Chapter 1: How to be polite
'Found them! There are the traces – looks like letters!' Haltingly Anderson started to spell them out bringing closer the strong torch he was holding, 'A-T-T-I-C. Attic!' Sherlock rolled his eyes.
'Attic? That doesn't help much.'
'Brilliant impersonation of an idiot,' Sherlock sneered. 'It's not helping, I agree. But only if you're completely ignoring that it is quite possibly a vital clue, if you catch my drift.'
'What are you implying?'
'Oh, nothing at all. Just that you are incapable of getting even the most obvious of the obvious. You see, but you don't observe. Quite likely because you are simply too bloody ignorant –'
'Boys! Not here!' John felt the need to interfere. And to Sherlock 'Sherlock! Remember?'
Sherlock had the grace to look rueful. He paused and closed his eyes for a moment. He sighed deeply and gritting his teeth he said 'Anderson, for once try to think! – Attic - Where are we at the moment?'
'Victim's bedroom,' and from the puzzled expression on Anderson's face it was clear that he didn't have an inkling where this question was supposed to be leading.
'So?' Sherlock implored. Anderson just shrugged. 'Why smear the word attic on the floor?'
'Because it might be important to the victim?'
'Something's up there - maybe?'
'Oh for God's sakes, Anderson! Use whatever little mental capacity you have! Think!' Anderson looked at Sherlock with a look of long-term suffering on his sheep-like face and retorted 'You're supposed to be the thinker here. That's why Lestrade is always so bloody keen to haul you in on every case. If it was for me –'
'Well, thank God, you're a man without influence,' came the cutting reply.
'Sherlock!' John chimed in, losing patience with him and thinking that it probably hadn't been a very good idea to use Anderson as Sherlock's sparring partner. John was well aware of the gleam of pleasure in Sherlock's eyes. John knew that riling Anderson was one of Sherlock's favourite pastimes, he had already admitted as much some time ago. Nevertheless John had included Anderson in his tuition on How to be polite.
They had already made good progress in everyday encounters in their little cornershop or in the supermarket. Sherlock in his Sherlockian way understood quite well the importance of employing the most basic rules of politeness with people he would normally consider boring. He knew exactly when to say Good morning and Thank you or Could you be so kind? Theoretically - he just sometimes forgot to put this knowledge into practice.
And of course he knew how to be polite with people he knew and liked, Mrs Hudson was the prime example. But being the king of punchline, as John once had called him, he could never quite resist the delivering of a biting remark, more often than not bound to hurt other people's feelings.
Because of recent events, including two or three neighbours who would cross the street every time Sherlock approached and a very nice restaurant near Baker Street that had banned them, John had decided that they should work on those character flaws. But Sherlock and Anderson? John was beginning to doubt that there were getting anywhere here.
'Anderson, why don't you go and play with Donovan instead of obstructing the investigation?' Sherlock implored in a superficially friendly tone.
'Now look, Sherlock. I've had your insinuations up to here –' and he demonstrated the height of his frustration by holding his hand up to his nose. 'I'm not taking this anymore. You know that I'm a married man and Donovan and I -'
'Did you tell Donovan?'
'That you are married.'
'Oh bloody hell!' and with that impressive retort Anderson stormed out of the room.
Sherlock turned up the collar of his coat, put his hands in his coat pockets, and nonchalantly turned round to face John. 'Really, John. I simply cannot stop it! It's asking for too much,' his voice was very animated, set out to convince. 'Look, John. You just have to see that Anderson is a gift from high above to me. He's a model of simplicity and stupidity. The height of ignorance. I just can't let him go, John! He brings so much joy into my life,' John snorted. 'Pleeease!' Sherlock said pleadingly, beaming at him like a little boy trying to get yet another model car and John grudgingly had to admit defeat.
'Alright, alright. We don't want you living a joyless life, do we? So I guess I have to leave you Anderson.' 'Thank you!' Sherlock was apparently delighted. He went over to John, bent down and whispered in his right ear 'I owe you, John.' Then he winked at him and sauntered out of the room. He left John behind who started thinking about how Sherlock could possibly pay back this debt. Smirking, he followed and left the room.
Chapter 2: Social Life - A Night out with Sherlock
John and Sherlock and a normal Friday night out - and Sherlock has a little bit too much to drink - which brings out hidden sides of his character ;-)
When John entered the almost completely dark, velvety-plush cinema again he could hear the low baritone mumbling from afar. He had only nipped out to get more snacks and drinks, just for himself because Sherlock had declined - 'I'm fine.' The movie had already started.
After a lengthy debate at the ticket window holding up the entire queue 'Oi, loverboys, get a bloody move on!' they had finally settled on a romantic comedy. 'It's all the same to me anyway, a bloody waste of time,' Sherlock had said in his usual bored drawl, but John had purchased the two tickets undeterred.
John walked down to the row where Sherlock was sitting and coming nearer he could make out what Sherlock was going on about. 'Nobody could be that stupid! Of course she's the man's sister, just look at her hair and the right ear! Just bloody look, their earlobes have exactly the right shape, quite a particular shape, so distinct that even the most ignorant should see it!' Heads were turned to see where this constant flow of comment was coming from, frowns were directed in his direction and eyebrows raised. Sherlock noticed, glowering vaguely in their direction in return causing everybody to turn their attention back to the movie, trying to concentrate again.
