Three: Farewell, Brittania!
“So, you’re really leaving then?” Molly’s smile was so fragile a breeze would shatter it. She clutched her clipboard with white knuckles and her eyes shone wetly as she gazed at Sherlock. It really was painful to watch.
“Yes, Molly. In fact, Sherlock has something he’d like to say to you.” John pushed heavily against Sherlock’s shoulder.
Sherlock’s head snapped up, as though John had woken him from a trance. “Hm? What? Oh, yes. Right. Thank you, Molly. For your...help. With the...Thank you.”
Molly’s thin veneer was cracking as she stared at Sherlock uncertainly, her smile stretching into what looked frighteningly like a death rictus.
“Sherlock means thank you for your reccomendation to Dr. Collet, Molly. It helped him get invited to the facility.”
“The Body Farm, yesss.” Sherlock still grinned manically at the very mention of U. Tennessee’s unique program.
“Oh. That. I just...they asked and, I thought...”
Sherlock looked at John, imploring. John waved his hand in a “go on” gesture. Sherlock furrowed his eyebrows in a silent “do I have to?” John nodded, smirking.
Sherlock sighed heavily and stepped close to Molly. With obvious reluctance, he wrapped his arms around her in an awkward but forceful hug. She squeaked, quite literally, and her own arms tentatively wrapped around his torso, patting gently at his back. She smiled a genuine smile then, and tilted her head to rest against Sherlock’s chest. If she’d been a cat she would have purred.
Sherlock broke away abruptly and spun to face John, his eyebrow cocked in a tacit there, you happy? John smiled.
“Um.” Molly fumbled. “You’re...you’re welcome. Really.”
“Good!” Sherlock clapped his hands together and rubbed them eagerly. “Shall we go, John? I really can’t wait to see Anderson’s face when I give him the news!”
“You, an ocean away for an entire month? I’m fairly sure he’ll throw a parade.”
“A month?!” Lestrade’s face was white, tinged purple. Honestly, John really should be a better man than this, but he was fighting back a giggle at the sight of an apoplectic DI.
“You can’t be gone for a month! What if I need you?”
“Oh, nonsense Lestrade. The criminal classes of London are a joke these days. I’m sure even you lot can handle what little action there is this time of year.”
“Sherlock, crime does not take holidays!”
“Well, apparently, I do.”
John decided then that he really did have to intervene. If only to keep Lestrade from a heart attack. “It is only a month, Detective Inspector. And he’ll have his mobile and his computer. If you really need him, it’s not like you can’t get in touch.”
Lestrade glared at him. “Why are you doing this John? He never took holidays before you came along.”
John shrugged. “If you had to live with him, you’d need a holiday too.”
Sherlock glared at him. John met his gaze and held it, until the lanky detective had to look away and shrug.
“Is it true? The sociopath is leaving?” Anderson poked his head into Lestrade’s office. “Is it permanent?” There was no missing the eagerness in his voice.
Sherlock turned his wolfish smile to the forensic detective. “Sorry, Anderson, but it’s temporary. John has managed to get us invited to the University of Tennessee. Knoxville” His voice dripped with smugness, and Anderson’s face blanched.
“You mean the place where they take the bodies and...”
Sherlock’s smile widened, and his eyes gleamed.
“Good Lord.” Anderson breathed. “Only you would consider that place a holiday.”
Sherlock whirled around on Lestrade, his coat swirling around his legs like something out of a Victorian romance. “Lestrade, just think of all I can learn there! All those bodies, all those conditions. Time, environmental factors, insect activity! All those little things that murderers think can hide the evidence, and I’ll be able to see right through them. Come on, this is invaluable!”
Lestrade sighed, his fingers rubbing hard at his forehead. “Well, I don’t suppose I can stop you.”
“The tickets are paid for. I’ve taken some leave from the surgery. There’s really no turning back now.” John confirmed.
“Where will you be staying? A hotel is pricey for a month’s stay. You’re not holing up in one of the dorms are you?”
John smiled faintly. “No, no the University has on-campus housing. They’ve arranged to give us a flat--”
“Apartment.” Sherlock corrected automatically.
“...an apartment, while we’re there.”
“When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow morning.” Sherlock all but crowed. “Oh I can’t wait! It’s like Christmas. Every Christmas. All at once!”
“You are a sick, sick man.” Anderson sneered.
Sherlock ignored him, instead grabbing John’s arm and dragging him out of the DI’s office with a cry of, “Come on, John! We need research!”
John gaped, mouth practically unhinging itself, at the state of their flat.
“Sh-Sherlock?” He stammered.
“Yes, John.” Sherlock’s head popped up from behind the arm of the sofa. His hair was dishevelled, his eyes fever-bright, and his lips were stretched in a truly horrifying cheshire grin.
“Why is every flat surface, and I’m including the floor in that, covered in magazines?”
