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Once More, With Feeling

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"…and she's a vegetarian, which makes sense because, as I said, she's a veterinarian. She loves animals! Just adores them! And I remembered how much you loved dogs as a boy so I said to myself, Emma, I said, this girl would be perfect for John-"

John sighed and rubbed at his eyes. Back when he had first met Sherlock, the man had deduced that he was not close to his family. This was not altogether true. In fact, sometimes he was too close to his family. His mother, in particular, who could carry on lengthy conversations by herself. She was a sweet woman, but much like every other Watson, there were things she simply did in excess. For his father it had been smoking, for his sister drinking, for himself a spot of gambling (though it was only a spot, honest!) and for his mother it was talking.

And possibly meddling.

"-so is Friday, fine?"

John blinked, stunned, realizing that the diatribe had concluded and that there was now a question for him to answer, "Um, sorry?"

"For dinner! So you can meet Mary!"

John's head reared back and he was thankful she couldn't see his face, "Mary? Dinner?"

Mrs. Watson giggled, "Oh darling, it's as if you weren't even listening! I asked if you would like to come to dinner this Friday to meet Mary! Like I said, she's very attractive and sweet and as a matter of fact I think you knew her back when you two were in primary."

"What's her last name?"

"Morstan, dear. Mary Morstan."

"Mary Mud?" John asked but it was more a statement of abject horror. He remembered the girl now. Yes, he had indeed known her from when they were growing up. The nickname she had acquired had been fitting in oh so many ways, the main reason had been the fact that she had loved to play in the mud. She had also loved to eat it.

A tutting sound greeted his ears, "Now, John, that isn't very nice!"

"Mum, that's what we used to call her, she, she..."

"Yes, yes, I know. She mentioned it, matter of fact, but dear, that was so long ago! How would you like it if she brought up some of the silly things you used to do? Now, come on! Friday? Can you come?"

John decided that there was no 'possibly' about it - his mother was a meddler of the first order. He rubbed at his eyes again, "I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Why on earth not?"

"Mum…" John trailed off and a million responses popped into his head but none of them appropriate. Luckily, Mrs. Watson, as was her vice, did the talking for both of them, "I just want you to be happy, you know that, don't you? After all, Harriet is happy. Quite happy. She's been going to her therapy and staying away from the bottle - last I heard she was talking with Clara again! They're most likely going to reconcile and there you'll be, all alone, at their second civil ceremony! And a man of your advancing age-"

John nearly dropped the phone at this bit, stunned, mouth flapping silently - he wasn't that old!

"-having no one to take care of him and love him and it's just silly, because you're so sweet and dear and I truly think you won't be happy unless you have someone special and I want you to have someone special! Mary could be that someone special! I think the two of you would make a lovely pair and I-"

John put the phone down, knowing his mother would be fine without him for a while, so he could bury his face in his hands and muffle a scream. The woman was going to be the death of him. Then Sherlock walked into the room carrying two suspicious looking black bags and asked, "Have you seen my sulfuric acid?"

John looked up and let out groan. Oh. That's right. That job was taken.

Sherlock looked at the phone, then back at him, "Mother calling?"

"How-?" John shook his head and picked the phone back up, choosing the lesser of two evils, "Mum, sorry, may have missed the last bit. Sherlock walked in with a couple of questions."

Sherlock left and Mrs. Watson, who had apparently got herself worked into a proper fit, let out a sobbing sound, "Oh John, why can't you be happy?"

"I am happy, Mum."

"But you're not in love! You don't have someone! I'm going to die one day and no one will be there and I can't bear it!" Her voice had started squeaking and John rolled his eyes knowing he would have to assuage her and before he knew it the words were out of his mouth, "I do have someone, Mother."

She let out a watery sound, "You-you-you do?"

"Yes, Mum, don't forget, there's always Sherlock." He said this without thinking. It had been partially a joke, but his mother (being his mother) took it in an entirely different direction, "Sh-Sherlock? Sh…Oh. Oh! OH!"

The next sound she let out was an ear piercing squeal. John had to hold the phone away from his ear. When he brought it back her voice was high pitched with joy, "Darling! Why didn't you tell me! Of course, of course, of course! Sherlock! I knew you two were living together, but I didn't know - oh, how long have you been together, you know, officially?"

John, confused, replied, "Mum, you know it's been about over a year now, getting close to two…"

"You mean it was right away? I thought he was your flatmate first?"

"What?"

"I mean I don't care if it was right away! I'm not judging you! In fact, come to think of it, it makes perfect sense! You know you always were a head first kind of boy and when I read those blogs of yours aloud to your father he rather thought there was something there."

