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Vocabulary Lessons with Sherlock and John

Chapter Text

1. Flummery: n. 1. Meaningless or deceptive language; 2. Any of several soft, sweet, bland foods, such as custard

Although Sherlock rarely ate while on a case, John had learned one trick to get carbs into his body and rush sugar to his remarkable brain during their longer jobs: strawberry Angel Delight. If John placed a bowl of the pinkish fluff in front of Sherlock he would eat it, no matter what else he was doing at the time.

(John had even caught him eating the powder directly out of the package with a spoon on a few occasions. Any time Sherlock ate without prompting was a small victory so John stayed silent on the quirk.)

During his game of wits with Moriarty, Sherlock had already gone a couple days without food when he solved the mystery of the fake Vermeer painting and set about sending John to continue investigating Andrew West’s death.

“No,” John had said when he’d first been told to leave the art museum and see to Mycroft’s case so he would stop texting the pair of them. “Not until I see you eat something.”

“But, John,” Sherlock whined, “The pattern: he’ll call again. I can’t let your silly belief in regular meals slow down my mind when that happens.” He wrinkled his nose in distaste as he turned away from his flatmate.

“I don’t care. You’re eating; it’s good for you,” John said, “Food’ll keep your insides from turning into mush. I’m a doctor, so you know that’s true.” John smiled innocently. “Either way, I’m not leaving until I see something high in either fat or sugar go into your mouth and not come out.”

Sherlock went from glaring to pleading in a moment, “John, I don’t have time, and you know I won’t eat anything you can find around here. Please just go so I can finish up here with Lestrade.” He pouted, and John had to force himself to look away from Sherlock’s lips.

Instead of arguing further, John reached inside his coat pocket and removed a packet of Angel Delight which he firmly pressed into Sherlock’s hand. “Don’t act like you don’t want it, so just eat it, alright?” John said. The detective nodded mutely. John smiled, “Okay, good. Let me know if you get another message.” Then he turned and walked out the door.


2. Marmoreal: adj. Of or relating to or characteristic of marble

            Even after a year of living with Sherlock, John was still astounded by just how pale the man’s skin was, almost translucent at points where his pale, blue veins showed through. If John had ever met one of those sparkly vampires from those books half his teenage patients seemed to be reading, he knew Sherlock Holmes was it. So John was always shocked by how warm Sherlock’s skin felt to the touch and how flexible he could be, sometimes wrapping himself around John in the oddest configurations when they lay together on the sofa or in bed.

            Then, on a particularly cold day while chasing a particularly reckless suspect, Sherlock ended up in the Thames; he had at least had the forethought to remove his coat before going in and thus it was the only dry article he had on when Lestrade caught up with the duo and the apprehended man. John watched as his partner pulled the greatcoat tighter across his torso as water droplets splashed down from his dark curls onto his collar, and a sympathetic shiver ran down his spine.

            “Are you alright, John,” Sherlock asked, his keen eyes trained on the doctor’s face.

            “I’m fine. But I want to get you out of those wet clothes,” John answered softly.

“I don’t know how Lestrade would feel about our more… carnal activities happening right in front of him, but if you really need to I’m sure—” A smile danced across his lips when John cut him off.

“Sherlock, you know that isn’t what I meant! I am honestly worried about you suffering from hypothermia; your lips are starting to go blue,” John said as he gripped Sherlock around his biceps and let his thumbs stroke back and forth unconsciously.

“Then let’s go home, John.”

After simply nodding to Lestrade, John pulled Sherlock into a cab and took Sherlock’s ice cold hands in his as he muttered, “Of all the stupid, impulsive, reckless things you could have done, you had to jump in the river in the middle of December just to catch a jewel thief.” Sherlock nodded weakly, his whole body wracked with tiny tremors as shallow breaths hissed in and out of his mouth. John fretted as he looked Sherlock over and paused at how paper white his skin had turned.

They arrived at Baker Street and John paid the cabbie before rushing Sherlock to their bedroom and swiftly divesting him of his soaked clothing, and then pushing him under the thick eiderdown comforter. John considered going to put the kettle on for tea, but instead he stripped down to his boxers, slid between the bedclothes, and pressed his body against Sherlock’s shivering form, flinching only the slightest bit as clammy, chilled skin pressed against him.

“You do know that you haven’t got nearly enough body fat to cope with being this cold, right?” John asked as he ran his fingers along Sherlock’s vertebrae.

“Thank you, John,” his shivering partner muttered as his eyelids fluttered shut.

“Just, think it through next time,” John whispered as he pressed a gentle kiss to Sherlock’s marble-cold shoulder.


3. Interdigitate: v. To fold or lock together, as when the fingers of one hand are laced together with those of another

John and Sherlock had been involved for a little over a month and had avoided anyone finding out beyond Mrs. Hudson—who would have to be deaf not to realize their relationship had definitely progressed to a new level—and Mycroft—who sent them a congratulatory gift basket the morning after which included tea, chocolate, and a rather wide array of personal lubricants. They had been especially careful around Lestrade, who had actually taken John aside in the hospital and told him just to tell Sherlock how he felt once they finally got home, or “Hell, go in there right now and say you can’t imagine life without him and that you think you should start having lots of really great sex when his stitches are out.”

John had, of course, shot down the idea immediately, saying that there was no way Sherlock would go for it and that he had already made himself very clear about his openness to a physical relationship with anyone, let alone John.

So the two men had done everything within their power to avoid rousing the suspicion of the Detective Inspector which had become increasingly more difficult the more time the three spent in each others’ company. Then, after a night of running through dark alleyways and avoiding gunfire, Lestrade had asked John to join him for a pint and Sherlock, lacking anything better to do now he didn’t have a case, tagged along and looked extremely out of his element in the little pub they found down the street.

As the night wore on, after John had had just enough lager to make the edges of his mind go fuzzy, he let himself revel in the sound of Sherlock describing a recent experiment involving several types of pollen, a pickled ear, and some boric acid. As his mind wandered he let his eyes settle on his partner’s smooth, white hand lying on the table between them. Almost as though his hand moved of its own volition he reached for it, and unconsciously Sherlock turned his palm up so their fingers could lace together as he continued his explanation to Lestrade.

The Detective Inspector made no mention of what he had just witnessed, but he smiled. Donovan owed him twenty quid.


4. Sternutation: n. The act of sneezing

When Sherlock got sick, he tended to do it rather brilliantly, which only made sense as it happened so rarely and Sherlock Holmes never did anything half-way. Home with what should have been a simple cold with mild fever, John walked in to find him looking half-dead as he snuggled into a pillow and coughed for a minute straight. Setting the tea he had brought with him on the night stand, John ran a hand over Sherlock’s forehead and down to the back of his neck, feeling the fever that lived there.

Knowing he would get a smart remark John asked, “How are you feeling? Any change from the morning?”

“Wad do you ding?” Sherlock mumbled hoarsely before devolving into a fit of coughing once more. After he managed to regain his breath he moaned pitifully and pulled his blanket over his head. “Jus kill me now, John. Put me oud ob my misery,” Sherlock said, the sound slightly muffled by the blanket.

“You’ll be fine,” John said as he pulled down the blanket and stared at the matted curls on the back of his flatmate’s head. “Now sit up, you need to drink something or you’ll dehydrate and die.” John lifted the mug of tea and placed it in Sherlock’s hands, watching as he took a small sip followed by a slightly larger one.

