A/N: After my last little tidbit here on FF, I was in desperately need of something a little lighter. Let's face it, anyone who's ever read 3GAR has filled in details or come up with an alternate at least once. Yep, I'm no exception.
And a very special thank you to everyone that has reviewed "Flatmates to Friends" and "Reality of Madness". You are a wonderful bunch and have motivated me greatly to keep going with these little pieces.
Yep, my epic failure streak in decent titles has not abandoned me yet. *sigh* Again, hopefully the story is less disappointing than the title.
Watson stalked the too-small confines of his lonely sitting room in London. His aging joints and aching old war wounds cursed him in this foul late-February weather. But, for him, the pain only helped to fuel the fire he was now feeling. Stalking back and forth in the sparse room he ignored the burned-down fire and fumed. He felt heated enough at this point he no longer felt the need for a fire.
Growling wordlessly he cursed his dear, retired friend with a vehemence that would likely not have surprised either one of them. Any other time, this might even have been amusing to some small extent. But where Emily's happiness was concerned, Watson was all seriousness. He still could not believe the stubborn old man, sitting alone in his cottage after all these years would still be such a—
"Callous! Selfish! Bloo—"
"Father? Is everything alright?"
Watson's pacing ceased instantly as the ungentlemanly words he caught himself about to speak died on his lips. Turning to face his daughter, he scowled as he shoved his hands in his pockets dejectedly. Shaking his head, he felt the fire within dying down once again to cold, still-burning embers.
"I'm sorry, Emily," Watson apologized sadly. "Holmes refuses."
Emily gave a valiant effort to stifle her own disappointment. Almost thirty-four years old, the woman still felt the need to protect her father from her sadness at times. It broke his heart to see the struggle in those deep-blue eyes just as much now as it had in those caverns all those many years ago. Stepping forward, he took her by the hands.
"I'm sorry, dear. I—"
"It's alright," Emily was quick to assure him. Leading him over to his fireside chair, she sat him down. "You're chilled to the bone! Sit. Sit! I will get us some tea. Don't worry yourself over it, we will find another. After all, it's just my wedding. It's not as if he hasn't been there for—"
"Oh, Emily," Watson said sadly. "Don't make excuses for the old—"
Whatever it was he was about to call Holmes he quickly stifled behind his mustache when those blue eyes flared angrily. "None of that, Father. He is still my uncle. And, we both know how he can be about such things."
Watson sighed heavily. "You certainly have more patience for him than I do, these days."
Emily chuckled as she finished stoking the fire into a nice, warming blaze. "Perhaps. Now, rest, I shall make some tea."
Staring sadly into the flames, Watson realized his own anger had burned down considerably in light of his daughter's understanding. He was still hurt on her behalf. It had been a simple request, and not an unexpected one. She had simply asked if Holmes would play for her wedding that was scheduled for spring of 1925 when her fiancé would return from overseas. Holmes had, of course, refused. After all these decades pretending to the public that Emily did not exist for her own protection, it now came down to this. Upon her wedding there would be no more secrets, and Holmes still refused for his own personal reasons.
Watson had spent many years worrying about his daughter's happiness as she turned away nearly every potential suitor. She had grown into a beautiful young woman of grace and quiet dignity that caught the eye of every man she met. Those few times Watson expressed his concern for her future, however, she would simply tell them that none could live up to her expectations. It was not until she was well into her twenties that Watson finally realized she was looking for the type of man she could measure against her two heros. And, in this widely changing world, that was a task easier said than done.
And then she had met Charles Dewhurst. Though the man had come from a rather large family, he was not close to them. He had a sincere dislike of those who put up false pretenses of superiority or wealth. He was possessed of a desire to make a name for himself in the world as he helped others. Though he had many grand dreams, there was no doubting his feet were firmly planted in reality. Ever the concerned father, Watson had seen for himself the security he setup financially to ensure the young man would likely never fall into debt. The idea that this man would likely be taking his beautiful Emily away from him and her home did not concern him as it once had. All he had to do to assure himself of her happiness was gaze into those sparkling blue eyes. He knew the man possessed a large, stout heart that he had happily handed to Emily, and that was enough for Watson.
Holmes, however, had taken the other side of the fatherly view of things. No man could possibly live up to his expectations of a worthy husband for his niece. He had refused to meet the man more than the one time Emily had prodded him out of his cottage and back to London for a day. And, even then, he had had to be tricked into visiting what he thought was an ill Watson asking for his friend. He had made his stance quite clear to the young Mr. Dewhurst.
