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Fic: At the Shore's Edge (ACD-verse)

Author: methylviolet10b
Rating: PG-13
Universe: ACD
Characters: John Watson
Word Count: 679
Summary: Watson struggles. A follow-on to At the Broken Bell and At the Southend Docks. Written for the September prompt on Watson's Woes: secret.
Warnings: This is still more fragmentary than anything else, and strange to boot. And absolutely no beta. This was written in a complete rush. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Pain is no friend of mine, but I have a long acquaintance with it all the same. A strange thought to have as I became aware, yet there it was. I wondered why.

I recognized pain as I hovered on the edge of consciousness. My thoughts were logy, slow, and scrambled by the agony coursing through me. I tried to marshal them, even as I struggled to fully awaken.

I knew this pain, the various incarnations of what I now suffered.


Bruises, cuts, sprains, and even broken bones are all things any reasonably active fellow might experience over the course of an adventurous childhood or years spent on school playing-fields. I was reasonably certain that was why I knew how to interpret some of the pain as one of the bones in my forearm being cracked, the skin over the knuckles on both hands as abraded and bruised, and that one elbow was strained to the point of sprain.

Then again, I could not force my blurred mind to recall playing any sports, or anything about my childhood. I might be imagining those things, but I did not imagine the injuries, trivial though they were in light of my greater hurts.

I had been shot.

I knew what flesh and bone felt like when ravaged and shattered by a bullet. I knew it to the depths of my being, though I could not remember why I knew such a thing. My leg howled with that same soul-searing, mind-numbing pain.

Presumably I had been shot sometime before, and survived the experience. So perhaps I would survive this, too, though the pain was unbearable, and I could feel fever eating away at me along with the pain.

Oh. Fever. Yes, I knew that too. I had burned in this fire before, nearly perished in its flames.

Was I dying now? Was that why my chest felt so heavy, why it hurt to breathe? What was happening to me?

Why couldn’t I remember what had happened to bring me to this state?

Why couldn’t I open my eyes?

My eyelids continued to refuse my commands, but my other senses functioned after a fashion. I still felt, all too well. And there were sounds. Creaking. A splash – no, a dripping sort of sound.

A voice.

“How does he, Jacobs?”

Did I know that voice? It seemed strange and familiar all at once.

“The bleedin’s stopped, Cap’n, but th’ wound’s already fevered.”

Cap’n? Captain. Captain Basil. The name floated to the surface of my mind, bringing a faint tide of memory at long last.

“An’ ‘e swallowed half th’ briny afore Alec fished ‘im out.”

I did not recognize the other voice, but I knew the accent, understood what his words meant. Wound-fever. Drowning, or near enough to it. A dire combination, congestion in the lungs and an infected gunshot wound, as I well knew.

Why did I know that?

“I’m tryin’ to keep ‘im cool, but the sooner we bring ‘im t’ shore, th’ better.”

“That’s a few hours yet. Go get yourself a bite from the cook, then keep tending Williams until we make landfall.”

Williams? That wasn’t right.

“Aye Cap’n.” Soft sounds of retreat.

A light touch to my aching, fevered brow, startling and strangely soothing all at once.


I knew that name. I knew that voice. I knew that touch, that long-fingered hand resting ever so lightly against my skin.

“Hang on, my dear man.”

I was Watson, John Watson. And that was Holmes’ touch, Holmes’ voice, commanding as always, yet with a pleading note that could not be.

He could not be.

Holmes was not here. And Watson…Watson was a secret. Williams, not Watson, was the name I must answer to.

I heard his voice/not-his-voice speak again, a few soft, impossible words.  Every fibre of my being wanted to respond to him as I had always done, but I must not. He – his presence, his words - all was a product of fever and wishing, not real.

Danger. Secret.

I refused the order and let myself fade.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2016 10:59 am (UTC)
I like the subtlety and ambiguity. Well done.
Oct. 1st, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
This nothing short of wonderful writing. The knowledge of pain and the knowledge of love reflect in the fragments like in a broken mirror, multiplied and dispersed but sparking life. Thank you!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )