Sherlock followed the translucent ribbon down the corridor of his Mind Palace with Redbeard bounding along side. The blue-green colors of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico along Florida’s white sand beaches, the ribbon weaved down halls and upstairs to the rooms that held his memories of John. There were the tea room, jumper room, case room, blog room, and finally the girlfriend room. The last under heavy lock and key with large X painted on the door.
The ribbon led Sherlock and Redbeard to the end of the hallway to the 221B Baker Street door. The room that contained the culmination of all of Sherlock’s impressions and memories of Dr. John H. Watson, former army doctor, assistant, blogger, and friend. All the elements that made up John in his mind, except for the girlfriends, they had to stay under lock and key so as not to sully Sherlock’s psyche when he placed new images into John’s room.
Sherlock stopped in front of the door, Redbeard at his side wriggling in excitement to visit with John again. Trepidation made him hesitate as he reached down to turn the doorknob. The ribbon was pulsing with encouragement as it wove through the keyhole leading him through the door. The dog rushed into the room ahead of him straight to John who was sitting in his plaid chair with a book in hand, cup of tea at his side and a soft smile on his face in greeting.
John. Diminutive John. Sherlock’s closest friend. The closest friend he’d ever had in his life that liked Sherlock for who he was. John, strong, patient, kind, and fun was sitting petting Sherlock’s first friend from childhood with the blue-green ribbon gently encasing his body.
Sherlock slowly opened his eyes as he left his Mind Palace. He knew what the ribbon was. It was the beginning of a bonding link with a sentinel. Pondering why he hadn’t noticed it before now as he stared at the ceiling of the living room in 221B Baker Street he became aware of a muted tone of concern emanating from across the room.
He looked out of the corner of his eye to the source of the feeling without turning his head. The tips of his fingers dug harder into his chin from their praying position on the sofa, the ribbon was visible for a moment and led from him straight to John before the vision dissipated. John was in his chair with a paper in hand rather than a book and an empty cup of tea at his side.
“Welcome back,” he said. “You’ve been in the Mind Palace for a while, you ok?”
Sherlock waved a hand dismissively and stared up at the ceiling again, “I’m fine.”
It had been three days since their standoff with Moriarty at the pool. They’d both slept long hours, once John finished scolding Sherlock for going off on his own. Finally, the fatigue that had built during the case was assuaged and Sherlock had decided a trip to his Mind Palace was in order. He needed to mull over the events and identify any additional information about Moriarty that may have been perceived in the fringe of his psyche waiting to come to light. Nothing new about the consulting criminal made itself known, but Sherlock had gotten distracted when he found the bonding link in this mind. Another visit was in order he decided, once he figured out what was going on with him and John.
Pondering on the feeling from John he concluded the concerned came from Sherlock acting out of character. He wasn’t getting bored like he usually did after a case was finished. He had a new puzzle to sort out and he’d been content to wander in his mind for hours, sleep and eat in between without his usual complaints. Now that he’d found the bonding link, it seemed as if John was completely unaware of it. It wasn’t surprising really, that John couldn’t perceive the link; he was only a partial sentinel after all. His heightened sense, sight had been useful during his time as a doctor and surgeon and was advantageous on cases on occasion when John made the effort to be more observant.
John got up and headed to the kitchen. It looked as if tea was on order again as John made a beeline for the kettle. It wouldn’t do for his flatmate to figure something was wrong with Sherlock. He needed time to muse about the bonding link some more. Perhaps an experiment would be helpful, he thought.
“Bored!” he stated startling John into dropping the half filled kettle in the sink with a clunk.
“Dammit!” John shouted and turned to glower at Sherlock. “How can you be bored? We almost died less than three days ago!”
That was better, Sherlock thought secure in the knowledge he could deflect John’s concern.
“John, the histrionics are unnecessary. You’re overreacting,” he replied in his most aggravating tone.
The kettle was dropped on the hob with a metallic clang as John stormed out of the kitchen to loom over Sherlock and the sofa with hands on his hips.
“Overreacting…I’m overreacting! I was kidnapped and strapped to ten pounds of Semtex you tit!” John’s voice got a bit shrill at the end to Sherlock’s satisfaction.
Sherlock added a little smirk, his deep voice droll with his reply, “Well…he didn’t kill us did he?”
John ran his hands through his short hair, the blond strands spiking like a porcupine in defense from a predator. He threw his hands up in the air with a shout, “Sherlock, you can’t seriously be this dismissive of what happened. Moriarty is an absolute nutter and bloody dangerous.”
