“What, in God’s name, is that?” A long bony finger pointed unnecessarily at the cage sitting in the middle of the kitchen table.
John quirked a brow at his partner as he calmly sipped his tea. “Wrong question, Sherlock. You know exactly what that is.”
Sherlock huffed in annoyance. “Yes, yes, fine. What is it doing here, and how long before you get rid of it?”
“Good, Sherlock,” John smirked. “Molly’s niece has a pet that had a litter of five. She’s not allowed to keep any of them, so I offered to take one in until a proper home can be found for it.”
“Oh no,” Sherlock frowned, arms akimbo and a look of affronted indignation etched on his face. “That is not acceptable. It’ll take more than a few days to find any takers, and during that time you’ll have grown unacceptably attached to the thing, to the point where you won’t be able to bear parting with it. We are not a zoo, John; nor are we an animal rescue shelter. Get rid of it; I want it gone by tomorrow evening.”
John lifted his chin in Watsonian defiance. “We will find a home; until then, she stays.”
John nodded. Scowling, Sherlock stepped forward and leaned down to get a better look at the blue-eyed, baby bunny.
A trip to the vet confirmed John’s conclusion. Sherlock, of course, wanted nothing to do with the thing. He did his best to completely ignore the fact there was an animal in the house, leaving the feeding, watering and cleaning to John. John did it all cheerily and without complaint.
A couple of days after the fluffy white bundle arrived, John said, “I think it would be alright to let Doe explore the flat for a bit, don’t you? Under supervision?”
Sherlock lifted his head from his microscope, a puzzled frown on his face. “Doe?”
John grinned. “Yeah, I didn’t want to just keep calling her ‘Bunny’. Thought it was sorta clever, actually; ‘doe’ is the term for a female rabbit, plus she’s a Jane Doe of sorts, right? No name, no identity, no home…. “He blushed and cleared his throat. “Yeah, never mind. Just thought it suited.”
Sherlock stared at his flatmate. “You actually named her? Why on earth would you do such a thing, John? Remember when that stray cat showed up? He was only here a week before his owners collected him, and you were already reluctant to part with him. You’re only setting yourself up for heartbreak.”
John chuckled. “Right. If I recall correctly, you were the one who - “
John smiled fondly. “You berk.”
Sherlock was enjoying a dream where he and John were hot on the heels of a serial killer when...
Sherlock twitched. The scenario abruptly shifted, as dreams were wont to do. A fire crackled in the hearth of 221b, kindling snapping as the flames licked at them. A loud pop broke the silence as a log crumbled to its side.
Sherlock’s nose scrunched. A faint smile played around his lips as the scene unfurled in greater detail. John sitting cross-legged next to a Christmas tree, a gift-wrapped package in his lap. Sherlock on his stomach, regarding the pile of presents sitting within arm’s reach. They grinned at each other, eyes reflecting the firelight and sparkling with warmth and challenge.
“I can deduce mine without even touching it.”
John smirked. “Of course you can.” He was manhandling his gift, probing and fiddling until he got a sly look in his eye. “There is one way to find out that is even more accurate than your guess-work.”
“I never guess - “
With a flourish, John ripped the paper away. He gleefully crumpled the crimson wrapping, the harsh sound causing Sherlock to squeeze his eyes shut in annoyance….
….only to jerk awake to reality, confronted with the sight of Doe struggling to get free of a Tesco plastic bag.
John was in the middle of lathering his head with shampoo when he heard the bathroom door creak open. He let out an exasperated sigh.
“Sherlock, we talked about this. Boundaries, remember?”
The door closed, and heavy footsteps crossed over to the toilet. “I can’t think out there with that animal constantly staring at me.”
“Well, go in your bedroom, then. Or wait for me to finish my shower. Some privacy would be nice, now and again.”
A loud huff made John smile despite himself. “My bedroom is not conducive to brainwork; why do you think I’m never in there? And I couldn’t take another second of her beady little eyes boring into my skull.”
“This isn’t really proper, you know. You and I having a conversation in the bathroom while I’m taking a shower. People will talk.”
“People do little else. Besides, who’s going to know? Mrs Hudson? She’s been talking since you moved in. The rabbit? She can’t tell anybody. Our secret’s safe.”
“Secret? What secret?”
“That we fancy each other.”
John spluttered, soap slipping out of his hands to land at his feet.
“What are you talking about - “
The shower curtain jerked open, making John yelp. Sherlock raked an appreciative gaze over him, eyes twinkling flirtatiously.
The detective asked, “How do you feel about shared bubble baths?”
“No experimenting on Doe, Sherlock!”
John stood in the entrance to the sitting room, an alarmed and appalled look on his face. Sherlock looked up from the maze he had created with cardboard torn from the empty boxes currently stored in John’s old room. He sat cross-legged on the floor, pen poised over a moleskine in one hand, stopwatch in the other. Doe was merrily hopping along the path created by said cardboard, sniffing her way in and out of dead-ends.
“It’s only a behavioural experiment, John. I’m not introducing any dangerous drugs into her system, nor am I planning on dissecting her. She’s not being harmed in any way.”
“You didn’t give her anything to enhance her performance?”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Of course not. She’s not in training for a sporting event. I’m testing the time it takes for her to escape the maze, and how much it decreases over multiple trials. Preliminary cognitive testing to determine her innate potential.” He paused for a second, staring into space and tapping the pen against his lip. “Unless you consider the sugar water I gave her to be a performance enhancer. Which you could do, I suppose.”
John quirked a disbelieving brow. “That sounds… pretty involved. Why would you waste your time, since we’re not keeping her anyway?”
