But in Blood
Rating: PG-13, parts NC-17
Word count: ~ 21.300.
Warning: Blood, non-con, lots of angst. Mary dies.
Prompt: Holmes as a vampire.
Summary: He committed his life to fight against crime, a brave yet sinful heart, a love longed for but never reached. He succumbed to darkness. It is said, that some die for love. But can love bring back the dead? True love?
A/N: Inspired by a manip pint_of_bovril posted on hw09 and dear tabby’s prompt in 2011, nurturedby enkiduts ‘Dharma’ also and her awesome quick beta read and comments who helped a lot to make this fic readable.
Please note that there are some links to other author's fics/vids. I bow to them and recommend to visit their sites.
Read here on AO3.
*** indicates POV change, --- no change. We start with Holmes POV. Feedback is highly appreciated and – Happy Helloween!
It had been a frosty November night, when I took my enemy with me into the roaring abyss that is Reichenbach Fall. I survived because of my brilliance, my ever restless mind, taking my brother’s aspirator down with me. How exactly I managed to get it out of my pocket in the icy water with clammy hands – I don’t know. But manage I did.
The professor however did not survive the fall. I landed on top of him, feeling his spine break under me, and then, I saw his lifeless body drifting down the river, his white gloved hands in front, as if searching for the right way.
Mycroft had made sure that provisions had been stored under a big rock, dry clothes, food, and no water. That I had aplenty.
I walked a mile down river, still chilled to the bone. My previously wounded shoulder numb, the pain dulled by the coldness. My body demanded rest, sleep, a long, hot bath.
But I had to make sure, that he was safe. That they were safe. My comrade in arms, my steady and trustworthy companion, the ever reliable Dr. Watson and dear Simza. A proud woman with as stout a heart as any man I have ever known. She would take care of Watson. The thought of him alone, thinking me dead, made my heart clench. The hurt I felt in my heart could in no way be compared to the cold chill in my bones or the pain in my shoulder.
I reached the Inn where Mycroft and I would meet short time before dawn. The keeper supplied me with a hot soup, which tasted like heaven after all the exhaustion I had endured. The room prepared for me was small, but clean. I fell into bed and was instantly asleep.
When I woke up, my brother watched me, watched over me as he has done all my life. Good old Mykie. He would die for me and I for him.
Only a few words were spoken. There wasn’t much to be said, anyway. He gave me the passports, money and some documents I would need on my journey east.
Yes, that was the way I had chosen a long time ago. To the East I would go. Following the blue band of the Donahue river, passing the Carpathians, Siebenburgen, Moldavia the Caspian Sea, the northern regions of Turkey, eastwards towards India, the Himalayan mountains, Tibet and China.
I was determined to find my destiny, my fate, nurture my spiritual needs, forget about civilisation, the cruel, loud, modern times and find solace for my heart, quiet for my mind, tranquillity of both body and soul. I required a pure source of energy for my still too fast beating heart, a clean, hot desert to come to my senses, leaving everything else behind.
I embraced my brother, maybe for the last time. He tried to hide his tears, but then he sobbed, kissed me tenderly and said:
“Little brother. Take care of yourself and come back when you have found what you are loning for.” So saying he closed the door behind him, slowly and with great care, as if by doing so to say good bye to the world himself.
He took my old clothes with him to erase all traces of my existence, and I, still tired and exhausted, went back to bed and slept two days straight, - I knew, that Mycroft would spare no effort to calm the citizens, inform the press, advise all departments which had to deal with the recent events and most of all: get Watson back to England and to his wife. Mycroft also would take care of him and Simza, although I wasn’t in the slightest concerned about her well-being.
She was strong, a blade made of the finest steel. She could handle the death of her brother and the uproar of chasing Moriarty much better than my dear doctor. I was worried more for him than any other involved in this case, as he would name it later on in one of his stories, the Final Problem.
Even the longest journey starts with the first step. I was aware that this journey would take away more of my strength, at first. But I had planned easy stages.
I would stay in Budapest for a while, and once arrived safely, telegram Mycroft to send me my violin. I’d had heard of a great musician who would accept my invitation to meet. A great master, who could help me…
But no! That was impossible now. A sudden pain in my shoulder brought me back. Even more than the pain reminding me of my handicap, the knowledge of never being able to play a violin again, made me sob and regret stopping Moriarty and his evil plans.
There would be no more soothing melody drawn from a string instrument by my hands…
A deep and sudden darkness overcame me, heightened by a terrible headache which made me swoon. I had to sit down for a while, to regain my composure.
The violin… my first and truest love…
Damn him! Damn Moriarty, Moran and the despicable creatures working in his service!
