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John let Sherlock answer the door, which was a mistake. "I don't drink wine," John heard him say in his poshest and least welcoming voice.

John ran down the stairs. "--Sorry!" he heard. "Very sorry. Very, very sorry. For you are. My cousin. And family... family!"

Oh, it was that Bernard bloke, carrying a bottle of wine in a ribbon, flanked by Manny and by a very attractive woman indeed. "Hi, yes, come in," John said, reaching around Sherlock's waist and shaking hands with all three. "Don't mind him. Woke up on the wrong side of the casket."

"Mrph," Sherlock said, turning and climbing the stairs.

"We're so sorry!" Manny said, sounding panicked.

"Come up and have a cup of tea," John said. After all, it hadn't been him buried under the complete Oxford English Dictionary in an upturned cab. He was inclined to be magnanimous.

"I'm Fran. I was in Paris," the woman said. "They forgot to eat."

"No, I wasn't allowed to leave the shop! I made soup out of library paste and snails!" Manny cried.

John smiled. He gestured them upstairs and put the kettle on.

Sherlock was sulking with his violin. Fran started to approach him--"Hi, I'm Fran, I work in"--but Sherlock did something complicated with his bow that kept her beyond arm's length. "Sales," she said.

"Alas, poor Yorick," Manny said, looking at the skull on the shelf. "I knew him well."

"I knew him, Horatio," Sherlock corrected. He spat something intricate and elegant from the violin.

"I was just going to say that," Fran said. She tried approaching Sherlock again, but the action of his bow finally dissuaded her. She retreated across the flat to the kitchen.

Bernard stood in the middle of the living room, weaving slowly back and forth. "So. You're my cousin. Are you my sister's brother? I mean, my father's uncle's son." He counted on his fingers. "My mother's... sister's... brother."

Sherlock flourished his bow. "No," he said.

"My sister's uncle's cousin?"

Manny approached Bernard and led him to the chair. "Oh, hello. My name is Bernard. So nice to meet you." He shook hands with Manny.

Sherlock switched to something jagged and nerve-wracking. Stravinsky, John thought. "You're my mother's father's sister's grandson," Sherlock said. "We've met a dozen times. Do try to remember."

"Yes, dear," Bernard said, and passed out in the chair.

"I see the detox didn't take," Sherlock muttered.

John called over, "Oh, Manny, how are you feeling? How's the Dave's Syndrome?"

"I have my condition under control! I had my fudge this morning!" Manny said.

"Good, good."

John set out five mugs--had to wash two of them--and found the teabags, once he moved the rubbing alcohol. Did they have milk? They had milk. He got the milk out and found Fran leaning seductively against the wet sink. "So," Fran said. "You are?" Her hand slipped and she banged her elbow on the sink. "Ow. Ow! Ow! Fucking--ow!" She hopped up and down in front of the sink.

John took her elbow and rubbed it. "I'm a doctor, as it happens. Dr. John Watson."

"Really. Properly a doctor?"

"Army doctor. I have a pension and a bullet wound and everything." He rubbed her arm a little more slowly and tried the seductive smile, the one that said he was sensitive and caring and not at all mad, despite living with Sherlock.

"Would you care to shag?" Fran asked.

"Absolutely," John said. Sherlock stopped playing with an abrupt screech.

"Fran! No! Fran! Don't leave me here!" Manny said.

John ushered Fran through the kitchen door and up to his bedroom. The kettle boiled.


In the morning, John woke up first, Fran curled up beside him, snoring. He ventured downstairs to put on some tea and toast and see if there was anything in the way of proper food.

He found Sherlock and his cousin Bernard sitting in the living room, Bernard working a sort of questionnaire on paper. After Bernard filled in each answer, Sherlock would read it and either nod or shock him with a little electronic wand.

"Wrong." Zap. And then Bernard would give a little wail.

"What's the voltage?" John asked.

"Safe," Sherlock said. He leaned over and nodded at the paper.

They had eggs, bread, and severed fingers. "Oh, lovely, I can make an omelet," John muttered, shutting the fridge. "Where's Manny?" he asked Sherlock.

