...Can't...stop....writing...... I'm telling you, I've written more for Holmes fandom in a week than I did in six months for nu!Trek. Sheesh....
Title: An Exchange of Words
Summary: Had Post-Its been invented in sometime in the Victorian era, it's likely that the Great War of the Notes would have gotten somewhat more heated. As it is, we must make due with what we have.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
It began when I chose to take a week out of my practice and join a number of old school friends on holiday in Scotland. I had packed my luggage up the night before my scheduled train, and left it on the floor beside my bedstead.
It seemed to me then that Holmes was entirely unaware of my impending absence, and he made no move to see me off as I left for my cab and the station. About halfway into the journey, however, I noticed something gently poking at my chest through the lining of my coat, and I pulled my arms out of the sleeves to investigate.
It was there that I found, slipped in under a torn piece of the lining, a small bit of folded letter paper. Its creases were still crisp and fresh, so it had to have been newly placed, and after a few moments of examining the color and grain of the sheet itself I concluded that it belonged to Holmes’s own stationary. So Holmes had left me a note (on his personal stock, so there was not supposed to be any sort of mystery in who it had come from,) most likely no earlier than the night before.
I really was learning his art after all, at least, as much as I was able.
After allowing myself that short moment of self-congratulation, I promptly unfolded the little letter and proceeded to read.
First thing’s first, Watson. This isn’t my stationary. It’s Mycroft’s, and borrowed for the occasion in an attempt to test you. I will assume that I have succeeded in my little deception and that you are exceedingly frustrated, but do forgive me, as I could not help myself. And it certainly will not do to see you get overly pleased with your own (admittedly improving) powers of deduction.
I allowed myself a bit of a laugh at that last line. Surely he understood how ridiculous it was for him to accuse me of arrogance in these matters, when he had admitted to encouraging praise for unraveling even the simplest mysteries.
The true purpose of this little missive, I must admit, is to bid you a good holiday, as I am guessing that I did not see you off this morning and while that is certainly nothing new in and of itself, it was quite ghastly of me and I wish to apologize to you now. Do enjoy yourself.
That one message was quite enough to keep me in good spirits all through the remainder of the train ride, even into the next day and beyond through a horrifically botched game of golf on which I surprised even myself by not joining in on the wager placed by my friends and fellow players.
I was most rewarded for my self-control when I returned to our lodgings and decided to distract myself from my failure with the book I had been reading of late, just a short and relatively simple-minded treatise on the virtues of liberal politics (there was a reason, after all, why I had named my dog Gladstone,) but when I opened to my previous page I saw that in place of my own marker there was another folded note.
I have not the necessary data to determine whether or not you entered into Stanford’s wager on the golf game, but judging by the following indisputable facts: first, that it has been several years since you last played with any success, second, that your leg has been treating you quite poorly, and third, that the weather is unlikely to be kind to your game. With that all in mind, I apologize for your loss, and hope that the self-indulgent prattle of kindred political minds eases the strain.
I read about fifty pages, before finding another note, this one folded more tightly so as to hide stealthily amidst the pages, unnoticed.
If you have read this far it means that you did not bet on that wretched golf game, and so I must take this opportunity to tell you that I am, in fact, very proud of you my dearest Watson.
I went to bed that night feeling as though my very heart had been set a-glow with warmest regard.
The rest of the trip proceeded very much in the same way. As it turned out, Holmes had in fact left for me a grand total of fifteen individual notes, each secreted away such that I would only find them at a most precise and pre-determined moment. I found them rolled into my socks, wrapped ‘round the cork of a wine bottle I had brought along with me, clipped to my handkerchiefs, and in all sorts of unlikely and astounding places.
I returned from my trip, having done little else beyond think of ways to respond in kind to all his little communiqués, and I felt by the time my cab drew up to the door at Baker Street that I was thoroughly prepared.
As was typical, he was hardly lacking for appetite or energy after I had resettled myself in the house and he had gotten him started on some small, (hardly publishable) case. I chose that moment to begin my assault.
He began his breakfast by finding a thin sheet slipped in between his pieces of toast, my handwriting evident upon its plane.
What’s all this then?
His smile was wide, genuine, and I knew that the game was afoot.
The Great War of the Notes had begun.
I tucked one carefully into the strings of his violin bow. Do remember to keep from leaving this on the floor, Holmes, as I’m afraid Gladstone has taken to using it as chew toy.
He had the nerve to drain a fresh pot of tea I had asked Mrs. Hudson to send up, leaving a little scroll in the sugar pot. Try to limit yourself to less than ten cups today, Watson, as we certainly don’t want to see that caffeine addiction of yours get any worse.
I pasted an unusually large and prominent notice on his dressing mirror. If you aren’t going to grow a proper beard than you must do your best to SHAVE every once in a while.
And then, my favorite, found tied to the knob of my bedroom door as I trudged in late one night, after a particularly grueling day. Look out behind you.
And there he was, a grin on his face and a glint in his eye.
But it did not escape my notice that I was just as capable of using this new diversion of ours for practical purposes as for pleasantly useless distraction. For a black mood was descending; I knew the signs too well.
One morning he approached me as I sat at my desk with the morning edition of the paper, anxious for some criminal mystery that might attract his more focused attention. Without speaking, indeed, without even allowing me to acknowledge his presence, he came round the side of the desk and gave me an utterly bruising kiss, lifting me from my chair (will I ever be able to understand how someone so slight and underfed should possess such strength?) and pressing me against the wall, dislodging an ugly old landscape from its nail.
It was only later that I was allowed to see what he had held in his hand as he had made the trip from his own rooms to mine: a note, torn from simple and unembellished letter paper, written in a doctor’s steady hand, and slipped in over the contents of a deplorably well-stocked morocco case.
Please, Holmes. For my sake.