Sherlock Holmes: the Problem
Chapter six
Copyright held by Cynthia K. Coe

I looked up from my workbench where I'd been examining the envelope sent over from the Harbottles when Watson opened the door and greeted our guests. I was feeling a little nervous at meeting them now that I knew their history, but was unsure whether they both knew ours. This was one of those moments when I had to follow Watson's lead. Strong drink might help I decided and crossed to the sideboard for the whiskey.

They entered and I acknowledged their greetings with a slight smile and a request for their preferences. Josiah crossed over immediately and said the whiskey would be fine. David and Watson chose the sherry, going back to the fire with their glasses with the young man settling on the footstool at Watson's feet.

"I see you have already been investigating our little problem, Holmes. Is it a wild goose chase or is there something going on?" Josiah spotted the envelope and crossed to my workbench with his drink.

"At first, I found nothing." I joined him and used the tongs to pick up the letter and hold it to the light. "Except, of course, the fact that the envelope had never gone through the post. The smudged postmark is regular ink and not the kind used by the government. The address does not exist and the handwriting though supposed to be female is male in every element."

Watson and David joined us, listening intently. It was a very heady experience to have three such men hanging on my every word. I must admit to a strong need for such an audience or at least the part of it that is my lover.

"Now, the letter is very interesting. The ink is an interesting combination of dyes that so far as I know is not on the open market. That was intriguing to me and when we find the inkwell, the proof will be indisputable. The handwriting is the same as on the envelope. A masculine hand trying to disguise itself as feminine."

"I thought it might be like the Dancing Men problem that Uncle John wrote about earlier. Even though it's not characters. But still a code." David asked eagerly while Watson looked on indulgently.

"I wondered that myself, David, but so far that has not panned out. However, an interesting event occurred when I washed it in a wet solution and held it to the lamp."

"Ah, invisible ink?" Josiah asked.

"Exactly. The message was quite simple. Setting up a meeting point for the exchange of the 'merchandise'. What ever that might be." I laid the letter back down gently on the table. "We could be talking a criminal gang or even espionage. There is insufficient information for even an educated guess."

Josiah nodded slowly. "I have had an impression that we were being watched since we opened. We knew all the customers in today and no one even approached the bookcase where we found the letter."

"If we put it back and watched to see who comes for it, perhaps we could catch them." David said hesitantly, looking from Josiah to I with a hopeful look.

"Or better yet, follow the person to the meet and find out who he's meeting and what the 'merchandise' is." Watson knows me well and already knew what I was going to suggest.

"An excellent idea, John. Perhaps, Holmes will loan us some of his Irregulars to follow the suspect." Josiah took a drink and raised an eyebrow at me.

It felt very strange to hear another call John by his first name and unsettling to say the least. I watched my lover and David return to the fire while the bookseller and I stood side by side. The two made a striking picture in the firelight. Although they looked nothing alike, their spirits were similar and I mused on how very lucky I was.

"They are both blithe spirits, Holmes." Josiah's tones eerily echoed my thoughts. "David is sunshine and laughter for my rather sedate nature. I expect that John acts as your balance as David is mine."

"Yes." Speaking to another was hard but I persevered. "He is the light who shines into my dark corners. I disappoint him constantly but he has an eternally forgiving nature."

"You are not as dark a soul as you think, Holmes." Josiah sipped his whiskey and watched me with understanding eyes. "Is this problem worth pursuing? The sense of being watched is disquieting. I wish no harm to come to David."

"I understand." And I did. Thinking of Watson being hurt because of one of my cases made me shudder. "But I think we must pursue it, if only for our own peace of mind."

"Yes. I love puzzles with answers." Josiah nodded at the envelope. "Not to mention, our duty to society. Whatever these miscreants have in mind, it must be illegal or why else the charade?"

"I think we should put it back and see what happens. Is Alfred in your confidence?" I asked and wondered at his smile.

"Yes, he was there when we found it. He is privy to all our life and business. With the three of us taking turns to watch that section, I'm sure that we will spot the person who comes to retrieve the missive."

"I think one of the Irregulars could be on duty in the back of the shop. Perhaps a coded statement from the one that spots the go-between to another of you who then would go to the back and set the young man on his trail. I doubt the messenger would be very high up in the organization but where he goes should tell us what kind of 'merchandise' is involved." I thought quickly, outlining the bare bones of our attempt.

