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A Valentine's Day Mystery

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It never occured to John that it was less than one week out from St. Valentine’s Day. The only thing that mattered was that Sherlock had been acting oddly -- well, more oddly than usual, and he was starting to grow concerned.

On Tuesday, John awoke to find Sherlock was already gone. No note, of course, but on turning on the overhead light, he received a shock: the kitchen counter was piled high with bottles full of an amber liquid which revealed themselves, upon closer examination, to be jars of honey. There were, in fact, so many jars barricading the stove that it took John a full 10 minutes to free the kettle only to find its handle and lid liberally coated in the sticky stuff. Grumbling under his breath about ridiculous experiments and insufferable boyfriends, John clumped downstairs to beg a cuppa off of Mrs. Hudson, vowing to make Sherlock clean up the mess later.

On Wednesday, a mysterious package arrived for him at the clinic. There was no return address, but John recognized the neat, angular handwriting immediately. It was lucky he took the thing back to his office to open because, on further examination, he found nestled inside the bubble-wrap within a carefully prepared slide of what looked like blood labelled “Yersinia pestis” in miniscule handwriting. He nearly dropped it in surprise and, shoving the whole package deep into his coat pocket, he took an early lunch and hurried home to Baker Street to berate a nonplussed Sherlock for illegally sending biological material through the mail.

They had a case on Thursday that kept them both quite busy through Friday night. Lestrade called them in, claiming it was a double suicide, but Sherlock scoffed at that even before they reached the crime scene. The pair were a recently-engaged young man and woman, famous for some ridiculous reality show, and it had taken them ages to get through the press barricade. John had been sweaty and disgruntled by then, but Sherlock seemed positively gleeful; more so than usual, in fact. As John inspected the bodies, Sherlock kept leaning down to offer observations about the divorce rate in England, the average marrying age among twenty-somethings in Europe, and common venereal diseases among spouses. Even Lestrade was bemused, later wondering whether “Sherlock was quite well.” Upon realizing that the killer was the priest who was to have married them in a fortnight’s time, Sherlock actually squealed with glee.

When John came downstairs on Saturday, still sore from the foot chase of the previous evening, he found Sherlock lying sprawled on the floor of the sitting room next to a mess of papers and a broken tea mug. Heart pounding in his throat, John rushed to his side, calling out his name and grabbing for his wrist to check his pulse. As he leaned down to press his ear to the other man’s chest, he gasped in mingled surprise and relief to see Sherlock keen eyes considering him with decided mirth.

“What the hell, Sherlock?” John demanded. “Are you all right, did you -- did you fall?”

“It appears,” Sherlock replied slowly, all the time watching John’s reaction with the beginnings of a grin playing at his lips, “that I fainted.”

“You... excuse me?”

“Fainted, yes. Quite common this time of year, don’t you think?”

John blinked.

“In February?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and propped himself up on his elbows.


“I realize you aren’t a medical doctor, Sherlock, but that makes absolutely no sense. Does this... hang on,” John paused, crossing his arms about his chest and glaring down at the prostrate man below him. “Does this have something to do with how you’ve been acting all week? The honey jars and the plague slide and why you were so damned jolly at that double murder?”

Sherlock’s face fell.

“You really don’t know, do you?” he asked, his brow creased and his frown deepening.

Sighing, John settled back on his haunches and put on his most patient expression.

“Explain it to me.”

“The honey was to represent bee-keeping, John. Surely that was obvious. And the specimen -- well, really, John, the plague? You’re a doctor, surely you made the connection... no? And the murdered couple, they were engaged! Engaged, John!!”

John found himself oddly torn between dual desires to both laugh at and strangle Sherlock.

“And the fainting was, what, a good lark to give me a heart attack?”

“Of course not,” Sherlock huffed, leaping to his feet and pacing agitatedly into the kitchen.

John followed, his curiousity growing, and when Sherlock turned around, the pleading look on his face made John stop in his tracks.

“Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day, John,” Sherlock mumbled, a rush of color tinting into his usually-pale cheeks.

All of a sudden, John’s memory went into overdrive and snatches of sermons from Sunday mass when he was a boy flooded his mind. It all made sense: St. Valentine, aside from being the holiday’s namesake, was also the patron saint of bee-keepers, plague, engaged couples and, oddly enough, fainting.

“Oh, Sherlock,” John said, his voice coming out in a breathy mixture of laughter and words, “you shouldn’t have.”

Sherlock shoved his hands into the pockets of his dressing gown and stared determinedly at the floor.

“I realize it was unorthodox, but I thought -- given your upbringing and the fact that it is our first Valentine’s Day as a... as a couple... that you would appreciate the divergence from the traditional flowers and chocolates. I was, it would seem, mistaken.”

“No,” John cut in, crossing the space between them and sliding his own hands into the pockets of Sherlock’s dressing gown so that he could lace their fingers together. “It was perfect. All of it,” he added upon seeing the skeptical look that Sherlock shot him through his downturned eyelashes. “I should have realized.”

“Yes,” Sherlock muttered petulantly, “you should have.”

John laughed.

“So, let me make it up to you.”

Sherlock perked up at this. “Did you have anything specific in mind?”

“Well,” John pretended to consider, “there’s a patient at Bart’s with a peculiar form of sudden-onset epilepsy. We could, I don’t know, go by and poke him with a stick...”

The words were lost as Sherlock ducked down and pressed his lips to John’s. The kiss was long and deep, and when they parted, they were both quite out of breath.

“Dinner at Angelo’s?” Sherlock asked, his voice soft in John’s ear.

“I thought you’d never ask.”