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The Adventures of a Single Girl in London (Plus a Consulting Detective)

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Chapter One

January 17, 2015

For a little while just now I lived in a cottage in Sussex. I thought it was going to be relaxing, like a permanent spa day. Turns out? COTTAGES IN SUSSEX DON’T COME WITH MASSEUSES AND INCENSE AND CUCUMBER WATER. I even apparently had to bring my own New Age music with me if I wanted it. Appalling!

So, after a bit of being bored out of my mind, I thought to myself, J, it’s time for some adventure. You know where you should go? You should go back to London.

I decided to be impulsive about it, because why not? What’s the fun in having an adventure in London if it doesn’t start with you showing up on a random friend’s doorstep in London with a suitcase stuffed full of jogging bottoms and Jaffa Cakes. (I have a Jaffa Cake problem, okay? I don’t travel without them. DON’T JUDGE ME.)

“Hello,” I said, when my friend answered the door. (Okay, his landlady answered the door because my friend had put the doorbell in the oven because he hates doorbells and actually I agree with him and I’m liking living in a place that basically has a 24/7 concierge. But eventually my friend opened his flat door.) “Hello,” I said. “Have you got any cucumber water?”

“Why is your suitcase full of Jaffa Cakes?” said Shezza. He does things like that, looks at your suitcase and knows what’s in it.

“Do you have any Jaffa Cakes here?” I asked.

Shezza seemed to consider the question. “No,” he said, finally. “But I do have a fresh sample of taste buds.”

(Don’t worry, you lot: Shezza’s not a murderer.)

I said, “That’s why my suitcase is full of Jaffa Cakes. Can I crash here for a bit?”

Shezza said, “What happened in Sussex?”

I said, “They don’t have cucumber water.”

He said, “Will you keep the kitchen stocked with Jaffa Cakes?”

I said, “Yes, but I’m not making you tea all the time.”

He said, “That’s fine, I’ve mostly switched over to coffee anyway.”

And that’s how I ended up living here.


“You’re not living here,” said Sherlock and looked over at Janine, who was sitting on the sofa, eating one of her perpetual Jaffa Cakes and flipping through a tedious tabloid.

“No. Not permanently,” she agreed, without looking up. “Just until you stop being lonely.”

“Don’t pretend you’re here for me,” sniffed Sherlock. “Just because you didn’t understand that cottages don’t come equipped with sexy pool boys.”

“I would have settled for any pool boy,” said Janine, and flashed a smile at him.

“We need to work on your standards, Janine.”

“I know. You’re going to be a great wingman.”

“Don’t call me Shezza,” said Sherlock.

“I don’t.”

“Yes, you do. On your blog.”

“Oh, that.” Janine smiled at him again. Janine was always smiling. Sherlock found it infuriating. “That’s your blogonym.”

“That’s not a word.”

“I thought you’d prefer it to ‘Sherl.’ Since ‘Sherl’ is our special pet name.” There was that smile again.

“I need to find you a pool boy so you’ll move in with him and leave my flat in peace.”

“You’d weep over the lack of Jaffa Cakes in your kitchen.”

“I am capable of buying my own Jaffa Cakes.”

“No, you are evidently not. Anyway, I’m staying here until you find a pool boy, so that I can be sure you won’t get lonely and do something mad like shoot another powerful newspaperman.”

“I had reasons for that,” said Sherlock.

“Yeah. Mad, lonely reasons. But we won’t discuss the elephant in the room. Speaking of, did you like the blog?”

“Why do all my flatmates suffer the delusion that they know how to write?”

“You tell me, Sherlock,” said Janine. “Since you choose us.”

Sherlock looked at Janine’s blog entry and said, “Yes. I do, don’t I?”

And then he left a comment on the blog.

You’re not living here. –Shezza


January 24, 2015

Day 1 of Operation Pool Boy

We call it that, but actually I don’t want a pool boy. I want Prince Harry. Shezza says I wouldn’t like Prince Harry because he weeps during sex and I like men who are more dominant in bed. I don’t believe him about Prince Harry. (I’m keeping mum on the rest of it.)

Since Shezza refuses to go out and get me Prince Harry, I decided we may as well start where all these things start: at a pub. Shezza got me a very precise amount of beer—not a pint, some special measurement he’d calculated just for me—and said that I was to drink it all in not more than fifteen minutes.

I said, “Are you trying to get me drunk?”

Shezza said, “Yes.”

This is how our conversations go a lot of the time.

I have no objection to getting drunk, so I started in on my beer-that-wasn’t-a-pint while Shezza scanned the room.

“Any likely victims?” I asked.

“Everyone in this room would be tremendously simple to kill,” said Shezza.

“Right,” I said, “but what about shag?”

“Much harder. That’s why you’re meant to be drinking that beer. If you’re drunk, the odds of someone being acceptable to you will increase.”

“You understand I can’t be drunk all the time, right?” I said. “Eventually I’m going to have to be sober, and if I can’t stand my husband, what good will it do me to be married to him?”

