Fandom: Sherlock Holmes (in the 22nd Century)
Pairing: Holmes/Watson (from the past)
Disclaimer: Not mine and no profit is intended.
Summary: The 22nd century had more changes than Holmes realized, including allowing men to marry each other. Holmes’ memories stray to the past and his relationship with Watson.
Here’s a bit of strangeness that was poking around in my head. The premise for this fic had oddly been in my head even before I had seen the show “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century” (thanks again to spacefall for the episodes!) I started writing this fic on the day that the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8 would stand (the voter amendment to the California Constitution which prohibits gays from marrying, thus taking away the rights that they had in the state for only a few brief months). But, as always, I write slowly. I started with the idea that gay marriage would be legal throughout the world 100 years from now. Why yes, I am a(n)
I don’t think it’s necessary to have seen “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century” to read this fic. For a bit of background, Holmes was resurrected in the 22nd century to help battle a clone of Professor Moriarty. Holmes' main companions are Inspector Beth Lestrade of New Scotland Yard (yes, from that Lestrade family) and a robot named Watson.
Echoes of the Past
We were running after Martin Fenwick, Professor Moriarty’s 22nd century henchman, chasing him through a hotel lobby. Inspector Beth Lestrade of New Scotland Yard was shooting at him with her vaporizer, yelling out her ineffective order to stop. I had not decided if her great-great-great – however far removed he was – ancestor would be proud or appalled by her behavior. People were diving to the floor in order to avoid the blasts. I was always a bit astonished at the low casualty rate that we incurred, especially since we were far from cautious in our chase.
Watson, robot Watson that is, was bringing up the rear, scanning for any additional Moriarty accomplices. I saw Fenwick quickly dart into one of the grand ballrooms.
“That way,” I cried and ran toward the room. Lestrade and Watson were close behind.
We burst into the room and found ourselves in the midst of a wedding ceremony. The guests scattered as they saw Lestrade’s weapon.
“Where is he?” she demanded. The guests looked bewildered.
I checked the door, and then noticed a slight passageway off to the right. There was another door which led back into the lobby. Fenwick had obviously given us the slip. Again.
Beth Lestrade looked at the hallway. “Damn!” she cried.
I quite agreed with her.
The wedding guests were looking at us curiously. I smiled in my most charming manner and turned toward them. “Our sincere apologies,” I said soothingly. I looked toward the front of the room. “Best wishes on your nuptials.”
It was then that I observed the happy couple more closely and I realized that the vows that were about to be exchanged were between two men.
I felt my knees go weak.
I do not know if I actually blacked out, but I found myself seated in the hotel lobby. Watson was looking quite concerned as he was scanning me with his medical sensor. Lestrade looked annoyed.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” she exclaimed. “We almost had Fenwick and then you had to go and pass out.”
“His heart rate seems a bit elevated,” Watson chimed in helpfully.
“I’m fine,” I snapped and pulled away from them both.
“Bullshit,” Lestrade cried.
“I’m afraid I must concur with the Inspector,” Watson stated.
I forced myself to breathe steadily. I smiled at them, but I knew that it was a wan attempt. “Really, I’m fine. Just a bit of a shock. I promise you there is nothing to worry about.”
“What the hell could be shocking?” Lestrade demanded. I mentally winced, annoyed that I was so shaken that I let that bit of information slip.
Watson, however, was looking at me curiously. I could almost hear his circuits as he considered the past few moments. “Ah, I see. The marriage of two men would be rather shocking to 19th century sensibilities.”
I hated when my thoughts could be determined by others. Yet it struck me as ironic that even in this century, it was Watson who knew me best.
“What do you mean?” Beth Lestrade asked him.
“Well, consider the penal code at that time,” Watson replied. “Homosexual relations were punishable by two years of hard labor. Holmes is a contemporary of Oscar Wilde, after all.”
“Enough,” I cried.
“Is a relationship between two people of the same sex going to be an issue for you?” Lestrade asked me, her voice taking on a dangerous lilt.
