John let out a loud, disgruntled sigh as he flung his beige messenger bag onto the plush, red velvet seat of the house, ignoring the amused and shocked faces of his new peers that stood on the stage. He carefully leaned his cane against the seat, already embarrassed that these people had to see him using it. He removed his water bottle from his bag. After a long swig, John managed to remind himself that he was late, and should join the others. He climbed the stairs to the stage slowly, gripping the railing tightly.
“It’s kind of you to join us,” the teacher smiled. He had a clipboard in his hands that he was examining. “You must be... John Watson.”
“I am,” John nodded, adjusting himself so that his weight fell completely on his good leg.
“Welcome to the class, John. I’m Greg Lestrade,” the silver haired man said easily. “I will be your mentor these next few weeks. I was just informing the rest of the class that we will be using this class as a lesson and rehearsal period. There will be a showcase at the end of the session for your families.”
“Wonderful,” John breathed out through his nose loudly. “That is bloody brilliant.”
“We don’t curse, John,” Lestrade corrected. “It’s impolite.”
“I told him earlier he should speak for himself,” a young man interjected from across the staged. “Perhaps he does not curse, but we most certainly do.”
Lestrade turned his attention to the dark haired boy that was staring at him with a blank face. “Sherlock, I do hope you will not be influencing our newest member with your crass remarks.”
“I will surely try my best to do so, Lestrade, yes,” Sherlock shrugged.
John closed his eyes briefly. He had forgotten the type of people that he would encounter during these sessions. To his parents, this had seemed like a wonderful alternative to therapy sessions.They had informed him that these acting classes would make him feel better. John reopened his eyes to see that everybody was watching him.
“I won’t be a trouble,” John finally said. “Let’s just, uh, move on, or something. I can keep up.”
“I know you won’t be,” Lestrade said, finally tearing his disapproving stare away from the boy he called Sherlock. With a clap of his hands, the animated smile returned to his face. “Let’s start introductions. Circle up! Some of you are familiar faces, but we do have some new friends. I’ll start. I’m Greg Lestrade. I’m here because I used to be a student, and now I want to help other kids, like this class helped me.”
The girl next Lestrade looked nervous. “Uh, hi, I’m Molly Hooper. I’m here because my mum thought this was be a good way for me to get over my dad’s death.”
“I’m Anderson. Just Anderson,” the boy next to her huffed. “I’m here because my dad thinks therapists don’t do nothing, but he knows I need help cause of my acting out in school. He just doesn’t know why, the git.”
John realized it was his turn. “I’m John Watson, and I guess I’m here because my parents are worried about me.”
He was surprised that Lestrade accepted that as a reason. He just nodded at John and gave him an encouraging smile. It occurred to John that he was the only new member of this class, that this was all for his benefit.
“I’m Sally Donovan,” the girl beside John said strongly, her hand resting on her slightly pregnant belly. “And I’m here because my parents think it’ll help me sort this out.”
John could not help but to stare at her. He knew that plenty of teenagers get pregnant, but he had never actually met one. He tore his eyes away, and was pleased that nobody had been paying him any attention.
“My name is Sherlock Holmes,” the dark haired boy stated simply.
“And?” Lestrade coaxed.
“And I am most definitely here,” Sherlock examined his hand, purposely annoying Lestrade by refusing eye contact.
“All right, fine,” Lestrade massaged the bridge of his nose. “Moving on to you, Jeff.”
“I’m Jeff Hope,” a boy with wire glasses told them. “I’m here because I got in a bit of a scuffle at school.”
“Jim Moriarty,” the final boy said, revealing a whiney, American accent laced with a faint Irish lilt. “I, like Sherlock, am here.”
John watched Sherlock roll his eyes and curl his lip at the other boy’s words. He looked to Lestrade, who simply glanced to the ceiling, as if pleading with a higher power. After a few seconds, Lestrade looked back down and was smiling again.
“Great, good,” he nodded. “Let’s stretch out for a bit, and then I’ll let you on your way.”
The last thirty minutes of the class were spent running through the different stretches that the group was to do at the beginning of each lesson. John found himself enjoying this part of the day. It felt good to stretch his stiff shoulder muscles and remind his bad leg what it was like to have a full cycle of motion.
“We didn’t get into it this week, but next week we will start with the actual work,” Lestrade stood up, brushing off his trousers. “Have a good week, and remember to grab a yellow sheet on the way out. It has my mobile number on it, just in case you need help or need to talk.”
John was the last off the stage. He picked up one of the sheets from the edge of the stage before going to his bag. His new classmates were all around him, picking up their own bags and talking with each other. John shouldered his messenger bag, and picked up his cane, thankful to have something to lean on again, despite how much it bothered him to use it.
“Watch yourself,” a voice growled, John recognized it as Anderson’s. “Freaks like you shouldn’t be allowed around society.”
John turned to see that Anderson had trapped Sherlock against the railing that blocked the orchestra pit from the audience. Anderson was clutching the collar of Sherlock’s button down. Sally was standing beside Anderson, a small smirk on her face. John looked up on stage, only to realize that Lestrade had left. He sighed before walking over to the trio.
“Hey,” he said, stopping in front of them. “What are you doing there, mate?”
“Mind your own business,” Anderson focused his eyes on John.
“Why don’t you just let him go?” John suggested.
“You’re new, mate, so let me give you a quick lesson. Nobody doesn’t get in the way of me,” Anderson groaned. “This little freak, here, hasn’t learned that. I hope you’re a faster learner.”
Sherlock winced and tilted his head to the side. “Anderson, I do fear you are lowering the IQ of the room. John has hardly had the time to build up a resistance to your stupidity.”
“Bollocks,” Anderson hissed, pushing away from Sherlock. He paused, thinking better of it, and turned to push Sherlock as well. “See you next week, homo. Maybe the new kid won’t have to fight your battles for you.”
With that, Anderson bounded away with Sally right behind him. Sherlock pulled the hem of his shirt, attempting to straighten the wrinkles from it. He raised his eyebrows as he let out a long sigh. John looked up at the boy, who stood a good four or five inches over him.
“I suppose I’ll be seeing you next week, then, John,” Sherlock nodded his head to him.
John watched him toss a blue scarf around his neck and shrug into a sweeping, black coat. He continued to watch him leave the house all together. “Yeah, all right, you’re welcome.”
He started out of the house, only to be stopped by Jim Moriarty. The boy stared at him for a moment before giving him a strangely wide smile. John nodded to him and smiled weakly.
“Oh, hello, Jim, right?” John said, though he knew the answer.
“Yes, but call me Moriarty,” he said, the scarily wide smile not dropping. “Have a good week, John.”
“Yeah, uh, same to you,” John's eyebrows knit together.
He stopped outside of the theatre and looked around the streets. His mother’s car was parked a block down. John shook his head in annoyance, and started towards it, leaning on his cane heavily. He was regretting not using his cane during the actual class. He got into the passenger side of the car, and was met with his mother’s smiling face. It was a fake smile, but it was a smile all the same.
“How was it?” she asked, merging into traffic. “You meet any friends.”
“It was all right,” John sighed, and leaned his head against the windowpane. “I met some people, but I wouldn’t call them friends.”
“Make some friends, John,” she said, the smile falling.