Sherlock’s grin, impossibly, grew wider. “American magazines, John! I’m learning how to be an American!”
John’s brain went blank for a moment, and he could only sputter, “What...Wh--Why? We’re going for a visit, we’re not moving there!”
Sherlock quirked an eyebrow at him, knowingly superior. “John, you didn’t go off to fight in Afghanistan without learning at least some of the language, did you?”
“Well, no. I mean, Pashto, a bit of Dari to get by. But Sherlock, they speak English over there.”
Sherlock scoffed. “Hardly. Listen to this.” And he opened to a page in something called Wire Tap. He read aloud in a strange, flat voice, and John realized to his horror that Sherlock was attempting to imitate an American accent.
“Think your calls are safe? Think again. That flashy new headset you’ve got suction-cupped to your face may actually be one of the least secure devices on the market. And if that’s not enough, Uncle Sam seems determined to get a look at your memory. Every text, pic or stupid chain message you send could be re-routed to a government database near you.”
John just stared for a moment. “That...was truly horrifying.” He managed.
“I know, isn’t it? You might as well take the English language and beat it with a hammer.”
“No, not the article, you git! Your voice! Never do that again!”
Sherlock looked wounded. “Was it that bad? I admit I haven’t studied the inflections as much as I’d like. American tel-TV is just so...tedius.”
“Oh, God, what have I done?” John muttered.
“I must be an absolute idiot, letting you loose on an unsuspecting foreign country. There’ll be another war.”
“Oh I doubt it, America is already struggling on at least two fronts and it would be monumentally stupid to start yet another conflict with a current ally.”
“No, not--” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Different war, Sherlock.”
The detective looked blank. Dear lord it was the solar system all over again. “Sherlock, a few hundred years back there was a war between America and England. That’s how America happened. It’s something of a big deal over there, I understand.”
“Really? There’s no mention of it in these magazines.”
John let out a breath. “I’m honestly surprised. Those damn marines couldn’t shut up about it in Afghanistan.”
“So...it’s something an American would know a great deal about?”
“I guess so. At least they’d be pretty familiar with it.”
John frowned. “I don’t know much actually. The American War for Independence. Happened...late eighteenth century I think. Something about tea...”
“No, John, they prefer coffee over there.”
John cleared his throat. “Yes, well. I’m sure Tony can tell you everything you want to know. Or if he can’t I’m sure Dr. Collet can fill in the gaps.”
“John...John...John...” Sherlock’s rasping stage whisper was punctuated by a soft yet persistant knocking on John’s door.
John reluctantly relinquished his hold on sleep. “Sherlock?” He mumbled. He couldn’t seem to find his hands. Oh, there they were. Stupid blanket had them.
“Oh, good, you’re awake. Can I come in?”
“To my room?!” Oh, ow. Much, much too early for shouting. How early was it?
“Yes. Obviously. Are you decent.”
“Sherlock, it’s three in the morning. No one is decent at this hour. I am homicidal at this hour.”
There was a very lengthy silence on the other side of the door.
“Hm? Oh, sorry. I was just trying to imagine if you’d give me any trouble solving your crime. If you commited one, that is.”
“You’re already in prison, John. Sorry.”
“Too right I am.” John muttered. “I don’t supposed if I ignore you you’ll go away?”
“And if I tell you to go away?”
He groaned. “Then come on in, you absolute madman.”
Sherlock all but hurled the door open, glanced disinterestedly about the sparsely furnished and even more sparsely decorated bedroom and threw himself onto the foot of the bed. He was fully clothed, but they weren’t the clothes he was wearing the night before. Ah, so he’d decided against sleeping tonight. Lovely.
“Here.” He said, handing John a piece of paper. It glowed spectrally in the weak light coming in through the window. “Quiz me.”
John blinked blearily at the paper. The letters, hard to distinguish in the very poor light, seemed to swim in front of his eyes. Resigned, he flicked on the lamp by his bed and stared at the words until they finally settled down, like they were supposed to.
“Sherlock, what is this?”
“Parlance. Go on, quiz me.”
John shook his head and gave reading another go. “Uh...lift.”
“Elevator. Too easy, next.”
“Cookie, Dutch origin I believe. Continue.”
“Sherlock do we have to do this?”
“Fine, fine. Lorry.”
They went on like that, honestly for hours, until the sun came up and John reluctantly crawled out of bed and got dressed, Sherlock pouring over the list as though he had exams the next day.
“Tests.” Sherlock said absently. How did he bloody do that?
By the time they got to the airport, John had worked himself into a foul mood. He repeatedly checked his pocket for his passport and constantly checked and re-checked the list he’d printed out detailing the frankly absurd security restrictions imposed by the American airports. Jesus, were they honestly expecting some unhinged zealot to fly in from Heathrow? He glanced at Sherlock who was tapping his fingers together in front of his lips, his eyes gleaming with a terrifying light.
Okay, point U.S.