“I don’t think Holmes objects to homosexual relations per se, Lestrade. I think it was just their wide spread acceptance he found so surprising.” Watson then turned to me and placed his gloved hand upon my shoulder. “You and Watson, your Watson of the 19th century that is, were lovers, were you not?”
My vision began to go black.
“What?” Lestrade cried. “Of course he and Watson weren’t—” Her voice broke off as she looked at me. “Holmes?” she said quietly, the first sign of uncertainty that she had exhibited all day.
I, however, was caught in my own private remembrances. Watson. My John Watson. It was if all the memories came flooding back at once. The taste of him. His scent. The feel of his lips. His skin upon mine. The little laugh that he would breathe into my ear as he entered me.
I believe I began to hyperventilate.
“Sherlock?” Watson’s voice said worriedly. I roused myself from my trance to look into the face of my dearest friend, worn as a mask by a robot in the 22nd century. I struggled to retain consciousness. I breathed deeply until I felt more settled.
“My apologies,” I finally stammered.
Both Beth Lestrade and Watson looked quite concerned.
I tried to give a quick smile. I knew I failed miserably. I took another deep breath and let out a sigh. “Yes, John Watson and I were…” I was lost. I could not fathom a description that would adequately define our relationship. “… intimate partners,” I finally concluded.
“You’re gay?” Lestrade asked.
“If that means that I enjoy relations with members of my own sex, then yes.”
“Huh. I’ve got a cousin—”
I felt my panic returning. “No,” I exclaimed, rather forcefully I must admit.
“Why ever not?”
I was not thinking rationally. That could be the only excuse for my outbreak. “Lestrade, while I am sure that your cousin is a lovely chap, I am not interested in pursuing an amorous connection. Although I appear to you to be a man in his twenties, you must remember that in my time I actually lived to a ripe old age. I was in my seventies when I finally succumbed to the final sleep, and Watson, my Watson, had been a part of my life for close to 50 years. He held my hand as I died, Lestrade. I closed my eyes in a world where John Watson was my center, and opened them again in a world where had ceased to exist centuries earlier. I am not interested in your cousin, or your school chum, or anyone else!”
I noted that I had finally managed to shock Lestrade in silence.
I turned to the Watson of this time who was, oddly enough, watching me quite calmly. I tried for as dignified a tone as I could manage, which was likely not dignified at all. “As Fenwick is most certainly lost at this point, I would like to go home now,” I said to him.
He nodded. Lestrade offered no objections.
Watson drove the hovercraft back to Baker Street. We rode home in silence. Once there, I made a beeline to my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. I threw myself down onto my bed.
It was strange, living at 221B Baker Street. My former residence had been preserved as a museum, and as such many of my belongings and objects from the Victorian time still remained there. I was almost able to believe, at times, that I was back in the late 1800’s. However, the modern amenities, such as the monitor on the desk or computerized sensors at my chemistry set, would starkly remind me that my time had long passed.
I lay on my bed and thought of John Watson. Although I would have preferred not to, I also contemplated marriage. I knew that Watson had a far more romantic nature than I ever possessed, yet I suddenly found myself wishing that we could have wed. I was uncertain if Watson’s generosity toward my many shortcomings, especially in inter-personal relations, would have overcome any reluctance he might have had to have been bound with me. I also wondered if he really cared as much I had believed, or what sort of life we would have had if we had been able to actually acknowledge our intimate partnership publicly.
I’ll admit that I found myself descending into a black mood.
There was a knock at my door. I thought about ignoring it but decided that the robot Watson of this time was far too tenacious. I knew that the sooner I acknowledged him, the sooner I could allow myself to succumb to my own private misery. I dragged myself across my bedroom and opened the door.
Watson, as I suspected, was standing there.
“I’m fine, dear chap,” I lied. “Just leave me alone for a while. I think I’ll go to bed early.” I forbore to mention that it was still afternoon and the sun was shining brightly.
“I think you should read through these, Holmes.” He was holding a stack of books. I saw that they were the collected works of my Watson’s writing about our cases as well as the private journals that Lestrade had in her possession as a “family heirloom.”
“Whatever for?” I demanded, probably more sharply than I intended.
