Disclaimer: It took me all year to possibly come up with this idea. There's no way the movie would be out by now if I was in charge.
A/N: I've been stuck on my other stories for a while and it's been driving me insane and I'd been sort of harbouring this idea for a while so this is something I've worked on in the last couple of hours and it's actually pretty late here so I apologise for any glaring (or non-glaring) spelling or grammar errors. I will see to them when I'm less sleep-deprived. So let me know if this is worth continuing or not and hopefully I won't have messed it up.
Chapter One: Discovery
"It is not enough, Watson," Holmes had once told him, "to see something and accept it. Sometimes you must challenge your own perception. You must test it because you cannot always trust it. There is always a chance that you are wrong.
"In short, observation and understanding are not the same."
Watson had always regarded Holmes to be a curious fellow. He was unsociable; detested being in social situations unaccompanied; had a complete disregard for people's emotions and yet, as the good doctor had found, had a tendency to become self-destructive when left to his own devices.
In many ways the detective reminded him of a child. True, he was highly intelligent most of the time, and as anyone who has read or heard of his exploits will tell you, socially intriguing; however there were times when he needed to be reminded of the simple things. Things such as carrying a revolver; thinking before acting (something you might imagine he should be more than capable of achieving on his own); even eating slipped his mind when left alone too long.
Sometimes it was as though he needed someone to remind him that, for all his deductions and understanding, he was still human. And so it was that at twenty minutes past seven Dr. Watson was only mildly surprised that Holmes had not arrived for dinner at the Royale as they had arranged around a month ago.
Holmes was rarely, if ever, late to an engagement be it an appointment of the highest importance or something he deemed ridiculous and unnecessary. Regardless of his social ability, Holmes was a grown man and his lack of attendance was worrying for his friend.
They had quite fallen out of touch since Watson had moved in with his fiancée, after all Watson had to inform all his patients who were still unaware of his new premises. Even though Holmes had promised to redirect anyone who turned up at 221b to the correct address something about the detective's childish grin said otherwise. And then there was the fact that he had so much family to introduce Mary to as well as many of her own relatives to meet.
The doctor failed to see the problem with their lack of contact since they were not family and no longer lived together. After all, it had barely been six weeks since he'd finished packing his belongings.
In the carriage back to his and Mary's house he couldn't help but feel something was wrong about his long-time friend's absence. Even if the man had a tendency to forget what day of the week it was, it seemed uncharacteristic for the fellow to fail an engagement.
Dear God! Hopefully he hadn't swallowed another one of his insane concoctions leaving him drooling on the carpet again. That was one night Watson wasn't going to forget in a hurry.
"Just wait here. I shouldn't be long." The carriage driver nodded as Watson turned to face the far-too-familiar front door of 221b Baker Street. It was the first time he'd been back since leaving and it was haunting being back, knowing this was no longer where he lived.
The front window was open and a light shone from inside casting a small light onto the darkening street. Despite the light there were no loud or sharp noises; no bangs, no shouts. It was quiet. Too quiet.
He rapped sharply on the wood three times before letting himself in. He was fairly sure neither of the house's occupants would mind much.
"Mrs. Hudson." There was no sound from her quarters but there was a shuffling on the floor above before she appeared at the top of the stairs.
"Oh it's you doctor." Her hand was held to her chest. "For a moment I thought-"
"What is it?" His former-landlady's eyes were mildly red while a floral-embroidered handkerchief was clasped in her shaking hand. Her hair was slightly flyaway, sticking out all over the place as though she hadn't had a chance to pin it properly although she subtly attempted to straighten it out as she stood there. "What's happened?"
"It's Mr. Holmes."
Watson tried to prevent the scowl from showing on as his face as he marched into the room before she could continue. "Holmes!" There's only so much a woman such as her can take. "Holmes!" He marched through the constant mess that littered what could loosely be called a habitable room. "Holmes!"
"He's not here, doctor."
That small phrase grabbed Watson's attention and pulled it towards the lady stood before him, her entire chest shaking with each breath. "What?"
"He's not here."
"Then where is he?"
She slowly clasped the handkerchief between her hands before taking a deep breath. "I'm afraid I don't know."
"We are aware of Mr. Holmes' disappearance." Watson took a deep breath as the police officer who he had never the displeasure of meeting before began the usual statement given out during a case. "We are currently investigating all avenues of possibility."
"I don't care what you're doing. Just get me Inspector Lestrade. Now!" the young lad flinched at Watson's harsh tone but went off to comply with the…request. It didn't matter if the boy's feelings were hurt right now. If anything it would make him a stronger man. He was certainly going to come up against worse than harsh words in her majesty's force.
From the corridor beside the desk, Inspector Lestrade strode out with his hand extended in greeting to the doctor, he was shortly followed by Clarkey.
"Doctor Watson. At last." Watson barely looked at the outstretched hand, merely pushing it out of his way before addressing the Inspector directly.
"What the devil is going on, Lestrade?"
A confused glance was exchanged with Clarkey before his eyes rested on Watson once more. "I was rather hoping you could tell me."
"Me tell you? You really are a bunch of idiots aren't you?" Sometimes it was so easy to see things from Holmes' perspective. "I only found out two hours ago! You have known for at least a week longer than that and you expect me to know?"
"With all due respect, sir," Clarkey's voice was calm and quiet as always as he spoke up, "you are his closest friend."
"Yes, but I moved out." Watson's voice lost volume as his mind realised something that his body hadn't quite caught up with. "Even when we lived together he…" He was Holmes' closest friend. "He never…"
Slowly he reached up to his mouth with his hand at the sudden shock of what he'd just said.
"Clarkey." The Inspector nodded at a nearby chair, which the officer pulled over and placed for the doctor to sit down on. "Just take a minute, doctor." Carefully he was guided onto the seat as it truly hit him.
His anger at being left in the dark about the situation had kept him from realising that Holmes was gone. He was missing. Lost.
"Believe me doctor, we would have contacted you but Mrs. Hudson didn't know your new address."
That's right. I gave it to Sherlock. Asked him to give it to Mrs. Hudson. He laughed. I knew he wouldn't.
"Unfortunately there's little we can do about the whole thing except keep it out the papers."
Watson looked up. That's true. News that London's greatest detective was missing could be hazardous, not only to what little peace that remained in the developing city but to the detective himself should anyone come across him. There were a great many people, both familiar foes and complete strangers, who might find it convenient for Holmes to meet with an accident if known to be completely separated from everyone.
"So what do we do now?" a simple question which he had asked his friend many times before. Hopefully he would ask it again someday.
"We were hoping you would know that bit."
He paused, casting his mind back through all the seemingly mindless drivel that Holmes came out with on a daily basis.
They needed to know what had happened. Why had he disappeared? If they didn't know this they'd never find him, especially if he didn't want to be found.
"It's a huge mistake to theorize before one has data."
Watson stood up looking Lestrade straight in the eye. "Something Holmes said once." He tipped his hat to both the gentlemen before him and with barely a word was out the door.