Sherlock Holmes' Paw Stories
Chapter I - JW
John had taken the habit to sleep with his handgun under his pillow ever since they had been attacked in the middle of the night by an Indian swordsman, a month ago. The next day, he'd tried to talk Sherlock into switching rooms ("It's not my fault people assume you'd take the upper room with that arrogant attitude of yours!" "Arrogant? I'm arrogant?" "Of course you bloody are! And what are you implying?"). Like in every other fight, Sherlock had won, and John was now lying in bed in the upper room. His sleep was very light, and when he heard the stairs' steps creak right outside his room, he was on his guard. When the door to his room was pushed open gingerly, he already had a hold of his gun, although he still pretended to be asleep.
When something big and heavy jumped on his bed and roared, John fired.
The roar broke into a wail as the tiger backed off and fell from the bed. John, utterly terrified, stared. A tiger. There was a tiger in his room. This was just too much.
The beast was obviously injured and John didn't especially want to kill it – wasn't it an endangered species or something? He wanted no trouble. But he wasn't so stupid as to consider it harmless just because it was shot (only in the upper leg, it seemed). Very slowly, he climbed out of bed and gradually moved towards the door, never losing sight of the giant feline moaning on his bedroom's floor. When he got to the door, he swiftly went out and double-locked it – thank God he'd put a lock on it even before he got those nightly visits just to have a little privacy – not that Sherlock ever prowled around his room, but that was beside the point. John doubted his little lock could hold back an angry tiger intent on getting out if it tried to, so he ran down the stairs and finally screamed.
"Sherlock! SHERLOCK! It's a tiger. A bloody tiger! And it's in my room! What have you done again?"
He burst into his flatmate's room, but said flatmate was nowhere to be seen: his bed wasn't even undone.
"Oh great. Marvelous timing, Sherlock, just perfect."
He went back to the living-room, just to check he hadn't missed a sleeping form curled up somewhere, but he hadn't. Where had the idiot gone to? Leaving him to handle a tiger nonetheless...
John was furious. Cursing, he kicked a kitchen chair and nearly slipped on something lying on the floor.
He froze. Clothes. Those were clothes. Sherlock's clothes. John's head swirled and he had to sit down.
Rubbing his temples, he tried to make sense out of this – no Sherlock, his clothes on the kitchen's floor, and a tiger in his room... John cursed under his breath. His mobile phone was in his room, too. Yup, with the tiger. Great, just great. Maybe he could try to break into Mrs. Hudson's flat (she was away at her sister's for a few days) and call Sherlock – or Mycroft, because Sherlock never answered his phone anyway, and especially not when he just disappeared without prior notice.
The agonizing wail upstairs wasn't stopping, and John wondered what he'd tell the neighbours if they came to complain or even worse, called the police.
"Sorry, it's just a tiger, please don't worry."
But seriously, what was it doing here? Did it escape a zoo? He'd have to check that online later – for now, he had to stop the irritating wailing or the stupid cat would end up waking up the whole street. John went to the medical cabinet to pick some morphine and bandages, but still held the gun firmly as he walked up the stairs and carefully opened the door to his room and turned the light on. The tiger was still lying on the floor, and stopped wailing the second John came in the room. He stared at it: what the hell? Was it just acting?
Aiming the gun at it and keeping his distance, John turned around the beast to check its injury, if only from afar.
"Don't you dare move, kitty, or I swear I will shoot you right between the eyes."
The tiger blinked, twice. Then it fixed a haughty gaze on John, who couldn't believe what he saw. He frowned.
"No more wailing? I thought you were hurt."
He came closer as the tiger gave him a look. I amhurt, you idiot. Can't you tell? the pale eyes seemed to say. Those were very weird eyes for a tiger, quite eerie in fact, John thought – although he was more concerned about the paws and teeth, to be honest.
John noticed the bullet had pierced through the flesh and wasn't still in the wound, which was good news – for the tiger, anyway. It was still bleeding quite abundantly, and as a doctor, John knew he had to stop the hemorrhage before it was too late. A wild tiger probably would recover from this rather easily, but this one was probably held in captivity somewhere. Still, John couldn't fathom how it got here in the first place. Would he be in trouble if it died? It had been self-defence, though. Anyone with a gun in hand and a tiger jumping on their bed would have fired.
"Okay, listen here. I need to stop the bleeding so I'll have to touch you... wait, actually, this is crazy, let me just call the police and a vet or something."
He walked to get his phone but suddenly the tiger was on him and he fell on his back. On edge, John ignored the paws digging into his shoulders and held the tiger at gunpoint. Their eyes locked, and John wavered: the feline's were filled with fear and pleading.
"What are you?"
It grunted and fell back to the floor as its left leg gave way under its body. John seized the opportunity and applied pressure around the wound, then on the different pressure points that were more likely to help stop the bleeding. The tiger emitted a sound like a whimper and John almost felt bad for it.
"I'm sorry I shot you, but what were you doing on my bed, really?"
If he hadn't known better, John would have said the giant cat glared at him – but it was a tiger for goodness' sake, it couldn't glare.
