Marcus knew from day one of working with Sherlock that the guy had quirks. But by now, he wasn’t fazed by Sherlock’s randomly shared tidbits of arbitrary information or his sometimes too invasive questions into Marcus’ personal life. Even long periods of silence were expected occasionally—and sometimes preferred depending on what kind of day Marcus was having.
But today in the elevator, something seemed off. Marcus couldn’t put his finger on it, but Sherlock definitely had something on his mind. When working on a case, Sherlock was usually a twitchy bundle of energy, like he had a timer set and he couldn’t stop moving until the culprit was safely away in handcuffs. In the elevator, his fingers tapping lightly on the wall made a dull thumping sound that echoed in the enclosed space. Marcus might characterize it as nervousness if he didn’t know better. He was pretty sure it was reluctance more than anything else.
So instead of waiting for Sherlock to broach the subject, Marcus broke the silence. He could let Sherlock get it off his chest before the elevator reached its destination and they had to get back to the case.
“Something on your mind?”
Sherlock’s eyes flickered towards him, hesitating only a moment before answering. “Perhaps your insight could be useful.” He shifted on his heel so that he was facing Marcus directly. “Watson and I were discussing something earlier. Maybe you can settle it.”
“What’s that?” Marcus raised an eyebrow.
“What does friendship mean to you?”
The question caught him off guard. He was expecting something more along the lines of Sherlock’s struggle with sobriety or perhaps some worry over everything that had happened with his father recently. Not something as philosophical and abstract as “friendship.”
“Uh…” Marcus tilted his head. “I guess I’d have to think about that. I mean, unless you’re just looking to borrow my dictionary. Probably got one around my apartment somewhere,” he tacked that on as a joke because otherwise he thought this conversation might start feeling weird.
The corners of Sherlock’s lips turned up in a hint of a smile indicating that he’d understood. “I was looking for something a bit more personal than what you’d find in the OED,” he replied in a tone where Marcus thought he was joking. But he wasn’t one hundred percent sure. He could never tell with Sherlock.
Marcus shrugged. “I guess I never really thought about what it means to me personally.”
“Well then, I look forward to your thoughts later,” Sherlock said just as the elevator opened up to reveal the offices on the 32nd floor. He immediately stepped forward, diving right back into work.
“Excuse me, can I help you?” the nearest lady asked.
“Yes, we’re here to ask you why illegally imported cheese led to the death of your company’s CFO.”
Now that was the Sherlock he knew. Marcus stepped out of the elevator and reached for his police badge before the lady called for security.
Marcus knocked loudly on the door of the brownstone, ignoring the slight sting in his knuckles from too much force. He stepped back and waited, listening for the sound of movement inside.
Another moment later and the door swung open to reveal Joan looking surprised but pleased to see him. “Hi Marcus, what brings you here?” She motioned for him to come inside, and he noticed she was wearing rubber gloves.
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he said. Rubber gloves meant she was probably cleaning, but then again, he always had to second guess things when it came to these two.
“No, no, not at all,” Joan answered. It took her a moment to lock the door again because of how bulky the gloves were.
“I tried to call both you and Sherlock but the numbers were disconnected. So I thought I’d stop by in person.” He was halfway worried they might have left the country on a whim. Sherlock had done that before, after all. There was a precedent.
“Oh,” Joan brushed off his concern with a small laugh. “Sherlock and I had a… difference of opinion with Everyone, so they retaliated by temporarily shutting off our phones.”
“I should have guessed.” He was relieved it wasn’t anything serious. Everything seemed relatively normal in the house as he followed her lead to the kitchen.
“Sherlock’s resolving the problem now. In the meantime, you’re welcome to hang out. I’m just cleaning Clyde’s tank.” She checked to make sure her gloves were still secure before she resumed her scrubbing. Not that it looked like there was very much grime to remove. Both Joan and Sherlock were quite the attentive pet owners.
