I know it has been far too long, but here it is, my newest creation. This was in the works for a good two months, the tail-end of my public school education distracting me with general stupidity. Hopefully, you will enjoy it. As for warnings, you all should know by now what to expect. There is male/male innuendo within, so be careful, although it is nothing that will scar you for life. Now, without further ado, enjoy.
Disclaimer: Do not own.
The snow was a vast ocean, its edge unseeable by the naked eye, and though it imposed upon us a great obstacle, we trudged through it nonetheless. The expanse of white was our only path to Hamsbury Manor, where Holmes was sure that the solution to his latest case lied in wait. We were like lost mariners; though we had no ship or sails, we were intent upon retrieving the golden treasure that hid beneath the waves—or, in this case, the drifts of the ponderous, glittering ice. It was piled nigh a foot deep, coating the frozen earth as thickly as a baker might ice a cake. As it came into contact with our legs it melted, weighing them down as if irons had been clapped to our ankles. All the same, we determinedly pressed onward—though it would be more accurate to say that Holmes did most of the pressing, while I was strung along behind him like a lost puppy, pushing myself with what little willpower I had left. Wrapping myself tighter into my coat I gritted my teeth and fought the urge to collapse into the soft snow, which seemed more and more inviting the greater my fatigue became. Fleetingly, I considered asking Holmes to rest a while, but I knew that such a request would not only be futile, but would probably put him out of his unusually good mood. He was like a bloodhound on the scent of a rabbit, and nothing was about to stop him from fetching his quarry.
Had I been in good health, a brisk trek such as that would never have troubled me so intensely. I was proud of my stamina, which was considerable despite my stocky frame, and most days I could keep pace with Holmes' frantic dashes to some degree. However, winter was bearing down hard upon London, it being nearly February, and my old battle scars were aching awfully, as they tended to do in cold weather. The muscles in my leg, still knotted with scar tissue, burned with every step that I took through the cruel stinging snow, and shortly after beginning our hike to Hamsbury, I found myself panting and sweating not from the effort of walking, but from the pain resulting. Shivers racked my body as the perspiration cooled, sticking to my clothing and making me more miserable than before. Holmes, of course, was chipper as a lark, as if he had been skipping through a field of poppies, rather than one covered in a blanket of ice.
"Come now, Watson! Only a short jaunt more!" Again, Holmes shouted over his shoulder in encouragement, unaware of the agony that I was enduring for his sake. It was the third time that he had done so, and each time I felt that I could have throttled him with my bare hands, had they not been firmly clamped beneath my armpits to conserve heat. 'A short jaunt, indeed. Pah! Easy for him to say.' I thought bitterly to myself, but as soon as the cruel thought came to my mind I retracted it like I would jerk my hand from an open flame. I knew better than anyone how much he had suffered at my expense; what right had I to complain?
Soon enough, we did come upon a house, but it was certainly not that of the Hamsburys. The little shack sat, a brownish-grey blot upon the snow, shivering in the wind like a small child huddled in the cold. Its walls, made of sun-bleached boards of cheap wood, curved inward slightly from the weight of its own roof, and the door swung precariously upon rusted hinges. The windows, framed by tattered curtains and covered by bricks, were shattered, the sill littered with tiny pieces of glass. It was clear that this "house" had not been lived in for some time. I wagered that it had been left behind by some wandering yeoman who had found greener pastures. To Holmes and I, it was the only scrap of civilization that we had seen for hours.
"Holmes? You've lost us!" He panted and laughed his barking laugh in return, his breath coming in short, steamy puffs.
"Lost? Nonsense, Watson, nonsense." Leaning on his knee, he paused to catch his breath. "We have simply…strayed from the path, that is all." I rolled my eyes and rubbed my sore leg gingerly. The pain had quelled to a dull throb, but it was enough to cause me great discomfort. Now that we had stopped, I was not sure if I would be able to start again.
"Holmes, I swear…" I grunted and rose back to full height. The storm had quickened since we had arrived at the shanty. It was impossible to see in any direction for more than ten feet. "We have to rest, Holmes. To continue any further would be suicide! You surely see that!" Holmes stood, his hands jammed into his pockets and his brows knitted together. He hated any pauses in his work, but even he recognized the danger that he would be flirting with, should he try to push through the blizzard.
"Very well. This place seems as good as any." He wrenched the door open and motioned inside. "After you, my dear doctor." I nodded and entered.
