A note, for therapists who believe I don't update often enough
I haven't really got much energy for this blog of late, nor is there much to tell. Flu season has rolled around, and I feel as though I have personally treated every sniffling nose and sore throat in the greater London area.
Sherlock's up to something, but I can't tell you what it is as I don't know. I don't really want to know, to be honest. He's been holed up in his room for days. I go knock on the door once a morning to check that he's not dead, and get belittled for my efforts.
The only thing of note to happen recently is that I received a call last night, just as I was thinking of heading to bed. I nearly ignored it, but the number was so unusual that I answered out of sheer curiosity.
The fellow on the other end of the line was thoughtful enough to apologize about the hour. "Sorry to bother you so late. The time difference is throwing me off."
I tried to say that it was all right, but I suspect the yawn that cut me off rather undermined the point I was trying to make. "Time difference?" He sounded American, but that didn't really guarantee anything.
"Yes, I'm calling from California. We're 8 hours behind you."
"That's a bit far just to call about the time, isn't it?"
"Right. Sorry, Mr. Holmes."
I've repeatedly asked Sherlock not to give people my number, and he persists in doing it. At least I got him to take it down from his website, eventually.
"I'm John Watson, not Holmes."
"I'm sorry. It seems there's been some kind of mix-up."
"No, that's all right, it happens all the time. He's my flatmate."
"Well, maybe you could pass along a message for him."
"He's probably going to be getting some unwanted attention in the near future."
That woke me up completely. In Sherlock's world, "unwanted attention" could be an ugly thing, and I still carry the camouflage instinct from Afghanistan. You know, along with all my "trust issues."
So I asked him what that was supposed to mean, and who he was, anyway. My tone seemed to catch him off-guard, and he apologized again. In my suspicious state, I had to ask why he's apologize so many times if he wasn't feeling guilty about something serious.
He did tell me his name – Gus, as it happened – which was mildly reassuring. Would an assassin have told me his name?
"I didn't mean to alarm you. It's just, this friend of mine, Shawn, he heard about Sherlock Holmes and decided he wants to meet him. He's not dangerous, just annoying."
That was reassuring, too. A killer probably wouldn't warn us he was coming.
"What does he want to do that for?"
"He's a detective, too. He just wants to talk shop with Holmes, you know, since he's got such a great reputation."
I couldn't see a good reason why someone would lie about that. "Sherlock hasn't really got much patience for – anyone, really, when he's busy."
"Understandably. He shouldn't have to put up with someone interrupting him while he's trying to work." Gus sounded very determined about this point. "I'm trying to talk him out of the whole thing, but he's pretty determined, he's bought plane tickets and everything. So I thought I'd give your friend a head's up so he doesn't suddenly have someone showing up at his doorstep."
"I see. All right. Well, thanks for the warning." I said goodbye to my new American friend and sincerely hoped it was the last I heard of him.
Just in case it wasn't, I walked down the hall to Sherlock's room and banged on the door. I could hear him running to answer that, though not, as it turned out, from excitement.
"Don't. Speak." Sherlock put a hand over my mouth just as the door flew open. "Do not speak a single word. One thing from your unenlightened mind at this fragile moment could topple whole cities of thought irreparably. Do you understand?"
I wondered what damage I could really do, if this whole lecture wasn't harming his thought process too badly. I couldn't ask that with his hand over my mouth, nor could I tell him about phone calls with Americans. I simply left to go to bed.
He can probably use a good shock right about now, anyway. If that's ungenerous of me, too bad; I think I'm coming down with a spot of flu myself.
When strays come to call
Gus the apologetic American was apparently unable to dissuade his friend from coming to London with the sole purpose of pestering Sherlock Holmes. I think I'd find the whole thing amusing if I hadn't woken up this morning too ill to come into work.
Sarah wasn't terribly sympathetic when I called in sick. She has a right, I suppose; she's been reminding me to get my flu shot for days, and I keep putting it off.
Sherlock came barging into my room before I'd even rung off with Sarah and tried to drag me away on some case. I believe it had something to do with a carnival, but I threw my phone at his head and pulled the pillow over my ears, so I'm not the most reliable witness.
He actually took a hint for once and let me to go back to sleep. Perhaps he didn't want to risk catching sick.
I woke up again a few hours later and explored the kitchen. All we have left – that I'm willing to trust eating, anyway – is bread. I can't understand how this keeps happening, especially as Sherlock barely eats anything. I settled for a breakfast of plain toast and was just starting to eat when my peaceful meal was upset by Sherlock's return.
He was stomping about, back and forth, in that way that means he really wants to talk about something but isn't going to do it until you ask. I continued eating my toast and put water on for tea.
I waited until Sherlock's pacing and sighing and swishing his coat about had gotten too obnoxious to tolerate any longer before I asked. "So – the case go all right, then?"
"Does it look as though the case went all right?" I can't understand where Sherlock gets off judging people for being dim when he misses sarcasm so often.
