5 Times Watson Was Replaced and 1 Time He Wasn't

NB: Hello! Sorry for bringing forth yet ANOTHER 5 times fic, but my muse doesn't want to seem to quieten down! Anyway...enjoy please, and do review if you did, it encourages me no end :).

I do not own the characters, although I do have to constantly quell the unmistakeable urge to hug them...

1. A New Doctor

It was at one of Lord Radford's famous dinner parties that Watson first found out he had been replaced. Radford's parties were well known for being splendid, with every notable person being on the invitation list, and the food was so renowned that even Holmes (who had solved a trifling case or two for the Lord in years past and so had been grudgingly invited) turned up. Watson did not realise this at first - Mary had him in hand and was dragging him around, introducing him to apparently random females with all the glee of a newly married woman, and as a result he was not free to properly look around for over an hour.

It was the ripple of laughter floating from a small group in the centre of the hall that had him looking, and it was the source of the laughter that had him staring.

It was Holmes, but not Holmes as Watson had last seen him (two days after his honeymoon…lying flat-out on the floor of his even-more-destroyed-than-usual room, eyes wide, soaring somewhere a thousand miles away on the back of one his dreadful drugs)…no, this Holmes was…well, there was no other word for it - clean.

He was clean and tidy, wearing clothes that were new and entirely his, and he was laughing, and for once in a sober fashion…and…and these people were hanging on his every word.

Watson felt his jaw drop. The crowd, gathering by the moment, let out another roar at one of Holmes's quips and he laughed with them, his face glowing and eyes glittering with genuine amusement. It had been so long since Watson had seen that expression on Holmes's face that he had to study him hard, just to make sure he wasn't actually mocking them. He was walking towards him before he could think twice.

Holmes seemingly didn't notice Watson's approach, for he launched into another amusing story, and by the time Watson was by his shoulder, was too involved in the punch line to fully acknowledge him, just giving him a little nod before turning back to his eager crowd. Watson hovered on the sidelines, watching Holmes's profile as he entertained the troops; he hadn't seen Holmes like this in so long, in too long, and suddenly he couldn't remember the last time, and something twisted in his stomach. Had Holmes ever laughed with Watson like this? At all…?

Holmes finished the joke, everyone giggled and chuckled, and turned to their respective partner to share the amusement, and Holmes finally turned to Watson, giving him a sidelong grin.

"Good evening, old boy. Ah - !" He leapt to the side to intercept a waiter carrying a tray of filled champagne glasses, missing Watson's own glass raised in respectful greeting. Watson crossed over to stand in front of him before Holmes could be pulled in by another giggling group of ladies (who were hovering annoyingly close to the detective, Watson noted tensely).

"Holmes…you look…"

"Mmm?" Holmes sipped at his champagne, looking over Watson's shoulder at the mixing masses and distinctly only half listening when Watson rambled on.

"You look clean - and for once in your own clothes - and your hair - and you're actually talking to people without mocking them - "

"You say this like it's an unexpected thing - good evening Señor Marcella!"

"Well…it's - " Watson started, but Holmes was already waving cordially over his shoulder, and he realised he had lost him. He glanced over his own shoulder, to where an unknown, thickset man donned in a military uniform along with several medals and sporting a large moustache was raising his glass to Holmes across the room, nodding respectfully.

"Who's he?" Watson asked, as they watched the man whisper something to the people standing with him, and they all turned to gaze at Holmes with wide eyes.

"Oh…just a case I was working on. You weren't there, you wouldn't know it. Nothing particularly enlightening, though there were some points of interest - "

"You're - you're working on cases?" The last time Watson had seen him, Holmes had been up for nothing except his next fix.

Holmes sniffed disdainfully, as if implying that he wasn't constantly working was a glaring slight on his professional character.

"Well, naturally. There have been some rather dramatic ones - you would have enjoyed them." He raised his hand to scratch at his nose, distractedly looking around again at the room, and Watson noticed what he had not before - that Holmes's hand was tightly bandaged up.

The doctor in him took over, and he had reached over before he knew what he was doing, taking Holmes's hand in his and inspecting it carefully. Holmes watched him with the barest of interest.

"A rather perilous case, I suppose?" Watson asked.

"Hmm?" Holmes was watching a group of tittering young ladies now, with a thoughtful expression, and Watson resisted the vindictive urge to squeeze his wounded hand.

"The case?" he prompted instead.

"Oh yes," Holmes said vaguely, his head now tilted slightly to the side. "Quite perilous. My hand came into a rather unfortunate contact with a 17th century rapier. Needless to say, I still got my man." Finally, finally he met Watson's eyes and grinned, taking another sip of his champagne.

Watson frowned down at the bandages instead of matching the smile with his own, his brow creased in concentration.

"This was bandaged up too neatly for you to have done it," he observed.

"What? Oh yes, I got the doctor to bandage it." Holmes's eyes were wandering again, so he missed Watson's sudden start, although he flinched at the fleetingly tight grip Watson pressed on his hand.

"Another doctor? You…saw another doctor?"

Holmes glanced back at him. "Yes?" he said, as if he couldn't understand why in the world Watson would be surprised at this.

Watson gaped at him. "But you…why didn't you come to see me?"

"You? I assumed you weren't interested, since you were so set on becoming domestic." Holmes shot Watson one of his fleeting smiles that said he didn't want to smile at all, and broke off eye contact quickly, nodding at someone else passing beside them and withdrawing his hand from Watson's grip.

"Yes, but…" Watson trailed off again, irritated and confused at his irritation. Why should he be annoyed that Holmes had left him alone? That was what he had been professing to want for months. He should be glad, if anything. He downed his champagne, feeling off-balance.

"Anyway," Holmes continued, all blithe ignorance. "Doctor Forthright was close, and offered to fix me up quite happily - "

"Forthright?" Watson interrupted snidely. "You mean the Forthright who would have been locked up several times for gross negligence if he hadn't bribed himself out of the courts? That Forthright?" He realised he sounded jealous, and once again hesitated, wondering why he should do so. If some other doctor wanted to take the role of being Holmes's nursemaid, then the best of British luck to them - they were going to need it.

Except…that used to be his job…

Holmes shrugged, apparently oblivious of the rearing of Watson's green-eyed monster, and waved at someone else before looking back at his jealous doctor.

"All I know is that he did a good job on my hand." He waited a beat. "Even better than you, in fact."

Watson slammed his empty glass onto a passing waiter's tray and flounced off. Holmes took a new glass, sipped at it, and smiled to himself, then went to join another group who were clamouring for his stories and company and whom he all soon charmed.

Watson avoided him for the rest of the night.

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