"You remind me someone – damn him, by the way, leaving me with a bloody tiger in the flat..."
John jumped back as the tiger snarled at him, and picked the gun nimbly.
"Don't. Move. I have no qualms shooting a man, don't think for one second I'll balk at shooting a big cat."
He could have sworn he saw a flash of hurt traverse its gaze, but soon it was gone and the tiger rested its head on the floor and played dead. John was so puzzled by its attitude he was rendered speechless. He treated the wound, and tried to ignore the pained growls of the tiger. It really looked like a big cat, from up close – the doctor was surprised by the softness of its fur. Tamed, it was just like a giant plushy toy, in better. John couldn't help but smile: he had to admit that having such an exotic predator submitting to him stroked his ego. He didn't catch the sidelong glance the tiger sent him, as if reading his thoughts and taking them badly.
"Here we go. Now, just let me make a call..."
The tiger roared and made John jump.
"What is wrong with you? I don't care if you're not happy, I need to make a call so someone comes and brings you home!"
Gingerly, the tiger got up, and teetered to the door.
"Where are you going? Wait!"
He grabbed his phone and ran after the tiger which somehow made its way down the stairs and crashed on the last step.
"You're injured, for God's sake! What's wrong with my room?"
Nothing was wrong with his room, it seemed: the tiger was just interested in Sherlock's clothes lying on the kitchen floor.
"Wait, he'll rant for hours if you ruin these..."
He stopped dead in his tracks and stared. The tiger had rolled into a ball on his flatmate's very expensive clothes, as if it owned them.
"You're... don't tell me you're Sherlock's pet?" John staggered.
The tiger groaned in dismay. It left the clothes there and limped to Sherlock's room, jumping onto the bed and rolling on its back. It sent John a look. John just goggled.
"Right. I have no idea what you're saying. Please do take the bed, it's not like he uses it. If you're Sherlock's pet, I'm going to kill him..."
This earned him a snarl and he backed off.
"Okay, okay, let me just call him, all right?"
He picked his phone and dialled Sherlock's number. It rang in the kitchen. John cursed.
"How could he leave his phone when he didn't even tell me where he was going?" he asked desperately, looking at the beast on the bed.
The tiger shrugged and ignored him, as if he were too stupid to be worth his time.
"God I swear you're just like him, so bloody arrogant and capricious and... No... Don't tell me..."
A glimmer of hope flickered in the pale eyes that regained interest in him. John felt his leg waver and had to sit on the bed.
"Sherlock... are you Sherlock?"
The tiger blew in his face and it sounded like a relieved sigh. Finally, he seemed to tell him.
"Oh God I've gone bonkers..."
He was interrupted yet by another roar, and jumped.
"Would you please stop doing that?"
Sherlock sent him a dark look and scoffed. John had never seen a scoffing tiger, and his bewilderment was increasing by the second.
"What have you done?"
The tiger glanced at him as if he were an idiot – and maybe he was, talking to a tiger on his flatmate's bed in the middle of the night.
"You can't be Sherlock. Is there a hidden camera or something? Someone must have trained you to react like that..."
Sherlock just shook his head and his eyes were growing desperate – because of John's stupidity, that is.
"How am I supposed to bloody believe you've turned into a tiger?"
Said tiger winced at the outburst and jumped off from the bed and stumbled as he landed on his injured leg. He left the room and John was too tired to follow it. This was crazy. His life was crazy.
A minute later, the tiger was back, holding the Cluedo box in his mouth. John couldn't help but shiver at the sight of his jaw. Then it dawned on him.
"Jesus. You really are Sherlock."
The tiger dropped the box.
"I'm sorry I shot you. What were you thinking jumping on my bed like that?"
Sherlock averted his gaze and jumped back onto the bed, sitting next to John. The whole picture was rather comical.
"So... what do we do now? Should I call Mycroft?"
It was the tiger's turn to jump, and his snarl was so violent John thought he would go for the jugular vein.
"All right, calm down, I won't call him. But Sherlock, you need someone to..."
He was cut off by the tiger putting a paw on his thigh and stared, dumbfounded. You, said the gesture, and it was so sweet John didn't know what to say. He couldn't help but glance at the tiger somewhat suspiciously – this was not Sherlockian in the least, after all. Then again, if he really had been turned into a tiger, he would probably feel pretty hopeless. John smiled and petted his head, right between the ears.
"Okay. Okay, Sherlock."
It was amazing how smooth a tiger's fur was – it gave John this peculiar feeling of cosiness he thought was only possible with a fellow human being. He'd never been one for animals – he had nothing against them of course, but he wouldn't want to have a pet. He much preferred fellow human company.
"You know, maybe I like you better in Tigger form."
"Oh come on, don't tell me you've never heard of Winnie the Pooh?"
The tiger rolled his eyes and let his head fall onto the pillow dramatically.
"I should have gotten a camera. Really. You have no idea how well this would sell."
This owed him a death glare and a threatening growl. Somehow, Sherlock's exposed canines weren't as fluffy as the rest. John swallowed.
"Right. No camera. I don't have one anyway."