“You’ll be fine,” said Shezza. “You’d be amazed the things that married people are able to forgive.”


Sherlock was supposed to be pretending to be a 73-year-old with seven cats, four parakeets, and three goldfish on a dating Internet forum for a client. But the gold diggers on the forum were so far boring and not the particular person he was trying to smoke out, so Sherlock furtively clicked over to Janine’s blog.

And then he stood and took his laptop and marched into the kitchen, where Janine was doing the crossword.

“What is this?” he demanded.

“My computer,” said Janine, without interest. “You know, the one you’re not supposed to be on? Probably why you’re confused as to what it is.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and said, “This,” and pointed to the screen.

Janine looked at it and brightened. “Oh, yeah. I changed the theme. The other one was too pink. Do you like it?”

“This is only half the story.”

“Nope. I didn’t like the pink. Whole story. Don’t try to deduce anything more out of that one.”

“The entry. You’ve only told half the story.”

“I thought it had come to a good stopping point.”

“There’s nothing in there about how I introduced you to that nice man with the ginger hair.”

“He never rang me.”

“Not my fault. I found you the most eligible candidate in that pub. What if people are trying to keep score at home? They won’t know that I found you someone.”

“Because you didn’t, really.”

“Yes, I did,” Sherlock insisted. “You chatted him up all night. You liked him.”

“Yeah, and then he didn’t bloody call me.”

“Not my fault. Once he walked out of the pub, other variables came into play. He might have been hit by a lorry. In fact, I’m going to ring Molly and see if—”

“You are not calling morgues just to try to keep a perfect record on my men.”

“And you didn’t mention in here how I deduced that the couple behind us was about to get engaged after knowing each other only two weeks, and then they did.”

“Why would I have mentioned that? It didn’t have anything to do with me. That’s what my blog is about.”

“John always told people the whole story. He never cut it off in the middle like this.” Sherlock said it and was surprised at himself but refused to let it show. But they never mentioned John by name. Janine always referred to him as the elephant in the room. Sherlock never referred to him at all. He refused to acknowledge that it was the first time John’s name had crossed his lips in weeks.

Janine just said, “I am not John Watson. His blog was about you.”


January 29, 2015

Day 6 of Operation Rich Barrister

Shezza says I didn’t tell you lot the full story last time. Fine. Here’s the full story: Shezza found me a fit ginger (he thinks ginger’s my type because of Prince Harry; he’s missing the obvious deduction that “royalty” is my type). Anyway, I had a really nice conversation with the fit ginger and gave him my number and then he never rang me.

Men, right?

Shezza has the following explanations for why Fit Ginger hasn’t called me:

• Fit Ginger has been hit by a lorry. If you run a morgue and a fit ginger has come in, please let me know in the comments.
• Fit Ginger has lost his mobile. I say this indicates carelessness and Shezza shouldn’t have found him to be a suitable candidate if he’s careless. When I pointed that out, Shezza amended the scenario to:
• Fit Ginger’s mobile has been stolen. If you stole the mobile of a fit ginger, feel free to give me a call. I’m in his mobile under “Sexy Brunette.”
• Fit Ginger has been kidnapped. In which case, if you know a fit ginger who’s missing, let me know, because I know a detective who can find him.

Given the failure of day 1 of the operation, we decided to give it another go last night. We chose a different pub, because Shezza said that the last pub I chose was full of “degenerates and wastrels.”

When he said that, I said, “And here I thought it was just full of average Londoners.”

Shezza said, “Exactly.”

So I let him choose last night’s pub. Of course he chose the poshest place you can pick short of a private club. Everyone there was at least three decades older than us and they were all drinking sherry.

“Seriously?” I said to him.

“Go up to the bar and order a sherry and tell the man whose coat has a bright purple lining that you like cricket,” he said.

“I don’t like cricket,” I pointed out, because I thought that was probably a relevant point.

“Why is that relevant?” said Shezza. “At some point in the near future, we’re going to have a discussion about how we shouldn’t waste our time talking about irrelevant things.”

Sherry with a weird old man in a purple coat seemed better than listening to that lecture, so I went and ordered the drink, even though I don’t like sherry. And I found the bloke and I said, “I like cricket,” even though I don’t like cricket.

And you know what? He was really nice and Shezza is bloody annoying when he’s smug.

But the man was still thirty years too old for me, which I pointed out.

Shezza said he was gathering data.

I think it was all a set-up and Shezza just needed me to talk to that bloke to confirm his cricket alibi for some murder or something.


I thought I knew everything about ridiculous blogs, but you have managed to lower the bar. –Shezza

Janine, dear, some of the men who play cricket are very fit. I’ll come up and show you. –Mrs. Hudson

Can we plan this visit for when I’m not in the flat? –Shezza

No. –J


Mrs. Hudson came up with a plate of biscuits. She stopped and dropped some off with Sherlock in the kitchen, who grunted what might have been a thank you without looking up from the microscope he was peering through. On the table in neat little piles were a variety of fingers: a pile of thumbs, a pile of index fingers, etc.

