Holiday promptfic for methylviolet10b: Wear and Tear, G

Dec 21, 2012 23:12

Title: Wear and Tear
Author: tweedisgood
Rating: G
Pairing: Holmes/Watson implied
Wordcount: 1,231

Notes: For methylviolet10b, to the prompt “holiday tweed”. Possibly not quite the holiday you had in mind. Nevertheless :-) Given a quick once-over by, appropriately enough, Mr Tweed.



Watson was bored, very bored indeed. Wiggins could have deduced that; it did not take a consulting detective. There was really no helping it: the Doctor had promised to look over my latest monograph in an attempt to render it fit for publication and so had dutifully sat scanning the manuscript all afternoon as if it were a sick child expected to develop a diagnostic rash.

“I suppose I could have it produced privately again,” I offered in an uncharacteristic surge of pity. “The private printer is positively offended by editing, for the more words, the more pages to print and the more he profits.”

“No, no. We’ll have your work properly distributed for once, we agreed on that. You are sure, however, that this is intended as a ‘Layman’s Guide’? There is a great deal of… extremely fine detail.”

“In which, as I steadfastly maintain, the Devil himself resides, dear boy.”

I distinctly heard a muttered “in more ways than one” from across the room but resolved to pretend otherwise. The scratching of his pen as he scored through whole paragraphs was less easy to ignore. After another minute or two, he put on his sunniest smile and that wheedling tone in which he attempts to get me to eat breakfast when I would far rather have another cigarette.

“Could it not be put forth in the way of an amusement? A parlour game, perhaps, or a means to while away long railway journeys?”

“No!”

“But, but see here. You maintain that a man can learn to distinguish, on the edge of another’s jacket sleeve, the various wear patterns of Donegal tweed, Harris tweed, and Welsh tweed produced by forty occupations, with allowances for age, infirmity, favoured hand and how often he changes his shirt cuffs. What you do not say is why anyone who is not Sherlock Holmes would want to.”

“The enthusiasm of supposed men of science for the gaining of knowledge has clearly been overstated.”

Watson cast down his pen with some force. He really is frightfully easy to get a rise out of.

In more ways than one; but that is a tale for another time, perhaps.

“Very well; pray, demonstrate the proper significance and application of this knowledge for the man of science, my dear Holmes. Or any other man, for that matter.”

“Go to my wardrobe and pick out some tweeds: a suit or a coat that I haven’t worn in some time.”

There had been a run of Town cases and my country wear was pushed right to the back, I knew. A minute later and he returned, smelling of mothballs and premature triumph.

“This one.”

He had chosen well, if he did but know it. A few years back, I had ordered a particularly fine, grey, hounds-tooth Norfolk jacket for our summer holiday. A holiday I had taken originally under duress turned into a case that had Watson swearing that criminals purposely waited to commit felonies until I was within range.

One can only live in hope.

I had barely worn the item since, truth to tell. As I am not overburdened with items of clothing, that is unusual for me; I abhor waste. Consequently, it bore few traces of use, few clues of the sort I used every day to size up - and butter up - prospective clients, exonerate the innocent and successfully finger the guilty. Nevertheless…

Watson draped it over one arm and examined it by eye, hand and - a dramatic touch, which both amused and grated - the aid of my glass: collar to hem, sleeve end to sleeve end, inside and out.

“I deduce that the gentleman to whom this article belongs does not take enough holidays, and spends those he does have ignoring the advice of his friend and physician to take long country walks and reduce his intake of tobacco.”

I conceded that, with a shrug that may, or may not, have constituted an apology.

“A promising beginning. Although one must admit that you have other sources to corroborate a simple observation of the lack of general wear for a sporting garment, the fact that there are no bramble snags despite the height of them that summer and the remains of a torn cigarette paper left in the breast pocket.”

He uttered a small noise and fumbled in said pocket with a frown, but was, overall, unrepentant.

“Which only proves my point, Holmes. I know you. I should glean nothing from that jacket which I could not, as you put it, corroborate from other sources: in other words, my own memory. Who goes about looking for evidence to uncover what he already knows full well? ”

Hum. I do, for one. I can hardly help it if the general public - and their appointed guardians - refuse to see what is, but for determined ignorance, perfectly obvious to the trained reasoner and must in addition be offered physical proofs. But the witness box of a court of law is not a place most people in England need be prepared for.

“There remains the merely suspected,” I suggested, dropping a small trail of crumbs.

Watson narrowed his eyes and took another, long look at the jacket. I smiled to myself, taking care to wipe off the smile before he noticed.

“Drat it, Holmes; you’re hiding something, and mocking me into the bargain!”

Perhaps there is an aftermath of a smile that somehow survives even the deftest attempts at concealment. Or perhaps it was merely… corroboration from other sources.

“My dear fellow, consider what is missing. Patterns of wear: take away some fabric and what remains tells a tale. Take an entire pair of trousers away - I had a pair to match the jacket, if you only recall, and I always hang my suits together - and what does it tell you?”

The flicker of a gas flame flared to life under the mantle of dawning comprehension.

“Then that was why you would not… not for propriety’s sake, but so that I would not see. What did they do to you, Mobbs and Peto?”

His fearful expression, three years too late, imagined knives and narrowly-missed arteries. I sighed. Well, I had all but confessed - the final indignity could scarce be avoided.

“Ah, not they: not that pair of cunning thieves and murderers. It was Colonel Jackson’s gamekeeper who let loose a volley of birdshot into my backside as I scrambled over the wall of his master’s estate. I only took a few pellets, dug them out myself in a barn with my pocket-knife before I got back and fixed myself a rudimentary dressing whilst you were at dinner. I knew you would fuss, so I kept to my chair and declined your delicately phrased invitation to partake of additional exercise of a recreational, rather than professional, nature. The trousers, sadly, did not recover. I gave them a Viking funeral in the cider orchard.”

“You could have died yourself from infection, you, you…utterly exasperating man.” The fight was quite gone out; after all, here I stood before him, hale and whole.

“It is a pity, I suppose, that we cannot adduce this true example as a footnote to add narrative colour to my text. Unless you want to appear in the guise of my concerned wife?”

Tweed is a hard-wearing material. It is also, when plied about the head, remarkably heavy.

END

sherlock holmes, fic

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