Sherlock moved to return the tea to the bedside table but John crossed his arms over his chest as he glared. “Nope, you have to drink all of it, then you can go back to sleep.” The two men locked eyes, each waiting for the other to back down until Sherlock slowly lifted the mug to his lips and drained it of its contents. Immediately John took the mug and set it down, a smile on his face as he said, “See, not so bad. You can go back to wallowing for the rest—”

And then Sherlock quite suddenly, also loudly and moistly, sneezed directly into John’s face. The detective simply reached for one of the tissues on his side table and handed it to the doctor, who dabbed at his face.

“Funnily enough,” John said, “That wasn’t the first time that’s happened to me today. But the other time the patient was four and my mouth was closed.”

“Sorry,” Sherlock said as he slid down on his pillow and returned his blanket to its rightful place just below his chin.

“No, you’re not, but thanks for trying,” John said with a sigh as he picked up the mug again and moved to the door. He flipped off the lights as he went and added, “Just get some sleep.”


5. Apodictic: adj. Demonstrative; incontestable because demonstrated or demonstrable; of the nature of necessary proof.

            Sherlock Holmes saw everything, absolutely everything. Only on the rarest of occasions did he miss a minor detail, and even less frequently did he miss a crucial one. John Watson knew this, and it quite frankly terrified him because some things were meant to be private and living with Sherlock meant confidentiality had become a thing of John’s past. His only sanctuary was his bedroom, which Sherlock had promised not to intrude upon unless absolutely necessary.

            But John found himself in their shared spaces more than anywhere else, since he liked being around his flatmate, which he really should have taken as a sign. Sherlock certainly had.

Even though he never commented on it, Sherlock spent a good deal of time paying particular attention to the habits and mannerisms of his closest—and in all honesty only—friend. He saw how John shut down when he talked to his sister on the phone, giving only the most cursory of responses. He noticed the way John fidgeted on their cab rides across the city and how the movements slowly ate up the space between them in the seat. He took in the slight tremor in John’s left hand and the recurring limp whenever their lives got too quiet. He spotted the stares, both the distant ones that trapped John in memories from a few thousand miles away and the tense ones that focused hotly upon the consulting detective. He even perceived the slight change in John’s respiration rate when they came into contact; the sharp intake of breath followed by stillness and then a slow exhalation that made Sherlock’s skin tingle.

From all this—and so much, oh so much more—he had deduced that John Watson found him attractive. He had first thought that his pronouncement upon their first outing to Angelo’s had perhaps been one of his rare misreads, but now he knew he was right, whether or not John was aware of such feelings at the time. After so many months of dancing around each other, Sherlock wanted to say something, but he knew the time wasn’t right. John had Sarah, and while any idiot could see that it wouldn’t ever work out for them, Sherlock did not want to have that particular conversation with John just now.

Then an explosion blew out their windows and they were pulled into a case that kept Sherlock from thinking about heated glances and held breaths. But he still knew. He had the proof before him as the ex-Army doctor did everything Sherlock asked without question.

It was with that knowledge that Sherlock went to the pool, those thoughts locked up tight in his chest.

Chapter Text

1. Purlicue: n. The space between the extended thumb and index finger

“What are you staring at my hands for?” Sherlock asked, mostly confused and only mildly irritated by John’s unwavering attention for the past seventeen minutes. Although he very much enjoyed attention from John, the sudden, undisguised lust and longing that the doctor now had for him was taking some getting used to. John remained silent, flicking his tongue out between his lips as he continued to stare at Sherlock’s long, pale fingers which had stopped their intricate dance across the keyboard of John’s laptop.

Twitching his forefinger as he stood, Sherlock crossed to John’s place on the sofa, and took John’s face in his hands. “John, you know this is the one part I need your words for,” he whispered as he stared into his partner’s unblinking eyes, the rim of blue so thin around the wide, black pupil. “John, please.”

Slowly, John focused his gaze before lifting his left hand to place it over Sherlock’s right. “Sherlock, you play the violin,” John said.

“Yes, so?” the consulting detective asked as he continued to work out exactly why John was so aroused by his hands at the moment.

“You’re very… dexterous,” he said, then seeing that Sherlock still did not fully comprehend he added, “It makes your hands extremely sexy. I mean, god, the things you can do with your fingers—” Here John cut himself off, blushing profusely.

“Oh,” Sherlock said. Nothing else, just the perfect rounding of his lips as he pushed air past his vocal cords to resonate in his open mouth; just “Oh.” Then John removed Sherlock’s hands from his face and looked at them again, running his fingers over his palms, feeling the smooth lines of his straight fingers and the slight widening at the knuckle, the fleshy pad at the base of his thumb. Sherlock let his eyes close as John delicately pinched the soft web of skin between his forefinger and thumb. Another softer, purred, “Oh!” escaped from his lips.

His eyes still closed, Sherlock felt John lift his hand, and then mildly chapped lips pressed against that web of skin. This was followed by the soft, wet warmth of a tongue tracing from the base of the finger to the thumb, then the gentlest suckling at pliant flesh. Sherlock snapped his eyes open to watch John hold his hand in his mouth as he felt the minute scrape of teeth against his skin. Slowly, John opened his lips and slid his tongue along Sherlock’s forefinger before whispering, “Come with me,” as he stood, leading Sherlock by the hand up the stairs.



2. Borborygmus: n. The rumbling noise caused by movement of gas through the intestines

They had a case, which meant Sherlock hadn’t eaten in more than a day, and he had prevented John from eating for the past sixteen hours. They were both running on coffee, and without food to temper it, John’s digestive tract had started to rebel.

Lestrade had just phoned that they had found another body, and the pair sat in the back of a cab, rushing to the crime scene; Sherlock stared thoughtfully out the window while John looked downward, contemplating the state of his stomach. He gritted his teeth against the hollowness he felt coupled with the discomfort of acidic coffee and air bubbles slithering through his insides.

“Sherlock,” he said, “After we’re finished at the crime scene we’re stopping somewhere, because I need a sandwich.” The consulting detective turned to him and narrowed his eyes, his mouth set in a thin line. “Just because you can run on ideas, excitement, and caffeine doesn’t mean that I can,” John said.

Then, as if to emphasize his point, a high-pitched, whining rumble emitted from John’s abdomen. Sherlock raised an eyebrow at the noise before expelling a solitary, breathy giggle.

“What?” John asked as he crossed his arms over his stomach.

“It’s nothing,” Sherlock answered with a smile on his lips. John glowered. “It’s just, it sounds like you’ve got a tiny wolf in there.” He giggled again. This time John joined him.



3. Susurrous: adj. Whispering, rustling; full of whispering sounds

“You may need this,” Mycroft said as he handed a handkerchief to his brother when the car pulled to a stop in front of 221 Baker Street. Sherlock rolled his eyes but accepted the square of cloth from his brother. Neither said anything else as Sherlock stepped out of the car and strolled into his flat. After closing the door behind him he took the stairs two at a time, rushing to the bedroom where he found John curled up on his side, back to the door. The doctor’s shoulder’s shook, and Sherlock crossed to the bed, circling it slowly.

Crouching down, he put his face level with John’s. Tears stained his husband’s cheeks, but none currently streamed from his eyes; he simply drew in one rattling breath after another. Sherlock reached out with the handkerchief, dabbing away the remaining dampness on John’s face. “What’s wrong?” he whispered.

John squeezed his eyes shut. “Bad day at work,” he answered, “Had a kid with tachycardia in today; he’d been stable, then his heart rate doubled in about five seconds and it gave out. I couldn’t save him.” He sniffed deeply, and Sherlock pressed the handkerchief into his hand.

“I’m sorry, Love,” Sherlock said, keeping his voice soft. “I’m so sorry.” He leaned forward and placed a kiss on John’s forehead. Then he asked, “What do you need me to do?”

“Just stay with me,” John said, his voice so small in the dim room, “Hold me.”

