It was May. John was gone; at his hateful place of work, diagnosing chicken pox and pink eye and other dull things, and Sherlock was stretched out in his dressing gown on the sofa with his heels pressed into the armrest, glaring at the ceiling so hard it actually was beginning to hurt. Everything was so heinously, viciously, malignantly, abhorrently, loathsomely, pestiferously dull. Despicably, deplorably, deleteriously dull. Monstrously mundane. John was puttering away at his pestilential place of employment while Sherlock languished…loquaciously. Yes.
Sherlock sat up suddenly and snatched from the coffee table the box of wheaty crackers he had commandeered from Mrs. Hudson in a fit of peckishness that morning. He opened the box and determined that he would eat one. One cracker, to thwart John's scolding, or perhaps (likely) aggravate it.
The cracker was square and made of thin strands of baked wheat that all ran in the same direction, and there was a grid pattern on it from having been stamped with something like a meat tenderizer. So all the crackers were formed in a very long sheet, then stamped en masse, baked, and then shuffled into a bag and packaged in this box that had a square (cracker) shaped hole cut into the back, with a dotted arrow pointing at it, commanding that he “GROW DILL!” in all capital letters, just like that.
There was a larger square of cardboard glued to the back of the square hole, and Sherlock tore this off and tossed the rest of the box back onto the table. From this square of cardboard, one could apparently GROW DILL! Sherlock retrieved the box and read the instructions. See what the idle hours had reduced him to? John would regret ever having sought gainful employment when the flat was over taken by DILL! on account of Sherlock’s new and determined agricultural pursuits. “Get a hobby,” John had said. Well.
The card needed to be soaked in water for two to four hours and then peeled apart, prior to planting. Obvious. Sherlock threw the box across the room, and it ricocheted off the leather chair and landed somewhere. Sherlock had the mug of tea John had delivered that morning. It was cold and had a sort of glossy film over the top of it. Sherlock had to bend the cardboard square, and enjoyed a sort of vindictive satisfaction in forcing something to fit where it did not belong. The cardboard soaked up the tea, staining it dark with its soon to be cannabalised nutrients.
Nutrients, ah. Sherlock ducked his head between his knees to look under the sofa. If he were diligent he could probably scrounge up a fair amount of dust – yes, beneath the sofa it had collected into long, vine-like tendrils. Metaphorically appropriate, perhaps, but the nutrient content of dust was probably rather low; not enough to sustain life, unless he added some sort of compost. Mashed up bread and wheat crackers, perhaps. Those foods, however, were so highly processed that they actually negated life on a microbial level. That would be counterproductive to the success of his latest experiment, hypothesis: planting dill will GROW DILL! Nabisco was clearly onto something. Sherlock stood up.
Regents Park had dirt. It was now a mere matter of retrieving enough of it: the box had recommended an eight inch pot. Obviously, Sherlock didn’t have a pot for actual plants, so he went into the kitchen to rummage for an adequate container. This search was fortunately truncated by the discovery of John’s cereal bowl, from which that very morning he had eaten his Honey-Nut Cheerios (also negating of life at a microbial level). It was a cream colored ceramic bowl with a double stripe around the rim in royal blue, and would serve Sherlock’s purpose admirably. Now, he also required a means of trowelling the dirt into the bowl, and he knew he had a trowel, but he didn’t know where. Or, more accurately, he knew it was in his room at the back of his closet, which was very far away, so Sherlock instead retrieved the big metal spoon John used to stir pasta, which was in arms reach in the stand of miscellaneous cutlery.
Sherlock was not dressed to go out. In London one simply did not walk about in one’s night clothes as they did in heathen Florida. Adhering to this social stricture, however, would require he adjourn to his room and actually get dressed which just was not on. Sherlock slipped his bare feet into his shoes, and with his bowl and his monstrous spoon, decided as he set out for the park to simply pretend he was mad. It wasn’t difficult.
