“It’s the Missus,” Sherlock says, digging his chopsticks into the greasy takeaway carton, “It’s astonishing, Watson, just how far money can drive one.”
“Sure,” Joan says, dropping a noodle into her mouth from above, “She kills him, makes it look like an accident, collects his benefits. Too easy.”
“Precisely,” Sherlock says, jabbing more jaggedly at his rice and chewing as if the act itself offends him, “Drivel. Insipient. Inane. You asked me once how I chose my cases.”
Joan lets out a little huff, “What, two years ago?”
Sherlock raises his eyebrows and nods, “Now you understand.”
Joan gives him a long-suffering sigh and turns back to the show, and her noodles refracting blue in the light of the television, the only on light in the room, “I don’t think crime shows count as cases.”
“Nonsense, Watson,” Sherlock says, “It is a window into the general public’s mind. What fascinates them, what arouses,” he pauses a moment, not without drama, “What murders they are most eager to replicate.”
“What? No,” Joan says, leaning forward in her seat, “No! People don’t commit crimes because they see it on CSI.”
“On the contrary! Most people, as you and I are well-aware, are dull beyond all scientific reason! They don’t have the mind for crime,” Sherlock explains, gesturing with a wiggly piece of egg between his chopsticks. Joan rolls her eyes. She’s long since acclimated to Sherlock’s occasional bouts of misanthropy, but that doesn’t stop her from finding it performative from time to time, “But when you give say, a stupid man not only the tools to build a house, but the instructions on how to do it, given the right motivation, wouldn’t he?”
Joan chews on it for a minute, “I guess. But there’s no way to test it! Crime rates are hard to track on a good day. You can’t seriously tell me the rate of icepick homicides goes up after a new Rizzoli and Isles comes out.”
Sherlock’s silence speaks for itself.
“No! No way!” Joan says, “No.”
Sherlock goes back to his fried rice, leaving the answer self-evident and thus not worthy of verbal confirmation.
On screen, the detectives find a boot print that doesn’t match any the late husband or the wife owned.
“Brother-in-law!” Joan shouts a moment before Sherlock does. Sherlock swears, “They’re having an affair, in light of her husband’s diagnosis. But—“
“He has no idea about the murder,” Sherlock finishes for her, “She’s framing him.”
“Hey!” Joan says, throwing a soggy water chestnut at him, “It’s still my point.”
“For now, Watson,” Sherlock says, picking the water chestnut off his front of his shirt and eating it, “For now.”
Joan leans forward and makes a mark on the score sheet. It’s a formality more than a need; they both hold the tally in their heads, meticulously aware of its constant shifts and balances. Last week, Sherlock was winning by five points. Tonight, Joan is ahead by three.
The show goes through the motions of investigation. A detective’s subplot is introduced, her strained relationship with her mother expanded on. Joan digs her fork into the skin of a snow pea with a satisfying crunch.
“Have you called Mrs. Hudson back?” She asks, digging around for the last strip of carrot to balance between her fork tongs.
“Not yet,” Sherlock muses, “Although she’s on cruise with newest paramour, I can’t imagine she’d be too eager to answer a call from either of us stateside.”
Joan hums in acknowledgement. She picks at her remaining noodles. Their heater hums from somewhere in the basement. Under the blanket, Joan’s sockfoot rests against the dip where Sherlock’s hip meets his leg; not insistent, but enough pressure to remind them that the other one is there. The show goes on, the soundtrack swells and bleeds; all while Sherlock is there beside Joan, scratchy but comfortable somehow, like an old wool blanket, tucked away in the closet until being pulled out one long, cold winter night. He smells, as always, of pine and mint soap, along with the lingering afterscent of formaldehyde.
She tucks her head into his shoulder, feels him breathe.