The sky was already fading; vibrant hues of orange and red spreading like watercolor across the dusky canopy above. Mycroft shifted on the high limb, clenching and unclenching his talons as he focused his luminous eyes on the softly glowing dam far below. Rustling his glossy speckled feathers in amusement, he dipped his head slightly and hooted softly into the dark. Anthea, a moon-faced barn owl, alighted gracefully on the branch next to Mycroft.
“You called?” She queried, preening her golden wings idly.
“I did indeed.” Mycroft narrowed his round blue eyes and clicked his beak,
“What do you see, over there---no, down there, in the dam.”
Anthea swiveled her head in the direction Mycroft was indicating.
“A little brown hedgehog in a striped jumper—that’s rather odd, isn’t it?”
“It seems our dear Sherlock has made a friend.”
“What then—increase surveillance?”
“I think that’s in order.”
Raising himself to his full height, Mycroft acknowledged Anthea with a nod of his head and then took off into the darkening sky.
When John awoke, Sherlock was staring down at him curiously, his head balanced on his folded paws.
“You snuffle when you’re asleep,” He noted, licking the downy fur on John’s nose.
“So do you,” the hedgehog batted Sherlock’s tongue away and got to his feet, arching his back leisurely, “Where’d you get these?”
The entire inside of the dam was ringed with small bell jars full of what looked like winking stars.
“Fireflies,” Sherlock explained, his tail thumping against the wood floor, looking extremely pleased with himself, “I thought you might like them.”
“Er—thank you Sherlock.”
John waddled over and licked him affectionately, ruffling the russet fur on the top of his head.
“Mycroft’s been watching us,” Sherlock sighed, letting his head drop back onto his paws, “I expect he’ll want to meet you.”
“And Mycroft is—.”
“You know that Great Horned owl that sits in the oak tree by Applegate Lane?”
“Yes, well. He won’t be getting to you, I can ensure that.” Sherlock pulled John close and nipped lightly at his quills.
“I wish you’d stop doing that. My back isn’t a fancy array of toothpicks, you know.”
Sherlock chuckled and yawned widely, buffeting John with a torrent of hot breath. A delicate scurrying from above interrupted the peaceful silence, and the two looked around for the source. Timid as ever, Molly edged through a crack in the sticks, her slender whiskers quivering with nervous excitement.
“There’s been a murder!” She squeaked, eyes flitting between the pair of them, “Lestrade wants you there as quickly as possible!”
“Details?” Sherlock leapt to his feet and began pacing.
“It was one of the—” Molly faltered for a moment, running her tiny paws through her mousey fur, “—it was one of the hounds.”