Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Pairing: Holmes/Watson (implied pre-slash (if you squint))
Warning: Some angst, some arguing
Word Count: 2,223
Disclaimer: Not mine, although actually in the public domain. No profit is intended.
Summary: Soon after Holmes’ return, an escaped criminal comes looking for Watson.
Author’s Note: Written for the watsons_woes Challenge 006. Written rather hurriedly, but I had the idea and I wanted to ensure that I posted it in time for the challenge. I realized that I haven’t actually written any fic in about three months. Damn you RL and feelings of being overwhelmed. However, while doing this I remembered how much I love writing this pairing, so maybe I’ll get my ass back in gear and write some more.
The Unbeatable Pair
It had been a little over a week since Sherlock Holmes’ miraculous “return” and I was, to be honest, still reeling from the implications. To discover that Holmes was not, in fact, dead was a thing of wonder. To discover that he had not trusted me, however, was a cause of bitter hurt. I must admit that these two conflicting emotions were dueling within me, causing me no end of confusion.
I was avoiding Holmes. I knew that. I also knew that if he took one look at me, he would know it too.
My last patient had just left for the day. I poured myself a brandy and tried to decide what I should do.
The decision was taken away from me by a loud knocking at my door. I was quite surprised when the maid admitted both Holmes and Inspector Lestrade.
“Gentlemen,” said I, rising. “To what do I owe this—”
“Thank goodness you’re here, Doctor,” Lestrade exclaimed.
“Why wouldn’t I be? What’s going on?” I demanded.
“It seems that the police have misplaced a prisoner,” Holmes said bitingly. “Lestrade insisted that you be brought in on the investigation, although I informed him that you were obviously quite busy as you had not been around since I’ve been back.”
Before I could even formulate a reply, Lestrade said, “It’s Pennington from the Molesey Mystery, Doctor. He’s escaped.”
I sat down heavily. “I see.”
“Lestrade, I am perfectly able to assist you with this blunder without the good Doctor’s help,” Sherlock Holmes said. “There was no reason to bother him.”
Although my mind was a whirl of confusion, I realized that Holmes was peeved with my absence this past week. I did not know whether I should laugh, cry, or punch him. All options seemed viable.
“I did not come to you for your assistance, Mr. Holmes,” Lestrade explained. “I came to you because I thought Dr. Watson might be there. You see, Pennington is coming after him.”
The color drained from Holmes’ face. “What?” he asked with a strangled cry.
I drank my brandy in one gulp. “My testimony was instrumental during his trial, Holmes,” I stated. “He blamed me, personally, for his incarceration, and informed me that my life was forfeit if he could ever reach me. Seeing as he had murdered three people, I assumed he would be hanged and thus had little fear he would make good on his threats. I guess I never contemplated his escape.”
“We have to get you out of here,” Holmes exclaimed, grabbing my arm.
“Actually, I was hoping that Dr. Watson could help us to catch Pennington,” Lestrade stated.
Holmes whirled on him. “You wish to use Watson as bait? Are you crazed, Lestrade? Absolutely not. I will not allow it. Come on, Watson. Let’s pack you a bag.”
I refused to move. “Aren’t you forgetting one thing, Holmes?”
He looked at me, his eyes wide. “What?”
“To ask my opinion on this matter.” I turned to the policeman. “What do you need me to do, Inspector?”
Holmes looked as if I had struck him.
“We think Pennington will try and get to you here,” Lestrade explained, “at your practice, as it is fairly easy to locate. We will stakeout your house, waiting for his arrival.
“It’s far too dangerous,” Holmes argued.
“I’ll do it,” I agreed.
“I have the force here already,” Lestrade continued. “We’ll be set up in a few moments.”
“How long do you plan to wait for him to show?” Holmes demanded. “Scotland Yard does not have the resources to watch Watson’s home for any length of time.”
Lestrade nodded. “You’re right, Mr. Holmes. If he does not come by tomorrow, then we will have to figure out a different plan. But I have a feeling he’ll be here.”
