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The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, For Which The World Is Not Yet Prepared

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“I don’t think you should write about this one in your blog,” Sherlock said to John, or rather to the ceiling. He was picking absently at the bandaging that ran all up his arms; John leant over, batting Sherlock’s hands away (again); the bandages had already come undone once that morning.

“Why not,” John said, feeling he ought to question this, but only for the sake of argument; he’d typed exactly seventeen words in the past hour and a half and was not entirely surprised at it. He was headachey from catching Sherlock’s cold two days before, and tired from running around the Docklands for almost thirty-six hours, and it was already dark outside - and it was the thought of getting up to close the curtains that filled him with the most despair.

“Think, really think this time,” Sherlock said, twisting round a bit, pensively. “You should ask yourself whenever you do this - is the world prepared for this story?”

Sherlock was sprawled on the floor with a glazed look in his eyes and his feet buried up on the sofa somewhere past John’s right ear; John had slid down to floor level twenty minutes before because Sherlock’s feet apparently needed more than three-quarters of the sofa to fully express themselves. The seat of the sofa against his back was squishy and not quite in the right place for comfortable typing, but Sherlock was nice and warm and half-pressed up against his side, and that more than made up for it.

John said, “I don’t see what’s so particular about this one, except for you getting bitten by the bloody thing -”

“- multiple times -”

“- yes, fine, more than once - I’ve written up worse things, haven’t I?”

Sherlock said, “The drains, John, the drains; I’m contemplating deleting that part of the escapade entirely,” - at which John shuddered, yes, that was not something he cared to remember - “and the events when we were on the Matilda Briggs, if you attempt to describe how that occurred, John, your readership might have a few words to say.”

“Sherlock, I don’t have a readership, except for you, my therapist and sometimes Lestrade.”

Sherlock sat up, said, “Exactly!” and fell back again. “I don’t want to read about it - again! - other people shouldn’t want to either.”

“Just because you got scratched a bit! People like this sort of thing,” John said, studiously tapping out three more words. “Slight urban legend element, bit of disgustingness, happy ending - a man facing down a coypu -”

“They’re also known as nutria,” Sherlock said.

“Armed with nothing but a vastly superior intellect, man versus beast,” John continued.

“You’re starting to convince me, John,” said Sherlock, thoughtfully, “It seems much more dramatic now.”

“Sherlock, it was a giant rat! Of course I can’t write about it, my therapist will think I’m mad. Madder than I am already. Madder than she thinks I am already. I’m not writing about the rabid coypu! - or it being trained to kill all the way from Chile to Panang to the Docklands, or how it got loose in Greenwich Park - I’m writing to Harry about visiting for Christmas. Which is much more difficult.”

Sherlock hmmed, and said, “That makes sense, you didn’t sound like you were typing the word rat at all, it sounded more like ‘Dear Harry’ and then some nonsense about how keen you are to see her.”

“Exactly. Fine. Good,” said John, not listening.

Five minutes later, Sherlock said, “I do think you’d be much better off having some sex now - much better use of your time. I bet you don’t write a single word in the next five minutes.”

Five minutes after that, John looked over at Sherlock, and said, “Not a word.”

Sherlock said from his upside-down position, smugly setting one hand on John’s thigh, “I win.”

John was reluctant, still - sex meant moving; he was too tired to move - but he lifted the laptop up to set it aside, since Sherlock was now attempting to maneuver himself into John’s lap.

There was a ping.

“Wait, what,” said John. He stared at his phone. “What’s this all about.”

“Sex! Obviously my hands aren’t totally in commission, I’m sure you can work around that -”

“No, really, what,” said John. “This email. Metropolitan Police something something - Lestrade wants us there. I know I say yes to a lot of things, did I say yes to their office party?”

Sherlock said, “At the docks yesterday morning Lestrade asked if you knew about their party, and you said, ‘Yes, of course, Sherlock’s fine as long as his tetanus is up to date’, and he said ‘See you later then, my kids’ll love this.’ And you said, ‘Great,’ and fell asleep as soon as the door of the taxi closed.”