If there could only be a weapon, working with deadly precision, like a bullet, but steered by animated force…
With one shaking hand I wiped my forehead. A deep sigh escaped my lungs and I stumbled on with life.
Mycroft, my ever present angel, had left me the gypsy clothes, I had worn on our escape from Heilbrun. Looking like a vagabond of some sort, I found a kind hearted fellow, who gave me a ride on his cart until we separated when Zurich came in sight.
The large town, overcrowded with people tending to their business, was a perfect place to hide from the world’s attention. In disguise as a former soldier, - which reminded my aching heart of Watson, dear Watson, who never left my thoughts, - I found a small hotel, gave myself another two weeks rest, bought a ticket to Budapest and departed on New Year’s eve for the Hungarian city.
The ringing and rangling of the train soothed my swirling thoughts. I decided not to think about anything other than my dear doctor, imagining his face, his tender hands, his lips… Watson. I missed him so…
The pain in my shoulder had eased a little, but the pain in my heart remained undiminished.. Hopefully his wife would bring the joy back into his life which he so desperately craved and which I, alas, could not give him.
I cried myself into a restless sleep. I slept and dreamt of…
...a cemetery. Large, old, dark. A huge cast iron gate creaking on its hinges, giving the atmosphere the same hopeless, quiet loneliness that all of God’s acres inhabit.
I took a deep breath and entered the yard. The harsh sound of my footprints in the snow, a crow cawing in the distance, the wind whirling up the powdery white…
Strange forms in a foreign land, feeling cold and deadly on my face.
I rubbed my hands together, and examined the plot in front of me. Only a few people had attended the funeral. The grave, still fresh, decorated with sparse gifts for the last journey, no flowers, just candles and a little pot that looked like as if filled with wheat, or rice.
‘Gregarious Levanter’ a small wooden cross announced. Four days too late to meet one of the most talented musicians Europeans had ever the privilege to hear.
Not minding the cold, I lifted my hat. I searched my pockets and found the dry sprigs of heather Simza had given me and Mycroft, when we had departed for the fateful ball. I stuck them into the snow, hoping they would bring this great soul some solace, although they hadn’t served me…
I returned to the house whose owner wouldn’t accept any payment for taking me in other than my help to translate some letters, he had to send to England on behalf of one of his clients. A member of the once influential royal family, a Count Dracul, who wanted to claim a house or estate in England, leaving this old, superstitious land behind and heading for a better future in a modern land, so I was told.
The letters were sent to an attorney, Jonathan Harker, London - whom I’d heard of; one of my former clients had been acquainted with him. I included in the same post a letter informing Mycroft about the whole affair, although I hadn’t the slightest suspicion that everything wasn’t legal or legitimate.
With previous events still in mind, and knowing so much of criminal intelligence, I paid things like this more attention, than any of my fellows would have done.
I left on the sixth of January. Yes, my birthday. A year ago my brave doctor had presented me with a pearl for my watch-chain…
I tried not to cry. What a fragile being I had become! I shook my head and with the image of his blue eyes in front of me, marched towards my ultimate destination, wherever I may find it, whatever it may be.
Cavendish Place. My new home.
After our return from Europe and the events which had claimed so many lives; our lives were finally back to normal. Or rather: we were poised to begin a new life, Mary and I.
After a few days my nightmares became less and less fraught. They diminished with time, but never stopped completely.
That dark day will forever stay in my mind. The day, when my best friend and the bravest and wisest man I have known (and ever had the privilege to know), sacrificed his own life to end that of his worst enemy.
His fall over the balcony rail… my eyes filled with tears every time I recalled his beloved face in that final moment. The memory never failed to make my heart clench with grief and deep regret that I never had been able to express my deep love for him; other than with snide remarks and criticising his personal hygiene or drug abuse.
A clear vision appeared in front of me, a vision so vivid, so real, that I reached out to touch it and… was brought back into reality by Mary slamming the door.
She brought a parcel and when I opened it, I found the aspirator inside. A strange looking instrument, to be sure.
Of course I had seen such a thing before, but then…
“Mary!” I shouted and sprang up to find out who had brought the parcel and when.
But she shrugged, saying:
“Don’t worry, dear. That’s certainly one of Mycroft’s eccentric antics. The man is certifiably mad! There is no way it could be a sign that his brother is still alive.”
She touched my cheek tenderly and left me standing in the parlour, the aspirator still in hand. I shook my head, took a deep breath, calling myself a fool.
The thought Holmes could be alive had in fact never my mind, but then… what if he was alive?
Holmes still alive? Could he be alive? That fall had been fatal—there was no possibility of his having survived.
