Five Things Watson Missed about Holmes When He Thought that Holmes was Dead

1) The easy familiarity with which they came and went to and from and within their shared rooms.  He had it with Mary of course, and it was a pleasant security as well, but different when contracted through matrimony and all that that entailed. With Mary he shared intimacy because they had agreed to.  With Holmes it had happened all by itself—despite their intrinsic natures, not because of them—like the two of them combined had given birth to something entirely new and miraculous.

Like the blind fool Holmes had tried to school him to grow beyond, Watson hadn't noticed it until it was gone.

The loss of it he felt so keenly that he knew he could never bring himself to risk sprouting that kind of intimacy with another man again.

He was not sure which was the greater loss, his past or his potential future.

2) The scent of the strong shag warmed in the bowl of the oily clay. They say that scent is the strongest stimulus of memory, and Watson knows that that is true as there were times when he caught a whiff of the same blend, and his heart leapt in joy merely to crash down when he turned to find a complete stranger familiar only in the same abysmal palate for foul tobaccos and impressive constitution to tolerate the same.

retrospect, he wonders if any of those strangers were related to the old bookseller, but he tells himself that even Holmes could never be that callous.

3) Those moments when Holmes uncoiled and lay open and vulnerable just for him. Watson cannot remember whole interludes now, only fragments as a peek through a stereoscope—the quiver of a hand as it stroked his chest; the expression of rapt abandon as Holmes waged war with opposing needs to control and to climax, unsure on which side his allegiance lay; the humble odour rising from the curls of Holmes's hair that intoxicated in a way no brandy ever could; the nonsensical things Holmes whispered in those moments when even the greatest men and minds become little more than slavish agents of their glands.

Even before Meiringen Watson had resigned himself that these interludes were now a part of their past.  That was not the loss that made him ache.  The keenest pain was that no one but him would ever know, and if it lived on in his head alone, how was that any different from a dream or a fantasy...or the baseless ravings of a madman, at that?

Worse still, if the remnants should fade further, or die with him, who was to say it ever happened at all? 

There was not nearly enough tenderness and beauty in this world to dispose of any such experiences so cavalierly. 

He wished he could tell Mary and validate the memories through her, for she was his best friend then.   But he wouldn't, for she had genteelly declined to see what he thinks must have been—what must be—evident to all of greater London, and he would never force her against her will.  That is not what best friends do. 

Now that Holmes is back he vows that he will remember every touch, every word, every movement that they make and he will play it over and over in his head until it is more real than any casual conversation he should have in the street.

If one day that should make him seem the madman, so be it.  Watson has often thought it is the mad who have the happier role in life.

4) Mendelssohn played exquisitely for an audience of one as, outside their walls, London chugged on its weary way.

5) The excitement. Sometimes Watson feared he would die of boredom between the daily barrage of patients outside his home and the mundane banality within. Then he remembered that their cases took root not in Holmes himself, but existed all around them only waiting to be uncovered for the truth of what they were.  An image of Holmes would drop unbidden into his mind and coalesce into a lecture until his ears would virtually ring with the old amiable chastisement for giving up so easily and once again failing to observe.   

It would never do to dishonour Holmes's methods that way—not with him hovering so insistent and clear in his mind.  So instead of dwelling on what he no longer had, Watson would settle himself with pen and paper and begin to write. 

He shows those recounts to Holmes now, and although the predictable critique from Holmes's tongue is harsh because he cannot help but be that way, the language from Holmes's body is not because when it is just the two of them he cannot help that either.   With an overflowing heart, Watson begins to pen what will become the "Adventure of the Empty House", and he realises that the excitement is back again.