And Sherlock did. He moved, sliding onto the bed behind John and wrapping him up in his arms. “You’re still a good doctor, John,” he said in a hushed tone, “This wasn’t your fault. I love you and this wasn’t your fault.” John shuddered against Sherlock as he spoke, small gasps coming from his mouth as he turned so he could bury his face in his husband’s chest.

Sherlock stroked John’s hair and whispered softly for the rest of the night.



4. Corybantic: adj. Frenetic, ecstatic, and orgiastic

John pushed Sherlock up against their bullet-riddled wall after dragging him into the flat. He pulled the taller man’s head down so their lips met, and immediately John snaked his tongue into Sherlock’s mouth. His hands moved along Sherlock’s chest, sliding lower and lower until they settled on narrow hips. Sherlock tangled his fingers into the short hair at the nape of John’s neck and let himself lean forward, pressing into the kiss.

When Sherlock finally pulled his mouth away from John’s, his hands had found their way up the back of John’s jumper, cool palms pressed against heated skin. “John,” he murmured, “John…”

“Yes, Sherlock,” he answered as he nipped at the detective’s exposed collarbone, “Whatever it is, yes.” He stopped and tilted his head up in order to look into Sherlock’s heavy-lidded eyes.

Ragged breaths sparsely filled their lungs, neither sure if the adrenaline from their very recent case or their current escapade was the cause. John moved his hands, nimble fingers undoing the buttons of Sherlock’s shirt as he placed small kisses against each new inch of exposed flesh. He tugged the tails of the deep purple shirt from the waistband of Sherlock’s trousers, and just as his fingers grazed the button of his flies, he heard the gentle sound of a vibrating mobile.

Sherlock sucked in a shaky breath as he reached into his pocket and fished out his phone. “Hello,” he said, keeping his tone even. John watched his eyebrows knit together as he listened. “Lestrade, we just finished a case for you… What do you mean we have the wrong man?”

John found himself leaning up, tilting his ear towards the speaker of the mobile.

“I told you there was an accomplice, Greg,” Sherlock said with a snarl, “So, maybe accomplice can also mean co-murderer.” Then Sherlock’s eyes went wide, and John knew he wasn’t getting any sleep or sex tonight. “How many more bodies have you found? We only left,” he glanced at the clock, “Half an hour ago, how could you possibly have three more bodies?” He paused, listening to the Detective Inspector speak before adding, “Alright, John and I will be there as quickly as we can.” He slipped the phone back into his pocket and smiled, all the way up to his eyes, as he began to re-button his shirt. “Let’s go, John, we’ve got a serial killer on our hands.”

John sighed as he shook his head and followed the man he loved back out the door.



5. Nimiety: n. A quantity that is much larger than needed

“Sherlock, why is our fridge full of milk?” John asked, annoyed that all their food (not that there was much anyway) had been pushed to the back of the refrigerator, bottles of milk completely blocking it all from view. He had just wanted jam for his toast. Now he was going to have to drink a dozen liters of milk before he had any hope of finding it. That, or start putting out saucers for kittens in the alley.

“Sherlock!” John called again, “Why is our fridge full of milk?” He closed the door before any more of the cold escaped into the flat and turned to look at the sofa where Sherlock had been sitting only a few minutes before only to see he had vanished again. Instead of wandering the flat to find him, John yelled, “Dammit, Sherlock! Why is our perpetually empty refrigerator suddenly overflowing with milk?”

Then John heard the toilet flushing and he huffed out a small breath. Sherlock entered the sitting room with a smirk on his face. “I’m sorry, John, but I didn’t think that your going into the kitchen was reason enough to prevent me from emptying my bladder.”

“Milk, Sherlock,” John said, “Why?” He watched as Sherlock crossed to the sofa and flopped down. The detective smiled up at his partner.

“You always ask me to pick up milk, John,” he answered. John seethed, but the serene smile remained on Sherlock’s lips.

“Is this supposed to be some kind of ploy to get me to stop asking you to get the milk, Sherlock? I thought we had moved past this.” Although he kept his face stern, John’s tone betrayed his distress.

“Of course it’s not, John,” Sherlock answered as he stood and crossed to take John’s hands. “It’s our anniversary,” he said softly.

“No, it’s not,” John said as his eyebrows arched and confusion filled his voice. “It is very much not our anniversary; I thought we promised that we were moving on from him. No more talking about you-know-what or you-know-who.”

Sherlock turned away as he spoke, “I know, but it was the first time you— And the first time I… John, I know you count from the day we defined our relationship, and from our wedding, but that day, it was the first time you told me you loved me.” John opened his mouth to speak, but Sherlock shushed him by placing a palm on his cheek and stroking his thumb over John’s lips. “Not with words, but everything you offered to do that night, everything you did that night, everything you had done for that case already, including yelling at me for being horrible and inconsiderate of the other lives at stake: that told me that you loved me.” He cleared his throat.

“And it was the first time I told you. We just happened to be falling into a swimming pool and there were multiple gunshots as I said it, so I can understand why you might not remember it.” Then he leaned forward and pressed his forehead against John’s. “I just wanted to make up for all the times I said I’d pick up the milk and didn’t do it.”

“You idiot,” John said as he gave his husband a sympathetic smile, “It figures that your attempt at a big, romantic gesture would leave us with a large amount of soured milk.” He pressed a quick kiss to Sherlock’s lips. “But thank you,” he said and wrapped his arms around Sherlock. “I hope you know how to make cheese,” he added with a smile as Sherlock leaned down to kiss him back.

“I love you, John.”

Chapter Text

1. Ejulation: n. A wailing; lamentation

Mycroft walked up the stairs to his brother’s flat, his pace quickened by the pitiful moaning he heard coming from the other side of the door. He burst into the room, his umbrella trailing behind him as he crossed to Sherlock curled up on the sofa.

“What was so urgent you had Anthea cancel the rest of my afternoon?” he asked as he sat on the nearest chair. Sherlock wailed again in answer as he pulled his knees closer to his chest. “Sherlock, what did you do?”

Gingerly, Mycroft reached out and placed a hand on Sherlock’s shoulder. His brother shuddered at the contact, shrinking away from Mycroft’s touch. “Sherlock, where’s John?” he asked.

Sherlock moaned in response.

Mycroft pulled out his mobile. “Sherlock, tell me what happened or I’m calling Mummy and you can tell her.” Sherlock finally turned to face his brother. “Where’s John? Why am I here?” he asked softly.

“John left,” Sherlock said in a whisper. “I’ve ruined it.”

“How? When?” Mycroft asked. He slipped his mobile back into his pocket as he scooted to the edge of the chair and placed his hands on his knees.

“I said something stupid. Lots of stupid things. Again. We fought. He left. Last night.” Sherlock drew in a long, shuddering breath as he curled his toes. Folding himself even tighter into a ball, he continued, “I thought he’d be back in the morning. John usually goes out for a night with Lestrade at the pub when we fight, and he comes home drunk around three in the morning, but he comes home.” Closing his eyes to blink back tears, Sherlock sniffled; Mycroft held his blank expression stoically as he waited for his brother to finish. “He’s gone, Mycroft.”

“Sherlock, the man has agreed to marry you. I highly doubt one more fight is going to drive him completely from your life. John just needs time to process things.” Mycroft stood, pulling his mobile from his pocket once more as he crossed to the kitchen. “Besides, nothing terrible has happened to him, so you at least don’t have to worry about that.” He then hit his number three speed dial.

“I know about the security detail, yes,” Sherlock said as he turned again, facing the back of the sofa once more.

