Sherlock stared down at the screen of his mobile, where a text from Lestrade read "Why so anxious about the lab results? You think we should reopen the murder investigation?"
He tapped his fingers on the desk, then replied "No. Just curious. And bored."
Lestrade texted back, "Drop by the Yard. Fascinating case. Mysterious cardboard box."
Sherlock ground his teeth. "John," he called, "Have the police been in touch with you about the lab results on the pills from the taxi driver case?"
"No," he said, and put down his book. "But I don't know why they would be. You're pretty thoroughly off the case, aren't you? Isn't it closed?"
"Which would mean he has no need to withhold the information from me."
"This is really bothering you, isn't it?"
"He's keeping his little secret just because he knows it provokes me," Sherlock said, then slipped his phone in his pocket and stood up. "Come on. We're going down to the station. Lestrade requested help with a case."
John glanced up at him, a long look that Sherlock couldn't read. Not entirely. He was coming to a decision, something about Sherlock, the fond/exasperated emotion that coloured a lot of his thoughts about Sherlock, something he'd been thinking about for awhile, but Sherlock could not, despite rumour, actually read thoughts. Finally John said simply, "As you wish," and pulled on his coat.
Sherlock blinked and followed him out the door.
The case with the cardboard box was slightly more interesting than Lestrade had implied in his text, as it involved human body parts shipped through the Royal Mail, but it wasn't exactly going to stretch his intellect, being the result of the usual sort of domestic jealousy: Sherlock could read nearly the whole sordid, tragic, boring story almost as soon as he saw the box and its contents spread out on Anderson's table. Still, it would give him an opportunity to press for an advantage regarding the lab results on those damned pills, so he directed John to examine the contents.
"As you wish," John said mildly in reply. Anderson did a double take, then raised his eyebrows at John. John shrugged sheepishly and started examining one of the severed ears.
Sherlock narrowed his eyes. Something was going on that he didn't quite understand. Yet.
But the rest of the case went as smoothly as any case with the police ever did. The only off note was that John, instead of making his usual pro-forma protests or complaints or backchat with the police when Sherlock informed him of what he needed, would only say, "As you wish."
This was... good. Yes. The complaints had been a waste of time, when they both knew that John would do what Sherlock said anyway, and that Sherlock would never change. He had simply decided to be rational and acknowledge that fact.
No, Sherlock had no problem with John's newfound compliance. It was the reactions of the police that were bothering him. Whenever John said his new favorite phrase, at least one of the officers or witnesses would react unpredictably, with satisfaction or humor or exasperation or a sort of conspiratorial protectiveness, or, once, disgust. Surely they didn't feel so strongly about his having an obedient assistant? And not all of them did - a significant proportion of the hearers reacted exactly as Sherlock would have predicted. But a significant proportion did not. There seemed to be some hidden meaning to the phrase known only to a subset of the population, a subset which included John but not Sherlock, a subset with some commonality he had not yet deduced.
Most of the day the exigencies of the case, pedestrian as it was, distracted Sherlock enough to leave the puzzle of John's behavior in the background, but at the end of the day, as they were wrapping up the last details back at New Scotland Yard, he couldn't ignore it any more. "John, give that evidence bag to Lestrade."
"As you wish."
And Lestrade repressed something that might have been laughter, and Sherlock said, "I know you have a bigger vocabulary than that, John. Try something else. It's become monotonous."
"I feel so rejected now, Sherlock," John replied, face scrunched in a parody of sadness.
"He has no idea, does he?" Lestrade asked John, with a wave of one arm at Sherlock.
"Evidence points to no," John replied with a sunny smile.
"That explains a lot."
"What?" Sherlock said. "I am still standing here, you know. What is so significant about 'As you wish'?"
"John keeps using that phrase," Lestrade replied. "I don't think it means what you think it means."
Sherlock stared at him blankly. John, beside him, very quietly cracked up. Lestrade glanced over him assessingly. "I'd say that clinches it. You're right. He really has no idea. No wonder he's been so persistent about those lab results."
"He doesn't bother learning things unless he thinks they'll be directly relevant to detecting," John answered as he caught his breath. "You wouldn't believe the telly he's never heard of. No, it was predictable that Sherlock wouldn't recognize anything, but how did he guess with his other victims? The odds surely aren't that good with the average person on the street."
"He probably brought the topic up before he decided on victims. 'Seen any good films lately?' - that sort of thing. It would be easy enough to do a test, just like you did today."
"And it would pass as normal taxi driver chat, nobody would be suspicious," John answered thoughtfully. "Same way he made sure they weren't familiar with real guns, I suppose?"
"That's what we've been figuring," Lestrade nodded. "Film chat could lead right into that."
"You're discussing the murderous taxi driver," Sherlock said, frustrated. "How is that related to John's new favorite phrase?"
Lestrade gave John a manly clap on the shoulder. "I think we're about done here, John. Why don't you take your man home for takeout and a movie? As it is he's a danger to us all."
"I already have the DVD and the menu sitting out on the table. C'mon, Sherlock, we're just in the way here."
Sherlock considered delaying, as he seemed to be making progress with Lestrade for once regarding the lab results on the taxi driver's pills, but he thought twice. After all, if John could run an experiment, he could certainly do the same. "As you wish," he said meekly, and followed after.
This time it was Lestrade who cracked up.
"'The Princess Bride'? Really?" Sherlock said a Tube ride later, when John handed him the case and went to slip it into his laptop's DVD drive. "I'm no expert in cinema, but this doesn't really seem like your genre."
"I considered getting Strong Poison instead, but I decided this would be less painful all around," he answered. "Now shut up and watch the film."
Sherlock considered replying with "as you wish," but noted the glint in John's eye and thought better of it. Besides, he was pretty sure he would be unable to resist pointing out all of the things that were blatantly wrong in the film, even if he wanted to try to.
And in fact, about forty-five minutes after they got back to Baker Street, the peace of the block, and the soft murmur of a classic film playing, were interrupted by his sudden shout of, "They were both poisoned?!"
And by John's amused reply: "No shit, Sherlock."