“I think you’ll find your answers here.”
“I’ve read these stories before. They are a bunch of claptrap and romanticized tales of what should have been an analysis of logical deduction.”
“I’m not telling you to read the stories for the sake of the stories, Holmes, or for the sake of your cases. After all, you lived these tales. Instead I think you should read them to uncover Watson’s feelings toward you. Read his descriptions of you in the stories, and in his journals. You can discover how he saw you. I think it will answer a great many of your questions.”
I looked at him and then at the books in his gloved hands. I still hesitated. “What if I don’t like what I find?”
“I think you will, Holmes. At least you’ll know.”
I could never resist a mystery. I took the books.
I was going to ask him how a robot would know what I needed, but that would have been rude. I believed he somehow sensed my inquiry.
“I know you, Holmes. I can always sense what you need.”
I nodded in acknowledgment, for I knew he was right.
I spent the rest of that day and the whole night reading. At first I was annoyed by Watson’s sentimentality in his recollections and his tendency toward hyperbole. But then I began to read his descriptions of me and discovered how he viewed me. I glanced at my hands from time to time, and wondered if they really were as expressive as Watson believed. I certainly did not think that my eyes were anywhere near as interesting as he portrayed. I came to realize that he always praised my talents and yet consistently underplayed his own. I learned that he saw me as cold and calculating, yet passionate and driven. I discovered that he was impressed with my intellect and my wit, as well as my independence and sense of justice. I came to understand that at times I exasperated him, and yet our friendship was the cornerstone of his life.
I suppose that most importantly I learned how very much he loved me.
My only regret is that I did not make my feelings toward him as clear as they should have been. I had been far too reticent, and came across as far too removed from my emotions. I would do anything to rectify my mistake, yet that time had long since passed.
There was a knock again at my door. “Holmes,” robot Watson called, “would you like breakfast?”
I realized I had spent the entire night reading. I also realized I was famished.
I opened the door and briefly smiled at the figure before me. “Yes, Watson. Breakfast would be most appreciated.”
Watson led me to the sitting room where there was a veritable feast laid out. I looked at him curiously.
“You did not eat last night, Holmes,” he explained. “I wanted to ensure you were not hungry this morning.”
I found myself smiling broadly at his care. “Thank you, my friend.”
It was amusing to see a robot appear flustered.
I sat at the table and began to tuck into the excellent food. Watson sat across from me.
“Did you find the books to be helpful?” he asked, almost hesitantly, as if he feared that I would disparage his idea.
I swallowed and then looked at his face directly. “Yes,” I admitted. “I found them to be very helpful indeed.”
“I am glad, Holmes.”
I realized that although I could not make convey my deep regard to the John Watson of my time, I could nonetheless let this one know how very much I appreciated him.
“Watson,” I said quietly, uncertain how to express myself.
“I wanted to thank you—for your assistance, your companionship, your very presence in this time. I could not have adjusted to life here without you. I rely upon you heavily, and I truly do value you friendship.”
Watson looked astonished. I knew that Watson’s capacity for feelings went beyond any other robot. I did not doubt the sincerity of his emotions and his regard for me.
“Thank you, Holmes,” he said in a hushed voice. “It is my pleasure to serve you.”
I grabbed his gloved hand and smiled. “No, my friend, thank you. The pleasure is mine.”
I would have likely descended into a maudlin display had there not been a knock at the door. Watson leapt up and admitted Inspector Beth Lestrade.
She greeted us both and then sat at the table, helping herself to the food. “How are you feeling this morning, Holmes?” she asked in a neutral voice.
“A bit tired,” I admitted, “as I did not get much sleep.” Or any, but that was none of her business. “Nevertheless, I am ready to assist you, as always.”
She snorted. “You’re assistance is always so valuable. Come on, let’s go for a ride.”
We piled into her hovercraft. I always got a sinking feeling whenever Lestrade was driving, since she was well known for her erratic behavior. Watson graciously took the seat next to her so that I could be somewhat shielded.
“Where are we going?” he asked.
I sighed at Lestrade’s attempt to be mysterious. “Would you care to fill us in on the case?” I enquired.
