They pulled up at the cabin, dogs yipping and barking. Sherlock looked up from his Blackberry and immediately stood, shedding blankets and furs, his shoulders tense, his eyes darting about.
"Mortimer's cabin," John said, shoving up his goggles; he felt like a cabbie. He looked again at the endless sky, the vast, snow-capped mountains; trying to imprint its sublimity on his memory. His vocabulary was inadequate to the view; he'd never find the right words for the blog. "Which is slap bang in the middle of paradise, if you'd deign to notice." Sherlock had spent most of the journey texting.
Sherlock gave the vista a skeptical glance. "Paradise? Hardly. I hear they paved paradise and put up a parking lot," Sherlock said as he stepped out of the dogsled. "Vast improvement."
"Hang on," John said. "We've got to see to the dogs if we ever plan to make the journey back."
"Yes, you do that," Sherlock said, and strode directly into the cabin, which was unlocked.
John was tempted to get right back on the sled and shove off: marvellous scenery around every bend, and it would serve Sherlock right. But the dogs were looking at him with their huge, pathetic eyes. "Don't you start," John said, but then he sighed and began work on the harness.
There was a serviceable kennel behind the house, though it had clearly housed more modern forms of transport in recent times. It took some time to settle the dogs. Then he went into the cabin and found Sherlock standing at its centre, rubbing his hands and looking around, his eyes bright with glee.
"Found what you were looking for?" John asked, taking his own look. He had long ago determined that trying to compete with Sherlock in the deductive arena only led to deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and two extra drinks before bedtime, but he couldn't make himself stop.
The cabin was clearly inhabited, or had been. The single room was sparsely but comfortably furnished, with a bed on one side and a table and chair – a single chair, John noted – on the other. A plate and spoon lay abandoned on the table - it had been scraped clean and the leavings had long since hardened – but the rest of the table was piled high with books and papers. They, too, looked like they hadn't been touched in some time, though John couldn't have said exactly why he thought so.
"Yes," Sherlock replied. "I know everything now. All right, fine: not everything," he amended, taking in John's expression. "But everything important, everything germane to the case. There are one or two small points I haven't got my head round yet, but they won't interfere in your reportage."
Damn. He knew better, he absolutely knew better, but he couldn't help himself. He took a breath. "All right, I'm game. I take it Arthur Eaton isn't actually dead, suicide note notwithstanding?"
"Oh, yes, he's quite dead." Sherlock seemed delighted.
John regrouped. "But he didn't drown himself in the Thames," he hazarded.
"No," Sherlock agreed.
"He came here," John said with more confidence.
"Yes. And was rather too careless with a snowmobile, which is perfectly evident from--"
John cut him off. "Mortimer's cabin—John Mortimer's a relative?"
"Great uncle, mother's side. That's also the side where the madness and venality reside," Sherlock added darkly. "I expect that Great Uncle John also took the opportunity to vanish for a year or two for similarly criminal reasons."
"And the stolen money?" John had seen nothing in his quick look around that looked to be worth anything. "Wait; let me guess," he said, before Sherlock could speak. "Gold coins, cached in the mattress. No, too obvious. Stamps! Rare stamps, stuck on letters—I read that in a story once."
"Not a bad guess," which was as close to a compliment as John'd ever got from Sherlock, "if guessing 'gold or stamps' when you can see neither gold nor stamps was at all an intelligent way to proceed, which it obviously isn't. You're not that stupid: what can you see?"
John sighed and began to rattle off everything within view. "Books, papers, a plate--" but Sherlock's eyebrows had already flicked up. "Books?" John repeated and looked at them more closely; they were quite old, well-suited to the rustic, old-fashioned atmosphere of the cabin. He picked up the one on top. "God. This is a first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species."
"I register the irony. Yes, it's probably worth about seventy-five grand to a collector, though I can't see why: if you want to waste your time reading outdated science, you can get it for free on Kindle."