Sherlock shrugged. “Bored.”
To say Mycroft Holmes was surprised at the sight currently greeting his eyes would be to severely understate the situation. His mouth hung open for exactly three point eight seconds before he remembered himself and snapped it back shut.
His little brother was sprawled across the sofa, glassy eyes fixed on the ceiling. That in itself was not cause for alarm. However, the presence of a white furball on the chest of said brother certainly was. Mycroft would have thought he was looking at Sherlock’s corpse if it weren’t for the fact that his fingers were distractedly scratching the beast behind its ears. That and the steady movement signifying Sherlock’s breathing.
Feeling unaccountably like a voyeur, Mycroft discreetly cleared his throat. Sherlock shifted his head minutely in the direction of the sound. “Can I help you?” he asked in an uncharacteristically relaxed manner.
Mycroft shook himself. “Yes, I - I have a situation I’d like you to look into, if you would. You - Sherlock, why is a Lepus sitting on your chest?”
Sherlock sighed as if pained. “It’s not a Lepus, it’s an Oryctolagus. Honestly, Mycroft.”
Mycroft made a moue of distaste. “Yes, well, I think I’ll return at a time when you’re more - yourself, yes? Good day.”
Sherlock shouted at his brother’s retreating back, “Don’t forget your brolly!”
Come home immediately - SH
Why? - JW
Require your assistance - SH
With what? - JW
An emergency - SH
A medical emergency? - JW
No - SH
Then why do you need me? - JW
Doe is missing - SH
What do you mean, missing?? You didn’t let her out of the flat, did you? -JW
Come home, John. Please. -SH
John thundered up the steps two at a time. He swung open the door, to be confronted with one of the most disturbing sights in recent memory. Sherlock stood in the middle of the flat, barefoot and still clad in his pyjamas and dressing gown. He clutched his hair with both hands, making the unruly mess stand up like he had been electrocuted. His eyes were wild and darting all over the place.
“I can’t find her, John,” he pleaded. “I’ve been looking for over an hour, I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find her.” His voice cracked on the last word. He looked so lost and forlorn that John’s heart ached.
In the end, they found Doe curled up in the cupboard underneath the bathroom sink, hidden behind Sherlock’s hair care products. As John watched the relief and joy cross Sherlock’s face, he wondered if perhaps the search for a home no longer needed to be broadcast.
“Sherlock, did you hack into my blog and remove my post advertising for a home for Doe?”
“Of course I did.”
“Okay. And why would you do that?”
“Because your blog has a far wider readership than I’m comfortable with. Any Tom, Dick or Harry could respond, claiming to be an animal lover, when in fact they tortured animals as small children. We need a venue where the respondents can be properly vetted.”
“Properly vetted. Right. For suitability in providing a home for a rabbit.”
“What would we be vetting for, exactly?”
“Well, one would have to have suitable accommodations, of course. Preferably someone who works from home so that they’re available to tend to Doe’s needs adequately. A double-income household would be nice, to account for any unexpected vet bills. One of them should be a medical professional, in case an emergency situation arises. No small children, who would present a danger of accidentally smothering the poor thing. They should have an extensive support system, for when they need to go out of town - a close neighbor or sympathetic landlord would be ideal. Hmm… she clearly enjoys my playing, so some sort of musical ability would be a plus - “
John stopped Sherlock’s tirade with a resounding kiss. Exasperation and affection shone in his eyes. “You’re completely barmy.”
“Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to keep her?”
The three of them were currently occupying the sofa. John sat at one end while the lanky detective sprawled across its entire length, his head in the doctor’s lap. Doe sat on Sherlock’s chest, gently nestled within his arms. The theme from Doctor Who played on the telly.
Sherlock turned his head to bury his nose in John’s belly. “Didn’t know I wanted to until the day I thought we’d lost her.”
John nodded as he carded his fingers through Sherlock’s hair. “I probably would have kept her from the very beginning if I thought you’d be amenable to it. I’ve always been an animal lover. Thought we’d probably end up with a dog, though, if anything.”
Sherlock squinted up at his flatmate. “You imagined us having a pet together? So you assumed we would be living together - long term?”
John cleared his throat. “I guess so, yeah. Even when we weren’t - what we are now, I thought that we were pretty much stuck with each other, you know? I can’t imagine living anywhere else, with anyone else.”
Sherlock blinked. “Good. Yes, that’s - good.” Doe stirred restlessly under his hands. “Someone’s getting bored with all this domesticity. I’ll take her out to the garden for a bit.”
John stood at Doe’s hutch. He squinted into the homemade apparatus, one arm across his chest and the other hand stroking his chin. Well, this was a turn-up. Not the Moriarty kind, but close enough.
John marched back into the bedroom.
Sherlock looked up from the book he was reading. “Yes?”
“Do you keep your eye on Doe at all times when you let her roam in Mrs Hudson’s garden?”
Sherlock frowned. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I know how you can get lost in your mind palace sometimes…”
Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “I put her back in her pen over an hour ago. She is there, isn’t she?”
John stared at his feet. “Well, yes, she is. But… actually, why don’t you come out here and see for yourself?”
Sherlock grumbled as he set his book down and swung his lanky legs over the side of the bed. “This had better be worth the interruption. My time is precious, I can’t afford to waste any of it - “
John rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, the world will end if that mighty brain stops thinking.” He gestured impatiently. “Come on!”
Sherlock stared at the sight, his usual eloquence escaping him.
“How did this happen?”
“You tell me, genius.”
Snuggled up to Doe’s teats were six pink and hairless babies.
AND A HAPPY ENDING IS HAD BY ALL!! THANKS FOR READING.