A man barreled down the narrow weekend market street, indifferent to the annoyed shouts of store owners and public around him as he pushed his way through the crowded cobbled path, knocking wares off the tables and overturning baskets of apples, startling chickens into flight.
“Sherlock! You ass! Come back here! We’re very sorry. No, no! He's not a criminal…”
The man ducked behind a store selling impressive imported cloths. Apparently…counterfeit goods. The color of the purple, priced for its unique shade was manufactured abundantly. The texture too coarse, the patterns badly done.
The dark haired man jumped up from his hiding place and ducked down the nearest alleyway on his left. He jumped over a dozing tabby cat and skidded to a stop before an eccentric store. The crowd here was less dense. Rather, the small street was empty. The store before him was the only store in sight, located at a dead end. The walls around it painted a dull white, cracked from age.
Rapid footsteps echoed down the alleyway and without thinking Sherlock ducked into the store and fell to a crouch. The store owner was nowhere in sight, and Sherlock was thankful for that. He didn’t need anyone coming up to him and divulge his location.
He held his breath as the group pursuing him stopped outside the cluttered entrance of the exotic pet store he found refuge in; hiding behind an extensive metal cage housing a winged slumbering creature.
With the shadow casted down upon him, he surveyed the interior of the store. With a lone bulb hanging above the ceiling, Sherlock took in the cluttered place. It was made up of brick, tough practical choice, with wooden shelves lining the walls, stacked with glass bottles of feed, hooks from the ceiling hanging onto smaller cages housing birds and small mammals. On the ground there were a dozen medium sized water tanks, housing aquatic animals with air pumps supplying oxygen. Behind him, were the reptiles, and further back, the much more prized creatures, which from his spot, could not identify.
One thing he did note was that the animals were silent, deadly silent. They would have passed for taxidermies if they didn't move, or blink.
“Did you see where he went? I swear he came through here.”
“Ugh. What the hell is that? It’s black and HUGE!”
Anderson. As always, could always rely on him to ask stupid questions.
“Hey! I’m asking about Sherlock! We have to find him. He can’t just run with evidence, just because it’s interesting…” A ping from a mobile phone, “Oh buggering fu-”
“He could have gone inside? Exotic pets. Just like his style ain’t it?”
Sherlock was about to make a leap for the exit and push through the group when a rumbling sound thundered beside him.
The sound resonated through him and shook the ground, rattling the glass jars on the wooden shelves and startling the other creatures in the store. The cacophony of animals making their own distinct sounds of panic was enough to dissuade the group outside from entering the hell hole of screechy madness.
It didn’t help that the distinct scent of gunpowder has started to flood the air, and the rumbling pitched to a thundering growl.
Sherlock watched as the horse sized slumbering creature opened its gigantic maw, an electric blue charge gathered at the back of its throat, rolling, turning, and tumbling into a ball of orange energy, the heat of it, Sherlock could feel it pricking his skin.
There was a sound of something leathery being stretched open, Sherlock watched amazed as a pair of massive wings unfurled upon the creature’s back as much as it's capable of in the cage, it only managed to stretch open a little before the edge of its wings clanged against the steel bars, filling the cage with wings and white hot heat.
Through the gap between its wings, Sherlock observed the hard spines at the back of its neck curving up in aggression, the leathery appendage at the sides of its head drew closed acting as a shield for its ears, and its sturdy horns gleamed in the dull light of the store.
Dragon. A smaller species compared to its cousins.
A fully grown adult golden male: Color coat hidden by layers of dirt and grime. Sand granules: Desert grain.
Armored hide: retain heat. Deflect weapons.
Claws look sharp despite inactiveness: Fought battles.
Injured, left wing: Healed.
Star burst wound: thorough exit.
Pattern: bullet wound.
Unable to fly: Grounded. Psychosomatic.
Desert sand, armored coat, acutely sharp claws, injured, bullet wound: War dragon.
Could have escaped from cage, but didn’t. No relations left.
“Oh shit! Christ! Run!!” Lestrade shouted then ducked down in a zigzag pattern down the alleyway, “Run!”
At the sound of panic in his voice, those around him complied without question. If he said run, they will run. And running they did.
As they ran further away, the distance between them and the caged dragon widened, but it wasn't impossible for the powered shot of a dragon to miss, yet the creature closed its maw and swallowed the ball of fire back into its rotund middle with a puff of grey smoke.
Sherlock was silent as the great creature turned to face him, wings folding.