When I returned to my desk and manuscripts I found a mysterious question mark set behind the last two words of my latest novel. ‘The End?’ it now read.
I blinked in disbelief. How was that possible? My mind was racing. A stranger playing a cruel game with me? No. How could he have entered the house or, this room with Gladstone guarding the place?
No. Impossible. Mary, maybe. Or I myself. When I had left the desk… accidentally! Of course. I sighed.
I saw his face again. He smiled, the toothy smile I had always adored.
To be honest - I always saw him smiling; every time I closed my eyes I saw his beloved face again.
So many things I hadn’t done, had missed the opportunity to do! Going to the opera with him, or to the Royal, his favourite. He in his finest dinner jacket, shaved, hair slicked back and with the gesture and air of a free spirit, a cosmopolite, a bohemian.
He, London’s only consulting detective… I should have taken his hand—such a simple gesture - and confessed my feelings, my love!
“How I miss you Holmes…” I whispered and a tear found its way down my cheek. I clenched my teeth.
‘You have Mary now, foolish heart. Be still! Stop torturing me!’
But I was devastated.
‘Give yourself time. Time will heal this wound. Let it rest. Work! Find a new task. Forget him!’
But I knew I would never be able to forget him.
I placed myself behind the desk, the typewriter in front of me and took the sheet out.
A new sheet, a new beginning…
…but not a single word appeared on the white paper for a long time.
The strong and icy wind hit my face like the draft of a passing train. I had travelled many miles determined to reach Lhasa. Half a year had passed, yet my mind was still troubled.
It had calmed somewhatduring the long journey, through Vienna, Bucharest and the still green valleys of Moldavia; thence onward to the Caspian Sea. From there to the north, Odessa it was, Astrakhan, the Baical- and Astrachs lake, and now I was at the foot of the great Himalayan mountains.
My horse stood still, not moving a muscle.
Yes, a horse. A small, but sturdy steed of Mongolian stock, whose brown fur showed bald spots. She was old, but steadfast. She seemed to know the way, and so I let her carry me.
For miles and miles I sat slumped on her back, while she trotted along. I rested where she stopped, took my time; my thoughts still at Reichenbach, still with him; my brother and all the people I’d left behind.
I had sent several short letters, providing Mycroft with only enough information about my whereabouts and well-being to reassure him.
I was using the identity of a Norwegian scientist, Sigerson, which had served me well so far on my journey.
Of course dear Mykie couldn’t answer me; I’d left towns and villages as quickly as I had reached them.
Now I followed the old Nomad routes. The silk road, which had brought so many goods from the Eastern world to the West; a route established in ancient times when London was still a muddy place deep in the woods.
The wound I hardly felt anymore perhaps because I avoided using my right arm very much. I’d lost a considerable amount of weight, but I felt almost light hearted, with a destination ahead and a dark past behind me.
My curiosity was satisfied by many new and beautiful things: talks by roadside fires, new tastes, new colours and the great landscape that changed from day to day, from hour to hour.
I was almost happy, except for the fact, that my dear Watson wasn’t at my side. How I longed to see him, to hear his voice, gaze upon his beloved face, observe his blue eyes sparkling with joy again!
But I was dead, and he with… Mary! Thinking of her stabbed at my heart like dagger. Eery time I remembered the fact, that she had finally taken him… just as she’d declared she would the night of our first meeting.
Tossing her from that train hadn’t been very gentlemanly, - but it had saved her life. What more can a gentleman do for a lady?
Watson’s weight upon me after that fateful action was another dagger-like memory. I tried not to think of how furious he had been, how angry… and strong.
What if… I shook my head. It was futile to speculate about things that had happened in the past.
I must look forward and reach the monastery at Lhasa. There I hoped to find release from my burden, a completion of my soul and rest for my wildly beating heart.
I hadn’t calculated that living in a marriage with a woman I loved could be other than a life of peace, happiness and joy. Who would have thought, that the woman who was now my wife had a tongue sharp as a razor blade?
First we lived in harmony, then small, mundane things led to escalating incidents, and frequent clashes of personality. At a certain point I had enough. I took my hat, cloak, another of her itchy woolen scarves, and went to the Punchbowl.
Night had fallen when I arrived there, the familiar smell and atmosphere made me gasp, compelled but also relieved. It felt like coming home.
I placed bets; I drank; I drank more and left the Punchbowl with my pockets empty, my mind and body swaying.
That I told the driver to deliver me to 221B Baker Street I blamed on my befuddled brain, but when the carriage stopped in front of that too familiar front steps I nearly sobbed.