"I wish we knew if this was just a first time drop at our shop or whether this has been going on for some time. I hate to think I've been so careless as to miss an ongoing operation right under my nose." He looked angry and depressed at the same time.

"How did you come to find it in the first place?" I asked and he sighed and told me of the events of the night before, the sound in the shop, the unlocked door and David's investigation.

The young man had acted quite properly in my opinion and I viewed him approvingly. Watson had a hand on his shoulder while David spoke earnestly about something, leaning against his knees. Whatever John replied made them both laugh and I watched with a twinge while my lover tousled David's fair hair.

"They have been friends from the very beginning, Holmes. I think John's great heart took David in when he was hurt and frightened. He's always felt very fatherly towards him while I was never able to achieve that distance." Josiah smiled faintly and finished his whiskey. "It wasn't a week before I wanted to love and protect him from all hurts, even if that meant protecting him from myself. And those 'unnatural' feelings I was having."

Our eyes met and I nodded, shaken by the words that echoed my own feelings so closely. What must it be like to be able to say them out loud to another, especially one who you know will understand? I had thought my feelings wrong but now, I knew they were right and natural even though society might condemn us for them.

"A lifetime would not be long enough." I managed to say and hoped he would understand what I meant.

"Exactly. They are very precious and rare men and even though we try to protect them, I expect they will insist on being full participants in this investigation." He sighed fondly and caught David's eye.

The young man grinned at him, his whole face lighting up with joy. His resemblance to one of the old masters' angels was quite remarkable and I could see his love for Josiah painted in broad strokes of bright colors. How liberating to be able to show love so easily and yet I thought about his introduction to the physical act of sex and how he must have felt to even think of turning it into an expression of love.

"He's a very brave young man, Josiah. If we are careful, they will both provide us with that balance you spoke of earlier." I chose my words carefully but was still surprised by the open smile of my companion. Really, it lightened his dark features and made him look ten years younger. I wondered if I looked like that when someone complimented John. I'd have to ask him.

Josiah and I joined the others by the fire and went over the plan very carefully so each of us knew the precise sequence of events. It was David who came up with the idea of my coming in disguise to the shop. He seemed to have enjoyed those earlier episodes that Watson has written about. We chose a Professor Attley whom we both knew I could impersonate. He was currently studying in Berlin so need never know that he had been seen lurking in bookstores.

I put the letter back in the envelope and gave it to Josiah to replace in the book. Grey's Elegies. An interesting choice of tome to hide an invitation to thievery, for such was what I was sure the letter implied. They said goodnight and Watson followed them down to the door to be sure they got a hansom cab.

Stirring the fire, I sat on the same footstool that David had just vacated. Clasping my hands around my knees, I leaned back a little and thought about the evening. I am usually reticent when others visit unless I have something to say. Chitchat is not one of my strengths but tonight felt different somehow. I thought back over the implied words behind what Josiah and I had shared in speech.

Now, I was more sure than ever that we could be friends. Or perhaps already were. Why then the frisson whenever he called Watson, John? David's 'Uncle John' was perfectly acceptable but then he was younger by a full ten years than any of us.

"That was a most enjoyable evening, Holmes." Watson rejoined me, shutting and locking the door behind him. "Even with no problem to solve, I think we would have enjoyed a most agreeable hour or two."

He sat back down in his chair and touched my arm gently. Leaning against his knees as I had seen David do, I looked up into his sparkling blue eyes.

"It was a most enjoyable evening, John. I find that I was not so tongue tied as normal. There is something about Josiah that invites confidences."

John brushed back the lock of hair that is always falling onto my forehead. "Booksellers and doctors are very similar professions, my love. I deal with bodies and sometimes hearts while he helps with minds and also hearts. I'm glad that you found you could talk with him."

"It was more what we didn't say behind the words that we did." I said rather confusingly but he nodded and leaned forward to brush a kiss over my forehead. By stretching up, I was able to bring those tempting lips to mine. He tasted of sweet sherry and himself, an intoxicating combination.

"But something is troubling you? I can see it here." And he traced a gentle finger between my eyebrows.

"I thought it rather endearing that David called you 'Uncle John'. Especially when I think about what you told me about his horrible ordeal. But each time Josiah called you by your first name, I tightened up inside." I looked up in bewilderment.