John closed his eyes. “We have to go, don’t we.”

Sherlock, trying to undo John’s zip, said, “Obviously we don’t, we’re in the middle of something, surely the fact that you and he were engaging in different conversations invalidates the agreement.”

John said, “Sherlock, I know this stuff better than you, and once you’ve accepted an invitation you can’t back out of it, that’s not what people do. Get your coat.”

Sherlock sighed and said, dully, “I bet it’s raining, too.”

It was.

“People like this sort of thing, though, don’t they?” John ventured as they entered the office, eyeing up the vaguely familiar people at the other end of the room. He was resisting the urge to cling to something. “People like it, I might like it, you might like it.”

“People are-”

“Don’t say it, Sherlock.”

“I was about to say, people are the same the world over.”

“You weren’t.”

“Alright, I wasn’t. John, there are children, are you sure we’re supposed to be here, because we could still leave.”

John said, “That’s not right- ”

He looked towards the group of adults on the other side of the room and saw a cluster of children behind the first row desks, Donovan talking to a woman a little older than her, who looked so similar John thought they must be related - oh. Of course they were. And there was Anderson, and that must be his wife, poor thing. John made a mental note to prevent Sherlock from talking to her.

“It’s not a party - it’s family day, it’s take your children to work day,” said John, awash with relief. “And it’s probably nearly over. Oh, thank god, I need a drink.”

Lestrade was crouched in the middle of the cluster of children, mostly quite small, all enraptured. John could see resemblances in their faces - the two small boys and older girl were obviously Lestrade’s; another girl of about seven or eight had a strong look of Sally Donovan about her - a niece, John thought, and that had been her sister.

“Nearer and near crept the ghastly thing! And then,” Lestrade was saying, ‘“- the filthy, ravenous, giant rat launched itself at the man with a mighty roar!”

The children gasped; one small boy shut his eyes and shook his head furiously as if to rid himself of the image.

Oh no you don’t! shouted the man’s friend - yes! It was the doctor,” Lestrade continued, clasping his hands in semblance of someone with a gun - “And - bang! With one mighty shot they were free.”

The little girl sitting closest to Lestrade clapped her hands, and said, very seriously, “The doctor shouldn’t be friends with him! He’s silly and he does silly things.”

Sherlock nudged John, and muttered, “That’s not fair.”

John said, “They’re children, Sherlock,” and stepped gently but very deliberately on Sherlock’s foot.

“Well, I think the doctor likes it when his friend does silly things,” said Lestrade drolly, catching John’s eye. “I think that’s why he likes him.”

John said to Sherlock, affectionate, “Well, that’s true, isn’t it.”

Sherlock tilted his head to one side and clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, pensive, said, “Hmm.”

John stared at him. “You can’t be serious.”

Sherlock said, mournfully, “We’re here, aren’t we?”

John took him by the arm, said to Lestrade (slightly too loudly), “Just going to get a drink, be with you in a minute,” and ducked them out of sight through the nearest corridor and into an empty meeting room, and said, “If I give you a blowjob now, will you stop trying to emotionally blackmail me into letting you leave?”

Sherlock said consideringly, “You know, when Lestrade was a sergeant he used to keep condoms in the top left drawer of his desk to hand out to young offenders, very conscientious.”

John said, “And you know this how? Some kind of teenage delinquency of your own, I suppose.”

“Close,” said Sherlock, and kissed him, bandagey hands rough on his face. “No charges were pressed, though, I don’t have a criminal record.”

“Still time for that,” said John, “with the way you’re going through life,” and broke from Sherlock’s wonkily-held arms to skate his hands down, open Sherlock’s trousers.

Sherlock, despite himself, wasn’t hard yet, so John pressed his hand against Sherlock’s hip, keeping him against the back of the door, and began slowly, letting Sherlock’s cock fill up his mouth, letting it pop out, lewd and red, whenever Sherlock’s breathing got too fast.

He made sure there was an occasional scrape of teeth; John didn’t want him to get too self-satisfied, wanted to retain some kind of control, he supposed - and he liked it when Sherlock gasped and shook under his mouth and hands, as if shocked - as if surprised, still, that John did this, that John could shoot to kill and kiss him in the evenings and still be ready to be amazed the next day.

