Disclaimer:They may now be in the public domain but I feel it only right to say that Holmes and Watson and the wonderful concept that drives them do not belong to me. Obviously, right?

Beta'd by med_cat, however all remaining errors story wise and author note wise are entirely my own.

Ills and Bravado

Early November and a two week spell of near constant cold and rain had left London soaked to the core and figuratively shivering right down to its timbers. This rather brought on a certain excess of poorly patients for all practitioners in the area and I found my own rounds to be no exception on the matter. Head colds abounded and it was clear that 'flu season was going to take a rather early grip of the city this year.

As much as any doctor may wish they were immune to the illnesses they treat, we all eventually find such is not the case. Truly it was with little surprise that I felt congestion beginning in my chest and a rasping cough burning through my throat by mid-afternoon some ten days into this cold and rainy spell. I had hoped it would have been staved off longer, but such was not the case this go 'round with the seasonal ills. It was with a wary hand that I dosed myself with cough syrup that night and slipped off to my bed some two hours earlier than usual for me.

This early retirement was not to be commented on, as I was the only one rambling about the sitting room that evening who cared to pay attention to his surroundings. Holmes had been suffering of a mixture of brown and black moods to match the weather. Apparently London's criminals dared not avail themselves to the icy deluge outside any more than the civilized of her inhabitants did. While most people would rejoice, this lack of criminal and interesting activity gnawed at Holmes. Lack of stimulation put him in the foulest of black moods most especially when he himself was trapped inside to do nothing about it. Thus my cleared throat and declared good night were met only with a puff of smoke from Holmes's most beloved pipe.

I rose the next morning feeling every bit my age and then some. My old war wounds gave pointed reminders of how they disliked the weather,

much as they had been for some days. That, coupled with my congested lungs and a certain sense of fatigue rather set me to feeling like a miserable wretch. Not so poorly as to not attend my rounds, certainly, but not well or overly cheerful either. With some effort I roused myself enough to sufficiently attend my toilette. The near ice-cold water on my stand went a long way toward rousing my sluggish mind.

I took the steps from my room to the sitting room with a slow caution that morning and a firm hand on the rail. It was certain that I would take my cane with me on rounds today as my leg was relentless in its complaints. The blue haze that greeted me as I opened the sitting room door spoke volumes of Holmes's activities of the evening and morning. The coughing fit this haze afflicted on me had the beginnings of becoming painful. I fairly dove into the room and for my black medical bag as it sat near my writing desk.

I quickly took the opportunity to dose myself once more with the cough medication and was aware that in those moments Holmes's gaze had yet to move from a fixed point just above and slightly to the left of the mantle, though he puffed steadily on his pipe. Re-securing my medical supplies and latching my bag I turned my eye on my friend. I cleared my throat and offered as congenially as I could, "Good morning, Holmes."

There was something of a ritual in this when he was in a mood. I would attempt pleasantries, he would very nearly ignore them. Were it not for the haphazard grunt of response, I might have thought him a statue of a steamboat chimney. I did my best to be patient with him when he fell to such a state, but even the most patient of men might be tried by such things after some time.

With a sigh that very nearly brought on another cough I settled at the table to ring for breakfast and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee before venturing out for the day and seeing to my patients.

A/N: Part 1 of 3. Its been posted on my LJ for sometime, so if you've been there and this story looks familiar to you... Full author's note to be included with the last chapter.