“A worthy opponent,” Sherlock replied with a sniff.
John slapped a hand to his forehead and took a deep breath as if to calm himself, “You’re unbelievable.”
The kettle started to whistle before he could say more and he turned to move back into the kitchen. Happy to have averted John’s concern and replaced it with irritation, Sherlock added, “I’ll have some biscuits with my tea, thanks.”
John grumbled under his breath, but took down another mug and rummaged in the cupboard labeled, No Experiments On Pain Of Death (Or Your Sock Index Is Toast) to grab the Tim Tams.
He brought over Sherlock’s tea with a plate of biscuits. Sherlock took a sip of the brew. Just a dash of sugar perfect as always, he thought as John went to retrieve his own. Sitting down with a sigh John asked, “Anything new in the Mind Palace? Were you able to get a read on Moriarty?”
“Not much, he’s a powerful bonded guide,” he replied.
“Guide!” John exclaimed, “Who the hell would be that lunatic’s sentinel?”
Sherlock sat up to better sip his tea and started to wriggle his toes on the coffee table. The action helped to further settle his flatmate’s concern, as Sherlock knew it would. John was so predictable. “Whoever he or she is, their mind must be as corrupt as Moriarty’s. I only got a small peek when he lost his temper,” he said.
“What did you feel?” John asked after a sip of his tea.
Sherlock hesitated for a moment to organize his thoughts, “Genius, arrogance, instability, savage madness…”
“Fuck!” John stated his mug hitting the table with a thwack as he set it down hard, tea sloshing over the sides.
“Indeed, I suppose your worry is a bit warranted, John,” he replied with a smile.
John ignored the comment, “He didn’t get into your mind did he?”
“No, for a change I was able to keep my barriers up,” Sherlock revealed.
He was a powerful Guide, but with little control over his gifts. The older he got the worse it had become much to his dismay. Sherlock could only be around a select few individuals for any length of time because of the bleed of emotions he was bombarded with on a constant basis. Mrs. Hudson was so mild mannered, loving, and pleasant of personality, Sherlock didn’t mind perceiving her emotions on a regular basis. Lestrade could be hard to take for long periods, but was tolerable most of the time. Mycroft as a guide was able to keep his emotions to himself, but he irritated Sherlock when in regular contact anyway. And John was different. He was so steadying, agreeable, and fascinated by Sherlock that his continual emanations were a balm to Sherlock’s overworked mind.
John was the only one, besides Mycroft who knew Sherlock had little control over his guide gifts. Over the time they’d lived together, he eventually had an epiphany, which annoyed Sherlock to no end. Of course, it took John awhile to figure it out.
“Sherlock, he’s obsessed with you and you need to be more careful. Stop going off into danger on your own,” the serious tone caused Sherlock to look at John more closely. The concern with added worry was broadcasting along the bonding link and apparent on John’s enchanting face.
Sherlock crunched down on a biscuit enjoying the chocolate bursting over his taste buds with a pleased hum. He swallowed before he replied, “I can handle Moriarty, John.”
“Not from where I’m sitting you can’t,” he stated. “He was leading you by the nose all over London the last week."
Affronted, “I figured it out!” he replied with a sniff.
John gave him a biting look, “Yes, well you didn’t anticipate him kidnapping me did you? I saw the look on your face when I came out, you thought I was him for a moment.”
“I knew it wasn’t you,” Sherlock boasted and removed himself from the sofa to avoid John’s eyes as he took his mug and plate to the sink. He’d been terrified for John at the pool. A feeling he rarely experienced and wasn’t about to admit to anyone let alone John he’d been having. At the moment they looked to each other as the final decision to blow Moriarty and possibly themselves to bits occurred a steady calm of acceptance had come over his mind.
John hummed in disbelief before saying, “I’m serious Sherlock. I don’t like that he wants to play games with you.”
“You worry too much, John,” Sherlock said as he came back from the kitchen to flounce dramatically on the sofa.
“At least one of us should,” was his flatmate’s reply before letting the conversation go, as Sherlock knew he eventually would if he was annoyed enough.
To further avoid a continuation of the conversation, Sherlock said, “John, I’m still bored. Where’s your gun?”
John glanced up from his perusal of the paper to give Sherlock a long look, “Not gonna happen Sherlock. Go bother Molly at Bart’s for some toes or something. You haven’t been out of your pajamas or the flat for days.”