Sherlock took this as an incentive to continue when John sat down next to him. 'Don't be stupid! Take the blond one. She's the one for you. The signs are more than obvious: dilated pupils, pronounced flush on her cheeks, fingers fiddling with her necklace –'
'Sherlock, what are you on about?' John whispered, hoping to set an example for him, 'Stop it, Sherlock!'
'Why?' 'People want to watch in silence. They have paid money for it. They want to enjoy their night out.'
'How can you enjoy that? It's so obvious, even you must have seen through the threadbare plot in seconds.'
'I have, actually, but it's still a pleasure to watch.'
Sherlock was perplexed 'You have?'
'It's obvious, isn't it? The hero is in love with the wrong woman, there will be some confusion, heartache and tears and in the end he will find true love with the blond goddess.'
Sherlock was silent. 'Why watch it then?'
'Because it's some sort of entertainment, Sherlock! It's fun! And besides it reminds me of my youth, the good old days, sitting in the back of the cinema, in the dark and –'
'Oi, loverboys. Shut the fuck up! Me and the girlfriend can't hear no more what's going on.'
'Anymore,' Sherlock corrected the big man who had left his seat and a rather annoyed girlfriend a few rows further down, and now was towering over them. 'What?' the man was staring down at Sherlock, not quite comprehending.
'It's anymore, not no more, double negative.'
'Anyway,' Sherlock sighed.
'Whatever!' and with that the big man grabbed Sherlock's collar and manhandled him out of his seat, dragging him up the steps and dumping him unceremoniously outside in the hall. Leaving John no other choice but to grab their stuff and follow in disgrace. He caught up with them just in time to see the big man shaking a finger in Sherlock's face and snarling 'I don't wanna see you here no more!' Sherlock opened his mouth and drew a breath to reply, but seeing the man's anger he had the grace to remain silent. He gave Sherlock a last good shake and went back inside.
'Well done, Sherlock!' John said. 'I guess we're banned for life here! Another venue we can tick off our list. I wouldn't exactly call that a success.'
'This movie was an insult anyway,' Sherlock was brushing down his suit and smiling at John he said, 'Any more plans for tonight?'
'Now you mention it! Let's go for that pint and see if we can manage having a drink without antagonizing the entire pub.' That had been their initial plan all along, a normal night out. A glimpse of social life; to see what ordinary people were up to on a Friday night. A movie first and then the pub. For a second John thought he could make out disappointment on Sherlock's face as if this hadn't been the answer he had expected or if he had hoped his agony was already over. But then Sherlock nodded.
They walked to a nearby pub which was heaving with the usual Friday-night buzz. They squeezed through to the bar and John ordered a pint of lager for Sherlock and half a bitter for himself. With the drinks in their hands they weaved their way through a throng of people, finding a bit of space in the back of the pub. They had to stand in a very close proximity constantly jostled by people passing by on their way to the toilets. Sherlock took a sip of his lager 'It reminds you of your youth.' A statement, not a question.
John was puzzled 'What? Drinking?'
'No, in the cinema, you said, it reminded you of your youth.'
'Ah, yes.' John realized now where this was heading.
'What did you mean?'
'Was that your first time ever in a cinema?' Asking casually, taking a sip of his bitter.
'Yes,' Sherlock conceded, 'Frankly I never saw the appeal of it. Watching stupid movies with threadbare plots, wasting one's time.'
'Well, yes, there's that. But what you actually do in the back of a dark cinema is -' and he whispered his answer in Sherlock's ear causing his eyes to widen in surprise. 'You do?' – 'Uh-huh.' John smirked, looking at him over the rim of his glass. 'Maybe we should give it another go then,' Sherlock grinned and gulped down some of his drink.
'We have to find another cinema though. This one is out of the question thanks to you and your bloody arrogance.' And at that Sherlock laughed out loud spluttering beer all over the floor.
'God, John! Your eyes are beautiful! Greyish-blue-brown. Tiny speckles everywhere and so much depth -' Sherlock seemed genuinely amazed and peered even closer at John's face, inspecting him. John was very amused because this inspecting and cooing had gone on for the last ten minutes. Sherlock's appraisal had started with his hair 'So soft –' moving down to his nose 'Lovely shape –' to his cheekbones 'Just look at them!' and was now dealing with his eyes.
Sherlock's speech was slightly slurred and he had to try hard to actually focus on John's face. His behaviour could be called unusual to put it mildly. Before this evening John had had no idea how alcohol would affect Sherlock. Of course they had gone for the occasional drink together but this was their first attempt of a normal Friday Night Out, and apparently Sherlock had misjudged his drinking abilities. Mind, they really hadn't overdone it, but still the alcohol seemed to take its toll. So far inebriation had made him all sweet and childlike, his usual coolness and arrogance gone.
Sherlock couldn't stop looking at John, marvelling and raving on about his outstanding physiognomy. John decided that fresh air was the doctor's order, so he helped Sherlock into his coat. 'Thank you, gorgeous!' was the rather unexpected reply to that, and then he steered a beaming Sherlock, who waved a cheerful goodbye to the bartender, out of the fuggy pub into the fresh air of the night.
