Today's prompt is from cjnwriter: Holmes "makes tea." I hope I did it justice!
I worked my way down the stairs slowly, rubbing cold fingers through my hair and leaving it on end; it had been a very long week, and I felt the strain.
A quiet, relaxing Sunday ahead of me seemed to be my own Christmas miracle.
"Good morning, Doctor," Mrs. Hudson greeted warmly. "The paper's on the table, and there's breakfast along with it, I expect you're hungry."
"Famished," I said, clasping her hand. "Thank you, very much, Mrs. Hudson."
If she was surprised at the fervent nature of my gratitude, she said nothing, and merely gave me a matronly smile as she disappeared into some corner of the building. I leaned heavily on my cane, thumping my way into the dining room and sitting in my usual place.
"Hello, Doctor." Holmes breezed in, still dressed in last night's disguise. It was rumpled, as if he'd forgotten he was wearing it and fallen asleep in the midst of his work.
I nodded a hello in return, heaping food onto my plate. It was hot and fresh, and I knew it would do wonders toward restoring my stamina.
Holmes picked around and assembled a small assortment of food. "Would you pass the-" he decided against manners and reached over me to pick up a scone. "You look rather dreadful, Watson. Did you sleep so little?"
"You were the one who suggested the reconnaissance, Holmes." I speared a bit of sausage and gestured at him with the fork. "I slept as much as I had time for, I assure you."
He perched at the other end of the table, nibbling his scone pensively. "Ah, yes. So I did."
I felt his gaze on me as I poured a cup of tea. Used to such scrutiny on his part, I continued my meal unbothered.
Absently, I blew the steam from my tea and took a sip.
And promptly choked.
It was positively vile; burnt and sour and tasting more like dirt and leaves than tea. I set the cup down, staring at it with a sense of betrayal.
"What in blazes..."
Surely Mrs. Hudson could never have produced such a thing. Her tea was among the best in the whole of England, in my opinion.
There was a scratching of pen from the head of the table. My eyes narrowed.
The detective rose from his seat, circling me and poking my side. "How do you feel, Watson?"
"How do I feel? Have you poisoned me, Holmes?" I demanded, pushing the offending cup away. Tea indeed.
Holmes managed to look guilty and affronted and acutely observant all at once. "Of course not! That would serve no practical purpose. No, I merely switched today's tea with my own concoction. If you would oblige, I need to study the results."
"Concoction? What in blazes was that?"
"Oh, an innocuous mixture. Several varieties of clay, herbs I located in the alley, a powder from the seller down the street... Ah, and a quantity of human skin."
I felt ill. "Holmes..."
He scribbled in his notepad, scarcely looking at me. "Do take a breath, Doctor. The last bit was an invention. The experiment is twofold. Shock reactions and the reaction to the tea itself. Now..."
"Holmes," I said sharply.
His eyes darted up. "What?"
He frowned. "What?"
"Go away. For at least an hour. No, two hours. I am going to eat my breakfast and I am going to read the paper by the fire. Two hours of peace and quiet. Leave me alone, for heaven's sake."
Holmes stared. "Watson, are you ill?"
"Out," I snapped. "Now."
He fled like a chastened schoolboy.
Once I had finished a healthy portion of my meal, I began to feel guilty for reprimanding my companion so. It had been at least three days since I had the time to sit and eat a proper meal, and combined with stress and lack of sleep I knew that I had become rather cross.
But to tamper with tea...
I folded the day's paper under my arm, picking up my cane and making the short journey to an armchair by the fire. To my surprise, a cup of tea rested on the sidetable. I scrutinised it as I sat down.
Upon reaching page three, I decided to hazard a taste. The liquid was warm and smelled spicy. Cautiously, I took a sip.
A smile crossed my face.
It was, in fact, tea. Poorly made tea; as if a child had made it. But it was tea nonetheless, and I recognised it as the olive branch that it was meant to be.
I resumed my reading, feeling pleased.
Coming from Sherlock Holmes, it was an olive branch cast in gold.