"What, did Sgt. Donovan make fun of your shoes or something?" She should have, if she didn't. They were appalling.
"Don't be ridiculous. Donovan is not a problem. Lestrade is not a problem. Meddling American charlatans are a problem."
I didn't understand the part about charlatans, but I got the point anyway. "Oh, did you meet Shawn, then?"
It was my chance to be the smug bastard with all the answers. I love when that happens. "You knew about this fraud?"
"If I recall correctly, I tried to tell you about him, but you were afraid I'd knock over your towers of thought."
"What do you know about him?"
"Oh, so now you want to listen to me, is that it?"
"Don't be so moody," Sherlock scolded me, which was radically unfair of him.
"I got a call from a friend of his. Said that Shawn was a detective and wanted to talk shop with you, and would I warn you of this so he didn't catch you off guard."
"Detective. As if you could even call him a detective. He's an absolute liar."
"Is he not any good, then?"
"That's not the point."
I was starting to wish I had come along on this case, even though I ached all over and my pockets were full of tissues. "So he is good, and you don't want to admit it."
"He pretends he's psychic. I've never heard such nonsense. He's obviously just very observant. How he's managed to work with the police for as long as he claims without them noticing his tricks and throwing him out is beyond me."
"But I take it he solved the case."
"I wish you would stop going on about the case, John. You're missing the point."
"The point that someone beat you at your own game?"
"I had already drawn my own conclusions. I just didn't get the chance to tell anyone before he showed up on the scene, flailing about and interrupting everyone doing real work."
Speaking of interruptions, there was a knock on the door just as I was attempting to rub Sherlock's face in his apparent defeat once again.
Sherlock was still in a snit and wasn't going to answer, so I did, and found two men on the other side of the door.
"Hey there, buddy," one of them said, waving at Sherlock over my shoulder. I didn't need to be a psychic or a detective to figure out who he was. "Me and Gus just arrived in town, and we don't actually have a place to stay – "
"I'm not staying in a hostel, and hotels are too expensive," the other one said, and I recognized his voice from the phone call.
"Gus has no sense of adventure. It's tragic, really. And we don't know our way around, especially not with this driving on the other side of the road thing, or else normally we'd rent a car – "
"Gus, why would we rent a Mini-Cooper, that's absurd. You can't camp out in a Mini-Cooper."
"I'll tell you what's absurd, going to England and renting a car that's not a Mini-Cooper, that's what's absurd."
"You're absurd like the Fluke song. My point is, we need a place to stay, and I thought, hey, how about our old pal Sherlock, I bet he's got a pretty sweet place, and then we could hang out all day detecting and drinking tea and all those other British things – "
I am quite relieved to report that Shawn pulled his hand out of the way just before Sherlock slammed the door.
He stayed out front of the door, waiting for Sherlock to emerge again, but Sherlock was more stubborn. I was tempted to let him in, but I am highly cognizant of how far I can push Sherlock before I end up with screeching violins outside my door at 5 in the morning and entire cadavers paraded up and down the stairs, so I resisted.
Since I really ought to be keeping a scorecard
I'm feeling a bit better, thanks in part to Gus, who always has cough drops and tissues with him, despite the fact that he's living out of a suitcase for the time being.
We've seen quite a lot of Shawn and Gus lately. They have a talent for showing up on crime scenes just after we've gotten there. I thought they were following us, but Sherlock is very careful about that sort of thing. You start to see why people might believe Shawn is psychic, if they're the sort to believe that sort of thing. I'm not. There are enough weird things in life without messing about with supernatural powers, frankly.
I'm not entirely sure why Lestrade puts up with them, except maybe that he enjoys seeing Sherlock annoyed as much as I do. It could also be that Shawn and Gus are a bit nicer to the police than Sherlock ever has been. Donovan actually laughed at something Shawn said the other day. I don't think I've ever seen that happen.
In any case, after solving the carnival case in record time (which, the more I hear about the case, the less I understand, and the more I wish I had come along), Shawn and Sherlock butted heads during a second murder investigation. Sherlock identified the killer first, but it took him the better part of a day, so we all agreed that Shawn was still in the lead.
There is not, despite what certain people will tell you, a murder every day in this city, so the last few days Sherlock and Shawn have been competing to solve every kind of crime they can get their hands on. I never thought I'd see Sherlock stooping so low, frankly. I guess he'll search for missing kittens if the motivation is great enough.
As of now, Sherlock has one murder, two car thefts, one vandalism, and two cases of breaking and entering; Shawn has one murder, one robbery, one case of blackmail, and one case of animal kidnapping.
I think Shawn ought to be scored with a handicap. Sherlock has an almost eerie knowledge of every detail of London, and it's giving him an edge. I have to wonder how they'd do in Santa Barbara, or in some third, neutral location neither of them has been in.