John returned that evening bearing fish and chips, which he deposited on the kitchen table. Having misplaced his crackers earlier, Sherlock was now famished, but he wanted proof that John loved him, so he remained supine on the sofa, plucking a morose and dissonant melody on his violin.
“Sherlock,” John called. “What is this?” He was obviously talking about the bowl of dirt, which obviously was a bowl of dirt, so Sherlock didn’t bother to respond. He curled onto his side, cradling the violin like a banjo. John came and stood in the doorway to the kitchen.
“I use that,” he said. Well, now he couldn’t. Sherlock narrowed his eyes at John, who heaved a weary sigh and retreated to the kitchen. Yes, Sherlock was just that irritating. He curled his knees in further and picked out a bit of bluegrass he had learned in Tennessee. Perhaps he would embark on a musical sojourn through the American south and let John have the flat to himself for a bit. Seeing as there would never be any interesting crimes in London ever because everyone was too stupid, Sherlock was sure he would hardly be missed. John set a plate of fish and chips on the table within his line of sight and Sherlock looked at it. The thought of consuming such a vast quantity of grease in one sitting repulsed him.
Balancing a second plate in one hand, John lifted Sherlock’s ankles out of his way and sat at the other end of the couch.
“Cor, Sherlock, your feet stink,” John said, and shifted a bit further away. Sherlock drew his feet in towards his body, but what with lying on one arm with his legs tucked up, he could barely play. John had paused and was looking at him curiously, and Sherlock managed to pluck one sullen note. He was irritating and also smelled bad. He definitely belonged in America.
“Have you been to the park in your pyjamas?”
Now it was Sherlock’s turn to pause. He knew how he would have deduced as much, but John, as a rule, was not particularly astute. “Explain,” he said. It was the most he’d said since the day before yesterday.
John’s plate was perched on his knees. His fish and chips were still wrapped in the butchers paper and from the corner of his eye Sherlock observed the spreading translucency of the grease stain. Also, John licked his fingers, which had been used to touch battered fish and Sherlock’s allegedly repulsive, unwashed, reeking feet. Some doctor.
“You’re hems are dirty,” John began, “but not with dust from about the flat. It’s too dark, it’s actual mud stains. So you took my cereal bowl and the cooking spoon down to the park, in your pyjamas, and filled the bowl with mud. And you weren’t wearing any socks because your feet stink and you’ve got blisters on your heels.”
Sherlock plucked his one note. “Why the park?”
John ate a chip and mulled it over. “Well, you’ve only got small blisters, so you didn’t go too far, but if you’d filched the dirt from a private garden looking like that, someone would have rung the police. Then you’d have had to make a break for it, and the blisters are too small for that-”
“I wouldn’t have been caught,” Sherlock said.
“Spooning dirt out of someone’s window-box in your pyjamas?”
Sherlock closed his eyes and plucked his note. Plink plink plink. He sat up suddenly and set the violin aside. “I would have done it too quickly to be caught, but you’re right, it was the park.” He reached for his fish and chips, suddenly ravenous.
“Christ, Sherlock, chew at least,” John said.
The next day, however, found London still empty of crime. John brought Sherlock his tea as usual, but then seated himself on the edge of the sofa, clearly preparing to say something unwelcome.
“I know you’re not going to like this – “
If Sherlock could roll his eyes any harder he would likely give himself brain damage. The destruction of London’s greatest mind would be John Watson’s load to bear. (With very little effort Sherlock could make John responsible for nearly anything: the man was a glutton for guilt.)
“- but have you considered seeing someone about this? Like a…like a psychiatrist?”
Sherlock tensed where he lay.
“I mean, it’s just not…it’s not healthy to be….to be depressed like this. Sherlock.”
Ah, the inevitable betrayal. Sherlock should have seen this one coming. You need help, Sherlock, there’s something wrong with you. There was always something wrong.
“Why don’t you prescribe me something, Doctor, to make me healthy and normal, and then everyone will be happy,” Sherlock snapped. He stared resolutely at the ceiling but not because he couldn’t bear to look at John. Don’t be ridiculous.