He sat down at the kitchen table, giving Clyde a nod while the small turtle munched nonchalantly on some lettuce. “I actually came by to ask if you and Sherlock were free on Saturday afternoon. The YMCA in my neighborhood is putting together a charity event for the kids and we’re looking for volunteers. Would you be interested?”
Joan didn’t even pause as she considered it. “Sure, I wouldn’t mind.” She looked up past Marcus towards the doorway and continued speaking. “What about you, Sherlock? You’re not busy on Saturday are you?”
“Not that I’m aware of,” came the answer from behind him, but it sounded more muffled than usual. “Why do I need a clear schedule?”
Marcus turned to see Sherlock standing in the doorway wearing one of those plastic Halloween Scream masks. It was kind of unnerving actually to see the white screaming face with those blank black eyes staring back at him.
“Um…” Marcus was sort of at a loss for words.
“Oh, there’s Clyde,” he said nonchalantly through the mask and picked up the turtle from the table.
“What’s with the mask?” he finally asked.
Sherlock paused and turned towards him, and it was particularly eerie because Marcus couldn’t see his eyes. “I’m conducting an experiment. Nothing too exciting. But I need Clyde’s assistance in appeasing the wrath of Everyone.” He held the turtle up as if that was the oddest thing about the situation.
So instead of wasting time questioning things further, Marcus just explained the invitation for Saturday’s event. Sherlock nodded with what he assumed was an interested facial expression but he couldn’t know for sure.
“I would be happy to help out,” he said. “I’m actually quite adept at making balloon animals.”
Marcus almost laughed. “That’s great. Just, uh, don’t wear the Halloween mask.”
“Nonsense,” Sherlock said. “I’ll be done with this experiment by tomorrow. Now if you’ll excuse me…” he trailed off and then exited the room with Clyde.
Marcus looked to Joan, hoping that she could make some sort of sense out of the situation. But she was still focused on the scrubbing, completely unfazed by anything they had just witnessed. He wondered if she was ever surprised by anything anymore.
“It must be one weird thing after another living here,” he said, mostly to himself but loud enough for her to still hear him.
She shrugged with a small chuckle. “You get used to it,” she said, straightening up and removing her rubber gloves.
“You look like you could use this,” Marcus said, setting the coffee cup down on the desk where Joan had her files spread out while she looked over the details of their latest investigation. She looked exhausted even though they had only snagged this case a few hours ago.
She took the coffee with one hand and continued writing notes with the other. “Thanks,” she said. “I stayed up way too late last night trying to teach Sherlock how to play this video game my brother gave me.” She could see the confused look on his face. “Neither one of us can say no to a challenge apparently.”
Marcus settled down at his own desk nearby because he needed to check on the results from the fingerprints taken at the crime scene. “I can believe that.” He turned his focus back to his computer, but it was slow so he cast around for another topic of discussion while he waited. “I never did get to say thanks for helping out at the event last weekend. The kids really appreciated it.”
“I had a lot of fun,” Joan replied, and then she leaned forward, lowering her voice a little. “And just between you and me, I think it was a good change of pace for Sherlock. He’s been a little… off since everything that happened with his father, you know.”
Before Marcus could reply, Sherlock walked into the office and Joan immediately cast her attention back to the case files.
“The autopsy results are in from the morgue if one of you would like to accompany me down there,” Sherlock announced. He rocked forward on his toes impatiently and looked back and forth from one of them to the other.
“I’ll go,” Marcus said, standing up. Joan looked like she was making more progress than he was with his computer anyhow. Sherlock didn’t waste any time as he spun on his heel and darted off towards the elevator. Marcus observed him as he followed behind, looking for signs of the same exhaustion that Joan had exhibited earlier. But Sherlock was more or less the same as usual, which made sense to him since he could easily imagine Sherlock as the kind of person who never slept. Sometimes the British detective seemed more robot than human, and Marcus had trouble stifling a giggle as he imagined Sherlock just swapping out rechargeable battery packs instead of sleeping at night.