"Ah, I thought it might be something like that. Conventional wisdom tells us that men only use last names unless there is a familial connection. The two of us have created a family so we can call each other by our first names. Friends are family of the heart. Josiah and I shared the care of young David from the beginning so we created a small family unit. He is like a brother to me and so we both use first names."

"I think I see." I considered the concept while he lovingly combed through my hair in a soothing caress. "But I'm outside that unit and so feel that it threatens our bond. Perhaps even a bit of jealousy thrown in as well because of your history together."

"Exactly. Just as I can't help feeling a bit jealous when you go and visit Mycroft." He spoke calmly and never varied his touches. "You share a great deal of history together and are blood relatives beside. I can not help but think of the old adage, 'blood is thicker than water'."

"What! You can not doubt that you are first in my heart, John?" I sat up and clasped both his hands in mine. "I love you more than life itself."

"It is the same for me, Sherlock." He kissed my hands and held them tightly. "You are the center of my life. Come and let me show you how much I love you."

He drew me up and together we climbed the stairs to his bedroom. He undressed me as if I was a present whose wrapping he couldn't bear to tear. I slid into his new bed, the one I got him for his birthday so we could make love in either room in comfort. Mrs. Hudson thought it was an heirloom from his family sent to him after his father's estate had been settled. It had arrived the week before and we had yet to make love in it. Tonight would be our christening of the new mattress in the antique oak Tudor bedstead.

My eyes never left his swift sure movements as he disrobed hastily and joined me with a sigh of contentment. It is heaven to hold him so, every inch of our skins touching from our toes to our foreheads. We made slow love with mouths and hands, turned so each could pleasure the other. When we rested after our climaxes, I mused on how decadent I would have found this position just a few months ago.

"Dearest Sherlock, come back up here so I can hold you properly." His languorous tones brought me alert from my sleepy nuzzling of his softened sex.

I rejoined him on the plump new pillows in their crisp white linen cases and shared a Watson-flavored kiss with him. Together we made quite a unique combination of exotic taste. He held me close and we fell asleep soon after.


"Josiah, do we have a copy of the Sermons of Dr. Beatty?" David's voice came to me from where I was helping one of our regulars choose between songbooks. I excused myself for a moment, my heart beating just ever so slightly faster when I recognized the code we'd agreed upon.

A nondescript figure stood by the suspect bookcase, idly pulling out texts and then putting them back. Holmes was standing at the counter in his Dr. Attley disguise. I joined David and smiled on the bewhiskered stooped old man who peered over half moon glasses.

"The Reverend George Montgomery Beatty, his sermons from 1848." The wavery voice fit his current persona perfectly.

"I'm not sure, Sir but if you could wait a moment, I can check in the back where we just got in a new shipment from the Archdiocese of Westchester. I believe that is where the good Doctor is from?"

"Quite right, young man. If you would be so kind."

I headed for the back and the waiting Wiggins. I described the man as best I could and he nodded decisively and headed out the backdoor to loiter on the corner by the alley just a few steps from the front door. I waited a few moments then went back to play out the game. My eyes contemplated the new dead bolt that graced our alley door. Holmes had rather dismissed our lock as easily opened and I'd changed it at once.

I would not take any chances with our safety. I went back out with a frown and offered to search for the sermons that 'Dr. Attley' was looking for. He declined somewhat huffily and departed with the man that we were trying not to watch. David and I exchanged a long look and I went back to our real customer.

It was Alfred's day off and so it was evening before David and I could be alone together. A note from Dr. Watson informed us that they'd been successful in tracing him to the meet. He asked us to join them at Simpson's for dinner at eight and we sent back our acceptance.

David loves dressing up and I allowed him to pick out my suit and tie. His taste is impeccable so I am content to let him dress me up like a dandy. For I don't have to look at myself, I can simply feast my eyes on him. And in his black suit and white shirt with rounded collar, with his fair hair brushed until it shines, he would be the focus of all eyes not I.

We caught a hansom cab two blocks from home and held hands all the way to the restaurant. David loves eating out and watching the other diners. He has a vivid imagination and loves making up stories about them. Our dinners are never boring when we can afford to eat out. And lately, that had been an infrequent event because of the purchase of the Duke of Hereford's collection. But our catalog had gone out that morning and hopefully, the buyers would begin calling to purchase the gems of his library.

Watson and Holmes were already in the prized corner booth when we arrived. They had ordered for us so there was no waiting when we sat down but an instant arrival of the clear soup. Prawns followed with a clear white wine that refreshed the palate. We spoke of little nothings although I could see that David was on tenterhooks with curiosity. But with the waiter constantly popping by to bring us more bread or to clear plates, we could not speak of what we wished.

