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You See But You Do Not Observe

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1.

Lestrade can admit he is concerned when he hears yelling when Mrs Hudson lets him in the door. Not that yelling is necessarily uncommon in the flat, but it does sound rather... passionate.

“Oh never you mind what those boys are up to,” Mrs Hudson assures him, “They're just having a bit of fun. Although I will say I'm glad you're here. It'll save me some repair, you mind me. Why that game was ever let back in this flat after the last time,” she sighs.

There is a particularly loud shout and Lestrade can just make out a faint, “It can't be Professor Plum, I already told you I have the bloody card!” What in the world?

Mrs Hudson sighs, “Go on Inspector. And do mind your step, I am serious about the property damage.” She goes back into her own flat. Probably for safety reasons.

Lestrade takes the stairs with care.

“Well it sure isn't Miss Scarlet like you insist!”

“At least I don't think it was the wrench that did it.”

He opens the door cautiously, but sees everything is still undamaged. For now. There is a board sitting on the table, cards scattered about. He can see two men, one obviously Sherlock, sitting in the chairs. The other bloke has his back to him so he can't see him. It certainly isn't John though, that's for sure.

“That's because I know exactly how deadly a wrench can be. I don't carry one in my pocket for looks. Thor still has the bruise on the side of his head,” the stranger says, waving a hand.

Oh dear. That doesn't sound good.

“That's because you're a savage with no culture,” Sherlock tells him.

“He keeps frying my tech. I told him he is banned from the shop until he stops frying my tech. What does he do? Comes in again and does the exact same thing. I tell you Lock, that wrench to the head is the only way he'll learn. Besides, how was I to know he wouldn't duck in time? What kind of an idiot can't duck?”

“Yes, tell us Lestrade, what kind of an idiot can't duck?” he raises an eyebrow.

“Oi! That was one time under special circumstances and you know it.”

The stranger turns to look at him and it only takes Lestrade a split second to recognize him. Tony Stark. Why in the hell is Tony Stark doing in Sherlock's flat? Playing Cluedo of all things? Speaking of which, “I thought John banned that game from the flat?” he asks pointedly.

Sherlock waves him off. “What he doesn't know won't hurt him. He has an extra shift today and won't be back for hours. And he has greatly exaggerated the story. You know how he gets with those stories of his,” he rolls his eyes.

“Still jealous that his blog is more popular?” he teases, “And is that why Mrs Hudson warned me about property damage?”

“The blog is a disgrace. He leaves out all the important details and romanticizes the case every time. It's disgusting.”

“Alright Your Highness, do you want the case or not?” he asks, not bothering to give the details. He can figure them out for himself. It's not as if he's not done it before.

“I suppose,” he sighs dramatically.

“Wait!” Stark says, reaching down and waving the envelope in the air. “We must know!” He pulls the cards out with a flourish. “It was...” he pauses dramatically, “Mrs Peacock, in the Library, with the Rope.”

“Preposterous,” Sherlock protests at once, “Do you see that woman? There is no way she would have the strength to strangle someone to death.”

“Right,” Lestrade interrupts before he can really get going, “Let's move now. You have a real crime to solve.”

“You're right Graham, your double murder is much more interesting. Text me the address, we'll be right behind you.”

We? Oh good Lord. Lestrade has a feeling he is going to regret this.


2.

“Oi Freak, no John today? Did he finally get tired of you or did you murder him in a fit of boredom?” Donovan asks as Sherlock crosses the police tape. He ignores her, not wanting to get into this today. Not to say he isn't bothered by the accusation. Usually he can ignore everything she says, even if he doesn't always. But he always hates it when she brings up John.

He is intimately aware that, besides his brother, John is the best thing that has ever happen to him. He's certainly the only person, outside of family, that has ever been able to tolerate him for this long. Certainly the only person who has loved him. There's the fear, constantly lurking in the back of his mind, that one day John will leave him. He will finally cross the line and that will be it. John will be gone.

It's ironic, that John has much the same fear. He fears that one day Sherlock will suddenly find him boring and uninteresting and abandon him. Impossible. How could he ever think John is dull? He's one of the most interesting people Sherlock has ever met. He only looks dull, on the outside. Inside, he is an endless puzzle.

He truly despises emotions the majority of the time. If he could turn them off and on at will, instead of only pretending to, he would. Unfortunately he only has his mask, not the true skill. Although a lifetime of dull and hateful bullies has helped the process quite a bit. Emotionless he is not. Uncaring, unless one of his triggers is hit, that is another thing entirely.

Still, sentiment. How horrid.

“Replaced him already, did you?” she continues as Tony joins them. It is clear she doesn't immediately recognize him as she keeps talking, “Where'd you dig this one up at? He know his chances of getting murdered eventually?”