Mycroft spoke quickly to Anthea for more information about John’s whereabouts. Peering out the kitchen window, Mycroft frowned. John had spent the night at his sister’s flat before leaving for work an hour earlier than necessary. According to the schedule Anthea had on file, John would get off work in ten minutes.
Exiting the kitchen, Mycroft relayed the basics to Sherlock before asking, “What do you want me to do?”

Sherlock finally unfurled his body and pushed himself into a sitting position. His bloodshot eyes almost blended in to his reddened face. Mycroft had never seen his brother so scarlet, not even when he was wounded and bleeding; it was a sad red. “I don’t know,” Sherlock said in a voice barely above a whisper.

Sitting down beside his brother, Mycroft put an arm around Sherlock, something he hadn’t done since Sherlock had been in primary school. After several tense moments, Sherlock leaned his head against his brother’s shoulder and turned to face inward as he heaved soft, dry sobs. Discreetly, Mycroft sent a text: John, he’s a mess. What happened last night?

Then he turned off the ringer. Only a minute later he received: He was a right twat. I needed to get out and Greg was busy, so I went to Harry’s which I’m sure you knew.

The next one followed soon after: And I’m sure he’s sorry, but he needs to learn to think before he speaks.

Then: I’m coming home now anyway. Don’t tell him.

Mycroft responded immediately with a short: Why not?

I don’t want him to think I’ve forgiven him yet.

Mycroft did not respond after that. He simply held on to his little brother for the twenty minutes it took John to get home. For the first time in many years, Mycroft heard the door open but Sherlock didn’t. Slowly, he dislodged himself from the detective’s grasp and strode out of the room.

He waited on the stairwell in silence until he heard bare feet pad across the room to meet the soft footfalls of shod feet.


2. Perspicacity: n. Acuteness of discernment or understanding; penetration; sagacity

John had found Sherlock’s ability to put together so much about his life from a few observations astonishing. He didn’t have any other words for it, and he couldn’t help being impressed by the man who could tell he’d been an army doctor serving in Afghanistan just from looking at him, as well as all that stuff about Harry and Clara just from his phone.

Then he’d met Sherlock’s archenemy, or at least the man claiming to be his archenemy and he realized how put off most people must feel about Sherlock’s deductions. This man didn’t need to deduce him to suss out his family life or his service record. All that information was already at his fingertips. Instead he used his powers of observation to say the one thing John had been unwilling to admit out loud since waking up in that hospital: He was bored. He needed danger. And right now that came from working with Sherlock Holmes.


3. Xiphoid: adj. Shaped like a sword

Mycroft usually showed up at 221 B when he needed Sherlock to repay a favor, or when he’d just bailed them out of any number of ridiculous situations. Or whenever Mummy sent him to collect Sherlock and John for family gatherings. He never accompanied them on cases.

Except for one particular case. Somehow Sherlock had convinced him it would be worthwhile for the three of them to go together on their own. On that day, following a markedly nasty threat from a Russian mafia organization, Mycroft, Sherlock, and John went together to a particularly seedy warehouse—where they were promptly ambushed, knocked out, and tied to chairs.

As John regained consciousness he heard the Holmes brothers bickering:

“I told you this would happen,” Sherlock said, his voice thick and cloudy to John’s ears.

“No, you did not; I recall you saying that they couldn’t possibly get the slip on all three of us and that it would be perfectly safe. I can’t believe I agreed that it was best we settle this on our own,” Mycroft said.

“Mycroft, I told you they’d go after the two of us, they know who you are and they recognized me by extension, but as long as John managed to get away—”

“I’m right here, Sherlock,” John said from his chair, now knowing that the others could not see him just as he could not see them; he figured they had their backs to one another with enough angle and distance to prevent any man from seeing the other two.

“Damn it, John,” Sherlock moaned, “You were supposed to hang back! Then this would have worked out just fine.” John could hear the look of distaste on his face. “Please say you at least still have your gun.”

“Your brother told me not to bring it since he figured we’d get frisked,” John said as he shifted his hand against the restraints at his wrists. The plastic of the zip-tie bit into his flesh. “Besides, there’s no way I’d still have it now, I’m sure they took anything we could even imagine using as a weapon away from us the minute they had us.”

“I’ve got my umbrella,” Mycroft said.

“No you don’t,” Sherlock said. “There is no way they left your umbrella with you.”

“Well, not quite, but I can see it over in that corner,” Mycroft said, his tone more nasal than normal. “Once we manage to free ourselves I’ll be able to retrieve it easily.”

“Yes, because that will solve all of our problems,” Sherlock said with a verbal eye roll.

“At least I have an asset to bring to the situation beyond my big mouth,” Mycroft said.

John set about finding a way out of his bonds while also ignoring the bickering brothers. After a lot of wiggling and sucking in of his breath, he managed to shimmy out of the ropes that tied him to the chair, and now only had the zip-tie at his wrists. Instead of worrying about it too much, he stood on uneasy legs and made his way over to where Sherlock was sitting. He then set about untying the knots holding his partner to the chair and had them undone rather quickly for having bound hands.

“It appears I’ve been freed,” Sherlock said as he stood, turning quickly about to see who had released him. “John, why didn’t you say anything? And how did you get out?”

“I didn’t want to alert our captors too soon to our attempt at escape,” John said. Then he crossed over to the elder Holmes and freed Mycroft as well. Mycroft promptly went to retrieve his umbrella as soon as he could stand.

“Really, Mycroft?” Sherlock said as his brother returned with the accessory.

“Really, Sherlock,” he said calmly as he pressed at a button in the handle that caused it to slide back, revealing a sharp, thin blade. He held it out to John who used it to slice through his zip-tie before taking the umbrella from Mycroft and cutting the plastic from his wrists and then releasing Sherlock. He then returned the umbrella to its owner.

“You have a sword in your brolly,” John said with fascination now that he no longer had to focus on the constricting plastic strip around his wrists.

“Yes, John, I do,” Mycroft answered, “Now let us get out of here before someone finds we’ve gone. I’ll have my team finish this off for us.” He walked toward the exit, his pace brisk as he slid the sword back into place before swinging his umbrella around. When he glanced back, John and Sherlock had not followed him. “Come on, chaps, we’ll stop for lunch on the way home. I’m thinking Italian.”


4. Famulus: n. A private secretary or attendant, especially of a magician or scholar

Few people understand what it is exactly that Anthea does for Mycroft Holmes. John Watson certainly doesn’t; he thinks she is his aide or secretary, but he never sees her do much of anything. She’s just on her blackberry. All the time. And as far as John can tell, that’s that.

Then, when Sherlock and John find themselves in a Bulgarian prison cell, Anthea arrives, speaking in very rapid Bulgarian to the guard before lifting her phone to her ear and letting loose a stream of Italian profanities. When she comes into John’s view her perfectly curled hair has frizzed out some and she has on a pair of thick-framed eyeglasses. The deadbolts slide open and John stands, ready to be out of the dank little room.

“Mr. Holmes is not pleased,” she says, starring pointedly at Sherlock. “But I’m to bring you to him. The mess you’ve wandered into is being cleaned up as we speak.”

“Good to hear,” Sherlock says as he rises from the wooden bench along the far wall. “Lovely to see you, Anthea, as always.” With that he strides past her and makes his way to the front door.

John nods to her as he follows after his partner, but instead of acknowledging him she is back on her phone, firing off a text before bringing it to her ear, “Yes, Sir, I have them.”

She pauses a long moment and John continues to watch her. “Of course, I’m taking care of it now,” she adds before she ends the call and notices John’s scrutiny. “You’d better catch up with Sherlock; I’m sure he’s already contemplating escape,” she says to him.

“Yeah, sorry,” John says as he turns and bounces as he moves to stop Sherlock from any attempts at continuing with his insane plan now that he’s free.