Finally, the Dover sole with lemon sauce was served and our conversation abated until our hunger was sated. We chose the cheese tray for afters and finally the waiter left us to our own devices.

"It appears the situation may be more serious than we first imagined." Holmes was choosing his words carefully and spoke from behind his napkin, which dabbed his thin lips. "The courier went to a house well known in the world of diplomacy. I have sent word to a ... friend in the government to see if anything is missing."

David's eyes widened and he spoke softly. "State secrets in the hands of a foreign power?"

"It is a possibility. We will know more tomorrow or even later tonight." Watson spoke from behind his raised glass as if he was inspecting the wine and I realized that they feared lip readers.

Their backs were to the walls while we had ours to the sides. "Is there something we can do to help?"

"It may be that we will need allies in our search for the truth. Depending on what is being exchanged, we will need entry into the embassy."

"Well, if it is the German Embassy, I expect we will be called in a day or two. Our catalog went out today and Baron Hauptmann will immediately wish to buy certain of the volumes." My voice was low and my eyes remained on the cheese assortment but I saw Holmes grow still.

"It was indeed. Your assistance may prove invaluable." Holmes' voice warmed and his slight smile lightened his whole face. Watson smiled too but not at any of us.

The doctor stood and held out his hand. "Stephen Wenton. I thought you were still on the Continent?"

A pleasing tenor laughingly answered and I turned slightly to see the tall man who was warmly shaking Watson's hand. The waiter was bringing another chair for the dark haired man with a curiously mobile face and he sat down on David's other side with a charming acknowledgment of us all.

"Six months is a long time, Wenton. How did you find Berlin?" Holmes waved to the waiter for another bottle of wine and glass.

"Very interesting, Holmes. The Germanic peoples are such an energetic race. Always up and doing. But very little crime, my dear Holmes. You'd be bored stiff." He teased the detective while appraising us with shrewd eyes that belied his drawling manner.

"We were just speaking of the German Embassy. The Harbottles were saying that their catalog was delivered today. Baron Hauptmann is a bibliophile of some repute." Holmes' hand restlessly played with his napkin on the table.

Wenton's eyebrow went up and he pulled forth an envelope, which he gave to Watson with a flourish. "Then, this will not be amiss. A friend asked me to deliver it to you. It seems I've come home in time for an arousing game of hide and seek."

Holmes took the missive and opened it, pulling forth the heavy vellum note. He read swiftly before passing it to Watson. "Forgive us, Josiah. It is most rude but I believe time may be of the essence just now. Would you be willing to take young Wiggins into the shop tomorrow in case the Baron sends for you?"

"Certainly, Holmes. He's reading one of the serials and he looked rather forlorn when he had to leave it behind today." I said dryly and David grinned, his white teeth gleaming and his dimple flashing the stranger.

Wenton looked rather stunned at my partner's beauty and I hid a smile at the common reaction. The wonderful thing is of course, that David simply doesn't realize what effect he has on others. Wenton recovered himself and looked at Holmes.

"Tell my brother that I shall value his thoughts on this matter and of course, your aid if he can so spare you." Holmes gave the little half smile that so changed his dark features.

"I shall insist. It's not every day that one gets to help the great detective solve a mystery." Wenton arched an eyebrow and smiled winsomely on us all. "And find a good bookstore, all at the same time."

Watson snorted with laughter. "Stephen ... Stephen. London has been very dull without you. You must visit the Harbottles and see if they can satisfy your appetite for military armament."

"Of course I shall. Tomorrow, as soon as they open, I shall arrive to scour their shelves for gems." He smiled at us both but his eyes lingered on my companion.

"We have quite a good section on military history and the arms and armor of medieval England." David said shyly. He is determined to hold up his end of the selling. As if he had to prove himself to me. That endearing trait made me want to gather him up and love him senseless.

"Then I shall most assuredly come by in the morning. Unless the elder Mr. Holmes has other errands for me." He grinned at David.

Holmes had been writing on the back of the message Wenton had given him and now he slipped it back into the envelope and gave it to Watson for the man near him. "That should explain our plans up to this point. Tell him to be patient. We've never let him down yet."

