Joan had only been drunk once in her life. She had just turned twenty-one and her girlfriends had taken her out to celebrate. She remembered her first glass of beer. She remembered her first glass of wine. The moment the shots were introduced, that's when everything became fuzzy. She came to hours later, asleep in her own bed, wearing different clothing from the night before.
Though she quietly confirmed she hadn't been raped or assaulted, the clear fact she couldn't recall any of the events after scared her. Not even her friends, the ones who were supposed to stay sober for her sake, could tell her what happened. After that, Joan vowed she would never drink so excessively again. It was a promise that was easy to keep, especially now as a sober companion, she needed to keep herself clean for her clients' sake. For Sherlock's.
So when she awoke one morning to find herself in a strange bed with no clue how she got there, she nearly panicked.
Nearly panicked. Sherlock trained her on this, on the possibility if she had gotten kidnapped. He voiced how he hoped she would never have to use such skills, but better safe than sorry and all that.
First things first: don't panic. Panicking won't help her, it'll only help increase the chances of hyperventilating and fainting. Keep cool, keep calm.
Secondly, assess where she was, and go from there. Was she safe? Was she capable of moving, of leaving?
Joan's hands and feet weren't tied. Her mouth was unobstructed, her eyes free. Where she was exactly... she didn't know.
Her first thought she must've broken into a museum the night before and fell asleep in one of its mock-up Victorian historical scenes. The whole room looked like it stepped out of a romance novel. Besides the bed that smelled faintly of goose feathers, everything in the room was at least a hundred years old. The chairs, the lanterns, the table, the designs and patterns on the wall and fabrics. It was her brother who was the historian, not Joan. He would know better. All that was missing from this room was a wax figurine of Queen Victoria.
Joan got up and moved away from the bed, happy to see she was still clothed. She was in her pajamas, but clothed. No shoes, though. No cell phone either.
There were two windows on the far wall, the drapes half closed, allowing some sunlight to stream in. She decided to go towards it, to see where she was and what to do next.
She stopped in her tracks when the door to the room suddenly opened. A man, as tall as she was, stepped in. He was dressed in a rumpled white shirt, dark pants with suspenders that hung uselessly to his side, and in his hands he held a tray with a tea kettle and sandwiches. He was clean shaven, and yet still looked rather dirty.
"Ah good, you're awake," he said in an English accent. He crossed the room to a table that sit in the middle and placed the tea tray down. "I apologise, do you speak English? I'm afraid my Cantonese is rather rusty."
"I... yes, I speak English."
The man's eyebrows rose slightly in surprise. "American. Wasn't expecting that. Please, miss, do sit down."
Joan wondered if she had fallen into a Jane Austen novel. Everything seemed too real, too elaborate to be a dream or hallucination. "Where am I?" She asked.
"You're in my home," the man said. "My bedroom, specifically."
Joan stiffened. "Why am I in your bedroom?"
"That was what I was wondering. I found you here, early this morning. Over there, actually."
He pointed to a spot on the floor only a few feet away.
"So I picked you up and put you in my bed. Don't be alarmed, I kept my hands to myself."
He wiggled his fingers to emphasize. Joan internally shuddered. "Right. I should probably be going. Thank you for giving me your bed."
"Wait, just wait," the man said, stepping in front of her. "I have so many questions."
"I'll answer them another time. I just want to go home."
When he didn't move, Joan curled her hand into a fist, readying herself to fight. The man noticed this, and Joan thought he would at least back away, recognizing the threat, but no. He merely jaunted his chin up, practically daring her to follow through.
Don't say she didn't warn him.
Joan struck out, using her other hand to catch him in surprise. The man anticipated this, blocked her attack, and pushed forward, forcing her back.
Joan was not an experienced fighter, but she was a fast learner and her body quickly fell into the rhythm of exchanging blows. She punched, she kicked, she tried to force the man back, to make him move out of her way.
The man was clearly more experienced than her at this. He blocked every punch, ducked every swipe. He didn't hit back, kept his movements offensive. Joan was sure if he decided to fight back for real, she would be on the ground in a second. He was toying with her, studying her.
"What's going on here?" Another man had entered the room. This man was taller, leaner in body and face, and had a mustache that was too thin for his lip. He was dressed more sharply than the smaller man, with a suit, tie, and shined black shoes. He had a cane in his hand, with a limp to match.
The arrival of the new voice was exactly what Joan needed. The short man turned, dropping his guard long enough for Joan to clock him across the jaw. The move was meant to stun, and the man stumbled away with a little groan.
Joan ran for the door.
"Watson!" The small man cried out. "Don't let her leave!"
Who the hell was the tiny guy screaming at? Joan didn't care.
Mustache man, surprisingly, stepped out of the way. "Take care, miss," he said, letting her pass. "There are boots at the bottom of the staircase, be sure to use those."
Joan fled out of the room. The stairs were to her right. The rest of the house looked as rich as the bed room, elaborately decorated and colorful. Joan ran down the stairs, wincing as her breasts bounced heavily against her chest. Like mustache man said, there were untied lace work boots at the bottom of the stairs.
From behind she could hear the men's conversation echoing down.
"Why did you let her leave?"
"Because she looked frightened!"
"Bring her back, she's- She has to come back!"
Joan shoved her feet into the boots. They were big on her. She looped the laces as quickly as she could, then shoved forward to the front door. She wretched it opened.
Then closed it a scant second later.
As crazed as the man up the stairs was, there was no way he could fake that.