"What?" John repeated and suddenly he felt sick to his stomach, a hysteria starting to build.

"I bet he's a nice young man, hmm? He sounds awfully intelligent. He certainly wouldn't eat mud, so that's good - not that Mary does anymore, mind, but still, I can rather see why you've made your choice. And he's handsome, yes? And he takes care of you? I know you take care of him so he must, and, oh, I am so relieved. So happy! So now you and he must come to dinner this Friday! I want to see you both!"

John didn't know what was happening. Or, worse, he knew exactly what was happening. He started laughing weakly, "Mum, ah, no, no…you-you misunderstood me. Sherlock and I, we-we aren't…"

"Is it a secret? Is that it? Oh John, I don't care if you're involved with a man! Your father won't either! You know we both just want you to be happy! We were happy for Harriet, weren't we?"

"Mum…it's, Sherlock, it's…not-not like that…"

There was a terrible silence. Then, "John…do you…do you not want him to meet me?"

John deflated, "Oh Mum…"

"I would very much like to meet him. I promise I won't embarrass you. Your father won't either! I just…I worry about you so much and if I could see you with someone, see you happy and content and taken care of, I think I could die happy."

"Mum, you're not dying!"

"We're all dying, dear! Every day! And what's worse is, it could happen out of nowhere! I could go out to get some beans and the next thing you know..."

John couldn't believe what he practically shouted next, "Fine! Fine! Friday it is!"

Mrs. Watson gasped, "You mean it?"

"Yes, Mum, yes…we'll…we'll be there…"

"And you won't…you won't be embarrassed to introduce-"

"No, Mum. I won't be embarrassed by you," And then before she could, he added, "Or Dad."

"And you'll…you won't be shy, will you? Harriet was so terribly shy when she first brought Clara over-"

John gritted his teeth, "We'll be the happiest, most open couple you've ever seen."

Part of him hoped she would pick up on the thick sarcasm but instead she replied in the most sparkling of voices, "Wonderful, wonderful! Oh, I am so excited, John! So excited! I can't wait to meet your wonderful, wonderful man and put my mind at ease!"

"Me too." John managed to whisper and he wished the conversation could have ended there but, again, being her vice, Mrs. Watson now continued on an entirely new path of conversation, this one about the kind of dinner she would prepare for them. John looked at a nearby clock. It was around noon. She would most likely continue on this path for another half hour before she would finally stop.

He half listened, trying to think of how he had gotten himself into this situation and, moreover, how he was supposed to talk Sherlock into playing along this Friday. As far as he could tell he was well and properly fucked.

 

+

 

"No. Absolutely not."

"Sherlock, please. I'd consider it a personal favor."

"I have no interest in doing you favors. Hand me that pipette."

John automatically reached for the pipette then stopped himself, folding his arms and leaning back against the refrigerator, "No. I have no interest in doing you a personal favor."

Sherlock pulled away from his microscope and narrowed his eyes at John, "Childish."

"Fits."

Sherlock sighed and reached out to his left to retrieve the nearby pipette himself, "I am not being childish by refusing to go along with your charade. I simply have no desire to travel to your boyhood home and pretend that you and I are involved in an intimate relationship merely to appease your mother."

"Of who you thought I was not close to," John rubbed in, "You asked me if you got anything wrong that day and I let that slide. I pointed out the mistake about Harry because it was glaring but I let the other go to save your ego, so, the least you could do is-"

"There was no need." Sherlock interrupted, "I have no ego to bruise."

The disbelieving scoff John let out made Sherlock's eyes narrow. He returned his attention back to the microscope while John took a deep breath, trying to think of a way to convince Sherlock to help him. He had already had to suffer through several aborted attempts of asking Sherlock for this favor before he had finally managed to get the words out and now, with the situation finally fully explained (and in excruciating detail, no less), part of John had hoped that Sherlock, for once, would be a normal person and show some sympathy.

Really he should have known better.

"Look, Sherlock, this means a lot to her and I-"

"Wrong. You don't want your mother to know you lied to her. What's more, you don't want her to know that you are single and thus available for her to play matchmaker. This means far more to you than it does to her."

"Okay, alright, fine, it does mean a lot to me and as my friend-"

"Colleague."

"What?"

Sherlock didn't look up from the microscope but somehow John could sense that his eyes were becoming chilly, "After I introduced us as friends, you told Sebastian we were colleagues."

"Seba…that was ages ago!"

"I have an excellent memory."

"You can't even remember when it's your own birthday!"