The shanty was surprisingly comfortable, given its age and condition. The only pieces of furniture were a pair of chairs, a tiny table, and a bed frame filled with dry straw and burlap sacks. Clearly, the past owner had not seen the need to empty his home of the refuse therein. It would, however, serve as a comfortable enough refuge until the storm's end. Holmes did not waste time observing and set to work immediately, barring the door with a piece of loose lumber and throwing the remainder into the fireplace, charred and full of old soot. I sat in one of the sturdier chairs, massaging my leg and breathing upon my hands to warm them.
"What a pain," I heard Holmes mutter to himself. "Nature, it seems, has a vendetta against me." I sighed and nodded.
"So it would seem. Will we be late?" Holmes did not turn to address me, but instead continued to load up the hearth with straw and wood.
"Most certainly. Had the cabs been available, it would not have been an issue."
"Now, Holmes. There would have been no way to manoeuvre a hansom through this mess." He growled to himself and pulled out his matchbox.
"Indeed. I should say I could have driven the bloody thing to kingdom come if need be." Removing myself from the argument, I instead chose to watch Holmes work. He picked the old table up and, with a great heave, smashed it against the stone hearth. The feat did not surprise me; I knew firsthand that despite Holmes' gaunt frame, he was in fact quite strong. He then tossed the wood into the pile of hay and lumber that he had accumulated and, with a graceful flick of his wrist, whipped his matchbox from his pocket and lit it, carefully placing it into the mess. It only took a few puffs of air from Holmes' lips to coax the dry wood and tinder to catch fire. I could already feel the air warming, and my pain in my leg began to soothe.
"Nicely done, Holmes; excellent work." I grinned and pulled myself closer to the heat. Holmes only nodded and followed suit, rubbing his hands together before the fire. We sat like that in silence for a good half-hour, I afraid to break the stillness and he lost in thought, more than likely contemplating how he was to make up for the time that he had lost thanks to the blizzard. I could see his brow beading with sweat, and I myself had grown rather warm. Reaching out with my damp hand, I touched him on the shoulder. "Holmes, are you alright?" His gaze did not leave the fire as he spoke.
"Quite alright, my dear Watson, I was…merely reminiscing." I was taken aback by this. Holmes very rarely thought of anything dealing with the past. He was a man of the moment; dwelling on what had come and gone was against his character entirely.
"Well…what on Earth could bothering you, my dear fellow, to put you in such a state?" He shook his head.
"It is nothing of import. Instead, we should be thinking of how to get out of this mess." I smiled half-heartedly.
"But…you are not. You are preoccupied with something else. It is most…"
"Irregular." He chuckled sardonically, his narrow shoulders shaking with the sudden movement.
"Most everything I do is 'irregular', Watson, or have you not noticed?" I could not answer; had I bothered, we both would have known the answer anyhow. He directed his attention to my sore leg. "It…does not hurt too badly, does it, old friend?" I waved my hand and laughed easily.
"Of course not, Holmes. Don't worry yourself over me." At that, his lips curled into a bitter smirk.
"You, my friend, are perhaps the only person I have to worry about. You cannot ask me to forget your well-being, when you are such a treasure to me." I felt a blush rise to my cheeks and I turned away, knowing full well that it was not from the heat of the fire. "So. How shall we occupy ourselves while we wait for this infernal storm to settle?"
"Well, old boy…" I started. "We could, I suppose, sit and talk. We haven't been able to have a comfortable chat together for days, you've been so busy." He nodded and sighed.
"If you like. What would you like to discuss, old boy?" I focused every ounce of my attention on him, piercing him with my gaze, and I saw him shift beneath it uncomfortably.
"I would like to discuss what the devil has you in such a terrible mess. You can't really be so disappointed by this storm, can you?" Sherlock shook his head, chuckling to himself.
"Clever move, Dr. Watson, very clever. Very well—if you would like, I shall indulge your curiosity." I nodded, feeling like a child awaiting an exciting bedtime story. Before he began, he stripped himself of his damp overcoat and rolled up his sleeves. "Much better."
"Go on, Holmes." The opportunity to learn something about my friend was quite a rarity, and I was not about to let it slip away.
"Today, Watson, is my mother's birthday." I blinked, confused by this anti-climatic beginning to the narrative.
"Well…er, that is all well and good, Holmes, but—" He raised a hand to stop me.
"Allow me to finish. I shall divulge the reasons for my melancholy in short order, I swear it." He sighed heavily, running a hand through his damp hair. "My father, Sherringford Holmes, met my mother at a party on her birthday. It was love at first sight, the way he described it, and they married as soon as my father could scrape together an acceptable dowry. My mother was of noble birth, you see, and her family would have never accepted my father's proposal, had he not acquired the money to back it up."