As he stroke the tiger's back down his spine, he seemed to think of something funny, and bit his lips to stop himself from laughing. Sherlock arched his brow – and such a sight did nothing to calm John's impending laughter.
Since John wasn't giving him the explanation he was obviously demanding, Sherlock thought it good to hiss and swing his tail to show his displeasure. John ignored him and played with an ear instead, relishing in the smoothness. Moving to the cheeks, he ran his fingers through the fluffy white hair on each side of the indignant face.
"I was just thinking that it'd be funny if Mycroft had left any of his surveillance camera in the flat."
Sherlock's ears flattened and his pupils dilated. He snarled. John frowned and pressed a finger to his muzzle, startling him efficiently. He noted a bewildered tiger was a very comical sight.
"Look, you're the one who somehow managed to turn into a tiger, so don't take it out on me, all right? I'm sorry I shot you, but you had it coming."
Something like pain flashed in the translucent eyes and John regretted his words instantly. He hadn't meant the reference to the wall of Sherlock's bad habit to shoot at it when he was bored. It also reminded him Sherlock must be feeling so very lost and out of place. He resumed his petting and sent him an apologetic look.
"Sorry, Sherlock, didn't mean it that way. But hell, I'm talking to a tiger as if it were my flatmate, what do you expect me to do? This is insane, you know. Bloody insane. Like everything related to you, really."
Sherlock just turned his head the other way.
"Oh, stop flying off the handle to every word I say! You're such a complete tosser sometimes. Most of the time."
He started playing with the paw closest to him – it was exactly like a cat's, except in much bigger. Again, John couldn't help but melt. What was wrong with him? He liked cats, but wasn't dotty about them either. He couldn't figure out why playing with tiger-Sherlock was so much fun.
As he shifted a bit on the bed, he accidentally brushed against the injured leg, eliciting a pitiful groan from his feline flatmate.
"Oops, sorry. Guess it'd be better if you lied on the other side of the bed."
The tiger complied and John marvelled: he was being so obedient it was almost out of character. As if reading his thoughts, Sherlock rolled on the side and glared. John chuckled and moved to rest on his elbow, Roman-style.
"On second thought, you really have weird eyes. For a tiger, I mean," he added precipitately.
John wasn't sure whether the tiger scoffed or pouted disdainfully, but either way, it looked so silly it was actually cute. Cute? What's got into you, John Watson, a tiger isn't cute. Sherlock isn't cute!
He caught the scrutinizing stare and grinned.
"Can't read those thoughts, can you? No wonder, they're so stupid... Oh, don't give me that "as-if-you-weren't-always-stupid" look or I'll stop petting you."
The tiger's eyes turned into slits and John dared stroke his throat as if he were merely a giant fluffy cat. He smirked.
"Don't lie, Sherlock. I know you like it. You are purring."
The mortified look on the tiger's face was ridiculously funny. Apparently he hadn't realized until now that he was indeed purring. He turned away abruptly, breaking contact with John, and rolled on his other side, turning his back to him.
"Oh, come on, nothing's wrong with that. It's not as if you were purring in human form..."
John had the very bad idea to actually picture that, and this time couldn't hold back a chuckle. He buried his face into the warm and incredibly soft fur and laughed. To his surprise, Sherlock didn't bite him nor did he jump from the bed and leave. He was being a great pillow, and suddenly John felt very tired. If he could get away with this, maybe he should just go back to sleep and deal with kitty Sherlock in the morning.
"I mean, it can't get any worse, right?" he mumbled against Sherlock's back. "So it can wait..."
John had had the fright of his life (well, maybe not, but still, waking up with a tiger on his bed wasn't one of his best experiences), and was now holding a very warm and comfortable giant cat as a pillow. The fact that it was a tiger and apparently his insufferable flatmate to boot only made it more flattering. Who could ever boast that they had tamed a tiger and made Sherlock Holmes purr in the span of one night? Hell, in a lifetime, really...
Those pleasant thoughts and the warmth of the giant pet in his arms were lulling John back to sleep.
But before he fell into a deep slumber, he added in a drowsy whisper:
"I lied... Fluffy tiger's fun, but I still like you in human form too..."
When he woke up in the morning, John was very surprised to find himself in Sherlock's bed. With no trace of Sherlock. He panicked and wondered what the hell they had done, but he couldn't recall drinking or anything of the sort that would have led to... this.
Then it hit him. The tiger. He jumped out of bed.
John froze. Sherlock was standing in the kitchen, bending over his microscope. Perfectly human.
"What were you doing in my bed? I have no idea. How did I sleep? Very well, thank you, though not much."
"But... the tiger..."
Sherlock looked up and arched an eyebrow through his goggles.
"Are you still sleeping?"
Speechless, John fell back on a chair.
"Where did you go last night?"
"Went out for the Russian roulette case. I've solved it, by the way."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You were sleeping so peacefully, and you didn't hear me when I called the first time, so.."
John eyed him suspiciously, but Sherlock was already back experimenting and seemed to consider the discussion over.
"Right. Well, I think I need an aspirine."
Had he looked back before leaving the room, he would have caught the relieved expression on his friend and flatmate's face.
Art by Ami-Cat