“It’s not actually a case, Holmes. Just… you’ll see when we get there.”
Lestrade maneuvered the hovercraft into the stream of traffic. I let my attention wander and relaxed in bit of a half doze. It therefore took me several minutes to realize we were leaving New London.
“Lestrade?” I queried.
“Trust me, Holmes,” was all she would say.
As I did not have much choice, I sat back and watched my surroundings. I was surprised when we finally arrived in Sussex. My former home had changed quite significantly and was far more crowded than it had been in my time. Yet I could see smell the familiar tang of the sea air.
Lestrade took us a bit inland from the sea and landed the hovercraft beside an old cemetery.
“What in the world are we doing here?” I demanded.
“When you died and were preserved in honey, Holmes, you were stored in a facility here in Sussex. This is the nearest cemetery to there. It is also the final resting place of Dr. John H. Watson.”
I looked at her in horror. “I have no desire in seeing his grave.”
She looked sad and strangely vulnerable. “Are you sure? When my parents died, I found it comforting to visit them and just talk.”
Two things struck me. The first was that I had not known that Lestrade’s parents were dead but that a part of me had suspected as much. After all, why would such a young woman be in possession of her “family heirlooms”? Second, that while I understood the concept that Lestrade was espousing, it had always struck me as both senseless and slightly morbid. In fact, it had always nettled me when Watson had visited the graveside of his departed wife.
I was about to refuse when I looked in Lestrade’s eyes. I realized she had put in a lot of effort to locate Watson and that, in her own way, she truly meant to comfort me. I suppressed a sigh and gave her a brief smile. “Lead the way,” said I.
Her eyes lit up in surprise and she scurried out of the hovercraft. She led me into the cemetery, which looked old and abandoned. Robot Watson followed quietly behind.
“I would not have thought Watson would have been buried here,” said I. “I would have assumed that he would be laid to rest in London.” Next to his wife, I did not add.
“As I said, this cemetery is closest to where you were.”
I had nothing to say to that. In fact, I refused to even contemplate the implications.
“How old were you when your parents died?” I asked instead.
“Twelve. It was a hovercraft accident.”
I forbore to comment that her own hovercraft driving skills left much to be desired. It is likely she knew that and, in fact, intentionally drove so recklessly. It was not my place to comment on whatever emotional damage she was hoping to compensate for.
“I am sorry,” I said instead.
She smiled sadly and continued to lead me onward, toward the back part of the cemetery located near a small wooded area. It was overrun and obviously neglected. However, one site looked cleaned and cared for. I looked down at the tombstone to see the name of my dearest friend.
“You cleaned up before you brought me here,” I said. “The marks here are fresh.”
“Yes. I would not have wanted you to see it in a state of disrepair.”
I wanted to say that it would not have mattered, but I appreciated her concern. “Thank you.”
She smiled briefly. “We’ll leave you here, then. We’ll be back in the hovercraft, whenever you are ready.” She turned to go.
Robot Watson looked far more reluctant, however. “Will you be all right, Holmes?” he asked cautiously.
“I’ll be fine. Just head off with Lestrade. I’ll be along in a moment.”
He seemed hesitant, but did as I asked.
I looked around at my surroundings. There were tall trees on the other side of the cemetery gate, and I could hear the gentle rustle of their leaves as the wind blew. The weeds had certainly overrun this area and the undergrowth was overgrown; most of the tombstones were tangled in it. The headstones themselves all seemed to date to the first half of the 20th century. Husbands, wives, families, all buried here and forgotten.
I finally looked at Watson’s tombstone. It appeared that he had died a few months after I had. It finally struck me—this was the final resting place of my dearest friend, the man I had loved.
I sat down heavily on the ground.
“Watson,” I said quietly. I felt rather silly.
I wondered what he would say if could see me. I had this overwhelming urge to laugh.
I sat there quietly for a few moments, listening to the rustling leaves and the bird song in the background. There was a sense of peace about the place coupled with the neglect. Perhaps it was the fact that it was abandoned that made it so very tranquil.