5. Cognomen: n. Family name; surname

Holmes is a fairly common name throughout the British Isles, but John’s ears always pricked up when he met one on the off chance they were related to his partner and therefore highly interesting. And quite possibly dangerous.

On one such occasion, John sat in a café, drinking tea and waiting for Sherlock to meet him. He’d received a text an hour earlier about something urgent that required the utmost secrecy. Checking his watch he saw that he still had a good ten minutes before Sherlock would arrive when he heard the woman a table over from him answer her phone. “Grace Holmes.”

John looked the woman over as she spoke, trying hard to be inconspicuous about it. Her ginger hair caught the sunlight, which contrasted sharply with her pale skin. She wore oversized sunglasses and a black dress. “Yes, darling, I know. It was bound to happen eventually.” Her accent was decidedly posh. She paused to drink her coffee. “Of course, I’ll see you soon.”

She pursed her lips as she returned her mobile to her bag. John turned his attention back to his tea cup, tapping his fingers along the sides. Then, much to his surprise a familiar black sedan pulled up to the curve and Mycroft Holmes exited, crossing over to the ginger woman. John raised a curious eyebrow as she stood and kissed him on the cheek.

Moments later Sherlock leaned down to John’s ear and whispered, “Hello, love.” He pulled out a chair and seated himself as he took his partner’s hand.
“Sherlock,” John asked, “What’s going on?”

“Mycroft decided it was time you met his wife,” Sherlock answered, “And by decided I mean Mummy told him that there was no reason keeping you in the dark anymore since you’ll be at Christmas dinner this year.”

John gaped at him in response.

“Surely you realized that he wears a wedding band, John? I was surprised you never asked about it. Most people do.” Mycroft and Mrs. Holmes crossed over to John and Sherlock’s table, the elder Holmes smiling openly for the first time in John’s memory.

“John,” Sherlock said, his tone pleasant and forced, “This is Grace. She’s a law professor at Oxford, and she and Mycroft have been married, what, ten years now.”
“Pleasure to finally meet you, John,” Grace said as she extended her hand, “Mycroft has told me so much about you. Anyone who can handle Sherlock has got to be special.” John tentatively shook her hand.

“I’m afraid I can’t say the same,” John said with a shy smile. Then he turned to Sherlock, “Honestly, I need to be kept in the dark about everything? We’ve been living together for two years, Sherlock, and the fact that your brother is married is some kind of national secret?” he hissed.

“Actually, yes,” Mycroft said, “At least for the people in Sherlock’s life. His work brings him into contact with too many potential threats, which when overlaid with the nature of my own position in the government becomes rather distressing. For the most part it’s easier to limit the number of people who know about my connection to Grace. You’re one of the first.”

“Who else,” John asked, arms crossing over his chest, clearly irritated.

“Obviously you pick up on that,” Sherlock said with a roll of his eyes.

“Greg Lestrade, but only just this past year. He’s known Sherlock far longer than you have, John,” Mycroft said.

“Can we please stop talking about me like I’m a top secret government project and your first primary school girlfriend at the same time?” Grace said with a giggle.

“Yes, I’m sorry dear,” Mycroft said. “Anyway, John, obviously we hope you’ll be discreet about this, but it is almost entirely an excessive precaution.”
“And most of it is for Rupert’s sake,” Grace added. Three pairs of eyes went wide as she spoke, two out of shock and one in confusion. Grace looked to her husband and whispered, “Sorry, forgot we were going to wait on that one.”

“Well, it’s too late now,” Sherlock quipped. “Rupert is their son, he’s seven.”

“Okay, hold up,” John said raising his hands in front of his chest. “You,” he said, pointing to Mycroft, “Have a wife and son which you keep secret and yet somehow you also have time to run half the world.”

“Really, Sherlock,” Mycroft said, “The ideas you give him about my job are quite ridiculous.”

“Doesn’t mean they aren’t true,” Sherlock muttered under his breath. “Either way, I agree with Mummy. We should have just gotten all of this out of the way when she met John last year.”

“But we didn’t. Now that your commitment to this relationship seems more stable it makes more sense to bring John into the family circle,” Mycroft said as he spun his umbrella against the pavement. “And now Mummy gets her family Christmas.”

John had no further response except to finish his tea.

Chapter Text

1. Callipygian: adj. Having shapely buttocks

“John, stop it,” Sherlock said as he leaned forward to study the corpse at his feet.

“Stop what?” John asked, indignation clogging his throat. Sherlock turned his head in order to glare at his flatmate, rolling his eyes before returning to his work. “Honestly, Sherlock, what?” he asked again.

“You’re staring, rather obviously, at my arse; it is distracting,” he answered as he pulled out his pocket magnifying glass and checked the victims fingernails.

“Oi, I do not need to hear this,” Lestrade said from the doorway. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t just hear that. I’m very happy for the both of you, but please keep your private life out of my crime scenes.”

“Well, if John would stay focused then it wouldn’t be a problem,” Sherlock muttered in a huff. “Anyway, I’ve got all I can get here.” He stood and crossed the room, nodding to Lestrade as he passed through the doorway, “Send me the coroner’s report when you have it.”

“I will,” Lestrade answered. Then John walked past the detective inspector, following his partner from the room. “See you around, John,” Lestrade said, which simply caused the doctor to blush as he nodded his farewell.

John and Sherlock spent the cab ride back to Baker Street in silence, neither speaking nor looking at the other, but Sherlock’s hand managed to inch its way to John’s and twine their fingers together. But as soon as they had safely ensconced themselves in their flat the shouting started.

“I was not staring at your arse, Sherlock! I was looking at the dead body!”

“Don’t delude yourself, John, it’s rather unbecoming.” Sherlock stared at John who had begun pacing around the kitchen, pulling out tea and mugs, and bringing the kettle to the sink to fill it. “Besides, I approve of your staring at my arse as long as it doesn’t interfere with my work.” He quickly removed the distance between them and whispered against John’s ear, “I know you liked what you saw, John.”

“I still wasn’t staring,” John said as he looked up into Sherlock’s smug face. “Not until you said it, anyway.”

Sherlock smiled as he leaned in to press his lips against John’s before pulling back. His left eyebrow arched up as he felt John’s hands settle against the small of his back before drifting decidedly southward.


2. Verbigerate: v. To repeat a word or sentence endlessly, meaninglessly, and usually unconsciously

Sherlock reached down to unbind the wrists of the shivering child before him. As he did so he pulled out his phone and dialed Lestrade. “I’ve found her, I’m bringing her to the checkpoint,” he said shortly, waiting only long enough to hear Lestrade’s exclamation thanking some deity or other. Returning the phone to his pocket he looked the girl over: wrists and ankles raw from the nylon rope that bound them, scratches along her exposed arms and legs, a shallow gash on her forehead, purple bruises around her mouth and over her shoulders.

She winced as he scooped her up into his arms. Then she clung to him, her small hands locking behind his neck as he carried her out of the forest, away from the small cave where her captor dumped her hours ago. Almost instinctively he lifted a hand to the back of her head as he said, “It’s going to be better now. You’re going home.”

At this the little girl whispered softly, “I’m sorry,” as Sherlock felt hot moisture press against his neck. “I’m sorry.”

His eyes narrowed, confused by the girl’s reaction, but he continued walking, knowing he needed to get her to someone who could deal with a traumatized child, or really any child for that matter. As he walked he felt her breathing slow and even out, but still she mumbled, “I’m sorry,” over and over again.

