I had somehow managed to get Holmes to sleep in a proper bed for once, the how is another story entirely. I knew he had finally exhausted himself again, just because his hand was mending did not mean that he himself was taking any rest. Plus we had had quite the adventure yesterday.
The following morning I decided to break the news to Holmes that I needed to attend to business at my practice. It is bad form to take too long an absence when you are a doctor. This morning I had arose before Holmes, much to the surprise of Mrs. Hudson, and had the delight of being the first to read the morning herald. A small thing to be sure, but the morning paper was usually quite thoroughly picked through before I had any chance to set eyes upon it. The door opened a short time later revealing Holmes, partially dressed and in his dressing gown.
"Good morning," He smiled pouring himself some coffee and standing by the window to look out upon the street below.
I sat up, folding the paper before tossing it down on the table and wiping my mouth with my napkin.
"I have some business to attend to this morning, Holmes." I began, before I being cut off.
"Of course, you cannot leave your ailing clients sides for too long." Holmes said. "Mind if I join you, though?" He asked.
"I hardly think that is appropriate." Said I.
"Forgive me, I meant in the journey to your office, not on the appointments themselves. I quite fancy a little jaunt about today." He smiled, his eyes twinkling with an unknown merriment.
"Why of course, I would love the company." I smiled. "Though I dare say you are up to something."
"I haven't the foggiest idea, of where you are getting your information, but you are surely mistaken." He replied.
"Hmm," I quirked my brow not believing him. "Anyway," Said I rising from my chair. "I really must be off, you coming then?"
"Ah, yes." Holmes said, downing the last of his coffee and running up to toss on the remainder of his clothes.
We left the confides of Baker Street at half past and proceeded on foot towards my quaint office. I could tell Holmes was again lost in thought as we wove our way through the busy London streets, in a comfortable silence. As we passed the flower girls one of the women peddling her wears smiled at us, I politely returned her smile.
"Wha's with the long face gov'ner? Smile." She said, addressing Holmes.
"Only fools smile for no reason." He replied sardonically.
"Aye, but the sun is shining, ain't that reason nuff?"
"That is hardly enough to warrant a day's wear of a smile," He began. "There are so many other items with in the day that will not be ignored."
"Ignorance is bliss, they say." She smiled. I stood by idly hoping that this would not continue any further.
"Those who say that, do not know the real meaning of their words. Ignorance is not bliss, it is merely a guise that stupidity hides under." With that I rolled my eyes at Holmes, and paid the young girl for a small bunch of flowers before shuffling Holmes off.
"It is not even noon, Sherlock." Said I exasperated.
"She needed to be informed, we cannot have another mindless dredge clogging up the system." He said, arrogantly. "Who does she presume to be anyway, I cannot help it if I do not look happy whilst in thought, and either way it is my own business." Holmes ranted.
I shook my head and dug in my pocket for my key as we made our way to my office door. Another realization hit me then, this was another place Holmes had yet to see.
"It seems you are not doing too bad yourself here, Watson." Holmes said looking around, his sharp eyes appraising every aspect of the space.
"I manage," I smiled as I gave Holmes the grand tour of the small practice I procured for myself.
"Well, it is lovely. I have but to wonder, why this is the first I am seeing your new office." Holmes said prodding one of the examination tools on the shelf.
"I could ask you the same thing." I replied, leaving it at that.
"Quite right," Holmes said turning towards me. "I shant keep you any longer, then. I have some business of my own that needs seeing to."
"Unless, something dire arises, I will return in time for dinner." I told him, answering his question without him having to ask it.
"Do try, my errand will not detain me too long and I will be want of something to do." Holmes said, that glint returning to his eyes.
I cleared my throat, looking up at him from behind my desk. "Mrs. Tenningson, should be arriving any moment Holmes." I informed him, his features darkening briefly before returning to normal.
"Good day, then." He said, moving to head out through the door.
"Oh and Holmes." I called after him rising before crossing the room as he turned toward me. I kissed him briefly, catching him slightly off guard. "Have a good day." I said. Holmes merely recomposed himself before slipping out the door.
The day was progressing in the usual manner. Mr. Cuthbert's allergies where flaring up again and 's cough was progressively getting better. It had finally settled down and I was finishing up some backlogged paperwork that accumulated in my absence. I was diligently working, about to wrap up for the day, when this young lad rushed into my office, I quickly rouse in surprise of the outburst.
"Please, doctor, you must come at once." The boy said, catching his breath. "Lord and Lady Berkneil sent me, they need your assistance at once."
"Whatever is the matter?" I asked.
"No time, there was a duel of some sort, but really you must come at once."
"Of course," Said I swinging my overcoat of my chair and grabbing my hat as we made our way out the door.
If I had known then what awaited me, I would never have gone with that lad. However, retrospect being what it is. I hastily followed the boy into the cab that I presumed brought him here and we were quickly on our way.