“Something amusing?” Sherlock asked him as he pressed the button for the morgue and the doors closed. Marcus revised his earlier robot theory because the tone of Sherlock’s voice was definitely the kind of sleep-deprived grumpiness he was familiar with.
Marcus cleared his throat. “No, no. I was just thinking about something silly.”
Sherlock just gave him a silent look with one raised eyebrow, and then he completely changed the subject. “Have you given any more thought to my question from a few weeks ago?”
Marcus narrowed his eyes as he dug around in his brain, trying to remember what Sherlock had asked him. And that’s when it hit him. That question about friendship. Honestly, he had forgotten about it. It was just such an abstract concept to think seriously about. He’d never sat down and considered all the factors that went into “friendship.” He was just friends with people and that was it.
“I’m still not sure,” he said but knew Sherlock wouldn’t be satisfied leaving it just at that. “Maybe friendship is… helping each other out?” He considered Joan his friend, and he’d given her free coffee earlier because she needed it. And both she and Sherlock had helped him with the charity event just the other day.
“Hmm…” Sherlock didn’t look convinced. “If that were true, I’d be friends with any random stranger who held the door open for me.” At that moment, the elevator doors opened up to their destination. Sherlock took a step forward and put his hand against the metal door to keep it from closing before Marcus could exit. The detective gave him a pointed look.
“Point taken,” Marcus said. “I need some more time to think about it, okay?”
Of all the people to run into on a Friday night at the convenience store, he was not expecting it to be Sherlock and Joan. It had been a few days since he’d seen either of them at all, having actually had a quiet week in the police station to catch up on paperwork and such. So Marcus certainly wasn’t expecting Sherlock to slide up to him while he was browsing the potato chip selection and whisper “pretend you don’t know me.”
“Why?” he whispered back. He was more interested in deciding between regular or BBQ potato chips.
“Watson and I are conducting some surveillance,” he replied as he picked up a bag of sour cream and onion-flavored chips and grimaced.
“You’re working a case?”
“Freelancing,” Sherlock answered. He looked displeased with selection of shiny bags of potato chips in front of them. “Got a tip about some racketeering going on with the owners of this store, but if the crisp selection is anything to go by, I doubt the veracity of our informant.”
Marcus grabbed two small bags of BBQ chips. “I’m sure you and Joan will figure it out.” From the corner of his eye, he could see Joan engrossed in reading a magazine by the cash register, so he wasn’t sure she was as interested in freelancing as Sherlock was.
“Would you like to join in on our case? You seem to not have any plans tonight,” Sherlock added. He scooted over a step to inspect the Pringles instead. His tone was casual, but it had an undercurrent of arrogance that Marcus was familiar with.
“Excuse me,” Marcus said, perhaps a bit too loud as Sherlock sent him a use-your-inside-voice glare. “How do you know I’m not doing anything tonight? Maybe I have lots of plans.” He lowered his voice, but he couldn’t hide how offended he was at the implication. Sure, he actually had just intended to spend a quiet night at home watching movies, but something about Sherlock’s tone made him feel like that was a bad thing.
Sherlock opened his mouth and looked like he was going to argue back, but then thought better of it. It wasn’t often he showed so much restraint. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have assumed. The offer, however, was genuine. We don’t mind another skilled detective helping us wrap up a case.”
Four years ago, Sherlock never would have apologized for a harsh remark. He probably wouldn’t even have realized what he said was rude. And compliments weren’t part of his vocabulary either. Sherlock was all business, all the time it seemed.
But he’d changed over the past few years. Softened a bit.
“Thanks for the offer,” Marcus said. He realized he was too quick to get angry too. “But I’m actually pretty tired, so I was looking forward to a quiet night alone.” It probably sounded like he was brushing Sherlock off, but it was the truth.
“Okay,” Sherlock said. “Enjoy your night.”
Marcus nodded and turned to pay for his food.
“Oh wait,” Sherlock called out, actually raising his voice to a normal tone. “Are those BBQ crisps any good?”
