sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-03 03:14 pm

SHERLOCK HOLMES: The Rational Mind.

Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Rating: PG, I suppose. Very nearly G, really.
Summary: The war has followed Watson home, and Holmes re-examines his principles in light of his friend's suffering. Holmes/Watson.
Warnings: Discussion of war-induced PTSD.
Notes: This is written in descending-word order; 500-400-300-200-100 words. It was supposed to be porny; hard luck to you.

First Posted 3.22.06.

Also available at AO3.

The Rational Mind

I had not been installed as a tenant of Baker Street for two weeks when I inadvertently woke Sherlock Holmes for the first time.

It was not my intent to bring any strife into our agreeable bachelor lodgings, but unfortunately the strife followed me there. I awoke from a nightmare of the Afghanistan campaign to what I was certain was gatling-gunfire, only to find that it was Holmes, banging loudly on the door to my bedroom.

"Watson? I say, Watson!"

I confess that I leapt out of bed with haste and threw a dressing-gown round my shoulders lest Holmes should attempt to break down the door, calling some reassurance until I could unlatch it myself.

When I threw the door open he stood on the other side in a pair of threadbare pyjamas, face flickering in the light of the candle he held.

"I heard a shout," he said impassively.

"Yes -- I fancied I saw a rat."

"Certainly not -- not in the establishment of the good Mrs. Hudson," he observed.

"No, it was a shadow. Did I wake you?"

His lips quirked. "It is of no matter. I am a particularly light sleeper; my inquiries arose from a concern for your safety, not from any personal annoyance."

"Thank god for that," I said. "I'm quite well, however."

"Just so. Then I shall bid you good night, Doctor."

As he turned to go, I laid a hand on his arm, by impulse; if we were to share quarters, he would have to know sooner or later.

"Holmes," said I, "If I ever do wake you -- "

He lifted an eyebrow.

"Just bang a bit on the partition," our rooms being separated only by a single wall, "and I shall endeavour to be more silent."

"Quite," he agreed.

And that, it appeared, was that. It was a paltry illusion, no doubt; Holmes would not have entered into it had I not suggested it. But enter into it he did, in the spirit of domestic peace, which was gratifying and not unappreciated.

I endeavoured to make his agreement unnecessary; the dreams had, at any rate, not come as often as when I was in hospital. He, in turn, did not remark on what he above all others must have seen: the bills from the alienist, the chemist's deliveries, the periodic loss of appetite. It comes with the wartime neurasthenia, though I imagine there is a different name for it now.

If in my public writings I have sometimes portrayed him as abrupt, tactless, and intolerant of stupidity, there was good reason. He was all of those things. But he was also kind to me, understanding of my deficiencies, and more agreeable in light of my medical difficulties than anyone I have ever known. Sherlock Holmes not only studied the physical nature of human beings, that which may be quantified and used. He had a more thorough understanding of the human spirit than any man, whether or not he chose to use it in his daily interaction with a race which was largely alien to him.


Holmes was not without his own idiosyncrasies. He had moods which would, no doubt, have driven any ordinary man to distraction, yet I was not at all unsatisfied with our association. In habits he was mainly tidy, discounting the chemist's bench and the papers he tended to strew about the room. He was a man of sober morals; he rarely drank more than a glass of brandy after dinner, and his complete disregard for the feminine sex has been well-documented elsewhere. His cocaine habit, at the least, was his alone and did no harm to any others.

We got on exceedingly well. He knew what I would tolerate as eccentricity and what was a step over the boundaries of our mutual agreeableness; he never annoyed me with his mindless scraping at the violin but afterwards would play my favourite airs, and he never filled the sitting-room with noxious odours from his chemicals but aftewards would agree to eat lunch at our club.

The uneasiness of two strangers sharing quarters had passed away quickly. In time we became good friends, and I began, as the reader will no doubt be aware, to chronicle his cases and the resulting misadventures we shared.

Rarely a month went by that I did not wake Holmes at least once, but he was as good as his word and never did more than rap on the partition between our rooms with his walking-stick.

It was after one tense evening with Holmes, hunting a thief, senses alert and service revolver at the ready, that I had a particularly vivid dream. I had known a young field dresser while on campaign, and at one point in a battle we were overrun and he was taken by the enemy. I am not a squeamish man -- doctors mustn't be -- but they left his hands and eyeballs for us to find, and one does not recover from such things quickly. His eyes haunted my dreams.

