Author's Note: This is set after season 3. Also, if you believe I'm Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I'm as flattered as you are disturbed.
When Sherlock Holmes texted John Watson to ask if he wouldn't mind putting him up for a few days while 221B was fumigated, he hadn't minded at all. In fact, he had been somewhat excited, for truth be told, he often missed his odd roommate. Life with Sherlock meant that, at the very least, a day was never dull. Now, however, he deeply regretted inviting the consulting detective anywhere near his abode.
"What idiot had the brilliant idea of giving him that blasted thing?" John hissed to Mary in the kitchen while they washed dishes. Mary merely arched a brow. "It's a child's toy."
"And your point?" Mary asked as she dried a plate.
John smirked. "Touché."
A loud tweet came from the living room, making him cringe and drop the cutlery he was rinsing.
"John," Mary warned.
"He's only doing it to annoy me."
"Then don't get annoyed." Mary collected the forks from the sink and rinsed them off for her husband as another shrill noise came from the other room.
Taking a deep breath, John steeled his features and stepped into the living room to find his best friend lounging on the couch, surrounded by enough newspaper pages to easily be mistaken as a homeless man. Sherlock innocently raised his brows as he took in John's expression. "No."
"No?" John repeated before clearing his throat and settling down in his chair as nonchalantly as he could feign.
"You're not making any sense, Sherlock, not that that should surprise me." He dared a glance up at his friend to find the other man's face annoyingly placid.
"I meant no, I don't have a whistle."
"Why would I think you had a whistle?" John asked, holding up one of the newspaper pages to pretend he was reading.
"Because of this."
John would never know how the other man managed to so quickly blow on a whistle then hide it again, most likely in his dressing gown pocket. Attempting to turn his glare into a rueful shake of the head, John folded the newspaper on his lap. "How is Mrs. Hudson?"
"Mrs. Hudson. Your landlady. Our friend."
"How on earth would I know how to answer that preposterous question?" Sherlock growled.
There was a time when Sherlock's contrarian nature would drive John up the wall, and while Sherlock's apparent lack of understanding of human behavior sometimes still irked him, he had learned a great deal of patience from such obtuse conversations. "You've seen her more recently than I have."
"Mmm," Sherlock grunted, rolling over onto his back, like a cat bored with its dull owner. "That was over twenty-four hours ago."
"Has it really just been a day?"
"Tea?" Mary asked as she entered the room, surveying the two men with a smile.
"Yes, please," Sherlock replied.
"John?" she asked, turning to face her husband, whose eyes flickered to her growing belly.
"You shouldn't be waiting on us."
"Nonsense." She playfully swatted at his shoulder. "I won't be treated like something delicate just because I've an alien inside of me."
"Be a dear and put two lumps in mine, won't you?" Sherlock asked.
Sherlock looked over his shoulder and gave Mary a genuine smile that she returned before heading into the kitchen, and the exchange was so natural and domestic that John did a double-take. Mary wasn't the type to put two lumps into anything and Sherlock wasn't the type to offer appreciative smiles. Something was going on here.
Waiting until his wife was out of earshot, John leaned forward in his chair, lowering his voice to a hiss. "What was that, hmm?"
"What was what now?" Sherlock asked, sitting up.
"Oh, don't play dumb, it doesn't suit you."
"It doesn't, does it? Speaking of, that sweater makes your pallor look jaundiced. It's off. You have no idea how badly Mary wants to take a pair of scissors to it. It's like the mustache all over again."
John's eyes darted down to his mustard-brown sweater then back to his best friend in surprise. "She never said."
"That's the point of gossip, John. It must happen with the other party absent. Where's my violin?"
"You and Mary…" John's face screwed up as he heard the kettle start to boil in the kitchen, shaking his head. "You gossip about me?"
"And come to think of it," Sherlock continued, "Where's any of my stuff?"
"What else does she say?"
"You took my eyeballs, didn't you?"
"They're right in your head where you left them," John hissed.
"No, not those, my–"
"Everything's back at the house. I told you to bring whatever you needed but apparently that was giving you too much responsibility."
Sherlock glowered. "You've been talking to Mycroft, haven't you?"