It was on the out skirts of town, in a larger estate that we finally found ourselves. I quickly stepped out with my bag, the kid close upon my heels. The door opened almost instantly for us and we where led out the back to the veranda.
Before me, laid quite the sight. A couple maids stood over there lady as she did her best to comfort her ailing husband who was laid out on one of the outdoor lounge chairs . He was losing a lot of blood at a rapid rate, from a gun wound I perceived.
"What is the matter here?" I asked, placing my bag down and removing my hand and coat in order to roll up my sleeves.
"I try to warn him against such foolishness." The lady bemoaned. "It was another one of his dreadful duels, he's a bit of gambler you see." She did her best not to wail.
"Step aside." Said I, as I bent over the man to assess the situation. It was quite the wound from what I could tell. I ordered the maids to quickly fetch some linens and water as I opened my case to ready the tools I would be needing.
I worked as quickly as I could, wiping up the blood the best I could to fully see the wound before trying to remove the bullet. I worked tirelessly for lord knows how long, but he was already in such bad shape that by the time I removed the bullet he was already slipping away. I did all that I could, perhaps if I had arrived only a few minutes before there would have been a different out come to this affair. I wiped the blood off my hands before closing the man's eyes in reverence, and stood turning to address the Lady of the house.
"I'm so sorry, marm, there is nothing else I can do for him now. He is in god's hands." I said in a reassuring tone. The lady stared at me, her eyes wide as it all sunk and she burst out into a fit of hysterics. I felt helpless, I could offer her no solace, for the one thing she had hoped upon me for was no longer possible. I am no miracle worker.
"Perhaps some tea," I said to one of the nurses and she nodded somberly.
"I, I cannot, not without him, no, no, NO!" She ranted moving to sit down before changing her mind and running from the room.
I can barely bring myself to record what happened next. A loud sound rang out through grounds, it was the unmistakenable sound of a gunshot and my heart sank to the lowest pit of my stomach. We all rushed toward the noise and there she was. Crumpled upon the ground, her eyes staring off slowly dulling before us as the blood flood rapidly from her newly inflicted wound upon her brow. She had, in a moment of emotional haste, taken her own life.
It all hit me at once, my hands still stained with the blood from her husband the first of the two people I had failed to save tonight. I slipped down the wall sitting against it, just staring at the second body of the day and I felt as if I had aided in pulling the trigger. At that moment the officer who was called earlier had finally arrived, and it just so happened to be Clarkey.
"Doctor, Doctor?" He spoke, but it sounded so far away as if I was starring up from a well. He grabbed my arm and helped me up. "There's nothing more you can do now, let's get ya home." He said almost apologetically. I'm not even sure how I got home that night, the events had shaken me so that I was in a daze, and I only vaguely recall getting into the four wheeler that Clarky called for me.
I shuffled up the stairs to the front door of 221 B. and slipped into its confines, gently closing the door behind me. It was late, I knew. My hands were shaking as I placed by medical bag upon the floor and removed my jacket. My shirt sleeves still rolled to my elbows stained with blood.
I had seen my share of grief and wounds in Afghanistan, but I never had to see the other-side of the story. I never had to witness what it was like for those loved ones who where back in England receiving word that their brave soldiers would not be returning.
I know that not everyone would have acted in that matter, especially since suicide being what it is. Her decision happened so fast that I was still reeling from it. Even Holmes could not argue, that she was an exemplary wife, he was her world. I had broken that today like a glass figurine or a cracked snow globe.
I shuffled up the stairs pausing briefly before opening the door. I felt like crying, or screaming and I just wanted to collapse. As I walked into the common room Holmes turned, the whisper of a sly comment dying upon his parted lips as his sharp eyes took in the sight of me. He rose from his chair, his features darkening slightly as he crossed the distance to me. Without saying a word he grabbed me in a tight embrace and all I could do was cling to him, as my knees finally gave in and we sunk to the floor.
I took purchase of Holmes shirt grasping onto it tightly, half afraid that he would let go. I am not too proud to admit that I sobbed, no tears fell, but the cry still escaped my lips. Holmes was stoic, the mere presence of him there was comforting enough and he knew that is what I needed from him.
In a way, I envied the lady. I know that some loves know no bounds, but I do not believe I could ever bring myself to take my own life if the roles were reversed. Perhaps it is because I am a doctor, and there are some oaths that cannot be broken. I wondered if that is how her husband would have acted, in the event of her death. Soldiering on, with a broken heart and the tolling of time as his only comfort.
If anything ever happened to Holmes, I perished the thought. I know that my choice was made, I would just live, barely and more a kin to an animated corpse, but that would be all I could do. I continued to sob, gasping for breath and desperately clinging to Holmes slender form.
"If," I gasped, trying to formulate my words in a coherent manner. "If you, if I, if I died." I inhaled sharply. A part of me all ready knew his answer to my question, yet somehow I feared the confirmation of it. I somehow knew, do to Holmes methods and idiosyncrasies, that without me he could not live.
