I failed.

I sat of the sofa, staring at nothing, hearing nothing, sensing nothing.

The case had been long and hard, with many twists and turns. A woman kidnapped, found dead. A murderer still free.

I failed.

I contemplated, for a moment, losing myself to the sweet oblivion of the needle, its hypnotic effect coursing through my veins, soothing my wretched soul.

I am a failure.

I didn’t deserve that oblivion.

Then Watson came to me.

“Leave me alone,” I whispered, I think. I was sure of nothing.

“You’re going to eat now, Holmes,” he said, his tone soft with an iron core, his beautiful, gentle eyes looking sad yet resolute.

I failed.

“No,” I said.

His mouth quirked, an almost smile. He put his hand upon my shoulder. I flinched and tried to draw away, but his grip was strong. “You’re going to eat now, Holmes,” he repeated. He tightened his grip. “You will do it either voluntarily, or I’m going to force you. But, so help me God, you are going to eat.”

“I’m stronger than you,” I said by way of argument.

“Not in your current state.”

I knew he was right. I hadn’t eaten. I hadn’t slept. I was utterly spent. I continued to argue nonetheless. “You wouldn’t,” I stated flatly.

“I would.” He pulled me to my feet unexpectedly, his eyes searching mine. I quickly looked away.

I am a failure.

I made my way to the table, resentfully, and stared at the soup laid out before me. I took a spoonful; it tasted like sawdust.

I looked at Watson; he looked at me. “Eat,” he insisted.

I ate the sawdust soup under his ever-watchful eyes.

I failed.

The moment his back was turned, I went back to the sofa, staring at nothing once more.

He sat next to me and took my hand. I couldn’t feel it.

“There was nothing more you could have done, my dear fellow,” he said. “She was already dead before you were even consulted.” His statement was reasonable, true even. But it didn’t absolve me.

“And still her murderer runs free,” I spat out.

I am a failure.

“No one could find him, Holmes,” Watson said softly. He drew me into his arms. I stiffened, then capitulated. It was hardly worth the fight.

I allowed myself to sink into his arms. He gently kissed my brow.

“I love you,” he said quietly.

I tensed and drew back. “Then you love a failure,” I said, my tone bitter and vehement and full of justifiable loathing.

He cupped my chin and turned me to face him, his eyes boring into me, his concern, his compassion, his sympathy crashing over me in a wave. I trembled.

“You are not a failure,” he said, his tone insistent, unyielding. “You may have failed this time, on this case, but you, Sherlock Holmes, are not a failure.”

I closed my eyes, fighting off their sudden dampness. He held me tight.

Watson has a tremendous gift of silence. He said everything else that he had to say with his embrace.

I allowed my grief to drain, my tears to pour, my sorrow to flow. He accepted it all and washed it away.

It wasn’t absolution, for I still deserved none. But it was acceptance, and affirmation, and ultimately love.

I sighed into his embrace, and slowly felt his warmth permeate into my frozen core.

“My dear Watson,” I whispered.

He kissed my brow again and pulled me closer still.




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