“Mrs. Hudson! ’Men in Kilts’?” Sherlock crossed the threshold and waved in the direction of the white van parked outside.
Sherlock’s eyes widened in horror. The sound was coming from upstairs!
“No, no, no, no,” he chanted as he raced up the steps. “No housekeeping service—kilted, saronged, or doused nothing but all the perfumes of Arabia—in my rooms!”
“Now, Sherlock, please,” said Mrs. Hudson in a soothing tone. “John was so efficient that he had a few minutes to spare, and he agreed to do a bit up here.”
“NO!” cried Sherlock. “Not my dust! Dust is eloquent!”
The man in the kilt on the ladder turned. “Sorry, your eloquence is here.” He held up a filthy rag. “Cobwebs, too!”
“ARRGH!” Sherlock gripped his hair with two hands. “Mrs. Hudson, you—”
“Hey!” barked John. He descended the ladder, then stood before Sherlock with his arms crossed over his chest and added in a warning tone, “I’ll ask you to rethink how you address this nice lady who does you the courtesy of allowing you live under her roof.”
Sherlock studied the man and felt his annoyance turned to something else, equally warm and, yes, a bit annoying. Oh, treacherous transport!
“I don’t like other people messing with my things,” Sherlock sounded like a sulky child and for once felt a bit bad about it.
The man in the kilt threw a glance about the cluttered sitting room and kitchen. “Yeah, I can see that. I’m John, by the way.”
They shook hands, and Sherlock dwelled a moment too long on the firmness of John’s grip.
John smiled at Mrs. Hudson. “Anything else before I pack it up?”
Mrs. Hudson shot a look at the corner of the ceiling beyond John’s head and pointed, “Perhaps. That is, if Sherlock will allow?”
Would Sherlock allow this attractive man to climb a ladder and remove a thick patch of cobwebs? He inclined his head in a way that he hoped was charming and said simply,
Sherlock took his place at Mrs. Hudson’s side and realised that his landlady had streaks of genius herself. They exchanged a single glance as John, his back to them, repositioned the ladder and climbed up.
He did have nice legs, very nice legs which probably led to a very nice…
“Done!” said John triumphantly. Then he looked at his watch. “Last of it, I’m afraid. I’ve another appointment.”
“Thank you so much, John. My friend Marie spoke so highly of the service, and you did not disappoint.”
“Great. And anytime that hip's bothering you and you don’t feel up to it, just give us a ring, yeah?”
Say something, say something, something clever, memorable…
“I’m a detective,” blurted Sherlock.
John smiled a wide, warm, utterly Man-in-a-Kilt smile.
“I love detectives (and detective stories). You give us a ring, too, if you want some help with this.” John’s wave took in the whole room.
And with that, and a wink, he left, with his ladder—and Sherlock's heart.
John carefully eased the folded ladder through the doorway, his exhaustion blunting the disappointment of not catching a glimpse of the gorgeous toff upstairs this time.
Ah, there he was after all.
John couldn’t help the smile which curled his lips as he looked up. “Hullo.”
“It’s Sherlock Holmes, in case you don’t remember.”
As if John hadn’t googled the handsome bastard as soon as he’d left the last time. “Yeah, I remember. You’re difficult to forget. ‘Dust is eloquent.’”
Sherlock blushed and looked away. John caught a hint of a lisp when he spoke.
“I have a very small problem if you’ve time. If not, quite alright…”
“Certainly. But your landlady,” John nodded over his shoulder toward the door, “had a very big problem, and I’m a bit of a mess.” He wiped a hand down the front of his sleeveless vest which was plastered to his torso with sweat and decorated with smears of grease and dirt.
Sherlock’s eyes follow John’s hand until it reached the waist of the kilt.
John found the undisguised lust which darkened Sherlock’s features flattering and encouraging.
“I don’t mind at all,” said Sherlock thickly, without taking his gaze from John’s chest. “You can even…if it makes you more comfortable.”
Well, if that wasn’t an invitation!
Aware that he was taking his cues from clichés in pornographic films, John set the ladder against the wall and slowly, very slowly, peeled off his vest.
Give the lad a show if nothing else.
“Let’s have a look, Mister Holmes.”
Sherlock stared, then he snapped out of his fog. “Sherlock, please,” he urged politely before turning on his heels and leading John up the stairs.
“But I was just here last week!” exclaimed John as he extended the duster into the corner of the sitting room. He gripped the top of the ladder with one hand and leaned farther to swipe the last thick ball of cobwebs. “How on earth did you manage to collect so much of this in so little time?”
“It wasn’t easy,” admitted Sherlock. “Coaxing that many spiders up there.”
John started and twisted sharply at the waist, the better to look down at Sherlock with wide eyes.
The ladder wobbled, and Sherlock stepped forward to steady it. He looked up at John and shrugged, his face a picture of anxious but unrepentant mischievousness.
“You did this?” John pointed at the crease where wall met ceiling.
“To get me here?”
Sherlock nodded again.
John laughed as he descended two steps. “That’s a new one. Go on then.” He nodded at Sherlock’s hands, which were still holding the ladder. “See what’s under the kilt.”
Hands gripped John’s bare thighs and slid up.
John looked over his shoulder once more to see Sherlock’s teeth bared and pinching his buttock through the plaid. He felt Sherlock’s hands moving up, up, up and curling ‘round his hips. He prick began to take a very decided interest in the matter until…
“Hullooo! John! Are you still here?”
Sherlock sprang away, sending the ladder into violent wobbles as John hurried to the floor and put his filthy vest back on.
“Oh, John! Thank goodness,” said Mrs. Hudson, “You did a wonderful job, but I still can’t seem to get the thing to run!”
“No problem. I’ll come down and show you. I think I’m done here?” John glanced at Sherlock, who gave a dismissive wave of the hand as he turned away.
“If you need any help with setting all this to rights,” John continued, inwardly cringing at his weak tone as he made a gesture which encompassed the sitting room and kitchen, both as cluttered as they'd been on his first visit, “just call the agency.”
Sherlock said nothing.