A pair of sapphire blue eyes met his; an unusual color for a dragon, its nictitating membrane drew down once, and slipped up, its black pupils silted, focused on him.
He didn’t speak as the creature shifted in its great cage. Its long spiked tail clanged against the thick metal bars then slipped through the gap to lie curled before Sherlock’s feet.
“Afghanistan or Iraq?” Sherlock asked, the dragon opened its jaws, and then closed, and he swear he saw surprise crossing its face.
The dragon huffed, exhaling a puff of grey smoke in response.
Sherlock smiled, “You can understand my words?” Then laughed when the dragon gave him a look that said, are you an idiot? as much as the dragon could muster with fixed facial expressions, “Fascinating.”
The dragon yawned, and then curled up in its cage, laying its head on its folded front legs, blue eyes watching the human before him twirl around, mumbling to himself.
“I’ve come to a conclusion.” The human said with glee, “I’m going to save you.”
The dragon lifted its head and tilted it to the side in confusion.
“Oh, don’t be dull. I’m going to save you from this hell hole. Isn’t it so boring here? You’re not exactly fond of this place, right? Wait. Don’t answer that. I can deduce it from you. I collect expertise and you are one of them. Would you like to come with me? I can guarantee you a better place than this cage, but I can’t guarantee you food. You have to find it on your own. This,” Sherlock gestured to his body, from head to toe, “Is just transport. I feed it when I need to. Oh, and I play the violin, and sometimes I don’t talk for days on. Would that bother you? Potential flat mates should know the worst of each other.”
The dragon blinked, then shook. Sherlock watched as fumes of grey escaped from its nostrils, its great head shaking up and down; its spiked tail slapping the metal cage with metallic clangs.
“You’re laughing at me. What’s so funny?” Sherlock mused then frowned, “Am I wrong?”
The dragon stopped and regarded him firmly, holding his gaze then shook its head.
Sherlock’s thought process stumbled before he caught himself, “So you agree with me? You would come with me?”
The dragon nodded then clanged its tail against the metal bars.
“Owner!” Sherlock shouted towards the back of the store. He didn’t have to wait long before a middle aged man appeared through the hidden doorway at the back, his clothing rumpled.
“What do you need?”
“I want him.” Sherlock pointed to the dragon.
“Oh, if you want him for flying, I’m afraid it can’t. It-”
“I know wounded. Enough of banalities. How much?”
“I can let him go for sixteen hundred pounds.”
Sherlock stared silently at the man.
“Fine. Fifteen hundred pounds. I can go no lower. This dragon gave me tons of trouble when it first came in.”
Sherlock pursed his lips and then trailed his eyes down and then up the owner.
Illegally selling endangered animals under a pseudo name. Cautious, weighs risks.
Did something wrong that the law would frown upon, which is why didn’t emerge when police are in front of store. Not the kind to commit violent homicide, so, has evaded years of taxes. Obvious.
Lives in an apartment, has two dogs.
A bachelor, but sleeps around, having an affair with a married woman, while sleeping with another.
Just had sex at the back of the shop.
Sherlock wrinkled his nose at that last deduction.
“I know this dragon stayed in this cage not because it couldn't escape, these metal bars are considered nothing to it, but because it has nowhere to go, he couldn't have caused trouble for you, so how about I take him off your hands for free?”
“What? Why would I in my sane mind do that?”
Sherlock hummed, and rated off a stream of deductions at a speed of a Shinkansen, “So I won’t have to be forced to go to the authorities to inform them that you have under declared your income and invaded years of taxes and is selling endangered species under a pseudo name. Imagine the amount of backlogged penalties you have to pay maybe even serve ten or more years of jail for both offenses, which would be just horrible for you. You wouldn't want to be away from your current lover whom is staying in your apartment, and the affair you’re having with a married woman, and I can see you just had sex with her at the back of the shop, balance of probability says it’s the married woman, since you can’t bring her back to your apartment, before you ask how did I know. There is a faint lipstick stain on your neck, your clothes are rumpled, mostly around the arms, and crotch, and the blaring sign, might as well have a blinking neon arrow pointing to it, you have forgotten to pull up your zip in your haste. So, either you’re an idiot who thinks with his penis, or a man who has a functioning brain and is capable of making the right decisions. In this case, which is alarmingly obvious.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Oh, what gave it away?” Sherlock smirked, eyes glinting in the dim light, “Information is a weapon, and if wielded properly, I can either be your ruin, or your ally. Your choice.”