“I don’t want you to be normal,” John said quietly. “I’m sorry. Just forget I said anything.” He stood up. A moment later he had left the flat, shrugging into his jacket and mumbling some lie about laundry detergent. Sherlock heard the front door close, and in settled the relative quiet of an empty flat in London. It pressed in around him like something he could reach out and touch.
Life was hopelessly dull. Crushingly boring. His chemical experiments were repetitive and pointless. The infinite space of the internet was filled with nothing but tripe and poorly worded misinformation. There was nothing to do, and what there was to do wasn’t worth doing.
Sherlock rolled off the sofa. He stood up. There were two things he could do:
Sherlock instead watered his plant with a tiny pipette, one drop at a time. This process took one hour. Then he did fifty push-ups, and three sit-ups before collapsing in a heap of disinterest in the middle of the room. He was hungry now. He willed his tea from that morning to come to him. He even went so far as to stretch out his arm, but it was a good six feet too short. Sherlock sighed and let his arm flop to the carpet like a noodle. He rolled onto his stomach, then spotted something very good through the gap beneath the armchair. His crackers! Alas, they too were too far away. Sherlock rested his cheek on the floor and did a close but not thorough examination of the carpet fibers. They were worn quite thin in the high traffic area on which he had chosen to recline. The carpet had come with the flat and thus had the accumulated dead skin cells of all previous tenants packed in at the weave. Eighteen years’ worth going by the pattern and general wear and tear. Eighteen years’ worth of dead, flaking skin and Sherlock was pressing his face into it. Ew.
Sherlock sighed. If only he weren’t so lazy, he would get up and fix himself a sandwich, or whatever John had decided to stock the flat with that week. Was he more hungry or more lazy? John could have at least had the decency to force him to eat something before calling him a lunatic and running away. As flatmates went John was useless. Sherlock heaved himself onto his elbows and began the long, arduous crawl across the floor.
When he reached the box of crackers Sherlock turned onto his side, curled like a comma around the armchair. “GROW DILL!” the box shouted, even though the accompanying photographs showed carrots, tomatoes, and something like clover. Sherlock wondered if other varieties of the cracker provided seeds for these things. Unlikely.
Sherlock ate one cracker. The fibrous nature of the layers ensured that this process was very messy, especially when one endeavored to consume each cracker one layer at a time.
When John returned he thunked something down onto the kitchen table and then wandered around for a little while.
“Oh, there you are,” he said when he found Sherlock still lounging on the floor. He had eaten three crackers before growing sick of them, and was nudging the resulting crumbs into a mathematically perfect spiral with his fingernail. John set a paper cup on the floor, inches from Sherlock’s nose, as though he wouldn’t notice it otherwise. “Chai,” John said. Heaven forfend the flow of tea should ever cease.
John toed off his shoes and stepped over Sherlock to sit in the armchair. He was silent for a moment. “Sherlock,” he said. Sherlock closed his eyes. “I just want you to be happy. Alright? And…you’re not. So…that’s why I said what I did, and it’s not because…because I want you to be different, alright? I’m sorry.” John braced one foot on Sherlock’s hip and jostled him like a dog. “Alright?”
“Mmp,” said Sherlock.
With a breath, John leaned back in the chair. After moment he leaned over and stole Sherlock’s crackers. “What’ve you got,” he asked, as though it wasn’t stamped boldly across the box, complete with photograph of the product in question. Sherlock could hear him turning the box over, and he was quiet for a time. Suddenly Sherlock wished he hadn’t given up the box so easily.
“Is this what you’ve done with my cereal bowl? And the dirt? Oi!” He jostled Sherlock again, and Sherlock went so far as to raise his head.
“Your feet are no bed of roses either, Watson,” he sniped. John made an incredulous noise, struck dumb for a moment. (Struck dumb, as though it were a momentary lapse rather than a permanent state of being.)
