There's no particular routine to Holmes' life – Joan might return from her morning run to find him ruminating over a case in Salamba Sirsasana pose, or staring into space with a half-eaten bowl of cereal in his hand, or listening to Nirvana at an ear-splitting level while memorizing the properties of the genus Taraxacum. This, however, was new – for Joan to come home and find Holmes browsing Amazon.com at 7.57am, a smug look on his face.
"What are you doing?" she asked suspiciously.
"My dear father asked what I might like for Christmas," Holmes answered, scrolling as he spoke. "So I turned to a handy service supplied by a multi-billion dollar corporation to meet this very need. Kind, don't you think?"
Joan eyed him warily. "You're making a wish list. For your father."
"Indeed! Would you like to the see the contents? They're quite entertaining."
"A great deal."
"Amateur," Joan said, setting her iPod down on the kitchen table and unzipping her jacket.
Holmes looked up, frowning. "I'm sorry?"
"I'm pretty sure porn hasn't shocked your father since you were fourteen years old," she said.
"Ah, but – "
"If you're going to torment him, at least be creative," she said, moving to fill the kettle with water.
Holmes' fingers paused above the keyboard. "Do you have suggestions?"
"Baked beans," she offered. "With a note that you'll be eating them from the can."
Holmes' expression softened into something close to pride. "Devious."
The keys clattered again. "A particularly ugly sweater. Plaid."
"Plaid in the colors of the school that rivaled his."
Holmes looked at her as if she had suddenly become a thousand-fold more interesting. "Splendid."
"Cee Lo's Christmas album."
Holmes typed madly. "Modeling clay. I'll note that it would help me craft realistic replicas of severed fingers."
"Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on Wound Ballistics in Cadavers."
"I should follow that with . . . " He waggled his fingers. "A subscription to Hello! magazine."
Joan snorted. "A bowling ball. With flames painted on the side."
"Excellent, excellent – and perhaps a bag to put it in? There are several that are quite repugnant."
"Sure." Joan readied her teacup. "A hat with ear flaps."
"Lined with fake fur? Although – no, perhaps just the regular tweed."
"A full season pass to something . . . " Joan tapped her teaspoon against her bottom lip. "Storage Wars? No, no, Ice Road Truckers."
Sherlock quirked an eyebrow. "Four volumes of contemporary poetry."
"Something to do with knitting?"
"The bounds of credulity expand only so far, Watson."
The kettle boiled and Joan cheerfully poured water into her cup. "Enough?"
"Enough." Sherlock clicked on one last item, then closed his laptop with a flourish. "Your mind is really quite sharp when applied to certain conundrums. Is this a talent you developed as a child? Do I detect skills used to drive one's own parents round the bend?"
Watson smiled. "You'll have to apply greater effort to that particular mystery. Tea?"
"God, no, thank you. Would you mind if I – " He paused as his phone rang. "It's the Captain. Ready yourself, Watson. My skills are in demand and you'll, of course, need to – "
"Answer the phone," Watson chided.
"Right. Captain! How lovely to hear from you so early on a Monday morning, hmmm?"
(Late that night Joan went online and purchased the ugly plaid sweater.)