"Jesus," John said; the next one was a faded three-volume edition of Sense and Sensibility. Below that was a first edition of Dracula. He put the books down again carefully. "These must be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds--"
"And they're just lying out in plain sight. Least likely thing to be stolen." Sherlock rubbed his hands again, and suddenly John realised that Sherlock wasn't triumphant: he was freezing. John blinked and then looked at Sherlock with a doctor's eyes: shivering + tachycardia + vasoconstriction + tachypnea = mild to severe hypothermia: the idiot. Without thinking, he immediately took Sherlock's hands and began to rub them vigorously, massaging each long finger.
Sherlock stared down at their hands, then cleared his throat. His skin was already warming, and impulsively, experimentally, John made his touch a touch less clinical. Sherlock's mouth opened.
"Let's build a fire," John slid his hands into Sherlock's sleeves to rub his wrists. "Get you warm."
"I--Yes. Yes. All right," Sherlock said, and then, under his breath: "I know everything now."
John frowned. "You--what?"
"The blog," Sherlock said inexplicably; he looked very far away. "Your blog confused me. I thought you wanted a career. Or a sense of purpose." Sherlock was shaking his head almost imperceptibly, but John was pretty sure this was a sign of cognition, not a symptom of hypothermia. "The data was all noise: medical profession, army background, Sarah, Sally, Jeanette. You do the shopping but you don't buy my biscuits. The frank admiration should have been decisive, except it's warranted, so more a sign of intelligence than partiality. Then you wear that blue jumper, but you pair it with those shoes--"
John looked down at his feet and back up again.
"Never mind. Conclusion reached," said Sherlock and touched John's face with chilled fingers.
John swallowed. "Right. I'm game."
Sherlock's profound understanding of anatomy turned out to be useful to the living as well as the dead. John had been around the block in several different countries, but Sherlock's intensive theoretical study, diligently applied, had its merits. Up against the table with Sherlock's hands in his pants, John gasped: "I'm not putting this in the blog."
Sherlock didn't reply. He was concentrating on peeling back John's layers. "Oh, you're so warm..."
It was fantastic. It was much too fast. John had never been brought so quickly, and intensely, to orgasm. He grasped Sherlock's jacket, his fingers tingling and rasping against the fabric, and tried to stay upright, stars sparkling at the edge of his vision. It was like being hit over the head.
Sherlock at least had the good grace to notice that John was on the verge of falling over, and steadied him with both hands. "Good?" he asked, obviously fishing for compliments.
"Yes," John gasped. "And no. It's not a matter of efficiency, Sherlock, it's―"
"But this is clearly optimal. Think of the time saved; we can do it, take a break, do it ag―" John stopped Sherlock's mouth with his own, giving him the softest of kisses until Sherlock twitched impatiently and then surging forward to lock their mouths together. He cupped Sherlock's neck and slid his tongue in deep, shuddering with satisfaction as Sherlock moaned against him.
"So you're saying," Sherlock gasped when they came apart, but John pushed him backwards onto the bed and fell on top of him, half on purpose and half tripping over his ski-pants, now shoved down around his thighs. Sherlock's coat was black and fur-trimmed and not nearly warm enough for the skin on his bones. John pulled it open, then unzipped Sherlock's trousers: the idiot hadn't even bothered to wear thermals. And if there was ever a time for a hat with earflaps...
"So you're saying," Sherlock began again, but he shut up when John gripped his thighs.
It was a long time before John let Sherlock come, but he mostly didn't complain about it. "Christ, come on, already," he demanded, slim white hips jerking upward, but when John changed the angle of his mouth, Sherlock immediately changed his tune: "No, wait, sl-slow down." John was sliding hypnotically up and down over his cock, just drifting with the pleasure of it, when he heard, shockingly, "Please. Please." Sherlock's voice was a bare scrape, and John immediately tightened his grip, dragged a thumb down his perineum, and let Sherlock spill into his mouth.
It didn't take as long as John might have hoped. He was lying with his cheek against Sherlock's hip when Sherlock muttered, "So you're saying my analysis excludes certain essential factors..."
John lifted his head and grinned wickedly up at Sherlock, who looked disheveled, spent: utterly flattened. "One or two. But no worries; you'll get the hang of it. Now let's see about that fire."