Monday, December 28, 2009

Revised Reunion

This is a more fleshed out version of Holmes's 1890 reunion with Helen Stoner. I decided that I indeed wanted her to wait to accept his proposal. It's around summertime, after the publication of SIGN in February 1890.

This is the year that Watson moves his practice from Paddington to Kensington, and Holmes thinks that Watson is trying to avoid him. He decides to try to move on by apologizing to Helen for what happened in Chapter 8. Again, the chapter numbers are based on the DIM outline as it stands now.

Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Story: partial chapter 13 of DIM
Pairing: Holmes/Helen Stoner, implied Holmes/Watson
Warnings: hetero, slash, PG

1890 Reunion

He at last apologises to her, completely and without reserve. She soon comes to meet him in Baker Street. He proposes to her and she refuses, but graciously. She tells him that he must wait and properly woo her. She's been through two previous engagements and wants to be sure of him now. So he agrees to put away the ring for now.

She changes the subject by asking about his health. "You look pale and worn, so much older than when you were that fresh 20-something I met. Why, you look as old as me." And she ought to know, being prematurely grey.

He nods, then quietly confesses about his cocaine use and assures her that he is breaking off the habit now. Expects to be clean and sober in time to be married.

She absorbs that, then calmly says that she is not surprised about his addiction, after what she read in SIGN. (Also, perhaps she saw some drug addicts as well in her charity work at a hospital for the poor.)

"You (still) read his stories?" insanely jealous

She smiles. "No matter how angry I was at you, I still liked hearing about the doctor."

He huffs.

She asks to see his arm, pushing back the sleeve. Refers to when he pushed back her own sleeve to show the bruise at her wrist.

So he lets her bare his arm. Notices that, unlike Watson, there is no disgust in her eyes or anger or sorrow or world-weariness. She does not lecture him, either, to his relief. She just looks at his forearm with curiosity and concern, brushing her fingertips over the needle marks. Then she looks up into his grey eyes.

A wordless tension as they touch and sit close together. Then they kiss and embrace for the first time in years. It's been three years since Watson last kissed him or touched him ardently, and he finds that he craves the touch. She in turn is testing the sincerity of his apology, by how passionately he kisses her. Satisfied, she pulls back after a bit and smiles at him.

"We should take care, lest Dr. Watson walk in on us and be embarrassed."

He reminds her, "He does not live here anymore."

"Oh I know he is married, but you said he still comes to see you, whether or not you have a case. I hope he is in better health than you are these days. Did you tell him I was coming to visit today?"

"Why should I?" showing jealousy again.

She protests, "Holmes, I really don't understand why you still think I am out to seduce Watson. I came here to see you. Besides, do you think I lack morals? He is a married man, and I am a Christian woman. I am not smitten with him in any case."

"Then why do you always ask about him?"

"Because he is one of the two men who saved my life seven years ago! Can I not be grateful and wish him well in his life? Also, you described him so flippantly in your letters, saying that he was chasing every female client of yours. The man I met had too much honour and discretion to take advantage of a woman in distress about her case. I did not believe you, and now that he's published his tale of wooing Mary Morstan, I believe that you have mistakenly assumed he was flirting with every lady when in fact he was only being comforting to them." Watson had sounded almost childlike in his description of falling in love.

Holmes shrugged. "Well, he never proposed to anyone but Mary Morstan."

"Exactly. And sometimes I wanted to write to him to ask him innocent questions, like why Jefferson Hope came to 221B, and why the Baker Street Irregulars didn't age between your first case and Miss Morstan's case. When you and I were not speaking, Holmes, I still had that basic curiosity."

"Yes, you have a mind that seeks a solution."

She nodded. "So that's why I asked those same questions of you once we were speaking again." Holmes had told her that it was part of Watson's creative license, and to protect the identity of the grown up Irregulars. "And if I see Watson now, I should like to grant him permission to publish my case after all. I have seen how skilfully he has fictionalised his tales to shield your clients, so I do not fear any scandal now." She would just like to make sure that Watson would change names and enough details, so that the Surrey county police will not come after them.

"Very well, I shall tell him your wishes."

"Why can't I tell him myself?"

"Can we not have this night for ourselves?" Invites her out to a romantic dinner.

She is pleased, and agrees. They go out and enjoy themselves. She is pleased to hold onto his hand and to kiss him occasionally.

As he drops her off in Harrow, she invites him in to see her aunt.

Holmes asks, "Since she is your only living relative, I suppose I should make a good impression upon her?"

She chuckles. "Yes. Don't worry. I have told her that you have apologised to me. She won't be unfriendly."

"Very well."

They go inside and chat a while. Recall that he briefly met Honoria before, when he came to see Helen after her case.

As Holmes leaves, she kisses him goodnight and asks, "I suppose I should steel myself to be introduced to your brother Mycroft as well. Won't you let me warm up by seeing Watson first?"

He tries to control his jealousy. "I believe he is very busy with his new practice."

"But surely I should see him. He is practically family to you, and I should congratulate him on his marriage and his publications."

"I will see if he can get away. Mycroft as well is firmly stuck in his routine, and must be persuaded to make time for anything else."