"My bed," Sherlock said savagely. "Wrong." Zap. Wail.

"That was nice of you."

Zap. Wail. Sherlock didn't answer.

John looked for the kettle, which was missing. The electric element was there, but the kettle itself was not. He boiled water in the saucepan instead. The five mugs were still sitting out, as was the milk. John sniffed it suspiciously. Well, it didn't smell.

"Did you have fun last night?" Sherlock asked.

"Well, you were listening, you tell me."

"Wrong." Zap. Wail.

"Don't try to tell me you weren't listening. I do know you," John said.

"I wasn't talking to you."

"I'm done!" Bernard cried. "Done, done, done!" He fell off the sofa.

"Yes, with this test," Sherlock said.

"Sherlock. Let him be. It's not his fault he's your cousin, it's your aunt and uncle's."

Upstairs, Fran stopped snoring and stirred. Then, unmistakeably, she began singing "Eye of the Tiger." Sherlock sniffed, jumped up, and walked swiftly into the kitchen to stare at the saucepan.

"Stop it," John told Sherlock.

"Stop what?"

"That thing you're doing."

"How helpful."

"Don't be jealous. She was flirting with you first."

"Arse," Sherlock said.

"I'm an arse? You're the one tasering your cousin for drunkenness."

Feet on the stairs. Fran bounced down in her shirt and knickers humming, "La la la la la thrill of the fight, la la LAAA... of the tiger." She disappeared into the toilet.

"I don't have a problem with your sexual antics," Sherlock said. "It's fine."

"Yes, I can tell," John said.

"I'm glad you're such a genital dynamo."

"Sure," John said. "Perpetual motion machine, me."

The sink ran and Fran emerged. "Hello! What a lovely morning." She kissed John. Sherlock glowered and leaned on John's back, one hand perched possessively on his shoulder.

"Hi," John said. "Don't mind Sherlock."

"No," Fran said, looking past John at Sherlock. "Right. Good morning. Hi. You're not a couple, are you?"

Sherlock embraced John with his other arm as well. "Sherlock," John warned.

"I'm just waiting for my tea."

"Eep," Fran said.

"Off, now." John tried to look at him, but all he could see was Sherlock's unshaven chin.

Sherlock made a small growling noise, but got off him. He flung himself into a chair in the living room. "Tea!"

"He is a lot like Bernard," Fran said, watching Sherlock warily. "Where is Bernard?"

"On the floor over there. Actually, is he okay, Sherlock?"

"Don't care."

"Your mum will care," John said, but he was already coming around the check. He found Bernard lying under the coffee table, asleep. Pulse seemed okay.

"What happened to your kettle?" Fran asked.

"I don't know, Sherlock, what happened to our kettle?"

Sherlock flailed his hand and curled up in the chair, efficiently conveying that the only thing he cared less about in the world than cousins was kettles.

"If Bernard's still breathing, he's fine. He's come through much worse than that," Fran said. "Is there a funnel for the water?"

John heard rattling and leaped up. "Don't touch anything on the table!"

Sherlock stood up as well and marched on the kitchen like the Terminator. He took the funnel from Fran, dropped it in the sink, took the milk, stuck his finger in the liquid, and flicked one drop on the funnel.

The funnel exploded. Sherlock returned to the living room and threw himself in the chair, staring at Fran.

"Oh," Fran said.

"I've got it," John said. He carefully poured the tea.

"I'm sorry, I have to break up with you," Fran said.

John looked at Sherlock. Sherlock looked at Fran.

"Your flatmate has a human skull and a very worrying stare and a lot of things in here explode, so I'm breaking up with you before he kills me. Sorry. You're a lovely shag." She pecked him on the lips. "But I have to run away now. I'll just get my shoes."

Fran ran upstairs and returned with the rest of her clothes and her handbag. "Just pop the boys in a taxi when they come around," she said, and escaped downstairs.

John looked at Sherlock. Sherlock smirked. "If you keep this up, you're going to have to learn to get me off yourself," John said.

"Tea!" Sherlock commanded. On the floor, Bernard groaned.

the end.