Tony ignores her for now, typing on his phone. It takes less than an instant to realize what he is doing. Looks as if Sergeant Donovan is going to be having some technical problems very soon. His brother is the best.

“Do you know the chances of me taking you to court and winning?” Tony asks, head still down.

“Excuse me?” she asks incredulously.

Tony looks up and that's when she realizes just who she is speaking to. She gasps slightly, eyes widening in surprise. “What are you doing with the Freak?” she asks in shock.

Tony levels a flat stare at her. “I take workplace harassment very seriously. There is a reason Stark Industries has a no tolerance policy. Now if you excuse us, I believe you should let us through before I do file a formal complaint about you antagonizing my very good friend here.”

She stands aside silently.

“Now wasn't that easy? Have a good day now,” he smiles charmingly at her. Like the shark that let the fish swim by. For now.

Sherlock offers her the same smile as he walks past. Brothers are good.


3.

All John is focused on when he comes home is getting a large cuppa and sitting down. Flu season is the worst. He loves his job, he really does, but if one more person gets sick on him, he thinks he'll scream. Now all he has to do is hope that the flat is in a good enough condition for him to do so. Or that Sherlock doesn't drag him out again as soon as he walks in the door. No texts though, so that could be a good sign.

Or a bad one. It can go either way, depending on how the day is going. And how bored Sherlock is. One think about living with him, life is never boring.

The thought is reinforced when he enters and sees the room is covered with mechanical parts and pieces. And among that scattered mess is Tony Stark. He grins when he sees John and says, “Don't worry, everything is under control.”

That's not reassuring in the least. A quick look at the kitchen tells him it is equally a mess, one of Sherlock's experiments spread out all over the place. He feels a headache coming on and resists the urge to groan. So much for that cuppa.

“Thermos of tea by your chair,” Stark tells him without looking up from... whatever he's trying to build. “Made it before Lock contaminated everything. He said you'd likely need it after your shift.”

Well... alright then. Tea he has, along with several questions. The first being, of course, why is Tony Stark in their flat? And Lock? Better than Sherly, John supposes. Then he takes a look around and reconsiders the thought. “Do I really want to know?” he asks.

“Probably not,” Stark says cheerfully.

“Just some small experiments,” Sherlock tells him, finally speaking up. Not that he looks up from his microscope. “Chinese is on its way,” he adds.

John has a deep suspicion he is being bribed into compliance. Or at least into a semi relaxed mood so that he doesn't actually scream right now. It would be just like the git too. His boyfriend is a bloody menace sometimes and sweet in the oddest ways. And judging from the smirk on Stark's face, he feels confident in his conclusion. Still, no need to make a fuss. “Ta,” is all he says.

Closing his eyes, he pours his tea and takes a sip. Ah, that's more like it. What he really wants is a shower right now, but he also doesn't want to move. Opening his eyes, he watches Stark work. If John had to guess, he would say it's some kind of robot. What kind is beyond him, but it's still interesting to watch.

Then Stark looks up, sees him watching and begins to babble on about what he is doing. John listens with interest. He doesn't always understand, but it's nice to listen to. Like when Sherlock explains his deductions. Fascinating.


4.

“Oh hello,” Molly startles when she walks in the lab and sees someone else with Sherlock. A very handsome someone else too, she sees as he turns and looks at her.

“Hello,” he says, smiling.

Molly feels her insides flutter. Oh not again. She is just getting over her crush on Sherlock, she does not need another one. Not yet. “No John today?” she asks, looking at where Sherlock is bent over a series of petri dishes.

“Not today, he's at the clinic.” He looks over at Sherlock and makes a disagreeing noise. Sherlock waves him off, but pushes one of them out of the way. The man nods and turns back to Molly, “So I thought I'd come instead. And who might you be?” he asks and there is that smile again.

Drat. Definitely not the time. And he's not from around here either, judging by the accent. American probably. “Oh, I'm Molly Hooper, the pathologist down at the morgue. Nothing special,” she says as she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee? I know it can be boring here sometimes.”

“Boring, with you around? Never,” he denies and then seemingly gets side tracked by, “Coffee? Real coffee? You are a goddess. Everyone in this country is obsessed with tea,” he complains.

“And you have a coffee addiction worse than Mycroft's sweet tooth.”

“Coffee is life,” he defends, “and shall we talk about your addiction?”

“Oh I'm not sure about real coffee, it's not the best. But it wakes you up,” she says brightly. Oh dear, she really hopes he's not bringing up what she thinks he's bringing up.

Sherlock makes an irritated sound. “That's not the same thing and you know it.”

“Not at all,” he teases, “It's a good thing you do as much running as you do. Work off all those fatty calories.”

“There is nothing wrong with liking fish and chips occasionally.”

“Occasionally?” he asks disbelievingly, “Come now Lock, you know better than that.”