For about a fortnight he manages to hold her off with excuses. They enjoy getting close instead, and try calling each other by their first names now. (Should he or should he not tell her the middle name that he'd told Watson? Since Watson never used it with him, why not?) They kiss and embrace familiarly; he has sorely missed being touched, and he tries not to think about how happy Watson and his wife are. They go to concerts together, and she jokes how it's a shame that Irene is on the continent, and they shall not be able to see her perform. She thanks Holmes again for having lied to the King about Irene and Godfrey's faked deaths.

"I should have known better than to help the King. I was just too eager to have a case to share with Watson."

"I understand. You missed him."

Holmes tells her some more about the NAVA case, saying that Watson will not publish it for years, because of the sensitive treaty, but he explains about Annie Harrison and Percy Phelps. "She exhibited a strong character in her writing. I saw immediately the resemblance to your own writing, and I knew she could be trusted, even if I suspected her brother."

She looks flattered. "And this is why you asked about my regrets about Percy?"


"Well, I would not have married him anyway. We were not right for each other, and I have heard that he is quite happy with his wife."

"And what do you think about becoming a wife?" he asks.

She ponders. "I think it might be nice, especially to be with you. Some details would have to be settled, though. If I were to accept, I should have to move here and bring all my things back. I would need time to make arrangements for someone to administer my charities in New York too."

"What if I moved to New York?" He is seeking a way to put some distance between him and Watson. Trying to let the feelings go and move on.

She scoffs in disbelief. "You, leave England? But your family is here, Dr. Watson, and your Irregulars."

"You have lived away from your only family for years and not damaged your relationship. With Mycroft, it would be easier still. Watson has his own life now, and the Irregulars have grown. Your friends in America are my friends too. I should not be lonely with Wilson Hargreave and the Pinkertons there."

"You wish to rejoin them? But you said that the Pinkertons' style of detection was not your own. Besides, all your clients would still seek you here."

"And they shall not find me." He says that he intends to wrap up his Moriarty case soon, and once the criminal organisation is gone, so will all the most challenging cases be gone too. "Scotland Yard can handle what crime is left, with perhaps some unofficial help from my Irregulars. I can retire altogether and devote myself to chemical researches instead. These can be easily done in America. I do not think you should have to give up your very useful work for me."

Touched, she smiles and kisses him sweetly. After a moment, she says uncertainly, "Well, if I am to seriously consider your proposal, I need to be assured of something..."

He nods and pulls her closer. He tells her softly that he also wishes to be sure of what he is capable of. "Would you allow me to test my hypothesis?" Would he be able to get Watson out of his mind?

His clinical way of phrasing it causes her to laugh at the absurdity; it relieves some of her nervous tension.

So they agree to spend the night together, and begin to kiss more deeply than usual. He is relieved that he does indeed feel a hunger and heat from long ago. He denied his feelings before when he left her in New York, and now he can choose the path he didn't take then. They eventually retreat to his bedroom and lock the door. She worries for a bit whether he will disapprove of her experience, but instead he is glad to be able to follow her lead.

After lovemaking, they lay close.

H pensively asks her if she is really all right with marrying a recovering drug addict. "I am... unfortunately not the same man I was seven years ago when you first kissed me."

"Nor am I the same woman, Sherlock."

He nods. "But still, you retain your excellent mind and your profound powers of influence, as demonstrated by your deft skill in handling Irene Adler's case--"

She scoffed. "If I had such powers of influence, I would have convinced Irene to marry Godfrey years ago. Or at least convinced her to get rid of that damned photograph."

He shrugs and continues, "But I am not as I was, Helen. I have crumbled and lost my talents to the point that I am little better than an ordinary Scotland Yarder now. Watson always warned me that I would pay a price for continuing to use the cocaine, and unfortunately he was right."

"Well, he is your doctor, after all. He would know. But let us not dwell on what has happened already. Only promise me that you will do your best to overcome your addiction for good. We may need Dr. Watson's help in this."

He frowns and looks reluctant. "I am not sure if he can help me."

"Why not?"

"He--he is so busy with his new practice now, and he has his own wife to think of. In fact I have seen him only rarely in the last few months; his interest in my cases, and me, seems to be waning permanently."

"Nonsense! Why that story he just published shows how deeply he still is concerned with your happiness. Even as he celebrated his own engagement, he hoped that you would find happiness too and--" She stops suddenly, with a strange thought. She sits up and asks, "Sherlock, are you--have you only proposed to me so that you won't be alone? Because Watson has a wife, and you miss him, so now you want a wife too?"

Holmes stares at her aghast. "Helen! How can you say that? You doubt me after all this?"

"But you do miss him. And you talk jealously of his happy marriage. You also talk about how weary you are, and how you need to retire even though you are scarcely 37. I am simply your retirement, aren't I?"

He points out that Irene Adler retired before she was 30. (Let's say she retired at about 27, two years after being dumped by the Crown Prince--about 1886.)

Helen counters that Irene was forced into retirement, trying to avoid Wilhelm's continued persecution. He also created a great scandal to make her shunned by respectable opera houses.

Holmes in turn claims that he is being forced into retirement by Moriarty. There will be no work left when the professor is defeated.

"Stop changing the subject. I'm asking about your cocaine addiction, and your jealousy of Watson's happiness."

"I-I am not jealous."

"You are lonely."

Basically the rest of the sketch is like before.

Crap! I just realized that there's a continuity disconnect with Holmes's question about "You still read his stories?" and his having answered questions about SIGN before. I'll have to fix that by making it sarcastic, or cutting it out and moving it earlier, to their letters just after February.

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