“Meanwhile you’re wasting precious time while you’re escaped convict is still out there. You should be investigating leads, after you get Watson to safety.”
“You can go and start your investigation, Holmes,” I said. “I’m staying right here and helping Inspector Lestrade.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Holmes snapped.
“But the investigation—”
“Watson, if you think that after all the effort I spent over the past three years trying to keep you safe, that I’m now going to run off when there is a convicted murderer possibly looking for you, then you are as oblivious as you make yourself out to be in your stories.”
There was an awkward silence as I stared at Holmes. Lestrade cleared his throat. “We’ll be set up in a moment, gentlemen. I think, actually, that it would be a good idea if Mr. Holmes stayed with you, Doctor.”
“Won’t Pennington be suspicious if he breaks in and finds Sherlock Holmes sitting here?”
“As far as London knows, I’m dead, remember. I’ll act as one of your patients, Watson. I’m not leaving.”
“I don’t want to put you in danger, Holmes.”
“Then come away.”
“I cannot do that.”
“If you’re in danger, Watson, then so am I.”
Before I could respond, Lestrade said, “Let’s send your staff away to safety, Dr. Watson, and I’ll bring my constables in.”
Within a few moments the police had set up their surveillance. Holmes and I sat in my consulting room, a heavy silence hanging between us.
“Why are you doing this, Watson?” Holmes asked quietly.
“Pennington has to be caught. If he’s coming here, then the police have a chance to get him before he can do more damage. I saw the bodies of his victims, Holmes, and his unique method of mutilating them while they were still alive. I’ll do whatever is necessary to bring him to justice.”
“The police could stake out your place without you being here, Watson. There is no reason to put yourself in such danger.”
“Perhaps. But I’m certain Lestrade feels I’ll be safer here where they can watch me than elsewhere. I haven’t been idle these past three years, Holmes. I know how to defend myself.”
“I was not implying that you did not, Doctor. Nevertheless, this is a foolhardy—”
We were interrupted as the door to my consulting room banged open. Escaped convict Pennington was standing there, with a revolver in his hand pointed at me.
“Dr. Watson,” he said, his voice silky and dead. “And a companion. How fortuitous.”
“Pennington,” I said, as calmly as I could. “It certainly is a surprise to see you.” I wondered where the hell the police were.
“Really, Doctor? I know you were informed of my actions. Unfortunately for you, by the time the police got here I was already inside your house. They have no idea I’m here.”
“I told you the police were incompetent,” Holmes chimed in. “I knew you should have fled.”
My temper flared despite the great danger. “I suppose you could have done better.”
“Of course I could have.”
“Quiet,” Pennington demanded, now waving the revolver between the two of us. “I’m afraid I don’t know the identity of your friend here, Dr. Watson.”
“I am Sherlock Holmes.”
Pennington snorted in disbelief. “I heard you were dead.”
“Rumors of my demise and all that. Really, Watson has never written an accurate account of any of my cases; I cannot imagine why that one would be any different.”
“I have paid you great honor with my stories,” I exclaimed heatedly.
“Pshaw. You call that honor. I call them over-inflated melodramas.”
I was bitterly hurt, I must admit. But then I noticed that Holmes had taken a step closer to my mantel and thus, more importantly, the box where I hid my revolver.
“You ungrateful bastard,” I hissed heatedly, angry despite knowing his intentions. “I helped to build your reputation. Besides, most of the stories were written when I thought you were dead as a memorial to your work.” I inched my way closer to my medical cabinet. There was likely something in there that I could use as a weapon.
“Quiet,” Pennington demanded again. “I’m going to see you dead.”
“If we’re going to die anyway, I’d like to have this out with Holmes. Obviously it’s my last chance to tell him how I feel.”
“I know how you feel, Watson. Upset that I interrupted your perfect little life.”
“Ha! Perfect life. Bitter, empty life is more like it. I feel betrayed, Holmes. How could you not have told me where you were? How could you leave me alone, with everyone I cared for, you included, dead or dying? Perfect life? A living nightmare was more like it.”