Wenton rolled his eyes heavenward. "Patience is the one virtue he does have. Except when he wants something right now." He rose and took his farewell of us with a cheery wave and another promise to see us in the morning. When he walked away, I noticed his graceful gait. Rather like some fencers I knew.

Our party broke up after that and we saw our dinner companions into a hansom cab while we decided to walk home. That feeling of being watched was quite gone and I needed the exercise. We walked quickly in the chill winter air and I couldn't help noticing a pondering look on David's face.

"A penny for your thoughts, my love."

He started and looked sheepishly up at me. "I was just remembering certain things from dinner tonight. Holmes and Uncle John are lovers, aren't they? I can't think how I could have missed it before but it was quite plain to me by the time the waiter brought the cheese tray."

"I knew you would figure it out eventually. They know of us as well."

"Oh dear." He blushed and tucked his hand into the crook of my elbow. "Holmes isn't quite as intimidating any more. But it's still hard to picture them ... together."

"It took many years for them to acknowledge their feelings and it's only been a short while since they became lovers." I hesitated to say more.

"I think we were really lucky, Josiah." David looked up at me with a sweet smile. "I knew from the moment I woke up in your bed that you were the center of my world. I loved your voice and the gentle touch of your hands. I was sure I'd always be safe with you and I have been."

Gripping his arm tightly, I fought back tears at his words. "You are the center of my life. Without you I'd be a boring old man, nattering on about books and dry subjects. You are all my joy."

"And you are mine. I hope they realize how very precious love is." David leaned just a little into my arm but kept on walking so our appearance was of two men supporting each other over sometimes-icy sidewalks.

"They do, little one. John spoke of finding the other half of his soul. The same realization is in Holmes' eyes. Although, he can not yet articulate it." We walked on, perhaps a little more quickly since our declarations of love. I know I was thinking ahead to taking him to bed and making slow sweet love to him. Which reminded me of Wenton's evident admiration of my lover. "Your new admirer will be in tomorrow without fail."

His lilting chortle lifted my heart. "Wenton is a flirt. Did you see all the expressions on his face? How old do you think he is? As old as you?"

"A few years younger, imp. I shall let you wait on him so you can part him from as much of his money as possible." Home was a mere three blocks away and I was anxious to get there. "Should we show him the manuscript of Don ..."

The attack was sudden. One moment we were walking along, then three men rushed from the alley we were approaching and swung various sticks at us. I swept David behind me and met the first blow with my upraised forearm then the second got my walking stick in his stomach. But the third got through my guard and what felt like a lead pipe smashed against my shoulder.

"Josiah!" David's cry broke through my paralysis and I turned against the waves of pain to find him struggling with one of the ruffians. But the other two had me bracketed and I couldn't get to him. The shrill sound of a police whistle resounded through the still night air and the constable running towards us was a most welcome sight.

"Here now, what's all this?" His official tone broke our little tableau into pieces with the three hoodlums letting go and running away down the alley from which they'd come. He followed them a little ways then returned to us.

David was holding me up while I cradled my arm against my body. It felt like the joint was out of place and moving made me sick to my stomach. "Officer, would you please help me get my cousin to our shop? It's Constable Henry, isn't it?"

"Indeed it is, Mr. Harbottle. I'll just take your place while you go ahead to open the doors for us. That was a nasty whack you took, sir. We'd probably better see about getting a doctor to take a look."

A small voice piped up from behind us and I heard David exclaim. "Wiggins, you're out late. Get Dr. Watson for us, please and tell Holmes what happened?"

"Right you are, sir. Be back in a flash." And the small urchin was on his way.

Constable Henry took David's place under my right arm while my lover took my walking stick and hovered at my wounded side. We started towards the shop and the alley entrance and each step jarred the pain up a notch until I wondered if I would be sick in the street. A cold sweat broke out over my whole body and my control was at its limit when we reached the door that David had darted ahead to open.

"Please, a moment's rest before we climb the stairs, Constable Henry." I was leaning on him and I felt his nod of comprehension while David lit the workroom lamp with shaking hands.

"Would that be Dr. John Watson that you sent the young lad after?" The constable asked hesitantly. "And Mr. Sherlock Holmes?"

"Yes, we had dinner with them tonight at Simpson's. They took a hansom cab but we decided to walk since we'd been in the shop all day." David opened the door at the foot of the stairs and peered anxiously back at us.

"Feeling a little better, sir? Why don't we try to get you upstairs now."