The owner gaped, blinked, and then sucked in a deep breath, “F-fine. Do I have your word you wouldn't go to the authorities?”
“I will do you a favor and not report you. Hence, you owe me.”
“B-but, but, the dragon!”
“I’m saving you the money for the feed you’re buying him. This is also a favor. Would you like to owe me a two favors? Hm. There would be day I would require your services since you import wildlife on a quarterly basis.”
“Fine, don’t report me and then you can take the dragon. And I owe you ONE favor. ONE.” The man emphasized, “Now what do you need from me?”
“At the current moment, your contact details, and the dragon,” The owner huffed and recited his number as Sherlock keyed it in his phone, and dialed the number, a while later, the phone in the man’s pocket rang, the owner took it out and showed the bright screen with his number dialing, “Good, Exotic Animals Distributor. Not a fake number. Save my number, come quickly if I text you.”
“Ugh. Fine, get out of my shop.” The man tapped a few times on the touch screen then showed the detective's number saved onto the phone under the name: Sherlock Holmes, with a description describing him as a god damned blackmailer of a businessman.
“Very well,” Sherlock smirked and gestured to the cage, “I believe this dragon is mine. Unlock him. And we shall be on our way.”
Sherlock led the dragon out of the store without chains, despite the owner’s insistence. He made a big fuss till the owner decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and let them go, only when Sherlock yield collaring his dragon. The great creature didn’t mind to the mild surprise of Sherlock, even lowering its head and extending its neck for him to snap the collar on; a black band of leather with his information on it. Ghastly thing. Sherlock made a mental note to purchase a new, much more intricate design suited for his dragon. Possibly something golden with a purple gem. Amethyst.
If he were to be seen wandering around with a dragon, his dragon must be gorgeous. And gorgeous shall it be. But, now, a bath for his dragon is in order.
Will the bathroom in 221B do?
“I can’t imagine the look on Mycroft’s face when he learns a dragon living in 221B.” Sherlock turned to face the silent dragon; he forced himself to stay still as the dragon leaned down and pressed its great head against his forehead. There was a warm tingling feeling and then the dragon pulled away.
My name is John. Nice to meet you.
Sherlock’s eyes widen at the foreign voice in his head; a warm, soothing voice, slightly raspy, but nice. He chuckled, amused, “Sherlock Holmes.”
What do you do?
“What do you think?” Sherlock said as he stalked down the alleyway back where he came from, he noted the horse sized dragon folded its wings as close as possible to itself and advanced through the path, a hulking mass behind him.
I’ll say private detective. The men who came looking for you were from the Yard. They were not in uniform. Could be undercover, but one of them was wearing forensic garbs. So the jurisdiction they were in doesn’t necessarily require them to be in the presence of the public. They also mentioned evidence. So, Yard men, forensic garbs, evidence; detectives investigating crimes that involve forensics, so, homicidal crimes. But, the Yard doesn’t go to private detectives for help. So who are you? What do you do?
Sherlock grinned at the deductions shooting through his mind from his new scaly companion, “I’m a consulting detective; only one in the world. I invented the job.”
What does that mean?
“It means when the police are out of their depth, which is always, they consult me.”
But the police don’t consult amateurs.
“When I said Afghanistan or Iraq you looked surprised.”
I was thinking how did you know.
“I didn’t know, I saw. The dirt and grime from your hide, the coarse grain of sand, it is weathered but its different from the ones on the beach, could have been an overseas beach, but no fire dragons would go to places with large volumes of water willingly, so desert. Your claws, sharp despite inactiveness, shows you have been in a high adrenaline environment and had to use them daily, you fought battles. You’re comfortable around people, humans, it shows you are used to them, and you helped me though I didn’t ask for assistance, that says you have protected people before and would not attack unless needed to. You could have killed those Yarders, but you didn’t, you scared them off instead, shows a strong moral principal, a particular mindset. Trained to do that; military, obvious. Your left wing, though healed, shows a star burst wound that could only be caused by a military grade bullet, the trajectory shows you were hovering over something when you got shot, and when you were chasing the Yarders off, you have forgotten about the injury, so it’s partly psychosomatic, that says the original circumstances of the injury were traumatic. So, wounded in action then. Also you could have gotten out of the cage easily, those metal bars meant nothing to you, but you didn’t. This means you don’t have any relations left, not here, and dragons without any relations are the ones that get sent to war. So, a war dragon, psychosomatic limp, wounded in action with military training; Afghanistan or Iraq.”