Marcus almost laughed. “I thought I was supposed to pretend I don’t know you,” he answered quickly. Sherlock just shrugged without an explanation. From the corner of his eye, he could see Joan chatting with the man at the cash register. “Yeah,” he answered. “BBQ flavor is pretty good. You should try it.”
“Detective Bell,” Sherlock said as soon as the elevator doors shut. “Do you think I’m too forward?” He practically spat out the word forward and yet still managed to enunciate each sound as if it were something disgusting he was trying to remove from between his teeth.
Clearly Sherlock was not happy. This elevator ride up to their suspect’s residence was going to feel much, much longer than it actually was.
“Uh, well…” Marcus cleared his throat to buy time. How to be tactful about this?
“Yes,” he answered bluntly. There really wasn’t any need to be tactful when dealing with Sherlock. Better to just rip the proverbial band-aid off and get it over with.
Sherlock narrowed his eyes and glared at the ascending numbers on the elevator’s display.
“So what happened?” Marcus had to ask. Sherlock would be impossible to work with if he was this agitated while they talked to the suspect.
“Watson did not appreciate some advice I gave her earlier and accused me of not having any boundaries or respect.” Sherlock paused like he was taking a moment to weigh each one of his words before continuing. “I loathe to think she is right.”
“You do have a tendency to be very blunt about things,” Marcus said. “Did she even ask for advice?”
“No. But it was still relevant advice she needed to hear,” Sherlock said in defense of himself.
Marcus knew both of them were stubborn, and if they were annoyed with each other, it was best if he just stayed out of it. They’d work out the problem eventually. If their friendship and partnership didn’t dissolve after the summer Sherlock ran away to London without a word, then it could probably withstand anything.
“Just give her some space and then apologize,” Marcus said right as the elevator dinged as it reached their destination.
“But I wasn’t wrong,” Sherlock insisted. He stepped out of the elevator with wide steps, like he was just trying to get away from the whole situation and back into the mindset of their case.
“So? Apologize anyway.” Marcus was only a step behind.
Sherlock didn’t say anything as he started walking down the hallway, but Marcus was pretty sure Sherlock understood.
The view from the roof of the brownstone was impressive. The building was luckily located in a spot that wasn’t completely obstructed with skyscrapers, so Marcus was able to see this sprawling part of the city but also the clear night sky. The Fourth of July fireworks would be starting soon.
“Nice party,” Marcus said as Joan walked over and leaned against the roof’s railing beside him.
“Thanks,” she answered casually. Compared to Sherlock, Joan kept her expressions more subdued. She always gave off an air of complete self-control. But underneath all that, he could tell that she was enjoying the party too. “I haven’t thrown a party since undergrad, so I was a bit worried about how things would go. But everything seems fine so far, right?”
Marcus laughed. “I’m having a good time.”
“Really? You’re over here by yourself.”
Marcus pointed to the other side of the roof. “I’m just trying to avoid the beehive.”
Now it was Joan’s turn to laugh. “They don’t bother anyone. Half the time it’s easy to forget they’re even up here. Except for that one time honey started leaking through the ceiling.”
After some small talk, the two of them settled into a comfortable silence as they looked out at the city under the darkening sky. Soon, the big firework celebration started and the rest of the occupants of the party got quiet to watch. The mix of colors lit up the sky, captivating everyone with the flashes and the swirls and the bangs, even though a fireworks display wasn’t anything they’d never seen before.
Marcus glanced over to Joan and he was glad to see her looking happy. Genuinely happy. He thought the past year of dealing with the fallout of Sherlock’s relapse and the mess with his father had taken its toll on Joan. Not to mention having to deal with the death of her boyfriend before that. This business wasn’t easy, and Joan was just as bad, if not worse than Sherlock was when it came to opening up about things. But Marcus hoped she knew that he would be there to lean on for support if she ever needed it. He’d be there for the bad times as well as the good times.
“You know, I think this is the first time I’ve had time to watch the fireworks in years,” Marcus said as the last of the colorful display fizzled away. “They were brighter than I remember.”
