John Watson woke up gradually. He was curled into a foetal position, cocooned under a thick duvet, feeling safe and warm. It was such a rare occurrence he fought hard against consciousness before finally giving up. This bed was much more comfortable than the one at the M.O.D. flat. Even if he hadn't already made his mind up, that settled it. He'd go collect his stuff later and officially move in to 221B Baker Street.
He rolled onto his back and stretched... and swore as his leg viciously reminded him of the strain he'd put on it the night before, after he'd done nothing but limp on it for months. His limp might be psychosomatic but the muscle atrophy it had caused was all too real.
He fumbled for his watch on the bedside table and peered groggily at it. Wow - nearly ten. He hadn't slept so deeply since before he went to Afghanistan. Of course he hadn't spent too many days running across London, chasing after murderous cabbies and mental consulting detectives either.
He threw on his clothes and winced his way downstairs to see about some breakfast.
Sherlock was already up, dressed - impeccably - and fiddling with something in a beaker at the kitchen table. He didn't look up from it as John entered the room. "Ah, John, good - you're awake. I told Lestrade we'd be there by eleven."
"Sorry, what? Be where?"
"Scotland Yard, to give him our statements." Sherlock frowned at him. "You don't have memory problems, do you?"
"No, my memory is absolutely fine, thanks." John pointed at his new flatmate. "Sherwood, wasn't it?"
"Very funny, John." Sherlock returned his attention to his beaker. "It's a common enough symptom amongst PTSD sufferers. I was merely checking. After all, you already have a hand tremor, a psychosomatic limp and trouble sleeping. Memory problems would not be unexpected."
"Nope - memory is good and I slept like a log last night, thanks." John stretched his arms above his head and yawned hugely. "Eleven? OK. Just let me grab a quick cuppa and I'll be good to go."
He grabbed the handle of the fridge and pulled the door open; an empty white desolation met him.
"Ah. Right. No problem. I'll grab some shopping later. Is there any coffee?" John refused to have tea without milk but he could manage coffee.
"Two sugars for me," was Sherlock's response - which John took to be affirmative.
"Right." John checked the kettle had enough in it for two mugs and flicked it on. He scratched the stubble on his chin as he waited for it to boil. Black instant coffee - breakfast of champions. Just the thing to set him up for trying to pull the wool over the eyes of London's finest...
Sherlock breezed in to Scotland Yard as if he owned the place with John bobbing along in his wake.
John was pretty sure it shouldn't be this easy to just walk into the headquarters of one of the largest police forces on the planet. Shouldn't there be more security procedures? Other than a quick ID check at the front door - which Sherlock blatantly ignored - nobody did more than glance at them. Several of those who did meet Sherlock's eyes hastily turned the other way as if he was a fight they would rather not have. John got a few more looks but whatever untouchable aura Sherlock was giving off must extend to him as well.
It was all smooth sailing until they met the storm-laden countenance of Detective Sergeant Sally Donovan.
"What now, freak? Haven't you caused enough trouble?" Donovan's less than friendly greeting assaulted Sherlock and John almost as soon as they stepped from the lift into the Homicide and Serious Crime Command's office. She rose from her desk and strode towards them, stopping them from advancing any further.
"Lestrade asked us to come down today to give statements. So here we are," Sherlock replied.
"Since when do you do what you're asked?" Donovan looked round Sherlock to where John was standing. "You not run away yet? Has he got something on you or are you just a masochist?"
Sherlock cut in before John could answer. "Is he here?"
Donovan leaned back on the edge of the desk nearest her. "Course he's here. Wading through that shit-load of paperwork you generated last night." Her eyes narrowed as she looked at Sherlock then she folded her arms triumphantly. "I know what it is. You want to know if you picked the right pill. Tough luck - chemical analysis isn't back yet."
"I know I picked the right pill." Sherlock couldn't keep the frustration out of his voice at having his motives guessed. "I'd like to know what was in it."
Donovan said nothing but her face had Yeah, right, written all over it.
A gruff bellow came from the corner office. "Donovan! If that's Sherlock, tell him to get his arse in here!"
Sherlock swept past Donovan but she put her arm out to block John's way as he followed. "Not you, just the Freak. He'll call you in after. You can wait there." She pointed at a couple of uncomfortable looking plastic chairs next to the water cooler.