John eyed the back of Sherlock’s head and smiled. That was amazing. And the breakdown of the owner back in the shop. Fantastic!
“You think so?” Sherlock’s steps faltered a moment
That was extraordinary, quite…extraordinary.
“That’s not what people usually say.” Sherlock said, resuming his pace down the alley.
What do they usually say?
“Piss off.”Sherlock said and grinned to himself.
John huffed and followed Sherlock down the path and into the crowded market street. Scents of various origins assaulted his nostrils, apples from North America, pineapples from the Philippines, raw honey from Sussex, imported goods from Asia- he gave a waff to expel the confusing smells fighting for his attention until he scented a familiar smell in the air, a smell of home. He was mildly aware Sherlock had a hand placed on his neck as the crowd around him stilled. He noted the men were eyeing him with distrust; the women shielded their children, and the children looking at him with wide eyed fascination.
“John.” Sherlock said, and he turned to face the man, “Let’s go home.”
“You need a bath.” Sherlock said, and then led them out of the market place into the bustling street of London. The streets familiar, and the air rank.
Sherlock hummed, “Obviously, you got discharged by the army, and it’s only appropriate to put you back in London, the place you were born.”
How did you know that?
Sherlock smiled at the tone of wonder in John’s voice in his mind, “By looking.”
“Color of your hide.”
Sherlock said as he stalked down the street, aware his scaly companion is attracting all sorts of attention, he noticed the cameras on the street has swerved round to fix upon him.
He sighed when a black sedan glided up to the side walk, “Oh for god’s sake.”
Sherlock? What’s wrong?
John inched nearer to the detective when the car door swung open.
“I shouldn’t be surprised to know, of all creatures, you would find yourself a dragon. A war dragon no less.” A man dressed in a three piece suit stated as he slipped out of the car, tapping his umbrella on the pavement. John sniffed the air and was aware of the familial scent the man was giving out. Family of Sherlock. Brother. Elder.
“Go away, you’re obstructing the traffic.” Sherlock said, waving his hand in a dismissing gesture.
The man’s face hardened, “You don’t know what you have gotten yourself into, Sherlock. They do more harm than good. A war dragon, discharged by a wing injury, a psychosomatic injury, it has PTSD. No matter how appealing it is to own a dragon, you should have known better. You wouldn’t want it to shred you like confetti in the middle of the night just because it needs a midnight snack and you were the nearest.”
John bristled at the discourtesy the man is hurling his way as if he wasn’t even there, how dare he spout such slander when the wound he gained was to protect a human being from being killed, and for his act, he got discharged. He took a bullet that wasn’t his, and all he got in return is a cage, and insults. What insolence!
He didn’t realize his hackles had risen till Sherlock ran a hand down his head, pressing the leathery spines down, and hushing the rumbling growl with rubs to his throat, the large cool hand grounding him to reality.
John blinked and huffed, turning his head away, but not before expelling a gust of grey smoke towards the man who shown him discourtesy, he watched amused at the expression of surprise and shock crossing the stiff face.
Sherlock chuckled and patted his scaly companion’s neck, “There you have it, Mycroft. John has shown admirable control, he could have ripped your head off for the discourtesy, but he didn’t. Good morning, Mycroft. Try not to start a war before I get home, you know what it does to the traffic.”
The man named Mycroft frowned, eyed him once more then slipped back into car, and then it glided off into the traffic. Rising to his full height, there at the top right hand corner of his eyes, John caught the twinkle of sunrays catching metal; he looked up and saw the backs of several armed snipers. He growled.
Snipers. Roof top.
“Hm? Oh. Mycroft’s men, he would have you shot if you made a wrong move on either him, or me. A precaution.” Sherlock said as he continued the way down the street, the people clearing around him with the aid of a great beast trailing behind him.
A precaution?! He would have shot me!
John’s voice rang out in his head, and he almost winced at the tone, “Relax John. I have the utmost faith in you, that’s why I bought you.”
Sensitive. “Fine. Okay, rescued you."
“Rude.” Sherlock commented, but not without a smile. They turned round a corner then stopped before a door at the junction of a busy street; Sherlock pulled out a key and unlocked the door, pushing the door open as he hollered, “Mrs. Hudson!!!”