Mrs. Hudson went into the sitting room, where Janine was sitting with neat little piles of her own. Nail varnish, Mrs. Hudson saw.

“Part of the finger experiment?” asked Mrs. Hudson, settling onto the sofa.

“Yes,” said Janine, turning on the telly for them. “He’s investigating the rate of wear on different nail varnish brands, or something. I said we could do this experiment using my live fingers, but he said it would take too long. And there’s something about needing to know by finger type, too.” Janine shrugged.

“Where did he get all the fingers?” asked Mrs. Hudson.

“Molly, of course.”

Sherlock stuck his head out of the kitchen. “It is very loud in here,” he said, disapprovingly, and looked meaningfully at the telly.

“We’re watching the cricket,” said Janine.

“Again? How often is cricket played?”

“How often do you think cricket is played?” asked Janine.

“I thought it was just once a year but clearly it is not,” grumbled Sherlock.

“An annual Great Cricket Game?” said Janine.


“It’s played more frequently than that.”

“Clearly. Must you watch it constantly, though?”

“Mrs. Hudson’s right. The men are fit.”

“It’s true, dear,” said Mrs. Hudson to Sherlock, wisely.

“If you watched it with us, you could gather data. And then you could get both of us hot blokes.”

“It is bad enough that you have simplified the complicated science of deduction for use as a dating service,” huffed Sherlock. “I’m not doing it for both of you.”

“So far, the complicated science of deduction is pretty rubbish as a dating service,” remarked Janine.

Sherlock drew himself up grandly and said, “I have data to collect.”

“Where?” asked Janine.

“Not in this flat,” said Sherlock and disappeared back into the kitchen.

“Bring back milk!” Janine called after him.

“Absolutely not!” Sherlock called back, and then they heard the door close.

Janine grouped together a pile of jade green nail varnishes and said, “He never gets the milk.”

“That’s just him. Don’t mind him. He likes you a great deal.”

“Oh, I know,” said Janine, cheerfully, and looked up at Mrs. Hudson to flash her a smile, and was surprised to see that Mrs. Hudson looked almost tearful. “Oh, no, Mrs. Hudson,” she said. “Is there something wrong?”

“No, just…I am so glad the two of you worked it out, dear.”

“You know we’re not together?” Janine said, carefully. “I mean, not the way you’re thinking?”

"You're not?"

“No. We’re just friends. He sleeps on the sofa and everything.”

“He sleeps on the sofa?” Mrs. Hudson looked down at it, as if suddenly alarmed to find she was sitting on Sherlock’s bed.

“Well, I stole his bedroom. He almost never sleeps, and I told him it was the gentlemanly thing to do.”

“The flat has two bedrooms,” Mrs. Hudson pointed out.

Janine gave her a look. “Do you think he’d ever in a million years let anyone use John’s room but John?”

Mrs. Hudson, after a moment, gave a little sigh. “I will never understand Sherlock Holmes’s love life.”

“Frankly, I think he probably prefers it that way,” admitted Janine. She glanced at the cricket for a moment, and then turned to Mrs. Hudson. Because now was one of her few opportunities, she thought. “Do you know what happened between them?”

“Between John and Sherlock?”

“He never mentions him. Every once in a while it slips out and he looks annoyed at himself. From this I deduce that he must think about him constantly. I’m sure Sherlock thinks he’s being very clever but he wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to John Watson. But in all the time I’ve been here, John’s never even rung him. What was the falling out? Did Sherlock tell him how he felt and John thought it would be kinder to just cut him out entirely? If I knew what I was dealing with, I’d be a lot more effective in trying to help Sherlock get over it.”

“Well, you know what happened. He faked his own death and then John married someone else.”

“I know that much from the newspapers, Mrs. Hudson.”

“I don’t know what else happened between them,” said Mrs. Hudson, sadly. “You know by now. Sherlock would rather die than have a real, honest conversation about anything like that.”

“Well,” said Janine, reflectively. “I can see that. I’ve never believed it does you any good to talk about a broken heart. It won’t change the fact that it’s broken. I just worry I won’t be able to fix it.”

“That’s nothing to do with you, dear. I’m not sure it’s possible for Sherlock Holmes to get over John Watson. I think you’re doing the best you can do, because he’s not lonely. He was so sad, and so lonely, and so depressed. I worried about him constantly. I even called in his brother, because I was worried…you know.” Mrs. Hudson gave Janine a meaningful look that meant drugs. Janine had received a lecture herself from Mycroft about the drugs. “And then you came back, and there was someone here with him, and he likes you a great deal, and he takes an interest in things again. You gave him a mission. I think it’s the best we can hope for right now.”

“Yeah,” Janine agreed. Because she did think it was true. Sherlock liked her and liked the pub visits and spent less time brooding in misery in his chair, staring at an empty space on the sitting room floor where Janine suspected the armchair stuffed into John Watson’s bedroom had once sat.

Mrs. Hudson said, “You really care about him, don’t you?”

“Well,” said Janine. “We who are unlucky in love need to stick together.”