Holmes did not reply, he just held on to me tighter. Allowing me to purge all my emotions from the previous hours. I had seen similar events while on cases with Sherlock, but to be dab in the middle of it was not something I was entirely prepared for.
I had finally calmed down enough to divulge all that had occurred to Holmes ever ready ears. We had moved off the floor and where seated in our respected seats. He patiently took it in, calmly absorbing the facts. Then sat in silence for a moment.
"There was nothing you could have done." Holmes stated softly.
"Christ, Holmes, do you not think I know that." I snapped at him irrationally.
"I merely mean to say," He continued calmly. "That some wounds are irrevocable. Once they occur no matter how skilled the physician, they cannot be fixed." He rose, standing by the mantle place.
I sighed, I was not completely sure I was ready to be talking about this when it was still so fresh upon my mind. Holmes picked up on this of course.
"And I do not need to tell you, that you are an exceptional Doctor, Watson." Holmes sighed, clearing his throat. "You had a trying day, perhaps you would want to retire."
I could tell that Holmes did not know what else he could do, for me. Though he had done so much all ready, he was getting more and more out of his depth, here.
"I do not believe I could sleep, at present." Said I. "I keep seeing that poor woman's face." My eyes watered.
"Indeed," Holmes replied sympathetically. "Though, life never does quite go as expected."
"In all my years I have never witnessed anything like that." I shook my head. "Have you ever witnessed someone's heart break, right before your eyes?" I laughed mirthlessly as Holmes ran a hand through his hair, still leaning against the fire place. "I suppose not..." I closed my eyes and rubbed the bridge of my nose.
"Believe what you will, and the instance may be slightly different than the one at hand, but I have witnessed such things." He stated, as I heard the clink of glass before he appeared, offering me one of the glasses of whiskey he had poured.
I took it studying it momentarily, "Really, Holmes, you do not have to lie to me." I took a large gulp of the amber liqueur.
"I would not," He began. I shot him a look. "Unless strictly necessary." He smirked briefly, before sipping his drink. "It is a bit different in my own situation." Holmes said, not looking at me.
"Then it is not the same, nothing can compare to this." Said I somberly. "I saw everything in her world shatter in the reflection of her eyes, forgive me for romanticizing, as you say, but that is the only way I can describe it. There was nothing I could do for her I could not med it and that is my occupation."
"I have experienced the exact feeling which you have described in her." Holmes said swallowing. "You would remember it well." He stated simply taking another sip.
He was right, I knew what he was alluding to. I wonder how blinded I was before to not take notice of Holmes feelings towards me before all this was revealed. Again in retrospect, I had witnessed little bits of Sherlock's heart breaking before me. Grant it, seeing it all at once was devastating and I took solace in the fact that I would never have to bare witness of this happening to Holmes.
While I took solace in the fact that I would be long dead before I could witness the whole of Holmes heart breaking, I could not help but think that the conversation was taking an unfair turn.
"I cannot believe you sometimes, Holmes." Said I. "Can you ever leave yourself out of things."
Holmes turned toward me then, aghast. "I...I merely was trying to relate, it is what one does in such situations, is it not."
"Yes," I relented trying not to be too harsh on him, seeing as he was out of his depth. "However, there are ways to go about it." Said I. "I just," I breathed my eyes almost watering again. "Sometimes more can be done by just listening." I told him simply.
Holmes moved then, sitting across from me on the settee, facing me. "Forgive me, I am at your disposable." He said, placing his hand upon my knee, his dark eyes softened.
I gave him a pursed smile and put my hand upon his, studying them.
I studied our hands for a while as if I was Holmes looking for clues, turning his over with in my own. My hands, broad yet nimble the steady hands of a surgeons. While Holmes where long and slender, just like him; both equally masculine in appearance, yet somehow they just seemed to fit together. I glanced up to see Holmes studying my actions, his neck bent leaning towards me.
I returned his hand to his knee, keeping mine firmly on top of his. Holmes eyes still locked upon me with silent questioning. He was so unsure of what I was doing and did not know what to do that he just remained immobile. I moved my one hand up to his face and gently brushed my fingers over his lips, before placing my hand upon the side of his face and stroking it with my thumb. Holmes leaned into me, trying his best not to speak out on my actions, being a good little listener. I heard him swallow audibly and I smiled gently.
"It is quite amusing how two things can be so fiercely different in almost every aspect, yet are condemned by the small similarities they posses." I sighed. "If due attention was paid, we would see that there are hardly any differences at all." I leaned towards Holmes searching his face briefly before moving in closer to him, before our lips met, Holmes' lips curled into a small smile.
"Small?" He mocked, before we were locked in an ardent kiss.
It was moments like these that made me quite grateful for what Sherlock and I had; and needless to say, I was feeling much better by the morning.