Fandom and/or Prompt: Sherlock Holmes fandom, no prompt.
Rating: G, borderline PG for a 'damn' and a kiss. Or, and, er, drug use. Apparently doesn't register on my 'things I should warn about' sensor. But I should. So I am.
Length: 1144 words.
Disclaimer: ACD's work is in the public domain, but I'm definitely not claiming anything.
Notes: Third person. I know, gasp. I do hope this works in the spirit of the stories, however, and don't be afraid to correct me on anything since this is my first fic in this fandom and I like to be nudged in the right direction if I've gone astray.
This is one of those moments Watson will never bring himself to write about. He may decide, on days when he is feeling especially brave, that he will try; he may sit down at his desk, hands trembling, and reach for his pen; he may address the envelope in heavy letters, with strict instructions to anyone who might find it; and he may sketch out the scene, describing his fury and Homes’ uncaring, opium-induced languor, the heavy atmosphere in their sitting room and the tension building between them as he tries not to snipe, and Homes makes no effort to rein in his sarcasm, their untouched breakfast still on the table even as they argue; but he will get no further, and whatever he does manage to commit to paper will find itself burned in the fireplace before the ink has had time to dry.
This is his greatest adventure, and he cannot tell it to the world. Sometimes he wonders what that will mean in a hundred years time, or in two hundred, or a thousand. He writes about the mysteries they solve together for any number of reasons; because he wants the public to appreciate Homes as much as he does, because he enjoys the act of telling a tale, because of the little royalty he gets for each publication. But sometimes - when he’s reading a history book, or thinking of the little details his editor cuts out of a story - he wonders what happens to the facts that nobody knows about. He thinks of the unnamed dead from battles long ago and wonders, if nobody remembers them, were they ever really there? If he doesn’t write this down, doesn’t tell somebody about it, will it cease to have ever happened once he and Homes are dead and gone? The thought chills him, and he is quick to brush it aside, but it will surface without warning in his mind, and it’s on those occasions that he reaches for his pen and holds it against his chin, staring into space, or produces a thousand words of irrelevant nonsense about the weather that day and the way Homes taunted him with his damned habit and his ability to walk circles round Watson in their arguments even while under its influence.
But he never quite manages to reach the point, and it is not for want of trying. He finds a thousand different ways, over the next twenty years, to begin the story, but not a single blessed way to finish it. Once, just once, he pens their entire argument, from his own demands that Holmes roll down his sleeve and make an attempt at concealing his habit, and Holmes’ amused drawl as he finally acknowledged that his friend was even there; Come now, Watson, I thought you were a grown man and a medical one at that; to the moment he could no longer look at the figure on the settee and turned away, moved the breakfast things around on the table, raised his tea cup to his pale, tight lips and, taking a sip, realised it had gone cold and, without a word, threw the cup against the wall. He writes how Holmes sat up, then, his expression decidedly sober, and spoke in the most careful of tones.
“I had not realised you cared…”
“Of course you d-”
“…Quite so much.”
He writes, his hand trembling a little between words, how Holmes got up from the settee and picked up the three biggest pieces of the shattered teacup, making a little pile of them on the saucer, and then calmly rang for their landlady to remove the breakfast things. He writes about the little pieces of bone china he found in the carpet, on the bookshelf, even stuck in the curtains for a week afterwards, and he writes about the rainstorm which dragged itself across London that morning, and the way the city blackened, and the little suite of rooms in Baker Street became the only pool of brightness and warmth he could imagine. He writes about the distant thunder and how he could feel it through the floor, and the young couple outside in the street who were caught unprepared and how they ran for the nearest cab.
He writes about the dying fire, and the shadows it threw across the wall as morning was transformed, by the sudden storm, into dusk. He writes a whole paragraph on the stillness of the air, and the sounds he could hear - the scurrying of mice in the walls that could never be persuaded, for long, to leave, and the rattling of carriage wheels and the familiar sounds of horses and men and shouting children.
But he never, quite, gets down on paper how the lines upon his friend’s face, lines that weren‘t there the year before, only served to make him look wiser as they held each other’s gaze for the first time in weeks. Or that Holmes rested both hands upon his shoulders and squeezed them tight, forcing Watson to show on his face everything he held in his heart, and he doesn’t note the words that passed between them then, brief words of reassurance from Holmes, hesitant questions from Watson himself, and then silence, only the subtle tightening of muscles around the eyes, a parting of lips, the trembling of hands and -
It isn’t because he is scared that Watson never writes about that kiss, although he is scared - scared of discovery, of the harshness of the law, of the ruin that could befall them both. It is only natural that he is scared, but that is not what stays his pen. When he tries to put words around the thrill that ran through his body at Holmes’ touch, or the look in his eye the instant before their lips met, he finds that it is not possible. There are no words in the English language that can combine to adequately represent the realisation that there is no pity in your lover’s kiss, no condescension, nothing, in fact, but adoration and a hint of fear. And there is nothing Watson can do to make his pen sketch out the moment the kiss fell apart and they were left staring across the space between them, reading the desire in each other’s eyes and wishing there was a way to make such a simple thing as this work.
No matter how much he desires to record that story, to have it read and enjoyed, for it to bring tears to his audience’s eyes years after he is gone, he cannot do justice to the feelings he wants to describe. He will try and he will always fail, and the story will never be written; but as long as he lives, it remains a fact. And that is all.