Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Disclaimer: Not mine, although actually in the public domain. No profit is intended.
Summary: Holmes says good-bye before leaving for America.
Author’s Note: Well, in honor of Sherlock Holmes’s birthday, and my New Year’s resolution to actually write more, I finished this piece of angst that has been mulling around in my head for the past month or so. Poor Sherlock—it’s his birthday, and I make him suffer.
August 1912: Separation
I sat at my desk, reviewing my files, when there was a knock at the door and the maid stepped in.
“I’m sorry, Doctor,” said she, “but there is a gentleman here who insists upon seeing you.”
“Tell him to make an appointment,” said I, knowing that I had little time before my next patient’s arrival and I then had to go on rounds.
“I did, sir. But he was most adamant. He insisted that you were the only one who could help him and that he had to see you immediately.”
“It will only take a few moments, Doctor, but there is no other who can assist me,” said a wizened, deformed old man, with white hair and a sharp face. He was carrying several volumes of books. The maid looked on in horror as he made his way into my consulting room.
“It’s quite all right, Betsy,” I said to her, dismissing her from the room. “I’ll see this gentleman now. Just ask Mrs. Fitzgerald to wait a few moments when she arrives.”
“If you’re certain, Doctor.”
I smiled at her. She gave a little curtsey and a bewildered look, then left the room.
I turned to my new patient. “What are you doing here, Holmes?”
“Ah, Watson. My disguises fail me now.”
“I’ve seen this one before, Holmes, as well you know. In my former consulting room. It seems unlikely that you are trying to hide from me. So I ask again, what are you doing here, Holmes?”
His bright grey eyes looked directly into mine. No matter what his disguise, his remarkable eyes were always recognizable. “I’ve come to say good-bye, Watson.”
Of all the things he could have said, this was one I least expected. “What?” I asked dumbly.
“I’ve come to say good-bye. I’m leaving for America. My ship sails on the morning tide.”
My mind seemed to have stopped functioning. “But… why?” was the only thing I could think to say.
“I’ve been commissioned by the government to do a bit of… investigating. They needed an unknown agent to infiltrate an American organization, and I fit the bill.” He snorted, as if in disgust. “Mycroft would skin me alive if he knew I was here.”
I felt sick, numb, lost. “Why are you here?” I blurted out.
He met my eyes again. “I promised I would not disappear again without an explanation, and I cannot trust that any telegram I would send would be delivered.” He looked at the floor. “I know how hard those three years were for you, Watson. I will not do that to you again.”
“But, how can you leave? You’re retired. Living in Sussex. This is ridiculous.”
“No, Watson. It is… necessary.”
I looked at him sharply. “Whatever do you mean, Holmes?”
“Ah, Watson. There have been some accusations flying around of late. About me… you… us.” He looked at me directly again.
“I thought those rumors had been laid to rest when I remarried years ago,” I said hoarsely.
“New… gossip… has arisen. Mycroft thought it wise if I was to vacate myself from the country for a while.”
“I… see.” I tried to hide my hurt, but was, as usual, completely unsuccessful when it came to Holmes’s piercing gaze.
“Totally unfounded tales, Watson. There has only ever been one person for me.”
I looked at him in amazement, and then shook my head. “The completely selfish part of me is grateful for that, Holmes. But the rest of me wants to see you happy.”
“You have seen me happy, Watson,” he whispered. “I was happy for many years while we lived in Baker Street.”
I swallowed around the lump that appeared in my throat. “As was I, my friend. But the world would not let us be.”
“Yes. That is why I am leaving for America. Unfounded rumors will come back to haunt me or, even worse, to harm you. I think, instead, that it is time for me to leave the confines of merry old England and try my hand at espionage in the untamed New World.”
“Will it be dangerous?”
It is amazing how, even though I was 60 years old, Holmes could look at me and make me feel like a naïve youth.
“I’ll come with you then,” I blurted out. “Let me come and help.”
“Watson,” he said harshly, “you seriously would give up your practice, your wife, your very life here to come with me to America into Lord only knows what.”
I looked down into nothing and contemplated what such a decision would mean and how much I would lose. Then I looked at Sherlock Holmes sitting across from me and knew I could only make one choice. “Yes,” I said softly. “I would follow you.”
Holmes inhaled sharply and closed his eyes. When he looked at me again, there was a soft shimmer that I had only rarely seen. “It is enough to know that you would, Watson. No, I cannot allow it, my good fellow.” He waived away any protest I was about to make. “As I said,” Holmes continued, “I will not allow your life to be destroyed.”
We sat in silence for a few moments, examining each other, memorizing the other’s features, storing up our memories.
“I must go,” Holmes said quietly and stood.
I rose with him and engulfed him in a tight embrace. “Promise me you’ll come back,” I demanded.
“I cannot know what will happen, Watson. You understand that.”
“No. I will not let you go, Holmes, unless you promise me. You have never outright broken your word to me when you’ve given it. If you promise, you will take better care. I cannot let you leave here knowing you will not likely return. Promise me, Holmes, that you will come back to me.”
He held me even tighter. “I promise,” he breathed, his voice breaking. Then he held my face and kissed me fiercely. Years of memories flooded back to me and I pulled him tighter still. I could taste the bitter tang of the spirit gum from his costume, but it made no difference. I kissed him back, just as desperately.
He broke away with a cry. Before I could even react he was out the door. I stood there, watching the empty space, until my maid appeared.
“Is everything all right, Doctor?” she asked me. I guess I looked rather stricken.
“I am fine,” I lied.
“And your patient?” she said, looking at the front door where Holmes had disappeared.
“Ah. It appears that I could not help him after all.”
She looked perplexed.
“Has my next patient arrived?” I enquired.
“Send her in.”
The maid disappeared after giving a little curtsey. I sat at my desk and took a deep, shuddering breath. Then, with the taste of Sherlock Holmes still on my lips, I prepared to face my day.
Part 2: August 1914: Reunion