Thanks to Hades Lord of the Dead for organizing this event!
One caveat: The first few days I may be a little tardy in posting my entries. Until December 8th, I have other time sensitive projects that I need to take care of. I will try to post on the day after that point.
Prompt from embracetheweird: Watson's moustache is burnt off. How do he and Holmes react?
"I'm very sorry, old boy," Holmes said for what felt like the millionth time.
I put some more cold water on the white cloth Mrs. Hudson had lent me and held it under my nose, not feeling quite in the mood to reassure my friend. The smell of burnt hair still radiated throughout the room, despite Mrs. Hudson's attempts at airing it out and my upper lip and nose still stung. I had already put salve on the wound, but it seemed that the best way to soothe the pain was to apply a cold compress. I had asked Mrs. Hudson to bring up some water and for the last half an hour I'd been dipping the cloth into it every few minutes and applying it to my lips. For that same period of time, Holmes had sat across from me, an exceedingly worried look on his face.
"Had I known that the experiment was going to result in such an abundance of flames I would have never let you near it," said he in response to my silence.
"Yes, I know, Holmes," I replied. I removed the cloth from my face again and dipped it in the water. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a fraction of a cringe from Holmes at the sight of my burned lip. My moustache was completely gone as it had been in the way of properly treating the wound, not to mention singed beyond any barber's care.
As I applied the cloth to my face once again, it occurred to me that Holmes had probably never seen me without my moustache. I had grown it in Afghanistan and had found that the look suited me. It dignified what was otherwise a rather child-like face and made me look wise, both of which were of absolute necessity when dealing with young soldiers who thought they were immortal. Since then it had become almost an essential part of my image. Thus, it was no surprise that I found Holmes looking at me as if I were another person.
"I really am very sorry, Watson," said Holmes.
I sighed and removed the cloth from my lip long enough to speak. "It's alright, Holmes," said I in my best bedside manner voice. "Anyone could have made the same mistake."
Holmes glanced at me then gave a curt nod. I could see that he still felt responsible for my injury, but he seemed to have relaxed somewhat upon receiving my forgiveness. His fingers had stopped drumming on the arm of his chair and his gaze occasionally strayed from his intense scrutiny of me and my injury.
"You know," said Holmes as I removed the cloth to dip it in the water again. "You look remarkably younger without your moustache."
"Oh?" said I as I wrung out the cloth.
"Yes. If I did not know you so intimately, I would place you at no more than thirty—that is taking only your face into account. Your mode of dress and general conduct reveal that you are in fact older."
Unsure whether to take this as a compliment or not, I simply nodded and placed the cloth back over my lip.
"However, were you to change your pattern of dress and conceal some of the pain in your shoulder, and perhaps your military gait, you might very well fool the average man into thinking you a young doctor."
"Glad to know this might be of some use," I grumbled from beneath the cloth. Holmes did not seem to hear me. Instead, he continued to talk about how I might make myself appear younger now that my moustache was gone. In the end, I ended up having to retreat to my own room in order to escape it and there quickly fell into an uneasy slumber.
The next morning, I rose from bed feeling a little better. The pain in my lip and nose had subsided and I reasoned that I could get through the day just using the salve. I went downstairs, hoping maybe a good breakfast would keep my mind off the remaining pain.
I entered the front room to see Holmes draped over the sofa in his usual manner. The moment he saw me he leapt up from the sofa and positioned himself by the fireplace with his back to me.
"Holmes?" said I. "What on earth are you doing?"
His brow furrowed and he turned to me with a look of confusion. Suddenly, his posture relaxed and he sat back down on the sofa. "Nothing, Watson," said he in what I could tell was a purposefully blasé tone. "Good morning."
I frowned and sat down at the breakfast table. Mrs. Hudson had prepared a nice breakfast of egg, toast, and a little bit of ham. As I was reaching for the butter, a thought occurred to me.
"Holmes?" said I. "You didn't happen to think I was a client, did you?"
"Of course not, my dear fellow," said he. "Don't be ridiculous."
I looked to my companion, only to see that he had hidden his face with a newspaper.
"Sorry, Holmes," said I, a bit of a grin spreading across my face. "It's just that I've never seen you position yourself by the fireplace like that unless a client had entered."
"Has it occurred to you, Watson, that I might have had a momentary chill?" said Holmes from behind his paper mask.
"I should hope not. A chill that momentary would be a sign of severe illness," said I.
The paper rustled.
"Should I fetch my kit?"
"I wouldn't trouble you over it," said he.
I smiled and took a bite of toast, taking a moment to revel in my friend's discomfort as he so often did in mine.
With time, my moustache grew back, though in a slightly darker color than I had anticipated. While Holmes had borne the change bravely, I could see that he was relieved when I returned to Baker Street one afternoon, my hair cut and my moustache freshly clipped.
"Ah, Watson," said he, setting down the paper he had been reading. "You look like your old self again."
"My old self. Well," said I, barely able to keep the grin off of my face. "Perhaps I should ask the barber to shave it off again. I've been told that it takes ten years off my face."
"Not a bit, my dear doctor, not a bit," said Holmes. "You should stay exactly as you are."
A little fluffy around the edges, but I suppose that's occasionally allowed.
Reviews appreciated as always!