Part 1—An Unfortunate Meeting
If you’re not familiar with the BBC’s modern version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, Seasons 1 & 2 are out on DVD. Season 3 aired on PBS Masterpiece during January and February of 2014. For more information, clips and interviews, visit PBS Masterpiece here.
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“I know. He can be awful.” Molly Hooper, his friend from Pathology, trotted to keep up.
They came to a set of heavy, metal fire doors. Not slowing his rage-driven pace, John straight-armed the door on his side, sending it flying. It stopped short of the wall with a dull thud and a human grunt of pain.
“Oh, God,” John muttered, hurrying through.
A woman sprawled behind the door. Dazed, she held a hand to her face, blood running through her fingers.
“Oh, my God.” John dropped to her.
The woman’s eyes fluttered open. He pulled her hand away. A reddening mark on her brow marked the impact point. The nosebleed was profuse.
“Molly,” he said crisply, “find me a trauma kit—and ice.”
He felt the bridge of the woman’s nose—a laceration there from impact, but not broken. Her eyes seemed clear and even—striking, pale eyes.
“Can you pinch here?” He guided her bloody hand to the nasal root.
She followed his instructions and sucked air between her teeth at the pain.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, sitting her up.
“It’s my fault,” she said thickly, swallowed and gagged a little. “I was on the right.”
“I keep forgetting.”
“Forgetting?” She wasn’t making sense. Concussion, maybe.
Molly ran back with the kit and an ice pack. Deftly, John lifted the woman’s hand and placed the pack. “Hold that.”
“You drive on the left, queue on the left,” she continued, her face half-covered. “I keep forgetting to stay on the left.”
“You’re American,” he guessed from her accent. “You’re used to being on the right.”
“It’s my fault. I’m sorry.”
Molly had opened the gauze pack and drizzled it with disinfectant. John squeezed out the excess and pressed a wad of it to the woman’s nose.
“You’re sorry. There’s a window in that door for good reason. I’m the one who stormed through without looking.”
“Then, I guess we’re both dopes.”
John looked up at Molly. “Go on and get what His Majesty wants. Tell him I’ll meet up at the station.”
Molly nodded and hurried down the hall.
“His Majesty?” the woman asked.
“Just a figure of speech,” John muttered. He tossed the bloody gauze and grabbed up another handful. “Tilt your head a bit.”
“You’re angry. At him,” she stated, muffled under his hand. “Is that why you pushed the door so hard?”
“You’re quite astute for someone just punched in the face.”
Her free hand crept up to where he pressed her nose. It circled his wrist. “You didn’t punch me,” she said quietly. “But if you really want to feel better, you can buy me coffee sometime.”
“Coffee?” He blinked and tossed the dirty gauze. “Dinner at the very least. Here, hold this.” Pulling her hand from his wrist, he guided it to the fresh gauze at her nose. “Needs a bit of pressure. Not much.”
John went to work cleaning her face and neck. Tips of her honey-colored hair stuck in the blood pooled at her throat. He gently pried it free.
“So, what brings an American girl to St. Bart’s?” Lame. He was still recovering from the idea of dinner.
She paused a long time. John thought she might not answer him at all. Too personal? God, I’m a tit.
But, then she made a genteel throat-clearing noise and swallowed. “I’m helping Dr. Bashir with his research. Do you know him?”
“Bashir? No, I don’t know him. What’s the research?”
Her tongue slid across her front teeth. “My face is numb,” she said.
“That won’t last,” he said, scrubbing at a drying patch. “Ibuprofin for the pain when you need it.”
“So, you’re a doctor, not just some guy running through the halls.”
“Dr. John Watson, at your service.”
“Mary Morstan. Charmed, I’m sure.”
“I’m making a botch of this.” He tossed the gauze. “We’ll find real soap and water when you’re able to stand.” Carefully, he plied her hand away from her nose. “Bleeding’s stopped.”
She lifted one edge of the ice pack and blinked in the glare of the ceiling fluorescents. He watched her take his measure and stopped himself from squaring his shoulders.
“You’ll have a goose egg, I’m afraid, and black eyes tomorrow. But your nose isn’t broken, thank God. I am so, so sor—”
The hand returned to his wrist and shook him a little, stopping his endless apologizing. “Ready to try standing?” he asked instead.
She paled as he helped her up. “Oh.”
“Steady.” He held her arm. “You might be wobbly for a moment. Any nausea?”
She swallowed several times. “Yeah.”
“You took some blood. It will pass.”
An orderly hurried down the hall. “Miss Hooper sent me. Can I help you, sir?”
“No, I think we can manage.” He watched Mary’s ashen face. “But, would you mind taking care of that mess on the floor?”
“Of course.” He pulled out a pair of gloves. “Do you need a wheelchair, madam?”
“No, just the bathroom.”
“‘Round the corner next to the elevator.”
“Let’s try it,” she said.
He could hear water running, and then the distinctive sound of retching. Squeezing into the cramped water closet, he found her vomiting clotted blood into the sink. Moving closer, he gathered her hair back. “It’s all right. You’ll feel better for it after.”
“Uh,” Mary groaned, washing down the mess. “Gross.”
She patted wet hands to her face and looked in the mirror.
“Your blouse is ruined, I’m afraid,” John said, letting go of her hair.
“That’s okay.” She offered him a wan smile in the mirror. “Your turn now.”
“Wash your hands. A doctor with bloody hands—isn’t that sort of frowned on here? Aren’t you supposed to wear gloves or something?”
“I don’t actually carry a pair in my wallet.” He pumped soap into his palm and went to work on the crust rimming his nail beds. “Are you worried about my reputation? I should think squeezing into a public loo with a patient might be worse.”
“You’re not officially my doctor, are you?” She held onto the side of the sink.
“Well, there are rules about this kind of thing in America.”
“This kind of thing?”
“Doctor/Patient hand-washing,” she whispered.
John laughed. “Yes, we have similar rules here.” He unrolled paper toweling and dried his hands. “I think we’re safely within the law.”
He opened the door. “Better? Not so wobbly?”
“Better. But, do you mind?” She slipped tentative fingers under his arm.
A knot of administrative types in business suits hurried by, frowning disapprovingly as they passed—which made them both titter.
“Ow,” Mary groaned. “Don’t make me laugh.”
John maneuvered them into the elevator, then felt for his phone. He had the cab company on speed dial. “Straight home,” he told Mary when he finished the call. “Have a long lie-down. But elevate your head with lots of pillows. Don’t try blowing your nose today. And use that ice pack again in an hour.”
“Okay,” she said quietly. “Could I see your phone?”
He handed it over and watched her navigate through to his contact list. “When you decide to call me,” she said, making a new entry. “For coffee.”
“Dinner,” he reminded her, taking back the phone. Their eyes met for a moment. Yes, her eyes were striking. Pale. Blue maybe, or green.
The elevator doors opened onto the hospital lobby. John could see a black cab pulling into the circle drive. He tucked her hand securely into the bend of his elbow and took his time crossing to the front door. Her gait seemed steady enough, but neither of them were inclined to let go.
Once he settled her into the back and gave the cabbie money, he leaned through the window.
“Rest. I’ll call when I can to check on you.”
“Because you have to meet up with that guy you’re so mad at.”
“And you have business to take care of.”
“Stay away from doors around him, John Watson.”
“Right,” he grinned. “Good advice.”
He watched the cab pull into the street and disappear into traffic. Shaking his head, he stared blankly for a moment like someone smacked him in the face with a steel door. Then, he went to find Sherlock.
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To read Part 2, The Gentleman Caller, click here.