AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: Sherlock Holmes (Bookverse)
PAIRING: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Holmes had a good reason for giving Watson's distant relative the money to buy Watson's practice. In fact he had two good reasons.
WORD COUNT: 2,465
AUTHOR'S NOTE 1: Written for birggitt: A - Atonement (11/41)
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: For this story I have broken with tradition as this story is first person but from Holmes's POV not Watson's.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
John Watson is a good man; he is a very good man. He is my friend, my colleague, my companion, my biographer; he is a man on whom I rely; a man I trust implicitly, and I do not trust easily. He brings a sense of honesty into my life which I do not believe I would otherwise know or even understand. In some ways he understands and knows the word better than I; in many ways he is what I could never be; he is straight-forward and easy to understand. He is a man who cares - perhaps a little too much at times.
He is the man with whom I shared rooms for some time; the man who was willing to assist me with my cases and he did assist me, I sometimes think I never let him know quite how important his assistance was to me - or indeed his friendship. In fact I know I did not let him know, just as I never let him know that in my own way, which is quite different from his, that I too cared.
I believe that part of the reason I never let him know these things was that I did not truly know myself quite how much I valued his assistance, his friendship, his company until I no longer had it - at least I know longer had it in the way I was used to having it.
It was not until he left our rooms to marry and set up a new practice that I realised quite how much I had become used to his company of an evening; quite how used I had got to us sitting together in our sitting room, sometimes talking, other times just smoking in silence. I had no one for whom I could play my violin, no one to stop me from taking cocaine, not that he ever did stop me, but his presence, the fact I knew he disliked what I was doing made me use it somewhat less than I might have done, than I did do once he'd gone. I had no one with whom I could discuss the cases, no one I could explain my theories to, no one to be surprised when I solved what was apparently unsolvable. Of course he did still assist me when he could spare the time from his practice and from Mrs. Watson, but it was not the same as having him here with me in Baker Street all of the time.
One evening as I sat by the fire, my pipe in my hand, the cocaine bottle and syringe on the table, three daily newspapers spread out on the floor, my mind only partly on the case that had been brought to me just that morning I realised something else; something that was quite unexpected.
It had been five days since I had seen Watson and I had to admit I missed him and not merely as someone with whom I could discuss my case or explain my theories, or someone to make me hesitate before I picked up the syringe and cocaine bottle, or someone to smoke in silence with or even someone to simply talk to. I missed him; I missed my Watson; my friend; my companion; it was his company I missed; it was he I wanted here in Baker Street, here with me, back in our rooms.
I do not believe that the concept that I was a man who could be jealous had ever occurred to me before. Indeed, I know it had not; it could not have done so as it is a strong emotion and strong emotions are not something I feel. I am not, I had always believed I was not, a man who is even capable of feeling strong emotions. I never have; jealousy, love, hatred, passion and such things are for other people to feel, not I.
And yet as I sat by the fire, my pipe having gone out, I realised I was indeed jealous. I was jealous of Mrs. Watson; I was jealous that she had the company of my Watson; that it was she with whom he sat of an evening; she with whom he now shared his time; she to whom he spoke; she who came first in his life; she he wished to be with; she who had replaced me in his life; she was the person about whom he cared most of all; she was the person whom he loved.
I do not understand love; neither the emotion nor the physical need - both are unknown to me, unwelcome even; I have known neither nor did I ever expect to know either of them. And yet as I sat in the far too silent room, ignoring the daily papers, my mind no longer even partly on the case I had been brought, I knew that to feel what I felt, to in effect resent Mrs. Watson for taking Watson from me, for being who she was, for existing, meant that my feelings for Watson must be deeper than I had believed them to be.
Whether they were love in the way other people love, I did not know, how could I know? I just knew I wanted Watson back in these rooms, back by side; I wanted once more to be the person with whom he shared his time; the person with whom he sat of an evening; the person to whom he spoke; the person who came first in his life; the person he wished to be with; the person about whom he cared most of all - as I had been before she had come into our lives - I even wished to be the person whom he loved. Or did I?
My thoughts were confusing, jumbled and more difficult to understand than anything ever had been. I did not wish to feel this way; I did not wish to resent Mrs. Watson; I did not wish to miss Watson so much; I did not wish to care about him as I did; I did not wish to experience the alien emotions I was experiencing; I did not wish to find myself so reliant on another human being; I did not wish to be the man I suddenly found myself as. I did not wish to experience love.
In an attempt to rid my mind of the emotions I did not wish to experience, I reached for the syringe and cocaine bottle, pulling far more into the syringe than I normally did, seeking whatever it might give me. As I pushed the needle into my arm and depressed the end of the syringe and let the cocaine flow into my body, I ignored the slight feeling of guilt that passed through me at how much of the drug I had used. Guilt was another strong emotion and another one I was not used to feeling; another one I did not wish to feel.
Maybe once one has experienced strong emotion it is not possible to turn things back to how they had once been no matter how much one wishes to do so. Maybe one is destined to go on feeling things more strongly than one once did, maybe that is what makes human beings human. If that is so, I wished most sincerely I had never had my first experience of strong emotion. I wished I had never realised quite how important Watson was to me; I wished I had never allowed myself to think of Mrs. Watson in the way I had thought of her.
At the news of her death I once more experienced a strong emotion: guilt, a guilt that was far, far deeper than I had experienced the night I had injected for too much cocaine into my arm. I had resented her existence and now she existed no more. And whilst I knew logically, intellectually, that my resentment had nothing to do with her death, and that I was in no way responsible for her death, I knew I had to do something to atone for how I had felt.
Thus, I gave money to a young, somewhat distant relative of Watson which enabled him to buy Watson's practice and thus allowed Watson to return to me; to return to our rooms; to return to my side; to return to being my companion; to return to being by my side; to return to sitting with me of an evening; to return to me. And he did and in a short time things went back to how they had been before he had left my side. He never spoke of her and I never asked any questions. Things just went back to how they had been.
And yet they did not; not quite. Once again I can only explain it by saying that once one has experienced a strong emotion it seems that one goes on experiencing them. As Watson and I slipped back into the way our lives had been before he had left me to marry, I found myself blaming myself for him leaving me in the first place. Blame, as with guilt and jealousy is another emotion I was not used to feeling.
However, I felt it and I began to believe that because I had not showed him or told him how important he was to me, how much he mattered to me as a friend, a companion and a colleague that is why he chose to marry and leave my side. And once again I felt I had something for which I needed, for which I had to, atone.
Since Watson's return I had taken to watching him more than I had watched him prior to him leaving me and to listening to his tone as much, if not more, than I listened to his actual words. And by doing these things I realised something else that I had not realised before he had left me; or rather I noticed what I had always noticed but never understood - or maybe I did not wish to understand.
I still did not think it was possible for me to understand love beyond the fraternal love and I wasn't even certain I understood that; I still did not believe I wanted or wished to understand it - either as an emotion or in the physical way. However, I was quite certain my lack of understanding and of noticing was partly at least responsible for driving Watson from my side. He had sought companionship in a way that I would not, could not, was not prepared, was not able to give him.
And yet maybe I could, at least in part. Could it really be so hard? Was it completely beyond me to reach out to another human being? I believed I owed Watson enough to at least try to let him know, let him see, quite how important he was to me and yet to do so would not be easy.
He looked up from the paper he'd been reading. "Yes, my dear Holmes?"
I paused to offer and light for him a cigarette, before I took and lit one for myself. I threw the spent match into the fire and moved to stand in front of it as I looked at him. He was still looking up at me, still waiting for me to speak. "I," I paused and breathed some smoke into my lungs letting it burn for a moment or two before releasing it. "I am," again I hesitated as I sought for the right word. "I am pleased that you have returned to Baker Street." To my ears my voice sounded far too stilted, far too unlike my own.
He was still staring at me and I believed I saw a very faint smile touch his lips and his eyes seemed just a little brighter. "I am pleased to be back, Holmes," he said.
I swallowed and forced myself to speak again. "I missed you, Watson," I said, moving from the fire to sit down in the arm chair opposite his. He was just staring at me, but he seemed happy with my words, if a little surprised. "It was not the same without you here."
He glanced away from me for a moment and then spoke, his voice was low and I could not completely understand his tone. "It was strange not being here, Holmes," he said. "I missed," he looked back at me. "I missed our evenings together. I missed being so involved in your cases." Again he fell silent and then just as I believed he was not going to say anything else he looked at me, really looked at me, stared directly into my eyes in a way he has never done before and said softly, "I missed you, Holmes."
I still did not truly understand love; I still did not know if I was capable of understanding the emotion; I still did not know if I wished to understand the physical side of it. But I did understand one thing: I did not wish him to leave my side again.
I leant forward, put my hand out and took his hand in mine and held it. It felt a little strange and yet not at all strange; it felt quite natural to be holding his hand. And maybe it would be enough; maybe this is what I could give him; maybe this would help me atone. Maybe we did not need anything else. "Watson?"
"My dear Holmes?" he didn't seem troubled by the fact I was holding his hand. Indeed he seemed quite content; he seemed almost peaceful as he sat opposite me, staring at me, his hand warm in mine.
"I do not wish you to leave Baker Street again," I paused, it wasn't enough. I made myself go on, "I do not wish you to leave me again." And with those words I pulled his hand nearer to me, bringing it up towards my mouth as I bent my head a little, put my lips on his hand and for a moment, a brief moment, I let them linger on his skin, before I let our still joined hands fall back down. He smiled at me and his eyes gave me the answer I wanted.
We sat in silence just looking at one another. I still did not know, I still was not certain, if it was enough. I still did not know if I could give anything more; I still did not know if I wished to. But I was certain that for now at least it would suffice - for both of us.