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Why Benedict Cumberbatch Shouldn't Quit His Day Job

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Mark calls at five in the morning, about two hours before Benedict is due on set for hair and makeup and half an hour before Benedict was planning to get up anyway. "Someone's stolen my toothbrush," Mark says without preamble after Benedict mumbles out a hello.

"I'm sorry, what?" Benedict says, rubbing at his eyes and trying to figure out if he's hallucinating this entire conversation. Or dreaming it. It wouldn't be the first time. Once, he dreamed that they'd cast Rupert as Watson instead, and that Rupert had gone through every one of their scenes together standing on his hands because it helped with his blood flow or something like that. Benedict doesn't remember that dream very well, and sometimes he actively avoids thinking about it, because then he keeps expecting Rupert to start singing "Wonderwall" during their scenes together.

Mark huffs out an impatient breath. "My toothbrush has gone missing. It was in my bathroom last night before I went to bed, and it's not there now."

Benedict closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. "And why are you calling me again?" he asks.

He can almost hear Mark rolling his eyes on the other side. "You're the one playing Sherlock aren't you? Will you take the case or not?"

"Only if there's cake," Benedict says.

Mark says, "Fine, just get over here."

Benedict checks the bedside clock. The LED screen displays 5:05 in mocking red numbers. He'd have to be up in twenty-five minutes anyway, he tells himself; there's no need to strangle Mark for being a wanker. "Give me ten minutes and I'll be right over," he says.

The next thing he does is call Martin, because if Benedict has to get up early in order to indulge one of Gatiss's whims, he's going to make Martin do it as well. It takes Martin ten rings before he picks up.

"There better be a good reason for this, Cumberbatch," Martin says, sounding irritated. "I know where your Monty Python VHS tapes live."

"You wouldn't dare," Benedict hisses, but he already regrets ever getting pissed enough to tell Martin about them that one night in the pub. He'll never fully understand how Martin has managed to trick everyone around him into thinking he's sweet and innocent. The man can be pure evil when he wants to be. Benedict still gets twitchy every time he smells beets. "Also, Mark wants to see us in his room in five minutes."

Martin groans. "Please don't tell me rewrote those two fucking pages again."

"All right," Benedict says. "I won't." He's really very pleased with himself that he didn't even have to lie about it.

The string of curses Martin lets out is quite unseemly coming from a father of two.

"I can't fucking believe this," Martin says, after Mark explains the whole situation to him. "You two woke me up for this? I could be getting sleep right now. I could be dreaming of fucking sugarplum fairies. I could be fending off sleep deprivation hallucinations. You know what? I think I'll be using this time to figure out how much I'd like to kill you all."

"You know I'd be lost without my blogger," Benedict says, half-seriously. It's not like he wants to face down a deranged Mark Gatiss by himself. And besides, Martin makes a great sidekick. If Benedict needed to, say, rescue America from German terrorists, he would definitely pick Martin to hold his guns or help him hack into the Pentagon or other things like that.

"You've lost your bloody minds, that's for sure," Martin mutters. He's still in a t-shirt and pyjama bottoms, his hair a mess. He's usually a lot more put together than this, but he was probably hoping to grab the new pages and run before Mark could lecture them about all the various (fake) forms of martial arts Sherlock Holmes had apparently mastered over the course of the novels.

Mark's room is in complete disarray. There are half-empty coffee cups on every available surface; newspapers, clothes, and coins are scattered amongst them. Pages of script are spread out over the desk, some of them in vaguely pile-like shapes. Benedict is fairly certain you could lose an entire elephant in here, much less an electric toothbrush.

"Um," he says.

"Go on, then," Mark says, making an impatient gesture. "My mouth is beginning to taste all moldy."

"Yes, Sherlock," Martin says, sounding far more aggravated than John at his most peeved. "Please get on with it."

"Um," Benedict says again.

It turns out that it's a lot easier to analyze crime scenes when someone's written it all out for you already.

"Well, there aren't any marks on the sink," Benedict says to Martin, who is leaning on the door frame with his eyes closed, clearly falling asleep while standing up. "And your brother's set fire to your toy ship again."

Martin jolts awake, "What the hell, that cu--" and then he glares at Benedict when he realizes what's going on. "Wanker," he says. "I should never have told you about that."

"Threatening the Monty Python tapes was a low blow," Benedict sniffs. There's nothing of use on the sink. He even tries doing that "rubbing between two fingers" thing, but all he gets out of it is that there's dust where the sink met the mirror. Sherlock, he thinks, would understand why that dust is significant. All Benedict can deduce is that the maid probably needs to be a bit more thorough in cleaning. "Could you check the tub for me?"

"Oh look, there it is!" Martin says as he bends over the tub. Benedict jumps to his feet, eager to take a look for himself, but then Martin continues, "No, wait. It's just a sodding tub. Without anything in it. Could you just remind me why I'm still here?"

"I'm not going to search these rooms by myself," Benedict says. "You're supposed to be helping me look for clues."

"Could you point out where that is in my job description?" Martin asks.

Benedict ignores him and proclaims the bathroom a wash. He wonders if he'll have to round up suspects for questioning. If they have to do that, would Martin make more sense as good cop or bad cop? Admittedly, he does have the wide, honest face for a good cop, but he's also radiating enough belligerence for two bad cops. Benedict figures they'll simply have to cross that bridge when they get to it. "Why don't we check the bedroom next?" Benedict asks.

Martins says, "Why don't we ask the fucking toothbrush-stealing bedroom gnomes where they hid it instead?"

Their investigation is cut short because they have to be on set in twenty minutes, and they still haven't found the toothbrush. Benedict tries not to feel like a complete impostor, even though he's pretty sure the line, "I'm not a legendary consulting detective; I just play one on TV," was invented for exactly this situation.

"So we're shit investigators," Martin says with a roll of his eyes. "It's not the end of the fucking world. You can stop sulking now."

Benedict is not sulking. He's merely annoyed, like there's an itch he can't scratch. He hates not being able to see the endings of movies, too.

He gets a text from Mark during lunch. Never mind. It rolled behind the toilet, it says.

"He found it," Benedict says to Martin.

"Good," Martin says. "Now I don't ever have to do that again."

But he's lying, because he helps Benedict hold that same toothbrush hostage a few days later. Really, Mark brought it on himself. He should have known better than to promise them cake and then not deliver.