John helped himself to some water and settled down. He didn't have long to wait. Barely ten minutes later Lestrade's door opened again and Sherlock exited. John stood up, unsure of whether Sherlock would be staying or going and what he should do.
"Dr Watson - could you come in here, please?" Lestrade called.
Sherlock plopped himself down into the chair John had just vacated and fished out his phone. He flashed John a brief, sardonic smile. "Don't worry, John. I assure you Lestrade's bark is much worse than his bite."
John stepped into the small office and closed the door behind him.
Lestrade was busily writing some notes on a large pad of paper. He gestured to the chair on the other side of his desk without looking up. "Take a seat please, Dr Watson. This shouldn't take long. Just tidying up some loose ends, you understand."
John nodded and sat down. Lestrade continued writing and John took the opportunity to take a quick look around the office and then a better look at its occupant. Yesterday had all been a bit of a blur and John hadn't formed much of a picture of anyone he'd met other than Sherlock. When his new flatmate was in full flow everyone else seemed to fade into the background.
So... Lestrade. The D.I. looked exhausted and John wondered how much sleep, if any, he'd managed to get since they'd left him at the college last night. The bags under his eyes and his greying hair made him look older but on closer inspection John would put him at mid-to-late forties; just short of six feet tall; carrying a few extra pounds, no doubt thanks to the desk he was currently sitting behind, but certainly not fat, just a bit soft round the middle.
Snuggly, John's treacherous libido supplied. He coughed and cleared his throat as he ruthlessly suppressed that line of thinking.
Lestrade looked up at him in surprise. He had warm, dark brown eyes, like melted chocolate, mouth slightly open, could just slip my tongue i... Stop it! John coughed again and looked away.
Funny, he usually leaned more towards women than blokes but this was the second time in as many days he'd been instantly attracted to a man he'd just met. One a complete nutter who' declared himself 'married to his work' and the other a policeman who was about to ask him some very awkward questions. You do know how to pick 'em, John... He chuckled to himself.
"Something funny, Dr Watson?"
"No, no, sorry." John apologised, instantly straight-faced again. "You take your time."
"No problem, I'm done anyway. Can I just check a few particulars?"
John confirmed his details as Lestrade read them off various reports on his desk; name, date of birth, place of birth. Current address? He gave Baker Street. As of...? Yesterday, before that he was in M.O.D. accommodation. Yes, he was recently discharged after serving in Afghanistan; no, he hadn't got a job yet.
"How'd you meet Sherlock?" Lestrade asked.
"Mutual friend. He knew I was looking for cheap accommodation and Sherlock was looking for someone to split the rent with."
"A friend thought you might want to share a flat with Sherlock Holmes? Bloody hell - what had you done to piss him off?" Lestrade looked incredulous but John could tell he was joking and took it as a rhetorical question. Lestrade leaned back in his chair, fiddling with his pen in the textbook manner of an ex-smoker. "So, you met Sherlock on Friday and moved in with him yesterday. Bit quick, isn't it?"
John had heard this before. "Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?"
"It was a good deal. It's the end of the month so there was no reason to put it off and I don't have a lot of things to move."
"Yeah, I noticed not much of the stuff in the flat was yours."
"I'm getting most of it later - but, like I said, there's not a lot anyway."
"Easier to be neater with less stuff, I suppose. If only Sherlock was that tidy," Lestrade said wistfully. "So, care to tell me exactly what happened after we left Baker Street last night?"
John took a deep breath and tried to sound as bored as possible. "I already told Sergeant Donovan at the college. I tracked the GPS on the pink phone and saw it had left Baker Street. Sherlock didn't have it so I realised he must have gone with - or followed - whoever did. I got another cab and followed the signal to the college. That's when I called you. I could see the phone in the cab but there was no-one there and I didn't know which building they were in. I took a guess and was trying to find a way in when I heard the shot."
Lestrade held his hand up to interrupt John's flow. "From the building you were trying to get into or the other one?"
John knew his fingerprints would be all over the doors - he wasn't stupid. Sadly, it looked like Lestrade wasn't either. He'd have to watch for that. Hanging around Sherlock could easily make you underestimate everybody else. "The one I was at. I got in and ran up the stairs to roughly where I thought the noise had come from. I could see the lights in the other building and the bullet hole in the glass. I didn't see Sherlock - I think he was trying to help the cabbie."
