector for the most part. Lestrade was an easy conversation, over the years Watson figured out when to agree, Lestrade still had yet to figure out that he was essentially talking to himself.
"...and hung up by their toes over a vat of angry moray eels!" Lestrade finished.
Watson just replied, "Got the Glycerine pills?"
Lestrade rattled the pill vial in front of Watson's eyes showing he still had plenty of doses.
"I'll let you get back to your day, unless there is a body I need to look at for you?" Watson inquired; he still did some consultation from time to time.
"Just take your medical degree, and shove off," Lestrade nodded toward the door.
Watson smirked, "Still on for Friday at 6:00?"
"Don't be late," Lestrade replied as he bent back to his work.
Watson shot back as he opened the door, "don't be early, last time you got mad at me for making you wait and you were there nearly a half an hour too soon!"
"Just go!" Lestrade replied pointing out the door.
Watson laughed and obliged him.
He stopped by the Superintendent's office on his way out. The tall slender man within was just entering middle age himself, his thick well-trimmed moustache showing first signs of gray. "How's the old man?" Hopkins asked when he saw who was sticking his head in the door.
"Fit as a fiddle, if the fiddle was about ten years over its expiration date," Watson replied.
Hopkins sighed. "As long as he can do the work, as long as he wants to stay, I promised him a place here."
Watson nodded. "Even a few years past his prime he's still the best Scotland Yard's got."
"Don't I know it," Hopkins replied with a grin.
They two men exchanged nods and Watson was on his way.
It was nearing noon, so he made his way to Piccadilly Square, there was a cart there that made the best Fish and Chips.
The proprietor saw him coming up the walk. "Hallo Doc, want me to drop ya a basket?"
"That would be splendid, George, how's the leg?"
George dropped the slab cut potatoes into the kettle of oil as he responded, "it's doin ahright, I guess, I need some more of those pills though."
Watson frowned at him. "Be careful and don't overdo those pills, son."
George expertly ladled the chips out along with the deep fried pike onto a plate, and accepted Watson's money," Sorry, doc, just gotta stay on my feet, ya know how it is. I won't get hooked, I promise."
Watson sighed and reached into his bag and pulled out some pills. "No more of these for a while, take the dosage we discussed."
George accepted the bottle eagerly.
Watson inhaled the scent of the dish, before remarking, "thanks, George, this smells wonderful."
George nodded, "Thank you, Doc."
Watson made his way to a favourite bench, he saw George already pop one of the pills in his mouth. He did not find it too alarming since they were just a sugar-coated placebo. He had figured out that the vendor was a hypochondriac early on, and rather than let some unscrupulous medico drain the man's pocket, he gave him some from his own bag. It was a good thing since George would be a full-blown addict by now otherwise.
He was just enjoying his fish and chips when he heard a commotion.
"Stop that man!" accompanied by the sounds of police whistles let him know that the action was passing his way.
He was too old for rugby tackles, that last snapped collarbone had finally convinced him of that fact, so he waited until he saw the runner trailing a woman's purse pass by and caught the man's foot with his cane.
The thief went down and skidded in the grass, before he could get back up, the two young constables were on him. After the subjugation and cuffing was done, they looked up and recognized their helper.
"Doctor Watson, what you doin in tha park?" asked the taller one.
The less verbal but more intelligent constable punched his partner on the shoulder. "He's got some fish and chips from George's cart, whaddaya think he's doin?"
They both murmured their thanks as they hauled the glowering would be thief off; Watson started back eating his chips when a young lady made her way to him her face pensive, "I heard someone call you a Doctor?"
He tried not to let his irritation show, she was holding a tiny mewling bundle.
"I hate to bother you, since it looks like you're eating, but my little Laura isn't looking so good, my Doctor says that nothing is wrong, that she's just colicky but I don't know. I brought her out for some fresh air."
Watson set his meal to the side and wiped his fingers on the accompanying napkin. He held out his hands and accepted the little girl expertly, talking to the infant in soothing tones as he did an cursory inspection.
He saw a problem immediately. "What is your Doctor's name?" He inquired.
"Doctor Taylor, out in Paddington," she replied.
Watson sighed wearily; he had cleaned up that particular doctor's messes more than once.
"Your little girl needs immediate medical attention, she is jaundiced, but she'll be fine with treatment," he informed as gently as possible. To her credit, the mother did not show signs of panic; she teared up but nodded agreement.
She accepted her little girl back and settled her into a bassinet as Watson with a rueful smile dumped his lunch in a nearby receptacle.
A couple of hours later, there was a knock on the door of a practice in Paddington, when the elderly doctor opened he saw a grim Doctor Watson, with a member of the Greater London Medical Board. "It's time to discuss retirement, Ronald," Watson informed with a gentle voice that still managed to be adamant.
The man's shoulders slumped; he let them in without another word.
The rest of the day was less eventful as Watson visited a couple of his wealthier clients to make up for the charity work and taught some interns at St. Barts proper suturing techniques. However, not finding the time to take a meal.
That evening, Watson made his way slowly up the stairs of 221b Baker Street. He heard someone strangling a laryngitic cat, which meant that Holmes was experimenting with the Stradivarius, and the scent of foul pipe smoke was a miasma in the air as he made the landing telling him that his flatmate had been in residence the entire day, most likely spending the time brooding.
"Ah, there you are Watson," Holmes called from his perch, misusing the armoire yet again.
"Hullo, Holmes," Watson called out weakly, as he shed his hat, coat and cane. Lowering the heavy medical bag to the floor for the first time in what felt like hours.
"Missus Hudson is keeping your dinner warm," he remarked turning back to his violin.
"Bless her," Watson remarked as he settled heavily on the couch across with a weary sigh.
"Today was one of the most tedious passages of time I have ever endured," Holmes lamented as he went back to committing sonic atrocities, "I hope you fared better."
Watson pursed his lips as he thought about the day. "Oh, my day was nothing special."
Holmes frowned. "That is too bad."
Watson leaned back and smiled. "I don't know, for me in my line, uneventful is a good thing."
Holmes studied him carefully, before remarking, "Indeed."
Holmes went back to his composition but changing to a soothing melody, and then heard the inevitable soft snoring across from him.
He sat his instrument down and studied his napping partner and friend. His trained eye could tell that his friend was exaggerating at how innocuous his day, from the traces of "Green" mud on his shoes, plaster on his left cuff, a slight whiff of Scotland Yard cigarette, a new notch on his cane, baby spit up on his left shoulder, and clinic spirit.
Nothing special... for you, my friend.
"Rest well, dear Watson, maybe tomorrow will bring more excitement for us both."
Thanks for joining me on the journey. I hope you enjoyed spending the day with our favorite Victorian doctor.
May your days be uneventful as well.