'John!' Sherlock blinked when the cold night air hit him, 'John, look. Isn't that amazing?' And slightly swaying he pointed up into the dark night sky awash with stars. 'It's so beautiful it makes me want to cry!' John snorted and put an arm around Sherlock to steady him 'Easy, Sherlock!' Misunderstanding John's intentions Sherlock pulled John into a tight and very intimate embrace. 'John, why don't we -?' he whispered hoarsely, but seeing John's surprised face he was unable to finish the sentence and started giggling.
He was laughing so hard that he had to bend down and hold on to his sides. Smiling, John looked at Sherlock, and marveled about this complete loss of inhibitions. Suddenly Sherlock stumbled and fell to the ground where he sat and continued laughing.
'Sherlock, come on. Get up! We need to get you home.'
'Kiss me, John!'
'Get up first.'
'Nope!' Sherlock crossed his arms defiantly in front of his chest. John looked at him; the crossed arms, the pinched lips, the petulant look on his face. He sighed. And admitting defeat he got down on his knees and kissed Sherlock's warm lips.
'Hmm, more!' Sherlock drawled in a very seductive voice, eyes closed.
'Not here! Now come on!' Sherlock opened his eyes, 'You're such a spoilsport, Johnny!'
'Johnny?' mock outrage in John's voice. 'Yes! Why not?' Sherlock's eyes gleamed mischievously and John smiled, realizing that this evening had actually taught him a few things: No more romantic comedies for Sherlock and definitely more pub nights for both of them.
Chapter 3: At a Reception
John wants Sherlock to enjoy social interaction - mingling, small talk and the like ... Obviously, Sherlock isn't very eager to improve his skills in that area...
'Sherlock! For God's sakes, behave!' John hissed into Sherlock's ear.
'Why should I? It's just plain boring,' Sherlock didn't bother to keep his voice down causing a few shocked glances in their direction and a few eyebrows to be raised in the vicinity.
John smiled reassuringly at no one in particular and dragged Sherlock out of earshot.
'Sherlock, you knew what to expect. These people are here for you. They want to express their gratitude, assure you of their admiration.'
'Because you retrieved that wonderful Turner painting.'
'Well, that was quite an achievement, nobody else could have done it and they certainly also want to catch a glimpse of that famous boffin Sherlock Holmes. Besides, you've acquired quite a fan base, as I was told this is called.'
Sherlock scoffed at that 'But why do I have to stay here for hours, it's so stupefying! All these people, it's mind-boggling! – They talk about nothing but diseases, mortgages, schools, who's sleeping with whom – that woman over there is in for a nasty surprise by the way!'
He ran a hand through his dark curls in exasperation, 'It makes me want to snatch that painting and run!'
John closed his eyes for a moment; he had feared this kind of conversation since they had entered the reception fifteen minutes ago. Tiredly he massaged his temples, sighing.
'Sherlock, we talked about that, didn't we? We even reached an agreement. You are a person of public interest now and you have to live with a certain amount of attention. We agreed we would keep it as low-profile as possible and you assured me that you would try to be the least annoying you could possibly manage!'
John's voice had grown agitated and definitely risen above a whisper. Sherlock's turn to raise an eyebrow.
'But –' Sherlock started, John groaned, but he went on nonetheless, 'Bu-t' stressing the t in his inimitable way, 'these guests are extremely boring and ordinary. Just look at them! And those silly girls in the corner who keep staring at me as if I was a member of a boy-band.' John snorted and glanced at the group of girls who nervously huddled together, giggling, camera-phones working overtime.
'And look at that man over there. He clearly left the house in a hurry judging by the state of his tie, the stains on his shirt and the dog's hair on his trousers. Judging by the shape and position of the stains on his shirt and tie he had one, no two eggs and -'
'I see,' John cut in trying to stop the rattling off of details, clearly only serving to postpone the inevitable. He knew that Sherlock was only trying to wiggle his way out of doing his homework.
John had enough now 'Never mind that now, Sherlock. It's time to do some mingling.'
He grabbed his arm and dragged the reluctant Sherlock over to the next best person, an elderly gentleman, and introduced Sherlock, intending to leave him to his fate.
The look on Sherlock's face was indescribable; his face was displaying pain, disgust, boredom and annoyance; and all four emotions virtually at the same time.
Nevertheless Sherlock managed to produce the briefest of smiles before being exposed to a lengthy introduction to the gentleman's life; a myriad of personal details washing over him.
John excused himself, left them to it and retreated to the back of the room from where he could watch Sherlock perfectly. Sherlock aimed a pained looked at John's retreating back.
John accepted a glass of white wine from a passing waiter and settled to watch. Poor Sherlock, he looked utterly lost at sea, currently unable to employ even the most mundane conversational rules; being outwitted by the constant flow of information provided by the elderly gentleman. It seemed as if he had retreated into a stoic silence. John couldn't suppress a grin.
The elderly gentleman didn't seem to be offended by Sherlock's silence at all and had taken to introduce him to all the other people standing around them. People were grabbing his hands, competing for his attention. Two spinsters, that much apparent even to John, were cooing all over Sherlock. And the group of teenage girls was giggling hysterically, trying to get his attention, barely refraining themselves from touching him and shredding his clothes to pieces. With a doctor's eye John saw that one of them would probably start hyperventilating soon.