Holmes could not wake me that time. When I finally did wake it was to see him sitting next to my pillow, one hand on my face, calling my name.

We didn't speak of the matter until the next nightmare. He could have woken me from that one without leaving his bed, but he did not; he came to my room and repeated his earlier gesture until I woke again, and was calmed.


Mr. Sherlock Holmes, as many men of our generation, was not given to physical affection; he would grasp a shoulder or shake a hand in greeting, and has been known to kiss the hands of women he wished for whatever private reason to charm, but his isolation from the rest of mankind was manifested in physical as well as intellectual fashion. When he was moody, he did no more than politeness required; in his more cheerful moods he seemed to forget all sense of tact, with very similar results. He knew how to bow to a king, salute a duchess, address a marquis or speak to a beggar, but he was too careless with human feeling to bother actually doing anything of the kind.

I have seen him apologise for stupidity (where no apology was warranted) or when an apology was demanded by circumstances, but I don't believe he frequently noticed, or ever regretted, being rude to any of his many acquaintances.

I was the sole exception, and I am fond of believing that it was more than the habit of a man to his fellow lodger that brought him to it. Of all the people he has met in his life, I believe that I am one of only two or three whom he actually believed to be real, and worth the time it took to consider someone else's feelings on anything.

"Watson," he said to me, as I sat up and shook my head, thanking him with a mutter for waking me. "Is there nothing to be done?"

"I have done all I can," I replied, mistaking his tone for annoyance.

"The war still torments you."

I looked at him. His keen eyes watched me carefully. "Yes, it does," said I.

"I am sorry," he replied, and pressed his forehead against mine.


Once, in my dreams, I saw him stabbed through with a sabre and woke screaming to find that I could not move; I thrashed against what held me, only to find that Holmes was lying next to me, his arm across my chest.

"Calm yourself, Watson," he said quietly, and I fell still. "Dreams, nothing more."

He smelled of tobacco, newspaper ink and candle wax, hot acrid smells that were comforting to me and cleared my head.

"Good christ," I said. "I shall end in a sanatorium."

"No, you will not," he replied. "I will not allow that."

I put one hand on his, where it rested against my heart. My breathing had slowed, and though I considered rising to take my blood-pressure, a habit I acquired to monitor what little health remained to me, I did not move. His own breathing was quite even, and he seemed not in the least angry or excited.

He is not a sane man. Sane men do not act as he does. Yet rationality has its appeal, and to know that his logical mind did not judge my dreams was comforting.

I slept more easily when he shared my bed. I am not ashamed of this.


"Watson," Holmes said to me once, in that bed, "I believe that affection cannot be allowed into the workings of a logical mind. It causes a man to wholly lose sight of his aims. But you are my colleague and friend; you make no demands I would not answer. I now understand that affection for you does not impair my reason. It improves it."

"You often observe me," I answered. "What do you find?"

"I deduce nothing you are unaware of."

"I give you leave to act on your deductions."

He kissed me, broken as I was, and tightened his arm around me.

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, Sam.


[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow. That was almost painfully sweet. <3

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Ack. I mean that in a bittersweet way, not a diabetic-coma way. <3

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:32 pm (UTC)(link)
"I deduce nothing you are unaware of."

"I give you leave to act on your deductions."


[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:51 pm (UTC)(link)
That last line makes me go all wibbly. Then again, so do the subtle things that really bring out Watson's voice: "bills from the alienist," "he never annoyed me with his mindless scraping at the violin but afterwards would play my favourite airs" (something about the syntax in that one), "Good christ, I shall end in a sanatorium."

I loved reading this. Now I want to know how Holmes could ever have allowed Watson to get married.

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:54 pm (UTC)(link)

"You often observe me," I answered. "What do you find?"
"I deduce nothing you are unaware of."
"I give you leave to act on your deductions."

What they mean to say is:

"I love you, but I am too repressed an English gentleman to say so," I answered. "How 'bout yourself?"
"The same."
"Well, then kiss me you big lummox."

[identity profile] 2006-03-23 06:28 pm (UTC)(link)
*snicker* exactly. Although on one level it is:

"You know I'm gay."
"Well, yes."
"So kiss me, you big lummox."