“Quiet! Stop moving!” Pennington looked bewildered.
“How could you not trust me?” I continued.
“Not trust you?” Holmes exclaimed. “I’ve trusted no one else. I was trying to keep you safe, you idiot. If Moran had any inclination that you knew of my whereabouts, then you would have been dead. Or worse.”
“Stop. Be quiet!”
“Well, I’ve got a crazed killer pointing a pistol at my head, clamoring for my blood. Great job in protecting me.”
“I didn’t tell you become a police surgeon and to chase criminals.”
“You never told me anything, Holmes. You just left me alone to suffer.”
“I mean it. Stop or I’ll shoot you both.”
“Now, Watson!” Holmes exclaimed as he grabbed the fireplace poker and flung it at the criminal. Pennington instinctively ducked and although he pulled the trigger, his shot went wide. Holmes had my revolver out and pointed at Pennington in an instant, and I quickly grabbed the chloroform and charged. Before Pennington could react, I tackled him with a long remembered rugby move. Holmes was there immediately, kicking the pistol away, and I subdued the screaming man with my handkerchief doused in the compound. Finally there was silence.
Holmes and I looked at each other for a moment and then we weakly began to laugh.
“Welcome home, Holmes.”
“Watson, you are a treasure. Trouble as well, but a treasure.” Holmes helped me to rise and held onto my arm.
“Watson, what you said before—”
“I meant every word of it, Holmes,” said I, quietly.
He looked away quickly and let go of my arm.
I grabbed his hand. “However, Holmes, there were many things I did not say. I did not say how happy I am that you are here, and back, and safe. I did not say how much I missed you. I did not say how relieved I am that you are still alive and how grateful I am that you are back in my life. I am awash in confusion and melodramatic emotions. My apologies.”
He snorted and looked at our twined hands. “I am not in much better shape, my dear Watson, although I may hide my feelings a bit more. I deserve all your derision, yet I truly thought I was acting in your best interests. I did not know of Mrs. Watson’s illness; I swear to you. If I had… well, I do not know if I would have acted differently, but I am truly sorry for any pain I have caused you.”
I found it difficult to swallow. “Thank you, my friend.”
He continued to hold my hand, and finally met my eyes. “Move back to Baker Street, Watson.”
I blinked. “What?” I said, rather unintelligently, I might add.
He glanced around my disheveled consulting room. “You have a flair for adventure, Watson, and I could use a partner—you—at my side.” He took his free hand and touched my face. It was the most tender move he had ever made, especially toward me.
I met his eyes, looking into their intense grey. “Yes,” I breathed.
“What are you agreeing to, Watson?” he asked quietly, his voice barely above a whisper.
He stroked my face and then placed his fingers under my chin. I do not know what other tender expressions might have ensued because we suddenly heard a loud bang as the front door flew open.
Holmes quickly moved from me. “The cavalry has arrived,” he remarked cynically.
Lestrade burst into the room, his eyes alighting on the unconscious Pennington. “We heard gunshots!”
“Your prisoner, I presume,” Holmes said languidly, sinking into one of my chairs.
Lestrade looked between the two of us. “How?” he finally stammered.
“Watson and I are an unbeatable pair.”
It was all I could do to hide my smile.
Lestrade had his constables drag out the criminal. They were none too gentle, I noticed.
“By the way, Inspector,” said I, “I shall be selling my practice and taking up rooms with Holmes again. In case you need to find me.”
“And causing me no end of trouble, I am sure,” Lestrade muttered. But any bite in his remark was lessened by his smile. “Good evening, Doctor. Mr. Holmes. I have work I need to do. Escaped criminals create an avalanche of paperwork.” He nodded toward us and then left.
“Now, of course, I will just have to find a buyer,” I fretted as I looked around my consulting room.
“I am certain that there will be no trouble there,” Holmes commented. “Come, my dear Watson. Let’s discuss your needs over drinks at Baker Street.” He held out his arm and I linked my own with his.
“Of course, my dear Holmes.”
Arm and arm, we made our way home.