John chuckled when he saw the agony on Sherlock's face, his mouth pinched, and a deep furrow above his nose.
After a further ten minutes John decided that this was enough of a lesson in social interaction for one day, put down his glass and sauntered over to Sherlock who was surrounded by an ever-growing group of people now. Sherlock's eyes were pleading to be relieved from this agony.
John obliged 'Ladies and gentlemen, girls, if you please excuse us now. I'm sorry, but a new case is waiting! We've got to dash!'
John had barely ended the sentence when Sherlock had already grabbed his arm and was heading towards the exit. John managed a little wave to the disappointed fans of Sherlock Holmes and out of the room they were, accompanied by the flashing of numerous cameras, sighs and whispers.
'That went well, didn't it?' John said to Sherlock who glowered at him in disbelief. They had grabbed their coats and were quickly walking down the steps and out into the street.
'Nobody has been insulted, they all seemed very interested in you and voilà you survived as well!'
'I wouldn't bet on that!' Sherlock said grimly before he stopped, grabbed John and kissed him soundly and passionately.
Panting, Sherlock let go of him, 'My God, how I needed that, and it was either you or a cigarette and we don't want to start on that again, do we? John, I assure you if you put me through such an ordeal again I will have to do that in front of a whole room of people next time!'
'No cigarettes, Sherlock! We agreed on that and you are really doing well! - But you can use me any time.' John grinned, 'I'd do virtually anything to keep you away from the evil!'
Sherlock snorted. 'Any time?' he asked, a wicked smile playing around his lips, 'Anything?'
'Need to think about it!'
He seemed to reach a decision fairly quickly though, 'But then again. How could anyone refuse such an offer!' and John tilted his head slightly to the side and smirked.
Chapter 4: Sentiment - Valentine's Day
Sherlock shows John that he has indeed learned something from him - a short and fluffy Valentine's chapter
A day for lovers.
A day invented by florists, jeweller's, restaurant owners and retailers selling Valentine's cards, expensive perfumes and Belgian chocolates.
Or so all the lonely people reason.
Personally Sherlock had never cared much for this day. He'd never been conventional, had never adhered to traditions or customs. As a person who profoundly didn't care what others thought about him, Valentine's Day had never been on his radar. And besides, it was a day that was all about a notion that had been quite alien to him not too long ago: sentiment.
Sherlock used to consider sentiment as a chemical defect - Before John, that was. No, Valentine's Day had never been important to him.
But John was.
John woke, opened his eyes and looked around him. From what he could make out the day was grey, not yet quite bright. He blinked and tried to focus. Tiredly he rubbed his eyes and stretched his arms. Usually he would find a sleeping Sherlock next to him, but today all he found was an empty space.
From the living room he could hear a violin playing a gentle melody. A piece of music he didn't recognise and rather unlike the ones Sherlock usually played. John smiled and lay back to listen to it. It was a sweet and mournful melody, moving at a very slow pace. It tugged at John's heart and he blinked. The playing stopped. Moments later he heard soft footsteps approaching the bedroom door, it was pushed open and Sherlock entered the room. He looked sad and agitated and sweet at the same time.
He walked over to John and sat down on the bed. He only wore pyjama bottoms and his skin was cold to the touch. 'Sherlock, what's wrong?' John was anxious. 'Why were you playing sad music?'
'I just remembered -' he broke off and clasped his hands in front of his face, 'I just remembered the time before I met you - when I was alone.' He gazed at John, trying to read his face. 'I thought back to those days – what I did when I was alone. You know, like playing the violin, talking to the skull, finding company in my work. Frantically occupying my mind, doing anything not to make me feel the loneliness. I –' he hesitated.
'Yes?' John wanted him to go on.
'I just – when I played that melody – It made me all sad and then - then I realised how fortunate I am. How fortunate to have found you, to love you. How fortunate I am that you love me and that we are here – ' he gestured vaguely in the direction of their home and John understood. He understood everything that had been said and everything that had not been said. He was utterly and stupidly happy.
'I understand, Sherlock. I do.' His voice was husky. 'I was so alone before I met you and I owe you so much.' He looked at Sherlock's sombre face and went on, 'Don't be sad, my love. I'm here. I'm here with you and I always will be.'
John weaved his fingers through Sherlock's dark curls, dishevelled from sleep. He pulled him down and kissed his soft lips, gently brushing over them, before he slid out his tongue and Sherlock's lips parted and he leaned into the kiss.
When they broke off Sherlock still seemed very serious and he looked sad and forlorn. John noticed and his heart clenched at the sight of Sherlock's distress. There was something else.
'Sherlock, what's wrong? Tell me.' Sherlock didn't react at first but then he began to speak. 'I sometimes hate what sentiment does to me; it makes me all weak and – I feel out of control.' He brushed both hands through his hair in exasperation. John was surprised and a feeling very close to insecurity fluttered in his stomach.
'But there's no need to be in control all the time, Sherlock. Sometimes it's right to let go, let someone or something else take control.' John took his hand, he searched his mind to find something to convince Sherlock. 'You're not in control when we – ' motioning to the bed.
'No, you're not! I can assure you, you're not in control and you're not thinking!' There was a look of insecurity on Sherlock's face as if he didn't know what to make of that. 'It's pure instinct and I love it when you lose control like that.'
