Chapter Thirty-Seven Later that day, Watson felt good enough to take a walk. His head still hurt like crazy, though he couldn't remember having anything strike it. As a matter of fact he couldn't remember anything beyond the day that he made the leap to the opposing roof-top to attack the dreadful spawn from hell he and Holmes had been chasing unsuccessfully.
"Don't feel so bad, my dear Watson." Sherlock said as they made their way up Baker Street. The snow was falling lightly, making the sidewalks and road feel like a white fairy land of sorts, which went far to improving Watson's overall mood, which had fallen tremendously when he found out what he had been doing.
The snow crunched lightly beneath their feet, making little crackling sounds. When they crossed a gutter filled with frozen water, his booted foot caused the ice to shatter, and spray water, wetting both him and Holmes, who just laughed and clapped a friendly hand to Watson's shoulder upon his apologetic look.
"No matter, Watson. A little water between friends. No matter at all."
Finally Watson stopped as they came to the fringe of Regent's Park one of the five Royal Parks of London that Queen Mary of Scots had dedicated to the citizens with a portion of her wealth won from the battles with the French and the Germains some dozen or so years ago. It lies within inner North West London, partly in the City of Westminster and partly in the London Borough of Camden.
Watson could see the tallest towers of Regent's University London behind Sherlock. Even on this coldest of days students were winding their way past them on the new one wheel contraptions that had electric Tesla motors running them, or the usual two wheeled bikes, occasionally the side saddle ones for an additional partner, as they made their way up the well paved and carefully gardened paths to the University.
A family of six waved as they passed, recognizing the two of them and he and Holmes nodded to them, as they turned off Allsop to proceed through the park to the London Zoo, which most tourists and Greater Britain residents called the Buddha of zoos. The animals all ran free in a huge range of natural habitat that was carefully maintained thanks to the generous donations of Tesla and Edison, who gave most of their wealth away to the common good of their fellow citizens.
Watson felt a warm glow in his heart towards those two men, especially Tesla as he had helped them so many times in the past, which brought him back to the incident which had propelled him into this walk in the first place. The stolen plans and the remains of the astral body from the heavens discovered, proportedly by Conan and Challenger in the British Museum, while he was away. Inwardly, at least.
"Watson?" Sherlock asked in a wary tone.
Watson snapped back to the present. He tugged at his mustache a moment, feeling its roughness pull at his upper lip a moment, then squinted into the slight breeze at Sherlock. "How did you know?"
"Ah, Watson, assuredly that would be the first question to escape your lips." He said gently. "As it would have been my own." He admitted with great humility.
Watson grew the hint of a smile. This newer Sherlock was so much like his long lost friend, and yet so much alike in many ways, that sometimes he forgot the greater warmth of this one. He would have a hard time dealing with the return of James....
"That's it!" He stuttered to himself, then grabbed Sherlock by his right arm so fast that Holmes almost jumped.
"Sorry, old man!" Watson hastily apologized. "Let's keep walking."
"The zoo or the university?"
"Neither. I would prefer my next words to have as few ears upon them as possible."
Sherlock nodded and instead of going along one of the major paths into the University or the Zoo, instead they went along one of the lesser paths that paralleled Allsop and Regent Park, Outer Circle, a pleasant enough horse path, and one of the few left intact in London these days. Which meant the had to step carefully if they didn't want to quite literally step into trouble, Watson mused with the hint of a smile upon his lips.
"You're smiling, Watson. And rightly so. It's a splendid day for a walk."
"Yes, but we're not closer to solving this case than before." Watson replied darkly, his gay mood vanishing at the thought.
"Nonsense, Watson. We are close to solving it."
"Half full, half empty, hey, old man?" Watson replied tartly.
Sherlock stopped and eyed his friend sternly. "If I hear you put yourself down one more time, I shall be forced to use rigorous means to reestablish your sanity of purpose."
Watson burst into laughter.
Sherlock gave him a blank look.
Watson stopped, taking a deep breath, then explained. "For the first time in a long time you reminded me totally of my long lost friend. And I must say, it was truly refreshing."
Sherlock gave Watson a tender look, then proceeded walking again.
"So what was on your mind that weighed so heavily upon you, and I won't accept this mummy nonsense one bit. It is something we are dealing with and will continue to deal with until we have resolved this issue once and for all."
"I saw James." Watson exploded, his face turning a bright red from the exertion of saying it.
Sherlock turned to look at his face.
"John, I've never seen you so red as this before, except on Christmas when you had one too many of Mrs. Hudson's specials."
Watson grinned, then his face lapsed into its more serious demeanor once more. "I truly did."
Sherlock gave Watson the grace of accepting his words with the gravity they were given.
"When I lost consciousness, or as you told me I had. I found myself in this quite literal fairy land, where everything was magical and beautiful. I thought for sure I had died and gone to heaven. And you know that leap could very well have been my death."
Sherlock gave Watson a pained look, but said nothing.
"I followed this path through these incredibly wondrous woods, with spring like blossoms on ever shrug and bush about me. I looked down, but I couldn't see my feet and yet I was moving...no, I was gliding along the path."
"That's odd." Sherlock said, but no more.
"Yes. Very. And then the strangest of things happened, a silver cord seized me by my..." He blushed an even deeper red. "By my..."
Sherlock raised an eyebrow.
"Well, by my middle and slung me swiftly along the path, to reveal a great crystalline castle build of thee most wonderful crystals I have ever seen. They were bright and sparkly, casting rainbows everywhere."
"And?" Sherlock gently urged.
"James met me."
Sherlock stood stock still. No longer walking. "Moriarity?"
"Indeed. And this wasn't like the dreams I normally have...of him, or you." Watson hurriedly went on. "But it seemed real. Utterly real. Bollocks, Holmes, he was really there. He even touched me and I felt the warmth of his hand upon my shoulder."
Watson began to choke up, his voice becoming thick with emotion, his eyes watering up. He rubbed at his eyes, then pulled out a handkerchief and blew into it.
Sherlock said nothing, patiently waiting for his friend and partner to complete his tale.
"Then." Watson went on, after blowing once more and dabbing at his eyes. "He said it wasn't my time...or his!"
Sherlock's eyebrows rose together at those words.