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Defining John Watson

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John: “So why do you put up with him?”


Lestrade: “Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man. And I think one day - if we’re very, very lucky - he might even be a good one.”


~ A Study in Pink






It took two words – a rare break in a classic Sherlockian rant augmented by the outlying chaos of a staged drugs bust – for Lestrade to realize just who John Watson actually was.


“Not good?”


It was a pause in the breathless, bewildering refusal of one woman’s dying actions to stay within Sherlock’s narrow definitions of human behavior; a pause and question directed to a stranger he not only just met, but had also attached to. Sherlock didn’t attach. He needed people, sure – as puzzles to take apart and work out, something to combat the boredom and exercise his cleverness – but they were pieces he manipulated, insulted, studied, and experimented on to a breaking point that made it obvious he didn’t actually want people around beyond their limited purpose. Lestrade may not have been the world’s only consulting detective, but he was no stranger to the importance of patterns – and those two words, that pause…they broke the closest thing Sherlock had to a pattern.


Sherlock had never stopped in the middle of one of his data-processing rants to consider the emotional responses of those around him; had never treated the shocked, disgusted reactions of Lestrade’s squad as anything other than useless distraction. But that night, in the wake of one of his usual, emotionally out of touch statements, Sherlock didn’t just ignore the ensuing judgmental silence and push on as he normally would have; he focused in on John’s silence, studying the minute shift in the physician’s face and posture……and not only stopped, but asked; seriously looking to John - wanting John - to give him an answer. One he got in four words pitched low for Sherlock’s ears and pared down to the bare basics. The response of a military man. The response a data-driven, self-professed sociopathic genius needed.


“Bit not good, yeah.”


And Sherlock bloody well paused again - silently, and knowing him, probably begrudgingly, acknowledging the misstep while simultaneously filing the new information into his internal case file; body language Lestrade managed to translate after years of knowing the man, yet John seemed to read as fluently as if he’d known Sherlock all his life.


It was just a moment – a half-second’s stumble before Sherlock was off and running again, going on about lovers and cleverness and how stupid they all were – but it was enough.


Enough for Lestrade to realize that John Watson, the army doctor who had shown up in Sherlock’s life with the random, impossible odds of destiny itself, was the one.


The man who would take Sherlock Holmes from great to good.


Lestrade’s eyes moved from Sherlock’s animated, rapid-fire thought process to linger on John’s steady, attentive focus; an unwavering presence that somehow managed to look several centimeters up into the wild, unpredictable storm that was Sherlock Holmes and not only stand his ground, but also be fully engaged: fascinated, processing, supporting, challenging. Sometimes unsure, but never backing down.


Yes, Lestrade thought. Very, very lucky indeed.