Sherlock scoffed 'But it frightens me sometimes – losing control.'
'Relax, Sherlock. You're doing fine. It's good to let go.' He caressed his hands. Sherlock smiled lopsidedly. 'Tell me, what brought this on, Sherlock.'
'That blasted Lover's Day!'
'Oh?' John frowned and then he understood, 'Valentine's Day.'
Sherlock nodded, got up and walked around the bed to the little bedside table. After some foraging in the drawer he had apparently found what he had been looking for. John watched him, curious. Sitting down on the bed next to John again Sherlock handed him a white envelope marked John in his spidery handwriting and shyly smiled at him.
John took the envelope from his hands, put himself in an upright position and leaned against the headrest. He opened the envelope and pulled out a card. He looked at it; it was a pencil drawing in black and white. It showed their living room and John sitting in his favourite chair reading a book. His face a study of concentration. 'This is wonderful, Sherlock. I didn't know you had that talent.'
Sherlock beamed. 'Open it,' he said impatiently. John opened the card, not quite knowing what to expect. It read
you are my life
John blinked and looked at Sherlock who was peering at him expectantly. John put one hand into Sherlock's curls and drew him into an embrace that expressed everything John had ever felt for Sherlock Holmes who was in fact his love and his life too.
Chapter 5: Patience
Sherlock has a sprained ankle and John cares for him - This turns out to be a rather tiring duty as Sherlock is not a pleasant patient ;-)
'JOHN! – Oh for God's sakes, where is this man when I need him?'
Sherlock was lying flat on his back, on his bed, clad in his pyjamas and his favourite blue dressing gown. His right foot was propped up on two pillows. Ice-packs covered in a pale blue terry towel were wrapped around his ankle. The bed was almost completely covered by an array of papers, books, magazines and newspapers. On the bedside table sat a plate with two cold slices of buttered toast, wilted around the edges, and next to it a half-drunk mug of lukewarm tea.
Two days ago he had been incapacitated when they had chased a burglar through ill-lit alleyways and a dog had, rather thoughtlessly, chosen to intersect its path with that of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. Happy ending for the dog: Although it had yelped in pain it had quickly trundled off in further pursuit of a bitch in heat. Sherlock, in contrast, had suffered a far worse fate. He had sprained his right ankle quite badly and, leaning heavily on John, he had hobbled to the nearest cab, gritting his teeth in pain.
It was now nearing forty-eight hours that he had been unable to move more than the ten feet to the bathroom and the ten feet back to his bed. Don't assume that he could do that alone, though. No, he had to be supported by John who had been more than glad to help.
But Sherlock was by no means a pleasant patient. He was snappy, ill-tempered, obnoxious; in one word insufferable because he was bored right down to the marrow of his bones.
'John?' trying again.
'Yes, Sherlock?' This time the answer came after a few seconds and a slight strain in John's voice was indisputable.
'I need some tea.'
'I brought you a mug ten minutes ago.'
'Need more – and don't forget to put two sugars in this time!'
'I won't, darling' John said softly between gritted teeth.
'Did you hear me?'
'YES!' John shouted, unable to hide his irritation any longer.
In the last two hours John had brewed innumerable cups of tea, Sherlock's favourite Darjeeling of course. He had buttered several slices of toast, accompanied the toast with raspberry jam –'I only like marmalade, you know that, John!' He had nipped out into the cold February morning to get newspapers and the latest gossip magazines – 'What on earth do you expect me to do with that?' In short: he had been fully occupied catering to his patient's countless whims. And an end to it was nowhere in sight.
'I'm bored. Come!'
'I can't. I'm in the middle of something.'
'What on earth could that be? Leave it and come!'
'Because I'm bloody busy, Sherlock. For God's sakes!'
'Why are you shouting?'
John let out a sigh and realized it was decidedly easier for him to simply grant his master's wishes if he ever wanted to find some peace. He went into Sherlock's bedroom.
'What is it now, Sherlock?' John tried to adopt a stern no-more-nonsense-look. A look that worked wonders on average patients but had no effect whatsoever on Sherlock.
'Bored! - I'm dying of boredom. My brain is rotting away. I'm – going – bloody – crazy!' Sherlock almost snarled and screwed his eyes shut in desperation.
'What do you expect me to do about it, Sherlock?'
'Come to me!' and aiming his sweetest smile at John he patted the space on the bed next to him as if he was beckoning a dog to come to its master. John was surprised and started to be irritated by these sudden changes of mood. He dipped his chin and puckered his lips. Sighing, he finally cleared some space between the myriad of papers and sat down on the bed next to Sherlock.
'Sherlock, listen to me. Your behaviour is absolutely intolerable – I have been on constant Sherlock-duty for the last forty-eight hours. This is worse than doing double night-shifts in hospital. I'm exhausted, Sherlock!'
'I know, John and I'm sorry.' He cocked his head and laughed mirthlessly, 'I can't help it, though. You know what I'm like when I've got nothing to do.'
'Do you want me to bring you some more old case notes? Some unsolved cases, maybe? You can go through them. It'll keep you occupied for a while.' John wanted to be helpful and find some occupation for Sherlock's mind - which was like a racehorse straining desperately to be released from the starting post and run – and just as important - he needed a few minutes of rest for himself.