I looked at Watson’s headstone again. I knew the ashes of the dear friend’s body lay beneath the ground. I refused to give into my desire to cry.
“Watson,” I said again, instead. “You would not believe what has happened to me.”
As if a dam burst inside of me, I suddenly found myself talking. “I’m living in the 22nd century, my friend, returned from the dead because someone had a bizarre idea to preserve my body in honey. I’m certain it wasn’t you. I blame Mycroft; it sounds like his macabre sense of humor.”
The leaves rustled.
“You see, it’s my own fault I’m here. Someone was able to clone Professor Moriarty because I left him frozen in a cave in Switzerland. It seems that the 22nd century police are no more capable of countering the Professor’s acts than the 19th century police were. Of course, as a clone, I don’t think he has the memories of his prior existence, but he does have the intelligence and criminal intent. It’s enough to keep us busy.”
The birds chirped.
“You would not believe whom I work with. A woman! She’s the descendent of our dear Inspector Lestrade, and every bit as exasperating as he was. However, she’s the only one who truly believes in my abilities and I will admit that I make her crazed from time to time. You would no doubt be amused to watch out little interplay.”
There was a sense of quiet peace.
“I also work with a robot—an automated being. He’s a police android and Lestrade named him ‘Watson’ after you. He read your journals after I arrived and now has taken on your personality and thinks he is you. He even wears a mask with your face, although why he thinks you wore a monocle I have no idea. I haven’t the heart to correct him. You would like him, I think. He’s very loyal and of great assistance. He lacks, of course, your fiery passion (and you bull-pup temper, if the truth be known), but he has your calmness and patience. He also tries to take care of me, much like you did.”
I realized then I was babbling, but I could not help myself.
“It’s a very different time, friend Watson. You would delight in the marvels and the changes, I think. People live on the moon! They have flying vehicles! And although they try to stamp out crime, there still exists enough mysteries to keep a private consulting detective occupied. On the other hand, I do not know if I agree with their methods in which they ‘reprogram’ people’s minds, but I know better than to comment. After all, I have no wish to be on the receiving side of such a technique.”
My fears were coming to the forefront.
“You know, Watson, I have no recollection of the time I spent dead. I remember dying while holding your hand, and I remember waking up here. But it’s if there is a wall preventing me from knowing what took place in between. However, it doesn’t feel like a final oblivion, and it does feel like you were there. I never talk about it and I have been fortunate that no one has asked. I’m afraid, my dear friend, that I did not return to this time completely whole. I suppose, however, that the living are not meant to know what lies beyond, even if they have been there themselves.”
There was a gentle breeze.
“Oh Watson,” I said directly to the tombstone, “you would not believe the changes here. I found out yesterday that men can marry—each other! What would you have thought of that, my dear friend?”
All was silent.
A lump formed in my throat. “Watson, I miss you. I wish you were here to share this adventure with me. Since learning of my right to marry another man, I suddenly find myself a hopeless romantic. You would no doubt laugh at my transformation. I wish that we could wed, my dear Watson, in our time, in this time, in any time. Would you marry me if you were here? I wonder.”
A sudden wind came up and blew back my hair. It felt like a caress.
“Watson?” I said hesitantly.
“Holmes,” came a voice.
I turned quickly and saw robot Watson nearby.
“Are you all right, Holmes?” he asked. “I was getting worried.”
I felt the wind and saw my friend’s face from the past on a robot of this time. Yet I also heard his tone of caring and regard for my well-being. I suppose I could say that I sensed his love. I knew then I had my answer.
“I’m fine, Watson. I’m very fine indeed.”
The robot still looked concerned.
“Give me a hand up, my good fellow,” I said to him.
He held out his gloved hand and I took it in my own. He helped me to stand, as Watson had helped me so many times through countless years. I smiled. I continued to hold on to his hand.
“Do you need some more time?” he asked.
“No. I believe that I found what I was looking for.” I looked back at Watson’s grave and I smiled. “Good-bye, my dear friend. Until we meet again. And thank you.”
Robot Watson said nothing, but then he shared his namesake’s great gift of silence. Still holding onto my hand, he led me from the past and into the future.