"I have an excellent memory for important matters."

"That was an important matter?"

Sherlock did pull away from the microscope this time to look at John and yes, indeed, his eyes were chilly. John chewed on his bottom lip and scratched at the back of his neck, frustrated and at a loss for words before managing, "I'm sorry, alright? I'm sorry that ages ago I told Sebastian we were colleagues instead of friends. We are friends, okay?"

Sherlock's face didn't change but his eyes thawed considerably. Unfortunately for him, John caught this, "And as friends, it's not unreasonable for me to ask my friend for a favor. A huge favor, yes, but a favor nonetheless."

Sherlock crossed his own arms now, his eyes darting about, and John at last felt some hope, recognizing this as a sign that the consulting detective was now at least considering it. Finally he spoke, "It's so terribly pedestrian. Meeting the parents. So domestic. Ungodly in its insipidness."

"I'll make it up to you, I promise."

"That too, is a problem; you have nothing to offer me in return."

John grimaced, "I'm sure you'll think of something."

"You owing me a favor is a considerable boon, to be sure, but does it truly outweigh the negative consequences I would face in wasting an entire evening in the presence of your no doubt tedious relatives?"

Now it was John's turn to have chilly eyes, "My parents are many things but they are not tedious. I love them both and I don't-"

Sherlock waved him off, "Oh, stop it. The last thing I need is for you to become overly defensive. I am sure your sires have some intriguing qualities. They did produce you, after all, and you are not without your…charm."

The last was said in such a way that John couldn't decide whether or not to be offended, so instead, he offered, "Tell you what, you do this for me, you play along, and I'll let you do that one dreadful experiment you've been talking about for months."

"And which one would that be?"

John swallowed, blushing, "The one where you, um, a-attach the electrodes to, ah, parts of me. To-to measure…um…"

Sherlock raised an eyebrow at this, "When I first proposed that particular experiment you informed me that it was highly inappropriate for me to even suggest it aloud. You also said you would never take part in such a demeaning bit of research."

"Yes, well, I'm desperate!" John returned with quick flippancy then sobered, "Sherlock, please. Do this for me."

There was a long silence. Sherlock got to his feet, paced a few steps, fingers steepled together in thought. John did his best to be patient. Sherlock stopped pacing and reached into one of the top kitchen cupboards to draw out a strange looking container. He set it down next to his microscope and John's curiosity got the better of him. He looked inside and winced as he was greeted with the sight of several bugs crawling over one another, their tiny legs working fitfully as they tried to figure out how to escape their confinement.

John was about to ask what the nasty little blighters were for when Sherlock met his gaze dead on, "You'll perform the experiment without complaint?"

"Yes."

"And you'll fill out a questionnaire afterwards?"

"Of course."

"You will also allow me use of your laptop whenever I see fit for the next six months without one word." Sherlock did not even ask this as a question, instead stating it as demand.

"I…fine."

"And I will be allowed to request one additional favor from you in the future, one as yet unspecified, that you will have to fulfill no matter what the perceived cost."

"Sherlock, I'm asking you for one favor, not three…"

"Let's see, first, I must travel to your home. Second, I must ingratiate myself to your mother and father. Third, I must perform in a farce in which-"

"Alright, alright, alright! Yeah, fine, okay, whatever you want!" John huffed, hands gesticulating wildly. Sherlock smirked, "Very well. I believe we've struck an accord."

"Good, great, wonderful." John muttered unhappily. He stormed out of the kitchen and went up to his room. He threw himself on his bed and tried to ignore the fact that he was having the kind of proper sulk that was more befitting to someone in their formative years.

Staring at his ceiling he tried to picture the future. Friday in particular. He couldn't see how it wouldn't turn out to be a complete disaster. He knew he should call his mother - he knew he should come clean. But if he did, that meant going on a date with Mary Mud and whoever else his Mum managed to scrounge up.

He had only managed to avoid her this long due to her belief that he needed to 'recover' from his time in the Army. Now that she had deemed that that time was over she would be sending every eligible woman drawing breath his way. Unless…

John buried his face into his pillow. Maybe it wouldn't be that bad, pretending Sherlock was his, as his Mother had put it, someone special. Sherlock wasn't all that bad. Maybe…

Sherlock came into his room, "John, that container of dung beetles I was experimenting on has inadvertently upended. The insects are running rampant in the kitchen. I require your assistance in recapturing them."

John groaned loudly, the sound mostly muffled. There was no maybe about it; there was no need to try to picture his future. It was going to be far more than a complete disaster. It was going to be a colossal nightmare.