'Don't be stupid!' Sherlock suddenly snapped. 'Why should I go through old stuff again. I need something new, a challenge. Really, John! Think! Use your average mental capacities - For once at least!'
John blinked, surprised by this outburst. And he was hurt, more than he thought possible. This really was the final straw, after almost two days of constant attending to an ill-tempered Sherlock. He had enough. He averted his eyes, got up and without a word walked to the door.
'Where are you going?'
'Out. I need some air.'
'You can't just leave me here. I need you!'
'See if I can't, Sherlock,' and with that John walked out of the bedroom, grabbed his jacket and left the flat.
'John!' Sherlock shouted after him. He heard the door click shut and then there was only silence.
'You stupid idiot!' Sherlock softly cursed under his breath and it was obvious that he didn't mean John. He sank back onto the bed, trying to calm down. John was gone and he was helpless. Well, maybe not as helpless as he had made him believe because having John bustling around, worrying about his welfare, being constantly at his command had been very beguiling and difficult to resist. But he was helpless nonetheless. Sentenced to immobility.
Sherlock couldn't help wondering, though, if he might actually have overdone it. If John's sudden angry departure and his bad mood were any indicators then Sherlock had some thinking to do. At least that would keep him occupied for a while. Where have I gone wrong? – Was it the constant demand for tea? – No, hardly. The newspapers? – No, John would've gone out to get our dailies anyway. Was it something I have said? Some snide remark of the kind that came streaming out of him without him even noticing? But John was used to that and knew how to take it. He racked his brain. What was it I said to John before he left in a huff?
So he lay there thinking. It didn't help to keep the nagging boredom at bay for long, though. He randomly picked up pieces of paper from the bed next. He looked at them sullenly and threw them to the floor. BORING! All of a sudden his whole body started to itch as if an army of ants was trooping the colours. He couldn't help it and started scratching, incredulous that his body was betraying him now that his mind was forced to a virtual standstill. On top of that his right eye started twitching nervously. It was as if his body had decided to spiral out of control and it was absolutely driving him crazy.
Suddenly he felt the emptiness of the flat like a weight on his chest and he started to breathe heavily. He tried to calm down his heartbeat by breathing deeply in and out and by trying to stir his thoughts away from his bodily ailments. It was more than obvious to him that he had to get up now, no matter how, and with John not being at his command he had to find another solution. The need to get up in order to fetch something, anything to occupy his mind had become overwhelming in the last ten minutes or so.
He remembered a half-full note book with the burglar-case notes that he had left on his desk in the living room two days ago. Maybe this would give his mind something to mull over and calm the army of ants dancing reels on his body. He hoisted himself into an upright position and tried to swing his injured foot from the bed onto the floor. He yelped in pain when his foot hit the floor harder than he had anticipated.
'Mrs Hudson?' he shouted because he realized that he would need some help after all. 'Mrs Hudson?' No answer. 'Oh, damn it!' he cursed and tried to lower himself onto all fours to crawl into the living room. He tried not to touch the floor with his injured ankle and managed to make a slow but steady pace towards his desk.
He was halfway there, no doubt presenting a memorable and rather undignified picture to the onlooker, when he heard an amused 'What the hell do you think you're doing, Sherlock?' Sherlock looked up and saw John standing in the hall, a smirk on his face.
'Crawling, I presume.'
'I can see that! Why aren't you in bed? Resting your ankle as I told you?'
'Because I needed to get something to keep me from going crazy! My body is itching all over and my eyes – oh hell!' Sherlock's voice was indignant. 'I'm here – crawling - because you bloody well chose to abandon me two bloody hours ago!' He was almost shouting with frustration now.
John tilted his head and looked at him 'And who might have been responsible for that, my dear Sherlock?' he asked in his patient don't-overdo it-voice. Sherlock frowned, looking up from the floor to John who for once towered over him, putting Sherlock at a distinct disadvantage in this situation.
'Well –' He started, then he noisily cleared his throat to gain some time, 'Well – um - it might have been me, actually – I might have overdone it – a bit – this ordering you around.'
'That you might just have!' John conceded, satisfaction apparent in every word. He lowered himself on his knees to face Sherlock. Sherlock looked uncomfortable, his mouth pinched as if in pain. Without a further word John helped him up and guided him back to the bedroom. He cleared all the rubbish away and tucked him back into bed. Then he sat down next to him.
'Well?' John asked.
'Well what?' Sherlock asked back although he knew exactly what John was asking for. John raised an eyebrow enquiringly and waited. Sherlock sighed. 'Alright – I want to apologize - for being such a jerk – I want to thank you for all your hard work and patient care – and I want to say sorry for being so snappy and calling you stupid, I really shouldn't have.'
Tentatively he tried an ice-breaking smile, which usually got him what he wanted from John. 'Could you not - stay with me for a while? Please? Help me to fend off this monster called boredom?' John snorted. 'Maybe we could go through some old case notes together? I could really do with a second opinion.'
John couldn't help but smile and be touched by this Sherlockian apology. Inwardly he sighed and put it down as yet another time Sherlock got what he wanted in the end.
'Maybe we could.' John replied, his anger gone. 'Or maybe we could just rest a while. Caring for you is a fulltime occupation and it's really wearing me out.' Without waiting for a reply John lay down next to Sherlock and rested his head on his chest. Sherlock carefully folded his arms around John. After a few minutes John's breathing had slowed and found a regular rhythm.