“Your feet did smell, I was stating an objective fact! Since when are you offended by facts?”
Actually John’s foot was warm and kind of nice, though it drew attention to how cold the rest of his body had become.
“I’ve never even heard of these before,” John mused. “I’ll have to ask Mrs. Hudson where she got them.” He pressed his foot gently into Sherlock’s side, then stroked his ribs with his toe. Sherlock tucked his cup of chai beneath his chin to keep his neck warm.
The next day, Sherlock cut a long isosceles triangle from the cracker box and drew in a dark black comma. “GROW, DILL!” the sign now read. Sherlock stuck it in his bowl of dirt.
Packets of seeds appeared around the flat, tucked into crevices; between books, behind the bread, under the carpet, wedged into the sofa cushions. Sherlock had fifteen different types of seeds after John’s quaint attempt to encourage what he must have interpreted as a burgeoning “hobby.” It took thirty minutes to find them all, then Sherlock set them on the window sill and then decided to clip his toenails.
He finally broke. He showered, shaved, and dressed, then bolted for the nearest cash point. He withdrew as much as the machine would allow, then greased every palm in his homeless network. Then he made for the underground gambling rings. Nothing! The Good Samaritan had set a curse upon London! Sherlock bought a big metal spoon and a plastic sack, and returned to 221B with twenty-five pounds of soil he had appropriated from the park. He filled every tea cup, every bowl, every plastic container with dirt, and planted marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, oregano, marigolds (?), parsley, horseradish, bay leaves, chives, coriander, sage, lemon grass, and fennel. He piled everything onto the front window sills and then stood back. Now what? Now what nowwhatnowwhatnowwhat? Sherlock dropped onto the arm of the leather chair. He looked at his hands. They felt like they were shaking, but they weren’t, actually. They were very dirty. Sherlock got up and washed his hands.
The next two days Sherlock had a smallish case on his website, and the day after that John said, delighted, “Hey, you’ve got a little shoot coming up!” He grinned at Sherlock, who eyed him askance. Sherlock waited until John went away, then he got up and looked at his dill. He did indeed have a little green shoot coming up. It sent an inexplicable but giddy thrill through him. It was just a plant, he told himself. Plants grew on their own; Sherlock hadn’t even done anything.
From the kitchen doorway John said, “Got any plans for it,” and Sherlock tensed. John wasn’t supposed to see him looking at the dill. He didn’t know why. Sherlock forced himself to relax, then turned around abruptly, smiling in a stretched out sort of false way. “You’re going to make me something with it.”
John’s eyebrows shot up towards his hair. “Oh I am?”
Sherlock prayed God would deliver him from the simple-minded. He returned to the sofa and flopped down. “Yes, John,” he explained very patiently. John didn’t answer, but Sherlock could see he was smiling. Sherlock turned his face towards the cushion so John wouldn’t see how his own smile had become sincere.
A magnificent series of burglaries occurred, which for two weeks kept Sherlock’s voracious mind from cannibalizing itself. When he next flopped onto the sofa it was out of exhaustion, falling almost immediately into a dense sleep.
He jolted awake a short time later because of something very bad. He rolled off the sofa – he was enmeshed in something! A blanket. He knocked into the coffee table and staggered over to check on his plants. A cup, he needed a cup or something. He looked around. He needed what? He looked.
“I’ve watered them for you,” John said. He was reading the paper.
“Mkmmssmm,” said Sherlock. That was right, he needed a cup to water the plants. He needed…
“Sherlock,” John said. “I’ve done it. Go back to sleep.”
Sherlock looked at him.
“I’ve watered your plants, they’re fine. Go back to sleep.”
Finally John stood up and conducted Sherlock back to the sofa. He made him lie down, covered him again with the blanket, then stood there for a moment. As Sherlock drifted off John leaned to stroke his cheek with his knuckles. It felt nice.
