“Why is there a dismembered corpse in the fridge?”
The click-clack of typing from the other room pauses, then resumes as Sherlock says, “Well, I couldn’t very well stuff him in the pantry, now could I?”
John exhales, counts backwards in his head, and then rephrases, “Why is there a dismembered corpse in the flat?”
He turns from the fridge, one hand still clamped on the door—more because he can’t remember how to let go right now than out of any real desire to keep it open. The view isn’t terribly compelling at present. Neither is the smell.
In the living room, Sherlock is curled over the laptop, frowning to himself as he types.
“Honestly, why do I even bother asking?” John mutters. No answer is forthcoming, and the fridge still hasn’t been emptied of its grisly—and highly illegal—contents. He unclamps his hand, letting the door fall shut, and strides over to stand at Sherlock’s left shoulder.
Sherlock’s fingers pause on the keys again. He cocks his head. “How tall would you say he was? Five foot ten?”
“In my medical opinion?”
“I’d say five foot ten sounds absolutely brilliant—give or take a foot. It’s a bit difficult to judge, given that he’s currently a dismembered corpse in the fridge!”
Sherlock huffs and resumes his clacking. “Honestly, John, I’d almost think you’d never seen a severed head in the icebox before.”
John draws himself up with a frown. “That was different.”
“Really? How?” Sherlock actually sounds interested. He stops typing and twists about in his chair to look up with an inquisitive tilt of one eyebrow.
John splutters, trying to come up with an appropriate response. Sherlock’s expression is perfectly still. It’d be easier to come up with something if John could see anything remotely human in his flatmate’s face. Or if he had any grounds on which to build a case.
He let one measly severed head slip by and now it’s going to haunt him for life.
Abandoning that argument, John crosses his arms in what he hopes is a stern manner and demands, “Does Lestrade know you’ve got hold of a corpse?”
“Evasion, followed by attempted misdirection. How predictable.”
John flushes as Sherlock turns back to the laptop. He doesn’t know how Sherlock manages to make predictability sound so much like a disease.
“Look, I live here too, and I think I’ve a right to know why I’ll be throwing out my leftover curry instead of eating it.”
Sherlock sniffs. “I didn’t touch your curry. It’s just behind the left arm. Perfectly edible.”
John’s stomach seizes at the thought of doing as Sherlock suggests. No, the curry’s done for. John paid honest money for that meal. He had every right to eat it. He had every right to expect his flatmate would be considerate enough not to stuff dismembered corpses into the fridge while John was out for his walk.
Sherlock is humming contentedly as he clickity-clacks away. Of course he is. He’s on a case. Nothing else matters.
John clenches his jaw. He doesn’t enjoy threatening people, but Sherlock really has brought this on himself.
“Don’t make me call Mycroft.”
Sherlock’s typing falters and then comes to a reluctant halt. He delivers a withering glance over his shoulder. John meets his gaze steadily until Sherlock sighs.
Slumping petulantly, Sherlock swivels sideways and steeples his fingers, elbows balanced on the chair’s arms. “Ernie Maldrone needed a favor.”
“Who’s—wait. Ernie ‘the Hatchet’ Maldrone?” If John’s voice cracks a little on the name, it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Not considering the man’s reputation.
Sherlock’s mouth purses in a moue. “I wish you wouldn’t refer to our clients by their nicknames. It’s tacky.”
“Our cli—” Dropping his arms, John gapes at his flatmate. When he recovers enough to speak, it’s to blurt, “Sherlock, he’s a mobster. We’re meant to be jailing people like him, not—not storing their victims in our bloody fridge!”
Sherlock lifts his head and waves a hand negligently in John’s direction. “Oh, like you’ve never killed anybody before.”
“I damn well haven’t hacked them up into fifteen pieces and sent them to some other bloke’s flat!” John can’t look at Sherlock any more. Not without punching him in his stupid, smug face. Turning away, he paces in short lines across the flat.
John pauses. “What?”
“Mr. Falcone is in sixteen pieces, not fifteen.”
“Mr. Falcone,” John repeats.
“The gentleman in the fridge. He was Mr. Maldrone’s chauffer. Mr. Maldrone found him drowned behind the wheel of his car this morning. Of course, the body was in a single piece at that time, but considering our client’s predilections there’s no real mystery as to how it ended up packaged so neatly in plastic wrap. The truly fascinating question is how—”
“Stop. Just. Just stop.”
Miracle of miracles, Sherlock does pause at John’s raised hand.
“I changed my mind. I don’t want to know.” John glances back at the fridge, bracing himself, and then nods. “Right then.”
Doing a sharp right face, he strides toward the stairs.
“John? Where are you going?” Sherlock calls after him. “I need you to do an autopsy for me.”
John turns back in the doorway. “What, so you can insult my expertise while you list out all the things I’ve missed? You don’t really need me here for that, do you?”
Sherlock offers him a sardonic smile. “Well, yes. If you aren’t around to listen, it rather defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?”
For a long, incredulous moment, John stares at him. Then he observes, “You really are unbelievable.”
This time, when Sherlock calls after him, John doesn’t slow, but his flatmate’s voice follows him out the door and down the stairs.
“Wait! What about dinner?”
“There’s some curry in the fridge. Be my guest!”