When Sherlock peered down at him he saw that his good doctor was sleeping soundly and peacefully. Smiling he kissed him on the forehead. Sherlock slowly exhaled and closed his eyes as well. Astonished he noticed that the army of ants had deserted him and that his right eye had stopped twitching.
And after more than forty-eight hours his body and more importantly his mind were finally able to find some well-earned rest alongside John.
Chapter 6: John's Birthday Party - Having Fun
I got them all together for the last chapter - Sherlock, John, Mrs Hudson, Molly, Lestrade, Donovan and of course Anderson.
A party with Sherlock? Well, not quite ... but in the end Mrs Hudson makes an interesting suggestion ... and they all play Truth or Dare.
This is the last chapter, thank you very much for all your feedback!! JJ
It was a very festive occasion.
Everybody was gathered around the big round table in their favourite Thai restaurant. Mrs Hudson looked striking in a burgundy velvet ensemble. Molly had opted for a little sparkling dress in midnight blue not unlike the one she had worn on that ill-fated Christmas party. Lestrade had even bothered to don a matching silk tie to his pale grey suit. Donovan and Anderson had come straight from Scotland Yard but had taken some care with their clothes in the morning.
It was John's birthday and he had wanted to celebrate this occasion with all their friends. Mycroft wasn't there, but then why should he be?
'Why do you invite Donovan and Anderson? They really aren't anywhere near to being friends. I'd rather have dinner with a pair of cockroaches,' Sherlock had commented when seeing the invitations. John had ignored this and various other remarks and had carried on sliding invitation cards into envelopes.
'I want to be surrounded by people we love and like - and some other people who are connected to us in some way or other.'
'But it's your birthday. What's it got to do with me?' John sighed 'You'll find out soon enough, Sherlock. Just wait and see!' Knowing full well that this was an instruction bound to drive Sherlock crazy. Sherlock, the most impatient man he had ever known.
John looked around the table and saw beaming and expectant faces. Everybody was happily chatting away. Everybody except one. His gaze moved to Sherlock who sat next to him and who looked as crisp and clean and handsome as always in his dark suit and purple shirt. Unlike the other guests, though, he looked rather sullen. John knew that he felt uncomfortable. Being confined to one place, forced to sit down and sit still for more than an hour and making conversation was an almost insurmountable obstacle for him.
John had seated Lestrade next to Sherlock, hoping that they would be able to talk shop, but Lestrade was busy chatting up Molly who was leaning towards him quite eagerly. On John's left Mrs Hudson had started confiding in him Mr Chatterjee's latest follies, leaving Sherlock rather lost and lonely between John and Lestrade.
Engaging in a conversation with Donovan and Anderson was out of the question for Sherlock and besides, these two had started to go for a little bit more than holding hands beneath the table and above it they were putting their heads together closely. Sherlock had noticed the groping underneath the table and stowed away the information for later use. He had also noticed Molly's eager tone, the flushed cheeks and all the other signs of a very telling body language. Lestrade seemed tempted.
'Is your wife having it off with the PE teacher again?' Sherlock said all of a sudden and a hush fell onto the table. A hissed 'Sherlock, please! Not today!' from John made Sherlock aware that he had actually voiced this question aloud and he murmured 'Sorry.' Everybody turned back to their conversations and Sherlock started fiddling with the napkin, absentmindedly folding little origami flowers.
The arrival of their main courses was greeted with 'Ah' and 'Lovely' by everybody except Sherlock who couldn't stop fidgeting next to John. John put a hand on Sherlock's leg which was skipping nervously up and down, constantly. John started caressing his leg, trying to calm his restlessness. Sherlock grabbed his hand and held onto it. They locked eyes for a moment, John's eyes silently begging him to hold on for just a little bit longer. Sherlock nodded almost imperceptibly and let go of John's hand.
'Anderson,' he suddenly said and John drew in a breath, unsure of what was to come. Anderson looked up, his mouth full, munching away contently. 'Anderson, tell me. You and your wife. Separated now? So you and Donovan are going public? Making it official?' Donovan glared at Sherlock. Anderson blushed and gulped down his food. 'I don't see how that could be any of your business.'
'Well, I just thought that might be the case since you're wrestling quite openly with Donovan underneath the table.'
'Sherlock, please!' Mrs Hudson piped up, but John remained silent, knowing quite well that Sherlock needed some sort of stress relief and Anderson might be just the ticket. 'And Molly!' Sherlock went on and John sighed. Molly looked startled like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
'Molly, I strongly recommend that you steer clear of all future attempts of a relationship. Judging by your inability to choose the right partner, my advice would be to stay away from Lestrade. He's a married man.' 'Sherlock!' This time in unison from Mrs Hudson and John. Molly's eyes glistened and she looked down on her hands. With a brisk movement she pushed back her chair and left the table, Lestrade followed her.
'Well done, Sherlock!' John said sarcastically, 'Was it really asking too much to keep your mouth shut for a while?' Sherlock raised both his eyebrows in an innocent what-have-I-done-gesture. And from his point of view he really didn't see where he had gone wrong. He had just been himself.
'Not good?' he asked.
'Not good at all!' John replied. 'You will have to apologise to Molly.'