Dull: adjective – not sharp, blunt. Causing boredom; tedious, uninteresting. Having very little depth of color; lacking in richness and intensity. Sherlock was wrapped in his housecoat, lying with his back to the room. Life was lacking in richness and intensity.
John came home. Sherlock could hear him unloading the shopping in the kitchen. John was too simple to realize how wretched everything was. Wretched, from the Middle English wrecchede. Dejected, distressed, afflicted, woeful, woebegone, forlorn, unhappy. Sherlock heard the refrigerator open and shut, then a light rustling as a sheet of paper was unfolded. How could John not see it? How could he carry on day after day, performing the same inane tasks, treating the same stupid patients with their repetitive, trifling illnesses?
Sherlock pressed his face against the sofa cushion and tried not to suffocate: difficult, what with the crushing, absolute tedium of living. He didn’t want to feel this way anymore. (Doctors called it “medication,” but when Sherlock bypassed them it was called an illegal and self-destructive drug habit. Absurd. (Absurd: via French from the Latin Absurdus, meaning out of tune.))
There came a deliberate snapping sound of scissors, and when Sherlock looked over his shoulder John was standing in the kitchen doorway.
“I need some dill. Is that alright?”
Sherlock turned away again. John could do whatever he liked. He could set the flat afire for all he cared. Still, Sherlock found he was holding his breath, anticipating the snipping sound as he stared stiffly at the brown leather sofa-back. It came, muffled, near the far window. Sherlock waited a sufficient duration after John had returned to the kitchen, then he rose and inspected his plant.
Because it had come from a box of crackers, Sherlock had less dill than any of the other herbs John had supplied. Both windowsills, rather than overtaken with cups of soil, were covered now in a variety of growing greenery. John had harvested their limited dill supply four inches from the root, leaving only the yellow-green stems with the awkward tufted leaf here and there. It would grow back. Eventually. It was fine. It was perfectly fine. Anyway it was just a plant.
In the reflection in the window Sherlock watched John peer at a yellow sheet of paper torn from a legal pad: a recipe copied from the internet in his illegible doctor’s scrawl. He took inventory of the ingredients he had purchased, the dill still in hand. Sherlock pruned a dead leaf from the basil with his thumbnail. While he was at it, he pruned dead leaves from all his plants.
John served white fish with a lemon dill sauce and various vegetables. He had attempted to arrange it artfully, with little success, and Sherlock could see from a distance the broccoli was overcooked. To Sherlock’s mind there were very few foods more repulsive than overcooked broccoli. Still, he sat down at the table once John had cleared it of books, papers, and the odd plant.
In his haste back in May Sherlock hadn’t kept track of which seeds had gone where. As they grew he had been able to identify them by their leaves, but now for John’s purposes he considered labeling them. John popped open a bottle of Sancerre and Sherlock examined the plate before him. John had been rather liberal in his application of dill sauce, and in it Sherlock could identify the dark green, strand-like leaves. He ducked his head. He felt – he thought –
“You’re allowed to smile,” John said. Sherlock froze. “You always stop yourself smiling.” There was a light, teasing quality to his voice, and against his will Sherlock’s lips quirked upwards.
“Cheers,” John said, but Sherlock ignored him. He tasted the sauce John had made with the dill he had grown. It was good.
Sherlock returned one day to find John had installed window boxes and left a fifty pound bag of potters soil beside the fireplace. Another day, when the mood took him, he moved all the herbs outdoors.
He was pruning dead leaves mid-August when he saw something. Of all the seeds John had provided, one type was utterly useless, and those were the marigolds. It secretly vexed Sherlock to continue to care for something so lacking in purpose, but he continued to pluck off the dead flower heads even though John would never be able to make Sherlock anything with it, which was more or less Sherlock’s sole criterion in gaging their value. But then he saw something.