Charles Dewhurst had given a good account of himself, in Watson's eyes. The verbal sparring match had been chilly, but both had walked away equal. Disappointed but not to be deterred, he had held himself proudly in the face of Holmes' verbal assaults on his character, profession, and lifestyle. Emily had bravely withstood the worst of it until Watson had been forced to put an end to the situation. Holmes, feeling all the more rejected had refused to have anything further to do with Emily from that day forward. He said he was waiting for her to come to her senses.
Emily had been heartbroken and horrified. For a time, it seemed she would be forced to choose between her beloved uncle and her fiancé. Watson's appearance in Holmes' cottage had been a fiery explosion of tempers, but it had worked. He had returned to London with a letter of apology to Emily. Holmes still refused to condone her choice, but he would not force her to chose between them, either. It was not a success, but had at least maintained the peace for nearly a year now.
However, as they had finally chosen a date after what Watson considered to be an almost ridiculously long stage of courtship, engagement, and planning; he had once again attempted to gain Holmes' interest in his niece's future.
"Here, this will warm those cold hands," Emily said, breaking into his darkly depressed thoughts as she placed a cup of tea in his hands.
Sipping the tea, he let the soothing comfort of his daughter's presence and the fire relax him, somewhat. There seemed no words appropriate to the situation. Seeing the disappointment in Emily's profile, Watson again felt his ire rising. Silently he cursed Holmes again, recalling some of their recent conversation.
After Watson had asked Emily's request, he watched Holmes' profile closely. The man had simply snorted and gone back to smoking his pipe cheerfully beside the fire.
"Absolutely not," Holmes finally stated, realizing Watson was waiting for something more verbal. "You have spent her entire life keeping her out of the public eye. Just because you've chosen to make this ridiculous affair a public one, does not mean I chose to do so."
"Of course it's public," Watson threw back, somewhat heatedly. "It's her wedding!"
"Where there will be all the usual displays of sentiment and—"
"She's asking you to play your violin at her wedding, not find a wife for yourself!"
"And when the rest of the public learns that the great author Dr. Watson's daughter is the one to marry, not to mention Emily's uncle the great detective Sherlock Holmes will be in attendance..."
"Is that such a bad thing?" Watson asked, finally beginning to understand at least somewhat. "You have been retired for some years now. In their eyes, you're still the—"
"Cold, calculating machine," Holmes finished, scowling darkly. "And that can remain their view."
"So it's your image you're concerned with here, not Emily's happiness?"
"Of course I'm concerned for her happiness," Holmes snapped back. "She's being married off to a young man of dubious—"
"Enough of that! We've discussed that already, and I haven't changed my mind; nor has Emily."
"Very well, then. I am the brain without a heart, remember? It has kept her safe this long. I see no reason why it should change now."
"How dare you put your—"
"I do dare! My answer is still no," Holmes said, rising from his chair to head toward his bedroom. "Good night, Watson."
Filled with unspoken anger at his friend's combined refusal and Holmes' way of ending the argument leaving him no way to express that anger, Watson had taken his things and headed back to London immediately. His plan to spend the weekend was already ruined. He did not feel the need to wait around. He had only been surprised by the fact that the travel in such cold, foul weather had done nothing to cool his temper.
"Brain without a heart.." Watson murmured unconsciously into his tea.
Stirring beside him, Emily shifted her sad thoughts back to the present as she turned to gaze at her uncle. Something in that wicked grin stirred concern in her heart.
Suddenly Watson recalled the present. He stifled his grin behind his mustache as he turned an innocent expression on his daughter. "Yes, dear?"
Emily's frowning disapproval of such a patently false expression mirrored Holmes' to a degree it was almost painful to see. "What are you thinking?"
"Don't worry yourself, Emily. I will be fine in the morning. It's nothing a good night's sleep and some of your wonderful tea won't cure."
She cocked an eyebrow at him that again reminded him of Holmes, only this time he couldn't stifle the chuckle that rose in his chest. Setting aside his cup, he took her into his arms; silently he cherished some of what he knew would be the last times he would spend in such close company of his daughter. However, he hoped that one day soon these would be replaced with bouncing grandchildren on his knees.
"I am truly sorry Holmes is being so stubborn," Watson murmured soothingly into her blond curls. "But there is still time, yet. Perhaps he will change his mind."
She relaxed into his embrace, the sense of safety she felt there had not diminished in the nearly thirty years since the first. "Thank you, daddy."
"Now," he said, pulling back to gaze at her from arms' length once more, "it's time old men like me were off to bed."
She snorted in a rather unladylike fashion. "For a moment there, I thought you were going to shoo me off to bed again."
Watson chuckled warmly again, draping a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Would you like a bedtime story?"