"What?" John leaned back in his chair at his friend's sudden shift in demeanor. "No."
"You certainly sound enough like him."
"Do you gossip with Mary about that, too? Poor John," he said, imitating Sherlock's deep tones, "losing his hair, he'll look like Mycroft soon?"
Sherlock looked disgusted as he eyed his friend's hairline. "You're not losing your hair."
"I may be."
"One day I might."
"Unlikely, given the lack of hair growth in other regions."
John nearly fell out of his chair then whipped his head around to make sure his wife was still out of the room before leaning in as close as he could. "She's given you updates on my body hair?"
"Whatever prompted you to that conclusion?"
"Oh, so you've just got cameras in my bathroom then, hmm?" John hissed. "So that you can spy on me naked?"
A tea tray rattled and Sherlock smiled in greeting as both men looked up to notice Mary standing in the entryway. "Seems I entered at the right moment."
"Precisely," Sherlock replied, taking his teacup from her.
John, for his part, was so flustered that he could hardly manage an I'll explain later expression as he muttered "thank you" to his wife and took a cup and saucer.
"So," Mary chirped as she sat down on the couch beside her husband with her own cup of tea, looking between the two with a playful light in her eyes. "Why are we spying on each other naked?"
"No, no, no," John stumbled. "No one's perving on anybody."
"If only that were true," Sherlock drawled as he stirred his cup.
"Oh what now?" John snapped.
Sherlock's blue eyes darted from side to side before fixing on his friend. "Well… isn't it obvious?"
John blinked several times before looking to Mary for assistance that he didn't receive, for she had an irritatingly pleasant look on her face, as if she were enjoying herself.
Sherlock sighed and rolled his eyes. "Mrs. Hudson has had it in for Gary for ages now. Even Mary has noticed."
"It's true," the blonde agreed, peering at her confused husband's profile. "Makes me a bit sad, really."
"I'm sorry," John began, furrowing his brow, "but who is Gary?"
"He means Lestrade, dear."
"Why?" Sherlock asked. "Who had I said?"
"Never mind." Mary waved a hand. "Don't drink your tea yet, it's still too hot."
Sherlock obediently set his tea and saucer aside and John couldn't help but muse over the power his wife seemed to hold to be able to get his best friend to do anything without him being contrary. Or maybe it was just her mothering instincts kicking in as she approached her due date.
"I'm sorry, but, you're telling me that Mrs. Hudson has a crush on Greg?"
Sherlock held up a finger. "That's it! That's the one! Greg!"
"Isn't it bittersweet?" Mary added. "She always gussies herself up when he comes round."
"I would be more careful with your empathy, Mary," Sherlock suggested, lying back down. "He isn't necessarily put off by her."
The statement hung in the air for several shocked moments before Mary snorted and started laughing, prompting a slow chuckle from Sherlock. John smiled, looking between the two with surprise. "Seriously?"
"Have I ever lied, John?" Sherlock asked then immediately sobered. "Don't answer that."
"Oh!" Mary chirped as she noted the time and reached for the remote. "The game's on, John."
Both ignored their houseguest's groan as they turned on the TV to a broadcast of Manchester United v. Chelsea. "Not more baseball," Sherlock griped.
"Football," Mary corrected without looking, already intensely focused on the screen.
"Whatever. They're all about dashing around balls and looking like an idiot."
"Then why don't you find something else to do to occupy yourself while we enjoy it?" John snipped. The villainous smile that grew on his friend's face made him immediately regret his words.
Sixty minutes into the game and John was convinced that he'd already lost half of his hearing, if not all, for every time the referee made a call, Sherlock blew on his whistle. He seemed to take special delight in blowing harder to make John jump after a period of quiet. What was perhaps even more worrisome than his friend's childish behavior was the fact that Mary never reacted even once.
As if in direct response to this, the taller man escalated his antics. With his dressing gown nearly flying behind him, he leaped off the couch and landed in front of the television with a smile as if he was about to spoil something like a surprise party for John.
The doctor raised a brow. "I'm sorry, did you need something?"
The smile didn't leave Sherlock's face. "No."
The taller man's eyes slid to the woman's. "Hi, Mary."