Obviously Sherlock had seen bees before. He had seen them in his mother’s garden as a boy, been stung once or twice in primary school. Those were irrelevant insects. This bee, however, had come to his flower, which he had grown from a seed. Sherlock stopped breathing. The street below did not exist. The bee crawled over the convoluted layers of Sherlock’s marigold. It was…what was it doing? It was crawling around in the center of the flower, its last two legs unevenly thick and yellow. Ah, that was pollen (allergen), and the bee was gathering it for some reason. The legs must have some sort of coating or barb to enable this. Sherlock watched the bee silently, with his heart in his throat. It felt to him as though all the banks had been robbed in one day, with no witnesses. He was transfixed.
When the bee flew off, Sherlock spun back into the room, patting his pockets for his phone. Wikipedia, Wikipedia would know. Sherlock noticed he had continued to breathe in without exhaling, and he did so in an explosive gust. His phone was on the coffee table. He wanted to text John about the bee, and if he had his laptop he could do that and check Wikipedia simultaneously.
There was a knock at the door and Sherlock bounded over and flung it open, then ground to a halt. He tried to close the door again but Mycroft had already wedged his toe inside.
“Really, Sherlock,” Mycroft said. Sherlock let the door swing open and stalked away, buoyant mood extinguished. He retrieved his violin from beside the couch, touched the bow to the strings, but did not draw. He tried to think of the most irritating song in his considerable repertory.
“I have a small matter I thought might be of interest to you,” Mycroft began. He paused. Though Sherlock faced away he knew Mycroft was looking at his plants. He gripped his violin. John had insisted he transfer the sign (GROW, DILL!) to the window box, and it was soggy now and faded. Only the ballpoint comma was as dark as ever.
When Mycroft breathed as though to speak, Sherlock launched into a loud and spirited rendition of Ragtime Annie, which he had picked up in the Florida Bayou. His irritating (aggravating, vexatious) brother endured eleven bars.
Sherlock kept playing until the black car had pulled away from the curb, then he concluded his performance with an ear-splitting shriek that more or less summed up his thoughts on the matter. Mycroft had left a manila envelope on the living room table, which Sherlock picked up and sent spinning into the fireplace.
Now, what had he been doing? Ah, he’d been about to text John.
About an insect.
He’d been about to text John about an insect.
That was completely stupid. Sherlock went into his room and shut the door.
John came home and Sherlock heard him set the shopping on the kitchen table, then wander around for a while. He had the hennish habit of needing to locate Sherlock if he were home.
Eventually there came a tapping at the door.
“Sherlock?” John called. Sherlock was lying on his bed with his back to the door. When John looked in Sherlock knew it would look suspicious if only because he never actually slept in his bed.
As predicted, when John did look in he was somewhat befuddled. "Are you alright?" he asked. Sherlock ignored him. John came around either to look at his face or check that he was still alive. Sherlock was glaring stiffly at the wall, his fingers curled around his elbows in the attitude of "massive strop," as John had termed it on his blog.
John exhaled slowly and noisily through his nose. “Thought you had a case today,” he said.
He had, and he’d solved it, obviously.
Sherlock flipped onto his back and glared at his flatmate. “The door was closed.”
John crossed his arms the way he did when he thought he was putting his foot down. “Right, it was closed, but finding you in here actually using your bed for its intended purpose, I’m sorry but it’s a bit worrying.”
Sherlock covered his face with his hands. Honestly, what did John want from him? He was getting to be as bad as Mycroft.
“You were perfectly fine this morning. I mean, that’s a bit abrupt, even for you. You haven’t had an episode in weeks, even without any cases.”
Sherlock dropped his hands. That’s what he had now, episodes? “Get out.”
John’s brow was furrowed and his mouth was open in mid-retort, causing him to appear half-witted. (Appear half-witted!) His mouth snapped shut and then he left, closing the door behind him. Sherlock turned back onto his side.
Episode. The truth always emerged eventually. Incredible how spectacularly ignorant he is -
The door flew open again. “Was Mycroft here?” John demanded, and Sherlock straightened onto his back again, the very embodiment of exasperation. Incredible how spectacularly irritating -
“Did he say something to you?” John was holding the manila envelope Sherlock had chucked, and he waited in vain for a response. Then, incongruously civil, he said, “I’m making pizza. Mind if I pinch some of your basil?”