John’s ears rang with the echo of Sherlock’s shout, but before he could recover, another scream pierced his sensitive ears. An elderly woman in a purple dress stood under the arch of a door at the end of the hallway, waving her gloved hands around. He drew his ears shut and listened at the agitated conversation through muffled hearing.
“This is John.”
“He’s a dragon!”
“Well, yes. I can see that. Problem?”
“Problem!? Young man! I don’t know if the stairs can take his weight!” The elderly lady pointed towards the wooden stairs. John smiled at the lady’s words, relieved that the distress emanating from her is about the stairs, not because he is a dragon.
“Oh, if you’re worried about that, you don’t have to.”
“Why? Oh no. You didn't.”
“Sherlock Holmes! You’ll be the death of me! If anything happens, I’ll put it on your rent!”
Sherlock smiled and turned back towards the opened door, “John. This is Mrs. Hudson, she is our landlady.”
Time to buy into her good books.
John tilted his head in greeting, and widened his eyes, flapping his wings in addition to look cute. And it worked, apparently he must have looked like a blacken puppy with wings because the elderly woman surged forward and cooed at him, a large winged fire breathing beast that went to war.
“Come in, John! Don’t be shy. Would you like to have a small snack? Is scones fine with you? I just made a batch.”
John smiled, in what he hoped was a smile and nodded as he stepped into the threshold of the cozy flat, the carpeted ground under him was soft under his claws and he finally noticed he is leaving streaks of black prints on the ground.
I need a bath.
Sherlock smirked, “Upstairs. Close the door, will you?”
“Right, you boys head upstairs, I’ll make some tea. But only this once, I’m not your housekeeper!” Mrs. Hudson chimed and disappeared into her flat.
John curled his tail around the door knob and pulled it close then placed a foot on the stair step, and when it didn't crumble under his weight, he placed another, and when nothing happened, he trotted upstairs with Sherlock following.
Well, this could be very nice. Very nice indeed. John said after nudging the door open with his foot.
“My thoughts exactly,” Sherlock said behind him, shucking off his coat.
As soon as we got all these rubbish cleaned out. John said as he snuffed his snout into a soft armchair.
“So I moved straight in.”
John looked up and met Sherlock’s gaze. So, this is all…
“I could clean up a bit.” Sherlock said, picking up several issues of magazines and throwing them into a wooden crate, he gathered a bunch of letters and stabbed it through the mantle with a knife.
That is a skull. John stated using his tail to point at the grinning skull on the mantle.
“A friend,” Sherlock said, twirling around, picking up papers, and dumping them hazardously into a box, “And when I say, friend...”
“Yoo hoo!” Mrs. Hudson chirped, stepping into 221B with a tray of food and a copy of today’s newspaper. John perked at the scent of buttery sweetness and the calming smell of well brewed tea. He padded to the kitchen where the elderly woman is shuffling beakers and measuring cups aside to settle the tray when she said, “John, you need a bath.”
John looked down at himself and then, made a huffing sound that meant ‘later’. He opened his jaws and made a move to gobble a scone from the pile when a hand smelling of rose hand cream covered his snout. He huffed a gust of hot air against the hand, and his snout was swiped; almost in reprimand. God knows what the elderly lady went through for her to have the guts to swipe a dragon’s snout, but when one lives under one roof with Sherlock Holmes, John guess a dragon is nothing compared to it.
“No, bath now, food later. If you’re worried the food disappearing when you come back, there's no need to be, Sherlock doesn't eat much. Such unhealthy habits. You should help him a bit.” Mrs. Hudson chastised, “Now, go on. You’re making prints on the carpet. And I’m not cleaning it up.” She said and left.
John huffed resigned, and trotted towards the sound of water which led him to the bathroom. He made an inquiring sound as he stood in the center of the bathroom.
Sherlock appeared moments later at the doorway of the opened bathroom door with today’s newspaper clutched in his hand, “What?”
What the hell is that? Is that human toes?! John stared at the floating severed appendages in the tub.
“Ah yes. It’s an experiment. No matter,” Sherlock said flinging the newspaper down the hallway and stride pass John, and turned on the showerhead, “Now, I assume you need help bathing.”
Well, obviously. John sputtered when a deluge of water came spraying over him, he glared at Sherlock as the man stood with a hand at his hips, the showerhead in his hand, looking bored. I’m not going to get any cleaner if you do that.
“Oh, is that so?”
John huffed and the heat of it made the water evaporate into steam.