"Hello, dear." She smiled warmly, prompting John to furrow his brow, his gaze darting between the two as the sportscaster shouted excitedly over a foul that no one in the room had been able to see.
"Only," John began, "You're standing. In the way. Of the tele."
"You just missed a perfect opportunity to rhyme, though I suppose, technically, that was an off-rhyme."
"Either way, would you mind moving?"
Sherlock scowled at his best friend before dropping to the ground and rising again on his palms in an impressive handstand. "Look at me, Mary!" he crowed.
For a few seconds, John forgot that the other man was blocking the TV and instead studied just how straight his back was. "When—When did you learn to do that?"
"The Russian Circus," he grunted. "Eighteen months ago. Maybe nineteen."
"I always wanted to be in the circus," Mary mused.
John smiled at her, never having known that tidbit, and decided that rather than asking his friend to move, he'd wait until his arms gave out. Judging by the redness of Sherlock's face, it wouldn't be long now. He was wrong. Though his arms started to tremble and his legs swayed, Sherlock didn't budge, even after his shirt became untucked and fell down a ways.
"Sherlock," John ventured, his voice tight with annoyance as yet another foul was called.
"Only, I can see your belly button."
"Don't be weird, dear," Mary offered, shifting on the couch.
"I'm not being weird," John snapped, "It's his belly button. He hates it when anyone sees his belly button. I saw it once and he told me that if I didn't delete it from my brain he would kill me!"
Sherlock dropped onto his knees with a loud thump, narrowing his eyes at the smaller man as he tugged his shirt back into place. "Well now that you've made me self-conscious…"
"Honestly, John," Mary mumbled. "Now who wants to see who naked?"
"Gordon and Mrs. Hudson, that's who," Sherlock announced as he hopped back to his feet, prompting Mary to snort in laughter. "Oh look," he continued, turning about to face the screen while still completely blocking it from their view. "He's been ejected from the field."
"What?" John asked. "Who?"
"Yes, I know," the doctor continued through grit teeth. "Which man?"
"The one in red. With hair. He seems very cross." With that, he hunched over the TV and blew his whistle as loud as he could, making John jump in his seat and cover his ears. "There," Sherlock announced, straightening. "That seems to have fixed it. He's gone now."
John hoped his friend could feel the pain his glare was trying to inflict upon his back. Perhaps he did, for Sherlock twirled the silken ties of his dressing gown, spun about on one foot, as if dancing, then waltzed back over to his spot on the couch.
"You know," John mused in a strained voice, "we may as well just get a cat and save us the trouble."
"Are you insinuating that my presence is akin to that of a feline?"
"Nope. No, not at all." John replied. "I could grab a cat and chuck it across the room…" he lowered his voice so that he was talking under his breath, "swing it by it's tail…"
"John," Mary scolded.
"I don't have a tail, John," Sherlock serenely reminded him, looking up at the ceiling as if he were bored again.
"But you do have a belly button."
Sherlock whipped his head to him at that, narrowing his eyes. "Meaning?"
"Well, at the very least, that you actually are human and came from a womb—"
"Mycroft's story was always that I was found in a dumpster. Go on."
John blinked and brushed the comment aside. "My point is: blackmail."
"Oh please," Mary groaned. "You're threatening to show pictures of a grown man's naval to people as some form of blackmail?"
"Don't be fooled, Mary, none such photos exist," Sherlock reassured, folding his arms behind his head and fixing his gaze on the ceiling once more.
John twisted his lips and looked down at his feet. "That's… not what Mrs. Hudson said…"
"So now that innocent old landlady, who has saved both of your lives, I may add," Mary said, sitting up straight, "is being accused of taking incriminating photos of a mark we all have?"
His brows raised, John shook his head, his eyes still fixed to the floor. "I never said that. Not specifically."
"Oh have a little tact, John," Sherlock lowly crooned, "when your wife has an umbilical cord attaching her to your child through her belly button as we speak. Honestly, sometimes you can be so insensitive."
John's face twisted as he scooted to the edge of his seat. "That is so far from the – hang on, her?"
"Sherlock means 'bright hair,' you know. If she is born blonde, it would be perfectly suiting."
