Here we go… Part One, Chapter One of this… thing.

As mentioned in my post subtitled, “Oh, my Lord, what was I thinking?” this is supposed to be the sequel to Seventy Minutes to London. However. It takes place six years later and Sherlock Holmes is dead (yes, we know better, but *shh!* don’t tell Watson). So it’s still a sequel… just a really different one. I hope you’re not disappointed.

It’s got lots of stuff that happens. Gunplay and what not. But not for a little while. And this first Chapter is basically an angst pie a la angst with angst sprinkles on top. It gets better. All right I guess I’ve delayed as long as I can. Oh, wait! No I haven’t.

A quick word about postings – the story is completely written so don’t worry – it’s not a WIP. But I do need to do some additional fact checking (there’s lotsa facty bits) so I’ll post chapters as I get them twigged up and ready to go. Also as I feel brave enough. The two may not entirely overlap. I’m just saying. All right. I’m done.

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The Longest Night

or
“Being John Watson”

by nlr alicia

Author’s Note: This is the sequel to this author’s story Seventy Minutes to London and an alternate history of the events recorded by Dr. John Watson in “The Adventure of the Empty House.” I hope familiarity with those works is not required… but it couldn’t hurt.

Author’s Paroxysm of Inadequacy: There is clearly no reason to rewrite “The Adventure of the Empty House” except that I, like many others, feel that there could be more to the story than we know. This is only one interpretation and a fairly outlandish one at that. I’ll leave it to you to decide how useful it is in continuing the perpetual discussion of a fascinating tale.

-oOo-

Content Warnings: Romantical slash. PG-Rated in the last chapter. Angst? Oh, my Lord, yes. Also substance abuse, French detectives, egregious misuse of poetry and lots and lots of trains. (Sorry about all the trains.) A tad bit of violence. No kittens at all.

-oOo-

From “Seventy Minutes to London”
Pycroft chuckled merrily. “It goes to show my old Ma was right. She used to say, my boy, the longest night in the world’s still got a sunrise after it.”

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—oooOIIIOooo—

Part 1: Without Words

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Cold Light

I regarded the syringe in my hand. It didn’t occupy my thoughts. It was merely an object. What it represented – that was the heart of the thing.

I lifted it to the light. The white gas flame shone through the liquid in the glass barrel. The solution would be transparent soon. Now it was milky white, like clouds before a winter sun.

I studied my clenched fist as I steadied it on the desk before me. I traced a single blue-violet vein from my wrist to the crook of my arm.

The action would be a simple one. Pierce the skin. Feel the needle slide home. Then spreading peace, washing all this away.

My fist relaxed. Not now. I reached for the slim black carrying case. I slotted the syringe into the velvet lining and snapped the lid shut. I would use it when I was ready, but not now.

I rose from my desk. There would be time later to take it out again. Right now I had a patient waiting. I rolled down my sleeve, shrugged into my jacket and slipped the black case into my breast pocket then I walked through the consulting-room door.

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-«oOo»-
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Chapter One: Memory of Silence

It must be in the nature of man to dwell over past wrongs as he lies awake in the watches of the night. Poets have told us the hours between the turning of the calendar and the dawn of the new day are the longest of all. That is when regret holds sway, driving out all other emotions in its tyranny over the mind.

I turned to my friend. He was studying my face with a tenderness I had never known.

I swallowed hard and said, “I must talk with Mary.”

He nodded. “You will not have far to look for me,” he murmured under the din of the travelers shuffling past.

“As soon as I can,” I promised.

Holmes flashed a small smile and turned to go.

It was by no means the last conversation I had with Sherlock Holmes. In the three years that followed that moment, there were many conversations – cheerful, petty, bright, bitter. But that conversation, the one that repeated in my mind with the awful steadiness of a metronome, was the last, and only, in which we showed one another our true hearts.

“I must talk with Mary.”

“You will not have far to look for me.”

“As soon as I can.”

I hesitated. In the cold light of day, I couldn’t find the words to tell my wife that my heart, my life, belonged to someone else. Had belonged to someone else before I knew her. Before I knew it myself.

Then her time ran away like water through an open hand. Mary was sick and would never be well again. She was alone with no family but I. She was the one I had promised to keep – promised aloud and promised first.

What else could I have done, I asked the night. Mary needed me. Holmes would wait. He understood, never asking for more than I could give.

What else could I have done? “More,” the night said in answer.

“You will not have far to look for me.”

“As soon as I can.”

What was it that made him shy like a skittish colt in the face of open emotion? It may have been a shield against the endless pain brought to his doorstep. He was the last recourse for so many troubled hearts. Or maybe it was some childhood grief that could never be healed.

I would never know how much it must have cost him to offer up the key to that deep and echoing well of love inside himself. To give it to a man who would tuck it away saying, “I will use this later. There will be time.”

I never said the words, “I love you.” I never made it real. I never even came as close as I did that night as we grasped the fleeting minutes with both hands. That night I knew time was finite and brief. I forgot so soon.

“You will not have far to look for me.”

He came like a wraith in the night. Mary was away at the hot springs where so many sought refuge against time. He asked if I could come with him, and I said, yes, of course. I might have read the signs but I listened to the words – Professor Moriarty and air guns and precautions with the cab.

He went over my garden wall and met me on the train and we flew together. It was just another adventure to me. This one would end like the rest and life would resume its old track. I would know where to find him when the time was right.

He played at cheer even as he told me it was the end. Hard-hearted as I was, I didn’t really listen. And in that last moment when I left him staring into the chasm, in his final moments, instead of saying goodbye I spoke of the next time we’d meet and hurried away.

“You will not have far to look for me.”

He was gone. It was as simple and as final as that. He was gone and I was alone on a cliff side.

I held close the few things he’d left behind, packed in my bag until we would meet at the next hotel. A shaving kit, a set of collars – everyday things, new things with no real meaning.

And one thing steeped in meaning. The black leather case where he kept his syringe and small supply of drug. He used it to keep at bay whatever demons haunted his mind, but his demons, too, were gone.

I’d take out the glass syringe and think about him. Then I’d slip it back into my pocket like a talisman and go on thinking about him. He never really left my mind. The city was so much a part of him and he of it. His brother once said, “I hear of Sherlock everywhere.” How little I knew the truth of it at the time.

“You will not have far to look for me.”

“As soon as I can.”

My dear Mary was gone not long after. I held her hand and watched her go to that place where her pain would cease.

Then I plodded through the long days and lay awake in the endless night feeling time press down on me like the dark. And so it might have gone on forever, except for one thing, one small and simple thing, like a pebble tossed in a lake. It was something Stamford said.

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-«oOo»-
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~ Coming Soon ~
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Chapter Two: Stamford’s Advice
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