Even so, it wouldn’t do to take too long; he quickened the pace, sliding down and back, over and over, enjoying the weight of Sherlock’s cock in his mouth, the smoothness and heat and salt of him on John’s tongue, even the rasping of Sherlock’s bandaged hands over his face, distracted.

Afterwards Sherlock didn’t immediately tuck himself back in. John stayed on his knees, watching him, until Sherlock hauled him up, said, “That bit of silliness was mostly your idea, I hope you’re satisfied,” and kissed him, hands on his shoulders.

John sighed into Sherlock’s neck and muttered, “So fine, I was the one who needed that,” and closed his eyes as Sherlock stroked the back of his head.

“Not complaining,” said Sherlock, “Really, not. Except for being here at all obviously, that’s still problematic, you should have noticed that I never actually agreed to your bargain in the strictest sense.”

John groaned and said, “We’d better get back.”

Sherlock kissed his cheek, said, “After you?” and even held the door open, just to be extra-annoying.

“Good to see you,” said Lestrade, when they emerged. “What was it you were doing again, oh, getting drinks. You don’t seem to have succeeded at that, to be honest.”

“(CH3)C6H4(OH),” said Sherlock happily. “Beloved of female mosquitoes!”

“I’m sorry, what,” said Lestrade, glancing at John, who shrugged.

“4-methylphenol, a component of human sweat,” said Sherlock. “I’d like to wink, because then you’d get it, but that wouldn’t be subtle.”

“Subtle - Sherlock, that’s not the word I think of when you show up. Anyway, Lucy, my oldest, wants to hear about what happened with the giant rat, not about - chemical formulas or whatever that was.”

Sherlock winced. “So this is why you brought me here,” he said, mournfully glaring at the children. “Boring, boring, oh, did I say boring? I meant dull and pointless and boring.”

“The invitation wasn’t meant for you. The kids wanted the nice, brave doctorto tell them about his adventures,” said Lestrade, grinning. “I thought this last one’d do well - I told my kids about it, they told their friends, my youngest, he was looking up about Sumatra and rat smuggling last night. Wanted me to bring one back from the ship, asked if being a doctor was always so exciting, and did Dr Watson this, and could Dr. Watson that. Sweet, isn’t it.”

“Oh,” said Sherlock.

Oh,” said John. “Well, first I think you should tell the kids it’s all definitely true, especially the part about how being a doctor’s all about adventures and shooting things.”

“Tell them yourself,” said Lestrade. “Tell them all, they’re excited, Alicia - that’s Donovan’s niece - has got serious questions about how the coypu got to Sumatra in the first place.”

“She’s right, they’re native to South America - ”

So John sat down in the middle of a group of wary - but very interested - children and said, “I suppose you all know about the Giant Rat of Sumatra?”

Nods all round, wide eyes, thumbs in mouths.

“I’ll tell you now, whatever you’ve been told isn’t even close to the astounding truth. As I remember it, the first time the coypu struck in London was the night that Katie Waissel was eliminated from the X-Factor -”

Lestrade said to Sherlock, as they watched, “It’s just that they wanted to hear the story from him - don’t get me wrong, always a charm, a delight, a rapturous occasion when you drop in.”

“I don’t think you’d have said that five years ago - no, not even if you were joking. Probably not even six months ago. I can only suppose you approve of John, or that you’re drunk.”

There were gasps coming from the children - John had said something about teeth. Sherlock shuddered and tried not to think about his bandages itching.

“People get changed by things,” said Lestrade.

“People don’t change,” said Sherlock, “I haven’t changed, except for having more useless facts in my head that I can’t get rid of, because John would be offended if I didn’t know when his birthday was or what his mother’s called. It may be nice of me, but it’s useless.”

“How weary, flat, stale and unprofitable is life,” said Lestrade.

“No it’s not,” said Sherlock, frowning.

“Ah,” said Lestrade, and he grinned. “Now, you wouldn’t have said that five years ago.”