Joan opened the door again, this time only just an inch. She peered through the crack to the outside world. It was as if she stepped onto a movie set. People, women and men, walked by in full Victorian clothing. Some men even wore top hats, while the women held tiny, dainty umbrellas in their hands. There were buggies, horses, poorly paved streets, and the distinct smell of armpit.
She closed the door. She backed away.
"Madam," the weird little man said from behind. Joan heard him calmly walk down the steps as she lowered herself to sit down. "May I ask you your name?"
"Joan," she said. She was not panicking. She was too well trained for that. "Watson."
She heard mustache man breathed a small, "What...?"
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Watson," said the little man. "I am Sherlock Holmes."
Joan refused to take off the boots. No matter how stunned she felt, she was not going to lose her one and only pair of shoes should she felt the urge to run again. Holmes didn't fight her on it.
He lead her back up the stairs, this time to the library instead of the bedroom. Mustache man brought in the tea tray. As amused as he was before, he wasn't so much now. His eyes were suspicious, throwing secret looks to Holmes as he poured the tea.
"Let me guess," Joan said. "You're Watson."
Mustache man was mildly impressed. "Yes, I am. John Watson."
"Of course," said Joan. "Of course, John Watson. And Mr. Sherlock Holmes. It's very nice to meet the both of you."
The emphasis had the two men share a look. Holmes' was more amused than Watson. "And Miss Watson, do you remember how you came about my home?"
"No, I don't. But I suppose that does not matter as this is a dream."
"A dream? You believe yourself to be asleep?"
"Of course. How else would I rationalize..." she gestured with her hand to the flourished room. "...all of this?"
Homles was about to say something when Watson cut in. "What are the symptoms of dreams," he said. "If you believe you are in one, how do you prove it?"
Her own dream was rationalizing with her. Okay. "You can't read in dreams. Turning on and off lights for some odd reason does not work. Numbers are scrambled-"
The moment Joan said You can't read in dreams, Watson immediately walked to the nearest shelf. He grabbed a random book, opened it to the middle, and placed it in front of her. "Please," he said. "Read."
Joan looked down. She swallowed.
Hamamelis virginiana was introduced into English gardens by Peter Collinson, who maintained correspondence with plant hunters in the American colonies-
She turned away, cupping a hand to her mouth. "Oh my god."
"You're awake, Miss Watson. This is not a dream. You're here now."
Joan was trained to keep her cool when she became a doctor, trained even more when she became a sober companion. She was used to having her patients and clients scream at her, spit at her, yell racist slurs at her. Realizing she had traveled to a another dimension entirely was something else.
"I'm okay..." she said the moment Watson took hold of her wrist to check the beating of her heart.
He blinked at her. "You're ...what?
Oh, right. Different time era, different words. "I'm... alright," Joan corrected herself. "I'll be... fine."
She pulled her wrist out of his hand. She breathed in deeply, calming her racing heart. She was going to get through this. And when she got back to her home, to her Sherlock, she was going to have one hell of a story to tell.
She reached out, grabbed a sandwich and shoved it into her mouth. Watson was a little surprised by her un-ladylike behavior but did not comment on it. Holmes appeared amused. Joan chewed the sandwich, swallowing it thickly, followed by a swing of tea. It was good.
"Are you a doctor?" Holmes asked slyly.
"I'm impressed," said Watson. "I didn't know they allowed women to be doctors in America. Or... China? Japan?"
"America," Joan said. What year was it? Did the Civil war already happen? It was an alternate universe, for all she knew the Civil War never happened and people flew on space ships.
Oh god, she knew what a spaceship was. She knew how airplanes fly. She had medical knowledge that was a hundred years in advance. Oh god.
"Don't panic," Holmes said, tapping Joan sharply on her knuckle. "It won't you do any good. Instead, embrace everything. Breath in, breath out, and tell me..."
He pulled out Joan's phone from his robe pocket.
"What the hell is this thing?"
Great. The man told her not to panic and then he sprung this on her. "It's my phone."
She took a sip of tea.
"Ah. What's a phone?"
"It's a device in which to contact people."
"Yes, and how...?"
He was getting agitated. If Joan didn't cut the bullshit soon, he was going to start yelling. She knew he would. Watson was busy staring at Joan's phone. Holmes had not pressed any of the buttons and it thankfully stayed dark, but the phone cover was of Garfield.
Might as well go all the way.
"That is my phone. It has the ability to communicate over distances with other people who also have phones. And when I mean long distances, I'm talking about over oceans and continents. How is this done? Through radio waves. You see, when we speak our voices create waves and a machine takes those waves and converts them into electromagnetism. We've known about this for many years now an it's actually common knowledge. I'm from the year 2014. Yes, I'm from the twenty-first century. There are flying machines known as airplanes that can carry people across oceans in a matter of hours. If you have a piece of paper, I can totally do a Planet of the Apes for you and build a paper airplane. A man has been on the moon. The president of the United States is a black man. Cheese comes in a can. My phone is also a dictionary, a camera, an address book, and has the ability to hold over fifty thousand pages worth of information on it. But most of it are cat videos and Sherlock's random text messages. Yes, I said Sherlock. I have a Sherlock. He's incredible and brilliant but also unpredictable and he never let's me sleep in. If you hand my phone over, I can show you a picture of him and won't that totally blow your minds?"
Joan took a breath, then a sip of tea.
Watson was gaping at her.
Holmes stared at her phone, his eyebrows pinching together, and said, "Am I handsome?"