"You ran towards the sound of the shot?"
"I thought that's where Sherlock would be - and even if he wasn't, somebody else might be hurt... and I'm a doctor."
"...Fair enough. And you didn't see anybody else?"
"No. I ran back downstairs to try to get into the other building but then you lot showed up. I waited for Sherlock to come out and then we left. We grabbed some take-away from a Chinese restaurant on Baker Street, took it home, ate it and went to bed. Separately, before you say anything. I've already had more than enough of people jumping to the wrong conclusion. He's just my flatmate, nothing else."
"Mmm-hmm." Lestrade leaned forward again and made a few notes. He sniffed and rubbed at his nose a couple of times as he wrote.
John wondered if Lestrade was getting a cold - common at this time of year and his immune system was probably run-down.
Lestrade looked straight up into John's eyes. "So if I had you tested right now, the only residue on your hands would be from prawn crackers?"
John's stomach clenched as he remembered that, despite Sherlock suggesting it straight away, he hadn't actually done anything about cleaning his hands the night before. He'd hidden the gun in his new room then fallen asleep. "No. We didn't have any prawn crackers."
Lestrade held John's gaze for a minute but John had been eye-balled by some of the hardest Sergeants Major in the British army. He looked steadily back, even going so far as to raise his eyebrows as if to say Are we done here?
Lestrade smiled. "Alright, Dr Watson, you're free to go. Thank you for your time."
"Unless you have anything you'd like to add?"
"No. Nothing I can think of."
Just before John stood up Lestrade asked, "So, who's been saying they think you and Sherlock are a couple?"
"God, everybody!" John sat back again and rolled his eyes. "Sergeant Donovan, Mrs Hudson - that's the landlady; the bloke at the restaurant last night; even my bloody sister and my supposed best mate have been making comments on my blog!"
"The mate who set you up with Sherlock?"
"No, that was Mike - different friend. Bill was in the RAMC with me."
"So you're single? No girlfriend? Or boyfriend?"
Something in the way Lestrade asked made John pause before answering. "Not at the moment, no."
Lestrade held his hands up apologetically. "Sorry. Just surprised is all. Thought all you handsome young doctors were meant to be beating them off with a shitty stick." Lestrade grinned and John tried very hard to ignore the fact he'd just been called handsome for the first time in ages - and by someone to whom the word more than applied.
"Maybe when I get a job again," John replied. "Unemployment isn't that attractive."
"I'm sure you'll find something soon. If only to get out of the house and away from His Nibs." Lestrade gestured with his pen in the vague direction of where Sherlock was sitting.
"Sherlock can't be that bad."
Lestrade leaned back again, chuckling. "You poor sod. You've got no idea, have you? Good luck, Dr Watson. I think you're going to need it."
John closed the door of Lestrade's office behind him and took a deep breath. He certainly would need it if he was going to let his hormones get the better of him like that. What the hell was wrong with him?
John headed straight for the lifts, speaking to Sherlock as he passed. "Come on. I'm done. Let's get home and we can sort out that rental agreement."
"Milk," Sherlock replied. He stood up and followed John without looking up, texting furiously on his phone.
"Fine. Home via Tesco..."
Lestrade watched Sherlock and John all the way out of the office until the lift doors closed in front of them.
As if Sherlock isn't complicated enough on his own... What the hell is your story, Dr Watson? And why did I just start flirting with you like a complete idiot?
Donovan knocked on his open door and came in. "Freak's new boyfriend in the clear then?"
Lestrade sighed. "Sherlock's not a freak and Dr Watson isn't his boyfriend."
"Could have fooled me - on both counts."
"Which is why Sherlock has to keep pointing things out to you, Sally," Lestrade snapped, instantly regretting it. "Sorry... Look, just... please, don't call him that. Apart from anything else, it's unprofessional."
"Doesn't mean it's not accurate," Donovan muttered.
"We're all freaks, Sally. Some of us just hide it better than others..."
Sherlock waited until they'd left the building to ask John how it had gone. "All sorted?"
"Yes, fine. He seemed more interested in my love life than anything else."
Sherlock stopped walking and looked thoughtful. "Oh? That could be useful."
John shook his head as he walked away. "No, Sherlock, it really couldn't..."