I confessed to Gus that I felt a little guilty about hoping that Shawn would win their informal competition, and he assured me that he's rooting for Sherlock.
The tie-breaking round
Shawn and Gus are heading back home tomorrow. Apparently they were supposed to head back yesterday, but Shawn switched their tickets without asking. Gus has been ignoring him since he found out.
"Hasn't Shawn got a job to get back to?" was, apparently, one of those things you shouldn't ask unless you've got an hour or two to spare.
Sherlock's been avoiding Shawn when they aren't working on cases, but he finally relented and agreed to take them out to a farewell dinner, "Since it's the last I'll have to see them." Sherlock gets so distraught with goodbyes.
I figured we could finally put the competition behind us, but I had overlooked the fact that, according to Lestrade's count – Lestrade being deemed the impartial observer in the whole affair, or at least the closest thing we had to one – Sherlock and Shawn were sitting at a tie. We hadn't even gotten our drinks yet before they hit upon a way of deciding the competition, once and for all.
"Divorced," Shawn said, nodding at a woman in the corner booth.
"Obviously." Sherlock wasn't impressed with this observation. "Two children."
"Like you can judge," Gus interrupted.
Shawn looked put out by that. "What do you mean? I have great fashion sense."
"Not particularly," I had to admit. "No offense."
"How are you guys even going to settle this?" Gus asked. "Are you just going to go up to this poor woman, interrupt her meal, and ask her to tell you her life story?"
"Do you think she would?" Shawn asked Sherlock.
"Probably not, since it includes a criminal history."
"Just let them sort it out," I told Gus. "Pay them no mind, and stay out of the way if it looks like they've started a fight with someone."
"You don't need to tell me twice. I'm wearing my running shoes."
It was actually quite a nice meal apart from hearing a great deal about all the other patrons of the restaurant that I hope wasn't true, simply for the sake of their privacy and peace of mind, and on one or two occasions for my own faith in humanity.
It started raining while we were eating, and didn't let up by the time we'd finished. Fortunately, I'd thought ahead and brought my umbrella.
"Funny," I said, as we stood up to leave. "I could have sworn it was right there."
"What was?" Sherlock asked.
Shawn struck a pose I'd become rather familiar with in the last week – one hand held up to his forehead, another out in front of him, and an intense look of concentration on his face. "I'm sensing a u – "
"Umbrella," Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"And that would be u for 'you have got to loosen up'."
"True detective's work requires dedication."
"It's not about dedication, it's about the flow. You have to let the pieces come together and come to you, and then you can see the whole picture."
"It's a wonder you manage to get yourself dressed in the mornings. How you can accomplish any task with such a haphazard method is beyond me."
"My method accomplishes all kinds of things. For example, it tells me that since we've been sitting here, there have been...twenty-seven people who have entered without umbrellas or raincoats. Twelve of them are still here."
Sherlock scanned the room. "The man in the blue shirt, there. He took it."
"Hm, he looks shifty, and it's my principle never to trust a guy with mutton chops, but I think I have to go with the woman by the door."
Sherlock stalked off to interrupt some poor fellow's dinner, and Shawn, not to be outdone, flounced over to the door.
"Help me check the booth?" I asked Gus.
We looked around and, in a few seconds, found the umbrella had gotten pushed down under the seats on Gus's side.
"What do you think are the odds on one or both of them getting thrown out of the restaurant?" Gus asked, as we watched our companions accuse innocent people of umbrella theft.
"Quite likely," I sighed. "I ought to do something; I rather like this restaurant." But I didn't feel quite like interfering.
There was, in the end, a minor altercation with the girlfriend of the woman by the door, and Shawn fled out into the rain without an umbrella at all, but also without paying his share of the bill, so I suppose it evens out.
The restaurant owner is rather used to Sherlock stirring up trouble, so for the near future, at least, I don't have to fear losing my pad se-ew privileges.
I maintain that Gus and I are the ones who won the detecting contest. Sherlock claims this is nonsense, but then again, he also hasn't noticed that Shawn slipped a few "souvenirs" of his into his luggage.
Again, I think I'll let him discover the surprise for himself. Since he's such a brilliant detective.
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Gus: Thanks again for your generosity in showing us around town. I know we aren't the easiest pair to deal with.
John: Not at all, it was a pleasure. You should come back some time and see the sights, rather than doing the crime scene tour.
Gus: I look forward to that. And I'm making Shawn send back everything he took from your apartment.
Shawn: Aww, has Gus got a man-crush?
Gus: If anyone's got a man-crush, it's not me, Mr. "I'm going to buy a big swoopy coat and scarf and wear them all around Santa Barbara even though its 90 degrees out."
Shawn: Gus! Don't embarrass me in front of my totally-not-crush.
John: I wouldn't worry about it. Sherlock claims not to read this blog. At the very least, he'll never admit to knowing you said that.
John: And speaking of things Sherlock will never admit to: there has been an increase in the amount of pineapple kept around the flat.