[identity profile] 2006-03-22 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Sam, this might be one of the best pieces you've written. You've not only captured the language and style of Sherlock Holmes, but you brought out new elements in a lovely way. Very nice! I'm really impressed :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:01 pm (UTC)(link)
oh, my goodness. if you are going to take up writing sherlock holmes fanfic, then i am going to have to give up and declare you perfect!

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 08:35 pm (UTC)(link)
And just think, the source material is all out of copyright, so it's fair game and publishable! :->

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:09 pm (UTC)(link)
This is wonderful! You've captured the voices perfectly, as usual.

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Your icon, who said that?
It's great, by the way...

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Within the narrow confines of stifling etiquette and misanthropic detachment, it's romantic. It's so British.

Does anyone even comment on your characterization anymore? I think your readership have gotten so accustomed to flawless three-dimensionality that it's no longer remarkable. Now we have to go on about how your characters are so complete that they accurately reflect historical periods and social climes.

And you can't find a job you like. That juxtaposition makes my brain hurt.

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[identity profile] - 2006-03-23 20:51 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Eek! There are a few pairings that are so much better without the smex, and this is one of them. Thank you! So good!

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Wonderful! You managed to capture the pattern of Watson's voice perfectly; I could feel Holmes' london in every sentence. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:46 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:47 pm (UTC)(link)
It's wonderful! So in-character! I love it, so simple and plausible. Very good.

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:47 pm (UTC)(link)
... I should really finish my Holmes. I've got the full set, just... haven't gotten but three-quarters through it yet.

But this? Oh, Sam, this was delightful.

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:53 pm (UTC)(link)
*has goosebumps*

Wow. Just -- wow.

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 06:58 pm (UTC)(link)
If in my public writings I have sometimes portrayed him as abrupt, tactless, and intolerant of stupidity, there was good reason. He was all of those things...He had a more thorough understanding of the human spirit than any man, whether or not he chose to use it in his daily interaction with a race which was largely alien to him.

OMG Sherlock Holmes is Severus Snape!

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[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Eee! Yay! Highlight of my afternoon, this has been. I love the mystery. I love the good doctor and Holmes. And Mary Russell. All of them. Eee!

(Anonymous) 2006-03-22 07:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh.My.Goodness. OH so beautiful. Oh such a gorgeous gorgeous last sentence. Bittersweet and... and oh. *melts*

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:12 pm (UTC)(link)

That's beautiful work. The period writing! Although it would have been interesting to see how you kept Watson's voice in porn. (hint! hint!)

[identity profile] 2006-03-23 06:22 pm (UTC)(link)
I've seen porn in Watson's voice, but it's quite hard to do well. What I saw was not very hot, but very....medical. In-character. :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:26 pm (UTC)(link)
That was fantastic! I haven't read Sherlock Holmes in years--certainly not since I started getting the urges to slash everyone I came across--but I imagine if I read it now I would want to slash Holmes and Watson. Thank you for providing what I didn't even know I wanted! You've captured Watson's voice perfect-like, and overcome the difficulty of making a stoic and unaffectionate character fall believably in love. Kudos!
ext_1798: (thinkum/milton)

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I find your observations about Holmes most intriguing, particularly concerning his relations with the rest of humanity. Makes me want to go reread Arthur Conan Doyle. :)

Thank you for a most fascinating read!

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Please say you plan to make a habit of this.

(I knew it. Holmes/Watson slash generally doesn't work for me, but I thought that it might were it written well enough. You have succeeded. Wow.)

[identity profile] 2006-03-23 05:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I dunno yet. I write what the muses send me, apparently *grins*

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I really liked this. *sniff*

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:34 pm (UTC)(link)
It's been several years sice I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and I am pleased to say he is most likely spinning in his grave.


That was absolutely Brilliant.

[identity profile] 2006-03-23 04:33 am (UTC)(link)
Oh undoubtedly. Though I have to say, this is more realistic than some Holmes fic I've read :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-22 07:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd love to see more of this, but I don't think it's really necessary. You've said all that needs to be said, and said it well.

Small quibble, though: I'm not sure that the term "shell-shock" was used until fairly late in Watson's life. It would work if you're assuming that this is written long after it happened, of course.

[identity profile] 2006-03-23 04:32 am (UTC)(link)
You're right about shell-shock -- [ profile] prof_panagaea (oh god I may have spelled that wrong) confirmed it and suggested an alternative.

I think you and s/he would actually get on really well, come to think of it...

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