I searched my pockets, found a key, scratched at the lock and… the door opened. Mrs. Hudson, in hood and nightgown looked at me with an expression of both disbelief and undisguised joy at seeing me again.
“Dr Watson? What are you doing here? Have you got lost? Come in, come in. The night is cold.”
She scolded me a bit for being obviously drunk, but I laughed at her and said things I couldn’t remember when morning came. I found myself led up the seventeen stairs and put into bed where I immediately fell asleep.
Oh – what a disastrous morning followed this night. I had the headache of a lifetime, and while I waited for Mary and the carriage to arrive, I sat in my old arm chair and felt like the most unlucky soul in the world.
I had slept in Holmes’ bed. The pillow so soft and bearing traces of his scent had been like another blanket around me and, had evoked the most erotic dreams I’d had for a long time.
When I came to my senses again and I realized, what had happened…: the struggle with Mary, leaving the house, slamming the door, the Punchbowl, my joy at being back in the realm of my old life, my relief at being there; …I felt ashamed. I knew - I should feel regret and apologize to Mary: …a thing I had never done, when I had lived here with Holmes…
A sudden burst of longing overcame me, my heart thundered in my ears, my eyes filled yet again with tears.
After such a long time I thought I had overcome my grief, my loss – but no. The scar would never really heal. I had the strange feeling, it would be my death one day, too.
O Holmes... I still miss you so…
Mary’s voice brought me cruelly back to reality. She gave Mrs Hudson the money she had laid out for the carriage ride,and called my name.
“John? It’s me. Let us go back home and talk.”
I sighed, grabbed my stick, cloak and hat - the scarf I had lost somewhere during the night, - and with heavy steps went downstairs, avoiding her sharp gaze.
“Thank you, Mrs Hudson.” I said, without looking at my wife. She pressed my hand with empathy, and bid me and Mary a good day.
We spoke no word on our way home.
Kuku-nor, glorious town of Chinese splendour and Asian culture. It was here, where the Mongolian, Chinese and Tibetan cultures met. To the north it would have been another three or four weeks to reach the realm of the Russian emperor, to the east lay Peking, but I headed south.
A ship sailing the Hoang-ho brought me to Singan. I stayed a few days to learn a bit more of the language, but I found no resemblance to the dialect the men on the boat had used. Every few miles the language seemed to change. It bore more consonants in the north; the southern tongue sounded more like singing.
I made detailed notes about it, I also wrote down the signs they used as an alphabet. At least these seemed to be universal; everywhere I went the merchants understood the scribbling I showed them, providing me with food and a beautiful opium pipe.
Yes, that old habit had finally made its way back into my life. The opium of China tasted different from that exported to the western civilisation. I did not complain. It made the pain in my shoulder much more bearable, not to speak of the wound in my heart.
From Singan on I travelled by foot. The trusty steed I had set free, when I boarded the small ship. She looked back at me as though bidding me farewell, and it almost seemed, that she was glad to have fulfilled her task.
So many foreign gods surrounded me now. I hoped to find the right one to ease the pain I still felt.
It was a stormy afternoon, when Mary and I came back from the opera, and I heard her coughing for the first time. We had come to terms, finally, about my gambling habits, my staying out late and her tendency to keep the leash short. Expensive crystal vases had been destroyed in the process, but then I worked harder and much more than I should have.
I tended to my own devices, visited old army comrades, went to the Punchbowl and saw Mrs Hudson at Baker Street on a regular basis. I asked her, why she hadn’t accepted new tenants and she told me that Mycroft Holmes still paid the rent in order to keep everything in place as a remembrance for his beloved little brother.
“Then part of your house is a memorial, now?” I was puzzled to learn that Mycroft never came here, nor had he sent someone to take care of the things his brother had left behind.
“Dr Watson, it is so good to see you. You bring a little joy into my life. Feel free to use your old room whenever you are in need of a place to hide. And no, Mycroft Holmes never set foot into this house, - well just once, when he retrieved his brother’s violin…”
Ah, the violin. It pained me to think that Holmes would never to play his violin again. At the same moment my breath hitched, as memories flooded my mind of his beloved form falling into the abyss, consumed by the thunderous water.
“I loved to hear him play…” She said as though in reverie. She gave me a conspiratorial smile, and I smiled back at her. I knew we both were thinking of the individual who had inspired so much distress and uneasiness, but had also been the cause of much joy and happiness.
“I must confess,” she said, “that I miss him dearly.”
I took her hand in mine and together we sat, grieving over our long lost friend.
When I got home I felt a bit more at ease knowing that I had a friend out there, a place where I was welcome and could be at peace.