Toes? That sounded like a good idea, Sherlock considered. Perhaps Molly would have set aside a few other body parts for him. He was sure if she hadn’t he could woo her into giving him some to bring home.
“Sherlock, will you please cover that mess up?” John said as Sherlock continued to dissect the penis he’d conned Molly into giving him.
“Busy,” he said dismissively. He was very content at the moment and didn’t need John harping on him.
John replied with a long-suffering sigh, “I see you’re busy, but I don’t want Mrs. Hudson to come up here and see that crap on the table.
“She’s use to my experiments. She won’t even know what these are,” he stated.
“Mrs. Hudson was married to a crime lord and was an exotic dancer; I think she’ll recognize a cock and a pair of bollocks on her kitchen table,” John replied as he poured another cup of tea. Sherlock in a fit of whimsy thought that John would probably die without tea considering the amount the man drank on a daily basis.
Even though John was nagging him, Sherlock felt his flatmate’s contentment coming over him in waves. The bonding link was thrumming softly in the back of his mind a soothing presence that just added to Sherlock’s serenity of the moment. It was good that John’s worry had dissipated, there was little chance of him figuring out anything new was going on with Sherlock.
John took his tea back into the living room and pulled another paper into this lap. It was quiet for a time before Sherlock started to feel suspicion coming from John. He looked over and John was sitting forward in his chair with both hands on the papers. His flatmate abruptly got up to sit at the desk in front of the window and started to hunt and peck at the keyboard of his laptop with two fingers. Sherlock dismissed the feelings to return back to his dissection and contemplated starting work on one of the testicles soon.
“Sherlock?” John called, “Will you come take a look at this?”
He set aside his scalpel and removed his latex gloves before going across the room to lean over John’s shoulder. His flatmate had three windows open on the laptop with brief articles about three deaths of men from around the city.
“There are three men dead of autoerotic asphyxiation, two that were known to be homosexual and all of the deaths have occurred in the early hours of Friday mornings,” John stated as he waited for Sherlock to finish reading. It didn’t take long; there was very little information in the news pieces.
Sherlock murmured to himself as he put the data in his Mind Palace, “Deforest Blaine, 40 found in his flat in Battersea, Edward Kellogg, 37 found in his flat in Barnet…”
“And the latest death Headley Malcolm Allen II found in his flat in Kensington,” John interrupted. Sherlock stood up from his crouched position, hands automatically meeting under his chin as he pondered the implications.
John continued, “What are the odds that three men are killed by sex games within an eight week period?”
“Statistically speaking, less than one percent,” Sherlock replied.
A rising excitement was building within him as he mused on the information he had. John turned in his seat his navy blue eyes bright with elation a growing smile on his handsome face.
“Oh, this is fantastic! Yes! Wonderful,” Sherlock exclaimed bouncing to the door to grab his Belstaf and scarf. “You’ve found us a case, John!”
“Glad to be of some use to you,” was John’s rueful reply.
He could feel himself vibrating as he waited for John to get his coat, “Your occasional insights are helpful.”
“Ta, Sherlock anything to keep you from shooting the walls,” he said as they thundered down the stairs.
“John call Graham,” he ordered making it to the bottom of the stairs.
“It’s Greg, you wanker,” John replied. “Why don’t you call him?”
“Case John! It’s a serial murder case! Lestrade is probably at the crime scene right now and he’s still irritated with me from the bombing case,” Sherlock declared as Mrs. Hudson came out of her flat wearing a bright purple floral frock with highlights of red and blue flowers in a pattern around the bosom.
“Be sure to tell him not to remove the body if they haven’t yet,” he added.
“You boys on another case so soon?” she questioned.
Sherlock gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, “Serial murder Mrs. Hudson!”
“Oh, Sherlock, don’t be so delighted. Enthusiasm for your work is fine, but glee isn’t proper,” she replied. “John, see what you can do to calm him down a bit before you get there.”
John smiled at their landlady, “I’ll try, but you know how he gets.”
“Yes, yes… come along John we have a case to solve,” Sherlock urged pulling John a long by the arm while his flatmate fiddled with his mobile. Sometimes John was just too sedate to abide.
John resisted Sherlock’s pulling for a moment to once more address their landlady, “Ah, Mrs. Hudson just a warning. You don’t want to look in the bowl on the kitchen table.”
“Experiment?” she questioned.
“You really don’t want to know,” he responded.
“Alright, be careful loves,” was heard as the door to 221B slammed behind them.