“I haven’t seen them in a while either,” Joan replied. Now that the sky was filled with the residual smoke, she turned so that she was facing the rest of the people on the roof. Slowly conversation was resuming itself all around them. Sherlock was chatting with Alfredo; Ms. Hudson with one of Joan’s friends.
“Thanks for inviting me,” Marcus said, suddenly feeling grateful that he was included here too.
“You’re always welcome,” Joan smiled.
“Fancy meeting you here.”
The familiar voice made Marcus turn around. He was surprised to see Sherlock standing behind him in the mall. He couldn’t imagine Sherlock going out and actually shopping like most people. He’d always pegged him as more of an online shopper.
“Hi Sherlock. Working a case?” He was only sort of half-joking.
Sherlock shook his head. “Not today. Are you?” Marcus couldn’t tell if that was a joke or not.
“Nah, I’m just here to buy a tie. I’ve got my cousin’s wedding to go to next week,” he explained to which Sherlock just nodded as if he’d already figured that all out. And maybe he had. Marcus wouldn’t be surprised. “So what brings you to the mall?”
“I’m looking for a bakery that was highly recommended. I’ve heard it was in this shopping center but I’ve yet to locate a map to point me in the right direction.” Sherlock looked around at the people passing by, stopping at different stores, and Marcus suddenly had the image of Sherlock as a character in a video game quest who had no clue what was going on. It was funny but he tried not to laugh. He didn’t think Sherlock would appreciate the comparison.
“The place that sells donuts and cupcakes? It’s two floors up.” He’d been there a few times whenever he wanted a snack. They happened to be standing near the elevators so he gestured towards them. He didn’t mind showing Sherlock the way.
“I’m going to a meeting,” Sherlock explained without prompting as the elevator doors closed. “And I thought bringing snacks would be a nice gesture, yes?”
Marcus nodded. He didn’t often talk to Sherlock about his sobriety or the meetings or anything like that. He didn’t have any experience with that sort of thing, so he never felt like he could relate. Even after Sherlock’s relapse, he didn’t quite know how to offer comfort or support.
“How are things?” he finally asks a bit awkwardly. He never really could tell whether Sherlock would prefer him to ask or not.
Sherlock hesitated as he contemplated the question. “Better than before. It’s a struggle that never ends—like a slowly dripping faucet—but some days are better than others.”
Marcus didn’t know what to say, so he just went with the feeling that was the most sincere. “If there’s anything you need, just know I’m always willing to help.”
The elevator dinged as it reached the third floor. Sherlock turned towards him, looking as seriously thankful as Marcus had ever seen him. “That means a lot to me,” he said.
“You’d do the same if I was in the same situation.”
“I hope you never are, Marcus.”
The first thing Marcus did when stepping inside his apartment was to take off his shoes. The soles were covered in swamp mud from spending all afternoon out investigating a crime scene with Joan and Sherlock. He scratched a mosquito bite on his arm and wondered how he always got stuck on all the weird cases with the two consultants.
Not that he really minded too much. Work was work, but at least they made things more interesting.
Marcus went to the kitchen and rummaged around for some leftovers to eat. He was too tired to put more effort into dinner than required to press the buttons on his microwave. The couch was more comfortable than the kitchen table, so he settled onto the cushions with his plate in his lap.
There was a twinge in his shoulder that he tried to ignore. It was the last remnants of the complications from his gunshot wound a few years ago. He had considered himself lucky that he’d been able to fully recover and get back to work, when he knew things could have turned out much worse. These days, the only reminder he had of getting shot was the occasional ache he had when he was tired.
Once he was done eating, he rolled his shoulder to loosen it up. He had learned to live with the injury and its repercussions. One split-second moment had changed things. His work, his sense of security, his friendship with Sherlock.
He scratched another mosquito bite and decided it was time to take a shower.
Life goes on.