"I see." The story was becoming more and more intriguing the further it went, more like a fairy tale than a biography.
"Once my mother and father married, they gave birth to Mycroft in short order, and he was the light in my father's eye…so much so that they neglected to have more children for seven years. Finally—and I suppose that it must have been my mother's idea—they decided to give Mycroft a sibling."
"Yes. However, things did not go quite as smoothly as they did with my brother." Being a doctor, I felt that I knew where the story was headed from there, but remained silent, eager to hear it to the end. "When it was time for me to be born, my mother was physically unwell. She had just recently recovered from a terrible bout of influenza, and her body was weak. After a long four hours of labor….she passed away. My father was devastated." Holmes' eyebrows knitted together and his face flushed with what I could only perceive as anger. His voice shook as he continued. "To this very day, he attests that had I not been conceived my mother would still be alive, as if my very existence proved my guilt. I am sure that he has not forgotten this day, any more than I have." I was utterly astonished.
"Holmes…you don't believe it, do you? Tell me that you don't; it's utter nonsense!" He barely looked at me as he shrugged his shoulders.
"My common sense tells me, of course, that it could never have been my fault, but all the same…how am I to know? Perhaps she would have made a full recovery, had I not been conceived. Perhaps if I had not survived at all…" At this, I reached across the floor and slapped him as hard as I could.
"Holmes! Stop this immediately!" I took him by the shoulders and shook him gently. "What do you think would have happened, had you died? Think, Holmes! Think of all the people who would be dead, or blackmailed, or burglarized! Think of all the people you have helped; who you are going to help! That is the confirmation of your existence, Holmes, not the puerile ramblings of a heartbroken old man." Without thinking, I pulled him into my arms and held tight, my skin hot against his. Before I had realized what I had done, I felt his thin body tremble. With a great heaving breath, he began to sob against my neck, warm tears leaking beneath the collar of my shirt. The absurdity of it all was mind-boggling—Sherlock Holmes, cool and calculating, was falling to pieces in my arms like a child. And yet…I could not deny that the truth of his humanity was a comfort to me.
"J-John…wh-what you must th-think of me…" He tried to pry himself from my grasp, but I held tight, refusing to let him deprive himself of that which he desperately needed.
"What does it matter, you fool? Shhh…" After a moment, he quieted, falling asleep upon my chest. The heat of the fire and the beating of his heart, so close to mine, lulled me into a drowsy daze and I too nodded off, but not before placing a careful kiss upon his brow. We slept motionless till morning, the heartache of the evening forgotten in favor of sweeter dreams.
The sun, bright against the white landscape, shook me from my slumber the next morning. I had awoken to find that Holmes was gone, but I could soon hear him outside the shack, struggling to move the snow that had blocked our path to the main road. Smiling, I stretched and rubbed the sleep from my eyes before going out to help him. I could have laughed out loud at the sight of him, physically pushing the drifts away with his long spindly arms and legs, but I held back for his sake.
"Good morning, Holmes. I see you've regained your…typical enthusiasm." Holmes laughed and kicked away another heap of snow.
"Why, I hadn't lost it, old boy! Come now, I believe I have found the road. Another mile or so and we'll be at Hamsbury in short order." It was as if the night before had never happened, and although I was pleased that Holmes had recovered from his grief, I did wish that he had somehow managed to detect my true feelings. It was, of course, a trifling thing; his happiness was what I desired more than anything. I nodded and took to the path with him, keeping a good pace despite my sore leg, and soon enough, we could see the manor on the horizon. Before I could reach for the gate, Holmes abruptly stopped, pulling me toward him by the sleeve of my coat.
"Holmes?" I faced him and tried not to blush when his hand touched my arm.
"My dearest Watson, I cannot thank you enough for what you did for me last night. Your words were more a comfort than any other I could ever ask for."
"Oh, it was nothing, old boy—"
"But it was. No doubt I made you terribly uncomfortable last night, and I am sure that anyone else would have never…" I tried not to smile when his cheeks turned slightly pink in embarrassment.
"Holmes, come now. You are my friend; it is my job to give comfort and advice when needed." His dark eyes bored intensely into mine, and I could not force myself to look away.
"Indeed." With a small smile, he leaned down gracefully and planted a cold kiss upon my forehead, which flared with heat at the touch of his lips. "Come now, Watson. We must hurry." He whispered and turned away, leaving me astonished, uncomfortable, and utterly happy. Secretly, as I hurried to catch up to my long-legged friend, I hoped that another storm would leave us snowbound again soon.
EDIT: Did some touch-ups, but nothing that terribly affects the storyline. I thought the ending was far too bland.