Molly hides a smile as she turns her head. That's... kind of adorable actually. The man, whoever he is, is obviously a close friend. Good. Sherlock needs more of those. “I'll get that coffee now,” she says as she walks out of the room.

“It's Tony,” the man yells behind her.

And apparently shares some of the same skills too. Huh. She wonders how long he is going to be around.


5.

Anderson sulks as he follows Lestrade up the stairs. He doesn't know why he has to come along. He doesn't like dealing with the Freak at his crime scenes, let alone outside of one. Bad enough he is always barging in when he isn't wanted. Does he really have to see him more than necessary? According to Lestrade, yes he did. He doesn't care how dignified it is to visibly sulk. He is going to if he has to endure this.

He has to do this. There is nothing saying he has to do it gracefully.

They walk in and Anderson sees that the three of them are sitting around their table, board game laid out on top of it. When he gets closer he sees it is Snakes and Ladders of all things. He snorts. How childish. Then he looks closer at the third man and about chokes.

Of course Sally had told him about her encounter with Tony Stark. She did, with great detail, but somehow he thought she was exaggerating or mistaken. There is no way that the Freak is friends with someone like Stark.

Obviously he should have believed her, because the proof is now right in front of him.

“Having fun you three?” Lestrade asks, amused.

The Freak snorts.

“John is a party pooper,” Stark declares.

All Watson does is roll his eyes at him. “Yes, I am such a terrible person for not wanting you two to start a war over a children's board game.”

Lestrade laughs. “That bad mate?”

“We can't play Cluedo because of that one,” he points to the Freak, “we can't play Monopoly because of that one,” he points to Stark, “and I refuse to come anywhere near Scrabble when the two of them are playing. They make up words.”

“I do not!” Stark protests.

“Really John, just because you have never heard of-”

Watson cuts him off, continuing as if neither of them said a word. “Any card games are out because he,” pointing to Stark again, “counts them and strategy games are a lost cause. That leaves chance. Hence Snakes and Ladders.”

Both the Freak and Stark are glaring at Watson.

“Never play against two geniuses in anything but chance,” he advises, “If you're watching however, then definitely give them either Scrabble or Monopoly.”

As if. Anderson snorts to himself.

“My warning on filing an official complaint also applies to you,” Stark says as he rolls the dice.

“What? I didn't even say anything.”

“But you were thinking it.”

“And that's now a crime?”

“It is when you were going to say it. Stop being so petty and find a new hobby. Maybe brush up on your job. You might even learn something this time around. Yes!” he cheers as he lands on a ladder and moves his piece up it. “Beat that Lock.”

The Freak snatches the dice from Stark.

Lestrade sighs. “Look, do you want the case or are we going to have to wait for you to finish? Again?”

“We're going,” Watson says, standing up. He gives the other two a look and they stand, groaning.

“The game will still be here when we get back.”

“You're just upset you're still losing,” Stark teases.

“Devastated,” Watson says dryly.

“This better not be like the last time boys,” Lestrade warns.

“Don't worry Lestrade, John is here this time,” the Freak says.

“He'll protect you,” Stark adds.

Oh goody, all three of them. Wonderful.


+1.

“Yoo hoo, boys, I've brought some biscuits for you,” Mrs Hudson calls as she opens their door. Inside she sees they are getting ready for their movie night. “Fresh from the oven.”

Tony walks over to her and takes the plate. “You are a gem Mrs Hudson,” he tells her with a bright smile. “None may compare to your baking. I have to visit just to get some decent sweets.”

“Oh you,” she waves her hand, “I'm onto you Tony Stark. Flattering an old woman like this.”

“Old? You? Never,” he assures her.

“You're timeless,” Sherlock says as he comes over and takes a biscuit from the plate.

She smiles as he eats it. She made all of their favorites. It's always a time to indulge when Tony finds time to visit. The other two, Sherlock especially, are so much happier when he is around. There is a special kind of brightness to him that is reserved for Tony. Just like there is a certain kind of brightness that is reserved for John. Oh her boy may play at being emotionless, but she knows better.

“Ta Mrs Hudson,” John says, “would you like to stay?”

“Oh no, I wouldn't want to intrude on your boys Bond Night.”

Sherlock grumbles something under his breath, but she knows it's all for show. He adores nights like this almost as much as he adores a triple murder locked room mystery. He may not necessarily enjoy the films themselves, but he loves picking them apart. And having his two favorite people sitting on either side of him.

They'll end up falling asleep together, just like they always do. All three of them tangled up on that couch of theirs, covered up by a blanket John manages to tug over them before he falls asleep. She has pictures of it, although she'll never let them know. They might suspect, but they don't have any proof.

“Have fun boys,” she says as she leaves them to their night.

“Ta ta,” Tony calls.

She can't help but smile. Oh those boys. Honestly, how no one else has figured out that they are related is simply beyond her. As Sherlock likes to say, they see, but they do not observe. Shameful.