Reaching the end of the path at the edge of the forest, Sherlock spotted Lestrade, but John ran to meet him first. John quickly shepherded his partner and the girl to the back of the waiting ambulance where he began a diagnostic scan of the child and declared that all of her injuries were superficial, except for the wound to her forehead which would require stitches. Then Lestrade approached and Sherlock left with him to give his statement while John worked with the paramedics to take care of the girl.

“So where was she?” Lestrade asked.

“Exactly where I said she would be,” Sherlock said as the detective inspector sheepishly glanced down. “Either way, the kidnapper’s got away from us.”

“There’s still a chance we’ll find him.”

“Unlikely,” Sherlock said, the corners of his mouth turned down in disdain. “And now that child is going to require years of therapy.”

“At least she doesn’t require a casket,” Lestrade said, “And she has you to thank for that.”

Frowning, Sherlock turned away and said, “Doesn’t matter. No child should have to—”

Just then, John came running from the ambulance, already a bit winded as he said, “Sherlock, she’s asking for you. Started panicking when she realized you’d gone.”

“What?” Sherlock asked. He shook his head and stared at his partner. “Why?”

“Don’t know, but she asked where the man who saved her went and then she just curled up into a ball and started mumbling to herself. Please, Sherlock, just come,” John said as he took his hand and dragged him back. Lestrade followed.

As soon as she saw him the girl latched onto Sherlock, burying her face in his shoulder as her arms wrapped tight around him. Sherlock gently lifted his own arms, holding onto her as he put a hand against her blonde head and whispered, “It’s alright, Alice. Everything’s fine.”

Not long after, Alice’s parent’s arrived and claimed her, thanking everyone for her safe return, her mother even embracing Sherlock and kissing him on the cheek as she thanked him. When they were finally alone afterwards, John took Sherlock’s hand and squeezed it as he said, “You were brilliant today.” Sherlock squeezed back in thanks as he cleared his throat.


3. Misogamy: n. A hatred of marriage

Sherlock scoffed at the newly engaged couple two tables over from them at Angelo’s. “Why anyone would want to do something so utterly stupid as get married—”

“You said you were married to your work,” John said, cutting him off, as he stared down his flatmate.

“Not literally, John,” Sherlock said as he gave John his you’re-an-idiot look. “It’s always been the easiest way to stop people from asking irritating questions.” Sherlock scowled. “Either way, I maintain that I find the ritual silly and pointless. Marriage rarely ensures fidelity or happiness within a relationship; my work proves that constantly.”

“Doesn’t mean it can’t be worthwhile,” John said. “My parents didn’t have the best marriage, but they made it work. Lestrade seems pretty happy.”

“Anderson isn’t.”

“Yeah, well, Anderson is a git anyway, he doesn’t count. And I’m sure you know plenty of other happily married people.” John crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned back in his seat, daring Sherlock to contradict him.

“Of course I do, but they’re idiots.” Sherlock turned away, shifting his posture and almost pushing himself to his feet. He drummed his fingers against the table before whipping back to face John. “Why do you even care?”

John just shook his head in exasperation. “I guess the fact that your hatred of marriage is so universal threw me. Just because some books are crap doesn’t mean you hate reading, or whatever.” He uncrossed his arms and glanced out the window as he picked up his wine glass. “And I just bet you’ve never been in love, like really in love. Not the crap, ‘I want to stare into your eyes before having passionate sex, oh, look, I forgot to breathe because I was too busy ruminating on what kind of shampoo you use’ love, but that deep, ‘I feel more complete when you’re around, you’re my best friend and you make me want to be a better person’ kind of love.”

His mouth quirked a bit to the right as he finished, watching Sherlock digest what he had just said. The detective brought his hands together as he leaned in toward John, elbows on the table as he answered, “You’re right, John, I’ve never been in love like that.” He paused to push his pasta around his plate. “Besides, you’re my best friend, why bother finding a new one to marry?”


4. Horripilation: n. The bristling of body hair, as from fear or cold; goose bumps

A shiver ran down John’s spine as he waited in the museum storage room with Soo Lin. Sherlock had run off after the assassin and ordered them to stay, which John had fully intended to do. Then he heard the gunshots.

His flesh prickled as the hair at the back of his neck stood on end and his mouth ran dry. A dozen different scenarios raced through his mind, but he kept flashing on one: Sherlock, on the ground, bleeding out and alone. John glanced quickly around the room before telling the young woman to bolt the door after him as he ran out into the halls.

Dashing about, John searched for his flatmate, barely managing to make it up the stairs before he heard another shot ring out, coming from behind him. “Oh my god,” he muttered, heart dropping into his stomach, John doubled back, biting his lip and cursing himself for his weakness.

He edged into the storage room moving slowly until he spotted her broken body, finding the origami lotus in her hand, he frowned and pulled back. John turned away, knowing not to contaminate the scene for the detectives, even if he and Sherlock now knew everything they really needed about the assassin. Settling against a worktable, John waited; he soon heard Sherlock’s footsteps pounding toward the room, his phone already out and against his ear as he notified the yard of the murder.

Sherlock set about examining the body, pulling out his pocket magnifying glass and taking mental notes of everything before he moved back and noticed John. His eyes went wide as they lit upon the doctor. John shook slightly as he sat against the table, his gaze glassy, almost as if he were looking past Sherlock. Every one of his hair follicles stood at attention and he drew in slow, uneven breaths.

“John,” Sherlock said, edging closer, “What happened?”

John’s eyes snapped into focus, all his attention going to Sherlock, holding on his face as he stood and crossed towards his flatmate. Instead of answering the detective’s question, John grasped Sherlock’s upper arms and looked up at him. Tears glistened at the corners of his eyes.

Sherlock’s expression softened as he repeated, “John, what happened?”

John closed his eyes as he muttered, “I panicked. I heard the gunshots and I panicked. I told Soo Lin to lock herself in and I went to find you,” he paused before adding to himself, “Why did I fucking do it?” Then he launched himself at Sherlock, arms going around his chest as he pulled closer. A tiny gasp of surprise escaped from Sherlock as John breathed in very deeply against his chest, and took in the smell of tea, curry, vanilla, ash, and soap—the smell of 221 B and home. “Sorry,” he said as he took a step back, “Don’t know what came over me just then.”

“It’s alright, John,” Sherlock simply said as he put a hand on the doctor’s shoulder. “It wasn’t your fault. We were both rather foolish.”


5. Dermagraphism: n. The practice of leaving marks on the skin of a romantic partner by biting, scratching, or sucking

Even though they had decided to keep their relationship private for as long as possible, Sherlock still felt the need to let the world know John was off the market and completely unavailable for scones or texting. It also left John fairly certain that Sherlock had an oral fixation for how much he used his mouth to… explore.

After their first kiss, Sherlock had dived in with a fervor to rival that of the most hormone-addled teenagers. He latched onto John’s neck, laving his tongue along pulse points and nipping with his teeth. The red mark he left below John’s ear lasted for a week before the dark red faded through purple, green, and yellow and eventually disappeared entirely. The bite at the base of his neck lasted even longer; while at a crime scene Donovan spotted it and said, “So, the doctor’s finally getting some action. Wonder how the freak’s taking it.” John had stayed silent on the comment, simply glad that Sherlock hadn’t heard it, but Lestrade had taken offense, telling the sergeant to keep her comments about their consultants’ private lives to herself.

That night Sherlock hadn’t solved the case yet and therefore was abstaining from everything physical—eating, sleeping, sex, etc. He spent the evening pacing around the flat while John looked on, occasionally answering half-asked questions or bringing Sherlock cups of tea. Then, on his way to the medicine cabinet to get another nicotine patch, Sherlock finally had a breakthrough, making the crucial connection that set him leaping back to the kitchen and informing John of his sudden success while whipping out his phone to text Lestrade the details. Normally John would exclaim over Sherlock’s brilliance, praising his intellect as the detective preened.