"She?" He pivoted to face is wife. "Is there something you're not telling me? I thought we were going to wait to find out when it was born."
"It?" Sherlock repeated, disgusted.
Mary shrugged with a smile. "We are."
John looked back to his friend. "But you think it's a girl?"
"And you think I'm a cat."
"I never said–"
"I'm going to take a picture looking up your nose as you sleep and put it up on tumblr with the words 'hairy Watson nose is hairy' and watch with glee as it becomes the meme of the century."
"What the bloody hell even is a meme?" John quipped, his brow crumpled in confusion.
"It's like a unit of digital culture," Mary explained, turning down the TV as the game ended and the final score was recorded. "Images and phrases and fads passed on from user to user. A bunch of strangers in dialogue with each other."
"Really, John, that mustache did age you. Keep up with the times," Sherlock drawled, tossing his whistle up and down as if it were a ball.
Closing his eyes, John took a moment to calm himself before he made more threats about belly buttons and cats and focused instead on the final score.
"Once again, if you're just tuning in," the sportscaster was saying, "Wayne Rooney has been issued a–"
John nearly seized and jumped out of his chair. Realizing that he was letting his friend get the better of him, he morphed his sudden movement into an awkward stretch, pretending that had been his intent all along. The broadcast ended and Mary cast him an amused, approving look.
"That was excellent," Sherlock enthused as the scene cut to a review of the game set in a studio. "Change the channel. Let's find another one."
"Knock yourself out," John replied, tossing the remote onto his friend's chest. "I've got a meal to make."
Heading into the kitchen, John worked his jaw, trying to get his ears to pop so that he could hear properly again. Mary lingered in the living room a few minutes longer before following after him. "Need any help?"
"Come again?" he asked.
"I said do you—"
"It's just that I seem to have lost my hearing."
Mary's lips formed a thin line. "Don't."
"Don't. Just… don't. If you react, you're giving him exactly what he wants."
"Which is?" John asked, pulling a bag of tomatoes out from the refrigerator.
"Attention." Mary replied, as if it were the most obvious answer.
"You know," John sighed, setting the bag down on the counter. "You're right. Why should I pay him an ounce when he's already getting so much from you?"
"And how do you figure that?"
"Is that one lump or two?" he asked.
Mary sighed and closed the distance between them. "If you can't bear sharing me with your best friend, who is my friend, too, by the way, and having your game interrupted then how do you think you're going to handle being a father?"
John parted his lips to reply but no words came out.
"It can't be about you anymore, or us," she continued. "It'll be about the baby. Our baby." She smiled and he stiffly held out an arm to embrace her before kissing the top of her head.
"Yes," he said softly, "yes, of course. I know that."
"Do you? Really?"
"Yes, I…" His eyes had drifted to the rubbish bin where the package for a whistle was peeking out from beneath a paper towel. "Hang on." He pulled back to examine her features suspiciously at arm's length. "You planned this, didn't you?"
Mary laughed nervously. "What?"
"You and him. You gave him the whistle. You turned him lose and let him dirty the place up and be a total prat to test me."
"Why would you say that?" she asked.
Pursing his lips, he leaned over and plucked the package out of the trash and held it up to her. Mary held a hand to her forehead, her face scrunched in playful embarrassment. "I can't bend over like I used to or I'd have hidden it better."
John sighed through his nose before tossing the packaging back into the bin and fixing his wife with an exasperated expression.
"Oh, come off it," Mary teased. "You know you love it." She smooched him on the lips before heading back into the living room.
John stood where he was for several moments, musing over the fact that his wife had enlisted his best friend to be as annoying as possible all just to drive him towards a brief reality check that was completely unnecessary to begin with. He was well aware of just how much fatherhood would alter his life, as if having to look after Sherlock Holmes wasn't enough training. What he hadn't counted on, however, was the lengths his wife and friend would go to entertain themselves under the guise of having his best interests at heart.
Shifting his weight and placing his hands on his hips, he was about to march back into the other room and tell them what for when he caught sight of the whistle package. Mary was right. While he didn't always feel like one, he was surrounded by brilliant, damaged minds that couldn't rest if they tried. And he wouldn't have it any other way.
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