Marcus watched Joan punch the ground floor button a little too forcefully and then the elevator doors closed, trapping him inside with Sherlock and Joan for the next few minutes. The tension inside was thick enough to be suffocating. So he just stared straight ahead at the wall and hoped the office building’s elevator moved fast.
“Are you angry with me?” Joan said, breaking the silence.
“Angry isn’t the word I’d use,” Sherlock replied back coolly. “Irate perhaps. Or irritated. Maybe livid. The English language provides many words to describe the feeli—”
“You’ve made your point,” Joan cut him off before he could continue.
Sherlock stiffened up before turning ever so slightly towards Marcus, who felt trapped. “I think I’m perfectly justified in this instance. Don’t you agree, Detective Bell?”
“I’m staying out of this,” Marcus answered and took another step towards the corner of the elevator. He knew a no-win situation when he saw one. There was no reason to get in between an argument that would only make everyone more unhappy.
So he listened as Sherlock and Joan continued to discuss their difference of opinion over how they were handling the case. Even though Marcus was trying to stay out of it, he was starting to get annoyed himself, considering that he was also working the case with them, which they seemed to have forgotten.
Marcus finally gave up. “Hey,” he interrupted. “Let’s just all agree to disagree for now. We have a case to solve and this isn’t helping.”
Both Sherlock and Joan turned to look at him, and the intensity of their gazes almost made him want to take a step back. But at the same moment, the elevator came to a stop at the ground floor of the building. The doors opened up to give them all an escape.
“You know, I think it was about two months ago Sherlock asked me a question,” Marcus told them. “A question about friendship. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I thought I had an answer. But, you know, now I think that answer might be wrong.”
He stepped off the elevator and didn’t wait for them to follow. He needed some space to cool off and get away for a while.
With the argument still on his mind, Marcus spent the rest of the day investigating leads on his own. He didn’t check on the two of them, but he was sure Sherlock and Joan were not working together either. Captain Gregson gave him a concerned look when he was in the office but didn’t step in to intervene. Marcus was grateful because he didn’t really want to talk about the elevator ride. It still annoyed him to think about it.
Instead, he was thinking more about friendship. Sherlock had asked him that question—“what does friendship mean to you?”—and Marcus hadn’t really taken it seriously. Not at the time. But now, as he sat at his desk waiting for a response from a few leads, the question was rattling around in his head again. It seemed simple at first glance. Friendship: a relationship with people you care about.
But truthfully, it was so much more complicated than that. Particularly, the relationship part of that definition.
Marcus tapped his pencil on his desk. It was easy to be nice to anyone, it was easy to help out someone in need, it was easy to just talk about the weather and laugh at a few jokes. But a relationship was deeper than that. There was a push and a pull, an ebb and a flow. A relationship took two people working together to build something better than what they started with.
Frankly, it was exhausting.
His phone ringing suddenly jolted him away from his thoughts. The voice on the other end delivered the information he needed, and Marcus bolted up from his seat as soon as everything clicked together. With a quick thanks, he hung up the phone and grabbed his stuff.
There was a break in the case and his coworkers needed to know, even if they were probably all still angry with each other.
With the case solved and the murderer in handcuffs, Marcus thought it was probably time to settle the friendship question once and for all. He brought a peace offering of pizza and knocked on the familiar brownstone door.
Joan answered the door, looking surprised but it only took a moment for a smile to spread across her face. “You didn’t have to bring us pizza,” she said. “Sherlock and I were the ones who were unprofessional earlier today.” She motioned for him to come inside.
Marcus shrugged. “Just thought it would be a nice gesture anyway. Is Sherlock home too?”
Joan sighed. “He’s upstairs doing… well I’m not exactly sure what he’s doing but it sounds like it involves rearranging furniture.” She gave her head a little exasperated shake.
“You two still angry with each other?” he asked as he set the pizza down on the table, brushing a few papers out of the way so they wouldn’t have greasy stains on them later.
“We talked about the issue,” Joan answered with her own sort of resigned shrug, “and we’ve agreed to disagree for now. Sorry you had to deal with us earlier.”
