Another Birthday

Another birthday, all alone.

It’s not as if I expected anything, really. But Holmes’ complete lack of acknowledgment was, if I was honest with myself, hurtful.

Holmes was hurrying out of our sitting room as I made my way to breakfast. “Watson,” he exclaimed, sounding rather breathless, “Lestrade just telegraphed. I must hurry.”

“Would you care for some company?” I asked hopefully, willing to forego my food for a new adventure.

“That’s hardly necessary,” said he in a rather condescending tone. “Good bye.” Then he rushed out the door without another word.

Mrs. Hudson was effusive in her warm birthday wishes, but I was quite upset by Holmes’ disregard. I tried telling myself that he was busy and that he had just forgotten in his haste and excitement over a new case. I tried telling myself that it did not bother me that he hadn’t said, ‘Have a nice birthday,’ on his way out.

I knew that I was lying to myself.

Holmes did not return that morning. I left Baker Street, dejected, and made my way to my club for lunch. None of my acquaintances there remembered my natal day, but then I hardly expected them to do so. After all, they were not Holmes.

It was late afternoon by the time I returned home. Holmes was still missing.

I thought about heading to a concert, or a restaurant, or the theatre, but I lacked the motivation to go alone. I settled into the settee with a sea novel, but the book did not hold my attention.

I was, I admit, in a rather black mood.

I must have dozed off, boring story in hand, for my next recollection was being startled by a loud bang as Holmes slammed open the door to our rooms.

“Ah Watson, there you are,” he cried.

“Where have you been all day?” I demanded.

“Never mind that now,” said he. “We must hurry. Your assistance would be valuable.”

As much as I had wanted to accompany him earlier, I was now rather resentful. “Does it have to be now, Holmes?” I asked, rather bitterly I’m afraid.

He looked me at peculiarly. “Yes. The timing is imperative. I don’t know why you’re hesitating, Watson. It’s not as if you have anything better to do.”

I was quite proud of the fact that I refrained from answering, since I knew that I would say something in my anger that I would likely regret later when my temper had cooled. But I was quite tempted.

Instead, I simply rose and grabbed my coat and hat. “Let’s go,” said I, as calmly as I could.

If Holmes noticed anything amiss, he refused to address it.

It was a rather chilly evening and I pulled my coat around me tightly to ward off the cold. “Where are we going?” I asked, not really interested in the answer.

“A nearby pub,” said Holmes. “That’s where everything took place.”

“Are you going to give me any information?” I enquired dully.

“No. I want your unbiased opinion.”

I shrugged slightly and sighed. I followed him through the winding London streets until we found ourselves outside of a pleasant if pedestrian public house. What was striking, however, was that it was lacking the normal din of patrons.

“It’s rather quiet,” I remarked to Holmes.

“The investigation,” he replied reasonably. He gestured to the door. “Go inside. I’m curious as to what you think.”

I pushed open the door and stepped into the darkened establishment.

Suddenly there was a blinding light. And then a loud chorus of “Surprise!”

I found myself dragged into the pub, hearing an endless litany of “Happy Birthday, Dr. Watson!” I think it is no exaggeration to say that almost all of my friends and acquaintances were there—the Scotland Yard inspectors, the men from my club, even my favorite tobacconist.

There were many slaps on my back and warm handshakes. There were birthday wishes and quite a bit of ale. There was laughter and warmth and camaraderie. And in the corner, watching everything, was Holmes.

My eyes met his across the room. He raised his glass in a toast. I smiled, and nodded, and was then dragged into a nearby conversation.

Eventually I found myself by the bar with a pint in my hand. Holmes was suddenly beside me. I grabbed his arm.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” I said breathlessly. “This is… unexpected. And wonderful.”

His smile was genuine and dazzling.

“Happy birthday, my dear Watson,” said he, clinking his glass to mine.

I returned his smile.

He leaned into me and spoke quietly into my ear. “This is just the beginning of your many birthday delights.”

I gasped and pulled back, scandalized that he would make such an insinuation with so many members of the law nearby. He merely chuckled.

But my excitement at his promise could not be quelled. “I look forward to it,” I replied with a bit of a wink.

He laughed louder.

“Happy birthday,” he repeated quietly, and I could see his fondness and other feelings for me that we never named shining through.

“Yes, it is,” I declared. I linked my arm through one of his and raised my glass with the other. “To friends,” I said, and smiled at him broadly.

“And partners,” he responded. We brought our glasses together.




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