Instead he set down the electric kettle and took Sherlock’s face in his hands before smashing their mouths together. Sherlock bristled at the sudden intimacy before relaxing into the kiss, his fingers threading up into John’s hair as he moaned into his mouth. Pulling back slowly, John’s eyes glinted with a sudden possessiveness as he leaned forward to nip at Sherlock’s neck, leaving red crescents that welled up from his pale skin. Sherlock’s breathing quickened, coming and going in short, shuddering gasps as his hands roamed along John’s neck and down his back before guiding John’s head up and recapturing his lips.
Pulling back abruptly, John ended the kiss and murmured, “Lestrade has everything he needs, yes?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, his nimble fingers drifting further and further down John’s body as they panted against each other.

John stood and smiled, pulling Sherlock to his feet. “Good,” he said as he led the taller man up the stairs to their bedroom, “Because you are mine for the rest of the night.”

The next day when Lestrade called them in to assist on a double homicide, Sherlock very deliberately undid the top two buttons of his shirt upon their arrival at the yard. Sergeant Donovan gaped at the obvious bite marks on the consulting detective’s neck before a look from Lestrade sent her from the room. The detective inspector simply raised an eyebrow before telling Sherlock that he had what looked like a locked room murder and that the bodies were being sent to the morgue as they spoke.

Sherlock’s eyes lit up, ready to dash off, and John smirked, ready to follow.

Chapter Text

1.  Puthering:  n. Pouring with rain


As a child Sherlock had hated for it to rain. Rain meant Mummy would watch him too closely and scold him for trying to run experiments in the kitchens. It meant he couldn’t play outside where he was free and unfettered; no, rainy days were dull for seven-year-old Sherlock.

On one such day, as fat water droplets fell in torrents, converging and merging into thick liquid ropes that fell from the trees and rooftops into pools and puddles, Sherlock leaned against the French doors leading out to the garden. Then he tilted back before letting his forehead thud softly against the thick glass. “Bored.”

“If you’re so bored why don’t you go and do something?” Of course Mycroft was lurking about, ready to tell Sherlock off now that he was home for the summer holiday and very grown up, what with being fourteen. “Mummy won’t appreciate you smudging up the windows either, Sherlock.”

“Go away, Mycroft.” Sherlock pouted and continued to let his pale forehead and dark curls hit the glass pane.

Sighing in the way only teenagers can, Mycroft strode over to his little brother and gripped beneath his arms, lifting the much younger boy up and carrying him to the sitting room where Mummy sat in silence, reading. He then deposited the squirming Sherlock in front of her. Without even looking up from her book Mummy asked, “What did he get into now?”

“I’m afraid he’s going to addle himself; he kept smacking his head against the back door.”

Mummy set aside the book, taking hold of Sherlock’s small hands. “Darling, what is it?”

“It’s raining and I’m bored,” he said as he looked up her with tears in his wide, grey eyes. “And Mycroft is being bossy.”

“Mycroft was just trying to help,” Mummy said as she wrapped her younger son in a tight embrace and gave the elder an exasperated look. “And the rain will stop soon enough, Sherlock, you needn’t worry about that.”

It rained for three more days.




At thirty-five, Sherlock didn’t care much for rain. It tended to keep crimes hidden, wash away evidence, and make his hair cling uncomfortably to the back of his neck. The dampness also tended to make John’s shoulder ache which put a general damper on the entire mood of 221 B Baker Street.

Sherlock watched sheets of rain run down the window as he lay across the sofa. John puttered around in the kitchen making tea as he avoided Sherlock’s sullen mood, having cloistered himself away by closing the sliding glass doors. They hadn’t had a case in a couple weeks and Sherlock was restless, moody, irritable; John hardly knew what to do with himself when he wasn’t at the surgery since his partner had barely deigned to acknowledge him in the past four days.

Then, all of a sudden, John heard a dull thud against the glass behind him. Turning, he saw that Sherlock had his forehead pressed against the sliding door. “Bored,” Sherlock moaned, eyes squeezed shut, as he pulled back and beat his head against the door again.

John walked over and waited as Sherlock pulled back once more, then he slid open the door and braced himself for impact. Sherlock smacked himself into John, the doctor’s arms gripping him tight as he leaned against his warm chest. “I thought we were past this,” John said as he ran a hand over Sherlock’s back. Then John leaned back, looking up into Sherlock’s eyes. “There’s something else. What haven’t you been telling me?”

Instead of answering, Sherlock pressed himself closer to John burying his face in his lover’s shoulder—the unwounded one—and nuzzling into the warmth and comfort that was John.

“Come on, Pet, what is it?” John only used terms of endearment when he was annoyed or well and truly worried about Sherlock’s health.

Without moving from John’s neck he said, “My mother is ill. She insists that it’s nothing, but I worry.” He paused as he inhaled, breathing in the comforting scent of John. “Mycroft tells me not to concern myself over it, and I want to forget it, but…”

“Hey,” John said. He let a hand settle against the back of Sherlock’s neck, his thumb stroking back and forth. “Why don’t we go and see her, then? Tomorrow, when it’s stopped raining.” Sherlock nodded against John’s shoulder.

The next day Mycroft sent a car to pick them up; the rain continued to pour.



2. Niscal: n. The smallest of the brood


“John, what are you doing?” his mother asked as he pushed a chair up against the kitchen counter.

“I can’t reach the cupboard,” the blond boy answered, his attention never turning from his task.

“You could have asked for help. I’m always willing to help, John.” She walked over and placed a hand on her son’s shoulder. Even standing on the chair he was still shorter than she was.

“I know, Mum… It’s just, I’m the shortest boy in my class, and Harry’s taller than me—”

“Harry’s older than you.”

“But not by much, and she’s a girl.”

“Girls grow faster than boys do, John. You’ll catch up. Your father says the same thing happened to him, he just shot up when he was about fifteen.”

“That’s ages away,” John said as he rubbed at the frustrated tears that stung at the corners of his eyes.

His mother slowly put her arms around his small frame and held him, stroking at his fine hair. “It’s not too far off, John. Seven years isn’t very much in the grand scheme of things. I know it feels like a long time now, but soon it won’t seem like very much time at all. And there’s nothing wrong with being smaller.”

“I know, Mum. It’s just… it’s hard.”




John never got his growth spurt. He grew about four inches the summer he turned fifteen, and nothing too noticeable after that. In the end he and Harry were the same height, and she usually looked taller because of her penchant for thick-soled shoes.

Then there was Sherlock, half a foot taller than John and completely oblivious to the social implications of being the taller man in their relationship. The one time he had brought it up, Sherlock had simply said, “Don’t be ridiculous, John,” as if that closed the issue.

“It isn’t ridiculous, Sherlock. People are always going to notice you first. They’ll always think that you’re the one—”

Sherlock cut him off, “It is ridiculous, John, because I’d don’t give a toss what other people think about our relationship. I know you’ve still got some kind of complex about your height, but you aren’t all that short. Also, it isn’t anyone else’s business what we do behind closed doors. Now are we going to shag or not?”

In answer John pulled Sherlock down for a kiss as he worked open the buttons of the taller man’s shirt.



3. Pigwidgeon: n. Anything petty or small; a fairy


“That boy of yours is just too pretty, Mrs. Holmes, I can’t help giving in, and he’s so sweet,” Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper said one day as the two women went over the menu for that Friday’s dinner party. “I’d swear he was some kind of changeling, so perfectly ethereal.”