"Yes. Thank you, Constable Henry. I don't know what we'd have done without you." I managed to grit out while the stairs wavered before me like the slope of a great mountain I wasn't sure I could climb. Only the sight of David hovering a few steps up enabled me to keep going.

We reached the top of the stairs and the young constable's strength was sorely tested getting me the distance to our bedroom. David and he got my coat off as gently as they could but I was sweating by the time I could lay down on the bed.

The constable went down to watch at the back door for the others arrival and David tried to make me comfortable. He pulled off my shoes and removed my belt, covering me with the dark brown and maroon quilt that normally hung at the foot of the bed. When I opened my eyes at the feel of his shaking fingers undoing my tie, I surprised him crying soundlessly.

"Oh, love. It's all right. We're safe now." I managed a husky whisper that brought his blue eyes with their crystalline tears to mine.

"They could have killed you." He gingerly pulled off my high stiff collar and laid it aside on the bedside table. Sitting by my side on the edge of the bed, he stroked my chest gently. "I didn't even have time to be afraid for myself because I thought they would kill you."

"But they didn't, David. Constable Henry saved us and now Dr. Watson will make my shoulder better." I could feel myself riding the waves of pain with a little less control each time. "I think I'm going to be sick, love."

I heard him shift the basin from the chest of drawers to the bedside table. A cool wet cloth on my forehead eased the pounding in my head temporarily and the need to vomit lessened. His fingers tenderly stroked my cheek and I moved my head just far enough to brush my dry lips across his salty flesh.

A knock on the door sent him hurrying to let in the doctor. "Oh, Uncle John, thank God you came. He's in dreadful pain."

"Of course, I came, David. Holmes is questioning the constable and Wiggins told us what he knew so let me take a look." Different fingers took my pulse and tested my temperature. "Well, Josiah. You look much the worse for wear. Where did he hit you?"

"It was his left shoulder. He used it to block one blow while he hit the second man with his walking stick but the third one hit his shoulder." David's shaky voice sounded from the other side of the bed and I opened my eyes in time to see Watson reach for the wounded part.

Gritting my teeth, I endured his gentle probing and swallowed hard to keep my stomach's contents in place. He murmured something under his breath and the touch deepened. I must have gone white because David's cry of alarm made him ease off.

"Josiah, I believe your shoulder is dislocated and we'll need to set it back in place. It's going to hurt. Would you like something for the pain first? We can hold off for a bit and some laudanum would take the edge off." His kind voice laid out the program in uncompromising detail.

"No. Thank you, John. Just do it quickly." I managed through the layers of pain that weighed me down.

"I'm going to ask Holmes to help, if that's all right. We'll need more than David's weight to provide a counterbalance to my pulling. But first, let's get you undressed so you'll be comfortable when you finally sleep." Watson's brisk tones made me feel better with his matter of fact recitation.

The next few moments were a trial while they gently manhandled me out of my clothes. The two times I opened my eyes, I saw a worried look on John's face and more tears on David's cheeks. He has such a tender soul and he hates causing another pain, this had to be almost hurting him as much as it did me. Watson left us briefly and David took both the pillows from the bed so I lay completely flat beneath the sheets.

"I love you, Josiah." He whispered in my ear while he blotted away the tears with an edge of the sheet. Even after crying steadily, he still looked beautiful to me.

"I love you too, imp." My voice was almost too soft for my own ears but he heard me and gentled a kiss to my temple.

Watson's voice preceded them into the room and I opened my eyes to see an almost worried look on Holmes' face. How nice. I thought muzzily. Perhaps we really are friends.

"David, if you will hold down his legs, Holmes will anchor his chest while I put the joint back into place." Watson's voice was gentle but authoritative and I felt David lay across my legs while the sharp scent of Holmes' tobacco overwhelmed my senses.

"Watson knows what he's doing, Josiah. He had to put me right once a few years back when I lost an argument with some bully boys down at the docks." Holmes spoke matter of factly while his strong hand moved my right hand up onto my chest and laid his over it, his other going to my shoulder.

"I have absolute faith in John's healing abilities, Holmes. Watch over David until I come back, please." I managed to grate out while the doctor took my left hand in his.

"Quite right, Josiah. We'll all have a nice cup of tea while we wait ..."

Watson's voice distracted me while he pulled suddenly up and out with a twist and the pain wrenched me right out of my body into a dark and bottomless pit.

End chapter six