When Sherlock made to get up from his chair, John motioned him to stay. 'Not now! Lestrade's gone after her.' John winked at him and Sherlock frowned. When Molly and Lestrade came back to the table an uneasy and uncomfortable silence had settled and dampened the spirit of the birthday party. Everybody seemed to be studiously inspecting the space on the table in front of them.
Suddenly Mrs Hudson's voice piped up in an attempt to diffuse the tension. 'Why don't we play a game?' she said, 'Let's play Truth or Dare!'
'Oh, for God's sakes!' Sherlock muttered under his breath, 'What will be next? Talking about the weather?' but his comment was drowned out by the happy chatter of the others who were looking forward to having some fun at last.
'Anderson,' Lestrade sneered, 'Truth or dare?' They had agreed on tequila shots for anyone opting for dare. A few rounds had already been played, some frivolous truths revealed (Molly didn't like kissing smokers, Lestrade liked to parade around naked when at home), some truths denied and therefore quite a few shots had been gulped down. In short the atmosphere was cheerful and quite pregnant with alcoholic fumes. Sherlock had so far escaped the questioning.
'I guess I will have to go for truth this time.' Anderson giggled. 'Well, what could I ask you?' Lestrade seemed at a loss, but then he asked 'How many affairs did you have in the last two years?' Mrs Hudson went 'Oops!' and put her hands up to her mouth, John sneered and Sherlock rolled his eyes. Donovan was very attentive all of a sudden.
Anderson didn't seem to be taken aback though, he made a smug face and using his fingers pretended to count. 'Well – um – let me see. One – two – three – four, no that was just a one-night stand. Three, then!' – Donovan gasped and turned to look at Anderson, 'I can't believe that, what are you going on about? - We'll talk later,' she hissed.
'Oh, please. Anderson!' Sherlock seemed flabbergasted. 'Who do you expect to believe that?' – 'I do!' Molly chimed in and Sherlock turned his gaze on her, his eyes narrowed, the corners of his mouth curling down in the ghost of a smile.
'Well, let's see who's next,' and with that Anderson spun the bottle on the smooth surface of the table cloth. The bottle came to a standstill and its neck pointed at Sherlock. 'No need to ask. I go for truth,' he said bravely trying to stare Anderson down who couldn't wipe that smug smile off his face.
'Let's stick with the topic: looove.' He pronounced it in such a silly way that made John want to smack him around the ears - hard. Anderson went on, 'Or better still – sex! Tell us, Sherlock, how many lovers have you had? It doesn't matter if men or women, just give us the number.' He sneered. All eyes turned to Sherlock who didn't seem fazed at all. He just continued to stare at Anderson who didn't know for how long he would be able to withstand the scrutiny of those piercing eyes.
'Would you please care to elaborate, Anderson. Am I supposed to include all affairs, one-night stands, gropings in dark cupboards, quickies in toilets and wanks in my bedroom?' John sniggered, Mrs Hudson actually snorted, Molly blushed and Lestrade smirked. Anderson gulped down some air, 'I don't know – um – maybe just –' He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence. 'Right, then. Let me enlighten you, Anderson. In my life there was and there is only one person that I ever considered being worth an affair, a one-night stand, a groping in a dark cupboard, a quicky in a toilet and a wank in my bedroom –' he paused for effect, 'And that's John.'
'Oh bless you, Sherlock!' John said, grabbed his face and kissed him full on the mouth. Sherlock put his arms around John and responded to this kiss with passion, much to the delight and the cheers of all - save Anderson who simply couldn't get used to the sight of these two and whose mouth had fallen open. Donovan just sat there with her mouth pinched and her arms folded across her chest, quietly fuming.
Molly, glancing sideways at Lestrade, spun the bottle on the table and broke the spell with her call 'Who's going to be next?'
It was quite late when Sherlock and John were finally on their way home.
'You said us and wait and see. Why?' John, used to those mental leaps had no difficulty catching on, 'Oh, I almost forgot!' He stopped in his tracks, started groping in the pocket of his jacket and fished out a small square box. 'For you, Sherlock.'
Sherlock looked surprised and also a little bit uneasy. 'But it's your birthday, not mine.'
'I know, but I wanted to give you something. Please take it.'
Reluctantly Sherlock took the little velvet box and opened it gingerly. John watched him looking down at the content. Sherlock's face was impassive, betraying no emotion. John's heart clenched, suddenly he doubted that it had been a good idea. Sherlock took out the plain matt silver ring and looked at it. He frowned.
'Don't worry, Sherlock.' John hastened to say, 'I'm not going to ask you to marry me or anything - I just – um - wanted us to have a token of our love.'
Sherlock looked at him steadily.
'I have got the same, actually' and John took out his ring that he had been carrying around for weeks now and put it on his left ring finger. Tenderly he took the other ring out of Sherlock's hand and carefully placed it on his left ring finger. Sherlock spread out the fingers of his left hand and looked at the ring which sat snug around his ring finger. 'Thank you,' was all he said.
John sighed, he knew Sherlock so well by now that he wasn't offended by this meagre reaction. He took Sherlock's hand and smiled at him. Sherlock smiled back and leaned down to kiss him. 'We will have to talk about that, John. But not now,' Sherlock softly said and still holding hands they walked slowly back home to 221b Baker Street.