He couldn’t stop a little knowing smile from spreading across his face, all that frustration from earlier just melting away. “I’m used to it. And you both have to put up with me all the time too,” he joked.
“I’ll get Sherlock for you,” Joan said, walking to the bottom of the staircase before calling out for her partner’s attention. There wasn’t an answer right away, so neither were sure if he had heard anything.
“I’ll just go up there,” Marcus said and started his way up the stairs. But about halfway up, Sherlock finally made his appearance at the top of the staircase. He looked slightly winded from whatever he had been doing, but he was good at covering that up.
“Detective Bell.” Sherlock’s standard form of greeting. “I believe I owe you an apology.”
Marcus shook his head as he paused halfway up the staircase, leaning against the railing. “Forget it. Actually I came here to give you my answer on friendship. It shouldn’t have taken me so long, but well, that’s the way it turned out. I didn’t realize it was such a hard question at first.” Sherlock just watched him with a curious face, and even Joan stayed at the bottom of the stairs to hear what he had to say.
“With most people I think, friendship is two steps forward and one step back,” Marcus began. “There’s always good times, you know, where you’re all having fun together or helping each other out. But inevitably there’s always some times when you disagree and argue and you’re not moving forward together but moving backwards. That’s okay though. I think that’s natural.”
He looked at both Sherlock and Joan while he was speaking. Both had a similar neutral expression on their faces, like they definitely understood what he was saying but they weren’t entirely convinced yet. So he just kept on with his explanation.
“But being friends with you two is like two steps forward, a jump to the left, three cartwheels, and then a backflip.”
That description got a laugh out of Joan and a bit of a smile from Sherlock.
“I never know exactly what I’m going to get with the two of you,” Marcus continued. “But that’s okay. Even if the journey is a bit different than so-called ‘normal’ friendships, the outcome is still the same. You guys are supportive during the good and the bad times, just like I’d be willing to do for you both too. I think friendship is just people working together to build something better than what they started with. And with you guys, I feel like there’s a lot we can all learn from each other. So… uh yeah, that’s what friendship means to me.” Marcus wrapped up what had somehow turned into an impromptu speech, suddenly feeling a bit embarrassed about how much he’d rambled on.
“An interesting hypothesis,” Sherlock said, looking thoughtful.
“He’s right, you know,” Joan answered. “Life with you is a complex acrobatic routine.”
“It keeps life exciting,” Marcus said with a laugh.
Sherlock just raised an eyebrow in an amused response.
“Marcus brought us pizza,” Joan said, switching the subject. “We should eat it before it gets cold. You gonna join us?” She directed the question to Sherlock, apparently assuming Marcus was going to stay for a while.
“I would like that.”
So the three of them hung out down in the kitchen, talking and laughing. The morning’s argument was just a memory of the past, not even important anymore. It was nice just to spend time together, chatting about anything that popped into their heads.
“…And that’s why it’s always a good idea to know how to escape from a pair of handcuffs,” Sherlock said, finishing up the story he was sharing about an incident from his summer in London a few years ago.
Marcus narrowed his eyes. “Did that really happen or are you just pulling my leg?”
“I’m sure if you called up Kitty, she would vouch for the story,” Joan said as she grabbed another slice of pizza. “It doesn’t surprise me though.”
“You know,” Sherlock began, “one of my associates sent me some new handcuffs the other day. I think it’s about time we tested them out. Would you care to join us? Watson might be able to beat her record of 3 minutes and 22 seconds.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Joan deadpanned.
Marcus laughed. How often did he get an offer to willingly handcuff himself in order to figure out the best way to pick the lock? “I like you guys, but not enough for all that kinky stuff, okay?”
“It’s a very useful skill,” Sherlock insisted.
“You’re missing out,” Joan teased.
“Why can’t we just watch a movie?” Marcus asked even though he knew the answer.
Friendship was a weird thing. Friendship with Sherlock and Joan was even weirder. But well, he couldn’t imagine it being any different.