“Yes, Sherlock is lovely, but I worry it will spoil him. He’ll always get his way, especially if he’s anything like his brother.” Just then, a three-year-old with dark curls toddled into the room and tugged at his mother’s skirts. “Hello, Darling, what is it?”

The little boy just held his arms out, silently begging to be picked up. After only a moment’s hesitation his mother swooped him up and settled him on her lap.  She spent the remainder of the afternoon stroking absently at his curls.




At twenty-five, Sherlock shaved his head and never told anyone why. Mummy had despaired over the loss, but dropped the subject immediately when she noticed his tight expression. Mycroft noticed it too, but held on like a pit bull, bringing it up at the most inopportune moments.

“Did Sherlock ever tell you about—?”

“John doesn’t need to hear about that, Mycroft.”

“Now, Sherlock, how could you possibly know what amusing little anecdote I was trying to bring up?” Mycroft grinned, his eyes still cold as he stared his brother down.

“Because I know you, and this is supposed to be some kind of payback for what happened when you first met Grace, but I’m not going to talk about it. Especially not with you around.” Sherlock crossed his arms over his chest and stared back, only willing Mycroft’s head to explode a little bit.

“Settle down, this is supposed to be family time,” John said, taking hold of his partner’s elbow and leading him over to the sofa.

“Yes, Mycroft, you don’t need to tease your brother just because it’s his first Christmas bringing John,” Grace said, taking her husband to task as she shot a glare his way.

“Besides,” Mummy said, “Neither of you gets to keep very many secrets from one another. Let Sherlock have this.”

“Fine, Mummy,” Mycroft grumbled.

Later that night, when John asked what it was all about, Sherlock just leaned his forehead to John’s and whispered, “As a child I was very much petted for being pretty. When I grew up I found being pretty was much more detrimental to interacting with any kind of peer group. Then I had a rather bad run in one night over my hair, and I cut it all off. I’ve accepted it and moved on, John.” He inhaled deeply before pulling away. “Now you know, and only you. Please don’t bring it up again.”

“You don’t even have to ask.”



4. Barla-fumble: n. A call for truce by one who has fallen during play


“Come on, John,” Harry Watson yelled. “I said I give up, so come out! Mum is gonna be so mad at you! We’ll be late for supper and I’ll get in trouble. John! Come out now!” Along with the other neighborhood children, John and Harry had been playing hide and seek for most of the afternoon and it had started to get dark. John had won quite a few of the games, and currently found himself perched too high in an old oak tree to get down.

He knew he should call for help, knew that he had won—for how calm he was John had a fierce competitive streak—and yet he wanted to get down himself. Steeling himself against the possibility of falling, John lowered himself, reaching for the next branch with his feet and finding only loose bark and air. Knowing he was about to fall, to lose his grip and crash down a good twelve feet, he called out, “Harry! Help!”

            His sister looked up, eyes darting around for a just a few quick moments before she heard a crash to her left and ran towards the sound. She found him on the ground, lying on his side, clutching his right arm to his chest. “John,” she said as she rushed to him, “John, are you alright?”

“No,” he said, his face distorted by a pained grimace. Harry leaned down and gingerly touched his arm, trying to pull his fingers from their death-grip at his wrist. As she poked the red, swollen skin John cried out, a wail that made her want to cover her ears. Instead she bent over him and touched a hand to his cheek, gently wiping away his tears the way Mum would.

“Okay,” Harry said, “we need to get you home.” She lifted her little brother up, setting him on his feet, glad he’d hurt and arm rather than a leg, and said, “Come on, you need to walk with me, John. Then Mum can fix it, I promise.”

John pressed into her side, wetting her t-shirt with tears.




“Move your legs.”

“No, I’m quite comfortable as I am, John.”

“Sherlock, you said you wanted to spend more time with me on days off, how am I supposed to do that with you taking all the space on the sofa? Hmm.” John then proceeded to lift Sherlock’s long legs and shift them over so he could sit down. Almost immediately, Sherlock had his legs swung back, his calves pressing into John’s thighs. They stayed like this for nearly an hour in comfortable silence.

Then Sherlock got restless and pulled a leg back and tried to get his foot behind John, his cold toes wiggling against the small of John’s back. “Sherlock, stop it.”

“But you’re so much warmer than I am right now. You’re a doctor, John; you’re supposed to make people feel better.” Sherlock smirked at him.

John didn’t even look over at him, kept his eyes on his book, as he said, “Doesn’t mean I have to put up with your cold feet under my arse.”

“This does not constitute spending time together, John.”

“We’re sitting together, we’re talking, yes it does.”

“No it doesn’t,” Sherlock whispered, his face suddenly against John’s ear. Then he brought a hand to John’s side and poked delicately with his long fingers, his digits dancing against the soft fabric of John’s striped jumper. Breathy giggles spilled from the doctor’s mouth as Sherlock continued to tickle him.

John attempted to fight back, but he finally placed his hands against Sherlock’s shoulders and said, “Okay, stop. You win, Sherlock. You win.”

In response, Sherlock leaned down, laying himself on top of John and wrapping his arms around his chest. “Yes, I do,” he said with a smile, “And this much better qualifies as spending time together.”



5. Cothish: adj. faint, sickly, ailing; morose, uncouth


Six-year-old Sherlock dragged his nails across the red bumps that littered his pale skin. Every part of him itched, and scratching felt so nice, even as Mummy scolded him for doing it.

“Sherlock,” she said, “You mustn’t do that. I know it itches, but you cannot scratch. You’ll be very sorry for it when you’re older.”

But he couldn’t help scratching. Sherlock had far more willpower than the average six-year-old, but he could not control his hands sometimes, could not stop them from rubbing and scratching at his chicken pox covered skin. After the third day of scratching, Mummy put mittens on his hands and told him to leave them there. The scratching stopped, but the itching nagged at his tired brain. By the third day with the mittens he couldn’t help crying. All the time.

Mummy kept daubing him with calamine lotion and gave him oatmeal baths twice daily, but the itch-pain refused to let him rest. Even as the bumps began to scab over, Sherlock felt ill, his body now assaulted by a cold, which in conjunction with his already compromised immune system became a sinus infection.

“Darling, I’m sorry,” Mummy said one night as he cried in between hacking coughs that sounded too big to come from his tiny body. “I’m sorry, Sherlock. It will be better soon. I promise.” She tousled the hair away from his forehead, and kissed the fevered skin she revealed.




Neither Sherlock nor John got sick very often, but John had still seen his husband sick and confined to bed several times since meeting him. John instead had a doctor’s immune system and only seemed to get the occasional cold or minor bout of flu.

Then, barely a month after their wedding, John developed the most jarring cough that welled up from his chest. That quickly turned into a fever, nasal drainage, and a general stuffiness in his head that felt like his brain had been wrapped in cotton wool.

Sherlock was at a loss for what to do as he rarely had to care for John, usually doing little beyond taking over tea-making duties until John started sleeping less and eating more. Suddenly he found himself with John completely dependent upon him for more than a week. He sat beside John as he slept. He brought him tea, juice, water, and anything else he was asked for. Sherlock even passed over a rather promising murder case in order to stay in with John.

Then, one night as John’s coughing kept Sherlock up, the fever broke. Sherlock handed John a glass of water when he awoke, near delirious, at two in the morning. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Like my head is going to split in two. And really warm. It’s too hot in here,” John said as he tried to kick off his blankets.

Sherlock slowly pulled the covers down, feeling at John’s clammy forehead and neck. “How’s that feel?”

“Better.” John then took hold of Sherlock’s hand as he closed his eyes and laid back. “Thank you, Sherlock.” Then he fell back to sleep.

“You’re welcome, John.” He stroked at John’s hair until the sun came up.