Sherlock snapped. “ Fuck the bloody basil - ”
His eyes went wide. The scoundrel – he’d been tricked! He’d quite shown his hand there. Softly John repeated, “Did he say something to you?”
“But he was here.”
Silence. (Via Old French from the Latin silentium, from silere, to be quiet.)
"You didn't want him to see your plants," John deduced. Preposterous.
“Preposterous,” Sherlock told him.
John added with something bordering on incredulity, “You were embarrassed.”
Sherlock would have turned his back, but he was far too dignified for that. When John came in and set the envelope on the bedside table, Sherlock very regally refused to look at him. He glared at the ceiling with his arms crossed over his chest. John looked down at him. “You are like a child,” he muttered. Oh fantastic! Sherlock opened his mouth to retort, but John said “Stop,” and sat on the edge of the bed. Sherlock did turn his back then.
“Sherlock,” John sighed. "Look," he said, then stopped for a long while.
"Look," he tried again. “You didn’t want him to see your plants, that’s…” False, to start with. Pathetic also came to mind. Childish. “Normal,” John concluded. Wait, what? "You...You like to be good at things, and…Alright, hang on.” (The eloquent Dr. Watson!) “You like a lot of things, Sherlock, like crime and mysteries and stuff. Um...and you...those things, they're all for your brain, like. They're intellectual. And the plants are for...they're for...not your brain, Sherlock. They're for your heart. And it's normal to be protective of that. Alright? It's not stupid, okay? So you don't have to act like you don't care, and you don't have to be embarrassed about what you like even if it doesn't have a…have a scientific purpose. Not everything is in service of that great brain of yours." John squeezed his shoulder.
All of this of course had only served to make Sherlock feel worse. There was a heat behind his eyes that felt suspiciously like tears. Absurd. He rolled onto his back and his shoulder pressed against John's hip.
"There was a bee," he confessed. John pushed out his lips like he was pondering the significance of that remark. Impatiently Sherlock added, "On the marigolds."
"That's good, I guess," John offered. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"It was gathering pollen. On its legs." He looked at John for an answer, but all John did was nod like a commemorative bobble-head. Sherlock heaved an enormous sigh. "So why was it doing that?" he asked. John raised his eyebrows. “You’re supposed to know about normal things.”
"Um, that what bees do,” John said. “It's how they make honey."
Honey...Sherlock turned this over in his mind. He hadn’t been aware that honey came from bees. As far as Sherlock was concerned honey came from the supermarket. "How do they turn the pollen into honey?"
"Well, they eat it, I think, and then they spit it back up, and that's honey." (Later, this statement would prove erroneous, but that wasn’t important.)
"And how does one harvest it?"
John scrubbed his forehead with his fingers. "I'm not really sure. Do you want me to Google it?"
"No, that's all right.”
They sat quietly.
John said, "Anyway, I bought a pizza dough. I thought it would be fun."
"Did you get tomatoes?"
"Fresh mozzarella and some sauce."
"Will you help me make it?"
It was the first time John had ventured that question, and Sherlock did him the justice of at least appearing to think it over.
"I'll watch you do it," he finally said. John smiled.
The next day a special delivery arrived for Sherlock. Mrs. Hudson had signed for it and set it on the table in the hallway. It was a small plant that Sherlock didn't recognise, one that would need repotting if it were to grow properly. Camillia Sinensis, the label read, or tea plant. Keep moist, full sun, 10 - 30 C. There was a card with it in Mycroft's small, regular cursive.
This will be difficult to grow in London conditions, but can be done with diligence.
Sherlock stood for a long moment with the plant in his hands. He could hear John’s footsteps back and forth in the kitchen upstairs, and he couldn’t help but smile. He thought perhaps he would let John plant this one.