Worth Waiting For
Summary: Watson thinks of the ways he has wronged Holmes and wonders if he will ever be able to rectify his mistakes
"Holmes, talk to me," I implored. Holmes had been rather cool to me throughout our encounter with Miss Morstan, although I could not fault him. Miss Morstan's acceptance of my offer of courtship had no doubt wounded him deeply. For all that he pretended otherwise, Sherlock Holmes had a great heart that rivaled his extraordinary brain.
"What is there for me to say Watson?" Holmes asked, his languorous tone belied by the tension in his thin frame. He shook the little bottle pensively before grabbing his syringe. "As you said, what remains for me? You have gotten the fair wife you so obviously desire, and I see no reason to hold off indulging in cocaine to stave off boredom."
I couldn't reply. Since Holmes and I began our carnal relationship, he had promised me that he would never again indulge in cocaine. I wrote in my stories that he used it frequently, so as to avert questions as to why Holmes stopped his regular practice. I was cautious and wary of being discovered, which ultimately led to my proposing to Miss Morstan. A charming woman, to be sure, and certainly she will make a fine wife, yet I do not love her as I love Holmes. I do not think I ever will.
Holmes took my silence as agreement. "I must say Watson," he added as he carefully tied the tourniquet around his lean arm, "I had not expected this. You continue to surprise me."
"Holmes," I tried, but my voice was the barest whisper and he continued as though I had not spoken.
"I had forgotten a deduction that I had made in my youth which has been furnished over the years," Holmes continued, eyes upon his syringe. "Everyone lies. It does not matter for what reason, every person will lie to another at some point in their life. I had not expected you would conform to that pattern Watson. Thank you for reminding me that I should never look for exceptions that disprove the rule."
"When have I lied to you Holmes?" I cried, heartsick. I could see our friendship, our careful romance, shattering around me, yet I had no idea how to repair it.
"You told me you loved me," he replied, his tone subdued as he put the syringe to his arm. "My mistake was believing you." With that, he injected himself with the vile poison, and I watched stunned.
I moved closer to take his pulse, noticing that he had lied to me. The bottle was full of morphine, not cocaine, but I ought to have expected that. Cocaine promotes clarity of thought in Holmes, and today of all days he would want to forget. I suppose I should be thankful that it was morphine and not opium.
After ensuring that Holmes' dose was not fatal, I took up my stick, donned my coat and hat, and escaped into the night. I wandered to Regent's Park where Holmes and I had passed many an hour in idle conversation. He would amuse me by deducing the people who passed us, gleaning more information in a glance that most people would know after a prolonged study. Those memories, though still tinged with amusement, were filled with nostalgia. I knew that our relationship would never go back to what it once was. The easy friendship would be strained, and the pleasant romance would die, if it was not already dead. I was a fool to place my reputation higher than my regard for Holmes, yet even now I do not regret my choice. If we had remained as we were, there would invariably be those who would suspect our true inclinations. It was this fear that led to this, and even though I had expected him to be angry, I had not expected the deep hurt I saw in his expressive grey eyes.
Upon returning to our rooms, I saw that Holmes had vacated the settee and the door to his room was firmly shut. I saw little of Holmes in the days leading up to my wedding, as he rose earlier and returned later than I. I busied myself with setting up a practice and buying a house, yet my days were empty without Holmes by my side. Mary was a wonderful woman, and would no doubt make a wonderful wife, but I knew that when I was to lie with her, it would be Holmes who filled my mind.
I had asked Holmes to be my best man, and he had agreed as there was no one else suitable. The hollow look in his eyes gutted me, and he began staying away from Baker Street. I would move to my new house as soon as I married, yet I wished I could go sooner. Holmes was a shadow of his former self, going about the motions yet finding no joy in them. I managed to follow him one day, and he led me to a set of rooms in Pall Mall. What he was doing there, I did not know, and I did not stay to enquire. It showed how deeply absorbed he was in his thoughts that he had not noticed me.
After I married, I saw Holmes as infrequently as I had in the days following my proposal. Occasionally he would call upon me for help with cases, and in those moments all would be almost right. One look at his thin, pale face, thinner and paler than ever, would convince me of my folly. Holmes was wasting away, and even his precious cases, once so dear to his heart, could not hold his interest.
I learned later that it was his brother who he had visited, that it was he who had rooms in Pall Mall. Mycroft Holmes glanced sideways at me several times, yet I knew not why until he appeared in my consulting room one day. He asked why I had toyed with his brother's affections, and what my purpose in continuing to torment him was. I told him that I had no intention to ever harm Holmes, and that I had endeavored several times to keep him from harm. He stared at me for some time before rising to go, remarking over his shoulder that no criminal had hurt his brother more than I had.
This I had proof of several years later, when Holmes faked his death and then returned three years later. Sitting by the fire at Baker Street with him, I inquired as to why he hadn't informed me he was alive in the beginning, and his look of confusion gave proof to his brother's words. Holmes believed that I cared nothing for him, so it wouldn't have seemed necessary to offer even the paltry reassurance. Adding to that the danger in which the knowledge of his continued existence would have placed me, it is no wonder that he hadn't told me. Holmes would risk his own life, a dozen times or more, but he always attempted to keep me out of harm's way.
Settling back into my rooms at Baker Street once more, I began to contemplate attempting to make amends to Holmes. His death threw into sharp relief something which had been clear to him from the beginning. Life is too short, and love too fleeting, to waste time. He had always deferred to me upon matters of the heart, yet he saw this clearly where I struggled.
I began this narrative, in the hopes that setting my thoughts over the years down on paper would assist me, but all I have done is consider the many ways that I wronged poor Holmes. Why would he open himself up to such attentions again, when misery was the outcome before?
Because, my dear Watson, you are worth waiting for-SH