"Your right iliotibial band is acting up again," Sherlock said. He hadn't looked away from his monitors, but Joan knew that the sound of her footsteps on the stairs had given her away. There was a slight hitch in her step that couldn't be accounted for even by the fact that she was wearing punishingly high stilettos. "An additional ninety minutes of icing and elevation would have made all the difference after last night's escapade."
"Time and a Watson Foundation holiday fundraiser wait for no billionaire heiress," Joan said, dangling her martini glass from between two fingers. It held only water, but none of the guests still partying upstairs would ever have guessed that.
"Yes, I am quite aware. I've been monitoring events on Instagram." Sherlock made a mocking singsong of the word: In-sta-gram. "You've been attracting an enviable number of hashtags this evening. If you'd like, I could run a statistical analysis on the relative frequency of #goals versus #squad." He tapped at his keyboard and one of the central monitors was suddenly filled with a picture of Joan clearly taken surreptitiously on someone's phone. She was half-turned away, laughing at something someone had said, hair tumbling down her back and the gold paillettes on her dress catching the light. Joan noted with approval that the heavy-duty concealer on her arms had blended well; no one would be able to tell that they were mottled with bruises.
"New eyeliner technique," Joan said absently, focusing on the people in the background of the shot. Two standing next to one of the Christmas trees caught her attention. "I'm aiming to start another trend. Who's that talking with Commissioner Gregson? He wasn't on the invite list."
"No," Sherlock agreed with a degree of amiability that made Joan instantly suspicious. "I believe that he's a mole sent by my father."
Joan shot him a look. "Arkham's isolation wing doesn't allow any outside communication for prisoners."
"Yes, well," Sherlock said, pushing his wheelchair back from the monitors. "The press dubbed Father a supervillain for a reason, and it wasn't because he's got a penchant for moustache twirling. He has his methods. Are you coming?"
"You're not exactly dressed for the festivities," Joan pointed out to him. Few people attended society events in ratty old t-shirts that displayed their full-sleeve tattoos, and Joan Watson had a very carefully cultivated public image to maintain. "And if you're aiming for any kind of subtlety—"
"I shall smile at them, if that makes you feel any better," Sherlock said. He bared his teeth in a rictus that brought a death's head to mind more easily than it did the phrase happy holidays.
Joan rolled her eyes. "Or alternatively, you see what you can dig up on this guy, I go back upstairs and make pearl-clutching small talk about how simply awful the Met Gala's continuing decline into banal tabloid fodder is, and then the Batman trails this guy home at the end of the night. Deal?"
"I'm afraid I don't see any upside in the matter," Sherlock sniffed.
"I'll send Ms Hudson down here with some canapés," Joan said as she headed for the stairs. "She made the ones you like, with the shrimp."
Sherlock vibrated with righteous indignation for a moment before he sighed. "My one weakness," he said in aggravated tones as pushed himself back over to his computers.
Joan decided to let him keep thinking that.